I have just been notified that PZ Myers is going to ‘review’ my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven.” ! Apparently he stumbled upon my press release announcing my release of this collection. If you want to check out the collection and follow along for yourself, here’s a …
Atheists have a problem. Ok, they have lots of problems. 🙂 But this one is a big one: how to explain morality. Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue. It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be …
“Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven…” What sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke is actually the title of a collection of three poignant short stories by author Anthony Horvath. Each story draws from what is publicly known about these three notable persons and places them in the presence of God. Antony Flew famously disputed the existence of such a being, Richard Dawkins- the only one of the three still living- infamously derides the notion, and Mother Teresa wondered at God’s absence- in these three stories they each get a chance to ask their questions and speak their minds. Read this short story, along with two others, on Kindle.
Excerpt from Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven
“You know what sounds like ‘hell’ to me?” Richard asked the accompanying angel, a current of sarcasm carrying the question along.
“I know you’ll tell me,” the angel replied serenely.
“Heaven. Heaven sounds like hell.”
In part one of this essay I put forward two great challenges to Christianity that apologetics cannot answer. To illustrate the weight of this matter, consider the fact that not too long ago I wrote an entry called, “Apologetics is the Answer to Everything.” I stand by that post, still. These challenges have more to …
I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet. The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time. To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’ What I mean is, THESE. ARE. THE. FIVE. GREATEST. CHALLENGES. I do not suggest that they are all that new. I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them. Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist? Let’s find out.
When I was in college there was this guy 2 1/2 times larger than me… a philosophy major, as I recall… appropriately named ‘Animal.’ I remember having a debate about pain with him. I argued it was all in our minds- just a brain state- and not real. Animal said, “Come here, and I’ll show you unreal pain.”
While I was of the mindset that there were just “brain states” or just “subjective opinions” or just “one’s political views”, I was a liberal. When my mindset changed, so did my ‘political’ stance. This is a realization that congealed more than ten years after the change had happened. Was it just me? Correlation does not prove causation, and yet I see the same ingredients in the conservatives and liberals I meet. What made my mindset change?
I wouldn’t say it happened over night but there was a singular ‘event’ that proved the catalyst. One should understand that at the time, I was a Christian, an apologist, a Christian religion teacher. But I still entertained many viewpoints we’d call ‘liberal.’ The catalyst arose out of my never ending quest to make sure that when I talk about something, I actually know what I’m talking about. In the general course of that, I read a great many writings of Communists, Nazis, and to a lesser extent, the ‘fascists.’ Here I discovered something frightening: these people were advocating many of the same things I was advocating, and for the same reasons.
PZ Myers continues to descend down the various stages into madness that atheism can lead a person- that is to say, like the religionists he despises, he also believes every lick of what he says he believes. In a recent blog post writing in reaction to an email from a pro-life person, he writes:
“You want to make me back down by trying to inspire revulsion with dead baby pictures? I look at them unflinchingly and see meat. And meat does not frighten me.”
On PZ’s view, we are all meat, whether we are diced and sliced or not. This is what we’re up against. P.S. I’m not talking about ‘science.’
We live in a curious time. Good people who are otherwise sane entertain the notions that Lee and Loughner embraced and acted on. Over against those notions they have some memory of the bloodsport of the 20th century and are keen to avoid it a second go around. What they don’t ask is: “Maybe it isn’t just one particular application of these beliefs that ought to be discredited… maybe the beliefs themselves should be chucked?”
Let us imagine that someone believed that all people with red hair should be killed because they aren’t really people. You talk to him. He’s a perfectly pleasant fellow. Very sane. “So, you aren’t going to actually kill any red haired people or advocate that others do?” you ask him. “Of course not,” he says. That’s a relief, of course. “Why believe it if you won’t carry it out?” you persist. “That would be horrible. I would feel terrible,” he says. “Hmmm,” you might say, “Perhaps the fact that you are deeply uncomfortable with wiping out those with red hair is because even though you say they aren’t people, in fact, you think they are. Why not then dispense with your belief that they aren’t really people?”
Something very much like this is at the root of much thinking among secular humanists. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. If they did, we’d all be in a lot of trouble and they’d probably go a little nuts.
About five years ago I published a collection of essays that is no longer available for purchase. The collection is titled after the essay below. It is not, as far as I know, something I’ve published elsewhere. I was thinking of it recently and decided it should be dusted off. It seems as relevant today as when I first wrote it.
That Which Atheism Becomes
Some might say that I just like to argue. The truth is that I believe that ideas have consequences and some consequences are more severe than others. Arguing, or more precisely, debating, these ideas helps everyone on all sides of a position understand a position better. In theory, if you could of got Bin Laden to sit down to have a nice debate you could of aroused for him some of the critical consequences of his beliefs and demanded that before he acted on them he had a much firmer basis. According to many Muslims, such a basis does not exist. I will leave that issue to them to sort out. But Bin Laden does have this going for him: he takes a belief to its rational conclusion. There are many dangerous beliefs out there that people consider harmless simply because they aren’t taken to their rational conclusion.
James Jay Lee originally posted this at www.savetheplanetprotest.com but it seems the site is down. I am posting it here in full for posterity’s sake.
The Discovery Channel MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet and to do the following IMMEDIATELY:
1. The Discovery Channel and it’s affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots based on Daniel Quinn’s “My Ishmael” pages 207-212 where solutions to save the planet would be done in the same way as the Industrial Revolution was done, by people building on each other’s inventive ideas. Focus must be given on how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution. A game show format contest would be in order. Perhaps also forums of leading scientists who understand and agree with the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation. Do both. Do all until something WORKS and the natural world starts improving and human civilization building STOP
In the nearly 20 years or so of debating with various kinds of non-Christians, I have often encountered a way of thinking that I think is self-evidently flawed, but oddly common nonetheless. What I mean is this: as soon as you press the point, they drop the principle, recognizing it can’t be maintained as tightly as was presented. A moment later, or in another conversation, the principle is re-presented.
The principle is this: that a proposition is true if it explains something. Or, a belief is to be preferred if it explains something. Or, the better belief is the one that explains the most.
At first blush, this principle seems pretty solid. After all, don’t we give weight to an idea, hypothesis, or theory if it provides an explanation for something else? If I come across the body of a clearly murdered person and the evidence points to another person who is known to have hated the victim, wouldn’t we say, “Well, that explains that. He hated him.” ? Well, yes. It does explain it, but it still doesn’t follow that he actually murdered anyone. The time honored tradition for hanging a murder verdict on someone does include motive- but also means and opportunity. Merely having a hypothesis that ‘explains’ the facts does not prove the hypothesis. One must corroborate it. If it cannot be corroborated, it doesn’t follow it isn’t true. We just have to be careful how we weight it. We certainly would not (or ought not) sentence a man to death for it.
Apologetics ministries tend to focus on issues such as God’s existence or the fact of the resurrection or the Bible’s reliability. These are all very important. Indeed, they bear directly on the issues at hand- for if there is no God, it obviously follows that we cannot be made by him in his image. Further, Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection on behalf of a fallen human race is an emphatic testament to how much God himself values each human life. Dispense with these, and there are ripples down the line.
There, however, is where I wish to make the point: there are ripples down the line.
Somewhere I read once that in the 1700s they went after God. In the 1800s, they went after Jesus. In the 1900s, they went after Man. The sequence is logical, rational, and predictable. One would like to think that they can dispense with God without there being practical effect, but the 1900s have shown otherwise.
Richard Dawkins, among many others, have contended that ‘faith’ is believing what you know isn’t true. Less severe, but equally inaccurate, is the view that faith is a thing completely apart from evidence, or even in spite of the evidence. This view isn’t restricted to atheists. Unfortunately, many Christians themselves take that view. It is unfortunate because it is not true, it is not how the Scriptures actually present it, and it takes Christians out of discussions they should be involved in.
The simplest way to put it that would be accurate would be to understand ‘faith’ as including, front and center, the idea of ‘trust.’
Christian faith is not merely the confident belief that certain propositions are true. It isn’t even the confident belief that a God exists. The Scriptures forbid such a narrow understanding: “So you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19
Another passage puts it in better context: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he awards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Real Christian faith includes and transcends beliefs in propositions and speaks to the trust that we have in God and our reliance on his nature (ie, most prominently, his goodness).
Pro-life speaker Anthony Horvath recounts the history of the ‘Culture of Death’ from Thomas Malthus to Charles Darwin to Margaret Sanger to Peter Singer, with an array of personalities in between. Horvath shows why population control proposals permeate the ‘Progressive’ movement for the last 200 years and why, and how, it must be countered today. This presentation was delivered Nov. 20th, 2010, at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska for a Nebraska Lutherans for Life organization.