Daily Archives: March 14, 2014

Questions About Other Gods: Atheism—What If There Is No God?


Though a recent poll indicates that only about 5 percent of Americans do not believe in God, the influence of atheistic thinkers in our time is certainly widespread. Most college students have studied the writings or the thoughts of existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, communist Karl Marx, capitalist Ayn Rand, or psychologists Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner. In the 1960s, the following passage from Friedrich Nietzsche became a motto for the “God is dead” movement:

“Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him—you and I! We are all his murderers! … Do we not hear the noise of the grave diggers who are burying God? … God is dead! God remains dead!”

Religion Without God?

In 1961, the Supreme Court ruled that there are some atheistic religions and cited among them Hinayana Buddhism, Taoism, and secular humanism. Here are some of the beliefs of secular humanism:

1. “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”

2. “Humanism believes that man is a part of the universe and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.”

3. “We can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species.… No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”

4. “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics are autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction.”

5. “Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.”

6. “To enhance freedom and dignity the individual must experience a full range of civil liberties in all societies. This includes … an individual’s right to die with dignity, euthanasia, and the right to suicide.” [All quotes from Humanist Manifestos I and II, ed. by Paul Kurtz (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1973).]

Not all atheists are quite as militant, however. Karl Marx echoed the sentiments of many modern atheists when he wrote, “Nowadays, in our evolutionary conception of the universe, there is absolutely no room for either a creator or a ruler.”

While a skeptic doubts that God exists, and an agnostic says that he doesn’t know if God is out there, the atheist claims to know that there is no God. There is only the world and the natural forces that operate it.

What Do Atheists Believe About God?

There are different kinds of atheism. Some believe that God once existed, but died in the body of Jesus Christ. Others say that it is impossible to talk about God because we can’t know anything about Him, so He may as well not exist. Still others say that there is no longer any need for the God-myth that once flourished among men. But the classic view holds that there never was and never will be a God either in the world or beyond it. Those who hold this view object that the arguments used to prove God’s existence are faulty. God is simply a creation of human imagination.

What Do Atheists Believe About The World?

Many believe the world is uncreated and eternal. Others say it came into existence “out of nothing and by nothing.” It is self-sustaining and self-perpetuating. They argue that if everything needs a cause, then one can ask, “What caused the first cause?” So they claim that there must have been a series of causes that reaches back into the past forever. Some simply say that the universe is not caused; it is just there.

What Do Atheists Believe About Evil?

While atheists deny God’s existence, they affirm the reality of evil. They think the existence of evil is one of the primary evidences that there is no God. One atheist philosopher even wonders what could possibly make a Christian admit that his beliefs are false if he still believes in the existence of God while evil is present in the world. Some also argue that it is absurd to believe in God since God made all things, and evil is a thing, so God must have made evil.

What Do Atheists Believe About Values?

If there is no God, and man is merely a collection of chemicals, then there is no reason to believe that anything has eternal value. Atheists believe that morals are relative and situational. There may be some enduring ethical principles, but these were created by man, not revealed by God. Goodness is defined as whatever works to achieve the desired results.

Atheist philosophers have asked some questions which challenge us to think about our faith. However, the objections that are raised about God’s existence have already been addressed in our arguments in chapter 2. Briefly stated, an infinite series of causes is impossible and unnecessary, because Christians never said that everything needs a cause—only events or things that change need causes. Asking, “What caused the first cause?” is like asking, “What does a square triangle look like?” or, “What is the smell of blue?” It is a meaningless question. Triangles can’t have four sides; colors don’t smell; and first causes don’t have causes because they are first. (See chap. 4 to answer questions about evil.)[1]

[1] Geisler, N. L., & Brooks, R. M. (1990). When skeptics ask (pp. 37–39). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Questions about Bible Difficulties: Doesn’t Mark disagree with the other three Gospels about Peter’s denial of Jesus?


A problem that has perplexed many careful students of the Bible concerns the accounts of the denial of Christ by Simon Peter. Jesus said to Peter, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34, NASB).

Matthew records the fulfillment of this prediction, “And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:74, 75, KJV).

The problem comes when we read Mark’s version, “and Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Mark 14:30, KJV). The fulfillment reads, concerning Peter, “He went out into the porch” (Mark 14:68, KJV), and later, in verse 72, “the second time the cock crew.”

Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, “Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” Was it before the cock crowed once or twice that Peter denied Jesus? Luke and John give the same basic account as Matthew, making Mark’s statement seemingly at variance with the other three.

This problem is not as unresolvable as it may seem. It is quite reasonable that Jesus made both statements. He told Peter that he would deny Him before the crowing of the cock, and his denial would occur before it had crowed twice.

What we have, therefore, is Mark recording the story in more detail. This would seem natural since Mark wrote his Gospel under the influence of Simon Peter, and it would be natural for him to further detail this story, seeing that he is one of the main characters.

Thus we have all four evangelists recording that Jesus predicted Peter’s denial of Jesus, with Mark adding further details. A possible reconstruction would be the following: Jesus reveals to Peter that before the cock crows, Peter will deny Him three times.

Peter, as was his way, probably objected loudly to this idea that he would deny his Lord. Jesus then in turn repeats His earlier prediction, along with a further note that before the cock crows twice Peter will deny Him three times. (This harmony fits well with Mark’s account in his Gospel.)

Furthermore, the clause, “Before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34, NASB), is not contradicted by Mark relating that after Peter had denied Jesus the first time, the cock crowed. The cock crow was the sign that morning was soon to appear, and the phrase, “the time of the cock crow,” is another term for dawn.

When Jesus is referring to the cock crowing twice, he is predicting a crowing of the cock in the middle of the night long before daybreak.

“Observation over a period of 12 years in Jerusalem has confirmed that the cock crows at three distinct times, first about a half hour after midnight, a second time about an hour later, and a third time an hour after the second” (William Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, p. 543).

When all the facts are considered, the problem of Peter’s denial is not at all a blatant contradiction, but can be harmonized.[1]

[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: What Was Solomon’s Temple, the First Temple? How Many Temples Were There?


The crowning achievement of King Solomon’s reign was the erection of a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. His father, King David, had wanted to build a great Temple for God a generation earlier, as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments. However, God had forbidden him from doing so. “You will not build a house for My name for you are a man of battles and have shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3). Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David (2 Chronicles 3:1). This new, stationary Temple would replace the portable tabernacle constructed during the wilderness wandering.

If Solomon reigned from 970 to 930 BC, then he began building the temple in 966 BC. A very interesting fact concerning the building of the temple was there was no noise of the construction. The material was prepared before it was brought to the building site. The house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built (1 Kings 6:7). The Bible’s description of Solomon’s Temple suggests that the inside ceiling was 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high. The highest point on the Temple that King Solomon built was actually 120 cubits tall (about 20 stories or about 207 feet). 1 Kings 6:1–38 and chapters 7–8 describe the construction and dedication of the Temple under Solomon.

Until the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians some four hundred years later, in 586 BC, sacrifice was the predominant mode of divine service there. Seventy years later, a second Temple was completed on the same site, and sacrifices again resumed. The book of Ezra chronicles the building of the second Temple. During the first century, Herod greatly enlarged and expanded this Temple, which became known as Herod’s Temple. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, during the siege of Jerusalem. Only a small portion of it remains to this day, known as “The Wailing Wall.”[1]

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:17-19 ESV)

Several years ago when I took my first Evangelism Explosion class, our instructor emphasized over and over again that our Lord was both fully God and fully Man. Why is it important that we grasp this about our Lord? Gnosticism, for instance, teaches that Jesus is indeed God, but not really Man. Others teach that He was a Man, but not God. Both extremes are wrong and the heresies which flow from them abound. Sadly, many are…

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