googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: A Friendly Atheist Has 78 Questions for Christians: Part 5

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Friendly Atheist Has 78 Questions for Christians: Part 5

We're nearing the end of this series. The remaining questions are a little more random and not as easily grouped to create a theme for my post but some of them need to be addressed. Like I said in the introduction, I knew I wouldn't get to every single question, but I think I'll get to more than I thought I would when I started. I will probably have only one more post after this one.

46) Why is God playing hide-and-seek with all of humanity?

I've written about this before. I would say that God has and does reveal Himself. First, He is clearly seen in His creation (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20). He gave His word to the prophets and apostles. His voice was heard audibly at Mt. Sinai and at Jesus' baptism. Most importantly, there is the incarnation – the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel (“God with us'), where He dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. Today, we have the canon of Scripture to attest to these things and Christians are commanded to go into all the world to make Him known to all the nations. God certainly doesn't hide from humanity.

It's my opinion, though, that even if God appeared to this generation, people who refuse to believe will still refuse to believe. Jesus told the Pharisees that His resurrection would be the sign of His authority yet, after He raised from dead, the Pharisees still refused to believe and even bribed the guards at the tomb to say His disciples stole His body.

The evidence for God is overwhelming and people who refuse to believe will still refuse to believe regardless of how God makes Himself known.

29) Does God speak to you personally?
30) If God spoke to you and told you to kill your child, would you do it?
31) If God told you to kill me, would you do it?
32) Is God always watching over you?
33) How 'bout when you're on the toilet?

I don't believe God ordinarily speaks to people in the same way He spoke to the prophets. If He did, we might ask why we would even need a prophet? God could have just spoken to every person in Israel and given His message rather than having one person say, “Thus saith the LORD...” Now that we have the Scriptures, I don't believe there is any more needs for prophets or apostles at all so I'm even less likely to believe anyone who claims to have heard God speak. Those times in the Bible where He did speak to people are the exceptions, just like the miracles recorded in the Bible are exceptions.

Of course, there are people who are “called.” Some people become preachers, missionaries, or have some other ministry God has “called” them to. Yet even in these instances, the people don't claim that God spoke audibly to them. It is usually through prayer, study, fasting, and seeking God that He has made His will known to them.

I don't claim to understand exactly why God has chosen to speak only through the prophets or through the Scriptures but it's clear that He does.

76) Do you believe childbirth is an example of a miracle?
77) Does that mean Hitler was once a miracle baby?
78) And if childbirth is a miracle, how come that miracle happens thousands and thousands of times every week?

I believe life is a miracle. I believe the human body is a marvelous machine that virtually screams of design. I believe the DNA molecule is the fingerprint of God's hand in the creation. I believe the “scientific” term, abiogenesis, is merely a rehashed version of spontaneous generation which was tossed into the trash bin of bad scientific theories along with bloodletting.

What I can't understand is how people can look at the wonder, the complexity, and the design that is present everywhere in the universe and sit, cross-armed and shaking their heads saying it's still not enough evidence for God. Like I said, they refuse to believe!

47) Do you believe that Jesus is coming back to earth during your lifetime?
48) If you do, what do you say to all those people who have been saying the same thing for centuries and are no longer with us?

Matthew 24:36 says that only the Father knows the day and hour Christ will return. Jesus did give us signs to look for that would precede His return. Obviously, we're closer to His return than any generation before us which is perhaps why we see these things happening with more and more frequency.

Maybe Jesus will come in my lifetime. Maybe not. How am I supposed to know? I do know that it's going to happen, though, and Matthew says it will be like it was in the days of Noah. Genesis tells us that God proclaimed His Spirit will not always strive with men. For 120 years, people continued as they always had – eating, drinking, marrying – then the Flood came!

2 Peter 3:3-4 talks about this attitude: Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. We should not interpret Christ's delay to mean He's not coming.

1 comment:

Steven J. said...

46) Why is God playing hide-and-seek with all of humanity?

Note that even if we grant that a Creator is evident from the universe itself, the seekers in hide-and-seek likewise know that the hider exists; that doesn't itself reveal where he might be hiding. There are many scriptures in the world (a Muslim could claim equally well that God doesn't hide because He has given us the prophet Muhammed and the Koran); there were even Christian scriptures that eventually didn't make the cut into canon (and a couple, like Revelation, that were contested for centuries after they did). The Bible didn't descend, complete and finished, from Heaven; human beings had to decide which of many various writings by human beings claiming divine inspiration actually had it. This leaves all modern humans with a choice of their own: which, if any, of the various groups deciding that these particular writings are divinely inspired and authoritative got it right?

I suppose you could argue that the present arrangement (a Bible but little or no ongoing revelation) has its advantages; one response to "what if God commanded you to kill your child -- or mine?" is that God has commanded the contrary in the Bible and that any present revelation of a divine command to do such a thing would be obviously a false prophecy (I suppose this is implied in your comments on how, now that we have the Bible, we don't need direct personal revelation).

76) Do you believe childbirth is an example of a miracle?

I take your answer to mean, "no, childbirth is not itself a miracle, though the creation of the first humans were." Mehta's point is that the term "miracle" (like most common words) has a range of meanings, and that some Christians do indeed use this to equivocate when discussing whether we see evidence of miracles. Others just argue that personal incredulity at naturalistic explanations and God-of-the-gaps arguments are sufficient reasons for invoking miracles as explanations for past events.

Obviously, we're closer to His return than any generation before us which is perhaps why we see these things happening with more and more frequency.

I'm currently reading Tom Holland's The Forge of Christendom, about political changes in Europe around the year 1000 AD. He notes (it's a major theme of the book) that the Christians of that time (some rather nominal and others deeply sincere) saw signs of Christ's imminent return more and more frequently, in a world at least as conflict-torn, economically transforming, and unstable as ours today. He makes a similar point in his book In the Shadow of the Sword, about the rise of Islam and Christianity's reaction to it (some three centuries before the events of The Forge of Christendom.