Incoherent Questions

By Tim Stratton

It has been said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Consider the following: How much does the color purple weigh? Can God create something that is not contingent upon Him? Is the fourth corner of the triangle an obtuse, acute, or right angle? Where do the vast majority of married bachelors live?

Incoherent Questions

These are examples of incoherent questions . . . stupid questions do exist! If one asks questions like these, those who are empowered by reason know that the questioner simply lacks reason.

With that in mind, if one assumes determinism, then it makes no sense to ask the following questions:

Are you willing to change your mind?

What would it take for you to change your mind?

If one assumes determinism is true, then they must also assume that these questions are just as incoherent as those found in the opening paragraph. Determinists cannot ask or answer these questions because they do not believe human agents have free will or the ability to change our own minds. This is because they affirm that things external to humans (nature or God) causally determines all things — including our thoughts and beliefs.

So, the only related question a determinist can consistently answer is this:

“What would it take for your mind to be changed?”

The naturalistic determinist would have to appeal to physics/chemistry, the initial conditions of the big bang, or perhaps to random events in quantum mechanics. None of these things are up to the determinist, so if their mind is to be changed about anything — including the topic of determinism — then things external to the determinist would have to force and determine them to reject determinism or to change their minds about anything else. If determinism is true, one simply does not possess the ability to freely think, and thus, they are simply held captive and along for the ride dictated by the forces of nature.

The theological determinist fares no better. If one assumes exhaustive divine determinism, then if this determinist’s mind is to be changed on any topic — including that of divine determinism — then it is God who must change this person’s mind on the issue. It is simply not up to them. Just like the naturalistic determinist, they would simply be along for the ride.

Those who presuppose determinism of any flavor have big problems on their hands. Consider the words of William Lane Craig:

“There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe. When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.”

If determinism is true, then genuine free will does not exist, and if free will does not exist, then free thinking does not exist. Given the determinist’s view, how could anyone ever freely choose to be rational and know they are? If everything is determined by factors external to you — including your thoughts and beliefs and your thoughts and beliefs about your thoughts and beliefs — then your choice to follow the laws of logic and to think rationally would only be an illusion. You have no say in the matter.

If determinism is true, then the determinist who holds to determinism did not come to that conclusion based on their intelligence, and by choosing to examine the evidence to infer the best explanation. They were simply determined by physics and chemistry (or God) to be determinists. It has nothing to do with knowledge, logic, or rationality. If determinism is true, then there is no free will either in assessing whether one thought is better than another or not. All that remains is question-begging assumptions and presuppositions. Those are not reasons to think anything; in fact, they are not reasons at all.

If one holds to these question-begging assumptions and presuppositions, they must also assume that it is incoherent to ask them if they are willing to change their minds. With that said, they can coherently consider the much different question, “What would it take for your mind to be changed.”

However, if and how they respond to this question is not even up to them! This is good reason to freely choose to reject determinism!

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton

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Atheism and the burden of proof.

By Richard Playford

When someone makes a claim about the world, if they want to convince others, they are required to provide justification for that claim. This is not a contentious or strange idea, but what does this mean for atheism? Is atheism a belief and does it require justification? In this article I will show that atheism is a belief about the world and that it does require a justification in the same way that theism does.

Atheism Burden Proof

When exploring this topic the most important thing to do is to define our terms clearly. Traditionally theism, agnosticism and atheism were seen as the three positions that one could hold towards the existence of God. Consider the claim “God exists.” We have three options that we could take toward this claim. We can endorse it and agree that God exists. We can deny it and say that God does not exist. Or we can neither endorse it nor deny it and claim not to know (or care). These, in theory, are the only three options (although I will come back to this later). The affirmation that God exists is called theism. The denial of God’s existence (the claim that he does not exist) is what is traditionally called atheism. We find this definition confirmed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.”[1] Not knowing whether God exists is traditionally called agnosticism; again, we find this definition confirmed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “‘Agnostic’ is more contextual than is ‘atheist’, as it can be used in a non-theological way, as when a cosmologist might say that she is agnostic about string theory, neither believing nor disbelieving it”[2]. Not caring whether God exists is traditionally called apatheism.

If we accept these definitions, then it seems clear that both the theist and the atheist have a burden of proof. Someone cannot simply assert that because there is no evidence for something it must therefore not exist. This does not follow because it suggests that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This is not true. Pluto was discovered in 1930.[3] Prior to then, there was no hard evidence that it existed. Did this mean that it did not exist? No! If somebody wants to say that something does not exist then they must provide a justification for that. They cannot conclude that simply because none of the arguments or evidences for a proposition fail, that the proposition is therefore false. The atheist philosopher Kai Nielson agrees and says, “[t]o show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false”.[4] This means that, in philosophy, even if all the arguments for a proposition fail, it does not follow that the proposition is false.

One criticism that is often voiced is that proving a negative is impossible; this is not true. I can prove that Santa does not live at the North Pole by going and looking, I can prove that a 30 cm piece of string is not 40 cm by measuring it, and I can show that there are no married bachelors by showing that it is a logically incoherent concept. The same applies for God. If somebody can show that God is an internally inconsistent concept or that it is incompatible with an aspect of the physical world, then this would prove that God does not exist.

Another criticism that is often voiced is that in the case of God an absence of evidence does entail evidence of absence. This criticism is similar to the argument from hiddenness (which is a formal argument against the existence of God to which there are various responses). As such, because this is an actual argument against the existence of God, this criticism does not detract from my argument.

It should be noted that people rarely fit neatly into the categories that I outlined above. Very few atheists claim to know for certain that God does not exist (many theists also would not claim to know for certain that he does). I suspect that it is views like this which lead people to adopt the title “agnostic atheist.” This has been defined in a number of different ways but one definition is “one who does not know for sure if any gods exist or not but who also does not believe in any gods.”[5]The problem with this definition is that it does not give us a complete account of what the person believes. This fails to tell us whether they believe in God’s non-existence (the belief that he does not exist). This is because lacking belief in God is not the same as believing that God does not exist. In general, people who label themselves like this tend to believe that, although we do not know for certain whether God exists, his existence is unlikely. As a result, they must justify the claim that God probably does not exist with a reasonable inductive argument. The lesson, however, is that people must be clear about what they believe and define their terms carefully before entering a conversation, and if they are making a claim about the world, they must justify that claim. We can see that atheism does require justification in the same way that theism does.


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[1] Smart, J. J. C., “Atheism and Agnosticism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Available at [Accessed on 21/05/2013].

[2] IBID.

[3] NASA, “Pluto: Overview”. Available at: [Accessed on 21/05/2013].

[4] Nielsen Kai (1971) Reason and Practice. New York: Harper & Row.

The New Face of Atheism (And It’s Not Dawkins!)

Atheism has a new face. Just for the record, I am not speaking about the “New Atheists,” who burst on the scene after 9/11 and have been the public face of atheism for the past dozen years. The “four horsemen” of atheism—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett—helped launch and inspire a (then) “new atheist” movement.

But times have changed. If the recent low turnout for the Reason Rally is any indication, this brand of atheism may be fading. The “new atheists” still do exert considerable influence in culture (including Hitchens, who died in 2011), but there is a “new face of atheism” that is becoming much more important today. Rather than a top-down movement such as characteristic of the “new atheism,” this is a bottom-up movement, more like the church.

Characteristics of the New Face of Atheism

While I do not have an official name for this new movement, I will simply refer to it as the “new face of atheism.” There are a few characteristics that seem to set it apart:

1. More balanced approach to the church. The “new atheists” set themselves apart by their vitriol against all forms of religion, and specifically Christianity. Hitchens, for instance, famously said that religion poisons everything. He held no punches and critiqued even the most beloved religious figures, such as Mother Theresa. And Dawkins famously criticized the God of the Old Testament for being “the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”

But the new face of atheism has a different approach. Their goal is not to eradicate any vestige of religion. In fact, at times, some even have positive things to say about the church in general and Christians in particular. While they are certainly critical of religious practices and teachings, they seem more interested in creating secular communities alongside the church than entirely silencing the church (although when it comes to politics, it may be a different matter).

2. Emphasis on community and rituals. The “new atheists” made their mark distinctly through intellectually critiquing religion. Using science, philosophy, theology, history, psychology and more, the “new atheists” aimed to discredit religion and to usher in an entirely secular society. I don’t believe their critiques have been successful. In fact, I respond to their main attacks in my book Is God Just a Human Invention? But the point is that they aimed to use reason to undermine religion.

In contrast, the new face of atheism aims to create secular communities that rival the church. The growth of atheist churches, for instance, is evidence of this emphasis. Many aim to co-opt positive aspects of church, such as community outreach, inspiring messages, fellowship, song singing, and other communal rituals typically associated with religion. The goal is for people to experience the kind of community often found in church (without God, of course), but also to reach more people with a secular message that meets both the heads and hearts of non-believers.

3. Less emphasis on apologetics. Reason was the primary tool of the “new atheists.” They rationally attacked religion and reveled in their intellectual superiority to “ignorant, dangerous religious folks.” Daniel Dennett even suggested atheists should change their name to “Brights.”

In contrast, the new face of atheism does not lead with the intellect. While they do reject the truth of Christianity, and frequently raise objections to the faith, they seem to focus more on the heart than the mind. This is not meant as a critique, but a recognition that they are less interested in debating theology than in simply helping people in the here and now. They are driven more to help people find community and meaning in their present lives than discussing the second premise of the cosmological argument. In fact, some even question the importance and relevance of the big questions of life.

Representatives of the New Face of Atheism

Since it is more of a bottom-up movement, the “new face of atheism” has many more leaders than the “four horsemen” of the “new atheism.” Two stand out to me as good representatives of this movement:

Ryan Bell

Bell is perhaps best known for being the pastor who lived a “Year Without God.” He was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for nineteen years before becoming an atheist. He now heads up an organization committed to helping people de-convert from religion. He blogs, podcasts, counsels, and is aiming to build a safe community for people who have left religion.

This past Saturday, Ryan and I had a public conversation about God and atheism atChurch Everyday. Justin Brierley was the host, and it will air soon on the popular radio show Unbelievable. While much could be said about the event, my point here is to highlight how Ryan brings a new “face” to atheism. He is likeable, smart, kind, gracious, and fun. While he does have some similarity to the “new atheists,” overall he brings an entirely new (and much more appealing) face to atheism today.

Bart Campolo

Bart Campolo was a Christian evangelist who launched Mission Year. Now he is the humanist chaplain at USC. I first heard Bart speak in the mid 90s when I was a student at Biola. He instantly struck me as smart, funny, and deeply committed to advancing the gospel. He has encouraged me multiple times along my journey, and in fact, I volunteered an entire year at the Dream Center, a church in the inner city L.A., because of his prompting.

Rather than creating a secular community that hosts debates, discusses philosophy, and aims to actively eradicate religion, he is developing community for people who don’t believe in God. In fact, when we met last year up at USC, he shared with me how he’s essentially applying many of the principles he learned in the church, and from ministries like Young Life, to the secular world. And it seems he’s having considerable success.

How Should We Respond?

The point of this blog is not to offer suggestions for how Christians ought to respond to the “new face of atheism.” Maybe I will tackle that issue in a future post. For now, the point is to recognize how the secular landscape is changing and to encourage Christians to begin thinking through how we best proceed.

But I do have to make one point: Given that many atheists today are emphasizing community more than reason, it may be tempting to consider apologetics and theology passé. But this would be a colossal mistake. If experiencing community is the primary reason students embrace Christianity, then many will abandon faith when they experience community elsewhere. What will really help a student hang on to their faith is when they believe Christianity is true, and have reasons to back it up. And for that task, apologetics is indispensable.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

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Why I Love Atheists

Last week I wrote a post Three Reasons I am Not an Atheist. For this post I am going to take a different route: rather than critique atheism as a worldview, I am going to discuss why I love atheists as people. So, I am shifting from talking about the idea of atheism to the people who embrace it.

Why I Love Atheists

I certainly don’t claim to represent all atheists in this post. There are a huge variety of people who consider themselves atheists (in terms of belief systems and demeanor), just as there is in Christianity, Islam, and many other religions. And there are even debates about what constitutes atheism—is it belief that God does not exist, or simply the lack of belief in God? My goal is not to enter into these kinds of debates, but simply to reflect on many atheists I have encountered personally, or through their writings, and what I love about them.

As apologists, we are often quick to criticize atheism as a worldview. But as I point out in A New Kind of Apologist, if we want people to hear our case for Christianity, we need to find common ground with others and also be charitable towards them as people. With that backdrop, here are three reasons why I love atheists:

1. Many atheists care about (what they believe is) truth

There are far more Christians in America than atheists. As a result, it is easy for people who grow up with Christian parents to simply embrace their family beliefs without genuinely considering any alternatives. There is little or no cost (at least in this country) to embracing the beliefs of your parents.

As a college student, I went through a period of significant doubt. In fact, I told my father, without knowing how he would respond, that I wasn’t even sure if I believed Christianity was true. While my father did respond graciously, and I ended up finding good answers to my questions, I remember counting the cost of what it would mean to reject my Christian roots. While thankfully I ended up keeping my faith, I still respect my atheist friends who choose a different path. Many count the cost and choose (what they believe is) truth over comfort. Even though I think atheism is wrong, I still can respect a person who makes a sincere decision based on what they believe to be true and tries to live accordingly.

Sure, I know some atheists who have rejected their Christian roots out of spite or rebellion. But that’s certainly not always the case. My atheist friends who have walked away from their faith remind me how important it is that we follow truth, regardless of the cost. Beliefs matter. And they do have consequences.

2. Atheists have made me think deeply about my own worldview

My worldview has undoubtedly been deeply shaped and influenced by great Christian writers such Aquinas, Augustine, Jonathan Edwards and even modern thinkers such as Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and N.T. Wright.

But just as formative for me are atheist writers such as Nietzsche, Russell, and Camus. They have forced me to think deeply about my worldview and to consider why I believe as I do. In fact, some of my motivation to study and learn has come from the challenges they have raised to my faith: Why does God allow evil? Is there life after death? Is my faith a crutch? The more I have studied to find answers to these kinds of questions, the more my faith has grown.

Similarly, I love having conversations with my atheist friends. They tend to see weaknesses and vulnerabilities in my arguments, and force me to clarify and justify what I believe. Sometimes I have a good response, but many times I have to go back and study further to find an answer. But regardless, these kinds of conversations are always beneficial and enjoyable.

3. Atheists are made in the image of God.

As a Christian, I believe every human being—regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, intelligence, athletic prowess, and sexual orientation—bears the imago dei. In other words, human beings have infinite dignity, value, and worth as members of the human race.

Even though atheists don’t believe in God, as a Christian, I still believe they reflect the image of their creator (Gen 1:17). As a result, like all people, they are unbelievably value human beings whom God loves. And so do I.

I am grateful for my atheist friends. Do I disagree with them? Yes. Do I pray for them at times? Certainly. Do I want them to become Christians? Absolutely! But my relationship with them does not depend upon their beliefs. My love for them does not depend on their conversion. Even if they never embrace Christ, I am thankful for their friendship. I love atheists, and if you are reading this as a Christian, I hope you do too.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

Why Are Christians So Defensive?

In case you are wondering, this is not a post in which I am going to bash the church. Far from it. I love the church. But I am going to point out a “weakness” that we urgently need to address (see Proverbs 27:6).

How can I claim that Christians are so insecure? For the past decade, I have been role-playing an atheist at camps, conferences, churches, and other Christian events. I have done this in youth groups of ten students and in stadiums up to six thousand people. And I have done my role-play with parents, youth pastors, businessmen, and a variety of other groups from a myriad of denominations. During the presentation, I put on my “atheist glasses,” do my best to make the case for atheism, and then have two volunteers take microphones out into the audience so people can raise questions and challenges. People typically ask questions about morality, the origin of the universe, and evolution. And I simply respond back with the answers many of my atheist friends have given me.

Inevitably, people tend to get defensive, agitated, and quite upset. In fact, after the role-play is over, I often ask the audience to use individual words to describe how they treated me and “hostile” is one of the most common responses. Sure, there are undoubtedly people who are gracious and kind. But, in my experience it’s the exception to encounter a Christian who can engage the “atheist” both thoughtfully and graciously. Even though people know I am merely role-playing, I have had people call me names, yell at me across the room, walk out, and even threaten me—seriously!

This experience has caused me to ask the following question for some time: why do we Christians get so defensive? There can certainly be a variety of issues, but as I write in A New Kind of Apologist, there is one pressing reason we often overlook: Most Christians do not know what they believe and why. As a result, when I push back on their beliefs as an “atheist,” many get defensive.

It is human nature to get defensive when someone challenges us and we’re ill equipped to respond. If we really haven’t thought through how we know the Bible is true, why God allows evil and suffering, and how to reconcile science and faith, then when someone presses us to explain our beliefs, we have two options: admit we don’t know the answer, which takes humility, or get defensive. In reality, many Christians get defensive because they simply don’t have thoughtful answers to these big questions.

I don’t write this blog from a position of higher ground. I have fallen short many times in my interactions with non-Christians. Trust me, this post comes from my own frequent shortcomings. But I have seen firsthand the confidence training in apologetics brings to the church as a whole and students in particular.

Training in apologetics is especially important today because we find ourselves, as a church, increasingly at odds with the wider culture. If you believe the Bible is true, especially on issues related to sexuality, then you may find yourself getting tagged as hateful, intolerant, bigoted, and homophobic. We simply cannot respond with defensiveness. Rather, we must respond truthfully, but with kindness and charity. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).

Sure, some people learn apologetics and become haughty. There’s no question about that! But the problem is not with apologetics per se, but that it is often not coupled with grace. Here’s the bottom line: we Christians often get defensive because we don’t really know why we believe what we believe. If we want to be confident ambassadors of the faith, who can interact with both kindness and substance, we must get training in apologetics.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

Robots & Rationality

By Tim Stratton

Determinists determined to defend determinism often counter the Freethinking Argument by proclaiming that computers seem to be rational and they do not possess libertarian free will. They state this is sufficient refutation of premise (3) of the Freethinking Argument, and therefore, the conclusions: free will exists, the soul exists, and naturalism is false, do not follow. This article exposes a major problem with this objection and demonstrates that the deductive conclusions of the Freethinking Argument remain unscathed.

Assumptions & Presuppositions

One problem with the “computer objection” is this: simply by stating that computers are, or robots of the future could be, rational in a deterministic universe *assumes* that the determinist making this claim has, at least briefly, transcended their deterministic environment and freely inferred the best explanation (the one we ought to reach) via the process of rationality to correctly conclude that computers are, in fact, rational agents.

Naturalistsic determinists presuppose they are rational humans while offering a computer as a completely determined rational agent. The question, however, is this: does rationality exist on naturalism? With the proper question in mind, the answer given must be an explanation as to how humans could be rational in a fully physical and causally determined world, not, “Well computers are rational!”

Again, if determinists happen to luckily be right about determinism, then they did not come to this conclusion based on rational deliberation by weighing competing views and then freely choosing to adopt the best explanation from the rules of reason via properly functioning cognitive faculties. No, given determinism, they were forced by chemistry and physics to hold their conclusion whether it is true or not. On naturalism there are no cognitive faculties functioning in a “proper” way according to a design plan which would allow one to freely think and infer what ought to be inferred. Simply offering a computer as a rational entity only sweeps the problem under the rug, but the problem remains as we are not discussing computers, but rather, the designers of computers.

If one is going to assert a certain view of the actual world, then the view offered should entail the ability of the proclaimer to make this rational inference in the same world. After all, one cannot rationally conclude a model of reality which destroys the very method he used to reach the conclusion. Alvin Plantinga notes the circularity involved by the naturalist:

“such a claim is pragmatically circular in that it alleges to give a reason for trusting our noetic equipment, but the reason is itself trustworthy only if those faculties are indeed trustworthy. If I have come to doubt my noetic equipment, I cannot give an argument using that equipment for I will rely on the very equipment in doubt.”[1]

Plantinga quotes Thomas Reed’s perceptive statement to support his case: “If you want to know whether [or not] a man tells the truth, the right way to proceed is not to ask him.” If you have reason to suspect a certain man is a liar, why should you believe this individual when he tells you that he is not a liar? Similarly, if we have reason to suspect we cannot freely think to infer the best explanation, why assume these specific thoughts (which are suspected of being unreliable) are reliable regarding computers?

Moreover, the naturalist who states that he freely thinks determinism is true is similar to one arguing that language does not exist, by using English to express that thought. The proposition itself counts as evidence against that view. If a naturalist is going to assume the ability to rationally argue that computers and robots can be rational in a deterministic and completely physical universe, they must first demonstrate they are not begging any questions by assuming they are rational to reach the conclusion that they are rational.

Until naturalists demonstrate exactly how a determined conclusion, which cannot be otherwise and is caused by nothing but physics and chemistry, can be rationally inferred and affirmed, then the rest of their argument has no teeth in its bite as it is incoherent and built upon unproven assumptions. As I always say, any argument based upon a logical fallacy is no argument at all. That is to say, even if a naturalist’s conclusion happens to be right, they have not offered any reason to think the conclusion is true, or any rational justification to think their causally determined thoughts are reliable or worth considering.


If all is ultimately determined by nature, then all thoughts — including what humans think about the rationality of computers — cannot be otherwise. We are simply left assuming that our thoughts (which we are not responsible for) regarding computers are good, the best, or true. We do not have a genuine ability to think otherwise or really consider competing hypotheses at all.

Bottom line: if naturalism is true, then there is no such thing as free will, and if there is no free will then there is no freethinking!

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton


[1] William Lane Craig & JP Moreland note Alvin Plantinga’s claim in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (page 107).

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There’s no God? How boring!

