Thursday, November 29, 2012

105 Minutes with an Atheist

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a man who happened to be an atheist. After an hour-long conversation about life, he blurts out, “You keep talking about science. You’re a pastor. Do you believe in science?” He went on to say how he doesn’t believe in God because there is too much “stuff” out there such as “millions of galaxies containing trillions of stars…it’s just too vast to come from a God.” I could not wipe the smile off my face as I said, “Exactly! Too much stuff! Where did all that stuff come from?”

The Law of Cause and Effect is one of the scientific laws that allows the field of science to even exist; without its guiding principle, theories become impossible. That is, scientists observe effects such as life, planets, spinning spiral galaxies, and etc. They spend their life attempting to determine the cause of such effects. There are two options (three if you count aliens, but then where did the aliens come from…back to two options) to the cause of existence, everything from nothing or everything from something. The first option is naturalism (no God) and the second is theism (a God). Again, a third option (minus panspermia/aliens) does not exist. If you are not a theist you are a naturalist (atheist) and vice versa. Either God created or nothing created.
“I think I believe in science more than the naturalist” is what I told him. He narrowed his eyes, threw his head back, and asked, “How so?” I believe the scientific laws that exist today have always existed, and when God decided to create everything, He simply used the laws that are within Him. As a theist, I do not suspend the laws of science; I embrace them. In particular, the law of cause and effect. In order to believe everything came from nothing, I must suspend reality, logic, and rational thought, basically, all laws of science. Everything cannot pop into existence from nothing because there is nothing to make something, and a cause to the first something leading to everything cannot exist in nothing. Simplified, it takes at least one thing to make the next thing. If there was Something (what we call God), then all things are possible because that Thing caused all things to begin. A first cause must exist in order to make the first effect; therefore, there is no choice but to accept the required existence of a first Cause, and that Cause we call God. We are not required to exist; conversely, He is required, and we know this simply because we are here. The universe overflows with unnecessary stuff, therefore, there must be a “stuff” Maker, or there would be no stuff. God is not a maybe, He’s a must.   
So my answer to him was a resounding and excited, “Yes, I believe in—and embrace—science and the very laws by which the field is substantiated! Further, I find it intriguing that atheists mock my strong belief in all scientific laws and consider my unbending commitment to same as ridiculous if not na├»ve when it comes to the start of it all.” My thought: everyone innately knows that everything requires a something to make anything and that what one gets from nothing is nothing. So my question is, “Who is remaining logical, rational, and intellectually honest? The one who suspends all knowledge of the laws that surround and uphold us, or the one who accepts the fact that those same laws require a law Giver?”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Eve Service: Uplifting?

Recently I was in the hospital with a close family member. We were there for five days as four doctors worked the case attempting to figure out what was wrong. The first three doctors signed off on the one I love and signed the release paperwork. Finally, one more doctor entered the room and clearly stated, “You are not going home; there is something wrong, and we will find it”.

We did not rush to the ER to get an uplifting message from a kind doctor; we went because something was wrong and we needed the truth regardless of the way it made us feel. Jesus said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." (Mark 2:17). According to the eyewitnesses of Jesus, He is not interested in raising the ego of individuals nor is He concerned with giving an uplifting message so we feel good. No…Jesus is the kind doctor who tells you the truth regardless of the initial sting so that He can help you fix the problem. The world signs your release paperwork; Christ asks you to stay.  

"No one is righteous--not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one." (Rom. 3: 10-12)

While the ultimate end to Jesus’ message is uplifting to those who accept it; simultaneously, it brings about a sense of seriousness and sorrow as well. That is, the Bible is the PET scan exposing the bleakness inside, and we know what it means for many we love who ignore the truth. A few years ago, a family member ignored a lump in her belly for months without telling anyone. That small bump took her life within a few weeks of discovery. She needed a doctor, she needed honesty, and she needed to get well, but feared the news of the doctor and the result was sealed.

The gospel is good news, but it is not exactly uplifting when one considers the totality of its ramifications on all of humankind. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Mth. 7:14).

My prayer is that people come to church this Christmas season not to be uplifted, but to hear and receive the difficult and stinging truth of the good Physician, Jesus Christ. We are not well, and the prognosis is not good unless we accept the gift of eternal life via the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which paid the literal sickness that each of us contain. No one wants to hear they have terminal cancer, but what if you got a second opinion and that doctor said, “No problem, I can remove it and you will live.”  Would you say “No”? Would you allow his perceived arrogance to get in the way of life? Would you walk away simply because it is impossible to grasp the technique?

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” (2 Cor. 7:10)