Let’s Rally for Reason

“Don’t be surprised to find out that there are atheists and agnostics in your midst,” Ted said to me, after railing against the evils of organized religion. I got the impression he expected some kind of visible reaction from me.

But I wasn’t surprised. He’d already said he was a humanist. The two kind of go together. Besides, I’m not horrified over atheists. I took the bait. You wanna discuss atheism, Ted? Let’s discuss atheism. “So, I get that you have problems with organized religion, Ted. But human organizations aside, do you believe there is a God? Or do you believe there is not a God?”

Ted didn’t give me a straightforward answer, though. Instead he referred me to Sam Harris, one of his “favorite authors and Freethinkers,” who takes issue with some Catholic teachings and other Christian ideas about God. That was fine for Sam Harris, but Ted didn’t answer for himself. So I repeated the question.

This time he answered. “I don’t believe there is a God,” he said, and followed up with a caricature of Christianity. “I don’t believe there is a supreme being that created the universe; and sits in heaven and watches every movement and monitors the thoughts of every human. I see very clearly the problems of organized religion…the hypocrisies, the greed, the sadistic, bullying behavior.”

Now I had something to work with. In the language of basic logic of reasoning from premises (P) to conclusions (C), I reflected his own reasoning back to him. “Ok, Ted, correct me if I’m wrong. From what I’m hearing, your reasoning goes something like this:

P: People associated with organized religion have engaged in objectionable behavior.
C: Therefore, there is no God.”

Since he’d quoted Sam Harris, I did the same for Harris’s reasoning. “And Sam Harris’s reasoning goes something like this:

P: The character traits of God as presented by some organized religions are objectionable to me.
C: Therefore, there is no God.”

At this, Ted clarified himself a bit. He was a “science guy,” and God, if he exists, is either “impotent…or evil.” And then he was ready to be done with it. “But, enough about what I think,” he said, and he shifted the subject to something else.

This exchange illustrates something about non-theists, whether they call themselves humanists, agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, or whatever label they prefer. At root, the atheist’s position is intellectually unsound.

Here’s another example:

Ivan: “I’m definitely an atheist. I am an atheist because I cannot believe in fantasy. There is no God. There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. That stuff was created by man to help man feel better about himself. When I look at the scientific facts, I cannot believe in that. So yes, I am an atheist. Absolutely.”

Terrell: “Which scientific facts?”

Ivan read off statistics about the size of the universe, emphasizing its vastness. “To think that there’s some type of supreme being, call it God or Jesus, that is bigger than that? That is concerned about us on earth? About our welfare? About our future? It’s absolutely preposterous,”

Ivan’s reasoning went like this:

P: The universe is really huge.
C: Therefore, there is no God.

Like Ted, Ivan considers himself a “science guy.”

Well, I like science, too. And, sure, the size of the universe is a marvel. But it says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God. Nothing, whatsoever. Soon, Ivan was ready to call it quits too. “I believe that at some point, people end up with firm convictions,” he wrote to me in an e-mail. “Their viewpoints should be respected and further attempts to convert them should be avoided because not everybody wants to be converted.”

Ahh, now we have arrived at the heart of the matter: Not everybody wants to be converted. These two exchanges expose the heretofore hidden reality that Ted and Ivan have made a personal, philosophical faith choice to disbelieve. Believers need to remember this and press those vocal non-theists to make their case. The prevailing posture among atheism says the atheistic worldview is more intellectually sound and evolutionarily advanced—that atheism is the belief anyone would come to if he merely examined the scientific facts, all other belief systems being vestiges of Stone Age superstition on a par with moon worship and child sacrifice. But it’s not. Get the facts out in the open and it becomes pretty obvious. Theism stands. Atheism falls. Because there really is a God who created the universe.

The smart atheists seem to know this. Tom Gilson invited David Silverman, president of American Atheists, to co-sponsor an open, reasoned debate at the Reason Rally which will take place this weekend. He declined. William Lane Craig invited Richard Dawkins to debate. He declined.

Nevertheless, unreason notwithstanding, the Reason Rally will go on this weekend. Take it as an invitation to reason together with the non-theists in our midst. Theism is up to the challenge. Atheism isn’t.

Related Readings

A Severe Mercy: Connecting with Your Conscience

Andrew Breitbart spoke with far-too-rare humility about his ideological conversions. When he graduated from college and had to start working for a living, he began to reevaluate every idea he’d absorbed. As he explained,

“In college, if you pay attention, they turn you into a nihilist. I resented it once I discovered what it was. It was cultural Marxism. … Once I discovered that, I wanted to learn everything about the world that they didn’t teach me in college. And the more I studied, the more I realized that I was conservative. It was very empowering because it was like realizing that water is wet. Life is conservative. Liberalism is pie-in-the-sky.”

With both courage and humility (those two go together, by the way) Andrew chose to reevaluate the groupthink he’d been steeped in and, when it conflicted with his conscience, he went with his conscience and defied the group. For that he was exiled as an ideological defector, and he wore the verbal excoriation as a badge of honor.

Last month, he spoke to a group of pro-life students about his change of heart regarding abortion:

“Certainly, in Hollywood I lived in a pro-abortion culture … I had never heard the pro-life point of view. The media portrayed the pro-life point of view as crazy people. So, that’s all I knew. … But I never thought about the issue at all. At all. But it was something that mattered more than anything in that part of town that I grew up in, liberal Hollywood. The first thing you needed to say is, “I’m pro-choice.” It was a keycard to get you in everywhere and I believe to the core of my being that it’s a keycard to get you success in Hollywood. Go along to get along. I don’t think I would have seen the light if there weren’t brave people like you who stood up to that, especially young people …”

As I started to have my political awakening I was able to connect with my conscience, literally, and say, wait one second. … It is not to be debated. This is the most important issue. If you’re not pro-life, if you’re like what I was, behind a barrier, you have to, through conversations and the media, break that barrier down and just let people think about it. Because the second you actually think about it, because I never did (it was my default position), is that this is untenable, this doesn’t make sense. You guys are the vessel for that message. Stand strong. You inspire me.”

Young people inspire me too. They are well aware that millions of their peers, in some cases their very siblings, do not walk this earth alongside them because of this thing called abortion. Watch these three middle-schoolers get to the heart of the abortion issue in sixteen seconds.

They get it.

(1) Is a fetus a human?
(2) Is it right to kill it?

The entirety of the abortion debate hangs on those two questions. The reason the pro-life position is the right side of this issue and will ultimately win is because people already know in their consciences – if they will connect with them – the answer to both questions. They just need to, ‘Wait a second,’ and then … stop and think about it.

Causing us to stop and think about it is what the good people at the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) are all about. CBR takes criticism for showing graphic, bloody imagery, but this is a merciful act (though I’ll grant you it’s a severe mercy). It offers otherwise complacent go-along-to-get-along groupthinkers the opportunity to connect what they are seeing (Is this a human?) with their consciences (Is this right?).

Listen to Julie explain what happened when she stopped and thought about it:

If you still find room in your ideology for abortion, I invite you to click here to watch a video of an abortion, in the interest of being fully informed on the medical procedure that you espouse. Unless you are a barbarian, you will have trouble watching and maintaining a composed conscience.

If you can’t bring yourself to look at the images because of an abortion in your past, I encourage you – I plead with you – to click here for post-abortion healing help.

Then I invite you to join the cause in the human rights issue of our day.

Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012: A Great Culture Warrior

Andrew Breitbart I am stunned and sad today to hear of the loss of Andrew Breitbart. I interviewed Andrew last year. As it turned out, our interview, which had been scheduled weeks in advance, took place during the very week that he broke the Anthony Weiner Twittered sex pictures story. It was Andrew who coined the term “Weinergate.” Andrew was also sick that week, occasionally breaking into a hacking cough mid-sentence. Even so, in the midst of an intense week, he gave me nearly an hour of his time. He was respectful, kind, and authentic.

Andrew possessed that rare but potent blend of courage and humility, taking on a corrupt media at great personal cost because it needed to be done. He leaves behind a wife, four children, and a growing media organization dedicated to reporting the truth the mainstream outlets don’t. Click here to read our conversation.

Blessed are the Communists?

JesusWasACommunistMatthew Modine is turning to Jesus. His new short film "Jesus Was a Communist" offers "a discussion of the New Testament's messages in the context of poverty, pollution and political unrest." The film will "also address the Occupy Wall Street movement happening throughout the world and how it relates to the Bible."

How timely. It's the new meme.

Socialism = Christianity. C'mon Christians, obey your Lord Jesus like good little boys and girls.

Or so say the atheist and agnostic secularizers.

