Recently I recieved some correspondence from one of the visitors to ExChristian.Net. Below is the article he submitted. The article is reproduced in full without editing.
I'm working with a couple of friends on a compilation of Christian Rationalizations. I think these compliment your "Cliche Answers Christians use when faced with Ex-Christians or other Non-Believers". Here's the content... do with it what you desire.
Basic Apologetic Rationalizations
I propose that there are 14 (maybe more) basic rationalizations used by Christian apologists to explain away the impossibilities, inconsistencies, violence and conflicting verses of their Holy Bible. These 14 rationalizations (Christians might call them explanations) can be offered any time a Christian apologist is confronted with some aspect of a story in their "good book" that is extraordinary or otherwise difficult to explain.
1. Miracle. The trump card of all excuses, claiming something is simply one of God's miracles is almost always available to the Christian seeking to explain something out of the ordinary in the bible. He is God Almighty after all.
2. Bible logic. Christians can apply their own form of "bible logic" if the need arises. Suppose the bible asserts something that seems utterly impossible (see Genesis for examples). Since you can't prove something *did not* happen (e.g. whole earth flood) nor can it be proven that something *does not* exist (e.g. heaven, hell) Christian's can claim, using bible logic, that it is acceptable to believe the otherwise impossible biblical story.
3. "It's a mystery". Christian's can explain out of the ordinary biblical phenomenon as just another one of God's mysteries - yet another one of those "Why?" questions that will be answered for them when they get to heaven.
4. Allegory. As we just learned in item 3, God has some very mysterious ways. He even used allegory in many of the stories he passed along in the bible. The divinely inspired bible is simply being "non-literal" in many places. It doesn't have to make sense - it's allegorical.
5. Bible contradiction. A technique used only by the more sophisticated Christians, they can find a contradictory passage in the bible and use it to discount another presumably extraordinary claim, thus making it unknown and therefore subject to God's mystery (see item three, above). Ignore the notion that a divinely inspired work would actually have contradictions - we don't understand His purpose.
6. Open interpretation. Many Christians simply make the bible mean what they want it to mean. Sure, God created the universe in 6 days but those were "God days". But Noah lived to be over 600 years old? No problem, those are not real years. The flood - sure, it says "the whole of the earth" was covered in rain but that makes no sense to me so I'll just make it a heavy rain that caused a local flood.
7. Incomplete. A rather bold technique because it will often lead to a follow-on question, Christians can always acknowledge that the bible is incomplete (the bible even has verses for this - John 20:30-31, John 21:25) and use this idea to explain how something might be missing or why some things might make little or no sense.
8. Then and now. To explain some of the less "loving" passages in the bible Christians can always use the "then and now" excuse. This explains why God once needed to punish his children (mostly Old Testament stuff) but now (i.e. New Testament) no longer needs to be so harsh.
9. Most current verse. When necessary and applicable, Christians can use a more current bible verse to explain how God really thinks. Sure, slavery was OK in the Old Testament but the more current Gospels preach God's loving words of brotherly love. This works very well with inconsistent bible verses, as the "most current" verse is the one God really offers for the record.
10. Loving father - tough love. Christians can easily explain away many of the more harsh stories and statements in the bible by reminding us that God sometimes needs to use tough love with his children - just as any good father might do with a child that needs to learn some lessons the hard way.
11. Add stuff. Sometimes Christians like to make their explanations sound reasonable or logical. Since using "miracles" (#1) or "God's mystery" (#3) as their explanation will not achieve a logical explanation some Christians will embellish the bible account to explain what is otherwise unsound. For example, while it is not explicitly mentioned in the bible Christians can easily claim that an earthquake caused the parting of the Red Sea, thus making it seem logical.
12. Fallible humans. This is a good one. You see, Christians can always claim that God's word was originally perfect but he did deliver his words to humans who, after all, are imperfect. Any odd description such as the earth being flat or the sun standing still for 24 hours is a human interpretation of God's perfect message.
13. Focusing on the negative. When defending the bible Christians can claim that the antagonist is simply focusing on the negative elements of the bible - even when there is so much positive to focus on. This can be followed with a kind, loving quote to illustrate the point.
14. "You don't have faith because you are a sinner". Christian's might go so far as to explain away the critical explorations and questions of others by rationalizing that anyone who does not have "the gift of faith" is deprived of that gift because they are inherently a sinner. Romans 1:18 - 1:32 covers this nicely for them.
Posted here 06/16/2002
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)