Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How I became a Christian

A while back, I posted a set of questions that Christians could use in order to assess the worldviews of atheists. I received 10 sets of answers. I thought I would post my own answers to the same questions, since my co-workers and non-Christian friends have been bugging me to see them.

Just one quick thing. When Christians talk about sin we mean people turning away from God and not involving him in their lives. As God’s creatures, we have an obligation to find out if he is there and what he wants from us. But inevitably, we don’t try to find those answers, because we do not want to be bound by what we might find. We don’t ask questions, and we speculate about ways to explain the evidence that we do see for God’s existence and character.

That’s sin: wanting to keep God out of your life. We all do it. We’re all guilty. Five minutes introspection about how fair we have been to God should be enough to convince anyone that we are sinful. We just don’t want to give up our pursuit of happiness for anyone, no matter how much they love us, no matter how much evidence has been provided.

The first commandment in the Jewish Shema is “Love the LORD your God…”. And Jesus agrees. No amount of atheistic personal preference “morality” or “empathy” or whatever is going to save you from that first commandment. The penalty is death. That’s why we all need Jesus to pay the penalty for our rebellion. Jesus died in our place, and we honor that sacrifice by accepting it as effective for us, and by following his example and teachings as we live out our own lives.

Now you know what Christianity is about.

One last thing. Love doesn’t not mean wanting someone else to have happy feelings. Love means desiring what is objectively best for someone else. It’s because atheists are constantly focused on happiness that they keep thinking that God does not love them. The purpose of life is NOT happiness, but knowing God, and relating to him in a two-way relationship. That is why people go to Heaven, to be with God, not to be happy.

Let’s see my answers to the survey.

Wintery Knight’s answers

Question 1: Is there a God? Is he knowable?

Answer: Yes, there is a God, and yes, he is knowable. In fact, God exists as three persons and one of those persons actually made himself known directly to us, by taking on a human nature in addition to his divine nature and living among us for a period of time. His name is Jesus.

Question 2: Which religion were you raised in?

Answer: My earliest worldview was deism. My mother is a Muslim-raised agnostic. My father is a Catholic-raised agnostic. Growing up, I never attended church or performed any other spiritual activity with my parents, except for my father saying grace at holiday dinners. My parent’s god was money, because we were very, very poor first-generation immigrants.

My parents do not believe in personal sacrifice for the benefit of God. Half of my father’s family is mostly Hindu, and some Catholic. My mother’s family is mostly Muslim and some atheist. They strongly disapprove of everything spiritual that I do, especially my sponsorship of Christian scholars like William Lane Craig. My mother especially hates my charitable enterprises.

I am the only Evangelical Protestant in the family, and I think my choice of theology to be by far the best option for those who care about logic and evidence, and want to treat religion as they would treat any other field of inquiry. I am on the side of William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Lane Craig.

Question 3: Explain some events that altered your spiritual worldview.

I remember the first time I stood up to defend God’s reputation in public.

It was in second grade, when Mrs. Hutchinson, who was one of the teachers who smoked, explained the big bang theory by using the example of baking a cake. I raised my hand, heart thumping, palms sweating, and asked her if it were not the case that God made the big bang, since cakes do not bake themselves. She replied that for those who believe in God, God is the cause of the big bang, and for those who don’t believe in God… she stopped and threw up her hands and said “they just believe that the cake baked itself”.

The biggest event for me was the receipt of a New Testament from the Gideons at a time when I was still a deist. The New Testament got me from the point of being a deist to becoming a theist with Christian leanings. I did not understand Christian theology much until my sophomore year of high school, because I did not go to church for 5 years following my conversion.

I remember sitting in typing class in the summer of my freshman year of high school and reflecting on the fact that I was going to get a C in typing while the other students would get A-grades. Why? They were turning in duplicate pages of work, which the teacher, Mr. Donohue, did not notice. I remember thinking to myself “Cheating on assignments is wrong. And it’s wrong regardless of what cheaters think of it”. I got a C in typing, and the other students got As. And it was OK, because being different is OK.

My discovery of C.S. Lewis in high school and William Lane Craig in my undergraduate years sealed the deal. The web site Leadership University introduced me to Craig and Walter Bradley. Once I read Craig’s arguments in his debates with Michael Tooley and Corey Washington, I was convinced. I remember printing them out in the computer lab and reading them. It was at this time that I dumped young-earth creationism due to the evidence for the big bang, but I still doubt macro-evolution today.

