Posts Tagged ‘atheism’
Found this at a blog I read. The blogger is giving a brief review of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God:
Keller responds to the ubiquitous atheist chorus: “If a good and powerful God exists, he would not allow pointless evil, but because there is much unjustifiable, pointless evil in the world, the traditional good and powerful God could not exist.”
Keller: “This reasoning is, of course, fallacious. Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one. Again we see lurking within supposedly hard-nosed skepticism an enormous faith in one’s own cognitive faculties. If our minds can’t plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can’t be any! This is blind faith of a high order.” “Many assume that if there were good reasons for the existence of evil, they would be accessible to our minds…but why should that be the case?” Keller says, essentially, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it is not there!
HT: Reformed Reader
Here’s a funny story from the Christian Post: “No God” Ads to Hit London Buses. I guess Dick and his friends at the British Humanist Association are raising money (or have already and continue to do so) in order to put advertisements on city buses. Says the article:
The slogan is the brainchild of the British Humanist Association (BHA), an atheist organization that seeks to promote a world without religion where people are “free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values.”Among the campaign’s supporters is well-known atheist activist Richard Dawkins, who promised to match BHA’s goal of raising $9,000 for the ads, according to BBC.
But the group has now raised $59,000 on its own.
“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children,” Dawkins told BBC.
What are they putting on the ads? “There’s Probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” These people are not real atheists; they’re posers. They don’t even have the sack to say: “There is No God.” Wimps. Chickens. Cowards. If they were real atheists they would state up front what they really mean and they would not be ashamed of it. I have now totally lost all respect for Dick and I will henceforth not be purchasing any more of his books.
Notice that the article calls this the ‘brainchild’ of the BHA. So all those ‘Brites’ and this is the best they could come up with? There probably is no God? Seriously? That is absolute genius! Really, these people need to stop embarrassing themselves in public.
Here all this time I thought he was serious. He’s just joking around. On the other hand, one person did get something right:
“This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life,” said the Rev. Jenny Ellis, a Methodist spirituality and discipleship officer.
I don’t know what a spirituality and discipleship officer is, but I think she is right. If such a thing gets people to thinking about whether or not such a statement is true, then this is a good thing. I have a suspicion we’re all going to find out some day anyhow whether we like it or not. We should say thanks to all the fake-atheists for doing some evangelism for us in the meantime.
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I am providing a link to the website of Ravi Zacharias and an essay called The New Atheism and Morality. Among the arguments espoused by atheists is one that suggests ‘morality is possible quite apart from the reality of God.’ In other words, atheists claim that their morality, moral as it no doubt is, does not require a transcendent God in order for it to be moral or for they themselves to be, indeed, moral people. They can, it is argued, still be people of mercy, grace, peace and a whole host of other virtues and neither belief in God nor the reality of God is necessary for such virtues to be present in their lives. So the author, JM Njoroge, writes:
A good example of a claim against religion that does not sit well with the facts of reality is issued in the form of a challenge to the believer to “name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.” (1) We are expected to agree that no such action or statement exists and then conclude that morality does not depend on God.
The problem is that the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that a non-believer can utter moral statements and even act morally does not logically lead to the conclusion that morality does not depend on God, much less that God does not exist. This challenge misunderstands the believer’s position on the relationship between morality and God.
The believer’s claim is that the world owes its existence to a moral God. All human beings are moral agents created in God’s image and are expected to recognize right from wrong because they all reflect God’s moral character. The fact that human beings are the kinds of creatures that can recognize the moral imperatives that are part of the very fabric of the universe argues strongly against naturalism.
He points out, next, the logical conclusion to this way of thinking:
Unlike the laws of nature, which even inanimate objects obey, moral imperatives appeal to our will and invite us to make real decisions on real moral issues. The only other parallel experience we have of dos and don’ts comes from our minds. Thus when the atheist rejects God while insisting on the validity of morality, he is merely rejecting the cause while clinging to the effect.
Without God, morality is reduced to whatever mode of behavior human beings happen to favor either because of their genetic makeup or conventional accords. There is no action that is objectively right or wrong. Rape, hate, murder and other such acts are only wrong because they have been deemed to be so in the course of human evolution.
Had human evolution taken a different course, these acts might well have been the valued elements of our moral code. Even Nazi morality would be right had the Nazis succeeded in their quest for world dominance. Unless the world contains behavioral guidelines that transcend human decisions and genetic determinism, there is no reason why anyone should object to such conclusions.
The point is that the human will is not sufficient enough to make such moral decisions. The fact that ‘religious people fail’ and ‘unreligious people succeed’ at morality is not, then, a valid argument against God. If one were to examine the evidence, what conclusion would he come to? Would we think, given this climate, that human beings are in fact capable of making moral choices apart from God? We have trouble making moral choices in concert with God! The point here is not that Christians fail or that atheists succeed. The real point is: Where did that which determines our success or failure come from in the first place? Mere naturalism? Mere ‘I-gotta-good-feeling-about-thisism?’ The human heart? Pshaw!
There has to be someone or something guiding and determining our code of conduct otherwise we are all rogues. In and of ourselves, we end up with unguided anarchy and we have seen where that ends up in this world, in the wrong hands, and what happens to those who stand in the way.
This is a short essay, but worth the 5 minutes or so required to read it.
For further reading on this subject of the New Atheism, see the following essays published in the March/April 2008 issue of Modern Reformation. (Some links may require a subscription to MR or the MR website.)
A quick post tonight. This is Ravi Zacharias speaking about Jesus. The video is somewhat iffy, but the audio is great.
In this second clip, Ravi Zacharias speaks about How we know There is a God.
Soli Deo Gloria!
I got to thinking about this last night. I was driving around town with my wife and son. We were on our way to scout a couple of houses that are on the market. We drove past a business that is noted for its habit of posting Scripture verses on its sign. Last night this verse that was posted (I have highlighted the part that was on the sign, and included more context for it):
After the two days he left for Galilee. 44(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed. This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.
What is ironic about this, is that in Jesus’ day people would not believe, as he says, unless they saw signs (‘miraculous’ here is assumed, but not a necessary translation of the Greek). We have come a long way. Worse, they were seeing signs all around and still not believing in Jesus.
Here are some excerpts from a friend of mine who has been responding to my post on Edward Tingley’s essay in Touchstone. My friend Jeff wrote:
There’s no solid evidence Jesus actually even existed. Most historians believe he did, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. I think he probably did. History doesn’t have to “account for … his death” because, well, everyone dies. This isn’t particularly difficult. If he lived, he died. Now, his resurrection? Well, history doesn’t have to “account for” this because it’s such a fantastical notion to say it actually happened, that it’s you that needs to show it occurred, not the other way around. All we have now is an ancient book full of metaphors, allegories and questionable, contradictory eyewitness accounts. For instance, Paul doesn’t even mention the empty tomb in his accounts, while Matthew, Luke and John all have differing accounts of the women’s visit to the tomb. And, of all the religions in the world, Christians are the only ones who believe Jesus was resurrected. It appears you’re in the minority on this one, so it’s going to take more than an old book full of fantastical stories and contradictory information to prove a person was, literally, risen from the dead. (Jeff, my emphasis)
Another poster wrote:
It’s completely different from believing any of those things. None of the above are in any way unusual, nor do they invoke the supernatural. Believing that someone came back to life – something that has never been reliably proven to have happened before or since – requires far stronger evidence than mere eye witness, just as the many instances of the gods appearing in ancient Roman history would require more evidence than believing that, say, a certain man was emperor or king at a certain time period. (Vitamin, my emphasis)
Isn’t it ironic that in Jesus’ day people would not believe in him unless they saw signs and that in our day it is these very signs that actually turn people away from faith and belief that God was working in and through Jesus? But I wonder this: If the miraculous were a part of our visible culture would the results be any different for Jeff or Vitamin?
Here’s another question: If people find it so hard to believe in God or Jesus because they find it so impossible to believe in the miraculous, is it possible to believe in God or Jesus quite apart from the miraculous? I’ll direct you to two passages, both from John. First, 10:34-39:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? 35If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (NIV)
These comments Jesus made to his opponents.
Second, John 14:8-14:
8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV)
These comments Jesus made to his followers. Two different groups of people and two different situations and circumstances and yet the same comment is made. The question is, why would Jesus make such a statement? (Here, ‘miracles’ is the GK erga in both 10:38 and 14:11 which, according to DA Carson, ‘includes, by should probably not be restricted to, the ‘miracles’ (Commentary on John 400.) In commenting on 14:11, Carson writes this:
If they still find it difficult to penetrate the meaning of his words, at the very least they should believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. Similar appear is made twice elsewhere, but the context of this passage makes it the most telling of the three. Jesus’ point is not simply that displays of supernatural power frequently prove convincing, but that the miracles themselves are signs. Thoughtful meditation on, say, the turning of the water into wine, the multiplication of the loaves or on the raising of Lazarus will disclose what these miracles signify: viz. that the saving kingdom of Godis at work in the ministry of Jesus, and this in ways tied to his very person. The miracles are non-verbal Christological signposts” (495).
In other words, the miracles or signs, were never meant to be stumbling blocks, nor were they ever meant to be ends of themselves. They were pointing beyond themselves to something or someone. But maybe I can say this: Maybe Jesus was saying that belief in Him, as who he claimed to be, is possible apart from a strict scientific belief in miracles. For example, take the miracles out of the Bible (as Thomas Jefferson is famous for having done), is anything of the Gospel message lost? If Jesus had never turned water into wine, would his message be anything less than what it is? If Jesus had never raised Lazarus, would the Christian message of hope be anything less than what it is? (I don’t think it would.) The only miracles in the Bible that are necessary, as far as I can tell, are Creation and the Resurrection of Jesus. And yet the miracles are not excluded from the Bible: There they are, front and center, in your face. If I were in the business of starting a religion, I certainly would not include elements in it that would necessarily cause people to stumble or cause them to not want to follow me. Then again, maybe there is a point to this. Here’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
Here, in fact, Paul seems to be saying that it is not the miraculous that we preach at all nor is it the miraculous that necessarily inclines one to faith in Christ. Rather, it is the crucifixion of Jesus.
To be sure, I think we run into problems when we come to the resurrection of Jesus. For even Paul says that if you take away the Resurrection, we are hopeless, to be pitied more than anyone: 1 Corinthians 15. Ironically, again, this is the place where my friends above seem to be stymied: “None of the above are in any way unusual, nor do they invoke the supernatural. Believing that someone came back to life – something that has never been reliably proven to have happened before or since – requires far stronger evidence than mere eye witness.” I suppose they might complain about miraculous healings of blind men, or deaf men, or of demon possessed women, but the complaint alwayscomes back to the Resurrection of Jesus. They just cannot get beyond it. Isn’t it ironic that the cornerstone of Christian faith, belief in the Resurrection, is the one place (aside from ex nihilo creation) so strenuously attacked and dismissed by unbelievers? No; actually it isn’t. In fact, I submit that the resurrection must be mythologized (or dismissed) by unbelievers if their complaints about Christians and dismissal of Jesus Christ is to carry any weight at all.
So why would the disciples invent a story like this? I mean, there is nothing easier to prove than that someone has died and been buried and not raised from the dead (which is why Jeff, even though he claims he believes Jesus was an historical figure, and I suppose other atheists, must claim that there is a concern or debate about whether or not Jesus was even a real historical figure). There’s a cemetery across from house. I can prove hundreds of people have not resurrected simply by pointing to their burial plots (or, worse, by digging up their coffins and finding their corpses; or by asking my neighbors if they have seen any of them alive after their death). Why didn’t the Romans or the Jewish leadership at the time make similar efforts to disprove this claim of Resurrection? This might account for why the early Christians did not make a monument of the tomb of Jesus and why there is debate concerning where it actually was (is) (as if anyone cares): They didn’t mark it because he wasn’t there! But there is still the issue of the historical record of eyewitness accounts. Many claimed to see Jesus alive; we either have faith they were telling the truth or we do not. The question is: Why would they lie? What point could possibly be served by giving people a false hope about life after life after death?
This brings me back to the point of this post which is formed in two points.
First, is it possible to accept Jesus Christ apart from a strict scientific belief in miracles?
Second, why is it that ‘signs’ (perhaps miraculous signs) were, ‘back in the day,’ somewhat necessary for belief (validation of actions and words) and ‘in our day’ such a stumbling block to belief?
I am not here trying to prove the Resurrection of Jesus. I concede that, at some level, I am most certainly putting my trust in the eyewitness accounts of the act just as I am putting my faith in the eyewitness accounts that Plato was real or that Pharaoh was real. But why should the documents that record those historical events, of Jesus, be given any less weight or credibility than any other document written in that time that records the history of other historical figures or events?
PS–I guess another point I am trying to get across is that I wish atheists and agnostics would stop playing this game where they accuse Christians of believing in things that are, by their standards, ’impossible’ to prove, and saying that Christians are silly people for believing in an ancient book (what other source do we have for history?), and stop saying things like, ‘We cannot believe until we see evidence,’ and convincing themselves that they are someone impartial, truly dedicated scientific judges in these matters. (Another part of Tingley’s essay.) I wish atheists and agnostics would just admit that they don’t believe because they don’t want to believe, because they don’t want to be restricted and freed by the love of a holy God, and because they don’t want to be accountable to that God. In other words, I wish they would just admit that they don’t believe because they don’t want to and stop trying to convince themselves that they don’t believe because ‘there is no evidence’ for it or because they are somehow or other more illuminated or free thinking or enlightened than those who do. Pshaw!
Last evening’s post had something to do with atheism and whether or not God exists. (Actually, the essay and my comments concerning the essay were not about whether or not God exists, but you’ll have to read the essay by Tingley to discern that.
Anyhow, here is a youtube video featuring Ravi Zacharias. I haven’t spent too much time with Zacharias, but recently started listening to a series of lectures he gave I believe at Harvard. Also this is the same Zacharias who was recently burned at the stake by some, uh, Christians, because he did not use the proper doxology at the end of a prayer he prayed. There are, evidently, six parts to this and this is but the first. I may or may not post the other 5. I like this one tonight.
The latest issue of Touchstone journal has a great essay by Edward Tingley titled The Skeptical Inquirer. You can access the full essay here. The gist of the essay is that atheists and agnostics do not go far enough along in their journey to truly conclude that God or gods does or do not exist because they give up to easily once hard, physical evidence is declare unobtainable. What is amazing here is that Tingley concedes from the start there is no hard, physical evidence that would lead one to a belief in God and, by extension, that God cannot be sought by the mind, by reason. But he does not stop there and this is where the essay really takes off. He write:
All of those people who insist that they would reasonably believe on the basis of “a range of confirming evidence corroborated by a community of inquirers,” or if there were no other way to explain the universe, or if there were “evidence of miracles,” or if there were predictions of “natural disasters . . . using non-ambiguous language,” or archeological traces of biblical events, and all the rest of it, are truly not worth listening to. Truly not.”
