Nathan Pratt: My Journey to Atheism


Something I’d like to get out of the way immediately is that this post is going to be very honest. It’s a brief history of my religious upbringing, my crisis of faith and the final pushes to search for truth. Nothing I’ll say in this post is said out of anger or malice. It’s an honest portrayal of the extreme difficulty of leaving something you’d held to be truth for almost 30 years. I imagine that some of the topics and points will offend, but please read to the end.

One of the more frustrating things to come out of leaving religion is that so many theists think I haven’t thought this out. That I’m just going through a phase. I’d be willing to wager that I’ve gone much farther in my pursuit of truth than about any believer out there. I’ve put a staggering amount of time into this journey. So when people wave it away as I’m simply misunderstanding or I just need to hear the right words or verses it’s extremely insulting.

I hope that even if we never see eye to eye you’ll see how difficult this journey had been and how extremely hard I tried to make belief work. Here we go….

– My History –

I was raised inside a Southern Baptist family. My home church was Sunnyside Baptist in Hobart, IN. Both of my parents came from pretty terrible childhoods and they viewed religion and god as the thing that saved them. I don’t blame them for wanting that for me.

Being baptists things were pretty legalistic growing up. This is the bible and its truth can’t be debated. It is what it is. Continue reading

Church’s Kingdom of God: Crucified King’s Mission


It is often the case that Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure futuristic dimension tend to focus on the spiritual aspect of winning souls and living a holy life while neglecting the present dimension of physical aspect namely hunger for justice and peace, care for the orphanage, the poor, and the widows, the environment et cetera. The inverse is often the case for Christians who understand the kingdom of God only in a pure present dimension.

A sound understanding is that that holds the present and future dimension, both the physical and spiritual aspect of the kingdom of God just as the early church. Christians holding sound understanding of the kingdom of God understands what W. F. Arndt contended:

What is offered to those that accept Jesus the Savior and King and become citizens in that blessed realm of which He is the Ruler is not wealth, not power, not health, at least not directly. With the forgiveness of sins they have received rest for their souls, a joyful outlook upon the future, the assurance of heavenly bliss, and with this righteousness all other things will be added unto them (Matt 6:33). (Arndt 1950: 20)

They concur both that, as R. T. France argued, the kingdom of God is about God being King and Christians entering it, means accepting and bowing down before God as king (France 2005: n.p.) and, as Wright argued, “[t]he new creation will be put into the care of, the wise, healing stewardship of those who have been ‘renewed according to the image of the creator’”( Wright 2006: 219)

A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians “to live by the life of heaven even while on earth”, as we become a “living word in the world around us”(2006: 187). Living now, as Scot McKnight correctly contended, in light of the future. McKnight expounded,

A Christian is one who follows Jesus by devoting his or her One.Life to the kingdom of God, fired by Jesus’ own imagination, to a life of loving God and loving others, and to a society shaped by justice, especially for those who have been marginalized, to peace, and to a life devoted to acquiring wisdom in the context of a local church. This life can only be discovered by being empowered by God’s Spirit (McKnight 2010: 105).

A sound understanding of the kingdom of God calls Christians to become more and more like their King now. To be holy as their King is holy. To forgiving as their King forgave. To love as their King loved. To heal as their king healed. All this is possible through the work of the Holy Spirit only.

It is important for Christians to hold both understanding of the kingdom of God because that understanding will raise a community of Christians who are equally concerned with the present need and are equally and eagerly awaiting and preparing for the future, the day to which all, in heaven, on earth and under earth, will bow down to the King of kings, Jesus who is Christ and Lord over all.


Arndt, W. F.(1950) ‘The New Testament Teaching on the Kingdom of God’, Concordia Theological Monthly, 21/1:8–29.

Wright, N. T. (2006) Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. HaperCollins e- books.

France, R. T ( 2005) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Vanhoozer, K. J., Bartholomew, C. G., Treier, D. J., & Wright, N. T. (Eds.) .Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK.

