Archive for the 'Atheism' Category

God reveals Himself in nature to everyone

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

(image courtesy partyrichard.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

How would you respond to these statements?

bug ‘There is no such person as an atheist’.[1]

 

bug ‘Most natural theology is metaphysical and the current theories of the day for Science do not really have an impact’[2]?

bug ‘Natural theology is anti-biblical as well as unbiblical’ (Morey 2010:396).

 

The importance of natural theology[3]

Scripture, which is revealed theology, focusses on God’s searching for human beings. According to Romans 1:18-32 (NLT), natural theology involves human beings searching for God through the display of Himself in the cosmos – nature.

How does one define natural theology? By it, I mean that attempts are made from evidence in nature that ‘there is a First Cause or unmoved Mover or cosmic Orderer, without reference to the characteristics attributed to God in Scripture’ (Oden 1987:134).

Since I live in a post-Christian culture, I use natural theology, whenever possible, to point people to the existence of God. Therefore, I do not agree with your statement that ‘most natural theology is metaphysical’.[4]

Most natural theology should be pointing to the revelation of God in nature through which all human beings know of his existence. If there is order and design in our world, we need to test the hypotheses: (1) Who is the one who creates order? (2) Who is the designer?

The argument for natural theology was summarised by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his Summa Theologica  (I Q2.3.1, p. 14):

a. The visible world is a cosmos, an orderly unity whose order is constant, uniform, complex, and intrinsic to the universe itself.

b. Such an order cannot be explained unless it is admitted that the universe has a cause that displays intelligence capable of bringing it into being.

c. Therefore, such a cause of the universe exists, which is to say, God exists as the intelligent cause of the universe (summarised in Oden 1987:143).

Part of the Aquinas’ argument was:

The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition “Truth does not exist” is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth. But God is truth itself: I am the way, the truth, and the life (John xiv. 6). Therefore “God exists” is self-evident (Aquinas Summa Theologica 1.Q2.1.3).

Even though the Aquinas’ summary argument was made in the 13th century, it is just as relevant to a post-Christian Australia in 2016. I’m in the midst of preparing a submission to the Queensland government against decriminalising abortion at any time up to the time of birth, using natural theology and revealed theology to call on our politicians not to change the criminal code that already allows for abortion if the life of the mother is at risk.

Natural theology has especial benefit when in apologetic discussion about the existence of God. For example, the east coast of Australia (including my city of Brisbane) has experienced the unseasonal ‘Big Wet‘ of torrential rain and destructive winds over the weekend of 4-5 June 2016 (Branco 2016).

What an opportunity to use natural theology to point to God’s existence and his involvement in the cosmos. This is no metaphysical examination but a pointing to the evidence for God’s existence and interventions in nature.

However, Thomas Oden rightly shows that it may lead to confusion if we try to prove God’s existence from natural theology and then later state the specifics of what Christian teaching means by ‘God’. His approach is:

For so long as what one means by “God” remains wholly ambiguous, it is hardly an exercise of great meaning to prove God’s existence. It is less pivotal to biblical faith that an unmoved Mover exists than that the caring God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus lives indeed and acts as attested in Scripture (Oden 1987:134).

So, it is packed with more meaning to proceed from the nature of God revealed in Scripture and to state ‘candidly what Christians mean by the caring God and only then to ask whether that One is as characterized and whether that set of meanings is true to the facts we can gather’ (Oden 1987:134-135).

When we define God as ‘caring holy love’ (Oden’s language), as revealed in Scripture, and then turn to natural theology for evidence of this care, we are on more solid foundations to discuss the nature of God and his actions. My understanding is that the caring, holy, loving God deals with humanity with loving, perfect discipline, which is a discipline that flows from the perfect nature of the one true God who exists and is revealed in Scripture.

For further explanations of the nature of God, according to the Bible, see my articles:

Implications of natural theology

Natural theology, as Romans 1:18-32 (NLT) indicates, is designed to demonstrate:

cream-arrow-small The truth about God is obvious to all people (v. 18);

cream-arrow-small God has made the truth about himself known since the world was created (v. 19);

cream-arrow-small That truth about God is seen in the earth and sky, i.e. in everything God has made (v. 20);

cream-arrow-small All people can see God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power, and divine nature in what God has made (v. 21);

cream-arrow-small Therefore, all human beings have no excuse to say they do not know of the existence of God (v. 20);

cream-arrow-small People do not worship God because they choose to suppress the truth of God’s existence by their wickedness (v. 18);

cream-arrow-small Then they turn to their own foolish ideas about what God is like (v. 21);

cream-arrow-small They worship their own idols (v. 23), and

cream-arrow-small God abandons them to their shameful desires (v. 24) with their many ugly consequences.

If sinful human beings do not pursue the revelation of God in nature (natural theology), God hands them over to their natural, sinful desires with their many wicked consequences. These are described in Romans 1:26-32 (NLT) as including:

flamin-arrow-small  Both women and men abandoning heterosexual for homosexual relationships. This brought negative consequences.

flamin-arrow-small They committed other sin, including greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, gossip and were backstabbers;

flamin-arrow-small Thus, they are God haters who are insolent, proud and boastful;

flamin-arrow-small They invent ways of sinning, including being disobedient to parents;

flamin-arrow-small They refuse to understand, break promises, are heartless, and without mercy;

flamin-arrow-small Knowing God’s justice requires that they deserve to die, they continue to practise wickedness themselves and encourage others to join them.

Conclusion

Natural theology is designed by God himself to provide evidence of his existence in creation so that human beings will pursue him. When it comes to judgment day, all human beings will be ‘without excuse’ about whether they know of God’s existence (Rom 1:20 NIV).

Related imageHowever, natural theology does not lead to eternal salvation through Christ. That is obtained by responding in faith to the proclamation or sharing Gospel: ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it’ (Eph 2:8-9 NLT). How does that happen? ‘So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ’ (Rom 10:17 NLT).

 

‘But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them’ (Rom 1:18-19 NLT).

Works consulted

Branco, J 2016. Brisbane Weather: SES prepares for a day of cleaning up. Brisbane Times (online), June 5. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-weather-ses-prepares-for-a-day-of-cleaning-up-20160604-gpbo64.html (Accessed 6 June 2016).

Morey, R 2010. The Bible, natural theology and natural law: Conflict or compromise? Maitland FL: Xulon Press.[5]

Oden, T C 1987. The living God: Systematic theology, vol 1. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Notes


[1] This is adapted from Crossway, ‘Why there’s no such thing as an atheist’, November 02, 2015. Available at: https://www.crossway.org/blog/2015/11/why-theres-no-such-thing-as-an-atheist/ (Accessed 7 June 2016).

[2] Christianity Board 2016. ‘Natural Theology?’ 6 June. Administrator#167. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/22653-natural-theology/page-6 (Accessed 6 June 2016).

[3] The following is my response in ibid., OzSpen#168.

[4] His reply, before closing the thread, was: ‘Very well stated….I stand corrected’ (ibid., Administrator#169).

[5] This Press is a publisher for self-publishing of Christian books.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 June 2016.

God created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo)

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

NASA IMAGES - a service of the Internet Archive

(image courtesy Pinterest)

By Spencer D Gear

Some Christians struggle with the view that God created the universe ex nihilo, which is the Latin phrase that means ‘out of nothing’. The Bible begins, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Gen 1:1). From what did God create the universe?

Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

St Augustine of Hippo (image courtesy Wikipedia)

3d-gold-star St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) wrote that ‘though God formed man of the dust of the earth, yet the earth itself, and every earthly material, is absolutely created out of nothing; and man’s soul, too, God created out of nothing, and joined to the body, when He made man’ (City of God 14.11).

Norm Geisler explains:[1]

The world must have been made out of nothing because it had a beginning; it came to be. It did not always exist; God did. The world is finite, temporal, and changing, while God is none of these. Hence, the world cannot be made out of God’s substance or essence. It must, then, have come into existence out of nothing by God’s power (Geisler 2003:431).

Carlo Crivelli 007.jpg

Thomas Aquinas (image courtesy Wikipedia)

3d-gold-star Thomas Aquinas (AD1224-1274) wrote on the topic, ‘Whether to create is to make something from nothing?’ He admitted that one of the objections is: ‘To create is not to make something from nothing’, to which his response was:

On the contrary, On the text of Gn. 1, “In the beginning God created,” etc., the gloss has, “To create is to make something from nothing.”

I answer that, As said above (Q[44], A[2]), we must consider not only the emanation of a particular being from a particular agent, but also the emanation of all being from the universal cause, which is God; and this emanation we designate by the name of creation. Now what proceeds by particular emanation, is not presupposed to that emanation; as when a man is generated, he was not before, but man is made from “not-man,” and white from “not-white.” Hence if the emanation of the whole universal being from the first principle be considered, it is impossible that any being should be presupposed before this emanation. For nothing is the same as no being. Therefore as the generation of a man is from the “not-being” which is “not-man,” so creation, which is the emanation of all being, is from the “not-being” which is “nothing” (Summa Theologica, I.45).[2]

For an examination of this topic of God’s creating the universe from nothing (ex nihilo), we move from the sophisticated Aquinas in the thirteenth century to an everyday person on a Christian Internet forum in the 21st century.

Difficult to comprehend creation ex nihilo

A poster on a Christian Forum wrote:

I can’t comprehend ex nihilo. I can’t comprehend the “nothing” that God created the world out of. First I think of space as nothing but space is something. God created the universe, everything, out of NOTHING!’[3]

So do I.[4] But I struggle to even begin to reach a beginning understanding of the nature of the Almighty, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God who bothers to provide salvation to a puny person like me.

As for creating out of ‘nothing’, let’s try. The Hebrew verb bara (created) in Genesis 1:1 expresses ‘something great, new and “epoch-making,” as only God can do it’ (Leupold 1942:40-41), but the verb does not have to eliminate existing material as we know from Isa 65:18b as an example. However, creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) is indicated by passages such as Rom 4:17; Heb 11:3. See also Psalm 33:6, 9; Amos 4:13.

For my understanding, to create out of nothing is associated with the Kal use of bara create, which is only associated with divine creation and refers to the production of something (in this case, the universe – the heavens and the earth) that had no existence before this (Keil & Delitzsch n d:47). There was no word in Hebrew for ‘universe’ so ‘the heaven and the earth’ was the phrase God used. Keil & Delitzsch stated it this way, ‘There is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form, which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning’ (Keil & Delitzsch n d:47).

I find it difficult to get my head around this concept, but when God has revealed that this happened this way, I accept it for the way it was because of who God is. The important thing for me to remember is: The universe (heaven and earth, and the first human beings) had a beginning. The universe is not eternal and the Lord God created them. He called the universe into existence because of who he is and the power he exerts.

By the way, this universe at the end of time will be destroyed by the same power of Almighty God (see 2 Peter 3:7; Rev 21). That’s hard to comprehend as well. It’s as certain to happen as the creation out of nothing was.

The person on the Christian forum continued:

It doesn’t make a difference to me as far as my faith is concerned whether God chose to create humans directly, like Adam as a full adult, or whether God chose evolution to develop the physical human body and then put an immortal soul into the body at some point.[5]

Same here. But when God has not told us that he used macro evolution, but created ex nihilo, I believe him rather than the God-denying evolutionists, especially with Darwin’s eminent promotion. We are dealing with the truthfulness of God. Since he is correct about eternal salvation, he is also correct about how he made the universe (limited though the details may be in Scripture).

The poster continued:

I always liked science. I was a biology major with minors in math and geology (long time ago) but I still try to keep up on things by subscribing to some magazines like Scientific American, etc. That stuff fascinates me because I can see the Hand of God in it,[6]

I’m a maths and science major from high school but didn’t pursue it further, although I went into university to become a science teacher but didn’t finish the course. It’s encouraging that you see the hand of God in science. Many scientists do not. In my recent 5th valve replacement heart surgery and an ICD (like a pacemaker) implant revealed the intricate nature of the heart’s electrical system. One nurse told me: ‘The heart has an amazing electrical system but there is no motor to drive it’. My response was that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but that zoomed right past her.

The poster brought Darwin and God into the conversation:

I realize Darwin wanted to remove God from the equation but that’s just Darwin’s opinion. What counts — to me anyway — is that God won’t remove ME from God’s Equation![7]

It’s not just Darwin who wanted to remove God from the creation equation. Many other scientists and journalists do it, Richard Dawkins[8] and Christopher Hitchens[9] are overt examples of this anti-God attempt in the scientific world. Let’s check out what Dawkins and Hitchens thing.

Richard Dawkins Cooper Union Shankbone.jpg

Richard Dawkins (photograph courtesy Wikipedia)

6pointblue Richard Dawkins wrote: ‘I never take part in debates with creationists’. His footnote at this point was, ‘I do not have the chutzpah to refuse on grounds offered by one of my most distinguished scientific colleagues, whenever a creationist tries to stage a formal debate with him (I shall not name him, but his words should be read in an Australian accent): “That would look great on your CV; not so good on mine”’ (Dawkins 2006:318).

So what’s Dawkins’ view of God and creation since he is the one who wrote The God delusion (2006)? Of natural selection of Darwinian evolution, Dawkins wrote that ‘it shatters the illusion of design within the domain of biology, and teaches us to be suspicious of any kind of design hypothesis in physics and cosmology as well’ (2006:143). Dawkins endorses other authors in what they write about God and creation. He favourably cited physicist Leonard Susskind who wrote, ‘Modern cosmology really began with Darwin and Wallace. Unlike anyone before them, they provided explanations of our existence that completely rejected supernatural agents’ (in Dawkins 2006:143).

He also referred to the prose poetry of Peter Atkins’ hypothesis of a ‘lazy God’, Dawkins summarised: ‘Step by step, Atkins succeeds in reducing the amount of work the lazy God has to do until he finally ends up doing nothing at all: he might as well not bother to exist’. Then Dawkins added what I, as an evangelical Christian, consider is a blasphemous statement, ‘My memory vividly hears Woody Allen’s perceptive whine: “If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an under-achiever’ (in Dawkins 2006:144).

Opposition to the Dawkins’ view of god

Alister McGrath.jpg

Alister McGrath (photograph courtesy Wikipedia)

6pointblue Alister & Joanna McGrath examined the validity of Dawkins’ arguments in The God Delusion (Dawkins 2006) in The Dawkins Delusion? (McGrath & McGrath (2007). Their comments include these:

Whereas [Stephen Jay] Gould[10] at least tries to weigh the evidence, Dawkins simply offers the atheist equivalent of slick hellfire preaching, substituting turbocharged rhetoric and highly selective manipulation of facts for careful, evidence-based thinking. Curiously, there is surprisingly little scientific analysis in The God Delusion…. Dawkins preaches to his god-hating choirs….

Many have been disturbed by Dawkins’s crude stereotypes, vastly oversimplified binary oppositions (science is good; religion is bad), straw men and hostility toward religion…. Dawkins relies so excessively on rhetoric rather than the evidence that would otherwise be his natural stock in trade clearly indicates that something is wrong with his case. Ironically the ultimate achievement of The God Delusion for modern atheism may be to suggest that this emperor has no clothes to wear. Might atheism be a delusion about God? (McGrath & McGrath 2007:11, 97).

Christopher Hitchens crop 2.jpg

Christopher Hitchens (photograph courtesy Wikipedia)

6pointblue This was Christopher Hitchens’ view:

It’s, as I say in my book, it’s an optional belief now. It’s been optional ever since LaPlace, when demonstrating the workings of the universe, was asked well, there doesn’t seem to be a God in this design of yours, he said well, it actually operates perfectly well without that assumption. So you can make it if you want, but it’s completely superfluous. It can’t be integral to it. It doesn’t explain anything. Einstein did say he was not an atheist, but he went on to say that he had no belief whatever in a personal God. He was a spinozist, which is a very exact way of saying that you do not believe that God intervenes in human affairs….

It seems to me, though, that the really unbelievable thing, the thing that cannot be believed, is that we on this very tiny speck of a planet in a solar system that has otherwise only dead planets, and the death of which we can all anticipate almost to the hour, the heat death of our known universe, that it’s on the very, very edge of a whirling, unimaginable space with other galaxies, that we are the point of all this creation. It’s just not possible for me, at any rate, to believe that….

Many people of high intelligence and fervent conscience have been devout believers. I say that I think the belief is stupid and unfounded and false, and potentially, latently, always wicked, because it is both servile in one way, and arrogant in another. And that’s why I dare to say that it’s ab initio, a poison. But I certainly do not say of people who have faith that they are dumb. Isaac Newton was practically a spiritualist. Alfred Russel Wallace, who did a lot of Darwin’s work for him, had weird, supernatural beliefs as well. These things are compatible with high intelligence and great morality. But we would be better off if we left them behind….

You know, if there’s a God, why have I got cancer? What a silly question. It would be, I wouldn’t have any idea why He would want that. I would just have to accept it. But I mean, I don’t, I do not go in for this game at all, and I don’t know why anybody does. (Roberts 2007).

Mark D Roberts (photograph courtesy Patheos)

In his debate with Christopher Hitchens, Dr Mark Roberts concluded:

I think what I would want to say is that we can look at the wonder of Creation, or that’s perhaps begging the question, of the universe as it is, and we can get to the point of saying either that’s all there is, and it is wonderful, or we can get to the point of saying there must be something beyond this, some sort of God, can’t be proved, but one can’t say that it doesn’t matter whether there is that God or not (Roberts 2007).

portrait of R. Douglas Geivett

(R Douglas Geivett, photograph courtesy Talbot School of Theology)

6pointblue Christian apologist, William Lane Craig debated Christopher Hitchens at Biola University, California, on April 5, 2009. Christian apologist, Doug Geivett was at that debate and recorded his comments on the night of the debate in, ‘William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens: First Report’. The topic of the debate was, ‘Does God exist?’ These are a few grabs from Geivett’s early assessment:

  • In the rebuttal, cross-examination, and response portions of the debate that followed, Bill Craig pressed Christopher Hitchens on his conception of atheism, his reasons for being an atheist, and his responses to the arguments presented in Craig’s opening speech. In this respect, Craig was in greater control of themes in the debate. This was helped immensely by the clear progression, crisp identification, and repetition of his original arguments. Hitchens resisted Craig’s efforts to extract a more precise definition of Hitchens’s atheism than his simple denial that there is adequate evidence for theism. Hitchens claimed that if you believe the universe is designed, then you also have to believe the designer is short on the excellence attributed by theists to God. There is a tension between there being a god who is completely indifferent to human suffering, or a god who provides a bizarre remedy in the form of having “someone tortured to death during the Bronze Age” and Roman rule, a god who demands conformity to his requirements in order to be saved from damnation, and, in any case, who leaves countless individuals without opportunity to hear about and accept this remedy.
  • The most noteworthy difference between these debaters consists in this: preparation. One may agree or disagree with Bill Craig’s claims, but there can be no question that he was thoroughly prepared for every aspect of the debate and never faltered in his response to objections by Hitchens. Christopher Hitchens, on the other hand, dropped several of Craig’s opening arguments, and seriously misunderstood or distorted the moral argument, the argument from the resurrection of Jesus, and Craig’s appeal to experience. I think Craig was most successful in demonstrating the error in Hitchens’s discombobulated rendition of Craig’s moral argument. Whether the audience followed the competing interpretations of N. T. Wright’s historical argument concerning the probability of the resurrection is another matter. But I can vouch for Craig’s construal of Wright’s argument, and, for that matter, for Hitchens’s confusion on the point. As for the appeal to experience of God (and the witness of the Holy Spirit), I might have put the point differently than Craig did and treat it as a kind of evidence that serves the subject of the experience without the need for argument. But Bill Craig and I may have a different view of the epistemology of such experience….
  • Returning, finally, to something I mentioned previously, this debate exposed a difference in preparation on the part of these two debaters. This is far more significant than it might seem at first. William Lane Craig has debated this topic dozens of times, without wavering from the same basic pattern of argument. He presents the same arguments in the same form, and presses his opponents in the same way for arguments in defense of their own worldviews. He’s consistent. He’s predictable. One might think that this is a liability, that it’s too risky to face a new opponent who has so much opportunity to review Craig’s specific strategy. But tonight’s debate proves otherwise. Hitchens can have no excuse for dropping arguments when he knows—or should know—exactly what to expect. Suppose one replies that William Craig is a more experienced debater and a trained philosopher, while Christopher Hitchens is a journalist working outside the Academy. That simply won’t do as a defense of Hitchens. First, Hitchens is no stranger to debate. Second, he is clearly a skillful polemicist. Third—and most important—Hitchens published a book, god Is Not Great, in which he makes bold claims against religion in general and Christianity in particular. With his book, he threw down the challenge. To his credit, he rose to meet a skillful challenger. But did he rise to the occasion? Did he acquit himself well? At one point he acknowledged that some of his objections to the designer argument were “layman’s” objections. His book, I believe, is also the work of a layman. It appears to have been written for popular consumption and without concern for accountability to Christians whose lives are dedicated to the defense of the Gospel (Geivett 2009a).

6pointblue Elsewhere, Geivett reviewed Hitchens’ book, god is not great (Hitchens 2007). Part of that review stated:

Ignoring Reasonable Christianity. To begin chapter 5, Hitchens quotes (without attribution) several Christian thinkers to the effect that Christianity is opposed to reason. He quotes Thomas Aquinas as saying, “I am a man of one book” (63), for example, and includes other similar quotes. This misleads the unsuspecting reader into thinking that Christianity always pits religious faith against reason. This is laughably false in the case of Aquinas, who is famous for his rational arguments for God’s existence. There may be rough strands and pockets of anti-intellectualism in Christian history, but there also is a rich and deep current of vigorous intellectualism, as evidenced by historic Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Pascal, and Edwards, as well as by modern intellectuals such as G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, J.P. Moreland, and William Lane Craig. Rather than engaging Christian theism (or any other religion) at its rational best,8 however, Hitchens scavenges around for the worst examples of illogic, ignorance, and outright stupidity in religion. The straw man makes many loud-mouthed appearances in god Is Not Great (Geivett 2009b).

Peterhitchens.jpg

(Peter Hitchens, photograph courtesy Wikipedia)

There is an interesting perspective that is provided by Peter Hitchens, Christopher’s brother and a Christian. I encourage you to read this article, ‘Old Answers to the New Atheism: An Interview with Peter Hitchens’ (Ligonier Ministries 2014). On the death of his brother, Christopher, on 16 December 2011, the British newspaper, Mail Online, published Peter’s article, ‘In Memoriam, my courageous brother Christopher, 1949-2011’. In this article, Peter recounts:

Here’s a thing I will say now without hesitation, unqualified and important. The one word that comes to mind when I think of my brother is ‘courage’. By this I don’t mean the lack of fear which some people have, which enables them to do very dangerous or frightening things because they have no idea what it is to be afraid. I mean a courage which overcomes real fear, while actually experiencing it….

People sometimes tell me that I have been ‘courageous’ to say something moderately controversial in a public place. Not a bit of it. This is not courage. Courage is deliberately taking a known risk, sometimes physical, sometimes to your livelihood, because you think it is too important not to.

My brother possessed this virtue to the very end, and if I often disagreed with the purposes for which he used it, I never doubted the quality or ceased to admire it. I’ve mentioned here before C.S.Lewis’s statement that courage is the supreme virtue, making all the others possible. It should be praised and celebrated, and is the thing I‘d most wish to remember.

God’s plan for the present and future

God doesn’t remove any human being from the equation (we all will have to answer to him), but the new heavens and new earth also are in God’s plan for our future. The person on the Christian forum stated:

Theories change. New ideas pop up and people work on them and research them and argue them. Some are proven and some can never be proven. God doesn’t change. God is, was and always will be.[11]

I say, ‘Amen’, to the last 2 sentences. But I agree that theories change but God doesn’t. That’s why I’m so pleased that God has revealed his nature and actions – past, present, and future – in Scripture, on a limited scale.
To this person, I stated that this sure reads like she is convinced by the awesome revelation of God in creation and Scripture. I urged her to continue promoting it on the forum.

Dr Norman Geisler responds

6pointblue I checked what Norman Geisler said of ‘creation out of nothing’ as his understanding of issues has had input from Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, since the time of Geisler’s PhD in philosophy that he earned from Loyola University, Chicago. Geisler wrote:

Aquinas argued that creation must be out of nothing. By definition, “Nothing is the same as non-being.” However, “when anything is said to be made from nothing, the preposition from does not signify a material cause, but only an order” (Summa Theologica 1.45.2). Likewise, we speak of midday coming from morning, meaning after morning but not literally out of it.
To create from nothing is really a negative concept: “The sense is … it is not made from anything; just as if we were to say, He speaks of nothing, because he does not speak of anything” (ibid., 1.45.2). The ancient dictum that “nothing comes from nothing” is not to be understood absolutely: It means that something cannot be caused by nothing, but not that something cannot come after nothing. That is, something can be created from nothing but not by nothing (Geisler 2003:432-433).

I had never thought of and understood creation ex nihilo that way, but this helped me get a better understanding on some of its meaning, thanks to Aquinas and Geisler.

Works consulted

Aquinas, T 1947. Summa Theologica (online). Tr English Dominican Province. Bensinger Bros edition, available at: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/ (Accessed 28 January 2014).

Dawkins, R 2006. The God delusion. London: Black Swan (Transworld Publishers).

Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology: God, creation, vol 2. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Geivett, D 2009a. Doug Geivett’s Blog, ‘William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens: First Report’ (online), April 5. Available at: http://douggeivett.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/william-lane-craig-vs-christopher-hitchens-first-report/ (Accessed 28 January 2014).

Geivett, D 2009b. god is not great: How religion poisons everything (book review), Christian Research Journal, June 11. Available at: http://www.equip.org/articles/god-is-not-great-how-religion-poisons-everything/ (Accessed 28 January 2014).

Hitchens, C 2007. god is not great: How religion poisons everything. New York, NY: Twelve (Hachette Book Group, Inc.).

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vols 1 & 2. London: Evangelical Press (The Wartburg Press USA)
McGrath, A E & McGrath, J C 2007. The Dawkins delusion? Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books.

Roberts, M D 2007. Christopher Hitchens: Our three-hour debate (online). Patheos. Available at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/christopher-hitchens-our-three-hour-debate/ (Accessed 28 January 2014).

Notes


[1] On the homepage of Dr Norman L Geisler, it states:

Dr. Norman Geisler, PhD, is a prolific author, veteran professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, apologist, evangelist, and theologian.  To those who ask, “Who is Norm Geisler?” some have suggested, “Well, imagine a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham and you’re not too far off.” Norm has authored/coauthored over 80 books and hundreds of articles. He has taught theology, philosophy, and apologetics on the college or graduate level for over 50 years.  He has served as a professor at some of the finest Seminaries in the United States, including Trinity Evangelical Seminary, Dallas Seminary, and Southern Evangelical Seminary.  He now lends his talents to Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California, as the Distinguished Professor of Apologetics (available at: http://www.normgeisler.com, accessed 28 January 2014).

[2] This is from Aquinas’s ‘Treatise on the creation [Qs 44-49]. Question 45, ‘The mode of emanation of things from the first principle (eight articles)’, St. Thomas Aquinas 1947. Summa Theologica, transl. by Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Benziger Bros.edn. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/index.htm (Accessed 28 January 2014).

[3] Christian Fellowship Forum, The Fellowship Hall, ‘Dinosaurs’, charma#36, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?msg=122590.36&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&redirCnt=1 (Accessed 28 January 2014).

[4] The following includes my response as ozspen#41, ibid.

[5] Op cit., charma#36.

[6] Ibid., charma#36.

[7] Ibid., charma#36.

[8]From 1967 to 1969, Richard Dawkins, a scientist, was an assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1995-2008, he was the Charles Simonyi Professor for Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University. At the time of writing The God delusion, Dawkins also was a fellow of New College (Dawkins 2006:1). Alister McGrath (D. Phil., Oxford University) is the primary author of a response to Dawkins’ atheism, The Dawkins Delusion? (McGrath & McGrath 2007). McGrath is professor of historical theology at Oxford University. ‘After studying chemistry at Oxford, he did research in molecular biophysics, developing new methods for investigating biological membranes. He then studied Christian theology, specializing in the history of Christian thought and especially in issues of science and religion’ (McGrath & McGrath 2007: inside back flap).

[9] The late Christopher Hitchens was an author, polemicist and journalist. He died in 2011 at the age of 62. He was a prolific writer and prominent in his promotion of the evolutionary cause. One of his most famous books was titled, god is not great: How religion poisons everything (Hitchens 2007).

[10] According to The New York Times, Gould, a Harvard University evolutionary theorist, died in 2002 of cancer at the age of 60. See ‘Stephen Jay Gould, 60, Is Dead; Enlivened Evolutionary Theory’ (Accessed 28 January 2014). Hitchens labels Professor Stephen Jay Gould as a ‘celebrated atheist’ (Roberts 2007).

[11] Op cit., charma#36.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 September 2016.

What’s the good of Christianity? Atheistic shock!

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

clip_image002

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Could you imagine such a militant atheist as Richard Dawkins ever making a positive comment about Christianity? I was shocked, stunned, surprised and encouraged by a quote in the UK newspaper, The Times (2 April 2010), by Dawkins:

‘Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said in The Times: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse”’.[1]

Imagine that! Christianity is a fortification and protection against something worse – Islam. And that from a leading opponent of Christianity – Richard Dawkins.

The day of miracles is not over!!

Richard W on Christian Fellowship Forum provided this response (#2) to me:

I wonder if other atheists are being critical of him and his nostalgia for European Christendom. After doing all he could to promote the demise of that Christendom he now seems rather wimpy in looking back on Christendom with almost a longing. Britain is not like it was a generation ago when he made a name for himself writing ‘The Selfish Gene’. It is now a nation where more Muslims worship on Friday than members of the state religion bother to show up on Sunday. His regret is somewhat natural, but I’m thinking it’s a late realization that the Christian faith he rails against is the best protector of civilization he could ever have hoped for.

This is the same Dawkins that wanted to arrest ‘that leering old villain in a frock‘, the pope, just weeks ago. Pope Benedict said that a nation that turns away from God entirely has nothing preventing it from treating people as disposable means to an end. The Dawkins was offended by that, seeing it as a reference to atheism. But now it looks like the Dawkins is coming to understand that comment in actuality as he contemplates Britain without a major Christian influence falling into jihad and terrorism and death for unbelievers in Islam. He’s finally seeing that Christendom actually gave him the space to dissent, and that space will disappear in a few years. Dawkins needs Christendom. No Christendom means no Dawkins, at least not a public dissenting Dawkins.

He can plot and rail against the pope and there is no fatwa against him for doing so. Why? Because Christians don’t do fatwas. No police will bring him to jail for blasphemy.  He can burn Bibles all day long as long as the environmentalists don’t complain. He will not be beaten. His house will not be burned. He can sleep in on Sunday morning. But he knows he dare not burn a Koran or criticize an Imam though. He knows his children, or his students if he has no children, will be forced into Islam or dhimmitude (sic) if they don’t escape Europe entirely first. He is an insulting boor that is just beginning to see his fate. May he continue to shake the sleep from his eyes. Or maybe we should just pray that the scales fall from his eyes.

I was never convinced by ‘The Selfish Gene’ and he has never appeared to me to be anything but a pseudoscientist with a penchant for getting himself recognised as someone important.

A Christian leader to whom I sent some of the above information responded:

For some time I have been thinking about many politicians and other society leaders in the West who are looking down on Christianity and trying to belittle the Christian Church. I was asking myself questions: “Don’t they see the value and the difference between what Christian faith is and does for people and the society and what Islam is about?”, “How can’t they see that Islam, which some of them give credence to, cannot be compared in value and benefit as Christianity?” So finally, it needs someone like Richard Dawkins, a militant atheist, to point this out to those who refuse to see.

Let us hope that many will wake up and face the truth. Richard Dawkins himself is not beyond the reach of God’s grace. Let us hope he will come to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

Thank you, brother, for your perceptive analysis of God’s ability to reach even the most depraved and resistant.

 

Vishal Magalwadi: What good is Christianity?

Magalwadi visited my home country of Australia in 2013 on the theme, ‘What good is Christianity?’ sponsored by Family Voice Australia. I heard Magalwadi when he visited Rothwell Qld. Steve Austin of 612 ABC Brisbane (radio) interviewed Magalwadi on the theme, ‘Is the Bible responsible for the success of some nations?’ (the audio interview is available at that link).

vishalbwVishal Magalwadi (from his official website: Revelation Movement).

Vishal Mangalwadi was born and raised in India, studied philosophy in secular universities and Hindu ashrams. Then after studying at the Christian community, Swiss L’Abri, ‘he returned to India to serve the rural poor through several creative projects. This frontline engagement with oppression and corruption sent him to jail, helped prevent the revival of widow-burning, and led to politically organizing peasants and lower-caste “untouchables”’ (Mangalwadi 2001:back cover).

That was it that changed his worldview to want to do something about the corruption in his Hindu society? That change did not come from his Hindu worldview. From where did it come? Here is his statement about ‘a vision of national resurrection’ in any country, but his application comes from the USA:

The Bible prepared colonial Americans for liberty because it taught the truth of God’s redemptive intervention in history. God liberated a bunch of Hebrew slaves and transformed them into a mighty nation. The Old Testament describes the struggle of twelve tribes to become one nation. Glorious reigns of David and Solomon were followed by political tyranny that inflamed latent tribalism and split the nation.

The Israelites’ rejection of God led to their apparent rejection by God. He punished their intellectual, moral, religious, and political corruption by destroying both nations – Israel and Judah. On August 14, 586 VC, God destroyed his own temple and Jerusalem, sending his chosen people into exile in Babylon. Many Jews thought that their sun had finally set. They saw no hope for their nation’s resurrection. The prophet Jeremiah lamented:

‘How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave’ (Lamentations 1:1 ESV).

The tribes that lost their faith in their Scriptures also lost their hope and disappeared from the canvas of history. Those that kept their faith alive became the model for the present state of Israel. After destroying Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar took the prophet Ezekiel to Babylon as a captive. Ezekiel’s people were like the fish in our opening parable. They believed that their nation was dead and they were like dry bones with no future. Ezekiel, however, sought God and internalized the divine scroll [Ezekiel 2:9 – 3:3]. In a dramatic vision, God then asked Ezekiel:

‘“Son of man, can these bones live?”… Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord”’ [Ezek 27:3, 11-14].

The fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy and Israel’s great awakening and began when the Persian emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and came face to face with Daniel’s knowledge of God, nationalism, and obedience of faith[2]…. Against the king’s own feelings Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. His miraculous deliverance resulted in the king issuing his revolutionary proclamation in 538 BC:

‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up’ [2 Chron 36:23].

This began the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

‘Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land for ever (Isaiah 60:20-21 NIV) (Magalwadi 2011:387-389).

What is the application to any culture? Magalwadi’s asks and then answers:

What happens to a culture that is clueless about what is true, good, and just? Pilate answered that question when he declared: ‘I have the power to crucify you or set you free.’ When we believe truth is unknowable, we rob it of any authority. What is left is brute power wielding arbitrary force. Whether a person or an ethnic minority is guilty or innocent becomes irrelevant. His or her right to life depends exclusively on the whims or whoever has power. Any nation that refuses to live under truth contemns itself to live under sinful man….

Rome’s collapse meant Europe lost its soul – the source of its civilizational authority – and descended into the ‘Dark Ages.’ The Bible was the power that revived Europe. Europeans became so enthralled with God’s Word that they rejected their sacred myths to hear God’s Word, study it, internalize it, speak it, and promote it to build the modern world. Will it relapse into a new dark age or humble itself before the Word of the Almighty God? (Magalwadi 2011:392, 401).

For an interview with Magalwadi, see: ‘Truth and Transformation’ (interview by Warwick Marsh).

9781595553225

(image courtesy of Thomas Nelson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d recommend a read of Vishal Mangalwadi 2011, The book that made your world: How the Bible created the soul of Western civilization (Nashville: Thomas Nelson). Why? Here is a man who was born and bred in the East, brought up under Hinduism, and then converted to Christ. He knows the story from both sides of the fence. And he comes down in support of Christianity.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105 ESV).

Notes:


[1] This quote by Dawkins is also in Ruth Gledhill, London, ‘Christians losing faith amid abuse scandal’, The Australian, April 03, 2010. Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/christians-losing-faith-amid-abuse-scandal/story-e6frg6so-1225849033470 (Accessed 19 December 2013).

[2] This is discussed in the Appendix, ‘The Bible: Is it a fax from heaven?’ (Mangalwadi 2011:390-403.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 August 2016.

clip_image006clip_image006[1]clip_image006[2]clip_image006[3]clip_image006[4]clip_image006[5]clip_image006[6]clip_image006[7]clip_image006[8]

A biblical theist responds to an atheist

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

clip_image002 clip_image004

(images courtesy Christ Art; Open Clip Art Library)

By Spencer D Gear

David, an atheist from the Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc., wrote just prior to Christmas 2012:

Let us simplify the muddle in this topic, starting with a few basic facts.

All historians of any worth consider Julius Caesar actually existed.

Not all historians of note consider the New Testament Jesus existed.

A consensus of historian has concluded that the Jesus of the New Testament existed. Most of those have a religious bent and there are many arguments for and against this proposition. But let’s accept it on face value for the exercise.

The reason for the controversy on this part of history is that the evidence for the existence of the NT Jesus is very scant. If the NT Jesus existed, the highest probability is that he was ineffectual as being an ‘anybody’ when alive. If the purported miracles and wonders were real and had actually happened, contemporary historians would have recorded them. They did not. There is not one iota of credible ex-biblical evidence suggesting that the NT Jesus was divine.

He was not known in his time because he was just one of the run of the mill ‘messiahs’. Dime a dozen would be an adequate expression. There would be no way that he would have escaped the attention of the Roman authorities let alone the Jewish population. This is the biggest argument against the New Testament being a valid account of wonders and miracles.

Holy books cannot be trusted to be truthful or otherwise all holy books would have to be accepted.

Arguments for divinity or miraculous happenings based on the bible are as good as arguments base on the Koran or other holy books. They are not accepted by professional non-partisan historians.[1]

I responded:[2]

The reason for the controversy on this part of history is that the evidence for the existence of the NT Jesus is very scant. If the NT Jesus existed, the highest probability is that he was ineffectual as being an ‘anybody’ when alive. If the purported miracles and wonders were real and had actually happened, contemporary historians would have recorded them. They did not. There is not one iota of credible extra-biblical evidence suggesting that the NT Jesus was divine.[3]

These are your assertions that seem to be based on your presuppositions. You provided not one example to support your claim.

David wrote above: ‘He was not known in his time because he was just one of the run of the mill ‘messiahs’. Dime a dozen would be an adequate expression’.

This is no more than David’s assertion. Do you think that I’m going to be persuaded by that lack of evidence by you?

David: ‘Holy books cannot be trusted to be truthful or otherwise all holy books would have to be accepted’.

So says David.

David: ‘Arguments for divinity or miraculous happenings based on the bible are as good as arguments base on the Koran or other holy books. They are not accepted by professional non-partisan historians’.

Again, so says David.

You have as much chance of persuading me of your arguments as a Toyota salesman telling me of the benefits of a Ford car.

David wrote further:

Let us assume for a moment that Jesus is God, he does exist and all the other gods are false. Why should I follow anything he says?[4]

I replied:[5]

First, since you ‘assume’, that is a presupposition and I would propose a hypothesis and test it for validation or falsification from the available historical evidence regarding Jesus.

However, the worldwide evidence indicates that your first statement does not define the nature and personhood of who Jesus is. ‘Jesus is God’ cannot be a complete statement about his true nature as the New Testament reveals. Your ‘Jesus is God’ scenario is erecting a straw man logical fallacy[6] as Jesus’ nature is more comprehensive than that.

As to why you should follow Jesus, you will have to make that decision yourself, based on the truth of the New Testament Scriptures – which you state that you don’t believe as an atheist. But you are a long way from accepting that so I will not deal with that matter as I would be ‘casting pearls’ and I’m not about to do that.

clip_image006

(image courtesy The Telegraph)

As for Antony Flew, you stated:

Firstly, most atheists had never heard of Anthony Flew until it was touted he had changed his mind. Anthony Flew did not believe in a personal god or even the Christian god but came down on the side of a kind of deism. But there is more to this story than meets the eye.[7]

That is a statement about the ignorance of the atheistic establishment, if what you state is true, because Antony Flew was a leading atheistic British philosopher who taught at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, Reading and York University, Toronto, Canada. The atheists’ ignorance of Antony Flew and his beliefs does not alter the fact of his prominence in the atheistic establishment before his conversion to deism. [See the YouTube video of ‘Antony Flew’s conversion to theism’]

David: ‘The divinity of Jesus is a myth (extraordinary story without evidence) which is believed by Christians’.
Not according to the historically reliable New Testament Gospels.

David, the atheist, wrote:

Again, this is a hypothetical and it means any god of any believer. Each can answer in their own manner. Strange but expected but none have. Your skirting around it is noticeable. Answer it about the god in which you believe.[8]

I’m not interested in pursuing your hypothetical concept of God as it is nothing more than trying to get conversation going with me. I’m skirting around NOTHING. The Trinitarian Lord God Almighty in whom I believe has stated this of your atheism:

blue-arrow-small ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good’ (Psalm 14:1 NIV).

The biblical worldview as described in the Scriptures fits like a hand in glove with the world around me – I see its beauty and its ugliness. I have recently retired after 34 years in family counselling, the last 17 years full-time. I see the beauty and ugliness in human beings (including myself) and God has told us that that is exactly the way it is:

blue-arrow-small ‘For you [the Lord] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you [the Lord] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well’ (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV).

blue-arrow-small ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth’ (Psalm 19:1-6 NIV).

blue-arrow-small As for the ugliness in our world, we find the cause coming from the first two human beings who lived and had the choice to obey or disobey God. They chose to disobey and we reap the dire, sinful consequence. Read about it in Genesis 3.

blue-arrow-small But a new heaven and a new earth are coming (See Revelation 21).

blue-arrow-small Until then, all human beings have the opportunity of new life through Christ: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).

Again David wrote:

I would not follow the words of Jesus if they did not tie up with the highest ethical standards unless he pointed out he would torture me for eternity if I didn’t. I would accept he is god and would no longer be an atheist, of course![9]

Humanistic answers like you have given here are a dud. I know. I tried them. Only a relationship with the God-man, Jesus Christ, changed my life. I would not trade that for all the $$$ in the world.

David again:

Repeat mode on: Even if Anthony Flew was very well known by all atheists, and he wasn’t, his words would not be accepted just because he is an atheist. You obviously have not looked at anything but religious nonsense about him.[10]

Your bigotry is showing up again. You want me to believe that your atheism has the sense for me to follow and that anybody’s relationship with Jesus Christ is ‘religious nonsense’. When will you quit using this ad hominem logical fallacy?[11] I should have stated that it was an example of an ad hominem (circumstantial) logical fallacy, which ‘is not an assault on the man’s character, but on some special circumstances surrounding him…. The attack is against other beliefs that the man holds’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:94).

