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Monday, September 18, 2017

A Friendly Atheist Has 78 Questions for Christians: Part 1

Like I said in my introduction to this series, I'm not going to write a point by point reply to every question Hemant Mehta asks in his video. Several of the questions seem to be making the same point and Mehta did a good job of grouping together questions that deal with similar subjects. The first several questions he asks deal with who is in heaven or hell.

1) Is Anne Frank burning in hell right now?
2) How about Mahatma Gandhi?
5) Should a kindhearted atheist be forced to go burn in hell for all eternity?
6) What about any, non-Christian, good person? Should they be burning in hell?

I dealt with this subject about a year ago in a post titled, Will “good” unbelievers go to hell? Mehta is committing the logical fallacy of appealing to emotion by making God seem unfair for sending “good” unbelievers to hell. Such questions do nothing to establish the existence (or non-existence) of God. What, God must be imaginary because He's mean? You can see how that doesn't work. Critics ask these questions for the sole purpose of trying to make Christians feel uncomfortable. They are not arguments for the correctness of atheism.

Besides their weak footing in logic, the other flaw in these types of questions is that there really is no such thing as a “good” person. Ray Comfort has a ministry called, Way of the Master, where he witnesses to people on the street. His approach is to ask a person if considers himself to be a good person. Most will say, yes. Then he asks the person to judge himself according to the 10 commandments. He will say, for example, “Is it wrong to tell a lie? Have you ever told a lie? What do you call someone who lies? Then by your own admission, you're a liar!” People lust. People steal. People envy. People hate. Even an atheist will say it's wrong to do these things yet he still does them. On what grounds does he consider anyone good?

Also, people often use extreme examples to excuse the average. Maybe Gandhi was a good person according to earthly standards – but does the critic believe he's as good as Gandhi? Probably not. So ask the critic, “You're not as good as Gandhi, are you? If God were to judge you fairly, according to the 10 commandments, do you think you'd be guilty?” Atheists know they're guilty and they desperately want to believe there is no God who will judge them.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Like it or not, the truth is exclusive. Everyone faces the same fate – a grave. Everyone also has the same opportunity – eternal life through Jesus Christ. You can pout all you want about it not being fair, that doesn't change the reality of it.

3) Is Fred Phelps in heaven because he believed in the divinity of Jesus?
4) Should a killer who genuinely repents be able to go to heaven?

Just as the questions above, these questions also use the same weak approach of questioning the fairness of God – this time, for God forgiving people who are bad by earthly standards. I've written about this same point before too. And, like above, Mehta is using extreme examples to marginalize the average.

God forgives sin. That's good news! And if we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, our sins will be forgiven! That's the gospel. Why does Mehta worry about the murderers? What sins has he committed? Shouldn't he worry about those sins? It's easy to point to someone worse than you and say, “Well, I'm better than him?” What, you think God shouldn't judge you because he's a murderer and you're just a liar? You should rejoice that God can forgive every sin, including yours. God forgives teens who disobey their parents and and men who look at pornography and people who cheat on their taxes and women who have had abortions and husbands who divorce their wives and people who spend time on FaceBook when their employers are paying them to work.

Isaiah 1:18 says, Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” Why would someone scoff because God can forgive a person who's “really bad”? Instead, we should rejoice that God can forgive even you!

As for Fred Phelps, Jesus said that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21). In that same chapter, He told us that we can judge people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20, et al). The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23). I can't say that we saw this fruit in Phelps which makes me wonder if he really was a Christian.

Maybe Phelps believed Jesus was God. But James 2:19 correctly points out that even demons believe in God so simply believing in God isn't enough for salvation. Jesus also has to be our Lord. Did Phelps accept Jesus as his Lord? It doesn't seem like it. In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked, “Why do you call me Lord and not do the things which I say?” It all goes back to judging people by their fruits. People should see Christ in us. If they don't, maybe it's because Christ isn't in us.

At the end of the day, though, it's not me who must decide if Phelps is in heaven. It is God who searches the hearts and knows who will be rewarded and who will be condemned (1 Chronicles 28:9).

7) Would you be happy in heaven if someone you loved was in hell?

