Atheist Arguments: God Is A Delusion


Years ago I watched a PBS Masterpiece Contemporary movie called God on Trial. In essence it was the story of a group of Jewish Auschwitz prisoners who decided to put God on trial because He broke His covenant with Israel by not protecting and blessing the nation as He said He would.

If it weren’t for the death-camp setting, the story would have seemed rather silly to me. Here were several rabbis, one who supposedly had memorized the Torah, discussing God, and yet they didn’t get the fact that Israel broke the covenant and God fulfilled the clear warnings He gave.

At one point, one of the men brought up that possibility, but the discussion turned to why “good Jews” were suffering for the sins of the “bad ones,” defined as those who no longer had faith in the Torah. As it turned out, they found God guilty, yet as the German guards hauled off the group designated for the gas chamber, the man who instigated the trial said something like, Now that God is guilty, what are we supposed to do? And the answer was, Pray and believe in the Torah. They then began quoting a passage from it, and continued to do so as they marched to their deaths.

Some time after seeing the PBS movie, I started reading a book called The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister and Joanna Cullicut McGrath (InterVarsity Press). Apparently atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion, which the McGrath book is clearly answering, is most critical of what I’ll call the Faith Factor.

God is a delusion—a “psychotic delinquent” invented by mad, deluded people. That’s the take-home message of The God Delusion. Although Dawkins does not offer a rigorous definition of a delusion, he clearly means a belief that is not grounded in evidence—or, worse, that flies in the face of the evidence.

Dawkins would seem to be describing a “faith” such the Jews of Auschwitz had, as depicted in God On Trial.

The McGraths make an essential point:

Dawkins is right [about this point]—beliefs are critical. We base our lives on them; they shape our decisions about the most fundamental things. 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 rearranged. 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 naive enough to think that we don’t have any in the first place. But who, I wonder, is really deluded about God?

Well, I already know the answer, because I read the Book—the one written by the All-Knowing Creator God. Anyone who puts God on trial and finds Him guilty, or absent, or dead is deluded. I could have said, anyone who puts God on trial is deluded. The idea that we can judge God shows our delusion.

How much worse, when those who judge God and find Him wanting, then turn around and profess faith in Him or in His Word. It is the biggest delusion of all. This “belief despite the evidence” position is not unique to the Jews of the movie. I’ve had some contact with individuals who identify as progressive Christians or agnostic Christians, and I can’t help but wonder why they cling to this delusion. They say straight out, they don’t believe in the Bible. One person said he thought Jesus was a sinner. Others say we simply can’t know, but they believe anyway.

Sadly, these positions give weight to the atheist arguments about Christianity and faith. But they are not representative of Christianity.

From the beginning, our beliefs were grounded by the early Church fathers in the revealed word of God. Of course many of those same people had the advantage of having walked and talked with Jesus and of seeing Him alive after His resurrection. They experienced the confirming “signs and wonders” and the “various miracles” and “gifts of the Holy Spirit” the writer to the Hebrews mentioned in his letter.

No, the thought that Christianity was built on a delusion was a false idea countered by the New Testament writers from the start, and the idea that God Himself was a delusion was never something they considered (or didn’t find credible enough to address). I come back to my earlier statement, reworded: only those who think they are worthy to judge God are delusional.

Much of this article is a revised version of one that appeared here in November, 2008.

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Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 5:19 pm  Comments (22)  
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The Atheist Box


In the section I read today of The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister and Joanna Cullicut McGrath ( InterVarsity Press), the authors referred to something like a no-God box atheists put themselves in. It resonated with me because of a discussion I had with an atheist over at Spec Faith some months ago. At one point during the discussion, it dawned on me how limited is an atheist who believes that all we can know as truth must be discovered by the scientific method.

Essentially, an atheist who rules out the metaphysical has narrowed the options of what he will explore. If there is only the natural, then there can be no supernatural explanations of the things we don’t understand.

I’m reading John Olson’s Shade right now in preparation for next week’s CSFF blog tour, and the protagonist (one of them) came up against this very position. There can be no supernatural explanations, so when someone experiences something inexplicable, the only conclusion can be, You imagined it, conjured it up out of your diseased mind. Which is what many atheists conclude about Christians. God does not exist, they say, so a Christian who “hears” His voice, is a fool, a liar, a simpleton, or mentally ill.

It’s not so far from the conclusion C.S. Lewis (popularized by Josh McDowell) came to about Jesus based on the claims He made about Himself (liar, lunatic, or Lord)—with one exception: C.S. Lewis added that Jesus could be who He said He was.

The atheist gives himself no such option because he’s already ruled God out.

I commented on Mike Duran’s blog this morning regarding something he wrote about evolution, and once again, it hit me how many more options Christians have than atheists. After all, if an omnipotent God does exist (and He does), then what are the limits? But by making the presupposition that there is no God, an atheist is then left to figure things out via Man’s limited observations and reasoning. No wonder science keeps discovering new things and theories keep changing and science textbooks have to be rewritten.

Spiritually? Not much has changed from the day God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden. Oh, sure, lots of history has happened, including the fulfillment of the prophecy to Satan that Man would bruise him on the head and Satan would bruise Him on the heel. And of course God gave us His written word as well as His Son. But we don’t need to continually discover new revelation in order to make sense of our world.

And we don’t need to fear new discoveries. They will always make sense because we have a God who can do the impossible. When something looks incongruous with Scripture, we can rest in the knowledge that it is not. Our understanding may be incomplete or veiled or our interpretation may be in error—we have lots of possibilities. The atheist in his box? Not so many. His data can’t be wrong—at least until another scientist comes along and proves that it is.

The earth is flat, after all. We can all see that it is flat. Sadly, the most adamant fundamentalist extremists just might be atheists who box themselves into a field of knowledge they know will most probably be altered one day.

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm  Comments (36)  
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God and Delusion


Last night I watched a PBS Masterpiece Contemporary called (I think I have the title right) “God on Trial.” In essence it was the story of a group of Jewish Auschwitz prisoners who decided to put God on trial because He broke His covenant with Israel by not protecting and blessing the nation as He said He would.

If it weren’t for the death-camp setting, the story would have seemed rather silly to me. Here were several Rabbis, one who supposedly had memorized the Torah, but they didn’t really get the fact that Israel broke the covenant and God fulfilled the clear warnings He gave, should they do so.

At one point, one of the men brought up that possibility, but the discussion turned to why “good Jews” were suffering for the sins of the “bad ones,” defined as those who no longer had faith in the Torah. As it turned out, I guess they found God guilty (I fell asleep near the conclusion, but woke up to see the end), yet as the German guards hauled off the group designated for the gas chamber, the man who instigated the trial said something like, Now that God is guilty, what are we supposed to do? And the answer was, Pray and believe in the Torah. They then began quoting a passage from it, and continued to do so as they marched to their deaths.

So this morning, I started reading a book called The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister and Joanna Cullicut McGrath ( InterVarsity Press). Apparently atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion, which the McGrath book is clearly answering, is most critical of what I’ll call the Faith Factor.

God is a delusion—a “psychotic delinquent” invented by mad, deluded people. That’s the take-home message of The God Delusion. Although Dawkins does not offer a rigorous definition of a delusion, he clearly means a belief that is not grounded in evidence—or, worse, that flies in the face of the evidence.

A faith such as “God on Trial” depicted the Jews of Auschwitz having.

The McGrath’s make an essential point:

Dawkins is right [about this point]—beliefs are critical. We base our lives on them; they shape our decisions about the most fundamental things. 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 rearranged. 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 naive enough to think that we don’t have any in the first place. But who, I wonder, is really deluded about God?

Well, I already know the answer, because I read the Book—the one written by the All-Knowing Creator God. Anyone who puts God on trial and finds Him guilty, or absent, or dead is deluded. I could have said, anyone who puts God on trial is deluded. The idea that we can judge God shows our delusion.

It doesn’t help that those who judge God and find Him wanting then turn around and profess faith in Him or His Word. It is the biggest delusion of all.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 11:05 am  Comments (9)  
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