An article recently came out in the Huffington Post concerning “5 reasons” to be an atheist. Below are responses to his points.
Claim 1. “The Bible is ridiculous.”
“Have you read the Bible?”
Yes, I have. I studied it initially as literature in college. But he truth of the matter is that the Bible was a “closed” book to me until I gave my life to the Lord. I then began to understand it, as the Lord began to speak to me through His Word.
Why is this the case? As I began to read the Bible, I found that it described itself as a “spiritual book”, that is intended to be read with “spiritual eyes”. If fact, the Bible says of itself that its words are “spiritual”, and they must be understood with the help of God’s Spirit.
Now, to your point about eh Bible being “ridiculous”. If the Bible is so ridiculous, then it is the most widely read, best seller of all time. Why is it so successfully, and so unique? It is a collection of 66 books, written by inspired authors, over a period of 4,000 years. It is history, poetry, allegory – penned by people who were moved by God’s Spirit to record His words. David wrote much of the Psalms when he was distraught, and being stalked by Saul. Moses recorded the Exodus. The prophets recorded what God had spoken to them, sharing God’s word with the people.
It is interesting that the Bible itself states that the “natural man” will not understand it, since its words are “spiritual” in nature. He will naturally consider it “foolish”:
1 Cor 2:14: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
I find it ironic that this ‘natural’ man is just fulfilling what the Bible claims about itself.
“I mean really read it and not just flip around to the pages that your religious leader told you to or watched some mini-series on television telling you their version of the stories. I don’t know why, but those shows always leave out the best parts. Where are the zombies? When Jesus is crucified on the cross the Bible says that there were earthquakes and zombies (Matthew 27:50-53).”
As a matter of fact, there is scientific evidence that indeed there was an earthquake about the time of Jesus’ crucifiction. Here is a link to the scientific evidence and research done on this topic:
Biblical Archeology Society – April 4, 2012 – According to the Gospel of Matthew, an earthquake shook Jerusalem on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. A new study of cores and seismic activity near the Dead Sea in the latest issue of International Geology Review* may provide scientific data relating to the event described in Matthew 27. Moreover, some have suggested**that the new research on sediment disturbances can be combined with Biblical, astronomical and calendrical information to give a precise date of the crucifixion: Friday, April 3rd, 33 C.E.
The Gospel of Matthew describes an earthquake during Jesus’ Crucifixion. Sediment disturbances mentioned in a recent article in the International Geology Review points to the Biblical earthquake and may give a concrete date of the crucifixion. Painting by James Jacques Tissot.
Read the full article at Biblical Archeology Society: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/crucifixion/jesus’-crucifixion-reflected-in-soil-deposition/
As far as raising people from the dead, if there really is a God Almighty who created the universe, and who holds all things together by His power, then it is no big deal that He should raise some people from the grave and cause an earthquake to happen when His Son – His one and ONLY Son that He sent into the world to save human kind – was sacrificed to save them.
“What television producer in their right mind would leave out the most interesting part of the story?”
If you know the Bible, they left out – and added – plenty of parts. It was their way of telling the story of the Bible. All considering, they weren’t too far off the mark.
“The thing is that the Bible is filled with this stuff like when God sent two bears to maul 42 children for calling a guy, “bald” (2 Kings 2:23-24). Unfortunately, aside from the surprisingly large number of hilariously ridiculous stories like these, the Bible is pretty boring and that is probably why so few religious believers have ever actually read it. Let me just say this: There is a reason why the Bible is the most recommended book by atheists. That reason is because it is boredom peppered with ridiculousness.”
The Bible is a collection of books written over thousands of years, amazing in its diversity, but also in its unity. Calling the Bible ridiculous just doesn’t hold water – for if that were true, it would have perished long ago. The fact is that the Bible is the most widely read, biggest seller of all time. It does contain history, but also poetry, psalms, books of wisdom, and an amazing amount of prophecy.
It is true that some things baffle the natural man – how could, for example, cause a donkey to talk? Or how could a man walk on water? Or rise from the dead? These things are impossible, says the natural man! “But with God, all things are possible” (Jesus). The Bible has recorded many facts of history that were long disputed by historians – until archeological evidence proved the Bible true. Examples: The fact of the Hittite empire, referred to in the Bible, but once doubted by “historians”; The existence of a King David, now corroborated by archeological evidence. And yes, the “Shroud of Turin” – which many believe, on good evidence, to be the burial cloth of Jesus.
The Bible is also an amazing book of prophecy, unlike any other. Hundred of prophecies have already come true, and may more are yet to be fulfilled! Read more here on the reliability of the Bible: http://www.evidencetobelieve.net/reliability_of_the_bible.htm
“Claim 2. We don’t need no stinkin’ deities.
Ever since the enlightenment, religions have been fighting a losing battle against science. God has moved more and more to the gaps of human understanding. There was a time when if humanity didn’t know the answer to one of life’s questions, then God was that answer. That time apparently is still the present but fortunately, science is learning more and more answers. Interestingly enough, God seems to be the answer to less and less questions.”
This is referred to a “scientism”, or the worship of science (with a capital S). In fact, many of the greatest scientists in history were believers in a Creator, and they considered the practice of science to be an adventure in discovery of that Creator– learning more and more about the wonderful world that He had made. Galallio, Blaise Pascal, Faraday, Sir Issac Neuton to name a few. Today, many top scientists are also believers – Francis Collins, for example, headed up the Human Genome Project, to map the genetic structure of humans (former head of the National Institute of Health). If you want to read about other scientists who are also believers, please visit http://biologos.org/ There is no conflict or contradiction between science and belief in an Almighty God. If anything, modern science lends more and more support for an amazing, almighty Being that was the first cause of all things (seen and unseen), and who “by the power of His Word” holds all things together. For example, even now science is recognizing that things are composed of things that are seen (matter), and things that are not seen (dark matter).
“Evolution has explained human origin and the Big Bang explains the origin of the universe. So what role did God play?”
The “big bang” states that all matter, time and space had a point of origin about 14 billion years ago. In a singularity popularly called the “big bang”. This is one of the most proved theories in science – that everything we see, as well as time and the space around us, was created out of nothing 14 some billion years ago. And science has also discovered that the universe is continuing to expand from this initial point.
Interestingly enough, the Bible also begins by stating the “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (in Hebrew, this means the cosmos). So the Bible and science are not in conflict here. In fact, science supports what the Bible has already claimed for thousands of years.
As we learn more about evolution and the universe, God’s role will no doubt get even more marginalized.
I disagree. In fact, the more we discover through science, the more amazed we are, and the MORE reasons we have to believe in a Creator and Lord of all. The discovery of DNA, for example, is strong evidence for a “designer”. The chances that DNA programming for living things is the produce of blind, Darwiniam evolution, it nil. As Bill Gates once remarked, DNA is a “program”. And where there is a program, there is a “programmer”. That programmer I s what we call “God”, the author of all life.
“The fact is that there really is no role for a deity to play at all. We can just factor out the deity and come up with the same scientific answers.”
The role of a Creator God is becoming more and more apparent all the time, with each new discovery. If you look at the evidence – in nature, in the irreducible complexity of biological machines, in the DNA programming that all life, in the evidence for an initial creation event, today more than ever there is strong evidence to believe in a Creator God. If anything, modern scientific discoveries point ever more strongly at the role of an all powerful, make and sustainer of all things.
In fact, it takes MORE faith to be an atheist than to simply believe.
As far as evolution is concerned, this is a topic many don’t understand, atheists and believers alike. There is plenty of evidence for natural selection, and adaptation of species. There is micro evolution and macro evolution. So properly understood, there is plenty of evidence that living organisms adapt and survive. However, there is very little evidence that one species evolves into a more complex species of a different “kind”. But in any event, who is to say that this is not an instrument within the Creator’s grand design?
One thing evolution cannot explain very well at all is how the whole process got started. What created the first cell. In the 1800’s and earlier, most believed that “it just happened”. But no we know that that is impossible. Even a single cell is enormously complex.
The other challenge for macro evolution is how complex biological systems, or “biological machines”, can come about (read “Darwin’s Black Box”, by Michael Behe). There is a wonderful complexity and “design” in even the smallest bacteria, and the amazing “rotors” that propel even this smallest of creatures along.
Evolution has a tough time explaining how these biological machines evident throughout nature “accidentally” get assembled through unguided, chance driven Darwinism.
So macro evolutionary theory is not adequate to explain the origin of life, or complex life. That is why many scientists are looking at the evidence for Intelligent Design in nature, and coming to the conclusion that “God’s fingerprints” are evident throughout all of nature.
Its interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Romans, speaks about the fact that evidence of a Creator is “clearly seen” by the things which are made, so that humans are “without excuse” to believe in the Creator.
Romans 1:20: 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, so that they are without excuse.
“Claim 3. The Problem of Evil
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” — Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.)
