A.L.I.V.E.—The “L” Is For Lives Changed

A man named Paul was visiting Athens. While he was in the marketplace, he began to talk with people about Jesus Christ, specifically how Jesus had been crucified and then raised back to life.

His comments caught the attention of two groups of philosophers: the Epicureans who thought all religions were made up and were simply a crutch for the weak-minded and superstitious, and the Stoics who said that a divine power was in everything but wasn’t a Person that could be personally known. These groups said to Paul, “You are presenting some new teachings and strange ideas that we have never heard before! Would you come and address our next meeting?”

In 2004, renowned atheist Anthony Flew announced something that was a “strange idea” to the ears of his followers. Flew presented one of his first papers on atheism at the Socratic Club at Magdalen College, where the Christian literary giant C.S. Lewis served as the chairman. Over the years Flew had sharpened his rhetoric to become one of the best known and most outspoken atheists on the worldwide stage.

Yet in 2004, an 81-year-old Anthony Flew remarked, “I simply had to go where the evidence led,” as Flew announced to the world: there IS a God.

“My discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith,” wrote Flew in his book There Is A God, which is why last week I shared the first way we can know Jesus is alive in “A” is for apologetics. Today I submit to you the second way one can know that Jesus is A.L.I.V.E.: Lives changed.

Paul, who was asked to speak to the philosophers in Athens about his “strange ideas,” had been given the name Saul by his parents. When it came to religion, Saul took a backseat to no one! He was a purebred Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin (which gave Israel its very first king, who was also named Saul). Saul called himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” because he kept the Law of Moses and the strict rules of the Pharisees absolutely faultlessly.

When he heard about Jesus (who claimed to be God), and about the followers of Jesus who claimed He had been resurrected from the dead, Saul persecuted these Christians so vehemently that he not only had many of them thrown into prison, but he had many of them killed as well.

That all came to a complete stop when Saul met Jesus for himself! You can read how Saul retold this story in Acts 22:1-16. After this encounter, Saul’s life was 180-degrees different! He even changed his name to Paul to signify his new outlook. Now he was just as adamant to tell people about Jesus as he was previously to harass and persecute Christians.

Paul’s conversion came at a steep price. The Jews with whom he used to associate now turned violently against him. Numerous times they attempted to kill him. In addition, Paul’s newfound faith in Jesus caused him to be persecuted by the Romans as well. The Roman Emperors wanted people to say, “Caesar is lord” but Paul and the other Christians were declaring, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul ended up being executed under Emperor Nero.

Paul had numerous opportunities to recant, but he never came close to doing so. His life was one that was under constant duress and distress and danger preciously because he refused to back down from his claim that Jesus was alive!

Paul isn’t alone. Millions of people around the globe have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many, like Paul, have been harassed for their faith and some even violently persecuted and martyred, and yet they so firmly believed that Jesus is alive that they were willing to go to their early grave with “Jesus is my Lord” still on their lips!

What about you? Have you met Jesus for yourself?

Check out this video where my friend Scott tells his personal story of how an encounter with Jesus has completely changed the trajectory of his life.

Join me next Sunday as we continue with our 5-part series I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of… where we will be looking at the letter “I.” You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. If you missed the previous lesson, check out “A” is for apologetics by clicking here.

Book Reviews From 2014

12 Noteworthy Quotes From “There Is A God”

There Is A GodAs I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’ve been sharing a few of them over several posts. To wrap up this series, here are several other noteworthy quotes from this thought-provoking book.

