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Proclamation Index

A Checklist for the Honest Skeptic

People who believe in God are known as theists. People who believe in more than one God are known as polytheists. People who believe that God and nature are one--that somehow God is the grass, the moon, and the stars--are known as pantheists. But in this piece I am addressing those of you among our readers who deny outright the existence of any form of Supreme Being or Creator, anywhere, in the entire Universe. Your position, of course, is known as atheism. Or you may be a skeptic, holding the strong suspicion or probable estimate that a Creator-God does not exist? Or you may be an agnostic, refusing to make any final judgment about God at all. My purpose here is to challenge you a bit on the motives behind your skeptical views about the Creator-God of the Bible. In the final analysis, of course, your beliefs are your business, not mine. But if you're not threatened by my pressing you a bit, read on. Because I suspect that, in spite of your religious views (or lack of them), you still fashion yourself to be a person of integrity. And I imagine that you consider your position on spiritual matters to be a thoughtful one, not just knee-jerk reactionary dogma, or a fickle response to some past, negative experience with religion. So let me present you here with a checklist. In my opinion, successfully completing this little exercise would go a long way toward confirming a respectable level of intellectual integrity in your present position. Besides, if you can pass this test, you'll no doubt feel a whole lot better about yourself and your skepticism. MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT DUE TO SELFISHNESS Franklin P. Jones once said, "An atheist is one who hopes the Lord will do nothing to disturb his disbelief." In other words, this is the occasion to verify that your motive in questioning God's existence isn't based on the penchant to just do your own thing without ever having to answer to a Higher Authority. MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT DUE TO PRIDE Hugh Ross, a California astrophysicist, author, and president of Reasons to Believe (RTB), recently shared this account in the RTB publication, Faith & Facts: "Once I asked a group of non-Christian professors for their response to my presentation of new scientific evidences for the God of the Bible. They said they could not deny the truth of what I had shared. I asked if they could see, then, that their only rational option was to give their lives to Christ. Their reply at this point was to admit that they were not ready to behave rationally." MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT DUE TO ANGER The vindictive attacks of Madalyn Murray O'Hair on Christians often casts a real cloud of doubt on the objectivity and authenticity of her atheistic doctrine. In a similar vein, as I have read Skipp Porteous' articles in the secular humanist journal, Free Inquiry, and even in his own autobiographical text, Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore, ©1991 Prometheus Books, I perceive a spiteful, almost militant, tone that makes me suspicious that the conclusions he claims to have drawn about spiritual truth are more likely the result of an unresolved angry bias, and of a number of negative experiences he has had with 'Christian' people, than that of careful intellectual thought. MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT DUE TO COWARDICE Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Skepticism is slow suicide." Frankly, I know some folks who have lived for years at the miserable tip of a 'high dive' of commitment to Jesus Christ. One man with whom I was acquainted would ask question after question about matters of faith. But as soon as one question was answered, he would come up with another. He was continually, obviously, running and hiding behind the artificial facade of "not having enough evidence". At least Mark Twain was up front about the basis of much of his skepticism. "Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand," he once wrote, "but the passages that bother me are those I do understand." MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT THE PARALYZED PRODUCT OF PROFESSIONAL PEER PRESSURE "If after reading this book carefully, and reflecting on its arguments, one still prefers the evolutionary view, or still contends that the creationist view is religion and the evolutionary view is pure science, he should ask himself whether something other than the facts of nature is influencing his thinking about origins." --Dean H. Kenyon, Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University, referring to the book What Is Creation Science?, Morris & Parker, © 1982, Master Books (formerly Creation-Life Publishers). MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT JUST THE RASH RESULT OF WILD, DESPERATE, DESPAIR Religious philosopher Loyal Rue, speaking in Washington D.C. in late 1991, said that since science has disproven the Bible, "modern culture urgently needs a noble lie, a myth that will compel us beyond self-interest, inspire us to give up selfish interests", and lift us beyond what is otherwise the obvious, depressing, conclusion--"that life and the universe are meaningless." (Think & Believe, 12/91, Vol. 8, No 6, Alpha Omega Institute, Grand Junction CO). MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT BOUGHT WITH LUCRE "One wonders why, with all the evidence, the (Godless) theory of evolution still persists. One major reason is that many people have a sort of vested interest in this theory. Jobs would be lost, loss of face would result, text books would need to be eliminated or revised." --Dr. Emery S. Dunfee, former Professor of Physics at the University of Maine at Farmington, in a personal letter to me dated April 13, 1992. Used by permission. MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT JUST STUBBORN BIAS Psalm 14:1 labels the unbeliever a "fool". Does that seem like a rather strong charge? What about the comments of L.T. More, University of Cincinnati, in his book The Dogma of Evolution, p90: "Our faith in the doctrine of evolution depends upon our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation." The Bible Book of Romans 1, verse 18, recognizes that there are, in fact, those who consciously, deliberately, "suppress the truth" about the Creator- God of the Universe. MY SKEPTICISM IS NOT JUST PHONY PRETENSE The story is told of a minister and a noted atheist who held a debate. They declared the minister the winner because at the end of the debate, just as it became clear that the atheist had out-debated the minister, the atheist stood up and shouted: "Thank God, I've won!" BIG BONUS ESSAY QUESTION "Exactly what would it take for me to believe?"

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