CIA: Your Chance to Make an Impact with Christian Apologetics

If you have some expertise in the area of Christian Apologetics, we are looking for instructors to help us take I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist to students and churches around the country.  Greg Koukl and Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason, and Jason Reed of Southern Evangelical Seminary will join me, Frank Turek, in leading the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA), August 13-15 in Charlotte, NC.  Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answerman, will join us for a special Q and A on Wednesday night August 13.  This is a great opportunity for you to make an impact through apologetics. But hurry– the application deadline is June 24.  Click here for details.?

Atheists: What kind of God would you accept?

Recently I posed a question to our fellow truth seekers who are atheists, and we had a great response and good dialog.

It let us understand a lot of the feelings and reasons for either accepting or not accepting the God of the Christians if He was real.

So here’s another question in the same vein (there maybe some overlap naturally).

Atheists, what kind of God would you accept?

Imagine that a God existed, what characteristics would you require of him before you accepted him as your God and what behavioral change if any would that cause in you?  E.g.

1. He would be more obvious about revealing himself (this I think is a given).

2. He would not send anyone to hell just for not believing he didn’t exist.

3. He would not allow suffering or evil.

4. He would punish bad folks like Hitler or hypocritical Christians with a bolt of lightning on the spot.

5. He would not require anyone to glorify or worship him. 

6. He would not have any rules or regulations that we would have to follow.  etc.  

So what characteristics would you require before you accepted him as your God. If the answer is None, that’s a valid answer too, especially if you say why.

Suffering and Evil: Can God do anything?

Can God do Anything? Can he create a stone so big that he cannot move it?

Part 1

 

In a response to one of our readers, I said that God cannot do anything. The reader responded?

“Then what about Miracles.”

 

In another post an atheist reader said:

“… God can suspend the law of gravity. God can make 2+2=5 if it suits his purpose …..”

 

But this seems to indicate a misunderstanding of the Christian God.

So let me see if I can clarify the Christian concept of God. I won’t try to speak for the god of any other religion or myth or a god of anyone’s personal creation. Why? Because that is only limited by your imagination.

 

In addition do understand that what I am about to present to you is Theology. That is, I maybe able to prove some of these concepts to you, but I can’t prove them all. However I do think that they are all rational, logical and self consistent. So take them as information to understand how Christian philosophers and how most of us on this site view God.

 

  1. God cannot do “anything.”

From the writings of the great Christian theologians, thinkers, scientists and philosophers, and from the Bible, we can derive the following of characteristics of the First Cause, uncaused Creator:

God cannot do anything which is not actually possible, for example contrary to the statement above, He cannot make 2+2=5,

He cannot stop being God,

He cannot make a round square in 2 dimensional space,

He cannot make black actually be white,

He cannot paint a door black with red paint bought from Home Depot and no added chemicals and no added activity on his part,

He cannot give someone freedom of choice in an area and then not let them choose in that area.

 

After all it would seem fallacious and irrational to try to argue that the source of all rationality could be irrational itself.

 

Here are some more:

He cannot sin,

He cannot cease to exist.

He cannot “not” be God.

He cannot make another God.

He cannot allow anything else to become God.

He cannot be irrational.

He cannot be evil.

He cannot be lonely.

He cannot be unhappy.

He cannot have unmet needs.

He cannot begin to exist.

He cannot forget.

He cannot learn anything new (at least as far as we understand).

The last few imply that He  cannot change his mind (because that would mean he’d learned some new information or remembered something He’d forgotten, He can however have always planned to do something different at a certain point in time, or plan to respond to a certain event in a specific way).

And he certainly cannot create a stone so big that he cannot move it. But we’ll cover that in a second blog.

So if someone asks you if God can do anything. Say “No.”

 

 

  1. The Miracles in the Bible are not “actually” impossible

As indicated in my blog of April 28th, Biblical Miracles do not fall into this category because they are not actually “impossible.” They are not irrational. Why do we say that? Well because any miracle or supernatural event recorded in the Bible could have been made to take place if enough technology, equipment or knowledge was available or if an extra-dimensional being was able to manipulate molecules, electrons, quarks or leptons. Look carefully, there are no truly impossible or irrational miracles in the Bible including the creation of the Universe and if an atheist were to suggest that creating matter from nothing is impossible, we’d say “Really, then why do you think it happened accidentally”.

