Monthly Archives: June 2008
Answer for an Atheist
Vitaminbook, atheist and regular commenter on this blog, at asks the following question at his own blog:
9942 Apophis is a near-Earth asteroid with a small chance of hitting our planet on April 13, 2036. . . . Should the asteroid hit us, it would explode with many times more force than whatever caused the famous Tunguska Event, with potential casualties running into the millions. . . . As a Christian or other believer in some sort of God, what’s your reaction? Do you assume that God wants this to happen for some reason? Or do you believe that God would save us at the last minute rather than letting Apophis (ironically named after an ancient Egyptian god) destroy a sizeable portion of his creation?
How do you reconcile the possibility of sudden destruction from space with a Universe supposedly made for us by God?
I don’t reconcile it. I don’t have to reconcile it, because the earth and all of the heavens are made for his glory alone (Ps 19:1; Is 66:1; Col 1:16), not mine. Should this event happen, and this asteroid collides with the earth, I will take comfort in knowing that this is for God’s purpose, for he foreordained all things that come to pass (Is 14:24).
The universe was not made for us. It was made for God, for his own glorification.
This Made Me Laugh
(HT: The Friendly Atheist)
It’s a German Bible… but it has a very different meaning in English…
Regular readers will note that I have been following the case of Madeline “Kara” Neumann, an 11-year old girl who died as a result of parental negligence. Her parents refused to seek medical attention for their daughter, instead relying on prayer to heal her. It appears to have happened again, this time in Oregon to a 16-year old boy. No cause of death is ruled yet; an autopsy is planned and the parents are being investigated for negligence.
They are connected to a church that calls itself Followers of Christ, which isn’t linked to any mainstream denomination.
With all of my talk about parents rightly being charged for praying only and not seeking outside medical attention, readers must think that I have no respect for the power of prayer. That just isn’t true–I have nothing but the utmost respect for the power of prayer, but I’m realistic enough to know that in most cases, prayer has zero statistical effect on the outcome of illness. With this empirical data in front of me, I have no choice but to face the possibility that prayer is not meant for medical conditions. Prayer, therefore, is for our own consolation in accepting God’s will for a given situation. Prayer is meant to change us, not change God.
This isn’t a dreadful conclusion; rather, this is liberating. It means that we can seek medical help and it isn’t a sin. It means that God works his healing powers through secondary causes, the doctors and nurses involved in patient care.
What about all of the promises to answer prayer? Well, simply put: none of it promises an affirmative answer. None of it promises to deliver our wants. God promises to hear us–and hear us only. He promises to take care of our needs, not our wants. We only receive what we want in accordance with his will.
Prayer should never go by itself. Prayer should always be associated with action on our part. For example, if I pray for a new job, a new job will not drop onto my lap unless I read want ads and apply for jobs. Same goes for healing–unless you seek medical attention, odds are worse illness will beset the victim, and then, perhaps, death.
STYLISTIC CHANGE: Divine Pronouns
Out of respect for God, I have capitalized all pronouns that refer to him, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit. However, after some careful consideration, I’ve decided that it will make life a lot easier, and essays much easier to proofread, if I cease this practice.
From now on, all divine pronouns will be lowercase. This is consistent with most translations of the Bible, and many devotionals and other books that I’ve read. This will affect all sites that I webmaster–this one, God is NOT Imaginary, God and Amputees, and Fast Food Management Secrets (though I doubt that this decision will affect the fast food site much!).
This post from Odder Stories defines “religious morality” this way:
- That morality is divinely inspired or divinely ‘given’ to us by God. Occasionally this is implied to be directly instilled in every human via the conscience, but more often it involves morality being codified in something like the Bible.
- That their particular brand of morality is absolute, objectively true and applies everywhere, in every circumstance.
- That morality exists independently of human thought or action.
- That morality is not bound in any way to utility. In other words, it’s enough that God or the Bible says that something is wrong; there doesn’t have to be any clear reason as to why.
This is almost accurate. Consider the first point. The Bible doesn’t codify morality for us that, as in the second point, “applies everywhere, in every circumstance.” Paul Copan, in “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster,” from the latest volume of Philosophia Christi (vol. 10, #1), argues that the morality codified for us in the Bible only applies to the ancient Israelites. The Mosaic law points to a higher standard of morality, but is not that standard.
Jesus was the end of the Law (Rom 10:4). That which was written the Law is for instruction (Rom 15:4; cf. 1 Cor 10:11 and Gal 3:23-24). By the prophet Jeremiah, God predicted a better day, which has now come:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:33)
So the Bible isn’t our source of morality–God has written it on our hearts. That is not to say that we are done with the Mosaic law altogether, for it still exists for instruction. This way, we have an objective, absolutely true sourcebook for when our feelings fail us.
It follows naturally that the morality exists independently of human thought and action.
Finally, the way that Vitaminbook phrases the fourth point makes us sound like cultists. In fact, it isn’t as bad as that, provided that one accepts two points. First, that God is Creator and therefore Lawgiver. Second, that as Creator, he would know better than us what is and is not harmful to us.
I’m sure that VB is primarily referring to something that is near and dear to his own heart, Leviticus 18:22. The reasoning behind that goes back to Genesis 2:18-24, an account which is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:1-12. Marriage is between one man and one woman, according to Genesis and Christ. Therefore, it is an abomination to the Lord for two men or two women to lie together.
That rule doesn’t seem arbitrary to me; it seems as though there is a clear reason why this rule is in place. The only problem is whether someone accepts the authority of God or not.
Antipelagian vs. Vitaminbook
For those of you following the exchange between Antipelagian and Vitaminbook in the comments section of this post, Antipelagian has taken the battle to his own home front here. AP pulls no punches when it comes to atheist morality, so be warned. Vitaminbook has a response of sorts, pondering atheist morality here. I’ll dissect that post later, when I have some more time.
Meanwhile, I encourage readers to follow up on that debate. It is very interesting to say the least.
Charge Against Neumanns Survives Motion to Dismiss
The charge against Madeline Neumann’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, survived a motion to dismiss on Tuesday. A judge has ordered that they will stand trial, ruling that sufficient evidence exists for the charges to stick and for the couple to mount a defense.
Dale and Leilani Neumann have been charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the death of their 11-year old daughter Madeline (Kara). Kara’s condition, a treatable form of diabetes, deteriorated over the course of a month until she was unable to speak or eat within the last 48 hours of her life. Her parents stayed by and prayed instead of seeking medical attention.
Prayer has worked miracles, to be sure, but usually in conjunction with medical attention. It is my sincere prayer that this tragedy is used by God to bring some good into the lives of everyone touched by it.
Brian Sapient Punched Out
There are several rumors circulating that Brian Sapient, co-founder of the Rational Response Squad, has been brutally attacked at the American Humanist Association’s conference by Greydon Square, another member of the RRS. Apparently, the two had a disagreement over the way Sapient was handling Square’s CD sales, and Square beat Sapient. An ambulance had to be called.
There is no official word, as yet, from the RRS. Hambydammit, a core member, would neither confirm nor deny it to an interested party on the RRS forums, instead Hamby repeatedly told the inquirer to mind his own business.
Whatever my personal differences with Brian Sapient, he didn’t deserve to be attacked by Greydon Square. Square has legal methods to work out business disputes if he was unhappy with Sapient handling his affairs. Square acted like a spoiled little child. He needs to do some serious growing up.
Meanwhile, my prayers are with Sapient and Kelly this evening. Hopefully Brian has a speedy recovery. Pray also that the Lord has bigger plans for Brian Sapient than atheist activist.
UPDATE: This attack has been confirmed by Brian Sapient here in this thread at the RRS discussion board.
UPDATE: Fixed the broken link in this tread.
Calling for the Resignation of V. Gene Robinson
This is a call for V. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, to resign is episcopate because of his unrepentant sin of homosexuality.
The apostle Paul said:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 9-10, emphasis added)
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Tim 1:8-11, emphasis added)
Based on the Law’s prohibition on homosexuality (Lev 18:22) and the apostle Paul’s clear echo of it, I would say that homosexuality is wrong. Let’s look at the qualifications for a bishop (overseer):
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:2-7, emphasis added)
I am not considering Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s qualifications outside of the boldfaced terms. I hope he has been an good bishop in every other area and served his people well. However, he does not fit the qualifications of a bishop and should therefore resign his office.
Bishop Robinson is gay, and has joined in “marriage” to his long time partner. This is unacceptable. Homosexuality is a sin, and people who live in unrepentant sin should not serve in any capacity in ministry. This man is supposed to be the spiritual leader of his diocese, and he is “glorying in his shame” (Phil 3:19). This isn’t fair to the people of New Hampshire. Their spiritual leader can’t control his own sin, how is he supposed to counsel others to control their sins?
Until he repents of homosexuality, Bishop Robinson should not be permitted to continue in ministry.
Amid heartbreaking news that always seems to clog my RSS feeds, every once in a while a good one shines through. Finley Crampton was born to Jodie Percival and Billy Crampton weighing in at 6 pounds 3 ounces three weeks premature. An everyday occurrence, right? Not this baby: The couple had tried to abort him 8 weeks into the pregnancy. He survived the abortion and is expected to live a normal life.
Welcome to the world, little man!