Monthly Archives: March 2009
Here is an interesting article from my own hometown Toledo Blade on how atheism strengthens the believers’ faith.
Atheist Revolution’s VJack has a very interesting post about whether or not atheism is voluntary. Atheism, it seems to VJack, is “less voluntary than many other beliefs.” It seems that atheism is something that someone is left with after exploring all other beliefs.
Sitting here today, knowing what I know, experiencing what I have experienced, living the life I have led, I am not sure that I could now convince myself to believe in the Christian god or associated dogma even if I desperately wanted to do so. It is as if I have passed a point of no return. (source, emphasis added)
I think that it is interesting that he chose that particular phrasing. Because the Bible teaches that there is, indeed, a “point of no return” for the faithless. Consider this:
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 The 2:9-12, emphasis added)
This means that, eventually, God will allow you to believe what you choose to believe about him. And moreover, he will send you a powerful delusion so that you will always believe that, no matter what happens. This is God’s judgment on the sinner.
It seems that VJack has crossed a line, and now can no longer believe in God. This is very sad news. VJack has, through his life, brought a strong judgment from God upon himself.
It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love VJack. Quite the opposite–God loves everyone, including VJack. It means that VJack can still repent of this and turn his faith to God, and God will welcome him with open arms. Unfortunately, VJack’s own words seem to preclude this possibility, and God has judged accordingly.
The line has been drawn. I hope VJack knows what he’s doing.
Marcion appears to be going off the handle in the comment section of this post with regard to homosexuality. I’ve written on this topic before, and I want to make it very clear that my view of homosexuality isn’t the same as Marcion’s.
Marcion takes his name from one of the first Christian heretics. Marcion set his own canon of Scripture and believed in a form of dualism; saying that the God of the Old Testament was evil and that the God of the New Testament is good. As far as I can tell, this appears to be what our anonymous commenter also believes.
My question to my readers is this: should I ban this character, restrict him, or take no action?
Comments are welcome, either below or via e-mail.
It is common for atheists to cite religious violence as “evidence” against God. How this is evidence against God is unclear in my mind; if anything it is evidence that we have definitely not gotten everything right. It is evidence, in other words, that religion doesn’t always adhere to the teachings of its holy Scriptures. And that isn’t a surprise, since we’re fallible humans.
Somehow, it’s okay for atheists to cite ad nauseum the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and the Salem Witch Trials as evidence that Christiantiy is a violent religion. But it isn’t okay for Christians to cite atheist regimes like Pol Pot for the same effect. Dinesh D’Souza counters that argument in this short video, which I couldn’t resist posting since I’ve been on about atheism in my last few posts.
I’ve been entertaining arguments from the atheists that drifted over here from Unreasonable Faith. It’s been interesting, to say the least.
In reading the various comments that have flown my way, I have come to the conclusion that we, as theists, should be utterly ashamed of ourselves for losing anyone to atheism. If the non-arguments that I’ve been getting in my comment section from atheists is any indication of the broader arguments for their worldview, I don’t see how anyone could be convinced. For one thing, most of the non-arguments that fly in my direction don’t even address the issue that I did.
I charge that Daniel Florien gets his morals from the Bible. In response, I’m asked how ancient people got their morals before we had the Bible. This is a point in the argument? How, exactly? I never charged ancient people before the Bible with getting their morals from the Bible, I charged Daniel Florien with getting his morals from the Bible. No one has convincingly responded that Mr. Florien gets his sense of morality from anywhere else, not even Mr. Florien himself. But somehow, ancient people having morality before the Bible was written is supposed to convince me that Mr. Florien gets his morals elsewhere. Pretty shaky logic.
I also have two people bring up the fact that animals have rudimentary morals, as if that somehow breaks my argument. It doesn’t. It actually strengthens my position that the world was created with a specific order in nature, and that points at the universe having a personal beginning.
Okay, atheists, listen up: I don’t have to answer for any culture other than our own because my charge was at our own culture and the fact that our morals are biblically based. Bringing other cultures into this is just misdirection. The fact that the Bible has not been around to influence every culture, yet every culture has similar moral absolutes does not strengthen your argument, it points to the existence of a universally applicable moral law and that strengthens my argument.
Furthermore, pointing to animal morality does nothing to further your case. It actually cements mine. If God created the universe, as I’m arguing he did, then we would logically expect to see an order to the natural world, even rudimentary morality in lower forms of life. Your “arguments” actually help my case out, whether you realize they do or not.
Finally, quit bringing up “points” that you think denigrate the Bible but actually show that your theological knowledge is sadly lacking. I’ve already answered all of that crap before and I’m tired of wasting blog space answering it again. We’re not under Old Testament Law anymore, so enforcing the penalties is solely God’s domain now. We have no right to stone to death anyone for violating a commandment. The penalties are there to show us how seriously God takes what we think are only “minor” sins like working on the Sabbath or disobeying our parents.
If you are still hellbent (pardon the pun) on proving that Old Testament morality is antiquated or insane, consider Paul Copan’s response here. If you think you know better than the President of my own Evangelical Philosophical Society, then try to answer his article. I’ve issued that challenge in the past to one of your own, Reed Braden of Homosecular Gaytheist, and I’m not holding my breath for a response from him. I’ve generally found linking to that article is a good way to silence critics of Old Testament morality.
So, atheists: Is what I’ve seen so far really the best that you can do?
Daniel Florien of Unreasonable Faith denies a charge I leveled at him: that his morals come from the Bible, same as mine. Where do his morals come from?
I get my morals from myself and my society. I treat others like I want to be treated, because that’s how I want others to treat me. I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from. I don’t murder because I don’t particularly want to be murdered. And so on. (emphasis added)
In his book He is There and He is not Silent, Francis Schaeffer spends a chapter on this sort of mentality. The Greek philosophers tried to discover where morals come from, and one of their hypotheses was the polis, or city. For the Greek philosopher, the polis represented more than the physical city; it represented the entire social structure as well. The philosophers eventually rejected that notion, but it seems that modern thinkers are much more enlightened than the ancient Greeks, because the idea of morals stemming from the polis is back among atheists.
Rather than morality ruling society, society rules morality. It reduces morality to a majority vote. But morality is not, nor ever will be, a majority vote. The Greeks knew that, which is why they rejected the idea that the polis is the source of morality. Why don’t modern atheists see the same thing?
So is the self the source of morals? The Bible seems to support the notion that morality is the heart of people (Jer 31:33). The problem that we encounter when we make self the source of morals can be summed up by taking Florien’s expercise a step further.
He doesn’t steal or murder because he doesn’t want someone to steal from him or murder him. Fair enough. But what if he doesn’t mind it when his girlfriend cheats on him? Is it then acceptable for him to cheat on his girlfriend because it’s okay with him if she does the same? Well, I doubt that Mr. Florien’s girlfriend would agree (if he has one).
We can agree that the self may contain some morals. But it isn’t a perfect source for morality, as I’ve demonstrated above. There has to be some other source, some factor that guides our morality, a source that is perfect. We instinctively know that this source exists, somewhere. It isn’t the self, because the self is not perfect. It isn’t the polis, because that would reduce morality to a majority vote of various imperfect selves.
So what is that elusive source of morality that we all know exists? It must exist outside of self and outside of the polis, since it guides the actions of both rather than the other way around. I submit that that source is God, and that Mr. Florien (along with his atheist friends kind enough to visit my humble blog) draws his morality from God whether he knows it or not.
Normally, I answer comments in comments, but due to the length of Rosemary’s comment in this post, I decided to do it as a separate blog entry. Rosemary is way off base, and has no concept of sarcasm. Let’s see if we can make some sense of her comments.
Daniel Florien from Unreasonable Faith caught Pastor Chris Fox from Kendalls Baptist Church impersonating atheists on Unreasonable Faith. I think Pastor Chris’s point was to show that atheists have no foundation for morality, however there are better ways to go about doing so.
One of the comments that Pastor Chris posted was as follows:
What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal?
He gave away the farm in the first sentence. I’m assuming that he’s talking about abortion. It’s obvious that this was posted by a pro-lifer because no pro-choice individual would ever refer to abortion as “killing babies.” They would refer to it under the equally appaling tag “exercising reproductive rights.”
If you’re going to impersonate atheists, at least get the lingo right.
Which brings up the next question: Did Pastor Chris actually do anything wrong? Well, I think that he did and I’m happy to see that he apologized for it. What he did was create a false identity and attempted to make fun of the atheistic worldview. I’m not sure I see the hypocrisy in this, but what I do see is the same sort of mentality that led atheists to create Landover Baptist Church. We, as salt and light for the world, should avoid the same sort of dirty tactics that the world uses against us. Pastor Chris fell into temptation–he did to them what they did to us, an action specifically condemned by Paul in Romans 12:17.
What he should have done was to engage the issue intellectually. He should have logically demonstrated what we theists have always known: atheists have no foundation for morals, so they borrow morals from the Judeo-Christian worldview and declare that those are the morals that society has “evolved” with. Without God, life has no transcendent value and therefore things like “good” and “evil,” “right” and “wrong” have only what value we humans assign to them. Wrong and right become a matter of opinion in the atheistic worldview.
So, what do the atheists do? Well, they create the New Ten Commandments, of Which There are now 15 (listed on p. 263-264 of The God Delusion). But, the good folks from Atheism is Dead examined those 15 commandments and discovered that most were, in fact, biblically based. The atheist has no escape: his morals are derived from a Judeo-Christian sense of right and wrong, and that sense comes from the Bible and ultimately God himself.
This is how Daniel Florien and his readers knew what Pastor Chris did was wrong. They knew it was wrong because the Bible said that it was wrong, and that means that they get their morals from the same place as Christians.
I have no words to describe this:
A leading embryonic stem cell expert in Britain has called for organs from aborted babies to be used in transplants to increase the supply of organs available for donation, drawing criticism from pro-life and Christian groups who called the proposal “absolutely horrifying.”
I think that I side with James White in saying: This isn’t going to bring the wrath of God. This is the wrath of God. How much lower can society sink?