Mini Book Review of ‘The End of Reason’ by Ravi Zacharias

endofreasonThe End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias was written as a response to what has been dubbed ‘New Atheism’. Primarily, it was written to refute the philosophy of atheist Sam Harris who wrote The End of Faith.

Zacharias’ arguments in this book are logical, concise, and articulate. I love the way his brain works! Zacharias is an evangelist and apologist that brings a unique perspective to theology and philosophy. He is an “Indian-born Canadian-American” with a Master of Divinity, several honorary doctorates, and an undergraduate degree. He brings to the table a command of logic and language that is unparalleled along with a cultural experience that is uniquely his own. Because of his unique background, Zacharias writes in a voice that is distinctly his own – and I appreciate that.

This book makes short work of the philosophy championed by Sam Harris and others. Zacharias places the worldview of new atheism alongside that of Christianity and exposes the hate, despair, and hopelessness of the new atheist. As Zacharias unravels the arguments of Sam Harris, he exposes them as illogical and unfulfilling.

On a side note, Zacharias writes as a former atheist who was once on the brink of suicide. His experience seems to have ignited in him a passion for revealing the illogical endgame of the new atheist and in this book he does so in remarkable fashion.

 

Review of ‘The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw’ by Norman L. Geisler and Daniel J. McCoy

fatalflawThe field of apologetics can be classified into two categories, negative and positive. Negative apologetics is concerned with making a defense of the Christian faith while positive apologetics is more concerned with attacking the beliefs of non-Christians. This is book is, by and large, a work of positive apologetics as it furiously attacks the inconsistencies held by atheists.

Geisler and McCoy spend a great deal of time clarifying the arguments of popular atheists through extensive research and quotations. In fact, there are moments throughout the book I felt they were articulating atheistic thought too well. It is not an overstatement to suggest Geisler and McCoy understand atheistic claims far better than most atheists I’ve encountered. The two dive deep into the subject and articulate the opposing position clearly and fairly.

Using atheist’s own words to frame their arguments, the authors expose some major inconsistencies in atheistic thought. Primarily, these inconsistencies lie in the area of moral evil, God’s intervention, and the atheist’s own concern with human autonomy. While atheist’s condemn a God who doesn’t directly intervene in the face of moral evil, they accuse Him of violating human autonomy when He does intervene.

Basically, this book destroys atheistic philosophy. One could argue that the authors could spend more time focusing on negative apologetics and defending Christian philosophy, however, this is all implied when not directly stated. As it stands, this book can be read in just a couple of hours and does a good job of articulating the authors’ positions from beginning to end.

I highly recommend it.

 

The Source of Hope: My Response to Anderson’s “No Kingdom Come”: Part 2

nokingdomC.J. Anderson’s book, No Kingdom Come, ironically opens with a chapter titled “Awakening.” It is ironic because rather than depicting something gained – as the word “awakening” would suggest – the chapter depicts a loss. Anderson has closed his mind to the possibility of God. He writes, “My soul was gone and what I feared most was true: we are all just evolved animals, and life is just a cosmic joke.”

The realization that mankind was nothing more than animals pushed Anderson to the brink of suicide; he likened his situation to that of a wounded soldier who wakes up in a MASH unit to discover the loss of his legs. Anderson had lost his faith. Crushed, suicidal and hopeless – adrift in the knowledge that fourteen years of following Christ was a “beautiful lie.”

Does this really sound like an “awakening?”

Anderson writes that he was suddenly aware there was “No eternal life, no Heaven, no Paradise. Just death.” The curious reader must ask where this sudden realization originated. What was the source of this awakening? The answer to these questions are not addressed in the first chapter of Anderson’s boom, yet the conclusions he offers are uttered as if they are irrefutable facts. God does not exist! The promise of an afterlife is a sham! Anderson is awake while those still lost to the sham of Christianity still sleep. Blissfully unaware everything they hold dear is a lie.

Mankind has been struggling to understand their role in the world and their relationship with a Creator for thousands of years and all it took for definitive answers was for C.J. Anderson to suddenly wake up.

