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Atheist Tuesday: A View Askew, Part 2: Mythperceptions

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Last week I posted a video from The Thinking Atheist entitled “Welcome to this World” which purports to give an analysis of what Christians believe. I understand that it was satiric, but it still got many facts wrong. I will limit my response to the five main errors, and with a short response. But first, you may want to review the video yourself:

Before I correct the errors, I must say that this “thinking” atheist should know better than to explain such abstract thoughts to a baby! But, in a sense, that is what evangelists do every time we speak to unbelievers, I guess.

Wrong “fact” #1: The video asserts in its introduction that a person is born into the world “worthless,” “void” and “corrupt.”

The Truth: Actually, a person is born in the image of God, full of worth and value. (Genesis 1:26, 1 Cor. 11:7, Col. 3:10, James 3:90) He also has “crowned him with glory and honor” and made him ruler over all things.” (Psalm 8:5-8)

Actually, anything we do to please God,  apart from Jesus Christ, is worthless, void and corrupt.

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
(Romans 3: 11-12)

Wrong “fact” #2: The video asserts that when we get older we must ask for forgiveness, not for anything we’ve done, but for what others have done thousands of years ago at the beginning of the world.

The Truth: Asking for forgiveness will get you into Hell. No one gets into Heaven and into a right relationship with God by simply asking for forgiveness.

No.

If you are found guilty of a crime and you stand before a judge and tell him that you are sorry right before he sentences you, he may feel pity for you, but you will still have to do the time; you will still have to pay the fine. You broke the law, you will pay.

In God’s eyes, you are guilty of breaking his Law, the 10 Commandments, by lying, stealing, blaspheming, lusting or hating—and more! You will pay the fine in Hell unless you repent and put your trust in Jesus who paid the fine for you. You must have your fine paid. Jesus paid it all by suffering and dying on a cross, he was buried for three days and rose again, giving you the hope of eternal life when you repent and trust in Him. (Romans 3:21-26)

Don’t blame it on Adam and Eve. You are a recipient of the “sin gene.” You are responsible for your own actions while here on the earth. (Romans 5:12-21)

Wrong “fact” #3: The video states that we must tell God we are sorry for murdering his Son Jesus.

The Truth: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that. No where.

Wrong “fact” #4: The video says that we must give a portion of everything we produce in our lifetime to God.

The Truth: The Bible isn’t a bunch of “have-tos.” The gracious giving principle is found in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-11:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Wrong “fact” #5: When referring to Heaven, the video explains that it is a place that can only be seen by the dead.

The Truth: Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God…. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29, 31-32)

I sure hope that this straightens out everything you watched in the video. And, if not, please remember these other words of Jesus: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

*****

BONUS EDIT: In another post from last week, “Should Young Evangelists Submit to Their Parents,” Vagon, an atheist, made this comment:

William, first thing’s first critically think about everything I say in this comment.

Now with that as your frame of mind, you need to figure this contradiction out for yourself. Here is a clear example of where this particular religious book has failed to provide you with a clear moral path. You have found a contradiction in honouring your parents versus promoting your particular belief.

William, contradictions do not exist. Whenever you find a contradiction you need to check the premises and discover which one is incorrect. So then your premises here are:

1. Your particular religious book is correct.
2. You should share your beliefs.
3. You live in your parent’s house.
4. You should honour your parents.

Which of those are incorrect (it is probably more than one) and how can you tell?

The final thing to note is that there is nothing bad about being wrong, it is an opportunity to learn. It is only bad when you remain ignorant as a choice.

My answer to Vagon:The question should not be “Which of those [choices] are incorrect?” but, rather, “Which choice is the best course of action to take in light of the fact that you must obey God and honor your father and mother?”

William can share his faith any old time he wants; he just doesn’t have to use tracts. He can have conversations with people, can he not? Using tracts is just one effective way to get the Gospel out. By sharing verbally with people he will honor God and his parents. Now, if he is told by his parents that he is forbidden to share his faith, he must honor God and make the necessary sacrifices. That may mean moving in with friends until he can afford to move out. But this doesn’t preclude the possibility that his parents would be amenable to his convictions if he just sat down with them, and in a gracious, patient way, explained his position.