McKnight, Scot (2010) One Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Abortion and A Flawed Brain-life Theory


Tracking Baruch Brody’s view, brain-life theorists claim that being fully human, a being must possess properties “such that their loss would mean the going out of existence (the death) of a human being”(Brody 1975, 102). The property of being human, they argued, is human brain function. J Savulescu, for example, contended:

If we cease to exist when our brain dies, we only begin to exist when our brains start to function. Consciousness does not begin until after 20 weeks’ gestation. Thus we do not begin to exist as persons, as morally relevant entities, until at least 20 weeks of fetal gestation. The question of when and if killing occurs does not even arise until at least 20 weeks’ gestation. (Savulescu 2002, 134).

Brain-life theorist John M. Goldenring¹ concisely put it this way: “Whenever a functioning human brain is present, a human being is alive.”(Goldenring 1985, 200).

Before acquiring this property, a fetus has not yet come into existence. Killing it is not like killing an existing human being. Thus aborting a fetus before it acquires brain function, so argued brain-life theorists, is morally permissible. In this article, I contended that this criteria, which “rests in symmetrical view of the beginning and end of human existence”(ibid. 202), defended by Brody, Goldenring and Savulescu is deeply flawed².

“Brain death” wrote Eelco F.M. Wijdicks,  “is the vernacular expression for irreversible loss of brain function.” He continued,

Brain death is declared when brainstem reflexes, motor responses, and respiratory drive are absent in a normothermic, nondrugged comatose patient with a known irreversible massive brain lesion and no contributing metabolic derangements. (Wijdicks 2002, 20)

The irreversible loss of brain function indicates that a patient is dying, or in a common parlance ‘as good as dead’, but not that the patient is dead. Don Marquis correctly argued that even if “death is, strictly speaking, defined in terms of the irreversible loss of brain function, the mere absence of brain function is not a sufficient condition for the absence of life.”(Marquis 1996, 8)

Moreover it is not simply the absence of brain function that is in play in pronouncing a person dead, but irreversible lost of brain function. If a person was reasonably expected to resume or come to have brain function in the future, then that person cannot be pronounced dead. Pre-brain-function fetus is a being that is reasonably expected to come to have brain function for it “ has the natural capacity to bring on the functioning of the brain.”(Varga 1984, 62)

Though I disagree with Peter Singer’s stance on the issue of abortion, I do share his verdict on this view. He correctly concluded that this view is a “convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognize that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.”(Singer 1994, 105)


Brody, Baruch (1975) Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life: A Philosophical View. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Goldenring, John M. (1985) The brain-life theory: towards a consistent biological definition of humanness. Journal of Medical Ethics Vol. 11:198-204

Marquis, Don (1996) Abortion. Appeared in Donald M. Borchert (2006) ed. Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2nd. Thomson Gale.

Savulescu, J (2002) Abortion, embryo destruction and the future of value argument. Journal of Medical Ethics. Vol. 28: 133-135

Singer, Peter (1994) Rethinking Life & Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional
New York: St. Martin’s Press

Wijdicks, Eelco F.M. (2002) Brain death worldwide: Accepted fact but no global consensus in diagnostic criteria. Neurology Vol. 58:20-25

Varga, Andrew (1984) The Main Issues in Bioethics. 2nd ed. NY: Paulist Press.

[1] Goldenring believed that 8 weeks fetus has an EEG activity. He boldly asserted, “one cannot advance any logical argument to show that that fetus is not a living human being”(199) from a medical point of view after brain activity.

[2] One could also argue brain-life theory, as defended by Brody, Goldenring and Savulescu, mistake the qualitative identity of a developing human being with the numerical identity of being a human being.

NB: I would be thankful for short(<300) and concise comments and critics.

Changing Dippers For The Glory of God

How can I appreciate and delight in God as I change my daughter’s dippers? And mostly when I have already done it 8th times in just 2 hours? 🙂

Richard L. Pratt, Jr., captured the spirit of Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 10:31 as he reasoned that “Paul summarized his outlook into two principles. First, whether or not believers partake, they must do it all for the glory of God. The chief end of human beings is the glory of God; his honor should be the principle concern of those who love him (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37)”.[1]

Pushing the boundaries of the application of 1 Corinthians 10:31 in our daily lives, does Paul mean, I should change our(Lea and I) one month old daughter’s, Eloise, dippers for the glory of God?

As I pondered 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossian 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”(ESV), came to mind. Not only do I have to change Eloise’s dipper for the glory of God but in the name of the Lord Jesus and giving thanks to God the Father.

Changing dippers is a simple task. I, as a month newly father, could simply do it without thinking about it. But I wanted more. I wanted to delight, enjoy and take pleasure in all I do for the glory of God. I did not want to change Eloise’s dipper because I had to, but because I love to.

Commenting on Colossian 3:17, Max Anders wrote: “The life transformation process is to include any and all areas and activities of life. In all places, in all ways, the believer is to honor the name of the Lord Jesus. […] Genuine spirituality is found in having our lives transformed into the character of Christ.”[2]

Looking in our daughter’s eyes, when she is smiling or crying, I could not deny the infinity awesome and amazing joy and love she brings in our lives. Joy and love that I never thought exist in me. Every time I change her dippers, she stares at me with her beautiful mom’s-brownish color eyes. It was in those staring moments that I found my delight and joy in changing her dippers. I started working wholeheartedly, as for the Lord and not for me. As a result, I found out that I began to change her dipper not only for the Lord but also for me. I love changing her dippers, for every time I do it, I do it for the glory of God who has blessed us with such a joy.


If you are a parent, how did you find joy and delight in changing your child’s dipper? (Mostly when is at midnight or many times in a short period)

If you are a theologian, did I apply 1 Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:17 correctly? Give reasons.

[1] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). Vol. 7: I & II Corinthians. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (170). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 8: Galatians-Colossians. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (332). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Poem: Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales

Poem by: Jeffrey Bethke

I realized Disney movies and chick flicks, they’ve put us in a weird position,
They’ve distorted our reality, we forget they are fiction,
Because in marriage we either get better or bitter, either joy or remorses,
Whatever were doing ain’t working, just look at the rate of divorces
So, how’s your marriage? I mean c’mon let’s just be honest,
Marriage seems to some more like a prison, than the paradise they were promised
We thought marriage was supposed to fulfill us and make us happy, not lonely
But the truth is His first priority is making you holy.

You say “no one told me,” and it feels so odd
That dating felt like a vacation, while marriage feels like a job,
Yet the secret of joy, if we just pull back our facade,
Is realizing most problems arise when we elevate our spouse to God
Without knowing it we’ve fulfilled romans 1:25
By our actions exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
We’ve exchanged God for lesser, created things,
It’s like a husband trading his wife for a 2d image on a screen,
Hoping it’ll set us free, just to find on the fumes were choking,
Cuz if your marriage rests on anything but Jesus, it’s resting on something broken.
Yet guys continually sacrifice their marriage on the altar of sex and lust,
I mean if our dollars were honest they’d say in “pleasure we trust”
So men grow up, put down the controller,
How about you lead her with grace, instead of trying to control her

Now I’ve never been married but I’m a product of one that was non-existent,
So don’t tell me I don’t understand, don’t tell me I just don’t get it
So for the singles, become friends first, before you become lovers,
Pursue Christ as your foundation, before you get under the covers,
Because believe me a strong friendship before marriage, will make a good marriage after,
friendship isn’t just sex, its deep conversation and laughter.
I mean some spouses barely even like each other, and the marriage seems like a dead end.
You might share a checkbook and a bed, but are you actually friends?
I mean if marriage isn’t a commitment, then what’s the point of the vows we say?
Til death do us apart, really means until the feelings goes away.
Like, “ill stay with him but only until it gets tough and my love shifts”,
But I say imagine if a parent took that perspective with her kids,
Like can’t you see it, the minute the kid spills food on the floor,
The mom saying “son I’m leaving, I’m just not in love with you anymore.”
No its just like marriage, to last you need the strength from above,
Because it’s not the love that sustains the promise, it’s the promise that sustains the

I mean think about it, out of anyone who has had the right to leave?
God had every reason in the world, yet he still came for you and me,
And on the cross he paid it all he took our shame and set us free,
When he could’ve called down legions of angels, he chose to stay on that tree.
From the cross he looks you in the eye, and says I’m taking this for my bride,
When you trust in me, you no longer have to hide!
Because of me it is finished, you have been made new!
Spotless, blameless there’s no sin in you!

His death was a proposal, he wanted you no matter the cost,
Where some guys propose on a knee, Jesus proposed on a cross.
So whether husband or wife, read Ephesians 5,
Wife honor your husband, husbands give up your life,
Just like Jesus gave himself, for his bride the church,
So men lead by serving, by putting her first
Lastly both spouses die to self, put your flesh on a life sentence,
Because you don’t fall out of love as much as you fall out of repentance.

Related: Poem: Sexual Healing &

Jefferson Bethke’s Facebook

You Better Run Prof. Richard Dawkins

A popular new atheist, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, refused to stand trial, to debate  defending the truthfulness of his own book at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on Tuesday 26th October, with one of the best and leading Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig.

Richard Dawkins

Prof. Dawkins maintained his head in the rabbit hole, saying :

“I have no intention of assisting Craig in his relentless drive for self-promotion”

Is this true? Craig has debated with the best thinkers including late Antony Flew, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert, A.C. Grayling, Bart Ehrman, Paul Kurtz, Walter Sinnott Armstrong, Victor Stegner, Lawrence Krauss, among the few. How then is Dawkins thinking Craig is driven for self-promotion?

I think the reason behind Prof. Dawkins’s refusal to debate with Craig, is the truth of  Sam Harris’ saying in his opening speech , 7th April 2011 “Is the Foundation of Morality Natural or Supernatural? or Does Good Come from God?” debate with William Lane Craig:

[William Lane Craig is]“the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”

The Telegraph headline, by Tim Ross, reads Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God: Ross, Telegraph’s religious affairs editor writes:

William Lane Craig

Some of Prof Dawkins’s contemporaries are not impressed. Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist, from Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to him urging him to reconsider his refusal to debate the existence of God with Prof Craig.

In a letter to Prof Dawkins, Dr Came said: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.

“I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

Is Richard Dawkins ,one of Sam Harris’ fellow atheists who Craig seems to have put the fear of God into? I wonder, I wonder.

The Drunkard’s Logic

One of the world short, classical and philosophical children and adult book worth reading and rereading is Antoine De Sain Exupéry’s The Little Prince(1943).

Little Prince sets off on a journey across planets encountering different characters with attributes of which we can identify ourselves with(“we adults”). The absolute monarch: “power”, the conceited individual: “fame”, the drunkard: “lost”, and the businessman: “money”.

In Chapter 12, Little Prince meets the drunkard. Enjoy the Drunkard’s Logic 🙂

The Little Prince(1943)

The next planet was inhabited by a tippler. This was a very short visit, but it plunged the little prince into deep dejection.

“What are you doing there?” he said to the tippler, whom he found settled down in silence before a collection of empty bottles and also a collection of full bottles.
“I am drinking,” replied the tippler, with a lugubrious air.
“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.
“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already was sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!” The tipler brought his speech to an end, and shut himself up in an impregnable silence.
And the little prince went away, puzzled.
“The grown-ups are certainly very, very odd,” he said to himself, as he continued on his journey.