Ten Responses to a Baptist Minister turned Atheist

The following is a brief response [written in purple] to ten points noted in an article that was written by Gordon Douglas entitled, Reasons for disbelief: The top ten reasons I am an atheist.

Many people ask why someone like me, who came from a Christian home, went to a Christian high school and then went on to spend five years in seminary and become a pastor, a missionary, and an evangelist, would turn his back on the God he spent a lifetime worshiping and serving and give up all faith in the supernatural. The answer is very simple, and I’m about to give it. First, however, let me tell you what the reason is not.

Most people, upon hearing my story, all unanimously decide regardless of their own spiritual beliefs or religious affiliations that I must be mad at God. They tell me I just had the wrong religion, or that I just needed to try their particular name-brand. It’s the one thing religious people of all stripes can actually agree on, and it isn’t even true.

I did, in fact, have a rough time in religion. My formative years of trial and tribulation didn’t weaken my faith in the least. In fact, it was because of these troubles that I spent many nights on my knees praying that I might not be like “those other Christians,” and that God would show me the path to becoming his choice servant. It was because of this that I began to take my studies of the Judeo-Christian god very seriously, and it was this in-depth study and reflection that led to my current state of unbelief.

Let me share with you the ten main reasons I found that reflect why I went from a Fundamental, Independent Baptist minister to an ardent Atheist.

Other Religions Exist: I used to believe that only my religion could be right, and that every other religion was wrong. I studied apologetics so I could prove this to anyone I met. Anyone else who claimed to know their religion was true deep in their heart was clearly suffering a Satanic delusion. At the exact same time, I believed a clearly mythological story with blind faith and nothing more to back it up than the fact that I knew deep in my heart that it was true. Then I realized that people fly planes into buildings, run into crowded plazas with bombs strapped to them, and drink poisoned Kool-Aid in the name of their gods. If faith is really the true measure of the veracity of a religion, I was clearly in the wrong church, and should have become a militant Muslim.

Mr. Douglas studied apologetics to prove that only Christianity could be correct. Who was he trying to prove this to? Unbelievers? Although evidence is valuable, it is only valuable to the Christian because the Christian has faith. Right away, he is showing that he did not have a biblical view of evangelism. Trying to convince someone of Christianity with “proof” is worthless unless God is proclaimed apostolically. I don’t mean that it must be proclaimed in some neo-charismatic mystical way. I simply mean that Christians proclaim God the way the apostles did, “God DOES exist” instead of “There is a high probability for the existence of God” [Acts 17:23-31]. His existence is presupposed by the apostles in the Bible, it is never something the apostles tried to prove.

He claims that the Christian story is “clearly” a mythological story with nothing more than blind faith to back it up. It is incorrect to define Christian faith as blind because of the means of such faith. It is true that faith is simply agreeing that the propositions set forth by God in the gospel of Jesus Christ are true, but faith is only a response given by God Himself to His elect people [Romans 8:30]. If there are those that fall away from Christianity, they simply were never given faith [1 John 2:19]. There are certainly many within Christian churches that don’t have faith. As the saying goes, “Just because you sit in a garage doesn’t make you a car.” Faith isn’t a type of “trying Jesus to see if He works.”

Faith is supernatural, and for the Christian to attempt to use natural means such as evidence to “prove” something supernatural is nonsensical. It isn’t that an  unbeliever doesn’t believe because they aren’t convinced, it is because they have a heart of stone [Ezekiel 36:26]. It isn’t because they really want to believe but Satan is covering their eyes. An unbelieving person is spiritually in darkness [Romans 1:21] as a result of their having been born in sin [Psalm 51:5], and has the presupposition that the God of the Christians doesn’t exist. Therefore, any “evidence” for God brought forth to their “judgment seat” will automatically be dismissed. It has been shown that the Bible is completely reliable both historically and prophetically, but the evidence is disregarded. Debates over evidence turn into a slapfest of “my author or source is better than yours.”

Faith is not the standard of the veracity of a religion, God is. There is one God, and He is the sovereign God who threw worlds into existence by the sound of His voice. No One can hold Him back. His purposes will be accomplished. He has revealed, through the person of Jesus Christ, that He is triune. That is, 3 co-eternal persons [the “who” – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit] and one being [the “what” – God]. God is holy, and hates sin. He must judge sin in righteousness. But, He extended mercy to an undeserving people through the death of God the Son on a cross. This was Jesus Christ. He was both God and man. He was a man, that He might live and die in the place of His people. He was created in the likeness of man that He would represent men – a righteous man in the place of unrighteous men. We were born cursed by Adam’s sin. He was our federal head, the father of us all. But, for those in Christ, we have a new federal head – indeed a perfect one. Not only was He a man, but He was God. In sin we offend God, who is of infinite value and perfection. And so, sin and its deserved punishment is of infinite value. Therefore, it took someone of infinite value to both pay for and endure the punishment on behalf of His people. He died and was buried, and rose again three days later. He ascended and sat at the right hand of God the Father. He was given power, dominion, and a kingdom. He will return one day to judge both the living and the dead. This is the gospel, or “good news” of Jesus Christ.

