Welcome Back, Atheists



Last week, I had the privilege of reading a book I still highly recommend. (See below)



Written by an atheist, it offered some interesting perspectives and I logged onto the author's website to thank him for writing such a book.



He apparently liked my comments and posted a link to this blog on his Twitter. I was inundated with hits, coming from his link. Every time I checked my stat-counter, there were more.



I was thrilled, and prayed for "my atheists" that something they read here might answer some questions for them.



As I have thought about why atheists have decided not to acknowledge God, I keep coming up with questions of my own. So if any atheists have ventured back this way, I'd like your perspective on the following questions:


  • When your heart is filled to overflowing with the knowledge of how blessed you are, who do you thank? Isn't it uncomfortable to realize so much of the good you have was not your doing, yet you don't know who to thank for it?

  • When you look back on some grievous act you committed and guilt flushes your face, how do you ever find forgiveness? Do you just live with it? Yuck.

  • When you consider the intricacies of nature: rotating seasons, magnetic force, gravity (not too much, not too little), the complexity of sight, the multi-faceted aspect of the human spirit---to what can you possibly attribute this genius? Sorry, but the random-chance idea just doesn't cut it.

  • When your mind entertains the tickling possibility that you are wrong (as we all do), isn't it scary? If I am wrong, and God does not exist, I have lost nothing. I had a great life, my spirit was nurtured, and at death I drift off into nothingness. But if YOU are wrong...

  • How do you explain pure evil? Especially in third world countries, people are well-acquainted with demonic possession, a phenomena that cannot be explained by natural reasoning. If there is no God, there is no Satan, so what possesses these people?

  • Who was Jesus Christ? As C. S. Lewis stated, "Let's not come up with any patronizing nonsense about Jesus being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us." He was either crazy to pretend he was God, a master liar, or he was who he said he was. Who do you say he is?

  • How do you explain good? Why do we have a sense of right and wrong if there is no moral compass to start it all? In every culture in the world, civilizations have had the same innate understating of right and wrong that animals do not have. Where did it come from? Cosmic dust? Was it moral cosmic dust?

I honestly feel for you atheists. How empty it would be to believe that this is IT. That regardless of the good, bad, painful, complicated events of life there is no final accounting. No reasons given. No evening the score.


That might seem to work for someone who has it made in this life, but what about the millions of others who hear the empty echo of their souls and have no way to fill it without God? He is the only answer I have found that fills in all those holes.


I prayed for you yesterday, visiting atheists. Because regardless of how adamantly you maintain your stance, God believes in you.



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22 comments:

Brian Westley said...

Hey, couldn't find where Hemant mentioned your blog, but I'll answer your questions anyway.

When your heart is filled to overflowing with the knowledge of how blessed you are, who do you thank?
The people who have made my life so wonderful.

When you look back on some grievous act you committed and guilt flushes your face, how do you ever find forgiveness? Do you just live with it?
I try to avoid committing such acts in the first place, but I'd actually go to the person(s) I'd wronged.

Here's a counter-question: if you committed a grievous act against another person and only prayed for forgiveness (i.e. you don't talk to the other person you actually wronged, but just pray), do you consider that sufficient?

When you consider the intricacies of nature (etc etc)
So far, everything appears to be due to natural forces. Making up super-powerful being(s) is not supported by what's observed.

When your mind entertains the tickling possibility that you are wrong (as we all do), isn't it scary? If I am wrong, and God does not exist, I have lost nothing. I had a great life, my spirit was nurtured, and at death I drift off into nothingness. But if YOU are wrong...

Oh, dear. Pascal's wager.

Here's why Pascal's wager is worthless.

1) First, let's say we're BOTH wrong. Let's say the Jews are right -- this should be fairly easy for a Christian, since Christianity implicitly grants Judaism some amount of veracity. So, how do we compare if Judaism is right?

Assuming neither of us are considered Jewish by Jews (e.g. mother wasn't Jewish, her mother wasn't, etc), we would probably fall under the seven Noachide laws -- most Jewish scholars agree that non-Jews are still supposed to follow the laws given to Noah, as they were supposedly given to all humanity, not just Jews.

They are somewhat similar to the 10 commandments, and, in fact, the first one is pretty much the same -- "no idolatry."

Now, atheists aren't committing idolatry, since they don't worship ANYTHING as a god.

But every Christian is in violation of this, since they worship Jesus as a god. And since the premise is that Christianity is wrong and Judaism is right, Jesus was not a god. And worshipping a man as a god is idolatry.

So, using a real-world example, atheists are better off than Christians if Jews are right.

2) Now here's a made-up example: suppose a god exists who prizes critical thinking and skepticism over everything else, and plants thousands of false religions, including Christianity, through history to "test" people. Only atheists pass this god's test, because you aren't supposed to believe third-hand stories of fantastic bronze-age happenings.

Pascal's wager can be twisted to argue anything. Want to argue X? Just posit that god likes X and hates not-X. Want to argue not-X? Posit that god likes not-X and hates X.

Any "argument" that can be used to argue X and not-X is not a useful tool for finding truth.

--continued--

Brian Westley said...

--continuing--

How do you explain pure evil?

It doesn't exist.

Especially in third world countries, people are well-acquainted with demonic possession, a phenomena that cannot be explained by natural reasoning.

Sure it can. The demonic theory of disease went out of style centuries ago.

If there is no God, there is no Satan, so what possesses these people?

It's mental illness. These people don't need exorcists, particularly where superstitions like this actually gets people killed.

Who was Jesus Christ?...He was either crazy to pretend he was God, a master liar, or he was who he said he was.

Or people wrote stories after he was dead. Or he didn't exist and people wrote stories. Or any of dozens of other combinations. You can't build a false trichotomy and assert you've covered all the possibilities. You haven't.

How do you explain good?

What needs explaining?

Why do we have a sense of right and wrong if there is no moral compass to start it all?
Humans that formed cooperative societies thrived, while anti-social humans didn't. Altruism is a survival tactic for humans.

I honestly feel for you atheists. How empty it would be to believe that this is IT. That regardless of the good, bad, painful, complicated events of life there is no final accounting. No reasons given. No evening the score.
That might seem to work for someone who has it made in this life, but what about the millions of others who hear the empty echo of their souls and have no way to fill it without God? He is the only answer I have found that fills in all those holes.


Hey, placebos can help some people, sure, but I prefer the truth. I don't see any good reason to think gods exist, and many reasons to disbelieve.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Hi Brian,

Thank you for taking time to comment.

I found most of your answers coming up a bit short, a bit "pat" however, for someone who accused me of the same thing.

I want to answer one of your questions though and clarify. As to the issue raised about asking forgiveness, I was not implying that we seek forgiveness from God alone if we have wronged another. Seeking forgiveness from others is a given.

I was referring to the self-examination that often comes later in life when we finally recognize our selfishness for what it was, when at the time we justified it. When there is nobody to ask, the ones we've wronged have moved on, but the guilt remains.

And I must take exception to your unsupported assertion that "natural forces" explain the intricacies of the universe. Spontaneous generation and "chaos spontaneously becoming order" have been scientifically disproven years ago, yet that is what evolution requires us to beleive.

Frankly, that theory has a lot of holes in it.

I challenge you to get a copy of Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh MacDowell, read it (skeptical or not) and then see how well your theories hold up.

Again, thank you for writing and I wish you the best.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Hi Brian,
You are right that I am no scientist. Would never claim to be, so you might be more interested in what science has to say about evolution--the part you don't get to hear after it's been laundered and presented as fact.
http://www.creationtruth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=196&Itemid=196

I'm sorry you refuse to acknowledge the God who loves you. You don't know what you're missing!

Best wishes.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Here is another good site that can explain things better than I can.

http://evolutionfacts.com/EncyclopediaTOC.htm

Brian Westley said...

This dialog might make more sense if you had included my most recent reply...

As for those websites:
creationtruth.com has a "Statement of Faith" under "About Us", which starts like this:
The Bible:
The unique divine inspiration of all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as originally given, so that they are infallibly and uniquely authoritative and free from error of any sort, in all matters with which they deal, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological.


This is enough to show that they are not practicing science. They are taking a book and starting with the assumption that everything in it is true. That's not science.

The other website, evolutionfacts.com, is by Vance Ferrell, who has no science degree; he's an Adventist preacher.

Science has methods everyone needs to follow, or you aren't doing science. The websites above aren't doing science, no matter how many times they insist they are.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Hi Brian,
I noticed that you didn't try to refute the evidence presented on those sites, only the credentials of the creators.

It seems pointless to debate someone who questions the historicity of the man upon whom the entire world's dating system is based.
To my question: WHO WAS JESUS CHRIST?
You answered:(Or he didn't exist and people wrote stories.)

You have decided what you will believe and are not willing to see anything else. Evolutionary Science
worships at the throne of TIME, as though given enough TIME, anything can happen, scientifically possible or not.

So you do have a god, whether you acknowledge it or not: the ever-changing world of scientific hypothese. And it takes way more faith to believe in that god than it does to believe in mine.

Mine never changes.

Brian Westley said...

I noticed that you didn't try to refute the evidence presented on those sites, only the credentials of the creators.

No, not their CREDENTIALS, their METHODS.

They are not following the scientific method; therefor, their answers are not scientific answers.

A Magic 8-Ball gives answers if all you want are answers.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

To my recollection, one of the steps of the scientific method is: Test Your Hypothesis by Doing Experiments.

So if you dismiss creation evidences for this reason, then you must apply that same standard to evolutionary ideas.

No scientific experiment has ever confirmed the evolutionary assumption that human life can come from non-life. Or that complex order and organized systems spring spontaneously from chaos, without outside intervention in some form. So is it fair to call evolutionary theory science?

And must every reality be confirmed by science?
Is love real? Or hope? Or thought? What about intuition?

And if the great god of TIME created the universe, where did the intitial matter come from? TIME cannot create matter that did not previously exist.

Brian Westley said...

No scientific experiment has ever confirmed the evolutionary assumption that human life can come from non-life.

That isn't evolution. That's abiogenesis.

Evolution has been observed and shown to occur experimentally countless times:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_evolution

Or that complex order and organized systems spring spontaneously from chaos, without outside intervention in some form.

That one is easy; snowflakes. Water vapor is chaotic, but natural processes produce snowflakes, which are quite ordered.

So is it fair to call evolutionary theory science?

Yes.

And must every reality be confirmed by science? Is love real? Or hope? Or thought? What about intuition?

They're real human emotions.

If I told you I could fly by flapping my arms because I found a magic feather, would you believe me, or would you want some evidence before you believed that?

And if the great god of TIME created the universe, where did the intitial matter come from? TIME cannot create matter that did not previously exist.

You made up that great god of TIME, not me. Strawman argument.

However, are you aware that particles spontaneously pop out of nothingness? Apparently you aren't.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Wait a minute. You just dodged the question.

Yes, the idea that life can spring from non-life is abiogenisis, but it's also the basis of the whole theory that human life is here as a result of non-living matter coming to life. Which is my disagreement with evolution in a nutshell.

And surely you're not hiding behind the whole adaptation-within-a-species argument to try to prove that species have actually morphed into completely different forms of life? I expected better from you!:)

Show me the indisputable fossil evidence of that happening.

And before you mention some obscure finding, let me remind you of the embarassing Piltdown Man episode.

Seems to me you're placing a dangerous amount of faith in a field that is constantly changing its mind and redefining what it initially stated as fact.

Brian Westley said...

Yes, the idea that life can spring from non-life is abiogenisis, but it's also the basis of the whole theory that human life is here as a result of non-living matter coming to life

So what? That's not what evolution means. You were asking about evolution.

Newton described a theory that predicted the motion of the planets, but that theory did not explain how the planets got here. Would you complain about teaching Newtonian orbital mechanics because his theories didn't address that?

And surely you're not hiding behind the whole adaptation-within-a-species argument to try to prove that species have actually morphed into completely different forms of life?

Of course not. Speciation has been observed:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

Show me the indisputable fossil evidence of that happening.

Speciation can be observed happening now, we don't need fossils for that.

And before you mention some obscure finding, let me remind you of the embarassing Piltdown Man episode.

Let me remind you that Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax by scientists. Science works because everything is questioned, unlike religion.

Seems to me you're placing a dangerous amount of faith in a field that is constantly changing its mind and redefining what it initially stated as fact.

That shows why you don't understand science. Changing theories is GOOD. Adhering to statements made 2,000 years ago as indisputable fact is BAD.

And you also don't seem to understand 'fact' vs. 'theory'. The facts don't change because they are descriptive - release a 1 lb. weight 10 feet off the ground at STP and sea level and it will accelerate towards the ground at about 32 ft/sec^2. That's a factual statement about an observation. A theory is a model which tries to accurately describe the observed facts and makes predictions about what will be observed in different circumstances.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

You're still dodging the questions!

The very foundation of your argument is that there is no God because natural forces explain everything. And my question to you is: where is the evidence that warm-blooded human life sprang spontaneously from non-living matter with no Creator involvement? And even if that were remotely possible, why the gender differences? If life could spring spontaneously like that, why on earth would male and female need to evolve to reproduce?

And I wonder too, do you disagree with the Founding Fathers that all humans are endowed with certain inalienable rights? According to your assertions, there are no human rights. It would be "might makes right," survival of the fittest.

But let's shift gears. How did Brian Westley arrive at the point in life where he refuses to acknowledge God? I sense in your answers an underlying anger, maybe even disillusionment. Was there a forced religious participation in your past that left you cold?

Is it easier to keep everything cerebral, rather than allow for the possibility that you are also a spiritual being?

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Here is a perspective you might find interesting. It was published in last month's New Yorker Magazine. Surely you don't have a problem with the New Yorker as a "creation-biased" source.

This is the concluding paragraph.

"Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe." ♦

Here's the link:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer?currentPage=5

Brian Westley said...

You're still dodging the questions!

WHAT questions? You say I'm "dodging the questions" and then list a bunch of BRAND-NEW questions.

The very foundation of your argument is that there is no God because natural forces explain everything.

Wrong. I have never claimed that natural forces explain everything.

There is insufficient evidence to convince me that gods exist.

And my question to you is: where is the evidence that warm-blooded human life sprang spontaneously from non-living matter with no Creator involvement?

Nobody, including scientific explanations, claims that. Stop making up straw man arguments and address thing I actually say, or actual scientific theories.

Here's a big hint; evolution says that human evolved from earlier, non-human species. Evolution does NOT say they formed from non-living matter.

If life could spring spontaneously like that, why on earth would male and female need to evolve to reproduce?

Not everything that lives is male and female; amoebas reproduce asexually, so male & female isn't needed for reproduction. However, species that reproduce sexually have some advantages, like greater genetic diversity.

And I wonder too, do you disagree with the Founding Fathers that all humans are endowed with certain inalienable rights? According to your assertions, there are no human rights. It would be "might makes right," survival of the fittest.

Wrong. Again you are making up things and saying that must be my opinion. Stop lying about me, OK? If you don't stop, I'll simply reiterate that you continue to lie about my opinion.

But let's shift gears. How did Brian Westley arrive at the point in life where he refuses to acknowledge God? I sense in your answers an underlying anger, maybe even disillusionment. Was there a forced religious participation in your past that left you cold?

I've always been an atheist. I was never forced into any sort of religious participation.

Is it easier to keep everything cerebral, rather than allow for the possibility that you are also a spiritual being?

I don't use the term "spiritual" so I have no idea what you mean by that.

Also, the New Yorker isn't a creationist magazine, but neither is it a science magazine.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

No need to become so defensive. I am only trying to understand the breadth of your comments. Because if you assert that human beings are merely products of cosmic chance, then how could there be anything such as "basic human rights," as our forefathers stated? Where would those "rights" originate?

And I'm still curious about your theory on why we have 2 sexes. How would an asexual blob of primitive matter come up with such an idea when it could easily reproduce itself as it had done thus far?

And you did, in fact, state that natural forces explain everything. From your first post, I quote: "So far, everything appears to be due to natural forces."

See? You did say that.

I am confused about this statement in the comment above: ("Here's a big hint; evolution says that human evolved from earlier, non-human species. Evolution does NOT say they formed from non-living matter.")

That cannot be true. There had to be a point at which non-living matter became living. The non-human species had to come from somewhere too, didn't it?

It's also untrue that you have "always been an atheist." Just as it is untrue that I have always been a Christian. A worldview is something we choose to believe. Babies have no concept of anything, so there was a point at which you decided there was no God and there HAD to be some other explanation for the intricacies of the universe.

It is that point in your life that interests me.

I'll be glad to explain what I mean by "spiritual." Your spirit is that part of you that is not material. Your conscience, your sense of morality, of right and wrong that is just THERE. Your intuition, the part of you that at times yearns for something unexplainable. That inner part where no one else goes, that weeps at beauty, feels empathy for another, and hungers for God, even while denying His existence.

You may deny that you have that, but I don't beleive you. We all do. That's what makes us human.

Brian Westley said...

Because if you assert that human beings are merely products of cosmic chance, then how could there be anything such as "basic human rights," as our forefathers stated? Where would those "rights" originate?

It's a social contract.

For example, if everyone in the world died except for one person, would it make sense to talk about what kind of rights that person has? I would say no, because rights only exist in a society of people.

And I'm still curious about your theory on why we have 2 sexes.

There you go again. I never proposed a theory on why we have two sexes.

How would an asexual blob of primitive matter come up with such an idea when it could easily reproduce itself as it had done thus far?

You think the blob of primitive matter had to think of it????!!!!

Evolution doesn't work that way.

And you did, in fact, state that natural forces explain everything. From your first post, I quote: "So far, everything appears to be due to natural forces."

NO.

You CANNOT READ PLAIN ENGLISH.

"So far, everything appears to be due to natural forces" is NOT THE SAME STATEMENT AS "natural forces explain everything".

It's also untrue that you have "always been an atheist."

STOP LYING ABOUT WHAT I BELIEVE.

That's it. You are too ignorant about evolution to understand why your questions are completely boneheaded, and your lying is intolerable.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

My, my! Getting a bit emotional, aren't you for someone who is not defending a "religious belief"? If this is just cold, hard science, I wonder why you are reacting as if it was your personal faith?

I never lied about you, nor would I. I am merely trying to restate what I understood you to mean. Since you seem to be an educated, intelligent person, I have to wonder if the problem could be that you have not thought all the way through some of your assertions to their logical conclusions. When I attempt to do that, it makes you angry.

I will admit that I have not studied the theory of evolution as much as you have, for the same reasons that I have not studied the flat-earth theory. Because it is not true. Once you know the truth, there is no need to continue studying error.

I tend to agree with Sir Isaac Newton who said, "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."

Or biochemist Dr. Michael Behe who stated "The realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws."

When I observe a skyscraper, a 747 or a computer, I know immediatley that they were desiged by an intelligent being for a specific purpose. It would be ludicrous to assume otherwise.

Yet, one human strand of DNA (according to biologists) is far more complex than any of those things. So wouldn't the natural response be to look for the Designer?

