How to recognize a man-made God

In the play Inherit the Wind, there’s a line that goes something like this: “God created man in His own image, and man, being a gentleman, returned the compliment.” I was an evangelical Christian when I first heard this little snark, but surprisingly it did not offend me even then. Whether or not you believe in God, it’s only too easy to find other Gods who clearly have been shaped to suit the preferences and personality of their followers.

What makes these man-made gods so easy to recognize is that their creators invariably project their own prejudices, preferences, and biases onto the gods they create. Sexists imagine a God Who is male and insists on male supremacy and the subordination of women. Racists imagine a God Who treasures “racial purity,” promotes white supremacy, and looks on mixed-race marriage as immoral and sinful. Homophobes create a God Who hates gays and insists on restricting marriage to heterosexual couples only. Lustful men invent a God Who blesses His sons with multiple wives, and defines marriage as the union of one man and one or more women. And so on.

It is somewhat ironic, then, that modern day Christians preach so loudly that their own God is one of the obviously man-made Gods we just listed. In “defending” what they see as the sacred institution of marriage, they are inadvertently exposing one of the great weaknesses of their faith: that their God is merely a very human set of prejudices and superstitions, enshrined as deity in order to lend believers a false weight of authority.

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XFiles Weekend: What is apologetics?

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Chapter 1: “What is apologetics?”)

Today we begin our look at On Guard, by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig, as we saw last week, is widely regarded as being “among the very best defenders of Christianity in this generation.” A man well-trained in the subject matter, with double doctorates (in theology and philosophy), Dr. Craig is well situated to give Christianity the very best defense it can possibly receive from mortal men. And that, in fact, is precisely the goal he intends to accomplish in On Guard.

That makes this book particularly well-suited for our discussion, because we can address Dr. Craig’s arguments with the confidence that they reflect genuine and authoritative Christian positions. But this book is much more than that. As I’ve mentioned before, God does not show up in real life, and therefore there is nothing that can be known about Him by direct observation. In His absence, it’s up to men like Dr. Craig to review and organize and update the doctrines men have written down in the past: things men have said about God and speculated about God and attributed to God. The teachings of men, in short, are the source of our knowledge about God (or at least the Christian one).

What Dr. Craig does, like other notable theologians and apologists over the years, is to take the arguments men have made in the past, and improve them by trying to make them more coherent, as well as incorporating new material (like the Big Bang theory) that earlier theologians were unaware of. In other words, in God’s absence, Dr. Craig is not only an expert witness about Christian theology, he is one of the sources of modern Christian faith. Through his great training and advanced intellect, he’s not just defending Christianity, he’s playing a significant role in creating it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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How far we’ve fallen

For the past several years, we’ve gone without cable TV, both to help the kids focus on their schoolwork and because there’s only a few good channels, like the Learning Channel and the History Channel. But this year we decided to turn it back on again–the kids are older and more responsible, and the local cable access channel has some school activities we wanted to see. And while we’re at it, there were some good shows on the History Channel.

Ugh. Underline the past tense in that last sentence. Last night we were flipping through the channels, and there was a show on the History Channel all about the Rapture. It sounded like a very interesting show. There’s a lot of history behind the idea of the Rapture, starting with the original post-Tribulational Rapture mentioned in Matthew and Thessalonians, on through the early 1800’s and the “visions” of a Pentecostal girl named Margaret McDonald, which then got picked up and popularized by J. N. Darby and the Scofield Reference Bible. And this, in turn, led to a revival of British and American millennialism which played no small role in the establishment of Israel as a Western-backed state in Palestine. Some really cool material that could use some good, solid historical research and presentation.

Boy was I in for a let-down. Read the rest of this entry »

XFiles Weekend: On Guard, by William Lane Craig

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Introduction: “Foreword,” by Lee Strobel.)

In the introduction to On Guard, noted evangelist Lee Strobel describes the author in these terms.

William Lane Craig is, in my opinion, among the very best defenders of Christianity in this generation. With doctorates in philosophy and theology, a sharp and incisive mind, and the passionate heart of an evangelist, Bill travels the globe debating some of the most ardent and articulate atheists. Invariably, their arguments against God wither in the face of Bill’s affirmative evidence for the existence of a Creator and the truth of the Christian faith.

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? After 2,000 years of looking, someone with a “sharp and incisive mind” (and a double doctorate, don’t forget) has finally come up with affirmative evidence for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. About time, don’t you think?

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