The Mother of Atheism

moonWhen the Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk died in 2012, thousands of Cambodians swore they saw him in the moon. They believed his face literally appeared in the moon.

I remember once teaching Buddhist monks in Cambodia some English. I had finished explaining what the word millennium means. I said that we are now living in the third millennium according to the western calendar. I said that in the future we will have a 4th millennium, a 5th millennium, a sixth, etc… One of my students then said, “Oh, we will have come back many times by then.” He was referring to reincarnation of course.

Approximately 95% of Cambodians are Buddhist. Before Buddhism, Hinduism dominated in Cambodia. Cambodians don’t practice Buddhism at the same level. Some practice it very little. Some dedicate their whole lives to it, the monks for example.

However, you won’t find western-style atheism in Cambodia, or any country like it. The conditions necessary for atheism to flourish simply don’t exist in a culture which does not believe in a logical, reasonable, predictable Creator.

Science, as we know it today, was born in the Christian world. Christianity is the mother of science. The purpose of science is to study the physical universe, discover predictable patterns, and then use that knowledge to make life better for humanity. The first scientists were able to adopt this method due to the fact that they believed nature was predictable because it was created by a logical God. Modernism was based on the belief that we could know and understand how the universe works and manipulate the physical world to our advantage. As belief in God dwindled in the western world Post-Modernism rose. Post-Modernists are suspicious of absolutes: absolute truth and absolute patterns.

Atheism was born in the west when people began to believe that God could be understood with the same scientific methods used to understand the physical universe. Of course that does not work. How can you measure the One who created the universe as though He were a product of the universe? Atheists demand that God be scientifically provable.

Christian apologists, therefore, knowing that they can’t prove God scientifically, will turn to non-physical things to prove God: morality, consciousness, love, truth, goodness, and beauty. Morality, for example, is difficult to account for in a survival-of-the-fittest evolutionist world.

Christianity then, being the mother of science, is also the mother of Atheism. The belief in a logical and reasonable God gives us the ability to think likewise. But, when one steps off the foundation of God, and makes logic and reason the new foundation, disbelief in God arises. Unfortunately though, as the disbelief in God increases, the ability to think logically and reasonably decreases.

I’ve noticed that the militant atheism so popular ten years ago is being replaced with a much softer version today. Those outspoken atheists of the past are realizing the insanity which is taking over much of the field they liked to play in before. Gay marriage, for example, was widely accepted by atheists, but the new gender issues of today are not. If you look at popular Atheist Youtube creators you’ll notice their recent videos are much more anti-SJW compared to their older videos which are more anti-Christian/religion. Scroll down on Pat Condell’s videos for example.

This video is another good example…

It should come as no surprise to atheists that, as their own ability to think logically and reasonably is a direct result of Christianity, a rejection of Christianity is also a rejection of logic and reason. The evidence of that is all around in the insane social issues which plague western culture today.

Christian morality/logic/reason has been the immune system to the world’s evils in the past centuries, but as Christianity itself is rejected, that same morality/logic/reason is becoming an autoimmune disease. Hopefully people come to their senses sooner rather than later.

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Some Atheist Brief Book Reviews

19280426All God Worshippers Are Mad 

A short and stupid book. I give it one star out of five because it was only $1.99 on Kindle. I can’t decide if the book was written for 12 year olds, or if it was written by a 12 year old. For example… His first argument against God is basically summed up as: “In order for God to create the space/time universe, God’s existence can’t depend on space/time. My human brain can’t comprehend that. Therefore there is no God. Booyah!”

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Why I Believed 

He’s got a couple of decent Dostoevsky-type arguments against faith/God, but most of what he says follows a “I just don’t want to believe anymore” kind of thinking. Christianity is a faith which requires engagement. If you choose not to engage it you will grow cold towards it.

 

4420281Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes 

I’ll come back to this book for the language sections. Everett is a talented linguist. He had no business being a missionary though. I don’t think he ever fully understood what Christianity is. His descriptions of the faith show he never moved beyond a Sunday-school understanding of it.

 

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God Needs to Go 

It’s hard to get into one of these books when it starts out with a straw-man argument; which this book does. In fact, this book is one straw-man after another — falsely representing Christianity and then attacking that false representation.

He makes a couple good points against prayer (or, what I would call the misuse of prayer).

Atheists often argue that morality is based on the evolved sense of the common good. While that might be true for economy, it is not true for morality. Morality is not the same across the world. A westerner being accepting of a transgender person is doing so because he believes it is loving to do so. That belief of loving acceptance stems directly from Christian morality. A Buddhist in Thailand who is accepting of a transgender person is not doing so out of love; his acceptance and noninterference is based on karmic justice. A Buddhist would be less inclined to help the poor for that very same reason, whereas a westerner would be more inclined to help the poor based on Christian morality.

The author states: “Except for certain religiously based societies, many of the secular nations display a sense of right and wrong that has allowed them advance in a positive way.” (page 23) “Certain religiously based societies” — every society is a religiously based society, including the ‘post-Christian’ west. A society’s morality is tied to its predominant religion. This is not hard to see. Western morality is based on Christianity, absolutely. If you don’t see that, you just need to do some travelling. A Buddhist nation’s morality is based on Buddhism. The same is true for Hindu and Muslim nations. If a person born and raised in a Buddhist nation becomes an atheist, his morality will still be based on Buddhism. (Although, Buddhism as a religion lacks the conditions to create atheists — which is a whole other interesting topic. Western atheism would not exist if it weren’t for Christianity.)

Then there are the usual arguments about slavery and God’s wrath and so forth. If you want to understand those issues in the Bible you have to understand two very important things: covenant and holiness. If you don’t get those two things, you won’t get the Bible.

And there are the attacks on biblical prophesy. Jesus said certain things about His return that supposedly didn’t happen. Well, there are plenty of books on eschatology to explain that. But if you’re not willing to study it out, then there’s nothing more to say. Reading Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14 will get you well on your way to understanding what Jesus said when prophesying about Himself.

Sufficient Evidence: Empirically Impossible

Recently I posted this quote on my Facebook page:

“…socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth but to set up Heaven on earth.”*

A socialist atheist got upset by the quote and felt the need to reply, which went something like this:

Socialism is not atheistic! There is no god and we just want to create a society where all are taken care of. If there is a god then provide sufficient evidence. Until then stop wasting my time!

Forgetting the fact that his response confirmed the truth of the quote, and forgetting the fact that he was the one wasting my time by responding and demanding an explanation, I thought, “What would be sufficient evidence?”

Because, of course, empirically speaking, there is no sufficient evidence to prove God. Even if Jesus were to appear in the sky above this guy’s house and cry out with a loud voice, “I am Jesus! I am God! I created the universe!” my Facebook friend would still be left with the choice of wether to believe what he saw was real or not. And if he’s predisposed not to believe then he will probably explain away the experience as something natural. 

“It is not miracles that dispose realists (or empiricists) to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognized by him. Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith. If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to admit the miraculous also. The Apostle Thomas said that he would not believe till he saw, but when he did see he said, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Was it the miracle forced him to believe? Most likely not, but he believed solely because he desired to believe and possibly he fully believed in his secret heart even when he said, ‘I do not believe till I see.'”**

Now, as for socialism, I’ll leave that for another day. Until then, read anything on economics by Thomas Sowell. 

* Dostoevsky, Fydor, The Brothers Karamazov (Barnes & Noble: New York, 2004 [1879-1880]), pg. 32.

** Ibid., pg. 31.

What did Dostoevsky mean by comparing socialism with Babel, and why did he then contrast socialism with Babel in saying that socialism strives to bring Heaven to earth (whereas at Babel they were trying to get to Heaven)?

Bastardized Christianity

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A new worldview which exists in the west these days is something called New Atheism. The main proponents are Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, and others like them.

New Atheists tend to believe that their worldview was created in a vacuum — that, in and of itself, it formed from nothingness and exists as a stand-alone philosophy on life.

Atheism is nothing new. Simple atheism has been around probably as long as simple religion has been around. But New Atheism is something different. It is a completely reactionary phenomenon.

New Atheism is a reaction to Christianity; it can not exist without Christianity; it carries with it many of the attributes of Christianity.

We can look at three attributes of New Atheism…

  1. Morality — New Atheists are very moral. They want fairness and equality. They care about the under-dog.
  2. Hope for a better future — New Atheists believe that, through natural evolution and social programs, life can and will get better for humanity.
  3. Evangelism — New Atheists believe that all must adopt their worldview in order to “save mankind.”

These three attributes can only be found previously in Christianity (and before that, Judaism). In no other religion will you find the moral concern for people that you find in Christianity. In no other religion will you find the concept of life getting better on a linear timeline. No other religion evangelizes.*

There is a belief that the world drastically changed in the 18th century. To some extent that may be true. But to the New Atheist, the 18th century is when humanity’s eyes were finally opened to the truth. The darkness of the past was swept away by the shining lights of science and reason. For the Christian, the darkness of the world was swept away two thousand years ago with the advent of Jesus Christ.

In the days of Jesus, when a new king came to power, heralds (called euaggelistēs in Greek, or evangelist in English) would proclaim this good news (or euaggelion in Greek) to all the people.** It was good news if you previously supported this king. It might not have been good news if you opposed him. But, if you had opposed him, you were give a chance to turn away (repent) from your previous allegiances and commit your loyalty to the new king.

New Atheists  believe that the event of the euaggelion occurred in the 18th century, and are very frustrated at the fact that not everyone has pledged their allegiance to the new prevailing  order.

With the euaggelion comes a hope for a better future. In Christianity, the belief is that, because Jesus is now king, the world will be restored to a state of purity with freedom, love, and eternal life.

The New Atheists also believe that humanity is progressing to a better existence, and that this will be brought about by our continued evolution, both in the natural sense and the social sense. The problem with this is that there is no reason to believe that humans will evolve into anything better than what we are currently. Suppose some natural disaster happens, limiting the food supply, drastically changing the environment, and only the physically strongest and those who have no problem with killing survive? What would humanity evolve into then? Back to apes?

Most of the world’s religions in the past, and the present, view time as cyclical. Life just keeps on going with no change, around and around forever. Only in Judaism and Christianity will you find a hope for a better future coming to pass on a linear timeline. This idea is now found in New Atheism.

Westerners love Buddhism. They love the peace and the meditation practices and whatnot. But all you have to do is spend some time living in a Buddhist country and you’ll see what it really is. Buddhists suppress emotion, they don’t control it, they suppress it — and as a result, there can be some unexplained, unpredictable violent outbursts. Buddhists do not help the poor. The poor are poor because of karma. They deserve it. To try to relieve them from poverty is to go against karmic fate. This is the morality of Buddhism. Only in Christianity and Judaism will you find a moral duty to help the poor, the under-dog, and the suffering.

New Atheists hold to the very same moral structure that Christians do, they just don’t know where they got it from.

As we can see above, New Atheism is defined by Christianity. All of its main attributes come from Christianity. New Atheism would not have arisen in a Buddhist culture. It is entirely a reaction to Christianity.

Another misconception of New Atheism is the belief that Christianity, and all other religions, are an attempt to explain the natural world, and now that we have science to do that, there’s no reason for anyone to continue to hold on to religion.  But no religious people throughout human history saw their religious beliefs in this way. In fact, not all religions, Buddhism for example, even believe in a creator.

So where did New Atheism come from? As I write above, it came from within Christianity itself. Who were the fathers? It was all those who, while still believing in God, figured that they could explain God with reason. They brought God, who is outside our universe, and pulled Him into our world, into a lab, and tried to study and define Him. They took reason itself off of the foundation of God, gave it its own foundation, and from there began to critique God. That was the birth on New Atheism.

It’s like a man, being born blind, taking the whole visible world, with all its colours, and limiting it to his own confining senses. If he doesn’t know he’s blind, he won’t know he’s doing anything wrong. Taking reason off of the foundation of God is like gouging our own eyes out, and then erasing our memories of anything we once saw.

I, as a Christian, of course cannot help but criticize New Atheism, but there are atheists who do so as well:

The Atheist Delusion by John Gray

The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins by John Gray

Know Nothing: The True History of Atheism by Michael Robbins

* Muslims do not evangelize. The definition of the word implies “good news” and that’s not what Muslims proclaim. Muslims proselytize. Christians proselytize too, but only in conjunction with evangelism.

** The Greek words euaggelion and euaggelistēs both have the prefix eu (pronounced ‘you’) which means “joyful.” The second part of the word, aggelion (pronounced ‘ang-ghelion’) means messenger or message and is where the English word “angel” comes from.

Simply Good News by N.T. Wright (Brief Book Review)

Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It GoodSimply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good by N.T. Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wright starts off by defining the word gospel (good news) as how it would mean to first century people. For many today the gospel is good advice (believe this and you’ll go to heaven when you die) rather than good news. But, the gospel really is news, and that’s how we should present it.

The good news is that Jesus has become king and He is now restoring the world. He’s not going to whisk us all away to heaven and destroy the world. Jesus started this restoration at the cross and will complete it at the last day. N.T. Wright uses an example of a Roman emperor defeating his enemy and taking power. The news of this would be good to all who support this emperor, and they would be happy to hear that he was now in charge. But first, the emperor would have to consolidate his power before taking his throne. So, the good news of his coming to power would include both something that had happened (the defeat of his enemy) and something that would happen (his coming full rule).

We today are living in that between time. Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross, and now His enemies are being put under His feet, and He will one day come and complete the work He has begun of building His kingdom on earth.

Wright also discusses misunderstood concepts people have today about God (and His anger), sin, hell, eschatology, atonement, creation, covenant, rationalism, and romanticism.

I highly recommend this one.

An excerpt…

Most people who regard the statement that Jesus died in your place as the center of the gospel place this truth, this beautiful fragment, into a larger story that goes like this. There is a God, and this God is angry with humans because of their sin. This God has the right, the duty, and the desire to punish us all. If we did but know it, we are all heading for an eternal torment in hell. But this angry God has decided to vent his fury on someone else instead — someone who happens to be completely innocent. Indeed, it is his very own son! His wrath is therefore quenched, and we no longer face that terrible destiny. All we have to do is believe this story and we will be safe. That is the reconstructed scene offered in many churches, sermons, and books. It is not completely wrong. But as it stands, it is deeply misleading. It distorts the very thing it is trying to frame. It takes the truth that Jesus died in your place and puts it in the wrong context. It does indeed make some sense there. But this is not the same sense that it would make if you put it the right context. This, in anyone’s account, is near the heart of what the early Christians meant by the good news. Since it is also, clearly, near the heart of what many Christians today understand by the good news, it is important that we sort this out.
~Page 68 or Location 976 (Kindle)

* You can take an online course on this book taught by N.T. Wright for (I think) $29USD.
Click here for that.

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