Below is a great video on the continuing story of how Richard Dawkins, probably the most important militant atheist evangelist in the world, refuses to debate Christian philosopher William Lane Craig in a debate (even fellow atheists are calling Dawkins a coward). Evidently, Craig will be visiting the UK in October of this year, and will leave a chair open for Dawkins to debate him if he chooses to do so.
Having read both Craig’s works, and Dawkin’s The God Delusion, I must say that I understand why Dawkins doesn’t want to debate him. While Dawkins is clearly well versed in biological science, his understanding of even basic theology and Christian thought is extremely poor, resulting in a muddled, extremely simplistic argumentation against belief in God that becomes easy to dismiss when you realize he’s just taken the same questions and difficulties we’ve all dealt with, and proceeded to hurl them at all non-atheist/agnostics with a clearly spiteful, arrogant attitude that shows he has no respect for any of the 92% (or so) of the world’s population that believe there’s more to the Universe than random matter.
Craig has done quite well in previous debates, and it would be wonderful to hear him go toe-to-toe with Dawkins in a format that will reach more people (this would be quite the event), than written reviews traditionally do (here’s a section from what he’s written in response, with more in book form here).
Open Question and Answer sessions provide a great opportunity to be a voice in your community (I did something similar during a session with gay activist Wayne Besen last year). Learn more about JHOP:SD’s work confronting humanism at their site www.godsdelusion.com.
Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org
You can’t put honesty in a test tube.
“Science” doesn’t say anything—scientists do.
Those are a couple of the illuminating conclusions we can draw from the global warming e-mail scandal.
“You mean science is not objective?” No, unless the scientists are, and too often they are not. I don’t want to impugn all scientists, but it is true that some of them are less than honest. Sometimes they lie to get or keep their jobs. Sometimes they lie to get grant money. Sometimes they lie to further their political beliefs. Sometimes they don’t intentionally lie, but they draw bad scientific conclusions because they only look for what they hope to find.
Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think. A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33% of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20% of mid-career scientists who admitted to “changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.” Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it! (The researchers said as much in their findings.)
Outright lies and deception certainly seem to be the case with “Climategate.” The exposed e-mails reveal cherry picking; manipulating data; working behind the scenes to censor dissenting views; and doubting what the measurements say because they don’t fit their pre-determined conclusion. Matt Drudge headlined this yesterday as the “Greatest scandal in modern science.”
I actually think there is another great scientific scandal, but its misrepresentations are not quite as obvious. In this scandal, instead of outright lies, scientific conclusions are smuggled in as philosophical presuppositions. Such is the case with the controversy over the origin of life and new life forms. Did natural forces working on non-living chemicals cause life, or is life the result of intelligent activity? Did new life forms evolve from lower life forms by natural forces or was intelligence needed?
Dr. Stephen Meyer has written a fabulous new best-selling book addressing those questions called Signature in the Cell. Having earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science, Dr. Meyer is at the top of the science food chain. In our August 8th radio interview, he told me he’s been working on his 600+ page book—which isn’t short of technical detail—for more than a decade.
What qualifies a man who has a Ph. D. in the “philosophy of science” to write on the origin of life or macroevolution? Everything. What some scientists, and many in the general public fail to understand is that science cannot be done without philosophy. All data must be interpreted. And much of the debate between Intelligent Design proponents (like Dr. Meyer) and the Darwinists (like Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins) is not a debate over evidence—everyone is looking at the same evidence. It’s a debate over philosophy. It’s a debate over what causes will be considered possible before we look at the evidence.
Scientists look for causes, and logically, there are only two possible types of causes—intelligent causes or non-intelligent causes (i.e. natural causes). A natural cause can explain a geologic wonder like the Grand Canyon, but only an intelligent cause can explain a geologic wonder like the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. Likewise, natural laws can explain why ink adheres to the paper in Dr. Meyer’s book, but only an intelligent cause can explain the information in that book (i.e. Dr. Meyer!).
How does this apply to the question of the origin of life? Long after Darwin, we discovered that “simple” single-celled life is comprised of massive volumes of DNA information called specified complexity—in everyday terms, a complicated software program or a really long message. Richard Dawkins admits that the information content of the “unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoeba” would fill 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia!
