Tag 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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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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Art, the Imagination and A Sense of Longing

Of the many things we could say about art, one of the primary things we could say is that art creates longing. Beauty evokes desire. Beauty is not just skin deep; it’s soul deep. Archeologists have not yet discovered any stage of human existence without art. There are very few societies that do not attempt to decorate or capture in art, song, word, or ritual.

C. S. Lewis talked about his imagination being baptized after reading a work of George MacDonald fiction. What he meant was that it enlarged his sense of what is possible; it re-enchanted the ordinary world; it stirred a sense of longing within him.

When C. S. Lewis was just a little kid, his brother brought the lid of a biscuit tin into the nursery. He had covered it with moss and garnished it with twigs and flowers so as to make it a garden or a toy forest. Lewis says, “As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden.” Lewis said that his brother’s work of art taught him “longing” – this dim sense of something just beyond our reach.

After Lewis turned from atheism, he looked back and realized that these experiences occurred periodically. God was whispering to him through his imagination, but he never listened. What he later realized was that he had been longing for a Person more than a place (Nicholi, Question of God, 27). All honest atheists will admit this vague sense of longing, a dim echo that seems to fade upon just catching it.

Art, literature, and music wake us up to beauty and a Beautiful One. “The book or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing… They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited (Lewis).”

Art gives us fresh cravings and we begin to ache for something or a Someone. If you want to know what we long for, what we value, what we fear, the longings we possess, look at our stories, our poems, our songs, our paintings. We long for home and simple things, and we long for the Grand Artist, the source of all beauty.

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Filed under Apologetic of Desire, Art, Atheism, Atheist, Beauty, Christian Worldview, Home

Lesser Known Arguments for God’s Existence

There are primary arguments for God’s existence, such as the Cosmological (First Cause) Argument, the Teleological (Design) Argument, and the Moral (Conscience) Argument. But are there others?

While there are many lines along which a person may argue for the existence of God, here are a few secondary arguments that tend to work on a quiet street of our thinking.

“I believe because it is absurd.”
This was proposed by a follower of Christ several centuries back. When considering the notion that man made-up or created the Christian religion, he asserts that we couldn’t or wouldn’t have created it like it is. We would not have demanded the perfection or righteousness requirements that God demands of human beings. We would have been much easier on ourselves, and softened the requirements. We would not have demanded such a high moral life if we had authored our own religion. That’s absurd – to set a standard that no one could reach as our religion. Man would never create that kind of belief system; it’s absurd. Besides, it doesn’t make sense for a Jew to claim to be God in a purely Monotheistic Judaism. It’s absurd for us to think that mankind created his own religion. If we were to make up our own god, why would we create one with such harsh discipleship and self-sacrifice demands? Why have God creating imperfect people then punishing them for imperfection? It doesn’t make sense – if humans created this religion.

“The universe is expanding.”
This comes straight from Einstein (General Relativity). The universe is expanding from a single point in the past. The universe is not eternal, but had a beginning. This means that something or Someone caused it. It presupposes a force strong enough to create such an explosion of existence, that continues to move away from us. As the components of the universe get farther away, gravity becomes progressively weaker in its ability to slow down the expansion. Humans are living in a “window of opportunity” to observe the past. Eventually, the past will be beyond our reach, with things moving faster than the velocity of light. But for now, human life seems to be placed here at just the right time to access the information needed to answer the question of God and our origins.

“It’s so beautiful.”
The presence of gratuituous beauty argues for God’s existence. The world has an abundance of beauty that reaches far beyond mere utilitarian purposes. It’s simply there because Someone is expressing themselves and has endowed a created human being to have the presence of mind to capture it in art and other forms.

“That’s not fair.”
The only way that statement can be made is for some standard of fairness to exist that we can compare it too. While the Moral Argument addresses this in full, it is sufficient to say that you can’t know what’s unfair until you know what’s fair. How did you get this idea of fairness?

“I’m always longing for something more.”
In reaching out and desiring more, people demonstrate that something more exists; it presupposes that a something or Someone can meet that longing, much like a person who is hungry presupposes the existence of food.

“God damn it!”
The idea of God is the highest thing we can conceive of. It’s the logical ends of our speculations. We couldn’t even conceive of God unless He had given us the ability to do so, even in profanity.

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Good Friday – “It is Finished” Not “I am Finished”

“It is finished.”
– Jesus Christ on the Cross at about 3 PM Friday afternoon 34 AD.

In John 19:20 Jesus said “It is finished” while on the cross, a phrase that means “paid in full (tetelestai).” The Greek word translated “It is finished” was commonly written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. What does this mean?

Your sin debt has been paid in full. Christ’s righteousness replaces our guilt and is credited to our account. A death sentence will never come to rest on those who are “in Christ.” All sacrifices were fulfilled. The Scriptures about Him were accomplished. The veil in the temple was split down the middle, indicating that man had free access to God. Satan’s reign was over and evils’ power conquered. Life had won. Man has been liberated and set free.

Christ didn’t say, “I am finished” because He wasn’t. He’s still alive today. God raised Him on Easter. He said, “It is finished.” What’s the “it”? Your salvation. The plan to provide grace for every person. It’s finished. The gospel is an announcement of an objective state of affairs informing the world of what God has done for them in Christ. “You are forgiven. You’ve been set free. Grace has happened for you. The party has begun. Personally believe and receive it, and sit down and enjoy it!” You don’t need to win His love; you already have it!

On that first Good Friday, it was dark. It was lonely. He was thirsty. He was naked. He was in terrible pain and distress. His friends scattered. His lifeblood ebbed away. He called out in the darkness and there was no rescue for Him. Everyone had forsaken Him. Even His Father. Men jeered. His enemies laughed. Demons danced and rejoiced. Death came slowly. He did it for you to pay a debt He didn’t owe.

“It is finished.” You and I and even the atheist is declared “Debt-free.” Now, the only thing left to do is to live in light of what happened on Good Friday and life will be truly good.

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