What happens after we die? Does everything just end? Or, is there something that comes after this life? Who hasn’t asked themselves these questions? In this compelling video, Dennis Prager deals with the issue of the afterlife head on.
Pastor Todd of Crossroads Community Church deals with a very tough theological thorn of free-will and God’s sovereignty. Yes. I have believed this for years and consider it somewhat of a mystery, just like the Trinity. I added some graphics (Scripture verses read) for the casual viewer so they can follow along with Todd. As an unimportant aside, the first time Scripture explicitly mentions Pharaoh hardening his heart is in Exodus 8:15.
Here are two quotes that came to mind during the sermon:
We ARE programmed to believe one way and through the creative power (and infinite genius) of God, get to choose this natural tendency or to cover it up with our sinful, selfish nature that Romans 1 alludes to by numbing our faculties with an whole array of options.
What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.
Blaise Pascal (Pensees 10.148)
Before continuing I just want to make a point, none of them by myself but brought here to review by myself. It has to do with merely assuming the evolutionist position, if true, makes theism true and atheism anathema to the survival of the species. For instance, Patricia Churchland notes what the brains primary chore is:
- The principle chore of brains is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.
And this is the main point… okay… if I assume evolution is true, then, out of the choices of “religion” and “non-religion” — which of the two provide a better survival rate of the species? To wit:
While I am not a fan of Charisma… as of late they have posted a few good articles. This being one of them:
Remember, there was much discussion about destroying or harming parts of the brain that decrease belief in God:
I also posit that person’s who use illicit drugs, such as marijuana, are less likely to believe in the Judeo-Christian God due to deterioration/destruction of sections of the brain. Parts of the brain most affected are memory and cognitive or parts of the brain that use logic and reason). Whereas, it seems, we see that a healthy brain is ready to receive faith:
This supports another study of Japanese kids raised with no thoughts of a monotheistic God
I often hear atheists exude confidence in natural selection and evolution and all that it entails. However, when natural belief in God emerges… they reject this as fantasy rather than a superior survival mechanism. It is important to understand that I am not arguing for evolution but showing that it is self-referentially false:
- NOTE: if you believe in evolution and are an atheist, you would root for and support neo-Darwinian evolutionary “natural selection” in choosing religious belief as superior to that of non-belief!
In a debate during the Q&A session between a theist and atheist/evolutionist, a student asked this great question… and while he did not have the answer to Dr. Pigliucci’s challenge, I do:
Another aspect that shows the increased natural selective nature of belief and longevity (the opportunity to leave more offspring) is tha positive influence of religion:
Social Sciences Agree
~ Religious More “Fit” ~
Via my post on family values: A Family Values [Atheist] Mantra Dissected: Nominal vs. Committed
(Also see 52 Reasons To Go To Church) These indicators are also mentions in a Heritage Foundation article, “Why Religion Matters: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability“
- The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
- Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
- The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
- Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
- Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
- The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
- In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
- Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.
So we can see that the above are important factors in a healthy, stable, family which would have the highest percentage or chance in a family situation to create “family values.” What about divorce rates and the 2009 data. This is dealt with well at Christian Action League, and shows how Barna and the Government can miss-categorize whole swaths of people and their affiliations:
…Wright did his own research using the General Social Survey; a huge study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that folks who identify as Christians but rarely attend church have a divorce rate of 60 percent compared to 38 percent among people who attend church regularly. More generally, he found that Christians, similar to adherents of other traditional faiths, have a divorce rate of 42 percent compared with 50 percent among those without a religious affiliation.
And his is not the only research that is showing a link between strong faith and increased marriage stability.
University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, concluded that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce than are those with no faith affiliation. He used the National Survey of Families and Households to make his analysis.
Glenn Stanton, the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., has been writing articles to spread the truth about the lower divorce rate among practicing Christians.
“Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates that mere church members, the general public and unbelievers,” Stanton wrote in the Baptist Press early this year.
At issue in Barna’s studies is how he defined “Christian” and to what other groups he compared the “Christian” divorce rate. Apparently, his study compared what he termed “born-again” Christians — those who described their faith in terms of “personal commitment,” “accept as savior” and other evangelical, born-again language to three other groups, which included self-identified Christians who do not describe their faith with those terms, members of other, non-Christian religions and people of no religious beliefs.
Because his second group would have included many Catholics and mainline Protestants, Wright points out that Barna was, in many ways, “comparing Christians against Christians.” No wonder the rates were similar….
In USA Today, David Kinnaman, Barna’s president, said that “the statistical differences reflect varied approaches, with Wright looking more at attendance and his research firm dwelling on theological commitments.” Duh! The bottom line seems to be that the more seriously couples take their faith, the less likely they are to get a divorce. That seems like a self-evident truth, but it appears there is also evidence for it. In other words, this is a nominal, vs. committed Christian vs. secular person battle.
I can go on-and-on, but lets shorten what we have learned, and it all revolves around this:
- “There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life.”
I realize that much of this can be classified broadly as “The Ecological Fallacy” — but it is an amassing of stats to show that in fact the committed Christian understands the totality of “family values” and commits to them more than the secular person.
1a) Those who attend church more are to be found in the Republican Party;
1b) Those who do not, the Democratic Party;
2a) Those in the Republican Party donate much more to charitable causes;
2b) Those in the Democratic Party, are much more stingy;
3a) Republicans earn less and give more;
3b) Democrats earn more and give less;
4a) Conservative Christians and Jews (people who believe in Heaven and Hell) commit less crimes;
4b) Liberal religious persons (universalists) have a higher rate of crime;
5a) Regular church attendees have a lower drug use rate;
5b) Irreligious persons have a higher rate;
6a) Moral “oughts” are answered in Christian theism (one “ought” not rape because it is absolutely, morally wrong);
6b) Moral “oughts” are merely current consensus of the most individuals, there is no absolute moral statement that can be made about rape;
7a) Republicans are happier than Democrats;
7b) Democrats are more depressed;
8a) The sex lives of married, religious persons is better/more fulfilling — sex is being shown to be a “religious” experience after-all;
8b) The sex lives of the irreligious person is less fulfilling;
9a) The conservative is more likely to reach orgasm [conservative woman I assume];
9b) The liberal woman is not;
10a) They are less likely to sleep around, which would also indicate lower STDs;
10b Democrats are more likely to have STDs through having more sex partners;
11a) Republicans are less likely (slightly, but this is so because of the committed Christians in the larger demographic) to have extra-marital affairs;
11b) Democrats more likely;
12a) Republicans over the last three decades have been reproducing more…
12b) Democrats abort more often and have less children through educational/career decisions
13a) Christians are more likely to have children and impact the world;
13b) Skeptics replace family with pleasure and travel.
Just to temper the first point of the three via the above video, I wanted to add these explanations of Biblical patriarchy and the male/female relationship by Nora Hale:
- God does not have a gender. He is neither male nor female. Gender is a biological characteristic, and God is not a biological being. God is Spirit (John 4:24), and spirit does not have flesh and blood (Luke 24:39). However, in the Bible God is always referred to in the masculine. This is most probably because of how God “the Father” relates to Jesus, who is the Son of God. He was born a male, and in the Biblical culture the male is the one who represents his descendants (1 Cor. 15:22) and has the authority in the family (Gen. 27:1-29, 48:13-14). When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, Eve sinned first, but sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12). This means it was the man Adam who possessed representative authority, not Eve. This phenomena is called Federal Headship…. (CARM)
Christianity Today explains well the main idea with this topic. While they have an excellent article as a whole, this doctrine of offices withing the Trinity and how we should revere these distinctions in the Godhead are what made the Jewish survival possible. Most ancient Near-East views of creation and of their sustenance were through fertility goddesses:
Apologetic Press (AP) goes on to quote CS Lewis’ excellent understanding of the larger idea at stake here. AP then quotes Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli book…. which I will include the entire section of after this quote:
Here is the fuller quote via Kreeft & Tacelli:
Below will be a couple theological expansions of this thinking on a level of the seminarian. Enjoy the input as I have:
- “Atheism is a disease of the soul before it is an error of the mind.” ~ Plato
- “Belief in God was reduced almost by a third, while participants became 28.5 per cent less bothered by immigration numbers.”
The articles author continues:
Can’t you see it now… re-education camps with MRI machines removing God and conservative values from people with a magnetic lobotomy. Every progressives dream.
This really should be combined with the excellent video at Prager University, “Is Evil Rational.” Great points. Love the deeper thoughts in my ear piece as I am tooling around the warehouse at my work.
For more clear thinking like this from Dennis Prager… I invite you to visit:
The following comes from the best biographical look at Einstein and religion:
[p. 90>] When the Northwestern Regional Conference of the American Association of Theological Schools convened at the Theological Seminary in Princeton in May 1939, one of the few nontheologians invited to address the meeting was Einstein. The mimeographed transcripts of his lecture carried the title “The Goal.” 34 Einstein began his talk by recalling that in the last century it was widely held that scientific knowledge and religious belief conflict with each other and that the prevailing trend “among advanced minds” was to replace belief with knowledge. The function of education was therefore confined to the development of rational thinking and knowing. Although “the aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capable… knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations.” Scientific thinking alone, Einstein continued, cannot lead us to the ultimate and fundamental purpose of our existence.
To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man. And if one asks whence derives the authority of such fundamental ends, since they cannot be [p. 91>] stated and justified merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgments of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly. The highest principles for our aspirations and judgments are given to us in the Jewish-Christian religious tradition. It is a very high goal, which, with our weak powers, we can reach only very inadequately, but which gives us a sure foundation to our aspirations and valuations.
Compared with his 1930 essay, this talk had a much more reserved tone and its ideas were acceptable even to orthodox theologians. It should be noted, however, that the topic of Einstein’s 1930 essay differs distinctly from that of his 1939 talk; while the former dealt mainly with the origin and nature of religious beliefs, the latter deals almost exclusively with questions related to the purpose and goal of our life, a subject on which agreement is more easily attainable than on the nature of religion. In fact, Einstein’s 1939 talk was sympathetically received by almost all participants of the conference.
This was probably one of the reasons that Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, a prominent religious leader, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and member of the organizing committee of the “Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion,” scheduled to convene on Sep-[p. 92>] tember 9-11, 1940, at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, thought it appropriate to invite Einstein to address this conference as well. Einstein agreed to write an essay, “Science and Religion,” to be read at this conference.35 Neither he nor Finkelstein anticipated the serious controversies and harsh acrimonies that this essay would evoke.
Einstein agreed, not only out of respect for a distinguished leader of liberal Judaism but also because of his well-known magnanimity to respond to all requests he thought to be ingenuous. Thus, in 1936 when Phyllis Wright, a sixth-grade student in the Sunday school of the Riverside Church in New York, asked whether scientists pray and, if they do, what they pray for, he gave a reply that can serve as an introduction to his essay for the 1940 conference.
“Scientific research is based on the assumption that all events, including the actions of mankind, are determined by the laws of nature. Therefore, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, that is, by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being. However, we have to admit that our actual knowledge of these laws is only an incomplete piece of work (unvollkommenes Stuck-werk), so that ultimately the belief in the existence of fundamental all-embracing laws also rests on a sort of faith. All the same, this faith has been largely justified [p. 93>] by the success of science. On the other hand, however, everyone who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. The pursuit of science leads therefore to a religious feeling of a special kind, which differs essentially from the religiosity of more naive people. With friendly greetings, your Albert Einstein.”36
EINSTEIN’S CONTRIBUTION to the 1940 conference was presented to an audience of over five hundred participants. The article begins with the question of what, precisely, we understand by science and by religion. Science, says Einstein, can easily be defined as “the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of existence by the process of conceptualization”; but to define religion is a much more difficult task. We can reach this definition by inquiring first what characterizes the aspirations of a religious person. “A person who is religiously enlightened,” says Einstein, “appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value.” What is important, according to Einstein, is “the force of this super-personal content…. regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being.” From these presuppositions, Einstein then derived the definition [p. 94>] of religion as “the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect.”
These definitions enabled Einstein to repeat what he had already said in his essay, “The Goal,” namely, that because science ascertains only what is, but not what should be, no conflict between the two can exist. Only intervention on the part of religion into the realm of science—if, for example, a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements in the Bible—can give rise to conflict, as has been the case in the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo or Darwin. Even though the realms of religion and science are distinctly marked off from each other, strong reciprocal relations exist between the two. Though religion determines the goal, science, in its broadest sense, shows the means for attaining this goal. However, “science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion…. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Had this statement been the final conclusion, the article probably would have been acclaimed by all the participants. But Einstein qualified his statements about the compatibility of religion and science “with reference to the actual content of historical religions.” “This qualification,” he continued, “has to do with the concept of God.” He then mentioned, though more briefly than in his 1930 essay, his theory of the three stages in the evolution of religion and the concept of God and declared that “the main source of [p. 95>] the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God.” Although he conceded that the doctrine of a personal God could never be refuted, because such a doctrine could always take refuge where science has not yet been able to gain a foothold, he called such a procedure
not only unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. In this sense I believe that the priest must become a teacher if he wishes to do justice to his lofty educational mission.
Some background is necessary to assess correctly the reaction that this article—in particular, its denial of a personal God—evoked among the theologians attending the conference and the wider public. Einstein did not anticipate that the denial of a personal God would be misinterpreted as the denial of God. That such a misinterpretation was not uncommon can be gathered from a 1945 encyclopedia of religion that defined the term “atheism” as “the denial that there exists a being corresponding to some particular definition of god; frequently, but unfortunately, [p. 96>] used to denote the denial of God as personal.”37 That Einstein was neither an atheist nor an agnostic—certainly not in the usual sense of the term coined in 1869 by Thomas Henry Huxley—follows not only from Einstein’s above-mentioned statements concerning his cosmic religion but also from statements made by all those with whom he had intimate discussions about his religious conviction. Thus, for example, his close friend Max Born once remarked, “he [Einstein] had no belief in the Church, but did not think that religious faith was a sign of stupidity, nor unbelief a sign of intelligence.”38 David Ben-Gurion—who visited Einstein in Princeton a year before inviting him to become President of Israel—recalled that, when discussing religion, “even he [Einstein], with his great formula about energy and mass, agreed that there must be something behind the energy.”39 With respect to religion, Ben-Gurion and Einstein had much in common. Like Einstein, Ben-Gurion was an ardent admirer of Spinoza. He also declared his belief “that there must be a being, intangible, indefinable, even unimaginable, but something infinitely superior to all we know and are capable of conceiving,”40 a belief not much different from Einstein’s belief in the impersonal God of his cosmic religion.
At a charity dinner in New York, Einstein explicitly dissociated himself from atheism when he spoke with the German anti-Nazi diplomat and author Hubertus zu Lowen-[p. 97>]stein: “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”41
 A. Einstein, “The Goal,” lecture delivered 19 May 1939, Ideas and Opinions, pp. 41-44; Out of My Later Years, pp. 25-28.
 A. Einstein, “Science and Religion,” Transactions of the First Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life (New York, 1941); Ideas and Opinions, pp. 44-49; Out of My Later Years, pp. 28-33; Nature 146 (1940): 605-607.
 Einstein to P. Wright, 24 January 1936. Einstein Archive, reel 52-337.
 V. Ferm, ed., An Encyclopedia of Religion (Philosophical Library, New York, 1945), p. 44.
 Born—Einstein Letters p. 203.
 M. Pearlman, Ben Gurion Looks Back (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1965), p. 217.
 Ibid., p. 216.
 Prinz Hubertus zu Lowenstein, Towards the Further Shore (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156.
Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 90-97.
Another good read on this can be found at Evidence for God. Similkarly, a common challenge that includes the same categorical mistake has to do with “Can God make a rock soo big He cannot lift it?” Go to a previous post of mine where a paper, a video, and my Power Point presentation on the matter are.
The Signs of God’s Existence is an interesting high quality documentary that explains in an intellectual way why it is logical to believe in God. This documentary gives some good rational answers and food for thought.
Ironically, Samuel Adams was possibly the most markedly devout Christian among the Founding Fathers.