What’s the cause of this? Here’s where the philosophy comes in. Dr. Meyer is open to both types of causes. Richard Dawkins is not. Dr. Meyer’s book explains why natural forces do not appear to have the capacity to do the job, only intelligence does. However, Dawkins and his Darwinist cohorts philosophically rule out intelligent causes before they look at the evidence. So no matter how much the evidence they discover points to intelligence (as a long message surely does), they will always conclude it had to be some kind of natural cause. In other words, their conclusion is the result of their philosophical presupposition.
While Dawkins has no viable natural explanation for life or the message contained therein, he says he knows it cannot be intelligence. That philosophical presupposition leads to what appears to be an unbelievable conclusion: To believe that 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia resulted from blind natural forces is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop. I don’t have enough faith to believe that.
“This is a ‘God of the gaps’ argument!” Dawkins might protest. No it isn’t. We don’t just lack a natural explanation for “simple” life—1,000 encyclopedias worth of information is positive empirically verifiable evidence for an intelligence cause. Consider the cause of the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, for example. It’s not merely that we lack a natural explanation for the book (of course we know that the laws of ink and paper couldn’t have written the book). It’s also the fact that we know that messages only come from minds. Therefore, we rightly posit an intelligent author, not a blind natural process.
Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this? Maybe they refuse to see it. Maybe, like global warming “scientists,” they have their own political or moral reasons for denying the obvious. Or maybe they’ve never realized that you cannot do science without philosophy. As Einstein said, “The man of science is a poor philosopher.” And poor philosophers of science may often arrive at false scientific conclusions. That’s because science doesn’t say anything—scientists do.
On August 4th, 2009, George Sodini walked into a fitness center near Pittsburgh, PA and shot 12 people. Three women were killed, and Mr. Sodini himself committed suicide. The day before the murder-suicide, Mr. Sordoni wrote that he was going to “see God and Jesus” soon on his blog, saying:
Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them.
The day after the shootings, Dr. Brown addressed the murder and these words on his Line of Fire radio show (the show is appropriately titled “A Once Saved Always Saved Murder?”). The audio is below, and provides a good overview of the situation and the doctrine in question:
Evidently, the gunman had been taught that because he had prayed a prayer asking Jesus into his heart at some point in his life, he would spend eternity in heaven with God, no matter what sins he committed or beliefs he espoused thereafter. Here are some thoughts on the subject I put together in an email shortly after the killings took place, and the news came out concerning the gunmen’s beliefs. I submit them for consideration:
I would venture to say that our life and faith in Messiah is in reality more about an organic, somewhat mysterious spiritual dynamic, than a doctrinal system that has as the main goal avoiding the bad place and going to the nice place upon death.
Of course, his thesis has major problems philosophically (does not atheism teach the dangerous nonsense that our only punishment and reward are in this life?), but I actually AGREE with him that false and untrue religion is quite dangerous, and for people to blindly believe that they’re going to heaven the second they die, without feeling the need to have a bit of evidence that it’s true beyond the words of a religious teacher, is quite dangerous as well as perhaps a bit crazy.
But then, if as so many believe, we don’t need the tangible, objective, supernatural presence of God, nor as Mark Galli writes, any real difference at all in our lives from non-believers, to know that our particular doctrinal system is absolutely true, why should we expect people to not “misuse” a doctrine such as once-saved-always-saved, or believe a false religion like Islam? They believe what they believe for the same reasons we do, and with the same level of certainty.
All this to say, I wonder if the problem with this shooter was both an unbiblical belief and blindly believing something with no tangible evidence. Perhaps in his case a healthy fear of death and the judgment to come was in order, as well as a healthy skepticism.
If we require nothing of our religion, why should we expect our religion to require anything of us?
Is it any wonder that those of us in the Kingdom of God that are living and dying for the advancement of the gospel, spiritual revival, cultural reformation, and an increased depth in the Church find it so difficult to awake this “sleeping giant” (as Leonard Ravenhill called it), when so many of us in the Church require nothing of our beliefs beyond simply hearing them preached from a pulpit or reading them in a book?
