Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to look at another atheist sound bite, although I hope soon to move on to the ones we Christians use that irk me oh so much. Last night, we looked at the topic of supposed genocide briefly and saw the main example of Numbers 31 and that it’s highly exaggerated. What about slavery? How is it that the Bible condones such a practice?

To begin with, one point I usually make with atheists is that they also need a moral standard by which they condemn this practice. Very few people I find who profess to be moral relativists seem to live this out. They tend to be relativists about the morality they want people to tolerate in them and absolutists about morality they won’t accept elsewhere.

Also, let’s clear something up at the start. If you’re an American thinking about slavery in the Civil War era, drop that idea immediately. That’s not what’s going on in the Bible. Keep in mind in fact that some slavemasters in the South were quite good to their slaves and the slaves didn’t want to leave. There were some blacks in the Confederate army. The north was hardly innocent either with child labor and poor working conditions.

In our times, slavery was done on people seen as racially inferior and was often done to exploit them. In the Bible, it was quite the opposite. If you go to work sometime and you come home referring to your boss as a taskmaster, you’re not too far from the slavery in the Bible in some ways. It was more akin to the employee/employer relationship.

Everyone needed to work to live and the only place you can go to to get a job is to those who have the money to pay you. If you were a poor person in ancient Israel, you had to hire yourself out to someone to work. Seeing as your livelihood and his depended on work getting done, a contract of sorts would be required, even if just an oral one. This was the system.

It was a staple of the ancient world and no one could function without it. People had to work for other people. Around the time of the Romans, some slaves had enough to become teachers and other professionals. The philosopher Epictetus was a slave. This was also allowed in Israel as a slave could have his own income and resources.

“Yeah? Well you could also beat a slave without fear of punishment provided he live!”

Sounds like it’s treating a slave as mere property at first, but not at all. When a slave is referred to as property, it means the owner has rights to the output that the slave would produce. Your employer, if you are the common American worker, just as much expects certain output from you. That’s why he pays you.

Well what about this in Exodus 21?

20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

To begin with, you would be punished if the slave died. However, if the worker lives after a day or two, you weren’t. Why? The owner is being given the benefit of the doubt. He doesn’t want to lose that income from that slave and besides, if other future workers hear that X died under the treatment of Y, he knows he’s not likely to get replacement help.

The rod was also the system of discipline. We can scorn that today, as we prefer locking someone away in a cell for several years. It’s quite the difference as to us, solitude is seen as a great punishment. I believe the ancients placed great value on solitude.

But even if you beat your slave, notice what Exodus 21 later says:

26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

The idea is that if a slave suffers permanent damage under the care of the person he was a slave to, then that slave was to go free. That’s something any owner would keep in mind when it came to discipline! The owner’s reputation again would also suffer as a result.

Well that works for Hebrews. What about foreigners! The system was biased towards those who identified with YHWH!

Yeah. It was.

What? You’re expected to think that YHWH running a system would not want people in that system to be devoted to Him?

The simple solution for any alien would be to convert to following YHWH. Abandon pagan gods and join YHWH. Why should this be a surprise to us? There is nothing immoral about it. If you are in charge of an organization, you get to call the shots on who gets what kind of treatment.

Is this ideal? No. It is not. However, it would not have worked for YHWH to have overthrown the system entirely. The ancient world depended on it, the rich and the poor alike. His plan was to take a less than ideal system and eventually through the transference of holiness make it better.

“Well Jesus could have done something about it! Why nothing in the NT!?”

The NT does tell slaves to work hard, but it also tells masters to treat their slaves well. Why nothing explicit? The gospel was not to be about overthrowing a political system, but rather the kingdom of the devil. It was through such transformation that slavery would eventually be overcome. This was through the work of people like Bathilda, wife of Clovis II, and William Wilberforce.

I recommend works like Kaiser’s “Towards Old Testament Ethics,” “The Rise of Christianity” and “The Victory of Reason” by Rodney Stark, articles at, and the work at the, including a whole in-depth article on this topic.

The question to the atheist critic is, “What exactly have you read about slavery in the ANE?”

Numbers 31

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Our movie reviews are done for now, so we’re going to be going back to looking at topics that are discussed in the blogosphere in debates that Christians have with atheists. One common complaint brought up against the Bible are the conquests that take place in the Old Testament. If there is any that is pointed to more than others however, it is Numbers 31. In reading atheists on the topic of “genocide in the Bible” I expect it. I am not disappointed.

The whole chapter is about conquering the people of Midian. What happens is that Moses commands the Israelites to go and put the people to death. They are to kill everyone save the women who have not slept with a man. Obviously, this was just bloodthirsty murder and the women had to undergo an embarrassing physical examination to be determined if they would die or be kept as rape objects for the Israelites.

Or maybe not….

To begin with, the start of the chapter says that this is an act of vengeance. That means that we have to look for something earlier that will tell us what this is in response to. Fortunately, we don’t have to go too far. The incident that this is a response to is found in Numbers 25.

Israel had already defeated the Amorites putting Balak in a tough position getting him to contact Balaam to curse Israel. The plan didn’t work, but Balaam knew another way to get Israel to lose their blessing. All that needed to be done was to get Israel to violate their covenant with YHWH. What better way to do that than sex?

Not that sex is wrong of course, but that sex would be the lure. Adultery of course was wrong and that would be the start. Suddenly one day, Moabite women show up in town. They are working in conjunction with the Midianites, the Midianites taking the more authoritative role. The idea is to lure the men away and then in doing so get them to start worshiping other gods.

This was quite a trip, as these women would have come a long distance and left behind any family duties while away and their purpose was to come and have sex with the Israelites and lead them astray. Thus, Midian was really the aggressor in this case and Israel was in the defensive position.

As a result of what happened, a plague came upon Israel that killed 24,000 people. This event was a mark of shame to Israel later on. In Numbers 31, the time for vengeance has come.

Now what of the embarrassing physical examination for the women? No need at all. Why? Children were highly valued and one needed to know whose child one was talking about. Virgins then were identified by special clothing and/or markings as could non-virgins be. The reality is that no one would have needed to do an examination to know who was a virgin. It would have been easy to tell.

Well obviously they were kept for sex purposes. Not likely. Israel was condemned for many things. Pedophilia was not one of them. Most likely, these young women would have been kept as household servants in Israelite families. There is no mention of rape in the text and that was already condemned by YHWH.

Well what about the deaths anyway?

Of course, this is said in a society where government aid is available and social programs to care for the deprived. In reality, most of the time, people were driven out. Only the diehards would stay behind wanting to fight Israel. Children left behind would simply be eaten by beasts. Am I saying this is ideal? No. I’m saying however, that there were not many other options available.

Still, this is a favorite that is often used. The sad reality is that few atheists seem to study Numbers 31. It seems to be a pattern of criticizing things in theology without studying them.

Movie Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Last night, we did a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. As it is, over the Christmas break, my in-laws took my wife and I to see The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Unfortunately, it’s been awhile since I’ve read the books, but this one made me think “Perhaps I should get those down again soon and go through them once more.” Be warned of spoilers in advance.

I did recall some references, such as Eustace having a name that he almost deserved. In my understanding of the film, Eustace is a reductionist through and through. He doesn’t want to bother reading serious fairy tales. He only wants to read about facts. Of course, it’s questionable how many facts he knows. There is even a work that has made Richard Dawkins out to be Eustace, which I found interesting since I was thinking of a Dawkins type when seeing Eustace.

Whatever Eustace sees for awhile, he is tempted to think there has to be some explanation other than what is most obvious. It cannot be he is really in another world even though he was in a bedroom and then it filled up with water and he came out in open sky. Everyone must be in on a hallucination or conspiracy of some sort.

I believe it is only when Eustace comes face to face with a reality that he cannot deny does he change his tune. That is the reality of when his greed turns him into a dragon. At that point, he cannot deny both his greed, which is the evil inside of him, nor can he deny that he is a dragon. It is then of course that Aslan is able to help Eustace.

Interestingly, seeing the talk of Eustace reading makes me think that Lewis in this work is telling us much about knowledge. Consider the gnomish creatures who kidnap Lucy saying “This one reads!” They want her to go and break an invisibility charm that has been put on them by the one that they call “The Oppressor.” Not remembering this part of the story, I was preparing for Lucy to find a powerful enemy, when in reality, she found an old scholarly man who was not really an oppressor, but was one seeking to help the creatures.

Why? They could not protect themselves and part of the reason was that they could not read. They had no real access to knowledge in society then. Those who are not aware of the great ideas will be at the mercy of those who are. We need to read non-fiction so others will not do our thinking for us. We need to read fiction so that others will not do our imagining for us. Of course, we can benefit from the knowledge and imagination of others, but we should hone these skills that exist in us as well.

The biblical references I find quite strong such as Aslan’s table and I was pleased that the movie put these in. Aslan’s table was a place that could not be approached in violence and so a charm was put on the lords who sought to use it as such. We could also keep in mind that at Aslan’s table, there is truly only one Lord.

We should also appreciate the numerous references to temptation. We can all seek to be someone else, such as Lucy sought to be Susan, but we should all seek to be ourselves. That does not mean we cannot admire others or seek to emulate them in some ways. We should however not seek to be them. It does us no good to be jealous of another, something I still have to learn in many ways.

For Edmund, it was power. He wanted to be free. He didn’t want to be seen as “younger king under Peter.” He wanted to be king in his own right. It is however in realizing who he is in himself that enables him to be able to defeat the serpent. He does not need the power of the White Queen. He does not need to defeat the serpent to prove he is a man. His defeat of the serpent demonstrates that he is a man. He is a man in his own right, though not Peter.

Reepacheep was of course a favorite character again. It was a truly moving scene at the end to see him cross over the water and enter into Aslan’s country, a country which is made for hearts of those like him. Why are we sad at that? It is not for Reepacheep. He didn’t even experience the pain of death. He simply passed over. It is because of our loss. We have an attachment to this character and until we pass over, we will not see him again.

Special thanks to the producers also for including Lucy asking if they’d ever see Aslan in their world. Aslan tells them that in their world, he is known by another name. The purpose of bringing them to the world of Narnia and knowing him there was so that they would know him better in their own world. My wife and in-laws and I were quite pleased to see that.

I also found that the 3-D effects of the movie were just spectacular as it looked like objects were really coming at me. Every now and then, I’d lower the glasses to see if things looked different and indeed they did. The movie was incredible overall and had me spellbound the whole time. I found it to be the best one yet.

I also do think it’s family-friendly. Don’t hesitate to bring the little ones to see this one. It’ll give great openings for more conversation.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I’m safely back from an enjoyable holiday with my in-laws and I do hope you had a Merry Christmas. I’ll be spending some time I’m sure reading some new books that I got and that’s not yet counting gifts from everyone else. Before we jump back into atheist sound bites, I’d like to do a couple of movie reviews. A week ago Monday, my wife and I went with some friends to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.” Be warned of spoilers now.

Now I’ll tell you upfront that I am not one of those who believes that Harry Potter endorses witchcraft as a viable worldview in the real world. I think it’s a tool used in an allegorical way. An excellent look at this can be found in John Granger’s work that can be found at and in his book “Looking for God in Harry Potter.” As it turns out, I have read all the books and seen all the movies and immensely enjoy them. I think Rowling is an excellent writer and storyteller.

I will however agree with a caution often given on this by Harry Haters as it were and I agree with them on it. Deathly Hallows is not a children’s movie. The movie has villains committing murder as well as a dark nightmare of Ron’s involving Harry and Hermoine. Parents should use discretion in bringing their children. In fact, while I am a supporter of Harry, I have no problem with parents who say they want to read the books or watch the movies before their children do. I think that’s an excellent idea.

Readers of Deathly Hallows quickly found out that the book would not be easily contained in one movie and I think this one wisely has been cut into two parts. While it has been awhile since I read the last book, the story does follow along with it well, including the departing of Ron from the party and the finding of the sword of Gryffindor. Others are more hinted at that readers should know about like the romance of Harry and Ginny, and that of Ron and Hermoine.

The story does move along at a brisk pace with plenty of action, though limited from the way it was in the books. For instance, the scene of carrying Harry away from where he had been living is played out in a brief form focusing only on Harry and his encounter with Voldemort. Of course, it does sadly have the death of Hedwig in there.

What was of great interest to me especially was the scene of the graveyard in Godric’s Hallow. This is where James and Lily Potter are buried and readers of the book know that the tombstone says “The last that shall be destroyed is death.” The graveyard was right outside a church on Christmas Eve with parishioners gathered together in the building to sing.

This was not a surprise to some of us in the series that an overtly Christian reference came out. The question of if Harry would die or not was lingering over us for the series as Harry I do not believe is meant to be a parallel of Christ, but more an idea of everyman in the battle against death and the good in his life is to remind us of the power of Christ. That will be for part 2 of the movie however.

There are many who are worrying about these movies. I would tell them that while I do view witchcraft and the new age movement as a threat, I do not consider Harry Potter a threat nor do I consider many other things a threat along the same lines. We would be better off fighting ideological opponents such as materialism or hedonistic sexuality than focusing on Harry Potter. It’s a shame more Christians seem to know what they think is wrong with the book than they do with books like “The Shack” or “The Da Vinci Code.” The sad reality also is most Christians have not even read the books but have simply gone by what they have heard.

Of course, if you’re one who does believe that this is something you should not do, by all means do not do so. I am not here to force you. The problem is that many of us usually come up with these rules for ourselves that we automatically make binding rules on everyone else. I am a devout Christian and I have no problem with the series. In fact, I find many lessons in it.

Readers of the book also will not be surprised where part 1 ends. I definitely look forward to part 2 and the Battle of Hogwart’s in it.

The Shoddy Research of the New Atheists

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve been looking at atheist sound bites lately and I’d like to post on something tonight that’s similar to that, but is not in itself a sound bite. I got the inspiration for this in posting earlier today on in reply to a skeptic there who was pointing out the importance of fairly representing the other side. Do they? I wish to look at Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins as two such examples:

Let’s start with Dawkins in “The God Delusion.” Here in the bibliography of books cited and recommended, I only count three that I could in any way consider evangelical authors.

Michael Behe of “Darwin’s Black Box.”

Alister McGrath: “Dawkins’s God”

John Polkinghorne: “Science and Christian Belief.”

How fares the index?

“Answers in Genesis” is cited once.

Thomas Aquinas is mentioned a few times, but I can assure you as one who studies at a Thomistic school that Dawkins badly misrepresents the Thomistic arguments. He frankly does not have a clue.

Augustine on two pages

Michael Behe gets mention on four pages in a row.

G.K. Chesterton on one page

Francis Collins on one pages

James Dobson on one page (And I would not count him an apologist)

Dostoyevsky on one page, though I would not necessarily name him an apologist either.

Dons Scotus on one page and I know that page and it never references his arguments.

Philip Johnson on three pages.

C.S. Lewis on two pages.

Alister McGrath on one page. (McGrath is also probably Dawkins’s main critic, seeing as they are both at Oxford and McGrath is an atheist turned Christian trained in the sciences and a theistic evolutionist. Dawkins’s only citation of him is incredibly weak as he doesn’t really acknolwedge McGrath’s arguments.)

Henry Morris on one page.

Blaise Pascal on four pages.

John Polkinghorne on three pages.

Karl Rahner on one page.

Richard Swinburne on seven pages.

Kurt Wise on three pages.

Note that these are only citations. It does not mean actual interaction with the argumentation. I have been doing some more checking lately and looking at what Dawkins says about Thomistic arguments. For instance, he says the problem with omnipotence and omniscience together is that God cannot change His mind. I really don’t see this as a weakness but as a strength. The point is that Dawkins cites a poem by Karen Owens that shows how apparently silly it is that God cannot change his mind.

Who is Karen Owens? No citation is given. No description whatsoever. A google search of Karen Owens along with Richard Dawkins points to a trustee in Richard Dawkins’s own foundation. What are their educational credentials? How old are they even? Don’t have a clue. Dawkins presents this as an authority, a move I consider dishonest.

If Dawkins is bad however, Sam Harris in “The End of Faith” is worse.

Harris’s bibliography?

Augustine’s “The City of God” and “Confessions”

Rene Descartes “Discourse and Method and Meditations.”

Paul Johnson “A History of Christianity.” (I believe I have heard he’s a Christian. I’m not sure.)

Bruce Metzger: “The Oxford Companion to the Bible.”

Blaise Pascal “Pensees.”

Richard Swinburne “The Existence of God.”

Might sound more impressive, but consider the index. I have each reference listed with how many pages they appear on.

Augustine, 8.

Rene Descartes, 5.

Soren Kierkegaard, 3.

Blaise Pascal, 5

The new atheists in these works are not interacting with Craig, Geisler, Habermas, Licona, Plantinga, Moreland, Kreeft, Zacharias, and numerous others. The argument is entirely one-sided.

As a student who still writes research papers, one of the first things I do when I have decided on my topic is to go and order books from the other side. I want my opponents to have their views presented in the best possible light so I can show all the more how weak that they are.

These books do not do that at all. Richard Dawkins does not interact with Alister McGrath, for instance, who is one of his strongest critics being an Oxfordian trained in the sciences. I find it hard to believe that Harris is a graduate from Stanford in philosophy when I read a book with such poor argumentation as the one that he wrote.

If I was a professor and a student turned in assignments to me written like these books are, that student would fail that assignment. The poor research and weak argumentation should have these authors being seen as shameful disgraces. Instead, there are actually pastors who apparently wrote to Harris saying they deconverted upon reading his book, enough to convince me that they should not have been pastors to begin with.

When I encounter an atheist who cites these books as authoritative, I already know that this is someone who does not take research seriously. The sad reality is that their works get absorbed by the atheists on the net and lower the quality of the debates. It’s really hard to have a serious discussion with someone when they think the question of “Who made God?” is an ultimate stumper that Christians have never answered.

If an atheist wishes to be an atheist, very well. Take my advice in this however. Distance yourself from the new atheism. Read instead the old atheists like Mackie, Martin, Nielsen, and Flew. (Granted, Flew did deconvert, but he was a giant in atheism in his time) These writers took theism seriously. They were not driven by an emotional hatred of theism and were willing to acknowledge some good Christianity had done for the world.

As for my Christian brethren, while our opposition is lazy, it is not necessary for us to lower our level of study. We will continue to study and see this as an opportunity. If atheism sees this as its pinnacle, then our serious studies in all fields if we do so can allow us to, as it were, corner the market. We need to have people of high education in every body of knowledge out there.

I also wish to let readers know that tomorrow I could be heading out to spend Christmas with in-laws. It all depends on what my doctor says due to my recent surgery. If you do not see a new blog in awhile, do not worry.

Celebrate Reason

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! With the Christmas season coming up, I would like to write about a sign that has been showing up in some places for our look at atheist sound bites tonight. This one has shepherds and a star like a typical nativity scene. However, it also has “You know it’s a myth. This year, celebrate reason.”

Never mind that the whole idea of the Christ myth if that is what is being propagated is entirely against reason. My contention with it at this point is the idea that if you are reasonable, then you are ipso facto an atheist. After all, it is only the unreasonable people who believe in a deity of some sort. We live in a scientific age and therefore we do not believe in any of this nonsense.

There is no necessary connection between the two. Someone can be an atheist and be intelligent. Someone can be a theist and be intelligent. Someone can be an atheist and be an idiot. Someone can be a theist and be an idiot. The problem is that the atheist in this case is immediately writing off the theist as irrational. (This is the same idea we see in the writings of the new atheists, such as Victor Stenger writing a book about the new atheism taking a stand for science and reason, and note how closely those two are tied together.)

To start out saying that one side automatically uses reason and the other doesn’t is to poison the well. However, we have all been touched by this bias to some extent. Picture a pastor being on a TV talk show. How is he automatically going to be viewed in the eyes of the public? This is someone who doesn’t have a clue. All he has are his religious platitudes and he can have no study in anything outside his faith. I have no doubt this is how people were viewing the Jesuit automatically who appeared on Larry King’s program with Stephen Hawking as a guest discussing his newest book.

Of course, we Christians have unfortunately done much to help this stereotype. The new atheist teach a false view of faith. We need to make sure we’re not teaching the same view. Are we really holding to our intellectual grounds? Are we meeting the atheists on their turf or not? We should be able to. If we believe Christianity is a religion of truth and describes reality as it is, then we can be sure that we can take reality on on any level.

Now that doesn’t mean don’t do your proper study. I think a Christian who wants to take his intellectual ground in the sciences should study science. Don’t enter thinking you will win because you are a Christian. Being a Christian is no excuse for laziness in studies. God is under no obligation to come through for you where you are deficient due to your own laziness.

Should we celebrate reason? Of course. I intend do. My reason tells me Christianity is true and thus, this year, I will celebrate reason. Let’s make sure we do the same the rest of the year and show those who contradict that we really are reasonable people.

Sound Bites And Miracles

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve been looking lately at atheist sound bites. These are ideas that are thrown around the water cooler, or in our case, the blogosphere, meant to stop Christians in their tracks. So far, not one has done so. What we are looking at tonight, is not one sound bite but a kind of genre of sound bites.

I was on Keith Parsons’s blog recently when I heard an atheist argue against the resurrection by saying how we know that dead people stay dead. When I see a statement like this, it is hard to believe that someone can seriously put that position forward as if it was an intellectual argument. Here’s why.

Let’s suppose for sake of argument that we lived in a universe where 10% of people who died came back to life again shortly afterwards and we did not know why. Jesus’s resurrection being accurately predicted could be something as he has a one-in-ten chance of getting it wrong, but it would not be something that would be considered miraculously.

