Good And Evil And A Moral Law

On the atheist FB group page where I’m a member, the question came up about the existence of evil pointing to the existence of a moral law and therefore a Moral Lawgiver. The discussion stemmed from something Ravi Zacharias said in response to a question from a student.

Not surprisingly atheists in the group quickly dismissed the notion on the grounds of relativism—good and evil are just relative, therefore there is no fixed standard, no actual absolute, no “law.” Hence, no Lawgiver.

I don’t think I realized just how insidious relativism is until I read those comments. Sure, I knew that the denial of the absolute allowed people to live a life that freed them from those things they simply didn’t want to do. So “what’s right for you, might not be right for me” was born. And a dear friend could say she was divorcing her husband because she knew God wanted her to be happy—clearly His idea about marriage wasn’t working for her. Therefore, it must not actually be for her.

Now I see that line of thinking is only the tip of the relativism iceberg. The atheists who claimed the idea were using it against God. Humans decide what’s good and “bad.” (They didn’t even want to use the word “evil.”) So if something causes pain, that’s bad. If something makes you feel good, that’s good.

How ironic that these same atheists proclaim over and over that Christians depend on our feelings. Can they not see that the belief in absolutes is not a dependence on feelings but on revelation? Relativism, on the other hand, depends completely on what you’re feeling like today. You feel like a man inside? Then you’re a man. You’re feeling like pornography is free speech? Then it’s free speech, not perversion.

One of the evidences of the advance of relativism is the old TV program MASH. On that show, set during the Korean War (and produced during the Vietnam War), one soldier who did not want to be in the military but who had been drafted, tried to get out by claiming a Section 8: “Section 8 is a category of discharge from the United States military, used for a service member judged mentally unfit for service.”

How did this character attempt to give evidence that he was mentally unfit for service? By wearing dresses. Because back then, when the show was made, men were understood to be not thinking correctly if they wanted to dress like women.

Today men can not only dress like women, they can become women. A little surgery, a little hormone therapy, a little make-up and hair styling, a new wardrobe, and wallah. Based on what? Feelings. Not facts. Not absolutes. Not science.

Now I understand where this kind of relativism leads. It’s a sad departure from reality because those who hold to it want to get away from a moral standard and the obvious conclusion that if we have a moral standard, we must have Someone who gives that moral standard.

Relativism is a philosophy that allows for escape from God.

What is baffling to me is that relativism is so paper thin, anyone ought to be able to see through it.

Torture a child, and universal cries for justice will be heard. Who sides with a child abuser? I know of no one. Where does that clear idea—to hurt a child is wrong—come from?

One atheist said it’s empathy. That’s similar to the pain answer. But do we put doctors in jail for inflicting pain when they give shots? Of course not. A little pain is necessary to vaccinate a child from an illness that could disable them. How do we differentiate between the “good” pain and the “bad” pain? Not via empathy. Empathy would say, you’re hurting that child when you give them vaccines, so you should just stop.

An understanding of what’s good, however, undermines that concept and says, there’s a higher good than pain avoidance at stake.

Of course we do not always agree on what’s good and what’s evil. Ask conservatives politically and they will likely tell you that President Obama was not good. Ask liberals politically and they will likely tell you that President Trump is not good. Both groups have a sense that there is a good.

Where does that idea come from?

Humans also clearly believe in evil. Wars and mass shootings and terrorist attacks are considered tragic and wrong. Why?

Because they are. They do not square with what we know, innately, to be right. A mother isn’t supposed to drown her children. A human is not supposed to kill and eat other humans. No one has to teach us these things. The standard of morality, of good and evil, exists because God exists. He’s stamped a love of justice on our hearts.

Evil, then, is actually a problem for those who do not believe in God. They have no explanation for the existence of a moral law, one that people live by even though they try to do away with it by adopting a flimsy philosophy like relativism.

Published in: on January 30, 2018 at 6:03 pm  Comments (33)  
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Kind And Merciful Or Harsh And Cruel?

Mural_painting_celebrating_Pol_PotOne of my favorite blogs is InsanityBytes. Recently a commenter there said he was “appalled” at “the deity himself.”

This is typical of those who claim God doesn’t exist. I’m not sure why they find it necessary to declare God to be “destructive” even as they say He doesn’t exist.

However, that tactic is true to the leading atheists of the day, men like Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens who referred to God as a tyrant.

Since these atheists don’t believe there is any evidence that God exists, I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to refute the appalling, destructive, tyrant accusations. But perhaps someone uncertain about what they believe might be alerted to the error of this thinking.

As an aside, I also want to mention that “no evidence that God exists” argument is circular in nature. One line of thinking goes like this. Christians can’t prove that God even exists. They say that Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh, but all they have to support that idea is His followers. They say His resurrection from the dead is evidence of His divinity, but nobody has been raised from the dead before, so why should we believe this unrepeatable event? And again, documentation. Evidence. Followers don’t count. So called eyewitnesses don’t count. Changed lives don’t count. In fact, everything you present as evidence doesn’t count because it presupposes the supernatural. And the supernatural doesn’t exist.

So, in reality the atheist has formed his position by saying, God doesn’t exist because the supernatural doesn’t exist.

Further, he dismisses one time events such as the virgin birth and Christ’s resurrection from the dead because they are impossible by natural law. Christians agree. Yes, those things are impossible naturally, but God can do the impossible. The atheist is left with only one option: deny that these miraculous events took place. Deny the book that records them. Mock and belittle people that believe them.

Back in February 2012, I wrote a response to those who leveled accusations against God that He is actually malevolent instead of good and kind and merciful. I thought it might be worth posting revised and an edited version of it today.

One argument against the “a good God wouldn’t do that” accusation leveled by atheists and some progressives against the God of the Bible is that God isn’t guilty of condoning sinful acts or thoughts or wishes simply because those appear in the Bible.

But what about the acts God not only condones but orders which seem unduly harsh, even cruel? Most often those making this accusation have in mind something like God’s command to Saul to wipe out all the Amalekites.

For someone who thinks suicide bombers or Jeffrey Dahmer or Pol Pot should not face judgment for their acts against their fellow man, I have no answer. For those who believe it’s right to hold people accountable for the harm they perpetrate, then it’s simply a matter of looking at history to understand God’s command.

The Amalekites were the terrorists of the day—a people who harassed Israel on their way out of Egypt, sniping at the stragglers who were “faint and weary.” We can surmise the people under attack, those at the back of the company, would be the elderly, the sick, and perhaps the young. For this act, which was also connected to their dismissal of God’s authority over them (see Deut. 25:18-19), they were judged.

They had some two hundred years to repent, make amends with Israel, turn to God and forsake their idols, before God brought judgment. In fact God showed great restraint and patience in dealing with them. But they did not turn from their wicked ways, so they received God’s judgment.

There are two primary reasons God gives for judging a people: 1) they are oppressing others; 2) they have taken a stand against Him.

Psalm 146:7-9 illustrates the former.

[God] executes justice for the oppressed;
[God] gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free.
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous;
The LORD protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

Clearly God is for the oppressed, which means He stands against the oppressor. For this, people today judge Him. In part it’s in ignorance, but it’s also an assumption–Man is good, so these ancient peoples were innocent victims of a God wanting to wipe them out.

They were not innocent.

Of course, none of us is innocent. None of us deserves to live, and in fact we won’t keep living. We will pay with our lives for the guilt that clings to us. Apart from God’s mercy, we will also pay with our souls. (But thanks be to God who sent His Son to rescue us).

Which brings up the second reason God judges people: He repays those who hate Him (see Deut. 7:10). Their hatred is most often shown in their idol worship, but also in their treatment of other people—orphans, widows, strangers on one hand and God’s people on the other.

Interestingly, God most often gives those who are against Him what they want. He lets them experience the consequences of their own actions:

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head (Ps. 7:14-16a, English Standard Version – emphasis added)

The bottom line, I believe, is this: those who hate God can’t accept the fact that He is their judge. They don’t want a judge, any judge, but particularly one who is righteous, as the Bible reveals God to be. See the following, for example:

  • “God is a righteous judge” – Psalm 7:11a
  • “In righteousness He judges and wages war” – Rev. 19:11b
  • “[Christ] kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” – 1 Peter 2:23b
  • “For I, the LORD, love justice . . . and I will faithfully give them their recompense” – Isaiah 61:8a

Those of us who accept God as the one who rightly and righteously judges all He has made, trust His judgment.

Of course, God’s judgment gets muddled with pain and suffering. Suffice it to say for the sake of this discussion, that not all pain, suffering, and death is a particular judgment handed down by God. Job’s children, for example, didn’t die as a result of God’s judgment.

So the question, is God kind and merciful or harsh and cruel, hinges upon the understanding of Him as a just judge. Someone being oppressed who He rescues, someone lost who He finds, sees Him clearly as abundantly kind and merciful.

Published in: on January 5, 2018 at 6:09 pm  Comments (9)  
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God Incarnate


“And I will put enmity
Between you [the serpent] and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev. 12:9)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus, not just because Christmas is approaching, though there is that, but also because on the Facebook atheist/theist group I visit from time to time, something came up about pretend Santa and “pretend Jesus.”

Jesus is not pretend, though it’s become more and more popular for atheists to say He wasn’t. However, there’s a great deal of scholarship that makes this fact clear—more even than I realized. If you’d like some specifics on that, listen to Lee Strobel and J. Warner Wallace discuss the subject.

But the fact that Jesus lived doesn’t of itself mean that everything else Christians believe, is true. The central point of the Good News is that Jesus, God’s Son, is the Seed God referred to in Genesis, Who will bruise the head of Satan. He did that by taking the form of sinful man, though He Himself knew no sin, and by bearing the punishment—death—which humankind earned. In the perfect triumphal twist, He rose from the dead, and will return at some unknown future time to claim His rightful throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

So. A lot going on as far as what Christians believe about Jesus. Was He a real person? Yes. Is He the Son of God? The Gospels say He is and the rest of Scripture confirms it, but they also say He IS God.

Both facts are true.

So is the fact that Jesus wasn’t pretending to be a man. He actually was a man. He ate and drank, cried, got tired, slept, wept, and ultimately died.

So God, but also man.

As if those claims weren’t hard enough of themselves, throw in the fact that Jesus’s mother was a virgin at the time she birthed Him.

Anyone who dismisses the supernatural must freak out at Christmas time because of all the outside-the-box facts about Jesus. Add in the angelic announcements—to Mary that she was going to have a baby, to Joseph that he should still take Mary as his wife, even though she was pregnant, to the shepherds that the Messiah was born that very day—and the star that served as a heavenly sign declaring the birth of a King in Judea, and there’s a lot of supernatural activity connected to the birth of Jesus.

The thing that seems so obvious but so overlooked is that all these claims could so easily have been debunked if they weren’t true. Take pregnant Mary, for example. If some guy had slept with her, how hard would it have been to disprove the idea that she was a virgin.

But say he had personal reasons for keeping his indiscretion to himself, what about the shepherds and their claim to have seen angels? How else could their decision to leave their flocks be explained? Or that they “just happened” upon a baby in a manger, as they’d been told?

What about their story made people believe them? And if they didn’t believe the lowly shepherds, why wouldn’t they come forward and expose this band of frauds? If someone else made up the story about them, why didn’t they stand up and clear their name?

Well, of course, none of this was written down until years after the fact, someone could argue. But without doubt the account of Jesus’s birth was not new information when the gospels came into being. Luke, for example, who wrote one of the two birth narratives said he investigated carefully in order to compile an account “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses” (Luke 1:2)

The implication is that people who knew what happened were still talking about what they’d seen and heard at the time of Luke’s investigation.

The more I dialogue with people who reject God and Jesus and the Bible, the more I realize that what we believe is dependent upon who we trust. Atheists trust “the scientists” and Christians trust the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and the people who have also come to faith in Christ.

The odd thing is, Christians don’t dismiss science as not true. In fact, many Christians played significant roles in advancing our scientific understanding. We trust science, but we trust the Bible more.

Atheists, on the other hand, have no place in their understanding for the supernatural. They don’t believe it exists because it’s beyond their scope of study. They’ll all believe in DNA and genome sequencing and black holes and the god particle, however. Not because they’ve seen any of those things but because someone else they trust says those exist and are real.

I’ve had discussions with atheists on line before, who say, If God really exists, why doesn’t He simply show Himself—end of discussion. But the fact is, He has shown Himself. And the very people He came to, did not believe Him. In fact they tried more than once to kill Him because He claimed to be God.

I have to admit, I’m baffled by unbelief. Christianity makes sense of so much. The one problem, the only real problem, is whether or not God exists as He says He does. The only way God can “prove Himself” is by revealing Himself. He has done so in as many ways as possible, culminating in His incarnation—He took on flesh to live among us that we might know Him.

Christmas provides we who believe in God Come Down the opportunity to explain what all the ruckus about the birth of a Jewish baby over 2000 years ago is all about.

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 7:23 pm  Comments Off on God Incarnate  
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Atheism’s Unanswerable Question

Evolution_tree_of_lifeChristianity and atheism, which of necessity requires belief in evolution, are two contrasting worldviews, not only because they have opposing views about God but also because they have opposing views about humankind. While the focus of discussions and debates often concentrates on the existence of God, it is the view of humankind that leaves atheists with an unanswerable question.

There are two specific ways that Christians and atheists view humankind differently. First, Christians believe that humans are unique from animals because we have an eternal soul. Atheists believe instead in the “common descent” principle:

In evolutionary biology, a group of organisms have common descent if they have a common ancestor. “There is strong quantitative support, by a formal test”[1] for the theory that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor.[2]

Charles Darwin proposed the theory of universal common descent through an evolutionary process in On the Origin of Species, saying, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one”.[3]

Second, Christians believe humans, though created in God’s image, have a fallen, or sinful, nature passed down through Adam who turned his back on God when he intentionally disobeyed Him. The only way to change society is to point individuals to Jesus Christ who provides a way of escape from sin, guilt, the law, and death.

Atheists, on the other hand, believe humans are morally neutral at worst and might even be considered “good” by virtue of the fact that what exists has survived.

Right and wrong, good and evil, then, are not existent apart from the perception of a group or community. Hence, homosexuality is wrong until the group determines it is right.

Infants come into the world as blank slates or even as good slates and only turn toward evil if they are influenced by societal patterns (racism, for example) or errant views (such as religion). The way to change society is simply to re-educate people.

One atheist puts it this way:

So if we are determined, then how do we define evil? If our minds come from our brains, and our brain circuitry is out of our control, then is anyone responsible for anything – no matter how courageous, no matter how innovative, no matter how good or evil, that the person is? (“An atheist’s view of evil”)

Another atheist discussing evil concludes with this:

For atheists, a better explanation for the presence of evil in the world is that God does not exist. (“Atheism”).

A number of others discuss evil only as an argument against the existence of God. But here’s the question that atheists can’t seem to answer: where did evil come from? If life has a common descent, if we’re born with no natural bent toward evil, what injected evil into the equation?

In reality, the atheist scenario is one that would seem to result in utopia: humans, evolved from a common and not evil descent, growing toward their full potential without any negative force to intercede.

Except for society. Which teaches gender differences and racism and encourages belief in mythical gods which motivate people groups to hate.

But society is nothing more than people interacting with one another. So how and why did humans start acting in hateful ways toward people who were different from them? Why did the strong decide to take from the weak instead of using their strength for the greater good?

In other words, where did evil come from?

This is the atheist’s unanswerable question.

As I mentioned, a number of professing atheists lay evil at the feet of God, then declare that its existence proves He couldn’t possibly exist. That he doesn’t eradicate evil shows either that he’s too weak to do so (and therefore, not God) or too evil himself or too undiscerning to know evil from good (and therefore not God).

The argument, of course, ignores what God Himself has to say about evil and its existence. But more so, it offers no alternative, no explanation for the virulent presence of evil in the world.

In fact, some atheists deny the existence of evil:

Atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim that evil doesn’t actually exist. In his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life Dawkins writes: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (David Robinson, “The problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheists than Christians,” Christianity Today)

Of course such a view collapses the argument that evil disproves the existence of God, because something that does not exist cannot itself be used to disprove anything. So either evil exists, or it doesn’t. And if it exists, but there is no God, then where did it come from? How did it come to be included in this mix of materialism?

Actually the atheist I quoted above, was on the right track. Evil comes from the absence of God. He does exist, but He doesn’t force Himself on our lives. Humankind, having chosen to leave God out, now experience the world with the absence-of-God component a reality.

The People Who Can’t Smell–A Re-post

1417178_yellow_roseTonight I’m re-posting a story (with some revision) which I wrote a few years ago here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. It seems appropriate as a follow-up to yesterday’s article, “God Is Not Benevolent.”

– – – – –

Once upon a time in a country far, far away, tucked into an isolated valley, there lived the Tsiehtas, a group of people who celebrating their four senses. They could see and hear and feel and taste, but when it came to smell . . . well, they regarded such a thing as a fantasy.

One day a visitor from neighboring Htiaf arrived in the valley. He admired the quaint cottages and well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens. But when he stopped beside a rose bush and pressed his nose to a blossom, a smile came over his face.

“This is the most fragrant flower I’ve ever found,” he said. “You have a real treasure in your valley.”

The Tsiehtas looked at the visitor suspiciously. “No offense, sir,” said the lord high counselor, “but there is no such thing as ‘fragrant.’ Certainly we appreciate the beauty of the blossoms, and for that reason we treasure our roses.”

“No fragrance? Of course there’s a fragrance. A sweet, rich scent that lingers even after I move to another part of the garden.”

“Ha-ha! You have a rich imagination … unless you are trying to intentionally propagate deception.”

A crowd begin to gather.

The visitor raised his voice. “Please believe me. I’m not making this up. The scent is so strong it overpowers that of the newly cut grass.”

“You think grass has a scent, too?” the lord high counselor said.

The crowd laughed, but one small boy dropped to his knees and buried his face in the grass. “I do think I smell something,” came his muffled voice.

“Nonsense and fairy tales. We have no evidence that ‘scent’ exists,” said the lord high counselor. “Show me this fragrance you speak of.”

“How can I show you that which is invisible?”

“And how can we believe in something without any proof?”

“I’m your proof! And so is my young friend here.” The visitor patted the little boy’s shoulder. “The fact that we can smell these scents is evidence they exist.”

“Hardly. Another visitor might arrive tomorrow and tell us the sun smells disgusting. Should we believe him, too?”

The visitor turned toward the youth on his knees in the grass. “What about this boy, one of your own?”

“You said yourself–he’s a boy. He’ll outgrow his fantasy like the rest of us did.”

“Are you saying you used to believe you could smell?”

“Ha-ha, of course not. It was a childish phase. We soon learned to depend on our eyes and ears, our taste and touch. Those are the things that are reliable. Why this fragrance you speak of, you admit you don’t smell it consistently.”

“Of course not. Scent is carried on the wind and it might be stronger depending on where you’re standing.”

The lord high counselor frowned. “Now you’re just making things up. You have no proof, no facts, just a myth you’re trying to foist on the rest of us. I think it’s time you leave.”

Sadly the visitor from Htiaf turned away. “How can I convince the Tsiehtas scent is real when they won’t believe what I’m telling them? What would it take to get their smell receptors working again?”

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm  Comments Off on The People Who Can’t Smell–A Re-post  
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Two Sides to Everything

Arguments have two sides (possibly more), or they wouldn’t be arguments. The thing about two sides is, they can’t both be right.

We understand this in competition. Two football teams battle it out in the Super Bowl, and only one will be crowned champion at the end of the game. Two speed skaters compete in the Olympics, and they won’t both win the gold medal. (In that instance, with numerous competitors, neither one of them may end up winning).

Why, then, with the love of sports so high, seemingly worldwide, is it so hard to grasp the concept that competing philosophies can’t both be right?

I look at my life, for example, and marvel at God’s goodness and grace that brought me to a place of belief in Jesus and His work at the cross that reconciled me to my Creator. An atheist undoubtedly would look at my life and say that cultural influences have convinced me of a theist myth, and I’m merely showing my ignorance to hold to it despite the void of scientific proof for God’s existence.

Two sides—God is good and gracious; or culture is determinative, and I am ignorant.

The two are mutually exclusive. Did God choose my cultural influences as part of His plan for me, or did my culture superstitiously manufacture God to explain the unknown, and I am refusing to graduate to the modern (or post-modern) era?

I see the truth and the atheist is blind, or the atheist sees the truth and I am in the dark.

I see the light and the atheist is a fool (the fool has said in his heart, there is no God), or the atheist is insightful.

Who’s to say?

I submit there is only One who knows for sure. God, who transcends the universe, is the only one in position to reveal Himself to Mankind. So did He?

The Bible says so. He chose a people group to show the nations what He was like, sent prophets with messages about His purpose and plans, sent His Son to the earth in the form of a Man, gave His inspired written revelation, put His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who are reconciled to Him. Does any other religion present such an unrelenting God, willing to go to such extents to reveal Himself to Mankind?

Despite all God has done, however, people today still demand a sign. If God would only make it clearer, if He’d only show Himself.

I wonder why these people think they would believe a new sign if they haven’t believed the ones they already have. 🙄

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 1:19 pm  Comments (5)  
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The People Who Couldn’t Smell – A Story

Once upon a time in a country far, far away, tucked into an isolated valley, there lived the Tsiehtas, a group of people with only four senses. They could see and hear and feel and taste, but they couldn’t smell.

One day a visitor from neighboring Htiaf arrived in the valley. He admired the quaint cottages and well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens. But when he stopped beside a rose bush and pressed his nose to a blossom, a smile came over his face.

“This is the most fragrant flower I’ve ever found,” he said. “You have a real treasure in your valley.”

The Tsiehtas looked at the visitor suspiciously. “No offense, sir,” said the lord high counselor, “but there is no such thing as ‘fragrant.’ Certainly we appreciate the beauty of the blossoms, and for that reason we treasure our roses.”

“No fragrance? Of course there’s a fragrance. A sweet, rich scent that lingers even after I move to another part of the garden.”

“Ha-ha! You have a rich imagination … unless you are trying to intentionally propagate deception.”

A crowd begin to gather.

The visitor raised his voice. “Please believe me. I’m not making this up. The scent is so strong it overpowers that of the newly cut grass.”

“You think grass has a scent, too?” the lord high counselor said.

The crowd laughed, but one small boy dropped to his knees and buried his face in the grass. “I do think I smell something,” came his muffled voice.

“Nonsense and fairy tales. We have no evidence that ‘scent’ exists,” said the lord high counselor. “Show me this fragrance you speak of.”

“How can I show you that which is invisible?”

“And how can we believe in something without any proof?”

“I’m your proof! And so is my young friend here.” The visitor patted the little boy’s shoulder. “The fact that we can smell these scents is evidence they exist.”

“Hardly. Another visitor might arrive tomorrow and tell us the sun smells disgusting. Should we believe him, too?”

“What about this boy, one of your own?”

“You said yourself, he’s a boy. He’ll grow out of his fantasy.”

Sadly the visitor from Htiaf turned away. “How can I convince the Tsiehtas the scent is real when they can’t smell? If only I could give then the sense they are lacking!”

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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Open Letter to an Atheist

I wrote a response to Matt who commented to my post about Science and the Bible but then, not knowing if Matt would ever return to A Christian Worldview of Fiction and read what I wrote, I decided to turn my thoughts into an open letter.

In Matt’s comment, he quoted a line from my post—But to get to that place, a person also has to discount God’s omnipotence—then states that all a person really has to do is start out from a neutral position and follow the evidence. In so doing, he claims, you will not find God. Now my response to his response. 😀

Hi, Matt,

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate lively discussion about important issues.

I have to disagree with your idea, however, that anyone comes to the discussion about God’s existence from a “neutral starting point.” There really is no such thing. A person comes to the issue first either believing that the supernatural exists or that it does not. If a person accepts a belief in the supernatural, then the idea that there has to be natural proof of it seems somewhat silly.

Be that as it may, there are natural evidences, if not proofs, but once again, anyone disbelieving in the supernatural will have some other answer for those evidences. It’s all based on your starting point.

I get that no atheist can understand what I’m saying in the last post. Since you don’t believe in God, the idea of an omnipotent God is beyond your imagination. In essence, as I’ve said before in so many words, it seems to me that atheists think too small and by doing so limit their understanding.

Let’s suppose for a minute that I said I don’t believe in gravity. How would you prove gravity’s existence to me? You’ve never seen it. I dare say any facts you give me would be nothing more than a repetition of what some scientist has written. Now let’s also suppose that I came up with a theory that explains why all things fall, thereby “debunking the myth” of gravity. Let’s suppose a growing number of people found my theory credible and began to teach it as The Way Things Are.

Would any of that negate the reality of gravity?

Please don’t come back and tell me that this analogy isn’t at all like people disbelieving God because you have physical, tangible evidence that gravity exists.

I also have physical, tangible evidence that God exists. As I said, atheists explain away this evidence and claim that their Other Theory explains what I attribute to God.

So you see, we are at an impasse, unless you or any other atheist is willing to think outside your box and entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe there is a supernatural realm, beyond any physical means of “proving” its existence.

What I find so intriguing, though, is the atheist belief that science is capable of exploring and revealing all there is to know, especially in light of the colossal errors in thinking down through the ages. That alone should give any reasoning person pause to at least consider the possibility that just maybe there is One greater than Man, Someone who transcends time and space, matter and energy.

In ants could talk, do you think they would acknowledge humans? Highly unlikely. Our relationship to God isn’t much different if you wrote it as an analogy: an ant is to man as man is to God. The difference is that God chooses to make Himself known to Man. Now it’s up to Man to look with an open mind at the possibility that God does in fact exist.

Saying, Prove his existence, is not an open mind. As I’ve already pointed out, any proof I offer will meet with skeptical explanation. That’s not at all the same as saying, maybe God does exist and I’m going to see if what He claims to say about Himself could actually be true.

Published in: on May 8, 2009 at 9:35 am  Comments (9)  
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Does God Exist? And What Does Sin Have To Do With It?

In Saturday’s debate, held at Biola University (and co-sponsored by the students and Biola’s Apologetics Department), between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig, I found it interesting that, as near as I recall, the only time the word sin (actually “sinner”) came up, our atheist proponent, Mr. Hitchens, used it (and even then, in my notes I may have used the word, not he, to indicate what he was describing).

I believe the occurrence came in his rebuttal. Essentially he said that the Christian belief is extraordinarily contradictory. On one hand we believe that we are so despicable and wayward, in fact that we are sinners in need of God to rescue us by dying a painful, bloody death. On the other hand, we believe that this same God designed this incredibly vast and complex universe over billions of years just for us. In short, that prideful position stands in stark contrast to the Man-as-worm view.

Well, bravo! He got it. There is a contradictory chasm between the two views. And if Mr. Hitchens would follow that train of thought, he’d get to the truth.

His primary focus, it would seem is that religion is bad for society. He points to things like the Crusades and the Inquisition, to religious terrorist bombers.

The truth is, sin is bad for society. And Satan, who Mr. Hitchens undoubtedly also does not believe in, masquerades as an angel of light. How Satan must love to see people fight and kill in the name of God, or in the name of their religion.

Did God initiate any of this? Someone might immediately point to places in the Old Testament where God’s people were commanded to annihilate other nations. But that’s missing the point. Sin was already in the world, and God didn’t bring it.

I’m sure the concept of sin is something Mr. Hitchens has a hard time with since he doesn’t want to be accountable to a higher being, since he doesn’t want a “celestial dictator” telling him what to do.

But there’s the problem. This blatant rejection of God’s authority is the problem, and the wars and brutality and inhumanity Mr. Hitchens cites are the symptoms, regardless if the people involved claim to be religious or not. I don’t care if a “Protestant” terrorist or an Islamic terrorist explodes a bomb. At the heart, both are sinners acting sinfully, in need of a Savior.

The Protestant can claim he knows the Savior, but his actions say otherwise. The societal “Does God exist?” debate is muddied by the existence of false religions and false teaching within Christianity.

During the cross examination phase of the formal debate, Mr. Hitchens asked Dr. Craig if he thought there were false religions. He said yes, Then Mr. Hitchens asked if he thought there were any false Christian denominations. Unfortunately, after answering yes, Dr. Craig hedged when asked which ones. He turned the question to doctrines he disagreed with. Instead he could have stood up for the truth and named heresy. If he didn’t want to say Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses or health-and-wealthers, he could have said something like any who add or detract from the inerrant, authoritative Word of God.

A missed opportunity. I think it’s time Christians separate from pseudo-Christians. Instead, because a social agenda seems to have dominated our goals in the last few decades, it seems like we are more apt to pander to anyone with morals like ours.

The fact is, morality doesn’t win us points in Heaven. We are no closer to reconciliation with God if we go to church or live a monogamous, heterosexual lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think having a relationship with God will effect our behavior and certainly our lifestyle. But we must not give the impression that abiding by a list of do‘s and don’t‘s increases our standing with God and makes us more acceptable.

I think that’s what the people who go to war in the name of religion are all about. They think their standing up for “the cause” earns them special consideration. It is false.

But because one form of religion is false, a thinking person should not conclude that God does not exist. Sin accounts for it. So does man’s pride. Which, by the way, seems to also be at the heart of anyone saying he wants to be emancipated from a “celestial dictatorship.”

Does God Exist? – The Debate Continues

In the debate held Saturday at Biola University between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist William Lane Craig dealing with the question Does God exist, Dr. Craig made what I thought was a brilliant debating tactic. In his opening statements he undercut what I surmise is Mr. Hitchens primary position. He said, and repeated from time to time throughout the evening, that the social implications of belief in God were not part of the discussion about His existence.

Mr. Hitchens, having written god Is Not Great and Is Christianity Good for the World?, certainly seems to have strong opinions about the social implications of belief in God.

I suspect that’s why much of the debate settled on the discussion of Dr. Craig’s moral arguments for the existence of God. Mr. Hitchens did begin, however, addressing some of Dr. Craig’s other arguments.

He said first that atheism, being a position against a particular belief, can’t disprove God. Rather, atheists believe there is no plausible or convincing evidence for the existence of God.

However, he also said that a test of a good argument is that it can be falsified. [Which seems to me to undercut his view that atheism can’t disprove God]. The idea of a designer starting the evolutionary process can’t be disproved and therefore isn’t a good argument.

Further, he said that even if you did believe in a designer, you can’t get from that position to belief in a being who cares. He then said that if there was a God, He was a poor designer because the universe takes up so much space and so much time passed before He made Himself known to save any humans at all. Such waste shows that if there was a designer, he did a poor job or just doesn’t care.

In fact, he said, all the evidence Christians point to for God can be explained without God. He stated that extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence, and he doesn’t find any.

Interestingly, I though Dr. Craig, in his rebuttal, had a great answer to the suggestion that God was ineffectual or wasteful. He said efficiency is only important to people with limited time or limited resources. God, having an infinite amount of both time and resources, wouldn’t have any need to meet some finite definition of efficient.

Back to Mr. Hitchens’ positions. I thought he came to the heart of his views toward the end of the debate, but let me back up. When he was introduced, the host said something about him being an advocate for freedom. I didn’t understand that until the end.

Mr. Hitchens, you see, when discussing the idea of objective morality said this:

It’s degrading to say that morality comes from on high. It’s servile. A kind of heavenly North Korea.

He added that he believed in free will, though he didn’t know why. But a bossy god would seem to reduce free will because then we would be accountable.

Then towards the end of the debate he said:

Emancipate yourself from a celestial dictatorship and you’ve taken the first step to being free.

At last, the notion that Mr. Hitchens was an advocate of freedom made sense. Above all else, it seems he wants his autonomy, even though he believes his life serves no lasting purpose and will end in oblivion. He would rather be the master of his fate and the captain of his own … well, I doubt that he believes he has a soul.

And how is he a master of his fate when he himself states that the end is oblivion?

So it is only in the here and now that he wants to be in charge. Apparently he wants to be the one to say what is right and what is wrong. For although he believes there is a right and a wrong, that any atheist can do any moral act that any Christian can do, he wants to be the one to say what is moral.

The acts of religious people down through history are clearly immoral, according to Mr. Hitchens. And the good that religious people have done can be duplicated by anyone without a belief in God. So what good is he if he existed?

Tomorrow more of my thoughts on Mr. Hitchens’ assertions, because obviously I’ve reported his views with some of my reactions woven in.

By the way, if you would like to read other detailed reports on the debate, I recommend Doug Geivett’s Blog and Wintery Knight Blog (this latter gives you a play-by-play account, next best thing to an actual transcript).

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