Monthly Archives: October 2009
Yes, the Rational Response Squad is back in business! I just got a newsletter informing me of this, and inviting me back to their forums. And here is their first action: a Divine Denial of Service Attack!
In retaliation for the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Global Atheist Community, Brian Sapient is calling all atheists to inundate God with all kinds of useless prayers repeatedly and for one minute beginning Sunday, November 8 at 8p.m. EST. The goal is to knock God’s divinity offline.
This may be the dumbest thing attempted by the RRS yet. They don’t even believe in the power of prayer, so why call for something like this? Not only that, but they are still selling the concept of God as a fininte creature rather than as the infinite Creator. I’m sure that, being omnipotent and omnicient, God can simultaneously listen to all the prayers he wants, sustain the universe, rub his tummy and pat his head.
I’ve taken the time to visit the forums, and sadly, it is still the same arguments sold by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and Harris. The arguments that never got me motivated or interested enough to finish their books let alone challenge my faith enough to make me an atheist. And, as usual, the arguments haven’t been modified one iota to reflect the interaction our side had with them.
The RRS is sad. Why do I even bother?
Mark from Proud Atheists has a post with three simple questions about heaven. Let’s look at them.
Why are only 144,000 going to enter heaven? Well, that’s a misreading of the text if I ever saw one. Revelation 14:4 says that these are redeemed as firstfruits from mankind–that means that the 144,000 are the first of the entrants to heaven.
Where is heaven? Heaven is a separate place from this universe; it is not located within the bounds of this space. Why do atheists assume that this universe is all that there is, then impose that assumption on biblical texts?
Why are Christians afraid to die? You assume that because Christians take medicine and receive medical treatment that that means we’re afraid to die? By no means. There is nothing in the Bible that prevents Christians from extending their lives by simply taking care of themselves properly and availing themselves of modern science. Each person on this earth is here because God has a plan for his life, and the longer said person lives, the more that God can accomplish through him. Why not live longer if that is possible?
Here’s a better question for the atheist: if you don’t believe in heaven, then why spend anytime at all thinking up these questions? Isn’t that a waste of the precious little time you have to live on this earth only?
Someone posting under the moniker 1minionsopinion has said the following:
Well, I’ll jump in with a paraphrase of some philosopher dude whose name currently eludes me – we’re all atheists when it comes to Zeus and Thor and Ra and Bast and Titan and all those other classic pantheon deities. People who insist on calling themselves “Atheist” simply believe in one less god than you do.
But is that true? I don’t think so. There are implications to believing in one less deity than I do.
First, we are not made in the image of God. We are merely descendants of other primates who have evolved intelligence, and that means that there is no inherent dignity to being human. We are animals (albeit smart ones), pure and simple.
Second, there is no transcendent meaning to anything; things are as they are. Though even atheist philosophers tend to agree that there are transcendent values (called “morality”), believing in “one less god” removes the ground for these transcendent values and renders everything we see simply as it is. Nothing means anything other than what value we assign to it–we become the arbiters of morality. Morality “evolved” the way it did because it was advantageous to the species. Nothing more.
Believing in one less god represents a fundamental worldview divide, and by saying it is a simple matter trivializes this difference.
This thread is interesting to me from the Rational Response Squad forums.
A user going by heel13, who is leaning toward atheism, has asked for one logical reason to believe atheism. Forty-six posts into the thread, and not one atheist has offered up a single logical reason to become an atheist. Instead, Lisa (EdwardNortonFan) sums up what they have been telling heel13:
The burden of proof is not on us atheists to disprove god’s existence; it is on those who believe he DOES exist. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god. It CAN mean denial of a god, but not necessarily. Either you believe or you don’t. Period. It’s that simple. If you don’t believe there is a god, then you are an atheist already. And to me, it seems you don’t.
It seemed so simple a question, now why can’t they do it? Is there any logical reason to become an atheist? Or, is it as I contend, a matter of emotion?
Vincent Skolny, guest poster at Unreasonable Faith, has made a rather fascinating post entitled “Christianity is Self-Projection as God.” In it, he rehashes the old argument that Christians pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Bible, and the result is:
. . . a rank and unique pride that claims a divine stamp of approval upon the Christian’s own life, while rejecting both all of the Bible that doesn’t appeal to her or his liking and the gods constructed by other Christians, reflecting other parts of the bible.
It’s an arrogant syncretism of life and religion that we call Self-Projection as God (SPAG).
Of course, no examples are given (though judging by the article, he could have provided numerous examples).
Among biblical Christians, where is there disparity about the nature of God? I don’t see it. Yes, I see disparity in the God of Mormonism, the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the God of Fred Phelps, but those people are not biblical Christians. The problem is that atheism makes no distinction between biblical Christians and cults of Christianity. They see biblical Christians and cults of Christianity under the same flag, just different expressions.
True, good men of faith have disagreements about how much God allows and permits versus how much he decrees. Look at the arguments between myself and, for example, the poster going by A Helmet. The entire Protestant Reformation was over the sufficiency of grace and whether meritorious good works were also required (the Sacraments).
But the conception of God as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe has never been in disagreement. The basic attributes of God are common to all biblical Christians.
And just what are those basic attributes that no one disputes? God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created the Universe and sustains its existence. God created mankind in his image (not the other way around). God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. He is necessary as opposed to contingent. God is sovereign over his creation, and is working a plan in creation for his own glorification, of which everyone plays an integral part. Biblical Christians, if I missed anything, leave it in the comments.
What the post reveals about the poster, however, is scary. It reveals his supreme close-mindedness, which is actually quite common among atheists. Take this, for example:
For a practical demonstration, just pick a pair of contrary or contradictory Bible verses that are on either side of a sensitive issue and ask a Christian what she or he thinks about them. The better you know the Bible and the Christian, the easier it will be to pick the appropriately contrary verses, but the result will always be the same: The Christian will start rationalizing and explaining the contradiction in a way that accommodates them to his or her own life.
Strip away the rhetoric, and what did Skolny say? The Bible has contradictions that can’t really be explained, so if you want to stump a Christian just pick an appropriate contradiction and ask him to explain it. He’ll rationalize it.
What Skolny is doing is assuming as a matter of course that the Bible has contradictions, and then making the further assumption that Christians lack awareness of Bible difficulties. I’ll grant him the latter, most Christians display a shocking lack of knowledge of the Bible. But the former is a little harder to prove, and I’ve seen many sites trying to do it without success.
Further, Skolny is effectively hardening his heart to any explanations that might be given about these alleged “contradictions” by dismissing them as “rationalizations” before he ever even hears them! This is the core of the issue I’ve seen with atheists. They believe that the Bible is bull without investigating the issue (they take the word of other atheists without consulting the other side) and they close their minds to any other explanation that doesn’t fit their worldview.
Isn’t this the same thing that they accuse us of doing?
The parents of Madeline Neumann were given probation and thiry days in jail. I guess it’s okay to deny your children medical attention!
The parents faced 25 years each in prison for denying their daughter medical care that would have saved her life. Instead, they prayed over her and thought that her deteriorating condition was a test from God.
Over at his blog, Rey has posted that God hates the non-elect. Twice.
Rey thinks this because he denies that the default human condition is sinful and thus opposed to God by its very nature. It is not necessary for God to hate us first so that we may hate him; hating God and denying the Creator is only natural to the creation because of the Fall.
Natural man, in his natural state, is opposed to God. That is why he hates God. It is not the converse of 1 John 4:19.
But, when God enlightens us and makes us a new creation, we are then able to love God because he first loved us.
Rey is attacking the hyper-Calvinistic notion that God hates the non-elect. There is much Scriptural evidence that he does, in fact, love all of his creation (Jn 3:16–“For God so loved the world. . .”). The elect he loves more deeply (Rom 8:29–“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed . . .”). God commands us to love our enemies. Why would he command us to do something that he himself doesn’t already do? Do the wicked not receive blessings from God?
In order to substantiate his position, Rey must show us, either from Scripture or Reformed writings, that God loves only his elect. Scripture shows he takes care of his elect, but both Scripture and natural theology indicate that he loves both the elect and the non-elect.
Why does God elect some and not others? Well, that is a mystery, but it is not random (as Rey repeatedly suggests by comparing election to a lottery).
One of the things that Catholics misunderstand about sola scriptura is that it shuns tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sola scriptura requires tradition to make accurate interpretations of Scripture. If my interpretation of a passage, say Genesis 38:6-11, is off kilter with traditional interpretations, then perhaps I’m wrong and I need to adjust what I believe about that passage.
Or, it could be that the passage has been interpreted a certain way for years, even centuries, and that interpretation was wrong. Joshua 10:12-14 had been used to prove that the earth was the center of the solar system and that the sun revolved around it. Once the Copernican model for the solar system was accepted, that passage had to be re-evaluated.
So it is with Genesis 38:6-11. Long used by Roman Catholics as a prohibition against birth control, it has been re-evaluated in modern times as refering to a violation of the Mosaic Law, specifically that dealing with levirate marriage. TurretinFan has a good treatment of this topic here.
Matthew Bellisario uses that verse to attack sola scriptura, saying that it is really the Protestant’s own interpretation of Scripture that counts. But is that true? Read the rest of this entry