Volitional Resistance to Christianity Often Masquerades as Rational Opposition

In another blog post I offered three reasons why people typically reject a truth claim. Sometimes folks simply have rational doubts based on the evidence, some people have doubts that are purely emotional, and others deny the truth forvolitional reasons. Until the age of thirty-five, I rejected the claims of Christianity (and theism in general). As an atheist, I adamantly identified myself in the first category of skeptics: I was a rational objector. When asked about my resistance, I repeatedly told people it was based on the lack of convincing evidence for Christianity and an abundance of evidence supporting naturalistic processes (like evolution). After examining the evidence and changing my mind, I revisited my prior opposition and realized much of my resistance was simply a matter of volition. At some point I had to ask myself, “Am I rejecting this because there isn’t enough evidence, or because I don’t want there to be enough evidence?”

Volitional Resistance Christianity

After writing the post related to rational, emotional and volitional objections, I received the following note from an atheist who comments occasionally:

“I would place myself firmly in your first category, Jim: I’m not convinced by Christianity because I don’t see evidence for it. But I would not say it’s because I lack information – it’s rather that I have too much information, especially information about how the real world works. Your placing yourself in the third category, that of volitionally rejecting God, is telling. Almost all the Christians I know who were once atheists place themselves either here or in the second category, rejecting God because they hate Him. And almost all the atheists I know fit into the first, rational category. I would almost be tempted to say that you were never a ‘true’ atheist. It seems also to be a widespread belief among Christians that most of us atheist are god-haters or self-lovers. I guess that fits in with numerous Scriptural verses, but it doesn’t reflect reality on the ground in my experience.”

I immediately recognized the words of this atheist reader. They are my words, spoken many years before I became a Christian. All the atheists I knew (virtually all my friends at the time) identified themselves in the first category as rational objectors. I’ll bet Antony Flew, the famous British philosopher and atheist, would also have identified himself in this camp prior to becoming a theist. I don’t know anyone who was once an atheist who would ever have identified themselves as anything other than a rational objector. This really shouldn’t surprise us.

Looking back at my own life as a young man who spent nine years in the university (prior to returning for seven more), I now recognize a simple truth: The more I thought I knew, the less teachable I became. My educational self-confidence led to a form of self-reliance in many aspects of my life, including the foundational worldview I constructed along the way. My “rational” resistance to theism was deeply tainted by my desire to be the author of my own worldview (rather than the acceptor of someone else’s). I don’t think this is all that uncommon for people who think they know something. That’s why virtually every skeptic identifies himself as a rational resistor, and I think this is also why those who consider themselves educated often reject any theistic worldview that requires them to submit their authority.

Theistic claims are unlike virtually any other claim we might consider. Every day we weigh the evidence related to all kinds of important decisions. Which car would be the best for my family? What school should I attend? Which career path is best suited to my skill set? We evaluate the evidence and options without thinking much about the role volition and emotion are playing. But make no mistake about it, our wills and emotions are always at work, even when we would deny this is the case. Our decisions related to theistic claims are far more critical than other decisions we might make. As C.S. Lewis wrote in God in the Dock, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Even before we begin to examine the evidence related to Christianity, we understand the implications of any future decision. If we reject Christianity (or theism broadly), we get to continue living as the ruling authority of our own lives. If we accept, we must submit to a much greater authority. Our decision related to God’s existence has a deep impact on everyother decision we make going forward. This decision related to theism is foundational in a way unlike any other. It’s foolish to think this plays no part in how we might consider the question in the first place.

Our wills and desires are often deeply connected to the rational resistance we offer prior to submitting to the truth of theism. I would never have admitted to any volitional resistance as an atheist, and it shouldn’t surprise us when other atheists also deny this to be the case. Volitional resistance to Christianity often masquerades as rational opposition.

J.Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.

 


 

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47 replies
  1. Bob Seidensticker says:

    I don’t know anyone who was once an atheist who would ever have identified themselves as anything other than a rational objector. This really shouldn’t surprise us.

    So therefore you can just dismiss atheists who say that they reject Christian claims for intellectual reasons? Sorry, but I reject Christianity for intellectual reasons.

    And BTW, I also reject Muslim, Scientology, and Hindu claims for intellectual reasons. Will you object to that as well?

    often reject any theistic worldview that requires them to submit their authority.

    Wow—why is this hard to accept? The Christian claims to an outsider are ridiculous. Of course I reject them for intellectual reasons. Your “Ah, you just want to keep sinning” or “I know: you are just too proud to bend the knee” doesn’t work.

    Reply
    • Scott says:

      Typical Bob reply. Never any actual ‘intellectual reason’. You just dismissed JWW in the same exact way you complain about him. Hypocrisy.

      If you want people to go to your website, at least give them a reason.