I don’t mean this to sound insulting; rather, I hope to expose a flaw in Anderson’s logic. Throughout his book, Anderson calls into question beliefs that have been forged by thousands of years of philosophical discourse, Biblical study, and thought based on the simple claim that he woke up. I wonder where his sudden knowledge came from. Who shared with him the secrets that have eluded mankind for so long?

Simply put, I question Anderson’s credentials. By what authority does he declare Christianity dead? These issues will be explored in more detail as we progress though his book.

For now, however, there is a more pressing issue. The first chapter of Anderson’s book opens by depicting him struggling to unload a handgun that had presumably been pointed at his own head. His “awakening” had led him to the edge of suicide. Somehow, thankfully, he restrained himself despite his newfound revelation that God doesn’t exist. It would seem worthwhile to take a moment and examine how one’s worldview influences their decisions in such moments.

Anderson writes, “… we are just dust in the wind, and that death is truly the end.” Imagine if this were your worldview. Imagine briefly that there was truly nothing after death. Anderson adds to the picture, “Every part of me wanted to die. There was no more hope …” I would humbly suggest that finding a loaded .45 pointed at his head should have been Anderson’s first clue that his “awakening” was not a positive shift in attitude. It wasn’t fourteen years of Christianity that loaded Anderson’s weapon, but rather the sudden cessation of belief – yet he’s bold enough to refer to his shift as an “awakening?”

If you’re reading this, or Anderson’s book, and find yourself considering suicide, please stop immediately and seek out help. Tell a loved one, friend, or professional. Ultimately, however, I believe it is evident the Christian worldview offers more hope to someone that is suicidal than does atheism. Thomas Kennedy writes in Christianity Today:

“We must understand suicide as free and uncoerced actions engaged in for the purpose of bringing about one’s own death. Once we define it this way, it is easy to grasp the church’s clear teaching throughout the centuries that suicide is morally wrong and ought never to be considered by the Christian. Life is a gift from God. To take one’s own life is to show insufficient gratitude. Our lives belong to God; we are but stewards. To end my own life is to usurp that the prerogative that is God’s alone. Suicide, the church has taught, is ordinarily a rejection of the goodness of God, and it can never be right to reject God’s goodness.”[1]

While Christians often make the mistake of coldly judging those who commit suicide, in truth, a Christian worldview provides the ultimate motivation to live. Christians see life as a gift from God. We are called to respond with gratitude by committing that life to serving Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches that we are created in the image of God, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). As such, our lives should be cherished and are inherently of value. One doesn’t need to debate the merits of Christianity verses atheism to admit that a Christian worldview is more conducive to life.

I think it is striking that Anderson’s “awakening” led him to the brink of suicide. The first chapter of his book serves as the perfect example of why a person who is hopeless, lost, and depressed should investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. The “awakening” atheism offers is akin to hopelessness. Christ is hope.


[1] Kennedy, Thomas. “Suicide and the Silence of Scripture.” Christianity Today. July, 2000. Web.

Why Respond to an Atheist? My Response to Anderson's "No Kingdom Come": Part 1

nokingdomC.J. Anderson is a former Christian turned atheist. His book, No Kingdom Come, is offered in digital format through Amazon.com. I first encountered C.J. in a theology/apologetics forum I frequent on Goodreads.com. Anderson’s claims are twofold. First, because God has never provided him with personal knowledge of His existence (like Christ had once provided the Doubter, Thomas) it must follow that He doesn’t exist. Also, Anderson claims that because God has allowed him to suffer in his personal life, it is evident that He doesn’t exist. Anderson challenged us all to read his book for a better perspective on his arguments.

I read his book and wasn’t necessarily impressed by his logic or his arguments. There is nothing really new about his position. Essentially, Anderson has succumbed to the age-old problem of evil. If evil and suffering exists, how could the Christian concept of God exist? However, in Anderson’s case, it is personal. The problems that caused him to recant his faith are personal problems. He blamed God for some very real pain he has experience. As I read his book, I thought briefly of offering an extended response; however, when I read his mission statement, I knew a response must be offered:

“My mission is clear to me: Write a book to destroy the book that destroyed my life. Write a book to destroy The Bible”[1]

Anderson’s mission statement is quite clear. He desires nothing less than to destroy the Bible. By extension, his goal would seem to be to destroy Christianity. He wants to destroy the faith my fellow Christians have in Christ. It’s not enough for him to disbelieve – he wants to destroy our faith. Anderson’s tactics are to raise huge accusations against God and then portray Him as incapable of providing any real answers. It is my assertion that the God of the bible does offer real answers. It is my assertion that God did not fail C.J. Anderson. Rather, Anderson’s lack of understanding and lack of faith failed him.

My mission in writing a response is clear. I want to offer a different perspective than Anderson. I want people who are suffering to have an alternative to Anderson’s voice. I want to encourage and exhort others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, I want to offer a defense of the hope I have placed in Jesus Christ.

“… always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” – 1 Peter 3:15.

Responding to Anderson’s book will involve a rather long series of posts. I will attempt to respond to each chapter, however, I reserve the right to skip around a bit as a couple of his chapters deviate a bit from his main arguments.

I hope you will follow along.


[1] Anderson’s book is digital and is not formatted to provide page numbers.

Books Read in 2012: No. 23 – No Kingdom Come

nokingdomAuthor C.J Anderson has suffered a crisis of faith. Essentially, this book poses the age-old question concerning God and suffering. Anderson answers the question by concluding a there is so room for God in a world that includes suffering.

Is it possible that Anderson is right? Is it possible that his fourteen years of following Christ was for nothing? I believe this is an important book because it is genuine. Anderson’s struggle with God is a real struggle with God. His questions are ones we all may find ourselves asking from time to time. Christians need to be aware that they may struggle with pain, loss, and suffering. Readers will find themselves empathizing with the author. My own heart broke as I read it.

The reader will discover that Anderson seems angry and bitter toward the God he professes doesn’t exist. He occasionally deviates from his main theme to rail against the notion of tithing (which detracts from his main argument some). My hope, however, is that this book will serve as a warning for Christians everywhere to learn more about the God of the Bible. We need to dismiss our presuppositions and study the Word of God if there is any chance for us to weather the storm of suffering in our own life. Anderson creates a false notion of God and suffering and then finds himself surprised at its failure to offer him any comfort in the midst of pain.

However, I am grateful for this book. I am grateful for the author’s honesty. I am grateful for the stark reminder that suffering does exist in this fallen world.

This book has struck a chord in me and I have plans to blog through it chapter by chapter after the first of the yea

Arrogance: First Impression of Onfray's Atheist Manifesto

I make a concerted effort to read books written by authors with world views opposed to mine. I find that there is a potential for growth when my views are challenged and my thinking stretched. At the very least, I often walk away from such encounters with a better understanding of the positions counter to my own. Such understanding makes it easier to share the gospel with those who think differently than myself.

It was in that spirit that I recently checked out The Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islamby Michel Onfray. The book is intended to take the philosophies of Kant and Nietzsche to the next level:

Kant is a monument of timid audacity. The six hundred pages of his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ contains the ingredients for blowing western metaphysics sky-high, but the philosopher ultimately shrinks from the task.

So a final push is needed to rekindle the flames of Enlightenment. A little more Enlightenment, more and more Enlightenment! Let’s be Kantian in opposition to Kant, let us pick up the gauntlet of boldness he throws down – without daring to act boldly himself.

It is with this goal that Onfray launches his attack on religious thought. What is immediately striking, however, is the arrogance of his approach. Onfray pities the believer like one may pity the mentally ill:

I do not despise believers. I find them neither ridiculous nor pathetic, but I lose all hope when I see that they prefer the comforting fairy tales of children to the cruel hard facts of adults.

To Onfray, believers are like children hopelessly courting fairly tales while he and his fellow atheists tend to adult business. He may not hate or despise believers, but he certainly sees them as mentally deficient. Religion, according to Onfray is a mental illness – an illness whose only cure is atheism:

Atheism is not therapy but restored mental health.

Onfray’s arrogance is reminiscent of other noted atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Unfortunately, they launch their arguments from such a condescending platform that anything of value they may have to say is lost amid their audacity.

