Speaking to Intellectuals

[Today’s post is by author and television personality Ray Comfort who hosts the weekly television program, The Way of the Master. His best-selling book is also titled The Way of the Master. For New Leaf Publishing Group, Ray authored 101 Annoying Things About Air Travel and 101 Annoying Things About Other Drivers.]

Ray Comfort, Author & Television Host

Ray Comfort, Author & Television Host

You’re sitting on a plane and you finally get up courage to speak to the man next to you. As he is sipping his coffee, you say, “Hey, Ron, I have a question for you. What do you think happens after someone dies?”

Ron finishes the last gulp of his coffee, thinks for a minutes and says, “Nothing.”

You say, “Nothing?”

He smiles condescendingly and says, “I’m an atheist.”

Now you are the one who gulps, and you are not finishing anything but your desire to end this conversation. This man is obviously an intellectual. He’s a thinker. He probably has a university degree. What do you do now?

Here’s what you need to do. Stop thinking that Ron is an “intellectual.” That’s just not true. There is a possibility that he has a big IQ, but he is not a thinker. He’s a fool according to the Bible (see Psalm 14:1 and Romans 1:22). He is very shallow in his thoughts. He is of the same mentality as a man who believes that no one made the plane you are both sitting on. The seats, the wings, the lighting, sound system, wings, on-board television and radio, the engines, the carpet, the intricate wiring – all happened by accident. There was nothing. Then came a big bang and (in time) a plane appeared. Such thoughts are boarding on insanity or at least thoughts from the mind of a simpleton.

So why do we insist on believing that atheists are intellectuals? Why do so many universities pump out atheists like there is no tomorrow?

Jesus called our enemy “the father of lies.” Do you believe Him? We are surrounded by lies. Anyone who studies the theory of Darwinian evolution without prejudice and without blind faith knows it is a lie. Atheism is a lie. Anyone who uses his God-given brain knows this. But still the lie persists that both those who believe in a crazy theory called “evolution” and the insanity of atheism are intellectuals.

The Lie List

It is no big deal to some atheists when they exaggerate or embellish the truth just a little to strengthen their arguments that there is no God. Numerous atheist websites list “great minds” who were atheists. These are very impressive at first glance. The problem is, what they maintain about these men and women just isn’t true. Few in their long lists were actual atheists.

Take, for instance, the small list of big names given in a challenge by David W. Irish. He said, “I find it funny to note that not one person has accepted my challenge to find ‘great Americans’ (citizens who made great contributions to America’s treasured literature, science, engineering, and who orchestrated social reforms that made America great) who are also ‘evangelical fundamentalist Christians.’

“I’ve actually done research and I know of at least three, and they are nothing of the caliber of great Americans like Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, and Susan B. Anthony (who are, incidentally, all atheists). Why have so many great contributions to American and world society been made by atheists, and so few by evangelicals? The challenge is still open.”

Look at Irish’s impressive list of great American atheists: 1. Thomas Edison; 2. Mark Twain; 3. Robert Frost; 4. Ernest Hemingway; 5. Susan B. Anthony.

I wonder how many gullible theists have become atheists because they believe that so many great minds of history denied the existence of God? The problem is that only one of the above list of five was an atheist, and his story is a very sad case indeed. Let’s look one by one at these great Americans who were “all” atheists.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced modern life, including the phonograph and the long-lasting and practical electric light bulb.

I recently devoured a biography about this incredible man to whom we owe so much. I am consoled by his “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work.” And I love his philosophy of “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and invent it.”

So, was Thomas a doubting Thomas? Far from it. Like many thinking minds, he simply hated the hypocrisy of “religion.” However, Edison was not an atheist.

“I do not believe in the God of the theologians; but that there is a Supreme Intelligence I do not doubt[1].”

I am much less interested in what is called God’s word than in God’s deeds. All Bibles are man-made[2].”

Henry Ford once said, “I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about[3]?” Ford was a very close friend of Edison and after his death, he said, “He felt there was a central processing core of life that went on and on. That was his conclusion. We talked of it many times together. Call it religion or what you like, Mr. Edison believed that the universe was alive and that it was responsive to man’s deep necessity. It was an intelligent and hopeful religion if there ever was one. Mr. Edison went away expecting light, not darkness[4].”

Mark Twain/Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1921), better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. Twain, like Edison, had a distain for the hypocrisy of established religion. However, also like Edison, he was definitely not an atheist. He said,

“God puts something good and loveable in every man His hands create[5].”

“No man that has ever lived has done a thing to please God–primarily. It was done to please himself, then God next[6].”

“None of us can be as great as God, but any of us can be as good[7].”

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. He was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes. In his lectures and letters, Frost often alluded to one of his very real fears:

“My fear of God has settled down into a deep and inward fear that my best offering may not prove acceptable in His sight” he told his friend G. R. Elliott in 1947. In a 1932 letter to poet Louis Untermeyer, Frost specified that the God he feared was the “God of Israel, who admits He is a jealous God.” In his last letter, written a few days before he died, he insisted we cannot save ourselves unaided. ‘Salvation,’ he said, ‘we will never have from anyone but God[8].’”

As in the case of Thomas Edison and Mark Twain, Robert Lee Frost was not an atheist.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was a prominent, independent and well-educated American civil rights leader who, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led the effort to secure women’s suffrage in the United States. When on trial for her convictions, she defended herself with:

“May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty and I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, that ‘resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.’”

Once again, like Hemingway, Frost and Mark Twain, she didn’t deny the existence of God. Look at her own words:

“I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows.”

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

“The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the constitutions of several States and the organic laws of the Territories, all alike propose to protect the people in the exercise of their God-given rights. Not one of them pretends to bestow rights: ‘All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed[1].’”

She also said, “The preamble of the constitution of the State of New York declares the same purposes. It says: ‘We the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, do establish this constitution.’ Here is not the slightest intimation either of receiving freedom from the United States Constitution or of the State’s conferring the blessings of liberty upon the people; and the same is true of every other State constitution. Each and all declare rights God-given, and that to secure the people in the enjoyment of their inalienable rights is their one and only object in ordaining and establishing government.”

Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961) was a novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He once said, “All thinking men are atheists,” which makes me suspect that the atheist “lie-list” may not be something new.

Hemingway, who fought in the First World War, perhaps revealed his own thoughts about God in one of his plays. A reviewer said of “A Farewell to Arms:”

“As a Lieutenant during World War I, Frederic Henry claims to have no religion or love for God. In a conversation with his group’s priest, Frederic only admits to be fearful of God ‘in the night sometimes’ (Hemingway 72). The reason why he only feels this at night is because it is the loneliest time; the time when there is a chance to think about the terrible and meaningless war, as well his meaningless life[1].”

Ernest Hemingway is the only athiest in the list of five supposed great American atheists. The prolific writer is a very sad testimony to the truth of the words of Jesus where He describes a man who built his house on sand, and when the storms of life came, it tragically crumbled.

“On a safari he was the victim of two successive plane crashes. The injuries he got away with were grave and numerous. He sprained his right shoulder, arm and left leg, had a grave overall concussion, temporarily lost his vision in the left eye, his hearing in the left ear, had a paralysis of the sphincter, crushed his vertebra, suffered from a ruptured liver, spleen and kidney and was marked by first degree burns on his face, arms and leg. As if this was not enough, he was badly injured one month later in a bushfire accident which left him with second degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. The physical pain caused him to lose his mind. His strength was gone entirely, and so was his will to live[2].”

When we don’t build our lives on the teachings of Jesus, the storms of life will eventually cause our downfaul. Sadly, Ernest Hemingway turned to alcohol to try and drown his sorrows. He attempted suicide in the spring of 1961 and received treatment, but it was unable to prevent his suicide on July 2, 1961. At 5:00 am, he tragically died as a result of a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. God only knows what happened moments before he took his life.

[2] The Atlantic Monthly Vol. 128, No. 4 (October 1921), p. 520  “I believe in the existence of a Supreme Intelligence pervading the Universe.” As quoted in Thomas A. Edison, Benefactor of Mankind : The Romantic Life Story of the World’s Greatest Inventor (1931) by Francis Trevelyan Miller, Ch. 25 : Edison’s Views on Life — His Philosophy and Religion, p. 293

[4] Henry Ford as quoted in Thomas A. Edison, Benefactor of Mankind : The Romantic Life Story of the World’s Greatest Inventor (1931) by Francis Trevelyan Miller, p. 294

[5] The American Vandal speech, 1868

[6] Mark Twain, a Biography

[7] Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903




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