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.