Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

At Thee. Is? Mm!

Thus did Brother Dave Gardner analyze atheism. It seems that this faith is exerting itself more and more in modern society. And it is a faith. Make no mistake about that. Fine. Let it exert itself. We who have the truth of Christ have nothing to fear.

Consider the words of Thomas Jefferson: "We are not afraid to follow any truth no matter where it may lead, nor tolerate any error so long as Reason is left free to refute it."

I heard Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller, on "This I Believe" on NPR tell how he actively believes there is no God as opposed to the unbelief in God. Also, atheists have had several best-selling books out trying to refute Christianity. Mike McDonald talks about them in his latest Western North Carolina Conference column:

He points out that the church has thrived more when under attack and under persecution. It was when it received state sanction in Europe that it withered. So now there is an attack mounting, which gives the church the opportunity to grow and spread the true message.

I would like to point out one thing: Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) What do atheists have to show for their faith?

The church has invented hospitals, public schools, feeding programs for the hungry, housing programs for the homeless, and disaster relief for those hit by tragedy.

What has atheism done in these areas of ministry? Where on Earth is there a hospital dedicated to the mission of atheism the way Presbyterian, Mercy, Baptist, or any other of the many, many church-related hospitals around the country and the world are dedicated to the ministry of Christianity. There are secular hospitals galore, but none devoted to the ministry of atheism.

Where are the atheist programs that dig wells in poor African villages like the UMCOR does? The UN has secular programs, but the church has more.

Where are the atheist institutions of higher learning that compete with Boston University, Northwestern, Duke, Wake Forest, Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Southern Methodist, etc., etc., etc. At the University of North Carolina, the first state university in America, a secular institution, you can get a degree in Religion.

What about housing programs? Where is the atheist equivalent to Habitat for Humanity?

Whenever there is a disaster, churches are on the front line bringing help, and opening church buildings to house those displaced. True, The Home Depot is on the front lines, also, bringing assistance, and schools are also opened for emergency housing, but these are secular, not atheist. I have yet to hear of an atheist meeting hall opened to take in those displaced by disaster.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. How much good do atheists have to show for their faith?

Finally, I would like to point out that those who believe in God and attend church regularly live longer; have happier, healthier lives on average; and are more respected in the community than those who don't.

So what does atheism have to offer me to beat all that?

I close with Pascal's Quadrilateral: If I don't believe and I'm right, I gain nothing. If I don't believe and I'm wrong, I lose everything. If I believe and I'm wrong, I lose nothing, but if I believe and I'm right, I gain everything.