Trust/Faith is `Personal`
“Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, ‘I have faith in God,’ the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what... Read More
I wish to post some ideas and and thoughts by others here that will allow a framework to reply to such a challenge. Many professors will infect young minds with this idea, which is, “you cannot criticize Marxism, socialism, or the like because its ‘pure... Read More
I thought I would post a few items for the average man to engage someone lightly about Genesis. Here I want to focus on larger, easier to defend positions and will also throw in some minutia for the person who is curious about the issue as well. I will give a short reply and... Read More
One night alone in prayer might make us new men, changed from poverty of soul to spiritual wealth, from trembling to triumphing ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon
This is a reordering for clarity purposes of an older post about the reasons I left a church my wife and I truly... Read More
I found this title of an article very myopic, ill-considered. You will see what I mean as we get into it, but first, here is the title of the article, “Atheists Have Stronger Family Values Than Evangelical Christians.” Not only is the title ill-considered, but the... Read More
(Updated points #4 and #5)
This is a short, 6-point reason why I believe same-sex marriage should not be “normalized” by society as a whole — THAT IS, gay-unions should not be placed in importance, culturally, as equal in its benefiting society. Gender... Read More
(Part 2 is HERE) Let us open up with some verses that will help guide us into the subject:
2 Timothy 2:15:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
2 Peter 1:20:
First of all, you should... Read More
…This is continued from Part I
Nick DeM. again adds
i can’t get enough of this conversation!!! pbs needs to give you gentlemen a morning talk show.
May I say I disagree that the data supports evolution, neo-Darwinian at least. The data is INTERPRETED a certain... Read More
I was recently in a long discussion/debate with Tom Melendy, Ph.D. Molecular Biology, on the FaceBook page of a reporter. It is quite long and in-depth… I will include it all here as both a record for myself to reference in the future (for instance I lost the specified... Read More
“Fr. Thomas Keating teaches on centering prayer who tells us contemplative prayer is a way of tuning into a fuller level of reality that is always present …”(Open mind, Open heart p.37). He explains “My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation has... Read More
This is an excerpt from Holly’s book, linked below, and you can access her thinking on matters of faith more-so at her blog, Hieropraxis, which is the continuing thoughts of someone Christ went back for. I will also include (below) an interview about her journey from atheism to belief. (Her presentation on “academic faith” was also posted as a Serious Saturday lecture.) Enjoy… and for the curious, one should read about how God called Kirsten Powers through apologetics as well. One should keep in mind it isn’t the Christian using his or her intellect to “best” someone in argument, but God meeting people where they are at, and the Holy Spirit quickens people’s hearts to the knowledge of God in different way, Holly is an example of this.
Adler Describes the Beauty of God's Creative Power in the Intellect
“I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.”
Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.
(Take note as well that God invigorated her mind towards Christ via Christian poems/literature [like John Donne] — her degree is in literature, so she has a passion for this beauty in word and really a need in all of us for objective meaning and beauty in life.) Here is the excerpt:
IMPORTANT THINGS CAN START in odd places and at seemingly inauspicious times. It was early March, and I was in Reno for a Division II North American Cup fencing tournament—a big event for me.
I started the day in great confidence, feeling ready for a breakthrough performance. I was sure I’d make it to the semifinals at least, and not-so-secretly I anticipated winning the whole thing. Let us just say things did not go as planned. I fenced abysmally in the first round of pools (as my coach succinctly, and factually, put it, “You did everything wrong”). Then, instead of making a spectacular comeback in the direct-elimination round, I fenced horribly and lost the very first bout. It was the end of the line for me; an ignominious end to my high hopes. My coach studiously ignored me until I stopped crying; when I had pulled myself together, we had our debriefing conversation, analyzing what had gone wrong and why. I was glum but I realized that if Josh was talking about what we would address in the next series of lessons, at least it meant he wasn’t going to kick me to the curb for one bad performance.
Still, I felt deflated. Debrief completed, I slunk off to my hotel room, tail between my legs.
An hour or so later I wandered back down to the venue and watched the women’s sabre finals (where I’d hoped to have been! sob). I ran into Josh and Heidi, and they invited me to dinner. Their company was a welcome distraction from brooding over my lousy performance, and the conversation was sufficiently interesting to continue past our meal, so we found a place to chat in the casino coffee shop. Slot machines stood in ranks on either side, flashing and jingling; the casino traffic ebbed and flowed around us. This was Reno, where people gamble 24/7: late as it became, the lights stayed on and no tired barista came to shoo us out. And that was a good thing, because the three of us stayed there, in conversation, for hours—talking about God.
Its a curious thing, how God works. If we’d been in a normal cafe that had to close up at nine or ten p.m., we might never have gotten where we did in our conversation. If I had done well in the tournament, we’d probably just have talked about fencing. But considering how disconsolate I was about my performance that day, I was glad to talk about anything but fencing. Movies we’d seen. Favorite books. As it turned out, we were all fans of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
“I’ve read a little bit of Lewis’s other stuff,” I said. “I’m really annoyed with him. He says Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. But he’s leaving out that we can respect Jesus’ teachings, without the religion part.”
“Well,” Josh said, “actually . . .”
Dr. Ordway Interviewed
(Via Apologetics 315) Today’s interview is with Holly Ordway, professor of English and literature and author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith. She talks about her background as an atheist, her encounters with Christians in the past, the influence of literature and poetry, personal influences from others, looking at arguments for the existence of God, counter-arguments against God, psychological explanations, her encounter with Christ, her advice to skeptics and her advice to Christian apologists.
And the conversation went on from there.
We talked about whether it was possible to know that there was something beyond death. We talked about where morality comes from. We talked about the idea of a First Cause, a creator of the universe. At midnight my roommate called to see if I was OK, since I’m not the type to stay out late. I assured her I was fine, wished her a good night, and went back to the conversation.
I’d had interesting discussions before, but this one was different right from the start. I felt completely awake, alert, and more than a little nervous, like I was handling dynamite. But then, I was, wasn’t I? All my adult life, if I discussed religion at all, it was to dismiss it as nonsense. Yet there I was, risking honesty about what I believed but had never questioned before—and genuinely listening to ideas that I’d never heard before. Why was this conversation different?
…whenever I challenged a point, he had solid information and clear reasoning to back up what he’d said. What’s more, he respected my intellect by not letting me get away with vague generalizations or unchallenged assumptions. That was refreshing…. I was stunned by the very concept that there were rational arguments for the existence of God. Never mind whether I agreed with the arguments or not, the simple fact that Josh said, “Let’s reason this out” rather than “You have to take it on faith” made me want to hear more.
At the time, I just knew that I felt safe. I knew that I was respected, that neither Josh nor Heidi would try to convert me, so I could let my guard down like I’d never dared to before.
They offered no Bible quotes. No sharing of how ‘God had worked in their lives. No appeal to my happiness or peace of mind. What, then? Philosophy. Ideas. Dialogue.
The upshot was that, right there in that noisy, neon-glittering casino coffee shop, I experienced a radical turnaround from my previous perspective on all things God-related. As yet I didn’t know if the idea of God were true or false, but I discovered that “faith” wasn’t anything like I thought it was. It could be based on Reason.
I swiftly discovered that Josh knew what he was talking about: whenever I challenged a point, he had solid information and clear reasoning to back up what he’d said. What’s more, he respected my intellect by not letting me get away with vague generalizations or unchallenged assumptions. That was refreshing. It was, in fact, the same kind of give-and-take as in my fencing lessons: he knew what I was capable of, and so he wouldn’t permit lazy thinking any more than he’d permit sloppy technique.
But also—again, just as in my fencing lessons—he challenged me exactly at the limits of my comfort zone, where I had enough to work with that I wasn’t lost, yet was stretching myself past where I was really comfortable.
(A fencing lesson, working on practicing strong attacks. He’s making me repeat the attack over and over again, with corrections, till I get it right. My leg muscles are burning-I’m out of breath-he pauses. Him: “Tired?” Me: [gasp] “Yes” [gasp]. Him: “Good. Back to work. En garde.”)
As we wrestled with these ideas, Josh answered my questions-not the questions that an evangelist might think I ought to have, but the ones I actually did have.
Though a lot of Christians probably haven’t thought of it that way, talking about Jesus as Savior involves many assumptions—for instance, that you already believe in a Creator, not just an impersonal force but an actual Person, who is wholly good and who interacts with humanity. Miss one of those links, and the whole thing falls apart.
I needed to start at square one. For me, the term “God” was heavily loaded, so we used a safer term—the neutral, philosophical “First Cause”-and began with a basic question: can we even know, reasonably, that there is a First Cause of the universe? I’d always held to the belief that the universe just “happened.” I knew that I couldn’t back up that assertion, but I also thought that the religious take was simply to assert the opposite. I say no God; you say God; great, we’re done.
Except that it seemed like Josh had some actual reasons for his claim, some actual arguments to make. That was a totally new idea.
Sensing my interest, he laid out a few of the cosmological arguments for the existence of God. Here I can safely say that what’s helpful varies from person to person. The mere thought of philosophical apologetics might cause some people’s eyes to glaze over. On the other hand, for me it was like asking for a glass of water and getting champagne instead. I was stunned by the very concept that there were rational arguments for the existence of God. Never mind whether I agreed with the arguments or not, the simple fact that Josh said, “Let’s reason this out” rather than “You have to take it on faith” made me want to hear more.
What’s more I saw that these arguments made frighteningly good sense. I could see, even right there in that coffee shop in the casino in Reno, Nevada, that they made more sense than I wanted to admit.
There is a fundamental distinction between the way that Christian apologists approach proving a negative, and the way that atheists approach proving a negative. The distinction is that Christian apologists give good reasons to accept that something doesn’t exist or isn’t true, whereas atheist apologists will commit a fallacy known as an argument from ignorance. The atheist will say “If you can’t prove to my satisfaction that God exists, then I am justified in not believing.” It is an argument from ignorance to say that “X” does not exist because it hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction. However, Christian apologists will say, “We have good reasons to not accept your claim.” and then will proceed to give those reasons.
