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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Making of an Atheist by James Spiegel

Have you heard of the pray for an atheist group yet on facebook? Click here It is related to a provocative new book, The Making of an Atheist by James Spiegel.

In it he analyzes possible reasons for atheists not believing in God--which are volitional and moral. Moreover, it seems that some atheists really don't the like the idea that some Christians are praying for interesting conversation going on over on facebook. Here is Spiegel's summary of his book - it is well worth checking out.

"Sigmund Freud famously dismissed belief in God as a psychological projection caused by wishful thinking. Today many of the “new atheists”—including Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—make a similar claim, insisting that believers are delusional. Faith is a kind of cognitive disease, according to them. And they are doing all they can to rid the world of all religious belief and practice.

Christian apologists, from Dinesh D’Souza to Ravi Zacharias, have been quick to respond to the new atheists, revealing holes in their arguments and showing why theistic belief, and the Christian worldview in particular, is reasonable. In fact, the evidence for God is overwhelming, confirming the Apostle Paul’s point in Romans 1 that the reality of God is “clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20, NIV).

So if the evidence for God is so plain to see, then why are there atheists? That is the question that prompted The Making of an Atheist. The answer I propose turns the tables on the new atheists, as I show that unbelief is a psychological projection, a cognitive disorder arising from willful resistance to the evidence for God. In short, it is atheists who are the delusional ones.

Unlike Dawkins and his ilk, I give an account as to how the delusion occurs, showing that atheistic rejection of God is precipitated by immoral indulgences, usually combined with some deep psychological disturbances, such as a broken relationship with one’s father. I also show how atheists suffer from what I call “paradigm-induced blindness,” as their worldview inhibits their ability to recognize the reality of God manifest in creation. These and other factors I discuss are among the various dimensions of sin’s corrupting influence on the mind.

I’ve been told that The Making of an Atheist is a provocative book, but I didn’t write it to provoke anyone. I simply wanted to tell the truth about this issue. Anyway, since the new atheists are bold enough to trumpet their claim that theists are delusional, it seems appropriate that someone should be willing to propose that the opposite is true. As they say, turnabout is fair play."

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Future of the Human Species

"If a number of pundits are correct, we have already taken some initial steps toward creating a posthuman future. The goal of this project is nothing less than the perfection of the human species. Specifically, human performance will be enhanced and longevity extended through anticipated advances in pharmacology, biotechnology, and bionics. Drugs, for example, can lessen the need for sleep; genetic engineering will slow the aging process; artificial limbs will enhance strength and agility; and brain implants will enhance the speed of interacting with computers. The cyborg becomes the next stage of human evolution. Some visionaries foresee a day when, with the aid of artificial intelligence and robotics, endless lives might be achieved. The underlying binary information constituting one’s personality would be uploaded into a computer and then downloaded into robotic bodies or virtual reality programs. With sufficient and reliable memory storage, the process could, in principle, be repeated indefinitely, thereby achieving virtual immortality. In the posthuman future, humans become self-perfected artifacts by blurring, if not eliminating, the line separating the natural from the artificial.

The promise of the posthuman project is the creation of beings that live healthy, productive, and happy lives, and most importantly beings that live for very long time—perhaps forever. The ultimate promise is immortality. The accompanying peril, however, is that the cost is exorbitant. The price of perfecting humankind is its destruction, for in becoming posthuman humans cease being human. The peril of the posthuman project, in short, is that its optimism disguises an underlying death-wish for the human species.

One might be tempted to object that any worry about this peril is misplaced. The peril presupposes a promise that is far from certain. Few, if any, of the requisite technological advances have yet been achieved, and the likelihood of dramatic breakthroughs any time soon is slim at best. A so-called posthuman future is based on science fiction, not science. Consequently, time should not be wasted worrying about a peril that might, but probably will never present itself.

There are two reasons why this temptation...."by Brent Waters (More)

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Monday, March 29, 2010

What Did Jesus Teach About Worry?

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:22-34)

The BIG question I need to answer is this....does Jesus really know what he is talking about?

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Do We Find It So Hard to Forgive?

"One reason we resist forgiving is that we don't really understand what forgiveness is or how it works. We think we do, but we don't.

