Do We Remember?

Do we remember 9/11? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I normally write these blogs now a day ahead of time. That’s just the nature of the beast with working a job on campus and with having classes as well. Sunday night, I’m writing and when I schedule the blog, I see that the next day is 9/11. I’ve already written a blog. I don’t want to change it.

That kind of saddened me. I wonder if it’s natural with the passage of time. It could be like remembering the anniversary of the death of a loved one. It gets harder and harder to deal with. I remember when the day came that would have been my 11th anniversary, I was dreading how I would handle it. Nowadays, it doesn’t even register a lot of times.

At the same time, there is an awkwardness on campus around here. I know many students here that have no memory of 9/11. Some of them were too young when it happened. Some of them weren’t even born when it happened. These people have never lived in a world where the Twin Towers were standing. Naturally, I don’t fault them for it, but I realize these are different times.

My parents grew up in the generation that saw Kennedy assassinated. I can’t relate to that at all. I don’t know if they still remember that every time when that day comes around. Maybe not.

When the Challenger exploded, I was five years old. I really don’t remember much about that experience. There’s no doubt for me that politically, 9/11 was the defining moment of my generation. Yes. I can still remember where I was when I first heard the news. Nothing else really comes close.

I do know I lost sight for a time and thus am writing this blog late. That again leaves me wondering if that means the impact of it is lessening. In some cases, it has to. How would it be if the impact of negative events in our lives never lessened? I tell people that my divorce still hurts every day, but it sure is a relief it doesn’t hurt as much as it did then.

We cannot expect any emotion to last forever, which is a good thing, even for a good emotion. Lewis once wrote that it’s a good thing the feeling of falling in love doesn’t last or else we would never be able to function in our lives. Many people have an ecstasy come over them when they come to Christ, but that also doesn’t last or else we would never learn how to walk through struggle. People could likely become Christians only because they want good feels.

Despite that, we can remember the lessons regardless. I can lose a loved one and not feel the pain and still remember the good times and the lessons that I learned from them. I no longer have the pain from scoliosis surgery, but I sure can remember the times that I couldn’t walk and how I shouldn’t take those for granted. The problem is, learning lessons does require more effort. It takes more to work on those and practice them. It takes virtue.

Let’s hope this generation coming up learns that, or else we could repeat history again.

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

Why Does God Allow Abuse?

If someone has been abused, what do you say about why God allowed it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I wrote about abuse, but I didn’t say much about why it is allowed. This is always the kind of question you don’t really want to get because in many ways, the person is searching for answers perhaps to try to make sense of their lives. Many of us have gone through a trial of suffering and wondered what was going on.

When my divorce was becoming a reality, I prayed hard every night. I wanted a healing for my marriage. I wanted this nightmare to go away and things to be the way they should. I wanted God to show up in a remarkable way, or really just any way, so that the day could be saved and I would have a happy marriage. Surely God would want to do this! Right?

All I can say is God allowed me to get divorced and well, I don’t like it, but I have also learned He didn’t owe me a marriage and I just need to keep serving regardless and hope that door opens again someday. That being said, I know that’s not the same as abuse still. After all, in abuse, you are actively being hurt and seeking an end to pain. I say it though because I want those of us dealing with this to think about what is the greatest pain in our lives we went through that God DIDN’T answer the way we wanted.

The thing is, an abuser in many ways becomes a controller. One lives constantly with the pain that has come about because of the abuse. This is something that occurred to me as I had to move in to my parents’ house again after my divorce, feeling like a failure in many ways as a 40+ year-old man having to do this again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to them for taking their son in again, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be as much as I love my parents.

Yet I told myself that I have been playing games all my life. Will I not try to approach this the same way? I can either keel over and be a victim, or I can get up and be a victor. The motto “Play to Win” became an anthem in my life.

Ultimately, I also encourage people to do this. Choose to be a victor. I know some people going through divorce can seek revenge. I earnestly battle not to within myself. The only exception is this other saying I try to live by. “The best revenge is a life well-lived.” Holding hostility does no good.

For abuse victims, I wonder if it could be the same. Can you learn to be a victor? Can you be able eventually to forgive internally at least your abuser? Could you want their well-being to take place? I think about someone I have met who has made a ministry from overcoming her abuse to helping others overcome abuse. You can find her here.

Yet the question is still unanswered. Why does God allow it?


