So one of the most popular atheists on the planet responded to my email. Maybe you’ve heard of Matt Dillahunty. Regardless, I pitched my We Are The Evidence argument for Christianity. Here’s his response:
Your argument is flawed at every point,
1. If the Holy Spirit exists, Christianity is true.
– You haven’t defined your terms and, when you do, you’ll see that this all leads to a circular argument. You’ll ultimately be saying “IF this particular thing within Christianity is true then Christianity is true…”
2. The Holy Spirit exists
– There’s no good reason to believe this is true.
You then go on to an ‘argumentum ad populum’ fallacy.
2.5 billion claims does not mean the claim is true. The plural of anecdote isn’t ‘data’. The truth isn’t impacted by the number of people who believe something or the strength of their conviction.
You’ve literally done NOTHING here, but fail to define terms, create an ultimately circular argument based on those incomplete definitions and then add a fallacious appeal to popularity.
This was a monumental waste of my time. Hopefully, you’ll learn something and it won’t be a waste of yours.
Go. Google. Learn fallacies. Learn why appealing to popularity is a fallacy and why fallacies matter.
Meanwhile, you’ll need to make 2.5 billion the magic number or you’ll have to also agree with the 2 billion Muslims out there. Does the extra 500m make Christianity true…and if the demographic ever flips so that there are more Mulsims…are you going to believe that religion?
Seriously. The ONLY way this is worth my time is if you actually learn something and then share it.
– Matt Dillahunty
His first criticism calls my argument circular. That I’m arguing in a circle. If you are alive, you have a mother. Is that valid? If we can prove that the Holy Spirit exists, I think we can conclude that Christianity is true.
Circular reasoning is often of the form: “A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.” Circularity can be difficult to detect if it involves a longer chain of propositions.
Does this apply to my argument? If the Holy spirit exists, Christianity is true. The Holy spirit exists, therefore Christianity is true. I don’t think it does. I think the first premise is undeniable. And the conclusion logically follows the premises.
The Holy spirit exists. A
Christianity is true. B
B is true because A is true. But A is true because of the witnesses. We are not saying that the Holy Spirit exists because Christianity is true. We are saying that the Holy Spirit exists because we have 2.5 billion witnesses of it. Each witness is a claim that the Holy Spirit exists. And claims are evidence. And consistent claims are good evidence.
His second criticism is that I commit the appeal to the people fallacy.
According to Wikipedia, this fallacy is In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition must be true because many or most people believe it, often concisely encapsulated as: “If many believe so, it is so”.
On the surface, he’s right. Essentially I say that 2.5 billion people believe in something, it may be true. But it’s not that simple. We’re not saying that this group of people believe that God exists, or even that Christianity is true. We’re saying that each person is a witness to the Holy Spirit. Each claim is a witness to the same supernatural entity.
What about Islam? There are 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. Would this not apply in the same way as Matt suggested in his email? First off, the Quran affirms the Gospel of Jesus. Secondly, the God of Islam is not a personal God. The Holy Spirit mentioned in the Quran is not something poured out to all believers. So 1.8 billion Muslims are simply 1.8 billion people who believe Islam is true. They are not all claiming to have experiences with the supernatural. But let’s say they were, that would be 1.8 billion more reasons to believe that naturalism fails, and atheism is false.