I watch a lot of videos on You Tube about atheism. I’ve watched hours of interviews with and lectures by the most brilliant atheists around, such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins.  I’ve also watched hours of videos posted by random You Tube atheists decrying Christianity. I know a lot more about evolution and Darwin’s theory than most average white males because I’ve studied it quite a lot. If there’s is a show on T.V. about the origins of the earth I always watch it. I regularly read the blogs of at least two atheists.

I am really trying to do my part. The vast majority of Christians don’t really take an interest in atheists. I do. I want to know what their arguments against religion are. And not just the arguments that most Christians are aware of, I’m talking about the hard questions that atheists raise. I want to know what those are. In fact, I do know what they are because I’ve searched them out.

One phrase I come across a lot is “Fundamentalist Christian biblical literalist.” In layman’s terms this means “People who blow up abortion clinics.” In fact, “fundamentalist” anything means you blow stuff up.

A couple of months ago I heard a caller on NPR say that John Hagee (I am not defending John Hagee in any way, shape or form. That man falls way on the opposite side of the theological map from me) views the end times the way he does because he believes a literal interpretation of the book of Revelation. This made me laugh. There is not one Christian on the planet who believes that all of Revelation is to be read literally. Have you read Revelation? Revelation is written in a highly stylized fashion. Does anyone really think that Jesus was literally standing at the door and knocking in Revelation 3:20? Nope. Not to mention all the beasts with horns and stuff.

Does anyone really think that God literally made David lie down in green pastures in Psalm 23? Nope. Does anyone really believe that God literally breathed fire out of His nose? Nope. Does anyone really believe that Jesus is literally a gate? Nope. No Christian believes that every single word of the Bible is meant to be taken literally.

When I write a song about going to Memphis does that song literally mean that I’m going to Memphis? Did I record the vocal in the car on the way there? How many takes was it before I got the keeper?

However, when I write a blog post that says I went to the zoo with my family does that mean that I literally went to the zoo with my family? Yes it does.

The key is knowing the difference between when I’m writing lyrics with an underlying meaning and when I’m giving an actual account of real events.

By the way, I think I’ve mentioned this before, I do believe all the fantastical accounts in the Bible of the parting of the Red Sea, and the story of Jonah, and the story of the flood, and all of Christ’s miracles, and all the stuff that seems so unbelievable. I’m not saying that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally. It is. But not all of it. And I think that to many Christians it is obvious when it is and when it is not to be taken as historical and future fact.

Back to the atheists. I’ve seen many debates between believers and the aforementioned brilliant atheists. The one thing that always bothers me is that the guys debating on the side of Christianity never seem to have their theology in order. They often have their philosophical, historical, and existential rhetoric down pat but their theology seems shaky. They never seem to be able to deal with the charges leveled against the Old Testament.

The magic sword in the hands of the atheists always seems to be the book of Leviticus. Why can’t the Christian debater ever tackle this issue head on? It seems like if you have a solid grasp on the entire scope of redemptive history you should be able to knock this one out of the park.

The atheist debaters always seem to be able to put the Christians on their heals when they ask how a God who is loving, merciful, righteous, and holy would ever command the severe punishments for sin He commanded to the Israelites.

For a theologian these are not all that hard to answer. Why don’t the debaters take on this question from a theological perspective? Certainly it’s not going to change the atheist’s mind but at least answer the question biblically.

I’ve heard many non-believers say that Christians claim that God is tolerant. Then they say, “If God is so tolerant why would He…” fill in the blank with whatever a tolerant God should allow. Here’s the answer. God is not tolerant. Not at all. Christians who say that God is tolerant are wrong.

Another one goes something like this, “If God is a of God love then why…?” Here is the answer: God is a God of love and mercy and all of that but He is also a God of incredible wrath and judgement.

The Leviticus issue usually goes like this: “How can you say that God is righteous when He commanded the Israelites to punish sin and unbelief with such ferocity?” Here is the answer. Actually, this hasn’t been the answer (or anything even resembling it) in the debates I’ve seen but it should be at least close to this. God is holy. Holy beyond anything we can comprehend. And we should see from the incredible fierceness of the punishments He demands that the sins we see as trivial are deserving of the most brutal punishment imaginable. If we don’t see sin as flying in the face of a holy God then stoning probably seems barbaric. But when we start to understand God’s holiness then we see why sin deserves death.

Has the world ever seen a more brutal punishment of sin than Calvary? Nope. Nor will we ever.

Is this going to ease the way atheists look at our God? Nope. That’s not the point. I just think that the debaters should have a theologically sound answer to the question.

That is my criticism of the Christian debaters. Here is my criticism of the atheist debaters. Explaining the origins and evolution of human morality while ridiculing and mocking billions of religious people is probably not the best defense of your morality.