1. That Jesus never existed.
This one takes the cake. The simple answer to this claim is that the historical textual evidence for Jesus is convincing. It is convincing in its earliness and abundance… it is really that simple. Professor Paul Maier remarks that “The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence.”
Agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman compares those who deny Jesus ever existing to six-day creationists: “These views are so extreme (that Jesus did not exist) and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.” The late non-Christian scholar Maurice Casey is most direct:
“This view [that Jesus didn’t exist] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. …. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.”
In agreement with Maurice is atheist historian Tim O’Niell who argues that he “can safely claim that most atheists are historically illiterate… [when] atheists comment about history or, worse, try to use history in debates about religion, they are usually doing so with a grasp of the subject that is stunted at about high school level.”
It would appear that many atheists like to drive the point home that many Christians reject, for example, evolutionary theory; something, they correctly claim, runs counter to the overwhelming consensus of scientists. However, out of the other side of his mouth the same atheist gives credence to the idea that Jesus never existed as a historical figure. This claim, it is worth noting, would be laughed out of professional circles everywhere. In other words, this atheist only likes the data that he thinks agrees with him but not that which doesn’t. This is the definition of a double standard.
2. That the Bible is not historical.
Whether one believes the Bible to be God’s inspired word or not, morally repulsive or morally exemplary, cool or weird it remains a historical set (one may argue library) of documents that stretches some 1500 years over history. As a result we have entire disciplines known as Biblical Studies/ Biblical archeology/ New or Old Testament Studies/ Theology etc. that emphasize studying the Bible through an academic lens. In fact, some 8500 members from more than 80 countries represent the Society of Biblical Literature. These people, often professors and experts in the fields, make their living as a result of this line of work. This would not be the case if professional historians would take the same view of fundamentalist atheists who argue the Bible is analogous to a questionable works of the likes of the Life of Apollonius of Tyana.
3. That atheists don’t have faith.
When an atheist use the word “faith” he usually means belief in the face of evidence. This, argues the atheist, constitutes “religious” belief, as if one can simply define the human phenomenon of religion as a single entity. However, this is blind faith, the atheist is not mistaken by noting that. However, what the atheist does fail to note is that blind faith is not the only definition of the term. Faith can mean “evidence based.” This is to say that I have enough faith to put trust into something for sufficient reasons. I believe the plane will get me to my destination in alive. I come to this conclusion from interacting with flight-crash statistics, passenger testimony, professional opinion, and so forth. However, I cannot prove, in the sense of mathematical certainty, that the plane will get me to my destination. In other words, I have “faith” believing that it will. This is what Christians have argued is the correct application of the term to their beliefs. This is what atheists also have.
How do we know that the atheist has this kind of faith? Simple. He has faith in his naturalism (most atheists are naturalists). Naturalists believe that the physical universe is all that there is. That is a faith position; he cannot prove it, he argues for it and assumes it. Philosophers have persuasively argued that even though we believe we exist in a world as conscious creatures such a belief requires a level of faith. There is no 100% airtight piece of evidence that we can use to show that the external world exists external to our own mind. This is an unprovable metaphysical truth that we all assume is rational to hold, namely that the external world of trees and tables really exist. In fact, there are philosophers who have denied this, they are known as solipsists. Philosophers who believe the external world exists are known as objective realists. Therefore, without even considering atheism, Hinduism, theism, Taoism, or whatever else, we are all exercising faith.
4. You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist.
Yes you can. William Craig explains that “of course you can prove something does not exist. We can prove, for example, that there are no living tyrannosaurus Rex on the face of the Earth, we can prove that there are no Muslims of the United States senate, or as Dr. Shook’s says if you can show that something is a self-contradiction, that there are no married bachelors. So, this is an atheist line that you hear on a popular level all the time, but that the sophisticated atheists don’t take, because it is easy to prove that things don’t exist.”
5. That philosophy is dead.
Famous scientist, and atheist, Stephen Hawking made the claim that “Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.”
This is a powerful statement… the only problem is that it is entirely self-refuting. To argue that “philosophy is dead” is to make a philosophical statement. It is to argue that life is meaningless and that, as a result, asking big existential questions is a pointless exercise. However, that is a philosophical position, it is a philosophy. It is a viewpoint that, one may argue, parallels the philosophy of nihilism. The point being is that Hawking’s entire view of reality is constructed upon a philosophy of naturalism. In other words, he maintains a framework of beliefs, a philosophy, of reality. We needn’t say much more than Professor John Lennox:
“For any scientist… to disparage philosophy on the one hand, and then at once adopt a self-contradictory philosophical stance on the other, is not the wisest thing to do – especially at the beginning of a book that is designed to be convincing.”