Until men and women start taking seriously the question of why they believe what they believe, not only will they continue to subconsciously resist the leaven of the gospel from infecting their entire lives, but dangerous doctrines will continue to abound.
Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org
My friend David has a knack for cutting through the smokescreens people throw up when they’re trying to avoid making commitments, be they commitments to God or to other people. Last week, with one comment, he blew away all the smoke that a young agnostic was hiding behind. It was a demonstration of tremendous insight, and it required some courage to say.
For several weeks David was teaching through a series on Christian apologetics, which involves providing evidence for the truth of Christianity. In addition to the biblical mandate to provide such evidence, David thought it would be wise to do so because 75 percent of Christian youth stop attending church after age 18. Many of them abandon the church because they’re bombarded by secularism in college and they’ve never been taught any of the sound evidence that supports Christianity.
Last week, after David finished a presentation refuting the “new atheists”—Dawkins, Hitchens and the like—a young man approached him and said, “I once was a Christian, but now I’m an agnostic, and I don’t think you should be doing what you’re doing.”
“What do you mean?” David asked.
“I don’t think you should be giving arguments against atheists,” the young man said. “Jesus told us to love, and it’s not loving what you’re doing.”
David said, “No, that’s not right. Jesus came with both love and tuth. Love without truth is a swampy, borderless mess. Truth is necessary. In fact, it’s unloving to keep truth from people, especially if that truth has eternal consequences.”
David was absolutely right. In fact, if you look at Matthew chapter 23, Jesus was more like a drill sergeant than he was like Mister Rogers.
But the young man would have none of it. Without acknowledging David’s point, he immediately brought up another objection to Christianity. David succinctly answered that one too, but again the kid seemed uninterested. He fired a couple of more objections at David, who began to suspect something else was up—something I’ve noticed as well.
I’ve found that the machine-gun-objection approach is common among many skeptics and liberals. They throw objection after objection at believers and conservatives but never pause long enough to listen to the answers. It doesn’t matter that you’ve just answered their question with an undeniable fact—they’ve already left that topic and are rattling off another objection on another topic as if you hadn’t said a word. They don’t really seem interested in finding answers but in finding reasons to make themselves feel better about what they want to believe.
After all, a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.
David recognized that’s exactly what was happening in his conversation. So after the kid fired off another objection, David decided to end the charade and cut right to the heart. He said, “You’re raising all of these objections because you’re sleeping with your girlfriend. Am I right?”
All the blood drained from the kid’s face. He was caught. He just stood there speechless. He was rejecting God because he didn’t like God’s morality, and he was disguising it with alleged intellectual objections.
This young man wasn’t the first atheist or agnostic to admit that his desire to follow his own agenda was keeping him out of the Kingdom. In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul revealed this tendency we humans have to “suppress the truth” about God in order to follow our own desires. In other words, unbelief is more motivated by the heart than the head. Some prominent atheists have admitted this.
Atheist Julian Huxley, grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog” Thomas Huxley, famously said many years ago that the reason he and many of his contemporaries “accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn‘t want God to interfere with our sexual mores.”
Professor Thomas Nagel of NYU more recently wrote, “It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time.”
Certainly the new atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have problems with cosmic authority. Hitchens refuses to live under the “tyranny of a divine dictatorship.” Dawkins calls the God of the Bible a “malevolent bully” (among other things) and admits that he is “hostile to religion.”
It’s not that Hitchens and Dawkins offer any serious examination and rebuttal of the evidence for God. They misunderstand and dismiss hundreds of pages of metaphysical argumentation from Aristotle, Aquinas and others and fail to answer the modern arguments from the beginning and design of the universe. (Dawkins explanation for the extreme design of the universe is “luck.”)
Instead, as any honest reader of their books will see, Hitchens and Dawkins are outraged at the very thought of God. Even their titles scream out contempt (god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and The God Delusion). They don’t seem to realize that their moral outrage presupposes an objective moral standard that exists only if God exists. Objective morality—as well as the immaterial laws of reason and science—cannot exist in the materialist universe they attempt to defend.
