People criticise Christians for saying atheism is a religion, set of dogmas or a belief. Atheism is indeed a belief. Saying it isn’t is mere denial of the obvious reality. If I do not know whether a cat in a box is alive or dead, it is not a question of it being both, it is a question of which of these alternatives you believe. One will prove to be correct, but up to that point, both believe. The one who says the cat is dead is not able to say he has fact on his side in view of the absence of evidence of life. The cat is in the box.
If God means, as He tells us He does, to save a people based on their choice in faith and love, then forcing them into faith by parading himself means that the criteria would not work and we would be forced back onto works salvation. In such a case we would need to be good, and there obviously is a problem with being good. I can’t do it and neither can you. That’s why the whole world from Creation onwards contains a structure whereby we may in good conscience believe that the Creator came into Creation to take the punishment so that we could be forgiven based on belief, and so does the Bible. The Bible contains things which invite you to either dismiss it in scorn or to try to see things through the eyes of God. We are told truth in a way that the proud will find it only too easy to reject, while at the same time they readily absorb the lies of the world, from abiogenesis through to the idea that Satan is not controlling politics. The faithful on the other hand find it easy to believe God’s word, and are ultra skeptical about the lies of the world.
So both are belief systems. One is a belief system whose proponents know or ought to know is a belief system, the other is a belief system many of whose proponents think is honest science.
My answer to a question on Quora “Is there any defensible reason to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?”
God has made a world in which in some places you might see ten thousand penguins on a beach but the right mother hears the voice of its own chick and the chick recognises its own mother. When you have read the Bible and heard in it the voice of God to your heart, then this is a stronger case for inspiration than worrying about how to understand this verse if it seems to contradict that verse, etc etc. The way that God speaks to YOU in the prayerful reading of the Bible, this is God’s word to you. In order to get a balanced view it is a good idea to read the whole Bible, which creates a complete and internally congruous view of the development of the idea of salvation, from the law given to one nation, via prophets, judges, then kings, and the continual failure of people to keep a law that reflected the holiness of God, if only at times symbolically, through to an actual physical incursion of the Creator into His own creation, becoming one of us, and then sacrificing Himself to pay the ransome for our sins, enable an exit route from sin into atonement, resurrection and eternal life. This is the message that the Bible has and it is not the message of any other book other than books based on it.
If this be the meaning of life – and I find no better meaning anywhere on Earth in anything else, and all other explanations of what this life is for do not ring true to me – then the place this is revealed is in Scripture and I believe and defend that the Bible is therefore the inspired word of God, authorative, and containing sufficient for me to know so that I can believe the essentials needed to believe in order to find myself covered by the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.
One of my strange habits is that I don’t tend to walk around with the book I’m reading – I would be more likely to go somewhere with my goldlist book and my podcast player – but I do read a lot. I obviously read a lot on-screen, as does everyone in the internet, but this reading is a bit like the finger buffets where people are bringing you little bits of food all the time, and for people like me who need to control their intake it’s a nightmare, as you soon lose count. Whereas on the other hand sitting down to a plate meal where you can see what there is, that’s a bit like reading books. And I do a lot of that as well. Books … and plate meals also, as you can readily imagine.
Instead of taking the book with me, though, I have different books all parked in different places. I have one in one toilet, one in another toilet, one in the car to read when waiting for my wife to go into some shop, some at the Prague flat, some at the office, etc. Right now at my Prague flat I am reading the third book of Mr Germy Claxon, who is gradually becoming in the third book a bit boring and repetitive, which is something I’ll obviously have to watch out for if I intend to do any amount of writing. And also I’m reading Professor Richard Dawkins’ latest offering, “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
Some people may rub their hands in glee at the idea of a creationist finally reading Dawkins and getting some sense put in his head. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’ve read a good deal of the “best” evolutionists’ literature, including Dennett, Dawkins, Darwin himself, and the talk.origins FAQ finger buffet, to the degree that it is becoming, a bit like Germy Claxon himself, a bit predictable and repetitive.
Dawkins claims that in his new book (by the way he even gives this as his ‘raison d’etre’ for the book, like anybody ever needed an excuse to make a load of money) that he would put together the proof for evolution and finally put to bed the idea that there is any scientific doubt about it.
OK, so I started reading it in the hope that he will be successful. If he could prove it, it would change my worldview radically, of course, but I like to think I’m not so stupid as to go against something which is proven by what I understand to be scientific empiricism. Colour me disappointed then, but not in the least surprised, as I advance through the pages of this sizeable tome, to be confronted with, instead of any proof (and remember just one objective proof-in-total will do) a very long argument based more on rhetoric than on objective logic, which he calls “a softening up” procedure. He describes once again the ideas of evolutionists intertwining them with observations from Nature, some of them very well observed and well written, but all of which have more than one way of interpreting them, and he ignores the interpretations that a Creationist might give and links them in instead to his developing argument. This is a fine, readable work of interpreting a bunch of Natural History observations so that they fit one framework. It still doesn’t contain one single proof. If it did, it wouldn’t need to be so long and involved. Effectively, like so much other popular science literature, it is an exercise in making you think that they know things about how we got here which remain their faith-based mere conjecture.
Let’s face it, recently we had the 200th Anniversary of Darwin’s opus “On The Origin Of Species”, which led the press to dredge up such interesting facts on the incomplete success of evolutionist ideas as that most people on Earth still believe in some form of Creator, and where are the ideas of Creationism held most strongly? In the world’s most advanced country and most powerful economy, the United States. This is not a result of people being sheltered in Bedouin huts from the progress of science – this is a result of “science falsely so-called”, as the scripture identifies certain thinking, being unable to furnish adequate proofs to convince even the more sophisticated populations that it is anything more than an alternative system built on as much faith and wishful thinking in the final analysis as our religious one is.
And it has always been my view that in the end it depends on what you wish to believe. If you wish to believe that there isn’t a God, if you wish there were no God, then naturally you will allow yourself to be persuaded by these long books which in the end all go around in circles and prove nothing. If you wish to believe there is a God, then you can read anything that the humanist press have got to throw at you and you’ll find it quite faith-confirmatory to see that the thing the atheists believe has unanswered questions that you could drive a truck through.
Let’s be clear – people who think that they can “prove” evolution are as misguided as people who think they can “prove” creationism, so-called creation scientists, who are, basically, Christians and Muslims who need some kind of empirical prop when they ought to know better. God patently hasn’t ordered this world so that either side can find true proofs of their convictions. He has clearly ordered this world to give you the possibility to believe what you choose, even in the face of a convincing alternative. In so many areas we have a problem with freedom of will. We want to be good but the flesh stops us, we want to do this and do that but we have to contend with the world, the flesh and the devil, but at least in one area we should, every one of us, consider ourselves free, and that is to select whether we choose to believe in God as Creator and Redeemer, or some faceless algorithm that sees no sins and offers no redemption. You make that choice in your heart and mind, regardless of whether you are “good enough” to believe it. Forget about that. All God wants is for you to choose to believe Him, the main recurrent theme of the Bible, and especially the Gospels. He is perfectly able to do the rest, and did do it, on Calvary.
In some cases Richard Dawkins argues very well for things which I as a Creationist believe in and he actually strengthened my arguments, rather than destroyed it. So much for the Evolutionists thinking that we only don’t believe their guff because we won’t read it, we want to be sheltered from it, and we do read it, we are too stupid to understand it. He shows, for example, in an early part of the book how fast selection can lead to speciation, and it turns out this is a good deal quicker than science has in the past believed. The origin of the silver fox is a great illustration drawn by Dawkins for this point. This is a great argument in favour of my view that an awful lot of speciation has indeed taken place since the Flood, only without additional genes being added – these speciations have basically been attenuations of the genetic variation that was intrinsic to created animals in the first place. This is why we have many more species today, despite extinctions, than could possibly have fitted into the Ark, and yet the Ark account given in the first Book of Moses is, in my view, authoritative history.
If both systems, creationism and evolution, in the end boil down to what you believe, and not proof, then of the two I prefer the one which predicts a world in which you need to take things on faith, namely the Christian model, rather than the one which anticipates that we will find answers to everything by science, which is the so-called “rationalist” model which favours evolution. What we actually see, ie, that neither side knows the answer and can only believe, is consistent with much Christian philosophy, but undermines the premises of rationalism entirely, which is based on the idea that we only accept empirical proof, making the presumption that things which we are to accept and understand are susceptible to such empirical proof. Religious texts tell us straight that they are not susceptible, and that, in the words of Christ, we may not “put the Lord our God to the test”. Empiricism is entirely about testing, by its very definition. Therefore Christ dismisses empiricism, which should embolden any Christian to question the rationalists’ approach to science, in which they seem to promise that sight proofs will be forthcoming. Christ made this world, and He did not make a world that was going to answer empiricists’ questions. He made a world in which every single scientific discovery actually raises more questions that it answers: questions whose answers we will fully know in the promised resurrected eternity.
There is too much bluff and show in “the Greatest Show on Earth”. In fact, that’s pretty much a summary of what it is. It certainly contains fascinating facts, beautiful writing, great photography and images, but in the end it is true that Evolutionism is the greatest show on earth. It is a show, and not reality. So thank you for admitting it.
Rounding off for aesthetics’ (please note – not “atheistics”) sake with the same analogy I came in on, I will say that Dawkin’s book is a large plate of tasty food, but it is comfort food. It is not a balanced diet. You need protein, carbohydrates, fats, roughage, vitamins, minerals and water all in balance. To get a proper world view you need to use your faculties, you faculties for both rational an logical thought and onference from objective observation on the one hand, and your capacity for faith in what is revealed that you cannot have proven, on the other. That is a balance that Dawkins seems to have lost. I’m not getting my mental five-a-day from his latest book, just a re-hash of the same old arguments claiming to be what they’re not. It is a plate of philosophical bubble and squeak, with the odd reheated bit of sausage turning up in it – but a far cry from the greatest meal on Earth. There’s another Book that lays claim to that, and it tells us far more about the Origin than modern science can.