Category: God vs Atheism


Christian author Ray Comfort may have a point when he says atheists know there is a God.

In his book: “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think (WND Books, 2009), Comfort said, “We don’t have to prove that God exists to the professing atheist. This is because he intuitively knows that He exists. Every person has a God-given conscience. The Bible tells us that this is the ‘work of the law written on their hearts’.”

Just as every sane human knows it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, and commit adultery, Comfort says, they also know that God should be first in their life.

Comfort’s reasoning is this: People don’t fight against something that doesn’t exist, or something they don’t believe exists.

That’s why you don’t see groups rising up to fight against the tooth fairy. You don’t see professors in universities ridiculing the existence of Santa Claus. You don’t see organizations mobilizing troops to denounce werewolves, bunyips, or leprechauns.

What’s different with atheists?

So what’s different in the atheist’s brain? If God doesn’t exist, why do atheists such as Richard Dawkins care so passionately that some people believe in Him? Why do they bother writing books against the existence of God? Or waste time preparing videos for YouTube that ridicule God? Or fund ads on the side of London buses?

In fact, why do atheists bother acknowledging that people believe in God at all? People believe all sorts of ridiculous things that atheists don’t care about, so why does it matter to them if one of those things is God?

Interestingly, the Bible gives some answers to this.

Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” Atheists may be brilliant scholars or academics. They may be wonderful inventors, surgeons, or scientists. But if they say there is no God they are declaring themselves fools in spiritual matters. This is why atheism is sometimes called the fool’s philosophy.

The Apostle Paul pointed out in Romans 2:15 that God has written intuitive knowledge of His law in our human conscience. In a wonderful passage in Romans 1:20 he says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

There is abundant evidence of God’s handiwork written on our conscience and in nature all around us, and there is no excuse for not recognizing God’s work in this.

Justifying our actions

So, what is at the core of the atheist’s concern?

As sinful humans, we have an amazing tendency to try to justify our actions. This is something that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. We do something stupid and try to invent plausible reasons why we did it. Sometimes this is to fool others; sometimes it is to convince ourselves that we are not as stupid as our actions indicate.

Sometimes people who have taken a strong point of view on something wrong think it is their duty to get others on side, because there is safety in numbers. This is how cults form, and how dictators get away with murder.

If atheists know in their hearts that there really is a God, but they don’t want to be accountable to God for their actions, then it starts to make sense why they try so hard to convince others that God doesn’t exist.

This also explains why no-one bothers speaking out against belief in mermaids, pixies, and werewolves. People do not have the truth of these mythical creatures written in their hearts or on their conscience. Nor does nature declare anything about the majesty and power of leprechauns or hobgoblins.

So atheists must know intuitively that God exists. They just want to convince themselves and others that He doesn’t exist because if He does it means they have made the worst decision of their lives to reject Him. And that has eternal consequences that are too horrible for them to contemplate.

God wants us to come to Him. He offers salvation to all, and has given two magnificent evidences of Himself. One is the overwhelming evidence of His physical creation all around us, and the other is the imprint of His existence in our conscience.

There should be no atheists. The fact that there are shows human rebellion and arrogance — not an intellectual discovery

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Atheism is, essentially, a negative position. It is not believing in a god or actively believing there is no God or choosing to not exercise any belief or non-belief concerning God, etc. Whichever flavor is given to atheism, it is a negative position.

In discussions with atheists, I don’t hear any evidence for the validity of atheism. There are no “proofs” that God does not exist in atheist circles, at least, none that I have heard, especially since you can’t prove a negative regarding the existence of God. Of course, that isn’t to say that atheists haven’t attempted to offer some proofs that God does not exist. But their attempted proofs are invariably insufficient. After all, how do you prove there is no God in the universe? How do you prove that in all places and all times there is no God? You can’t. Besides, if there was proof of God’s non-existence, then atheists would be continually using it. But we don’t hear of any such commonly held proof supporting atheism or denying the existence of God. The atheist position is very difficult, if not impossible, to prove since it is an attempt to prove a negative. Therefore, since there are no proofs for atheism’s truth and there are no proofs that there is no God, the atheist must hold his position by faith.

Faith, however, is not something atheists like to claim as the basis of adhering to atheism. Therefore, atheists must go on the attack and negate any evidences presented for God’s existence in order to give intellectual credence to their position. If they can create an evidential vacuum in which no theistic argument can survive, their position can be seen as more intellectually viable. It is in the negation of theistic proofs and evidences that atheism brings its self-justification to self-proclaimed life.

There is, however, only one way that atheism is intellectually defensible and that is in the abstract realm of simple possibility. In other words, the atheist would have to propose that it may be possible that there is no God. But stating that something is possible doesn’t mean that it is a reality or that it is wise to adopt the position. If I said that it is possible that there is an ice cream factory on Jupiter, does that make it intellectually defensible or a position worth adopting merely because it is a possibility? Not at all. Simply claiming a possibility based on nothing more than it being a possible option–no matter how remote–is not sufficient grounds for atheists to claim viability in their atheism. They must come up with more than “It is possible,” or “There is no evidence for God,” otherwise, there really must be an ice cream factory on Jupiter, and the atheist should step up on the band wagon and start defending the position that Jupiterian ice cream exists.

At least we Christians have evidences for God’s existence, such as fulfilled Biblical prophecy, Jesus’ resurrection, the Transcendental Argument, the entropy problem, etc.

There is another problem for atheists. Refuting evidences for the existence of God does not prove atheism true anymore than refuting an eyewitness testimony of a marriage denies the reality of the marriage. Since atheism cannot be proven and since disproving evidences for God does not prove there is no God, atheists have a position that is intellectually indefensible. At best, atheists can only say there are no convincing evidences for God that have been presented so far. They cannot say there are no evidences for God because the atheist cannot know all evidences that possibly exist in the world. At best, the atheist can only say that the evidence presented so far has been insufficient.  This logically means that there could be evidences presented in the future that will suffice. The atheist must acknowledge that there may indeed be a proof that has been undiscovered and that the existence of God is possible. This would make the atheist more of an agnostic since at best the atheist can only be skeptical of God’s existence.

This is why atheists need to attack Christianity. It is because Christianity makes very high claims concerning God’s existence, which challenges their atheism and pokes holes in their vacuum. They like the vacuum. They like having the universe with only one god in it: themselves.

Some might think that atheists would be content with simply not believing in God and leave the theists to themselves. After all, if God doesn’t exist, then what’s the big deal? Why not let the theists believe in God the way a child believes in the tooth fairy? To the atheist, neither exists. So why bother?

Even though many atheists don’t care if people believe in God or not, others feel obligated to fight what I have often heard them label as “oppressive religious bigotry.” To this end, many of them are active in politics, social groups, the internet, and even use lawsuits to change society into a more atheistic temperament. They often consider Christians as a threat to freedom, common sense, and a good life. Consider this quote I found on an atheist website at atheists.org:

“We are constantly being overrun by people trying to get their ticket to Heaven at our expense, and if we don’t stand up and be counted we will lose the very freedom we hold most dear; freedom of thought . . . “

This kind of statement is quite common in atheist circles. It is inflammatory, illogical, and paranoid.  Many atheists I’ve spoken to tell me that I cannot think logically and am deluded and that I believe in myths. They tell me that I am bound by foolish antiquated beliefs and that I need to abandon my religious bigotry and become a “free thinker” like them. In other words, they don’t want me to think the way I do.

Additionally, after reading much atheist material and debating with them over the internet, I’ve discovered they often use mockery of God, religious leaders, and the Bible as weapons to further their agenda. This isn’t the case with all atheists as I have had very good conversations with some of them, but ridiculing attitudes are surprisingly prevalent and strong. Character assassination, half-truths, and out-of-context Bible quotes are typical tools used by many of them in attempts to make Christianity look bad.

Now, I am not trying to dismantle the atheist position with a generic character attack aimed at them. I am only making an observation. In the majority of my dealings with atheists, I have encountered great arrogance, rudeness, and condescension. Atheists have told me that religion is only a giant con-game designed to get peoples’ money and that clergymen are in business for themselves and that I was mentally ill for believing in God. Following are some of their comments:

  • “I do not want to be bound to archaic mythologies.This is the 21st century.”
  • “Christianity is an oppressive system used to control and manipulate people.”
  • “Logic demands that religion be proven wrong.”
  • “Christians should all be in mental wards.”
  • “We are free thinkers and not bound by outdated and oppressive myths.”
  • “Christians are sycophantic sheep.”

Atheists often imply that reason is best used by them and not by Christians who, as many say, need psychological help for believing in God. This condescending attitude is a fountain for derogatory comments. I have been called stupid, absurd, illogical, and a slave to my religion. I get the impression from atheists that they are so convinced they have the truth that no other options are available to them and that if you don’t agree with them that you’re not smart. Of course, they will deny this and say I am being ridiculous, but this is what I have observed–right or wrong.

Consider some of the terms atheists use to describe themselves: “Free thinkers,” “Free from religion,” “Rational,” etc. They use these self-descriptive terms in juxtaposition to statements of Christians as religious bigots, losers, and brainwashers. On the atheist.org website I read,

“Critical thinking, objectivity, scientific methodology, and peer review are all hallmarks of Atheism. Submission, fear, credulity, and insupportable claims are the hallmarks of religious belief.”

When I read statements like this, I cannot help wondering which religion to which they are referring. It can’t be Christianity because the Bible teaches us to love God and love our fellow man. It teaches that the fear of the Lord is wisdom and that truthfulness is a way of life and that eyewitness accounts of the miraculous is one of the evidences for its validity. Of course, the atheist would argue with all of this because he must in spite of the facts. But still, if an atheist wants to attack religion in general and Christianity specifically, he should, at least, do so objectively. But this doesn’t seem to be the hallmark of the atheistic movement–at least not from what I’ve seen so far.

Matt Slick considers the following statements from Atheists:

  • “Godism is consistent with crime, cruelty, envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness.”
  • “As long as religious purposes are served, ethics, inquiry and reason are abandoned.”

Are these the statements of tolerance, impartiality, truth, and sound judgment? Not at all. It seems to me that if the atheists who authored the above quotes were in power with their views of religion being cruel, evil, and unreasonable, would they then either imprison the “offenders” or legislate complete and total annihilation of all things religious? Who would then be full of hatred, malice, and bigotry? It is something to ponder. Does atheism really teach freedom? No. It teaches bondage for its adherents and for those who disagree with it.

The web site evilbible.com endeavors to do two things: (1) demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God, but instead is only a book written by “evil” men, and (2) disprove the God of Christianity. The arsenal it attempts to use to prove its assertions is one common to many other atheist web sites and publications. Supposed Bible contradictions are put on display, atrocities and immoral practices that are recorded within the pages of the Bible are referenced, and various philosophical and moral arguments are used to assert that the God of the Bible is an impossibility or at best not a God to be worshipped.

While a number of these specific arguments will be addressed in the sections that follow, certain topics on the evilbible.com web site that have already been thoroughly tackled on Gotquestions.org (e.g., slavery) will not be covered, but anyone wishing more information on those subjects is encouraged to review the material that already exists and which sufficiently answers evilbible.com’s charges in those areas. Instead, the focus of this article will be the three broad problems that cause nearly all (or perhaps all) of evilbible.com’s arguments to fail:

• A misunderstanding of God’s Word
• A misunderstanding of God’s character
• A misunderstanding of God’s creation

Let’s now review each of these issues and cite specific examples from evilbible.com’s web site that illustrate how and why their assertions against the Bible and God are false.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Word

The first problem area for evilbible.com is a misunderstanding of God’s Word. In its efforts to attack the Bible, the evilbible.com web site makes two key assertions: 1) the Bible is full of horrible atrocities, and 2) the Bible is full of contradictions. As to the first point, evilbible.com is absolutely correct—the Bible is indeed full of atrocities and immoral behavior. From start to finish, the Bible records many terrible things, with the worst being the premeditated murder of the innocent and perfect Son of God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area falls flat is that they fail to understand that the Bible does not approve of everything it records. This is absolutely crucial to understand. For example, in Judges chapters 19 and 20, the Bible records the brutal rape and murder of a young woman who was a Levite’s concubine. Moreover, the actions of the Levite are less than honorable, and the crime results in a vicious civil war within the nation of Israel. But a careful reading of the text will show no approval of the actions that took place, and no commendation from God for the Levite’s behavior. So evilbible.com’s argument that atrocities being recorded in Scripture prove that it isn’t God’s Word simply does not hold up.

Another argument in this same vein on the evilbible.com web site focuses on the command of God for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Obviously, they claim, since God initiated this request, and human sacrifice is abhorrent, surely this proves the Bible is not anything produced by a loving and good God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area fails is that the web site’s writers don’t understand that God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him; the story is a powerful narrative typology of God Himself sacrificing His own Son Jesus for the sins of mankind. And whereas Abraham was stopped by God from going through with his act, God Himself did not stay His own hand when it came to His Son, and the end result was salvation for all who would believe in Him.

With regard to point number two above, evilbible.com lists a number of supposed contradictions in the Bible they use to assert that the Bible is not inerrant but is instead a fallibly written book. When it comes to assertions of biblical contradictions, it should be noted that a number of good books on this subject address nearly every one (if not all) of evilbible.com’s claims. Second, it should not come as a surprise that non-Christians trip over the issues that evilbible.com brings to the table. The Bible is a spiritual book, and while it exhibits what is called perspicuity (clarity of expression) in regard to its core teachings, there are spiritual significance and lessons for much of what the Bible speaks about, and only those who have been quickened by God’s Spirit will arrive at their true meanings (1 Corinthians 2:14). For example, Leviticus 19:19 says, “Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” Critics look at this obscure Old Testament passage, laugh, and reach the conclusion that God doesn’t want people to wear wool and polyester blends. However, in this case God was using physical things to act as reminders of spiritual principles. He was telling Israel not to mix their pure religion with the pagan religions that literally surrounded them; they were not to be syncretistic, but instead they were to be devoted to the one true God and not assimilate other pagan teachings.

Spiritual lessons such as the above are found in a number of errors that evilbible.com makes. For example they argue for the following set of contradictions:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven… earth… [or] water.Leviticus 26:11

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them.Exodus 25:18

First, it should be noted that evilbible.com does not reference the proper book/chapter/verse in the first quote – it is actually Exodus 20:4. That error aside, their argument fails because they quote the verse out of context; if one continues reading the next verse, the true reason for the prohibition is given: “You shall not worship them or serve them.” The command of God to not make images concerned objects of worship, not objects used for decorative or educational purposes as Exodus 25:18 records.

Another example of a supposed contradiction argued by evilbible.com in the New Testament is the following:

For by grace are ye saved through faith… not of works.Ephesians 2:8-9

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.James 2:24

Again, evilbible.com should not really be faulted for not understanding these two verses clearly; they are spiritual two sides to one coin. The Bible makes it clear that Christians are saved by faith alone. But the Bible also makes it clear that faith in the life of a true Christian is always evidenced by good works. Good works are not the means of salvation; they are the evidence and the proof of salvation. So to put them together in one sentence: Christians are saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the faith that saves is not alone (James 2:24). True faith will always manifest good works; faith which does not evidence good works is a dead faith which cannot save (James 2:26). This principle is viewed elsewhere in Scripture, for example by Jesus, who referenced the fact that good trees bear good fruit, but bad trees yield bad fruit (Matthew 7:17).

