Although much is made about the "rise of atheism" I generally find that people I talk with are not atheists, they are either agnostic or vaguely deistic/theistic pluralists. Those who are not atheists generally would affirm the following (note that I say "generally" so this may not apply to you personally):

1) God [at least probably] exists.

2) God is good.

3) You can't know anything about God.

I realize that 2) and 3) seem to contradict eachother, but I've heard several people say one and then the other. Generally what the person means is something like: "You could know something general about God (like God is good, or God is love) but nothing specific." ie, you might know some very general things about God but you can't really KNOW God in the detail or personal way that the Bible suggests.

We could explore the rationale behind the idea that God is unknowable (which, IMHO, ends up being faulty upon closer examination) but I wanted to try a different tack today. I imagined this conversation, which was inspired by starting to read John Piper's Desiring God (available for free online as an ebook):

Me: So, you think God probably exists and is good?

Agnostic: Yeah.

Me: But it's also your belief that we can't really know God in any substantial way?

Agnostic: That's right.

Me: I think that belief is faulty and based on false presuppositions, but would you say that a God who is good would want to give us what is good?

Agnostic: That seems to make sense.

Me: And would you agree that if God is good, then God by definition would not be merely kinda good, but God would be maximally or perfectly good?

Agnostic: Yes.

Me: Would you say it would be good for God to withhold from us what would be most good for us?

Agnostic: No, I wouldn't think so.

Me: So then, for God to be good, he would have to give us what is most good for us. What would you say would be most good for us?

Agnostic: I'm not sure.

Me: Well, if God is maximally or perfectly good, wouldn't what is most good for us to be God Himself? If he is maximally or perfectly good, He would want to share Himself with us.

Agnostic: I'm hesitant to say yes, but it's hard to imagine what would be more good.

Me: So then: For God to be maximally or perfectly good, He must necessarily share Himself with us. For if God did not do so, He could not be maximally or perfectly good, and wouldn't be God at all! Therefore, He must share of Himself with us, and we have the opportunity and ability to know Him.

Now, someone might then wonder: If God desires to give us what is maximally or perfectly good, whence comes evil? That takes us into the whole other issue of theodicy (study of the problem of evil) but keep in mind that asking "What about evil?" doesn't invalidate the argument above, it merely raises an unanswered question regarding its ramifications.

3) God is good.

A few months ago I posted an article on TruthMedia's Power to Change website which discusses the relationship between science & religion. The topic occasionally comes up in the comments on the site, so I thought it would be useful to have an article which addresses it. From the intro:

Many scientists today have religious convictions, such as Alister McGrath (who earned two doctorate degrees from Oxford, one in theology, the other in molecular biophysics). Examples like this of course prove nothing about the validity of Christianity or religion in general, but they at least demonstrate that it is possible to be a knowledgeable person of science as well as a religious believer. So how exactly do science and religion co-exist with each other in the world? There are basically three options …

>> Read Science & Religion: Competitors or Companions? on PowertoChange.com

Some previous posts about religion & science:
On 'Scientism' and Faith – Why the belief that science is the only way to true knowledge is ridiculous
Scientists with Faith – Discusses an article about Francis Collins which appeared in the Times

As a follow-up to the previous post, "Out of Nothing", here is a short 5 minute video where William Lane Craig addresses the question "Could the Universe Have Simply Popped into Being?" via Lee Strobel's site. It provides a more succinct reply to the question than the videos I linked to in my previous post. [HT: TruthBomb]

Click the "more" link to view (the embedded video unfortunately auto-plays so I had to add the extra step to avoid it playing every time people came to the site).


I just started reading through John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress (I read part of it for one of my classes, but have never read through it in its entirety) so there may be most posts of this nature in the coming days/weeks. :)

Skeptic: There is no right interpretation. In fact there have been lots of interpretations over the many years since the Bible was written. Who are you to say you know what the Bible means? We can't know what it really means.

Christian: So let me see if I understand you correctly. You're saying that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that there is no salvation without Him.

Skeptic: What? No, that's exactly what I'm not saying! I'm saying you can't conclude that, there are many valid interpretations of the texts.

Christian: So you're saying that there is only one correct interpretation and we should try to find it.

Skeptic: No, no, why are you twisting what I'm saying? You know I'm not saying that.

Christian: Are you saying I am interpreting your words incorrectly?

Skeptic: Yes, you are!

Christian: So, it seems to me that a person could be interpreted wrongly. If that's the case, then some interpretations about what the biblical authors wrote could similarly be wrong, couldn't they?

There are no doubt passages of the Bible that are difficult to understand. Perhaps, for some, we will never be sure of the correct interpretation. But most are not so difficult, and even some of the difficult ones are only so because we choose to make them so. As with most things in life, the interpretation with the best reasons to back it up "wins"; we make educated inferences to the best explanation. There ARE correct interpretations of the texts. That doesn't mean I claim to be 100% right about all of mine, but since I believe there are right answers, and I care about finding them, I will be willing to change my mind if I am convinced otherwise.

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