Tag Archives: Atheist

Can atheists ground objective moral values and duties, just like theists?

Consider this article from Thinking Matters in New Zealand.

Excerpt:

There is an objection to the moral argument for God’s existence, specifically the premise which states the best explanation for the foundation for objective moral values and duties is God. It is the idea that moral values and duties can be plausibly anchored in some transcendent, non-theistic ground. That moral values and duties exist objectively, but as brute facts, not needing an explanation for their existence. They are sort of eternal unchanging ideas that are necessary features of the universe. This position we shall call Atheistic Moral Platonism, and there are three ways we could respond.

Click here for the three ways to respond.

I actually used to hold to Deistic Platonism before I became a Christian, and that’s all documented in my testimony. To learn more about this topic, here is my series on how morality cannot be rationally grounded by atheism, and the series includes links to lectures and debates for further study. The relationship between a cosmic designer and objective moral values and duties is the easiest topic in the world to discuss with non-Christians. It takes only a little preparation, compared to more difficult issues like scientific evidence and the historicity of the resurrection.

Canadian Evangelicals and Catholics more opposed to secularism and socialism

The Hill Times reports. (H/T Joanne from Blue Like You)

Excerpt:

According to the recently-released EFC study, “Canadian Evangelical Voting Trends by Region, 1996-2008,” which uses a series of electoral polls by Ipsos Reid and Angus Reid Strategies, in 1996 the Evangelical support for the Liberals was 35 per cent and it has been rapidly going down to 11 per cent in the last election, as the Conservative vote rose. The Conservatives’ support from evangelical Christians peaked in 2006, with 60 per cent of the Evangelical vote and then dropped to 48 per cent in 2008. The NDP vote in 2008 was at 16 per cent among evangelicals.

Evangelicals make up about 12 per cent of Canada’s population, or four million people distributed throughout Canada and to a lesser degree in Quebec.

[…]”There are two things that are fairly important for evangelicals, as they are important to Canadians who engage in the political system. The first thing is that there’s space created for engagement; so we have identified in the paper some of the incidents where it appeared that the Liberal Party was closing down the opportunity for evangelicals to engage on equal footing with non-evangelicals in the party and we’ve also identified where the Conservative Party had opened some place for evangelicals to engage on an equal footing,” said Don Hutchinson, EFC vice-president and co-author of the report.

[…]According to this research, Catholic support for the Liberal Party has dropped 24 points since 2000. In 2006 they were as likely to vote Conservative as Liberal and by the 2008 election, they showed preference for the Conservative Party.

Joanne (who calls the Liberal leader “Iffy”) adds:

The question is less why it happened – because that is obvious, but rather why do the Liberals even bother?

Being religious usually involves having a moral compass and a set of strong values. It also means showing respect for other folks’ spiritual views.

Clearly Iffy is hardly the poster boy of unwavering commitment and sticking to principles and decisions. Furthermore, his strategists have have often shown contempt for people of faith and great delight in stirring up pseudo-scandals like Wafergate.

In other words, they are unable to walk the talk.

Michael Ignatieff appears to be an atheist. His Liberal party is anti-Christian, anti-marriage, anti-family, anti-liberty and anti-prosperity. I am surprised that anyone could vote for the Liberals, or worse, the New Democrats or the Bloc Quebecois. The left in Canada is hostile to publicly-expressed authentic Christianity across the board. The left is happy to violate the rights of authentic Christians in Canada.

Related posts

What caused Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to abandon his Christian faith?

Here is an interview with Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”, and other anti-Christian books.

Excerpt:

Interviewer:
Are you religious?

Dan Brown:
I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, “I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and Earth and the animals in seven days. Which is right?” Unfortunately, the response I got was, “Nice boys don’t ask that question.” A light went off, and I said, “The Bible doesn’t make sense. Science makes much more sense to me.” And I just gravitated away from religion.

This experience is common in the workplace and in the university.

Cold case homicide detective Jim Wallace writes:

It’s both sad and frustrating that the minister in Dan Brown’s story was unable to provide a defense for the Christian view of origins. Good, critical questions should be seen as an important part of the Christian faith, but too many of us fail to see our faith as evidential. It’s so important for us to be prepared with a response for questions like those asked by Brown as a child. The Christian worldview offers insightful and power answers to questions related to cosmology, teleology and the Big Bang. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened with Brown had the minister simply been prepared.

My personal view is that even those who believe strongly in young earth creationism should be diligent to also teach their children the arguments for a Creator and Designer from mainstream, old-earth science. Mainstream science points strongly to a Creator and Designer of the universe and is compatible with a respectful interpretation of Genesis.

