Debate, Atheism and Love

Peace Dove

By Jon Kauffman

I follow the blog of an atheist. I and the atheist have attempted to hold on-line conversations from time to time.

I think this atheist blog is wonderful.2 I like to read the writing of those with whom I disagree from time to time. It helps sharpen my thinking and sometimes I find holes in my own logic.

Recently I told this young lady that I had read some Bertrand Russell about 40 years ago and at that time I had found him quite persuasive.  She shared Russell’s analogy of the teapot.

Bertrand Russell

“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” Bertrand Russell

I admit, that when I was young and naive, I found this analogy somewhat persuasive. But when I read it now it seems almost silly.

According to many scholars, the Hyksos seized power in Egypt around 1638 BC without war.1

David Rohl has written an excellent book suggesting that Egypt’s timeline as understood by most archeologists today should be moved forward 200 years and Israel’s timeline should be moved back to match the Bible.

The current paradigm in Archeology is against Rohl’s timeline. Sometimes it takes a many years for scientific paradigms to shift even when the evidence is irrefutable. Rohl has some very strong evidence. I will be watching with great interest as other archeologists analyze his theories.

God is dripping out of Russell’s teapot.

Until 5 years ago I thought that no evidence existed in Egypt to support the story of Moses. I was pleasantly surprised to find Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus by Tim Mahoney.

The dripping of God from Russell’s teapot has quickened.

Lee Strobel tells us that many people have experienced miracles and life changing experiences as a result of their faith in God. “Among well-educated medical doctors 75% believe miracles are possible. 55% of US physicians have seen results in their patients that they would consider miraculous.” Page 31. See my review of Strobel’s book, The Case for Miracles.

God is pouring from Russell’s teapot.

We have a strong argument for the existence of God with the Kalam cosmological argument. William Lane Craig is an able defender of this argument. The leak in Russell’s teapot is becoming a strong steady stream.

Many scholars have written of the excellent evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus.

God is flooding from Russell’s teapot.

Bertrand Russell was once asked why he did not believe in God. He said, “Not enough evidence.” I wonder, is there any evidence that could have convinced Russell?

Van Lake acting as a mirror #MontanaMoment Copyright © 2021 by Leon Kauffman

Atheists Argue

In addition to logical reasoning, I have sometimes heard atheists arguing using methods of argumentation such as 1. Ad Hominem. 2. Contradiction. 3. Ridicule. 4. Diversion.

When someone argues with me using these logical fallacies, my first thought is what are they afraid of? Then I think, are their arguments so weak that they cannot stand on the facts?

One atheist used the red herring argument. He suggested that one should not be a Christian or believe in God because Christians were involved in the Crusades against the Middle East. I told him that Lenin and Mao both atheists, killed more people.

Because Lenin and Mao killed many people does not prove atheists are killers and because some Christians participated in the crusades does not prove Christians killers.

Another atheist uses the ad hominem logical fallacy and often calls anyone disagreeing with the atheist position a liar.

The Creationist Argues

Unfortunately sometimes Christians use some of the same logical fallacies.

One time I contacted a gentleman who held to the theory of creation occurring 6,000 year ago. I was curious to learn the scientific basis for his position. I asked him why it appears that we can see stars more than 6,000 light years away if the earth was created 6,000 years ago. The gentleman used an ad hominem argument and told me that I had no faith. He did not give me an answer to my question. I saw no reason to question him further.

Using logical fallacies by Christians to put others in their place seems contrary to the love of Jesus to me. If the creationist gentleman had given me reasons for his belief instead of only attacking me, then I would have had some facts to consider.

Intelligent Design

I find intelligent design theories intriguing. I am not an expert in biology or paleontology.  The current paradigm among scientists does not accept intelligent design. I have done some reading and the intelligent design theories appear to me to have merit.

J.P. Moreland tells us about a time when he was giving lectures at UCLA:

“William Dembski had given a lecture defending intelligent design theory. The biology faculty of the university instructed their students to boycott Dembski’s lecture. There was a lot of mocking and ridicule of him among the biologists—despite the fact that Dembski has a master’s degree in science, a master’s degree in statistics, a master’s degree in divinity, a PhD in philosophy, and a PhD in mathematics—along with postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton. But if Dembski is so stupid and his proposals on intelligent design are so patently ridiculous, why wouldn’t the professors simply send their students to the lecture and have them tear his arguments apart? That should be easy. Of what were the biology faculty afraid?

Around that time, while giving some lectures at UCLA, I met a doctoral student in microbiology. He pulled me aside and said that his dissertation supervisor admitted to him in confidence that his dissertation proposal was excellent. It was a proposal to provide empirical verification or falsification for intelligent design theory. But the supervisor told him to stay far away from intelligent design. If he insisted on this topic for his dissertation, he would not only flunk, but he would have his funding withdrawn and would be kicked out of the doctoral program.” Moreland, J. P. Scientism and Secularism (pp. 192-193). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

I too question the fear of professors of Biology at ULCA. Perhaps they cannot argue conclusively against intelligent design? Certainly, intelligent design does not conform to their paradigm.

As the debate among biologists continues, I will watch with great interest to see if the paradigm changes.

The Love of Jesus

Love is action. When asked about the most important commandment Jesus said, 29 “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.

How do we show the love of Jesus when we debate with those with whom we disagree?

How do we show love to the homeless man on the street?

How do we show love to the student experiencing transgender feelings?

How do we love the poor, the helpless and the prisoner?

How do we love Muslims from the Middle East? How do we love our enemies? Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

I plan to write more posts about my conversation with the atheist young lady.

  1. New Research Reveals Surprising Origins of Egypt’s Hyksos Dynasty, by Theresa Machemer
  2. Club Schadenfreude

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Edited: 9/21/2021
Edited: 7/13/2021

The Case For Miracles

By Jon Kauffman

Peace Dove

Major Baugh

Major Harold Baugh, former Commanding Officer of the Fargo Salvation Army, was a wonderful friend to me and my wife until he passed away in 2019. His wife, Major Aleene Baugh, also our good friend, experienced a great miracle.

The Salvation Army has annual meetings for officers of the Salvation Army. Major Aleene’s daughter and her husband are also officers of the Salvation Army. One winter, Major Aleene was traveling to Indiana from Fargo to watch her grandchildren while her daughter and her daughter’s husband attended the officer’s meetings.

As she traveled through Wisconsin it began to rain and a thick layer of ice coated the highway. As Major Aleene came over a hill, suddenly her car began to fishtail. Major Aleene prayed asking God to send his angel to help her.

Suddenly her car righted itself. She looked up and could see an angel’s wings, one on either side of her car. The angel guided her car to the bottom of the hill where a family was stranded with their car in the ditch. Her car gently rolled up and stopped. The family joined her in the car. The angel guided her into to town where she left the family.

She continued on her journey with the angel guiding her car until she had passed through the rainstorm.

Many of us have experienced miracles.

The Case for Miracles

Lee Strobel has written an excellent book about miracles. The Case for Miracles, A journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural, Zondervan, 2018.

Mr. Strobel explores the evidence for and against miracles.

In preparation for this book, Mr. Strobel commissioned Barna Research to conduct a national scientific survey to find the opinion of Americans about miracles. Among the fascinating findings of the survey, Barna Research discovered that 94,000,000 Americans have personally experienced a miracle from God.

Also quit interesting is the fact that only 67% of Americans believe miracles are possible, but among well educated medical doctors 75% believe miracles are possible. 55% of US physicians have seen results in their patients that they would consider miraculous. Page 31.

Dr. Michael Shermer

Lee begins by interviewing atheist, Dr. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine. Dr. Shermer discusses his spiritual journey and why he does not believe in miracles.

Dr. Shermer was once a Christian who no longer believes. He tells how he became a Christian and why he left the faith. Dr. Shermer bases his skepticism about miracles on the writing of David Hume. Mr. Strobel reports in detail his interview with Dr. Shermer.

Dr. Shermer claims we do not have scientific evidence that miracles happen when people pray. Pages 35-69

Dr. Craig S. Keener

Next Mr. Strobel visits Dr. Craig S. Keener. Dr. Keener has written a 1172 page book about Miracles. In his book he documents many miracles. Lee Strobel lists many of them in “The Case for Miracles.”

Dr. Keener does not find David Hume’s arguments against miracles convincing. Dr. Keener dissects Hume’s arguments against miracles and shows they are lacking. Keener claims and demonstrates that Hume’s arguments are based on presuppositions and circular reasoning. Pages 83 – 88.

Dr. Keener documents 350 cases of blindness miraculously healed. He records Cataracts and goiters- instantly and visibly healed. Paralytics suddenly able to walk. Multiple sclerosis radically cured. Broken bones suddenly mended. Hearing for the deaf. Sight for the blind. Voices restored. Burns disappearing. Massive hemorrhaging stopped. Failing kidneys cured. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis – gone. Life given back to the dead, even after several hours.

Dr. Keener provides expert and corroborating evidence. Page 95

Dr. Candy Gunther Brown

Strobel interviews Dr. Candy Gunther Brown. Dr. Brown has studied miracles from a scientific perspective. She discusses clinical studies that indicate prayer increases the likelihood of miraculous healing.

Dr. Brown visited Heidi and Rolland Baker in Mozambique and studied healings that were taking place as these two missionaries prayed for the sick. Page 121.

Tom Doyle, Missionary

In his interview with Strobel, Doyle shares that many Muslims have come to faith through dreams and visions of Jesus. Often these dreams will reveal facts that the people receiving the dreams could not have known. Jesus will often tell the person dreaming to speak to specific people and as a result of these encounters, many become Christian.

Dr. Michael G. Straus

In Strobel’s interview with Dr. Straus, Straus discusses the fine tuning of nature and the miracle of creation. Straus also discusses the implications of the expanding universe. Page 163.

Detective J. Warner Wallace

Strobel discusses the miracle of the Resurrection with Detective J. Warner Wallace. They discuss subjects such as eyewitness testimony and dealing with gospel discrepancies.

Dr. Roger E. Olson

In his interview with Strobel, Dr. Olson discusses reasons why we do not experience miracles. Dr. Olson asks, are we embarrassed by miracles? Page 213.

Dr. Douglas R Groothuis

Strobel ends the book with a chapter entitled “When Miracles Don’t Happen. Dr. Groothuis’ wife lives with great chronic pain. Traditional medicine cannot deal with the pain. Dr. Groothuis has prayed many times for her healing. And yet she still deals with pain.

Dr. Groothuis discusses the historical and scientific evidence for miracles. He quotes Joseph speaking to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.

When we are suffering God may intended it for good but that may be a small comfort in our pain. Why doesn’t God always perform miracles?

Groothuis defines miracles as outside the normal course of events. They’re a supernatural exception to the way the world usually works.

Copyright © 2020 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

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