How Many Impossible Things Do You Need to Believe?

How many impossible things do you need to believe to not believe in God?

There is a decision to make.

Whether to believe in the existence of a single intelligent creator responsible for the complexity of the universe and life on earth – or to believe that an unimaginable number of spontaneous events somehow happened in order to bring about the same result, out of nothing.

The main difference as I see it, is that one scenario raises the possibility of us being accountable to a Creator God, and that can be a scary prospect for some people.

Over the past few days I’ve had a small discussion with a few unbelievers on a secular news site.

One of the responders asked a version of that old, naïve question:

…how do you explain your ‘single intelligent creator’, does he just pop into existence from, er, nothing?

Basically, if the universe and life within it required a creator, who created that creator?

To some that question must seem the pinnacle of sophistication – the argument to end all arguments, and yet there is a very clear and obvious answer that does not favour the doubter’s assumption.

The Bible describes God as being eternal with no beginning or end.

But Science recognises that the universe DID have a beginning.

Therefore, unlike the universe (according to the materialist viewpoint), God did not need to “just pop into existence from nothing”.

As for the question of how many impossible things need to be accepted in order to disbelieve in a Creator God, the following response in the same discussion shows how willing people can be to practice all manner of irrational, intellectual gymnastics to close their eyes and minds to God.

That ‘unimaginable’ number of spontaneous events took place over an equally unimaginable expanse of space and time, and if the many-worlds interpretation is correct, over an almost infinitely large number of universes. From another perspective, given these conditions, that series of spontaneous events had to occur somewhere, at some time. It just happens that here and now is where they occurred.

Just look at the many assumptions and speculations required to fuel that argument.

1) The assumption that given enough time, anything can happen no matter how improbable or impossible.
(Excepting the existence of a Creator to whom His creation might be accountable, of course)

2) If the “many-worlds interpretation is correct.
(One might as well say “if the easter bunny was real, chocolate eggs would magically appear at easter. Again – an avoidance of pondering whether the Creator God “interpretation” could be correct.)

3) An almost infinitely large number of universes?
(So now we have the existence of an infinite number of universes that spontaneously appeared, not just one).

4) Given all of those imagined conditions then this very real universe had to appear out of nothing.
(Do I need to comment further on that?)

So I’ll return to my original question…

How many impossible things does someone need to believe to not believe in God?

God’s Not Dead

not deadI haven’t been impressed by a lot of Christian films.
Sometimes the theology within the story can be dodgy, as can the acting. However I recently enjoyed these three.

The first of the “trilogy” has Josh, a young student forced to defend his belief in God to his philosophy class, when he refuses to give in to the lecturer’s demand that they all sign a statement declaring that God is dead.

By doing so, the lecturer claims the class can leave aside vain discussion of religious thought and move straight on to the “valid” aspects of philosophical ideas.

Facing opposition from friends and family, Josh takes on the challenge despite the likelihood, no matter how strong a case he makes, that he will be failed for that course, undermining the desired direction of his education.

not dead 2The second film has a couple of overlapping characters from the first film giving a continuity between the two.

This time a high school teacher finds herself in court because she quoted Jesus when answering a student’s question in history class; despite the fact that the questioner brought up Jesus in a discussion of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

For some reason the student’s parents see the court case as a means of advancing their daughter’s educational future, if only through the financial gain they hope to receive as compensation.

The student herself is appalled by her parent’s choice, but due to her age is prevented from having a say in the matter.

Within this film, several real life Christian experts are called upon to give evidence regarding the historical facts of Jesus’ existence, as well as the validity and reliability of the gospel accounts as reliable historical documents.

After watching this film, viewers need to wait until the end of the credits where a post-credit scene sets up the story of the third film.

not dead lightDuring the third installment of the series, on-going character Pastor Dave, finds himself at odds with the law when the ongoing survival of his church building is threatened.

The building is currently on part of a school campus, having in the past being associated with the school, originally built on church land, which was ultimately sold to the educational institution.

A tragic act of vandalism sets up circumstances to enable the school board of to demand the church be demolished so they can make use of the cleared land.

Pastor Dave has been a familiar character across this series of films, usually a minor role, in this one he takes prominence as his faith is challenged. He is faced with choices that will determine how his faith will be lived and demonstrated to those around him.

Each of the films has a different approach to a common theme: to what extent is Christian faith being opposed by an increasingly antagonistic secular culture.

While the films themselves are fictional representations, the situations portrayed are inspired by real life cases where Christians found themselves in courts having their right to believe and practice their faith opposed. In the credits of the first two films, lists of more than twenty (I lost count after that) actual cases are provided.

I had only one or two small quibbles with content of the films, but those minor objections probably reflect the reality of Christian expression (religious clichés, the constant citing of bible verses in everyday conversation), so those issues are more about the way Christians often speak or act than with the films themselves.

Across the films the Christian band The Newsboys make appearances of various lengths and importance. In the first one they have a more dominant role in the story, and of course, the film’s titles come from one of  their songs.

Overall the three films were entertaining, informative and challenging, and they have made me aware of some potentially interesting resources to follow up from some of the writers who played themselves within the films. So far I’ve tracked down two books I’m looking forward to reading in the next week or two.

mmmcold case

Dawkins’ Delusion

Here Richard Dawkins, the great God-denying champion and promoter of atheism, admits to the possibility of Intelligent Design behind the creation of life on earth.

Just don’t call that creative intelligence “God” – and don’t suggest that the creative intelligence might take an interest in, or expect the creation to be accountable to the one who created it.

Dawkins also shows that he can’t progress beyond the kindergartenesque question, “If God created the universe, then who created God?” Stuck in this kind of thought bubble, he insists that IF there is some kind of intelligence responsible for life on earth, that intelligence itself must be the product of a long process of evolution.

But why? Isn’t it reasonable to expect Dawkins to justify such a categorical assumption with some kind of evidence? *

The silliness behind the question “who created God” can be seen when we recognise that science now agrees with what scripture has said for thousands of years, that the universe had a beginning.

But the same scriptures that revealed a beginning to the universe also tell us that God had no beginning, He is eternal, everlasting, therefore with no need to be “created”.

God is :

“the eternal God” (Gen 21, Deut 33, Rom 10)

“from everlasting to everlasting” (1 Chr 16, 1 Chr 29, Neh 9, Ps 41, Ps 90, Ps 103)

“the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King” (Jer 10)

“everflasting Father” (Is 9)

“from everlasting” (Hab 1)

“the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1)

The question about “who created God, is therefore based on a false premise – that a creator God also needed to be created.

Towards the end of this video segment, Dawkins is asked what he would say, should he die and find himself face to face with God. Dawkins refers to a quote from Bertrand Russell who when posed a similar question stated he would ask God “Sir, why did you take such pains to hide yourself?”

My response to both Dawkins and Russell would be to ask – has God been hiding? Or have they (and countless others) been refusing to see what God has made obvious?

 

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, , so that people are without excuse.” (Rom 1)

 

“Professing to be wise, they became fools” (also Rom 1)

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* My friend Chris says he has read two of Dawkins’ books and tells me that he considers Dawkins’ best quote to be: “We must stop asking the question WHY?”.

 

 

Life on Mars?

 

It’s likely you would have heard about the great excitement about the discovery of a large body of water under the surface of Mars, and the possibilities it creates for there being life on Mars.

But what is the reason for the great interest in finding life beyond earth?

Maybe to some people it would legitimise their belief that given the right conditions and enough time, life could spontaneously come into existence without the need of a Creator?

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

But from a Christian point of view there’s no need to discount the possibility of some kind of life elsewhere. God could very well have created life beyond the earth for purposes of His own.
An account of that life beyond earth isn’t necessarily relevant to his relationship with mankind so didn’t need to be revealed in scripture

How Could a God of Love Allow…

This is a comment I saw on a news website in which the reality/identity/nature of God was being flippantly addressed in a featured article. Not surprisingly the following comments included a lot of snide, crude, “smart” and bigoted content; as well as the usual arguments trying to “prove” God’s non-existence.

I thought the following comment was worth addressing.
First the initial comment, then my reply to it.

Let’s take the Boxing Day tsunami, countless children ripped from their mothers arms, god could have stopped it if he wished but decided it was a good thing to let it continue.

I think it is impossible to reconcile this with the idea of a loving god.

.

That’s quite a leap isn’t it – projecting a moral determination onto God – that He decided it was a “good thing” merely because He didn’t stop it.

You also assume that a loving God SHOULD have stopped it.

But where do you get the idea that God is “loving” and that His love requires Him to wrap every single human being up in cocoon of safety so that nothing bad could ever happen to anyone?

Also, what makes you think that human safety ought to be His number one concern? And that if HE allows anything bad to happen to any human, then He’s either not loving or He doesn’t exist?

In addition to my original reply, I’d like to add the following:

Why should this particular event (the Tsunami of 2004) be considered as a greater challenge to our understanding and expectations related to God than any other event involving human tragedy?

Clearly the matter of scale makes it stand out, but bringing it down to the individual level, is it any more tragic for a family to lose a loved one in a large scale disaster than “merely” losing them in a smaller domestic accident?

How many (or how few) casualties do there need to be within a single event for God’s existence (as a loving God) to be widely questioned? And how relevant are those human expectations that lead someone to raise those questions?

Why is it that so many people can go through their day to day lives giving God no thought at all – but when something bad happens, He springs to their mind, often in a dismissive, accusatory way:

“How could a loving God allow… ?

Stephen Fry and “blasphemy”

I saw an article this morning: “Stephen Fry investigated by Irish police for alleged blasphemy” * and thought it appropriate to draw attention to two articles I posted in 2015 after Fry had made similar rants.

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/self-aggrandising-foolishness-from-stephen-fry/

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-calvinistic-athiests-attitude-to-god/

Personally I ‘m opposed to blasphemy laws. God is more than capable of facing the rants and ravings of wilfully ignorant fools.

 

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

 

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* https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/may/07/stephen-fry-investigated-by-irish-police-for-alleged-blasphemy