Here Come Those Pesky Atheist Evangelists Again

That atheism is really a religion has long been noted. They have their untouchable beliefs which dare not be questioned; they have their revered leaders who can say no wrong; they have their sacred texts which cannot be gainsaid; and they have their full-time evangelists spreading the good word.

Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et. al., are some of the leading missionaries for misotheism. They are on a holy crusade to convince the world of the rightness of their beliefs. The most recent example of this is in the UK where atheists are taking out ads on buses proclaiming their anti-God gospel.

This is how one press account puts it: “British atheists have raised a pile of cash to tell Londoners there’s probably no God and to get on with life. The nation’s first atheist advertising campaign has beaten its funding target in less than 24 hours, raising nearly nine times the amount it needed to posts its ads on public buses in London. Organisers hope to run more than 5000 ads in the city over a month, telling people: ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’. By last night, less than a day into fundraising efforts, pledges of more than £47,900 ($118,300) had rolled in, organisers told The Guardian newspaper.”

And uber-evangelist for atheism, Richard Dawkins has “agreed to match all donations up to a maximum of £5500 — the amount needed for advertisements on one set of buses.” The ads are expected to run in January.

Well, it’s a free country, and atheist missionaries are just as entitled as anyone else to preach their gospel. The funny thing is, according to the atheist, there is no God, there is no supernatural, there is no afterlife, and there is no soul. We are just a bunch of “selfish genes” as Dawkins is so fond of reminding us.

All of this raises the question, of course: why is it then that atheists need to evangelise for atheism? Why waste your breath? Surely evolution will eventually weed out all these false beliefs. Indeed, Dawkins has developed a convoluted scheme to account for religious beliefs, including his faith-based concept of memes.

Just as genes pass on physical traits, so memes pass on cultural traits. Memes are replicators of ideas and beliefs. Thus Dawkins informs us that there are God memes. There you have it: the reason why billions of people throughout human history have believed in God, the good professor assures us, is not because God exists, but because we have God memes. Simple. Why didn’t I think of that? (No wonder most people do not have enough faith to be an atheist.)

But one small problem. Not only is memetic theory just that – a theory, lacking in any empirical proof – but if it is true, then surely we must account for unbelief in exactly the same way. Atheism is not a true set of beliefs; people simply have atheist memes.

So if everything is determined by our genes and memes, that is just the way it is. Put your money back in your wallet, Richard. You are wasting your time (and ours). People will believe whatever their memes have determined they should believe.

Of course it is interesting to note that what we have in this evangelistic crusade is really atheism-lite. Notice the words: ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’. Probably? OK, so what we have here is not in fact hard-core atheism, but a form of agnosticism: we are just not sure of God’s existence. Of course Dawkins said as much in his missionary tract, The God Delusion.

That of course is a much more respectable – and humble – position to hold onto. Instead of arrogantly asserting that something does not exist which would be impossible to prove anyway, our atheist buddies are just telling us that God more than likely does not exist.

But consider the rest of their advertising jingo. We are to ‘stop worrying and enjoy life’. The implication seems to be that the possibility of God’s existence leads to worry and an unhappy life. Never mind that countless millions of individuals have been quite happy indeed with their theistic beliefs.

And never mind that it seems life is far more to be worried about if this life is all there is. Knowing that one day every wrong will be righted and every right will be recognised seems to make life far less stressful than to abide by the atheist creed: crap just happens, so get used to it.

But these must be dark days for our atheist friends. So worried are they about the souls – I mean, bodies – of believers, that they have to resort to bus ads to reach them with their gospel. The only problem is, this is one big case of false advertising.

And when the atheist zealots one day stand before their maker and judge, they will see that they wasted a lot more than their money on silly ads.

www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24536398-23109,00.html

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81 Replies to “Here Come Those Pesky Atheist Evangelists Again”

  1. This advertising campaign may actually do ‘theists’ a favour by providing opportunities for discussion. It would not be the first time Satan has over-reached himself.

    John Nelson

  2. I have to say I struggle greatly with this whole web-site. Almost everyone seems to agree with Bill, which to me seems singularly boring, and completely ineffective, unless this is simply a site to encourage those who choose a literalist and/or fundamentalist reading of the bible, as many of the writers appear to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them don’t believe in a 6 day creation!

    Surely Christians should be trying to engage thinking people in conversation, as Jesus and Paul, for instance, did. Or is our argument as Christians that weak that we are simply forced to say, “I believe it because it’s in the bible, and the bible tells me I must believe what’s in the bible”?

    That is surely such a sllly, circular argument. If that’s the best we can do, is it any wonder that the atheists and agnostics are laughing at our stupidity. Can’t we do any better than a circular argument that makes no sense?

    Please, give me something I can be proud of, as a Christian!

    Regards
    James Paulson

  3. It’s always amusing when atheists say their belief system isn’t a religion because it lacks rituals etc. As soon as one suggests atheism is a religion, atheists perform the ritual of denying they have rituals.
    Michael Watts

  4. Thanks James

    But of course if this site grieves you so, then the simple solution would be to not keep returning to it. There is no gun aimed at the back of your head in this regard.

    And if, as you suggest, I only let supporters come on board here then why have I allowed your quite negative and derogatory comment to appear, along with those of countless other critics?

    You seem to detest my “stupidity,” accusing me of circular arguments and appealing to the Bible. Where exactly in this article do I do either James? And with over 900 articles and 7000 comments, I have offered plenty of argumentation on this and a whole range of issues. If what I am doing here is so counterproductive in your view, I would be interested to know just what exactly you are doing to reach out to atheists and others. Or is this just another case of a person trying to build himself up by tearing another person down?

    And you certainly have me confused here, calling yourself a Christian, while obviously holding to a very low view of Scripture and its authority. If the Bible just does not cut it in your eyes James, please inform us as to what authority you do appeal to.

    And is your idea of being a “proud Christian” simply to attack other believers in public, and rubbish their efforts for the kingdom? I again ask, just what are you doing for the kingdom in this area?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Thanks Bill
    Firstly, I don’t think I accused you of stupidity specifically, using the word ‘our’ to indicate that all Christians are lumped together by thinking people who watch us, when we use silly and illogical arguments.

    Secondly, you talk me having a low view of ‘scripture’? I don’t think so! I actually have a very high view of the bible. I read it as, at times, good literature. There is far more in the bible than is often seen by people who are trying to use it as a textbook. There is wisdom and poetry, and some historical value, etc, but to treat the whole collection of literature as if it was simply meant to be used as a spiritual textbook as many people do, is surely the low view.

    Thirdly, you ask about accusing you of circular arguments and appealing to the Bible. You ask “Where exactly in this article do I do either James?” Well again, I didn’t accuse you of that, referring just to this article. I specifically talked about the site as a whole. And I referred not only to your writing, but to the writing of those who so often agree with you. But let me give you an example of your writing, which is often quite authoritative, but is also quite fallible. (Which is of course true of us all, but not all are aware of their fallibility).

    You have a paragraph entitled “The importance of the Word”. (https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/02/on-the-reading-of-scripture-or-the-lack-thereof/) Unfortunately, you seem to me be confused about the difference between the ‘scriptures’ that 2 Tim 3:16 refers to, for instance (obviously not the new testament as there was no such body of literature at that time) and the ‘Word’. Now, I suspect that it would be very dangerous to assume that the scriptures are all the ‘word of God’, or the ‘word’ of Christ for that matter.

    And you repeatedly talk about what the bible says, or scripture says, talking about the bible, ‘the word’ and ‘holy scripture’ apparently quite interchangeably. The passage I referred to above makes it quite clear things are not that simple.

    Your writing and argument regularly leaves the casual reader with the proposition that the bible is some kind of final authority on most matters. But just because something is written does not make it true. Why do you believe the bible is true and inerrant in a factual kind of way? What makes you believe that? I suggest that the answer to this question is actually your authority, not a collection of literary works!

    Regards
    James Paulson

  6. “Not only is memetic theory just that – a theory”

    Bill, you have been corrected on this usage of the scientific term theory before, it seems rather strange that you continue to dismiss something as ‘just a theory’. Now one can definitely debate whether memetics actually *is* a scientific theory, but that doesn’t alter my point.

    Secondly you appear to have at best a ‘primary school’ grasp of what memetics proports to be, and if you are going to argue against it, it would seem you need to do a lot more research.

    Please note, I am in no way supporting of defending memetics here, I am merely saying one needs to understand what its proponents are *actually* saying before one tries to knock them down.

    Chris Mayer

  7. Sorry Bill, but I find myself largely agreeing with James. This article seems to rely heavily on rhetoric and is unlikely to engage atheists in a constructive way. How can they be expected to sit up and take notice when they are accused of being ‘evangelist missionaries’ on a ‘holy crusade’ spreading their ‘gospel’ via their ‘holy texts’? Calling atheism a religion is another certain way to lose their attention. The atheists I’ve had discussions with find this to be a red-herring, and they’re right. A respectful open dialogue achieves so much more than the tactics utilised in your article, and while it’s no guarantee they’ll embrace God I find that atheists come away with a better understanding of the Christian faith, which can only be a good thing.

    Thanks for letting me have my say.

    Heather Bates

  8. Bill,

    “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”.- Euripides .

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”- Aristotle.

    Now surely the above two quotations are an invitation to engage in conversation (discussion)?

    John FG McMahon, Kolonga, Qld

  9. Thanks Heather

    If this were the only article I had ever written on atheism, then your comment would have some merit. But with at least fifty other articles on this topic, involving lengthy argumentation and debate, I think your concerns are less weighty. Indeed, I have engaged in countless discussions on this site with atheists, secularists, humanists and the like. I am always happy to offer honest answers to honest questions.

    This piece was obviously more light-hearted in nature, seeking to highlight the fact the foolish ideas can be treated as such. Thus I do not apologise for occasionally using such means to make a point.

    Scripture itself often uses such rhetorical devices, and allows bad ideas to be parodied or mocked. Elijah for example could ridicule and mock the false Baal worshippers in 1 Kings 18. He could taunt the false prophets by mercilessly teasing them: “Where are your gods? Maybe they are asleep or out taking a leak” (v. 27)

    While we can respectfully engage with those with whom we disagree, even Scripture offers plenty of examples of God’s prophets pouring scorn and ridicule on lousy ideas and false gods, as in Isaiah’s rebuke of idolatry and the like.

    In the light of Psalm 14:1, we need to be aware that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas will do great harm. Atheism is one such rather bad idea.

    And I think it a bit odd that as a believer you find the need to defend atheism. For example, there are plenty of atheists and secular humanists who have admitted to the religious nature of their beliefs. So if they are making these claims, why are you seeking to deny them?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Thanks Chris

    As I have said elsewhere, memetics is a philosophical construct, not an empirical finding. And as a philosophical theory, I find it to be so much baloney. Evan atheists such a philosopher David Stove could attack mercilessly this bizarre, faith-based notion.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. Thanks James

    But your last paragraph says it all. Indeed, it exactly makes my point: you have a very low view of Scripture.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. It is plainly evident that some focus has indeed been given to Bill’s website of late.

    By all means Bill continue with the struggle and with a Christian manner, as you have previously employed, and disregard the attacks that have been launched your way.

