Why do People Support Abortion?

I honestly don’t understand how a rational person can support abortion rights.

To me, the argument against abortion is very simple, and goes something like this:

  1. Murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human being, and is immoral.
  2. Abortion is the intentional killing of an embryo or fetus.
  3. Embryos and fetuses are innocent human beings.
  4. Therefore, abortion is murder, and immoral.

The arguments for abortion rights seem to try to refute this argument in one of three ways:

  1. The most common argument is that embryos and fetuses are not human beings. However, I have yet to see a cogent rationale for this belief. Every argument I see is based on emotion or is utterly subjective.  Genetically, an embryo is human from the moment of conception. There is no other point in human development where scientists can objectively say, up this stage, the embryo/fetus is clearly not human, but from this point on, it is.
  2. The second common argument I see is that murder isn’t necessarily immoral. This view usually presupposes the first argument, that the unborn aren’t human beings. The rape, poverty, abuse, and birth defects arguments generally fit in this category. Sometimes, the “a woman’s choice” argument fits here as well. Again, I have yet to see a cogent rationalization for this view.
  3. The third argument I see is that abortion should be legal despite the fact that it is murder and immoral. This view is where the “a woman’s choice” argument usually fits. To me, this is the most illogical argument of the three. If murder by abortion should be legal, why not all forms of murder? Why make anything illegal?

The only justifiable exception I can logically defend is abortion to save the life of the mother. If both the mother and the fetus are expected to die without the abortion, and there is a reasonable expectation that the mother’s life can be saved if the abortion is performed, then it is better to lose one life than two. At the same time, every attempt should be made to save the baby as well.

I would very much like to understand why individuals who support the pro-choice position believe abortion is justifiable. If you are an abortion supporter, I would appreciate your comments. Please keep them respectful and on-topic. Disrespectful or irrelevant comments will be summarily deleted.


Muslims and Terrorism

Muslims and Terrorism

Social Media Fallacies, Part 1

A trend I consistently see on social media sites it the use of illogical arguments to try to make a point.  It seems that the more emotional the discussion, the more ridiculous the arguments.  The irksome thing to me is that most of the people making these arguments have no idea just how irrational they are.

The current discussion of the Paris terrorist attacks and debate over President Obama’s push to bring Syrian refugees to the United States is a case in point.   I took a random sampling from my Facebook newsfeed, and found numerous quotes and memes that are utter nonsense.  Here are a sampling of them:

The M&M Argument


This is an example of a weak analogy.  The argument is that since you would reject all of the M&Ms rather than risk eating a poison one, we should reject all Syrian refugees because there may be some terrorists embedded.

The analogy breaks down for a couple of reasons.  First, M&Ms aren’t people.  Throwing away M&Ms isn’t a moral issue.  Whether or not we help refugees is a moral issue.  Second, the analogy implies that it’s impossible to determine whether any of the M&Ms are poison – they are all identical.  Refugees aren’t identical.  Some – small children, for example – can be fairly easily determined to not be terrorists.  Unlike the M&Ms, there are vetting procedures in place that can reliably identify some people as terrorists, and some people as non-threats.  Granted, these protocols aren’t foolproof, and extreme caution should be taken.  Still, unlike the M&Ms, it’s not random chance.

The Problem is Religion

The Problem Is ReligionThis one is an example of the fallacy of prejudicial conjecture.  An emotional, arbitrary, and ill-informed opinion is substituted for an accurate and factual assessment of the issue.  There is no factual basis for this argument.

It’s also an example of wishful thinking and manipulative propaganda.  Just because someone has an anti-religious beliefs doesn’t make religion bad.  Propaganda is defined by Webster as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”  This argument is really nothing more than a weak attempt to exploit the legitimate issue of terrorism in order to discredit God.

It’s also an example of a red herring argument.  It’s an attempt to distract from the actual issue being debated or discussed.

The entire argument is shown as preposterous when one uses the same form to argue against other issues:

FOOD poisoning

Homeless Before Refugees

Here are a couple that are very similar:


There are a couple of logical fallacies embedded in these memes.

First, like many memes, the pictures are selected for their appeal to emotion.  Look at that poor little child!  Look at those homeless veterans!  How could you be so cruel as to ignore them and help refugees?  Tugging on people’s emotions is not a rational argument.

A second fallacy is the either – or fallacy, also known as bifurcation or a false dilemma.  These memes present us with a choice:  Either you support the American homeless, or you can support refugees.  It’s one or the other.  We can’t do both.  The fallacy is that in reality, we do not have to choose one or the other – we can do both.  In a bifurcated argument, the possibility of alternative solutions is ignored.

You’re an Idiot!  Look – a Squirrel!

obama-manilaIllogical arguments aren’t limited to social media memes.  There was a link on my newsfeed to a news report of President Obama making the following statement in regards to those who oppose Syrian refugee immigration:  “Apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.”

This is a typical ad hominem attack.  An ad hominem attack is simply an insult or name-calling.  It’s not a rational argument; it’s attacking the person, rather than their argument.  It’s typically used when the person making the attack has run out of valid arguments, and so they resort to name-calling.

It’s also a classic strawman argument.  A strawman argument first distorts the opponent’s actual position, making it easier to argue against.  Almost nobody is claiming that Syrian widow and orphan refugees pose a threat; it’s mostly the males of military service age that people have expressed concern over.  However, by falsely implying that those who oppose Syrian refugee immigration are against widows and orphans, it’s much easier to argue against than their actual position.

Not So Scary

Refugees in Cincinnati

This photo was posted by several people, and was accompanied by this text:

I saw a friend of a friend post this picture and felt I needed to share it. It is a picture of the first refugee family from Syria to be settled in Cincinnati, Ohio after they arrived yesterday.

A big faceless unknown is scary, I know, but when you put a face to it and see exactly who these refugees are, I believe that’s where we can all start seeing the truth behind this crisis and exactly who is being effected by this.

When we understand something, it’s a lot less scary and a whole lot easier to be compassionate towards others. This is something I feel relates to almost all aspects of life, not just this single issue.

Again, the photo is an appeal to emotion.  Look at those faces.  They’re not so scary, are they?

The language is also an appeal to emotion, not a rational argument.  A friend posted this.  The unknown is scary.  We need compassion.  This is nothing but playing on people’s emotions, and is not a rational basis for determining public policy.

This also falls under the fallacy of a biased sample.  The argument is that these people are representative of all of the 30,000 refugees we plan to bring in to the United States.  Just because someone posts one photo of one refugee family, it doesn’t mean all refugees are the same.  There are also photos of scary-looking male refugees floating around the Internet – which are just as biased.

Don’t be a Hypocrite!

Let’s look at one more:


This is a Tu Quoque argument.  Tu Quoque, or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser.  It basically says, since you don’t live up to your own position, your position is invalid.  This is a form of red herring argument – an argument designed to distract from the real issue.  It’s just creating a diversion, and it’s not a rational argument.


My point with all of this isn’t to argue for or against Syrian immigration, but rather, to point out how silly and misleading many of the arguments are.  It’s also to point out just how gullible people are, since they see these silly arguments, but have no idea they’re nonsense.

This isn’t to say that illogical arguments can’t be effective.  We all use common fallacies when trying to persuade others, and these arguments can often drive a point home.  The problem is, these arguments are misleading and often play on emotions rather than reality.

Fallacious arguments aren’t limited to social media or to political discussion.  They’re found in science textbooks, legal cases, and the network news; they are used in discussions involving religion, politics, sports, and just about every other topic, especially when attempted persuasion is involved.  We all must be discerning and learn to spot faulty logic in order to not be persuaded by ignorance.

Same Logic, Same Result


The Logical Fallacy of Requiring Material Evidence to Prove God’s Existence

The following graphic, which I saw on Facebook, sums up the argument I consistently hear from materialistic atheists in their arguments against God.

For many, this seems like a rational requirement. If something is true, there should be scientific evidence to prove it.

However, such a “rule” is actually nonsense. There are logical fallacies involved in requiring the use of the scientific method to prove the existence of God.

Fallacy #1 – It’s totally arbitrary

The first fallacy of requiring empirical scientific evidence to prove God’s existence is that such a requirement is total arbitrary.

When an atheist demands physical evidence for the existence of God, my first response is, “Why? Why is scientific evidence the only acceptable evidence?”

The usual response is, “Because the only way we can know anything is through physical evidence.”

And again, my response is, “Why?” And I usually get a confused stare, like I’m crazy for even asking such a question.

The point is, there is absolutely no logical reason why such a rule should exist – except for the worldview of the materialistic atheist. The materialistic atheist believes that the material world of matter and energy is all that exists. The thought that anything else could exist is absurd to them. However, material atheism is itself completely arbitrary.

Fallacy #2 – Category Error

A category error is “a type of informal fallacy where things that belong to one grouping are mistakenly placed in another,” or where “a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property.” If someone says, “My coffee is a Republican,” they are committing a category error – coffee cannot be a Republican. Only people can be Republicans. Coffee does not belong to the category of things capable of being a Republican.

The Biblical God is not a material Being. He is not part of the natural universe. By definition, God is supernatural (super- “Above; over;” natural “Present in or produced by nature”). God is in an entirely different category than the natural universe. When one demands physical evidence for the existence of a non-physical Being, they are committing a category error fallacy. It would be like demanding DNA evidence for the existence of black holes, or asking for a test tube full of consciousness, or trying to put time in a bottle.

Fallacy #3 – It’s self-refuting

What do I mean by saying this rule is self-refuting? Basically, this rule, when applied to itself, contradicts itself.

First, the rule requires “empirical results of repeatable experimentation.” There is no way to conduct a repeatable experiment to empirically test whether “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” are required to argue for the supernatural. One cannot use the rule to test the validity of the rule.

Second, the rule requires “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation.” Yet, as I’ve already demonstrated, the rule itself is fallacious.

Fallacy #4 – Even when the rule is met, material atheists ignore the evidence

This fallacy isn’t with the rule itself, per se, but with the way atheists handle the scientific evidence that does support God’s existence.

There is a tremendous amount of “empirical results of repeatable experimentation” and much “cogent, non-fallacious argumentation” that supports the existence of God. The sheer volume of such evidence makes it impossible to present these evidences in this brief blog. A simple Google search will bring up tens of thousands of articles, peer-reviewed papers, and Websites that present the scientific arguments for God. My point is, when confronted with these evidences, the materialistic atheist will reject it anyway. Why? Because to acknowledge the validity of scientific evidence for the existence of God would completely shatter the material atheist’s entire worldview. They would be forced to face the fact that they are wrong. In other words, the material atheist cannot objectively examine scientific evidence that is presented; they must deny it, not because it isn’t scientific, but because it leads to conclusions they don’t want to acknowledge. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Those that reject God must suppress, or hide, the truth. Romans 1 continues:

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Those who reject God ultimately do so, not because of a lack of evidence, but because they foolishly refuse to submit to His authority over their lives. The issue is not evidence; the issue is rebellion.

Christians need to continue to present the Gospel to non-Christians, including materialistic atheists. We must continually pray for the lost, be prepared to present cogent arguments when needed, and rely on the Holy Spirit to us to reach the lost. We must not be swayed by the fallacious arguments used to deny God, but must stand on the truth of God’s Word as the foundation of our beliefs.

Grabbed this off Facebook a couple of minutes after I posted this blog. It seemed to fit.

Pushing People Out of the Church – Part 5

A while back, I read an article entitled, “8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism,” published by skeptic Valerie Tarico on the left-wing, anti-religion, news-and-commentary website Alternet.org

While most of the articles on this site are either offensive or just plain silly, this article caught my interest, because it contains some truths that Christians need to understand.

People who reject Jesus Christ ultimately do so because they choose to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). However, there are also many things that those in the church do to push people away. As Tarico states, “if you read ExChristian testimonials you will notice that quite often church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along.”

I’ve found that I can often learn a lot by listening to what skeptics say about their perceptions of Christianity. This series looks at the eight reasons Tarico highlights.

Reason #5: Disgusting and Immoral Behavior

The priest abuse scandal did more for the New Atheist movement than outspoken anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great) , Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) , Sam Harris (The End of Faith ) or Bill Maher (Religulous) ever could. To make matters worse (or better, depending on your point of view) Bill Donohue of the Catholic League seems to be doing everything possible to fan those flames: On top of the abuse itself, followed by cover-ups, he is now insisting that the best defense of church property is a good offense against the victims, and has vowed to fight them “one by one.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation publishes a bi-monthly newspaper that includes a regular feature: The Black Collar Crime Blotter. It features fraud, drug abuse, sex crimes and more by Protestant as well as Catholic clergy. The obvious purpose is to move readers from religion isn’t true to religion isn’t benign to religion is abhorrent and needs fighting. Moral outrage is a powerful emotion.

The Fallacy of Using Morality as an Argument Against God


For the atheist, life exists purely as the result of chance mutations occurring within a chemical soup. People, trees, bacteria, and frogs are nothing more than complex chemical reactions. Morality is nothing more than just another biochemical process. Within an atheistic worldview, there is no basis for determining value for anything aside from human opinion. Morality cannot logically exist for the atheist. Good and evil cannot possibly exist within a universe that defines everything by chance. In an atheistic belief system, only human preference can define standards of right and wrong and such preferences may shift from person to person and culture to culture. For an atheist to argue that anything is immoral is irrational from an atheistic worldview.

Yet, atheists do believe in absolute morality. They do believe that certain actions are absolutely wrong, and others are absolutely right. Why? Because that’s how reality works. In the real world, absolute right and wrong do exist. The atheist must accept the existence of moral absolutes in order to function in reality, despite the fact that absolute morality cannot logically exist in their worldview.

Morality can only exist if there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. Atheism has no such absolute standard. Such an absolute standard can exist only because the absolute God exists. Atheists cannot acknowledge this; they must believe in absolute morality without acknowledging the Absolute basis for such a belief. Such a belief is irrational and illogical, yet they cling to it, because they refuse to acknowledge God.

Christian Immorality

Although the argument is irrational from the atheistic worldview, Tarico makes a valid point. Immoral behavior by Christians is a serious roadblock for many to receive the Gospel. Although it’s true that many of the examples cited by atheists involve people who aren’t true Christians, many examples do involve true believers. When Christians sin, non-believers notice. And, since all Christians sin, non-believers are going to see Christians do some horrible things.

How should Christians respond to this?

  1. We need to understand that what makes us Christians is not our superior morality. What makes us Christians is reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin separates us from God; the righteousness of Jesus Christ restores our relationship. It’s not our morality; it’s all Jesus. Not only do we need to understand this truth, but we need to make sure both the non-believers and other Christians in our lives understand this as well.
  2. We need to live our lives in obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we do sin, we need to repent. We need to be transparent about our sin, and sincere in our repentance. Those around us will see our sin; they need to see the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we overcome the sin.
  3. We need to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in leadership roles. We need to pray for strength to avoid temptation and sin, and we need to pray for sincere repentance when sin occurs.
  4. We need to hold each other accountable, especially our Christian leaders. When sin becomes known, we need to hold each other accountable for that sin, and for repentance.

Nobody likes a hypocrite. Christians claim that Jesus Christ makes a difference in our lives. When non-believers see Christians embrace sin, it seems reasonable to see the hypocrisy as negation of the claim that Jesus Christ changes lives. We need to be honest about our shortcomings, and absolutely not view sin as acceptable. We need to allow others to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We will never be perfect; but when we fall short, we need to humbly do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation.

There are many people, both inside and outside of the church, who are undecided about where they stand in relation to Jesus Christ. Our job is to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to draw people toward Him, not to push people away. How we respond to sin is a major factor in whether we push people away, or draw them toward Jesus Christ.

The Irrationality of the Modern Concept of Intolerance

One of the most overused buzzwords today is the word intolerant. Anyone who opposes abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, embryonic stem cell research, or government controlled health care as intolerant and a bigot. During an interview with Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy was asked about the Chick-fil-A’s support of the traditional family. He responded,

“Well, guilty as charged…We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”

Cathy’s comments sparked intense media frenzy. Cathy was labeled an intolerant, anti-gay, homophobic bigot. Chick-fil-A restaurants were picketed by opponents, and proponents flocked to show their support.

Christians who take a stand against any belief or practice that is opposed to Biblical teaching are labeled intolerant. It is intolerant to say homosexuality is a sin; it is intolerant to call abortion murder; it is intolerant to suggest that men and women should have different roles; it is intolerant to claim that non-Christians will go to Hell.

Is Christianity intolerant? Does the Bible teach intolerance? What does it mean to be intolerant?

What intolerance means

According Dictionary.com, the word intolerance means:

  1. lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.

The word tolerate means:

  1. to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
  2. to endure without repugnance; put up with.

In other words, the traditional meaning of intolerance is an unwillingness to allow or put up with things with which one disagrees. It involves prohibiting or hindering practices that one finds offensive or disagreeable. Under this traditional understanding of tolerance, a person cannot tolerate something with which they agree; to tolerate means to disagree, but to permit in spite of disagreement.

In modern American politically correct thinking, however, there has been a subtle shift in this meaning. Intolerance now means to oppose any belief or practice. If a person thinks any practice or belief is wrong or immoral, they are now labeled intolerant. Note the subtle difference. Intolerance used to mean prohibiting or hindering beliefs and practices one disagrees with. Now, it means to simply disagree. If a Christian merely believes abortion is a sin, they are now labeled intolerant. If one merely suggests that same-gender marriage is wrong, they are now intolerant bigots. The meaning has shifted from prohibiting that with which one disagrees to merely disagreeing.

Where does this new concept of intolerance come from?

This new concept of intolerance as merely believing an idea or practice is wrong is firmly rooted in the philosophy of relativism. According to Dictionary.com, relativism is “any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments.” In other words, what’s true for you may not be true for me; there is no absolute truth. Relativism is a core belief in humanism, liberalism, and postmodernism. It’s the foundation of American political correctness, and, unfortunately, many Christians have been seduced by this philosophy as well.

In any worldview based in relativism, it is meaningless to say something is absolutely wrong. Right and wrong are entirely determined by circumstances, culture, and personal beliefs. For a relativist, the statement, “You should not do X because it is wrong,” is nonsense. A practice may be wrong for some people in certain circumstances, but since truth is relative, and absolutes do not exist, one cannot claim a practice is always wrong, or wrong for anyone but themselves.

When the Bible states that adultery is wrong, this teaching is inconceivable to a relativist. There are no absolutes, so claiming adultery is wrong is nonsense. It’s like saying blue is wrong, or vanilla ice cream is wrong. Right and wrong are totally determined by the preferences of the individual, depending on the circumstances.

There are several problems with relativism. First, the concept is self-contradictory. According to relativism, absolute truth does not exist. However, this belief is held as absolute truth! If absolute right and wrong do not exist, then anyone who believes is absolute right and wrong is wrong. But, since wrong does not exist, they cannot be wrong. The relativist absolutely believes that absolutes do not exist! On this basis alone, relativism should be rejected – it’s a logical impossibility.

Living with an irrational worldview

When one actually tries to put a relativistic worldview into practice, the irrationality becomes even more pronounced. Since relativism posits that absolute right and wrong do not exist, it would be illogical to say murder, rape, child abuse, or assault are absolutely wrong. Yet, in practice, almost all relativists would say they are absolutely wrong. How do they get around this paradox? Most would state that a practice is immoral only if it harms someone else. So, in practice, there are absolutes; it is absolutely immoral to harm others. The philosophy of relativism completely unravels when put into practice. Yet, most people who hold to this view don’t understand the irrationality of their beliefs.

Let’s take it a step further. Since absolute right and wrong do not exist (except, of course, that we cannot harm others), the concept of sin is inconceivable. When a Christian says that abortion is sin, the relativist is forced to conclude that the Christian is wrong in his belief. But, this is a contradiction – right and wrong don’t exist for the relativist!

This brings us back to the concept of intolerance. For the relativist, any claim that an idea or practice is wrong is intolerant. Right and wrong don’t exist, so when the Bible calls certain practices sin, it completely contradicts the very foundation of the relativist’s worldview.

When applied to the gay marriage issue, when a Christian says gay marriage is wrong, the relativist is forced into the illogical conclusion that the Christian is wrong. The Christian is claiming that absolutes exist, that gay marriage is absolutely wrong. The relativist finds this position is intolerable – in the traditional sense of refusing to put up with or respect. The Christian belief cannot be permitted, because, if true, it means the relativist’s entire worldview is wrong. What’s ironic is that in calling the Christian belief intolerant, it’s actually the relativist that is intolerant.

The modern definition of intolerance is intolerant of other views, and is inescapably hypocritical. Those who hold to this view of intolerance are unavoidably hypocrites. It is hypocritical to be intolerant of others for their perceived intolerance, yet the modern definition of tolerance forces it.

What the Bible says

Romans chapter 1 gives a very clear description of the consequences of this sort of thinking:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

The Bible makes it clear that all people know that absolute truth does exist; but those who reject God suppress the truth. God reveals Himself to everyone, but most people refuse to accept Him, and come up with other philosophies and beliefs to replace the truth.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Rejection of God produces futility in thinking. It leads to irrational philosophies like relativism. Any worldview or philosophy apart from the Word of God is foolishness. It leads to belief systems that are completely irrational, yet are clung to by people because they reject the only Truth.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie…

This is why, I believe, so many people get upset with Christians like Dan Cathy for saying he supports the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Non-Christians are trying to suppress the truth; Christians who speak out bring the truth back out in the open.

Is God intolerant? Guilty as charged.

The Bible makes it clear that God does not tolerate sin: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a). The Bible also makes it clear that the ONLY solution for sin is Jesus Christ: “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). God does not tolerate sin, because sin separates us from Him. God’s love demands that while He cannot tolerate sin, He has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Because of His holiness, God cannot tolerate sin; but, because of His love, He cannot leave us without a Savior from that sin.

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church Part 3

The Barna Group, a leading Christian research and resource company that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture, published the article last September entitled, “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” This is the third in a series of articles in which I give my take on Barna’s conclusions.

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

The creation / evolution battle has been front and center in the culture war that rages in America.  Those opposed to the Bible and Biblical Creationism have been very successful in redefining the conflict between evolution and the Bible’s teaching on creation as “science vs. religion.” This fallacious concept has infiltrated the thinking of much of the church.  Evolution is not science; it is an anti-Christian religious philosophy disguised as science.  Unfortunately, most Christian leaders do not understand this distinction.  Many recognize that atheistic evolution is incompatible with the Bible, but because they lump evolution and science together, many Christian leaders and pastors are also suspicious of science.  Then, this misinformed, anti-science attitude is preached from the pulpit and taught in the Sunday School classroom.  There should be no tension between Christianity and science; the conflict is between Christianity and evolution.

How should the church address the concerns expressed in the Barna study?  Over a third of those surveyed stated that, “Christians are too confident they know all the answers.”  Perhaps many in the church have a problem with pride?  I know I do not have all the answers.  But, I know where all of the answers can be found – in the Bible.  This is the message that the church must communicate:  the church does not have all the answers; pastors do not have all the answers; ministries like Answers in Genesis, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, and Focus on the Family do not have all the answers; only the Bible ultimately has the answers to all of the important questions of life.

The other issue with the perception that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” is the post-modern, relativistic belief that truth is ultimately unknowable.  Many young people have been indoctrinated with the idea that truth is relative, that whatever one believes is truth for them.  This illogical, fallacious belief has also infiltrated the thinking of many church leaders.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV), and “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32 NKJV).  Absolute truth exists; Jesus Christ is absolute Truth; and the Bible communicates the absolute truth.  Church leaders need to get this concept firmly ingrained in their thinking, and they need to communicate this clearly to their congregations.

How can the church change the perception that it is anti-science and out of step with the scientific world?  First, we need to properly frame the issues.  The church should not be anti-science.  God gave us science so that we can better understand and utilize the world He created for us.  Science has given us medical advances to cure disease, agricultural advances to produce better crops, and technology that allows us to share the Gospel to wider audiences in more diverse ways.  The philosophy and pseudo-science of evolution are anti-Christian; science is a gift from God.

Secondly, the church needs to stop teaching spiritual truth in isolation from the rest of reality.  Truth is truth; there is no distinction between spiritual truth and scientific truth.  Rather than avoiding scientific discussion, the church must embrace it.  Pastors and teachers need to be informed about the current scientific issues, and teach how to apply Biblical truth to these issues.  Young adults would have far less problem “staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries” if they were taught why there is no conflict between Biblical truth and real science.  1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we need to be prepared to defend the Gospel.  The church needs to equip science-minded Christians to stand up for the Gospel, and all Christians to defend the Gospel against the attacks of evolutionary pseudo-science.

The Age of the Earth and the Character of God

When taken at face value, without consideration of any extra-Biblical information, the account in Genesis 1-11 clearly describes the creation of the universe in six regular, 24-hour days, only a few thousand years ago.  Until recently, this is how it has been understood by the vast majority of Biblical scholars, and most critics of the young-earth position will concede this point.  Within the last couple of hundred years, however, an increasing number of scholars have reinterpreted these passages, in a variety of ways, to incorporate notions from other sources that would indicate that the universe is billions, not thousands, of years old.  This concept of a universe that is billions of years old does not come from the Bible itself, but rather from extra-Biblical philosophical, scientific, and historical sources.

How should Christians understand the question of the age of the earth?  Numerous books, articles, lectures, videos and websites have been created to debate the pros and cons of the various views.  Rather than rehashing the specifics of these views, I would like to focus on what the old-earth view held by many Christians today says about God’s character and nature.

If we presuppose the existence of God, and that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), there are some serious theological problems if the earth is actually billions of years old.  How can the Word of God describe a universe that is only a few thousand years old, if it is actually much, much older?

Some have suggested that that the Bible was never intended to be a book of science, but rather a book of spiritual truth.  They would claim that Genesis 1-11 was written so that primitive people could understand spiritual truth in the context of their unscientific culture, and that we, as advanced people, must reinterpret the text to fit science.  If this belief is true, it means that God was somehow unable to communicate spiritual truth to so-called primitive people while at the same time describing the creation of the physical world in a scientifically accurately way they could understand.  This means that God is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful.  He didn’t know how to accurately communicate both spiritual and scientific truth at the same time.  He couldn’t explain both, so He picked spiritual truth over scientific truth.  Such a god is not the omnipotent and omniscient God presented elsewhere in the Bible.  A god that can only explain spiritual truth at the expense of scientific accuracy would be a very limited god, and not a very good writer.  Such a god could not be the God Who parted the Red Sea, saved Daniel from the lion’s den, and raised Jesus from the dead.

Another option is that God knew how to communicate both the spiritual and the scientific truth accurately, but for whatever reason, He chose not to do so.  This would mean that God deliberately communicated scientific inaccuracies.  God is then a deceiver and a liar.  Again, such a god is not the God of the Bible.

If the universe is actually billions of years old, then Genesis 1-11 is wrong, and if it is wrong, then God is either a limited being with poor writing skills, or else He is a liar and deceiver.  Neither of these options is an acceptable description of the omnipotent, omniscient, and holy God of Christianity.  Yet, this is exactly what an attempt to cram billions of years into the Genesis text necessitates.

Understand, I am not saying that Christians who believe in an old-earth also believe that God is limited or a liar.  They believe in the same all-powerful, all-knowing, holy God as those who hold to the young-earth position.  However, when they do so, they are being inconsistent and foolish in their beliefs.  They must ignore the logical implications of their understanding.  They hold two mutually exclusive views to both be true, and since two mutually exclusive propositions cannot both be true at the same time, one of these beliefs must be wrong.  A belief in the character and nature of the God of the Bible, and a belief in a universe that is billions of years old, are incompatible and contradictory, and to hold both beliefs simultaneously is irrational.

An omnipotent, omniscient, and truthful God could not have inspired Genesis 1-11 to describe the universe being created in six literal days a few thousand years ago, unless it is historically and scientifically true.  God’s nature and character demand it.

The Absurdity of the Alternative

For a brief time in my mid-teens, I became an atheist.  I did not believe that an unseen, unprovable God could exist.

What finally convinced me that God does exist is the absurdity of the alternative.

If there is no God, then the entire universe created itself, from absolutely nothing, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  A random, uncaused Big Bang of nothingness caused everything.  And this is far more absurd than believing, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Think through the absurdity of the following implications of atheism and the Big Bang:

  1.  All of the matter and energy in the entire universe – billions of galaxies – came from absolutely nothing.
  2.  The laws of nature, math, and logic – those absolute, universal constants that bring order to the universe – were accidentally caused by a ginormous explosion.  Explosions should cause randomness, not order.
  3. Nothingness shouldn’t explode.  And nothingness shouldn’t cause everything.
  4. Intelligence came by chance from non-intelligence.
  5. Consciousness came by chance from unconsciousness.
  6. All of the information in the universe, from DNA codes to Shakespeare, is a result of chance.
  7. All of the things that make us human – our thoughts, emotions, morality, reasoning, loves, hopes, and dreams – are not real; they are just random, chance chemical reactions, and came from nothingness.

If God does not exist, matter and energy should not exist; the laws of nature, math, and logic should not exist; intelligence and consciousness should not exist; information should not exist; and humanity should not exist.  Yet, they do exist.

If not God, then what?  God must exist; the alternative is absurd and preposterous.