Coming in early 2009.











       
Relativism & Absolutes | Atheism | Is the Bible Relevant? | Women | Slavery | Judgment | Mary Magdalene? | Politics
on the
Beacon Deacon Web Site
Jamie Johnson
Discourses  · Atheism
Jamie Johnson
Part 2

Atheism

What the world says:

"There is no God."
"God is dead."

What is the truth?

Atheism ultimately denies absolutes. If we are a grand accident and there is no original Cause, then what is the basis for an absolute. However, if one denies God, but says that laws of nature are absolute, then what? Where is the basis for the absolutes of natural laws? This latter question begins to point at application and how we might engage someone with these beliefs.

Yet, Brennan Manning states, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." What does this mean for us as Christians?

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes the following:

Ever since men were able to think they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there. And, very roughly, two views have been held.

First, there is what is called the materialist view. People who take that view think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why; and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think. By one chance in a thousand something hit our sun and made it produce the planets; and by another thousandth chance the chemicals necessary for life, and the right temperature, occurred on one of these planets, and so some of the matter on this earth came alive; and then, by a very long series of chances, the living creatures developed into things like us.

The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another. And on this view it made the universe, partly for purposes we do not know, but partly, at any rate, in order to produce creatures like itself—I mean, like itself to the extent of having minds.

Please do not think that one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up.

And note this too. You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense. Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, 'I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2.20 a.m. on January 15th and saw so-and-so,' or, 'I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so.' Do not think that I am saying anything against science; I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science -- and a very useful and necessary job it is too.

But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes -- something of a different kind -- this is not a scientific question. If there is 'Something Behind', then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them.

After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became so complete that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, 'Why is there a universe?' 'Why does it go on as it does?' 'Has it any meaning?' would remain just as they were?

And one more quote from the book: "If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

Regarding atheism, what does Scripture say?

Consider the following:

To more specifically enter the debate about evolution, please visit http://educ.jmu.edu/~johns2ja/evolution/Creation/creation.htm.











Engage

In considering what's being said, truth and the Bible, how are we to respond to the world when the world says, "There is no God"?

Possible Responses











What led you to embrace atheism?
What if there is a God? Then what?
How did we get here? (What's the original Cause?)
How do you explain the laws of Science?
What are your virtures? What is their basis?
What is the origin of reason?
Where does the information in our DNA come from?
Does good exist? Does evil exist? How is good or evil determined?
What do you believe? Can you prove it? Is this faith?

Which response is the most engaging so that it may bring discourse and productive discussion, perhaps even to presenting the Gospel? What are some other possible responses that promote discourse?

Also consider this example of engagement beyond words, which engages an atheist: An Atheist Comes to Believe in Christian Evangelism.