A Letter to Agnostic Agnes (Does God Exist?)

Dear Aunt Agnes,

 I was thrilled to hear that you decided to go back to college to finish your degree.  Congratulations!  That is a very admirable thing to do, especially in your 60s.  I hope uncle Bubba is doing well.  I heard about the accident with the pick-up, but I am glad to hear that he was recovering. 

 Grandpa told me that you took some science classes there at the university, and that the teacher was trying to convince everyone that God does not exist and that anyone who believes in God was ignorant.  Grandpa told me that you were not really sure what to think anymore about it.  Does God exist?  I tell you that He does, and I’ll tell you why I know it.

 First off, take a look at the watch that your sister got you for your birthday.  You see how nice it looks?  You know there are quite a few cogs, springs, and wires inside there that are wound and placed in the perfect place to make your watch work correctly.  Now, did that watch happen by an accident?  Did every small piece just happen to fall together somewhere and land perfectly in the shape of a perfectly functioning watch?  Of course not, that’s obvious.  If something shows obvious design, there must have been someone who designed it to work that way.  Not only that, but there must be somebody to put the thing together in order to make it work.  That’s just common sense, right?

 Now, look at the world around you.  Isn’t it interesting that humans can breathe the air on this planet easily?  Is it not also interesting that the air we breathe out is carbon dioxide, the exact thing that plants “breathe in” to survive?  Look also at the human DNA.  I know you went over the DNA in your science class.  They call it “the human blueprint.”  A blueprint is a design, is it not?  Even your science books admit to that design.  Look at the solar system.  Do you realize that if the earth’s tilt were just a little different, we would freeze to death?  The earth’s rotation is just the right speed, too.  If it were much faster, we would be thrown into the air.  If it were much slower, the gravity would hold us so much that we could hardly move.  Everything in us as humans, on the earth, and in the solar system is designed perfectly for us as humans.  If it is designed perfectly (which it is), who designed it?  A watch cannot happen by accident.  The universe is far more complex, and your teacher expects us to believe that it was an accident?  No, since there is design, there must have been someone who designed it, and that someone is God.

 Another thing to consider is this: if evolution is really the answer to how we got here, how do they explain the morals of humans?  Anywhere you go, in every civilization throughout history, there has been a moral code of some sort.  While there are shades of differences in some of them, some remain the same.  Where has it ever been looked upon as right to murder someone who was completely innocent?  When has kidnapping been viewed as a noble thing?  What about thievery?  There are some things that are wrong, and everyone knows it.

 But let us look at it from another angle.  Suppose a bull gores and kills a man.  This man was completely innocent and did not deserve death.  Do we then take the bull and arrest it, putting it on trial?  Of course not!  That is ridiculous!  Bulls do not have the sense of morals that humans do.  But if a man kills another, it is a different story, right?  If evolution were true, then there would be other animals that have the same moral code within themselves as we do.  This moral code within us is something that we are born with.  When your great-nephew Matthew got cut in front of in line last month, didn’t he tell the other kid cutting was wrong?  How does Matthew know that it was wrong?  If evolution is true, then there is no real right or wrong, but only what someone thinks is good for them.  That Matthew knew it was wrong shows that he has a sense of morals (and we know it didn’t come from his parents).  The fact that humans, and only humans, have morals within themselves shows that it had to come from some place.  If it were evolution, other animals would have it.  Morals have no scientific basis.  Science can not find a “moral gene” or some muscle in your body that controls morals.  It doesn’t exist.  The place it comes from is God!  That is the only explanation for the existence of our morals.

 Another thing you might think about is this: there is a law in science that everything is the result of something else.  Basically, nothing can exist, work, or move without something creating it or moving it.  There is no perpetual motion, because eventually everything slows down and stops working.  Your watch is a good example of this.  It will not work on its own without you winding it, right?  Everything that moves or works has to have someone start it.  What about the planets?  What about the universe?  Since there is no such thing as perpetual motion, the planets had to have been started by something.

 I know that your science teacher probably said that everything started with the “big bang,” right?  But let’s look at the other part of the law I just mentioned.  Nothing can exist without someone making it.  If you start with nothing, you end up with nothing.  You can’t just sit and wait and expect a pizza to show up on your table without someone making it and putting it there, right?  Since matter (stuff) and energy eventually run down, they had to have been created and put into motion at some point.  The big bang is a fun explanation for how everything began if you ignore the fact that there had to have been something to make the “big bang.”  Where did that something come from?  Science, then, is back in the same mess they had before trying to explain where everything came from.  Simply, God made everything and put it into motion.

 Something else to consider is this little experiment.  Imagine the most horrifying, scary monster possible.  Think of all the horrible features you could give it, both in looks and in powers and attitude.  Now, what did you think of in that monster that you had not either read about, seen, or heard before?  Everything we can think of is based on something that we have experienced or sensed before, right?  I know in your philosophy class, they told you that there is no such thing as a new or truly original thought.  They are correct.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot think of anything new beyond that which you have sensed or experienced.

 What does that mean?  Have you noticed that all cultures and civilizations all have worship to a higher being?  The Indians have the “great spirit,” the Muslims have “Allah,” the Greeks and Romans had a large group of mythological gods.  There is an inner desire to find God.  Have you ever wondered why so many people are looking for their purpose in life?  If we came from evolution, there is no purpose in life.  But isn’t just about everyone yearning to find a purpose?  Something beyond themselves?

 Putting the two of those together, how could anyone, let alone all the cultures on earth, have a concept of a higher being beyond themselves if one did not exist?  Remember, man is only capable of imagining that which they have sensed or experienced.  Since man has a conception of the idea of God, the only explanation is that somewhere along the line, God interacted with man.  Since man has a concept of God, God must exist.

 If your science teacher is anything like the teacher I had at John A. Logan College a decade ago, he likely used pain and suffering as his “ace in the hole” against God existing.  The thing is, that does not really prove anything.  The teacher liked to say “if God is all-loving, why does evil exist?”  Let me ask you a question, Agnes.  Do you love your son Junior?  I know you do.  That is why you let him make his own decisions (although I still think you should kick him out of the house; he is 35 now).  God is the same way.  He loves us all, and because of that, He lets us make our own decisions.  People can choose to murder, rob banks, kidnap, drive drunk, and all other kinds of things.  But when they do, does that show God as uncaring?  No!  If Junior robbed a bank, does that show that you don’t love him?  Of course not!  Evil exists because of choices that people make to do those things that are evil.

 What about the innocent people who are hurt?  They didn’t do anything wrong, right?  How can we say God cares when innocent people get hurt all the time?  It is a fact that the choices we make affect us and other people as well.  You can’t say that it not true.  If you and the rest of the ladies up there stopped going to McDonald’s every morning, they might go out of business.  Something that you do can affect other people.  It can have good effects (like when you helped that homeless man get some food) or it can have bad effects (like when someone chooses to drive drunk and kills someone).  It is all because of choices that we make.  If someone chooses to do something wrong, evil exists, and innocent people might get hurt because of it.

 I know that it breaks your heart when a baby is born with some kind of problem.  Was it the baby’s fault that it had the problem?  Of course not.  But, you have seen parents who smoke and drink while the baby is growing in the womb.  Those things do affect the baby.  Also, there may be things that one of our ancestors did that caused there to be a problem with us.  Sometimes, it takes multiple generations for these things to manifest themselves, and we never know exactly where they come from.  But it all comes down to people and the choices they make.

 Agnes, I know you are busy with finals coming up, so I’ll go ahead and end this letter here.  I hope I have given you some things to think about.  Let me know what I can do to help in the future.  Give uncle Bubba my regards.  Tell Junior to get back to work. 

 Bye,

 Brad

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Books for Sale

This will not be a regular occurrence, but we are trying to raise money to go to Roundhouse, an annual home-school conference for members of the church of Christ.  Below is a list of many different books that I’ve decided to part with from my personal library.  If you are interested in any of them, email at Bradley.Cobb2@verizon.net

Note: * means written by a member of the church of Christ

Commentaries:

*A Study of the Gospel According to John (James Meadows) – PB, 82 pages, includes various handouts in addition to the book. – $2.50

Exodus (Bible Book Study Commentary, Bill R. Ausha) PB, 132 pages – $2.00

*Lessons From Exodus (Gary Henson) 8 ½ x 11, spiral bound, 42 pages – $3.00

Genesis: Collegeville Bible Commentary (P. Viviano) – PB, 136 pages – $1.50

Daniel and Revelation (Experiencing the Word Commentary) – PB, 96 pages – $.50

Galatians and Ephesians (Experiencing the Word Commentary) – PB, 96 pages – $.50

The Epistle to the Romans (C.K. Burnett) HB 278 pages – $4.00

The Epistle to the Galatians (James D.G. Dunn) HB, 375 pages – $4.00

Acts, part 2 [13-28] (Bible Book Study Commentary, Edmon Rowell, Jr) PB, 131 pages – $2.50

Acts of the Apostles [Journey Through the Bible] (Justo Gonzalez) PB, 112 pages – $2.00

International Sunday School Lessons, 1966 (Frank S. Mead) HB/DJ 384 pages – $3.50

Beware the Pretenders [Jude] (John MacArthur, Jr) PB, 111 pages – $2.50

*Comments on the Revelation (W.S. Thompson) HB, 258 pages – $4.00

 

Bibles and books on Bible versions:

MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV).  Burgundy bonded leather, minimal underlining, has name “Cassandra” in gold lettering on cover.  Some edge wear – $4.00

Bible Versions: Which is the REAL Word of God? (David B Loughran) PB, 49 pages – $2.00

 

Apologetics:

The Case for Easter: evidence for the resurrection (Lee Strobel) – PB, 95 pages – $.75

The Case for Christmas: the identity of the child in the manger (Lee Strobel) – PB, 96 pages – $.75

More than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell) – PB, 128 pages – some highlighting and underlining – $.75

*Reason and Revelation – 183 issues (includes every issue from 1984-1991, 2007-2008, and many others through 2010. – $20.00 for all.

*Reason and Revelation – 30 issues (from 1993-2009) – $4.00 for all

*Evolution or Creation? (Basil Overton) PB, 68 pages – $2.00

Men of Science, Men of God: Great Scientists who Believed the Bible (Henry Morris) – PB, 107 pages – $1.25

Breaking the Ice Age Myth (Beata Smith) – PB, 170 pages – $2.00

The Battle for Truth: Defending the Christian Worldview in the Marketplace of Ideas (David Noebel) – PB 384 pgs – $2.75

Refuting Compromise: Biblical and Scientific Refutation of Progressive Creationism (Billions of Years) (Jonathan Sarfati) PB, 411 pages – $4.00

*Short Essays in Biblical Criticism (J. W. McGarvey) HB, 479 pages – $5.00

The Revised and Expanded Answer Book: 20 Most-Asked Questions About Creation, Evolution, and the Book of Genesis Answered! (Edited by Don Batten, Ken Ham and others) HB, 274 pages – $3.00

 

Books about Jesus:

The Advent of the Savior (Stephen Binz) – PB, 69 pages – $.75

Jesus Christ: Miracles (John P. Gilbert) – PB, 64 pages – $.75

Jesus Christ: Holy Week and Crucifixion (Thomas Langford) – PB, 64 pages – $.75

Parables of Jesus: Glimpses of the New Age (Neal Fisher) – PB, 147 pages (Methodist book).  Glue on spine drying, some pages loose – $.50

The Trial of Christ: a Criminal Lawyer Defends Jesus (Dee Wampler) PB, 52 pages – $1.50

 

Hermeneutics:

*Principles of Interpretation (Clinton Lockhart) HB, 260 pages – $4.00

Elements of Logic [also called “Hedge’s Rules of Logic”] (Levi Hedge) PB, 178 pages – $2.00

 

Books on Denominations and Cults:

Book of Mormon – $.25

Truth Restored: a Short History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Hinkley) – PB, 156 pages – $1.50

Facts, Frauds, and Phantasms: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement (Georgess McHargue) HB, 150 pages – $.90.

The Trail of Blood… “A History of the Baptist Churches from Christ…to the Present Day” (1931) PB, 56 pages – $1.75

Handbook of Today’s Religions, including cults and world religions (Joshua McDowell) HB, 567 pages – $5.00

What Does the Bible REALLY Teach? (Jehovah’s Witness handbook) PB, 224 pages – $1.00

 

Dictionaries and Concordances:

Cruden’s Compact Concordance – HB, 563 pages – $2.50

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon – HB – $4.00

The Analytical Greek Lexicon – HB – $4.00

 

church of Christ Periodicals:

*The Debater (vol 1, No. 3, Nov/Dec 1959) with part 2 of the Dew-Wilhite debate on the impossibility of apostasy.  20 pages, $1.00

*The Best of 20 Years (compilation of articles from 20th Century Christian, published on their 20th anniversary).  HB, 196 pages (cover is solid because it has been taped well, some spots on bottom of pages) – $2.00

 

Instrumental Music:

*Scripture Studies Volume IV: Three Defenses of Instrumental Music in Worship Answered (S.H. Hall) HB, 160 pages – $5.00

 

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage:

*Bales’ Position Explained and Denied (Jerry Moffitt) PB, 161 pages – $4.00

*James Bales-Roy Deaver Debate on Alien Sinners and the Covenant – HB, 496 pages – $6.00

 

Apocryphal and “Lost” books, and related material:

Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Bart D. Ehrman) HB/DJ, 274 pages – $5.00

Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King) HB, 198 pages – like new $2.00

 

Other church of Christ books:

*3rd Annual Shenandoah Lectureship: Embattled Christianity, A Call to Alarm the Church to Humanism (edited by Terry Hightower) – HB, 394 pages – $10.00

*Basic Bible Doctrine: Book 2 (Robert Harkrider) – PB, 64 pages (non-institutional material) – $.75 (six copies available)

Great Songs of the Church: Number 2 (Standard Publishing Songbook, 1937) – HB, 603 songs – $3.50

*Half-Year of Church Studies (Lewis Hale) PB, 28 pages – $1.00

*The New Testament Church (L.R. Wilson) PB, 74 pages – $1.50

*Conquering You Giants (Nancy Eichman) PB, 156 pages – $2.00

*Bigger Men for Better Churches [book on elders] (Cleon Lyles) HB/DJ, 118 pages – $3.50 (two copies available)

*Johnny Ramsey – Otis Hill Debate on Baptism and Apostasy – PB, 93 pages – $3.00

*1984 Firm Foundation Lectures (including Wayne Jackson, William Cline, Perry Cotham, Thomas Warren, Gary Workman, Johnny Ramsey, Garland Elkins, Dub McLish, Mac Deaver, Robert Taylor Jr, George DeHoff, and others) HB, 383 pages – $5.00

*Christ, We Do All Adore Thee [A study guide to the Gospel of John] (Fred House) PB, 89 pages – $1.50

*Life With a Purpose (J. Noel Merideth) HB, 111 pages – $2.00

*Restoration, Reformation, or Revelation? (James D. Bales) HB, 328 pages – $4.00

 

Afterlife:

The Life Beyond: An Interpretation of New Testament Teachings on Death, Resurrection, the Second Coming, and Eternal Destiny (Ray Summers) HB/DJ – 233 pages – $4.00

 

Other Religious Books:

New Testament Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecies (Abram Kenneth Abraham) PB, 234 pages – $2.25

The Holy City [the history of Jerusalem] (Dr. James Johnson) PB, 136 pages, lots of b/w maps and photos – $4.00

As a Man Thinketh (James Allen) HB, 64 pages – $1.50

Preaching from the Prophets (Kyle Yates) HB/DJ, 225 pages – $4.00

An Outline of the Old Testament – PB, 174 pages – $2.25

A Closer Walk with God: Prayer as a Way of Life (selected writings from Spurgeon, Moody, Sunday, Torrey, and others) PB, 80 pages – $1.25

Tough and Tender: What Every Woman Wants in a Man (Joyce Landorf) PB, 157 pages – $1.00

Learning of God: Readings from Amy Carmichael – PB, 135 pages – $.75

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life for Today (Hannah Whitall Smith) – HB/DJ, 223 pages – $.75

The Bible Promise Book (selected Scriptures on various topics) – PB, 172 pages – $.75

The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) – PB, 316 pages (this man was executed in Nazi Germany) – $1.50

God’s Medicine Cabinet: the Complete Healing Scripture Manual For All Ailments (Michael Fugett) – PB, 192 pages – $1.00

Eucharist (Stephen Binz) – PB, 129 pages – $.75

Life Sentence (Charles W. Colson) – HB/DJ, 306 pages – $1.00

The Greatest Story Ever Told: a Reverent and Faithful re-telling of the story of Jesus with powerful Simplicity (Fulton Oursler) – HB/DJ, 299 pages – $1.75

The Greatest Faith Ever Known: a Reverent Retelling of the Apostles in the early days of Christianity (Fulton Oursler) – HB/DJ, 383 pages – $1.75

America in the Kingdom Parables (C.O. Stadsklev) – PB, 91 pages – $.40

The Fraudulent Gospel:  Politics and the World Council of Churches (Bernard Smith) – PB, 96 pages – $.30

Writing from A to Z (writing handbook), 500 pages, pb, spiral-bound – $2.00

Why Do the Heathen Rage? (anonymous) PB, 400 pages of articles appearing in newspapers from 1962-1981 – $1.75.