Tag Archives: atheism

Paul, William Blake, evolutionary morality and you

good and evil | William BlakeFor Paul, good and evil are at war in his heart. He longs to please God with his entire being, but fleshly temptations assail him and make it impossible. Only because of grace, only because of Christ’s sacrifice, is he saved. And freed from this war, he rejoices that Christ has done what he could not do. He rejoices to be in right relationship with God and thanks God for unilaterally removing the barrier that separated him from God.

William Blake doesn’t put evil and good at war. They are both poles of the same reality. In his “Songs of Innocence and of Experience,” he even changes the name of evil into “experience.” When we are innocent children, life is wonderful. But when we grow up, we become aware of temptations and begin to sample them and “experience” life. Ultimately, it was God who made us to grow up in puberty and “wake up” to other realities, according to his view. Blake seemed to revel in the role of an iconoclast, asserting heresy for shock value, much like Edgar Allen Poe did when he forged the horror genre.

What’s your conception of evil and good? A popular theory from evolution dismisses entirely the idea. And since the notion of a completely amoral society is untenable (not to mention denying the obvious inborn conscience we all have), lately theorists have forwarded the notion that we “evolved” morals as “communal” animals. It will be interesting to see what sort of evidence scientists assemble to support this theory. It will be even more interesting to see if they can agree on what sort of behavior is morally acceptable or condemned. In the meantime, it seems that this notion is a frantic attempt to shore up evolution, which fails entirely to account for the intellectual and emotional complexity of humans, which corroborates better the Biblical version than man is separate from the animals, not evolved.

Image from New York Times

Image from New York Times

But while intellectual concepts are floated into public discussion and enjoy moments of popularity and then die out, be careful what concepts you choose for your own life. Because you will be held accountable for your choices. If you reject God because His system conflicts with your personal pleasures, you could wind up in hot water.

Peter Hitchens on atheism, faith and the relationship with his brother, anti-theist Christopher

Peter Hitchens at right.

Peter Hitchens at right.

I set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was 15 years old. The book did not, as I had hoped, blaze fiercely and swiftly.

Only after much blowing and encouragement did I manage to get it to ignite at all, and I was left with a disagreeable, half-charred mess.

Most of my small invited audience drifted away long before I had finished, disappointed by the anticlimax and the pettiness of the thing. Thunder did not mutter.

It would be many years before I would feel a slight shiver of unease about my act of desecration. Did I then have any idea of the forces I was trifling with?

In truth, it was not much of a Bible. It was bound in shiny pale blue boards with twiddly writing on the cover, a gift from my parents and until that moment treated with proper reverence, and some tenderness.

In front of a statue of Lenin

In front of a statue of Lenin

But this was my Year Zero. I was engaged in a full, perfect and complete rebellion against everything I had been brought up to believe.

As I had been raised to be an English gentleman, this was quite an involved process. It included behaving like a juvenile delinquent, using as much foul language as I could find excuse for, mocking the weak (there was a wheelchair-bound boy in my year, who provided a specially shameful target for this impulse), insulting my elders, and eventually breaking the law.

The full details would be tedious for most people, and unwelcome to my family. Let us just say they include some political brawling with the police, some unhinged dabbling with illegal drugs, an arrest – richly merited by my past behaviour but actually wrongful – for having an offensive weapon and nearly killing someone, and incidentally myself, through criminal irresponsibility while riding a motorcycle.

There were also numberless acts of minor or major betrayal, ingratitude, disloyalty, dishonour, failure to keep promises and meet obligations, oath-breaking, cowardice, spite or pure selfishness. Nothing I could now do or say could possibly atone for them.

I talk about my own life at more length than I would normally think right because I need to explain that I have passed through the same atheist revelation that most self-confident British members of my generation – I was born in 1951 –have experienced.

We were sure that we, and our civilisation, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels and Heaven. We had modern medicine, penicillin, jet engines, the Welfare State, the United Nations and ‘ science’, which explained everything that needed to be explained.

The Britain that gave me this self-confidence was an extraordinarily safe place, or at least so it felt to me as a child. Of our many homes, I was fondest of a modest house in the village of Alverstoke, just across the crowded water from Portsmouth.

It is almost impossible now to express the ordered peace which lingered about the quiet shaded gardens and the roads without traffic, where my parents let me and my brother Christopher wander unsupervised.

Dark green buses with conductors wearing peaked caps would bear us past a favourite toyshop to the Gosport ferry, from which we could view the still substantial Navy in which my father had served.

Then we made our way to the department store where my mother took me and Christopher, neatly brushed and tamed, for tea, eclairs and cream horns served by frilly waitresses.

There was nothing, however, peaceful about my relationship with Christopher. Some brothers get on; some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t. Who knows why?

At one stage – I was about nine, he nearly 12 – my poor gentle father actually persuaded us to sign a peace treaty in the hope of halting our feud. I can still picture this doomed pact in its red frame, briefly hanging on the wall.

To my shame, I was the one who repudiated it, ripped it from its frame and angrily erased my signature, before recommencing hostilities. In a way, the treaty has remained broken ever since. Our rivalry was to last 50 years, and religion was one of its later causes.

My own, slow return to faith began when I was 30, in 1981. By this time, I was doing well in my chosen trade, journalism. I could afford pleasant holidays with my girlfriend, whom I should nowadays call my ‘partner’ since we were not then married, on the European continent.

I no longer avoided churches. I recognised in the great English cathedrals, and in many small parish churches, the old unsettling messages.

One was the inevitability of my own death, the other the undoubted fact that my despised forebears were neither crude nor ignorant, but men and women of great skill and engineering genius, a genius not contradicted or blocked by faith, but enhanced by it.

No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.

I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.

These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions.

On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.

I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

At around the same time I rediscovered Christmas, which I had pretended to dislike for many years. I slipped into a carol service on a winter evening, diffident and anxious not to be seen.

I knew perfectly well that I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition, and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.

I am not exactly clear now how this led in a few months to my strong desire – unexpected by me or by my friends, but encouraged by my then unbelieving future wife – to be married in church.

But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England’s marriage service, at St Bride’s in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.

The swearing of great oaths concentrates the mind. So did the baptisms first of my daughter and then of my wife who, raised as a Marxist atheist, trod another rather different path to the same place.

Word spread around my trade that I was somehow mixed up in church matters. It was embarrassing. I remember a distinguished foreign correspondent, with a look of mingled pity and horror on his face, asking: ‘How can you do that?’

I talked to few people about it, and was diffident about mentioning it in anything I wrote. I think it true to say that for many years I was more or less ashamed of confessing to any religious faith at all, except when I felt safe to do so.

It is a strange and welcome side effect of the growing attack on Christianity in British society that I have now overcome this.

Being Christian is one thing. Fighting for a cause is another, and much easier to acknowledge – for in recent times it has grown clear that the Christian religion is threatened with a dangerous defeat by secular forces which have never been so confident.

Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.

The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of powerworship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.

While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher’s passion against God grew more virulent and confident.

As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe.

Christopher and I are separate people who, like many siblings, have lived entirely different lives since our childhood.

But since it is obvious much of what I say arises out of my attempt to debate religion with him, it would be absurd to pretend that much of what I say here is not intended to counter or undermine arguments he presented in his book, God Is Not Great, published in 2007.

I do not loathe atheists, as Christopher claims to loathe believers. I am not angered by their failure to see what appears obvious to me. I understand that they see differently. I do think that they have reasons for their belief, as I have reasons for mine, which are the real foundations of this argument.

It is my belief that passions as strong as his are more likely to be countered by the unexpected force of poetry, which can ambush the human heart at any time.

It is also my view that, as with all atheists, he is his own chief opponent. As long as he can convince himself, nobody else will persuade him. His arguments are to some extent internally coherent and are a sort of explanation – if not the best explanation – of the world and the universe.

He often assumes that moral truths are self-evident, attributing purpose to the universe and swerving dangerously round the problem of conscience – which surely cannot be conscience if he is right since the idea of conscience depends on it being implanted by God. If there is no God then your moral qualms might just as easily be the result of indigestion.

Yet Christopher is astonishingly unable to grasp that these assumptions are problems for his argument. This inability closes his mind to a great part of the debate, and so makes his atheist faith insuperable for as long as he himself chooses to accept it.

One of the problems atheists have is the unbelievers’ assertion that it is possible to determine what is right and what is wrong without God. They have a fundamental inability to concede that to be effectively absolute a moral code needs to be beyond human power to alter.

On this misunderstanding is based my brother Christopher’s supposed conundrum about whether there is any good deed that could be done only by a religious person, and not done by a Godless one. Like all such questions, this contains another question: what is good, and who is to decide what is good?

Left to himself, Man can in a matter of minutes justify the incineration of populated cities; the deportation, slaughter, disease and starvation of inconvenient people and the mass murder of the unborn.

I have heard people who believe themselves to be good, defend all these things, and convince themselves as well as others. Quite often the same people will condemn similar actions committed by different countries, often with great vigour.

For a moral code to be effective, it must be attributed to, and vested in, a non-human source. It must be beyond the power of humanity to change it to suit itself.

Its most powerful expression is summed up in the words ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’.

The huge differences which can be observed between Christian societies and all others, even in the twilit afterglow of Christianity, originate in this specific injunction.

It is striking that in his dismissal of a need for absolute theistic morality, Christopher says in his book that ‘the order to “love thy neighbour as thyself” is too extreme and too strenuous to be obeyed’. Humans, he says, are not so constituted as to care for others as much as themselves.

This is demonstrably untrue, and can be shown to be untrue, through the unshakable devotion of mothers to their children; in the uncounted cases of husbands caring for sick, incontinent and demented wives (and vice versa) at their lives’ ends; through the heartrending deeds of courage on the battlefield.

I am also baffled and frustrated by the strange insistence of my anti-theist brother that the cruelty of Communist anti-theist regimes does not reflect badly on his case and on his cause. It unquestionably does.

