A Manual For Creating Atheism “Light”


Peter Boghossian has added another contribution to the ongoing conversation about belief in a scientific age in his “A Manual For Creating Atheists.” Unfortunately for atheists it lacks any substantial new material and appears to be a rehash of the old secular humanism. It is simply more of the same reasoning already skillfully addressed by numerous Christian apologists including Craig, Montgomery, and Dembski. For Christians however, Boghossian’s newest work presents another opportunity to engage atheists in a discussion of their “faith,” and in the process make the case for belief in God as defined by historical, orthodox Christianity.

In 2009 I attended the fourth annual meeting of the International Society of Christian Apologetics held in Deerfield, Illinois on the beautiful campus of Trinity International University and Divinity School.  The theme of the conference that year was “The New Atheism.”  Boghossian’s Manual encouraged me to delve into my files to reread some of my research collected and utilized in my presentation, “The New Atheism: Another Skirmish With a Twist.”

What I conceive the “twist” to be in the atheist argument is their continued attempt to clandestinely import moralistic arguments disguised as other things in order to shore up their position. Evolution cannot be both cold, hard, chance over billions of years and altruistically compassionate at the same time. One strength of the theistic position is that it provides the only satisfying rationale for morals.

There are other reasons for theism as the best of all possible answers to life and the universe. Whether the theist starts with a teleological argument (from design to designer), the cosmological argument (all things that exist have a cause for their existence), or the ontological argument (from conceivability to existence), unbelievers of every stripe are at a decided disadvantage when it comes time to “lay their cards on the table.”

As just one example let us examine the claim by the atheist that the universe is a non-contingent entity.  Atheists argue for a universe that exists perhaps by its own necessity. They do so however, not on the basis of scientific evidence, for the available evidence demonstrates the theistic position, namely that the universe had a beginning, but on the basis of “I don’t like the implications of the evidence toward intelligent design so I’ll choose the irrational position” argument.  I admit that was transparent sarcasm but it is sarcasm with a point – this is what they admit in moments of honesty.  Take for example this admission by Richard Lewontin:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment – a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot int he door.[1]

The theist has good reason to reject the prevailing scientific position of materialism. Take for instance the very concise cosmological argument for the existence of God. The construction of the cosmological argument for the existence of God is generally stated as such:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

It is a very powerful argument for a number of reasons.  Primarily it forces atheists to attempt to maintain their argument for the non-existence of God by suggesting that since God does not exist then there is no reason to believe that everything has a cause or explanation for its existence.  But this approach is a double-edged sword of sorts because when atheists argue from this position they are also affirming the parallel and opposite claim that if there is an explanation for the existence of the universe then atheism is false.  Further, the only logical explanation for the existence of anything ends up being God as the arguments for causality and sufficient reason so aptly demonstrate.

I’ll post more on this subject soon. Be sure and check out Tom Gilson’s site devoted entirely to answering atheism – http://www.creatingatheists.com/ – where I will be posting as well.

[1] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.

Creating Atheists?

My friend Tom Gilson – www.thinkingchristian.net – has launched a new website – www.creatingatheists.com – to address the atheist worldview from the Christian theistic perspective. With the continued publication of atheist books and articles, Tom believes it is high time for Christians to advance the intellectual force of the Christian theistic worldview.  I couldn’t agree more. Along with many other Christian apologists, I will be contributing articles from time to time to the Creating Atheists website. Please check here and the Creating Atheists website for engaging articles, critiques, and rebuttals of atheism in general and the so-called New Atheism in particular.

Growing Up: How To Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples

Brothers and sisters: I am on the “Growing Up: How To Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples” launch team. I have received an advance copy of Robby Gallaty’s book and will be reading it and writing a review. Once the review is posted on my blog – The Transforming Word (www.drmikespaulding.com), Amazon, and Barnes and Noble I’ll give you a heads up to check it out and get the word out about this great resource.


Revelation 17 and Discipleship Part 2 or Where Do We Go From Here?

As I said in an earlier post, Revelation 17 was an inspiring passage in the sense that it made me think about the reality of the future state of the world.  The demise of religious Babylon, widely believed to be the organized apostate church, turned my thoughts to the times we live in.  Is there a parallel?  Can we make and sustain an argument that we are seeing a foundation of apostasy being build upon today? I believe the answer is yes.  That thinking requires me to think about a proper response.

So my thoughts lately have focused on mission to an increasingly unbelieving world.  The added ingredient of hostility toward Christianity means that a response must be strong enough to withstand attack while also sticking to the timeless truths of the gospel.  Our message of forgiveness and hope never rings truer than when times are dark and people have succumbed to despair. Or as Carl F.H. Henry once stated in response to the darkness of days he saw, “the best minds of evangelicalism are bending their effort these days, convinced that no synthesis is more relevant than the modern frustration and biblical redemptionism.” Amazingly, Henry spoke those words sixty-six years ago and they still ring true.

So where should we start with our response to growing indifference and even hostility toward the message of Christ?  I’ve come to the conclusion that the church must become more focused inwardly first and then outwardly in fulfillment of our calling. This means we must re-energize believers with the truth that we are disciples of Jesus Christ and as such we must live a distinctively different life from our family, friends, and neighbors who are not believers.  Only when the church recognizes that we are living everyday as a mission outpost in a secular wasteland will we begin to understand the importance of living the faith day by day.  This should then lead us to train ourselves to once again take up the mantle of disciple, Christ follower, and disciple-maker.  You can call this missions coaching or mentoring or plain old discipleship but the crux of the matter is that we are seeking to expand the Kingdom by replication.  The question is this: is our life worthy of replicating? Are we living in such a way that we can declare as Paul did, “follow me as I follow Jesus”?

I mentioned in my last post God is Always At Work Around You, that 2 Timothy 2:1-2 contains several keys to being a disciple and effective discipleship. Hopefully by now you have taken the time to read that passage and think about how this applies. There are at least four principles in this passage. You may find more. First, we must rely only on the grace of God in Christ (v.1). Trying to do things on our own is a recipe for disaster. Second, we must commit to discipling other people (v.2). “Entrust” (NASB) means to commit something to someone with the full assurance that they will uphold what is committed to them.  Of course what is assumed is that you are a disciple yourself. Third, committing ourselves to teaching and mentoring implies that we are deeply involved in relationship building.  We will pour our lives into others. Finally, the end result is that the discipled will repeat the process of teaching and mentoring with others.  This is the principle of exponential Kingdom growth.

I am coming late to the “missional” mindset.  For me, the early use of the term smacked of emergent nonsense and so I discarded the idea without serious consideration.  But God has graciously brought me to a place where I see the necessity of teaching and living a missional lifestyle.  What does that mean exactly? Let me explain by way of song lyrics that I recently read that were embedded in an article.

Some of you know Tom Gilson, the National Field Director for Ratio Christi.  As part of preparation for a recent apologetics conference Calvary Chapel of Lima hosted, I read Tom’s article entitled, “Run to the Battle – With Wisdom.”  What inspired me was the use of missions imagery within the context of American culture as a missions field for Christianity.  We don’t have to travel to other parts of the world to encounter people who have never heard the gospel. They are our neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers.

The song lyrics Gilson quoted were from a Steve Camp song and they said in part:

Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells
But I want to run a mission a yard from the gate of hell
And with everyone you meet, take them the gospel and share it well
Look around you as you hesitate, another soul just fell
Let’s run to the battle.

The truth is that in postmodern America every faithful believer and every faithful church body is a missions outpost.  As such we need to learn the “language” and “culture” of our unbelieving neighbors.  What does that mean? Don’t we speak the same language?  We do not.  We do not think the same way as unbelievers and we do process information and ideas the same way. Our filters are different, thus we do not speak the same language.

How do we overcome this “language” barrier?  First of all by taking the time to seriously consider the questions and objections to the gospel our friends have. We cannot stand on gimmicky answers that have no substance.  Cavalier responses and behavior suggest that we don’t take the issues our friends, family, and neighbors raise seriously.  This is a guaranteed way to not have another conversation with them concerning God and eternity.

In order to provide a thoughtful and rational response to challenges to Christianity we must prepare ourselves intellectually and emotionally.  The latter because too often Christians take offense when their faith is challenged and the former because without adequate preparation and training in apologetics and theology, Christians will not rise above unsatisfactory and meaningless efforts at communicating the timeless truths of the Bible.

Think about these things and listen for what God might stir in your mind and heart. Let me know what you hear and determine to do for the Kingdom.



Carl F.H. Henry quote taken from an Al Mohler speech.  View at http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/09/12/the-man-from-issachar-an-address-at-the-inauguration-of-russell-d-moore/

Thank you to Robby Gallaty at Replicate  Ministries for providing the exhortation from 2 Timothy 2:1-2.  View at http://replicateministries.org/2013/09/23/pauls-4-fold-strategy-for-making-disciples/

Tom Gilson is the National Field Director for Ratio Christi, a college campus apologetics mission and maintains Thinking Christian, a multipurpose website for discourse.  The Steve Camp song is Run to the Battle.  View at http://www.thinkingchristian.net/tuesday-pastor-teacher-focus/2013/06/run-to-the-battle-with-wisdom/