This sounds stupid. It sounds foolish. In fact, God knows it sounds stupid. It pleased Him to save people through the foolishness of the above message. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-21. This being said, because this is true, it follows that anything else that would oppose such a view is wrong, regardless of sincerity. The lunatic locked away in the mental ward may sincerely believe himself to be a cartoon tree, but it does not follow that such a ridiculous claim is true.

Faith is Rewarded to the Same Degree as Disbelief: Once, I would pray daily, often for hours, for every little facet of my life, turning over even the most insignificant little things to the creator of the universe. Sometimes he would answer positively, other times negatively, and other times by seeming to tell me to wait. If I were not praying for what God would want me to pray for, the answer would undoubtedly be no, but if I were asking in faith for something that lined up with God’s will, I would be rewarded. It made me wonder why it was God’s will that certain of my colleagues drove a Mercedes while he wanted me to drive a pale yellow 1988 station wagon.

Then, I came to the realization that if I prayed to God for a given number of things, and I prayed to a rock for that same number of things, the chances are very good that the rock and God would answer roughly the same number of times. Muslims pray to their God, Hindus to theirs, Catholics and Protestants to theirs, Wiccans to theirs… and after all is said and done, every God seems to answer in roughly the same proportion… unless of course for the 100% rate of failure for such requests as healing an amputee or “moving a mountain.”

Asaph wondered the same things [Psalm 73:2-28]. He wondered why wicked men were prosperous. He was envious of them because they didn’t seem to be in trouble, were always at ease, and only increased in wealth. Asaph felt as though he kept his heart pure in vain, because he was stricken all day. Then he realized that whether they had easy lives, or awesome things was irrelevant in regard to God’s favor. God had only placed them on “slippery places” to be “cast down in destruction.” God surely gives good gifts to all men, but it does not mean that they are for the good of the ones receiving the gifts. Someone may give me a big bowl of ice cream covered in chocolate and brownies, and certainly that would be a good gift. But, if I have diabetes, it is deadly. In other words, God continuously gave Pharaoh riches, glory, dominion and power, but it was only that Pharaoh would be raised in order that God would later display His power through Pharaoh’s destruction [Romans 9:17].

It seems that Mr. Douglas’ issue had more to do with the fact that his sinful desires weren’t being satisfied, and the false notion that prayer is supposed to change the mind of God. God does not change His mind [Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29]. Prayer changes the mind of the Christian. It is a means by which the Christian is conformed to Christlikeness. It reminds the Christian that they are surpassingly sinful, and that Christ is surpassingly perfect – that whether we have all we want materially is irrelevant. Christ is our ultimate treasure. He is like that pearl that we sell everything for [Matthew 13:26]. This is bad news for the people who really want God to prove Himself to them by healing amputees and moving mountains. But there is no need, on the part of God, to do this in order to prove Himself to beggarly creatures who essentially sit on their thrones and say, “Let us judge God!”

God Can’t Be Proven: I used to say to the doubters “You can’t disprove God!” That’s true, but it’s true for one very important reason: you can’t disprove something you don’t have proof of. I can’t disprove leprechauns, or Bloody Mary, or ghosts, or Smurfs, or anything that I don’t first have proof of. You can only disprove something by showing how the proof of it is not valid. My entire life once required belief in something that in no way could be proven to be real. This is like turning around to sit down on a chair when you never actually verified that the chair was ever there in the first place. The worst part about it is that, instead of a slightly bruised bottom, you come out of it with an entire life wasted trying to sit in a chair that isn’t there.

It has been demonstrated that the Bible and its claims are reliable, but this isn’t proof that God exists. Although it has stood through intense scrutiny and can easily be demonstrated to be the most reliable ancient literature we actually have, this doesn’t prove God exists. In the past, it was asserted that various biblical figures [such as King David] never existed, only to be shown years later that they indeed had existed. But it certainly doesn’t prove the existence of a personal God who became a man and died for the sins of His people. This is only evidence. Again, faith can only be given by God, through the hearing of the good news of Jesus Christ. This may be unsatisfactory for Christianity’s critics, but this is exactly what the Bible says.

It is ironic that an atheist would ask for proof. Their very worldview denies the existence of anything transcendent of humanity, or at the very least, can not account for anything transcendent [morals, logic, etc.], since they are naturalistic materialists. This is to say that humans are only raw materials, atoms banging around, and no different than the chair I am sitting on, which is also simply atoms banging around. What exactly makes me any different than this chair? My complexity? And if the answer is “yes,” then by what standard could an atheist say that the more complex something is the more valuable it is? Given this worldview, at the end of the day I am nothing but a bag of water comprised of atoms and neuron firings, walking around – ultimately, with no transcendent meaning.

Perhaps the late serial killer, Ted Bundy can support what I mean, “…I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable “value” judgment that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others?’ Other human beings with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me – after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self.”

The God of the Bible Can be Disproved: The God of the Bible (and the Koran, and the Book of Mormon, etc.) already has enough going against him… If he were really the author of the Bible, it would probably be much less full of atrocities, contradictions, plagiarisms and absurdities. Considering the only real knowledge we have on the subject comes either from numinous, unverifiable personal experiences or ancient books of mythology which can be proven to be as I’ve just described them (in a word: nonsense), the God which they describe can thus safely be assumed to be fictional.

The God of the Bible is not the god of Islam. The God of the Bible is not the god of Mormonism. The God of the Christian Scriptures is 3 coeternal persons in one being. The God of Islam is one being. The god of Mormonism was once a man who became one god of an infinite amount of gods [it is the most polytheistic religion in existence]. How can God be eternal and triune, infinite and non-triune, and a man-now-god amongst an infinite amount of gods all at the same time? Are we to take seriously these claims? Only one of these religions can be true, or all of them are false.

Some of the “contradictions” in the Bible that are normally brought up are nothing more than minor textual variants found amongst thousands and thousands of copies of the biblical texts. These aren’t contradictions. A contradiction would be something like comparing “Jesus was God” to “Jesus was not God.” Such is not the case with the Bible. The textual variants are not a surprise to textual critics, and books are certainly available on the subject. They are also not a surprise to the majority of the people reading the Bible, as there are notes in most Bibles pointing these out. Many pastors teach the variants to their congregations. It is not as though the authors of the Bible wrote the gospels, published them and sold them. These were getting passed around and copied. If travelers happened to pass a particular church, and noticed that the church had a letter from Paul that they had not yet read, they would copy it down. Sometimes notes were made. This doesn’t make it contradictory, or unreliable. It is expected. In fact, the gospel writers weren’t the first ones to let people know of the gospel. It had already been spreading rapidly. There are thousands of copies of manuscripts in existence that we can see see and they are nearly identical. Does this without question prove that it is the written Word of God? Of course not. One will only believe that by faith, not by good evidence.

Other “contradictions” that are normally brought up are differing accounts in the gospel in regards to when certain things took place, the number of individuals in a particular story etc. These are also no secret, as well as no contradiction. These were written by different people, and so the stories won’t be exactly the same. In fact, if the stories were exactly the same, the Bible writers would most likely be accused of collusion. If these documents were brought before a court of law, there would be no doubt that they are more than sufficient in providing perfect evidence for their claims. Plenty of books have been written in order to explain these “apparent” contradictions. But, this does not convince the natural man of it’s authenticity for being the Word of God. Only faith will do that. The Bible seems illogical to a non Christian because their sense of logic has been marred by sin, and their mind is darkened to truth which can only be found in Christ. Not to mention, they appeal to logic and reason, two things that are still unaccounted for and nonsensical in a naturalistic materialist worldview.

Religion is, By Nature, Deluding: I did a bit of math and found out that I had read the entire Bible, all sixty-six books of it, all the way through no less than 26 times from the time I got “saved” to my senior year in seminary. In all this time, I read every single word, and yet I never caught how evil God was, I never saw his bloodthirsty acts and his terrible, tyrannical, ways or his childish temper tantrums. I never saw the obvious mistakes and contradictions in the Bible. There were so many things in the Bible I just didn’t see until the day I chose to read it with a wary, discerning eye, and then everything came out.

There is something about religion that makes it a very powerful force, and that something is its insubstantiality. When something doesn’t really exist, you can make any number of arguments in its favor, and to the believing mind answers can come easily because any answer can easily fit. If you ask me to do something and I don’t do it, I can make up an excuse or give you the facts as to why I didn’t, but in the end there is a real reason why I didn’t do it. When you ask God to do something and he does not, it is easy enough to come up with any excuse for him, and since he doesn’t really exist any excuse fits neatly.

I know so many Christians who can’t see how awful the Bible and God really are, and those that can see it make excuses for it. “That’s just the Old Testament!” they say. “We live under the New Testament!” Yes, but your god still killed 70,000 people with pestilence just because their king counted them. He still had bears disembowel forty-two children for making fun of a bald man. He still made a law that said a woman was to be stoned to death if she was raped and didn’t scream loud enough for someone to hear her. He’s the same God.

We don’t release mass murderers from prison because they “turn over a new leaf,” and we wouldn’t suddenly vote back in a violent despot we just deposed because he swore he’d be a little nicer this time around. We shouldn’t worship a monster because he offers us salvation from a pit of fire he himself is threatening us with.

It’s interesting that an atheist would hold God to a standard of good, and that he would decide that God was “terrible” and “tyrannical.” Where does this standard come from? How does the atheist know that Hitler was wrong? Says who? When God created Adam, He created him in His image. This doesn’t mean that Adam was made to look like God. It means that man was given the ability to love, have self awareness, spiritual reflection, morals, a sense of dominion, judgment, logic, reason, etc – those attributes which transcended Adam’s physical body. Everyone is created in God’s image. Aside from the highly ordered universe, the image of God is part of the reason why God says that no one is without excuse. In fact, the Bible says that everyone knows God exists, but they sinfully suppress that knowledge within themselves. Through sin, this image is marred, and so people do each of these things [love, morals, judgment, logic, etc.] imperfectly. This is why people experience guilt and depression, and sometimes not seemingly for anyone in particular. It is also why a man would take God, who is supremely righteous, and judge Him to be supremely unrighteous for not meeting the standards of His creatures. That is what is so ironic about this article. It is a man who believes that the world was brought into existence from nothing, and we are all raw materials, but somehow we have these transcendent attributes, even though we are ultimately no different than rocks.

Christians don’t just use any and every argument. We argue from the Bible. Granted, there are plenty of Christians who argue using extra-biblical means, and sometimes they end up arguing for a position they don’t even hold in order to just win an argument. Not every answer can easily fit. Again, there is truth. How foolish and ridiculous it would be for Christians to be so concerned with having large numbers that we used any means necessary to attain those ends. We would be a most pitiable group.

The God of the Old Testament IS the God of the New Testament. Anyone who attempts to somehow soften that or skirt around it is not only ashamed, but self-deceived. What standard is there to which God should be held? Do morals and logic exist outside of Him? Is He not the very definition of what is right and logical? God is Ex Lex, or without law. He is accountable to no one. He created everything that exists, and He has the absolute right to govern the way that He purposes to govern. Humanity answers to Him, and He answers to no one.  People seem to naturally want those like Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, and the like to be locked away or to die and go to hell. Only, many believe it to be wrong for God to desire such things. But everyone everywhere throughout time has deserved this demise. Although He is wrathful, He saves His people from wrath and a punishment that would be completely just. Even saving one person would be a show of love and mercy without measure. He became a man, taking the image of a creation that by nature hated Him, and He allowed them to spit on Him, mock Him, and kill Him. Why? That the same type of vile creature might be saved. We worship Him because He is worthy of it.

Science is Obviously Better: Science, it has been pointed out, is not perfect and doesn’t have all the answers. However, it does have a method for obtaining answers, whereas religion simply claims answers without having ever done any of the work to get there. Science starts with the idea that we do not know something and then tries to figure it out. Religion starts with the arrogant assumption that we know God exists and therefore must base all our knowledge on that idea.

Once again, religion causes a delusion which stands in the way of readily-available facts and steps around the intellect. This delusion was so strong in me that despite my deep-seated love of science I accepted the pseudo-science of men like Kent Hovind (I even attended one of his lectures in high school), Duane Gish, and Ken Hamm without bothering to seek out the truth. As soon as I chose to open my eyes, it became clear to me that the only reason I believed in Creationism was because that’s what I wanted to believe in, and the only reason I didn’t believe in Evolution was because I chose not to see all the available evidence.

Science is better than religion? Says who? Better in what way? All science does is discover what is already here. It is arrogant to assume that God exists? Says who? What standard of non arrogance are we using? Consider the words of Richard Lewontin, an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and social commentator, “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [1997. Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997 (review of Carl Sagan‘s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)]

And Christian’s are arrogant in their commitments? He states that the only reason he believed in Creationism is because he had chosen to, and I would argue that the same is true of his embracing evolution. The heart of an unsaved man will always incline to that which opposes the truth.

The Origins of All Religions are Clear: The first man to invent religion obviously looked up at the sky and said “I have no idea how all this got here. I made this hut, and this fire, and this wagon, and I tamed this wild dog, and so whatever made the sky must be something very similar to me, only much more powerful.” Obviously. God was made in man’s image, not the other way around. He was a creation of humanity from when we couldn’t figure out any better explanation for the difficult questions of existence. When I was less educated and was inundated on every side with religious “science,” I believed that the only answers were in God. When I started to see these “unanswered” questions revealed with ease and the evidence for true science piling up while the explanations offered by religion withered away, it became obvious that humanity had surpassed its need for these easy answers and their remaining vestiges were holding back our species.

Isn’t it ironic how man throughout history has always had some distant sense that there is a god out there somewhere? Even in those distant countries and islands deprived of media. Those foolish people! They didn’t or don’t have science like we do! Yet, naturally they always sway toward the idea of a god. This is clear. Again, they are created in His image. They don’t have a clear and perfect understanding of God because His image in which they are created is disfigured by sin, but they still practice religion. These “questions” aren’t “unanswered.” Just because there is an alternative answer in something manmade like science doesn’t mean that it is a valid answer. It is yet just another means by which men can attempt to clear their consciences of a holy God.

There’s No Difference: Religion and a Relationship with God are just jargon for the exact same thing. When I was a Christian, I used to use the phrase “Some people have a religion, but what I have is a relationship with Jesus Christ.” I also used to throw around the words “Head Knowledge and Heart Knowledge” quite a bit. But in reality, it’s all just fancy ways of saying the same thing: having an emotional, spiritual experience that can’t be quantified logically. It’s faith, either way… it’s believing in something that isn’t real. Some people just get arrogant about it and think that only they have the right answer, and then stupid phrases like the ones above get formed.

Personally, since I’ve become an atheist, I’ve heard this a ridiculous number of times directed back at me. My religion was just the wrong flavor, it all boils down to, and I should have forsaken religion and instead seek out the true power of a relationship with Christ. This is rather upsetting to me, because these people don’t know me, and they don’t know the sleepless nights I spent praying that God would use me in a powerful way. They never saw how I wept over “lost souls.” They never listened to my preaching, which I swore didn’t come from me as I was always terrified right before I stepped up to the pulpit and became strong as the words seemed to flow from the Holy Spirit. These people don’t know that I was exactly like them, and the only difference between us is that I dared to question my faith.

I wouldn’t completely disagree with the first statement. It sort of irks me to hear people say those cliche phrases like, “It’s about relationship and not religion.” Though I believe that Christianity is both, I understand what they imply. They only mean that we don’t worship a type of deistic god who sits out in the cosmos somewhere. The relationship that the Christian has with God is very personal. This doesn’t mean that it is just some emotional experience or that it is tangible. I’ve never been taken up to heaven, seen God face-to-face, or seen angels running around a room while I preached [some have claimed this].

Faith is believing in propositions set forth by God. It isn’t enough to simply believe in a god or “higher power”. It is believing in what God has told us, because it is in this way that He has revealed Himself to us. I can say that I believe in your car, but if I begin to say, “Yah…. your car is awesome. I love the red and purple paint job, 72″ rims, and the airboat propellor on the back” – You may look at me strangely and think that I was crazy for describing something completely opposite of what your car is actually like. Faith is affirming what God has revealed about Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

I will give Mr. Douglas the benefit of the doubt, and believe that he truly did do those things he said he did [prayer, weeping, preaching in power, etc.]. For those who are in Christ, this should only be a reminder of the level of self deception someone can undergo, and God’s electing power. We should only look to the gospel, for by it faith is stirred within our frames. I never use sincerity as a standard for the truth. I would agree with Mr. Douglas’ statements earlier that many are sincerely committed to their religions. He is showing us this now by writing about his atheism.  I have questioned my faith, but it has only drawn me closer to God’s word and sharpened my faith. When someone has God given faith, he indwells them with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that causes the Christian to will and desire Christ. For a professing Christian to question, and then “fall away” is only evidence that this person did not have faith.

Religion is Destructive: Religion creates rifts and divisions in the world. It causes backwards-thinking and halts medical, scientific, and societal progress. It encourages people to be content rather than try to better themselves, and to trust in an invisible friend rather than strive to succeed. It takes away any joy that we might have in our own successes and instead throws them at the feet of an invisible being that had nothing to do with it. It makes people sit idly by and pray rather than stand up and do something themselves. It locks young people in and does everything it can to ensure that they will never even have the opportunity to look in any other direction. This cannot be the will of any supreme being, unless it is stupid or evil.

Christianity is divisive. Christ said that households would divide over his Word [Matthew 10:35]. Anyone who denies this simply denies a basic biblical teaching. Humanity is born in sin, and naturally hostile to God [Romans 8:7]. Christians proclaim the gospel of Christ. The gospel implies that all men are wicked and hopeless. Men hate this message because naturally they trust in themselves, believing that they are naturally good [Proverbs 20:6]. So, when Christians approach them telling them that no one is good, and using the law of God as a testimony, people become angry. When the light of God exposes men’s sins, they flee from it however they can.

But, I must go back to the question, why would an atheist care about “bettering” himself? It seems as though he is admitting that we are all flawed, and yet does not provide us with where the “ideal” comes from or what it is. Why strive to succeed? By which standard would a supreme being be stupid or evil for being indifferent about indifference? All of these standards are assumed by Mr. Douglas. But it is contrary to his worldview. He is taking Christian standards and living by them while denying the God who gave them. What is the smart thing for God to do? Why? Why does it matter? What is the good thing for God to do? What is good? Is good objective? If not, then how do we know God isn’t good and Mr. Douglas is wrong? We aren’t told any of this.

Christians Don’t Really Get Persecuted: One of the halls in my dormitory was named after a missionary who died a martyr’s death in Romania. The truth of the matter was that he fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a tree. I used to put on a play in my college drama team about the missionaries to the Auca Indians who were murdered for sharing the Gospel, and then found out they knew they were in danger because the Aucas killed any outsiders who entered their village. I also used to do a play about the missionaries who were martyred with the China Inland Mission during the Boxer Rebellion, and then I found out that the Chinese were persecuting and killing Christian missionaries because they were persecuting and killing ANYONE who was a threat to their national cultural heritage (and the Christians were doing a great job trying to make sure the Chinese became just like the White Devil).

The truth of the matter is that Christians get EXACTLY what they want, and they get it because they keep saying that they are a persecuted minority who don’t get anything that they want. The truth is that they are one of the most powerful groups in the world, especially in America, and the most powerful political party in the United States is nothing more than their soap box.

“OH NO!” they say, “people are trying to get prayer taken out of schools! People are trying to get the Ten Commandments out of courthouses! People are trying to get the Bible and Creationism out of the classroom! We are SO PERSECUTED!” The truth of the matter is that a few (and I mean a VERY FEW) people of good conscience in this country who understand the precepts of separation under which the country was founded know that those things don’t belong there, and are fighting to get them removed. It’s us, the nonbelievers, who are having the hard time, it’s us who are persecuted, it’s us who are the minority.

When you go to try to get a new job, and someone says “He’s a good, Christian man,” you have a much better chance of getting the job than when they say “He’s an atheist” about me. When parents hear an atheist is dating their daughter, it’s like they just heard it was a Satanist. You try closing a big deal when your clients find out you don’t believe in God. Any Christian who says he is persecuted is simply repeating back rhetoric he’s heard from his pastor, unless he’s a missionary, in which case he’s most likely being persecuted because he showed up on someone’s doorstep and told them that everything they know is wrong and they need to be more like him in order to be accepted by God.

I can’t speak for every professing Christian that dies. I won’t pretend that every testimony is completely truthful. But I do know, as I stated above, that men naturally detest the true God because He exposes their sin. He is holy and sovereign, and men hate it. They naturally think the story of Jesus is stupid and narrow minded. This was explained earlier too. The gospel of Christ is basically that God became a Jewish man in a remote part of the world, was killed on a cross for people’s sins, came back from the dead, and then ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. People laugh at it and hate it. How many times has Christ been portrayed in the media as a character no different than Santa Claus? Do people do that with Allah or Buddha?

If I set up a soap box on the sidewalk on a Friday night in the downtown area where I lived and began to talk about sex, drinking, or clubbing, it would be well received. If I started talking about the perfect law of God and how men fail in comparison to it, and that they are hopeless apart from Christ, I can almost guarantee that I would not be well received. I know this because I have spent time engaging people in that exact setting. Did I get beat up? No. Have I gotten killed? You may not believe this, but no. But it was obvious that people hated the message. We can certainly agree that the message is widely hated. Mr. Douglas says of Christian missionaries, “he’s most likely being persecuted because he showed up on someone’s doorstep and told them that everything they know is wrong and they need to be more like him in order to be accepted by God.” That IS why there is persecution. This is what men hear when the gospel is spread, although the gospel doesn’t say this. It says that Christ lived, died and rose again because men are in need of a savior because men are wicked. And if these men believe the gospel and turn from their sin, they will be saved. Since the Christian sharing this message has presumably already done this, then the unbeliever only hears, “you have to be like me or you are wrong.”

Concerning those professing Christians who weep over the removal of the ten commandments: I am not nationalistic. I don’t place the USA and the Bible as equally important. I love the USA and the freedom I have, and I know that many have given their lives so that I can reap the benefits of such freedom, but I also understand that I am a stranger in regard to the world – a citizen of God’s kingdom [1 Peter 1:1]. I don’t complain and I’m not shocked when unbelievers want the ten commandments removed from anywhere. The ten commandments are the law of God. Naturally, sinful men will hate to be reminded of their sinfulness. The law of God was intended to condemn [Romans 8:3], so that men will realize their sinfulness, and turn to Christ. What is the problem with the ten commandments? If atheists don’t believe in God, then why do they care?

“Being a good Christian man” gets you a good job?! I’m not sure where exactly Mr. Douglas is living. That certainly wouldn’t help out where I live. But, let’s entertain the idea. Why would such a person have a better chance at a job? Doesn’t it seem to be the opinion of many that Christians are truthful, trustworthy, have initiative, have “good morals,” etc? As a business partner, I find those to be important qualities. Is it fair to paint with such broad strokes and say that you have a much better chance than an atheist? Lastly, whether or not an atheist is more persecuted than a Christian is irrelevant. The question should be, is atheism true or is Christianity true?

Evil Exists in the World: My favorite argument for the nonexistence of God comes from Epicurus: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

I’ve heard so many people say “God allows us to have free will. If we do evil with the gift of free will, it isn’t God’s fault, but our own.” That makes me want to do evil to the people who say worthless, thoughtless garbage like that. Is it really a little girl’s free will to be kidnapped, molested, raped, tortured, murdered, and left on the side of the road in a plastic bag? Is it really a woman’s free will to choose a man because he seems to be a good Christian only to find out that his spirituality has caused him to repress perversions that lead to his arrest for molesting children? Is it the free will of all those precious children who die of leukemia, or AIDS, or SIDS, or who are born into the world handicapped or diseased at no fault of their own? Whose free will was that?

Or was it just God’s will, because somewhere somebody had a lesson to learn from a little boy being born without hands and feet, or a little girl being born in a country where they practice clitoral disfigurement?

I just have to keep repeating myself. I find it ironic that Mr. Douglas cares about such acts he deems “evil.” Where does such a concept come from given the atheist worldview. Isn’t this just natural selection. It’s interesting that one of the Columbine shooters was wearing a shirt that said “Natural Selection.” Can an atheist argue this? According to their worldview, if anyone is murdered, raped, whatever – then they deserved it. If they couldn’t prevent it, then they needed to die. It was what was best for society. But even such a thought backhands us with outrage. But why? Isn’t death just a process of life? Many people spend countless hours trying to escape death as though they viewed it as an enemy. But it isn’t an enemy in a world where we are all just raw materials. The reason death is so odious to humanity is because it IS an enemy. It was a result of sin. And we hate it because we know, by the image of God, that it is contrary to the image in which we were created. Rape and the like are repulsive as well because it offends the image of God in which we were created. But men will suppress this knowledge foolishly complaining about it, but denying its true origin. Again, they have to take Christian ideas of morality and apply them to their atheism.

The Bible does not speak of the free will of men. The view of man’s free will is a manmade doctrine, as it seeks to make humanity the central focus of the Bible by philosophical conclusions. Again, man naturally hates the idea that God is in control and that God is holy, and subsequently, men are depraved. So, it is no surprise when particular “Christian” views seek to lessen God’s sovereignty or man’s depravity. Views contending that the God of the Bible can only get what He wants if men comply place sovereignty in the fist of men. What does the Bible say about the “free will” of man? Men are conceived and born in sin [Psalm 51:5]. Men are enslaved to sin [Romans 6:20]. Men are dead in sin [Ephesians 2:1]. The heart of man is deceitful and no one can know it [Jeremiah 17:9]. Man’s mind is hostile to God, and unable to submit to Him [Romans 8:7]. No one on earth does good [Ecclesiastes 7:20]. All of men’s “righteous” deeds are nothing but filthy rags to God [Isaiah 64:6]. It is because men are so depraved that evil is in the world.

The first man, Adam, was created sinlessly perfect, and with the freedom to violate that perfection. And he did. As a result, death entered the world, along with thorns, thistles, hardships, and suffering [Genesis 3; Romans 5:12]. And all of humanity became enslaved to sin. But how can God be all knowing and allow this to happen? God didn’t simply “allow” it to happen. He ordained it, as well as every act that is committed everywhere [2 Kings 19:25Isaiah 14:24; Isaiah 45:7Isaiah 46:10; Amos 3:6; Lamentations 3:38]. God has ordained that sinful men exist in the world so that His power and glory would be displayed in their destruction [Romans 9:22]. Although God displays His love in mercifully saving men through Christ, love is not His only attribute. And so, He displays His attributes of hatred toward sin, justice, and holiness through wicked men that His people might understand the condemnation that could have befallen them if not for His saving them. All things work together for the good of God’s elect people [Romans 8:28], that through them God would be glorified also through sinful men. Only these sinful men show the fruit of God’s salvation given to them without their deserving or meriting it in any way.

This does not make God evil, since He can do whatever He chooses to do with His own creation [Romans 9:21]. To say God would be evil would be to make God accountable to a law. But He is not accountable to anyone or anything. He is ex lex, or without law. God created man, and so man is accountable to God. The objection may arise, “Why would God still fault anyone since no one can resist His will?” The Bible answers this, “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” Romans 9:19-22

You may say, “I could never worship a twisted creature like that.” That’s true. And it will always be true, unless God grants faith and repentance to you. God is able to save everyone. God is able to have created a world in which everyone would be saved and no evil would have entered the world. But He decided not to because He is God and He is allowed to. That may not be sufficient enough for everyone, but it doesn’t matter. That isn’t a cop out, it is the truth.

I once desired to be God’s primary servant, and now I don’t believe in him at all. All it took was for me to choose to open my eyes and critically examine my beliefs. I know that argument and debate rarely does any good, because both sides often start out set in their ways and firm in the idea that they cannot be wrong and with the sole interest of changing their counterpart’s mind rather than learning something new for themselves. The solution to this is to question one’s own beliefs, one’s own safety zone, with a critical, apprehending eye. I set out to find God, and found that he wasn’t there. I contest that anyone who chooses to seek truth on their own, by questioning their own deep-seated beliefs like I did, will inevitably find that they may not be as true as they once thought.

…Unless, of course, they choose not to see it.

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

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4 thoughts on “Ten Responses to a Baptist Minister turned Atheist”

  1. Well I have read Gordon Douglas and your replies. I am sorry but I actually find his statement of how he got to his way of thinking more objective (and possibly more honest) than the standard stock answers you have given. He is explaining very concisely why he cannot accept the fundamentalist picture of God – and as far as I can see you are trying to drag him back to the very outdated notion of God he is trying to leave behind. Before you can convince him I believe you have to show that you have understood his basic argument.
    I believe for example that you have not understood just how flawed and shonky some of the Old Testament pictures of God were. This is not to say they did not probably represent the best thinking of the day, but it was a very simple minded and human (and even tribal) notion of God which was described. And I agree with Gordon Douglas that to follow such a God with what we know today would be silly. If however we were informing our faith from the latest discoveries and scientific understanding we might for example be able to accept the modern theologians’ helpful notions of God.
    For example it is hard to argue with Karen Armstrong’s Charter of Compassion – or Albert Einstein’s impersonal idea of a wonderful and mysterious force of creation. To go back to the childish ideas of fundamentalism eg inerrant scripture, to shut your eyes to the evidence of evolution and choose instead creationism, to believe in flat statements about notions of miracles in which the laws of nature are contradicted …. these are all ideas that I believe Gordon Douglas would have no reason to embrace – or for that matter the now outdated shonky science of the bible in which the Earth is flat and held up by pillars, in which there is a young earth (which contradicts the geological evidence), in which there was a world-wide flood despite the geological evidence that says there wasnt etc etc. The sad conclusion I get from your argument is only the uneducated can maintain their beliefs. Gordon is right that science moves on giving us a clearer and clearer idea of the way the world and universe actually is. But here is the point. Theology has also moved on and I find it hard to believe that wanting to go back to ignorant times when it is assumed the Bible is somehow magically imbued with inerrancy and in which other faiths dont count is hardly going to convince someone who is very clear about why he has moved past that notion.
    (You may even like to check out some of my essays on this and related topics sometime)
    http://billpeddie.wordpress.com

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    1. I am not trying to drag him to anything. I am not even directing this to him. I am only responding Biblically to him. His understanding of Scripture is sub-biblical. I understand his arguments. This isn’t the first time I am hearing them. I am only saying that he, like yourself, will always make excuses for not believing because God has not given you faith. Until He makes you see, you won’t see. You literally can’t. You may argue, “No! that’s not it!” And provide multiple reasons for why I am wrong, but it will only be evidence for the fact that you are enslaved to sin. You want me to have new arguments? For what? There may be new scientific arguments because science is forever changing. But Biblical arguments are always the same. I mentioned in the response that my simple response may not be satisfactory for folks, but it is the biblical response. You will never incline to the God of the Bible apart from faith. And that is something only God will give you. Until then, you will continue shaking a beggarly fist at your Creator. You say that the “God of the Old Testament” is flawed. Says who? You? Because He doesn’t fit a standard that somehow you believe is the perfect standard? Where does this standard come from?

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  2. I would have thought the standard for questioning the God portrayed in parts of the Old Testament come from Christ. In fact his interpretation was so upsetting to Old Testament thinking that some of the religious leaders had him crucified. If you insist on hanging on to the Old Testament God of Vengance, who advocates racism, inspires directions for sexual slavery, who uses leprosy and other diseases as punishment etc that is your right. If I choose to follow the God of Compassion, Love, forgiveness and the golden rule that is similarly my choice, but I cannot see the notions of compassion as the same as the earlier vengance versions.
    For example are you really telling me that Joshua being told to kill men women and children was really God talking. Was it really God’s instructions to kill people who carried wood on the Sabbath, to kill those who wore mixed fibre clothes, those who trimmed their sideboards, who ate ham or bacon or ate with Egypytians. Should we really believe God wants us to consider those with slanty eyes as under God’s condemnation? Was the God implied in Psalm 109 the God of Love talked about in the New Testament.
    In my reading Biblical arguments are not all the same as you suggest. Jesus is quoted as saying”You were taught an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – but I say unto you……” If you want to find out why I am a Christian and how I see have actually interpreted the Bible and reconciled my interpretation of developing knowledge to the Bible, why dont you check out my essay as I suggest. I find your suggestion that I am shaking my beggarly fist at my creator ludicrous and doesnt match my life choices in the slightest.
    http://billpeddie.wordpress.com

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  3. I question Douglas’ honesty. He has deceived himself. He says:

    “I used to believe that only my religion could be right, and that every other religion was wrong. I studied apologetics so I could prove this to anyone I met. Anyone else who claimed to know their religion was true deep in their heart was clearly suffering a Satanic delusion. At the exact same time, I believed a clearly mythological story with blind faith and nothing more to back it up than the fact that I knew deep in my heart that it was true. ”

    Okay, so on one hand, according to Douglas, religion is something one knows with heart knowledge – whatever that is. They don’t know it with their head, but instead with their heart. Yet at the same time he makes this claim about religion, he turns right around and claims to know religion is a myth. And how does he know this? Does he know this with his heart, as well? No. He knows it with his head. Isn’t that interesting.

    So he begins by arguing pragmatically. I have no problem with that necessarily My problem is, he doesn’t want religion to respond pragmatically. Even worse, his own pragmatic arguments concerning religion are without basis. While he makes certain claims about science that are nothing more than sheer, short-sighted examples of neo-Kantianism, he doesn’t want to give religion the opportunity to respond axiomatically. Most of the new atheists don’t. He, like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris, want to relegate religion to “heart knowledge” before the debate even begins.

    Atheists tend to despise the word, epistemology. Especially when they are in conversation with a Christian. When the Atheist is shown the weaknesses and limitations of empiricism and rationalism (neo-Kantianism), he finds himself with no leg to stand upon. He doesn’t know all knowledge is gained through propositions. Instead, he makes a heart-knowledge leap into irrationalism. He doesn’t realize his own arguments have been axiomatic, but because they’re axioms obtained empirically, they have tremendous problems right from the start.

    “I once desired to be God’s primary servant, and now I don’t believe in him at all. All it took was for me to choose to open my eyes and critically examine my beliefs. I know that argument and debate rarely does any good, because both sides often start out set in their ways and firm in the idea that they cannot be wrong and with the sole interest of changing their counterpart’s mind rather than learning something new for themselves. The solution to this is to question one’s own beliefs, one’s own safety zone, with a critical, apprehending eye. I set out to find God, and found that he wasn’t there. I contest that anyone who chooses to seek truth on their own, by questioning their own deep-seated beliefs like I did, will inevitably find that they may not be as true as they once thought.”

    What, may I ask, is a primary servant? Is he saying he wanted to be God’s sole servant? Neither very Christian or apologetic, you ask me. Another example of dishonesty? Probably.

    He argues argument isn’t any good, because both sides begin firmly entrenched, and with the sole purpose in mind to change the other side’s opinion. Well, that would be the reason for debate now, wouldn’t it. Why else have a debate. Funny enough though, he then informs us that the answer to this is to CHANGE OUR OPINION! Seriously. Look at what he says . . .

    “often start out set in their ways and firm in the idea that they cannot be wrong and with the sole interest of changing their counterpart’s mind rather than learning something new for themselves. THE SOLUTION TO THIS IS TO QUESTION ONE’S OWN BELIEFS, one’s own safety zone, with a critical, apprehending eye.”

    Of course, I especially like that parting shot. We all know Christians don’t at all have a faith that is established upon critical, apprehending argumentation – wink! wink!

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