Evangelism Radio

Interview with Janet Parshall on Hitchens, Magnificent Obsession and American Atheism

I very much enjoyed speaking last night to Janet Parshall.  It was an hour long programme (with lots of commercials!) mostly about Magnificent Obsession, atheism in the US etc.  I was very impressed with her – intelligent, articulate and very pleasant with an obvious heart for the Lord.   The show is well produced and researched. Apparently it goes out through 700 different radio stations.  It must have gone ok because I have been invited back on May 14th….look forward to it.  Meanwhile hope you enjoy this…





  1. David

    Your criticisms of Christopher Hitchens revolve around his perceived lack of Biblical knowledge and inherent condescension for theistic intellect.

    Do you believe in the complete inerrancy of the Old Testament? It does seem at great variance with historical and scientific probability.

    1. Yes – I do believe in the complete inerrancy of the whole bible. And I don’t think it is at variance with historical and scientific probability…

      1. Jon or David? Can you define what you mean by inerrancy? For example, taken literally “the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless” (Ecc 2:17) could be taken to mean it being ok to excuse idleness with one understanding of inerrancy. Some figures do contradict each other elsewhere.

        So, surely it is down to what one understands as being inerrancy, and what one understands as appropriate biblical interpretation?

        For example Hitchens when he has talked of Abraham and God with sacrificing Isaac, that is where he stopped. What Hitchens didn’t articulate was that in context, pagan worship would probably have included child sacrifice and the difference being that rather than ending up sacrificing his son, Abraham was provided with an animal for sacrifice.

        Yet God did not withhold his own son that absorbed the evil of the world and returned with love, praying for forgiveness for humanity. So, in this case God went beyond what he expected of Abraham, Jesus was the “sacrifice”, and forgiveness, love shown in Jesus for those that did that to him.

        Does that make sense?

      2. There are many areas where the bible and our knowledge of the universe can be brought into sync, but there are several difficulties as well. Take Exodus 30:8-11:

        “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

        This passage clearly states that the earth and the universe were created in 6 literal 24 hour periods. The word for “day” used to refer to the days of the week is the same word that is used for the days of creation.

        Now the scientific consensus, backed up by vast amounts of evidence is that the universe is over 13 billion years old and that the earth is 4.7 billion years old. Recent well publicised research in both these fields corroborates this.

        So the universe and the earth could not have been created in the same 6 day period.

        The bible here is totally at odds with science. Unless you take the “scientists is stoopid” approach and deny the evidence.

        Now I know that the OEC supporters will say that the word “day” can mean a long period of time. That might be OK for the early part of Genesis, but not for the quoted Exodus passage. On the flip side, YEC supporters use this passage to bolster their own claims. The YEC case, IMO, is internally consistent. OEC is just battering a square peg into a round hole.

        Of course, there are those who will come out with stuff like “well its actually more subtle than that, more nuanced, you need to look at the language context and all that”. Pure flannel, We are constantly being told , esp by evangelicals that a plain simple reading of the text is all that is needed. And a plain simple reading of it says 24 hour days. Besides, if you need a degree in theology and ancient greek/ hebrew to be able to understand the bible, it hardly makes it the word of a deity who is “not a god of confusion”. And makes a mockery of the idea of the priesthood of all believers.

        Of course, the answer is simple – the bible authors were reflecting the cosmology of the day – they didnt know about the vastness of space, the immense number of galaxies or the expanding universe. So the writing is a reflection of that. It is conditioned by the times.

        Steve Chalke takes it in the neck apparently for pointing out this sort of thing. He’s just being honest thats all. Sometimes brutally honest. Apparently he has said: “Creationism is a load of garbage,”. “Genesis is a poem based on a Babylonian creation myth.”

        Stuck his head above the parapet. Good on him.

      3. James – your view is a simplistic one that does not really work. You are reading the bible in a rather bizarre way, which then enables you to diss it. I don’t think Steve Chalke is being honest – the very opposite. He claims to be a bible believing Christian and then mocks the Bible…!

      4. Personalising aside, There are two themes coming across, biblical literalism and how the bible is understood – in both cases down to interpretation.

        Disagreement will inevitably arise as different understandings are arrived at. Does that necessarily mean one is always truthful and another a falsehood or is there room for saying that either/both could be appropriate and even be complimentary?

        It is sad when an endeavour for truth and freedom ends up in nothing more than a stupid argument. And it is beautiful when truth and freedom is arrived at, it is illuminating, and is a light to all around!

  2. You emphasize that your beliefs are based on “truth” and decry the “faith” it takes to be an atheist, yet the story of the Biblical exodus is based entirely on your faith in the inerrancy of scripture.

    There is no record of the events, no archaeological evidence, no logical reasoning to support the notion that some 2 million people crossed via a ridiculously circuitous route through the Sinai mountains from Egypt. Janet’s argument that the Egyptians were embarrassed to record the events is hopelessly weak. There is no period in the history of Egypt that would accord with the devastating combined effects of the plagues, death of the first born or the loss of the Pharaoh’s army. Finally, no linguistic trace of Semitic language can be found in Egyptian despite the generations of Israelites that had lived there.

    History is about establishing what probably happened based on the best available supporting evidence. When there is no such evidence, it does become a “faith” claim.

  3. David,

    Why is my view simplistic? I am taking a text at face value, fairly unequivocal in its meaning and pointing out the difficulties in reconciling the implications of a literal reading of that passage with the scientific consensus.

    Put it this way, if you gave that passage to someone who knew nothing about science, nothing about the age of the earth or universe , nothing about evolution and asked them to say what do you think it means, I am pretty certain, they wouldnt say “its about only working 6 days, because God created the universe and the earth over 6 non-specific long periods of time”

    It is patently obvious that the periods of time are 6 24 hour days. And that the bible is claiming that everything we can see either here or in space was created in that time.

    Nothing bizarre about that. Just pointing it out.

    YECs use this verse as a key defence of their YECery, But they;re nuts.

    This is only one of several instances where the bible and science are clearly in conflict (evolution is the biggie of course).

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