Are All Thinking Men Atheists?

Are All Thinking Men Atheists?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I think most of us know what a poster child is. A person who represents a cause, belief, or in some way exemplifies what one would expect concerning an organization or campaign. But in this day and age, what we come across on the Internet can be very deceiving. The above is one of the favorites that I have had hanging in my classroom for years.

Like the one with Abe Lincoln, many of these can bring a smile to our faces. But, after just a moment’s consideration, you realize President Lincoln was not alive when the Internet first sprang into being, so the quote, as wise and truthful as it is, obviously is false and misleading. 

Others are not so clearly false and misleading. For example, click on this poster: 

Who wouldn’t want such powerful, influential, and brilliant men in their corner? Are all these men atheists, as the poster suggests? 

Featured above:

Abraham Lincoln
Carl Sagan
Ben Franklin
Thomas Jefferson
Charles Darwin
Albert Einstein
Mark Twain
Ernest Hemingway

There is no denying that the world has produced brilliant men and women who are atheists. Still, the above poster is an absolute misrepresentation of believers in the ranks of atheism. When I saw this poster, I was more than surprised to see who was on it. So I began to look up quotes from a couple of the gentlemen, who, I was sure, were not atheists. 

Then after confirming my suspicions, I took the time to research everyone on the poster. I selected a few quotes from each one if only to make a point of their being manipulated to make a case for atheism. Some of these men may have been atheists, but most were not. At most, some could be called agnostic. [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic] An agnostic does not know or can’t decide if there is a God or not. 

As you will see below, some of these historical figures painted as atheists took offense. Some of the quotes I put in to place a smile on your face; Mark Twain’s quote about the monkeys is one. Others quotes are significant because of their clear vision of the future and what we can expect from the world. For example, the letter by Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed is so right on 168 years later; it is chilling.

Most of the quotes below are from America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations. Others from, There Is A God by Anthony Flew, an atheist turned theist in the last years of his life. Most of these men were theists, some agnostic, but only one was truly an atheist.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Our 16th president was nicknamed “Honest Abe.” He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater five days after the Civil War ended.

  • In 1846 Lincoln wrote this in response to a rumor that he was not a Christian, “That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures…”
  • In 1851 he wrote to his brother about their father’s illness, “I sincerely hope father may recover his health; but at all events tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great and good and merciful Maker…”
  • In 1851 he wrote a letter to Joshua F. Speed, “How can anyone who abhors the oppression of Negroes be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ Now we practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.”
  • When General Lee led an army of 76,000 men into Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. was panicking. Later, Lincoln related this to a wounded general in Gettysburg, “When everyone seemed panic-stricken..I went to my room…and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed…Soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands…”
  • On March 30th, 1863, President Lincoln issued a historic proclamation appointing a National Fast Day.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an astrophysicist, astronomer, author, and popular figure in science. He authored Contact, which was made into a popular movie in 1997, and narrated the television series Cosmos. In addition, he published hundreds of scientific papers and was a supporter of Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

  • He said, “An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”
  • In his book, The Demon-Haunted World, he wrote, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
  • In 1980 he wrote, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
  • In 1981 he said, “An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence.”
  • In reply to a question in 1996 about his religious beliefs, Sagan answered, “I’m agnostic.”

Ben Franklin (1706-1790) was an author, scientist, printer, and one of our nation’s founding statesmen. He had an annual publication titled Poor Richard’s Almanac. In this, you would find the following:

  • God heals, and the doctor takes the fees.
  • God helps those who helps themselves. [commonly misquoted as actual scripture]
  • Work as if you were to live 100 years; pray as if you were to die tomorrow.
  • In 1748 as Pennsylvania’s Governor Franklin proposed that state’s first fast day. “It is the duty of mankind on all suitable occasions to acknowledge their dependence on the Divine Being…”
  • In 1753 he wrote a letter to Joseph Huey, “I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren.”
  • Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography this prayer which he prayed every day. “O powerful goodness! Bountiful Father! Merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) He was an author, scientist, architect and the 3rd President of the United States.

  • In 1781 Jefferson made this statement, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
  • In a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, he wrote, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
  • In 1801 he wrote to Moses Robinson, “The Christian Religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.”
  • In 1805 Jefferson wrote in a National Prayer for Peace, “Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.”

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) Author of On the Origin of Species in 1859 and the theory of natural selection. He was one of the most influential scientists in history. He is buried in Westminster Abbey near Sir Isaac Newton.

  • In 1873 Darwin wrote to a Dutch student, “I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”
  • His son, Francis Darwin, shared in the book, The Life of Charles Darwin the following quote by his father, “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God.”
  • Reflecting on his work near the end of his life, he wrote, “I was a young man with uniformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything, and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion out of them.”
  • A few months before his death, Darwin was bedridden and often found reading. When one visitor asked what he was studying, he replied, “Hebrews, still Hebrews. The Royal Book, I call it.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Was a famous German-born American physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity, which led us into the atomic age. He received the Nobel Prize, and, I found out, he was offered the position of the President of Israel in 1952 but turned it down. Here are a few of his quotes. 

  • There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.
  • Einstein always protested against being regarded as an atheist. In a conversation with Prince Hubertus of Lowenstein, he declared, “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”
  • In the book Einstein and Religion, by one of Einstein’s friends Max Jammer, Einstein said, “I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910) His given name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but he came to be known as Mark Twain. Author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince, and the Pauper, and Joan of Arc. He was not an atheist, but there is no question he despised organized religion.

  • In 1869 Twain wrote Innocents Abroad, in which you could find the following, “It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in a book which is so gemmed with beautiful passages as the Bible…”
  • Mark Twain wrote, “I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed with the monkey.”
  • He also wrote, “One of the most astonishing things that has yet fallen under our observation is the exceedingly small portion of the earth from which sprang the new flourishing plant of Christianity. The longest journey our Savior ever performed was from here to Jerusalem, about one hundred to one hundred and twenty miles… Leaving out two or three short journeys, He spent his Life preaching His Gospel, and performing His miracles, within a compass no larger than an ordinary county of the United States…”

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American author of several classic American novels and honestly the only atheist in the above poster. He was seriously wounded as an ambulance driver in WWI and served in the Spanish Civil War. He authored For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He drank heavily and was married four times. 

In 1952 Hemingway was on a safari to Africa and was in two successive plane crashes that almost took his life. In 1961 after a long illness, he loaded his favorite shotgun, placed the barrel in his mouth, and blew his brains out. Hemingway is credited with the famous statement, “All thinking men are atheists.”

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 not God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. – Thomas Nagel, a professor at the New York University

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Are All Thinking Men and Women Atheists? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith?

Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Above image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

One thing I am never short of is Facebook posts that denounce Christianity for various reasons. Some posts slam the Christian God, calling Him an unforgiving, genocidal, jealous, racist bully, echoing Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion.((Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, Print.))

Others target scripture suggesting it was written hundreds of years after the life of Christ and is full of errors and contradictions. Again quoting Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.”1

Some even question if Christ was a real person, and many believe He was not an authentic historical figure. Frank Zindler, former director of the American Atheists gives us a glimpse at this, “So much for the evidence purporting to prove that Jesus was a historical figure. We have not, of course, proved that Jesus did not exist. We have only showed that all evidence alleged to support such a claim is without substance…”((Zindler, Frank. “Did Jesus Exist?” American Atheists, ND, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/did-jesus-exist/))

Then you have those who target the hypocritical behavior of Christians. For example, some who think they are quoting Gandhi write, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” which is not an actual quote from Gandi, but it was taken from another Indian philosopher. Nevertheless, the point is well made, Christians often don’t act like Christ despite wanting to and being told to be imitators of Him in scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:1 I certainly can relate to that, and most believers, if they are honest, will say the same.

Finally, others take a much broader path and paint most, if not all religions as foolishness and the cause of countless wars and misery.

These claims can be addressed and have been, but my focus in this post is the claim that science depends on reason and evidence while Christianity doesn’t.

Is the assertion true that Christianity is void or reason and evidence? Are Christians wishing on a star, following their heart, taking leaps of faith, or is their faith simply blind?

Let’s take a look at some examples in scripture. Luke states that his sources were ‘eye-witnesses,’ and he claims to have carefully investigated everything and is sharing them with Theophilus so he would be certain of the claims of the new Christians. Luke 1:1-4

In 1 Cor. 15:6, Paul practically dares anyone to check out his story. In I Corinthians 15, Paul lists six groups or specific individuals who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Peter, The twelve, the 500, James (younger brother of Jesus), all the apostles, and finally Paul himself.

Most of these eyewitnesses endured persecution, imprisonment, torture, and finally, death. Persecution was the norm, and it certainly was not something that would compel others to sacrifice their livelihood or life for what they profess. Yet, despite their willingness to lose everything, that does not validate their belief. I think of the 911 terrorists and their belief that 72 virgins awaited them in the afterlife. Yet what is so remarkable about the early Christian martyrs is not what they believed, but what they saw; the risen Christ. The early Christian martyrs died not for what they thought to be true but what they saw to be true. 

A story shared by Lee Strobel may help illustrate my point. In 1963 Addie Mae Collins was one of four African-American girls murdered in a church bombing by racists. She was buried in Birmingham, Alabama, and for years her family returned to visit her gravesite and leave flowers. Finally, in 1998 they made the decision to exhume Addie Mae so she could be reburied at another cemetery. However, when the workers began to dig, they discovered the grave was empty. The family was understandably shocked, and several possible explanations were considered as officials started to investigate what happened, but no one ever suggested was that Addie Mae was resurrected. Why? Because an empty grave does not constitute a resurrection. Eyewitnesses do that.

Other religions begin with someone having a private encounter or vision they share with others, not Christianity. We find another example in 2 Peter 1:16, where Peter explains they were eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ and His majesty. In addition, at the end of John, he explains the signs done by Christ in front of witnesses was so they might believe that he was the Son of God. John 20:30-31. Scripture is full of examples that rule out the impression that our faith requires giant leaps or blind loyalty. Neither does Christ Himself expect that of us.

For example, when John the Baptist was in prison and struggling with doubts, so he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the one they were waiting for. How did Jesus respond? He promptly healed the lame and cured the blind. He then told them to return to John and report what they witnessed. Luke 7:19-22 In fact, you will find that the Gospel of Luke holds most of the eyewitness details found in the New Testament.

Classical scholar Colin Hemer fact-checked the book of Acts (written by Luke) and found 84 facts confirmed by historical and archaeological research.((Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004, Print.)) Believing without evidence is what we call blind faith and nowhere in scripture are believers called to that kind of faith. John 14:9-11

The above examples are from scripture, but Christians are not limited to those examples to build their faith. Believers can find substantial evidence within the sciences. Just don’t expect science to answer all your questions. The fact is, science cannot answer all our questions and never will be able to.

Suppose my daughter-in-law Annie baked a cake. If we were to ship it to a lab for analysis, we would learn much about the cake. The biochemists could tell us what elements are within the cake. Mathematicians will spell out the weight, volume, and detailed dimensions of the cake. Physicists can break down the fundamental particles and explain what temperatures she baked it. But not one of them, or anyone in the scientific community could tell us why the cake was made; only Annie could answer that question. Natural sciences will answer questions about the structure and elements of the cake, but they could never answer any ‘why’ questions.

When you think about it, the laws of nature help us describe the universe, but they explain nothing. The fact that we have laws that govern our universe is one of those why questions that can’t be answered except by the one who made the laws. One of the first questions of the year I would ask my algebra students in Jr. High was, “Is mathematics invented or discovered?” I would leave them to ponder that throughout the year.

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, wrote, “…the fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse-square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.))

Those most critical of the Christian faith often don’t ever set foot in a church, let alone read or examine scripture. They don’t study the words of Jesus and try to apply the teaching to themselves, or how His words could apply to neighbors, friends, family, etc. It is so much easier to point out the faults and shortcomings of others than to take a hard look at ourselves and compare how we live our life to the commands of Jesus. The operative word is ‘try’ because we all fall short. Someone once said the church is a hospital for sinners, not a sanctuary for saints. We are all more comfortable playing the armchair general, pointing out the mistakes of those in the trenches and how they are delinquent in living a life like Jesus than applying His teachings to our own conduct.

Anthony Flew was a lifetime philosopher and atheist. Then in 2003, late in his life, he converted to a belief in God. He said he had to go where the evidence leads, and it was the complexity of DNA that was the deciding factor for Flew. John Lennox wrote concerning the idea of following evidence where it leads, “…there are situations where we shouldn’t just give up if explanations in terms of natural processes don’t work; we should be prepared to follow the evidence where it leads, even if that involves a supernatural dimension.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.)) But not all scientists adhere to that because of their prejudice to a concept of a being beyond the natural.

Richard Lewontin, who is a geneticist from Harvard, displays this attitude perfectly when he wrote, “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment…to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.))

Christians should never be afraid of science and what we can learn from it. The things that we learn about our universe, from the microscopic to the telescope, are often confirmed by the Bible when researched carefully. Science cannot answer all the questions we might have, but neither should the Bible be used as a science book. As we investigate our world, both science and theology should be used to complement and confirm how best we should live.

The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. – Galileo

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Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, Print. []
God’s Not Dead

God’s Not Dead

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Did you see the movie God’s Not Dead? I watched God’s Not Dead several years ago when it first came out. I returned a few days later to watch it a second time with my son and several of his friends. This time I took notes, as well as anyone can take notes in a dark theater.

If you have watched this movie or plan on watching it, then take a moment and read this. It will help explain some of the arguments used by both the atheist, Professor Radisson, and the Christian student, Josh Wheaton. This review (if you can call it that) is far from exhaustive in covering the logical fallacies and apologetic arguments, but it may be useful for the layman.

The Most Intelligent People are Atheists

The first argument Professor Radisson used when he walked into his philosophy class was to point to a list of famous, intelligent, if not brilliant, people who were all atheists. This is a logical fallacy called an appeal to authority. If you come up with a list of famous, educated, or influential people who support your cause, your cause must be essential and intellectually just.

Every year in politics, you see candidates endorsed by famous actors or actresses. They do this because the Hollywood spotlight holds a position of influence over us. If a famous actor or actress supports someone, more people will vote for that individual. Both the Republicans and the Democrats use a Hollywood face or well-known sports figure to promote their campaign. The fact that both sides take part in this should tell you something. It works.

Christians could also come up with a list of brilliant minds that believed in God or the Christian worldview. In popular culture, we have Tyler Perry, Ryan Gosling, Patricia Heaton, Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Martin Sheen, Angela Bassett, to name a few in the Hollywood circles. They all believe in God or profess to be Christians. We could also list those famous for their towering intellect. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Mendel, to name a few.

Appealing to authority can be persuasive, but it does not make something true. Even if everyone I listed above thought that the world was flat, it would not be true. And when Professor Radisson shows off a list of brilliant and famous people that were, or are, atheists, it does not make atheism true any more than the lists I offered make Christianity true.

The prompting is that only intelligent people are atheists, but you can see that is not the case. The suggestion is that science trumps faith, and that science and faith are at odds. Or more specifically, that knowledge and faith are on opposite ends of each other. Many atheists and even some Christians believe the less knowledge you have, the more faith you need. Please give it some thought. This is obviously not true; the opposite of faith is unbelief, not knowledge, and the opposite of knowledge is not faith, but ignorance. Throughout history and today, brilliant minds have excellent reasons and evidence for their faith.

Atheists do not have the market on knowledge, reason, and science. In my readings on apologetics, I have found tremendous support for my faith in Christ. As my knowledge has increased, so has my faith/confidence. As Josh researched the Christian worldview, no doubt his faith also increased.

I want to address two apologetic arguments Josh Wheaton used in the movie. This will help those watching the film for the first time understand the philosophy behind them. It is also important for every Christian to be familiar with them because they commonly come up when talking to skeptics or atheists.

The First Cause

The first argument Josh brought up was the Big Bang Theory.

In 1929, Edwin Hubble noticed what he called a ‘red shift’ in the color of very distant galaxies. This turned out to mean that the galaxies were moving away; in other words, the universe was expanding. Why is this significant? If we dial back time a thousand years, the universe would be smaller than it is today. If we were to go back a million years, it would be smaller still. So we could go back to the beginning and find the universe compressed into a single point that science calls a singularity. What caused this singularity? We call that God. As Greg Koukl puts it, to have a Big Bang, you must have a Big Banger.

Just a few years later, Albert Einstein came to peer through the telescope at the Wilson Observatory to confirm, at least in his own mind, the findings of Hubble. Since then, science has continued to confirm this, and the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted in the scientific community. 

I know many Christians that have been uncomfortable with this, but it plays into the hand of those who believe in God. Simply put, if the universe had a beginning, it must have been created. For centuries, scientists believed that the universe had always existed, but Genesis says, “In the beginning God created…”

One form of the cosmological argument is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and essentially it states the following premises and conclusion:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Someone might ask, “Then who caused God?” but God is an uncaused, eternal being. He stands outside of his creation, much like the author of a book stands outside of his novel. Time is inexorably tied to our universe, and God stands outside it. He is not bound by his creation any more than Thomas Kinkade is bound to live in one of his idyllic country cottage paintings.

Professor Hugh Ross, who has written several books on cosmology and lectured at over 300 campuses, wrote, “Consider the way parents prepare their children to explore and relate to the world and the rest of humanity. Step-by-step, as the little one matures, father and mother allow the world of exploration and relationships to expand. Likewise, according to the Bible, God will allow his children to move beyond their smallish playground (planet earth) into the expansive realm (the new creation) he always intended for them to experience and enjoy.”((Ross, Hugh. “Why Such a Lonely Universe.” Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, Baker Books, 2008, p.78))

Problem of Evil

Another argument Josh addressed is the problem of evil. The argument goes something like this: how can an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God allow evil? David Hume put it this way, “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

Let me ask you, what is your purpose in life? If you hold a Christian worldview, you must understand that your purpose in life is not your happiness but to commune with God. This life does not end with our last breath but spills over and opens up a door to an eternal ocean of God’s presence and love.

The old woman in the nursing home toward the end of God’s Not Dead spells it out nicely when she says to her son, “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble, because he doesn’t want them turning to God.”1 Some of you may have the same experience I do when I say the times I have been the most active in prayer are when I have been going through difficulty. No doubt many of you have experienced the same thing. How many have cried out to God when encountering a sudden life-threatening experience? In times of difficulty, most everyone recognizes we turn toward God, but sometimes the answer is no, and we suffer great pain or loss. For many of us, this brings us closer to God, and a greater understanding of the purpose to our life.

Timothy Keller wrote, “For many years, after each of the morning and evening Sunday services, I remained in the auditorium for another hour to field questions. Hundreds of people stayed for the give-and-take discussions. One of the most frequent statements I heard was, ‘Every person has the right to define right and wrong for himself or herself.’ I always responded to the speakers by asking, ‘Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behavior?’ They would invariably say, ‘Yes, of course.'”2

We are all free to do good, and we are all free to do evil. The same freedom allows us to do one or the other, but we could not measure evil without good. Without God, evil is just a behavior that some don’t enjoy, and it becomes a subjective feeling. 

Timothy Keller pointed out that without a grounding objective morality we get from God, then evil is just a point of view. If we each decide what is right and wrong, then evil is just a matter of opinion. 

Volumes have been written on the problem of evil, and it is one Christians should be familiar with because it can be one of the most challenging questions to answer when the suffering does not offer any rhyme or reason. 

See God’s Not Dead if you have not seen it. I would have enjoyed more classroom debate and apologetic arguments in greater detail, more character development. Still, it has raised awareness in Christians who might otherwise never have considered intellectual and philosophical arguments for their belief in Christ. 

Creative Commons License
God’s Not Dead by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. God’s Not Dead. Dir. Harold Cronk, Perf. Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper. Pure Flix Entertainment, 2014. Film []
  2. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print. []

Giant Bearded Ogre

Reading Time: 5 minutesDid you know that if a 4 year old boy full of testosterone and energy runs at you full steam it is best to keep an eye on him? Having raised 4 children, you would think that kind of detail would not have left my long term memory.

My wife and I serve every other Sunday teaching the 4 and 5 year old’s at church, and this past Sunday we took them out to the back playground for a bit. At least I think they are 4 & 5 year old’s. I think it says that on the door to our Sunday school room, and they are all about thigh high on me, which seems about right for a 4 & 5 year old child.

In my experience, I have found that if you let them run amok (I mean, left them play in an orderly, non-violent fashion) for a few minutes prior to sitting them at the table to do a craft, they seem to be this >< much more attentive. If you don’t understand my >< symbol, it refers to a very small amount, but when you are herding cats or dealing with 4 and 5 year old’s, any improvement with behavior, no matter how miniscule, even at the sub atomic level, is a blessing.

So, we were out in the back playground and I was playing the giant bearded ogre who wanted to eat small children. I was thoroughly enjoying the my part in the chaotic scene, when one of the boys, (who will remain unnamed until the law suit is public), decided it was time to kick this ogre ass. Can I say ass in a Christian blog? Anyway, I am still unsure what the switch was that triggered in his brain to move him from running in terror, fleeing for his very life, to suddenly become a warrior in the Lord of the Rings with a mission to kill all orks and ogre’s, especially ones that want to eat small children who are running amok during Sunday school.

I was chasing him, slightly bent over, with my arms reaching out Frankenstein style, when I heard a piercing scream from the left. One of the girls was announcing her presence in the usual way, by attempting to break any crystal wine glasses within a 2 mile proximity. I looked left and hesitated for a moment, thinking, once the deafening scream was over, she was a potential target, but then resumed my chase after the small boy. In the moment I looked left and hesitated, the small boy I was chasing had turned one hundred and eighty degrees ninja style and was charging full steam at me with his hand raised in an obvious attempt to rescue the young lady in distress.

He managed to run between my long Frankenstein arms and land a punch that would have rocked Goliath to his rear.

Please note, f you take a small boy’s fist and ram it into an adult male’s eye, it is just about a perfect fit for the eye socket. In fact, if given enough velocity, (my running forward and his running toward me), for a moment the small fist will actually take the position of the eyeball. One might ask, where the eyeball goes when a small child’s fist takes the eyeball’s rightful position. Honestly I am not sure, but I have this 2D image, (remember it was only one eyeball) of the inner workings of my brain. So I can only conclude that my eyeball moved with the same velocity from what it thought was its permanent position, (housed securely in my eye socket), to my brain.

If you think that is bizarre, I actually heard the squish of my eyeball being replaced with the fist of a small boy. I am not kidding! I actually heard it! The only thing I can think of which would be a comparable sound would be if you took off your shoes and socks and began to stomp excessively fat snails on your kitchen cutting board. I have not attempted to duplicate the sound in this manner, and I would not suggest any men try with your wife near by, but it should give you a visual hearing aid, (pun intended).

I never knew you could hear your eyeball squish. In fact, I never even wondered if an individual could hear their eyeball squish. I mean, who even thinks about those kinds of things? Thinking I could be on to some kind of valuable scientific discovery, I contacted the three top Biological Science Universities, (Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley) and described my experience, culminating in hearing the squish of my eyeball. Stanford and Harvard transferred me to the psychology department, but Berkeley encouraged me to apply.

What does this have to do with apologetics? Very little really, but tapping out this brief story helped me to forget the slight eye ache I have, and to encourage you to consider reading about apologetics. What is apologetics? Well, it is not apologizing for your faith. Apologetics stems from the Greek word ‘apologia’ which means, “to give a defense”.

Josh McDowell wrote, “One thing that has especially appealed to me is that the Christian faith is not a blind, ignorant belief but rather an intelligent faith. Every time in the Bible when a person is called upon to exercise faith, it’s an intelligent faith.

Christ was asked, ‘What is the greatest commandment of all?’ He answered, ‘To love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind.’

The problem with most people is that they seem to stop with their hearts. The facts about Christ never get to their minds. We’ve been given a mind innovated by the Holy Spirit to know God, as well as a heart to love him and a will to choose hm. We need to function in all three areas to have a maximum relation ship with God and to glorify him.”1

As I continue to read ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists‘, I am encouraged by what I have learned in the past two years. I recognize many of the logical fallacies and assumptions that are made within the book, and I also quickly realized had I not been studying apologetics for the past couple years, reading ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists’ would have seriously damaged my faith.

Boghossian wants to create ‘Street Epistemologists’. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and it is a play on Street Evangelists. Boghossian redefines faith as, “Pretending to know things you don’t know” 2 He makes the same mistake that many Christians do, placing faith against knowledge. As if the more knowledge you have, the less faith you need. For example, if you have 90% knowledge of something you are left with 10% faith. Then if you have 60% knowledge you now have 40% faith. But if you think about it, you gain faith by knowledge. The opposite of faith is not knowledge, it is unbelief, and the opposite of knowledge is ignorance.

I was ignorant to the dangers of chasing small boys, but my faith in the Christian world view is unshaken, despite the fact that a four year old boy can take me out.

Sources:
1. McDowell, Josh. The Best of Josh McDowell, A ready Defense. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993. Print.
2. Boghossian, Peter. A Manual For Creating Atheists. Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013. Print.

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