I and the rest of Christianity have lived off of the intellectual capital of our past fathers for far too long. The New Atheists have jarred many Christians out of their small faith and spurred them on to attaining a greater faith, one that is grounded enough to envelope evidences and the entire material world. For a while it was, and still is to a great degree, the Bible against the world. The problem was that our definition of the world included all of nature as well. God was against the world he created. God said one thing; the creation said another. The Christians went with God, the atheists and so-called heretics went with creation. But, just because we can discern a distinction between the two, however, doesn’t necessitate a separation. We, as Christians, need to stop thinking with the enlightenment’s “either/or” mentality and start thinking in the “both/and” mentality. The New Atheists have done a lot to disabuse us of the “either/or”. Thank God for that. It simply cannot be defended. But, there are still many of us who do not get it; so many who are still playing by the materialist’s rules and don’t even know it. So, to all you New Atheists out there, step up your game. Bring the game closer to home. Try to rid us of God. We need more of what you do, so that our spiritual muscles will once again begin to grow.
Do you think there a difference between the God that Christians worship and the God that is described in the Bible?
Richard Dawkins questions God:
“The cheetah is superbly equipped for killing gazelles. The gazelle is superbly equipped to escape from those very same cheetahs. For heaven’s sake, who’s side is the designer on? Is he a sadist who enjoys the spectator sport? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Is it really part of the divine plan that the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion eat straw like the ox? In that case, what price the formidable carnassial teeth, the murderous claws of the lion and the leopard? Whence the breathtaking speed and the agile escapology of the antelope and the zebra?”
It reminds me of a previous questioner of God:
“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
And yet I’m reminded of God’s questions:
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.”
You joyfully apply Old Testament laws to today’s society to show how ridiculous they are.
“If you worship other gods…then you get stoned to death.”
Does this apply to you? Do you fear stoning? No. These are obsiously not laws that apply to all times and all cultures. You have the same choice as any other man. God created man, gave him the ability to choose, and set a choice before him. “Of every tree in the garden you can freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Adam chose and we still choose today. The Christian should allow the same choice for every man, but he should still cling to the truth he knows and expel and refute the lies around him. If the truth purges, that’s great. But force shoudn’t be used unless there is a threat of imminent harm to freedom.
I know why you bring up stoning and other harsh laws in the Old Testament, and leave out the rest of the Bible in your assessment of God. That harsh part of God that demands perfection is hard to reckon with and is easy to reject as unreasonable. You know, if that’s all there was, no man could have hope. I urge you, don’t ignore the merciful and gracious side of God either. He has provided a way to bring us to himself without requiring us to follow a list of do’s and dont’s. Jesus is that way. Without him, our imperfection could never be reconciled with his perfection.
Ezekiel 14:4 …Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;
The man that has an idol in his heart looks at the world through the lens of self or some unbiblical ideology. If you believe in a naturalist philosophy, a false god, or believe in yourself more than God, and then seek truth when your heart will not take it, God will let you see what you want to see: error, contradiction, and discrimination. He answers you in your delusion. This is what happens when a skeptic tries to interpret the word of God. This is the condemnation of the world, that men love darkness rather than light. The serious student comes to God honestly seeking without a pretense in his heart. God gives his light to the latter man.
I wonder if your morality is the better morality. Morality for the atheist is undefined much like atheism has no real definition. Each atheist goes about living the way he sees fit. There is no atheistic code of ethics. Your morality starts from a sort of “ground up” scenario. All presupposed morality is dismissed as fabrication, and the morality that emerges is chosen by you to either benefit you or society. If it so happens to wrong someone in any way, then you consider dropping that particular moral standard or altering it so as to avoid contention. But, you can also reason that particular standard to be fair no matter what the consequences to the other person if it benefits society. Let us examine one such moral standard.
Society today decides when a proper amount of value for a human life is given to that life. The fetus has less value at a certain point than later when it has developed well enough to have obtained some human value. However, isn’t it more advantageous for the fetus to have the attribute of human worth at the moment of conception so it is less likely to be aborted? Don’t misunderstand me here. This conversation is not about abortion. It’s about morality.
Generally speaking, a higher moral standard is better than a lower moral standard. If we say there is no higher or lower standard, just a particular set of standards that I choose, then there was no real reason for World War II. Surely Hitler and the ethnic cleansing he was doing was considered wrong during that time period. And surely the way the Jews were treated could only have happened if a different set of morals were adopted by the Germans. By the same token, the married man who sleeps around with other women is considered to have lower moral standards. Be that as it may, even though we set moral standards for ourselves, we don’t keep them 100% of the time. No matter how low or high one’s morals may be, they aren’t always kept. However, keeping a higher standard is a preventative measure so that our margin of error won’t destroy us.
But, what are we really doing when we evaluate someone else’s moral standing? Is there not some imagined morality that is the best we could adopt? Are we not heading somewhere toward a better and better morality till we eventually get it right? If no perfect morality exists, then the whole idea of the evolutionary process is has lost its ground, for by it we should be continually improving and maturing. If not, what’s the point? And, what about the evolutionary imperative? It’s supposed to cause us to keep the traits that are good for reproduction and societal living. It seems, though, that we are not following the evolutionary imperative or the natural selection process when we continue the act of abortion. We don’t let the “natural” take its course. If you justify the act by saying that we are controlling overpopulation or honoring the rights of the woman, are we not overstepping our bounds here? Are we not taking on the role of evolution itself, and in a sense become impatient with it? It seems humans aren’t just content to be their own gods, but they want to control the evolutionary process as well.
The Christian’s morality is built with a “top down” scenario. We examine the morality found in the Bible, and perceive these standards are high. We may choose not to follow them, or even alter them in some way (indeed, some Christians support abortion), but the standards are always there. They are unchanging and unrelenting in their call for us to follow them. In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane. It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process. In fact, I challenge you to find a morality better than ones found in Biblical principles. (I’m not talking about the actions of individuals or groups recorded in the Bible, or orders from God confined to one point in time.) If, however, you can’t then you must logically conclude that the evolutionary process will eventually lead your morality to the become the same as the Christian standard. And should you not jump the evolutionary ship to join a more advanced one?
Have a look at atheistic morality in this video:
What is the Meaning of Life?
For the Christian, meaning is found when we give up the right to ourselves. Our meaning is insignificant compared to the worth of God. He is the only self-sustaining one. Meaning to us is found when we stop trying to find ourselves and seek after the person of God. His meaning is the greatest there is, and we can glory in him. I must decrease so that God may increase. Yet, when we try to put this meaning into words, words escape us, and all we can do is praise the God who is everything to us.
As humans, by naming something, we ascribe meaning to it. For those who are in his family, God has chosen a new name for each of us. (Rev 2:17, Rev. 3:12) We won’t know that name until we get to heaven. Although we try to look for our own meaning, it is actually ascribed by God and rooted in our new name. And though others may tell you what you mean to them, if God is increasing in your life, it is really God that they are finding any worth in. And what’s better, our new name is linked to God’s name, just like when you know a person better by knowing their first and last name. You then realize what family they belong to. Perhaps we will know our true meaning after God calls us by the family name.
My Uncle Mark recently died. Although, he was a drug addict for thirty years, he found victory over addiction the last years of his life. How do you measure a life lived? Most of his life would seem a waste to us as he lived in bondage as a slave to his own addictions. Yet, for those who have chosen to make God their God, he has made them a new person, and regardless of what Mark did, God made him a new person. He was still subject to the lusts and sins everyone else was subject to, but he had this treasure (his new person) in his flawed body so that the power of a changed life might be shown to be of God and not of him. The best we can do in this life puts us on our knees begging for forgiveness because we are not good enough. As the Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
I think it’s appropriate now to let Mark explain to you himself what happened to him:
“I tried to shave my dog’s neck today.”
“How did that turn out?”
“I discovered it’s a two man job.”
“Hmm… well my dog was sedated when her neck was shaved.”
“What is that all about? Can you just go out and buy sedatives? If so, I’d definitely get some.”
“Oh, no. My dog was having her vocal chords removed.”
“Ok, this is just getting weirder.”
“Well, In Montana, if three people complain about your dog barking, the city will take it away.”
“Ah, I see.”
“But I didn’t go through with it. I stopped the doctor at the last second. He was holding the knife in his hands when I called.”
“*Laugh* So, it was like Abraham and Isaac. ‘No, my son. Stop.’ I bet your dog was relieved.”
“I was just picturing Isaac waking up from sedation. ‘Father, I understand the knife and all, but why is my neck shaved?’”
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5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.