In effect, they have to borrow from a theistic worldview in order to argue against it. They have to sit in God’s lap to slap his face.
While both men are very good writers, Hitchens and Dawkins are short on evidence and long on attitude. As I mentioned in our debate, you can sum up Christopher’s attitude in one sentence: “There is no God, and I hate him.”
Despite this, God’s attitude as evidenced by the sacrifice of Christ is: There are atheists, and I love them.
An atheist reluctantly admits that Jesus is the answer in Africa in this December 27th Times Onlinearticle:
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it’s Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I wonder if Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris will soon be willing to admit that “the rebirth is real”? Or does one need to witness the impact themselves, as this man has, in order to come face to face with reality? And as far as Africa is concerned, how will the spread of the hyper-prosperity gospel message affect the good testimony that Christianity has built there? Leave a comment below and share your opinion.
Editor’s Note: In an effort to educate followers of Jesus regarding what is going on in the wider culture, we share news that we think the people of God should be aware of, from a Kingdom perspective. Unless otherwise stated, we make no endorsements of the links, media, organizations, or people we report on.
ATHEISTIC DOCUMENTARY “RELIGULOUS” RELEASED
On October 1st, Bill Maher, liberal satirist extraordinaire, released a documentary called Religulous which attempts to mock religious belief, and promote disbelief (literally… www.disbelief.net is promoted on their website). It’s met with generally positive reviews, with Roger Ebert saying: “I report faithfully that I laughed frequently. You may very well hate it, but at least you’ve been informed. Perhaps you could enjoy the material about other religions, and tune out when yours is being discussed. That’s only human nature.” Dr. Craig Hazen of Biola University has written a good review of the film, offering critiques of its main points against Christianity, and declaring that it “seemed to fall pretty flat in the laughs department—like it was appealing to an audience that may have been amused by it twenty years ago” . He also adds:
Well, if it’s not very funny, then what does it have to offer? Nothing, really, except a chance for Maher and Charles to make a fast buck (glad I got my ticket for free). Maher is pitching this film as mavericky—telling the truth about religion that everyone else is afraid to address. But Religulous is nothing more than filthy, nudie, druggie, and obtusey. There is little to laugh at and nothing to learn (except maybe that if you quit being religulous you get to act like Caligulous).
British atheists are planning to evangelize their disbelief on London’s buses by buying ads that proclaim “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Relevant news articles can be found at The Washington Post and BBC News.
The campaign started as a response to bus advertisements that directed people to a Web site that declared that those who do not believe in God will spend “all eternity in torment in hell.” The initial goal was to raise 5,500 pounds, enough for 30 bus ads for 4 weeks, but so many donors came forward that they raised 80,000 pounds and expanded the project. Richard Dawkins, possibly the world’s most prominent and outspoken atheist, donated 5,500 pounds and said on his website: “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think — and thinking is anathema to religion.” Another donor left the comment “Spread the word, and consign this superstitious nonsense to the dustbin of history! America, are you listening?” on the group’s campaign website.
The surprising thing about the project is not that it is being done, anyone that has followed the “new atheism” movement over the past few years expects to see atheism evangelized… what’s really interesting is its “positive” message. While the question of whether anything can truly be “positive” without God can be raised, its simple message of encouraging people to stop worrying and enjoy life is much less angry and mean-spirited than most of that which is propagated by the likes of Dawkins and his disciples. Though Dawkins’ jab at the stupidity of religion reassures me that he hasn’t changed his ways, and makes me wonder if he had little say in determining the slogan and would have wished the sign was a tad more aggressive and condescending.
Fellow followers of Jesus, let us impact our culture with the gospel of our Messiah, whether it be though documentaries, bus ads, or whatever else is at our disposal. Unless we stand up and submit that which we believe into the cultural landscape of ideas, while giving people viable reasons to believe, we will continually be left on the defensive. As Dr. William Lane Craig wrote with regard to his work in philosophy:
It is the broader task of Christian apologetics, including natural theology, to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women. It thereby gives people the intellectual permission to believe when their hearts are moved.