...and one more

Understanding opposition to the Bible

There is significant opposition to the Bible in current American culture.

That opposition is often led by those who publicly oppose the Bible’s words and advocate rejection of what it says. People who encourage others to reject the Bible use numerous means of persuasion beginning with public disparagement, inaccurate or blatantly false statements, and open riddicule of those who consider the text trustworthy. Other tools include instruction in evolutionary theory and human philosophy through educational institutions, and probably the greatest mass public teaching media, television, combined with the mass social media outlets where views of truth and reality are presented through the lens of Hollywood and corporate America. Because of these tools practically no one in America is untouched by negative messages about the Bible, and more importantly, God, both overt and covert.

Furthermore, there has been a significant rise in atheism in Western culture making it almost fashionable to be publicly atheist. The result of this trend has resulted in blatant mockery and skepticism on a scale that has never been seen in America and is frightful to observe. Add to this an increase in national secularization, a growing emphasis on materialism, and a focused pursuit of entertainment as a priority in life for many of the citizens of the United States (none of this is new, only a continuance and growth), and you have on your hands a decline in belief and reverence for God and the Bible at unprecedented levels.

Enter dissuaders

Clearly stated, the United States has seen an increase in public efforts by some to dissuade people away from viewing the Bible as the source of authority and truth. We may correctly refer to such people as dissuaders. By the term dissuader, I mean someone who dissuades others from a certain purpose or course of action. Sometimes dissuaders communicate that the Bible is to be regarded as only a collection of fables and myths. Others, in fields such as literary criticism, attempt to explain the Bible as the product of men who wrote the biblical texts in an effort to spread a new found religion based loosely upon the teachings of a Jewish man named Jesus who lived in Judea, Israel, 2,000 years ago. Tellingly, a more recent argument suggests that Jesus simply never lived and was simply a ruse constructed by certain persons within the Flavian Dynasty during Roman rule. Therefore, according to such views, the New Testament is not only misguided prose concerning a religious man deemed Messiah, but a complete fabrication and hoax upon the entire world. Unfortunately, such rhetoric has been more successful than one might imagine. For others who attempt to discredit the Scriptures, their opposition is based more on portrayal of belief in God as pure folly and the imaginary thoughts of people who need answers to unanswerable questions and impending death.

A step higher
Yet those who now attempt to discredit the Bible did not originate the idea. The attacks upon Scripture have an older and more significant source of sinister, accusation, and warfare. Consider Donald Barnhouse’s explanation of the situation (italics added).

...let us take notice of one of Satan’s favorite stratagems in his war against God knowing that the account of his rebellion is detailed in the Scriptures, he does everything possible to discredit the Book. Knowing that Genesis set forth the intervention of God in Satan’s kingdom, he is especially bitter in his attacks upon these pages. Satan’s hatred of the Scriptures is evident in many ways; every attack upon the Bible may be known to come from him. He will use any arm or instrument to belittle the veracity and authenticity of the Scriptures. At times the assaults are open and virulent. At times they are hidden and subtle. But always he has but one real hatred, one enmity, and that is the hatred of the living and true God. If Satan can get men to disbelieve in the record of the first lines of the Bible, he can get hem to disbelieve in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Barnhouse, The Invisible War, p. 66).

It is accurate to attribute the attacks upon Scripture to extend beyond that of mortal men and to recognize the cosmic war and earth-wide battlefield on which humanity finds itself.

An example contributor

Again, negative public opinion of the Bible and of God is nothing new. The Bible has always been viewed with a certain disdain by those who reject its invitations and warnings. One such notable voice and contributor to the efforts of discrediting the Bible is Bertrand Russell (1872-1920). This highly educated British academic is considered by some to be a clear voice and free thinker about the Bible and belief in God. Russell is considered as one who has helped to set at liberty the masses through his arguments against the Bible and his debates about why God does not exist.

In 1927 Russell produced an article titled, “Why I am not a Christian.” In the article he gives a dozen reasons and short explanations for why he chooses to disregard belief in God, more specifically, why he is not a Christian. Although many claim the article to be a clear explanation and effective polemic against God and the Bible, unfortunately, his argument is limited and misleading. Let’s take for example Russell’s first point, subtitled, “The Existence of God.” Here is the paragraph in full (emphasis added).

Perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is the argument of the First Cause. It is maintained that everything we see in this world has a cause, and as you go back in the chain of causes further and further you must come to a First Cause, and to that First Cause you give the name of God. That argument, I suppose, does not carry very much weight nowadays, because, in the first place, cause is not quite what it used to be. The philosophers and the men of science have got going on cause, and it has not anything like the vitality it used to have; but, apart from that, you can see that the argument that there must be a First Cause is one that cannot have any validity. I may say that when I was a young man and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: “My father taught me that the question ‘Who made me?’ cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question `Who made god?’” That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, “How about the tortoise?” the Indian said, “Suppose we change the subject.” The argument is really no better than that. There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination. Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.

Russell’s first point relates to the most important question every human being is confronted with: Did God create the universe?—often termed the First Cause. First Cause relates to the force or impetus behind creation: the compelling vision, planning, energy, and execution of the entire universe. A feat mindless matter or environmental conditions could never achieve. Unfortunately, Russell misses a clear point. The Bible unequivocally claims God created the world from the beginning: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Russell's rejection of God as the creator is a simultaneous rejection of the Bible, a view that is passed along to the readers who adopt his position.

Russell concludes his argument about the First-Cause argument by making a profound error, saying, “I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.” Russell clearly believes the question is not worth more than one paragraph. Consider this issue carefully. Russell dismisses as inconsequential the very pinnacle question every human struggles with and inquires about. This is the single most important question confronting humanity. The veracity of truth, the purpose and reason for humanity, both corporately and individually, hinges on this single question. The answer to this question is of such grave importance, for example, that governments across the globe continue to pour untold amounts of money into discovering this answer through deep space exploration. Ever heard of the James-Webb telescope?

Scientists, philosophers, humanists, religious persons, non-religious persons and practically everyone else throughout human history have attempted to explain and understand the origins of life and matter. And yet, Russell simply contends it is a waste of time to expound further on the question. Now, you may feel that Russell is limited in his space to explain his position on the issue because of the need for brevity, but this does not explain the matter sufficiently. Without question, Russell carefully chose his words to make his point clear and narrowed those words to specifically state that the question is irrelevant.

Russell goes on to clearly explain how he came to believe the First Cause is not a creditable argument. Russell states he was significantly influenced while reading about a father who informed his son that any explanation about the origins of a First Cause cannot include God because God would have to also have a First Cause. Here is a point that must not be missed. If Russell was influenced to believe that no God can exist by such a simplistic statement, this becomes a glaring example of how others are taught in the same manner. Russell, and many like him, make the argument against God and the Bible—teacher to student—one who influences to another who is influenced—even if the argument is as shallow as Russell’s anecdotal point. Russell’s argument for what he believes is this: the world is as good a candidate for being eternal and the originator of life as God. Of course, there are many points and fundamental laws that explain that Russell’s arguments cannot be accurate. The list of arguments against such points is extensive and I recommend you read Geisler and Turek’s book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist. The book is literally filled with information that argues against and clarifies such lines of thinking.

You may reply, “Russell was one of the great thinkers of his day and is therefore creditable.” This is precisely how such dissuaders garner influence and notoriety. Unfortunately, such arguments against God, even by intelligent people, are strangely simplistic and even child-like. Such persons speak not from a position of evidence but of volition (as Russell clearly states). Russell, as many others, pursuade people to reject the Bible...and because of this they may be rightly refered to as dissuaders.

Let's continue on to discuss more about how dissuaders dissuade others.

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