Tag Archives: Atheism

Science, Faith, and Reason

Many people believe that there is no room for God in scientific exploration and that belief in God must be based on irrational and unsubstantiated faith. Someone recently said to me:

I have a hard time trying to reconcile your belief in God and your belief in science. The two don’t really mix. I have always been a “prove it to me” person, I know that is why you call it “Faith.”

According to Dictionary.com, science is “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” And the scientific method is “a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.”

Although there are certainly scientists who are atheists, there are many well-known scientists who are (or were in the case of those who are deceased) either theists (meaning they believe in a creator God but not necessarily the Christian God) or are Christians. Albert Einstein was a theist. Blaise Pascal was a Christians. Isaac Newton was a monotheist. A New York Times article title Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science reports:

According to a much-discussed survey reported in the journal Nature in 1997, 40 percent of biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in God – and not just a nonspecific transcendental presence but, as the survey put it, a God to whom one may pray “in expectation of receiving an answer.”

The scientific method, applied in an unbiased way, leads to discoveries about our physical and natural world. But it cannot answer the moral questions of life — why we are here, what our purpose in life is, whether a particular human action is right or wrong.

Scientists who are atheists often claim to be unbiased in their pursuit of truth. But none of us is completely unbiased. Everyone views the evidence before them in light of their own experiences and beliefs. If a person believes there is no creator God, then they will view scientific evidence through that lens or bias, and every piece of evidence will support that belief. If, on the other hand, a person believes in a creator God, then they will view scientific evidence through that lens or bias, and every piece of evidence will support that belief.

For example, scientific evidence of DNA has shown that humans have some DNA in common with other creatures. The atheist sees this as evidence that all life evolved from a single celled organism in a regular progression, even though there is no direct evidence that one species gave birth to a different species. The theist, on this other hand, sees this same DNA evidence as supporting the idea of a creator who used similar building blocks in the creation of various basic forms of life.

Science can never prove beyond all doubt the existence or non-existence of God. But science, coupled with reason and philosophical study, can reasonably lead to the conclusion that God does exist and is the creator of all things. In God: The Evidence, scientist Patrick Glynn “demonstrates that faith today is not grounded in ignorance. It is where reason has been leading us all along.”

I admit that my consideration of scientific evidence is filtered through the bias that God exists. Glynn, however, had no such initial bias. He was an atheist for many years, but the scientific evidence and reason led him to a different conclusion.

In my experience, faith and science, bounded together by reason, mix quite well.

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Filed under Book Review, Faith, Life

Are the Youth of Our Nation a Lost Generation?

Last Saturday I was getting ready to go to the farmers’ market with my friend when a song by P.O.D. called “Youth of the Nation” came on my iPod. As I listened, I knew that this song would be the basis of my Music Monday post. It’s not a happy song. In fact, it brings tears to my eyes almost every time I hear it. But it has an important message.

WARNING: This post includes discussion of some disturbing things about kids today, and the video of “Youth of the Nation” includes graphic and disturbing photographs.

It seems more and more these days the news is filled with stories of violent or suicidal kids. Just last week a 17-year-old boy in Florida bludgeoned both of his parents to death with a hammer, then locked their bodies in their bedroom (having dragged them there from the kitchen), and threw a party for a bunch of his friends. Though there hasn’t been a school shooting in the news this week, the last one wasn’t long enough ago to be called a distant memory, and there have been more such shootings in recent years than I like to think about.

Also last week, I saw the story of how the authorities had found the remains of a 13-year-old boy who had been missing for 2 years. Before that, his parents had verbally and physically abused him and forced him to spend his days in a dog cage without food or water. Although social workers had been notified that this was happening, on visits to the home they had found no problems. No one missed this little boy in all that time. Then, of course, there is the case of the murder of little Caylee Anthony that has dominated the news for weeks during the trial of her mother. Even if Casey Anthony didn’t kill Caylee, it is appalling to think that she did not even report her child missing for over 30 days.

These cases have made the news, but they are not isolated cases. They are just the stories the media has chosen to highlight. But every day there are children in our nation who are feel lost. Some are abused by their parents, siblings, or other relatives. Others are bullied and degraded by their peers and teachers. Some become so angry about their abuse that they become violent, or they are so distraught by the thought that no one cares that they become suicidal.

