Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

Conspiracy Theories

Monday, October 30th, 2017

As political conspiracy theories fly about in the political sphere, it’s interesting to note that such theories have not fared well in the realm of Bible studies.

One theory that goes back to early times and is revived every few years is the notion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, buried it secretly, and then pretended that they saw him alive. Another theory had him surviving the crucifixion and then pretending he was resurrected.

There are massive amounts of evidence why such conspiracies are unlikely. For example, if Jesus never died, what happened to him after Easter? Wouldn’t he have lived a normal life on earth–instead of “ascending” into Heaven, as the Bible teaches? And if the disciples had hidden his body, their deception would surely have been discovered by local authorities who were anxious to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah risen from the dead.

Another fanciful theory, for which there isn’t a shred of contemporary evidence, is that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene.

There’s nothing like a secret plot to spur the human imagination. Happily, for Christians, the evidence is strong that Christ was who he said he was. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


The President and His Religion

Monday, December 19th, 2016

As far as I know, we have never had a professed atheist President. Our last two leaders, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were faithful churchgoers.

Donald Trump’s personal faith is not clear. He claims membership in the Marble Collegiate Church around the corner from Incarnation; he met his second wife while attending a service there and pastors of that church have officiated at one at least of his weddings. One of his grandchildren was baptized in an Episcopal Church.

Doubtless, then, Mr. Trump would claim to be a Christian in something resembling good standing. It remains to be seen, however, how his faith will affect his decisions as president.

Of course, one can be a fine political leader without being a Christian or a believer of any kind. Americans may put too much emphasis on the personal religion of its presidents. And one thing is certain: we don’t need hypocrisy in high places. —J. Douglas Ousley


Defense of the Faith

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

On a recent vacation, I read a new book by Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies. The book, recommended to me by a parishioner who edits religious books for a prestigious university press, deals with the alleged conflict between science and religion.

Plantinga is a distinguished Christian philosopher who work I first studied in 1971 when I was reading for a postgraduate degree in London. Much of his work depends on a detailed knowledge of mathematics, physics and logic, but in this book, the technical material appears in small print and can be skipped. The bulk of Where the Conflict Really Lies is devoted to defending theism as a more intelligible way to construe science, the universe, and human beings. In the spirit of C. S. Lewis, it far surpasses his work in its confident demolition of atheist positions.

I recommend the book to all thoughtful people–Christians, other believers, and atheists. —J. Douglas Ousley


Hate Speech?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Thankfully, complaints addressed to our parish are few and far between. I did, however, receive two irate phone messages over the Christmas weekend, possibly from the same family.

The man and the woman each complained about the bells we played after the midnight mass on Christmas Eve; they said the bells waked them up as well as children who were staying with them.

I can understand the complaints; we stopped playing the daily bells at 9 AM so as not to disturb people who work night shifts, and I can imagine some people might be annoyed at being waked up. However, we do this only once a year, and few people work on Christmas Day, so the annoyance should be manageable. Outside noise from construction and traffic in the middle of the night is not exactly unknown in this busy neighborhood.

Most unusually, in his message, the man referred to “#@*&! Christians” while the woman said she “hated” our church and would never attend there. I wonder if they would have used these terms about a synagogue or a mosque. In any event, I had no way to respond or express sympathy, since the messages were anonymous. —J. Douglas Ousley


War of the Hitchens’

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

It is remarkable to read Peter Hitchens’ memoir, The Rage Against God:How Atheism Led Me to Faith, just after his brother, Christopher’s autobiographical reflections, Hitch-22. The latter is famous for his atheistic tract, God is Not Great. Peter details his own return to faith in conscious sibling rivalry. Ironically, both brothers, who have been known as foreign journalists and political analysts look likely to be remembered for their opposing views of religion.

My own views of the books: While Peter’s memoir meanders is a bit critical of trendiness in the Church of England, he offers many good reasons for embracing the consolations of faith. While Christopher’s tract is filled with weak atheistic arguments, his memoir is brilliant and often riveting. Both brothers deserve the gratitude of believers for bringing religious questions back onto the best-seller list. –J. Douglas Ousley