A Secular Defense of REAL Faith

 

Beware – I would say to believers – the patronage of unbelievers

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This author rails against the notion that because faith has social benefits, believers shouldn’t worry about the truth of what they believe. While I disagree on many points, I appreciate his candor. He warns us against unbelievers speaking glibly about the social benefits of religion without addressing the truth of the claims. And even though this may feel good, believers should beware of it as well. Useful lies are still lies. And truth is truth even if it doesn’t appear victorious in the moment.

“One of the reasons we can be pretty sure Jesus actually existed is that if He had not, the Church would never have invented Him. He stands so passionately, resolutely and inconveniently against everything an established church stands for. Continuity? Tradition? Christ had nothing to do with stability. He came to break up families, to smash routines, to cast aside the human superstructures, to teach abandonment of earthly concerns and a throwing of ourselves upon God’s mercy.”

And again

“As I get older the sharpness of my faculties begins to dull. But what I will not do is sink into a mellow blur of acceptance of the things I railed against in my youth. ‘Familiar’ be damned. ‘Comforting’ be damned. ‘Useful’ be damned. Is it true? — that is the question. It was the question when I was 12 and the question when I was 22. Forty years later it is still the question. It is the only question.”

 

Source: Beware – I would say to believers – the patronage of unbelievers | The Spectator

What’s Wrong With Teaching 9 Year Olds To Murder?

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I recently watched the movie “The Beasts of No Nation” on Netflix. The movie was recommended on several critic top movie lists and so I was lured in. The film is about child soldiers in Africa. It is extremely violent, very graphic, and vulgar language seeps throughout the script like water from a clogged toilet. It is absolutely not for children, and in general I cannot recommend it. I had to turn my eyes away several times. For instance there is a scene in which a child is pressured to kill an unarmed prisoner with a machete while he begs for mercy.  It frustrates me when directors make movies this way. There seems to be a loss of subtlety and no concern for the imagination of the audience.

Why would the film’s creators make the movie this way? Why would they produce a film with so much gore and graphic bloodshed? I do have a little sympathy in this case because I think they were trying to reveal something of the depravity of a situation that has been hidden out of site. They were trying to open the door for the rest of the world to see what is actually happening. Simply put, armies in Africa are recruiting orphans to become members of death squads.

I spend a lot of time in my life thinking about morality and ethics. Movies like this can be a challenge for Christians because it brings up the problem of evil. How could a good God allow such things? And in my opinion this is an important question that has compelling answers. My intent is not to provide answers here, but to suggest that the people that use such questions to dismiss Christianity need to provide an explanation as well.  In my experience people of faith are the only ones that blush when faced with such questions.   But they shouldn’t be.

The atheist that uses the problem of evil to undermine Christianity (or any other religion) is also in a difficult spot. In order to shoot at theists like this he has to walk out on the quicksand. I say this because they have to assume that evil actually exists in order to use it as an argument against God. Then after they “win” the argument and the embarrassed Christian goes home, the honest atheist must face the world he has tried to articulate. It is a world in which there is no consistent reason to believe in the existence of good or evil as anything other than a cultural construct. That means that good an evil don’t really exist in the world. They are a matter of human perception much like our hatred of brussel sprouts.

I don’t mean to suggest that atheists don’t really believe in good and evil. They do. In fact they get angry if you suggest that there is any problem with their morality.  Further, they behave in ways that are often moral and virtuous, and I applaud this. I don’t mean to imply that every atheist is a monster. My point here is more subtle. At the risk of over simplifying things (I realize there is a broad spectrum of beliefs out there), the atheist narrative provides no compelling reason to believe in the existence of evil. It says there is nothing but matter in the universe. We are nothing more than complex systems of electrons colliding according to the laws of physics. From the standpoint of physics, the murder of children is no different from the killing of a rhino or a rose bush.  Just matter in motion.  A world without an absolute, immaterial standard of ethics provides a weak protest against the kind of evil in the “Beasts of No Nation.”

I remember my first day of college chemistry class.  My professor stood up and pointed to the periodic table of elements on the wall. He said, “Everything that exists is on that table. Can anyone name anything that exists that is not on that table?” The class was silent (except for me).  But if he is right, then our actions are just a bunch of chemical reactions from the periodic table. Our thoughts are just the chemical depolarization of neurons in the brain. This is true for all thoughts. Bloodthirsty ones as much as altruistic ones.  Evil and good are the same thing: matter in motion. Nothing more than that. And when we logically analyze the common atheist protests against injustice (things like wealth inequality, rape culture, or the recruitment of children into death squads) the logic sounds a lot like, “I don’t like it,” or “we don’t like it.”  Or maybe, “the brain isn’t wired to work that way.” Which of course is not true, the brains of those child soldiers and their recruiters definitely ARE wired that way. But that point aside, for a system of ethics to be meaningful it must provide a compelling reason for people to live in a certain way. It must tell the bad person why they MUST not be bad. It must tell the person that wants to rebel against the moral conventions of our society why they MUST conform.  What in the universe compels the killer not to kill? Especially when the darker dimensions of human psychology and culture seem to be compelling them to kill and rewarding them for it?

The movie was obviously intended to create outrage. And that is exactly what it has done. There is nothing quite like staring directly in the face of evil at close range to bring out our inner moralist. How could anyone teach children to be so violent and bloodthirsty?   It is hard to watch a movie like this and then conclude that your revulsion is nothing more than a personal or cultural preference.

The great question for the atheist is this: What is wrong with teaching nine-year-olds to maim and murder? If we are just animals, and there is no absolute moral authority, if there is no objective ethical standard that applies to everyone… Then what is wrong with that?

If we are simply the product of time and chance acting on matter… if we are nothing more than biology, what is wrong with people acting like animals?  This is the significance of the movie’s title. The main actor makes a statement at the end of the movie that he has become like an animal. And he’s right. Most of us don’t like it. But what is wrong with it in any absolute sense? Isn’t our outrage just an example of a ethnocentric perspective that wants to tell other people how to live?

In a material world isn’t all of this just a matter of cause and effect? Aren’t we just reactants in a global test tube? If a poor child watches his family murdered by an invading army, isn’t it predictable that he will get snatched up by a violent militia looking for recruits? Isn’t this predictable? If it is nothing more than cause and effect at work, how could we protest? Dogs hate cats. Lions kill hyenas. Humans hate other tribes of humans.  It’s all the result of DNA at work in an unfeeling and uncaring world. It can be nothing more, because nothing more exists.

We could say that people shouldn’t act like animals, that human societies have evolved social norms and mores to control our behavior.  But if we mean by that, that there are no human beings that act like animals, we would be wrong. In fact the truth is exactly the opposite.  The real problem is that a great many humans very frequently act like animals in just this sense.  And its not just Africa. Arguably, European history is far more beastly than anyone other. But why should it be any different?  To say that these things threaten our existence, or cause  psychological pain really begs the question. Of course animals engage in behavior that threatens their own existence, and causes them harm?   The history of the world is a history of extinction.

What is wrong with herds, and packs, and tribes fighting against one another for resources? What is wrong with one organism killing another organism in order to survive? Watch any nature show, this is the way of the world.  And no one ever watches animal behavior and then makes a moral protest.  We don’t say, “sharks shouldn’t kill fish.” To the contrary, in the evolutionary/atheist view of the world it is precisely that kind violence which has helped successful species (like humans) adapt and unsuccessful ones to evolve or become extinct. That kind of behavior has actually helped us to survive.

Social pundits, college professors, and cultural revolutionaries like to tell us that there is no such thing as morality. They often do this in an attempt to normalize their own deviant sexual behavior. When they say, “there are no rules,”  too often they mean “there are no rules for me.”  But if they are right, they have proven too much. “Normal” isn’t a concept that only applies to their preferred version of wickedness, it applies to all behavior. It applies to child abuse and child nurture.  Freedom and tyranny.  Gay marriage and gay bashing.  It is all common and normal.  Of course, there are a few statistical anomalies. But isn’t that the way of nature as well?

Sadly there aren’t enough voices to point out the failings of this kind of moral relativism. These ideas are only seen for what they are in the face of extreme wickedness.  And a movie like “The Beasts of No Nation” has once again reminded me of this. Christians may have trouble finding an answer for why God would allow such evil and suffering in the world.  But the atheist or philosophical materialist has a much greater problem in my opinion.

What is wrong with teaching nine year-olds to murder?

A Happy Atheist Challenges The Angry Atheists With The Difference Between A Fact And A Value

I have read several articles by John Gray and enjoy his writing and insight.  I know when an author is connecting with something important to me because I talk out loud while I am reading it.  I mumbled pretty much the whole time I was reading this one. I had to stop and reread several paragraphs for effect, and kept interrupting my wife to read several of his more powerful points to her. Yes, I am a nerd. This essay put into words a number of things I have been thinking.

Gray is not a believer, and so he has a very different outlook than I do (as a Christian), yet his awareness of the history of philosophy allows him to see the naked spots in the emperors wardrobe. He is disenchanted by the vocal tribe of evangelistic atheists that seem to be known for their pulpit-pounding-religion-hating self righteousness. (Dawkins, Harris, etc.) And he takes them to task, not because of their unbelief but because of their inconsistencies in applying what they believe.  He is willing to explore the assumptions beneath their beliefs, and finds them to be often unreasonable.

In this essay, Gray very briefly chronicles the racist behavior of 19th and 20th century evolutionary atheists.  Then he freely acknowledges that while modern atheists disavow these beliefs, they have repeated some of the same intellectual mistakes as their forbears. They have failed to acknowledge the difference between facts and values.  And this is a dialogue-ender if you happen to disagree with them because you will be talking about your values while they dismiss you as unscientific. They believe that their values are scientific, and therefore as unassailable as discussing gravity.  And sadly, too often this leads them to view their opponents with patronizing contempt.

By the way, this was the same problem with the communism of Russian and China. Marx’s writings insisted that his view of economics was “scientific.”

I paused to read several parts of this essay more than once, not only to understand his observations, but also to enjoy them.   I disagree with his view of the world, but enjoy his intellectual honesty and clear view of the logical problems in the foundation of the new atheism.

“It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion. The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

“For 21st Century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

Some other big ideas from this essay:

  • Atheism is not monolithic, and most of the values (and fact claims) advocated by modern skeptics are not self evident, and are not agreed on by everyone in their camp. This alone should challenge their confusion of facts and values.  I have some atheist friends that like to point out how hard it is to find Christians to agree on any matter of doctrine. Well, evidently they live in the same world.
  • Many of the new atheists are ignorant of the nature of their own beliefs. They take their own view of the world for granted and are unwilling to subject it to the same intellectual scrutiny that they demand from others.
  • New Atheists have largely ignored the writings of Nietzsche. Why? Gray writes, “The reason Nietzsche has been excluded from the mainstream of contemporary atheist thinking is that he exposed the problem atheism has with morality. It’s not that atheists can’t be moral – the subject of so many mawkish debates. The question is which morality an atheist should serve.”  Which is to say that Scientific atheism does NOT lead to a self evident view of the moral world. It cannot answer the most basic questions about how we should live without departing from its limiting scientific commitments. Further, many of the tenets of humanism advocated by atheists actually derive from Judeo-Christian religious tradition.
  • The hostility to religion that has been on display from the evangelistic atheists doesn’t make any rational sense.  After mentioning several influential atheists from the past that were NOT hostile to religion, Gray writes, “Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?”

I disagree with Gray on much of this, but his point is a good one. If atheism and evolution is true, then it follows that religion is a survival adaptation.  If that is true, why so much angst over gene expression?

Source: What scares the new atheists | John Gray | World news | The Guardian

Recent Philosophical and Scientific Challenges to Darwinism

Here are some highlights from a worthwhile piece at the Intercollegiate Review. The article is an excerpt from the Book, “Darwin Day In America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science”  The title alone is fascinating and points to something that is blind to many of my science-loving friends that don’t seem to understand the difference between science and philosophy.

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists and atheists is treated as “dangerous.”

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists/atheists is treated as “dangerous.”  Scientists have felt oppressed in the past, and these feelings are justified. They felt that open inquiry was not allowed.  Seems like they are returning the favor.  We look down at radical islamic countries with their anti-blasphemy laws, but we have our own blasphemy code.  If you suggest that maybe, perhaps, that possibly darwinism doesn’t exactly follow from the evidence itself… you may find angry crowds gathering around you with a heap of stones.

Now listen to John West for yourself:

 

“If someone prior to 2012 had predicted that Oxford University Press would publish a book with the title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, one might have wondered about his sanity, or at least about how familiar he was with current discourse in elite academia. But Oxford did in fact publish the book, and the intellectual aftershocks have yet to subside.

“The book’s author, philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a professor of long standing at New York University and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and election to such august bodies as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. It is a testament to Professor Nagel’s stature that his dissent from Darwinian theory was allowed to be published at all. But his stature has not prevented a flood of abuse and even occasional suggestions of creeping senility….

