Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 16)

Church ApologeticsAtheists don’t believe God exists. However, they do think the non-existent God is a bully. In “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins wrote this about God –

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 

I don’t remember being that angry about God when I was an atheist, but I did think theists were ignorant people. Because I didn’t believe in the existence of God or the credibility of the Bible, the things written about God in the Bible didn’t bother me much. It was just stupid to believe it. However, the God written about in the Old Testament does bother Dawkins and many other atheists today. 

Which leads me to this question: is God an unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, malevolent bully? That’s part of the attack on the Church today, so how do we respond?

According to the Old Testament, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) We know what we know about God because He revealed those things to prophets who spoke and/or wrote what God revealed. Those things God doesn’t reveal to us are “the secret things.” We’ll concern ourselves at this time with what God has revealed about Himself and look for signs of “bully behavior.”

The revelation of the Old Testament God begins with God creating a paradise for the first human beings. They were surrounded with great food to eat, fresh air to breathe, cool water to drink and long walks in paradise with God. No bully behavior yet. 

God warned the man He created about a danger that lurked in paradise – called “evil.” God told the man about the danger, what to do about the danger and what would happen to him if he didn’t heed God’s warning. No bully behavior yet.

“Evil” showed up and tempted the first human beings to disobey God. “Evil” lied to the human beings by saying they were not in danger and that God didn’t tell them the truth because He didn’t want them to become become like Him (“you will be like God”). What did God do? He told the first humans that they would suffer the consequences of not heeding His warning about the danger of “evil.” God clothed them and promised them a Savior so they wouldn’t suffer for eternity. No bully behavior yet.

Paradise was compromised because of “evil,” so God removed them from paradise and gave them a new way of continuing a relationship with Him. Years later when the firstborn son of the first humans was extremely angry with his younger brother, God warned the firstborn that “evil” wanted to control him and God told the firstborn how to gain control over “evil.” When the firstborn murdered the secondborn, God told the firstborn he would suffer the consequences of not heeding His warning about the danger of “evil.” God then placed a special mark on the firstborn to protect him from anyone who finding him would try to kill him. No bully behavior yet.

Atheists often point to Noah’s Flood as proof that God is unjust, unforgiving, vindictive and malevolent. Is that true?

The first humans had a third son after the firstborn murdered the secondborn. His name was Seth. Seth had a son named Enosh and men began to call on the name of the Lord at that time. One part of the human family followed the firstborn (Cain). Another part of the human family followed Seth and Enosh.

Fast forward several hundred years and God saw that the wickedness of the human race “was great in the earth.” God saw that every intent of the thoughts of people’s hearts “was only evil continually.” This grieved God and He thought about destroying the human race that He had created. However, a man named Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Instead of destroying the human race, God started again with one man and his family.

Keep in mind that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. It “belongs” to Him. The universe is His to do with as He wills. However, instead of destroying “His” creation God sent a Flood to cleanse the earth of the wickedness of the human race. He warned Noah about the coming Flood and taught him how to build a special vessel that could keep him and his family and many species of animals and birds safe during the Flood. God brought the Flood to an end and started again with Noah and his family. God promised Noah and his children and grandchildren that He would never Flood the entire earth again. God also gave the human race specific instructions how to get along with each other and live better than they had before. That does not sound like bully behavior. It sounds like a gracious Creator who wanted to guide humans toward good and away from the evil that had overtaken the race and led them to think only about evil continually and act on their thoughts in great wickedness.

Can an atheist look at the Old Testament revelation of God and come away with the views expressed above? I know they can because I did it and others have done the same thing. Even before I became a theist I could see that the revelation of God in the Old Testament was not of someone who was unjust, unforgiving, vindictive and malevolent. Even as an atheist I could see that the God of the Old Testament was not a bully. I didn’t believe He existed, but I also didn’t think stories about Him in the Old Testament were stories of an unjust bully.

So, why do many atheists today believe the God of the Old Testament is mean and vindictive? It seems that they haven’t read and understood the story of God in the Old Testament very well or they are blinded by their hatred of religion or something else.

One of the necessary jobs of a journalist and researcher is to remove themselves from biases and emotions and follow a pattern that leads to the truth of a matter and a proper understanding of that matter. I did that job professionally for more than 40 years, so I understand what it takes to do it successfully. What I see in some atheists today is a predisposition to hate God and anything about Him, whether there’s a reason to hate Him or not. Passion does not always come from a position of reasonableness. Unreasonable people have their own passions. Let’s be reasonable about the revelation of God in the Old Testament and let our passions flow from reason.

The existence or non-existence of an eternal God is the most important issue facing every person on the planet. If God doesn’t exist, then move on and do what you want because there’s nothing for you after you die. If God does exist, then pay attention because there is something after you die and what happens here and now plays an important role in what that something will be for your eternal future.

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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8 thoughts on “Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 16)

  1. When I hear that flood story I think of a number of things:

    It’s s dumb story without much plausibility
    It has no geological support
    YHWH is not just a bully but a blood thirsty one. Not only did he not have to drown 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 % of the life on this planet but he also did not need a burnt offering of some of the survivors.

    Yeah, the omnipotent YHWH loves the smell of burning flesh. He is omnipotent yet could not simply adjust the thinking of humans to not be evil. No, he had to kill all life on the planet to accomplish what he could have accomplished with a simple spoken word – so he book says.

    Don’t you think it’s odd how YHWH only seems to use natural disasters to punish? No lightning bolts, no personal visits, just natural disasters as if he wasn’t really punishing anyone at all, because he doesn’t exist.

    I don’t see any way that you could spin the flood story in a positive way. It’s a dumb story.

    • Hi, myahtiestlife. Your comment is a good example of what Christians need to understand when talking with unbelievers. In defamation law (libel/slander) your statement is known as “mixed opinion.” It’s something journalists have to be very careful with in covering and reporting news. Mixed opinion combines both statements of fact and statements of opinion. Your comment includes opinion – “It’s a dumb story …” and a statement of fact – “It has no geological support.” If you had said, “I don’t think Christians have enough geological support to convince me that the Flood story is true,” that would have been your opinion, making your comment “pure opinion.” Statements of pure opinion are not usually viewed as defamation because they can’t be proven or disproven. It’s “your opinion.” However, you made the fact claim that the Flood story in the Bible “has no geological support.” That’s something that can be proven or disproven. If there is one geological fact that supports the Flood story claim, your statement is factually incorrect. Are you sure there is “no” geological support for the Flood story in the Bible?

    • My comment is entirely my opinion and why I hold that opinion.
      No, there is no geological support for a global flood that covered all the mountain tops, killed all the vegitation and all but a handful of animal life.

      Besides that, the story in the Epic of Gilgamesh is much older and better.

    • Your opinion is mixed with fact claims, which makes it mixed opinion.

      “It’s a dumb story without much plausibility” Opinion

      “It has no geological support.” Mixed Opinion because of Fact claim

      “YHWH is not just a bully but a blood thirsty one.” Opinion

      “Not only did he not have to drown 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 % of the life on this planet but he also did not need a burnt offering of some of the survivors.” Opinion

      “Yeah, the omnipotent YHWH loves the smell of burning flesh.” Opinion

      “He is omnipotent yet could not simply adjust the thinking of humans to not be evil.” Opinion

      “No, he had to kill all life on the planet to accomplish what he could have accomplished with a simple spoken word – so he book says.” Opinion

      “Don’t you think it’s odd how YHWH only seems to use natural disasters to punish? No lightning bolts, no personal visits, just natural disasters as if he wasn’t really punishing anyone at all, because he doesn’t exist.” Opinion

      “I don’t see any way that you could spin the flood story in a positive way. It’s a dumb story.” Opinion

      “No, there is no geological support for a global flood that covered all the mountain tops, killed all the vegitation and all but a handful of animal life.” Mixed opinion because of Fact claim

      “Besides that, the story in the Epic of Gilgamesh is much older and better.” Opinion

      You and I and everyone else have the right to their opinion – as long as it’s opinion. What we don’t have a right to do (in cultures that believe in and enforce defamation laws) is mix fact with opinion and expect legal protection. So, let’s look at just the mixed opinion statement.

      “It has no geological support.” Many geologists believe there is geological support for the Genesis Flood. Some of the primary evidences available to researchers are:

      Evidence #1—Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level due to the ocean waters having flooded over the continents.
      We find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents. For example, most of the rock layers in the walls of Grand Canyon (more than a mile above sea level) contain marine fossils. Fossilized shellfish are even found in the Himalayas.

      Evidence #2—Rapid burial of plants and animals.
      We find extensive fossil “graveyards” and exquisitely preserved fossils. For example, billions of nautiloid fossils are found in a layer within the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon. This layer was deposited catastrophically by a massive flow of sediment (mostly lime sand). The chalk and coal beds of Europe and the United States, and the fish, ichthyosaurs, insects, and other fossils all around the world, testify of catastrophic destruction and burial.

      Evidence #3—Rapidly deposited sediment layers spread across vast areas.
      We find rock layers that can be traced all the way across continents—even between continents—and physical features in those strata indicate they were deposited rapidly. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon can be traced across the entire United States, up into Canada, and even across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The chalk beds of England (the white cliffs of Dover) can be traced across Europe into the Middle East and are also found in the Midwest of the United States and in Western Australia. Inclined (sloping) layers within the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon are testimony to 10,000 cubic miles of sand being deposited by huge water currents within days.

      Evidence #4—Sediment transported long distances.
      We find that the sediments in those widespread, rapidly deposited rock layers had to be eroded from distant sources and carried long distances by fast-moving water. For example, the sand for the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon (Arizona) had to be eroded and transported from the northern portion of what is now the United States and Canada. Furthermore, water current indicators (such as ripple marks) preserved in rock layers show that for “300 million years” water currents were consistently flowing from northeast to southwest across all of North and South America, which, of course, is only possible over weeks during a global flood.

      Evidence #5—Rapid or no erosion between strata.
      We find evidence of rapid erosion, or even of no erosion, between rock layers. Flat, knife-edge boundaries between rock layers indicate continuous deposition of one layer after another, with no time for erosion. For example, there is no evidence of any “missing” millions of years (of erosion) in the flat boundary between two well-known layers of Grand Canyon—the Coconino Sandstone and the Hermit Formation. Another impressive example of flat boundaries at Grand Canyon is the Redwall Limestone and the strata beneath it.

      Evidence #6—Many strata laid down in rapid succession.
      Rocks do not normally bend; they break because they are hard and brittle. But in many places we find whole sequences of strata that were bent without fracturing, indicating that all the rock layers were rapidly deposited and folded while still wet and pliable before final hardening. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone in Grand Canyon is folded at a right angle (90°) without evidence of breaking. Yet this folding could only have occurred after the rest of the layers had been deposited, supposedly over “480 million years,” while the Tapeats Sandstone remained wet and pliable.

      One of the scientists I interviewed as an atheist wrote this about geology and the Genesis Flood.

      All the mountains of the world have been under water at some time or times in the past, as indicated by sedimentary rocks and marine fossils near their summits. Even most volcanic mountains with their pillow lavas seem largely to have been formed when under water.
      Most of the earth’s crust consists of sedimentary rocks (sandstones, shales, limestones, etc.). These were originally formed in almost all cases under water, usually by deposition after transportation by water from various sources.

      The assigned “ages” of the sedimentary beds (which comprise the bulk of the “geologic column”) have been deduced from their assemblages of fossils. Fossils, however, normally require very rapid burial and compaction to be preserved at all. Thus every sedimentary formation appears to have been formed rapidly—even catastrophically—and more and more present-day geologists are returning to this point of view.
      Since there is known to be a global continuity of sedimentary formations in the geologic column (that is, there is no worldwide “unconformity,” or time gap, between successive “ages”), and since each unit was formed rapidly, the entire geologic column seems to be the product of continuous rapid deposition of sediments, comprising in effect the geological record of a time when “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”

      It is also significant that the types of rocks, the vast extent of specific sedimentary rock formations, the minerals and metals, coal and oil found in rocks, the various types of structures (i.e., faults, folds, thrusts, etc.), sedimentary rocks grossly deformed while still soft from recent deposition, and numerous other features seem to occur indiscriminately throughout the various “ages” supposedly represented in the column. To all outward appearances, therefore, they were all formed in essentially the same brief time period.
      The fossil sequences in the sedimentary rocks do not constitute a legitimate exception to this rule, for there is a flagrant circular reasoning process involved in using them to identify their supposed geologic age. That is, the fossils have been dated by the rocks where they are found, which in turn had been dated by their imbedded fossils with the sequences based on their relative assumed stages of evolution, which had ultimately been based on the ancient philosophy of the “great chain of being.” Instead of representing the evolution of life over many ages, the fossils really speak of the destruction of life (remember that fossils are dead things, catastrophically buried for preservation) in one age, with their actual local “sequences” having been determined by the ecological communities in which they were living at the time of burial.” Dr. Henry Morris

      The fact that there are traditions of the great Flood found in hundreds of tribes in all parts of the world (all similar in one way or another to that in the Genesis record) is firm evidence that those tribes all originated from the one family preserved through the cataclysm.

      I have no problem with opinion; we all have one. I do have a problem saying that no factual evidence exists for something that clearly has factual evidence in existence. You may not believe the evidence, but that does not negate the existence of the evidence.

    • “Yeah, the omnipotent YHWH loves the smell of burning flesh.” Fact according the the Christian holy texts

      20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
      =====
      You are not offering evidence of a global flood, only evidence that water was once where it is not now. Mountains are pushed up and all the dead creatures in the dirt go with them. You are completely ignoring the science behind the formation of the Grand Canyon and want to make up your own explanation and call that evidence. Pull your head out. If in fact your grand canyon evidence was evidence of a global flood there would not be a plethora of debunking and people laughing at the hubris of Answers In Genesis folk for making the same claims.

      I presume that you think you have the science all understood but you do not. You are clearly ignoring the geological experts in favor of your own delusion. You can offer laughable evidence and say there is evidence for a global flood – that does not make it valid evidence or even evidence that people should pay attention to. As long as you’re mimicking AiG or siding with them you’ve clearly lost the plot.

      Anything in the grand canyon that might be used as evidence should be visible all over the world if there were a global flood. It is not and there was not a global flood. Your evidence is wishful thinking that is not validated by any respected geologist nor any credible science. I’m sure it all sounds good on a Friday night when you’re trying to convert people to your religion but you don’t have science on your side in this and that is what you are trying to use. You chose the losing side on this one.

      Just the same, go on making stuff up and trying to sound like you’re science-y. It’s fun to watch.

    • The work of a journalist is to investigate evidence and report it. I experienced my first large flood as a child in July of 1951 in Kansas. It devastated two states, killed 17 people and displaced more than half-a-million people. We lived several miles from the flood area, so we were not displaced. However, I remember seeing the damage and marveling at the power of water. I grew up in Florida and experienced lots of flash flooding along with damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. I covered numerous floods as a journalist and saw similar and unique signatures of each flood. Each flood was unique in its advancing and retreating path and damage. The power of flood water was sobering.

      It is difficult to understand the impact a world-wide flood would have on the planet since it cannot be replicated. Geologists are doing their best to understand something that happened only once in history. I am interested in what they have found and are finding. The evidence they uncover and reveal to us helps us understand what happened to our planet in the past.

      I shared six evidences with you that you chose not to address specifically. Instead, you accuse me of ignoring evidence and being deluded. I don’t take offense because I said the same things as an atheist years ago. Seriously looking at evidence opened my eyes to the possibility of a world-wide flood.

      You mentioned the science behind the formation of the Grand Canyon and said I was making up my own explanation and calling that evidence. You said that anything in the Grand Canyon that might be used as evidence should be visible all over the world if there were a global flood.

      Some geologists believe that the Grand Canyon was formed when pancake-like layers were rapidly deposited by catastrophic hydraulic forces. They believe the carving of the canyon could have been caused by the rapid, dynamic erosion that occurred in the latter part of the flood as the continents rose or soon afterward when immense volumes of water rushed back into the ocean basins.

      As to your comment about seeing similar canyons all over the world if there was a worldwide flood, it’s interesting to study the large canyons underground and underwater. British scientists recently discovered a massive valley buried beneath the ice near West Antarctica’s Ellsworth Mountains. Their measurements showed that the sub-glacial pit is much larger than the Grand Canyon. There are large canyons in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Siberia. There are other canyons offshore California and even the space between England and Europe has been studied as a giant canyon formed after something split the land masses. There are others, but these should suffice for now to demonstrate that the Grand Canyon is the not the only giant canyon that could have formed during a cataclysmic worldwide flood.

      My hope with anyone is that they will look at evidence with an open mind and use logic and reason while considering the evidence. I believe in the existence of God and the Bible as His revelation to humanity, but I have no interest in believing things that aren’t true. I became a theist and Christian because of evidence and continue to study new evidences as they are presented.

    • When you offer evidence and say that it ‘could have’ or ‘might have’ it is just conjecture that is not supported by geological evidence. You’re using phrases that a snake oil salesman uses. The truth is that there is no evidencial support for your hypotheses.

      I’m not going to address the lunacy of AiG. If you had actual geological evidence that anyone could accept we would not be having this conversation. That you continue to pretend that you have evidence is willful misdirection. If what you think is evidence were real and credible you would be talking to geology departments around the world. The fact that they are not talking to you is enough to know that what you are offering is just conjecture and wishful thinking. You see, convincing me is not enough, your ‘evidence’ has to be good enough to convince the majority of geologists around the globe. Do you think I would simply argue with you and never fact check your supposed ‘evidence’? You can call it evidence all you want to but if it is not enough to convince most geologists then I’m not in either. If you really think you have credible evidence why are you not spending your time changing the minds of actual geologists? I suspect it is because you know it is not credible evidence. I don’t have to waste my breath addressing your so called geological evidence. Clearly it is not good enough to convince real geologists. You know, the actual experts.

      Your argument fails because you expect me to believe what real geologists find no evidence for. Your so called evidence contradicts consensus opinion among actual geologists yet you deign to think me arrogant or some such for not believing you or even discussing it. Your ideas are easily dismissed because you do not have credible evidence. I’ve just explained why it is not credible so don’t accuse me of not addressing that bit.

      You did not address what I put forward from your good book? What gives on that?
      You continue to act like you are some kind of ‘honest journalist’ or something. I’ve not seen anything honest from you yet and fail to see how some inferred claim makes you less than dishonest. You mention that ‘some’ geologists believe in a global flood yet failed to mention who they are. I’m betting they work for AiG which just makes them dishonest shills.

      Please take your science and convince the geologists of the world, then I’ll believe you. Till then you’re just blowing smoke and hoping I’ll bite. It’s not going to happen.

      You sound more and more like a snake oil salesman. You claim evidence but it does not hold up to even the smallest of scrutiny.

    • I did not realize when I wrote this article about how unbelievers attack the Church that an unbeliever would give us such an excellent example of the attack format.

      You attacked with several opinion statements plus a couple that were mixed opinion. I began my defense by seeking a civil discussion based on evidence. You said the Flood story in the Bible “has no geological support.” Your response was to repeat your original statement. I responded by sharing several specific geological evidences. You responded by saying that I did not offer evidence of a global flood. That was a repeat of your original statement. You said I was “completely ignoring” the science behind the formation of the Grand Canyon and had made up my own explanation and called it evidence. I responded with evidence from a British geological research team as reported in the National Geographic Magazine about their finding an even larger canyon under the ice at Antarctica, plus geological evidences of other giant canyons around the world. You responded by accusing me of using phrases “that a snake oil salesman uses.”

      Your tactics are similar to most atheist responses to Christians, which have been helpful in demonstrating what we are dealing with in discussions with unbelievers. When you are not able to deal with evidence, you resort to personal attacks. That seems to be more of a response of desperation than a worthy tactic in defending one’s beliefs.

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