The “New Atheists” put in their place

Well, we are about to leave for Charlotte, again.  Not for filming a telecast this time, and good thing.  I’ve got a fever blister coming up on my lip that would have the potential to make it seem as if Tomorrow’s World were being presented by some sort of large duck-faced humanoid.  (OK, it’s not that bad, at all, but way back when these blisters first began showing up around the time I was in early middle school, they were that bad.  That was just about the time I began to want girls to notice me.  And of course they did: “Hey, look!  It’s Daffy Duck!”  Now it’s just more of an inconvenience than anything else.)

With our departure imminent, I don’t have as much time as I would like to comment on the article I am bringing to your attention today, but I can’t help but at least put it out there for those who would be interested.  It’s from City Journal magazine contributor Theodore Dalrymple and is titled “What the New Atheists Don’t See.”  Mr. John Wheeler brought it to my attention yesterday, and it is an outstanding critique of today’s popular “New Atheist” authors — namely Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Onfray, and Daniel Dennett.  And Mr. Dalrymple is not motivated by a desire to defend his own faith, admitting early in the article that he does not believe in God, himself — a fact which, in my opinion, only makes his critique more scathing.

He says so many things so well that it’s hard to pick any favorite comments, but here are a few (and I know I’m missing some):

  • “Of course, men-that is to say, some men-have denied this truth [about the need for transcendent purpose in existence] ever since the Enlightenment, and have sought to find a way of life based entirely on reason. Far as I am from decrying reason, the attempt leads at best to Gradgrind and at worst to Stalin. Reason can never be the absolute dictator of man’s mental or moral economy.”
  • “The curious thing about these books is that the authors often appear to think that they are saying something new and brave… Yet with the possible exception of Dennett’s, they advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14.”
  • “Michel Onfray’s Atheist Manifesto, so rich in errors and inexactitudes that it would take a book as long as his to correct them, says on its second page that religion prevents mankind from facing up to ‘reality in all its naked cruelty.’ But how can reality have any moral quality without having an immanent or transcendent purpose?”

And here are some lengthier selections:

“In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins quotes with approval a new set of Ten Commandments for atheists, which he obtained from an atheist website, without considering odd the idea that atheists require commandments at all, let alone precisely ten of them; nor does their metaphysical status seem to worry him. The last of the atheist’s Ten Commandments ends with the following: ‘Question everything.’ Everything? Including the need to question everything, and so on ad infinitum?

“Not to belabor the point, but if I questioned whether George Washington died in 1799, I could spend a lifetime trying to prove it and find myself still, at the end of my efforts, having to make a leap, or perhaps several leaps, of faith in order to believe the rather banal fact that I had set out to prove. Metaphysics is like nature: though you throw it out with a pitchfork, yet it always returns. What is confounded here is surely the abstract right to question everything with the actual exercise of that right on all possible occasions. Anyone who did exercise his right on all possible occasions would wind up a short-lived fool.”

Also, on Sam Harris’ book:

“This sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple, with the assumption of certainty where there is none, combined with adolescent shrillness and intolerance, reach an apogee in Sam Harris’s book The End of Faith. It is not easy to do justice to the book’s nastiness; it makes Dawkins’s claim that religious education constitutes child abuse look sane and moderate.

“Harris tells us, for example, that ‘we must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting.’ I am glad that I am old enough that I shall not see the future of reason as laid down by Harris; but I am puzzled by the status of the compulsion in the first sentence that I have quoted. Is Harris writing of a historical inevitability? Of a categorical imperative? Or is he merely making a legislative proposal? This is who-will-rid-me-of-this-troublesome-priest language, ambiguous no doubt, but not open to a generous interpretation.”

Bringing us to his attack on one of Mr. Harris’ most horrendous statements:

“It becomes even more sinister when considered in conjunction with the following sentences, quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist: ‘The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.’

“Let us leave aside the metaphysical problems that these three sentences raise. For Harris, the most important question about genocide would seem to be: ‘Who is genociding whom?’ To adapt Dostoyevsky slightly, starting from universal reason, I arrive at universal madness.”

Addressing Christopher Hitchen’s contention that “religion spoils everything,” Mr.Dalrymple points out the cherry picking that Mr. Hitchens has performed and that the same could be done for “demonstrating” the horrors of unbelief, concluding…

“In fact, one can write the history of anything as a chronicle of crime and folly. Science and technology spoil everything: without trains and IG Farben, no Auschwitz; without transistor radios and mass-produced machetes, no Rwandan genocide. First you decide what you hate, and then you gather evidence for its hatefulness. Since man is a fallen creature (I use the term metaphorically rather than in its religious sense), there is always much to find.”

(Three cheers for human nature, eh?)