“Nagel attracted special displeasure for praising Darwin skeptics like mathematician David Berlinski and intelligent-design proponents like biochemist Michael Behe and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer. As the New York Times explained, many of Nagel’s fellow academics view him unfavorably “not just for the specifics of his arguments but also for what they see as a dangerous sympathy for intelligent design.” Now there is a revealing comment: academics, typically blasé about everything from justifications of infanticide to the pooh-poohing of pedophilia, have concluded that it is “dangerous” to give a hearing to scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Nagel ultimately offered a simple but profound objection to Darwinism: “Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself.” In other words, if our mind and morals are simply the accidental products of a blind material process like natural selection acting on random genetic mistakes, what confidence can we have in them as routes to truth?

“The basic philosophical critique of Darwinian reductionism offered by Nagel had been made before, perhaps most notably by Sir Arthur Balfour, C. S. Lewis, and Alvin Plantinga. But around the same time as the publication of Nagel’s book came new scientific discoveries that undermined Darwinian materialism as well. In the fall of 2012, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project released results showing that much of so-called junk DNA actually performs biological functions. The ENCODE results overturned long-repeated claims by leading Darwinian biologists that most of the human genome is genetic garbage produced by a blind evolutionary process. At the same time, the results confirmed predictions made during the previous decade by scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Even critics of Darwin’s Doubt found themselves at a loss to come up with a convincing answer to Meyer’s query about biological information. University of California at Berkeley biologist Charles Marshall, one of the world’s leading paleontologists, attempted to answer Meyer in the pages of the journal Science and in an extended debate on British radio. But as Meyer and others pointed out, Marshall tried to explain the needed information by simply presupposing the prior existence of even more unaccounted-for genetic information. “That is not solving the problem,” said Meyer. “That’s just begging the question.”

“C. S. Lewis perceptively observed in his final book that “nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her.” Lewis’s point was that old paradigms often persist because they blind us from asking certain questions. They begin to disintegrate once we start asking the right questions. Scientific materialism continues to surge, but perhaps the right questions are finally beginning to be asked.

“It remains to be seen whether as a society we will be content to let those questions be begged or whether we will embrace the injunction of Socrates to “follow the argument . . . wherever it may lead.” The answer to that question may determine our culture’s future.”

via The Book That Deflated Darwin Day | Intercollegiate Review.

THOSE Neanderthals Have An Ideology. I’m Glad I Don’t

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It seems obvious when “extremists” kill or coerce in the name of their ideology. It looks crazy to us because we believe differently. But to the extremist, their ideology is reality.  Their view of the world is not a belief system. They see the world as it is.  One of the reasons they are dangerous is that they are blind to the fact that they even have an ideology.

And this isn’t just the obvious extremists (like say radical Islam), this is the U.S.A. too, right? Don’t we have an ideology that we push? And I don’t just mean conservatives.

It is easy to dismiss the idea of “belief” and “ideology” as dangerous.

John Mayer’s song “Belief” sings this. Belief is what makes for irrational wars. Belief is what puts 100,000 children in the sand. Belief is what kills, and we can never win if “belief is what we’re fighting for.” I actually like the song a lot. But not the message. It’s hypocritical. It’s blind. “Those people have an ideology. Glad I don’t.”

It’s dangerous (and arrogant) when you don’t see your own ideology.  But everyone has a philosophy, a belief, a value system that we use to interpret the world. And it is dangerous when we accuse “them” of living for their beliefs, but are blind to our own.

The real struggle is not between those with beliefs and those without them.  The struggle in our world is a conflict of ideas.

The real struggle is not between those with beliefs and those without them.  The struggle in our world is a conflict of ideas. Of truth, of facts, of reason, of coherency, of wisdom.  And as long as we acknowledge this, there is room for discussion. But when we refuse to acknowledge our own assumptions (“ideology”) we write “them” off for their beliefs. THEY are wrong by definition because they are following an ideology. Not me. I just see the facts. At this point civil dialogue is no longer possible.   Isn’t it ironic that the one who laughs at all the blind men groping around the elephant doesn’t question his own eyesight.

One of the marks of an extremist (or bully, or fool) in the making is that they don’t see or acknowledge that their view of the world is an ideology.  If you try to reason with them, they will dismiss what YOU say. They might attack YOU with words (or worse) for being a blind zealot.

People that acknowledge their own world view,  are in a position to appreciate it and reason with others.

Photo by a2gemma, used by permission. Some rights reserved.

Sawing Off The Limb That Holds You

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The problem of evil and suffering is a real problem. We struggle with it from a rational/philosophical standpoint and also from an emotional perspective. Christians often struggle more with the emotional dimension than just wrestling with the logic behind the question because we believe that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil and suffering that is in the world.

But atheists can bring this up in debate as a trump card. And it often “works” because of it’s strong emotional appeal.  Ravi Zacharias does a good job treating this in this in his book “Jesus Among Other Gods.”  He says that often this issue is raised with a list of the worst atrocities in history. This is fine,  and is actually part of my point here. The way those atrocities are discussed suggests that the person really believes they are wrong.  The world should be different than it is. The argument is a kind of protest.  And sometimes it is a protest against a god they believe should have prevented this. This outrage is used to show that an all loving and all powerful God couldn’t exist.  The conclusion: There is no god.

What they don’t realize is that the problem of evil is not just a problem for Christians. It is a problem for every philosophy and worldview.

What they don’t realize is that the problem of evil is not just a problem for Christians. It is a problem for every philosophy and worldview.  And unwittingly by removing idea of God, the atheist has removed any absolute standard of right and wrong. Now the very list of atrocities no longer wear the label “wrong” or “evil.”  The atheist may dislike them, but it is no more than personal or societal preference. These things are not examples of either justice or injustice because those things do not exist except in our minds.  The world just IS.  That is just the way things are.  And yet the very protest is making a plea that the world should be different than it is.  At the very lease, the atheist believes it is wrong for christians to believe what they do. It could be phrased in some other way,  but there is an “ought” in the protest that could only be true if there were some greater moral imperative.  In the end, the protest defeats itself.

Zacharias quotes GK Chesterton, who has made the point with a flourish:

“All denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind and the modern skeptic doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then writes another book, a novel in which he insults it himself. As a politician he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then as a philosopher that all of life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie.

“The man of this school goes first to a political meeting where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts. Then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is forever engaged in undermining his own mines. in his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt becomes practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

The atheist wants to use the problem of evil to disprove the existence of god. But in the process he ends up disproving the existence of evil.  And this is not just a rational problem, it is an existential problem without compare.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959), 41

Photo cropped and used by Permission Jo Jakeman. Some rights reserved 

Religion Is Not to Blame for All the Bloodiest Wars | The New Republic

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Religion Is Not to Blame for All the Bloodiest Wars | The New Republic.

At the New Republic John Gray reviews “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence” by Karen Armstrong

In this write up there is not so much a defense of religion per se but an attempt to challenge a common notion. It has been spoken as incontrovertible fact that “religion is responsible for more wars than anything else.”  To question this “truth” you must be a moron. And the current violence brought about by radical Islam adds to our suspicions. This sometimes leads secular atheists to lump all religions together.  Some have even compared Christians to radical jihadists.  The answer? If we could just use reason and get rid of religious superstition, the world would finally be a safe place.

Gray takes this notion to task. The whole article is worth reading. But here are a few paragraphs worth quoting.

Some have offered that humanistic rationalists are the champions of equality, while religious folks are the source of imperialist oppression. Gray writes:

“The Renaissance is just one of several secular icons that Armstrong demolishes. Nothing is more commonplace than to read that Renaissance thinkers introduced a novel understanding of universal humanity. But Renaissance humanists were actually less sympathetic to the plight of indigenous peoples such as the Mesoamericans who had been violently subjugated than churchmen such as the Dominicans, who condemned the predatory behavior of the conquistadores. “The philosophy of human rights,” Armstrong notes, “did not apply to all human beings.” In some ways, modern conceptions of rights were more inhuman than medieval religion. One of the founders of liberalism, John Locke, found it intolerable that the “wild woods and uncultivated waste of America be left to nature, without any improvement, tillage and husbandry.” Involved in his own right in the colonization of the Carolinas, Locke “argued that the native ‘kings’ of America had no legal jurisdiction or right of ownership of their land.”

People often highlight several points in the history of the Christian church as events which reveal its true colors.  The Salem witch trials, the Inquisition, bombed-out abortion clinics, etc.  While I agree these things are horrible, and really no defense can be made to try to justify or dismiss them, two things can be said about these kinds of events. First,  It is not accurate to say that these represent either the mainstream of the Christian faith, or an accurate representation of the teaching of the New Testament.