I showed my high school students the movie Expelled by Ben Stein, where he claims that intelligent design proponents have lost jobs, lost tenure and had their reputations smeared. One of the memorable scenes of the movie featured William Provine, Cornell University Professor and outspoken atheist, articulating the implications of Darwinism. If Darwinism is true, says Provine, then there is no God, life after death, purpose, objective morality, or free will. According to Provine, they are all illusions fostered on us by our genes and environment.

Provine also criticizes intelligent design for being boring: “Can you imagine anything more boring? The boredom attached to ID is supreme. It is so boring that I can’t even be bothered to think about it for a second. It’s just utterly boring.” He said this with utter contempt for the claims of intelligent design and for the implications that there may be a God.

The more I think about this quote the more I am convinced that Provine has it exactly backwards. Intelligent design is not boring, atheism is! I’m not saying that atheists are boring, for that would be an ad hominem fallacy. I have many atheist friends who are incredibly interesting people. In fact, some are far more thoughtful and engaging than many of my Christian friends. I am not criticizing atheists, but atheism. Atheists are often interesting people, not because of their philosophy, but in spite of it.

So why is atheism boring?

One problem with atheism is that humans are purely physical machines lacking free will (as Provine so clearly articulated). Thus, people are simply cogs in the materialistic universe dragged along by physical, social, and biological forces. Humans are simply puppets of nature acted upon by external forces in the environment rather than free beings that make meaningful decisions.

If naturalism is true and there is no free will, then there can be no real character development in life or in drama since people are helpless victims of their environment. This is why film professor John Caughie says that naturalism is boring when applied to movies (Television Drama: Realism, Modernism, and British Culture, p. 96-97).

Why do we enjoy movies? The simple answer is that we are drawn to characters that choose good over evil, hope over despair, and forgiveness over revenge. Yet if atheism is true, characters are driven entirely by the inexorable physical laws of nature—they don’t make any choices at all. Thus, Luke didn’t really choose to battle Darth Vader and the Dark Side—his genes did it for him. Rocky didn’t really go against the odds to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World—the laws of physics did it for him. How boring!

An example of naturalism in drama is Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. The primary desire of the three sisters is to escape small-town life and move to Moscow. The entirety of the play involves them talking about moving but never actually doing it. They simply cannot escape from social expectations and family customs. What a great depiction of naturalism. Naturalistic films provide no dramatic escape from the environment because people are trapped behind their environment. These kinds of plays or films are frustrating, depressing, and anti-climactic. And yet they portray naturalism accurately. Again, how boring!

Ultimately, the deterministic worldview of atheism fails to capture life as we truly experience it. In her excellent book Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey sums up the problem determinism poses for film:

“A deterministic worldview produces characters that are not true to life. In reality, people do make genuine decisions. Much of the drama of human life stems from wrestling with wrenching moral dilemmas. Though naturalism was an offshoot of realism, we could say its greatest flaw was that is was not realistic enough. We all experience the moment-by-moment reality of making choices. The experience of freedom is attested to in every human culture, in every era of history, and in every part of the globe” (p. 152).

A test for every worldview is if it can describe the world as we actually experience it. If a worldview fails to explain a universal human experience (such as free will) then it is inadequate. Professor Provine may choose to deny the existence of free will, but since he is made in the image of God, his life will betray that conviction.

In Expelled he tells his story of rejecting Christianity because of the compelling evidence for Darwinism. Ironically, one of the reasons he tells this is because he’s trying to persuade people to follow the same course. Yet if people are determined then they can’t choose otherwise. In fact, people can’t choose anything! Provine didn’t really even choose to reject Christianity—his genes did it for him. As sincere as Provine may be, I doubt he really believes this.

Again, my critique is aimed not at atheists but at atheism. Provine strikes me as an eminently interesting person that I would enjoy getting to know. Nevertheless, I just can’t think about it any longer. It’s simply too boring.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

For more articles like There’s no God? How boring! visit Sean’s site

Stuff Atheists Say: Believing in God Is Like Believing in Santa

By Timothy Fox

Welcome to the second installment in my series, Stuff Atheists Say! (Read part 1 here.) This series is dedicated to bad arguments and statements that some atheists (the internet troll type) make to derail a conversation and avoid having to put forth any arguments or evidence of their own. My intention is not to smear every nonbeliever as there are many thoughtful and honest questions that skeptics ask which need to be answered. In fact, there are many atheists who are just as tired as these nonsensical statements as I am! That’s why I want to clear up some of these pointless slogans once and for all. So on to the second one:

Stuff Atheists Say: Believing in God Is Like Believing in Santa

Bad “argument” #2: Believing in God is no different than believing in Santa Claus.
Or maybe you’ve heard it stated: “I don’t need to disprove God any more than I need to disprove the existence of leprechauns.” Or fairies. Or any other type of mythical creature. The point of this statement is to equate God with any other imaginary being that is ridiculous to seriously believe in.

The Santa Delusion

So is believing in God really the same as having an imaginary friend? An invisible sky daddy? Maybe, if believing in a fat man in a red suit who delivers presents in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer to every child in the world is the same thing as believing in a God who created the universe from nothing, brought life from non-life, and grounds objective moral values and duties. If so, then yes, they’re exactly the same.

But if believing in God is so ridiculous, you know what’s even more ridiculous? Giving lectures against his existence. Having debates about it. Trolling blogs and internet chatrooms. Writing popular-level books promoting unbelief. Meanwhile, I don’t see anyone penning The Santa Delusion or The Tooth Fairy Is Not Great.

And I guess that the overwhelming majority of humans throughout all of time are as deluded as little children. Because every culture across history has had some kind of religion or believed in a deity of a sort.  We discuss God’s existence in the classroom, at the dinner table, and over a coffee (or beer). From philosophers to scientists, with believers, skeptics, and everyone in-between. Silly humans.

No, Seriously

But let’s take this argument seriously. Is belief in God really no different than belief in Santa? First, how justified are we in believing in Santa Claus? What would it take for someone to actually think that he exists? Evidence. And here the atheist says “Correct! There’s no evidence for either of them! That’s why it’s ridiculous to believe in God or Santa!” But is the evidence for Santa Claus and God really the same? Well, if Santa does exist, we would know what to look for: a fat man in a red suit delivering presents Christmas Eve. But what about God? If God exists, do you know what you would look for? Before stating that there is no evidence for something, make sure you know what kind of evidence there should be if that thing does exist!

For it to be reasonable to believe that Santa Claus exists, he would have to be the best explanation for the existence of Christmas presents. But is there another, better explanation? Perhaps someone else put the presents under the tree, like parents. Maybe the gifts just popped into existence from nothing. Or maybe they’ve been there for all eternity! You can probably see where this is going. How did the universe get here? Did it just pop into existence uncaused, has it always been here, or is it reasonable to believe that something, or someone, caused it to begin to exist? God is the best explanation for all of reality. And even if you disagree, it’s still a legitimate option, is it not?

But maybe Santa exists and he’s just hiding. That’s why he has never been observed, just like God! Again, what are the reasons to believe that Santa exists? Are there any? Because there are very good reasons to believe that God exists, such as the cosmological argument, moral argument, fine-tuning argument, etc. Can you honestly say the same about Santa? Of course not.

Furthermore, what are the consequences if Santa doesn’t exist? Then kids must get their Christmas presents another way, because we know from experience that presents exist (unless you were on the naughty list, I guess). But if there’s no God? Then the universe came into existence uncaused from nothing for no reason. Life came from non-life and consciousness from non-consciousness. There are no objective morals and values. Exactly the same? No. Not a chance.


I hope we can all see how ridiculous it is to equate God with some imaginary or mythical being. It’s not as trivial as who delivers Christmas presents or trades cash for teeth; we’re talking about the First Cause who created and upholds the entire universe. There are good reasons and arguments for God’s existence. So to those who say that belief in God is no different than belief in Santa Claus, please stop. You’re the ones making ridiculous claims, not us.

For another good and thorough treatment of this issue, check out the Reasonable Faith article Is God Imaginary?


For More Articles like Stuff Atheists Say: Believing in God Is Like Believing in Santa visit Tim’s site at

What Christian Parents Can Learn from Atheist Churches

By Natasha Crain

There’s a new church movement you may not have heard about, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds. It’s called the Sunday Assembly. It started less than two years ago in England and now has more than 60 congregations around the world. Twenty-five more congregations are expected to launch by early 2015. The Sunday Assembly is growing especially quickly in the United States, where congregations have formed in 17 cities.

At a Sunday Assembly, church members come together to sing songs, hear a speaker and reflect on their lives. Outside of church, they have small groups, book clubs, a choir, peer-to-peer support and a variety of opportunities to volunteer. Their motto is “Live better, help often and wonder more.”

So what’s unique about this rapidly growing church?

Most of the congregants don’t believe in God. It’s a church for atheists.


What is an Atheist Church?

The Sunday Assembly was started by two comedians named Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones who liked the idea of a church without God. Pippa is an ex-Christian who found she missed church elements like “community, volunteering, and music,” but didn’t miss God. Sanderson had noticed the joy at Christmas created by caroling and wondered if it was possible to harness those warm feelings and just celebrate the fact we’re alive.

When Evans and Jones launched the Sunday Assembly, they promoted it using the (appropriate) phrase “atheist church.” However, they now avoid the atheist description and promote the Sunday Assembly as a group “celebrating life.” A New York congregation actually broke off from the group earlier this year because they wanted to focus more on celebrating godlessness than celebrating life.

True to this rebranding effort, the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the Sunday Assembly’s website attempts to distance the organization from a strict atheist association. In response to the question, “Is Sunday Assembly exclusively for atheists?” they say, “Absolutely not. We say in the Charter that we don’t do supernatural but we won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. One of the unique things about Sunday Assembly is that it is radically inclusive–allowing us to celebrate life together, regardless of what we believe in.” They go on in other answers to discourage using their group as a vehicle for presenting atheist philosophy or for telling others that they’re wrong for what they believe.

Irony lurks below the surface of this shallow inclusiveness. The first item on their public charter says, “We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.” Make no mistake: this isn’t just a secular gathering where no claims are being made about God one way or another. The Sunday Assembly is built on explicitly atheist assertions. And people are loving it.


A Very Important Lesson for Christian Parents

I’m fascinated by this rise of atheist churches, and I think there is a very important lesson Christian parents can take from it:

We have to make sure our kids are attracted to Jesus and not just the church.

Humans are built for relationships. We desire community; we desire to help others; we desire to live a “good” life and find meaning in what we do–all things that can be found in church. Christians believe that these desires are given to every person by God. That means church is a place that can fill a God-given need for our kids whether they believe in Him or not.

The risk is that they’ll mistake that partial fulfillment for the sum of everything they spiritually need.

Bart Campolo, son of well-known Christian pastor and speaker Tony Campolo, made the news last month because of his deconversion from Christianity. In an interview, he described how as a teenager he was drawn by the sense of community and “the common commitment to love people, promote justice, and transform the world.” He commented, “All the dogma and the death and resurrection of Jesus stuff was not the attraction.”

Church – not Jesus – was the attraction.

How can you know if your kids are attracted to Jesus or just the church? Look at their spiritual development outside of church:

  • Do they show an interest in reading and understanding the Bible, or just an interest in good values and community service?
  • Do they initiate conversations about faith and ask thoughtful questions?
  • Do they demonstrate a desire to discern what God wants for their life?
  • Do they pray? (If you don’t know, ask!)

There are certainly a lot of kids kicking and screaming all the way to church each week. That’s a whole other problem. But let’s be sure to not assume a happy church-goer is also a Jesus-lover. As the Sunday Assembly has shown us, a lot of people are happy to do church without God.

What kind of “relationship” do your kids have with your church? Have you ever considered if it’s a Jesus-centered relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

For more articles like What Christian Parents Can Learn from Atheist Churches visit Natasha’s website:

Militant Atheist Lacks an Argument

By Steve Lee

Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University,  penned an article with The New YorkerScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 2.02.04 PM It is provocatively titled “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists.”  Not just an atheist, but a militant atheist.  Krauss, has risen in fame in the past few years, penning such books at The Physics of Star Trek and The Universe From Nothing. In an interview with Sam Harris, he describes himself as “as an anti-theist rather than an atheist.”  Krauss has had multiple debates with William Lane Craig here in the United States as well as in Australia (here and here and here).  He even did a movie with Richard Dawkins titled The Unbelievers. Dr. Craig did a series of podcasts commenting on the film.

In his September 8 article in The New Yorker, Krauss claims that “it’s inevitable that [science] draws people away from religion.”  Oddly enough he just merely asserts this claim without any evidence or argument.  Are we to just believe him on blind faith.  If science inevitably draws people away from religion how does he explain Francis Collins, Sarah Salviander, John Lennox, Neil Shenvi, Ray Bohlin, Michael Strauss, John Polkinghorne, or Alister McGrath.  Or how the book True Scientists, True Faith explores how twenty of the world’s leading scientists explain how their science enhances their faith and their faith undergirds their science.

Even more oddly is his focus in the article on issues that have nothing to do with science at all.  In eleven full paragraphs a total of seven were on social issues like Kim Davis, Hobby Lobby, the shame people feel for questioning their parents faith, and Planned Parenthood.  As Edward Feser says in his article Krauss discusses “matters of public controversy entirely irrelevant to either science or the question of God’s existence.”

He surely has a right to express his opinion on issues entirely outside his domain of expertise, but they carry no more weight as a business student has in expressing his views on the background radiation in the cosmos.  When he does he reveals aptly how sophomoric his reasoning is on the issue of God and science.  As Plantinga said about Dawkins and his book The God Delusion I believe the comments apply to Krauss as well:

Dawkins [and Krauss] is not a philosopher (he’s a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune [i.e., naive, simplistic, and superficial]. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class.

Below are some articles that react to Krauss:

“Scientists Should Tell Lawrence Krauss to Shut Up Already” by Edward Feser in Public Discourse The Witherspoon Institute, Sept. 28, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.26.07 PM

Feser is as entertaining as he is educational.  A partial excerpt:

The closest Krauss comes to justifying his thesis is in the following passage:

science is an atheistic enterprise. “My practice as a scientist is atheistic,” the biologist J.B.S. Haldane wrote, in 1934. “That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.” . . . In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature . . .

Is this a good argument? Only if this parallel piece of “reasoning” is also a good argument:

Checkers is an atheistic enterprise. My practice as a checkers player is atheistic. That is to say, when I move a game piece across the board, I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my career as a checkers champ. In my more than thirty years as a checkers player, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned at a checkers tournament. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of the game.

So, it isn’t just science—even checkers proves atheism! Who knew?


“Why Can’t These Guys Stay on Topic? Or Read?” by Edward Feser at Edward Feser Oct 4, 2015 – Here Feser responds to some criticisms of his critique of Krauss.

“Should Scientists Be Atheists? More Nonsense From Lawrence Krauss,” by Kelly James Clark in The Huffington Post, Sept. 14, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.24.55 PM

Philosopher Kelly Jame Clark in The Huffington Post lambastes Krauss for his lack of elementary logic and non-scientific ranting:

While Lawrence Krauss has publicly denounced philosophy, he can’t seem to stop himself from doing it and doing it badly (and publicly, to boot). His lack of intellectual self-control is remarkable given that he is an accomplished physicist. He might have profited in his latest rant, “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists,” by a course in elementary logic.

This diatribe was prompted by the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage license to gay couples. He writes of militant atheism and science, “I found myself thinking about those questions this week as I followed the story of Kim Davis….” How this totally non-scientific event is relevant to his scientific thesis is mind-boggling.

Portrait of a Fanatic” by Kevin D. Williamson The National Review Sept. 11, 2015

At the National Review Kevin D. Williamson reacts as well:

As we have seen with the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Politics Guy, when scientists and the scient-ish (Mr. Nye is a mechanical engineer by training) step out of the confines of their actual expertise, what they step into is more closely associated with the field of animal husbandry. But step in it they do, Professor Krauss with more enthusiasm than most. Professor Krauss’s argument is shockingly sophomoric, the sort of thing that all of us heard, and most of us tired of, during late-night dorm-room debates when we were teenagers. His intellectual sloppiness is both embarrassing and worrisome; one must wonder what sort of intellectual standards Arizona State expects of its faculty engaged in public matters.
This video is related to Eric Metaxas Wall Street Journal article which quickly become the most viewed online article in the journal’s history:

For more articles like: Militant Atheist Lacks an Argument visit Steve’s site at

Steve Lee is a graduate from the CrossExamined Instructor Academy.

The Forbidden Fruit of Atheism; What question they cannot ask?

By Billy Dyer

When God created man he gave us free-will. He did this so that He could have genuine children who loved Him. For love by its very nature has to be freely given and freely received. Therefore, He had to give mankind some kind of law so that they could choose to love Him or disobey Him. The Devil tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. He attacked on three levels:

  1. God’s Word–“Indeed, has God said”
  2. God’s Character–The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”
  3. God’s Goodness–“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We all know the story. Eve ate and gave some to her husband and he ate of it. That was the only thing God forbade them to do. So the moral of the story is to eat more bacon because fruit can ruin the world…..ok just kidding!

Today we use the phrase “forbidden fruit” as a metaphor for an object of desire whose appeal results from knowledge that it should not be obtained. Admittedly, the common human experience is that we all are tempted with our own forbidden fruit. But I’d like to suggest that Atheism, as a worldview, has a common forbidden fruit and that is asking the question, “Why?”.

Atheist don’t like to ask that question for two reasons.

  1. They’d rather state their view then have to defend it
  2. There is no why

As to the first reason I understand it is a general statement and not all atheists are like this. But when you do not have evidence to support your worldview it is a lot more comfortable to simply assert your belief than defend it. As to the second view I believe the atheists can speak for themselves.

Richard Dawkins said, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (River Out of Eden) We see here that there is no rhyme or reason to atheism. We just are in this sort of universe. If we ask “why” the answer is “just because” or “there isn’t a why”. When we begin to examine this thought it is very disturbing. It is like there is something inside of us screaming that this is wrong but we don’t necessarily know why. The Bible on the other hand says that God has set eternity on our hearts (Ecc 3:11). There is something hard-wired within us, by God, that longs for something more than this world. We intuitively know we are different. That is why all humans across the board, regardless of the answers they decide on, struggle with the questions, “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?”.

Dawkins goes on to say, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” (River Out of Eden). I always laugh at statements like this because they are so self-refuting and the authors who say them don’t even live by them. Let us think about this for a second. If we are really just dancing to the music of DNA then that means we are like a soda can that is simply fizzing because we were opened. We didn’t decide to fiz and we don’t even know that we are fizzing. We simply fiz as a chemical reaction. If this is the case then why try to convince me of it since I don’t even have the ability to change my mind? In fact, according to Dawkins’ view, I believe what I do about God as a chemical reaction. These atheists can’t even live by their worldview. If we are all simply reacting to chemicals in our brains without abilities to make conscious decisions then why ask me to make a conscious decision to change my worldview and accept yours?

Christians are commanded to ask questions and seek (Lk 11:9; Prov 1:2, 4:7, 23:23, et al.) for answers. There is no fear with the truth. We have the truth on our side. Our interpretations may change but the Word of God is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, I have no problem asking the question “why” or any other question about Christianity. Every time I’ve questioned my faith it has led me to a deeper understanding of God and a stronger faith. There are good answers out there it is just a matter of whether you want to do your homework to find them. What questions do you have about Christianity or your faith right now?

Visit Billy’s website: 

Billy Dyer is a CrossExamined Instructor Academy Graduate.

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Stuff Atheists Say: You’re Almost an Atheist

By Timothy Fox

We at FreeThinking Ministries are dedicated to answering the biggest objections to Christianity. We respect sincere skeptics and seekers and understand that everyone has doubts. We do too at times. If there’s a certain obstacle that is keeping you from faith, we want to help remove it. Responding to objections is mandatory to the Christ-follower: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Many times, it’s that last part that makes all the difference: “do it with gentleness and respect.” We don’t ever want to come across as arrogant or disrespectful but we do what we do because we think that Christianity is true and we want you to think so also.

But this series, Stuff Atheists Say, isn’t about the good objections; it’s about the bad ones. Things that need to go away for good. Many things skeptics and atheists say aren’t really arguments; they’re meant to mock and ridicule, to smugly derail a conversation and make you feel stupid in the process. You know, the kind of thing you find on social media or hear from a certain famous British comedian.

So we’re going through the worst of the worst and ending them once and for all. But enough talk. Let’s get started:

Bad “argument” #1: You’re almost an atheist

This “argument” goes like this: “You believe in one god and deny thousands of other gods. I just go one god further and deny the existence of all of them. So you’re almost an atheist.”

Or you may hear it worded like this: “You’re an atheist towards thousands of other gods; I’m an atheist towards all of them.”

The first thing you need to notice is that this is not an argument against the existence of God. It offers no evidence and puts forth no objection. This statement is about you. What you think and believe, how you label yourself. But it is not about God and whether or not He actually exists.

Second, theist and atheist are specific terms. Regarding the second phrasing of the slogan, you can’t be theist towards some gods and atheist towards others. That’s not how the words work. It’s like saying someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian towards chicken. Ever heard anyone say that? Me neither.

To believe in at least one god makes you some form of a theist; to believe in no gods at all makes you an atheist. By definition. There are no degrees orpercentages of theism, that if I believe in one god I’m less theist than someone who believes in two. The difference isn’t between one or many; it’s between zero and one. Let’s look at an analogy that will further show how ridiculous this statement is:

How many women do you think there are in the world? Let’s just say one billion. Out of those one billion women, I’m only married to one of them. So does that mean I’m almost single? No, that’s stupid. Married is married and single is single. Whether I’m married to one or twenty women, it doesn’t matter. I’m married. It’s binary: 1 or 0. Sure, if it’s the night before my wedding, you could say I’m almost married, if you mean that I will be married soon. But that’s in regard to time, not degrees of married-ness. And that’s not what the argument is trying to do. It’s making a fraction or a percentage of theism as if that’s meaningful in the discussion, which it isn’t. It’s ridiculous. So don’t fall for it.


