Ψευδοπροφήτης (False Prophet) Francis Encourages Atheists Again

By Cris Putnam
pope-francisPaul warned Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2 Ti 4:3). Of course such misleading teaching has been occurring ever since Paul’s day but the Universalist rhetoric from Rome is becoming astounding. Pope Frank is doing back flips for the approval of the world albeit this says more about Frank than then world (Jn 15:19).

That’s right, Pope Frank is at it again… telling atheists they get a free pass to heaven without accepting the Gospel that is.  Of course, this is not the first time as he said it back in May (here and here) but the Vatican was quick to post a reply that,  “no atheists surely do go to hell” here. Appaently the so-called infallible vicar begs to differ and has written a letter to the editor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica indicating his opinion that atheists who obey their conscience merit God’s favor and apparently are so justified to salvation.

A good Bible dictionary defines sin as “the failure or refusal of human beings to live the life intended for them by God their creator.”[1] However, Pope Frank does not understand the basic concept of sin and allows that atheists who obey their conscience (no matter how seared) are justified by their good works. Pope Frank writes:

First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.[2]

Apparently the ψευδοπροφήτης wants us to believe the issue for those who do not believe in God is to merely obey their conscience. Not so… God demands they repent of their unbelief. While God certainly wants us to behave in morally virtuous ways, good actions are not what merits God’s ultimate approval. In justification, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer, which cancels God’s judgment on the believer. A truly biblical Christian theology leads to the conclusion expressed by Baptist theologian Dr. Millard Erickson:

Justification is a forensic act imputing the righteousness of Christ to the believer; it is not an actual infusing of holiness into the individual. It is a matter of declaring the person righteous, as a judge does in acquitting the accused. It is not a matter of making the person righteous or altering his or her actual spiritual condition.[3]

So it follows that no one earns their salvation. Justification is by faith alone (Rom3:28). An idea that is expounded on and clarified in Ephesians:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.(Eph 2:4–9)

While Frank is correct that disobeying one’s conscience constitutes sin (1 Cor 8:28-29), he misses the mark by a wide margin. Scripture is clear that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). Unbelief is sin. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). Jesus taught that the mile-wide road advocated by Pope Frank amounts to a false Gospel:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7:13–14).

The terms “few” and “narrow” seem to escape the pontiff. He is indeed a false prophet of the worst sort. He is pied piper to perdition encouraging the atheist in his rebellious suppression of the truth  (Rom 1:18). This is exactly the sort of false teaching we expect from the one with “horns like a lamb, who speaks like a dragon.” (Re 13:11)



[1] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 951.

[2] “Pope Francis’ Letter to the Founder of “La Repubblica” Italian Newspaper” Vatican City, September 11, 2013 accessed September 12, 2013,  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-letter-to-the-founder-of-la-repubblica-italian-newspaper?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zenit%2Fenglish+%28ZENIT+English%29

[3]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 969.

Science Meet Your Maker

Faith is not exactly a highly esteemed word in the scientific community. Richard Dawkins says faith is belief without evidence. In contrast, the Bible says faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). But what is faith evidence of?  The writer of Hebrews is pointing to the fact that there are realities for which we have no material evidence, but they are no less real. Although we have no certainty apart from faith, it enables us to know that they exist with genuine certainty. Specific examples will be given below but to naturalist’s chagrin, science itself is fundamentally founded on faith. In fact, there could be no science at all without this faith. Historian Joseph Needham explains that despite the intellectual and artistic sophistication of China in ancient and medieval times, science never developed there:

 

There was no confidence that the code of nature’s laws could ever be unveiled and read, because there was no assurance that a divine being, even more rational than our-selves, had ever formulated such a code capable of being read. [1]

In other words, the Chinese thought, “Why bother?” If the universe is merely a chance combination of matter, the idea that it would be governed by rational laws seems farfetched. For science to be a reasonable pursuit, then at its very foundation must lie a profound faith in the rational intelligibility of the universe. Honest scientists admit this. For example, Albert Einstein once marveled, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible”. His astonishment had its fruition in the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to be this way. He wrote further:

Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.[2]

Within the confines of naturalism and materialism there is no rational justification for why the laws of physics that work on earth should also apply to the stars trillions of light years away. In like fashion, there is absolutely no logical necessity for a universe that even obeys laws at all, let alone one that abides by the rules of human conceived mathematics. As the example given by Einstein above concerning Newton’s gravity shows, it is not merely the fact that that the universe is intelligible that is amazing, rather it is the mathematical nature of that comprehensibility which is even more miraculous.

Atheistic scientists today take for granted the idea that the universe operates according to humanly comprehensible laws. They have conveniently forgotten the bedrock of faith science is founded upon. Naturalism and materialist philosophies do not account for a rational universe. The idea of a rational universe was first invented by the pre-Socratic Greeks like Pythagoras. However, the concept was diminished by paganism as most Greeks believed the Gods controlled the universe at their ever dramatic whims. It comes down to a worldview issue more than an evidential one. Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science John Lennox writes:

Our answer to the question of why the universe is rationally intelligible will in fact depend, not on whether we are scientists or not, but on whether we are theists or naturalists. Theists will say that the intelligibility of the universe is grounded in the nature of the ultimate rationality of God: both the real world and the mathematics are traceable to the Mind of God who created both the universe and the human mind. It is therefore, not surprising when the mathematical theories spun by human minds created in the image of God’s Mind, find ready application in a universe whose architect was that same creative mind.[3]

That being the case, from where can we trace the origin of this modern scientific faith in the rational intelligibility of the universe? History points to Christianity. In Science and the Modern World Alfred North Whitehead concludes that “faith in the possibility of science … is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.”[4] Dinesh D’Souza takes this argument a step further by arguing:

Christianity reinvigorated the idea of an ordered cosmos by envisioning the universe as following laws that embody the rationality of God the creator. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The term used here for word is logos, a Greek term meaning “thought” or “rationality.” God is sacred and made the universe, and the universe operates lawfully in accordance with divine reason.[5]

The implications of this line of reasoning go much deeper than science’s utter reliance on faith. It also clearly defines the limits of science in a more profound way. The common complaint made by the naturalist about Intelligent Design is that it does not meet their definition of science. But are we searching for truth or are we searching for a rationalization for naturalism? There is truth available outside the scope of narrowly defined reductionist science. It is only one way of obtaining knowledge, not the only way. Mathematical knowledge cannot be known by scientific methods. It is simply discovered and presupposed, while scientific knowledge is gained by sense experience. Sense experience does not justify 1 + 1 = 2. It is self-evidently true and science relies on it. The rules of logic are similar. Truths such as first person introspective knowledge about my own body are much more certain than scientifically derived facts. The problem is deeper than naturalists want to admit.

As it stands today, I contend that by its own rules science is incapable of determining the origin of the universe. Why? The Big Bang theory infers that there was a point in time where everything came into being including time. But that paradoxically includes the laws of physics. Accordingly one cannot coherently use physics to describe the origin of physics. If the universe was produced outside the laws of physics, then its genesis meets the basic definition of the term miracle. Science meet you maker.



[1] Joseph Needham, The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969), 327.

 

[2] Albert Einstein, Letters to Soloivine: 1906-1955 (Yucca Valley: Citadel Publishing. 2000), 31.

 

[3] John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Oxford: Lion Publishing, 2007) 61.

 

[4] Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1953). 16.

 

[5] D’Souza,Dinesh.What’s So Great About Christianity, (Washington: Regenery Publishing, 2007), 64.

 

 

Cruel Logic: Ideas Have Consequences


While atheism has gained popularity since the bestseller The God Delusion was published, I wonder if its neophytes have truly thought it through. For instance, in his opus on genetic determinism, The River Out of Eden, Professor Richard Dawkins infamously wrote:

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic
replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people
are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason
in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely
the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom,
no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but
blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E. Housman
put it:

For Nature, heartless, witless Nature
Will neither care nor know.

DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance
to its music.

Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden, (New York: Harper Collins, 1995), 133.

 

This is precisely where that worldview leaves you… think about it. Now consider this award winning short film Cruel Logic by Brian Godawa:

Atheism invariably leads one to a material reductionist view of reality like that of Dawkins. There can be no real morality if we are merely dancing to the rhythm’s of our DNA. A reductio ad absurdum is a form of argumentation in which you follow an idea to its logical conclusion deriving an absurdity. If the conclusion is absurd to you it is best to discard the idea.

 

Atheism and the Escape From Reason (Craig vs. Krauss)


I watched the William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss debate on “Is there Evidence for God” hosted at North Carolina State University last week via the live webcast. For more details, and to watch video of the debate, check out the debate website here. William Lane Craig won hands down. It was basically a rout.

I was astonished that Krauss’ first tactic was to deny logic and reason. He even took off his button down shirt to reveal a t-shirt that boasted 2 + 2 = 5. No kidding…

It is a predictable yet unfortunate corollary of God denial. In his treatise on the psychology of atheism R.C. Sproul wrote:

To be sure, the twentieth century has shown a tendency to ignore the law of contradiction as a necessary principle for coherent discourse. In reaction against previous forms of rationalism, many contemporary thinkers, particularly of the existentialist school, have maintained that truth indeed may be contradictory—that is, truth rises above logical categories and cannot be restricted by the law of contradiction. On the other hand, thinkers who have continued to operate using the law of contradiction have been charged with perpetuating Aristotle’s system of truth, which can no longer function in modern thought.” [1]

It also reminds me of Francis Schaeffer’s Escape From Reason. Schaeffer argues that because modern man has separated himself from God he has no rational spiritual connection. However, he cannot really live in his imagined deterministic materialistic universe so he leaps into the irrational upper story. Krauss is using quantum theory as his upper story — his blind faith in the irrational.

It’s so ironic that atheists represent themselves as defenders of reason when they invariably abandon it in their argumentation. It boils down to the fundamental flaw in their worldview. If the universe is a deterministic product of physical laws and matter, then there really is no reason and all science, debate and human thought is completely arbitrary. Accordingly, Intellectually honest atheism must ultimately arrive at nihilism. At 1:02:10 in the debate video Dr. Craig quipped, “if the price of atheism is irrationality then I will leave them to it.” That was amusing… Yet, ultimately it is profoundly sad. Hopefully, we might lead a few out of it as well.  After the debate, William Lane Craig commented on his facebook account:

I was frankly flabbergasted by Krauss’s opening salvo attacking logic and the probability calculus.  Can you imagine what people would think if, in order to defend a Christian worldview, the believer had to reject logic and probability theory?  This was the worst of several outrageous claims Krauss made in the course of the debate.

Then he used the “given an infinite number of universes then there must be one in which contingent beings exist” canard. I always laugh at this sophomoric reasoning. Dr. Craig could just grant that premise and conclude that given an infinite number of universes there must be one with evidence for God. Debate over. But of course you can conclude anything given an infinite, which is why it’s a dumb argument. It just goes to show you the veracity of Paul’s argument from 2000 years ago:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Ro 1:21)

 

Apologetics 315 has posted full Debate MP3 Audio here


[1] R.C. Sproul, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists? : Why Atheists Believe in Unbelief, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1978).

Movie Review: Transcendent Man …the despair of modern existence


I saw a really well made documentary film last weekend: Transcendent Man. It is a biographical sketch of visionary computer scientist and inventor Ray Kurzweil. The strength of the film is that shows the heart and soul of the man. Kurzweil is a bonafide genius, a fact which certainly comes through in the film, but overall he is still a profoundly tragic figure. He is extremely talented and successful. He has much to be grateful to God for. Yet he denies his creator (Rom 1:21). Many of you are aware of my recent research in the area of transhumanism as it interfaces with a Christian worldview. My argument is that the two are incompatible worldviews. Of course that research was speaking to bible believing Christians, I would write it differently to nonbelievers. If you do not have Christ, I suppose all you have to hope for is transhumanism. I believe it is a false hope (Heb. 9:27). However, whether you accept the authority of scripture or not, Ray Kurzweil’s tragic desperation is laid bare by this film.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Th. 4:13)

Modern man has no hope without God. Life is precious and yet fleeting (Jas. 4:14). Not only does Kurzweil believe that he can personally achieve immortality, he believes he can bring his dead father back to life using computer science. Having lost my own father to an untimely stroke in 2005, I certainly have empathy. My Dad was only 67 and I had hoped to garner much more of his wisdom. I spent most of my young adulthood in rebellion, now those years seem wasted. I would like to have them back but I know better. Ray doesn’t accept death. I suppose his own hype has gone to his head because he is determined to defeat it. He has collected all of his father’s writings with the audacious hope of recreating him from the raw data. Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.

The film lays bare the utter desperation and futility of modern man. Kurzweil is a naturalistic scientist and he does not appear to have any belief in a theistic God. Naturalism and materialism leave the scientist in a cold, hopeless, mechanical universe. I think Richard Dawkins has encapsulated it well, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”[i] Atheists necessarily live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. The internal conflict is that no matter how convincingly they might protest, the atheist cannot really live with the universe Dawkins describes. They leap into the infinite. This film Transcendent Man is a shining evidence of that.

Kurzweil is lashing out at the scientific determinism that leaves him so hopeless. He is embracing the irrational. Francis Schaeffer’s seminal work The Escape from Reason has an answer for transhumanism. Schaeffer wrote, “So man, being made in the image of God, was made to have a personal relationship with Him. Man’s relationship is upward and not merely downward. If you are dealing with twentieth-century people, this becomes a very crucial difference. Modern man sees his relationship downward to the animal and to the machine. The Bible rejects this view of who man is. On the side of personality you are related to God. You are not infinite but finite; nevertheless you are truly personal; you are created in the image of the personal God who exists.”[ii] It is especially poignant that he associated modern man to the animal and machine. Darwinism is the starting point in transhumanist thought. Despite his seemingly naïve optimism, Kurzweil’s worldview looks downward to the animal and then forward to the machine bypassing God altogether. His presupposition of naturalism limits his search for truth.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ec. 3:11)

Because God has written eternity into men’s hearts they instinctively seek the eternal. C.S. Lewis said it this way, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”[iii] Ray is not being irrational in seeking the infinite or the “upper story” as Francis Schaeffer put it. He is being irrational by denying his creator. I applaud this film for including criticisms of Ray’s ideas. Christianity was represented well by Dr. Chuck Missler and William Hurlbut M.D.. Those links tell you about the men, but I want to talk about what they said in the film.

Missler, a childhood computer prodigy himself, is a Bible teacher and lifelong student of prophecy. Missler offers Ray a salient word of correction, “God is who He is… And our challenge should be to know Him, not to try to create Him.”[iv] Missler believes we are on the precipice of the end times and I tend to agree with him but there is no guarantee it will be within my lifetime. Chuck contends that Kurzweil is going to run out of time. Perhaps he is correct?  Because when I ponder the extent to which man is violating the sanctity of life, I do not think the Lord will stand for it much longer. The other noteworthy Christian voice, Hurlbut, is also very impressive. He is a medical Doctor who serves on the Presidents’ bioethics commission. He argues that Kurzweil has vastly underestimated biological complexity. Kurzweil is an expert on the computational end not the biological. While we might have the number crunching ability in the near future, mapping the human brain is the limiting factor. It is being worked on. Yet even if the brain is reverse engineered, you are not your brain.  This is a fact Kurzweil doesn’t seem to get and it is because he begins with naturalism. A belief which ultimately reduces to materialism, the belief that matter and energy are fundamentally all that exist.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Pr 9:10)

While it is a widely held position by scientists, philosophical materialism is incoherent. In fact, the things that are most important to us don’t exist in the physical world, but they really do exist. Things like love, friendship, education, knowledge, ideas, virtues, morals and even scientific theories. All of those things are not physical. They are not made of atoms. It follows that whatever linking there might be between mental states like thoughts and feelings with biochemical brain-states, the connection is not identity. Brain-states have a specific location in the brain but mental states do not. Brain-states exist independent of a perceiver but mental states are not. In other words your brain chemistry may play a role in your thought life but chemistry is not your thoughts. Consciousness is something more than a physical process. Kurzweil would probably argue that it is a function of information but this is also incoherent.

He cannot explain the connection between the material and immaterial. Mental events cause physical events. For example, your mental decision to throw a ball causes it to fly. In a similar fashion, physical events cause mental events. You see a ball flying toward your face and become excited. Clearly there are laws that govern mind-body communication. Mental and physical events are related but distinct. Scientific materialism and naturalism cannot adequately explain this. This called the mind/body problem in philosophy. Kurzweil smuggles the immaterial in the back door as “information patterns” but his reasoning is incoherent because he cannot account for the connection. He starts from the wrong place. The only satisfactory explanation for the connection between the two is a theistic one. God sustains the coordination between mind and body (Col. 1:17). No matter how brilliant he is, no matter how accurate his calculations, Ray Kurzweil can never get the right answer because he started from the wrong beginning. Renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga has put it this way, “If we don’t know that there is such a person as God, we don’t know the first thing (the most important thing) about ourselves, each other and our world. This is because… the most important truths about us and them, is that we have been created by the Lord, and utterly depend upon him for our continued existence.”[v] Indeed it is the most important thing, it is the beginning of all wisdom. One is lost with out it.

I ask you to join me in prayer for Ray Kurzweil and all the lost transhumanists who instinctively know that there is more to life than blind pitiless indifference. Pray that they will come to realize there really is a God who is there and that he can be known. Christians do not need to fear death. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we exclaim,
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”(1 Co. 15:5)


[i]Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85.

[ii]Francis A. Schaeffer, The Escape from Reason in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview. (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982).

[iii] C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity, (NY: Harper Collins, 1980), 137.

[iv] Chuck Missler quoted from “Transcendent Man Film Trailer” 2:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntY01qoIdus (accessed March 17, 2011).

[v] Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief http://www.ccel.org/ccel/plantinga/warrant3.vi.ii.iv.ii.html (accessed March 17, 2011).