The selected responses published by the magazine so far include one from Sam Harris, in which he takes Mr. Dalrymple to task just as harshly as Dalrymple had taken him.  He also makes the point that Dalrymple — again, who does not believe in God — seems to be arguing that society should persist in believing in an “imaginary friend” rather than pursue the truth.  Mr. Dalrymple responds with an offer of an apology for being, perhaps, a “little intemperate” in the manner in which he expressed himself, but he does not back down from the points he has made.

I’ve quoted the article here perhaps more than I should have, but it is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.  If you didn’t click above, you can find it here, too: “What the New Atheists Don’t See.”

I’ve been meditating on these sorts of matters a lot recently.  How do all these really smart guys miss the boat?  There is no fear of God in them.  Proverbs 1:7 states a truth that is echoed in many places in Scripture: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”  And reading their works, if you can find a cubic angstrom’s worth of the Fear of the LORD in these fellows, I would like to see it.

Prophetically, a lack of the fear of God has a role to play: “For now they say, ‘We have no king, Because we did not fear the LORD. And as for a king, what would he do for us?'” (Hosea 10:3).  When many find themselves bereft of national power or identity, enslaved amongst the other peoples of the world, they will reflect on how they came to be in that circumstance, and this thought will come to mind: We did not fear the LORD.

Now, I’ve got to get to Charlotte!  Have a great day, and I will blog during the trip when I can.

17 thoughts on “The “New Atheists” put in their place

  1. I particularly like the line, “After all, the greatest enjoyment of the usages of this world, even to excess, might seem rational when the usages of this world are all that there is.” This is preceded by the important thought of, “Though eloquent, this appeal to moderation as the key to happiness is not original; but such moderation comes more naturally to the man who believes in something not merely higher than himself, but higher than mankind.”

  2. jilsrun

    What surprises me about your comments is that you are as judgmental as the person that you claim is making incorrect judgments. Don’t you practice the Ten Commandments?

    It’s important to question, religious teachings, even the bibles. You can no more prove what is written in the bible then the atheist can about their beliefs. This is the problem I have with Christians. They claim to have the truth but cannot prove it. Your bible is merely a book that has been written by men again and again.

    I want to make one thing clear; I claim no religion or belief system. I feel that ALL religions have a light and a dark side including Christianity. Maybe if the Christians would be open to the idea that they don’t corner the market on God, there would be more peace and acceptance in the world. The Christians sometimes remind me of Sheit Muslins with their extreme judgments and condemnation. My Spouse whom has studied to become a Christian preacher had decided that he could no longer pursue this path because he could not buy into the idea that if you were not saved you would go to hell. He could not believe that God would forsake the most loving people on this planet. The Buddhist. You could learn a few things from the Dali lama. He would never Judge you for your beliefs.

    Blessings

  3. T

    > “…they advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14.”

    That sounded pretty arrogant and condescending, if you ask me.

    > How do all these really smart guys miss the boat? There is no fear of God in them. Proverbs 1:7 states a truth that is echoed in many places in Scripture: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”

    That’s a pretty difficult argument to make considering that atheists are, on average, more intelligent and better educated. According to polls, belief in God declines steadily with increased education, so that high school dropouts have the highest rates of belief, and the atheists greatly outnumber theists in the the National Academy of Sciences (only 7% believe in a personal God).

  4. Howdy, all!

    I’d like to respond to several of y’all’s comments in this one comment, if you don’t mind, but I will indicate the commenter to whom I am responding, so as to prevent confusion.

    jilsrun: Greetings, and thanks for your comment! For one, I sympathize with your spouse, and learning that God does describe a plan in the Bible for the ignorantly “unsaved,” as well (which is normally not understood by the vast majority of Christians out there) is one of the reasons I am in the Church I am. The God of the Bible is not the capricious, arbitrary God that many teach He is.

    As for judging beliefs, if they are wrong, they should be judged. If I believed that I could fly like Superman, I would hope someone would “judge” that belief and let me know where I was wrong before I decided to leap out of a tenth story window. I agree that we can disagree without being disagreeable (generally, at least), but we do not need to adopt an “everybody is sort of right and sort of wrong” approach. To quote someone else, God is either fact, like sand, or fiction, like Santa. And a statement about God or related to the things and way of God is either right or wrong. If two really, really, really nice people believe two contradictory things, then the fact is either one of them is wrong or possibly both of them are wrong. To pretend both can be “right-ish” or, to borrow a popular new adjective, that both have truthiness is to make a mockery of the term “truth,” and indicts God as quite a wishy-washy guy…

    I do believe the truth of the Bible can be proven (and not just by claiming that the Bible says it is true), just as I believe that atheism is a testable hypothesis. In this area, I actually agree with many atheists, although I come to opposite conclusions. (That doesn’t mean that I believe most “Christians” have proven the Bible true for themselves — frankly, I doubt that they have.) The Bible was written by men, indeed, but they were inspired by God. I’ve proven this for myself, and hopefully you will do so, yourself, one day.

