DENVER, CO—At a Friday local chapter meeting of anti-religion group Atheist Friends United, skeptic and freethinker Michelle Newberry reportedly delivered a powerful, inspiring testimony, recounting her journey from hoping in God to finally realizing that she is nothing but a carbon-based cosmic accident whose existence is of utterly zero consequence.
“At one time, I foolishly believed I was here for a reason, that there was a higher purpose and plan for me in the midst of joy and even suffering,” Newberry told her fellow atheist and agnostic brothers and sisters in the entirely non-religious meeting. “I am humbled and so grateful that I finally came to believe the soul-crushing idea that my existence is a complete accident with absolutely no ultimate meaning.”
Witnesses say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Newberry thoughtfully told the touching story of how she finally “saw the light,” when she realized at long last that her existence is the result of an impossibly complex series of inexplicable, incalculable errors, and that she is nothing but a carbon robot devoid of any hope or meaning, barreling toward the absolute nothingness whence she originated.
“I’m here as a witness to the power of atheism—the only reasonable worldview,” she declared. “Things like right and wrong, love and beauty, passion and empathy, ecstasy and heartbreak—these are but leftover, superfluous, physiological baggage from our completely naturalistic journey to being. They don’t mean anything.”
…the group was ecstatic to learn that four new converts were won over to the idea that life is meaningless.
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. 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.”
…Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation’s final law Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw With ravine, shriek’d against his creed…
…So runs my dream, but what am I? An infant crying in the night An infant crying for the light And with no language but a cry…
…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:
E X H I B I T ~ A
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.
“Some unfortunate humans—perhaps because they have suffered brain damage—are not rational agents. What are we to say about them? The natural conclusion, according to the doctrine we are considering, would be that their status is that of mere animals. And perhaps we should go on to conclude that they may be used as non-human animals are used—perhaps as laboratory subjects, or as food.”
James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 186.
Um, in other words, the evolutionist has no way to say that the mentally ill cannot be made into chum/food, or NAZI like experiments.
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: The Last Self-Help Book)
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.
…and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
“Yet not I.” That is to say, not in mine own person, nor in mine own substance. Here he plainly showeth by what means he liveth; and he teacheth what true Christian righteousness is, namely, that righteousness whereby Christ liveth in us, and not that which is in our own person. And here Christ and my conscience must become one body, so that nothing remain in my sight but Christ crucified, and raised from the dead. But if I behold myself only, and set Christ aside, I am gone. For Christ being lost, there is no counsel nor succour, but certain desperation and destruction must follow.
The following story starts will quote first Breitbart, following it will be a portion of an article (and audio) from an NPR piece.
(Breitbart) National Public Radio aired a remarkable interview on Sunday’s Weekend Edition with Allan Edwards, a Presbyterian pastor who is gay, yet lives a heterosexual life. Torn between his sexuality and his faith, he chose his faith–without trying to “convert” his attraction to men, and without trying to change his religion to fit his personal preferences. The conversation between NPR’s Weekend Edition and Edwards–and his wife–sheds light on an often overlooked constituency in the debate over gay marriage.
Edwards explains that he began to realize he was attracted to men during his teenage years, at the same time he was active in his church youth movement. He realized immediately that there was a conflict between his sexuality and his faith, and tried to find a justification in the Bible for living a gay life as a Christian. He could not, he says–and so he chose to live a heterosexual life, in accordance with the teachings of his church. He does not deny his gay sexuality, but does not act on those feelings, he says.
In that way, Edwards says, he is no different than anyone else. Everyone, he says, experiences some kinds of forbidden desire, or a sense of discontentment with their lives, and they have to adjust their behavior to their values and goals. He and his wife have a sexual relationship, despite his attraction to men, and they are expecting their first child. He is reluctant to judge others, but when pressed by Montaigne, says that he believes those who try to adjust Christianity to accept same-sex marriage are “in error.”
He acknowledges that others might call his lifestyle one of suppression–one that is doomed to divorce or suicide. He disagrees, and says that his relationship with God comes before other parts of his identity, including his sexuality….
How did this young man come to find his identity within the Christian faith? Simple, if Jesus is who He claims to be, then he [pastor Edwards… and we/us] should believe what Jesus believes. Simple:
...The Traded Life
Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He’s attracted to men, but considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.
“I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?” he says. “So for me, it’s not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am.”
Where he is now is married. He and his wife, Leanne Edwards, are joyfully expecting a baby in July.
He didn’t understand how he could resolve his feelings, he says, and had little support from his friends. “I didn’t know anyone else who experienced same-sex attractions, so I didn’t talk about it much at all,” Allan says.
But at a small, Christian liberal arts college, he did start talking.
“My expectation was, if I started talking to other guys about this, I’m going to get ostracized and lambasted,” Allan says. “I actually had the exact opposite experience … I actually was received with a lot of love, grace, charity: some confusion, but openness to dialogue.”
Allan considered following a Christian denomination that accepts gay relationships, but his interpretation of the Bible wouldn’t allow it, he says.
“I studied different methods of reading the scripture and it all came down to this: Jesus accepts the rest of the scripture as divined from God,” he says. “So if Jesus is who he says he is, then we kind of have to believe what he believes.”
In other words, Christ’s claims and later His backing his claim with the Resurrection should make any one WANT to thank his/her creator by worshiping Him in obedience for the work done for each of us on Calvary. Pastor Edwards is building riches in his heavenly home in his obedience.
Wesley Hill, who is a scholar of New Testament studies and happens to be an openly gay Christian. He says the Bible makes it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, subjects himself to the will of the Lamb… not subjecting the Lamb to his will:
Now… I would be remiss to note as well that there are many people who once were gay, but through Christ’s redeeming power they no longer identify as homosexual. There is a play list of some testimony in this regard at Theology, Philosophy and Science’s YouTube Channel: Ex-Gay People.
The above testimonies and viewpoints add to a previous upload of mine a while back with three church leaders talking about this same-sex attraction but duty to God ~ and it is this duty to God that gives a new identity (a “new man” if you will):
The three men in the above interview (see below) have a powerful testimony to God working in their lives. They take Scripture serious and share their struggles openly and honestly in this interview by Justin Brierley of Premier Christian Radio for his show, “Unbelievable” (http://tinyurl.com/d2sgjrz). This interview and some other recent insights via Stand to Reason and Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, has me evolving and honing my apologetic on this more and more (See #4 of my cumulative case: http://tinyurl.com/acqhcfv).
▼ Sean Doherty is associate minister at St Francis, Dalgarno Way in London and teaches theology at St Mellitus College; ▼ Sam Allberry is associate minister at St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead; ▼ Ed Shaw is part of the leadership of Emmanuel Church, Bristol.
This is the larger interview of which I isolated Sean Doherty’s portion here.
And Savi Hensman of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Anglican blogger Peter Ould debate the issues in the interview.
Here I am adding a video by First Things, and it is a short talk about a woman who is gay but has chosen to live towards truth. While I am not a Catholic, I am an admirer of people who sacrifice for the faith:
Eve Tushnet is a lesbian and celibate Catholic freelance writer. She studied philosophy at Yale University, where she was received into the Catholic Church in 1998. She writes from D.C., and has been published in (among others) Commonweal, First Things, The National Catholic Register, National Review, and The Washington Blade. Eve blogs at Patheos.com.
And one of the most important presentations delineating the issue of “can a Christian be a homosexual?” is by Dr. William Lane Craig (see also his article, “Christian Homosexuals?“):
Dennis Prager brings the listener on a look into the Left’s proclivity to censor, demand identical thought (politically correct thought… not even actions), to teach children to censor historically religious practices “once” Constitutional (like singing “Silent Night” in school), to forcing a baker to bake a cake in lieu of jail time. Prager ends with Woody Allen’s “despair” that is demanded of the non-God view (atheism). I include not only video of what Dennis’ producer was sampling audio from [Woody], but I include the entirety of the question and response to/from Woody Allen at the end of the Prager bit.
A bit long, but well-worth it… especially for some commentary on the Woody piece. Woody Allen references some of the classical thinkers on the issue, hear more of them talk about the reality of their non-faith here: http://vimeo.com/27609417