I came across this objection to the type of God atheists think God is from their reading of the Bible recently: “I think trying to define Yahweh as good is like trying to define Aphrodite as Maximally Beautiful and then discovering that all the descriptions are of a woman who is universally unattractive.”

This reminded me of something Richard Dawkins is famous for writing in The God Delusion, ““The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

According to the new atheists, the God of the Bible is some kind of moral monster.

It is jarring for believers to hear such words about Someone they love. It… Continue reading

1-20-2014 7-32-54 PMAtheist: “How about this? If god is without limits why would he have to send his son to die In order to forgive sins, why is he bound by rules that would make that necessary? If he was without limits wouldn’t you expect that if he wanted to forgive sins he would just do it without having to have a blood sacrifice. The fact that god can only forgive sins if there is some sort of blood sacrifice indicates that it was in reality an idea of primitive man and not that of a supreme being”

Christian: Those questions are more problematic for the Western Christian view that has prevailed from the Middle Ages and especially after the Reformation but they don’t really come up in an Eastern or patristic context.

The question was asked so I will try to… Continue reading

Skeptic’s Objection: “Why would God allow two bears to kill 42 children simply for saying Elisha was bald? You mean if a bunch of kids make fun of my bald head, I get to take them to the zoo and throw them in the bear cage to be ripped apart? ”

I agree that this is an unusual story and at first blush it seems morally objectionable. However, I find most such stories from the Bible make more sense when read in their cultural, literary, and linguistic context.  Indeed, this is something we must do if we are serious about understanding something that was written thousands of years ago in a culture, time, and language as far removed from our own as the author(s) of Kings is. Of course, if our objective is actually to quote mine and mock something… Continue reading

11-25-2013 10-22-13 AM There is no doubt about it. The last several centuries have been an adjustment for Bible believers. Beginning with the realization that the unanimous view of geocentrism was wrong, the switch to a heliocentric model of the universe was difficult for many Christians. They saw the new science as a betrayal of the literal and clear teaching of Scripture by godless scientists. Reading the comments of men like Luther and Calvin in response to Copernicus is a lot like listening to Ken Ham and Kent Hovind rail against Darwin.

One of the new sciences which began during this period was geology. It was established by Christian scientists in the mid-seventeenth century and for two hundred years its expressed goal was to demonstrate that through both mathematical and scientific grounds the earth itself could give us evidence of a global Flood… Continue reading

goldilocksLately it seems that I have been running into the argument that the universe is just too darned big for God to have created it or for us to consider ourselves special in the grand scheme of things. Many atheists feel as if our relative size compared to the universe makes the idea that it was created with us in mind as being ludicrously anthropocentric.

I would argue that the discoveries of the last few centuries can be looked at through a variety of philosophical metrics. Certainly, size-wise we are more insignificant but in terms of life we are incredibly unique. Cosmologically we may be Carl Sagan’s “pale blue dot” and yet biologically we are truly a Garden of Eden, a wonderland of uniqueness. This is not to argue that there is no intelligent life elsewhere in the universe but… Continue reading

11-5-2013 8-18-46 AMI received quite the broadside from a Biblical fundamentalist this morning. He had asked whether I thought the Bible had copied from pagan myths regarding the Flood and Creation. Then he was obviously displeased with my answer that I did not believe the early chapters of Genesis were directly copied from Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths but they certainly shared certain common elements based on a common Ancient Near Eastern culture. His reply was scathing and typical:

“Do you really believe that the God of the bible lies to men, tells them fairytales as if they were fact, when they actually aren´t, borrows myths from pagans etc.? I can´t believe that you´re so open in that regard, Dave. Is Christ then a borrowing from pagan Gods and myths, too?? (There are some similarities, you know). Where does that leave us? I´m… Continue reading

10-28-2013 9-13-38 AMIn a recent exchange with an internet atheist of the “Science Disproves God” variety I was reminded once again how both sides in the theism/ atheism debate so often mix science and religion in confused ways to use one to disprove the other. Here is a part of that conversation:
Atheist: “”The Uncreated Being” is not the best explanation for the things you mention, in fact it’s the lazy conclusion that would make all the sciences a waste of time. Luckily most scientists do not operate in the paradigm of superstition and focus on reality; which theism seems to run counter to since it needs faith (and I mean the belief in ideas without any evidence) to operate.

As for the source of your knowledge, David, this is extremely important and far from immaterial. All of guys believe in a… Continue reading

9-28-2013 10-27-39 AM“If god commanded you to kill your children or loved ones, would you do it?” It is a pretty common question to be asked when talking to atheists online.

No, because I would assume I am a kook if I heard that or the Dark Side of the Force was tempting me.