Epicurus asked those questions a long time ago and we have yet to hear a valid response from religious leaders. My alleged “Free Will” doesn’t cause hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, nor does God’s alleged “justice” justify any of the horrible suffering and death that people face around the world on a daily basis.
The “problem of evil” is a difficult one, but the Bible offers the best explanation. According to the Bible, we live on a broken planet that has been plagued by “sin” – man’s rebellion against his Creator. This is not paradise that we are now living in. In fact, the Bible states that “all of creation” is growning in pain until the day when the Lord comes back to remake heaven and earth once again.
So God did create a “paradise” initially, but we screwed it up. And we continue to do so. Most of the evil is our own doing, or the result of the condition of a fallen planet. The good news is the “gospel” – that God, at the right time, came into our time-space continuum to become a man (JESUS), and sacrifice Himself to pay the penalty for our sins, and rise again (John 3:16).
One doesn’t have to go to Africa to see children starving needlessly. Did those kids offend God in some way? Perhaps those kids need to suffer horribly and die to teach us something important. That truly is egotistical, isn’t it? What about all the people who have cancer? Does God have his reasons for torturing them? I would very much like to know what those reasons could possibly be. The Problem of Evil continues to be a pretty good reason to be an atheist.
Pain and suffering are a reality in this broken planet, but it is faith and trust in God, through His Son Jesus, that gives millions hope every day. I know many physically healthy, wealthy people who are not happy. They are sick of life, and sadly without hope. Why? Because they were made for a relationship with their Creator, and they do not know Him. They have no idea why they are here, or what their purpose is. They live only fro themselves, and their selfish gains.
I also know people who are in pain, or sick and suffering, who have hope, and are very full of joy and life. Why? Because they know Him, and have that Zoe – or spiritual life – that comes not from the world, but from the Creator.
We live a short life, and as Jesus said, “in the world your will have tribulation, but take heart – I have overcome the world’. We have pain and suffering because we live in a broken planet – and everything – out bodies, natural systems – they are broke. But God one day will remake heaven and earth (Read Isaiah, and Revelation for example). Those who believe and trust in Him will become citizens of this new creation, and live forever with new, amazing bodies that will never grow old, and will be able to do amazing things. Those that don’t believe, and have rejected His pleases to believe and trust in Him, will be left out. Don’t be! Believe and trust in Him!
“Claim 4. Oh, Hell!
The concept of Hell is probably one of the most disturbing religious ideas ever conceived by man. It was great to strike fear in the hearts of evil doers back in the day, but today our morality has evolved quite a bit. We no longer view women as property nor do we consider slavery a valid business model. Most people recognize that torture is wrong and yet we are expected to believe that some deity will torture us for all eternity if we don’t believe he exists on insufficient evidence?
First of all, there is plenty of evidence He exists, as we have stated.
Second, it is true that this concept of hell has been distorted through the centuries (especially during the Middle Ages). Hell is eternal separation from God. The reason this was described as “fire” was to get people to realize that it IS real, horrible, and that you do NOT want to be eternally separated from God!
You actually were created to know Him, to discover His purpose and design for your life, and to have “life more abundantly” as a result (Jesus said this).
The reality is that there are only two kinds of people in life:
- Those that say to God, “thy will be done”
- Those to whom God says in the end “thy will be done”
As C.S. Lewis one said, those that will be in Heaven will be those that want God, and want to know Him more. Those that end up eternally separated from God are those that choose to be so. Our Lord is not going to force anyone to come to Him, or to love Him. We choose. He won’t violate that.
Many Christians in the 21st century have woken up to the fact that the concept of Hell is barbaric and these Christians, to their credit, don’t believe in the concept of Hell. That’s a great start. But Heaven is kind of Hell too when you think about it. That is especially the case if not everyone goes to Heaven and those who do have to live out eternity knowing that their loved ones are being eternally tortured. But assuming we all do go to Heaven regardless of our beliefs or lack of beliefs, than what do you do in Heaven? From what I understand, you sit around worshiping God for all eternity sometimes with a set number of virgins. I don’t know about you, but eternity seems like a pretty long time to me and worshiping some deity doesn’t sound like much fun, especially after all the virgins are gone.
As I stated earlier, the ideas around heaven and “hell” have many of their roots in the Middle ages, and now in the popular press.