But Gray (quoting Armstrong) brings up another point.  If we are just doing a body count, we should be far more worried about secularism than we are about religion when it comes to violence and oppression.  He says:

“The Spanish Inquisition is a notorious example of the violence of religion. There can be no doubt that it entailed hideous cruelty, not least to Jews who had converted to Christianity, often in order to save their lives, but who were suspected of secretly practising their faith and consequently, in some cases, burnt. Yet in strictly quantitative terms, the Inquisition pales in comparison to later frenzies of secular violence. Recent estimates of the numbers who were executed during the first 20 years of the Inquisition—“the most violent period in its long history,” according to Armstrong—range from 1,500 to 2,000 people. By contrast, about a quarter of a million people were killed in the Vendée (out of a population of roughly 800,000) when a peasant rebellion against the French Revolution was put down by republican armies in 1794. And some 17,000 men, women, and children were guillotined in the purge that ended in July that year, including the man who had designed the new revolutionary calendar. It is indisputable that this mass slaughter had a religious dimension. In 1793 a Goddess of Reason was enthroned on the high altar at Notre Dame Cathedral; revolutionary leaders made great use of terms such as “credo,” “sacrament,” and “sermon” in their speeches. As Armstrong puts it, “No sooner had the revolutionaries rid themselves of one religion than they invented another.”

Read the whole thing here.

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the 262 million people killed by their own governments- which were mostly acting on their politicized atheist beliefs. Read more on “democide” from the university of Hawaii site here.

Photo used by permission Andrew Kitzmiller.  Some rights reserved

 

Eric Metaxas: Rumors of God’s Death Were Premature

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God – WSJ

Eric Metaxas has written a controversial piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that the more we learn about Science, the more it points to a creator.

“The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.”

via Eric Metaxas: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God – WSJ.

Metaxas’ point is the universe itself is a miracle. That it could not exist on its own.

This probably won’t make much difference for committed skeptics.  It’s not like there was a lack of evidence for design 50 years ago. Although at least one prominent Atheist- Anthony Flew- was persuaded to change his mind due to the complexity of DNA. His book “There is a God” chronicles his change.

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I was recently reading in Flew’s book and he was discussing what DNA is and how it is a recipe not only for life via the creation of proteins, but also for the replication of itself and new cells that will contain, protect, duplicate, and enact the code of life.   Some folks have used the illustration of a prehistoric man walking on the beach finding a functioning watch.  It would be absurd to think that natural forces created the machinery of the watch, right? But in reality the problem is much worse. It is more like finding a watch that contains the blue prints for the watch inside. Also inside are the tools to make all the recipes in the DNA cook book, and to copy the blue prints, create the tools to make new watches, and to assemble these new watches so that they can repeat the process. The size of the problem is much bigger than a savage finding a rolex.  It is more like finding a factory along with a bunch of watches and blue prints that makes watches and other factories, as well all the equipment inside.

Response to An Atheist


I just finished reading Doug Wilson’s book, “Letter from a Christian Citizen,” and I feel like I want to buy a copy for all my friends, and several of my enemies. He has a definite flair for defending the faith and making skeptics look like sophomores. Wilson takes up a response to Sam Harris’ book, “Letter to a Christian Nation,” and he answers most of the main arguments point by point. The main idea is that if we take atheism seriously, then we are left with a meaningless world that undermines atheistic criticisms of Christianity, and everything else. That is a mouthful, and easy to say. It is also easy understand once you think through the logic. But it took a little while for me to let it sink in.

However, taking time to understand the real implications of atheism is perhaps the greatest way to refute it. Atheists, of the Sam Harris variety at least, deny the existence of anything but matter. On that basis they deny the existence of God and criticize Christianity. After doing this they appeal to all sorts of non material principles to tell other people how to live. After supposedly clearing the deck of theological debris, they proceed to use of laws of logic, demand certain rules of proof, call for standards of ethics, and even insist upon telling believers that they “should” not apply their faith in the public arena. These all smack of “immaterial” things, the kinds of things that they say do not exist. In this regard atheists are like an anarchist filing a law suit, or a flat earth advocate trying to prove their point by talking about satellite orbitals.

Anyway, Wilson does an excellent job, and these 100 or so pages are worth your 8 bucks.
you can get the book at American Vision