David wrote: ‘This is funny. I say the divine Jesus is a myth only believed by Christians and you offer proof that he is not, from a Christian view’.[12]

That is NOT what I stated. This is what I said:

However, the worldwide evidence indicates that your first statement does not define the nature and personhood of who Jesus is. ‘Jesus is God’ cannot be a complete statement about his true nature as the New Testament reveals. Your ‘Jesus is God’ scenario is erecting a straw man logical fallacy as Jesus’ nature is more comprehensive than that.[13]

He is the God-man Jesus Christ. That’s the biblical evidence. He is not just God. He is God who became flesh and that makes Jesus the God-Man [see John 1:14; .

How do you think an atheist would reply?

This was David, the atheist’s reply, to what I just wrote:

Anthony Flew lost the plot and was manipulated by others to admit to there being a designer when he did not have up to date scientific information. He was suffering from senility at the time. Get your head out of religious websites and smell the roses.

You have failed to properly check this story out and you have failed to understand the unimportance of it. This is a dumb religious strawman. No one cares what Anthony Flew thought. Okay, I’m wrong there. Apparently some Christians think it is important. Let me rephrase that, most atheists are not interested in what Anthony Flew thought.

I really don’t even care if he was of sound mind and chose to believe in a designer force, a deity or a god or even the Christian God, the Islamic Allah or Bugs Bunny.

Calling my comments on this matter, bigotry is inaccurate. (to say the least)

I certainly don’t want discussion with you to go any further. What made you think I would?

A fluster of posts with Biblical quotes, religious stories and anecdotes do not answer the question I posed.

Can you answer it thanks. It will not harm you.[14]

[15]You are into logical fallacies big time as you have demonstrated here: Genetic fallacy[16], straw man fallacy[17], and red herring fallacy[18].

No, I will not answer any further as there cannot be a logical discussion when you continue to use logical fallacies like this towards my posts.

I also chose to respond[19] to David’s statement above: ‘A fluster of posts with Biblical quotes, religious stories and anecdotes do not answer the question I posed’.

Yes, they do, but you don’t want to listen to all of the reliable historical evidence that is available from Scripture. Yes, reliable historical evidence. This has been proved many times over, but you don’t want to hear about it.

clip_image007

Dr. Paul Barnett

(image courtesy Anglican Church League)

Dr. Paul Barnett, a former history teacher at Macquarie University, Sydney, has written a number of publications that confirm the historical reliability of the Bible. He wrote as a historian and a Christian. His publications include:

1. Is the New Testament History (rev)? (Servant Publications 1987).
2. Jesus and the Logic of History (IVP Academic 2001);
3. Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity (IVP Academic 2002);
4. The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years (Eerdmans 2005);
5. Paul: Missionary of Jesus (Eerdmans 2008).

He was so competent as a historian that Macquarie University hired him to teach history. He is an ‘Honorary Visiting Fellow in Ancient History (Macquarie University)’[20] and confirms the historical reliability of the New Testament.

But, ah! You, as an atheist, don’t want to hear that evidence. You write off ‘Biblical quotes’, but Dr Paul Barnett, the historian, can demonstrate the historical reliability of the New Testament. As an atheist, you have decided to exclude reliable historical records from your repertoire of historical evidence? Why? Your presuppositional bias against the Bible!

How do you think David, the atheist, would respond to this?

Looking back at some of your posts over time shows a preponderance mention of various fallacies, which you love to throw around like confetti for effect. Mostly they are not related to that which you are criticising and it is only done to show you are innocent of written wrongdoing yourself and the master describing the literary faults of others. If I had to guess, I would say that religious-method-lessons, (some religious websites promote this dishonesty and a start to investigate can be found here http://www.atheismsfallacies.com/ ) panic, desperation, run out of ideas and insecurity causes this.

And about the question, well, looks like your fear of the wrath of Yahweh is showing even though you didn’t state it just in case he found out.
Do you mean Paul William Barnett, the ex-Anglican Bishop of North Sydney? Yes, he would be unbiased as it gets. Not.

BTW, the Garden of Eden was not real, it is a bad metaphor at best and anyone using it in discussion as though it was real, should be careful of calling other people names concerning credibility. And I am not going into the creationist mumbo jumbo arguments…trust me.[21]

How does one respond to such a put down of the Christian faith and misinterpretation of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis? This was only a brief reply by me:

David: ‘Do you mean Paul William Barnett, the ex-Anglican Bishop of North Sydney? Yes, he would be unbiased as it gets. Not’.

He is such a competent historian that Macquarie University hired him. And you, an atheist, would be as unbiased as it gets. Right??

David: ‘BTW, the Garden of Eden was not real, it is a bad metaphor at best and anyone using it in discussion as though it was real, should be careful of calling other people names concerning credibility. And I am not going into the creationist mumbo jumbo arguments…trust me’.

This is David, the atheistic president of the Australian Atheist Foundation speaking. Please tell me your qualifications in biblical hermeneutics.
Here you are with your ad hominem logical fallacy again: ‘the creationist mumbo jumbo arguments’.

We cannot have a logical discussion when you resort to these kinds of tactics in your misotheism.[22]

I also replied:

David: ‘Looking back at some of your posts over time shows a preponderance mention of various fallacies, which you love to throw around like confetti for effect. Mostly they are not related to that which you are criticising and it is only done to show you are innocent of written wrongdoing yourself and the master describing the literary faults of others. If I had to guess, I would say that religious-method-lessons, (some religious websites promote this dishonesty and a start to investigate can be found here http://www.atheismsfallacies.com/) panic, desperation, run out of ideas and insecurity causes this’.

This is a false accusation. This is also another example of your use of a fallacy of relevance: An error that does not address the issues (Geisler & Brooks 1990:93-100).

When I have accused you of using this and other logical fallacies I have been accurate in my accusations. I happen to know what opponents of Christianity do and you are no exception with your use of logical fallacies.

‘If I had to guess’.

That’s exactly what you have done here.

David’s response: [23]

“He is such a competent historian that Macquarie University hired him. And you, an atheist, would be as unbiased as it gets. Right??”

Let’s get some facts straight as you are being quite disingenuous on a number of fronts. Paul William Barnett is a fellow in ancient history at the Macquarie University. He has written about the history of the New Testament and not the divinity of Jesus. As far as I know he does not aspire to creationism.

The existence of Jesus of the New Testament is not under dispute in this thread as it is unimportant. What is of paramount significance is whether this character was divine. There is no credible ex-Biblical evidence for that As a Christian, he may hold the view that Jesus was divine on faith but that is all.

“Please tell me your qualifications in biblical hermeneutics”.

No, I’m not an expert on interpretation of the bible. Neither are you. And if there was one interpretation then there would be one religion. This method of escaping the question of your creationist leanings is another example of manipulating the language.

I don’t have to be an expert as the human race is very lucky, it has the best truth finder there is, it is called science. It’s not perfect but nothing comes close to it. Science would be very pleased indeed if creationists could demonstrate another force in the universe but creationism/intelligent design has failed to produce any studies refuting evolution in accredited scientific journals where they may be investigated by peer review.

And please don’t come back with excuses that scientist have a conspiracy theory against God, are influenced by the Devil or are deluded and therefore won’t allow any studies to be published. That is nonsense.

A GAC speaker and evolutionist, Eugenie C. Scott, is the Executive Director of the National Centre for Science Education. Have a look at what she says here. Watch at 33:50 if not wanting to view the whole video. But, it is glaringly obvious that you definitely need to. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lvsE_ZYcP8&list=PL7C0CA45F60FD44C7&index=14.

My response was:[24]

David: ‘Let’s get some facts straight as you are being quite disingenuous on a number of fronts. Paul William Barnett is a fellow in ancient history at the Macquarie University. He has written about the history of the New Testament and not the divinity of Jesus. As far as I know he does not aspire to creationism’.

Here again you are using a fallacy of relevance. I was not addressing an aspect of creationism. You wanted to discredit Paul Barnett in a previous post because he was the former Anglican bishop, so what do you do now? You switch horses with a red herring fallacy. I gave you books on the demonstrated reliable history of the New Testament written by a competent historian, Dr. Paul Barnett. But you are not interested in pursuing what Dr. Barnett states about the New Testament as history. It is in the historically reliable New Testament that we have the biblical evidence for the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ. He is the God-man and not just God or just man.

David: ‘The existence of Jesus of the New Testament is not under dispute in this thread as it is unimportant. What is of paramount significance is whether this character was divine. There is no credible ex-Biblical evidence for that As a Christian, he may hold the view that Jesus was divine on faith but that is all’.

The existence of Jesus, the God-man, is under discussion in this thread, which is authenticated by the NT, and you have denigrated the historical veracity of the NT.

David: ‘No, I’m not an expert on interpretation of the bible. Neither are you. And if there was one interpretation then there would be one religion. This method of escaping the question of your creationist leanings is another example of manipulating the language’.

You are demonstrating your ignorance. I happen to have a BA in biblical literature and NT Greek, which means that I have completed courses in hermeneutics. I’m currently working on a PhD in New Testament with a university. You have misrepresented me.

David was back again:[25]

The New Testament Jesus may be under discussion by you but it is irrelevant to me. I am not going to say this again. It is the divinity of Jesus that is pertinent as Jesus the man is only a man. Bugs Bunny is a rabbit and only a rabbit. He is not an actual creature.

It is a red herring that you play continually on the historical Jesus. Don’t do it.

If you have qualifications, (where did you achieved them) or if you are a young or old earth creationist and you wish to have proper discussion, those facts should be divulged. Please lay this information on the table now.

You can consider that Jesus was a God-man but there is no evidence for that. Stop manipulating the topic to make out there is. What is the ex-biblical evidence for Jesus being a God-Man? I mean universal evidence that would be accepted by all.

Oh, and by the way, the terribly hard question I posed does have a very simple answer.

Here is the question again.
David: ”I am very happy with my life and live it similarly to most reasonable people in the community.
Let us assume for a moment that Jesus is God, he does exist and all the other gods are false.
Why should I follow anything he says?”

Answer: Because you will go to hell if you don’t.\

The implications should be obvious.

I responded that there are a number of misguided and false statements in what you have written here.

1. David wrote: ‘The New Testament Jesus may be under discussion by you but it is irrelevant to me. I am not going to say this again. It is the divinity of Jesus that is pertinent as Jesus the man is only a man’. You might try to get away with diverting the divinity/deity of Jesus from the New Testament, but it is in that historically reliable NT that I find the teaching on the deity of Christ. Nice try, but it doesn’t work.

2. David: ‘If you have qualifications, (where did you achieved them) or if you are a young or old earth creationist and you wish to have proper discussion, those facts should be divulged. Please lay this information on the table now’. You don’t have the humility to acknowledge what you don’t know about me. But you give us another red herring fallacy.

3. In another post above, you wrote of New Testament historian and exegete, Dr. Paul Barnett: ‘Paul William Barnett is a fellow in ancient history at the Macquarie University. He has written about the history of the New Testament and not the divinity of Jesus’. From where did you get that quote?

It is a blatantly false statement, as is demonstrated in Paul Barnett’s book, Messiah: Jesus, the evidence of history. You have proved again that you don’t know what you are talking about and have erected another straw man logical fallacy.

clip_image008

This review of Barnett’s book on Messiah has the heading, ‘Messiah: Jesus, the evidence of history; Paul Barnett argues for the deity of Christ’.

Paul Barnett affirms the deity of Christ in his online article, ‘The Great Creeds’.

You are digging yourself further into the hole of ignorance with what you stated of Paul Barnett and the divinity/deity of Christ.

4. You also stated of me, ‘I think OzSpen would pull you up about arguments from authority. That is on his cute little fallacy list. Be interesting to see if he does or doesn’t’.[26] Here you are engaging in your ad hominem logical fallacy against me. Sure sounds like you don’t like being called for your use of logical fallacies when you use ‘his cute little fallacy list’ as an ad hominem against me.

I do not wish to continue this discussion further as it is impossible to engage in a logical discussion with you when you continue to use logical fallacies. Bye, and I pray that one day you’ll come to know the Jesus revealed in the historically reliable New Testament. However, perhaps you’ll have to wait for that until you breathe your last breath.

I wrote to David,

David: ‘Discussion with you is next to useless and you have mentioned Leviticus and the nature of your god. Here are some other parts of this god’s nature from Leviticus (KJV version). As you know, there are Christians promoting ‘dominionism’ as a way of governing countries. (Are you one of them?) This means following the Bible as is written. Scary stuff’.

AND

David: ‘I really don’t need or warrant your condescending remarks about me not being ready for your particular god. No, I’m not ready for any of the thousands of gods, but only because I have not surrendered my mental integrity to indoctrinated nonsense’.

These are further examples from you of red herring logical fallacies. You did not respond to the 5 points I made in two posts. You were off and running with your own agenda without addressing the content of these five points.

Discussion with you is impossible when you continuously resort to the use of logical fallacies. Nice try but no cigars![28]

David’s response was:

I don’t smoke, so no cigar for me thanks. A beer to go with the Saturnalian originated festivities of the season would be acceptable though. There are no reasons good enough that you have offered, for me to take the words in your bible seriously, so I don’t. It’s not that I won’t accept these scribbling’s from centuries ago by a superstitious race of people, it’s that they are meaningless to non-indoctrinated folk.

I do have a sadness for you but I am not responsible for you surrendering your mind to your childhood teachings, not being able to escape the instilled terror of torture forever and your incapability to be able to face death head on, but I do mind that you would just as easily lay this rubbish on the innocent minds of children who have no defence against the fears you would instil. If you wish to think in this contorted fashion although it is not your fault, so be it. Only you can undo the damage you have experienced.

Your god talk is no different than the god talk of other sects of Christianity or other religions.

It is ridiculous to ask me to respond to biblical ideas. That is just a ploy to escape answering the question I posed. Some would call this gutless on your behalf, but I rather think of it as something not of your doing.

It is obvious that the AFA [Atheist Foundation of Australia] must try harder so as not to let this kind of warped behaviour infect the thought process of new generations. But, on the other hand, the zealotry observed on this thread by religious people is a lesson enough to others that even in Australia, religion, like rust, never sleeps.

The good thing is that like rust, the material rusting eventually rots away to nothing. We are seeing this demonstrated with Christianity now. Even though the flaying around is palpable, within a couple of generations religion will be a negligible and powerless part of society.

I see there has been no answer to the biblical quotes I provided. Interesting.[29]

In another response to David, I stated:

David: ‘If you had read the sentence before the one you quoted you would not have made such a dick of yourself. Here it is: “even in Australia, religion, like rust, never sleeps”’.[30]

Please forgive me for my error. I got the context wrong.

From the Australian 2011 census, mainline denominations are declining, but the Roman Catholics grew slightly; Baptists and Pentecostals grew more quickly. See: http://blog.id.com.au/2012/australian-census-2011/2011-australian-census-christian-religions/.

This census provides these details:

  • ‘Though Christianity as a whole declined as a proportion of the population in 2011 (from 63.9% in 2006 to 61.1% in 2011), there were substantial differences between Christian groups’;
  • ‘Among the larger Christian denominations, Catholicism grew slightly, adding 310,000 people (6.1%), to remain the largest response in Australia. Many of the major protestant denominations fell, including Anglican (-38,340), Uniting Church (-69,633), Churches of Christ (-5,133) and Salvation Army (-4,044). These are somewhat affected ageing of the UK-born population, as well as the drift to no religion. The Anglican Church, long Australia’s 2nd largest religious grouping has fallen from 23.9% of the population in 1991 to 18.7% in 2011.
  • In contrast, the Charismatic churches such as Baptist (+35,757) and Pentecostal (+18,305, which includes Hillsong) continued to record increases (they were well up from 1991-2006 so this is a longer term trend)’.

From other details, we have this information:

  • For the evangelical Anglicans of the Sydney diocese, ‘based on Weekly Average Service Attendance data of all ages, Sydney Anglican congregations are growing at around 1.4% per annum’ (see: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2011/08/why-arent-we-growing/). However, Tony Payne, who wrote this assessment of the research data, headed his article, ‘Why aren’t we growing?’ The remainder of the Anglicans declined. This is expected as theological liberalism (modernist or postmodernist) has invaded the ranks.
  • The Western Sydney Regional Organization of Councils indicated that for that region, the total number of Christians, from 2006 to 2011, had increased from 897,075 to 914,855. This is out of a total population of 1,507, 877 in 2011 (see: http://profile.id.com.au/wsroc/religion).

So, the research data here is not as ‘rusty’ as you want to paint it

Conclusions

In my discussion in On Line Opinion’s topic of ‘Merry Christmyth from the Atheist Foundation of Australia’, David the atheist, used some tactics that have to be challenged:

1. He is a whiz at the use of logical fallacies. I challenged him in his use of these fallacies: ad hominem (circumstantial), genetic, red herring, relevance, and straw man.

2. At times he shoots off at the mouth on subjects he does not know about. He does not know me and my qualifications or experience, but he wrote me off this way when I asked him what qualifications he had with biblical hermeneutics (interpretation): ‘No, I’m not an expert on interpretation of the bible. Neither are you’. He is ignorant of my background but still wants to give his uninformed rave against me.

3. As I’ve indicated to him, the evidence for the existence of God is in both Scripture and the general revelation of the universe, including human beings. This evidence is so adequate, from God’s perspective, that God, through the Psalmist, can state: ‘The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”’.

4. His association of the decline of Christianity with ‘rust’ and religion will become ‘a negligible and powerless part of society’, is not matched by the evidence.

I highly recommend this Ravi Zacharias presentation on YouTube, ‘The Existence of God’.

References

Geisler, N L & Brooks, R M 1990. Come let us reason: An introduction to logical thinking. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Notes


[1] On Line Opinion, ‘Merry Christmyth from the Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc’, Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Friday, 21 December 2012 10:47:51 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=19 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[2] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 21 December 2012 6:21:56 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=21 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[3] This is what David wrote above.

[4] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Saturday, 22 December 2012 9:30:50 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=24 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[5] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Saturday, 22 December 2012 6:53:24 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=26 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[6] We need to understand logical fallacies so that we can learn to recognize bad logic in an argument. ‘Fallacy is a general term referring to anything that can possibly go wrong in a logical argument. It is important to know fallacies because even though they might be psychologically persuasive, they are not logically correct. They cause people to accept conclusions for inadequate reasons. By knowing fallacies, we can specify why an argument is faulty. But knowing fallacies is not only to a help in refuting error; it also protects us from criticism and gives us the ability to develop clearer expression of our thoughts’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:81).

[7] On Line Opinion, op cit., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Saturday, 22 December 2012 11:22:12 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=26 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[8] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Sunday, 23 December 2012 9:35:45 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=28 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] ‘ad hominem’ is Latin meaning, ‘Argument against the man’. It is an alias for ‘the fallacy of personal attack’. See: ‘Argumentum ad hominem’, available at: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/adhomine.html (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[12] On Line Opinion Forum.

[13] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Saturday, 22 December 2012 6:53:24 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=26 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[14] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Sunday, 23 December 2012 1:31:31 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=29 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[15] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 23 December 2012 4:10:12 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=29 (Accessed 29 December 2012).

[16] A genetic logical fallacy is ‘a special type of reductive fallacy in which the single issue focused on is the source or origin of an idea. The argument demands, “Something (or someone) should be rejected because it (or he) comes from a bad source.” This is an attempt to belittle a position by pointing out its inauspicious beginnings’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:107). Examples of his logical fallacy by David are in these statements, ‘Get your head out of religious websites and smell the roses’; ‘This is a dumb religious strawman’; ‘A fluster of posts with Biblical quotes, religious stories and anecdotes do not answer the question I posed’.

[17]What is a straw man logical fallacy? ‘Another way to stack the deck against the opposition is to draw a false picture of the opposing argument. Then it is easy to say, “This should be rejected because this (exaggerated and distorted) picture of it is wrong.” The name of the fallacy comes from the idea that if you set up a straw man, he is easier to knock down than a real man. And that is exactly the way this fallacy works: set ‘em up and knock ‘em down. It is argument by caricature. It avoids dealing with the real issues by changing the opposition’s views’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:101). David’s examples of the use of this fallacy against me include: ‘I really don’t even care if he was of sound mind and chose to believe in a designer force, a deity or a god or even the Christian God, the Islamic Allah or Bugs Bunny’.

[18] A red herring is a ‘device for changing the subject [and] is less sneaky; it just does it! Pulling a red herring across the platform will divert attention. So will telling an irrelevant joke. A red herring argument says, “Accept this because this other subject is interesting (funny, witty, etc.).” Rather than proving the point, this fallacy simply evades the question by changing the subject, then proceeding as if the point had been made. Often the other topic bears a superficial resemblance to the one being discussed. Don’t let that fool you! If no proof is given, there is no reason to accept the argument’ (Geisler & Brooks 1990:104). David the atheist changed the topic here with my raising the example of Antony Flew, an atheist who became a deist and his going off at a tangent about Antony Flew, with a statement like this: ‘most atheists had never heard of Anthony Flew until it was touted he had changed his mind. Anthony Flew did not believe in a personal god or even the Christian god but came down on the side of a kind of deism. But there is more to this story than meets the eye’. The fact is that Antony Flew moved from atheism to a belief in God known as deism. You can read about his change of belief in Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese 2007. There is no/a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind. New York: HarperOne.

[19] On Line Opinion op cit., Posted by OzSpen, Sunday, 23 December 2012 4:49:25 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=30 (Accessed 23 December 2012).

[20] See the Paul Barnett page, available at: http://paulbarnett.info/sample-page/ (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[21] On Line Opinion, Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Sunday, 23 December 2012 5:07:40 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=30 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[22] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 24 December 2012 7:38:13 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=30 (Accessed 24 December 2012). ‘Misotheism’ refers to hating God. Bernard Schweizer has written the book, Hating God: The untold story of misotheism (2011. Oxford: Oxford University Press).

[23] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Monday, 24 December 2012 9:40:58 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=31 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[24] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Monday, 24 December 2012 10:15:45 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=31 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[25] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Monday, 24 December 2012 10:45:45 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=31 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[26] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Monday, 24 December 2012 12:02:18 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=31 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[27] Ibid., Posted by worldwatcher, Monday, 24 December 2012 1:40:00 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=32 (Accessed 24 December 2012).

[28] Ibid., Posted by OzSpen, Wednesday, 26 December 2012 9:24:24 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=38 (Accessed 27 December 2012).

[29] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Wednesday, 26 December 2012 10:04:17 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=38 (Accessed 27 December 2012).

[30] Ibid., Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Wednesday, 26 December 2012 9:01:13 PM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=39 (Accessed 27 December 2012).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 June 2016.

3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star3d-shinnyblue-star

Evidence for the existence of God

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

clip_image002[4]

Courtesy ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

David of the Atheist Foundation of Australia wrote:[1]

It is most unlikely that anyone will ever prove there is no god any more than the existence of fairies will be disproven. Humans will be able to live in their minds without fear of being ever exposed by such proof. But, what is happening is that many people are working out the inconsistencies with the god concept and its many religions and that the idea is adding to the suffering of humanity.

I know that many just disregard the god thing but don’t call themselves atheists. Ostensibly though, they are atheists. It’s from the Greek, ‘without a deity’. I have the feeling that calling oneself an agnostic, and I’m not saying you do that, and this wouldn’t be in all cases, but the niggling fear of a revengeful god lingers in the back ground so why take the risk.

One thing that leads folk to eventually call themselves atheist is that they tend to consider the rational universe as proof positive that a god who engineered it would not be so petty as to torture people forever because it didn’t supply enough rational evidence to prove its existence. Atheists do not consider ‘faith’ to be a virtue. Faith is a not knowing position and that can and is manipulated by the many religions to the detriment of billions of people.

This creates false dichotomies like god vs fairies; humans living in their minds vs fear of being exposed by proof; and rational universe vs proof positive of torturing people forever.

There are strong pointers to the existence of God and philosopher/theologian William Lane Craig has demonstrated these in this interview and then a university presentation:

clip_image003

Reasonable Faith

What was David’s response to this challenge?[2]

This was my brief reply:[3]

David wrote:

I strongly advise you to look at information not emanating from religious sources. Some religious material is good and accurate but much of it is false and misleading intentionally or unintentionally but mainly because of bias. The problem is working that out.[4]

My reply was: Here you go with another genetic fallacy. It is a fallacious argument and we cannot have a rational conversation when you do this.

I have looked at evidence from non-Christian (including atheistic) and Christian sources over a period of 50 years. I have concluded that you, as an example of an atheist, will not look objectively at ALL of the evidence, including the New Testament. When you write off the historical reliability of the NT Gospels, you are demonstrating your bias.

I know what a fallacious Genetic Fallacy Argument is and you use it.

David wrote again:

Let us assume for a moment that Jesus is God, he does exist and all the other gods are false. Why should I follow anything he says?[5]

My response as OzSpen was:

First, since you ‘assume’, that is a presupposition and I would propose a hypothesis and test it for validation or falsification from the available historical evidence regarding Jesus.

However, the worldwide evidence indicates that your first statement does not define the nature and personhood of who Jesus is. ‘Jesus is God’ cannot be a complete statement about his true nature as the New Testament reveals. Your ‘Jesus is God’ scenario is erecting a straw man logical fallacy as Jesus’ nature is more comprehensive than that.

As to why you should follow Jesus, you will have to make that decision yourself, based on the truth of the New Testament Scriptures – which you state that you don’t believe as an atheist. But you are a long way from accepting that so I will not deal with that matter as I would be ‘casting pearls’ and I’m not about to do that.

As for Antony Flew, you stated: ‘Firstly, most atheists had never heard of Anthony Flew until it was touted he had changed his mind. Anthony Flew did not believe in a personal god or even the Christian god but came down on the side of a kind of deism. But there is more to this story than meets the eye’.

That is a statement about the ignorance of the atheistic establishment, if what you state is true, because Antony Flew was a leading atheistic British philosopher who taught at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, Reading and York University, Toronto, Canada. The atheists’ ignorance of Antony Flew and his beliefs does not alter the fact of his prominence in the atheistic establishment before his conversion to deism.

David: “The divinity of Jesus is a myth (extraordinary story without evidence) which is believed by Christians”.

Not according to the historically reliable New Testament Gospels.

Antony Flew’s death

For a description of Antony Flew’s movement from a leading atheistic philosopher to a believer in God (a Deist), see: Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese 2007. There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind. New York, NY: HarperOne.

Antony Flew died, at the age of 87, on 8 April 2010. See:

A response to the assault on Jesus’ historicity

I highly recommend a read of John Dickson’s article for ABC Religion and Ethics, Opinion: A fight they can’t win: The irreligious assault on the historicity of Jesus(24 December 2012).

Notes


[1] OzSpen to David of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, On Line Opinion, ‘Merry Christmyth from the Atheist Foundation of Australia’, Saturday, 22 December 2012 8:51:48 AM, p. 23, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=23 (Accessed 22 December 2012).

[2] Posted by David of the Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Saturday, 22 December 2012 8:53:21 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=23 (Accessed 22 December 2012).

[3] Ibid., OzSpen, Saturday, 22 December 2012 9:08:14 AM.

[4] See endnote #2.

[5] Posted by Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc, Saturday, 22 December 2012 9:30:50 AM, available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=5547&page=24 (Accessed 22 December 2012).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

clip_image005clip_image005[1]clip_image005[2]clip_image005[3]clip_image005[4]clip_image005[5]clip_image005[6]

Does atheism have a creed or a system of beliefs?

Monday, November 5th, 2012

clip_image002

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

I write as a convinced evangelical Christian believer who through reason and examination of the evidence has concluded that Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice has made salvation available to all people who will bow the knee to Jesus, repent of their sin, and receive Christ by faith as Lord and Saviour, and continue in that faith. Thus, hell is repudiated, heaven is gained, and there is eternal life for anyone who repents and trusts Christ alone for salvation.

This salvation starts now and continues after death. However, this is primary biblical teaching: Jesus said, ‘No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father’ (John 6:65 ESV). The initiative for salvation comes from God the Father. That’s core biblical teaching.

I find it intriguing to see the way that atheists make their way onto Christian forums and blogs to peddle their wares. One of them promotes his ideas on Christian Fellowship Forum. He made this statement: ‘Atheism is without creed, system, formula, and/or codification, without central authority. What’s to peddle? Thinking? Free thought?’ [1]

This is a demonstration that he does not know what he is talking about. He did not know atheism very well for him to make that kind of false statement. A quick search of the www found evidence that contradicts this poster. Richard Dawkins also has stated, ‘Atheists do not have faith’ (2006:74).
This is what I’ve discovered about atheists who have placed their beliefs in an atheist’s creed. It’s time for atheists such as nullopus000 and Richard Dawkins, to bring their knowledge of atheism up to speed. Here is one atheist’s creed – yes, a Creed!

However, the composer of this Atheist’s Creed, Mano Singham, made this qualification:

An important point of clarification is necessary. When the word ‘believe’ is used in the creed, it is in the scientific sense of the word. Scientists realize that almost all knowledge is tentative and that one knows very few things for certain. But based on credible evidence and logical reasoning, one can arrive at firm conclusions about, and hence ‘believe’, some things such as that the universe is billions of years old or that the force of gravity exists. It is in this sense that the word ‘believe’ is used in the creed below, as an implicit acknowledgment of our lack of absolute certainty.

This use is in stark contrast to the way that the word is used by religious people. They not only believe things for which there is little or no evidence or reason, but even in spite of evidence to the contrary, and defying reason.[2]

clip_image004

Mano Singham, adjunct associate professor in physics, courtesy Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA.

The following exposition, to describe some of the weaknesses of this Creed, will show that this atheist’s view of ‘evidence or reason’ lacks a more comprehensive knowledge of the ‘evidence’ by restricting it to what ‘scientists realize’. However, there is one point on which I agree with this atheist, ‘almost all knowledge is tentative’. Historical knowledge is tentative because of the distance from the events and the limited amount of evidence from the sources. However, my understanding of the authority of the Christian Scriptures places it as superior to all human knowledge. However, we are still limited by the nature of the sources, lack of understanding of the original languages, and the human frailty in biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). I cannot guarantee 100% accuracy in my understanding. I also am a fallible human interpreter.

However, we need to remember what has been illustrated well by R. Laird Harris, in explaining the need to have authoritative original documents behind the copies, even though we currently do not have access to the originals (autographa). He wrote:

Reflection will show that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is worthwhile even though the originals have perished. An illustration may be helpful. Suppose we wish to measure the length of a certain pencil. With a tape measure we measure it as 6 1/2 inches. A more carefully made office ruler indicates 6 9/16 inches. Checking with an engineer’s scale, we find it to be slightly more than 6.58 inches. Careful measurement with a steel scale under laboratory conditions reveals it to be 6.577 inches. Not satisfied still, we send the pencil to Washington, where master gauges indicate a length of 6.5774 inches. The master gauges themselves are checked against the standard United States yard marked on platinum bar preserved in Washington. Now, suppose that we should read in the newspapers that a clever criminal had run off with the platinum bar and melted it down for the precious metal. As a matter of fact, this once happened to Britain’s standard yard! What difference would this make to us? Very little. None of us has ever seen the platinum bar. Many of us perhaps never realized it existed. Yet we blithely use tape measures, rulers, scales, and similar measuring devices. These approximate measures derive their value from their being dependent on more accurate gauges. But even the approximate has tremendous value—if it has had a true standard behind it (Harris 1969:88-89).

Now to the statement by one atheist of his creed to summarise his atheistic beliefs. Mano Singham is a male theoretical physicist who is a university teacher. See HERE. So I’m accurate in using the male pronouns in referring to him. This is an outline of his Creed:

An Atheist’s Creed[3]

1. I believe in a purely material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles.

2. I believe that the life we have is the only one we will have, that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain, that we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die, and that it is therefore incumbent on us to enable each person to live their one life to the fullest.

3. I believe in the power of science and reason and rationality to further deepen our understanding of everything around us and to eventually overcome superstition and erase the petty divisions sown by religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

4. I am in awe of the beauty, vastness, and complexity of nature and the universe, and the fact that all arose purely by the working of natural laws.

5. I believe in the power of ideals such as peace and justice and shared humanity to inspire us to create a free and just world.

6. I believe in kindness, love, and the human spirit and their ability to overcome challenges and adversity and to create a better world.

7. I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.

8. I refuse to bow, prostrate myself, or otherwise cower before the deities of any religion.

9. I am neither tempted by the fiction of heaven or any other form of eternal life nor fearful of the fiction of hell.

10. I choose to live the dignified and exhilarating life of a free-thinker, able to go wherever knowledge and curiosity takes me, without fear of contradicting any dogma.

Here is another Atheist’s Creed on YouTube. On the Infidels website there is The Atheist’s Creed.

I urge atheists not to continue to peddle the ignorance of Christianity and atheism (i.e. atheist’s don’t have a creed) on Forums, including Christian forums.

However, in the midst of atheists who develop an atheist’s creed and state, ‘I believe’, leading atheist, Richard Dawkins, has the audacity to proclaim, ‘Atheists do not have faith’ (Dawkins 2006:74).

Answering an atheist’s creed[4]

Does the atheist’s creed really promote what he promises – being a free-thinker, pursuing knowledge where it leads, and not including contradictory dogma? Is the atheist’s creed self-defeating? How do I, as a Christian, answer each of these 10 points of the atheist’s creed? This will be only a brief assessment. It is a very limited response:

1. I believe in a purely material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles.

This is an assumption, a presupposition, of the philosophy of naturalism. What is naturalism? Keith Augustine (2001) stated that

naturalism is the position that everything that exists within nature is itself natural and is solely influenced by natural causes. Naturalism, as I conceive it, thus allows the existence of both nature and realms that may exist outside of nature; it simply stipulates that any nonnatural realms which may exist cannot causally influence the natural world. Even the possibility of nonnatural causation is not ruled out so long as both the cause and effect reside in some nonnatural realm.

It is Keith Augustine’s view that Arthur C. Danto comes closest to his own view by clearly defining naturalism as meaning that ‘the entire knowable universe is composed of natural objects – that is, objects which come into and pass out of existence in consequence of the operation of “natural causes”‘ (Danto 1972:448).

John Blanchard rightly notes that ‘the naturalist pronounces the answer before he [or she] asks the question’ (Blanchard 2000:32). C. S. Lewis nailed the problem with naturalism when he stated: If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be equally worthless. Therefore, naturalism is worthless. If it is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat’ (Lewis 1970:137)

Therefore, in the atheist’s creed, anything that is outside of ‘naturalistic laws and principles’ cannot be considered. Thus, it is impossible to assess all that happens in the universe on an inductive basis. The presupposition of naturalism means that the miracles of Jesus cannot be considered, including his bodily resurrection from the grave, because the cause and effect of Jesus’ resurrection must reside in the non-natural realm. However, the effect was in the natural world. So were the miracles of Jesus (e.g. turning water into wine, raising of the dead Lazarus). Do we discount this historical evidence from the New Testament because of a predisposition to only include answers from naturalism? This leads to presuppositional mutilation of textual evidence.

The conclusion is that ‘naturalism is not able to explain either itself or the universe on a purely naturalistic premise’ (Geisler 1999:522).

2. I believe that the life we have is the only one we will have, that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain, that we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die, and that it is therefore incumbent on us to enable each person to live their one life to the fullest.

This is an outgrowth of the failed philosophy of naturalism. It has to explain phenomena from a naturalistic perspective, so any concept of the soul, spirit, mind and consciousness coming from a source outside of the natural universe is automatically dismissed as it doesn’t fit into a humanly-created framework. It cannot examine the evidence inductively and let the evidence speak for itself.

How would the atheist know that ‘we cease to exist in any conscious form when we die’? Has he been there to find out? Does he know somebody who has been through death and come back to confirm his or her belief? That’s a presupposition that excludes the evidence from the supernatural revelation in the Scriptures that state what happens after physical death: ‘Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27 NLT). Paul, the apostle, could say with confidence as a Christian believer, ‘Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT). This is the assurance we have from Jesus Christ himself, ‘For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds’ (Matthew 16:27 NLT). All people will be judged by Jesus Christ, so there must be continuing existence after death for this to happen.

What are the consequences of this atheist’s creedal statement that requires atheists to have the value that they want ‘to enable each person to live their own life to the fullest’? This is a form of ethical relativism. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states:

Although there are many different kinds of relativism, they all have two features in common.

1) They all assert that one thing (e.g. moral values, beauty, knowledge, taste, or meaning) is relative to some particular framework or standpoint (e.g. the individual subject, a culture, an era, a language, or a conceptual scheme).

2) They all deny that any standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others (Westacott 2005).

So, if moral values are relative to a particular framework and an individual subject, this means that there are no ethical absolute values of right and wrong. There are no ethical boundaries suggested or stated here. So, if a person wants to live life to the full as a paedophile who rapes children, there cannot be any limits placed on such a person as that would be living life to the fullest as he/she understands it, and that would be suitable for that individual person.

The logical conclusion of a worldview that has libertarian relativistic ethics is that anything is possible – even the gravest violence and injustice. Jihad suicide bombers are given a free reign to do what they are doing by this atheist’s creed. That’s the logical conclusion of such a worldview and there are no moral restraints prohibited in such a view. So, relativism will lead to chaos in society. It has ‘failure’ written all over it. But it can be corrected, overhauled or dismantled by acceptance of an standard of ethical behaviour that never changes.

3. I believe in the power of science and reason and rationality to further deepen our understanding of everything around us and to eventually overcome superstition and erase the petty divisions sown by religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

I also believe in the power of science, reason and rationality to help to better understand my world and myself, but to talk about ‘superstition’ in relation to religion is imposing a worldview on the evidence. It is establishing an atheistic straw man logical fallacy so that the atheist can cut down supposedly superstitious religion.

The better approach would be to objectively define ‘superstition’ and see if that applies to some or all of religion. Dictionary.com defines ‘superstition’ as:

noun

1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.

2. a system or collection of such beliefs.

3. a custom or act based on such a belief.

4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.

5. any blindly accepted belief or notion.

So is Christianity a belief ‘not based on reason or knowledge’? Is atheism practising a superstition because it might have an ‘irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion’? Is Christianity or atheism based on some ‘blindly accepted belief or notion’? Let’s examine this briefly:

a. Christianity, reason and knowledge.

This dimension of an atheist’s creed wants to contrast science, rationality and reason with the superstition of religion. Of course, Christianity is included in religion. What is the place of science and reason in Christianity? Are science and reason antithetical to the Christian faith?

clip_image006

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Early scientists did not think that way. Sir Isaac Newton’s work comes to mind. He was a thoughtful Christian and phenomenal mathematician and scientist. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge University, in 1661 where his curriculum included Aristotelian philosophy (logic, rhetoric, and ethics). This enabled Newton to develop arguments to counteract anyone who disagreed with him. His courses included mathematics, Latin and Greek (Hummel 1991). Hummel’s assessment of this genius of the 17th and 18th centuries was that ‘Newton became one of the leading mathematicians and scientists in Europe. How did he do it? Among other abilities was the unusual gift of holding in his mind a mental problem for hours, days, and weeks until he had solved it’ (Hummel 1991). Isaac Newton’s ‘epoch-making work’ was

in three major areas: mathematics, optics, and celestial dynamics. Having invented the binomial theorem, Newton devised a method of calculation that later developed into calculus. He also discovered that white light contains the whole spectrum of colors, and he formulated the inverse square law for orbiting heavenly bodies.

In short, during this period Newton became one of the leading mathematicians and scientists in Europe. How did he do it? Among other abilities was the unusual gift of holding in his mind a mental problem for hours, days, and weeks until he had solved it (Hummel 1991).

In 1669, at the age of 26, Newton was appointed to the prestigious Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge University, a professorship he held for 30 years.

He had a brilliant mind for mathematics and science, but he was also a committed Anglican Christian. Hummel (1991) wrote:

He spent more time on theology than on science; indeed, he wrote about 1.3 million words on biblical subjects. Yet this vast legacy lay hidden from public view for two centuries until the auction of his nonscientific writings in 1936.

Newton’s understanding of God came primarily from the Bible, which he studied for days and weeks at a time. He took special interest in miracles and prophecy.

Professor Arthur Anderson described Sir Isaac Newton as ‘the greatest scientist who has ever lived. It is, in fact, generally accepted that he is the greatest scientist who ever will live, since no one, no matter how brilliant, will ever again be in such a unique historical position’ (Anderson n d) .

“Yet Newton seldom made public pronouncements regarding his theology. He is remembered instead for his pioneering scientific achievements” (Hummel 1991)

Newton’s theology profoundly influenced his scientific method, which rejected pure speculation in favor of observations and experiments. His God was not merely a philosopher’s impersonal First Cause; he was the God in the Bible who freely creates and rules the world, who speaks and acts in history. The biblical doctrine of creation undergirded Newton’s science. Newton believed in a God of “actions [in nature and history], creating, preserving, and governing … all things according to his good will and pleasure” (Hummel 1991).

Alexander Pope’s eulogy to Newton was:

Nature, and Nature’s Laws, lay hid in Night.
God said, Let Newton be! and All was Light (in Hummel 1991).

How did a leading, atheistic scientist, Stephen Hawking, assess the science of Isaac Newton? Hawking,[5] a mathematical physicist, stated this when he was Lucasian professor at Cambridge,

Newton’s theory will never be outmoded. Designed to predict the motions of the heavenly bodies, it does its job with unbelievable accuracy … it remains in daily use to predict the orbits of moons and planets, comets and spacecraft.… Newton is a colossus without parallel in the history of science (in Hummel 1991).

Here is a further list of ‘famous scientists who believed in God‘. It is a foreign, Enlightenment philosophy that wants to label the Christian faith as ‘superstition’, as in this atheist’s creed.

b. God’s call for Christians to renew the mind

One of the third century’s church fathers, Origen (ca. AD 185-254), wrote that it is of

much more importance to give our assent to doctrines upon grounds of reason and wisdom than on that of faith merely, and that it was only in certain circumstances that the latter course was desired by Christianity (Origen n d).[6]

This quote led to Newsweek magazine’s assessment: ‘For the religious, the lesson is that those closest to Jesus accepted little blindly, and, in the words of Origen of Alexandria, an early church father, “It is far better to accept teachings with reason and wisdom than with mere faith”‘ (Meacham 2005).

The importance of the mind for the Christian faith is demonstrated by these emphases on the need to renew the mind:

blue-arrow-small Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will’ (NIV).

blue-arrow-small 1 Corinthians 2:16, ‘for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (NIV).

blue-arrow-small 2 Corinthians 10:5, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’.

blue-arrow-small 1 Peter 1:13, ‘Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming’.

Reason and rationality are important dimensions of the Scripture’s exhortation for Christians to use their God-given reason:

arrow-small  Isaiah 1:18 states, ‘Come now, let us reason [or dispute] together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool’ (ESV).

arrow-small James 3:17 is clear that the Lord does not oppose the use of reason: ‘But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere’ (ESV).

arrow-small The ministry of apologetics requires a defense, ‘but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).

A reasonable, rational defence of the faith is in the league of every Christian who explains the ‘reason for the hope’ that is in them. Christians are required to reason with people in providing a defence of the faith.

I recommend a careful examination of, “What is truth?” by Douglas Groothuis.

c. Atheism as a religious creed and its ‘irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious’ about Christianity.

From the evidence above, atheism’s fear of the unknown or mysterious about Christianity can be linked to its a-theism. When people do not have an understanding of a fundamental of the Christian faith, they have massive holes in their worldview. This is so fundamental for a holistic view of life in this world, ‘I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible’ (The Nicene Creed).

This statement from the Creed is supported by these Scriptures: Gen. 1:1; Deut. 6:4; Isa 40:28; Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15.

Devotional writer, A W Tozer, wrote that ‘what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…. The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself” (1961:1).[7]

Evangelical scholar, Don Carson, set out to show new ways people now use to try to gag God by silencing him, marginalising him or dismissing his revelation. Then he sought to demonstrate that ‘what God has disclosed of himself in Scripture does not permit us to pick and choose’, but it mandates that Scripture be interpreted within the constraints God has imposed, including ‘full recognition of the developing plot-line in Scripture, and of Scripture’s highly diverse literary genres’ (Carson 1996:189).

In Scripture, God gives us a clear understanding of why anyone, including an atheist, might have a fear about an aspect of the Christian Gospel. Romans 1:18 makes it clear:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness (NIV).

See also, ‘God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth’.

4. I am in awe of the beauty, vastness, and complexity of nature and the universe, and the fact that all arose purely by the working of natural laws.

This is a clear example of the blindness of a worldview. When one looks at the universe, its beauty and complexity, and sees it only through a naturalistic, atheistic worldview, that kind of statement is consistent.

But it fails to consider all of the evidence. This view is excluded from the atheist’s worldview:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth (Psalm 19:1-6 NIV).

The New Testament gives a similar message:

Since what may be known about God is plain to them [godless, wicked people, v. 18], because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20).

From God’s perspective, there is no such person as an atheist. All people, no matter how wicked or resistant to Christian perspectives, know of the existence of God, his power and nature. Perhaps that is why renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, is now admitting that ‘”I can’t be sure God DOES NOT exist”: World’s most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic’ (Daily Mail, 24 February 2012). The UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported:

Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist – admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

The country’s foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Professor Dawkins, the former Oxford Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, is a dedicated admirer of Charles Darwin, regarding the Victorian pioneer of evolution as the man who explained ‘everything we know about life’.

It is amazing that one of the leading and outspoken atheists in the world has now admitted he is an agnostic instead of an atheist because ‘he can’t prove God doesn’t exist’. That most assuredly is a compromise by Dawkins, but it is not honest with God’s view according to Scripture (see Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19-20 above).

5. I believe in the power of ideals such as peace and justice and shared humanity to inspire us to create a free and just world.

However, from where does the atheist draw his or her definitions and understandings of peace and justice? Why would the peace and justice of the Soviet Union under Stalin, China under Mao, Cuba under Castro, or North Korea under Kim Jong-il, be the aim to which we should aspire? And we haven’t included the slaughter under Cambodia’s Pol Pot and Uganda’s Idi Amin.

Peace, justice and freedom are then anyone’s decision. There needs to be an absolute standard by which to judge Australian (my home country) justice, peace and freedom, as well as the justice, peace and freedom of a North Korea, Iraq, Syria or the Sudan.

Anything-goes relativism may not be the choice of a given atheist, but he or she couldn’t stop the relativism chosen by Mao if each person is allowed to define peace, justice and freedom according to individual humanistic standards – even if those standards are according to the ‘best’ atheist in the world or the ‘best’ communist or capitalistic government.

All human beings need help in defining standards. This is where the Almighty God comes to the rescue – BIG TIME! What is God’s view of justice? How about God and peace? What is freedom according to God’s standard? A fundamental of the nature of God is that ‘I the LORD do not change’ (Malachi 3:6. See also Psalm 102:27; Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).

The absolutely unchanging Lord God of the Almighty defines justice, peace and freedom this way:

God’s justice

Congregation Shema Yisrael has summarized this attribute of God beautifully in, ‘God’s attributes: The justice of God’:

What is right? How do we determine what is just? When the words “righteousness” or “justice” appear in the Bible, they are usually some form of the Hebrew word “tzedek.” The original root idea of tzedek conveyed the idea of being stiff or straight. In a religious context, tzedek means that which is morally straight, that which is as it should be. It embodies the idea of equity, fairness, and impartiality. Justice is the application of fairness to moral situations.

Justice, when applied to God, describes the way God is. God’s justice is not something external to Him. He is infinitely righteous within Himself. When God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to some outside criteria; some law or principle or standard outside Himself. He is simply acting like Himself in any given situation. God is His own self-existent principle of moral equity. God’s perfect law comes from within His own nature….

God’s justice is foundational to the way He governs the universe and everything in it. When the Torah declares that righteousness and justice is the foundation of His throne (Psalm 89:14), it means that the Lord is always fair in His dealings and always does what is right. The universe as we know it could not exist apart from this attribute of God. Our existence would be a moral nightmare that would be arbitrary and unfair.

In fact, the gods of the other nations were often described as being unfair, capricious and arbitrary. But the concept of the God of Israel held by the prophets of Israel is one of an all powerful Ruler and King, high and lifted up, reigning with complete fairness: The Lord abides forever, King David declared, He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgement for the peoples with equity (Psalm 98:9). Moses, at the end of his long life, with all his many dealings with God in a multitude of situations, could write: Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He (Deut. 32:3-4). God is always just. He always acts uprightly. He always is perfectly fair. He always “shoots straight” for He cannot do otherwise. He must always do what is right, because that is His nature (emphasis in original).

God’s peace:

arrow-small Romans 15:32-33, ‘So that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

arrow-small Romans 16:20, ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you’.

arrow-small 1 Thessalonians 5:23, ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the  coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’.

So he is ‘the God of peace’ according to Scripture, but what does that mean? Is it anything like peace after war or the peace of peace-time in any country?

In Romans 15:33, the God of peace is

“the God who gives peace.” Paul refers in Romans to the peace of a new harmonious relationship with God (cf. 2:10; 5:1; 8:6) and to the peace that should characterize the relations of believers with one another (cf. 14:19)…. “Peace” like the Hebrew shalom, embraces the panoply of blessings God makes available to his people in the age of fulfillment (cf. also 1:7) (Moo 1996:911).

That is what God gives to people. However, what is God’s peace as an attribute of God? What is his permanent nature of peace? We get some idea of this from 1 Corinthians 14:33, ‘For God is not a God of disorder but of peace’. So the God of peace is in contrast with the God of ‘disorder’ (Gk. akatastasia). This latter Greek word means ‘disorder, confusion, unrest’ (Grudem 1994:202). After a thorough examination of texts in both Old Testament and New Testament regarding the nature of the attribute of the peace of God, Grudem provides this definition, based on Scripture:

God’s peace means that in God’s being and in his actions he is separate from all confusion and disorder, yet he is continually active in innumerable well-ordered, fully controlled, simultaneous actions’ (Grudem 1994:203, emphasis in original).

It is the purpose of the God of peace, the one whose actions do not bring confusion, to cause peace to reign within Christians and for them to be at peace with one another. One of the fruit of the Spirit is peace (Gal. 5:22-23). When God’s people are committed followers of the Lord God, this will be their experience: ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom. 14:17).

Christians know that the God of peace, whose attributes never change, dwells in them by faith in Jesus Christ and what will be the outcome? ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:7).

God’s freedom:

The freedom of the sovereign God could not be more beautifully expressed than in Psalm 115:3, ‘Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him’. However, this attribute of God cannot be separated from God’s justice (see above).

What happens to human beings who are redeemed and changed by this unchanging God? ‘So if the Son [Jesus Christ] sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36). When one repents and turns to Jesus Christ for salvation, true freedom comes. It is nothing like the bondage of atheism. If you don’t believe me, check out the oppression under all Communist regimes. See what is happening in North Korea today. Atheism brings bondage as all Communist regimes have demonstrated.

See ‘The freedom of God and the free will of human beings’ (Ben Witherington).

The first verse of Shirley Erna Murray’s hymn, ‘God of freedom, God of justice’ (Oremus Hymnal), is pointed in its application here:

God of freedom, God of justice,
God whose love is strong as death,
God who saw the dark of prison,
God who knew the price of faith:
touch our world of sad oppression
with your Spirit’s healing breath.

God’s unchanging justice, peace and freedom are available to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This is a radical contrast with the atheistic view of freedom in The Atheist’s Creed and those who have tried to practise atheism in their nations.

clip_image008

Another statement of The Atheist’s Creed is:

6. I believe in kindness, love, and the human spirit and their ability to overcome challenges and adversity and to create a better world.

However, how does one put content into the meaning of kindness, love and human spirit, if one does not have a fixed standard from which to judge the meaning of these human attributes?

Here is this challenge to atheism and its values from a Jewish worldview, ‘A Plea to Atheists: Pedophilia is next on the Slippery Slope; Let us turn back before it’s too late’:

It is axiomatic that in the world of the atheist there is neither morality nor immorality, only amorality. This is often misunderstood to mean that atheists have no values. That conclusion would clearly be erroneous. To associate atheism with amorality is not to say that atheists have no values, they certainly do; amorality is a commentary, not on the existence of values, but on the significance of those values. Since in the atheistic worldview we are nothing more than upright walking primates, our value systems have no more significance than those of our jungle dwelling relatives. In the Darwinian view, the human is to the cockroach as the cockroach is to the paramecium. To imagine that we are something “more” is just that: a product of the human imagination.

It would be absurd then for the atheist to suggest that the pronouncements of any individual or society obligate others to behave accordingly. For the atheist, morality is simply a word that is used to describe the type of system that an individual or society subjectively prefers. Each society establishes, maintains, and modifies its values to suit its own needs.

Morality is the custom of one’s country and the current feeling of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibalistic country.” (Samuel Butler)[8]

Who is Samuel Butler? He was a British novelist (AD 1835-1902). However, his point is valid. If there is no absolute standard for values, they are decided by countries and individuals. This is one of the problems with the atheistic worldview. Its understanding of kindness, love and the human spirit comes from frail humanistic and fallible sources – from individuals, groups and cultures.

Love

It needs to be admitted up front that when kindness and love are defined from a Christian perspective, there are Christians who may not reach those high standards. But the fact is that the standards are based on God’s absolutes. We know what love is because God has shown us his nature in action.

What does he say about kindness and love? ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). So kindness and love are fruit that grow in a Christian’s life once they are born again and grow to be more like Jesus.

How do we define this kind of ‘love’? Please note that it is the very first of the fruit that Paul mentions and this is appropriate because this agape love comes from God himself as ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). In 1 Corinthians 13:13 we learn that out of ‘faith, hope and love’, we know that ‘the greatest of these is love’. So when we love someone in God’s way, that love to the other is unmerited – not based on the qualities in the other person (see Romans 5:8) and is an unchanging kind of love (see Romans 8:35-39). James Montgomery Boice wrote that

it is this love that sent Christ to die for sinful men [meaning human beings] and that perseveres with men in spite of their wilfulness and love of sin. Now because the Spirit of Christ (who is characterized by love) is living within the Christian the believer is to show love both to other Christians and to the world. By this, men are to know that Christians are indeed Christ’s disciples (John 13:35) (Montgomery 1976:498).

Therefore, the unchanging standard for love for the Christian is not determined by culture or humanistic values but by God himself. God’s agape love that should shine through the Christian’s actions will demonstrate unmerited, unchanging, unconditional love for even the unlovely. Thank God for a standard of love that does not change.

Kindness

From Galatians 5:22, ‘kindness’ (the Greek chrestotes) is based on God’s ‘divine kindness out of which God acts toward men [human beings]. It is what the OT means when it declares that “God is good,” as it so frequently does. The Christian is to show kindness by behaving toward others as God has behaved toward him [or her]’ (Montgomery 1976:498].

In contrast to the fickle human standard of a sinful human being or a sinful culture as the atheist is determined to use, God has enabled the Christians to have an absolute, unchanging standard from God Himself by which to judge the content of a Christian’s actions of love and kindness towards individuals, groups, and society.

The human spirit

Mano Singham, in this articulation of his atheist’s creed, did not state what he meant by ‘the human spirit’. Another atheist website stated that ‘the human spirit encompasses many things including emotions, character, beliefs, convictions, and personality’.[9] Another example is from an atheist who stated, ‘I think that the idea of the “human spirit” can be a real one when taking it to mean the will, passion, and initiative for progression within a human or in a society. But this kind of spirit is internal, coming from nothing but humanity’.[10] In other words, our humanity – frail, fallible humanity – gives the definition of the meaning of the ‘human spirit’.

From God’s perspective, God’s absolute standards determine the content of the human spirit/soul. Most people I have met have some kind of sense that human beings are more than a fleshly body and that there is some kind of ‘immaterial part’ that continues to live after a person dies physically. This immaterial, internal part is sometimes called ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ in the Scriptures. With the creation of human beings in the beginning, we have this description of what happened when God made the first man: ‘Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7 NIV). ‘Living being’ is the Hebrew, nephesh, which means soul, the animate dimension in human beings that makes them alive. However, this animation of the soul of human beings is not of the order of the animation of animals. According to Gen. 2:7, the soul is that portion of the human spirit that is breathed into a human being. I join with H. C. Leupold in affirming that ‘nor can we for a moment hold that air or human breath was what God breathed into man’s nostrils. It was His own vital breath’ (Leupold 1942:116).

We know from Genesis 1:27 that this is associated with human beings (mankind) being made in the image of God: ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’.

We know from other Scripture that ‘soul’ (Hebrew nephesh, Greek psyche) and ‘spirit’ (Hebrew ruach, Greek pneuma) are interchangeable terms (cf John 12:27 and John 13:21; Luke 1:46-47; those who have died and gone to heaven or hell are called ‘spirits’ in Heb. 12:23, but ‘souls’ in Rev.6:9; 29:4). The soul/spirit is that dimension of human beings that survives death.

While there may be some challenges in interpreting the nature of human beings in the differences between dichotomy (body and soul) and trichotomy (body, soul and spirit), it is nothing like the challenge of the atheistic invention of the meaning of the human spirit. This is not some human invention that is subject to the whims and fancies of individuals, groups and cultures. It is defined by God himself and is thus an absolute standard. For an examination of dichotomy vs trichotomy, see Matt Slick, ‘Man’.

But what does it mean that human beings are made in the image of God? This is a basic definition, ‘The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God and represents God’. According to Genesis 1:26, ‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’. The Hebrew word for ‘image’ is tselem and the Hebrew for ‘likeness’ is demut and they both ‘refer to something that is similar but not identical to the thing it represents or is an “image” of. The word image can also be used of something that respresents something else’. Therefore, Grudem’s exposition makes it clear that much of the discussion about a narrow meaning of ‘the image of God’ is unnecessary because ‘it simply could have meant to the original readers, “Let us make man to be like us and represent us’ (Grudem 1994:442; emphasis in original). While there may be discussion amongst theologians about the minute details of the meaning ofimage or likeness of God, there is no need for this as Grudem’s explanation is more than adequate.

Differences among theologians in their interpretation of Genesis 1-2 is nothing like the humanistic invention of the atheistic understanding of the ‘human spirit’. From God’s perspective there is an absolute standard from which to determine the meaning of ‘human spirit’.

7. I believe in the necessity for credible and objective evidence to sustain any belief and thus deny, because of the absence of such evidence, the existence of each and every aspect of the supernatural.

Of course the atheist would claim the ‘absence of alleged credible, objective evidence’ for the acceptance of belief in God and the rejection of the supernatural. However these are presuppositions made by atheists before they examine the evidence. In claiming there is no credible, objective evidence to support the existence of God, what evidence do they accept and what do they reject?

Alister McGrath is a former atheist. He has two doctorates from the University of Oxford, a DPhil in molecular biophysics and a DD in theology. He explains his move to consider Christianity:

I can still remember the turbulence that I found myself experiencing on making the intellectually painful (yet rewarding) transition from atheism to Christianity. Every part of my mental furniture had to be arranged. Dawkins is correct – unquestionably correct – when he demands that we should not base our lives on delusions. We all need to examine our beliefs – especially if we are naïve enough to think that we don’t have any in the first place. But who, I wonder, is really deluded about God? (McGrath & McGrath 2007:2)

In his refutation of Dawkins view of God, McGrath, in The Dawkins Delusion, explains his response when he read Dawkins’, The God Delusion:

When I read The God Delusion I was both saddened and troubled. How, I wondered, could such a gifted popularizer of the natural sciences, who once had such a passionate concern for the objective analysis of evidence, turn into such an aggressive anti-religious propagandist, with an apparent disregard for evidence that was not favourable to his case? Why were natural sciences being so abused in an attempt to advance atheist fundamentalism? I have no adequate explanation (McGrath & McGrath 2007:x-xi).

After the publication of McGrath’s 2004 book, DawkinsGod, he was invited to speak regularly on the themes from the book throughout the world in which he explained Dawkins’ views on religion and rebutted the views, point by point. Then he relates what happened at one of those events:

After one such lecture, I was confronted by a very angry young man. The lecture had not been particularly remarkable. I had simply demonstrated, by rigorous use of scientific, historical and philosophical arguments, that Dawkins’ intellectual case against God didn’t stand up to critical examination. But this man was angry – in fact, I would say he was furious. Why? Because, he told me, wagging his finger agitatedly at me, I had ‘destroyed his faith.’ His atheism rested on the authority of Richard Dawkins, and I had totally undermined his faith. He would have to go away and rethink everything. How dare I do such a thing! (McGrath & McGrath 2007:1-2; emphasis in original).

When one starts with presuppositions, (1) There is no God, and (2) There is no such thing as supernatural interventions by the supernatural God, it is only natural that one would come up with these points in the atheist’s creed: (a) There is no credible and objective evidence for the existence of God, and (b) There is no credible and objective evidence for the existence of the supernatural.

If you are seriously interested in examining the evidence, I recommend a read of this debate between William Lane Craig and Douglas M Jesseph, ‘Does God exist?

8. I refuse to bow, prostrate myself, or otherwise cower before the deities of any religion.

This is a self-refuting statement from Mano Singham who wants to put ‘religion’ into another category to atheism. His articulation of ‘an atheist’s creed’ automatically places him in the religious category of a set of beliefs that makes up a creed.

Is atheism a religion? This agnosticism/atheism website states that it is a myth to state that ‘atheism is just another religion’. David Lose asked in his article for the Huffington Post, ‘Has atheism become a religion?’ (26 May 2011) He provides four piece of evidence to show that atheism does have religious beliefs. In summary, he stated:

Taken together, these four elements suggest that Atheists regularly demonstrate attributes — desire for spiritual sustenance, the importance of self-identification, offering their worldview as an alternative to other religious systems, and an assertive if not competitive style of engagement with other religious points of view — usually exhibited by religious folk of all persuasions.

To which deities do atheists bow? David Lose provides this evidence:

While Atheism as a movement doesn’t have the formal structure, celebrations, or creedal dogmas[11] of organized religions, we might at least identify Atheism as it exists today as an increasingly vibrant faith tradition. Still, when speaking of Atheists, why use the f-word (for “faith,” silly) rather than speak of a worldview or personal philosophy? Three reasons suggest themselves.

1) It conveys that both a conventional religious worldview and atheistic worldview require a measure of faith. I don’t mean this simply about the rather limited question of whether God exists, but rather about whether the material, physical dimension of life immediately apparent to our senses is all there is. The question can’t be reduced, as Atheists regularly have, to observing that there are many beliefs – in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus as well as God – that can’t be proved and must be taken on faith, but rather to ask whether there is a dimension of existence that supersedes or eludes our physical senses. Ultimately, any speech about God implies such a dimension that conversation about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus do not.

2) Religious faith – and I’d argue atheistic faith – doesn’t begin and end with the question of God or a spiritual dimension to life. One needs also to construct an interpretation of life (describing its purpose, goal, worth) and set of values by which to live that life. Ethics and values are not self-evident from religious creeds – witness, for instance, the distinct values of the varieties of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that run the gamut from liberal to fundamentalist. Similarly, there is no self-evident value system shared by Atheists and projecting such a system requires imagination, critical reflection and, yes, faith.

Third, characterizing both organized religion and emergent Atheism as distinct faith traditions invites a measure of mutual regard and even respect that is sorely lacking in present discourse. Professing belief in God, as well as rejecting such belief, each requires equal measures of imagination and nerve. As it turns out, doubt is not the opposite of faith; certainty is. For this reason, we can hold out the hope that religious and non-religious believers alike may recognize in each other similar acts of courage and together reject the cowardice of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular. Being able to disagree respectfully is a small but significant step that believers and non-believers could take as they, together, contemplate admiring, understanding, and preserving this wondrous world we share (David Lose 2011).

So, atheists do have faith in ‘deities’ of their own making. The do place their faith into a humanistic, relativistic value system that provides for them a reason for the ultimate atheistic position. Now, they won’t like the association with a ‘deity’ but I’m using deity in the sense of an ultimate value. One of the definitions in Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary for deity is ‘the estate or rank of a god’ (The Macquarie Dictionary 1997:570).

In the Sociology Guide (2011) on ‘means values, ends values, and ultimate values’, it stated that

Values tend to be hierarchically arranged. This may be shown through use of the concepts of means values and ends values. As the words themselves imply, means values are instrumental values in that they are sought as part of the effort to achieve other values. Ends values are both more general and more important in the eyes of the groups who are doing the valuing…. Regardless of which way the question is answered, it is obvious that one is about to arrive at an ultimate value that can no longer be justified in terms of other values.

So, whether we call the ultimate, ‘ultimate values’ or a ‘deity’, all people cower before some ultimate that cannot be justified in terms of other values. In my discussions with atheists, I have not met any who have been able to live consistently with their value system. They claim there is no God, no life-after-death, and they are responsible to no deity, but they still want meaning in life – they want a purpose for living. A naturalistic worldview will not give that ultimate purpose.

Do you remember the nihilist (some would say atheistic), German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (AD 1844-1900)?[12] He related the story of a madman who in the early hours of the morning burst into the marketplace with his lantern and cried out, ‘I seek God! I seek God!’. Because many of those present were atheists, the madman got lots of laughter. The crowd taunted him, ‘Did God get lost? Or is he hiding? Or maybe he has gone on a voyage or emigrated!’ There was much yelling and laughing. Then Nietzsche wrote that the madman turned on them and with piercing eyes said:

‘Whither is God?’ he cried, ‘I shall tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? . . . God is dead. . . . And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? (Nietzsche 1954:95).

Nietzsche was instrumental in some of the ideology of ‘the death of God’ movement. However, he was asking, through the madman, how those who have killed God could comfort themselves (with meaning?) without God. So even the killers of God couldn’t get away without seeking comfort – in Nietzsche’s view.

Atheists may run from any association with a deity, but they still have to find some comfort for themselves when things go wrong. From where do they get their ultimate meaning?

Ken Samples has made this succinct observation:

Naturalism as a worldview seems unable to offer the kind of meaning, purpose, and hope that humans require and yearn to experience. Instead, the ultimate fate of the individual, humanity, and even the universe will inevitably be the same regardless of what any person may do. Nothing that anyone thinks, says, or does will change the fact that each individual person, all of humankind collectively, and the universe itself (due to entropy) will someday be utterly extinct, lifeless, and cold. The outcome of naturalism is an inevitable hopelessness (Samples 2007:217).

There is no cowering before the deity of a religion for this Atheist’s Creed, but where does the atheist go for ultimate meaning? Puny human beings with their limited understanding and resources?

9. I am neither tempted by the fiction of heaven or any other form of eternal life nor fearful of the fiction of hell.

This could also be interpreted as: ‘I am neither tempted by the desire to examine the evidence, wherever it leads. The historical evidence does not interest me as I’ve already made up my mind about heaven, hell and eternal life. I have a presuppositional bias against such stuff so evidence is no interest to me’.

It is amazing the conclusions people will reach when their starting point is really their conclusion. If atheists were honest about the evidence, they would follow it wherever it leads –including the historical sources of the Christian Scriptures and the evidence for heaven, hell and eternal life.

Take a listen to some evidence from: Near-death experiences;

On the ‘Arguments for Atheism’ page it is stated that ‘The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that God exists despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that there is a God. If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated’. It goes on …

The scientific method was developed centuries ago to prevent the assertion of unproven or unprovable theories: first a hypothesis is formulated as an explanation of a particular phenomenon, based on observation or experimentation, and then that hypothesis must be tested repeatedly to provide firm evidence for its truth (sometimes requiring in the process the refinement of the original hypothesis) before it can be accepted as true. Unless repeatable empirical evidence can be presented for a claim such as “God exists”, it remains an unproven hypothesis in which belief is unwarranted.

If the only way to gather evidence was through hypotheses that are formulated and there were observations with repeated experimentation, there is no way that anything in history would be known. We would not know of the evidence for Aristotle, Plato, Jesus Christ, Augustine of Hippo, the founding of the nations in Africa, Asia and South America; the history of the founding of Great Britain, The Pilgrim Fathers leaving England in 1620 on the ship, the Mayflower, for the new world in 1620; Captain Cook visiting Australia in 1770, The Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, the evidence for World Wars 1 and 2 in the twentieth century. We could go on and on. The atheist worldview is very short-sighted when it comes to the examination of evidence.

It is especially myopic when it comes to an examination of the evidence in the special revelation of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

There is evidence from the mouth of Jesus for an afterlife, but the scientific method promoted by this atheist would not find it because his or her methodology is contorted. It is not designed to provide a method that enables anyone to sift all of the available evidence.

Yes, it is able to discern if warfarin is a useful drug for the treatment of my artificial heart valve condition and if a treatment for the Hendra horse virus can be found. It is used for all kinds of repeatable experimentations in the scientific laboratory in the present time. But from this understanding of the scientific method, an unknown person would not be able to determine the first primary and secondary schools I attended. But when it comes to examining historical evidence, this Atheist’s Creed uses a straw man logical fallacy.

Let us be very clear about the evidence for heaven, hell and eternal life. The scientific method of the laboratory is not suitable for examining this historical evidence from Jesus Christ and other biblical writers.

Often when I engage with atheists and other antagonists to the Gospel message, including the subject of heaven, hell and eternal life, they have had tendencies to change the topic. This is known as the red herring logical fallacy.

10. I choose to live the dignified and exhilarating life of a free-thinker, able to go wherever knowledge and curiosity takes me, without fear of contradicting any dogma.

Antony Flew, a celebrated atheist, also was living the celebrated life of a free-thinker who pursued knowledge wherever it took him. Have a guess what? Throughout his life he was an outspoken atheist, but when he examined the evidence carefully, he had to give up his atheism. I have summarised Flew’s arguments in, ‘Some of Antony Flew’s arguments for an uncaused God rather than an uncaused universe’. Read about it in Antony Flew (with Roy Abraham Varghese), There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind (2007. New York: HarperOne).

Alister McGrath was an atheistic scientist, but when he pursued the evidence, he left atheism for a relationship with Jesus Christ and became a committed evangelical Christian. See a discussion of McGrath’s new-found faith in A passion for truth: The intellectual coherence of evangelicalism (McGrath 1996).

Conclusion

The Atheist’s Creed is too flimsy for belief. It has holes in it that are so big that one could drive a logical and evidential ‘truck’ through them. I hope that this short expose, with its many limitations and time constraints in writing, will provide some evidence to reconsider the atheistic worldview as not matching reality.

References

Anderson, A B n d. Sir Isaac Newton and the Bible. Reformation. Available at: http://www.reformation.org/newton.html (Accessed 10 January 2012).

Augustine, K 2001. A defense of naturalism (MA thesis submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park). The Secular Web, available at: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/thesis.html (Accessed 9 January 2011).

Blanchard, J 2000. Does God believe in atheists? Darlington, England/Auburn MA, USA: Evangelical Press.

Boise, J M 1976. Galatians, in F E Gaebelein (gen ed), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 10, 407-508. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Carson, D A 1996. The gagging of God: Christianity confronts pluralism. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Danto, A C 1972. Naturalism, in Edwards, P (ed), The encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol 5. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 448-450.

Dawkins, R 2006. The God delusion. London: Black Swan.

Geisler, N L 1999. Naturalism, in Geisler, N L, Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 521-522.

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Harris, R. L. 1957, 1969. Inspiration and canonicity of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Hummel, C E 1991. The faith behind the famous: Isaac Newton. Christian History, April 1. Available at: http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1991/issue30/3038.html (Accessed 10 January 2012).

Lewis, C S 1970. God in the dock: Essays on theology and ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

McGrath, A E 1996. A passion for truth: The intellectual coherence of evangelicalism. Leicester, England: Apollos (Inter-Varsity Press).

McGrath, A 2004. Dawkins’ God: Genes, memes and the meaning of life. Oxford: Blackwell.

McGrath, A with McGrath, J C 2007. The Dawkins delusion: Atheistic fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. London: SPCK.

Meacham, J 2005, From Jesus to Christ’, Newsweek (in The Bulletin), March 29, pp. 40-48, p. 44. Available at The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2005/03/27/from-jesus-to-christ.html (Accessed 10 January 2012).

Moo, D 1996. The epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Friedrich Nietzsche 1954, from The Gay Science, W Kaufmann, W, The Portable Nietzsche, 93-102. New York, New York: Penguin Books.

Origen n d, Contra Celsus, I.13. Available from New Advent at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04161.htm (Accessed 10 April 2005).

Peake, A 2011. Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story. The Sun [UK], 17 May. Available at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3583956/Stephen-Hawking-on-death.html (Accessed 10 January 2012).

Samples, K R 2007. A world of difference: Putting Christian truth-claims to the worldview test. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

The Macquarie dictionary 3rd ed 1997. Delbridge, A; Bernard, J R L; Blair, D; Butler, S; Peters, P & Yallop, C (eds). Sydney, NSW: The Macquarie Library, Macquarie University, Australia.

Tozer, A W 1961. The knowledge of the holy (online). San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers. Available at: http://www.ntcg-aylesbury.org.uk/books/knowledge_of_the_holy.pdf (Accessed 12 April 2012).

Westacott, E 2005. Relativism, in Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/relativi/ (Accessed 9 January 2011).

Notes:


[1] Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Atheist Christopher Hitchens dies of cancer’, nullopus000 #22, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=17&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=120930 (Accessed 18 December 2011). I’m OzSpen and I commenced this topic. My comments follow under that name.

[2] Mano Singham 2005. An Atheist’s Creed’. Machines Like Us, available at: http://machineslikeus.com/news/an-atheists-creed (Accessed 9 January 2011; emphasis in original). I have numbered the points in the creed. The numbering is my own.

[3] Ibid.

[4] This critique is of an atheist’s creed by Mano Singham op cit.

[5] Hawking claimed that heaven was a ‘ fairy story for people afraid of the dark (Peake 2011).

[6] Origen n.d., ‘Contra Celsus’, I.13, available from New Advent at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04161.htm (10 April 2005).

[7] In the hard copy of this publication, the quotes are on p. 1 but with this online edition they are on p. 4.

[8] Samuel Butler 1912. The Note-Books of Samuel Butler. The Gutenberg Project, transcribed from the 1912 edition. Available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/nbsb10h.htm (Accessed 3 November 2012).

[9] ‘Atheist spirituality’, available at: http://www.squidoo.com/Atheist_Spirituality (Accessed 3 November 2012).

[10] Maritova, ‘Atheists: What does “human spirit” mean to you? Yahoo! Answers, available at: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080522170205AACtj7j (Accessed 3 November 2012).

[11] Here I have provided contrary evidence that some atheists promote their own ‘Atheist’s Creed’.

[12] I was alerted to this information from Nietzsche by William Lane Craig in ‘The absurdity of life without God’, Reasonable Faith, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god (Accessed 4 November 2012).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 July 2016.

6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small6pointblue-small

Is Richard Dawkins an agnostic or an atheist?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Atom Of Atheism Wallpaper 10by16 by kg

(image courtesy Open Clipart Library)

By Spencer D Gear

Is Richard Dawkins an atheist[1] or an agnostic?[2] In a debate on evolution between eminent scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins, and Rowan William, Archbishop of Canterbury, The Independent [UK] reported:

Could Dawkins disprove the existence of God? He could not, he confessed, describing himself not as an atheist but as an agnostic – to gasps from Twitter, where the unlikely #dawkinsarchbishop hashtag was trending. On his own atheism scale of one-to-seven, the Professor suggested, “the probability of any supernatural creator existing is very, very low, so let’s say I’m a 6.9″….

“I am baffled,” responded Dawkins, “by the way sophisticated theologians who know Adam and Eve never existed still keep talking about it.” God, he said, “cluttered up” his scientific worldview. “I don’t see clutter coming into it,” Williams replied. “I’m not thinking of God as an extra who has to be shoehorned into it” (Walker 2012).

Here is a clip from the debate on YouTube, where Dawkins admits he is an agnostic and not an atheist: See HERE.

The Daily Mail [UK] reported the debate this way:

Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist – admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

The country’s foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury….

But when Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams suggested that Professor Darwin is often described as the world’s most famous atheist, the geneticist responded: ‘Not by me’.

He said: ‘On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn’t, I call myself a six.’

Professor Dawkins went on to say what he believed was a ‘6.9’, stating: ‘That doesn’t mean I’m absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don’t’….

This latest admission by Professor Dawkins comes after he was left lost for words [to] name the full title of his scientific hero’s[3] most famous work during a radio discussion last week in which he accused Christians of being ignorant of the Bible.

In his frustration, he resorted to a helpless: ‘Oh God’ (Hills 2012).

However, this is not a new perspective from Dawkins. As we shall see, this is a similar view to what he has already promoted in The God delusion (2006).

A.  The reaction of other atheists to Dawkins’ claim

How have Dawkins’ atheistic followers reacted to his acknowledgement that he is a 6.9 agnostic on a scale of 1-7 (1 being God exists and 7 being God does not exist)? Some of the comments made by posters following the Mail Online article show the defensiveness of atheists:

An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in God. Dawkins doesn’t believe in God. Dawkins is an atheist. Dawkins, like practically every other atheist I’ve ever met, has the humility to admit he doesn’t know everything, and therefore allows for the possibility that he is wrong. Technically, that makes him agnostic; but by that standard every Christian who ever has a moment of doubt is also agnostic. This isn’t a change in what Dawkins believes. The only news here is that the author of this article doesn’t understand the subject she’s covering. And really, that’s not news. (James Huber, Oakland, USA, 26/2/2012) [Walker 2012][4]

Professor Dawkins has ALWAYS said he is an agnostic atheist, which is distinct from a simple agnostic. The Mail is engaging in sensationalism, yet again. (Joseph Martin, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, 26/2/2012) [Walker 2012].

Another perspective in these comments was:

This is a U-turn in his rhetoric. Remember Dawkins wrote a chapter in The God Delusion called “The Poverty of Agnosticism”? Is he now impoverished?? (Juan, Slough, UK, 26/2/2012).

Another used it as a reason to attack the credibility of the Bible:

Comparing religion with science is misrepresenting science. Science is simply the logical application of thought to problems – processing what you currently know to explain things better. It isn’t an alternative belief system, it is a way of teasing out truth from ideas. One truth we have discovered is that lots of things are unprovable. I cannot prove my desk exists but we accept this as a proven ‘fact’. Arguing otherwise is just untenable. We have worked out that the earth is billions of years old. If Jesus is the son of God, the Bible wouldn’t describe the earth as a few thousand years old and there wouldn’t be so many other factual errors. Common sense tells you that, if the writers didn’t know any more than the smart guys of the day, there is no need to look for a supernatural explanation. We may not be able to prove God doesn’t exist, but we *have* proved the Bible to be wrong on many fundamental points (even theologians agree). Belief based on the Bible is untenable (Dave, Cambridge, UK, 26/2/2012) [Walker 2012].

In a Christian apologetics site, Theo-sophical Ruminations (online): Agnostic Front, there is an article, ‘Dawkins is an agnostic? Why certainty is irrelevant to defining atheism’. The author makes this assessment:

During his dialogue-debate with Rowen[5] Williams (the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church under the Queen of England), Richard Dawkins was asked by the moderator why, if he admits that He cannot disprove God’s existence, he doesn’t just call himself an agnostic.  Dawkins response was, “I do.”

This is interesting, particularly in light of his past identification as an atheist, as well as his remarks that on a scale of 1 to 7, with one being “I know God exists” and seven being “I know God doesn’t exist,”  he ranks himself a 6.9.  He is only 0.1 away from being absolutely certain God does not exist, and yet he thinks that is good reason to adopt the agnostic label.  I disagree.

The presumption here is that to be an atheist one must be 100% sure that God does not exist, and if one is not 100% sure then they are agnostic (Christians often make this same mistake in reasoning).  But since when has atheism described the level of certainty one has regarding the non-existence of God?  Atheism describes the position of those who think the proposition “God exists” is false, regardless of their level of confidence that this is so.  Whether they are 99% or 51% sure the proposition is false, it is the mere fact that they think it is false that makes them an atheist….

If one must be 100% certain that God does not exist before it is appropriate to designate one’s position as “atheism,” then I think most philosophers would agree that no one could be an atheist.[6]

In spite of the atheistic promoters disappointment with Dawkins ‘agnostic’ position (even if only 0.1 out of 7.0), he did have a section in The God Delusion on ‘the poverty of agnosticism’ (Dawkins 2006:69-77), but he admitted

the view that I shall defend is very different: agnosticism about the existence of God belongs firmly in the temporary or TAP [Temporary Agnosticism in Practice] category. Either he exists or he doesn’t. It is a scientific question: one day we may know the answer, and meanwhile we can say something very strong about the probability….

God’s existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice. If he existed and chose to reveal it, God himself could clinch the argument, noisily and unequivocally, in his favour (Dawkins 2006:70, 73, emphasis added).

However, he did write that he was agnostic about the existence of God ‘only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden’ (Dawkins 2006:74). So Dawkins, even in The God delusion (2006), was admitting his temporary agnostic position that, by definition, will lead to full-blown atheism one day when the scientific evidence is eventually found to deny the existence of God.

Dawkins’ examination of evidence is inhibited by his rejection of all kinds of evidence, as exemplified in strident statements such as,

(1) ‘It is impossible to overstress the difference between such a passionate commitment to biblical fundamentals and the true scientist’s equally passionate commitment to evidence’ (2006:19).

(2) ‘Dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature (whether by evolution or design) [2006:28].

(3) ‘The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices. But ask a religious person to justify their faith and you infringe “religious liberty”’ (2006:45, emphasis added).

(4) ‘Not surprisingly, since it is founded on local traditions of private revelation rather than evidence, the God Hypothesis comes in many versions’ (2000:52).

(5) ‘There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position’ (2000:69).

(6) ‘If he existed and chose to reveal it, God himself could clinch the argument, noisily and unequivocally, in his favour’ (2006:73, emphasis added).

(7) ‘I shall not consider the Bible further as evidence of any kind of deity’ (2006:122-123).

(8) ‘It would be interesting to know whether there was any statistical tendency, however slight, for religious believers to loot and destroy than unbelievers. My uninformed prediction would have been opposite’ (2006:261).

(9) ‘Adherents of scriptural authority show distressingly little curiosity about the (normally highly dubious) historical origins of their holy books’ (2006:267).

(10) ‘Much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and “improved” by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries’ (2006:268).

(11) ‘Let’s charitably put it down again to the ubiquitous weirdness of the Bible’ (2006:273).

(12) ‘The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals’ (2006:280)

(13) ‘when you have been taught that truth comes from scripture rather than from evidence’ (2006:379).

B.  The scientific method: How to determine scientific facts

What is the scientific method? Experiment-Resources.com has provided this brief and helpful overview of the scientific method:

1.  The scientific process[7]

A scientific process or scientific method requires observations of nature and formulating and testing the hypothesis. It consists of following four steps.

1. Observe something and ask questions about a natural phenomenon (scientific observation)

2. Make your hypothesis

3. Make predictions about logical consequences of the hypothesis

4. Test your predictions by controlled experiment, a natural experiment, an observational study or a field experiment

5. Create your conclusion on the basis of data or information gathered in your experiment.

Here it is summarised with this graphic:

clip_image002

Matt Slick, while acknowledging the differences of opinion regarding the exact definition of the scientific method, stated that the main elements of the method are:

  1. Observation – a perception, viewing of phenomena.
  2. Hypothesis – a proposed explanation is developed to account what has been observed.
  3. Experimentation – tests are developed to validate or invalidate the hypothesis.
  4. Prediction – after tests and validation of the hypothesis, predictions are made based upon the evidence gathered in experimentation.
  5. Theory – a theory is based upon a hypothesis, verified by testing, and is generally accepted as being an accurate explanation of phenomena.

What should be emphasised more in this overview is that the scientific method deals with in the measurable, the observable and the repeatable. Therefore, it is used primarily with experiments in the present time that can be observed, have hypotheses created, data accumulated to confirm or disconfirm the predictions of the hypothesis, and further hypotheses proposed to be tested for verification or falsification.

I do not consider that ultimate questions can be decided through use of the scientific method in its strictest sense. In my view, the existence of God and their being reason and purpose in the universe, cannot be analysed according to the scientific method’s use of observing things in the present time and testing them.

Yet, Dawkins regards science as the primary evidence for investigating our world. Take statements like:

  • ‘The implication that the scriptures provide a literal account of geological history would make any reputable theologian wince’ (Dawkins 2006:377);
  • A promotion of a young earth by a creationist in teaching science was designed ‘to subvert evidence-based science education and replace it with biblical scripture’ (Dawkins 2006:378);
  • ‘… when you have been taught that truth comes from scripture rather than from evidence’ (Dawkins 2006:379);

Because of this exclusive priority given by Dawkins to the primacy of science, scientist and theologian, Alister McGrath, has stated of Dawkins’ view:

Science is the only reliable tool that we possess to understand out world. It has no limits. We may not know something now—but we will in the future. It is just a matter of time. This view, found throughout Dawkins’s body of writings, is given added emphasis in The God Delusion, which offers a vigorous defense of the universal scope and conceptual elegance of the natural sciences…. The point is simple: there are no “gaps” in which God can hide. Science will explain everything—including why some still believe in such a ridiculous idea as God. Yet it is an approach that simply cannot be sustained….

Dawkins does, I have to say with regret, tend to portray anyone raising questions about the scope of sciences as a science-hating idiot (McGrath & McGrath 2007:35-36).

Dawkins has confirmed his short-sightedness with his support for the exclusivity of natural explanations, and he is subject to severe critique as McGrath & McGrath (2007) have demonstrated. I highly recommend McGrath & McGrath’s analysis of Dawkins’ worldview. It is devastating as they conclude that

The God Delusion is a work of theatre rather than scholarship…. Many have been disturbed by Dawkins’s crude stereotypes, vastly oversimplified binary oppositions (science is good; religion is bad), straw men and hostility toward religion. Might The God Delusion actually backfire and end up persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant, doctrinaire and disagreeable as the worst that religion can offer?… Yet the fact that Dawkins relies so excessively on rhetoric rather than the evidence that would otherwise be his natural stock in trade clearly indicates that something is wrong with his case…. Might atheism be a delusion about God? (McGrath & McGrath 2007:96-97, emphasis in original).

C.  God himself could clinch the argument

Let’s get back to Dawkins challenging statement about God: ‘If he existed and chose to reveal it, God himself could clinch the argument, noisily and unequivocally, in his favour’ (2006:73).

So Dawkins is the master of evidence on the existence of God and he challenges God to ‘clinch the argument’, not in just some robust fashion, but God could do it ‘noisily and unequivocally’ and this would be in God’s favour – if only God would take Dawkins’ advice and do it as Dawkins wants.

D.  Wait a minute, Richard Dawkins!

God has already revealed Himself unequivocally and Dawkins does not accept the evidence. Why? His presuppositional bias to atheism, naturalism, and the scientific method, prevents him from accepting God’s unequivocal evidence that is available elsewhere and in ways that God states are available to all. This is some of how God has stated the evidence:

  • ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’ (Psalm 19:1 NIV).
  • ‘Since what may be known about God is plain to them [godless, wicked people], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse’ (Romans 1:19-20 NIV, emphasis added).
  • They [Gentiles, non-Jews] show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. (Romans 2:15 NIV).
  • Jesus said, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9 NIV).

The Scriptures have stated that God has revealed himself, noisily, unequivocally in his own favour and not one human being in the world can make excuses like: “God I’m a 6.9 points out of 7 agnostic and I didn’t know for sure you exist”. “I’m a 99.9% atheist and I don’t believe in your existence”. “I was in a country where I never heard your Gospel and there was no Bible, so how can you send me to the place where the ungodly go?”

The Bible verses above confirm that God has done all he is ever going to do in three ways:

  1. He has revealed Himself through natural revelation – in the heavens, through what has been made in the natural world.
  2. A person’s heart/conscience has the law of God on it.
  3. If you’ve had knowledge of Jesus through the proclamation of the Gospel and through access to the Scriptures, you have seen God, the Father, in action. You know of God’s invisible attributes and you know some of what he does. To be a 99.9% atheist is not acceptable before the holy and just God who ‘does not show favoritism’ (Romans 2:11).

Therefore, Richard Dawkins and all of the ungodly people in the world, you are without excuse. Not one person who has ever existed will be able to stand before God on judgment day and say, ‘You did not reveal yourself to me, God, to clinch the argument, noisily and unequivocally, in your favour’.

E.  What are Richard Dawkins and all unbelievers up to?

Former atheist, scientist and now historical theologian at Oxford University, Dr. Alister McGrath, admitted his disillusionment with Dawkins’ antagonism towards God. He wrote:

When I read The God Delusion I was both saddened and troubled. How, I wondered, could such a gifted popularizer of the natural sciences, who once had such a passionate concern for the objective analysis of evidence, turn into such an aggressive antireligious propagandist with an apparent disregard for evidence that is not favorable to his case? Why were the natural sciences being so abused in an attempt to advance atheist fundamentalism? I have no adequate explanation. Like so many of my atheist friends, I simply cannot understand the astonishing hostility that he displays toward religion. Religion to Dawkins is like a red flag to a bull—evoking not merely an aggressive response but one that throws normal scholarly conventions about scrupulous accuracy and fairness to the winds (McGrath & McGrath 2007:12)

Terry Eagleton is a cultural and literary critic. His blistering critique of The God Delusion (2006) begins with these words:

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be (Eagleton 2006).

Eagleton describes Dawkins as being ‘theologically illiterate’ and Dawkins has provided ‘vulgar caricatures of religious faith’ (Eagleton 2006).

Well said, Terry, and your entire review is a scintillating assessment of Richard Dawkins’ ineptitude when it comes to theology.

F.  How reliable is the Bible?

When discussing the Christian Gospel and defending Christianity, I have often heard comments such as: ‘You can’t depend on the fairytales of the Bible. Go tell somebody else your nonsense’; ‘Try that on somebody else. I’m not that gullible. Your Bible is a bunch of trash’. Let’s see how Dawkins attempts to undermine the reliability of the Bible:

  • ‘How many literalists have read enough of the Bible to know that the death penalty is prescribed for adultery, for gathering sticks on the sabbath and for cheeking your parents? If we reject Deuteronomy and Leviticus (as all enlightened moderns do), by what criteria do we then decide which of religion’s moral values to accept? Or should we pick and choose among all the world’s religions until we find one whose moral teaching suits us? If so, again we must ask, by what criterion do we choose? And if we have independent criteria for choosing among religious moralities, why not cut out the middle man and go straight for the moral choice without the religion?’ (Dawkins 2006:81, emphasis in original)
  • ‘To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird’ (2006:268).
  • ‘Despite the good intentions of the sophisticated theologian, a frighteningly large number of people still do take their scriptures, including the story of Noah, literally. According to Gallup, they include approximately 50 per cent of the US electorate’ (2006:269).
  • ‘Scientists may think it is nonsense to teach astrology and the literal truth of the Bible’ (2006:367).
  • ‘Jesus was not content to derive his ethics from the scriptures of his upbringing. He explicitly departed from them, for example when he deflated the dire warnings about breaking the sabbath. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” has been generalized into a wise proverb’ (2006:284).
  • ‘There are other teachings in the New Testament that no good person should support. I refer especially to the central doctrine of Christianity: that of “atonement” for “original sin”. This teaching, which lies at the heart of New Testament theology, is almost as morally obnoxious as the story of Abraham setting out to barbecue Isaac, which it resembles’ (2006:284).
  • ‘What kind of ethical philosophy is it that condemns every child, even before it is born, to inherit the sin of a remote ancestor?’ (2006:285).
  • ‘The Christian focus is overwhelmingly on sin sin sin sin sin sin sin. What a nasty little preoccupation to have dominating your life’ (2006:285).
  • ‘I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sadomasochistic and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad, but for its ubiquitous familiarity which has dulled our objectivity. If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment?’ (2006:287).
  • ‘Adam, the supposed perpetrator of the original sin, never existed in the first place: an awkward fact -excusably unknown to Paul but presumably known to an omniscient God (and Jesus, if you believe he was God?) – which fundamentally undermines the premise of the whole tortuously nasty theory [of the atonement] (Dawkins 2006:287).
  • ‘The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror’ (2006:51).
  • ‘For a more sophisticated believer in some kind of supernatural intelligence, it is childishly easy to overcome the problem of evil. Simply postulate a nasty god – such as the one who stalks every page of the Old Testament’ (2006:135).
  • Begin in Genesis with the well-loved story of Noah, derived from the Babylonian myth of Uta-Napisthim and known from the older mythologies of several cultures. The legend of the animals going into the ark two by two is charming, but the moral of the story of Noah is appalling. God took a dim view of humans, so he (with the exception of one family) drowned the lot of them including children and also, for good measure, the rest of the (presumably blameless) animals as well’ (2006:269).
  • ‘Why should a divine being, with creation and eternity on his mind, care a fig for petty human malefactions?’ (2006:270)
  • ‘Look it up in Judges 19:29. Let’s charitably put it down to the ubiquitous weirdness of the Bible’ (2006:273).
  • ‘Yet the legend [of Abraham] is one of the great foundational myths of all three monotheistic religions’ (2006:275).
  • ‘Modern morality, wherever else it comes from, does not come from the Bible’ (2006:279).
  • ‘And the Bible story of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals’ (2006:280).

Those assaults by Richard Dawkins should stir you to realise that there is a tirade of antagonism, not only from Dawkins, but also from others. That should give you enough ammunition to indicate that there are people in university land who have a deep hostility towards the Bible and the God of the Bible. In being an apologist for the Christian faith in the twenty-first century, you’ll need to defend the reliability of the Scriptures. I refer you to my four articles that deal with this matter in an introductory way.

Can you trust the Bible? Part 1

Can you trust the Bible? Part 2

Can you trust the Bible? Part 3

Can you trust the Bible? Part 4

For further reading on the reliability of the Bible, I recommend: Blomberg (2007); Bruce (1960); Kaiser Jr (2001); Kitchen (2003); Montgomery (1984); Montgomery (1986).

G.  God has declared!

God has declared exactly what Richard Dawkins and all the ungodly are doing with their denial or rejection of the existence of God. All the evidence they will ever need is before them, but this is what they are doing:

  • ‘God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’ (Rom 1:18 NLT, emphasis added).

Suppression of the truth of God’s evidence in creation, conscience and through Jesus, is what is being done by Dawkins and everyone else who rejects the evidence for God’s existence.

However, God needs more than release from the suppression of the truth, to effect reconciliation with God Himself. This is God’s requirement: “Repent and believe the good news [the Gospel]” (Mark 1:15). Jesus said to his disciple, Thomas, ‘Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”’ (John 20:29).

I pray that Richard Dawkins and all ungodly people will have their eyes opened to the evidence that is unequivocally before them and they will repent of their sins and believe in Christ for salvation (eternal life). As long as they have breath, they have the opportunity to respond in faith to Christ.

H.  References:

Blomberg, C L 1987. The historical reliability of the gospels. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.

Bruce, F F 1960. The New Testament documents: Are they reliable? rev ed. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.

Dawkins, R 2006. The God delusion. London: Black Swan (a division of Transworld Publishers).

Eagleton, T 2006. Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching (a review of Richard Dawkins’ The God delusion) [online], 19 October. London Review of Books, vol 28, no 20. available at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching (Accessed 23 March 2012).

Hills, S 2012. ‘I can’t be sure God DOES NOT exist’: World’s most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic. Mail Online, February 24. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105834/Career-atheist-Richard-Dawkins-admits-fact-agnostic.html (Accessed 20 March 2012).

Kaiser Jr., Walter C 2001. The Old Testament documents: Are they reliable & relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois / Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

Kitchen, K A 2003. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

McGrath, A & McGrath, J C 2007. The Dawkins delusion. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books.

Montgomery, J W 1984. The testimony of the evangelists, examined by the rules of evidence administered in courts of justice. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Montgomery, J W 1986. Human rights and human dignity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Walker, T 2012. Science vs God: Richard Dawkins takes on Archbishop of Canterbury. The Independent (online), February 24. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/science-vs-god-richard-dawkins-takes-on-archbishop-of-canterbury-7440051.html (Accessed 20 March 2012).

I.  Notes:


[1] An atheist is ‘a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings’ (dictionary.com), available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheist?s=t (Accessed 26 March 2012).

[2] An agnostic is ‘a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience’ (dictionary.com), available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic?s=t (Accessed 26 March 2012).

[3] This was Charles Darwin and the full title of On the Origin of the Species was, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The correct spelling is ‘Rowan’.

[6] The article was written on 2 March 2012. Available at: http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/dawkins-is-an-agnostic-why-certainty-is-irrelevant-to-defining-atheism/ (Accessed 20 March 2012).

[7] Scientific observation. Experiment-Resources.com, available at: http://www.experiment-resources.com/scientific-observation.html (Accessed 25 March 2012).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 July 2016.

6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small

Why I Am Not An Atheist!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


(Courtesy clipartist.net)

By Spencer D Gear

A.W. Tozer wrote that “what we believe about God is the most important thing about us.” Philosopher, Mortimer Adler, agreed: “More consequences for thought and action follow the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other basic question.”

I am not an atheist or an agnostic for at least two reasons:

3d-red-star-small First, take a look at the world around us! There is such order and design in the universe. If we were nearer to the sun we would fry, but we’d freeze to death if we were further away.

When I examine how human life is sustained, I am amazed. Plants produce oxygen which human beings need. We produce carbon dioxide which plants need. What about human reproduction? How are fingers, legs, hair, skin, blood and brains formed?

Atheism leaves me cold amongst such grandeur in our world.

3d-red-star-small Second, when I look at human beings, I see two opposites. There’s incredible beauty and good will among us, but there is unbelievable evil and suffering around us.

Australians give multiple millions of dollars every year to help the starving and oppressed. Others have left lucrative trades and professions to go to war-torn and destitute countries. What about the hospitals that have been built and staffed? Don’t forget about the welfare agencies, both government and private, that make life easier for the hurting.

But there is another side: frustration, apathy, violence, nastiness, ugliness. And yet in the midst of this mess, people have a cry for meaning and purpose, for love, freedom, forgiveness, hope, even a cry for God.

I notice society is on the skids. I have met people sucked into the sexual freedom philosophy whose lives are in ruins. I have never yet met a person who jumped into bed with as many people as he/she wanted and ended up saying this is the great life with no negative consequences.

George Bernard Shaw, atheist, writer and the brains behind My Fair Lady wrote something provocative shortly before his death in 1950.  H. G. Wells, in his book, Mind At the End of Its Tether, tells of what Shaw said: “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. I believed it once. In its name I helped destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”

Atheism is powerless. When did you last hear somebody proclaim, “I have become an atheist and it has revolutionised my life, giving me new purpose and meaning. I was an alcoholic who was violent towards my wife and now I have become a reformed man.” Atheism doesn’t have that power.

God does! There are hundreds in this city who can declare, “If anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

With confidence, God can say: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 53:1).

An Interesting Change

Antony Flew

(Courtesy Apologetics 315)

One of the contemporary world’s most famous atheists, philosopher Antony Flew, has changed his mind and is now a believer in god.  Even the secular media reported this story.  Christianity Today wrote that Flew was not the first atheist to become a theist.  There were atheists in the Victorian era who came to similar conclusions.  The secular web stories are denying this story is true.

However, an exclusive interview between Dr. Antony Flew and Dr. Gary Habermas in 2004 should lay to rest the view that Antony Flew has not changed his mind.  Read it in My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism, in which he states that “the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries.”

The New York Times (16 April 2010) reported, “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87” (died 8 April 2010, Reading, England).

God writes the final chapter of ALL people’s lives! Where ill you be one minute after your last breath?

Copyright (c) 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.

6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small

Answering Bright Atheists [1]

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

 
theglobaldispatch.com

By Spencer D Gear

Some prominent Australians have identified themselves as atheists. These include Australia’s 21st Governor-General and federal minister in Gough Whitlam’s Labor government, Bill Hayden.  He refused to swear on the Bible when he became Governor-General in 1989.  Atheism is alive and well to the point that while I was surfing the Internet recently, I came across this link to a fellow promoting that he is legally ordained as an atheist with the Universal Life Church.

To put it simply, an atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of God. How many atheists are there in the world?  In a 1991 worldwide poll, it was found that 4.4% of the world’s population were atheists.[3] However, if we add the figure of “non-religious,” the highest figure rises to about 20% of the world population, or about 1.2 billion people.[4] Most of these would be agnostic – they are not sure about whether God exists.  According to the International Bulletin of Missionary Research by David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson, the estimated number of atheists worldwide in mid-2005 was 151,548,000 and the numbers are decreasing.[5]

This should not cause Christians to become complacent.  There is a group of atheists making its presence felt on the Internet.  I encountered a couple of them recently, making their views known on a Christian forum.  They called themselves, “Brights” (see also, The Brights) and one of them claimed that he was a person whose worldview was entirely naturalistic, with no room for the mystical or supernatural.  They have as much right to be debating on the Internet as I have as an evangelical Christian who is committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This gospel presents Jesus Christ as the one and only way to eternal life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) but I found these atheists to be just as one-eyed with their views.  I’ll share some of my interaction with Frank (not his real name).

The kinds of questions raised by Frank point to a need for Christian teaching in our churches that seems not to have received high priority for everyday believers in the part of Australia where I live.  This ministry was critical to the survival of the early church and there is an urgent call for it today.  I’m speaking of the theological discipline of apologetics – a defence of the Christian faith. 

First Peter 3:15-16 calls all of us: “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (ESV).  “A defense” (ESV, NASB) is translated by the KJV and NIV as “an answer.”  This is too weak a translation as the original Greek, “apologia,” refers to a defence before a judge in the court (as in Acts 22:1; 25:16).  This is the responsibility of every believer to defend his or her case as to what this hope in Christ means. This is everyone’s responsibility when unbelievers and believers question the basis of our faith. 

After the death of the twelve apostles, those who defended the Christian faith (apologists) had a prominent ministry in the church.  These names may not be as well-known today as Frank Peretti, Rick Warren, James Dobson and Tim LaHaye, but the Lord provided the ministry gift of the apologist to expose secular thinking and defend the Christian faith in those early centuries. 

I’m speaking of  Christian leaders in the first five centuries of the church such as: Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Origen and Augustine.  With the exception of  St. Augustine, most of these are not well known in today’s church, but they exercised critical ministries in a hostile pagan world for the early church.

Justin Martyr (from André Thevet)

Justin Martyr

Tertullian of Carthage (from André Thevet)

Tertullian

Augustine of Hippo (from André Thevet)

St Augustine

As apologists, they had positive and negative ministries through their writings.  “Negatively, they sought to refute the false charges of atheism, cannibalism, incest, indolence, and anti-social action” of their pagan neighbours and writers.  “They also developed a positive, constructive approach by showing that in contrast to Christianity, Judaism, pagan religions and state worship were foolish and sinful.”[6]

These people were obedient to the apostle Peter’s call to persecuted believers in first century culture (1 Pt. 3:15).

We of the West continue to live in antagonistic cultures to Christian claims.  Today the ministry of the apologist is sorely needed.  Recently I engaged in some apologetic response swith Frank, a Bright.  The name, “Bright,” in referring to atheists, seems to be derived from the time of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, 17th –18th  centuries.  It was an intellectual revolution that attempted to exclude faith from cultural influence.  It marked the birth of secularism.

Frank’s pointed questions are deserving of a considered response.

A.  An atheist’s good questions

This is my summary of Frank’s concerns.  They need good answers of defense:

1. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-merciful and all-good, why would He allow people to live and die without the opportunity of salvation?
2. Why isn’t God’s word available universally?
3. Frank does not believe in free will.
4. Wouldn’t it be fair for God to allow people to choose Him (and not be coerced) by allowing the Gospel to be available to everyone?
5. There are many people who live and die without hearing your Gospel.
6. If the only way to salvation is through Christ, how is it merciful or good for God not to make salvation available to all people?
7. Frank lives in a country where the Word of God is available to him.  He has rejected it and objects to the Christian claim that he faces eternal damnation after death, merely because he has not accepted Jesus as his Saviour.
8. How is eternal damnation for unbelievers “all-merciful”?
9. Why is accepting God’s Word necessary when he can get into heaven another way?

I attempted to address one of these questions.

B. Why would God allow people to live and die without the opportunity of salvation?

Thoughtful Christians have often asked this another way, “Are the unevangelised lost?”  Or, “What happens to those who have never heard the Gospel?”  This applies to those who lived before and after Christ.  How will the person who has no Bible translation and no missionaries be exposed to the gospel message that will lead to salvation?  Or, are they forever lost without the Gospel?  If so, is this fair of God?

There is something critical that we need to understand.

1. We deserve nothing from God

Before the fall of the human race into sin, God warned Adam:

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).

There is nothing complicated here.  The future of the human race depended on one and only one divine prohibition.  Adam had only one divine command to remember at this point of the human race, but the command was serious with “the strongest form of prohibition,” evidenced by the translation, “You must not eat.”  The penalty was: “dying you shall die,” which means that you shall “certainly die.”[7]

This at once raises the question, “Why was this penalty not carried out as threatened?”  We answer: “It was; if the Biblical concept of dying is kept in mind, as it unfolds itself ever more clearly from age to age.” Dying is separation from God.  That separation occurred the very moment when man by his disobedience broke the bond of love.  If physical death ultimately closes the experience, that is not the most serious aspect of the whole affair.  The more serious is the inner spiritual separation.[8]

Since God writes the laws of the universe, when Adam disobeyed God by eating of the fruit, human beings (Adam as our representative) immediately entered the world of death – separation from God, including physical death.
Why couldn’t God have changed his mind as some theological liberals want to contend?  If God did an about-turn on this threatened punishment, he would be like a fickle parent who gives severe threats to his children and then does a flip-flop when he is faced with the child’s consequences.  God is not like that.  What he says he means!

We are assured that God’s nature is unchangeable: “You [God] remain the same, and your years will never end” (Ps. 102:27); “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Mal. 3:6).  Isaiah 46:9-11 states it powerfully:

I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please. . .
What I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, that will I do.

You can depend absolutely on what God says.  He will not change his mind.  Since God warned Adam that sinning would amount to the consequence of separation from God, that is exactly what happened when Eve disobeyed by listening to and obeying the serpent’s temptation, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4).  God’s consequences followed.

Therefore, we deserve nothing other than eternal separation from God.  God could have allowed all human beings to go on their wilful way and be separated from God forever.  This would mean that all people would be damned because of the sinful choice by Adam and Eve as our representatives.  If God had chosen to save nobody from all of humanity, he would be completely just and nobody would complain about his unfairness.

If [God] had decided to save only five human beings out of the entire human race, that would have been much more than justice: it would have been a great demonstration of mercy and grace.  If he had decided to save only one hundred out of the whole human race, it would have been an amazing demonstration of mercy and love.  But God in fact has chosen to do much more than that.  He has decided to redeem out of sinful mankind a great multitude, whom no man can number, “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).  This is incalculable mercy and love, far beyond our comprehension.  It is all undeserved favor: it is all of grace.[9]

In God’s justice, he did not change the punishment when Adam and Eve sinned.  However, in his mercy, grace and love, he provided a way for people “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” to be saved.  God promised this Saviour in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

How does that work out with people who have never ever heard the Gospel?

2.  Some foundational truths

Before we examine how God reaches out to the people who have never heard the gospel, we need to nail down some fundamental teaching about God’s view of salvation for any people.

a. All people are in a sinful, lost condition

The Bible is clear that all people are sinful from conception (Ps. 51:5) and that all people are “by nature objects of [God’s] wrath” (Eph. 2:3).  Rom. 5:12 confirms that “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”

b. The lost are damned forever

One of the best known portions of Scripture confirms the eternal condition of those who do not believe (put their trust) in Jesus Christ:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:16-18 ESV).

c. There is only one Saviour

God’s word is clear that there is no salvation apart from Christ’s work of redemption.  Jesus said, “”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  When the apostle Peter preached before the Council, he declared concerning Jesus: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Paul, the apostle, affirmed this: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5).

These verses confirm that there is only one way to be saved and that is through faith in Jesus Christ (see also John 3:16, 18; 5:24; Rom. 10:9ff).  The Bible holds only one view – salvation from sin is found in nobody other than faith in Jesus Christ.

So, where does that leave the ungodly who have never heard of Christ’s salvation?

For the heathen who do not have access to the Word of God or a Christian missionary proclaiming the good news, the situation is: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20 TNIV).  Their conscience also bears witness, either accusing or excusing them (Rom. 2:15). What have they done with this light that they have received? 

3.  Eternity in their hearts

There’s a fascinating verse that appears in a rather neglected book of the Bible,  Ecclesiastes 3:11, that provides a window into God’s view of the unevangelised: “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (NLT).  What does it mean that God has placed eternity into a person’s heart (inner being)?

Don Richardson wrote a provocative non-fiction book back in 1981, Eternity in their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures throughout the World.[10] He examined cultures and histories from around the world and presented testimonies of missionaries who went into pagan cultures.  This book showed how God had been active amongst unreached, unevangelised people groups.

Richardson provided evidence of God’s action amongst these unreached peoples, pointing towards redemption.  Many of these people had been prepared for the Gospel’s entrance.  This book provides remarkable evidence for people like me who grieve over the answer to this question: “What about those who have never heard the Gospel, whether that be in the Old Testament era, or after Christ?”

Current world population is 6.35 billion people as I type in August 2005.[11] The population of unreached people groups is about 2.5 billion people.  This means that 39.4% of the world’s population groups have not been reached with the Gospel of Christ.[12]

In his first chapter, Richardson gives the story behind the altar “to the unknown god” that the apostle Paul found when he went to the Areopagus in Athens, told in Acts 17:23.  Richardson’s chapter also tells the stories of other biblical examples of God’s evidence and action amongst pagans (Canaanites, Melchizedek – see Hebrews 7, Genesis 14, Psalm 110).

The story is told of the Incas and their renewal under Pachacutec,  the builder of the mountain fortress Machu Picchu, who believed in a triune creator.  Pachacutec (aka Pachacuti) attempted to direct his people to the worship of Viracocha, the creator.  However, much of his time was spent in building temples to Inti, the Inca sun god.  This happened before his renewal.  Unfortunately he limited the worship of Viracocha (God) to the upper classes.  Nevertheless, there was evidence among unbelievers of seeking after the worship of the creator God.

Richardson tells of the Santal people of India who had legends about being reconciled to Thakur Jiu, who was the “genuine God” in Santal.  It was not surprising that these people were enraptured with the Gospel message when it reach them through missionaries, Lars Skrefsrud and Hans Borrenson, in 1867.[13]
Now to a response.

C.  A reply to Frank

You raised a number of thought-provoking matters for me as a Christian believer.  I’ll only tackle one of your issues. You ask: “If god is all-knowing, all-merciful, all-good, and all-powerful (and I may have left out some “alls”), why does s/he permit some humans to live and die without an opportunity to be saved? Why is god’s word not universally available? . . .  many humans live and die without ever having heard of the Bible, Jesus Christ, or christianity. Are they saved anyway?”

It seems to me that you need to consider the following:

Your statement here assumes too much.  From a finite human perspective, your explanation seems as though it sinks the Christian ship, that God has not revealed himself to all human beings.  But when I check God’s view I find something quite different.   Take a look at the Book of Romans 1:18-20:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (ESV).

Based on God’s revelation of himself in the natural world, he states that we are “without excuse.”  I find this world replete with intelligent design, behind which is the Intelligent Designer.  When I look at the plan of my human eye, right down to the design of the universe, I am overwhelmed by the nature of the Intelligent Designer behind it.

I read in the January 1994 issue of National Geographic: “Several hundred billion spinning stars revolve around the center of the Milky Way galaxy.  Midway out its arms, stars—including our sun—move at about 500,000 miles per hour, taking 250 million years to make a single circuit.”[14] That is only one galaxy.  How many galaxies are there in the universe?  When I examine the enormity and design of the cosmos I see what God means.  This is light from God (about himself) from creation.  What have we done with it?

This all-loving, all-knowing magnificent Creator, Lord and Saviour of the universe has declared that on the basis of general revelation in the world around us, all people “are without excuse” before Him.   Neither you nor I writes the laws of the universe (we only discover them), but the God who made us declares without equivocation that all of us will face Him, but we will not be excused for not knowing God.  He’s the absolutely just God.  Of God, the Rock, it is stated,  “All his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4 ESV).
There will be no lawyers or judicial decisions that fake the evidence when we face Him.  On the basis of God’s evidence, we stand defenceless before Him.  What have all these human beings done with the light that God has already provided?

I want to pick up a point that I would like you to ponder.  You stated, “I am a Bright.  Specifically, I’m an atheist.”  For you to affirm a universal negative that God does not exist (atheism), you have to look behind every nook and cranny on Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, etc., and under every leaf of the cane fields, avocado trees and macadamia nut trees, wild carrots and thistles in the yards, in my region, plus everywhere else in the universe – all at the same time.

I find atheism to be an absurd position.  You need the omniscience (all-knowledge) of God himself to be able to assert such a universal negative view.  I consider atheism to be illogical on these grounds.

I note that former British philosophical atheist, Antony Flew, has become a theist.  He told Christian philosopher & apologist, Gary Habermas, “I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that.  But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotlean God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence is now much stronger than it ever was before.”[15] The New York Times (16 April 2010) reported, “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87” (died 8 April 2010, Reading, England).

French atheistic novelist and philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, wrote: “The idea that a transcendent, creator God does not exist is fairly unique to this [20th] century.  If there is no infinite, personal, creator-God who transcends His creation then there is no infinite reference point which can give meaning to the particulars of life.  Man is alone, there is only the cosmos, and man’s consciousness of himself.”[16]

Sartre rejected the infinite reference point but Jesus claimed this infinite reference point as God.  When I consider the Intelligent Design in the universe, history, archaeology, Old Testament and New Testament prophecy, the manuscript evidence that affirms the integrity of the Scriptures, the logical consistency of the Christian world and life view, and the lives changed through an encounter with the living Christ, I have not been able to find a serious contender – and certainly not in atheism.

However, Jesus did say, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). 

Sounds to me, Frank, that you have chosen the gate that is wide to destruction.  To do that, you have suppressed the truth that God has revealed in creation. 

Thank you for considering these matters.

D.  Frank’s atheistic reply

How does an atheist respond to a theist like me who quoted Romans 1:18-20, showing that all human being “are without excuse” before God when it comes to knowledge of God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature” as these “have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made”?

Frank began his reply by telling that when he checked “god’s view,” he could interpret it many ways and that the many different religious beliefs confirm his view.  Please notice what he did.  Even though he quoted the Romans passage that I gave him, he did not deal with the content of this passage but used a customary diversionary tactic.

This is how I responded:

You have scuttled our prospects of having a rational conversation with your using logical fallacies.  Here you have erected a straw man by drawing a false picture of my argument.  Your use of the straw man here is enough to show me your attempt to get away from the exact content of my post. 

His response was primarily imposing his agenda of atheistic naturalism, with no possibility of supernatural intervention.  He spoke of other Christians and me as “CF denizens,” ie. Christian fundamentalist aliens.
At one point Frank wrote, “But I understand your basic point that I am over-assuming when I say that there are people who live their whole lives without being exposed to god.”

That’s not what I said at all.  My quoting from Romans ch. 1 stated clearly, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”  This applies to all people everywhere – including you, Frank.  This is your use of a fallacy again. [Frank referred to the remote tribesman who has no opportunity to hear of anything like Christianity.  He begged to differ with the biblical evidence that god’s existence is clearly apparent in the universe and is sufficient to alert any person of the existence of God.]

In speaking of the knowledge of God in creation, you stated: “Even if it’s true, you seem to be implying that mere recognition of some vaguely defined, ‘higher (supernatural) power’ is sufficient for salvation, as opposed to getting and embracing the christian message. Am I right on this?” 

Dead wrong, Frank!  This is not “mere recognition” of  “some vaguely defined, ‘higher (supernatural) power.’”  What God provides in evidence from creation means that you, me and everybody else in the world stands “without excuse” before the Creator and Sustainer of the world.  Does it provide eternal salvation?  No!  But it provides us with evidence to pursue God.

But what do you, Frank, and all other God-haters and God-rejectors do with this evidence?  Exactly as Romans 1 states: “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  I’m not pointing the finger only at you (I was like it at one time) but it is a tragedy that from God’s view, you are responsible for your own blindness to God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature.”  How?  By your suppressing God’s truth through your unrighteous living.  That’s stating it as God sees it.  I hope you realise what you are doing before it is too late. 

If I used Frank’s tactics in my Rostrum debating club, my supervisors would immediately cry, ‘Foul’, and my results would be zilch!

Peter, another Bright atheist, gave his reasons for why Frank responded as he did.  Speaking for myself, although he assumed Frank and other Brights would agree, he considers the Bible as a set of man-made stories being used to explain various aspects of a growing religion. “It is riddled with flaws and inaccuracies, and is not seen to be in any way divinely inspired. To quote from the bible to argue the point that God has revealed himself to all human beings immediately stops rational discussion from occurring.”

E.  A learning experience

1. I consider that there is an urgent need for apologetics to return to its place in biblical teaching and equipping in the local church.  The young of today are the Internet generation.  If they visit chat rooms and www forums, they will encounter agnostics, sceptics and hard-headed atheists.  Frank was of the latter category.    My response to Peter was: “You have demonstrated to me again how your position is dogmatically bigoted against evidence. Unless the evidence is your kind of evidence, you won’t listen to me.”

2. Frank was so committed to his atheistic worldview that he would not consider anything outside his naturalistic framework.  Don’t be conned by the idea that Christian evangelicals are the only ones who are fixed in their agendas.  I found as much one-eyed intolerance to beliefs among these atheists as I have ever found among evangelicals committed to the inerrancy of Scripture.  I am one of the latter group.

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

C. S. Lewis, courtesy Wikipedia

3. Should we persist with defending the faith among hard-headed atheists like Frank who do not want to be evangelised but claim that they desire to find out how Christians think?  The temptation is that we should not “cast our pearls before swine.”  But I am reminded of C. S. Lewis, the once hard-headed atheist before he submitted to Christ.  Lewis later wrote: “If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all.”[17]

4. When the rules of debate are rigged, it’s very difficult to have a rational conversation.  Frank did this through his use of logical fallacies.[18] Too many Christians I know use this kind of methodology as well.  A logical fallacy is used when someone arrives at an incorrect conclusion through faulty reasoning.  However, some instructors in debating recommend the use of logical fallacies as a technique of debate (see “Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate”).[19]

It is virtually impossible to have a reasonable discussion when somebody engages in techniques such as attacking the character of a person (ad hominem), creating a version of my story that is not correct (straw man, which Frank used).  Frank also used a stacking the deck fallacy, which means that he ignored evidence that disproved his point and only used examples supporting his anti-supernaturalism.  How did he do this?  He refused to consider the Scriptures because he contended that they were “full of contradictions and errors.”  I could not have a continuing conversation when he refused to consider all of the evidence for Christianity.  Imagine being trained to be criminal lawyer but you were refused access to knowledge of the criminal code!

5. This encounter confirmed my understanding of the unflinching bigotry of hard-headed atheism.  This is not the place for new Christians to be when they are not grounded in the faith, but, sadly, too many other Christians have faith without deep roots in the Scripture and are ill prepared for apologetic encounters.

6. Those who are engaged in this kind of apologetic ministry desperately need to have prayer intercessors.  If God could change the heart of a C. S. Lewis, he can do it again with the Franks and Peters from the atheistic establishment.
If God places it on your heart to be engaged in evangelistic discussions with non-Christians, whether they be Buddhist, Mormon, Muslim, secularist or atheist, Dean Halverson’s recommendations are on target:

blue-satin-arrow-small Be patient;
blue-satin-arrow-smallRead widely in the religion or worldview on which you are focusing, and
blue-satin-arrow-smallPray fervently.[20]


One of the leading defenders of the faith in the world today, William Lane Craig, provides this analysis:

Williamlanecraig.jpg

William Lane Craig, Apologist

Courtesy Wikipedia

“Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral.  As Christians, their minds are going to waste.  One result of this is an immature, superficial faith.…  As I speak in churches around the country  [USA], I continually meet parents whose children have left the faith  because there was no one in the church to answer their questions.  For the sake of our youth, we desperately need informed parents who are equipped to wrestle with the issues at an intellectual level.”  He quotes J. Gresham Machen of an earlier generation: “The church is perishing today through the lack of thinking, not through an excess of it.”[21]

 

The New York Times (16 April 2010) reported, “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87” (died 8 April 2010, Reading, England).

Bibliography

John Blanchard 2000, Does God Believe in Atheists?  Evangelical Press, Darlington, England.

E. E. Cairns 1981. Christianity through the Centuries. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

William Lane Craig 1994, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois

Norman L. Geisler 1999, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Wayne Grudem 1994, Systematic Theology, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England.

H. C. Leupold 1942, Exposition of Genesis, vol. 1, Evangelical Press, London.

D. Richardson 1981, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, Regal Books, Ventura, Calif.

Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (gen. eds.) 2003, Is Your Church Ready?  Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (gen. eds.), 2003, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Notes:

3. John Blanchard (2000:18).
4. Adherents.com 2005, “Major Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents,” available from:  http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html#Nonreligious.
5. Center for the Study of Global Christianity, available from: http://www.globalchristianity.org/resources.htm.
6. Cairns (1981:105).
7. H. C. Leupold (1942:128).
8. Ibid.
9. Wayne Grudem (1994:403).
10. D. Richardson (1981).
11. See a world population meter at: http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop.
12. Joshua Project 2005, available from: http://www.joshuaproject.net/index.php.
13. Berkana 2003, “Review: Eternity in their Hearts, by Don Richardson”, available from: “Christdot” at: http://christdot.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1715.
14. “Guide to the Milky Way,” p. 17.
15. G. Habermas  & A. Flew 2005, “My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism: An Exclusive Interview with Former British Atheist Professor Antony Flew,” published in Philosophia Christi, Journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Winter 2005, available at: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf.
16. J. P. Sartre n.d., cited in “CIM Briefing Papers: Existentialism”, available from:
http://www.fni.com/cim/briefing/exist.html.
17. C. S. Lewis, excerpted from his essay “Man or Rabbit”, from God In The Dock, cited in “The Skeptic’s Prayer,” available from:  http://shakinandshinin.org/TheSkepticsPrayer.html#(c).
18. For a description of logical fallacies, see, “A list of fallacious arguments,” available from: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#straw.
19. Available from: http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html#Introduction.
20. Dean C. Halverson, “Issues and Approaches in Working with Internationals,” in Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler (2003:146-147).
21. William Lane Craig (1994:xi-xv).

All people are without excuse.

To God Be the Glory!

 

Copyright (c) 2005 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.

6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small


Famous Atheist Now Believes in God

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

By Spencer D Gear

One of the World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, based on Scientific Evidence [1]

Click to View

www.bible.ca

Is it possible that a leading atheist, one who has opposed God in active atheism for most of his adult life, could now believe in God?That’s the provocative story that was reported in New York on December 9, 2004.I’m referring to British professor of philosopher, Antony Flew, who has “changed his mind,” after more than 50 years of atheism.Christianity Today considers that he is “Thinking Straighter.” [2]An Associated Press article stated that Flew “now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video” [3]. Flew was the son of a Methodist minister and he became an atheist at age 15.

Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Dr. Gary Habermas, has interviewed Flew about his change of mind, “Atheist Becomes Theist.”At the time of this interview, Flew was aged 81 and said that “I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that. But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before” but he admitted that his theism was like the Deism of Mr. Jefferson who drafted the American Declaration of Independence.However, when Flew was asked by Habermas whether he was “open” to the “notion of theistic revelation,” his response was: ” I am open to it, but not enthusiastic about potential revelation from God. On the positive side, for example, I am very much impressed with physicist Gerald Schroederâ’s comments on Genesis 1. [4] That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation. [5]

Flew is getting back to an intelligent first cause of the universe as explanations for the universe’s origination and the complexity of its nature.At this point, Associated Press reported that Flew’s Deistic God was “not actively involved in people’s lives” and was like that of Thomas Jefferson.He explained further in a telephone interview with Associated Press, “I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.” [6]

During his teaching career at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading universities in the UK, Flew has claimed that there was a lack of evidence for the existence of God. Why this change?”There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife,” was how Associated Press expressed it.

Back in 1950, Flew wrote, “Theology and Falsification,” which was based on a paper he presented in 1949 to a weekly Oxford University religious forum that was led by C. S. Lewis, the Socratic Club.

Flew told James Beverley that he

detests any notion that a loving God would send any of his creatures to eternal flames. He cannot fathom how intelligent Christians can believe this doctrine. He even said in his debate with Terry Miethe that he has entertained the thought that the Creator should punish, though not endlessly, only those who defend the notion of eternal torment. On this matter, Flew is willing to entertain fresh approaches to divine justice. In fact, he had just obtained Lewis’s book The Great Divorce in order to assess Lewis’s unique interpretation on the topic of judgment [7].

A hint at Flew’s turn around was indicated in the August-September issue of the British, Philosophy Now, magazine when he stated that “it has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”In the video about which Associated Press reported, Flew pointed to the biologists’ examination of DNA, which “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved.” The video is titled, “Has Science Discovered God?”[8].

What process was involved in causing Antony Flew to move towards a belief in a God rather than in philosophical atheism?He told Dr. Benjamin Wiker in “An Exclusive Flew Interview, that

there were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself which is far more complex than the physical Universe can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code.

What does Flew think of Richard Dawkins’ promotion of atheism?He explained to Wiker:

The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins’ comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.” If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.

James Beverley asked Flew about the impact of other scholars on him and particularly, “Who amazes you the most of the defenders of Christian theism?”He replied,

I would have to put Alvin Plantinga pretty high,” and he also complimented Miethe, Moreland, and Craig for their philosophical skills. He regards Richard Swinburne, the Oxford philosophy of religion professor, as the leading figure in the United Kingdom. “There is really no competition to him.” He said that Habermas has made “the most impressive case for Christian theism on the basis of New Testament writings” [9].

Some detractors

It should not be surprising that there are some opponents to Flew’s u-turn.Richard Carrier of The Secular Web accuses Flew of”willfully sloppy scholarship” [10].

The secular web stories are denying this story is true. See: In 2001, Antony Flew denied this change of mind, “Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still an Atheist!” In 2004, “Antony Flew Considers God…Sort Of“.

Conclusion

The exclusive interview between Dr. Antony Flew and Dr. Gary Habermas in 2004 should lay to rest the view that Antony Flew has not changed his mind. Read it in My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism, in which he states that “the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries.”

Flew has stated his case for theism in his 2007 book, There Is a God. This is not the God of Christian revelation, but Flew states that he is “open” to such evidence. The New York Times (16 April 2010) reported, “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87” (died 8 April 2010, Reading, England).

Notes:

1.I originally located this Associated Press story at ABC News (USA) at: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=315976 [cited 22 May 2005].It is no longer available online, but I located it at MSNBC: World News, “There is a God, leading atheist concludes: Philosopher says scientific evidence changed his mind,” at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6688917/ [cited 13 November 2007].

2.James A. Beverley 2007, “Thinking Straighter: Why the world’s most famous atheist now believes in God,” Christianity Today, 12th November [Online], available from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/april/29.80.html [cited 13 November 2007].

3.See Note 1.

4.Gerald L. Schroeder 1998, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, Broadway Books, New York.

5.Gary R. Habermas interviewed Antony Flew 2004, “Atheist Becomes Theist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew,” Philosophia Christia, the Journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Winter [Online], available from: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/ (cited 13 November 2007).

6.See Note 1.

7.See Note 2.

8.See Note 1.

9.See Note 2.

10.See Note 2.

11. See Note 2.

Flew admits that “God could, in principle, puncture his bias against the supernatural” [11]

Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.

Flower15Flower15Flower15Flower15Flower15Flower15