Soviet Communism is organically linked to atheism, materialist rationalism and most of the other causes the new atheists support. It used the same language, treasured the same hopes and appealed to the same constituency as atheism does today.

When its crimes were still unknown, or concealed, it attracted the support of the liberal intelligentsia who were then, and are even more now, opposed to religion.

Another favourite argument of the irreligious is that conflicts fought in the name of religion are necessarily conflicts about religion. By saying this they hope to establish that religion is of itself a cause of conflict.

This is a crude factual misunderstanding. The only general lesson that can be drawn is that Man is inclined to make war on Man when he thinks it will gain him power, wealth or land.

I tried to present these arguments to Christopher in April 2008, at a debate on the existence of God and the goodness of religion before a large audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Normally, I love to argue in front of audiences and we had been in public debates before. We had had the occasional clash on TV or radio. We had debated the legacy of the Sixties, in a more evenly matched encounter than Grand Rapids, 11 years ago in London.

Not long after that, there had been a long, unrewarding fallingout over something I had said about politics. Both of us were urged by others to end this quarrel, and eventuallyif rather tentatively, did so.

When I attacked his book against God some people seemed almost to hope that our personal squabble would begin again in public. No doubt they would have been pleased or entertained if we had pelted each other with slime in Grand Rapids.

But despite one or two low blows exchanged in the heat of the moment, I do not think we did much to satisfy them. I hope not.

Somehow on that Thursday night in Grand Rapids, our old quarrels were, as far as I am concerned, finished for good. Just at the point where many might have expected –and some might have hoped – that we would rend and tear at each other, we did not.

Both of us, I suspect, recoiled from such an exhibition, which might have been amusing for others, because we were brothers –but would have been wrong, because we are brothers.

At the end I concluded that, while the audience perhaps had not noticed, we had ended the evening on better terms than either of us might have expected. This was, and remains, more important to me than the debate itself.

I have resolved that I will not hold any more such debates with him, because of the danger that they might turn into gladiatorial combat in which nothing would be resolved and enmity could be created.

I am 58. He is 60. We do not necessarily have time for another brothers’ war.

Here is another thing. When our Grand Rapids hosts chose the date of April 3 for this debate, they had no way of knowing that it was the 63rd anniversary of our parents’ wedding: an optimistic, happy day in the last weeks of what had been for both of them a fairly grim war.

Not all the optimism was justified, and with the blessed hindsight of parenthood, I cannot imagine that our long fraternal squabble did much for their later happiness.

They are, alas, long gone but my brother and I had both independently become a little concerned at how we should conduct ourselves on such a day. We had each reached the conclusion, unbidden, that we did not want this to turn into a regular travelling circus, becoming steadily more phoney as it progressed.

Something far more important than a debate had happened a few days before, when Christopher and I had met in his Washington DC apartment. If he despised and loathed me for my Christian beliefs, he wasn’t showing it.

We were more than civil, treating each other as equals, and as brothers with a common childhood, even recalling bicycle rides we used to take together on summer days unimaginably long ago, which I did not even realise he still remembered.

To my astonishment, Christopher cooked supper, a domesticated action so unexpected that I still haven’t got over it. He had even given up smoking.

I am not hoping for a late conversion because he has won the battle against cigarettes. He has bricked himself up high in his atheist tower, with slits instead of windows from which to shoot arrows at the faithful, and would find it rather hard to climb down out of it.

I have, however, the more modest hope that he might one day arrive at some sort of acceptance that belief in God is not necessarily a character fault, and that religion does not poison everything.

Beyond that, I can only add that those who choose to argue in prose, even if it is very good prose, are unlikely to be receptive to a case which is most effectively couched in poetry.

My brother and I agree on this: that independence of mind is immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so. Oddly enough this leads us, in many things, to be far closer than most people think we are on some questions; closer, sometimes, than we would particularly wish to be.

The same paradox sometimes also makes us arrive at different conclusions from very similar arguments, which is easier than it might appear. This will not make us close friends at this stage. We are two utterly different men approaching the ends of two intensely separate lives.

Let us not be sentimental here, nor rashly over-optimistic. But I was astonished, on that spring evening by the Grand River, to find that the longest quarrel of my life seemed unexpectedly to be over, so many years and so many thousands of miles after it had started, in our quiet homes and our first beginnings in an England now impossibly remote from us.

It may actually be true, as I have long hoped that it would be, in the words of T. S. Eliot, that ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written entirely by Peter Hitchens and was published in the UK Daily Mail. I post it for my new friend, Vel, to hopefully answer some of the many questions she poses in my comments. It also may assist and encourage anyone struggling to understand why some of us believe faith is, in fact, the most rational world view. Read it here.

This happened by chance, of course

forgiveness at 9/11

From the New York Times.

Of all the pages in the Bible, the one on forgiveness was “fossilized” in steel at World Trade Center Towers at 9/11. No, there’s no God, and He wasn’t giving a message to America, an erstwhile Christian nation. Missionaries should not take up the call to bring love and forgiveness to the languishing lost in Islam. It is all a coincidence, according to non-believers.

