Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ephemeral streams

Professing Christians commit apostasy for a variety of reason, but here's one reason: I think that, in a nutshell, this is all a lot of Christians are taught: we are sinners, for God to forgive us, we must put our faith in Christ. That's the only way to avoid damnation.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that message as far as it goes. Indeed, mainline denominations fail to preach that fundamental truth.

But there's a limitation to that message. The rewards and sanctions are internal to the theological paradigm. If you come to reject the paradigm, you may feel that you have nothing to lose since the stakes are defined by the paradigm. For the prospective apostate, Christianity offers a make-believe solution to a make-believe problem. Sin is a theological category. If you don't believe in sin, if you don't believe in God, then there's no need for the Cross, no need for divine forgiveness. No heaven or hell. 

To take a comparison: in traditional Catholic theology, we are born hellbound due to original sin. Baptism shifts us from the hellbound lane to the heavenbound lane. But that's just temporary since we can slip back to the hellbound lane at any time. Therefore, we need a lifelong maintenance program of Penance, Communion, and Last Rites to stay in a  state of grace. The reason Luther posed such a threat to Catholicism is that when he rediscovered the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, that implicitly nullified the entire Catholic paradigm. (Mind you, Catholicism had fudge factors, and it eventually ditched the traditional paradigm. The priesthood and sacramental system is an empty shell.) 

Christianity is often presented in such a way that the rewards and sanctions have no significance outside the Christian framework. If you reject the framework, you have nothing to fear since the rewards and sanctions take the framework for granted, and have no reality beyond it. 

But Christians need to understand that naturalism has its own sanctions, without any compensatory rewards. Christians need to consider the cost of naturalism.

Is human life of any value if we pass into oblivion when we die? 

If naturalistic evolution is true, then the things we value are the arbitrary result of how the mad scientist of natural selection wired our brains. Like in the animal world where some mothers defend their young while other mothers eat their young. Or the Terminator which is programmed to kill John Connor the first time around, then reprogrammed to protect him the second time around. 

If naturalistic evolution is true, there is no right or wrong, just winners and losers.

Part of enlightened self-interest is to consider the consequences of different positions. Suppose you stood before three doors. Suppose you know that if you pass through door 3 there's an 70% chance you will be electrocuted. Suppose you don't know what will happen if you pass through doors 1 & 2. For all you know there might be a 100% chance you will be electrocuted. Even so, it makes better sense in that situation to opt for the unknown danger rather than the known danger. 

Suppose for the sake of argument that the evidence for Christianity and naturalism was about the same. But the consequences are not the same. It would be foolhardy to bet on naturalism, because there's no payback. This is why I collect statements by atheists who are candid enough to admit what naturalism represents:

Atheists say we should follow the truth. But what if the truth is a door that will electrocute anyone who goes through that door? Isn't that an option you should scratch off the list?

Atheists are like a suicide cult where you mustn't disappoint the team. You go first! 

Now I'm not suggesting that Christian faith is just about playing a role or acting as if it's true. At some point there needs to be genuine conviction. 

Suppose you have a choice between living in the desert or living by an ephemeral stream. Either way, you may die of thirst, but if you live in the desert you're bound to die of thirst! 

A Christian whose faith is wavering should keep on doing Christian things. That's the only source of hope. Naturalism is hopeless. 


  1. Excellent post. All of these talking points cannot be sufficiently emphasized.

    Even if there were no supreme deity governing the universe, atheism would still have no reason to exist or proclaim itself to be true. Even the validity of our own existence could be up for debate.

  2. >>>If naturalistic evolution is true, there is no right or wrong, just winners and losers.

    I couldnt agree more. It is interesting though to see atheists like Matt Dillahunty and his ilk having problem with the slavery of the OT if morality is not absolute.

    My major problem with atheism has never been their insistence of evidence for God, but their inconsistency in holding to opinions which only make sense within the Christian worldview.

    On the one hand, Dawkins believes that "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

    On the other hand he thinks that teaching religion to children is child-abuse. But if there is no purpose to the world, or no evil - how is this child abuse, even if one assumes there can be a purpose to one's life?