Tag Archive: Creationism

If the Evangelical God Revealed Himself to Me, Would I Believe? 

athfleaist convention

I am often asked what it would take for me to believe in the Evangelical God. Is there anything that would cause me to discard atheism and embrace the God whom Evangelicals say is the Creator of everything and the savior of everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ?  Am I so set in my atheistic/humanistic ways that there is nothing that could persuade me to return to the Christianity I abandoned eight years ago?  Simply put, what will it take for me to fall on knees and repent of my sins, professing that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior?

Many Evangelicals, of course, believe that no amount of evidence would be enough to convert someone such as myself. I am a reprobate, an apostate, a sworn enemy of the Evangelical God. I have crossed the line of no return. My destiny is already settled, with a first-class accommodation in Hell and the Lake of Fire awaiting me after I die. According to the Bible, I am the pig that has returned to the mire and the dog who has returned to his vomit. I have trampled under my feet the blood of Jesus, and there remains no further sacrifice for my sins. Christian evangelizers are told not to waste their time on the Bruce Gerencsers of the world. Let them go to the hell they so richly deserve!

Other Evangelicals think that I am still saveable. With God all things are possible, they say.  Imagine what a testimony to God’s wonderful grace it would be if the preacher-turned-atheist Bruce was brought low before the thrice-holy God and saved from his sins. Years ago, I remember being taught in evangelism class that the best way to reach a community for Christ is to find the meanest sinner in town and lead him to Christ. While I am not a mean person, I am considered the village atheist, a man who hates God and Christians. Get me saved, and r-e-v-i-v-a-l is sure to follow. Or so local Christians think, anyway.

Many Evangelicals believe that God has given me all the evidence I need in order to believe. The Evangelical God has revealed himself to me through creation, conscience, and divine revelation (the Bible). God has done all the revealing he intends to do. If this is not enough for me, I can go straight to hell.

Wait a minute, what is there in creation that proves to a rational, reasonable man that the Evangelical God is one true God, and that forgiveness of sins and salvation are through Jesus, the second God of the Trinity? When I peer into wondrous darkness of a starry night, I am filled with awe and wonder. When a harvest moon rises in the east, giving off its larger-than-life orange glow, I am reminded of the awesomeness of the universe.  All around me I see wonders to behold. As a professional photographer, I often spend time peering at the complexities and beauty of nature and wildlife. Even the feral cats resting underneath the nearby post office box cause me to pause, watch, and enjoy. Everywhere I look, I see things that cause me to stop, reach for one of my cameras, and shoot a few photographs. Not far from where the aforementioned cats hang out, there are sheep and goats who often entertain me when I have time to stop and take their pictures. And don’t get me started when it comes to my family. There are times when everyone is over for a holiday — all twenty-one of us, aged two to sixty — that I quietly sit and watch my children and grandchildren. I think to myself, man, am I blessed. With all the health problems I have, I am lucky to be alive, fortunate that I have the privilege to love and be loved. Does all of this, however, say to me, the Evangelical God is real, that Christianity is the one true religion? No, it doesn’t. At best, all that I have experienced tells me that perhaps there is some sort of divine power, a God of sorts, that has set in motion life as we know it.  Perhaps — though I doubt it — there is a deistic God who created the universe and then went on vacation, leaving the future of planet earth and its inhabitants up to us. This is the God of some of the people who read this blog, and while I don’t believe in their God, I do understand how they came to believe as they do, and I respect their viewpoint. And they are okay with my unbelief, as is their God.

existence of god

I have yet to have an Evangelical satisfactorily explain to me how anyone can rationally surmise that their God is the one true God just by looking at starry skies or biological world. I am willing to concede, as I mentioned above, that it is possible to conclude that some sort deistic creator put the world into motion and then said, there ya go, boys and girls, do with it what you will. But, pray tell, what evidence is there for this generic creator God of sorts being the Evangelical God? Well, the Bible says ___________, Evangelicals say, and therein lies a big, big problem. Evangelicals are, for the most part, literalists. When they read the creation account recorded by an unknown author in Genesis 1-3, Evangelicals conclude that their God created the universe in six twenty-four days, exactly 6,022 years ago. Yes, I am aware that some Evangelicals are NOT young earth creationists, not that this really matters. Whether young earth or old earth or any of the other creation theories espoused by Evangelicals, they believe that the foundational authority is the first three chapters of Genesis.

Using the Bible as a tool to prop up what can be viewed with human eyes only causes greater doubt and unbelief. Why? Because what the Bible says about the universe runs contrary to what science tells us. Astronomy, geology, cosmology, archeology, and biology all tell us that what the Evangelicals believe the Bible says about the universe is false. Of course, Evangelicals are taught that the Bible is the final authority on everything, including how and when the universe came into existence. When science conflicts with the Bible, the B-i-b-l-e — the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God — not science, is always right. As science continues to push creationism closer and closer to the dustbin of human history, Evangelicals are forced to defend beliefs that are no longer rationally defensible. So anyone telling someone such as myself that creation — when viewed through the lens of the Bible — proves the existence of the Evangelical God will be met with ridicule and laughter.

The Bible, despite Evangelicals believing otherwise, is no longer a credible source of proof for the existence of God. Evangelicals believe that divine revelation (the Bible) is another way that God reveals himself to us. Unfortunately, thanks to the internet and authors such as Bart Ehrman and Robert Price, the Bible can no longer be used as proof for anything. Now that there are countless blogs and websites dedicated to deconstructing the history and teachings of Christianity and the Bible, it is increasingly hard for Evangelicals to continue to promote and sell the party line. The Bible is not worthless. There are teachings, maxims, proverbs, and such that people, religious or not, find encouraging and helpful. The same, however, could be said of a plethora of religious texts, so the Christian Bible is not special in this regard.

inventing a god

Having read the Bible dozens of times from cover to cover, spending thousands of hours studying its words, books, and teachings, I see nothing that would convince someone not already initiated into the Evangelical cult that the Christian God is the one true God and all other Gods are false. The fact remains that the Bible is not what Evangelicals claim it is, and the only people who believe that the Bible is some sort of supernatural book are those raised in religious sects and tribes that embrace inerrancy. Such people believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant because they either don’t know any better or they refuse to change their beliefs — facts be damned. Extant information, available to all who can read makes one thing clear: the Bible is not what Christians say it is.

Evangelicals also believe that their God reveals himself to humans by giving all us a conscience. Supposedly, the conscience that God gives us is some sort of moral regulator. According to Evangelicals, everyone is born with an innate understanding of right and wrong. God, they say, has written his law on our hearts. If this is so, why do parents need to teach children right and wrong? Why is it that geography and tribal identification, not God, determines moral and ethical beliefs? If the Evangelical God’s law is imprinted on everyone’s hearts, shouldn’t everyone have the same moral beliefs? Of course, they don’t, and doesn’t this mean that there must be some other reason(s) for moral belief other than God? That atheists are moral and ethical without believing in God is a sure sign that these things come from something other than a deity; things such as genetics, parental training, tribal influence, education, and environment.

The fact is, for atheists such as myself, creation, conscience, and the Bible do NOT prove to us the existence of the Evangelical God. Sorry, Evangelicals, I have weighed your evidence in the balances and found it wanting. What then, Bruce would it take for you to believe in God? Is there anything that God can do that would cause to believe?  Sure, there is. Let me conclude this post with several things the Evangelical God could do to prove to me his existence. All of these are within the ability of the I can do anything Evangelical God:

  • Raise my mother from the dead so she can love and enjoy the grandchildren she never got to see.
  • Heal me. Waking up one morning — just one — without pain would certainly cause me to reconsider my view of God.
  • Striking Donald Trump dead the next time he lies would certainly be a sign of God’s existence.
  • Causing the Cincinnati Reds to go 81-0 the last half of the season, Joey Votto hitting 80 home runs, Billy Hamilton hitting .350 and stealing 140 bases, and the Reds winning the World Series would definitely make me believe in God’s existence.
  • Causing the Cincinnati Bengals to go 16-0, winning three playoff games and the Super Bowl would also make me wonder, is there a God?
  • On a more serious note, God ending violence and war, hunger, sickness and disease, would certainly get my attention. Unfortunately, I’ve been told that God is too busy helping Grandmas find their keys and Tim Tebow become a major league baseball player to be bothered with human suffering.
  • And finally, God could just send Jesus to my house. That certainly would do the trick. However, I fear once I tell Jesus what has been going on in his name for the last 2,000 years that he might say, Dude, I don’t blame you for not believing in God. I wouldn’t either, but since my Dad is God, I have to believe whether I want to or not.

Truth be told, I doubt there is anything that can be said or done that would convince me of the existence of the Evangelical God. I have carefully weighed the extant evidence and found it wanting. Since it is unlikely that any new evidence is forthcoming, I am comfortable with saying that the Evangelical God is the mythical creation of the human mind, and I need not fear or obey him.

The Lord Made You That Way

If this is true, why didn’t God get it right the first time?

Tonight, one of my granddaughters had a softball game. Between innings, a man who knows me struck up a conversation about girls and sports. His daughter is quite diminutive in size — the smallest girl in her class. He told me that his daughter has been fretting over her height, wanting to know when she was going to grow tall like all the other girls in her class. The man said, I told her she was the size the Lord wanted her to be. End of discussion.

Grandchild number two — also a girl — is also quite short (and thin). Like the girl mentioned above, she is one of the smallest girls in her class. She accepts the fact that she is not going to be very tall. Instead of fretting over her height, she focuses on academics. She does play volleyball and basketball, but she knows that the girls around her will continue to tower over her and this could affect whether she can play these sports in high school. I encourage her to continue to work hard at improving her skills, reminding her that there have been short players who have figured out ways to play their respective sports. I also suggested that she consider running track in junior high school. Her mother is quite short and petite herself, yet she successfully ran track in high school and college. At no time has anyone (as far as I know) said to my granddaughter, you are short because the Lord made you that way. Would she like to be taller? Sure. Both my granddaughter and the girl I first mentioned above would love to be tall like many of their fellow classmates. Children want to fit in, be a part of the crowd. When you are short (or overweight, have red hair, wear coke-bottle glasses, have bigger breasts than other girls, or have parents who can’t afford to buy you the shoes and clothes other children are wearing), you naturally attract the attention of fellow students who love to make fun of your height. And sometimes, being different attracts bullies who can make school a living hell.

Our daughter Bethany was born with a genetic disorder called Down syndrome. When our Catholic primary care doctor called us in to talk about Bethany’s disorder, he told us that most fertilized eggs with the trisomy 21 genetic disorder miscarry. He also said that God only let children with Down Syndrome be born into special families who could love and care for them. At the time, I was pastoring a country Baptist church in Southeast Ohio and both Polly and I found his words comforting. As with the father who told his short daughter that the Lord made her this way, our doctor was telling us that having a child with Down Syndrome was just what the Lord intended. God made her this way.

