God Can Exist Even If Atheism Is True

Quodlibetal Blog

It is becoming increasingly more common for atheists to define atheism, not as the denial of the existence of God, but as a lack of belief in the existence of God. As such, these atheists maintain that atheism is merely the lack of any affirmation of the existence of God.

Atheist B. C. Johnson says, “Theists believe in God, while atheists do not have such a belief.  Many theists insist that it is the responsibility of the atheist to offer evidence justifying his lack of belief in God.  But is the theist’s demand rational?  Must the atheist justify his lack of belief in God?   Or does the burden rest with the theist? [B. C. Johnson, The Atheist

View original post 415 more words

Securing the Future

Securing the Future

We live in very uncertain times.  So how in the world can we secure our future? I don’t have all of the answers to getting a hold on the future, but I do know that there is one thing which you’ve got to get a handle on before you can get a hold on the future.  That is death. The reason for this is that death robs all men of a future. Consequently, some men get a handle on the future by accepting their fate.  In essence, they accept that they have no future in the face of death.

That may seem brave but only if it’s true and only if it’s the only alternative, otherwise it’s foolishness.  Others (the majority) simply deny their death by refusing to think or talk about it.  I personally believe that there is another alternative.  It’s called hope.  You see hope is faith reaching into the future and pulling it into the present.

For faith to work you’ve got to make sure that when you send your faith out into the future that it finds something big enough to overcome death or a place where death cannot go.  When you do this you must be sure that the thing it brings back is powerful enough to overcome the fear of death.  In order to do this your faith must find something or someone who in themselves has overcome death.  You see I have heard from a lot of men who have made promises about securing the future and yet they themselves had no future.  To secure the future we need to have hope and faith in one that has himself secured the future.

Let me share with you a vision of the future that you might explore.  It’s worked for me and millions of others.  This vision of the future is a vision of a man.  Like all visions it is filled with symbolism so put on your thinking hat. Here it is “I (the apostle John) turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:12-18).”

If you have not guessed yet, this is a vision of the resurrected Christ.  When a person has placed their hope in the resurrected one they need not be afraid of death or anything else for someone else has secured the future for them. If the Book of Revelation teaches anything, it teaches that the future belongs to Jesus. God bore witness to this by raising him from the dead.  He was dead and behold He is alive forever and ever.  The gates of death and Hades can never shut in those who believe in the one who holds the keys to those gates. LD

Coming Up Against God-C.S Lewis

Coming Up Against God 

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

What Lewis is taking about is probably one of his forms of experiencing God, but is something seldom experienced in our age.  Why is that?  It’s because we moderns look down on everything, even God, and have forgotten the meaning of pride and humility.  We have set ourselves up as judges of the world and of God Himself.  I often hear people say “I cannot believe in the God you believe in because He is too hard or that He is too easy.”  In this they are simply saying that any God which they believe in must conform to their standards and taste.  Now think about that for a minute.  What are these people really saying?  Are they not setting themselves up as the judge of God?  Moreover, if you were to stumble upon an all knowing and powerful God, how likely would it be that all of your values, judgments, and appetites would line up with His?  Before you answer, take awhile to think about it, for your answer will tell you where you stand with Lewis’s God.

Now that you have thought about your answer, let’s analyze it in view of Lewis’s remarks.  If you said that your values, judgments, and your will line up with the God you believe in, it simply means that you have not experienced what Lewis refers to as “coming up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.”  Moreover, it would mean that you are prideful and that you have not experienced the true God or at the least Lewis’s God, or if you have, you have forgotten the experiences.  However, either way it is a strong indication that you do not know the true God.

A further test of your standing before God could be calculated by asking a question of yourself which God might ask you someday.  What would your answer be if you knocked on heaven’s door and a voice said, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Would your answer be something along the line of, “Well, I am a good person.  I kept your commandments.  I did the best I could.  I was fair and honest.  I never hurt anyone.  I went to church every week.”  Unfortunately, there are some real problems with these answers if it is Lewis’s God that you are talking to.  One is that they are all self-judgments based on comparing oneself with others, which has little to do with the question.  Do you think God is concerned about how you compare with others?  His reply might be, “So you think you’re better than others?”  Furthermore, for most human beings these statements would, in themselves, be a lie.  Yes, you might be a good person, but by whose standards—yours or your neighbor’s?