Yes, I only believe in one God, but that’s because I think the God of the Bible is the one true God who exists. I’m not picking gods randomly from a hat, as if one is just as reasonable as another. I believe in a creator God, a personal First Cause who designed life, the universe and everything and is the standard of objective morals and values. I believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, vindicating His claims to be God and placing his seal of approval on the Old Testament as well as the men who would go on and write the New.

In case you haven’t gotten it yet, let me make it perfectly clear: I am not almost an atheist. I am a Christian theist.

Please understand that I’m not calling atheists stupid. I’m saying some things atheists say are stupid, such as the “almost an atheist” slogan. It needs to die. Now, if you have an honest objection to theism, feel free to raise it in the comments and we would love the opportunity to discuss it for you. But if it isn’t, I’ll add it to my list of Stuff Atheists Say.

Visit Timothy Fox’s website: Free Thinking Ministries

14 Ways for Christian Parents to Teach Kids about Atheism

By Natasha Crain

I suppose this a funny title for a post on a Christian parenting blog! But, as I often explain, we can no longer teach our kids about Christianity in a silo and expect them to automatically stand spiritually strong. The challenges today are too great. As I discussed in my last post, the atheist worldview in particular is a threat to the faith of young people.

In today’s post, I want to give you some very practical ideas for teaching your kids about atheism. The first seven are appropriate for kids of all ages, while the second seven are appropriate for middle school and older kids.

I should note that the first several ideas on this list are not necessarily for teaching the specifics of the atheist worldview. They do, however, lay an important foundation for future learning on the topic (e.g., with the last seven ideas on the list).

Without further ado, here are 14 ways to teach your kids about atheism.


1. Be intentional in pointing out that not everyone believes in God.

Depending on where you live and your kids’ educational setting, they may or may not have this basic fact fully on their radar. When I was growing up, I was very aware of different religions, but was hardly aware that there were people who didn’t believe in God until I was in high school!

The fact that God is invisible often comes up in our Bible study time with the kids (ages 5 and 3). I use it as an opportunity to acknowledge that it takes effort to understand a God we can’t see or touch, and that some people decide God must not exist if we can’t see him. I emphasize that God doesn’t just make us guess that He’s there, however; He has left us much evidence in what we can see. (See this post for discussion pointers.)


2. Discuss reasons why some people don’t believe in God.

One night per week, instead of our planned Bible study time, we let the kids ask any questions they want about God. This week, my daughter asked, “Why doesn’t everyone believe in God if the Bible tells us all about Him?” I was so happy she asked that question, and it led to a great introductory conversation about why some people reject God. At an age-appropriate level, we discussed how some people just don’t want to believe in God because they want to live without any (moral) rules; how some people see all the bad stuff happening in the world and decide a good God can’t possibly exist; how some people think the world has just always existed without a creator; how some people think the world would be very different if God existed; and so on.

This can lead to a great conversation about how the decision to accept or reject God (and Jesus) is the most important decision people must make in life.


3. When talking about stories from Jesus’ life, talk about the reactions he received from non-believers.

One of the stories that baffles me the most from Jesus’ life is when he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath and the Pharisees who were present immediately set out “to destroy Him” for violating their rules (Mark 3:6). If I just saw a withered hand miraculously restored in front of my eyes, I think I’d be convinced that this person had authority from God and I’d chill out on the Sabbath rule enforcement. But, despite this evidence, they still did not believe Jesus was God’s Son and set out to kill Him.

Events like these from Jesus’ life provide a good opportunity to talk about belief and non-belief – that even when Jesus was walking this earth and doing amazing miracles in front of people, there were those who would not believe. The Pharisees were not atheists, so this isn’t a conversation about atheism per se, but it is a conversation that helps kids start thinking about the nature of belief and unbelief.


4. Discuss Jesus’ miracles in the context of proving his identity.

When I was growing up, my sole understanding of miracles was that Jesus did a lot of cool stuff when He was on earth – stuff I had to color pictures about. It never occurred to me that there was a reason He did miracles until I was an adult. What a huge point I had missed: Jesus performed miracles in large part to prove He really was God’s Son.

The reason this point is so important to make with kids is that it solidifies an understanding that God never asked us to have a blind faith, where we just have to guess about His existence. Jesus didn’t walk around on earth merely claiming a heavenly authority. He demonstrated his power with visible evidence. When kids get a bit older, they will be ready to start learning the specifics of the evidence we have today (e.g., the cosmological argument, the design argument, the moral argument and historical evidence for the resurrection).


5. Acknowledge the uniqueness of the resurrection.

I always think it’s funny when atheists leave comments on my blog to tell me they don’t believe in Jesus because we know from science that dead people don’t come back to life. Do they think this has never occurred to Christians? Do they think I will say, “Wow, he’s right! Why did I think Jesus was resurrected all this time? I totally forgot dead people stay dead!” Yet, this “argument” is repeated over and over on the internet as if it’s proof that can falsify all of Christianity in 1-2 sentences.

Lest my kids ever feel shamed when encountering such a statement, we spend a lot of time talking about how unique and “crazy” it is that Jesus came back to life. A sample conversation when talking about the resurrection goes something like this:

“Now, do dead people ever come back to life normally?” (No, never.)

“Who is the only person that could come back to life?” (Jesus)

“Why?” (Because Jesus is God’s Son, and only God would be able to make that happen – we would never believe a “regular” person could come back to life.)

Of course, this conversation doesn’t get you all the way to why we believe the resurrection actually happened (see The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus), but it plants the seeds that the resurrection is a totally unique event that we have reason to believe in – and not because we believe people naturally come back to life from the dead.


6. Ask what your kids have heard at school (or church!) from kids who don’t believe.

As I discussed in my last post, it’s likely that your kids are encountering peers and teachers who don’t believe in God and they’ve almost certainly heard things that you would want the opportunity to weigh in on. That said, it doesn’t mean they are automatically sharing all this with you. Ask them regularly what they hear about God from kids and teachers. This gives you the opportunity to address it head-on.


7. Read apologetics books for kids together.

Here is an excellent list of apologetics resources designed for kids of various ages.

For elementary-age kids, you’ll see there are very few apologetics resources available. There are two excellent books for this age group that are not on this list, however: How Do We Know God Is Really There? and How Do We Know God Created Life?, both by Melissa Cain Travis. These are the first two books in her “Young Defenders” series, and they teach the basic ideas of the cosmological and design arguments, respectively. Each book explains its subject through the telling of an entertaining story that captures children’s attention. They are appropriate for the 5- to 10-year-old range. Definitely check out these wonderful resources!


8. [Older Kids] Discuss relevant current events from newspaper articles.

If you get in the habit of periodically visiting Christian news sites like The Christian Post or Christianity Today, you’ll see all kinds of articles that are relevant to the discussion of Christianity and atheism (the Tim Lambesis story and the launch of Atheist TV are just two examples). Make it a point to print out one article a week to discuss with your kids. It’s an excellent opportunity to get them culturally savvy before they leave home.


9. [Older Kids] Introduce atheist memes for discussion.

Long before your kids encounter any kind of intellectually sophisticated atheist arguments, they’ll likely encounter bite-sized attacks on Christianity via social media (e.g., in memes). Now, to be fair, no side wants to be represented by their least sophisticated proponents. I’m sure any atheist that reads this would bristle at the notion of teaching your kids about atheism by using memes. But the unfortunate truth is that such memes have a lot of emotional impact and are likely to reach your kids before more sophisticated atheist arguments. Choose memes from a site like this one and discuss what is being said.


10. [Older Kids] Read stories of people who turned away from Christianity.

If you Google “ex-Christian stories,” you’ll find an array of sites where former Christians post their de-conversion stories. These can actually be great discussion starters. Having the opportunity to talk about these experiences before your kids leave home is ideal for minimizing the shock factor of hearing such stories later. Talk about the person’s rationale for leaving and ask your kids what they would say to that person. Ask if they’ve ever thought some of the same things, and encourage them to be open about any doubts – now is the time to address them!

Here is an example case study of a Christian-turned-theist.


11. [Older Kids] Challenge your kids with a role play.

Want to see how prepared your kids currently are to address challenges to their faith? Try a role play. You be the atheist. See how your kids respond. Here’s an example for you to say: “I don’t believe God exists. There’s no evidence! I believe in science. Why do you believe in a God you can’t prove exists?” This is the most basic of claims – see what your kids do with it. Keep pushing back on them after they respond. Use what happens as an opportunity to look for learning opportunities in the areas that come up.


12. [Older Kids] Watch debates between a Christian and an atheist.

There are many debates available to watch online (for free). Sit down as a family to watch one and encourage everyone to take notes on the points that were strongest and weakest for both sides. Use it as a springboard for discussion when the debate is done, and follow up with study on any new points. Here are a couple of examples to consider:

William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?

Mike Licona vs. Bart Ehrman – Can Historians Prove Jesus Rose from the Dead? (I should note Ehrman is an agnostic, not an atheist.)


13. [Older Kids] Read a book together by an atheist and then a rebuttal by a Christian (or vice versa).

I recommended before that parents read one or more books written by the influential “new atheists” – Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris or Daniel Dennett. Several parents emailed me and/or commented that they would be scared to introduce their kids to this material. While I understand it’s a challenge that forces us out of our comfort zones, it’s extraordinarily important to understand that your kids will hear the arguments of these writers  whether you introduce them or not. Why not take the opportunity you still have to discuss these challenges with your kids? You don’t have to have all the answers first. Study it together.

One example combination I would recommend is The God Delusion followed byAnswering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God (a fantastic response).


14. [Older Kids] Check out atheist websites together.

I came across a website this week that graphs all the “errors and contradictions” in the Bible (check it out here). Visually impressive sites like this can be very impactful for kids and adults alike. Knowing your kids will see this kind of site eventually, why not take the time to sit down and look at one together? As in these other ideas, use it as an opportunity for questions to arise and then discuss your kids’ thoughts.


Have you proactively talked to your kids about atheism? Why or why not? If so, how have you done it?

Visit Natasha’s Blog:

See the source site of this article.


By Tim Stratton

Does objective truth apply to morality? This question has major ramifications depending on how you answer it, because it ultimately asks, “DOES GOD EXIST?” We can see this demonstrated through the use of logic in a deductive syllogism known as “The Moral Argument.”[1] Here it is:

1- If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2- Objective moral values and duties exist.

3- Therefore, God exists.

To avoid this theistic conclusion, those committed to their atheistic presuppositions desperately seek to find a way to refute at least one of these premises. Many wind up stating that objective moral values and duties do not exist. By making this move, however, they affirm that there is nothing reallywrong with Hitler’s Holocaust, the molestation of young boys in the Penn State locker room by Jerry Sandusky, or the murderous actions of ISIS. Since rejecting premise (2) tacitly affirms the atrocities of these evil men, they feel the pressure to either find another way to ground objective morality, or become theists. Some atheists, such as Sam Harris, have attempted to find a logical way to ground objective morality in the “science of human flourishing,”[2] stating: “Whatever advances the flourishing of humanity is objectively good and whatever hinders human flourishing is objectively bad.”

Harris has failed on several accounts. For instance, even if (and that’s a very big “IF”) moral values could be grounded via this “science of human flourishing,” it would be powerless to explain why the flourishing of humans is objectively good. After all, in the movie, “The Matrix,” Agent Smith referred to the flourishing of humanity as a “virus,” and a “cancer of the planet.”[3] Is Agent Smith objectively wrong, or do we simply have differing subjective opinions? It would be circular reasoning to argue that the flourishing of humanity is objectively good because one assumes it is objectively good when humanity flourishes.

I’ve also heard it said that human flourishing is objectively bad for the earth and all other forms of life. A fellow human actually argued, “If all insects on earth disappeared, within fifty years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within fifty years all (other) forms of life would flourish.”[4] So perhaps it is objectively bad for humans to flourish, at least from the perspective of “all other forms of life.” The question then becomes, why is it good for humanity to flourish, even if human flourishing hinders other forms of life?

Atheism cannot answer why the flourishing of humanity is objectively good. All the atheist can do is simply presuppose and assume it is. On the other hand, if God exists and created humanity on purpose and for the specific purpose to know, love, and enjoy a relationship with God for eternity, then it is objectively true (independent from human opinion) that it is objectively good (and right) for humanity to flourish.

Moreover, atheism is impotent to explain why we are obligated to fulfill or align our lives with any of these moral values that lead to human flourishing. If one were not to carry out any of these moral codes leading to human flourishing, and instead devoted their lives to kidnapping, rape, murder, etc., the worst they could be accused of is merely acting unfashionably, nothing more![5] The last time I checked, no one has made a case that it is objectively wrong to be considered “uncool,” or a “nerd” by the subjective opinion of the majority. Although it seems implausible that objective moral values can exist apart from God, it is logically impossible to ground objective moral duties if atheism is true.

On top of all of this, to make matters worse, this atheistic philosophy is ultimately self-refuting! Harris, as a naturalist (the view that only nature exists), holds to “scientific determinism,” which means he believes our thoughts and actions are causally determined by natural forces like physics, chemistry, and the initial conditions of the big bang. All of these things are outside of human control. Harris makes his view clear:

Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have. Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less), in that it cannot be made conceptually coherent. Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.[6]

Therefore, humans could never freely choose any action, including actions with supposed moral properties. Given these objections to the idea of a scientific foundation for an epistemology of objective morality, we must come to the conclusion that science cannot derive an ought from an is, and therefore, cannot tell us anything about how we must conduct our lives in any ethical or moral sense. If naturalistic atheism is true, we have no logical grounds of objective moral values, no logical grounds of objective duty to align our lives with any set of subjective code of ethics, and no ability to do otherwise since all would be determined by outside causal forces. Since ought implies can, and there is no ability to do otherwise in a cause and effect/determined universe (on atheistic naturalism), it follows that it is completely nonsensical for the naturalist to talk about how we ought to think, act, or behave.

Bottom line: If moral values and duties are objective, God must exist!

Stay reasonable my friends (Phil 4:5 ESV),

Tim Stratton

Visit Tim’s Website: Free Thinking Ministries

Click here to see the source site of this article


[1] The Moral Argument:

[2] Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate:

[3] The Matrix,

[4] This quote was attributed to Jonas Salk; however, I cannot find the source. Be that as it may, some people actually believe it is better for insects to flourish than it is for humans to flourish.

[5] William Lane Craig,

[6] Sam Harris, Free Will, (Free Press, New York, 2012), Page 5

The Self-Refuting Nature of Naturalism

By Tim Stratton

J.P. Moreland, in his book, “Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity,” claims that physicalism (often referred to as “naturalism”) is self-refuting for many reasons, but mainly because physicalism seems to deny the possibility of rationality. In making his rational case for rationality, he demonstrates that at least five factors must be established if authentic rational agents are to exist, and can reflect accurately upon reality. I will focus on his final point. He says,

“The activity of rational thought seems to require an agent view of the self which, in turn, involves four theses: 1- I must be able to deliberate, to reflect about what I am going to do… 2- I must have free will; that is, given choices and b, I can genuinely do both. If I do a, I could have done otherwise… 3- I am an agent. My acts are self-caused… 4- Free will is incompatible with physical determinism. They cannot both be true at the same time.”

Moreland reaches the logical conclusion, and writes, “If one is to be rational, one must be free to choose his beliefs based on reasons.” He argues that if physicalism (the belief that all that exists is the physical universe) is true, then physical determinism logically follows. If physical determinism is true, then it follows that all things (including our thoughts and beliefs) are determined and “causally settled by the laws of chemistry and physics coupled with the boundary conditions of earlier states.” This view that nature is all that exists (and therefore, God or the soul does not exist) removes any possibility for human libertarian free will.

Therefore, Moreland concludes that it is “self-refuting to argue that one ought to choose physicalism because he should see that the evidence is good for physicalism.” In fact, on the view of physicalism, there are no “oughts!” On physicalism, there are only “physical states in the brain.” Physical states simply are; therefore, one cannot derive how one ought to behave or think if a person’s actions are determined by the structure of their physical brain. Only if humanity has an aspect of our existence that is non-physical or immaterial (like the Biblical view of the human soul) can we be held responsible for making any decision, including those with any moral or rational properties.

I think Moreland is exactly right, and it seems many of the world’s most influential naturalistic atheists agree as well! Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Will Provine, Jerry Coyne, and Alex Rosenberg have all made the same case: that given their naturalistic worldview, free will does not exist! But here is the problem: did they freely and rationally come to that conclusion? Not on their view. In fact, if they are to be consistent naturalists, they should claim that they are forced to think naturalism is true due to the deterministic laws of nature, and not because of their intellect or reasoning skills. Therefore, a naturalist has no grounds to state naturalism is true. In fact, it is an utterly irrational statement (if naturalism is true or not)! If the atheist happens to be correct about naturalism, it seems that it is impossible for free will to exist, and it logically follows that rationality is lost as well.

If a naturalist claims that he has reached the view that physicalism is true based on reason, logic, and rationality, it seems that he is actually providing evidence that naturalism is false. Therefore, stating that one ought to be a naturalist is self-refuting. In fact, one ought not to listen to such irrational statements.

Moreland offers a perfect summary: “Physicalism cannot be offered as a rational theory because physicalism does away with the necessary preconditions for there to be such a thing as rationality.” If a naturalist wants to argue that rationality does not exist, they will be making two grave errors: 1- They would be claiming to be non-rational, and 2- they would be making a rational argument that rationality does not exist. It seems the rational decision one ought to come to is that naturalism is irrational, and therefore, false.

Stay reasonable my friends (Phil 4:5),

Tim Stratton

Click here to visit the source site for this article.

God’s Crime Scene

It’s about 2 a.m. on an August morning in 1979. A beautiful young nurse by the name of Lynne Knight is living in a bungalow behind a larger house in Torrance, California. As two police officers approach her door, they notice a chair overturned in the entryway and bloody footsteps leading back to the rear bedroom. Each officer has his gun drawn, not sure what to expect.

When they switch on the light, they witness the worst murder scene of their careers. Ms. Knight is lying on her bed, undressed. Her throat is deeply severed, and her lifeless body, which had been stabbed repeatedly, is covered in blood.

Under her body is 18 inches of twisted wire strung between two small pieces of wood that had been sawed off from an old broomstick. Although they’ve never seen one in person before, the officers immediately know it’s a garrote—a homemade weapon used to strangle someone in order to commit a murder quietly.

The killer tried to murder Lynne with the garrote, but couldn’t complete the evil act because she fought back. So the killer stabbed her to death and left the garrote behind in a panic.

Could the garrote lead the cops to this monster? Not soon enough. For nearly three decades the case went cold until cold case homicide detectives J. Warner Wallace and Rick Glass got involved in 2007. They dusted off the evidence left in a box at the Torrance PD, and Wallace made it his personal mission to analyze every aspect of the garrote. It turned out to be the key to the murder trial that took place last summer in the same LA courtroom where O.J. Simpson was tried. And there was familiar face in this trial. The defendant, Doug Bradford, hired O.J. lawyer Robert Shapiro to be his defense attorney.

While Bradford was a former lover of Knight, there was no eyewitness or DNA evidence to link Bradford to the murder. And there were several other suspects in the case, some of whom had since died. Wallace, Glass, and LA District Attorney John Lewin had an uphill battle to convince a jury of twelve that Bradford had indeed committed the crime. There would be no conviction unless all twelve agreed.

But Wallace, Glass and Lewin had been down this road before. They earned convictions on every cold case they had brought to trial so far. Three of those cases were so intriguing that NBC’s Dateline featured them. This case was no different: Keith Morrison and his Dateline crew were filming the case in an episode they called “The Wire.”

Although Dateline didn’t know it going in, their confidence was rewarded: on August 14, 2014, this LA jury returned a guilty verdict. Robert Shapiro, perhaps aware he had been out argued, didn’t even show up for the verdict. Doug Bradford is now serving a life sentence after being free for 35 years.

How did they get the conviction?

They began by asking the question all detectives ask at a death scene: can this death be explained by staying inside the room, or does it require us to look outside the room? Obviously, this death was a murder and required a suspect outside the room. Had this been a suicide, natural death or accidental death, the event could be explained by staying inside the room.

Then Detective Wallace used some very ingenious methods to link the garrote back to Bradford. (You can watch the entire Dateline explanation here.) He linked the effect (the garrote) back to the cause (Bradford).

Now Wallace is employing the same investigative principles he uses to solve cold case murders to eight of the greatest questions we ponder as human beings. He does this in his insightful new book, God’s Crime Scene. In the book Wallace seeks to discover if we can stay inside the room (the natural world) or must go outside the room (the supernatural world) for the causes of the following effects:

  • The origin of the universe
  • The fine-tuning of the universe
  • The origin of life
  • The origin of new life forms and biological machines
  • Consciousness
  • Free will
  • Objective Moral Values
  • Evil

Each of the eight chapters starts with the details of a real criminal case and then applies the principles to the question at hand (the Lynne Knight case is in Chapter 4).

Wallace was a committed atheist until age 35. Now he is a highly skilled author and speaker who presents a unique case for the Christian worldview across the country. Columnist Mike Adams and I have recently teamed with J. to equip Christian youth and their parents with the case for Christianity through a dynamic new College Prep program. I can tell you that audiences are captivated by the way he applies forensic principles to build the case for Christianity.

But don’t think Wallace just tows the party line. Since he is a cold case homicide detective, Wallace presents you with the evidence pro and con, and then leaves you to draw your own conclusions. He does a masterful job of laying out the evidence and even illustrates that evidence with over one hundred of his own drawings, which clarify and summarize some potentially difficult subject matter. (Who said a serious book can’t have pictures?)

God’s Crime Scene is an engaging and very readable work that investigates some of life’s most important questions. I highly recommend you get it regardless of your religious viewpoint. I can’t guarantee you’ll be convicted, but your thinking will be challenged.

Atheists Steal Rights From God

Atheist Richard Dawkins has declared, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”

But Dawkins doesn’t act like he actually believes that. He recently affirmed a woman has the right to choose an abortion and asserted that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. According to Dawkins, the “right to choose” is a good thing and giving birth to Down syndrome children is a bad thing.

Well, which is it? Is there really good and evil, or are we just moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA?

Atheists like Dawkins are often ardent supporters of rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, taxpayer-provided healthcare, welfare, contraceptives, and several other entitlements. But who says those are rights? By what objective standard are abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, taxpayer-provided healthcare, and the like, moral rights? There isn’t such a standard in the materialistic universe of atheism. So atheists must steal the grounds for objective moral rights from God while arguing that God doesn’t exist.

Now, I am not saying that you have to believe in God to be a good person or that atheists are immoral people. Some atheists live more moral lives than many Christians. I am also not saying that atheists don’t know morality. Everyone knows basic right and wrong whether they believe in God or not. In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches (see Romans 2:14-15).

What I am saying is that atheists can’t justify morality. Atheists routinely confuse knowing what’s right with justifying what’s right.They say it’s right to love. I agree, but why is it right to love. Why are we obligated to do so? The issue isn’t how we know what’s Right, but why an authoritative standard of Rightness exists in the first place.

You may come to know about objective morality in many different ways: from parents, teachers, society, your conscience, etc. And you can know it while denying God exists. But that’s like saying you can know what a book says while denying there’s an author. Of course you can do that, but there would be no book to know unless there was an author! In other words, atheists can know objective morality while denying God exists, but there would be no objective morality unless God exists.

If material nature is all that exists, which is what most atheist’s claim, then there is no such thing as an immaterial moral law.  Therefore, atheists must smuggle a moral standard into their materialistic system to get it to work, whether it’s “human flourishing,” the Golden Rule, doing what’s “best” for the most, etc. Such standards don’t exist in a materialistic universe where creatures just “dance” to the music of their DNA.

Atheists are caught in a dilemma. If God doesn’t exist, then everything is a matter of human opinion and objective moral rights don’t exist, including all those that atheists support. If God does exist, then objective moral rights exist. But those rights clearly don’t include cutting up babies in the womb, same-sex marriage, and their other invented absolutes contrary to every major religion and natural law.

Now, an atheist might say, “In our country, we have a constitution that the majority approved. We have no need to appeal to God.” True, you don’t have to appeal to God to write laws, but you do have to appeal to God if you want to ground them in anything other than human opinion. Otherwise, your “rights” are mere preferences that can be voted out of existence at the ballot box or at the whim of an activist judge or dictator. That’s why our Declaration of Independence grounds our rights in the Creator. It recognizes the fact that even if someone changes the constitution you still have certain rights because they come from God, not man-made law.

However, my point isn’t about how we should put objective God-given rights into human law. My point is, without God there are no objective human rights. There is no right to abortion or same-sex marriage. Of course, without God there is no right to life or natural marriage either!

In other words, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on — no matter how passionate you believe in certain causes or rights — without God they aren’t really rights at all. Human rights amount to no more than your subjective preferences. So atheists can believe in and fight for rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, and taxpayer-provided entitlements, but they can’t justify them as truly being rights.

In fact, to be a consistent atheist — and this is going to sound outrageous, but it’s true — you can’t believe that anyone has ever actually changed the world for the better. Objectively good political or moral reform is impossibleif atheism is true. Which means you have to believe that everything Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King did to abolish slavery and racism wasn’t really good; it was just different. It means you have to believe that rescuing Jews from the ovens was not objectively better than murdering them. It means you have to believe that gay marriage is no better than gay bashing. (Since we’re all just “dancing to our DNA,” the gay basher was just born with the anti-gay gene. You can’t blame him!) It means you have to believe that loving people is no better than raping them.

You may be thinking, “That’s outrageous! Racism, murder, assault, and rape are objectively wrong, and people do have a right not to be harmed!” I agree. But that’s true only if God exists. In an atheistic universe there is nothing objectively wrong with anything at any time. There are no limits. Anything goes. Which means to be a consistent atheist you have to believe in the outrageous.

If you are mad at me for these comments, then you agree with me in a very important sense. If you don’t like the behaviors and ideas I am advocating here, you are admitting that all behaviors and ideas are not equal — that some are closer to the real objective moral truth than others. But what is the source of that objective truth? It can’t be changeable, fallible human beings like you or me. It can only be God whose unchangeable nature is the ground of all moral value. That’s why atheists are unwittingly stealing from God whenever they claim a right to anything.

But how do we know that’s the Christian God?  Doesn’t he do evil in the Old Testament? And what about the “separation of church and state”? Those are some of the many questions I address in my new book, Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case, from which this column was adapted.

Is it Stupid to Believe in Miracles?

In my previous blog I defended the notion that it’s not stupid to believe in the creation of the universe by God. It seems fitting in this Christmas season to also look at another claim derided by skeptics – the possibility of miracles. Here is how Richard Dawkins puts it:

“The nineteenth century is the last time when it was possible for an educated person to admit to believing in miracles like the virgin birth without embarrassment. When pressed, many educated Christians are too loyal to deny the virgin birth and the resurrection. But it embarrasses them because their rational minds know that it is absurd, so they would much rather not be asked.[1]”

There certainly are educated, intelligent, science-respecting modern-day Christians who unashamedly believe in these miracles[2]. There is nothing irrational or anti-scientific about the possibility of miracles unless one can disprove the existence of anything supernatural which certainly has not been done. Contra Hume, I don’t see a non-question-begging in-principle argument against the mere possibility of miracles[3]. In previous blogs, I’ve argued that the origin of the universe and the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of nature to support life constitute evidence for God. There are many other philosophical arguments for a transcendent God capable of acting on nature – which is all I take a miracle to be. Miracles don’t break the laws of nature[4] but merely represent God acting in the universe. If we have evidence of intervention at such fundamental levels as creating a universe, setting up its initial conditions, and setting fundamental parameters to precise life-permitting values, then why think it irrational that God could create a sperm to fertilize Mary’s egg? The skeptic needs to interact with these and other arguments and should not merely dismiss the possibility of miracles by ridiculing believers – as Dawkins advocated when he said “Mock them. Ridicule them. In public.”

I’m not complaining about considering a miracle claim a priori unlikely – I actually encourage that since miracles should be expected to be rare if they occur at all. Rather, I argue against a dismissive attitude characterized by ridiculing the possibility of miracles without interacting with the evidence or arguments for God’s existence. Merely scoffing at the potential implications that miracles are possible if God exists does not disprove the hypothesis that God exists.

Even leading scientists and philosophers who are skeptical about God propose a number of speculative theories with some rather surprising implications. I likewise argue we should not dismiss the possibility that these theories are true merely because of even bizarre consequences, which in some cases are more radical than the possibility of God acting in the world. Consider the following theories:

Aliens seeded life on earth

  • Dawkins mentions this possibility in the movie Expelled.
  • Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick wrote a book that proposes this scenario to explain life’s origins on Earth.[5]
  • Implications: if this hypothesis were true, a form of Intelligent Design (ID) would be true – to some skeptics that is about as bizarre as you can get![6]

Our universe originated from a quantum fluctuation

  • Edward Tryon first proposed this and Lawrence Krauss has proposed a more recent version of this theory.
  • Implications: the entire universe would have originated from what appears to be “empty” spacetime – at least as empty as it can be made. Note that it’s more likely for a single sperm to fluctuate into existence to impregnate a virgin than it is for a huge, long-lived universe such as ours to fluctuate into existence.
  • Why I’m skeptical? I’m not skeptical because the emergence of matter from spacetime in its lowest energy state may be counterintuitive for this certainly does happen! Although virtual particles are known to emerge from rearrangements of the energy in the quantum vacuum, large fluctuations are exponentially less likely than small fluctuations – and we have quite a large universe! Likewise the emergence of long-lasting fluctuations are exponentially less likely than short-lived fluctuations where the emergent matter is converted back to energy – and we have quite a long-lived universe! Thus this theory makes predictions inconsistent with our universe (even after applying a selection effect based on the universe permitting life). Here is my critique of Krauss’s proposal in more detail.

It is probable that we’re living in a simulation

  • Nick Bostrom proposed this argument in 2001.
  • Implications: everything is an illusion and The Matrix movie tells us more about reality than all science textbooks combined.
  • The Wikipedia article linked to above has some decent critiques of this proposal but here is a nice critique of this argument by a Stanford prof.

Eternal inflation

  • Eternal inflation is probably the leading multiverse theory. We have decent reasons for believing that there was an early rapid expansion phase in our universe which is dubbed cosmic inflation (although no physical mechanism has of yet been identified that could produce this inflaton field and only certain types of inflation would result in other universes). Certain theories for mechanisms of inflation could possibly create “bubble universes” with enormous fecundity – by some estimates about 12 million billion universes created per second. Many consider these implications to be absurd but I think we need to evaluate such proposals on the basis of the evidence for this flavor of inflation rather than on the implications of the theory.
  • Implications:
    • Vilenkin summarizes the radical implications by stating that “there are infinitely many O-regions where Al Gore is president and – yes! – Elvis is still alive.[7]”
    • There are identical copies of you (and everyone else) in other universes because there are more universes than there are possible events at the quantum level and thus materialist assumptions everything is repeated an infinite number of times in an infinite multiverse.
    • There are universes in which everything is identical except that you wrote this article and I’m reading it now.

Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

There are many possible interpretations of quantum mechanics that are consistent with the math but in this radical interpretation reality branches out like a tree where every possible quantum outcome happens in one branch of the tree which constitutes a sort of parallel universe. The implications of this theory are basically just as radical as those described above for eternal inflation.

Everything that is mathematically possible is realized somewhere in the universe

  • MIT physicist Max Tegmark, who has done some important research validating various fine-tuning claims, adopts this radical viewpoint.
  • Implications: this is even more radical than the previous theories because it would entail not just that all physical possibilities but that all metaphysical possibilities are realized somewhere. There would be uncountable infinities of infinite multiverses of infinitely different types! Unicorns, fire-breathing dragons, and all science-fiction characters would certainly exist somewhere in this multiverse!
  • Why I’m skeptical: In this case perhaps the implications do lead to a reductio ad absurdum but one can also argue strongly against the theory itself. The overwhelming number of life-permitting universes within this overall universe would not have concise physical laws with minimal parameters since there are vastly more ways to have much more complex laws of nature that could still permit life – Occam ’s razor would not be a fruitful heuristic! You wouldn’t have Nobel Prize winning physicists waxing eloquent about the beauty and simplicity of physics and how that is a guide to true theories.[8]

I am skeptical of all of these theories but I don’t think we should dismiss any of them merely because their radical implications seem implausible. In the same way, one shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of God even if miracles seem too implausible to you. One should examine evidence for these theories relative to their predictions and relative to alternate theories – i.e. by employing abductive reasoning (an inference to the best explanation). I think that many of these speculative proposals are inferior alternatives to the hypothesis that God created the universe and finely-tuned the physics to support life and are actually posited to some degree as alternatives to evidence for design. Naturalistic presuppositions seem to play some role in motivating many of these speculative theories, with the probable exception of the Many Worlds Interpretation (which I think is by far the most likely of any of these to actually be true – which isn’t saying much though).

