Atheists can believe whatever they want but they can’t deny that they need God

Good morning everyone! Here is a Throwback Thursday post from April of last year.

If you take a minute to scroll through the comments you should come away understanding why I no longer spend time endlessly entertaining skeptics.

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If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.”

I try to make to make the case, as many great atheist philosophers have done in the past, that the atheistic worldview is devoid of rhyme, reason, justice, meaning, and purpose.

I don’t write these things to win debates, to be right, or to prove that my religious beliefs are superior to others but instead to get people to think about the consequences of their atheism in a way they might not have before.

Atheism is not only a choice, it’s a bad one that disregards both our basic human needs and God’s desire for us to know Him.

We’re all given clues that prompt us to seek God.

We all wonder how the universe got here and why we ourselves are here.

We all wonder if there’s a larger meaning or purpose to life.

People can choose to act on these clues by praying and continuing to ask questions and look for answers.

Those who have exposure to Christianity can investigate it by talking with Christians, attending church, reading the Bible, etc. We continually make choices about whether we will seek God and draw closer to him or not: we choose to do right or wrong, to think and talk about God or not, to pray or not, etc.

These are the choices God will hold us accountable for.

As I said in the headline, atheists can chose to believe whatever they want, they have free will.

What they cannot do however is deny the fact that their choice does nothing to diminish the absolute truth that we all need God and need what only God can provide.

We Need: Wisdom

We all know that we lack knowledge. Many of us wish there was someone very wise and mature that we could confide in and ask advice of, but no human knows everything or has experienced much more than a century of life. Even the people we respect and think of as wise are busy with their own lives; we can’t interrupt them at any hour of the day or night and expect them to listen to all our problems.

God is of course omniscient and perfectly wise, but furthermore he is always available and willing to teach us wisdom (Jas 1:5, Mt 7:7-11). He’s also provided the Bible to teach us and help us make wise decisions, specifically books like Proverbs and the New Testament Epistles (letters) (Pr 1:1-7, Ps 119:98-100, 104-105).

We Need: Moral behavior

We all want to be better people, yet we know that we aren’t perfect and often do wrong. If we try to become better people on our own, we’ll inevitably fail. If we realize our limitations and turn to God for help, he is willing and able to enable us to overcome those limitations, resist temptation and do what is right (Rom 7:15-25)

We Need: Justice

Who hasn’t complained that life is unfair? Most of us want equality and justice in the world. We wish life were like the stories we read as children, where things turned out well for the heroes and the villains were brought to justice. Instead, we see the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and people in general continue to be selfish and apathetic.

God is the one who gave us this longing for justice, for he endowed us with consciences. He will ultimately give just punishment to those who deserve it (after giving them a lifetime on Earth to repent), and those who accept him will live in a place where there is no evil or suffering (Mt 13:41, Rev 21:1-4, 22-27).

We Need: Unconditional love and friendship

We want to be known and understood completely, and loved even if our deepest failings are revealed. Yet no human completely knows another, for everyone has things they don’t reveal to even their closest friends, and things they don’t even know about themselves. Likewise, no one is perfect, and no one can love another person perfectly.

God, who created us, knows each of us completely (Ps 139), and loves us enough despite knowing all the evil inside of us that he died for us (Rom 5:6-8).

We Need: Fulfillment

Nearly everyone has a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and many people say they’re happy without God. But what about fulfillment: an inner peace even in the midst of difficult circumstances, a certain knowledge of the meaning and purpose of one’s life despite one’s mortality, a true sense that our deepest needs have been met (as opposed to the temporary satisfaction of wealth, entertainment, success, praise, etc. that ultimately leaves one craving more)?

God created us for a purpose, and we will find fulfillment and peace when we do what he designed us to do, namely be in relationship with him and love and worship him. It was because of this fulfillment that Paul could write the letter to the Philippians, rejoicing while he was in prison and saying, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Php 4:12-13).

(h/t Rational Christianity)

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Categories: Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

79 replies

  1. If a person cannot figure out that murder and theft and rape is wrong at any time and in any culture, that person simply lacks empathy, and no Code of Moshe or Code of Hammurabi will suffice. But it remains to be shown that working on Saturday is a moral wrong, or eating pork is a moral wrong. For those questions, a book is required, since they are derived solely from Divine Commands, and are not ultimately rooted in “love thy neighbor as thyself”, which is empathy.

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    • Linuxgal,

      “If a person cannot figure out that murder and theft and rape is wrong at any time and in any culture, that person simply lacks empathy…”

      Are you saying these things are objectively morally wrong? If so, why?

      To your other point. The Old Testament mentions three kinds of laws (explained below) working on Saturday and eating pork are not and never were moral wrongs so I’m not sure why you mentioned them.

      Ceremonial Law: This type of law related to Israel’s worship. (Lev 1:1-13) The laws pointed forward to Jesus Christ and were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Though we are no longer bound to them, the principles behind the ceremonial laws, to worship and love God, still apply.

      Civil Law: This law dictated Israel’s daily living (Deut 24:10-11); but modern society and culture are so radically different that some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. The principles behind the commands are to guide our conduct.

      Moral Law: The moral laws are direct commands of God. A good example are the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17). The moral laws reveal the nature and will of God, and still apply to us today. We do not obey this moral law as a way to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.

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      • No, I am NOT saying there is such a thing as “objectively wrong” , that is the tenor of my argument, knowing something is wrong is an interior thing, made when a person identifies with the person they have wronged as another “I”, another self. For instance, KIng Saul knew it was wrong to kill a helpless captive like King Agag. Samuel said, no, a Divine Command overrides that subjective morality. I would have sided with Saul, since I too would not murder King Agag in cold blood, and I would not be sure Samuel’s command to do it was really God’s command to do it. All we have is Samuel’s word on that. As for the Ten Commandments being examples of moral law, you are in error, precisely because the Sabbath law, which Paul insists was nailed to the cross (Col. 2), is one of the ten.

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        • Linuxgal,

          So, is rape or torturing babies for fun objectively wrong? Using your own logic, you HAVE to say no.

          See what denying objective morality always does?

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          • I admit that nothing is “objectively” wrong, because, as I said, I have empathy, and know something is wrong for the same reason King Saul felt it was wrong to kill King Agag. Only someone with sociopathic tendencies lacks the empathy to know something is wrong and needs to fall back to a divine command.

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          • This has nothing to do with divine command (I don’t believe in DCT btw) so stop changing the subject.

            Are rape and torturing babies for fun objectively wrong?

            What about atrocities committed in the name of religion, say beheadings?

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          • Nothing is objectively wrong, it always depends on your point of view. Sometimes people pray that God doesn’t hit their coastal town with a hurricane. If the hurricane shifts, then they praise God for being so good, unfortunately the storm merely hits another town.

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          • Linuxgal,

            Without an objective standard, how can you even say empathy is objectively a good thing? Is having no empathy objectively wrong or bad? If a person told you they lacked empathy, could you even judge them? If so, how?

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          • I don’t say empathy is a good thing, I say empathy is the basis for determining my values.

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          • Is empathy a good thing?

            Do you think everyone ought to base their “values” on empathy?

            Are you using the word “values” so you don’t have to use “morality?”

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          • Julian Baggini: “If there is no single moral authority [i.e. no God] we have to in some sense ‘create’ values for ourselves … [and] that means that moral claims are not true or false… you may disagree with me but you cannot say I have made a factual error.”

            Richard Dawkins: “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose [i.e. no God], no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Dawkins concedes: “It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.”

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          • Rather than interpreting morality as the result of negotiations between members of a large group of free moral agents, moral naturalism sees morality as an emergent phenomenon arising as an unintended side-effect of the interaction of those agents in smaller groups. In other words, morality is not to solve a single problem but a number of recurring problems, in the same manner that natural selection adjusts populations of organisms for changing environmental conditions. This puts moral facts in a class with natural facts about the world, which contradicts the assertion of divine command theory that morality is defined by the arbitrary revelation of a supernatural God that may or may not exist.

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  2. The term you are looking for , James, is reciprocity.

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  3. Good heavens’ un-banned again?

    Extremely pleased – and, I’ll be honest , surprised – to read you do not believe in DCT.
    This sets you apart from most ( if not all) fundamentalists.
    How do you deal with this, internally, especially in the Old Testament where we read your god telling Joshua for example, ‘Kill em all!’ ( to paraphrase)
    In this I am genuinely fascinated to read your answer.

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    • Ark,

      One of your pals just wrote a post in which he linked to me.

      The post started out with a very extreme example of someone who believes in DTC. So extreme, in fact, it’s hard to believe anyone actually believes it

      Anyway, this is the DTC caricature, I think, people like you need to make us “dumb as soup” Christians out to also be immoral because we will automatically believe everything God says/does is good just because God says/does it. This misrepresents God, Christians, and DTC.

      The divine command theory is the position that an action is good or bad based on whether or not it is commanded by God. Therefore, to do what is good is to do what God commands. This position presents the problem that an action is good merely because God commands it is good and bad because He commands that it is bad. The problem would then be that God could arbitrarily say murder is good and honesty is bad, which in turn would mean that nothing is really intrinsically right or wrong. Instead, morality would be purely subjective and relative based on God’s arbitrary declarations.

      The divine command theory is faulty because it does not properly represent the Biblical position that God is not arbitrary. He works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). In addition, God speaks out of the abundance of his heart (Matthew 12:34). Therefore, it would follow that what is morally right is not arbitrary but is that which is revealed by God as a reflection of His character.

      The advantage of basing morality on God’s character is that we would then have an absolute and objective moral standard, namely, that which is revealed by God that is based on His holy character. It would further mean that we are held accountable by God for what we do. This is exactly what the Scriptures teach us.

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      • So how do you justify/explain Joshua’s actions, which are commanded by your god?

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        • First off Ark, let’s nail down how you explain them, OK?

          “God is an evil despote who commands the needles killing of innocent people, including children.”

          Agree? Yes or no?

          All I want is a yes or no.

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          • Thanks for the answer.

            If that is what you think of God then it naturally follows that you have issues with God ordering Joshua and his people to kill every man, woman and child in Canaan? I mean really, what crime could be so great that entire populations of cities were designated for destruction?

            A valid concern if the reasoning used to get there wasn’t a presupposition that God is horrible, which isn’t the case at all.

            God told Moses that the nations that the Hebrew were replacing were wicked. But, how “wicked” were these people?

            The Bible tells us that they were burning their own sons and daughters in sacrifices to their gods. So we see that these people were not really innocent. For these reasons (and others), God ordered the destruction of the peoples whom the Israelites dispossessed.

            OK. But what about the children and other “innocents?” Surely God could have spared the children, right?

            Problem here is that we tend to assume that children are innocent, even if their parents are doing bad things but this assumption is sometimes unfounded.

            For example, Palestinian Muslim children are officially taught in grammar school to hate their Jewish neighbors. They are so well indoctrinated that some of them give up their lives in suicide bombings as children. Corruption literally does breed corruption, which is why God did not want the Hebrews tainted by the other corrupt cultures of the Middle East.

            Yes, God killed and commanded killing in the OT. But reducing this to “God kills therefore killing is moral” is a distortion of what actually happened.

            If you read the Old Testament with the presupposition that you don’t think the God of Christianity is worthy of worship and/or read it to find ways to shore up your disbelief, it’s easy to make a seemingly coherent appeal that the OT God is simply awful.

            Consider, for example, the amount of killing that that took place either by or in the name of God.

            While it is true that God intentionally killed many people in the OT, it’s important to understand that God never accidentally does anything. That being the case, there is always, although we might not fully understand it, a reason for His seemingly objectionable actions.

            As nearly everyone knows, to kill and to murder are two different things. Murder is the premeditated, unlawful taking of a life, while killing is, more generally, the taking of a life. Biblically, the same Law that forbids murder permits killing, for example, in self-defense (Exodus 22:2).

            In order for God to commit murder (and therefore be the unjust and immoral being many believe He is), He would have to act unlawfully. You must recognize that God is God. His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. He is a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He (Deuteronomy 32:4; see also Psalm 11:7; 90:9). He created man and expects obedience (Exodus 20:4-6; Exodus 23:21; 2 John 1:6).

            The main objection for most people is that executing innocent is, in fact,  murder so when God wipes out whole cities, kills, or directs killing, He is committing an unlawful therfore immoral act.  This seems like a reasonable objection on its face but, is it?

            If one searches the Scriptures they will find no examples of God killing innocent people. In fact, compared to God’s holiness, there is no such thing as an innocent person at all. As the Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23a).

            In other words, and even though it might be hard for us to understand, God always has a just reason to do everything He does.

            “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”

            – Isiah 55:8

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          • If that is what you think of God then it naturally follows that you have issues with God ordering Joshua and his people to kill every man, woman and child in Canaan? I mean really, what crime could be so great that entire populations of cities were designated for destruction?
            A valid concern if the reasoning used to get there wasn’t a presupposition that God is horrible, which isn’t the case at all.

            Wrong. Categorical mistake before you are even out the gate.
            I assume nothing. I rely on evidence. The evidence based on the described action of Yahweh demonstrates he is a despotic, capricious, megalomaniacal maniac.
            And you have previously said you don’t support DCT and now you appear to be attempting to defend it?
            Let’s clarify this before we move along shall we?
            And please bear in mind, James, that the Pentateuch is regarded as historical fiction by all but fundamentalists and those still ignorant of the evidence. I am only doing this as an exercise, and to raise some sort of awareness among such unfortunate ignorant people who actually do believe these things as described in the bible happened, okay?

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          • Ark,

            I expained killing in the OT and you simply dismissed my explanation because you presuppose that God is a despotic, capricious, megalomaniacal maniac.

            Also, how can you say I am defending DTC when I clearly stated and explained why I don’t support it? This brings me back to my original assertion that you and your buddies need dumb as soup caricatures you can set up as straw men.

            Bash on me and Wally all day long, scream from the rooftops that the Pentatuch is fiction…nothing you do makes your arguments more valid.

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          • Once again you are putting the cart before the horse.
            Please read carefully.

            I assume nothing. I read first then make a judgement call afterwards.

            Are we clear on this point, James?

            I approach every aspect of the bible with exactly the same modus operendi and have done from the word go.

            No; this is not exactly true as in the beginning I too assumed at least that the main characters in the Pentateuch: Moses Joshua etc were real people.

            You, on the other hand, are an indoctrinated fundamentalist. You have been conditioned to believe that scientific evidence does not supersede the biblical texts even when it so obviously refutes them.

            You have been conditioned to believe your god is perfect therefore when you read the bible you will find, through hermeneutics and various forms of exegeses, a way to arrive at this assumption.
            Wally confirmed this by admitting he became a Christian knowing relatively little about the bible and only after conversion did he state that he had begun what he presumes is a lifelong study of the texts.
            Do you fully understand what this means?
            He already had a presuppositional worldview before he even opened the bible.
            Thus to now backtrack means he could not be a Christian and his confession is rendered meaningless.
            Do you see what this would do to any self proclaimed Christian?

            Do you fully realise this is all about faith and nothing to do with evidence?

            And you too start from the perspective in exactly the same frame of mind: that your god is perfect so why would he commit genocide? And this is the function of apologetics: to find a way of explaining these utterly heinous acts so as the Christian can sleep easy at night.

            A great many deconverts cite these texts and similar ones of horrendous callous, violence as the tipping point for their deconversion.

            And there is a very good reason why these texts jar with one’s most basic sensibilities.
            Why they create dissonance and a feeling of revulsion.
            Because they are morally repugnant and one needs no deity to understand why.

            Once this feeling sets in and empathy begins to reassert itself, people often start a process of deconversion, rather than continue to deal with the distasteful machinations of Christian apologetics.