I have copied the article from the New York Times without altering a word, which if you were so inclined you can find here:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

So many chapters. So many verses. But these were the words — from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the Gospel of Matthew — found permanently exposed at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. The pages of the Bible in which they were printed had fused to a chunk of steel as the World Trade Center collapsed, to be found only months later.

The artifact is to be shown to Pope Francis when he visits the National September 11 Memorial Museum. It was given to the museum by the photographer Joel Meyerowitz, whose book “Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive” is the definitive pictorial chronicle of the months following the attack.

A firefighter found the fragment in March 2002, under the Tully Road, a temporary truck route that covered the last remnants of the south tower. He called out to the photographer, who happened to be nearby.

“This shredded, burned and rubble-covered Bible came to me from the loving hands of a fireman who knew that I was the record keeper of ground zero,” Mr. Meyerowitz said Thursday in an e-mail from Italy, where he now lives.

“My astonishment at seeing the page that the Bible was open to made me realize that the Bible’s message survives throughout time,” he said, “and in every era we interpret its teachings freshly, as the occasion demands.”

Why does God always get the blame?

act of God?They call it “Act of God” insurance, and it covers unforeseeable natural disaster. But I wonder why they blame God for bad and give no credit for the good. Why are 1,000 beautiful things in nature considered accidents of evolution?

In fact, God doesn’t exist for the atheist until he needs someone to blame for wars, massacres and disasters. Then He exists and gets blamed. But He gets no credit for the blessings of life, for love, for beauty, for bounty.

They turn God on like a light switch when evil happens. Then they turn Him off during years of wonderful things.

The half-truth is not the problem

witches macbethIt’s the half lie that hurts.

MacBeth is tantalized by the possibility of becoming king. Already the witches’ oracle that he would become the Thane of Cawdor is fulfilled, and that was an impossibility.

So now, the next oracle is bound to happen!

MacBeth, egged on by his power-hungry wife, takes matters into his own hands. He kills the existing king and frames the guards. As MacBeth is the most outstanding Scottish warlord and hero, he is named king.

But then everything begins to spiral downward. He hires some wicked assassins to kill would-be rivals. He hallucinates the ghosts of those he has killed with treachery. His wife goes insane and then dies. The more enemies — real or perceived — he kills, the more they multiply. Does he enjoy even one moment of the power he lusted for?

The witches followed the pattern of the serpent in Eden: You won’t die, Eve. You’ll become like God knowing good and evil. It was a half-truth, and it brought temptation to fruition (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun) and the ultimate demise of humanity.

Modern society is now based on half-truths as the Bible has been discarded and new ideals and new moralities are spreading.

A quixotic effort to deny God

Don QuijoteDon Quixote got his head full of medieval adventures. So enamored was he of the books he read, that eventually he crossed the line from reality to fantasy and decided to embark on a quest to live the knight’s life.

He got a pathetic horse and a pudgey “page” and went forth searching for wrongs to right. At one point he battles with his sword a windmill, hallucinating that it’s an evil giant. Naturally, he lost badly.

I can’t help but think that the quest to prove there’s no God is equally quixotic. To assume that everything come from nothing without anything working upon is the quintessence of absurdity. Science can only track what is measurable, but what is unmeasurable lies outside of science’s ken. To deny the existence of something outside your experience is the height of arrogance.

To think the universe exists without a Creator is like saying a building built itself without an architect or construction worker.

I’m reading the Bible… and you?

I'm reading the BibleThere’s all kinds of great literature around the world. As an English literature undergrad, I personally like Shakespeare best. But none of the literature I’ve ever read compares to the Bible.

It’s all good. The themes have made me a better person, nobler, with refined sentiments. But only the Bible is God’s spoken word to help man get to Heaven.

You can pay attention to the Huffington Post and their brand of recently formulated morality. Or you can base yourself on the formula that has worked for ages, that existed before the foundation of the world.

Former Sandinista now part of God’s army

Alex Delgado | Guatemalan church La PuertaThe Contras slipped in during the wee hours of the morning and slit the throats of sleeping Sandinistas, sometimes 30, sometimes 50, sometimes the whole battalion of 350 before they disappeared undetected into the forbidding jungle.

Not so with Alex Delgado’s battalion. His lieutenant had received training from the strictest military specialists in communist bloc East Germany, and Tito Castillo never let a guard fall asleep.

Alex didn’t join the Sandinistas, the former Marxist government of Nicaragua that the Contras sought to topple, because of ideology. As a matter of fact, Alex really had no idea about the meaning of communism and capitalism.

He was just an 18-year-old, the seventh child in his family, ignored among the many mouths to feed. With no one pushing him to study, with no future in sight, Alex got swept up in the euphoria at the beginnings of the Sandinista government with hopes of eradicating the corruption of the former regime.

But the decision to join what seemed like a winning cause turned into two years of sheer misery. He trudged 10 hours a day, in danger of ambush, in danger of trip wires, gathering energy from inadequate food (they once made soup with roots and tree limbs).

His commander voiced vivid dreams of finding the enemy and decimating them in combat. Inside, Alex prayed to a God he didn’t yet know to never find the enemy – and God granted his wish. The only deaths in his battalion were from an ambush on a supply pickup and a friend while fording a river.

Body bags from other battalions flooded homes; sometimes they were left on the doorstep to be found by parents after soldiers rang the doorbell and fled at midnight.  For the rest of the article, click here.

When you stop hating

Cristiano Ronaldo LA Galaxy

Ronaldo at right

I’m gonna have to stop hating Cristiano Ronaldo. He had everything for me to hate. He played for my team’s greatest rival, Real Madrid. He was so vain; he would always watch the replay. He bragged about how people were always envious of him because he’s so good.

But then he started to change. He donated money to help a kid with a surgery. He grew humbles, stopped watching himself on the replay in the stadium.

Then he announced he’s coming to the L.A. Galaxy, my city, when he retires from Spanish soccer. I’m gonna have to like him now.

Clubhouse burger McDonald'sI’ve found something I really like at McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald and crew always got my harshest rants against unhealthy food. But my dad took me there, so I couldn’t complain. And — surprise! — I liked the clubhouse hamburger. Uh-oh. No more bashing on the golden arches. They’re improving.

A lot of my friends hate God. It hurts my heart. But they really don’t hate God. They assume He doesn’t exist. What they hate are the mistakes of Christians. In many cases, what they hate is misrepresented stories and untruths about Christendom’s path. One friend went so far as to say that Christianity was a bloody religion. My, my, my. If only she knew the truth. True Christianity has eradicated bloodshed around the world. But there are many university professors who have nothing better to do than to misconstrue history.

Are you running from God, in pain from failure everywhere but insistent that the gospel is NOT the answer? With Cristiano Ronaldo, with McDonald’s, I’ve had to do an about face and like what I hated. You might be surprised about how wonderful God’s love truly is.

Prominent scientist came to faith when he examined the data

Francis CollinsThe current head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis S. Collins, came to faith after he set out to disprove God.

“I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments and was astounded to discover that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of God,” he noted on CNN. “My earlier atheist’s assertion that ‘I know there is no God’ emerged as the least defensible.”

A geneticist, Collins was appointed director of the $3 billion international Genome Project in 1993, which completed sequencing the 3.3 billion pairs of nucleotides by 2004. The resulting gene map offers hope to cure genetic disorders.

It also gave Collins a spectacular view into the magnificence, order, and finely-tune perfection of the DNA molecule, God’s software for every living thing. Directorship of the Genome Project was touted as the most prestigious job in science at the time.

“At the most fundamental level, it’s a miracle that there’s a universe at all,” he told National Geographic. “It’s a miracle that allows the possibility of complexity and laws that follow precise mathematical formulas. Contemplating this, an open-minded observer is almost forced to conclude that there must be a ‘must’ behind all this. To me, that qualifies as a miracle, a profound truth that lies outside of scientific explanation.” Read the rest of the articles: scientists who believe in Jesus.

He denied God because of lack of evidence. Then he came across evidence.

atheist turns to ChristAs he left behind childhood Vacation Bible School and studied for a degree in electrical engineering, Clay Lein lost his faith in God.

“I had a very rational mind. It had to be logical. I needed proof. There had to be evidence. And if there wasn’t proof then it was just something people made up,” Lein told KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston. “Part of the training for engineers is to be skeptical, to demand data, to want to see evidence.”

He married, got an MBA and launched a successful career at Intel. All his achievements and the world that surrounded him seemed very concrete and observable. There was no need to believe in something intangible that required you to suspend your scientific mind, he reasoned.

Why would I need God? I mean, if he even existed why would I have any need for him, he thought.

But his wife pleaded with him to attend church, and he acquiesced because he thought “church was a place nice people go.” All the while he tactfully but firmly let people know he was an atheist.

Then he volunteered at a youth camp and that’s when his skepticism got shattered. Read the rest of the article.

Bitter death

Frederic Henry

Frederic Henry in the movie version

You never had time to learn. They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you. Or they killed you gratuitously like Aymo. Or gave you the syphilis like Rinaldi. But they killed you in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you.

— Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms

All the existentialists and atheists have to offer is a dismal outlook. Hemingway’s message: have as much fun as you can in life, enjoy selfish pleasures, but in the end death is cruel and capricious.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

This is a far cry from the Christian cosmovision. Our sins have separated us from God, but we can repent and run to God’s mercy. If we do, we are no longer subject to an arbitrary and harsh life and death. God protects and sustains us. And when we die, we go to Heaven, where we continue to enjoy joy — not the fictitious joys sinners continually try in vain to grasp.

Frederick Nietzsche

Frederick Nietzsche

It amazes me that people can read Hemingway and not turn to God. They embrace his hopelessness and rail against God. His message led him to commit suicide at 61. The Bible says: You will know the tree by its fruit. In other words: Before you buy into someone’s message, see if it worked for that person, at least.

Frederick Nietzsche went insane. Christopher Hitches died of alcoholism-induced cancer. He confessed that he was so bored of people that he kept himself drunk. Jean Paul Sartre took speed to stay up for days and not have to take a break in his writing. The list goes on.

The lost one


Not one of the lost ones in the church in Guatemala.

At 11 years of age, a former student told his little brother and sister to not move while he hung himself in front of them. The tykes obeyed.

What angst or demon would a boy to such unthinkable horrors as rival the Holocaust? I cannot comprehend. It tears me up inside. What could we have done to avoid this?

We don’t win every battle. We lose some badly. Amid the exultings of success stories lurk the blackest stains of those who chose not to listen to the word of God, who opted for worldliness instead of godliness.

Guatemalan kid

The Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta works to save kids from the lostness of the world. Happiness results. This is what moves me.

I’m sorry, but I can’t get excited about a celeb’s fashion faux paux. When you have lived ravages, it’s impossible to dwell on the frivolous.

It galls to hear atheists revile Christians as a great evil. I assure you: It was not a Christian that drove that kid to twisted thoughts, emotions and actions. It was something sinister. It was something we Christians fight against.

Christian Fellowship Ministries

Resting after a soccer game, these youth are part of the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta Christian school in Guatemala.

Can you be moved to act? Christianity needs Christians who are not side-tracked by selfish desires, who take up the weight of prayer, who take the Good News of hope to the streets.

We lost one. Near you, there’s one who’s on the verge of being lost. Only you are within reach to help, if you will let yourself be moved.

I’m scratching my head

probably no godSomebody is going to have to explain this to me. I thought these guys were trying to promote atheism. Why does it look like they’re exposing that the fundamental underpinning of atheism is selfishness? I think I would pay more attention if there was a service-to-humanity factor, not just an “uncork the bottle and indulge.”

Reduced to a photocopy?

reduced to a photocopyStanley Yep’s greatest exploits were reduced to a photocopy that hung on the wall in his room in the rest home. Not even he knew what it meant any longer.

My father-in-law had been a big shot in LA’s Chinatown. A community watchdog and advocate, he built a sub-station for police use. He haggled with politicians for stop signs at dangerous crosswalks. He fought for neighborhood-sprucing funds to resist Chinatown’s downward spiral towards ghettodom.

IMG_3095For his indefatigable self-sacrifice in pro of mankind, he was named “Man of the Year” by the City of Los Angeles in 1982. As he lay dying, the newspaper clipping trumpeting his feats was pinned to the wall like a specimen. The only thing that mattered to him now was family and sleep.

Fortunately, Stan was a Christian. His departure Sunday from Earth meant his arrival in Heaven. When you think about the common denominator of death, what do earthly accomplishments, pleasure or riches signify? At best, they are a news article.

We packed Stan’s plaques, crystal glass awards gathering dust, from the shelf, into a box. There they rest. His body is being cremated and the ashes will lie in the Veteran’s Administration cemetery. A titanium identification will be placed in the urn, the only lasting memory on this planet.

But as his memory fades, He will live on in Heaven. His achievements for the gospel will be remembered.

Graduation to Heaven!

Up to the end, Stan Yep retained his sense of humor. But life lost its taste for him.

Up to the end, Stan Yep retained his sense of humor. But life lost its taste for him.

My dad (father-in-law) died yesterday. You ought to congratulate me. He’s in Heaven.

Do people cry for a touchdown? For a grand slam? For the World Cup winning goal? Do they cry at graduations? Well, maybe they cry tears of joy.

Yet graduation to Heaven exceeds each of these earthly joys. Finally, my much-loved dad shed his decrepit body and put on his glorified form. Heaven’s for Real  suggests that people get the best, youthful version of themselves in Heaven. Is Dad bowling already?

In his last days, Dad remembered his iconic salute.

In his last days, Dad remembered his military salute. It warmed my heart.

Call me weird. But I just can’t cry. Sure, I’m going to miss him, but I have no misgivings about eternity. It seems to me that people cry only because of their doubts. I mean, if the evolutionists have it right that we are just bio mass with self consciousness until we cease to exist and get eaten by worms, then yeah, wail and howl unendingly.

The family get togethers have been celebratory, and that seems the right way to me. No drowning sorrows with alcohol. That wasn't Dad's life. He lived for God.

The family get-togethers have been celebratory, and that seems the right way to me. No drowning sorrows with alcohol. That wasn’t Dad’s life. He lived for God.

But sorry, with due respect to all my atheistic friends — and they’re all my friends, but I can’t think for myself and subscribe to the notion that all of creation came from nothing, anymore than when I see a beautiful hotel building, I can’t believe it just formed by itself. (How does an atheist observe a funeral?)

Before my mom died, she told me she didn’t want weeping. She wanted us to dance and celebrate. She

Dad, in his final days.

Dad, in his final days.

would be with Jesus. Before she graduated, she had Alzheimer’s. Why would she — why would we, or anyone — want her to stay here and deteriorate? That would be like forcing her to suffer misery in an Indian slum hovel instead of living in a five-star hotel. And believe me, the five-star hotel comparison comes up short.

So I am happy today! Please don’t try to guilt me for not feeling the way you think I ought. Sincerely, I ask, if you are a true believer, why don’t you feel the way I do?


Self Reliance

self reliance

The resurrection trumps all arguments

from thedeliverancedoctor.com

from thedeliverancedoctor.com

You can observe the atheists working overtime to dismiss the resurrection. It proves Christianity. Here’s why:

  • The disciples had great fear (as manifested by primary sources) before it and were emboldened by it to give their lives.
  • The disciples, being uneducated, would have been incapable of inventing it.
  • The primary sources agree that none of the disciples thought of resurrection before Jesus’ death. They clearly expected Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom. Peter used sword to defend Jesus from his crucifiers, then denied Christ three times to protect himself. This supports the idea that the resurrection surprised and transformed them.
  • It is true that religious groups have given their lives for delusions before, but an important difference must be made between those who have been duped, and those who are imposing the hoax. The atheists allege the disciples committed fraud by making it up. The trouble with this is is that it is highly unlikely they would then give their lives to martyrdom — separate from each other, with no one around to egg them on. If you create a delusion, it usually is to achieve some self-serving end, not to die for it. If you know that the resurrection is fake, it is highly unlikely that you will die for it. Maybe one would dare to give his life for a fraud, but eleven?
  • It is true that religious leaders have possessed genius to invent fantastical accounts inventing religion, but these have been individuals — Mohammed, Joseph Smith. With Christianity, it is a group of 11 disciples. How could they agree unless they had actually seen Jesus resurrected?
  • How did Christianity progress under persecution? The Romans were killing Christians. You don’t just convert to your death sentence — unless you know that the resurrection trumps any death sentence. Islam, by contrast, was an easy ticket to join because it was a booming success militarily and politically. The early believers joined Christianity not because they were signing with the winning team.
  • It is nearly impossible to allege that the 11 disciples fell under some sort of collective psychosis. The evidence shows the contrary: Thomas was missing from the initial meeting with the resurrected Christ and was determinedly decided against believing in His resurrection.
  • If the disciples got together and concocted the account, they surely would not have made women, in their patriarchal times, the first witnesses.
  • Even a non-Christian historical source, Josephus, tells of Paul’s switch from persecutor to promoter. How can you possibly account for this unless he really did see Jesus?

Resurrection Day is a great holiday for Christianity. Though I’m not a professional apologist, I believe the raw, unadulterated evidence is highly in favor of the resurrection being true. My blog has hosted some pretty lively discussion in the past and welcomes all comers to join the debate, though I ask everyone refrain from curse words and treat each other respectfully. I believe in comparing ideas, not ad hominem attacks.

Easier to not believe

2814818487436554_AKjxRH8F_bWhy do you gloat? You act proud of not believing in God. You call yourself open-minded, unfettered by religion, etc.

But I don’t see the higher moral ground of not believing in God because it’s as easy as giving up — and there’s no heroism in surrendering. It is enough that the devil assails our faith constantly. It is enough that it is hard to muster faith in the midst of adversity.  And then the intellectual world constantly 9007267975137310_SqILL0gD_bbombards us with darts of discouragement.

It would be easy for me to give up, to give place to the negativity inside me, to cease from faith and blame God (called lack thereof). It is a struggle to believe for finances, for healing, for restoration. To me, struggling against unbelief is heroic. Losing faith is easy — sorry, no kudos for that.

If you are fighting for faith, you are my brother. If you are an atheist, you are my friend, but I don’t understand you.

And then they blame God

Last seen in school in 1962.

Last seen in school in 1962.

When we kicked prayer out of school, we kicked out God. It’s no surprise that the devil showed up instead.

What I don’t understand is: if the atheists hail every extraction of God from our society, when they have succeeded in taking Him from people’s minds, then why do they blame God for

Increasingly seen in schools since then.

Increasingly seen in schools since then.

the result?

My heart grieves for the Connecticut school, and for Virginia Tech, and for Columbine, and for the ever more frequent, ever worsening list of massacres. Our intelligence agencies work feverishly to “connect the images-4dots” to thwart terrorist plots, but we refuse to “connect the dots” about the direction of our society.

Forgive me this post. But I am so distressed, I wish to call people everywhere to turn to God. Our nation will NOT improve until we find Him again.

Hometown criminal now preaches Jesus

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Pacoima was the city of Edgar’s downward spiral. It was there at age 13 he was arrested, high on PCP, trying to steal a car. It was there he was in-and-out-of jail until age 26. He got “two strikes” and under California law teetered on brink of life imprisonment. When he got out of jail, the specter of succumbing to his old life in this deathtrap of a city made Edgar shudder.

On Saturday, Edgar Cervantes went back to Pacoima. He went to tell others about the wonders of Jesus. For seven years, he’s been off drugs, away from alcohol, out of crime. He has outreached for Jesus in many

Edgar's nephews were in the audience.

Edgar’s nephews were in the audience.

places, but this was different. This is where the devil had waylaid him. This time Edgar went home get revenge on the devil.

There’s a pioneer church here so small they use a park childcare center for services. (Ah the beauty of pioneering! Where just one soul turning to Christ from sin thrills the soul!)

Junior, Edgar's nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

Junior, Edgar’s nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

After hours of passing out flyers and knocking on doors, only two souls came. One was Edgar’s brother. Another was a lady’s cousin. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. — Luke 15:7 NIV.

The place he feared became the place where the devil fears him. A place of defeat becomes a place of triumph. Only God can do this.

The purpose of trials

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

The purpose of trials is to build your faith.

To lead you to depend more on God.

Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no

When life gets hard, look up.

When life gets hard, look up.

providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)

Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.

Allison has some interesting points to weigh in on the question of God

Proof of God and The Bible

November 6, 2012 by There’s a frog on my Sprocket!

I have a friend who once compared my belief in God to someone believing in leprechauns. The catch is if I did in fact believe in leprechauns I don’t think he would have spent much time trying to convince me they don’t exist. However, he did spend a lot of time trying to tell me why there wasn’t a God.

I think the difference is that leprechauns don’t threaten how he defines himself. The catch is that as a Christian, even though I didn’t agree with his view that God did not exist, I accepted and loved him as Christ instructs us to do. I really never tried to change him, yet he always wanted to change me. I don’t assume all atheists to be this way but in this case it was baffling.

He asked, why someone so logical, as he viewed me to be, could believe in something so ridiculous. My reply was as follows.

When I was young and my sister disappeared I was baffled for a while. If their was a God,I thought, why would He let this happen? As I got older this was sometimes replaced with anger at Him. The fact that I was angry at God confirmed His existence. Some of this study was inspired by a man who helped a dear friend of mine. I shared this originally with him when I thought he may have needed it most. I hope I repaid a little of what he gave me and my friend.

These are various pictures from her blog.

But for me being angry at Him simply wasn’t enough. Like almost everything that I’m not sure of, when I reached an age where I could understand I study the facts. No real historian debates the fact that Jesus walked the Earth and taught the teachings of The Bible. Now, some say he was just ‘a good man’. To that I wondered, if Jesus is just a good man then He lied. Because when the apostles asked he declared He was the Messiah. (I could quote the scripture but that’s not the point) And in my opinion good men don’t lie. So that theory doesn’t hold water to me.

So, if he wasn’t lying then he was crazy. But crazy men don’t make such great points and instruct men to lead such valid lives. Also his teachings are inspirational, thought out, loving and without flaw. Not the rumblings of a mad man.

If Jesus wasn’t mad and wasn’t lying then He is The Son of God as He declared. The whole water to wine, healing the blind, walking on water and raising the dead kinda proves this. Now, you may say there is no proof He did those things.

Well I looked into that as well. The first four books of the New Testament are personal accounts of the life of Jesus. The men who witnessed the events of His days on Earth claim all these events and much more to be true. Of course they could, all eleven and Paul be complete liars.

I examined that notion as well. How many people do you know who would or have died for a lie. Well a few have I’m sure but did they know it was a lie? Since the apostles claim to have seen the life of Jesus first hand, then if their accounts are lies, well they would have known it. So, eleven men died deaths such as being stoned, run through with a sword and being crucified upside down because they stuck to a lie? I’m to sensible to believe that notion.

Of course they could all be crazy. So twelve crazy guys following another crazy man all saw the same hallucinations and then somehow sensibly recorded them tying them perfectly into the accounts told be the prophets of the old testimony. That I simply can’t buy.

All of this leads me to the only conclusion that I can logically come to. Jesus was born did walk the Earth and do the things the apostles tell of. He couldn’t possibly be simply a good man or prophet, for by His own account that makes Him a liar. As I said He said He was The Messiah. The Bible is accurate because men died horrible deaths because they refused to deny what they witnessed.

In the end Jesus being the Son of God leads to only one possible conclusion, for Him to have a Son, He has to exist. Thus, I know there is a God. There is as much proof of God as their is of Alexander The Great and Kahn and Helen of Troy.

There is a lot about religion that I don’t know. There is a lot I’m not sure of. But I have no doubt that Jesus is Christ.
*** MustardSeedBudget’s note: Allison’s perspective is especially noteworthy when one takes into account that her sister, mentioned here, was either kidnapped or ran away from home, causing traumatic grief to the family. Her life experience gives added credibility to her arguments.

Atheists ought to chill out

Why are you so obsessed? If there is no God, why do you attack Him so vigorously? In essence, you are dealing blows to nothingness.

I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. And I don’t waste my time trying to discredit her. She simply doesn’t exist. I don’t care if someone believes in her. I suppose if someone affirmed her reality, I would be amused. But I wouldn’t get mad.

It makes no sense to shoot darts at  “nothing.” Really, it smacks of personal vendetta. Something bad happened to you in life, so you exact revenge on God by energetically denying his existence. Do you also kick the door when it closes on you? No one ever launched a military assault on empty space.

In reality, your vitriol, your fetish, only legitimizes God. If there were nothing to antagonize, everybody would go home and leave alone.

You don’t bother me at all. I just wonder at you.