Atheism Failed Me – Part 2

Think deeply – and honestly – with me for a moment.

(In 2015, I posted a blog titled, Atheism Failed Me.  I further that conviction here.)

I just finished reading Bertrand Russell’s speech given after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Of course, Russell was a brilliant philosopher and avowed atheist, known for his book (which i have in my library), Why I Am Not a Christian.

As I read philosophers who possess an atheistic worldview I never cease to be surprised at reading nothing the Bible hasn’t already addressed. It was philosophy professor, Paul Copan, who, when asked who is favorite philosopher was, replied, “Jesus.”

Copan cites another brilliant philosopher, Douglas Groothuis,

who presents Jesus of Nazareth as a rigorous philosopher. Groothuis defines a philosopher as “one having a strong inclination to pursue truth about philosophical matters.” These philosophical matters include “life’s meaning, purpose, and value as they relate to all the major divisions of philosophy”—especially the areas of knowledge (epistemology), ultimate reality (metaphysics), and ethics. A philosopher’s task is accomplished “through the rigorous use of human reasoning and . . . with some intellectual facility.”

In addition to Russell, I own books by the great philosophers Nietzsche, Hume, Descartes as well as contemporary philosophers like NYU’s Nagel.   Further, I enjoy listening to the brilliant, contemporary physicist, Sean Carroll, of Cal Tech.  All of these men hold to an atheistic worldview.

After my son, Jordan, took his life in 2013, I was through with God and experienced what I describe as “situational atheism.”

I went back and re-studied the writings of the atheistic philosophers mentioned above.

But, atheism failed me.

The more I read, the clearer it became: these men don’t have life any more figured out than anyone else.

Then, what began leading me back to my faith in God took place as I was standing in my driveway one hot summer afternoon. I remember the moment distinctly. I glanced up at the hot son and thought, “Why is the sun 93 millions miles away and not closer, or farther? How did the sun land where it did?” My rational argument for the existence of a creator quickly gave way to a philosophical question: Why did the sun land where it did?”

In regard to Jordan, atheism failed me because (1) it gave me nowhere to place my rage, anger, confusion, depression, hopelessness, etc. And, (2) it offered me no hope of seeing my son again. In short, it made life meaningless.

Contrarily, the Cross offered all of this, and more. It offered me, both, a place to put my pain, and then it offered me hope for meaning in life – and the afterlife. In a sense, I could hear Christ whisper to me, “I’ve got this, Nick. Trust me. Life on earth is painful. But, because I suffered for you, it will not always be this way. I love you, my child.”

Never forget: atheism, like Christianity, is a faith worldview. Further, in my opinion, atheism requires far more faith than the Christian faith.

It was former ardent atheist and Yale Law School grad, Lee Strobel, who said,

“To continue in atheism, I’d need to believe nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I just didn’t have that much faith.”

It’s a brilliant plan God has set in place, really. By faith, we choose our worldview and hold fast to hope that it’s true. But, it’s not until the nanosecond after we die that we discover who’s right. It’s known as Pascal’s Wager, set forth by the 17th century physicist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal. Personally, based on the mountain of evidence for the existence of God, I’m not willing to wager that the Bible’s a lie.

Contrary to what “internet atheists” spout, the Christian faith is an intelligent, rational faith. Which is why, numerous times, God tells us in the Bible, “Test me. Examine me. And make your decision.”

Even the renowned British, atheist philosopher, Antony Flew, as he put it, chose to “abide by Plato’s Socrates and follow the argument where it leads.” It led him to a decision that rocked the atheistic world: given the overwhelming evidence, he decided God existed.

Lastly, I have always believed that it’s not Christ that affects one’s choice to deny God’s existence, but rather, Christians. We can be horribly pathetic advertisements for the love and goodness of God.

When confronted with the evidence for a Creator, even the most intelligent skeptics are commonly left wondering, “I’ve never thought about that” (see video clip below).

Please consider taking 9 1/2  minutes and watch this video clip. Both the Christian giving the interviews and the atheists with whom he’s visiting are very kind. To me, it’s always refreshing listening to civil discourse related to typically controversial topics.

For Narnia, Nick

Maranatha

“Maranatha”

This Aramaic word, used once in the New Testament of the Bible, meaning “Lord, come,” is used in Paul’s closing words in his first letter to the Corinthians.

In another letter written by Paul, after addressing the return of Christ, Paul wrote, “Encourage one another with these words.”

Allow me to briefly do that for you now.

The second coming of Christ is threaded throughout Scripture, prophesied repeatedly by the Old Testament prophets and given, both, in way of promise and warning in Matthew through Revelation.

Significantly, the longest answer (by a mile) Jesus ever gave to a single question was in regard to his second coming (cf. Matthew, chapters 24-25).

This return of Christ is veiled in mystery (“no one knows the day or hour”, Jesus, himself, said.) When teaching on this topic, I tell people, “If anyone ever tells you they have Christ’s return figured out just smile and walk the other way. On second thought, don’t smile – just walk away.”

That said, while responding to his disciples’ question about his return, Jesus did tell them we can, as his prophecy continues to be fulfilled, we can know his return is drawing near.  As in “when a tree begins to bloom you know Spring is near.”

You will never see me standing on a busy corner in Lubbock with a sign saying, “The end is near.” But I do pay careful attention to world events in light of biblical prophecy.

The most significant fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy, in my opinion, was when, on May 14, 1948, Israel was recognized as a state for the first time in 2500 years.

Further, what are the odds that a country so tiny it’s difficult to spot it on a map appears to control the entire global climate? (Based on God’s plans for Israel during the end times, the odds are 100%.)

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, once said, “The Temple Mount is the most volatile square kilometer on earth.” And he’s right.

Lastly, both the prophet, Daniel, and Paul in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, prophecy the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt during what Jesus called a period of “great tribulation,” comprising the final years immediately before his return to earth. When you have time, google anything related to “building of the third temple.” (The first Jewish temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and the second by the Romans in 70 AD).

The Bible records Christ’s return will be a glorious time for Christians, but a time of terrifying judgment for the rest of humanity.

The Bible tells us there is a reality beyond what we can physically see. It’s a good – and healthy – idea to, on occasion, focus on that. It’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “Set your mind on things above.”

Just wanting to help remind all believers of a marvelous thing: three times in the last chapter of our Bible, Jesus says, “I’m on my way.”

Life is hard. But it will not always be this way.

NOTE: I’m attaching one of my favorite songs by Waylon Jennings. Fittingly, it’s titled “Revelation.”

Maranatha, Nick