            Now me, I read it and afterwards based on the evidence can state with a clear conscience that Yahweh is a capricious , egotistical megalomaniac.

            I do not approach the bible arse about face.
            You do.

            For you to arrive at an honest appraisal of the text you have to be prepared to suspend your bias. Put your faith on the shelf for a short while and simply read the texts like a normal person.

            Until then you will be trapped in this fake world suffering from cognitive dissonance where you are forced to compartmentalize in order to function as a fairly normal individual.

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          • Ark, Ark, Ark,

            All I see here is bloviating, denial, and insulting me and Wally.

            Let’s take your assertion that I disregard the “fact” that science refutes the Bible, for example. An assertion you make because you havr to believe that Christians are science hating rubes.

            Why is it I can do a post on science and Christianity and you just ignore it?

            Views on the relation of science and faith cluster around three basic schools of thought. First, science and faith are perceived to be at war with one another. This is one of the tenets of New Atheism and is also prevalent in some fundamentalist religious groups. Second, science and faith are thought to belong to different domains of human experience and inquiry. Thus they are able to coexist peacefully—so long as they remain separate from one another. A prominent example of this view would be what evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould called non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA).1 The third camp is the most diverse and arguably the most interesting. If science and faith are neither 1) enemies warring with each other, nor 2) strangers ignoring each other, then the logical alternative is that 3) they are some sort of friends aiding each other.2

            A variation of this third view is closest to the Christian perspective of the relationship between science and faith. This Christian view differs from NOMA; within the Bible, no one corner of reality can be neatly separated from all others. Science and faith will have necessary points of overlap, because both seek truth and truth is one.

            Thus the Bible routinely makes claims about matters of faith—such as the existence and nature of God—on the basis of the natural world: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”3 “God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

            The Christian view also stands in contrast to warfare models of science and faith. In Christian thought, all pursuits of knowledge—including the pursuit of knowledge about the natural world (what we today call science4)—are important and noble enterprises.5 But Christians emphasize that scientific knowledge in and of itself is value neutral. For example, science can be used to design bombs as easily as to defuse them, to spread disease as well as to heal it.

            In Christian thought, knowledge is always governed by a larger worldview or philosophy or faith, whether of the religious variety or not.6 Christianity thus affirms a harmonious relationship between science and faith in which a certain kind of priority is reserved for faith.

            The Value of Knowledge
            The Bible’s creation narrative repeatedly affirms the goodness of all that God has made, and the New Testament portrays God’s creative work as extending to both what is seen and what is unseen.7 Historically, many religions valued mind more than matter, or matter more than mind. The biblical worldview is relatively unique for its unblushing affirmation of the goodness of both mind and matter, both rational and material. Thus wherever Christians have gone, they have founded hospitals and schools.8

            Given this foundation, it is not surprising that many of the originators of modern science were Christians.9 Unlike a few prominent contemporary scientists, these pioneers did not fear that belief in a God beyond nature would hinder their observations about nature. Instead, their religious convictions grounded and encouraged their scientific pursuits, providing a kind of stability in which to conduct scientific experiments. After all, if a rational God created a rational universe, it follows that other rational beings could discover its rationality.

            Johann Kepler is famous for claiming that science is thinking God’s thoughts after him. This statement could be broadened into a kind of manifesto for the Christian view on all rational activity and intellectual pursuit. If a rational God exists, then when human beings consider an idea (say the number 11, or a triangle, or the notion of justice), they are not conjuring up something of their own mental construction, but stumbling upon something real and solid that eternally predates them in the mind of God.

            Thus, for the Christian, thought and intellectual discovery are intrinsically valuable, not merely instrumentally valuable. Seeing truth—about anything—is like examining God’s footprints or walking into a room he left just moments before. Theism furnishes all intellectual pursuit with optimism and meaning and context. As C. S. Lewis put it, “thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth.”10

            According to the Bible, human beings are created in God’s image, which includes a capacity for curiosity, reasoning, and learning, among other things.11 When King Solomon asked God for wisdom, God was pleased and granted him understanding of trees and animals—the natural world—among other things.12 The Bible places great value in the acquisition of knowledge and understanding: “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”13

            Even while it affirms the life of the mind, however, the Bible warns against intellectualism and any attempt to discover the ultimate meaning of life through the cumulative accrual of knowledge. King Solomon, whom we mentioned earlier, is held to be the traditional author of the biblical book of Proverbs, which extols the value of wisdom. However, he is also held to have written a book called Ecclesiastes, which warns that, by itself, wisdom is no remedy to the futility of life in a fallen world and the certainty of death. Consider these verses:

            “I said to myself, ‘Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’ Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” —Ecclesiastes 1:16–18
            “For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; 
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
 Like the fool, the wise too must die!” —Ecclesiastes 2:16
            “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” —Ecclesiastes 12:12

            For Christians, then, knowledge has great value, but it is not the meat and drink of life, nor the ultimate answer to life’s ultimate riddles. In science, however, knowledge is key.

            Has Science Replaced God?
            At the very end of his fascinating book A Brief History of Time, after outlining the search for a grand unified theory that explains the entire universe, Stephen Hawking says this:

            Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to the bother of existing?14

            Many people in contemporary culture have come to think that the more science advances in explaining the universe, the less need there is for a God. Carl Sagan once said, “As science advances, there seems to be less and less for God to do. . . . Whatever it is we cannot explain lately is attributed to God. . . . And then, after a while, we explain it, and so that’s no longer God’s realm.”15

            But Hawking’s statement exposes the superficiality of this perspective: Even if we could exhaustively understand everything that happens in the physical universe, we would still have to face the larger philosophical questions. Why is there a universe in the first place? What makes its laws and gives them their consistency?

            In the Christian view, since science studies the natural universe and the biblical understanding of God situates him outside the natural universe, advances in science will never displace God. On the contrary, scientific advance makes the possibility of God more intriguing and more urgent. Greater knowledge about how the universe works makes more pressing the further question of why it works that way—and why it is here at all. Expecting scientific advance to displace the need for a Creator is like getting two-thirds of the way through Hamlet and expecting the ending of the play to displace the need for Shakespeare.

            How Old Is the Universe?
            One reason people often perceive science to be at odds with faith is the common misconception that the Bible teaches that the universe is just a few thousand years old. In reality, the Bible makes no claims about the age of the universe, and most thoughtful Christians have no difficulty accepting the scientific evidence that the universe is much, much older.16

            Evidence for an older earth is not limited to radiometric dating. Everywhere we look we find evidence of an older earth and an even older universe. The very light we see from many of the stars in our sky comes from millions of light years away and, using powerful telescopes, we can see light from galaxies billions of light years away.

            There is nothing in the Bible that contradicts this data. When we approach a passage in the Bible—say, Genesis 1—with a contemporary question in mind, it is easy to overextend the text’s meaning, or apply it to issues it was never intended to address, or impose later categories of thought onto it that would be foreign to the original writer and readers. The Genesis 1 creation narrative is not a technical, scientific report written to resolve modern origin debates. Rather, the creation narrative was written—part and parcel with the stories that follow it—to the first- and second-generation Israelites about to enter the land of Canaan in order to explain to them their identity as the covenant people of the God of the whole world. The main point is this: “You know the God who just led you out of Egypt and gave you his law? Well, he’s no tribal deity! He is the Creator God of the whole world.” To make this point, the author of the text employs a literary device (or framework) in which he compares God’s creative work to a human workweek.17

            Believing in the truthfulness of Scripture is not tantamount to believing that the days of Genesis 1 are 24-hour periods, or even that they are sequential—no more than believing in the truthfulness of Psalm 104:5 is tantamount to believing in geo-centrism. We must interpret the Bible according to its original intended meaning.

