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John is a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 41st year working on a wide variety of projects. He works on churches, convenience stores, residences, and academies as well as industrial projects. He has helped in numerous property acquisitions and worked with real estate investors. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 55 years, he served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on "It's Your Call" TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage. John is a "Tentmaking Evangelist" (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 35th year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of three weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley, a weekly message from current events in California, and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many radio programs and written articles on the Internet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

TWO KINDS OF ATHEISTS

Date: Wed Sep 15 14:49:26 2010

"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Corinthians 2:6-8

I was inspired to write this article after speaking to a colleague who had attended an Episcopalian Church, but who now proclaimed himself an Atheist. I am writing this article for him as well as for many others who find themselves losing faith. Neo-atheists such as Christopher Hitchens sell many books and frequent talk shows arguing their points. They are the media darlings and so he was voted the 5th highest intellectual in the country. There was a time when the greatest intellectual heft was found in those who argued theological points. Many years of rigorous learning in the classics, languages, and debate has empowered many starting with the Apostle Paul, a prodigious intellect. Paul went head to head with the best in Greece and many others with his elegant defenses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From Paul to St. Augustine to Luther to C.S. Lewis, Christian thinkers have changed the world, and always for the GOOD!

Some Christians today have fled rigorous academic pursuits, and that is a shame. However, Godís knowledge supercedes all as was shown through Jesus Christ. Jesus may not have had ìhigherî education, but he studied the Old Testament and had mastered it. By the time he was 12, he dumbfounded the intelligentsia of his time, much like Jackie Evancho dumbfounded the Americaís Got Talent competition singing music no ten year old is supposed to sing with a voice like that. When Jesus matured and began his formal ministry, all the brightest minds conspired to try to trip him up. They never did. They eventually stopped even trying.

You see, God is the greatest intellect of all. He is the creator, and scientists are still amazed as they see irreducible complexity at more and more microscopic levels. God's intellect was manifested through Jesus Christ, just as it was through the 12 Apostles - none of whom was educated, but all of whom changed the world and worked miracles of healing, deliverance and faith.

Dr. Alister McGrath wrote a book about Christian myths called, Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths. He said,

"Christianity is not a verbal religion; it is experiential. It centers on a transformative encounter of the believer with the risen Christ. From the standpoint of Christian theology, however, that experience comes before the words that generate, evoke, and inform it. Christianity is Christ-centered, not book centered; if it appears to be book-centered it is because it is through the words of Scripture that the believer encounters and feeds upon Jesus Christ. Scripture is a means, not an end; a channel, not what is channeled.

"Most intellectuals throughout history have found God at the base of what they discovered. After all, without God, how do you discover information? There is no credible explanation for how information came to be other than through God himself. The order and predictability and knowability of things is consistent only in terms of an omniscient creator."

While I would not claim theological confluence with all and perhaps not even a majority of these scientists, all believed in God as creator and in the book of Genesis. The breadth of knowledge and intellect shows that thinking people can believe in God, and actually most often do. The Bible says, "The Fool has said in his heart there is no God". These folks are far from fools.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Scientific method.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) (WOH) Physics, Astronomy
Johann Kepler (1571-1630) (WOH) Scientific astronomy
Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) Inventor
Walter Charleton (1619-1707) President of the Royal College of Physicians
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) Hydrostatics; Barometer
Sir William Petty (1623-1687) Statistics; Scientific economics
Robert Boyle (1627-1691) (WOH) Chemistry; Gas dynamics
John Ray (1627-1705) Natural history
Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) Professor of Mathematics
Nicolas Steno (1631-1686) Stratigraphy
Thomas Burnet (1635-1715) Geology
Increase Mather (1639-1723) Astronomy
Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712) Medical Doctor, Botany
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) (WOH) Dynamics; Calculus; Gravitation law; Reflecting telescope; Spectrum of light
John Flamsteed (1646-1719) Greenwich Observatory Founder; Astronomy
William Derham (1657-1735) Ecology
Cotton Mather (1662-1727) Physician
John Harris (1666-1719) Mathematician
John Woodward (1665-1728) Paleontology
William Whiston (1667-1752) Physics, Geology
John Hutchinson (1674-1737) Paleontology
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) Physics, Meteorology
Carolus Linneaus (1707-1778) Taxonomy; Biological classification system
Jean Deluc (1727-1817) Geology
Richard Kirwan (1733-1812) Mineralogy
John Dalton (1766-1844) Atomic theory; Gas law
Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) Educator
William Kirby (1759-1850) Entomologist
Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) Geographer
Benjamin Barton (1766-1815) Botanist; Zoologist
John Dalton (1766-1844) Father of the Modern Atomic Theory; Chemistry
Charles Bell (1774-1842) Anatomist
John Kidd (1775-1851) Chemistry
Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) Thermokinetics; Safety lamp
Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) Physician; Physiologist
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) (WOH) Electro magnetics; Field theory, Generator
Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) Telegraph
Joseph Henry (1797-1878) Electric motor; Galvanometer
Henry Rogers (1808-1866) Geology
James Glaisher (1809-1903) Meteorology
Philip H. Gosse (1810-1888) Ornithologist; Zoology
Sir Henry Rawlinson (1810-1895) Archeologist
James Simpson (1811-1870) Gynecology, Anesthesiology
Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert (1817-1901) Agricultural Chemist
James Joule (1818-1889) Thermodynamics
Thomas Anderson (1819-1874) Chemist
Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900) Astronomy
George Stokes (1819-1903) Fluid Mechanics
Rudolph Virchow (1821-1902) Pathology
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) (WOH) Genetics
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) (WOH) Bacteriology, Biochemistry; Sterilization; Immunization
Henri Fabre (1823-1915) Entomology of living insects
William Thompson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) Energetics; Absolute temperatures; Atlantic cable
William Huggins (1824-1910) Astral spectrometry
Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) Non-Euclidean geometries
Joseph Lister (1827-1912) Antiseptic surgery
Balfour Stewart (1828-1887) Ionospheric electricity
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) (WOH) Electrodynamics; Statistical thermodynamics
P.G. Tait (1831-1901) Vector analysis
John Bell Pettigrew (1834-1908) Anatomist; Physiologist
John Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919) Similitude; Model Analysis; Inert Gases
Sir William Abney (1843-1920) Astronomy
Alexander MacAlister (1844-1919) Anatomy
A.H. Sayce (1845-1933) Archeologist
John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945) Electronics; Electron tube; Thermionic valve

There are many scientists today, including sizable contingent from Asia who believe in the Bible totally, so do not believe the media who keeps hammering that no one of consequence believes the Bible anymore.

Now folks like Christopher Hitchens mock God and all religion. One of his tomes is entitled, God is Not Great. Now to be sure, I probably agree with a lot of what he has to say about Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and the like. I would also be in confluence with criticisms of those who practice nominal Christianity but who deny the inerrancy of scripture, who follow vain traditions, and who have done much evil in this world. That is why true Christians may be as much of an enemy of ìreligionî as Christopher Hitchens. Yet, Hitchens, like Bertrand Russell in whose heritage he operates, fails to distinguish between dead and contradictory religion and true believers in God who demonstrate the fruits of knowing God. In the manner of a pompous fool, he drags out many recycled and perhaps a few original arguments of alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and arguments made by skeptics against the existence of God.

Time does not permit a comprehensive rebuttal, but one argument Hitchens seemed particularly proud of appears in God is Not Great. Matthew 2:13 says that right after the wise men left, Joseph had a dream and fled to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Luke says that after everything that was required by the law was done ñ and that means Jesus being circumcised the 8th day and Mary's 30 days of purification - Joseph and Mary went to Nazareth. You can feel his glee and self-satisfaction that Jesus could not have been in Egypt and Nazareth at the same time. Such are the joys of those who are looking for contradictions and not really interested in the truth. If I were Christopher Hitchens, I would hate to rest too much on this or any of his other points showing contempt for God. Let God be true and every man a liar. After all, the Holy Spirit wrote through the Apostle Paul that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us it is the power of God.

When I saw his argument, I realized that in 55 years of being a Christian, NOT ONE PASTOR had explained this seeming contradiction. It was simply IGNORED. That is not a good idea. There are many books written on Bible difficulties - Hitchens is not the first to notice passages which appear to have issues - and I value that those more learned than I have looked into them. However, I believe the Bible is true - an a priori assumption if you will, and within five minutes the Holy Spirit explained to me how all this could work and it is perfectly consistent and logical. Here is a sequence which PERFECTLY fits with all scripture I could find on the subject:

1) Mary is impregnated by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35)
2) Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem as ordered by the government. (Luke 2:1-4)
3) While there, Mary gives birth to Jesus. (Jesus was six months younger than John per Luke 1:36). His birth day was in the fall, based upon the time of Elizabethís conception six months earlier and the fact that Shepherds were in the field. We can get within a month based upon Zechariahís service as a priest in the Abijah or eighth division. Serving twice a year, this would have been at the end if Iyyar (mid-April to mid-May) and again at the end of Marheshvan (mid-October to mid-November). It was the former because the latter would have put Jesus birth at about the Passover, and that would surely have been mentioned as Joseph and Mary would have stayed there for it.)
4) The star appeared to the Wise Men in the East when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:2) ñ they had to see the star, which may have been there a while before they saw it, had to arrange their trip and then travel many miles, which took much time in those days.
5) Jesus is circumcised eight days after birth (Luke 2:21)
6) After the 30 days of purification, Jesus as the first-born was presented in the temple and the sacrifice of a pair of birds was made (Luke 2:22-24)
7) Joseph and Mary go to Nazareth to live. (Luke 2:39)
8) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus go up to Jerusalem for Passover (spring of his first year) ñ Luke 2:41 says that they went up EVERY year, so that included when Jesus was about six months old and about eighteen months old.
9) It is not stated, but also not precluded that they stayed in Bethlehem when they went for the Passover in Jerusalem. Given Jesusí family ties to Bethlehem, it was their most likely location to stay.
10) Matthew 2 says the wise men arrived in Jerusalem AFTER Jesus was born. It does not say HOW LONG after. However, Matthew 2:16 makes it clear that from the time that the star first appeared until Herod realized he had been tricked by the wise men, it was long enough that Herod used two years as the cut off point. They were delayed with Herod before they went to Bethlehem, so we know they were definitely not there with the shepherds as so many manger scenes show it. Besides ñ the wise men went to a HOUSE, not a stable (Luke 2:11). Further, they were likely not to have been expected to find Jesus immediately, and some time transpired after the Magi found Jesus until Herod realized he had been tricked. This fits in with the Wise men seeing Jesus either when he was about six months old or 18 months old, most likely the latter.
11) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were visited by the Wisemen in a HOUSE in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11).
12) The wisemen presented their gifts, all of which were readily convertible for cash or trade as would be needed for a stay in Egypt (Matthew 2:11).
13) Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod would try to kill Jesus, so he fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
14) The Wisemen also had a dream not to see Herod again, so they returned home another way. (Matthew 2:12)
15) Herod slaughtered infants under two years old (Matthew 2:16-18) ñ all this explains and is consistent with why Herod did not simply kill those infants under one year old.
16) Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth once again and remained there to rear Jesus (Luke 2:39-40).

This can be done on down the line of the arguments - some have been explained long ago by people far better than me, others may yet require an explanation. However, God does not lie, and while it may be maddening to some that you have to STUDY to come up with answers, the Bible is not written on a sixth grade level and God wants faith to be in the picture, and he wants us to trust what he says. He wants us to approach our legitimate questions from a standpoint of trust, not doubt. One cannot be neutral, and those who seek the truth will find it.

The fact is, atheists believe a priori that God does NOT exist. They are not intellectually open ñ but they have an agenda. When an atheist truly DOES decide to explore with somewhat of an open mind, they more often than not end up believing in God! C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Lee Stroebel all come to mind as those who trod the intellectual road from atheism to believe in God. God is the one who said, those who seek me find me if they search with all their heart.

I encourage you to have an open mind with God, and to truly look for all the possibilities if you see something in the Bible that you cannot immediately explain. For thousands of years, people have lobbed assaults against the Bible, but the Bible stands taller than ever. I have read portions from the Quran, the Venas and the Upanishads, and trust me, they are like the work of children compared to the Bible. Man's wisdom pales next to God's. Yet the atheist exalts his own wisdom. Psalm 2:4 tells us that God laughs at this stuff, but we cannot. We must always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us and seek to save the lost, not condemn them. After all, John 3:16-17 say, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Our job is to love and to present - the Holy Spirit's job is to convince.

Here is reason for the hope that lies within me:

I was supremely blessed to have the privilege of being born into a family that loved Christ and worshipped him. I was convinced I was a sinner in need of an atonement at the age of 5. A preacher talked about the Lamb of God and how he paid for our sins, and I accepted than atonement to cover my sins, which I was fully aware of. Our house had many Bibles in it. I read through the Bible three times by the time I was 13. Everyone in our home memorized portions of the Bible regularly. Our family could sit down for an hour and not even open a Bible ñ my mom would recite Romans 8:28, someone else Psalm 91, and so on. I decided to memorize John 15. I was in a program at church that required research, so before I was 17, I wrote term papers on the Inspiration of Scripture, the Deity of Christ, Christian Living and Witness, and the like. I have continued to study the Bible and what people say about it and have read profusely about the experience of others with God and have enjoyed 55 years of personal encounters with God at the most intimate level. I have experienced the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, and spend at least an hour a day in Bible Study and prayer and journaling the thoughts of God as he reveals them to me. So to me, atheism is an alien idea ñ it is impossible to imagine life without God.

However, there are many who have dabbled in Christianity. They did not have parents who guided them along the way. They did not have pastors who taught and lived the word of God. They heard general homilies they could have read in the Readerís Digest. They were taught Bible ìstoriesî much as one would learn about apocryphal fairy tales and Santa Claus, but not the Bible as history, as science, as economics, as our spiritual handbook. Many of these never had an experience of repentance and active faith toward God. They are becoming atheists because it is all at the level of the mind, not the spirit.

Yet, there is a second kind of atheist popularized by a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschell. These are people who have the proclamation of who they are, but live as though there is no God. These are people who say they are ìspiritualî but who are embarrassed around on-fire Christians. They talk about love, and emphasize that aspect of God, they perhaps ìmade a decisin for Christî, but engage in fornication and adultery with no fear of God. Practical atheists. Others plan their lives around themselves and not God. The church to them is a means to an end. They want to be rich so they go to a church that teaches them how to be successful. They give in order to get. There are no solid ethics in their business or spiritual lives. Their word means nothing. They use people to climb the ladder. Practical atheists often have no concept of the church as the Body of Christ designed by God himself. They do not really believe that those outside of Christ are damned because they keep their faith to themselves and totally ignore the Great Commission, Christís ìLast Will and Testamentî if you will which commands us to make disciples.

The question is - do we REALLY believe in God? And if we say we do, are we bound by the ramification of what it means for there to be a God to whom we must give account? I pray whether you are actively resisting God as is Christopher Hitchens, or if you claim to be one thing but in essence are a passive atheist, that the Lord Jesus Christ will be primo in your life. I pray that you would not only truly know him, but love him and fear him and live an exemplary life before him and before the world.


Comment:
Name: JohnTheEvangelist
Date: Thu Dec 9 17:25:06 2010

NOTE THAT FRANCIS COLLINS OF THE GENOME PROJECT AND NOW APPOINTED BY OBAMA FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, BEGAN A SITE CALLED BIOLOGOS. It is intended to allow people of faith to dialogue on faith and science. BEWARE! The current director, Darrel Falk, assumes that the earth is old, and they slide down the slippery slope mighty quickly in denying not only Genesis, but so much more. I have posted on the site, and I encourage others to do as well, but do not be deceived. It ties in uncannily with President Obama's chiding of those who reject secular scientific philosophies - Collins has attacked those who stick with more literal reading of the BIble. Collins was an atheist, and unfortunately, he seems to have not yet laid to rest key atheistic beliefs though he now says he believes in Christ. I find the site very dangerous and not very scientific to be honest. Many of the contributors seem to like bashing those who believe in God's authority rather than theirs, and I see no meaningful exaltation of Christ. If you have questions, ask me!


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