What if we came at this from the other direction and asked "Since the universe is so amazingly intricate, the earth so unexplainably perfect in synchronization with the rest of the universe, logic would lead us to reason that there was a Masster Designer behind it all. So what proof can you provide that there is no God?"

Brian Westley said...

Getting a bit emotional, aren't you for someone who is not defending a "religious belief"? If this is just cold, hard science, I wonder why you are reacting as if it was your personal faith?

Listen, idiot. Atheists have emotions too. Got a fucking problem with that?

I never lied about you, nor would I. I am merely trying to restate what I understood you to mean.

Then PHRASE IT THAT WAY. Say "Do you mean '...'" instead of TELLING ME WHAT I THINK. When you write:

It's also untrue that you have "always been an atheist."

that's exactly what you're doing.

I tend to agree with Sir Isaac Newton who said, "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."

So do you agree with Newton in denying the trinity? He would probably be considered an advocate of Arianism.

Also, are you an alchemist? Newton was.

Argument from authority doesn't work. If you are trying to use Newton to argue theology, why don't you agree with ALL his theology? He wrote more on religion than he did on optics, but almost no one pays any attention to his religious writings.

Lea Ann McCombs said...

I am publishing your comment just as you wrote it, but I will have to insist that any future comments be resepctful and free from vulgarity --just as I am addressing you.

I may not agree with your beliefs, but I have never called you names and have shown respect for you as a person. Could it be that your misperceptions of the origins of human life cause you to treat others with disrespect? I could certainly see how that might happen. If we are nothing more than pond scum with a beating heart, why value human life? Why value the dignity of another? Human beings would have no more innate dignity than a gnat.

As a Christian, I believe each humand being is created in the image of God by having that eternal spirit I told you about a couple of days ago. You are a unique creation of Almighty God and I would be dishonoring Him to abuse you verbally or any other way. He created you for a purpose and loves you whether you know it or not.

My goal in having this conversation with you is not to berate or insult you, but to try to understand what goes on in the heart of a man who has decided to reject that love. If I have offended you, I apologize. That was not my intention.

However, I think you may not realize how inconsistent some of your comments have been. And how illogical they are when you take them to their natural conclusion.

I noticed once again that you did not answer my final question, which was: Due to the overwhelming evidence that the intricacies of the universe indicate the hand of a designer, what proof can you offer that there is no God?

Anonymous said...

What about the statement on his death bed by Charles Darwin that his evolutionary assertions were false? That is a little known fact to atheists, but if an atheist does his homework, he will find that factoid about the man who, by his "theories", has led many to have no care or feeling for fellow humans (i.e. Nazis) because this life is "all there is" -- or at its worst, led thousands to eternal damnation in Hell.

And what if the Bible is true? What if? If it is indeed true, are you willing to spend eternity (10,000 years X 10,000 years and beyond) regretting the rejection of Truth?

How do you explain the lack of further evolution? Why haven't we continued to evolve? Why did we stop evolving once we became human beings?

How to do you explain the world calendar, separated by BC and AD. Where can you go to get away from our dating system?

Lea Ann McCombs said...

Brian, I seem to have offended you in some way. I apologize for whatever it was. It was certainly not intentional. I do appreciate your willingness to answer my questions and the insight you have given me as to why atheists feel the way they do.

I am a bit puzzled at your anger, though. The amount of anger seems disproportionate to the nature of our comments, so I'm wondering if it is really about something else.

Could it be that I represent someone or something who has hurt you in the past? Or maybe it is really God you are angry with and you hate me for defending Him. Both of those are understandable. A lot of people feel that way at times.

I care about you, Brian, even though we've never met. You are a valuable human being and despite what you may have experienced in the past, there is a loving God who cares very much about your pain.

If I can help you in any way, by just talking or listening, feel free to contact me privately by email. Your comments will not be published or shared publicly.

leaann.mccombs@yahoo.com