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Question #1:   

Robert....

I hope you had a nice Easter. I have a question, how do you respond to atheists, have you ever been attacked by atheists (not physically) and if so, how do you respond? You must have come across this in the military and in your career. I mean, it's frustrating that were not supposed to get angry but yet, we pray for people who attack us? I've been ostracized from my family, basically for being a Christian. Although they won't admit it, I believe that's what's happened to me and my older brother.

My thoughts and prayers are with you my friend and teacher, may The Lord continue to bless you and keep you safe.

In Jesus Christ

Response #1: 

I have been praying for you and your family. Some people are "tough nuts" to crack. We have to have patience and trust that Lord – He knows we love them and knows what will get to them and when is the right time.

As for opposition, it comes from all sides, seen and unseen – and that is true for everyone who is trying to "live godly in Christ Jesus". Here is a link to a posting on Atheism (in Spiritual warfare 4) which will lead to the other links I have about this subject, one which troubles many Christians. Personally, I'm more worried about the lukewarm. Atheists tend to be crusaders against God – and that makes them ripe for being flipped when and if the Lord applies the right pressure. We all have to make our own decisions, but denying the plain truth which the universe and all life screams at them day after day requires a very aggressive (and irrational) stance – and probably means they are "protesting too much", having in truth real doubts about their "anti-faith".

Thanks so much for your prayers, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hi Bob,

A glaring philosophical inconsistency that I've noticed among atheists: they both view that the human mind is completely material, and that the individual ceases to exist after he dies. But if the human mind is completely material, then one must come to the conclusion that the same atoms that make up the individual are still there after he dies, so why should the mind simply disappear? The individual should last as long as the constituent atoms, and therefore he should continue to exist after he dies. However, if the individual does simply cease to exist, then the mind cannot be simply a material organism, and there instead must be something non-material that is destroyed upon death (as the constituent atoms still remain).

Response #2: 

It's not about logic or consistency – it's about justifying the decision to reject God's will for one's life. As is the case with the devil, these folks would prefer a universe without God since then they wouldn't have to obey Him or pay Him any mind, little considering that "life and breath and all things" come only from Him (Acts 17:25), and that without Him, no blessing of any kind is possible, only cursing.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

A friend sent this to me the other day " the thinking atheist" and has asked me to explain all this as you can see it's so much and as for me I wouldn't know where to begin. I thought of you because you helped out with Stephen Hawkins. So I looked up this thinking atheist and found this sight also among other things. I can understand if choose not to help because of the lengthy material here . Take care and God Bless

Bible Contradictions: This page addresses issues, contradictions and false logic with three of the most popular bible stories (Creation, Noah’s Ark and the Nativity Story), followed by a list of other scriptural accounts that conflict with each other. Browse the points below and ask yourself if the bible is truly a perfect, accurate, divinely-inspired document for living [many pages of text omitted]. This is far from a complete list of fallacies and contradictions, but these examples show the continuity issues rampant in the Holy Bible, rendering the entire document suspect as a reference for historical and spiritual truth.

Response #3: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. With apologies, it would take a small book to respond to every objection and all the verses cited here. I would certainly be happy to take them one at a time (I'll let you prioritize that). What I can say at the outset is that the fundamental problem this person seems to have is an absolute lack of faith that the Bible is true. Understand, he does have "faith"; we all have to have "faith" . . . in something. This person has put his faith in science. He believes that things which materialists find impossible are impossible – because he has chosen to believe that there is nothing supernatural. But that was a faith decision – it cannot be proven scientifically.

Furthermore, we know from scripture that all human beings (who are not mentally deficient) who live to the age of mental maturity understand from God's natural revelation of Himself that He exists and that He is all-powerful and all-just (e.g, Ps.19:1-6; Rom.1:18-32; see the link: Natural Revelation). That is very uncomfortable for those who have no wish to know Him or to respond to Him in any way. So unbelievers devise various ways of ignoring the truth. Some are agnostic. Some are religious (feeling that they can ward of the truth as if it were a superstition to be paid a tax unto). Some are "atheists". But aggressive atheists have something else going on. They take delight in bashing believers but they are also shoring up their own doubts by doing so. If they can refute a Christian (in their own minds, if not in truth), they feel they have overturned the truth successfully and replaced it with their own "truth" (which is instead a lie, of course). Not only that, but they feel (subconsciously at least) that there is safety in numbers, and that if they can get others to accept their "pseudo-truth" then it will become the actual truth. This is the same thinking that was behind the devil's rebellion and is at the root of all of his lies and tactics. But we know that the truth is the truth, even if everyone else in the world denies it.

One other observation. This person cherry-picks interpretations of the Bible he finds particularly easy to refute. In some respects that is so because they are false interpretations. For example, the dinosaurs were wiped out when the Lord judged the universe after Satan's rebellion (the Genesis Gap), so the earth is not "young" and there were no dinosaurs on Noah's ark. This is a straw-man argument on his part. But this is the sort of thing people do all the time. If they don't want to believe the Bible, they pick out one thing they think they understand about it and they think is an obvious problem and the apply that to the whole. In fact, there are answers to all apparent contradictions, whether the source is a lack of faith in God's power, or a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says or means, or relying on incorrect interpretations as if they were true. But only believers, and only positive believers, are really interested in getting to the truth. For those who aren't, unless a person is involved in apologetics, it is madness to argue with them. After all, how can you argue with a person who disingenuously says he/she knows there "is no God", when in his/her heart of hearts we understand from scripture that this is a lie: not only can it not be proven, not only does the universe and all God has made loudly refute it but the person in question really knows it too in his/her heart of hearts.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Question #4:   

Thank you very much this is a big help. I'll send this to my friend and I know it will help him to understand in some way as it has me. God bless brother

Response #4: 

You're very welcome, my friend. I hope it does help your friend. It ought to be sign to these people that anyone who is so intent on proving that there is no God is clearly motivated by some sliver in the heart rather than any sort of objectivity – and that sliver is the nagging truth that said person knows that indeed there is a God.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God".

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Given that the apostle Paul and even Jesus brought up stoning (Mark 7:10; Heb. 10:28), were those practices only done under the Old Covenant, because Christ was teaching throughout the Jordan area?

And why are unbelievers so quick to go to the OT for stoning when it's in the NT? Is it just some defense mechanism? People like Dan Savage are so quick to out Christians for being against homosexuality by going to the OT for shock value. This one atheist website I went on made me so angry because it downplayed and justified his bullying by saying that Christians should not condemn homosexuality when we eat pork and whatnot and yet they don't realize how heretical it is to say that. It just makes me so angry that bullies like this exist nowadays and that people are going to people like that who can't even tell you the themes of the bible.

Response #5: 

In the passages you cite, our Lord and Paul respectively mention capital punishment in Israel of the past – and there was capital punishment when Israel was an independent theocracy (with the sentence often carried out by means of stoning, though neither passage actually mentions "stoning").

Atheists are always looking for something in scripture to offend Christians and make their listeners think less of the Bible. But only people who want to reject the truth will be taken in by such devices. Ironically, the fact that such people get so worked up about scripture only shows that deep down they recognize that it is true. Atheists tend to be "evangelical" for their false belief that "there is no God", but that is because they know there is, and in their anger and madness their insanely believe on some level that if they can get enough people on their side they can "wish God away" – just like the devil is trying to do with his rebellion. When the truth is rejected, some lie will always be accepted (Rom.1:25).

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend, and please take my advice and stay way from swine and swill. Just "consider the source" and move on with the truth.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello Robert

I have seen a video with Steven Hawking saying that God is not real. People say that Steven Hawking is the smartest man alive, or just intelligent, therefore anything he says is right. What is your opinion about this statement.

Response #6: 

Einstein was smarter, and he apparently did believe in God. Newton was smarter than either of them, and he was probably a believer in Christ. Here is what I read in scripture:

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise . . .
1st Corinthians 1:25-27b NASB

No matter how smart people think they are . . . or really may be . . . that does not make them as smart as the God who made them! As if the pot could pass judgment on the Potter! In fact, everyone of minimal intelligence sufficient to be held responsible for their actions comes to realize the truth of the existence of God at a fairly early age (see the link). Only those who harden their hearts to the point of obliterating that basic truth which is writ large across the face of the universe, throughout the entirety of creation, and in every human heart, can ever profess atheism. Putting the truth to death in one's heart in that way in the faint hope that by doing so they can "make it so" is the absolute pinnacle of stupidity and arrogance. And so it is highly ironic for someone who studies physics for a living and has a reputation as being "one of the smartest people in the world" to demonstrate such monumental ignorance and arrogance in doing so. But then the devil is the most gifted creature God ever made, and he is trying to do the same thing – with the same ultimate result: the lake of fire.

For more on all this I recommend the link: BB 4B: Soteriology

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord who died for the sins of us all, regardless of our I.Q.

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Here's a dialogue I have with an atheist. It's still in progress, I think.

https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueChristian/comments/3hrx3q/2_so_im_going_to_be_writing_a_post_about_faulty/cuah804

Every atheist I've met assumes that he (and he almost always is a he) is smarter than me and that he knows the answers to philosophy questions he's never even heard before.

Response #7: 

Quite an interesting string at the link! And a good observation that arrogance inevitably accompanies the denial the essential truth – which sings from every part of creation – that He "is". There is a definite need for people like yourself who are intellectually capable of having these sorts of discussions. I wouldn't have the patience (nor could I do it as well as you). Perhaps apologetics is your field of ministry after all. You were certainly ministering to this fellow – and anyone reading.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hello Dr Luginbil, I pray you are well.

Could you go a little bit deeper into plausible deniability on scripture? As far as I can comprehend, to really love God we would need an option to choose him and for this option to be authentic, we need an option that states we do not choose him. Furthermore, how does our denial of God lead to us choosing Satan by default? This is a side question, but was Satan anointed as king or a priest in the angelic realm?

Response #8: 

Hello Friend,

The devil was the "covering cherub" which was apparently the highest angelic rank. He was replaced by a college of four cherubs who split up his duties (see the link: "cherubs").

When I use the phrase "plausible deniablity" in these writings what I mean is that God has constructed His interaction with human beings in the world so as to preserve a genuine free will choice by us for Him or against Him. Anyone instantly transported into His presence, for example, and protecting from dying at the sight of Him would not be able to deny His deity or His authority and would immediately throw him/herself before Him in complete submission. That, however, is something different from faith, the genuine choice from the heart to want to be with Him forever through accepting the Gift of Jesus Christ. So God has put a powerful witness to Himself, His goodness and His essence, in all that He has made, and also of course provides the truth of the gospel to all who respond positively to the truth of who He is as revealed in the world in which He has placed us. But the "natural revelation" (see the link) inherent in creation is not so overpowering that it can't be rejected (even though it is the absolute truth); people have been hardening themselves against these fundamental truths since mankind was ejected from Eden – and we see that everyday. If God and His Godhead could not be denied – if He put in regular appearances on earth in all His glory, for example – then even unbelievers would "believe" – but only in the sense of the demons who "believe and shudder". Some things are undeniable, like death, for example. But it is the truth of the gospel which must be accepted by faith which saves us by His grace. Keeping that choice free from coercion and undue compulsion is what I mean to communicate by using the phrase in question. Finally on this and in response to your phrasing, it is necessary to positively choose for Christ in order to be saved. It is not necessary to affirmatively reject Him in order to be lost. Many, perhaps most unbelievers merely refuse to respond to the truths of natural revelation. Those who affirmatively reject Christ or embrace atheism, e.g., are clearly lost if they persevere in that position to the end – but so are all who stay "on the fence", so to speak, until the time allotted to them for life on this earth expires.

Lastly, as our Lord said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad" (Matt.12:30 NKJV). If anyone is not of Christ, that person is of the world, and the world belongs to the evil one. If anyone does choose against Christ, whatever that person embraces is necessarily part of the evil system Satan has constructed.

I hope this gets to the gist of your questions, but please do write me back about any of the above, or in case I have missed any of your concerns here.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hi Bob,

I love atheists. Most of them don't have true malice in their hearts, but are simply ignorant of matters of God, so they try to use their human reasoning to comprehend scripture, but without any effect.

Sincerely,

Response #9: 

I'm not sure that I have the same perspective about atheists. According to my reading of scripture, knowledge of the existence of God is something that every normal human being comes to have very early in life – along with the existence of death. To blot out the truth which is written in broad strokes across the creation requires a willful turning away from that truth. No doubt many such people make pretensions after the fact to honest skepticism and a genuine desire for knowledge. However, while being agnostic or a deist could be an intellectually honest position, being an atheist can only appear so to secular eyes. Believers understand that such people "knew about God" (Rom.1:21), but chose to reject Him. Spiritually speaking, this puts them in an even worse place than recognizing He exists but being as yet unwilling to accept Him through His Gift, Jesus Christ.

I think that is an important perspective to keep in mind as you try to minister to these people. If it's what you are called to do, it's a noble calling. I would temper my expectations, however, because not many who have gone down this particular road ever come back.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

You wrote: Believers understand that such people "knew about God" (Rom.1:21), but chose to reject Him.

Biblically speaking, the Bible does not make distinctions between people who serve idols and those who willfully believe that God does not exist. Furthermore, what does Paul say about those same people who have rejected God?

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" (Romans 2:1-4)

Response #10: 

Rejecting the truth always means accepting some lie in its place. In antiquity, the most common substitute was paganism, but of course "idolatry" can come in many forms (Col.3:5; cf. 1Sam.15:23; Gal.5:20). It is of no spiritual consequence as you rightly point out whether the idol is an actual, physical image (of the type described by Paul in Romans chapter one) or the imaginations of a person's own heart (as in "there is no God"). Spiritually speaking, both are in the same place since both have rejected the true God for a false idea – and the rejection of the true always precedes the acceptance of the false (see the link: "the problem of unbelievers" and "hardening the heart" in BB 4B)

As with many things in scripture, we have to accept two principles which the world might see as antithetical but which are in fact complementary. We are to love everyone; but we are also to be "wise as serpents" about the spiritual realities with which we are confronted. Therefore when it comes to individuals who may be kind and loving, intellectually gifted and thoughtful, but who have nonetheless rejected God (whether in paganism or atheism or whatever other false idea or religion has been accepted in place of the truth), we can and should treat them in Christian love – and if our calling is to try to help them and witness to them we should surely do so – but we must also be realistic about where they are spiritually and not subscribe to any false hope or expectation about the likelihood of their repentance.

Prejudice, considering the word with its present-day negative connotations, is the unreasonable prejudging of someone based upon membership in some group. What is often not appreciated is that such prejudgment assuming goodness is on an equal par of error with prejudgment assuming badness. In spiritual things, when it comes to a negative category, membership in which is the result of bad personal choices in the spiritual realm, we would be remiss not to factor into our judgment both those choices and the biblical judgments on the category said person has freely joined – especially if said person is personally proclaiming such membership. For example, philandering is an activity based upon personal choices which, if we are talking about a chronic situation, may be rightly used to assume a certain spiritual level which is "not good"; and wouldn't this be doubly true if the person in question admits to the activity and proclaims it to be "good" and defensible? Embracing the negative behavior demonstrates that the downward spiral is much advanced. No doubt there are many people who have doubts about God but don't express them, and possibly even a good number who in fact do not believe in God but do not publicly profess that disbelief as if it were some sort of virtue. So while I accept the possibility that it may snow and sleet in Georgia on the fourth of July, I can be forgiven for being unpersuaded by arguments that wish to convince me of its likelihood.

There may be an exception in the case of very young people who really don't know what they "believe" and are merely making a personal statement through professing atheism in their quest to find their own identity; when it comes to older individuals who have had this position for some time, however, in my experience it usually takes some major "bolt from the blue" to cause them to reconsider, and even then change is a rarity. Still, for them to reconsider they have to be confronted, so I would never tell anyone who is feeling God's call to such a ministry that their work will be in vain. Even if people don't listen, God does still in His great mercy often keep on calling to them (this is the story of the Old Testament prophets in a nutshell).

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:14 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:   

" … it occurred to me—let’s think about Stalin for a moment. Was he an atheist? You might say well of course he was an atheist. No, on the contrary. In a certain sense, he wasn’t an atheist at all. He believed in god. Not only that, he believe in a god whose will determined what right and wrong was. And he was sure of the existence of this god, and the god’s name was Stalin."

The total lack of self-awareness on Dennet is rather hilarious. Yes, one could truthfully say that Stalin's god was Stalin, but the same could be said for any atheist who has ever lived. In fact, Dostoevsky mentions that atheism implies that man is "the chief of the Earth," which in turn implies that everything is permissible for man.

Christianity is a revealed religion, but it's the only religion that allows for reason to work. The idea that reason can function by itself was an interesting philosophical thesis from the Enlightenment, but it is ultimately false. All reason is built on the Rock that is Christ.

Response #11: 

I don't automatically assume that bad people are atheists or that atheists are bad people; far from it. There are many wonderfully good people who are not Christians; there are many people who while they have not accepted Christ have in spite of that refusal not emphatically embraced some alternative lie instead. Even those who do, may be functionally "good", depending on the lie in question (i.e., many religions teach morals and ethics, even though following them will not lead to eternal life). In terms of how such people function in society, there are plenty of relatively benign lies from the purely secular point of view. Most Mormons, I would observe, are good citizens and useful members of society. Had Stalin chosen Mormonism instead of Communism perhaps he wouldn't have killed so many millions. When it comes to individual behavior, vocally expressing a disbelief in the existence of God has nothing to do with the price of beans in Boston; it does, however, usually say a lot about a person's spiritual status.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

(1) If atheism is true, then man is the chief of the Earth

(2) If man is the chief of the Earth, then everything is allowed.

(3) Therefore, if atheism is true, then everything is allowed.

(4) But everything is not allowed.

(5) Therefore, atheism is not true.

Q.E.D.

Response #12: 

Nietzsche would disagree with the logic, but I certainly agree that there is a moral imperative (conscience) in human beings, even if it is overridden by the will in response to the sin nature often if not usually. This is often called the "anthropological argument" for proving the existence of God. If you see goodness in spite of the evil we know exists in the human heart, its source can't be accidental but has to be divine.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:   

Hi Bob,

Here's something Christopher Hitchens once said to Dawkins:

"If I could convert everyone in the world, not convert, if I could convince to be a nonbeliever, and I’d really done brilliantly, and there’s only one left, one more and then it’d be done, there’d be no more religion in the world, no more deism, theism," Hitchens stated, "I wouldn’t do it." "And Dawkins said, ‘What do you mean you wouldn’t do it?’" he recalled. "I said I don’t quite know why I wouldn’t do it. And it’s not just because there’d be nothing left to argue with and no one left to argue with. It’s not just that. Though it would be that." "Somehow if I could drive it out of the world, I wouldn’t," Hitchens revealed to Wilson. "And the incredulity with which he (Dawkins) looked at me, stays with me still, I’ve got to say."

Response #13: 

Thanks! Very interesting.

Question #14:   

Hi Bob,

The biggest problem Christianity has today is the fact that Hitchens can publish a book with little to no dialectical content and have it resonate with a large population of people, both believers and unbelievers included.

Christianity does not have a problem with logic or evidence, but the problem is that Christianity looks too bizarre in our modern cultural milieu, which results in people dismissing it without even thinking about it. The fact that the Old Testament includes stories which, while clearly seen as important and sensible to the audience of its time, are seen as completely bizarre and strange, such as Elisha's summoning of two bears to maul a group of young men because they taunted him, well, it doesn't matter how valid your argument is. In the mind of the listener, you are just playing a philosophical game to show that logic can be used to justify anything.

Putting more of an emphasis on the prophets and poetry of the Hebrew Bible would do a great deal in having people change their views on the Old Testament, including their views on the bizarreness of their stories.

Sincerely,

Response #14: 

In response, I would want to distinguish between the truth, contemporary Christianity, and public perceptions. These are all three different things which overlap a little but in my experience not necessarily a lot. Anyone who looks at the world and responds to the truth the Lord has written across His creation in broad strokes will be overjoyed to accept the more detailed truth of scripture after salvation (at least at first); anyone who is little interested in God and rejects the fundamental calculus of life, sin, death and judgment, will of necessity see Christians and Christianity in a false light (and all the more so as hardness of heart sets in; see the link). The Holy Spirit is the One who makes all truth real and understandable to the believer (and the unbeliever too in terms of everything relating to the gospel), thereby short-circuiting all perceived epistemological problems – short-circuiting too all such scar tissue of the heart (at least until a new Christian begins to clutter up his/her heart again with more human viewpoint). In short, I don't see any of this as the least bit problematic. For those for whom these things are problems, that is just a symptom of a deeper problem of lack of faith generally based upon some kink in the soul or other, and treating the symptoms won't cure the disease.

