atheism

...now browsing by tag

 
 

Important Debate

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. Kyle Butt of Apologetics Press will debate Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Mr. Barker is a popular author and has conducted over 60 debates.

To watch the live Webcast of the debate, go to the AP website (www.apologeticspress.org) and click on the link immediately beneath the Darwin Day Debate box.

Pray for Kyle. His is an important and formidable task. Who knows who might be watching? His arguments just might turn some struggling soul from the dark dead end of atheism to the light of Christ.

0901debateinfo

ABC’s Debate on Religion

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s debate with the Rational Response Squad (the group responsible for the “Blasphemy Challenge” on YouTube) is now running on ABC’s news website. I watched as much of it as I have time for, but early on it became clear that neither side was prepared for a discussion of the arguments for the existence of God.

Comfort started with the argument from design, a strong argument to be sure. He gave several effective illustrations, but then he moved on to two other “arguments” that were actually gospel sermons unconvincingly cloaked in science. Comfort feebly argued from the existence of morality, allowing the discussion to turn towards the Ten Commandments and sin. This was unfortunate because it left atheist Brian Sapient an open door for accusing his opponents of not honoring the terms of the debate. (Comfort asserted that he would prove God’s existence without mentioning faith or the Bible.) Last, Comfort gave a gospel sermon couched as an argument based on the power of conversion.

On the atheistic side Brian Sapient, spokesman for the Rational Response Side, brushed off the argument design by saying it was “full of holes.” “Who designed the Designer?” he asked. This told me I was watching a debate broadcast for people who have never studied these arguments before, and about thirty seconds later, after Sapient said he had answered all of Comfort’s claims, I stopped watching. The question “who designed the Designer?” is a non sequitur, because it does nothing to negate the initial argument that a Designer can be inferred from the natural world. True, Sapient spent about ten seconds challenging Comfort’s premise, pointing out that men have mammory glands and that animals eat each other to survive, but in my opinion somebody’s going to have to do better than that before I come to believe an eternal universe accidentally formed our world and all of its marvelous features using only the tool of evolution.

What was interesting to me is that, although the event was staged at a Baptist Church in Manhattan, Sapient received vigorous applause from the audience. In the portion of the debate that I watched, Comfort didn’t receive any positive feedback.

It’s too bad that Christians can’t get a major network to broadcast an event like this unless Kirk Cameron is involved. On the atheistic side the representatives were even more embarrassing. The Rational Response Squad could not hide their arrogance, yet if they had read anything beyond the opinions of their friends on the Internet, it didn’t show. If the ABC’s producers were really interested in getting to the bottom of this, they would have invited some full-fledged philosophers to the table for a discussion.

I’m told that portions of the debate will air on ABC’s Nightline tonight. Maybe somebody who watched the entire debate can comment to this post to give a more accurate recap of the debate.

Cameron/Comfort to Debate Atheists on ABC

Monday, May 7th, 2007

ABC has announced that it will feature a debate between actor Kirk Cameron and evangelist Ray Comfort on Wednesday, May 9. The debate will be broadcast on ABC.com at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern time); later that evening excerpts will be shown on ABC’s news program Nightline.

Cameron and Comfort assert that they can prove God’s existence scientifically, without mentioning faith or the Bible.

It is strange that, out of all the renowned theists in the world, this opportunity has been granted to Kirk Cameron, the actor who starred in several movies connected with the Left Behind series. I’m hoping his arguments are more logical than his end-time scenarios.

Also, it will be interesting to find out who Cameron and Comfort will be debating. That important piece of information was left out of the press release.

Have Archeologists Found Jesus’ Body?

Monday, February 26th, 2007

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ hae perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17-20).

It is doubtful that the filmmakers behind a new Discovery Channel documentary have ever read Paul’s logic on the resurrection of Christ, but they understand it. That much is clear from a new claim that archeologists have discovered the body of Christ in a 2,000-year-old tomb located in a suburb of Jerusalem.

New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world’s foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.

The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah.

The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts — originally excavated in 1980 — open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.

A documentary presenting the evidence, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” will premiere on the Discovery Channel on March 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary comes from executive producer James Cameron and director Simcha Jacobovici.

My observations…

1. First they tell us Jesus is a myth, and now they have found his body. Which is it? At least the skeptics could take a position and give Christians an opportunity to respond.

