Answering Spotlight Ministries.

Spotlight Ministries is a fanatical British Christian organization dedicated to attacking all of Christianity’s supposed enemies, such as abortionists, Ouija boards, Wicca, and New Agers. Fortunately, their design skills are non-existent, ensuring that few people will suffer their eyesore of a site to read their propaganda. Sadly, their “expertise” in such nonsense is spread by other fanatical Christians.

Spotlight Ministries thought to tackle the issue of atheism, not with more bullshit, but with a series of questions “that Christians can use when witnessing to sceptics.” Not sure if that last misspelling is a Britishism, a typo, or a pun in extremely bad taste. Anyway, let us examine these questions.

If we live in a purely material world then how do we account for the many supernatural experiences that people have, such as encounters with God, ghosts, spirits, etc (obviously, exactly what all of these encounters actually are are all interpreted by different people in different ways but the fact remains that people encounter things that do not fit a purely naturalistic world view). Are we really to conclude that all of these people are delusional, deceptive, or mad? Or could it be that people are having real encounters with real supernatural beings not explainable through purely scientific mediums?

If anything, this is a false dilemma. One could say that they are all delusional. One could say that everything they perceive is completely real. But one could also say that, while they perceived something real, they believe they perceive God, ghosts, spirits, because these concepts are part of the culture in which they were raised. For example, people who live in societies where reincarnation is accepted will tend to accept reincarnation as an explanation for various child behaviour, while people who live in societies where reincarnation is not accepted will not use reincarnation as an explanation.

The general principle here is that our culture, our beliefs, our language, all mold how we filter perceptions and interpret phenomena. I do not have to believe that these people are delusional to argue that they did not see God, ghosts, or spirits. God, ghosts, spirits, do not exist. But I do not deny that these people perceived something real. Sure, many of these people may be lying for profit, or may be delusional, but I don’t have to believe that they were all (or even that some were) lying or delusional in order to accept what they say. All I have to say is that I believe their interpretation is false, while respecting the integrity of their experiences.

Where does all of the incredibly complex information come from that is stored within DNA? Information doesn’t just appear by itself. Someone has to put it there.

I’ve already talked about this before. The color of flowers, our blood content, the shape of clouds, are all pieces of information. The color of flowers informs us about the composition of the soil, our blood contents inform us of our health, the shape of clouds informs us about the weather. And all these forms of information “just appeared by themselves,” without a specified sender or recipient, without even the knowledge that one day some being may decipher it and make use of it. So the premise of this question is nonsense.

The correct answer, of course, is through a process of evolution. DNA is, as Richard Dawkins eloquently wrote, a Book of the Dead archiving the range of environments within which a species’ ancestors lived. This “incredibly complex information” is no more designed than the color of flowers, the shape of clouds or our blood contents.

Why does humanity seem to have an innate desire and need to worship something, or someone? Why is there such a universal religious sense within humanity?

Another question which I have already refuted in the past. The assumption that the religious sense is “universal” is incorrect.

Furthermore, the question is badly formulated. “Humanity” is a completely abstract concept, thus it has no desires or needs. Only individual human beings, and by extension human societies, exist. If the question is about individuals, then it is clearly false, as there are billions of people who have no desire or need to worship anything. If the question is about human societies, then again it is incorrect. In fact, it is unclear how this even applies to the United States, for instance, since only 21% of Americans actually go to church (that is to say, “worship”). How does 21%, a small minority, becomes a sign of universality? Through a magic hat trick?

Isn’t it a bit extreme to assert “God does not exist”? To make such a statement you would have to have complete knowledge and to have been everywhere in the universe. Maybe God dwells somewhere in the universe you don’t know of or have not been to? Is that possible?

This is a very, very strange question, since Christians do not believe God is material or dwells anywhere in the universe. What kind of weird paganism is Spotlight Ministries involved in? I thought they believed paganism was a terrible Satanist cult. Hypocrisy anyone?