To summarize, we can see that evilbible.com’s claims of atrocities and contradictions in God’s Word simply do not hold water. There have always been critics who claim the Bible is wrong. For example, many used to maintain that the reigns and times of the Israelite kings were recorded in error (e.g., Joram-Jehoram), but then came Dr. Edwin Thiele’s book The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, which proved that they are indeed correct. In the end, the Bible always survives the challenges leveled against it.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Character

The second problem is that evilbible.com suffers from a misunderstanding of God’s character. The web site routinely speaks of God as a tyrant and an unabashed killer. Evilbible.com takes the position of Socrates who once said that it is better to suffer injustice than to do it, better to be the victim than the perpetrator. Apparently the site’s writers would be more comfortable with God if He were a victim rather than a sovereign. In making such assertions, evilbible.com also follows the lead of atheist Robert Wilson who wrote, “The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.” In addition, evilbible.com charges that God is the creator of evil and wickedness, and therefore asserts that God cannot be the holy and righteous deity described in the Bible. In theology, this is the problem of theodicy, which is the branch of theology that vindicates God’s divine attributes (particularly holiness and justice) in the face of the existence of physical and moral evil.

With respect to the first assertion—that God is a tyrannical murderer of the innocent—evilbible.com displays a gross misunderstanding of history, which compounds their misunderstanding of God’s character. Referencing Old Testament accounts of God imposing judgment on various cultures and peoples, evilbible.com says:

“The people slaughtered in the Old Testament were almost uniformly blameless (with a few exceptions, of course for instance, the Sodomites violated the conventions of hospitality.)”

It is interesting to note that this absurd statement—that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, a position straight out the homosexual activists’ handbook—is completely illogical. The statement asserts that God was justified in “slaughtering” the people of Sodom because they were inhospitable. Yet they go on to claim He was not justified in punishing cultures who practiced true wickedness. And when, incidentally, has anyone who displayed a lack of hospitality ever been referred to as a Sodomite? The sin of Sodom was gross immorality and violent homosexuality, as Genesis 19 accurately records.

The claim that those God punished were “uniformly blameless” is completely without merit and historically inaccurate. The Bible records the exact opposite about the peoples whom God acted upon in judgment. A few examples include:

“After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 9:4-5, emphasis added).

“Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 18:12-13, emphasis added).

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-25, emphasis added).

Evilbible.com overlooks the historical evidences that these nations and cultures practiced the very things that evilbible.com decries as morally reprehensible. As just one example, the Assyrians who inhabited Nineveh during the time of Jonah were an incredibly barbaric and cruel people. When archaeologists uncovered Nineveh, the TV specials produced from their work had to be filtered because the evidence of brutality was so great. The discoveries unearthed facts such as how the Assyrians used to slowly impale their victims by sliding them down sharp poles, and that they also made handbags from their victim’s skins. In a stone pillar found at Nineveh, one Assyrian ruler boasted of “nobles I flayed” and “three thousand captives I burned with fire. I left not one hostage alive. I cut off the hands and feet of some. I cut off the noses, ears and fingers of others. The eyes of numerous soldiers I put out. Maidens I burned as a holocaust.” Such things certainly speak against evilbible.com’s claims that the people who fell under God’s judgment were innocent. Other examples include the inhabitants of Jericho who history has shown practiced child sacrifice, cultic prostitution, and much more.

Evilbible.com also overlooks the patience of God in dealing with such people. God always waited for the nations who ultimately experienced judgment to turn from their despicable ways and always warned them of the judgment that was coming. The book of Jonah describes God’s patience with the Ninevites, who finally did turn from their evil ways and avoided destruction. Other peoples and cultures could have repented of their sins, but they chose not to. As an example, the people of Amalek (described in 1 Samuel) routinely attempted to commit genocide against Israel, but were given 400 years by God to repent. But Amalek continued to commit their atrocities against Israel and so God judged them via Saul and the Israeli army.

Evilbible.com does not stop to consider that if one were to catapult the practices, genocide, and barbarism of these cultures/peoples into the 21st century and broadcast it around the world via CNN, there would most certainly be a global outcry for severe military action and punishment. And if modern, “enlightened” man would call for such severe judgment against such atrocities, why should evilbible.com criticize God for carrying out the same thing?

Lastly, in regard to evilbible.com’s claim that God is creator of evil, they present the following rationale and verse from the King James Version to support their position:

“God Is The Creator Of Evil: Secondly, I want to reinforce the fact that God is indeed the creator of evil. Please read verse Isaiah 45:7. ‘I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I the lord do all these things.” The Christian God outright claims that he is indeed the source of evil. So how can he then claim to be sinless?”

In evilbible.com’s defense, the verse from Isaiah 45:7 has been misunderstood by many people, primarily because of a poor translation in the King James Bible (and ASV). Parts of the book of Isaiah are of the poetry genre, and there is a literary technique used at times in Hebrew poetry called antithetical parallelism which sets two thoughts in complete contrast to one another, which is exactly what is happening in Isaiah 45:7. For example, if you were asked what the opposition of “light” is, you would likely respond “darkness,” which is what Isaiah 45:7 says. But if you were asked what the opposite of “peace” is, would you respond “evil”? No, you likely wouldn’t. This is why nearly all other translations of this verse (including the New King James Version) translate the word “calamity” or something similar, as that is what the antithetical structure of the verse mandates. God does not bring moral evil upon anyone, but He does bring about calamity and disaster upon those who oppose Him, but such a thing does not make Him evil; it makes Him a just and righteous God.

So, in the end, the above examples (and others present on the web site) show how a misunderstanding of history and wrong biblical interpretation lead to the wrong conclusion about God’s character.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Creation

The last broad issue found on the evilbible.com web site is a misunderstanding of God’s creation, which manifests itself most in the problem of evilbible.com borrowing from the Christian moral worldview to carry out its arguments against God and the Bible instead of using its own atheistic foundation. In essence, evilbible.com invokes a Christian framework to deny the Christian God, a technique that is irrational and disingenuous, to say the least. For example, evilbible.com declares:

“It violates my morality to worship a hypocritical, judgmental, self righteous murderer.”

Here’s the problem with making such a statement: without God, evilbible.com has no real foundation for the morality it claims, no moral framework from which to attack God. Why is this the case? Because before a person can call something bad (as evilbible.com does God and the Bible), a person must know what good is. But before a person can call something good, he must have a moral framework to distinguish between good and bad. But before someone can have a moral framework to distinguish good and bad, he must have absolute moral laws to build that framework. But before a person can have absolute moral laws, he must have an absolute moral Lawgiver (laws don’t give themselves). Now the atheists have backed themselves into a corner, because the only absolute moral Lawgiver you can have is God. This is why intellectually honest atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, rightly understand that an atheist can’t ever call anything bad or good —the atheist foundation doesn’t support such a stance. In his book, River out of Eden, he writes, “Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA . . . life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (emphasis added).

Since, being atheists, the writers of evilbible.com cannot be intellectually honest and use the term “evil,” they should rename their web site to something that is not prefaced with the word “evil.” All evilbible.com can assert is what atheist evolutionist William Provine calls “approximate morals,” but they can never have ethics that are globally, eternally, and universally binding upon everyone, and thus cannot call anything evil.

Another misunderstanding of God’s creation is exhibited in evilbible.com’s claim that God Himself is impossible. Evilbible.com puts forth a variety of common arguments against God, but the overall theme is that creation as we know it refutes the existence of the God described in the Bible. Here again the argument of the existence of evil is used to reject God. Evilbible.com wrongly rejects the argument of free will being the catalyst of evil (which it is/was) and mistakenly rejects the fact that, yes, there is evil in this world, but perhaps God has a good reason for permitting it. Jesus dying on the cross appeared on the surface to be the epitome of gratuitous evil, but out of that event, mankind was redeemed from the misery it finds itself in. God’s gift of freedom, and the misuse of that freedom, clearly explains the moral evil we experience. As Augustine said, “Such is the generosity of God’s goodness that He has not refrained from creating even that creature which He foreknew would not only sin, but remain in the will to sin. As a runaway horse is better than a stone which does not run away because it lacks self-movement and sense perception, so the creature is more excellent which sins by free will than that which does not sin only because it has no free will.”

Moreover, evilbible.com posits God is impossible because of supposed contradictions in His nature that do not match the world, yet they are perfectly happy to accept that an impersonal, amoral, meaningless, purposeless universe accidentally created personal beings who are obsessed with morality, meaning, and purpose in life. If, as they argue, a cause must resemble its effect, then what explanation do they give for this contradiction? Mindless matter has no way of producing mind or anything similar.

The fact is, the Being who is the cause of everything in the universe perfectly mirrors the God described in the Bible. This is evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:

• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
• He must be powerful (incredibly).
• He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
• He must be omnipresent (he created space and is not limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
• He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only a cognitive being can produce cognitive beings.
• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).
The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile.

Is God evil? – Conclusion

A misunderstanding of God’s Word, His character, and His creation all result in the argumentation errors found on evilbible.com. A fitting summation of their stance is this statement made on their web site:

“I don’t think I could ever complete a whole list as to what I find objectionable regarding the bible.”

For certain, there are apparent difficulties that arise when one begins studying the Bible. But a person should not assume God doesn’t exist and/or the Bible is in error just because he encounters a problem in the Bible that he can’t immediately understand or explain. The scientist doesn’t throw out science just because he/she sees something in the physical world he can’t immediately explain. Neither should we do the same with theology or the study of Scripture. Misunderstandings like those committed by evilbible.com are the result of not thoroughly investigating matters or dismissing a belief based on a presupposition that is buried deep in a person’s heart or lifestyle (or both). And the danger in both cases is something Pascal warned about many years ago: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” What self-described atheists find attractive about denying God is that they think if they deny Him, they will never have to deal with Him in any way. Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong.


Godisimaginary.com is not the first to claim that God is imaginary. In an article entitled “Theology and Falsification” written many years ago, Anthony Flew, one of the twentieth century’s most outspoken atheists wrote,

Two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, “Some gardener must tend this plot.” The other disagrees, “There is no gardener.” So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. . . . Yet still the believer is not convinced. “But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, who comes secretly to look after the garden he loves.” At last the Skeptic despairs. “But what remains of the original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”

Following Flew’s thoughts from decades ago, the web site godisimaginary.com provides what it believes are 50 “proofs” that God does not exist – that He is nothing more than an imaginary gardener, a superstition, a myth. The site claims, “Let’s agree that there is no empirical evidence showing that God exists. If you think about it as a rational person, this lack of evidence is startling. There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s ‘God,’ nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists.”

Actually, when a person thinks as a rational person and tosses away any preconceived bias and baggage that’s held, one must disagree with the site’s assertions and instead reach the conclusion that God does indeed exist.

Addressing each of the 50 points is unnecessary as it doesn’t matter if the site had 50,000 “proof” points against God; all one needs to do is use a logical, rational, and reasonable argument to show that God does indeed exist and every point becomes irrelevant. It is telling and interesting that godisimaginary.com focuses so much of its time on red herrings of issues with prayer and why God won’t do tricks upon request, and ignores the primary question of philosophy and religion: “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?” In other words, like Flew, the site concentrates on issues with a gardener they believe to be imaginary and ignores the question of why a garden exists in the first place.

The only place on the site where a possible answer to this question is offered is “proof” point 47. Complexity, says the site, could only arise from either Nature itself or a Creator. “Proof” point 47 then states, “The advantage of the first option is that it is self-contained. The complexity arose spontaneously. No other explanation is required.”

This assertion and conclusion is flawed as they have proposed two explanations and then bundle a third option into the solution they like – spontaneous generation with an eternal universe. An eternal universe is, initially, a logical option but not spontaneous generation, which is a scientific term for something coming from nothing or self-creation, which is an analytically false statement – that is, a statement that shows itself to be false by definition. A fundamental law of science is ex nihilo nihil fit – out of nothing, nothing comes. And as Aristotle said, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” The web site derides Christians for believing in magic, yet it embraces greater magic than anything found in the Bible – life just appearing out of nothing from non-life with no cause.

Next, their argument ignores the basic laws of causality – an effect must resemble its cause. How can an impersonal, meaningless, purposeless, amoral universe accidentally create beings who are full of personality and obsessed with meaning, purpose, and morality? It can’t. Further, intelligence doesn’t arise from non-intelligence, which is why even Richard Dawkins (noted atheist) and Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) admit that intelligence had to engineer DNA and life on earth – they just say it was a superior alien race who seeded the earth, which of course, begs the question of who engineered that superior alien race. Godisimaginary.com claims, “No intelligence is required to encode DNA,” but refuting this statement is the very co-discoverer of DNA himself – Francis Crick – who admits there is no way for DNA to have arisen apart from intelligence.

But what of evolution? Doesn’t evolution explain life and intelligence? Not at all. Evolution is a biological process that attempts to describe change in already existing life forms – it has no way to answer the question of existence. This one piece of evidence alone began to turn Anthony Flew away from atheism.

These facts being evident, it then becomes quite easy to offer a simple, reasonable, logical proof for God in the following way:

1. Something exists
2. You don’t get something from nothing
3. Therefore, something necessary and eternal exists
4. The only two options are an eternal universe or an eternal Creator
5. Science has disproved the concept of an eternal universe
6. Therefore, an eternal Creator exists

The only premise that can be attacked is premise five, but the fact is every drop of evidence in the possession of science points to the fact that the universe is not eternal and had a beginning. And everything that has a beginning has a cause; therefore, the universe had a cause and is not eternal. Any fanciful assertions of collapsing universes, imaginary time, and the like are just that – fanciful – and require more faith than to believe in God. The two choices are simple – matter before mind or mind before matter – and it is interesting that this web site claims it is their intelligence that causes them to choose the former over the latter.

“But who created God?” the site asks. Why not ask, “Where is the bachelor’s wife?” or “What does the color blue taste like?” It’s a category mistake – you don’t make the unmade. Further, why sit back comfortably and believe in an unmade universe and yet angrily bristle at the notion of an unmade Creator? Could it be because mindless matter cannot call human beings into moral account whereas a personal God can? Finally, is it more reasonable to embrace a cause that contains none of the characteristics of its effect (personality, love, meaning, purpose, etc.) or a cause that embodies them all (a personal God)? The site claims, “In other words, by applying logic, we can prove that God is imaginary,” but in reality, logic, reason, and evidence disprove their position and point in the absolute other direction.

The conclusion is that a personal Creator exists. Moreover, this Being who created everything mirrors the God described in the Bible quite well as evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:

• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
• He must be powerful (incredibly).
• He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
• He must be omnipresent (He created space and is not limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
• He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being.
• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).

The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile. At this point, all 50 “proofs” on the web site become irrelevant – God exists; therefore, all points offered on the site are incorrect in the final conclusion that they collectively try to reach. Wondering why God won’t cure all the cancer in the world because a group of Christians prayed for it, pointing out the divorce rate among Christians, scoffing because God doesn’t create money for churches out of thin air, wondering why Jesus never moved a physical mountain, asserting a false dichotomy that says a person must be a person of facts or of faith (many brilliant scientists believe in God), making unprovable claims that Jesus never did a concrete miracle, and erroneously stating that the Bible “advocates” senseless murder, slavery, and oppression of women – all end up being impotent in light of the conclusion that a creator God exists.

Answering such objections – if they are genuine and not extended in a way that refuses to believe even if reasoned responses are given – requires only the disciplined study of Scripture alongside the Spirit of God who inspired it. Arguments with those who possess a hardened skeptical spirit are to be avoided as 1 Timothy 6:20 says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’” But even still, God is fully capable of using His powerful general revelation (the creation) to witness to those who appear completely lost due to a skeptical and hardened heart.

In stark contrast to the article he’d written many years earlier, in 2007, Anthony Flew wrote a much different kind of book entitled There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In it, he recounts his atheism and relays how he now, because of evidence and reason, believes that a creator God exists. The one who initially posited an “imaginary gardener” now says, “I think the origins of the laws of nature and of life and the Universe point clearly to an intelligent Source. The burden of proof is on those who argue to the contrary.” This being the case, one thing is certain – the 50 frail attempts on godisimaginary.com to prove that God is imaginary fall far short of even causing a nick on the armor of evidence that opposes them.

Among the ranks of evolutionary scientists are those who teach the idea of “evolutionary psychology,” an attempt to explain all of life through the Darwinian principle of “survival of the fittest.” One of the more interesting metaphors to come out of this endeavor is an analogy comparing the transfer of information and the spread of ideas to genetic code. Unlike the “nature” of the inherited gene, the “meme*,” or idea, is acquired by nurture—by exposure to the thoughts and beliefs of others. The transfer of ideas has little to do with truth or reality or benefit, but with how well the ideas survive in the given environment. Which ideas “stick” depends on how easily understandable and accepted they are by the receiver. Memes also cluster, manifesting as such things as a worldview, a political leaning, a religion, or devotion to a particular sport.

The “virus of the mind” is an off-shoot of the meme concept used by evolutionary psychologists to represent particularly dangerous ideas. Unlike a meme (or a gene), a virus is not an inherent part of the original organism. It is a foreign object which invades, uses the organism’s innate features to replicate, and spreads, causing harm wherever it goes. It then infects others while continuing to inflict considerable damage, or even death, on its host. In the minds of the most adamant, oppositional atheists, belief in God and participation in any religion is such a virus. People who believe in God are “infected” and coerced by the virus to spread the infection to others. Because of the malleability of a developing brain, children are the most susceptible to being influenced by memes; that is, they are likely to believe what their parents tell them. Which, considering the atheistic rejection of God, is considered to be child abuse. The virus also alters the believers’ minds so they are unable to think clearly about life. Atheists, who claim to have no preconceived ideas about the nature of the universe and rely solely on science, are seen as the only hope for humanity.

The argument is interesting and creative, but academic. And very emotional. The language is threatening and frightening—characteristics of the “fittest” memes [see: any political debate]. The idea of the meme itself, developed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, is a metaphor, a useful illustration, but not a reflection of truth. Expanding the idea and claiming religion and belief in God are “viruses,” an assertion developed by Dawkins in his essay “Viruses of the Mind” and expounded upon in Darrel W. Ray’s The God Virus, are merely emotional manipulation.

Why the vitriol? Ironically, for similar reasons adamant atheists give for the propagation of religion. Claiming believers are infected with a metaphysical virus provides comfort for those who don’t believe in God, especially those who have been hurt by religion. It “explains” that believers are ill, that their normal thinking skills have been taken over by a malevolent force. And it provides a unifying political cause—if religion is designed to spread easily, it must be kept out of schools, science, and, as far as possible, all human interactions.

Religious adherents will readily concede some of the “proofs” atheists give of the invalidity of religion. Belief in one faith system does tend to discourage belief in others. That is not proof that religion is invalid, however. It is a sign that believers believe their particular faith. Faith systems do tend to make training their children a priority (Proverbs 22:6), not because a virus incites them to, but because parents are designed to share their particular worldview with their kids. And faith systems do emphasize certain habits designed to encourage belief in an individual. It could be continual exposure to the teachings of that faith (Psalm 1:2), consistently meeting together (Hebrews 10:25)or eating together (Acts 2:46). But these are deliberately chosen practices, not unwitting influences of an invasive pathogen. Finally, most religions do encourage evangelism (Matthew 28:19–20). In its most sincere form, evangelism is driven by the adherents’ belief that their faith is true and should be shared. Some motivations are more malicious; some religious leaders want more people to manipulate, abuse, and take advantage of. But, whatever the reason, evangelism is not because an anthropomorphized cluster of ideas is fighting for propagation.

Those are a few of the minor discussions, and they don’t really resolve anything. Adamant atheists have other standard arguments they use to attempt to illustrate the idea of the God virus. One is that religion was developed by fearful, ignorant people who merely wanted comfort in a dangerous world. The Bible says that God is a comfort in a dangerous world (Psalm 23; 119:76; Isaiah 51:12; 61:1–2; Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Many evolutionary scientists believe God doesn’t exist because their model of the creation of the universe proves He doesn’t have to exist. But even if their models were complete and accurate, proof of un-necessity isn’t proof of non-existence—or there would be no Starbucks. The Bible provides its own scientific model: God created the world (Genesis 1). And, despite their existence, He didn’t need scientists to do it.

One of the most common arguments that belief in God is a mind virus is also one of the most emotionally charged: religion encourages people to do bad things, and atheistic humanism encourages people to do good things. The ongoing conversation between believers and atheists covers such ground as the Crusades vs. Stalin, medicine vs. orphanages, Jihad vs. the A-bomb. But, as “proof,” atheists tend to point out the most malicious, least godly examples of religion-affiliated incidents. And God is perfectly clear about how He views abusive religious leaders (Ezekiel 34), opportunistic religious practices (2 Peter 2:2–3), and even those undiscerning enough to follow (2 Timothy 4:3).

But this argument should catch the believers’ attention for one simple reason: sometimes it’s true. Religious leaders are occasionally caught in sex scandals—and others often look the other way. Unbiblical views of God and the church have been used as justification for war. And sometimes, out of fatigue, frustration, or misunderstanding of God’s grace, believers are unkind or even abusive. The Bible teaches that, if we are persecuted for no reason, then we follow the example of Christ (John 15:18). But, if we live in a manner that misrepresents the gospel, we get what we deserve (1 Peter 2:19–20).

Calling belief in God a “virus” is a pseudo-scientific metaphor, powered by hate of God and deep-seated wounds born of the misunderstanding of the gospel—of both perpetrators and victims. Religion as a virus is not science; it is emotional rhetoric. For believers, the Bible explains what our response should be: know what we believe and why (1 Peter 3:15), be kind (1 Corinthians 13), examine our own behavior (2 Corinthians 13:5; James 1:22–25), and remember that the “enemy” is not the angry, hurt, or rebellious people who spend their lives rejecting God (Ephesians 6:12). The battle is spiritual, and our greatest weapon is the prayer that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of those who are hardened against Him (1 John 4:4).

*Note: Meme is being used as the biological term indicating non-genetic trait-sharing, not the various internet phenomenon that borrowed the term.

  Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Some take these verses to mean that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the only meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal, which often refers to an impious person who has no perception of ethical or religious truth. The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “sinful people do not believe in God.” In other words, it is a wicked thing to deny God, and a denial of God is often accompanied by a wicked lifestyle. The verse goes on to list some other characteristics of the irreligious: “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; / there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14 is a study on the universal depravity of mankind.

Many atheists are very intelligent. It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.”

Psalm 14:1 says that denying God’s existence is commonly based on a desire to lead a wicked life. Several prominent atheists have admitted the truth of this. One famous atheist, when asked what he hopes to accomplish through atheism, declared that he wants “to drink as much alcohol and have sex with as many women as possible.” Belief in a divine Being is accompanied by a sense of accountability to that Being. So, to escape the condemnation of conscience, which itself was created by God, some simply deny the existence of God. They tell themselves, “There is no overseer of the world. There is no Judgment Day. I can live as I please.” The moral pull of the conscience is thus more easily ignored.

Trying to convince oneself there is no God is unwise. The point of “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” is that it is an impious, sinful heart that will deny God. The atheist’s denial flies in the face of much evidence to the contrary, including his own conscience and the universe he lives in.

A lack of evidence of God’s existence is not the true reason atheists reject a belief in God. Their rejection is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them . . . so that people are without excuse. . . . Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. . . . Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts. . . . They exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:18–25).

There are three premises in the argument:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

Now what follows logically from these three premises?

From 1 and 3 it logically follows that:

4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.

And from 2 and 4 the conclusion logically follows:

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Now this is a logically airtight argument. So if the atheist wants to deny the conclusion, he has to say that one of the three premises is false.

But which one will he reject? Premise 3 is undeniable for any sincere seeker after truth. So the atheist is going to have to deny either 1 or 2 if he wants to remain an atheist and be rational. So the whole question comes down to this: are premises 1 and 2 true, or are they false? Well, let’s look at them.

According to premise 1 there are two kinds of things: (a) things which exist necessarily and (b) things which exist contingently. Things which exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist by the necessity of their own nature. By contrast, contingent things are caused to exist by something else. They exist because something else has produced them. Familiar physical objects like people, planets, and galaxies belong in this category.

So what reason might be offered for thinking that premise 1 is true? Well, when you reflect on it, premise 1 has a sort of self-evidence about it. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods one day and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “It just exists inexplicably. Don’t worry about it!”, you’d either think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or a planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation.

Premise 1 is the premise that the atheist typically rejects. Sometimes atheists will respond to premise 1 by saying that it is true of everything in the universe but not of the universe itself. But this response commits what has been aptly called “the taxicab fallacy.” For as the nineteenth century atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer quipped, premise 1 can’t be dismissed like a hack once you’ve arrived at your desired destination!

It would be arbitrary for the atheist to claim that the universe is the exception to the rule. The illustration of the ball in the woods showed that merely increasing the size of the object to be explained, even until it becomes the universe itself, does nothing to remove the need for some explanation of its existence.

Notice, too, how unscientific this atheist response is. For modern cosmology is devoted to the search for an explanation of the universe’s existence. The atheist attitude would cripple science.

Some atheists have tried to justify making the universe an exception to premise 1 by saying that it’s impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence. For the explanation of the universe would have to be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not yet exist. But that would be nothingness, and nothingness cannot be the explanation of anything. So the universe must just exist inexplicably.

This line of reasoning is obviously fallacious. For it assumes that the universe is all there is, so that if there were no universe there would be nothing. In other words, the objection assumes that atheism is true! The atheist is thus begging the question, arguing in a circle. I agree that the explanation of the universe must be a prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. But I contend that that state of affairs is God and His will, not nothingness.

So it seems to me that premise 1 is more plausibly true than false, which is all we need for a good argument.

What, then, about premise 2? Is it more plausibly true than false?

What’s really awkward for the atheist at this point is that premise 2 is logically equivalent to the typical atheist response to the contingency argument. Two statements are logically equivalent if it is impossible for one to be true and the other one false. They stand or fall together. So what does the atheist almost always say in response to the argument from contingency? The atheist typically asserts the following:

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence.

This is precisely what the atheist says in response to premise 1. The universe just exists inexplicably. But this is logically equivalent to saying:

B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

So you can’t affirm (A) and deny (B).

But (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2! So by saying in response to premise 1 that, given atheism, the universe has no explanation, the atheist is implicitly admitting premise 2, that if the universe does have an explanation, then God exists.

Besides that, premise 2 is very plausible in its own right. For think of what the universe is: all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy. It follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time. Now there are only two sorts of thing that could fit that description: either an abstract object like a number or else an unembodied mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number 7, for example, can’t cause any effects. So the cause of the existence of the universe must be a transcendent Mind, which is what believers understand God to be.

The argument thus proves the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. This is truly mind-blowing!

The atheist has one alternative open to him at this point. He can retrace his steps, withdraw his objection to premise 1, and say instead that, yes, the universe does have an explanation of its existence. But that explanation is: the universe exists by a necessity of its own nature. For the atheist, the universe could serve as a sort of God-substitute which exists necessarily.

Now this would be a very radical step for the atheist to take, and I can’t think of any contemporary atheist who has in fact adopted this line. A few years ago at a Philosophy of Time conference at City College in Santa Barbara, it seemed to me that Professor Adolf Grünbaum, a vociferous atheistic philosopher of science from the University of Pittsburgh, was flirting with this idea. But when I raised the question from the floor whether he thought the universe existed necessarily, he was quite indignant at the suggestion. “Of course not!” he snapped and went on to say that the universe just exists without any explanation.

The reason atheists are not eager to embrace this alternative is clear. As we look about the universe, none of the things that make it up, whether stars, planets, galaxies, dust, radiation, or what have you, seems to exist necessarily. They could all fail to exist; indeed, at some point in the past, when the universe was very dense, none of them did exist.

But, you might say, what about the matter out of which these things are made? Maybe the matter exists necessarily, and all these things are just different contingent configurations of matter. The problem with this suggestion is that, according to the standard model of subatomic physics, matter itself is composed of tiny particles called “quarks.” The universe is just the collection of all these quarks arranged in different ways. But now the question arises: couldn’t a different collection of quarks have existed instead of this one? Does each and every one of these quarks exist necessarily?

Notice what the atheist cannot say at this point. He cannot say that the quarks are just configurations of matter which could have been different, even though the matter of which the quarks are composed exists necessarily. He can’t say this because quarks aren’t composed of anything! They just are the basic units of matter. So if a quark doesn’t exist, the matter doesn’t exist.

Now it seems obvious that a different collection of quarks could have existed instead of the collection that does exist. But if that were the case, then a different universe would have existed. To see the point, think about your desk. Could your desk have been made of ice? Notice that I’m not asking if you could have had an ice desk in the place of your wooden desk that had the same size and structure. Rather I’m asking if your very desk, the one made of wood, if that desk could have been made of ice. The answer is obviously, no. The ice desk would be a different desk, not the same desk.

Similarly, a universe made up of different quarks, even if identically arranged as in this universe, would be a different universe. It follows, then, that the universe does not exist by a necessity of its own nature.

So atheists have not been so bold as to deny premise 2 and say that the universe exists necessarily. Premise 2 also seems to be plausibly true.

But given the truth of the three premises the conclusion is logically inescapable: God is the explanation of the existence of the universe. Moreover, the argument implies that God is an uncaused, unembodied Mind who transcends the physical universe and even space and time themselves and who exists necessarily. What a great argument!

EmpiricalPierce left a  comment on a post of mine entitled: “How is belief in God any different from Flying Spaghetti Monsterism?

His argument raised is simply this: “You cite deistic arguments like the cosmological argument as examples of Christianity being rationally defensible, when there is a massive difference between the deistic claim “This universe was created by a god” and the Christian claim “This universe was created by a god named Yahweh, who had a son named Jesus,” ( in relevant part ).

For those unaware The cosmological argument is the argument that the existence of the world or universe is strong evidence for the existence of a God who created it. The existence of the universe, the argument claims, stands in need of explanation, and the only adequeate explanation of its existence is that it was created by God.