The Conflict of Worldviews
Since science alone can not test the validity of worldviews, we must use other methods to test claims in which science itself cannot test. You might ask, how can we tell how a worldview is valid or invalid? The mark of something that is not true is inconsistency. What we must do is take all of the presuppositions of a worldview into account, and follow those presuppositions to their logical conclusions. If any of these presuppositions are shown to be internally inconsistent while following them to their ultimate conclusion, then that worldview is false.
In this case, since the atheist is arguing for The Flying Spaghetti Monster, we must take the properties of the Flying Spaghetti Monster into consideration when arguing against it.
The Problem for the Atheist
It should be recognized that when the atheist is arguing for a deity in order to refute any type of theism, including Christianity, that the atheist is forsaking their own worldview for in favor of another. The presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with the presuppositions of atheism. Since the arguments and objections that atheism brings to the table in regards to Christianity are not sufficient, it is necessary for atheists to posit something as absurd as a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Since the presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with atheism, when they adopt this worldview to try to challenge the Special Revelation of Christianity, they are actually forsaking their own belief that no gods exist. If the arguments that atheists used against Christianity were so consistent, there would be no need for them to mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It seems that the atheists have not realized that if could successfully prove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, then atheism would be false. The Flying Spaghetti Monster undermines the entire atheist worldview.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster
The Flying Spaghetti Monster concept was revealed to the public when an atheist named Bobby Henderson wrote a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education in regards to a decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.(1) Intelligent Design proponents responded by saying that his letter unwittingly proved the ID movement’s point, because ID does not say or try to conclude who the designer is. Nevertheless, The Flying Spaghetti Monster became a popular objection to Christianity and all other forms of theism, even though that doesn’t appear to be what Bobby Henderson’s original intention was.
Philosopher Brian Garvey argues that the analogy fails because the believer and non-believer with regard to the teapot are simply disagreeing about one item in the universe and may hold in common all other beliefs about the universe, which is not true of the atheist and the theist. Garvey argues that it is not a matter of the theist propounding existence of a thing and the atheist simply denying it – each is asserting an alternative explanation of why the cosmos exists and is the way it is: “the atheist is not just denying an existence that the theist affirms — the atheist is in addition committed to the view that the universe is not the way it is because of God. It is either the way it is because of something other than God, or there is no reason it is the way it is.”
One counter-argument, advanced by philosopher Eric Reitan, is that belief in God is different from belief in a teapot because teapots are physical and therefore in principle verifiable, and that given what we know about the physical world we have no good reason to think that belief in Russell’s teapot is justified and at least some reason to think it not.
Philosopher Paul Chamberlain says it is logically erroneous to assert that positive truth claims bear a burden of proof while negative truth claims do not. He says that all truth claims bear a burden of proof, and that like Mother Goose and the tooth fairy, the teapot bears the greater burden not because of its negativity but because of its triviality, arguing that “When we substitute normal, serious characters such as Plato, Nero, Winston Churchill, or George Washington in place of these fictional characters, it becomes clear that anyone denying the existence of these figures has a burden of proof equal to, or in some cases greater than, the person claiming they do exist.”
Since I have been critiquing John van Huizum’s articles (here-and-there), he came across as someone who took a position to comment on the “right[s] and wrong[s]” done in politics — just one example to make the point. In April of this year, John had an article entitled “About Correcting Mistakes.” In the article he uses words like “disaster,” “correct,” “imbalance,” and the like.
Or John’s “critique” of Sharia Law, and his asking if Christoper Hitchens was right. This makes no sense in light of the following article about Alan Watts, who really teaches that ethics have “no intrinsic value.”
My point being that while I may continue to critique John’s articles, know that whenever he accesses some behavior as wrong, or one that should be corrected — as in the political left and right — he is undermining his own case by a) not having an ontological or epistemological basis for his positions, and b) is proving the superiority of the Judeo-Christtian ethic over other views. In other words, me dealing with bad thinking is in futility, and john’s positions on a way politically, economically, or morally for someone to go is also in futility. Here is the article referencing Alan Watts:
(Click to enlarge)
I will give and example from my book, more specifically from my chapter on Eastern philosophy where I include a debate/discussion I had with a Zen-Buddhist apologist:
I wish to illustrate with a conversation (unfinished by the way) between myself and a Zen Buddhist. This conversation can almost happen with any religious Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or the like. The conversation takes place after an interesting post by the person on his blog about self-defense, the Dalai Lama, WWII, and the Buddha. I will post my reply to his original thought, and then he responds, followed again by me. (Keep in mind I am using our “blog” names, they are almost like “handles” like in the movie Top Gun):
My initial engagement
Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.) Curious.
They Call Him James Ure, responds
You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others. Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)
Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:
“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.
So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well. One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”
My Final Response
I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?
 I use quite liberally in this exchange two resources, they are as follows: Michael J. Murray, ed., Reason for the Hope Within, 212-214; and, Ernest Valea, “Possible difficulties in Buddhism,” Many Paths To One Goal? Found at: http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html (last accessed 8-11-09), the main site is: http://www.comparativereligion.com/index.html
 “One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329. “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings. These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes. See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.
So, even the act of “loving,” or love itself as expressed in concern, the well-being of others, and the like, are all illusory. Not only that, but these concepts all keep the believer in pantheistic religions captive to this delusion rather than getting out of the cursed “wheel of reincarnation.” The words John used are laden with ideas of a moral wrongs, as if there is a plum line in the universe in which John is accessing and thinks others should hear the Cthulhu siren call of and apply to their thinking as well. C.S. Lewis dealt with this well when he talked about his atheistic days:
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 does not 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 is not a water animal: a fish would not 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 simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist ~ in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found 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 that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.
You see, John is baking a cake and eating it too. He is espousing atheistic Buddhism in his life, but BORROWINGethical stance made only in the Judeo-Christian worldview (see exchange at Harvard during Q&A with students, to the right).
Put another way, I had a professor of philosophy who was herself Hindu, which has a similar view to Buddhistic ideas of Karma — since Buddhism was birthed from Hinduism. During the class time that dealt with “evil,” she concentrated almost exclusively on Christianity. I pointed out that other worldviews (atheism, pantheism, and the like) all have to deal with this problem. She responded that they do not. Odd. In a paper I wrote in response to this — after eviscerating her position in class — I point the follwing out, and in the below are examples I used in class with this double masters holding professor [actively] trying to get kids to reject Christianity in class. This response went through some “evolutions” to end in my seminary level paper I wrote, “New Age Pop Culture“:
Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking. All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists. The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.” Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion. This holds true for the personality of man as well. This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.
But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:
“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”
In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”
With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.” Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting. If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions. There’s a real problem here. As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.” When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite. The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition. It is an untruth – by definition.
Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation. I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term. Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”
Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma. When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat. This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all. In fact, it perpetuates evil. How so? It necessitates a “beatee,” which mandates a “beater.” Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.” In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices. This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them. This next true story drives this point home.
Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border. Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border. This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s. One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees. Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers. There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people. The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations. One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:
“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” - “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for. For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them. You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”
Do you get it now? It takes a “Mother Teresa”with a Christian worldviewto go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.
Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home. While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency. I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve. While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son. Should I call the authorities?? If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation. Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime. (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.) Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities. These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population. Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel. This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people. The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death.
Pain & Suffering
Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil. In fact He is the cause of it… remember, pantheists believe all is God. Pantheism may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is an illusion (maya), but let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world. Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a mother who just lost a child, that evil and suffering are merely illusions. Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real. In either case, evil exists. As Geisler asked, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion? Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?… How can evil arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?” The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.
Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion just doesn’t make sense. Mustn’t we live as if this illusion is reality? Pantheists may pawn this inane philosophy on people, but no one can live it out consistently. And when a large population tries, like in India, one can see the fruits it produces. The promulgation of suffering and the inability of the religious Hindu to stop and help a suffering child or the rampant infestation of disease spreading (crop eating) pests, etc., is all a loud explanation of trying to live an unlivable philosophical proposition.
I have debated many persons over the Internet that are pantheists that will laud the evils done by the Christian church. In these debates I point out that these persons are in fact using the Judeo-Christian moral absolutes in interpreting history and delineating between “good” and “bad.” For in Eastern thought, there is no “evil,” or “good.” If these people really believed it, they would come to realize there is no realgood or evil!
The inquisitions, for instance, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives – incarnations. The Christian church, then, would merely be an instrument in perfecting these person’s karmic lives. Therefore, when some here who are defending karmic destiny in other strains speak of the horrible atrocities committed by “religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death. The victims of the Inquisitions or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the worksthese people did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people like John (a believer in reincarnation) says that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind such people that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation teaches.
In addition, monistic philosophies provide no explanation for the diversity within creation. If “God is truly one,” the only reality, then diversity (all creation) is by definition part of the illusion of duality. That includes all morality, allhuman hopes and aspirations. In the end, despite having an infinite reference point, we are left with only a destructive nihilistic outlook on life. To think otherwise is to adopt or borrow portions of another worldview. As Charles Manson noted, “If all is one, what is bad?”
The desire of every Buddhist, for example, is to be free from the problems of life – to be free from pain and suffering. As the Buddhist saying goes, “As the water of the sea tastes of salt, so all life tastes of suffering.” Their goal is to develop a detachment from life. Buddha taught that desire is the root of all evil. To exist is to suffer! The answer to suffering is Nirvana (annihilation), which is achievable by successive reincarnation. Hence, Buddhism insists, “Those who love a hundred have a hundred woes. Those who love ten have ten woes. Those who love one have one woe. Those who love none have no woes.” The goal of life is to reach the stage of desirelessness. When one ceases to desire we have overcome the burden of life. How one is suppose to be desirelessness without desiring that quality is a problem few have any time (or desire?) to answer.
 Ted Honderich (editor), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford Univ; 1995), p. 641; “[T]he doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature,”Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Random House Inc, 1999), CD, see: Pantheist.
 Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, p. 241
Somantics: The Magazine/Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences, Autumn/Winter 1983-1984, p. 33.
 Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187.
 Debra Lardie, Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000), p. 218.; …“Proponents base their beliefs on the idea of karma, the Hindu concept of the force generated by the sum total of an individual’s actions, especially religious or ritual actions both good and bad. Hinduism teaches that the lives of people are an accumulation of both good and bad karma. The imbalance of this accumulation determines the circumstances for the next reincarnation life” (Ibid., pp. 218-219).
 Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), pp. 28-29.
 From a show seen by the author [me] a few years ago on The Learning Channel.
 Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1976), p. 187..
 Rabi R. Maharaj, Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977).
 From an on-line debate the author had. You could also include the deaths of innocent civilians in the currant Iraqi war… these innocents that died by a misplaced U. S. bomb deserved so due to a previous life choice. The critic of this war who is a New Age student of Eastern thought looses all power to criticize such “evil” acts.
To be clear… ethics [moral oughts and ought nots] finds no rest and peace in either atheism or Eastern thought
I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:
Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).
My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):
“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”
Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:
(h/t: TrueFreeThinker) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:
“Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.
That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.”
[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,
“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”☨
Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.
This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:
The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:
During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!
He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.
To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!
Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!
Atheist dogma™ not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma™ as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.
Any believer in atheist dogma™, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.
Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:
Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.
(h/t Debunking Atheists… led to getting the video) While I do not believe there is enmity between pre-suppositional and evidential apologetics (like the author of this DVD), I do recommend highly this presentation as a learning tool for how to evangelize. People are different and respond differently to evidences and logical presentations. One should always have the best of them in his quiver. Consider giving American Vision a look over. Much Thought. (Posted by: Religio-Political Talk)
Good back-and-forth at the end. Video Description:
Christian apologist Frank Turek (author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist) debates atheist spokesman David Silverman (president of the American Atheists) on the topic: Which offers a better explanation for reality–Theism or Atheism? This debate was held on April 18, 2013 at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA.
Silverman couldn’t quite keep up to Turek’s fast-talking and fast-thinking ways, except by trolling and constantly (and annoyingly) interrupting and filibustering Turek.
Turek, on the other hand, was quite patient with Silverman.
The Philosophy of Religion section of the Tyndale Fellowship hosted a one-day Conference in Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge on Saturday 14th July, 2012. The full title of the Conference was ‘Design in Nature? Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives’. This is the lecture given by Prof. Steve Fuller at that event.
William Lane Craig uses his opponents own words to prove naturalism is false. The full debate can be seen here, as well as my isolating the most amazing statement I have heard in such a debate, here. Video description for the above:
On February 1st, 2013 at Purdue University, Dr William Lane Craig participated in a debate with Dr Alex Rosenberg on the topic, “Is Faith In God Reasonable?” Over 5,000 people watched the event on the Purdue University campus along with tens of thousands streaming it live online from around the world. In this clip, Dr Craig responds to metaphysical naturalism which asserts that only physical things exist.
This 4-and-a-half-minute response during a debate ~ for my “Serious Saturday” post ~ is a great example of using an opponents words against them. Obviously, in regards to the debate between Dr. Craig and Dr. Rosenberg, this usage was a bit easier, but nonetheless, it shows that naturalism (atheism), as a worldview is self-deleting. That is, incoherent and provably false based on its OWN premises.
Thrive has removed the below video. I will post below it two other presentations on relativism by Greg Koukl, but I will hold out hope that the below video will emerge once again online for me to post… it was an updated version, if-you-will, of his UCLA presentation (which is the first video below the expunged one.
Much thought and blessings in your studies (to ALL who happen upon this older post)
Since present day Humanism vilifies Judeo-Christianity as backward, its goal to assure progress through education necessitates an effort to keep all mention of theism out of the classroom. Here we have the irony of twentieth century Humanism, a belief system recognized by the Supreme Court as a non-theistic religion, foisting upon society the unconstitutional prospect of establishment of a state-sanctioned non-theistic religion which legislates against the expression of a theistic one by arguing separation of church & state. To dwell here in more detail is beyond the scope of this article, but to close, here are some other considerations:
In the earlier spirit of cooperation with the Christian church the ethics or values of the faith were “borrowed” by the humanists. In their secular framework, however, denying the transcendent, they negated the theocentric foundation of those values, (the character of God), while attempting to retain the ethics. So it can be said that the Humanist, then, lives on “borrowed capital”. In describing this stuation, Francis Schaeffer observed that: “…the Humanist has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.” His meaning here is that while the Humanist may have noble ideals, there is no rational foundation for them. An anthropocentric view says that mankind is a “cosmic accident”; he comes from nothing, he goes to nothing, but in between he’s a being of supreme dignity. What the Humanist fails to face is that with no ultimate basis, his ideals, virtues and values are mere preferences, not principles. Judging by this standard of “no ultimate standard”, who is to say whose preferences are to be “dignified”, ultimately?
Logos Apologia made and edited this awesome video which demonstrates the scientific fact of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God’s existence. Over and over again, it has been demonstrated that science (contrary to popular stereotypes) is on the side of theists and not atheists. From Logos Apologia:
“Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore the universe has a cause.”
Why couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Because there was no nature and there were no natural forces ontologically prior to the Big Bang—nature itself was created at the Big Bang. That means the cause of the universe must be something beyond nature—something we would call supernatural. It also means that the supernatural cause of the universe must at least be:
✯ spaceless because it created space ✯ timeless because it created time ✯ immaterial because it created matter ✯ powerful because it created out of nothing ✯ intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed ✯ personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces don’t make choices).
I have been too busy as-of-late to keep up with “Concepts,” an article in a local small paper. This recent article did, however, peak my interest and awoke me from my slumber. (As usual, you can click the graphic to enlarge to be able to read the article if so desired [below].) Per John’s modus operandi he conflates separate issues and then makes his point at the end that has nothing to do with his previous points or set-up. I myself will jump around Mr. Huizum’s article a bit, clarifying and expanding [correcting mainly] his thoughts as space surely does not allow him but it does me.
Let’s jump into this statement and where I think John, as an atheist, puts all his cookies into the “science” bag, otherwise known as “scientism.”
✂ “To my knowledge, science has not yet discovered a purpose for the universe,…”
This is key (*Big Booming Voice w/Echo Effects*): science will NEVER find a purpose for the universe. “Purpose” — as such, is the area exclusively reserved to that of philosophy and theology, not science. From reading previous article’s by John, he seems to have a distorted view of epistemology and how one expresses “truth statements” with a coherent foundation/worldview. Let us define some words and concepts as we continue on our journey brought to us by “Concepts.”
Epistemology – “the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth.”
C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2002), 39.
What John seems to place as his “ultimate truth” is science. This view is commonly referred to as “scientism.” What is scientism, you ask?
Scientism constitutes the core of the naturalistic understanding of what constitutes knowledge, its epistemology. Wilfrid Sellars says that “in the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.”‘ Contemporary naturalists embrace either weak or strong scientism. According to the former, nonscientific fields are not worthless nor do they offer no intellectual results, but they are vastly inferior to science in their epistemic standing and do not merit full credence. According to the latter, unqualified cognitive value resides in science and in nothing else. Either way, naturalists are extremely skeptical of claims about reality that are not justified by scientific methods in the hard sciences.
William Lane Craig and Chad Meister, God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009), 35.
In another article scientism is explained as well as naturalism and the differences:
CODE ~ Accidental?
One gram of DNA – the weight of two Tylenol – can store the same amount of digitally encoded information as a hundred billion DVD’s. Yes, you read correctly, I said a hundredbillion DVD’s. Every single piece of information that exists on the Earth today; from every single library, from every single data base, from every single computer, could be stored in one beaker of DNA. This is the same DNA/Genetic Information/Self-Replication System that exists in humans and in bacteria (which are the simplest living organisms that exist today and have ever been known to exist). In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.
…scientism (an epistemological thesis) with naturalism (an ontological thesis). Scientism is the view that we should believe only what can be proven scientifically. In other words, science is the sole source of knowledge and the sole arbiter of truth. Naturalism is the view that physical events have only physical causes. In other words, miracles do not happen; there are no supernatural causes.
One should keep in mind that a coherent worldview answers at least four important questions about life that science (especially “scientism”) cannot, getting back to purpose. Ravi Zacharias makes accessible these questions by stating that a “coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny” (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil [Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, 1997], 219–220). Science can be used, and should be used, as a tool in making a reasonable case for purpose and meaning in life.
Science, then, is merely a handmaiden of these richer studies in life’s ultimate meaning, not the determining factor.
“Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science” (Edward Feser, Blinded by Scientism [March 9th, 2010]). Which is one reason that it is self refuting, because, it itself is a philosophical proposition ABOUT science while claiming not to be (Apologetics Study Bible). Which two philosophical naturalists admit in a moment of honesty:
Lewontin: “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Searle: “There is a sense in which materialism is the religion of our time, at least among most of the professional experts in the fields of philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and other disciplines that study the mind. Like most traditional religions, it is accepted without question and it provides the framework within which other questions can be posed, addressed, and answered.”
Again, the belief that science alone gives us knowledge is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one. This is no longer science, but the scientistic worldview of naturalism, which affirms that nature is all there is and that only science can give us knowledge. As the late astronomer Carl Sagan put it: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”Dawkins, like Sagan, speaks more as an amateur metaphysician than as a scientist.
I dealt a little with origins in a previous review of one of his articles in the past, but the point is that John places on science’s plate a proposition that it will never be able to answer. Maybe a Tennyson poem will assist in explaining to John the meaning of the universe without God:
In writing the poem, Tennyson was influenced by the ideas of evolution presented in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation which had been published in 1844, and had caused a storm of controversy about the theological implications of impersonal nature functioning without direct divine intervention. The fundamentalist idea of unquestioning belief in revealed truth taken from a literal interpretation of the Bible was already in conflict with the findings of science, and Tennyson expressed the difficulties evolution raised for faith in “the truths that never can be proved”.
Are God and Nature then at strife, That Nature lends such evil dreams? So careful of the type she seems, So careless of the single life;
That I, considering everywhere Her secret meaning in her deeds, And finding that of fifty seeds She often brings but one to bear,
I falter where I firmly trod, And falling with my weight of cares Upon the great world’s altar-stairs That slope thro’ darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope, And gather dust and chaff, and call To what I feel is Lord of all, And faintly trust the larger hope.
This poem was published before Charles Darwin made his theory public in 1859. However, the phrase “Nature, red in tooth and claw” in canto 56 quickly was adopted by others as a phrase that evokes the process of natural selection. It was and is used by both those opposed to and in favor of the theory of evolution. However, at the end of the poem, Tennyson emerges with his Christian faith reaffirmed, progressing from doubt and despair to faith and hope, a dominant theme also seen in his poem “Ulysses.”
If e’er when faith had fallen asleep, I hear a voice ‘believe no more’ And heard an ever-breaking shore That tumbled in the Godless deep;
A warmth within the breast would melt The freezing reason’s colder part, And like a man in wrath the heart Stood up and answer’d ‘I have felt.’
No, like a child in doubt and fear: But that blind clamour made me wise; Then was I as a child that cries, But, crying knows his father near;
Atheists themselves say that nothing matters in a universe without God giving it meaning:
Which leads me into another statement John makes near the end of the article, and, has in it a self-refuting statement of sorts. I will explain, John says:
✂ I do not think atheists are more or less happy than believers, so it is possible to live a useful life without a belief in a god. Scientists may not know what the purpose of the Universe is, but we the living find our own purpose for living, which is often just to help or be interested in others.
The mass murderer or tyrant may find his purpose in doing what he does. The rapist as well. Those actions we rightly abhor may be the ones that provide purpose or fulfillment in theirs. You see, John has no code that he can ascribe to himself and expect others to follow… outside of wish fulfillment that is.
He says that life’s meaning is “often just to help or be interested in others.” What a trite explanation of existence! Mussolini explains to John the related topic of relativism and John trying to impose HIS MEANING onto the masses, or think that the masses should agree with him when Tennyson so pointedly says that nature’s purpose is “red in tooth and claw” ~ here is another view that lines up more with John’s view rather than the Judeo-Christian ethic:
“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”
Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.
Again, let us see what another person who may understand the complexities of the issue a bit more than John shows us, and that is Malcolm Muggeridge (a British journalist, author, satirist, media personality, soldier-spy and, in his later years, a Catholic convert and writer), who said:
“If God is ‘dead,’ somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Heffner.”
Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 32.
I know John HOPES people see reality like he does, but he does not have a meta-narrative that is internally consistent to express to mankind the need to “help or be interested in others.” The Nazi’s thought they were doing this? Why are they wrong and John right? He has no epistemology that is internally consistent to help him ask these non-scientific questions. So while he can feel that the atheist can have a happy life, aside from this Epicurean goal, happiness is not synonymous with moral, or meaningful in the ultimate sense.
Epicurean ~ “Epicurus (341-271 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher who was born on the isle of Samos but lived much of his life in Athens, where he founded his very successful school of philosophy. He was influenced by the materialist Democritus (460-370 B.C.), who is the first philosopher known to believe that the world is made up of atoms…. Epicurus identified good with pleasure and evil with pain.” He equated using pleasure, diet, friends, and the like as “tools” for minimizing bad sensations or pain while increasing pleasure or hedonism.
Taken from Louise P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford Press, 2002), 499; taken from a chapter from my book dealing with homosexuality and natural law, footnote #42.
I will zero in on a point that John makes, but that is lost on him in his making an either/or distinction in the extremes.
✂ “If God created the natural laws and if God were omnipotent, I would have to assume that God could also destroy them or make them unworkable or eliminate them.”
True enough, but, we can ad a third understanding to John’s statement: He [God] could intervene from-time-to-time in nature. For example, the virgin birth. The miracle was in no way the development and birth of Jesus, the miracle was in the conception. God introduced unique genetic material to Mary’s womb. The Laws of Nature took over from there. There was a standard nine month pregnancy followed by a normal birth.
Lewis defines a miracle thus: “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power.” He describes the integration of miraculous intervention and the natural world in this way: “It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn’t. … If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. … The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern. … And they are sure that all reality must be interrelated and consistent.
Now, I think John also confuses some laws that he uses all the time. The Law of Morality for instance.
John Huizum has complained about the evils done in the name of religion in the past, and so posits a “law” that he expects others to see and adhere to, namely, murder in the name of God is morally, or absolutely wrong. However, in the naturalist view of the world, evil is not absolutely wrong… just currently taboo.
Books like, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997), and, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual (Coercion Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), make the point that rape — for instance — was a tool of survival in our evolutionary past, and so not “morally wrong” in any absolute sense. Not morally wrong because it aided the only real principle of nature, survival. If not absolutely wrong in the past, than theoretically rape is useful for our survival in the future. A position taken by Islamists in some part of our world surely.
Here are three short examples by atheists themselves making my point… er… really their point:
Atheist Dan Barker Says “Child Rape Is Morally Okay”
Richard Dawkins Says Rape Is Morally Arbitrary!
Evolution and the Meaning of Life
You see, who can REALLY say Hitler was wrong? “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question” ~ Richard Dawkins. Ahh, no its not. Granted, it is for the person (John) who looks to nature alone for meaning, and his HOPE is that others see his view of life.
But this “hope” wasn’t the basis for important decisions in our nations history, thank God! Like the writing of the Constitution for instance, written in the language of Natural Law, or in the Nuremberg Trials. A great example for what we are talking about here. At the Nuremburg trials, when the judges/magistrates from Germany were being defended, one of the strongest arguments was that they were operating according to the law of their own land (cultural relativism). To that, a legitimate counter-question was raised, “But is there not a law above our laws?” John Warwick Montgomery, in his book The Law Above The Law, describes their argument:
“The most telling defense offered by the accused was that they had simply followed orders or made decisions within the framework of their own legal system, in complete consistency with it, and that they therefore ought not rightly be condemned because they deviated from the alien value system of their conquerors” (John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law [Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1975], 24.)
Nevertheless, the tribunal did not accept this justification. In the words of Robert H. Jackson, chief counsel for the United States at the trials, the issue was not one of power – the victor judging the vanquished – but one of higher moral law. Mr. Huizum has no foundational ethic or moral to make life meaningful in this ultimate sense. Which is the inclusion that real justice truly exists.
Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness.
So far from John not seeing “the God-factor expressed in any law of nature he is aware of,” the Laws of Logic, the Moral Laws, Mathematics, and the like are glimpses into the “God-Factor.” Whether John admits to this or simply defines the proposition out of being considered (see below) is his convoluted lot in life of competing/self-refuting propositions guided by a metaphysical assumption about reality… not mine.
Professor: “Miracles are impossible Sean, don’t you know science has disproven them, how could you believe in them [i.e., answered prayer, a man being raised from the dead, etc.].”
Student: “for clarity purposes I wish to get some definitions straight. Would it be fair to say that science is generally defined as ‘the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us’?”
Professor: “Beautifully put, that is the basic definition of science in every text-book I read through my Doctoral journey.”
Student: “Wouldn’t you also say that a good definition of a miracle would be ‘and event in nature caused by something outside of nature’?”
Professor: “Yes, that would be an acceptable definition of ‘miracle.’”
Student: “But since you do not believe that anything outside of nature exists [materialism, dialectical materialism, empiricism, existentialism, naturalism, and humanism – whatever you wish to call it], you are ‘forced’ to conclude that miracles are impossible”
Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 2001), 63-64.
This leads me to my final correction of some bad thinking on John’s part. When he says, “No scientific formula ever needed an asterisk or a caveat that said ‘God willing,’” the asterick merely precedes the formula and is next to the word “science.” Without the Judeo-Christian metaphysic, science would not be possible:
…as Whitehead pointed out, it is no coincidence that science sprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from the Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heart of the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and dropping objects from towers if the reality and value and order of things had not first been conferred by belief in the Incarnation. (Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos)
To the popular mind, science is completely inimical to religion: science embraces facts and evidence while religion professes blind faith. Like many simplistic popular notions, this view is mistaken. Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity…
Again, Mr. Huizum seems to have strayed — as usual — far away from rational inferences based on a good understanding of the issues, rooted in history, easily accessible to him. Again, he just opines in the hope that others will dote over his “wisdom.” Not me, someone has to keep him honest.
Biased: I Often Times have my own interests and personal beliefs in mind when talking to others, spiritually or politically (Proverbs 16:2 & 21:2; Matthew 15:16-20; 1 Samuel 16:7); Fallen: I am a sinner and tend towards ~ naturally ~ what is not best for me or others. In other words, I will probably let you down (Romans 3:10 & 3:19-20, 23; Leviticus 5:17; Isaiah 64:6; Galatians 5:17); Sentenced: since I tend towards rebellion and selfishness, I am judged accordingly and righteously (Romans 5:12; 6:23[a]; Job 36:6; Hebrews 9:27); Forgiven: I am justified before God not through works but by faith (Galatians 2:16; Romans 6:23[b]; Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 2:8-9); Relational:mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely do not deserve (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 1:5; Jeremiah 15:19[a]; Isaiah 48:10; Job 23:10); Joyous: for these reasons, I rejoice, greatly! (Psalm 40:16; Psalm 30:5; Isaiah 12:1-6; Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:4-5[a]). [Important Note: I do not make any money off this blog]
Some Questions About Evolution that Should Be Exhumed
The Chinese were prodigious historians, crafting their language to draw scenes from history, and then combing these pictures into more complex ideas. These offer great apologetic evidences for the Genesis account of history, separate from the Bible.