Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part II – An Accident of History

“If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’d be a Muslim.”

Middle Eastern ChristianityThis argument takes many forms, but the basic idea is that my Christian faith is significantly, if not entirely, dependent on where and when I was born, and it is therefore unreasonable to hold it. On the face of it, this seems relatively logical, if only from looking at regional demographics. However, there are a few serious problems: it is based on a logical fallacy, it excludes the one making the claim from its conclusion, it denies the possibility of an omniscient and provident God, and ignores the multitude of stories of people in strict Islamic countries coming to faith in Christ without even the benefit of an evangelist. Continue reading

Posted in Atheism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part I – The Monotony of Forever

I don’t want to spend forever doing anything, much less praising God.

BoredI’ve heard various versions of this complaint, but the basic notion is that an eternity doing anything – no matter how varied or pleasurable – is too much, and either the monotony or endlessness itself cannot be desirable. After all, what in the world (or out of it!) will we actually do for an infinite amount of time? I have two responses to this complaint, and I’ll tackle the more superficial one first. Continue reading

Posted in Atheism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kill the Son

Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”

– Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

“If you really loved me…”

As a kid in San Antonio, my grandmother was visiting and told me that she had been thinking about me, so she brought me some fried chicken livers, being pretty sure that I loved them. As a child with a horrifying gag reflex, I summoned up all my courage to take a bite. Right before I closed my teeth on that vile organ, she stopped me with a laugh: she was just seeing if I would really eat one just to avoid hurting her feelings. It was a test, and you could see how happy she was that I loved her enough to eat liver.

Continue reading

Posted in Behavior/Human Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Love Me the Way I Am

“Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved. …When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? …Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved….”

–       C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“Wonder what I’m thinking, wonder why I’m drinking, but it’s plain to see, I’m not the man I used to be.”

–       Fine Young Cannibals

There are two lies we are often told: People never change, and we should love them the way they are. The first is proven false by our experience; the second is based on a misrepresentation of love.

People Don't Change

I don’t know these people…

A dynamic life is full of change, but even the most stubbornly static existence is marked by it. People are forced to change: by nature, by experience, by conflict. People change: their personalities, their ambitions, their motivations, their tastes are all modified – if not fully transformed – at various points in life. And these are not just superficial changes, but rather fundamental alterations that often leave one unrecognizable. The phrase “Once a [fill in the blank], always a [fill in the blank]” is not only unfortunate, it is a lie. Of course, it is also used exclusively with regard to negative attributes. I have never heard someone say, “Once a kind, gentle soul, always a kind, gentle soul.” While this is possibly due to an intuitive understanding of human nature, it is also unmistakable in its purpose: to deny that essential improvement is possible. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Pride of Skepticism

Perhaps the primary origin of subjectivism today, at least in America, is the desire to be accepted, to be ‘with it,’ fashionable, avant garde, ‘in the know,’ rather than ‘square,’ ‘hokey’ or ‘out of it.’
We all learned this as children – to be embarrassed is the absolutely primary fear of a teenager – but we put more sophisticated, scholarly disguises on it when we become adults.
– Peter Kreeft

The evidence of God’s existence and His gift is more than compelling, but those who insist that they have no need of Him – or it – will always find ways to discount the offer.
– Blaise Pascal

I don’t like to look stupid. I’ve gotten pretty good at laughing at myself, but any ten-cent psychiatrist will tell you that’s just a defense mechanism. Á la Eminem at the end of “8 Mile,” the easiest way to avoid ridicule is to beat them to the punch. I am also proud, and I like to think that my beliefs and opinions are based on something substantial, not just feelings or hearsay. Accepting things based on “authority” has always been difficult, because in that situation the facts are only as reliable as the source, and how well do we really know anyone, much less their motives? I would willingly label myself a “believer,” but in actuality I have a hard time believing a lot of things.

Confession: I am a skeptic. Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, Behavior/Human Nature, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Reasonable Doubt?

“Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence.”
Bertrand Russell, when asked what his response would be if upon his death he was confronted by God demanding to know why he hadn’t believed.

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy, I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock

I would like to ask atheists the following question: “What would it take for you to believe in Christianity?” The answers would be as varied as the people themselves, but they would provide a glimpse into what they feel is not offered by the faith I hold so strongly. Most often, my approach is against the intellectual barriers to belief. However, I know that emotional and moral objections are much more substantial in the final reckoning. If Christianity were just another philosophy, then it would hold little appeal to the hurting, destitute and powerless. And it would only be fair for me to be willing to answer the corresponding question from the opposite side: “What would cause me to abandon my faith?”

Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

God, the Father

You asked for a loving God: you have one…. Not a senile benevolence that drowsily wished you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, not the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes…. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.

– C.S Lewis, The Problem of Pain [emphasis mine]

Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best.

–  C.S Lewis, God in the Dock

In my previous post, I mentioned two main objections to the idea of God that are also reasons that many people hate Him. The first objection was a moral one, in that they find their morals at odds with the Biblical stories of the Judeo-Christian God (where those morals come from is something that they should investigate, as well, but is not the point of this post). The second I claimed was an emotional one: they hate the claim He makes on their lives. I would suggest that an answer to the second objection is directly correlated to the first, in that God acts in the way that He does precisely because He loves us, and wishes that we are perfected through Him. In fact, He acts just like a Father.

It has been said that if you pray for patience, God will give you children. Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments