You Know Not When

When will your time come? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are warnings in the New Testament that you know not at what time your Lord will come. That is true. On the other hand, so is the reverse. You know not at what time you will come to the Lord.

Yesterday after driving home from the grocery store after church, I get the news that Alex Trebek has died. I am a gameshow junkie and I grew up watching Jeopardy. I was quite saddened to hear the news. I had last heard his fight against cancer was going well, but I guess not that well. It was a surprise, but it was not totally unexpected. When you have cancer at that level, you can prepare for it.

Then last night I’m browsing through Facebook to see what people are talking about and I see someone talk about the death of Ben Arbour. Ben was a friend of mine on Facebook, but sadly, I never got to know him well. Now I won’t get to this side of eternity.

So what did he die from? Did he have cancer? Did he have COVID? What was it?

None of those. He and his wife were hit by a drag racer. Their car burst into flames and the Arbours and other driver were killed.

The last post Ben Arbour had made on his Facebook page was something about how he was proud of his dad. For him, he probably anticipated life would go on as normal. It wouldn’t. They left behind four children who are aged from 10 to 16.

In this story, everyone thought they would be going about their lives. The drag racer though the same thing. At one moment, he’s in an illegal race just trying to go faster than another driver. In the next moment, his ultimate race is over and now there’s no going back. We can hope he was prepared for eternity.

Ben Arbour was also in ministry. That’s no exception to the rule. If you’re doing ministry, you don’t get a free pass for God to protect you from suffering in your life or even an untimely death. Also, whoever you are, you are not needed by God. You are wanted and desired, but God can bring about His plans without you. God is not up in Heaven wondering how things are going to turn out now that the Arbours are gone. That is not to insult them at all. The same could be said if the same event happened to me. It is to humble us. To get to be used by God is a privilege.

We can imagine looking back and wishing we had done things differently. Did we need to spend all that time on Facebook? Did we really have to watch that game on TV? Did we really have to get to that level in that video game? I’m not saying these activities are wrong, but they need to be put in their proper perspective. We should enjoy our lives, but the purpose of our life is not just amusement.

But here are some things likely that won’t be regretted.

The wife won’t say, “I really regret spending that time making love to my husband. I wish I had spent that time better.”

The parent won’t say, “I really regret going to my child’s baseball game. I could have spent that time better.”

The adult child won’t say, “I really regret making those phone calls to my Mom just to talk with her. I could have spent that time better.”

We won’t regret time spent in prayer or money given to a good charity. We won’t regret doing pure acts of love just for doing them. We won’t regret being thankful for what is happening in our day. We will wish we had forgiven more, listened more, and loved more.

None of us is entitled. None of us is owed anything. The only exception is if God explicitly promised you something, much like He promised Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Christ. Since that is true, all that God gives you is a gift. Be thankful. Love what you have and celebrate that.

You know not what hour your Lord will come. Neither do you know at what hour you will come to the Lord. Be ready anyway.

Prayers to the family of Alex Trebek, the Arbours, and yes, the drag racer who died as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Following Jesus

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If I have the credit on Amazon, whenever I find a book in Kindle format for sale by N.T. Wright, I pick it up immediately. N.T. Wright is a brilliant writer who is historical and yet challenging too. He doesn’t just tell you what’s going on in the text, but he challenges you to live a better life for Jesus.

In this book, Wright has a collection of sermons. One important piece of information right at the start is the church appreciated Wright because he treated them like they could think. He gave sermons that had real content to them. They weren’t little kids he was spoon feeding. There is deep stuff in these sermons. Fortunately, I also think it’s simple enough that anyone could grasp some points.

So the first few sermons look at some books of the Bible to see what they say about Jesus. Hebrews and Colossians and Revelation are welcome additions. All three of these are very deep books and they do not get the study they deserve on what they say about the person of Jesus. Hebrews we might go to a few select chapters and that’s it. Colossians we focus on the hymn starting at 1:15. Revelation, we mainly go to just for end times material. Honestly, one of the most amazing studies I ever did was to go through the book of Revelation and just see what it says about Jesus.

The rest of the pictures of Jesus come from the Gospels, except Luke, and hear Wright is just as insightful. These sermons are not just about providing information. They are also about providing tools of discipleship.

We get six sermons after that. They cover topics of the God who raises the dead, the mind renewed, temptation, Hell, Heaven and power, and the new life and the new world. These also are joys to read. For my reading purposes, I simply read a chapter each night before bed. They’re short enough to do that.

I don’t regret time reading Wright. He’s always a delight. I don’t normally agree with him on political issues, but when it comes to theological and historical issues, I am impressed with everything he says. The church needs more scholars like Wright with the mind of a historian and the heart of a pastor.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Sex, Wives, and Warriors

What do I think of Philip Esler’s book published by Cascade books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Men tend to share a lot of common loves. Most men love sex, for example. For those of us who married, many of us love our wives too. Many of us also have a fighting spirit and love warriors, so naturally, a book called Sex, Wives, and Warriors is attractive.

I thought this would be a book about the conquest in the Old Testament since it was about Old Testament narrative. Nope. Still, I’m not complaining. The book is about a number of other passages in the text and giving them a good and hard look.

Esler also writes from a perspective for every person. If you’re a skeptic of the Bible’s historicity, it doesn’t matter. His goal is not to tell you what happened, but how an ancient Israelite would have seen the text at the time. If you’re a believer in the text, this will give you some insight still. If you’re not a believer, you’ll still get something out of it by seeing how the texts fit into the society.

Genesis 38 with Judah and Tamar is covered. This is a passage of Scripture I always found quite strange to have suddenly pop up in the text with no seeming relation to the narrative. After all, this portion of the text focuses mainly on Joseph and none of the other children of Jacob get a look like this, so why Judah?

I still am unsure of that, but this passage is seen in a whole new light. Esler brings out why it is that Judah wouldn’t give his third son to Tamar and why it is she seduced Judah instead. Many of us today are unaware of the social structure of society and are too quick to read our modern culture into the text.

So it goes with other stories in the Old Testament. How should we see the story of Hannah and her son Samuel? Why is Hannah treated the way she is by her husband and her rival wife? Why even have a rival wife?

What about David and Goliath? Is this just a story about overcoming your own Goliaths in your life? (Spoiler alert: No.) What does it mean of David that he goes and fights? What was it that made this fight so spectacular?

What about King Saul’s being crowned king? Why would he go and cut up an ox and run it through the streets of town? Why would there be hesitation on the part of the people if God chose Saul?

What about David and Bathsheba? This is one of those stories that if a film was made about it even if just for TV, you would have to send the kids to bed early that night. What all else is going on behind the scenes that we might not realize?

One outworking of this is the story of Amnon and Tamar. What is going on in David’s family to cause this to happen? What kind of relationship did David have with his kids? How did this affect the kingdom afterward?

We also step out of the Old Testament for a bit, at least if you’re a Protestant, to cover the story of Judith. If you haven’t read this as a Protestant, you should. This is one also that if you don’t believe it to be historical, you can still see how an ancient Israelite would have seen it.

I recommend this one for believers and non-believers alike. Non-believers will not think they are being preached to and won’t get an apologetics approach. This is all about interpretation and not historicity. Christians and others who hold to historicity, such as a number of Jews, will gain further insights into the text.

So if you love stories in the Bible about sex or about wives or about warriors, give it a try.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thank you, Father Barnabas

What are some things to appreciate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So on Monday, I wrote an appreciation to my pastor for Pastor Appreciation Month, which was last month. I had done something on Facebook, but I wanted something more public. I thought about that later on and realized I should go to someone also who could be called the other pastor in my life.

Not sure if he’d agree 100% with that title, but many of you know that my wife is a catechumen in the Eastern Orthodox Church. At first, I had my concerns and doubts, but I grew to appreciate the change that I saw in her. We also both got to know the priest down there, Father Barnabas, very well.

Sometimes, we would go in for a counseling session together and the way he has talked to her has often impressed me. It’s a calm approach, but it is often firm and tough as well. There’s no beating around the bush. He used to be a police officer so he knows something about how to talk to some people.

Yet what is amazing is the time investment. There’s so much of it. At the end of a session, he’d often ask if he could get a hug and then say something like, “I like you. You’re a good kid.”

Other people have noticed that liking too. When my wife and I went to an event a few months ago in downtown Atlanta at a major cathedral there, we sat with the priest of another church and other people we didn’t know. It wasn’t intentional. We just sat somewhere and they joined us.

Before too long, Father B (As I often call Barnabas) saw us and came over and put his hands on our shoulders and said “You can’t have these two. They’re mine.” I thought it was just a fun little comment, but afterward, the other priest told me, “He’s really protective of you two. I could tell when he said that that he really meant it. He’s really looking out for you.”

Bible studies at the church were often fun too. The only one we’ve been to is Revelation and there were many times when he’d ask a question and say “Does anybody know?” and I’d raise my hand immediately and he’d say “Not you.” Allie was getting concerned about it, but he assured her it was a game we played together. It was fun.

Yet the interesting thing is we both know I am a devout Protestant, but I think he’s just as much there for me as he is for Allie. He’s helped me learn to think about different issues on how I relate to Allie better. He’s been there for me when Allie has been in a suicidal state.

Why is this? Something he tells Allie all the time. “Father’s not a title.” He made a donation to her fundraising effort and said to her mother on the phone, “It’s for a selfish reason. I want that child to get well.”

If that’s selfish, we need more selfish people out there.

Something else I like is that my Protestantism has not been used against me. He’s told me why he left that world. I respect it. When I have talked one-on-one, I have never been told something like, “Well if you would just abandon your Protestantism and accept Orthodoxy, your problems would be solved.” I think that’s a cheap move anyway, but it’s never been an issue.

Many times when I’m at the church with Allie, people know that I am a Protestant, and they’re okay with it. It’s not an issue. I can look around and say “These are my people also.” I would hope that if any of them ever came to my Protestant church, it would be the same way again.

Now do Father B and I have our disagreements on theology and history and things like that? Yep. Never been an issue though. He’s still supported me. When I went and debated Dan Barker, I found out later from him that he actually watched the whole debate online. I was really pleased with that. There has never been a hesitancy to share a prayer request from me either.

I think I have been fortunate to get some of the wisdom that I’ve seen. I’ve read a number of books on Orthodoxy and from an Orthodox perspective. I still disagree, but there is a good respect here. I also still maintain my strong stance when it comes to dialogue between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox, to strive to see all as my fellow Christians and go after any who question the salvation of the other.

So thank you Father Barnabas for what you have done with Allie. I hope it keeps up and I can definitely say from what I see, Father is not a title.

In Christ,
Nick Peters,
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Election Night Predictions

What’s going to happen? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. It’s 5:53 as I start to write this. This is the first chance I have got all day. Some people might think I’m waiting until late to do this so that could give me an unfair advantage, but I will say at this point, I am extremely confident.

Here are my predictions for election night and like many of you, I will be watching what I can tonight.

#1 God will still be in charge during and after the election.

I’m thinking the data really leads strongly this way. Whichever person we elect, they are not going to be able to overthrow the rule of God ultimately. God might allow them to do some foolish things, but He will never allow this person to overrule Him.

#2 Jesus Christ will still be king when all is said and done.

Again, I just think I see a lot of data that points to this. Jesus Christ has been reigning on His throne for some time now and it doesn’t look like He’s too nervous about what’s going to happen in the election.

#3 Morality will not change based on who gets elected.

I worked this one through as much as I could. The data held out. It looks like regardless of what the Supreme Court says, marriage will still be between a man and a woman and abortion will still be the killing of an innocent life.

#4. The world will not come to an end.

Okay. On this one it is possible I could have read the data wrong and Jesus Christ will declare this the last straw and choose to return, but I’m thinking the odds are not likely that that will happen now. I think there is still more we have to do in the work of the gospel. Therefore, I am saying that the world will go on.

#5. Tomorrow the sun will rise in the east, birds will fly in the air, etc.

Yes. I think the laws of physics are likely to remain the same regardless of what happens. Experts think past data really points to this. There was one standout from a guy who followed some dude named David Hume who said past experience is not any indicator of future experience, but I think most people didn’t listen to him.

#6. The gospel will still go on.

Again, I have noticed something remarkable that before America ever showed up on the scene, the gospel was here. I have an inkling that when America does fall one day, as all great empires do, the gospel will still be going strong.

#7. Christians will still have to do the Great Commission.

This is the last one I make a prediction on. I think regardless of what happens tonight, Christians will have to go forth into all the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus. It might be easier or harder for us, but it will still be our responsibility.

So those are my predictions for tonight. I know predictions can be very risky to make, but I’m quite confident of these.

In Christ,
Nick Peters,
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thank you, Pastor Gary

What does a pastor really do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen too many pastors who I really don’t think should be pastors. Too many of them get the idea that they’re “called to preach” and don’t bother going to a Bible college or a seminary at all. They think they are qualified by their desire alone. They do a lot more harm than good and a number of them wind up becoming apostates.

Many of them also don’t really talk about major issues of the day and in Scripture, but really all of Scripture is all about practical application. Jesus is more of a self-help guru than He is the king of the universe. The purpose of the Christian life is to get you to Heaven and repentance from sin isn’t mentioned.

Also, when someone like myself shows up, many pastors get intimidated. It’s not about making sure the flock is built up in knowledge and knows all that they can about their faith and how to defend it. Nope. This is someone gunning for the job of pastor.

Too many are like this.

Not all are.

Pastor Gary at my church now is one such who is not like that. I had posted something last month on my Facebook wall for Pastor Appreciation Month, but I thought a Facebook post would be easily lost over time. Put up a blog post and it’s easier. I have an easier time searching here than I do on Facebook.

From the time I started attending the church I am at now, I have not been treated with hostility at all. My pastor, pastor Gary, has been pleased to have me. Before too long, he was having me fill in for him and teach Sunday School classes. Very rarely does a pastor let that happen.

When I have needed something, Pastor Gary has reached out to any contacts he had to see what could be done. It could be a small thing, like finding an item I was going to get for Allie, or a big thing, like a good specialist for treatment in some area. My pastor has done the work.

When word came out that I was going to debate Dan Barker, the pastor shared it from the pulpit and said he would be praying for Dan in that playful sarcastic way. When I did my debate, many people from my church were there. They have always supported me.

Speaking of the pulpit, my pastor doesn’t give fluffy sermons. I have heard him talk about many of the issues of the day and worldview thinking from the pulpit. I don’t always agree with him, but I know he takes the issues seriously. When he teaches Sunday School, he has pamphlets he has written on the topics being discussed for us to go over. This guy has worked out his doctrine.

In September, myself and another member were given the chance to lead a Zoom class for pastors in South and Central America on Mormonism. One day, I taught the academic side and my friend backed me up. The next time, he taught the side of practical application and talking to Mormons and I backed him up. This was a great opportunity and my pastor didn’t mind giving it to me.

I have called him sometimes when I have been in distress and he has helped, one time even giving me money out of his own wallet to help with the finances I was struggling with. That was nice, but really the listening is the best part. He has been there for my wife and I when we need it and I am greatly appreciative of that.

I know my pastor is looking to move on to full-time overseas missions and we will miss him. Whoever takes his place definitely has big shoes to fill. My hope is that even if he will not be my pastor, he will always be a friend.

Thanks, Pastor Gary.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thank You, SES

Why can’t we be friends? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know years ago I was a student at Southern Evangelical Seminary. It had been a dream of mine to graduate from there one day. Then while there, I heard about a girl, specifically, Allie Licona, the daughter of Mike and Debbie Licona. That was her name then at least. Today, it’s Allie Peters.

Shortly after we got married, Mike published his big book on the resurrection of Jesus. Mike was also at the time a visiting professor at SES. However, not too long after that book came out, Norman Geisler accused Mike of denying inerrancy for his position on the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27.

At that point, I made the decision that I had to step in and I did. Geisler had been a mentor of mine, but this was a ridiculous charge I thought and it was going after family. I decided to step into the ring and take on Geisler, which I hadn’t done before. My ministry partner, J.P. Holding, also joined in.

That meant for me leaving behind SES as well, which was very hard. Academically, I think everyone would agree I was an excellent student. However, since I took on Geisler, I was sure I would not be allowed to graduate anyway.

The inerrancy wars went on for some time but fortunately, I haven’t heard anything from them in awhile. Not too long ago, Geisler passed away also. I was not sure how this would affect the wars, but I knew something would be different. I do know SES still does the apologetics conference, but I haven’t been since the whole thing started.

So what a shock when Gary Habermas sends Mike and Debbie and I an email with announcements from SES. Gary told us to look at the sixth item listed. What do I see?

“Many of you know that Dr. Mike Licona and Dr. Geisler had their rather public disagreements over the nature of the inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Licona has even debated our own Dr. Richard Howe about this important issue at our National Conference. Regardless of our differences, Dr. Licona is a dear brother in Christ whom we love. His lovely daughter is married to an SES alum, and they could really use our help to cover some very serious medical bills for some very serious and essential treatment. You can learn more about the need and how to give at the link below. Thank you.”

That link is also still up if you want to donate.

I messaged the person behind putting it up there since Mike told me who it was and I offered my thanks. I made a public post on Facebook and I want to make a more public one here. In our conversation, we both agreed that inerrancy is an important issue, something J.P. Holding and I both hold to, but that we should be willing to better discuss our disagreements.

I really hope that this will be the beginning of many conversations on how we can unite as Christians. I was pleased to see the above not only good words about Mike, but good words about me as an SES alum. Nothing was said about the disputes that we had. Not a thing. After all, if any event was worth putting aside our differences, something like this is.

As I was thinking about writing this, I thought about Peter and Paul in Galatians. Odds are, Peter wasn’t really too happy with Paul when Paul called him out to his face because he was sure Peter was in the wrong. Some scholars posit a major rift taking place between the two.

But if you read other epistles in the New Testament, like 2 Peter, it looks like things were worked out. Peter refers to Paul as a brother at that point. We may not know how they worked out the issue, and apparently that was a major issue, but they worked it out.

I am very grateful to SES for what I consider not just an act of charity, but a kind olive branch as well. This is the way that Christians are to interact with one another really. The inerrancy wars were not good for us, but hopefully the inerrancy peace that could come will be much better. Maybe in the end we still won’t agree, but we can still unite together and as Geisler once said in paraphrase, go after an anti-theist instead of a fellow Christian theist.

Thanks to SES for including us and getting the word out about Allie’s treatment.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Do You Want To Get Well?

Do you really want healing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we read John 5, we read the story about a man at the pool of Bethesda wanting to be healed by being put in the water. Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. The man says he wants to, but every time the water starts up, someone gets in before him. Jesus heals him at that point.

Now I know skeptical readers of my blog will think that event never happened, but that doesn’t matter right now. I want to focus on something else. That question Jesus asks can seem surprising. Do you want to get well? Of course, he wants to get well! Right?

Maybe not.

Sometimes, we talk about the problem of evil and personal suffering with sickness of some kind, be it mental or physical. Now most of us would say we want to get better if we have something, but do we really want to get better? The reality is that sometimes we do not want to get better. Some people base an identity around their sickness.

“Whoa, Nick. Hold on a second. I have an email from you and in your email you say you’re an Aspie. Aren’t you identifying with your condition?”

Yes. I am. I also would not take a cure if I were offered one because I think the condition has a lot of strengths to it that I don’t want to risk losing. However, I don’t speak about Aspergers saying “Woe is me!” Instead, I speak about it saying, “Yes. I have this condition, but I choose to overcome the deficiencies and live a successful life.”

Not all people do that.

Sometimes it has been said that happiness is a choice, but do we really want to be happy? If we do, we need to realize that means letting our guard down many times and not having control of our lives given to others who don’t deserve that control. Some people don’t really want that.

In some ways, when we do that, we are holding the universe hostage, or at least trying to. “I won’t be happy unless XYZ is going on in my life.” Make it whatever you want. It could be a great marriage, a great career, great kids, your sex life, the health of yourself or others, or any combination thereof.

Perhaps we should really ask what does it take to make us happy? If we are Christians, do we truly need anything besides Jesus Christ for our joy? Now when I say that, this isn’t to say that other aspects of life shouldn’t bring us joy or can’t. Many of the items mentioned above are great for bringing joy. However, picture any of them and ask “If you lost that and you still had Jesus, could you have joy?”

This isn’t to say you wouldn’t mourn what you lost. There is a place for sadness and mourning. We are told to weep and mourn with those who weep and mourn. We’re not told to just say “Cheer up and get over it.” There are real realities to mourn. Jesus Himself wept at the graveside of Lazarus, even knowing what He was going to do.

But if we say that we refuse happiness unless we have anything else in our lives, then we are putting ourselves in our own prison. If Jesus asked us “Do you want to be well?” our answer could very well be, “No.” It might seem like a simple question, but sometimes those are the best ones to start with. If you are not having joy in your life right now, well why not?

Whatever it is that you’re lacking in your mind, do you have to have it? I am not saying it wouldn’t be nice if you did, but is it essential for your joy? If it isn’t, then what is? If it is, then you are making your joy dependent on that and do you really want to do that?

This doesn’t mean also you try this path alone. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out a good therapist and good friends. Recovery from some matters is not easy. If it is physical health, you can still have joy. My friend, Ed Komoszewski, has a virus that has been rampaging his body for years and causes great pain, but talking to him you’d never know it. He’s got a lot of joy. It’s not easy, but he has it.

If we complain about evil, let’s make sure it’s not of our own making. Suffering has very little to do with what actually happens to you. How you respond to it personally makes up most of the suffering that you go through. What happens to you is usually not in your control. What you do in response usually is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The God Virus Conclusion

How do we end this? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our final look starts with chapters on science. Basically, it looks like at the beginning Ray is saying “Theology doesn’t have a testing method like science does so science is better.” No. Not better. Just different. If we assume that the material world is orderly and things work in an orderly fashion, then we can test things repeatedly. Other fields though are not the same way. Philosophy, literature, economics, history, and many other fields of study do not have a methodology like science because of the subject matter they study.

At the same time, this gives me good reason to actually NOT put as much trust in science. After all, what we accept as proven science today could be what historians might look on in the future and say “What were they thinking then?” On the other hand, moral truths like “It is wrong to torture babies for fun” are not known through science and will quite likely stand the test of time.

Because of the way science is, nothing in science is known with absolute certainty. Everything is subject to change. What is far less subject to change are the philosophical principles science is founded on. Some things are surely more certain in science than others, some that at least now it would be ridiculous to deny, but proof is not there.

On p. 223, Ray tells us there have been many crucified saviors. There have been many who had virgin births and were of royal lineage. Problem is, he never names one. That’s a shame. I would have enjoyed seeing such a list. Spoiler alert. There aren’t any others.

This is something important to point out. We have seen many misquotations of people by atheists, including Ray. This kind of argument about crucified saviors is a really bad one mainly find on the internet. Ray wants us to treat science seriously, but he’s not willing to do the same for beliefs outside of his field.

In the end, that’s really what we have. No taking seriously of outside beliefs. Ray doesn’t quote any Christian scholars or historians or philosophers or anything of that sort. Ray says he grew up in a fundamentalist movement and it shows. He has never left that mindset. Now, instead of serious interaction, he can just claim people have a virus. Christians might say that atheists have a demon. Ray has just come up with a fundamentalist atheist counterpart to that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 7

What else is happening in the God Virus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For now, we’re going to move a bit faster through the book. There really isn’t as much to say as most chapters seem to just be echoing later chapters. No. There are no real arguments in the book.

He starts off with talking about how many members of the National Academy of Sciences believe in God. However, Rob Bowman answered this years ago when Victor Stenger brought it up. As he said,

Assuming that’s true, how does one get into the NAS? Here’s what the National Academy of Sciences website says: “Because membership is achieved by election, there is no membership application process. Although many names are suggested informally, only Academy members may submit formal nominations.” In other words, it’s an exclusive club that decides who may even be considered for membership. According to a 2010 article in Scientific American, about 18,000 American citizens earn PhDs in the sciences or engineering every year. There are only about 2,200 members in the NAS, and no more than 84 new members are inducted each year. Even the geniuses in the NAS can figure out that its membership does not represent an adequately representative sampling of well-trained scientists.

Much more of what is said is about how Ray thinks the “virus” spreads. This is still more of the same about secret techniques used in evangelism and the like. I personally think atheist evangelists do the same kinds of things. He also has a section on living rationally in a non-rational world. After all, it should be obvious that anyone who is theistic in any sort of way must be irrational. Right?

There is a section on the new atheists where he says that people see Richard Dawkins and others and think they’re angry atheists. Ray says he doesn’t see that at all and thinks it’s just projection and proceeds to tell us that Christians saying that are angry Christians. Does he not even notice that he could be doing what he just said Christians are doing?

Now I personally think that sometimes Dawkins and Hitchens at least can come across as angry. Projection on my part? Doubtful. More of their accusations just usually make me laugh. Still, their emotion makes no difference. What matters is the data, and their data just isn’t there.

Much of what happens after this is simply also personal coping strategies with suffering and death and about how to talk to people who are “infected.” Naturally, there’s nothing in there about “What happens if you meet a theist who knows what they’re talking about?” It’s things like this that will do more damage to the atheistic movement. It’s easier to just psychologize your opponent instead of dealing with his arguments. I find it happens when opponents in a debate tell me I really know XYZ, when I really don’t.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)