Third Reason Why Atheism Makes Sense

Third Reason Why Atheism Makes Sense

For the past two days, we have examined two reasons why atheism makes sense to some people. As we said before, many people genuinely believe that there is no God and there can be many reasons for that. Today we want to examine a third reason why atheism makes sense. It involves a failure to see God working in the lives of people who claim to be Christians.

REASON 3. Christianity does not work. If there is a God, why does He not act when things get rough? Why do even the best Christians find themselves afflicted with disease and loss and even death? Why do so many Christians have nervous breakdowns, broken marriages, hostile children, alcohol and drug problems, and all of the other bad things which are a part of the world today? One man recently wrote to me, “Christianity only works for those who would do okay without it.” Another wrote, “The only thing I can see in prayer is its therapeutic value. Certainly, those who are afflicted and are Christians do not have a better survival rate than those who are afflicted and are atheists.” A third said, “I do not know of any Christian man in my community that does more good, is more generous, or is more successful than my neighbor who is an atheist. If God is real and Christianity is really worth anything, why is that true?”

RESPONSE. This challenge gets to where most Christians live. Can our friends tell any difference between us as Christians and our neighbors who are not? There are two major problems here. The first is that erroneous claims by some religionists have fouled the air. There are those who wear the name Christian who convey to the world the idea that Christians have diplomatic immunity from all problems. They preach what some call a “health and wealth gospel.” They teach that no person who is a real Christian will ever be sick or fail.

The truth is that God never gave Christians diplomatic immunity from problems. The emphasis on present-day miracles and the use of television to promote the claims of “faith healers” have given atheists much to criticize. Atheists, and even many believers, do not understand the advantages a Christian enjoys. When the Word of God says things like, “Seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given to you,” it is not speaking of physical and material things. God has not promised that Christians will have health, wealth, and freedom from problems. What He has promised is that He will bless those things we do to serve Him. There is no greater joy, greater fulfillment, greater satisfaction, or greater thrill than to see God work through us to accomplish something we could not possibly do alone.

The difference between an atheist and a Christian in dealing with infidelity in a mate is that the Christian can rebuild that marriage. The difference between the two in dealing with an alcohol or other drug problem is that the Christian can overcome it with God’s help. In dealing with death or tragedy, the Christian can cope and go on and continue to have a fulfilling life. In dealing with failure, the Christian can be secure and confident that it does not affect our eternal destiny.

ADVICE. It is vital that we convey to the world around us that when Christ lives in us, and we are spirit-filled people, we are not walking around two feet off the ground behaving as mystics. We Christians need to let the world know how much of a positive change God has made in our lives. Too often non-Christians view the Church as a group of somber, unhappy, irrational, mystical, illogical, unintelligent, hypocritical people who are out of touch with reality. This third reason why atheism makes sense is one that we can easily disprove as we can laugh, love, enjoy life, and logically and rationally defend our faith.

–John N. Clayton © 2019

Another Reason Why Atheism Makes Sense

Another Reason Why Atheism Makes Sense

Yesterday, we looked at one reason why some people choose atheism. Today we want to examine another reason why atheism makes sense. As I said yesterday, some people seem to think that there are no real atheists. Since I was an atheist for many years, I know that isn’t true. Many people genuinely believe that there is no God and they have various reasons. Here is a second reason:

REASON 2. Some argue that religion causes nothing but trouble, hostility, suffering, and discord. History is full of religious wars. We could point out the Crusades, more recent conflicts in Northern Ireland, and in much of the Middle East spilling over into terrorism in the United States and western countries. Examine the internal problems of religious groups including hypocrisy, bickering, hostility, and abuse. Look at the prominent religious leaders who are guilty of immoral actions. Look at the money raked in by glib, fast-talking con-artists who build religious empires for their own pocket. They exploit the very people they pretend to help. In simple terms, religion does not seem to work.

RESPONSE. Who among those of us who wear the name “Christian” would want to deny all of those charges? We can cry out that these are human errors and not God’s. However, if faith in God does not work for us, how can atheists rationally believe it is going to work for them? Today the body of Christ is afflicted with people who claim to be Christians while they single out other Christians to attack as they display anything but a Christian attitude.

What the atheist is missing in this argument is that hypocrisy is not solely a function of religion. You find hypocrisy at work and on the golf course. There has only been one person who ever lived who was entirely free of hypocrisy, and He was the Son of God. Because one atheist was a murderer, can we legitimately say that all atheists are murderers? Every human falls short of what he should be. The most fundamental difference between atheism and Christianity is that Christianity recognizes that fact and functions in spite of it. Atheism relies on humanism which tries to deny the existence of sin while pointing out the sins of religion.

ADVICE. Those of us who wear the name “Christian” need to do a better job of pointing people to Christ and the Bible rather than to preachers and buildings. As long as we are “preacher-oriented” and “building bound” we will continue to reinforce the arguments of the atheists. When we convince people about Christ and the truth of the Bible, the errors of humans will not be relevant. We must live out the faith we claim to have so that others see Christ in us. Only then can we can show them following Christ brings real peace.

Tomorrow we will look at another reason why atheism makes sense.

–John N. Clayton © 2019

Gene Editing Controversy Continues

Gene Editing Controversy Continues
We recently reported on the gene editing controversy when a scientist used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to produce “superior” human babies. Jiankui He, a Chinese geneticist, announced that twin girls had been born with genes edited by his medical team to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

For several years experts have predicted that it will be possible in the future to produce “designer babies” by the technique He has used. The twins’ father has HIV, but their mother does not. We pointed out previously that human knowledge is not good enough to know what collateral damage we may create in such a project. There are also issues about whether humans should ever genetically modify human life. Playing God has enormous responsibilities, and the gene editing controversy brings up concern about the old “Frankenstein Complex.”

Since He’s announcement there have been numerous articles and responses by experts in the field backing what we said in our article:

Researchers say there was virtually no chance the girls would have been infected with HIV since their mother doesn’t carry the virus.

No evidence can verify that the editing was successful and didn’t damage other genes.

Previous CRISPR/Cas9 research has shown that some cells in embryos may be incompletely edited or escape editing entirely creating what is called a “mosaic embryo.”

He was asked why the research was done in secret and why he chose to violate established rules of CRISPR/Cas9. He refused to answer those questions.

Julian Savulescu who is a bioethicist at the University of Oxford said, “I liken it to Russian roulette. You can pull the trigger and not kill, but it doesn’t mean that what you did was right.” We would suggest that this gene editing controversy is a classic of example of the fact that science cannot determine the way its discoveries will be used. In this case, it appears this was a desire to become famous, rather than trying to improve the well being of human life.

There are many Christians who are scientists working with CRISPR/Cas9 and who have stated their dismay and feeling that their greatest fears are being realized. The gene editing controversy continues, and we will hear more of this.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Holy Kiss Greeting Benefits

Holy Kiss Hugging
On at least five occasions the Bible encourages Christians to greet one another with a holy kiss. (See Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26 and 1 Peter 5:14.)

The Greek word used for kiss here is “philema.” It refers to a token of friendship as opposed to a kiss with sexual purposes. The holy kiss was a standard greeting in the world of Jesus’ day, but other greetings and salutations have the same emotional effect.

Some people think that a kiss or a hug is a way to spread cold germs from one person to another. The Carnegie Mellon Institute has been conducting studies as to the collateral effects of a kiss or a hug. They are seeking to learn what physiological or psychological value there might be. They concluded that this activity protects the participants from a common cold by alleviating stress and by bolstering the immune system. Carnegie Mellon Institute’s Michael Murphy reported the results of the study. He said, “A warm hug on the same day as an argument can boost positive feelings and reduce bad ones.”

Most of the things God calls us to do as we interact with each other have a practical value in dealing with life. Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 if you want to see more ways to make life better. A holy kiss or a hug should be easy, but the things Jesus presented in the Sermon on the Mount are much more difficult.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: Saturday Evening Post, January/February 2019, page 67.

Are Science and Faith Enemies?

Are Science and Faith Enemies?
Fifty-nine percent of the American public says that science and religion are often in conflict according to Pew Research in a survey conducted in 2015. Are science and faith enemies?

The report said that “Some 73% of adults who seldom or never attend religious services say science and religion are often in conflict, while half of adults who attend religious services at least weekly say the same.” The interesting thing is that just half of adults who attend religious services at least weekly say science and religion are often in conflict. Apparently, the people who are not religious see a conflict between science and faith more than religious people do. Perhaps that is the reason they reject faith in God. They have been told that science rules out the possibility that God exists. That is not true.

The point of the DOES GOD EXIST? program is to show that science and faith are friends, not enemies. The problem is that both believers and unbelievers would rather throw stones than resolve issues. Both sides have become entrenched in their own doctrines and refuse to follow the facts wherever they lead. There are Christians who build museums and insist that the universe cannot possibly be more than 10,000 (or even 6,000) years old. Some scientists write best-selling books saying that the existence of God has been disproven by evolution. Both cannot be right. However, but both could be wrong.

Are science and faith enemies? We say, “Absolutely not!” We suggest that the supposed conflicts between science and faith in God (and the Bible) have often been caused by bad science, or bad theology, or both. There has been a lot of both.
–Roland Earnst © 2019

Reference: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/22/5-facts-about-the-interplay-between-religion-and-science/

Surrogate Motherhood and Abortion Find Common Ground

Surrogate Motherhood and Abortion vs Loving Family
Surrogate motherhood is becoming more common. In a surrogacy contract, a woman agrees to allow someone to rent her body to have their child. The parents do that because of an issue that the mother cannot carry the baby, or because they just don’t want to go through the inconvenience of a pregnancy and birth. We have read of movie actresses who do this to avoid having to be off screen for 9 ½ months. Some fertility specialists are selling surrogacy as a part of their offering.

The January/February 2019 issue of Citizen magazine (page 13-15) reported the case of a surrogacy contract running into difficulty. The surrogate mother had agreed to deliver twins–a boy and a girl. A male embryo and a female embryo were implanted into her body. At that point, complications arose. The female embryo failed to implant, and the male embryo split into male twins. The surrogate mother developed pre-eclampsia, and her organs began to shut down forcing delivery of the baby boys ten weeks early. This caused the boys to battle for their lives in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The couple who had paid to have a boy and a girl became hostile because they weren’t getting what they had paid for. The couple were not interested in the boys, but the surrogate mother bonded with the twins. When they were placed in the neonatal unit, she was left “with a deep sense of emptiness, anxiety, and regret.” She is now advocating for a ban on surrogate motherhood.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear two cases on surrogacy issues. In both cases, the surrogate mothers wanted to keep the children. In one case the woman was carrying triplets for a single man who wished to abort at least one due to financial concerns. The other was a mother who learned that the couple she was working for had strong racial prejudices. In both cases, the surrogates lost. There are no national laws that deal with surrogacy, and every state is different. A documentary last fall titled “Big Fertility: It’s All About the Money” pointed out that the practice of surrogate motherhood exploits low-income women and families. We would suggest that surrogacy is wrong on a moral basis.

Like some other modern issues, the Bible doesn’t address surrogacy. The fact that the Bible does not condemn something doesn’t mean we can’t judge whether it is compatible with God’s will. The connection between mother and child during the pregnancy is unique. As the parent of three adopted children, I can tell you that the love we have as a family is massive. However, the relationship between my wife and my two girls was not the same as their relationship with their children born naturally. Data shows that babies bond with their birth mothers during the pregnancy.

Abortion advocates maintain that a baby is merely an extension of the mother’s body. So she has the right to exterminate the baby because it is just an unwanted part of her body. Surrogate motherhood assumes that the baby is a singular physical entity that can be engaged or terminated at the will of the adults involved, for any reason.

The Bible tells us that humans are uniquely created in the image of God. The baby possesses a soul and is fully human. Luke 1:41-44 tells us that when Elizabeth saw Mary who was pregnant with Jesus, the unborn John leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. The significance of motherhood is emphasized all through the Bible. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:15 that women “shall be saved in childbearing.” That doesn’t mean that women must have babies to be saved, but that the role of being a mother is sacred and unique.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

German Religious Tax

German Religious Tax
In Germany, when you fill out your tax forms for 2019, you are required to mark what religion you belong to. The state then collects a tax which is about 9% of the person’s income tax and distributes the money to the relevant church or synagogue. If you refuse the German religious tax, you will be denied access to church schools or day care centers, and you can even be denied communion or burial services.

The problem with this arrangement is that many religious groups do not register as public corporations, and groups such as Islam or the Church of Christ don’t have a national church system. The founder of a liberal mosque in Berlin, Seyran Ates, wants to establish a “democratic Islamic Council” but conservative Muslims want no part of such an idea. Groups like the Church of Christ which do not have a national board or assembly are opposed to any solution on very much the same idea.

The German religious tax is not biblical. Jesus told His followers to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). However, the Bible also makes giving a personal decision that is between the giver and God (2 Corinthians 9:7). When those guidelines are not followed, the chaos that results will eventually destroy religious freedom.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Making a Cake of Life

Making a Cake of Life
When I was a child, my mother used to “farm me out” to a family that lived in Brown County, Indiana. Their home was near Salt Creek where I could fish and hike to my heart’s content. Alice and Earl Page were my hosts, and they both loved to play jokes on me. One of them involved making a cake.

One rainy day I sat in the kitchen and watched Alice make a cake, although she didn’t tell me what she was making. She took a block of chocolate and asked me if I wanted a bite. Naturally, I did, but it was bitter chocolate, and I quickly spat it out. She opened a bottle of vanilla she was using and had me smell it. It was Hoosier vanilla, not the Mexican kind we have today. When I tasted the “Hoosier vanilla,” I could hardly believe something that smelled that good could taste that bad. The next ingredient was a spoon full of lard, which Alice even got me to taste. Then she handed me a paper towel to get it out of my mouth.

Alice put all of these things along with lemon juice, baking powder, etc., into a bowl and asked me to stir it up. “We’re having this for supper,” she announced. I started thinking about a way to eat somewhere else. You know that when supper rolled around, there was this wonderful fragrance floating through the kitchen. I found that it was a real treat to eat all those horrible ingredients when baked together.

Do you realize that your life is like making a cake? Your cake of life is made up of a lot of ingredients that in and of themselves are very distasteful. Look at the Apostle Paul for a minute. In Acts 22:3-21 Paul reveals his ingredients for making a cake. He was born a Jew in Tarsus and educated at the feet of Gamaliel. He became a primary persecutor of Christians (Galatians 1:11-24) making havoc of the Church (Acts 8:3). Paul had a religious experience that was traumatic in Acts 9, and he spent three years in exile in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). His ministry began in Acts 13 with years of violence, abuse, imprisonment, conflict, and trouble. It finally ended in 2 Timothy 4:6 at the end of his life.

What ingredients are making a cake in your life? They haven’t all had a good taste, have they? All of us have had rejection, failure, disappointments, sickness, the death of loved ones, and frustrations with human beings. Included in making a cake of your life has been sin, neglect, faithlessness, and failure; but Christ enables us to go through a fantastic change to newness. Romans 6 talks about baptism allowing us to die to sin and live a new life. Paul writes, “…being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have the ability to bear fruit to holiness and at the end, everlasting life. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God (the cake that life has baked) is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:22, 33).

As we start a New Year, let us begin a new life that radiates a change that blesses others. Look at your past as ingredients that have allowed you to leave a good taste in the eyes of God and man.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Christmas Traditions vs. Bible Facts

Christmas Traditions vs. Bible Facts
It is interesting to see how many Christmas traditions are not found in the Bible. A classic example is the song “We Three Kings” which we often hear at Christmas time. Tradition even identifies those “kings” by name, appearance, and which gift each brought. They are:

Melchoir – old – white hair – bringing gold – a gift for a king.
Gaspar – young – beardless – bringing frankincense – a fragrant gum – smoke from burning is said to symbolize the prayers of God’s people ascending.
Balthazar – black – heavy beard – bringing myrrh – a fragrant resin from Arabia used in embalming (John 19:39, Psalms 45:8, Proverbs 7:17).

The Bible does not mention how many there were. It just says that they came from the east to Jerusalem. The word translated “wise men” in Matthew 2:1 is also used in Acts 8:9,11 and Acts 13:8 in reference to a sorcerer. The biblical reference to them being kings is Psalms 72:10 – a Psalm written for Solomon which mentions three kings from Tarshish, Sheba, and Seba. Matthew 2:11 tells us the three gifts.

Who saw the “star?” The shepherds of Luke 2:8-20 did not see the star, but were told about the birth of Christ by an angel. Herod didn’t see the star even though the birth was not far from Jerusalem. Since the wise men were not Jews and apparently were from a sorcerer type of background, they came from their homes to Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. When they learned the baby was to be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5-6), they were guided by the “star” to the place where Jesus was. Christmas traditions often place that in the manger. Matthew 2:11 says the young child and his mother were in a house. The fact that Herod killed all the baby boys in the area that were two years old or younger indicates that the wise men come at a later date to the house where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were living.

So what was the “star.” It certainly was not a typical star. Normal stars don’t move and stand over a manger, and they would have been visible to Herod or anyone else in the region. Modern attempts to explain the star as a comet, a supernova, or an aurora simply don’t work. The conception of Christ was a miracle. You don’t explain it by parthenogenesis or any scientific method. You either accept it or reject it on faith. Similarly, the star the wise men saw was not a natural object, and they knew that. In the Old Testament, there was a pillar of fire that led Israel out Egypt and into the promised land. The ancient Jews called it the Shekinah glory (See Exodus 13:21, 24:17, 40:48 and Ezekiel 1:28, 10:18-19, and 11:23).

Christmas traditions aside, the wise men from the east would be part of the ancient oriental world, and they would have carried the message to the Gentiles in that area. The shepherds represent the Jewish community of the area where they shared the news. The story is amazing, beautiful and pregnant with meaning. It doesn’t need the embellishments of modern Christmas traditions.

If you are interested in learning more about Christmas traditions vs. Bible facts, we recommend a book called Star of Jacob by Wayne Leeper. You can borrow it from this ministry or purchase it at THIS LINK.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Christianity Changed the World

Christianity Changed the World
We thought the following article titled “How Christianity Changed the World” was an excellent summary of what we have been saying. It was printed in Citizen Magazine, November 2018, page 30. We are sharing it here by permission:

Do you sometimes think our culture is at the crossroads, tipping toward the gates of Hell? If so, you’re not the first to wonder if the Church will make a difference in a pagan culture.

Jesus began building His Church in a dark and depraved world that devalued life and denigrated marriage. The Greco-Roman culture of that day was brutish and violent; mercy, pity, and compassion were viewed with contempt.

Into this environment, early believers brought a message of God’s deep love for people. Empowered and transformed by the Holy Spirit, they modeled a gospel of grace and compassion. Along the way, they transformed the world.

Be encouraged that what our generation faces today is not new. The Church has been here before, and it prevailed. Here are some key ways the Church made a difference:

Christianity taught and demonstrated the dignity and sanctity of human life. The gladiator “games” vividly depict the Romans’ callous disregard for human life. Crowds of bloodthirsty spectators watched as slaves, prisoners, and criminals fought to the death or were torn apart by wild animals. Christians were vocal in their opposition to these horrific spectacles and encouraged believers not to attend. After hundreds of years, as Christian influence grew, the games were finally shut down. Christians also displayed their value for life in positive ways, helping the sick and needy, eventually building hospitals, hospices, institutions for the blind and homes for the elderly.

The early church advocated for children. Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were common in the ancient world. The early Church carried the biblical belief that children are made in God’s image and are a gift from Him. Jesus’ followers fought to protect life with their teaching and their actions. They practiced their faith by rescuing abandoned children, providing care and adopting them into families.

Christians proclaimed God’s good design for sexuality and marriage. In the folklore of the time, pagan gods and goddesses engaged in art kinds of sexual immorality. Not surprisingly, their worshipers followed their example. The Church rejected this decadent ethic and elevated the importance of sexuality and marriage. Scripture taught that God ordained marriage and that it was a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church. Men were called to sacrificially love their wives and wives were to respect their husbands.

Christianity also elevated the status of women. In a world where many wives were treated almost like slaves, the early Church included women in leadership. Women played a vital role in supporting the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. The Church grew as women were drawn to a faith where they were valued and respected.

The world is immeasurably different thanks to centuries of Christians living out their faith. Their example should be an inspiration to us today as we lift up the values of human life and God’s design for marriage.

As we end this year and look forward with hope to a new one, we want to thank Citizen Magazine for allowing us to share these thoughts about how Christianity changed the world. We would add to this essay the fact that skeptics like to point to the errors of organized religion in the past. Those errors occurred because humans did things the Bible didn’t endorse or command. The broader picture shows a hugely positive action in Christianity when Christians have followed God’s teaching and Christ’s example.
–John N. Clayton © 2018