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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Dawkins’

The BioLogos Forum has posted these articles by Dr. Timothy Keller, discussing the relationship between science and faith. You can find links to the original article at the top of each section. In writing this post, I want to highlight for myself, in particular, the order in which he addresses each topic. With so much to ask and say about this debate, how does one go about it systematically? What is most important? What should be a priority in the dialogue?

All of the ideas listed below are my paraphrases of Keller’s thoughts, summing up his ideas. My own ideas are in green.

Part 1 – Overview of the tension – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

What’s the Problem?

In this debate, so many voices say evolution and Scripture are irreconcilable. Richard Dawkins (atheist) says evolution means God is not in charge of creation. Ken Ham (Christian, Young-Earth Creationist) says evolution goes directly against a clear reading of Scripture.

Some aren’t so sure that they are irreconcilable. Peter van Inwagen (Christian philosopher) says that even if belief in God was a product of evolution, it still would not take away the reality of God Himself. In fact, it would be an ingenious way for God to install a universal search for Him in all of humanity. Science cannot prove or disprove Him.

Pastors and People

There are four main difficulties presented by evolution for orthodox Protestants.

1. Biblical authority – By accepting evolution, aren’t we letting science affect our understanding of Scripture instead of vice versa?

2. Confusion of biology and philosophy – Doesn’t believing evolution lead to a “Grand Theory of Everything” that answers life’s great “why” questions?

3. Historicity of Adam and Eve – As Christians believing evolution, don’t we have to believe Adam and Eve and the fall are merely symbolic? What about Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15?

4. Problem of evil – If death and suffering were in the world before the fall, as evolution has it, how do we reconcile this with Scripture (Genesis 3) and the idea of a good God who created a good world that human beings messed up?

Part 2 – Difficulty #1 – Biblical authority – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Question: If God used evolution, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t, then how can we take any of the Bible literally? It undermines the Bible’s authority.

Answer: To respect the authority of the Bible writers, take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally; sometimes they don’t. Listen to them; don’t impose our thinking and agenda on them.

Genre and authorial intent

Just because one part of the Bible is taken literally doesn’t mean all parts are. Ask whether the author wants to be taken literally or not. Judges 5 is Hebrew poetry of Judges 4’s historical prose narrative. Luke 1.1 makes it clear that Luke wants his account to be taken literally. Accounts like Genesis 1 and Ecclesiastes aren’t clear – there will always be debate about them.

Genre and Genesis 1

What genre is Genesis 1? Edward Young (Hebrew expert, six literal days interpretation) admits Genesis 1 has “exalted semi-poetical language” but it’s not straight poetry. There is no parallelism, like Exodus 15.

C. John Collins (analogous days interpretation) says the genre of Genesis 1 is “exalted prose narrative.” By calling it prose narrative, we acknowledge it’s making truth claims about the world in which we live. By calling it exalted, we recognize not to impose a literalistic hermeneutic on it.

In Keller’s view, the strongest argument that the author doesn’t intend a literalistic interpretation is the lack of natural order in the creative acts of Genesis 1 and 2. There is light before the sources of light are created. There is vegetation before there is atmosphere and before rain. Genesis 2.5 implies that God followed a natural order. There were no plants because God had not caused it to rain…. Genesis 1.11 also implies that God used a natural order in His creation. “Let the earth sprout vegetation…”

Keller thinks Genesis 2 can be read literally, but not Genesis 1. Thus, Genesis 1 does not teach a six 24-hour day creation. Maybe Genesis 1 is to Genesis 2 as Judges 5 is to Judges 4.

Part 3 – Difficulty #2 – Confusion of biology and philosophy – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Question: If biological evolution is true, does that mean we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?

Answer: No, belief in evolution as a biological process is not the same as belief in evolution as a worldview.

The New Atheists insist that naturalism automatically flows from belief in biological evolution. Because of this, many Christians don’t know how to differentiate between evolutionary biological processes (EBP) and the Grand Theory of Everything (GTE). They likely hold on tightly to Young-Earth Creationism because of this.

Christians who believe in EBP as an account of origins ought to teach or explain how this differs from GTE and come together with other Christians to fight it. If you argue for EBP, you must bring up and put great emphasis on arguing against GTE. See David Atkinson’s quote in the original article.

Part 4 – Difficulty #3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Many say we should read Genesis 2 – 11 in light of other creation myths of the ancient Near East, that the biblical authors were “men of their time,” sharing ideas with other cultures. If we did this, we would read these chapters as holding general truth principles, but not as describing actual historical events.

Many ancient writers used symbolic/figurative language. Psalm 139.13: God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” – definitely figurative. Genesis 2.7: God “formed Adam from the dust of the ground” – likely figurative (compare Job 10.8-9).

Kenneth Kitchen (Christian Egyptologist) says Near Eastern societies didn’t “historicize” myths, but rather “mythologized” history. “They celebrated actual historical events and people in mythological terms.” We can conclude that Genesis 2 – 11 are “high” accounts of actual events.

Paul the apostle thought Adam and Eve and the Fall were historical. When you refuse to take him literally when he clearly wants you to, you have “moved away from the traditional understanding of Biblical authority.”

Part 5 – Difficulty #3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Some think you can believe that Adam and Eve were symbolic, along with the Fall, of some original group of human beings. Keller thinks this is too simplistic. (I agree. Consider the above points.)

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul makes the point that, as Christians, we are in a covenant relationship with Christ. We get credit for what He did. This is what Paul means when he says we are “in Christ.” In the same sentence, (v. 22) he says we are similarly “in Adam.” Adam was a “covenantal” representative for the whole human race; what he did (in history) is laid to our account.

If you don’t believe what Paul believes about Adam, that he and his actions were historical, then you deny the core of Paul’s teaching. Paul’s whole argument, that both sin and grace work “covenantally,” falls apart.

This traditional view of the historicity of Adam, Eve, and the Fall, is foundational to the doctrine of original sin (including, I would say, total depravity) and equal sinfulness of the entire human race.

Part 6 – Difficulty # 3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

This is Derek Kidner’s model of how Adam and Even can fit into an evolutionary origins account of humanity.

Job 10.8-9 makes Genesis 2.7 likely that Adam is also a product of EBP. God breathed into him the spirit of life, endowing him with the image of God. Eve was created special from Adam, followed by God breathing life into all of Adam’s collaterals (the other human beings on the planet at the time.)

Adam would still be seen as the “head” of all of these other people, and they would inherit original sin along with the rest of us (through solidarity, the “oneness” of the covenant relationship, not heredity). These people would answer the questions of Cain’s wife and the city he builds in Genesis 4, along with Genesis 2.20 and Adam’s search for a wife.

There are several factors that imply the world was not perfectly good before the Fall. The darkness and chaos of Genesis 1.2, Satan’s presence in the garden, the need for humans to work (Gen 1.28) and eat (Gen 2.9) meant that the original creation was not perfect. When Romans 8 says that nature groans under the weight of corruption, it would mean that it is disintegrating as a result of humans not being good stewards (because of their hate for God.) The Fall primarily brought spiritual death to human beings.

Still, perhaps Adam and Eve were given conditional immortality as a foretaste of heaven.

There are many other models of how Adam and Eve could fit into the evolutionary account of origins. Keller’s main argument is that he wants us to be “bigger tents” than the anti-scientific religious community and the anti-religious scientific community. He argues that belief in a historical Adam and Eve is extremely important, but that there are several ways to hold this view while also holding a belief in evolutionary biological processes.

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Introduction

Richard Dawkins (2006), in The God Delusion, makes the claim that “God almost certainly does not exist” (p. 189). He argues that we have enough scientific and philosophical understanding to reject belief in God, that it is a delusion. We can be “happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled” atheists (p. 23). He writes this book in the hope that religious folk who pick it up “will be atheists when they put it down” (p. 28). In addition to deeming religion a delusion, he also suggests that it is the cause of many problems in the world and that we should strive to educate ourselves out of it. I write this review to analyze Dawkins’ arguments from a Christian perspective.

Dawkins makes the point that religion has traditionally carried out four roles for humanity: explanation, exhortation, consolation, and inspiration (p. 389). Most of Dawkins’ book deals with explanation (how we and our universe have come to exist) and exhortation (how we ought to behave.)  My review responds to his arguments involving our explanation, as it most interests me and is what I am most knowledgeable about. Although I have objections to Dawkins’ other points, such as that the Bible is not a reliable document, that evolution explains our thirst for God and our sense of morality, I will not address them here.