    (As for your statement that you “claim no religion or belief system,” I would ask you to reconsider that statement and reflect a bit. After all, the statement that you made immediately after that one contradicts you; using the words “I feel” instead of “I believe” doesn’t change the fact that you were explaining part of your belief system! Your belief system also involves the idea that the beliefs of others should not be judged. It may sound like I’m being a stickler (perhaps because I am), but it’s a fact that all of us look at life through the lens of a belief system, and recognizing that fact is an important first step to a deeper understanding of many things.)

    Thanks for writing in!

    T: First, I have to say that I love “The A-Team,” and even to this day find myself quoting you and saying “I pity the fool…” Yay, 80’s television!

    As for Dalrymple’s “pretty arrogant and condescending” comment, I have to say that (1) I agree with you, and (2) sometimes condescension has a place, and (3) Dalrymple would have to go much, much further to match the level of arrogance and condescension on display in the books he is critiquing.

    As for your stats on the connection between education and belief in God, I see no need to question them, and I am happy to accept them for the sake of argument. However, much of that education has been rooted in a godless worldview that will naturally rub off on those who have been so educated. To say, “the more educated are more godless” too briefly summarizes the facts. Actually, “those educated in a godless system are more godless” is a more accurate statement, yet one that properly robs the idea of its intended impact. During the Middle Ages, would it have been proof of the virtues of Catholicism to claim that the best and brightest in Europe were Catholic? Nope.

    Proverbs 1:7 tells us something important: without the fear of God, these men are lacking a foundation that could help them take best advantage of their worldly knowledge, as well as help them better understand the data they come across and better explore the implications of it. Until they develop the fear of God (which God will see to in His own time), there will always be a piece of their foundation missing.

    I do not question their intellect. I lament that it is so wasted and misspent.

    Ms. Parsley: Thanks, I’m glad that you found it profitable!

    Everyone: Thanks to all of you for your comments. I appreciate your taking the time to write! And to those who simply left a link to another website, I prefer comments, not advertisements. The only advertisements I allow here are my own. 🙂

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

  5. T

    > Actually, “those educated in a godless system are more godless” is a more accurate statement, yet one that properly robs the idea of its intended impact.

    Education, believe it or not, does not teach atheism. In fact, I tend to find that the most intelligent students are the ones who question the theistic teachings of their upbringing and schooling (I was raised Christian, and went to a Christian school and university). The less intelligent someone is, the less likely they are to question the popular and pervasive belief in God – they simply absorb the belief without proper examination.

    > During the Middle Ages, would it have been proof of the virtues of Catholicism to claim that the best and brightest in Europe were Catholic? Nope.

    No, not when the majority were Catholics. The question is not “were the majority of the best and brightest Catholic?”, but rather, the question is: “how does the ratio of Catholics in the general population compare with the ratio of Catholics among the best and brightest.” I would bet that the best and brightest in the Middle Ages were also more likely to be unbelievers or have “heretical” ideas than the general population of the time.

  6. Howdy, again, T, and thanks for your comment.

    I think you’ve misunderstood me. I didn’t say that education teaches atheism. Having taught in a public school system, myself, I certainly did not teach atheism. It isn’t necessarily a matter of what is directly taught, it is the worldview from which it is taught that often makes the difference. At least in American education, the worldview in which education takes place is generally godless.

    You argue from perceived probabilities (e.g., “less likely”), but we’re talking about real truths, which are in no way beholden to majorities. There are a number of great thinkers out there (C. S. Lewis, to pick a common “poster child” example) whose intellectual examination of the facts at hand took them in the opposite direction, from atheism to belief. Are such individuals the norm? I doubt it — though I won’t pretend to know, and irrelevance of the answer leaves me without temptation to do so, anyway.

    Education cannot be divorced from worldview, and there are a number of attitudes one can find to be statistically more common amongst the more “educated” than amongst the less “educated” that are more a product of worldview than intelligence.

    Sadly, the more “educated” one is in this world, the more likely one is to have an irrationally inflated view of one’s own opinions and judgments — to question others’ views more critically than one questions his own. Ceteris paribus, this factor, alone, would contribute to a lower percentage of believers in God among the “educated,” as self-worship leaves less and less room in the mind for God as it grows and develops.

    In a better world in which education takes place in an accurate worldview, the positive correlation between education and atheism, assuming it exists, may vanish — sadly, we cannot know now, but we will know one day (Isaiah 11:9). That day can’t come soon enough.

    Questioning is good, and the Bible encourages it: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). One of my sons is constantly asking, for instance, “How do we know the Bible is true?”; “How do we know God is there?”; etc. I encourage my children to do so, and I think we all should encourage our children to have a thinking faith, not a blind one. Education — worldly or otherwise — may increase one’s willingness to question, but it is the worldview that will influence one’s bias in the evidence he is willing to consider, the assumptions he will apply, and the answers he is willing to accept.