Here are 6 arguments that every young earth creationist should be able to defend.

  1. The Big Bang
  2. The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the Big Bang
  3. The fine-tuning needed to provide a habitable galaxy, solar system and planet
  4. The origin of biological information in the simplest living cell
  5. The sudden origin of the major body plans (phyla) in the Cambrian Explosion
  6. The limits of mutation and selection to build up specified complexity

You can read more about these mainstream scientific arguments here. If all your experience learning science apologetics comes from young earth teachers, then you probably will get a huge boost in your effectiveness in the public square by learning these arguments from mainstream science.

I am sympathetic with responsible, well-educated young earth scholars like Dr. Marcus Ross and Dr. Paul Nelson. These scholars acknowledge the real state of the evidence, but are holding out for emerging research that may vindicate their YEC views. They are good scholars, with real degrees, and they are prominent members of the intelligent design movement, which welcomes responsible young earth scholars.

On the other hand, I do not recommend the young earth popularizers like Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. Their material is not good preparation for outward-focused engagement about scientific issues. Christian apologetics today is saturated with old-earth arguments, yet virtually no Christian apologist believes in macro-evolution. Old-earth Christians debate against evolution in public all the time. In fact, they lead the fight against evolution.

Young-earth creationism is strictly targeted to Christians

I just glanced at the ICR web site and ALL THREE of their upcoming conferences are being held in CHURCHES. The Answers in Genesis Conference is being held in a church. Ken Ham’s speaking engagements are all in churches. There are no debates with scientists going on at any of these events! Young-earth creationism is strictly for homeschooling and church. It’s not field-tested for use on the battlefield!

Meanwhile, old-earthers like William Lane Craig are debating against evolution at Indiana University against the top evolutionist in the USA, Francisco Ayala. And he debated prominent New Atheist Christopher Hitchens in front of 5000 people earlier this year at Biola University, too. So you must make your choice from this information about what arguments are useful in the real world. What works in public.

Watch a debate, then decide for yourself

All young earth creationists should watch the debate between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross below. Kent Hovind has a PhD from a Patriot Bible College in Religious Education. Hugh Ross has a BS in Physics from the University of British Columbia, a MS in Physics and a PhD in Astronomy, both from the University of Toronto, one of the top universities in Canada. He did post-doctoral work at Caltech, the top graduate school for science in the world.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12
Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16

Watch the debate, then decide for yourself!

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Christian woman murdered by atheistic communist for distributing Bible

The Associated Press reports on a horrifying story from North Korea. (H/T 4Simpsons, Muddling Towards Maturity)

Excerpt:

A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said Friday.

The 33-year-old mother of three, Ri Hyon Ok, also was accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, a rights group said in Seoul, citing documents obtained from the North.

The Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity report included a copy of Ri’s government-issued photo ID and said her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison the day after her June 16 execution.

A woman’s human rights are violated by a left-wing communist dictator. Where is the outcry from the secular left? Where is the Hollywood elite? Where is the ACLU? Is she not the right kind of victim?

Is there a difference between the atheist Kim Jong Il and other atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens? Is the murder of this woman wrong, on atheism? Why is it wrong? Why is it rational to not murder innocent people, on atheism?

I wrote an entire series of posts on the problem of grounding morality rationally on atheism here.

New Scientist: the force of gravity is fine-tuned to permit life

The article from the New Scientist is here. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The feebleness of gravity is something we should be grateful for. If it were a tiny bit stronger, none of us would be here to scoff at its puny nature.

The moment of the universe‘s birth created both matter and an expanding space-time in which this matter could exist. While gravity pulled the matter together, the expansion of space drew particles of matter apart – and the further apart they drifted, the weaker their mutual attraction became.

It turns out that the struggle between these two was balanced on a knife-edge. If the expansion of space had overwhelmed the pull of gravity in the newborn universe, stars, galaxies and humans would never have been able to form. If, on the other hand, gravity had been much stronger, stars and galaxies might have formed, but they would have quickly collapsed in on themselves and each other. What’s more, the gravitational distortion of space-time would have folded up the universe in a big crunch. Our cosmic history could have been over by now.

Only the middle ground, where the expansion and the gravitational strength balance to within 1 part in 1015 at 1 second after the big bang, allows life to form.

I know you guys look at my big list of objective evidence for Christianity, and you think “Wintery! Those evidences are not admitted by the majority of scientists!” I keep trying to tell you – my goal is to give you arguments and evidence that will work in the public square. These are mainstream evidences accepted by most or all non-Christian scientists as fact, and they used in public academic debates.

