Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unbelieving Arguments That Don't Add Up

I'm getting ready to do several home improvement projects and to prepare I've been watching some how-to videos at youtube.   Some kind of system at youtube causes unrelated videos to show up in the sidebar, and one popped up with Christopher Hitchens, the famous atheist, answering a question in one of his debates.  Hitchens, who died this last year of cancer, was well read and very talented rhetorically, yet unconvincing.   Aristotle divided up persuasion into three aspects:  ethos (character), logos (reasoning), and pathos (emotion).  Hitchens utilized pathos very well.  He didn't bring anybody with him, just entertained those already with him and made everyone else mad.

Since I live near Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, I talk to atheists at a more regular clip than most, and if I get any to talk to me (they normally won't), there are a couple of typical lines of thought they take.  One I had a couple of months ago.  He was angry at the truth of one plan of salvation.  He didn't like the idea that Jesus was our only salvation and everyone else was condemned to Hell.  I asked him if would also be angry if there was only one cure for a deadly disease.  Nope.  That froze him.  He couldn't work up the intensity over that.  However, that "argument" is a typical atheist argument.  Salvation through Jesus Christ can't be true, the Bible can't be true, because there is no way that God should condemn people if they won't believe in Him.  They're OK if "nature" condemns someone to death who won't take advantage of the one cure that's available.  They have a bias against the God of the Bible.  They start with rebellion as a default position.

Another popular Hitchen's screed I'd watched him give again and again with memorized talking points polished by multiple usages is one about the God of the Bible or Christianity taking away freedom and giving people only the one point of view.  He likened God to Big Brother, the point being, of course, that if you didn't like Big Brother, then you wouldn't or shouldn't like the God of the Bible or Christianity.  Again, it's not really an argument that Hitchens offers, just a well-worded complaint.  Complaining isn't an argument, except for liberals.  I bring you back to pathos again, which works well in the era in which we live.  Hitchens delivered his complaints with utter disdain of the God of the Bible and believers.

God is Who He is.  He's told us Who He is.  And He is God.  We've got to accept the One, the actual One, the only One we've got.  If you don't accept Him, it's not like you can go find another one you like better, when there's only one.   

Hitchens simply offered the only alternative to the God of the Bible, what you liked better.  Someone asked him what his purpose for life was, and I thought it was ironic, because it was in fact what Jesus said would be the purpose of any unbeliever, that being, eat, drink, and be merry, or in other words, no purpose.  Hitchens wanted to eat, drink, and be merry, and get away with it.  With the God of the Bible, he couldn't, so he just dismissed God.  He couldn't complain and mock God out of existence any more than anyone could Hitchens.

Atheists like Hitchens resign themselves to all sorts of inevitability:  death, pain, the common cold, headaches, gravity, sunburn, insect bites, dripping faucets, and traffic.  In other words, a lot about their lives doesn't go like they want it to go.   They choose to put up with a lot in order to keep living.  But they won't put with God if He's sovereign.  They won't be told what to do, even by their Creator.

Hitchens writes a book.  He's the owner.  Do you think he would put up with people using his creation for whatever or however they wanted?  Of course not.  He created it.  He wrote it.  It's his property.  He's Big Brother over whatever it is he made.  He's a bigger dictator over his own material than God is over what He made.  He wouldn't stand for not doing what he wanted with his own property.

Like I said, the unbelieving arguments don't add up  They aren't true and that's also why they don't work.  It's God's world.  He created us, and that's why even unbelievers act like Him, and then they complain when He acts like Him.  God is justified in how He acts and on most occasions unbelievers aren't justified in how they behave.  But they feel entitled to act as His judge.

We are God's.  That was an argument that Jesus made when He said 'render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.'  Caesar's image was on the Roman coin, so Caesar could require taxation.  God's image is on us, so He can require submission to Him.  We should assume that we're better off doing what He said.  And even if we don't assume that, it's still true.


Joshua said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

Two statements that hit the nail right on the head:

"I asked him if he would also be angry if there was only one cure for a deadly disease."

I've never heard that line of argumentation before, but that is an excellent way to picture the necessity of Christ alone for salvation.

Second line: "But they feel entitled to act as His judge."

That all too true line reminded me of this quote by CS Lewis:

"The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.”

I think it is a terrible indictment of our nations that we speak often of how we hate "judgment" and "judgmental people" but are all too happy to judge God. If the creation is too flawed to properly judge fellow creations, how much more abhorrent must be the creation judging the Creator?

Bill Hardecker said...

Good thoughts here, Pastor B. FWIW and among many other things, atheism is an excuse for not surrendering to God's authority.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Josh and Bill. Bill, I hadn't answered your email about Baptist history texts. Write me again if I don't do that, and sorry about that.