    Thanks, again, T —
    Wallace Smith

  7. jilsrun

    It is clear to me that what ever I say, you are going to twist it around to fit your views rather then see the true message that I am presenting.

    I want to clarify one thing and that is that even though I said I claim no religion or belief system, I meant those that are known to mankind. Yes, I do have my own understanding and I would never push on anyone. The Christians are known for their relentless obsession with saving the world (I mean all denominations). Although I honor each person for their own spiritual path, I would never imply that I was right and they were wrong and I would hope they would give me the same consideration.

    You said you believed what was written in the bible could be proven but I don’t believe you can. I am sure you would be quick to suggest where I could find this proof if you could.

    As for you comment about “their could only be one truth,” this I agree with, but I do not feel that it’s known to this planet. What I do feel is that most all religions have this truth within them, but the satanic forces at large have bastardized them. I call this the candy apple syndrome. You have something that is nutritious and healthy, and it’s wrapped by something that is completely unhealthy. I KNOW that this is truth but I can no more prove it to you then you can your own understanding. Again, I see the light in all the religions and beliefs I have studies and I also see the dark side.

    As for judgment, NO ONE deserves to be judged unless they are breaking the laws of the lands (this is done by the legal system.) Especially regarding matters of personal views, lifestyles, religions and belief systems. Your comment is like comparing apples to oranges. Superman has nothing to do with religion. By the way, it was my understanding that the Christians believe only one being has the right to judge and I think you call him God. If you are concerned for people who you feel are worth judging, why you don’t bless them and regard them with love. This is what Jesus would do and that is what I am doing for you.

    What I am asking you to consider is this, could what I am saying be possible? I am not asking you to change your religion; people need to believe in what resonates with them. But be open to the idea that you may be wrong. Even though I am absolutely positive, what I know is truth; I am always open to something that is better. So far, for the last 13 years NOTHING has even come close to being the pure love and light that I currently know.

    Many blessings sent your way.

  8. Howdy, again, jilsrun, and thanks for writing again.

    Thanks, too, for giving me the chance to apologize. I certainly did not mean to twist what you said — I was just commenting on your statements as I read them. Some people really do believe that, somehow, they have no belief system, and from your comment I thought you, too, thought this. I see now that you meant that your personal belief system is unique to you and that it does not match anyone else’s. Thanks for explaining what you meant — I really appreciate it.

    However, I certainly have to take issue with your belief system, as it doesn’t make any sense to me. Love demands honesty, so please permit me to be honest with you about what your comment communicates. I am probably going to write more than you would expect, but I want to give you a response worthy of the big ideas you bring up, and I hope that you are honored by the amount of discussion to come as opposed to offended.

    You mention that you honor each person for their own spiritual path, yet I am sure that you would admit that there are “spiritual paths” that you would not honor and that you would say are wrong. For instance, you have said that my belief that the truth of the Bible’s provability is wrong. You have suggested that extreme judgment and condemnation is wrong, yet that is at the core of many people’s “spiritual paths”. Many ancient peoples practiced torturous human sacrifice as a part of their personal “spiritual paths.” Some SS officers practiced abominations beyond imagination on concentration camp prisoners out of allegiance to their own “spiritual path.” I doubt that you would “honor” these people for their spiritual paths, though perhaps you might do so out of commitment to your assumption of faith that no one’s beliefs should be pushed on others. I don’t know.

    If you would honor all such “spiritual paths,” then forgive me but your belief system should be rejected by any and all. But I suspect that you would not honor such people and that you would be ready to declare at least some of their understanding wrong. In other words, I want to give you the benefit of a doubt and assume that you merely spoke with stronger words than you mean here. In fact, your statement that you believe in a light side and a dark side in all religions (except, apparently, the one that is unique to you) shows that you do not honor all “spiritual paths,” which is a good thing!

    And as for “never push[ing]” your understanding “on anyone” — what qualifies as a push? Many would say that commenting on this website and trying to convince those who read this comment of the validity of your point of view would qualify as “pushing” your understanding. The website to which you linked when you posted certainly pushes an understanding. You may say, “Hey, I’m just putting it out there for people to read and decide!” I’m sorry, but that is “belief peddling” just as much as most of the “Christians” you so quickly deride. (By the way, I had to delete that link due to my obligation to obey God’s commands in scripture about such occult matters. If this seems inconsistent with my Comment Policy (link at right), please let me know and I will revise it. Thanks!)

    It is also a good thing that you believe that “there could only be one truth”! Hey — common ground! I greatly disagree that it is unknown to this planet, but since you already know that, please allow me to avoid elaboration so we can agree on at least one thing. 🙂

    As for judging no one “unless they are breaking the laws of the lands (this is done by the legal system)” — again, this doesn’t make any sense. Those who harbored Jews to protect them from the Nazis in WWII were breaking the laws of the land, and the legal system would have judged them worthy of punishment or death. This is OK? If you agree that this is OK, then, again, your belief system is to be ignored by the just, rational, and merciful among us. But if you do not think that this is OK, then perhaps you meant that only good legal systems should be the basis of judgment. Well, then how do we judge which ones are good? Is it only those legal systems that don’t punish anyone for choices of “personal views, lifestyles, religions, and belief systems”? Well, you seem to be making a judgment that is not based on the “law of the land” — what is your standard for this judgment? If it is just because you “know” that this is true — how do you know?

    By the way, you use a double standard. Did you notice? You attempt to correct my thinking (you cannot say your appeal that I should “be open” to what you are saying is anything other than an attempt to do so) and call it “regarding me with love,” yet I try to correct yours and it is “judging.” What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. I agree with you: If someone is erring in a way that is harmful to themselves or others, it is love to tell them so. The problem is that they may not agree. Does their lack of agreement make our actions “judgment” instead of “love”? Does the fact that I disagree with what you are telling me mean that instead of loving me you are judging me? No? The why does it mean I am judging you, or anyone else for that matter?

    Hopefully this will help you to see that you don’t seem to have as firm a grasp on what it means to judge or to love, and the two may be more related than you think.

    (I am glad that you mention Jesus as a possible model for how you should behave. Most people — even so-called “Christians” — do not take Him as their model. I strive to make Him my model, and you are right: He does regard with love. That is why He obeyed God’s commandments (John 15:10), preached the truth even though it offended (Matthew 15:12-14), commanded others to obey God’s commandments (Matthew 19:17-22), commanded people to stop disobeying the commandments and to stop sinning (John 8:11), and said that a person is a hypocrite if he calls Jesus his Lord but does not keep God’s law (Matthew 7:22-23), and judged others for putting human ideas over the clear commandments of the Bible (Mark 7:6-9). He practiced the love of God – exemplified by the law of God and keeping the commandments (1 John 2:5 & 5:2-3) – and taught us to practice it, too. In fact, we’re told that those who say that they know Jesus – that is, say they know who He is, what He stood for, what He believed and taught – but do not keep the commandments are lying, either knowingly or unknowingly.)

    You ask if I am open to “something that is better” and I can answer: absolutely. In fact, I was not born into the religion I now hold dear. I was in some other version of “Christianity” out there and was seeking after truth, myself. Thankfully, God opened my mind (John 6:44) and allowed me to see and prove the wonderful truth for myself, for which I will be eternally grateful. I am grateful for the truth about who God really is and what the purpose for my existence really is – a mind-blowing truth I’ve never heard from another source, “Christian” or otherwise. I am grateful that God has not left us without a thorough witness to the truth, like some capricious Maker, unconcerned with His creations or powerless to help them. I am thankful that He has a plan of salvation that is big enough to include all those who have lived and died without ever knowing the truth – that they, too, will have a chance to fulfill their purpose, as well. And I am thankful that He is too merciful a God to simply allow people to believe in whatever “resonates with them” – especially since we are generally too stupid and shortsighted a species to figure out for ourselves what is ultimately helpful and what is ultimately self-destructive (a lá, Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25), often thinking that we are wise when we are truly only foolish children. He is indeed merciful and loving, and I can think of no one or no thing more worthy of my worship.

    I hope you really are open to “something better” and that God may share that something better with you in the near future. And please forgive me for writing so much, but it has been a helpful meditation on this Sabbath evening, and I wanted to give the ideas expressed in your comment a thorough response. (OK, maybe it was too thorough! It’s late, and my writing is getting lazier by the minute. But thanks for putting up with it until the end!)

    Thanks again for writing, jilsrun –
    Wallace Smith

    (By the way, there really are ways to prove that the Bible is God’s word, and if you really are interested please feel free and write me directly (just use the comment feature on this blog to tell me you are interested; I will get it in my moderating page before it is published, and I can e-mail you). To get started on your own, though, you might want to order our free booklet The Bible: Fact or Fiction? which we really do give out for free, with no obligation. We don’t ask for money, and we don’t call people to press them about “visits” or what have you – we just freely make our materials available to all who ask (as Jesus commands us: Matthew 10:8) because we want the truth in the hands of as many people as possible.)

  9. Dear Mr. Smith,

    I’m glad you found this article as interesting and properly provocative as I thought you would.

    In the end, I think Leo Rosten was right: “Maybe an atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a policeman.” Here’s why I agree.