Why? Because in all of this they are refusing to go where their own skeptical-scientific questioning actually points: not back to concrete evidence but on to the question of whether there is another way to answer the question, which they reject without further thought. Rather than ask it, they balk, they flinch, they bluster—they do everything that in their own eyes signals the dogmatic refuser of science.
Given the options that logic delivers, the one thing it is utterly ridiculous to do is to keep going on about “strong, compelling evidence [for] the existence of God.” Yet that is what both the agnostic and the atheist never stop talking about: the agnostic, so that he can believe; the atheist, as the crux of the belief he has already raced to. Pascal has left both behind him: This is patent “folly,” he says.
All of the people who say that they are “atheists through skepticism, because they see no evidence that God exists,” are patently unthinking people, since by virtue of turning skeptic, no one has ever done anything—employed any logic, gathered any evidence, found any way forward—to reach a conclusion about whether God exists. So these atheists have not reached a conclusion; they have made a commitment.
What the scientific skeptic ought to say is this: “Having examined the hard evidence, we declare that route to be exhausted. The only kind of evidence for God’s existence that counts will have to be of some other kind—if there is any other kind.” (Touchstone, June 2008, pp 20-26)
That is the question isn’t it? Do atheists and agnostics exhaust all possible avenues by which one might know whether or not there is a God or gods? Tingley concludes no. I won’t spoil all the fun by revealing his conclusion. This is heavy hitting stuff and I encourage you to check it out for yourself.
I wonder if, however, on this basis alone we can agree that those people ‘are truly not worth listening to.’ That might be a bit harsh and unnecessary, but he probably just means that we should pay no attention to their diatribes and their ‘convincing arguments for the non-existence of God’ because their arguments are non-arguments, their logic is pale (‘To talk like Russell after Pascal only makes you quaint and silly, because what the lack of evidence delivers is logically a question, not a conclusion.’ 22), full of folly, and they are, to be sure, unthinking people who have already made a commitment.
Anyhow, it’s a fantastic essay that requires, probably, two reads to get at all he saying. I know I have had some atheists visit here before so I’ll ask: Is there any other kind of evidence for the existice of God that might be explored? Have you continued to search or have you abandoned all hope? What say you?
PS–There is a ping below, but for more on this essay and the ‘other point of view,’ visit my friend Jeff at atheocracy where I have also responded to his post.
I just want you to know that I have arrived! After 13 months of blogging here at wordpress my moment is finally here: I have been linked at Wikipedia! That’s right, Wikipedia! I wrote this post about an Iranian film that is a sort of ‘response’ to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and it was linked at Wiki. In honor of this special occasion, I have a few people and things I’d like to thank. This is a special day for me and my family and I don’t want it to pass by without recognizing the people who have gotten me this far. (Any offers to write books can be sent to my email which I’m sure you can find somewhere on my blog.)
I’d like to thank my mom, my dad, my wife and sons, my dogs, my cat, all those who through the years have put up with my sarcasm and mood-swings, attempts to learn guitar, and preaching. The church I serve which tolerates my use of blogging conversations as sermon illustrations on Sundays. And, of course, Nader Talebzadeh for making such a ridiculous piece of film. I’d also like to thank my mother in law for buying our family a PS3 for Christmas this past year. Our PS2 was on the blink and wouldn’t play my Resident Evil (from the PS1) games any longer. Thanks to Sony for producing such an amazing machine as the PS3 which is backward compatible all the way to the days of Atari and Colecovision.
I’d like to thank the members of my band Mustard Seed for their undying patience while I took a 30 day hiatus from the band (we should be on Behind the Music soon). The break gave me time to think and blog. I’d like to thank BlackBerry for producing the amazing BlackBerry Pearl 8130 which enables me to check my blog’s hit count several hundred times a day. And I should also thank Verizon for packaging such an amazing price for all the features I enjoy: Unlimited texting, Internet access, free calls to other Verizon customers; and my son’s texting habit (that alone is worth the price).
At this point, you probably think I am merely rambling on, but I have a few more ‘thank-yous’ to mumble. I’d like to thank the Internet. If the internet didn’t exist I wouldn’t have all the stress I have in my life that comes from the pure pleasure of blogging and justifying to my wife and sons the time I waste doing it (not to mention the sex with my wife that I give up so that I can blog ). I’d like to than Al Gore for inventing the Internet and for bringing to our attention the plight of the polar ice caps. I’d like to thank Global Warming for giving me the opportunity to blog. I’d like to thank all the Darwinists and Atheists who make me laugh. I’d like to thank Barak Obama for continuing to quote Scripture during his
circus campaign for presidency as it gives me a lot to critique these critiques becomes eye-candy for all the word voyeurs around the world who care what an insignificant nobody like myself has to say about something so significant as a presidential election. I’d like to thank the 150-200 people who visit here every day and pump up my ego a little more. Imagine, several billion people in the world and I get a thrill when 200 of them happen to visit my blog each day. What a loser!
