Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Ex-atheist A. N. Wilson’s reasons for returning to Christianity

UPDATE: A very special welcome to readers from 4Simpsons blog! If you do not have Neil’s blog bookmarked, you are missing out on perceptive commentary on current events and apologetics, all packaged in an attractive and functional layout! For example, check out this post on Obama’s record on abortion, and this post analyzing a recent encounter with a pro-choice challenger! Neil can fight!

Thanks so much for the link and the kind words, Neil! I appreciate it very much!

UPDATE: Welcome readers from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the linky, Mr. WebElf!

This story is all over the Christian blogosphere, so let’s try to cover all the people who’ve written about it.

Wilson’s initial statement is found in his article in the New Statesman. (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics)

Excerpt where he describes his conversion to atheism:

…I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me – the sense of God’s presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world.

Yeah, that’s why I would never send my kids to church until they begged and pleaded to go, and knew why they were doing it. The problem of evil and suffering that he mentions is a solid argument against God, one well worth responding too, that I answer fully here.

But another cause of his atheism was peer pressure – the desire to want to be thought of as smarter than others, the desire to not be bound by morality, the desire for autonomy from the hard task of seeking after the Lord in study and service. (More on this below)

If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

He talks about the importance of the moral argument, which is the argument that converted me to Christianity so many years ago. There can be no doubt that when you meet an atheist, you are talking to someone who is disdainful of the demands of the moral law, (the objective moral standard that is imprinted on every human heart).

Everyone who has any conscience at all believes in God as the ground for that morality. It is only the immoral man who reduces morality to personal preferences or evolved social conventions. And there are so many immoral atheists today… inventing more and more speculations like Darwinism and postmodernism in order to justify full flight from the moral law they know is there.

I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

Truthbomb Apologetics also linked to an online interview with Wilson. Peter Williams, a British Christian apologist, highlights one question, “Can you love God and agree with Darwin?”, from the interview.

Here is Wilson’s answer:

I think you can love God and agree with the author of The Voyage of the Beagle, the Earth Worm, and most of the Origin of Species. The Descent of Man, with its talk of savages, its belief that black people are more primitive than white people, and much nonsense besides, is an offence to the intelligence – and is obviously incompatible with Christianity. I think the jury is out about whether the theory of Natural selection, as defined by neo-Darwinians is true, and whether serious scientific doubts, as expressed in a new book Why Us by James Lefanu, deserve to be taken seriously. For example, does the discovery of the complex structure of DNA and the growth in knowledge in genetics require a rethink of Darwinian “gradualism”. But these are scientific rather than religious questions.

twoorthree.net has another analysis of the initial article.

A second article emerges

Here’s Wilson’s more recent article from the UK Daily Mail in which he describes his reasons for returning to the Christian faith even further. (H/T Apologetics 315)

The new article has a very striking title, “Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity”. There are some neat parts to this article as well.

For example, why are atheists who are force-fed faith so angry?

Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been ‘conned’ by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.

This next point is the critical point of this entire story. Atheists dismiss God for three reasons. 1) They want to appear intelligent in comparison others (i.e. – pride, vanity), 2) they do not want to dedicate any time to seeking and serving the person who loves them most, and 3) they believe that God should give them happiness and their needs are not met by God.

When a person becomes an atheist, they are giving an answer to questions like “does God exist?” and “does God have a will for the way I ought to live?”. Atheists do not accept that their purpose in life is to work on knowing God by first accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their current rebellion and then by re-prioritizing their lives based on the character and deeds of Christ.

Instead of accepting the need for a Savior, and the process of following Christ, they want to earn eternal life by dedicating their efforts to projects of their own choosing. Atheists choose a project that they like and work on that hoping to somehow gain eternal life by excelling at that. Similarly, atheists choose a different moral standard (i.e. – yoga, vegetarianism, recycling, socialism, etc.) and work to fulfill this standard of their own choosing in the hope that meeting that standard will justify them morally with God.