            Evolution
            One of the focal points of debate concerning science and faith is the question of human origins. However, the common antithesis between the terms can be misleading. “Creation” and “evolution” are not parallel, mutually exclusive theories of origins. In fact, nearly every advocate of intelligent design (ID)—from the Bible-thumping fundamentalist to an accomplished scientist like Francis Collins—acknowledges that evolution is one mechanism of creation. Some think evolution can explain almost everything; others believe it explains very little; and a good number, such as myself, fall somewhere in between.

            In our setting, however, the word “evolution” is often used to refer not merely to a biological process, but to an all-encompassing philosophical worldview that everything can be explained by random mutation and natural selection. In this sense, “evolution” is indeed an alternative to creation, because it defines the entire process as random and unsupervised. In fact, in 1996, the National Association of Biology Teachers defined evolution as an “unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process.”18

            While basically all theists accept the notion of evolution as change over time, no thoughtful theist can accept this more technical definition of evolution, because no theist believes the story of life is an “unsupervised” process. In this light, we can see that the ultimate divide is not between creation and evolution per se, but between teleological accounts of origins (which may assign a greater or lesser role to evolution) and blind, chance accounts of origins. The real divide is philosophical, not mechanical. The Christian faith is nowhere at odds with the notion that species adapt over time. But it does affirm that, whatever process God employed for different things, all things are created by the purposeful intention of God. The Bible is pro-science, but it does oppose the philosophical naturalism implicit in much of contemporary Western scientific thought.19

            Different Christians fall in different places on the “How much can evolution explain?” spectrum. Personally, I find it impossible to fathom how naturalistic causes could account for, say, the first cell. When it comes to supposing further that love, reason, and my favorite pieces of literature all came about ultimately via randomness and chance, I’m completely engulfed with incredulity. Yet this view is the logical conclusion of the reigning paradigm among much of the current scientific establishment.

            Intelligent Design
            In fact, it is often claimed that intelligent design is not really science at all, but creationism in disguise. But ID is only not science if science is limited to that which has naturalistic, random causation. But this is a rather restrictive definition of science that is not itself based on any empirical observations of the world. This is not the definition of science under which Newton or Kepler or Einstein worked, nor is it clear why intelligent causes must be out of bounds in order for something to be studied scientifically.

            Opponents of ID often claim that there is no real debate among scientists about evolution; they claim that ID is really “pseudo-science” that no credible scientist takes seriously. But this is simply wrong. There are a growing number in the scientific community with strong academic credentials who question whether naturalistic evolution can explain all the facts—Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells, and David Berlinski, to name a few. There is only no debate if you dismiss one side as nonexistent. Though it may be a lopsided debate, to claim that there is none is simply untrue.

            Robust debate between proponents of the intelligent design movement and advocates of philosophical naturalism should be encouraged. If the truth is really as obvious as some voices claim, then debate should settle it fairly clearly. But labeling one side “pseudo-science” seems more likely to reinforce divisions than engender mutual understanding. Whether ID is right or wrong, people should be given all the facts, hear all the arguments, be free to ask any questions, and follow the evidence wherever it leads. This is the essence of free academic inquiry. The potential philosophical or religious implications of a viewpoint should not preclude any findings. 

            For example, take the genesis of the first cell, or the sudden diversification in the fossil record known as the Cambrian Explosion. Scientists are not in agreement as to how one explains these phenomena. In the face of this uncertainty, why shouldn’t we consider all possibilities, regardless of their potential implications? Aren’t open-mindedness and a willingness to question the status quo at the heart of the spirit of true science? Isn’t this what allowed Darwin to do what he did in the first place?

            Adam and Eve
            But what about the Bible’s teaching on Adam and Eve? Some Christians believe in a literal Adam and Eve living in a literal Garden of Eden. Others read the Bible figuratively and believe that Adam and Eve were not real people. There are several reasons, however, to take the Genesis account of Adam and Eve very seriously.

            First of all, while Genesis 1:1–2:3 is quasi-poetic, Genesis 2:4 and following is a narrative of the same genre as the rest of the book of Genesis and much of the Pentateuch.20 It was clearly intended to be as historical as the story of Abraham in Genesis 12 was. Moreover, the Apostle Paul placed great emphasis on Adam as a parallel figure to Christ in his theology.21 If there was no Adam, much of his argument in these chapters would break down, just as it would if Christ were not a historical figure. Furthermore, if we abandon a historical Adam and Eve, we have some pretty thorny theological questions to face: At what point did the soul develop—if it did? When did evil enter the human race, and with it human death?

            Moreover, believing in Adam and Eve as historical individuals is not necessarily at odds with all forms of evolution. An increasing number of Christians are advocating various accounts of how the creation of Adam and Eve might fit together with the existence of other hominids.22 Meanwhile, the great value of the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2–3 is not dependent on the precise relation of Adam and Eve to modern science. Regardless of how all the details are interpreted and what harmonization with modern evolutionary theory may be required, Genesis 2–3 provides answers to some of the most important questions concerning our existence—including our awareness of right and wrong, our sense that something has gone terribly awry with the human race, and our recurring desire for redemption.

            In his commentary on the book of Genesis, Derek Kidner makes the following observation:

            The accounts of the world [of science and Scripture] are as distinct (and each as legitimate) as an artist’s portrait and an anatomist’s diagram, of which no composite picture will be satisfactory, for their common ground is only in the total reality to which they both attend. . . . [Scripture’s] bold selectiveness, like that of a great painting, is its power.23

            To put what I am trying to say in Kidner’s terms: We don’t need to figure out the anatomist’s diagram in all its details in order to appreciate fully the artist’s portrait.  Whatever that anatomist’s diagram may or may not show, the artist’s portrait already rings true to the human heart and conscience and sufficiently says what must be said, theologically, about human origins. Its bold selectiveness is its great power.

            The Cosmological Argument
            There are a number of testimonies to the reality of God within the natural order. For the sake of time and space, let’s consider just one of them. It is perhaps the most basic and intuitive reason for believing the universe requires a Creator, and it can be broached by asking one of the most basic and important questions ever asked: Why is there something rather than nothing?

            The cosmological argument states essentially this: “1) Everything that exists has a cause of its existence.
 2) The universe exists.
 Therefore, 
3) The universe has a cause of its existence.”24

            Modern cosmology has that the universe is not eternal nor absolute. Space and time are relative and interdependent; the space–time universe is finite and contingent. In light of the kind of universe we seem to find ourselves in, the most obvious question to ask is simply this: Where did it all come from? If it hasn’t always been here, how did it come to be?

            According to standard Big Bang cosmology, the universe came into being out of nothing roughly 13 billion years ago. Before this event, there was absolutely nothing—not even empty space. It’s impossible to conceive of real nothingness. When we try, we usually think of blackness or darkness, but blackness and darkness are each something—the opposites of light and color and whiteness.

            To suppose that the Big Bang simply went “bang” and arbitrarily popped the universe into existence from nothing is, ironically, quite a leap of faith. It goes against every natural intuition we have—the very intuitions which drive the scientific enterprise. There must be something “behind” the universe, so to speak. There must be a cause.

            In a notable 2009 debate with William Lane Craig at Biola University, Christopher Hitchens responded to Craig’s cosmological argument (the Kalam version)25 with the standard reply: If everything needs a cause, what caused God? Who designed the Designer? But this misses the point. The cosmological argument does not argue that everything needs a cause. It says that everything that begins to exist needs a cause. All finite, contingent reality needs a cause. God, by definition, is a different kind of reality—necessary and eternal and uncaused. One can certainly deny that such a reality exists, but then the thing being denied is understood to be the uncaused Causer, the unmoved Mover. Asking who caused him is a category mistake; it’s like asking, “How long is eternity?” or “How big is infinity?” The whole point of the cosmological argument is to demonstrate the need for an Uncaused Cause—something outside the system.

            Whether the cosmological argument gets you to a personal Creator is less obvious. But it suggests there is some kind of cause, and it certainly opens the door to the possibility that this cause is a personal God. After all, I would argue that it would be quite surprising if the cause of the universe were less than personal, beautiful, and intelligent, since the universe contains persons, beauty, and intelligence. Effect is generally not greater than the cause.

            Einstein’s God
            One of the most interesting and open-minded perspectives on the intersection of science and faith was that of Albert Einstein. In his celebrated 2007 biography of Einstein, Walter Isaacson devoted one chapter to Einstein’s religious views, entitled “Einstein’s God.”

            Einstein could be a called a kind of mystical Deist. Let me explain what I mean by this. Einstein was a Deist; he believed in an impersonal “God” who structured the universe but does not intervene in it or take interest in humans. For example, he once said, “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God, who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”26 Yet his beliefs were also mystical; he frequently relapsed into personal language when talking of God, and his sense of reverence before the immensity of “God” seemed to border on religious sentiment. Einstein said several things that reveal this. To name just a few:

            “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”27
            “Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance by an invisible player.”28
            “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable.”29

            Whatever label we give to Einstein’s point of view, it’s clear that he has nothing of the science-has-disproved-God mentality so common among contemporary scientists. While he certainly rejected the idea of a personal God as this ulterior force, he did not do so on scientific grounds.

            In an interview with George Viereck just before Einstein’s fiftieth birthday, Einstein answered two important questions very directly:

            Viereck: You accept the historical existence of Jesus?

            Einstein: Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.

            Viereck: Do you believe in God?

            Einstein: I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. 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.30

            Wisdom Entered the World
            The Christian view finds much to affirm in Einstein’s perspective. The metaphor of a child in a vast library is indeed appropriate for our relation to God, given our smallness and frailty when compared to reality. But the Bible claims there is more to be said about the whole matter. To pick up the metaphor, the Bible claims that the Librarian showed up, walked over to the child, and offered to explain the meaning of the books.

            According to the Bible, what is whispered and hinted at in the stars above is proclaimed in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”31 The central message of the Bible is that the God who made everything has become a part of his creation in the person of Christ. In Christ, he is revealing himself to the world—and, what’s more, reconciling the world to himself. There is a friendly Librarian walking around the library.

            Suppose for a moment that, at least hypothetically, something like God exists—an infinitely beautiful and loving Person who made the world. Where might this God reveal himself? Where on the grid might he show up? The Christian view is that God has hidden himself in our world. The Bible claims that “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”32 That means that if we want to find God, we have to be willing to look where we would least expect him. In the Christian view, God did not come with pomp and parade, with accolades and audience. No, he arrived in a small, unimportant place—a dirty manger in a small village, to be precise.

            The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation—the notion that God became man—has extraordinary implications for the (otherwise understandable) skepticism implicit in Einstein’s metaphor. It means that if we want to understand this vast library, we don’t need to learn how to read all the languages; we need only to seek out the Librarian.

            The God who made everything has come very close to us. The Highest One took the lowest place. He not only descended down into a manger but ultimately onto a shameful cross, dying in love for the forgiveness of our sins. That is where the Maker of Einstein’s vast library is found. “I live in a high and holy place,” God said, “but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit.”33

            Dealing with Doubt
            Perhaps as you read this article, you are struggling with doubts about faith. Maybe your doubts are related to scientific issues; maybe they are related to something more personal. Maybe both. Either way, here are a few pieces of advice.

            Doubt your doubts.
            All doubts are based on some alternative faith. For example, imagine I say, “A real God would never hide himself; he would be obvious to see.” I’m making a statement based on what I believe God must be like. How do I know that proposition is true? Put simply, I don’t.

            Bring your doubts into the light and interrogate them, just as they are interrogating your faith. Let it be a fair fight. Many doubts that initially feel significant crumble on closer investigation of their hidden premises.

            Examine your doubts.
            Issues of doubt are never merely intellectual. In the Bible, faith and obedience are always connected. Struggles of faith are often related to struggles of obedience, and struggles of obedience are often related to struggles of faith.

            Don’t assume the best way to overcome your doubt is to have it answered on an intellectual level. If you’re open to it, pray. Ask God to help you. Do your best to live in response to the light he has already given you, and he will show you the next step.

            See your doubts in context.
            Sometimes we get so bogged down because of one question that hasn’t been answered that we forget about all the other questions that have been answered. The right inquiry is not, “Do I have all my questions answered?” You never will. The better question is: “Do I know enough to trust God?”

            Where have you seen God already at work in your life? What evidence do you already see of him? See your doubts in context, and then make an informed decision based on everything you see.

            A Final Note
            One night during my college years I was up late in the dorm’s computer lab, wrestling with doubts about my faith as a result of some science and philosophy courses I was taking. I remember vividly what it felt like to struggle with doubt. It is quite an unnerving experience—like when you get dizzy and the floor starts shifting under your feet, or when you watch The Sixth Sense for the first time, or when something compels you to wonder suddenly if someone you’ve always trusted is actually untrustworthy. If you’re struggling with doubt, you know what a painful, jarring experience it can be.  

            In the throes of it, I had a breakthrough and wrote out the following in my journal. I go back to this passage again and again. I share it in the hope that it might help you:

            Why does anything exist at all? This is the great mystery, says Wittgenstein. Why is there something rather than nothing? Where did the universe come from? What is the Beginning which stands behind all other beginnings, the Reality which gives ground to all other realities? At every level, at every angle, we find ourselves confronted with the necessity of what Barth calls “the Wholly Other.” The very fact that we are here to ponder the question is already the greatest miracle, the greatest improbability. Unless theism is presupposed, all thought and action becomes absurd—without purpose and suspended over nothingness. Unless the infinite exists, the finite would never have come to be. What sense does the painting make unless there is paper on which it is drawn? God is the great truth; we are his dream.

            Or, as our friend Albert Einstein put it: “The child knows someone must have written those books.”34

            Steven Jay Gould, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria,” The Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archive, http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html.
            Of course, this third alternative has many possible configurations. To put the relationship metaphorically, science and faith might be considered twin brothers fighting side by side in common aim, or two different alien species attempting to dialogue with each other, or an introvert and extravert complementing each other—and on and on we could go. This is why I suggest the third camp is the most interesting. Enemies and strangers are relatively uniform relationships, but there are all different kinds of friendships.
            The Holy Bible, New International Version © 2011, Psalm 19:1.
            Science (from the Latin word for knowledge, scientia) can be defined as the study of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
            In earlier centuries, the term “naturalist” referred to what we today call scientists.  
            One of the common misconceptions in contemporary discussions of faith and reason is that religious people have faith while secular people do not. But, as the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard pointed out, all finite and temporal creatures live on the basis of un-provable assumptions, and thus necessarily operate from faith. Two telling examples of human activities that require faith are reason and science. We cannot use reason to prove reason, because that is circular. Believing in the validity of reason is ultimately an act of faith, as G. K. Chesterton observed: “Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all” (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy [New York: Image Books, 2001], 29). Similarly, C. S. Lewis argued that science can only assume, rather than prove, the regularity of the laws of nature. Thus even this requires faith. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952; reprint, New York: HarperCollins, 2001).
            See The Holy Bible, Colossians 1:16.
            For a fuller discussion of Christianity’s view of the material world in comparison with other religions, see book 2, chapter 1 (“The Rival Conceptions of God”) of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Lewis put it simply: “[God] likes matter. He invented it.” Lewis, 64.
            For example, think of Johann Kepler, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Michael Faraday, Robert Boyle, Galileo Galilei, and Louis Pasteur, many of whom were avid students of the Bible and theology as well as science.
            By contrast, it is worth asking how thought can ultimately be trusted to arrive at objective truth in an atheistic worldview. According to a purely naturalistic account of human origins, everything in life is explained according to natural selection and random mutation. Therefore our brains and our thoughts are the way they are simply because that is what helped our ancestors survive. If this is the case, it is difficult to see how our rational thought and scientific observation can be fully trusted. Why should “survival value” always correspond to “objective truth”? For a fuller expression of this argument, see chapter 3 of C. S. Lewis’s book Miracles.
            See The Holy Bible, Genesis 1:26–28.
            Ibid., 1 Kings 3:9–10, 4:33.
            The Holy Bible, Proverbs 3:13–14.
            Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, updated and expanded 10th anniversary ed. (New York: Bantam Books, 1996), 190.
            Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (New York: Penguin Group, 2007), 64.
            See Tim Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Dutton, 2008). On page 262, Keller notes this historical fact: “Despite widespread impression to the contrary, both inside and outside the church, modern Creation Science was not the traditional response of conservative and evangelical Protestants in the nineteenth century when Darwin’s theory first became known. There was widespread acceptance of the fact that Genesis 1 may be been speaking of long ages rather than literal days. R. A. Torrey, the fundamentalist editor of The Fundamentals (published from 1910–1915, which gave definition to the term ‘fundamentalist’), said that it was possible ‘to believe thoroughly in the infallibility of the Bible and still be an evolutionist of a certain type. . . .’ The man who defined the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, B. B. Warfield of Princeton (d. 1921) believed that God may have used something like evolution to bring about life-forms.”
            For more information, see Meredith G. Kline, “Because It Had Not Rained,” Westminster Theological Journal 20 (May 1958): 146–57; Henri Blocher, In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984).
            “NABT unveils new statement on teaching evolution,” American Biology Teacher 58 (January 1996): 61–62. The NATB has since altered this exact wording, but maintains the notion that evolution occurs without plan or purpose.
            Naturalism is the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the natural world.
            The Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Bible, whose authorship is traditionally credited to Moses.
            See The Holy Bible, Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.
            See works such as Tim Keller, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople,” http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf, accessed July 15, 2013; C. John Collins, Adam and Eve: Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011); C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperOne, 2009), chapter 5.
            Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1967), 31.
            “The Cosmological Argument,” Philosophy of Religion, http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/the-cosmological-argument/.
            The Kalam argument, a variation of the cosmological argument, was developed by medieval Muslim philosophers and has been popularized in recent years by William Lane Craig.
            Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2007), 388–389.
            Ibid., 388.
            Ibid., 392.
            Ibid., 384.
            Ibid., 386.
            The Holy Bible, John 1:18.
            Ibid., Colossians 2:3.
            Ibid., Isaiah 57:15.
            Isaacson, 384.

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          • This is off topic. I am not interested in entertaining your compunction to spew reams and reams of your brand of apologetics.
            Address the comment or don’t.

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          • You will entertain how I comment or you are free to go.

            I posted that to make the point that all you ever say is.

            “Blah, blah, blah…apologetics, indoctrination…blah, blah, blah…do some research…

            It’s weak, tedious, and lame Ark.

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          • We were talking about presupposition, DCT, and why you condier your god perfect and able to get ”away woith murder”.
            Nothing else at this point.
            And no, I don’t have to entertain your comments. I simply won’t read them.
            Two days ago you were shitting on me from a dizzy height, now you are all over me like a rash.
            Discuss like a rational human being or not.
            I have no need to be preached at . I can go to a damn church if i want to hear such diatribe.

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          • You mentioned DTC because you need to think I believe in it when I made it clear I don’t.

            As far as who is all over who like a rash, this is my blog, you came to me, you are the one who never seems to want to leave.

            Funny, I forget you exist every time I go five minutes without getting a comment notification from you.

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          • It is DCT Divine Command Theory.
            You have not addressed the issue on the original comment.
            You claim not to believe then give a succinct and honest answer as to what motivated Joshua to liquidate the Canaanites.

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          • The Divine Command Theory is faulty because it does not properly represent the Biblical position that God is not arbitrary. He works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). In addition, God speaks out of the abundance of his heart (Matthew 12:34). Therefore, it would follow that what is morally right is not arbitrary but is that which is revealed by God as a reflection of His character.

            The advantage of basing morality on God’s character is that we would then have an absolute and objective moral standard, namely, that which is revealed by God that is based on His holy character. It would further mean that we are held accountable by God for what we do. This is exactly what the Scriptures teach us.

            Now. Below, again, is why God kills. Not because He is immoral, a despot, evil, or whatever you say.

            God lawfully has the right to execute judgment upon anyone. The Bible says that all people have sinned against God and are under his righteous judgment. Therefore, their execution is not an arbitrary killing nor is it murder. Murder is the unlawful taking of life. Killing is the lawful taking of life. For example, we can lawfully take a life in defense of our selves, our families, our nations, etc.

            When God authorizes the nation of Israel to wipe out a people, it is a lawful execution due to their rebellion and sin against God. Furthermore, such an extermination can be seen to be merciful by delivering the young into the hands of the Lord and possibly saving their souls by not giving them time to become “utterly sinful”. Additionally, further generations that would have arisen from the perverse culture, are likewise prevented from coming into existence and spreading their sin.

            Finally, one of the reasons that the Lord is so strong in the Old Testament and orders the killing of people is to ensure that the future messianic line would remain intact. The enemy, Satan, began his attempt to destroy God’s people in the Garden of Eden, by also trying to corrupt the world (which led to Noah’s Flood), by trying to destroy Israel with attacking armies, and by encouraging Israel to fall into idolatry by exposure to other cultures as well as intermarrying women from those cultures. The result of both the idolatry and the interbreeding would have been the failure of the prophecies that foretold of the coming Messiah which specified which family line the Messiah would come through. The Messiah, Jesus, would be the one who would die for the sins of the world and without that death there would be no atonement. Without the atonement, all people would be lost. So, God was ensuring the arrival of the Messiah via the destruction of the ungodly.

            That’s it Ark, that’s all I have.

            You can believe it or not. Call it indoctrinated nonsense if you want. Call me a fool if you want…I don’t care.

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          • When God authorizes the nation of Israel to wipe out a people, it is a lawful execution due to their rebellion and sin against God.

            How is this not defending DCT?

            Fair enough. I call it indoctrinated nonsense. And, as you gave permission:
            You are a fool.

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          • That is a good idea ark church would do you some good probably

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ah, Wally. Don’t you ever have a comment of any substance? One that shows you really do think about what you write?

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          • Don’t you ever have anything but insults? You just repeat the same thing over and over. I could write your comments myself

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          • As you behave like an ignoramus why must I waste time looking up new words for?
            You probably won’t understand them a anyway.
            I already used your conversion example of faith before evidence in the conversation with James. And he simply ignored it.
            All you do is think you are goading me. It is quite funny in some respects, as if you believe eventually I will suddenly pull my hair out or fall down and ask for forgiveness from your make believe man god.
            I mean …. really?

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          • And while you are at it tell me what the objective source for your evaluation of the character of God is

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          • Oh and please the evidence for your positive assertion that God does not exist

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          • How about for a change of pace you support your positive assertion that God does not exist. Provide evidence please

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          • Oh, don’t start Wally.
            Which god are you talking about, please?

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          • Not biting. Your evidence please

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          • Wally …. go and dunk your head in some soup… maybe alphabet soup.

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          • Evidence please. Is that clear?

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          • Fuck off ,Wally. Is that clearer?

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          • And with that, you’re done Ark.

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          • Lol… have a nice evening, James.

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          • Oh and don’t forget the source of your objective moral standard. Chop chop

            Liked by 1 person

          • How is objectivity able to evolve? Odd seems it would not be fixed and objective then. Please explain

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ark’s been cut off Wally.

            No worries though, he wasn’t going to answer anyway.

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          • Lol ok was fun while it lasted

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          • As you are not really asking to understand can you give me a reason as to why I should even try?

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          • I know the reason you don’t

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          • You know the reason what, Wally?

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          • Here is something substantive Ark. Odds are you are just going to dismiss it, as always.

            After you are busy not reading it, please go find something else to do.

            The Divine Command Theory (DCT) essentially teaches that a thing (i.e., action, behavior, choice, etc.) is good because God commands it to be done or evil because God forbids it from being done. Thus, to say that it is good to love our neighbors is semantically equivalent to saying God commands us to love our neighbors. Similarly, it is evil to commit murder because God forbids murder.

            Now, right away someone can object to Divine Command Theory on the grounds that good and evil become arbitrary to the whim of God. If good and evil are solely based on the whim of God, then morality is merely a will to power or “might makes right.” Since God is mightier than any of us, morality boils down to “His way or the highway.”

            The alternative to Divine Command Theory is the assertion that the basis for morality lies outside of God, rather than at the mercy of His whim. This is the approach that Plato takes in his dialogue Euthyphro. The so-called Euthyphro Dilemma can be stated thus: “Is an action morally good because God commands it [DCT], or does God command it because it is morally good?” One might be tempted to abandon Divine Command Theory and instead ground morality in something external to God.

            However, saying that God commands something because it is morally good threatens the sovereignty and independence of God. If an external principle, in this case the objective ground of morality, is outside of God, then God is obligated to adhere to this standard, and thus He is not sovereign. Furthermore, God’s morality depends on His adherence to this external standard; hence, His independence is threatened.

            Thus, we are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Neither alternative is palatable to the Christian worldview. God is certainly not arbitrary in His moral actions, nor is God subject to some external standard of morality that governs His decisions. In the former case, we can say that God is not good, and in the latter we can say that God is not God. It’s quite understandable, at this point, why some reject Christianity and adopt moral relativism as their “standard,” except for the fact that the Bible presents us with a different picture of morality and demonstrates the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma.

            The classic Christian response to the Euthyphro Dilemma is to ground goodness in God’s nature. This solves the first horn of the dilemma because God isn’t arbitrarily deciding what is good and what is evil on a whim. Rather, it is God’s nature to do good, and God never acts contrary to His nature. This also solves the second horn of the dilemma because the ground of morality is God’s nature and not some external standard to which God must adhere. God’s sovereignty is preserved as well as an objective standard for morality, i.e., God’s nature.

            The Scriptures, God’s self-revelation to humanity, illustrates this quite nicely. A sampling of passages that demonstrate that goodness is grounded in God’s nature:

            • Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8).
            • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).
            • For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you (Psalm 86:5).
            • For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).
            • Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 107:1).

            Even with this definition of the Divine Command Theory, there are two objections that can be anticipated. First, what if God’s nature changes such that what is good by God’s nature becomes evil and vice versa? God’s nature is the totality of His all attributes. Therefore, because God is immutable (Malachi 3:6), His goodness is an immutable goodness (James 1:17). Here’s another way to say it: God’s nature never changes—cannot change; therefore, goodness will never change since it is grounded in God’s nature.

            Second, what about the times when God commands the Israelites to slaughter their enemies down to the very last man, woman and child? Isn’t this is a violation of God’s very own commandment prohibiting murder? The answer is similar to that of the first objection; namely, God’s nature is the totality of all His attributes. God is good—immutably good—but He is also holy, righteous, and just. God is a God who must punish sin and wickedness. The Canaanites were wicked and rebellious and under the just condemnation of God for their sin. We know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); and God, in His sovereignty, decreed the timing and manner of the Canaanites’ death, which was a demonstration of God’s judgment on sin. This, too, is an example of God’s goodness—it is good for God to execute holy judgment on sin.

            Therefore, God commands certain actions as good and therefore to be done and forbids certain other actions as evil and therefore not to be done. What is good is not good simply because God commands it. It is good because it is reflective of His divine nature.

            Like

          • Too long. And you are quoting scripture …. to me! How many times must I tell you , James? Next.

            Like

          • Not even reading it?

            Ask for something substantial, get it, disregard it…same thing every day Ark, why do you even bother?

            Like

          • Why is it I can do a post about the resurrection and you simply say.

            “Probably the biggest April Fool’s joke of all time, never happened. ”

            https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/was-jesus-resurrected/

            Like

          • That post was ages ago. I addressed the post and now you are getting a hard on over it and dragging the conversation here? What the hell for?

            Like

          • You adressed a substantive post with:

            “Probably the biggest April Fool’s joke of all time, never happened.”

            Pathetic and why you are a waste of time.

            Like

          • I made numerous comments.
            You already had a go at me over it? on that particular post

            Why the hell are your bringing it up now?

            Like

  4. James, the quote at the head of this post is not by Nietzsche.

    Like

    • Mak,

      You are correct. Fixing the post now 🙂

      About the post in which you linked to me. Why did you chose to reference me in a post that leads off quoting absurd nonsense? What have I ever wrtitten that could possibly compell you to lump me together with someone who whould say such things?

      The person quoted at the first link is pretty extreme and a tad delusional, don’t you think? And yet you say he is consistent and it is I who have gone off the rails?

      How is this fair?

      The last part, and many of the comments are just juvenile name calling. And you honestly wonder why I don’t post comments on your blog. Why would I?

      James

      Like

    • It also seems clear to me that most people who comment on such things fail to acknowledge a point I made certain to include at the end.

      “*Note: It would be arrogant and ignorant to suggest that people who lack a belief in God cannot live good and moral lives, that is why no such claim was made or implied here. Objective morality has nothing to do with belief or lack thereof.”

      Why is it many atheists insist that Christians believe atheists can’t be moral because they lack a belief in God? This isn’t what we think at all.

      Like

      • Why is it many atheists insist that Christians believe atheists can’t be moral because they lack a belief in God? This isn’t what we think at all.

        No atheist thinks that. You do. You write that there is no reason to be moral without god and Wally agrees with you and you with him. What do you imply?

        Like

        • I specifically said behaving morally is not contingent on a belief in God and have never said or implied anything opposite.

          What I said was that objective morality is not possible without God existing.

          Like

          • Apologise if I misrepresented you.
            And I say gods have nothing to do with morals.

            Like

          • Mak,

            You can believe God(s) have nothing to do with morals all you want, I respect your right to hold that belief.

            What I have a problem with is being mocked for no reason as if we were in grade school and wilfully misrepresented.

            Like

          • I didn’t mock you. I mock people a lot, I know I do, but I didn’t mock you.

            Like

          • Mak,

            Thanks for linking to my blog again, I sure do appreciate the attention 🙂

            For the record, I didn’t expect you to agree with my comment on DTC, it is just my thoughts. Curious to know why you posted part of my comment and linked to a post that didn’t contain the rest of it.

            Oversight? Mistake?

            Or you don’t think context and the whole comment are important?

            James

            Like

          • Not an oversight and two I don’t think I misrepresented you and three by linking to your post, anyone interested in the background of the discussion can do so and lastly it is fine that we can disagree.

            Like

        • So you honestly think I share the belief stated below? This is a direct quote from Howie’s blog that you linked to.

          It’s absolutely unbiblical and I do NOT agree with it or endorse it.

          “It also means that His not caring one bit how you (or I) feel about that is most assuredly PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. I sleep like a baby knowing that every time I hear about some gut wrenching blood curdling act of barbaric depravity that my Father God has from eternity seen fit to assign purpose to it that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. IF IT WERE MY OWN FAMILY? You ask? Most ESPECIALLY then would I fall to my knees and worship Him knowing that evil has NOT triumphed, but that a PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just, good AND LOVING God who calls me brother, bride and son though I myself belong in that lake of fire will receive honor and glory by my praising His name while the world loses it’s collective mind. EveryTHING and everyONE belongs to HIM. His exaltation and glory IS the purpose for all that is. No more PERFECTLY purpose could ever exist.”

          Like

          • James, I said in my comment the difference is only in degree not in kind.
            How, if I may, would you use to decide a command by god isn’t good. Are you saying you are ready to defy god?

            Like

          • Mak,

            Here are my thoughts on Divine Command Theory. This should clear up any questions you have.

            The Divine Command Theory (DCT) essentially teaches that a thing (i.e., action, behavior, choice, etc.) is good because God commands it to be done or evil because God forbids it from being done. Thus, to say that it is good to love our neighbors is semantically equivalent to saying God commands us to love our neighbors. Similarly, it is evil to commit murder because God forbids murder.

            Now, right away someone can object to Divine Command Theory on the grounds that good and evil become arbitrary to the whim of God. If good and evil are solely based on the whim of God, then morality is merely a will to power or “might makes right.” Since God is mightier than any of us, morality boils down to “His way or the highway.”

            The alternative to Divine Command Theory is the assertion that the basis for morality lies outside of God, rather than at the mercy of His whim. This is the approach that Plato takes in his dialogue Euthyphro. The so-called Euthyphro Dilemma can be stated thus: “Is an action morally good because God commands it [DCT], or does God command it because it is morally good?” One might be tempted to abandon Divine Command Theory and instead ground morality in something external to God.

            However, saying that God commands something because it is morally good threatens the sovereignty and independence of God. If an external principle, in this case the objective ground of morality, is outside of God, then God is obligated to adhere to this standard, and thus He is not sovereign. Furthermore, God’s morality depends on His adherence to this external standard; hence, His independence is threatened.

            Thus, we are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Neither alternative is palatable to the Christian worldview. God is certainly not arbitrary in His moral actions, nor is God subject to some external standard of morality that governs His decisions. In the former case, we can say that God is not good, and in the latter we can say that God is not God. It’s quite understandable, at this point, why some reject Christianity and adopt moral relativism as their “standard,” except for the fact that the Bible presents us with a different picture of morality and demonstrates the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma.

            The classic Christian response to the Euthyphro Dilemma is to ground goodness in God’s nature. This solves the first horn of the dilemma because God isn’t arbitrarily deciding what is good and what is evil on a whim. Rather, it is God’s nature to do good, and God never acts contrary to His nature. This also solves the second horn of the dilemma because the ground of morality is God’s nature and not some external standard to which God must adhere. God’s sovereignty is preserved as well as an objective standard for morality, i.e., God’s nature.

            The Scriptures, God’s self-revelation to humanity, illustrates this quite nicely. A sampling of passages that demonstrate that goodness is grounded in God’s nature:

            • Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8).
            • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).
            • For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you (Psalm 86:5).
            • For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).
            • Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 107:1).

            Even with this definition of the Divine Command Theory, there are two objections that can be anticipated. First, what if God’s nature changes such that what is good by God’s nature becomes evil and vice versa? God’s nature is the totality of His all attributes. Therefore, because God is immutable (Malachi 3:6), His goodness is an immutable goodness (James 1:17). Here’s another way to say it: God’s nature never changes—cannot change; therefore, goodness will never change since it is grounded in God’s nature.

            Second, what about the times when God commands the Israelites to slaughter their enemies down to the very last man, woman and child? Isn’t this is a violation of God’s very own commandment prohibiting murder? The answer is similar to that of the first objection; namely, God’s nature is the totality of all His attributes. God is good—immutably good—but He is also holy, righteous, and just. God is a God who must punish sin and wickedness. The Canaanites were wicked and rebellious and under the just condemnation of God for their sin. We know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); and God, in His sovereignty, decreed the timing and manner of the Canaanites’ death, which was a demonstration of God’s judgment on sin. This, too, is an example of God’s goodness—it is good for God to execute holy judgment on sin.

            Therefore, God commands certain actions as good and therefore to be done and forbids certain other actions as evil and therefore not to be done. What is good is not good simply because God commands it. It is good because it is reflective of His divine nature.

            Like

  5. James, I think I’ve told you before that I like you (that’s not satire), and have enjoyed throwing around some ideas with you. I would like to discuss the “morality” issue with you. Let’s get this out of the theoretical realm and into the personal realm, because this is what really matters. We know each other a little from our conversations here, but have not met in real life. Even so, I hope you could get some idea of my character. Do you really think I have no moral compass at all? If you have read any of my blog (it’s ok if you haven’t, we’re all busy) do you really think I’m incapable of caring for my autistic son in a decent and loving way? Do you think I’d deliberately hurt other people for own gain, or be more prone to crime? I’m a wife, a mother, a *human* like you. Are we so different?

    If god exists and throws me into the lake of fire after I die because my faith evaporated without my consent, will you see that as true justice, because you think I “chose” not to believe? I hope not James. 😦

    Like

    • Hey Violet,

      Why would you ask if I thought you had no moral compass? Of course I don’t think that, not at all. Let’s start there 🙂

      Like

      • You seem to think god’s moral compass is the only compass that matters, and that my own might be seriously lacking without His direction.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Violet,

          That is what I’m saying but I’m not saying it becasue I made it up or because it’s my message.

          It’s God’s message to all, it’s for us all, it applies to us all.

          We were created to have a relationship with God, but He did not make us to automatically love and obey Him. Instead, He gave us a will and freedom to choose.

          From the very beginning, we chose to disobey God and run our own lives, this is what the Bible calls sin.

          The result of sin is an empty life of separation from God that will eventually lead to eternal separation from God.

          The Bible says:

          “All have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.”
          – Romans 3:23

          “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
          – Romans 6:23

          People try to fill the emptiness in their lives and build a bridge to God by doing good things but they always fall short.

          The Bible says:

          “There is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death.”
          – Proverbs 14:12

          “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
          – Titus 3:5

          In order to bridge the gap between God and peoples, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.

          He died for our sins on the cross and rose from the grave.

          This opened the way to forgiveness and a new relationship with God.

          The Bible says:

          “But God demonstrated His love for us in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”
          – Romans 5:6

          “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes tonthe Fathet except through Me.'”
          -John 14:6

          God has done everything necessary to provide forgiveness to all who ask for it. We accept this forgiveness by trusting what Jesus did for us on the cross and receiving Him as our Lord.

          Like

      • I do understand you’re not the one who made the rules. Christians often try to soften their judgment by saying, “it’s not my judgement, it’s gods.” The problem is there’s very human consequences to saying or implying certain things, like how non-christians can’t be moral. This is what disturbs me the most: both atheists and theists can argue point after point, but there’s often no discussion of the human side of things…of how individual people are affected by such statements. To label an entire group of people who don’t agree with you as amoral has some rather stunning consequences. I’ll give you some personal examples:

        -when I became an atheist, christians told my husband to divorce me because I’d never be a faithful wife without god, even though I’ve been completely faithful for 16 years. In other words, I was called a whore, and my husband was encouraged to abandon me, his disabled wife, over something I hadn’t even done.

        -neighbors who overheard me telling a very forceful door-to-door proselytizer that I’m atheist, will no longer let their children talk to me.

        -my christian friends all dumped me as they thought they’d damn their own souls by hanging out with an atheist

        -my fitness as a mother has been questioned because I’m not indoctrinating my autistic child into christianity. My boy is mentally challenged, can’t even hold onto the concept of santa, and we have huge behavioral problems with him. The idea that christians close to me are up in arms because I don’t take him to church (where he would scream bloody murder for the entire hour) is shocking to me. They tell me I’m damning his soul…his INNOCENT soul, who did not ask to be born with autism.

        -I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m a moral vacuum as I “chose” to leave christ, when that is NOT what happened. My faith evaporated like a puff of smoke in the wind. There was absolutely no choice involved.

        Some theists say I deserve all I get because my faith is gone. They stand above me and judge me, the whole time saying, “oh no, it’s god who judges, not me.” That’s just semantics. My life, and the life of countless others, has been torn apart by christians making claims that we’re not capable of being good people. This is one of the reasons I think religion is harmful, and why I oppose it. For the record I don’t think christians are amoral at all (or at least no worse than anyone else). I oppose them for laying down judgement on of all of those who dare to disagree with them.

        James, I think you’re an honest person, a sincere person, and one who tries to do what’s right. You get tons of crap from atheists, which I often feel is way too harsh. You and I are not all that different…I was once a woman of deep faith and I know you’re a man of deep faith. Yet you do help spread a message of intolerance. I don’t condemn you for this, as I know you see it as a directive from god. I only hope you will ponder the issues I’ve put forth.

        –Violet

        Liked by 1 person

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