Does Christianity teach we can abuse animals?
Hi, First of all let me say that I have thoroughly enjoyed you web site, especially the section on answering an atheist. I just started my first year in college and I encountered a boy named Andrew. Andrew and I have discussed religion a number of times. He is an atheist, I am a Christian. Andrew is very considerate and listens to all of my arguments, as I do his. He basically believes that he knows nothing and cannot prove there is a God, therefore he does not believe. However, he admits that he could be wrong. He said he was once a Christian, but then he started to think for himself. He is also a vegean and very opposed to mistreating animals. He said that the fact that God gave men domination over animals is wrong and that the bible oppresses women. My question is, How can I argue these points in favor of my God. Do you believe that Women are oppressed in the bible? Animals are mistreated? And how can I prove that there is a God? Thanks for your help. God Bless!
Thanks for writing. It's great to see someone take an active role in his or her faith and stand up for what they believe. Your friend Andrew has some definite misconceptions about Christianity. I find it interesting that he phrased his remarks "I used to be a Christian, but then I started thinking for myself." I would tell him that is an important step. No one should believe anything point blank, but they should have confidence in their world view because of solid reasoning.
This also means that no one should accept an atheistic position because they heard or read someone else say that Christianity is nonsense. Each person is obligated to investigate the claims made by others to try and arrive at the truth. It might take some diligence and real study (not just a couple of detractors' comments), but I think the truth is worth it.
Let's examine your friend's beliefs. If he holds the notion that nothing is knowable, that is a post-modernist approach to knowledge, and it is very easy to defeat logically. In fact, no one really believes nothing can be known, for man cannot survive without patterns, rules, and reliability. Why do you go to the store and buy so much food? Is it because you know you're going to be hungry later? But how can you really know? You see, the nihilistic position sounds good in theory, but it never works practically.
Andrew also said that the Bible supports the mistreatment of animals. This is false. In Genesis 1:28 God gives Adam and his heirs stewardship over the animals. This doesn't mean he should crush them like a tyrant, but was to care for them as a guardian. Psalm 24 declares that the earth and all it contains are the Lord's and not man's. In 1 Peter 4:10 we are commanded to use the gifts God has blessed us with as good stewards, not to waste and destroy.
The interesting thing is that the atheist has no such mandate. He either believes that nothing matters and he is accountable to no one so it cannot be considered wrong to mistreat animals, or he is a Darwinist and survival of the fittest is the rule. If I'm more powerful than another species, that's their tough luck! I can kill them because of my superiority. You see, the atheist position runs counter to what your friend believes.
As to the Bible oppressing women, please read the article on my page "Is the Bible Sexist Against Women?" I answer that in some depth there.
Your final question of how you can prove the existence of God is a little trickier. People have all kinds of different opinions on what "proof" is. There are the examples of the creation that are almost irrefutably demonstrate the existence of a creator, but people choose to believe otherwise. The best thing I can suggest is to pray for him and then dialog with him. Find out why he feels so strongly against God. If he tells you that nothing can be known, then you should ask "How do you know that?"
Remember, most people take an atheistic stance not because it's logical, but because they don't wish to be held accountable for their moral shortcomings (sins). They may not even realize this themselves. Witnessing like this requires a lot of prayer and patience. I pray that you will help your friend see that if he chooses to believe in atheism, he must do so for reasons other than mentioned above. Let me know how it goes!