This happens to me every once in a while. I have an atheist favor me with a nice little pat on the head, a smile, and tell me that one of these days I’ll become a big boy, lay aside my children’s illustrated story Bible and see the real world for what it is.
Allow me to note some highlights for apologetic learning purposes.
Here’s the bottom line. I grew up a Baptist church believing that Noah’s Flood really happened. I believed all of it, and when I was young, I had no reason to doubt any of it. I would have been a much happier person if I could have continued to believe as I was taught, because certainty feels better than doubt.
But at a certain point, I just couldn’t ignore the evidence provided by the physical world around me. At a certain point, it all just didn’t make any sense any more. Not the flood, not eternal damnation, not the Trinity, none of it. I wish it did. I don’t like doubt. My life would be easier without doubt. But life is what it is.
This admission says it all; it frames the rest of our discussion.
Here we have a guy growing up in a typical, red state, fundamentalist Baptist church. If it was the kind of Baptist church I attended, I have a lot in common with what he says here.
I could, without fail, tell you every week what the basic structure of the sermon would be. A three point message, lots of amusing, anecdotal Southern humor sprinkled throughout, and an emotional illustration, all wrapped up with a long invitation at the end.
Sunday school was based upon the denominational quarterlies that are designed to rush the class through the entire Bible in three years. Sunday school teachers were nice folks. Heck, my aunt taught my Jr. church and I had a cousin teach our teen class. But honestly, in spite of their sweet Christian piety, they lacked any serious sophistication to answer any hard questions I would put to them regarding any of the things I heard at school that challenged my faith.
So I could say my background is the same as the atheist’s here.
However, he seriously thinks I still remain in a carpeted game room and derive my theology from flannel boards. All through high school and college, I was exposed to the same evidence provided by the same physical world taught to me by stern, dogmatic professors who told me my Bible was a fairytale.
Why then doesn’t any of that so-called evidence shatter my faith? Am I not reading the right peer-reviewed journals? Not reading the right books? To borrow an illustration from another atheist, I live on the same pale, blue dot. How come I don’t see stuff like he does?
Atheists carry on as if I would read just the same stuff they did, I wouldn’t be a Christian any longer. But I have read their stuff, and here I still sit, believing in historicity of Noah’s ark, the flood, and Jesus. I don’t doubt any of it and it all makes sense to me.
Has it occurred to my atheist commenter that evidence really has nothing to do with my beliefs? Evidence has to be interpreted, any ways, and the starting point on which one evaluates and filters the evidence will obviously impact what one concludes about that evidence.
I begin with the fear of the Lord. I grant that my “fear” is supernatural and undebatable in peer-review journals. In other words, my faith is a work of divine grace that gives me ears to hear and eyes to see. I would venture a guess that his doubts have nothing really to do with overwhelming evidence and everything to do with disappointments with God, the lack of respect he has toward his religious family growing up, and deep respect he has now for his new found atheist community.
So, now you have to turn to an argument that leads to the conclusion that we can’t draw conclusions about anything. You have a bias, I have a bias, so all we have in the end are our opinions. I reject your conclusion because you’re biased. You reject my opinions because I’m biased. What’s the point? This is not very helpful, and I don’t understand why YEC folks always go for the “no one is unbiased” argument.
Here again is an example of how atheists, particularly young 20 somethings that are fresh from their former life as a Fundamentalist, often do not self-reflect upon their presuppositions.
They naively flit through the world thinking all the evidence it has to offer is self-authenticating and that he now knows the truth because he had the smarts to remove his “God delusion” blinders to see things as they truly are. Rarely do they recognize that a person filters his “opinions” through a set of personal presuppositions.
Let me point out some selected comments to illustrate what I mean.
I think that I’ve done far more reading than you realize.
Oh. I’m sure he has. Of course, if you’re only reading atheist propaganda, I’m not sure how that helps your case.
I don’t think that I’m that far off base when I say that it is the consensus of practicing ANE archeologists that much of the early history of the OT is contradicted by the archeological evidence. Is there any reason to think that this is not an accurate summary of the current state of ANE archeology?
But hey, give me some sources, and I’ll look into it. I’ve changed my mind about things many times in life. Have you? By the way, do you have anything that is published in peer-reviewed, mainstream journal?
I often wonder if all the young, internet atheists these days utilize the same play book when they engage their religious opponents. Apparently, this play book is encyclopedic, because it covers a wide range of subjects like ancient Near Eastern studies, geology, biology, and biblical lexicography, all in scrutinizing detail. And on top of that, it makes the atheist an instance expert.
Either that, or all atheists are idiot savant “Rainman” types incapable of forgetting anything.
But to the point at hand. Here’s a good example of where those presuppositions come into play. I can give a rather extensive list of scholars and authors who would disagree with the assessment that ANE studies devastates the OT. For example, Noel Weeks, Michael Grisanti, Eugene Merrill, Andrew Steinman, K.A. Kitchen, Leon Wood, E.J. Young, Mark Rooker, Daniel Block, Bryant Wood, Charles Ailing, Doug Petrovich, James Hoffmeier, John Currid, to name a few.
All of them are published in peer-reviewed, mainstream journals, if the mainstream, theological and archaeological journals count for the atheist. Of course, that is the rub. He has his list of so-called peer-reviewed journals he accepts as authoritative. If the ones in which these men publish don’t fit his criteria, they’ll be dismissed out of hand without any consideration.
Additionally, he believes his peer-reviewed journals are unbiased, have no particular interest in religion one way or another, and thus no agenda to promote. They see the evidence for what it is and conclude the Bible isn’t truthful in these regards. But this just reveals more self-delusion.
No, it doesn’t “just happen”. If it happens, it’s because of the way the natural world happens to work. “Self-organizing biochemical reactions” happen all of the time. What makes the scientific study of abiogenesis different is that it’s testable. As you would say, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Atheists, like my commenter, are so desperate to ignore any “evidence” of purposeful design, or dare I say “creation,” that they are willing to embrace the absurd and ridiculous “science of the gaps” type arguments.
Abiogenesis is a good example. I wonder if my commenter even knows what I mean here, because abiogenesis is life from non-life. “Self-organizing biochemical reactions” may happen “all the time;” hydrogen, for example, bonds with oxygen to make water. But none of these “chemical bonds” can produce the diverse, genetic driven, intelligent life that we see fill our world today. Chemical bonds don’t produce information: lots of complex information that causes the organisms to thrive, live, and adapt.
Of course, many folks have written on this subject. Stephen Myer, for instance, has a massive, 500 plus page book called “The Signature in the Cell.” Does it count? Probably not if the atheist can find a consensus of ID haters to say it doesn’t. It’s situations like these that free-thinkers appeal to consensus to determine truth rather than evidence.
But what about atheists who have problems with Darwinianism’s explanation of life? Do they count? Are they just going rogue for the sake of going rogue? Do they “know what they are talking about?”
What puzzles me is why folks tend to bristle a bit when someone says that the Noah story isn’t feasible. Why should young earthers or literalist care if it’s feasible? What’s the point of even trying to demonstrate that any aspect of the story is feasible? I don’t get it. Why is there a need for a long drawn out response when Mr. Atheist says you must believe the following amazing things? Just embrace the fantastic!
I can appreciate that comment. There is a kernel of truth in it. Is the biblical record authenticated by peer-reviewed engineering journals on the feasibility of the ark? No. I would say the same about the Resurrection. Do we need to have a testable situation in which we can scientifically determine through peer-reviewed journals if a corpse can come to life and thus prove the veracity of the Gospel narratives? Of course not.
However, the ark, as it is revealed in Scripture, is feasible. A number of ancient wooden ships match it closely in size, so there is no particular structural problem, and those ships were designed to be sailed repeatedly rather than utilized once. Moreover, the Bible doesn’t record specific designs for the ark. It just records the dimensions and how many decks it is to have. Nothing about how the structural integrity would be achieved. It’s just assumed by my atheist commenter that Noah was a primitive, stupid man limited by the pre-bronze age world or whatever. Thus, unless he had modern day technology, he couldn’t achieve what God asked him to do.
I am of the mind that if God asked him to do something, he had the ability to achieve what God asked. We may not know exactly how that was done, but of course, my atheist commenter has the same problem with the origins of life.
Look, I understand that you believe what you believe, and there is nothing that I can say to change it. But the vast, vast majority of Christian geologists think that the geological evidence contradicts the global flood hypothesis. Perhaps you should ask the question…why do they think this? Why have the vast, vast majority of CHRISTIAN geologists come to the conclusion that geology is devastating to a literal OT and the flood myth?
Wow. Not just one “vast,” but two. All of those Christian geologists? Can he name some? I happen to know a few. One in particular who has written for Biologos and is an evangelist AGAINST biblical creationism. He has written to me on numerous occasions. Has begged my boss to let him come to my church and straighten out us poor, misguided Christians who have been lied to by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (his words, not mine).
I only assume if my geological anti-creationist claims to be a Christian that he believes some particular things about Scripture. He has told me he does, for instance, believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, something my atheist commenter denies. Yet when I press my geological antagonist on the particulars of his doctrine, he falls back upon “I don’t know” and points me to the websites of apostates and other similar miscreants who basically argue like the atheist commenter.
I would venture a guess and say the main reason “Christian” geologists say the OT flood narrative is “devastated” by the so-called evidence has more to do with how they have been taught to do geology, rather than just raw evidence. Geology is a fairly young discipline and it was initially based upon a set of uniformitarian principles the geologist was expected to utilize when doing research. Those principles can be challenged, as is demonstrated in this article and this article. (Which happens to be in a peer-reviewed journal).