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10 Answers for Atheists: How to Have an Intelligent Discussion About the Existence of God

10 Answers for Atheists: How to Have an Intelligent Discussion About the Existence of God

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10 Answers for Atheists: How to Have an Intelligent Discussion About the Existence of God

Länge:
284 Seiten
4 Stunden
Freigegeben:
28. Sept. 2012
ISBN:
9781441266583
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

With notable nonbelievers such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens featured prominently in the media, it is no surprise that many Christians wonder how best to answer the growing number of atheist arguments they encounter every day. 10 Answers for Atheists is a one-of-a-kind resource from respected Christian apologist Alex McFarland that looks closely at the philosophical assumptions at the root of atheism and agnosticism and exposes the logical, historical, and conceptual fallacies that perpetuate unbelief. Readers will find easy-to-understand charts and clear explanations of key beliefs, as well as trustworthy, biblical answers to the honest questions posed by atheists and agnostics. Every reader, no matter where he or she falls on the spectrum of belief, will hear a call to thoughtful engagement with the historic Christian faith.
Freigegeben:
28. Sept. 2012
ISBN:
9781441266583
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Alex McFarland is a speaker, author, and advocate for Christian apologetics and host of the radio program Exploring the Word.


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10 Answers for Atheists - Alex McFarland

PRAISE FOR 10 Answers for Atheists

The aftermath of the many new voices in atheism has led to the need for believers to have solid answers ready for sharing the reason for the hope they have within them. Alex provides biblical responses and seasoned solutions based on his many years of sharing his faith with people of diverse backgrounds around the world. You’ll be encouraged and equipped for better conversations with those who struggle with whether God is there and be able to offer hope and help that truly changes lives.

Dr. John Ankerberg

Founder and President, The John Ankerberg Show (www.jashow.org)

There always seems to be an interest in treatments of the pithiest spiritual questions and brief responses, especially ones that nicely encapsulate some of the most difficult issues of our day. Alex McFarland has a gift for accomplishing these sorts of tasks. Seldom will one find so many tough challenges to religious faith followed by even better explanations, all under one cover. I recommend this handbook of responses to atheism as a quick-read that is a real page-turner.

Gary R. Habermas, Ph.D.

Distinguished Research Professor, Liberty University and Theological Seminary

Alex McFarland is one of today’s most sought-after speakers on Christian apologetics. After speaking on countless radio programs and on university campuses, and after having engaged in several public debates with atheists, he is well qualified to write on the subject matter of this book. A lot of apologetics books have been written, but few are as accessible to the layperson as those written by Alex McFarland.

Michael R. Licona, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Theology, Houston Baptist University

As an apologist/evangelist, Alex McFarland makes a sincere effort to engage in dialogue with atheists and skeptics alike. Out of these efforts has come his latest resource, 10 Answers for Atheists. In this book, Alex provides not only theoretical ideas but also real answers to real questions. If you are serious about sharing Christianity with atheists, you will find this book to be well researched and respectfully presented.

Josh D. McDowell

Author and Speaker

In some circles, atheism is in vogue. It is also tragically wrong. In a gracious, probing way, Alex McFarland demonstrates why Christian theism is not only reasonable but also true. Alex tackles tough questions honestly—a rare feat for any author—and offers answers that will encourage the faithful and, with winsome penetration, challenge the faithless.

Tony Perkins

President, Family Research Council

Alex McFarland is a young evangelical who understands the mind of the modern atheist. He has not only answered their questions, but he has proposed to them biblical questions that—if they would honestly answer—would bring them face to face with God. May God use this book to prove to many that God does exist.

Elmer L. Towns

Co-founder, Liberty University

© 2012 Alex McFarland

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Bethany House Publishers edition published 2014

ISBN 978-1-4412-6658-3

Previously published by Regal Books

Ebook edition originally created 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Other versions used are:

ASV—The American Standard Version, Thomas Nelson and Sons, first published in 1901.

NASB—Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

DEDICATION

In honor of Norman L. Geisler—preeminent apologist and educator

and

the faculty, staff, and students of North Greenville University—Where Christ Makes the Difference

CONTENTS

Foreword (by Eric Metaxas)

Acknowlegments

Introduction

Section I

INSIDE THE MIND OF THE ATHEIST

  1. 10 Kinds of Atheists

  2. A Brief History of Unbelief

  3. A Brief Critique of Atheism

  4. A Brief Critique of Agnosticism

Section II

ATHEISM AND OTHER RELIGIONS

  5. Four Forms of Theism

  6. Alternatives to the Biblical God

  7. Christianity and the God of the Bible

Section III

ANSWERING THE ATHEISTS

  8. Civility and Healthy Discourse

  9. Answers to 10 Questions About God and Christianity

10. 10 Ghosts that Haunt Atheists

Conclusion

Appendix: Answers to 30 Common Objections by Atheists

Endnotes

Glossary

Additional Resources

Foreword

I’m honored to have been asked to write the foreword for my friend Alex McFarland’s terrific book. I’m thrilled that this book exists (which I can prove and discuss intelligently), and I’m thrilled that Alex exists (which I can also prove and discuss, albeit not quite as intelligently). The reason I’m thrilled is that we desperately need win-some and intelligent voices like Alex’s to show us the way forward on these and similarly important topics.

In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. This doesn’t mean that all of us have to be as good at it as Alex McFarland, but it does mean that we should make some effort in this direction, and reading this book is a good start. Scripture also enjoins us to love God with all our minds (see Luke 10:17). Having some sense of why we believe what we believe is a part of doing this.

But the larger reason I’m grateful for Alex’s existence—and this book’s—is that Alex shows us not only what to say, but also how to say it. Not knowing what to say is one problem, but another is seeming to have all the answers and thinking that it is all that matters. It’s not. How we express our answers to others is equally important, and in this post-modern, image-oriented culture, it can even be more important. Besides, we are enjoined to love our enemies, not to bludgeon them with facts or arguments or anything else. So I’m grateful for Alex’s understanding that truth and grace are inextricably intertwined. Christians believe that Truth is a Person, and how He behaved and communicated while on this earth are as important as what He said.

Which brings me to Alex’s and my mutual friend, Chuck Colson. Chuck was originally slated to write this foreword, and when he passed away, Alex asked if I could do it. So, you see that when I say I am honored to be asked to write this foreword, I’m not kidding. Indeed, that’s an understatement. Chuck was a hero in the faith to me and to Alex, and one of the main reasons for that has to do with his life. Chuck knew better than anyone that we aren’t just supposed to have answers; we are to be a part of that answer. Chuck communicated that way and lived that way. I think his life—redeemed from the corruption and scandal of Watergate and then sent by God to go into prisons around the globe—is as powerful an apologetic for the existence of the living God as any book ever could be. Indeed, it is far more powerful. After all, apart from God, how can we possibly explain the dramatic changes that we sometimes see in a life redeemed?

So, I hope this book will help you better know some of the answers for why we believe what we do. And I hope that like our friend Chuck Colson, you will be inspired to go out and be a part of that answer as well.

Eric Metaxas

New York City

July 2012

Acknowledgements

The publication of 10 Answers for Atheists has come about through the dedication and involvement of a number of people. I am grateful for every person involved with this special project. Special thanks are due to the great folks at Regal Books, especially Bill Grieg III, Steve Lawson, Mark Weising, Kim Bangs and Elaine Montefu, to name just a few.

Much appreciation goes out to my friend and colleague Robert Velarde, whose assistance in formatting and clarifying this material was invaluable. Special thanks are also due to the following people who have graciously invested themselves in my work: the wonderful public relations/media team at Hamilton Strategies in Pennsylvania; Mr. Marshall Barnes, my friend and advisor; and Tim Wildmon, Jim Stanley, Bert Harper, Marvin Sander and all of the great folks at American Family Radio.

Very special thanks are due to the nearly three dozen atheists, agnostics, and the persons-possibly-open-to-God-but-who-wrestle-with-serious-doubts who talked openly and candidly with me about their objections. I thank you all for contributing to this important dialogue.

Most of all, I am thankful to Jesus Christ, who I am convinced has shown the world that He is the incarnation of the eternal, redemptive, and revelatory God. This book is written with the prayer that all may know Him and that all may be one (John 17:21).

Alex McFarland

August 2012

Introduction

At a state university in the western United States, more than 2,000 people filled the college athletic center to hear a Christian and an atheist debate the question, Does God exist? Representing the Christian position, I won the coin toss to present first. In my opening statement in favor of God’s existence, I pointed out that in a non-theistic universe, such as atheism holds to, life has no ultimate meaning or purpose.

The atheist agreed but actually viewed this supposed revelation in a positive light. Get this through your head, he remarked. Your life has no meaning. Your dead grandmother that you loved is now turning back into dirt. In the big scheme of things, her life meant nothing. And neither does yours. But isn’t that liberating? Now we can get on with the business of living. Though the gymnasium was filled with people, the room was almost perfectly silent as the crowd listened to the passionate words of the atheist. Your life has no meaning! he said again. In an ultimate sense, in a very real sense, your life—your dreams, your memories, you—it all means nothing! His words trailed off into a faint echo against the gym’s concrete walls, as if illustrating that a dying reverberation is all we are in a dark, empty universe.

Is it true that life has no meaning? Are we just the products of a random universe that happened to result in intelligent life? Or is there more to reality? These are serious questions, and they’re not just for philosophers or academics. Everyone needs to think about these kinds of questions. As I travel across the country, speaking and debating before audiences, I encounter not only skeptics and atheists, but also Christians who might have doubts about their faith or lack a solid foundation in knowing why they believe what they believe.

What can we do about this situation? God calls all believers to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet. 3:15). Being prepared involves learning about our faith as well as other worldviews—ways people see and understand the world and their beliefs about reality. In recent years, atheism has grown vocal and, sometimes, has become downright hostile to any religion.

Christianity in particular is under attack by these so-called New Atheists. Who are they? The following are three of the prominent ones:

1. Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great

2. Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

3. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

These and other atheist authors proclaim that religion is harmful, that God does not exist, that the best solution to the world’s problems is to toss away belief in God, and more. They claim religion is like a poison or a disease and often state that faith is a blind leap with no foundation in logic, reason or evidence. Evil and suffering, they add, either proves that God does not exist or makes His existence very unlikely.

How can we respond to these and other atheist claims? We can begin by giving good answers to their questions. To that end, 10 Answers for Atheists endeavors to answer such questions as:

•  Are faith and reason incompatible?

•  Isn’t belief in God just a delusion?

•  Is belief in God necessary, since science can explain everything?

•  Hasn’t Christianity caused more harm than good?

•  Do atheism or agnosticism offer better explanations of the universe?

•  Why is there suffering and evil in the world?

•  Can we really believe that Christ rose from the dead?

•  Doesn’t Christian hypocrisy show that faith is false?

Fortunately, God exists and is knowable. The loving God of the Bible has disclosed much about Himself. That was the apostle Paul’s premise in Acts 17:16-34. There, on Mars Hill, Paul talked with the wise men of Athens, who loved to sit around and discuss the latest ideas. They had erected many idols to many gods, and just to be sure they hadn’t forgotten any, they included one dedicated To an Unknown God. But Paul told the Greeks that the God of Scripture was the one true God, and that He was knowable because He had revealed Himself to us.

God has revealed Himself to our generation, too. When speaking with students, I often encourage them to think of the acronym CCSS—Creation, Conscience, Scripture and Savior. Creation means God has revealed Himself through His wonderfully designed universe (see Ps. 19; Rom. 1:20). Conscience tells us that objective moral values really do exist, and we know this intuitively (see Rom. 2:14-16). Scripture demonstrates that the Bible is historically reliable and trustworthy. Finally, Savior is all about Jesus. The evidence informs us that He really lived, performed miracles, died and rose from the dead. He’s a living Savior we can place our faith in.

We can also add the very fact of the universe itself. Where did everything come from? Why is there something instead of nothing? Christian thinkers, such as William Lane Craig, argue that the universe itself is evidence of God’s existence. If the universe began to exist, as is the scientific consensus, then it must have had a cause. But when we look at explanations for the cause, they all fall short except for the explanation that points to a Creator. We’ll explore this and other evidence for God throughout the pages of 10 Answers for Atheists.