    I will not always agree with your opinions/beliefs but when I disagree I shall do so with respect, honesty and in the mutual search for Christ in our lives.
    John FG McMahon, Kolonga, Qld

  13. Bill, if we choose to use scorn and ridicule to mock those who we seek to bring to Christ (even if we can cite examples of this in scripture), then we cannot complain when similar tactics are used against us. My point is, we don’t find such approaches convincing when we are on the receiving end, so let’s not expect it to be effective when we use it.

    I’m not defending atheism, I’m urging a better approach to discussing these matters with those who disagree with us. If we are to make any progress in bringing atheists to Christ then we must clearly understand their position and not misrepresent them. Accusing them of being ‘religious’ seems to achieve little (it doesn’t make any sense), and of all the atheists I’ve encountered I’ve never had one ‘admit to the religious nature of their beliefs’. Insisting that they are religious serves only to turn them away and suggests that we are not arguing in good faith.

    Heather Bates

  14. Thanks Heather

    I have argued elsewhere – with documentation – that everyone is religious and everyone has a worldview. As one commentator noted, “Atheists are not godless men; they are men addicted to false gods”. And your apparent ignorance of the hundreds of quotes from secularists and atheists highlighting the religious nature of their worldview does not alter the fact. Even the US Supreme Court stated that secular humanism is a religion.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. The UK atheists are wasting their money. Isn’t the nation almost entirely secular now anyway? Or are their advertisments aimed at converting the growing Muslim population?

    Ewan McDonald.

  16. The other point why as Christians we need to be constantly reminding atheists and anyone else who will listen that atheism is indeed just another religion, is because to allow the myth of secular (non-religious) ‘rational’ atheism to persist, is to allow the atheist to keep Christianity out of politics on the grounds that it is a religion and religion should be kept out of politics.

    Ewan McDonald.

  17. I would have to say I am in total agreement with Bill on this one. Though this article may seem to be ‘poking fun’ of atheists and as a result probably spark up some nasty flaring up against Bill personally, he does bring up a valid point. Atheism is a religion and Dawkins and his crew in England don’t seem to want to hide it by what they say or by their actions. They are as devoted to their religion if not more than many other religions that are out there.

    I just finished watching the John Lennox vs Richard Dawkins debate (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=988134574542478162) and came away quite shocked at the poor grounds for making a point that Dawkins used in this debate. (I’ll keep any further personal comment on Dawkins directly to myself). The biggest thing that stood out overall in his argument for atheism was based on these unproven ideas and even concepts(like foambath’s of multiple universes) that have very little scientific grounds behind them as reasons why you would follow (put your faith in) atheism. I mean, if I was faced with the choice to either believe in God creating this world( as we know it or in a bunch of ‘airy fairy’ ideas trying to find some sense to our existence, I would say that there is one more probable choice in my point of view. BOTH require a choice to believe in something that cannot be verified for certain. Would you not choose the one that makes the most logical sense?

    Oh but wait… that’s right we all do view the same facts differently depending on our preconceived ideas (worldview).

    The point I’m trying to make is that atheists can claim all they want that they are basing their beliefs on the most evidence and that they are not religious. But I propose that they are more often the ones with the blind faith and it is not so often the Christians that are walking in blind faith as they are normally accused (I am not negating though that some do walk blindly which I don’t agree with).

    Good one Bill. Hope that the bus signs get people thinking about what is actually going on here.

    Cheers.

    Oliver Ins, BC, Canada

  18. Thanks Oliver

    Yes I too have seen that debate and I also was struck by the amount of religious commitment Dawkins demonstrated. Time and again he pushed speculative theories which he seemed to hold as an item of faith, not as something mandated by the evidence. Indeed, he said as much in an interview a few years ago: “Natural selection – well, I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part since the theory is so coherent, and so powerful.”

    And in one of his more candid moments he confessed: “Even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory . . . we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.” So much for sticking to the evidence. These guys have their minds already made up, and no amount of counter-evidence will move them from their stubbornly held faith.

    As atheist George Klein admitted, “I am not an agnostic. I am an atheist. My attitude is not based on science, but rather on faith … The absence of a Creator, the non-existence of God is my childhood faith, my adult belief, unshakable and holy.”

    And Ewan is right on both counts: the UK is so spiritually dead right now that the atheist campaign seems rather redundant. And they know that to get a foothold in the public schools, they had to drop all the talk of their worldview being a religion. Thus they now have free run in our schools while Christians have been hounded out.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  19. The strength and passion of a disbelief in anything must surely be in proportion to the possibility the thing being disbelieved actually exists. I cannot summon up much passion about refuting the existence of little green men from Mars simply because which ever way one views the evidence, it is extremely unlikely that they exist, or anyone else believes in their existence either.

    Why does Dawkins go to all this expense to prove something that according to him patently does not exist?

    http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/10/get-off-the-bus.html#more

    Why is he himself so anxious about telling us not to be anxious about putting all our faith into the cares of this world where “moth and rust” patently destroy, and where “thieves patently break in and steal“? What solution does he offer to those who have put their faith into the things of this world and who have lost everything?

    Dawkins is anxious all right, simply because he knows deep down that Someone with infinitely more power and authority has a call on his life. And this fill him with rage and fear.

    David Skinner, UK

  20. One thing I would also say to Heather is that I don’t think that any such ‘rules’ about how-to-act-towards-atheists are going to be useful.  Every situation is different and anyone who’s been a Christian for any amount of time recognizes that just because God acts a certain way in one situation does not automatically mean He will do the same thing in another.  To demonstrate, read the testimony of a former atheist and his conversion experience, then go and do your best using the same dialogue as a ‘template’ with an avowed atheist.  Very likely, it will not work.  Christians need to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in every situation and one may require good argumentation, one may require scorn and yes – even sarcasm – one may simply require shutting up and just loving that person.  (etc. etc.)  All according to our own talents and limitations as well.  It’s clear that all exist as examples within Scripture.  The only ‘formula’ is to try to listen to what God would have us do in a particular situation.  Sure, atheists need conversion, but so too Christians need to grow in step with their Saviour and Lord, and ability to hear His voice.  If we think we own a surefire methodology by our own strength, God is sure to remind us of what we should really be relying on.  I know this much, God isn’t generally impressed by us taking the ‘safe’ option.  And worrying too much about what others think can be a trap for this.

    You must also take into account that by and large, atheists are unaware they are blind.  I’m astounded so often at the capacity of people to be able to follow certain logic and/or reasoning and agree with it, and then it all gets forgotten – if with particular evidence the very same logic even begins to support Christianity.  The historicity of the Bible – especially the Gospels – is a great example of this.  The blindness is spiritual and it is profound.  Mere reason alone will not penetrate, even when the evidence is overwhelming.  The existence of Plato or Julius Caeser is unquestioned by historians but yet some atheists will claim Jesus never existed at all or we cannot rely on what was written about Him.  Or that Christianity is superstition.

    AUTHOR When Written Earliest Copy Time Span # of Copies
    Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,000 yrs. 10
    Plato(Tetralogies)
     427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,200 yrs. 7

    Gospel 55-95 A.D. 130 A.D. 35-70 yrs 24,000 (over 5,200 in Greek)

    Is any of that even vaguely reasonable?  Or evidence of the state of their heart and their inconsistent approach to this investigation?  I think mockery of the bus ads is fair enough.  And prayer in each and every situation to ask God what He would have us do, is really, really important.

    Mark Rabich

  21. Hi Mark,

    I don’t propose any hard set of rules for engaging with those who do not share our point of view. All I’ve pointed out is that being respectful, and not putting words into the mouths of others has been, in my experience, more productive. A bit of sarcasm can be warranted on occasion, and it’s not that which troubles me. What does trouble me is rhetorical talking points like ‘atheism is a religion’. When we attribute to people beliefs and opinions that they do not hold it makes productive discussion difficult. This of course works both ways – I get frustrated when atheists assume that because I have accepted Christ as may saviour that I, by default, believe the earth to be just a few thousand years old, or that I am an advocate of creation “science” in schools. As soon as such misconceptions are cleared up the discussion can move forward. We ask atheists to accept that we believe what we say we believe, and not some caricature of it. We should do likewise. Telling atheists “You’re religious, even if you don’t realise it” is sure to quickly steer the conversation into a dead end.

    Heather Bates

  22. While I don’t agree with the idea ‘an eye for an eye’ in most situations, one has to wonder why it is O.K. for athiests to slam Christians, call us stupid, ridicule our beliefs and so on, and as soon as one man stands against an idea and is laughingly curious as to what logic it stands on, he gets ridiculed by those of the same faith.

    It astounds me that even though we are called the Body of Christ, we act against one another. Instead of trying to gain understanding from someone, we (including myself) take on a sense of self-righteous pride and jump at one another calling out their flaws and errors before we attempt understanding. We push to have our own views seen without asking more questions to gain a deeper insight and to avoid false accusation.

    Lets face it, the internet is not the easiest way to get a point across. Everyone reads this article and takes it a different way, which are all probably different from the way Bill intended it.

    Bill is not perfect, and he would admit that, but he is not out to personally injure people. So take that into account when you read his articles, and before you comment in an accusing way, ask questions. Try to gain understanding of what he means by something, and then form your opinion.

    In regards to the article, I believe it annoys people because it’s pointng out a truth that doesn’t want to be heard, athiests have a religion. And as I’m learning, speaking truth in today’s world is a radical thing. People do not want to be confronted with it and they definitely don’t want truth exposed to others.

    I thought this article was well presented and believe that it gets across a very simple point, God makes sense. If you take the time and put in the effort to seek out God and who He is, you will find He is the most logical answer and nothing else compares. That is why it is hard, sometimes, not to laugh at silly ideas such as atheism. Because it doesn’t make sense.

    I would ask that anyone searching for God to do just that, and not to search for religion. Don’t search for the perfect church, or the perfect Christian, you won’t find one. Religion fails us, God doesn’t.

    I would also encourage us to start acting like the Body of Christ, emphasis on BODY. We are to be fighting together, not against one another. I realize this sounds a little wishy-washy but it is truth. We are to be one in the Lord, and by fighting one another we miss out on fighting against the evil in this world. Satan pits us against each other and by that he wins, because he has us so wrapped up in tearing one another down that he can get away with giving someone an idea like a billboard that says “God probably doesn’t exist.”

    Recognize the battle guys, pick yours wisely and fight it well.

    Michelle Guillemaud

  23. I was just thinking as reading these comments and seeing people swiftly come to the aid of the atheistic attempt to evangelize London, what kind of world do we want to live in.

    As a young Christian raised in America, where the church has become more and more comfortable and even pro-active in its social un-activity, I wonder what kind of world do we really want to live in.

    As I see atheists shelling out more cash then my parents make in a few years to place billboards on the sides of buses, while Christians worldwide hide in their suburbs and question the validity of God’s world, I wonder, what kind of world do we really want to live in.

    Why do I wonder? Because whether we know it or not there are huge implications in allowing the atheistic worldview to be soaked into our culture.

    When I think of the outcomes, I think of communism, I think of Marxism, I think of living in a world where there is really no hope. Living in a world where the sanctity of life was just a term that was discussed in some popular books years ago… “I think it was called the bible.”

    Where chaos reigns supreme and the human intellect really sees firsthand the results of doing it on our own. Where there is no use for the arts, no use for literature and worse of all, no love. Just a random set of chemical reactions which makes my brain say “She is beautiful.”

    Why do I think of this kind of world? Well because friends, that is the kind of world we will be seeing if we allow the atheist lies of there being no God continue.

    The fact of the matter is, there is a God. A God who loves us, who has plans for us and who wants to know us intimately. A God who created the heavens and the earth. And we must fight for him not because we deserve it but because he is worthy to receive the rewards of his suffering.

    Thank you Bill for all that you do. God Bless

    Ben Soleim

  24. Perhaps 1Peter 3 :15ff should have the last word on this which is: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

    Certainly Richard Dawkins, who incidentally has seemingly had an Anthony Flew moment http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/2543431/is-richard-dawkins-still-evolving.thtml , for my money at least, came out more sympathetically than Ted Haggard who was neither gentle or good in his behaviour http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VhcScBdnEhY

    Not only that I agree whole heartedly with John Nelson; attacks on our faith are meant to enable us to really know what and why we believe what we do believe. Initially we may be dismayed by the objections and even ridicule that people make but, hey, we need to grow up and welcome the invitation it affords us for opening our mouths.

    David Skinner, UK

  25. Well done to Heather Bates for calling a spade a spade here.

    People on this site regularly put up Atheist straw men to fight down, just as many non believers put up Christian straw men to fight down. Heather’s point about all Christians being young earth creationists is an example of the latter.

    What frustrates me most about this site is I never see Bill, or any his supporters concede any ground, on *any* point. Whether they are arguing with fellow Christians, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists; it doesn’t matter, Bill seems to know all and nobody can possibly given him any new knowledge.

    Chris Mayer

  26. Thanks Chris

    I of course assume you have not read all 925 of my posts here, or my many thousands of comments on this site. Thus you may be excused for getting a few things wrong, again. On many occasions I have mentioned that I do not have a clear position on certain subjects, or that I am still formulating my opinions on various issues, etc. Only a fool has his mind made up on everything (although it is interesting how many atheists I talk to who nicely seem to fit in that very category).

    And I have said on numerous occasions that I have not always shared the beliefs I now hold to. In my earlier days I was – or was very close to being – an atheist, a Marxist and a Darwinist. But after examining the evidence, I had to follow it where it led. Thus I have left those former positions. The sad thing is how many atheists seem to have determined ahead of time what is even permissible as evidence, and thus have closed themselves off to whole realms of reality, because their reductionist worldview will not allow anything to the contrary to even be considered.

    What we need are more honest atheists like Antony Flew who was willing to courageously change his fundamental beliefs if that is what the evidence demanded. But most unbelievers I know have an a priori commitment to their naturalism, and refuse to even consider that they might be mistaken.

    And if you are really concerned about unyielding dogmatism and closed minds, I would think you would be posting comments like the one you have sent me to the websites of Dawkins and Co.

    And BTW, I find it interesting that here and elsewhere atheists applaud the remarks of people like Heather. That speaks volumes in itself.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  27. Responding to the original article:

    I am a law student studying in Melbourne, and I would have to agree that the statement that atheism is a religion is quite true at times.

    There are people who, despite studying the rational logic of law, are content to accept the nonexistence of God without knowing anything about evolution. Some of my friends also have turned to atheism because they feel it provides a solid answer as to why no supernatural power intervened to protect them from hurt and brokenness in the past.

    Belief without substantive knowledge as to whether a theory has been conclusively proven, and looking to a theory in the hopes that it will alleviate the pain of wondering why God didn’t help them? Sounds like a religion to me.

    Re: comments — though I don’t think that the latter group of people I mentioned above would benefit from this article because their belief stems more from past pain than conscious acceptance, I think it still is useful for people who have simply unconsciously adopted an unaccepting attitude towards Christianity. Many people are simply unaware that there are arguments against atheism because there is such a huge lack of dialogue on spirituality in the West.

    Natasha Sim

  28. Heather, based on your posts, I’m assuming you think there’s a level of credibility with the challenge of atheists having a go at belief in the creation story. I don’t share that view!

    Not that it’s any formal qualification of itself, but might be worth telling you I’m the son of a scientist (not a Christian) and also had an older sibling who was (and still is) an atheist. I had many discussions when I was growing up – most of which didn’t go so well for me – but once I got beyond my late teens/early twenties, they did not find me so easy to overrun with their arguments. By then I had learned a bit and I had done a little reading! This, btw, was balanced with the fact that my childhood also included dabbling into hobby electronics and computers and I generally chose science subjects at school. I had opportunity to have my emergent (evolving? now there’s two words that are amusing to juxtapose! I digress…) views on origins challenged quite often, even though I didn’t really fully commit as a Christian until I was 18.

    So when the evidence to support millions of years of onward and upward is extremely patchy at best (that’s being very kind), and life from non-life big fat donut – even from a guided experimental perspective – I’m pretty comfortable with the literal Genesis translation. Movies and docos which assume evolution is true don’t impress me much as science fact, more like that other genre. Even if the computer based animation gets the motion completely believable and the lighting just right, they’re still effectively no different than Daleks or Yoda. (Evolution? Yes? What you think good it is, young Jedi, hmm? …getting off track here…) Therefore, getting derided by atheists about that is generally water off a duck’s back to me, and I would urge you to, especially as a Christian, reconsider your view here because, as has been discussed on other posts, it is not inconsequential to other important matters. Jesus most definitely believed that Adam & Eve were the first humans, and an integral part of his mission was fulfilling a prophecy from Genesis 3 after the fall. If the story isn’t true then what’s left of Christianity instantly becomes very messy indeed, to put it mildly. There are countless subjects that could be discussed here on the negative ramifications.

    What if I’m wrong? Well, I doubt it will matter as much compared with if those who believe evolution are wrong. I’m not really that hung up about it – it’s ancient history after all so nothing I do will change what actually happened – but I’ll believe Jesus until Dr Who materializes in his TARDIS in front of me and takes me back in time. (So long as it’s not Colin Baker. I digress yet again…) LOL! I think that’s pretty reasonable! 😉 But it’s obvious atheism has more to lose from evolution losing credibility, which is why they defend it so much like, ironically, the fundamentalists they often claim to despise!

    Atheists have to face up to their worldview being religious because it makes an absolute pronouncement about something that cannot be – for any of us, strictly speaking – proven one way or the other. That is the very definition of faith, whether they like it or not. It is not “putting words into the mouths of others”, it is actually a reasonable conclusion after examining their beliefs.

    And especially being a manmade construct, yes, atheism is a religion.

    Mark Rabich

  29. I view myself as a Christian with a high view of scripture. And I believe that the way you and many of your readers view the scriptures is not just wrong – it is dangerous.

    So I remind you of my question again. You referred to the last paragraph in my last post. You have also referred to the way in which many atheists simply decide on a particular tack (according to you) and then refuse to look at other theories. (“The sad thing is how many atheists seem to have determined ahead of time what is even permissible as evidence, and thus have closed themselves off to whole realms of reality, because their reductionist worldview will not allow anything to the contrary to even be considered.”)

    Yet it seems, as I mentioned, that you do exactly the same. You seem to have chosen this literalist interpretation of scripture, where if it is in the bible, it must be true, because the bible is inerrant. So again I ask, why do you believe this? And what makes your position different from that of an atheist who won’t look at all the facts responsibly?

    James Paulson

  30. Thanks Mark

    Yes quite right. Atheists have long yearned for something a bit more substantial than their own faith commitment, and Darwin certainly seemed to do the trick. With Darwin it seemed science could back up unbelief. Of course real science cannot deal with the question of God’s existence or nonexistence. Still, it seemed like something the atheist could hang on to. Thus Dawkins could remark, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

    Evolution became a good excuse for the atheist’s chosen faith commitment. But not all atheists will claim that it is science that makes them unbelievers. Sometimes atheists can be somewhat candid about the real reasons for their rejection of God. Thus unbelief can have nothing to do with evidence, but everything to do with not wanting God to exist – for whatever reason. Consider this revealing remark from Aldous Huxley, made in the 1966 article, “Confessions of a professed atheist”:

    ”I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. . . . For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotical revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.”

    I appreciate such candid remarks. Other atheists have made similar confessions. Thomas Nagel could talk about his “fear of religion itself”: “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning and design as fundamental features of the world.”

    Thank you Thomas for that honest admission: “I don’t want there to be a God”. The truth is, every person on this planet has a god they dedicate themselves to. If it is not the one true God of the universe, it is simply a god of their own making and choosing. More often than not, that god turns out to be self. The atheist simply refuses to admit that he is not the centre of the universe, and that there might be something more ultimate and important than himself – indeed someone whom he must in fact bow down to.

    Of course the Bible makes all this quite clear. It does not skirt around the real reasons for atheism. Atheism is ultimately a moral and spiritual issue, not an intellectual one. Jesus made this crystal clear in John 3:19-21. Thus, why it is that some Christians think the biblical stance on atheism is not up to scratch is quite puzzling indeed. They seem to think they can improve on God’s own estimation of unbelief.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  31. Thanks James

    But all that you have told us thus far does not at all indicate a high view of Scripture, but just the opposite. So we need to step back for a moment. If you claim to be a Christian, then you should have a basic understanding of orthodox Christian teaching on the nature and authority of Scripture. If you do not, can I humbly suggest you stop all this commenting and start learning about what you believe, or should believe?

    If you are not asking a rhetorical question here, I am happy to suggest a few titles or websites. There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel, and I usually don’t write articles on demand just to please someone’s scepticism. The case for Scripture of course cannot be made in a mere paragraph or two anyhow. So if you honestly want to know the historic Christian teaching on Scripture, just let me know, and I will happily point you in the right direction.

    However, if in fact you do know the case, but have decided nonetheless to reject it, then that is a different matter altogether. Then it seems you are simply aligning yourself with Enlightenment rationalism, and promoting fallen human reason over God’s self-disclosure and revelation. That is a quite a different issue, and must be debated on other grounds.

    So I leave the ball in your court.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  32. “Your writing and argument regularly leaves the casual reader with the proposition that the bible is some kind of final authority on most matters. But just because something is written does not make it true. Why do you believe the bible is true and inerrant in a factual kind of way? What makes you believe that? I suggest that the answer to this question is actually your authority, not a collection of literary works!”

    Hmm, if there is such thing as a God, and the Bible is His word, then why should it not be the final authority? Should the word of man be the final authority?

    Tony Trinh

  33. Thanks Mark,

    That you describe the evidence for evolution as ‘patchy at best’ suggests to me you have not made serious enquiries into its validity. I too doubted evolution believing it was irreconcilable with being a Christian, and I eagerly digested creation ‘science’ literature and talking points ready to use against atheists when questions of science and origins would arise. But then something happened that I did not expect. In a long discussion with a defender of evolution I eventually made reference to atheism and was startled to learn that my opponent wasn’t an atheist, but a committed Christian just like myself. This forced me to look at the evidence with a more open mind and as I did so I was struck by how powerful the theory is and how much it explains. At the same time, I was saddened as I came to realise that the tactics of creationists are often misleading and dishonest. It was a difficult time for me. As the strength of the theory of evolution became more and more apparent to me I feared my faith would suffer, but then I looked to those Christians who put me on the right path and noticed their faith had not waned in the slightest. I realised that the findings of science are perfectly compatible with my faith in Christ.

    I notice that you make an appeal to consequences where you suggest that if evolution is true then there are ‘negative ramifications’ but this is a logical fallacy. Even if a convincing case could be made that evolution’s truth would lead necessarily to negative outcomes (and I don’t think such a case can be made), that in itself would not disprove the theory. The theory stands or falls on the evidence, and the evidence is overwhelming.

    It is also a mistake to cite our incomplete understanding of the origin of life as a score against evolution. I’m not sure why one would take comfort in human ignorance.

    Heather Bates

  34. No wonder Heather Bates was quick to jump to the defense of atheists and lecture Bill and others on the ‘correct’ method to dialogue with them. She has so much in common with them even to the extent of adopting their worldview with regard to evolution and even joining with them in ridiculing Bible believing creationists. This tactic of thinking like an atheist in order to reach the atheist is so ingenious I don’t know why I didn’t see the merit in it before? And here I was thinking it was just more compromise.

    Ewan McDonald.

  35. Scientific theory > God’s Word? Did i miss something?

    If i don’t believe what God did at the start then why should i believe what he did in the middle or at the end for that matter?

    He is either all right, or wrong. People can be wrong, God can’t if he is God =0

    Now i’m just stating the obvious, but i don’t see how you can believe in the Evolution theory (inc big bang) and the Bible.

    Tony Trinh

  36. This Heather Bates is certainly accusatory against those Christians who have the same view of the Bible as Christ had: “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35); that God made a man and a woman at the “beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6), and that God judged the world by a flood from which Noah was rescued by a giant ship (Luke 17:26–27). Conversely, she can’t see any faults with atheists, so she must dispute the biblical teaching, “the fool says in his heart: there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

    There have been people on this site who pretend to be someone they are not, and pretend to be Christian and attack every doctrine of the faith.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  37. I am a somewhat appalled by your viewpoint (and similarly by some of your commentors) that Atheism is a religion. I’m a atheism and would like to have the right to say I am not religious – is that so much to ask? (you may ask why i read your blog – being an atheism does not mean I am not interested in reading about religion).

    The other annoying point is that many religious people seem to think that all atheists prescribe to the Richard Dawkins way of thinking like it is some religion. Personally, I disagree with Dawkins on some many things. I also think he is quite arrogant.

    My home (England) is a secular democracy. This means that we as individuals live in a multifaith society and have the right to believe what we want without criticism. We are passing laws to ensure that such is maintained.

    My ideal world would be that people were allowed to believe what they want (religion or atheism) without critism from the likes of Richard Dawkins or people like yourself. It would be so much nicer if people just learnt to live together.

    Ian Webb

  38. Ewan,

    There is no compromise. I accept the theory of evolution because of its ability to explain the evidence. Young earth creationists should not be surprised when they face ridicule for proposing that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, or that the earth is not billions of years old, but thousands. Such ideas are not worthy of respect, given that an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests otherwise, and Christians need not make their faith in Christ contingent upon believing such nonsense. This isn’t a ‘defense of atheists’, it’s a defense of good science.

    As I’ve clearly stated, I don’t propose some set of rules when engaging in dialogue with atheists. I’ve merely stated that in my experience open and honest conversations void of rhetoric like ‘atheism is a religion’ are much more productive. We must address what they say they believe (or disbelieve), and address that directly. Claiming to know what atheists believe better than atheists themselves is a sure way to bring an argument to an abrupt end. Surely, Ewan, you would hope that atheists address your stated reasons for your faith and not some caricatured version of them. If you don’t think this is a good approach to dialogue then what is your alternative?

    Heather Bates

  39. Thanks Heather

    We have already shown here that atheism is indeed a religion, and that this is the approach taken by Scripture (showing the religious nature of unbelief). Yet you seem to think Scripture is all wrong on this, and you can do things much better. It is that sort of attitude on your part which has a lot of us worried.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  40. Thanks Ian

    But you are giving us the utopianism of John Lennon’s Imagine now. Just how exactly are we all supposed to live together in a world in which everyone has a worldview, everyone has a life-controlling set of assumptions and beliefs, everyone has a set of answer to life’s ultimate questions – in other word, everyone has a religion – and yet these religious beliefs conflict at a fundamental level?

    Your unrealistic and unobtainable concept of just getting along and living together assumes there is no such thing as absolute truth, but just a lot of personal opinions, any one of which is just as good – or bad – as another.

    Indeed, in such a world of epistemological relativism, why should we take your beliefs and wishes as being any better than anyone else’s? Why should we bow to your notions of just getting along? That just happens to be your slant on things. If there is no final truth which we all must adjust our thoughts and lives to, then the guy who says I should kill everyone who does not agree with me is just as right in his beliefs as you are in yours.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  41. Heather,

    I have to tell you that I had a little more than just one conversation when I was growing up. The subject of science and religion came up very often at the dinner table. Mum was a Christian, my father a naturalistic CSIRO scientist and my four older siblings divided evenly between Christianity and naturalism. So what will Mark do?

    Like you, I thought for a while that there was a way of reconciling the two different ideas (as if no-one had thought of that before!) and when I was 18 and 27 I took a good look at the controversy. I have a fair collection of books from both sides on my shelf. And no, I came to quite the opposite conclusion to you. The final crunch came in 1995 when I followed Professor Ian Plimer’s crusade against creationists with his book, Telling Lies For God, and a handful of appearances on a skeptics radio program here in Melbourne. I think there was a couple of appearances on Four Corners and some newspaper articles as well. It was extremely revealing when you were prepared to dig around a little bit. (Since I actually did spend months on this issue on both occasions, in addition to the dinner table arguments over several years, I must reject any notion that I did “not (make) serious enquiries into its validity.” I will admit, however, that I left that subject behind since then as I looked into others instead. I had come to the realization that looking at something where there were no human eyewitnesses obviously restricts potential knowledge. Atheists want people to believe that every question will eventually be solved by science. That is manifestly untrue because it is impossible to go back in time.)

    Plimer was effectively the poster boy for atheists and skeptics in Australia back then, and from memory was even awarded some kind of Humanist Prize, although my recollection on the exact nature of that is a bit hazy. What is certainly true is that when the media went for an opinion on creation, he was the main cheerleader for evolution. Trouble is, his book is a pile of rubbish. What I do however quite vividly remember is my assessment of it. When he wasn’t lying, he was exaggerating. When he wasn’t quoting out of context, he was cobbling together unrelated stories as snow jobs. When he wasn’t engaging in unjustified character assassinations, he was belittling very real qualifications and studies. When he wasn’t misrepresenting what the Bible said, he arrogantly set himself up as the source of ultimate truth. It made me quite sad when I thought of the many people who got sucked in by him, including a colleague at work. One thing I remember clearly – I was listening to that radio program at one point during this time, and he blatantly lied about something that had nothing to do with science – a simple fact about a legal investigation that I had a photocopy of an official document of at home which totally refuted his story.

    One of his arguments was hilarious in its stupidity. He actually claimed that the rocks on which the Ten Commandments were written were some kind of random scrawling that only looks like writing on the rocks of that region. Pretty impressive, eh? Especially when these rocks held rules that would make society a great deal better if we actually followed them. But obviously the Prof forgot about the fact that Moses broke the first set and got another lot to replace them. Two sets of equivalent random scrawls! Fabulous! Modern man has smart weapons, the Israelites had smart rocks! (p 16, if you want to look it up)

    Another of the things I did was seek out Carl Wieland who happened to be in Melbourne at the time. I drove across town to meet up with him (not prearranged, I just happened to know where he was one night) to talk about Plimer’s book. What happened next was illuminating. Dr Wieland simply reached into his case and pulled out a copy of the book and handed it to me. He said, “Pick a page, any page…” From then on he just randomly flipped through it reeling off a number of rebuttals and clarifications. He wasn’t even slightly perturbed by it, and this was regarded at the time as an important anti-creationist book. It was also highly revealing to talk with someone active in the creation movement one-on-one. It was not a case so much of “Thus sayeth the Lord” as much as it was a case of weighing up what really counts as evidence. And he never made me feel stupid for asking honest questions. (By comparison, it is revealing to witness Dawkins squirming on video when he simply gets asked for scientific evidence – because that is his yardstick, after all – to support his ideas. If what he wrote about was so scientific then it should be a no-brainer for him. But it wasn’t. And the explanations and claims of misleading editing later show a disdain for truth at best.)

    Back to Plimer’s book, I also remember thinking, if you were required to edit out everything in his book to leave only that which was actually fully true the way he wrote it, you would be left with a handful of pages at best. It was pathetic.

    It caused me to ask some penetrating questions.

    Why would you act like this if the facts were so much in your favour? I mean, no-one would use the methods I described above or get all emotional if someone tried to claim that certain basic laws of mechanics in physics were wrong. They would probably just be ignored or dismissed with a simple demonstration. It seemed to me that you end up with a very strange way of refuting something if it was so obviously fundamental to science. There was clearly more to it than just that. As Bill quoted above, we know what the real reasons are based on because of the rare occasions when an evolution believer is candid.

    Some evolutionists now claim that Plimer wasn’t a very good representative of science so should be ignored as an aberration. Well, I don’t remember any great push by evolutionists to repeal his remarks or methods, in fact it seemed to me that he got quite a bit of support. If Plimer (and others who were effectively complicit) were so obviously prepared to somewhat economical with the truth about simple matters then how can I wisely accept anything they say at face value? I have another basis for this thinking – I remember speaking to a friend’s father who used to be active in the creationist movement years back, and he told me that a prominent evolutionist came up to him and basically said that the end justifies the means as far as truth goes. I have no reason to doubt him. Now, I have never heard a creationist say that they are prepared to say that lying is OK, but it is obviously good enough for many of the evolutionists. All in the cause, eh? So now I take something a militant evolutionist says with a grain of salt. Inside I’m always saying, “sure – if I get a chance, I’ll check that out” before I believe it. But then, I actually say that with most people, including those who post on this board. Which brings me to the subject of authority…

    How much do I believe Jesus when He said that Adam and Eve existed, (Matt 19, Mark 10 – quoting Genesis 1 & 2), He speaks of the blood of Abel (Luke 11 – effectively described as the first murder) and He also speaks about Noah? (Matt 24, Luke 17) Abraham and Moses are real people too. The first chapter of John makes it clear that Jesus was witness to these events, and the reliability of the Gospel story, along with the mere existence of Christianity considering the fact that his small motley band of disciples abandoned Him when he was arrested and killed makes me wonder a great deal about some things. I mean, if the story ended with Jesus dying – which it has to if you believe in naturalism – then something clearly doesn’t follow. As far as I understand, every other major system of faith has a naturalistic explanation (ie. teachings) for its persistence today, except for this one. Paul wrote that if Jesus is not raised (ie. more than just His teachings, but His actions) then we are to be pitied more than any men, for our faith is immediately worthless. So, the supernatural component is absolutely intrinsic to the existence of Christianity, and this makes everything that Jesus said far more authorative than what, frankly, 10 billion scientists could ever say. When they are dead, they will be dead forever, but Jesus proved His authority once and for all by rising from the dead. (And the outpouring of the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to bring the Good News to the world and begin the church) So when He spoke of the first man and woman as real I must believe Him first, and if I get to heaven and find out I was wrong, well, I doubt it will matter much then. At least I did not try to interpret His words in the ‘light’ of natural laws, which were clearly at his disposal, not the other way round, the way they limit us.

    The negative ramifications are quite clear – put simply belief in evolution undermines the reason for the mission of Jesus, since it directly disputes the existence of what He came to fix. This is not “logical fallacy” but very simple and at the core of Christianity. Otherwise our imperfect, sinful nature needs some pretty clever explanations that require some pretty selective reading of the entire Bible, not just the first few chapters. You obviously don’t have a very good understanding of the Gospel. That might offend you, but everything you have said about this subject betrays a level of ignorance here about the importance of origins to the reason Jesus came.

    In regards to your belief in the so-called strength of evolution, I noticed you avoided the subject of life from non-life. Can you not see that without an explanation for this, the whole thing becomes unraveled? Chemical evolution should be relatively easy to synthesize if it really did happen, but the current score is, as I said, big fat donut. Naturalism here is the emperor with no clothes. And I’m the little kid who finds it all a little bit absurd. No, I won’t give it any respect as a scientific theory, because the hard empirical evidence for it is profoundly lacking. And yes, the rest of it is patchy and frankly, always will be. We are talking about history. As every day passes we get a little further and further away, even if only slightly. I can only laugh when I hear the phrase used by some evolutionists – ‘God of the gaps’. Some people seem to think the theory is like Swiss cheese, whereas I tend to think the ‘gaps’ in evolutionary theory are more like the distances between stars. Lots and lots and lots of emptiness, most of which simply cannot be traversed. Transitional fossils are but one example. There are a great deal of things we don’t know, indeed, cannot know, because, as I said, Dr Who is not around to transport us to observe it happening. I don’t “take comfort from ignorance” but I come to terms with our limitations. You will simply have to face up to a level of unknowability by humans about this issue. Even a successful experiment today would only makes things plausible, not confirmed. (a la Mythbusters) And we are far from any of that. Can’t you see that there is an unacceptable amount of blind faith involved here? And just who are you placing that faith in?

    So I would ask you plainly, Heather, why do you not believe Jesus when He said this: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10: 6-9) Keep in mind two things here – Jesus wasn’t even explaining origins here – he is using it as a foundational point to explain the importance of marriage in response to a question about divorce. He just assumes it is true to make another point. That is revealing. Also, you might consider how many evolutionists will rise from the dead on the third day after dying?

    Basically I have taken a very long time (sorry Bill) to make it clear what you have done – you have set up science as being able to dictate to God what He can and can’t do. I think that is ridiculous when He invented the universe and everything in it. Jesus clearly had power over the natural world during his earthly ministry and I would rather be wrong following Him than follow mere men who are fallible and I have often enough observed to be lying. I also know myself as a man! Yes, some creationists have said and done some rather daft things, but I am not defending everything about them, just trying to be faithful to my Lord and Saviour first. What other hope do I have? I have no other hope. But your position leaves you in the far more precarious place of having to fully defend imperfect humans with imperfect knowledge about the past where they were not around. (and then trying to explain that to God) I don’t care how many universities they’ve qualified at or how many books they’ve written or how many Nobel Prizes they have won, it is rubbish by comparison.
    God asked Job,
    “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
    Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”
    God uses quite a bit of sarcasm here too:
    “Surely you know, for you were already born!
    You have lived so many years!”
    (Job 38, but keep reading on. I wonder if God ‘offended’ Job? How ‘intolerant’ of Him! …I digress…)

    I implore you to take another look. I can personally strongly relate to your initial crisis of faith. It wasn’t fun, but I’m glad I did it. I have done quite a bit of reading, but I left it behind when I realized that it ultimately amounts to a clash of worldviews. One believes in natural laws, the other believes in that plus more. Just because your friends appear to be at ease with their position does not mean it is right. I can only wonder what they would say if challenged with the same question I gave you above. I expect they would equivocate or obfuscate. I also suspect the veneer of their ease would vanish quickly with further questioning – I have no doubt Jonathan Sarfati would have a field day especially! 😉

    It’s highly likely what you won’t hear is something like this “I believe what Jesus said as completely true because He proved Himself to be truthful beyond all men.” It is inherently dangerous for a professing Christian to hold any other position because once you start picking and choosing – especially with the extremely well documented life of Jesus (see one my earlier posts above) – anything becomes fair game. What does the word ‘Christian’ mean? And think about the fact that Jesus predicted that there will be many who claim to be His, but who actually don’t know Him and He will reject. Which do you want to be?

    It may be helpful to consider something I only realized in the last week as I near the end of my study of the Gospel of Matthew this year. Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus) broke the jar of expensive fragrant perfume and poured the contents of it over the head and feet of Jesus to prepare him for burial because she believed him at his word, and he strongly defended her when the disciples (especially Judas Iscariot) whinged about the cost. Even the disciples were still a bit thick at that point and probably a bit indignant at this girl wiping his feet with her hair. Mary could not have fully understood what was about to happen, yet she acted in faith in the words of Jesus at great personal cost and was considered favourably. “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6) Your ultimate measure should not be what others think, even other Christians (and yes, that includes me), but what Jesus says and thinks. Even when it costs you a lot and you are not in a position to understand it all. Please reconsider what you believe here. I certainly can cope with the mockery of atheists (even their incorrect denial of having a religious belief) if I gain the approval of Jesus by believing Him first. (You need to remember that some conversations are not worth having because some actively choose to stay blind. If the conversation abruptly ends sometimes, then so be it.)

    I repeat, what other hope do I have, if not the hope in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour? I have no other hope.

    …those bus ads are dumb, btw! 🙂

    Mark Rabich

  42. Mark,

    Your story about your exploration of the issue of origins is interesting, but you haven’t offered any compelling reasons to doubt evolution. If you choose to adhere to every word found in the scriptures then I suppose that’s your choice, but the evidence we can observe today still needs to be explained and the best explanation is evolution. My faith in Christ is unshaken by that. God still created all – the question is how?

    On the origin of life question I pointed out that an inability to create life in the laboratory does not impact upon evolution. Scientists don’t fully understand the origin of matter, but they can develop theories of physics and chemistry to explain how matter behaves.

    It looks like this conversation isn’t going to go anywhere, as you’ve also asserted that there are insufficient transitional fossils to support evolution which is false. Am I correct in assuming that until I accept the idea that humans and dinosaurs once walked side by side along with other young earth creation fables I will be chastised here and even have the sincerity of my faith questioned? I seek serious and reasoned discussion of atheism and how to bring atheists to our Lord and Saviour. Perhaps I will not find it here?

    Heather Bates

  43. Dear Heather,

    “Young earth creationists should not be surprised when they face ridicule for proposing that humans and dinosaurs coexisted….Such ideas are not worthy of respect, given that an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests otherwise”

    I don’t believe that such comments should be allowed to pass us by unquestioned. So I ask: can you please provide a general summary of such abundant evidence that contradicts the idea that humans and dinosaurs must have coexisted at some point?

    Regards,
    Mathew Markey

  44. Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    Obviously your definition of atheism is your own convenient interpretation and not what most people agree is the dictionary definition- “the rejection of theism”.

    Now who is scared of death ? ooh me, maybe a nice fairytale will soothe me.. Religion is fraud.

    God probably does not exist. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

    Tom Walker

  45. Bill, Many thanks for your comments.

    It is often the case that when I ask the question “why can’t people just get along” that I’m given an answer similar to yours, in that it is not realistic. (Although sometimes also with a sense that I am simply being nieve!)

    However, I don’t think this is necessarily true. My circle of friends contains two muslims, a catholic, atheists and agnogstics. We manage to get along fine whilst maintaining mutual respect. We all also seem to get through life without having to resort to poking holes in other people’s religious beliefs (or lack of them).

    It does seem that the higher a person is involved in their chosen belief system (eg. Richard Dawkins, religious figures etc), the more they feel they must spend time criticising other people’s beliefs. This seems a foolish way of living for is it not a case that someone who is truly happy would not feel compelled to worry/waste time with what other people spend their time believing?

    My initial thought is the higher you progress in a position of power / prominence in your own belief system, the more compelled you become in using a proportion of their life to poke holes in what others beliefs (Richard Dawkins seems the key athiest for this behaviour). This behaviour seems all the more extraordinary when you consider that it is a total futile gesture that achieves almost nothing (unless of course a voilent course of action is used as shown in history).

    Perhaps the little people such as me and my friends are really the wise ones who are happiest, and it is the case that the professors and religious powerful figures of world who worry and criticise, are actually the real fools when it comes to living life to the fullest potential.

    But then again, perhaps it is people who are actually drawn to positions of power. That has manifested itself throughout history where prominent figures of power both in and out of religion have been compelled to lead bloody wars and genocide on groups outside their own belief system.

    You make a point of seeking absolute truth. But then seem to use this to justify the reason that people should not / cannot get along peacefully. Richard Dawkins says this exact same point, that different faiths cannot get along because they each have their own view on what that absolute truth is.

    I completely disagree with both of you on this for one simple reason. Seeking absolute truth cannot be used to justify the critism of other peoples beliefs. People can seek out and strive for the truth without attacking and criticising what others think. Surely this is possible?

    On your last point of why should people take someones opinions over the next. This is simply morals. If, in your example, someone says that you should kill someone, then I’d hope that the collective moral judgement of society would outcast that person from further debate. Whereas, someone asking for all beliefs to get along peacefully, would be embraced by every single person of different belief systems who hold that same moral viewpoint of peaceful living.

    Hence, some opinions DO become more important and of a greater value than others without a need to have a reference to a single absolute truth.

    Kind regards, Ian Webb
    (i should mention my motivation for discussion on these subjects is purely of a philosophical stance).

  46. Thanks Tom

    Nice try, but I must call your bluff. Religion is quite simply defined as a set of beliefs about ultimate reality, or God. Everyone has a set of beliefs (however poorly thought our or otherwise) about ultimate reality, our purpose and meaning in life, and so on. Thus everyone is religious. One need not be theistic to be religious. Buddhism does not even need to posit a god, but Buddhists are still religious.

    And although atheists do not worship a supernatural god, they simply worship the god of their own choosing: in this case, themselves. They put themselves at the centre of the universe, and make themselves the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, true and false. All these are very god-like activities indeed.

    So everyone has a god: if it is not the true God of the universe, it is a false god of our own devising. Christian theists simply want atheists to stop worshipping false gods, and to start worshipping the one true God.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  47. Thanks Ian

    But you are confusing issues a bit here. Can people of opposing belief systems live together more or less in peace and harmony? Yes of course, it happens all the time. For example, I have relationships with various atheists, Muslims, New Agers, etc. We are not shooting each other, so yes, in one sense we get along and live together.

    But that is not the real issue here. What we are talking about here is whether there is such a thing as absolute truth. The issue is all about competing truth claims. If, for example, the Christian claim that Jesus died on a cross and rose again is true, then the Muslim claim that Jesus did not do these things is false. Both religions cannot be true in this regard. This is simply the law of non-contradiction at work.

    Truth matters, and ideas have consequences. It is not just an issue of people living together who happen to hold competing truth claims. The real issue is which truth claim is true and right. If Christianity is true, then there are very real consequences indeed as to how we respond to those truth claims. And if Christianity is true, then those who are not Christians are in a precarious situation indeed.

    Jesus made it clear that out attitude toward him – the way we understand and respond to him – makes all the difference in the world. Our eternal destiny all hinges on what we do with Jesus and his claims about himself. A person may say this is all so much bunk, but it is certainly what Jesus said about himself. His words need to be taken seriously, in other words. He was not merely one more religious leader and ethical teacher among many. He claimed to be totally unique, and the only way to a right relationship with God.

    Thus, your admission that this debate is for you just “purely of a philosophical stance” is a bit worrying to say the least. With all due respect, I hope it is much more than that for you. If it is merely a case of tickling your intellectual palette, then you had better reconsider. What in fact we are talking about here are life and death issues which have personal consequences for every one of us. These are not mere mind games to entertain us, but matters of truth and error which have eternal consequences.

    That is, if the Christian truth claims are true, then we have an eternal destiny at stake here. It very much matters if we get things wrong here in this life. What we do with truth will seal our eternal direction. So I hope this in fact becomes more than just a philosophical pursuit for you, but something you personally take to heart and consider with all due sobriety.

    And finally, to pick up on one more point you raise: it is exactly because there is absolute truth that one must critically assess and judge other beliefs. All beliefs are not all equally true. The relativist confuses genuine tolerance with not critiquing any other position or belief. But no one lives that way. We critically assess things all the time.

    If it is absolutely true that the road ahead has given way, and anyone driving along it will plunge to their death, then it will seem to the person who is not in the know that anyone seeking to warn them of their fate is quite intolerant and a bit of a nut case.

    If I stand on the road shouting and waving my arms, telling you to stop and turn around, that makes me seem most intolerant and judgemental. ‘How dare this madman tell me what to do?’ But it is because of absolute truth (in this case, there is sure doom ahead unless one turns around) that such warnings are necessary and are a very real corollary of that truth.

    In the same way, if Biblical Christianity is true, then we have an obligation and responsibility to act on the truth. It means loving others enough to warn them, to judge their worldview, and tell them they are on the wrong road. That is what a commitment to absolute truth entails.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  48. Heather,

    It’s very simple. What you call “compelling evidence” is in fact more likely to be the mere opinions and interpretations of data by fallible (and even outright deceitful) men who were not there. In fact, these people couldn’t even claim to be eyewitnesses to events as comparatively recent as Captain Cook and the First Fleet. As I have now pointed out to you at least three times now, we cannot actually travel back in time. And for some of this data, alternate explanations exist within the creation model. So I am suitably unimpressed, and this is perfectly reasonable. Remember, I have the supernatural authority of someone who was there. Frankly, Jesus trumps naturalism all day long.

    And you evaded my main question. Was Jesus lying when he spoke of the things I mentioned? How credible is it for you to then claim He is Lord and Saviour? It certainly sounds like He is only that for you when He submits to your terms and/or sticks within ‘science’. That’s not how it works. May I point out that He is also your Creator? Who gets to make the rules do you think?

    The reason the conversation isn’t going anywhere is not my fault. I’m answering your questions, and you’re throwing up relatively minor issues such as men walking with dinosaurs as if it is something that is of grave importance. How much does that matter one way or the other? And what are the chances of answering that definitively? But first things first. Do you really think you are facing up honestly to the logical ramifications of what you are (by implication) saying about the words of Jesus? Why don’t you believe what He said? Do you think He was ignorant?

    Mark Rabich

  49. I think the main thrust of the case in this provocative article is OK though the argument is somewhat thin in places as several commentators suggest.

    I think we have to ask why more and more people are being drawn increasingly to some form of atheism/agnosticism? Is it simply due to the increase in the persuasiveness, evangelistic zeal and financial resources of the atheist-gurus like Dawkins or have we, the convinced believers in God’s existence, brought the house down on ourselves? Has this upsurge in atheistim been of our own making?

    What I hear many atheists behind the anti-God rhetoric saying is that they are repelled by the kind of God people believe in. They point to the history of religious wars and violence, the attitude towards and dreadful treatment of women, gays, lesbians and other marginalised groups in religious societies, the exploitation of the planet’s resources and habitats and the common shallow understanding of the nature of science and its relationship to faith – mostly issuing from communities of believers who justify their actions in terms of their belief.

    They question the contribution that believers in God, including Christians, have made to the shaping of a better world. And in the age of a ‘war on terror’ in which religion is high profile as a main causation it is no wonder the man in the street is drawn away from belief in the existence of God.

    I think that we believers in God, especially those of us who follow Christ, need to sit humbly in the face of this and acknowledge our culpability.

    Perhaps we should focus attention less on creeping atheism and turn back to the Way of the Cross, a way of non-violence and love and seek afresh to embody Jesus’ way of peace, justice, equality and inclusiveness.

    It’s how we, as the community of faith, are together, how we relate to each other, our respect for each other’s views (not least seen in how we conduct our conversations in public on the internet) that will either draw people towards belief in God and more importantly the resurrection or repel them. It’s through the ‘fruits’ of the Body of Christ in community and how we ‘love one another’ and ‘our enemies’ that people will be won over.

    So, please, less time focused on a ‘crusade’ against creeping atheism and more on significantly improving our way of being ‘in Christ’.

    Alister Palmer, UK

  50. Hi Bill,
    Thanks for your example and hard work and personal sacrifices in getting us inform and involve with daily challenges in the so called ‘Christian’ world.
    I really trust that our powerfull and loving God is always in control.(Romans 8:28). When things that concern us happen I try to search what God want us to learn because all thing works for the good.
    I am sure we can use this opportunity to start chatting with anybody mentioning those ad to talk about their personal response to higher power and can give them a food for thought how unrealistic their idea is and how wonderful is to have a God so loving that we can trust even in daily steps. How wonderful to have God to look forward with excitement to be in His presence. That in reality most people actually accept that there is some more powerfull being. Talk about the danger of those idea that can give a person the freedom to rob and kill people because there will be no future.etc
    Maybe it also remind people in the west that somehow they put some of their dependence/faith in Government. Do we need to introspect wether we put all our faith in God?
    In the 1960 the domino theory was famous. The west was worried with the expansion of communism. Alter the fall of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, they predict Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia will follow soon. Now where is their sting? Who defeat them? is it the West? We can only praise the work of God in protecting us.
    Our God reign and is in control. Let us be a faithful, accountable, loving servant that is ready anytime. Each has a personal relationship with our savior and knowing Christ by studying Him/The Word of God/Bible. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (that he understands and knows me v 24)
    If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)
    Thanks again
    Monica Indrawan

  51. Thanks Bill for your excellent comments

    I have this for James Paulson: Your comments James worry me if you proclaim to be a Christian. And indeed if it is in the Bible IT MUST BE TRUE. Why? Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17: ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

    Bill is such a man of God and is thoroughly equipped, listen to him and learn.

    Robert Seghers

  52. Hi Bill,

    The word religion can be and is used with a very broad brush. This is the problem with English where the meaning of a word can slightly vary given the context of the sentence. The following is taken from dictionary.com:
    re?li?gion – noun
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
    4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
    5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
    6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
    7. religions, Archaic. religious rites.
    8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.
    —Idiom
    9. get religion, Informal.
    a. to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
    b. to resolve to mend one’s errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.

    Now we can fit many activities into the above explanations but that is really not being fair to the “spirit” of the word. There are many people that see themselves as the center of the universe and they are not all atheists. Many of the non religious people I know are more community minded than self obsessed. Much of what we think of as right and wrong is defined by society where definitions and laws come from a range of sources including the religious, secularists, history and ourselves.

    In regards to the signs, is it really an issue?

    Ben Green

  53. Thanks Ben

    Are there people who are self-centered who are not atheists? Sure. Even Christians, can live a false, hypocritical life, and put self instead of God as number one. So my point remains: everyone has something in their life which they regard as of ultimate worth. If it is not the God of the Bible, it is something else – usually self.

    As to unbelievers and others being “community-minded” – two responses. It is because of God’s common grace that anyone does anything good. Left to our own devices we would increasingly be obsessed with sin and self. Read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for example, if the Bible is not your cup of tea in this regard.

    Second, you are comparing one human with another. If we only look at one another, we will find some people who seem to be pretty decent chaps. But you are making the wrong comparison. If we compare ourselves with a pure, perfect and holy God, none of us stack up. We all fail miserably when compared to almighty God. God must always be the standard by which we measure ourselves against, not one another.

    As Scripture says, ‘there is none that seeks after God, there is none who is righteous’ (Rom. 3:10-11). Human pride says we are pretty good and do not need God. Humility recognises our need and our dependence on God. Thus at the end of the day there are still only two ultimate religions: that religion which centres on self, and that religion that centres on the true and living God. And the two are polar opposites.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  54. This Heather Bates spruiks:

    My faith in Christ is unshaken by that.

    Which “Christ”? Evidently not the true Christ who said, “Scripture cannot be broken” and spoke of false christs to come.

    God still created all – the question is how?

    Easy: how He said that He did!

    On the origin of life question I pointed out that an inability to create life in the laboratory does not impact upon evolution

    Origin of life from non-living chemicals = chemical evolution. If this can’t get started, then organic evolution has nothing to work on. So materialism is dead in the water.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  55. Thanks Alister

    Yes and no would be my response to your somewhat curious comment. Yes we can all be more Christlike – no denying that. But you make a number of assumptions here which worry me to be honest. Your third paragraph comes straight out of the atheist song book. It always puzzles me when believers seem more keen on siding with atheists than with fellow believers. All of the various charges listed by you/them have been answered on countless occasions. Indeed, most are red herrings or straw men.

    And no, Christians are not primarily responsible for the rise of atheism – atheists are. Those who reject God at the end of the day may point all they like to faulty believers, but they will ultimately be responsible for their own decisions about Jesus Christ.

    Sure, the church has often not been the best witness that it might have been, and we can all lift our game here, but it seems unwise to seek to make excuses for unbelief, especially in the light of the words of Jesus as in John 3:16-21, etc.

    And of course your implicit pacifism is a position which Christians may hold to, but it is neither the majority position, nor the only way believers can look at such issues as war and peace, terrorism and the like.

    And I must reject the false dilemma of your final sentence, as if we have to choose one or the other. I choose both. I will certainly seek to let the light of Christ shine, but I will also defend my faith, and take on the many challenges to it.

    I am not on a crusade against anything. I remind you that it was the new atheists who started this crusade, and I have every right as a believer to fulfil 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3, etc., among other things.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  56. Thanks Bill for your speedy reply.

    Perhaps I spend too much time in the company of atheists and agnostics as I try to understand them and their views and seek to show God’s deep love for them through friendship.

    I think that we Christians can so easily fall into the ways of the judgemental Pharisee by having sanitised discussions at a distance from the people whose beliefs are the focus of our discussion and from our secure bunkers find ways to send down fire upon the great ‘unwashed’.

    As one wise friend said to me many years ago that you haven’t really understood another person’s point of view until you have felt the power of their argument – that requires us to stand in a position of vulnerability.

    Everyone has a point of view, change your point and you get a different view. I try to place myself where I think Jesus would stand which is in relationship and to see people through his eyes. The task of loving our enemies is not easy because it is cruciform in shape.

    Alister Palmer, UK

  57. Thanks Alister

    Again, yes but… It is not too difficult for me to try to enter into the world of unbelievers, because I used to be one myself. So I know a bit about that world, but I have converted out of it to Christianity. I am aware of the positions held and the rebellion that goes along with unbelief. The biblical picture of man in rebellion against God is not very flattering.

    Of course we must always seek to hold together loving the person while we disagree with competing worldviews. Loving the nonbeliever includes pointing out where their beliefs differ from the biblical gospel.

    If it seems to you that I am being a judgmental Pharisee in what I do, then I can only say that I am doing what I feel called to do by God, just as you must feel you are. I have said numerous times on this site that I am more than happy to offer honest answers to honest questions. I am aware however that not all of my non-believing sparring partners are necessarily in that place. I am aware also that behind the war of ideas there is a spiritual battle taking place.

    I know nothing about you or what you are doing, but I trust you are bearing fruit for the Kingdom. Indeed, that is my prayer for you. If you should care to pray for me as well, it would be greatly appreciated. I certainly covet such prayer.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  58. Mathew Markey: “…can you please provide a general summary of such abundant evidence that contradicts the idea that humans and dinosaurs must have coexisted at some point? “

    Hi Mathew,

    Dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. Homo sapiens originated about 200 thousand years ago. This means that dinosaurs and modern humans did not coexist.

    Heather Bates

  59. Mark,

    The opinions of scientists are well supported by empirical evidence. If these ‘mere’ opinions and interpretations of the data are so off the mark, it should be easy to demonstrate that evolution is wrong. If that’s the case, why is it that all but the smallest percentage of scientists accept evolution (or the old age of the earth)? Maybe I’m wrong, but you also seem to be using the creationist talking point of “You weren’t there”. By the extension of this logic the justice system could never convict anybody of a crime without an eyewitness to that crime. We cannot deny reality, and this is why I’m not a Biblical literalist. I view scripture as a source of great inspiration and there is great wisdom within, but our understanding of the natural world shows that not every word can be taken literally. Maybe you think this makes me less of a Christian but you’re wrong – Christianity is Christ and I have taken Christ into my heart.

    Heather Bates

  60. Hi Jonathan,

    I’ve heard of you and young earth creationists have directed me to your website on numerous occasions. After reading some of your contributions to Bill’s site I can only assume your manners are about as good as your science, so if it’s alright with you I’ll continue to ignore you.

    Thanks, Heather Bates

  61. Thanks Heather

    But the heart of the problem, I would suggest, lies in your statement: “I view scripture as a source of great inspiration and there is great wisdom within.” With all due respect, not only would plenty of non-Christians see the Bible in the same light, but your statement – being as nebulous and non-committal as it is – could equally apply to all sorts of books, ranging from the Upanishads to The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Many people would argue that Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, and zillions of other New Age mumbo jumbo books are also “inspirational” works with much “wisdom”.

    Indeed, a whole raft of self-help books would qualify under your definition, from How to Win Friends and Influence People to The Power of Positive Thinking. Non-Christian authors like Deepak Chopra, The Dalai Lama and Shirley MacLaine, to name but a few, would also fit the bill here.

    So if that is the best you can come up with regarding the Bible, then no wonder we are having some major problems here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  62. Heather, I see no compelling evidence that dinosaurs “became extinct 65 million years ago”, and no compelling evidence that humans “originated about 200 thousand years ago”. In fact what I see is quite a bit of credible evidence from actual recorded history (as opposed to the history imagined by evolutionists) that suggests that dinosaurs and people did coexist up until relatively recent times. If you are a Christian then why do you persist in believing the opinions of fallible men who weren’t there over the Word of our infallible Creator God who not only was there but who did it and who also recorded it for us? This is at bottom not an old earth versus young earth argument, but an argument over the authority of Scripture. Who are you going to believe – God or man?

    Ewan McDonald.

  63. Heather,

    My point to you is quite clear, the “evidence” is just not good enough in comparison to the words of Jesus. He quotes directly from Genesis 1 & 2, and his mission fulfills a prophecy and deals with the basic human problem referred to in Genesis 3. He refers to the blood of Abel from Genesis 4. He refers to Noah, described in Genesis 5 to 9. But it’s clear what you consider authoritative. You reject alternative explanations of the data to evolutionary conclusions, regardless of the fact that it fatally wounds the testimony of Jesus.

    The best anyone can ever hope for in most explanations of origins from a purely naturalistic paradigm is ‘plausible’ which is substantially weaker than the kind of legal forensic evidence you cite which is actually needs to be quite specific and beyond all reasonable doubt. Eyewitnesses are not always necessary, sure, but in this case you’re overlooking the fact that Jesus actually was one! (John 1) And I think there is plenty of reasonable doubt when the start of the story of evolution has precisely no evidence to support it. What’s the point in discussing the colour of the walls or the size of rooms, when the house is standing on quicksand? In 150 years of this theory I’m yet to hear any news about this part of it being solved – and here’s the crunch – let me ask you – if they were to synthesize life in a lab from inorganic substances, would it be trumpeted on the front page of every major newspaper as ‘further’ proof of evolution, or only mentioned as an interesting experiment in some scientific publication that hardly anyone outside that particular field reads? Be honest now. The failure and the (lack of) reaction to this is highly illuminating about the strength of the theory. Overall, minor ‘successes’ are boldly proclaimed and ongoing failures swept under the carpet, even when gargantuan.

    And Bill’s already pointed out why many stick to the theory. “Evidence” is not the main reason! Why are you defending them when some have candidly admitted their motives are effectively anti-God? And as I took some time to explain, I have very good reasons to doubt their words as objective truth. I’m not impressed by claims of “65 million years” for example, because no reliable control exists for that claim. No-one can state that for sure. It is wildly overreaching their authority to do so. And I’m certainly not going to side with the likes of Spong and Plimer!

    Also, you’re implying that I think there should be no scientific enquiry into origins whatsoever, which I have never stated once, nor would I ever state it. You seem to miss the bit I wrote about coming to terms with our limitations. (sorry about the length of the essay above) I just think we need to be a lot more circumspect and honest about the enquiry. Scientists who make grandiose statements about the past need to be quoted Job 38:21
    “Surely you know, for you were already born!
    You have lived so many years!”

    You might consider that Job was considered by God to be an “upright” man, but did not escape this dose of heavenly sarcasm – even when he was in a pretty bad way. Can I not effectively quote this to someone else? Jesus often publicly ridiculed the Pharisees knowledge of the scriptures. His oft-used phrase to them, “Have you not read?” (or similar) was highly likely to offend. Why do you think you deserve any better, especially if you clearly consider the authority of Jesus as secondary to scientists? In view of that, your claim that “Christianity is Christ and I have taken Christ into my heart.” just sounds hollow. Reading between the lines you can plainly deduce the qualification “So long as I, Heather Bates, get to determine what is worth believing in and what I can reject…” Do you understand what it means to acknowledge the kingship of Jesus? Yet you have the temerity to accuse Jonathan of “manners” when you effectively call Jesus a liar, or unreliable at the very least. Not defending everything he does – Jonathan, I’m sure, can and should speak for himself in this respect – but who’s really being rude here? And that’s not even dealing with your parroting of the dismissive caricature “Biblical literalist” which may just as well have been penned by an atheist.

    I have every reason to believe the words of Jesus since the historicity of the Gospels is so overwhelming (that is what I consider “compelling”, btw) and the existence of the church makes no sense without His resurrection, which underlines His total authority over nature. And Jesus most definitely believed in Adam and Eve. Here’s a question – what do you think Jesus thinks about holding this attitude towards His words?

    Mark Rabich

  64. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for your answer. I believe that the creationist explanations of the geologic column offer a credible alternate story about the history of this planet, when compared with the present evolutionary explanations that are accepted as the mainstream understanding. I’m not sure whether you’ve looked into them, and if you have, I’m not sure what you have found to be so bad that they “are not worthy of respect”. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree for the time being.

    By the way, I noticed your comment to Jonathan Sarfati about manners. I’d just like to point out that just because somebody may or may not have bad manners doesn’t make their science right or wrong. I hope you don’t now choose to ignore creationist scientific theories just because you are put off by one person’s character. We’d all have long since had to disregard evolutionary theories on that basis alone. And regarding one of our fathers of science, I think Isaac Newton may have been a pretty cranky character, but I still think he was right about gravity!

    Another by the way – your different viewpoint on these issues does not make you “less” of a Christian in my eyes. Christ’s sacrifice was to reconcile us all to God, and that means being in a relationship with him – nobody can take that away from either of us.

    Regards,
    Mathew Markey

  65. My intention was to enter a discussion about ways to bring those who do not believe to Christ, but it seems I’m spending more time defending basic scientific knowledge from young earth creationism. So I’ll close with the following:

    – Evolution happened and the earth is old. A mature and honest Christian theology is compatible with these simple facts and more and more people of the Christian faith are embracing such scientific knowledge. The comments on a website are not the best place to present the evidence for these findings; all I can do is urge you to review the primary literature on biology and geology.

    – I think the best way to engage atheists is to listen to what they say and address what they say and hopefully they will reciprocate – this is the best way to get ‘on the same page’. “Atheism is a religion” is just a rhetorical device and a convincing case that it is a religion has not been made. Indeed, it is their lack of religiosity that concerns us.

    – Mathew, thanks for the final paragraph of your last post. But just to clarify, I don’t dismiss Jonathan’s science because of the way he conducts himself at this website. I dismiss it because the evidence does not support his conclusions.

    Thanks everybody.

    Heather Bates

  66. “Heather Bates” probably would have objected to Jesus’ “bad manners” when He rebuked the Sadducees and Pharisees, e.g. “whitewashed tombs”, “have you not read?” (a biting put-down of the alleged experts in Scripture)’ or Elijah when He rebuked the prophets of Baal. Of course, this was typical challenge-riposte, that brought them great honour.

    And like a good churchian ally of the misotheists, Heather raises not a peep against their vitriol, preferring the futile gesture of appeasing their view of history.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  67. Hi Bill,

    You raised some interesting points in your response a number of comments back.

    I suspect you are inferring that all atheists are self centered and I must disagree with you on this point. For example, holding family as your highest priority is not being self centered. Everyday I try to be a better person. Is this being self centered? If I may ask, Is someone who holds a relationship with God above everything else being selfish/self-centered? Who is the ultimate net beneficiary of such a relationship?

    I do not agree that it is because of God’s common graces that we do good. Many people do good things every day and I suspect that many of these events (however small they are) are not inspired by a relationship with God. People who do not have a relationship with God does not automatically drive them to life of sin and debauchery. Likewise, someone who does have a relationship with God does not guarantee they will do good things. I will give you a personal example. At my daughters kindergarten we have a child who’s parents are members of the Exclusive. Brethren. This family does not contribute to the running of the facility in any way or form. Also, for some reason their children are not allowed to eat at the same tables as other children so the kinder makes special arrangements for this. (It kills me to see that poor child sitting by themselves while all the others are laughing. What type of people do that??) Kindergarten’s are very family and community driven and it is a great opportunity for those who want to help, to help. Strange thing is I do not see the devoted Christian family in this instance putting their hand up. Instead there is a core group of five or six families that carry most of the load with mine being one. My wife is there every week without question. I myself run science sessions for the kids and I am currently organizing a music day for them. We do this partly because we enjoy it and partly because it helps the kinder to be a better place. I could also talk about the school councils and comities but I think you get my point. I do not want to soap box about this.

    How do we know what is perfect? How do we know God is perfect? The bible tells us God is capable of some pretty deplorable things. Is that being perfect?

    A question. If Christians were not promised to be in a union with God when our lives end here, do you think that would stop them from doing good things or trying to be good people?

    Ben Green

  68. Thanks Ben

    More good questions. Since you are a non-Christian I would not expect you to fully agree with the idea of common grace, or other Christian doctrines for that matter. But you may have them misunderstood somewhat. The biblical doctrine of sin for example does not say that all of us are as bad as we can possibly be; it simply says we have a fundamental orientation which is toward self and away from God.

    Thus the natural tendency is for people to put self first, and to rebel against God and his revelation of himself. As Lewis put it, we are all rebels who must lay down our arms. So humility is part of all this. Those who are humble enough to admit they are not the centre of the universe, that God, not they, should call the shots, and that they are beggars in need of help, are the ones who come to God and avail themselves of the help he offers.

    And it is not a question of pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We are all in dire straits, according to Scripture, and unable to help ourselves. Only God by his grace can free us from the prison of sin, self, and self-righteousness.

    That does not mean that the person who has humbled himself and sought God’s help and agreed with His estimation of his condition therefore becomes perfect and totally free of self. God’s Spirit takes up residence in the believer, and helps him become all that he was meant to be, and could not be on his own. That becomes a life-long process, where we increasingly put off self, and increasingly let His rule control our lives. So yes you will unfortunately find believers whose lives do not always seem to match their profession.

    Essentially is a matter of whether we agree with God or not. It is a matter of taking his diagnosis of the human condition as being more accurate than our own self-diagnosis. We all have blind spots, and sin is very deceptive. Thus we need a perspective outside of ourselves to see things as they really are. Again, humility is the starting place here. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” we are told in the Bible.

    As to an absolute moral standard, if it is not God, then it must be ourselves, or one of our own making. We set ourselves up to be the source of all that is true and false, right and wrong. In other words, we seek to take God’s place. Thus all sin is ultimately idolatry, and we are all guilty of seeking to usurp God’s rightful place as creator and ruler of the universe.

    As to the alleged moral blemishes of God, we can discuss those if you like. But as Scripture says, it becomes a case of the clay telling the potter how wrong he is, when instead the clay should exhibit a bit more humility here!

    All of these are very big topics which would take a lot of time to fully explain. I would simply say that if you are really serious about all this, and want a quick look at what God says about this, try reading the Gospel of John or the Gospel of Mark for starters, and see what Jesus said and did. That is the most important search any of us can undertake.

    As to your last question, it is a bit misleading, since the whole basis of the Christian faith is centred of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, and therefore the resurrection of everyone of us into the next life. The apostle Paul even said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain.

    But the reason why Christians love and serve Jesus is not because of some fire-insurance for the future, not for some pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye, but for the simple reason that Jesus is the perfect example of unselfish, sacrificial love. He died in our place, taking the punishment for sin that we deserved upon himself, in order that we could be reconciled to God.

    “And this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Thus the Christian life is really a life of gratitude. We want to do that which is pleasing to God, because of what Jesus did for us. And as I said, the gift of the Spirit is given to believers to help them live a life pleasing to God which we could never do on our own.

    Thanks again for your questions and comments.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  69. It looks to me as though Ben is not understanding “common grace”. As I understand it, this form of grace applies universally to everyone and not just to Christians and is used to explain why non-Christians are capable of good works.

    The Exclusive Brethren as described by Ben are not behaving in a way most of us believers would approve. (I also wonder why an exclusive sect would even send their children to a secular kindergarten in the first place?) In Ben’s example they have it exactly backwards – they should be letting their child eat with all the others and keeping the child out of the science lessons (assuming of course that such lessons are teaching science from an evolutionary humanistic perspective. Like for example that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.).

    Ewan McDonald.

  70. Hello Heather,

    Hope you’re still on board, wow I final got thru the 71 posts. May I briefly tell my story in the creation/evolution debate. I’ll put my cards on the table, after 30 years as a theistic evolutionist and now a young earth creationists. Why the change? I have spent many a long hour trying to find a brief explanation for my friends and family, as it turned out the answer is very easy DEATH Let me explain.

    Heather I applaud youy motives to share the gospel with you atheist friends, but the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be coherent and non-contradictory if it is going to be taken seriously. As a “younger Christian evolutionist” I was unable to share my faith, at the time I didn’t understand why, I read the bible regularly but I knew something wasn’t quite right – why couldn’t I witness if Jesus had really saved me. Because I was blind (which was only revealed to me by the Holy Spirit) to the full story of the good news starting from the book of Genesis. I was never going to present a coherent story with a confused mind. (I do hope you think Genesis is important otherwise all is lost)

    Please don’t water down biblical truth to “get on the same page” as you unbelieving friends, they will spot a phoney message before you even realize whats happened. In the evolutionary view, hasn’t the ‘bondage to decay’ or death always been there? And if death and suffering did not arise with Adam’s sin and the resulting curse, how can Jesus’ suffering and physical death pay the penalty for sin and give us eternal life, as the Bible clearly says (1 Corinthians 15:22 — For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive)?

    In a nutshell you cannot have death BEFORE Adam’s SIN, otherwise the gospel is rubbish and you undermine everything Jesus stood for. We don’t want atheists to become religious – they need to rescued from the consequences of sin (as all of us) Thank God, Jesus put death to death.

    Dallas James

  71. Hi Dallas, you might be interested to know that the ‘death before sin’ issue was also the clincher for me too. Although I was never an old-earth Christian, it was when I first heard the death before sin issue explained that a light came on for me and I suddenly saw why the issue of creation/evolution (and the associated debate over the age of the earth) is so important to the Gospel message.

    Ewan McDonald.

  72. Heather,
    Like you I find it disturbing how the Young Earth Creationists call into question someone’s faith in the Lord Jesus because we dont believe that the earth is no more than 10,000 years old.
    When I try to witness for Jesus I receive the same incredulity from atheists who ask ” So you believe the earth is only 10,000 years old !”.
    I find it a disturbing trend of Theo-Political Correctness that you have to believe in a young earth otherwise you’re a ‘Comprimiser’.
    That type of PC/Gestapo tactics is less than helpful.
    Doug Holland

  73. Doug,
    Why should it be strange if followers of Christ share His views of history and Scripture? A 4.6 billion year old earth would mean that death is not the result of sin and that Jesus and the New Testament writers were ignorant about the age of the Earth. If we compare Jude v. 14, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam” with Genesis 5, we will notice that Jude (like Jesus, Paul and John), believed that Genesis was real history. Yet, the issue is not primarily about the age of the earth but about the authority of Scripture.
    Joel Kontinen

  74. Joel,
    Respectfully that is your interpretation of the timescales.
    Where exactly did Jesus say the Universe was 10,000 years old (and no longer) when plentiful geological and astronomical evidence (of which he is the creator) provides a very opposite indication ?
    You interpret days literally, many of your fellow Christians don’t. I respect that some Christians interpret days literally and others do not. I will not doubt their faith on account of the viewpoint they take.
    As politely as I can Joel may I suggest that your literal interpretation of ‘days’ is neither the only nor most accurate one from my perspective. I respect your right to hold that view though. I dont want to go into the debate here there are plenty of websites where it is debated comprehensively. If the Universe is 10,000 years or younger then no doubt there are numerous Geological and Astrophysical communities of standing throughout the world which will back this viewpoint up. I await their announcements to that effect.
    Doug Holland

  75. Doug,
    Jesus did not explicitly say how old the universe is. But as Creator He knew that man was created “at the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6). In other words, Adam and Eve were created soon after the creation of the world. Many Hebrew experts believe that the author of Genesis (whom Jesus identifies as Moses) meant the creation days to be understood literally. Dr. Steven Boyd examined Genesis 1:1-2:3 statistically and concluded that it most probably is not poetry as it lacks parallelism and the other characteristics of Hebrew poetry but historical narrative. Moreover, the word yom + evening and morning always refers to an ordinary day.
    I think we have been conditioned to think in terms of millions of years of earth history. It’s not so much a question of evidence but our interpretation of the evidence. Dating methods have certain basic assumptions that most people are unaware of and there are solutions to the distant starlight problem (e.g. Humphreys, Harnett).
    Joel Kontinen

  76. Joel, the dating mechanisms may not be flawless but are more or less on the money. As for Humphreys – his white hole cosmology views are more are less discredited and Harnett’s 10,000 year old Universe is not accepted either. Has any astrophysical society endorsed the viewpoint of either two men ?

    Not surprisingly NASA doesn’t adhere to a 10,000 year old Universe either. As far as I am aware there are no credible Geological/Geophysical societies that buy into a 10,000 year old earth either. Indeed there are no secular astrophysical or geological societies that happen to believe in a 10,000 year old earth either and came to that conclusion from a secular viewpoint. If advocates of a young Universe/earth can provide compelling evidence then they should publish and convince the scientific world. They have been spectacularly unable to do so so far Joel.

    Doug Holland

  77. Doug,
    We’ll probably have to agree to disagree. I don’t pretend to be omniscient but if Jesus and the biblical authors believed that the earth is (relatively speaking) young, I’ll believe what they say. Scientific “truths” change all the time, the Bible does not. BTW, New Scientist just reported on research done by Jean-Philippe Uzan of the Paris Astrophysics Institute in France and Chris Clarkson and George Ellis of the University of Cape Town who in effect speculate (like Humphreys) that the earth might after all occupy a special place in the universe. They plan to publish their paper in Physical Review Letters. The New Scientist article is already available on their website.

    Joel Kontinen

  78. Leaving aside my personal religious beliefs because it seems some respondents like to determine whether someone is atheist/ Christian and automatically try to negate whatever argument is proposed if they are of the different belief irrespective of the subject matter, i’d like to add my opinion.

    Regarding atheism = religion, i wont dwell on some points already mentioned. I’m interested to hear different viewpoints on the notion that majority (i assume) of Christians DON’T have the belief that if provable evidence is put in front of them that God doesn’t exist or a deity other that the Christian God exists, then they’ll gladly convert to atheism or other religion based on the evidence.

    Whilst majority (i assume) of atheists have their belief that it is unlikely God exists/ there is no God (no one can speak on behalf of all atheists regarding how they view atheism) WILL gladly convert to a particular religious viewpoint if correspondingly provable evidence exists that a certain God or other supernatural entity exists.

    Emma Earley, Sydney

  79. Thanks Emma

    But it makes a very big difference indeed as to full disclosure here. When people want to hide where they are coming from, it makes it difficult to properly respond to them. For example, if a person claims to be a biblical Christian, then biblical material can be utilised as part of the response to them. But if they are claiming to be a secularist, then one can deal with non-biblical arguments, etc. So your lack of honesty here is helping no one. Indeed, it simply makes one suspicious of your real agenda.

    But it seems that you are declaring your unbelief by your rather bizarre remarks. Your implication that a believer will refuse to follow the evidence where it may lead, while atheists will jump to the evidence, even if it means renouncing their unbelief, is simply a wild assertion without any empirical evidence. What proof do you offer for such a reckless charge?

    My experience is just the opposite. First, the apostle Paul himself tells us that if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is found to not have happened, then our faith is in vain, and we should give the game away. That is how important following the evidence wherever it may lead is to biblical Christians.

    Second, atheists have been presented with stacks of evidence but most cling to their faith commitment to atheism despite the evidence. Only a few brave and honest souls like Antony Flew have been willing to fully follow the evidence, even if it means renouncing atheism and bearing the brunt of the fatwas issued against them by fellow atheists who regard them as traitors and apostates.

    I suggest you read Flew’s There is a God before you toss out any more baseless and unsupported claims such as these.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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