What is the right answer?  It is an answer that only those who have experienced what Lewis is talking about can know.  Here it is.  You will lead me into heaven because that is the kind of God You are, and I know this because I came up against You in the person of Your Son and from that day on I knew You and my true self.  I knew that I could never measure up to Your standards, and if I were to be saved it would only be through Your grace and love.

 

 

The Cursing of the Fig Tree?

The Cursing of the Fig Tree?

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it ( Mark 11:12-14).

What is the spiritual meaning of the cursing of the fig tree?  The answer is tied to the very person of the Lord Jesus. He is the creator and the fig tree should have recognized its creator and produced the fruit he was looking for. Its failure to produce fruit for the creator cannot be justify by the fruit being out of season, for seasons matter little to the creator who sets them. Therefore, the fruit tree is accursed because it did not recognize and honor its creator.

Like any allegory the story of the fig tree will break down if you try to take it literally or make too many applications. Therefore, you should look for the main application which best fits the context of the passage. It seems to me this allegory corresponds well with the parable of the Vineyard found in the 12th chapter of Mark verses 1-12. There the people of the Vineyard were accursed and destroyed because they did not recognize the son of the Vineyard owner. Both sections of Scripture seem to be talking about the fate of the Jews for not recognizing the son of God who had appeared among them. The Jews should had recognized their creator among them and bore the fruit of faith. There was no excuse for their blindness and they would be accursed, wither and die as foretold in Chapter 13. Note my article, ” Conflicting Visions of the Second Coming” on https://lyleduell.me/          http://wp.me/p5pJxI-lRS

One Thing Missing-One Thing Missing An Argument Against the Existence of God

One Thing Missing

An Argument Against the Existence of God

 Not long after I started to study atheism, it dawned on me that atheists lack one thing in their philosophy. That one thing is an argument against the existence of God. Now, this is not to say that they do not have arguments, for they have numerous arguments ranging from the nature of the world and the universe to arguments attempting to prove the superiority of their reasoning power over believers in God. They have arguments showing the source of faith and the evils of religion. However, the one thing they lack is a clearly defined argument against the existence of God.

This is one reason why they are continuously trying to shift the burden of proof to those that believe in God. Of course, their arguments about the burden of proof somehow, in their  way of thinking, it seems to further justify their arguments or should I say their lack of arguments for the non-existence of God. However, shifting the burden of proof to the believer is really a confession that they have no actual argument for their faith. If they did have a real argument, we would hear little about the burden of proof.

What about their arguments from science? They have no arguments from science[1]. The so-called arguments from science are mostly the pointing out of things that we now understand which in the past were not understood and were contributed to God by some religious men. The atheist often uses the expression, “God of the gaps”[2] as though the only reason for belief in God was to fill in the gaps in human knowledge (an assertion without any evident to support it). In fact, theologians were warning Christians not to use God in this way before atheistic scientists even came up with the idea or the expression.

Some unbelievers claim that religion slows down the march of human knowledge because people will fill the gaps either by ignoring them or by filling them in with God[3].  On the other hand, a brief survey of the history of science reveals that many discoveries,  including some of the most outstanding ones were discovered by believers. I think the truth is that dogma is what slows down progress in any discipline and science has its own brand and share of dogma. If you work against the established tradition or dogma in science, just  as in religion, you will be ostracized from the community. This God of the gap’s argument is a quibble and not a real argument, for it says nothing about God but rather demonstrates how ignorant or indifferent some men were in the past to science, and how some of them justified their ignorance.

Take, for instance, the big-bang theory, which explains how the universe came into existence. The atheists will say your see “You religious folks could not explain the creation of the universe, so you simply said God did it” e.g. the God of the gaps[4]. The believer could simply respond “We now know how God did it thanks to science.” Science tells us how, but faith tells us who; that a super-consciousness did it. He started with creating the universe out of nothing as taught in the opening verses of the Bible and then ordered it from the simple to complex. All this was taught in scripture while science was still teaching that the universe was eternal, without beginning or end.  By the way, it was a Catholic priest who first set forth the theory that is now known as the big bang[5]. It seems he was not retarded by the God of the gaps.