Is the Lord really behind both the good and bad that befalls our children and grandchildren? While Evangelicals love to praise Jesus when their special snowflakes excel in school and sports and are straight-A students, I don’t hear much cheering when the good Lord above gives parents children with learning disabilities, debilitating genetic disorders, cancer, and sundry other maladies and diseases. Shouldn’t Evangelical parents be shouting from the rooftop, PRAISE THE LORD, OUR SON HAS SPINAL BIFIDA! PRAISE THE LORD, OUR DAUGHTER IS BLIND AND DEAF! The Lord does all things well, says the Bible. Shouldn’t Evangelicals be praising God day and night for the bad things that have come their way? In all things give thanks, the Apostle Paul said. If the Evangelical God is the hand from which good things flow, it must also be true that bad things come from the same hand. If God is who Christians say he is, then whatever befalls our children comes from Him.

Think about it for a moment — God is sovereign and in control of his creation. Nothing happens apart from His purpose and plan. When God determined to give Polly and me a daughter, he said to himself, I think I will give the Gerencsers a child with a genetic disorder. Ain’t I awesome! Fortunately, Bethany hasn’t had to face many of the physical maladies that children born with Down syndrome face. Yes, she has a heart problem, thyroid deficiency, and has had cataracts removed from both her eyes, but compared to other children with Down Syndrome, she has fared well. For every high-functioning Down Syndrome adult paraded before TV viewers, there are numerous others facing grave, lifelong disabilities One such woman attended the church I pastored in Southeast Ohio. She had severe heart problems, was partially blind, slobbered profusely, and conversed with others with unintelligible words. When this woman didn’t want to do something, she would plop down on the floor and refuse to move. Because she was quite overweight, her refusal to move required two care workers to pick up her up so they could take her home.

I wonder if Evangelicals really are comfortable and satisfied with the notion that the Lord makes children who are genetically malformed. Why would a deity who can do anything, deliberately hurt, harm, and kill children? What did these precious ones ever do to deserve such suffering and pain? Yet, if the Bible is true, one must conclude that whatever befalls us comes straight from Jehovah himself. I don’t know about you, but I consider such a God to be a monster of the first degree, no different from Nazi doctors who cruelly experimented on Jewish prisoners, or American physicians who deliberately infected unaware blacks with Syphilis so they could watch what happened when the venereal disease was left untreated.

To my short granddaughter, I say, your height is determined by genetics. You favor your mother, and that is why you are short and have eye problems. I say something similar to my granddaughter who is the same age as my short granddaughter, yet has a large frame and towers over many of her classmates. Like it or not, biology determines everything from height to hair color to body shape. Don’t like your butt? Blame your parents or other people in your family line. I was born with bright red hair. I faced decades of being gawked at, pointed to, or being made fun of. My junior high phys-ed teacher called me “Carrot Crotch.” I was short both in height and genital size, so my teacher calling attention to my red pubic hair in a locker room full of naked teenagers was quite embarrassing. There were many times I wished I could have had “normal” hair, been taller, and had a bigger penis. Over time, I grew to be six-foot tall, but the hair and you-know-what stayed the same.

Since it is likely that my father was my Mom’s redheaded cousin, my red hair came from him, along with my tall, redheaded lawyer great-grandfather. My great-grandfather died before I was born, yet he passed along his genetics to me through my mother and her cousin.  Like it or not, unless I was willing to dye my hair, I was stuck with having red hair. Damn genetics! They don’t concern themselves with social or cultural matters. When our mother’s egg united with our father’s sperm, two genetic streams came together to make a new human being. The results may or may not have been good, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It does no good to blame our parents, nor to blame God. We are, genetically, who we are, and it is up to us to make the most of what has been passed on to us by our mothers and fathers.

I understand why the man told his daughter that she was short because the Lord made her that way. It’s an easy answer for which there is no retort. Blaming God ends all discussions. Don’t like your height? Take it up with God! But passing the buck to God is a denial of reality. Science tells us why some people are short and others are tall. When I look at my body, I see a six-foot man with a twenty-nine-inch inseam. I want to know WHO gave me these short legs! Ever try to find a pair of men’s jeans for a twenty-nine-inch inseam? Not easy to find, so I end up buying pants with a thirty-inch inseam and live with it. And I say to my grandchildren the same thing. Whatever the genetic roll of the dice has given you, live with it. Make the most of what has been given to you, and don’t get upset if you aren’t like everyone else. I want to model to not only my grandchildren, but to my adult children, that you are fine just as you are. Be comfortable in your own skin. There’s nothing wrong with you. While I don’t take the “ain’t you special” approach, I do remind them that they are, for good or ill, the sum of their parents’ genetics. Praise or curse us, it matters not. You are who you are, and the happiest people in life are those who understand this and live life to the fullest with what they have been given.

 

Quote of the Day: God is My Bus Driver

john de lancie

Now, let’s jump from my impressionable years to just a few years ago. I was touring the country in a show about the Scopes Monkey Trial. Ed Asner was playing William Jennings Bryan and I played Clarence Darrow.

This was not Inherent the Wind. This was the actual 1925 trial transcript arguing the teaching of evolution in the public schools—an argument, I’m sorry to say, that’s still raging today for all the wrong reasons.

We were on the college circuit, but performances were open to the general public. During our month of touring, we were picketed, yelled at, and booed—most of the time before the show even started. At one of the universities, I was finishing up a Q&A for a group of 100 or so students when the teacher said he’d seen the play the night before and highly recommended it.

Then, with a wink in my direction, he turned and asked the class, “With a show of hands, how many of you believe the earth was created on October 22, 4004 BC?” Seventy-five students raised their hands. I was stunned. Speechless. My head dropped as I silently bore witness to the death of knowledge, the death of curiosity—wiped out in an instant by some religious nonsense—yet these college students believed it. And they were secure in their belief, you could even say smug considering the enthusiasm with which their hands shot up into the air, affirming: “I believe.”

