Deeper Waters Podcast 4/1/2017: Steve Bedard

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Pastoring is a hard job. I don’t speak from experience on this, but it must be if you are one who seeks to give it your all. You have to attend all these board meetings with a church, be available for counseling, be available for 3 A.M. phone calls if someone has a medical emergency, do your academic study for a sermon, be writing it out and preparing it and finding material to use for it, read Scripture for your own spiritual formation, and spend quality time with your family. This is a tough task you don’t want to take on lightly.

Now imagine another hurdle to all of that. You have to out there and be with the people and be interacting with them regularly. On top of that, you’re autistic.

How do you handle that? April is coming upon us and so we have our customary show for Autism Awareness Month. He has been on before to talk about his book How To Make Your Church Autism Friendly and now he’s back because since then, he has realized that he is on the spectrum. He is Steve Bedard, and he will be my guest.

So who is he?

Stephen Bedard is the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church and is a sessional lecturer at Tyndale University College. He has MDiv, MTh and MA degrees from McMaster Divinity College and is a DMin candidate at Acadia Divinity College.

Steve Bedard has an active role in apologetics as well so this kind of work is no stranger to him, but he is no doubt having to learn about himself quite a bit and then how does the church respond? What do they think about having an autistic pastor? Is Steve able to connect with his congregation or not?

We can also now ask him what it’s like from a first-hand perspective instead of just through his kids to be on the spectrum. Has this changed his relationship with his children any? Does being an autistic pastor provide any benefits to the job? Are there any extra hurdles to it? Does he ever meet with other pastors who are surprised to learn that there is an autistic pastor?

Of course, those of us on the spectrum know that there are degrees on it and people are all different. There are some things many of us have in common, but there are many ways that we are all different. People like Steve I hope are an inspiration to others that are out there on the spectrum. (Just recently, I read an article by a professional answering that he thinks Aspies are capable of intimacy. I commented and said myself and my Aspie wife of nearly seven years would agree.)

I hope you’ll be listening to this show as we talk with Steve Bedard and find out what his ministry is like for him. We will also be asking about how his relationships have changed since then. Please consider going on ITunes also and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to read them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Life We Never Expected

What do I think of Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson are just living their lives. It’s the way that most people would expect. You grow up, go to school, graduate, get married, and then the next step is having children. You bring those children home and watch them grow up and then get married and have their own children and their own careers and such.

Well, that is the way the story is normally supposed to go.

Yet often times, life doesn’t follow the script we’ve written out.

The Wilsons had two kids and both of them were born with autism. On my reading of the book, the autism seemed severe, but then they said there are changes so I do not know for sure where they are now, but at the time of writing, it was a time of stress. Andrew and Rachel often found themselves at their wit’s end.

For me, this is something that’s near and personal to my heart. It’s not because I’m a parent, but because I have Aspergers and not only do I have it, but my wife has it as well. Stories about autism are always important to me and I am all about raising awareness for those on the spectrum.

The book itself has five sections that are also divided into five sections. The subdivisions of each section are weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathe. The Wilsons go through each on their journey. The chapter heading will also tell you which one it is that is writing the chapter, with one chapter being a friend interviewing them.

The book will not tell you much on how to raise autistic children. My guess is the Wilsons are learning on the journey and don’t want to give that advice as if they have it all together. Instead, it’s about the internal struggles that take place and especially when Andrew is on board, about dealing with the theological ramifications of what is going on.

Still, the Wilsons are indeed thankful for their children. They have a unique joy and appreciation for them even though there are many times the children are exceptionally stressful to them. This isn’t the life that they expected, but perhaps it is the life that they needed and were meant for. We cannot say that for sure this side of eternity, but who knows?

I would have liked to have seen something more about autism for people who do not know much about it. It’s also important to point out that there are levels on the spectrum. My wife and I are both quite high functioning for instance and I know many other people on the spectrum who are, such as Hugh Ross and Stephen Bedard. The spectrum is wide and contains them all, but all of them are also contained by another spectrum. That is the spectrum of people who are made in the image of God and that He loves.

The Wilsons’s book is a good and short read and I think would be quite helpful to parents going through this. In fact, if your child has any major disability, this could be a good read. The Wilsons are thoroughly Christian in their treatment and both humorous and sensitive.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: A Parent’s Guide To Autism

What do I think of Ron Sandison’s book published by Siloam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was very pleased when Ron Sandison sent me a copy of his book on Autism. He and I are both on the spectrum as is my wife. It’s always interesting to read about the perspectives of others. While the book is a guide for parents, non-parents, like myself, will receive great benefit from it. The book is also written from a Biblical worldview.

I found myself being struck by how different our stories were. Ron grew up with a great interest in sports, such as running track. I did not. I could watch baseball, but other than that, I just didn’t care. I was more into video games than that kind of stuff.

Ron was also I found more outgoing than I would normally be. He talked about going on about 300 dates. I came nowhere near that. I frankly don’t remember much social interaction from my growing up. I tended to be a loner with a few isolated friends.

Our theological stories are also quite different. I do not particularly care for many of the people Ron would see as heroes on his journey, but that also caused me to consider looking a bit differently. After all, on the spectrum, it can be hard to really step outside yourself. Seeing a more personal side to some of these people did change matters for me.

Also surprising at times was the way I could see Ron behave, particularly when he talked about four guys at one point in the book he’d given nicknames for. I read that and thought “Wow. Ron was a jerk there.” In fact, he’d probably agree and it took his wife pointing it out to him.

I would also differ from Ron in many ways in that it looked like much of what he did theologically was oriented by experience. I am still thankful that it all worked out. A lot of the struggles he spoke about with employment and such I could relate to.

Still, despite our differences, this is certainly a valuable book to own! Ron has done meticulous research in the area and has the stories of many people who are on the spectrum or have interacted with them. These success stories should give anyone with concern an idea of hope. The main message I think you’d get is to never get up. Autism does not have to be a death sentence.

Ron will talk about the therapies and approaches that are used and give advice to parents. He will have people on the spectrum describe what life is like in their own words and he will have the parents of people on the spectrum sharing the same. This is a book of hope.

And yet still, I would like to see more, and maybe Ron can work on that. We tend to get some of Ron’s story up to marriage, but I would like to see what happens then as this is an area not touched on often, and I say that as one in an Aspie marriage myself. (Ron’s wife is not on the spectrum so that would be one difference.)

So what happens then? People on the spectrum can be closed up. How does a spouse reach inside? Many people on the spectrum can tend to not like touch. How does this work with sex? Ron has just become a father recently. How does that work for him? Does he have concerns about his daughter having the same condition? Does he see any ways he really needs to grow to be a good parent?

Ron’s book overall is still an excellent one. I found myself looking up some of the people that he mentioned and wanting to contact them. I happen to love my life every day and enjoy life on the spectrum and I hope people who read Ron’s book will learn a little bit more about the fascinating world we live in.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/9/2016: Ron Sandison

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

April is Autism Awareness Month and I prefer to do a shout out to those on the spectrum, like my wife and I, when that time comes. This year is no exception. My thanks goes to Stephen Bedard for the inspiration this year as I saw that he had interviewed a professor at a Seminary who is on the spectrum. I immediately went about contacting this professor and arranging an interview for the show so this Saturday, I will be talking with Ron Sandison. Who is he?

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Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.

Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website http://www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com

 

All of this gives us a lot that we can talk about. Something I always want to ask my fellow Aspies on the spectrum who are also married is how that happened. After all, most of us are just terrified of talking to people. I understand that it’s hard enough to talk to someone of the opposite sex without Aspergers so it is even harder with Aspergers. I know in my case, having a mutual friend helped and we began our relationship with internet communication.

Ron has more than that. He’s also got a daughter so what is it like being a parent on the spectrum? It is often thought that Aspies don’t make the best parents. True, he has limited experience at this point, but what does he think about this? What challenges does he face?

Then of course, we can talk about being a professor at a Seminary. Does he have any benefits from his Aspergers that help him with the job? Does he have any negatives that can make the job more difficult? Is having Aspergers an important part of his interaction with students?

Finally, we can talk about his spiritual life as well. Sometimes it is hard for us to relate to ordinary people. How much harder is it to relate to divine persons? How do you worship God to the best of your ability as an Aspie? Can it be difficult to do Christian disciplines like prayer? What advice would be given to fellow Aspies? What overall would be said to parents or other people related to Aspies?

I hope you’ll be joining me this Saturday for this!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/25/2015: Paul Compton

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Friendship is something special and some friends last a very long time. One such friendship I have is with Paul Compton who I met when I was in Bible College. Later when I went to Seminary, Paul Compton was right there. He helped me and my roommate move in and get situated. Paul afterwards got a job at a church in New Hampshire and took the position up there, but we did stay in touch. In fact, Paul was one of the people that came to Charlotte for my wedding. Knowing about my having Aspergers, when he found out his son Timothy was diagnosed with Aspergers, he made sure to give me a call to see what I had to say. Since he’s such a good friend and has a great interest in both apologetics and in autism, then I figured he’d be great to have come on the show to discuss fatherhood and apologetics.

So who is Paul?

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And according to his own bio.

Paul A. Compton is a pastor and apologist at Riverside Christian Church in Merrimack, NH. He received his B.A. in Bible from Johnson University (2002) and Master of Arts in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC (2008). He is an active member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Paul is also a founding and active board member of iHope International Ministries. In 2012, he was elected to the Town Ethics Committee where he served as Chairman. Paul is blessed with a lovely wife, Elizabeth, and two children (Timothy and Andrew) who encourage and support his service in ministry.

Paul has also been doing some work, though I understand it has been slowed down, on starting his own organization to raise awareness about autism called “Autism Shouts.” Paul is an enjoyable guy to be around who knows his Scripture and philosophy well and he has a sense of humor that you’ll thoroughly enjoy, especially if you love puns.

So what is it like being the father of someone on the spectrum? How does it change the marriage dynamic? If you’re someone skilled in philosophy, how does that change your outlook on life? Do you see Aspergers as a hindrance or a blessing or is it some of both? How does Timothy interact with his friends? How does he interact with family? What’s it like taking a child with Aspergers to church? What do you think the church could do differently for people who are on the autism spectrum? What advice would you give to parents who just found out that there child is on the Autism spectrum or suspect that their child is on the Autism spectrum?

I am looking forward to this show. Paul is a good friend who has a good heart for Christ and has been a great friend to Deeper Waters throughout the years. I hope you’ll enjoy his company just as much as I do and benefit from what he has to say.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/18/2015: Stephen Bedard

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, apologies on the show not getting up as it should be. I have been awfully busy around here, but I am trying to get that taken care of. If you do not know, April is Autism Awareness Month and we have been looking at the subject of autism. This week, we’re going to have my friend Stephen Bedard come on to talk about his book How To Make Your Church Autism Friendly.

So who is Stephen Bedard?

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According to his bio:

Stephen Bedard has a BBA from Brock University, Mdiv, MTh, MA degrees from McMaster Divinity College and is a current DMin student at Acadia Divinity College. He is a chaplain in the Canadian army reserves and an adjunct instructor at Emmanuel Bible College.

This is a personal field for Bedard as well as he has two children with autism. This book that he has written is a labor of love. Also, if you’re someone who doesn’t have much time for reading of this sort, then you will be in luck again. The book is incredibly short. I read it on a flight from New Orleans to Knoxville and even then still had plenty of time left over. Yet this book is packed with great information and short stories that will open your eyes to the reality that is autism. Bedard was fortunate to find a church that was autism friendly and did indeed treat his children well.

Bedard and I will be talking about these matters. Are there some things that the church is doing that is really turning off people who have autism? Naturally, churches cannot do everything as random people in the church might not be as familiar, Still, there are things that churches can do to play their part. More and more families are being affected by the realities of the autism spectrum and these are situations that need to be addressed. As more and more people are diagnosed with autism, churches will indeed have to adapt to this so they can meet the needs of this rising demographic, including their spiritual needs.

Do children’s groups need to get equipped to be autism-friendly? Children who are on the spectrum will behave different than children who are not. Will other parents need to be aware of this? What about events in the church? What happens if a child with autism is in a church service and suddenly starts to act up. How should a good pastor handle this situation? Will some times be more frightening for people on the spectrum?

These are important topics indeed and we will be talking about more of them, including Bedard’s own personal experience with this reality. It is my hope that in hearing this, you will realize how important it is that your church be autism-friendly and that you will also really consider getting Stephen Bedard’s book and letting your pastor have a copy of the book as well.

I look forward to this interview and I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do I Suffer With Aspergers?

Does having a condition mean that you suffer with it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife shared on her Facebook the tragic story of a young girl who committed suicide because of being diagnosed with Aspergers. Now I have not hidden on here that my wife and I both have Aspergers. Does that sometimes lead to suffering? Of course. There are difficulties. I can have a hard time recognizing sarcasm and tend to take things very literally. I can easily obsess on matters that I shouldn’t and I am prone to anxiety.

Yet as I looked at the comments on this story, I think of the first one I read and it had a phrase that I have seen several times, even when people speak about me. That is the term that they know someone who suffers with Aspergers.

I don’t like that term.

I don’t like it because it makes it sound like if you have a condition, then you are automatically meant to suffer. Now of course we can argue that it could increase your likelihood of negatives in your life. We can argue that it could give you extra hurdles. I would also add that it gives me several bonuses too. I like the way that my mind works with this. I think it enables me to be a better husband as I am able to be so focused on my spouse in a special way and it gives me a great memory to use in the field of apologetics. I think my mind is also much better able to multi-task.

The point is that suffering is a choice. I have very little control over what happens to me. I cannot control if you care about me or hate me. I would prefer that you care, but I cannot control that. I would prefer many things, but I cannot control them. Life is not based on what I want and prefer. It is just what it is. I am playing a game and I cannot control the cards that I have been dealt. I can control what I do with those cards and I can control that I will play them to the best of my ability. I cannot guarantee that I will win a game, but I can guarantee that I will be fighting the whole time.

I can control my attitude towards what happens. That takes work, and I realize that, but that is my responsibility to learn how to do that. I cannot hold other people responsible for my feelings. I have made it a choice to not be a victim to what others say. It is okay for me to feel sad at times and to feel hurt at times. It also does not mean that I act recklessly. It means that I live my life the best that I can and if you do something wrong to me, well that’s on your head. I’m not responsible for it. I could have even provoked you in some way that led to your doing a wrong action, even doing something wrong myself, but you are responsible for your own wrong actions just as I am for mine.

None of this is to deny that suffering is real. I went through back surgery when I was fifteen and about to turn sixteen. I had a steel rod placed on my spine. Let me tell you, that suffering pain I felt was VERY VERY real! Never have I felt such intense physical pain before. The stomach aches afterwards (They had to take my stomach out to do the surgery for a bit and I am told they unintentionally stretched it when they did) were very real. Twice in the past year I have had the flu, the worst time being in December. The pain was very real. With emotional pain, I have had depression and I have had panic attacks. Yes. Those pains were very very real. In fact, I would rather go through the back surgery again than the depression and panic attacks.

Suffering is real.

And what about other people in the world? Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted for our faith. I have been told about some who had boiling water applied to their bodies, even to their genitals, to make them feel pain. Many times, these are even little children who undergo this. This suffering is very real. They have no choice as to if they will undergo this suffering and no doubt with the physical suffering, they feel the effects of that for a lifetime. What about that?

You cannot choose if you will feel physical suffering or not. That much is real.

You can choose how you respond to it.

For little children, this can be harder because children are really impressionable in so many ways and don’t know better. They don’t know the coping skills. This is why good parenting is so essential. You have to watch the messages you are giving your children early on. They have the capability to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, some children are raised by terrible parents who are abusive and tell them lies and physically abuse them. When does the pain reach its worst? It is when the child starts to believe everything that is said and done to him. It is when the child internalizes it. Then the child unknowingly becomes his own abuser too.

A friend asked me about Jesus in response to this. Jesus underwent suffering. What about that? Yes. Yes He did. He chose a life of suffering. He was described as a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. At the same time, He was also a man of great joy. How do I know this?

People wanted to be around Jesus.

Do you really want to be around people that are negative? Not at all. Jesus was invited to parties and gatherings. When people were loved by Jesus, they took that as God loving them. Jesus had done miracles and spoke in the style of a prophet to show who He was. People came to Him for forgiveness instead of the temple. People came to Him for healing instead of the temple. In fact, Hebrews tells us that Jesus went to the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus was not looking at the suffering itself. He was looking beyond the suffering to the fruit that it would be used for.

We in the midst of our suffering have to do the same, and might I say we tend to fare worse than our counterparts? There are people that live without a steady food supply, no internet, not having a plumbing system to use the bathroom, subject to all manner of weather, under persecution by wicked governments, and without clean water, and many of them have more faith and joy than we have. We should be ashamed to see the suffering that other people face with joy and compare that to the kind of suffering that we too often complain about over here.

And who is responsible for that?

They are the ones choosing to rejoice in the face of suffering. We are the ones choosing to focus on the suffering that we have. We cannot control the suffering that others inflict on us, but we can control the suffering that we choose to reflect on. This can take time and work depending our psychology, but we have that choice.

Do not define me as suffering with Aspergers. My life is an adventure. I thrive. I am happy to be alive. I choose to live every day seeking to learn more about my God and to serve Him. I love doing Christian apologetics. I love the wife that I’ve been given. All of this is a gift to me from God. I serve Him and I look forward to serving Him in His Kingdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/11/2015: Sarah Ankenman

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going to be continuing this month looking at Autism and Aspergers and life on the spectrum. Last week, I spoke to my friend Dan Ventress and we discussed our lives together. This Saturday, I’m going to be speaking to my friend Sarah Ankenman. Sarah and I met at the New Orleans Defend The Faith conference and she is also one of the group of women in apologetics. She also happens to have a son who is autistic. We will be talking to her about her life as an apologist and we will be focusing on her life with her son and how that has affected her life, what she knows about autism now from her experience, and what impact that has on her ministry. So who is Sarah?

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Sarah Ankenman currently works at Online for Life as the Director of Pregnancy Resource Center Relations and is the Founder of The International Society of Women in Apologetics. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education and graduated with a Masters in Christian Leadership from Grand Canyon University. She received her Bachelors in Biblical Studies at Calvary Chapel Bible College and has a second in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University. She is currently teaching an Intro to Apologetics class at Maranatha Chapel’s School of Ministry in San Diego. In the past, she has taught Women in Faith, Drama and Film, and Apologetics to Islam at Calvary Chapel Bible College and Apologetics and Worldviews, Church History, and Comparative Religions at Maranatha High School in Rancho Bernardo, CA. She also currently speaks across the country on topics like Equipping Your Kids, The Case for the Anti-Abortion Position, Apologetics to Islam, Seeking Something More: The Argument from Desire, Why Apologetics?, The Definition of Truth, God’s Existence, Miracles, the Reliability of the Bible, and Rethroning Jesus: The Case for His Existence, Death, Deity, and Resurrection. She has also written a curriculum to equip the average, busy Christian woman in apologetics. She blogs as The Valley Girl Apologist and is currently working on a book entitled Seeking Something More, on the argument from desire.