Revelation 20 talks about a grim event commonly called, the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), where those people who rejected Christ in life will be judged according to their works. If they thought they were “good,” this will be their chance to prove it. Verse 12 says their works will be judged according to the things written in “the books” - which I believe are the books of the Bible. Every lie the person told, every careless act, every evil thought will testify to his guilt. It says also that another book will be opened, the Book of Life. Every Christian's name is in the book and every sinner who's name is not written in that book will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

No, I will not be happy seeing this happen – especially to someone I love. Knowing this is their fate should make us try all the more to reach them. Charles Spurgeon said:

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Friendly Atheist Has 78 Questions for Christians: Introduction

There's a YouTube channel called, The Atheist Voice, hosted by a guy named, Hemant Mehta. He calls himself, “The Friendly Atheist” and he really is kind of friendly. I say, “kind of” because he still uses a lot of the same, frustrating arguments that other atheists use – like creationists don't believe evolution because they don't understand it – but he's much less snarky and condescending than the truly obnoxious atheists like Dawkins and Nye.

I knew that friendly atheists exist because a frequent visitor to my blog, Steven J, is one. Even so, they're sometimes hard to find. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 10% of Americans don't believe in God. Many of them are just your average Joe who may be a neighbor or coworker but they aren't militant about their atheism. It's only those atheists who are very vocal about it, like starting a blog or having a YouTube channel discussing atheism, who are confrontational so these are the ones that seem to represent the group.

I like to watch videos made by atheists. Well, maybe I don't actually like to but you could say it's part of the job. If I want to change the mind of an atheist or evolutionist, I have to really understand what he's thinking. The problem is that too many atheists' videos are posted by the militant, smarmy kind of atheist and their condescending tone, incessant insults, and frequent use of profanity make the videos uninteresting and difficult to sit through. Mehta, however, besides being friendly, is also articulate and sums up typical atheists' arguments fairly well. Most of his arguments aren't original (which is fine) but he presents them concisely and it's much easier to listen to him than many of his partners in crime.

Anyway, Mehta has one video titled, 78 Questions for Christians. Kudos to him for not calling it, “78 Questions Christians can't answer” or something like that. I've always been annoyed by titles like that – not just because they're incredibly presumptuous but I have yet to see such an article that lives up to its title. Of course, even though Mehta didn't say these questions have no answers, he clearly seems to think they are difficult to answer. His motive appears to be to make Christians uncomfortable which might lead them to question their beliefs. It's a common tactic.

Since I'm all about defending the faith, my first thought was to do a series answering all 78 questions. Then reality smacked me on the forehead. There's no way I'm going to write a 78-posts-long series. Still, he does have some interesting points I'd like to discuss. Instead of a point by point reply, I'm going to address his questions in general. Several of the questions he asks make duplicate points anyway so I can answer many of the duplicates with a single post. I can probably get cover the video pretty well in about 6 posts. We'll see.

Answering the questions will begin in my next post but here is some food for thought about the series: First, it's not unusual for someone, especially a lay person, to not understand everything about a subject. If someone isn't able to calculate the acceleration rate of a falling object, for example, that's not evidence against gravity! Likewise, if a Christian isn't sure how to answer some critic, it's not evidence against Christianity.

Next, some of Mehta's questions are pointless or are poorly premised. Think about the old, gag question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” To say either yes or no condemns the person who answers. The correct response is point out that the premise of the question is flawed: “Your question assumes that I used to beat my wife.” When engaging with a critic, don't get trapped by their logical fallacies.

Finally, I want to be clear that the point of me doing this is as much about equipping saints as it is about answering critics. We are commanded to study (2 Tim 2:15) and to be ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15). The questions Mehta asks are the same questions atheists ask all the time. Mehta is trying to provoke us to doubt but some unbelievers ask these questions in earnest. They want to know, for example, if God would send “good” people to hell. If you can give well thought out answers to their questions, they may be more open to accepting Christ.

Keep checking back for part 1!!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Are creationists arrogant? A review of King Crocoduck's series: Part 5

King Crocoduck (which I abbreviate as KC) concludes his series with a brief recap of the first 4 videos. As I listened to the summary of each video, I kept thinking of things I'd like to have included in my previous criticism that I could include now but I'm going to resist for the sake of space. Anyway, he seems to express a belief that his first 4 videos built upon each other in a logical progression leading up to his main point which is what he claims is the motive behind creationists' arrogance. I just don't see the progression. Actually, I wasn't even sure of his main point in video 4 until I heard his summary but OK, I'll concede that each video made a different point. Even so, KC's always-present condescension and incessant barrage of insults made all of the videos sound alike.

