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YOUR GOD Panel: Pagan, Atheist and Christian Students

As apart of the YOUR GOD Sydney-wide mission run by AFES (Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students) at many University campuses, I’ll be representing the Christian view on a panel of Pagan, Atheist and Christian students.

I am quite excited about it. I myself have been influenced greatly through many apologetic works, and attribute my faith to the way in which God used those works. I feel apologetics is often overlooked or under-valued in churches and Bible-colleges, so I’m excited to be able to have a real and open discussion about faith on campus. I think University is the perfect place for such discussions.

I believe everyone should question their faith and world-view (Christians and atheists alike.) I certainly advocate this for Christians, not because I want them to loose their faith, but because I believe that it will strengthen their faith for the better. A Christian who continues on emotional conviction won’t have any real intellectual understanding of their faith, and emotions only last so long.

If anyone is around in the Western Sydney area, certainly come along. Thursday the 8th of August 2013 at 1PM, UWS Kingswood Campus in room K.1.04.

Reading List

Here are a few books I’ve recently read through, am reading through or plan to read through in the near future.

In choosing what books I want to read, I had a few categories:

  • Classics that may interest me
  • Christian Apologetic books
  • Atheist books
  • Pro-Life books
  • Christian fiction

To some, reading apologetic books and atheist books side by side may seem a bit strange; however I don’t think this should be seen as strange at all. I don’t want to go around wearing rose tinted glasses all the time – most (but not all) Christian apologetic authors won’t water down the truth and in the most part will be sufficient, but the only way to be sure (and fair) is to read some of the corresponding from atheist counterparts. Actually, for most Christians, I’d even recommend reading some, as genuine faith isn’t faith you have as a result of your parents, but a faith that you have chosen to lead.

Anyway, onto the list. So far the list includes:

  • 1984 by Orwell (read)
  • Animal Farm by Orwell
  • The God Delusion by Dawkins (atheistic book; partway through)
  • Who Made God by Andrews (apologetic book; have read it once, plan on re-reading)
  • The Reason for God by Keller (apologetic book; have read half, plan on re-reading)
  • Brave New World by Huxley
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Adams
  • The Sword by Litfin (Chiveis Trilogy; Christian Fiction; read)
  • The Gift by Litfin (Chives Trilogy; Christian Fiction; read)
  • The Kingdom by Litfin (Chives Trilogy; Christian Fiction; partway through)
  • Defending Life by Beckwith (Pro-Life book; started)

I want to add another atheist book to that list – hopefully one by Krauss. If anyone has any suggestions as a good starting one by him, I’m all ears.

Which is more likely?

This question contained in this post will get many people fired up. It is a topic that people have very strong opinions about, and there are definitely many people who are both numerous and very vocal with their views on either side of the argument. What I am trying to have happening is a good dialogue between Christians and atheists, not a flame war. Please, if you comment on this post, be civil and respectful to everyone else, whichever side you’re on. If you aren’t civil in your posting and are just tolling, don’t expect me or anyone else to consider responding.

There are many questions in this world today that are definitely worth asking from time to time. One that I genuinely think is worth asking, because of it’s potential implications, is where did we come from? Were we designed, or were we simply the result of an accident. As I mentioned above, people can have very strong views either side of this debate, and can be very vocal with these views. I am posting what I am genuinelly working through myself. Trying to force an opinion upon me by abusing my current view isn’t really going to make me view that opinion with any respect.

I look around at this world today and see design. I don’t necessarily support the Intelligent Design movement (notice the capital I and capital D,) as it has too many things associated with it that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I do support the notion that we have been intelligently designed. The reason I see that in this world? I am a person who looks at something and thinks the most likely solution to something is also most likely to be true. Let me start with an example of Young Earth creationists (I’m an Old Earth creationist.)

Many arguments that I have heard from the Young Earth creation standpoint is the idea of “apparent age.” That is, God made the Earth some 10,000 years ago and, when he made it, made it look old from the start. So, when it was created, it looked as if it were a few billion years old already. Why can’t I support this view? It is taking a well accepted scientific theory (I’m always hesitant to say fact with anything that isn’t a law, but it pretty much is a fact) that the Earth is ~5 billion years old and taking it to fit their current viewpoint. If something looks old, what is the most logical explanation? I’m not going to say God couldn’t make the world look old, but I don’t see why he would. To me, the most logical explanation is what it appears. It appears the Earth is old, so therefore the most likely scenario is that the Earth is in fact old, rather than just showing apparent age.

Now, for a moment it may seem as thought I’m defending the atheist viewpoint. No, I’m dismissing the Young Earth viewpoint, but that still leaves the Old Earth viewpoint, which is where I come from.

Now, let’s have a look at another example of what the most likely scenario is. It has been written by many Christian, and more importantly, non-Christian and non-religious scientists that they can’t escape the seemingly apparent design of this world. The world is so perfect and works so well that, at first, it appears as if it is designed by an intelligent being. To quote a non-Christian (to me knowledge) scientist, Paul Davies, “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming” [1]

Just as what happened with the Young Earth creationists, where they took their current view and made an observation fit the view, rather than their view fit the observation, I think atheists may do this a bit. By no means am I saying atheists are intentionally doing this, nor am I saying Christians don’t do it as well. The thing here, especially with this topic, is no one can escape any bias (if you’re a hammer, you see everything as a nail.) Let me explain.

I have a hard time comprehending the view that if it appears to have design, that it then must in fact be a result of random mutations and chance. To me, that is a possibility, but not the most likely possibility. Just like it is possible an intelligent being could have made the world appear old when it is relatively young. It is possible, but I don’t necessarily think likely. The first conclusion that someone should come to when they see apparant design isn’t that it was randomly generated without any design what so ever.

From a personal standpoint, it is a view that I struggle to understand. Just as a quick disclaimer, I’m not saying any world view is perfect, including mine, but I don’t have any problems with raising questions about other world views and throwing it out there for discussion, nor do I have a problem with people doing the same for my world view. The comments are there to be used.


[1] Davies, P. 1988. The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature’s Creative Ability To Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, p.203.