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Archive for the ‘Atheists’ Category

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Alan Shlemon preach on “Bad Arguments Against Religion” as part of an apologetics weekend. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: A reasonable defense of Christianity is needed because false ideas are obstacles to people believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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C.S. Lewis was an atheist for many years and had a big question:

If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply wouldn’t listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling, ‘whatever you say and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by an intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into those difficulties about atheism which I spoke of a moment ago.

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man doesn’t call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man isn’t a water animal: a fish wouldn’t feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not that it just didn’t happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God didn’t exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found that I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out it has no meaning: just as if there were no light in the universe and no creatures with eyes we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

(The Case for Christianity, pp. 34-35. Italics in original.)

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Whenever I hear a phrase or sentence that has become something of a cliché, my first thought is whether or not it’s true. We hear these statements over and over again, especially from brothers and sisters in Christ, and then repeat them to others. The problem is that they may not be true, and if they’re not, they can be misleading or even harmful.

“You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom” is a cliché I heard recently. It isn’t true. There are times when God uses intellectual arguments and discussions to bring someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Some people have serious rational and intellectual obstacles to Christianity that thoughtful and prepared Christians can help them scale. Not every non-Christian has given much thought to the various arguments for the existence of God or the problem of evil – maybe you didn’t either – but some do. Obviously, we’re to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), but good arguments, good arguments, and clear thinking can do a great deal to “grease the skids.”

Darrin Rasberry is someone who was “argued into the Kingdom.” You can read a blog post he wrote about his road to Damascus here. I don’t agree with or endorse everything he wrote, but he’s on a journey (just like all of us) and he’s not a finished product yet (just like we’re not, either).

The next time you hear a cliché – or a “Christianism” – think about it.

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A Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study released in May indicates that over half of those raised in atheistic or agnostic homes have abandoned disbelief.

The New York Times called this “defecting to faith” (rather than defecting from faith which we hear far more about these days).

Half of those who converted to some form of theism (belief in a supreme being, not necessarily the Triune God of the Bible) said they had spiritual needs that were unmet. One writer suggested, “Perhaps they missed the holidays.”

Another confirmation that the kingdom of God grows like a mustard seed and a bit of leaven put into a lump of dough (Matt. 13:31-33).

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“Somebody, somewhere, love me.”

Those were the words of Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the most well-known atheist in the United States a generation ago. They were written at least six times in her two-thousand page diary.

Obviously, her commitment to atheism didn’t provide her with the love she needed. Neither did money, success, fame, or being a household name all over the nation, and indeed, the world.

Every one of us, in one way or another, are looking for that same kind of love. We all ask if there is somebody, somewhere, who will love us.

Here’s the good news: there is someone, somewhere, who loves you – God!

God took the initiave to love us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”

The Lord loves us in spite of our sin – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Each and every one of us are sinful and sinners by nature, by choice, and by habit. We’re hostile, disobedient, and rebellious to God. Therefore, we’re under His wrath, judgment, and condemnation.

That, however, is not the end of the story.

God loves us enough to send the very best – His own Son. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ – God in human flesh – lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in our place (a life which we could never live); He died a sacrificial death for our sins as our Substitute (a death we should have died); and He victoriously rose again from the dead in our place.

Our response to God’s incredible love is to repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. When that happens, we’ll experience the love of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, which is something no one else and nothing else can give.

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I’ve just finished reading The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath and thoroughly enjoyed it.

This short (109 pages including footnotes, a list of recommended reading, and information about the authors) book is a brief response to the writings of Richard Dawkins, especially his book The God Delusion.

Regarding Dawkins, the McGrath’s write:

…Dawkins simply offers the atheistic equivalent of slick hellfire preaching, substituting turbocharged rhetoric and highly selective manipulation of facts, for careful, evidence-based thinking. Curiously, there is surprisingly little scientific analysis in The God Delusion.There’s a lot of pseudoscientific speculation, linked with wider cultural criticisms of religion, mostly borrowed from older atheistic writings. (p. 11)

Regarding the book, the McGrath’s write:

It sets out to do one thing and one thing only – assess the reliability of Dawkins’s critique of faith in God.

The book is divided into four chapters dealing with different subjects. Are we deluded about God? Has science disproved God? What are the origins of religion? Is religion evil? Each question is handled briefly, but well, with solid reasoning and sound logic.

The McGrath’s end the book by saying,

Ironically the ultimate achievement of The God Delusion for modern atheism may be to suggest that this emperor has no clothes to wear. Might atheism be a delusion about God? (emphasis is the author’s)

The Dawkins Delusion? is an excellent book that I recommend for a brief overview of Dawkins’s thinking and his recent book The God Delusion. It’s an excellent place to get started thinking about atheism and those who propose it, as well as well thought-out responses.

Tolle Lege!

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The problem of evil in the world (and especially in human beings) is a persistent obstacle to faith in Jesus Christ for many people, especially atheists. As Christians, we need to do some serious thinking about this question and then engage it.

Stated briefly, here’s the problem: If God is good and all-powerful, then why does evil (obviously a bad thing) exist? Since evil exists, either God is not good or He’s not all-powerful (or both), or He doesn’t exist at all.

That line of reasoning may seem like a “slam dunk” for opponents of Christianity and the Christian worldview, but it isn’t. More needs to be considered.

Here is the skeleton of a Christian, and of course biblical, response to the problem of evil. (It’s “a” skeleton because there are other ways to deal with the question.)

  1. God is good.
  2. God is all-powerful.
  3. There is evil in the world.
  4. Therefore, God has a morally sufficient reason for the continued existence for evil.
  5. God, at some time in the future, will judge evil and sin and will make all things right.

We don’t understand all of God’s reasons for allowing evil, pain, and suffering, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any or that they’re wrong. The problem lies with our understanding, not His plan and purpose. God’s chief end – to bring glory to Himself – somehow involves evil.

Obviously, a lot more could be said, but this is a start. The next time someone asks that question (or you think it), you’ll know how to answer.

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