I wanted to cite a pithy quote from KC to summarize his point in video 5 but couldn't find so I'll have to provide my own summary. KC is saying that creationists – all creationists – intentionally lie and pervert science solely to make the available data seem to fit our narrow interpretation of our sacred text. Beginning at around 9:48, KC says, “Creationists, if your position is so strong, why do you rely on such dishonesty to defend it? I'm not just referring to examples of fraud, like the Paluxy riverbed footprints or the creationist leaders with fake academic degrees. I'm talking about the entire philosophy of creationist claims.” Now, lest anyone think KC is using hyperbole when he says, “the entire philosophy of creationist claims,” I will quote KC further. He says, “Any and all creationists claims will, without exception, fall into at least one of the following categories:”
  • Failure with regard to the scientific method and/or relevant scientific principles
  • Unreasonable/Inconsistent standard of evidence
  • Vague terminology
  • You just have to beeleev!” (that is, to have blind, dogmatic faith in creationism)
There you have it, folks. Every claim, every argument, every fossil, every fact, every piece of data ever cited by a creationist is a fraud!

Keeping this list in mind, back up the video to about 2:38 where KC says, “A scientist's judgment remains tabular rasa and a scientist will only follow evidence wherever it leads – not wherever they want it to go!” OK, then here is my question: When KC overtly states that all evidence for creation will be flawed or fabricated, how can he possibly believe that all scientists look at the evidence objectively? You see, KC is doing exactly what he accuses creationists of doing. He has already made up his mind that origin models like the Big Bang and evolution are true. Therefore, any evidence I could present to the contrary will be - indeed, has been already – dismissed a priori without even being examined.

Let me give you an example of the how scientists have a bias that influences how they interpret evidence. Young earth creationists believe dinosaurs were contemporary with humans and only became extinct a few thousand years ago. A few years ago, Dr. Mary Schweitzer found red blood cells in a t-rex fossil. Since creationists believe the dinosaur fossil could only be a few thousand years old, it's not really a surprise there might be original biomatter still contained in it. Many creationists, myself included, have cited this as evidence in support of our theory. It's one of my “10 Evidences for Biblical Creation.”

Evolutionists, on the other hand, believe the fossil is 68 million years old. How do they explain the fact that it still contained red blood cells? Their first instinct was to deny that it was red blood cells. Many believed it was misidentified or was possibly the result of contamination. This objection could not be supported for long because we've since found original biomatter in other dinosaur fossils It turns out to be somewhat common – it just wasn't discovered earlier because nobody was cutting fossils open to look for it. Since it really is original, soft tissue in the fossils, they have to explain it somehow. According to, If particles of that one dinosaur were able to hang around for 65 million years, maybe the textbooks were wrong about fossilization.... [this find is] showing us we really don’t understand decay.

Hmm. Maybe we really do understand decay. Maybe we understand decay so well that we know these fossils can't really be 65 million years old. KC says scientists are “blank slates.” In this case, they refuse to consider the most obvious conclusion only to look for a solution that flies in the face of what we have learned through simple observation. Why? If scientists were truly blank slates, why won't they even consider “younger than 65 million years” as one possible explanation - especially knowing that even a dinosaur found alive today doesn't necessarily disprove evolution? It's because they have a vested interest in preserving their dating methods and any evidence that might contradict the assigned date of the fossil puts other parts of their precious theories in jeopardy. They're certainly not going where the evidence leads. Their theory is leading them around by the nose when it comes to interpreting the data.

Zealot followers of scientism stubbornly deny reality because of their religious-like commitment to naturalism. Nothing miraculous can be true. They will believe any outrageous theory regarding the origin of the universe besides special creation and for no other reason than creation is a miracle and miracles don't happen. Even where they have no other explanation for something, they still remain certain that God didn't do it.

This goes back to what I said in my introduction to this series: KC believes there is exactly one possible interpretation of the evidence – the natural explanation agreed on by a majority of scientists. He states as fact things he cannot possibly demonstrate scientifically (like matter being eternal) and paints anyone who disagrees with him as arrogant. Any argument made by a creationist, no matter how reasonable it may sound, no matter how well examined it may be, no matter how many credentials the creationist may have, can be valid. End of debate.

If you haven't watched the entire series, let me sum up every point made by KC like this: “We weren't created by God. Anyone who says that is just stupid and a liar trying to con you. Scientists don't have all the answers but that doesn't matter because you wouldn't be able to understand them anyway. Just trust us because we're brilliant and we study this stuff.” Oh, and while you read this, try to sound as condescending and obnoxious as you can possibly be and there you have KC's entire series.

