Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Can Atheists be Good?

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Morality with and without God
Christians will sometime claim that atheists have no morals.  Atheists sometimes accuse Christians of making that claim.  The point of this article to combat the claim that atheists have no morals, they do, but I want to go two steps further by showing the weakness of a moral framework that does not include an objective source and to convict Christians who live just like everyone else.   Everybody has selfish desires and everybody acts on them to some extent, not just atheists. The bulk of the article will focus on how believing in God has made me a better person than I would be without God by helping me act in ways that oppose my selfish desires (Galatians 5:16).

Atheists can be, and often are, good1 people.  In fact, I know atheists who are better than some Christians I know; however, this does not mean their moral framework is on equal grounds with Christians’ moral framework.  Atheists have many sources for moral knowledge ranging from evolution, reason, science, social contracts, and feelings, but these sources are not objective and unchanging.  Even if moral laws are agreed upon, there is still no reason for anyone to obey or exceed them in ordinary scenarios, not to mention extreme or unfavorable situations.  It is merely a personal preference, which is the result of DNA, character development, and the situation.

For Christians, a love of God encourages and arguably even compels (not against our will, but in accordance with our will) us to obey and even exceed moral expectations to the point of self-sacrifice.  Christians have an objective source in God and the Bible that tells us there is no greater love than to give your life (John 15:13), to consider others as more important that yourself (Philippians 2:3-4 & Romans 12:10), and to love your enemy (Matt 5:44).  There’s no exception for being in a bad mood, not liking someone, or being in a hurry. The Christian (and most theistic) moral framework sets a higher standard of behavior and because it is absolute and objective (i.e. true), it also have the power to convict people to obey it, making it superior to any morality that can result from atheism.


The rest of the article will focus on how my personal life would be different if I became an atheist.  I was a little hesitant to post this article because it might seem like boasting, so let me be clear, I am far from being a saint.  Additionally, as you read how my life would be different if I was an atheist, you’ll see the exact opposite of boasting or, as Paul says, boasting about things that show my weakness (2 Cor 11:30 & 2 Cor 12:9,).   While this article is meant to show the superiority of Christian morality and challenge the atheist perspective, it might also convict many Christians. Most of the actions listed below are not wrong, but are small actions that are above and beyond normal moral standards, which can impact or potentially impact other people.  Just imagine the difference these seemingly small things would make if over 200 million american adults or a person of influence did the same things.


The truth is that without God, I was and still am just as selfish as anyone else and probably even more than most.  If I became an atheist today, I would still be a good person by normal social standards, but I wouldn’t be merely as good of a person.  I humbly admit that I need God to help me consistently obey and exceed moral laws, especially when nobody else would notice.  I just cannot do it without Him and I wouldn’t even want to try to if it weren’t for God.


If I was an atheist
So, if I became an atheist (when I say this, I am assuming my wife would also be an atheist since we make decisions together regarding many of the following topics and situations), how would my life be the same and different as it pertains to being good or bad?  I would still make a positive contribution to society by working, spending, raising children, and mostly obeying the laws.  I would still be nice and friendly most the time, get along well with others, and occasionally offer to help other people.  However, I would be much more self-serving in the way I spend my time and money, and I would be much less considerate of other people and how my actions affect them.  


Driving
If I was an atheist, I would not drive old or beat up vehicles.  Both of my family’s vehicles have over 100,000 miles and were at least four years old when we bought them.  If my wife and I were atheists, we would spend more money to drive new vehicles with the latest features to make our life easier and more comfortable.  We’d probably drive bigger vehicles out of concern for our own safety, ability to see, to feel more important, and to be more comfortable.  We would not be as concerned for other drivers’ ability to see around us nor would we be concerned about how our unnecessarily large vehicle would affect their safety.  We would be willing to spend thousands of dollars more than we do on newer, larger, and more luxurious vehicles that require thousands of dollars of extra gas, are more hazardous or inconvenient to others, and do greater harm to the environment.


In addition to driving different vehicles, we would also drive differently.  As it is now, I do not speed or use my phone when driving because it is dangerous, not just for me, but for others on the road.  If I was an atheist, I would’'t be as concerned for others or the law, so I would speed (just a little, only 5-10 mph over, unless I was really in a hurry), I would drive a little more recklessly by cutting in and out of traffic, being more aggressive at stop lights, and using my phone while driving.  I would save myself time and I’d be able to accomplish other tasks while driving.  I would further rationalize this behavior by saying that everyone does it and that it’s very unlikely that I will get in or cause an accident.  My selfish pursuits would endanger other people, while offering them no benefit in return.


Health and Appearance
As a Christian, I strive to glorify God with my body (1 Cor 6:18), which means I try to live a healthy lifestyle by practicing good eating and fitness habits.  Having a good physical appearance is the result, not the goal.  If my wife and I were atheists, we would spend more time and money on our appearance and likely be willing to achieve it through unhealthy means.  For instance, my wife and I would go to the spa on a regular basis to get massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, and expensive hair care or maintenance (I’d probably just get massages).  On top of that, we wouldn’t be opposed to the occasional cosmetic nip and tuck to make sure we both look our best while practicing unhealthy eating habits by eating out continuously and overindulging in food.  I would still workout since I enjoy it, but it is likely that I would spend a fair amount of money on supplements to achieve artificial results.  Surgery and supplements would be necessary since I wouldn’t be concerned about the quantity of food I ate.  Overeating is a struggle I am currently fighting as a Christian, but if I was an atheist, I wouldn’t even care and would just give in.  


Furthermore, if I was an atheist, I would take other steps to improve my appearance.  I certainly would’'t wear $20 jeans that are only semi-comfortable.  My wife and I would spend ten times more money on clothes, only buying items that are comfortable and stylish (name brands).  Instead of wearing old clothes or fixing up holes, we would throw clothes away as soon as it showed any signs of wear.  I wouldn’t be concerned with what else I could do with the extra money I spent, having a few less years of life, how my health negatively impacts my work, or how my abuse of my body affects the health care system.  It just wouldn’t matter because individually, those are such minor or distant repercussions that I would rather enjoy the moment.


Other
There are countless other ways in which my wife and I would live differently as atheists that do not fall under one of the previous categories.  I would be less tolerant and forgiving of other people.  My family would live in a bigger, more luxurious house and use the extra space or amenities for our own enjoyment.  We’d have a home theatre, I’d have a man-cave, my kids would each have their own bedrooms and a playroom, we’d have a bar, we’d have bigger, newer and more TVs, and my wife would probably have her own room or office.  We certainly wouldn’t use the extra space in our house to let others live or stay with us (except visiting family) like we currently do.  This means we wouldn’t be foster parents, wouldn’t have let interns stay with us during the past year, and wouldn’t sponsor Air Force Academy cadets.  We would keep up on the latest technology by having smart phones, newer computer equipment, and more tech devices (iPads, iPods, 3D TV, computers, etc.).


We would eat out more often and when doing so, we wouldn’t tip as well (especially when the service isn’t very good), nor would we clean up after ourselves (that’s what busboys are for right? *sarcasm*).  Since we live in Colorado, we would probably go skiing a couple times a month throughout the winter.  We would also go on multiple vacations every year, including international destinations, and stay at expensive resorts.  I would also be more careless about using resources (money, water, electricity, gas, food, paper, etc.) whether in my personal life, or at work, the gym, hotels, restaurants, and any other place (and probably be just plain wasteful when other people are paying for those resources).  We would save much much more money for our retirement (so we could continue to live lavishly in the future), we would save more for our kids’ college, and maybe even put them in expensive private schools.


We could afford all these things because my wife would work instead of staying home with our kids (which is best for them, however, not every situation is the same and not every family has that opportunity), we would stop giving away so much money, and we would be less honest on our taxes.  As a Christian, I go through great pains to do my taxes correctly, often resulting in owing more money.  If I was an atheist, I wouldn’t blatantly cheat on my taxes, but I wouldn’t put in extra effort to make sure I do them right...unless it would get me more money back!  I would be content taking other people’s tax advice (which is often wrong) on what I can claim for deductions or credits, which would save me time and money, and afterall, everyone else does it, right?


Conclusion
None of the things I described above are necessarily bad, nor am I claiming that doing any or all of them makes you a bad person.  The point is that all of the actions I described above would serve virtually nobody else except the individual doing them.  Ultimately, if I was an atheist, I would be completely dedicated to achieving comfort, safety, happiness, and power for myself and my family.  In the atheist worldview, there is no objective power that encourages people to be more virtuous or even obey accepted moral laws.  At best, the atheist worldview can only curb selfish desires by appealing to self- interest and the benefits of conforming to socially accepted moral rules.  It cannot inspire sacrificial love.  At worst, atheism is inept at preventing self-interest when it can be gained at the expense of others and fails to restrain evil acts such as those committed by atheists such as Hitler2, Stalin, and others.


As a Christian, my beliefs drive everything I do in life and encourage me to continue to grow into a more loving, considerate, honest, and generous person.  If I was an atheist, I would still be a good person by social standards, but I would be less fun to be around and less helpful to society.  I would be “good” but not nearly AS good as I am as a Christian.  I suspect the same is true for most other people as well, even atheists who are model citizens.


I leave you with a quote from Douglas Coupland in his book Life After God, which is perhaps a little more extreme than my position, but closely parallels it.  “I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.”


Footnotes
  1. When I say good, I mean good by normal social standards and usage of the term.  I am not speaking in deeper theological terms.
  2. Hitler was indeed an atheist.  He publicly used religion as a political tool when it would benefit him.  He denounced it privately to his confidants and more publicly when as he gained power.  Moreover, even if we grant that he really viewed himself as a Christian, there is an objective standard, the Bible, which can be used to evaluate whether he really was a Christian.  When comparing his words and actions to the teachings of the Bible, we discover that he was not a Christian.  Although this link, Religious views of Hitler, is from Wikipedia, I am posting it because it is the best article I could find that is the most comprehensive of all of Hitler’s statements and views on religion...and it has almost 300 external links or sources for fact checking!  Even more on the point, if you want to just remove Hitler’s name, you can do that and replace it with other atheist dictators such as Mao Zedong, Pol Pott, Benito Mussolini, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, or others.


Thanks for reading.  If you have a question, comment, or disagreement, please write it in the comments.


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Keywords:
Bible: truth apologetics exclusivity exclude inclusive inclusivity Jesus Bible New Testament Old Testament cross logos believe belief faith trust
Truth: Christianity religion philosophy reason logic true real reality purpose meaning atheism skepticism questions skeptical doubt Islam Hindu Hinduism Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Catholic Catholicism Confucianism Jewish Mormon Mormonism Latter-Day Saints Jehovah’s Witness Baptist

morality moral argument good goodness evil sacrifice atheist agnostic agnosticism love enemy hate ethics ethical

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why is Jesus the only way? Part 1


Part I - Actions
Estimated reading time: Under 5 Mins
Main points: 1 & 2


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The Bible says that the only way to attain salvation is by believing in Jesus (John 8:24).1  Based on this doctrine, many atheists conclude that the Christian God is a narcissist with poor self-esteem. I admit that on the surface, that claim seems a bit silly, petty, arrogant, and could even be offensive.  So why do Christians believe Jesus is the only way and espouse that belief to others? Good question.  I'm glad you asked.  Whether you reject the truth of the Bible, seek to test its authority, or want confirmation of its claims, we can and should find evidence of its truth and authority from external sources and through critical thinking, including that claim that Jesus is the only way.  In doing so, I think we will find that this claim is much more sensible than it might seem on the surface.

1.) Purpose
worldview-pyramid-larger.jpgI suspect that most people want to know why beliefs about God matter as much or more than behavior.  They don’t necessarily matter more, but our beliefs about God affect your views on everything else in life, including your purpose in life, which affects how you behave.  Beliefs and behaviors go hand in hand.  If you truly believe (and trust) in Jesus, then you will spend the bulk of your time, money, and resources to help others meet and know Him. Having a relationship with God is the most wonderful and meaningful experience a person can have, so helping others attain that experience is the most loving thing you can do for them.  On the other hand, if you do not believe in Jesus, you will spend your time, money, and resources other ways, many of which are probably harmful to you or others.

To illustrate my point, imagine that you develop a new medication that cures every illness, from a common cold to AIDS.  It has no negative side effects, and it costs virtually nothing to produce or purchase.  The pill is so effective that it sells itself, but you still need to hire employees to manufacture and distribute your medication to the world.  Would you reward employees who sat around the warehouse all day gratifying their own desires by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing games, socializing, eating, and drinking, instead of doing the work you hired them for?  What if some employees were fooled into thinking that a placebo look-a-like pill was somehow better, and so they filled your pill bottles with the placebo and packaged it up to be distributed to the masses.  Would you reward those employees?  Absolutely not!  In fact, you would probably fire all them immediately.

Please don’t take this analogy too far as no analogy is a perfect comparison to God.  The point is that we humans are God’s “employees” and He put us on this earth for a purpose.  We were created to glorify God, serve God and the people He created, and spread the word so others can do the same (1 Cor 10:31, Eph 2:10, Matt 28:19).  If you don’t believe in Jesus, you are not fulfilling the purpose God gave you, which means that you’re either not working at all or you’re working directly against God.2  If we are not fulfilling the purpose we’ve been given, we should expect to be fired, not rewarded.  

2.) Love
The next point concerns what it means to love or be kind to someone.  God gives us commands because He is a loving God who wants and knows what is best for us.  His commands are to protect us and help us flourish individually and collectively.  His commands are not designed to prevent us from having fun or to make us miserable.  On the contrary, by following His commands, we experience greater joy in everything we do, and so do those around us, because we are experiencing life within the confines of how our minds and bodies were created.  Moreover, if you don’t know what is right and loving, you will likely bring some harm on other people.  If someone is dying and you intentionally give them a placebo instead of the cure, you are not showing kindness; you are acting maliciously!

Let’s take sex for example.  It is generally thought of as a good thing between couples, but if you don’t enjoy it the way God intended (within a monogamous & heterosexual marriage), it will lead to negative consequences such as STDs, unwanted pregnancy and the potential negative effects of abortion, decreased trust and intimacy when you do eventually get married, and increased likelihood of divorce when you do get married.3-6  If you have sex outside of marriage, you are probably causing at least a small degree of harm to yourself and those you sleep with (especially if you have an STD or are less than honorable in your seduction methods).  In addition to that, when others see or know about your actions, whether they are strangers or your children, you are normalizing the behavior and implicitly encouraging them to do the same.  Therefore, your actions indirectly lead to harm in others, which might be minimal, but it also might be life threatening (AIDS, abortion, etc.).  Let’s go a step further and say that you’ve only had sex within marriage, but you vocally advocate for people to have sex outside of marriage.  In this case, you may not necessarily be harming yourself, but you are once again making this behavior more acceptable and likely others will do it.  As a result, you are contributing to the harm others bring on themselves or their children when their parents divorce as a result of your ‘advice.’7,8  This same reasoning can be applied to other issues, from the controversial such as abortion and homosexuality, to the mundane such as driving habits and the way you speak.

Conclusion
Your beliefs and actions have consequences; whether you or someone else experiences those consequences will depend on the situation.  If you believe wrong things about God, your views about other topics and at least some of your actions will also be wrong, and therefore, damaging to yourself or others.  While any wrong action or belief may only result in small or unlikely consequences, it is reckless and selfish not to think of the impact it could have, especially on others.  Consider driving and using a cell phone.  Usually, it usually results in little or no harm such as slowing down traffic or being an annoying driver.  However, sometimes this needless distraction is the cause behind severe or deadly accident.  With a world population of 7 billion people, one in a million chances occur 7,000 times per day.  If you want to be a kind and loving person, you have to have right beliefs about God so you know how to be kind and loving.  Your actions are just as important, if not more important than your intent. Our words and actions have the power to bring pleasure or pain to many people.  The choice is yours, will you help or harm others?

Part II discusses truth and knowledge.  You can read it by scrolling down or clicking here.  I am also working on an article that details how I would act differently if I were an atheist.  Check back soon.  I will post that link here when it’s done.

Thanks for reading.  If you have a question, comment, or disagreement, please write it in the comments.

Footnotes:
1. Many popular verses (John 3:16, etc.) on salvation are ambiguous or leave ‘loopholes’ for people to be saved without being a Christian.  These verses tell us that people who believe will be saved, but don’t explicitly mention those who don’t believe.  John 8:24 is very clear.  It says, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NASB).
2. If you are not living your life for God, yet claim to be a Christian, perhaps you are not really a Christian, or you are a spiritually immature Christian.  Believing God exists isn’t enough (James 2:19), you must have faith in God, which means you must actually put your trust in Him.  Truly and humbly examine yourself to see if you’re really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) by reading read the book of James and 1 John (specifically chapter 2).  Let the Bible judge whether or not you really are a Christian, and if not, respond by making a genuine commitment to Jesus.
3. Booth, A., & Johnson, D. (1988). Premarital cohabitation and marital success.Journal of Family Issues, 9(2), 255-272.
4. Brown, S. L., Sanchez, L. A., Nock, S. L., & Wright, J. D. (2006). Links between premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital quality, stability, and divorce: A comparison of covenant versus standard marriages. Social Science Research, 35(2), 454-470.
5. Kahn, J. R., & London, K. A. (1991). Premarital sex and the risk of divorce.Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53(4), 845-55.
6. Teachman, J. (2003). Premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and the risk of subsequent marital dissolution among women. Journal of Marriage and Family,65(2), 444-455.
7. Not all pain and suffering are the result of disobedience to God (although some claim it is the result of Adam and Eve’s actions).  I am merely commenting on pain and suffering that is the direct result of someone’s disobedience or rejection of God..
8. You may be asking, is it loving to send people to hell and what about those who have never heard?  For those who haven’t heard, the Bible says (Acts 17:26-27) that God determined our time and place in the world so we would seek Him.  Whether or not hell is just is very deep issue that is better saved for another time.  Until I get a chance to research it more and write that article, I highly recommend you check other sources, read what the Bible actually says about hell and what it contrasts with everlasting life, or ask a question in the comments.
9. Jesus said He told us of earthly things so we could believe the things He told us of heavenly things (John 3:12).  We are supposed to evaluate the claims of the Bible!

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Why is Jesus the only way? Part 2

Part II - Truth & Knowledge
Estimated reading time: Under 5 Mins
Main points: all
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Part I of this article discussed how our beliefs about God affect our behavior, and so we need to have right beliefs so that we can act accordingly.  You can read that article by clicking here.  Part II, while still intertwined with human behavior, focuses more on truth and knowledge.


3.) Knowing God  
look alike 3 amy ilsa.jpgGod wants to have a relationship with us (Galatians 3:26, 1 John 4:10).  If our knowledge of God is wrong, then we cannot have a very good relationship with Him, nor can we love Him very well.  Think of this in terms of actual people.  For example, let's assume that you are a world famous celebrity who is very nice and caring (hopefully the second part isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination).  One day you meet a few people at a party and really hit it off, so you exchange contact information.  Over the next few months, you hang out, talk on the phone, and send e-mails to each other.  However, your new friends start to believe bad and untrue things about you based on unreliable sources instead of believing what you say is true.  To add insult to injury, they constantly confuse you with another celebrity that looks like you (like Amy Adams & Isla Fisher).


You may feel you know these people pretty well, but how well do they know you?  How will their inaccurate knowledge of you affect how their friends, family, and coworkers view you?  You could not have a genuine and meaningful relationship with them and it would be very difficult to have a relationship with anyone who they've gossiped to about you.  How can you love God and have a meaningful relationship with Him if your knowledge of Him is inaccurate?  If you view Him as angry or indifferent, why would you bother to put your trust in Him?  If you don’t think He even exists, how can you experience the joy He can bring to your life?  If you think He is weak or controlling, why would you bother to follow His commands and make disciples for Him?


4.) Exclusion
Many people criticise Christianity because it is exclusivistic, only accepting one way.  Yes, Christianity excludes certain beliefs, but it does not exclude people, not anyone at all.  Anybody can come to Christ, at any time, in anyway, and Christians should be accepting of all people.  What Christianity excludes is ideas.  While this may seem unique to Christianity, all worldviews and religions exclude others, some just might be more subtle about it.  The reason for this is because truth, by definition, is exclusive.  For instance, 2+2=4.  The correct answer is the one and only right answer and, therefore, all other answers are wrong or excluded.  We should actually be leery of inclusion rather than exclusion because the inclusivists are making claims that at the very least, are excluding the exclusivists.


Ironically, despite the accusations, Christianity should be the least exclusive worldview in terms of acceptance and respect of other people (I recognize it is not always practiced or portrayed this way, but this is what it SHOULD be).  What other worldview so clearly says to love your neighbor and even your enemy?  The view of Christians should be that, yes, we have the truth and will do anything we can to help you see it, but you are free to reject it.  Whether you accept or reject it, we will still love and respect you as a person.  This balance is possible because Christianity says all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of what they do or what they believe.


5.) What is right or good?
Most people want to do what is right and be a good person.  Unfortunately, without the existence of God (an absolute and objective standard), right and wrong are man-made constructs that are defined by personal or cultural preferences.  There is no such thing as absolute right or absolute wrong without God.  Therefore, if God does not exist, then it does not even make sense to criticize a religion for being exclusivistic because exclusion is not wrong or bad.  Any particular person or culture may not like it; however, others might like it.  It is only preference, just like choosing a favorite color.


On top of that, we live in a world that is created by God and will be judged by God.  There is no appealing to a higher standard because God is the highest standard.  We have no choice to accept it and if we do not like it, then we must realize that the problem is that our selfish desires are giving us an incorrect view of reality.  Luckily, we were created by a loving and forgiving God who judges us based on who we really are in our heart.  We all make mistakes and act out of character at times, but those rare instances don't reflect who we are.  If we are to be judged, wouldn’t you want to be judged fairly, by who you actually are in your heart and not on your imperfections?  If, at your core, you really love truth and honestly desire to know it, He will be revealed to you (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, James 4:8).


6.) Because the Bible says so
The Bible is true; however, not everyone accepts it as true.  The standard dogmatic answer to the question of “why is Jesus the only way?” is because the Bible says so.  To the skeptic or honest doubter, this is a terrible answer by itself.  To make is a good answer, we must support that claim that Bible is true.  We can support this claim by evaluating the full ranges of evidence, which comes from areas such as philosophy (logic and  reason), science, history, and more.  There are piles of evidence supporting the truth of the Bible.  If, by those other means, it is determined that the Bible is true, it would be foolish to reject what it says about things that cannot be tested (even if we don't like it).1  The gravity really exists, even if I don’t want it to.  It would be foolish of me to admit it’s true, but refuse to accept it because I don’t like it.  No matter how much I don’t like gravity or don’t believe it, I will still fall if I decide to jump off a building.












Conclusion
Everything we do in life can be traced back to what we believe about God.  The God of the universe is personal, loving, and is concerned with truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  As a result, we should only expect one way to salvation and that is what He's given us. If we have an accurate view of God, our actions will also be accurate (morally right), which will lead our lives and the lives of those around us to be more fulfilling and joyful.


Thanks for reading.  If you have a question, comment, or disagreement, please write it in the comments.


Footnotes:
1. Jesus said He told us of earthly things so we could believe the things He told us of heavenly things (John 3:12).  We are supposed to evaluate the claims of the Bible!


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Keywords: truth apologetics exclusivity exclude inclusive inclusivity heaven hell savior evangelism sermon Jesus Bible New Testament Old Testament Christianity religion philosophy science reason logic true real reality love purpose meaning life Christ cross logos believe belief faith trust atheism skepticism questions skeptical doubt Islam Hindu Hinduism Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Catholic Catholicism Confucianism Jewish Mormon Mormonism Latter-Day Saints Jehovah's Witness testimony Church Baptist baptism Holy Spirit Holy Ghost priest pastor father guru friar imam ministry saint apostle disciple spirituality spiritual universal relative relativism absolute objective subjective hypothesis theory gay homosexual marriage straight God deism flying spaghetti monster agnostic agnosticism unbelief disbelief the Word right wrong good bad morality history historical scientific archaeology physics chemistry biology evolution creation old earth young earth intelligent design theistic evolution theism theology Jesus freak leadership money time Vishnu Krishna Moses Mohammed cosmological teleological intellectual blind lamb genesis broken suicide help need tithe donate give saving grace missionary meaningful important uncertain Muslim Scientology doctor PhD medicine living garden of eden Israel war genocide rape murder abortion marriage marry politics liberal conservative republican democrat world universe communism protestant lutheran methodist non-denominational parenting children teens money finances investing retirement investments stocks bonds mutual funds food eating health fitness $ hope generosity salvation lifestyle worldview scripture verses  chapters TV music movies audio books media baby blood tradition correct Internet learn psychology psychic mysticism healing fire water food bread walk journey exercise genetics DNA eastern western mentor greek hebrew read roman sin everyone new age original sin Taoism Shinto law legal court justice mercy punishment divorce Sikhism satan devil eternity eternal infinite mathematics arabic english latin modern progressive evil sex relationships hate hatred defend challenging thoughtful encouraging repentance guilt shame gospel resurrection argument evidence support growing maturing weight loss sports hockey baseball basketball football soccer futbol culture righteousness forgiveness adultery cheating affair praise worship mind body soul heart peace kingdom persecuted