“I would have liked to convince my father that I had found what he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had longed for all his life. I would have liked to persuade him that the search for God does not have to be in vain. But it was hopeless. He had known too many blind Christians, bleak moralists who sucked the joy from life and persuaded their opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth they were hiding.” —Katherine Tait, daughter of Bertrand Russell 

“Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached.” —Bertrand Russell

“In sum, to the Being who he considered to be the explanation of the world and its broad form, Aristotle ascribed the following attributes: immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence. There is an impressive correspondence between this set of attributes and those traditionally ascribed to God within the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is one that fully justifies us in viewing Aristotle as having had the same Divine Being in mind as the cause of the world that is the object of worship of these two religions.” —David Conway

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. … Religion and natural science are fighting the joint battle in an incessant, never relaxing crusade against skepticism and against dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition … and therefore ‘On to God!’” —Max Planck

“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.” —Paul A.M. Dirac 

“Reason tells me of the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into the futurity, as a result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of mine; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” —Charles Darwin

“Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview. … Even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us.” —Paul Davies, Templeton Prize winner 

“It is crazy to postulate a trillion (casually unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.” —Richard Swinburne

“The problem of how meaningful or semantic information can emerge spontaneously from a collection of mindless molecules subject to blind and purposeless forces percents a deep conceptual challenge.” —Paul Davies 

“One feature of life, though, remains certain: Life could not have evolved without a genetic mechanism—one able to store, replicate, and transmit to its progeny information that can change with time. … Precisely how the first genetic machinery involved also persists as an unresolved issue.” —Antonia Lazcano

“The world is rational. The order of the world reflects the order of the supreme mind governing it.” —Kurt Gödel

“The reality of rationality cannot be evaded with any appeal to natural selection. Natural selection presupposes the existence of physical entities that interact according to specific laws and of a code that manages the processes of life. And to talk of natural selection is to assume that there is some logic to what is happening in nature (adaptation) and that we are capable of understanding this logic.” —Roy Abraham Varghese

  • You can read some direct quotes from Anthony Flew by clicking here.
  • Some Albert Einstein quotes can be found by clicking here.
  • A fascinating mathematical explanation from Gerald Schroeder is found by clicking here.

A Mathematical Quote From Gerald Schroeder In “There Is A God”

There Is A GodAs I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’ve been sharing a few of them over several posts. To continue, here is an extensive quote from mathematician Gerald Schroeder, which is set up by a quote from Anthony Flew.

“Schroeder first referred to an experiment conducted by the British National Council of Arts. A computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys. After one month of hammering away at it (as well as using it as a bathroom!), The monkeys produced fifty typed pages—but not a single word. Schroeder noted that this was the case even though the shortest word in the English language is one letter (a or I). A is a word only if there is a space on either side of it. If we take it that the keyboard has thirty characters (the twenty-six letters and other symbols), then the likelihood of getting a one-letter word is 30 times 30 times 30, which is 27,000. The likelihood of getting a one-letter word is one chance out of 27,000. Schroeder then applied the probabilities to the sonnet analogy. ‘What’s the chance of getting a Shakespearean sonnet?’ he asked. He continued:

‘All the sonnets are the same length. They are by definition fourteen lines long. I picked the one I knew the opening line for, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” I counted the number of letters; there are 488 letters in that sonnet. What’s the likelihood of hammering away and getting 488 letters in the exact sequence as in “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” What you end up with is 26 multiplied by itself 488 times—or 26 to the 488th power. Or, in other words, in base 10, 10 to the 690th. 

‘Now the number of particles in the universe—not grains of sand, I am talking about protons, electrons, and neutrons—is 10 to the 80th. Ten to the 80th is one with 80 zeros after it. Ten to the 690 is one with 690 zeros after it. There are not enough particles in the universe to write down the trials; you’d be off by a factor of 10 to the 600th. 

‘If you took the entire universe and converted it to computer chips—forget the monkeys—each one weighing a millionth of a gram and had each computer chip able to spin out 488 trials at, say, one million times a second; if you turn the entire universe into these microcomputer chips and these chips were spinning a million times a second producing random letters, the number of trials you would get since the beginning of time would be 10 to the 90th trials. It would be off again by a factor of 10 to the 600th. You will never get a sonnet by chance. The universe would have to be 10 to the 600 times larger. Yet the world just thinks the monkeys can do it every time.’”

  • More quotes are forthcoming.
  • You can read some direct quotes from Anthony Flew by clicking here.
  • Some Albert Einstein quotes can be found by clicking here.

5 Quotes From Albert Einstein In “There Is A God”

There Is A GodAs I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’ve begun sharing some of them over several posts. To continue, below are some quotes from Albert Einstein.

“I am not a positivist. Positivism states that what cannot be observed does not exist. This conception is scientifically indefensible, for it is impossible to make valid affirmations of what people ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ observe. One would have to say ‘only what we observe exists,’ which is obviously false.” —Albert Einstein

“The man of science is a poor philosopher.” —Albert Einstein

“I want to know how God created this world. … I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” —Albert Einstein

“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” —Albert Einstein

“Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” —Albert Einstein

More quotes are forthcoming. You can read some direct quotes from Anthony Flew by clicking here.

5 Quotes From Anthony Flew In “There Is A God”

There Is A GodAs I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’m going to attempt to share some of them in multiple posts. To start with, below are some of the direct quotes from Anthony Flew.

“I have said in some of my later atheist writings that I reached the conclusion about the nonexistence of God much too quickly, much too easily, and for what later seemed to me the wrong reasons. I reconsidered this negative conclusion at length and often, but for nearly seventy years thereafter I never found the grounds sufficient to warrant any fundamental reversal. One of those early reasons for my conversion to atheism was the problem of evil.” 

“The presumption of atheism can be justified by the inescapable demand for grounds. To believe there is a God, we have to have good grounds for the belief. But if no such grounds are provided, there exists no sufficient reason for believing in God, and the only reasonable position is to be a negative atheist or an agnostic (by negative atheist, I meant ‘a-theist,’ parallel to such words as atypical and amoral). … This argument garnered many and varied responses. Writing as an agnostic, the English philosopher Anthony Kenny maintained that there may be a presumption for agnosticism, but not for positive or negative atheism. He suggested that it takes more effort to show that you know something than that you do not (this includes even the claim that the concept of God is not coherent). But he said this does not let agnostics off the hook; a candidate for an examination may be able to justify the claim that he or she does not know the answer to one of the questions, but this does not enable the person to pass the examination. … By far, the heaviest challenge to the argument came from America. The modal logician Alvin Plantinga introduced the idea that theism is a properly basic belief. He asserted that belief in God is similar to belief in other basic truths, such as belief in other minds or perception (seeing a tree) or memory (belief in the past). In all these instances, you trust your cognitive faculties, although you cannot prove the truth of the belief in question. Similarly, people take certain propositions (e.g., the existence of the world) as basic and others as derivative from these basic propositions. Believers, it is argued, take the existence of God as a basic proposition.”

“If there is an infinite series of books about geometry that owe their pattern to copying from earlier books, we still do not have an adequate answer as to why the book is the way it is (e.g., it is about geometry) or why there is a book at all. The entire series needs an explanation.” 

“Science qua science cannot furnish an argument for God’s existence. But the three items of evidence we have considered in this volume—the laws of nature, life with its teleological organization, and the existence of the universe—can only be explained in the light of an Intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world.”

“My discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.”

Check back soon for some additional quotes from this thought-provoking book.

There Is A God (book review)

There Is A GodIt’s a mark of a strong, confident person that can admit, “I was wrong. I made a mistake.” Anthony Flew is just such a strong man. His book is called There Is A God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind.

The one sentence summary of this book could be: Anthony Flew was a noted philosopher who concluded there was no God, but then was persuaded to rethink his position and came to a complete reversal. But that would sell his story short.

The real meat-and-potatoes of the book are the arguments which helped change Anthony Flew’s mind. This, I must warn you, is no easy reading. The arguments are so nuanced and metaphysical at times, that it really requires a careful reading. This was not a book I could speed read, because the chain of logic in the arguments was simply too good to miss anything.

I throughly appreciated the candor with which Flew shared his metamorphosis from atheist to Theist. The book also includes two appendices which address the current state of modern atheism, and an interview with N.T. Wright on Jesus being God Incarnate.

If you are ready to study some of the atheistic and theistic arguments that the brightest apologists for both viewpoints are presenting today, then this is the book for you! I thought the journey of discovery was fantastic and mind-expanding!

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