No, God by definition does not “dwell somewhere in the universe.” God is supposed to be non-material and ineffable. What a silly question. And no one needs complete knowledge of everything in the universe to make positive statements, especially not the Christians who make ignorant statements about evolution and yet don’t agonize thinking that they might be missing some evidence somewhere in the universe (see next question).

What about the evidence of design in all of creation? It is obvious that anything that is designed has to have an intelligent creator. For example, a computer never came about by mere accident, but had to have been thought out and planned by an intelligent designer. It is the same with creation, and more so, as the natural world is far more complicated than anything humanity can create.

There is no correlation between design and complexity. Humans have designed very simple things as well as very complex things, and continue to do both. So nothing about the presence or absence can be inferred from complexity.

But more importantly, the argument fails because it contradicts itself. If the natural world is “far more complicated” than anything humanity has ever created, then the inductive basis for inferring design is irrelevant, because all we have as evidence are the things humans produce. If all these things humans have designed are nothing like nature, then they surely cannot help us deduce that nature was designed. If anything, this “argument” proves that nature could not possibly have been designed.

Where does all the matter in the universe come from?

It does not “come from” anything. The universe is all there is, and matter cannot be created or destroyed. What a bizarre question.

How do you explain the changed lives of millions of people throughout history who testify to a life changing experience with Jesus Christ?

This is a similar question to that asked about God and ghosts. Because people claim that they had an experience of Jesus does not mean I have to accept that it was actually Jesus. People say the same thing about Allah, YHWH, Buddha, dead relatives or friends, and so on. Does that mean all these things exist too?

There is nothing to “explain.” These people had experiences which they attributed to Jesus Christ, because that is what they were culturally indoctrinated to assign it to.

How do we account for the historical Person of Jesus Christ? He has made such an impact upon history that we even measure our calendar by Him. 2000 years on and millions still follow Him.

There was no such person. It is a myth. Failure to understand the importance of myths and demanding that every myth refer to something real seems to be a common spiritual and intellectual failure amongst Christians. No matter how much you try to explain it to them, they just don’t get it. Trying to get a Christian to be rational is like giving your cat a bath.

4 thoughts on “Answering Spotlight Ministries.

  1. P.M.Lawrence October 16, 2011 at 03:42

    Not only is “sceptic” a Britishism – and so, not a misspelling – it is actually, like most such, more authentic than Americanisms based on trying to go back to a “correct” original. The thing is, there are no originals, only histories and pathways. Just as substituting “color” for “colour” is an attempt to go back to a Latin “original”, when English actually got it by way of Old French (see the Modern French “couleur”), “skeptic” is an attempt to go back to a Greek “original”, when English actually got it by way of Latin, which generally altered Greek “k”s to “c”s (and the attempt is bound to fail anyway, if only from losing the Greek word endings). In each case, valuable etymology is lost from the living word, not gained, by “correcting” things.

    I for one would have more confidence in the magazine “Skeptical Inquirer” if it could spell either “sceptical” or “enquirer” in a way that showed appreciation for where things were really coming from.

    • Francois Tremblay October 17, 2011 at 02:05

      Huh. The Online Etymology Dictionary says you’re right. Oh well. I still say it vaguely sounds like an insult.

      • P.M.Lawrence October 17, 2011 at 08:03

        No, it sounds just the same as the American variant, as it has a hard “c”. If it had a soft “c”, it would sound like “septic”, which is a pejorative (cockney rhyming slang, “septic” = “septic tank” = “yank”; here in Australia, this is often abbreviated as “seppo”).

  2. Alison Randall October 16, 2011 at 22:30

    The idea that thousands of people have “changed their lives” because of Jesus Christ is deliberately vague and does not seem to directly claim anything but change itself. Some people have become drug addicts. Some people have entered cults. Some people have given up drugs, etc etc.

    But one change I have no problem arguing against completely is that, because of [the belief in] Jesus Christ, anyone anywhere has changed from homosexual to heterosexual–or is living a happy or authentic life going through the motions of a hetero marriage. You can say “thousands of changed lives” all you want, but until you claim something–an actual something, it’s a ridiculous airy statement that means even less than “Values Voter.”

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