      Reply
  2. KR says:

    I think we can quickly dispense with volitional reasons for belief or unbelief. That would require that we can choose what we believe which makes no sense. This leaves rational and emotional reasons. Personally, I don’t think we can easily distinguish between these options. We tend to believe whatever makes the most sense to us and this may have both rational and emotional elements.
    .
    When you read the accounts of people who have lost their belief in God, one recurring theme is that they initially do everything they can to retain their belief (praying, reading Scripture, consulting with their priest, family members and friends, etc.). They feel a cognitive dissonance between their empirical experience and the tenets of the beliefs they’ve held , which leads to doubts. Their emotional reaction is to resist but in the end they come to accept that they no longer believe.
    .
    At no point do they make an active choice to stop believing (I don’t see how this would even be possible), they simply come to realize that the beliefs they’ve held no longer make sense to them. Whether you want to call this rational or emotional reasons is perhaps not important. I would call it cognitional reasons – it’s the sum of our experiences that leads us to belief or unbelief.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      KR, this completely sums up how it happened for me losing my faith. It was traumatising. At no point did I think “Hey this is good because I don’t need to bend my knee any more or submit to a higher power”, any more than I celebrated when my father died.
      .
      Wallace’s argument strikes me as a form of ad hominem – casting doubters as ruled by emotion or bad motives.

      Reply
      • KR says:

        I’ve never been a believer but I can imagine how insulting it must be to hear that “you were never a real Christian” or “you’ve rejected God because you want to sin” when you’ve done everything in your power to hold onto your belief. The idea that we can somehow will ourselves to believe or disbelieve is just absurd – if we could, there would be no such thing as doubt. Our beliefs come from our convictions and we don’t get to choose those – we’re either convinced or we’re not.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          I know atheists who lost their faith because they were committed Christians who wanted to read up on arguments against their faith so they could strengthen it. Instead they were convinced by the arguments. Often this led to despair, and they desperately talked to apologists, priests etc in a futile attempt to regain their faith. Such people don’t fit into Wallace’s narrative.

          On the subject again of thinking atheists get to do what they want, the right-wing Christians who post here seem to do what they want with greater surety – they’re convinced God backs them up. I don’t envy them, but they get to live as selfishly as they want, happy in their belief that they do so with God’s blessing.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            It seems it’s not uncommon among people who really want to investigate the foundations of their belief that they end up losing it. I once saw a YT lecture by a woman who lost her faith while studying to become a priest. She was absolutely devastated: “who goes to seminary and becomes an atheist?”. I also know that Matt Dillahunty, who is what you might call an “atheist activist” in the US, had plans to become a priest when he lost his faith.
            .
            It’s probably less likely that you will run into any problems with cognitive dissonance if you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you believe and why you believe it.

          • St. Lee says:

            Andy says: “Wallace’s argument strikes me as a form of ad hominem – casting doubters as ruled by emotion or bad motives.”

            and then 1-1/2 hours later he adds: “the right-wing Christians who post here seem to do what they want with greater surety – they’re convinced God backs them up. I don’t envy them, but they get to live as selfishly as they want, happy in their belief that they do so with God’s blessing.”

            Pot, meet Kettle.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            I made an observation about all the Trump-supporting Christians who post here, that you’ve not made any attempt to refute. Wallace just makes a guess about atheists that is in no way backed up by evidence.

          • St. Lee says:

            Andy says: “I made an observation about all the Trump-supporting Christians who post here, that you’ve not made any attempt to refute. Wallace just makes a guess about atheists that is in no way backed up by evidence.”

            An fair minded person would see that one could state it this way with equal validity: “Wallace make an observation about all atheists, but Andy just makes a guess about all the Trump supporting Christians who post here that is in no way backed up by evidence.”

            Whether I or anyone else makes an attempt to refute YOUR ad hominem has no effect on Pot/Kettle introductions

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Wallace make an observation about all atheists”
            .
            OK St Lee, please quote me where Wallace says he’s making an observation about all atheists. I see him talking about how it was for HIM. After that he just speculates that atheists are the same as he WAS. At no point does he say he’s observed a behaviour in atheists that backs up his theory.
            .
            I said: “they’re convinced God backs them up” – are you saying it’s not true that Turek and Wallace believe they share an opinion on morality with an all-knowing, all-powerful God? I’m saying this gives them extra confidence in their moral choices. Atheists I know worry a lot more about moral dilemmas and whether they’re doing the right thing. Yes, this is my observation. I don’t think it’s an ad hominem argument and no, I don’t see it as similar to Wallace saying atheists just reject God because they don’t want an authority. In fact, it’s a direct counter to the view.

          • St. Lee says:

            Andy says: “Atheists I know worry a lot more about moral dilemmas and whether they’re doing the right thing.” Well, I guess that makes sense, given that in an atheistic worldview morality will always be a moving target. But why worry about it? In the long run, for you and other atheists, the “moral” thing to do will always boil down to whatever you choose it to be. Christian’s on the other hand are charged to live up to God’s morality which reflect his holiness, and to sorrowfully repent when we fall short.

            But, no sense in beating a spiritually dead horse.

          • KR says:

            St. Lee wrote: “Well, I guess that makes sense, given that in an atheistic worldview morality will always be a moving target. But why worry about it? In the long run, for you and other atheists, the “moral” thing to do will always boil down to whatever you choose it to be. Christian’s on the other hand are charged to live up to God’s morality which reflect his holiness, and to sorrowfully repent when we fall short.”
            .
            What you’re describing is the difference between making an actual moral deliberation and simply following a decree. To me, evaluating an action from a moral perspective is to assess the effect the action will have on others. You seem more concerned about doing what you believe God is telling you to do. That’s not being moral – it’s being obedient. Big difference.

        • St. Lee says:

          KR says: ” To ME, evaluating an action from a moral perspective is to assess the effect the action will have on others.” (emphasis added)

          That says it all. YOU make YOURSELF the final judge of what is moral. How can you go wrong? And since I am sure you would never presume to force others to adopt your moral code, that leaves each person to whatever standard they might chose.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            St. Lee wrote: “That says it all. YOU make YOURSELF the final judge of what is moral.”
            .
            That’s right – I make the assessment, while you just follow orders. I make a moral deliberation, you’re just obedient. That was my point – which you didn’t address. If your actions aren’t guided by the effect they have on others, how are they moral? If someone did something harmful to you while claiming it’s what God wanted, would you simply accept it? If not, how would you prove them wrong?
            .
            “How can you go wrong?”
            .
            If you want guarantees against going wrong, are you shure doing what you’re told (or what you think you’re told) without thinking for yourself is the best way to go? Isn’t history full of examples of people doing the most horrible things while being absolutely convinced they were doing God’s work?
            .
            “And since I am sure you would never presume to force others to adopt your moral code, that leaves each person to whatever standard they might chose.”
            .
            This is the classic misrepresentation of subjective morality: equating it with a free for all. I always use the democratic legal system as a counter-example – a system of moral rules that are the result of a completely subjective political process. I’m guessing it’s the system being used where you live (unless you live in some kind of theocracy)? Does it look like everyone can do anything they want without any consequences?

          • St. Lee says:

            KR says: “This is the classic misrepresentation of subjective morality: equating it with a free for all. I always use the democratic legal system as a counter-example – a system of moral rules that are the result of a completely subjective political process. I’m guessing it’s the system being used where you live (unless you live in some kind of theocracy)? Does it look like everyone can do anything they want without any consequences?”

            Morality by majority. We’ve seen how that worked in the past and we see it in the fruits of our present system here in the good old US of A. Presently, by your example, parents murdering their babies in the womb is not immoral. If, at a future date, it becomes legally and culturally acceptable to murder those babies up to age 3, you would be forced to call that moral too, or at least admit that those who follow those laws and culturally acceptable practices have a right to call themselves moral. Working backwards, your example would lead to having to call Jim Crow laws moral, at least for those living at that point in history. Now I realize that you were using a legal system only as an example, so you may argue that not all laws are moral. But who decides that? What separates one group of people’s subjective moral principle from another group of people who have a conflicting subjective moral principle? Are they both morally right even if they are absolutely in opposition to each other?

            As to your question, ” If your actions aren’t guided by the effect they have on others, how are they moral?” The answer is that I trust in the sovereign of all creation who absolutely understands how each one’s actions effect others, and will always mete out perfect justice, sometimes swiftly, sometimes delayed, but always on his timeline. Obedience to God’s proscribed system of morality (if I can call it that) is far from as easy as you seem to think though. Since we might say that God’s morality is a reflection of his holiness, an honest person will admit to falling short ALL the time, despite our(my) best efforts. Incidentally, that “falling short” is the definition of sin. What do you call it when you fall short of upholding what you hold as moral?

          • KR says:

            “Morality by majority. We’ve seen how that worked in the past and we see it in the fruits of our present system here in the good old US of A.”
            .
            You didn’t answer my question, which was this: is it your experience that people living under a democratic rule of law (which is subjective in nature) are free to do whatever they want without any consequences? If you don’t like democracy, what would you like to replace it with? Can you offer an example of where this alternative form of government has been applied and in what way it’s better than democracy?
            .
            “Presently, by your example, parents murdering their babies in the womb is not immoral”.
            .
            Do you think it’s immoral to rob a woman of her autonomy over her own reproduction? If not, we clearly disagree on this point (and on the definition of “baby”). How do you suggest we resolve this conflict? If you think moral claims are objective, you should be able to demonstrate that your position is correct, right? So have at it. The thing is, moral disagreements are never solved that way – which makes me suspect that there is no such thing as objective morality.
            .
            “If, at a future date, it becomes legally and culturally acceptable to murder those babies up to age 3, you would be forced to call that moral too, or at least admit that those who follow those laws and culturally acceptable practices have a right to call themselves moral.”
            .
            No, I wouldn’t – and the fact that you would suggest such a thing shows that you don’t understand subjective morality. You seem to be confusing it with some kind of moral relativism where all moral positions are equally valid. I hold the subjective moral positions I hold because I think they’re better than other positions – that’s kind of the point.

            “What separates one group of people’s subjective moral principle from another group of people who have a conflicting subjective moral principle?”
            .
            Their political influence, which in a working democracy should be based on their numbers. If you don’t like this, what’s your alternative?
            .
            “As to your question, ” If your actions aren’t guided by the effect they have on others, how are they moral?” The answer is that I trust in the sovereign of all creation who absolutely understands how each one’s actions effect others, and will always mete out perfect justice, sometimes swiftly, sometimes delayed, but always on his timeline.”
            .
            That’s a get out of jail free card that could be applied in any situation. The bad guy gets his just deserts – God’s metering out perfect justice. The bad guy gets away with it – that’s “delayed justice”. Heads, I win – tails, you lose.
            .
            “Obedience to God’s proscribed system of morality (if I can call it that) is far from as easy as you seem to think though. Since we might say that God’s morality is a reflection of his holiness, an honest person will admit to falling short ALL the time, despite our(my) best efforts.”
            .
            I don’t think the execution is necessarily easy. What’s easy about it is that you’re leaving the actual decision to someone else. I think this is dangerous. When I hear believers say that if it wasn’t for their belief in God, they would have no moral restrictions at all, I find this truly disturbing.
            .
            “What do you call it when you fall short of upholding what you hold as moral?”
            .
            I call it a failure. I would still like an answer to this question: If someone did something harmful to you while claiming it’s what God wanted, would you simply accept it? If not, how would you prove them wrong? I’d like to know how much you’re willing to detach the morality of an action from the effect it has on yourself or anyone else.

      • David says:

        I was a believer for over 40 years. A serious one. And I don’t care what the character assassin Wallace wants to assume about my motives, I gave up on my faith for intellectual reasons. And I didn’t walk away from faith because of my “secret sin”. I’m still an honest person, do my best to serve others and be kind, still happily married to my wife of over 30 years, still a very caring father. The only thing I do now that I didn’t use to do is think freely. It’s a beautiful thing. The two things I stopped doing when I deconverted were stopped going to church each week and stopped paying the temple tax. Also a beautiful thing.

        Reply
  3. Doug says:

    What those “rational atheists” seem to miss (and it isn’t particularly “rational” of them!) is that the claim “there is no evidence for X” (no matter what X is) requires a familiarity with X in order for the claim to be expressed with any intellectual honesty. And this is precisely the thing that atheists do not have (indeed, they claim that it is impossible to have) in the case of X=God. It would appear that their claim “There is no evidence for God” acts as an atheist smokescreen to *avoid* any such familiarity. Perhaps they worry that James 4:8 might end up being true after all.

    Reply
  4. Mark ducharme says:

    Dear (all) atheists,

    One question: if ALL of us theists & atheists (or “transtheists/atheists” for that matter) are merely sophisticated cosmic dirt-clods all soon to return to our original, inanimate state from whence we came, why do you – the rational ones – suffer the ill manners of your knuckle dragging cousins on the irrational side of the scale when, assuming you’re correct, the ONLY commodity of ANY value/consequence is time? I mean, what if you “win a soul” to your side? Do they get some sort of certificate? “The bearer of this certificate entitled to one more precious, irretrievable moment on earth engaged in needless ‘evangelism’ of fellow lump of cosmic dirt for no particular reason at all.”

    Dear (any) Christian,

    One of many questions: what are we doing? Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL peoples to Myself.”( John 12:32 NKJV) Then, on the day of Pentecost, jesus poured out His Spirit on ALL flesh (see: Acts 2:17) Now, if this is so (and I hope you believe it is), what are we doing reaching out to those who have already rejected their God and then, take it a step further and, come to you “in the name” of the empty vanity (if I may be redundant) of atheism for the SPECIFIC purposes of shooting holes in your faith? Aren’t we supposed to grow? Aren’t we supposed to mature? God is reaching out to these souls, you can be sure of it. Their presence on this site & others like it is 100% PROOF that Jesus is calling to them. That is WHY they have this burning need to spend what is (according to their own claims) ostensibly the thing of GREATEST value in all the Universe – their irretrievable TIME. As soon as they spend ONE SECOND of that precious commodity evangelizing/refuting YOU, you KNOW it is NOT you, but Jesus Himself, they have been struggling w/ for a long time already.

    We ALL struggle w/ these issues. John babtist, whosaid, “Behold! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”, also asked, “Are you the One?”. Life’s hard. God knows, and He will not rest until they have been given every chance to break. And then, He will give them endless more opportunities to respond. He’s a good God, and a patient. So why not simply live being aware of how long He suffered your poor manners until you broke & follow the SPIRIT if He wants you to reach out to an obstinate goad kicker?

    In the meantime, ask yourself this: when did Paul ever continue on at “a dry hole” when it was clear he was not appreciated? My recollection has it he shook the dust off his feet & went down the road to the next group of possibilities. Loving people does require casting your precious jewels before pearl stompers. We need each other & each other’s encouragement. Jesus will make it clear when He wants you to knock on that brick wall. Until then, rest in His perfect love for you and let THAT be your witness.

    p.s. Sorry for CAPS, don’t know how to bold/italicize here
    God bless, m.d.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “why do you – the rational ones – suffer the ill manners of your knuckle dragging cousins”
      It’s just the cross we bear. You’re welcome.
      I value truth over falsehoods and I care about others – just who I am, I guess. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Kyle says:

        We also tend to care about those affected by the more negative side of Christianity. You know the whole pray-the-gay-away types. The missions to Uganda to incite fear and push them to enact death penalties for homosexuals. The abhorrent anti-intellectualism they force down people’s throats with crap like YEC or anti-evolution. We’d like people to grow up and live in a society where these atrocities don’t happen.

        Reply
        • Susan Tan says:

          You ought to be more concerned about yourselves instead of being overly concerned about issues.

          All that rage and unforgiveness and critical spirit you are carrying around must really be draining you.

          I have watched atheists try to cast guilt and shame on Christians over and over for the problems of other Christians in different cultures. But how is one Christian responsible for the intellectual errors and failures of another and for their cultural differences?

          We all really need to learn self moderation and to walk more closely with God and to actually try and be Christlike.

          Because some person in Uganda who perceives life differently from a Westerner does things differently than we do in the West that is no indictment of Jesus Christ.

          You are guilty of falsely attributing the problems of some Christians to Western Christians so you can try and shame us into your worldview.

          But I wouldn’t have your worldview for anything.