And, by the way, Jesus promised trouble in a family if one becomes a believer. This is one of the promises they leave out of those Bible Promise books:

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:32-39)

28 Comments

  1. “Before I correct the errors, I must say that this “thinking” atheist should know better than to explain such abstract thoughts to a baby! But, in a sense, that is what evangelists do every time we speak to unbelievers, I guess.”

    Wow. Could the same not also be true when people try and explain science to you Steve? I mean we could be civil and simply say they might not know certain aspects of theology or science and you wish to teach them so they can learn. But passive insults implying they’re too naive or ignorant can work too, I guess.

  2. Pastor Steve, That was good. I love it. Praise God. He is so awesome.

  3. Some verses to share with the atheists…

    John 1: 1-5; 10-13 New King James Version

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    John 3:16-21 New King James Version

    16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
    18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

  4. By the way, please note the BONUS EDIT I just added. I answered Vagon’s false dichotomy from last week.

  5. I actually agree with the ‘worthless’ comment. Corrupt on the other hand,… Are you saying you don’t believe we are born with a sin nature, that we inherited from Adam & Eve?

    Of course I have to ask because every Christian believes differently, which was my point from before.

    No two Christians ever fully agree on theology. So another Christian could easily disagree with every point in your blog.

    Particularly about issues like tithing.

  6. Thanks for the edit Steve, great to see everyone is thinking critically. I think you are a bit off in your criticism however, let me show you some other errors in thinking:

    You offered William some actions to take such as talking about his particular deity to his parents or living with friends, but we are not looking at possible actions, we are looking for the correct actions in the face of a contradiction.

    The fact that there are options for actions (such as you have provided) to take based off some premises is a given. Clear action however requires a clear review of the premises.

    You said:
    “in light of the fact that you must obey God and honor your father and mother?”’

    Here you have presumed 1. and 4. is correct and have therefore failed to take into consideration all of your premises. If William wants to remove his contradiction he needs to review these premises too.

    Take care,
    Vagon

  7. Amen Steve!

    Great post.

  8. The following passage might be of help to the atheists…

    Romans 5:1-21 (New King James Version)

    1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
    Christ in Our Place

    6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

    12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
    18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
    20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  9. Steve, it’s great that you take the time to point out mythperceptions some atheists have of Christians.

    Do you suppose there will ever be a time when you and your fellow Christians will give up the mythperceptions you have about atheists? I’ve just finished reading through some of the other comments and after all this time, we’re still seeing things like:

    “The atheist, apart from your definition, says that the world came about by accident of cooling gases and we came from pond slime.”

    “Simply put, they believe those children are worthless and therefore murder them by burning them, cutting them into pieces and delivering them limb by limb & piece by piece or if by any chance the baby actually survived the burning and are delivered alive, they let them die on a table alone by suffocation before tossing them into a garbage bag. This is the atheist world view.”

    “For one to claim he’s an atheist and still say he believes it wrong to kill babies (abortion) is irrational and inconsistent with there stated belief.

    “Everyone will deal with death; the atheists have figured out a way to ignore it.”

  10. Also you’ve got the term false dichotomy wrong. I didnt provide two options I provided four. Coincidently above you qualified those four options as being correct even by your standards.
    cheers

  11. perdita, Admittedly, you atheists get lumped into a lot of categories.

    Vagon, False quadonomies sounds weird.

    Jim, It wasn’t meant as an insult at all.

  12. Very true Steve, do you understand how they are the premises to any argument formed off William’s contradiction?

  13. Steve wrote:

    perdita, Admittedly, you atheists get lumped into a lot of categories.

    I think that there’s a big difference between being lumped into a lot of categories (not that such lumping should be excused, because I doubt you’d like it if I did that to you), and telling people that you don’t know and don’t understand what they think, especially when you’re completely wrong and you’re demonizing them.

    This is why I focus on individuals and the individual’s beliefs, instead of groups.

  14. @Bro 310:

    The following passage might be of help to the atheists…

    While I appreciate you thinking of us, I’m not clear on how Bible verses (especially ones I’ve read multiple times) are supposed to be of help to me.

  15. @Steve

    When I posted the above verses (July 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm) I didn’t realize that there was a chapter heading “Christ In Our Place.” located after Romans 5:5 and before Romans 5:6. It looks as if it is part of the verse which could be confusing to some people. If you like you can erase the entire post I made or edit out the words “Christ In Our Place.”

    Sorry about that.

  16. @Nohm

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. I didn’t want to put my interpretation on the Bible verses so I just posted them. I thought it might help atheists see where some notions about the relationship between sin, humans, and Christ originated from the Bible. In other words Christ’s role as Redeemer. That is what I meant by “help”.

  17. Okay, so this is moving over from the “Should Evangelistic Wives and Children Submit To Unbelieving Husbands and Dads?” thread, in keeping with our host’s wishes. (I mention this because it’s going to look like a really confusing non-sequitur, otherwise.)

    Thanks, Bro 310, for reminding that Paul was originally Jewish – I’d actually forgotten that. (I think I was assuming he was Roman, or… something?) That does explain why Paul could claim that God’s nature was clear and obvious, even after having had to be told directly that Jesus was part of the Ineffable Plan.

    • No problemo.

      Michael you said, “I’m an unbeliever because I don’t see any reason to believe. It really is that simple.”

      I can see where you are coming from.

      Have you ever prayed to God and asked Him to give you reasons to believe? I have heard stories of unbelievers praying to God as a joke and later feeling that their prayer was answered in some way and they changed their perspective.

      • I actually have tried that, quite explicitly in fact. (That is, not just praying in general, but praying specifically for something obvious enough that even someone like myself can’t miss it.) I haven’t seen a response so far, but if the Biblical God does exist it’s probably a mistake to assume that he’d respond on our schedule.

      • Michael:

        Your last sentence reminded me of that hymn “God Moves in Mysteryieous Ways” by William Cowper.

        I think it is commendable that you have tried praying. I think that demonstrates that you have an open mind.

  18. From BathTub:

    Name one person here Richard who has defended the Iliad as factual, or admit you are lying.

    Surprise! none of the Christians care that you just blatantly lied. It’s the usual way of things.

    And why would they want to be recognized? Because Religions get privileges. Simple as that.

  19. From Richard Chavarria:

    Michael.

    My point which I failed to communicate to you was this: If one believes that Homer wrote the Iliad and one believes the History of Alexander, why won’t someone believe the eye witness accounts of about Jesus? Since these accounts where written less than one generation after his death and resurrection and ascension.

    Thank you that you do believe the Bible holds truth about the Jewish nation and the poetry and the wisdom contained therein.

    It seems to me you are indicating that you need a special revelation just like the Apostle Paul and just like the Apostle Thomas.

    Now, I don’t know if I would have been one of the doubters of the Lord Jesus at the time of his ministry. Thankfully, I was not born then. But, Jesus did say “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

    Remember the issue is the heart and sinning before the Almighty God.

    We can exchange evidences until the cows come home and not going there with you.
    You already know the word of God and what you need to do to get right with him. Please stop talking and do something about your right standing before him. Don’t be like those who saw Jesus after his resurrection and still doubted. Don’t repeat their eternal error.

    • If one believes that Homer wrote the Iliad and one believes the History of Alexander, why won’t someone believe the eye witness accounts of about Jesus?

