Monday, October 11, 2010

Debunking Christianity: God as an Explanation vs. a God Who Acts in the World

It's amazing to me. John Loftus keeps making arguments that I can't believe that anyone finds moving. Take this blog post for example. I'm going to comment after each paragraph to explain why I think it doesn't make sense.
This is a distinction that makes a difference. It also makes a great deal of sense. Believers think that if their concept of God can explain the cosmos then automatically ipso facto they have arrived at the God they believe in, who acted in the world. Nope. Not by a long shot. For a god might explain the cosmos and yet not be Yahweh. And even if Yahweh is that god, he might not have raised Jesus from the dead. And even if Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead, he might not be the classical theistic God of Anselm.
Wonders of Wonders. I think Loftus makes a valid point. Many proofs of God don't go far enough to show that the God that created everything is in fact the God of the Bible. That is why the second part is so important. If such a God has not intervened in history or has acted in the world than it can't be the God of the Bible. The Bible affirms that the God who gave us his word has acted in the world many times and in many ways and continues to do so. But it's more than that. The Bible tells us that it is only by God's continued will that the universe holds together. IF that is not acting in the universe then what is? Look at what the Bible says

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.  Hebrews 1:1-3

Skeptics do not think believers have shown that a God explanation is needed for the cosmos. We think it is an unnecessary hypothesis at best. So we need to see a God who acts in the world. We want evidence that he does. We want to see it. We want to see him do something verifiable, anything.
John Loftus is an apostate. I would say that all apostates have in common the belief that God has not acted in their lives. I would take issue with that because on the most fundamental level we exist because God has acted. But I will agree that they have not seen or understood that God has acted in their lives. No one can be saved or believe unless they have seen God act in the lives. God has to literally get in your face and get your attention or you will not ever believe. You can't do it on your own when ever you get ready. At the time, anyone who is reading this, or has ever had the gospel proclaimed to them has been given the opportunity. God has intervened in your life so that you can here the Gospel. The Gospel is that Jesus died for sinners and if you put your faith in Him you will be saved from the ultimate and conscious torment of being separated from God forever. You can find your ultimate purpose - the one that God has designed for you. If you don't see that it's because you haven't seen that God has intervened your life yet. The Bible tells us:

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
 "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."- Acts 17:24-31

Christians will retort that their God did act by raising Jesus from the dead. But that was so long ago, in a superstitious pre-scientific era of the past. There is no way such an event can be verified with the historical tools available to us, as I wrote about here. Even if God did act in the historical past there is no way we can know that he did.
You can outright know it when God intervenes in your own life. You can also know God intervenes because we know that there are fulfilled prophecies in the scripture. We see many of them being fulfilled today. How did the the scripture writers know? Simple, God told them what He was going to do...not just what would happen.
In any case, why doesn't God act now in any objective verifiable manner? I don't even have to say in advance what it would take for me to believe. God should already know. But he just doesn't do it. He supposedly knew what it took to convince Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Mary the mother of Jesus, John the Baptist's father, doubting Thomas, and Saul on the Damascus Road. He acted on their behalf. Doing so apparently did not abrogate their freedom. So why doesn't he act today?
God does know what it would take. And I believe that He has given you all the evidence you need but people have rejected that evidence. God does act today. I know know because I have seen Him intervene in my life and the lives of others.
The best explanation is that God is a figment of the imagination. He doesn't act because he doesn't exist. He is no different in this respect then the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Christians bristle at these comparisons, I know. But given that God is not a good explanation of the cosmos they are apt and well-deserved ones.
The comparisons don't work because Christians know that God has acted in the world and continues to act in the lives of everyone whether you understand or perceive it. What has the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn done for you lately? ME? Nothing. However Jesus died for my sins, was raised to life for my justification. He healed my body. Protects my family from all kinds of dangers - seen and unseen. When something bad does happen - he makes it turn out for my good. Gave me wonderful parents and family. Gave me beautiful children. Given me an education and a job I would do for free. He made a universe with more things to keep me studying and learning than I can absorb in a lifetime. He is the one who have been with me no matter what and no matter what happens. Jesus is my Savior. Without him Life doesn't and can't make sense. He has done so much for me that there is no way I can recount it all. "Well deserved"? Yes, Jesus deserves our Love and Worship.

Debunking Christianity: God as an Explanation vs. a God Who Acts in the World
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