In the end, however, belief and unbelief are not solely matters of the intellect; they are matters of the heart and spirit. I’ve engaged many searchers, skeptics and critics over the years, and what I’ve discovered is that for some people, the issue isn’t whether God can be known. Rather, they don’t want such truth to interfere with their lives. Josh McDowell has pointed to three common reasons people reject Christianity: pride, moral problems with how Christ would impact their lifestyles, and ignorance. Notice that with the exception of ignorance, pride and moral issues have to do with us and how we’d rather run our own lives than allow some greater being to interfere with us. In short, the issue isn’t having an intellectual awareness of God but a life-changing relationship with Him. That’s where God has revealed Himself most vividly of all—in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Somewhere deep down inside, we want what God is offering us through Christ—redemption—but we want it our way, not His.

It is my prayer that God will guide and illuminate your mind and your life as you truly seek to respond to the challenge of atheism. May you be equipped and edified. As you journey with me through the following pages, I will explain why I believe what I do and why I think Christianity makes the most sense of reality so that you can share with those who suffer doubts, are tempted to be swayed by atheistic fallacies, or simply suffer from unbelief. My intent is to answer the legitimate questions that atheists pose so that you can as well.

If you’re not a Christian, I hope you will open your mind to seek the truth as I lay out some vivid ways that internal reason and external evidence testify to the existence of a loving God who wants to get up close and personal with each of us. All I ask is that you give me a chance to make my case.

Ultimately atheism ends in despair—for atheists, the world has no meaning or hope. However, in a world where God exists, hope and joy are real possibilities. The psalmist cried out, Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him (Ps. 62:5). The God of hope desires to fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in him (Rom. 15:13). I personally invite you on this journey so that you will be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet. 3:15).

Let’s get started!

SECTION I

Inside the Mind of the Atheist

1

10 Kinds of Atheists

What is the everyday, garden-variety atheist? There isn’t one! But at one time or another, we’ve all met them (or at least heard of them). I am talking about the hardcore, in-your-face, I-dare-youto-convince-me type of atheists. Maybe it is the co-worker who makes snide remarks about anything God-related, right down to griping about the words In God We Trust on coins. Maybe it is the neighbor who invokes the subdivision’s code of covenants in order to prevent anyone from putting out Christmas decorations (that really happened, by the way).

My first encounter with a really tough atheist was in a high school biology class, around 1982. Not surprisingly, biology class included much time spent on discussing evolution. One particular science teacher at Southeast Guilford High used his platform in the classroom to frequently ridicule the Old Testament book of Genesis. He would make remarks like, The only thing more laughable than some goat-herder’s attempt at describing creation is that some people today actually believe it!

Then, with a dramatic pause, he would look over the class and whisper, I hope you’re not one of them. Because if you are, we’re going to fix that. In light of such remarks, expressions on the faces of my fellow students would range from puzzlement to fear. But this biology bully wasn’t done. Before the entire class he said, And one more thing: If you want an automatic F in biology, start bringing me your little gospel tracts about Darwin! I have read them all before, so spare me!

While some atheists appear bombastic and over the top about their unbelief, not all are like that. Not all atheists have the fervor of a special-operations soldier, a let’s-deconvert-the-world-at-any-cost mentality. Some do seem that way, but I don’t for a moment mean to imply that all are like that.

After having dialogued with hundreds of atheists over the years, I have come to appreciate the unique nuances that characterize each person’s unbelief. Truly, no two atheists are exactly alike. Each atheist, like every Christian, has a testimony. Each has a story about his or her particular journey to the point of unbelief. In this section, we will get inside the mind of the atheist, starting with a look at the 10 basic kinds of atheists and identifying characteristics common to specific types of non-believers. This isn’t to say that every atheist you encounter will fit one of these 10 molds, like a cookie-cutter representation. An atheist may display different characteristics at different times or even a combination of characteristics at any given time. Nevertheless, many contemporary atheists do tend to fall into one of the categories I cover, or at least their main emphasis as atheists tends to fit into one of the categories.

1. The Angry Atheist

The angry atheist exhibits an unbelief fueled by negative emotion. He or she may support his or her atheism with intellectual reasoning, but a vehement

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