Folks. Unless you are 100% absolutely sure that you have a divine message, which I seriously doubt you do, the best answer is really, “We don’t know.” Does that mean atheism is true? Not even close. If anything, atheism just makes the problem worse. As I have argued elsewhere, you gain nothing removing God from the equation. After all, you still have the evil. You have just removed the source of goodness and justice.

We can say generally the reasons God allows evil, but why a particular evil is allowed? That cannot be said without divine revelation. Too often we in an effort I suspect to appear spiritual try to act like we know the will of God. We do more harm than good. Scripture instead tells us to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep.

There are good works out there on the problem of evil, but the best answer to one in the pain is not an argument. It is a friendship with them. It is showing them love and being willing to bear their suffering with them. Will there come a time later to discuss the problem of evil? Of course, and it should be done when the person is ready.

Some of you might be disappointed by that answer and were hoping for some major insight you could use in this situation. There isn’t one. Evil ruins so much and we need to realize that. We know Jesus is the answer ultimately, but we don’t have all the answers on an individual level. We shouldn’t claim to.

We do know we should love on an individual level.

Let’s do what we know.

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

Clergy Abuse

What do you say to someone who was abused in the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was talking with someone on Facebook recently who was making an argument about the Catholic Church and children being abused. I asked the question of if they condemn the public school system. After all, the case of abuse by teachers in the public school system is actually far worse statistically than it is in the church, be it Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox.

That being said, there is one way that it is definitely worse in the church. While all teachers should care for the welfare of children and put the children first, it is far worse when those who claim the name of Christ abuse children. That is directly contradictory not just to a job code, but also to the very faith they claim to represent.

Let’s face it with something I hope we can all agree on. Abuse is evil. Abuse of children is evil. Abuse of animals is evil. Abuse of adults is evil. Abuse is never okay no matter what kind it is.

Now normally, when I dialogue with someone who brings up the abuse scandal though, I often get the impression they’re wanting to just use it to bash Christianity. After all, if abused kids are the problem, then you should equally condemn the abuse in the public school system. As a Christian, I can equally say I condemn all of it. There are horrible people out there who should not be clergy. There are wonderful people out there who I am thankful are clergy. The same applies to teachers. The problem isn’t so much the worldview as it is, well, just people.

The person I was talking to told me they were abused by a youth pastor and prayed to Jesus every night for it to end. So what do you say then? There’s no real grounds upon which to question the story and I can say I can understand how if someone had that happen, they would have a hard time with Christianity.

Note I am not saying it is a rational reason to think Christianity is untrue, but if you are undergoing abuse and you pray and it doesn’t go away, one can understand why one has a hard time trusting God. It’s like people who grew up with abusive fathers and then hear that God is Father. There’s a whole lot to deal with.

So what do you say, especially if you’re not a licensed professional counselor?

Let’s start with one thing you don’t say. “I understand.” You don’t, and when people are grieving and you haven’t gone through a similar experience, you don’t say that. If I met someone going through the pain of divorce, I could tell them I understand how painful that is. If I met someone who had lost a child, I could not tell them I understand that.

One of the other things to do if you are in person is sometimes to not say anything. Just listen. Just be a comfort. Let the person cry or scream or do whatever they need.

I also try to not really answer the problem of evil there. Now on Facebook, this is a bit different since you have to say something. I did make sure to ask regularly if this person had gone to see a therapist. I never got that answered, but anyone who has gone through abuse needs to see a therapist.

I did try to point out that if Christianity is true, there is at least hope. Justice delayed is not justice denied. Someday, those evil people and all who defended them will get justice. Sometimes, the whole church can take part in the cover-up. It is better to them to admit there is evil in their midst and instead blame the, in their eyes, alleged victims.

By the way, this never happened to me, but having gone through divorce and talked to others who have, I know of too many stories where an innocent party was divorced and the church was hardly helpful to them. The church should always be willing to show the love of Christ to those who are suffering.

Ultimately, until a person gets past their emotional wounds, a rational argument really won’t make sense to them or be effective. Definitely pray for them. I have been praying for this person every night ever since hearing about this.

Also, you’re likely to not bring resolution by yourself. You’re a part of a longer chain of people working on an individual. Now it could be you’re the final link in that chain, but don’t presume that. You might be Paul or you might be Apollos. God will bring the growth either way. Play whatever part you have well.

Finally, let’s all do our part to end abuse wherever it may be. Definitely this is so in the church. I have no problem with thorough background checks being done on those who will work with our most precious resource, our children.

And of course, if you yourself are an abuse victim, get help for it. No shame in that. I hope eventually, you will find complete healing in the person of Jesus for what has happened to you.

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

We Remember Them

Who do we remember? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Think back to famous first-century families you know of!

Okay. The first one many readers of this blog will think of is the holy family, Jesus and his Earthly parents along with his brothers and sisters. After that, you could think of the Herods perhaps, no doubt one of the most dysfunctional families ever. You could think of families in the disciples, though even then we really don’t know about those families. You might think of the Caesars.

Really, there aren’t too many that stand out. However, every family would want to be remembered. Every family would want their honor to continue throughout the ages.

Recently, I read something in one of the church fathers, and it was about Zechariah and Elizabeth and this thought just struck me then. That’s one of the other families we can think of if we know our Bibles. These were the parents of John the Baptist, after all.

Yet it wasn’t always like that.

These were seen as good people, but they had a strike against them. They were childless. Imagine how many times they might have tried to have a child, and yet as they grew older and older, this hope abandoned them. Not only that, but this was a priestly family. If Zechariah was faithfully serving, why was he being withheld one of the great blessings?

Did Zechariah ever see his fellow priests with their own children and wonder? Did he ever see their children with their own children later on and ask why he was childless? What was it like to see the years fade away and know that this wasn’t going to happen and his family line would die with him?

What of Elizabeth? Did she long to be a mother all her life? Little girls today grow up dreaming of being mothers. Was it the same for her? Did she get a blessing at her wedding like Ruth and Boaz did about having numerous children only to grow old with a man she loved, but yet knowing there was a time in her life when she just wouldn’t have a kid anymore?

Those of us who know the Bible story know differently.

Through a miracle of God, they who had been shamed did have a kid, a kid who was so important he is a major figure in the New Testament and was even mentioned by Josephus. This was none other than John the Baptist. While there’s no indication he ever had any kids let alone a wife, he does live on in the history to this day and we know about Zechariah and Elizabeth to this day.

The only priests we know about from that time are the ones that were famous, such as Caiaphas and ones like him. All the families that Zechariah and Elizabeth saw who had kids to ensure their names would not be forgotten were, well, forgotten.

This is something I keep in mind. God can change things even when there is hopelessness. It’s been easy to look around and wonder why God hasn’t given XYZ yet, but that does not mean never and while it’s true Zechariah and Elizabeth’s line ended with John the Baptist, their memory didn’t.

Part of the problem of evil does this today sadly. It looks at circumstances today and says the story is over. It isn’t. The game is still afoot and God can change situations tremendously.

Just something to give you some hope.

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


Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Conclusion

How shall we wrap this up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In these last two chapters, we find Humphrys being rather charitable. For instance, the main point he wants to get across is how the new atheists want to say we would be better off without religion. John Lennon’s Imagine would have us all think the world would be a better place if we got rid of religion.

Not so fast. Humphrys rightly points out that when you look at the mass killings of people in the 20th century, it wasn’t religion that was largely responsible. It was Communism. When you look at the major wars that happened, religion could be a factor, but it was way down the list if it was.

How about those Muslim suicide bombers? They weren’t the first. It was the Tamil Tigers that came up with the suicide bomber strategy. That was a Marxist-Leninist group in Sri Lanka. He does say that Muslim bombers today are not reflecting mainstream Islam to which I want to say “How are they not?” After all, the first Muslim groups were hardly peaceful.

He also points out that some might say extreme religion is a danger, but materialism and consumerism is also a threat. What about all these kids who are wanting to go on apps like TikTok and become celebrities? What about a culture that wants more and more and more and yet is never happy?

This isn’t to say Humphrys is entirely positive about religion. He says that it’s not that religious people don’t have time to reason out their beliefs. They don’t want to. They don’t want to think about things that have been done in the name of God. His example of this is an alleged Roman Catholic who doesn’t even believe in the deity of Christ, but finds theism comforting.

It is true that God can be a great comfort, but I do not believe in God for comfort. I believe in Him because of the evidence. I am also not bothered by the “Christians have done evil in history.” Yeah. All of us have. That’s because we’re all fallen creatures. I don’t think we should ignore the question, but it’s not a defeater.

In the end, what do I think keeps Humphrys from believing? It’s not reason. He doesn’t really deal with any arguments for the existing of God in this book. If anything, his argument seems to be more emotional. He has a hard time with evil, but if he does, that should make it all the more reason for him to be a theist.

I think about a meme I saw an atheist share yesterday with a woman, presumably in Africa, holding a dead child and crying and for us to think about how easy it is to worship God when we’re not that woman. No doubt, that woman is suffering, but as I have argued before, take away God. What do you have? This is definitely a hypothetical as I think if you take away God, nothing can exist, but you still have the crying woman and the dead child.

The problem is still the same. What you have removed is hope. On Christian theism, there is a God who will deal justly in this situation. There is a God who can bring good out of evil. There is a God who can raise the dead. Atheism takes away the possibility of hope and still leaves the problem. How is that reasonable?

Keep in mind, I am not saying that that makes Christianity true, but it sure gives you reason to consider it seriously and to at least want it to be true on some level, especially if you say you care about the woman involved. If there is no greater source of justice and hope in the universe, well some people just get dealt a very bad hand of cards and it sucks to be you if you get that bad hand. Christianity has someone overseeing the game who will make sure justice will come out right in the end.

That should give us hope and also give us a degree of fear. Justice will come for us as well. We better make sure we are ready.

We can pray that Humphrys reconsiders his opinion. Perhaps those arguments really are better than what an inquisitive child can see through. Perhaps there really is a God who loves Him out there and can give hope and justice.

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

False Common Knowledge: All Sin Is The Same In God’s Eyes

Does God really see all sin as the same? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are some ideas that are so commonly heard in the church that most of us never question them. The problem is that if we never question them, they are assumed at the start when really, there’s no basis for them. One common one is one I heard recently and it occurred to me I have never written about as far as I can remember. This is the idea that all sin is the same in God’s eyes.

Let’s suppose you never had a police record at all. Then one day you’re going down the interstate and you wind up going 20 MPH over the speed limit. An officer pulls you over and lo and behold, you no longer have a perfect record. It just takes one ticket to do that.

Let’s suppose again you never had a police record at all. Then one day your neighbor is playing loud music way too much and you go over to his house and when he opens the door you pull out a gun and shoot him several times in the chest resulting in his death. You go back over to your place thinking no one else saw you and no need to arouse suspicion, but you were heard and the police come over and arrest you. You no longer have a perfect record. One crime did that.

With sin, all it takes is one to remove a perfect record, but that does not mean that all the sins are the same any more than speeding and murder are the same.

In John 19:11, Jesus says to Pilate that the one who handed Him over is guilty of a greater sin. In the Gospels, Jesus also says the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come. He says that if someone leads a child to stumble, it would be better for him to have a millstone attached to him and be thrown into the sea.

In the epistles, Paul writes to the church in Corinth that is heavily messed up and calls them out for many sins, but when he gets to the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife, he says to hand this one over to Satan. He says that some have died because of how they handled the Lord’s Supper. He regularly has listings of sins that if one is practicing these shows that he is not of the kingdom.

If we look at the Old Testament, we see there were some sins that led to death and some that led to much lesser penalties. We see from Jesus that the Old Testament had some commandments that were greater than others. (Which wouldn’t make much sense if all sins were the same.) We also see the dilemmas caused with the question of Rahab and the Hebrew midwives lying. If all sins are the same, then does it really matter?

I really can think of no Scripture that gives any indication that all sins are the same. Somehow, we got this idea and it has been spoken so much that we have come to believe it. It just isn’t so. We should strive to avoid all sins to be sure, but that does not mean all sins are the same.

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 13

Are we just serving our genes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Humphrys makes a list of heroic people and why they did what they did. An atheist like Richard Dawkins will write that we are living in service of our selfish genes. It’s a reversal of sorts of the Christian view. In our view, we are doing what we do in service of God, but in the atheist view, it is in service of ourselves. (Not sure how aborting your children works with that considering they can’t pass on any more genes for you or sterilizing your children through “gender-affirming care”, but that’s another point.)

But Humphrys doesn’t think this works. He talks about the Virginia Tech shooting as one example. Liviu Librescu, a 76 year-old math teacher, held the door shut so his students could escape through the windows knowing this would lead to his death. On another aside, it is disappointing that in these cases, many of us can bring to mind the shooter, but not the heroes that held back the shooter to some extent. Was Librescu doing this to serve his genes?

Humphrys doesn’t find this credible, and again, I agree. In a sense, genes have become a sort of god for Dawkins and others who go this route. Whatever the genes are commanding, this must be obeyed. This is not to say that we don’t have base desires that we all fall prey to. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be a problem with obesity, broken marriages, STDs, etc. in our world today.

Humphrys goes on to list a number of heroes and it’s worth reading this chapter just to hear what their stories are. Too often when we think about evil, we ask what is it that makes evil people do what they do? Could it perhaps be better to ask “What is it that makes good people do what they do?” and then find ways to make that far more likely to happen? Just a long shot here, but maybe we should consider the virtues that lead to people doing that and celebrate those virtues and condemn the vices that go the other way.

However, there is an unfortunate statement in this chapter in that Humphrys concludes that atheists have the best arguments. What they don’t have is a grasp of what it is that makes human beings what we are. I agree with the latter, but I definitely disagree with the former.

On the latter point, could we not consider that if atheists don’t have that, could that lead to the idea that man is more than just a material being? Could it lead to the idea of essences and substances? Could it lead to a soul, a spirit, or something of that sort? Would this not be a problematic position for atheism to explain anyway? If human beings are just material objects and we have been studying matter for so long and have personal experience with this matter, shouldn’t we have a good idea of what we are?

However, throughout this book, there has been little attention paid to theistic arguments. Even in the chapter featuring Craig, the only response given was that it was nonsense, all of it, and then Humphrys goes on to criticize Craig instead of asking his side how they can better answer Craig. I don’t see the Thomistic arguments ever dealt with nor do I see the philosophers used that have taken on the problem of evil.

Humphrys then is too dismissive. It seems that evil is just something that controls his thinking and that is the real draw. How can a good God allow evil? The problem is this is often a much more emotional argument than a rational one. We see this when Humphrys says that when a cab driver murders his wife and four children, that overpowers an argument.

Could it be atheists actually have the more emotional opinion?

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 12

Does Humphrys understand evil and morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re on the final section of this book. Humphrys begins this with talking about evil, the card he seems to play most often. He talks about the case of a taxi driver  who murdered his wife with a baseball bat. Then he went upstairs, got one of his four small children and took her downstairs and murdered her. Then he did the rest with his other three children.

From here, Humphrys goes on to tell us about theodicies, which are said to be how to justify the ways of God to men, a term I don’t care for. It assumes that God needs to be justified. Still, it has been around a long time and if you mean an answer to the problem of evil, it is fine.

However, he says for those who take a less intellectual approach, the cries of a child resonate more than an elegant argument. This is a quite telling statement. At the start of this book. Humphrys said anyone with the mind of an inquisitive child can see the God arguments fail. Now at the end, he is saying those who do not go the intellectual route are more persuaded by the case of this murder.

Yet at the same time, if there is no God, then ultimately, what this taxi driver did doesn’t matter in the long run. If he was never caught, he got away with it. There will never be justice for the woman and her children. They will never enjoy life again. If there is a God, and especially the Christian God, there is no free pass for this man. He will face judgment. Even if he repents, the consequences of his action will carry over into eternity still.

Later, Humphrys will speak of the view of theists that atheists could develop a moral code, but without God, there is no way of knowing good from evil. Humphrys says that this is rubbish. How is that so many societies who didn’t know that this monotheistic God existed still produce a moral code very similar in many ways to what is had today?

Once again, Humphrys is someone who does not know what the argument is and if anything, his objection actually DEMONSTRATES the claim of theism. No one is saying you have to have knowledge of God to know right from wrong. Scripture even argues in Romans 2 that all men know this because God has placed it on their hearts in some way.

What the argument claims is that if God does not exist, there is no metaphysical basis for good or evil. (Actually, there’s no metaphysical basis for anything, but that’s another post.) Good and evil as ideas make no sense apart from God. As Dostoyevsky said, if there is no God, anything goes. One does not need to know of this God to know good from evil, but this God needs to be for the knowledge to be there.

Right now, I am also reading The Plague by Camus where he attempts to answer the claims of someone like Dostoyevsky by having a plague in a city killing multiple people and so the city is sealed off from the outside world. The hero is a doctor who does not believe in God, and yet he goes about trying to relieve the suffering of the people of the city. Therefore, God is not needed for morality.

The problem is this is still the world and in this world, good and evil still exist and you don’t have to be a theist to believe in those. However, giving a metaphysical basis is different. What is this good? Why should I think the doctor is the hero? Why should I see him as the good guy?

He also says in America, that some Christians are so convinced of the evils of abortion that some doctors fear their lives due to what has happened to their unfortunate colleagues. It is difficult for us to think of people who have been bombing abortion clinics. For me, just one name comes to mind. These are by and far the exception. Of course, Humphrys doesn’t really give a reason why abortion should be allowed and while I don’t agree with murder in response, I do agree that abortion is a great evil, one of the worst actually.

He also asks if theists can produce a moral code atheists can agree to. He thinks there are plenty of rules that we could all get along with, but then says that even Jimmy Carter said that he has lusted in his heart in an interview. He says this caused a stir in the Baptist community, but why should it? Does anyone really think they haven’t committed this sin, especially my fellow men? Besides this, a moral code should be something you strive to live up to. It should not be easy.

He then produces his own moral code that he says our more enlightened society should embrace to put to death the fundamentalist mindset. On top of the list is homosexuality is not a sin. If all he said was the temptation is not a sin, I would agree, but if he means the behavior, he needs to give me a reason why I should think this. We can talk all we want about how progressive and enlightened we are in society, but when you look at the rate of STDs and of broken families and fatherless children, does anyone think we are really better off?

What a shock that the next one is a woman should be allowed abortion as long as the rules of society are followed. Here we have a talk of enlightened society and what do you know? The first two rules are about sex. Why am I not surprised?

He also says there is hardly a soul alive he is sure who does not regret some sexual adventure. Humphrys must not know a lot of people. I could introduce him to several. Odds are, you can as well.

He then goes on to give a study of the trolley problem where atheists and theists by and large gave the same example and someone like Dawkins uses this to show you don’t need God to know right from wrong. What is missed is that as someone like Tom Holland has pointed out in Dominion, this is because also there is a background Christianity in us all. Would Dawkins be appalled by some of what he would see in ancient Greece and Rome? Quite likely. He and Humphrys make the same mistake again. They think that you have to be religious in order to have epistemology here, when the claim is not an epistemological one, but a metaphysical one. This is one of the most common mistakes in atheist argumentation that I see them making left and right.

They never learn.

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



Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 7

What is Humphrys looking for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re moving ahead now to where Humphrys starts doing interviews. In this, he interacts with a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim. To his credit, he brings on people who are informed about what they believe. WIll he find God doing this?

Doubtful, especially since at the start he says he doesn’t want to convert to Judaism any more than he wants to be a Muslim or recover his Christianity, but he would like to believe in God. But why? What benefit does he get from this? Is God just a means to an end? Will Humphrys feel better about himself if he has God?

If he finds the Christian God, for instance, that will mean repentance. That will mean humility. That will mean he has to accept that God has a good reason for allowing the evil that he complains about. If he accepts Islam, will he be willing to embrace all of the teachings and follow Muhammad as a prophet? Is he prepared to have his good and bad deeds weighed out on the scales? For Judaism, it will depend on the branch, but there’s not much emphasis from what I see usually on an afterdeath.

Humphrys gives no reason, though he admits it sounds pathetic.

But if you only want God as a means to an end for you, it’s not a shock if you don’t find Him. Why think He will let Himself be used?

One big issue he has for his interviewees is evil. This is Humphrys #1 argument against God. Now I have said before that I don’t understand what you gain from the problem of evil if you remove God. The problem is still there and you get rid of a solution of hope to the problem.

Humphrys says that most tyrants seem to die peacefully on their beds. Hitler could have had he not gone after Russia and just stayed in his own land. For Humphrys, this dispels the idea that virtue is its own reward and that God is merciful.

For the first, why would Humphrys want to be virtuous? It is not so he can please God obviously. Is he just wanting to please his fellow man? Does Humphrys do good purely because he benefits from it? These tyrants certainly didn’t care what anyone else thought of them, unless they wanted to kill them. What makes Humphrys different in the long run?

For the second, God is only merciful if He deals with evil on Humphrys timescale? Who says? If Christianity is true, God is merciful to all of us as we all deserve death right now. Of course, Humphrys would likely say he doesn’t deserve that as he’s generally a good person. What about all those evil people though?

Because it’s always someone else’s evil that needs to be dealt with. Whenever I hear atheists complain about evil, they are complaining about what other people do. They are not complaining about what they do.

Rowan Williams is shown in the interview of saying that with God, there is always hope. Of course, this is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand the concept of Heaven or especially of resurrection. If you think death is the end of the story, then obviously the story is terrible sometimes. Williams’s view is that it is not the end.

That doesn’t mean those words are always helpful to parents who have lost a child to cancer, but arguments aren’t the purpose of that. Charity is. This is when you come alongside and listen.

Humphrys also said that Abraham was presented with a choice that God said “If you believe in me, you must sacrifice your child.” We can question the premise, but even if we go with it, note something important. Isaac never died. It was just to show how much Abraham believed in the promise that through Isaac his covenant of offspring would be fulfilled. Abraham had to believe that either God would stop it or else He would raise Isaac from the dead.

Sacks, the rabbi, also tells Humphrys that if Humphrys didn’t have faith, he wouldn’t ask the question. I think faith is being misunderstood, but I get at what Sacks is asking. The question is asked because you expect there to be an answer. Why? If this was an atheistic universe, well, it’s just some people are going to get the short straw and tough luck it turned out to be you. You can be comforting and kind to someone suffering, but there’s really no meaning in their suffering nor any ultimate hope.

Humphrys says Sacks ultimately says that if it happened, there must be a reason why it happened and God will use it for good. Can you argue with that? Humphrys says no, which is the problem for the problem of evil. The one using it has to demonstrate that there is no good reason for God to allow evil XYZ. Quite a tall order. Not only that, he also has to deal with all the positive arguments for God’s existence, which thus far Humphrys never does.

Thus far then, color me unconvinced.

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



Book Plunge: Ready Player Two

What do I think about Ernest Cline’s sequel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t think it’s possible to talk about this without some spoilers so you have been warned. This is one of those books I have been reading just for fun as I am trying to get more fiction in my literary diet. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Ready Player One and so I was glad to see when the sequel was available on Kindle for cheap.

As pertains to content, I still prefer the first story. In this second one, Wade, the main character, finds out that as the heir of Halliday, that Halliday left for the world a headset that one could use to log into the virtual world of the OASIS and it is up to Halliday’s heir to decide if he wants to mass produce and market this or not. The headset isn’t just a device to watch, but also a neural uplink. Wade does introduce it to the world, but the biggest critic of this decision is his then-girlfriend Samantha from the last movie.

Then along the way, a new quest is released like in the first one to find the seven shards of the siren’s soul. That quest is going okay until a threat rises up within the system of an AI that has gone rogue and decided that the seven pieces must be gathered for his own purposes. Wade and his friends then find themselves on a quest to get the shards in time and also find a way to defeat the AI.

Those are all the spoilers I want to give and I think they’re necessary. What strikes me again in looking at this is here we have the problem of technological geniuses creating an AI and lo and behold, the AI turns against its creators and decides it has its own plans. This seems to happen in every science fiction scenario involving it, but somehow, we’re the exception.

There is no doubt that science has been a means of bringing great blessings into our lives, but it has also brought great destruction into our lives. We can live in fear of nuclear weapons being used because we invented them. Whatever you think of the Covid situation, it was produced in a lab and had devastating effects around the world.

We are often told of the evils of religion, but what is really evil is the misuse of religion. Religion used for good does great things, such as fine charity work across the world and the love of one’s neighbor. Religion used for evil can have devastating consequences just as much, like 9/11.

In every scenario, the real culprit is the same actually. Us. Any good thing can be used just as much for evil. The problem is not the tool. The problem is the person using the tool. Science and religion in the hands of good men can be used for good. In the hands of evil men, it can be used for evil.

But let’s also include foolish men.

There are people in religion who are quite foolish, even in my own evangelical tradition. There are plenty of people who are sure they are called to ministry of some kind, but they don’t have the first clue how to do it and they think it’s unspiritual to get an education in what they study. Shouldn’t God just tell them everything? They’re not evil. They mean well. They just cause great destruction.

In the same way, there are plenty of people in science who aren’t evil at all. They could just have a lot of pride or foolishness, just like the person in religion, and think they can handle whatever happens. Both of them make great errors in judgment that affect not only them, but others as well.

It’s good to know we’re different, isn’t it?

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




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