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The futility of Atheism

>> Monday, May 31, 2010

Here is an imaginary conversation between an Atheist and a Christian. Although imaginary, I'll base it on actual conversations that I've had or heard Atheists having.

Atheist: I'm actually amazed. I'm amazed that someone as intelligent as you could believe in the miracles that are claimed in the Bible. It seems absolutely foolish and unintelligent to buy in to such nonsense. I can't believe in God when it seems so illogical. Don't you agree that we should be past that sort of ancient mystical thinking?

Christian: Well, I certainly agree with you that we need to avoid foolishness and we need to commit to being intelligent. As a matter of fact, I'm a little confused (considering your view of reality) as to how we can be committed to being logical using your worldview. What I mean by that is if I held your view about the origin of the universe and about reality itself I would have a very difficult time reconciling what I am doing (using logic, reason and trying to be intelligent) with what I believed about the universe. If all that we are is simply bags of biological stuff then what is happening in your brain is not what is happening in my brain. And, you're not really thinking and making free decisions, you're just subject to electrochemical responses happening in your brain. In other words, a naturalistic, materialistic outlook on life can not make sense of or account for immaterial, abstract and invariant entities like laws of logic.

Atheist: Wait a minute! Just wait one minute. That is simply ridiculous. Everybody uses logic. You can't function in this world without it. That is just absurd to say that atheists can't appeal to logic if our worldview is true.

Christian: But, don't you see? That is exactly my point my friend. You are doing things and living in a way that simply clashes with what you are saying about the world. I'm not questioning your intelligence or your attempts to be logical. You are attempting to be logical. But you cannot account for what you are doing. We are dealing with the preconditions of intelligibility here. Let me put it this way-- Where do laws of logic grow?

Atheist: Hahaha! Laws of logic don't "grow" anywhere.

Christian: Have you ever smelled one? Tasted one? Touched one?

Atheist: Don't be silly. The entire idea of a law is totally abstract. Every thought and every idea is an abstraction.

Christian: Exactly. Now please explain to me how a materialistic view of reality allows for immaterial, invariant and universal laws like "laws of logic".

Atheist: As a society, we have collectively decided on these laws. They don't just exist out there in nature. They only exist in minds.

Christian: O.K., so what you are saying is that "laws of logic" are simply conventional? We just decide what is or isn't so?

Atheist: It's based on a lot of past experience in the world. But, yes, that is what I am saying. They are simply stipulated.

Christian: So it would be appropriate (using your assumptions) for a society to develop and just create their own brand of laws of logic? Maybe in some societies it will be seen as logical to say "This is my foot. But it is not the case that this is my foot"? What if a society sprang up that encouraged contradictions? Would that be an appropriate stipulation?

Atheist: No. You can't do that. Laws of logic can be tested and shown to be true.

Christian: So you admit that these "laws of logic" exist outside of the minds of the people who supposedly stipulated them?

Atheist: Erh... yes.

Christian: When you die, will laws of logic continue to exist?

Atheist: Of course.

Christian: So they exist outside of your mind and will continue to operate outside of a particular human beings existence? In other words they are universal?

Atheist: No question.

Christian: So you acknowledge the fact that you are utilizing and appealing to things that are universal and immaterial? How does your worldview allow for such things? I thought your basic metaphysical presupposition was naturalistic materialism?
You've already granted that you can't "touch" a law and yet you appeal to these laws everyday all the while denying the existence of immaterial things with your implicit materialist worldview. You can't have it both ways. You are living as though you held to Christian theistic presuppositions while denying the existence of God with your profession of Atheism.

To be continued.......

In the meantime, check out this video. I think it'll help put some of this into context.


Defending the faith 101

>> Friday, May 28, 2010

How do I defend the faith? You'd be surprised at just how many answers you could get to this question. Since this is only a blog, I'll try and obey the rules of bloggin' and keep this simple-- and hopefully edifying! Here are some basic tips on Christian apologetics:

1. You're not neutral. Don't pretend to be. Don't worry. Neither is your opponent. One of the unfortunate and greatest weaknesses in modern-day Christian apologetics is the "myth of neutrality" error. What do I mean? Many Christians enter a discussion with say, an atheist, and give all the ground away by saying something like "Well, God almost certainly exists. I think the evidence is overwhelming. What do you think?" This is a philosophically bad approach and on top of that... it is wholly unbiblical too! Remember the charter verse of Christian apologetics? 1 Peter 3:15 right? What does the apostle Peter say? He says:

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

See that? Before Peter gives the command to give a defense of the faith to anyone who asks we are told to honor Christ the Lord as holy. It is dishonoring to Christ, in the beginning of our apologetic, to assume neutrality or give the impression that "maybe there's a god". The Bible says:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?-- 1 Corinthians 1:20

This is the apostle Paul straight-up challenging the wisdom of this world and calling- out fallen men's philosophical and religious systems. He says the wisdom of this world is foolish. That is how God feels about philosophical/religious systems that are opposed to the knowledge of Him. We don't have to pretend neutrality to point the person to Christ. We must maintain an apologetic that does not create a divide between our evangelism. In other words, a biblical apologetic is inseparable from evangelism. If, evangelism consists of calling people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus then our apologetic cannot be running backward from that (pretending that Jesus isn't Lord). Just take a look at the apologetic situations going on in the book of Acts. No neutrality. No separation of apologetics and evangelism. The unbeliever is not neutral... don't pretend that you are either. Otherwise, like Dr. Greg Bahnsen said, "You will be an enemy behind lines".

2. A really great tool on how to critique and dismantle any unbelieving worldview (Atheism, Mormonism, etc.) comes straight from the pages of Scripture itself (of course :] ). Greg Bahnsen referred to this as the "two-fold" apologetic method. In Proverbs 26:4 we read:

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

How can this be applied to our apologetic situation? It can look something like this:

A.) Don't use the unbelievers starting points, foundations, presuppositions, etc.. Basically, don't reason in the way he does. Simply speaking, don't reason apart from biblical presuppositions with a commitment to Christ as Lord. Again, as an example with the atheist, don't assume neutrality. Don't reason according to his basic assumptions (which starts with a rejection of God). He is wrong from his starting point! He opposes himself! You need to demonstrate that his worldview reduces to absurdity. When you don't take his starting points and demonstrate to him that he is wrong from the start you will be in a position to refute even his underlying assumptions and call him to repentance and faith. It can look something like this:

Atheist: Where is your evidence for God? I don't believe in God because there is NO evidence.

Christian: First of all, there is so much evidence that ultimately you will be left without excuse before God for your unbelief. Secondly, you just stated that you already have disallowed any discussion of any evidence for His existence. So you began your argument disallowing me to even present such evidence. However, everything that you are doing even now, asking for evidence, reasoning, using logic and all the rest doesn't even make sense apart from the existence of God. You are demonstrating even in your profession of non-belief in God a subtle dependence on Him even to make your argument. If you were right and God didn't exist then you wouldn't have any reason to assume induction (that the future is like the past) allowing for you to examine evidence in the first place. Also, you can't make sense out of your appeal to logic and reason if you hold to your unbelieving presuppositions. You are essentially refuting your own position even reasoning against God.

B.) The second way that we can use this verse in Proverbs is to then do a further internal critique of the unbelievers system. We now want to jump into their worldview for a moment and demonstrate that if we reason in the way they are we will be reduced to foolishness. Here's an example:

Mormon: The bible has been corrupted. It is missing many plain and precious parts. You need a modern day prophet to tell you what God is saying and what He has said that is lost.

Christian: O.K., I understand what you are saying. Only there is a major flaw in your reasoning. You claim that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord right?

Mormon: Absolutely! He is the Savior and Lord of the world!

Christian: Can He lie?

Mormon: No. Never. Not even a possibility.

Christian: Then I think we have an irreconcilable contradiction in your belief system. Because, you say that Jesus is Lord and that He cannot lie. You also claim that the Bible has been corrupted and is missing many plain and precious parts. However, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). If your claim about Scripture is true then Jesus is made to be a liar. Which both you and I agree is an impossibility. If His words were lost then His statement is not true. However, if He preserved His word and it is not missing many plain and precious parts then Joseph Smith is shown to be a liar. Which one are you more comfortable with?

So, using this "two-fold" apologetic method we can basically say:

1.) Don't reason like they do. Use Scripture as your starting point and maintain your commitment to Christ as Lord while you evangelize.

2.) Do an internal critique to show them that their views cannot work.

Dr. Bahnsen used to say "reduce the unbeliever's worldview to absurdity. If you have done this you have done your job as an apologist because you have left them in a position to repent".

Obviously, there is more that could be said. But, I hope this helps! I would highly recommend reading "Always Ready" by Dr. Greg Bahnsen if you want a primer on Christian Apologetics. Now lets get out there and reach people!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Jeff Durbin
Apologia Church

*Thank you so much to all of you who are helping us with our ministry resources! We are very, very close to having the whole list taken care of! Thank you! Here is the list.


Christ is of ultimate worth

>> Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tonight at RENEW we spoke a great deal on suffering and the sovereignty of God. I plan on diving into this subject in detail during our series on doctrine. In the meantime, I brought up this video to our group and promised to put it up. This is a great display of God being glorified in these "jars of clay" that we all are...

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

I should mention that this brother in Christ just recently went to be with the Lord. Remember to pray for his family.


Leaked audio from the LDS temple ceremony

>> Monday, May 24, 2010

Here is a link to some of the actual audio from the LDS temple ceremony. Some very telling theological claims and implications for comparison and critique with Scripture. I realize that many of our LDS friends consider the temple ceremonies "sacred". However, considering the claims of the LDS church to be the one true church I consider it to be of utmost importance and value to be able to study and critique (in the light of Holy Scripture) the true theology, teachings and practices of the LDS church-- however cherished and sacred they may be in practice. Ultimately, Mormon theology about Scripture, God, Salvation and many other essential teachings is corrupt and is leading people astray. It is the duty of Christians and the Christian Church to expose the false-teachings of the LDS church so that we can point them to the True and Living God and the biblical Gospel. Light has to penetrate darkness in order for people to escape.

If the LDS church claims to represent Jesus Christ there should be absolutely no fear of allowing Christians to listen to and test these practices and see if they line-up with Scripture. We deeply love and care for those in the LDS religion. This is why we are so concerned to truly understand them and their beliefs in tota so that we may be better prepared to reach them.

I pray that the opportunity to listen-in on the ceremonies in the temple will ignite Christ-centered and Gospel-centered conversations that will bring the Latter-day Saints to salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jeff Durbin
Apologia Church

PS-- Thank you to those of you who continue to support our ministry with your giving! We couldn't do what we do without God giving through you! Also, thank you to those of you who helped us with our ministry book list! We appreciate it more than you can imagine. Here is the link to our ministry needs book-list on Amazon.


Ministry Needs List

>> Sunday, May 16, 2010

I am preparing to do a verse-by-verse study through the book of Romans at Apologia Church.  I am bubbling over with excitement!  I also am currently in a deep study on the issues surrounding the "New Perspectives on Paul".  I am extremely passionate about this issue and I strongly believe that this issue is a dangerous and deceptive attack and distortion of the Gospel.

With that, as a ministry we struggle to make ends meet.  We are dependent on the giving of God's people to do the things that we do on a regular basis.  We thought we would present our ministry needs to those who regularly support us in hopes that you might consider helping us to get these resources that are vital to our work.  Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated!  You can get to our list by clicking here.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Jeff Durbin
Apologia Church


Pahrump was fantastic!

Luke and I had a fantastic time of ministry at Pahrump Community Church in Pahrump, Nevada. The event was Saturday afternoon from 4pm to 7pm. I basically spoke for the 3-hours straight through. It was a wonderful time with a great audience. We also had a great time with the question and answer period. Our friend Jim is going to get us a copy of the event (both audio and video) so hopefully we'll be able to hook you up with a copy :]

Special thanks and appreciation to Jim Scott for organizing the event and allowing us the opportunity to equip and bless the saints in Pahrump. We look forward to returning to serve Christ with you again Jim!



Witnesses and Latter-day Saints this weekend in Nevada

>> Monday, May 10, 2010

This coming weekend Luke and I will be at Pahrump Community Church in Pahrump, Nevada.  I will be speaking on reaching out to Jehovah's Witnesses and Latter-day Saints.  We will be doing two separate sessions followed by a question and answer period.

Please pray for us.  Pray that God would be glorified in the preaching and the question and answer time period.  It is my understanding that this has been advertised and we hope to have some members of each group in attendance.

Also, please pray for Luke and I as we travel to Nevada and try to return safely by Sunday evening so that we can be back on time for Apologia Church at 5pm.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Jeff Durbin
Apologia Church


Freaky Star Trek Christians...

>> Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I thought you might get a kick out of this.

So yesterday I was doing some counseling with someone while sitting outside of Starbucks. We were discussing forgiveness and why God commands believers to forgive others. I was telling the story of the slave who owed a debt he could never repay, when an well-dressed, well-groomed and mature older-lady walked up to us with a very pleasant and large smile on her face and said:

"Do you know what you religious freaks sound like when you speak? You sound like Trekkies! (making googly finger movements) LoooLooooLaaaaaLaaaaaLOOOlaaaaaLooooLaaa!"

I have to admit, I was cracking up! So she just walked away laughing. I tried to encourage her to return and speak with us. She all but ran with her tail between her legs to her car. The funniest part of this story is that this lady did not look like someone who would act so foolish and childish. I'll bet she was rehearsing that moment the whole time she was inside getting her coffee. And that is about the best the atheist worldview has to offer. Sound-bites. No substance. No nerve. No courage. No respect. No reason.

As immature as this lady was, I'll admit, I was dying laughing and it made my day. You should have seen the look on her face! She had such a look of total satisfaction.

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God"-- Psalm 14:1