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,… 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… Continue reading

Lately 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… Continue reading

I 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… Continue reading

Debating 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… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

In 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… Continue reading

Debating 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… Continue reading

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,… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

In a recent exchange with an anti-theist I was asked to defend the supernatural and why the Bible is similar to so many other ancient religious texts. I think that last claim is exaggerated but I chose not to quibble about it. As for the first criticism, it is interesting how often the philosophical naturalist’s anti-supernaturalism based on science rears its head these days in discussions.

My anti-theist friend wrote, “Science provides enough evidence to make the explanation that the Bible was written by normal men, and the supernatural episodes in it are largely myth, vastly more probable than the alternative that they actually happened.… Continue reading

Fiat Lux! The Vulgate’s rendering of the divine command, “Let there be light!” I have been engaging in several online debates with Young Earth Creationists on Facebook and it seems that not many of them are aware of the deep problems that undermine their position for a 6000 year old universe when the measurable constant velocity of light is considered in relation to the immense size of the universe.

The usual argument is that God not only created the stars and galaxies on Day 4 of Creation Week but also beams of light from them to us. This results in quite a few quandaries not… Continue reading

Please offer prayers for the departed servant of God my father, Richard Hawthorne, who passed away today and for the comfort of those he has left behind. Requiescat in pace, Daddy.

Death is a tragic mercy. Tragic because of the pain of being separated from someone we love, the regret of things not said often enough and the disappointed of lost opportunities. Yet death is often also a mercy for each of us as we depart since we do not have to live forever in bodies that wear out or with souls weakened by the sins to which we are prone in our fallen human… Continue reading

In response to a question on Facebook about how an Old Earth Creationist or an Evolutionary Creationist can justify animal death before the Fall of Adam. I thought this might be helpful for anyone with a similar question…..

Question: “How does a theistic evolutionist take into account the fact that evolution is built on the mounds of dead, diseased things underneath us, and that thorns and thistles were there and not a result of the curse? I’ve never had someone explain that to me properly.”

Answer:  I am more of an Old Earth Creationist than an Evolutionary Creationist (meaning that while I accept… Continue reading

I still remember when I first came to really enjoy reading the Bible. I had begun to be interested in spiritual things and even liked going to church and hearing all the Bible stories each week. However, whenever I sat down to read the Scriptures I would quickly become discouraged because it was hard to follow what was really being said in my pocket-sized King James New Testament. All those -eths and -ests and thee’s and ye’s simply left my fifteen year old head swimming after a few minutes of concentrated effort. It was discouraging to hear how important it was for a Christian to… Continue reading