But make no mistake, you are an eternal creation. “You” are not your body. “You” are an eternal soul. You “have” a body. And yes, God is love, but He is also just. He will see justice done in the end. The killers, child molesters, and other evil doers who have rejected God and done evil will pay with eternal separation from Him. They want no part of God, and that is exactly what they will get – for all eternity – no part of Him, for they want no part of Him. After your “soul” – you – leave this “tent” of a body, you will either be with your Creator, or apart from Him. As you will.
As far a virgins, etc., that has its roots in Islam. What the Bible says is “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those that love him”. The new heavens and new earth will be amazing, and those that have chosen Him will live in amazing “heavenly bodies” and have plenty to do, I am sure. You can bet on it.
Here is an article on “What is Heaven Like” to give you a bit more insight to what the Bible has o say about this: http://www.evidencetobelieve.net/what_is_heaven_like.htm
“Claim 5. You just don’t know.
Let’s face reality here for a moment. There is no valid evidence for any deities.”
Again, there is plenty of evidence for a Creator. Not for “deities”. And there is plenty of evidence for Jesus, whom He sent to live among us and bring us back into a relationship with Him.
For more reasons to beleive, go to Evidence to Believe: http://www.evidencetobelieve.net/
“If there were valid and compelling evidence, then we would all be on the same page. There wouldn’t be a million sects of each religion and there wouldn’t be a million different religions. There would be one sect of one religion and God would make his presence known to us in a way that was so obvious that it couldn’t be disputed.”
The reality is that there is a cosmic spiritual battle going on for the souls of humans. This is all recorded in the Bible, starting with Genesis. There is indeed a spiritual dimension that we can’t see, but that impacts our daily life in many subtle ways. Finally, there is an evil force loose in the world according to the Bible, one that is bent on humans not finding everlasting life. The enemy is doing his best to drag people away from coming to know the Lord.
One of his chief devices is to divide, confuse and hopefully separate people from know how much God loves then, sending His son Jesus to die for them and make a way back from them to the arms of God. The evil one hates every living creature, and God dearly love every single one of us.
“We would be able to see him, hear him, smell him, touch him, etc.”
That is why He became a Man called JESUS – so we could do just that. As it says in John, “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory”
JESUS – the God made man – walked among His creatures, for just 33 years. No other being who ever lived changed history the way He did. In fact, H split it in two – BC and AD.
There would be no atheists because we would have no choice but to believe. After all, he’s God and he could do that kind of thing. No, that doesn’t affect our alleged “Free Will.” I know that Kim Jung-Un exists, but you don’t see me worshiping him.
He will never give you so much evidence that you don’t need faith – for He wants us to trust Him, and to believe in Him. He has given us MORE than enough evidence to believe. Historical evidence, scientific evidence, archeological evidence, cosmological evidence, etc. But the Bible says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” All those that come to Him must come to Him by faith, trusting Him.
And that, my friend, is the problem many atheists have. They are so proud, they trust no one. As the Bible says, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”.
The fact is that we are all agnostics. We don’t know whether any deities exist. There is no evidence for the existence of any deities. There is no good reason to believe that any deities actually exist.
Incorrect. We are not all “agnostics”. An “agnostics” is not sure what he/she believes. They just don’t know” (the word “ag-gnosis” means no nothing). As Christian believers, we KNOW the Lord, because He lives inside our hearts every single day. We have objective evidence, but also a living, experience with our Living Lord. As Jesus, said we have been “born again” into new life. We are a “new creation” in Christ.
For more scientific evidence, check the web site “Reasons to Believe” http://www.reasons.org/
So without any valid reason to believe that any deities exist, I don’t believe any deities exist. You shouldn’t either. Because we are agnostic, we should also be atheists.
If you approach this question as a reasonable person, you have to conclude based on the evidence that it takes MORE faith to be an atheist, than to simply believe. To be an atheist, you have to …
– Ignore all of the scientific evidence that points to a creator of the universe (the first Cause, the Source of the Big Bang)
– Ignore the inherent design in biological machines, and in the very DNA that is the programming that runs all life
– Ignore all of the prophecies in the Bible, which predicted the birth of a Messiah for humankind – on the very day, no less
– Ignore the power of His love and grace, working in the lives of billions through the ages
– Claim to know more than an all-knowing God, for you have to exclude the possibility that a Creator God exists
Frankly, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. That is why I chose to believe in God, and invite His Son Jesus to come into my life, and make me a new creation. I am happy to say He did exactly that, and now I have a purpose for living, a hope for the future, and a place in Heaven that I will eventually end up at. Until then, I walk by faith in Him each day. I hope you will come to accept Him as well, and know the power and joy of His love.