However, if I had the one on one relationship Abraham is portrayed as having with God, trusted in His promise to bless the world through my son when he was grown, knew that God was the Author of Life and able to raise the dead, etc. I might feel differently. Abraham’s choice has to be contextualized; virtually none of us live within that context.

The ancient interpreters wrestled with this story just as we do. Interestingly, they saw this event as equally a test for Isaac to be… Continue reading

Elvis & Jesus 1Debating the Resurrection of Christ with an intelligent friend who equates the first-century eyewitness testimony of the Risen Jesus with Elvis sightings today. My response:

I am reminded of the tragedy which befell a travelling circus when its Human Cannonball was killed while practicing his act of being shot out of a cannon. When interviewed, the circus manager tearfully said, “We will never find a man of his caliber again.”

In order for sightings of Elvis to be of the same caliber as the Risen Jesus eyewitnesses you would need to produce:

1. A dozen of Elvis’ closest confidantes would have to experience seeing him in person (sometimes just a few of them together, sometimes all 12) and hearing the same words as the others did. They would then go on to make a life-threatening career out of spreading the word… Continue reading

vd  I was recently discussing whether the universe was created by God or Nature with an atheist friend and he seemed surprised when I said I believed that God was a simpler explanation for the existence of the universe than Nature itself. He then said that even if I could prove the existence of God there would be no reason to suppose He was personal. Here is the question as I was asked:

“Why would it have personality, something only observed in highly complex evolved biological creatures?” To which I replied…

The Uncaused Cause, simply because it is the origin of time, space, energy and matter must transcend each of these by being timeless, non-spatial, and neither composed of physical energy or matter. Being timeless it would be changeless, being changeless it must be non-physical and immaterial (all physical objects… Continue reading

imagesIn response to the assertion that since all religions contradict one another, all are necessarily false and solely the result of natural evolutionary processes such as our need to deal with fear of the unknown and the human tendency to seek patterns and meaning in everything, I wrote this to an atheist friend…….

In your comments you have mentioned fear of the unknown and our human tendency of categorizing/ recognizing patterns to explain why religion exists. I have agreed and added love and wonder and conscience to that. We are both in perfect agreement that these are reasons the vast majority of humans are religious creatures.
Belief in God as Creator and the sense of right and wrong are primary basic truths that are built in to us as a species. They are intuitively true even apart from conscious reason… Continue reading

cosmicfinetuneDebating whether there is design in nature with a non-theist who says we only think so because of faith and that the natural assumption is that there is no design ergo no Designer. My reply:

“I believe that design is apparent in the beauty, complexity, and functionality of nature. I also believe that there is a good deal of randomness and even sub-optimal design worked into the system as well.

This is because God’s normal mode of activity in a cosmological context is providential rather than interventionist. By providential I mean He normally operates through the ordained and sustained natural processes by which He chose to weave the cosmos together.

The beauty, complexity and functionality are natural revelations that there is a Designer and is apparent to all depending on whether their spiritual eyes are opened or not (cf. Psalm… Continue reading

4-12-2013 7-49-53 PM I was pressed recently to give as succinct an explanation as I could of the accommodationist view of Scripture and whether I thought certain passages had been written as literally true or not. Our discussion centered around the opening chapters of Genesis and some passages in Joshua. The conversation came to a head when my friend quoted the account of Joshua’s long day in chapter 10 of that book:

“So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. (14) And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man;… Continue reading

4-3-2013 9-57-07 AM

 

The Scriptures do not teach Young Earth Creationism. They don’t teach Old Earth Creationism either.

Taken literally they simply express themselves in the cosmology of the time they were written.  Try reading these verses with ancient eyes as the original audience would have read them:

 

Does this mean Scripture taught error? No. Why not?

Cosmological models, like all scientific truths, are not absolute truths. Science is made up of tentative truths which can be corrected as more is learned. What makes a scientific model “true” or “not true” depends on whether it is predictively useful.

At the time Moses wrote Genesis the ancient Hebrew view of the world as a flat disc surrounded by the primordial oceans with the dome-like firmament above was, for all practical purposes, “true” since it was useful for their needs at the time.… Continue reading

I had an online exchange earlier today with  an academic sounding soul who wanted to push the old idea that Christianity is not truly unique as a religion because it stole many of its beliefs and practices from paganism. To set the stage: What set this gentleman off was someone who had posted to Facebook a still shot from Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus showing Him carrying the cross to Golgotha. I guess he wanted to rain on the Christian Easter parade (this weekend is the Western Easter) and enlighten us with the real origins of Christianity. I decided to post the conversation to my blog as an aid for others who may come across this objection to Christianity.

Here is the exchange I had with Carlo:

Carlo: The only religion remaining which relies on a sado-masochistic image…. With all due… Continue reading

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