Satanism vs. Atheism

Have you ever overheard a conversation on something that you’re passionate about, but for one reason or another, it would be out of place for you to interject? This happens to me all the time, and it’s immeasurably frustrating. In most groups I’m in, I’m considered “the atheist” of the group, but since I started my office job in March, this has not necessarily been the case.

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The Reason for God Review

Last night, I successfully completed Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller’s apologetics book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. I find it fascinating to read through various apologetics books (like The Case for a Creator, Emails to a Young Seeker, and this), and see how they differ and how they don’t. There were a lot of topics in The Reason for God that were familiar, but as with most apologetics books, the author tweaked a thing or two to try to refresh the tired arguments and make them his own. Continue readingThe Reason for God Review”

What is Unitarian Universalist Humanism?

When I was a junior at Grove City College, I took a class on intercultural communication. One of our class assignments was to visit a church service outside of our own denomination, or better yet, outside of our own religion. While I tagged along to a Catholic church service with my roommate, one of my classmates visited a Unitarian Universalist Humanist church. You better believe that everyone in the class thought that was one of the weirdest churches anyone had visited.

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Why the Christian Persecution Complex Hurts Everyone

To me, the Christian persecution complex is one of the great marvels of American society. It truly is amazing. I’ve talked about it before, most notably here, where I gave four examples of how Christians in America are oh, so persecuted. That post was clearly meant to be satire, but it’s the kind of satire where the topic was so absolutely absurd that trying to laugh about it is the only way to not lose my mind talking about it. Continue reading “Why the Christian Persecution Complex Hurts Everyone”

Is the LCMS a Cult?

Cult mind control is a topic that has recently been popping up more and more in my YouTube feed. This is thanks to my recent subscription to Telltale Atheist, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness atheist YouTuber who examines cults and oppressive religions. He often uses a method called the BITE Model to determine whether different groups are cults, but he is most familiar with his own former cult, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Continue reading “Is the LCMS a Cult?”

Lutheran Creation Doctrine: The Verdict

This is the week when we will find out for sure what LCMS Lutherans believe about creationism! I feel like this is something I’ve been wanting to know for years, but I’ve never really been able to ask my family directly, and the one time I asked my brother-in-law, he said he wasn’t totally sure but to check out the Concordia Theology blog for answers. So that’s what I’ve done, and it may finally tell us what Lutherans believe.So far I have read and responded to the introduction to this series, as well as their Lutheran-colored analysis of Old Earth, Young Earth, and Evolutionary Creationism. This is the conclusion of Charles Arand’s series, and it’s called A Few Reflections on Creation in Genesis 1. In the beginning, Arand states,

“This post will consider some of the key biblical texts where our interpretation of Genesis 1 conflicts with the conclusions drawn by many scientists from their reading of nature (and its history). How to deal with these texts is crucial for the three evangelical camps [the three creationism options] in their quest to show that God’s ‘two books’ (the book of Scripture and the book of Nature) do not contradict each other.”

I’ve felt throughout reading a lot of Lutheran creationist literature that they often get so close to being right, but they just won’t settle with the rational option: science and religion conflict because they conflict. They can’t both be true. That’s how conflicting works. Instead of trying to do the gymnastics needed to make them fit, it is more worthwhile to find which has evidence. This makes it a lot easier to figure out which is true and which is false.

Before going on with trying to pinpoint the Lutheran option for creationism, which feels a lot to me like trying to nail jelly to the wall, the author skirts around the question by explaining that the creation story in Genesis is meant to show the uniqueness and almighty-ness of the Christian god. Arand explains that he is not like Zeus, Odin, or their religions because he isn’t polytheistic and doesn’t have human qualities like jealousy or the ability to be duped. Reading through the even just the book of Genesis should clear up the fact that at least once or twice, he is all of these things. So the creation story has failed already in this regard. Next.

I’ve decided to skip ahead from here to Arand’s reasoning concerning the age of the earth, but if you’d like to read the post, he does include some…interesting stuff, like why the seven-day week exists only because of Christianity, and why the mystical metaphor of an eight-day week inspires the octogonal shape of Lutheran baptismal fonts.So, how old is the earth? Arand says,

“Although the Scriptures do not give a specific age to the earth or a specific date for its creation, the Scriptures portray a world that has been created in the relatively recent past, that is, within a historical span of time measured in thousands of years rather than millions or billions of years.”

He later states,

“Exactly how recently did God create it? We simply can’t say definitively on the basis of Scripture. We can offer suggestions and guesses . . . but that is as far as we should go.”

After this long study, Arand gives pretty much the same response that my pastor-in-law gave me when I asked him about his beliefs: that he doesn’t know exactly how or when God created the universe. He said that this was second in importance to the fact that he did it. One of my friends does something similar in that she seems to want to be able to accept evolution as true, but for her, she just can’t fit it into the biblical narrative.

I’ve found there to be three main camps of Christian belief regarding creationism. You have your Young Earth Creationists, which, say what you want about them, but at least they are absolutely positive about what they believe, pretty much down to the day the earth began. Ken Ham has no wiggle room in his doctrine. Then you have the Evolutionary Creationists, which includes every Christian I know who is also a scientist, like my biology-major roommate from my Christian college, and also Francis Collins.

But there’s this third camp, including my brother-in-law and my college friend, where they feel as if their hands are tied and they aren’t allowed to say whether a literal Genesis might possibly be wrong. They tend to border more on being YECs, because it’s safe and it’s not the kind of thinking that will get them in trouble.

I think this is where Arand is. He seems stumped by the blatant contradictions between Scripture and nature. After talking to people with different beliefs, and a handful of scientists, he seems to say, “Huh. Well. I didn’t really expect them to make such good points. It seems that Genesis doesn’t actually line up with science as well as I hoped it would. I guess I can’t say one way or another what the real truth is.” What he actually says is,

“When we encounter conflicts between the conclusions reached by Scripture and science it is natural for us to ask how they can be resolved. God created us to want to understand the world around us, and to find answers to all the questions that our study of the Bible and of the world raises. We want answers, but sometimes we cannot find them.In this we share Habakkuk’s dilemma as we wonder how long it will be until we see all things fully revealed. It can be hard to hear God say, ‘Wait for it’ (Hab 2:3). Like Habakkuk, God calls us to wait in faith. Until that day, genuine faithfulness requires us to confess the truth of God’s Word while having enough humility to recognize that when the Word of God does not speak directly to a question, we may have to live without answers.”

And this really is a shame. Without the bible to tell us how old the earth and universe are, how could we ever figure it out?cropped-space-2-wordpress.jpgIf only there were ways to try to see how old the Earth is….tom-gainor-739884-unsplash.jpgReally, it’s such a shame that there is no way at all to tell…antarctic620_1769142b.jpgIt’s not like the Earth’s materials have their age stamped right on them!pattern-texture-tree-40973.jpgOh well! I guess we’ll never know!

Atheism vs. Agnosticism

When I was in church as a teenager, the pastor started a series of sermons and bible study lessons called Back to Basics, where he would teach the basic topics of the Lutheran faith. It was a good way to incorporate new members while getting everyone on the same page when it came to more complicated details of their beliefs. Borrowing from this idea, I’d like to do the same thing with this blog; I’ve covered a lot of atheism-related topics so far, like objective morality, Pascal’s Wager, and the paradoxes of prayer and free will. There are a lot of other topics, though, that I’ve only briefly touched on in other posts, but I’d like to spend some time going into more detail on them. The first topic in my Atheist Back to Basics series is going to be that of agnosticism and atheism. Continue reading “Atheism vs. Agnosticism”