Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

“Misrepresentation of Alternatives”

I came across a book title that interested me yesterday:

“There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind” by Anthony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese

Flew is the “World’s Most Notorious Atheist” mentioned in the title.  He has written some of the more influential works on atheism, was the atheist side of some famous atheist vs. christianity debates, and has recently converted from an atheist to a theist, on the basis of intelligent design.  However, he does not believe in any of the available revelation theories- i.e. The Divine Creator revealed Himself in a way believed by major religious groups such as Christianity, Islam, etc.

I watched some videos on youtube yesterday of Flew, both before and after his conversion, and he is without a doubt a man of great intelligence.  He is 84 years old, and one criticism that I thought opponents might suppose is the “I’m at the end of my life, so I’ll hedge my bet and convert” theory.  Meaning that Flew doesn’t really believe there is a God, but just in case he is saying so and/or has convinced himself just in case there is.  However, I think the fact that he has not agreed with any major religion suggests against this.  What I mean is that if he was indeed just “hedging his bet,” he really hasn’t done so.  He says that Christianity is the most plausible of the revelation theories, mainly on the basis of the apostle Paul, but does not believe it likely that the Divine Creator has revealed Himself in the form ascribed to by any of the major religions.

I was doing some more research on Mr. Flew today, and came across a very interesting website.  I was searching for information on Flew, but I am not sure if there is any relationship or connection between Flew and the “Truth in Science” organization.

If you are like me, a product of American public schools, then you know about evolution.  You may have even struggled to some extent with evolution and creationism, as I have.  If so, then the Truth in Science website will be as interesting to you as it has been to me.

Of particular interest was the Evidence for Evolution page, which is a bit misleading. The evidence there is actually evidence against evolution, but I guess the implication of the title is that the information there addresses the evidence for evolution, albeit from the perspective of the opposition.

One of my favorites that I read there, which inspired this blog, was Misrepresentation of Alternatives.  This particular page proposes some reasons for the widespread teaching and acceptance of evolution.  I think this is very important.  Evolution has lost a lot of steam in recent years, but as far as I know is still being taught in public schools.  Everybody knows that it is a theory, but I don’t think it is necessarily presented as a theory, or at least it was not presented that way for me.  Yes I always heard it referenced as “The Theory of Evolution.” But was it presented as a theory?  Was it presented alongside other theories of similar levels of acceptance and evidence?  If alternatives were presented, were they presented as alternatives that were purely religious and had no scientific merit?  Was evolution presented as an all-or-nothing issue?

These are issues that are addressed on the “Misrepresentation of Alternatives” page by Truth in Science.  The page also points out that the common understanding of evolution vs creation as merely a science vs relgion debate is misleading.  The page also acknowledges that there is good evidence for small-scale evolution, but that this evidence is wrongly used as evidence for the entirety of the theory of evolution.

Here is the conclusion:

The ways in which some textbooks present evolution and its alternatives are neither fair nor scientific. Rather than teaching pupils to think critically,  these textbooks are indoctrinating them using poor arguments. School children should be given the opportunity to properly understand different views on our origins, so that they can come to well informed conclusions about this important issue.

I also think that Lee Strobel, in “The Case for Faith,” at least raises some serious doubts about the theory of evolution, if he doesn’t actually poke gaping holes in the theory, as I honestly thought he did.

(As I was writing that last sentence I almost said simply “evolution” rather than “the theory of evolution.”  I think that simplifying and shortening to simply “evolution” has at least a slight effect on our thinking; therefore I chose to say “the theory” rather than “evolution” there at the end.)

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November 7, 2007 - Posted by | Anthony Flew, Atheism, Charles Darwin, creationism, evolution, Intelligent Design, Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, theism

62 Comments »

  1. I failed to mention why I find evolution and its widespread teaching and acceptance, often at the peril of teaching and/or acceptance of intelligent design, to be so important of an issue.
    Evolution is often used as an argument against Christianity and/or the Bible.
    Therefore, if we are indeed brainwashing our public school students- by way of misrepresenting alternatives in order to make the theory of evolution seem more plausible- we are predisposing them away from religious beliefs.

    “Seperation of Church and State” is often used to argue against teaching anything with even a hint of religiosity in public schools. I think it should definitely be brought up here, because I believe our Founding Fathers intended it to be used to avoid pushing our citizens towards or away from any religious beliefs by our government.

    If we continue to teach the theory of evolution in our public schools, I believe that we must present the theory of intelligent design along side it unless better evidence can be provided to support otherwise. Either that or we must stop teaching the theory of evolution in our public schools. The evidence for the theory of evolution is not strong enough to warrant the level of acceptance and teaching in our public schools, and we need to do something about it.
    We need to stop teaching the theory of evolution or we need to stop misrepresenting the alternatives.

    Comment by bigham | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  2. Always an interesting topic for discussion. Check out Hugh Ross’ stuff at reasons.org.

    Wikipedia says, “Ross’ overall philosophy is that science and religion are not only compatible but complementary and, with Thomas Torrance, that the scientific method itself springs from the Reformation and the Bible. He adopts the view that there are two “books” of revelation from God – the Bible and nature – which both offer accurate knowledge and each of which can correct misunderstanding of the other. Moreover, he argues that the Bible is the only scientifically accurate religious text when interpreted consistently.”

    Anyway, I’ve heard Dr. Ross speak and recently read his latest book “Creation as Science.” Interesting stuff. Specific scientific arguments (90% of which I don’t comprehend) aside, Ross believes that scientific modeling actually proves a lot of the Bible while disproving a lot of common evolution theories.

    Comment by Kates | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  3. KATESY!
    thanks bro, I’ll check that out…

    Comment by bigham | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  4. Why do you suppose it is that if you run across a website that has a problem with evolution, you can bet the rent every time that there’s a born-again Christian behind it?

    My question is: If only evangelicals have a problem with evolution, is the problem with evolution or with evangelicals?

    And the problem extends far beyond mere evolution. The largest creationist organization in the world is Answers in Genesis, whose tagline is “Defending the Bible from the very first verse.” If you go to their website, you learn that evolution isn’t the only satanic lie being taught in our schools. Not only are biologists wrong about evolution, but astronomers are wrong about the age of the earth, physicists are wrong about the speed of light and the science behind radiometric dating, cosmologists are wrong about the Big Bang, paleontologists are wrong about the fossil record, geologists are wrong about the geologic column, and on and on and on. It seems that, according to our fundamentalist friends, that all of science is just a gigantic atheistic plot!

    The same mentality that persecuted Galileo is alive and well right here in the USA in the 21st century. It boggles the mind, but your website is just one example of thousands. Science disagrees with a literal reading of the Bible, so science is evil.

    Comment by Ron | November 8, 2007 | Reply

  5. I hope that this blog did not have the feel of, “Evolution goes against what the Bible says, so it is wrong.”

    I felt like I was careful in at least some parts to avoid that- I mentioned that Flew does not even give Christianity much of a chance right now. So although his conversion to Theism is a big deal, and a big support for intelligent design, it is not a “total victory” for Christianity, so to speak. And I also mentioned what the site says about there being evidence for small-scale evolution.

    If those were two carefeul oases in a desert of “if its anti-Bible its wrong,” then I apologize. That was not my intention.

    I think there is some support for some small-scale evolution. I think Charles Darwin was a genius.
    But, I think that it is wrong for our public schools to falsely present evolution as either the only alternative or the only plausible alternative. If we are going to use “Seperation of Church and State” to defend everything anti-religious, I think we must also use “Seperation of Church and State” to defend a gross misrepresentation of one of the strongholds of anti-religious thought, that is the theory of evolution.

    So, I think its great if we give the actual evidence that supports evolution. As long as we don’t misuse that evidence to say, “there is strong evidence for this part of evolution, therefore all evolution is true.” That would be just as bad of a jump in logic as if I showed you something in the Bible that has been proven by archaeology and said, “see. The Bible is right on that, so the whole Bible must be true.” I believe that the whole Bible is true. But, I acknowledge that it is both disrespectful to you and makes me look foolish if I try to make a erroneous jump in logic like that. And I would never misrepresent an alternative like that if I was teaching children.

    That is exactly what we are doing in our public schools when we give the small amount of evidence there is for the theory of evolution, and either present it as the only alternative, imply that it is “one true, all true,” or undermine other alternatives as having no scientific evidence, when the fact is that they do.

    A large part of the science field is swinging towards intelligent design. And there is a reason that the theory of evolution is still a theory after all of these years. I think that we have to stop presenting evolution as fact in our public schools when it is absolutely and unquesionably still a theory and a leap of faith.

    Comment by bigham | November 8, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hi Bigham–

    First of all, I want to thank you for your civil tone on a subject that seems tailor-made for invective. I will try to rise to your level of civility.

    Having said that, I feel compelled to take issue with your comments re: evolution. The evidence in support of evolution is absolutely overwhelming, while intelligent design is nothing more than a slick marketing campaign funded by the religious right for the purpose of sneaking theism into the public schools.

    I contacted the Discovery Institute some time back and asked them a simple question. According to the DI, the definition of intelligent design is: “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” The example they usually provide is the bacterial flagellum. So I provided them with the current proposed evolutionary explanation for how the bacterial flagellum evolved, and predictably they replied with a laundry list of objections to it. I replied with “OK, you have a problem with the evolutionary explanation. But you claim that ID can provide a superior explanation, so what is it? What is your stepwise explanation for how the bacterial flagellum originated, why it hasn’t taken on a different appearance, why do some bacteria have them while others don’t, etc? You claim to have a superior explanation. What is it?”

    I had to ask them 3 or 4 times before they would reply. And their so-called “superior explanation” was: “Well, if the flagellum really WAS designed, wouldn’t you want to know?” That’s it. That’s their “superior explanation.” ID has no explanatory power at all. As for:

    A large part of the science field is swinging towards intelligent design. And there is a reason that the theory of evolution is still a theory after all of these years. I think that we have to stop presenting evolution as fact in our public schools when it is absolutely and unquesionably still a theory and a leap of faith

    That is simply false. The Disco Inst. has a list of 700 or so scientists that take issue with evolutionary theory. However, the New York Times did an expose of this list, and revealed that it contained very few biologists, while it contained a great many evangelicals. The National Academies of Science of over 60 countries issued a statement in 2006 that said that evolution is strongly supported by the evidence and denounced ID. At the same time, an organization that defends the teaching of evolution–the National Center for Science Education–has issued a counter-list that has over 800 scientists on it that support evolution. The twist with their list is that they only accept signatories with the first name of Steve or a derivation of that, like Stephanie (in honor of the late Stephen Jay Gould). Since Steves comprise approx. 1% of the population, you can multiply that 800 names by 100, which would yield over 80,000 names, versus 700 on the creationist list. The sciences are most definitely not swinging towards ID.

    Comment by Ron | November 8, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ron, thanks for another comment- I am enjoying our conversations, and hope you are as well.

    First, I would like to acknowledge that we seem to be running at this issue from opposite sides, which tends to lead to assumptions, which in turn lead to jumps in logic.

    So, while you say that, “intelligent design is nothing more than a slick marketing campaign funded by the religious right for the purpose of sneaking theism into the public schools,” I would counter that evolution is nothing more than a slick marketing campaign championed by atheist scientists for the purpose of keeping people in a cave so that everybody can act like there is no God.

    But, I doubt that either one of us will be successful on either of those fronts. But, I would like to point out a couple of gaps in your comments. I am sure that you have logical reasons to fill these gaps, and that you just may have assumed that we were starting from the same place and therefore it wasn’t necessary to walk me through your logic step-by-step.

    I am not even going to act like I am not a “fish out of water” when it comes to bacterial flagellum. I assume that they either possess intricate DNA or have somehow evolved and therefore are being used to support the theory of evolution.

    The first gap I would like to point out is that I don’t see what that has to do with the big picture of the theory of evolution. If bacterial flagellum either have intricate DNA or there is evidence that they have evolved, what does that have to do with us?

    Does it shed any light on the origin of life? Does the intricacy in their DNA match the immense complexity of the DNA, amino acids, and proteins that we are made of? Do they assemble in a way comparable to the way that we are assembled, which leads to the same building blocks being used in different patterns to make up all of the different parts of our bodies, as well as the differences between males and females? Do they show that we, along with all of our deep thoughts, emotions, desires, and complexities, could be here by chance, or could have evolved from a bacteria or a monkey?

    The other gap is with your argument that science is not swinging towards ID. I don’t really think that you give enough proof to conclude that there are over 80,000 scientists in favor of evolution. Which would you rather see, if I could produce either: A list signed by 80,000 scientists in favor of ID or a list signed by 800 scientists in favor of ID, along with a theory of how that list could be used to show that there are about 80,000 scientists in favor of ID?

    Those are just a couple of things that I saw, and from that I think that you may have jumped to the conclusion that the intricacy or evolution of bacterial flagellum means that the whole theory of evolution is now the fact of evolution.

    As for me, I still hold to the belief, firmly based in what I have seen in this world, that there is a God; that he is holy, just, loving, and has complete sovereignty over this world; that I am imperfect, unrighteous, and sinful and deserve nothing but punishment to satisfy His just wrath; that Jesus came, died for me on the cross, and is the way, truth, and life; that He conquered death three days later, according to the Scriptures; that His death is the only way that God’s just and righteous wrath could be satisfied, so that I can be credited with Jesus’ perfection and righteousness and enter the kingdom of heaven; and that we have two possible responses to the evidence this world has to offer:
    we either say, as Lucipher and Judas said, “I am not convinced,” or we humbly submit to Jesus Christ as the King of this universe, accept the salvation that only He can offer, and lay down our lives for Him as He did for us.

    “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31

    Comment by bigham | November 10, 2007 | Reply

  8. Hi again!

    Thanks for taking time out of your day to pursue this line of discussion. I always enjoy apologetics/counter-apologetics arguments. I must point out 2 things–1. I’m not a scientist, just somebody with an opinion and prob. too much time on his hands. 2. I have an agenda: I want to try and steer fundamentalist Christians into a more moderate direction, at least as far as the sciences are concerned. Even though I’m an atheist, I’m not really trying to convert people away from their faith. But when evangelicals start clamoring for ID to be taught in the public schools, people should speak out.

    If you don’t “take home” anything else I say, take home the simple fact that there really are evangelicals that have managed to reconcile their beliefs with the sciences. Francis Collins is a great example–evangelical Christian, accepts evolutionary theory in full, and actually headed the Human Genome Project. It may require some conceptual yoga, but apparently it can be done. I personally believe the atheistic viewpoint accords with the sciences better, but that’s just my take on the matter.

    Here’s a good place to start looking for such a moderate evangelical. Go to this blog:

    http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/welcome-to-dialogue.html

    (I have no affiliation with this site, BTW. I’ve never even posted a comment on it.)

    What most evangelicals want, however, is not in the public interest. Evolution is the central organizing principle of the biological sciences, or so say most biologists at any rate. Teaching biology without evolution has been likened to trying to teach civics without teaching about the Constitution.

    So, let’s see here–

    So, while you say that, “intelligent design is nothing more than a slick marketing campaign funded by the religious right for the purpose of sneaking theism into the public schools,” I would counter that evolution is nothing more than a slick marketing campaign championed by atheist scientists for the purpose of keeping people in a cave so that everybody can act like there is no God.

    Well, it’s true that you can say it, but I can actually document my claim. I can point to an organization–the Discovery Institute in Seattle, that admits that it is pursuing an agenda designed to advance Christianity and that ID is a central part of that agenda. Well, it admits it in private, that is. In public, it claims that it’s all just about the Purity Of Science, which is just dishonest.

    I can point to an actual internal document that the Discovery Institute reluctantly owned up to 3 years after it was leaked onto the internet that systematically laid out a number of goals, all of which were designed to make Christianity the central paradigm of society. It’s called the Wedge Document. Google it–you will find enough on that document to fill many hours on surfing time, and it’s very revealing. It will quickly become apparent that ID really is what I accused it of being.

    I can point to lines of funding that lead from the Discovery Institute to some deep pockets of dubious characters, such as Howard Ahmanson, a So. Cal. savings and loan billionaire that thinks America needs to be completely Christianized.

    So, let’s see: I can provide an actual organization, an actual internal document of that organization, and funding lines to that organization that all pretty much substantiate my claim that ID is intended to be used as a tool to advance Christianity. Do you have anything similar to back up your claim that evolution is all just one big marketing campaign?

    The main reason I even brought up the flagellum wasn’t to prove evolution per se. It was to contrast the explanatory power of the mainstream evolutionary version of how the bacterial flagellum came to be with the intelligent design version. It’s revealing because evolution can provide an actual step-by-step mechanism as to how the bacterial flagellum could have evolved from other, simpler bacterial cell components, while ID can’t even propose a counter-explanation. This is all significant, because proponents for ID tout it as a valid scientific alternative to evolution, and it isn’t even close. It’s significant, because it shows that when intelligent design proponents claim that ID provides a better explanation for certain features of nature, they are at best, mistaken and at worst, lying.

    The whole business about the counter-list was simply to show how small the “Dissent From Darwin” list actually is–there are more scientists named Steve that support evolution than there are scientists of all names that reject evolution.

    The counter-list I gave you really is meant as a spoof of the Disco Institute’s “Dissent From Darwin” list. For a more serious idea of who supports evolution as compared to ID, go to:

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/2712_statements_from_scientific_an_12_19_2002.asp

    And remember, this is just a partial list. Don’t forget about the open letter supporting evolution signed by over 60 National Academies of Science from around the world.

    Now see what the Discovery Institute can muster in support for ID. Like I said previously, the sciences are most definitely not shifting away from evolution, nor toward ID.

    And finally, I find it interesting that it’s so common that the same people that can’t accept the mountain of evidence supporting evolutionary theory have no trouble at all accepting the notion that the first woman was directly created from the rib of the first man or that God is both one entity and 3 entities at the same time.

    Comment by Ron | November 11, 2007 | Reply

  9. Ron,

    Thanks again. I feel like I was on an anti-evolution rant last week, and that my attention has for the most part moved on. That is not to say that I accept the theory of evolution in whole, just that I am not necessarily competent to persuade people against it and have pretty much lost interest in doing so- for now at least.

    Thank you for your input, and I think for the most part I have “taken it home.” I do believe that there is room for some level of coexistence between religion and the theory of evolution- as long as the Creation of the universe by the Most High God is not called into question. And I absolutely believe that all of science and all of religion coexist. God was the first Scientist, and no science has ever been able to disprove God.

    As for what I would like to be “taken home,” it is this:
    Until evolution is proven in full or ID is disproven, they should either both be taught in public schools or neither should be taught in public schools.

    As for Adam’s rib: I believe there is a God, and that He said, “let there be ______,” and there was. So, as far as I can see, it would have been far more difficult for God to speak the earth, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and man into existence, which I believe that He did, than it would have been for Him to take a rib out of the man that He created and to make woman from that rib. If He spoke all of existence into existence, then taking a rib and making a woman would have been relatively simple. I don’t know how He did it, but I would never say that He couldn’t have done it.

    And with the Trinity:

    “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen, amen.”

    I will admit that I don’t know as much as I probably should about the Trinity or how to competently communicate what I do believe about the Trinity. I grew up in a Christian home, started doubting towards the end of high school, and went into unbelief midway through my freshman year in college. After almost five years of unbelief, I accepted Jesus Christ as the King of my universe in March.

    I did that on the basis of what I saw to be convincing evidence that He conquered death and was resurrected three days after dying on the cross.

    As I am convinced of that, I am convinced that He was super-human. With that in mind, it is easier for me to believe the virgin birth (“normal” confines of death didn’t apply to him, why would “normal” confines of birth?), His miracles- healing the blind, sick, handicapped, and even bringing the dead back to life-, and His deity.

    So, in believing that He was super-human, and knowing that I have never seen anything in the Bible to be proven to be wrong, I accept John 1:1 when it says “The Word (Jesus) was God.”

    I don’t know anywhere near as much as I would like to know about the Holy Spirit and when and where He comes into play, other than what I have felt. Don’t take that to mean anything freaky- just that I felt the change in my heart when it was softened to the possibility that I was wrong about God, and I saw the changes in my sight, when my eyes were opened to truths that I had ignored, and heard everything about Jesus in a new light- all of which are generally attributed to the Holy Spirit.

    So- FOR NOW- I accept that there are a lot of people who have studied the Bible a lot more than I have, one of whom is my brother- Dr. Jim Hamilton, Jr. – who can surely explain the trinity better than I can- (you might ask him at his blog: http://jimhamilton.wordpress.com , if you like) who believe in the Trinity. Similarly, I assume that you do not know every nuance of evolution, but trust experts who have gained your trust when it comes to areas that you don’t fully comprehend. But, I fully plan to study more on the Trinity, especially the Holy Spirit.
    Although, I believe that Jesus is the most relevant for us, because He is the only One of the Trinity who came and lived on the earth; He is the only One that was physically seen, touched, smelled, and heard; and He is the only way by which we can receive the perfection and righteousness that He taught are required for a person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Comment by bigham | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  10. btw- just ordered a book called “The Unveiling of the Trinity” by Tom Bosse on http://www.amazon.com

    which promises to be a “layman’s terms” explanation of the Trinity… $8.74 w/ shipping and handling

    Comment by bigham | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  11. As for what I would like to be “taken home,” it is this:
    Until evolution is proven in full or ID is disproven, they should either both be taught in public schools or neither should be taught in public schools.

    We can’t strictly disprove Dianetics, either. Want to teach it in medical schools? You have to have standards. You can’t just brush off the evidence for common ancestry with a sound-bite. Do you know what human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are?

    Biologists refer to evolution as theory only when discussing particular details of the mechanism of evolution, such as genetic drift or nat. selection. When the question comes up: Did life evolve? The answer biologists give is ‘Yes, that life evolved is a fact.’

    After almost five years of unbelief, I accepted Jesus Christ as the King of my universe in March.

    I did that on the basis of what I saw to be convincing evidence that He conquered death and was resurrected three days after dying on the cross.

    This is what I have a problem with. You’re completely unconvinced by the evidence supporting evolution across a range of disciplines, such as the evidence for common ancestry that HERVs provide, but believing that Jesus was actually raised from the dead or that women originated from a rib, you’re like “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” This tends to suggest that it’s not really evidence that’s driving your opinions. I mean, really–just what scientific evidence is there really, that shows that the first woman came from a rib? And yet, you believe it with every fiber of your being.

    Comment by Ron | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  12. Thats why I brought the whole bit about my conversion. I first believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. From that, it is easier to believe that God created the universe, and that God made the first woman out of a rib.

    I have tried to explain this to others in the hopes of leading them down the same path God took me down, but there is a lot that I can’t explain.

    All I know is that I was where you are about 8 months ago, using science as part of my beliefs that there is no God. And through a chain of events God pursued me. At first I fought it with everything I had. I can explain a lot of the different train of thoughts that I went through leading up to the conversion, but I really can’t explain what happened to seal the deal.

    So yes, I do believe with every fiber of my being. And no, I can’t totally explain every reason for why.

    The main evidence that sealed the deal for me was that the apostles and so many other early Christians were willing to die for their beliefs that Jesus was the Messiah. I know that a lot of people die for their religious beliefs, but I think that you would be hard-pressed to find 12 men who were willing to die for something that was either a lie, or that they weren’t totally sure of.

    You put that together with the conversion of Saul/Paul, who was among the elite of the Jewish leaders and on the rise, and was even persecuting Christians. After he was blinded on the road to Damascus, he goes to Damascus and instead of persecuting the Christians, he joins them, and convinces them that his conversion is not a hoax to infiltrate their ranks. Then he goes on to write a huge chunk of the New Testament. And he holds firm to his belief that Jesus was the anointed Messiah of God, to this extent:

    “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” -2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (and Paul calls that boasting, by the way)

    My brother walked me through a lot of that, but I held to the belief that the Bible wasn’t really what he believed it to be, which is the Word of God.

    Then one day my heart was pierced. For some reason I remembered when I was young and heard about Solomon in Sunday School. I remembered praying for wisdom like Solomon had, and thought, what if God answered that prayer, gave me wisdom, and I used the wisdom that He gave me to explain Him away just so that I could live as though there was no God? My heart sunk so fast that it felt like it bounced off my left hip.

    So from that moment, I was merely open to the possibility that there was a God. Before I refused to even consider it as a possibility. If I read anything anywhere that hinted that there was a God, I rejected it outright. And I realized that when I read something that supported my atheism I was abnormally attracted to it. I realized that was because my beliefs were not as strong as I thought they were, and that I didn’t believe there was a God because I didn’t want to believe there was a God.

    At the same time, I still wasn’t convinced, and didn’t really want to be convinced. But, the only strand of unbelief that I had left was that the Bible wasn’t credible. So, when I “happened” to come across Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”, I read it with a slightly open mind, willing to actually give it a chance.

    I have given the book to others, and they either refuse to read it or read it as I would have a year ago- that is without actually giving it a chance to be true. Before that, I thought that the book would have the same effect on everybody who read it that it had on me. Now I realize that everything that happened before I read the book was way more important than the book itself, because if I had not been in the position I was when I read the book, then I would have either refused to read it or rejected it before I read it and read it with a closed mind.

    Anyways, after I was converted everything made sense. The way that everything coexists. The way that nothing people pursue will truly satisfy. And, fast forward 8 months and here I am- going to atheists’ blogs and trying to convert them and trying to single-handedly take on the entire scientific community!

    Comment by bigham | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  13. Thats why I brought the whole bit about my conversion. I first believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. From that, it is easier to believe that God created the universe, and that God made the first woman out of a rib.

    I think you may have missed the whole point of the women-from-ribs idea. What I’m trying to point out to you is simply this: You can’t claim to be skeptical of the scientific evidence for evolution when you believe instead that the first woman came from a rib, for which there is no scientific evidence at all. It would be like me saying I disagree with the scientific evidence for astronomy, when I believe instead that the earth rests on the back of a giant turtle.

    If you insist on rejecting the scientific case for evolution, at least be honest about the reasons why. Tell people you don’t accept evolution because it conflicts with your religious beliefs. At least that way you’re being up-front about it.

    Comment by Ron | November 13, 2007 | Reply

  14. You want it, you got it.

    I don’t accept the theory of evolution in large part because I believe in God, I believe that He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible, the Word of God, and I have not been convinced by what I have seen from science in an effort to prove otherwise.

    To quote Lee Strobel in “The Case for Faith,” his sequel to “The Case for Christ”:

    “This is not, I soon discovered, a case of religion versus science; rather, this is an issue of science versus science. More and more biologists, biochemists, and other researcers–not just Christians–have raised serious objections to evolutionary theory in recent years, claiming that its broad inferences are sometimes based on flimsy, incomplete, or flawed data.”

    He quotes biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University:
    “The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself–not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs….The reluctance of science to embrace the conclusion of intelligent design….has no justifiable foundation….Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don’t want there to be anything beyond nature.”

    Strobel then says, “Everyone concedes that evolution is true to some extent. Undeniably, there are variations within species of animals and plants, which explains why there are more than two hundred different varieties of dogs, cows can be bred for improved milk production, and bacteria can adapt and develop immunity to antibiotics. This is called ‘microevolution.'”

    “What the fossil record does show is that in rocks dated back some five hundred and seventy million years, there is the sudden appearance of nearly all the animal phyla, and they appear fully formed, ‘without a trace of the evolutionary ancestors that Darwinists require.’ It’s a phenomenon that points more readily toward a Creator than Darwinism.”
    (He cites Phillip E. Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial” there)

    Strobel says that he was in the crowd that didn’t want there to be anything beyond nature, as he says so that he could, “pursue [his] own agenda in life without moral constraints.”

    That is where I was as well. Are you in that boat too? Do you hold so strongly to the theory of evolution because you don’t want there to be anything beyond nature?

    Comment by bigham | November 13, 2007 | Reply

  15. There is God, whether you believe in Him or not.
    And there is sin, and we are sinners, whether you call it sin or not.
    And Jesus Christ really was born of a virgin, really lived a perfect life, with total and complete righteousness, and He really died on a cross, and He really did come back to life.
    He said that the righteousness that a person must have to enter the kingdom of heaven must surpass that of the Pharisees, who lived by the Mosaic law, and Paul said that as a Pharisee he was blameless. So our righteousness has to be better than blameless to enter the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus said that we are to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.

    The only way that anybody can have that sort of righteousness, and that sort of perfection, is if we could somehow have Jesus’ righteousness and Jesus’ perfection.

    We all respond to that in one of two ways: either we turn from it and refuse to believe it, maybe clinging to science in an effort to believe there is no God. Or we acknowledge Jesus as the King of the universe, trust in Him, and live by His teaching, and pass on the love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness that He gave us, even laying down our lives for others as He laid down His life for us.

    If we do that, then we receive His gift of eternal life. By coming to Him and giving Him our allegiance, He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness and His perfection, so that we may be reconciled with the One, True, Holy, Loving, and Just Living God of the universe.

    Comment by bigham | November 13, 2007 | Reply

  16. Hi Bigham–

    The problem seems to be that you haven’t spent any time at the website I offered. When you take the opinion of somebody like Lee Strobel about biology over the experts themselves, something is wrong.

    I also notice that you include a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment with your replies. But why should I consider joining a religion that depends on this level of ignorance? If accepting Jesus means I have to start believing that evolution is all a big lie or that the earth is only 6000 years old, then Jesus will just have to wait.

    The only people who still have a problem with evolution are conservative Christians. Everybody else–including mainstream Christians–accepts it. Do I want to join the ‘special ed’ wing of society? Do I want to ride on the ‘short bus’ known as conservative Christianity? I don’t think so.

    Comment by Ron | November 14, 2007 | Reply

  17. Ron,

    I admit that I am somewhat ignorant when it comes to evolution.

    But, two things that were put forward as strongholds of evolution in my education- one in high school and one in college- I have seen that they were based on flat out faulty information.

