Tag Archives: paul kurtz

Gary Habermas explains the reasons for Antony Flew’s change of mind

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Antony Flew on God and Atheism

Published on Feb 11, 2013

Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death (he’s a much better thinker than Richard Dawkins too – even when he was an atheist). His conversion to God-belief has caused an uproar among atheists. They have done all they can to lessen the impact of his famous conversion by shamelessly suggesting he’s too old, senile and mentally deranged to understand logic and science anymore.

News on Antony Flew’s conversion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1e4FU…

Interview and discussion with Antony Flew:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53REH…

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Does Belief in God Make Sense in Light of Tsunamis? William Lane Craig vs. A.C. Grayling

Published on Aug 14, 2013

Date: 2005
Location: Oxford Union, University of Oxford (audio replayed July 5, 2011 on Unbelievable? Premier Christian Radio)

Christian debater: William Lane Craig
[New] Atheist debater: A.C. Grayling

For William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/
For A.C. Grayling: http://www.acgrayling.com/
To purchase this debate: http://apps.biola.edu/apologetics-sto…

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The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.

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Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010

A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008

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During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.” I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work.

The famous atheist Antony Flew was actually took the time to listen to several of these messages and he wrote me back in the mid 1990′s several times.

Gary Habermas does a great job below of quoting Flew’s own words and documenting the reasons Flew left atheism.

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Antony Flew’s Deism Revisited

Antony Flew’s Deism Revisited

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His MindA Review Essay on There Is a God

Gary Habermas
Department of Philosophy and Theology
Liberty University
Lynchburg, Virginia


There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. By Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 256 pages. $24.95.

When preeminent philosophical atheist Antony Flew announced in 2004 that he had come to believe in God’s existence and was probably best considered a deist, the reaction from both believers and skeptics was “off the chart.” Few religious stories had this sort of appeal and impact, across the spectrum, both popular as well as theoretical.  No recent change of mind has received this much attention. Flew responded by protesting that his story really did not deserve this much interest. But as he explained repeatedly, he simply had to go where the evidence led.

Some Background

It was this last sentence, repeated often in interviews, that really interested me. Having known Tony well over more than twenty years, I had heard him repeat many things like it, as well as other comments that might be termed “open minded.” He had insisted that he was open to God’s existence, to special revelation, to miracles, to an afterlife, or to David Hume being in error on this or that particular point. To be truthful, I tended to set aside his comments, thinking that while they were made honestly, perhaps Tony still was not as open as he had thought.

Then very early in 2003 Tony indicated to me that he was considering theism, backing off a few weeks later and saying that he remained an atheist with “big questions.” One year later, in January 2004, Tony told me that he had indeed become a theist, just as quickly adding, however, that he was “not the revelatory kind” of believer. That was when I heard him say for the first time that he was just following where the evidence led. Then I remembered all the earlier occasions when he had insisted that he was not objecting to God or the supernatural realm on a priori grounds. I was amazed. Tony was indeed willing to consider the evidence!

There was an immediate outcry from many in the skeptical community. Perhaps Tony Flew was simply too old, or had not kept up on the relevant literature. The presumption seemed to be that, if he had been doing so, then he would not have experienced such a change of mind. One joke quipped that, at his advanced age, maybe he was just hedging his bets in favor of an afterlife!

One persistent rumor was that Tony Flew really did not believe in God after all. Or perhaps he had already recanted his mistake. Paul Kurtz’s foreword to the republication of Flew’s classic volume God and Philosophy identified me as “an evangelical Christian philosopher at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University,” noting my interview with Flew and my “interpretation” that Tony now believed in God.[1] Kurtz seemed to think that perhaps the question still remained as to whether Flew believed in God. After explaining that Flew’s “final introduction” to the reissued volume had undergone the process of four drafts, Kurtz concluded that readers should “decide whether or not he has abandoned his earlier views.”[2]

In his introduction to this same text, Flew both raised at least a half-dozen new issues since his book had first appeared in 1966, as well as mentioning questions about each of these subjects. Included were discussions on contemporary cosmology, fine-tuning arguments, some thoughts regarding Darwin’s work, reflections on Aristotle’s view of God, as well as Richard Swinburne’s many volumes on God and Christian theism. Hints of theism were interspersed alongside some tough questions.[3]

Of course, book text must be completed well before the actual date of publication. But several news articles had appeared earlier, telling the story of what Flew referred to as his “conversion.”[4] Early in 2005, my lengthier interview with Flew was published in Philosophia Christi.[5] Another excellent interview was conducted by Jim Beverly, in which Flew also evaluated the influence of several major Christian philosophers.[6]

In many of these venues, Flew explained in his own words that he was chiefly persuaded to abandon atheism because of Aristotle’s writings about God and due to a number of arguments that are often associated with Intelligent Design. But his brand of theism – or better yet, deism[7] – was not a variety that admitted special revelation, including either miracles or an afterlife. While he acknowledged most of the traditional attributes for God, he stopped short of affirming any divine involvement with humans.

Along the way, Flew made several very positive comments about Christianity, and about Jesus, in particular. Jesus was a first rate moral philosopher, as well as a preeminent charismatic personality, while Paul had a brilliant philosophical mind. While rejecting miracles, Flew held that the resurrection is the best-attested miracle-claim in history.[8]

It is against this background that we turn to the latest chapter in the ongoing account of Antony Flew’s pilgrimage from ardent atheism to deism. Further clarifying his religious views, especially for those who might have thought that the initial report was too hasty, or suspected incorrect reporting, or later backtracking on Flew’s part, the former atheistic philosopher has now elucidated his position. In a new book that is due to be released before the end of the year, Flew chronicles the entire story of his professional career, from atheism to deism, including more specific reasons for his change. Along the way, several new aspects have been added.

Discussion (2 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

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Antony Flew’s Influence

Signifying his change of view, the cover of Flew’s new book cleverly reads, “There Is No God,” but the word “No” is scribbled out and the word “A” is handwritten above it. Flew terms this work his “last will and testament,” noting that the subtitle “was not my own invention” (1).[9] The contents are nothing short of a treasure trove of details from Flew’s life, including his family, education, publications, and interactions with many now world-famous philosophers, not to mention the long-awaited reasons for his becoming a deist.

The volume begins with a preface written by Roy Varghese,[10] followed by an introduction by Flew. Part 1, “My Denial of the Divine,” contains three chapters on Flew’s previous atheism.

The book opens with a reverberating bang. Varghese’s eighteen-page preface sets the tone for much of the remainder of the text. He begins with the breaking news in late 2004 of Antony Flew’s newly-announced belief in God. Varghese then notes that

the response to the AP story from Flew’s fellow atheists verged on hysteria. . . . Inane insults and juvenile caricatures were common in the freethinking blogosphere. The same people who complained about the Inquisition and witches being burned at the stake were now enjoying a little heresy hunting of their own. The advocates of tolerance were not themselves very tolerant. And, apparently, religious zealots don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism, incivility, fanaticism, and paranoia. (vii – viii)

Varghese ends by stating that, “Flew’s position in the history of atheism transcends anything that today’s atheists have on offer” (viii).

This last comment serves as an entree to two of the more interesting arguments in the book. Considering Flew’s impact in the history of modern atheism, Varghese argues initially that, “within the last hundred years, no mainstream philosopher has developed the kind of systematic, comprehensive, original, and influential exposition of atheism that is to be found in Antony Flew’s fifty years of antitheological writings” (ix). He then considers the contributions to atheism produced by well-known philosophers such as A. J. Ayer, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Martin Heidegger. Varghese finds that none of these scholars “took the step of developing book-length arguments to support their personal beliefs” (x).

More recent writers are also mentioned, among them Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida, J. L. Mackie, Paul Kurtz, and Michael Martin. While they might be said to have contributed more material on behalf of atheism, “their works did not change the agenda and framework of discussion the way Flew’s innovative publications did” (x).

But Flew’s writings like “Theology and Falsification” (“the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last century” [vi – vii]), God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism, and other publications set the philosophical tone of atheism for a generation of scholars. Along with Flew’s many other books and essays, one could hardly get through a contemporary philosophy class, especially in philosophy of religion, without being at least introduced to his theses.

Varghese also raises a second crucial topic in the history of twentieth-century philosophy – Flew’s relation to logical positivism. Many works treat Flew’s ideas, especially those in “Theology and Falsification,” as a more subtle, analytic outgrowth of positivism. Sometimes it is thought that Flew attempted to refurbish a less dogmatic application of the discredited verification principle, popularized by Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic.[11]

However, Flew did not interpret his essay in this manner. In 1990, he explained his thinking that logical positivism made an “arrogant announcement” that sought to rule out theology and ethics in an a priori manner. The resulting discussion had often become stagnated. Flew wanted to provide an opportunity for the free discussion of religious issues: “Let the believers speak for themselves, individually and severally” (xiii – xiv).

