Category Archives: Atheism/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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Tiger

“Those birds can’t make up their minds whether to fly north or south,” he said as I was walking to my table in the coffee shop, “…they’re going around in circles.”

Thus began a strange and confusing conversation with a man who calls himself “Tiger.”  He was out of the Army as a combat engineer but apparently had not seen combat.  He was now at loose ends, living out of his car and delivering pizzas in the evenings.  He was not completely broke since he was in a coffee shop but was about to leave for a bookstore where they served free coffee.

I asked him where he was from and he said, “Baytown.”  But it turns out that he was from all over Texas and elsewhere.  In short order I learned that he suffered from bone loss, damaged ligaments in his right arm and several industrial injuries.  He had been married twice, had three children and had lost another son to murder.

“I consider myself a professional singer,” he told me at least twice.  He had sung with several bands but it didn’t work out because he wouldn’t sing songs by Judas Priest for moral reasons.  Nevertheless, he had tried to be an alcoholic like the rest of his band but was thwarted by an allergic reaction to alcohol.

Finally, I questioned him about his journey of faith.  He had started out as an atheist because “something really bad” had happened to him and he decided there could not be a God.  Then “another really bad thing happened” to him and he nearly died.  He decided then there must really be a God because “He let me live.”

I asked him if he had been baptized.  “Oh yes…several times,” he said.

“Several times?” I asked.

“Yep.  Several times in different names…Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and in the name of Jesus only.”

“When I was seventeen I got the Holy Ghost at a Pentecostal church.  But then I noticed how the church people were treating others,” and even though he didn’t lose faith in God, he lost faith in churches.  Now he’s an attender of churches but member of none.

As the conversation continued, it was clear that Tiger’s mind is as confused as his life.  As we talked, different, disconnected details kept emerging.  “I try to forget the past, and press on to the future just like the Bible says.”

When I asked him about the future he told me he wanted to be a mercenary with the Israelis but he was vague about when and where.  “I don’t think I can kill anyone,” he said, “but I can hand bullets to those who will.”

What will happen to the Tigers of this life?  Is he destined to wander aimlessly taking life as it comes for good or ill just like those birds flying in circles?  What will be the eternal destiny of those like him?  I honestly don’t know.  But maybe I was not there for him.  Maybe I encountered Tiger so I could count my blessings.  I left the coffee shop in my old, but trusty car I’ve never had to spend the night in.  I drove to my comfortable home to eat a nutritious breakfast.  I sat down in my comfortable chair at my computer to write this article.  Later on I will talk with my beloved wife of 48 years.  Today I will be doing meaningful and purposeful work in the kingdom.  Thank you, Lord and thank you, Tiger.  Point well taken.

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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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The Christian Difference – 4

A Pilgrimage Mentality

Research by George Barna and others exposes a sad truth: very few differences distinguish Christians from their fellow-humans. To be blunt, those called-out from the world look a great deal like it.  These articles (of which this is No. 4) are ones man’s effort to review ways in which Christians can be in the world but not of it.

In the beginning, Jesus taught his followers to be visibly different in ways that would bring glory to God[1].  These are not mere distinctions in speech and dress even though as modesty and civility decline, Christians increasingly look, act and speak differently.  As the surrounding darkness deepens, the contrast sharpens.[2] We are unique because we have a pilgrimage mentality. This world is not our home.

Christians are different because our heart, and thus our treasures, are elsewhere.  We are strangers, aliens and pilgrims on the earth.[3]

Western Christians are well-supplied physically.  With some tragic exceptions, we have adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, transportation and medical care.  Still, this ball of dirt and rock is not our home.  We are in transit, on a journey, a pilgrimage; camping here and there, but always seeking a better country.[4]

Some see death as the final destination.  Richard Dawkins writes, “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.”[5] Yes, we do teach this “dangerous” truth.  Christians see death as the depot from which we catch the train for eternity.  All human souls are destined to depart this earth, one way or another.  Christians know this, and have sent their treasures ahead of them for deposit in a place where it can’t rust or rot.

This pilgrim state of mind distinguishes us from those who have no such hope.[6] When a faithful loved one dies, our mourning is tempered by belief that we shall meet again.  When we suffer, we look forward to a healthy, tearless, painless existence after death.  When we weep, we anticipate a place free of sorrow and tears.  Furthermore, since our real treasures are elsewhere, mature Christians place little emphasis on the material.  We try to be content with what we need and no more.[7] Our materially rich brothers and sisters are compassionate and generous.[8]

As beautiful and comfortable as this world is, it is not our home.  Brenda and I love “Charamon,” our earthly home in Abilene.  We have all that we need at Charamon.  We have a place to work, to extend hospitality, big trees, and a huge vegetable garden.  We also love Australia…that sunburnt country and its people.  We have sweet memories there, in many ways our heart is there.  But these places, as beloved as they are, are not our eternal home.  That means our heart resides elsewhere, that our treasures are with our heart in that other place.

We also contemplate the destiny of our fellow-humans.  It is important to us that all men and women have a chance to hear the good news of a better place and a better way of life.  This is why we try to talk to you about Jesus.  We know that, through Him, you can have an abundant, fulfilled life and sweet anticipation of eternal life.  We hope you’ll join our pilgrimage.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2)


[1] Matthew 5:13-16

[2] 1 Peter 4:4

[3] Matthew 6:19-21

[4] Hebrews 11:13-16

[5] Richard Dawkins, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (September 15, 2001)

[6] Ephesians 4:13

[7] I Timothy 6:3-10

[8] I Timothy 6:17-19

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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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Enemies Within

trojan-horse-from-troy-the-movieBrethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things (Ephesians 3:17-19).

The most effective enemies are those of which we are unaware…the ones we fail to recognize as enemies.  In our subconscious we probably already know some entities are not helping the cause of Christ; that they are, indeed, major hindrances.  They are hindering enemies especially because we have become familiar and comfortable with them.  It is much like making a pet of a tiger.  We pet them, feed them, love them…and then one day, they have us by the throat.  They are attitudes, actions and situations that divert us from truly following Christ.  The world notices and these same diversions become hindrances to unbelievers and ammunition for anti-Christian activists.  And here is the kicker: so often, we shoot ourselves in the foot (pun intended).  This is a post that hopefully will challenge us to do some thinking about who and what our enemies are.  As usual, your comments, pro and con, are welcomed.

Striving for Acceptance

It’s not easy being different.  And yet, being different is part of our Christian walk.  We are different from the world not because we try to be but because following Christ separates us from those who aren’t.  Sadly, many who claim to be Christians lie, cheat and steal just like their worldly counterparts.  But the similarities don’t end there.  Too often our values and ambitions are the same as those outside of Christ.  To place our hope in riches, to ignore injustice, to place comfort above compassion and status above service proves we are still of the world.  Here’s the truth: the way of Christ runs counter to the ways of the world.  Never forget it. Continue reading

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Intelligent Design

MaynardSmithI would really like to know who gathered the following information but it is really by our old friend “Anonymous.”  According to atheists, life is the result of a series of propitious accidents and random mutations that just happen to be beneficial.  If they take the time to read this, they will attribute each example of intelligent design to unintelligent processes.  Whatever your belief or lack of it, this is pretty good food for thought.

God’s accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs.  For example,

  • The eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
  • Those of the canary in 14 days;
  • Those of the barnyard hen in 21 days.
  • The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
  • Those of the mallard in 35 days.
  • The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.

(Notice, they are all divisible by seven).

God’s design is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other Quadruped is so made.  God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs.

  • For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.
  • The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first.
  • A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.

God’s wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!

  • Each watermelon has an even number of strips on the rind.
  • Each orange has an even number of segments.
  • Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
  • Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
  • Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number.
  • All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks

The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.

God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified  times during the day, so that Linneus, the great botanist, once  said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil,  moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night  by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

Design is evident.  Design requires a designer.

Many have decided not to believe and that is certainly their prerogative.  For myself, I choose to believe in a Creator.  Too much of what I see is inexplicable without Him.

In Romans 1 Paul writes, “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…”

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