When I graduated, I moved to Chicago, and bought a tape of Walter Bradley’s Veritas Forum lecture entitled “Giants in the Land“. Here at last was a vision of Christianity as not just true, but as heroic and defiant! Atheism now seemed to be the worldview that resulted from laziness, cowardice and ignorance. Atheists didn’t want the trouble of being different from their peers, didn’t want to be informed, didn’t read, listen to or watch formal debates, and just wanted to be happy all the time, instead of being good all the time and right all the time.

Question 4: What are your main objections to God’s existence and knowability?

I have no objections to theism. You would have to be either wilfully blind or uninformed to be an atheist given the evidence from the progress of science in the last 70 years. That is why honest, informed atheists like Anthony Flew left atheism for deism. The scientific evidence available today is enough to destroy atheism 5 times over. The real problem with atheism is the complete refusal to become informed and engaged.

The only remaining issues for me are certain Bible difficulties (I am an inerrantist, but you need not be, to be a Christian), issues about whether Jesus did everything that the Messiah is supposed to do, and concerns about the concept of God, such as divine aseity.

Question 5: What is the ontology of moral values and moral duties?

Moral values exist objectively. They are grounded by God’s unchanging nature. Humans are designed by God and therefore have moral duties in keeping with their Designer’s character.

Question 6: Does your worldview ground free will, which is required for consciousness, rationality, moral judgments, moral choices and moral responsibility?

Yes. Humans are minds, and we have bodies. I am a substance dualist. The non-material mind/soul is capable of moral choices, and is therefore morally responsible. Humans can praise or blame behavior in other humans because our actions are genuinely free.

Question 7: Is there a way for you to rationally persuade an atheist dictator to grant you mercy?

Easy. Convert him to Christianity with the evidence. Christians are not permitted to murder anyone.

Question 8: Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?

Yes, for two reasons. First, because Jesus taught it, and second because Jesus set the example by laying down his life to pay for our rebellion. Additionally, the doctrines of eternal life and proportional rewards would make self-sacrifice rational. In Christianity and Judaism, there is a tradition of refusing to dishonor God even at the point of death.

If you read books by agnostic sociologist Rodney Stark, you will see how the earliest Christians were reckless about their own lives and safety as they served others. They did not think that death was this terrible thing to be avoided, especially if the threat of death was preventing you from being good.

None of this goodness is rational on atheism, of course.

Question 9: Could you condemn slavery in a society where it was accepted, on rational grounds?

Easy. Convert them to Christianity with the evidence. It is very important to understand the difference between atheism and Christianity when it comes to what other people are for.

On atheism, as we saw from the answers, other people exist to make you happy, because that is the purpose of your life. If other people make you unhappy, say, by offering to pray for you using their right to free speech, then you can bring the force of the state to bear on them to force them to give up their free speech in order to restore your happy feelings.

There are no “human rights” that we are endowed with by our Creator, on atheism. It’s just survival of the fittest. Each person X tries to force other people to produce happy feelings for X. An atheist has no reason to care about your illusory human rights, especially if your illusory human rights are blocking them from being happy.

On Christian theism, other people have an objective purpose: to freely respond to God, and to prioritize their lives based on that vertical relationship. They don’t exist to make you happy. When a Christian sees someone else, we are not interested in forcing them make us feel happy. Our job is to reconcile that person with God, by answering their questions and taking care of them. No coercion is permitted, because even God does not coerce.

In view of this, if you met a slave, and you were an atheist, you would have no reason not to force that slave to make you happy, by force, unless not doing so made you happier. The only thing that might stop you is peer pressure, but that’s not a rational argument.

Slavery is also similar to abortion and suppression of religious expression. You disregard the rights of others and force them to please you. Abortion denies the right to life, slavery denies the right to liberty, and secular humanism denies freedom of religious speech: all in order to increase the happiness of people who have no grounding for morality or human rights. It’s survival of the fittest. Might makes right.

Christians have reasons to ground morality and human rights. That is why the committed Christians resisted Nazism during world war 2, even though they would have been “happier” going along with it. But that would have been irrational, on Christianity. Happiness is not the greatest thing for us, and death is not the end of the story. It’s rational to do the right thing, on Christianity. On atheism? Not so much.

Question 10: Is there ultimate significance for acting morally or not?

Yes. On Christianity, you have relationships that go on into the the future for eternity, with God and other believers. Two things are affected by your actions: 1) where you go when you die is a result of whether you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and 2) your reward and punishment will be based on how you loved God and loved others. And I would also say that the kinds of experiences (suffering, defending, etc.) that you have while partnering with God will matter, too.

Question 11: Is there an objective purpose to life?

Yes, as I said before, we were all made for a purpose: to know God as he is, to be reconciled with him through Christ’s atoning death. Your job is to be reconciled, to re-prioritize your life in light of God’s goals, and to help others to do the same, if they let you. With respect to God’s goals, your happiness is expendable. And that is exactly what Jesus exemplified.

Question 12: How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true?

I converted on my own, after reading the New Testament, against the wishes of my family and friends. I believed in God based on the cosmological and moral arguments, and the New testament was obviously of the historical genre. I knew no Christians then and met no Christians for 5 years after my conversion. There were no social benefits to converting, but only penalties of being unpopular and different.

But who cares what other people think of you? It’s better to win debates and to be morally good.

Question 13: What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?

I need to work on reading the Bible more and going to church more. I am very uncomfortable with the feminized church and what goes on in it. Many of the Christians that you meet in the feminized church are nothing like me – they pursue happiness in the same way that atheists do, and they would not allow any principle or allegiance to limit that pursuit. They certainly do not read apologetics and prepare a defense. They have no will to defend God’s existence and character in public.

I had very few bad habits to undo following my conversion. The biggest problem was pride, and constantly comparing yourself to others and looking down on them.  Also, I had to learn to let people have space not to believe, even if they were wrong.

Christianity isn’t just about winning arguments – you can win the arguments and the person may still not follow Jesus. I had to learn that this was “Working As Designed” as we software engineers say. I was very clean other than that; chaste, sober, poor, etc. I was too young then to have done anything really bad.

Today I am:

  • Chaste. I could not fit love and marriage together with my prior commitment to Christianity. (see 1 Cor 7)
  • Sober. I have about 1 beer a year. Some years I don’t have any beers. I don’t smoke or use drugs.
  • Frugal. I use cardboard boxes for furniture, and I spend more on charity than I do on vacations. I have no TV. I don’t go to movies.
  • Self-controlled. I just don’t pursue pleasure that much – I hate spending money, time and effort on “happiness”.
  • Authentic. I am very public about my faith. I am willing to be different. I don’t need the approval of anyone. Peer-pressure and social conventions exert no force over me. I went through school resisting secularism and socialism, and came out 100% opposed to the views of my teachers and professors.

I am remorseful about the immoral things that I still do, but I am working on those.

And so, to my atheist readers, I hope that you remember one thing from reading this testimony.

I am not like you.

55 Responses

  1. SeeH says:

    Nice to get a deeper insight to your belief.

    Regarding the chaste statement—are you implying that all Christians need to be chaste in order to be a good Christian? I don’t understand…

  2. SeeH says:

    Sorry, I’m very ignorant about the concept.

    Is it just no sex outside of marriage, or no marriage altogether?

  3. Paul C says:

    Ironically from your description of your life you sound a lot like me, so I’m not sure what your point is. Perhaps you could clarify?

  4. Joseph Patterson says:

    Wintery Knight,
    I have just recently discovered your blog and enjoy it very much. I very much sympathize with your thoughts on the feminization of many an evangelical Church which ultimately led me to pursue something deeper and whole. I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian who has come to appreciate the idea of the spiritual athlete that is often emphasized in the Orthodox Church. I was wondering if you have ever been to or considered the Orthodox Church? Thanks for your time. God bless you.- Joseph

  5. bboy says:

    Mr Knight,

    Don’t pull a Frank Schaeffer on us now!

  6. Joseph Patterson says:

    I don’t consider Frank Shaeffer a good representative of Eastern Orthodoxy. I am very disappointed with his books concerning his parents(I cut my teeth on Francis Shaeffer) and his critiques of Protestantism are just plain mean. I have found Orthodoxy to be a good balance of the mind in the heart. While I am not sure EO will help you win more arguments but it will give you a more rounded worldview.

    Pax,
    Joseph

  7. Joseph Patterson says:

    Wintry Knight,
    If you ever want to get a taste of what’s going on in the area of philosophy from an EO perspective then I recommend a site by a philosopher at the U. of Kentucky, Dr. David Bradshaw. http://www.uky.edu/~dbradsh/ God bless.

  8. Shalini says:

    I have a question. I don’t know, may be it’s not my place to ask you this, but why are you a Protestant? I mean, you chose to be a Christian alright, but why exactly did you choose to be a Protestant Christian? I simply want to know what your arguments are in support of Protestantism. And obviously you have a choice to answer or not.

    • I hope none of Catholic readers will be too mean to me. Basically, Protestants derive their doctrines solely from the Bible “Sola Scriptura” and Catholics think the church has authority to interpret the Bible, and that there are some doctrines that emerged after the Bible which are authoritative for Christians.

      There are two main reasons:

      First, there is the mechanism of how we are saved:
      In Protestantism, God initiates the process of saving man (“justification”) because man is too sinful to choose God unaided. I believe that man can choose to respond to God’s initiative (“grace”) or not, so that ultimately, man is responsible for what happens to him. However, salvation is a gift of God. No individual works that man can do can lose his salvation. I am different from many Protestants because I believe salvation can be lost, but only by the failure to believe.

      When you see a Protestant doing good works, he is engaged in a process called “sanctification”. This process is concerned with how a person imitates Christ in order to be good. Failure to perform good works will not lose you your salvation, so long as you still believe. In Protestantism, the church’s influence is minimal. The church plays no role your salvation.

      In Catholicism, certain works are necessary in order to keep your salvation. For example, you must attend mass regularly.

      Second, there is the problem of certain doctrines which I don’t think are in the Bible or in church history:

      + Purgatory and indulgences
      + the Papacy
      + immaculate conception of Mary
      + perpetual virginity of Mary
      + Mary’s bodily assumption into Heaven
      + Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ
      + Universalism

      Conclusion:
      My advice for you is to listen to some debates on these topics with Calvinist Protestant James White and Catholics like Mitchell Pacwa and Gerry Matatics, etc., and to see how well they do. I’ve actually considered becoming a Catholic, and as part of that search, I listened to these debates. The end result was that I did not become a Catholic. I am not a Calvinist Protestant, either. I am a Wesleyan Protestant.

      I just looked and I am having trouble finding them online, although they used to be in 2002-2003 when I was looking.

      You can buy there here, though. I recommend only the ones with Mitchell Pacwa, as he is less angry than Matatics.

      By the way, I don’t want to start a debate in this post, so e-mail we if you want to talk about it further.

      • john says:

        if someone stops believing (and loses their salvation, according to what you believe), could they get saved again, if they start to believe again at a later time? Thanks, great blog.

        • This is controversial, but I think so.

          • Joseph Veseli says:

            Not that I believe that one can lose his salvation, still seeking an answer for that, I would say that an examination of Hebrews 6 would nullify anyone being permitted to regain salvation as it were.

      • Paradox says:

        I must be missing something, the Catholic Church, from what I’ve learned about them, do not teach universalism.

        As for the other things, there are two things I’ve been researching (because I have never been a member) lately that seem to need clarification.

        Catholicism does not teach that salvation is by works and faith. To them, works and faith are the outcomes of accepting God’s grace. As such, if one has grace, one cannot have just faith, or just works.
        Also, this seems to be a common misconception: Purgatory, supposedly, is not some weird limbo between Heaven and Hell (that’s what Earth is, so to speak); Purgatory is more like Heaven’s porch or front door.

        I do not claim to be an expert, but I hope I have not made error on these points.

        One final observation: if I really understand what I am looking at, it seems to me that the split between the Catholic and Protestant branches ultimately derives from two things: the foremost being the church’s authority to interpret the Holy Writing, the second being the distinction between venial and mortal sins.

  9. Bill Pratt says:

    Thanks for writing this about yourself. I had a different path to Christianity, but I am always fascinated by the conversion stories of others.

    By the way, you are one prolific writer! Some of my church buddies were talking about you the other night at my house, and we were all wondering how many hours a day you spend on your blog!! You put the rest of us to shame…

    • Well, (sigh). Commenter ECM, who is a deist, helps me out a ton with stories, and so does my best friend Andrew, who has a super marriage to his wonderful wife Jen. (She helps him to have time to help me!)

      I am now in my early thirties, and this is the first time when I ever once felt accepted by Christians. I could tell you horror story after horror story about churches and campus groups opposing my efforts to show Bill Craig debates or to organize lectures, etc.. There was strong opposition to apologetics as well as conservative politics. I have had much greater success dealing with atheists, who are more open to apologetics.

      This is the first time where I felt really free to say what I think about interesting things, and I am delighted that so many Christians enjoy reading it. (My atheists friends always enjoyed listening to me and watching debates, everywhere that I worked so far).

  10. Mats says:

    Wintery,
    I liked your words, but you should consider Exodus 20:11 again (six day creation). The same “evidence” that materialists use for the big bang is prety much in the same line of “evidence” they use for “macro-evolution”.
    It’s important not to give an inch to the materilists when it comes to our origins, because if we do, we are essencially saying that God was Unable to tell us how the universe began.

    Did God know that there theory of evolution would come? Yes, He did. Did He know that people would use the big bang as a way to remove God from the picture? Yes. (I know that the original proposer of the big bang cosmology was a belgium religious man, but it the model itself as non-Biblical assumptions. The Bible says that the Earth came before the sun, but the big bang model reverses it. There are other contradictions, but that is one of them.)

