Category Archives: Apologetics

Dylan Was (is) Right

If you want to read a thoughtful and thought-provoking post, I recommend “The Times, They Are a-Changin'” by my good friend and brother in Christ, Bob Odle.  You can read it here.

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Filed under Apologetics, Culture Wars, Discernment, Good & Evil, Integrity, Life, Meaning of Life, morality, Music, Music and Poetry, Peace, Philosophy, Politics, Post Modernism, Religion, Skepticism, Supernatural

Science and Religion in Competition?

Several atheistic blogs I read are guilty of “scientism.”  Scientism is not science but rather deductions and speculations arising out of scientific observations.  Truth is truth no matter the source.  Scientism, however, sees science and empirical observation as the only source of truth.  Consider this definition:

Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.

Here’s an example from a blog called, Unreasonable Faith

Belief never invented a laser, or pressed a CD, or kept a ‘plane in the air, or restarted a heart – Science has done all of that and more, a whole bunch of times.” And, “Against this staggering work and monumental achievement (the proof that one of Einstein’s theories is correct – DW) on one single scientific project out of hundreds of thousands, there stand some old men in robes, telling us that God did it, because it says so in the nth translation in the chain of some bronze-aged myths written by some camel-herders.

For the moment let’s ignore the ridicule and the reality that many respected scientists believe that “God did it.”  More to the point: science and faith are two different things and, thus, not in competition. Faith is defined as, “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). On the other hand, science is totally based on what can be seen. When interpretation of scientific observations moves beyond the observable, it becomes speculation. Speculation is fine and useful for building hypotheses but it is still speculation.  And there’s nothing wrong with speculations as long as they are recognized as such.  Just don’t ask me to accept them as incontrovertible truth.

Many religious people have rightly been resistant to speculations contradicting the concept of a Creator. Others have stubbornly held to their own religious speculations that are in obvious contradiction to observable and undeniable facts. This is foolish in light of the reality that observable facts (sans speculations) do not contradict the concept of a Creator God.  In truth, some of those facts call loudly for a first cause and a designer.

Science and faith operate in two separate realms. Faith presupposes the existence of a supernatural realm (things not seen). Science can only operate in the natural realm. To place them in competition is ridiculous.


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Bandwagons

I’m not referring to actual wagons hauling actual band members. I’m talking about groups of people who have decided to think the same way without due consideration of all the information. Humans have a natural tendency to conform (fashions, fads, etc.) The few real non-conformists get the label “eccentric,” and summarily dismissed. That label applied to my father who always thought for himself. He was a curmudgeon with few friends, but he called it as he saw it (even if the way he saw it was screwed up). His main fault was making up his mind so solidly that it took a charge of dynamite to loosen him up to alternative thinking.

I especially notice the bandwagon effect expressed in blogs. For example, there are blogs where independent thinkers can express their independent thinking to other independent thinkers (bandwagons) and, in the process, lose their independence. Members of Political parties often confine themselves to party lines (bandwagons) instead of opening themselves up to other points of view. Members of certain religious groups are very often willing victims of “groupthink” (bandwagons) with their own special jargon. Atheists tend to stick together and parrot the current atheistic cant (bandwagons).

Bandwagons, I am thinking, come into being because people want to believe certain things and behave in particular ways rather than basing their personal philosophies and resulting actions on something substantial. Or, in the absence of substance, reserving their conclusions until they find it (it is, after all, okay not to have an opinion on everything).

While reading in the blogosphere, I notice that people who believe a certain way tend to read the blogs of others who believe the same way and merely applaud, cheer and conform to the thinking of the group. For them, “hopping on the bandwagon” becomes a convenient way to avoid thinking for themselves. Hats off to those brave and hardy souls who dare to disagree, challenge and debate those with whom they differ. We need to jump off our bandwagons and consider what others are saying. We might agree, disagree, challenge, debate, correct, suggest, applaud or, most important of all…learn.

My blogs:
Whitticisms: dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Discernment, Discussion, Faith, Ignorance, independence, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Skepticism, Theism, Thinking

The Universe: Two Perspectives

My wife and I enjoy reading and watching mysteries – you know, Agatha Christie, etc.  I like to watch the television versions with her because I often get lost in the details and she doesn’t.  I have to have things spelled-out in simple terms. “Okay, was it the long-lost cousin who showed up from Kenya who took the papers from the study in the dark of night or was it the daughter who stood to lose her inheritance?”  “Who done it,” is easy for her (and Miss Marple), difficult for me.  I have noticed I have to do this with most things.

I can’t claim to have always been a solid theist.  In my university days, I followed in the footsteps of my father and began my studies as an agnostic.  My professors reinforced that position since most of them were either atheist, agnostic or ambivalent on the matter of belief.  Thanks to a teacher who helped me to see there are two sides to the question of belief, I came down on the side of faith in a Creator.  It just seemed much more reasonable.  Still does.

In my life-long attempt to get things straight, I have looked long and hard at the ongoing debate between theists and atheists. I have begun to see that whether to believe or not believe is largely a matter of perspective. We are part of an amazing, spectacular, unfathomable, intricate universe.  Before we even consider our microscopic little blue planet, there are the stars orbited by uncountable planets, gathered into galaxies numbering in the multiplied millions.  Then there is our tiny island with the only life we are presently aware of.  Intricate complexity and design is increasingly evident as we delve into the subatomic realms. Are the complexity, intricacy, design and order we see the results of accidental, random yet unobservable processes?  Is life the outcome of chemical processes that we don’t yet understand? How do we account for all this?

As for me, this is how it all boils down: The theist looks at the universe and concludes there is no way this complexity, intricacy, design and order could happen by itself.  The atheist looks at all the complexity, intricacy, design and order and concludes that it did indeed happen by itself. Two perspectives – which one makes more sense to you?

My blogs:
Whitticisms: dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Persuasion, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism

Sir John Carew Eccles, Believer

“People who believe in God are ignorant and superstitious.  Intelligent, educated people do not believe in God.” Perhaps you have read or heard such nonsense spouted by the so-called “new atheists.”  This is an ignorant and arrogant falsehood.  From time to time in this blog, I will feature quotations from highly respected scientists (many Nobel Prize winners) who are solid theists.  Hopefully, such information will put to rest such misinformed arguments among open-minded readers.

Consider Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles.  Sir John was an Aussie, born in Melbourne in 1903 and died in 1997.  More information can be found in Wickipedia and at Nobelprize.org.

Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of conflict is a result of ignorance.

We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence.

There has been a regrettable tendency of many scientists to claim that science is so powerful and all pervasive that in the not too distant future it will provide an explanation in principle for all phenomena in the world of nature, including man, even of human consciousness in all of its manifestations. [Karl] Popper has labeled this claim as promissory materialism, which is extravagant and unfulfillable.

Yet on account of the high regard for science, it has great persuasive power with the intelligent laity because it is advocated by the great mass of scientists who have not critically evaluated the dangers of this false and arrogant claim.

I regard this theory as being without foundation. The more we discover scientifically about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a superstition held by dogmatic materialists. It has all the features of a Messianic prophecy, with the promise of a future freed of all problems—a kind of Nirvana for our unfortunate successors.

We have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.

The amazing success of the theory of evolution has protected it from significant critical evaluation in recent times. However, it fails in a most important respect. It cannot account for the existence of each one of us as unique, self-conscious beings.

Thanks to John Clayton and Does God Exist? Quotes were downloaded from http://www.doesgodexist.org/MayJun10/Eccles-Nobel.html, 18 July 2010

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Bigotry, Culture Wars, Faith, Ignorance, Intelligence, Philosophy, Quotations, Religion, Science, Supernatural, Theism, Thinking

Atheists and Thinkers

“The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.”

— Albert Einstein [1]

Quotes from two atheists demonstrate an unattractive and arrogant elitism for which there is no credible reason.  Guy P. Harrison said, “…atheism is not a conscious act of turning away from all gods. It is simply the final destination for those who think.” Ernest Hemingway concurred, “All thinking men are atheists.” Many similar quotes from so-called “new atheists,” echo these sentiments.  Such statements are deluded, egocentric and, with all due respect, stupid.  I define “stupid” as willful ignorance.  I suppose we have all been stupid from time to time, but such statements qualify since they are made in spite of facts to the contrary.

Perhaps a teeny history lesson is needed here.  Religious thinkers have existed in every age.  Historically, they laid the foundations for today’s science and philosophy and founded nations.  Can “thinkers” be “believers?”  Below, I provide a list of such people who, in the opinion of most, are “thinkers.”  For the sake of brevity, I have confined my list to the 20th and 21st Centuries.  These are men and women who, though some may not believe in a “personal God” have acknowledged a “higher power.”  To this power they attribute some role in the design and creation of the universe and the origin of life.

Winston Churchill

Helen Keller

Albert Einstein

R. Buckminster Fuller

Leo Tolstoy

Wernher Von Braun

Francis Collins

C. S. Lewis

Ravi Zacharias

John Lennox

Lord Kelvin

Max Planck

Simone Weil

Arthur Compton

Freeman Dyson

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

Karl Barth

Hans Kung

Edith Stein

G. K. Chesterton

Gertrude Himmelfarb

William Lane Craig

Francis Schaeffer

Nelson Mandela

Dallas Willard

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rudolf Bultmann

Antony Flew

Reinhold Niebuhr

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  But the question remains: were these men and women thinkers or not? Of course, a similar list could be compiled for atheist thinkers.  But, then again, I would not be so blind and bold to say otherwise.  It is estimated that 40% of working scientists are believers.  Yes, they are a minority, but a large one.  But here’s the pertinent query: can they do science without thinking? I think not.

Will this tiny article put a stop to such foolishness?  Not if those who make such inane statements continue to ignore the facts.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Those who disparage theists for believing in God without evidence ignore ample, overwhelming evidence.  Off the cuff, I can only think of five reasons for such statements:

  1. They can’t handle the inconvenient truth.
  2. They have invented their own exclusive standards and definitions for “thinkers.”
  3. They arbitrarily decide that theists can get lucky sometimes but can’t really think.
  4. They believe they have a corner on intelligence.
  5. They need to get out more.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

You can read about more theist thinkers here and here.


[1] Goldman, Robert N., Einstein’s God—Albert Einstein’s Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (Joyce Aronson Inc.; Northvale, New Jersy; 1997).


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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Bigotry, Culture Wars, Faith, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Religion, Ridicule, Science, Theism, Thinking

Dawkins at it Again

Richard Dawkins is again venting his spleen at believers, this time in a contribution to the Washington Post, “Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology”.  You can read it here.  Dr. Dawkins sees the Haitian earthquake, no matter how tragic and heartbreaking, as an opportunity to shake up theists.  I don’t know who he is trying to convince but “Darwin’s Rottweiler” is certainly not out to “…win friends and influence people.”

He mainly has his dander up at folks who are calling earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters acts of God’s judgment.  Well, they make me angry too but I’m not ready to throw a blanket of condemnation over every believer for the sins (oops!, I mean “mistakes”) of the few.  But why am I expecting a Rottweiler to be reasonable?  However, dear reader, you may be open to some alternative thoughts.  So, I have chosen five points from his article to address.

  1. “The religious mind…restlessly seeks human meaning in the blind happenings of nature.” We do?  Wow…I didn’t know that!  To the best of my memory I don’t believe I, or any other theist of my acquaintance has sought to assign human meaning to natural disasters.  We do, however, allow such events to remind us of the brevity and vulnerability of human life.
  2. He assures us that the embarrassing Pat Robertson is the “true Christian,” and true to the Bible.  I’m not quite sure how God looks at Mr. Robertson but, of all people, Dawkins would seem to be the least qualified to judge the Christianity of anyone.  He really doesn’t like any of us and has made no secret of his disdain.  Additionally, he calls those of us who oppose Robertson and distance themselves from him, “hypocrites.”  Well, I wonder if Dr. Dawkins endorses all the statements and positions of his fellow-atheists?  What does he think of his wild-eyed atheist friends who, in the name of reason and science make outrageous statements?  Nietzsche and O’Hair come to mind.  Will the real hypocrite please stand up?
    In another place he refers to Robertson’s “hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance.”  According to the records, Robertson has a pretty good education which has not served him very well in many of his public statements.  This should prove, Doctor Dawkins, that degrees have very little to do with making sense.
  3. He says we Christians see God as “suffering on the cross” in the ruins of Port Au Prince.  Not me, Richard, or any fellow-believer I know.  Such a notion is certainly not the “centerpiece” of my theology.  It is true that Jesus, in the most supreme act of love and grace came to make atonement for the sins of mankind.  But he came for so many other reasons as well.  I have a list if anyone’s interested.
    And, by the way, how does he know our anguish is “faux?”  Could it be he has some supernatural powers he so eloquently deplores?
  4. And you gotta love this next one, “Where was God in Noah’s flood?  He was systematically drowning the entire world…as punishment for ‘sin’.  Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were being consumed with fire and brimstone?  He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry…as punishment for ‘sin’.  Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with ‘sin’ with punishment and with atonement.” It is interesting that Mr. Dawkins cites these supposedly fictitious events perpetrated by a non-existent God upon mythical populations and cities.  Since we are referring to these “myths,” is he aware of the behavior of the people in both cases?  Is he aware of the century Noah spent seeking to persuade his fellow men, whose “…every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time,” to turn from their evil and save themselves?  Is he aware of the total depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah’s populations?  Maybe he should re-read the accounts (if he has read them at all) and tell me who was obsessed with sin.  To those aware of the whole story, his ignorant comments loudly proclaim, “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
  5. He informs us that our “…entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for ‘sin’ – or suffering as ‘atonement’ for it…” To celebrate suffering we Christians certainly seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to alleviate it.  The high count of Christian organizations struggling to ease the suffering of the Haitian people is no “celebration”, Richard.

I have a few suggestions for Dr. Dawkins:

  1. Try to make informed diatribes.  Your ignorance negates your reasoning.
  2. Be nice.  Arrogant, elitist intellectuals have a terrible track record of persuasion.
  3. Avoid hasty generalizations.  Lumping all religious people together so you can more easily squash them may sell books and make money but it doesn’t make sense.
  4. Avoid silly, inflammatory catch-words like “Palinesque.” and theological terms like “theodicean.”  These may reflect your elitist, intellectual self-perception but the guys in the oilfield won’t “get it.”

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