Category Archives: Atheist

Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, and Jesus Have It Right | Religion and the Hermeneutic of Suspicion at Christmas

Atheist Richard Dawkins offers a description of God in 23 adjectives: “jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal…, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins doesn’t just disbelieve in God; he detests Him. Dawkins has bought the hermeneutic of suspicion.

In 1976, faith was “a blind trust that goes against the evidence”. Then in 1989, faith is “a mental illness”. Now, in recent years, faith according to the new breed of atheists, is “one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate” (Alister McGrath). Dawkins even suggested that faith in God is morally reprehensible. The hermeneutic of suspicion.

John Shelby Spong tells about Michael Goulder, who unlike Richard Dawkins, describes himself as a “non-aggressive atheist.” He asserts that God has no real work to do. It’s not so much “Is God good?” The question for Gould is “What good is He?” This God no longer fights wars and defeats enemies. This God no longer chooses a special people and works through them. This God no longer sends storms, heals the sick, spares the dying, or even judges the sinner. This God no longer rewards goodness and punishes evil. God is an unemployed deity. Goulder asserts that the church has entered exile. God now rings with a hollow emptiness. The power once ascribed to this God is now explained in countless other ways. God is irrelevant.

It’s the Nietzschean “God is dead” line all over again. Americans are really fulfilling the prophecy of a syphilitic and eventually insane German, but a brilliant philosopher. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote over 100 years ago, “God will be dead in the 20th Century.” He was a very bright man. He didn’t argue that there wasn’t a God in the Heavens. One could look at the stars and galaxies all in perfect harmony and know there was a God. What Nietzsche argued was that people would live as if God does not exist – and that’s precisely what we are doing; that they would kill God – and that’s what happened in the 20th Century and what is happening in the 21st.

Nietzsche had a hermeneutic of suspicion (Tim Keller). He suggested that religion was not just a product of wish-fulfillment (Freud); it was not just a way to control the masses (Marx); it was the suggestion that God doesn’t matter anymore. Nietzsche attacked our motives for being religious. We create religion so that we can feel good about ourselves, so that we have a system of payment for the bad things we do. And there is substantially no life difference between atheists and theists.

Rebecca Manly Pippert shares her story (Hope Has Its Reasons). A conversation with a Harvard professor went something like this: “Even though I am an atheist, I genuinely admire people like you who take faith seriously. There is no question that the human race needs help. But honestly Becky, isn’t life the same whether we believe in God or not? Don’t all of us long to be loved and understood?… Life is difficult for all of us. I don’t think cancer cells ask before entering a body, ‘Excuse me, are you a praying person?’ And don’t all of us, believers as well as skeptics, raise our children the best we can? And some make it and some don’t, leaving us with broken hearts and dashed hopes whether we believe in God or not?… And don’t believers fail morally? I grant that many of you do better in certain areas than we do. But I have met my share of religious people who were racists, gluttons, self-righteous, and full of pride, all the while mouthing religious platitudes… What possible difference does God make?”

That Harvard professor’s critique of religion is right on. Believers aren’t exempt from pain. They experience illness, sexist bosses, unemployment, violence, and marital problems just like everyone else. Christians fail morally. We are deeply flawed people.

What difference does religion make? The answer is “No difference.” It is easy to be just religious versions of the same people we’ve always been.

The atheists have it right. Religion is a power play to control others. It is the opiate of the masses. It’s a pain-killer. It’s a crutch for the weak. It’s a way to justify our behavior and allows us to feel good about ourselves. This is the way religion was perceived and what we learn is that Jesus Himself was anti-religious too and had some of the same issues that Frued, Marx, and Nietzche had with organized religion. That’s why he blasted the religious establishment guys, the Pharisees, like He did and kicked over tables and “violated their rules” like He did.

But what happened was that the ideas of these anti-religious establishment philosophers transferred over to God. Now people seem to see God one of two ways. “God does not exist, so life is meaningless.” Or, “God does exist, and here are the rules – keep them.” Jesus offers a corrective to all this and basically asserts that “I have fulfilled any requirement necessary to procure the salvation of mankind. All religion is inadequate and insufficient. And if you want to know what God is like and how He feels about humanity, then look at my life.”