    BUt good job!

    • Paradox says:

      I think that you are right to be concerned with giving atheists an inch. They’ll take the whole nine yards with them (Postmodernists seem to be the exception, as they let us keep the nine-yards, and produce their own)!

      However, I think that a sound Biblical interpretation allows for Big Bang cosmology, and it seems conceivable that a plausible interpretation could be given which allows evolution (with a few caveats, but never mind that right now).

      I will start by presenting a proof that accepting Young Earth Creationism should not be dogmatic, even though there is nothing in it that affects salvation.

      1) The best interpretation of the Bible does not give atheists an advantage, in any branch of knowledge.
      2) The Young Earth Creationist Interpretation gives atheists an advantage in at least one branch of knowledge.
      3) Therefore, the Young Earth Creationist Interpretation is not the best interpretation of the Bible.

      The flaw with the argument, I think, is that it could be used to argue against Progressive Creationism (and force us to use an allegorical interpretation), because `evolution` is largely considered as a branch of knowledge. So the question of what constitutes a branch of knowledge needs to be answered as well. A field of inquiry is a branch of knowledge if and only if definite answers about reality can be derived from this field. So defined, philosophy is not a branch of knowledge, it is the foundation of knowledge. “Evolution,” as you use the word, is now a philosophy, not a science, not an art, not history.

      The contradictions between big bang cosmology and your interpretation are certainly striking, but the Progressive Creationist Interpretation resolves them –at least the major ones. A small number of plausible postulates underlie our exegetical work. Firstly, the Hebrew word “YOM” (pronounced “yome”), does not always mean a literal, twenty-four hour day. (There are numerous exceptions to the `rules` Answers In Genesis devised in order to exclude competing models.) “YOM” can refer to a large time-span. Second, after Genesis i.2, the reference frame of the narrative shifts from outer space to the surface of the Earth, and stays there. (“Now the Earth was formless and void, and the Spirit of God was brooding over the surface of THE DEEP.”) Third, the phrase, “And then there was Morning, and then there was Evening,” is an expression, denoting completion of a task by God (or we could call it “The End of an Era”…). Finally, the reference to the animals is in reference to mammals and birds (“Soulish Creatures” are what the Hebrew word “NEPHESH” refers to; to be “soulish” is to possess mind, will, and emotion). I don’t want to put something too lengthy up, and I believe that it will be easy to use these assumptions on one’s own, so that I don’t need to elaborate.

      Finally, I want to bring some interesting data-points to the table, as the insight provided ought to be helpful for us:
      1) In Jewish tradition, it is believed that “before” God created the universe, He inhabited eternity, filling it uniformly. Then, God “moved out of the way,” creating a “hollow” at the center, and He put a small portion of His essence into it. This essence was not matter, but it had the capacity to transform into matter. This essence became the universe as we know it today.
      2) In the Bible, we see passages that speak of astronomy and cosmology, and these passages are consistent with the big bang theory. The Bible tells us that the universe began to exist, that the universe is expanding (ref. Isaiah 44.24), and that the universe will “wear out” (Psalms 102.25-27).
      3) Even if we accept the “Appearance of Age” argument against the data that is given in favor of an ancient universe, the “Appearance of History” argument makes God a liar. Take Adam, although he had the appearance of age, if you were there to examine him, I predict that you would not have found any scars, or other signs that Adam had been there for longer than he had been. He looked old, but examination would reveal that he was not.

  11. Provocateur says:

    You talk about getting a C and being satisfied because you were not cheating. Was this before or after your conversion?
    I believe that people are good or bad, their choice. I know of some “christians” who I don’t want near me and some non-christians who I am proud to have as my friends.
    I think that to imply that only Christians have morals is a step too far.
    BTW. I consider myself to be a (non-judgemental) Christian.
    PS. Living like a monk is not required of us.

    • SeeH says:

      Wintery is not implying that non-Christians are devoid of morals, but that only people who believe in God have OBJECTIVE morals. It’s a key distinction, but even outspoken-atheists like Christopher Hitchens often fail to distinguish between the two.

    • James says:

      “I believe that people are good or bad, their choice.”

      There’s a problem with that very widely held belief. Why would a person, who has ostensibly chosen to do good, ever do something bad?

  12. Hugh says:

    Holy Righteousness, dude! I feel I need to humbly offer a little defense for us atheists… We (those that feel there is no evidence for God), or at least I, do not live for the pusuit of happiness. I live for my children, my family, my friends – in short, my relationships and fellowship with others. In the end, that’s all we have, and even though the materialist worldview condemns even these as meaningless in a Godless universe, they are real and tangible in the present, and they give purpose, fleeting and cosmically inconsequential as that may be. As a former (nominal) Christian, I know where you are coming from, but isolating yourself from your community and eschewing personal relationships in the pursuit of knowing God is an unfortunate way to go through life.

    • Right, those reasons are all subjective. You do what you do because you like it, there is no real morality there. Other people who choose to abort their children, have children out of wedlock, or cheat on their wives for happiness have the same justification as you: I did it because I preferred to do it, and I don’t care about the consequences to others.

      On your view, there is no right and wrong, and no way we ought to be. Some people do what you do, and others don’t – choose what you like. You say these things are good (what you choose) because you are smuggling in a standard of morality from a Christian culture that you repudiate. Your choices, on your view, are arbitrary. But you expect us to assume a Christian worldview and then approve of you. But that’s not morality. It has no merit at all, on your view. It’s randomness and it doesn’t matter ultimately what you do.

      You feel there is no evidence for God. Have you looked into it? Ever seen a debate? How do Christians argue for the truth of their faith? In my experience, atheists believe what they believe because it makes it easier to justify their hedonism. They don’t encounter the evidence – they avoid it.

  13. McSpinster says:

    Wintery:

    Who/what is God to you? This seems to be a central aspect of how you prove his existence. Have read through your postings and don’t see a clear answer of how you define Him/Her/It. And can you keep it to two short paragraphs, max? The Cliff Notes version, in other words.

    Thanks.

    • The eternal, non-material Creator and Designer of the physical universe who reveals himself most directly to us by stepping into history as the man, Jesus. Just the classical Christian theism view.

  14. Hugh says:

    Your characterization of atheists is generally true, I admit. Most just haven’t thought about it, being raised in a largely secular society there is simply no frame of reference for them when they’re old enough to really think about these things or to care. Not to trump my own situation as above theirs (as I know there are millions like me) but I believe my apostasy came from an informed place, having been raised a Christian. And, as any former theist will tell you, much as I’m firmly on the dark side of the fence, I continue to find the pursuit of arguments and evidences for and against the existence of god both intellectually and epistemologically rewarding. I am familiar with William Lane Craig, seen his debates, deplore the arrogance of Hitchens and Dawkins (even though I unfortunately agree with their central premise that the universe is indifferent to us earthlings), and I’m even sloughing at the moment through Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell”. And hey, I’m reading your blog, aren’t I?

    In any event, everything you say about the arbitrariness of morality in the absence of an objective one is also true. But… I have accepted that, as seemingly inconsistent and contrary to all our hopes as it may be. Just because our morality is arbitrary and subjective doesn’t mean it can’t be just that. So many theists (and especially Christians) seem as if they just cannot wrap their heads around the possibility that morality IS relative, subjective, and nuero-biological in origin. We might not like it, and we may feel convinced otherwise because it just doesn’t “fit” with our convictions, maybe because we were socialized to think otherwise or maybe, I’ll accept, because there is a “God module” in our brains that helps us out, as it did our ancestors, and can therefore be explained as an adaptation or at the very least an adaptively neutral by-product of a big, conscious brain. But that God module could be expressed in many forms, as it has, around the world, depending on the social and cultural environment in which one is raised. Whether it’s ancestor worship, animism, a Big Daddy in the Sky or worshipping teddy bears. (And I know the “genetic fallacy” retort, but that really is just a “no it’s not, yes it is” cyclical go-nowhere).

    I respect your beliefs and convictions; I accept my worldview to you seems like I want it all – to be nice, to live in a nice society where morality isn’t subjectively determined by lots of little Hitlers running the show, etc, etc, and not to have to pay homage or self-sacrifice to a God. Talk about cake and eating it. But, that’s just how it is – society wouldn’t work if we were all jerks to one another, and so really one cannot make the argument that “if morality is totally random and biological in origin, why isn’t systematic rape and pillaging the norm?”, because that’s simply not a system that would gain an evolutionary foothold. Evolution has more constraints than it does degrees of freedom, by many, many orders of magnitude. So religion doesn’t have the monopoly on morality – morality can exist in the absence of an objective standard. It’s an artifact of the social brain, and that’s ok. How to rule nation states, well, that’s up to the humanists and political theorists to figure out. We need some marriage of utilitarianism and divinely-backed ethics to keep the little people happy.

    anyway, if you choose to post this maybe it belongs in your “can atheists be moral” page.

    • Drew says:

      Yeah, morality can evolve in the absence of an objective standard — for ANTS, not for humans.