          Your worldview leaves you open to too many evil influences and instead of admitting that and getting help from God you spend a lot of time trying to shame people through arguments.

          How is that working out for you? Most people don’t like hanging around blamers, complainers, haters, shamers, etc.

          You should read up on the critical spirit. It is a mean spirit to have but I see atheists exhibiting it quite a bit on message boards.

          Read up on the perverse spirit.

          Atheism exhibits what the Bible calls a perverse spirit.

          Proverbs 14:2 “He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD; but he that is perverse in his ways, despiseth him.”

          Without Jesus Christ you are the subject of evil spirits.

          Andy Ryan always acts like he is angry on this board and Christ said evil is murder in your hearts.

          I hope younall repent. When you do God immediately forgives you and you can get these evil spirits off your back and out of your lives once and for all.

          Imagine falling under the influence of evil so completely that you castigate God as if he were Satan but atheists do that all the time.

          Examine yourselves. Why do you do that?

          Isn’t that an evil spirit prompting all that personal criticism?

          You can never examine yourself but you can blames shame, complain, and get angry all over the place on people you don’t even know and that is not normal.

          Get Jesus and experience the liberating power of love and forgiveness in your life.

          If you never experienced it then it is because you never had him and/or let some kind of false evil spirit rule you.

          Pick up a copy of Strongman’s His Name…What’s His Game?

          Well the devil’s game is to kill, rob and destroy people through other people if he can get them to do his dirty work.

          With all your arguing, blaming, shaming and complaining and attacks on God’s character that pretty much demonstrates a complete lack of self control on your parts.

          The truth can hurt but it can set you free. Sin enslaves: the mind, the heart, the will, etc. Check what God says on it. The devil doesn’t want you checking and learning any of God’s ways then you might get free of him and not be such a good servant of his.

          Thanks for reading. God Bless!

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “You ought to be more concerned about yourselves instead of being overly concerned about issues.”
            This is no time for selfishness, unfortunately, Susan. White supremacists are on the march and the president can barely bring himself to condemn them. All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to think they shouldn’t be ‘overly concerned about issues’. And ‘I’m all right Jack’ is playing into their hands.

  5. Susan says:

    Andy, this is a crazy world. So many evil spirits trying to run it all the time. I wouldn’t be in politics and I am a former political science major. I think the politicians are taking on a lot of accountability before God and most of them are doing it from the wrong motives. There are some good ones but there are so many evil figs it is hard to spot them.

    While you worry over the Christian outliers some of the Christians are worried over the globalists and the New World Order. The NWO is in process. You can google George W. Bush Sr. mentioning it and many other famous people referring to it in their speeches.

    There are a lot of false prophets and poor theology mainstream now so it is best you know the Bible yourself and don’t consult just anybody on it.

    We have an old sinful nature. So it is hard to tell if Satan is a real being or if God just personified him to teach His children to take back authority over themselves before giving into evil impulses. That is self control isn’t it?

    A lot of your people in politics may appear in control. They do like their political facades and “looking presidential”. Trump challenges that because he doesn’t match the stereotype.

    But most of them are probably greedy for power and self privilege. I just read an article the other day how Hilary Clinton promotes that she is for the ordinary guy while she carries Alexander McQueen handbags that cost $3,500 and gets large suites for her self and staff at the Bellagio for some conference she attended in Vegas. She even claimed to be broke once when the Clintons were leaving office in the White House but the Clintons are far from broke.

    There is always a big appearnace versus reality war going on in this world but don’t let it suck you in and take your peace with God away.

    I have a hard time being a good Christian myself because I am perfectionistic which inclines me towards being a bit too legalistic.

    But that’s the old me competing with the new me and I suspect atheists are overly perfectionistic too. Because your perfectionism in logic makes you look for contradictions where they don’t exist.

    Don’t let this world deny you a right relationship with God. It likes to do that. There are a lot of deceivers in the world. They went out into the world in the apostles’ day and they have only magnified in number since.

    That’s why seeking to know God’s perspective is best.

    I know a lot of Christians who constantly focus on political events. Some are masters of history and they can show exactly how the history of the world dovetails with the Book of Revelation. That is 20-20 hindsight.

    But nobody really knows with thorough accuracy how the future plays out. They try to predict but the future is in God’s hands.

    So no need to worry about the future if your mind is stayed on Him.

    We already know from the Beatitudes that God will take care of us. But the world doesn’t like to listen to Christians. For some reason it can’t relax it’s grip on it’s panic.

    I’ve met people living under a spirit of fear, too. What is paranoid personality disorder or a phobia or anxiety or xenophobia? Aren’t they just different forms of spirits of fear? Some of these spirits are communicated to people or are learned through culture or family relationships.

    If you want to get past these evil spirits that just keep one upset then you have to learn to reason along with God in the scriptures and trust Jesus.

    Dawkins knows next to nothing on the human psyche. He’s not even a psychiatrist.

    God knows because He made people. Read up on demonology. It’s a catalog of human problems.

    Psychiatry don’t classify faith as a delusion.

    Anyone trying to grasp and address the sin nature isn’t dealing with delusion. He is dealing with the reality of the human condition.

    We shouldn’t have poverty today. We have the ability and technological resources to end poverty but we don’t have enough people working from the right motivations to end it. Jesus said we will always have the poor among us and he was right.

    The rich couldn’t feel good about their status if the poor didn’t exist, could they?