    The website that I linked to on this blog showed that the peppered moth experiment that was used as “proof” of natural selection was based on flawed experiments. The site even quotes an evolutionist who said that he agrees that the experiment was flawed and that the experiment needs to be recreated in order for peppered moths to provide support for evolution.
    And the scientist who did the experiment where they mixed certain ingredients and added electricity to “create” DNA, said himself that the experiment was done under conditions that would not have been present on earth- I’m pretty sure his last name is/was Miller.

    And any evidence that scientists give that supposedly supports evolution does not get us any closer to any idea of how life originated, or how DNA assembled to make the complexity that is evident in humans.

    If I was to see some evidence for either of those things, or some actual evidence that life evolved from a common ancestor, then I would try to reconcile my beliefs with evolution.

    As for now, the only compelling evidence that I have seen in support of evolution suggests that the earth is older than you would gather from the Bible. All other seeming contradictions that I have seen in the Bible have had explanations, and I believe that there is an explanation for that as well.

    Whatever evidence that you have seen still leaves a gap that you must cover with a “leap of faith.” As for me, my faith is in the living God.

    But, I would hate for you to be turned off on the gospel because I insist on arguing about evolution. Nothing that evolution or science can prove will save your soul. That is why I include the ‘Come to Jesus’ moments. You put your faith in science. God is bigger than science.

    What issues do you have with God, Jesus, and the Bible?

    -David

    Comment by bigham | November 14, 2007 | Reply

  18. Hi again, David–

    Let me get one thing out of the way up front: Do not feel pressured to try to convert me, or blame yourself if you can’t. I was raised evangelical and turned apostate; I am now an atheist. I’ve thought through my views pretty thoroughly, so your chances of actually getting me to re-consider are pretty slim. I am definitely not open-minded on the subject of God–it’s hard to be when your mind’s made up, and mine was years ago. I’m perfectly comfortable as an atheist, and my views on other people’s beliefs basically boil down to ‘If you’re comfortable with your beliefs, and they don’t lead you to anything destructive, have at it.’
    Of course, this is not to say I don’t like apologetics discussions like this one. I love them. They’re like a chess game as far as I’m concerned. Just don’t expect miracles. Still, if Flew can change… ;>

    All this is kind of off topic, of course. The main question before us is: ‘Is evolution valid science? If it is, then all interest in intelligent design is lost.
    So–Common ancestry. Would common ancestry be enough to ‘prove’ evolution to you? Where do you have a problem with the mainstream scientific account? For that matter–are you a young-earth creationist? (You know–The world is ~6000 yrs old, the flood actually happened, etc.) I need to plumb the depths. How deep are you in?

    Seriously. Dude. That life evolved is a historical fact. I can’t say it any plainer than that. HERVs prove it. There’s a lot of evidence supporting common ancestry. It’s a closed issue among biologists. It really is. Some of the details are hot topics, but that life evolved is accepted among biologists as fact.

    As far as what issues I have with the Gospel, it can mostly be boiled down to ‘I don’t believe in the supernatural.’ But other problems also crop up. For instance–Describing yourself as evil and worthy of punishment. You may be, but you don’t seem like it, and really, I doubt that you are. I’m sure you’re not perfect, but there’s really no need to be. To me, it’s enough that your heart’s in the right place.

    I think I find Christianity distasteful for its heavy reliance on guilt. It really is a big guilt trip in a lot of ways, and guilt trips are hurtful. Your suggestion is to respond to this attempt to manipulate my feelings by asking the angry God to please forgive me. My way is to reject the guilt trip. You didn’t ask to be born. If God brought you, a thinking creature capable of feeling pain into this world then he has enormous responsibility for your well-being, just as you might have for your own child. You are definitely not some plaything with which to do as he good and well pleases. Just having the power to do something doesn’t necessarily give you the right to do it, even if you’re God. Even God wouldn’t have the right to pull the wings off sparrows.

    Well, anyway. Just don’t forget about that evangelical website I pointed you to, OK?

    Comment by Ron | November 14, 2007 | Reply

  19. I don’t feel pressure to convert you. I only feel pressure to share the gospel with you, and leave the converting up to the Spirit.

    So many things converged on me at once, and made it to where it really wasn’t a choice for me. I can only hope and pray that the Spirit will do the same for you, and try to share with you what I think.

    The guilt trips led me away from Christianity when I was in high school too. The guilt trips suck. But, I think that the guilt trips are due to faults in American Christianity, not faults in Christ.

    I think that a big problem with our churches is that we screw up the whole striving for perfection thing.

    We are to strive for perfection. And it is easiest to have things under control around other Christians, at church, etc. But churches too often become a place where everybody “puts their best foot forward” and acts like they have everything under control. If the next guy doesn’t look like he is struggling, I’m not going to let him know that I’m struggling.

    And everybody looks like they have everything under control, and they don’t look like they struggle with what I’m struggling with.

    So people tend to isolate. I know thats how it was with me when I was in high school. I was doubting and had questions and I was struggling with things. But I thought a “good Christian” wasn’t supposed to do those things. So I kept my doubts, questions, and sins to myself. And I thought that I was being strong to just push those things to the side and keep on pushing forward in faith.

    I was isolating everything which meant a lot of lonely battles and a lot of lonely failures. And a lot of guilt trips.

    On the other hand, if we can foster an environment where people are not afraid to confess sins, share their doubts, and ask questions we would realize that we all struggle with the same things. We all have questions and doubts, and we all struggle with temptations and sins. Christianity doesn’t promise immunity to any of those. Christianity promises ultimate satisfaction in God alone, through Christ alone.

    But, we all have to struggle to keep our eyes on God and keep our minds on things of the Spirit, which are both easier said than done.

    I would love to be able to be as accepting of your beliefs as you are of mine, but to do so would oppose my beliefs that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

    I do believe that God is an angry God and God is sometimes a terrible God. I watched a video of a preacher the other day, and he made a great point that I totally agree with. He said that he met with a lady that had been raped, and the lady said something like, “I know that God doesn’t get angry, so I’m trying not to get angry.” He pretty much said, bull crap, God would be unjust, unloving, and unrighteous if He was not angry at rapists.

    And he went on to say, that if you think about God looking down on this world, with all of the rape, murder, and other problems, He would definitely be unjust, unloving, and unrighteous if He never got angry.

    So God is an angry God, but He is not unjust or unrighteous or wrong, ever.

    Another thing- I have been thinking about an analogy that might be helpful. I think that parental analogies often work well with God- think about two scenarios:

    1) somebody that you don’t know steals your car and wrecks it
    and, 2) you child steals your car and wrecks it

    You are going to be angry and upset in both cases, and seek a certain level of justice in both cases. But, love is hopefully going to keep you from seeking the same level of justice in both cases. Your love for your child would cause you to show mercy towards your child. You would hopefully punish the child, but without involving the police.

    In the same way, by aligning ourselves with the Messiah of God we are adopted into the family of God, and He shows us mercy, compassion, and love.

    The book of Romans talks about Pharaoh, and says that God raised Pharaoh up and hardened his heart so that the world would know the power of God, and so that God would get glory. And it says that God will have mercy on whom He has mercy, and compassion on whom He has compassion. Is that “fair” by our standards? Probably not. But, who are we to question God?

    I think that we are all created for the glory of God, it is just a question of whether or not our hearts will be hardened towards God and He will get glory in kind of a negative way, or we will acknowledge Him, submit to His authority, and seek to glorify Him by being satisfied in Him.

    Thanks for discussing this with me, I am enjoying this as much as you are. I looked at that site a little bit the other day, and again tonight- I was a little more opposed to it from the start the other day than I was tonight. I’ll check it out again soon.

    Thanks,
    David

    Comment by bigham | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  20. Hi again, David–

    Thanks for checking out that site I directed you to. I think it’s important to try to break evangelicals of their opposition to evolutionary theory, simply because evolution really is established science, and evangelicals need to be science literate as much as other people do.

    You mention God being angry at rapists, which I would have no problem with in and of itself. Where I have a problem is that he isn’t just angry at rapists. He’s angry at everybody. I think a good case can be made that God as depicted in scripture is a monster. Back to the rapists example: If you’re a healthy 16 year old male and a babe walks down the street in a bikini, you’re going to have thoughts. That’s perfectly normal, and a product of your hormones raging inside you, not some invisible demon perched on your shoulder and hissing into your ear. But does the Christian worldview take such an understanding view? Nope–As far as the almighty is concerned, whatever thoughts you just had are just as bad as if you actually committed the deed you’re thinking about. You’re just as guilty as if you carried the deed out, and that’s a load. But that is the Biblical view. Guilt trip. Now, if you want to go through life feeling shame and guilt every time you find yourself desiring a beautiful girl, that’s your business. Not me. Christianity declares you to be evil not only if you commit rape. Christianity declares you evil just for being alive.

    You say God is never unjust. I beg to differ. The Bible says that God brought a flood that destroyed all air-breathing life on earth because humanity was evil. The only problem is that all humanity couldn’t possibly have been evil. There presumably were small children alive at the time. Were they evil small children? Hmmmm? (Best Dr. Evil voice) Evangelicals never tire of pointing out to the rest of us how innocent the unborn are. Well, there were probably pregnant women alive at the time. Did every single one of them get knocked up at some orgy? And even if they did–How could the unborn children they were carrying be evil and deserving of death by drowning as well? But that’s what happened, according to the Bible. Remember–God’s omnipotent. That means he could have figured out how to just drown the evil ones, and let the innocent live. But noooo–He killed everybody. You’re worshipping Hitler, in a way.

    But anyway, like I’ve said before–If your religious beliefs comfort you, and don’t lead you to do destructive things, then by all means–enjoy them. But please–Don’t try and re-write the sciences that you don’t like–and that’s exactly what evangelicals are trying to do when they call for intelligent design to be taught in the schools.

    It really is possible to be an evangelical and still be a functioning member of the 21st century.

    Comment by Ron | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  21. Ron,

    I had a good laugh imagining you putting your pinky to your mouth, Dr. Evil style.

    I believe that we are created with the conflicting “inner men” that Romans 7:14-25 speaks of: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%207:14-25&version=47

    I would also suggest that, although you and I are hopefully above and beyond rape, rape starts in the same place as those thoughts we might have about a babe walking by in a bikini. I don’t know how good of a thing it is for me to imagine the thinking of a rapist, but I will do so:

    I would think that there are probably some rapists who are sick enough to set their mind on rape without that idea growing out of lust. No lust in their minds, they just want to go out and rape somebody.
    But I would think that some, if not most or all, start with lust. They see what they can’t have, they want what they can’t have, they take it.

    Similarly, when we look at a babe in a bikini with impure thoughts, we see what we can’t have, want what we can’t have, and we take what we can’t have, if only in our minds. The only difference between us and rapists is that they act on the thoughts in their minds, and don’t take “no” for an answer.

    I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t struggle with impure thoughts. But I see it as something that I need to fight against. From every perspective other than my own, those thoughts are wrong. Other guys are going to be more sympathetic to those thoughts than other girls would be, because they deal with them more often, but I think that they even guys would at least agree on this:

    To the babe’s dad, brother, boyfriend, or husband those thoughts would be wrong, and they would probably be upset about them. Unless they were overly sympathetic to those thoughts or in some cases boyfriends or husbands might feel some pride… but other than that, they probably wouldn’t like where our minds are going with her when she walks by.

    And those thoughts are harmful to us as well. I don’t know your “marital status,” but I am not married and don’t have a girlfriend. But, I hope to be married some day. And my future spouse is one of the biggest reasons that I fight those impure thoughts as best I can. When I consider “her” perspective, I regret every thing that I have looked at that I shouldn’t have looked at, every impure thought that I have ever had, and all of the “experience” with the opposite sex that I ever had. And I know that if I don’t fight those things now, it will be more difficult to fight them later, when “she” does come along.

    And I would rather fight those thoughts now, and take any guilt trips that might come along with the fight, than to accept them as natural and as something that I can’t overcome.
    The guilt trip that I would have for hurting “her” by implying that “she” is not enough to satisfy my needs would be a lot worse than any guilt trip I could have now.
    And I see the guilt trips now as necessary to be able to avoid the other guilt trips later.

    So, I see it as a fight. A fight that I don’t always win. But a fight that I don’t want to avoid, because any casualties now will be infinitely worth it if they lead to future victories.

    And, I think that if I avoid fighting now, out of cowardice in thinking it is a battle I cannot win or something I must accept because of my hormones, I will be taking “her” into battle with me when “she” comes along. Just as I would not want to put her in the midst of a real battle, I want to be strong and courageous in the fight now, so that I will be better suited to fight that battle when her feelings are at stake.

    All of that to say that from several perspectives- the babe’s dad, brothers, significant other; my future spouse; my family members that would not like what was going through my head- those thoughts are wrong.

    God created me and the babe- does that not give Him the right to stake a claim on how and what I am to think, or not to think, about her? And, if my simple mind can fathom ways in which those thoughts are wrong, from both my perspective and the perspectives of others, the unfathomable living God surely could come up with more reasons that those thoughts are wrong.

    So, although most guys would agree that both our eyes and our hormones tug at us when a babe walks by in a bikini, I disagree that we have to accept lust as an unavoidable consequence.

    And, we can trust that God’s way is better. Research shows that the people who are most satisfied with their sex lives are people in a committed marriage. So God is being loving to us to command that we seek to have marriages of one man to one woman, who are committed to only each other. And He is being loving to instruct us in ways that will make those marriages better, more fulfilling, and more satisfying- and one of those ways is to not lust after any woman who is not my wife.

    God doesn’t want us to give up sex. God wants us to have the best, most satisfying sex possible- which is sex within the confines of a mutually committed marriage. Sex is a gift from God, and a gift that He wants us to enjoy. He just wants us to enjoy it His way, which happens to be the best and most satisfying way for us to enjoy it.

    But, thats just my take on it.
    Love to hear your thoughts..

    -David

    Comment by bigham | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  22. Hi David–

    Good to hear from you again.

    As far as the ‘passing babe’ idea goes, my suspicion isn’t that most guys leer at the woman and have fantasies of dragging her off into the bushes, kicking and screaming. What most guys probably fantasize is that this babe–who probably is only dimly aware the guy in question even exists–is just as hot for him as he is for her, and they’re having a nice private little orgy together, so rape, even as a thought, probably doesn’t even enter the minds of most guys. Interestingly, most experts on the subject say that rape isn’t usually a crime of passion–it’s a crime of violence. That is to say, the intent isn’t the sex itself, it’s to use sex as a means to injure and degrade the woman.

    As far as your thoughts about all the harm you’re causing yourself, your future wife and her family–I just don’t see it. To me, being sexually attracted to somebody else is just as normal as being attracted to a big, juicy steak when you’re hungry. This highlights another problem with Christianity–it’s incredibly puritanical as far as sex goes. If you’re really concerned about impure thoughts, by all means–talk to your pastor. But balance what he says by going to a good counselor afterwards. (BTW–I’m not suggesting you are having these struggles, and I didn’t get that impression from your comments. I’m just speaking in general).

    To criminalize you for having ‘impure thoughts’ about the opposite sex also ignores the simple fact that while you may have those thoughts, you also restrain yourself from carrying them out. You deserve credit for that–ask the object of your desires if you doubt it. That means God should give you a great deal of credit for your restraint. But does the Bible cut you any slack? Nooo. The Bible says that thinking about the act is morally the same as committing the act, which is ludicrous, because by restraining yourself you don’t victimize the woman. But you’re just as guilty as if you had brutally raped her, by Biblical standards. See what I mean? Guilt trip. No good deed goes unpunished–in this case, restraining yourself.

    It’s just one more means of messing with your mind.

    Here’s another area where I feel Christianity shows its true colors. And to me, this is a much bigger objection than the whole thing about temptation. According to evangelicals, if you don’t sincerely accept Jesus into your heart at some point, then you are damned. No exceptions. This means that in all likelihood, Anne Frank is in hell right now, since there’s no evidence she converted to Christianity as she lay dying in a concentration camp. What kind of a God would allow somebody as innocent as Anne Frank to suffer any harm at all, much less go through what she is supposedly enduring right now?

    To me, the idea of any God watching while somebody like Anne Frank is tortured, like he’s watching some kind of snuff film, is so repellent that I wouldn’t worship such a God even if you proved he was real. And yet, most evangelicals will tell you that’s exactly what happened, in AF’s case–if she didn’t convert prior to dying, that is.

    When I said it’s like worshipping Hitler, in a very real way, it is. AF’s being punished for clinging to her Jewish faith until she died, the same faith she spent so much time hiding out like a rat in an attic for. The same Jewishness she was betrayed, suffered and died for. (It seems Jesus isn’t the only martyr among the Jewish people). For any God to sit on his hands and watch all that undeserved suffering, and then to follow it up with an eternity of torture–of a brutality that would have made even Nazis cringe–well, what can I say? You worship that if you want to. Not me. It would be far nobler to spend an eternity in hell alongside Anne Frank, sharing her suffering, than to spend a second worshipping the God that put her there.

    Do I sound angry at God? I’m not; you can’t be angry at something that isn’t there.

    Comment by Ron | November 15, 2007 | Reply

  23. Ron,
    thanks again for your thoughts!

    Let me take you a step further than you went. I believe in the complete sovereignty of God and in unconditional election. Therefore, my beliefs include these two little doozies: God was in complete control over Adolf Hitler. And God was in complete control over Anne Frank’s salvation. So, in a way, you could say that my God caused everything Hitler did and if Anne Frank is in Hell, then He chose it to be that way. Although, I would not put it in quite as crude of a manner as that, I really couldn’t disagree with you if you did.

    If you were to ask, “Do you believe that God could have prevented every terror done by Adolf Hitler?” I would say, “Absolutely, I do.”
    And if you were to ask, “Do you believe that God could have saved Anne Frank from Hell, if she is indeed in Hell?” I would say, “Absolutely, I do.”

    Consequently, by the virtue of God’s sovereignty and unconditional election, God is responsible for Hitler’s actions and Frank’s salvation (or condemnation).

    Thats the God I worship. Thats the God I love. Thats the God I praise. Thats the God I pray to. Thats the God I live for.

    If you didn’t think I was a total nutcase before, do you now?

    Let me try now to defend the living God. Not that He needs my defense, but that I believe that my defense might benefit you. And I pray that some how and some way, whether because of, in spite of, or in indifference to my words, the Holy Spirit will move in your heart. And maybe, just maybe, your world will be turned upside down the way that mine was, and you will align yourself with the anointed Messiah of God, Christ Jesus our Lord.

    First of all, on the whole Hitler thing, the Bible says, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” -Psalm 115:3
    So in order to believe that the whole Bible is true, I also have to believe that if He wanted to prevent Hitler’s actions, then He could have. So based on that verse, for some reason it was more pleasing for God to allow the holocaust than to prevent it. Was it necessary as punishment for sins? Maybe. But I have sinned a lot, and God hasn’t run me through a death camp. Was it punishment for rejecting His Son as the Messiah and crucifying Him? Maybe. But I rejected the Messiah for a while, so if thats the case then I deserve everything they got. And, it all comes back to the sovereignty of God: I believe that God, in His supreme sovereignty, ordained for most of the Jews to reject Jesus as the Messiah, and then ordained for Hitler to kill so many of them. So no matter where I go with that one, I always come up with unanswered questions. And I believe that it could very well be a mystery that I don’t have an answer for until I can ask God face-to-face.

    For now, the best I can do is this: I trust that God allowed Hitler to do what He did for the glory of God and because in the “big picture” it was necessary. I do not think that God enjoyed any of Hitler’s actions. And I believe that Hitler will answer for His actions. But I believe that God grieved and was miserable over those events just as He was miserable as He watched His Son being beaten by a Roman soldier, led through streets carrying His cross, spit on, ridiculed, and crucified.
    I do not believe that either the Cross or the holocaust, in and of themselves, were pleasing in the sight of the almighty God. But I do believe, however, that in the big picture both events were pleasing to Him. If not, then I believe that He would have ordained other ways.

    So, I don’t know what purpose it served, but I trust that God, although He was in no way happy with it in and of itself, knows what He is doing now and knew what He was doing in allowing the holocaust. And I hope, pray, and believe that I would feel the same way even if I was in the midst of similar circumstances myself.

    Now, on to Anne Frank. My brother explained this in his New Testament class this week and I liked it, so I will borrow it and use it here:
    Imagine a horizontal line. All men are below that line because of sin. God, because of no other reason than His mercy and for the ultimate purpose of His glory, chose from the beginning of time to raise certain individuals above that line to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. He made those choices regardless of merit. He did not choose on the basis of wisdom, intelligence, strength, appearance, or any other factor. So, regardless of whether Anne Frank’s eternal residence will be heaven or hell, God made that decision long ago.

    However, God ordained this world in a way in which He is neither unjust nor unloving, even though He chooses who receives salvation, and conversely chooses (by not choosing) who receives condemnation.

    Enter human responsibility:
    “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” -1 Peter 2:8
    So, even though God appoints the lost to their doom, He is not unjust because their doom is based on their disobedience of the word.

    So everybody is below the line based on disobedience to the word. The Father draws the “elect” to the Son on the basis of the Father’s mercy, for the purpose of His glory. And this is not unjust because the elect do not “deserve” salvation any more than the lost.

    So Jesus Christ bought your life and mine when He died on the cross. And you will be held responsible for your response to His offer of salvation.

    Oh how I long that the Spirit would move in your heart and the Father would draw you to the Son! I would do almost anything short of giving up my own salvation in return for yours.

    -David

    Comment by bigham | November 16, 2007 | Reply

  24. Hi David–

    I’m not sure what to say about all this. I have no doubt you’re a sincere and decent person, and I don’t think your beliefs change that. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t worship deities that torture helpless Jewish Holocaust victims. I just don’t. I wouldn’t worship a God like that even if you could prove he was real.

    To me it’s like this: If I had a choice between becoming a victim of the Nazis and being sent to one of their death camps, or working in safety and comfort in the factory that makes the poison gas the Nazis used to murder all those Jews, I really don’t know which I would choose. I never know at any given moment how much character I possess. But one thing I do know: Morally, one of those choices is far better than the other one is.

    The choice you’re presenting me with is very similar. ‘Join us, and your hereafter will be spent in safety and comfort. Anne Frank made her choice–let her suffer.’

    No way. I may not be able to stop her suffering. But at least I won’t worship the one torturing her.

    Comment by Ron | November 17, 2007 | Reply

  25. This:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2016:19-31;&version=47;
    is the way that I think Anne Frank would feel about what you said. If she is indeed in hell, I think that like the rich man in Luke 16 she would want for somebody to be sent to her relatives, to you, and to anybody else who would listen so that they might avoid her fate.

    I would say that God allowed the “helpless Jewish Holocaust victims” to be tortured, rather than saying that He tortured them… but I guess there isn’t a whole lot of difference there.

    But what you say sounds very similar to my thinking not too long ago. I knew some people that I didn’t think were “saved” and I thought if they were going to hell I’d be fine going along with them. Goes to show you how much God can change things.

    A couple of thoughts on your previous responses that I failed to address- I think you said that you went apostate.. I skimmed back through your comments and tried to find that, but I didn’t.

    I just wanted to comment on my “belief” and my “faith” when I was younger, and see if that is similar to where you were before you were “de-converted,” as one girl calls it on her blog.

    When I was 6 years old I was baptized, mainly because I overheard my mom say that my older brother was “jumping up and down, he was so excited to walk down the aisle and get baptized” when he was my age. I felt like if he got “saved” at my age, I should be ready to get “saved.” So soon after that I was walking the aisle, talking to the preacher, and getting baptized.

    The problem with that is that I was trying to do it on my timing, not God’s. Also, my “faith” and my “beliefs” were really all based on what I was told. I knew all the popular stories from years in Sunday school, had been to church almost every Sunday from as far back as I could remember all the way through high school. And I thought that I had saving faith. But my heart wasn’t really in it. And I didn’t really have a relationship with God. I prayed, read the Bible some, and tried to live as best I could according to what I learned at church and tried to treat people like I wanted to be treated.

    But I think my faith was more in the church and in my family and other church members, rather than in God. Which I think is a major reason that it was so easy for me to turn my back on those beliefs. When unanswered questions, doubts, and temptations came flooding, I didn’t have a strong, Bible-based faith, so I didn’t necessarily look for holes in God, the Bible, or Christianity, I looked for holes in the church I went to and in other Christians I knew. There is no perfect church and there is no perfect Christian. So, of course, the holes were there.

    Anyways, now that I have experienced what I believe to be true salvation, learned a lot more about what the Bible has to say, and thought about my “belief” and my “faith” when I was younger, I would say that I was not really a Christian when I was younger, and I was definitely not “saved” then. I would say that I was a Pharisee.

    The Pharisees thought that they could attain salvation by living as perfect as they could according to Moses’ law. In Matthew 15 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2015%20;&version=47; ), Jesus said that the Pharisees honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. That is how I was, I tried to honor God with my lips and my actions, but my heart was far from Him.

    Does any of that sound similar to your experience? I would love to hear more about your experience whether it was similar to mine or not!

    Also, I don’t want you to “join us (so that) your hereafter will be spent in safety and comfort.”

    I want you to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the King of this universe, put your faith in Him, delight in the law of the Lord, and live for God, because Jesus is the King of the universe and He is worthy of my all and your all. If you do that, I do believe that your hereafter will be spent in safety and comfort, but I believe there will be so much more- both in this life and the next.

    I believe that Jesus offers hope and satisfaction in this life, where there is very little hope or satisfaction elsewhere. Whatever you seek, whatever you desire might seem to offer hope and might seem to satisfy you. But I want you to be truly happy. Sure, I was happy before I came to acknowledge Jesus as the King of the universe. And I’m sure that you are happy now. But I have reached a whole new level of happiness that is beyond anything I could have imagined, and that is what I want for you.

    -David

    Comment by bigham | November 17, 2007 | Reply

  26. Hey, David–

    Let’s see; so much to cover:

    I think it’s fair to say you and I are motivated differently.

    Your motivation is some kind of emotional release. I’m much more analytical.

    I am also struck by the level of concern you show for me. I’ll tell you as an ex-evangelical that I recognize that is a good sign your heart is where you want it to be. You genuinely care that I’m on the edge of a horrible Biblical precipice, even though you barely know me.

    Because I sense that your worry seems genuine, I must say that it is cause for concern on my part; just knowing you are troubled. Let me reassure you–even tho I know it won’t–that the actual chances you are right–that the Bible as written is right–are infiniesmally small. I would gauge them at microscopic portions of a single percent. For all practical purposes– zero. This is literally true: I rate my chances of going to the Biblical hell to be on-par with my going to the muslim hell.

    Put it this way–I rate the chances of my actually going to actual, Biblical hell to be on par with the odds the first woman actually did come from a rib. The actual scientific evidence the first woman came from a rib is zero. The actual, scientific evidence against it is essentially 100%. That right there discredits the literal–note ‘literal’–Genesis story, so maybe the rest of it is wrong, too.

    That’s really what the whole ‘evolution’ thing’s about: can you read the Bible as figurative in places, like Genesis? If you can, you view the whole Genesis account as figurative, used to show the higher truth of falling from grace and the need for atonement, so evolution’s not a problem for you. Concentrate on the salvation message and let others argue the culture wars. That’s smarter apologetics anyway, IMHO–hammer away at the central theme.

    [Oh, I just realized I’ve been remiss all this time. If you want a good link to find out more about evolution from the experts themselves, go to http://www.talkorigins.org/, or even better, The Panda’s Thumb at http://www.talkorigins.org/ . ]

    So what’s my story? Well, basically, I’m a Sputnik kid that was raised by evangelicals. The Sputnik side won out, I guess.

    I think it’s a safe bet that certain personality types are more likely to want to worship…something, while others are less so. I’m starting to view the happiness you speak of as a kind of getting high. In fact, I’ve even hears the term ‘Getting high on Jesus’.

    Comment by Ron | November 17, 2007 | Reply

  27. David–Are you still there?

    Comment by Ron | November 20, 2007 | Reply

  28. OK–I tried to post for a couple of days, but it wouldn’t take, for some reason.

    All I wanted to say was that I hope my previous comments didn’t offend you–that was certainly not my intent.

    Comment by Ron | November 20, 2007 | Reply

  29. sorry… its been a busy couple of days.
    I am still here, and have not been offended.

    I was thinking about you and your comments on the guilt trips. I think that we were made to feel guilty. If you look at everything in the Creation in Genesis, pretty much everything except for humans works the way its supposed to.

    And I don’t necessarily think that the guilt trips go away just because a person stops believing in God. As a believer, you had certain expectations of what a Christian was supposed to do, and when you failed to meet those expectations guilt ensued. As a non-Christian, you still set expectations for yourself, and I assume that you fail to meet at least some of those expectations.

    And that is where the insurmountable pleasure of forgiven sins comes into play. We bring sin and guilt to God, and He gives us forgiveness and salvation- neither of which have anything to do with any good or bad deeds we have ever done or will ever do. Because He is loving, gracious, and merciful He gives salvation freely to those who call on the name of the Lord.

    So, I still sin and still have occasional guilt trips. But I don’t think that guilt is something that is monopolized by Christians, and those guilt trips are washed away along with my sins when I remember Jesus Christ and what His death accomplished for me on the cross.

    And even though we both have memories of guilt from our previous experiences as professing Christians, I think that guilt is something that should draw you to God, rather than pushing you away from Him. Your guilt doesn’t go away because you turn your back on God, and live like He isn’t there. He is there, ready and willing to take away all of your sin, all of your guilt, and all of your disappointment.

    I think that any drop in the level of guilt that you feel in living as though there is no God is a result of lowered standards.

    On the ‘getting high on Jesus’ thing- I think that a person is to worship God in spirit and in truth. I think that Christians should rightly have joy and excitement and happiness from Jesus, and it should be kind of a “high.”
    But it has to be grounded in truth. The more of a clear picture that I get of Jesus, the greater I realize He was and is. So all that to say, its not to be a “I love Jesus and I’m happy about it” without first having a knowledge of Jesus.

    I hope some/all of that makes sense… I’m a little frazzled. Hope all is well with you! …and sorry again about the delayed response.

    -David

    Comment by bigham | November 21, 2007 | Reply

  30. David–

    Hey, thanks for not dropping out. I really do enjoy these kinds of conversations. Way more than I should, for sure. I could be spending this time actually doing something.

    Hope you’re not getting too frazzled, man. Recognize that most of that is likely seasonal and will pass on its own in a couple of months.

    We’re using “guilt trip” in different ways, which is leading to confusion. To me, a guilt trip is an attempt to manipulate someone’s emotions. Manipulation is key to my usage. To me, a guilt trip is always negative.

    You seem to be using it to describe a period of getting depressed because of some huge load of personal guilt over things you’ve done, like you planned 9-11 or something.

    For Christianity to work, you must first be convinced that you are vile. Don’t get me wrong, there are vile people in the world. I just don’t think you’re one of them. (And remember, this is an atheist talking). I think you’re almost certainly a decent human being with many of the issues flesh is heir to. Big deal. Take care of business, but ethically. Do whatever works to solve these issues. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, if believing that Jesus washed away this burden helps you to get rid of it, then by all means–have at it.

    I reject Christianity, in large part, because it seeks to convince ordinary people that they are vile and depraved, little better than common criminals morally. I think this is false on it’s face, and reject Christianity as a result.

    Just because you’ve had a lustful thought toward women doesn’t make you a rapist literally or morally, I don’t care what Pat Robertson says. And I reject any religion or philosophy that says it does as mentally unhealthy and false in principle.

    As far as the ‘lowered standards’ goes, no need to guess–we can look at a specific example: the example of the 21 year old male with normal hormones that sees a babe walking down the street. According to you, just fantasizing about satisfying his urges with her is ethically the same as doing it, and all I’m doing is condoning rape.

    My view says that rape isn’t rape if there’s no actual victim involved, so the accusation of being a rapist is false for that reason alone. My view says you should actually be rewarded for not following through on your biological urges, not condemned as a rapist. When you have lustful feelings in response to seeing some babe go by, you’re not committing a crime. You’re having a human moment–the hormones in your blood surge.

    One of those two ways is a much healthier way to view the issue of having feelings for attractive members of the opposite sex.

    Comment by Ron | November 22, 2007 | Reply

  31. Ron,
    I hope your well! its been a while, sorry again for another slow response.

    The frazzledness didn’t have anything to do with this, I am enjoying this as much, if not more than you are.. just been a busy couple of weeks.

    I came across a couple of pretty important verses in Romans today, and thought of you:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” -Romans 1:18-20

    I truly believe, as you have said before, with every fiber of my being that you are in the exact same place that I was in.

    I, like you, was raised evangelical. I, like you, came to a point where I rejected Christianity 100%. And I probably would have agreed with everything that you have said, and might even be helping you argue right now.

    But looking back on that time in my life I see things that I didn’t really see then. I had other reasons for suppressing the truth of Christianity and rejecting it. I thought that it was better to live as if there was no God and as if Jesus was not the Son of God and is not the King of the universe.

    I think back to conversations with my brother, when he made perfect sense and I couldn’t come up with answers for his questions other than simply saying, “I don’t know.”

    As I said, “I don’t know,” I had a sly grin on my face, because I was thinking about the reasons I couldn’t buy into what he was saying. I didn’t think that he could provide evidence for what he told me, and even when he did provide evidence, I brushed it off. If he gave me anything from the Bible, my defense was that the Bible wasn’t credible. Those things happened too long ago. How could anybody live their life around something that happened 2000 years ago?

    Then things started to change. God started pursuing me. Certain weird things started happening in my life- I was living farther away from my dad than I had ever been, and I started having this crazy longing to have a son and thinking about what it would take to raise him and all the things that I wanted to teach him. I had this longing for the closeness that I have with my dad, along with the longing to someday build a similar father-son relationship with a son someday. I was very strangely emotional about father-son relationships in TV shows and movies.

    I started thinking more about the Christian life, and decided that it would probably be good to somehow teach my children the values that I learned being brought up in a Christian home. I remember thinking that I would definitely rather live in a neighborhood full of Christians than a neighborhood full of atheists, because I thought Christians were more “virtuous” in general.

    I realized that I was being an idiot pursuing the kind of girls that I was pursuing, and I thought about all the “good girls” that I passed over when I was in college because I was looking for girls that “wanted to have fun.”

    I decided that I would have liked to marry a Christian girl, because Christian girls are more likely to be virtuous. And because I thought that would be a good way to arrange for my kids to be brought up with Christian virtues. I decided that if I married a Christian girl, then I would be okay with going to church with her and our kids if/when we had kids for the sake of their virtues.

    All of these things came together to elevate the Christian life in my eyes. Then, I “happened” to move to Houston, TX.

    My brother gave me the Biblical evidence for the resurrection, and the only think I had to cling to was that the Bible wasn’t credible.

    Then I came to realize that there was an enormous difference in the way that I read things. I remembered reading “The Da Vinci Code,” and I couldn’t get enough of it. As ludicrous as the ideas that “The Da Vinci Code” puts forth were, just the idea that it provided an argument against Jesus and Christianity spurred me on and I finished it in 3 or 4 days.

    So, when I “happened” to stumble across Strobel’s “The Case for Christ,” I began reading it with a realization that I read things differently depending on whether they supported or rejected Christianity.

    So with my brother’s arguments along with Strobel’s evidence for the credibility of the Bible, I was convinced that Jesus really was resurrected from the dead, and that He really is the King of the universe.

    I truly believe that you are in the same position that I was in. Just as I suppressed the truth so that I could live the way that I wanted to, as if there was no God, I believe that you are suppressing the truth as well.

    God has made it evident to you, and you have decided to reject the evidence. The poetry of life screams that there was a Divine Poet who set it all in motion, and we will all come face to face with Him one day.

    If you do not repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus and accept and treasure Him as the only way to be reconciled with God, then you will have no excuse on that day.

    I hope and pray that God will pursue you in the same way that He pursued me, because I know that I do not deserve it any more than you do.

    Whatever explanations or excuses you have cannot account for the perfection and righteousness that God requires of us. Jesus’ death on the cross bought you, whether you accept it or not.

    Comment by bigham | December 1, 2007 | Reply

  32. Back to the 21 year old male and the “babe”:

    I will agree with you that we are made a certain way, and that our hormones and eyes are drawn to attractive females.

    Where I disagree is that I do not believe that is something that we have to accept, as though it is some sort of unavoidable consequence.

    Lets add a little complexity to our example-

    Lets say we have two 21-year old males watching this babe go by.

    They both look at her, and they both let their minds wander.

    One guy thinks: “This is natural. I’m a guy. This is what guys do.”

    The other guy thinks: “I plan to be married someday. Those thoughts might come naturally to guys, but if I am going to be the best husband that I can be, then I need to fight those thoughts now.”

    Is it unrealistic for a guy to never have those thoughts? Probably. Is a guy that fights those thoughts going to struggle with them less often than a guy who accepts them as a natural unavoidable consequence? I believe so. And I believe that a guy who fights those thoughts is going to be more faithful to his wife when he is married and his marriage will be better off as a result.

    Comment by bigham | December 1, 2007 | Reply

  33. Hi David–

    Don’t worry about the slow responses. Just comment when you have the time. Hope things are a little less frazzled for you.

    Your Romans quote is saying in essence that it is self-evident that God exists. If this were true there would be no atheists. Or perhaps another way to say it is that all atheists that do exist know they’re wrong, but are merely trying to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. This is simply false. It’s not my fault that the Christian God may well be standing idly by and watching a pathetic figure like Anne Frank being lovingly tortured in hell. That’s what your religion states; it’s not something I made up. The difference is that you believe it’s a good thing she is in hell being tortured–it’s to further the glory of God. I believe that if God needs to be glorified by hearing the tortured screams of helpless Holocaust victims, or their pleas for mercy that he will never answer, then worshipping a God like that is little better than worshipping Hitler.

    You said also that I’m in the same position you were in a short while ago. The fact that I’ve been an atheist for 35 years, while you were one for 5 years or so and then converted back suggests otherwise. Also note that your reasons for returning to the fold had nothing to do with the logic of Christianity and everything to do with emotion–You want to be a father and husband someday, and you felt you couldn’t do that very well while being an atheist. My reasons are entirely logical–the atheist worldview makes far more sense than a mystical, guilt-based worldview like Christianity does.

    Your comments about the babe and the 21-yr old guy are illuminating. When I’m in that position, I enjoy the moment because I recognize it for what it is. It passes in a few minutes and then I get on with the rest of my day. Your response is to agonize about this human moment you’re having–“I’ve got to fight this. Desiring a member of the opposite sex is evil. What kind of a husband will I be if I’m attracted to women?” I just don’t get it. Are you racked with guilt if you’re hungry and you smell a barbeque one of your neighbors is having and your mouth starts to water? I mean, after all–it’s not your steak, true? Haven’t you just committed a sin?

    See what I mean? They have to convince you that you’re vile merely for being human before they can sell you the cure–their religion.

    Comment by Ron | December 3, 2007 | Reply

  34. Ron,

    Good to hear from you again, and glad that I am able to respond a little more quickly.

    The Romans quote is indeed saying that it is self-evident that God exists, and it is saying that those who do not believe have been given plenty of evidence, but suppress the truth.

    So there can and will be atheists, but when they die they will not be able to make excuses or ask God why He didn’t do more to convince them.

    I would never say that it is a good thing that Anne Frank is in hell. I have done nothing in my life to deserve anything more than hell from God. He has given me all that I have, and if it was not for His grace I would surely be destined for hell. If she is in hell, I do not say that is good. I pity her, and my heart breaks for her. But, it is not up to me who goes where when they die. And if she is in hell, then God is still good.

    He created all, and that means that He doesn’t have to play by our rules. He does not have to satisfy our measures of justice or fairness or love or mercy or kindness. And yet He is more just, fair, loving, merciful, and kind than we could ever imagine.

    Any demands that He places on us are for our own good. We are not denying pleasures that people who don’t believe in God get to have, in order to satisfy the demands of a selfish God who doesn’t want us to have any fun.

    All of His demands require us to deny ourselves filth and mud, in exchange for gold and silver.

    We are not guilty if we look at a woman and appreciate beauty, or look on her with restrained attraction.

    We are guilty if we look at that woman and our thoughts go beyond appreciation and our imaginations rear their ugly heads.

    So from that definition, then looking at a woman and appreciating her beauty would be similar to smelling barbeque and thinking, “hmm, that smells good.”

    If your thoughts are simply, “she is a beautiful lady,” then we’re good. If your thoughts are wandering beyond that, to places that they don’t need to go, then we are going beyond smelling and appreciating the smell of the bbq.

    We fast forward to imagining what the bbq would taste like, and thinking what it would be like if the neighbor went inside to use the bathroom and we snuck over and tasted the bbq for ourselves.

    That is not a perfect analogy, largely because women are much more than meat, and all women are somebody’s daughter or brother and are or could someday be somebody’s wife.

    I would agree with you that I wouldn’t be much of a husband if I am not attracted to women. I simply believe that, if the Lord blesses me with a wife, then I will be the best husband that I can be if I do not allow my mind to go beyond appreciation of the beauty of another woman.

    With the issue of emotion vs. logic in my conversion…

    I did not like the way that I left the conversion either, and I’m glad that you brought that up. I agree that from the way I wrote that, it appears that I was converted on the basis of emotional reasons.

    The emotional reasons only elevated my view of the Christian life. I was still absolutely against the idea that Christianity or the Bible had any validity, and I just thought it would be best to marry a Christian girl and have children raised with Christian virtues.

    I was perfectly confident in my abilities to be a husband and a father in my atheism, and I still completely believed that neither the Bible nor Jesus had any relevance in my life. I believed that Christians were misled, but I was willing, for the sake of a more virtuous wife and more virtuous kids, to marry a Christian girl and go to church if I had to.

    But, I believe that those emotions, desires, and thoughts were all a part of God pursuing me.

    The longing to be back closer to my dad, and the longing for a son of my own, and the unexplainable emotions that came when I saw father-son relationships in movies. I believe that was God stirring up a longing in me for the relationship with my heavenly Father that I had spurned.

    And the elevation of the Christian life in my mind, I believe that was God showing me that the life that I had wanted and left Christianity for really wasn’t as good as the Christian life is.

    But, I didn’t really see those things until after I was converted.

    I wish that I could remember all of the questions that my brother asked me, but conversations with him played a huge part in my conversion.

    A couple of things that he brought up that I do remember are that 1) all of the apostles were willing to die for their beliefs that Jesus was the Messiah. They were all distraught after Jesus was crucified. Then, according to Bible, Jesus was resurrected and appeared to them. Then they were all willing to die rather than to renounce their belief that Jesus was the Messiah. If it was a hoax or a scam, wouldn’t it make sense for at least one of them to renounce in order to save his neck?
    2) the conversion of Saul/Paul. Saul was on the rise among the Jewish leaders. He was persecuting Christians, getting very good at it, and gaining popularity from it. He had wealth, fame, status, and power. Then, according to the Bible, Jesus appeared to him in all His glory, and Paul was converted. Paul not only became a Christian, but he also started planting churches, arguing with Jewish people that Jesus was the Messiah, and wrote a large portion of the New Testament.

    Then, one day standing in my brother’s kitchen, I remembered praying for the wisdom of Solomon when I was younger. I do not think that I am anywhere near Solomon’s league when it comes to wisdom, but I have at least grown wiser since I prayed that prayer in my early teens. My heart sunk when the possibility occurred to me that God might have answered that prayer, given me wisdom, and I had proceeded to use that wisdom to justify away God so that I could live the God-less life that I wanted to live.

    So all of those things, along with the realization of the biased way that I read things, contributed to the state that I was in when I read Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.”

    Comment by bigham | December 3, 2007 | Reply

  35. Hi David–

    Before I say anything else, I need to say something I omitted in my last post, which is that I have no problem that your decision to return to the fold was based on emotion. I’m one of the few atheists out there that take the view that emotional reasons are perfectly legitimate when you’re deciding what religion to be a member of. All I was trying to say is that I’m motivated in different ways.

    As far as Anne Frank goes, you may not like the idea that she is in hell (IF she is, of course), but you accept that it’s a good thing because it furthers the glory of God. This is an area where you and I will never agree. If you think that God could allow AF to be tortured and still be good, then you think that if God pulled the wings off sparrows he would still be good, you believe that he could set up a crack house that sells to children and still be good, and so on. The whole point of this is simply to say that there are some actions that are so evil that nobody–not even God–can commit them without becoming evil. When you say “He created all, and that means that He doesn’t have to play by our rules. He does not have to satisfy our measures of justice or fairness or love or mercy or kindness”, just realize that al Qaeda uses a similar rationale to justify flying planes into buildings–‘It’s for Allah’s glory; if he says flying this airplane into that building with all those civilians in it is a good thing, then it’s a good thing. He doesn’t have to play by our rules…’ Psychologically, if you can worship the Christian God, you could just as easily worship Allah or the Aztec God.

    You said that it’s OK to admire a beautiful woman, as long as admire her beauty is all you do. But don’t you dare let your thoughts turn sexual, because having sexual urges is evil. I disagree with that, of course. Having sexual urges isn’t evil–it’s human, that’s all. Of course, that’s where the rub is. The Christian believes that it’s evil just to be human.

    Comment by Ron | December 4, 2007 | Reply

  36. I’m glad that you don’t have a problem with an emotional conversion, but I do have a problem with an ONLY emotional conversion.

    The way that I see it, the emotional things had me a little bit closer to conversion, but I was definitely going to have to be convinced by more than just emotional reasons before I was converted.

    When I was young, I believed because my family believed and because I heard it in church. When I was old enough to think about it and decide for myself I couldn’t find any convincing evidence, so I stopped believing.

    My Christian experience was marked with guilt and lonely failures, and I was not going to go back to that without being convinced by logical evidence.

    I wrote more about that in my new post “Easy or Emotional” and about what I see as the logical evidence for Christinity in ‘My “Case for Christ”‘.
    I’d love to hear your input on either or both of those, if you have time to check them out.

    I think that we are definitely wasting time discussing who is or isn’t in hell and whether God is or isn’t just for them being in hell when you don’t believe in hell or God.

    You can talk as big as you want to about hell because you don’t believe that it is real. I seriously doubt that you would be willing to join Anne Frank in hell, if she is indeed there, if you really believed that it is real and that it is eternal burning torture.

    And if you believed that God is real, whether God is just wouldn’t really matter if He had the power to send you to hell. You would do whatever He commanded if it kept you out of eternal burning torture.

    So the issue isn’t “is God just for sending Anne Frank to hell?”, if she is in hell. The question is simply, “is God?”

    (sorry to be brief, but gotta go eat- figured brief was better than nada! -hope all is well with you, as the living God pursues you, in the hopes of bringing you back into communion with Him!)

    Comment by bigham | December 7, 2007 | Reply

  37. Hi David–

    Good to hear from you again. Hope all is well with you.

    The reason you are a believer is probably because it meets some emotional need in you. You’ve spoken of your longing–before you finally really converted to Christianity–for a Christian wife and all the virtues she would bring into a marriage. The fact that you were longing for Christian companionship suggests to me that you probably never really converted away from Christianity in the first place. The fact that you consider evidence like the apostles’ belief that Jesus was resurrected as proof that he really was resurrected is a further indication that you were already convinced at some level that Christianity was true. I mean, compare the level of proof that I demand to yours: I demand actual, visible evidence that I can personally verify. If Jesus can turn water into wine, I want him to come down into a controlled laboratory setting and do it–with me present–in front of scientists so no trickery is possible. With you, it’s: ‘Paul was suddenly converted, so it must be true. The apostles really believed Jesus was resurrected, so he must have really been resurrected.’ See the difference? I want direct, verifiable laboratory proof. If Jesus is divine, he should be able to meet any standard of evidence I choose to set with no problem, so I’m going to set the bar high. With you, it’s more along the lines of ‘God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.’ If that level of evidence is good enough for you, I say ‘fine.’ But it’s not good enough for me. I agree with the Scottish philosopher David Hume, who said that if somebody comes to you with a report that a miracle has occured, you have to ask yourself which is more likely–that the report is wrong, or that it is right and that at a certain time and place the laws of nature ground to a halt and water ‘transmogrified’ into wine.

    You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible. That’s circular reasoning.

    You said: “So the issue isn’t “is God just for sending Anne Frank to hell?”, if she is in hell. The question is simply, “is God?” ”

    Needless to say, I strongly disagree with this. You’ve said that it doesn’t matter whether God is just or not if he really does have the power to send someone to hell. Of course it matters. Would you worship a deity that would sell crack to children? If not, why do you worship one that allows helpless Holocaust victims to be tortured for eternity?

    Comment by Ron | December 8, 2007 | Reply

  38. With all of the evidence you have, you say that you want “direct, verifiable laboratory proof”?

    That, my friend, is called hardness of heart.

    It is evident in Satan, the father of lies. Seeing everything that God had done, Satan said “I am not convinced” and believed that he could do better.

    Seeing all of the things that he saw first hand as a disciple of the incarnate Son of God, Judas said “I am not convinced” and betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

    A friend of mine told me about a song, and I think the lyrics are fitting here. I don’t remember the singer or the name of the song, but the part of the song I remember said, “in a world of burning bushes I ask you for a sign.”

    We live in a world of burning bushes. Everything on this earth is living proof that there is a God who created it all. And the living God speaks to us through every bit of it.

    Be careful, my friend, of who you class yourself with. In your demand for more evidence, you side with both Satan and Judas. And there is punishment that is necessary for taking sides against the living God and against Jesus Christ, His Son.

    Besides Satan and Judas, you also are aligning yourself with Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick. This is how foolish they are in their assessment of biology:

    “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” -Richard Dawkins

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” – Francis Crick

    According to these two, the complicated things of life appear to have been designed for a purpose and biologists have to constantly remind themselves that these complicated things were not designed.

    That, my friend, is called suppressing the truth.

    Comment by bigham | December 8, 2007 | Reply

  39. ” With all of the evidence you have, you say that you want “direct, verifiable laboratory proof”?

    That, my friend, is called hardness of heart. ”

    Oh David, no. That’s not hardness of heart. This is:

    You claim to be in contact with a higher life form–God, who talks to you. Swell. Put Him on the phone.

    ” “in a world of burning bushes I ask you for a sign.” ”

    I like that line. Now go up to the next burning bush you see and ask for the recipe for an AIDS vaccine. The human race could use it. Whatever point God wanted to make to us by bringing AIDS into the world has been made, I think. He can stop now. We get it. Don’t have unprotected sex–or be a lesbian; they supposedly have low AIDS rates despite being sexually active w/ others of their ‘orientation’.

    ” Be careful, my friend, of who you class yourself with. In your demand for more evidence, you side with both Satan and Judas. And there is punishment that is necessary for taking sides against the living God and against Jesus Christ, His Son. ”

    That’s what I hear. Just ask Anne Frank–and millions of others like her.

    The one thing your God does better than anything else, it seems to me, is punish. He seems intent on inflicting a lot of that. On a lot of people.

    It seems to me you are worshipping a monster.

    ” According to these two, the complicated things of life appear to have been designed for a purpose and biologists have to constantly remind themselves that these complicated things were not designed. ”

    Design requires purpose, does it not? What is the purpose of mis-wiring the human eye? Or running the male urethra right thru the prostrate, so when the prostate swells with advancing age, it acts as a valve that shuts off urine flow?

    Here’s a good one: What was God’s design for the mosquito, do you suppose? Look at all the loving, purposeful design that went into that tiny little flying syringe. I wonder how many children worldwide have been killed by diseases carried by that model of irreducible complexity, the mosquito.

    Your God doesn’t seem to like Holocaust victims none too much. Maybe he doesn’t like kids either.

    So, do I think that life shows design? Yes. And No. [Insert snarky laugh here]

    I think the evidence shows that evolution by natural selection has creative ability, at least under certain circumstances. That probably accounts for the design you see. Comparisons can be drawn to artificial intelligence programs, that have come up with novel ways to solve problems. Companies have used this process to design around existing patents to come up with legal alternative products, for instance. Now it’s true that humans set the process up and guided it along, but the actual end product was not the result of design. It was the result of evolution–well, simulated evolution in this case.

    Try and remember, David–I’m not trying to convert you. I’m just telling you what seems to me likely to be true. If your Christian faith, with all it’s guilt and fear of punishment, somehow gives your life purpose and fulfillment, then stick with it. But as for me, I don’t worship deities that torture Holocaust victims. Sorry–it’s just one of my rules.

    Comment by Ron | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  40. 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
    and marked off the heavens with a span,
    enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
    and weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?
    13 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
    or what man shows him his counsel?
    14Whom did he consult,
    and who made him understand?
    Who taught him the path of justice,
    and taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding?
    15Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
    and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
    behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

    –Isaiah 40:12-15

    Comment by bigham | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  41. Hmmm. Okay, my turn:

    20 “And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property. [emphasis added]

    Exodus 21–The Bible endorses slavery, and the beating of slaves.

    Same chapter–

    “7 “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed.”

    The Bible endorses the selling of one’s own daughter into sexual slavery.

    I dunno, David. The Bible seems to be clearly endorsing some pretty evil stuff here.

    Comment by Ron | December 9, 2007 | Reply

  42. Ron, my friend, sorry about just throwing a Bible passage at you last time. I go through these “over-humble” stages where I feel like I’m being conceited if I try to say things apart from the Bible, so I use the Bible to support what I say. Then, I think its conceited to try to add my thoughts to what the Bible says- its the Word of God, my words aren’t kinda thing.

    But I also understand that those who do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God see things a lot differently than that, so I guess it looks a little ridiculous to just throw a Bible passage out there and not explian why I did.

    So… sorry about that. I just got on here for a minute before I went to church on Sunday, and didn’t have a whole lot of time.

    Basically, I wanted you to read that passage because I do not think that you see how foolish it is for you, a creature, to cry “injustice” at God, the Creator.

    A) He is God- He can do what He wants to, whether He has your approval or not.
    B) His way is infinitely better than any that you could ever come up with.

    God created the waters, the heavens, the dust, the mountains, and the hills. The nations are like a drop from a bucket compared to God.

    He did not need your counsel. He did not consult you about justice, knowledge, or understanding. He created all of those things without any help from you. Is it not foolish then, for little ol’ you to cry out “injustice” at the way that God has made this world?

    And then you do it again, with your verses from Exodus.

    My brother is writing a book right now, arguing that the center of Biblical theology is the glory of God in salvation and judgement. God judges the world and offers salvation for the sake of His glory.

    The beating of slaves and selling a man’s daughter into slavery (“please” doesn’t necessarily mean sexually there) are definitely in the Bible, and I would say that those things are examples of God’s judgement on Israel. But, I would also add that the slavery is the primary example of God’s judgement there. The Israelites were punished with slavery, and those verses are examples of Biblical guidelines for the slavery that was present at that time.

    The slavery was also setting up the great deliverance and salvation of God’s chosen people from the hands of the Egyptians.

    Back to the verse in Romans, which definitely does say that everybody knows that there is a God:
    atheism seems to disprove the Bible right there, right?
    Which is where the part about suppression of the truth comes in.

    I absolutely believe that every single person in the world, including you and every person who considers themself to be an atheist, knows that there is a God.

    I also know that all humans have the desire to live as if there is not a God. And our brains are very good at justifying whatever we desire to do.

    So, since we all desire to live as if there is no God, and we have brains that justify our wrongs and call them rights, we get atheists.

    They (and you) know that there is a God. But, in order to live as if there is no God, people choose not to honor God as God, and suppress that truth in order to pursue unGodly desires.

    Comment by bigham | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  43. Hi D–

    What’s the word? Interesting discussion.

    Don’t worry about just throwing a verse up like that. I was raised evangelical, dude. I been there already, ese.
    Sometimes the Bible says things that it would be pointless to comment on.

    So, is it really foolish for me to accuse the Creator of anything just because he made me? I really don’t think so. You seem to be confusing power with right. They’re vastly different. In fact, power carries with it responsibility. From a moral standpoint, power is constraining. You will have enormous moral responsibility for the way you treat any children you may have, because (a) they are feeling creatures that (b) you caused to happen–they had no say in the matter, (c) who are helpless and utterly dependent on you. Likewise, ultimate power conveys ultimate responsibility for God, too. If the Bible is true, then he has behaved in such a way as to cause great human suffering, either directly or by omission (like sitting back and watching while six million Jews were roasted like peanuts in the holocaust). Your God is unworthy of worship, even if he actually exists, which he doesn’t. That simple.

    Does everybody really, deep-down believe in God? Nope. Sorry–just ain’t true. To me, it’s just as obvious there is no God as it seems to be there is one to you.

    Your God hides from the 5 senses, all known instruments, and absolutely all logic, except for the most self-serving apologetics. We live in a world of burning bushes? OK–point to one. The Bible describes the burning bush as a bush that was afire and wouldn’t go out, while the booming voice of God came out of it. There may be a lot of those where you live, but I don’t see too many hereabouts. All I’m saying is there’s no real reason to believe in any God that invisible. For all practical purposes, a God like yours doesn’t exist, so there’s no reason to worship him anyway.

    You know, Mark Twain once said “Tell me what language a man speaks and I’ll tell you what religion he is.” You speak English, and you’re a Christian. What are the odds? 😉

    Comment by Ron | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  44. Sorry, David–looks like I went a little overboard on the style tags.

    Comment by Ron | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  45. Have you read Flew’s book?
    I’ve just started it… guess he, at least, disagrees that there is no evidence for God.

    “Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.” -Romans 2:3-5

    (Romans is FASCINATING!) You say that God is unworthy. That implies that you are worthy. To be worthy implies that you deserve something. In your logic, God is unworthy=He doesn’t deserve worship.

    I say that humans are unworthy. I say that we all deserve nothing more than hell from God. I feel like I can go as far as to say that the victims of any violence on this earth deserved that punishment from God, because I absolutely and irrevocably believe that I deserve punishment from God. I hope, pray, and believe that there were victims of earthly violence that avoided eternal punishment in hell. If so, they only were able to do that because of God’s grace. The only reason that you are breathing right now, that the sun rose on this broken world this morning, and that sin so often goes unpunished is because God is gracious.

    All who do not repent from their sins, and turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sin and salvation, store up wrath for themselves; and a day is coming where all scores will be settled. People might get away with evil in this world, but those things do not go unnoticed. And there is a price to pay for each and every sin.

    All have sinned against the eternal, living God of the universe, and the wages of sin is death.

    But God, in His infinite love, mercy, grace, and kindness, put forth His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as a propitiation for us. He died for us. He was raised, so we will be raised.

    Flew says in his book that N.T. Wright provides the best case that Flew has seen to this point for Christianity, and Wright’s argument is an appendix in Flew’s book.

    Wright argues that it is historically true that the apostles believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah based on two things: the empty tomb and appearances of the risen Jesus to the apostles- and he says that those two things must have taken place in order for the apostles to believe that Jesus was God and to die for Him.

    He says that the two things had to have both happened, because without the other, the one would not have been sufficient- i.e. if just the empty tomb, then grave robbers would have been the logical conclusion, and if just the appearances, then hallucinations would have been logical.

    Comment by bigham | December 14, 2007 | Reply

  46. Hey David–

    No, sorry, I haven’t read any Flew lately. Nor when he was at his height as an atheist.

    When you read it, look for any sign that the book was not actually written by Flew–he’s getting very close to outright senility due to advancing age. When Flew was in his prime he was an atheist, anyway. 😉

    Besides, from what I understand, he’s made it clear he’s no Christian; he’s more of a deist. Does Flew really believe in God? Not just any old God, the One True God? As far as your God goes, Flew’s still an atheist! I really don’t know why evangelicals harp on him so. I didn’t even know who he was until the fundies started gloating about him. And I’ve been an atheist over 30 years now.

    Of course, if Flew really did convert to Christianity…[best Emily Latella voice] …nevermind.

    You said that people are evil, vile creatures deserving nothing but punishment from an angry God. What can I say? I want to feel vile too. Where do I sign up?

    Where you’re making your mistake is that you’re trying to make the illogical logical, and you really can’t. Mohammed’s followers really seemed to believe that he was a prophet of God too, but that didn’t make him one. If that rationale doesn’t work for Mohammed, it doesn’t work for Jesus either. You’re also trying to make the immoral moral, and you can’t do that either. Allowing Anne Frank and millions of others like her to suffer and die in the holocaust when, with the flick of his finger, he could have prevented it all is monsterous. To then arrange for them to be tortured for all eternity, just for not believing in Jesus, is infinitely more barbaric.

    Comment by Ron | December 14, 2007 | Reply

  47. SuperRon,

    Flew’s book has been great so far. I was very leery of two things before I started reading it: 1) that he’s gone bonkers in his old age and/or wagering like Pascal and 2) that it was not really written by him- the book says “Anthony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese.”

    He addresses “1” in his introduction:

    “At the outset I should make one thing clear. When reports of my change of mind were spread by the media and the ubiquitous Internet, some commentators were quick to claim that my advanced age had something to do with my “conversion.” It has been said that fear concentrates the mind powerfully, and these critics had concluded that expectations of an impending entrance into the afterlife had triggered a deathbed conversion. Clearly these people were familiar with neither my writings on the nonexistence of an afterlife nor with my current views on the topic. For over fifty years I have not simply denied the existence of God, but also the existence of an afterlife. My Gifford Lectures published as “The Logic of Mortality” represent the culmination of this process of thought. This is one area in which I have not changed my mind. Absent special revelation, a possibility that is well represented in this book by N.T. Wright’s contribution, I do not think of myself ‘surviving’ death. For the record, then, I want to lay to rest all those rumors that have me placing Pascalian bets.”

    As for “2” Roy Abraham Varghese apparently “collaborated” with Flew on the book, and wrote the first appendix, titled “The ‘New Atheism’: A Critical Appraisal of Dawkins, Dennett, Wolpert, Harris, and Stenger”

    I think that I can be a whole lot more acceptive of your atheism if it is as Flew’s was than as, from what I can tell, Dawkins’ is-
    Flew started from the perspective that one should presume atheism and evaluate the evidence with an open mind, always “following the argument wherever it leads.”
    Whereas Dawkins seems to start from the perspective that there is no God and there can be no God, and anything contrary is ridiculous (I might need to read Varghese’s appendix before discussing Dawkins’ atheism).

    I’m not saying that I know which of the two your atheism favors, just that I hope it is Flew’s- and not merely because he has “converted.” If you are not open to the possibility of God, and are not convinced by the evidence, then you are just closed-minded. Whereas, if you take Flew’s approach, then I think you are better off.

    Flew says that, “one of those early reasons for my conversion to atheism was the problem of evil.” He had gone on a vacation with his parents to Nazi Germany, and the anti-Semitism that he saw there greatly contributed to his opposition to belief in a loving God.

    Later he gives three issues that “must be answered with respect to the concept of God”

    Those are:
    “How God is to be identified
    How positive as opposed to negative terms like incorporeal can be applied to God.
    How the inconsistency of defined characteristics of God with undenied facts can be explained (i.e., how the ills in the universe are to be reconciled with the existence of an omnipotent God).”

    I think that your issue is most similar to the third of those, so I will do my best to address that one.

    Simply put, how can a loving God and evil in the world, i.e. the Holocaust, coexist.

    I’m readying Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” right now. She was an atheist and a proponent of her own philosophy of “objectivism.” One of her themes in the book so far has been that there is no such thing as a contradiction. Therefore, whenever two premises seem to contradict, one of the premises will inevitably be false- which will prove that there was no contradiction.

    Here, our two premises are that a) there is a loving God, and b) there is evil in the world.

    The seeming contradiction is that if there was a loving God, then He would not allow evil, such as the Holocaust, in His world. Therefore, from that assumption, God is either evil, incompetent, or non-existant.

    However, to take a page out of Rand’s book- literally and figuratively- I say we look more closely at our premises. There is evil in the world; that cannot be denied. So, I think the premise that needs further examination is the other of the two- the premise of the loving God.

    First, let me say that I might have come across more harshly than I intended to on the victims of the Holocaust in recent responses. My intention was to show that we need to throw the word “deserve” out the window when it comes to God, because I believe that the only thing that we “deserve” from God is punishment, culminating in an eternity in hell. I probably should have used more tact than stating that the victims deserved that from God, although I tried to explain what I meant by that.

    What I mean by that is that I don’t think that we can call God unjust on the basis of the Holocaust injust because I believe that doing so implies that people “deserve” better than that from God. I say that we throw the word “deserve” away, because I feel that if we are going to use that word, then the only thing that you and I can claim to “deserve” from God is to be in our own concentration camps and death chambers.

    Anyways, back to attempting to reconcile God and world evil:
    My best explanation for evil in the world is that evil in the world is punishment from God, that we all deserve to be punished, and that all evil is meant to turn us away from evil and towards the loving God.

    Do I believe that God could have caused things to be different- like could He have made it so the Holocaust never happened? Absolutely.
    Do I believe that God could have caused things to be better? Absolutely not.

    Have you ever seen the movie “The Butterfly Effect”?
    I think thats how it would be if one of us was running the show. If we changed something, with great intentions that the change would make things better, things would only get worse. Following that, if one of us had the power to erase the Holocaust, at first glance we would both go for that change. But, who is to say that erasing the Holocaust would not lead to 12 “Hitlers” sprouting up, each with their own version of the Holocaust- turning 6 million casualties into 72 million?

    Could God have done things differently? Yes. Could God have done things better? We cannot say that. One way that the Holocaust could have been the product of a loving God is if the events that followed the Holocaust caused worse evils to never take place.

    Another fault in the premise is the assumption that love cannot include punishment. My brother, in his sermon this morning, quoted several verses in the book of Proverbs that address disciplining children. One of those verses was Proverbs 13:24: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

    The idea there is that sparing the rod leads to a spoiled, undisciplinted child. Therefore, the rod of discipline, when delivered correctly, is for the good of the child.

    If we apply that to God, then God, as our heavenly Father, would be showing us that He hates us if He didn’t punish us. Also, it is for our good when He disciplines us with punishment- even if it isn’t always pretty or if we don’t always understand why.

    I think that if you only saw a parent disciplining a child, the natural reaction might be to think that is a bad parent, or an unjust parent. But, in the context of the bigger picture, you would have to be able to see the action of the child that deserved the “rod” as well as the end result of the “rod” before we could evaluate the quality of the parent and/or the justice of the “rod.”

    All that to say that if the evil in the world, in the hand of a loving God, can be likened to the rod of discipline, in the hand of a loving parent, then a loving God and world evil could be reconciled.
    Also, if the evil is punishment that leads to reconciliation and salvation, then the evil was allowed for the greater good of the people, and a loving God and world evil could be reconciled.
    If the Holocaust was a foreshadowing of hell, and the fear of God manifests itself in the fear of the Grand Holocaust that awaits those who are against Jesus Christ, and the Holocaust therefore led to fear of God and repentance and reconciliation with God, then a loving God and the evil that was the Holocaust could be reconciled.

    Also, I think something that has helped me to reconcile evil in the world with the loving, living God who created this universe, is the idea that God is able to look at events through two lenses. (I got this concept from John Piper, I think in “Desiring God”)

    For example, I think that the most torturous moment, in and of itself, for God the Father was when Jesus was excruciatingly (that word was coined to describe the brutality of being crucified) beaten and murdered. So, through His narrow lens alone, I would say that God hated the Cross. But, being God, He could see through the narrow lens and the broad lens. So even as He hated the cross in and of itself, I believe that the Cross was the single greatest moment in redemptive history, which also explains why Jesus saw the “joy set before Him” in the Cross.

    “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2

    I used the example of the Cross because the Bible tells us about what the Cross accomplished, as far as the big lens goes. I don’t know what the big lens purpose of the Holocaust was/is and I won’t pretend to. But, I do believe that our loving Creator hated the Holocaust from the little lens perspective just as He hated the Cross from that perspective.

    But, I also believe that there had to have been some big lens reason that God allowed the Holocaust to happen. For I believe Psalm 115:3: “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

    So, just as the Cross was pleasing to God, not in the little lens, but in the big lens- I believe that the Holocaust, and all other evil in the world, must have been and must be pleasing to God somehow, some way, and for some reason- maybe not in the little lens, but definitely in the big lens.

    Comment by bigham | December 16, 2007 | Reply

  48. Hey, David–

    Good to hear from you again.

    As far as which kind of atheism I practice, Dawkins’s or Flew’s, I’d have to say somewhere in the middle. I started out like Flew, but I have followed the evidence where it seemed to lead, and arrived at Dawkin’s brand of atheism (to a point, anyway). Am I open minded? No. I’ve already examined the evidence, and have ruled out the existence of the supernatural. No Gods, no pixies. This isn’t to say I couldn’t be converted to some brand of theism, but it would take enormous evidence. Not just some poetic “world of burning bushes” like you alluded to, but an actual, Biblical burning bush, and I think we both know that won’t happen.

    As far as reconciling the idea of a loving God and evil, I don’t consider the Holocaust to be the primary example, although it’s a really good one. To me, the best examples are those in which the Christian’s own holy book, the Bible, describes God himself as committing acts that can be described in no other way except as evil. Of these, the primary example is hell. To make the statement that if Anne Frank is in hell right now it’s because she deserves to be there is a monsterous thing to say. And yet, that’s what evangelicals believe. That alone, for me, is enough to invalidate Christianity. Your religion says that there will be plenty of people who will commit evil all their lives, but then experience a religious conversion and accept Jesus, and these people will go to heaven, while someone like Anne Frank, who appears to be guilty of little more than being Jewish, is writhing in hell right now. And why? Because she didn’t believe in the right religion. She was tormented and thrown in Dachau (I think it was) to die merely for being Jewish. She is being tormented in hell right now merely for being Jewish. That, to me, is a despicable doctrine, and it is one of the core doctrines of your religion.

    There is simply no way to reconcile the idea of a loving God with the evangelical doctrine of hell.

    The loving God of the Bible designed the mosquito in order to spread disease, and it does what it was designed to do. Billions of children have died pitifully because of your loving God’s insect design. Now, this isn’t a problem for you because children are people, and people are evil, so therefore children are evil. To me, if you consider small children evil, and a God that sends mosquitos to kill them to be good, then your definitions of the words ‘evil’ and ‘good’ are incoherent.

    Comment by Ron | December 17, 2007 | Reply

  49. Ron,

    Just curious- what part of the country are you in? I’m in Houston, TX. Just like to have an idea of where to put you on the map in my head…

    I agree with you that hell is a difficult doctrine. For me, having been convinced first that Jesus was proven to be the Son of God by His Resurrection, and having faith that the Bible is the Word of God, I trust two things- that God is a righteous Judge, and that sinning against the living God is an infinite act of evil and worthy of punishment, even as great a punishment as hell.

    It is a tragedy that souls go to hell and suffer eternal torture. But, I do not believe that it is as honorable as it seems on the surface to pledge allegiance to those souls, even if it means eternal suffering alongside them. I believe that is foolish. If you combine the most devastating mental and emotional pain that you have ever experienced, and multiply that exponentially, I believe that you only begin to scratch the surface of the torment of hell.

    But, possibly we should take baby steps and get you to theism first, before trying to get you back into the Christian fold.

    Flew cites a lot of works that have led him to both accept and be a proponent of intelligent design.

    One of the more shocking of those was from none other than the great Charles Darwin. Did you know that Charles Darwin believed there is a God? (Flew, I guess, added the part in brackets at the beginning, but I’ll keep them and trust that he had reason to include those 5 words):

    “[Reason tells me of the] extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”
    -Charles Darwin, “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, ed. Nora Barlow (London: Collins, 1958), 92-3.

    It is ironic that his theory of evolution is used today to further atheism, when he was not himself an atheist, right?

    Another great quote Flew cited was Albert Einstein, who was often upset that atheists quoted him in support of their beliefs:

    “I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
    -Max Jammer, quoting Einstein, in “Einstein and Religion.”

    Comment by bigham | December 17, 2007 | Reply

  50. -John Piper on the problem of evil in the world. What makes unbelief worthy of hell, is that you look at the God who created this universe, and the reconciliation of ourselves to God, that God provided for us in the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and you say, “I don’t need that God, and I don’t need Jesus’ death.”

    That is punishable by an eternity in hell because that God is the only God in the universe, and that Death is the only way that we can be reconciled with the one, living, and loving God of this universe.

    Comment by bigham | December 17, 2007 | Reply

  51. Hey, David–

    I’m not all that far from you. I’m in the Alamo City, San Antonio, TX. Home of the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs.
    As you can imagine, my views are the minority opinion down here.

    “But, possibly we should take baby steps and get you to theism first, before trying to get you back into the Christian fold.”

    Well, you can try. But remember, my standards of evidence are way higher than yours are. Remember what I said about the burning bush? I meant that literally. Flew was taken in by the apparent design in nature. Most biologists, however, are not so easily swayed, and they, not philosophers, are the real experts on the question of whether or not nature shows design.

    Charles Darwin died an agnostic, but the reason for this had little to do with evolution and a lot more to do with his bitterness over the lingering death of his young daughter. But you are correct, he in fact was a believer most of his life, and even alludes to God in Origin of Species..

    Where I disagree with your version of this is when you say that evolutionary theory is used today to further atheism. There are only a few biologists or other scientists who are mis-using evolutionary theory in that way, Dawkins being a notorious example. In my view–as an atheist and supporter of evolutionary theory–atheism has little need of evolutionary arguments.

    Einstein’s views, from what little I know of them, appear similar to Flews–he’s more of a deist. He was likewise upset when Christians tried to use him to justify their belief system, as you’re doing now. He also said: “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.

    – Albert Einstein to Guy H. Raner Jr., Sept. 28, 1949, quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2”

    “What makes unbelief worthy of hell, is that you look at the God who created this universe, and the reconciliation of ourselves to God, that God provided for us in the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and you say, “I don’t need that God, and I don’t need Jesus’ death.” “

    Hell is a deal-breaker. People don’t base their views on what reality is, based on whether God will like it or not–at least thinking people don’t. They base their views on what appears likely to them to be true or untrue. And nobody should be tortured for their honestly held views, even if they turn out to be wrong.

    Comment by Ron | December 18, 2007 | Reply

  52. “And nobody should be tortured for their honestly held views, even if they turn out to be wrong.”

    …so a person could argue that he/she “honestly held” murder to be okay, and he/she shouldn’t be punished for that?

    Postmodernists often try to argue that there is no such thing as “universal truth” that can be applied across the board. I’m going to borrow from them (even though I believe there are some instances of universal truths).

    You and I might have to play by those rules, for the most part. If somebody has an “honestly held view” that differs from ours, as long as that view does not endanger anybody, THEN you are right- they should not be “tortured.”

    However, you cannot use that concept as a universal truth. 1- if a view includes unjust harm, you cannot act as you please and suffer no consequences just because you hold a certain view.

    More importantly, that is a rule that God doesn’t have to play by.

    Once again, on one hand I really don’t think that it matters what God commands- if you believe that there is a God and He can and will condemn people to hell for not following His commands.

    If I hold that belief, I am insane not to follow His commands- even if His commands include running 26 miles every day.

    Run 26 miles every day and go to heaven, or don’t run 26 miles and go to hell: I’ll take the 26 miles every day and heaven.

    But, His commands are just, and compared to the rewards the commands are easy.

    Anyways, back to the issue at hand:
    The reason that people can and will be tortured for “their honestly held views” is that the “victims” of those views are worthy of Lordship.

    To say that a person should not be tortured for unbelief undermines the value of both the living God and Jesus Christ. Jesus came and lived a perfect life, and died a brutal death so that our death would have no sting. If there is another way to be reconciled with God, then Jesus’ death was a waste. If we can get to heaven, just by making sure that what ever view we hold is “honestly held” or by just living as good as we can, then that brutal-yet-glorious death was unnecesary.

    And to say that a person should not be punished for unbelief is to spit on both the Cross and the Crucified King and Messiah.

    “The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God.” -C.S. Lewis

    ….what do you think about Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys?
    “Deep within my heart lies a melody, a song of old San Antone…”

    Comment by bigham | December 18, 2007 | Reply

  53. Ron,
    How do you feel about abortion?

    Comment by bigham | December 18, 2007 | Reply

  54. D–

    “…so a person could argue that he/she “honestly held” murder to be okay, and he/she shouldn’t be punished for that?”

    Well, what I meant is no one should be punished for their beliefs about the nature of reality, such as whether or not there’s a God. But even in the example above, I believe that a person holding such views should not be punished merely for holding those views.

    “However, you cannot use that concept as a universal truth. 1- if a view includes unjust harm, you cannot act as you please and suffer no consequences just because you hold a certain view.”

    You are confusing beliefs with actions. What I said was that nobody should be punished merely for their beliefs.

    “More importantly, that is a rule that God doesn’t have to play by.”

    If he wants to be worshipped by me he does. I don’t worship any God that does mean things to helpless holocaust victims.

    “But, His commands are just, and compared to the rewards the commands are easy.”

    Then you must think slavery is just. You must think that killing a bride for not bleeding on her wedding night is just, because according to the Bible, God endorses both of those. (I know you really don’t believe those things, but still call God good. This is an example of cognitive dissonance).

    “And to say that a person should not be punished for unbelief is to spit on both the Cross and the Crucified King and Messiah.”

    Thinking people base their beliefs on what appears likely to be true, and that’s all I’m doing. I don’t believe in leprechauns either, but that doesn’t mean I’m spitting on them.

    Abortion? I think that it’s an awful thing, but sometimes it’s necessary; to save the life of the mother for example.
    Do I think abortion should have no restrictions placed on it at all? No, I don’t. Even though the fetus, in its earliest stages anyway, can’t yet be considered fully human, ethical considerations such as exposing the fetus to a painful destruction should definitely be taken into account. Do I believe that abortion should be outlawed completely, and women who need one be forced to have back-alley coathanger abortions? No, I don’t. It’s a complex issue, and simplistic, bumper-sticker sloganeering about it is not appropriate. Unfortunately, the religious right–which claims to speak in your name–takes just such a simplistic position. Maybe in the end, abortion is something that only women should be allowed to have a say about, since they bear the brunt of it.

    Comment by Ron | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  55. Oh–I hit the ‘publish’ button too fast. I wanted to answer your music question. I’m vaguely familiar with the song you mentioned, but truth to tell, country music really isn’t my thing. My tastes tend more towards the Ramones.

    You want a good song? Try “The KKK Took My Baby Away” by the Ramones. It’s not Beethoven, but it’s a lot of fun to listen to, and once it gets into your head, you’ll have hell’s own time trying to get it back out. If you’re in a bluesy sort of mood, try “Restless Soul” by the Imperial Crowns.

    Comment by Ron | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  56. Ron,

    Merry Christmas! What a joyous time to celebrate the birth of the King who came to conquer sin and forgive us of sin, and died so that we can live.

    I think we are practicing folly. You argue against the existence of God with whether or not God is just. Do you not agree that it is foolish to discuss whether or not God is just when you don’t believe that there is a God?

    Are we discussing whether or not there is a God, or whether or not God is just?

    On the issue of the bad things that have happened and are happening in this world, you might be able to pin some “Christians” down with that. As for me, I do not try to hide the fact that God is at times terrible in showing His justice.

    I hope and pray that our gracious and loving heavenlty Father will draw you to His Son, and that He will exalt the Son in your life in such a way that you will see and know that Jesus is the only King of this universe, and that the best thing in this world is to acknowledge that He is King, bow and submit to His authority, and live your life for Him!

    Blessings and peace,

    David

    Comment by bigham | December 24, 2007 | Reply

  57. Hi David–

    “I think we are practicing folly. You argue against the existence of God with whether or not God is just. Do you not agree that it is foolish to discuss whether or not God is just when you don’t believe that there is a God?”

    If you’ll remember, I made my beliefs clear that I don’t believe in the supernatural, and hence do not believe in God. The entire reason for discussing whether or not the Christian God is just is to point out that even if I did believe in God, I wouldn’t believe in the Christian one, because of the evil things he has done (according to the Bible, of course) and that have been done in his name.

    “On the issue of the bad things that have happened and are happening in this world, you might be able to pin some “Christians” down with that. As for me, I do not try to hide the fact that God is at times terrible in showing His justice.”

    I don’t worship anything terrible.

    Having said that, I hope you and your family had a safe, peaceful and happy Christmas!

    Ron

    Comment by Ron | December 26, 2007 | Reply

  58. Ron,

    Good, progress. If only because you showed me that I missed something in our earlier conversations!

    Your faith is very impressive, sir. I believe that it takes much more faith to believe in non-supernatural origin of life theories than to believe in intelligent design. There are far too many “could have’s” and too much reliance on millions of years in which changes “could have” taken place, as well as too many unanswered questions.

    I believe that, in one sense at least, it is much easier to look at the laws of nature, the origin of life, reproduction, and so many other ?’s that science leaves unanswered and conclude that supernatural forces must have been necessary.

    And I believe that if a person looks at the evidence for the deity of Jesus Christ with but a slightly open mind, then I believe there is more than sufficient evidence for His Supernaturality.

    For me personally, I did not do anything more than cease to reject the supporting evidence up front. I saw that I was very biased against the possibility of the Christian God being the God of the universe, and therefore did not give Christianity a chance to be true.

    I came to a point where I couldn’t reject Christianity anymore- even though part of me absolutely wanted to at first. On the whole suppressing the truth thing from Romans, that rings true with my experience.

    Once I believed, one of my first thoughts was something like, “if its true now, then it was true the whole time that I wasn’t believing it to be true as well.” It felt like a messy conversion in a way, because I had used the excuse that I didn’t have any evidence, although I was rejecting and ignoring evidence all along. And at first I felt like I was going to have to “make up for lost time” in a way, and I was going to have to do a lot of good things to make up for all of the bad things that I had done- I was a popular guy in college, and I threw a lot of parties, and definitely encouraged people to drink and party and act as I was acting- namely as though there was no God.

    By pretty much any worldly measure, I was doing pretty good without God. Popular, healthy, happy, etc.

    So I was kind of beating myself up for all of those things because I felt like I had “led people astray.” Then, one of the first Sunday’s after that, we had this passage in our bulletin at church:

    “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” -Luke 15:4-7

    I was greatly comforted as I saw, in the place of the mountain I thought I had to climb to ‘get myself right with God,’ that I was on Jesus’ shoulders and He was rejoicing, and that there was rejoicing coming from heaven for my sake rather than a list of duties that I had to perform.

    So, in a way we are in the same boat. We both see ourselves as animals. Where I see myself as a sheep across Jesus’ shoulders, you see yourself as a descendant of monkeys. 😉

    I meant to say this recently, but I don’t think I have yet. I think that you have an accurate view of ONE SIDE of God, and I envy your view of the weigtiness of the terrible side of God and of hell.

    But, that is only one side of God, and He freely offers the opportunity to get on His good side.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed how much I like to use analogies, but here’s a Chistmas present/analogy from me to you:

    I think that all people have driven God’s car and wrecked it- God’s car here can be our bodies, if you like, but thats not absolutely necessary I don’t think. But, by accepting the salvation that God offers in Christ Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family. So, instead of being an “outsider” who stole the car and wrecked it, we become a child of God who wrecked the car. God’s still not happy about the wrecked car, but as any father would, His justice is balanced out by His love for His child and He does not seek the full letter of the law as he would with the “outsider.”

    There is a God and there is a hell. Therefore, all of the “punishment” in this world is loving grace from God because it is intended to underscore our dependence on God and our need for a Savior.

    May the Father exalt King Jesus in your eyes, and may you bow the knee to Him and accept His sweet rewards in 2008!

    David

    Comment by bigham | December 26, 2007 | Reply

  59. “Your faith is very impressive, sir. I believe that it takes much more faith to believe in non-supernatural origin of life theories than to believe in intelligent design. There are far too many “could have’s” and too much reliance on millions of years in which changes “could have” taken place, as well as too many unanswered questions.”

    So what do you believe instead? You believe you’re going to fly one day. You believe the first woman came from a rib.

    “I believe that, in one sense at least, it is much easier to look at the laws of nature, the origin of life, reproduction, and so many other ?’s that science leaves unanswered and conclude that supernatural forces must have been necessary.”

    Sure it’s easier. It’s easier to say ‘God did it’ than it is to try to actually figure out how the diversity of life we see in nature came to be. It’s easier to say ‘it’s punishment from God’ than it is to figure out why people are dying from AIDS or malaria. If everybody thought that way, there’d be no science or medicine and we’d all be living in the Dark Ages. But, hey–it is easier.

    “There is a God and there is a hell. Therefore, all of the “punishment” in this world is loving grace from God because it is intended to underscore our dependence on God and our need for a Savior.”

    Now explain that to a small child dying painfully from malaria. ‘You see, the reason you’re in such agony and are going to die before you reach the age of 5 is because God loves you so much! Aren’t you lucky?’

    Yes, the God you worship is terrible indeed.

    Comment by Ron | December 27, 2007 | Reply

  60. Ron,

    we may have hit upon some great progress. I had a thought today that the apostle Paul was probably where I am shortly after his conversion.

    Paul’s conversion did not take place as a result of any convincing or any argument. He came to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah because Jesus Christ the Messiah appeared to him and His glory blinded Paul.

    He was an orthodox Jew and believed in God, and believed a lot of Christian doctrines- as Christianity is a fulfillment of Judaism- already, but believing that Jesus was the Messiah was new to him.

    So everything else flowed outward from that point.

    Where I am similar to that is in that I was first convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead, and my beliefs flow out from that Corner Stone.

    So, as we discuss things I admit that I have been, am, and will be guilty of some cognitive dissonance. I will come to an issue where there seems to be a contradiction, and I will cling to the belief that God is just and good and loving. Even when it is difficult to see, as with the Holocaust.

    But, by way of two things, I believe that I have- at least to an extent that is satisfactory for me- reconciled the seeming contradiction between our loving God and the tragedy that was the Holocaust. One was seperate from these conversations, as I thought about why God allows us to continue to sin, and the other was in trying to understand why a loving God would allow such a travesty as the Holocaust. The answer to both, I believe, is for the glory of God. I feel a little bit silly that I took a long way around to coming to that conclusion, because I believed at the beginning of our conversations that God’s glory is the center of all things. But after giving that answer, I would not then have been able to answer any further questions, such as why or how God is glorified in allowing those things to happen.

    I do know that the issue of the supernatural is what you say holds you from belief in God, and I would like to get back to that issue- but I also believe that this whole Holocaust thing is somewhat of a stumbling block for you, and I would like to do all I can to remove that stumbling block.

    This is going to be quite long, and I think it is somewhat of an “accomplishment”- one that can only be attributed to God, as He has given me all of the mental capacities that I have and united you and I in these conversations, possibly for the purpose of this reconciliation, and hopefully ultimately for your salvation- so I am going to write it as a blog in its own right rather than here.

    I have greatly enjoyed our conversations so far, and I hope that they will continue. I am grateful both for your wisdom and insight and for the fact that you have caused me to have to think further into these matters than I would have alone!

    Comment by bigham | December 29, 2007 | Reply

  61. […] Glory of God in Allowing Christians to Sin and in Allowing the Holocaust I wrote a blog about evolution being taught in public schools and my belief that it should either be taught […]

    Pingback by The Glory of God in Allowing Christians to Sin and in Allowing the Holocaust « Eyes That See | December 29, 2007 | Reply

  62. Ron,

    A couple thoughts:

    On abortion, I agree that the abolition of abortion would result in some back-alley, coathanger abortions. But not 40 million of them. There have been 40 million abortions in the Roe v. Wade era. I would gladly trade however many coathanger abortions there would have been since 1973 for the lives of the 40 million innocent babies that were murdered.

    On the Holocaust, just know that – if Anne Frank is in hell – you are not only siding with her if you refuse to honor God as God and give Him thanks. You are siding with those who were responsible for the Holocaust.

    God’s honor and glory are worth enough to Him that He allows us to sin, even though He hates sin; enough that He allowed the Holocaust, even though He hated the Holocaust; and ultimately enough to allow His Son to die our death on the Cross, even though that must have been the most brutal time in eternity for Him, in and of itself.

    I fail honor God as God and give Him thanks for all that He has done to the extent that He deserves honor and thanks every single day of my life. But by God’s grace, He has given me a righteousness that is not my own, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. By His grace, I, having zero righteousness of my own before God, am declared righteous in His sight.

    The bigger injustice by God is not that He allowed the Holocaust to happen. The bigger injustice by God is that He allowed the sun to rise on you and I this morning, and that He allows us to continue breathing, knowing full well what we did yesterday, the day before, and the day before that.

    God has impossibly high standards for us, Ron. He demands perfection and righteousness. But everything He demands He provided in Christ Jesus. You cannot meet the demands of God alone, and neither can I. Besides Christ, the most loving, giving, and caring person in the history of the world is unable to account for their sins on their own. We all have sins, and no matter how much good we do, our good deeds can never attone for the price of failing to honor and thank God as God ONE TIME. God is supremely valuable, and one such failure requires the penalty of death.

    You can either pay that penalty with your own death, or trust in Christ Jesus to pay that penalty for you.

    Comment by bigham | December 31, 2007 | Reply


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