    • Paradox says:

      The more I come here, the more I feel my screen name fits me.

      You say that rape and pillage wouldn’t be the normal thing in an evolutionary universe because it wouldn’t gain a foot-hold. I disagree, on the grounds that if you were right, then social instincts should have been selected _against_. Raping some creature to propagate one’s genes would allow one to spread their genes faster than marriages, where one needs to raise the children (this implies that children that can survive without nurturing should be selected for as well). The organisms that can rape the most without being killed as a result of self-defense would be selected for, while organisms that cannot rape as many would not propagate their genes as often so would, predictably, be selected against. Male and female could both carry out these acts, and so the effect would actually be _more_ effective in selecting the strongest, since genetic weaknesses could likely be hiding in females, under the usual system of fighting for a mate we see in our universe. Rape then, is actually _preferred_ in evolution.

      Your point about pillaging is completely and obviously correct. If organisms are not social, they will not produce large enough amounts of some resource (usually –but not necessarily– food) for it to be worth stealing in a violent manner like this. If they are social, then it wouldn’t be the normal thing because one would expect the majority of any given social group to go pillaging at any given time. No social group would survive for very long because they wouldn’t be allocating resources that they had gathered in a more efficient manner toward long-term survival. Due to how organisms reproduce according to how much food is available, rather than what one could reasonably expect to be available in the near future, this system would fail.

      Even if we say that you are right about evolution of rape and other ‘evils’ it does nothing to defeat the moral argument. All it does is weaken the beliefs that some people have about our _knowledge_ of morals, rather than the _existence_ of morals.

      We aren’t open to the possibility of morals being subjective because it doesn’t make sense to us. What, we should ignore our properly basic beliefs about reality in order to embrace a system that is inconsistent? We are expected to act orderly in a system that has no good reason for structured, sensible behavior. We have properly basic beliefs about structured behavior. That is the strength of the moral argument.

      As a good argument against “Belief in God is an Evolutionary By-Product” would be epistemic in nature. Here’s mine:
      1. If belief in God is an evolutionary by-product, evolution can propagate false beliefs.
      2. If evolution can propagate false beliefs, then our properly basic beliefs about reality are questionable, even if true.
      3. Our properly basic beliefs about reality are what we base our knowledge on.
      4. Belief in God is an evolutionary by-product.
      5. Therefore, our beliefs are questionable.
      6. Therefore, our knowledge of the world is questionable.
      C. We cannot know anything about the world.
      The argument shows that we cannot allow the evolution of false beliefs to be biological. You will need to explain through other methods that theists are mistaken. We have given numerous arguments based on sound logic, so you can only really question the premises. I warn you, many of these premises are required in order to make sense of the world at all.

  15. Desmognathus says:

    Thanks for posting this. I always like hearing how people come to Christ.

  16. This is a great blog, found you through apologetics315.

    Great to read how people came to Christ. Look forward to delving in to the crazy amount of posts you have. All looks good so far!

  17. Paulen says:

    I see your origins are half hindu-half muslim in.Which part of India did your parents come from ?

  18. Justin says:

    Question 7: Is there a way for you to rationally persuade an atheist dictator to grant you mercy?

    Easy. Convert him to Christianity with the evidence. Christians are not permitted to murder anyone.

    I disagree with your answer here. Most problematic, in my opinion, is “Convert him to Christianity with the evidence”. According to Romans 1, people already know the truth they just suppress the knowledge. This is due to our total depravity. We run from God. Even though in debates the theist almost always smashes the atheist, it does not convert the atheist. If atheists are right and there is no God, then why should the care to debate the subject at all? What difference would our beliefs make to them? They want to suppress the knowledge for whatever reason, mainly they do not want to submit to anything.

    It takes a miracle by the Holy Spirit to get us to a point where we can accept Christianity. Not that we choose Christianity based on the evidence. Although evidence is a very useful tool.

    Most arguments for creation or naturalism are logical fallacies anyways. It is called affirming the consequent. The scientific method itself suffers this logical fallacy as well. So, if evidence is essentially founded on logical fallacies then why should we put trust in them? To put in a more precise question, which pieces of data are truly true, and which ones only seem true, and how would you know the difference? That is why I am essentially a presumptionalist. Although, I do like evidentialists argumentation for evangelical purposes.

    All knowledge flows from God and the Bible and that must be our knowledge base before proper scientific inquiry can happen. Science is the handmaiden to theology.

    • Which argument for creation is a logical fallacy? Name it. And I want a link to the argument and then explain the fallacy in the argument.

