The evidence for physicalism—that the mind is the brain—has become nothing less than overwhelming. This evidence exists not only in the highest levels of research—where scientists can now point to, and manipulate, the exact location in our grey matter where essential characteristics lie—but it exists in the everyday lives of millions of people who take psychotropic drugs on a daily basis. These users will tell you drugs such as Prozac, lithium, Paxil and Ritalin don't just give them a slight pick-me-up, they make them an entirely different person…. Only by ignoring 200 years of medical progress can we believe that we simply inhabit our bodies—dropping by on the way to something better. It isn't "I have a brain," it's "I am a brain."
How would you respond to his argument? What is the Christian view of the body, and does the efficacy of psychotropic drugs refute it? What are the implications of the writer’s physicalist view?
Tell us what you think in the comments below, then we’ll hear from Brett on Thursday.
In “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer,” the author asks many questions about the problem of evil, sin, and hell, but since we’ve covered those things a few times before, I thought #25 would be an interesting one for you. It touches on a subject I don’t think we’ve practiced explaining in a challenge yet: hermeneutics:
25 – In the book of Luke chapter 19 verse 27, Jesus says, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." This seems pretty clear that Jesus would have Christians kill all non-believers. How do you explain this? Convert them or kill them, right?
If an atheist challenged you with this, could you explain how biblical interpretation works, along with your answer to his question? Tell us what you would say below, then we’ll hear Alan’s response on Thursday.
Christians fight too hard for inerrancy and inspiration. I am willing to suspend judgment on whether or not the Bible is the "Word of God," yet I can still benefit from its teachings where applicable. I can also believe in Christ without buying that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. Factually, it is indeed a library of books written by men; whether they were "inspired" by God is a matter entirely up to one's opinion.
I believe Beethoven's music is inspired, but I can't prove it. Nor does that change anything about it.
Does the question of whether or not the Bible is inspired make a difference? Should it be debated? Give us your thoughts in the comments below, then we’ll hear Brett’s response on Thursday.
I must say, I loved the responses to this week's challenge. If you haven't read them, go read them. And yes, I think there's a lot of wisdom in dealing with the mockery of this challenge first. Here's my response to some of the issues brought up:
Here’s an email I received recently containing a story meant to show that Genesis is “drivel”:
Monotheistic (or tri-theistic) morons call their preposterous absurd deity God, which is utterly without form or substance, consists of nothing whatever, cannot exist AS anything whatever, and therefore IS nothing (no thing) whatever.
Once upon a time when there was no time, there was nothing (also known as Nonthing). Nonthing was all there was. There was nothing else. Nada, nil, zero, zip, zilch. Nonthing had been existing forever, had never not existed, had no beginning, and therefore never began to exist. Nonthing was all-knowing, yet, having never begun to exist, it had no memory of its first realization that it did exist, much less that it had been existing forever.
But Nonthing somehow suddenly realized that it existed and had been existing forever… Bored out of its nonskull, Nonthing said to itself (there being no one else around), saying, “This sitting around all by myself doing nothing for seventy billion trillion quadrillion eons or so is getting old…. I will make a universe to play with! But with what will I make it? I am all there is…. Aha! I've got it! I will make a universe from all this nothingness surrounding me!”
And so, with an inexhaustible supply of nothingness for building material, Nonthing made the entire universe, complete with stars, galaxies, solar systems, planets, comets, quasars, black holes, dark matter, assorted cosmic flotsam and jetsam and interstellar junk, and a flat planet Earth.
Was the universe made from nothingness? Do ducks cluck? Do chickens quack? Do whales use toilets? Do sharks wear dentures?
In general, what’s the best way to respond to this kind of thing? Secondly, can you explain where this man went wrong in his reasoning and/or his characterization of the Christian God? There’s a pretty basic logical fallacy happening here, and he’s opened himself up to a huge counter-challenge. Can you find a legitimate challenge in his story, restate it for him in a more serious form, and then respond to it?
God is defined as an Almighty being. An Almighty being does not require atonement (for “sins”). Therefore if God requires atonement as the Bible says, he is imperfect and not Almighty.... In other words, philosophically, the need for atonement indicates a lack of something, which detracts from the perfection which God should have.
Can you clear this up for the questioner? Can you explain what atonement is, why it's necessary, and how it relates to God's perfection? This isn't an overly tricky one, but it does require both an understanding of the doctrine and an ability to explain it clearly and concisely. Give it a try in the comments below, then we'll hear from Brett on Thursday.