2. Tradition that goes back as early as the fourth century holds that Jesus’ body rested in a tomb over which the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands. Which is better, a theory formed 400 years or 2,000 years after the fact?

3. Six names will be revealed in the documentary. These were found among ten coffins in the newly discovered tomb: Jesua son of Joesph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa, Judah son of Jesua. Here’s where I find several problems.

There is not one shred of evidence that proves Jesus and Mary Magdalene were ever married (“The Da Vinci Code” doesn’t count). Despite the recent enthusiasm of anti-Christian literature, The Gospel of Philip never makes this claim, neither do any of the other Gnostic Gospels. Therefore, Jesus’ family tomb would include only one Mary, his mother.

It follows that if Jesus were unmarried he would not have a son named Judah. By debunking the “Da Vinci” drivel, we show that this tomb looks nothing like Jesus’ family tomb.

One brother, Jofa (Joseph) is mentioned. Where are James, Jude, and Simon? (Mt. 13:55). The filmmakers claim they have found an empty space where the infamous “James ossuary” might have rested, which is interesting, since that little artifact was the center of a famous antiquities fraud in 2005.

Who was Matthew? The apostle? Why would he have been buried with Jesus?

Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film’s hypothesis holds little weight. He’s not even sure the name “Jesua” was translated correctly. Another possibility is “Hanun.”

In addition to all these problems, the names Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Judah were very common in first century Palestine. For proof of this fact one need look no further than the New Testament.

4. According to the most authentic history we have on the life of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus was buried in a tomb in Jerusalem, only it was not his family tomb. He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Jn. 19:38-42). According to Jewish tradition, the rest of Jesus’ family would have been buried in Galilee where they were from, that is, if they could afford a tomb in the first place.

5. The biggest question of all is, “Why did it take 2,000 years to discover Jesus’ tomb?” His enemies knew where it was (Mt. 27:62-66). They carefully sealed it and stationed a Roman guard there to prevent his disciples from stealing the body in the night. And yet when Peter declared the resurrection 50 days later nobody protested. Jesus’ enemies would have stopped his movement in its tracks by producing his body. But instead Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the world. The idea that we’ve been able to discover something Jesus’ enemies could not find 2,000 years ago is not even worth considering. The idea is ludicrous.

Contrary to its name, The Discovery Channel hasn’t “discovered” anything. This is a 30-year-old controversy that, until now, was jettisoned by skeptics as insufficient evidence against Christianity.

Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television. “They just want to get money for it,” he said.

But James Cameron may be able to pull this off anyway. After all, he was able to get a PG-13 rating for “Titanic,” an extremely graphic movie, and take away an Oscar despite Leonardo Di Caprio’s cheesy “King of the World” scene.

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

Monday, February 19th, 2007

A new atheistic campaign challenges young people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and strike a blow against religious superstition. More than 400 have joined the effort, called Blasphemy Challenge. They post statements on YouTube, such as, “Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.” According to the founders of Blasphemy Challenge, their intent is to encourage atheists to come forward and put their souls on the line, showing others that you don’t have to be afraid of God.

I haven’t watched any of these ridiculous denials on YouTube, but from articles I have read it appears this is nothing more than a skeptics’ exploitation of young people to attack people of faith. Most of the so-called atheists who have taken the Blasphemy Challenge are teenagers who have not had the time or the maturity to consider seriously the most important question in life. Is there a God? is a problem that demands more than a few years in high school to settle. Below the surface, Blasphemy Challenge is an evil manipulation of young people who ought to be struggling with this issue with the help of family, friends, and counselors, not websites.

Another component to this discussion is the complete misunderstanding of what Jesus was talking about when he accused his enemies of commiting the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:28-30). This is not some divine line drawn in the sand that God is daring us to cross.

First of all, atheism is not the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The original blasphemers were leaders of first-century Judaism who believed in the power of the demonic world. It is interesting that, though they wanted to discredit Jesus’ works, they did not deny his miraculous power. Evidently there were too many witnesses to do that. Instead, they said he cast out demons by the power of “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Mt. 12:24). These were not your run-of-the-mill atheists.

Secondly, God forgives every sin that is confessed and repented. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). In my opinion, John is saying that even those denials on YouTube can be forgiven, if they are withdrawn and those who uttered them are willing to obey the gospel.

A study of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as it is discussed in Scripture, allows for a narrow interpretation of this sin. The sin was committed following Jesus’ healing a demon-possessed man. The Pharisees sought to discredit this marvel by attributing Jesus’ power to Beelzebul. After illustrating the absurdity of this charge, the Lord said,

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Mt. 12:30-32).

The key to understanding Jesus’ words is in verse 28 of Matthew 12, where he reveals that he cast out demons “by the Spirit of God.” Thus, blasphemy had taken place because the Pharisees accused him of doing this by the power of an evil Spirit, the prince of evil spirits no less. Mark’s account makes this pretty plain, for he explains, “they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit'” (3:30). In essence they had called the third person of the Godhead an evil spirit. A person who has stooped that low is beyond the confession and repentance required for forgiveness. These Pharisees would never be won to the gospel.

Not only did the Spirit empower Jesus to cast out demons, but he also inspired men to write the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:21). Without these words no man can be saved. A person, then, who has truly rejected the Holy Spirit will never believe the word “which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).

What Blasphemy Challenge is doing on YouTube is serious. Who knows how many souls will be lost because of their efforts? At the same time, their campaign betrays an ignorance of God’s Word.

Sorry, atheists, it’s not that easy to get into hell.

More on Atheistic Faith

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

At least one reporter acknowledges the religious arm of atheism.

Rebecca Rosen Lum of the Contra Costa Times reports that atheist groups are on the rise as unbelievers organize themselves in the face of a religious onslaught. These groups have grown by 90 percent over the past six years.

The motive behind organized skepticism seems to be fear, fear of irrelevance, fear of state-sponsored religion, fear of challenges to the god of science.

Lum writes,

…atheism appears to be gaining ground also as a belief, not just a wave of political activism by those who fear the wall between church and state is being disassembled.

Commenting on their core beliefs, Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, says,

Our primary conviction is that there is no supernatural world — there is only one world, the world that is the subject of scientific investigation.

That’s comforting. According to the Church of Skepticism, man is a mistake, a happy accident on the level of a toad. He originated from rocks and dirt, and he will end up where he began. There is no afterlife–no salvation, no heaven, no eternity. This world of suffering is all there is. There is no explanation as to why we are here. We’re just here.

Christianity offers believers life; atheism offers only death. Why are its adherents so militant? What are they fighting for? In their eyes Christians are under a delusion. I disagree. Christianity is based on reasonable faith. But even if we are deluded, isn’t a blissful delusion preferable to blind pessimism?

Atheism’s Faith

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Steve Olson is a blogger who writes about his journey towards personal freedom. I’m not really sure what all that entails, but part of it at least has to do with his relationship with his four-year-old son. Writing about what his son has already taught him despite his few years, Steve posted the following.

A few weeks ago our cat was dying. So I explained death to my son and told him our cat was going to heaven. I was amazed that he grasped the permanence of death. Like the other members of my family he was very sad for several days. Then he asked, “Dad, how do you get to heaven?” I said,”Well everyone goes there when they die.” He said, “No I mean, how do you get there? Do go out the door and get in the car? Do you take a rocket?” I had to admit to him that I didn’t know how you get to heaven, I just believe in it. A few days latter he asked, “If God made me, who made God?” Good question. I haven’t thought about that one in years.

I didn’t share this with you to stir up another debate like the one that came in the wake of “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” The reason I found Steve’s post so intriguing is in the 100+ comments that follow it. Scroll down and you’ll find scoldings saying Steve is only “deluding” and “indoctrinating” his child. His parenting skills are called into question because he was influencing the faith of his son.

Steve’s reaction was that he got “flamed.” But I believe he was subjected to something that amounts to little more than an atheistic jihad.

Let me explain. Atheism taken in its cold, rational sense is not concerned with the beliefs of others. If God does not exist, so what if others want to make Paschal’s Wager? There is nothing immoral about believing a lie, since no objective standard exists to distinguish right from wrong.

But atheism can also take on an evangelistic form. Evangelical atheists will seek to persuade “ignorant believers” with the same urgency of a Christian who preaches repentance to the world, hoping to convert sinners. They will even try to interfere with a complete stranger’s parenting strategies.

Why are atheists so desperate? Christians feel a sense of urgency because they believe that God exists, and without Christ the world is lost. But let’s suppose that God does not exist. What happens to those who refuse to denounce their faith? Under an atheistic model, believers and atheists suffer the same end, only atheists get there first because they live their lives in bitterness, sorrow and frustration.

Isn’t it ironic that a notion that prides itself on being rational can stoop to such inconsistencies?