Dr. Rauser Asks: Should Christians Help Atheists Make Better Arguments?
He asks us to consider two scholars, Chris the Christian philosopher and Alan the atheist philosopher.
Alan writes a new paper in which he argues that God does not exist based on the problem of evil. He sends a draft to his friend Chris and asks Chris for feedback. Chris reads through the paper and identifies a serious problem. Chris writes a critique in which he identifies the problem and identifies a way to make the argument much stronger. As a result Chris has a reasonable ground to believe that many people may read the revised paper and come to the conviction that God doesn’t exist based in part on the alterations suggested by Chris. However, Chris still believes God does exist and that anybody who concludes that God doesn’t exist will have adopted a false belief about a very important issue. And so Chris must accept that based on arguments he has fine-tuned many people will adopt false beliefs about a very important issue. Has Chris done anything wrong by offering that critique to Alan?
He concludes by saying:
Christian academics rarely if ever stop to ask this question. But maybe they should. LINK.
But can we really imagine a scenario where the Chris’s of the world do not offer any help to the Alan’s of the world? I think not, not eventually. For if Alan gets his paper published without Chris’s help then eventually other Christian philosophers will write rebuttals to it. So the Chris’s of the world are merely speeding up the process of learning for the Alan’s of the world. They are being kind neighbors in the pursuit of truth. Eventually the Alan’s of the world will learn of any good rebuttals anyway, which will in turn help them in the future. So the Chris’s of the world might as well help speed the process along, especially if the Chris’s of the world think that the truth is on their side, as they do.
Actually, we’re all learning whenever we discuss or debate the issues that divide us, all of us. So it’s literally unavoidable to help one another. Otherwise, Christian apologists should never respond to atheists like me, for by doing so they’re helping us gain a better understanding of how to construct better arguments. And yet, if Christian intellectuals do not respond, we can descend unopposed on the “ignorant.” So which is better? Not to respond, and in the process our arguments will work their woe on believers who don’t know better? Or to respond, which will make our arguments stronger in the long run?
Rather than thinking of this as a no win situation, think of it as a win-win situation. Doing so will help us all get at the truth faster. So the Chris’s of the world should voluntarily help the Alan’s of the world, just as the Alan’s of the world should voluntarily help the Chris’s of the world. It’s going to take place one way or another anyway.
Just come to me for the answers next time folks. Ask the guy who habitually thinks outside the box.