The thought that they would have to discover and reflect on God’s revealed character and love for people revealed in the origin and design of the universe, and in the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, is totally repulsive to them. They seize on the most childish opinions about God, (God is unknowable, Christians are stupid hypocrites, I don’t want to be moral, I don’t want to be unpopular, etc.), and refuse to engage in debate to correct those childish objections.

But let’s hear from Wilson about the peer-pressure he received from smart atheists:

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.

The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers, many of them quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself.

Wilson goes on to explain what finally did work to change his mind. One of the reasons for his conversion is also the second reason why I converted: discomfort with the moral evil of the godless and their hatred of God. Observing the godless can create a powerful feeling of sympathy and allegiance to God revealed in Christ, such that you naturally rebel against those who reject God.

Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.

One thing you need to understand about being a Christian is that the life consists in being an ambassador for Christ and then taking the lumps from those who will mock you, blacklist you, expel you, suspend you, fire you, jail you, torture you and murder you. This path of suffering is rejected by atheists and church Christians alike, even though imitating Christ’s suffering for obeying God rather than men is central to Christianity.

We humans somehow internalize the idea that God should desire our happiness, and our freedom to seek that happiness in whatever activities we choose to be meaningful for us. The idea that God may have made us for a purpose – to acknowledge and defend him in public in word and deed – is so repulsive to our wills that it is totally suppressed, not just from inquiry or discussion, but in our thoughts as well.

A third argument that convinced me, that Wilson also finds convincing, is the superior character of Christians when compared to atheists. Atheists have no idea how horribly immoral they look to Christians – about as immoral as Christians look to themselves. For once the horizontal dimension of loving your neighbor is dropped, and the vertical dimension of loving God is taken up, the mask is off. The horror of sin is revealed.

And in the face of that horror, men can do extraordinary deeds as they respond to God’s forgiveness. Actions that are irrational on a naturalistic, materialistic universe are rational for Christians. Atheists simply cannot engage in self-sacrificial behaviors against their self-interest the way that Christians can. Doctrines like eternal life, the incarnation, the atonement, and objective morality, make self-sacrifice rational.

And in contrast to those ephemeral pundits of today, I have as my companions in belief such Christians as Dostoevsky, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Johnson and all the saints, known and unknown, throughout the ages.

When that great saint Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was on trial for his life for daring to defy Henry VIII, one of his prosecutors asked him if it did not worry him that he was standing out against all the bishops of England.

He replied: ‘My lord, for one bishop of your opinion, I have a hundred saints of mine.’

Now, I think of that exchange and of his bravery in proclaiming his faith. Our bishops and theologians, frightened as they have been by the pounding of secularist guns, need that kind of bravery more than ever.

The Christian life is a life of self-sacrifice, self-control and bravery, punctuated by periods of loneliness and defeat. It is not for everyone, and it is certainly not for atheists. Responding in love to God’s initiative in reaching out to us is the most difficult task that can ever be assigned to any human agent. Atheists, having rejected the laws of logic, scientific discovery, the demands of the moral law and the obligations of moral duties, are simply not up to the task.

Wilson concludes his case with a final argument:

…an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives – the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.

Let me just say that I have not had the happiest experiences in life, as I have alluded to elsewhere. Things are going great now, as you know from my bio. But I know, and I hope that others can see, that the kind of acts of love that I unleash on my neighbors cannot – cannot - be explained merely as a result of human effort. Life is hard, but God makes love possible in the midst of suffering.

William Lane Craig weighs in on this Daily Mail article in his audio blog here.

I am planning an entire series of posts on atheism and the Christian life next week, and I have been interviewing atheists in order to collect data for the series of posts. I highly recommend that you tune in to the blog next week for this series!

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29 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Hello, you wrote,

    Atheists dismiss God for three reasons. 1) They want to appear intelligent in comparison others (i.e. – pride, vanity), 2) they do not want to dedicate any time to seeking and serving the person who loves them most, and 3) they believe that God should give them happiness and their needs are not met by God.

    I would be interested to see any data that substantiate these claims.

    • Good point. This isn’t that kind of post. This is based on my experience with the atheists I know. I am running a series next week based on interviews with them. Don’t miss that.

      And obviously this is a generalization, Anthony Flew was clearly an exception, for example.

      • Griffin says:

        I know how I look to Christians, I just don’t care about impressing a group of people who would have me believe that I have to sacrifice this life, which could very likely be the only one I have, to follow the rules of a deity whose existence is completely unsubstantiated.

        “Atheists simply cannot engage in self-sacrificial behaviors like we Christians can.” You make me frustrated because you just don’t make any sense. That claim is ridiculous — I could easily engage in self-sacrificial behaviors if I wanted to, but there’s no point in doing so if I don’t believe in a god who would reward me for such behavior. However, there are situations in which self-sacrifice is the right thing to do, and in those situations, it’s heinous and unbelievably ignorant of you to say that Christians have a monopoly on self-sacrifice. Where are your figures that show that Christians are the only ones to have died saving others?

        The concept is so patently ridiculous it makes my head ache. I could say, “Christians just can’t roll around in the mud like we atheists can.” Not only is it false, but it doesn’t make the concept any more appealing to you as a Christian.

        And the condescension! “Atheists choose a different moral standard (i.e. — yoga, vegetarianism, recycling, socialism).” Yes, what morons all of us atheists are for wanting to be healthy, maintain sustainable living practices, and take care of the poor. Jesus was more of a socialist and environmentalist than most atheists — read the Bible, Edison.

        Let me know if you need a hand getting down off your golden throne of pretension — I’ll be there with a few books for you to read.

        • Right self-sacrifice is irrational on atheism, which means that self-giving love is irrational on atheism, unless it makes you happy or helps you to avoid being punished for breaking the arbitrary customs of the time and place you live in. Christians believe in self-sacrificial love, and our worldview grounds self-sacrifical love as rational. We do what is reasonable, you do what makes you feel good.

          Take a look at this series of posts, and in your very next comment, explain how atheism grounds the 5 requirements for rational moral behavior.. (Or deny any or all of the criteria).

        • Sid says:

          The article said ‘self-sacrificial behaviors’, not just doing a self-sacrificial random act of kindness now and then. They are different.

          I’m curious though, and this is a genuine question from me, can you give me an example of an atheist engaging in self-sacrificial behavior? If anything, this will help me understand what an atheist consider as self-sacrificial.

          • I cant give you an example of one. I think atheists are involved in a project to invent a standard of morality that treats selfishness as “morality”. They want to pursue pleasure in ways that are destructive, and then call that “virtue”. Even if an atheist accidentally acted virtuously and did not gain pleasure by so doing, that would be irrational on their worldview. It never makes sense to do the right thing on atheism if it results in less pleasure than doing the wrong thing.

          • Kyle says:

            Sid,

            I can give you examples:

            A man marries a woman with three kids, raises them as his own, helping support grandchildren, etc., only to lose them all when his wife divorces him and turns them against him.

            The same guy meets his girlfriend’s best friend. She has health problems, a young child, a troublesome ex-husband, and no family she can rely on. When she loses her job, he supports them for months.

            The same guy meets an Appalachian woman at a gas station off the interstate who is having car trouble, out of money and can’t drive after dark. He looks at her car, has her follow his tail lights to the next exit with a motel, buys her a room, and then follows her almost to her home in the Blue Ridge, adding a day and 500 miles to his trip. He kept in touch because she was in a controlling relationship and having other problems. When she became unable to pay her cell phone bill and was isolated from the world, he sent her a prepaid cell phone. When she went into the hospital for a hysterectomy, he sent flowers. He made sure she got something for Christmas, too.