 

 Consider:

  • Jeremy is a college student friend of mine. Today his Ethics professor told the class that Jesus was really about socialism and Marxism because under those arrangements everyone selflessly spreads the materials around to help the poor. (This same professor also suggested giving thanks to the Earth, land, and water, rather than any Creator – yes, giving thanks to your food, rather than for your food ...)

  • Bart Ehrman, a non-churchgoing, agnostic professor of religious studies who has elsewhere charged that some of the New Testament writers were liars, commented, "Jesus believed the whole system was corrupt. The people who ran things were empowered by the evil forces of the world and his followers had to work against these powers by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and caring for the sick."

And what theological perversion revision wouldn't be complete without artwork?

Jesus occupy_wall_street

This would be comical were it not so life and death serious. Matthew Modine, the occupiers, and their sympathiers may be turning to Jesus, but it's a different Jesus from the one who said "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

There are two ways of interpreting the teachings of the historical Jesus. One is authentic. The other is an inversion, which makes it a perversion.

Christianity: What's mine is yours.
Socialism: What's yours is mine.

Christianity: I am my brother's keeper.
Socialism: My brother is my keeper.

These are antithetical, mutually exclusive approaches to life, both personal and societal. One is the way of grace and liberty. The other is the way of tyranny and oppression. One is the way of Jesus. The other is the way of hell.

The best thing about the "Jesus Was a Communist" film is it acknowledges that the Occupy Wall Street movements are just the sort of Marxist uprisings of which Communist  advances are made. The worst thing is that too many people may nonetheless fall for it.

Which one prevails will literally be a matter of life and death.

 

Where Do You Stand?

ExposePlannedParenthoodBus As I write this, two buses are motoring across America. This morning, the "Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood Tour", led by former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and Live Action President Lila Rose, set out from Des Moines, Iowa, to thank Members of Congress who supported Congressman Mike Pence’s efforts to stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider, with taxpayer dollars.

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood leaders announced a bus tour of their own. As Jill Stanek reported:

"Planned Parenthood leaders revealed yesterday that they, too, are planning a hot pink bus tour to seven of the same stops, on the same days  — a half hour before SBA List and Lila are scheduled to begin their rallies.”

PlannedparenthoodHotPinkBus Well, folks, this is democracy in action. What we have here is an excellent opportunity for both sides of this divide to make their cases and reveal who they are. It's also an opportunity for us voting, taxpaying citizens to evaluate the sides (which are utterly irreconcilable, by the way) and make a choice.

To learn more about the work of Planned Parenthood, I recommend a live webcast tonight at 9pm EST. It's called "For Such A Time As This." Christians and Jews may recognize in that name the allusion to Queen Esther, whose intervention averted the genocide of the Jewish people in ancient Persia. To register for the webcast, click here.

As you listen to the debate, keep one thing in mind. The point of contention is not whether or not Planned Parenthood should be allowed to continue doing what it does. The point of contention is whether or not the taxpayers will continue to help pay for it. As of today, Planned Parenthood as been the recipient of more than $62 million of taxpayer money in 2011. That amounts to about $6.2 million/week, or $11/second so far this year. And they have aborted nearly sixty thousand children. That amounts to about 6,000/week, or about one every 96 seconds.

Handsfeet Planned Parenthood has created a website where supporters can state that they "Stand With Planned Parenthood." I made my choice clear last week in this forum in A Matter of Trust.

Where do you stand?

A Matter of Trust

Baby5mos When I became pregnant with my first child in 1988, I had to find an obstetrician. So I asked friends for recommendations and began making calls. When the receptionist answered the phone, I asked, "Does your practice provide abortion services?"

If the answer was, "Yes," I said, "Thank you very much," and went to the next name on the list.

One answer was, "No we don't, but we can refer you to someone who does." I said, "Thank you very much," and went to the next name on the list.

When one receptionist said, "No Dr. B doesn't do abortions because he objects to them on moral grounds," I knew had found my obstetrician. Dr. B took good care of me – and my children – through my first two pregnancies. My daughters are now twenty-one and twenty years old, respectively.

I knew, even at that young age, that I did not want to support with my dollars anyone who did abortions. Also, something within me felt very uncomfortable at the thought of entrusting the life of my child to someone who would be equally at home preserving or terminating it.

Blood-money This OB search came to mind recently, as America's legislators debate whether to allocate public funds to Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider.