Atheists are full of good questions, one of which was recently broached at Common Sense Atheism in the post A question online theists refuse to answer? – that question is
‘Can you prove to me that God exists in a way that will also show that Zeus does not?’
I initially responded by citing my series on Pascal’s Wager, explaining that, while there is no direct empirical evidence for the existence (or non-existence!) of God, there are plenty of other methods for showing a difference in the believability of the various Gods.
One atheist responded that I had missed the point, writing:
What you *really* want here is an experimental test. Show us this goddy thing, and let us fire protons at it.
So let me take another stab at it – rather than giving him the sensible argument I gave (there is no empirical test, but that does not mean that we don’t have other methods by which to distinguish between metaphysical claims), I’ll try another valid one – that is, empirical science is not yet able to measure the spiritual – it can barely quantify, measure, or understand the psychological realm, so what makes us think we can evaluate the spiritual?
In the six part interchange between Tim Challies the Christian and Luke the atheist, it looks like Tim took a different approach than me, which seems to take offense at Luke’s confident declarations of Biblical problems. I agree with Tim a little, such declarations are a bit too definitive and value-laden to allow for discussion of cooperation within an umbrella of mutual respect, but I also agree a bit more with Luke that they were spoken in context of his personal journey and feelings in his ‘deconversion’ process.
So Luke also went sort of in Tim’s direction, although I think he is trying to redirect things back to ‘how can we work together?’ which I tried to address in Letter To Tim Challies / Luke – Part I. Luke has written a second Letter to Tim Challies, to which I now respond.
Luke over at Common Sense Atheism is engaging in a letter exchange with Tim Challies which should be really great. I am not Tim Challies, but I endeavor to be. All I need is to publish my own book and read a few hundred books to catch up, right?
Anyway, here is my response to Luke. I know that he may not have the time or the desire to answer me as well, since I am less influential. However, I think Luke asks good questions, and I have praised his blog before, as well as
trolled commented on it.
So here’s my response to Luke’s first letter.
Here is my sermon from 12/06/09 entitled At the Bottom. Based on Mark 12:41-44, it covers these main points.
- Turn towards God, not away
- Do not worry
- God is doing something new
- Put God first
- Give what you have
To download At the Bottom, please subscribe to our podcast feed.
You either love or hate 'Chick Tracts' – this documentary is interesting. Imagine this – over 1 Billion of these have been printed, in over 100 languages. Jack Chick may be the most successful cartoonist, in numbers of items sold, ever. And yet, he is not that well known.
problem with humanists is that they throw out the baby with the
bathwater. They call it ‘humility’ to suspend judgment, yet they judge others in matters that suit them. They
want compassion for all, but any hint of truth they dislike coming from the mouths of others equals Phariseeism. The
real truth is, they can’t tell a true Christian from a Pharisee. To
them, Paul was a Pharisee when he condemned sins (of course, he was a Pharisee before conversion).
The essence of Phariseeism is that keeping of the rules makes one righteous. A true Christian knows that this is not so, yet he seeks moral purity because he loves God and hates sin. He hides in mercy and gives it to others, but also seeks to live and declare the truth to save himself and others from sin.
An unconverted ‘Christian’ flees from the truth and towards
truthless mercy because he, remaining uncoverted, still wants his sin more than God. He can not preach against sin, except that of ‘judging
others’ because he himself is still living in it, powerless to transcend or fight it without the indwelling spirit, and must make excuses for himself.
In being ‘graceful’ (truthless) with others, he may pass this off as generosity, but he is mostly excusing himself from continuing in sin. And until the supernatural power of God does convert him, he can do naught but try to fool himself and others that he is really Christian.
In Why do some Christians become atheists?, I discussed five reasons why some Christians may have abandoned faith to become atheists – some noble reasons, some not. The ensuing commentary helped me see that these same principles can be applied to any faith or anti-faith decision. Here are those now six ideas, but I wanted to also ask the question – is Christianity primarily or first a decision of the heart or head? I argue that, to the chagrin of logicians and empiricists, Christianity is a religion of the heart – that is, conviction of the intuition and conscience, not an intellectual decision of the mind.
You are a Christian because (choose all that apply):
- You were raised that way, and have never seriously considered any other viewpoint, nor seriously questioned your faith.
- You made an emotional decision to become Christian during a dark time in your life.
- You felt a deep conviction and a reality in the presence and peace of God that led you to receive Christ.
- Your conversion was based on the first good argument you heard,
and you came from a position of weak ideological commitment – again,
you may have never seriously considered any other viewpoint.
- You are caught up in the novelty of your new Christian world view
mostly because it is different, and will leave it when the novelty
- Reason and experience have led you to your conclusion that Christianity is true.
I don't often curse, especially in print, but can I just say that the current administration's health care and climate plans are the height of idiocy! Especially since these crises are largely manufactured, and not real. The health care 'crisis' is really a crisis of EMPLOYMENT, which the Obama admin, despite their claims of saving jobs ('Mission accomplished'), has run into the ground since Bush, promising us that it would have been worse without it (even though under their plan, unemployment got even worse than their projections had we done nothing).
So here's some conservative 'spam' that is making the viral rounds. OBAMACARE IS AN ABOMINATION, and he is turning out to be one of the worst presidents in history.
As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the health care bill
before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the
brazenness of the government's proposed involvement in the
patient-physician relationship. The very idea that the government will
dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in
designing a health care system that works for all. Every physician I work
with agrees that we need to fix our health care system, but the proposed
bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if
I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following
troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe
that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our
Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of
all employers that self-insure!!
Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill: THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that
decides what treatments/benefits you get.
Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!
A joke from the conservative spamosphere…
George Bush, Queen Elizabeth, and Vladimir Putin all die and go to hell. While there, they spy a red phone and ask what the phone is for.
The devil tells them it is for calling back to Earth.
Putin asks to call Russia and talks for 5 minutes. When he was finished the devil informs him that the cost is a million dollars, so Putin writes him a check.
Next Queen Elizabeth calls England and talks for 30 minutes. When she was finished the devil informs her that cost is 6 million dollars, so Queen Elizabeth writes him a check.
Finally George Bush gets his turn and talks for 4 hours. When he was finished the devil informed him that there would be no charge for the call and feel free to call the USA anytime.
When Putin hears this he goes ballistic and asks the devil why Bush got to call the USA free.
The devil replied, "Since Obama became president of the U.S. the country has gone to hell, so naturally it's a local call."
I just discovered (via the Secular Nation podcast, one of the many atheist/anti-theist/secularist podcasts I follow) Margaret Downey's answer to the Christmas Tree, the Tree of Knowledge – that is, an atheists' substitute for the religious celebration of Christ.
Downey has a long reading list that represents perhaps the best (?) that skeptics of faith have to offer. I have reproduced the list below.
Downey is a true despiser of religion – she even hates when people exclaim "Oh God!" but you can bet she's not concerned about taking God's name in vain.
One of the most annoying voices on conservative talk radio is Mark Levin, author of the bestselling Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. However, it's all I've got some days, and once in a while, he has an interesting guest rather than the lowbrow callers that frequent the more rant-ridden types of shows.
Today, he had Norman Podhoretz, author of the controversial new book Why Are Jews Liberals?
You can listen to the 10 minute interview I've excerpted from the Levin archive. But the main interesting points I got from the interview were:
- In the mid 19th century, it was liberalism that defended Judaism from the threats of fascism.
- In 1967, a great shift occurred in American politics. The left became increasingly anti-Zionist to the point of being anti-Semitic, while the right, esp. the Christian right, began seriously taking up the cause of Israel.
- However, Jews did not become conservative because
(a) Converting or turning to conservatism in Jewish culture is as objectionable as converting to Christianity, and most Jews abhor both.
(b) Liberalism has replaced the values of the Torah for most Jews – where the two disagree, most Jews now side with liberalism and NOT the Torah. That is, liberalism is now the predominant religious stance of most Jews.
There's much more great content in the interview, including Jews' support for Obama. Enjoy.
Conservatives are getting tired of Obamanomics – it’s just plain idiotic to think that we can tax, spend, and borrow our way out of our economic problems. It’s contrary to reason and history. In fact, as Orrin Hatch recently remarked in exasperation at this anti-sense position, it’s stupid.
Courtesy of Faith 2 Action.
1. Government Health Care Takeover.
The Senate debate of health care is now underway. Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid wants a vote to take place before Christmas. Strongly
urge your two Senators to oppose this bill at 202-224-3121. Send "Pink Slips" to all of them (as well as each Congressman) here.
3. Energy Tax Bill.
is great concern that the U.S. will enter into some type of agreement
when world leaders meet in Denmark for a global climate change
conference that starts on Monday.
This treaty would be devastating to our economy and sovereignty. The
U.S. could also be asked to contribute billions of dollars toward
implementing this. Call the White House at 202-456-1414 and your two Senators at 202-224-3121 to express opposition to this treaty. A number of large companies, including Coca-Cola, are supporting the treaty efforts.. Call them, and strongly urge them to withdraw their support for Copenhagen.
It's appearing less and less likely that a "cap-and-trade" bill will
pass this year, but we must not become complacent about it. It has
already passed by the House and sub-committees in the Senate. Continue
to ask your Senators to oppose this bill at 202-224-3121. Contact the companies
supporting this and consider boycotting them, including BP America,
Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Nike,
4. Safe School Czar. Kevin Jennings, the homosexual activist who was recently chosen by the
President to run the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools. Call your
Congressman at 202-224-3121 to ask Congress to expel Jennings. Then,
send letters to the President and your Congressional leaders through
3. Energy Tax Bill.