And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
~ Ex 34:5-7
Well, my title isn’t unique. I owe it to some atheists.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to see two cases of lying for Jesus.
Case One: The Bogus Email
There are many emails in my inbox some days. Unfortunately, some of them are pretty bogus. You know the ones. The ones that say “Snopes says it’s true!”, but Snopes does not say it’s true. They aren’t the only ones that send them to me, but I really wish people would check it out for a few minutes before hitting “Forward”.
You know the worst part about it, though? In many cases, the bogus ones are the ones with “Christian” messages. There are some that surface from time to time that just never seem to die. There is one that is an interesting read, but not very realistic:
Student in the Classroom God Versus Science
‘Let me explain the problem science has with religion.’ The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. ‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’
‘Yes sir,’ the student says.
‘So you believe in God?’
‘Is God good?’
‘Sure! God’s good.’
‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’
‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible!’ He considers for a moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’
‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent.
‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
‘Er… yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters. ‘From God’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything correct??
‘So who created evil?’
The professor continued, ‘If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Again, the student has no answer.
‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’
There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.
‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelled your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat?’
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested.
The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called “cold”. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy.
‘Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something.
You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word.’
‘In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.
‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.
‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’
The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter.
‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelled the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.
‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.
Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues.
‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’
Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it every day It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’
The professor sat down.
The student was Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein did write a book titled God vs. Science in 1921.
If you read it all the way through…
Snopes verifies that Albert Einstein certainly was not the student in the story. In addition, there are many signs that the entire story is almost surely made up anyhow.
Now, here is my question. In spite of the fact that it is an interesting story with interesting arguments, would you as a Christian forward this on to anyone knowing it was a work of fiction?
Case Two: The Blog
I checked out a few blogs over a period of time before deciding to move this one to another hosting site. Some of my favorites are Consumerist, LifeHacker and Get Rich Slowly. Recently, I haven’t spent very much time on them, but I particularly like the last one, which is IMO a well-run blog. Part of my my research move, though, is I wanted to see a religious blog in action. You know, to get some pointers. Boy, did I get an education! I’d put this under “How Not to Run a Blog”.
The doctrines of the immortal soul and ever burning hell have always been a little disgusting to me, but I was not prepared for the zeal some people have towards this particular teaching. As you can imagine, the whole thing was backfiring on them because unbelievers, and especially agnostics, are not particularly drawn to the concept of a God who creates fallible humans, blinds them and then sends them to hell for not believing. Well, I was disgusted and started posting a few messages myself.
Well, I got some interesting responses, for sure. What bothered me the most is that two of them pretty much stated that just dying wasn’t scary enough. Torment in fire for a few seconds, or even minutes, is not punishment enough. The lost, according to them, will not be converted unless you preach a “strong” message.
Here is my question: Convert them to what?
So, is a lie justified by the means? Or, is God a God of goodness and truth?
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
~ Rev 21:8