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Atheism

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  • Atheism

    Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist. However, for the Christian, the declaration is reversed in that God has declared that Atheism does not exist as per Romans 1 - these supposed "Atheists" are in actuality mere rebels or deceived individuals who supress the truth of God in unrighteousness. Therefore, should we as Christian's even spend time trying to debunk this phantom worldview? Why grant them ground to stand on that does not even exist, as if they are on some morally neutral ground objectively analyzing arguments and such? The diagnosis of the Bible as to why people reject God and the gospel is not that they are lacking evidence but rather "they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Indeed, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2Cor. 4:4).

    So to what extent should we cater to the demands of unbelievers or affirm their presuppositions?

  • #2
    I just love them and try to live a consistent Christian life in front of them. I have found that some "atheists" just love to "get a rise" out of Christians, and will give up that routine when they see it doesn't work.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
      Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist. However, for the Christian, the declaration is reversed in that God has declared that Atheism does not exist as per Romans 1 - these supposed "Atheists" are in actuality mere rebels or deceived individuals who supress the truth of God in unrighteousness. Therefore, should we as Christian's even spend time trying to debunk this phantom worldview? Why grant them ground to stand on that does not even exist, as if they are on some morally neutral ground objectively analyzing arguments and such? The diagnosis of the Bible as to why people reject God and the gospel is not that they are lacking evidence but rather "they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Indeed, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2Cor. 4:4).

      So to what extent should we cater to the demands of unbelievers or affirm their presuppositions?
      I think to the extent that you know that the atheist is still open to receiving (or at least, discussing) the truth. There are a few atheists on this forum (whag comes immediately to mind) where they post threads asking questions just to get into arguments to do, essentially, atheist apologetics. I've learned to simply stop interacting with these people in any meaningful way when I realize that they're not open to honest discussion. It doesn't matter how articulate or convincing your argument is, or how sincere your desire is to have an open and honest discussion, these types of atheists have already locked their minds against what you have to say, and replying back to them simply offers them a soapbox that I'd rather they not have. And the thing is, unless you're someone like lilpixie, it takes way too much time and tenacity to argue with these people. If they can't win by rational discussion, they'll win by wearing you down with a shotgun load of questions they don't really want answers to. So its really a no-win situation. But there are agnostics and atheists on this forum who are much more open to a congenial type of discussion, and I've found that they're willing to consider what you have to say as long as there's a sense of reciprocity. There's not many of them, but there are a few.

      One of the arguments I used to hear for arguing with the hardheaded atheists is that you have to think about the audience who may be swayed one way or the other, but honestly I don't think that there are that many people browsing any given thread at one time. Maybe there'd be something to it if debate was done on even ground, but even before the relaunch of TWeb, Christians who have a really good grasp on their doctrine, philosophy, theology, apologetics, what have you, don't really debate in the apologetic subforums anymore. So what you have is like 1 guy in the apologetics subforums who knows his stuff versus like 5 anti-theists asking him a thousand questions that he can't possibly answer completely, and then you'll have one goofball unorthodox guy who's in there who undermines every point that one guy made. Its just an overwhelming mess a lot of the time. Back in the early-ish days when we had people like Glenn P, and Jaltus, and a number of other heavyweights in there who knew their stuff it was a different story, but I think they realized they were wasting their time too, and got called away doing more important things. So, whenever I see a Christian take the bait in some of the Apologetic threads now, I sort of wince because I kinda know how its going to go down.
      Last edited by Adrift; 01-13-2015, 09:26 AM.

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      • #4
        Edited by a Moderator

        Indeed you have - back to madhouse with you!
        Last edited by Bill the Cat; 03-04-2015, 09:23 AM.

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        • #5
          Edited by a Moderator

          No, that's "the god of this world" or "god of this age" - Not God.

          Source: MatthewHenry

          The god of this world hath blinded their minds, v. 4. They are under the influence and power of the devil, who is here called the god of this world, and elsewhere the prince of this world, because of the great interest he has in this world, the homage that is paid to him by multitudes in this world, and the great sway that, by divine permission, he bears in the world, and in the hearts of his subjects, or rather slaves. And as he is the prince of darkness, and ruler of the darkness of this world, so he darkens the understandings of men, and increases their prejudices, and supports his interest by keeping them in the dark, blinding their minds with ignorance, and error, and prejudices, that they should not behold the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. Observe, (1.) Christ's design by his gospel is to make a glorious discovery of God to the minds of men. Thus, as the image of God, he demonstrates the power and wisdom of God, and the grace and mercy of God for their salvation. But, (2.) The design of the devil is to keep men in ignorance; and, when he cannot keep the light of the gospel out of the world, he makes it his great business to keep it out of the hearts of men.

