Food for the ‘Intellectual Atheist’s’ Thought


I first came across this at Uncommon Descent, but it is so good I thought it deserved its own place here: Atheism: An Intellectual Revolt or Pelvic Rebellion by Doug Giles at I was especially intrigued by Giles’ comments about the atheist’s fear of accountability. I’ll note two such comments:

In addition, ladies, Darwin didn’t lose his faith because he discovered natural selection; he dumped God because he couldn’t stomach the doctrine of eternal accountability and damnation. That’s what made him switch teams. I think that was about ten years after he had married his first cousin. Git-R-Done, Charlie!

And also:

Look, I’m not buying that the atheists’ altruistic self-professed pursuit of reason is what undergirds their conclusion that God does not exist; I believe it’s because they want to believe that they’ll never be called into eternal accountability for their temporal actions by a holy God. Talk about an opiate for the masses!

The other day, I was commenting about why Christians ought to reject Darwinism. I wrote this:

If I believe that the Bible is not telling me the truth about God, about Creation, about Redemption, then I will live like that. I will likely care nothing for God. I may not commit murder or rape, but I will likely live without regard to what God has said about Creation, Redemption, God, Jesus Christ, Sin, and the like. In other words, I will live without regard for God, I will reject him, I will ignore him, I will blaspheme, ridicule, and mock him. I can personally think of nothing more offensive than to disregard God, and ignore or ridicule the work He accomplished through Jesus Christ at the cross. If God did not create, then just exactly how am I accountable to God? But if God did create, then I am wholly accountable to Him.

The same principle applies to atheism. Atheists think that if they just wish God away they can live however they want, with no ultimate accountability. In other words, there is no ultimate justice in the minds of the atheist. Life just goes on as it will: we’re born, we live, we die. That’s it.

In this scenario, is there any such thing as sin? To be sure, there is ‘crime’ which is merely a violation of law against a human for which we might be accountable before a human court. But there is no sin in the sense of a violation of God’s Holy Law, a transgression against the Holy One. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” Or, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So if there is no ultimate sin, then of what need is there for Redemption? And if there is no need for Redemption, of what need is there of Christ? Why, we might as well say Christ Jesus did not even exist if all that is true. And we might as well say that all that is in Scripture is untrue as well.

This seems highly, highly unlikely to be the case. This is part of the atheist’s dilemma. Who really knows what is right and wrong in the atheist’s system? Who will hold us accountable in the atheist’s system? (One another? OJ proves that notion is laughable.) How will justice be finally ‘worked out’ in the atheist’s system? Worse, where is grace in the atheist’s system? Where is life in the atheist’s system? Are we really to believe that death is the great equilizer?



16 thoughts on “Food for the ‘Intellectual Atheist’s’ Thought

  1. Hello, a couple comments if I may:

    First of all, for the atheist to fear ultimate divine accountability, she would have to acknowledge that such a thing exists, which would no longer make her an atheist, would it? Giles’s contention makes no sense.

    Second, I would like to know, what is right and wrong under the Christian system. Take the Holocaust. Was it part of your god’s grand plan? How do you know if it was, or wasn’t? Since you don’t know, how can you claim the Holocaust was an evil act? Perhaps it was good.

  2. (sorry, one other addition)

    Third, what is your evidence for the existence of Adam and Eve? According to the script, it was they who first sinned, cursing us all.

  3. Robert,

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it. All I can say is that if you don’t think the holocaust was evil, bad, wrong, then there is nothing I can do to help you with the rest of your questions.


  4. Jerry,

    On the contrary, I do think the Holocaust was bad. I simply asked, on what basis does a Christian say it was bad.

    Now that my position is clear, will you get to the other questions?

  5. Robert,

    I’ll try to answer your questions as succinctly as possible so as to avoid any confusion. I’ll take them in the order they are asked.

    1. No.

    2. No. It was part of Hitler’s plan called the ‘Final Solution.’

    3. I know it was not part of God’s plan because the Bible says that God is not tempted by evil.

    4. I know the holocaust was evil because I believe in a God who determines the standards of right and wrong. Apart from God, there is no standard of right and wrong. Apart from God, anything is reasonable, possible, and acceptable. Apart from God, in other words, there is no right and wrong.

    5. My evidence for the existence of Adam and Eve is the Bible. I can’t begin to imagine what this question has to do with anything else you have written or asked, but I’ve answered it to keep you amused. However, if you want to be technical, all the earth was destroyed in the flood, so technically speaking, we are all descendants of Noah and his three sons.

    Some theologians believe that we are guilty of Adam’s sin. I don’t. I think I inherited a peculiar nature and propensity to sin, but I’m guilty of my own sin, not Adam’s.

    Now that you have quizzed me I hope we are finished. The truth is, even if the holocaust was part of God’s ‘plan’ (and I don’t know one way or another) what does that have to do with whether or not it was evil? I’m not a Calvinist so I don’t buy that particular theological position. God is Good and Righteous and Holy–a fact we learn from the Scripture. You might not accept it, but that’s not my problem. Merely denying God’s existence doesn’t change the fact that He does exist. The fact is, evil is evil. Common sense tells us that evil is evil. The presence of evil in the world does not diminish the goodness and righteousness of God, nor does it mitigate his Existence.

    It is only the atheist who fears evil. I believe in a sovereign God who loves us and gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins and for the evil that is derived from our sins. I don’t blame God for evil, I thank Him that it isn’t worse and that ultimately, we are saved from it. I’m sorry you don’t accept what He has done for you.

    I’d suggest you read the book of Romans. It will help you a lot.


  6. Well, Jerry, I admit to being confused. First, you categorically deny that the Holocaust was part of God’s plan, then you later admit you don’t in fact know. If it’s possible that it was part of God’s plan, then you cannot declare the Holocaust evil. It would in fact be a Righteous and Holy event, since God ordained it (remember, God cannot do evil). And so it goes for anything. A child is raped. Part of God’s plan? The Christian doesn’t know, so she can’t tell you truthfully whether such a thing was bad. “God’s ways are not our ways”, etc.

    I asked about Adam and Eve because they were the alleged vehicle by which evil entered the world. But, there is no evidence for such persons, and genetics flat out denies them as our ancestors. In any case, since you apparently don’t believe in the Original Sin doctrine, I guess the point is rather moot.

    I’ve read Romans. I suggest you read up on the Problem of Evil.

  7. Robert,

    I believe in the doctrine of free will. Therefore, even though God is Sovereign, man is accountable for sin; God is not because God does not, cannot, sin. This doctrine means that God has given man the ‘freedom’ to live: Freedom to choose him, freedom to reject him; freedom to sin, freedom to be redeemed. I’m not a hyper-Calvinist, nor am I a cold-hearted Arminian. You must not have read what I said: I said the holocaust was part of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution.’ You need to read your history if you need to know more. My point about ‘not knowing if it is part of God’s plan’ is this: the holocaust in 1940’s German or the 2000’s Rwanda or the 1950-60’s Soviet Union or 1970’s Cambodia or under Joshua and Israel in the BC’s, or the 1990’s Bosnian holocaust, does not alter the fact of God’s Sovereignty one bit. In fact, I would say this: These actions are the results of men thinking they can live apart from God, without reference to His Son Jesus Christ, and without the Gospel. These are not God’s actions, they are the actions of free thinking, free acting, human beings who have been corrupted by sin. You ere mightily, friend, because you haven’t the first clue what evil is nor why it is and yet you would blame God for what you don’t understand!?

    You ere because you attribute such things to God by saying ‘it is part of his plan.’ You ere because you, my friend, do not understand evil, Satan, and free will. You ere because you have not thought about God enough to wonder why such things happen in the world. You ere because you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong and so, since you need someone to blame because you won’t dare blame yourself, you accuse God: I don’t have to justify God, but you will have to justify your accusation (you should read Job, because Job’s friends did the same thing you are doing.) Job explains nicely evil. And if you had read Romans, you would know precisely all you need to know about evil in the world and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    There are undoubtedly some Christians who believe in such Calvinistic ideas as to say: “Yes, even evil is part of God’s plan” but to many Christians that doctrine is horrifying and an abomination. I’d like to know what that plan is that you seem to think is God’s. Try as I might, I don’t read anywhere in the Scripture where it says anything remotely close to ‘evil is part of God’s plan.’ So you ere again because you do not know Scripture or the power of God. Evil is evil and it doesn’t take a Darwinist or an atheist or even a Christian to point that out to someone (again, Romans). It takes anyone with common sense, and a beating heart. Ask a child, for example.

    So you can quit twisting my words to make your point. You’re not that smart.


    ps-you are right, I don’t believe in the Calvinist or Catholic doctrine of original sin. I’m no more guilty for Adam’s sin than I am for yours. I have enough of my own to render me guilty. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory; we don’t need help from others. In Adam’s fall, we are all doomed to death.

  8. Jerry,

    You’ve agreed that your god has a plan. I’m sure you’ll also agree that you do not know the details of this plan.

    There are many, many stories in the Bible in which much what we would consider evil (such as genocide, or slavery) is either directly carried out by your god, he orders other to do it, or hardens someone’s heart, so that they do it unwillingly. Much death and suffering was meted out to seemingly innocent persons as a result. We humans call this evil, but apparently when your god does it, it’s for his glory, or some other purpose. When asked about this atrocities, the Christian says that we’re his god’s creation and he can do whatever he likes with us, since we deserve death anyway.

    The point here is that you simply do not know if the Holocaust was part of your god’s plan. It may have been necessary to establish the conditions for the return of Jesus, or something else in order to bring out the fruition of this plan. Since it is very possible that it was part of your god’s plan, you cannot rightly call the Holocaust an evil event. What may appear evil to your limited and erroneous understanding, could in fact be necessary to bring out about a greater good.

    You just don’t know. You’re completely in the dark.

  9. Robert,

    Thank you for continuing to stop by and read the things that I write. I’m flattered that, in your boredom, you find my writing worth your time.

    Yes, I agree that God has a plan. His plan is the eradication of evil, the salvation of the lost, and the reconciliation of human beings to himself. He accomplished this in the Cross (the crucifixion) of Jesus Christ for the sins of (all) men. That is God’s ends and his means.

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘hardens someone’s heart so they do it unwillingly.’ That is a contrary statement not found in biblical theology (at least not the Bible I read). If Pharoah’s heart was hardened by God, it was only because Pharaoh first hardened his own heart. You haven’t read well enough. I have already told you I am not a Calvinist so I reject that God controls or decides in the sense that you are suggesting.

    I clicked the link you provided. So? That proves nothing except that person’s opinion (which I really don’t have time to read.) It doesn’t necessarily mean anything relevant to this blog or this conversation. The only condition required for Jesus to come back is His time. He went away. He promised to come back. He’ll come back when He has decided to. What conditions are you talking about because I just have no idea what you mean.

    You seem not to understand the concept of sin nor the theology of a Holy God. You seem to be able to throw around things like the holocaust without really understanding the difference between good and evil. Once again, I’ll remind you, that I believe in Free will. Hilter was the cause of the holocaust: he planned it, financed it, executed it through his cronies. Ironically, or not, Hitler was a Darwinist and an atheist–not a Christian. So, again, your point? (I should also remind you that the holocaust was a plan used to kill all sorts of people, including Gypsies, Jews, Christians, the lame, the mentally retarded, homosexuals, blind, deaf, etc., etc. So what was your point again?)

    Finally, what if I don’t know? What does that prove? It proves that you have blurred the line between good and evil. It doesn’t prove anything about me, and it certainly doesn’t prove anything about God. Do you think that somehow because we are not omniscient that it proves anything about God?

    I might ask, since you seem to think it so, what good came out of the holocaust? Did any good come out of it at all? You are the product of an unthinking culture who have ‘eliminated’ God from any conversation and therefore cannot make judgment calls about what is morally evil and morally good. I’m not the one with the problem here, Robert, you are. Since you have ‘eliminated’ God, you have no moral foundation to stand on at all.

    If you feel the need, I’ll let you have the last word. You have failed to satisfy me that the holocaust proves anything about God’s existence or his Righteousness. Again, I’m not the one who is having trouble deciding that something is evil. You are. And, strangely enough, I believe in God and you don’t.


  10. Jerry,

    I realize, I’ve asked some difficult questions, and it is hard for you to address them. Frankly, your replies are incoherent and contradictory.

    If part of your god’s plan is to eliminate evil, why doesn’t he just snap his fingers and do away with it?

    You’ve agreed that 1) there exists a divine plan; and 2) you don’t know what this plan exactly entails. You’ve also stated that you believe we have free will. Do you not see the obvious problem?

    If humans have free will, then it is possible they can thwart the divine plan, which is impossible. Thus, the very existence of such a plan casts doubt on free will, since deviations from the plan would require interventions to set straight. You don’t believe your god controls or decides everything, but the existence of a plan proves otherwise. It also contradicts Psalms 139:16:

    Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

    I can understand why you’d reject the Calvinist claim of predestination, but you have no scriptural or logical grounds with which to do it, other than you see the obvious problem and wave it away.

    You wrote, If Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God, it was only because Pharaoh first hardened his own heart.

    This makes little sense. Why would your god need to harden a heart already hardened? Was Pharaoh’s heart just not hard enough? Apparently not, for your god had a plan, which was to show off his power, and it would not do for a human to thwart it (Exodus 7:3; 9:16; 14:4; 14:17).

    You wrote, What conditions are you talking about because I just have no idea what you mean.

    That’s why you needed to read the link. Many, MANY Christians believe that Biblical scriptures state what conditions are necessary to exist before Jesus will return.

    You wrote, Ironically, or not, Hitler was a Darwinist and an atheist–not a Christian.

    Actually, this is not true at all, as these pictures plainly show. But then, Hitler-was-an-atheist is a matter of faith, and is not subject to standards of evidence, is it?

    You wrote, Again, I’m not the one who is having trouble deciding that something is evil.

    I’m sorry, but nothing you’ve written demonstrates that you can claim the Holocaust, or any other evil act, was not part of your god’s plan, or that your god was not directing Hitler in some manner. You completely failed to address why your god acted in an evil manner in the past. And as for the claim that “God is not because God does not, cannot, sin”, perhaps more Biblical study is in order:

    “And Jehovah repented of the evil which he said he would do unto his people.” (Exodus 32:14)

  11. Robert,

    You are right. I cannot answer your questions. I have no idea how to convince you of something you have already decided against. According to your logic, God must be preventing you from believing for reasons I cannot understand or expound. And according to strict Calvinistic theology, which you accept and I do not, there is no hope for you. You will not believe nor can you. “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” And, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” And, “One of you will say to me, ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?’ But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to him who for it, Why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for ignoble?'” (All from Romans.)

    So, Robert, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you cannot see past what you already know. I wish that you did believe that you had the power to ‘thwart’ God’s will because then you might choose to love him. Evidently, you are convinced that God has decided you must hate him. I wish that I could persuade you differently, but I have come to the end of my ability on this conversation.

    I have plenty of reasons to reject Calvinism, all of which are biblical. Even Calvin thought it was a horrifying doctrine. I’d suggest you read: 5 Views on Election. It will help you understand that there are different ways of understanding the way God’s Sovereignty and man’s free will work in this world.

    (Exodus 7:14, 22; 8:15, 19, etc. These verses say nothing of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but rather of Pharaoh doing it himself. Why would God need to harden a heart that someone decided to harden themselves?)