 

 By the way the feasibility of most of the Biblical miracles (short of creation) through technology is quite an interesting observation when you think about it. I doubt I can claim credit for it though, because, as with most things I think I have discovered, I always end up finding out that some other philosopher or theologian had already written about it 1000-2000 years ago.

 

An entry on my personal webpage titled “Is the Supernatural Impossible? Goes in to more detail about miracles (click for the link).

 

Let’s look briefly at the the water into wine miracle. The water was changed into wine most probably at the molecular level. It wasn’t water that was also wine (and while it could have been hypnotism, the passage indicates it wasn’t and anyway hypnotism isn’t “impossible”). He changed the water molecules into actual wine molecules (and very good wine at that). Was it synthetic wine? It probably was. (I say probably because of course he could have also swapped the water for pre-made wine – OK OK using the equivalent of a transporter beam…I’m a geek at heart).

 

What about dead men walking as in the case of those who came to life, again healing of tissue and reanimation of life (God created life to begin with – a merging of some multi-dimensional elements back to their original 4D ones) are all “possible” rational things. They are just not natural or common.

 

So we see none of these miracles are actually impossible.

Now it’s worth nothing that impossibility is usually seen best in philosophical or conceptual issues. E.g. making the square root of (-1) = 1. Or making the cube of 5, 124. All of which are rationally impossible.

 

You see making 1+1 = 3 or 2+2= 5 is not a matter of manipulating molecules. It is dealing with things at a much basic and in a sense a higher level. It’s dealing with things at the point of rationality. Mess with that and everything stops being cohesive, the universe starts to unravel, and you start to violate the very nature of God.

 

What about changing the laws of Gravity in the example. I would argue that God cannot change or suspend the laws of Gravity without having to then simultaneously attend to all the other effects of there being no Gravity. That’s not to say that he couldn’t also stop every individual thing from flinging out in to space using some other power, but the point is He would have to attend to it.

It’s of value to note that the original comment about Gravity by the atheist at the opening of this blog was said in the context of God being unable to be studied by science because he could change the laws of Gravity and we would not know about it. However, the nature of God being what it is and from the examples in the Biblical miracles, I tend to think that if God did do a miracle he would allow the side effects of the miracle to be apparent such that we could indeed measure it and see that an external agent had acted upon things. I also think that while God could indeed do things that cannot be studied by science, He could just as well do certain things that COULD be studied by science and point to him. So we cannot apriori assume that God did not do so. Maybe God has chosen to be able to be detected by Science. In which case would not science be the best way to detect him?

 

You cannot merely say that Science cannot prove God. If God wanted to, Science could indeed prove God. And contrary to what some believe, most Christians Theologians and Philosophers think that God HAS indeed chosen to leave his Fingerprint for us to detect. The question we are asking ourselves is “Why is he not more obvious about it?”, for that discussion you’ll have to wait for a future post titled “Why doesn’t God just show himself?” So for now know that the miracles in the Bible at not rationally or logically impossible.

 

 

  1. But I thought God was Omnipotent

(this section was updated with the definition of Pantocrator on 5/11/08 – I would like t
o express my appreciation to “db0” who allowed me to bounce these arguments off him and prompted this further expansion, I’m adding this back into the blog to allow people to see most of the argument in one place. )

 

God IS omnipotent (all powerful) but he is not omni-able (i.e. able to do “any”thing at least not anything irrational). The definition of power should not be confused with capability when it comes to the Christian God. There’s a clear distinction between the two. Christian theologians have long taught that God is all-powerful, not all capable when it comes to irrationality. And if you think about this, we see this as being tied into His character, His personality, His being. If God were to become irrational, it would violate his nature and he would cease to be God. God is a slave to his character (but then so are you).

 

But you say doesn’t the Bible say that God can do anything? Actually no, it does not. The word used in the Bible for Omni-Potent comes from the Greek word Pantocrator (Pantokrator). Pantocrator means all ruling. Almighty not all-capable. Let me explain.

 

When the Vulgate Manuscript was created as a translation from the Greek Septuagint (the Old Testament) into Latin, the Greek word Pantocrator was translated into the Latin “omnipotens”, which means having all the power (again note this is still technically correct as it means having power and strength not capability). The word is tied to rulers and ruling not to being all “capable.”