      My concern with pre-suppositionalism is that it is unBiblical – Jesus used the evidence form miracles, and his apostles used the evidence from his resurrection.

      I do use pre-sup arguments (morality, reason) but I must punish you for saying bad things about arguments from nature.

  19. MQ says:

    Hi wintery

    I’m a regular reader on this blog though I’ve never commented.
    I was wondering if you have any resources for guidance in life matters , for troubled times , making important decisions and other stuff .. nothing to do with apologetics of course.I’m familiar with most of the arguments in apologetics.

    Oh I’m an orhthodox christian from Bangalore.Cheers !

  20. Wintery:

    !

    You have some GREAT stuff here. THANK YOU for putting all this online and allowing the general public access to God’s everlasting glory.

    LOVE the line about the feminization of churches and this rather anti-intellectual stance of being against apologetics. The symptom of this “disease” is that I walk into any Christian bookstore and the section on Apologetics is wafer thin.

    Really heartfelt thanks. Again.

    Fred Woodbridge

  21. MQ says:

    yeah insighftful stuff.This blog does a great job of reconciling politics , culture and christianity in the West.

    Why not do the odd post that explores Christianity in the East – that’s half the world out there – a billion adherents ;-)

  22. Oguni Tracy says:

    You have a really great blog. I just wanted to make one point. You ought to pursue happiness. I think it’s one of the wonderful things God has given us. I don’t think you should let it dominate your life, but doing what makes you happy – a few books and movies now and then – is good.

    • Jeremy says:

      Wisdom Literature (e.g. Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) has a lot to say on the topic of happiness (Greek usage) and wisdom. It ought to be pursued when understood properly.

  23. Oguni Tracy says:

    WK,

    I noticed you don’t have the ontological argument on your ‘Why I’m a Christian page’. Is it that you don’t think it’s a sound argument? I know a guy whose formulation of the argument is virtually irrefutable.

  24. Rob Strom says:

    I don’t want to get into the full religious argument, but a small point, speaking as a Jew:

    The first commandment of the Jewish Sh’ma is actually: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”. What you excerpted was not the Sh’ma, but rather the V’ahavta.

    I wonder if you leave out this sentence because Trinitarian Christians (which would include most American Protestants) deny or at least radically modify the idea that God is One, replacing it with the mysterious Three Persons in One Substance. The v’ahavta goes on to say:

    “These words which I am commanding you today must remain on your heart. Teach them to your children and speak of them when you are at home, when traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind [these words] as a sign on your hand, and let them be an emblem in the center of your head. [Also] write them on [parchments affixed to] the doorposts of your houses and gates.”

    Aside from the requirement to put a mezzuzah on your doorpost (which you can think of as symbolic), it also is a requirement to preserve the commandments of the Law as perpetual commandments, which Pauline Christians (which would also include almost all American Protestants) also reject. (Hebrews 8: “In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”)

    So while I love the watchword of our faith, I find it unusual for a Protestant to try to quote it as the basis of his.

    • Paradox says:

      “The lord our God is [echad]” Echad is the Hebrew word for compound unity. “The Lord our God is [compound unity]“. If God were a monad, rather than a triad, the passage from the sh’ma would read “The Lord our God is [yachid]“, which represents absolute oneness.

      What I want to know is whether the V’ahasta is in the Bible, and I’m going to see if your objection can be answered.

      Pauline Christians also reject that the ten commandments are perpetual commands? I guess I’m not Pauline, then. Paul said that the law does not save us, but he still condemned those who acted against it. It seems these Pauline people are not very “Paulish.”
      This is probably one of the ONLY things that I agree with Catholics about, where disagreement is not heresy: “One is saved by grace, and this grace is revealed to men by the faith and works of those who accept it.” Hence, to keep the Decalogue is important.

  25. [...] *Questions 11 and 12 are taken from a similar list on Wintery Knight. [...]

  26. Steve James says:

    You make all sorts of claims about atheists and atheism which either aren’t true or are true of only some of us.

    Atheism means a disbelief in God. Nothing else necessarily follows from this.

    • If you make the claim that there is no being that created and designed the universe, and you have reasons and evidence to show why you believe it, then you are an atheist.

  27. Steve James says:

    Yes. Even if you have no reason or evidence you’d still be an atheist. It is the other claims you make about atheism that aren’t necessarily implied.

  28. Haley says:

    I stumbled across your blog not long ago and what I have read so far, I like.

    I had one question for you though. In what way do you believe you can lose your salvation? I’m not quite understanding that in your post.

  29. Isabela says:

    I love your blog. Congratulations from a reader in Brazil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,385,548 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,072 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,072 other followers