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Crafting My Response To An Atheist | ITC5

Crafting My Response To An Atheist | ITC5

Welcome to Episode 5 of the In the City Podcast with Dr. Jonathan G. Smith. In this episode, Jonathan discusses the differences between Christianity and Atheism. He asks an important question, “if there is no god, then how does one account for beauty?”

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This Episode’s Topic: Confronting Atheist

A few days ago I had a conversation with an atheist that challenged my faith. He is a smart guy who obviously has thought through the tenets of his “beliefs,” but I was amazed by one particular point. He fully embraced moralistic relativism, meaning he would not condemn the murder of children.

What You’ll Discover

Recognizing the ultimate emptiness of atheism, Dr. Jonathan raises this question. How do you account for the beauty of the tabebuia tree? Each Spring, this tree produces beautiful and vibrant blossoms transforming the landscape into a beautiful garden.

Because these trees are so beautiful, how does humanity account for this beauty? This question is a philosophical and theological question. Atheist fail to provide any real explanation of beauty other than naturalistic explanations — development by natural selection. For example, the tree’s blossoms help pollinate and spread its seeds.  But what can be said about the tabebuia’s beauty? Can anything be said about the beauty inherent to the tree itself?

The clash between theism and atheism can be traced back for centuries, even finding expression in the ancient Greek world. This argument is best illustrated by the conflict between Plato and Aristophanes. Because Plato doubted the existence of the Greek pantheon of gods, Aristophanes accused him of atheism and “corrupting the minds of the youth.”

Philosophers and poets repeatedly clashed on this point.

Centuries later, however, William of Ockham argued that the simplest answer was often the correct choice. When evaluating beauty, which is easier to explain to a child? The beauty of the tabebuia tree is a chance of nature, process of natural selection? Or is it simpler to explain to a child that God created this beauty to point to his majesty? The first is purely a scientific explanation. The second is a theological explanation.

In conclusion, the Christian can provide a better explanation over an atheist because he/she can point to a divine reason for the tree’s existence.

Read the Notes

Show Notes: The Tabebuia Tree | Easter Sermon 2016

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What other possibilities are there to explain the beauty of the tabebuia tree?

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About The Author

Jonathan G. Smith

The Rev'd Dr. Jonathan G. Smith is the Senior Minister of Redeemer Church in Orlando, Founder of Grace Nation, and owner of Higher Purpose Coaching. His passion is to see people transformed by the Gospel, the liberating power of Jesus Christ.

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