          © Copyright Original Source

          Last edited by Bill the Cat; 03-04-2015, 09:23 AM.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
            Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist. However, for the Christian, the declaration is reversed in that God has declared that Atheism does not exist as per Romans 1 - these supposed "Atheists" are in actuality mere rebels or deceived individuals who supress the truth of God in unrighteousness. Therefore, should we as Christian's even spend time trying to debunk this phantom worldview? Why grant them ground to stand on that does not even exist, as if they are on some morally neutral ground objectively analyzing arguments and such? The diagnosis of the Bible as to why people reject God and the gospel is not that they are lacking evidence but rather "they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Indeed, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2Cor. 4:4).

            So to what extent should we cater to the demands of unbelievers or affirm their presuppositions?
            Mainly I engage with them here to brush up on my own apologetics. Sometimes (very very rarely though) they might bring up something in the discussion that I hadn't thought of, heard or read before, which then requires me to research it = incentive to acquire more knowledge about it. More often than not, another Christian member here responding to the discussion will bring up something I hadn't thought of or known before = more knowledge added to my own. Hopefully, I can also do the same for Christians not as knowledgeable about the subject.

            But I"m with adrift. When you're dealing with people that have been here for literally years and years (even some getting banned over and over again) arguing the same thing everyday... you ain't going to sway these people lol.
            "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

            Comment


            • #7
              Scrawly,
              re: "Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist."


              Actually, I think that most atheists simply have a lack of belief in deities - hence the term athiest - i.e., without theism.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Scrawly View Post
                Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist.
                Most atheists don't believe in God, and agnostics are for all intents and purposes atheists, even if there's some subtle and in the end unimportant distinction between these groups.

                God has declared that Atheism does not exist as per Romans 1 - these supposed "Atheists" are in actuality mere rebels or deceived individuals who supress the truth of God in unrighteousness.
                Both when I was an atheist, and as a Christian I've wondered what this is really supposed to mean. As an atheist I wasn't secretly in my heart of hearts aware of God's existence. So at least I personally know that this text cannot be interpreted as meaning that all atheists are secret theists in some sort of odd self-denial.

                Therefore, should we as Christian's even spend time trying to debunk this phantom worldview?
                There are many reasons why you'd engage in apologetics and in the defense of the faith. This is something that all the Church Fathers have done regarding the doctrines, in particular on the nature of the Triune God. There's also great value in arguing against those of a different faith, whether, Jews or the Pagan. St. Thomas Aquinas said that the main value of such apologetics was not to be an instrument in convincing the person, but to evangelize, to bolster the faithful and to show the soundness of God's truth.

                Why grant them ground to stand on that does not even exist, as if they are on some morally neutral ground objectively analyzing arguments and such?
                You mean to say that objective arguments against atheism cannot be made? That would be very troubling for Christianity.

                The diagnosis of the Bible as to why people reject God and the gospel is not that they are lacking evidence but rather "they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Indeed, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2Cor. 4:4).
                So... atheists are really atheists, doesn't this contradict the claim you made in the beginning? Also I think your proof-texting is showing. Its not a good way to do exegesis, in particular here you seem to imply that God is doing something that The Devil is doing. "The god this age" is the Devil.

                So to what extent should we cater to the demands of unbelievers or affirm their presuppositions?
                Ah... pressuppositional apologetics? No thank you.

                How much should we grant? To the greatest extent possible in accordance with charity. Arguing with a person you should always try to grant as much to the person as you can. Otherwise you're no longer arguing anything.
                Last edited by Leonhard; 07-20-2015, 06:54 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Leonhard View Post
                  Most atheists don't believe in God, and agnostics are for all intents and purposes atheists, even if there's some subtle and in the end unimportant distinction between these groups.
                  This isn't at all the case. T.H. Huxley was very clear to make the distinction between an atheist and an agnostic. In fact, it was precisely because he did not believe he was an atheist that he decided to coin the term for his view.

                  Source: Life and Letters, 1, T.H. Huxley


                  When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis,"–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion. [...]. So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant; and I took the earliest opportunity of parading it at our Society, to show that I, too, had a tail, like the other foxes. To my great satisfaction the term took.

                  © Copyright Original Source



                  Source: The Agnostic Annual, T.H. Huxley

                  Some twenty years ago, or thereabouts, I invented the word "Agnostic" to denote people who, like myself, confess themselves to be hopelessly ignorant concerning a variety of matters, about which metaphysicians and theologians, both orthodox and heterodox, dogmatise with the utmost confidence; and it has been a source of some amusement to me to watch the gradual acceptance of the term and its correlate, "Agnosticism" (I think the Spectator first adopted and popularised both), until now Agnostics are assuming the position of a recognised sect, and Agnosticism is honoured by especial obloquy on the part of the orthodox. Thus it will be seen that I have a sort of patent right in "Agnostic" (it is my trade mark); and I am entitled to say that I can state authentically what was originally meant by Agnosticism. What other people may understand by it, by this time, I do not know. If a General Council of the Church Agnostic were held, very likely I should be condemned as a heretic. But I speak only for myself in endeavoring to answer these questions.

                  1. Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.

                  1. Consequently Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the "bosh" of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not.


