When I posted GOD TALK 7 on September 5th, I unknowingly stepped on a hornet. A person identifying himself as being with Clubschadenfreude commented on my post. I responded briefly, but upon further reflection I decided to answer the criticisms more fully.
First, what is Clubschadenfreude? I honestly do not know. The German word schadenfreude translates as “malicious joy,” but I could find only a few references to such a club or organization on the internet. It appears that it may be a loose-knit association of atheists and free-thinkers who delight in attacking Christians.
Here are the comments and my response. My original statements and responses are in italics.
“ ‘They demean our cherished religious beliefs and traditions as being concocted from a miasmic fabric of ancient myths and medieval superstitions.’ hmmm, since Christians don’t agree on the basics of their religion, it seems that your ‘cherished religious beliefs and traditions’ are no more important to you folks than they are to me, an atheist.”
Response: That is a serious misinterpretation of the facts. There are nominal Christians who reject some of the major tenets of the Christian faith, but the Christian faithful (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox) are united in their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is the basic belief of the Christian faith.
“’How does nothing come from nothing?’ Physics explains it, and those laws are supported by observations. One has to ask, where did your god come from? If it can be “eternal”, why can’t the laws of physics? And can you show your god to be the creator? Plenty of other religions make the same baseless claim.”
Response: I remember when Stephen Hawking made that suggestion about the creative power of physics, but most of his fellow scientific theoreticians rejected that idea as absurd. Physics is the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. Physics tries to describe matter and energy, but it neither creates matter or energy nor explains how these things came to be. As one philosopher described the problem, ‘Science cannot answer the question why there is any world at all or any (scientific) laws at all. To answer these questions, or even to understand them properly, you must take an intellectual vantage point from outside the world and its laws, and thus outside of science. You need to look to philosophical argument, which goes deeper than anything mere physics can uncover.’
“‘Many atheists also consider the resurrection of Christ a myth, but few events in in any period of human history are so well documented by the testimony of witnesses and by its effect on the lives of people of that era.’ It is not well documented at all. In fact, the only thing you have is a book of claims about the events aka the bible. There are mentions of Christians by ancient writers, but not one mention about the supposed events. So, by your nonsense, my god is valid as your god as long as one can show worshippers. There are no ‘witnesses’. And if you want to claim that the effect on people makes a god real, then Islam is as valid as your religion, Hinduism, etc.etc.”
Response: This is perhaps the atheist’s strongest argument. Perhaps I should have qualified my original statement to read “few events in that period of human history.” The historical record for the first century is very thin, and there are few eyewitness accounts of even the most notable events occurring during that time. Nevertheless, the eyewitness testimonies provided in the New Testament are totally believable. The men who wrote these accounts did not hesitate to reveal their doubts, their fears, and their weaknesses. It was not a concocted tale. Read it with an open mind, and I believe you will be convinced. Another point, after the resurrection these apostles of Christ were inspired to go out and transform the world, and all but one died a martyr’s death. What changed them? And remember that Christianity originally spread as a gospel of love, only much later was it partially corrupted by its association with power and status. It seems that we often tend to do much better as the persecuted church. As for the other religions and their gods, I believe that all of them represent man’s search for truth, and I do not disparage them; but I am convinced that we Christians come far closer to the mark – even though ‘we do see through the glass darkly.’
“The shroud of turin is a fake, unless you wish to claim that somehow a nordic looking character was somehow “really” a Sephardic Jew in 1st century Palestine. Add to that the fact that bodies weren’t just laid out on a sheet with half of it folded over them, and you evidence vanishes.”
Response: This atheist obviously has not examined the evidence supporting the Shroud of Turin’s authenticity. There is nothing “Nordic looking” about the image on the shroud. He is somewhat taller than the typical Jew of that time, but his 5’10” height is not unusual. In appearance he looks Semitic, and hair and beard appear like that of an adult Jewish male of the 1st century. As for the burial cloth, its composition and arrangement seem to be in accord with what we know of burial practices at that time. The atheist does not address the proven fact that on that shroud is the bloody image of a scourged and crucified man. It is no medieval forgery. Many scientists have examined the shroud, but no one can explain how the image got on that cloth.
“‘I doubt not that atheists may live productive and ethical lives, but I compare them unfavorably to the people of faith who have created great works of art for God over the centuries and demonstrated love for their fellow men through countless acts of charity. Such selfless, agape love is not a mark of atheism.’ And more lies from a Christian who has to pretend how great he is and attack anyone else. People have done great works of art for all sorts of gods, so that fails too, as evidence. And works to help others just so you get magical presents in the afterlife is not love, that’s just greed. Happily, atheists can do good things without demanding payment.”
Response: I really hit a nerve with this one. The atheist considered my statement arrogant and condescending. I did not mean it to be so. Anyone, God believer or atheist, can do good works. Nevertheless, I cannot help but reflect on the many great works of faith over the centuries. The most notable universities in Europe and America were founded by Christians and were intended to propagate the Christian message. They may no longer play that role, but their origins must not be forgotten. And think about the many hospitals that were financed by various Christian denominations and continue to receive support from people of faith. Also, consider Christian outreach to the poor. I know not about motivations. Perhaps some persons do good works only in expectation of a heavenly reward, but I do not believe that to be true for most people. One thing is certain, it would be a much bleaker world if it were not for Christian charity
“Atheism is just a lack of a belief in a god or gods. You are an atheist too, just like me. It is our world view that is the difference.”
Response: I did not understand this statement. Yes, our world views are different. But I am no atheist. Without a belief in God, the world makes no sense to me whatever.
And may God bless you, my friend, even though you don’t believe in Him.