      That’s… not a simple question, and I’m not sure I can give you an answer that was simple enough not to require pages of explanation, but thorough enough to be satisfying. I’ll try, though:

      First off, those are two rather different cases. Yes, I’m inclined to believe that Homer wrote the Iliad. Someone did, and such textual analysis as I’ve read seems to indicate that it was probably a single person deeply entrenched in a complex oral tradition. Perhaps more relevant to comparison with the Bible, the claim that Homer wrote the Iliad isn’t a particularly extraordinary claim. People tell stories all the time, and write them down fairly frequently; the idea that someone named Homer was responsible for the story called the Iliad is, well, nothing much out of the ordinary, so if there’s no particular reason not to believe it, we go with it. (It’s been positively ages since I’ve read either the Iliad or the Odyssey, so I’m not absolutely sure of this, but I don’t recall Homer claiming to have been an eye-witness to the events described in those stories, either.)

      The history of Alexander, as I’ve mentioned, I think is highly hagiographic – it was written to be flattering to a successful conquerer, so it’s best to take anything it says with a grain of salt. (That’s assuming I remember correctly, and I’m not confusing it with something else.) Historians treat it as a primary source, but they don’t just say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s totally the way things happened.’ So it’s not quite as simple as whether or not you believe it. Which parts are trustworthy? To what extent? What can we verify with other sources, and where do other sources differ? And I’m going to stop there, because the study of history is not my specialty, and the biography of Alexander is something I know very little about.

      That brings us to the second half of your question: “…why won’t someone believe the eye witness accounts of about Jesus?”

      Well, part of the problem is trying to treat them like eye witness accounts. The Apostles were, by their own accounts, right there on the scene. They were not, however, disinterested observers. And by the time they started writing down their accounts (assuming the earlier range of dates for authorship of the books that became the New Testament), they were heavily involved in creating and building the early Church. In that sense, it’s a mistake to act as though they’re (just) eye witness accounts. (I said this in more detail here.)

      By the same token, using the Bible as evidence for Christianity is not really convincing, either. The books of the New Testament aren’t some independent account that just happens to support the Christian viewpoint. Instead, they’re religious documents. The Bible, and in particular the New Testament, is Christianity – it’s just Christianity written down.

      We can exchange evidences until the cows come home and not going there with you.

      I agree – let’s not go there. I’m really not here to try to convince you that you shouldn’t believe; that strikes me as a fruitless effort if there ever was one. I’m really only interested in learning about what you believe and why, and maybe giving you a better idea of why not believing makes sense to atheists.

  20. From Bro310:

    Paul/Saul did believe in God because he was Jewish and a Pharisee. What Paul didn’t believe in was that Jesus was the Messiah/Christ.

    Acts 26:1-29 (New King James Version)

    1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”
    So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
    4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
    9 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them . 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

    12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now[a] send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

    19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me . 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

    24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”
    25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
    28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
    29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

  21. So did Richard name 1 single person who considers the Iliad factual?

    • Vagon wrote:

      Richard you are a goose.

      Atheists dont think the Illiad is factual, but its a great representation of a myth that contains factual places (for example Troy) and also ridiculous things like Achilles Heel. This is the same as your mythology in the Bible, places like Tyre exist, but burning bushes don’t talk. It’s quites simple really.

      As for Alexander the Great you made a bit of a mistake bringing him up. You see I studied Alexander at university and I know a fair bit about him and his dad Peter. I believe in Alexander the Great as a human for a bunch of reasons, but lets ignore the wealth of archaeological evidence and concentrate on historicity. Look at Arrian, his method for bringing together the history of Alexander relies solely on eyewitness accounts. He names these eyewitnesses and discusses how they are related to Alexander to identify bias. Where these eyewitnesses disagree he lists both sides of the story.

      Now lets compare that to Jesus. What methods did the anonymous gospel writers do when they recorded this “history”? They site eyewitnesses but do not name them. They do not say how they are connected to Jesus. We have no idea why these particular eyewitnesses were considered as trustworthy at all. They never even have a discussion on the differences in the gospel accounts.

      I have a question that should clear this up succinctly if you answer it honestly. How many of Jesus’ contemporaries wrote about him, positively or negatively?

    • No, but he did come back and clarify the question – in this comment.

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