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Posts Tagged ‘atheist’

I discovered this fascinating meme on Pinterest then, after confirming its authenticity (Jillette is half of the renowned Penn & Teller duo of magicians), I decided to see if my life as a Christian is compatible with his commandments.

Let’s go through the list.

  1. Intelligence, creativity and love are wonderful ideals. The last one, in fact, is so important that a section of the Bible called ‘1 John’ says “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”.
  2. Putting things or ideas above other people inevitably leads to disaster. Look at the misery caused by ideas like communism and fascism. Look how some people drive themselves into bankruptcy in their pursuit of a bigger house, fancier vehicles and more vacations. So I’m definitely with Penn on this one.
  3. Saying what you mean, even when talking to yourself, is a great ‘commandment’; how many of us delude ourselves—and others—through carefully worded deceptions?
  4. Putting aside time to rest and think is vital. In fact, it’s a pillar of Christianity. Not only does the Bible (which most Christians take very seriously) depict God as resting after creating the universe, one of the Ten Commandments (#4) tells us “Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work.”
  5. Loving your parents, partner and children is sometimes hard (given complicated family dynamics), but it’s still a no-brainer for pretty much everyone.
  6. Respect and protect all human life. Yes! That’s why most serious Christians are pro-life.
  7. Keep your promises. Of course. And this requires us to be very thoughtful about what promises we make.
  8. Don’t steal. So glad atheists like Penn agree with #8 in God’s Ten Commandments. 🙂
  9. Don’t lie. This one lines up with #9 in God’s Ten Commandments.
  10. Wasting time wishing, hoping and being envious? There’s nothing wrong with a little hoping. In fact, a section of the Bible called ‘Romans’ says “I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you will have more and more hope.” Envy? Another Bible section, ’Proverbs,’ addresses it this way: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

How about that? Turns out Christians and atheists have more in common than many folks might think. So, if you’re one of those people who leans toward atheism, maybe it’s time to give Christianity an open-minded second look.

In fact, you might find the ideas that (1) you actually have a soul and it’s vitally important to Someone, and (2) there’s an eternity beyond our 80-or-so years of working, eating and sleeping to be very attractive.

Your thoughts? Post them below and Let’s have a conversation.

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Lists are usually easy and fun to read, so I’ve been enjoying “32 Reasons to be an Atheist (as Opposed to a Christian)”, a blog by someone calling themselves ‘Violetwisp’.

Many of his/her points are worth consideration by people who are open to spirituality. Let’s check out a few of them:

1. You don’t have to get up on Sunday mornings if you don’t feel like it. This is referring to attending church services. Well, I’m a Christian and there are Sundays when I don’t go. People who follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) don’t have to go to church—indeed, going to church doesn’t make anyone a Christian, just as going to McDonald’s doesn’t make anyone a Big Mac.

The idea behind attending church is to be surrounded by people who are doing their best to follow Jesus. Together, we learn from each other and from our leaders what it means to be a Christian. And there’s no one taking attendance.

3. You don’t have to fake smile at people and pretend God is making your life wonderful. Sadly, there are lots of Christians who are faking their way through their faith. Sometimes, I’m one of them. The key thing that ‘Violetwisp’ misses here is that Jesus never, ever promised people that following Him would make their lives wonderful.

In fact, sometimes following Jesus makes my life harder—for example, I’m the only Christian in my biological family and that creates some challenges. But that’s OK; I didn’t decide to follow Him to put me on Easy Street. I follow Him because on my own, I can’t make me the person I want to be. But He can and, by the time this life ends, I’ll be much closer to that ideal person.

4. You can stop pretending that three gods are one god. This is referring to the Trinity, a key element of Christianity that says there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do I understand this fully? Certainly not. Does this cause me to lose sleep? Certainly not.

I don’t need to understand how the Trinity works to believe it, just as I don’t need to understand how airplanes defy gravity before taking a flight to visit distant family members.

11. You don’t have to worry about your god being racist, choosing only one ethnic group to care about, then deciding Europe and North America are worth it only in recent years, but Asia is a lost cause. Just because God started His mysterious, planet-changing work in the Middle East hardly means he doesn’t care about the rest of the world.

In fact, there’s a key section of the Bible, simply called ‘John,’ that fully explains how He thinks about humanity: God loved the world [that means everyone in it, including Asians] so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.

God wants all people—including YOU—to accept the gift of His Son and, through Him, have their sins forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven. Interested? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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This meme, helpfully supplied by an atheist faith community, left me puzzled.

The viewpoint, from the creator of the animated TV shows Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, sets up an adversarial relationship between faith and knowledge.

So let’s ask the question: are faith and knowledge compatible? Does one have to “win” over the other?

Consider the words from thoughtful people of faith (specifically, Christianity, which is my faith):

Blogger Tom Gilson (ThinkingChristian.net) says “belief doesn’t arrive out of thin air, or wishful thinking, or fear, or hopefulness, or (especially) pretending. There is a strong knowledge connection there.”

The website BibleAsk.org goes even further, stating “There is no such thing as ‘blind’ faith. Genuine faith is built on facts presented to the mind. In the Bible, faith and knowledge are never in contradiction. Knowledge always comes before faith, and where there is no knowledge there can be no faith. Without knowledge, it is impossible to have faith.”

The point here is that thoughtful followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) have no interest in the either-or relationship between faith and knowledge advanced by Seth MacFarlane and others. And they’re backed up by the Bible. Chew on these excerpts, all from a section called ‘Proverbs’:

  • Wise people want to learn more, so they listen closely to gain knowledge.
  • Intelligent people want more knowledge, but fools only want more nonsense.
  • Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.

Most Christians take these Bible excerpts seriously. In fact, some of those Christians, like author and geneticist Francis S. Collins, are among the most knowledgeable in the world and they work to advance knowledge, not hinder it. You can read about just a few of these people here: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-3o.

So that’s the good news. You can accept God’s gift of His Son — whose sacrificial death and amazing resurrection makes up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do — and also advance the cause of knowledge. Both are utterly, beautifully compatible.

Interesting in knowing more about Jesus and how He can make you into the person God intends you to be? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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As soon as I saw this meme, found in a Facebook atheist group, my “spidey-sense” started tingling because it presents a golden opportunity to tell you the truth about “belief systems”.

First of all, every person on this planet has a belief system, including atheists. I’ve had hundreds of online interactions with atheist people. In almost every encounter, I’ve found:

  1. They believe there is nothing behind all we see and experience
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  2. They believe humans have no soul, so when we die, all that we are becomes nothing more than rancid worm food (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s necessary).
  3. They believe all people of faith are deluded, lacking in intelligence and even dangerous.

So, what kind of belief system do YOU have? This is an important question because if you’re open to spirituality, then you have beliefs about existence and the universe. You might even have beliefs about what comes after this life is finished.

So…do you honestly think (as the meme suggests) that your belief system has submerged you in mediocrity and distracted you from the real dangers of our existence?

Let me toss something else your way. Think about the often horrifying history of humanity. Think about our culture as it is today—the obsession with social media and celebrities, the belief that being “politically correct” will somehow make life better for everyone, the fixation on getting more money, more “toys” and more power.

Does all this make you even slightly confident that humanity can somehow save the world without any help?

You might be feeling a little down now, so let me reveal a belief system that’s shot through with hope for you and for humanity.

This belief system starts with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. He loves every person on this planet, including YOU, He knows you better than you know yourself and He wants to be involved in your life.

What do I base this on? Consider these excerpts from the Bible:

All who love me [Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son] will obey my teaching. My Father will love them. My Father and I will come to them and live with them. (From a section called ‘John’)

You [God] know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts from far away. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. (From ‘Psalms’)

So how can you let God get involved in your life? Accept the gift of His Son. When you do that, God no longer sees the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. He only sees His Son’s perfection. And then Jesus comes into your life and starts to make you more like Him. It’s a process that won’t end until you’re in Heaven with Jesus.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Wow. There’s a lot of heavy stuff to digest here. So let me break it down as best as I can and hopefully help you see things very differently than the atheist who created and published this anti-Christian meme.

1.  As much as Christians may try, we can’t “save” anyone from spending eternity separated from the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Only God can do that, and thousands of years of history suggests that more often than not, He chooses to do that saving through very imperfect people like me.

2.  God has absolutely ZERO desire to “torture” anyone, even people that you and I may think deserve to be tortured. A section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’ describes God’s character like this: God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.

In fact, God wants every person on this planet to be in Heaven with Him and Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s Son. This can be infuriating to some people, because they want particularly nasty people to “burn in hell”.

I’m so thankful that God’s willingness to forgive everyone, for all the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do, is so much broader than any forgiveness even the best of us humans can ever offer. (Here’s just one astonishing example of God’s unfathomable forgiveness: https://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K.)

3.  Who puts who into hell? Consider the person who created this meme. He or she seems to have pretty good basic knowledge of the Christian faith. Not only has this person rejected every part of that faith, he or she has gone out of their way to make that rejection public.

The only possible conclusion from this is they’ve decided they want to spend eternity separated from their creator. So God will grant that wish, even as He’s patiently hoping they’ll change their minds (see the Bible quote above.)

4.  After everything I’ve written, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I can’t love, respect, worship or believe in the kind of god this atheist created, then rejected. So we’re absolutely in agreement on this.

I can confidently write that the creator of the universe has a gift for YOU. That gift is Jesus Christ—his life and astonishing teachings, His horrible death on a Roman cross (to make up for the “sins” of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him) and his triumphant resurrection.

All you need to do is accept that gift, then watch as Jesus enters into your life and begins to change you for the better, all in preparation for spending eternity with Him. Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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When I first encountered this atheist graphic, I experienced a moment of heart sickness because there are Christians out there who actually think like this.

I see this kind of horrific mindset every time someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) almost gleefully tells gay people or atheist people that they’re going to burn in hell.

it’s almost as if they think God WANTS some people to burn. Not only is that a sickening thought, it’s also wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here’s the truth, according to the Bible:

  • God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost, but have eternal life. (That’s from a section called ‘John’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth.)
  • God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning (from a section called ‘2 Peter’).
  • God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth (From ‘1 Timothy’).

Does any of this sound like God is holding a lighter, just itching to turn you into a screaming torch?

These Bible quotes point to an important bottom line: every person on this planet has done wrong and failed to do right. No exceptions. And this is serious business because according to the Bible, God is perfect and that’s His standard for judging all of humanity (see ‘Matthew’, another biography of Jesus).

When this life is finished, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ says every one of us will appear before God and have to somehow explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

I guarantee you it’s not going to go well. But God offers a solution: Jesus Christ. When Jesus was found guilty of ridiculous, trumped-up charges and crucified on a Roman cross, that death paid the penalty you and I would have to pay for our sins. He took our punishment on His shoulders.

I call that an extraordinary, life-changing gift. And that gift is available to EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done (or not done). As author Philip Yancey put it so well in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “God gave up His own Son rather than give up on humanity”.

How can you get in on this gift? Just accept it. That’s all.

When you believe that Jesus took the penalty for your sins and decide you want to follow Him, He’ll come into your heart and start a life-long process of making you the person God created you to be. And when this life ends and you stand before God, the only thing God will see is His Son’s perfection.

Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Have you noticed the stereotyping that guides pretty much every thought in this meme?

Yes, famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919-95) was doing a whole lot of spiritual profiling when she made this statement. Let me break it down for you:

1. The clear inference is people of faith–in this case, Christians, since a church is almost always a Christian building–will always construct a church before a hospital. Where on earth does this strange viewpoint come from?

I’m sure there are a few misguided followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) who think this way, but most are smart enough to realize “church” is NOT a building; it’s a body of believers who are doing their imperfect best to live for their creator and be part of the work He is doing in this very broken world.

This accurate definition means a “church” can meet in a school gym (and many do), a community centre or even someone’s living room.

So, I’m glad to conclude that just like Madalyn, I’d rather have a hospital constructed before a church.

2. Why must a deed be done before a prayer said? Why can’t the two happen at the same time? Believe it or not, prayer is often a catalyst to doing deeds.

Through prayer, people who follow Jesus Christ communicate with the creator and master of time, space and the universe. Through prayer, we discern what God wants us to do. Then we get out into the world and do it.

Evidence? check out the websites of Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Blind Mission, World Vision, Compassion Canada, International Justice Mission and many more. All the amazing work these aid organizations do is before, during and after prayer.

3. I guess I need to undertake a search because so far, I’ve yet to encounter even one Christian who strives to “escape into death”. Followers of Jesus Christ are deeply involved in life.

In my family alone, one stepdaughter has one child and another on the way. My stepson has two kids with another one coming. Oh, and while he’s being a father, he’s deeply involved in his church, sings in a community choir and helps out at the local bowling alley. Can anyone credibly tell me he’s striving to “escape into death”?

4. I’m happy to report that Christians are absolutely in agreement with Madalyn Murray O’Hair: we, too, want disease conquered, poverty banished and war eliminated.

We want this because not only will it make the world a better place, it’s what God wants. That’s why there are Christian doctors, Christian anti-poverty groups and Christian advocates for peace.

So, now that you know some facts about the people who follow Christ, are you more open to checking out the claims of Christianity? Our culture says don’t waste your time, but this is important stuff — now and after this life ends.

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