When I think of the actor Rowan Atkinson, I think of Mr. Bean. I’m sure anyone who knows of Rowan thinks the same thing. I remember my earliest memory of Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean was an English sketch comedy show. Particularly, in this one sketch, he was sitting next to a man on a park bench. Mr. Bean began making a sandwich next to him in a really weird way. I remember what was fascinating to me was that Mr. Bean didn’t really talk in the sketches. Now, some twenty years later, my son seems to like the show now. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t like it. It was all about slapstick comedy, and I thought it was pretty funny. Well, I saw the following image today on the Internet that was apparently released by the Atheist Republic. It features Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson. And this time he’s talking. Check it out:
Now, I don’t know if he is an atheist or not. But since an atheist group is using this quote, let’s just assume he is for the sake of this post. At the very least, Rowan will simply serve as a representation of this group. I’ve noticed that a few other atheist sources have used this quote as well. This quote was made a few years ago to the House of Lords in opposition to the Blair government’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill that sought to criminalize any parody or insult toward any religion.
I was surprised by the quote in two ways:
1) Rowan poses a question that exposes presuppositions that are contrary to his worldview.
2) Dude, Mr. Bean is an atheist.
So let’s briefly take a look at what Rowan says and pick it apart:
What is wrong with inciting intense dislike of a religion if the activities or teachings of that religion are so outrageous, irrational or abusive of human rights that they deserve to be intensely disliked?
There is nothing wrong with disliking a religion that is abusive to human rights or irrational. The Bible is neither. I’m sure atheists can try and refute this idea by isolating verses enough to be dangerous and make it appear as though they’ve read the Bible and are being fair to both sides. But the bottom line is that Scripture says the natural mind is hostile to God. So even if you have someone who isn’t outwardly expressing anger at the mention of Jesus Christ, his mind nevertheless will reject God. It can do no other. It is dead in sin, and unless God grants such a one faith and repentance, it will continue to reject Him. Now, if you notice, of Rowan’s list – what if a religion is “outrageous, irrational, or abusive” – I only mentioned the claims of irrationality and abusiveness. I understand the claims of the Bible are outrageous. They aren’t irrational, because God isn’t irrational (I’ll explain later) and they aren’t abusive, despite the fact that many have been abusive in the name of Christianity. But outrageous, yes. The apostle Paul affirms this idea of the gospel being outrageous or foolish:
20 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? 21 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. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:20-25
It pleased God to bring spiritually dead people to life through the preaching of the gospel. It pleased God that the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, was born of a virgin, named Jesus, grew up to be a man who hadn’t sinned, but lived perfectly obedient to God’s law. He never sinned. Then He was handed over to the Roman government to have his body whipped to ribbons, and then be nailed to a wooden cross. He died on that cross, and was buried in a tomb. Three days later He resurrected from the dead, and over a period of 40 days, appeared to His disciples, over 500 people, and the apostle Paul. Then He ascended and sat down at the right hand of the first person of the Trinity, God the Father. From there Jesus will reign and rule until all enemies are placed under His feet. The last enemy is death. And God did this for people who would believe that this was done for them. You might be asking, “Done for them? What did that have to do with anyone beside Jesus?”
Humanity is born sinful. And Rowan agrees that to some extent this is true. That’s why he accuses religion of wrongdoing. In other words, he realizes there is imperfection in the world. And I think a lot of people will readily admit that no one is perfect. I also think in doing so, they’d admit someone is better than them because if we are honest with ourselves we would admit that we aren’t perfect. But it isn’t as though we are just making ‘boo boos’. Being sinful means that we are constantly breaking God’s law and accumulating a huge (understatement) debt against Him. The Bible says everytime we break one law, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. Even doing good things won’t make up for it anymore than asking a judge to let off a murderer or a rapist for the times they hadn’t raped or murdered. And God is a perfect judge. He doesn’t let people off without justice being served. You wouldn’t expect that from an earthly judge. Imagine if someone murdered your family and the judge told you, “Hey, look, I let that guy off because I’m a loving and kind judge.” Part of us cringes at the thought. And that feeling in us is part of how God created us, in His image – ie attributes like morality, justice, etc. In short, if we die without that sin debt being paid, we will die lawbreakers in God’s sight.
This is why Jesus came. As I mentioned, he was the second person of God’s triune nature – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is one being (God) and three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) like I am a being (human) and one person (Chris). Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life so that this life could be given in the place of our lawbreaking lives – so that those who believe in this good news whon’t have their crimes held against them. Instead, they will be viewed as though they had never sinned, despite the fact that they have and continued to sin til the point of death. He was tortured and crucified on behalf of believers too. That torture and crucifixion was the outpouring of God’s wrath toward the sin believers have accumulated. It was the justice that should have befallen believers. Instead He was treated as though He had committed it. The payment for that debt was made.
He rose again, proving that He was the Son of God, and that death had no power over Him. In the same way, death has no hold on believers. They too will be raised to eternal life. Those who don’t believe will be thrown into what the Bible calls the lake of fire where they will be destroyed.
It sounds outrageous! But it pleased God to use this message to call His people to Himself.
Now, let’s take a look at why what Rowan says is so contrary to his worldview. He assumes that it shouldn’t be wrong to incite intense dislike for a religion whose teachings are outrageous, irrational, or abusive to human rights. In this case, Rowan says, they “deserve” to be intensely disliked. What does an atheist believe about the origin of humanity? Basically, the atheist believes that we had all evolved from a preexistent materials – something that has been referred to as “primordial ooze”. Makes me think of the Ninja Turtles. For the atheist, what you see is what you get in the universe. That is, there is only matter. There is only the physical. And that is what we are – just atoms doing what atoms do. There is no basis for anything transcendent. So the notion that something is wrong or right or outrageous or irrational has no place in the naturalistic materialist world of the atheist. For Rowan to say that something is wrong, shows that he presupposes an objective standard of right. Sure, most people would say morals are dependent on the culture, and aren’t objective. But they don’t believe that. What if I started a culture that said stealing, rape, and murder was mandatory? People would think I was starting a cult. Would you want to be part of that culture? I think it’s safe to say that you don’t.
You hear people say this constantly, “I don’t need religion to tell me what’s right and wrong” as though that refutes Christianity. It actually strengthens it. As I mentioned earlier in the post, humanity has been created in God’s image, though that image has been infected greatly with sin. This image is the reason why we find things to be right and wrong, and why we would make statements like Rowan made saying that certain instances “deserve” to be disliked. But in the atheist worldview, there are no grounds for believing this. There are no grounds for an objective standard of truth. There are no grounds for an objective standard of logic or reason (that functions on the presupposition of logic). There are no grounds for an objective set of morals. In an atheistic worldview, none of these things can be supported. In fact, there really is no difference between me and this seat I’m in or this laptop on which I type. The only real difference as far as the atheist can tell is that our atoms are put together differently. That’s it. I’m sure they’d argue that we are more than that, but they’d be arguing against their own worldview.
Ted Bundy was a serial killer. If I’m not mistaken, the term “serial killer” began as a result of his murders. He basically killed women and had sex with them either while they were dying or long after they had died. Yah. He was imprisoned and escaped. Then imprisoned then escaped. Then imprisoned and given the electric chair. All in all, pretty gross. Anyways, he had a very interesting quote that I love to bring up because it makes a pretty strong point. He displays for us a consistent worldview, and one I have yet to hear an atheist argue against. Here is Ted Bundy on the topic of subjective morals:
“Then I learned that all moral judgments are ‘value judgments,’ that all value judgments are subjective [it just depends on how you think about them], and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’…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.” (Christian Research Journal, Vol 33, No 2, 2010, 32)
Think this is sick? Me too. If your an atheist, I have to wonder why you think you are offended? See, for Rowan to argue the way he does, and for you to find this absolutely disgusting would be inconsistent with your worldview. There should be no reason to feel that way. To argue the way Rowan does and to find this quote absolutely disgusting would be to borrow from the Christian worldview that gives grounds for objective morality, logic, employing reason, etc. What’s worse, for someone like Rowan to use morality against Christianity is like holding someone’s arm and slapping them with their own hands asking, “Why you hitting yourself? Why you hitting yourself? Why you hitting yourself? Why you hitting yourself?” The person holding the arm is incapable of slapping with their own hands. In the same way, Rowan like atheists before him, can’t destroy Christianity unless he steals from it first.