    There is a hard fact of life that many people, including many atheists, have a hard time seeing. You’ve touched upon this fact of life in your text and replies. That hard fact is: *there is no such thing as metaphysical neutrality*.

    Absolutely everyone, including the atheist, starts his reasoning process from axioms — articles of faith — things which cannot be “proved” by logical inference from evidence and which are held not to require “proof” by that means. The atheist can’t escape from this reality any more than the biblical theist or the false religionist can. For the atheist to claim that he doesn’t believe in anything is pure ignorance, if not self-deception. The atheist holds at least as many axioms as anyone else — more than most people, I suspect.

    But it is the atheist, not the biblical theist, who is required to hold his core axioms without any evidence at all. The existence of God has been called (by philosophers) one of those metaphysical questions that can always be answered “yes” but never “no”. The only way an atheist can conclude that God does not exist, without *explaining away* literally all the evidence there is about anything and everything, is to have all of God’s own attributes, including omniscience and omnipresence — which of course is a self-contradiction. (Even one of the countless *Star Trek* novels has played on this theme, using the infamous Q as a foil to a Creator God — or actually, a Goddess — unknown even to him.) But one can always put forward evidence in favor of God’s existence — and the more evidence one examines, the stronger one’s inference that God exists becomes (i.e., it becomes more and more probable).

    But logical inference is not the only tool that applies to this issue. Logical deduction — in which one can come to the right conclusions for the right reasons and do so absolutely — applies too. Here, I surmise, is what you mean by the “testability” of both atheism and biblical theism, and what our booklet means by being able to “prove” the Bible is true. “If the God of the Bible exists, then we should expect thus-and-such in the world” — usually something that atheism doesn’t predict at all, like the consistent working of God in history as predicted many centuries and sometimes millennia in advance. The examples of “thus-and-such” that biblical theism predicts but atheism does not are so many and so far-reaching that were atheism a scientific hypothesis (rather than a metaphysical worldview based solely on axioms), it would be rejected immediately as inadequate to explain the world. This is not to ignore the many problems that still exist in correlating the Bible and the natural and historical sciences — but the Bible has a way of having its predictions borne out (cf. Proverbs 30:5-6, RSV: “Every word of God proves true…”).

    And then of course there’s Occam’s Razor. What is the simplest and yet the most complete explanation of all the facts available? That is the goal toward which observation, experimentation and sound logic reach. Atheism fails miserably there, as much as false religion does, and for the same reason: because it rejects revelation from God. We are never going to have all the facts available to us as humans, and that’s why we need genuine revelation: to lead us to give what facts we have the closest possible shave with Occam’s Razor. It always does sooner or later.

    I think it is not God’s existence but God’s immanence and God’s attributes — especially what I call the seven principles of God’s government (justice, mercy, faith, authority, love, etc.) — that most atheistic arguments really challenge. Atheism (if it’s not simply driven by sheer rebellion against divine authority) looks at a patently unfair world and asks, “Where is the God of justice?” (cf. Malachi 2:17). It overlooks the revealed fact that God has allowed it to be patently unfair for a set period of time, and that during that period, the existence of both false religions and of unbelief in the world demonstrates the reliability of the Bible as almost nothing else could.

    Imagine that: atheists, by their very existence, confirm the existence of the God they deny and the Bible they abhor. Here as always, God works with human beings despite themselves, if necessary — something else we human beings find very hard to grasp.

    שלום
    יונן רכב

  10. qofe

    Hmmm… Okay, please answer the question: Why does god hate amputees?

    If you believe in the power of prayer and are so certain that there is a god, why doesn’t he/she/it ever answer the prayers of amputees and help them re-grow their limbs? Surely it is within this supposed god’s vast and wondrous powers. Or are you saying he/she/it cannot do such things, or that such prayers are never answered?

    Here’s the link again: http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com/god5.htm.

    I guess you merely delete comments from people who disagree with you. That’s how strong your belief is, you are threatened by a mere link to an opposing point of view.

  11. Selena Parsley

    I often wonder if atheist truly want evidence that God exist, because it seems like they are very quick to dismiss anything contrary to their humanistic ideas. They read and study all kinds of books written by mortal man, but they know for a fact that the bible is false…

  12. jilsrun

    Okay, where do I start? First of all, we all have our own thoughts and perspectives. Fortunately for me, I am an individual thinker and I didn’t allow my family or my friend’s spiritual paths to guide me into what they felt was truth. And by the way, I was baptized as a Baptist when I was a child and I have studied many beliefs.

    I don’t expect my truth and understanding to make sense because I haven’t explained it to you. If I felt you were an open minded person, I might be willing to share this, but based on your commitment to your truth and understanding, I feel that it would be a waste of my time and energy.

    Spiritual paths: The point I was making is that even though I am not in total agreement with the religions and most belief systems in the world, I respect people’s rights to believe what they want. If they wish to know my path, I will usually share it with them. I have no expectations of them making any shifts.
    If people wish to believe something that I personally feel is wrong then this is their right. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else believes. Only the individual. My only qualm with religions etc is when they start hurting people whether it is physically or mentally. Unfortunately there are beliefs out there that have and are committing abominations. I do not see these as spiritual paths. I see them as evil. A spiritual path to me means being in love and light. This is one of those dark sides I told you about earlier.

    My view of the human race is that we are inhumane. When I see and hear of the corruption that is a mainstay on this planet, I am appalled. It’s every where. The home, the job, the church, and of course in politics. Even towards our beloved planet earth. I am not implying that your church in anyway is corrupt. In fact I am sure, most Christian churches have good intensions.

    You misunderstand me again about pushing. I am not trying to change your religion or belief system. I have only ASKED you to be open to the possibility your belief isn’t the total truth. I haven’t even shared my understanding with you in great detail so why you would say that I am pushing my belief on you is a little mind boggling to me.

    Judging: I will agree with you about certain laws of the lands. When I made this statement, I was referring to the US. Here’s what I mean about judging. We are always judging. We judge the way things taste, how we look, etc. Judging comes natural in the day to day living. But when it comes to the condemnation type judging, then I feel this is wrong. But guess what, I send a blessing their way and hope that they see how hurtful this is not only to the person they have judged, but to themselves. If we are going to Judge, let’s do it lovingly. I have a Christian friend that loves the bible. Naturally, I respect her path and honor her. She was attending a church in our community that she stopped attending because of the extreme judgment towards homosexuals, drug and alcohol addicts, and anyone that wasn’t living according to the bible. These judgments are not loving. Is this clearer?

    One more thing, you have quoted from the bible. You need to understand that because of my own personal truth and understanding, I do not take these to heart. Your god and my god are two totally different beings. I don’t abide by your gods words. I see him as unloving and he uses love as a cover up. What parent would put their child in place and expect them to do everything right without any direct guidance? And if they didn’t do it right they would get punished. I do not buy into the teaching that Jesus is our savior. But What I will tell you is that I love Jesus with all my heart. He is my hero and when I think of him I smile. No one that I know of has ever seen or communicated with the God in the bible. So if he is our father, he has abondoned us.

    Blessings.

  13. Howdy, qofe —

    Yay! I’m glad that you apparently picked up that my earlier “Everyone” comment was prompted by your previous post of nothing but a link, which I happily deleted. As I mentioned, I am not interested in providing mindless advertising space.

    But before I get to your non-question, let me say three things:

    (1) If you actually took the time to read my blog, you would see that I do not delete comments from people who disagree with me. Quite the contrary, I take a great deal of time in my own comments responding to those who have written disagreeing with me (like this one). [BTW: If you wish to better present yourself as a person who makes decisions based on the facts, you should at least look at some. That you would come into my “house” and insult me with an assumption so easily contradicted by even a brief tour of my site doesn’t bode well for your ability to set ego aside and consider matters of truth and falsehood.] And:

    (2) The link to your blog has been deleted. If you plan to come here to my blog and accuse me without actually reading my blog, then I see no reason to advertise yours. Play nice next time, and I may be able to reconsider. 🙂

    (3) I also don’t like “rant-and-link” comments such as yours, but in this case I will make an exception, as I can hopefully use your comment as a springboard to do some good. You might read my comment policy if you have not. This isn’t a “discussion forum” and if you are looking for an avenue to make a series of such “rant-and-link” comments like your previous one, you might look elsewhere.

    Now, for the “normal” part of your comment:

    In answer to your non-question: He doesn’t.

    And to your correct your misunderstanding, I do not believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of God.

    God does not make “very specific statements about the power of prayer,” as is claimed in the website you provide. He makes very specific statements about His power.

    Perhaps you believe that all the necessary Bible verses concerning prayer were mentioned on that website, when in reality it hasn’t even come close. They’ve done some goal-oriented cherry-picking and have only stated those passages they need to pretend they’ve made their point (and have interpreted them in a particular way so as to bolster their case). Yet, there is, for example, 1 John 3:22 and James 4:3. There is 2 Cor. 12:8-10, as well. They trivialize a topic that the Bible treats with much depth. Then, after using their cherry-picked set of verses to formulate some unbiblical magic recipe, they then declare God non-existent because He doesn’t act like the weird “genie in a bottle” God they have invented.

    They skim the surface of the Pacific with their ladle and then complain about the ocean’s lack of depth.

    The matter of God’s existence is a serious topic and deserves better and more mature discussions than the one in the link you provide. (And, if you are actually searching for truth instead of justification, you deserve better, as well.) The topic is a silly version of a real issue: the Problem of Evil. It has been put forward by atheists who have apparently given it much more thought than they have, and has, frankly, been answered in numerous ways — including answers with which I strongly disagree, yet which display an understanding and intellect that seems far beyond that capable of the website’s authors.