    Study the spirits in the Bible. The old sin nature contains a lot of old evil spirits and motivations so we really do need God’s help to uproot them and replace them with a better spirit.

    Read up on the roots and the spirits. Some people have roots of bitterness and bitterness will take over and ruin a person’s whole life. Self pity is another. It is related to the spirit of heaviness. It will drag a person down into depression and sometimes suicide.

    A beattitude. A beautiful attitude is a sign that one possesses a beautiful spirit.

    If you Jesus then he will make an encourager out of you rather than all these negative states.

    I understand you have probably been studying or may have encountered counterfeit Christians.

    That’s why you have to make your mind up about Jesus and study to be an approved man. He will show you through the scriptures personally if you accept him.

    You should stay in the scrrptures alot. He teaches, changes, guides and comforts His people with them. Then you will have a beautiful attitude no matter what this world does. You will have on the whole Armor of God and this world will be able to do you a lot less damage then. Read Ephesians 4.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “She even claimed to be broke once when the Clintons were leaving office in the White House but the Clintons are far from broke”
      Right, because they’ve made a lot of money since leaving the White House. Doesn’t mean she was lying about being broke back then. I believe they spent a fortune on legal fees for cheating Bill!
      .
      “Hilary Clinton promotes that she is for the ordinary guy while she carries Alexander McQueen handbags that cost $3,500 ”
      I don’t know whether Hilary is really for the ordinary guy, but there’s nothing inherently contradictory about being rich and trying to present poorer people. Trump claimed the same and he’s got gold toilets. You could level the same charge at the pope.
      .
      “Dawkins knows next to nothing on the human psyche”
      I don’t quote him as an expert on the subject.
      .
      “Psychiatry don’t classify faith as a delusion”
      Indeed. They don’t class homosexuality as a disorder either.
      .
      “Trump challenges that because he doesn’t match the stereotype”
      He talks about grabbing women’s privates, he struggles to condemn Nazis, he calls Mexicans rapists, he whines continually about bad press, he made baseless accusations about his predecessor, etc etc. If the stereotype of a President is someone with at least a basic amount of common decency, then sure, Trump doesn’t match that stereotype.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Oh I understand Trump has a lot of problems. His social skills are lacking. I used to watch him on The Apprentice and was shocked at how crass his manners were then.

        Americans are at the mercy of the two party system though. We have limited choices to choose from for our elected officials. Only a Democrat or Republican really have a chance of winning so it’s all who plays politics best. Not who’s morals are the best.

        People have made the presidency about issues and not morals for a while now. That’s worldly thinking and even the Christians get dragged into it and issues can become bigger than character.

        If you doubt the character of the electees what do yo have to go on but issues?

        I suspect people don’t inspect people for integrity like they used to and we don’t hold presidents to the accountability that we ought to either so they get away with things.

        Nixon, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, etc. they all were let off the hook.

        Welcome to the dirty world of politics. That’s why evangelism is so important. It’s God changing human nature for the better.

        God is the only one who can change the heart behind the character.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “If you doubt the character of the electees what do yo have to go on but issues?
          When one candidate keeps lying and lying in the face of video evidence, and has the support of the KKK and white supremacists, and praises dictator while making fun of disabled people and war heroes and Gold Star families, despite being a draft dodger himself… then talk of issue is moot because you can’t trust anything he says. Every promise he made while campaigning turned out to be a lie and that was obvious WHILE he was campaigning.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I am a bad political scientist. I barely followed the campaign. I thought the important point was that he was anti-abortion which isn’t an important issue.

            I know a Christian apologist who acts like the abortion debate is over but it isn’t. He based his opinion off of public opinion polls but he is in fact incorrect. The polls have been swinging in favor of anti- abortion in recent years according to the Students for Life who keep track of such things.

            As long as a single Christian perceives all people as belonging to God that is one debate that won’t be over.

            Imagine giving in on such an important issue just because of an opinion poll when opinion polls change regularly.

            I love babies and innocent children are always voiceless in society and in need of protection that is why courts have to appoint guardian ad litems for children who don’t have responsible adults looking out for them. If adults won’t stand up for children’s rights then who will?

      • Susan says:

        This may be too radical an idea for you but if you live In London why don’t you approach the London City Mission, explain to them you are an atheist but would like to volunteer for them in some capacity so you can observe a genuine Christian in action for a while. From what I understand the true genuine evangelical Christians are dwindling in number in the U.S. and may be in Europe but there’s nothing like seeing the real deal since you most likely never have.

        Just an idea. How can you really argue against something you never got to examine up close.

        Go to the mission and tell them you are collecting evidence and would like to hang out collecting some and see what you find out.

        God Bless! Hope this helps.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Out of interest, have you ever spent time doing something similar with Muslim or Hindu groups? Have you ever spent an extended time face to face with an atheist talking about your differing views? I’ve had long in-person discussion with members of many different religions. Right now I’m a very busy father of two, not in London. Discussions online is my limit – I do what I can to spread good arguments and counter bad ones though, correcting misconceptions and misinformation where I can.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I had a very diverse religious background.

            I know few arheists in real life. I don’t meet too many people self identifying as atheist except online. I used to debate atheists extensively on and off for 13 years and almost became a professional apologist. But it didn’t come to pass and that’s probably for the best.

