by Nathan Battey
The location where I occasionally mail packages is a rather odd place; it is a combination of a mailing center and a dry cleaner. As I entered the door on a recent visit, Mr. Bong (who I discovered was the owner) greeted me warmly. He is a friendly man of oriental background in what I would guess to be his late fifties. As he calculated the cost to ship my packages, we began to chitchat to pass the time.
During the course of our conversation, Mr. Bong told how he had moved to Texas several years ago from the Philippines. Seizing the opportunity, I mentioned that I had traveled there on a mission trip a few years prior. Mr. Bong’s reply was rather startling:
My interest was piqued. “Well now, when did you stop believing in God?” I enquired.
“It was while I was in college; I learned that you cannot trust the Bible and that there is not evidence for everything in the Bible.” he replied.
Our conversation continued for nearly an hour and centered around the four major reasons he raised for rejecting the Bible:
1) “If the Biblical account of creation is true then where did the wives of Cain and Seth come from?”
When I stated that they had to have married their sisters, Mr. Bong replied, “Is that not incest? Is that not considered wrong in the Bible?”
While trying to explain that marrying one’s sister or brother has not always been wrong, I tried to emphasize the fact that all of mankind originating from two humans was not half as hard to swallow as mankind originating from two monkeys – let alone nothing! Though the idea of Cain having to marry his sister may raise theological questions for some, such an argument does not refute the Biblical account of creation.
When I asked Mr. Bong for evidence of evolution, he replied, “Some of the evidence has been hidden and some of it destroyed by religious groups such as the Catholic church. One day evidence will surface and then what will you do? Will you believe the Bible or the evidence?”
“So, for now you admit there is a lack of evidence and you have made a choice of blind faith,” I probed.
“Yes,” he responded, “but I have done so because the Bible has been proven to be false.”
This lead to our next point of discussion:
2) Mr. Bong began to question me regarding the Biblical account of the flood. “How could rain falling for 40 days and 40 nights cover the entire earth – including mountains – with water? And what happened to all the water once the flood was over?” he posed. “Did it disappear into space?”
Opening my Bible on my phone, I read to him Genesis 7:11 where the Bible says, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” He was not aware of this passage and the concept of water coming up from the earth as well as down from the heavens. However, he was not fazed and simply dismissed my answer along with my explanation that maybe all the water had not disappeared after the flood but had rather formed the oceans.
3) Mr. Bong quickly moved on to a discussion of the Exodus from Egypt. “Where is the evidence of Israel having wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and why is it that archeologists have proven Ai was destroyed at least 300 years before Jericho?” he demanded.
When I questioned him concerning the source of his archeological evidence, I was not given a reference; I was left to take him at his word. He also did not indicate what type of evidence he needed to see regarding the 40 years wandering period. Though I did not think of it at the time, after our discussion I questioned how Israeli artifacts could be distinguished during the wanderings period since they had just emerged from Egypt and likely would have been transporting Egyptian goods (Exodus 12:35).
4) Finally, Mr. Bong began to attack the credibility of the four Gospel accounts and the absence of original manuscripts.
In building my defense of the Gospels, I asked Mr. Bong to consider their accounts within the Jewish context in which they were written. Jews had more motive, opportunity, and ability to disprove the Gospel narratives than any other group in history, yet they failed in doing so. In fact, one of the greatest non-Biblical sources that verify the writings of the Gospels came from a Jewish historian – Josephus.
I then asked Mr. Bong to consider the evidence of the manuscripts in comparison with any other document in the history of the world. Why is it people accept as fact that we have the writings of men such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle (of whom we can only find a handful of copies of their manuscripts dated within a few hundred years), yet they reject the hundreds – nay thousands – of Biblical manuscripts? Among the thousands of Biblical manuscripts available, there are some copies that were produced within 30 years of the originals (Kostenberger, p.208). Why is it that a copy of Plato’s work is acceptable, but originals are required of the Bible? If we cannot trust the Bible, how can we trust any part of history?
I concluded my defense by questioning him about the internal evidences of the Gospels. How is it that four different men, from four different backgrounds, wrote of the same events at four different times, without contradicting each other? I expected Mr. Bong to raise questions of alleged discrepancies, but either he had none readily available or he refrained from doing so at the time.
As our conversation drew to a close, I posed two final questions: “What is the purpose of our life if there is no God?” and “How can we determine right from wrong?”
In answer to the first question, Mr. Bong responded, “There is no point to our life. We live, and we die.” I had expected a philosophical explanation of sorts and was struck oddly by the cold truth Mr. Bong had come to grasp: Without God there is no purpose to life – no hope in death.
In answering my second question, Mr. Bong postulated, “We know right from wrong because we have learned through our experiences what is right and what is wrong. We have adapted what works for us.”
“Survival of the fittest,” I replied.
“Yes. Survival of the fittest,” he repeated.
At this point I was reminded of an article I had read a few weeks prior entitled “How Darwinism Dumbs Us Down: Evolution and Postmodernism” (Pearcey, p. 81). In this article the author presented the idea that Evolution is the father of Postmodernism. Survival of the Fittest teaches that certain traits and characteristics are developed through experiences, and those that lend toward survival are kept. This belief teaches that truth is relevant, and a sense of right and wrong are developed and adapted based on circumstances and environmental influences. Mr. Bong was presenting the idea of the relativity of truth through Survival of the Fittest, as an explanation of the development of moral law.
In response to his theory, I posed a question that brought our conversation to a close – at least for that day: “Was Hitler wrong for killing millions of Jews, or was he justified in doing what was right for him?” If life is nothing more than a survival of the fittest, and if morality is nothing more than what individuals decide for themselves, Hitler and every other evil monster are not truly evil, but rather justified in their actions. But then I guess from this perspective, there is no point to life anyway (or value either).
Though I did not convince Mr. Bong to give up his choice of rejecting God, I pray I caused him to pause and reflect in some way. I am thankful for the experience and am reminded that we never know when an opportunity will present itself and what may come of it. May we always spread the seed and let it fall where it may (Matthew 13:18-23).
Kostenberger, Andreas. Evidence For God. Ed. William Dembski and Michael Licona. Baker Books, 2010
Pearcey, Nancey. Evidence For God. Ed. William Dembski and Michael Licona. Baker Books, 2010