    Oh, as to your ‘Many, MANY Christians believe that Biblical scriptures state what conditions are necessary to exist before Jesus will return,’ well, many of those get their ideas from Tim Lahaye and Left Behind–not Scripture. Just as I don’t accept Calvin’s particulars on Election and Sovereignty and free will, I don’t accept Lahaye’s ideas about the Millenium.

    Finally, I did agree there is a plan. I did not agree or state that I am unaware of what that plan is. I said the plan involves the eradication of evil & the reconciliation of man to God. I also said that the means of that happening is the cross and the resurrection. So, no, I don’t see the ‘obvious’ problem. Usually when things are ‘obvious’ they don’t need to be pointed out to someone.

    Psalm 139 also says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” If God had scripted our lives, why would he need to search the author? As I said, you can yank things out of context all you want and make it say whatever you want. That doesn’t mean you understand God. As I have said, you are not that smart.

    Your problem is that you are not dealing with the sum total of my argument by examining the larger context of the biblical narrative–front to back, first verse to last. If you bothered to do that, you would see that we don’t have all the answers we want. You would see that God will eventually justify himself and he is right to do so. Cut and paste biblical exegesis such as you are engaging in will, I agree, not paint a very pretty picture of the God of the Scripture. But examine it in depth and properly, and you will see a God who sent His Son to earth to die for our sins. He entered suffering and embraced weakness to redeem us. It’s there from Genesis through Revelation. It’s too bad you don’t want to see it or, if you do, believe it.

    Good luck!


  12. The bible is true. It says so in the bible!

    Circular logic for the win!

    If the bible proves the existence of Adam and Eve (and Lillith and the unnamed wives who came before Eve), then Superman comics prove the existence of Superman. It says so in issue #1!

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster loves you Jerry, even if you are a heretic Xian.


  13. Todd,

    Thanks for stopping by and landing a couple of really good punches. Wow. I don’t think I have ever those comments before and I don’t think they have ever been spoken with such wit and charm. Surely humor will die with you friend.

    No one has ever seen superman flying through metropolis, but plenty of people saw the Resurrected Jesus Christ. If someone ever actually sees Superman and testifies to his existence, I suppose we will have to investigate their claims to see if it is true or not. As it is, I have no particular problem with Superman since he does things like save the world from the evil of folks like Lex Luther.

    I don’t know what a ‘Xian’ is, but I do like Ramen (the noodles that cost a quarter per serving; they are tasty.)

    You are so funny. I can’t believe how you have brightened my day. If you get the chance, will you pray to FSM and ask ‘it’ to save all of us from our sins? And while your at it, ask the FSM why there is so much hatred in this world ‘it’ supervises. Damn, you are a funny one Todd. I can’t stop laughing.


    ps–i’m not sure what you mean by ‘proves.’ If you mean it is tangible evidence then I suppose you might be right. If on the other hand ‘prove’ means something like ‘testimony to an historical event’ then you are wrong. The Bible is historical testimony to historical events that happened in the the past. It is no different than reading a book about George Washington which, since none of were there with him either, must be accepted on the basis of faith in the truth-telling ability of the author. The author of the George Washington book also has a motive: He wants his truth to be believed so he does not tell lies because lies can easily be uncovered and exposed. So with the book you call the ‘bible’ (which is simply the Greek word for ‘book’ and has very little meaning otherwise.) Aside from the Gospels and the book of Acts, the New Testament is entirely letters. How can you prove that a letter is not true? A letter is a letter. But what about the Gospels and Acts would you say is not true? If there is something that is not true, then it should be rather easy to uncover the lie that is being perpetuated (but I don’t think you were with Paul when he traveled or with Peter on the Day of Pentecost so it’s not a matter of those reports being lies as much as its a matter of you not accepting the historical testimony.) But if it is true, then why do you mock what you don’t understand? You might claim that God isn’t real because ‘no one has ever seen him.’ That is decidedly wrong because people did see him: His Name is Jesus. There were eyewitnesses to his life, death and resurrection. You either believe those things or you don’t. The ‘bible’ is either telling historical truth which you believe or it is telling historical truth which you don’t believe. You must choose.

    No one will ever see the FSM so the comparison between FSM and God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is meaningless because people did see Jesus Christ and of that there is no question.

  14. Xian is short for Christian, in the same way that Xmas is short for Christmas.

    From Wikipedia:
    “The word Christmas originated as a contraction of “Christ’s mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038, compounded from Old English derivatives of the Greek christos and the Latin missa. In early Greek versions of the New Testament, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ. Since the mid-16th century Χ, or the similar **Roman letter X, was used as an abbreviation for Christ**. Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.”

    It’s part 3 of my 5 stage plan to take humor with me. i’m glad you enjoyed it, and that you allowed my post on your forum. Some folks hide dissenting posts through their “moderation”. i give you props for that, sir.

    People won’t see the FSM because he is invisible, similar in that regard is the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Or not so much invisible but no longer having a material form, he is everywhere and no-where…. Perhaps in some sort of ravioli pocket dimension beyond the material realm. Just because you can’t see the FSM does not mean it he’s not there. You can’t prove that His Noodly Appendage is not all around us. You can be closer to him at you local Italian or Chinese restaurant. String theory is NOT a coincidence! And the FSM does not have time to answer my questions, it’s not like i could understand his mysterious ways. It doesn’t allow evil, FSM gave us free will, we allow evil by rejecting his teaching. If people would just season the water with some salt and olive oil, things would be much better for all of us.

    “You either believe those things or you don’t.”

    Reality doesn’t care what we believe, nor does truth. People believed the Earth was flat, but that did not make it so. Unless the pictures they show us and *all* the experiments that show us the Earth is round (many of which you can do yourself) are lying to us….

    i can bite that there was a bloke name Jesus, and that maybe he had some nice ideas like Turning the Other Cheek, Do Unto Others and Not Casting Stones (which too many Xians don’t seem to do). As for miracles and relationships to invisible sky wizards, of that i am skeptical. i saw a guy make an elephant disappear on a TV show. Millions of witnesses there, and it happened in living memory, so it MUST be true. i wear only black socks because it keeps tigers away. i’ve NEVER been attacked by a tiger. If you’re heading to the zoo you better invest in some Gold Toes, just look at what happened to those kids. i bet God made the tiger attack them because they were going to choose to be gay.

    “That is decidedly wrong because people did see him: His Name is Jesus.

    God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ”

    So Jesus IS God and God is the father of Jesus? Is that like the episode of Futurama where Fry accidentally kills his grandfather and then has sex with his grandmother, thereby becoming his own grandfather. Be careful how you answer, a sect that disagrees with yours on the nature of the Trinity might roast you.

  15. Todd,

    Thanks for stopping back and visiting. I’m not going to bother to respond to much of what you say because there is no response for it. However, mere mockery will not alter the historical fact of the Resurrection. Your unbelief doesn’t make it untrue, my belief doesn’t make it true. It is–and there are plenty of eyewitnesses who testified to it.

    I will say this, however: Jesus did not come to this earth to give us ‘nice ideas’ or pithy aphorisms. He didn’t even come to this earth to do miracles. He came to this earth to suffer on the cross for the sins of humanity. After suffering death on the cross, he was placed in a borrowed tomb. On the third day, He Arose, resurrected: It was impossible for death to keep hold of Him. Jesus is alive. And then, after 40 days of appearances where he gave convincing proofs that he was alive, he ascended to the Father’s right hand. Someday, He will return to judge the quick and the dead.

    Strange that you would mention ‘gold toes.’ I have six pair of gold toes that someone bought me a couple years ago; I’m wearing a pair even as I type. They are still very, very comfortable. I don’t believe in the God you are describing. I believe in free will. So your statement about the tiger is, again, meaningless.

    Futurama didn’t run long enough to attract me as part of the audience. I prefer the Simpsons as it is much better satire, but that’s just me.

    Have a nice evening or morning or afternoon.


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