It is amazing that very time science finds the mechanism that God used to create or make things the atheist heralds that God is no long needed to explain things. However, finding out how God  accomplished something does not prove that he doesn’t exist, it simply tells us how he did it. Learning how Henry Ford  built the first car doesn’t prove that Henry did not existence.

The only way unbelievers can prove that God does not exist, is by starting with the dogma or presupposition that He does not exist. But, if your view (opinion) of the evidence comes from a presupposition or a dogma, you are simple reasoning in circles. Your suppositions prove the evidence, and the evidence proves your suppositions. Now, that sounds more like faith than reason and more like religion than science. Yet, this is exactly what atheists often do. In the end, the God of the gaps is just another straw man to deflect people’s attention away from the lack of real evidence. Remember that the explanation is not the evidence. To explain everything with a naturalistic explanation is not proof in itself that your explanation is indeed a fact.

In reading the material of many atheists, I have discovered that many of their supposed arguments against God appear to be more like arguments against organized religion. Of course, if you do not have any facts or an  argument against one problem (the existence of God) you need to find something else, another straw man. In arrogating their  argument about the non-existence of God, they have chosen religion as their primary straw man. I had often wondered why atheists resist the idea that there is a difference between religion and faith in God, and then it dawned on me, that to make a distinction between faith and religion would take away their straw man of religion. Once faith and religion are separated, they would have no metaphysical concept to criticize. Atheism needs organized religion in order to survive[6]. It needs a target that it can construct arguments against. It cannot construct a sound argument against God so it must target religion.

In what I am about to say I do not wish to leave the impression that I am for or against religion. However, we should strive for an accurate appraisal of religion.  When atheists argue against religion, they seem to try to focus on all the negative aspects of religion and they totally ignore all the good it has done. It appears that they believe that if you can heap enough dung on religion, it might kill it.  For some this tactic may work, but not for the honest person.  In most cases the target of  choice is the Christian religion, for it is the biggest target and is hard to miss. It is made up of billions of people throughout the ages and has attracted all types of people, some good and some bad. Like people in general, it has done good and evil. However, to be fair, in the past before the welfare state came into existence it had taken care of the poor for centuries, and it continues to minister to the poor and disadvantaged around the world. It laid the foundation for Western civilization by building schools and hospitals. It has resisted the spread of totalitarian governments around the world, which includes atheistic communism. On the other side of the coin, where are the hospitals or nursing homes, which were built by atheists? In my experience (which I admit is limited) I have never seen an organized attempt by atheists’ to minister to people in nursing homes or hospitals. Yet they rail on the evils of the Christian church. At their best, atheists use the absolute power of the state to collect money in the form of taxation to help people, which seems to be nothing more than a form coercion, which they somehow interpret as a moral virtue.

This is not to say that religion does not have its problems. But, should we expect anything different? Religion is made up of human beings and humans have a propensity for messing things up. Where is the human system that has not failed to live up to its ideals? I think the best,  that humans can do is to make sure that the system  they cling to offer a higher vision of human potential, but we should not be surprised when they fail. This holding out of a high vision of human potential, I believe is done to varying degrees by most religions. Of course, like everything, there are good religion and bad religion. This is simply a fact that many atheists do not recognize.  The radical atheist believes that religion poisons everything, and this faith demonstrates their distorted view of reality. It is totally out of balance and is just not true. What I am calling for is a fair and accurate view of religion, which many atheists have not done.

However, ones view of religion has nothing to do with the question of God. At this point, the matter of the utilitarian nature of religion is a question that can be debated, but is seldom actually  brought up by atheists.  Religion is typically brought up as a straw man by atheists to divert people’s attention away from the question of God’s existence, since they have no real answers or arguments. At best, they raise some questions and make shallow attempts to use science to prove their faith and dogmas.

Some may reply that their conclusion from science, that there is no God, is inferred from  scientific fact. That may be true, but inferences are not facts. Facts, like stone lying on the ground, tell you nothing[7].  An inference is simply your interpretation of the facts. Inferences or interpretations are not based on reason alone. Reason is one part of the equation and is never alone. There) are hidden biases and suppositions in any inference. An honest person of faith will admit this by adding the element of faith to the equation. It is the atheist who hangs on to the enlightenment faith and dogma that reason can stand alone. In many cases, reason is the handmaid of one’s passion and dogma.

In my personal discussions with atheists, again I admit that it’s limited, I have sensed that their views of God and religion are influenced by strong passions of anger and hatred, which seem for most to be void of any real personal source. I have asked them what religion had done to them, to make them so bitter toward it. Some retort that their father made them go to church or that their parents were religious, and it did not help them; they were hypocrites. Others have pointed to all the bad done by religion in the past. But, does religion hurt people or do people hurt people.  You see religion is neutral. Its character is made up of the people in it.  In this, it is like government; it can be good or bad depending on the men and women in it. I can hardly believe that reasonable people will use reasons like this to reject God or for that matter, even religion. However, there is a reason for their rationale and in most cases; no one will ever know the true root of their unbelief. For those interested in reading more about the possible reasons for atheism see my article entitled the “Roots of Atheism, The Making of a Fundamentalist Atheist.”

[1] Werner Heisenberg physicist and Nobel prize winner for physics confirms  this, “If anyone wants to argue from the indubitable fact that the world exists to a cause of this existence, then this assumption does not contradict our scientific knowledge at a single point.  Scientists do not have a single argument or fact with which they would contradict such an assumption, even if it was about a cause which–how could it be otherwise– would evidently have to be sought outside our three-dimensional world” Wermer Heisenberg quoted by Hans Kung Pages 79-80 in “The beginning of All Things: Science and Religion”.

[2] The expression “God of the gaps” was coined by a Christian theologian Henry Drummond. He used it to point out that the Christian should never use God to fill in the gaps of human knowledge.  Strangely the expression was picked up by some scientists who accused Christians of doing the very thing Drummond condemned.

[3] Atheists and scientist might consider that early man was just not interested in filling the gaps. History bear out that they were wholly capable of filling a number of the gaps if they so desired. However, they were busy building languages, systems of thought, religion and political theory, which were a necessary foundation for modern science.

[4] Christians and Jews have believed for centuries the universe was created. It was science, which lagged behind for thousands of years. Before the Big Bang theory science believed that the universe was eternal with no beginning or ending.

[5]  Georges Lemaître, a Catholic priest, was the first to propose the bi… g bang theory and was given approval by the Pope to publish it.

[6] Atheism is a negative parasitical worldview which is wholly dependent on religion. Without religion it would contribute nothing to humanity.

[7] See my article on “Rocks on The Ground” on lyleduell.me.

Chaos or Cosmos? An Argument for the Existence of God

Chaos or Cosmos?

An Argument for the Existence of God

When we observe cultures around the world, we see what seems to be a continuous declension into disorder when things are left alone and in turn a constant reordering of things by human intelligence. We see this tendency in every culture, a disordering and a reordering. Otherwise any culture would soon slip into chaos. Moreover, when I examine my own personal life it is obvious that if I neglect to organize and reorganize my stuff, it will soon fall into disorder, suffer damage and eventually fall apart. I find the same thing is true in my thought life; it seems that I spend a great deal of time keeping my thought world in order. When a person’s thoughts are out of order, we say they have a mental disorder or that they are crazy. Don’t you find it strange that we must continually keep our thoughts ordered? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Who is the I, which keeps the thoughts of me in order?” It seems that everything that is ordered must have an intelligence to set it into order and maintain it. The ordering does not just happen; it takes consciousness to set it into order.

However, when we look at the quantum world, it seems at first to be chaotic, but we know that there must be something working there, setting it in order, else it would fly apart and we know that out of the chaos of the quantum world comes the cosmos[1] or orderly world and universe. This raises the question, what kind of force keeps it in order and is that force unintelligent or intelligent? The naturalist tells us that the universe simply fell together and that it maintains itself without any intelligence to order it. But is that really what we see going on in the universe, our world and in ourselves?

The problems for naturalism are huge, but one of the biggest dilemmas is showing how order came out of disorder, without the aid of intelligence. This is like saying that reason came out of non-reason. They point to evolution and natural selection as the cause, but natural selection presupposes something to pick from, something which previously existed, something which has already been ordered. Natural selection never can be causal when it comes to ordering things; it always starts with something and develops it. It must start with something that is already ordered. If naturalists start with non-directed or Darwinian evolution, they are starting with a mindless process and are claiming that an irrational process ordered the universe. If this were the case, how could they trust their own reasoning?[2] Why should you trust the well-developed brain of a monkey? Darwin himself had doubts about mans power to reason correctly. He said in a letter to a friend “with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”[3]

In all areas of life, we see the law or principle of “order coming out of disorder. This raises the question; where does this law come from and what is the force behind it? There can only be two hypotheses that can answer this question. (1) The hypotheses of the naturalist who says basically it just happened, or the law always existed. In other words, it was all an accident or that’s just the way things are. Some in this school go so far as to say that the order we see in the universe is an illusion and it only appears to be orderly. This is no answer but rather the quibble of a man in a corner with no place to run. To me, all the answers of the naturalist seem to be nothing more than begging the question. (2) Then there is the theistic hypothesis that a cosmic order, i.e. God created and ordered the universe[4] and in turn keeps it ordered by his divine power. This is not to say that the forces he used are beyond our discovery. Sometime in the future it is quite feasible that we will understand these forces. However, discovering the “how” will never do away with the cause as many atheists or naturalists would like to think.

[1] The word derives from the Greek term κόσμος (kosmos), literally meaning “order” or “ornament” and metaphorically “world,” and is antithetical to the concept of chaos.

[2]  In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote, “if minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees”  (page 230).

[3] Darwin’s quota: Letter to William Graham, Down (July 3, 1881), In the life and letters of Charles Darwin including  an Autobiographical Chapter, edited by Francis Darwin (London: John Murry, Albernarle Street, 1887), Vol. 1, 315-316.

[4] To say that God created does not mean he created everything out of nothing instantly. He could have created things fast or slow. Seeing He is outside of time space-time.

 

The Idols of The Age

The Idols of The Age

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Rom 1:18-23

The majority of people today, both Christian and non-Christian, believe that idols were a problem in Biblical times but are no longer a problem for modern man. However, this is only true when one uses the term idol or icon in their most restrictive sense, as an image of God made with human hands. In its broader sense an idol could be anything which is exalted to a place of being one’s absolute or ultimate concern, or anything that would form or shape one’s values (Col. 3:5).

In his book “Radical Monotheism and Western Civilization”, H. Richard Niebuhr points out that our true God is the thing that forms our center of value and holds our loyalty.

In addition to our true God, Niebuhr speaks of a faith in a pluralism of gods; a faith that draws its meaning from a number of lesser objects, like money, sports, hobbies, work, politics, etc, things that people exalt to an unreasonable level in their life, things that seem to possess them and control them e.g. sex, alcohol, drugs, money, etc.

Now a person with a pluralist faith many even have as one of their gods the true God. However, to them on a deeper level, He is simply one among the many and may influence them to about the same degree as any of their gods. It could be said that this faith represents the faith of the majority of the population that claim to be Christians.

Niebuhr goes on to say, Our faith-in these gods then take two basic and dominant forms, “a pluralism that has many objects of devotion and a social faith (religion) that has one object, which is, however, only one among many” (page 18).

By the expression “social faith” he means that people have put their faith in a group or society of people making them the center of one’s values and making them the absolute of his loyalty. Social faith can be directed toward a family, tribe, nation, political party or a religious group. In this, it turns these groups into its absolute or God. When this happens, men have created their idol.
Probably the most obvious example of a social faith is the faith of a member of a cult, whose faith, though not recognized by the individual, is centered on the group and not God. On the secular side, it could be a person that is involved in a political party to the degree that the party is his ultimate concern and is the entity, which shapes his values and loyalty. You can spot one of these idolaters by their blind loyalty to their party. Many of these people think they joined a political party because it lines up with their values, but in the end, it is the party that shapes their values. This secular party god seems to be the fastest growing cult in our society, as people lose faith in their tradition religion, they turn to politics for meaning.

It is self-evident that the majority of humanity is incurably religious and that all men have an ultimate concern, which dictates their values and loyalty. It may not be known to their conscious mind, but it is there, working on a subliminal level molding them and controlling them.

In view of the above, we must conclude that few men live without idols and that all men have their ultimate concern, even the atheist. Moreover, we must conclude that many which fancy themselves as Christians have made the true God one among the many and are guilty of idolatry and disloyalty to the real God. It is little wonder that Jesus asked his disciples the question “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?” That is a true faith in the real God. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21