Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)
TITLE: Atheism - a very puzzling language!
By Pastor Proud
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Learning a foreign language is an enriching process, a wonderful opportunity to broaden communication with people from different cultures and faiths and to gain insights into their thoughts and values.
But the foreign language that I struggle with most is the language of atheism. I understand it less than Kazakh and I don’t really understand that language at all. Take for example a straw sample of quotes from a number of well known atheists and it will illustrate my point perfectly...
The 19th century philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said, “I don’t believe in God… Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life.” But doesn’t Jesus teach us (among many other things) to love our neighbours as ourselves? Isn’t that part of what being a good citizen is?
Wilhelm Neitsche said that “faith means not wanting to know what is true”. Now this is getting really strange because Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ is my truth and my faith in Him is offered willingly. I want to know the truth of Jesus’ love and build my relationship with Him more every day.
George Bernard Shaw suggested “the fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one”. Not sure if George had been to the pub before writing this. But his comment does shows a striking lack of empathy for the innumerable Christians who have suffered persecution and death for their belief in Christ Jesus. Faith may not always guarantee our happiness but it brings us the richness of hope and promise of a life in Christ.
Then of course Benjamin Franklin’s comment that “lighthouses are more useful than churches” troubles me. I get the sentence structure but the logic is more of a problem. Did he mean that lighthouses are literally more useful than churches? Millions of Christians enjoy the community of church worship and find that the shining light of hope in a relationship with God guides them from a life of sin. So a church is kind of like a lighthouse but without the ships (unless the church is in a seaside town) right? Would Benjamin Franklin also have said that “ships are more useful than people”? And if so I want to know who would guide these ships without people? For I am very sure that a person imbued with God’s Holy Spirit will have much better guidance than a ship without a crew.
So you can see my point, perhaps, that it is much easier to learn conventional foreign languages than to learn the language of atheism. English may differ from Arabic or Korean. Different text and syntax, vowels and vocab. But each language is broadly trying to achieve the same goal - to make communication possible between God’s people.
Whereas the language of atheism has an incoherent and unintelligible structure. It is a grouping of theories which gather in rag tag fashion around the unifying objective of proving that God can’t exist, and proving that Christians can’t prove that God exists. It’s a bit like atheists are trying to prove (to themselves perhaps) that you can prove everything does or doesn’t exist through rigorous analysis, scrutiny and being clever.
Atheism is an impossible foreign language to learn for the faithful Christian. No wonder that in George Bernard Shaw’s mind the sceptical people were not happy. I’d be hopping mad if the accumulated baggage of my prejudice and pseudo intellectualism was telling me to disprove something that two billion people and over two millennia of written proof and testimony were saying was true. I might not suggest that Shaw’s colleagues go to the pub (though I do know a great place to get a drink of wine). But I would suggest that they read the Bible. It’s like Rosetta Stone for those who want to learn the language of Faith.
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