In the green room that evening I told the cast about my experience. There was a young theater “groupie” hanging around, and I asked her if she would have raised her hand like the others.

“Oh yes,” she said.

“Why? In light of everything we know today, why?”

“Because I believe God is my bus driver.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t know what that means.”

“That I can sit at the back of the bus and party-hearty because God is driving my bus. And if the Bible says 4004 BC, who am I to disagree?”

“4004 BC is not even in the Bible,” I said.

“Well… I don’t know. That’s what I believe.”

“But that doesn’t make sense, you idiot. Next, you’re going to tell me that you believe vaccines give you autism; or that Obama is a Muslim; or that not having healthcare makes you free; or that AIDS is a punishment for being gay; or that Sandy Hook was staged.”

Of course, I didn’t say any of this. I just looked on in despair and half-heartedly asked her if God required exact change to get on the bus. She didn’t get the joke.

“God is my bus driver” precludes any and all critical thinking. It exposes this young woman to a lifetime of nonsense both benign and dangerous. It typifies the mindset of a segment of our population who can’t tell the difference between truth and fiction because they’ve wasted their formative years focusing on whether Adam wore flip-flops or walked barefoot in the garden—with his dinosaur.

The willingness of these twenty-first-century college students to believe the calculations of a seventeenth-century prelate, in spite of indisputable evidence to the contrary, is astounding. And because they’ve gone down this path, these young people are entering a world woefully unprepared for the challenges they’ll encounter. They will look at a hillside and see, perhaps nothing—certainly not iron ore. In their youth, they’ve not been encouraged to understand the world they live in, but rather have been directed to explore an imaginary world. They will enter adulthood with neither the disposition nor the skill to untangle complex, earthly problems. Healthcare, global warming—too complicated. Same-sex marriage, bathrooms—perfect.

— John de Lancie, The Humanist, Inspiration, Sci-Fi, and the Importance of Driving Your Own Bus, November/December 2016

Thus Saith the Lord: The Sun Revolves Around the Earth

john jasper

Famed 19th Century Preacher John Jasper

If, as Christians say, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God and is meant to be literally understood, shouldn’t Evangelicals believe the sun revolves around the earth? In the late 1800s, famed black preacher John Jasper preached a sermon titled ‘The Sun Do Move’. Here is some of what Jasper had to say (text edited for readability):

Now then, I have proved to you all these things as they are laid down in the Bible, chapter and verse. According to the text, Joshua showed in the sight of all Israel that The Sun Do Move, because he stopped it, by God’s command, for a whole day, as the text states. If he stopped it, that proves that the sun was moving, and moving over Joshua and the Amorites, and of course they were nowhere else than on this here earth, and consequently it was moving around the earth, and after the battle was over, it begun moving again in its regular course.

Therefore it is proved that the Sun Do Move around the earth. Now then, this great fact of the sun’s rotation may be illustrated by many powerful texts in the Bible : I will confine myself to the most striking ones. Notice Malachi, chapter 11, verse 2 — and that come from God’s own mouth, and their can be no properer authority than God’s authority. With His own lips he said, ” For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles.” What strikes us here is that the Sun Do Move ! ” My name shall be great among the Gentiles ” — (and we people of to-day is the Gentiles) — that, is an evidence that the Sun Do Move, for it’s God that says it. And take Ecclesiastes, first chapter, 5th verse : “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” That’s an evidence that he arose, for if he had not done left the place, he could not haste to where he arose. Again, in Psalm l, verse 1 : ” The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.” I illustrates this as an evidence that the Sun Do Move, for the psalmist is the inspired writer, authorized by the Almighty to say this. The following texts I put in evidence : Psalm 113, Verse 3 : — ” From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” Isaiah, Chapter 38, Verse 8 : ” Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees which is gone down in the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward ; so the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.” And Judges, Chapter 14, Verse 18 : ” Before the sun went down—.”

Now, from the expressions of all these texts, that is evidence that the Sun Do Move, for they were all inspired and written of God, of the Holy Spirit of God, who authorized to write these things. See, also, Jeremiah, chapter 31, verse 37: “Thus saith the Lord, if heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.” Here is more evidence. No man can measure the distance from the sun to the earth, according to this text. Thus God says this distance can’t be found out, for it is impossible to measure the foundations of the earth. “In the firmament is the tabernacle of the sun ; he is gone forth as from one end of the heaven to the other, and his circuit is to the end of the earth,” saith the psalmist. That is, instead of the earth’s circling, the sun is circling the earth. Therefore the sun’s rotation can’t be overthrown.

The philosophers’ reasons to the contrary is a matter of impossibility. They say there is a nation that at 12 o’clock in the day has their foots opposite us : now it is an utter impossibility for them to know that there is any nation under there doing so, as, witness in Jeremiah, 31st chapter, verse 37, where it says the foundations of the earth can’t be measured.

Ken Ham, defender of young earth creationism, says that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Ham believes, for the most part, that the Bible should be read and interpreted literally. According to Ham, God spoke the universe into existence, using six, twenty-four hour days to do so. Ham also believes Adam and Eve are the father and mother of the human race. Every crazy mythical story found in the book of Genesis — and the other 65 books of the Bible — is factual history. Why then doesn’t Ham embrace the geocentric model found in the Bible? In the aforementioned quote, John Jasper bathed his ‘sun do move’ belief in the waters of Holy Scripture. How dare Evangelicals deny the clear, unambiguous teachings of the Bible.

Just the other the day, Ham stated that the Bible is a science textbook that never changes, yet Ham holds to the heliocentric model espoused by modern science, and not the geocentric model believed by not only Jasper, but other Evangelicals today. Shame on Ken Ham for denying the Word of God and its infallible teachings. Why, this makes me wonder whether Ham is a closeted Bible-denying liberal!

Let me add in closing, that John Jasper is widely revered in some corners of the Evangelical world. His biography and sermons have been republished. I owned a copy of Jasper’s biography for many years. What a great man of God, I thought at the time. Standing on the precious truths of the word of God! While I didn’t embrace Jasper’s geocentric view, I did believe that God did, in fact, miraculously cause the earth (and all other planets) to stand still. Such is the ignorance required to believe that what the Bible says about scientific matters is true.

Christians Says the Darnedest Things: The Bible is a Science Textbook That Never Changes by Ken Ham

fish-in-a-bowl

Now, I’m glad the Bible’s not a textbook of science like those used in public schools, because it would change all the time. Many ideas have come and gone. For example, most of the evolutionary beliefs used by scientists in the transcript of the Scopes Trial have been abandoned—but God’s Word remains the same. It is the infallible Word of God—the true history book of the universe.

….

Secularists often accuse us of reading Genesis literally but not other portions of the Bible. We point out that we should read the Bible naturally. There is history (e.g., Genesis), poetry (e.g., Psalms), prophecy (e.g., Isaiah), and so on. Different genres of writing require different interpretative methods. Historical documents such as Genesis are not intended to be taken figuratively.

Secularists also attack Christians for not following Old Testament laws. But most secularists have no understanding of the Old Covenant and New Covenant—and they don’t want to. They want to distort and attack the Word.

I’m burdened for those described in the Bible as “having no hope and without God in the world”, which is why we boldly proclaim truth. My challenge to secularists is this: the evidence of creation is obvious, so “do not be unbelieving, but believing”  and “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”.

When you reject God’s Word in Genesis and interpret it through the lens of man’s fallible, opinionated word, more and more compromise is sure to follow. You see, when you start compromising in one area of the Bible, it isn’t long before compromise shows up in other areas. My challenge to all believers is this: believe all of God’s Word!

People are born and die, but “the word of our God stands forever” — and no person can ever change that! Secularists can’t change this: “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever”.

Many people try to change God’s Word, particularly in Genesis, but “forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven”.

— Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, Is the Bible a Science Textbook?, December 18, 2016

Are Children Born Atheists?

babies

Recent discussions on Fundamentalist Tony Breeden’s deconstruction of my life have revealed that I need to clarify something I wrote several years ago in the series titled From Evangelicalism to Atheism. In Part Two of the series, I said:

One of the questions I am often asked is, Why did you become an Evangelical or Why did you become an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist?

This is the wrong question. The real question is, how could I NOT have become an Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist?

Every child born into this world is an atheist. Not one of them knows one thing about god or religion, nor about sin, salvation, or morality. As far as god and religion are concerned, every newborn is a blank slate.

Belief in god must be taught and learned. This teaching is done by parents, extended family, and the culture/society the child grows up in. Children taken to a church, temple, or synagogue, are taught to KNOW god, to know their parents’ religion.

Most children embrace the religion of their parents. Parents who worship the Christian god generally raise children who are Christian. This is especially the case when it comes to Evangelical children. From the toddler years forward, Evangelical children are taught that they are sinners in need of salvation. They are taught that unless they ask Jesus into their hearts, they will end up in hell when they die. Every Sunday at church, at home during the week, and at school, if they attend a Christian school, Evangelical children face an onslaught of manipulative evangelistic methods geared to help them accept Jesus as their Savior.

The focus of discussion on Breeden’s blog is my contention that children are born into the world atheists. Scientific studies challenge this notion, so I want to clarify what exactly I mean when I say “Every child born into this world is an atheist.”

While there are tentative studies that suggest that humans have some sort of innate disposition towards religion/spirituality, this is hardly settled science. In a recent comment on Breeden’s post, Michael Mock had this to say:

  1. Claiming that human beings are born atheists or religious is at best misleading and at worst wholly incorrect; the actual state of affairs is more complicated than that.\
  2. Research has shown that children have this natural tendency to interpret features as if they have a purpose, but if you look at the incredible variety of human religious beliefs, it’s extremely hard to argue that “this naturally leads to a belief in a Creator God” when the vast majority of what it leads to is more along the lines of animism, pantheism, or polytheism. (Seriously, check out a book on traditional creation myths some time. They are, quite literally, all over the place.)
  3. If the tendency towards religious belief is a natural human trait (as we appear to agree that it is), then we should expect it to manifest more strongly in some individuals and less strongly in others – as, for example, some people are extremely artistic while others essentially have no use for art at all. Given “tendency towards religious belief” as a general human trait, the existence of a minority of atheists isn’t “abnormal” on the contrary, it’s expected.

Simply put, if humans have some sort of innate (biological) disposition towards religion/spirituality, it is the result of evolution, not the Christian God. Somewhere in our evolutionary past, it became advantageous for our species to have some sort of religious belief. As Michael makes clear, this belief was and is expressed in countless ways. Monotheism was a late-comer to the religion party, as the Bible clearly shows with its mentions of polytheistic cultures. In fact, a fair, unbiased reading of Genesis 1-3 reveals polytheistic, not monotheistic beliefs. (Please see The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.)

If this innate disposition leads people to embrace some sort of religious belief, it is certain that geography, along with sociological, cultural, and tribal influences determine what that belief will be. (Please see Why Most Americans Are Christian.) And that was the point of what I wrote in the post mentioned above — a subject I have returned to several times in recent years. Breeden, ever the young-earth creationist, seizes on minute scientific studies and findings and uses them as a jumping off point for his beliefs concerning the Christian God. What I find amusing is that Breeden — a man who rejects evolutionary biology — uses a trait possibly given to humans through our species evolution as “proof” of his Fundamentalist beliefs. Lost on Breeden is the fact that the vast majority of humans who have ever walked on the face of the earth have embraced Gods other than Breeden’s Evangelical God. Even today, Christianity in all its forms — many of which Breeden considers false religions — is a minority religion. Worse yet, WHICH Christianity is true Christianity? Evangelicals, believing that their God is the one true God, can’t even agree on crucial doctrines such as sin, salvation, the nature of God, baptism, and communion.

Leaving behind the scientific debate about whether humans have an innate disposition towards religion/spirituality, I want to conclude this post with a discussion of why people choose a particular religious belief (or none at all). The science is clear on this point: which religious beliefs people choose is largely determined by geography, along with sociological, cultural, and tribal (family) influences. All anyone has to do is look at a map of religion concentration to see that Christian cultures and families beget Christian children, Muslim cultures and families beget Muslim children, and Hindu cultures and families beget Hindu children. And as we are now seeing in secular, non-religious countries, secular cultures and families beget secular children. Here in the America, Evangelicals are alarmed over the rapid increase of NONES — people who are atheists, agnostics, humanists, or are indifferent towards organized religion. This turning away from religion is similar to that which has been going on in Europe for decades. Will this turning away from Christianity’s Gods ultimately result in most children not having religious beliefs? Time will tell. I know with my own children, I see a rising indifference towards religion. This indifference, of course, is being passed on to my grandchildren — to which Nana and Grandpa say AMEN! While several of my children still attend church, they have embraced expressions of faith that Evangelicals considered heretical.

In November of 2008, I attended church for the last time, finally admitting that I was no longer a Christian. Over the past eight years, I have, through my writing, attempted to give an open, honest accounting of my life. Part of this accounting is determining exactly how I became an Evangelical Christian and pastor and why I spent much of my adult life preaching a religion I now believe is false.

I was born almost sixty years ago to Christian parents who lived in a Christian country and a Christian community. My first few years of life were spent in Lutheran and Episcopal churches, but at the age of five my parents moved to California and while there met the Evangelical Jesus (and the God of the John Birch Society). From that moment forward, my parents and the churches we attended indoctrinated me in the one true faith — Evangelical Christianity. Is it any surprise, then, that I had several born-again experiences, attended an Evangelical Bible college, married an Evangelical girl, and spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches? Of course not. How could I have possibly turned out any differently from the way I did? I conservatively spent more than 12,000 hours attending church services, along with spending tens of thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible and reading religious books. I no more could have been an atheist than the Pope could be one. Everything in my upbringing and experiences told me that Evangelical Christianity was true and that all other religions were false.

For these reasons, it is rare for someone such as myself to embrace atheism. Most pastors-turned-atheists leave the faith at a much younger age than I did, leading some people to question my motives for doing so. Some atheists have even questioned my mental stability, saying that I should have figured out the truth about Christianity years before I did. What a stupid man you were, Bruce, to give fifty years of your life to a lie, some atheists say. Perhaps, but I was disposed towards being a true-blue, all-in kind of believer. This is why I find dismissals of my past by Evangelicals (and some atheists) so offensive. As countless people will testify, If anyone was a true Christian, it was Bruce Gerencser. That people find my current godlessness troubling and disconcerting is understandable.

How is it possible that the man they once called Pastor Bruce is now an atheist? One former parishioner and dear friend finds my story so troubling that he wrote to tell me that he couldn’t be friends with me anymore. My atheism was causing such psychological discomfort that he was losing sleep. He simply could not wrap his mind around how a Christian man so dear to him could now be working for Team Satan®. Several former church members have friended me on Facebook, only to unfriend me weeks later because they can’t stomach my atheism. One woman wrote to tell me that she really wanted to remain friends, but she couldn’t because she found my current life discouraging and depressing.

I receive frequent emails from Evangelicals who are having doubts about Christianity. I encourage these doubters to think about WHY they are Christians. Often, after decades of indoctrination, doubters think that the reasons they are Christians is theological in nature. They, after all, remember the date, time, and place Jesus saved them. What I try to do is get them to look at the geographical, familial, societal, and sociological reasons for their beliefs. If these doubters can see that it was outward influences and not Jesus that determined what religion they embraced, they are well on their way to understanding that all religion, including Christianity, is of human origin. Even if it is proven someday that humans have some sort of God gene, this will in no way discredit the human nature of all religions. The only way to dismiss the humanness of religion is to embrace the teachings of this or that religious text (texts that were written, drum roll please, by humans).  This is why it is vitally important to disabuse Evangelicals of the notion that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text written by God. Once they see that the Bible is NOT what their pastors, teachers, and religious culture say it is, they are then free to examine their beliefs in the larger context of why people embrace particular religions. And more often than, such inquiry will lead to their abandonment of Evangelical Christianity.

As long as the Bible, and not science, history, skepticism, and rational inquiry, rule their minds, Evangelicals will continue to think that they are Christians because God chose to save them. Until their minds are unshackled from the Bible, the only thing that can be said of Evangelicals is that they are fortunate to have been born in the right country to the right parents and immersed in the right culture so God could save them from their sins and make them members of Evangelical churches. Quite lucky, don’t you think? I wonder why the Evangelical God didn’t do that for most of the people who have graced the pages of human history? That’s a question for another day.

Sacrilegious Humor: Religion, Science, and Dinosaurs by Eddie Izzard

eddie-izzard

This is the forty-fourth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is a video titled Religion, Science, and Dinosaurs by Eddie Izzard.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Vice President Candidate Mike Pence Denies Evolution, Wants Public School Students Taught Creationism

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Here’s a 2002 video of  U.S. Representative from Indiana Mike Pence denying evolution on the House floor. Pence quickly reveals that he, like many creationists, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word theory. Pence does on to ask that other “theories” of beginnings be taught — you know like Biblical creationism. Pence is being disingenuous here when he says he want creationism to be taught alongside evolution. He wants no such thing, as he makes clear towards the end of his speech. Pence believes Genesis 1-3 is scientific fact, not just one theory of origins among many.  His grand hope is that everyone will one day know that evolution is false and creationism is true.

Video Link

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Is Man Getting Smarter? by Bodie Hodge

neanderthal

Our secularized culture teaches a strange history. We are told that we were once dumb brutes in an evolutionary past—no different from animals—but over the millennia we got a little smarter and came out of Africa and learned how to be farmers instead of hunters and gatherers.

Then we began building basic settlements and then civilizations and finally empires. So here we are sitting on top of the food chain because, unlike “other animals,” we have become smarter and smarter to become masters of our domain.

Okay, so this is a bunch of hogwash—man is made unique from animals and created in the image of God! But people believe these lies because this is what has been imposed upon them in secular schools, secular media, secular museums, and so on. Do you realize this alleged evolutionary history is not recorded by ancient historians in any culture? It is a modern fairly tale. It is a story that comes out of religions like secularism (including atheism and so on).

But as a result, kids of the next generation look at technology today and misunderstand it. They presume that, since we have more technology, we are “getting smarter” just like the evolutionary story says.
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After the Flood, a godly worldview dominated. As cultures deviated at Babel and down through the ages, man abandoned a godly and biblical worldview (of what had been revealed from Adam down through Noah) in favor of man’s flawed ideas (i.e., forms of humanism). As they began worshipping ancestors and false gods, their general worldview deteriorated into many various paths of paganism.

This affected science and innovation in a general pattern. It caused technology to remain nearly stagnant—with a few exceptions of course. A mind and culture with little hope has little desire to grow in the knowledge of God’s world (albeit sin-cursed and broken). Many worldviews even deter science and technology because of their very nature (e.g., animism). Animism, for example, has spirit beings that help or harm human interests in the physical world. Thus causality, which is the basis for observable and repeatable science, is meaningless because aspects of nature are controlled by the spirits rather than by a God who has promised to uphold things in a consistent fashion. (For more on world religions read World Religions and Cults Volumes 1–2.)

As Christianity began to explode in Europe prior to AD 1400, people began returning to a godly, biblical worldview leading up to the early modern period. This gave them the proper understanding of the world around them. Acknowledging that our all-knowing (Psalm 147:5) and all-powerful (e.g., Jeremiah 32:27) God upholds the world (Hebrews 1:3) and that He has promised to do so in the future until the end (e.g., Genesis 8:22) gives us the basis for doing observable and repeatable science. This presupposition is vital to make science possible.

As a result Christians began systematically studying the world and how it works (operational science). Most fields of science were developed by Bible believers—even the scientific method was developed by a young-earth creationist, Sir Francis Bacon!6

As Biblically based science erupted, technology, knowledge, inventions, and innovation built one on top of the other. This brings us to the world in which we live, built on centuries of technology.
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I humbly suggest that as the culture moves away from a biblical understanding of the world, so will they also miss out on certain scientific advancements—or at least delay them. Consider the unbiblical worldview of millions of years: researchers never thought oil could be produced quickly because they had been indoctrinated with the idea that oil production took vast ages. Yet oil can be made in 30 minutes from algae.12

Imagine if researchers in the 1960s had been thinking correctly (i.e., a younger age of the earth and thus rapid oil production at the time of the Flood) and had developed technology based on that truth. It could have revolutionized the oil industry in our current age! Instead, researchers only recently figured it out.

I want to encourage you to think biblically. The Bible makes sense of the world and makes sense of science and technology. Even so, we are in a world where the Bible comes under increasing attack, and secular scientists want to divorce science from the Bible (see “Is Science Secular?”). Science exists because the Bible is true. There is no reason to suppress this knowledge (Romans 1:18–21).

According to the Bible, man has always been brilliant—both in the past and in the present. The difference today is that we have more accumulated knowledge and technologies.

— Bodie Hodge, Answers in Genesis, Is Man Getting “Smarter”?, October, 2016

Is Religion Another Away of Understanding Truth? by Sean Carroll

god-creating-earth

Contrary to what many Evangelical apologists think, scientists do not have (or think they have) answers for every possible question about the universe, life, and human existence. While science does answer many questions that humans deem important, there are yet many unanswered questions that scientists diligently seek to answer. Because science does not have ALL the answers, Evangelicals often say that religion is another empirical and equally valid way of determining and understanding truth. Of course, when science conflicts with religious truth what happens? Most Evangelicals reject that scientific truth, and put their faith in what the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God says about the matter. This is why there are millions of American who believe the universe is 6,021 years old, Adam and Eve were real people, and the earth was destroyed by a flood 4,000 or so years ago. This is also why snake oil salesmen like Ken Ham can build million dollar monuments to ignorance such as the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.

As Physicist Sean Carroll makes clear in the following two-minute video, scientists do not have all the answers, nor have they ever claimed that they do. But, regardless of the lack of answers, science still remains the best way for us to understand our world.

Video Link

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: How to Effectively Reach the ‘Nones’

albert einstein god

An important new survey by Pew Research asks why people who were raised in religious homes but who now identify as religious “nones” – having no religious affiliation – decided to leave the faith of their childhood.

The results were varied, but according to the survey, “Half of ‘nones’ left childhood faith over lack of belief, one-in-five cite[d] dislike of organized religion.”

Of this half (more exactly, 49 percent) of “nones” who say they no longer believe, many “mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings” while others “reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ – or simply say they do not believe in God.”

Of the 20 percent who cite their dislike of organized religion are “some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”
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What is God’s solution to this growing problem of religious “nones”? It can be summed up in three words: truth, encounter, and consistency.

Specifically, I’m referring to biblically-based, academically-sound truth that answers the questions and refutes the lies; divine encounter, as in a real, life-transforming experience in God; and a consistent, Christian witness full of integrity and authenticity.

Of course, even with all this, there will be people who disbelieve and reject the faith, just as there have been in every age. But as we do a better job of disseminating the truth, as we help people come to know the Lord for themselves (as opposed to simply knowing about Him), and as we live out our faith without hypocrisy, many of these “nones” will return to God, while some will genuinely come to Him for the very first time.

With regard to truth, I am convinced that the more scientific discoveries we make, the more we must realize that there had to be a Creator. As expressed by the British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

There is today a robust field of Christian apologetics focused on the questions of the origins of the universe and the claims of Darwinian evolution, and it includes highly-respected scientists and scholars who affirm unequivocally that all the evidence points to the existence of an intelligent Creator. There is also a growing body of learned Christian philosophers who are responding with clarity to the great moral questions of human suffering and apparent divine indifference.

Along with this are the many solid teachers and professors and authors who are providing sound responses to the wide-ranging attacks on the reliability of the Scriptures and the exclusive claims of the gospel.

So, there are answers to the many questions that are being raised on university campuses and on the internet. We just need to do a better job of getting those answers out, thereby helping many of these “nones” regain their lost faith (and helping others not to lose their faith in the first place).

— Michael Brown, God’s Solution to the ‘Nones’ Who Have Left the Faith

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Secular Scientists are Con Men

science neil degrasse tyson

The church has a problem. It has been invaded by those who take the words and methods of the unbelieving world who use those deceived ideas to alter God’s word and teach what God has not taught. They also misrepresent God casting a different picture about him, one that God does not paint of himself.

Sadly, these people are respected and held in high esteem and many in the church are led to alternative beliefs which are not of God and not Biblically taught. In this piece we are going to look at some of the favored ‘tools’ used by secular and alternative believing people as well as two theories, which are also held in high esteem.

There is an old saying, ‘when confronted with printing the truth or the legend, you print the legend.’ That is what secular science does. It prints the legend, the best explanation, not the truth. As Dr. Del Ratzsch recorded in his book, The Battle of Beginnings, and many other authors have done so as well, secular science does not want God as a part of their work and when you remove the truth from guiding you then you have no hope of coming upon the truth.

Yes they do get bits and pieces of truth but every con man knows that if your con is void of any truth it will not hold up. Some truth has to be included in order for the lie to sound convincing and work.
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Observation: Many in the secular scientific field place a high regard on this very inferior tool as they think observation is a key to understanding any given situation. Unfortunately for them observation can only lead to a multiple reasons for any action observed and the multiple choice they are left with only includes the truth as one possibility.
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Observation alone cannot ferret out the truth and it needs the help of other sources providing the correct information to get to the truth. Observation merely puts a person on the path to getting to the truth and if the observer makes an error or decides to go after false information then their work is worthless as any claims made from faulty conclusions could hurt innocent lives, just like interpretation does.

Prediction: This is pseudo-science dressed up to be factual science. There is no other term for this as predictions come from fortune telling not scientific, rational thought. There is no objective authority that states we are to use prediction in any of our investigations. In fact, in criminal investigations predictions are frowned upon and consider unjust and unfair.

Why secular science has adopted this as a lynch pin in its work can only be answered by the fact that secular science is evil influenced and led not God led or influenced. The fact that secular scientists only proclaim the predictions that work shows how dishonest they are. The many unfulfilled predictions that so many scientists encounter are ignored as the secular scientist tries to present an ideal picture of their field of research even though those failed predictions would disqualify the secular scientist from achieving any credibility and demonstrate that their theory does not work and is not true.
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You will notice that the Bible does not teach the use of predictions but does state to thoroughly investigate a matter. Predictions are not part of a thorough investigation but a lazy, cheating way to avoid the truth and get one’s pet theory a hearing. These also allow for injustice to take place as well as teach people to accept lies over God’s truth.
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Secular Scientists: The believer needs to remember one very important fact about secular scientists. They have not been redeemed by Jesus, they have not been made a new creature nor has the old man been removed from their lives.

These people are deceived, blind and under the influence of evil thus their ideas, theories, conclusions, etc., will not be the truth. Though they may contain elements of the truth, this is merely a trap to deceive believers into leaving the truth for the lies of evil.

No amount of education, no amount of experience, no amount of conducted experiments will overcome this fact. The secular scientist remains in sin, a prisoner of evil and blind to the truth. At no time does the Bible teach that we are to follow the unbelieving world and at no time are we taught anywhere in scriptures that we are to adopt or adapt their theories, ideas or conclusions.

The choice is you either believe God or you believe secular scientists (evil) There is no middle ground.
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The believer is NOT anti-science, they are against the lies told by secular science and scientists. A guideline to this is if science disagrees with the Bible then it is not the Bible that is in error.
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Science, any variety, does not know more than God or the Bible.

— David Tee, TheologyAcheology: A Site For the Glory of God