Sarah has a wide range of interests as you can see and this time we will be having the focus on autism. This can be tied in with many of the issues that she does speak about. What about women who might want to get an abortion if they were to somehow find out that their child is or could be autistic? Why does God allow people to have disabilities like this, especially if they are so severe that your life can be interfered with to some extent? What do you learn about being a good parent? What advice would you give to other parents who have children on the spectrum?

I hope this will be an interesting talk for you and I hope that this month will open you up more to the world that is life on the autistic spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/4/2015: Aspergers and Apologetics

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, some of you might be wondering why you haven’t received any updates since the Jerry Walls episode. The answer is that there haven’t been new episodes. We had to cancel the David Marshall interview because I came down with the flu and then Mike Edens had to cancel on us, but hopefully we will this Saturday return to our regular podcasting.

As I hope you know, April is Autism Awareness Month which includes those of us who are Aspies. This month all of our shows will be revolving around this topic. We are going to have an apologist who is a mother later on this month talking about her life with a son with Aspergers. We are going to be having a father come on later who is also an apologist talking about life with his son with Aspergers. Also, we will have Stephen Bedard on who has two children with Autism and he has written a book on how to make your church more autism friendly. So if that’s all coming up later, what’s going to be going on this Saturday?

This Saturday, you’re going to hear from myself and a few others in a round table discussion. What we all have in common is that we’re all apologists and we all have Aspergers. I will be leading this discussion as the host as to how life is for us on the spectrum. Do we have any bonuses in our eyes because of our condition? Are there any negatives that we have to work on? How does it affect our Christian life overall? After all, you can read many books on the subject, and I encourage you to do so, but there is nothing like hearing from someone who is on the spectrum yourself.

At this point, I do not know for sure who all the guests are going to be. My friends Will Herb and Dan Ventress have already said that they will come on. We are hoping that Jonathan McLatchie will also come on. I plan on us not just discussing apologetics but also discussing our day to day lives. How do we do in social situations? Do we have any idiosyncracies that it can be hard for other people to understand? Also, what about social situations? How do we go about making friends and how do we act with them? What about with our family? What about with the opposite sex?

I also hope we will discuss what we think the church can do differently for people who are on the spectrum. Are there any things the church does right now that are problematic for reaching people who are on the spectrum? Could it be that maybe those on the spectrum will more often respond more to intellectual ideas rather than to social ideas? More and more people are being diagnosed as being on the spectrum so this is a group we need to be more aware of.

I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed! I hope this will be a very informative episode for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God.

Are all human lives valuable for what they are? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Richard Dawkins is well-known today as a leading contemporary spokesman for atheism. If you asked most people today to name a famous living atheist, Dawkins would likely be on top of the list. In fact, according to this site, he’s the #1 leading atheist in the world. Perhaps in some ways we could describe Richard Dawkins as the Pope of atheism.

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This is actually more fitting than most realize. The idea is that in the so-called Dark Ages, you went to the priests who were the bearers of all knowledge. The correct view on that is that the religious leaders likely were some of the most knowledgeable people around. The false view is that it’s because the only knowledge they had was knowledge of the Bible. No. Active learning was going on in many areas. Not all would have a specific interest in “natural philosophy” as science was called, but all would know something about it.

Today, science has become the new priesthood with a scientism that says science is the only way you know anything and that all knowledge must be scientific and if you can’t establish something scientifically, it can’t be true. Never mind that this criteria has never once met its own standards. It is an undercurrent in our society. Whenever an opinion comes on an issue, if it is said that “a scientist says” that is automatically the most valid opinion, never mind that it could be something the scientist has never really studied. His opinion matters because he is a scientist.

None of this is to knock science. No one should want to. Science is our friend. Scientism is our enemy. The putting of science in the supreme place as the supreme guide to knowledge is also our enemy. It is no desire to belittle scientific knowledge, or any knowledge for that matter. It is a desire instead to deal with the practical worship of science.

Many of us know about Dawkins’s recent outrage that has been sparked due to twitter remarks. It would be bad enough if that was the only embarrassing story of the week, but it is not. Consider this story from just last Saturday. In it, Dawkins is compared to an evangelist who develops a following if you donate to his circle. Reality is Dawkins is even more expensive than the evangelists that he would criticize. Let’s look at some highlights. A lengthy quote will suffice.

the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.

When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

I can suspect that this will be met with zealous opposition where this is shared by internet atheists and their followers, which will really demonstrate the case. Those who are followers of Dawkins really study the issues just as little as he does, if not less, which might be surprising seeing as it’s hard to imagine studying religious issues less than Dawkins. Thankfully, there are some atheists who are thoughtful and seek to understand the issues that realize Dawkins is an embarrassment to their cause and want him to just go away. The more atheists keep upholding Dawkins however and referring to works like “The God Delusion” as if it was a philosophical masterpiece, the more Christians who know what they’re talking about will see no reason to take them seriously. In fact, if I meet anyone who considers “The God Delusion” to be recommended reading to show why Christianity or theism should not be taken seriously, I know that this is a person uninformed on the issues. Actually, that applies to anyone who recommends any of the new atheists.

Many of you might not have noticed that story about Dawkins because frankly, he’s done something even more embarrassing than that. In fact, this is something I would even say is downright wicked. What Dawkins has done is sparked a controversy based on what he said in his twitter feed. You see, Dawkins heard from someone that they don’t know what they would do if they were pregnant with a child with Down’s Syndrome. It was described as an ethical dilemma.

Before we focus on what Dawkins had to say in response, isn’t it a shame we live in a world where even knowing your baby will have Down’s Syndrome leaves you with a dilemma of if you should kill it or not? You see, the reality is that as soon as that child is conceived and they have Down’s Syndrome, you are already the parent of a child with Down’s. The question you have to ask is if you’re going to be the parent of a dead one or a living one. Not only that, are you going to be the parent of a living child that you and your spouse brought into the world together, or are you going to be the parent of a dead child that died at your own hands.

In fact, I know and have known a number of people with Down’s Syndrome children. Are the children hard to care for? Yes. Can it be frustrating? Yes. Does it cost a lot of money? Yes.

You know, like all children do.

Of course, Down’s children come with extra hurdles, but you know what? They also come with extra joys. They tend to be far more honest and genuine in their love and the parents who take the time to love them see them as the gift that they are and how much they should be appreciated. One friend of ours in fact when she found out the child she was carrying had Down’s was told “There are other options” to which she immediately responded that there were not. That was her baby and she was going to love her baby and Down’s was not going to be an obstacle.

Well done.

So right at the start, we have a problem. We are being told that we really need to consider if people with Down’s Syndrome have lives that are really worth living. Exactly how far will this go? Are we not participating in a eugenics program at this point where we decide only those with desirable traits will live?

Well hopefully Pope Richard was able to give some advice to point out to this person that lives are valuable by the nature of what they are and that yes, things could be difficult, but you know, with the wonders of science we can do so much to ease the burdens that really are there and maybe even find a cure for Down’s someday! Surely this was said!

Or maybe not.

What was said?

“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

Dawkins is in an even worse position than the questioner. He sees no ethical dilemma. It is said so easily. Abort it and try again. In fact, it would be immoral. Why?  Well Dawkins later said in his response to the outrage that:

“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

Now none of us would object to increasing happiness and reducing suffering, but what we ask is if the ends justify the means. Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result? That is in fact something that I wish to keep pressing when it comes to the abortion debate. The question we need to ask is “Is the act of willfully terminating your own pregnancy wrong?”

You see, in reality, we can agree with many of the reasons that someone would want an abortion. We can agree they should be financially stable. We can agree many are not ready to raise a child yet. We can agree that many need emotional security. We can agree that it is fine for a woman to have a career. No one is saying any of these things are evil in and of themselves.

What we are saying is that none of those justifies the murder of an innocent child.

Dawkins has decided in advance that these children cannot be happy and that they can only be suffering and they cannot bring happiness to their parents but only bring suffering.

Interestingly, this same person who wondered about a child with Down’s also admitted to being on the autism spectrum (like my wife and I) and asked about that. Dawkins’s response?

People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

Well thank you Dawkins for saying I have a great deal to contribute. Apparently, the reason you think I’m valuable to the human race is that I can contribute something worthwhile. In other words, I am valuable for what I do. Too bad those babies with Down’s Syndrome don’t have enough value in being, you know, human beings.

The response to all of this was as expected and even included this satirical piece. (Warning: It does have language, but it was the greatest laugh I had all day yesterday.) The sad part is too many internet atheists were defending Dawkins as if his point was obvious. Sure. Why not abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome?

Now Dawkins did apparently issue an apology, though it was quite a backhanded one. It would be like a man saying to his wife “I’m sorry I had an affair, but you have just been so frigid lately, and this woman was just so hot, and I have these needs that I have to have met, and it was meant to be a private thing between her and I and you were never meant to find out.” We could go on and on with it. 

Dawkins has no apologies for the comment. In fact, his clarifying comment said he would still recommend abortion for the same reason. What he is sorry for is that it started a twitter war. In the above analogy, it would be like the husband issuing an apology not because he cheated on his wife, but rather because he got caught doing so. From this point on Dawkins, went to make statements about the people who were complaining about what he had to say.

It never occurs to Dawkins that what he said was utterly reprehensible. Dawkins has before said

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

Let it be said in response that if you meet someone who seeks to justify the murder of an innocent child in the womb, wicked should in fact be one of the first things in your mind. It looks like in the world of Dawkins, denying evolution would be a worse crime against humanity than aborting a baby with Down’s Syndrome.

It will be a wonder to see what happens if Dawkins or those like him were truly ever in charge. He has already made a statement about what children he thinks bring suffering into the world. Perhaps he’d also team up with his friend Peter Boghossian. This is the same Peter Boghossian who has a chapter in his Manual for Creating Atheists (A book that I reviewed here and keep in mind that Tim McGrew massacred Boghossian’s chickens here) that lists containment protocols.

That’s right. What can we do to “contain” people of faith? This included such steps as treating faith (A term Boghossian does not know the meaning of) as a public health crisis and to remove the religious exemption for delusion from the DSM, which is the diagnostic rule book for psychological disorders.

Dawkins might say he would not want to impose his beliefs on others, but would his followers have that same belief? Boghossian seems fine with treating those of us who are Christians or believers in any deity as if we have a disease. 

The sad part is technically, Dawkins is not contradicting his atheism in any way. For a Christian, to think it okay to abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome would be a contradiction of their view of life, but for Dawkins, it does not have to be. Of course, there are many individual atheists who are pro-life and thank God for them, but the only requirement for being an atheist is “Don’t believe in God.” You can not believe in God and be a psychopath or be a philanthropist and both of them are consistent with the statement “God does not exist.” You cannot be living a life of sin in Christianity and have that be consistent with “I am a follower of Christ.”

Well Professor Dawkins, the sad reality is that you don’t see children with Down’s Syndrome as a gift to the world, which indeed they are as many parents with Down’s Syndrome children would tell you, but we can certainly say that you, Professor Dawkins, are a gift to the church. You are a great example of what will happen the more and more we move away from God and let people like you have the most say in what goes on in our culture.

Let’s just hope most people have enough moral sense to know not to like it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters