T.C. Howitt is a Bible-believing Christian who writes for a blog called Oil for Light.
Howitt took issue with my article, A jealous God is insane and wrote the following reply. I will respond next week.
Refutation of a faithful atheist - By T.C. Howitt
(Note: I use the word God, with a capital ‘G’, to refer to the one living God of the Bible, the coeternal Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.)
Is it insane to believe in a jealous God? The only point of this atheist’s disjointed and self-congratulatory blog post is to hammer on the assertion that Christians are insane for believing in God and that he is sane for rejecting Him.
Let’s dispense with the layman’s clinical diagnosis of the mental health of Christians compared to himself and focus on the rationality or reasonableness of believing in God over atheism.
The atheist says, “The Second Commandment declares that god is a jealous god. How can this insanity be ignored? Would the sole creator of life and billions of galaxies really need a bunch of gnats stroking his ego? Is it more likely that a jealous god created jealous men, or jealous men created a jealous god? I have to go with the latter.”
Atheists are fond of inventing their own hypothetical gods and then judging their worthiness, inevitably settling on one idol to worship: themselves. Here we have an atheist inventing a god who needs “a bunch of gnats stroking his ego,” and in addition to judging this god unworthy, he decides that this invented god was invented by men. This argument is chasing its own tail, which is not only futile – it’s irrational.
Let’s tear apart this straw god who needs “a bunch of gnats stroking his ego” by comparing it to the true and living God.
God does not have an ego, a theoretical construct invented to serve the Freudian model of the human psyche. Assigning an ego to God will indeed help an atheist dismiss Him as created by men in their own imaginations.
God doesn’t need anything we can give Him. He said, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (Psa 50:12).
God is jealous for His people as a dedicated husband is jealous for his serially adulterous wife (Ezekiel 16:35-43). The spiritual significance of that passage, which is really about whoring around with idols as an atheist does, can only be lost on those who have been blinded by the god of this world (2Co 4:3-4). God’s jealousy is righteous, just as His wrath is righteous, whereas the jealousy and wrath of men is usually wicked and arises out of weakness.
God raises up His chosen ones, and having called them, He justifies them in Jesus Christ, and having justified them, he glorifies them (Rom 8:30). This raises God’s children from “a bunch of gnats” to a holy people in Jesus Christ.
The purpose of God bringing the world into existence and creating man in His own image is so that He may be glorified through the redemption of His fallen children. Declaring the end from the beginning, that His name shall be glorified, God is doing a work that in no way resembles “a bunch of gnats stroking his ego” (Isa 46:10, 43:7).
The atheist says, “Good Christians are not good because of this Bible, but despite it. A conduit for expressing goodness and love does not have to be god or Jesus. There are many other channels available that don’t have all the baggage. If you are going to be a good Christian in spite of the Bible, be a Cafeteria Christian. Just pick and choose a few verses that you like and can repeat over and over again. Disregard the rest. Just pretend that most of the pages don’t exist.”
The atheist worldview doesn’t account for what “good” even means. Perhaps the atheist subscribes to the theory that morals are illusions based on electrochemical impulses, an instinct evolved for selfishly propagating our genes. Not only is that arbitrary and inconclusive, but it will leave him with moral relativism and the type of evolutionary cultishness that led to eugenics and all the godless atrocities committed by WWII-era dictatorships.
That would be the rational, consistent conclusion of the materialist worldview, but I know this atheist doesn’t subscribe to the sort of atheistic fundamentalism embraced by the socialists, communists and fascists of the last century. Instead, in order to explain his own moral understanding, he must steal from my worldview. His claim is not only baseless, but it’s irrational.
Here’s the rational explanation, given by the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of man:
You’re given knowledge of what’s right and wrong – aka a “moral compass” – by the grace of God. Even unbelievers know right from wrong (Rom 2:14). It’s God, and not the Bible, that gives people this sense of right and wrong. The Bible conveys the gospel that you’re incapable of doing what’s good in the first place, that you need a savior and that savior is Jesus Christ.
Regarding “cafeteria Christianity,” we know exactly the verses this atheist likes and which ones he pretends don’t exist: he likes the ones that build him up in moral character, taking the sagely advice from Jesus Christ, and he discards the verses that convict him of the very sin that necessitates the savior in Jesus Christ. When a thief breaks into a house, he doesn’t steal everything in sight: he only goes for the stuff that will pay off in the short term to serve his other criminal habits.
I do appreciate this atheist’s dedication as an unbeliever to baldly advocate false Christianity, though. Pick and choose the verses you like and disregard the rest, eh? Just pretend, indeed.
Now there’s a rational formula for doing what’s right: just pretend that the authority doesn’t exist and do whatever you like instead. Anyone who has kids knows my sarcasm here.
The Father is the infallible authority; Jesus is the good shepherd; the Holy Spirit is the powerful advocate. Put these three together and we get a holy God you can trust and love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
The atheist says, “For those guided by rationalism, ignoring the nonsensical angry and jealous god of the Bible is not an option. We cannot simply shrug off the god commanded cruelty in Numbers 31 and skip ahead.”
But ignoring is exactly what he does when he pretends that God (or this passage, according to his advice in the last quote) doesn’t exist.
But I must ask: for the materialist-atheist, what exactly does “cruelty” mean, where does it come from and why is it wrong? If you answer, “because propagation,” you must then explain why that’s good. Why is existing morally better than not existing, atheist? Buddhists spend multiple lives trying to escape the suffering of this world and reach a point of nirvana (total annihilation), and according to your worldview you could have it right now, and you could offer it to anyone within range! Of course, you won’t go on a kill-crazy rampage because you don’t actually believe your worldview is true. It’s just a convenient ontological waypoint to park your guilt while you serve your lusts.
The atheist says, “For good or bad, we are destined to keep our faith closely aligned with reality as in what we know to be tangible. We don’t allow our convictions to linger in fantasy. If that means we go to hell then so be it.”
I’m a bit surprised by the boldness shown here by the atheist to admit that he a) maintains a faith in tangible things, b) doesn’t allow his faith to dwell on spiritual matters and c) accepts his sentence to eternal punishment in hell if it exists.
Most atheists will deny that they hold a faith in materialism, will deny that they need to actively suppress the truth of spiritual things and will deny that they could ever possibly go to hell.
Those other atheists know and fear in their hearts the following truths from scripture, but this atheist is special.
We all worship something. We’re religious beings. If you don’t worship the one true living God, then you worship an idol of some sort. This idol can be your intelligence, your significant other, your car, your job, your youthful good looks or any number of things in this world that are passing away.
Faith in God is shown to believers by the Holy Spirit indwelling them, showing real substance and evidence for spiritual things that cannot be seen directly but are shown in all of creation (Heb 11:1). Faith in idols, on the other hand, like the atheistic faith in materialism, is a blind faith. They lack all evidence for proving that only the tangible things matter, and they’re blinded to the spiritual things of God. They do know that God exists, but they suppress that truth in unrighteousness to serve their temporal desires (Rom 1:18). And what truth do they need to suppress, exactly? The wrath of God, who will justly punish them for their transgressions.
This atheist claims that unbelievers such as himself “continually” read the Bible. I hope that’s true. I was saved while reading the Bible, while cynically looking for biblical points to refute in my atheistic writing projects. Then a light came on and showed me: all of this is true. I pray for the Holy Spirit to work on this atheist and bring him to God’s wisdom over his own wisdom which is just foolishness.
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