Most of us assume that if we forgive our offenders, they are let off the hook — scot-free — and get to go about their merry ways while we unfairly suffer from their actions. We also may think that we have to be friendly with them again, or go back to the old relationship. While God commands us to forgive others, he never told us to keep trusting those who violated our trust or even to like being around those who hurt us.

The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it is and isn't. The next step is giving yourself permission to forgive and forget, letting go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries.

Granting Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook. We can and should still hold others accountable for their actions or lack of actions." (more)

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Is Atheism a Crutch?

Greg Koukl has a helpful post on this question:

"Some say Christianity is just a crutch. But let's turn the question on its edge for a moment. Is atheism an emotional crutch, wishful thinking? The ax cuts both ways.

Perhaps atheists are rejecting God because they've had a bad relationship with their father. Instead of inventing God, have atheists invented non-God? Have they invented atheism to escape some of the frightening implications of God's existence? Think about it.

And to the question "Is Christianity a crutch?" I say yes, but not in the way the atheist puts the challenge. Just as someone with a broken leg needs a crutch to lean on to help him heal, Christians have recognized that we are broken people who need a Savior who is the only Healer of our sin.

We all need a crutch. The questions is, are you using a crutch that will hold you?...."

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Discipleship to Jesus in Plain Language

"We can learn from him how to live our lives as he would would live them if he were we. We can enter his eternal kind of life now"--Dallas Willard

John 17:3

Luke 6:40

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Monday, March 22, 2010

There is a God - Why Antony Flew Now Believes in God

“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence and that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science."-Antony Flew

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’

Here is a thought-provoking article over at the American by Jay Richards.

"Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd." (read more)

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Are you weary?

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."- 1 Cor 15:58

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

True U - Ready for College?

I am thrilled with a new DVD resource available for students. My friend Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason said:

"I've spent over 17 years working with students. One of the toughest challenges is finding good curricula. Most of the stuff out there was either too lame and cheesy or too shallow--nothing you could use with students without reservation. TrueU has finally solved the problem. Their DVD curriculum is deep, equipping students with a sophisticated but accessible defense of the faith. But it's also pretty cool, produced in a way that won't have you thinking, "There's another tacky Christian product." Seriously, this video curriculum needs to be shown in Christian homes, youth groups, and schools across the nation, if we're going to adequately train up a new generation of Christ followers."

And I agree...I have been watching these and they are EXCELLENT and I plan on using them with our students.

My recommendations of preparing students with a solid Christian worldview would be this:

1. Go through True U. (click here)
2. Buy them a copy of Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey and the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (see below)

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Voices of Haiti - A Daily Photo Essay

You owe it to yourself to see some of these beautiful pictures from haiti. My friend and photographer Jeremy Cowart explains why he put this together:

"After the 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti on January 12th of this year, I was deeply moved as most of you were. For days I watched as the television flashed images of gloom and doom... dead bodies, crumbled buildings... It just felt like a heartless display of numbers and statistics. "How were the people feeling?" I wondered. I was tired of hearing endless reports from strangers that just arrived to this devastated nation. So I decided to go to Port-Au-Prince myself and ask them directly. My question was simply "What do you have to say about all this?" This photo essay reveals the many answers to that question."

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is the Mocha Club?

Here is a short video that explains the vision and heart of the mocha club. My wife and I support it and it is led by good people... check it out.

Who We Are from Mocha Club on Vimeo.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Social Gospel? Beck Should Read the Prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus

Darrell Bock has a thoughtful post on Glenn Beck's recent comments:

"I am in Israel but am reading about what I see as a strange controversy in the USA. It is Glenn Beck's call for people to leave church's that preach a "social gospel", but then goes on to discuss social action and issues of justice as if to do so is unbiblical. The confusion is that these are NOT all the same thing. Let's be clear: the gospel is NOT about doing social work. The gospel is not doign social work, but that fdoes not mean social work is irrelevant ot those who embrace the gospel. Social work can be a witness for the gospel or real evidecne of a proper response to God, a product of the gospel. The roots are in the Prophets, such as Micah 6:8.

He has told you, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD really wants from you:
He wants you to promote justice, to be faithful,
and to live obediently before your God.

Or try John the Baptist. In Luke 3:10-14 when he is asked to explain what repentance is that is ready for the Lord to come he says:

So the crowds were asking him, “What then should we do?”
John answered them, “The person who has two tunics34 must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise.”
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
He told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.” Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us—what should we do?” He told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.”

To turn to God means I relate to other peopel differently.

Or try Jesus' words to his audience (Matt 5:14-16):

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.
People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

Or the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:5-9:

And when Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, because I must stay at your house today.” So he came down quickly and welcomed Jesus joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all complained, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times as much!” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham!

Something about Zacchaeus's heart was right in showing concern for the poor. Jesus commends the attitude. So let's not let Christian virtue get captured in ideological political rhetoric of cultural wars that take people away from the call of the gospel to be socially sensitive. Let's be sure we read and listen to the prophets John the Baptist and Jesus. May political commentators giving advice to members of the church be sure and read their Bible first and not oversimplify what God asks of people who serve him. Yes, the gospel is about salvation of the soul, but service to the world and caring for justice and the poor grows out of responding properly to God. Once again what some want to make either-or is actually a both-and when bibically defined. Let's not villify with political associations of communism or socialism a concern and compassion Jesus asks of people who love their neighbor....(more)"

Sound advice.Now good intentions don't always translate into the outcomes for the oppressed or poor that we desire. That is why it is about more than giving money to a good cause. See these three helpful works on this point. But it appears that Beck has a confused understanding of the Good News of God and what that means for all people.

When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves by Corbett and Fikkert

The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is Jesus an Add On?

"Jesus does not offer a new layer to your life. He invites you to a completely different life altogether."--J.P. Moreland

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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Best Question Ever....Really

When i first came across the title of a book by Andy Stanley called the Best Question Ever a year ago, obviously I thought this was marketing hype. But then I read it and watched the DVD's and listened to him teach on this material. I then repented.

I think it could be the best question ever--especially if you are trying to figure out what God's will is for your life. Based on Ephesians 5:15-16, the issue is not is there a verse against it...or is it legal...or even if there is anything wrong with it...but is it wise?

This easily makes it on my list of every Christian--especially teenager--should be exposed to this principle and question. I recently facilitated a 2 part study on this at our church and the feedback was excellent.

Here are links to the book. You can start "foolproofing" your life, time, morality, and decision making if you will begin applying this question to every decision you make.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Newbigin on Truth and Faith

"No faith can command a man's final and absolute allegiance, that is to say no faith can be a man's real religion, if he knows that is is only true for certain places and certain people."--Lesslie Newbigin

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stephen Meyer Stirs Up More Controversy with Signature in the Cell

From Evolution News and Views...

"As a former book review editor (at National Review), I take a professional interest in book reviews and all the things that can go right or wrong with them. I confess, though, I’ve never seen anything quite like the treatment of Stephen Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, on BioLogos, the curious website funded by the Templeton Foundation and specializing in Christian apologetics for Darwin. The site published what was clearly, unambiguously written to look like a review by biologist Francisco Ayala that, as Steve Meyer pointed out already, actually gave every evidence that Ayala had not read the book. (My colleague Dr. Meyer thinks Ayala did read the Table of Contents, but on this I must disagree.)

On what did Ayala base his views about Signature? This is a bit of a mystery...."

More here

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Who's Path Are You Going to Follow?

"There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."--Proverbs 16:25


"Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path."--Psalm 37:34

There's always a choice.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Do Darwinism and ‘Climate Change’ Have in Common?

The New York Times recently posted an article about Climate change and Darwinian Evolution. Dr. Jay Richards has written an insightful commentary on it:

"Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times reports on budding initiatives in state legislatures and boards of education to encourage or require balance in classroom discussions of global warming. The point of the piece, though, is to connect the teaching of evolution to the climate change debate:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Now when I read anything on the environment in the New York Times, I try to keep a couple of deconstructionist qualifiers running in the back of my head: “This is what the New York Times wants me to believe about the issue” and “What are they trying to accomplish with this piece?” I know it’s cynical, but when it comes to environmental stories, I just don’t trust New York Times reporters to keep it straight.

Some things they want to accomplish with this piece:

(1) Divide and conquer skeptics of global warming orthodoxy and Darwinism, by painting the latter as ignorant religious zealots, in hopes of starting a fight among conservatives. No doubt they’re hoping that, say, Richard Lindzen will have to explain why he agrees with those nefarious creationists on the global warming issue, and that he’ll have to spend his time issuing statements of agreement with evolution.

(2) Make it harder for official bodies to encourage critical thinking on global warming, since attempts to do the same with regard to evolution have, in recent years, met with fierce resistance and only modest success.

This becomes clear by reading the story in its entirety. Kaufman is careful to describe the whole thing as a plot by evangelicals and fundamentalists that, in the words of Lawrence Krauss, is designed to cast “doubt on the veracity of science—to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

Then, to prevent alienating all religious readers, Kaufman explains: “Not all evangelical Christians reject the notion of climate change, of course.” So we get the usual quote from an evangelical who thinks the Bible agrees with the New York Times. Enter Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network as an example of how to be a good evangelical.

There’s so much to say about this piece, but let’s me pursue just one question: Is the debate over “evolution” the same as the debate over “climate change”?

Well, I think they’re both alike and different. First, the similarities, which I think are mostly sociological:

*Both issues suffer from “semantic creep,” which tends to prevent rational discussion.

So a vague word like “evolution” can range in meaning from the trivial and tautological—change over time and survival of the fittest—to the uncontroversial—certain organisms share common ancestors and natural selection explains some things—to the questionable and ideological—everything is the result of a purely impersonal process, we don’t exist for a purpose, we’re just carriers for selfish genes, natural selection and random genetic mutations explain everything interesting, and so forth. If you doubt the latter, you get lumped in with doubting the former.

Similarly, instead of debating specifics about global warming—Are humans the main cause of the recent warming trend in global temperatures? Would the Kyoto Protocol" (more...)

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Texas students argue the Bible is smut

Interesting article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"The Atheist Agenda, a University of Texas San Antonio student organization, is preaching the Bible and other religious writings are just as smutty as recognized pornography.

The “smut for smut” campaign this week tries to counter the religious message of love by noting that the Bible and the Quran recount violence and torture, according to the San Antonio News-Express.

“It’s a First Amendment right,” said Bradley Lewis, an 18-year-old member of the Atheist Agenda. “If religious groups can put out missionaries and go knock on my door and wake me up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I can put a table outside of a college.”

Nobody seems to be contesting the group's right to have their say, but Robin Lorkovic -- standing nearby with a sign proclaiming “God Loves you! Keep your Bible and learn from it” -- said the Atheist Agenda’s campaign was inappropriate.

“I am a Christian,” Lorkovic, 18, told the News-Express. “I believe in God’s love, and I am here to stand my ground and stand up for what I believe in.”

Lewis conceded that the event is basically a publicity stunt and a means to generate debate.

“This is ultimately why this is going on,” Lewis said. “It's an icebreaker to get people talking about these things.” (more)

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Evidence 4 Faith

I came across a helpful apologetics site / radio show that is worth checking out. It is Evidence 4 Faith. Here is their RSS feed to the podcast / radio show.

Check it out and Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Does the Christian God Exist? A debate between Dinesh D'Souza and John Loftus

Here is the debate between Dinesh D'Souza and John Loftus on the topic: Does the Christian God Exist? Debate video can be found here. D'Souza offers his follow-up thoughts on the Sound Rezn radio show here (mp3). Check out Dinesh's newest book here. (original debate source here)

Full MP3 Audio here. (2 hours)

(HT / Apologetics 315)

Other D'Souza Debates

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How are Spiritual Disciplines like Lima Beans? Latest think Christianly Podcast Now Up

Monday, March 1, 2010

Responding to New Atheists' Non-belief Argument

It is often common to hear an atheist object to belief in God by saying they just don't have a belief and are not required to advance any reasons for that view.

Here is how the question was asked: "I've grown frustrated with Atheists saying to me that they don’t have to give any arguments or evidence to support their view, because they are not making any claims. They have a "non-belief". One atheist told me he is not required to provide evidence that there are no fairies living under his house either. This seems so cheap, so lame, yet I'm not sure how to make that obvious to them. What do you suggest? "

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason offers a video response to this objection here.

For more on responding to these kinds of arguments, see the resource page on the New Atheism at Think Christianly here.

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