Read the entire series:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Are creationists arrogant? A review of King Crocoduck's series: Part 4

King Crocoduck (abbreviated here as, KC) begins his 4th video with this thought: “You know, the most remarkable thing about science is that it works.” What follows is a 9 minute diatribe about how it is only through science that we can learn about reality. I laughed out loud at 58 seconds into the video where he says, “Science works. Hate the method for being so rigorous – hate the conclusions for not conforming to your expectations – but do NOT deny its power!” He sounds like a super-villain.

At one point, KC says, “Theology and philosophy simply cannot compete with science if the goal is to construct accurate models of reality.” It's textbook scientism. defines scientism this way:

Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.

Yep, that's KC to a tee! PBS is not a religion-friendly source and I disagree with their characterization that fundamental Protestants reject science but, I must say, I find their comparison of people like KC to religious zealots somewhat hilarious. I doubt KC would accept that label but, if the shoe fits, he should wear it.

KC's worldview suffers from many flaws, many of which I've written about before.  I can't cover them all again now but I will touch on some of the most obvious difficulties. Take morality, for example. Is there really such a thing as morality? Certainly the universe doesn't care what we do. Science can only describe what happens but can't say if a thing is right or wrong. What some might call “murder” is just one animal killing another. It happens all the time in nature and it's no more wrong than an apple falling from a tree. Theology and philosophy are far better tools for examining the reality of good and evil.

Science is also limited when examining history. Pick any person from history and try to prove – scientifically – that he really lived. The best evidence we have for people or events of antiquity is what has been written down about them. The evidence we have for the life, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus is the same type of evidence we have for Columbus having sailed to the Americas.

Speaking of miracles, scientism is also at a disadvantage when examining miracles. At about 6:27 in the video, KC says, “The bottom line is this: scientists don't interpret evidence in a manner that fits an a priori conclusion.” KC is wrong. Secular scientists do have a bias – an a priori commitment to naturalism. Consider this quote from Scientific American Magazine which I've cited on my blog before:

Creation science” is a contradiction in terms. A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms.

Now, there is no scientific reason to believe every phenomenon must have a natural cause. It's an assumption – a tenet that cannot be observed anywhere in the universe. So, if a miracle has occurred in reality, KC would have to deny it happened on no grounds other than his religious-like faith in scientism.

When it comes to interpreting the evidence, KC asserts, “I'm sorry, creationists, but we are not standing on even grounds. Not even close.” KC resorts to a typical tactic used by evolutionists which is to claim dibs on the evidence. He rattles off a bunch of items as though it's evidence only for his theories. One item on his list, for example, is “observed speciation events.” It's true that speciation happens. However, it's a lie to suggest that only evolution can account for speciation. Speciation is a critical part of the creation model. In fact, creationists are often chided with claims that a few thousand years is not enough time for speciation to happen. When we have observed speciation events, it's evidence that speciation can happen quickly – just as predicted by creationists. Furthermore, the speciation we observe are usually examples of the re-sorting of already existing traits via natural selection. It is not the trait-adding sort of change required for evolution.

The worst thing about scientism, though, is that it retards critical thinking. Skepticism is supposed to be at the heart of scientific inquiry. Once a majority of scientists accept any particular conclusion, it becomes, “settled science.” Any expression of doubt about the conclusion is met with ridicule, insults, and the label of being a “science denier.” This brings me back to the same point I made in my introduction to this series; KC is defining arrogance to mean disagreeing with the majority of scientists on the secular theories of origins. It's a blatant appeal to authority: “we're scientists – if you disagree with what we say, you're an idiot.”

Finally, KC conflates the theories of the Big Bang and evolution with all of science. In other words, because we've used “science” to eradicate small pox and put men on the moon, we must also believe in evolution and the Big Bang. At about 1:23, KC says this overtly, “The method that allows you to watch this video and hear my voice, is the same method that has been used to construct the theories that creationists deny. That these other theories have not had as much of an impact on our day to day activities as quantum theory or germ theory have, is irrelevant.” Let me say, quickly, that it's no small point that evolution has no impact on our daily lives. It's a trivial pursuit that is a huge waste of our resources and a waste of students' time in school. What's more concerning here, though, is how KC seems to link me watching his videos as evidence that men and apes have a common ancestor because it's the same scientific method that discovered both! You can see how that doesn't quite work.

Merriam-Webster defines arrogant as, “1. exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner. 2. showing an offensive attitude of superiority : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance.” Now, honestly, isn't that exactly how KC sounds in this series? I think that devotees of scientism are most arrogant people I've ever met. Perhaps I should do a video series on that!

Read the entire series: