Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I’d like us to start taking a look at some atheist soundbites that are often thrown around the blogosphere. Some of these can be found in the books of the new atheists as well, which isn’t surprising, though it’s something I wonder of who borrowed from whom.
Anyway, one that I have seen frequently is that for several atheists, they claim that reading the Bible is what made them atheists.
I find such a claim as highly exaggerated and would reveal poor thinking on the part of one who came to such a conclusion. To begin with, there are some atheists who would say that reading the Bible made them Christians. In fact, I would in a way disagree with that statement as well.
The Bible does not have some magic power in itself to make someone become something. If it did, everyone would lead a more holy life by reading the text. The knowledge that the devil and the demons have of the text would enable them to be pure and holy angels. (Of course, I don’t believe fallen angels can repent)
What matters is how the person approaches the text and what their will is. We all know that if we want to find fault with something we usually can. Of course, if that something has no fault, such as God, then we are not seeing Him as He is, but as we want to picture Him.
Picture instead someone coming to the Bible not really knowing about the book. They don’t know that it claims to be the Word of God. Naturally, they will see this as they go along in the text. However, they just pick it up and read and start at the beginning seeing the existence of a God that created the world.
Will they find things that puzzle them? Yes. Will they find things they like? Yes. Will they find things they don’t like? Yes. The question is, how will they respond? Will they see if the things they like are really as they see them and rejoice in them? Will they study the things that puzzle them? When they find things they don’t like, will they study that as well and see if first off that might be something in them wrong that indicates dislike, or if maybe it isn’t what they thought it was after study?
Let’s suppose we focus on the parts of the Bible that people don’t like often, such as the wars in the Old Testament and the doctrine of Hell in the New Testament. Let’s suppose that someone decided that there was no justification for these. I think that would be incorrect, but let’s take it for the sake of argument.
How could you wind up at the doctrine that there is no God from that alone? You haven’t tackled natural theology or other religions or philosophy of any kind. You might have in your minds a disproof of the God of Christianity, but does it follow that you have disproven theism? After all, Christianity could be false and theism still true.
Could it in fact be the presuppositions some come to the text with? They don’t like a God who judges sin. (All the while asking why God doesn’t do anything about evil in the world. When he does nothing, they complain. When he acts, they also complain.) Could it be a belief in a God who does not do miracles? Could it be that you don’t think God should judge you or someone you know?
If that’s the case, it’s not reading the Bible that does it. It’s the ideology one has and uses the reading of the Bible to justify that ideology. Rather than spending time arguing presuppositions, it is just easier to come to the Bible and not let it shape your worldview, but let your worldview shape it. (I don’t think we should do that with any book for that matter. When we read a work, we should take what we can from the author’s worldview to better understand it. We might find a deficiency in our own to improve, or we might even agree with his at the end.)
Frankly, it’s the presuppositions that I think matter. Even if you could prove that there is justification for Hell and the wars in the Old Testament, it does not follow that God exists or Christianity is true. Deal with ideas like an anti-supernatural bias and the standard of good and evil first. Then you are prepared to approach the Bible and be ready to give it the benefit of the doubt. That doesn’t mean believing blindly. It means letting the text speak for itself and have it be innocent until proven guilty.
Watch for this one on the blogosphere, and don’t fall for it.