Explanation: How we and our universe have come to exist

Biological life looks designed. Giraffes have long necks to reach food in the treetops. Monkeys have opposable thumbs to grip tree branches. Bats send out ultrasound signals to locate their prey in absolute darkness. Historically, this apparent design in nature was an argument for God’s existence. If something looks designed, it must have a designer. William Paley was one of the main proponents of this natural theology (Giberson, 2008, p. 22).  The leading scientists of his day, Charles Darwin among them, were influenced by this idea.

Since science offered no explanation of how all of the plants and animals of the Earth had come to exist, most leading scientists were believers in God who designed them. Darwin himself had a belief in God and saw the world through the lens of natural theology (p. 22).

Likewise, the universe looks designed and fine-tuned to allow life to exist. It had a beginning about 13.7 billion years ago, say cosmologists, in an event called the Big Bang. The rate of expansion of the universe allowed galaxies to form (too fast and they wouldn’t have, too slow and the universe would have collapsed in on itself). Gravity is of the ideal strength to allow stars to form and maintain long enough lives to let life develop on orbiting planets. The Earth is in a “Goldilocks” zone, a perfect distance from the sun, not too far away nor too close for life to exist. These qualities, and others like them, lead to the idea that the universe is designed for life. And if it is designed, it must have a designer: God.

Dawkins’ view

(1) Evolution makes God unnecessary as the Creator of animal and plant species. Dawkins argues that the theory of evolution explains the diversity and complexity of life so well that God’s role as Creator is diminished. Slow, gradual degrees of change from simple organisms to complex ones, evolving to adapt to environments, produce creatures that look designed. This natural selection is “an ingenious and powerful crane” that explains the diversity and complexity of life better than the God hypothesis (p. 188). We don’t need a supernatural explanation, because we have a natural explanation.

(2) God is too complex to be a good cause of the universe. As we study the history of life on our planet, we see animals evolve from simple beings to complex beings. Life-forms with a few, basic parts evolve into life-forms with many, intricate parts. Likewise, a universe with basic beginnings of particles and forces has organized itself into a universe of galaxy clusters, binary star systems, and planets hospitable to life. Everything that we see has a cause, and the cause is simple.

Therefore, says Dawkins, when we move back to the beginning of the universe, we should expect to find a simple explanation for it. God is not this explanation, he says, because God is complex. To look at the design of the universe and say that there must be a God who started it creates a bigger problem than it solves. God is a super-intelligent mind able to invent worlds, breathe life into matter, listen to millions of prayers simultaneously, etc. That is a complex being. Complex beings require an explanation. But who designed God? Where did He come from? The existence of such a complex, supernatural being is more improbable than the universe He attempts to explain, says Dawkins (p. 138).

(3) There are probably natural explanations of the origin of life and of the universe. Dawkins thinks it more likely that there is a natural explanation for the cause of the life, rather than a complex, supernatural one. Although it has not been discovered yet, a chemical process of life-forms materializing out of the contents of a primordial soup is certainly plausible. It would be a rare occurrence, but consider the vastness of the universe. There are so many planets. A billion billion is Dawkins’ conservative estimate, that is 1 with 18 zeroes after it. Even if one in a billion planets had the right properties to initiate life, that would still leave us with one billion hospitable planets. Out of these one billion with the right conditions, it’s not so inconceivable that life actually forms and sustains itself on at least one or two of them (p. 165). In fact, we know it’s conceivable, because, here we are!

Likewise, our life-friendly universe is not so unbelievable when looking at it from this perspective of probabilities (deemed the “Anthropic Principle”). Dawkins likes Martin Rees’ suggestion that our universe is one of many inside a sort of multiverse, “co-existing like bubbles of foam” (p. 173). Out of an enormously vast number of universes, each with its own set of natural laws, it is not so unlikely that one or two would end up with laws that are favorable to life. In fact, we know it’s likely because we are in one.

The multiverse would be simple. It would be huge, yes. But it would only be governed by the four natural laws that our own universe is governed by. This is a more plausible explanation and is easier to believe in than a complex God (p. 189).

My view

(1) Evolution does not make God unnecessary as the Creator of animal and plant species. God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe. He started it and He keeps it going. Our existence and that of the universe is radically dependent upon Him. “[All of reality] is in existence only so long as God creates and sustains it…. Were He to withdraw His creative power, the universe would be annihilated in the blink of an eye.” (Craig, 2010). God, however, is the only completely independent being in the universe. His existence depends on no one and nothing. He is self-existent (Craig, 2010).

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25, English Standard Version).

Even if we have laws of physics and scientific explanations for natural phenomena, it is God who determined them from the beginning. He controls everything that goes on inside the universe. Sometimes He uses supernatural intervention to defy the laws of nature, what we would call miracles: raising the dead, healing the blind, etc.

Most of the time He controls it without intervening. In this sense, God is in and behind everything that goes on, but it looks completely natural. Natural events occur because He intends them to: either He wants them to happen or He permits them to happen. Their existence is radically dependent on God’s sustaining power.

So when human scientists discover natural explanations for things, they are discovering how God has set up the universe to function. They are watching God do His work. The implication of this is that every natural phenomenon will have a natural cause, but it is a cause that God began and upholds. The fact that there is a natural explanation does not deny God’s role.

John Walton (2009), an Old Testament scholar at Wheaton College, puts it nicely when it comes to the relationship between the natural and supernatural. He says “I can affirm with the psalmist that God ‘knit me together in my mother’s womb’ without denying the premises of embryology” (p. 140).

Now, back to evolution. The theory of evolution offers a natural explanation for the diversity and complexity of plant and animal species. Dawkins would say that since we have this natural explanation, we don’t need God as an explanation anymore. This view misunderstands God’s role.

God works in and behind the evolution of species throughout time. He intended for a variety of plants and animals to come into being, and they did (Genesis 1:11-12; 20-21; 24-27). Thus, God is a necessary explanation of the origin of animal and plant species. The theory of evolution is a human attempt to explain how God carried it out.

(2) God’s nature makes Him a good explanation as the cause of the universe. Dawkins says that if God created the universe, then we’re left with the problem of God’s origin. Who designed Him? Where did He come from? However, these questions misunderstand God’s nature.

If He created the universe, that is, space, matter, and time, then He must exist outside of it. Therefore, He is timeless, immaterial, and without spatial dimension. His timelessness is what we mean when we say He is eternal. And if He exists outside of time, then the law of cause and effect is not applicable to Him, as it is a physical law, implying change and the passage of time. He does not change. Therefore, theologians are right to say that God is uncaused and does not need an explanation of origin. He always has been, is, and will be.

God, being God, must exist. If we imagine a god who began existing at a certain point, then we are imagining something that, by definition, is not God. Wayne Grudem (1994) affirms this, saying, “All else can pass away in an instant; [God] necessarily exists forever” (p. 162).

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).

Dawkins is also mistaken to assume that just because God can bring forth complex creatures and think profound thoughts, He must be complex in Himself. He repeatedly brings up his fascination in a God who would be able to listen to millions of prayers simultaneously, which supposedly demonstrates His complexity. However, theologians note that, while God has many attributes, they are all unified into one, whole being. God is not composed of parts. If God were a material being, inside of space and time, He would need to be physically and mentally complex indeed, to be able to genuinely listen to and answer each prayer. As He is, all-knowing and powerful, immaterial and timeless, this does not take any effort for Him. Grudem agrees, “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act” (190).

“For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:1-2).

God’s other attributes, His will, His omnipotence, and His self-sufficiency, easily account for the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and, ultimately, the origin of our species.

(3) Natural explanations of the origin of life and of the universe will still depend on God. That brings us back to Dawkins’ subscription to the multiverse theory and the Anthropic Principle to explain the origin of life on Earth. Dawkins’ use of the theory lets him reject God’s role. We can trust the numbers of the probabilities, he says, which give us confidence in a natural explanation, which we should strive to discover. And if there is a natural explanation, then there is no supernatural explanation. Yet, reminiscent of my point in #1, even if there is a natural explanation, it occurs because God determines and upholds it.

In conclusion, I have argued that God is the primary explanation for the existence of the universe and everything in it. When we adopt scientific explanations to natural phenomena, we merely attempt to explain how God has set up the universe to function. Scientific truth is God’s truth. When we understand science rightly, there will be “no final conflict” between science and Scripture (Schaeffer, as cited in Grudem, p. 275).

“If God is the Creator of all the universe, if God had a specific plan for the arrival of humankind on the scene, and if He had a desire for personal fellowship with humans, into whom He had instilled the Moral Law as a signpost toward Himself, then He can hardly be threatened by the efforts of our puny minds to understand the grandeur of His creation” (Collins, 2006, p. 230).

“We should not fear to investigate scientifically the facts of the created world but should do so eagerly and with complete honesty, confident that when facts are rightly understood, they will always turn out to be consistent with God’s inerrant words in Scripture. Similarly, we should approach the study of Scripture eagerly and with confidence that, when rightly understood, Scripture will never contradict facts in the natural world” (Grudem, p. 275).

“We must not, then, as Christians, assume an attitude of antagonism toward the truths of reason, or the truths of philosophy, or the truths of science, or the truths of history, or the truths of criticism. As children of the light, we must be careful to keep ourselves open to every ray of light. Let us, then, cultivate an attitude of courage as over against the investigations of the day. None should be more zealous in them than we. None should be more quick to discern truth in every field, more hospitable to receive it, more loyal to follow it, whithersoever it leads” (Warfield, as cited in Collins, 2006).

References

Collins, Francis S. (2006). The Language of God. New York: Free Press

Craig, William Lane. (2010, March 10). Doctrine of God [#2]. Defenders Podcast – Series 2. Podcast retrieved from http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/Defenders2_DoctrineofGod2.mp3

Dawkins, Richard. (2006). The God Delusion. Great Britain: Bantam Press.

Giberson, Karl W. (2008). Saving Darwin. New York: HarperOne

Grudem, Wayne. (1994). Systematic Theology. Great Britain: Intervarsity Press & Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Walton, John H. (2009). The Lost World of Genesis One. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic

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(continued from the last post)

…So it was by a mix of curiosity and having nothing to lose that I picked up The God Delusion in a London bookstore. Despite the fact that there was an oral presentation I should have been working on all weekend, I spent most of my down time reading the first half of that book. Richard Dawkins declared in the first chapter that he hoped to convert anyone who read his book to atheism, and I could already feel its effects by the sixth chapter.

He moves from the introduction to a general discussion on the different religions of the world, taking a particular amount of time to focus on each of the two testaments of the Bible. During this section, he also spends a large effort making the point that many of the Founding Fathers of the United States were probably more secular than religious, and that the U.S. was not founded on the principles of Christianity, which many people claim today. I haven’t yet done much reading on this besides Dawkins’ work, but the quotes and evidence that he gives are convincing enough, and I have to agree with him on that particular point until I do more thorough research.

One whole chapter is devoted to various “proofs” of God’s existence that he refutes one at a time. Then he goes on with a defense of the theory of evolution and an attempt to reason that there “almost certainly is no God.” When addressed with the question of how life came to be, or why we are here, he says that God is an unsatisfactory answer, because it redoubles the problem. We should then ask, “How did God get here?” This was one of his biggest arguments, as I remember him repeating this several times.

I find myself going into too much detail about this book than I’d like to be, but I just wanted to give an idea of what I was reading that gave me my first taste of an atheistic perspective. From there, I leapt back to the U.S. and did some investigating on various websites to find even more objections to religion and Christianity. I began to look down upon religious people, because I thought they did not question their beliefs enough to find what I’d found.

I told my girlfriend and my parents that I no longer considered myself a Christian, and gave them some of my main doubts that seemed so unanswerable. But to be completely honest, they weren’t the only reasons. There was something about going against the grain of all my Christian friends and family that seemed exciting. I became arrogant. It pleased me to know that I had found questions that most people couldn’t answer. Along these lines, my rejection of Christianity was really more about me and the reputation I wanted than the actual doubts about the religion.

My girlfriend bought me a couple of books, which were targeted at the faithless and doubting audiences, and I agreed to read them. A quote at the beginning of one book was by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, saying “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” This got me thinking. Were my doubts and questions proof enough to abandon Christianity? I hadn’t ever bothered to try and answer them myself. And I undoubtedly found my current beliefs attractive. I could live how I wanted and liked the glory I felt in “knowing” things others didn’t. Pascal’s quote told me pretty explicitly that my transition wasn’t justified as it went.

So for the next few weeks and months of the summer, I researched many of my questions and found that they didn’t really hold up in the face of the answers. Some of the doubts were based on bad logic; others were resultant of a simple misunderstanding of the nature of God. So He used authors and people who reasoned with the same logic that I had used in my objections to show me that my thinking was wrong.

At first, I turned back to Him only in my head, seeing that it made logical sense. But as weeks and months went by, I learned to pray.  I learned to read the Bible and apply it to every aspect of my life in every hour of my life. God has been letting me discover who He is. And as I learn more about Him, He shows me more and more about myself, and how desperate my situation as a fallen human being is. How much I need Him.

I am proud and selfish.

My motivation is self-seeking, and my actions are self-glorifying.

God created me and loves me, but I hardly give a thought to Him, not even a smidgen of the glory He deserves.

As Paul Washer says in the sermon I mentioned in Part 1, the issue is not that I have sinned. The issue is that I’ve never done anything but sin. Even my very kindest and most loving deeds are just filthy rags, polluted garments, to the LORD.

My situation is desperate. I am worthy of nothing better than eternal death. God saves me because He loves me – NOT because I am worth it.

Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t tell us how much we’re worth. It tells us how dire, how drastic, our situations are that God has to crush his Son.

-hasta pronto

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Okay, so if I had to start my story somewhere, I’d choose the early summer of 2007, but right now I think I’d rather start with this picture of a squirrel that I took this week. Enjoy.


Anyway, early during the summer in 2007, I met with a good friend of mine from high school. He had studied a lot of theology, and during the drive home from the meal, our conversation turned to Christianity. He brought up Calvinism, of which I had never heard before. Calvinism is particularly known for what it has to say about predestination—that God, as the omniscient and omnipotent creator that He is, has the right to say where each human being will end up at the end of his or her life. At the time, it sounded to me that believing this would be to believe that we, as humans, don’t really have free will. Whoever God created us to be, we’ll be, and wherever He intends for us to go, we’ll go, and there’s nothing we can do about it. This scared me a lot. (I plan on focusing a separate post on this topic of predestination later.)

My friend also recommended a preacher named Paul Washer to me. Brother Paul, as he likes to go by, is a southern Baptist preacher who has gone and started ministries in Eastern Europe and South America, namely Peru. I listened to a sermon he gave at a church camp in Alabama. In this shocking sermon, he told the more than 6,000 listeners that he figured the great majority of them would be in Hell when they died. His main point is that here in America, Christians are taught to believe that as long as they pray “the prayer” and ask Jesus into their heart, He will undoubtedly do so. He takes the verse Matthew 7:20, which says that people are to be identified “by their fruits,” to support the claim that if you’re a Christian, there should be obvious evidence of it. Someone should be able to look at you before the change, and then look at you afterwards, and see a major difference. You should be turning away from your sin and look different than the rest of the world. (Go here to watch the sermon for yourself.)

I listened to this, and realized that all that of which he was accusing the listeners there in Alabama could have been charged against me as well. I admitted to myself then that, according to this man, who I believed (and still do) was speaking the truth, I was not a Christian. You would not see any major difference between how I lived before I became a Christian and afterwards. In the words of Brother Paul, I “looked like the world, smelled like the world, sounded like the world, and loved so much that was in the world.” I could sin again and again without pausing but for a couple of seconds to ask forgiveness, and there were even certain sins where I didn’t even feel any guilt at all.

Pairing this realization up with what I thought I knew about predestination, I came to the following conclusion: not only was I not a Christian, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was going to Hell when I died. And for some reason, I was okay with this conclusion. For the rest of that summer, and for most of my trip to Spain in the fall, I was a fervent believer in Christianity, but believed myself excluded from the Good News that it preached.

It wasn’t until the end of the year, during my trip to London, where I found a book called The God Delusion by atheist Richard Dawkins, that I began to let my beliefs about Christianity turn negative.

Well folks, I apologize for the bad timing and sudden ending of this story, but I’m tired, and it is simply becoming too long for one post. I will tell the other half next time. (Click here to read it right now) But here, have another squirrel picture. 😀

-hasta pronto

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