That said, I do take your point in that if a Christian is being helped by reading book X and confused by book Y, by all means read more of book X and less of book Y – at least until the teaching ministry he/she is sitting under brings him/her to a point of spiritual growth where the entire Word of God is accepted as such.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
1st Thessalonians 2:13 NIV

In Jesus Christ our Lord who is the very Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Hi Bob,

Nate Phelps is the son of Fred Phelps, who in turn was the man that traveled around the country with signs saying 'God Hates Fags.' Today Nate Phelps is an atheist.

Do you think that, instead of willfully suppressing the truth about God, that Nate may have been driven to atheism because of his obnoxious father?

Sincerely,

Response #15: 

I don't know anything about these people. I do know that we all have the image of God and the potential of accepting His truth in the gospel message about His Son . . . or not. It is certainly true that people react to events in their lives in all manner of unhelpful ways, and also that they often blame God for things that go wrong (Matt.13:21; Mk.4:17; Lk.8:13). I have also seen it happen in other cases that people will react to the actual or perceived bad and pernicious behavior of certain Christians and blame God for that too, or will at least use that to justify their rejection of Christ. But nothing anyone has done or seen or heard takes away free will or the responsibility we all bear before the Lord for the decisions we make in this life. The sort of thing mentioned here falls into the very large category of people letting themselves be blinded to the true issues of life for subjective reasons. Dig down deep enough into the heart, and in each case there will be found an instance of choosing self over God, rejecting His mercy from entirely selfish motivations. This will all be revealed in the end.

This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Romans 2:16 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

There is no need, except an emotional need, to advocate atheism. Our knowledge of God is incomplete, because it is a model. There isn’t enough room in our brains for us to know all the information about God (or in all the books in the world, as John well puts it).

Sincerely,

Response #16: 

Amen!

I think that really is the main point. Why the internal drive to "prove" something which could never be proven – even if the thesis weren't so false? Can't really explain that without arrogance on the one hand and the devil on the other.

Question #17:  

Hi Bob,

"I’m so optimistic that I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about twenty-five years almost all religions will have evolved into very different phenomena, so much so that in most quarters religion will no longer command the awe it does today." - Daniel Dennett (in 2007)

I think he will be in for a rude surprise in 2026. He's 72, so it's definitely possible.

Please pray for him, as I have done. I had an agnostic friend who, after several weeks of hardcore apologetics and prayer, confessed that God is love and that he finally "understood it," so I have proof that prayer works.

Of all the atheistic philosophers (but he's really more of a gentleman scientist than a philosopher) I've encountered, I believe that Dennett is the most intellectually honest of them all. He basically doubts God, not because of evil or any other of the old chestnuts, but because he cannot believe that humans are anything other than extremely complex machines and that soon this will be conclusively proven given the trajectory of history and rise of AI. If he lives to see the opposite come to pass, he will have to reconsider everything.

Sincerely,

Response #17: 

Not so long ago people were talking about "the end of history" as well. At least there was an argument to be made there. Given that religiosity and religious fanaticism have actually been growing immensely in spite of – perhaps even because of – technological advance, this is a very strange statement to make, one which seems motivated more by misplaced wishful-thinking than by any particular trend in world events. Biblical Christianity is in a slump, however (this is after all the lukewarm era of Laodicea - link). These dual trends are what really will continue until religion explodes into the worship of antichrist during the Tribulation. It will be interesting to see whether or not these passionate atheists take the mark of the beast.

I will say a prayer.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

How are you? It's been a long time since I've written to you. I actually wrote the bulk of this email quite awhile ago, but never got around to sending it. Like a surprising amount of people, I feel guilty for taking up so much of your time with whatever is troubling me. I've been feeling very lonely lately, and was comforted to find that a lot of your readers, my fellow Christians, feel the same way. In your most recent email list, someone asked if they could keep corresponding with you on a regular basis, and I'd like to do that too. So here's what I wrote and never sent:

This has been on my heart lately. It pains me to see unbelievers refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and their attitude toward His children disgusts me. Specifically the ones who call themselves atheists irritate me the most. I want to laugh at them as they burn in Hell, but I don't think that's the right attitude I should have.

I don't understand why they don't want to put their faith in God. To better understand them, I tried reading a book by Christopher Hitchens, and found his arguments to be weak, and him (and all other atheists) to be arrogant. Yet his claims about most Christians are spot on. He wrote that most Christians know very little and don't care to learn anything about God's word, which is true; I can't argue with that.

I only attempted to read his putrid book because of my philosophy class. My classmates considered me to be something of a joke because I vehemently argued for the existence of God. I hated their knowing smiles and their laughter.

The professor made us team up against each other and debate over whether or not belief in God was rationally justified. It was scary. I wasn't entirely satisfied with how well my team did; in fact, I was shaking and got quite emotional once it was all over. To add to all that, my teammates weren't much help; I did most of the work. The team we were arguing against wasn't much better off than we were. They were missing a member, and one of their members had such a heavy accent I couldn't understand a word she said. It was basically just me against this one atheist. After the debate, he remarked to his teammate, "If only our other member was here, I would have destroyed her."

I felt like I had failed God because I wasn't prepared enough to present an argument that would make the existence of God undeniably clear to my classmates. But then the professor had us read a series of arguments which were the most brilliant arguments for the existence of God that I'd ever seen. Yet when the professor asked the class, "So, are any of you convinced that God exists?" not one of them said yes. So, I learned that it is not from lack of evidence that they don't believe. And I was comforted in the fact that no matter how well I presented my argument, I would not have convinced them to put their faith in Him. I keep having to remind myself that it is the Holy Spirit that changes the heart, not anything I do.

I'm sad that so many are convinced by the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins. These kinds of men only pick on weak Christians; defenseless Christians who aren't capable of giving them an answer. Yet, I find myself agreeing with them on a lot of what they say about the church, specifically because they are referring to lukewarm cultural "Christians." So, I view them as a good wake-up call to the church of Laodicea, as if God is saying, "Look, the unbelievers know more about me than you do."

I don't like being treated as if I'm not worthy of respect because of my belief in Christ. Their harsh words still shake me. So, I guess I'm asking for specific verses from Scriptures to help build up my armor against them. I'm not frightened of them, I just don't always know what to make of them or how to deal with them. They're so boisterous and confident in their foolishness.

Thank you in advance. I'm always keeping you in my prayers.

In Him,

Response #18: 

It's good to hear from you. I have been keeping you in my prayers daily, knowing that the college experience these days can be very difficult for many young Christians. That is more true of those who are unsure of their faith and Christian purpose, however, so it's not as if I am actually worried about you. Still, prayer support in challenging circumstances is something we all need.

It sounds to me as if you have been doing a wonderful job in negotiating these tests! Your job as a believer in Jesus Christ is not, as you realize, to convince other people (faith in Christ comes from the free will image of God inside a person or not at all). Your job is to demonstrate that in spite of their negativity and condescension – and in spite of all other opposition – you remain and always will remain strong in your faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I'm sure you are busy, but there is plenty at Ichthys that might be helpful for you on this score. The main posting is BB 4B Soteriology (at the link) which outlines how people come to consciousness of God and how they are saved – or choose not to be. Being placed in the situation in which you were placed is no easy thing, and to my mind you handled it in a way well-pleasing to our dear Lord Jesus. That is what counts, not how other people seem to react. In truth, all of these classmates of yours know very well that God exists, except in the case of some who may have already hardened their hearts to the point of actually believing the lies they are spouting.

(18) God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness – on men who suppress the truth [in their hearts about God] in their unrighteousness. (19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
Romans 1:18-21

For your see, things are actually the other way around from how philosophy professors would like to frame them. God has written the proof of His existence – and also of His perfect character – in broad strokes across His entire creation (Ps.19:1-6). Everyone who is not mentally deficient reads that message and understands it from a very early age, for that proof of eternity is also written into every human heart by God Himself (Eccl.3:11). But most people aren't interested in having a relationship with the One perfect, righteous God. They would rather go their own way in this life and be gods unto themselves. Most of human culture, philosophy, and religion has as its true if hidden purpose to help this majority of the human race be able to live their lives as if God were not important or did not exist – and as if this life would go on forever. It doesn't, of course, and in the end all who reject Him will rue their fate, but not their decision. Life and this world as God has constructed it is the perfect testing ground to demonstrate who is willing to respond to God to be saved from sin and death, and who is not, who wants an eternity with God, and who does not.

So it's a very important perspective, here in the devil's world, to remember that this is all about our Lord Jesus, and not about us. Those who have chosen against God (or resist choosing for Him, which amounts to the same thing in the end) will of course reproach us just as they reproached Him (Matt.10:25). Our job is to continue to give a good witness in everything we think, say and do. One never knows what's going on in the hearts of those who want to seem to be going along with the crowd. I thank God for you that you refuse to do so, in spite of the considerable pressure. This is what the proper Christian walk, race and battle is all about.

Don't you know that all the runners in the stadium run the race, but that only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to achieve what you are after. And again, everyone involved in competition exercises self-control in all respects. Those athletes go through such things so that they may receive a perishable crown of victory, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. So as I run this race of ours, I'm heading straight for the finish line; and as I box this bout of ours, I'm making every punch count. I'm "pummeling myself", one might say, bringing myself under strict control so that, after having preached [the gospel] to others, I might not myself be disqualified [from receiving the prize we all seek].
1st Corinthians 9:24-27

Here are some links about atheism and our fellow believers confronting atheists which might also offer some helpful perspective for you:

Confronting Atheism

Proving the Existence of God

Unbelief and its Consequences

Dealing with Atheism in the family

*Atheism: Putting Truth to Death

Atheism in spiritual warfare

Atheism and Gnosticism: Denying the Truth about God

Proving the Existence of God

You make me proud to be your brother in Christ. Do feel free to write me any time.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I'm still digesting everything you've written, and I'm working my way through the links you sent me. For some reason the last four links link to Confronting Atheism, so I just searched on Ichthys for the right articles.

I'm starting to understand Atheists a little better, but I still can't comprehend why some refuse to choose Jesus. It's difficult for me to believe that, even if given another lifetime, they'd rather burn for all eternity rather than submit to Christ and live forever. Yet, it's also strangely comforting to know that those who end up in Hell truly deserve it, and that there isn't a possibility for them to not have understood how to be saved, or for them to eternally regret their decision. Ultimately, they'll be "happy" there.

I can't thank you enough for all the help you've given me.

Marana tha! I can't wait for the end! Every day I pray, "help us, your servants, keep running."

In Him,

Response #19: 

You're very welcome, my friend. First, apologies for the link problem. My email program was automatically "updated" – which inevitably seems to mean "made worse". At any rate it is apparently operating differently than in the past. Here are those links again:

Confronting Atheism

Proving the Existence of God

Unbelief and its Consequences

Dealing with Atheism in the family

*Atheism: Putting Truth to Death

Atheism in spiritual warfare

Atheism and Gnosticism: Denying the Truth about God

Proving the Existence of God

I think these are correct this time, but do let me know if there is another problem.

On what atheists want, just as with all other unbelievers, atheists don't want to burn in hell. Satan doesn't want to burn in hell. What these enemies of God want is a universe they rule without God interfering at all. They want "heaven", not hell, but a heaven without God. That is impossible. There is only blessing with God; there is only eternity with God. Sadly – and hard for every believer to understand – all such individuals would rather be their own "boss" for a short time than bow to God for all eternity, in spite of the consequences. Naturally, if they were given the choice while in hell, they would no doubt pretend to want the alternative; but as soon as the pressure was off, they would revert to who they really are, to who they really wanted to be.

Also, it's not really a question so much of deserving punishment (Jesus has paid for all every sin of theirs – except the one of rejecting Him and His work for them) as it is of the necessity of the consequences of the choice unbelievers are intent on making. This world is a difficult place, but there is blessing in it – light for the eyes, food and water for the body, beautiful things for the soul (Acts 14:17; 17:25). But all such blessing, indeed all blessing of any kind, comes from God. In eternity, we will either be with God or without God. Being without God means being deprived of His blessings, of His goodness, of His light. There is only one place of separation from God in the entire universe which He has created, the lightless nether world wherein we find the lake of fire, a dark place without any of God's blessings by definition inasmuch as it will be the one place in eternity where creatures will exist apart from Him. Unbelievers want God's blessings; they just don't want to have anything to do with God Himself.

Atheism is thus really just one of many strategies human beings have developed (along with the devil's help) to get through this life living as they please without having to confront the grim reality of the soon-to-come eternity that is the natural result of their choice. God is actually being very gracious to them to allow them to be mentally relaxed (having hardened their hearts) about their decision to reject Him; otherwise this life would also be torture. As it is, they can enjoy this futile life for a few short years before the unending years of darkness come (Eccl.11:8-10; cf. Lk.16:25). It is a poor bargain to be sure, but it is not as if they didn't understand it when they made it, and didn't have a chance to change their decisions as long as they were alive.

Much more than any of that however – and critical for believers to keep in mind whenever discussing or thinking about such matters – is that God made it possible for them to avoid that horrid fate by sending His one and only dear Son to die for their sins: Jesus died for every sin of every atheist just as much as He died for yours and mine. The price of their deliverance has been paid in full – at the greatest cost. They "knew [all] about God" as Paul assures us (Rom.1:21), and yet they threw the gift of Christ back in the Father's face.

Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
Job 21:14-16

They said to God, ‘Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?’ Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
Job 22:17-18

This is all about free will, which is in turn all about what we choose to believe and whom we choose to obey – God or our own self-willed desire.

Keep running your good race, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Oh, that makes more sense. They want God's blessings but don't want Him. It's not that they're going to enjoy hell. It's that they'd rather be a god unto themselves during this life rather than submitting to Christ and living forever, even if their choice means going to hell.

Now this got me wondering about what actually condemns us. We need Christ to pay the price for our sins, because we cannot possibly live the life that Jesus lived. I don't remember the name of it, but I was reading an article on Ichthys about this, but didn't quite understand what you wrote. Is the concept of "original sin" biblical? 'Cause that's what I was taught.

Sorry for the late response.

In Him,

Response #20: 

Good to hear from you always. Christ died for all sins – so that opens the way for all to be saved. But this is a Gift that has to be accepted in order for it to save us. We have to appropriate salvation by our faith acceptance of Jesus and His work on the cross for us. All sin has been expiated, but we are only actually redeemed from sin when we accept the Substitute who paid the price of our redemption. That's when we are reconciled to God. There is a synopsis of these doctrines in BB 4A: Christology at the link under "the saving work of Jesus Christ".

As to "original sin", as it is traditionally been taught since Augustine, suffice it to say that there are some serious problems with that doctrine. You can find what I have written about it at the links: "the so-called imputation of Adam's sin" and "original sin".

Keeping running a good race, my friend! Therein lies great eternal reward.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:   

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

You're so kind. Thank you for those links. So we aren't personally guilty of Adam's sin, but it's because of Adam's sin that his body/nature was corrupted and thus ours as well? I always thought that we were guilty of Adam's sin because we all would've done the same thing. I don't know if I'm understanding this correctly. We are guilty/condemned at birth because Adam sinned, but it's not because his sin in the garden is imputed to us? It's because he passed on his sinful nature to us, and because of this we are unclean? We aren't guilty of eating the fruit? And when unbelievers are ultimately condemned, it's because of their sinful nature inherited from Adam, plus their guilt from their own personal sins, but ultimately because they did not accept Christ as their Savior?

I've always had a problem understanding this anyway, because if all fell because of one man, why aren't we all saved because of Christ?

In Him,

Response #21: 

There's no such thing as "the imputation of Adam's sin". That false doctrine dates back to Augustine and is built upon a misunderstanding of Romans 5:13 which says no such thing (see previous links). We are born without eternal life. We are born with a sinful nature. We are born with corrupt physical bodies which will die soon enough, leaving us nowhere to go but hell since we don't have eternal life – not to mention that we have by that time committed more sins than we have hairs on our heads. We are born into an impossible situation – and that is the lesson God has written in broad strokes through creation. No one fails to "get" that we are going to die and meet God without anything to put before Him to make up for our imperfections and sins. But of course, blessedly, He has paid that price for us in sending our dear Lord Jesus to die for all human sin. So as long as we have accepted Him and His work in place of our own, we are saved. And it is not too much to say that just as long as we don't say "no!" to the gracious Gift of Christ, we are saved. Those who reject the Substitute who paid the price for them have no sacrifice to place before the Father on that day. That is the one "sin" for which Christ could not die – obviously – the sin of rejecting Him and His sacrifice for all sin. The only thing that separates the unbeliever from God and eternal life is his/her own decision not to receive the blessing of forgiveness paid for in full through the blood of Christ, His spiritual death for the sins of the entire world.

In the Name of the dear Savior Jesus Christ who bought us free from our sins with His own death.

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Let us start with Hume's claim stated in plain, simple English.

CLAIM: "It takes a miracle to prove a miracle."

Now let us use formal logical language to make this statement precise, but in order to do so, it is necessary to introduce a definition:

DEFINITION: "For any epistemological path of justification p, we will call p miraculous if any logical link of p requires a miracle."

Now we can formalize Hume's claim as the following:

PRECISE CLAIM: "For any epistemological path of justification p, if p is justification for a miracle, then it is necessary for p to be miraculous."

Notice that this statement is a universal quantification over the domain of possible epistemological paths of justification, so the negation of this statement (which you can see for yourself according to the rules of first-order logic) must be the following:

NEGATION OF PRECISE CLAIM: "There exists an epistemological path of justification p such that it is possible for p to be non-miraculous and for p to be justification for a miracle"

Now we will prove the negation by constructing such a path of justification. Suppose that a person were to demonstrate to Hume that (1) the belief that "a miracle is needed to prove a miracle" leads to a contradiction and (2) presents reliable, documentary evidence for the existence of a miracle. We know that it is possible that the belief that "a miracle is needed to prove a miracle" could lead to a contradiction, so constructing a path of justification by eliminating the belief and providing documentary evidence would result in an epistemological path of justification satisfying the negation of the precise claim, thereby falsifying Hume's original claim. Q.E.D.

Response #22: 

I'm not ashamed to admit that this is over my head (notwithstanding "plain English").

One thing though, what's "a miracle"? The devil is often in the definition. Trust me when I say that there really is no such biblical category in terms of the way that word is received by English speakers after centuries of Roman Catholic influence. "Miracle" isn't based upon the original Greek or Hebrew of the Bible: it's a Latin word which means, etymologically, "a little wonder", that is, something people who view it find "amazing"; but in Greek its often dynamis, literally "power" or "power[ful demonstration of God's power] (as in Acts 19:15). If we think we are speaking of things "supernatural", on the one hand folks of the persuasion you are coming up against will likely have alternative explanations for anything that happens (including of course denial of anything they haven't seen with their own eyes – and probably also for things they have); on the other hand, everything that happens in this world is connected to the supernatural in truth.

So I worry that the problem here is in trying to objectify things that sinful human beings have no problem being completely subjective about. That, after all, is part and parcel of the plan of God: the ability to deny the truth. It's no use giving us the image of God if we can't actually use it. If God appeared to Hume or any atheist in person, well, that would be the end of all his fine arguments – but it would also be the end of his free will on that most critical point (the one for which he was given it in the first place, namely, to choose for or against God in this short life).

Keep up the good work, my friend! I very much look forward to seeing where the Lord takes you and how He uses you in the fight ahead.

In our dear Savior and Master Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:   

My [ ] professed atheism and is going down a bad path in life.

Response #23: 

[ ] is fortunate to have you. I can easily see how someone growing up in a Roman Catholic environment is likely either to accept it (as an unbeliever) as part of life (in the same way a family has a favorite baseball team), or reject it. The latter course may end up just as bad, but it may also be a way out of religion and into spiritual truth. Given the delayed maturation induced by our particular societal conditions, it's doubtful that many high school students have fully explored and determined their desired "life paths". Many of us just have to "go over fool hill" before we get straightened out. Getting back on track, or getting on a good track that may not have been available at the time, is something that often can only be done after the alternatives are explored. Unlike many people, your [ ] has you as an example of the power of the truth, and also as someone who can be turned to for guidance and encouragement. If not ready to do so at the moment, that day may well come. So keep moving forward spiritually yourself as you are doing. We believers who are actually following Christ the right way are "witnesses to men and angels both", and often especially to those nearest to us.

