TAWDE: The Aardvark in the Artichokes (Ch 3)

Hi All ( @Interested_In_Book_Studies )!

I’m glad to see so many of you enjoying this book and I love seeing our engagement growing with one another! This chapter was a great read and I’m excited to read all of the comments this week!

A quick overview of this chapter – This is the “one less god” argument in which our atheist friends say, “You’re an atheist like me regarding all other gods, I just go one step further in denying your god.” Andy quickly shows how that’s bad reasoning and parodies the argument by denying Mrs. Dawkins, showing how to get government benefits, and even how to escape criminal convictions. Next, he clarifies terms (very, very important) and touches on Contingent beings (created) vs Necessary beings (uncreated). Lastly, he undermines an assumption underlying this argument by showing that not all religions are the same.

So, again, here are some questions for reflection and discussion, as needed:

  1. Has this argument/catchphrase tripped you up before? If so, why so? If not, why not?

  2. All religions tend to ask similar sets of questions; however, they each provide very different answers. And, while we don’t all need to become professional apologists, have you investigated other religions enough to be able to give thoughtful and winsome answers? What are some practical steps you can take by Christmas to become more knowledgeable and engaging?

  3. Which part of this chapter (or book) is grabbing a hold of you and won’t let go? Share it with us and tell us why it’s keeping your attention and tell us how we can come beside you as you grow (specific prayer/additional resources/phone call/etc).

Finally, I wanted to share my favorite quote of the book. It’s from this chapter and I’ve paraphrased it several times in conversation; each time I get a smirk and our conversation deepens:

“It often comes as a shock to many atheists to know that there is surprisingly good evidence for God, not least because many religious folks, in between the book burnings, inquisitions, and causing plague, pestilence, and war that occupy the daylight hours for most of us, have actually spent time thinking.”


Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies!

I know we’re getting into a really busy time of year, but I want to encourage you to take 5 mins and engage with this week’s chapter on the message board. Remember, you’ll grow more by sharing and interacting with others rather than simply reading on your own :slightly_smiling_face:


HI @boabbott, yes it’s a busy time of year, and only just managed to read chapter 3 now (on saturday morning here in Oz).

  1. I’ll try to keep it brief; I’ve only looked at two worldviews fairly seriously, which in both examples has been as a result of trying to share Who Christ is, and what He has done.
  • Atheism, after having watch debates going back when I first watch Lennox debate Dawkins, I was captivated by Lennox gentle and unflappable approach. Then having attempted to share Christ in a comment section of a forum post with a fairly anti-God ex Catholic; did the RZIM core module which was very helpful.
  • in trying to share the Gospel with Mormons, I originally thought when we said ‘God’ we are talking about the same thing; and that Mormons had gone a little astray with a works based salvation.
    As part of trying to reach Mormon missionaries (19-22 year old young people), I did some serious study; and discovered that when they say ‘God’ (Heavenly Father), they refer to a man who has achieved exhaltation (godhood). I won’t rehash their entire doctrine, having put in a few thoughts before to the forum.

One thing that was already clear to me was the Mormon theology of their god being an elevated man; was they have a problem with both origins and the moral law.

This chapter clarified it further; and as you say; the difference is as you say Contingent beings vs Necessary beings (both phrases I have not heard of before now). I’m no export on Mormon doctrine, but it seems that when they refer to ‘God’, they refer to a contingent being (an elevated man) - inside the universe; and thus unable to be the Creator of the whole show.

I liked the example of the discussion of Lord of the Rings, where the characters inside the story speculate about other characters or beings creating the whole of Middle Earth; when in fact Tolkien was the author and is outside the story.

So I suppose in answer to your question about reaching people for Jesus; always ask questions to the individual; and don’t assume individual people who hold to a particular world view all think the same thing. You both learn something more about the person, and it gives more information to be able to have a great conversation; and hopefully one that reflects Christ’s love to others; and sometimes it can be quite hard to know when to stop talking, and stop when you’ve reached a question that you can see is causing them to think. Asking 15 very hard apologetic questions just causes information overload, and achieves nothing… just a few ‘thoughts out loud’, not sure if helpful to others.

  1. I’ve heard John Lennox ask the simple question in response to ‘Why is there suffering?’; a good question to ask in response is ‘What is God doing on a cross, suffering at the hands of his creation?’. in this chapter; Andy also touches on God who IS love, and entered into our suffering, with the plan for redemption. Every time I think about this, I’m moved. All (?) other worldviews seem to be starkly different; man must earn salvation, to try to ‘pull himself up by his bootstraps’. Christianity is; man cannot do this; and God reached into time and space in the Amazing person of Jesus Christ; who loved us and gave himself for us. And yes, like Andy mentions, the Apostle Paul says in the King James "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known " (1 corinthians 13:12). apparently the mirrors of the time were not mirrors like today, but were polished bronze; like a shield. So the reflection seen would have been nothing like the real thing. I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus face to face.

for prayer; we have our annual carols in the park outreach event for church; and we are praying that someone new will consider the claims of Christ at Christmas.
It’s a busy time of year; so hopefully I can keep up with the reading… thanks for leading. :slight_smile:

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@boabbott, I have just tried to post, but it is waiting moderator approval, but should be fine, so watch this space :slightly_smiling_face:

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@CarsonWeitnauer could you help us here?

Hi. Yes, this is a very busy season. I have eaten three Christmas dinners already and we’re just warming up! @matthew.western we have our Carols on the Green (like a park) soon. I bet the weather will be very different here in the UK compared to at your event :slightly_smiling_face:.

I think I have enjoyed this chapter the most so far but there is so much in it I struggle to retain it.
I thought that the following quote was excellent:
“…Dawkins has made a fairly basic mistake, namely failing to notice that when multiple explanations are offered for something - be that murder, a scientific theory, or a religious claim - we don’t immediately assume that all are equally likely.” - pg.53

In a debate between Lennox and Dawkins, Dawkins tried that line - one less God - and Lennox replied something like, “I don’t believe in man-made gods either, but the God of the Bible is not man-made.”

I, too, liked the Lord of the Rings illustration. It reminded me a little of when the Russian Cosmonaught, Yury Gragarin, is supposed to have said, after going into orbit, “I didn’t see God.” C.S.Lewis responded, “That is like Hamlet going up into the attic and saying, ‘I didn’t find Shakespeare’.”

Regarding learning about other worldviews/religions, in 2020 it is my goal to read the Qu’ran. I have started several times bit never got very far. This is the year!

Matthew asked about catergory errors and, although I think I get what a category error is, I need to brush up on that idea. If any of you can clarify more on how catergory errors work that would be much appreciated.

For prayer, I have noticed that people I speak to are very happy to tell me what they think and why they think I’m a Muppet for believing in God, but I don’t feel that I am extended the same ‘grace’ to share either why I believe or why I disagree with them. Perhaps this is a character flaw in me. I would love the boldness Paul asks for in Ephesians 6. Thanks.


@matthew.western and @Keith_Moore, I love both of your posts so much. I can see that the Lord is stirring something within each of you, even during this busy time of year. My prayer for you two (along with your specific requests) is that you are able to find quiet in the midst of the holiday season, hear clearly what God is doing within you, and you would move closer towards Him :slight_smile: