Monthly Archives: January 2009

Atheist – How Would You Run the World?

Most people are going to answer this question by saying that it would be a world without suffering, accidental death, and disease. No one would ever get old and it would be a world of amazing kindness and fairness and love and everyone would get along.

Amazing enough, this is precisely the kind of world that God made! But there’s one thing that most people are going to leave out of their “ideal” world, but that God also included. It’s called human free-will. God created mankind with the ability to love or reject Him and the beautiful world that He made. We chose to reject the world that God made and to run the world on our own terms and the world we now have is the result.

So, atheist, how would you do it? How would you run the world? Would you take free will away? Would you make everyone a robot, not allowing them to freely choose what they want in life, but enforcing the universal good by the inability to choose bad?

For God to neutralize the possiblity of suffering and wrong, He would have to neutralize the source of suffering – human free-will. If we are not free to choose either good or evil, then we are robots, not humans. And we have no real choice.

But, the atheist will contend. “Why doesn’t God just destroy the really bad people?” But who is to define what “bad” is? Aren’t we all sometimes bad? Does this mean we should all be destroyed? See the dilemma that we create with this rationale.

No. God created a free-will world where a legimate ability to choose is the right of every human being. If you run the world and take away this critical component, you’ve just destroyed the good world that you seek to create. If we live in a world run by you and you take away the possiblity of choosing contrary to what you wish, we would all be slaves to your pre-programming. There would never be true love, only a regurgitation of computer code that satisfies the one listening – yourself. No one would want this kind of world. And not even God wanted this kind of world.

How would you run the world? Precisely the way that God is running it now – with an authentic choice to choose the good or the bad and to live witht the results of that decision, otherwise all of creation is sabotaged and obedience is merely perfunctory because it pays well.

You and I have a choice and that’s what makes the world beautiful.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Creation, Free Will

What We Cannot NOT Know – The Witness of Deep Conscience

There are some things that we cannot NOT know. Of course, this does not mean that we know these things with perfect insight and clarity. But we do know them simply because we are alive: like the fact that children should be cared for, or the property of others should be respected, or that incest is a terrible offense against the moral order. Our conscience just tells us that we know this. Our conscience does not rely on the five senses or by just being told to feel a certain way. This automatic internal guide is the witness of deep conscience at work. We know many things without even noticing that we know them.

The greatest thing that we cannot NOT know is that God exists. The only way to get around this witness of deep conscience is by self-deception, to tell myself that He doesn’t exist. The atheist must tell himself/herself that “I do not know what I really do know.” The atheist must pretend that they don’t hear or feel this witness of deep conscience.

It’s like the lady who was getting an abortion and she asked, “Is it OK if I don’t feel like a monster about this?”

If someone has guilty feelings for not having guilty feelings, then she is bearing witness to deep conscience. She knows it’s wrong, but she has to tell herself that it isn’t. And the fact that she asked if it was ok to feel that what she was doing was ok, tells all of us that it is NOT ok.

This is the plight of the atheist. “Is it OK if I feel OK using profanity now that I’m an atheist?” “Is it OK if I feel OK about not having any moral values?” “Is it OK if I feel OK about excluding God out of every part of my life?” “Is it OK if I feel OK about flipping God off?” “Is it OK if I feel OK about reducing the Bible to mere myth?” “Is it OK if I feel OK about teaming up with other atheists bloggers and getting the red “A” on as many blogs as possible?”

The very fact that an atheist has to identify themselves as “Coming Out” at all, signifies that they have played dumb to their guilty feelings, but cannot hide the fact that they have a “guilty knowledge.”

“Is it OK for me to feel OK about being an atheist?” “Is if OK if I feel OK about putting a red “A” on my blog?” Atheist, you have just given testimony to the witness of deep conscience.
https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/a-large-red-atheist-a-and-the-ichthus/

There are some things that we cannot NOT know. That there is a God is one of them. Stop pretending like you don’t know. You may not feel guilty for proclaiming that you are an atheist, but you have demonstrated that you know atheism is wrong.

Your deep conscience is fine and is working properly. The problem comes with the interface – the human will, suggests J. Budziszewski. Let the witness of deep conscience be the new guide by which you make your spiritual decision to either believe or disbelieve in God. Get your human will out of the way.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Conscience, Epistemology

“If God Is Not, Then All Things are Permissable” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If God is not, then there is no accountability in our universe, no ultimate day of justice. The atheistic regimes who have done unimaginable things to other human beings in an attempt to create a secular (without God) utopia will never be brought to justice. If God is not, genocide is permissable. There is not, nor will there ever be cosmic justice.

If God is not, then you are not important. One person may do to another person as they wish. There is no sense of innate, moral value, no ascribed value. If God is not, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are permissable. If God is not, life is not sacred. If God is not, there are no ultimate moral values to guide how I treat someone else.

If God is not, suffering is never resolved. While many create an “atheistic rendition of God” in order to show how cruel his nature is and to bring Him down to our level, the Bible continuously asserts the goodness of God and the final resolution of all things dis-eased. If God is not, I may create more suffering rather than work to resolve it.

If God is not, there is no explanation of our human moral center that prompts us to do things contrary to our “Darwinian” universe. If my child is being beaten by a stranger outside, and I hear it, I am compelled to act, despite the harm I may personally encounter by doing so. Something in me compels me to respond. “Survival of the fittest” simply does not explain this scenario. If God is not, I keep reading the paper and do nothing.

If God is not, then history must be retold, because God has been embedded in human history from the very beginning. One may rewrite history, but it can be rewritten, not as truth, but as my interpretation of what happened, so as to demonstrate that there is no authority or control being asserted over those who read the reinterpretation. If God is not, then we lose history to endless revisions.

If God is not, there is no meta-narrative or narrative identity; no larger story going on. We must then create our own story, improvise our own narrative arc. If God is not, we merely live for several smaller stories, lesser stories, that will end when life terminates. If God is not, I make up my own meaning for being here and devise my own script, ascribing my own meaning to things I don’t understand.

If God is not, I am not. Of all the things that can be said about what we think God is like (cruel, mean, unjust), He has given us life itself. And that life is endowed with emotional, rational, social, and spiritual capabilities that allow me to understand, feel, relate, and experience life itself. If God is not, there simply is no explanation for such a life.

If God is, then there is a larger story, preserved in history, by image-bearing human beings, who reflect the image of the One who created, and who seek to alleviate suffering and disease, guided by an internal sense of conscience and justice, that eventually finds ultimate satisfaction when all things are set right and the world is as it should be.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Theism

Reclaiming Fallen Creation – Create God-Honoring Culture

Before God asked us to do anything else in Genesis 1-2, He gave us a job to do and basically said “Take care of my stuff.”

We are to exercise a responsible stewardship. We can never create what God created, but we are called to extend it, shape it and form it and organize it and research it and use it in such a God-glorifying way that we thus extend his creative work in our world.

We are to plant and manage fields and food supplies. We are to construct cities and communities and restore old ones. We are to make music and works of art. We are to breakdown diseases and sicknesses and endeavor to find a cure. We are to utilize all of science to find answers to as many questions as we can. We are to adventure into outer space. We are to dedicate ourselves to the laboratory. We are to study law and economics. We are to engage in education and politics. We are to build databases and information systems to give people greater control over the information in their lives.

Why? All of this is to massage the potential of the created order. By penetrating our society and letting God’s values come to bear in all of the areas, we speak a “Genesis”, a new creation, into the lives of people and our world.

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Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Cultural Commission, Cultural Mandate, Genesis 1-3, Imago Dei, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Restoration

What’s the Deal with Genesis 1-3? | Myth or Fiction?

Is Genesis, chapters 1-3 really true? Did God really create everything? Or, is it mythology, with talking snakes and a tree of knowledge and a God who walks? To use a concept by C.S. Lewis, I would say it is “true myth.”

When we talk about myth in the Genesis Creation story context, we are not talking about “fiction.” Rather the literary genre of myth is simply a symbol filled story about a reality that is beyond our comprehension. What we must keep in mind, is that no one actually saw the Creation of the Universe. But, through ancient writers, who possessed a rich and accurate oral tradition, we have a Creation Story that sets against a constrasting backdrop of lesser creation story accounts (such as the Enuma Elish Babylonian creation story where the gods are fighting, one is slain, and man is created out of the discarded god-material).

So, in Genesis 1 through 3, we have an author who is not writing primarily as a historian, who is preoccupied with a strict chronological time-line. The author is not writing as a scientist, who is preoccupied with how everything came into existence from a physics standpoint alone. What we have is an author, who is endeavoring to answer the question of Who it is that stands behind the work of unwitnessed creation.

The author organizes the Creation Story along the metaphoric lines of a work week. We work six days and rest; God worked six days and rested. This suggests that the writer himself is nested within an organized social structure when this Creation Story was written. It comes well after the fact of Creation, but through an oral tradition, the Creation story was preserved by a community of people who would not allow inaccuracies into the story.

Genesis 1-3 is a Creation Story that explains what happened from a distinctively monotheistic, Hebrew frame of reference. But allow for the freedom of the writer to borrow from the literary genre of myth to tell the story; allow the author to use symbols that point to a reality beyond our human comprehension.

Let’s grant that there really was an Adam and Eve; that there really was a talking snake; that there really was a tree of life and of the knowledge of good and evil. But, let’s not stop there. Let’s make the application in light of true myth. That Adam and Eve stand for all of us; that the talking snake represents something very evil in our world; that the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents a choice that we always have to make. You see, we have all been created by God and are in His image. We all face a force and personality of evil in our world. We all have a free-will choice to make regarding God and our relationship with Him. In Adam and Eve, we all sinned even. That put in the very same place, you and I would have done exactly the same thing.

Don’t bog down on literal days versus periods of unspecified time. Don’t bog down on whether or not the talking snake is real. Don’t bog down on why God even placed a tree in the Garden to be tempted with. Rather, look to the realities that these Creation Story details point to. Our universe came from God, who made man in His image with free will. Man chose to disobey at the prompting of an evil presence and the entire creation fell under a curse. But even in this, there is hope planted for a New Adam who would restore a sabotaged creation (Genesis 3:15), One who would come that would thwart any serpentine attempts to de-create our lives (Paul calls Jesus Christ the Second Adam in Romans).

Genesis 1-3 is true myth, but not fiction. It points to realities beyond our human comprehension, like all mythological stories do. Only this mythological story is true.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Creation, Eden, Free Will, Genesis 1-3, Larger Story, Myth, The Fall

Breathe Deeply, Live Fully – The Present Moment is Sacred

This post is dedicated to my atheist friend (aforcier), who has a better grasp on the present moment than I do (as a Christian Theist ironically enough).

Erma Bombeck wrote a piece entitled “If I Had Life to Live Over Again”? In it, she wrote: “I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains…When my child kissed me impetuously, I would have never said, “Later. Now get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more I love yous, more I’m sorrys, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.”

I remember the testimony of an anonymous friar in a Nebraska monastery. He wrote it in a letter late in his life. He says some surprising things and admits the need for being in the present moment. Remember, he’s lived an entire life of rigorous self-discipline in such a way that he feels he’s been cheated out of his present moments, and this is what he says:

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax, I would limber up, and I would be sillier than I have been this trip… I would be crazier. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would eat more ice cream and less beans… You see, I’m one of those people who lives…sensibly hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day. I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, aspirin, and a parachute. If I had to do it over again I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.”

So if you have today, enjoy it immensely. Enjoy your job. After you’re done for the day, go get some taco’s. Sprinkle a little hot-sauce on them. Chase that down with some Schwann’s vanilla ice-cream, half-melted so you can stir it up in the bowl. Curl up on the couch and watch a football game. Keep your toes warm by putting them under the family dog’s belly. Make brownies to go with that Schwann’s vanilla ice-cream. Watch a little Andy Griffith after the game. Get lost in a great book.

Or, if you love nature (and all of us do to one degree or another), go outside, and enjoy a quiet place, on a log, by a river, with the smell of decaying leaves wafting through the air. God has created in such a way as to give you present moments. “God could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn’t have known the difference. Be he didn’t. He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue… Did he have to make the birds sing? Was He required to put stripes on the zebra or the hump on the camel? And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings? Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste? Why wrap creation in such splendor? Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face when you you recognize for the first time ‘You did this for me.’ (Lucado, Grace I and II).”

Trust God and have fun and make life better for someone else along the way – create a great present moment for them! Get lost in God’s world, even if but for a moment. Tomorrow will bring some unexpected things – and you may even cry about it – but you have today – this present moment.

You see the greatest tragedy of all in life is to assume that life is nothing more than humdrum, that there isn’t anything in it to seize or that there is no one seizing me. That’s the problem with post-modernism – there’s nothing to seize – no larger story going on. We live and we die in a series of disconnected moments. But there is One who is in an ever present sacred “Present Moment.” Join in the mystery of that moment.

Someone once asked Mark Buchanan what his biggest regret in life has been. He said, “I thought a moment, surveying the vast and cluttered landscape of my blunders and losses, the evil I have done and the evil that’s been done against me. ‘Being in a hurry,’ I said. ‘Pardon?’ Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me… Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.”

Don’t throw your moments away. You have this moment. Live it fully, breathe deeply.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Happiness, Intelligent Design, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Parenting, Post-modernism, Present Moment, Spiritual Life, Theism, Universe, Worldview

Christianity: Domesticated by the Christians, and the Atheists Are Still Too Lazy to Pet It

In the early days of Christianity, Christianity was a grassroots movement with a wild side. Orphans would be taken off the streets and cared for; the status of women was elevated in a patriarchal culture; adherents gave their all in order to meet the needs of those in their community; people died for the name of Christ that sets people free from the tyranny of bondage and guilt. In these rough economic times in a culture that has lost it’s moral foundation and the existence of God is being denied, it will take primitive, wild, and undomesticated Christianity to begin a revolution of change.

We are not called to be Christians to merely enjoy life, to have everything around us pleasant and comfortable. Jesus represented a rugged Christianity. We have sterilized it, tamed it, domesticated it.

“Just give me a better parking place at the mall.” “Help me not to be offensive.” “Don’t mention the ‘Jesus’ word.”

Jesus has become lost in a religion that bears his name. When you become a follower of Jesus you become participants in an insurrection, a renegade of nonconformists in a culture that has lost its way. Erwin McManus calls it a “barbarian revolt.” The invasion to reclaim a fallen creation has begun in Jesus and we are to extend it, not tame it. I wonder along with others, if Christian Theists have left Jesus behind.

But it even gets worse. Even though the Christians have tamed Christianity, the atheists are still too lazy to pet it. Dorothy Sayers described sloth this way: “It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

There is an indicting apathy that has crawled over and settled on our existential times. “There’s really not that much to be excited about in life, and when it comes to God – oh well, whatever?” And the atheists even say that He doesn’t exist.

If God is as great as the Bible says He is, why do I not love this Creator with a daily aliveness that invigorates me to pursue him with passion? The idea of God has been tamed and Jesus has been domesticated. Imagine, a Being with a mind as great as God’s, with feet like fire and a voice like rushing wind and ocean waves breaking on distant shores, iridescent light that invites you into the mystery. How could I possibly have a “whatever” attitude when I have revelation like that of God? I’ll tell you how – sloth in a context of a domesticated faith. Sloth is when we do sullenly what we ought to do with devotion. Sloth says “It’s not really true; it’s nothing to be excited about. I’ll label it as fairytale and dismiss it.” Too lazy to pet it, even though domesticated.

Don’t just join a revolution; be a revolution. How do we get through the crises of life? Turn Christianity loose, the real, untamed authentic kind. Stop pampering the atheists and the politically correct. Present a compelling case for Christian Theism in the marketplace of ideas. Love a person who hates you. Feed someone who is hungry. Drive old cars. Wear old shoes. Don’t seek revenge. Serve your spouse rather than divorce her/him. Give your money away. Care for a lonely person. Help people find jobs. Articulate a truly Christian Worldview. Love your family and invest in them. Stop offering your body to the first thing that winks at you. Radically serve your community. Meet a need. Recycle and reuse.

Get a little rugged for a change. Have a backbone, some moral stamina. “Deny yourself” is how Jesus would say it. Let’s not tame Jesus; let’s turn him loose. Life is not a petting zoo; it’s fallen, wild Creation on the Outback. It takes a “Lion” in these pansy, atheistic times. This IS something worth living for. And, something worth dying for.

I would hate to live in a world where there was nothing worth dying for, no larger story to be caught up into, no noble purpose for which we would give our lives. The slothful (be they atheistic or Christian) do nothing to make our world better; he or she leaves it unchanged, except for pillaging some of its resources, occupying some of its space. Sloth and selfishness is fueled by a culture of cynicism. We may not be intellectual atheists, but we are practical atheists, full of complacency. “There may be a god, but I’m going to live without him.” It’s all fueled by sloth, a refusal to deal with the hard questions of life and somehow find God in all of it.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Jesus Christ