The Better Reality

I want you to meet someone. This is Jessica Whelan.

jessicahappy

Jessica is a four-year-old from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, who was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in September of 2015. After fighting for over a year, Jessica died a couple of days ago.

It is a heart-breaking story, one that unfortunately occurs far, far too often. What makes this particular story important though, is that Jessica’s father Andy documented much of the final year of her life through photos, both the good and the bad. One photo in particular hit me like a punch in the gut.

jessicasick

I want you to look at that picture for a moment. Several moments. Let it sink in, try in some way to comprehend the pain this sweet little girl went through, the agony of undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, probably not even fully understanding why she was being forced to endure it. Imagine that you are one of her loved ones, watching her, knowing that you are in some way responsible for making her bear these treatments in the vain hope that they’ll somehow help her get better, or at the very least, prolong her life enough to give you just a little more time with her.

Imagine you could stop it. Imagine you had the power to snap your fingers and remove her cancer, end her pain, and make her a happy, healthy little girl once again. You would, wouldn’t you? Look at her picture again. What wouldn’t you do to take that pain away from her?

Look at her picture again. Make yourself do it.

Now tell me that your God exists.

You can hand-wave it away if you like. You can give the fancy apologist answer of original sin and free will. You can take the position of ignorance and say that God’s ways are a mystery but that we shouldn’t question him. You may even allow yourself to feel angry at God for allowing such suffering, yet you still cling to your faith in spite of your anger.

At some point though, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself. There are two possibilities here. One possibility is that God doesn’t actually exist, that Jessica died because cancer is heartless and can strike any of us at random, even innocent four-year-olds, and that there is no rhyme or reason to it at all. The other possibility is that your God does exist, that he has the power to end her suffering and heal her – because after all, he can do anything, right? – yet he watches her pain with indifference and inaction. He does nothing.

Is that really the God you want to love and serve? Is that the God you want to dedicate your life to? I don’t believe you really do. When you look at little Jessica’s picture, you know that for your God to have the ability to help her and to choose not to, for any reason at all, is nothing short of malicious.

You cannot look at that picture without knowing in your heart that your God is an absolute monster.

What an awful reality that would be. Thankfully, it is all an illusion, a great lie. God is not a monster, because he does not exist. Of course, that doesn’t make Jessica’s suffering any less awful. What she and her loved ones went through is a tragedy. But I’m glad I live in a world where tragedy strikes at random rather than one in which an omnipotent being looks on with apathy, doing nothing to help. At least we as a society are doing everything in our power to fight cancer and other diseases so that stories like Jessica’s may eventually become much less common. We’re trying, and even if bad things happen, we are not content to simply sit back and watch.

As bad as it is, isn’t our actual reality the better one?

You don’t have to live with this deception that has been foisted on your for your entire life. It’s okay to admit that none of it makes sense. There is a better life awaiting you if you’ll only take the first step and admit that you might be wrong. If you’re ready to take that first step, shoot me a comment or an email and let’s talk.

I won’t try to change your mind, because it’s impossible for me to do so. Only you can do that. But I promise, I’ll help show you where to start.

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5 Responses to The Better Reality

  1. Andrew Bain says:

    Justin, Let me ask you some questions. Why do you have compassion for Jessica? Why do you view what happened to her as an awful tragedy? Why is it heart-breaking and painful for you to know her story and look at that photo? Why would you want to save her? If we are all just star dust and everything that happens is a result of A-moral, random chance and nothing has meaning, then why all the feelings? Why all the meaning? And why are you so compelled to talk about it? Why does it occupy so much of your mind?

    May I wager that it’s because you are made in the image of God, and He’s the reason you feel any emotion at all? You were fearfully and wonderfully made, just as Jessica was. And that’s why she’s so special, and what happened was so meaningful and impactful.

    You’re right, this is awful. But you’re wrong to blame God for it. The reason is because of human sin, and the great fall of man. God loves Jessica, and He was grieved that this happened to her as well. But what you don’t understand about God is the fact that because of the impact of sin effecting mankind, and the fact of free will, these things must happen. If God simply stepped in and saved everyone from everything evil, he couldn’t deal with the sin issue, and would cease to be God. God has to deal with sin, for our benefit, and that’s why He sent us Jesus.

