Friday, October 30, 2009

How do we know what is true?

A guest post by Jim Weidner:

I enjoy listening to Michael Smerconish on 1210 AM on my way to work. His guests and topics are timely and thought-provoking. I had been thinking about what I might write as a guest-poster for Larry’s blog, when I checked 1210 this morning (10/23/09) and heard a familiar voice – the voice of prominent evolutionist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins is probably the most well-known and outspoken atheist in the world. To get an idea where he’s coming from, his first book was called The God Delusion. In fact, in answer to a question about miracles and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers throughout the ages, he matter-of-factly called such experiences “hallucinations.” I kid you not. He believes that all the religious are seriously deluded people. He is happy that, in his opinion, our society is finally getting away from the “stranglehold of religion.” He states all of his opinions as “facts,” and since he also states that evolution is a “fact,” I question whether he really understands what a fact is.

Please don’t take this wrongly, but Mr. Dawkins is one of the most arrogant, condescending, and rude people that I have ever heard speak. I surmise that even non-believers who have been in his presence come to such a conclusion. Watch his interview with Ben Stein, who is Jewish, in the documentary “Expelled.” On the program today, he scoffed at Dinesh D’Souza when asked if he would debate him. He made it quite clear that he did not consider D’Souza of a theological stature worthy of his time.

After his interview on 1210 today, Smerconish remarked rather pointedly to his co-hosts that Mr. Dawkins didn’t seem impressed or even to care to be lumped in with a Nobel laureate, a former big-city US mayor, and an ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan. In mentioning these people, Smerconish was inviting Mr. Dawkins to post a comment on the radio program’s website, kind of their “Wall of Fame.”

And here was Mr. Dawkins comment, posted on the website: “How do we know what is true?”

How Pilate-like! “What is truth?”

Jesus said: “…for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Every on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

Jesus said: “Sanctify them [his followers] by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

John writes of Jesus: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14, 17)

How ironic then, that Jesus says this of the Holy Spirit’s working in the lives of believers, which Dawkins so blithely derides as delusional: “But when he, the [Holy] Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)

Wow, Jesus talked a lot about truth!

Oh, that God would soften Richard Dawkins' arrogant, God-hating, hard heart – the same kind of heart everyone has before they come to Christ – that he might be given a heart of flesh.

And, Oh, that the Holy Spirit would open his eyes so that he might come to know this truth -- the truth revealed in Jesus Christ, who is Truth incarnated.


  1. Jim,

    Good post. We are struggling with a family member with similar beliefs (and ways of demonstrating them) as Richard Dawkins. There's certainly a mixture of feelings toward the indvidual whenever something is said to incite us.

    One thing that's come out of this, though, is a strong reminder not to trust our initial reaction. Although sometimes we can get frustrated at someone mocking our Great Savior, its good to remember the restraint Christ showed when being mocked and spit at on the Cross. We know - as is the promise - that one day God will rightly vindicate his Holy Name, and that will be a perfect vindication, beyond anything I can say or do.

    So - all that said - keeping silent and walking away from such a situation, along with a heavy dose of prayer for the indvidual, is our best weapon. For we all, at one point, were hostile toward God as he is.

  2. Jim,

    I just watched this interview with Dawkins on morality:

    So, let's get this straight, Dawkins: the basis for making moral decisions is measuring sizes of nervous systems; There is no such thing as moral absolutes; somehow science has determined that aleviation of suffering is our basis for moral decisions--this is, of course, a moral absolute that he just picked out of... thin air; oh, yeah, torture is obnoxious and science shouldn't allow it--just trust him.
    In other words, going to science to find answers for morality ultimately leads to a circular argument and the necessity to appeal to something outside of science--in this case, Richard Dawkins' arbitrary decisions about suffering being the worst thing and development of nervous systems determining whether we can eat a cow or kill a child. It's amazing that someone many consider to be so smart is so obviously a complete fool.


  3. Will and Matt:

    Will, I find it interesting that you also have seen the circular arguments that result from Dawkins stance of considering himself his own moral authority. On a different topic, his interview in the documentary "Expelled" also demonstrates this, and Ben Stein sets him up perfectly. Dawkins starts out by saying that "absolutely NOT" could there ever be a God-Creator as the explanation for the origin of life. But further on, he concedes that perhaps there could have been aliens from another universe that "seeded life" onto planet earth. I kid you not; he said that.

    So, thank you for taking the step to call Mr. Dawkins a fool. I was going to do it in my post, but I did not, fearing that it would further stoke the vitriol of my already angry post.

    Speaking of anger, Matt, I suspect that that is the attitude that perhaps drove a wedge in the family relationship that you mentioned. Certainly, we need to have a different tack with family members and other acquaintances who may take a scoffing attitude toward our beliefs, or we will drive them away. We must "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15)

    However, I do not agree that such is the tack that Jesus would take with one like Mr. Dawkins, and I don't think we should either. Here is a public figure who is hell-bent (literally -- God save his soul) against anything of God. The closest we see of this with Jesus is how he responded to those who misled the flock of Israel, the Pharisees. He wasn't so easy on them. Now, granted, they were the religious leaders of the time, and atheists are irreligious. But Jesus was out to protect the vulnerable in society, and, ultimately, to promote the glory of His holy Father.

    We as believers are distressed when the Name of our God is publicly flouted, and that is what angers me about Richard Dawkins. When that happens, I think it is time to go on the offensive. And I agree, that our best offensive weapon is prayer. But, we also know that "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have the divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Note that Paul starts this passage in vs. 1 by saying: "By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you...."

    I think this is akin to being innocent as doves yet shrewd as serpents, as we have been sent into the world as sheep among wolves. (Matt. 10:16)
    May it be so of us -- that, like Jesus, we would be full of grace AND truth.

    Jim W