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Romans and Atheism

With the youth group, we are diving into a study of the book of Romans.  At times, it seems so deep.  In fact, last week for Romans 1:1-17 I spent 8 very in-depth hours worth of studying, plus other time reading and typing.  For Romans 1:18-32, it was less in-depth time, nonetheless, it was still a very, very deep subject.  After yesterday’s post, and today’s studying, I began to understand these issues in a much greater way. 

Paul writes about God’s wrath being poured out on unrighteous people who “suppress the truth.”  To borrow an analogy which one of my youth used tonight, suppose I am driving along a road and a bridge has been washed out by a flood.  To suppress the truth as it is used in the instance which Paul is speaking of is to continue driving toward that bridge.  I know that it is stupid and wrong to continue, yet I hide that away and continue driving.  Suppressing the truth is a continual theme in these verses.

Paul then gets to verse 18 and 19 speaking of being able to clearly see God in nature.  It wasn’t until today that I was able to better swallow this pill.  Before, I couldn’t reconcile that God could always be found in nature with the fact that there are millions of atheists in America.  God can be seen in nature, but they cannot.  I was not justifying it for their sake, but I just didn’t understand how in verse 19 they are without excuse, yet they don’t believe.

Interestingly enough, through the studying today, I began to realize that suppression of the truth does not just happen in dealing with sin.  It happens with God.  Now, the typical atheist response is “Nuh-uh.  I was just enlightened to the fact that I no longer believe in fairy-tales.”  Whatever cranks the ole John Deere.  

The passage continues on speaking of God giving the people over to their lusts and sins.  In other words, the people had already decided to sin, and they had become slaves to sin instead of slaves to Christ, so God gives them over to the sin.  They have the right to choose, and they choose sin.  Then we see the different sins.  This is another deep issue as we see twenty-three different sins named in the passage.  Obviously, because someone denies the existence of God doesn’t mean they are on a road bent on homosexuality, murder, and gossip.  I’ll be the first to admit that there are many moral atheists.  Some of them probably are better people than many Christians…yet we do see the progression in this passage of someone who allows unrighteousness to reign in their lives.

Overall, I just found it interesting how this passage clearly points out that people are born with the knowledge of God.  Atheists call it child abuse and conditioning, yet as a Christian, I fully believe the Bible is right.  There are too many clear pictures painted in the Bible and in life that point toward a Creator.

The fact that the world is ordered and perfect points toward a Creator.  The fact that people have a moral code within them (which we’ll be studying next week in youth group) points toward a Creator.  There are numerous examples of why I believe in God.  

This is more of a random post than anything – just my observations from Scripture and life, nonetheless, it easily relates to my passion – apologetics.

 I have one week left on my check out of The God Delusion.  I am a little over 100 pages into it.  Thus far, Dawkins has bored me to death.  It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.  Oh well, check back soon for that review.  

Also, thanks to everyone who has been reading and posting.  Wednesday, October 1, 2008 sets a new record for total number of blog views!  Totally stoked about that.  Thanks for the comments and everything!

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  1. Hannah
    October 2, 2008 at 8:44 am

    ok, my favorite part of this blog is the three sins you named: homosexuality, murder, gossip. They seem so …. unalike? One is accepted by culture very much so, one is not at all, and the other nobody even considers. I am reminded every time the Bible makes lists of sins, that sin really is sin. Whether or not you believe it’s sin, or the world believes it’s sin, or even if say it’s a “minor” sin. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death.
    There’s another passage where it lists sins God especially hates and they all seem really awful, but he throws lying in there…YES! I love it. Even the small sins we excuse are wrong.
    Anyway, sorry that this is not on subject about the Romans and such, but yeah maybe it’s kind of like we’re suppressing the truth when we sin?
    Keep up the good work, Ryan. You seem like you’re learning a lot from your studies. Knowledge is important especially to be a defender of the faith. 🙂

  2. October 2, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Well, the one that I never even mentioned from that passage is disobedience to your parents. It gets old with Christians lobbying against homosexuals, but most of them can’t control their own children… (Slight exaggeration)

    Picking and choosing doesn’t make one sin less severe. unChristian deals with this. Christians don’t see divorce as wrong much anymore…but man, homosexuality is for sure wrong because they Bible says so. Ignorance of the scriptures is one of the leading causes of atheism in the world today in my opinion.

    Thanks for the input.

  3. October 2, 2008 at 9:33 am

    “Whether or not you believe it’s sin, or the world believes it’s sin, or even if say it’s a “minor” sin. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death.”

    So the next time you get called into court for a traffic violation, and the judge puts you on death row, you’ll be okay with that?

    Because sin is sin and crimes are crimes. If the judge sentences you to death for making an illegal U-turn, he’s only doing what god would do.

  4. October 2, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Maybe the more pressing question is what we are to do about it. It’s probably best to start at the start. I figure that if we, as Christians, can prevent ourselves from suppressing the truth of scripture in daily life, the truth gets out. The core of the problem is in our core. The more unignorable we make the truth, the harder it is to suppress.
    The life of Christ is absolute evidence of this fact. At the beginning of his ministry, he has followers, but he has a lot more doubters. As he continues, though, he fulfills prophecy. His miricles and his ministry become the proof. His followers didn’t supress the truth of his divinity, and look what we have today.

  5. October 2, 2008 at 10:13 am

    MorseCode, welcome to my blog. I’ve seen you poke your head around in different places. Glad to have you here. Stick around for a while. Have a cup of coffee and a snack.

    Anyways, I understand what you are saying – “the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”

    This is a false statement. Now I am speaking from a Biblical perspective, which obviously wouldn’t mean jack to you as an atheist. But, the context of the passage is stating that sin becomes suppressed in our lives, etc. When that happens we are without excuse for our sin because looking at nature, creation, etc, we can see that God exists…

    It doesn’t matter if you think the punishment is fair, if thats the punishment that you are warned of for making an illegal U-Turn, my guess is that you would refrain from doing it. Part of the reason you probably refrain from killing someone who irks you (in addition to the fact that you and I both know it is wrong to murder.) If Congress passes a law that you get three strikes for speeding, and after the third you serve life in prison, that would seem ridiculous to me, yet it’s the law, so I choose to obey.

    My point in all of this is the fact that we have the laws, and we are told the consequences of breaking the laws. No judge can put you to death for making an illegal U-Turn. That is not the law written out.

  6. October 2, 2008 at 10:30 am

    “When that happens we are without excuse for our sin because looking at nature, creation, etc, we can see that God exists…”

    Except we can’t.

    Sorry to hijack your thread, but this is an issue that I’ve brought up in my godless bible study. It isn’t obvious from looking at nature. If it were, EVERYONE would believe. And specifically in your god. But they don’t.

    And if it were obvious, then why all the prophets and miracles in the bible? What’s the point of an apologist if it’s so obvious?

    “It doesn’t matter if you think the punishment is fair, if thats the punishment that you are warned of for making an illegal U-Turn, my guess is that you would refrain from doing it.”

    Certainly it matters. It matters a great deal in relation to my respect, or lack thereof, for the creator of such a punishment. Which is a shame. There are many gods our there that I would respect and like. But the kind of god who punishes everything equally (regardless if that punishment is equally harsh or equally lenient) is not a god I could worship, respect, or like, even if I did believe in its existence.

  7. October 2, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Ironically, my wife and I have been studying Romans for the past week. I just read chapter 2 today. I have one thought about how “those by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” passage . . .

    The word suppress implies that whoever is doing the action (suppressing) is keeping something from happening. In this passage, the people are suppressing the truth. Truth is happening whether or not people want it to. Suppress can mean veil (my favorite view). People veil the truth by living in a way that isn’t in accordance with it. They cover it up. Truth is going to happen whether people want it to or not. On the flip side, if you want to show the truth of something, live in accordance with it!

  8. October 2, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Exactly Jake…which was my point in the original post MorseCode.

    This is my view, which I know that you and all atheists would reject – people know that God exists. That is truth. It is made obvious to them. Yet, they suppress the truth of God’s existence. Namely, through the evolutionary theory, they toss out the need for God, yet they leave many gaps that remain unanswered. So, I would argue, that yes, God is obvious. Those who do not believe have suppressed that.

    And I know that Maher hits on other religions, too, but in every interview he has done regarding his movie, he uses his favorite line about “a talking snake.” That’s Judaism and Christianity there. Was just pointing out, most of his negative comments are directed at Christianity. And the Palin thing, he basically hits on her religion, never her politics. That was my point.

  9. Derek
    October 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I would like to challenge any atheist out there to read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis or “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel.

  10. Derek
    October 2, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Ryan,
    This has nothing to do with your post, but what types of study tools are you using to study Romans?

  11. October 2, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    F. Leroy Forlines commentary.
    The Preacher’s Expository Commentary.
    The Bible.