When I tell you about evidences from the big bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, etc., I am telling you evidence that should compel anyone to deny atheism, so long as they are not irrational and emotional. These are not Christian tricks. They do not address felt needs. They are not there to help you to be happy. They are not optional, depending on how you feel about them.

But there is another way to recommend Christianity to people, which is not rationally compelling, but instead relies on intuitions and experiences.

A different approach to apologetics

Some people offer Christian doctrines to others as a way of interpreting the human condition, etc. And it’s true that the Bible gives you an accurate description of your own inner life, and your rebellious attitude towards God. So these well-meaning Christians try to “persuade” non-Christians to consider whether the words of the Bible “ring true” with their intuitions and experiences.

Consider this quote from G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”:

And now we come to the crucial question which truly concludes the whole matter.  A reasonable agnostic, if he has happened to agree with me so far, may justly turn round and say, “You have found a practical philosophy in the doctrine of the Fall; very well…. If you see clearly the kernel of common-sense in the nut of Christian orthodoxy,why cannot you simply take the kernel and leave the nut? Why cannot you (to use that cant phrase of the newspapers which I, as a highly scholarly agnostic, am a little ashamed of using) why cannot you simply take what is good in Christianity, what you can define as valuable, what you can comprehend, and leave all the rest, all the absolute dogmas that are in their nature incomprehensible?” This is the real question; this is the last question; and it is a pleasure to try to answer it.

The first answer is simply to say that I am a rationalist. I like to have some intellectual justification for my intuitions. If I am treating man as a fallen being it is an intellectual convenience to me to believe that he fell; and I find, for some odd psychological reason, that I can deal better with a man’s exercise of freewill if I believe that he has got it.  But I am in this matter yet more definitely a rationalist.  I do not propose to turn this book into one of ordinary Christian apologetics; I should be glad to meet at any other time the enemies of Christianity in that more obvious arena.  Here I am only giving an account of my own growth in spiritual certainty.  But I may pause to remark that the more I saw of the merely abstract arguments against the Christian cosmology the less I thought of them.  I mean that having found the moral atmosphere of the Incarnation to be common sense, I then looked at the established intellectual arguments against the Incarnation and found them to be common nonsense.  In case the argument should be thought to suffer from the absence of the ordinary apologetic I will here very briefly summarise my own arguments and conclusions on the purely objective or scientific truth of the matter.

If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, “For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.”  I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence.  But the evidence in my case, as in that of the intelligent agnostic, is not really in this or that alleged demonstration; it is in an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.  The secularist is not to be blamed because his objections to Christianity are miscellaneous and even scrappy; it is precisely such scrappy evidence that does convince the mind. I mean that a man may well be less convinced of a philosophy from four books, than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend.  The very fact that the things are of different kinds increases the importance of the fact that they all point to one conclusion.  Now, the non-Christianity of the average educated man to-day is almost always, to do him justice, made up of these loose but living experiences.  I can only say that my evidences for Christianity are of the same vivid but varied kind as his evidences against it.  For when I look at these various anti-Christian truths, I simply discover that none of them are true. I discover that the true tide and force of all the facts flows the other way.

The problem with Chesterton’s view is that it is not rationally compelling. It is apprehended in a subjective way, depending on whether the person likes it or not. This pragmatic approach is popular today because people want to have their felt needs met. But this approach doesn’t allow you to demonstrate the truth of Christianity in the public square, using objective evidence, as Chesterton admits.

This rejection of objective apologetics has marginalized Christianity as subjective. I think we need to emphasize hard evidence. We need to have studied science, analytical philosophy, New Testament and history. We need to offer evidence that is objective, not subjective, like the fine-tuning of the gravitational force, so that our opponents are clear that Christianity is objectively true.

I think that Chesterton is a bad example for Christians to follow. In the Bible, I see Jesus constantly providing physical evidence for this claims by employing  miracles. We can do something similar to Jesus today, by leveraging past miracles, such as the fine-tuning of the gravitational force, in our public debates. We don’t need to invent new ways of evangelizing based on intuitions and experiences.

Further study

You can read more about the fine-tuning of the gravitational force from Robin Collins, who is the best we have on the topic. Collins started a Ph.D in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin, but ended up completing a Ph.D in philosophy at Notre Dame, under Alvin Plantinga, the greatest living philosopher today, in my opinion. I heard Collins speak at the Baylor ID conference in 2000.

Here is a textbook on physics and philosophy for high-schoolers written by David Snoke, a professor of Physics at University of Pittsburgh. He homeschools his own 4 children with this very book. The book contains Bible study and philosophy sections.