            He almost always gives to anyone who’s collecting for a legit charity. When looking at a college with a daughter, he was approached by a rough-looking kid who had a story for why he needed $5. Even though he was unemployed and money was tight, he gave him the $5. He told his daughter that it’s better to give it because the small chance his story was true outweighs the likelihood that it was false.

            Do these qualify?

          • The problem with these examples is that the person can only do these things RATIONALLY if they give him pleasure. There is no REASON to do these things when they don’t make the person happy, on atheism. But Sid can reply. The purpose of life when it comes to what we ought to do in an accidental universe devoid of objective moral values, objective moral duties, free will, divine judgment and life after death is HAPPINESS. That is the only purpose that is rational given the atheistic worldview.

            It’s not a question of what atheists CAN do, it’s a question of what is RATIONAL to do. When things get tough, people tend to do what their worldview underwrites. The atheist in your story did what he did because the background noise in the culture was a Christian background noise, so he had good feelings for acting that way, and that’s all that can be said about it. On atheism, there was no right way or wrong way to act, and it doesn’t matter ultimately how the person acted because we all die in the heat death of the universe anyway.

            PLEASE COMMENT IN THIS POST FROM THIS SERIES. I don’t want to have to repeat my arguments on why atheism cannot ground morality rationally.

            The AN Wilson post is talking about what causes atheists to leave atheism, with one of the reasons being that he didn’t like the morality of atheists.

          • Sid says:

            Thank you for your reply. They do qualify as self-sacrificial to me.

            I actually believe everyone can be moral. It’s just that being moral are not consistent to atheistic world view. Hence it is irrational for atheists to be moral.

            I’ve actually just started a blog on this topic at http://terribleblogger.wordpress.com/

          • I agree. It’s God’s universe so objective morality is real and atheists can sense it.

  2. makarios says:

    “It is only the immoral man who reduces morality to personal preferences or evolved social conventions.”

    Great point! Very important to remember. You are wrong however about atheists not being able to improve their character through self-effort without the help of God. Just a couple of days ago, I forget his name or his blog, anyhow some atheist demonstrated beyond dispute that self-improvement without God could be done.

    What was his achievment you ask? He went without chocolate for one month. I’m not kidding. He was serious about proving self-improvement without God. (((Sigh))) Atheists – What are you going to do with em?

    I look forward to next week’s series. God Bless

    • Thanks. The thing is that in this universe, objective morality is real, because God exists. And God makes even atheists aware of that objective moral standard. And also, in this universe, free will is real, because God exists and gave us souls that allow us to transcend biological determinism.

      So, atheists can freely choose to act in line with that objective moral standard, but only inconsistently and irrationally, since their own worldview says that that free will and the objective moral standard is illusory! The worldview deceives them and they undermine their own moral capabilities, which is what you see today in hate-filled atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, and their followers.

      Atheists work very hard to develop and believe in unwarranted speculations like eternal universes, unobservable multiverses, gratuitous evil and suffering, Darwinism, biological determinism, postmodernism, moral relativism, etc. They deny the Cambrian explosion, the existence of souls, etc. All to undermine and weaken the claim that the objective moral law has on them, and to deny the free will that will make them responsible for all of this.

      They do this in order to have a false sense of freedom that allows them to concentrate on making themselves happy with stolen, unappreciated blessings for about 80 years. But the corollary to this self-enforced willful blindness is that the kind of actions that are really good, (self-sacrificial actions), are nearly impossible to them given that they become so irrational once the atheist commits himself to believing the speculations.

      You are just never going to see an atheist taking personal risks to, say, end slavery, like William Wilberforce. The same speculation that relieves them of free will and conscience makes heroic moral action impossible. They will always look out for number 1, and never stick their neck out to do what the moral law demands. For an atheist, acting like the rest of the herd is done for 1) pleasure and 2) to avoid social disapproval from being “unfashionable”.