    I’m not against asking why God doesn’t heal the world’s amputees. Quite the contrary: In and of itself, it’s a great question from which much can be learned — in fact, I might ask it of my children tomorrow. But the website’s authors aren’t really asking the question. Their conclusion is predetermined (as I grant you may claim that mine is) such that the question is never given a full treatment, making the question no more than a prop in their little show. In fact, theirs is so typical of a “straw-man” argument that it’s a wonder they can put it forward with any sense of intellectual honesty at all.

    (As for the rest of the site, all I can say is they have done a good job of creating a clearinghouse for a whole lot of atheistic arguments that, frankly, have already been soundly answered — some of which have actually been answered for millennia. I note that the site has been recommended by Dawkins and Harris, which is, of course, like a “Catholicism is Super Nifty” website’s being recommended by the Pope: a recommendation that says little that even the most casual observer does not already know.)

    If you really do want to know why God hasn’t healed the world’s amputees, I would love to answer that question for you. But I would have to know that you really do want an answer — that you are seeking the truth and not just an opportunity to attack it. And I would be happy to discuss it with you personally: feel free to use the comment feature of this blog to contact me and we can correspond.

    If you are already convinced of your belief in God’s non-existence, then I see no point is discussing it with you (and I certainly will not provide additional space on this site for “rant-and-link” comments; again, there are other sites out there that are more suitable for that). But if your mind has not been closed completely, and you actually believe in Dawkins’ assertion that we should “question everything,” then I encourage you to contact me.

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

  14. Howdy, once again, jilsrun —

    I will try to keep my response shorter this time. (If I fail, at least my intentions are good!)

    I, too, am not in the faith I was given as a child. We should prove what is true, not take it for granted. I’m glad that you seem to have attempted to do this, but I would encourage you to try again.

    If your understanding is represented by the website you keep linking to (the link to which I keep deleting), then you are right: explaining it to me would be a waste of your time and energy and mine. So we agree here!

    Thanks for the concession on judging, and for the effort to make your view clearer. I appreciate it. I also note that you said at one point: “I do not see them as spiritual paths. I see them as evil.” Well, I’m glad that you agree that you do, indeed, judge others. In fact, if that is not a clear cut example of what you call “condemnation type of judging,” I don’t know what is.

    If a man or woman is harming himself, is it not indirectly hurting him or her not to show the person a better way? How can standing by and saying nothing be loving that person? If you agree, then you are still trapped, because what you might believe is an “abomination” may merely be an attempt to prevent a loved one from committing self-harm from another’s perspective — an act that is simultaneously an “abomination” and an act of love according to your belief system. Your belief system doesn’t help anyone know when to intervene and when to keep their nose out, since “loving others” means different things to different people. That isn’t the path to a better world, its a path to a world very similar to the one we already have (and which I admit I am not fond of). Thankfully, God teaches us in the Scriptures what loving others truly means, and has not left us guessing based on personal judgments that vary from person to person.

    Similarly, isn’t allowing someone to live a lie to the ultimate harm of themselves and others an example of “hurting people… physically or mentally”? If so, then by your belief system, it is required of us to not only seek the truth for ourselves, but to share that truth with those who do not have it. To know the truth but not to passionately and persuasively share it (that is, to “push it”) — that violates both your belief system and mine.

    Also, to ask one to consider the possibility that their belief system is untrue cannot be completely severed from trying to change their belief system as you like to think it can. It is your belief that my religion isn’t the total truth, and you are pushing that belief on to me. And I don’t mind! Push away! But I will admit that your denial of your pushing is a bit mind boggling to me, as well.

    One more point of agreement between us… You ask: “What parent would put their child in place and expect them to do everything right without any direct guidance?” I agree — good thing He gives us direct guidance, and what a tragedy that His created children generally refuse it. You then state, “And if they didn’t do it right they would get punished.” Yes — it’s a good thing He offers such utter and complete forgiveness. I hope that when you meet the real Jesus, as opposed to the “other” Jesus you know (2 Cor. 11:4, 14), you come to love Him instead.

    Finally, concerning quoting or referring to the Bible… While you may not take the words of the Bible to heart, I am pressed by necessity to base my responses in them anyway, as I must root my comments in the truth (John 17:17). Someone dying of thirst (whether he or she knows it or not) may refuse clean water from me, but I will not offer them filthy water in its place.

    And you can no longer say that you know of no one who has communicated with the God in the Bible — you know me, and I talk to Him all the time!

    Thanks for the effort you have put into communicating here in the comments. I really do appreciate it, and I hope that you spiritually profit from it — if not now, then some time later when God places you in different circumstances.

    Warm regards,
    Wallace Smith

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