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Jennifer Fulwiler atheism ChristianityFor life-long atheist Jennifer Fulwiler, the pivotal moment came when she held her first child for the first time.

“I looked down and thought ‘what is this baby’?” she recalled in a YouTube video. “From a pure atheist, materialist perspective, he is a collection of randomly evolved chemical reactions.

“I realized if that’s true, then all the love I feel for him is nothing more than chemical reactions in my brain. I looked down at him and I realized, ‘that’s not true’. It’s not the truth.”

Jennifer went on to research the world’s major faiths, but considered Christianity not worth the bother. Then her husband suggested she investigate Christianity because one of its most significant claims — that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh — would be easy to disprove if it wasn’t true.

So she did. Jennifer discovered a world of deeply intellectual thinkers (like Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo) who were also serious Jesus followers.

Men like them made such a compelling, reason-based case for the life, death and resurrection of Christ that, in Jennifer’s words, “I started to think something world-changing happened in first-century Palestine.”

Jennifer realized that atheists “don’t have the lock on reason that I thought. Christians had all the knowledge of science, but they have the total picture of the human experience — love and triumph and hope. Christians could articulate that in a way that atheists couldn’t.”

The result of all this is Jennifer went from denying there is a creator, to becoming a serious follower of the man that most Christians know is the Son of God.

Why do all this? Let me make it clear that following Jesus can be hard, especially when most of the world (sometimes including your family and friends) doesn’t follow Him and you can be mocked or even disowned for your beliefs.

As far as I’m concerned, the upside more than compensates. When I decided to follow Jesus, little things immediately changed (I stopped cursing and swearing) and bigger things followed (my wife and I have a firm commitment to donate regularly to charities and to our church).

In other words, like me, you’ll get a new perspective on life. The holy grails of our culture — gaining power and prestige, buying a bigger house, going on expensive cruises, having the latest iPhone — will start to look shallow and pointless.

You’ll start living for the approval of your creator, who the Bible says “loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in his Son would not be lost, but have eternal life.”

And as you start living for God and start attending a church regularly, you’ll be surrounded by others who are also in the midst of being transformed by following Jesus.

Finally, when this life is over, you’ll have real and solid hope that you won’t become nothing more than rancid worm food. You’ll become a citizen of Heaven.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

TruthOfMotivation 6.15What’s your motivation to do good? I wondered about that after seeing this graphic on an Internet atheism community.

Is it true that people who follow Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians consider to be God’s Son — do good only because of fear and a desire of eternal reward in Heaven?

Here’s the answer: Almost all Christians are motivated by faith and trust in Jesus. When He was physically on earth, Jesus told His followers stuff like this:

  • Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God (that’s from a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’).
  • Whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me (also from ‘Matthew’).
  • Be generous. Give to the poor (from ‘Luke’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ life).

It’s statements like these, and many more in the Bible, that inspire millions of Jesus followers to fuel the work of Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion Canada, World Vision, Food For The Hungry, International Justice Mission, World Relief Canada and many more.

Most Christians keep in mind this key Bible statement, found in a section called ‘John’: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Jesus, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Since God loves the world (and that means EVERYONE in it), then those who follow God’s Son should have the same attitude.

Is it true that atheists only do “the right thing” because “it’s the human thing to do”? Well, let’s look at the truth: figuring out what is right is very often like staring into a mud puddle. What’s right for one person (atheist or otherwise) is often quite wrong for another. Just a few bloodcurdling examples:

  • In Nazi Germany, the right thing to do was imprison, torture and exterminate millions of Jews, gypsies, Slavic people, serious Christians and many other groups.
  • In 1994 Rwanda, the right thing to do, for thousands of Hutu people, was slaughter members of the Tutsi tribe. As many as a million died before the massacre ended.
  • During the 1970s in Cambodia, the right thing to do, for many thousands of members of the Pol Pot regime, was execute, starve and torture more than a million people.

When I consider all this, it makes sense to decide what is good or right by following the one person who always had (and has) it figured out: Jesus Christ.

By following in Jesus and trusting in what He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection, you’ll find yourself doing good things. Why? Because when you believe in Jesus, your life will be, in a word, transformed. Now and for all eternity.

Interested? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

faithIf I’ve learned anything during my years of writing about faith, it’s that there are folks out there who absolutely DETEST that word.

Most of those people would vigorously agree with the graphic that inspired this essay, which I found on an Internet atheism community.

Maybe you’ve never given the word much thought, but now that you’ve read the graphic, you’re thinking “ya, it’s all about ignorance!”.

So let’s look at the word for a moment. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines it as: 1. complete trust or confidence; 2. firm, especially religious, belief; 3. religion or creed; 4. loyalty, trustworthiness.

First off, I want nothing to do with “religion” and this essay explains why: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-eu.

Secondly, would anyone in their right mind credibly call someone like Henry Schaefer ignorant? Schaefer, a chemist, earned the 1979 American Chemical Society Award in pure chemistry. He also wrote Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?

Here’s another person that no thinking person could ever label ignorant: Ard Louis teaches theoretical physics at Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Before that, he managed to get rid of just enough ignorance to teach theoretical chemistry at Cambridge University.

What do Schaefer and Louis have in common? They’re Christians. And there are many, many more followers of Jesus Christ out there who are making contributions in chemistry, physics, engineering and biomedical sciences.

Schaefer and Louis have what the Pocket Oxford calls “complete trust or confidence” in Christ — His teachings, His death, His resurrection and the truth of what Jesus said about His creator (who also happens to be your creator).

So what isn’t faith? A pastor at my church, Henry Shore, laid it out just a week ago:

  • Faith is not a positive mental attitude.
  • Faith is not a belief in a force or in a formula
  • Faith is not psyching yourself up with wishful thinking
  • Faith is not believing I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.
  • Faith is not believing if I believe hard enough, like some TV preachers would have us believe, then it’ll become a reality.
  • Faith is not faith in our words, it is not faith in ourselves, it is not faith in faith.
  • True faith is in God. The focus isn’t on the faith; but on the object of our faith.

From a Christian perspective, faith is having firm belief — based on a mix of evidence and belief — that there is a creator for all that you and I see and experience. And that creator offers you and I a gift: Jesus, whom serious Christians believe is God’s son.

Look into that gift. Talk to knowledgeable Christians about Him. Despite what your friends and family may tell you, this is important and serious stuff. And it’s good news.

Albert Einstein God quoteDid Alberta Einstein believe in God?

A quick Internet search reveals this question has been debated for many decades, even before the famed physicist (1879-1955) and secular Jew died.

According to Wikipedia, Einstein used many labels to describe his “religious” views, including agnostic (one who simply doesn’t know if there’s a God) and religious nonbeliever (which appears to be pursuing inner spirituality without any connection to a creator).

Whichever term you prefer, I get the feeling Einstein lived most, if not all, of his life as if there was no God. In other words, he likely had more in common with atheists than with people of faith.

All that said, what about the quote in the graphic that inspired this essay? In some ways, he and I are in absolute agreement.

I am weak. Just like every other person on this planet. Fear, mistrust and self-doubt are part of my makeup. Just as they are part of yours.

So rather than God being a product of my human weakness, God is the solution — but not the sort of distant, disinterested creator that Einstein may or may not have believed in. (Wikipedia’s Einstein entry indicates he once wrote, “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this.”)

A creator who simply winds up the universe like a clock, then walks away and lets it run with no concern or involvement is not a creator I would bother with. Would you?

But a creator that inspired and energized the entire life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s son)? Ah, that’s a God who’s making a difference in this broken world.

According to the Bible (which a majority of Christians take very seriously), that God offers this world a gift: Jesus, his life, teachings, sacrificial death and resurrection.

In ‘John’, one of four Bible accounts of Jesus life, a creator who cares about this world and everyone in it, “didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He [Jesus] came to help, to put the world right again.

Because all of us are weak, because all of us do wrong and fail to do right, I call that good news. And by accepting the gift of Jesus, we accept a perfect, eternal source of energy, confidence and love to help us overcome our weaknesses.

In addition, we have the encouragement (and often, the example) of other Jesus followers. When I join them in church, in prayer/discussion groups, in trips to help people in the developing world, I benefit from (and help contribute to) a synergy: the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you want to get in on this? Yes or no, type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

Mike O'BrienUntil his recent death, I’d never heard of Mike O’Brien. You probably haven’t either. But something he wrote sure grabbed my attention. This is the start of a story about O’Brien in the Calgary Herald:

In his final blog posting, Mike O’Brien said he exuded faith — faith in his radiologist, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and counsellors — but not in God.

“Of course, I may be wrong. I often am. Fortunately, if God really exists, I’m confident he’ll look at my overall record and let me slide on the faith/skeptic issue. It just sounds like the kind of decent thing he’d do,” he wrote.

I need to satisfy your curiosity before going any further. O’Brien, who died of cancer at age 51, warranted a newspaper article because of his roles in several Canadian TV series, including the comedy cult favourite Corner Gas.

So, what about Mike’s blog post?

I can certainly understand why a hideous disease like cancer might turn a person into an atheist. A life-threatening condition tends to drive the victim into the arms of God or into the arms of…well, nothing, I guess.

The thing is, Mike exuded faith in an entire team of people. And, sadly, all those people could not stop what was happening to him.

Meanwhile, Mike ignored his creator. Now, considering what happened to him, you might say “well, what good did Mike’s creator do for him? He died of cancer!”

On the surface, I get that. But hang on; what if relieving Mike of his four-year painful struggle meant bringing him home? That might not be what his loved ones wanted, but do we painfully imperfect humans always know what’s best?

Sadly, I’m not sure the story goes like I just put it. I’m glad Mike left this world confident that if there’s a creator, that creator would “look at my overall record and let me slide on the faith/skeptic issue”.

But where on earth would such confidence come from? How does Mike, or anyone else on this planet, know how their overall record really looks?

The God that most Christians believe in is active in this world. He created us to have a relationship with Him – now and for all eternity. We messed that up by going our own way and, so often, doing what Mike did: claim He doesn’t even exist and this planet – heck this universe – somehow came from nowhere.

To repair that broken relationship, God has done far more than what Mike might call the “decent thing”; He offers us a gift: Jesus Christ, who serious Christians believe is God’s son.

Jesus lived an extraordinary life, offered love and forgiveness to folks you and I wouldn’t turn our head to glance at, then died to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. To finish it off, he came back to life after three days, showing God’s power to do whatever God wants.

All we have to do is accept the gift of Jesus. Then we can have more than Mike’s vague optimism. We can have complete confidence that when this life ends, God will absolutely overlook our many, many shortcomings and welcome us into His presence forever.

Interested? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

atheism humanityWhen I read this graphic on an Internet atheism community, I started searching my mind.

When was the last time anyone — even my wife — “demanded” I get up early every Sunday and go to church? I’m still searching and still haven’t found a single instance.

In my faith, Christianity, Sunday church services are important because they bring together followers of Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the Son of God) to:

  • strengthen each other;
  • learn together how to be better Christians, and;
  • pray together and for each other and for a world that I think we can all admit isn’t doing very well.

So has it ever happened where one Christian has demanded or “guilted” another into attending church services? I’m sure it has, but I’ll venture to write that those occasions are truly regrettable. No one should ever be forced to attend “religious” events. It should *always* be voluntary.

What about “overdressing”? Um, welcome to 1955; they want their suits, fedoras, dresses and white gloves back.

In a vast majority of North American churches, what you wear is pretty much irrelevant. The church I attend includes teens in jeans and T-shirts, seniors in suits and dresses, middle-aged men in cowboy boots and even recent African immigrants who love wearing their colourful ceremonial outfits. For many years, I haven’t gone to church in anything fancier than jeans and a golf shirt.

Are there churches where your clothing matters? Yes. But a majority of those churches are in decline; God doesn’t care what you wear to church, since He knows you inside and out and isn’t fooled by fancy and expensive outfits.

Apologize for being human? I suppose some people might think that’s what happens. But what really happens, in most Christian churches, is people apologize for the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do.

Let’s be plain here: in the Bible (which most Christians take seriously) Jesus Christ never once asked a single person to “apologize” for being human. And He still doesn’t today.

Bruxy Cavey, a Canadian pastor, tweeted this about our humanity: “I’m only human.” There is nothing “only” about being human.

Why did Bruxy tweet that? Because God made you and I and everyone else human. God made His Son human. So to “apologize” for that or feel bad about that is to insult our creator.

Finally, “nobody really knows where all this came from”? Well, where (and who) else would it come from but God?

In the end, while I very much appreciate the work done by dudes in lab coats (their work often tells me how God does stuff) I’d rather trust my creator. Because I love Him and follow His Son, I have a better life NOW. And I have ETERNAL life with Christ. Not even the most celebrated scientist can offer me that.

What are your thoughts? Post them below and let’s have a conversation.

Embracing FreedomSometimes, I’m amazed at all the things atheists and Christians have in common. That was my reaction when I saw this graphic posted in an Atheist Internet community.

I consider following Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the son of God) to be freedom.

Freedom to wonder. I can wonder how God does stuff like creating planets, creating babies and creating the mysterious relationship between my free will and His will. I can wonder how Jesus was God AND human at the same time (this is a core belief for serious Christians). I can wonder how He can (and does) love people who are simply beyond my pathetic ability to even tolerate.

Freedom to explore. I can explore science, just like atheists and just like Christian scientists such as Francis S. Collins (who helped map the human genome). I can explore different faiths and understand how they’re different from Christianity. I can explore who and what God is, even as I know I’ll never get all the answers (and that’s OK).

Freedom to doubt. I can read parts of the Bible where people who feel abandoned by God cry out to Him. In one section, called Psalms, the writer states “Has our Lord rejected us forever? Will he never again speak to us? Has God forgotten what mercy is?” I can feel amazement that this is in the Bible — amazement and relief, because it means I’m NOT condemned if (well, when is more accurate) I ask the same questions.

Freedom to be me. A key part of the Christian faith is that human beings are not only accepted, they are LOVED by God for exactly who they are. Right now. With all our faults, jealousies, doubts, fears, misplaced anger, pettiness, greed, self-centredness and ludicrous sense of entitlement.

How do I know this? Because one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ life, simply called ‘John’, says “God loved the world so much [and that includes you and me, with all our quirks and faults] that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.”

No one has “damned you into sin from birth”. It simply happened, whether you and I like it or not. We enter this world thinking only of ourselves; everything revolves around us. And to a certain extent, we carry at least some of that thinking right through to adulthood and old age.

Everything DOESN’T revolve around us. You and I are NOT God. And to the extent that we (encouraged by our culture) believe that we are, that is sin. Like it or not.

So I say, embrace reason. Embrace the God who wants to embrace YOU. Accept the gift He offers you — the Son who:

  • brought extraordinary ideas to the world (like loving your enemies);
  • died to make up for the wrong things you and I have done and the right things we’ve failed to do, and;
  • came back to life to prove He’s God and the Bible’s predictions about Him are true.

What do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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