Like most arguments for the existence of God, the cosmological argument exists in several forms; two are discussed here: the temporal, kalam cosmological argument (i.e. the first cause argument), and the modal argument from contingency. The main distinguishing feature between these two arguments is the way in which they evade an initial objection to the argument, introduced with a question: “Does God have a cause of his existence?” [Robin Le Poidevin, Arguing for Atheism, Routledge 1996, Chapter 1]

Counter-Cosmological Argument:

Is God the Father Causally Prior to the Son?

 ‘One nice way of expressing God’s priority to creation is to say that God is causally but not temporally prior to the beginning of the universe’.

Also, J.P. Moreland in his book Scaling the Secular City has also stated (in p. 41) ‘Prior to the first event–where prior means “ontologically prior,” not “temporally prior”–there was no time, space, or change of any kind.’

1) What is the difference between saying God is causally prior, ontologically prior, or temporally prior to the universe? Can you define each of these, i.e., causally prior, ontologically prior, or temporally prior? Also, are causally prior and ontologically prior synonymous?

2) Is saying ‘God is causally prior to the universe’ the same as saying ‘God is the cause of the universe’? Or is it possible for God to be the cause of the universe yet not be causally prior to the universe? If so, how?

3) How would you interpret Jude 1:25 “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” i.e. “before all time”? Is it possible to say “before all time” without implying a time “before all time”? If so, how?

4) Also, how would you interpret the Nicene Creed “…begotten of the Father before all ages…”?

5) At least some early church fathers seemed to believe that in the Trinity, the Father is the source/cause of the Son. For example, John of Damascus in An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 8, ‘Concerning the Holy Trinity,’ states,

“And we mean by this, that the Son is begotten of the Father and not the Father of the Son, and that the Father naturally is the cause of the Son: just as we say in the same way not that fire proceedeth from light, but rather light from fire. So then, whenever we hear it said that the Father is the origin of the Son and greater than the Son, let us understand it to mean in respect of causation. And just as we do not say that fire is of one essence and light of another, so we cannot say that the Father is of one essence and the Son of another: but both are of one and the same essence.”

Also, Augustine, in ‘A Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed’, states,

“Imagine to yourselves fire as father, its shining as son; see, we have found the coevals. From the instant that the fire begins to be, that instant it begets the shining: neither fire before shining, nor shining after fire. And if we ask, which begets which? the fire the shining, or the shining the fire? Immediately ye conceive by natural sense, by the innate wit of your minds ye all cry out, The fire the shining, not the shining the fire. Lo, here you have a father beginning; lo, a son at the same time, neither going before nor coming after. Lo, here then is a father beginning, lo, a son at the same time beginning. If I have shown you a father beginning, and a son at the same time beginning, believe the Father not beginning, and with Him the Son not beginning either; the one eternal, the other coeternal.”

So would you describe John of Damascus’ and Augustine’s view of the Trinity, where the Father is the source/cause of the Son, as:

a) the Father is causally prior to the Son? Why/why not?     b) the Father is ontologically prior to the Son? Why/why not?     c) how would you describe John of Damascus’ and Augustine’s view of the Trinity, where the Father is the source/cause of the Son?

What an interesting question! I’ll address these queries in order.

1. Causal priority has to do with what’s called causal directionality. That is to say, if A and B are causally related as cause and effect, is A the cause of B, or is B the cause of A? Temporal priority has to do with whether A is earlier than B. Notice that even if A and B exist or occur at the same time, so that there is no temporal priority of one to the other, the question of causal priority still makes sense. To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion from eternity past. Some philosophers who believe that the future is as real as the past or present think that there can be cases where causal priority can actually run in the opposite direction of temporal priority: first the effect occurs and then later comes the cause, so that although A is causally prior to B, B is temporally prior to A! As for ontological priority, that would indicate that some being’s existence presupposes the existence of another being. I think that in this context it basically comes to the same thing as causal priority. (In another context, one might say, for example, that a substance or thing is ontologically prior to the thing’s properties.)

2. To say that God is causally prior to the universe is to say that God is the cause of the universe.

3. I love Jude 25! It basically lays out the view of divine eternity that I defend, namely, that God exists timelessly without creation and forever in time ever since the beginning of time at creation. It uses an excusable façon de parler (manner of speaking) to describe the state of God’s existing without the universe as “before” time. The philosopher will understand this to be an ordinary language expression of the idea that time had a beginning, whereas God did not.

4. The notion of the Son’s being eternally begotten of the Father, which appears in the Nicene Creed, is a vestige of the primitive Logos Christology of the early Greek Apologists, men such as Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Athenagoras. I have discussed this development in my chapter on the Trinity in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (IVP: 2003), an expanded version of which you’ll find under “Scholarly Articles: Christian Doctrines.”

The Greek Apologists sought to explain the doctrine of the Trinity by holding that God the Father, existing alone without the world, had within Himself His Word or Reason (Greek: Logos) or Wisdom (cf. Prov. 8.22-31), which somehow proceeded forth from Him, like a spoken word from a speaker’s mind, to become a distinct individual who created the world and ultimately became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The procession of the Logos from the Father was variously conceived as taking place either at the moment of creation or, alternatively, eternally. The Holy Spirit, too, might be understood to proceed from God the Father’s mind. Here’s how Athenagoras describes it:

The Son of God is the Word of the Father in Ideal Form and energizing power; for in his likeness and through him all things came into existence, which presupposes that the Father and the Son are one. Now since the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son by a powerful unity of Spirit, the Son of God is the mind and reason of the Father… He is the first begotten of the Father. The term is used not because he came into existence (for God, who is eternal mind, had in himself his word or reason from the beginning, since he was eternally rational) but because he came forth to serve as Ideal Form and Energizing Power for everything material… The… Holy Spirit. . . we regard as an effluence of God which flows forth from him and returns like a ray of the sun (A Plea for the Christians 10).

According to this doctrine, then, there is one God, but He is not an undifferentiated unity. Rather certain aspects of His mind become expressed as distinct individuals.

The Logos doctrine of the Apologists involves a fundamental reinterpretation of the Fatherhood of God: God is not merely the Father of mankind or even, especially, of Jesus of Nazareth, rather He is the Father from whom the Logos is begotten before all worlds. Christ is not merely the only-begotten Son of God in virtue of his Incarnation; rather he is begotten of the Father even in his pre-incarnate divinity. This view becomes enshrined in the Nicene Creed as orthodoxy.

5. Protestants bring all doctrinal statements, even Conciliar creeds, before the bar of Scripture. In this case one has to say honestly that nothing in Scripture warrants us in thinking that God the Son is begotten of the Father in His divine, rather than in merely His human, nature. The vast majority of contemporary New Testament scholars recognize that even if the word traditionally translated “only-begotten” (monogenes) carries a connotation of derivation when used in familial contexts–as opposed to meaning merely “unique” or “one of a kind” as many scholars maintain–nevertheless the biblical references to Christ as monogenes (John 1.1, 14, 18; cf. Revelation 9.13) do not contemplatesome pre-creation or eternal procession of the divine Son from the Father, but have to do with the historical Jesus’ being God’s special Son (Matthew 1.21-23; Luke 1-35; John 1.14, 34; Galalatians 4.4; Hebrews 1.5-6). I John 5.18 does refer to Jesus as ho gennetheis ek tou theou (the one begotten of God), which is the crucial expression, but there is no suggestion that this begetting is eternal or has to do with his divine nature. Rather, Christ’s status of being the Only-Begotten has less to do with the Trinity than with the Incarnation. This primitive understanding of Christ’s being begotten is still evident in Ignatius’s description of Christ as “one Physician, of flesh and of spirit, begotten and unbegotten, . . . both of Mary and of God” (Ephesians 7). There is here no idea that Christ is begotten in his divine nature. Indeed, the transference by the Apologists of Christ’s Sonship from Jesus of Nazareth to the pre-incarnate Logos has helped to depreciate the importance of the historical Jesus for Christian faith.

Theologically, it seems to me, the doctrine of the generation of the Logos from the Father cannot, despite assurances to the contrary, but diminish the status of the Son because He becomes an effect contingent upon the Father. Even if this eternal procession takes place necessarily and apart from the Father’s will, the Son is less than the Father because the Father alone exists in Himself, whereas the Son exists through another. Such derivative being is the same way in which created things exist. Despite protestations to the contrary, Nicene orthodoxy does not seem to have completely exorcised the spirit of subordinationism introduced into Christology by the Greek Apologists.

For these reasons evangelical theologians have tended to treat the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father with benign neglect. If we do decide to drop from our doctrine of the Trinity the eternal generation and procession of the Son and Spirit from the Father, how should we construe the intra-Trinitarian relations? Here I find it useful to distinguish between the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity. The ontological Trinity is the Trinity as it exists of itself apart from God’s relation to the world. The economic Trinity has reference to the different roles played by the persons of the Trinity in relation to the world and especially in the plan of salvation. In this economic Trinity there is subordination (or, perhaps better, submission) of one person to another, as the incarnate Son does the Father’s will and the Spirit speaks, not on His own account, but on behalf of the Son. The economic Trinity does not reflect ontological differences between the persons but rather is an expression of God’s loving condescension for the sake of our salvation. The error of Logos Christology lay in conflating the economic Trinity with the ontological Trinity, introducing subordination into the nature of the Godhead itself.

Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument

by Jacob Greenleaf 
A brief summary
In order to show that the Universe did not begin to exist, I will prove by contradiction. In brief, the argument is as follows:
Let S1= a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist.
Let S2 = a state of affairs in which the Universe exists.
1.The Universe began to exist.
2. S1 and S2 must be distinct.
     .1.If S1 and S2 are not distinct, then either the Universe always existed or the Universe never existed.
     .2.The Universe exists, and began to exist. [By 1]
     .3.Therefore, S1 and S2 are distinct. [Modus Ponens]
3.The Universe cannot exist and not exist at the same state of affairs. [Law of Non-Contradiction]
4.Time cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2
     .1.If the Universe was temporally caused, then time would be ontologically prior to the Universe.
     .2.Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe.
     .3.Therefore, the Universe cannot be temporally caused. [Modus Ponens]
5.Atemporal causation cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2.
      .1. If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous.
      .2. S1 and S2 are not simultaneous.  [By 3]
      .3.Therefore, the Universe cannot be atemporally caused.
[ModusPonens]
6.There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguishbetween S1 and S2. 7.The Universe did not begin to exist [By2]
Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
Rationale for controversial premises
In order to make the argument concise and short, I have had to state some propositions without further supporting them. Here, I will do so in more detail.
Premise 4.2
In Premise 4.2, I stated Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe. Says William Lane Craig
[1], As for ontological priority, that would indicate that some being’s existence presupposes the existence of another being. I think that in this context it basically comes to the same thing as causal priority. (In another context, one might say, for example, that a substance or thing is ontologically prior to the thing’s properties.)
As defined by William Lane Craig, I am saying here that time is a property of the Universe –or that time’s existence presupposes the Universe. This viewpoint is emphasized by thefindings of modern science as well as Saint Augustine. As described by Stephen Hawkings in“A Brief History of Time”,
Before 1915, space and time were thought of as a fixed arena in which events took  place, but which was not affected by what happened in it. This was true even of thespecial theory of relativity. Bodies moved, forces attracted and repelled, but time and space simply continued, unaffected. It was natural to think that space and time went on forever. The situation, however, is quite different in the general theory of relativity. Space and time are now dynamic quantities: when a body moves, or aforce acts, it affects the curvature of space and time – and in turn the structure of space-time affects the way in which bodies move and forces act. Space and time not only affect but also are affected by everything that happens in the universe. Just asone cannot talk about events in the universe without the notions of space and time,so in general relativity it became meaningless to talk about space and time outsidethe limits of the universe.
Premise 5.1
In Premise 5.1, I stated
If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous. Here, I am building off of an explanation of “atemporal causation” by William Lane Craig [1],itself an explanation from Kant:
 Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion frometernity past.
Here, we can see that if the cause of the depression is the ball, then the cause and effect(cause being the ball, effect being depression) are simultaneous.
Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
Premise 6
In Premise 6, I stated
There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguish between S1 and S2. This is a tentative proposition in order to prove the conclusion. I have ruled out atemporalcausation, and temporal causation. The burden of proof to show a coherent framework of distinguishing between S1 and S 2 is on the proponent of the Cosmological Argument.
Objections
What Craig emphasizes is that God’s act of creating time-y is simultaneous with the instantiation of time-y. From my perspective, this doesn’t involve any contradiction or equivocation. We simply have a timeless cause that brings about a temporal effect.
 This can be analyzed in context of creating a moment of time “outside” of time. Rephrased, the argument can apply when S 1 and S2 are rephrased from a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist to a state of affairs in which time-y did not exist. I think this emphasizes the point – that an “atemporal act of creation”requires that simultaneity of existence and non-existence of whatever is being created.

Who is God? What is God? How can we know God?

Who is God? – The Fact
The fact of  God’s existence is so conspicuous, both through creation and through man’s  conscience, that the Bible calls the atheist a “fool” (Psalm 14:1). Accordingly, the Bible never attempts to  prove the existence of God; rather, it assumes His existence from the very  beginning (Genesis  1:1). What the Bible does is reveal the nature, character, and work of God.

Who is God? – The Definition
Thinking correctly  about God is of utmost importance because a false idea about God is idolatry. In  Psalm 50:21, God reproves  the wicked man with this accusation: “You thought I was altogether like you.” To start with, a good summary definition of God is “the Supreme Being; the Creator and Ruler of all that is; the Self-existent One who is perfect in power, goodness, and wisdom.”

Who is God? – His Nature
We  know certain things to be true of God for one reason: in His mercy He has  condescended to reveal some of His qualities to us. God is spirit, by nature  intangible (John 4:24).  God is One, but He exists as three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew  3:16-17). God is infinite (1 Timothy  1:17), incomparable (2 Samuel  7:22), and unchanging (Malachi  3:6). God exists everywhere (Psalm  139:7-12), knows everything (Psalm 147:5Isaiah 40:28), and has all  power and authority (Ephesians 1; Revelation  19:6).

Who is God? – His Character
Here are some  of God’s characteristics as revealed in the Bible: God is just (Acts 17:31), loving (Ephesians  2:4-5), truthful (John 14:6),  and holy (1 John 1:5). God shows compassion (2  Corinthians 1:3), mercy (Romans  9:15), and grace (Romans  5:17). God judges sin (Psalm 5:5) but also offers forgiveness (Psalm  130:4).

Who is God? – His Work
We cannot  understand God apart from His works, because what God does flows from who He is. Here is an abbreviated list of God’s works, past, present, and future: God  created the world (Genesis 1:1Isaiah 42:5); He actively sustains the world (Colossians  1:17); He is executing His eternal plan (Ephesians  1:11) which involves the redemption of man from the curse of sin and death  (Galatians  3:13-14); He draws people to Christ (John 6:44); He  disciplines His children (Hebrews  12:6); and He will judge the world (Revelation 20:11-15).

Who is God? – A  Relationship with Him
In the Person of the Son, God became  incarnate (John 1:14).  The Son of God became the Son of Man and is therefore the “bridge” between God and man (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). It is only  through the Son that we can have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7),  reconciliation with God (John 15:15Romans 5:10), and eternal  salvation (2 Timothy  2:10). In Jesus Christ “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians  2:9). So, to really know who God is, all we have to do is look at Jesus.