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Personal Bias

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2022 12:01 am

Personal Bias

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 31, 2022 12:01 am

Many atheists deny God's existence primarily because they believe there is too much to lose in acknowledging the Creator who holds them accountable. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the influence that personal bias can have on a person's thinking.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind... ... .. .... ... .. . ... .. ... . .... There's the case that Montgomery is using when he talks about how stubborn we can be no matter how much evidence we have to look at if we don't want to believe what the evidence is saying. Now, in addition to that, we also have what I call love lines. We encounter this in the church all the time, where Christians will get together in groups and have discussions about theology, and all the differences of theology will emerge, and one's a Presbyterian and the other one's a Methodist and the other one's a Lutheran or an Episcopalian or whatever. And we have all these different nuances of doctrine that distinguish the various denominations that represent the Christian faith, and people are born and reared within the confines of these subcultural groups. And in that process, not only are we exposed to the particular traditions of our own heritage, but also we develop what we call love lines, lines of loyalty where, you know, I talk to people all the time like this who say, well, I think that you've persuaded me that such and such a position is true, but if I embrace that position, my parents will disown me or the people in my church will be very, very distressed. And that kind of interpersonal relationship has a tremendous impact on our thinking because none of us wants to be ostracized from the subculture to which we belong. Now obviously, if we're committed to the truth, we have the ability to cut through those barriers, but we have to be aware that they are there, and they're everywhere. They're not just in Christian circles, but they're in non-Christian circles. They're in all cultural subgroups.

We all have those different love lines. So we see four reasons why people of great education, even who have been trained and have become skilled in analytical thought and critical analysis, can still come to differing conclusions about major events. Every time we have a presidential election in America, all it takes to win that office and doesn't even always take this much is 51% of the vote.

And you see people who are born in the same country, raised in the same country, share a common cultural heritage and everything, be divided right down the middle over the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate, and we see again people coming to differing conclusions. Now when it comes to the question of the existence of God, here we are dealing with the question that I mentioned earlier has more baggage associated with it than any other question of truth. As I mentioned earlier, those who believe in the existence of God would be devastated if they were to discover that God did not exist. They want there to be a God.

We don't want to think that we're alone in this universe and that our lives are ultimately destined towards meaninglessness. On the other hand, if the God who is being affirmed is the Judeo-Christian God, the God of Israel, the God who issues the Ten Commandments, the God who commands obedience to His law, and a God who threatens every human being with eternal judgment for sin that if I am a sinner, I have a vested interest, at least I may think I have a vested interest that that God not exist. I've told the story before of the TV interview I witnessed once where Madeleine Murray O'Hare was being interviewed on a national talk show, and the host began to enter into dialogue with Madeleine Murray about the existence of God. And she was denying the existence of God, of course, and the host was suddenly fighting for the angels. And they couldn't come to any agreement, and in the middle of the impasse, the host decided to settle the matter in the typical American way by polling the studio audience. And so he said to the studio audience, how many of you believe that some kind of supreme being or higher power exists?

And everybody in the studio raised their hand. And the talk show host turned to Madeleine Murray in triumph and said, see? Now, she surprised me at that point.

I thought that she would be more sophisticated in her reply to him. Instead, what she did was, well, what do you expect from the masses? They're still tied to the prejudice of backwoods thinking. They haven't been dragged yet into the 20th century.

They haven't experienced enlightenment. And she went on and on like that. What I thought she would have said was this.

I thought she would have turned to the audience and said, okay, you believe in some kind of higher power. It's that cosmic dust. You believe in some kind of force.

May the force be with you. That's one thing. But how many of you believe in Yahweh, the God of Israel, who threatens you with hell if you do not submit to Him? Now, had she done that, I wonder what the response of the audience would have been. You see, the way the host framed the question depicted such an amorphous view of God that there was nothing threatening about it.

Who's frightened by a higher power or some nebulous force that is impersonal and who can never hold me accountable for my life? But do you see that even in that discussion of Madeleine Murray and the talk show host, there were certain things going on here that would frame the question of the existence of God in such a way as to remove some of the emotional attachments to the concept. Now, as I said, one of the things that we want to do in this brief study is to look at some of the most significant views of atheists in the last couple of hundred years. We know that Europe went through, at the end of the eighteenth century, a period that has been called the Enlightenment.

In Germany, it was called the Aufklärung. And the Enlightenment was not a monolithic movement where everybody adopted and embraced exactly the same philosophy. There were many different strands that were woven together that produced the Enlightenment that was in Germany and France and England that produced the French encyclopedias with people like Diderot who called himself the personal enemy of God. And we know that what was behind the announcement of Aufklärung, of Enlightenment, was this basic premise.

The fundamental assertion of the Enlightenment philosophers was that modern man in his scientific knowledge since the Copernican Revolution and the Galileo episode and so on, with the advent of modern science, the basic premise was this, the God hypothesis is no longer a necessary hypothesis to explain the origin of the universe or the significance of human beings. Now, we know, said the encyclopedist, for example, that the universe came into being through what they called, at this point in history, spontaneous generation. And since now spontaneous generation is a scientifically established fact, it is no longer necessary to appeal to some metaphysical being such as Aristotle's first cause or the prime mover that was argued for by the medieval philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and so on because the world does not require a cause in time and space.

It is its own cause. It just came into being spontaneously. And we can give scientific evidence for such forms of generation where you see tadpoles emerging suddenly out of mud puddles in the middle of the street, and we know that prior to the rainstorm there weren't any frogs around and so on, and we had all these cases of spontaneous generation. Now, some of you, I'm sure, studied this, not in high school but probably in elementary school, as I did when I was growing up. One of the things that our science teacher talked about was this idea of spontaneous generation and how earlier scientists had believed in this, and now we know it's a myth, now that our ability to examine microscopic things has so far exceeded what was available in the eighteenth century that now we know that these things that seem to appear suddenly out of mud puddles and so on have been transported there by birds or whatever and that there is a causal explanation for the appearance of these small organisms and so on. I remember our science teacher who carried no brief for Christianity telling us that we couldn't believe in spontaneous generation, that that was nonsense. And then I saw an essay written by a Nobel-winning physicist from the West Coast who, with a straight face I presume, penned this document saying that the time has come in modern scientific inquiry where no judicious scientist can affirm the idea of spontaneous generation. He said now we have to understand that generation from nothing can only take place after enormous periods of time have elapsed, that it has to be viewed as a gradual experience. And so what he was saying is that we cannot have spontaneous generation of something out of nothing. We can have gradual generation of something out of nothing. The other view was seen as impossible because of the quickness of it.

Now if we just allow enough time for the impossible to occur, it will occur. And I couldn't believe it when I read that essay that in this day and age we still have respectable scientists talking about spontaneous generation. But the point here is not to debate the idea of something out of nothing, which is an idea that comes out of nothing and has no credibility to it rationally. Nevertheless, what I'm trying to do is to understand what went on not in the Enlightenment but in the 19th century. Because as a result of the Enlightenment, even though the premise of spontaneous generation was later discredited, there was this massive sense of independence of science from philosophy and from theology, and they had made their point virtually universally that the God hypothesis is no longer necessary, never mind that the grounds for that assumption later proved to be insubstantial. The idea now became pervasive in the intellectual world. So the 19th century philosophers that we're going to look at briefly were not concerned to disprove the existence of God.

They felt that that had already been taken care of. The question they were asking was this, now that we know there is no God, how can we explain the virtually universal phenomenon of religion? Why is it that in every culture we examine, we find some at least rudimentary forms of religious activity? Why is it that Homo sapiens, which is the term for man, seems to be incurably Homo religiosus? In simple terms, the question was this, if there is no God, how's come there's religion?

If there is no God, why do so many people believe in Him? Now that was the question that people like Freud and Marx and Feuerbach and Nietzsche and others sought to provide an answer, and we will look at the answers that they set forth to this question in the following days. But in the meantime, let me ask you to continue to turn the guns for a moment away from your neighbor or away from your opponent.

Turn them on yourselves. We all need to do this from time to time and say, why do I have prejudices about certain truths that are important to me and to others? Why do I believe what I believe?

Is it because this is what my parents believed or what my friends believe or what my church believes? Or have I really thought through the grounds for the most important principles that I hold to be true and that govern my life? We all need to do that, engage in self-criticism and self-analysis to see what will stand up under that critique and what needs to be jettisoned as excess baggage. You know, that really underscores, doesn't it, our mission here at Ligonier Ministries to help you know what you believe and why you believe it. That's why we're featuring Dr. R.C. Sproul's series, The Psychology of Atheism, this week here on Renewing Your Mind. When we understand the underlying motivations of an atheistic worldview, we're better equipped to refute it.

R.C. wrote a book on this subject. It's titled, If There's a God, Why Are There Atheists? And we'd like to send you a copy of this book. Simply contact us today with a donation of any amount. We'll also provide you with a digital download of 15 of the messages from the series that we've been hearing this week. Again, it's titled, The Psychology of Atheism. There are a couple of ways you can make your request and give your gift.

One is online at renewingyourmind.org, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. As we continue this series, we're seeing that atheism is not an intellectual issue. It's moral. An atheist doesn't want to believe in God. Ligonier teaching fellow Dr. Stephen Lawson talked about that at one of our conferences. One should look at creation all around and see something not only of the fact of God, Creator, but to know something about Him, that He is a transcendent Creator. He is an immense Creator. He is a powerful Creator, and He is created with genius design. He has built into creation order and beauty. And my father was a professor in medical school for over 30 years, and he would say to me, Stephen, just take the human eye. That is clear testimony to the fact of a master Creator, a master designer. There is no way that the human eye has evolved and emerged out of nothing or out of mud or out of slime. The perfection with which it functions.

Or take the human heart, or take the human brain, or take the human lungs, or take any part of the human body. No, anyone with intellectual integrity and honesty would be able to look at creation and the changing of the seasons and the spinning of the earth, and it's properly being held on its axis at just the right angle, that there is a God in heaven, a Creator who has made all of this and who has made us. God exists. Everyone knows it, whether they admit it or not. Well, we really can't understand the psychology of atheism without taking a critical look at the destructive influence of Sigmund Freud. The atheist philosopher will be the focus of R.C. 's lesson tomorrow, and we hope you'll join us for that here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 22:03:13 / 2023-05-13 22:09:41 / 6

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