    The fact that you had such an emotional response to this story actually proves the existence of God rather than disproving it. You’ve been lying to yourself, propping up an atheistic premise, staunchly sticking with it, and viewing everything through the lens of that worldview. And that’s prevented you from being able to see reality.

    I know you think of yourself as being the most open minded person there is. Open to evidence, wherever it may lead. You’d have to be to proclaim such a definitive statement as to “know that there is no God.” That’s a very bold statement, so that must mean that you are certain that the evidence leads away from God. That being said, give The Atheist Delusion a watch, and see how you would answer the questions posed to the Atheists in the film. I know you welcome the challenge because you’re certain, after all.

    It can be viewed for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM

    It’s okay to be mad at God. It’s rational, and human to be mad at God. I know that it’s much easier for you, and your conscience to think of the absence of the existence of God. But creating a universe for yourself in which God doesn’t exist does not make it true, it doesn’t make suffering not exist, and it doesn’t make you no longer accountable to Him. I hope you will give this more consideration, for your eternal destiny depends on it, and believe it or not, I care because I’m a Christian.

    In Love.

    The problem: Romans 3:23
    The solution: Romans 10:9

    • Thanks for comments, I appreciate you taking the time to read and write out a thoughtful response. It’s a lot to cover, so let me try and break it down by paragraph. I don’t know that I’ll be able to address all of your points, but I’ll do the best I can.

      Justin, Let me ask you some questions. Why do you have compassion for Jessica? Why do you view what happened to her as an awful tragedy? Why is it heart-breaking and painful for you to know her story and look at that photo? Why would you want to save her? If we are all just star dust and everything that happens is a result of A-moral, random chance and nothing has meaning, then why all the feelings? Why all the meaning? And why are you so compelled to talk about it? Why does it occupy so much of your mind?

      I think the mistake you’re making here is that if we are the result of cosmic coincidence, that must mean we are also incapable of feeling compassion, desiring justice, or morality of any kind. The idea that we are ultimately a product of chance (that’s not exactly the case actually, but I won’t get into those weeds here) does not preclude our ability to feel empathy for others. We have evolved our sense of empathy, just as dogs, chimpanzees, and many other animals have, because having that particular trait is more beneficial to our survival as a species than not having it. I’m compelled to talk about it because that’s what a person with empathy does.

      May I wager that it’s because you are made in the image of God, and He’s the reason you feel any emotion at all? You were fearfully and wonderfully made, just as Jessica was. And that’s why she’s so special, and what happened was so meaningful and impactful.

      You can wager that, but what is you evidence that this is true? Keep in mind, any “evidence” from the Bible cannot count as evidence, because the Bible is the claim itself. You cannot use a claim to support itself.

      You’re right, this is awful. But you’re wrong to blame God for it. The reason is because of human sin, and the great fall of man. God loves Jessica, and He was grieved that this happened to her as well. But what you don’t understand about God is the fact that because of the impact of sin effecting mankind, and the fact of free will, these things must happen. If God simply stepped in and saved everyone from everything evil, he couldn’t deal with the sin issue, and would cease to be God. God has to deal with sin, for our benefit, and that’s why He sent us Jesus.

      Where did I blame God for it? Why would I? That would be like me blaming Santa Clause or the invisible pink unicorn in my backyard. It’s a silly notion, because I can’t place blame on something that doesn’t exist. That was kind of the whole point of the post. Christians have to look at Jessica’s death and somehow reconcile it with a perfect and loving God, which is impossible. Atheists can look at it and recognize that, while incredibly sad, it’s simply a part of life that we have to deal with.

      I do feel like I have to challenge you on the idea that these kinds of things must happen because of free will and the impact of sin. Tell me, does free will exist in Heaven? If your answer is no, then you believe God has no problem removing our free will, which means he could have just never given it to us in the first place so that we wouldn’t have ever sinned. If your answer is yes, then that means a place exists (that God created, because he created everything, right?) where there is free will and yet also no sin. But if such a place exists, why couldn’t have just made Earth like that in the first place? Whatever the case may be, there is no good reason that sin had to exist.

