Category: Christianity

Four (and a bit) reasons why the world would be a darker place without Christ

Human beings are sinful, so it should come as no surprise that Christianity has a less-than-perfect past. There are lunatics on the fringe of every movement and bad actors in every play. Despite this, when it comes to transforming societies for the better, Christianity is peerless.

In today’s increasingly-secular society, however, detractors and sceptics rejoice in heaping judgement and scorn on Christianity – but it rarely asks, “compared to what?”

The “what” is usually some form of secular utopia. But secular utopias have an abysmal track record, with hundreds of millions killed for ‘the greater good’ by the apostles Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche. Secularism, wherever it has been officially implemented, has produced some of the most efficient butchers the world has ever known.

And then there’s Islam. Yeah.

So – when a society combines secularism and a charitable view of Islam and calls it “progress,” it jettisons 2000 years of human history. But the history is clear: the life and teachings of Jesus have not only revolutionised our thinking about God but have had a tremendous impact on civilization that continues to this day around the world. Here are four (and a bit) reasons why.

1. Scientific Endeavour

Way back when we knew little about how the world worked, Christians, inspired by a belief that the world was designed and purposed, reckoned that, if they went looking, they would discover a fine-tuned and law-abiding universe. And that’s exactly what they found.

The atheist, by contrast, had no reason to look for anything because built into atheism is the a priori assumption that everything just happened. An atheist expecting to find reason and order in the universe is like someone expecting the mess of a broken egg to spell out the winning lottery numbers.

Christianity, on the other hand, taught that there was a single rational being called God, giving rise to the possibility of scientific laws. And being made in the image of a rational God meant that Christians could employ a rational process to investigate the world in which they lived.

And we don’t have to look hard for evidence of this. Nearly all the founders of modern science were devout Christians (Keppler, Bacon, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur, Newton, etc.) History professor Rodney Stark writes:

“The leading scientific figures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries overwhelmingly were devout Christians who believed it was their duty to comprehend God’s handiwork.”

It’s true that other religions and philosophies were around too at this time, but, as Stark suggests, science could not have arisen from these worldviews:

“Unlike the godless religions of Asia and the capricious gods of other faiths, the God of the Bible was a rational Being whose creation operated on laws that were discoverable and could be applied to solving problems for the benefit of mankind —an understanding essential for the rise of science.”

2. Charity. Lots and lots of charity.

Evolutionary psychology reduces all human behaviour to masked self-interest, so charity within an atheistic secular framework is nothing more than mutual back scratching.

Perhaps this explains the miserable dearth of expressly atheistic charitable efforts in the world (unless it’s to give the middle finger to Christians or to point people away from charities that disagree with them on cultural issues). Other religious cultures, with their caste systems and Jizyas, fare little better.

But Christianity is radically different from everything else on the market. Christianity teaches that all are made equal in the image of God, regardless of social standing, race, ability, or gender (more on that later). Jesus’ ministry called for His followers to serve the neediest, lowest, and most despised in society, even (and especially) if they don’t get their backs scratched in return. In fact, Jesus’ teachings have had such a transformative impact on our charitable thinking that it’s easy to imagine a world akin to a Mad Max film had He never been born.

There are, of course, some worthy secular charities, but they mainly exist within the realm of a cruciform West. And it’s the Christian charities that, as they always have done, lead the way. Take for example the following charities, all founded upon expressly Christian convictions: the Salvation Army, Tear Fund, Children’s Hunger Fund, World Vision, Home Leone, Christian Aid, Christians Against Poverty, Bernardo’s, the Free Burma Rangers – a church-funded group of ex-soldiers who rescue civilians from the grip of ISIS (4:45s into this video shows them going out under sniper fire to rescue a small girl hiding underneath her dead mother’s dress). I could go on, but it’s important to keep a word limit on a blog.

3. Human rights.

Feminists in vagina hats think that they were the first to #TrustWomen, but they’re wrong. Jesus beat them to it 2000 years ago – and it didn’t involve killing any unborn children.

Think about this: the resurrection is a sine qua non of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Christianity is hokum and all Christians are dupes. So it’s remarkable that the first people to witness the resurrected Christ – that is, the people in whom the entire validity of the Christian story was entrusted to – were women. And this was at a time when the testimony of a woman was less than that of a dog’s. Put that in your progressive pipe and smoke it.

This high view of women continued throughout the ages. In the Greco-Roman world, it was common practice to throw female newborns out to die from exposure, such was the low status of females. The church, which has always been counter-cultural, forbade its members to do so. The anti-choice bigots.

The rights of children, too, have benefitted immensely from Christianity. In the ancient world, infanticide, much like abortion today, was not only legal but applauded and sometimes considered an act of beauty. Thanks to a right understanding of human value and equality, it was the early Christian church that put an end to it.

We see the same thing today. There is no shortage of secular ideologues who question the value of disabled and unwanted human beings. Some even argue outright for infanticide. This is because they have exchanged the Creator for something in creation (in secular atheism’s case, God is exchanged for materialism – the belief that nothing exists except matter). And in doing so, they have exchanged a high view of humans made in God’s image for a low view of humans made in the image of matter. And how do people treat matter? Well, that depends if it’s useful or not. If you’re useful to society, great, you’re in. If not, then, to quote Richard Dawkins, “abort it and try again”.

In sharp contrast, the concept of true human equality comes exclusively from the biblical idea that human beings are more than the sum of their matter. They are created in the image of God, so the emergence of human rights from Christianity is merely par for the course. This is why there are so many Christian charities. This is why there are so many hospitals (and universities) named after saints.

Of course, as I pointed out at the start, not all Christians – or at least those who claim to be Christian – have been respecters of human rights, but in order to behave that way, they must ignore every fundamental edict of Christ in order to do so.

4. Art, Music, & Literature

Firstly, let me be upfront here and apologise, on behalf of Christians everywhere, for Christian rock.

Right. Now that that’s out of the way, it’s uncontroversial to say that the impact of Christianity on the arts has been immeasurable, influencing such literary greats as Dante, Chaucer, Donne, Lewis, Tolkien, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, etc., etc.

The powerful impact of Christianity on storytelling makes sense because at the core of every story – whether it’s a film, song, or poem – is a saviour (this is why superhero films are so popular) and an objective understanding of good and evil. These innate human truths and desires are only logically and coherently supported within a biblical framework. As Tolkien poignantly put it:

“Man the story-teller would have to be redeemed in a manner consonant with his nature: by a moving story. But since the author of it is the supreme Artist and the Author of Reality, this one was also made . . . to be true on the Primary Plane.”

You’ll not hear anything close to that level of insight coming from Dan Brown.

Christ also greatly inspired the works of greats like Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach (or MC Hammer, if you’re so inclined) – musicians working to honour God with their work (Bach signed all his works with Soli Deo Gloria (“Solely to the glory of God”)) – and the results are pieces of timeless beauty. Not to mention Gospel choirs and all the hymns we’re familiar with.

While there is, of course, plenty of great non-Christian music, espousing secular ideas from the heartfelt to the dangerous to the vapid, Atheists Don’t Have No Songs. That’s because atheism is nothing to sing about – and the atheist soul knows it, even if the atheist doesn’t. And other religions, beyond repetitive chanting, aren’t exactly renowned for their musical output, either.

Then there’s art and architecture, both of which have been magnificently impacted by Christ. While much of modern art trades on the currency of subjectivity, producing art that is literally piss, classical Christian art brings out the best of humanity by pointing us to a higher plane; just look at all the incredible architecture, particularly the magnificent cathedrals of Europe. Humanists can keep their Premier Inn conference rooms adorned with Ikea prints; give me an old church building to look at any day of the week.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, the powerful Christian impact on societies that take the above seriously should be recognised by anyone interested in truth. The bigger question, which falls outside the scope of this blog, is will our secularised society be willing to put aside the Enlightenment myths and acknowledge just how much they have benefitted from living in a culture built on the beliefs they now abhor?

Alas, probably not.

atheism matrix christianity

Life in the Matrix: three insurmountable problems of atheism

I’m not afraid to admit that there are difficulties with theism. There are things that are hard to understand, and there are things that are unpalatable. These problems, however, are nothing – nothing! – compared to the insurmountable problems with atheism.

In fact, out of all the options out there, atheism is by far the least persuasive explanation of the way things are. Here are three reasons why:

1. The existence of evil

If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that evil happens in the world. Whether that’s terror attacks, the unfair distribution of wealth, cancer or whatever; most agree that evil is an objective feature of reality. And this, say some atheists, is a good enough reason for rejecting the idea of God (as emoted by Stephen Fry in that interview on RTÉ). To a certain degree, I can understand this view. The world is demonstrably full of evil and it can be difficult to reconcile this fact of reality with a loving God.

For the atheist who is an atheist because of evil, however, this doesn’t get them off the hook. Getting rid of God does not get rid of evil because now the atheist has to solve the problem using the limited resources of naturalism. And they’re not going to get very far with naturalism even making sense of evil, never mind solving it, because, as celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins puts it, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference”.

In other words, excrement happens.

The existence of evil, therefore, is actually an argument for God. When an atheist says ‘evil,’ they assume there is such a thing as ‘good’. When they assume there’s such a thing as good, they assume there’s such a thing as an objective moral law by which to judge between good and evil. But if they assume an objective moral law exists, then they must posit some sort of lawgiver – which is the very thing they say doesn’t exist!

2. You can’t get living stuff from dead stuff

For atheism to be true, it must meet the minimum requirement of life coming from non-life (abiogenesis). If life can’t be shown to come from non-life, then we can’t even get started. But how did life come from non-life? As yet, nobody has come up with any answers. There are competing theories, of course, but they’re merely starting places offered up by materialists, many of which (all?) have been quickly shot down by other materialists.

And as time goes on and the more we learn about the complexities of chemistry and biochemistry – and even the complexities of the simplest of living cells – we realise that the problem of getting life from non-life is not going to be solved by any naturalistic explanation.

Of course, atheists (at least the ones I’ve engaged with) usually answer this problem with: “Life came from non-life because we’re here. Therefore, it happened.” But this is circular reasoning, the atheist equivalent to, “The bible is true because the bible says it’s true”. It is based on naturalist presuppositions that won’t be disturbed by evidence. It is philosophy, not fact.

3. The existence of consciousness

One of my favourite films from my yoof is The Matrix, a sci-fi action thriller set in a dystopian future where reality turns out to be a computer simulation run by sentient machines – the Matrix. It’s a bit like how the DVLNI works, only with sunglasses and cool music. Early on in the film, the hero, Neo, meets a character called Morpheus, who offers him a choice between taking a red pill, which will show Neo the harsh truth about reality and a blue pill, which will keep him blissfully ignorant.

This is not unlike atheism. Instead of being enslaved and subdued by sentient machines, the logical conclusion of atheism is that humans are enslaved and subdued by an evolutionary need to survive. Our brains are hardwired for survival, nothing more, nothing less. “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music,” says Dawkins. On atheism, then, humans are nothing more than fleshy automatons.

The Atheist philosopher and science historian, William Provine, succinctly  states:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.

Another atheist philosopher, Daniel Dennett, agrees: “Consciousness is an illusion of the brain, for the brain, by the brain.” (Thought: since consciousness is an illusion of the brain, and Dennett used his brain to make that statement, why should our brains believe his brain?)

If these atheists are correct, then things like justice and love are nothing but simple chemical reactions bouncing about in our meat computers. Breathtaking scenery is nothing more than light waves, and music is just bouncing molecules. None of these things is actually real. They are useful fictions that help aid human survival.

But there is an even bigger problem. If consciousness is just an illusion of the brain, then who or what makes our decisions? If consciousness is a mere effect of chemical reactions in the brain, then the conscious act of deciding is not our own, but rather our head meat responding to stimuli beyond our control. There is no such thing as ‘choice’  (sorry all you ‘pro-choice’ atheists out there, that’s a meaningless term on your view), rationality, freethought or consciousness. We are merely slaves, born into evolutionary bondage.

Most atheists, though, take the blue pill. That is, to quote Morpheus, they “wake up in their beds and believe whatever they want to believe”. These are the atheists who believe things like justice and love to be real things, worth fighting for. These are the self-styled ‘freethinkers’ (ha! If only they knew!), who meet up in Premier Inns to discuss which religious aspects of their particular corner of the Matrix they dislike the most.

Then, the higher up the atheism ladder you go, atheists like Dennett and Provine (and others like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne), take the red pill. These atheists are aware of the true nature and consequences of atheism and are happy to tell us how deep the rabbit hole of atheism goes. They know there is no ultimate meaning, for anything or anyone. In fact, some of them even argue that we could actually be living in a Matrix!  Anything but God, I suppose.

So when an atheist rejects God, it’s important to ask the question, “Ok, so God doesn’t exist, now what? What is true, and how would you support it?” Because when you study the alternatives, giving up Christianity is not merely rejecting the hymns you were made to learn in Sunday school or railing against the DUP for tying up the swings on Sunday that one time.  It’s giving up on a complete system of thought that underpins the kind of Western culture everyone wants to live in, from justice to compassion to a binding corpus of human rights based on a coherent understanding of what it means to be human – none of which an atheist can ever hope to account for, regardless of which pill they choose.

 

Christianity in tatters as ancient discovery questions nativity (again)

For the umpteenth Christmas running, skeptics and freethinkers have called into question the reliability of Christianity after a bargain hunter discovered the oldest nativity scene ever found — an ancient artifact depicting three wise men and a baby.

The artifact, now badly sun-faded and covered in crisps, was found in the stock room of a charity shop just outside Lurgan, during an attempt to find a pair of suit trousers for a Job Seeker’s interview / funeral.

“It contains imagery that is completely identical to the Christmas story. But it predates it by thousands of years,” said antique dealer and atheist thinker, Flutura Templeton-Windsor.

“This discovery places a huge question mark over what Christians have been brainwashed to believe, because it proves that the Christmas story was ripped off from an earlier myth – just like The Da Vinci Code tried to tell us,” Templeton-Windsor said with her mouth.

The artifact features three uniquely attractive men, some cracking fashion sense, and a baby.

“It could be interpreted as cover art for a mildly-amusing but completely forgettable piece of performance art, with the zany demeanor of the men, and the comedy pee stain, but other details make this just like the Christian nativity,” said Templeton-Windsor.

She noted that the wise man in the middle is sporting a quite brilliant moustache, symbolising the majesty of the events that would follow.

“Thousands of years ago, moustaches were associated with fertility and new birth, so this is concrete proof that this is about the birth of something awesome,” Templeton-Windsor said.

The artifact becomes even more true when the other wise men are taken into consideration.

“The wise man on the right, like the one in the middle, has an open-necked robe, exposing a generous burst of chest hair. Back then, chest hair was only displayed by men who were seen as “stars” in their community. As we all know, the Christmas story involves a star that came from the east. He’s a star and he’s in the east of the picture. It all fits.”

Experts aren’t sure what purpose the wise man on the left serves, or if he ever did anything of note again, but a second similar artifact, found underneath the passenger seat of a police-auctioned Ford Capri, has him wearing a sweet purple turtleneck. This is hugely significant, explains Templeton-Windsor:

“As well as purple signifying royalty, which God-botherers believe Christ to be, purple turtles were seen as mythical creatures, often appearing in the art of many ancient cultures. He is secretly telling us that the Christmas nativity is also a myth. Just look at his cheeky wee face, if you don’t believe me.”

Like every Christmas when these stories rear their peer-reviewed heads, experts believe this discovery will be too much for Christendom to bear and expect to see a sharp decline in church attendance as a result.

“No doubt this will throw Christian believers into chaos,” Templeton-Windsor said with a scoff. “Much like those Horus memes did last year and, the year before that, the Zeitgeist film that I never bothered to watch but quote relentlessly on Facebook.”