                  I have no doubt that scientific criticism will prove destructive to the forms of supernaturalism which enter into the constitution of existing religions. On trial of any so-called miracle the verdict of science is "Not proven." But true Agnosticism will not forget that existence, motion, and law-abiding operation in nature are more stupendous miracles than any recounted by the mythologies, and that there may be things, not only in the heavens and earth, but beyond the intelligible universe, which "are not dreamt of in our philosophy." The theological "gnosis" would have us believe that the world is a conjuror's house; the anti-theological "gnosis" talks as if it were a "dirt-pie" made by the two blind children, Law and Force. Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may be beyond phenomena.

                  © Copyright Original Source



                  Many Agnostics themselves readily reject the label "atheist" as can be found here for example: http://apatheticagnostic.com/article...40/med796.html. The desire to redefine agnostic to mean something similar to atheist is mostly a recent invention in the interest of (as the linked article suggest) "trying to force open the term to include as many people as possible in their (Atheists) 'club'".

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rstrats View Post
                    Scrawly,
                    re: "Atheism is the declaration that God does not exist."


                    Actually, I think that most atheists simply have a lack of belief in deities - hence the term athiest - i.e., without theism.
                    Are you an orthodox Christian now?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Like Leonhard, I admit that I've also puzzled over that particular verse from Romans. I happen to be stopping by the seminary this afternoon and may browse through a couple commentaries in the library while I'm there.
                      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leonhard View Post
                        Both when I was an atheist, and as a Christian I've wondered what this is really supposed to mean. As an atheist I wasn't secretly in my heart of hearts aware of God's existence. So at least I personally know that this text cannot be interpreted as meaning that all atheists are secret theists in some sort of odd self-denial.
                        As an unbeliever I was never aware of a "secret" recognition of God. When I was saved, I realized that indeed I had known of the reality of God, but had hidden it away so I was not aware of it. The recognition was not just denied, I had no idea that I did know.
                        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Source: Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary by Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, pg. 66

                          Does gnoston in v. 19 refer to what is actually known about God, or to what is knowable about God? Against Cranfield, vv. 21, 28, and 32 suggest that Paul is not just talking about God making himself objectively known, so that it was possible for a pagan to know God to some degree. Rather, Paul is saying that in some sense they actually do subjectively know God. Otherwise, they could not have exchanged this truth for a lie or suppressed this knowledge. Paul deliberately uses a different verb, phaneroun "make evident," to speak of what is apparent from examining creation, as opposed to "reveal," which Paul uses of the source of knowledge of God's salvation plan and Son. "Paul admits that God's uprightness is revealed in the gospel, but he also maintains that people can perceive or come to a certain awareness of God's 'eternal power and divinity' from reflection on what he has made evident in material creation." Pagans are not judged for choosing not to avail themselves of knowledge of God but for rejecting the knowledge of God they actually have - knowledge that God exists and is powerful. Gnoston is an aorist participle and is much more easily understood to mean "having known." The complaint in v. 21 must be taken seriously.

                          Thus Paul is indeed talking about what has come to be called natural revelation in creation and natural knowledge of God based on this natural revelation. Unfortunately, that natural knowledge can be twisted, suppressed, misinterpreted, and totally perverted so that one ends up worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. And this is what Paul believes has happened. Thus again, the root problem is not ignorance but rather suppression of knowledge.

                          This comports with what we know of Greco-Roman reflection on such matters. For example, Cicero argues that when one examines the heavens and earth one cannot but believe that some god or higher power is responsible for such a magnificent, intricately designed, and enormous structure (Tusculan Disputations 1.29.70). In fact, in the Greek philosophical tradition natural theology goes back at least to Plato (Timaeus 28A-30C, 32A-35A) and was continued by his successors (e.g., Aristotle, De Mund. 6.397b-399b). This tradition of natural theology is found in early Jewish thinkers influenced by both their own tradition and the Greco-Roman tradition (e.g., Philo, Rewards and Punishments 43-46; Abraham 33.185; Josephus, Antiquities 1.154-56). So Paul stands in a long and time-honored line of those who have reflected about natural theology. But behind natural theology is, in the case of these Jewish writers, a theology of natural revelation. Paul believes, as Rom. 1.19 states, that there is only knowledge of God available through nature, because God has chosen to reveal himself in that fashion. He does not speak of humans ascending to or pursuing knowledge of God on their own.

                          © Copyright Original Source

                          Last edited by Adrift; 07-20-2015, 01:42 PM.

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                          • #14
                            This reminds me of one story from the Book of Mormon. I don't know if Mormons systematize more broadly based on this incident, but the "famous" incident of atheism in the BoM is the story of Korihor in Alma 30. Korihor ends up admitting he knew there was a God all along. I wonder if Smith was thinking of the Romans verse when he wrote this.

                            https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/30

                            No I'm not saying the BoM is scripture, I just think it's interesting.
                            "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't see why it's so hard to believe that one could legitimately suppress knowledge of God. If modern psychology and and sociology has taught us anything it's that humanity has mastered the art of denial.

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