      That’s the joy of Christianity. Christians and atheists start out feeling like we would like to take the lumps in order to do the right thing. But only the Christian can do it rationally, under fire. On Christianity, God not only says “Go for it! It will work out for you!”, but we even have Jesus’ example of suffering in order to obey God and testify about his character. That example is a valuable asset. Also, the atoning death of Jesus is also vital to cure the initial rebellion in the first place, so that these heroic actions which Christianity invented, like chivalry and courtly love, can even be possible. People don’t realize how much our morality (as well as our science) owes to the ideas that are grounded in Christianity, and the life of Jesus. But I don’t want to give away the whole series, you have to tune in next week.

      Holy Snark! You made me give away the whole surprise conclusion from the atheist interview series. I hope no one reads these comments. Don’t ask me to say any more!

      Well, I can still talk about how I can attack atheism while still loving individual atheists in outrageous ways. But I’m still working on it. Sometimes I get the urge to censor and belittle them. I get angry. But I am improving, and these interviews were a good start. My goal is to be as kind as possible, while still being effective.

  3. Robert says:

    Good point. This isn’t that kind of post. This is based on my experience with the atheists I know. I am running a series next week based on interviews with them. Don’t miss that.

    It will be interesting to read your series, but given the vast number of farcical prejudices in your post, I’m not confident it will be be of much value.

    Atheists choose a project that they like and work on that hoping to somehow gain eternal life by excelling at that. Similarly, atheists choose a different moral standard (i.e. – yoga, vegetarianism, recycling, socialism, etc.) and work to fulfill this standard of their own choosing in the hope that meeting that standard will justify them morally with God.

    It never ceases to amaze me the things religious people think.

  4. Ben says:

    Wow, there are so many offensive things being said here, it’s amazing. Maybe you should keep them to yourself in those interviews. :(

    Anyway…I guess that’s just your perspective on things. I’m sure you mean well, somehow.

    I was trying to think of the closest things to your list of 3 items that resonated with me.

    As for number one, I’ve never had any trouble appearing intelligent in comparison to others, even as a Christian, so that didn’t really apply. Religion felt very dirty and selfish to me, like it was existential self-serve even though I didn’t really know it was true, so from my perspective taking mainstream science seriously and more openly investigating what has been established sometimes feels almost like forgiveness for my past intellectual sins. I take it that is not your experience.

    I can’t really think of anything close to number 2 that applies since you rather have to actually feel divinely loved in order for that to work.

    I would say though that number three sort of relates in that my experience with Christianity was very vacuous and in dire need of even the most remedial ontological validation. Being sure God just existed would have made me happy back in the day. Actual full fledged happiness in any particular way wasn’t really even considered. You have to get beyond square one first! So I guess on second thought number three does apply.

    It is rather bizarre seeing certain Christians across the way that seem to have an amazing amount of confidence that never seemed to be there when I wanted it to be true. Oh well. Good luck with that. Hope it works out well for you.

    Ben

    • Obviously, during the interviews I was not critical at all, and one of the atheists actually did really well and would make a good Christian. They enjoyed it and I think they felt happy that someone cared about their views as a person.

      Sheesh, just because I disagree with atheists doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I like them a lot! I like a lot of people I disagree with with, even people with strange alternative lifestyles and different religions and political views. My friends are very, very diverse, if you know what I mean and I think you do. But they accept that I disagree with them on their diverse views.

      I think I would like to interview you, I liked your comment so much. Well, it was a bit mean, but I’m a bit mean, too.

      I think there is a kind of non-Christian I really respect, and that’s Anthony Flew or Commenter ECM deists. I (metaphorically) cry at night about them not being Christians. The confidence I have in Christianity comes from the arguments that convinced these 2 open-minded atheists to convert to deism, and you can see the arguments used in debates with William Lane Craig, etc. The arguments are solid.

      Hey, have you taken a look at the posts I wrote on the kalam and fine-tuning arguments, and the historicity of the resurrection? Talk to me a bit about what you believe in outline form, and what arguments you have that led you to those views. What arguments do you find persuasive for atheism?

  5. Ben says:

    WK,

    Well I’m glad that you can factor your own meanness into the equation there. That doesn’t always happen. I was just trying to give you some feedback and cut you a break since you said you had some problems and were trying to improve. That’s why I didn’t just react and went ahead and participated beyond that.

    If you click on my name, I provided a link to my post on why I am not a Christian. You can probably get a fairly decent idea of where I’m coming from with that.

    How exactly would an interview go? Is this email or video or something?

    Ben

    • No, no. I have some questions that I ask, and I’ll be posting them next week to encourage other Christians to interview atheists who are not totally crazy like those people who suspend you from work and lay criminal charges, if you offer to pray for them.

      Basically, the deal is that I am already close friends with these atheists, so I offer to buy them lunch and in exchange I get to hear all of their answers to the questions. People like answering them, because with all the fear and political correctness from the left these days, they never get a chance to say what they really think about important issues.

      When I post the questions, you can answer them and e-mail me back, and then I can post them, or parts of them, if I like them. The whole series is not going to done too wickedly, because my atheist friends read this blog and they can all blow my cover if I am too mean.

  6. […] Ex-atheist returns to Christianity and offers candid insights as to why he left in the first place. […]

  7. Jerry says:

    You state:
    “Atheists work very hard to develop and believe in unwarranted speculations like eternal universes, unobservable multiverses, gratuitous evil and suffering, Darwinism, biological determinism, postmodernism, moral relativism, etc. They deny the Cambrian explosion, the existence of souls, etc.”

    Those atheists you refer to are called scientists. I haven’t heard of too many people that deny the cambrian explosion – what I believe many would deny is that lack of knowledge proves god – interpretation is difficult due to a limited supply of evidence, based mainly on an incomplete fossil record and chemical signatures left in Cambrian rocks. It’s another example of what I like to call my “God Putty Theory” – when science is still working on a problem christians will try and paste god in there and then get upset when science figures it out.

    I’ll put the scientific arguments aside for now. I have another question for you, since you can’t prove god exists (I know – I can’t definitively prove he doesn’t – and I don’t buy your arguments of science can’t yet explain this, so it must be god – but that’s not what I want to discuss) – how do we know this objective morality that you talk about actually exists? How do we know that “morality” isn’t a completely man made concept – another form of control like the church to keep the stupid masses under the thumb of the leaders of the church? The church’s position on many topics has changed with time – a pseudo church-herd morality – as opposed to being unbending. So even the church’s morality has evolved – not very objective if you ask me. Morality appears to be an pseduo-artificial/natural concept best adapted to keep the masses cooperating and under control…period.

    • Hi, as you know the progress of science in the last 50-100 has reversed the commitment to materialism. The more we know, the worse it gets. I am sure that you understand what it means to have a list of evidences for the big bang, a list of finely-tuned constants, and a list of factors needed for a habitable planet, a list of factors needed in order to create the first biological information and to copy it. When we started out in 1900, those lists were all zero. Today they have grown to much larger numbers.

      At this point, atheists are taking refuge in unobservables (directed panspermia, multiverse, vaccuum fluctuation model, chaotic inflationary model), in order to escape the mountain of data that has piled up. And so now we understand, as we saw in the answers from atheists, that atheist isn’t about data. It’s about not wanting to be bothered with God, not wanting to be grateful. Wanting to accept the blessings of God, and the sacrifices and wisdom of men influenced by God, and then using those things for your own purposes without wanting to recognize and acknowledge the source of those blessings.

      Be careful. I think that God is playing a little game with you such that the words you are using will be used against you. Do not deceive yourself.

      Please take a look at my index of apologetics articles for more information. I trust that you have been watching all the debates I linked to, rather than spending your time quote-mining in order to cling to a position that you are holding for other reasons?

      • Sid says:

        I guess one evidence is the growing number of atheists (there is no God) claiming to be agnostics (we don’t know if there is a God).

  8. Shalini says:

    I’ve always wondered how really atheists survive. I mean, their very argument that all these atrocities we face in today’s world(or from time immemorial) points to the fact that there is no God, is what confuses me more. How do they survive then? I mean, I am a devout Catholic and to me life is made easier only by God. I can’t imagine surviving every hurdle that life throws in my way without the knowledge of Christ’s love and sacrifice. How do these people survive really?? How do they survive themselves?

    • Josh says:

      Very well, thanks.

      I grew up a devout Christian, and became an atheist in my early 20s. I find that I don’t waste time imagining what some invisible magical wizard thinks about my actions, and instead look at how my actions affect the people around me. Similarly, knowing that this span of 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 years is *it* makes it that much more important to behave well and enjoy life: this is all we have, and we’d better make the best of it.

      Contrary to our intrepid author’s smug assertions, I have no problem behaving morally, being forgiving, and recognizing my own limitations. And I suspect I will have no problem instilling these same values in my kids (should I have any) without having to scare them into going to church.

      Oh, and I have way more free time to get stuff done on Sundays.

      • The problem with atheism is that it is irrational. What follows from atheism is self-interest, not morality. That’s why atheists are responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone.

        Look here:
        1) Why should you care how your actions affect those around you when it goes against your self-interest? They’re going to die and your going to anyway in the heat death of the universe. Nothing you do matters ultimately, so you just pursue your own self-interest. There is no REASON why you should care about other people unless it makes you happy or unless you feel that society may catch you and punish you for breaking their arbritrary rules. And those arbitrary ruels really are arbitrary on atheism. They very by time and place and there is no way to judge one set against another. Atheists HAVE NO MORAL STANDARD. It’s either personal preference or arbitrary conventions of your time and place.

        2) Why does having X years of life cause you to have to “behave well”. What does “behave well” mean on atheism? I’ll tell you what it means. It means do whatever you want and make sure that no one ever catches you if it will get you in trouble. That’s what atheist “morality” amounts to.

        The problem with behaving morally on atheism is that it is IRRATIONAL. It goes against your self-interest to deny yourself anything to follow the “moral law” since there is no reason to deny yourself for others other than SELF-INTEREST.

        Take a look at this series of posts, and in your very next comment, explain how atheism grounds the 5 requirements for rational moral behavior.. (Or deny any or all of the criteria).

        People don’t got to church because they are scared, they go because that’s what people do who actually look into the evidence for these things. Atheism is what people do when they put selfishness above truth. You don’t want to be inconvenienced by the real demands of the moral law, so you are an atheist.

  9. Ben says:

    “What follows from atheism is self-interest, not morality.”

    You seem to be under the impression that worshiping God is not in your self-interest. Self-interest is a part of any equation if you are a self with interests.

    • Great comment. Short and incisive.

      Self-interest is part of the reason to be moral on Christian theism, but it’s not the entire picture. See, on Christian theism God loves us. So it is also rational to do things that please the people who LOVE YOU MOST. So it’s half and half. For me, I am acting almost entirely out of a sense of gratitude and love and because I think this is the way the world really is. I actually don’t like being nice. It doesn’t make me feel good because it’s too much work.

  10. iya says:

    I like this blog. :) Very well said Sir Wintery Knight :D

  11. Richard Ball says:

    There’s also a slight shift in the meaning of the term self-interest. Self-interest among the unregenerate is more like selfish-interest, whereas self-interest among the regenerate is more cooperative — it is in everyone’s interests to cooperate with God. And this cooperation is never selfish, but self-giving. In Jesus’ case, self-interest extends to those whom he sees as “in himself” — done unto the least of these/done unto me. Paul echos this in Ephesians with regards to husbands and wives, something to the effect of love your wife the way you would love your own body.

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