            I am in a different intellectual phase now and arguing doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

            Ever felt like “been there done that”?
            Well that’s what it is like so I am mellow and don’t need to score notches on my belt these days if I ever really did. I have nothing left to prove if I ever did.

  6. Howard Pepper says:

    There are a number of good points in the comments above. But one big issue neither the post nor the comments have addressed is this: What God IS it that “theists” are believing in and atheists are not? Concepts of the God to be believed in or not are widely varied! The issues being debated are basically pointless to discuss unless there is defining of what KIND of God.

    The number of atheists in terms of pure matter-only “believers” is fairly small, percentage wise (i.e. no God/god and no consciousness outside of physical bodies). The more significant disagreements, by far, I see as among the various types of skeptics and theists…. AND some of us who are NOT traditional theists at all, but also are not matter-only believers (materialists). Many of us call our position “panentheism”, which itself has variations, and is not the same as pantheism.

    Reply
  7. Susan says:

    Oops meant to say “abortion is an important issue” above.

    I can’t get used to not having a correction feature on this blog.

    Reply
  8. Susan says:

    Well you need to rethink God’s side of things Andy. What if you and a lot of atheists suffer from perfectionistic tendencies. A lot of intelligent people would. You just have to learn to repent and trust God to forgive your sins.

    I am just a sinner like everybody else but I did learn how to say sorry to God and when I screw up He takes me back. I am not perfect but He is. Perfectly loving and forgiving that is.

    If I had to walk the legalistic tightrope in some people’s heads that they decree that I walk then I would never make it. That is why I utterly rely on God to take care of me and I believe He does.

    Imagine the tightrope a person must feel he has to walk if he is overly logical. Those people must be worried about failing God all the time but failure is where a relationship is tested the most and I don’t think God walked out on me yet and I certainly have had my struggles with sin and vain imaginations. Everybody does.

    But nothing really depends on me. It all depends on Him. He’s the shepherd and I am the wayward sheep so I just go along as dociley with him as I can except of course I wander into error and sin every now and then and I have to say sorry all over again and He accepts me and takes me back because He is the better half in this relationship. I am just a sinner hanging by His grace. But He never drops anybody that refuses to drop a connection with Him.

    Reply
      • Susan says:

        Well I have always been a believer in God. I believer in predestination and that God could be making orders out of people sorting us in this lifetime into orders. There are orders in nature that we call phylums in science but we can’t see the order because were still in the process of transformational change.

        Since I have always been a believer and was a really late in life student of the Bible I don’t see much point in questioning my identity. It could have been determined before I was born. The Bible says it was.

        The Bible is really a book written to believers. Christians have shared the book with people for so long that the world thinks that book belongs to the world but it is essentially a believer’s self help manual for right living. Writtten for people capable of dedicating themselves to God.

        There is really no point in arguing it with unbelievers because all they will do is try to convict God with it unlawfully because they have dedicated themselves to unbelief. Their motivation for that is knowable only to themselves but people are all self deceptive to various degrees and sometimes blind to their own faults.

        So I have discovered after 13 years of arguing and discussing with believers just to go my own way. I am happier that way. Happy with my belief. It is the way God made me. I don’t have a limitless curiosity about the world like a lot of scientists do. I already know too much about the world to remember it all and keep it all straight. So I just focus on Jesus more each day and I feel that I am naturally happier doing that. This world likes to break people’s focus on Jesus but I find the more time I spend around him in prayer and scriptures the happier I am.

        I compare myself to other people around me who have weaker relationships with God and I find that I am less moody than they are. I grew up in a family of moody people with an almost non-existent background in church going yet I am turning out to be very devout after all. My mother was devout but she didn’t show it much until I was a teenager. Still I always knew there was a God and I always knew not to let this world devalue Him even before I ever read the Bible. So I would say predestination figured into all that some how.

        That is why I say to study God’s perspective. I really don’t know if this world can bring enough force to bear on someone to destroy their internal belief system capability or not but I suppose you could train belief out of someone. Science seems to in some people that take it too far.

        But God works personally with people so be careful to maintain your autonomy enough to check things out for yourself before dedicating yourself one way or the other. That way if you are wrong you have a chance of self correcting.

        I am sure my belief is a part of my being and it has been with me too long now to be disrupted though many people have tried to do it now over the past 13 years. I might have been a guinea pig for many atheists to see if they can break me. But I never broke thanks be to God.

        Have a great day! I have to get this packing issue resolved. Moving is such a pain in the neck. God bless to your children, too. You’re probably a great father because you are so concerned about them.

        Reply
      • Susan says:

        I hope you are writing down the titles of all these books I have been mentioning in my posts then you can actually read all the heavyweights that counter and correct all those lightweight thinkers you have been allowing to dominate your thinking.

        You must like to read. So if you’re going to read then try reading the best source: God in the Bible and the best interpretations.

        I know you have been hanging around all the railers. Some people are filled with rage and other perverse ideas and like to rail at God.

        But that will just get you in a quarrelsome, unpeaceful state of mind and being when you allow them to communicate their errors and issues to you like a virus.

        Look for the healthier minds to learn from. People already have enough problems and issues without letting the troublemakers exacerbate errors in their minds.

        Imagine all the people you have been agreeing with Andy who never even bothered to learn doctrine. So that means they never bothered to learn God’s position or perspective or ways or intents or promises, plan or purposes. But they rail at Him anyways and encourage you to do likewise.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Susan, I read Frank’s book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”. It was full of simple errors. I’ve read the Bible too. I’ve listened to lots of William Lane Craig debates.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            Most of God’s followers will admit that God’s position doesn’t totally depend on their articulation of it. They make a sincere attempt to get everything right but this is God’s position and to some extent we are all responsible for working out our own faith. If we just get a few pointers from God’s followers then that is about all you can expect. Theology is a weird subject. It is both simple and tricky at the same time. The Gospel in a nutshell is John 3:16 but the whole of the Bible is the background and the future of that one verse.

            You don’t build a relationship with God on other people’s arguments.

            Every argument that was ever made by every Christian could be wiped out tomorrow and I would still believe in God because faith is like a living organism planted in the human soul and people’s mistakes don’t control or dismiss God. Not really.

            I also haven’t read Turek’s book. But in my experience whether or not he has made any errors that still doesn’t absolve atheism of their’s.

            In the days when I used to examine atheist arguments I always felt there were flaws in the basic, principle assumptions of any of their arguments. You can always take out the first assumption upon which everything is based and if you do the argument falls.

            Christianity is different. Christians know they are limited to these finite bodies so try though we may to articulate and represent God we most likely can only get enough right to help people start a beginning understanding of Him. After that people do have to work out their own faith.

            Will we all have the same experiences. Probably not. Some will be similar but some different. I know a seriously devout Bible teacher who says baptism at the age of around 13 cured him of getting into fistfights. He used to be easily provoked before then but the Spirit settled on him and he stopped fighting early on in life. I have never experienced anything like that because I was never easily provoked as a child. But I had other issues to handle. Who doesn’t?

            So according to our own nature God works with each one of us.

            In all the variation of human experience, limitations etc. some details are bound to get lost.

            But the most important thing is a simple faith in Jesus.

            I had a medical doctor with a great intellect tell me once to just keep it simple but I was already way past that trying to learn theology and we’re 2017 years after the Cross and every single detail to get it right requires painstaking attention.

            But if you can get down the core doctrines then you will be all right but how can anyone master doctrine without Jesus? I don’t think it is possible.
            You can always parrot learned facts you have memorized by true faith is experiential. You really learn it is true by living it and you just can’t argue a person out of a life or what a Christian calls a walk by catching a misstep or a petty detail that is out of alignment.

            What issues and struggles you would personally encounter if you accepted Jesus I really don’t know because we all are different but just look to Jesus. All he did was good so he is a good, sound tutor and role model to have. Don’t get hung up on the Old Testament. The Old Testament is important. It gave us the Ten Commandments, the prophecies and a lot of examples illustrating both good and bad conduct to refer to but there is a sea change between the Old and the New Testaments. Study the Book of Acts and the Day of Pentecost.
            The sea change arrived with the Day of Pentecost.

            It can be harder for some than others to move away from their old sin nature but with God as Jesus said all things are possible.

            Don’t let other people’s failure or successes dictate your own with the Savior. You just take it one day at a time moment by moment and let God help you work out your own faith.

            We’re not trusting just anybody. We’re trusting someone holy and perfect. If you learn that everything depends on God and not on people’s works then that is a start in the right direction.
            Many people today still try to make faith about
            perfect observance but if God could expect perfection in this lifetime from any of us then Jesus didn’t need to come down from heaven to save us.

            Many times I doubt myself. But I don’t doubt God. The Bible says He is able and I look back on my own life sometimes and realize I should be dead today but I am not because God was able to make an impression on me. I sometimes compare myself to Marilyn Monroe and I realize I have what Monroe must have lacked. A relationship with God. Monroe was looking to men her whole life and they kept failing her. If she had had Jesus then she could have shrugged off all the broken relationships and went on with him but she didn’t. So she made way too much of this life but this life is temporary and passing away and God has promised everyone that believes in Him a better future.

            So without God this life can really get to you if you let it.

            I knew an atheist several years ago. Quite a brilliant person with a physics degree and knew everything about philosophy and psychology and computers. I recently found out after telling everyone he was going off to medical school that he died about a year later. He admitted to being bipolar. He was one of the few atheists I knew of who used to read all the articles I posted on Christian topics. Some of the other atheists weren’t reading them so I hope now that he turned out to be a genuine truth seeker after all. He was quite set against Jesus and preferred Buddha and came from a Mormon background but maybe in that year when he went off to medical school but really disappeared only to die…maybe God made an impression on him. I will never know but I hope something got through to him. Being bipolar could be quite a set back to understanding God but I do know a few people that God saved personally from issues similar to that atheists’ struggle with being bipolar because there are Christians around today testifying that He saved them.

            Look at ” A More Excellent Way” by Henry W. Wright or read Andrew Wommack on the topic of healing or read up on the life of Smith Wigglesworth. All give insight into God’s ability to heal people but you have to get up the nerve to answer when He calls. Never mind what the people around you have done or are doing. This is personal. Does another person’s success or failure really defines your’s if you never even tried?

            It doesn’t for me and sometimes I fail and I am less than perfect but I just know that God is great enough to supply where I lack.

            Read Psalm 136. I don’t have to be so perfect about everything and neither does Turek or any other Christian when the God we believe in is so able.

            Everything depends on God very little on me or any other Christian.

            They tried to torture God out of Richard Wurmbrand in a Moscow prison and he still knew God after all that.

            That would be proof to some that God exists.

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