      Also, who created evil in the first place, if not God? Wouldn’t he just be saving us from a condition that he himself put in place? Keep mind this is all rhetorical from my perspective, since the answers all become pretty easy when you understand that he doesn’t actually exist. But I’m curious how you deal with these issues in a way that doesn’t just handwave away the inherent problems in assuming he’s real.

      The fact that you had such an emotional response to this story actually proves the existence of God rather than disproving it. You’ve been lying to yourself, propping up an atheistic premise, staunchly sticking with it, and viewing everything through the lens of that worldview. And that’s prevented you from being able to see reality.

      You believe God impregnated a middle-eastern woman with himself so she could give birth to himself so that he could die and sacrifice himself to himself to save all of us from the sinful nature he created us with, thereby preventing himself from torturing everyone for all eternity.

      And I’m the one who’s unable to see reality?

      I know you think of yourself as being the most open minded person there is. Open to evidence, wherever it may lead. You’d have to be to proclaim such a definitive statement as to “know that there is no God.” That’s a very bold statement, so that must mean that you are certain that the evidence leads away from God. That being said, give The Atheist Delusion a watch, and see how you would answer the questions posed to the Atheists in the film. I know you welcome the challenge because you’re certain, after all.

      It can be viewed for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM

      I’m far from the most open-minded person ever. I have biases and flaws, just like everyone else. Hell, I was a Christian for 25 years, obviously I had a very hard time opening myself up to other points of view. And you’re right, to claim with certainty that there is no God would be a bold statement indeed. Thankfully, I never made such a statement. When it comes to the knowledge of God, I’m an agnostic, because I recognize that no one can claim to know such a thing for sure (such is the way of unfalsifiable claims). However, when it comes to belief, yes, I’m an atheist. I don’t know for sure there isn’t an invisible pink unicorn in my backyard. There very well could be, and if someone makes that claim, how will I prove them wrong? But based on the evidence I’ve seen, I don’t believe that there is an invisible pink unicorn in my backyard, and I’m going to live my life under the assumption that it doesn’t exist until someone can present evidence to sufficiently change that belief. Do you see the difference between belief and knowledge? That’s why I’m an agnostic atheist, just like you are an agnostic atheist when it comes to any other God besides the Christian God. Do you believe Allah exists? Or Zeus, or Thor, or Krishna? Can you prove to me that they don’t exist?

      As for the Atheist Delusion, I’ve actually watched it, and found it woefully lacking even from a Christian apologetics viewpoint. The whole thing is essentially a rehash of the Watchmaker Analogy. Just because something has the appearance of design does not mean it was actually designed, which amazingly is an argument that Lawrence Krauss actually made in the movie with no response by Comfort, and somehow the whole exchange didn’t get edited out. After all, when you look at the perfect symmetry and structure of a snowflake, such precision and form, what other conclusion could you reach other than that it was designed? Isn’t that the argument Comfort is trying to make?

      So yes, I am open-minded and still enjoy (in a loose sense of the word) readying and watching these kind of apologetics, because if there is something that will genuinely challenge me, I want to know about it. The Atheist Delusion, however, ain’t it. In the same vein though, I’d challenge you to read Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker, which directly takes on the Watchmaker analogy and perfectly breaks down how the appearance of design can arise without a designer. How open are you?

      It’s okay to be mad at God. It’s rational, and human to be mad at God. I know that it’s much easier for you, and your conscience to think of the absence of the existence of God. But creating a universe for yourself in which God doesn’t exist does not make it true, it doesn’t make suffering not exist, and it doesn’t make you no longer accountable to Him. I hope you will give this more consideration, for your eternal destiny depends on it, and believe it or not, I care because I’m a Christian.

      Claiming that I’m mad at God is nothing more than a straw man to try and discredit the arguments I actually made. I’ve never once claimed to be mad at God, at least not since realizing he doesn’t exist. As I said before, it’s a completely nonsensical notion to be mad at something that is imaginary.

      In the same vein though, creating a universe for yourself where God exists equally does not make it true, nor does it make suffering not exist. The difference is that my understanding of the world accounts for suffering, while yours cannot. You can tell me I’m accountable to God/Jesus, and the Muslim will tell me I’m accountable to Allah, and the Jew will tell me I’m accountable to Yahweh, and meanwhile I’m all I’m hearing is that no matter which one I choose, I’m going to hell by rejecting the others. How can an outsider look in and decide which is true?

      Don’t think I rejected my faith lightly. I gave it more consideration than you can possibly imagine, and in the years (yes, years) it took me to deconvert, I prayed more than I ever had in my life up to that point. How about you? How much real consideration have you given the idea that you’re wrong? What would it take to make you stop believing? Have you ever even thought about it? Maybe it’s time.

      • Andrew Bain says:

        I’ll extend you the same courtesy of replying to each of your answers to the best of my ability. Although I don’t know how you did the cool quote thing you did, so I hope this isn’t hard to read.

        “Thanks for comments, I appreciate you taking the time to read and write out a thoughtful response. It’s a lot to cover, so let me try and break it down by paragraph. I don’t know that I’ll be able to address all of your points, but I’ll do the best I can.”

        Absolutely man! I enjoy this type of discussion. It tends to sharpen my apologetics, and for that I am grateful. I also see it as an opportunity to share the truth which I am also passionate about.

        “I think the mistake you’re making here is that if we are the result of cosmic coincidence, that must mean we are also incapable of feeling compassion, desiring justice, or morality of any kind. The idea that we are ultimately a product of chance (that’s not exactly the case actually, but I won’t get into those weeds here) does not preclude our ability to feel empathy for others. We have evolved our sense of empathy, just as dogs, chimpanzees, and many other animals have, because having that particular trait is more beneficial to our survival as a species than not having it. I’m compelled to talk about it because that’s what a person with empathy does.”

        So, a coincidence, as I understand it to be defined, is a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance, as you’ve referred to existence. And I’m guessing you’re defining cosmic as vast, or immeasurably extended in time and space, is that correct? In other words, an enormous occurrence of two or more events that by random chance happen to result in something that appeal to logic and reason as having a purpose, but in fact are unrelated to any purpose or intent by any meaningful force. Is that accurate? If this is the case, you still have to deal with the nothing to anything scenario. And I don’t buy Dawkins “Nothing is something” argument. Nothing by definition is the absence of something. In our known realm of sciences, it defies logic in every facet to ponder even for a single fraction of a moment the idea that anything at all can come to exist from nothing. Especially with no force to act upon it to begin with. So if a coincidence is to occur, at least two somethings would have to exist to begin with, and you can’t even get one something from nothing.

        “You can wager that, but what is you evidence that this is true? Keep in mind, any “evidence” from the Bible cannot count as evidence, because the Bible is the claim itself. You cannot use a claim to support itself.”

        My evidence is creation itself. If creation exists, logic and reason point me in the direction of intelligent design. Since I know (believe) that something cannot come from nothing. This leads me to seek out who that designer was, which leads me to the Bible, which then explains everything that we see. So, creation is my answer.

        “Where did I blame God for it? Why would I? That would be like me blaming Santa Clause or the invisible pink unicorn in my backyard. It’s a silly notion, because I can’t place blame on something that doesn’t exist. That was kind of the whole point of the post. Christians have to look at Jessica’s death and somehow reconcile it with a perfect and loving God, which is impossible. Atheists can look at it and recognize that, while incredibly sad, it’s simply a part of life that we have to deal with.”

        Well, I’m saying you blame God because you said:
        “The other possibility is that your God does exist, that he has the power to end her suffering and heal her – because after all, he can do anything, right? – yet he watches her pain with indifference and inaction. He does nothing.”
        And remember, I’m coming from the worldview that God exists. If this is what you think the Christian God would be doing in this scenario if he were to exist, then you’d be blaming Him for this. And since I do in fact know (believe) that God does exist, then I view this as you blaming God. The truth is, nowhere in the Bible does it teach that God watches human suffering with indifference and inaction. That is a construct of your mind, placing onto Scripture something it does not say. In fact, just the opposite is true. We can certainly go into that if you’d like, but I don’t want to belabor Scripture here because of your current level of rejection. So instead I’ll answer how a Christian should view Jessica’s plight.

        Jessica was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. He knows her, and loves her, He formed her in the womb, and desires nothing but good for her. Why did this happen to her? On the broadest of scales, the horrifying consequences of human sin. Did she do something directly to deserve her suffering from our point of view? No. What’s God’s point of view on the matter?
        We have to understand how God feels about sin, and why sin brings about consequences. We also have to understand that what Jessica went through was not punishment from God for her sin, and He does not take delight in it, but instead consequences of life in a fallen world infested with sin bring these things about. Judgement and consequences are not mutually exclusive. Suffering in this life is not punishment for sin, it’s the consequences of sin. Punishment for sin comes after death, at the Great White Throne of Judgement. What poor Jessica had to endure was, as you put it, a cancer that “is heartless and can strike any of us at random, even innocent four-year-olds, and that there is no rhyme or reason to it at all”. And it can, strike at random. We don’t know who it’s going to hit next. But this was not judgement.
        Now I admit that I do not, and will not likely ever fully understand why God chooses to intervene in some things, but not other things that we think he should. Like this situation with Jessica. In those areas, knowing (believing) what I do about God, I trust Him to know what He’s doing because He created everything, and is sovereign over it. So because of that, He’s entitled to my trust, beyond my understanding, even if He does not choose to intervene where I think that He should. Because He’s God, not me. And I’m at peace with that, even if he strikes me with Jessica’s same condition.

        “I do feel like I have to challenge you on the idea that these kinds of things must happen because of free will and the impact of sin. Tell me, does free will exist in Heaven? If your answer is no, then you believe God has no problem removing our free will, which means he could have just never given it to us in the first place so that we wouldn’t have ever sinned. If your answer is yes, then that means a place exists (that God created, because he created everything, right?) where there is free will and yet also no sin. But if such a place exists, why couldn’t have just made Earth like that in the first place? Whatever the case may be, there is no good reason that sin had to exist.
        Also, who created evil in the first place, if not God? Wouldn’t he just be saving us from a condition that he himself put in place? Keep mind this is all rhetorical from my perspective, since the answers all become pretty easy when you understand that he doesn’t actually exist. But I’m curious how you deal with these issues in a way that doesn’t just handwave away the inherent problems in assuming he’s real.”

        This is a great question! I personally think that free will does indeed exist in heaven. Scripture is silent on it, though it is implied with the fall of Satan and his followers. Given your scenario, why did sin have to exist in the first place? This, I do not know. But I think that creation came about in order to deal with the sin issue. Satan sinned first, by rebelling against God. How? Because he had free will, and chose rebellion. So God, in order to deal with sin, created creation, all that we know to exist. He set up the perfect environment, and created beings in His image, and gave them free will. As a result of having free will, Adam was allowed to make a decision. And he chose to disobey God, which resulted in the fall of man, and every man after his own kind, and therefore the consequences of sin. The human race was then ushered in to Satan’s kingdom. Therefore, God set his plan to save humanity in motion, giving man the opportunity to come back into God’s kingdom, through belief in His promises.
        Where did evil come from? Lucifer. Lucifer’s rebellion resulted in sin. What is sin? Transgression of God’s law, rebellion against God, and therefore the absence of God. So, the antithesis of God, namely Evil. A good analogy that I think appropriate is to think about cold vs. heat, and darkness vs. light. Cold is the absence of heat, and darkness is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of God. Yes, God is omnipresent, so He’s everywhere, but relationship can be severed. Sin severed the soul’s relationship to God. And of course we see this evil every day in those that are doing Lucifer’s bidding, their relationships severed, or absent from God. Is a natural disaster evil? No, that’s consequences of a fallen world. Is murder evil? Yes, that’s a free will decision on behalf of the perpetrator who’s acting in rebellion of God. And there’s the key, the separation of soul, from God.
        Once in heaven, there will be no separate from God. Free will will exist, but for us humans, I think that God will have completed us by the finished work of his Son, and on account of that, it will be different than it ever was before. But this I do not know.

        “You believe God impregnated a middle-eastern woman with himself so she could give birth to himself so that he could die and sacrifice himself to himself to save all of us from the sinful nature he created us with, thereby preventing himself from torturing everyone for all eternity.
        And I’m the one who’s unable to see reality?”

        That’s a crude way of putting it, but that’s pretty close. Except that He did not create us with a sinful nature. Adam chose that for us (thanks a lot!). And yes, you may want to deny that as reality, but it does not make it not so. I do not know why He chose to do it this way either. It had something to do with working within the realm of the physical in order to make Jesus fully human, and the imputed sin of Adam coming through the male sperm that is not passed on from the mother.

        “I’m far from the most open-minded person ever. I have biases and flaws, just like everyone else. Hell, I was a Christian for 25 years, obviously I had a very hard time opening myself up to other points of view. And you’re right, to claim with certainty that there is no God would be a bold statement indeed. Thankfully, I never made such a statement. When it comes to the knowledge of God, I’m an agnostic, because I recognize that no one can claim to know such a thing for sure (such is the way of unfalsifiable claims). However, when it comes to belief, yes, I’m an atheist. I don’t know for sure there isn’t an invisible pink unicorn in my backyard. There very well could be, and if someone makes that claim, how will I prove them wrong? But based on the evidence I’ve seen, I don’t believe that there is an invisible pink unicorn in my backyard, and I’m going to live my life under the assumption that it doesn’t exist until someone can present evidence to sufficiently change that belief. Do you see the difference between belief and knowledge? That’s why I’m an agnostic atheist, just like you are an agnostic atheist when it comes to any other God besides the Christian God. Do you believe Allah exists? Or Zeus, or Thor, or Krishna? Can you prove to me that they don’t exist?”

        Thanks for clearing that up. By your claim to be an Atheist, I was assuming you were claiming to know (certain beyond any doubt) that there is no God. So, my apologies. I’ve not heard of the Agnostic Atheist position before, so that is new to me! I retract my “most open minded person there is” comment based upon this claim. I would classify myself to be reasonably open-minded. I’m not so open minded that I’m willing to let my brain fall out, but I do like to see all sides to every story to be able to make an informed decision on the facts.

        I also do not think that an invisible pink unicorn exists outside of the imagination of human beings.
        I believe (know) that Allah, as defined as the God of Islam does not exist as a God. Same goes for Zeus, Thor, or Krishna as traditionally defined. I know these things to be true for certain beyond any doubt because I know the Bible to be God’s inspired Word, and He makes the claim that there are no other God’s apart from Him. But, apart from the special revelation of God’s Word in conjunction with the reality I see around me, at this time I am incapable of proving said things not to exist.

        “As for the Atheist Delusion, I’ve actually watched it, and found it woefully lacking even from a Christian apologetics viewpoint. The whole thing is essentially a rehash of the Watchmaker Analogy. Just because something has the appearance of design does not mean it was actually designed, which amazingly is an argument that Lawrence Krauss actually made in the movie with no response by Comfort, and somehow the whole exchange didn’t get edited out. After all, when you look at the perfect symmetry and structure of a snowflake, such precision and form, what other conclusion could you reach other than that it was designed? Isn’t that the argument Comfort is trying to make?

        So yes, I am open-minded and still enjoy (in a loose sense of the word) readying and watching these kind of apologetics, because if there is something that will genuinely challenge me, I want to know about it. The Atheist Delusion, however, ain’t it. In the same vein though, I’d challenge you to read Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker, which directly takes on the Watchmaker analogy and perfectly breaks down how the appearance of design can arise without a designer. How open are you?”
        Woefully lacking! Man. That surprises me, but okay! I believe Comfort was going for that. The Watchmaker analogy thing that is. So yes! And yes, the snowflake was intelligently designed! By the complexity that was previously designed! Just as a flower from a seed is designed! It occurred from previously designed “somethings”.

        Regarding Dawkins book: I have to say that I cannot give any serious consideration to anyone who thinks that something can come from nothing. I think that destroys his credibility. I’m not trying to be mean, but someone would really have to be delusional to struggle to define nothing. He also admitted to Ben Stein that he thinks it’s possible that some other civilization seeded life on our planet, and that there might be some kind of signature of a designer. A higher intelligence in the universe that couldn’t have just jumped into existence. So he thinks that’s possible, but it couldn’t possibly be the God of the Bible. His premise is invalidated from the start. So I’m open minded, but I also recognize error, and fiction. I would consider reading it for entertainment’s sake perhaps, or for the sake of breaking down arguments, but I certainly will not go to it for any source of truth.

        “Claiming that I’m mad at God is nothing more than a straw man to try and discredit the arguments I actually made. I’ve never once claimed to be mad at God, at least not since realizing he doesn’t exist. As I said before, it’s a completely nonsensical notion to be mad at something that is imaginary.”

        If I don’t get the gift for Christmas that I was hoping for, I do not get mad at Santa, since I realize that he doesn’t exist. I’ve never once claimed to be mad at Santa. But I’ve also never given any considerable thought to disproving his existence. I don’t spend hours thinking about it, and getting into arguments with people about it. He simply doesn’t exist, and I go about my life without another thought about it because it is plain to me through my logic and reason that he is fiction. The reason you have spent so much time and effort committed to disproving God is because He’s a valid threat to his non-existence. Heck, Dawkins has committed his whole life to disproving God’s existence, with books and speaking engagements. I’ve never seen so much zeal in trying to disprove the existence of anything else. So you claiming that you’re not mad at God, is ingenuous due to the overwhelming evidence of His existence. And from my point of view, from the stance of claiming to know with certainty that God exists, it’s not a strawman argument.

        “In the same vein though, creating a universe for yourself where God exists equally does not make it true, nor does it make suffering not exist. The difference is that my understanding of the world accounts for suffering, while yours cannot. You can tell me I’m accountable to God/Jesus, and the Muslim will tell me I’m accountable to Allah, and the Jew will tell me I’m accountable to Yahweh, and meanwhile I’m all I’m hearing is that no matter which one I choose, I’m going to hell by rejecting the others. How can an outsider look in and decide which is true?”
        God created this universe, not me. I am just fortunate enough to be in existence within it, as I am fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of my Creator. And not only in it, but luckily apart from eternal punishment as ultimate consequences of sin because I take God at his Word and believe on the name of His Son. My belief does not make Him exist, that’s true. My belief is because he already does. And suffering is a part of a fallen world. The Bible, on the contrary, completely accounts for suffering. It explains in vivid detail the reason and consequences for suffering. Evolution in no way accounts for suffering, or evil. If all we see is a result of purposeless, random chance through evolution, why hasn’t the universe evolved out of disease, and death for that matter? Disease and death work counter to the idea of survival of the fittest. Why does nothing new ever come from death? Sure the body will decompose and the vitamins and minerals left behind will fertilize and revitalize current life, but no new life ever comes from this that didn’t previously exist. And what about homosexuality? If the whole world goes homosexual, we’ll cease to exist as they do not procreate. Why doesn’t evolution cause homosexuality to disappear? You’d think that would be eradicated, for the sake of survival of the fittest. There are so many inexplicable flaws to evolution. Many more than there are with creation, and if you’d take the Word of God as true, you’d see there are no flaws, just misunderstandings. Which I’m sure you view me as misunderstand the ways of evolution, which to my reason, seems to take a whole lot more faith to believe. But, whichever worldview you choose, you still have faith in it, as we’ll never fully understand, until the Lord comes again. 
        “Don’t think I rejected my faith lightly. I gave it more consideration than you can possibly imagine, and in the years (yes, years) it took me to deconvert, I prayed more than I ever had in my life up to that point. How about you? How much real consideration have you given the idea that you’re wrong? What would it take to make you stop believing? Have you ever even thought about it? Maybe it’s time.”
        I certainly do not believe that you did take it lightly. I have given it a considerable amount of thought as well. The more I dig, the deeper my faith in Yahweh grows. I’m saddened that this path has overtaken your mind. Not for my sake, but for yours, and also what this does to your family. The Bible, as you’re aware, mentions the hardening of the heart, which is a free will decision that God allows. I fear you’ve done this and my prayer is that you reverse course.
        In love

        • To be perfectly frank with you, I cannot have a discussion with someone unwilling to investigate the other side of the argument. Your characterization of Dawkins’ position is inaccurate, and I suspect it’s based on what you’ve heard or read an apologist say about it rather than what you’ve read for yourself. Apologists love to stress the importance of not taking specific Bible verses out of context, while at the same time doing exactly that those who oppose their viewpoints. I know I’ve personally read many apologetics books and websites since deconverting, because it’s important for me to research these positions and arguments for myself instead of simply trusting the opinions of others. Why is it so difficult for you to do the same?

          So, I’m sorry we can’t continue the discussion. Perhaps another time. I’ll leave you with two last questions.

          1) Where did God come from?

          2) What answer can you give to that question that couldn’t also apply to the universe itself?

          • Andrew says:

            Well, I apologize if my characterization of Dawkins’ position is inaccurate. I’m going off of what he said in a debate with George Pell, and his discussion with Ben Stein, and I’m basing my premise that Dawkins’ credibility is gone on what he said to each of those men. Not what some apologist has said. If I misunderstood what Dawkins said, I would love to know what he meant.
            To Pell, he said: “Of course it’s counter intuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sense doesn’t allow you to get something from nothing.”
            – On this point I completely agree
            He also said “Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.”
            – I also agree. (That mystery was God)
            But then he said “Life is now completely solved, barring the details… that was Darwin’s contribution and Darwin’s successes”
            – Is he validating all of Darwin’s findings here? Because Darwins’ findings are deeply flawed and rejected completely in much of the secular scientific community. Darwin himself admitted his theory’s absurdity. The Cambrian explosion alone refutes his theory.
            Dawkins then explained, paraphrasing: When you have matter and antimatter and you put them together, they cancel each other out and give rise to nothing. And then said that what Lawrence Krauss suggested is that that process could go into reverse and produce matter and antimatter.

            Pell then got into what Krauss actually said, which had something to do with electrical forces and floating particles, but didn’t actually mention actual nothingness.

            I went and listened to what Krauss says about it, and he doesn’t address the issue of nothingness. He begins with energy’s interaction with matter. Well, all this energy and matter had to previously exist, right?

            The matter and antimatter concept begs the question: In order for there to be an antimatter/matter combination that could separate, that means there had to be matter and antimatter to begin with, right? Well, what force made them separate? And then, in order for there to be an explosion (which is apparently what happens when matter and antimatter combine), there had to be matter and antimatter to begin with. So where did that matter and antimatter come from? Did that just always exist? That concept of always existing only works for an intelligent creator God, who exists outside the realm of natural law.

            I’m going to take a chance and make a statement that reason tells me is an irrefutable fact:
            It is not possible, or plausible for something to come from nothing. A matter and antimatter combination that has the potential to separate isn’t nothing. It’s something. In fact, it’s at least two somethings.

            If Dawkins or Krauss believes otherwise, they’re starting with an inherently flawed premise of existence, therefore anything they say in support of this premise must be rejected.

            Now to your questions:

            Your first question is flawed because God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. He exists outside of those laws. God is uncaused and uncreated. We’ve established that nothing comes from nothing. So, if there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused being that caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created the universe and everything in it. He is that mysterious force Dawkins knows about. So, if God needed a cause, then He wouldn’t be God. And that’s not the God of the Bible.

            Now, you’re setting an ultimatum with regard to not continuing this discussion unless I read Dawkins’ book. Isn’t that just an easy way to get out of this discussion? If you want out, you don’t have to continue, and I respect that. But by me not reading Dawkins’ book in no way means that I have not studied, or am unwilling to study the other side. I’ve studied enough of it to know factually that Dawkins’ position is not a valid consideration, based on what I’ve written above about nothing.

            So, with that, I’ll leave you alone. Thank you for kindly rebutting some of my refutations. And I want to give you a warning. Do not try to persuade your daughters that there is no God, as that would bring further consequences upon you that extend beyond your own personal responsibility to God. God has given your daughters into your care, so your responsibility to them is great. You’ve made your decision, so let them make theirs based on their own interaction with the evidence. And honestly, if you live in a purposeless, yet moral world, the most rational decision would be to let your wife influence your children’s persuasions into the ways of Yahweh, because, what if you’re wrong?

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