Re: Why I am not an Atheist

Bill Dozier (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 09:35:54 -0400

At 11:52 AM 4/9/96, Fred Phelps is rumored to have typed:

I'm still trying to get Eudora to cooperate in letting me change the
attribution line. :^{P>

> I said:
> miracles != "gaps"
> Fred replied:
> As a mathematician I can define terms anyway I want and did so above!

Fair enough. However, you should make your definition explicit at the
beginning, especially if you are going to use terms that have familiar
meanings to others in ways not consistent with those meanings. As an
experimentalist, I prefer to be told from the start if all the constants
have be renormalized to unity. ;{>

> Fred said:
> I agree 100% but you need to understand my argument.

I understand your argument; I just didn't agree with it.

> If the miracle occurs in
> response to prayer in Jesus's name, that is darn good (forgive my
> crassness) evidence a) against scientism and b) for Christianity.

It is for you and me. Unfortunately it is not, unless you already believe.
The Bible is full of accounts of miracles that persuaded no one. In
general, miracles in Scripture built up the faith of those that already
believed. Miracles were most often done in response to faith rather than as
an apologetic. The "scientistic" person will seldom be brought to faith on
the basis of "gaps," although I know that this has happened occasionally.

We view the world through the grid of our presuppositions. While I am
willing, with sufficient evidence, to believe that my friend's son was
miraculously given a spleen by an act of God in response to prayer and I
also believe that such an event may shake the faith of a scientistic
person, it is far more common for the nonbeliever to assume that he just
doesn't have enough information.

Os Guiness told a story once about a seminary student arguing with an
existentialist about the Resurrection. After hours of grappling with all
the arguments for and against, the existentialist surrendered. The seminary
student began to get excited, expecting his friend to immediately be on the
brink of conversion. "OK, OK, I believe Jesus was resurrected from death, "
he said, "So what?" Someone with a worldview that does not see the world as
rational can accept that absurd things happen without seeing them as
miraculous proofs of Christianity.

> "Miracles" which are consistent with a scientistic explanation are not
> evidence against scientism nor are they evidence against Christianity.

They are when they are done in response to prayers by faithful Christians.
When God answers prayer in this way, He bolsters our faith.

> We cannot decide which world view is true (or even eliminate the one
> which is false) if there are no violations of the laws of nature or
> amazing coincidencs (answers to prayer). (At least we cannot decide
> based on this line of argument.)

Which is why salvation is by faith ("the hope of things not seen").
Apologetics and miracles have their place, but faith is a work done in the
heart by the Holy Spirit and not the direct result of either reasoned
argument or astonishing wonders.

> Thus miracles (as I defined them) are an awesome testimony to the
> reality of God and have changed thousands or millions of lives in
> dramatic fashion and I think we need to acknowledge this, starting in
> the New Testament. There is a difference between Jesus walking on the
> water and a man building a boat to cross the H20.

Name a New Testament (or Old) miracle that resulted in faith by those
hostile to faith. Maybe their was one, but I can't think of it.

I apologize if my tone comes across as overly argumentative. As others
(including me) have noted in the past, email does not easily allow the tone
of a person's voice to be heard, so you may not be able to tell what a
friendly and reasonable guy I really am. ;{>

Bill Dozier
Scatterer at Large