Faith Is Strengthened by Challenge
By Dave Hunt
While a student at UCLA 60 years ago, I carefully read everything I could find written by atheists and skeptics against the Bible and Christ. Why? I wanted to know their best arguments, the better to refute them. I still keep track of the latest atheist thinking.
I have never had the slightest doubt that the Bible is in every word inspired of the Holy Spirit, nor have I ever doubted my salvation since the day I personally received Christ at a summer camp just before entering the tenth grade. Nevertheless, wasn’t it dangerous for a young student only four years old in the Lord to read the arguments of those determined to destroy every Christian’s faith? No. How could any argument be dangerous to one who is clothed in the whole armor of God? And of what value is armor except in combat?
My attitude was and still is like that of David, who was ashamed that the armies of Israel would tremble before Goliath. Without hesitation he stepped forward with complete confidence in the God who had proven Himself to be faithful (1 Sam 17). For David, the size of the giant was irrelevant.
David demanded of Israel’s trembling soldiers, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?!” To David such fear and lack of faith were incomprehensible. He did not consider confronting Goliath a heroic deed for which he should be praised. Not to defeat Goliath was unthinkable.
David warned Goliath that the Philistines were defying the God of Israel: “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied [who] will deliver thee into mine hand….” Nor did David approach Goliath cautiously. He “ran toward the army to meet the Philistine….[He] put his hand in his bag” into which he had just placed “five smooth stones out of the brook” (because Goliath had four giant brothers), “and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead…and he fell upon his face….”
Back to my student days at UCLA: what was the effect upon me of reading the leading atheists’ best arguments against God? As a young man, naïve in so many ways, the more I read of atheists’ pitiful attempts to defend their faith (yes, atheism is a faith), the stronger my faith became in the Bible as God’s infallible Word, and the greater my love grew for the Lord Jesus Christ, who purchased my redemption.
Sadly, many of today’s Christians follow the example of Israel’s armies rather than David’s. Fearful of a challenge by adversaries of God and His Word, they excuse themselves from engaging in “the good fight of faith” (1 Tim:6:12) because they are “not knowledgeable enough,” or this is “not their calling,” etc. This is not pleasing to our Lord. The person who avoids open discussion with skeptics out of timidity or fear of being proven wrong has forgotten Peter’s exhortation: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pt 3:15-Italics added for emphasis).
“Meekness”? Yes, in recognition of the fact that our confidence is not in our own inadequate intellect and abilities but is in the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to help the questioner to understand and to win him or her to Christ. “Fear”? Yes, because God knows our every thought and motive, hears our every word, and is the unseen witness of our every deed–and we will one day give an account to Christ as our judge. We testify for our Lord, not as “holier-than-thou-know-it-all” condemners of the unsaved but as ones who, in His love and meekness, seek to deliver from the “snare of the devil” those who have been “taken captive by him at his will” (2 Tim:2:23-26).
No Christian is excused from this solemn duty. Moreover, on-the-job training is the only way to learn. I remember in my early days of witnessing on university campuses, returning home, falling on my knees, and crying out, “Father, I didn’t know how to respond to some of the questions thrown at me. Lord, please show me the answers so I’ll be ready next time.” Winning souls to Christ is the most worthwhile and satisfying thing a Christian can do, and we learn by doing. Abraham’s servant said, “I being in the way, the LORD led me…” (Gen:24:27).
Science (now almost completely controlled by atheists, whom the media recognizes as the sole scientific spokespersons), has given atheists far more ammunition against faith in God and His Word (as have the ongoing moral failures of Christian leaders) than they had when I was at university 60 years ago. Moreover, atheists, skeptics, and critics today are far more numerous, outspoken, belligerent, and organized in their hatred of God.
A few years ago, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was almost the only recognizable voice and face of atheism in America. Within a short time, atheism’s female Lone Ranger was wielding amazing influence through the courts. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in her favor, banning Bible reading in public schools. In 1964, Life magazine called her “the most hated woman in America.” In 1965, she became the founder and president of American Atheists and founding editor of American Atheist Magazine. On Christmas Eve of 1968, Apollo 8’s crew (the first men to orbit the moon) read back to earth the first ten verses of Genesis (In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…etc.), O’Hair threatened to sue and effectively removed Bible reading from space. In 1984, she was “chief speechwriter” for pornographer and blasphemy defender Larry Flint’s failed presidential campaign.
In 1995, O’Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray, and her granddaughter Robin Murray-O’Hair (daughter of William Murray, who had become an evangelical Christian) disappeared from American Atheists offices. The office manager, David R. Waters, had stolen the organization’s money, murdered the three, and buried their bodies on a remote Texas ranch. In 2003, at the age of 56, Waters died in a Federal prison medical facility of lung cancer.
There’s a new breed of atheists today. Its leaders are intelligent scientists and university professors. These “New Atheists,” as they are called (or “Brights,” as they call themselves, relegating theists to dimwittedness), have organized worldwide and have their own popular radio and TV programs. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens (known as the new atheists’ “Four Horsemen”) are selling millions of copies of their books in numerous languages. Atheism is the new tsunami, with growing numbers eager to deny Christ and joining this latest wave of unbelief.
Atheism has become a major threat to the church. New Atheists tend to be articulate and belligerent. They are aggressively engaging in “atheist evangelism,” determined to stamp out every vestige of belief in God, which they insist is not only “stupid” but “wicked.”
Most churches have little to offer their members (especially the youth) to counter this sweeping tide of unbelief. Much of the apologetics against evolution from only a few years ago is no longer suited to deal with current developments in the field. Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny, which we hope will come off the press by November, will be a great help and ought to be read by every Christian.
The clever DVD, The God Who Wasn’t There, is just one example of what the New Atheists are successfully doing in their attempt to destroy faith in God. The voice-over (v.o.), an unseen narrator, takes viewers into a huge Christian school (1,800 students K-12) in the Los Angeles area. The camera zooms in on a particular seat in the chapel, and v.o. (a former student now atheist co-producer) says, “That’s where I sat the first time I was born again.” The camera moves to another seat and v.o. says, “That’s where I sat the second time I was born again.”
With further mockery, the film proceeds to cleverly but dishonestly discredit the Bible and misrepresent true faith in Christ–and then issues “the blasphemy challenge.” Christ’s declaration is quoted: “…him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost…shall not be forgiven” (Lk 12:10), then viewers are challenged to face a video camera, blasphemously declare their contempt for God and Christ and that they have no fear of hell because it doesn’t exist. Those who send in a personal copy of their video receive a free copy of the DVD they have been watching.
What has been the result? Thousands, mostly young people, have responded, and The God Who Wasn’t There is spreading like wildfire.
What can Christians do? Take this attack upon the Truth seriously, and ask the Lord to help you rescue many. Study God’s Word daily to be certain that your own faith has a sound biblical basis. Then learn how to deal with the atheists’ arguments.
In obeying 1 Peter:3:15, you will be confronted by numerous “scientific” objections. Evolution and natural selection have been Satan’s major means to lead multitudes astray. In response to the claim that “evolution is a proven fact,” simply ask questions: 1) Every living thing is made of energy. What is energy and where did it come from? Science can’t tell us. Before we can discuss whether evolution is true, we must know what energy is and its origin. Isn’t it unfair to make definitive pronouncements about evolution without knowing what is evolving? 2) Natural selection can only work on living things, but it cannot create life. Only a living cell can create a living cell, and it does so by replicating itself. How did the first cell get life? When science explains what life is and its origin (which it has failed to do), only then can we discuss evolution. Until then, evolutionists are attempting to construct an edifice in the air without any foundation.
The science of mathematics, upon which all other science rests, irrefutably disproves both atheism and evolution. We need a brief review of math in order to proceed. For example, ten to the second power is expressed as 102. It means 10 squared, which is 100. Ten to the 4th power (104) is not twice as much as 102, it is actually 100 times larger. So 104 means one with 4 zeroes after it. The “2” and “4” are called exponents. Thus 108 means one with 8 zeros after it. It is not twice 104 but 10,000 times greater (i.e., add four more zeroes). This is what is known as increasing “exponentially.” The numbers quickly become too large to comprehend.
This is why huge numbers must be expressed by exponents. It is much easier to write 1010 than to write 10,000,000,000; easier to write 1050 than to write a one with 50 zeroes after it. Imagine trying to multiply such numbers! But expressed exponentially, it is easy to multiply. One simply adds the exponents. Thus 103 (1,000) multiplied by 106 (1,000,000) equals 109 (1,000,000,000).
To show how things increase exponentially, suppose you tear in half a piece of paper, put one piece on top of the other and tear the two in half, then keep doing this 50 times. Think this could be done by hand? No! The number of resulting pieces is expressed mathematically as 250. If the paper was 1/500th of an inch thick, multiplying that thickness times 250 tells how tall the stack of paper would be. Any guesses? It would be nearly 35,539,770 miles high!
When it comes to life, the mathematics become even more impossible to imagine.
Science doesn’t know what life is and can’t explain how life arose from the chaos of an explosion that sterilized the entire cosmos a trillion times over. “Natural selection” is no help. It can neither create life nor assist the first living thing to start functioning.
The first living cell would have had to come about by pure chance. But this is mathematically impossible–and there is no arguing with mathematics.
There are approximately 1080 atoms in the cosmos. Assuming 1012 interatomic interactions per second per atom, and 1018 seconds (30 billion years) as twice the evolutionists’ age of the universe, we get 10110 (80 +12+18) as the total number of possible interatomic interactions in 30 billion years.
If each interatomic interaction produced a unique molecule, then no more than 10110 unique molecules could have ever existed in the universe. About 1,000 protein molecules composed of amino acids are needed for the most primitive form of life. To find a proper sequence of 200 amino acids for a relatively short protein molecule has been calculated to require “about 10130 trials. This is a hundred billion billion times the total number of molecules ever to exist in the history of the cosmos! No random process could ever result in even one such protein structure, much less the full set of roughly 1000 needed in the simplest form of life.
“It is therefore sheer irrationality…to believe that random chemical interactions could ever [form] a viable set of functional proteins out of the truly staggering number of candidate possibilities. In the face of such stunningly unfavourable odds, how could any scientist with any sense of honesty appeal to chance interactions as the explanation for the complexity we see in living systems? To do so with conscious awareness of these numbers, in my opinion, represents a serious breach of scientific integrity” (John R. Baumgardener, Theoretical Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory. See In Six Days, pp. 224-25).
Remember, the simplest physical structure upon which natural selection might operate must happen by chance–and it can’t.
When anyone says that an eye, for example, couldn’t happen by chance, Dawkins responds in an offended tone, “Well, of course an eye couldn’t happen by chance! Natural selection is the very opposite of chance!” But Dawkins doesn’t mention that natural selection is impossible without some living thing that can replicate itself.
For atheism, nothing exists except matter, of which all living things are composed. The physical brain cannot originate ideas because ideas such as “justice” or “truth” have no material substance nor do they occupy space. Many leading scientists reject materialism. It cannot explain the most important concepts that make life meaningful-but atheism and evolution are wholly materialistic. Sir Arthur Eddington pointed out the difference between physical laws that must be obeyed and moral laws that ought to be obeyed. He said, “Ought takes us outside the laws of physics and chemistry.” The mind that originates nonphysical ideas must be nonphysical and could therefore not evolve.
One can refute evolution without becoming an expert. David refused physical armor in confronting Goliath. His only weapons were the sling and the stones, with which he was so familiar, along with his faith in the only true God. Being challenged in our own faith, whether by atheists, those of false religions, or any other “giants,” can be a very useful tool in strengthening our understanding of why we believe what we believe.
As you step into the battle for truth, God will supply all you need, and your faith will grow ever stronger in Him. The church needs more “Davids”–men and women ready to be used in defense of the truth against the “giants” of unbelief. TBC