In his ongoing attempt to persuade believers that “Christianity is an illusion,” John Loftus recently offered What Best Debunks Christianity and Religion. Loftus concludes there’s many reasons. In fact, “there isn’t even a bad personal reason to reject the Christian faith,” which amounts to a roulette wheel of potential dumb excuses. Nevertheless, Loftus isolates two arguments that should be more persuasive in refuting Christianity. They are:
- That Jesus was a myth
- That humans do not have a free will
That second one caught my eye as I’ve never heard it leveled persuasively. Loftus explains:
“The second one is to argue that human beings do not have free will, that our brains determine everything we think and do, that we are totally influenced by our DNA and environment. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably the case, but believers have a much deeper psychological need to believe they have free will than they do about their religious faith. They will only come to think they don’t have free will until after they reject their religious faith. “
The author then quotes a friend who uses this apologetic:
“The entire Christian edifice stands on the need of salvation through faith that Jesus died to atone for our sins. There can be no sin without responsibility; and no responsibility if sins were caused by conditions beyond control.” (bold mine)
While Loftus concedes this may not be the best approach, mainly because Christians are so intellectually lazy and dishonest, the idea provoked several follow-up observations and questions, which I proffer randomly here:
- If “our brains determine everything we think and do,” then that belief is also determined by my brain. So I’m “determined” to believe / disbelieve either way, right?
- If “we are totally influenced by our DNA and environment,” then my belief or disbelief in God is simply a byproduct of “DNA and environment.” Which, once again, means I’m “determined” to believe either way, right?
- If my genetics determine what I believe, then why should I change what I believe, or prefer one belief over another? And aren’t those changes / preferences themselves just byproducts of “DNA and environment”?
- Since the vast majority of Americans believe in some type of God or Supreme Being, wouldn’t that indicate an evolutionary edge? In other words, our “survival gene” has predisposed us toward religion for the perpetuation of our species.
- The very suggestions that my beliefs may be Right or Wrong presupposes some Truth outside my brain / DNA. In other words, it’s not just about my programming, but about a body of Truth I ought to align myself with.
- If I’m not responsible for my actions and every behavior or belief can be traced back to DNA, on what grounds can we compellingly argue against any belief or behavior? As biochemist Michael Behe argues in Darwin’s Black Box, “It is scientifically unsound to make any assumptions of the way things ought to be,” which includes the way I ought to act or believe.
- If I CAN reject Christianity in favor of atheism, doesn’t this prove I have a free will? If it does, then that undermines the biological predetermination argument. If it doesn’t, then this is an exercise in sophistry and nonsense, and there is no compelling reason for me to choose or NOT choose one or the other. It’s all in the soup.
Point being, I don’t see how the argument that humans DO NOT have a free will and are NOT responsible for their actions is in any way compellingly debunks Christianity. Am I wrong?