Baby and Boxcar 

Weight David
Israel Mary's Magnificat
Friedrich Nietzsche Lowest Place
God-Likeness Imaginary Friends
Douglas Wilson He Humbled Himself

Tycho Brahe's Geo-Heliocentric Model


How do you evaluate the importance of a thing? The atheists answer,  it's very simple. You weigh it. Find out its mass, because mass is key. Compute the energy equivalent. The more massive the object under evaluation, the more important it is:

  • “Our new picture of cosmology is that we live in a universe dominated by nothing. The largest energy in the universe, 70 percent of the energy in the universe, resides in empty space. And we don't have the slightest idea why it's there. . .
  • “We now know two things. Well, one thing. . .This tells us that we are more insignificant than we ever imagined. If you take the universe, everything we see, stars and galaxies and clusters, everything we see, if you get rid of it, the universe is essentially the same. We constitute a one percent bit of pollution in a universe that's 30 percent dark matter and 70 percent dark energy. We are completely irrelevant. Why such a universe in which we are so irrelevant would be made for us is beyond me.”
  • (Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe From Nothing, YouTube Video, AAI 2009 42:40-44:02).

The reader may wonder why such massive things,—indeed, accounting for 99% of the total mass of the universe,—are described as 'nothing.' This lecturer's private vocabulary uses 'nothing' interchangeably for 'dark matter and dark energy.' It's not that he's a skeptic who expects the underground observatories searching for these things to come up empty. Rather he holds to an 'inertial' theory of word-meanings, according to which if a locale (empty space) was at one time described as containing 'nothing,' then the word 'nothing' may properly still be used to identify the contents of that locale, even if it has been discovered in the interim that the locale is not empty. (Don't expect that to make sense; we're talking with atheists here, after all.)

So we have the atheist standard of evaluation. It is mass/energy. What is big and imposing is important, what is small is insignificant. Let's try a few test cases:

Of the two, which is more important?
___a baby        or          ___a boxcar
The atheist answer: A boxcar.
Of the two, which is more impressive?
___a hummingbird      or        ___a wind-carved Saharan sand-dune
The atheist answer, the sand-dune.
Of the two in peril, which is more worth saving?
___an eight-year-old-child    or    ___an elephant
The atheist answer, the elephant, of course.
Which of the two is more admirable:
____an angel       or        ____a shipping container
Since the angel lacks mass, and mass equals significance, the shipping container wins out.

Here in Maine, the Pine Tree State, I would imagine the biomass locked up in pine trees, which are more plentiful, exceeds that found in humans, who are less plentiful here. But which are more interesting, even lovable perhaps? And watch out for dirt and rocks, strong contenders to win the mass race. Do even the atheists themselves follow through on their scheme of valuation as a self-consistent way of thinking? Suppose an evil genie proposed a trade: the substitution of a burlap sack filled with dirt of an equivalent mass, for your loved ones. Who would accept this as an even trade? If a dump-truck were to pull up, offering an entire truck-load of clean fill in exchange for my cat, what would be the difficulty in saying 'no'? If mass is the standard of value, to whom is it important, and why?

As hardly needs to be stressed, Christianity is premised on the denial of these assumptions:

"Child of God! Pray on. God's people are more dear to him than our children can be to us. He regards them with more complacency than all the shining orbs of that starry firmament. They were bought at a price higher than would purchase the dead matter of ten thousand worlds. He cares more for his humblest, weakest child, than for all the crowned heads and great ones of earth, and takes a deeper interest in the daily fortunes of a pious cottage than in the fall and rise of kingdoms." (Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, Kindle location 4211).

The God who became incarnate in a baby in a manger is not impressed by size or scale, "It's not easy to wrap your hands around a God who is evident in all of creation, who when asked for a name says, 'I AM.'. . .This is the God who creates the universe but chooses to be born in a manger. . .We have a God who enters the world through smallness — a baby refugee, a homeless rabbi, the lilies and the sparrows." (The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, p. 305).

