I just finished reading a short book with a long title. It’s only 111 pages. You can probably get it for a penny plus shipping online. The author is Douglas Wilson and the title is “Letter from a Christian Citizen: A Response to Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.” In this little book, Harris, an atheist, is shown to be inconsistent in his beliefs again and again.
Being inconsistent sounds like a minor thing, but it’s actually a serious matter if one is inconsistent. The psalmist who wrote psalm 119 wrote:
I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
Wilson shows that, since Harris believes that there is no God, Harris ought to reject any and all moral absolutes; it would be consistent. Harris has tried to reject absolute morality, arguing for moral relativism, but it’s just not possible to make a cogent argument and be consistent if one rejects moral absolutes. Arguing that something is bad doesn’t work if one is arguing that having an absolute and objective “good” and “bad” is bad. Sadly, that’s where the atheist takes his argument time and time again.
In the Bible, James twice mentions the double-minded man (James 1:8 and 4:8). He writes that the man who asks God for wisdom must ask in faith and must not doubt, and the double-minded man is told to purify his heart. Looking at it from another perspective, if a person tries to be consistent in his beliefs, that’s the direction to take away from double-mindedness. If a person comes to God, he is in reality coming to truth.
Biblically, the liar is listed with the “cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, [and] idolaters”, whose final destination will be the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Is it fair to equate a person who is inconsistent in his beliefs with a liar? Does being inconsistent merit the lake of fire?
In Matthew 23, we read Jesus’ strong words against hypocrites.
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
Isn’t inconsistency what Jesus is condemning? Saying one must do one thing and doing another is definitely inconsistent. There’s a notable difference, though: whereas the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat and are meant to be passing on God’s law, yet not obeying it themselves, atheists such as Harris are trying to say that there is no Lawgiver and hence no law, yet they try to use law when they make arguments against the Lawgiver. Jeffrey Dahmer will long be remembered, not only for the heinous crimes he committed, but for demonstrating why there were a logical outcome of atheism and evolutionism. He was being consistent with the belief that there is no Lawgiver, as he concludes in his infamous quote in the interview with Stone Phillips.
Wilson, on page 90, argues against Harris’ atheistic arguments thusly:
For example, you begin by saying, “Unfortunately there are many books that pretend to divine authorship, and they make incompatible claims about how we all must live”. Well, sure. I agree with that. The Koran and the Bible, to take just two examples, cannot both be the Word of God. But how is this observation an argument against the concept of divine revelation?
One merely has to spend a little time learning about those two books to recognize the differences. They are contrary to each other at many points, so much so that it takes no great scholar to recognize that they both cannot be the Word of God; logic would exclude such a conclusion. Their respective followers also differ greatly in general behaviour. However, one of the two books still can be considered to be the Word of God on its own merit.
But how is this observation an argument against the concept of divine revelation? If there are a million dollars just sitting there, and somewhere out there is a long-lost heir, it is in the highest degree likely that many will show up claiming to be that heir. Nobody counterfeits brown shopping bags, but they do counterfeit twenty-dollar bills. To argue from numerous false claimants to the conclusion that there must not be an inheritance is a dubious procedure. To argue that there is no such thing as the Federal Reserve because of a rise in counterfeiting is not a structurally sound argument. When you have rival claims about ultimate reality, one of the things that you must do is sort them out.
Wilson’s book was definitely written to be read by Harris, but Wilson is under no illusion that Harris will actually read it, let alone be persuaded to repent and believe in Jesus. What Wilson knows, and indeed any who believe the Bible know, is that becoming a Christian is rather miraculous. When you consider even the Bible’s revelation on what sort of change takes place when becoming a Christian, it’s awe-inspiring that there are any Christians at all. Consider just the first few verses of the letter to the Ephesians:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
I don’t know about you, but I think being dead and then being made alive is quite the change. The change is due to the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
It’s no wonder, then, that atheists attack it. It’s an irrational attack, though. The Bible’s message is a message of salvation; it doesn’t make much sense for someone in trouble to reject salvation, but we know that’s to be expected.
John tells us:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
So the problem is obvious. What is the solution? In a Word: Jesus.
He is uncaused.