I’d like to thanks the House of Representatives of the United States and the Senate of the United States for continuing to do nothing about the price of gasoline in this country. It has given me much more time to stay at home and blog about things like Iranian Hollywood’s production of blasphemous films about Jesus (can you imagine the outrage and the bombings that would take place around the world if someone produced such a film about Muhammed?) I’d also like to thank them for not renewing President Bush’s tax cuts and yet still managing to pass a budget worth several trillion American Dollars. (That was smart!) That will give me even more time to sit at home and blog since I won’t have any money to spend. (Hey congress, you want to boost the economy? Do something about the price of fuel for our vehicles!)
I’d like to thank all my friends out there in the blogosphere who have intentionally or inadvertently linked to my blog either to criticize a post or in their blogroll. I am truly humbled and honored that you think so highly or lowly of me as the case may be. Truly, blogging has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life and I graduated magna cum laud from college, have three sons, a hot wife, and a well-paying job. Is this really what it has come to? Is this really my life?
I’d like to thank WordPress. I used to have a blog at blogspot, but moved here a little over a year ago. For the first 5 months, I probably didn’t have 300 hits. Then, in the sixth month this blog went off. (Of course, it was about then that I learned what a ‘tag’ was!) I owe it to a tight marketing campaign by wordpress–they got my blog out there–google, mama, dogpile, etc. I should also thank technorati, Digg!, and Del.ic.ious (whose widgets I never did learn how to use.) (Also Slide.com and myspace.com.) I love the wordpress interface, the layouts, the widgets, feeds, and stats page. I appreciate that I have so much free space to write and post pictures and link to important stories. I love that I can do this for free and not get paid. Thank you wordpress. I’m sure somehow or other you are making a buck. I’m glad I can help.
Finally, I’d like to thank you, the intrepid reader of all things blogged. You have an amazing ability to sift through the muck and develop a solid opinion of life based upon what you read at unchecked, non-refereed, non-peer reviewed essays, articles, and editorials. You sort through the blogs and separate the real from the fake, the ham from the spam, the worthy from the unworthy. You make blogs successful or consign them to the rubbish bin (or compost heap–a little ‘green’ lingo there). You blessed web-surfer, internet troll, drive-by comment poster–you are the ones who keep this business alive and well. You feed our addiction and we are addicted to the rush (Daryl, I miss you and love you man!) you provide when you raise our hit count! You are the ones who make blogging the joy that it is even if your voyeurism adds significantly to our stress levels (Gotta post! Gotta post! Need new material! Gotta post! Need fresh stuff!). All of us who blog thank all of you who read. We’re glad the American Education system has done so much for you. We’re glad that words on computer monitor screens are more vital to your life and worldview than a good hardcover book from the library. God Bless You, blog readers.
Oh, and to the person who linked me at Wikipedia…*sniff*…thank you. Now I can die.
your blogging friend for at least today,
jerry aka dangoldfinch
I have had this sneaking suspicion for a while that Atheists really don’t have a problem with ‘God’ as much as they do with Christians or Christianity.
I don’t know too much about Ray Comfort except that I think he is a big fan of Kirk ‘Buck’ Cameron, but he issued an interesting challenge to Atheists in a Christian Worldview Network post today. He wrote in part:
If you are an atheist, I hope I’m ruffling your feathers. I want to get under your skin and ask why you don’t have the courage to even whisper to Moslems what you keep shouting at Christians. Prove me wrong. Get onto a Moslem website and tell them that you don’t believe their god exists. Do your little “I don’t believe in Zeus” thing. Tell them they believe a myth. Talk about Mohammed as you do Jesus (use lower case for Mohamed). Do your “I don’t believe in the flying spaghetti monster” thing. Tell them that we weren’t made by a god (lower case), but that they evolved from primates (that will go down well). Also, let them know in no uncertain terms that the Koran is full of mistakes (give some examples), and that their mosques are full of hypocrites.
Well, I’d like to up the ante just a bit and issue a challenge to certain people on the blogosphere to do the same thing. Among those I’d like to challenge are those running ‘Discernment Ministries’ who constantly criticize those within the Church who hold to different views of Christian Faith than they do. Instead of biting and snacking on your brothers and sisters in Christ, take it up a notch and start criticizing those who are the real enemies of the faith: Those who actually do hold to a different gospel. I think that is a fair challenge to issue.
I have posted many thoughts about evolution and its impact on the general population of the world. I’d like to share someone else’s thoughts tonight. These thoughts concern how replacing the Creator with evolution has destroyed our understanding of sin. Consider:
The basic reason why our modern Western culture has lost the concept of sin is that the reality of the true Creator-God has been abandoned. The basic reason why all nonbiblical philosophies and religions lack a true concept of sin is that none includes the concept of a Creator-God whose will is law. The doctrine of ex nihilo creation and the doctrine of sin are thus inseparable; sin is a meaningful concept only in the light of the fact of creation. (Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 168)
. . .
Why is the denial of personal guilt such a widespread phenomenon today? As we have noted, the very idea of sin presupposes the existence of law, which presupposes the existence of a transcendent Creator-God; it also presupposes the reality of human free will. But these are among the very things that are most frequently attacked and denied in our modern world. The Creator-God is replaced by chance evolution, and various forms of secular determinism are constantly used to cancel man’s responsibility for his antisocial behavior. For example, son say that such behavior is due to childhood trauma and other forms of negative environmental conditioning. People are not sinners; they are victims. Others attribute it all to quirks in one’s genes or chromosomes or brain structure; thus we have ‘natural-born’ killers, alcoholics, homosexuals, and adulterers. (Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All, 193)
What’s worse is that this is how we train children from day one. Then we act shocked when they live out the realities of a life of no accountability to anyone other than themselves. But we should probably continue teaching children that they are nothing more than the chance configuration of randomly mutated selfish genes (uh, sarcasm alert.)
What I wonder is, how can children be taught accountability (to something higher than the pathetic standards of mere humanity) when they are deliberately not taught about God and are deliberately taught atheism (either by omission or commission.)
One wonders. Or not.
I have two things to say about this story at the Christian Post: Borders Tags Atheist Book With…
First, I think some people are way, way to sensitive. Consider these two well-meaning, but theologically under-read people:
“I am quite sure that Borders intended their Christmas card as a joke. However, I personally find it an ill-judged and insensitive joke,” he said, as reported by Baptist Times.
He continued, “Christians have always been used to being punch bags but I would have hoped that, in a society in which we are seeking to show respect to all people and beliefs, we might have grown out of this kind of nonsense.”
He was supported by Justin Thacker, head of theology at the Evangelical Alliance, who said, “It won’t surprise me if this spectacularly fails. Christmas still holds a high place in people’s hearts – I think a lot of people will be offended by it.”
Does the good Rev. really believe that we will ever grow out ‘of this kind of nonsense’? He certainly needs to read his Bible more often. Why be offended? At what? Doesn’t ignorance speak for itself? “Stupid is as stupid does.” Why not laugh?
Second, I happen to think this is really funny and quite clever. I wish people had a sense of humor:
“Borders wouldn’t do this to any other religious festival. Borders [has] made a strategic mistake and Christians will boycott it.”
What’s funny is that there are a whole bunch of Christians (including myself at times) who will shop at Borders when Borders sells pornography, books by Richard Dawkins (and other atheists), Harry Potter (gasp!), erotica, and a whole host of other genres–including Christian books–but if they give away a parody card with an atheist’s book and the whole world of Christianity is turned upside down. Seriously, don’t these people have anything else to worry about? (Oh, and when it comes to books, if Borders has a better price than Barnes and Noble I’m going to Borders regardless of what they are giving away. It’s all about the book and the price!)
All one has to do is say, “No thanks. I would not like your card today.” Some people are so lame. And I hate to say it but when Christians say stupid things like ‘Christians will boycott it’ there is really a pall cast over Christianity.
This is as bad as Christians who watch the Emmy’s getting upset when Kathy Griffen says something bad about Jesus. What do you expect? Seriously? Are there not more serious issues to be contending with right now? Seriously?
Here are some news bits that I found interesting this morning.
First, talk about Giant Bugs! The AP is reporting that scientists have uncovered one really big bug fossil:
The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study’s three authors.
I don’t know about that mysterious 390-million year old rock, but the story is certainly an interesting one and the discovery even more so. I’d hate to find it in my house.
Second, Jerry Springer–the Opera is coming under fire in the UK. Here’s a glimpse:
Two judges were told the show was “an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief” that no one would have dreamed of making about the prophet Mohammed and Islam.
Stephen Green, the national director of the evangelical group Christian Voice, is attempting to prosecute the producer of the award-winning musical, which has been shown in theatres around the country, and the BBC, which broadcast it in 2005.
I applaud their concern for the Name of Jesus, but what do they expect? Verdict: A Waste of Time. Look what the world did to Jesus. Should we all of the sudden expect the world to start acting with some care or concern or reverence?
Third, it appears the Pope is purging–music. Says the article:
The Pope has recently replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Mgr Guido Marini. It is now thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto.
The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: “The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ playing like in a second-rank country parish church.”
I can think of some other things the pope ought to purge from the Vatican, but that’s another post.
Fourth, evidently, times are troubled in the Netherlands:
“The Netherlands is too complex to sum up in one cliche,” she said. “A typical Dutch person doesn’t exist.”
Her comments have tapped into an unsettled feeling among many Dutch who fear traditional values have been eroded in a country roiled by a rise in Muslim extremism. It’s a view espoused by Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has turned her back on her Islamic roots.
What do they really expect? How long before a ‘typical American person’ doesn’t exist either? What do people really think Islam is about, or is doing? Isn’t world domination precisely their goal?
Fifth, Michael Newdow is bored again and his tireless efforts on behalf of the .01% of atheists in the American population continues. What a hero he is! What a warrior! What a patriot!
California atheist activist Michael Newdow is renewing his fight to remove reference to God from the Pledge of Allegiance, this time with a suit filed on behalf of an anonymous New Hampshire couple against a school district.
The couple, an agnostic and atheist with three children, say in their complaint that they “generally, deny that God exists” and contend their constitutional rights are violated when school authorities require their children to “participate in making the purely religious, monotheistic claim that the United States is ‘one nation under God.’”
You know, the funny thing about this is this: No child is forced to say the pledge of allegiance. I work in a public school and I have never once seen a teacher walking around with a weapon in hand threatening students who refuse to say the Pledge with detention or death. Here’s an option for Newdow: Home-school! (As if the teaching of Darwinism isn’t the establishment of a religion!) This guy needs to get a job.
Thanks for stopping by,
Don’t atheists have something better to do with their time, like, say, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless?
I haven’t yet figured out this fella named Dinesh D’Souza. He seems to be all the rage nowadays among certain wings of churchianity. However, I came across this little essay he wrote and published at Townhall.com and I thought it was a rather interesting piece: Are Atheists the New Gays? Mr D’Souza spends the majority of the short essay mocking Richard Dawkins (which is fine as far as it goes) because of his campaign to style the atheists of the world as the ‘new gays’ (as if atheists have to go through all the terrible ordeals that homosexuals have to go through, like getting married, and suchlike. Imagine how tough it must be for a homosexual atheist to get married! Just kidding. Sort of.) Anyhow…Mr D’Souza writes:
Dawkins has also suggested that atheists, like gays, should come out of the closet. Well, what if they don’t want to? I doubt that Dawkins would support “outing” atheists. But can an atheist “rights” group be far behind? Hate crimes laws to protect atheists? Affirmative action for unbelievers? An Atheist Annual Parade, complete with dancers and floats? Atheist History Month?
Honestly, I think the whole atheist-gay analogy is quite absurd. It seems strange for Dawkins to urge atheists to come out of the closet in the style of the all-American boy standing up on the dining table of his public high school and confessing that he is a homosexual? Dawkins, being British, doesn’t seem to recognize that this would not win many popularity contests in America.
He also writes about Dawkins’ ongoing attempts to re-tool the whole atheist movement by giving atheists a new name: Brights. (I like the name the Bible gives them in Psalm 14:1.) Whatever. Does it really matter to most atheists what they are called? Does the change of the moniker really change the identity or belief? Will putting a positive spin on un-belief really change the general conception of atheists in this world? (Uh, no?) I suspect that some atheists would be content to be called Happy, Beer Drinkers, Liberals, or Red Sox Fans.
But here’s the part of the essay I like the best because it addresses some of those assumptions that people make that really irritate me. Mr D’Souza wrote:
Basically Dawkins is saying if you are religious, then science is your enemy. Either you choose God or you choose science. No wonder that so many Americans say they are opposed to evolution. They believe that evolution is atheism masquerading as science, and Dawkins confirms their suspicions. Indeed Dawkins takes the same position as the most ignorant fundamentalist: you can have Darwin or you can have the Bible but you can’t have both.
Oh, but here, ironically, I agree with Dawkins far more than D’Souza. Fact is, you cannot have both Darwin and the Bible. This is a serious issue and for as much as D’Souza seems to be bright, he has missed the mark here. I might suggest there is a difference between what he refers to as an ‘ignorant fundamentalist’ and a ‘by faith we believe that God made what is seen out of what is unseen evangelical Christian’ who accepts Genesis as an accurate reflection of history, and the foundational substance for evangelical theology. In this case, I agree with Dawkins and, in my opinion, D’Souza loses big time precisely because he seems willing to exclude faith (I could be reading him incorrectly.) He evidently misunderstands the troubling tension that exists between these two fundamentally discordant world-views. I haven’t read enough of D’Souza’s work to know if this is what he thinks, but if I take that last sentence at face value, he has lost me as an audience already because I reject out of hand that faith and reason stand opposed to one another as Darwin and the Bible do.
One cannot have both. I agree with Dawkins 100% on this because the entire premise of Darwinism is that it does not need God, god, a god, Zeus, Thor, Mars, or gods to work (unless, of course, natural selection or selfish genes are divine.) Why would the Darwinist concede to theistic evolution when it would defeat the entire premise to Darwinian evolution? I’ll go ahead and say it for the record: You can’t have both. To my knowledge, Darwin made no concessions or room for the ‘theistic’ in theistic evolution. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)
But I understand. There are certain people in the world of churchianity who are terrified to let Genesis stand on its own. They are horrified at the thought of being labeled unthinking rubes who rely on faith in order to believe in fairy-tales. They are terrified to admit to the unbelieving world that they have a simple faith and trust that ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ Here’s what it is: They are so consumed with the idea of silencing the Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ of the world that they have to resort to arguments that lack faith instead of promote it lest they be accused of being little more than those dunderhead, ignorant fundamentalists who actually believe what Scripture says. In their attempts, in other words, to undo the ‘brightness’ of the Brights, they fall into the same error as the Brights by dismissing faith as compatible with reason and relying soley on reason to accomplish their task. It’s not that we (Christians) need Darwin and the Bible to be compatible, that’s not the error because we know they are not, and trying to make them compatible (through things like theistic evolution) does not advance the cause of Christ. (And this is a matter of the Cause of Christ.)
The error he makes, rather, is in assuming there is no compatibility between Faith and Reason, as if they stand in opposition to one another! Nothing could be further from the truth. This is D’Souza’s error. He evidently thinks that those who believe in Genesis do so without Reason, that they rely too much on faith (as if!), and that faith and Reason are incompatible (this was also Stephen Jay Gould’s error in Rocks of Ages.) Christians are not unthinking people, nor are we un-Reasonable people. The very fact that we cling to a book (that contains letters (and numbers), words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books of varying style and genre) is evidence that we are thinking, Reasoning people. We do not serve a God who is unreasonable either. He tells us: Count the Cost of being a disciple. He says, “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1). Frankly, no reasonable person is going to become a disciple without counting the cost.
PT Forsyth wrote,
“If we have any sense of judgment we have much reason to fear. I cannot understand how any one with a sense of judgment can discard the atonement and live without terror. But, if we have the sense of the holy and the faith of judgment, the faith that Christ took God’s judgment on the world, we must be of good cheer. The world is judged for good and all in Christ. The last judgment is by. All our judgments are in its ascending wake” (The Justification of God, 221.)
Thus we come full circle. It is not the Christian who lives in opposition to reason, and it is not faith that stands opposed to reason, it is the atheist: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Who is opposed to reason but the one who rejects God?
To be sure, I’ll need to read some of D’Souza’s work before I know if this is really how he thinks about us ‘ignorant fundamentalists.’ But for the time being, isn’t it rather ironic that ‘ignorant fundamentalists’ and Richard Dawkins actually agree on something?
UPDATE: I just came across this: Militant Atheism Gives Rise to Christian Apologetics.
“[I]f people look at science, they will find faith and they will find reason; the two cannot be incompatible and they have one author, namely God,” said Midland theologian Norbert Dickman, who was scheduled to present what the Christian response should be to the rise of the atheist voice at an Illinois church on Tuesday.
I’m in a sort of writing kind of mood tonight so I’m going to share a little more of my list of things that tick me off (I’m smoothing out my language a little.) Here are numbers 21-35.
21. The assumption that all Christians are evil because of people like the folks at the Westboro ‘Baptist’ ‘Church’ or because of pedophile priests.
22. The assumption that anyone has a right to membership in the church without meeting the requirements for membership in the Church.
23. The assumption that liberalism (theological and/or political) is more progressive and forward thinking than conservatism or orthodoxy.
24. The assumption that freedom is found in the ability to live without reference to God or His Son Jesus Christ.
25. The assumption that homosexuality is not a sin just because people are ‘born that way’. (The assumption that (insert sin here) is not sin because people are ‘born that way,’ ‘had no father,’ ‘grew up in West Philadelphia,’ ‘had a crack-whore for a mother,’ ‘the government made it legal,’ ‘Clinton did it,’ etc.)
26. The assumption that persistence in sin will not lead this country, into free-fall and destruction. The parallel assumption that persistence and tolerance of sin in the church will not cause the church to ‘lose it’s place’.
27. The assumption by some Christians that voting a certain way, for a certain candidate, for a certain party assures and protects God’s Sovereignty. (And also the assumption that the opinions of Pat Robertson or James Dobson matter when it comes to political decisions by the rest of us.)
28. The assumption that the holocaust discredits or mitigates God’s essential goodness, Sovereignty, or Plan for this world through Jesus Christ.
29. The assumption that atheists have an intellectual advantage over Christians because they don’t need ‘faith’ or ‘God’ to sustain their point of view.
30. The assumption that if we just do enough ‘good deeds’ that all will be well in the world.
31. That assumption that morality doesn’t matter. (And the assumption, ironically, that morality can be legislated.)
32. The assumption that the Biblical point of view doesn’t matter or is flawed or is outdated or is irrelevant or is meaningless. (It is the only ‘point of view’ that matters.)
33. The assumption that people can just say, “God doesn’t exist” and that it somehow makes it true.
34. The assumption that atheists do not need to prove the major premise of their argument (that is, that God doesn’t exist.)
35. The assumption that Darwinism is sophisticated enough to explain all of life’s complexity and diversity. (It’s not.)
That should keep some folks busy for a while. My list is just short of 70 and my list of things that do not P me off is even longer. (I like that list better ) Thanks for stopping by and reading.