But a newborn babe is not weighty enough for the atheists. The God who became incarnate in an infant small enough to take up in your arms cannot be any very important God, they aver. He would have to weigh like maybe 23 tons before he'd be big enough to deserve their notice! This atheist argument is familiar in a wide assemblage of variations, though its implausibility is its most striking feature. We are to surmise that God, at any rate, evaluates things strictly based on mass, though no one else does. Therefore God cannot have created this world, most of whose mass is not made up of human beings, nor even of visible matter. And variants of this argument spot-light the off-center location of our solar system: our earth is a pale blue dot in the middle of nowhere. God, if He exists, must choose what is big, central, and imposing, we are told. If our solar system and its little earth are not massive, central and imposing, then God cannot possibly have chosen this world to become incarnate, because it is just too unimportant. Maybe a central address would leave us zapped with cosmic rays, but it would still be imposing.

Does God think like this? There is no evidence, in His revelation to man, that He does. There is considerable evidence that, to His way of thinking, it's just the other way around. As a corollary, must we assume that God just adores Stalinist architecture, even though no one else does? Or do even the atheists like Stalinist architecture? And besides the earth is not so much tiny as it is right-sized. If the earth were so huge as to inspire the atheists' admiration, gravity would be such a powerfully inhibiting force that we would grovel along like earth-worms. They would hold the Olympics, and the champions would be those who managed to leap three vertical inches, if indeed their circulatory system could function. But no bother, the atheists would be impressed.



Fortunately we do not have to base our expectations of how God thinks on how atheists think, because God has left us a body of revelation illustrating some of His thought patterns. Let us examine one test case. He chooses David, from tending sheep, over his brothers. Why? Is David bigger than this brothers, or the smallest of the lot?:

  • “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.
  • “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
  • (1 Samuel 16:6-7).

It is a frequent complaint of those men whom God chooses for service that they lack weigh in the eyes of the world. Why did God choose Gideon? Was Gideon an important member of an influential family? or Saul?:

"And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house." (Judges 6:15).
"And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house? And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?" (1 Samuel 9:20-21).

God is capable of choosing the younger over the elder, Jacob over Esau, although the world's evaluation gives first place to the first-born. A study of the Bible focusing on whom God chooses and whom He leaves aside will find difficulty corroborating the theory that God chooses the important, the massive, and the powerful. He seems to make a regular practice of doing just the opposite.



There were big and important places in the ancient world, like Egypt and Babylon. To the atheist mind, central is important:

"One of the greatest of modern mathematicians, referring to this subject, says that the point here contested was one which is for mankind of the highest interest, because of the rank it assigns to the globe that we inhabit. If the earth be immovable in the midst of the universe, man has a right to regard himself as the principal object of the care of Nature. But if the earth be only one of the planets revolving round the sun, an insignificant body in the solar system, she will disappear entirely in the immensity of the heavens, in which this system, vast as it may appear to us, is nothing but an insensible point."
(Draper, John William. History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (pp. 164-165).)

But God did not choose the big and important places, He chose little Israel, precisely because she was unimportant:

  • “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
  • “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
  • “But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
  • (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).

He chose the downtrodden, despised slaves of the mighty Egyptians to be a people for His name. Why not choose instead the Egyptians, who were everything the atheists would wish them to be: powerful, central, prominent? He does the opposite of what the atheists expect He will do. Supposing God to be consistent with His pattern of acting in the Bible, then if the earth were massive, centrally located and obviously important, He would not have chosen this as a place for His name, but somewhere else.

Celsus, the early pagan critic of Christianity, shared the atheists' paradigm, 'big=important,' and scorned the Old Testament tales of the patriarchs for that very reason: "The more modest among Jews and Christians are ashamed of these things, and endeavor to give them somehow an allegorical signification. . .Altogether absurd, and out of season is the account of the begetting of children, the conspiracies of the brothers, a father’s sorrow, the crafty procedure of mothers. God presented his sons with asses, and sheep, and camels! God gave wells also to the righteous." (Celsus, On True Doctrine). There were mighty empires in the those days, like the Hittites. Could any reasonable history of the world really ignore the Hittites and their rich history in favor of the tiny band of herdsmen who followed Abraham, 318 in number? Who was he, and why did he amount to anything? Was there any shortage of wandering Bedouin in those days, that so much ink should be spilled over this one clan? In the book that records God's promises, they counted for more than any Hittite empire: "In the rest of Genesis, we read one historical report after another where small persists in wielding enormous power. . .God's simple (albeit astonishing) promise to give Abram and Sarai a child in their old age is really the kick start of a vast family dynasty chosen to represent God on planet Earth." (Michael Guillen, Amazing Truths, p. 127).

Sometimes people in the United States look down upon the little, nickel-and-dime countries of the world and think they count for very little. The people who inhabit those countries do not think so, but this seems to be the atheist paradigm. By the atheist way of thinking, a box-car is more excellent than a baby, a slag-heap than a gazelle. Our earth is "insignificant" because out of the way:

"Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people." (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, p. 193, Wikiquotes).

Size matters, position matters. But where has God ever endorsed these yardsticks? The Bible teaches that God does not see as man sees. The atheists assure us that God (if there were any such) could not care about a small, inconsequential, out-of-the-way planet in an unimportant galaxy. How one reckons the importance of a galaxy, they do not say; but they are certain this one isn't. Perhaps they will do us the favor of relocating, and emigrate to one more prominently located. It is certainly a worldly way of thinking, but perhaps even the worldlings might want to reconsider when they realize elephants and whales are larger than their own precious selves. Not to mention great big trees, and rocks! The sea is filled with living things, not destined for any fish fry. And why did God create whales? To frolic:

"O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions— This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there." (Psalm 104:24-26).

Mary's Magnificat

Mary sang a song of praise when told she would bear the Lord:

  • “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

  • “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”
  • (Luke 1:46-55).

Ptolemy's Astronomy
The System Equant
Terrestrial Ball The Talmud
Money in the Bank Poets
Geography Dark Ages

Is it Mary's contention that God chooses the mighty, the central, the important? No, God chooses the weak, the peripheral, the discarded. And this is the constant theme of scripture:

“Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.” (Isaiah 26:4-6).

“Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:6).

“All my bones shall say, 'Lord, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?'” (Psalm 35:10).

This habit of condescension is a central trait to the God of Israel: "Probably the rabbis were at their most profound mood in their saying 'God's greatness lies in HIs condescension, as may be learned from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. To quote only Isaiah also: "Thus saith the High and Lofty One, I dwell in high and holy places, with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit." For this reason God selected as the place of His revelation the humble Sinai and the lowly thornbush.'" (Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Theology, p. 79, Kindle location 1234). The theme of reversal, familiar to New Testament readers, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." (Matthew 19:30), is also an Old Testament theme which was picked up on by readers who confine their attention to that document: ". . .as it happened that R. Jose the son of R. Jehoshua ben Levi once fell in a trance, and upon awakening was asked by his father what he had seen while in his apparently lifeless state, and he answered: 'I saw a reversed world: Those who are at the head in this world were at the bottom there, and those who are at the bottom here were at the head there.' And his father said to him: 'My child, thou hast seen the right world!'" (The Babylonian Talmud, Volume V, Section Moed, Tract Pesachim, Chapter III, Kindle location 18452).

Psalm 113 is addressed to men, not to planets:

“Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,
“Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
S“That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 113:5-9).

But it might as well be addressed to planets: "Rejoice, then, in the favourable notice God taketh of you. The highest and greatest of beings vouchsafes to regard you. Though you are poor and mean, and men overlook you; though your brethren hate you, and your friends go far from you, yet hear! God looketh down from his majestic throne upon you. Amidst the infinite variety of his works, you are not overlooked." (Job Orton, quoted in Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David (Kindle Locations 62059-62062). GLH Publishing.) Aren't those words of comfort to an obscure planet: "you are not overlooked." And besides, given the amount of fine-tuning needed to produce a dwelling-place fit for human habitation, who is to say whether the more central locales were not exposed to excessive amounts of electro-magnetic radiation or overly strong gravitational forces? Maybe this one is just right: a poor planet for poor people, the people's choice.

The Old Testament establishes that God's perspective is upside-down as compared to ours, and the New Testament continues the pattern:

  • “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
  • “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
  • “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
  • (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Russian Icon

 On the Heavens 

This is still so in the present day, indeed has always been. Theodore Parker, an American unitarian of the nineteenth century, laments the same reality in his day: "Nay, youths descended from a wealthy family seldom look that way. It is poor men's sons, men of obscure family, who fill the pulpits; often, likewise, men of slender ability, eked out with an education proportionately scant. The most active members of the churches are similar in position, ability, and culture. These are undeniable facts." (Parker, Theodore. Works of Theodore Parker (Kindle Locations 4663-4665). The Perfect Library.) God does not join in the lament, because He causes it to be this way.

And one can bring it back to the source. Mary's son was not the kind of King the atheists would expect, flaunting His prerogatives, but "meek":

"All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon." (Matthew 21:4-7, Zechariah 9:9).

Mary modeled her song of praise upon an earlier template, that of Hannah, which expresses as clearly as possible God's love for the poor and lowly, and His failure to be impressed by what impresses atheists:

  • “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
  • “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
  • “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
  • “The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
  • “They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
  • “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
  • “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
  • “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.
  • “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
  • “The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
  • (1 Samuel 12:1-10).

Friedrich Nietzsche

The nineteenth century German atheist Friedrich Nietzsche accused the Christians and the Jews of 'inverting' morality. It was self-evident to him that the master was superior to the slave. The master was strong, the slave weak; the former had won the struggle for existence, the latter had lost it, big-time. So which was better? The master, of course:

  • “Whatever else has been done to damage the powerful and great of this earth seems trivial compared with what the Jews have done, that priestly people who succeeded in avenging themselves on their enemies and oppressors by radically inverting all their values, that is, by an act of the most spiritual vengeance. . . .It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the-gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that 'only the poor, the powerless, are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed. But you noble and mighty ones of the earth will be, to all eternity, the evil, the cruel, the avaricious, the godless, and thus the cursed and damned!'. . .”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, First Essay, Section VII, pp. 167-168).

  • “What could equal in debilitating narcotic power the symbol of the 'holy cross,' the ghastly paradox of a crucified god, the unspeakably cruel mystery of God's self-crucifixion for the benefit of mankind? One thing is certain, that in this sign Israel has by now triumphed over all other, nobler values.”
  • (Friedrich Nietzsche, A Genealogy of Morals, First Essay, Section VIII, p. 169.)

It is indeed a common-place of scripture that God lifts up the poor, the weak, the insignificant, to make of them His people:

"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5).

Perhaps the atheists will explain that God really wanted the powerful and rich, but had to settle for these unworthy ones. Certainly Friedrich Nietzsche thought they were pitiful. This popular nineteenth century author speaks for the atheist camp, but not for the Christian camp. This it he sixty-four thousand dollar question: who is inverting and who has got it right, Nietzsche or the Christians? It is certain that somebody is turning things upside-down, because the atheist standard of value cannot be reconciled with the Christian one:

"Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?  Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 29:16-19).

Nietzsche despised Christianity, ranting and railing against it at length in this fashion: "In the Christian world of ideas there is nothing that has the least contact with reality — and it is in the instinctive hatred of reality that we have recognized the only motivating force at the root of Chrisianity." (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 612). However he did get one thing right about it: God does delight in the small, the poor, the down-trodden, the planet which is less than impressive.

Lowest Place

Jesus did not instruct His followers to take the noblest place open to them, but the lowest, "When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:8-11). There is a disconnect between the word's way of reckoning importance and God's. This instruction is not directed to planets, but if our Earth had obeyed it, this beloved planet would not have situated itself at the center but in the most inconspicuous place possible.

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6).

The Lord's followers have accordingly not despised small things; rather, they have seen in them unique evidence of God's "creative greatness:"

"Take any living thing whatever, be it the tiniest you can find, it must needs be fed and sustained by some food or other: show me, then, their organs for taking into their system, digesting, and ejecting food. What must we say, therefore? If it is by such instruments that life is maintained, these instrumental means must of course exist in all things which are to live, even though they are not apparent to the eye or to the apprehension by reason of their minuteness. You can more readily believe this, if you remember that God manifests His creative greatness quite as much in small objects as in the very largest." (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, Chapter 10, p. 339 ECF).


Who, specifically, do we emulate when we minimize our own stature and humble ourselves? No one impressive, as the atheists imagine?:

  • “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
  • “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
  • “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
  • “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
  • “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
  • And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
  • (Philippians 2:3-8).

 Scipio's Dream 

The place to see God's glory in its fullest in this world is not the reaches of interstellar space, but Golgotha:

"And had I the universe to range over, where should I go to obtain the fullest exhibition of the Godhead? Would I soar on angel-wings to the heights of heaven to look on its happiness, and listen to angel's hymns? Would I cleave the darkness, and— sailing round the edge of the fiery gulf— listen to the wail, and weep over the misery of the lost? No; turning away alike from these sunny heights and doleful regions, I would remain in this world of ours; and, traveling to Palestine, would stand beneath the dome of heaven with my feet on Calvary— on that consecrated spot, where the cross of salvation rose, and the blood of a Redeemer fell." (Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, Kindle location 1707-1716).

Imaginary Friends

There is an anti-Christian argument that one still hears to the present day. It invokes the many planets circulating round their warming suns, and the inhabitants thereof, as witnesses against the truth of the Christian gospel. This argument can take the form of an argumentum ad populam where the votes of these (no-show) alien beings are added to the atheists' own, forming a majority. If that happens to you, Dear Reader, demand a recount! The atheists' imaginary friends are so very shy, they may fail to show up at the polls. When it comes to standing up and being counted, aliens are found to be downright skittish. Tell your atheist friend you will not accept extra-terrestrial votes without a signed affidavit, and in any case the argumentm ad populam is fallacious.

Another form of this argument is a time-efficiency computation, judging that it would be excessively time-consuming for the Lord to be incarnated, crucified and risen on each of these very numerous globes, or if one is omitted, where is the justice in that:

  • “But, in the midst of those reflections, what are we to think of the christian system of faith that forms itself upon the idea of only one world, and that of no greater extent, as is before shown, than twenty-five thousand miles. . .From whence then could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent on his protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world, because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an apple! And, on the other hand, are we to suppose that every world in the boundless creation had an Eve, an apple, a serpent, and a redeemer? In this case, the person who is irreverently called the Son of God, and sometimes God himself, would have nothing else to do than to travel from world to world, in an endless succession of death, with scarcely a momentary interval of life.”
  • (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part I, Chapter XVI).

Explain to your 'free-thinking' friend that he will need to serve as go-between to establish communications between the aliens and yourself, inasmuch as, for some reason, they don't visit you. Ask him to ask them what is their moral status: are they like the righteous angels who never fell, like the rebellious angels who fell without offer of restoration, like men, fallen but redeemed, or like animals? Ask them if their planet is studded with bill-boards reading 'Repent!' or only ads for casinos and dirty movies. Your atheist friend will explain the conditions on their planet in loving detail (they have their own religion; it involves mind-melds, etc.); when you get to the part where you ask, 'How do you know any of this?' perhaps you will be too kind to verbalize the inquiry.

Douglas Wilson

This pro-slavery Reformed author turns Hannah and Mary on their heads, arguing that God is for the mighty and powerful, over against the weak and helpless. God, it turns out, is a great proponent of hierarchical social organization, including slavery. Douglas Wilson aspires to learn from the antebellum South the values of "culture, order, hierarchy, honor, and agrarianism" (Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, Kindle location 266). According to this author, the Southern cause in the Civil War was righteous, and the North was simply evil:

"So I also take it as a given that the South was right on all the essential constitutional and cultural issues surrounding the war, and this is my reason for calling myself unreconstructed." (Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, Kindle location 266).