This stands in stark contrast to Christianity which teaches that God created all men and women in His own image (Gen. 1:27). The student of the Bible is taught to be humble in spirit. When we’re tempted to think too highly of ourselves, the God of the Bible reminds us that He doesn’t show favoritism (Gal. 2:6) and ultimately, God sacrificed His Son for all men (John 3:16). Christ’s act on the cross paved a path to God that is just as available to Michel Onfrey as it is Billy Graham.

Without reading a single argument from Onfray it becomes obvious that his views create an atmosphere contrary to civil discourse. How should the atheist (of Onfray’s ilk) hope to convince anyone when he makes it clear from the onset that his opponents are essentially mentally ill? Onfray clearly doesn’t respect the intelligence and reasoning abilities of the Christian. As a result, his arguments fall on deaf ears and serve only as cannon fodder for those who already subscribe to his beliefs.

The genuine Christian, however, sees value in all people as the image-bearers of God. It is because they recognize this value in their fellow human beings that they engage them in the first place. Onfray’s brand of atheism begins with the premise that Christians are mentally ill while Christianity begins with the premise that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Do you see the difference?

Without considering a single argument from either side it’s clearly more beneficial to adopt the attitude espoused in the Bible. Onfray’s worldview leads to an attitude that devalues and condescends his fellow man. Discipleship to Christ leads to a world view that appreciates and sees value in all men.

What a difference Christ makes.

 

 

 

What if There Were No Heaven?

(This post originally appeared on the now defunct centurybound.com blog on December 22, 2005. It appears here with some major rewrites from the author.)

While surfing the internet, I happened upon the blog of an atheist who was asking the following question of her readers:

“How many people would believe in a god if there were no rewards promised to the self for doing so?”

This rather loaded question is a complicated one. It is actually not meant to be a question, but rather an attack on the principles of Christianity. The atheist is suggesting that the Christian faith is a selfish one and insinuating that if there were no promise of Heaven, there would be few, if any, Christians. There is no chance I could ever answer the question to this particular atheist’s satisfaction because I suspect she believes she already knows the answer. Furthermore, I’m not sure there is a way to know the answer. Since there is a promise of Heaven, I have no idea how many Christians there would be if that promise was ripped out from under us. I suspect, rather sadly, there would be less. Possibly much less, but that is just a guess. I know that in my own experience, Heaven did not enter the equation. I chose to believe in God because I had an encounter with Him that began to make sense to me intellectually. I then chose to believe in Jesus Christ (and the Christian faith) specifically for an abundance of reasons – none of which were Heaven. I sort of see Heaven as the icing on the cake. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the promise is there; but my faith doesn’t hinge on it.

I believe we can examine this question introspectively in a way that can help us examine our faith. What if today, we pondered the following question?

Would you still follow Jesus Christ if there were suddenly no promise of Heaven?

If our answer to this question is ‘no’, I would suggest that we may be on shaky ground spiritually. I spent the majority of life before Christ creating a particular version of God in my mind and then imposing those values on the real God. For instance, the God I created was all knowing and all powerful. He had created this world and then stepped back to see what would happen. He was a fair God who would allow pretty much anyone into Heaven provided they tried to live a good life (you know … paid their taxes, supported their children, didn’t kill anyone … that sort of thing). It was only when I humbled myself that I realized I had no right to impose my beliefs on God. If God were real, I had to allow Him to teach me about Himself and accept even what I didn’t understand. I had no business trying to invent God in my image. I had to understand and apply the old saying “Father Knows Best.” In other words, if God, in all His wisdom, suddenly decided there should be no Heaven, I would have to accept it – even if I didn’t understand it. I can’t worship God because of what He promises me, rather, I must worship God because He deserves it.

I am so thankful that my God has promised me Heaven. I also believe there is a hell. Hell, in my opinion, is proof that God loves us. How’s that you might ask? Well, if what we really want is a place that is free from the presence and influence of God, he will provide it for us even though it breaks His heart to do so. That place is hell. It’s not God that makes hell such a terrible place … it is the complete absence of God’s influence that makes hell so bad.

