Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, February 15, 2008

    Response to Debate between Richard Dawkins and Madeline Bunting

    Debate is found here.

    1. I can understand Atheists' frustrations when it comes to dealing with those who "profess Christianity but do not hold to doctrines such as virgin birth, miracles, etc.", ... but what should you expect when you debate one who is an "agnostic Catholic Buddhist" who claims to profess Christianity.

    While one can understand the frustration of Dawkins, Hitchens and others who often are confronted with those who profess Christianity but deny it's foundations; that does not excuse their (atheists')common perception and practice of first attributing the errors and/or inconsistencies of such individuals to the whole or to the rest of Christianity and then criticizing them for it particularly as if that is the norm. It would be no different that a Christian going to the infidels site and finding those who proclaimed to be atheists but "agnostic" or "pluralistic" in certain areas and then criticising athesism (even hard athesists) as if they were consistently inconsistent.

    Note: Dawkins didn't run into the same situation when he debated Alister McGrath.

    It will be interesting to see if in the future Atheist leaders continue to carry out their business among those of the like of Madeline Bunting (or others of like position, even if among the intellectuals but not grounded and built up upon the faith), or if they will be wise and courageous enough to deal with those positionally, doctrinally, and unapologetically Christian.

    2. While I respect Dawkins for his continuous advocacy for truth and evidence, I submit that (1) One must allow for ALL the evidence (including revelation/testimony/etc.) or one poisons the outcome even before looking to the evidence; (2) One must allow for metaphysical possibilities and application before denying the metaphysical based on limitations of the physical (ie. the question of God and whether Jesus had a father or not is not determined simply by other human births (as if simply because in all other human births a human father (or sperm) is necessary. The very question and introduction of God and of metaphysical reality suggests that just because all other human beings have a father through ordinary means does NOT mean that Jesus had to... in fact, not only does revelation and Christian doctrine state otherwise but the remainder of the evidence (history/testimony/the church/etc.) serves as evidence and supports the truth of Christ's birth as other than ordinary.

    3. The miracle of Jesus turning water into wine should not be as surprising and shocking today as more and more even mankind is proving the ability to change the nature and characteristics of liquids or metals (originally composed of particular elements or compounds). (However, when man is able to do that more thoroughly, consistently, and completely, atheists will even use that to try to deny the miracle of Jesus).

    4. Note the inconsistency when one suggests that it's okay for believers to allow their beliefs into the public sphere when it comes to poverty (, clothing the naked, and the like) but NOT in other areas (particular those which atheists disagree with).

    5. Dawkins continued to refer to Christianity in AMERICA and to the Bible Belt because Christianity is still alive and well in these areas; also because it's in these areas in particular that doctrinal truth is not watered down or denied but stands in direct opposition over and against the positions and arguments of atheism.

    6. Christianity is not threatened by intellectualism, nor are Christians insecure due to size or the belief of others concerning our being disempowered. Our foundation is eternal, our hope is secure, our lot is good, and our confidence is sure and alive. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self discipline. The wisdom of this world (because it denies God and stands in opposition to his sovereign and eternal kingdom) does not threaten or impress us, rather it is seen for what it is, man's futile attempt to think highly of himself and glory in himself ... all the while he continues to walk in darkness and remains under condemnation. While others smugly assure themselves while making reference to our supposed insecurity, we pity them not only concerning the future but in their present arrogance.

    7. Dawkins opposition to believers training up their children points by teaching them they belong to God points out one of our greatest blessings and truths, and that is that we are not just what we think or believe, but we are also defined by our relationships and covenants. While Dawkins and others view man as lost until he finds himself, the believer is one who belongs (by decree, love and relationship) even before he discovers his identity in Christ.

    8. Dawkins suggests that to teach a child that he will "roast forever in hell" is child abuse, but if such is the truth apart from faith and union in Christ, to do otherwise (and falsely comfort a soul which IS in danger by telling them they are NOT) is one of the the greatest abuses one can commit (and one God not only does not, but will not take lightly; Luke 17:2).

    9. Not surprising that Dawkins who suggests that religion should be "private" and "not forced on others" does not heed his own position and keep his own views and beliefs out of the public sphere.

    10. For Dawkins, who prides himself in being a scientist, to suggest there is no (supreme) intelligence in our world, is the ultimate irony.

    11. I do not believe Atheists will back off their message one iota. This will result in the advance of the gospel.


    Jonathan said...

    Dawkins has the advantage and credibility that he can demonstrate repeatability. SO it's silly for us theists to argue against evidence and repeatability.

    Let's admit that our theistic positions are fictional , as comforting as they might be; let's confess that we theists are blind people in dark rooms looking for that black cat that isn't there--AND finding it

    panta dokimazete said...

    I am certainly hoping this is sarcasm...or this is undoubtedly a wolf in sheep's clothing - and not a very good one, either...