The Table Podcast
Glenn R. KreiderGlenn R. KreiderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock

Responding to the New Atheism

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock and Dr. Glenn Kreider discuss the New Atheism, focusing on how to respond to atheist objections to God and the Bible.

Timecodes
00:36
How the New Atheism argues against religion
05:45
How to respond to atheist objections
11:04
Engaging the problem of evil
14:47
Moral implications of the existence of evil
21:12
Does religion poison everything?
34:53
What about people who misuse the Bible?
41:37
Does science contradict the Bible?
43:35
What about when our expectations of God go unfulfilled?
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table. We discuss issues of God and culture. I'm Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic today is "Part 2 of the New Atheism." And my guest is Dr. Glenn Kreider, who teaches in Systematic Theology here at the Seminary.

Glenn, thank you for being a part of this again.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Thank you.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And this is a Part 2, which is a little bit unusual, but we spent Part 1 really working through the positions of New Atheism and getting that laid out, and also trying to lay groundwork for how significant this discussion is, and really the elements of it that need to be dealt with seriously and sincerely.

And so, this show is going to kind of deal with the responses to the various positions that have made its way into the public square. So, Glenn, I think what we want to do first is to just review the five areas that we were dealing with that we say – arguments that New Atheists put forward that seem to resonate in the public, and then we'll work through the responses. So, what are the big five from the big four?
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, I've tried hard to think through, having read the literature and have watched videos, tried to summarize in a very simply way what I think the five major issues are. Number one, and this is by far most important, as it always is in theological discussions, the problem of evil. And particularly the problem of evil in a post-9/11 world, the problem of evil and the fear that evil brings.

Second is the problem of religions. And it's not simply a matter of – although it is this – a matter of religious conflict without history – throughout history. But the elephant in every room is the problem of pluralism. And how do we discern truth claims of various religions? The old claim that, "All religions are true; they all lead to the same place," is easily disproven.

And now, the question becomes, "Which of these various truth claims is the right one; which one is to be followed," and that maybe the best response is no religion at all. And I think that's part of what leads to a growing percentage of the population unwilling to affirm any religion.

Third is the problem of the Bible. And by "problem," I mean the way the Bible has been read and how critics respond to two major issues: the presentation of God in Scriptures as – and the emphasis on things like the Flood and genocide, that God appears to be harsh and cruel and vindictive.

But at the same time, the way the Bible has been read and the Bible has been used by various fringe groups to defend all kinds of things, and maybe even, to some extent, by mainstream Christianity – the Bible – to defend slavery in the past and –
Dr. Darrell Bock
The way the Bible's kind of abused in some ways.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
The Bible's been abused – misread, misused. That's a good point. There's the problem of science. Not all scientists are atheists, and not all atheists are scientists. But there is an amazingly optimistic view of the power of science and technology to solve all of our problems, that increasingly the argument by militant atheists, who are scientists, is that the God of the gaps is no longer necessary, 'cause science can explain everything. Even to the point of Lawrence Kasom's argument that science – his hypothesis, after scientific evidence, that the universe came out of nothing, and it's a whole new – a whole new optimism – and I'm looking for a better word – the idolatry of scientism.

And then there's the problem of unfulfilled expectations. That there are a lot of people who have – this is part of the growing nones – N-O-N-E-S – of people who have been disillusioned by Christianity to recognize that – whose testimony is, "I hear that God is a God who answers prayer. I pray, and nothing happens. A God who delivers people from harm, and I wasn’t delivered from harm. A God who protects his children, and I wasn’t protected."

And that sometimes that's rooted – and I suspect we'll talk more about that – but sometimes that's rooted in a misunderstanding, a faulty teaching about God and the way he works, and sometimes it's back to full circle, back to the problem of evil and that, "How do people of faith, and particularly Christian faith, respond to the horrific prevalence of evil in the world?"
Dr. Darrell Bock
So, in thinking about how to respond to these, there really are kind of two levels, it seems to me, of response. One's that kind of the engagement of the content of the claims. And then, the second level is also the way in which that content and that response is presented, the tone that comes with it.

So, you've got content and tone. And we talked a little bit, at the end of the last show, about tone. But I think it might be good, before we deal with the content levels of the response to standpoint and talk a little bit how you even walk into this space, and what kind of tone is important to bring to it, and why that's an important part of the equation.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, there's a stereotype, and most stereotypes have some roots in actuality. There's a stereotype of a Christian – of Christian apologetics and Christians' engagement with culture that we have a lot of – we have all the answers, and that our response is often to very quickly condemn the question to – and to provide a simple and simplistic answer to a complex question.

I think what we're talking about here are several difficult and multifaceted, complex issues, and that there is, secondly, a great deal of diversity in the way those convictions are held and the way they are expressed that lead us to –

And then I think, third, there is the relativistic worldview, the pluralistic worldview that often dismisses truth claims by, "Well, that's your view. It works for you and not for me," so that in the midst of that, it seems to me that listening and hearing and understanding is the first and most important thing. To understand, to the degree that we can, the context for and the content of the objection and the claim. That oftentimes, most times even, these are not theoretical and ivory tower objections that people have to Christianity. They are rooted in experiences.

And people, sometimes they're not even aware of the degree to which those experiences are formative and informative, but it's stunning to engage with somebody and to interact and then later in the conversation to learn the kind of abuse or the kind of evil that has been behind this. That really, the degree to which we are able to spend the time listening and understanding – empathy, compassion, sympathy, those Christian virtues – to speak the truth in love, as simplistic as that sounds, to do that really well. Truth and love.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And when we talk about empathy and compassion, that kind of thing, we're not equating that with necessarily agreement. But what we're saying is you're moving towards and understanding of why the person is coming from where they're coming from. You said the content and the context. The context is very important.

I mean a simple illustration, but I have a grandmother, on my wife's side, now passed away, who had a very low tolerance for Christianity, because she had a father who claimed to be a Christian, attended church, did all the Christian things. But in terms of the way he treated his wife and his daughter, awful. And so, basically, underneath her view was, "If that's how Christians treat people, I don't want anything to do with it."
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Common story.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yep.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Common story.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
And so – and that's an important part of the equation to be aware of. Part of listening is, I think, listening for that kind of context that then colors why a person moves in the direction that they move in. Another common one, it seems to me, is if someone's had very little or no exposure to the Church, what they think about the Church is basically what they've absorbed as a sponge in the culture.

And if that happens, then why should you be surprised they don't understand the Christian faith, or that they have this or that view when it's popularly what's circulating about Christianity in the public square, those kinds of things.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
And these are not – the response to those kind of objections can't be merely an intellectual one, as if that's even possible. But to honor the experience and to the degree we can understand – and at the same time, when we have, as your story – when we have our own stories that provide common ground, that provide a means by which we can interact and –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I can respond; I can get that. I understand how people react that way. I have people I know we've reacted that way. People who I care about. People who I love.

So, okay. Well, now, let's turn our attention to these, and let's deal with the easiest one first, which is surely the problem of evil – you know, something that every person who has lived – who lives in a fallen world deals with on a regular basis. So, what ways into this discussion would you commend?
Dr. Glenn Kreider
I think first and foremost we must acknowledge the reality of evil. Christians don't explicitly deny or remove that insight from the conversation. But sometimes implicitly, we do, and we jump to quickly to – what is usually the case – what is always the case, that God is acting in the midst of – and that, what I started to say, usually that God often brings good, and there's light shining in the middle of the darkness.

But sometimes, to jump too quickly, to finding good in bad, to find light in darkness means that we minimize and really dismiss the horror of evil. Because evil is real, and it's – it is horrific, and it's unexplainable. And, in a real sense, it is unexplainable and beyond our ability to understand.

The other boundary marker that must be part of our response is we must never attribute the cause of evil to God, and that there are prominent Christian leaders who have crossed that line recently, and out of a view of God's sovereignty that says, "If God is sovereign, then God must be the cause of everything that happens."

What we have to affirm is God's goodness, and that God is sovereign means that evil happens as part of his sovereign plan. That he knows that evil is happening; that he is not unaware; that he has the power to stop it. But for reasons known only to God, he often doesn't. But we don't put the gun in God's hand and put his finger on the trigger. We hold the human responsible for the evil that was – that existed.

And then that leads me also to say – then there's the whole other fallen world, natural disasters, which are, from our perspective, are a result of the world having been cursed, and the world is in rebellion against her Creator. But again, that God's not – God doesn't normatively send hurricanes and floods, etcetera.

Now might he? Yes. He has done those kind of things in the biblical story, but unless we have some information from God, some secret word from God –
Dr. Darrell Bock
A Western Union telegram.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
– we ought to be careful.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
I think John Calvin is absolutely right, that because God is sovereign, we can know that everything that happens is part of God's plan. But as to why God allows evil to exist, we ought to shut up.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Now, it seems to me that there are other elements, beyond the ones that you mentioned, some of which might go something like this: first of all, to even talk about the concept of evil, and to engage in the concept of evil suggests a presence of a morality and a design in the creation and in the midst of our lives that even allows us to have the conversation, which is an important point.

Because if there is no God, and if we just simply coexist, etcetera, then evil exists, but there's no ground for it. There's even no ground for, in some ways, for discussing how it operates as one element of the equation.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, and in recent years, there has been a response from the New Atheists, particularly from the Four Horsemen, as we talked earlier, that Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris have actually – and Dennett, particularly – have argued that one doesn't need to be a theist to have a basis of morality. And the argument from this, "We all know that certain things are wrong." So, then we're right back to, "How do you know?"

But the appeal to survival, the appeal to life, the appeal to an evolutionary progress is an attempt to respond to the apologetic you just provided. And I don't want to be completely dismissive and simply dismissive of that argument. But eventually we have to come back to it, and I think the way to address it is not through the real extreme cases – those are obvious – but to get into the real nitty-gritty and nuts and bolts of, "What does this look like in the way we live our lives? And how would we – how would we argue that it's – that this is the right thing or the wrong thing to do in this situation."

Maybe this is a matter of personal taste. So, for example, the easy case is that almost nobody would defend the brutalization of children, which is why there's this worldwide horror at the extremes of what ISIS is doing with children, or with animals. I haven't watched any of those videos; I don't need to see that.

By accident, a video popped up and started to run on Facebook, where a warrior cut the head off a dog as the dog – I'm still – that's a horrifying – 'cause I think there is something deep inside of us that recognizes that this is just wrong.
Dr. Darrell Bock
_____ of the image of God.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
That's exactly right. There is – which is – which is a fact and a reality. And it provides, I think, a means for a discussion about the problem of evil and how then to – how then to address those questions.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I think another element of this conversation – a part of the conversation is the idea that what an evil world does is affirms two things simultaneously that are important: that our choices do have consequences, and moral consequences, and that there is an accountability built into the world, in the design of the world, that is to be taken seriously. That we are not Gods. And so –
Dr. Glenn Kreider
We don't have control.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. So, all these elements are kind of interacting with each other. It doesn't provide an answer that takes you through the forest, if I can say it that way, but it puts you on a road in which you recognize that the forest may not be designed as some are claiming. And that, I think, is an important thing to realize is you have what is a very complex discussion.

Most pastors who find themselves in the midst of ministering pastorally, in the midst of tragedy, when the mother asks, "Why did this happen to us," are quite honest and say, "That's a question I can't answer."
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Many times the right answer is, "I don't know." But this answer also has to always be part of the conversation, that a world that looks like it's out of control is not outside of the control of a good God who is at work in it, doing things, many times of which we are unaware, but that he actually has a plan and will one day will one day make things right.

And it brings us right back to the heart of the Gospel story, that the Creator of the universe cares for this world. He loves this world, and he loves it to the extent that he has taken upon himself, in Jesus of Nazareth, all the effects of sin, death, and Hell, and has conquered them through the resurrection of the dead and provides, through that, the hope that we, too, will be resurrected, and all will have been made new.

And the problem of – I think it's easy for us to get stuck in trying to provide answers to questions we really can't answer, and that that conversation needs to be taken to the place where we proclaim and encourage people to believe in the hope of the Gospel.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Because the hope of the Gospel is the ultimate statement against evil, and the vindication of the righteous, and the establishment of justice, and the movement towards peace and reconciliation, the very things that undercut righteousness and undercut our – reflect our mortality as well, at the same time, which is important to remember.

Well, obviously, we could keep talking about this one, and we have four more to go, and we're almost to the end of the first segment. So, why don't you state the second issue, and we'll just set it up to come back to?
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, the second one I've identified is the problem of religion. And the two issues are religious conflict throughout history and the rise of pluralism and the exclusive claims of various religions. So, who's right? And to make it even more challenging for Christians and for our response is the multiplicity of denominations and claims within Christianity.

So, the pretty standard objection is if Christianity is true, then why do Christians not agree with one another? Why is there such diversity among Christians, and why is there such diversity among Christians, and why is there the degree of inflammatory rhetoric and criticism of other Christians as well? That maybe you ought to be able to get along with one another if you want me to be part of you.

I can have people criticize me anytime. I don't have to go to church to hear that kind of thing.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We've discussed and introduced how to interact with the problem of evil, and now we've turned to the issue of pluralism and the many religions that exist in our world, and the variety of ways in which those – that issue is brought forward. Just the sheer variety of religion at one level, just the – all the choices that are there.

A second, perhaps more subtle one is the way in which religion has acted and functioned I the world, the association with religion with violence. In particular is another element of this. And then a third part of it is – so, I guess we got a trinity on how religion is an issue here – has to do with the claim that Christianity makes that it's true. But then the variety within Christianity and the way Christians interact with each other in the midst of that.

So, this is a little too neat and clean, 'cause this all gets mixed together. But let's go through those one at a time let's start first with just the variety of religions that we're dealing with and how to think about that.

You've already made the statement that they can't all be simultaneously true. There's no way that can work. So, where do you go from there?
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, I think the point you made is a very important one. Pluralism has always existed. If you read through – if you read the book of Acts, Acts 17 looks like a really postmodern world. Pluralism is – what is new is the exposure to the – both the – both because of the media, because we do know what's going on around the world, but also as these religions in America, as people of various religions move into neighborhoods, and there is this exposure.

I think a significant factor there has been the approach, whether explicitly, or implicitly, that has argued Christianity is right, and every other religion is wrong. That we have everything about Christianity and everything Christians say is true, and everything about other religions is false. It's John Hick's testimony, and it's very similar to mind, having been taught that people who are not Christians eat their babies, and they're evil people all the time. This is just crazy.

When you actually meet – and again, this was his testimony – to meet people of other religions and to observe they're not more or less moral than Christians are, that Christianity had been equated with morality.

The other factor that I think is important is the value of postmodernism, that there is religion – that there's truth found in a variety of religions. And it's not it's all right and all wrong, but there's a mixture of truth and error, a mixture of good and bad in the practice of every religion.

And I think it's important for Christians to acknowledge that we have been – we, corporately, have sometimes been on the side – on the wrong side – we've been on the side of oppression and – I mean it's true that our treatment of Native Americans and slavery is not a shining light in our history.

But it's not just a corporate historical – I tell people all the time, in teaching, that it's easy for me to perform for 50 minutes, for an hour and 15 minutes. You wouldn't like me very much if you spent time with me all the time. That they're – that we're all sinners, that we are all flawed.

And to address the claims of other religions, from a posture of humility and compassion, it seems to me is an appropriate and helpful one, but to address the claims of exclusivity and to point out to people that this exclusive claim and that exclusive claim can't both be true, and that a choice is necessary. Either Jesus is the only way, or he's not; there really is no other possibility, no other option.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, so, part of this has to do with sorting through a variety of things. One is the acknowledgement – you know, Judaism has some interesting values. We started off by saying pluralism's always been with us. Judaism and the earliest church existed in the midst of a Roman – Greco-Roman world full of a plethora of gods and a plethora of religious options.

I like to tell people the ancient world was very religious. They had 150 holidays – religious holidays every year. And then I make a joke about, "We ought to adopt that calendar; that would be nice." And so, religion, in this sense of the other, is with people no matter what faith they have.

So, part of engagement, it seems to me – this is actually the lesson of Acts 17 – is touching on that instinct that people have built into them, because they're made in the image of God, that there is something else out there, and that there is something that should make sense out of the lives that we have, that has a purpose and a direction, which most people, I think, instinctively sense and have to suppress.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, and to come back over and over again, I think Acts 17 is Paul's exposition of his argument in Romans 1, that God actually has revealed himself, his eternal power and divine nature, plainly, clearly. It's known and understood by everyone.

And that when – in response to these other religions, Paul, without ever using the Bible, instead engaging the culture by quoting pagan poets –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
– can tell the story of redemption, the Creator who is – doesn't live in temples built by human hands, but has sent his Son – I mean it's the story of the Bible; it's the Mina narrative, that we have to keep coming back to over and over and over again. And I think it also – in these conversations, it's helpful to point out that that story actually is told in other religions; it's told without the significance of Christ, of course, but the reason why it's told in every religion is because I think God has planted it deeply inside of us and in the world that he has created.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So, there are instincts towards the spiritual that exists all around us, but the probably, on the other side, is how that's all put together in these various religions, and being aware that a lot of people don't even realize – they may hear that Christian makes an exclusive claim, but they don't hear the exclusive claim in the exclusive claim. You know?
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Why is it that there has to be a Christ? How is he different than every other human being that's walked the Earth? Those kinds of elements to the story. People who are people of faith, people who are Christians need to understand what makes Christianity's claim to exclusivism exclusive and how that works. That's certainly a part of the question.

Well, that's one facet. Obviously we're not gonna exhaustively deal with all these. But the second one is the idea of the association with religion with violence. And this is one that, in my mind, in many ways, you simply have to own up to, to some degree. That there are things that have been done in the past, in the name of religion, that don't reflect the best of what religious faith is supposed to be about.

It reminds me of something else, in combining it with the previous idea that there are instincts in people, is that I will meet people of other faiths who can be perfectly good and generous and compassionate hosts.

I remember our trip to Turkey, where – oh, when I first said to Sally, "On this sabbatical we're going to go to Turkey," and she says, "You're going to Turkey." And her reason was particularly she didn't have any interest in diving into the middle of a predominantly Islamic culture.

Well, in fact, we made the trip, and she went. We were wonderfully hosted by many people. And a fascinating conversation. If you talk to her today, she'll say it's one of the most enlightening, eye-opening trips I've ever taken in my life. And what she was meeting were people who reflected, if I can say it this way, the best of this other faith. And in the midst of that, recognized there are ways to interact and relate that are potentially very healthy that comes out of that context.

So, I put that all together to say that on the one hand we have to own up to the places where we have not lived up to the standards that we have set religiously, and on the other hand, I think it's worthy being able to recognize and see when other people do move towards at least some of the best of the moral standards that are reflective of their own faith.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, I think that's a much better approach than a not-uncommon approach from Christians to say that, "Sure, Christianity has been the cause of oppression and conflict, but atheism has, too. As if somehow we're okay because they did the same thing, but they're worst.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You're bad, and we're bad, so, we're all bad.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
When the reality is we should be – we're held to a higher standard, and I think we ought to own up to that; I think you're exactly right. And that actually leads to the third.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Good.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
And I think we ought to own up to the degree to which Christians have fought other Christians. And what we desperately need is a reminder – and as a reminder that there are things that Christians hold in common; there are things the denial of which is a denial of Christianity.

And then there's a great deal of diversity in the way Christians live out that faith, and that rather than diversity being a problem, I think unity, in the midst of diversity is, in fact, at the very heart of the biblical story. I think God loves diversity. I think God enjoys diversity. And we might say, "But God didn't create all of that diversity."

But that's also a demonstration of the way God responds to rebellion and sin, that the diversity of cultures came out of his judgment at the Tower of Babel. I'm not calling cultures judgment; I'm calling them a great gift from God that comes in the midst of –in the midst of that judgment.

I think God loves diversity, and he loves seeing people of various tongues and tribes and nations worshipping him together. I don't think God is troubled that some people like guitar music and some people don't. I think God loves that diversity.
Dr. Darrell Bock
When we get to Heaven, we'll probably have sections – music sections of a little variety when we get there.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
I hope so.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And, of course, one of the interesting things about this is being – for Christians to be able to understand, if I can say it this way, what's central to their faith and what is actually legitimately up for discussion. And sometimes we don't distinguish those things enough and have enough appreciation for how theology itself works to know where those judgments are being made.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Yeah, and Acts 17 is helpful here. I mean this is a very simple summary of the essence of the Christian faith, the creeds really. I mean Rich Mullins, who taught several generations now the Apostles' Creed by putting it to music to remind us of these are things that Christians hold in common. The other things, not to the same. We don't hold this nearly as tightly as we do these.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay, let's move to the third now, and we're gonna have to move quickly through the last three. The third one that we're dealing with here is – identifies a problem of the Bible, the way the Bible has been used.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
It's easy to read through the biblical stories and find examples of violence, to find examples of oppression, to find the Flood and genocide, etcetera. But I think those stories have to be read in light of the big picture.

And I'll just give you one example. It changes everything if we read the Flood narrative as the picture of an angry God who lost control and just flew off the handle and destroyed everyone.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Crush the bugs.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
It changes things. And if you read that and hear God express the reason for the Flood was his grief and pain at the violence that humans had brought onto the Earth. And it changes things when we read those stories and ask whether the language of the biblical text demands that God is the cause of this, or if God withdraws his hands and protection and allows the waters to cover the Earth, or God withdraws his hand and protection and allows the Earth to swallow the rebels, or if God – so, whether it's – it's different whether it's God actively doing it or withdrawing his hand.

At the end of the day, God is still responsible, God is still accountable. But I do think it is important to distinguish between that which God actively does and that which God allows. But I think it also is important that we acknowledge that God is not capricious; he is not – he is not an angry God that loses control of himself. That's a judgment that God brings on the Earth.

The judgment that God brings on the Earth is almost always – I'm trying to think of a counter example – it's almost always after a long period of warning and of – even the Canaanites is 400 years after the event in Genesis 9, where the Canaanites are cursed. And even in the midst of the conquest, there are great acts of grace on behalf of the Canaanites.

So, I think the whole story has to be told. But again, back to honesty, we don't just say those stories didn't exist, and we don't revert back to the Marcionite heresy and say, "That was a different God. The New Testament God is a different God."

We actually have to – and this would be my bottom line, "Let's – instead of just dismissing the story like – as if you understand it, let's actually talk about this text, and let's have a conversation about it. I've listened to your arguing against Christianity. Could we actually now talk about this and to spend the time –"

That might be one of my constant mantras, that it takes time to engage people well. It takes time to have these kind of interactions. It takes a great deal of time.
Dr. Darrell Bock
The other thing that is a part of this conversation it seems to me is the idea of the accountability. One is placing these stories in context, but the other is _____ accountability. Because in the end, there's no escape from the issue of judgment and even violence. Because when we come to the end of the biblical story, we've got a pretty comprehensive judgment that is coming, in which our accountability as creatures to a Creator is stated very, very directly with very painful ends for some people.

And so, facing up to the idea of accountability is important. The flipside of this is a sense of entitlement that principal tend to feel that, "God owes me," in one way or another. And so, if God acts against human beings, that somehow that is inherently unjust when it may not be. That's why putting some of these stories in context is important.

I remember, in thinking about genocide, which always troubled me, and I think the stories of genocide, no matter where they appear, should trouble people. But in reading the Pentateuch, as we worked up to this unique and as the other part of the genocide story in the Old Testament, this was a unique thing that God was doing at the time, much like the flood was unique. When the flood was over, God said, "I'm not doing that again."
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Never again.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Reading the nature of the society, what they did with their children, how they lived, etcetera – you know, if I can make an analogy, the revulsion that many feel towards the way ISIS treats other people who are outside their circle – is a reminder of the way kind of this society, this Canaanite society's being described.

And God says, "I'm gonna try and wipe the slate clean here through what it is that I'm asking you to do." So, those are features that don't remove all the pain, but they certainly help to explain what's going on as oppose to just this random, violent act, which is the way it tends to be portrayed.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Mm-hmm, yeah, that's exactly right. And the undeniable fact is that nobody gets out of this thing alive. So – and that reality has to be at least part of the conversation, that there must be some explanation for universal death and consequences that points to some accountability to something beyond us.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Luke 13:1-5 is a fascinating passage, because in it, Jesus asked the question, "But whether it be by natural disaster or human act whether some people are worse sinners than others," and, of course, his response is consistent in both cases, "Unless you repent, you likewise will perish."

And so, the bottom line here is is that if there's a Creator and we're creatures, and he has created a moral world in which we are to be responsive to him, we're all accountable to that God. And we can't forget that bottom line.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Exactly right. And to constantly remind people of that.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay, four and five. Let's – we got very little time here; so, let's try to move through the last two quickly.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
A problem with science – and I'm not a scientist, but here's my conviction, that in the 20th century, Christianity accepted by default, eventually – accepted by default a conflict between science and the Bible that has left us in this kind of a state.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We're forcing people to make a choice they probably shouldn't make.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
They shouldn't make. Because the reality is, if Romans 1 is true, and it is, God has revealed himself in what he has made. So, as we study the book of nature, to use language Christians have used for years, we study the book of nature, and we study the Bible, those two books –
Dr. Darrell Bock
We're seeing the two hands of God.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
We see the two hands of God. And they are – they are harmonious. They are not – they're complementary; they're not contradictory; they're not in conflict with each other. Now, the reality is, it looks like conflict because of interpretation of the book of nature and interpretation of –
Dr. Darrell Bock
The tension comes from our inability to read what's going on.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Exactly right, yeah. So, that instead of dismissing science as atheistic and opposing the Bible and opposing God, let's actually engage this conversation from the inside. And I would call for a generation of Christian scientists – not the religion – and Christian lawyers and Christian doctors and Christian journalists to actually do the faith in the midst of this, and to do it well as Christians. That I think we bought into the spirit of the age, and we've given away something that is very important that we should not lose.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, that's probably a podcast all unto itself. So, we'll save the rest of that for later. The last area.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
The problem of unfulfilled expectations. What do we do when Christianity does not work? I still think that Philip Yancy's Disappointment with God might be the best thing ever written on this subject. What do we do when God doesn't behave as we wish he had, or as we have been taught that he should, as we have begged him to act?

And Yancy concludes that life in a fallen world – with the horrific evil that exists in it, that doesn't work the way it was designed to work – inevitably leads to our disappointment with God. He calls us not to deny that, but to admit it and to – and really to embrace the reality of life in a fallen world and that struggle, and then says, "But at the end of the day, as difficult as it is to deal with disappointment with God as a believer, it is infinitely worse to do it as a non-believer."
Dr. Darrell Bock
And the flipside of that, of course, is is that there is the hope, and this is part of the faith, that in the end, it does all get rectified and put right so that, in the end, eschatology and the hope of the end is the balancing factor to where we find ourselves now, because we're not at the end of the story.
Dr. Glenn Kreider
Right, yep.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, once again, Glenn, I want to thank you for coming in and kinda helping us negotiate the terrain of thinking about how to interact on issues of atheism and thinking through these kinds of conversations.

I'm virtually certain all of us have had conversations, in one way or another, in which these kinds of arguments and discussions have come up, sincerely raised, and therefore needing to be sincerely addressed. So, I thank you for coming in and helping us with this.

Again, we thank you for being a part of The Table, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Darrell L. Bock
Darrell L. Bock Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 30 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Glenn R. Kreider
Glenn R. Kreider Dr. Glenn R. Kreider identifies his motivations as his passion for the triune God and his desire to help others respond to divine revelation in spirit and truth. Prior to coming to DTS he directed Christian education and pastored a church in Cedar Hill, Texas. Dr. Kreider’s research interests include Jonathan Edwards, theological method, and our eschatological hope. He is married to Janice and they have two children. Dr. Kreider enjoys his adorable black lab named Chloe, two pugs, bold coffee, and good music.
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