Christianity goes beyond Judaism. It’s not just repackaging of the same system. Judaism (religion) could not contain it and it answers the deeper questions of life. Christianity blasts the lie that we’re OK or that we’re in charge. It shatters our religion. We can’t hide behind religion anymore. We want God without the hassle of looking at the mess we’ve become. Christianity forces you to look at the mess you’ve become.

What Nietzsche failed to consider is that in Christianity, God himself became the payment. In no other religion, do you have god or the gods becoming a payment for human evil. Stott says it best: “For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.” The tragedy is that when people turn away from God and turn to religion or man-made theories, they begin to see themselves as the center of the universe and they miss grace. We hate not being god, just like Dawkins.

I deeply believe that the crisis we face today is not a crisis of the economy or the stock market or health care, the real crisis in American life today is a crisis of values. What can we believe in anymore? There is only one answer. God became flesh. He became a person in the person of Jesus Christ. He’s come over from the other side of the hedge to let us know that there is a true and living God, and that an unseen world parallel to this one exists and there is a great battle raging for the minds and allegiance of creation.

Religion has been replaced by Relationship.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Christmas, Hermeneutic of Suspicion, Jesus Christ, Nietzsche, Worldview

Is Evolution On Its Way Out? | All Major Evolutionary Pillars Have Collapsed

Evolution simply asserts that the entire cosmos is made up of nothing but matter. It asserts that if you have matter, enough time, and some chance, that this would explain how things came to be. All of life (living cells) arose spontaneously from inanimate matter. But all pillars that have been used to argue this point have collapsed.

Darwins “tree of life” indicated that you would get a branching pattern if all things evolved from a common ancestor. Things were not created separately. All that was needed was matter, time, and chance. If this was the case, you would expect thousands of intermediate life forms, yet they have not been found. Things appear in the fossil record as fully formed. No transitional representations are there. In the Cambrian Explosion, however many millions of years ago you want to estimate this, life just exploded in the fossil record. Animals and organisms were fully formed.

Darwin was a man of his time. He only had limited access to cellular information. Some have called the cell “Darwins Black Box” (Behe). Darwin and others knew the information was there, but they didn’t have the know-how nor the technology to evaluate it’s contents. DNA alone is enough to totally destroy evolutionary theory. No random process would ever produce this kind of complexity.

I won’t waste your time on the faked Haeckel’s embryo drawings nor the fabricated Peppered Moth (that still appears in some texts books). And Darwins yellow finches (that supposedly developed tougher beaks in a drought) were simply micro-evolutionary (small changes within a species which is reasonable; as opposed to macro-evolution which is one species evolving into another species – something totally unfounded) changes. What they don’t tell you is about the beaks on these little finches; the average beak size went back to normal after the drought was over.

Dr. Karl Popper said that evolution is not a fact nor is it even a theory. It’s not even scientific! In true science, every scientific hypothesis must be able to be proved wrong. Evolution cannot be falsified. In fact, good science and the law of thermodynamics has things continually becoming more and more disorganized. How does evolution go the other way? Exactly. It’s not even science. In fact, its more of a world religion, with academia serving as it’s priests.

It’s over. There is no longer a viable alternative. God exists. He is the Author of life. And contrary to Dawkins, it’s not even possible now to be an intellectually satisfied atheist because the evolutionary pillars have collapsed. Evolution is on its way out. The only reason it remains more than a vestige, a remnant from the past, is because it is the best hope for naturalistic atheists. Without it, the naturalist is left with nothing but the absurd. Abandon this false idealology. Don’t be caught in the rubble. Make way for a newer, yet more accurate, Intelligent Designer movement, that simply verifies what Christian Theists have been asserting all along.

Humans are not…a descendent of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm…an arbitrary product of time and place, chance and natural forces…a grab bag of atomic particles, genetic substance…who exists on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in a corner of a meaningless universe, only slightly different from a banana or an amoeba…coming from nothing and going no where…

But humans are…a special creation of a good and powerful Intelligent Designer… who made them in His image…with a unique capacity to think and feel and know things…set above all other life forms…to observe all of the rest of creation…discovering how a world works…all the while, engaging this Designer in relationship… encountering His love… and changing the world for the better… and fulfilling a God-given purpose, minus the suffering eventually…on a new earth…

This is a worldview that will never collapse.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Evolution, Intelligent Design

Is Jesus Really God? | If So, There is No Such Thing As Atheism

“Jesus Christ is God,” an astonishing claim for a person embedded in a monotheistic religion to even write about or suggest, much less to actually claim such a thing. Jesus is not just part of God or sent by God or related to God. Jesus is God. Jesus shows up one day, does all these miraculous things, makes these remarkable claims, like existing before Abraham or “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father,” and then has the audacity to forgive sins. A Jewish person would never do this in his right mind. A Hindu might claim to be god. A pantheist might claim to be god. For a Jew to claim to be God, was outrageous, suggests C. S. Lewis.

Several years ago, Josh McDowell articulated some thoughts presented by C.S. Lewis in this regard. Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. We could say He was a liar but He came out of the grave like He said He would. Liar doesn’t fit the facts. He wouldn’t have laid down his life if he wasn’t telling the truth. If his claims were false and he knew they were false, then he was a liar. We could say that He was a lunatic, but all the other things He said were true. If Jesus thought he was God and he didn’t know any better, then we could call Him a lunatic.

The only viable option is that Jesus is who He claimed to be – fully God. He is Lord. He’s more than just a great moral teacher. The leaders of Jesus’ day did not seek His death because he was a good man or a liar or a lunatic. They charged Him with blasphemy for claiming to be God (Mark 14:61-64). Nevertheless, all the Messianic passages of the Old Testament came true in His life. He indirectly claimed deity and He acted as if he was God in the Gospels. He told the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven.” He gave a new commandment in addition to the Ten Commandments of Moses. He requested prayer in His name. He even accepted worship on at least nine occasions. He never rebuked their worship.

If Jesus is God, this means we must listen to Him and follow His teachings. If Jesus is not God, then Christians are idolaters because they have worshiped him as God since the first century. A mere 15 years after Jesus lived, Paul quoted a hymn in Philippians 2 that says Jesus was equal with God. What convinced these monotheistic Jewish people to assert such radical things? What must Jesus have been like, what character must He have had, what claims must He have made, and what incredible deeds must He have done, to convince these orthodox Jews that He was everything their faith said a man could never be? (Boyd, Letters, 114). It was the resurrection of a man who had already embodied God-like attributes that would move them to make such a claim. If His claim is true, then it is imperative that we become a Christian and worship Him.

Let’s not offer the patronizing nonsense of just a “good moral teacher” to echo a Lewisian line. This leads us to wrong conclusions. Here’s a common one. Jesus may have existed, but his story has been embellished by His followers. People have modified the story to fit their agenda. Here’s another: Jesus never really died. He survived the crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene, hustled off to France, and raised a family. Here’s another: Jesus was a magician. He could stage miracles and use slight of hand like David Copperfield to win an audience. Patronizing, non-historical nonsense.

The only viable option if we allow the biblical information to speak to the subject, is that Jesus is who He claimed to be. If this is true, then neutrality is not an option and atheism is a mute point. If you ignore Him, you’re ignoring God Himself.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Deity of Jesus, Existence of God, Jesus Christ, Theism

The Rule of “Isms” and the Call to Revolution

Oppression can be subtle and deceiving, but we are held captive today in America, not by militaries or governments, but by something I call “isms” or ideas or belief systems that have been packaged in such a way that they are now exerting great gravitational pull on a culture that has lost a sense of identity. There is a values vacuum, nested in a time of post-modernism (where truth cannot be known) and a new atheism (where religion and faith are mental illnesses) that seeks to destroy a basic belief in God and ultimate truth. Secularism (where all things can be explained naturalistically) has become the defining worldview of our age. This is fueled by a blind materialism (where money and wealth are the unquestioned biggies in life). The current generation lives out the philosophy of a radical individualism (where life is defined by what makes me happy) and life and relationships and families are falling apart at the seams because of hedonism (where the gratification of the senses has become our god). The oppression is subtle, but the isms rule in academia, government, law, politics, entertainment, music, and even in spirituality.

There must be a revolt. Not a “throw-rocks-at-the-bus” kind of a revolt, but a revolt of ideas and worldview. Revolution is about a spiritual struggle for a generation; about a pursuit of truth in an age of tolerance. It’s about a new perspective on life and living that breathes hope into those who are weary with the isms of man. It’s about core values that still work in a world that seeks to redefine everything. It’s also about serving a world with passionate love and radical acts of kindness. Revolution as Jesus defined it is about being Christ-like and spending time with and becoming friends with those who may be disoriented by the isms of society, or interacting in love and truth with those who embrace dead-end ideologies.

I believe there is a group of people that comprise a New Community who are dedicated to living life like Jesus asked us to live it. I believe there is a group of people who care so much about the coming kingdom that Jesus promised, that they simply cannot help but enacting it now, and that they are beginning to shape this world and ready this place for a new age. They are tired of being a spiritual by-stander in the spiritual struggle for a generation. They are ready for revolt, with pure passions that stand in stark contrast to the passions and pleasures of planet earth. The Revolution is not defined by age or demographics. It includes the spiritually hungry of every age and culture and gender who share a common longing to reach beyond a small life in our times.

Revolution ultimately is about a Jesus who will turn your world upside down. You are not just being asked to join a club or learn a secret handshake or to sign on to a set of beliefs. You are asked to bring all that you are and have under the authority of a new Kingdom, to be an ordinary radical in a world of war, sex scandals, corporate greed, desperate poverty, drug addiction, selfishness, and every ism known to man.

The Revolution began many years ago, but this Revolution is still going on despite what you read or hear about in the news. It is gobbling up more territory all the time. Just like Jesus did in the first century. He will wreck your life and turn it upside down. He will ask you to do some hard things like deny yourself, suffer for the Kingdom, serve your fellow man, love an atheist, befriend a prostitute, engage in dialog with skeptical neighbors, encourage another revolutionary, give money away, use your success in life to further the revolution, instill kingdom values in your family of “little revolutionaries”, and pray for spiritual breakthrough in your community. Jesus will ask you to live a morally pure life while serving and caring for those who live immoral lives. He will ask you to live an expectant life, where you watch the sky, but you work the earth into a Kingdom-Ready state. It will not be easy or convenient, but are revolutions ever easy or convenient? Welcome to the Revolution!

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The Question For Atheists Is Not “How Do I Find God?” | The Question is “How do I Miss Him?”

While God is a hidden God and is surrounded by mystery (we will never totally understand Him – He transcends us), He also has revealed much about Himself in the world that He has made (cosmos) and in how He has made human beings with an in-built God awareness (conscience). This is what theologians call “Natural Revelation.” This in itself provides enough evidence for a reasonable belief in God and renders us without excuse.

In Romans 1:20, Paul states: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

God has planted evidence of Himself throughout His creation so that we are without excuse. Even if you were a non-Jew without the Torah, according to Paul, you are totally responsible for your behavior and cannot plead ignorance of God or His ways because God has revealed Himself to us in what He has made.

Paul’s argument is this: If you looked long enough at what God has made, you would come to understand something of His beauty and nature. Glittering stars flung across a black heaven. The earth in perfect orbit around the sun – close enough to sustain life but far enough away to keep from burning up. Sculpted mountains. The earth’s crust carved into breathtaking canyons. Fish that glow in the blackest depth of the sea. A butterfly breaking free from a cacoon. The meticulously spun web of a gray spider. The growth of a child in the womb. Birth. God’s fingerprints are all over.

After all of this, how could we ever come to the conclusion that we can live life any way that we want; that there is no God; that life is all about my glory, not His. From the greatest feat of forming a beautiful cosmos out of nothing to the intricate details of the smallest little insect or cell, each act of God in creation serves as a missionary in miniature form. They are sermons without preachers; they are biblical texts without Bibles. And while general revelation is not adequate to explain the Gospel, it renders all mankind without excuse and calls for a response.

God is everywhere, yet invisible. God is a hidden God. God has given us just enough evidence so that those who want Him can have him. Those who want to reject Him can do that as well. Think about it. It’s the only way a relationship with God could not be forced. If He was here in visible form, ruling with great power, would anybody choose differently? Evil melts away in his presence. So God must hide and self-limit in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love.

What you will find in your spiritual journey, is that it’s not so much that you find God; He finds you. And you realize you knew Him all along, but you suppressed knowledge of Him in your life (Romans 1). So don’t so much focus on “How do I find God?” Turn it around. “How has He already found me?” He brought me to this blog. He’s communicated via the Bible (Special Revelation). He’s placed me in an intelligently designed world that operates according to natural laws. He’s used crisis, confrontation, catastrophe, and even some fantastic blessings in life, like friends, baseball, family, and a day at the beach to get my attention and to cause me to tune in to Him.

Many former atheists have come to this conclusion: “God has found me! He’s known me all along and has never lost me, even though I’ve suppressed knowing Him. If I would have just looked at things close enough, I would have seen Him looking back at me. I don’t want to suppress Him anymore. I want to see and know Him.”

“How do I find God?” you ask. I reply: “How do you miss Him?” Look closely, and the very fact that you’re looking indicates this startling reality. He already found you.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Conscience, Creation, Earth, Existence of God, First Cause, Free Will, Hidden God, Intelligent Design, Theism, Truth

What if the New Testament Really is God’s Word? Why didn’t God Preserve the Original Documents?

This is a fair question posed by theists and atheists alike. The best we can do is speculate. It has been suggested that the New Testament might be better protected through copies than through original documents (Geisler).

If the original New Testament documents were all bound together that would mean that they would obviously all be in someone’s possession and they could potentially be changed or modified by the owning entity. However, when you have copies spread all over the ancient world, it makes it more difficult for any one scribe or priest or person who owns the originals to change things.

When the New Testament is reconstructed by copies and variants, the changes are rather easy to identify and can be easily corrected. In fact, just about all of the New Testament can be reconstructed from the Church Fathers who quoted it extensively in their works.

It’s a bit ironic, but not having the originals may actually preserve the New Testament better and keep it more accurate than having one solitary bound volume of all original New Testament books in one single volume.

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Atheists: Don’t Fear God’s Intervention | Fear His Non-Intervention

God’s wrath as revealed in Romans 1 is not so much about intervention with some cataclysmic event of judgment, but about God’s non-intervention. God who honors human freewill, will eventually hand people over to their chosen path or belief or sexual preferences or lifestyles. He allows you to have your addictions, your worldviews, your atheism and the emptiness that comes with it. Pay attention to the three italicized phrases in verses 24, 26, and 28 of Romans 1.

Romans 1:24 says “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

Three times Paul underscores the non-intervention of God. God doesn’t zap with wrath or bully them into doing things His way. He simply lets them have what they want in full measure.

The ultimate wrath of God is when you are so belligerent and stubborn, that God says, “OK, have it your way.” God gives you over to your beliefs or non-belief (in the case of atheism), hoping that the emptiness of it all will turn you back to Him. Many people fear the intervention of God and His punishment. But our greatest concern is the non-intervention of God and living with the life that will inevitably result from such a path taken.

A philospher once opined that when we reject truth and God, we will do one of two things: we will play god over our lives and we will live for the gratification of our senses.

We all have tried living life this way, but especially the atheist. The atheists plays god (by asserting there is no God) and having removed God and any higher purpose for living life associated with this belief, they live for the gratification of their senses. And God says, “You can do it. I’ll give you what you want.” God doesn’t have to punish us or the atheist. The pleasures that we live for punish us. Our sins punish us.

Our problem (not just atheists, but all of us) is that we want independence, total freedom from any deity, even if that deity loves us and we find Him and his ways abhorrent and objectionable. Therefore, we start playing God. You say, “I don’t want anybody telling me what’s right and what’s wrong, I want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. I want to call my own shots. I want to make my own rules. I want to put myself at the center of the universe. I want to be my own boss, live my own way, and if it feels good, do it. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do with my life.” That’s called playing God and wanting to be at the center of my universe.

When the bottom falls out, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, relationally—what often happens is that God just has to step back and let us feel the full impact of our own stupid decisions. “You want to be God? O.K. You be God.” And He’ll just step back and let you be God (Romans 1) because God always honors free will. It’s not something that He enjoys in some kind of sadistic way. He just lets you have what you want. He allows you to be god and to have your pleasures.

Be careful about persisting for something that you think you want. The worst thing that could happen is that God just might give you over to it and you and I will have to live with the consequences of our own decisions.

And to my atheist friends: if you don’t want God in your life, you can have it your way. God will allow you to do it. But in the end, when your views have been pushed to their logical conclusions and life has been shattered by your non-belief, it will be one time in your life when you will wish that you never got what you wanted.

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Filed under Addiction, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Free Will, Rebellion, Sexual Addiction, Theism