By unjustifiably endowing what is created with god-like powers, perhaps some skeptics are falling into a modern-day version of the trap that the apostle Paul warned about in Romans 1:25 where he talks about people who “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

Agnostic physicist Paul Davies also warns about “the most general multiverse theories … At least some of these universes will feature miraculous events – water turning into wine, etc. They will contain thoroughly convincing religious experiences … [that would look like] … direct revelation of a transcendent God. It follows that a general multiverse set must contain a subset that conforms to traditional religious notions of God and design.[9]” In trying to deny evidence for God, some skeptics have had to so broaden their ontology as to enable the possibility of miracles after all!


[1] Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 187.

[2] Francis Collins, John Lennox, John Polkinghorne, Mike Strauss, Don Page, Henry Schaefer, James Tour, etc.

[3] I think Hume’s arguments failed, if you disagree consider agnostic John Earman’s book entitled Hume’s Abject Failure.

[4] “Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known.” C.S. Lewis, Miracles

[5] I think he later backed away from this proposal but at one time he thought it was plausible enough to make a focal point for a book he wrote.

[6] Parenthetically, note that this possibility also shows an example of what ID advocates point out – that intelligent design (at least in biology) doesn’t necessarily even require the supernatural and thus should not be precluded from scientific consideration.

[7] Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One, p. 113. This is actually a quote from an article Vilenkin wrote for a physics journal.

[8] See Eugene Wigner’s famous essay on The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. Also, see how Weinberg regards beauty as a guide to finding the correct physical theories: Or refer to this essay for a historical review:

[9] Bernard Carr (ed.), Universe or Multiverse, p. 495.

The Eclipse of Christmas

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned – Isaiah 9:2


 On March 19th 2007 the earth experienced one of the most fantastic and amazing events in the heavens – a total eclipse of the sun! Solar eclipses have been recorded since the dawn of human history. In ages past, humans saw eclipses as full of great significance and meaning. Eclipses are certainly strange and wonderful events, even in modern times. While they are now explained by science, eclipses are still full of mystery and awe.

What exactly is a solar eclipse?  Essentially an eclipse is when the light-giving body of the sun is blocked by the moon thereby causing a temporary shadow across the surface of the Earth. The shadow of the moon on the earth is called the umbra – similar to our word umbrella – the penumbra is the larger shadow.

When a full solar eclipse happens, strange things occur on earth. The temperature can drop as much as 20 degrees! Chickens begin to roost, animals bed down, and in the shadow of the moon the world is bathed in total darkness. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Thales of Miletus predicted an eclipse which occurred during a war between the Medians and the Lydians on May 28, 585 B.C. Soldiers on both sides put down their weapons and declared peace as a result of the eclipse.[1]

Our world today is currently under another kind of eclipse – a spiritual one in which darkness is rampant.

It is an overshadowing not only of the Christmas holiday – but the PERSON which Christmas is all about – Christ, the true light of the world!

This Christmas season you may have noticed the flagrant bias against Christmas and its true meaning by the entertainment industry (Hollywood), by the retail world (businesses), and by our own State and Federal Government. Today the ACLU and other organizations are suing communities around the country for expressing their belief in the true Christmas story demanding that the “Separation of Church and State” has been violated.

For Christians, however, this should not come as a surprise. The attempted darkening of God’s light and truth has been going on for millennia. Consider this passage from John’s Gospel (considered to be John’s Nativity passage):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. …Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:1,3-5)

A few years ago, the American Atheists paid for a huge a billboard (see below) on a turnpike in New Jersey. According to David Silverman, spokesmen for the American Atheists, the purpose of the billboard was not intended to make new converts to atheism, rather it was to encourage existing atheists who are going through the motions of celebrating Christmas, to stop. Atheists should be celebrating reason, not Jesus! (not even indirectly by giving gifts and having traditional Christmas celebrations)

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Whatever the case, the billboard was just one more way of eclipsing the true Light of Christmas – the advent of the Christ-child.

Just a few days ago in the Chicago area, the heads of Mary & Joseph in a church nativity scene were vandalized and decapitated.

What other ways is the light of Christ’s truth being eclipsed today?

Sadly, there are many credible reports coming out of the Middle East of Christian children being murdered simply because of their faith in Christ! This is unbelievable! The small little light of a child is so bright that those who love the darkness must extinguish it!

There was a song I learned in Sunday School many years ago, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

When I think of the words to that children’s song I think of the little children in the Middle East who are murdered because of Christ.

Sadly, these precious little lights were eclipsed and extinguished by those who hate the truth and love darkness.

The attempt to eclipse Christmas reaches all the way back even to the very first Christmas itself. In the first century when Christ was born, a heinous crime was committed against innocent children in order to prevent the light from shining before it even dawned. The crime was committed by none other than Herod I (builder of some of the greatest structures in the ancient world – but also murderer of little children).

Bruce Scott summarizes some of Herod’s crimes here:

He was the classic paranoid tyrant. His fortresses reflected his mentality. He lived with constant fear and suspicion. He had spies everywhere, looking for seditious activity. Herod would occasionally disguise himself as a commoner and mingle among the people at night, listening for conspiracies. Suspects were captured and tortured. Anyone who did not swear allegiance to Herod was persecuted and/or killed. To be sure, Herod had no qualms about killing. He killed 2,000 survivors of five cities that had rebelled against him. He had his brother in law drowned. He executed his uncle, his wife’s grandfather, his wife, his mother in law, and three of his sons. He murdered faithful followers, servants, friends, soldiers, pious men, relatives – often on flimsy evidence of rumors or coerced confessions.

In the last days of his life, Herod arranger for all of the prominent Jewish leaders of the country to be rounded up, placed in a hippodrome and executed upon the word that he had died. He wanted to ensure that there would be mourning throughout the land after he died. Fortunately the orders were never carried out.

One of Herod’s most barbaric acts is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 2:16. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Herod had all males two years old and under in and around Bethlehem slaughtered. He was endeavoring to exterminate the promised Messiah.[2]

Herod failed.

No man can extinguish the glory of God or the light of the world, not even today.

Not only did Herod not succeed, but those who attempt to eclipse Christmas today fall short as well. God’s glory, His light and Truth fills the earth and the heavens (Psalm 19). The light of His Truth is shining even in countries where spiritual darkness is rampant. Even the blood of Christian martyrs will be used by God to bring light to those in darkness.

Sir Winston Churchill once said:

The Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end there it is.

Christmas is all about LIGHT – light as a metaphor, light as a reality, and light as a symbol of Truth. The truth that there is Truth; that there is a Creator; who made all things, and that God took on human form (in Jesus) that we might know Him and reflect His glory. Christmas is when God took on human form in the incarnation. It is marvelous and mysterious at the same time!

The primary reason why God did this is so that Christ (who was innocent and sinless) could take the sins of the world upon Himself on the cross.

Why would God do such a thing? Simply because He loves the world that He made (John 3:16). Without His act of selfless love, there would be no hope and no escape from the darkness – spiritual or otherwise.

An Attempted Eclipse at the Second Advent

In the Old Testament Psalm 2 is a Psalm about Christ. Theologians refer to it as a “Messianic Psalm.” Anything in the Old Testament that refers to Christ (the Greek word for Messiah), literally means “anointed one,” is considered to teach some truth about Israel’s Savior and King.

Psalm 2 is particularly interesting because it refers to a future time when the rulers and the nations of the earth will rise up and stand against Messiah, attempting once again, to eclipse God’s Light and Truth.

The Psalmist begins:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together…(verse 1)

And exactly what are these world-rulers meeting about? He continues:

…against the Lord and against His Anointed (Messiah), saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’ (verses 2-3).

But God’s response to them is mockery.

(Yet)…He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for Me (GOD), I have set My King (Messiah) on Zion, my holy hill’ (verses 4-5).

And God’s further response is that complete dominion of the entire earth will be given to His “Anointed” (Christ Jesus)

I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potters vessel’ (verses 7-9).

Finally a word of warning to rulers who attempt to eclipse, darken or oppose the Anointed One.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are those who take refuge in Him (verses 10-12).


To those think that Christmas as well as Christianity, is a huge sham: have you stopped to truly  consider the evidence presented on this website and by this ministry? The central claim of Christianity (the Resurrection) is supported by an amazing amount of evidence.

For Christians who feel the encroaching spiritual darkness, Christmas is a reminder to all of us that the Light of the world HAS indeed come! Until He comes again, we are commissioned by our Lord Himself (the Light of the World), to continue to shine His light in the darkness so that a total eclipse of Christmas never happens.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-17)

[1] (accessed, 12 Dec. 2014)

[2] Bruce Scott, Israel My Glory, Nov/Dec, 2006, p.20

Godbuster: A Debate With Elliot George

This past week I engaged in a radio debate with an atheist on Unbelievable on Premier Christian Radio (which you can listen to here). My interlocutor was a British atheist, a retired biology teacher who goes by the pseudonym Elliot George. In his book, Godbuster, George attempts to dismantle theistic belief. I knew when I saw the front cover that the book was unlikely to be particularly professional or intellectually challenging. After all, who writes “Dare you read this?” on the front cover of an intellectually serious piece of work? This initial impression was further compounded when I noticed that the book contains no citations or references, except for the occasional in-text citation to YouTube or Wikipedia. Apparently Elliot George was even reliant upon Wikipedia as his source for the ten commandments (p. 125).

The intellectual content of the book is also confronted with severe problems. The book showed little, if any, engagement or interaction with high-level Christian argumentation. No serious Christian arguments were addressed by the book. Instead, George throughout the book persists in attacking strawmen, even redefining terminology to comport with his position. Read more

“Naturalism or Christian Theism: Where Does the Evidence Point?” TreeSearch Founder Blake Giunta Debates Justin Schieber

I want to draw readers’ attention to a great debate that recently took place at the University of Texas at Dallas, between Blake Giunta, the founder of a recently-developed online apologetics resource called “Belief Map“, and Justin Schieber, the host of the Reasonable Doubts radio show and podcast. Blake posted a postmortem review of the debate at his website. That, along with a video of the debate itself, can be found here. I highly recommend watching this debate for yourself and reading the summary over at the TreeSearch website. Blake is an up-and-coming apologist and has shown himself to be widely read, thoughtful and reflective, and winsome in his approach. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more of him in the future.