This author enthusiastically commends Robert Lewis Dabney, a rabid racist, for his brilliant, and altogether successful, defense of the institution of Southern slavery. However, realizing that Dabney, who likens Africans to apes, may not be to everyone's taste, he hints at an alternative defense, which the Southerners did not offer, but might have, had they been so fortunate as to have him for their coach, whispering the successful strategy into their ear. Instead of racism, which has fallen out of favor, they should have based their defense on the cultural inferiority of Africans: "Both Northerners and Southerners were misled by the obvious inferiority of black culture at that time. . ." (Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, Kindle location 249).

However, had the Southerners picked up on this delayed hint thrown out via time machine, they would have found themselves on nearly as much of a collision course with the Bible as they did historically with their racism. What is the evidence that God favors glittering and advanced cultures, like Babylon and Egypt, over a small, wandering pastoral tribe with limited cultural resources? Why is it called 'oppression' when these learned and accomplished cultures enslave the backwards little tribe? Unlike Douglas Wilson, God does not despise the 'inferior;' woe to the 'superior' who set themselves atop the social 'hierarchy.'

Whether the Southerners of the day would have been grateful upon receipt of Mr. Wilson's gift of a new and improved pro-slavery argument is doubtful. No one in the American South would have looked with anything less than horror upon the prospect of a white, Christian, Anglo-Saxon man being reduced to slavery; these people were proud of their heritage, proud of the Magna Carta; they were slaves to no one, they were free men. Slavery was for other people, not for them. They were not looking for a race-neutral defense of slavery, and may not have accepted one if offered. Mr. Wilson's proposal to retain their conclusion, that slavery is morally benign, while removing its sole foundation: racism,— the conclusion helpfully resting for a moment aloft in mid-air, while the new and improved foundation is fitted in,— would likely have gone over like a lead balloon. So Mr. Wilson's proposed improved pro-slavery argument lacks a constituency, thankfully, because neither Bible-believers nor antebellum Southerners have any reason to embrace it.

The controversy between Mary's song and Calvinists goes back to the founder, who just did not get it. How many times have we seen the manger scene depicted in Christmas cards, and marvelled that the God of the universe would condescend to be born in circumstances even lower than commonplace poverty? Who has ever found it disgusting? I remember as a small child hearing the song, 'Jesus our brother, kind and good, was humbly born in a stable rude, and the friendly beasts around him stood,' and thinking it beautiful. Who has ever thought, how revolting? One man: "And found Mary. This was a revolting sight, and was sufficient of itself to produce an aversion to Christ. For what could be more improbable than to believe that he was the King of the whole people, who was deemed unworthy to be ranked with the lowest of the multitude? or to expect the restoration of the kingdom and salvation from him, whose poverty and want were such, that he was thrown into a stable?" (John Calvin, Harmony of the Gospels, Volume 1, Heritage Library, p. 120). One prissy, snobbish, cold and arrogant man, lacking in empathy. And thus was born a theology, which reasons thus: God says that He chooses the poor over the rich, the weak over the strong, but nobody could possibly really do that because the poor are contemptible. Therefore the true basis of His choice is inscrutable, hidden from our view:

He Humbled Himself

Among the things which, having been great, became small and made themselves of no account, are included. . .God, who was rich but made Himself poor:

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9).

This preference for the small and the lowly is not exercised from a distance:

"Isaiah 57:15, a text we have already encountered in relation to Philippians 2:5-11, reads:
. . .thus says the exalted and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are crushed and lowly in spirit. . .'
"The God of Israel, indeed, is characteristically the God of the lowly and the humiliated, the God who hears the cry of the oppressed, the God who raises the poor from the dust, the God who from his throne on high identifies with those in the depths, the God who exercises his sovereignty on high in solidarity with those of lowest status here below." (Richard Bauckham, God Crucified, Kindle location 793).

This is how intensely God means it, and how resolutely and incorrigibly He refuses to agree with the atheists on this point:

"Thou didst thyself abase,
And put off all thy robes of majesty,
Taking his nature to give him thy grace,
To save his life didst die.
. . . Thus all thy mercies man inherits
Though not the least of them he merits." (Thomas Washbourne, quoted Kindle location 2950, The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon).


If the atheists cannot even fathom that a baby, a generic, non-remarkable human infant, is weightier in the spiritual realm than a box-car, then how will they wrap their minds around the incarnation? The great God, the mighty God, humbled Himself, lowering Himself even to our debased estate, suffering Himself to be born amongst the animals in a manger. Why was He not born in the ivory palaces, the atheist demands! If He was God, then surely He had enough clout to snag in impressive zip code. And by the way, He has to be big, like huge. Do not even try to comprehend, Atheist; it will fry your synapses:

"Man exalted himself and fell; God humbled Himself and raised him up. Christ's lowliness, what is it? God hath stretched out an hand to man laid low. We fell, He descended: we lay low, He stooped." (Augustine, On the Creed: A Sermon to the Catechumens, Chapter 6).

The theme of triumph through abasement is a familiar one in scripture:

"He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. . .Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." (Isaiah 53:2-10).

Plainly there is no resonance here with the atheist theme that God is with the high and mighty.

Blood Sacrifice Nation Israel
The Messiah Targum of Jonathan
Philo Judaeus Apostolic Preaching

This theme, that God's way is the world's way upended, is not an afterthought nor a side-line to the scriptures. We worship a crucified king:

"Jesus is portrayed by the gospels as a one-man apocalypse, the place where heaven and earth meet, the place where and the means by which people come and find themselves renewed and restored as the people of the one God, the place where power is redefined, turned upside down or perhaps the right way up." (N. T. Wright, How God Became King, p. 236).

When you read Christian devotional literature, it is surprising that atheists find the vastness of the universe to be an irrefutable objection to Christianity, given that the Christian commentators harp on the same point. For instance, in commenting on Psalm 8,

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" (Psalm 8:3-4).

Charles Spurgeon quotes,

"What is the clod of earth which we inhabit, with all the magnificent scenes it presents to us, in comparison of those innumerable worlds? Were this earth annihilated, its absence would no more be observed than that of a grain of sand from the sea shore. What then are provinces and kingdoms when compared with those worlds? They are but atoms dancing in the air, which are discovered to us by the sunbeams. What then am I, when reckoned among the infinite number of God’s creatures? I am lost in mine own nothingness!" (Christopher Sturm, quoted in Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David (Kindle Locations 2824-2828). GLH Publishing.)

Purple prose of this nature could be replicated as desired. Up to a point, the Christians and the atheists mimic one another, but when it comes to the conclusion, they diverge. The atheist notes our insignificance, and explains, that therefore God, if there were a God, could take no notice of us. The Christian notes our insignificance, though descrying also a clouded image, and marvels that God could bend down to take notice of such as us. If David was thinking at all in terms of numbers, it must have been numbers closer to Archimedes' 'Sand-Reckoner' than the post-Copernican numbers, though those are really quite sufficient to show us up as ants and grass-hoppers. Since he mentions no numbers, it is really not kosher to invent some and insert them in place; we can, like him, simply look up, and marvel. The atheist conclusion, that therefore God can take no interest in us, they do not draw. It is always better to strike at the root, than to hack away at the proliferating foliage. At what point do the two views diverge? The dispute here is about the character of God. Does God care for the small and weak, or only for the mighty and consequential? The atheists are so sure of their answer, they do not even think it a point worth discussing. But their answer, their assumption, is not Biblical.

The question. whether God likes small planets or big planets,— might well serve as an index or marker for the whole thing. The atheists are sure, big planets only, the bigger the better, because God if He exists is with the powerful and strong. The atheists, were they architects, would design brutally Stalinist buildings, big, heavy, and oppressive. The theists reply, small planets, and better still to make sure they have no comeliness, though this one is all in all quite lovely: