Monday, June 11, 2007

Some thoughts on the Dr. Mark Roberts and Christopher Hitchens Debate Part 2

So, my husband said the last post on the debate was too long. He's probably right, so I will keep this brief and only deal with one issue. Hitchens asked Roberts a question that I thought was pretty good:

CH: And in that respect, and in others, too, though terrible things to be laid to his charge, as well. By any standards, he was a great mammal. This might be the time to reiterate my earlier challenge, because we still have some time left. I still want to be informed of a moral preachment, or a moral action made by a believer that couldn’t be made by an unbeliever.

HH: I’m not sure that I know one.

CH: Because otherwise, you see, religion becomes optional. You can have a nice Pope, you can have a nasty Pope. You can have an honest priest, you can have a dishonest priest. You can have a fraudulent Church or a frugal and scrupulous one. But it’s just, it could just as well be a private belief. Now that’s unfortunately not really possible in religious terms, is it, because you have to believe there is a supernatural power to which you owe some duty. You make yourselves believe this. I still can’t understand why you’d want to.

MR: (laughing) Well, you know, let me say that there is a struggle for believers who are open-minded and seek the truth, and I don’t deny it. But let me try to answer your question with an action that I consider to be one of the most moral that I do as a human being, though you and I might disagree on that, and that is the action, I did it last night. When my son was going to bed, I got next to him and I prayed for him. I doubt an atheist could do that. To me, that is one of the most moral of things I do as a human being.

And though that's a pretty good response, there is something at the core of that act. Prayer is an acknowledgment of the Creator. The moral act that a Christian does and an unbeliever refuses to do is to acknowledge the Creator. Paul writes of those who know that there is a God but fail to acknowledge him:
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
An atheist would obviously argue that it's not moral because God does not exist. It's an acknowledgment of a myth, a fairy tale. But the atheist's assertion that there is no God doesn't make it so. An assertion is not proof as atheists are quick to point out to us. If God is the Creator, as many in the scientific community believe, then acknowledging him would be the proper response of the creature. It's what God expects and what the unbeliever refuses to do.

And here's our quote from Calvin:
What shall we say but that man bears about with him a stamp of immortality which can never be effaced? But how is it possible for man to be divine, and yet not acknowledge his Creator? Shall we, by means of a power of judging implanted in our breast, distinguish between justice and injustice, and yet there be no judge in heaven? Shall some remains of intelligence continue with us in sleep, and yet no God keep watch in heaven? Shall we be deemed the inventors of so many arts and useful properties that God may be defrauded of his praise, though experience tells us plainly enough, that whatever we possess is dispensed to us in unequal measures by another hand?