Even though I have a concrete belief in Heaven and hell, I can’t make that the focal point of my faith. Why? Well, if all I do is think about the future … someday far in the future … I am ignoring one of Jesus’ most powerful lessons. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. What did He mean by that? I think He meant that we can experience Heaven right now in our mortal life. If hell is the total absence of God, then Heaven is living in God’s presence. In fact, Heaven is more than just the presence of God – it is a place where God’s Will is done. We can experience God’s presence and live in His will right now. If we spend all of our time looking towards the future, we will miss out on the beauty that is Heaven on Earth.

Think about it … we all know the bitter and depressed Christian who lives a miserable life and constantly talks about Heaven in the future tense. My heart goes out to these people. Thank God they have the promise of eternal life from the One True God to keep them going. I am not suggesting that it would be healthy to totally forget about our promise of Heaven; I just pray that someday we can all experience a shadow of Heaven right now!

Center for Pointless Inquiry

Okay … the Center for Inquiry recently sponsored one of the dumbest competitions I have ever seen. To enter, a contestant needed to create a statement, phrase, or poem that would normally be considered blasphemous. The competition was a part of Blasphemy Day 2009. Normally, I try to ignore stupidity on both sides of the spectrum; however, this one has me fired up for some reason. The Center of Inquiry is an organization that hopes to foster in a world, “devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.”  In other words, a world of free-thinkers, provided you aren’t thinking about God or religion.

Blasphemy_Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m all for free-thinking and I am fairly certain God is as well. My common response to the question of why a good God would allow anyone to go to Hell is that He obviously thinks it is important for people to be free to reject Him. I believe that free-thinking is an inalienable, God-given right. I also believe that stupidity of this nature should be exposed and confronted.

One of the goals of the Center for Inquiry as presented on their website is to end the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever. I’m all for that goal as stated. I believe that atheists are every bit a creation of God as I am; however, I believe that competitions such as the “blasphemy challenge” reveal more about the organization than they will ever admit. I suspect their real goals are less about ending the stigma attached to nonbelievers and more about reattaching that stigma to Christians. The competition is unproductive, divisive and should be an insult to all free-thinkers … religious or not.

I'll Take One Science & Religion Cocktail … Shaken, not Stirred

While watching this debate between pundit Bill O’Reilly and atheist Richard Dawkins, something within me snapped. I suddenly grew very tired of the entire religion versus science debate. Rarely is anything ever accomplished when these two sides clash; both have dug in their heels and are unwilling to budge. At this point, the entire dialogue has been reduced into a bunch of blustering sound bytes.

Perhaps my perspective is a little skewed. I’m in favor of both Christ and science. Obviously, I am a Christian. I believe that the Bible is inspired and fully confess a belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am also a fan of science. Perhaps due to all the episodes of Star Trek I’ve watched in my life I am a huge proponent of space travel. I can get lost for hours looking at the images of space that NASA provides on their website. Also, I lost a mother to cancer and have a child with type one diabetes and a step son with epilepsy, so I get a little jazzed up anytime the news reports that scientists are one step closer to curing these and other diseases. Simply put, science is cool.

I do not believe; however, that science and faith-based religions are at odds.

I think atheists are out of line when they suggest that faith should play no part in science; rather, I feel that faith should be the driving force behind science. Let me explain. To be human is to be curious. The human race is born with an innate desire to explore and learn. We are programmed to ask really big questions. This programming, much like our innate moral code, comes from somewhere beyond ourselves; I would suggest the possibility that it comes from God. Dawkins and his kind suggest we should stop short of asking the really big questions. It is okay to ask how the human machine works or how it came to be what it is, but the second we ask “who” put the machine in motion, atheists slam on the brakes and tell us we’ve gone too far. I’m sorry, but if science is unwilling to even entertain the big questions, I want new scientists.

For example, when I look at a great piece of art, I can study its lines, shape, and composition for awhile, but eventually I’m going to want to know who painted it. To become truly intimate with a piece of music, you must eventually come to know the composer. Who was she? What type of mood was she in when she wrote it? Of what culture did she belong? Without asking these questions, we might as well examine art with our eyes half shut.

In all honesty, I don’t expect science to answer all of the big questions. Along with our innate curiosity, we are also born with a certain uncertainty about life after death and God. Christ has eased many of these fears for me, but I would be lying if I told you all my questions have been answered. It might be a little idealistic to believe that science can answer all of these questions; however, it is inspiring to know that every time there is a scientific breakthrough, we are one step closer to understanding our creator. I believe science has a high purpose that is encouraged by God. Scientific proof may not be required to believe in God, but if God is real, He can teach us and speak to us in a variety of ways including the Bible, His creation, and science.

It might surprise you to know that students in the United States currently rank 29th amongst other developed countries in science education. Atheists tell us we shouldn’t allow the big questions that concern creation in the classroom. Perhaps if we were able to ask those big questions and hint at the possibility of a God, our children would be inspired to accomplish more.


The God of the Atheist

AI think I am so interested in Atheism because I used to claim it for myself. I used to declare quite vehemently that God did not exist. I was appalled at the idea of sacrificing my will for a God who would figure my every step out for me. I frequently visit atheist blogs (of which there are many) and am always stunned by how bold and militant (I use the word militant to describe the tone of their discourse, not because I actually believe they are armed and dangerous) many have become in their opposition to Christianity. Of this, I have noted two common threads. First, it is only Christianity that elicits such a response from the atheist. Of course they may object to all faiths that claim a higher power on paper, but it is only Christianity that makes their skin crawl. Secondly, most of the “militant”  atheists are former Christians. Normally, they were raised by devout fundamental parents who forced them to go to church. In each case, they are able to tell their stories in great clarity of how they were wronged by their parents or their denomination. They remember with much angst every Christian they have ever met that fit the stereotype of the close-minded, Bible-thumping, fundamentalist that hated gays, women, and minorities all in the name of God. In most of these cases, I must admit, they are right. This post; however, is not aimed for such the atheist. Before I continue please allow me to offer the slightest bit of chastisement. If you fit the above description and have allowed a bad experience with a Christian, denomination, or family member the throw you into a tailspin and out of a relationship with God than shame on you. You should of had the courage to stand up in the face of such absurdity and proudly announce that the God of Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Mary found such behavior sickening. You should of had the foresight to study Scriptures and learn what the true living God felt about the behavior of His followers. You have allowed the actions of men to dictate how you feel about God and for that only you will be held accoutable. Quit using the actions of others as an excuse to be hateful, spiteful, and stupid.

Now that I’ve made a bunch of people mad at me … let me continue.

This post isn’t intended for those listed above. It is intended for the atheist who feels that perhaps they have made a mistake. Maybe they can’t decribe it, but there is a feeling in their gut that tells them there is a God out there somewhere. Maybe they’ve witnesses little hints of His existence but can’t quite put their finger on it. I know you’re out there because I used to be just like you. Even when I was boldly declaring there was no God there was a part of me that wondered if I was wrong. I didn’t know in what form God existed, but I slowly came to believe that He did. It was if the more I denied Him … the more I wondered about Him.

If this is your case, than I pose the following question to you. Which God will you claim? Which God is the God of the Atheist?

I suppose you could create your own deity. Perhaps you could sit down with  your old D&D buddies and create the perfect God from scratch. You could first decide what qualities you would want in a God and then create the being and a theology to match. This might work for awhile, but it surely will not satisfy your curiosity. It would be a bit like trying to satisfy a deep hunger with the mud pies you made as a child. It may look like real food but it lacks the necessary ingredients to sustain your body. Let’s pretend, for an instant, that you are desperately lonely and in need of a friend. To meet this need you, like many children before you, create and imaginary friend; we’ll call him Ralph. Ralph may be fun to play with for a little while, but what happens when you are hurting and need a real shoulder to cry on? What happens when you are being bullied and need actual fists to come to your defense? What happens should you need a simple hug. Ralph will work just fine until you are in real need of a friend and then he proves inadequate. It is the same way with a false god of your imagination. The false God will only work until you need the real deal … then you are up a creek. So let’s dismiss this notion right away.

If we have decided not to design a god from scratch, we are left to consider some of the more popular religions of the world. Many of these religions are pantheistic. Of those, we can dismiss them almost immediately. Nothing can be more disturbing to someone with an atheistic bent than to find out there are multiple gods all around us … or that all things, including ourselves, are gods. There other holes within pantheistic faiths, but we are speaking only to needs of the atheist at the moment. While the leap from atheist to deist may seem incredible, monotheism should be somewhat more palatable to the atheist. Believing in one God seems to be a far shorter step for the atheist than believing in multiple gods. We can now dismiss pantheism along with a god of our own design.

This leaves us with only a couple of options left (if were are only examining the more popular faiths). I believe we can scratch Buddhism off the board right away. I’ve heard Buddhism described as being neutral on the existence of God and atheistic. Either way, it doesn’t meet out criteria. The atheist already doesn’t believe in god so to choose a religion that either has no opinion on the subject or denies His existence seems to be a step sideways at best and at worst a step backwards. Remember, we are trying to decide which god the atheist should choose … Buddhism may be a choice of religion or of practice, but it is not a choice of God. Thusly, Buddhism can be ruled out for th atheist.

After ruling out creating our own god, pantheism, and Buddhism;  we are left with the three great monotheistic religions of the world. I understand there may be a god worshiped on an island somewhere that I am leaving out, but I am trying to be realistic. As a result, we are left to examine Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Remember, this is geared for the atheist that is on the cusp of choosing a god. The following will not apply to everyone, but I ask that you momentarily put yourself in the shoes of the atheist.

Judaism: To the atheist, the conversion to  Judaism may seem a little overwhelming. To the best of my knowledge, it is virtually impossible to convert to Orthodox Judaism as there are matters of culture and birth to be considered. Also, according to the tenets of the Jewish faith, it isn’t necessary for a non-Jew to convert to Judaism to be considered righteous. In fact, if I understand it correctly, a person who converts to Judaism is held to far higher standards than one who doesn’t. At any rate, the difficulty of converting to Judaism seems to outweigh the benefits.

Islam: Along with Christianity, Islam seems to me more concerned with converting non-believers than other religions. You may expect that my arguments against Islam may include the beliefs that they convert people through force and kill those who choose to recant the Islamic faith. It may surprise you that I will not use those arguments. While it may be true that directions to kill and use force may be found in the Quran, it is certainly not the practice of most Muslims to do so. I think in some cases, Christians twist the words of the Quran around and take them out of context. Please note that I said in “some” cases, not “all.” I believe an extensive review of the Quran reveals many things the Islamic faith is lacking … but there is one specific item that Islam is missing that should deter the atheist from choosing Allah as their God. This lacking will be revealed when we examine Christianity.

Christianity: If the atheist scratches home-brewed religions, pantheism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam off of her list, she is left with one viable option; Christianity. The question is should the atheist scratch off Christianity as well and return to a Godless existence or give Christianity a shot. What follows is a a brief argument for the latter.

As an atheist, Christianity offers the only God that shares your doubts. Let me explain. In His defining moment on the cross, Christ exclaimed,  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). I’ve seen many armchair theologians debate this passage, but I can only assume that Jesus was expressing exactly what he felt at that moment. He felt alone and abandoned by God. At that moment on the cross, Jesus did not feel God the Father’s presence in His life. To be fair, many theologians will argue that this couldn’t be the case because to doubt God is a sin and Christ lived a sinless life, so they will come up with any number of explanations for what Christ said in His defense. For them, I offer the following thoughts; I entirely agree that Christ lived a sinless life, but considering His words on the cross, I can only assume that doubting God and feeling abandoned or alone is not a sin. Perhaps Christianity is teaching that it is natural in some circumstances to doubt, question, and feel alone.

In Christ, atheists will find the one God who entered the world to feel the same emotions they have. To quote G.K. Chesterton, atheists will find “[the only] divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”

Only one religion teaches that God entered our world and shared our doubts, pain, and took our sin upon Himself. It is Christ that all other religions lack.

Christ is the God of the Atheist.

Sources

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Reading Islam
Judaism 101
Holy Bible – NIV Translation