Over the recent years many Christians just started assuming that Omnipotence meant all capable and modern language uses it that way. But the original Greek and Hebrew do not support this. (BTW that’s what we think is infallible, the original Greek and Hebrew autographs written by the apostles and prophets. We don’t think the translations are or the copies are infallible.)

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon explains Pantocrator as:

Strong’s Number: 3841

pantokravtwr from (3956) and (2904)?

Transliterated Word TDNT Entry:?Pantokrator

Noun: Masculine?

Definition: he who holds sway over all things, the ruler of all, almighty: God

 

As you can see Pantocrator does not mean all capable even of irrational things. It just means powerful, mighty and ruler of all.

 

Hope this helps clarify where we stand.

 

 

Neil Mammen

By the way: Any errors in examples or theology are my errors and not those of the owners of this site.

 

Coming soon:

Part II. The correct response to: Can God create a stone so big that he cannot move it?

Why Trust Reason if You’re an Atheist?

If you read the threads of several of the blog entries on this site, you will see both atheists and Christians charging one another with committing “logical fallacies.”  The assumption both sides are making is that there is this objective realm of reason out there that: 1) we all have access to; 2) tells us the truth about the real world; and 3) is something we ought to use correctly if we want to know the truth. I think those are good assumptions.  My question for the atheists is how do you justify these assumptions if there is no God? 

If atheistic materialism is true, it seems to me that reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism). Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true. Chemicals don’t reason, they react.  

This is ironic because atheistswho often claim to be champions of truth and reason– have made truth and reason impossible by their theory of materialism. So even when atheists are right about something, their worldview gives us no reason to believe them because reason itself is impossible in a world governed only by chemical and physical forces. 

Not only is reason impossible in an atheistic world, but the typical atheist assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified. Why not? Because reason actually requires faith. As J. Budziszewski points out in his book What We Can’t Not Know, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway. Reason itself presupposes faith. Why? Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless. Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it. 

Let’s unpack Budziszewskis point by considering the source of reason. Our ability to reason can come from one of only two sources: either our ability to reason arose from preexisting intelligence or it did not, in which case it arose from mindless matter. The atheists/Darwinists/materialists believe, by faith, that our minds arose from mindless matter without intelligent intervention. I say “by faith” because it contradicts all scientific observation, which demonstrates that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. You can’t give what you haven’t got, yet atheists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced itself into intelligent life. This is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop. 

I think it makes much more sense to believe that the human mind is made in the image of the Great Mind– God. In other words, our minds can apprehend truth and can reason about reality because they were built by the Architect of truth, reality, and reason itself.

So I have two questions for atheists:  1) What is the source of this immaterial reality known as reason that we are all presupposing, utilizing in our discussions, and accusing one other of violating on occasion?; and 2) If there is no God and we are nothing but chemicals, why should we trust anything we think, including the thought that there is no God?

Is the Problem of Evil and Suffering Insurmountable?

So how do Christians respond to this Epicurean question?

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?”

And especially for Dave the “suffering version of this =:

Either God wants to abolish suffering, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish suffering, and God really wants to do it, why is there suffering in the world?”

{P.S. This was not the blog entry that I’ve been working on. I will post that shortly.}

ALERT: The above blog entry is now posted at: http://crossexamined.thehuntercreative.com/?p=57 Click to go there.

What if the God of the Christians was real?

Frank will be back in the US anytime soon, so he’ll be taking back the helm shortly. So as he returns, I’d like to ask our Atheist fellow travelers in search of truth this question: 

Atheist readers, what if you were to suddenly find out tomorrow that the God of the Christian Evangelicals was real?

I.e. that He HAD created the world, had created you, the Bible was true, Jesus had died on the cross for your sins etc etc.

What would you do?  

Now I realize that you may be wont to say: Ah, it won’t happen.

And I agree it won’t happen tomorrow and if you are right and I am wrong, it will NEVER happen.

But do humor me. What if it did happen?

I’m not asking HOW it would happen (see Frank’s earlier blog on this) but IF it happened, how would you react?

What is your response?

Anger? Agreement? Kowtowing to this being? Resigned acceptance, passive aggression, active aggression, resigned damnation? 

Would you fall on your face and worship him? Why or why not?

What would you do?

Do you think a being that creates you automatically deserves your worship? (Note he does not needs it, but desires it.)   

So what would you do if you found out tomorrow that the God of the Bible was real?

Berlinski: An argument against Religion is an argument against Math

David Berlinski, a secular Jew and author of The Devil’s Delusion (a great read, I might add), interviewed himself a couple of years ago here, and had this exchange with himself:

… But why should we take seriously religious beliefs that are lacking in evidence?

DB: We shouldn’t. But asking someone like Richard Dawkins about the evidence for God’s existence is a little like asking a quadruple amputee to run the marathon. The interesting point is elsewhere. There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time ….

… Come again …DB: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.

… And this is something that you, a secular Jew, believe? …

DB: What a question! I feel like I’m being interviewed by the Dean at some horrible community college. Do you believe in the university’s mission – that sort of thing. Look, I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs. What I do believe is that theology is no more an impossible achievement than mathematics. The same rational standards apply. Does the system make sense; does it explain something? Are there deep principles at work. Is it productive? 

You can get Berlinski’s new book here.  Comments anyone? 

Atheists: What Evidence Would You Need To See?

There are several intelligents atheists and skeptics who have responded to posts on this blog in recent weeks.  I appreciate the spirited and mostly respectful debate, as well as the contribution of several theists and Christians.  I’d like to pose a question to the atheists and skeptics and ask everyone to comment.  Here it is: 

What evidence would you need to see for you to be reasonably convinced that a theistic God exists?

I look forward to your responses.  

Who Made God?

The following is from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pages 92-93:   In light of all the evidence for a beginning of the space-time universe, the Beginner must be outside the space-time universe. When God is suggested as the Beginner, atheists are quick to ask the age-old question, Then who made God? If everything needs a cause, then God needs a cause too!

As we have seen, the Law of Causality is the very foundation of science. Science is a search for causes, and that search is based on our consistent observation that everything that has a beginning has a cause. In fact, the question “Who made God?” points out how seriously we take the Law of Causality. Its taken for granted that virtually everything needs a cause. 

So why then ­doesnt God need a cause? Because the atheist’s contention misunderstands the Law of Causality. The Law of Causality does not say that everything needs a cause. It says that everything that comes to be needs a cause. God did not come to be. No one made God. He is unmade. As an eternal being, God did not have a beginning, so he ­didn’t need a cause. 

But wait,” the atheist will protest, if you can have an eternal God, then I can have an eternal universe! After all, if the universe is eternal, then it did not have a cause. Yes, it is logically possible that the universe is eternal and therefore ­didn’t have a cause. In fact, it is one of only two possibilities: either the universe, or something outside the universe, is eternal. (Since something undeniably exists today, then something must have always existed; we have only two choices: the universe, or something that caused the universe.)  

The problem for the atheist is that while it is logically possible that the universe is eternal, it does not seem to be actually possible. For all the scientific and philosophical evidence (SURGE– Second Law, Universe is expanding, Radiation Afterglow, Great galaxy seeds, Einstein’s GR– radioactive decay, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument) tells us the universe cannot be eternal. So by ruling out one of the two options, we are left with the only other optionsomething outside the universe is eternal. 

When you get right down to it, there are only two possibilities for anything that exists: either 1) it has always existed and is therefore uncaused, or 2) it had a beginning and was caused by something else (it can’t be self-caused, because it would have had to exist already in order to cause anything).  According to overwhelming evidence, the universe had a beginning, so it must be caused by something elseby something outside itself.  Notice that this conclusion is consistent with theistic religions, but it is not based on those religionsit is based on good reason and evidence. 

So what is this First Cause like? One might think you need to rely on a Bible or some other so-called religious revelation to answer that question, but, again, we don’t need anyones scripture to figure that out. Einstein was right when he said, Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. Religion can be informed and confirmed by science, as it is by the Cosmological Argument. Namely, we can discover some characteristics of the First Cause just from the evidence weve discussed in this chapter. From that evidence alone, we know the First Cause must be:

* self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, and immaterial (since the First Cause created time, space, and matter, the First Cause must be outside of time, space, and matter). In other words, he is without limits, or infinite;

unimaginably powerful, to create the entire universe out of nothing;

* supremely intelligent, to design the universe with such incredible precision (we=ll see more of this in the next chapter);

*  personal, in order to choose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe (an impersonal force has no ability to make choices).

These characteristics of the First Cause are exactly the characteristics theists ascribe to God. Again, these characteristics are not based on someone=s religion or subjective experience. They are drawn from the scientific evidence we have just reviewed, and they help us see a critically important section of the box top to this puzzle we call life.   

(The book then goes on to build the case that this is the God of Christianity.) 

God and the Astronomers

Since the post Darwinists Have a Lot of Explaining to Do asks atheists to offer causes for at least ten truths about reality, I thought I would present my perspective on each of those truths.  We’ll start with the origin of the universe out of nothing.  The following is an excerpt from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (p. 84) and follows a section about the evidence that the universe began with a Big Bang out of nothing.  I appreciate your comments.      

So the universe had a beginning. What does that mean for the question of God’s existence? The man who now sits in Edwin Hubble’s chair at the Mount Wilson observatory has a few things to say about that. His name is Robert Jastrow, an astronomer we’ve already quoted in this chapter. In addition to serving as the director of Mount Wilson, Jastrow is the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. Obviously his credentials as a scientist are impeccable. That’s why his book God and the Astronomers made such an impression on those investigating the implications of the Big Bang, namely those asking the question “Does the Big Bang point to God?” Jastrow reveals in the opening line of chapter 1 that he has no religious axe to grind. He writes, “When an astronomer writes about God, his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. In my case it should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in religious matters.” 

In light of Jastrow’s personal agnosticism, his theistic quotations are all the more provocative. After explaining some of the Big Bang evidence we’ve just reviewed, Jastrow writes, “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

The overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang and its consistency with the biblical account in Genesis led Jastrow to observe in an interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

By evoking the supernatural, Jastrow echoes the conclusion of Einstein contemporary Arthur Eddington. As we mentioned earlier, although he found it “repugnant,” Eddington admitted, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

Now why would Jastrow and Eddington admit that there are “supernatural” forces at work? Why ­couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Because these scientists know as well as anyone that natural forces– indeed all of nature– were created at the Big Bang. In other words, the Big Bang was the beginning point for the entire physical universe. Time, space, and matter came into existence at that point. There was no natural world or natural law prior to the Big Bang. Since a cause cannot come after its effect, natural forces cannot account for the Big Bang. Therefore, there must be something outside of nature to do the job. That’s exactly what the word supernatural means. 

The discoverers of the radiation afterglow, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, were not Bible-thumpers either. Both initially believed in the Steady State Theory. But due to the mounting evidence, they’ve since changed their views and acknowledged facts that are consistent with the Bible. Penzias admits, “The Steady State theory turned out to be so ugly that people dismissed it. The easiest way to fit the observations with the least number of parameters was one in which the universe was created out of nothing, in an instant, and continues to expand.” 

Wilson, who once took a class from Fred Hoyle (the man who popularized the Steady State Theory in 1948), said, “I philosophically liked the Steady State. And clearly I’ve had to give that up.” When science writer Fred Heeren asked him if the Big Bang evidence is indicative of a Creator, Wilson responded, “Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”  George Smoot echoed Wilson’s assessment. He said, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”

Robert Jastrow suggested the same when he ended his book God and the Astronomers with this classic line:  “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Darwinists Have a Lot of Explaining to Do

There have been a couple of posts on this blog that have spurred quite a good discussion (see below:  Atheists Have No Basis for Morality, and  “Expelled” is a Must See: Freedom is the Victim).  While there have been some good points made back and forth, it seems like we are getting down in the weeds on a couple of issues and perhaps ignoring the bigger picture.  So this post is an attempt to take a look at the bigger picture.  Namely, what is the correct worldview?  A worldview is an explanation for why things are the way they are.  

Every effect has a cause and there are many effects about reality that cry out for an explanation.  A worldview, for example, answers questions such as: Why does this majestic and vast universe exist?  What caused these amazing beings we call life?  Why are we conscious?  Why is there good?  Why is there evil?  In fact, why is there anything at all?  Any good worldview must be able to explain at least the following:  

1.     The origin of the universe out of nothing

2.     The design of the universe

3.     The origin of the four natural forces

4.     The origin of the laws of logic and reason itself

5.     The origin of the laws of mathematics

6.     The origin of the law of causality

7.     The origin of objective morality & human rights

8.     The origin and design of life

9.     The origin and design of new life forms

10.  The origin of intelligence, personality, and information 

Anyone trying to tell you that his worldview is right must provide an adequate cause for all of those realities—atheists must, Christians must, and so must everyone in between.  It won’t do any good to have a possible explanation for one or two of them and ignore the rest. 

For example, Darwinists (i.e. atheistic evolutionists) try to tell us they have a cause for number nine.  But even if we overlook the flaws and gaps in their theory and grant them that point, so what? It seems to me that their worldview can’t be considered adequate until they can provide an adequate cause for the other nine realities on the list.  In other words, even if new life forms can be explained by Darwinism, how do atheists explain everything else?  How does a biological theory explain the origin and design of the universe, physics, morality, reason, intelligence, etc.?

Now some of you may respond, “So what’s your explanation? Did God do everything? Isn’t that God-of-the-Gaps?”  I’ll address that in a future post (if you want to jump ahead, you can read it in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist). For now, forget my explanation.  What I’d like to see, if you are a Darwinist, is your explanation.  How does an atheist explain the other nine realities on the list?  I know it’s a lot to discuss.  Maybe take one at a time.  I look forward to your insights.  (Thanks especially to Christopher and JJ for participating.) 

Atheists Have No Basis for Morality

Monday night at UNC Wilmington, despite no cooperation from the school (see my last post), just over 200 people showed up for part 1 of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  Several atheists asked questions– actually made statements– and struggled greatly when I asked them to offer some objective basis for morality from their atheistic worldview.   They kept trying to give tests for how we know something is moral rather than why something is moral.  One atheist said “not harming people” is the standard.  But why is harming people wrong if there is no God?  Another said, “happiness” is the basis for morality.  (After I asked him, “Happiness according to who, Mother Teresa or Hitler?,”  he said, “I need to think about this more,” and then sat down.)  This says nothing about the intelligence of these people– there just is no good answer to the question.   Without God there is no basis for objective morals.  It’s just Mother Teresa’s opinion against Hitler’s.

The atheists’ responses to the cosmological and design arguments– the arguments that show us that the universe exploded into being out of nothing and did so with amazing design and precision– were “we don’t know how that happened.”   This is simply an evasion of the evidence that clearly points to an eternal, immaterial, powerful, intelligent, personal and moral First Cause of the universe.   Since nature itself was created, this Cause must be beyond nature or “supernatural.” 

We got plenty of encouraging comments from the believers who attended. And there will be a lot more written about this event when popular columnist Mike Adams posts his next column later this week.  Just to give you a preview: during the Q&A Mike, who was our host, asked all faculty members to stand up.  Only one person other than himself did.  Out of 400-500 professors at UNC Wilmington– a school where the faculty claims to be champions of “diversity”– only two show up to a talk about the most important subject anyone could discuss (God)? Adams will have a field day with this.  Track his columns on Townhall.com here.

Over 2000 Attend "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" at ONU

Last week we launched our invasion of college campuses for the Spring with two major events at Olivet Nazarene University (ONU is a one-hundred-year-old Christian university about 80 miles south of Chicago, but it may be best known as the site for the Chicago Bears Training camp). I spoke to 1800 students and faculty at chapel in the morning and nearly 400 at a smaller venue that night.

Despite being a Christian school, there is a faculty member at ONU who has convinced many of the students to believe in evolution. I didn’t know that going in, but I sure stirred up a lot of controversy by making a strong scientific case for creation and intelligent design. Several questions during the Q & A period had to do with evolution. Afterwards, many of the students, and even some faculty members, expressed great relief to finally see compelling evidence for creation and intelligent design. One professor, who was visibly moved by the evidence, said, “Wow, you really expanded my understanding of God and his creation with the arguments you presented.” It’s always gratifying to affect the professors positively because they have an ongoing influence with the students.

If evolution has crept into even our Christian universities, you can only imagine what’s being taught at typical secular schools. It’s no wonder why 75% of our kids are leaving the church!

Two secular schools are next. We head to NC State on February 7th for an I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist seminar in Reynolds Coliseum from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The next day I’ll spend four hours taking questions, first from the Campus Crusade team and then from the students. A return visit to Appalachian State will happen Monday, February 25.

One more exciting note: our weekly one-hour TV show called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist beings Sunday night, February 17 at 6 pm. on DirecTV Channel 378.  Now, we don’t charge students for college events, and we pay to produce the TV show and the CrossExamined website. That’s why we’ll only be able to help our kids see the truth if you continue to support us both prayerfully and financially. Please pray as we again enter the lion’s den, and make a high-impact donation securely by selecting Donate on the left. Thank you for partnering with us!

Atheists Have No Way Out: Christians Do

Atheist Christopher Hitchens is morally outraged with the Christian belief that God created us and put us under Him without our consent.  (This is typical of atheists– they have moral objections to God while they have no objective grounds by which to make moral objections unless God exists.)  But as John Piper points out, even if God does not exist, we are still here without our consent:

The fact that we had no say in our creation is what creation means. It’s also what birth means. Neither God nor Mother Nature gives anyone the choice to be created or born. There is a lesson in that. We are dependent. That’s not debatable. It’s just the way it is. But if you embrace the reality of dependence and follow it all the way to the free gift of salvation through Christ, it is not condemnation but liberation. It does not feel disempowering to be called a “fellow-heir of God” (Romans 8:17). (For Piper’s complete post, click  here .)

Atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris assert that belief in God is our greatest problem.  If we could only do away with belief in God we would be liberated.  But exactly the opposite is true.  Liberation comes from putting our trust in Christ.  In other words, we can all overcome the hand we’ve been dealt– each of us can choose to become children of God (John 1:12) and be liberated from this bondage to decay and death.  Through Christ we have some control.  Through atheism we have none– atheism leaves no way out.

Turning the Tables on the Atheist

Before I attended Seminary, I took a class in Constitutional law at The George Washington University.   The class was taught by a very liberal law professor who made it known she was an atheist. When we got to the so-called “separation of church and state” issue, the professor realized I was a Christian and began to grill me.

“Frank, are you a fundamentalist?” she barked, the contempt clear in her tone. “Are you so religious that you believe the Bible is actually true?”

I tentatively answered yes, but I was stammering in my response. I hardly knew how to support my beliefs with any facts.  Like most other Christian college students, I didn’t know much about the evidence in support of the Bible and Christianity, and I didn’t know how to turn the tables on her to reveal that she too was a religious fundamentalist who had a lot of faith.

What?  She was an atheist—how could she be a religious fundamentalist with faith?  It may sound counterintuitive, but I think it’s true. Just like everyone else, she was religious, had her own fundamentals, and needed faith to believe them.  In fact, I’d like to offer a three-point news bulletin for the mocking critics of Christianity: 

1. Everyone is religious.
Did you ever notice that people often give their opinions about religion but then caveat it by saying, “But I’m not a theologian”? Well, the truth is everyone’s a theologian.  Some are more informed theologians than others, but everyone has some set of religious beliefs.  If we define religion as someone’s explanation of ultimate reality—the origin, operation, meaning, and destiny of all things—then everyone is religious, including atheists.  While some people devoutly believe that God is the cause of all this, others are just as devout in support of an atheistic explanation or that of some other religious worldview.  Even those who are devoutly agnostic or indifferent have taken a religious position.  It’s not that they’ve never thought about an explanation for ultimate reality, it’s that they believe the question is unknowable, undecided, or irrelevant.  That’s still a religious position.

2. Everyone is a fundamentalist.
While Christians are often mocked for being fundamentalists, everyone has fundamental beliefs about why things are the way they are and how we should live in light of that.  Atheists, for example, believe that there is no God; that life arose from non-life without any intelligent intervention; that there is no afterlife; and that science is the supreme if not exclusive source of all truth. Those fundamental beliefs usually result in moral fundamentals such as tolerance for everything (except for those who don’t tolerate everything).  So the question is not who is or isn’t a fundamentalist—everyone is.  The question is “whose fundamentals are true?”

3. Everyone has faith.
If we define faith as believing something that lacks complete evidence, then everyone has faith.  Since no human is all-knowing, all of us—even atheists—require some degree of faith to believe our religious fundamentals.  Those that have more evidence for their fundamentals, require less faith– those with less evidence need more faith.  

I say all that to show that the playing field is truly level. Everyone is some kind of religious fundamentalist, and everyone has a certain amount of faith.  That means that the seventy-five percent of churched students who reject the Christian faith after high school are implicitly adopting another faith, one with its own set of fundamentals and religious beliefs. Of course, few realize that.  They think that they are becoming beacons of rationality by rejecting Christianity.  Ironically, I think the evidence shows that the exact opposite is true.  Those who reject Christianity are becoming more irrational.  They require more faith to believe their new worldview than the Christian one they abandoned.  The I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist seminar begins to show them why.   (To go deeper into the details, get the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.)