    I occasionally check out some sites that have discussion questions to kind of spur topics for myself to dive into. Other than that, I write all the questions myself. I design it to be less “teachy” and more “thought-provoking/discussion starters” while teaching at the same time.

  12. October 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    “I would like to challenge any atheist out there to read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis or “Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel.”

    Why?

    I read Lewis years ago and, I’m sorry, but his ‘trilemma’ fails.

  13. KFlann
    October 2, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    this little reply or more like question is to morsecode….

    ryan said that by looking at nature, creation and etc. we can see that God exists. then you replied with except we can’t. so my question is that if you believe that there is no God then how are we here??

    just a simple question out of curiosity that doesnt really pertain to the subject but if you could answer that would be great!

  14. October 3, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Well, first of all, evolution is thrown out into the mix to block the possibility of the creation story. Both sides have misinformation about evolution, though.

    The Darwinian theory of a common ancestor is broken apart by a number of things, namely the Cambrian explosion.

    Basic, fundamental Christianity, though, ignores the exact biological definition of evolution. It’s really just the changes seen in the inherited traits of a population from one generation to the next. Do you look just like your parents? No, you don’t. You’ve changed from the previous generation.

  15. Hannah
    October 3, 2008 at 10:54 am

    morsecode,

    The God we worship is Holy and Just and is therefore incapable of having anything to do with our sin. Somebody has to be punished when a wrong is committed. How would you feel about a judge who wasn’t just? God created the world sinless, but man sinned. Somebody had be be punished for this wrong. It was only fair. This is where the beauty of the crucifixion comes into play. Jesus Christ, as Holy and Just as he is, humbled himself to become a man. He stepped down to live the life we live, we endure the temptations we endure, and to be treated as a mere mortal. He never sinned, yet he took the punishment for sins of everyone when he died on the cross. Therefore, unlike being put on death row for my U-Turn, I can wave my free from punishment card that only comes that sacrifice on the cross. This doesn’t mean, as some make it seem, that I can sin and do whatever I want, this means that if I slip up as all men do, I am forgiven if I ask for it. This also means I do my best to avoid sin. Please do not attempt to take what I’m saying and exagerrate it, that’s old. We are not perfect and I am not perfect. I sin. But I have come to understand that I sin and that on my own, I would be just a person headed towards my punishment for my sin. But instead, I have a pass from death row, because somebody has stepped in to take my place there. Jesus Christ. That is the only way God, Holy and Just, can forgive us and have mercy. Mercy we don’t deserve.
    Now, I know this may not have convinced you, because if you’ve read CS Lewis then I am surely not going to tell you anything you do not know.
    This is how we can worship this God who treats sin as a sin. Because he didn’t have to, but he made a way for forgiveness for me.

  16. October 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    “so my question is that if you believe that there is no God then how are we here??”

    The big bang, the stars formed, the universes formed, our Solar System formed, the earth formed, abiogenesis, evolution through natural selection.

    If you want specifics on any of those, I know some, but I would suggest checking with a biologist, an astronomer, and a cosmologist. If you are curious about before the big bang, I don’t know. No one does. There are some interesting ideas, and I have my own. But I don’t know.

    I do know, however, that there is no good evidence for ‘god did it’.

    Now Hannah, you did not answer my point, as my point has nothing to do with whether or not the judge is perfect or not. It has to do with basing morality on situations, and not arbitrary blacks and whites.

  17. October 4, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Yeah, I would definitely back up Derek in saying that “Case For a Creator” needs to be put on every atheist’s “to read” list. The evidence backing abiogenesis and common ancestry is shallow…to say the least.

    As for your unanswered question, at least if I am understanding it right, you should know that the bible tells us that all sins are equal. Our earthly standards as for which ones are worse have nothing to do with it. As mentioned before: homosexuality, murder, gossip. They’re the same in God’s eyes. It’s a flat rate punishment for all sins that are the same.

    To back up Hannah, though, we have a free pass. It’s right in front of us. All we have to do is accept that someone has already taken the flat rate punishment for everyone. (You, too)

  18. October 4, 2008 at 10:21 am

    “Yeah, I would definitely back up Derek in saying that “Case For a Creator” needs to be put on every atheist’s “to read” list. The evidence backing abiogenesis and common ancestry is shallow…to say the least.”

    Actually it isn’t.

    For abiogenesis, we don’t know the specific way it took place on Earth, but we do know that it is possible. The Miller-Urey experiments proved that.

    Common ancestry, evolution and natural selection are probably the strongest verifiable facts in science. Just speak to one of your fellow evangelicals, Francis Collins, head of the genome project, who has stated that the genetic evidence alone is enough to back up evolution and common descent, even if there were no fossils or any other evidence.

    Not that you should take Collins’ words for it, because the evidence backs it up.

    And again, if you view all sins as equal, you are fundamentally unjust. I’m fine with you believing in an unjust god, but don’t pretend that treating jay-walking and murder the same is somehow just.

  19. October 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Can you tell me exactly what the Miller-Urey experiment proved? Because, from what I’ve read, the set up for their experiment (combining Ammonia and Methane) has been proven to not be life promoting at all. In fact, most everything I have read has shown that the majority of scientists don’t even believe that if the earth came about by random chance, that those elements which Miller and Urey used were part of the makeup of the beginning.

    Miller-Urey holds no water basically.

    Secondly, Collins errs in the concept of calling himself evangelical if he ascribes to evolution as being God’s way of bringing the earth into existence. Just wanted to define evangelical in that sense as evangelicals do not ascribe to evolution as the way man came to earth.

  20. KFlann
    October 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    so morsecode, you are saying that a big bang caused this whole world to happen by evolving?? it doesnt make sense b/c if something that big evolved all of this then wouldn’t it still be evolving?? it seems like believing that takes just as much faith as it does to say that God did it. can u prove evolution???

  21. October 4, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    “Can you tell me exactly what the Miller-Urey experiment proved?”

    It proved that it is possible for the combination of chemicals, gasses and electricity to produce the building blocks of life, amino acids.

    You’re correct, the combination of amino acids and other chemicals that the Miller-Urey experiment produced would not lead to life. But the experiment wasn’t designed to create life, or to accurately recreate what happened on earth. It’s only goal was to show that amino acids could form under such conditions, and they did.

    Again, if all you want are absolutes, this won’t give it to you. But it’s pretty strong evidence that there doesn’t need to be a divine spark to get, at the very least, the beginnings of life.

    “Secondly, Collins errs in the concept of calling himself evangelical if he ascribes to evolution as being God’s way of bringing the earth into existence”

    You either miswrote this, or you really do need to check out evolution. Evolution has nothing to do with the way the Earth came to exist. Evolution only deals with living organisms.

    “Just wanted to define evangelical in that sense as evangelicals do not ascribe to evolution as the way man came to earth.”

    I know that. But Collins calls himself an evangelical, he believes in Jesus, he believes the trinity, and he knows that evolution is, in fact, how life operates. At least all the life we know about.

    “so morsecode, you are saying that a big bang caused this whole world to happen by evolving?? it doesnt make sense b/c if something that big evolved all of this then wouldn’t it still be evolving?? it seems like believing that takes just as much faith as it does to say that God did it. can u prove evolution???”

    You, KFlann, have a serious confusion between cosmology and biology. I suggest, and I mean this in the politest and sincerest of ways, that you check out some science books or talk to some college professors. Assuming you want to learn this info, of course.

    To address your ‘why wouldn’t it still be evolving’…it is. Just because it goes to slow for you to see in your lifetime, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The evidence supports it.

    Can I show you the myriad evidence for evolution? Sure can. Do I think you’ll believe me? Probably not, because you seem (and correct me if I’m wrong) to have some highly negative feelings about it. Which I really don’t understand, but you’re free to believe whatever you want. I choose to follow where the evidence leads me.

  22. October 4, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    “You’re correct, the combination of amino acids and other chemicals that the Miller-Urey experiment produced would not lead to life. But the experiment wasn’t designed to create life, or to accurately recreate what happened on earth. It’s only goal was to show that amino acids could form under such conditions, and they did.”

    But they proved that you can form amino acids that don’t lead to life, in conditions that don’t promote life.

    “I know that. But Collins calls himself an evangelical, he believes in Jesus, he believes the trinity, and he knows that evolution is, in fact, how life operates. At least all the life we know about.”

    I don’t care if he calls himself an evangelical – he does not fit the definition of an evangelical. I could call myself a dancing spider monkey of death, but that’s worth nothing, because I am not. All my point was is that you can’t say “one of your own ascribes to evolution” because anyone who ascribes to evolution (or yes, the big bang as how the earth came to be – yes I misspoke) cannot be considered an evangelical.

  23. October 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    “But they proved that you can form amino acids that don’t lead to life, in conditions that don’t promote life.”

    The way they did it, with the chemicals and gasses they used, correct. But we have no idea what the combination of chemicals and gasses were on the primordial earth, or at what amounts. What we do know, however, is that with some chemicals and some gasses, amino acids will form.

    Again, this is not absolute knowledge. But it’s the best we have, and all the evidence we currently have backs it up.

    As for Collins: Since the word ‘evangelical’ really means ‘one who evangelizes’, as long as he is a Christian and does so, I think the title fits him. He’s certainly not a normal evangelical, or your type of evangelical, but I tend to give people the titles they want for themselves.

  24. October 5, 2008 at 8:57 am

    “You’re correct, the combination of amino acids and other chemicals that the Miller-Urey experiment produced would not lead to life. But the experiment wasn’t designed to create life, or to accurately recreate what happened on earth. It’s only goal was to show that amino acids could form under such conditions, and they did.”

    Yes, the excrement produced amino acids, but that doesn’t prove that they can form under the conditions of early earth. All that is proved is that gasses, which weren’t in the atmosphere, along with lightning, which was very much understated by the “electric shocks” could produce amino acids.

  25. October 5, 2008 at 9:53 am

    “All that is proved is that gasses, which weren’t in the atmosphere”

    Ah, so you were there? Silly me, trusting science, I should have asked the 5 billion year old man.

  26. October 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    You have to admit that they weren’t there morsecode – they are not life promoting….

    We don’t have to be there to know that, the experiment proved that they weren’t there – because life could not have come out of that. You admitted that yourself. I don’t see the confusion. If they were present in the early atmosphere, then we wouldn’t be here given that the Big Bang or whatever was how the earth began….but we’re here, thus showing that those were not in the early atmosphere. You can’t have it both ways.

  27. October 5, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    And again, the experiment wasn’t designed to show EXACTLY how it happened.

    The experiment was designed to show that amino acids CAN form from the combination of CHEMICALS, GASSES and ELECTRICITY. And it showed that, there were amino acids. It doesn’t matter that the specific amino acids couldn’t make life in the experiment, the point was that they were amino acids. And with different combination of chemicals, gasses and electricity, it’s possible amino acids could form that could form life.

    That’s all. This is the third time I’ve explained the experiment, and if you don’t understand I can only conclude that I’m explaining it badly or you’re willfully ignorant.

  28. October 5, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I understand exactly what you’re saying, as I have heard the excuse before. But you told SoxFan that he couldn’t conclude that those weren’t the gasses present at the beginning of the world as he wasn’t there – and in a very sarcastic fashion might I add. I was simply stating that using common sense, we can conclude that those gasses were obviously not present.

  29. October 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I responded sarcastically because he wrote as if no gasses and chemicals could ever create life, which is an absurd statement to make.

  30. October 6, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I said nothing of the sort. I said that the gases used in the experiment could never produce life, which is true. How are we to have enough faith to say that life could come from nothing under the constantly changing conditions of early earth, when we can even force the issue in a controlled environment.

  31. October 6, 2008 at 9:21 am

    There’s no faith, there’s speculation.

    “Now are we to have enough faith to say that life could come from nothing under the constantly changing conditions of early earth”

    What does this even mean?

    We don’t know what the conditions of the early earth were. If we did, we could put that in a lab and find out what happened. As it is, we know in very general terms what it was like. Using those general terms, the Miller-Urey experiment showed that amino acids could be formed.

    If one day we discover what the actual makeup of the early earth was, then we can re-do the experiment, and find out if you’re right or science is correct.

  32. October 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Do you think that it will be possible to ever find out what the conditions of the early earth were, and if so, how?

  33. October 6, 2008 at 10:03 am

    We do have evidence for the gases that were present in the porous rocks from the Cambrian period. We stick them in one of those funny air-tight boxes and break them apart to figure out what’s in them. Cyanobacteria, the organisms stated as the probable first, thrive on CO2. That means there must have been some, if not a whole lot.

  34. October 6, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Maybe mrakers. Dunno. I’m not a scientist.

  35. October 6, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Was just wondering.

    As I said, the science side of apologetics is my current weak point – though I am working on it.

  36. October 6, 2008 at 11:07 am

    How about you just do some research into science? As opposed to assuming it is wrong from the get go.

  37. October 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Hmmm, maybe you missed the comment completely above you and that last post wasn’t rude….

    I said I will continue looking into the scientific arguments, but everything I have seen has shown me that there is no evidence. There are way too many holes, and the only answer we get is, “It hasn’t been discovered – yet!” Lots of holes.

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