Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas List from John Loftus

The atheist writer John Loftus has just posted a list of intellectual demands from God.  These are six things he think God should do, or should have done, to prove His reality to John, and by implication perhaps to other skeptics. 

When I saw John's list, I immediately thought of the door to our boy's bedroom. 

My boys write something very like this list at Christmas, only they’re more modest. They tape six or seven “demands” to the door. Things like joysticks for a flight simulator, airsoft guns, books on subjects that interest them, even foods they like. Only not only do they ask for smaller presents, they give their parents an “opt-out” on less urgent requests. They might write something like "non-essential" next to one or more item.  And they don’t really seem to think fulfilling their requests is absolutely obligatory.

As a matter of fact, I think God has given us at least two of the items on John's Christmas list.  (My kids don't usually expect more than that!)

But more to the point, my kids recognize that gift's come at the gift-giver's discretion.  They seem to understand that their parents love them, but that gift-giving decisions are also subject to constraints of which we might still have, in some ways, a better understanding than they do. 

They also know to expect the unexpected.  We are human, and limited in imagination, but what would Christmas be without happy surprises!  

Personally, I think the intellectual presents God has actually given, are more interesting than the ones John is asking for.  (Many of which I've touched on in various blogs over the past year, including "The Twelve Books of Christmas" series, which I interrupt to post this gut response to John . . . ) 

Reading over Philip Yancey's contribution to our new book yesterday, it also occurs to me that (as Dr. Brand explained) the very nature of a fixed reality forces constraints even on God. 

Isn't that the way it would be, if God is God, which is something more than a parent?  Wouldn't God's understanding of what we really need, in the way of "reasons to believe," be more than we kids can think up to tape on our bedroom door? 

For example, there's this item:

“There would not be so much religious diversity around the globe if there is a God who wants us to believe in him. The probability that the Christian God exists is reduced in direct proportion by the amount of religious diversity that exists, and there is way too much of it to suppose that he does.”

I’ve answered this argument two or three times, in response to John's “Outsider Test.” I maintain, on the contrary, that the actual data of world religions tremendously confirms the Christian faith, often in fantastic and undreamed of ways. And unlike John (we all have our life journeys), I've in non-Christian cultures, and studying non-Christian religions, for many decades.  World religions is my primary area of academic expertise. 

John has read those posts.  His “response” so far has been along the lines of, “That’s interesting, maybe I should respond some time.”

Until he does, maybe he should past another request on the bedroom door.  Last Christmas he asked for a tricycle, and got a mountain bike, instead. 

Which brings up that age-old, Willy Wonka question: "Can a child enjoy Christmas, with the wrong attitude?"

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