Tag Archives: Atheism

Another example of how Atheism is a religion…

Uncommon Descent posted this bit about Adam Rutherford’s comments on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life: Adam Rutherford on his atheists’ Holy Book.

I blogged in the past about the religious overtones of Atheism, and how those within it’s own ranks even see the connection, though are usually loathe to admit it.   Church of the New Atheists was my previous post, which explores the odd idea of Atheist “church,” and the fact that many atheists, especially online, love to proselytize their religion.

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Filed under Atheism, Origins

Apologetics; The Cosmological Argument for God

Again, this is a philosophical approach to the question of whether or not there is a God.  This argument is presented in philosophy in a general way; is there a God? Not, is there a specific being from any one religion.  The Cosmological Argument for God is the answer to the question; where did all of this (everything contained in our universe; space/time, energy, matter, etc…) come from?

The basic idea is this; nothing comes from nothing.  If there was ever absolutely nothing, nothing could ever come into being; therefore there had to be something.  This something must be transcendent.  It must not be bound by space/time, since space/time is the very thing that had a beginning, that had to come from something.

This is why the Cosmological Argument is sometimes referred to as the “First-Cause” Argument.  The first cause is God.  Also, a similar title for God; the Unmoved Mover comes up as well.  The universe is in motion…to have energy there needs to be “motion.”  Nothing can begin to move unless acted upon by a force…so, there has to be something to act to get everything moving.  You wind up, through a series of logical steps at God, Who is moved by no other (“unmoved”).  If you want to dig more into this from both a philosophical perspective, and a theological one, St. Thomas’ Five Ways are a good starting point.

These things point at the logical conclusion of the self-existence of God.  Many skeptics, at this point, ask; Well, who created God, and where did He come from?  This question shows a basic lack of understanding the philosophical arguments here.

One simplistic way to explain it is this; Every event (and effect) must have a cause and every created thing must have a creator.  God is neither an event (nor an effect), not a created thing; therefore has no need of a cause nor a creator.  God has no beginning, since that first “thing” would be transcendent, or outside of time.  If there is no time, there is no “beginning” only self existence.

Now, does the Bible back this idea up?  Absolutely.

First, you have God as the Creator of all; the originator of all things.  Secondly, we have His wonderfully descriptive title of Himself; I AM that I AM.

Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

God reveals truth in His names, and He is very clear here; He is I AM; eternally self-existent…He also clearly tells Who He is in relation to Moses, so that he can relate to God in a more human fashion; The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  God does not depend on anything or anyone else for existence unlike everything else.

This is yet another case where logic and reason points directly at the fact that a God does indeed exist and He is The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that makes Him the Christian God.  Christ Himself alluded to His divine title, and the Jewish listeners understood Him quite plainly:

John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

What did the hearers do?  Picked up rocks to stone Him to death.  Jesus was indeed existent prior to Abraham, even as He was in their midst.  At that point in time, not only was He present with those people, He was also, at the same time, present before Abraham was.  He also was the Creator;

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Just further support for the Cosmological Argument pointing at the Christian God…and also support for the triune nature of God.

Again, as a remind, if you are taking a philosophy course this argument is presented for the general idea of a God.  But, you can see that the Bible not only backs this argument up, it also points directly at The One and only God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Names of God, Philosophy, Theology

Apologetics; The Teleological Argument for God

Within Philosophy in general, there usually is a discussion of whether or not “God” exists.  Now, it is important to keep in mind that the starting point in philosophy is a general idea of “God” not a specific religious POV on who/what God is.  So, there have been many philosophers that attempt to approach the question from a general standpoint, often formulating arguments for His existence.

One of the major arguments is the Teleological Argument for God.  Many people just refer to it as the Design Argument…however, it isn’t just limited to “design” as in the design of living organisms, but also of the apparent “purposefulness” of the universe; which includes the ordered nature of it, such as the laws of physics.

This would also include things like the apparent unity, and harmony of systems within the universe.  I’ve posted before on Ecological Biodiversity, and how the whole system works together to the point that naturalistic explanations fall flat.

Paley often comes up in the discussion of the Teleological Argument for God; him and his famous watch analogy.  If you happened upon a watch…even laying on the moon…would you believe it just happened to assemble itself, or would you assume it was designed by an intelligence?  Simplistic explanation, but you get the picture.

Of course now, the Intelligent Design movement has kind of resurrected this idea and really grounded it in more technical science.  The mass amount of information contained in DNA is one example of a subject now scrutinized by ID…not only the amount contained in DNA, but also how that information is read and interpreted and if there can actually be any logical naturalistic atheistic explanation behind all of this, which, thus far, there is not.

If we want to move more to the specific, we find that indeed God Himself puts forth a teleological argument in several places in the Bible, for example;

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

So, the idea that design and purpose shows forth the fact of God can be seen both in a general way, and also in a Christian framework.  As always in apologetics, some people will really like to use and/or hear logical arguments such as the teleological argument that can be used either generally to point to a God, or more specifically to point to The God.  Some people do not care for philosophical types of apologetics, and prefer to use other arguments.  I’m not coming down on the issue either way, in this blog post, just teaching about it, but I do know that as Paul said, everyone is truly without excuse.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Origins, Philosophy, Theology

The Reliability of the Bible…

One question that comes up in many Apologetics discussions is the reliability of the Biblical manuscripts.  In this post, I am not going to go into detail, as others have already done so.  What I am going to do is give an overview of why this is important, and also give resources for everyone to utilize.

First a word about a common misunderstanding.  Many times, atheists and other non-believers will accuse Christians of circular logic.  They present a straw man which says, “Christians always refer to the Bible as evidence of God, and they use the Bible as evidence for the Bible which is circular.”  Now, I personally haven’t read any Christian doing this; what I do see often is fundamental lack of knowledge on the part of the atheist/non-believer as to what the Bible actually is, and why we cite it as evidence, and why it can indeed be cited as evidence.

The Bible is not a single document.  It is a collection of ancient documents into one binding; there is a distinct difference.  These documents often have different authors and are written at different periods of time; they are not one solid document that someone can accuse of trying to “prove itself.”  This would be like entering into a conversation about the formation and continuation of the United States government.  In this discussion, one person pulls out a book titled: Political Documents of the United States.

Within this single book is a collection of many US documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Records of the Continental Congress, etc…  Then, the person they are dialoging with says, “You can’t use that as a reference, or as evidence when talking about the formation and continuation of the US Government!  Political Documents of the United States is just used to prove itself, that’s circular logic!”

So, a basic understanding of the composition of the Bible is needed; it is a collection of manuscripts authored by around 40 human authors (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit).  It’s contents were written over a large span of time, and in different languages, mainly Hebrew and Greek.  Then these manuscripts were collected together into one volume; The Bible.  Using various historical manuscripts to support other historical manuscripts is not “proving itself.”

There is also discussion about how these particular manuscripts made it into the collection.  Many non-believers try to make this into some huge conspiracy, while the Roman church tries to use it as proof that they are the one true church, and them alone; some fundamentalist Christians act as though God handed the KJV in it’s final form to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  The truth is that it was a very organic and logical process, though the inclusion of some of the books were debated.  I just read a good description of the process in Ravi Zacharias’ new book; Beyond Opinion.   In fact, the very first chapter of Ravi’s book is devoted to “Postmodern challenges to the Bible,” written by Amy Orr-Ewing.

In general, certain criteria were met, and as these criteria were met, the books eventually came to be “canonized” formally, though many of the books were already recognized as canon.  (The criteria were things like; authorship by an apostle or an immediate follower of an apostle (which obviously included dating), church usage, etc…)

Are the documents reliable?  Are they accurate?  Can you trust the Eyewitness accounts in the NT? There are many good resources for these questions here are only a few:

Online resource examples;Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament Reliability on CARM,  The Textual Reliability of the New Testament from Tekton, Miscellaneous Questions on the Text of the Old Testament from Tekton, Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf, Archaeology and the New Testament from Apologetics Press,  Is scripture a “faithful record” of historical events? from Apologetics Press, etc… etc…

Other resource examples; The New Testament Documents by F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce, Trial of the witnesses by Thomas Sherlock, General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix, Can I trust the Bible? by D. Bock & R. Zacharias, and also examples of general resources that touch upon Biblical matters: The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, The Case for Christ by Strobel, etc… etc…

These resources are for everyone; believers, skeptics, anyone interested in Biblical apologetics.  What I offered here is not even a drop in the bucket of information available on this topic.  One of the most frustrating things in Apologetics can be talking to people who glean all their knowledge of the Bible from proselytizing atheistic websites that have lists of points to try to bring up in a debate.  Why is it frustrating? Because the answers are readily available to all, and are very easy to find, and also it shows, to me, that the person isn’t really wanting an answer, no…they are trying to proselytize their own beliefs.

Take the time to study the Bible.  It can be trusted and is highly reliable; historically, prophetically, internally, archaeologically, etc…  The resources I gave above have many other resources cited in their notes, so, keep digging and studying.  The Bible can stand up to all scrutiny.

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Filed under Apologetics, Logic, The Bible, Uncategorized

Poe’s Law and Fundamentalist Evolutionists…

As a lot of my readers will know, there is a definite “internet culture”, with it’s own slang, it’s own etiquette (netiquette), it’s own definitions for words, etc… Sometimes something becomes so popular on the ‘net that it enters the mainstream world.  These things that move through some portions of the ‘net like wildfire take a bit more time to filter to everyone in the “real world,” and to certain parts of the web.  An example of what I’m referring to is a phrase like “Poe’s Law.”  If you are doing Christian Apologetics on message boards, or blogs, or are surfing the net reading different religious discussion boards, Poe’s Law is sure to come up at some point.

What is Poe’s Law?  The law itself was defined by Nathan Poe over on Christian Forums.  He was making the point that without some sort of overt sign, like a winking smiley ( 😉 ) or something to show irony, that you really can’t tell the difference between a parody of fundamentalism and the real thing.  Meaning, with Poe’s Law, many times you cannot tell if someone is being sarcastic, and attempting humor or are really serious with what they are saying.   Take someone, for example, going around the ‘net claiming the earth is flat, because they claim that the Bible says it is (of course, it does no such thing, but bear with me).  Now, there are two possibilities; either they are jerking everyone’s chain to try to prove a point, or they are completely wrong, but completely serious. That’s Poe’s Law; you can’t tell the difference unless the person is 100% honest and tells you their motivation.

Poe’s Law is often centered around Christian fundamentalism…however, back when Expelled: The Movie (Expelled is a documentary revealing the prejudice and bias of the academic community centering around evolution vs. Intelligent Design) was being released in theaters a youtube video was released on March 28, 2008 by a user by the name of “randomslice;” Richard Dawkins: Beware the Believers (for my readers who care about such things; there’s mild language, wacky hip hop dance moves, and employs language meant to show naturalistic evolutionists’ disdain for us religious folk, so if that will bother you, skip watching the vid) :

Now, when this video was released the ‘net was buzzing with speculation; who produced it? (The question is hilarious in and of itself; because it was obvious that the video was indeed designed by an intelligent designer, and everyone wanted to know who it was; it could never have happened by chance.) Was it poking fun at those that support Intelligent Design, such as the makers of “Expelled: The Movie,” or at those fundamentalist Darwinian evolutionists who cannot stand any other theory being discussed and who try to take a position of intellectual superiority?

Well, the first time my husband and I saw it, we felt it was plainly a mockery of the Darwinian position…and we could not believe that they were blind to this fact…well, on April 20th, randomslice added a new vid; Richard Dawkins: Designed by chance?

Clears it all up, right?  It clearly shows that it was the Expelled crew, those in favor of ID being discussed, that was behind the video.  And yet…and yet, the fundamentalist Darwinian evolutionists couldn’t give it up.  The next theory was that Mike, over at Float on Films, (who was in charge of the animation) had to really be on the Darwinists’ side even though he was hired by the Expelled crew…because, look at Ben Stein’s t-shirt in the second clip…it says “Poe’s Law.”

Now at this point, I’m laughing, and loving it, because the Expelled crew just gave the world an example of Poe’s Law from the other perspective.  Their video demonstrates that you can’t tell a parody of Fundamentalist Darwinism from a display of the real thing!  The Darwinists couldn’t even tell, that means they fully expect their really arguments to come off that way.  Of course it is indeed a parody, trying to show how the Darwinists, especially Atheistic Darwinists, now have a fundamentalist branch, which falls within Poe’s law as well.  This set of videos was a kick, everyone following Expelled, on each side, really enjoyed the videos, and it was great fun reading everyone’s discussions when they were trying to figure out who designed them.

So, there ya go; two birds, one stone.  I’ve given you a run down of the phrase “Poe’s Law” and shown an illustration of the extreme position that fundamentalist evolutionists have taken up.  Yes, it was a parody, but a parody so close to the real thing that even adherents to fundamentalist evolutionary theory couldn’t tell the difference, and even embraced the videos as representative of their position.

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Filed under Atheism, Humor, Of Interest, Origins

Church of the New Atheists…

Anyone that has been in the land of Christian Apologetics online knows that atheists like to proselytize their own religion…er,um…beliefs…even when they are on websites, such as Christian message boards, where that type of thing is strictly prohibited in the ‘board rules.  When someone comments or blogs about atheism, often times it is the atheists that come swarming to read and respond, whilst responses from those from other belief systems are few; they wish to defend their belief system, just as I do, I get it; but what is the logical reason?

Make a post or a blog that doesn’t even have direct connection to Christianity, such as Intelligent Design, and they still come out of the woodwork.  Now, this is statistically an odd occurrence, since, for example, atheists make up only somewhere between 3-9% of the US population from what I can gather by looking at different polls (of course, this number is really hard to pinpoint since the way questions are worded in polls sometimes muddy the water, but the point still remains), of course responders and posters can be from different countries, but still, it seems sometimes that the ‘net is favored as an atheist playground in some respects.

I realized that along with the priests of New Atheism, such as Dick Dawkins, and their prolific proselytizing, the New Atheists also now have a Church and it is apparently the internet itself, or rather, certain corners of the ‘net.  It does make sense; before the internet (yes, all you younglings out there, there was a time before the internet) , with such a small percentage of the population declaring themselves to be atheistic,  it had to be hard to find a place of fellowship.  Of course I use the term “church” loosely, for instead of being outcalled by God, they attempt to outcall themselves in some manner.  If you do a search, which I can’t really recommend, trying to find a Church of Atheism, you’ll find them outside of cyberspace as well, but where else can such a large group of non-believers get together to fellowship, praise and offer thanksgiving to…themselves, and…materialism?

My husband brought up a good point; aren’t secular universities Atheist Churches too?  I’ve given it some thought, and I think secular universities as “Atheist Seminaries” is a better descriptive.  Go online and you will find an actual “First Church of Atheism” which offers ordination…yes, one can actually be an ordained minister…of atheism; but, nobody better make the claim that atheism is another religion…did I mention that they think that they should be allowed to preach what they believe, and that one reason this is available is so that atheist couples can have a minister to preside at a marriage ceremony…but, nobody better make the claim that atheism is just another religion *footstomp*

Make no mistake about it, many of the “New” Atheists take discipleship seriously, find a teacher (or teachers) to latch onto, and wish to churn out disciples of their own.  Sometimes, when you run into these disciples online, you can literally tell where the conversation will head, because they are all reading off the same attack oriented websites…because in their religi…I mean belief system..I mean lack of belief system, it is apparently part of the Creed to attack the belief in God, especially Christian belief, and if you can’t attack the beliefs directly, hang out and bash those that hold said beliefs.

Christians believe that God wishes us to share the good news, and no, that doesn’t mean bashing someone over the head with The Bible, as some of my overzealous brethren sometimes tend towards.  Our motivation includes a “higher” calling; one from God Himself.  Our gathering together is called for as well as our sharing of the good news.  Why exactly do atheists feel the need to proselytize, what is their logical basis?  It isn’t as though they believe we humans are immortal beings and are trying to sow seeds that will help insure a right relationship with something above us, and a positive life in eternity.  Why exactly do atheists feel the need to be married by a minister…why do they feel the need to get married in a non-civil sense at all?  Besides the very grave, very serious spiritual implications, various studies have shown that things like faith in something greater than ourselves, prayer, hope, religious belief, etc… is a good thing for us humans…so what exactly is the joy in trying to tear down someone’s faith in God?  Usually some twisted idea that Christians are all a bunch of illogical, irrational, deluded idiots is set forth by non-believers…unfortunately for the atheists, that isn’t so.

A major point here being that the atheists have found a nifty base of operations online.  So, if you are out there contending for the Faith, and doing Christian Apologetics, or even Intelligent Design apologetics, be ready to meet and engage in dialogue with people from all backgrounds and beliefs…especially those that have found a non-believing church home on the ‘net, that wish to evangelize you to a state of…non-belief. Or, as I see it as a Christian; evangelize you to a state of having faith in something other than the only thing that deserves our faith; the One True God.  I write this too, to remind fellow Christians to support one another in real life, and especially online, as we have discussions and also share the gospel.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Humor

Doctor Who, “Midnight” Review

Midnight, an episode of Doctor Who, aired last night here in the US.  It happens to contain some interesting bits from a religious perspective, and the episode was written by Russell T. Davies.  I’ve discussed the overall themes of Doctor Who from a religious perspective here, and this episode provides more discussion opportunities from the Christian perspective.  There are spoilers for Midnight abounding, so if you haven’t seen it yet and plan to, skip this post until you do.

First, this was a wonderful episode, one of my favourites of the new season; it was well written and wonderfully acted, especially by Tennant, and the woman who played Sky, Lesley Sharp.  The story begins with The Doctor boarding a transport on an alien world to go to a tourist attraction, and the situation rapidly declines from there…of course through a series of events the transport breaks down in a never-before-explored section of the uninhabitable planet, leaving The Doctor stranded with the other passengers, a Hostess, the driver of the transport, and the mechanic.  The ominous music soon begins and there comes a strange knocking on the hull of the transport.

Here the three main religious positions became symbolized; you had the atheists represented, “there’s nothing out there/there can’t be anything out there,” the agnostics, “how do we know if there is or not?” and the believers, “there is something out there.”  Chalk one up to the believers, for there was indeed something out there, and it wants in.  There was a line from one of the passengers reiterating that there literally cannot be anything out in that wasteland, and The Doctor replies, “I’m glad you’ve got an absolute definition of life in the universe, but perhaps the universe has ideas of its own,” which is, again, ironic to me, since the line was written by RTD, an atheist.

Of course we then have an alien version of a demon possession, quiet effectively pulled off and very creepy.  It also pulled up childhood memories that everyone surely “possesses;” those lovely juvenile games of repeating everything your brother/sister says in order to drive them nuts…it works here too.  The alien entity takes over Sky, a passenger, and begins “absorbing” knowledge (and apparently power) by mimicking every single thing everyone says.  And, as it progresses it winds up just like it did in our own childhoods; with everyone screaming at the mimic to “STOP!” and threats of cold-blooded murder; this time in the form of, “let’s chuck her out the airlock.”

During the mimicking, Jethro, a teenage boy decked out in goth-like style, is joining in the yelling and pandemonium, getting the alien entity possessing Sky’s body to mimic back to him, “six six six.”  Revelations 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Yes, the majority of the time that someone writes something creepy and evil, 666 gets thrown in for good measure.

Back to the murdering part.  This was interesting because it was a study of human (and apparently alien nature), as fear and panic takes over…surprisingly The Doctor is just as panicky and fearful as everyone else, although he’s got his sense of fascination with a new entity entirely intact…ordering everyone to banish thoughts of chucking the demon possessed, oops, I mean alien possessed passenger out the airlock…that is until the alien narrows down her next victim to The Doctor himself, and “takes his voice.”  Freezing The Doctor in place, causing him to mimic Sky and causing the passengers to turn on the Doctor, now wishing to chuck him out the airlock instead.  All of a sudden we, after The Doctor is saved by The Hostess (she realizes The Doctor has had his voice stolen, grabs a hold of the demon…alien possessed woman and sacrifices herself and saves the Doctor by ejecting herself out the airlock, possessed woman in tow),…we see that chucking her out the airlock wasn’t a stupid idea after all, but apparently was the right thing to do…I wonder if RTD really thought this one out…

Anywho, everyone is left sobered and shaken, including The Doctor, even after the survivors are rescued.  Many people have been commenting on the Doctor’s rather inflated view of himself lately, and some even believe he has crossed the line recently by taking decisions out of the hands of others, and carrying out his own will.  In this episode I thought it was interesting because, we get to see again, that The Doctor, though powerful, is not anywhere near the level of God, or an actual messiah.  He says to the lot of them, near the beginning of the episode, “I guarantee everything is fine” and also, “We’re going to get out of here alive, I promise.”  By the end of the episode, nothing is fine, and four humans are dead…so much for a limited being’s guarantee and promise… He also admits later to Donna that he has no clue what the thing was that did the possessing.  Now, to me, this is a good thing, it shows that he is indeed fallible and capable of mistakes, and that he is actually much more human-like than alien-like, even in (or especially in) his pride, and cleverness.

Great episode.  Touched on several themes that are important to mull over for us Christians (and everyone else); fear, pride, anger, the dark side of human nature, self sacrifice, and connecting with our fellow human beings.  I would love to get other people’s thoughts on these themes, and on the Episode itself, if you feel like leaving a comment.

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Filed under Atheism, Of Interest, Reviews, Sacred Secular

Doctor Who, Atheism, and God, pt. 2…

In the first part, I focused on the themes of Doctor Who, and gave my thoughts on why I believe they, the themes (such as messiah-like heroes, the betterment of the human race, miraculous type powers, faith, etc…), not just the specific show, are so compelling to write, and to watch; I believe it shows that regardless of what we say, every human has an almost innate urge for these things, as well as for things like perfection.  The only true way to fulfill these types of urges is with the Truth that can only be found in Christ and an acknowledgment of God.  Now, in this installment, I use a line from Doctor Who as a jumping off point to talk about aspects of human nature I have observed.

In the episode “The Doctor Dances,” we come to the resolution of a storyline, and have a scene where the little boy Jamie is in his mother’s arms, and we still don’t know if they are going to make it, if they are going to survive and thrive…The Doctor (Nine), pleads, “Oh, come on. Give me a day like this. Give me this one.” Who is the Doctor pleading with?  Who is he asking that he assumes knows precisely what kind of day he wants without even having to utter it out loud?  Who has the power to give days or withhold them that would hearken to pleading? Was he pleading with sheer dumb luck?  The materialistic universe?  Who? The actual character, and beliefs of The Ninth Doctor aside, I was always struck by the irony; the writer of the episode, Moffat, is an atheist, the executive producer of the series, Russell T. Davies, is an atheist, and the actor playing Nine, Christopher Eccleston, is an atheist.

Again, I’m using this as an example…but I have observed precisely the same thing in the humans around me, many of which have no religious beliefs one way or another.  There is something going on and they are pleading from the depths of their being, “Come on, come on, please let them be OK,” “Just this once let me hit the jackpot,” “This has got to be it, come on, please…”  It’s a reaction that just seems to come out, why?

Anger, blame, and questioning…I don’t know how many times I’ve experienced this online while engaging in conversation, not anything like evangelization, just common discussion, with a mix of beliefs; atheists, agnostics, fellow Christians, pagans, etc… but an atheist will be explaining how they don’t believe in God, and ends their post with “F— God!” exclamation point and all, with a true underscore of vehemence.  The anger is most assuredly there…anger at whom?  A God that he claims doesn’t exist?  Somehow or another God gets the blame for everything bad in life, even though the blame is coming from those who say He doesn’t exist…quite an odd set up.  “Why are you doing this to me?” said in a groan while looking at the sky, or curled up in a fetal position, or just, “Why?” or the perennial favourite, “Why me?”  It is instinctual, something coming from a part of ourselves that most atheists would deny.  It runs deeper than thought, emotion, or physical reaction, it comes from our soul.

Thanksgiving, no not the holiday, but another observed reaction.  My atheist friend was so worried about getting a certain job, it was on his mind day and night, and he waited and waited and waited for a call.  I happened to be there when the call came.  He got the job.  He proceeds, with no conscious thought whatsoever, in a fit of exultation, to fall on the floor, on his back, hands toward Heaven, and exclaims, “Thank God! Yes!” with more fervency than I’ve observed in most Christians. I can “hear” people’s reactions now, “well, it’s just a phrase,” no, sorry, I was there.  There are times when people, even/especially believers who do not really mean, or feel what they say, “Thank God, praise God, praise the Lord,” rolls off the tongue with nothing behind it; this wasn’t in that vein.  I’ve heard others do similar things, offer up thanksgiving and praise “thank you thank you thank you”…to who?  Again, it is before thoughts get in the way, and it is from our beings.  Humans click into a praise and thanksgiving mode without even putting forth effort, it is something internal and fundamental.

The deep feelings of “otherness” or resonance, of something greater than ourselves, or nature.  I was dialoguing with an atheist online, and he was explaining his deep love of music.  I commented on how music seems to be something that can touch us on every level of our beings.  He agreed.  I asked if he had ever felt caught up in a piece of music in such a way that it resonated with him on a level that was beyond mere thought or emotion.  Yes, he had.  It was a fundamental resonance with awe and wonder, a pure feeling, again, something beyond and deeper than emotion.  Folks, we have a soul, and we’ve experienced things like what this person is describing.  I asked if that meant anything to him, or how could he just dismiss it out of hand, that feeling of purity and that there is something more, something bigger, something beyond the physical, and at the same time fundamental.  He couldn’t really answer, he just said he did dismiss it.  I urged him, and urge everyone reading this, don’t dismiss it, think about it.

In God we find the key to these things.  We do have souls, we are geared to seek answers and ask major questions that can be phrased quite simply, “Why?”, we are geared towards thanksgiving and praise to something “other,” geared toward asking for things bigger and outside of ourselves, and we do experience deep resonance and the sense of something bigger even than nature itself…with an understanding of the spiritual nature of ourselves and an acknowledgment of God, these things start making sense, and makes our lives so much richer…many people that come to Him through Christ do have that “Aha” moment, akin to the realization that “Oh, so that’s Who The Doctor was pleading with after all…”

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Doctor Who, Atheism, and God, pt. 1…

Odd (or Ood) title, I know, just hang in there with me for a bit.  I’m a big Doctor Who fan, and am especially fond of Russell T. Davies’ version of the time lord.  I frequent one of the largest Doctor Who message boards, mainly as a “lurker,” and it is interesting that several themes keep being discussed.  One is the messiah-like qualities of The Doctor, another is faith, and another is atheism.  This interests me.  Why? Because the two main writers of the show, the ones that write the episodes where these topics come up, are both atheists; Steven Moffat, and Russel T. Davies himself (executive producer as well).

Now, what really floored me was that there are usually two opinions most prominent; the atheists on the message board acknowledging the fact that faith, and a messiah-type figure (The Doctor) are main themes of the show, and they have actually claimed a theistic storyline that they don’t understand given the atheistic beliefs of the dynamic duo; Moffat and Davies.  The other opinion is usually expressed by Christians bemoaning the fact that there is an atheistic agenda because of the fact that Moffat and Davies write a messiah-type figure, that is not Christ, and write about faith in something other than God, or just about vague faith (they are atheists, why should we Christians be surprised on that score?  We should be delving into why they write these things…).

What I see, with Doctor Who as an example, is the fact that if one doesn’t believe in God, one will try to find a way to fill that gap…and what one imagines, or writes, or experiences, will usually be similar in nature to the Truth, it resembles the Truth, but isn’t actually “it.”  How many times do we see messiah-like figures? Godlike, miraculous powers through science, magic, mutation, etc…  I believe there is a craving in every human heart, soul, and mind for these types of things, but only one thing can really fill that craving; the actual Truth.  Studying psychology and philosophy is interesting because the two intertwine (not surprisingly), and what I’ve noticed is that people also crave perfection.  They either crave perfection in themselves, or in other people, or in relationships…and that can be a problem.  Why?  Because nobody’s perfect.  So where did we ever get the idea of perfection in the first place?

Live with someone long enough and they will let you down in a mild way, or a major way, intentionally or unintentionally…be it spouse, parent, child, friend, etc… we are human we cannot be perfect, but we crave perfect people, people that are reliable, and we are hurt when we are let down.  We crave messiah-like heroes, and miraculous happenings…why?  Because we all crave the Truth and are drawn to God.  People crave to know, and rely on a perfect person, there’s been only One; Jesus.  Same with a true Messiah for everyone, the whole human race; Jesus.  Miraculous happenings and powers; God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Anyone that doesn’t have it, wants it, craves it, thirsts for it…and if they reject the True answer to these things, they try to fill that gap in other ways, including making it up in fiction form.  These false answers relieve it for a while, but that urge comes back, so they try to fill it in different ways; food, sex, drugs, false gods, intellectualism, even music, art, dance, etc… but only when one embraces and come to accept the Truth is one finally satisfied on a deep spiritual level.

John 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

One way or another, humans try to quench that thirst, and when you drink of the Living Water, it is quenched for good, and your motivation is no longer thirst, but true faith, love, and hope.  Even if fictionalized faith, and messiah-like figures, and magical types of powers are fun to kick around in fiction, there’s nothing like believing in actual reality; the reality of the Truth of God, and Jesus Christ.  Again, I’ll point out that this faith we have is not blind faith, it isn’t just because we wish it to be true, or read about it in a book, or would like it to be true; it is because the evidence is there, both personal and public, and because of the grace of God.

Things like a beautiful painting, or music, or even a great story can touch us on a spiritual level, but we have to acknowledge what that means; there is indeed a spiritual aspect to our human existence.  I do believe everyone experiences this at some point in their lives, even if it is only as a child.  The key is not to try to latch on to a shadow of the truth, but to the Truth itself; so get to know the real Messiah, the real Lord of Time, it’s definitely worth it, and makes all other experiences richer; even watching our favourite shows like Doctor Who…

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Apologetics: The Disciples…

In this post, I’ll be discussing one of the evidences for the Resurrection via a look at the Disciples themselves.

  1. What message did the Disciples preach?
  2. What we can learn by looking at the change of attitude and personality of the disciples pre and post-Resurrection, and their manner of death.
  3. Examining how their deaths are fundamentally different than the deaths of believers of other faiths and beliefs.

The Disciples were eye witnesses of the happenings around Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They were Jesus’ close companions and had first-hand knowledge of His claims. After Jesus’ crucifixion they preached Him raised. Not only that, they preached Him raised amongst other eye witnesses to Jesus’ life and death, even in the very city where He was crucified!

This is Peter speaking in front of the crowd, post Jesus’ resurrection, in Jerusalem:

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Paul speaks of this quite clearly as well:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
15:11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Study the Resurrection, it is the lynchpin of the Christian Faith. A lot of my POV on this is from Dr. Gene Scott; who lost his faith in college, then studied the resurrection for three years knowing that either these disciples were preaching a lie, or they were preaching the truth. At the end of those three years, he closed the last book with the knowledge that Christ had risen indeed.  Here is a write up from a sermon, as one will be able to tell, I formed a lot of my ideas from Doc’s different sermons touching upon the resurrection of Christ: http://www.pastormelissascott.com/pdf/Resurrection.pdf

If Jesus came out of that tomb, then we too can have faith in Him and His Father. Jesus claimed He would raise, so that is the question to answer – did He? We have other evidence that the body was missing, we know that in Matthew we have a popular theory crop up from the disbelieving Priests:

28:11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
28:13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

28:14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
28:15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

So, we have the Disciples preaching Jesus had risen and in fact they preached He walked and talked and even ate with them after the Crucifixion. Remember, they were His close companions in life, eye witnesses to His teaching, death, and resurrection. We also know that the disciples were persecuted both directly after the resurrection, and in centuries later.

Now, we examine the evidence of the changing Disciples, let’s look at some examples:

We’ve got Peter. Before the resurrection Peter denied the Lord three times for the sake of his own skin. He fled and hid, he could not be counted on. After the Resurrection, and then the coming of the Spirit, Peter finally fulfills the name Jesus gave him and becomes so firm in the faith he could not be intimidated. He came out in front of the hostile crowd at Pentecost and proclaimed Christ risen. How did Peter die? Crucified upside down for his teachings.

We’ve got John. One of the Sons of Thunder, as Jesus called the brothers. He’s one of the pair that asked the Lord this:

Luke 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
9:53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did ?
9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

Beloved John, ready to burn the unbelievers for their unbelief. We also have record of these Sons of Thunder being so bold and prideful to ask Jesus to be seated at His side…not only this, they sent their momma to ask Him for them. What happens to John after the Resurrection? He becomes the Apostle of Love, so from Son of Thunder to the Apostle of Love. How does John wind up? He is banished for his unmovable, un-recanted teachings, based on the fact that Christ rose from the dead.

We’ve got Thomas. Skeptics love Thomas, as they should. The problem comes in when they don’t let Thomas teach them. Good ol’ doubting Thomas. Thomas doubted the Lord the whole time he walked with Him. He questions everything. After the Lord was resurrected we see Thomas questioning again. He’s not going to be happy ’til he physically touches Jesus. After the Resurrection what do we have? Thomas never questioning the Lord again, taking the Faith to India, never waivering put to death by spear (some reports a sword) proclaiming the Resurrection of our Lord.

We’ve got many other examples amongst the disciples; Bartholemew flayed to death with a whip in Armenia for proclaiming the Resurrection, Andrew crucified, Luke hanged, Mark dragged to death.

We’ve got Paul; number one persecuter of the Christians. Loathed Christians, hated them. Jesus knocks him on his behind in the dirt, appears to him resurrected and Paul is a new man.

These men were changed folks. Fundamentally, their very personalities changed. What changed them? They, all but perhaps one, were too scared even to be at the crucifixion of the Lord, hiding…but then what?! The Resurrection. Then what? These men willing to put all on the line for what they literally witnessed with their own two eyes.

These disciples died alone, thousands of miles apart from each other. They died horrible deaths for their eye witness testimony. Did these men back the wrong horse, a dead man, and perpetuate a known lie? Or were they telling the absolute truth, a Truth they were willing to die for? They claimed and taught not just a faith, or a belief, they taught a FACT. That Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ate with them, that Thomas put his hand on Him, etc… They never ever waivered!! I’ve also heard several atheists/agnostics admit that these men did indeed change, and that they can’t explain why, but it couldn’t have been because of the resurrection, because miracles can’t occur, therefore it didn’t occur, and anyone who says they did is wrong, because miracles can’t occur, therefore they didn’t occur, and anyone who…. Basically they fell pray to circular logic in an attempt to explain away the changes in these men.

Some say, “Well, what about all those other people that died for their religion?” In my college Logic class I teach all about comparisons. One of the first rules in comparisons is to ask some very important questions, the main one being; are the two things even comparable? In this case, these eye witness disciples deaths are not even comparable to the deaths of others defending their religions, even modern Christian martyrs. How so?

All those other people died for firm belief, no doubt about it. Early muslims died for a belief, they died for their faith, they died for what they thought was the truth. Atheist skeptics would have us believe these Disciples of Christ would have died for a known lie. Again, how is this different? The Disciples didn’t spread the Gospel based on teachings, belief, faith, or private revelations from God, they spread the Gospel based on an Historical Event, or FACT, or Person that they claimed to be eye witnesses to — the Resurrected Christ.

There is no such objective, historical event, objectively varifiable at the time, that the Muslims, or any other believer has died for; the Muslims died for the belief that Muhammed has received instruction from God via private revelation, and for those beliefs passed on. We have the disciples preaching this FACT of the Resurrection to individuals who were free to go check out their story. The preaching of Jesus’ resurrection was spread during all of these eyewitnesses lifetimes. These radically changed men did not die for a known lie that they had concocted.

So, with the Disciples as eye witnesses, with the Disciples who gave up their lives for the message of the Resurrection, I too proclaim that Christ is risen! I too proclaim that this Historical Fact withstands the test of time! And I too proclaim that with Christ as our example we can hang our bodies and souls on the Promises of the Father. Our faith and beliefs are not blind, as skeptics would have other believe, but are based on historical events, logic, reason, and the Grace of God.

For all the skeptics reading this, go make your own serious study of these facts, and make your choice.  For those of you who do not trust the reliability of the witnesses in all of this, here is a good bit of free reading: Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf; “Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen.”

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