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)

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 11

What are we to expect from religious rituals? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So in these chapters, and if you’re curious the book has 20 chapters and we’re on 15 and 16, Humphrys talks about the church experience and there is so much to say here. Humphrys says he’s fine with something like shaking hands a nod to someone he’s not nearby, but having to give hugs to show you’re brothers and sisters in Christ is too far. I really agree. My problem with a lot of so-called “manners” in today’s society from someone on the spectrum is that it seems fake.

You have a number of people that engage in small talk with you and ask how you’re doing that day, but then the rest of the week, they don’t reach out to you at all. They’re a no-show. It’s hard to think someone is truly your brother and sister in Christ when the only display you get from them is one that seems fake.

A big problem we have in many churches is we’re really all about joy, and joy is great, but many of us in the Christian life can also be miserable at times. I’m thankful that when I came to Tennessee again before living in New Orleans where I am now, I found a church that was connected with DivorceCare and I was allowed to be someone hurting there. One of the greatest gifts a Christian can give a fellow Christian who is struggling is to let them know it’s okay to hurt and be there when they are.

Another story in these chapters is one Humphrys received from a lady who had been brought up in the Church of England and thought when she got confirmed that something incredible would happen to her.

It didn’t.

Now for me, I would say that this is okay. Unfortunately, this has not been the experience in many churches. Go to your average church. Find out how much the emphasis is on how you feel about what is going on.

Do you feel God here today?

Do you feel the Spirit?

Can you feel the love tonight?

Oh. Sorry. Song lyric got in here. How did that happen?

Is our relationship with God supposed to give butterflies in the stomach like falling in love? (Which also isn’t a sign of real love anyway. That’s another problem we have. When the feeling fades, we think the love has faded. Of course, there can be no harm taking that to our walk with God.) No feeling lasts forever. Your walk with God will ebb and flow and if it’s dependent on your feelings, you’re going to be in for a hard time.

I can also add in people expect to hear the voice of God. Do you want to hear God speak? Go to Scripture. His word there is still just as valid as it was the day it was written.

Also, keep in mind that there are plenty of people in your church who are much more on the emotional side and they will understand the idea of feeling God. There are many who are not who will not. They are not deficient. It’s a shame that we live in a day and age in the church where being seen as an intellectual is seen as detracting from your walk with God.

This is one benefit also of reading non-Christian literature. You understand why they don’t accept us from their own words and you can be open to things in our approach that are wrong. The emphasis on experience is one. Sometimes grand things will happen. That’s fine. Sometimes they won’t. That’s fine too.

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 10

How should non-believers respond to believers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This chapter is rather refreshing in how it comes about as there are times in this book that Humphrys goes after the new atheists. In this, I want to highlight three points in this chapter that stands out to me. All of this comes after his interviews with the Archbishop, the rabbi, and the Muslim. (As far as we know, they sadly did not walk into a bar.)

The first is that Humphrys says like any complex work of history or philosophy, the Bible has to be interpreted for the ignorant, as well as for the informed. 100% correct. What new atheists do is think often that the Bible should just be read literalistically and that it should be immediately understandable to them. This is some of our consumeristic thinking at work. It’s also simply lazy.

Too many atheists and Christians both won’t bother reading something to help them understand the Bible. Even blog posts like this one I get pushback from atheists on as I will link something I have written on in reply and lo and behold, they won’t respond to anything in it. If you have a position that you do not want to read anything on the topic you claim to care about, whether to attack it or to build it up, you really don’t care about that topic.

He also says that too many times, atheists often because they don’t believe think themselves superior intellectually and morally. He does say he understands that as he went through the same, but it just isn’t so. This is a behavior that I see often in atheists I encounter and it really has the effect of convincing me they don’t care about truth as much as they think. They are brilliant by reason of being atheists and Christians are stupid by reason of being believers. I call it atheistic presuppositionalism.

It doesn’t hurt me at all, but it does great harm to an atheist wanting to spread their message. If you mock Christians for not studying and just believing everything and then do the same for anything you read, you’re no better. I still remember Victor Stenger on Unbelievable? saying that for his ideas on the Bible, he relies on Bart Ehrman. Yes. God forbid you read someone that disagrees with you at all. Even today I had someone give the quote to me that Magellan said of “I have seen the shadow of the earth upon the moon, and I have more confidence in the shadow than I have in the church.” Unfortunately, he never said this, but confirmation bias is just as real for an atheist as it can be for a Christian.

Finally, Humphrys writes about how the faith of believers has been a comfort to them and a benefit through struggles. He says that Dawkins and others can find that laughable and sneer, but they should be ashamed of themselves. He ends with saying believers should be treated with respect.

I agree entirely, and that sounds like a good note to end this on.

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



Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 9

What is the core defense of Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So we’re back to Humphrys book again and at the start, he is going on the same old game that we always see. The idea of the evangelical is of course that with Jesus you can go to Heaven. Now I am a critic of this in that we treat Jesus as a means to an end, our own joy, without considering that we in response are to serve as well. We also then ignore what we are supposed to do on Earth. The purpose of Christianity is to get you to Heaven! End of story!

Humphrys does say the problem is no one can prove this. Well first off, we should take the idea of Near-Death Experiences seriously. We cannot veridically prove Heaven in some sense like that, but shouldn’t we consider that if people have these experiences, there might be something to them? I understand fully that this is not proof, of course, but it is still evidence.

Naturally, Humphrys says evangelical promises come without a shred of evidence, despite, you know, him referencing a William Lane Craig debate where he gave five pieces of evidence for belief in the existence of God and the only response was that none of it was true. Now some people could be believers on poor evidence, and I’m sure they are, but there are many intellectual people who are believers on grounds of solid evidence. Humphrys can say they’re wrong, but they’re still using evidence.

Then at the end of this chapter we’re covering, he says the core defense of Christians is that if they could prove it, it wouldn’t be faith. This is a horrid misunderstanding on many levels. For one thing, there is plenty in this world we accept as true that cannot be proven, such as scientific truths. These are inductive truths. They’re only known with greater degrees of probability.

Second, there is a great difference between not being able to prove something and having no evidence whatsoever for it. In a court of law, a prosecution is not told to prove that the defendant did the crime. They are to make a case that eliminates reasonable doubt. That doesn’t mean they get up and say “I can’t prove it, so it must be faith.”

A lawyer will produce his evidence, his opponent will reply, and then it is up to the jury to decide based on the evidence. It could be everyone agrees on the evidence presented, but the interpretation is different. This is something that you see regularly if you read mystery novels. There can be a lot of evidence that makes it look like X did the crime, but then when all is revealed, it turns out Y did it and you look back and say “Of course. Now it makes sense.” Despite that, the evidence NEVER changed. It’s the interpretation that did.

Finally, and obviously, Humphrys does not know what faith is, any more than the new atheists that he relies on knows what it is. I have written this article that I refer to time and time again. When Humphrys thinks he’s criticizing my position, he’s not. If this is what he thinks it is, I can see why he thinks the new atheists are so persuasive. Unfortunately, when you go against the real thing, it’s easy to see why they are not persuasive.

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 8

What is the impact of bad sermons? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most every speaker has had a bad presentation at times. They have had something happen where they didn’t know what to say or where they said something outright stupid. Unfortunately, when that happens in ministry, the results can be disastrous. Reviewing what I highlighted in chapter 11 where we start today, I saw one pop up immediately and as soon as I started it, I remembered how it ended because of how terrible it was.

Even worse, this took place at a funeral with the wife and kids right there. A funeral is worse not just because the people are grieving, but weddings and funerals are two of the times you are most likely going to have lost people in the church. Your average person who doesn’t want anything to do with a church can come to one of these out of deep respect, and personally, a funeral usually has the closest to a sermon.

So what does the vicar say here?

Terrible though it is to us, God grants the same freedom to cancer cells that he grants even to the most noble and virtuous of us.

Humphrys is right in pointing out that cancer cells are not intelligent agents that can move and make decisions. Of course, Christians need to be able to have a place in their worldview to explain cancer, but this is not a valid parallel at all. God does allow bad things to happen, including deaths from cancer, but are we going to put cancer cells on the same level as human beings?

Fortunately, Humphrys I don’t think sees all ministers like this, but too many will remember this. Sadly, we will have people easily remember the worst things we did to them. “Think of someone who hurt you.” Right now, most all of you have the image of someone in mind immediately.

Moving on from here, Humphrys asks about prayer. Isn’t it a pointless exercise? Isn’t the main emphasis asking for something? Well, no. The main emphasis should be worship and glorification, something I admit I need to work on as well. There is also thankfulness and the asking is not just health and material objects and items like that, but also forgiveness.

Humphrys also says in the Bible, God was performing miracles all the time. Hardly. You have an abundance of miracles in only three time periods, the Exodus and the conquest, the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and the apostolic age starting with the ministry of Jesus. Miracles are recorded not because they are common, but because they are exceptional.

Getting back to prayer after all of this, Humphrys says God hears every prayer that is offered up, and yet doesn’t bother to intervene. I daresay Humphrys knows a lot of people who can speak of an answered prayer, yet will he say that is a coincidence? It seems that he has to.

What about something like Craig Keener’s works on miracles that show miracles specifically coming after prayer? Humphrys and others who do this have a unique method. If you pray for something and it doesn’t happen, that proves God doesn’t answer prayers. If you pray for something and it happens, that proves that coincidences take place.

Rabbi Sacks thankfully does deal with Humphrys well in an interview style saying that Humphrys seems to have this idea that the world ought to be just. This is ironically where C.S. Lewis began as well. Humphrys then says it needs to be like science where we test something again and again and it is proven and religion is asking the opposite.

Well, that’s just false. Having something happen again and again in science doesn’t mean “proof.” It means that it is incredibly likely, the same as in history. It can be so likely it would be nonsense to try to do some things again. If I stick my hand on a hot stove and I burn it, I’m not going to want to try it again. If I drop something and it falls repeatedly, I’m justified in thinking, contrary to Hume, that that is what will happen every time, all things being equal.

Sacks also rightly says that Humphrys buys into a sort of soft scientism where something should be scientifically established before it is acceptable. Much of our knowledge does not come about that way, such as our moral judgments and the rules of math and any number of other ideas we hold. Most of the claims we hold dearest are those that are NOT scientifically proven, such as that our loved ones love us, or that something is good to do, or that beauty is real.

Humphrys lists a lot of things he considers evils and said this would not happen in a just world. Well first off, who said the world is just right now? In a just world, the Son of God would not be crucified when He did no wrong. God promises justice, but He never promises a timeframe to it for us. Justice delayed is not justice denied.

Briefly, Humphrys talks about biblical interpretation with the idea that we are supposed to take the texts literally, though not stating what that means. I contend you should always take the text literally, but not literalistically. If something is written as a metaphor, taking it literally is reading it as a metaphor. If something is taken as a straight forward account, taking it literally is doing just that. Literalistic reading says there can be no inflection or change in language and no stylistic ideas of hyperbole, sarcasm, etc.

So ultimately as we conclude this part, it still looks like again all Humphrys really has is evil. This has just never really struck me as a strong objection to Christianity, especially since Christianity by necessity has an evil action right at the center, the crucifixion of Christ. Christianity is about dealing with the evil in part, so how is evil a defeater for it?

Beats me.

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: In God We Doubt Part 6

Can materialism sustain a culture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, there are only two things I really want to point out that I find interesting. Humphrys goes against the new atheist movement where he does suggest that the death of religion is not coming as quickly as some people think. If anything, it looks like the reverse is happening. There is still a growing desire for something beyond this world.

He points to an article called God Returns to Europe found in Prospect magazine and written by Eric Kaufmann. He says that it looks like religion is coming back and one reason is women who are religious tend to marry young and tend to have a lot of babies. This isn’t just Catholic women. This is also Protestant women.

I concur with this and think the same is due for America. Those on the left are busy killing their own children in abortion or rendering them sterile through transgenderism. There is a reason secular pro-life is growing here in America and I suspect it’s because they saw the impact of abortion on their generation and don’t want to see that going on anymore.

There are also more and more cases of people undergoing sex change operations and regretting it, many of them suing. I have said before that if you are going into law, this is a good field to jump into. There will be loads of lawsuits against doctors for performing these surgeries and enticing minors to go into them.

So in one case, either the population is dead, or in the second, they can’t have children anyway.

Those of us who are Christian do tend to believe that marriage is for life and that children are a good thing. We also want our children to be raised with our values and will instill them in them. Of course, the culture will get some of them, but as the cultural power wants, it returns back to the hands of the Christians.

The second is that Humphrys says we are more materialistic than we have ever been, and yet we want something more. Those of us who are Christians are not shocked at all at this finding. With material things, one usually always wants more and it is never enough and yet it is also the case of diminishing returns.

Man wants more than just hedonistic pleasure in this life and we usually look down on those who just live for that pleasure. We can enjoy the movies Hollywood puts out, but few of us would really want to be like the people in Hollywood.

We were promised Utopia and it didn’t deliver. If anything, as I pointed out recently, the breakdown of religion could have unleashed something atheists think is worse. Could it be that in the end, we will find those principles we abandoned turned out to be good ones? Could it be maybe the family really is what is important? Could it be that the pushback to Pride last month is starting to open the eyes of people?

None of this is a shock to us. We knew this wouldn’t work long-term. How many of us have enjoyed a day of great pleasures and in the end still said, “There has to be something more.” We are often like the children on Christmas day who open their gifts and wonder “Is there not anything more?”

No. None of this establishes theism, but it is a pointer to it. If a worldview can’t be lived out, there’s a problem with it. Are we opening our eyes at last to the bankruptcy of materialism?

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


Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 5

How does an agnostic describe Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The main point of this chapter of John Humphrys’s book I want to comment on is something he says in response to Cargo Cults. After describing them, he says we might find them to be ludicrous, but imagine going back in time and having to explain Christianity to people of the past. What would it look like?

I can assure you that my explanation would be nothing like what Humphrys says. This is a large part of the problem. Humphrys knows intelligent Christians. He could have easily ran this by them and all of them I am sure would have said “I don’t believe that!” Naturally, he didn’t. The description is too long to quote entirely, but as I read it, I didn’t recognize the worldview that I was reading.

He says that your God had His Son born of a virgin (Which I do affirm) and yet He was somehow the Son of God despite that, and He is a God of love who loves so much He had His own Son brutally killed to atone for everyone’s sins, but this was good since after He died He rose again and ascended into Heaven. Even if you are a non-Christian, just look at that introduction even. Does that sound anyway like how a Christian would present their message?

Let’s say something about this God of love part. Yes. God is a God of love, but the problem is so many people think He’s JUST love. Consider marriage as an example. Love is foundational to a marriage and greatly important, but while everything revolves around love, it is not just love. It’s building a life together, planning out finances, deciding about children, having a healthy sex life, learning to deal with conflict, etc.

As for what happened to Jesus, it is so much more than that. It is also about Jesus being the king of the world. Jesus is now the judge sitting at the right hand of God who will return to judge the world, but for now He rules and we are all to be in service to Him.

Okay, but that’s it. Right? That’s not so bad. Oh no. Humphrys has more to say.

He goes on to say you eat his body and blood which is not really His body and blood and it’s not one God, but three, because there is Father, Son, and a Holy Spirit. When asked about sacrifices, you say that they are not needed, but if you were honest, your God is also a mass-murderer and that millions have been killed in the name of His religion. As for blasphemers, Humphrys decides to switch to what you might say about Muslims and concludes your listeners might wonder who is primitive and who is civilized.

Except this isn’t an honest representation. It’s entirely a straw man. Humphrys would balk if we presented evolution as from goo to the zoo and then to you. Not only that, but he would be right to do so. Your opponents should be presented in their best light. That Humphrys doesn’t do this leads me to conclude he’s not really honest in his presentation.

On a minor point, he does have a comment about the Shroud of Turin which he says is a fake. Unfortunately, this is something still hotly debated and I have numerous books I can refer to that make a compelling case for the Shroud being authentic. Would it have killed Humphrys to consider presenting the case?

Finally, one statement he does get right a professor of divinity or an archbishop to know that if Jesus did not rise body and soul from the dead, then He is a mere mortal. There might be a great church in His name today, but He is a mortal, and he rightly quotes Paul saying that if Christ is not risen we are still in our sins. At least that much is right.

When we return to this work, Humphrys will start talking about the state of the nation.

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