In an article in 2000, Flew explained that his purpose in first reading the paper at a meeting of C. S. Lewis’ Socratic Club, was that “I wanted to set these discussions off onto new and hopefully more fruitful lines.”[12] In another interview that I did with Tony in Oxford in 2005, Flew attested that he saw his essay as slamming the door on positivism at the Socratic Club. He attests that the purpose of his essay “was intended to simply refute the positivistic stance against religious utterances. It succeeded in that, but then its influence spread outside of Oxford.”[13]

These two topics – Flew’s influence on the philosophical atheism of the second half of the twentieth century and his purpose in first presenting his essay “Theology and Falsification” – are key chapters in the life of this major British philosopher. Varghese does well to remind us of Flew’s influence. As he concludes, it is in this context that “Flew’s recent rejection of atheism was clearly a historic event” (xi).

Flew then begins the remainder of the book with an introduction. Referring to his “conversion” from atheism to deism, he begins by affirming clearly that, “I now believe there is a God!” (1). As for those detractors who blamed this on Flew’s “advanced age” and spoke of a sort of “deathbed conversion,” Flew reiterates what he has said all along: he still rejects the afterlife and is not placing any “Pascalian bets” (2).

In a couple stunning comments, Flew then reminds his readers that he had changed his mind on other major issues throughout his career. He states, “I was once a Marxist.” Then, more than twenty years ago, “I retracted my earlier view that all human choices are determined entirely by physical causes” (3).

Discussion (3 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

The Making of an Atheist

Part 1 (“My Denial of the Divine”) consists of three chapters, intriguingly titled, “The Creation of an Atheist,” “Where the Evidence Leads,” and “Atheism Calmly Considered.” This material is simply a delightful read, consisting of many autobiographical details regarding Flew’s career and research, along with many enjoyable as well as amusing anecdotes.

In chapter 1, Flew reviews his childhood and early life. This includes detailed references to his father: an Oxford University graduate, with two years of study at Marburg University in Germany, who had become a Methodist minister very much interested in evangelism, as well as a professor of New Testament at a theological college in Cambridge. It was from his father that Tony learned, at an early age, the value of good research and of checking relevant sources before conclusions are drawn.

Flew even stated in some of his atheist publications that he was never satisfied with the way that he had become an atheist – here described as a process that was accomplished “much too quickly, much too easily, and for what later seemed to me the wrong reasons.” Incredibly, he now reflects on his early theism that changed to atheism: “for nearly seventy years thereafter I never found grounds sufficient to warrant any fundamental reversal” (12 – 13). Nonetheless, it was an aspect of the problem of evil that affected Tony’s conversion to atheism. During family travels to Germany, he witnessed first hand some of the horrors of Nazi society and learned to detest “the twin evils of anti-Semitism and totalitarianism” (13 – 14).

Chapter 1 also includes accounts of Flew’s basically private education at a boarding school along with his years at Oxford University, interspersed with military service during World War II, as well as his “locking horns with C. S. Lewis” at Socratic Club meetings. He was present at the famous debate between Lewis and Elizabeth Anscombe in February, 1948 (22 – 4). Flew also met his wife Annis at Oxford. For all those (including myself) who have wondered through the years about Tony’s incredible notions of ethical responsibility, he states that while he had left his father’s faith, he retained his early ethics, reflected in his treatment of Annis before their marriage (25 – 6).

In Chapter 2 (“Where the Evidence Leads”), Flew reflects on his early tenure as “a hotly-energetic left-wing socialist” (33), and narrates his early philosophical interests: parapsychology, Darwinian social ethics and the notion of evolutionary progress, problems with idealism, and analytic philosophy. More details on the Socratic Club introduce some of the philosophical reactions to Flew’s “Theology and Falsification,” along with his writing of his epic God and Philosophy, his “systematic argument for atheism” (49). Flew discusses reactions from Richard Swinburne, J. L. Mackie, and Frederick Copleston. His conclusion today, as Tony has told me on several occasions, is that God and Philosophy is “a historical relic,” due to changes in his thinking which arose from other’s response to his writing. These changes are set forth in this volume (52).

Flew also discusses in chapter 2 his well-known volumes The Presumption of Atheism and Hume’s Philosophy of Belief. Philosophical reactions are recounted from Anthony Kenny, Kai Nielson, Ralph McInerny, and especially Alvin Plantinga, whose thoughts Flew calls, “By far, the headiest challenge to the argument” of the former volume (55). The chapter concludes with Flew’s changes of mind regarding some of Hume’s ideas, plus his holding and then abandoning compatibilism (56 – 64).

Ending his section on his atheism, Flew’s third chapter is “Atheism Calmly Considered.” Here he notes a number of his debates and dialogues over the years, both public and written, with Thomas Warren, William Lane Craig, Terry Miethe, Richard Swinburne, Richard Dawkins, and myself. Two conferences are also mentioned. The first (“The Shootout at the O.K. Corral”) occurred in Dallas, Texas, in 1985 and featured four prominent atheistic philosophers, playfully called “gunslingers” (Flew, Paul Kurtz, Wallace Matson, and Kai Nielson) dueling with four equally prominent theistic philosophers (Alvin Plantinga, Ralph McInerny, George Mavrodes, and William Alston). The second conference at New York University in 2004 notably included Scottish philosopher John Haldane and Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder. Here Flew stunned the participants by announcing that he had come to believe in God (74).

There Is a God

The second half of the book consists of the long-awaited reasons for Flew’s conversion to deism, titled “My Discovery of the Divine.” It includes seven chapters on Flew’s religious pilgrimage, along with the nature of the universe and life. Two appendices complete the volume.

“A Pilgrimage of Reason” (chapter 4), is the initial contribution to this section. In this essay, Flew chiefly makes the crucial point that his approach to God’s existence has been philosophical, not scientific. As he notes, “My critics responded by triumphantly announcing that I had not read a particular paper in a scientific journal or followed a brand-new development relating to abiogenesis.” But in so doing, “they missed the whole point.” Flew’s conversion was due to philosophical arguments, not scientific ones: “To think at this level is to think as a philosopher. And, at the risk of sounding immodest, I must say that this is properly the job of philosophers, not of the scientists as scientists” (90).

Thus, if scientists want to get into the fray, they “will have to stand on their own two philosophical feet” (90). Similarly, “a scientist who speaks as a philosopher will have to furnish a philosophical case. As Albert Einstein himself said, “?The man of science is a poor philosopher'” (91). Flew ends the chapter by pointing out that it is Aristotle who most exemplifies his search: “I was persuaded above all by the philosopher David Conway’s argument for God’s existence” drawn from “the God of Aristotle” (92).

The fifth chapter, “Who Wrote the Laws of Nature?” discusses the views of many major scientists, including Einstein and Hawking, along with philosophers like Swinburne and Plantinga, to argue that there is a connection between the laws of nature and the “Mind of God” (103). Flew thinks that this is still a philosophical discussion. As Paul Davies asserted in his Templeton address, “science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview,” because, “even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us” (107). The existence of these laws must be explained. Flew concludes that many contemporary thinkers “propound a vision of reality that emerges from the conceptual heart of modern science and imposes itself on the rational mind. It is a vision that I personally find compelling and irrefutable” (112).

Chapter 6 (“Did the Universe Know We Were Coming?”) discusses fine-tuning arguments and the multiverse option as another angle on the laws of nature. Among the opponents of the multiverse option, Flew lists Davies, Swinburne, and himself, in part because it simply extends the questions of life and nature’s laws (119). Regardless, Flew concludes, “So multiverse or not, we still have to come to terms with the origins of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind” (121).

Chapter 7 (“How Did Life Go Live?”) continues what Flew insists is a philosophical rather than a scientific discussion of items that are relevant to God’s existence. He discusses at least three chief issues: how there can be fully materialistic explanations for the emergence of life, the problem of reproduction at the very beginning, and DNA. Although science has not concluded these matters either, they are answering questions that are different from the philosophical issues that Flew is addressing (129). Flew concludes by agreeing with George Wald that, “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ?end-directed, self replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (132).

In the title of chapter 8, Flew asks, “Did Something Come from Nothing?” In spite of our twenty years of friendship, I was still not prepared to see Tony developing and defending a cosmological argument for God’s existence! In an essay published back in 1994, Flew had raised questions about David Hume’s philosophy and its inability to explain causation or the laws of nature (139). Then, works by philosophers David Conway and Richard Swinburne convinced him that Hume could be answered on the cosmological argument, as well. Buoyed by these refutations of Hume, Flew was now free to explore the relation between a cosmological argument for God’s existence and recent discussions regarding the beginning of the universe. Flew concludes that, “Richard Swinburne’s cosmological argument provides a very promising explanation, probably the finally right one” (145).

In chapter 9, “Finding Space for God,” Flew begins with his long-time objection to God, that a concept of “an incorporeal omnipresent Spirit” is incoherent – something analogous to talking about a “person without a body” (148). But through the 1980s and 1990s, theistic philosophers in the analytic tradition enjoyed a renaissance. Two of these, David Tracy and Brian Leftow (who succeeded Swinburne at Oxford), answered Flew’s questions. Flew now concedes that the concept of an omnipresent Spirit outside space and time is not intrinsically incoherent (153 – 4).

In “Open to Omnipotence” (chapter 10), Flew summarizes that his case for God’s existence centers on three philosophical items – the origin of the laws of nature, the organization of life, and the origin of life. What about the problem of evil? Flew states that this a separate question, but he had two chief options – an Aristotelian God who does not interfere in the world or the free-will defense. He prefers the former, especially since he thinks the latter relies on special revelation (156).

Closing the main portion of the book with some further shocking comments, Flew states, “I am entirely open to learning more about the divine Reality,” including “whether the Divine has revealed itself in human history” (156 – 7). The reason: Everything but the logically impossible is “open to omnipotence” (157).

Further, “As I have said more than once, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. If you’re wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!” (157; see also 185 – 6). He ends the chapter a few sentences later: “Some claim to have made contact with this Mind. I have not – yet. But who knows what could happen next? Some day I might hear a Voice that says, ?Can you hear me now?'” (158).

Two appendices close the book. The first is an evaluation of the “New Atheism” of writers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. The author of the first appendix, Roy Varghese, argues that “five phenomena are evident in our immediate experience that can only be explained in terms of the existence of God” (161). These five are rationality, life, consciousness, conceptual thought, and the human self, each of which is discussed. Varghese concludes that by arguing from “everyday experience” we are able to “become immediately aware that the world of living, conscious, thinking beings has to originate in a living Source, a Mind” (183).

The second appendix is an essay on the self-revelation of God, written by New Testament theologian N. T. Wright, with brief responses by Flew. Wright argues very succinctly that Jesus existed, was God incarnate, and rose from the dead (187 – 213). Flew precedes this treatment by commenting that though he does not believe the miracle of the resurrection, it “is more impressive than any by the religious competition” (186 – 7). Flew’s final reflection on Wright’s material is that it is an impressive argument – “absolutely wonderful, absolutely radical, and very powerful.” In the end, Flew remains open to divine revelation, since omnipotence could act in such a manner (213).

Comments

As I have indicated, Flew’s new book was a delightful read. This especially applies to the many autobiographical details. The intersection of his life with some of the best-known philosophers in the previous half century was nothing short of exhilarating.

It will be no surprise to anyone who has followed my published debates or dialogues with Tony that the clarification found in this volume was more than welcome. For one thing, many of his comments here were also made in our published dialogue in Philosophia Christi. Most of all, this book should clear up the rumors as to the nature of Tony’s “conversion.” He indeed believes in God, and while from the beginning rejecting special revelation along with any religious affiliation, his view of God’s nature is otherwise quite robust. Indeed, his deism includes most of the classical theological attributes. Further, Flew is also clear several times that he is open to special revelation. As Tony told me just recently, he “won’t shut the door” to the possibility of such revelation or even to hearing a word from the Deity.[14]

Of course, I predict that various skeptics will still have profound problems with the book’s content. They will not be satisfied with its proclamations. I can only imagine the nature of the complaints. If I am right about this, it may even confirm further Varghese’s charge of the vociferous nature of this community’s response to the original announcement (viii). If Varghese is also correct that Flew had produced the most vigorous defense of philosophical atheism in the last century, a guess is that some skeptics are still stung by the loss of their most prominent philosophical supporter.

I would like to have seen further clarification on a few issues in the book. For instance, it would have been very helpful if Tony had explained the precise sense in which he thought that “Theology and Falsification” was an attempt to curtail the growth of positivism. That has remained unclear to me. I, too, was taught that the article was a defense of an analytic position that only softened the force of the positivistic challenge.

Another potential question surrounds Tony’s excellent distinction between giving philosophical as opposed to scientific reasons for his belief in God. However, a discussion or chart that maps out the differences between the two methodological stances would have been very helpful. Philosophers are used to these distinctions. But I am sure that others will think that Tony is still providing two sorts of arguments for God: Aristotle plus scientific arguments like Intelligent Design scenarios.

As Tony has said several times in recent years, he remains open to the possibility of special revelation, miracles like Jesus’s resurrection, and the afterlife. In this volume he also continues to be very complimentary towards these options. I cannot pursue further this topic here. While mentioning evil and suffering, I did wonder about Tony’s juxtaposition of choosing either Aristotle’s deism or the free-will defense, which he thinks “depends on the prior acceptance of a framework of divine revelation” (156). It seems to me that the free-will defense neither asks nor requires any such revelatory commitment. So I think that it could be pursued by a deist, too. If so, that is one more potential defeater to the evil and suffering issue. I will leave it here for now.

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The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy.

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Many people have questioned the accuracy of the Bible, but I have posted many videos and articles with evidence pointing out that the Bible has many pieces of evidence from archaeology supporting the view that the Bible is historically accurate. Take a look at the video above and below.

The Bible and Archaeology (2/5)

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(Emailed to White House on 1-29-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 395) Adrian Rogers “Bring Back the Glory”

(Emailed to White House on 1-29-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 393) Adrian Rogers: Is It Too Late For America?

(Emailed to White House on 1-29-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is […]

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 12 H.J.Blackham and Materialistic Humanism: The World-View of Our Era (Feature on artist Arturo Herrera)

 

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

 

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

 

 

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

 

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)

 

 

Today I am going to look at H.J. Blackham and the artist featured today is  Arturo Herrera. Herrera’s art interests me because it is based on the idea that accidental chance can bring about something beautiful and that is the same place that materialistic modern men like Blackham have turned to when they have concluded that the origin of our existence can be explained by evolution which the combination of time, chance and matter and no designer needed.

Blackham lived to the age of 105 and died in 2009. During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.” I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work. After reading Francis Schaeffer’s book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? I was interested in corresponding with H.J. Blackham because of a very powerful and revealing quote of his in Schaeffer’s book. I wrote him in 1994 and sent him the cassette tape mentioned early but never got a response back. Below is the Blackham quote as given by Schaeffer:

The humanist H. J. Blackham had this same message that On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

Actually this one quote alone from Blackham made me want to share the message that Christ does provide a lasting meaning to our lives, and that is why I started writing several leading atheists in the 1990’s. In my letters I demonstrated that  there is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof a cautious academiwho labors foexhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)


Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Origins of the Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument) (Paul Kurtz vs Norman Geisler)

Published on Jun 6, 2012

Norm Geisler argues via Kalam Cosmological Argument for the origins of the universe with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No matter how much evidence Geisler gave, Paul Kurtz refused to fully acknowledge the implications of it, while NEVER giving evidence for his own interpretation of the universe’s beginning.

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(Paul Kurtz pictured above)

Paul Kurtz  teamed up with H.J.Blackham and put together the Humanist Manifesto II which they both signed in 1973. I wrote back in 2012 when Paul Kurtz passed away that he was a fine gentleman that I had a chance to correspond with and I read several of his books (Forbidden Fruit was his best effort). One thing I vividly remember from the writings of Paul Kurtz was his love of life and his love for others. However, how can a materialist like Kurtz stay optimistic about his future when he did not believe in God or an afterlife? At the time when I was reading his writings that question kept popping up in my mind.

It is truly ironic to me that a truly outstanding person such as the British Humanist H.J. Blackham who lived such a long and interesting life would make the statement that “…On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing…” In fact, when Norman Geisler quoted this from Blackham in his famous debate with Paul Kurtz on the John Ankerberg Show, Kurtz said he knew Blackham and he was surprised that he would say such a thing, but that had been my contention that a secularist humanist worldview would logically lead to nihilism such as the nihilism that King Solomon discussed in Ecclesiastes (more on that later). How did humanist man get to that pessimistic conclusion? Francis Schaeffer has shed some light on that in his book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

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Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Following is the first few pages of the chapter “The Basis for Human Dignity” which is found in the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? by Francis Schaeffer.

Introduction
So far in this book we have been considering an evil as great as any practiced in human history. Our society has put to death its own offspring, millions upon millions of them. Our society has justified taking their lives, even claiming it a virtue to do so. It has been said that this is a new step in our progress toward a liberated humanity.
Such a situation has not come out of a vacuum. Each of us has an overall way of looking at the world, which influences what we do day by day. This is what we call a “world-view.” And all of us have a world-view, whether we realize it or not. We act in accordance with our world-view, and our world-view rests on what to us is the ultimate truth.

Materialistic Humanism: The World-View of Our Era

What has produced the inhumanity we have been considering in the previous chapters is that society in the West has adopted a world-view which says that all reality is made up only of matter. This view is sometimes referred to as philosophic materialism, because it holds that only matter exists; sometimes it is called naturalism, because it says that no supernatural exists. Humanism which begins from man alone and makes man the measure of all things usually is materialistic in its philosophy. Whatever the label, this is the underlying world-view of our society today. In this view the universe did not get here because it was created by a “supernatural” God. Rather, the universe has existed forever in some form, and its present form just happened as a result of chance events way back in time.
Society in the West has largely rested on the base that God exists and that the Bible is true. In all sorts of ways this view affected the society. The materialistic or naturalistic or humanistic world-view almost always takes a superior attitude toward Christianity. Those who hold such a view have argued that Christianity is unscientific, that it cannot be proved, that it belongs simply to the realm of “faith.” Christianity, they say, rests only on faith, while humanism rests on facts.
Professor Edmund R. Leach of Cambridge University expressed this view clearly:
Our idea of God is a product of history. What I now believe about the supernatural is derived from what I was taught by my parents, and what they taught me was derived from what they were taught, and so on. But such beliefs are justified by faith alone, never by reason, and the true believer is expected to go on reaffirming his faith in the same verbal formula even if the passage of history and the growth of scientific knowledge should have turned the words into plain nonsense.78
So some humanists act as if they have a great advantage over Christians. They act as if the advance of science and technology and a better understanding of history (through such concepts as the evolutionary theory) have all made the idea of God and Creation quite ridiculous.
This superior attitude, however, is strange because one of the most striking developments in the last half-century is the growth of a profound pessimism among both the well-educated and less-educated people. The thinkers in our society have been admitting for a long time that they have no final answers at all.
Take Woody Allen, for example. Most people know his as a comedian, but he has thought through where mankind stands after the “religious answers” have been abandoned. In an article in Esquire (May 1977), he says that man is left with:
… alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness…. The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless. As Camus wrote, it’s not only that he (the individual) dies, or that man (as a whole) dies, but that you struggle to do a work of art that will last and then you realize that the universe itself is not going to exist after a period of time. Until those issues are resolved within each person – religiously or psychologically or existentially – the social and political issues will never be resolved, except in a slapdash way.
Allen sums up his view in his film Annie Hall with these words: “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
Many would like to dismiss this sort of statement as coming from one who is merely a pessimist by temperament, one who sees life without the benefit of a sense of humor. Woody Allen does not allow us that luxury. He speaks as a human being who has simply looked life in the face and has the courage to say what he sees. If there is no personal God, nothing beyond what our eyes can see and our hands can touch, then Woody Allen is right: life is both meaningless and terrifying. As the famous artist Paul Gauguin wrote on his last painting shortly before he tried to commit suicide: “Whence come we? What are we? Whither do we go?” The answers are nowhere, nothing, and nowhere. The humanist H. J. Blackham has expressed this with a dramatic illustration:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility.79

One does not have to be highly educated to understand this. It follows directly from the starting point of the humanists’ position, namely, that everything is just matter. That is, that which has existed forever and ever is only some form of matter or energy, and everything in our world now is this and only this in a more or less complex form.

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Notes
78. “When Scientists Play the Role of God,” London Times, November 16, 1978.
79. H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

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Francis Crick was in agreement with H.J.Blackham’s materialistic views and he concluded, “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that you—your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules” What if all this is true? What if the cosmos and the chemicals and the particles really are all that there is, and all that we are?

“If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance , then those things that make him man-hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication-are ultimately unfulfillable and thus meaningless.” —Francis Schaeffer in The God Who Is There

“Eventually materialist philosophy undermines the reliability of the mind itself-and hence even the basis for science. The true foundation of rationality is not found in particles and impersonal laws, but in the mind of the Creator who formed us in His image.” —Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds “Can man live without God? Of course he can, in a physical sense.

Can he live without God in a reasonable way? The answer to that is No!” Then there is the problem the longing for satisfaction that every person feels. This is the same question that Solomon asked 3000 years ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He knew there was something more.

The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”

These two verses below  take the 3 elements mentioned in a materialistic worldview (time, chance and matter) and so that is all the unbeliever can find “under the sun” without God in the picture. You will notice that these are the three elements that evolutionists point to also.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 is following: I have seen somthing else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brillant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. __________

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions that Francis Schaeffer said you will face if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun” in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including learning (1:16-18), laughter, ladies, luxuries,  and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20).

Solomon had all the resources in the world and he found himself searching for meaning in life and trying to come up with answers concerning the afterlife. However, it seems every door he tries to open is locked. Today people try to find satisfaction in education, alcohol, pleasure, and their work and that is exactly what Solomon tried to do too.  None of those were able to “fill the God-sized vacuum in his heart” (quote from famous mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal). You have to wait to the last chapter in Ecclesiates to find what Solomon’s final conclusion is.

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Music video by Kansas performing Dust In The Wind. (c) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

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Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

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Take a minute and compare Kerry Livgren’s words to that of H.J. Blackham.

Livgren wrote:

All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

The humanist H. J. Blackham had this same message that

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

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H. J. Blackham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Harold John Blackham
Harold Blackham (1974).jpg

Harold Blackham (1974)
Born 31 March 1903
BirminghamEngland,
United Kingdom
Died 23 January 2009 (aged 105)
HerefordEngland,
United Kingdom
Occupation Writer and philosopher

Harold John Blackham (31 March 1903 – 23 January 2009) was a leading British humanist philosopher, writer and educationalist. He has been described as the “progenitor of modern humanism in Britain”.[1]

Born in Birmingham, Blackham left school following the end of World War I, and became a farm labourer, before gaining a place at Birmingham University to study divinity and history.[2] He acquired a teaching diploma and was the divinity master atDoncaster Grammar School.[2]

Joining the Ethical Union, Blackham drew the organisation further away from religious forms and played an important part in its formation into the British Humanist Association, becoming the BHA’s first Executive Director in 1963. He was also a founding member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), IHEU secretary (1952–1966), and received the IHEU’s International Humanist Award in 1974, and the Special Award for Service to World Humanism in 1978. In addition he was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[3]

His book, Six Existentialist Thinkers, became a popular university textbook.

He died on 23 January 2009 at the age of 105.[4]

Publications[edit]

  • Bury, JB, with an historical epilogue by HJ Blackham. A History of Freedom of Thought (2001). University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 0-89875-166-7
  • The Future of our Past: from Ancient Greece to Global Village (1996). Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-042-8
  • The Fable as Literature (1985). London: Continuum International Publishing Group – Athlone. ISBN 0-485-11278-7
  • Education for Personal Autonomy: Inquiry into the School’s Resources for Furthering the Personal Development of Pupils (editor) (1977). London: Bedford Sq. Press. ISBN 0-7199-0937-6
  • Humanists and Quakers: an exchange of letters (with Harold Loukes) (1969). Friends Home Service. ISBN 0-85245-011-7
  • Humanism (1968). London: Penguin. (published by Harvester in hardback, 1976. ISBN 0-85527-209-0)
  • Religion in a Modern Society (1966). London: Constable
  • Objections to Humanism (editor) (1963). London: Constable. ISBN 0-09-450170-X (published in paperback by Penguin, 1965, ISBN 0-14-020765-1)
  • The Humanist Tradition (1953). London: Routledge.
  • Six Existentialist Thinkers (1952). London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-1087-7
  • Living as a Humanist (1950)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Barbara Smoker (2003). “Blackham’s Best”. Blackham’s Best – Selected by Barbara SmokerISBN 095126351X.
  2. Jump up to:a b Barbara Smoker (19 April 2009). “Harold Blackham SPES Memorial Meeting”. SPES Memorial Meeting pamphlet.
  3. Jump up^ “Humanist Manifesto II”. American Humanist Association. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  4. Jump up^ http://www.iheu.org/node/3402

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Featured artist today is Arturo Herrera!!!!!

The reason I am featuring Arturo Herrera today is very simple. He is the best artist I can think of that illustrates where modern man had found himself today.

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Arturo Herrera

(Arturo’s work is based on chance and he is hopefully that something meaningful will bring out of it!!!!)

In this video below Arturo Herrera says, “I believe in being in the studio trying different things and just working through chance accidents...in order to get some kind of result…You know there is something in the image that keeps informing you, keeps teaching you, keeps surprising you and you can’t really put your finger on it. So you put it on the wall close to you with the hope that you will be able to solve it. It becomes your friend, your mentor, it becomes a support system to be able to say there is hope, yet you could do it…That is what keeps me going. It is possible to create an image that will have an impact. The multiplicity of images today with the internet makes the project utterly insane or irrational… If I make an image that hopefully is strong enough for some viewers then my job is done.”

Arturo Herrera: Powerful Images | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on Jun 18, 2009

Episode #061: In his Berlin studio, Arturo Herrera discusses his relationship to creating abstract collages and images. Herrera takes the process of abstraction a step further by photographing fragments of his collages, such as in the work “Untitled” (2005), a series of 80 black and white photographs. He submerges the undeveloped film in hot and cold water, coffee, and tea, creating unpredictable results when printed. Editing the photos into a grid of images, Herrera creates a work thats greater than its individual parts.

For Arturo Herrera, abstraction is a language rooted in the practice of assembling and composing fragments. Herrera collects illustrated books, comics, and paint-by-number paintings, cutting and splicing them into new forms. He also creates his own source material by fragmenting drawings, watercolors, and shapes made by applying paint directly from the tube. Herrera collages all of these elements together, pasting them together to create a new whole.

Learn more about Arturo Herrera: http://www.art21.org/artists/arturo-h…

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: Terry Doe and Leigh Crisp. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Arturo Herrera.

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DO YOU NOW SEE WHY I HAVE FEATURED ARTURO HERRERA TODAY? HE IS LIVING OUT HIS LIFE AS AN ARTIST DISPLAYING HIS MATERIALISTIC CHANCE WORLDVIEW IN HIS ART!!!! 
Let me repeat what I said that Solomon was trying to say 3000 years ago in the book of Ecclesiastes.

The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”

These two verses below  take the 3 elements mentioned in a materialistic worldview (time, chance and matter) and so that is all the unbeliever can find “under the sun” without God in the picture. You will notice that these are the three elements that evolutionists point to also.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 is following: I have seen somthing else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brillant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Arturo Herrera asserted, “I believe in being in the studio trying different things and just working through chance accidents...in order to get some kind of result.”
Fortunately some modern philosophers and scientists are starting to wake up and realize that materialistic chance evolution was not responsible for the origin of the universe but it was started by a Divine Mind. In fact, Antony Flew who was probably the most famous atheist of the 20th century took time to read several letters I sent him the 1990’s which included much material from Francis Schaeffer and he listened to several cassette tapes I sent him from Adrian Rogers and then in 2004 he reversed his view that this world came about through evolution and he left his atheism behind and  because a theist.  I still have several of the letters that Dr. Flew wrote back to me and I will be posting them later on my blog at some point.
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Arturo Herrera: Music | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on May 7, 2009

Episode #055: Filmed in his Berlin studio, artist Arturo Herrera discusses themes of subjectivity and abstraction while drawing connections between his love of music and his hopes for how audiences come to appreciate his visual work.

For Arturo Herrera, abstraction is a language rooted in the practice of assembling and composing fragments. Herrera collects illustrated books, comics, and paint-by-number paintings, cutting and splicing them into new forms. He also creates his own source material by fragmenting drawings, watercolors, and shapes made by applying paint directly from the tube. Herrera collages all of these elements together, pasting them together to create a new whole.

Arturo Herrera is featured in the Season 3 (2005) episode “Play” of the “Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series on PBS.

Learn more about Arturo Herrera: http://www.art21.org/artists/arturo-h…

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller and Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera & Sound: Terry Doe and Leigh Crisp. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Arturo Herrera. Special Thanks: Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

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Arturo Herrera pictured below:
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Arturo Herrera pictured below:

Arturo Herrera: Assistant Jeff Bechtel | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on Aug 7, 2009

Episode #068: Arturo Herrera’s assistant Jeff Bechtel describes the process for translating one of the artist’s complex drawings into a refined monochromatic paper collage. Filmed in Herrera’s New York studio, Bechtel discusses how cartoon sources and stock imagery become abstracted into larger systems.

Arturo Herreras work includes collage, work on paper, sculpture, relief, wall painting, photography, and felt wall-hangings. Rooted in the history of abstraction, Herreras playful work taps into the viewers unconscious, often intertwining fragments of cartoon characters with cut-out shapes and partially obscured images that evoke memory and recollection.

Learn more about Arturo Herrera: http://www.art21.org/artists/arturo-h…

VIDEO | Producer Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Eve Moros Ortega. Camera: Mead Hunt. Sound: Roger Phenix. Editor: Jenny Chiurco. Artwork Courtesy: Arturo Herrera. Special Thanks: Jeff Bechtel.

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Arturo Herrera said he took photographs of whatever was lying around in the studio. Americas Society Visual Arts Director Gabriela Rangel said of Herrera’s work: “There is a product of chance very present in the photos.” At the 2:40 point in the below film Arturo Herrera said he hired a computer programmer that created a chance order that his pictures would appear in combination with the music that was playing.

Arturo Herrera: Les Noces (The Wedding)

Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011

Watch a video of artist Arturo Herrera and Curator and Americas Society Visual Arts Director Gabriela Rangel discuss the process of putting together the exhibition Arturo Herrera: Les Noces (The Wedding), at Americas Society art gallery. The artist also gives a tour of selected pieces in the exhibition. Video produced by David Gacs.

To learn more, go to http://www.as-coa.org/VisualArts.

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From PBS:

Arturo Herrera

Home » Artists » Arturo Herrera

About Arturo Herrera

Arturo Herrera was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1959, and lives and works in New York and Berlin, Germany. He received a BA from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Herrera’s work includes collage, works on paper, sculpture, relief, wall painting, photography, and felt wall hangings. His work taps into the viewer’s unconscious—often intertwining fragments of cartoon characters with abstract shapes and partially obscured images that evoke memory and recollection. Using techniques of fragmentation, splicing, and re-contextualization, Herrera’s work is provocative and open-ended. For his collages, he uses found images from cartoons, coloring books, and fairy tales, combining fragments of Disney-like characters with violent and sexual imagery to make work that borders between figuration and abstraction and subverts the innocence of cartoon referents with a darker psychology. In his felt works, he cuts shapes from a piece of felt and pins the felt to the wall so that it hangs as a tangled form, resembling the drips and splatters of a Jackson Pollock painting. Herrera’s wall paintings also meld recognizable imagery with abstraction, but on an environmental scale that he compares to the qualities of dance and music. Herrera has received many awards including, among others, a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Fellowship. He has had solo exhibitions at Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Dia Center for the Arts, New York; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City; among others. His work appeared in the Whitney Biennial (2002).

Links
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Arturo Herrera on the Art21 Blog

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Arturo Herrera: Abstraction, Chance, and Collage

Arturo Herrera in his Berlin studio, 2005. Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 episode, "Play," 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.Arturo Herrera in his Berlin studio, 2005. Production still from the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” Season 3 episode, “Play,” 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.

ART21: Can you clarify what you mean by [the word] chance, especially with the collages you’ve been photographing?

HERRERA: By chance, I mean (in the photo work) that I usually don’t compose the way I’m photographing. I go through and take three or four photos of the same collage, but I’m not carefully composing what the final shot will be. I’m basically shooting four or five photos in the hope that maybe one of them will work out. I don’t spend a lot of time setting up the drawings or selecting the specific fragments. I’m letting the photograph lead me into this thing.

Once the roll is done, I put it in water, and that’s where much more chance happens. The way the water seeps into the film—if it’s hot water or cold or coffee with ice cubes in it—it will affect the film and the emulsion on the film. After a week or a month there, then it’s taken to the lab, and whatever happens there will be part of the photograph.

After all the photos are done, I go through a very strict system of editing and selection. The process is based on how strong these images are, which ways they please me, and which ways they become challenging to me—and hopefully challenging to the audience. They seem to be very intimate images, and they allow you to go into this state of making connections between the fragments that you see, what they are supposed to be, and what they bring to your memory. So, it’s a fairly subjective process.

ART21: Can you say more about your system of selection?

HERRERA: The system of selection is just based on quality—your own system of quality. Going through hundreds and hundreds of images, you tend to have specific choices or preferences. If I’m happy with them or if I find they are intriguing, then I will include them. Working like this, without focusing on specific compositions when you’re photographing, leaves you with many, many photographs that don’t make the final cut. Sometimes the emulsion gets stuck, or the film gets damaged. So, I don’t really know what’s going to happen to these things until I see them printed.

ART21: What will be the final outcome for these photographs—the final work?

HERRERA: These photographs are made in a series of eighty images. I think, when you see them all together, you tend to create your own kind of viewing or journey or path or choreography. You tend to be taken by specific images, and then you start going from there, back and forth like a ping-pong ball or a pinball machine. This process becomes a very private conversation with these images. What these images tell the viewer, I don’t know; that, to me, remains somewhat secret. They’re satisfying to me, and I hope they’re satisfying to the audience.

Arturo Herrera in his Berlin studio, 2005. Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 episode, "Play," 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.Arturo Herrera in his Berlin studio, 2005. Production still from the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” Season 3 episode, “Play,” 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.

ART21: Is there an associational narrative for you, or is it purely abstract?

HERRERA: Well, the photos deal with the history of photography, modernism, chance operation, surrealism—they’re complex in different ways. But they are also very quiet. They don’t try to undermine or criticize or pay homage; they’re just part of a tradition which I respect. And this is just my participation with these images. I believe that the dialogue with these images is both emotional and intellectual. It’s a one-to-one dialogue, and associative power or juxtaposition is the way to enter the work. As you can see, the photos deal with my own mark making and popular culture. It’s a collage, taken to a photographic level. The fragment is still there, and the juxtapositions and the references are all exploding in front of your face.

It’s kind of a silent cacophony. It’s loud but, at the same time, quiet. I’m interested in this kind of ambiguity about the images. They’re clearly from a tradition, they’re clearly based on fragments, and they’re being juxtaposed. They’re being forced to be together, there’s chance operations, and yet they’re just abstractions. Now, is that pertinent today? I don’t know, but I want to explore the possibility because abstraction is a fairly young language.

ART21: How did your work change when you went to school in Chicago?

HERRERA: I spent eight years traveling and working before that. I traveled in Europe and went back to Venezuela. It was a period of reflecting on what had happened in school and reflecting on what I wanted to do. I decided to go to graduate school in Chicago. That allowed for a very critical training. I think my interest in popular culture, cartoons and signs developed because these elements were easily accessible. They’re inexpensive. They were all around in stores—Salvation Army, Goodwill. So, you could actually make works very cheaply using glue, scissors, and paper. So, that allowed me to be able to cut and find fragments that were richer than the actual pages where they came from. Juxtaposing those fragments created other images with surprising effects. So then, I kept going.

ART21: But doesn’t collage mean “to paste,” not “to cut”?

HERRERA: To be able to paste two or three pieces of paper, you have to achieve that through cutting. But I think the most essential part of collage is imposing or juxtaposing—to glue a piece of paper on top of another piece of paper. So, that is the essential aspect of collage. Cutting allows you to concentrate on the essence of the fragment that you want to isolate. But collaging means gluing, that’s really the most important thing. That’s when the images are actually formed, when they’re actually joined together for good.

Arturo Herrera in his New York studio, 2004. Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 episode, "Play," 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.Arturo Herrera in his New York studio, 2004. Production still from the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” Season 3 episode, “Play,” 2005. © Art21, Inc. 2005.

ART21: Can you talk about fragmentation and the final image?

HERRERA: I’m interested in how an image that is so well composed and so clear and so objective—made out of these disparate fragments—can be glued, forced together to create an image that will have a different reading from what the fragments said. Both sides are part of the image’s ambiguity, of not knowing exactly what I’m looking at, and then the clarity of the way it was composed. This is something intriguing to me.

ART21: How much are you directing the viewer in your work?

HERRERA: You’re on your own when you look at these images. Fragments offer a point of entry that you can identify in the piece. Once you’re there, you are in a complete process of association. And that process is completely different to another person’s process. So, I’m not directing you towards a specific reading. You will be able to form whatever information you want from this image because it allows this field of abstraction, with some subjectivity, and then the objectivity of the image is there, too. So, you shift back and forth without any kind of order or didactic direction from me telling you what to do or how to look at the image.

ART21: What about the impact the scale of your work makes on the viewer?

HERRERA: The collages represent a very intimate scale and actually indicate the way I work and the scale of the table that I work on. I think the scale of the collages allows for an intimate connection. And seeing them in series allows them to inform back and forth. The intimacy of the scale is important because when the wall paintings occur, it’s a completely different situation.

Arturo Herrera, "Keep in Touch (from set #4)," detail, 2004. Installation view at Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 2005. Production still from the "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 episode, "Play," 2005. Artwork courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Production still © Art21, Inc. 2005.Arturo Herrera, “Keep in Touch (from set #4),” detail, 2004. Installation view at Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 2005. Production still from the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” Season 3 episode, “Play,” 2005. Artwork courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Production still © Art21, Inc. 2005.

ART21: What propels you to come to the studio every day?

HERRERA: Coming to the studio is time for discovery. As Stravinsky said, “Unless you work for many hours, nothing is going to happen.” So, the muse of invention doesn’t exist; you just have to work. It’s a job, and you just have to come. For me, usually, it happens at the last minute of the last hour: I’m utterly exhausted, and I thought it was a wasted day, and then something happens. So, I believe in just being in the studio, trying different things, playing, experimenting.

Working through chance accidents, it’s hard to be able to get some kind of result. Since I don’t work through specific ideas, I basically have to sit and come up with something. The only way to do that is just to come into the studio and get your hands dirty, get the X-Acto blade cutting paper. Unless I work, I don’t find anything. The more time I spend here, the better.

ART21: But that’s not what propels you to be here.

HERRERA: Right. I come to the studio to be able to create an image that will have a certain impact. All artists look at other artists from the past and admire some artists greatly because they had the courage to try—the power to be able to go into this other scale, or this combination of colors, or what have you. To be able to join them eventually is, first of all, a challenge. You want to get there (maybe I will never get there), but it just keeps you going—that you might be able to participate in this dance with these other people.

If I make an image that is strong enough or generous enough to some viewers, then my job is done. I’m happy with the image; I feel it’s a strong image. And, if it actually provides some kind of emotional and intellectual nourishment or idea to the viewer, then my job is done. That’s what keeps me going.

Is it possible to create an image that will have any impact now, with the multiplicity of images today, with the Internet and digital cameras and film and video? I think there are still images that people have not seen and that will be powerful enough to be able to send different messages. What kind of images these are, I don’t know. I’m trying to get there; I’m trying to find them. I don’t know what they look like. So, I come to the studio to dissect them from other fragments.

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Debating with the gentleman Paul Kurtz Part 1

I understand that Dr. Paul Kurtz passed away at age 86 on October 20, 2012. He was fine gentleman that I had a chance to correspond with and I read several of his books (Forbidden Fruit was his best effort). I did not agree with his secular humanist view but I did find that he was an honest and kind man.

I have mentioned him often in my previous posts and I am reposting an earlier post below that includes lots of film clips of Dr. Kurtz.

Arkansas Times Bloggers: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” (Part 1)

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (1 of 14)

Christianity vs. Secular Humanism – Norman Geisler vs. Paul Kurtz

Published on Oct 6, 2013

Date: 1986
Location: The John Ankerberg Show

Christian debater: Norman L. Geisler
Atheist/secular humanist debater: Paul Kurtz

For Norm Geisler: http://www.normgeisler.com/

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Origins of the Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument) (Paul Kurtz vs Norman Geisler)

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Paul Kurtz pictured above.

August 11, 2011 on the Arkansas Times Blog many nonbelievers ranted about the requirement that an atheist group had to put down a $15,000 deposit in order to advertise the phrase “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

I personally know of many atheists who are very fine moral people who have a wonderful marriage and a great family life. I could go on and name a bunch of names. However, I will mention my good friend John George who passed away a couple of years ago after a battle with cancer.

He wrote a book published by Prometheus which was started by Paul Kurtz. Kurtz was the originator of the Humanist Manifesto II. I have corresponded in the past with him and I have found him to be a very kind man. I highly recommend his debate concerning humanism on the John Ankerberg Show. I have included clips of that show.

I do not question the fact that many atheists live moral lives. However, this idea that humanists and atheists can come up with a logical moral system that rules out murder is not realistic. Rationally they can not do it. Without God in the picture then you only have this world of time and chance. If evolution teaches us the survival of the fittest then why would “might makes right” ever be wrong?

The movie maker and atheist Woody Allen knows this best.

allen_woody

I am a big Woody Allen movie fan and no other movie better demonstrates man’s need for God more  than Allen’s 1989 film  Crimes and Misdemeanors. This film also brought up the view that Hitler believed that “might made right.” How can an atheist argue against that?  Basically Woody Allen is attacking the weaknesses in his own agnostic point of view!! Take a look at the video clip below when he says in the absence of God, man has to do the right thing. What chance is there that will happen?

Crimes and Misdemeanors is  about a eye doctor who hires a killer to murder his mistress because she continually threatens to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. Afterward he is haunted by guilt. His Jewish father had taught him that God sees all and will surely punish the evildoer.

But the doctor’s crime is never discovered. Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his father had with Judah’s unbelieving Aunt May during a Jewish Sedar dinner  many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazi’s, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says Aunt May.

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah’s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?  The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God  has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen – 1989) – Final scenes

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism.

Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (11 of 14) (How to motivate people to be good without God?)

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (3 of 14)

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______________________

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_____________________

Paul Kurtz pictured above.

August 11, 2011 on the Arkansas Times Blog many non believers ranted about the requirement that an atheist group had to put down a $15,000 deposit in order to advertise the phrase “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

I personally know of many atheists who are very fine moral people who have a wonderful marriage and a great family life. I could go on and name a bunch of names.

John Brummett in his article, “Irony abounds as religion arises,”August 16, 2011, Arkansas News Bureau wonders why atheists would want to advertise their unbelief because they should be want to be left alone. However, this shows a misunderstanding of the longing that we all have to find a meaning and purpose for our lives. Even atheists have this desire deep down. To avoid acknowledging God’s existence they have to come up with reasons that God does not exist. One of the most popular is that God would not allow evil to exist. Below you will see that the agnostic Vincent Bugliosi has done just that.

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (8 of 14)

One of the Arkansas Times bloggers that used the username  mountaingirl noted on August 12, 2011:

Recently I read “Divinity of Doubt, The God Question” by famed author and successful prosecutor and trial lawyer, Vincent Bugliosi.

It is very thought-provoking and addresses some of the issues mentioned here.

Gary DeMar in the article, “Vincent Bugliosi: Prosecutor, Judge, and Jury of God,” observed:

In the Epilogue to Outrage, Bugliosi bears his soul and the struggle he has had with justifying God’s goodness with the presence of evil in the world and God’s “inaction” in the trial in allowing a murderer to go free:

When tragedies like the murders of Nicole and Ron occur, they get one to thinking about the notion of God. Nicole was only thirty-five, Ron just twenty-five, both outgoing, friendly, well-liked young people who had a zest for life. How does God, if there is a God, permit such a horrendous and terrible act to occur, along with countless other unspeakable atrocities committed by man against his fellow-man throughout history? And how could God–all-good and all-just, according to Christian theology—permit the person who murdered Ron and Nicole to go free, holding up a Bible in his hand at that? When Judge Ito’s clerk, Deidre Robertson, read the jury’s not-guilty verdict, Nicole’s mother whispered, “God, where are you?”[8]

I have an article below that really does a great job responding to that.

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (9 of 14)

How can a good God allow evil and suffering?

Their thinking is that either God is not powerful enough to prevent evil or else God is not good. He is often blamed for tragedy. “Where was God when I went through this, or when that happened.”  God is blamed for natural disasters, Even my insurance company describes them as “acts of God.” How to handle this one-  (O.N.E.)
a. Origin of evil— man’s choice- God created a perfect world…
b. Nature of God—He forgives, I John 1:9—He uses tragedy to bring us to Himself, C.S. Lewis, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains:  it is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world.”
c. End of it all—Bible teaches that God will one day put an end to all evil, and pain and death. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).As Christians we have this hope of Heaven and eternity. Share how it has made a tremendous difference in your life and that you know for sure that when you die you are going to spend eternity in Heaven. Ask the person, “May I ask you a question? Do you have this hope? Do you know for certain that when you die you are going to Heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?”How could a loving God send people to Hell?
(O.N.E.)
a. Origin of hell—never intended for people. Created for Satan and his demons. Jesus said, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). Man chooses to sin and ignore God. The penalty is death (eternal separation from God) and, yes, Hell. But God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, we choose it by refusing or ignoring God in attitude and action. b. Nature of God—“ God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He is so loving that He sent His own Son to die and pay the penalty for our sin so that we could avoid Hell and have the assurance of Heaven. No one in Hell will be able to blame God. He doesn’t send people there, it’s our own choice. We must choose to repent, to stop ignoring God in attitude and action, accepting His salvation and yielding to His leadership.c. End of it all—Bible teaches that God will one day put an end to all evil, pain, death, and penalty of Hell. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).As Christians , we need not worry about Hell. The Bible says, “these things have been written . . . so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).  I have complete confidence that when I die, I’m going to Heaven.  May I ask you a question?

Arkansas Times Bloggers: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” (Part 2)

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (10 of 14)

Christianity vs. Secular Humanism – Norman Geisler vs. Paul Kurtz

Published on Oct 6, 2013

Date: 1986
Location: The John Ankerberg Show

Christian debater: Norman L. Geisler
Atheist/secular humanist debater: Paul Kurtz

For Norm Geisler: http://www.normgeisler.com/

______________________

Origins of the Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument) (Paul Kurtz vs Norman Geisler)

Published on Jun 6, 2012

Norm Geisler argues via Kalam Cosmological Argument for the origins of the universe with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No matter how much evidence Geisler gave, Paul Kurtz refused to fully acknowledge the implications of it, while NEVER giving evidence for his own interpretation of the universe’s beginning.

_____________________

Paul Kurtz pictured above.

August 11, 2011 on the Arkansas Times Blog many nonbelievers ranted about the requirement that an atheist group had to put down a $15,000 deposit in order to advertise the phrase “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

I personally know of many atheists who are very fine moral people who have a wonderful marriage and a great family life. I could go on and name a bunch of names.

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (11 of 14) (to motivate people to be good without God)

One of the Arkansas Times bloggers that used the username  mountaingirl noted on August 12, 2011:

Recently I read “Divinity of Doubt, The God Question” by famed author and successful prosecutor and trial lawyer, Vincent Bugliosi.

It is very thought provoking and addresses some of the issues mentioned here.

Gary DeMar in the article, “Vincent Bugliosi: Prosecutor, Judge, and Jury of God,” observed:

In the Epilogue to Outrage, Bugliosi bears his soul and the struggle he has had with justifying God’s goodness with the presence of evil in the world and God’s “inaction” in the trial in allowing a murderer to go free:

When tragedies like the murders of Nicole and Ron occur, they get one to thinking about the notion of God. Nicole was only thirty-five, Ron just twenty-five, both outgoing, friendly, well-liked young people who had a zest for life. How does God, if there is a God, permit such a horrendous and terrible act to occur, along with countless other unspeakable atrocities committed by man against his fellow man throughout history? And how could God–all-good and all-just, according to Christian theology—permit the person who murdered Ron and Nicole to go free, holding up a Bible in his hand at that? When Judge Ito’s clerk, Deidre Robertson, read the jury’s not-guilty verdict, Nicole’s mother whispered, “God, where are you?”[8]

I have an article below that really does a great job responding to that.

Answers the problem of evil and a good God… puts the issue squarely in the lap of the skeptic asking the question (where it belongs).

_________________________________________

In his article “A Conversation with an Atheist,” Rick Wade notes:

The problem of evil is a significant moral issue in the atheist’s arsenal. We talk about a God of goodness, but what we see around us is suffering, and a lot of it apparently unjustifiable. Stephanie said, “Disbelief in a personal, loving God as an explanation of the way the world works is reasonable–especially when one considers natural disasters that can’t be blamed on free will and sin.”{17}

One response to the problem of evil is that God sees our freedom to choose as a higher value than protecting people from harm; this is the freewill defense. Stephanie said, however, that natural disasters can’t be blamed on free will and sin. What about this? Is it true that natural disasters can’t be blamed on sin? I replied that they did come into existence because of sin (Genesis 3). We’re told in Romans 8 that creation will one day “be set free from its slavery to corruption,” that it “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” The Fall caused the problem, and, in the consummation of the ages, the problem will be fixed.

Second, I noted that on a naturalistic basis, it’s hard to even know what evil is. But the reality of God explains it. As theologian Henri Blocher said,

The sense of evil requires the God of the Bible. In a novel by Joseph Heller, “While rejecting belief in God, the characters in the story find themselves compelled to postulate his existence in order to have an adequate object for their moral indignation.” . . . When you raise this standard objection against God, to whom do you say it, other than this God? Without this God who is sovereign and good, what is the rationale of our complaints? Can we even tell what is evil? Perhaps the late John Lennon understood: “God is a concept by which we measure our pain,” he sang. Might we be coming to the point where the sense of evil is a proof of the existence of God?{18}

So,… if there is no God, there really is no problem of evil. Does the atheist ever find herself shaking her fist at the sky after some catastrophe and demanding an explanation? If there is no God, no one is listening.

Arkansas Times Blogger says Communists were not atheistic, but they were and they believed “might made right” jh48

Paul Kurtz pictured above.

Norma Bates noted on the Arkansas Times Blog yesterday
The most common justification throughout history – the elephant in everybody’s living room – is religion. “God is on our side.” “We are the chosen people.” “God gave us this land.” “God said to — .”

Judaism, Christianity, or that relative Johnny-come-lately – Islam – are all exactly alike despite their man-behind-the-curtain smoke-and-mirrors fright shows of Truth and Superiority to the others.

As Richard Dawkins says in “The God Delusion,” “Religion is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no discussion.”

________________
HERE IS A GOOD ANSWER TO DAWKINS:

When I asked Ravi Zacharias about religion causing violence as Dawkins claims, Zacharias unapologetically said, “Dawkins is pathetic at this point. He is either ignoring political fact or is misusing numbers to convey something that he is predisposed to want to convey.”

The biggest point Dawkins is missing, Ravi Zacharias said, is “irreligion and atheism have killed infinitely more than all religious wars of any kind cumulatively put together … Joseph Stalin’s violence and eradication of 15 million of his own people was a result of his stepping away from God and into a rabid kind of atheistic thinking.”

By the same token, in their zeal to enforce an atheistic communism, “Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot caused the extermination of tens of millions of people,” Zacharias said.

Norma Bates noted on the Arkansas Times Blog yesterday, “Communism was a comprehensive, all-embracing religion and not simply a political party, political system or philosophy. This fact is illustrated by the numerous ways in which Communism embraced and attemped to promulgate peculiar quasi-religious (and often clearly anti-scientific) beliefs which had nothing all to do with politics or government. Although Communism typically touted itself as anti-religious and pro-science, it was, in fact, deeply anti-scientific and clearly a religion. One of Communism’s hallmarks in the Soviet Union and China was its aggressive and violent suppression of other religions. Communism was ‘anti-religious’ only in the sense that it forcibly suppressed all religions other than itself.”

If it walks like a duck . . . .
____________________________

Francis Schaeffer in the episode “The Revolutionary Age” in his film series “How should we then live?” which is available on youtube, made the point that Communism is atheistic and has NEVER EXISTED WITHOUT BRINGING REPRESSION. A few months ago a young person said to me, “I think that Marx was misunderstood and that true communism has not been really tried yet.” I responded that there are a hand full of Communist countries today and they all have several similar conditions: NO FREEDOM OF PRESS, NO POLITICAL FREEDOM, NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND NO ECONOMIC FREEDOM. I noted that Schaeffer has rightly said that Communism is basically based on materialism and a result it must fail. It does not have a Reformation base.

I have corresponded on several occasions with the humanist Paul Kurtz. I must say that he is one of the finest gentlemen on the face of the earth. I have had dinner with several other secular humanist who have signed the Humanist Manifesto II and had very civil discussions with them. None of them ever suggested that the Communists were not atheistic. They just simply thought that these particular men murdered to suit their own purposes but were not following logic which would have led them to treat others with respect. However, this idea that humanists and atheists can come up with a logical moral system that rules out murder is not realistic. Rationally they can not do it.  Without God in the picture then you only have this world of time and chance. If evolution teaches us the survival of the fittest then why would “might makes right” ever be wrong?

The movie maker and atheist Woody Allen knows this best.

allen_woody

I am a big Woody Allen movie fan and no other movie better demonstrates man’s need for God more  than Allen’s 1989 film  Crimes and Misdemeanors. This film also brought up the view that Hitler believed that “might made right.” How can an atheist argue against that?  Basically Woody Allen is attacking the weaknesses in his own agnostic point of view!! Take a look at the video clip below when he says in the absence of God, man has to do the right thing. What chance is there that will happen?

Crimes and Misdemeanors is  about a eye doctor who hires a killer to murder his mistress because she continually threatens to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. Afterward he is haunted by guilt. His Jewish father had taught him that God sees all and will surely punish the evildoer.

But the doctor’s crime is never discovered. Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his father had with Judah’s unbelieving Aunt May during a Jewish Sedar dinner  many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazi’s, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says Aunt May.

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah’s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?  The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God  has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen – 1989) – Final scenes

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism.

Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

Below is a study by Francis Schaeffer that makes the point that the French Revolution and the Communist Revolution in Russia should be compared.

E P I S O D E 5

How Should We Then Live 5-1

T h e

REVOLUTIONARY AGE

I. Bible as Absolute Base for Law

A. Paul Robert’s mural in Lausanne.

B. Rutherford’s Lex Rex  (Law Is King): Freedom without chaos; government by law rather than arbitrary government by men.

C. Impact of biblical political principles in America.

1. Rutherford’s influence on U.S. Constitution: directly through Witherspoon; indirectly through Locke’s secularized version of biblical politics.

2. Locke’s ideas inconsistent when divorced from Christianity.

3. One can be personally non-Christian, yet benefit from Christian foundations: e.g. Jefferson and other founders.

II. The Reformation and Checks and Balances

A. Humanist and Reformation views of politics contrasted.

B. Sin is reason for checks and balances in Reformed view: Calvin’s position at Geneva examined.

C. Checks and balances in Protestant lands prevented bloody resolution of tensions.

D. Elsewhere, without this biblically rooted principle, tensions had to be resolved violently.

III. Contrast Between English and French Political Experience

A. Voltaire’s admiration of English conditions.

B. Peaceful nature of the Bloodless Revolution of 1688 in England related to Reformation base.

C. Attempt to achieve political change in France on English lines, but on Enlightenment base, produced a bloodbath and a dictatorship.

1. Constructive change impossible on finite human base.

2. Declaration of Rights of Man, the rush to extremes, and the Goddess of Reason.

3. Anarchy or repression: massacres, Robespierre, the Terror.

4. Idea of perfectibility of Man maintained even during the Terror.

 

IV. Anglo-American Experience Versus Franco-Russian

A. Reformation experience of freedom without chaos contrasts with that of Marxist-Leninist Russia.

B. Logic of Marxist-Leninism.

1. Marxism not a source of freedom.

2. 1917 Revolution taken over, not begun, by Bolsheviks.

3. Logic of communism: elite dictatorship, suppression of freedoms, coercion of allies.

V. Reformation Christianity and Humanism: Fruits Compared

A. Reformation gave absolutes to counter injustices; where Christians failed they were untrue to their principles.

B. Humanism has no absolute way of determining values consistently.

C. Differences practical, not just theoretical: Christian absolutes give limited government; denial of absolutes gives arbitrary rule.

VI. Weaknesses Which Developed Later in Reformation Countries

A. Slavery and race prejudice.

1. Failure to live up to biblical belief produces cruelty.

2. Hypocritical exploitation of other races.

3. Church’s failure to speak out sufficiently against this hypocrisy.

B. Noncompassionate use of accumulated wealth.

1. Industrialism not evil in itself, but only through greed and lack of compassion.

2. Labor exploitation and gap in living standards.

3. Church’s failure to testify enough against abuses.

C. Positive face of Reformation Christianity toward social evil.

1. Christianity not the only influence on consensus.

a) Church’s silence betrayed; did not reflect what it said it believed.

b) Non-Christian influences also important at that time; and many so-called Christians were “social” Christians only.

2. Contributions of Christians to social reform.

a) Varied efforts in slave trade, prisons, factories.

(1) Wesley, Newton, Clarkson, Wilberforce, and abolition of slavery.

(2) Howard, Elizabeth Fry, and prison reforms.

(3) Lord Shaftesbury and reform in the factories.

b) Impact of Whitefield-Wesley revivals on society.

VII. Reformation Did Not Bring Perfection

But gradually on basis of biblical teaching there was a unique improvement.

A. With Bible the ordinary citizen could say that majority was wrong.

B. Tremendous freedom without chaos because Bible gives a base for law.

Questions

1. What has been the role of biblical principles in the legal and political history of the countries studied?

2. Is it true that lands influenced by the Reformation escaped political violence because biblical concepts were acted upon?

3. What are the core distinctions, in terms of ideology and results, between English and American Revolutions on the one hand, and the French and Russian on the other hand?

4. What were the weaknesses which developed at a later date in countries which had a Reformation history?

5. Dr. Schaeffer believes that basic to action is an idea, and that the history of the West in the last two or three centuries has been marked by a humanism pressed to its tragic conclusions and by a Christianity insufficiently applied to the totality of life. How should Christians then approach participation in social and political affairs?

Key Events and Persons

Calvin: 1509-1564

Samuel Rutherford: 1600-1661

Rutherford’s Lex Rex: 1644

John Locke: 1631-1704

John Wesley: 1703-1791

Voltaire: 1694-1778

Letters on the English Nation: 1733

George Whitefield: 1714-1770

John Witherspoon: 1723-1794

John Newton: 1725-1807

John Howard: 1726-1790

Jefferson: 1743-1826

Robespierre: 1758-1794

Wilberforce: 1759-1833

Clarkson: 1760-1846

Napoleon: 1769-1821

Elizabeth Fry: 1780-1845

Declaration of Rights of Man: 1789

National Constituent Assembly: 1789-1791

Second French Revolution and Revolutionary Calendar: 1792

The Reign of Terror: 1792-1794

Lord Shaftesbury: 1801-1855

English slave trade ended: 1807

Slavery ended in Great Britain and Empire: 1833

Karl Marx: 1818-1883

Lenin: 1870-1924

Trotsky: 1879-1940

Stalin: 1879-1953

February and October Russian Revolutions: 1917

Berlin Wall: 1961

Czechoslovakian repression: 1968

Further Study

Charles Breunig, The Age of Revolution and Reaction: 1789-1850 (1970).

R.N. Carew Hunt, The Theory and Practice of Communism (1963).

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1957).

Peter Gay, ed., Deism: An Anthology (1968).

John McManners, The French Revolution and the Church (1970).

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1957).

Louis L. Snyder, ed., The Age of Reason (1955).

David B. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (1975).

J. Kuczynski, The Rise of the Working Class (1971).

Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma (1958).

John Newton, Out of the Depths. An Autobiography.

John Wesley, Journal (1 vol. abridge).

C. Woodham-Smith, The Great Hunger, Ireland, 1845-1849 (1964).

Actually if you look closely at history then the case can be made that both the Russian Revolution and the French Revolution are closely related.