My son actually has a friend at school who has confided in him that he is severely depressed and often thinks of suicide. This kid says he is an atheist, and he doesn’t seem to believe that anyone loves him or cares, not even his parents. My son asking about how he is doing may be the only lifeline this kid has. I have wondered more than once of this kid is the ticking time bomb at my son’s school.

Of course, there are a lot of good, well-adjusted kids in our nation, too. My son and a lot of his friends are among them. But I have to wonder what makes the difference? And why does it seem that there are more violent and suicidal kids than there were 50 years ago? I think this is a question that we have to ask because many of our youth are on the verge of being a lost generation.

The other day I had a conversation with a dear old friend of mine (and when I say old, I mean she’s almost 90) that for me shed some light on the answers to these questions. She said that when she was a little girl, church was their life. Everyone went to church and all of their activities, such as dances and potlucks, were all church centered. Everybody loved Jesus and everyone looked out for each other.

For so many kids today, it just isn’t like that anymore. Either their parents don’t go to church, or if they do it’s just a Sunday thing. We have become a society of such self-centered people that we can’t see when a kid is lost or hurting. We don’t get to know each other and we don’t look out for each other. We certainly don’t make a big deal about loving Jesus. So many other things take precedence over a relationship with God, and even over real relationships with each other.

But I suppose such self-centeredness isn’t really new. It stems from our sinful nature, which has been around for a long time. It’s just that we’ve forgotten that the cure for our self-centeredness is to put Christ at the center of everything. Or perhaps we’ve even forgotten that self-centeredness is something that needs to be cured.

When parents let self-centeredness rule their lives, they fail to put Christ first and they fail to put their children second. They forget to tell their children that they love them and that God loves them. In such an environment, children don’t know love, and without love they cannot thrive.

So what do we do about this? Well, here is my challenge to all the Christians who read this:

  • Tell your kids that you love them every single day, not just by what you do but with words.
  • Tell your kids that God loves them, and get them involved in church youth activities that will help to nurture their souls.
  • Encourage your kids to invite their friends to church youth group activities, even if the friends aren’t Christians.
  • Pray for your youth ministers and directors. They are on the front lines and often have opportunities to minister to your kids’ friends in a way that you never would.
  • Ask your youth ministers and directors what you can do to help, and tell them you appreciate all that they do.
  • Pray for the youth of our nation, that they would find Christ and not end up a lost generation.

The youth of our nation need faith, hope, and love. Without these things, we will continue to see a rise in the violence and loss. The final verse of “Youth of the Nation” asks some hard questions:

Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim
No matter what you say It don’t take away the pain
That I feel inside, I’m tired of all the lies
Don’t nobody know why, It’s the blind leading the blind
I guess that’s the way that the story goes
Will it ever make sense? Somebody’s got to know
There’s got to be more to life than this
There’s got to be more to everything I thought exists

These are the questions many of our youth are asking as they see the violence around them. They need to know that there is more to life, that Christ came so that they could live an abundant life. They are being led by the blind. Those of us who see God’s love, who know of Christ’s sacrifice, need to show them the way. I am thankful that bands like P.O.D. do just that in their music (not all of which is depressing like this song). But we all need to step up and help a lost generation find love.

Again, the photos in this video are pretty graphic, and the song style is hard rock. I’ve posted the lyrics below the video if you don’t want to watch the images in the video.

“Youth of the Nation” by P.O.D.

Last day of the rest of my life
I wish I would’ve known
Cause I didn’t kiss my mama goodbye
I didn’t tell her that I loved her, how much I care
Or thank my pops for all the talks
And all the wisdom he shared

Unaware, I just did what I always do
Everyday, the same routine before I skate off to school
But who knew that this day wasn’t like the rest
Instead of taking a test I took two to the chest

Call me blind, but I didn’t see it coming
Everybody was running, but I couldn’t hear nothing
Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
I didn’t really know this kid though I sit by him in class

Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
Or maybe for a moment he forgot who he was
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
Whatever it was, I know it’s because

We are, We are, (we are) the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) Youth of the Nation

Little Suzy, she was only twelve
She was given the world with every chance to excel
Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell
She might act kind of proud, but no respect for herself
She finds love in all the wrong places
The same situations, Just different faces
Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
Too bad he never told her she deserved much better

Johnny boy always played the fool
He broke all the rules so you would think he was cool
He was never really one of the guys
No matter how hard he tried, Often thought of suicide
It’s kind of hard when you ain’t got no friends
He put his life to an end, They might remember him then
You cross the line and there’s no turning back
Told the world how he felt with the sound of a gat

We are, We are, (we are) the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are) Youth of the Nation

Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim
No matter what you say It don’t take away the pain
That I feel inside, I’m tired of all the lies
Don’t nobody know why, It’s the blind leading the blind
I guess that’s the way that the story goes
Will it ever make sense? Somebody’s got to know
There’s got to be more to life than this
There’s got to be more to everything I thought exists

We are, We are, the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are, we are) the Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are, we are) Youth of the Nation
We are, We are, (we are, we are) the Youth of the Nation (the Youth of the Nation)
We are, We are, (we are, we are) Youth of the Nation (Youth of the Nation)
We are, We are, (we are, we are) the Youth of the Nation (the Youth of the Nation)
We are, We are, (we are, we are) Youth of the Nation (Youth of the Nation)
We are, the Youth of the Nation
We are, Youth of the Nation
We are, the Youth of the Nation
We are

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Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Music, postaday2011, Service

Psalm 53 – Foolishness

For today’s Psalm, I’ve posted something in anticipation of my Monday post, which is already written. With the exception of the heading note, Psalm 53 is identical to Psalm 14, which tells me it’s important. God has a habit of repeating the really important stuff. I believe accepting His existence is definitely important stuff.

Psalm 53

    For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.

1 The fool says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
3 Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?

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The True Light Shines in the Darkness

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer as we move towards winter. I really don’t like winter. Too much darkness and too much cold. With the time change two weeks ago it is now dark when I go home from work. Even now at 4:00 in the afternoon, with the clouds and rain, it is looks dark and ominous outside.

Sometimes the darkness gets to me, but then I am reminded that no matter how dark it gets, there is a light to show me the way. Speaking of Jesus as well as His witness John the Baptist, the apostle John wrote:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:4-9.

Jesus is light for all to see. But just as a flashlight that is not turned on or a lamp that is hidden in a closet does not help one see, if Jesus is not believed and trusted He cannot help one see. The darkness of men and women has not, and will never, overcome the light of Christ in the hearts of believers. But today darkness still remains because some people refuse to accept the light God has provided. After saying that He had come to save the world because of God’s love for mankind, Jesus said:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21.

In the book I am reading, Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, the darkness and evil of men who have been deceived by communism and atheism is evident. The communists in Romania, Russia, China, and other countries have tried not only to avoid the light of Christ, but to crush and destroy it. They have not succeeded. They clung to the atheistic belief that there is no God, and they imprisoned, beat, and tortured those who believed God exists and that He loves us, those who live in the light. And still the light was not extinguished.

Wurmbrand writes that the communists were content to allow the old people to cling to their belief in God, but that they violently opposed teaching the Christian faith to children and teenagers. In school, children were taught the communist party line that atheism is the truth. If the Christians tried to teach them otherwise, they were punished for their “crime.” Nonetheless, “Parents were also encouraged to give a Christian education to their children as an antidote against the atheism with which they were poisoned in the communist schools.” Tortured for Christ pg. 124. And parents who loved their children heeded this encouragement, and so the light shone on.

As I read this, I thought about the teaching in our own public schools here in the U.S. My son began this year in sophomore English with a lesson on creation myths, beginning with Genesis. I suspect that any suggestion by a student that the creation story of Genesis is not a myth would be discouraged because people of other faiths or no faith at all might be offended. In biology class, a large part of the curriculum for this year is on the Theory of Evolution. I suspect that any suggestion by a student that Evolution on the macro-level (meaning humans evolved over time starting with a single-celled organism) is not true and that the Theory of Intelligent Design makes more sense would be laughed at, and any test answers to that effect would certainly not result in a good grade.

It seems to me that in our current environment, parents should be encouraged to give a good Christian education to their children as an antidote to the subtle atheism and godlessness with which they are poisoned in our public schools. As darkness sets in, we must work to keep the light burning. We cannot sit back and hope the younger generation understands that faith in Christ is grounded in reason, that the scriptures we rely on have a firm foundation for accuracy, and that God is real and loves them with a love so divine it transcends all understanding. We must teach them these truths. We must show them the light.

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The Hardest Thing

What is the hardest thing about being a Christian? Is it trying to follow the Ten Commandments? Is it going to church every week? How about tithing part of your hard-earned money to the church? Is it letting go of pride and admitting that you can’t earn your own salvation? Or maybe the hardest thing for you is just accepting that the answer could be so easy as to believe in Jesus?

For me, it’s none of these things. The hardest thing about being a Christian is caring about the salvation of unbelievers, especially those who are friends or family. I was talking to a friend about this today and she asked, “Why do you care whether others believe the same thing you do?” The answer was hard to put into words, which is probably why I started this post yesterday but couldn’t finish it. But after talking to her I realized I must finish this post because it is something every Christian who truly trusts in the saving grace of Jesus must be able to answer.

If you are an atheist, you don’t care whether anyone agrees with you. You believe that when you die, that’s the end, so it doesn’t matter what you believe.

If you are a Buddhist, you don’t care whether anyone agrees with you. You are unconcerned with whether there is a God in the Christian sense and believe that there are many paths to enlightenment and your own freedom from suffering is your primary goal.

If you are a Unitarian Universalist, you don’t mind that your family or friends believe something different from you do because you believe that all paths lead to God. Each person’s journey is unique and God will allow everyone who tries to be good into heaven.

If you are a Hindu, Pagan, or New Age you aren’t concerned about whether others believe as you do in this life. Because you believe in reincarnation there will always be another life and another opportunity to learn whatever lessons you don’t learn in this life. You also believe that there are many gods, do not put your trust in only one God, and do not expect others to necessarily trust in the same god or gods as you do.

But if you are Christian, you believe Jesus was telling the truth when He said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. You believe that when each and every person dies they will face judgment before the One True God. In that judgment, if they are judged righteous because they have accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then they will go to heaven; but if they have chosen to earn their own way to heaven or find their own way to enlightenment, they will be judged unrighteous and will not enter into the presence of God in heaven.

So what is the answer to my friend’s question “Why do you care?” I care because if I am right, and my friends and family have not accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then my eternal life will be spent without them. I will be in the presence of my Lord and Savior as well as my fellow believers, but there will be people whom I love dearly missing.

Imagine you threw a big celebration and invited all of your family and friends. You invite them because you care whether they come and you will miss them if they do not attend. I believe heaven will be the celebration of a lifetime grander than any celebration we could ever conceive of in our limited human imaginations. I want all of my family and friends to be there.

There are days I wish I didn’t care. Quite frankly, today is one of those days. My heart aches from spending time with some unbelieving friends this weekend and reading Facebook posts by unbelieving family. If I didn’t care, then that ache would go away. But I do care, and it is the hardest thing for me to bear.

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Full Assurance

I have been thinking a lot lately about the power of the Holy Spirit. Before His death, Jesus promised His disciples, and all believers who have come after them, that He would send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. John 15:26. Later, after the resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus told the believers to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Acts 1:8. In Galatians, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit, the power the Spirit gives us to exhibit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

But last night I came across a passage that exemplifies my favorite gift of the Spirit. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.  For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (NLT).

The Holy Spirit gives me, and all believers, “full assurance” that the Gospel of Christ is real and has the power to save us. Imagine that – “full assurance!”

I was reading an older post by a fellow blogger the other day about atheism and how the devout atheist Richard Dawkins has said that faith is believing without reason and evidence. Her response, which I loved, was that it wasn’t that Christians had faith without evidence, but that the evidence was something Richard Dawkins couldn’t see. She said, “For the Christian, however, faith is believing something will be in the future what it has been in the past based on its unwavering consistency.” It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to see, evaluate, and understand the evidence of God’s unwavering consistency throughout the Old and New Testaments.

God was, is, and always will be a God of love and mercy, of justice and holiness. He has consistently tried to woo His creation back into a relationship with Him. By indwelling us with His wonderful Holy Spirit, He has succeeded in doing so in the hearts of all believers, giving us full assurance of His grace.

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