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Another Challenge for an Atheist

My friend Greg is former Harold Camping follower and still one of the most fundamentalist Christian I know. He is the type of person who doesn’t really listen to what you are saying and just regurgitates the standard arguments as if they are brand new. Yesterday, he e-mailed me a “challenge.”

The catch of the challenge was that he didn’t actually tell me what the challenge was. He wanted me to listen to a 70 minute sermon by some guy I never heard of. Knowing that Greg either isn’t aware or doesn’t care about standard Christian arguments and the standard atheist counter-arguments, I didn’t really give it any consideration. However, Greg is very persistent so I told him that I would listen to the sermon if he read Karen Armstrong’s book A History of God.

Greg agreed and has e-mailed me that he has read the book. Personally, I think he is lying, but I gave the sermon a listen anyway. For starters, it was a pretty boring sermon that didn’t really make any direct challenges. Although, at one point Dr. Alan Cairns asked, “Does your religion give you a provable and certain hope of life beyond the grave?” I take that to be “the challenge” Greg was referring to. The interesting thing was that Dr. Cairns said that Christians should take that challenge too.

During the entire sermon, Cairns gives no evidence for anything in the Bible. He simply asserts it as fact. That being the case, I don’t think Christianity has given a provable and certain hope of life beyond the grave. So this challenge falls equally to Greg. Where is the proof? Where is the certainty?

As for me, something can give people hope that they can fly, but it doesn’t make it so. This is where the proof comes in. Does atheism give people hope of life beyond the grave? No, but Humanism and science do give that hope. You see, I am reasonably certain that when I die, life on Earth will continue without me. I will live on beyond the grave in the lives that I touch and the work that I do by living my life fully as if it were my only life to live (because it is). I live on in other people and in what I leave behind.

I actually have proof of this with reasonable certainty. Aristotle lived 2500 years ago and yet he has conquered death. Every time someone reads one of his works or thinks about one of his ideas, he lives on beyond the grave. Ben Franklin once said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” Apparently, he too has conquered death.

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