Sunday, July 20, 2008

Richard Dawkins’ Wisdom of the Wise

The subject of Atheism has been quite popular in the literary mainstream over the past few years, as “Atheists as Celebrity” Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and others have enriched themselves with self important intellectual books, talk shows and other benefits of our enlightened society. That there are people who willfully claim a disbelief in God is nothing new. That it has become so militant, with legion of sycophants worshipping at their feet may very well be. Or it could simply be another case of the Internet making something seem far more widespread because we now know more about it. Whatever the case, I always find it interesting to read the comments of people on the subject of whether or not there is a God. This interest brought me to an article on Richard Dawkins on the London Times website over the weekend. The article is ostensibly a primer on Dawkins, and some TV show that he is apparently going to host in England on the subject of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

The article itself was of very little interest to me, except when there was some commentary on the God of Israel whom I worship and am subject to. However what was of interest was the volumes of comments left by other readers of the article all discussing (…arguing may be a more accurate term) the merits of believing or not believing in God. I think such comments gives us an opportunity to get a glimpse into the mindset of the masses which for a Christian is the fertile ground to which we would like to bring the truth of God’s gospel of salvation in Christ alone.

I have captured some of the comments of the “anti-God” crowd (in italics below), with the intention to show how the Bible (the “ancient fairytale” to these enlightened ones) despite being written supposedly a by a bunch of fallible men, somehow managed to have something to say about the mindset and motivations of these brilliant people thousands of years before:

I truly appreciated this interview. Having seen Dawkins all over the place lately it was good to read a more indepth article about him. Having read the God Delusion I am probably one of his successes; a moderate christian who finally started critically analyzing my own beliefs... – Norway
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? (Hebrews 2:1-3 NIV)

Welcome to the stupid ages, where people still believe in heaven and hell. Science is something that can be measured and later proven. Which has so far turned theory into computers and such. As time progresses there is more and more evidence to support evolution I don’t see any proof that god did it – UK
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20 NLT)

God wants you to believe in evolution, for why else would he have put so much evidence for it in the world? Jesus is quoted as saying "he who has eyes to see, let him see" but religious people would rather read ancient stories in their sacred book than look at the works of God with their own eyes – USA
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. (Matthew 13:10-15 NIV)

Yes, it is true non-religious people are "brighter" than religious people..... as a matter of fact most atheists I know have advanced degrees. Let the religious have their crutch, some need drugs, some need alcohol and some need gambling, why shouldn't some believe in the tooth fairy, the easter bunny or some god? - Australia
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:20-21 NIV)

Dawkins is wholly correct, there is no argument with the creationists, because they have nothing to argue with. It still amazes me today that in a supposed advanced society that we still have numbers amongst us that worship some kind of your family, love your friends, love yourself... - UK
…therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." (Isaiah 29:14 NIV)

I sometimes get devout Christians at the door. After a while, I ask them if they think themselves a better person than me. Invariably, the answer is 'yes'. Christians and muslims are the arrogant ones; so convinced of themselves, they even kill non-believers (crusades, inquisition, terrorism, etc) - UK
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-23 NIV)

Dawkins is making it a little easier for some of us to come out of the "closet" and for that I applaud him. For now though, for fear of discrimination and loss of family/friends, I suppose I shall stay in the closet, but at least he's championing the cause for others. Salvation lies in reason. - Canada
They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:7-13 NIV)

I could go on and on, as there were so many comments arguing against not really the existence of God, but really arguing for a “rational” reason to explain their willful disobedience to God. To be sure, the Atheist crowd really don’t disbelieve in God because they truly don’t think He exists. They don’t want to believe. It is simply choice. They probably are unwilling to accede to the implications of belief. To the implications that they are subservient to a being greater than their self important selves. These people unfortunately choose to disbelieve. Though to them the Bible is a silly little book of fairytales, it is instructive to read what God has to say in Psalm 49: They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave. Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. The grave is their eternal home, where they will stay forever. They may name their estates after themselves, but their fame will not last. They will die, just like animals. This is the fate of fools, though they are remembered as being wise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Foreshadow of Wormwood?

I just finished watching the movie Deep Impact, a movie I have seen many times before. I am drawn to this movie not necessarily because of the storyline, which is compelling (the earth threatened by the impact of a giant comet), but by the character sketches presented in the movie; about the reaction of a population when faced with imminent death.

Death is not a subject that is discussed openly in our society. For obvious reasons. To most people death is very scary. It is natural that most people don’t want to die. The nature of life is such that we are instinctly created to strive for life. But it is also obvious that death is a part of life. Our physical bodies are born to die according God our creator: By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19 NIV). The movie Deep Impact I think captured fairly accurately the expected reaction of people if faced with an “extinction level event” such as what faced them in the movie. In the movie there was widespread fear and panic. People were also shown doing heroic things both personally and professionally in the face of imminent death. As you would expect from Hollywood, there were minimal scenes of spirituality displayed by the characters, but there were two noticeable exceptions. The US President was shown acknowledging his belief in God and offered a national prayer taken from the Book of Numbers Chapter 6: The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6: 24-26 NIV). Also, a “modern day Noah’s Ark” was created in caves to house the selected people and animals that would remain underground protected from the destruction of the comet on the earth' surface. I found it humorous to note the references to Noah’s Ark when many in popular culture (and Hollywood) claim to believe in evolution vs. the creationism that accompanied the Noah’s Ark story in the biblical Book of Genesis. I won’t describe the end of the movie for those who may not have seen it yet, but it is well worth your time.

Another reason why I think I’m drawn to this movie is the fact that the Bible predicts that an event similar to what is described in the movie will actually occur. This is described in the Book of Revelation about the terrible events that will occur at the end of the age during which God will “pour out His wrath and judgment” on an unbelieving and decadent world: When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets; Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (Revelation 8:1-2; 6-10 NIV) A scary thought isn’t it. This is what God says will happen to the world at some point in the future (perhaps the not so distant future).

I write this post because I pray that some reader who has not accepted Jesus’ authority over their lives may stop and consider what this will mean for them if they persist. It is never God’s intention for any person to suffer wrath: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2nd Peter 3:9 NIV). Though death is a scary thing, God wants us to give thought to our death if only to exhort us to acknowledge Him and live for Him: A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 NIV)

A God who sends people to Hell?