I'll be keeping that in my prayers from here on in as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:   

Hi Bob,

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse."
Romans 1:19-20

I can understand how one could see God's eternal power through creation, seeing that the final dialogue in the Book of Job showcases God's awesome creative power through the various ways he organizes nature. But what does Paul mean by "divine nature"? It cannot be referring to the idea that God's creation is timeless, without end, and unchanging, as the whole world is fleeting, has an expiration date, and in constant flux. Perhaps we can turn to an unlikely source to answer what Paul meant by "divine nature."

Baruch Spinoza famously argued that the universe itself combined with its natural laws is, in fact, the same thing as God. He went too far, but think about his train of thought for a moment. Physicists see knowledge of the organization of the universe as the final purpose for all of mankind, while theologians see knowledge of God and his character as the final purpose for all of mankind. Physicists see the organization of the universe as expressionless, beyond explanation, and as the final word of all things true, while theologians see God's son as expressionless, beyond explanation, and, in the words of the author of Hebrews, "the final word spoken to us... whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." (Hebrews 1:2-3)

Sincerely,

Response #24: 

The phrase is speaking about God Himself. That's why we can say with scriptural confidence that all human beings who live to the point of accountability (and who are not mentally impaired) come to the point of consciousness of the existence of God, and not only of His existence but also of His power and His personal nature – His perfect justice/righteousness, His perfect holiness, and His perfect love. These things are hardwired into every human spirit and revealed in every aspect of creation (Eccl.3:11; Ps.19:1-5). After becoming worldly and "mature", most people vitiate these essential truths which they were lead to see quite clearly at the time, even to the point of denying God's existence or impugning His character.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:  

Hi Bob,

The vast majority of high-IQ academics in Western civilization are either atheists or agnostics. More importantly, this hasn't always been the case, and in fact, there was a time in history when being a high-IQ academic in Western civilization made you more likely to be saved than being a member of the general populace. So what happened? More importantly, is this really an accurate snapshot of the eternal, spiritual status of contemporary academia? One could imagine, perhaps, that most of the high-IQ academia upon entering the Tribulation would have to rethink everything they've believed in order to accurately conceptualize reality, just as many Jews will have a change of heart upon seeing the second coming with their own eyes. The Bible has a lot to say about intelligence as a difficult virtue to bear. "He who increases knowledge increases sorrow" (Ecclesiastes 1:18) is one of them. Intelligent people are mostly hated and are more difficult to minister to in general. Perhaps one of the reasons I didn't lapse back into atheism or agnosticism is because you are a candidate for someone who is more intelligent than me. I don't think that intelligence should be a liability, and, unlike wealth, intelligence more often than not confers significant social disadvantages that, on a whole, make life more difficult. Don't let anybody tell you that scientists have a history of being looked highly upon in this country. Just like the Old Testament prophets, they were only looked highly upon after what they said was born out (and after their deaths). People mocked every single scientific endeavor and were opposed every step of the way, either by passive apathy (the song lyric "don't know much 'bout biology" comes to mind) or by actively opposing them, and only one of our presidents (Wilson) was an academic. Think that the connection between scientists and Old Testament prophets is a stretch? Compare the lives of Galileo and Jeremiah. The lives of both ended with them being despised by their peers and in imprisonment.

Sincerely,

Response #25: 

Maybe it's the other way around, viz., that atheists/agnostics are more likely to become academics, looking for solutions to the problems other people don't see or aren't particularly concerned about, especially given a need to justify their atheism/agnosticism in an intellectual way.

Satan fell from grace only after he corrupted his character on account of his own beauty. Anything that is an asset in this world has a tendency to corrupt because people are inherently corruptible, tend to attribute success to themselves instead of to God (cf. Ps.75:6-7), and are wont to glory in the gift to the exclusion of Him who gave it. That is why the prosperity test is one of the most difficult to deal with. As human beings with sin natures, we are naturally inclined to think more of ourselves than we should, and anything we are given – which out to reinforce humility – often has the opposite effect of inflating our natural arrogance. I suppose that is why "not many wise . . . mighty . . . [or] noble are called" (1Cor.1:26), and also why believers who develop (i.e., are "given") wisdom, wealth or position often run into spiritual problems. Becoming defensive about prosperity of any kind is a natural part of the devolution . . . and the next thing you know the person is actually blaming God for the gift (and any troubles the person associates with the gift). Better always to keep it simple, regardless of what we don't have and think we need, or do have and think it makes us something special in our own right.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

When I was a young kid, I was deeply aware of God's existence, but I am not sure that the existence of genera of animals is an obvious argument for a designer.

If I were forced to answer on the spot, with no prior knowledge whatsoever of Paley's Design Argument or Darwinian evolution, I would probably conclude something similar to what Aristotle concluded and say that the genera of animals just are. Just as we need to ask the Darwinian, "by what mechanism could all of these genera emerge," we need to ask the Paleyian "by what criteria do you determine what is designed, and what do you mean for a genera to be designed?"

Response #26: 

Yes, it's a tricky business to accept a secular standard (i.e., one developed by science rather than coming from scripture), then use that as proof for a biblical principle. I'm no scientist. What I can say is that the Bible makes the argument in this way, however one would wish to characterize it or put it into apologetic terms:

(1) The heavens recount the glory of God, and the firmament tells of the work of His hands. (2) One day after another pours forth [His] words, and one night after another declares [His] knowledge. (3) There is no tongue or culture that cannot understand their voice (i.e., of the heavens/firmament). (4) Their design has gone out into (i.e., "is visible throughout") the entire earth, and their words to the end of the world. He has set a tent for the sun within them (i.e., hidden it in the heavens'/firmament's night sky), (5) and from this it goes forth like a [resplendent] bridegroom from his [wedding] canopy. [The sun] exults to run its course like an athlete [does]. (6) Its starting line is at one end of the heavens, and its circuit [takes it] to the ends [of the sky]. And nothing is hidden from its view.
Psalm 19:1-6

So the creation "speaks" to people. There is also the truth that God has placed "eternity in the hearts" of all (Eccl.3:11), prompting everyone to God-consciousness:

(19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His – [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity – so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him.
Romans 1:19-21a

It's always dangerous either to "go beyond" what is written in scripture, or to fail to accept at face value what scripture does say and teach. Best wishes for your continued development of your apologetic gift!

Looking forward to witnessing the development of your ministry.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:  

Hi Bob,

There's an angry atheist on Facebook who is a musician for a garage band in Ontario, but despite his occupation he thinks that he knows more about science to lecture a graduate student in mathematics (me).

So I decided to really blow his mind with the following post:

Belief cannot change the laws of nature, but belief can definitely change how you interpret the laws of nature.

None of us actually has access to objective reality. We only have access to our memories of objective reality as they were formed through our sensation. Here is scientific evidence of this assertion: patients with visual agnosia can mistake their wife for a hat, even though they are looking directly at their wife and not a hat: it's not that they are seeing something different from non-visual-agnosia patients, but their memory-recall of what they saw is being misinterpreted, so their internal thought processes forces them to perceive a hat instead of their wife, even though they are quite clearly seeing their wife!

So nobody really has direct access to objective reality, which means that nobody really knows what the laws of nature are. What you only have is something far more inchoate: direct access to your memories of the laws of nature as your brain re-interprets your memories.

Let me put the previous in a more forceful way: you know how you make fun of "irrational Christians" for believing that they have access to first-hand testimony of Jesus, when in reality they only have second-hand translations of translations of what Jesus said? (I am speaking as a fool here.) This is exactly the same problem scientists have: second-hand testimony of translations of translations of the laws of nature.

Response #27: 

As you suggest, even world-renowned physicists operate as if they did have "access to objective reality" and as if there were no epistemological problem whatsoever. You have to have a lot of faith to do that – faith that your approach is right and that there is no spiritual dimension to life at all. I think that actually takes greater faith than the faith necessary to turn to the Lord. And that makes sense. It's ridiculous for a human being to assume that he/she has the godlike power to redefine reality in this way, to give it rules of one's own devising; that takes more faith than accepting what we all know from simple observation, namely, that there is a real God who has it all in hand.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

What I've Learned from Debating Atheists:

It's a game of tag. When he says, "there's no evidence for God," he's saying "Tag! You're it!" He wants you to bring up something, so you can say "Tag! Now you're it!" When he realized that he's getting clobbered even in his own game of tag, he'll say "It's all subjective" meaning "I'm on base so you can't get me!"

Response #28: 

Nicely resolved. Shows that this is just a game to people who've decided on "their own ways" and are not interested in God.

Question #29:  

You wrote: From the love we observe in a world full of hate, we posit the One who is the origin of love and we deduce His intrinsic goodness; from the justice we observe in a world full of iniquity, we posit the One who is the origin of justice and we deduce His intrinsic holiness; from the life we observe in a world full of death, we posit the One who is the origin of life and we deduce His unwavering faithfulness and truth - giving us hope that there is an escape from death through Him. By comparing this true picture of the Creator to our own comparatively unloving, unjust, corrupt and downright sinful selves, we should be motivated to seek Him as the solution to our imperfection and deliverance from the grave.

Since our observation is based on what we see in the world, where and how specifically, for example, can we observe love in this world which is full of hate? I think I know what you might mean, but would rather be sure about the argument you develop here. In: http://ichthys.com/4B-Soterio.htm.

Response #29: 

The point is that even though human beings are dreadfully sinful and hateful, yet we do find love – and sacrificial love at that – in this dark world. So we understand what true "love" is from our normal human experience, and, as with all good things, can understand in principle what Love with a capital "L" ought to be like; since God is perfect, His love must be perfect as well.

Question #30:  

I'm not the first person to notice America's syncretistic national religion either. See this knee-slapper from Mark Twain:

"It was pretty ornery preaching -- all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet."
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

You'd just have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at "preforeordestination." Fundamentalists are mostly harmless and are pretty hard to distinguish from conservative unbelievers, interestingly enough. However, every once in a while they manage to say things that are actually hateful and dangerous.

Response #30: 

It's a work of fiction but it does testify both to the fact that some pastors of the 18th-19th centuries were actually trying to teach something of the Bible and also to the fact that such things were already beginning to fall out of favor and under ridicule.

As to "fundies", it's not the most helpful term. Its origin has to do with the twelve volume set of popularized "theology" published in this country in the early years of this century, much of which is really apologetic and not theological at all (without getting into the theological disagreements I would have with much of what is written therein). Since most people have not even read this stuff, it's a little like holding individual R.C.'s responsible for the entire canon law of their church (whereas probably no scholar alive has complete control over everything in there, much of it being patently ridiculous and self-contradictory).

Legalism is another matter, however. When people stop being concerned about the actual Bible, being willing to read it and learn what it means under the discipline and authority of a substantive teaching ministry, they inevitably branch out into political action as a substitute. Anyone who understands grace and the true road to spiritual growth will know that bashing other people's incorrect beliefs – and being willing to use all manner of cheap rhetorical devices to do so – is no way to promote Christianity, let alone grow spiritually oneself.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:   

How do we spread the faith in these lukewarm end times? People today reject the notion of absolute truth and a Christian meta narrative. Objectivity is seen as "archaic" and "primitive", but above all else it's seen as "oppressing". Moral relativism, liberalism and humanism has poisoned the minds of this generation. Furthermore, evolutionism and naturalism is the dominant worldview that people hold, out of which come all sorts of degeneracy, immorality and decadence in today's western world. It is impossible to argue with these "New Atheists" or "Hyper Liberals", as they do not believe in objective truth. Discussions do not lead anywhere because they can just say: "Well that's your interpretation" or "That is the way you see things". And since nobody is really an atheist, everyone wants a spiritual experience to fill that void, and so I'm seeing a resurgence of gnosticism, pantheism and blatant paganism. While the old atheist or "bright" would simply reject God, today they are openly accepting Satan. The spirit of Antichrist is so firmly entrenched in the world, it's scary how fast things are developing. How do we as Christians break through to these people?

Response #31: 

Well it is impossible . . . for human beings. But nothing is impossible for God (Gen.18:14; Job 42:2; Jer.32:17; Matt.19:26; Lk.1:37; 18:27). It only takes a smidgen of positivity towards God for Him to bring about conversion – a mustard-seed bit of faith. For He has made all things as He has . . . "that men might seek God, if perhaps they might even [deign to] grope after Him and so come to find Him – for He is not far from any one of us" (Acts 17:27).

The problems you present are real. However, the only thing the evangelist has to do is to present the truth. If it is rejected, then do as our Lord commanded: "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet" (Matt.10:14 NIV). For the Holy Spirit is the real Evangelist, and He is perfect in His work; if there is rejection, those who reject are rejecting Him and His truth, not our technique.

We are all in this world to choose, and it only seems to be a question of influence, information and situations. In fact, in every case, it is a question of free will choice, namely, of whether or not to submit to God by trusting Him or to refuse to do so – that is the essential choice of life for which we are all here. There is more about all this in BB 4B: Soteriology at the link: "God's Plan to Save You".

You do a nice job here of encapsulating the problem, my friend. Just remember that God has the solution, the only one, Jesus Christ our dear Lord who died for the sins even of those who are determined to reject Him . . . and so soldier on: your work will not be forgotten by the Lord.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32:  

If you are a Christian, suppose it turned out that there really was such a being as Yahweh, but he was an alien from Alpha Centauri who had decided for a few centuries to have a little fun with the ancient Israelites. In particular, suppose it turned out that something like the events recounted in the Old Testament really did happen, but only as interpreted by Erich von Däniken in Chariots of the Gods. Would you feel vindicated? Would you expect Richard Dawkins to repent and race over to the nearest revival meeting? No, because even Dawkins is not that foolish, and neither are you.

Edward Feser is a good guy. That quote was an example of wrong thinking that is nonetheless prevalent not only among non-believers, but also many Christians.

Response #32: 

None of us really has a proper perspective on just how "big" God is, but as this quote you provided makes clear, some people are blasphemously far from the mark. The sad thing is, as you note, even many believers have a very small God in mind who is not much different from the imaginary super-being of this quote. They are all in for quite a shock.

 

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