May 24, 2008

The god of the atheist...

The Vail Visions over the last four weeks have been my reflections from watching the documentary movie, Expelled:   No intelligence allowed, produced by Ben Stein.   While we could discuss issues related to the movie for a very long time, this will be the last installment.


One of the surprises for me that came out of the movie was this idea of free will.   Christians have debated free will for centuries.   In fact, Luther and the greatest thinker of his day “ Erasmus “ published a back and forth treatise on free will.   Some have said Luther's "Bondage of the Will.. is one of his greatest works.   Of course, they were mostly talking about spiritual matters and how one comes to faith.  


Luther said that no person comes to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father does the work (see John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day...)  


Erasmus' view comes very close to the view held by Pelagius in the fourth century.   Pelagius said that man was partially responsible for his own salvation.   This doctrine was resoundingly rejected by the early church fathers.   They concluded that Pelagius was wrong and that salvation is 100% the work of God.   Because Luther believed that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ and not of works, he beats up Erasmus pretty bad.


But what is surprising to me is that atheists also debate free will, though they debate it from a non-spiritual standpoint.     Atheists debate whether humans are truly free to choose.   And they debate this mightily.   On one side are atheists who believe that humans have free will.   All humans can choose the paths they take in life.


But on the other side of the argument are those who believe in a strict determinism.   They believe that cells divide based upon the amount of nutrition provided by the bloodstream.   Taken to extreme, they also believe that all human decisions happen based upon the circumstances that are presented.   In other words, humans are captive to nature.     There are huge implications to this.   For if man is truly captive to his circumstances, then maybe we shouldn't imprison people for doing bad things.   They had no choice.


So it appears that even atheists, too, have a god.   It is an all-controlling, powerful force that moves the universe.   It is nature.   That is a very scary god because it means that mere randomness is controlling humans.  


But Christians know that the all-powerful force in the universe is a God who is love.   They see a God who has revealed Himself through His only-begotten Son, Jesus.   They see a God who acts in Christians today through the Holy Spirit.   That is the God for me.



Pastor David Hook

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