Suppose also we lived in a universe where 100% of people who died came to life again and lived one year later. Again, a resurrection would not be miraculous. Instead, it would be the common state of affairs.

Now let’s suppose we live in our universe where someone dies and they stay dead. We know they stay dead so much so that we bury them. I realize this might be hard for some atheists to believe, but people long ago also buried their dead because they believed that they were staying dead.

It is in this universe that a resurrection can be seen as a miracle, that is, an act of God of bringing about an event that would not happen naturally, at least for a first-class miracle. In other words, the very reason for believing that the resurrection is a miracle is for the simple fact that dead people do stay dead.

The same can be said with events like the virgin birth or walking on the water. If someone says “We know these kinds of things don’t happen”, then you can just as easily say that the ancients knew that they didn’t happen as well. That’s why they were regarded as miracles.

For the person who says “Dead people stay dead” as if they were presenting some new kind of information to the debate, I have a few questions. Which scientist was it that discovered this? How did he prove it? Who were his colleagues that disagreed with his thesis that he had to convince? When did this happen?

People do not believe dead people stay dead because they are scientific. They believe that because that is what the evidence leads to and that is why all cultures have some practice of dealing with those corpses. The same applies with other miracles. More understanding of the laws of nature will not prove that miracles can’t happen. Quite the contrary, they should make those miracles all the more fantastic to you in that you should realize more how remarkable it is they are being intervened. However, your study of them will not be able to prove that no intervention can take place.

The argument is simply an argument to dismiss the ancients. Those dumb people back then might have believed that someone could come back from the dead, but we know better! No. Those people did know better. In fact, if anything, I would say the dumb people today are not the ones who know that dead people don’t naturally come back, but those who think ancient people were too dumb to know that.

Are The Reasons The Same?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! For those concerned, I am recovering nicely today and I appreciate a donation made by a kind reader in light of all that has happened. Here at Deeper Waters, I greatly appreciate prayers, kind comments, and donations. Lately, I’ve been guiding you through a look at atheist sound bites. After reading last night’s, a reader suggested I tackle how atheists say “When you understand why I dismiss all other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

This to me again reveals a lack of real thinking. What is going on when an atheist makes this remark is that he is a priori dismissing any supernatural being whatsoever and so when the topic of the God of Christianity comes up he just looks and says “Oh. It’s supernatural? Okay. I disregard it.”

Now there’s a great line between someone who says “I’m really not sure with the evidence I have before me right now” and someone who says “There is absolutely no reason to believe in any deity whatsoever.” When I write about these remarks, I am not condemning sincere intellectual doubt. In fact, I admire that. I have a number of atheists I am friends with and one reason I respect them is that they don’t use nonsense sayings like the ones I am critiquing. Now it could be that there are emotional reasons for not accepting faith still, but there is still an openness.

As my reader said last night, it’s just a fancy way of saying that they believe without evidence. Once again, there is a great gulf that needs to be crossed. Let us suppose that you are an atheist and you do not believe there is sufficient evidence for you to believe in God. Okay. That does not mean that I do not think the evidence is sufficient. You can hear my reasons and say “Those are weak reasons.” For the sake of argument, let’s suppose they are. There is a great difference between weak reasons and no reasons.

When someone is quick to describe religion as a delusion or brainwashing of indoctrination, I really have to wonder about their mindset. I do not deny that in some systems, like the cults, there is brainwashing and indoctrination going on. However, I think that can happen just as easily in atheist regimes. Those are wrong things to do whatever the belief system. I have no problem with atheist parents raising up children to be atheists however, just as they should have no problem realizing my Christianity is extremely important to me and I’m going to raise up my children to be Christians. However, I also want them to know they can openly question their faith at any time.

I can understand also someone being suspicious of many claims of deities, but when it comes to a religious claim, I offer the same advice in each case. Take each one on a case-by-case basis. This is exactly what I do with miracles. When someone says “What about different miracle claims in other religions?” Well first off, if there is any miracle, atheism is in a heap of trouble. Second, examine the miracle claim and see if it holds up to scrutiny. If it does, then you look and see if there’s any propositional content to be derived from it. I am open to miracles in other religions entirely. They could be a case of the true God shining light in a place of darkness or could be a result of darker demonic powers. I don’t rule them out a priori.

The problem comes down again to the mantra that is given. “There’s no evidence!” Atheists have started saying this so much that it looks more like they’re trying to convince themselves instead of me. Do atheists really think every Christian is so dumb that he just blindly believes something enough to commit his whole life to it and be ready to die for it?

Many atheists might also think there are no good arguments for God’s existence. I do not believe in giving a lot of new evidence because to me, the old arguments have never been answered satisfactorily. Now I do not believe they all work. If you want to say the ontological argument doesn’t work, be my guest. I do think something like the existence/essence argument of Aquinas works great. It’s easy for an atheist to say something like “X philosopher refuted that.” Okay. Don’t just say it. Show me. Point me to the writings. Tell me how you think the argument works out and let’s discuss it.

The line as it is today though is entirely ignorant. I believe in the God of Christianity because of the evidence. The atheist can either take my argument seriously, or he can give this cop-out line that is usually given.

That this is becoming a sound bite amongst atheists shows that they’d rather just give cop-outs instead of intellectually engage opposition.

We Just Believe In One Less God

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I ask for your continued prayers and support. I was walking out of our apartment this morning for a counseling session when I slipped on our icy walkway and crashed to the ground. I ended up going to the doctor instead. My wife and I just have one mishap after another so we appreciate your prayers and support in this time. Being unemployed doesn’t make it easier.

We’ve been talking lately about atheist sound bites. Tonight, I’d like to look at the one often heard when an atheist will say “You’re an atheist with regards to Zeus, Thor, and Isis. We just go one god farther!”

At this point, an audience is left in awe as if a major point has been scored against the Christian. Hey! That is true! You are an atheist with regards to all those other gods! It seems like the atheist is being the consistent one! This has been repeated so mindlessly by atheists that you’d almost be tempted to think that there was some substance to the argument.

Why should this be seen as a great point. Yes. I don’t believe in those other gods. The reasons I don’t however are quite different from the reasons an atheist doesn’t. I don’t believe in those other gods not because I disbelieve in deities altogether. I disbelieve in those other gods because of the reason the atheist keeps thinking is a good reason to deny something, and I agree, lack of evidence.

When someone presents me with good evidence to believe in the existence of Zeus, Thor, Isis, or any other deity, I will be glad to listen to that evidence, but until such evidence is forthcoming, I will believe in the God who I believe has left sufficient evidence of his existence, and that is the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Of course, you could say that you do not believe the evidence is sufficient, and you have all right to say that. That does not mean that I do not believe it is sufficient. You could be tempted to say my reasons for belief are entirely emotional, but if I point to rational argumentation instead of an emotional response, then upon what grounds will you do that other than an a priori conclusion that all theistic belief must be for emotional reasons?

The reason I believe in the one God that I do is not for special pleading, but because I find the evidence to be convincing. To just say “I disbelieve in one less god” is not satisfactory. The question is “Why do you believe in one less god?” That is when we finally get to the reasons rather than a vapid saying devoid of any content.

As I have said before however, statements like these reveal to me the real anti-intellectualism of the new atheism. It is a belief system that thinks it alone has reason and that theism can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. The problem is so many Christians are unprepared that they can easily be blown away by that wave.

Who Made God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve lately been going through some atheist sound bites which are simple little aphorisms that you will hear in the lines of “water cooler conversation.” Tonight, we’re going to look at the question of “Who Made God?” as it is a common objection raised up when the Kalam Cosmological Argument is presented.

The example of this par excellence would be Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, for instance, in reviewing the Five Ways of Aquinas tells us that Aquinas makes the unwarranted assumption that God is exempt from the infinite regress. (Page 101 of The God Delusion) It is remarks like this that lead apologists like David Robertson to say that Dawkins has never read Aquinas.

I have to agree with Robertson. Why? The Five Ways come just before Aquinas’s writings on the nature of God where he expounds on that God and why He is immune to the regress. Aquinas knows the buck has to stop somewhere and he stops it at a being he calls God. This is the God of reason however and not necessarily the God of Scripture. I am not asserting there is a difference between the two, but only stating that reason can take someone so far.

Aquinas then reasons further on the nature of that God using Scripture and philosophy. It is in that process that he gives an explanation for why God is exempt. Now Dawkins might not like the explanation, but to say he does not give one is nonsense and it reveals that Dawkins has not done his homework. In fact, he stated in the God Delusion that he was not reading theologians unless they were seriously open to the possibility of God’s non-existence. What a great strategy! I shall make it a point to only read evolutionists who are seriously open to evolution being false and only read atheists who are seriously open to atheism being false.

Dawkins has followed this with what he calls the Ultimate Boeing 747 argument, and it is a wonder that such an argument can come from someone at Oxford. One can understand a small child trying to stump a theologian by asking that question. One cannot understand a serious philosopher doing such. (Sadly, being a denizen of web forums, I have seen that argument come up quite often as if it was a stumper, one even claiming Hume used it to totally destroy Aquinas. Aquinas would have just laughed at it)

Dawkins says that if we picture the universe as designed because it is complex, then it must have come from a designer. However, if this complex universe comes from a designer, then how much more complex must the designer be? He himself must need a designer above him in order to exist.

It would really do many atheists good to distance themselves as far away from Dawkins as possible with arguments like this.

To begin with, it seems that Dawkins goes against his evolutionary principles and this will be the real irony of it all. Why could I not say “But professor Dawkins. Don’t you tell us that simplicity gives rise to complexity? Why that is all that has happened. Why do you assume that the cause must be complex? Perhaps it could be the simplest cause of all?”

The ultimate irony I speak of is that that is exactly the case.

“WHAT?! Surely you’re not going to say God is a simple being.”

Actually, I already have. I’ve blogged about that in my look at the Summa of Thomas Aquinas on the doctrine of God. What I mean by simple is ontologically simple. I do not mean conceptually simple. No one for a minute think that I am saying that God is an easy being to understand. He is incredibly difficult to understand.

What I am saying is that God is simple in that he does not have parts. Some readers might be tempted to think I mean material parts, which is what I also think Dawkins has in mind. Dawkins thinks like a materialist and can only picture God as being complex if He has all this knowledge and power. The reality is that while Dawkins wants to dismiss theology, he is actually doing theology. I have often in discussing apologetics with my wife told her about theology and philosophy and said “The question is not if you will do theology or philosophy. Everyone does them. The question is if you’ll do good philosophy and theology or bad philosophy and theology.” Dawkins is bad on both counts.

Dawkins should know that in Christian thought, God in his nature is immaterial. What parts does he think he can speak of then? Do such questions even occur to him? One cannot know because Dawkins simply does not interact with his opponents. Evolutionists prefer to not argue when all their opponents simply get their arguments only from YEC materials. Fair enough. (To those who are YEC, I do recommend reading all materials so you can have an idea of what your opponents believe and why. I have met a number of YECs who unfortunately think being YEC means denying inerrancy and a literal Adam and Eve.) However, Dawkins seems to get all his information secondhand, as if he was reading it off of Wikipedia, which would make a lot of sense.

What do I mean however by God being simple then? I dare not simply say Dawkins has it wrong without entering my own information in. I mean that God is not made up of parts. There is no combination in him. For instance, I as a human being possess a human nature that is tied to this material that I dwell in. Both of these also have existence. They do not existence necessarily but have a derived existence.

An angel is different. Now to my atheist friends, even if you do not believe in angels, Aquinas does. His argument does not depend on their existence, but it shows his way of thinking and it does not refute his point to say “There are no angels.” An angel is an immaterial being, but it does not have necessary existence. It too has derived existence. Angels are not separated by matter seeing as they’re immaterial, so they differ by essence. Each angel is his own essence. Therefore, an angel has an essence with no matter. It is purely essence plus the existence it receives. In this, it’s essence is simple as it has no parts, but it is not absolutely simple in that it has essence plus existence.

However, God has his essence AS his existence. What it means to be is God. God is being without limitations. Of course, Aquinas works this out further, but it means there is no combination in God. It also means His existence is not caused as what can cause existence? Something outside of existence? Then this non-existing thing is acting to cause existence, which is absurd. Is it another existing thing? There cannot be two such beings for there is nothing they would differ by and if two things differ by nothing, they are the same.

Anyone who has studied Aquinas briefly would know that Dawkins fumbled entirely on this one, and the shame is that these are the first arguments Dawkins attempts to refute. Even if one is an atheist, one should accept that Aquinas was a brilliant mind and that he reasoned out his arguments well. That does not mean they’re right, but that does mean one should take them seriously and not write them off hastily.

If any atheist uses this kind of argument, you can rest assured you are talking to a neophyte in the area of theology who does not understand the concepts he argues against. It is the shoddy research of the new atheists in this manner that further to me realize the bankruptcy of their position. It is simply outrage against a belief system they have not taken the time to understand. Sadly, this comes from the people who are supposedly the beacons of reason.