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Palms 6 by Jeff Abshear

Why Atheists are Right

By Rick Chambers


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)


No doubt my devoted and sincere Christian friends are stunned by the above headline. So let me clarify: No, I've not abandoned my faith. I just fear many churchgoers have abandoned theirs.

For some time I've listened to the growing cry of people who do not believe in the God of the Bible, or any god for that matter. There are a number of reasons for their skepticism. Some can't get past the paucity--certainly not lack, even Richard Dawkins won't say that--of empirical evidence; if God exists, why doesn't he show himself? Some are appalled by the atrocities done in the name of religion, or those hidden by the church. Others point to incidents of hypocrisy among the pious. A great many of those who reject God have themselves been rejected--personally hurt or shunned by people claiming to believe in the loving, compassionate, forgiving Jesus, yet displaying none of his traits.

The problem is, when I open my mouth to counter these arguments, I find some of them hard to refute. Because the atheists are right. They challenge Christians to show the proof of God in their lives, only to watch many of them turn their backs, huddle inside their church buildings and declare the coming damnation of everyone but themselves.

Again, let me be clear. I believe in God. I believe in his son, Jesus Christ. I believe in forgiveness of sin, not because I deserve or earn it, but because of God's unfathomable love and grace.

But here's the kicker: I also believe that if this grace is real, and really part of my life, I must show it to those around me. That's the proof, the evidence to support the extraordinary claim. Not that it's a requirement, but because I am grateful that it was shown to me and I'm willing to live it.

By no means am I perfect at it, or even relatively good. I wish I was better. Indeed, at times I am guilty of the very things I criticize here. But I refuse to stay in that place. Each new day brings a new opportunity to reject the wrong and to enter the world treating others the way Christ would treat them, the way he's treated me.

And yet I encounter believers who would just as soon see an atheist or a homosexual or a pro-choice advocate burn in Hell than show an ounce of God's grace to them. They pick up stones to punish the sinner, and when Jesus says, "Whoever is without sin, throw first," they say, "Gladly!" and let fly. They call those of a different political persuasion "liars" or less-family-friendly names, then sing hymns on Sunday and think that's somehow okay. They weep over an abortion but cheer over an execution. They worship the Prince of Peace and dismiss the casualties of war. They demand society follow biblical tenets, fighting in courts and legislatures to make it happen, but ignore any that inconvenience them, like eschewing divorce or helping the homeless or serving the poor.

I came across an interesting quote on atheism, variously attributed to Justin Brown and Madelyn Murray O'Hair:

An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.

Anyone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ ought to give an "Amen" to that statement.

(But let's keep both the prayer and the deed, okay?)

You see, Jesus said something quite similar:

I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me. ... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:34-36, 40)

Many churchgoers are bewildered by the rise of anti-church, anti-God sentiments. That's because they don't give any reason for people to think differently. Their attitude is, "the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and imprisoned--it's their problem, it's government's problem, but it's not my problem." They are quick to point to the splinter in another's eye while ignoring the plank in their own, then gleefully give that splinter a hard, painful twist.

So what am I suggesting? Should Christians take a laissez-faire attitude in the world, a hands-off-anything-goes approach? Not at all. I'd argue that's part of the problem. But we need to get our priorities straight. There are moral absolutes, and there is evil in the world; we need to stand up for what is right, and stand up in a loving way for those who have been wronged. We need to put our comforts and our routines in the back seat so that others can join us in the front. We need to spend less time accusing and more time helping, less time judging and more time repenting. We need to embrace those who don't agree with us, respect those who despise us, and be willing to consider, if only for a moment, whether our own perspectives are God-given or self-driven.

I'm talking about a return to the basics of the faith--love God above all, love others before yourself. Will that resolve the tensions between believers and non-believers? Sadly, no. The differences will remain, but at least we can meet on some common ground. At least we can be true reflections of what we say we believe.

And if perchance Christians are hated, let's be hated for what our faith really stands for and not what it's been twisted into.


Palms 1 by Jeff Abshear


Tina's Pharm

By Christine Arseneau


I am a naturalist even though I am a pharmacist. I became a naturalist, however, more recently in my life – after I had earned my doctorate in pharmacy. 

My interest in natural medicine and nutrition started when I looked into the ‘eating for your blood type’ diet and realized how important food really is to your health. The documentaries Food Inc. and Food Matters sparked my interest even more and made me passionate about our food supply.  Then I read a book my mom gave me called Eat This and Live which further detailed some of the unhealthy, even poisonous, foods in the American diet.  I began to seek out documentaries, articles, books, anything I could find. I started to feel more and more that many things we do in the mainstream healthcare field don’t make sense and there must be a better way.

Then I had a miscarriage in January 2011 due to a partial molar pregnancy. This means that two sperm met up with one egg but instead of making twins, one fetus was formed with too many chromosomes and was not compatible with life.  There was a very low risk that the fetal tissue would continue to replicate after the fetus was removed – but this is what happened to me. 

I developed gestational trophoblastic disease where placental tissue continued to grow and was told if I did not kill it with chemo, the tissue would replicate and metastasize throughout my body like cancer and may even turn into cancer.  I felt like I had no other options. 

This was an extremely rare disease, there was very little information available on it, and all of the information that was available stated to start chemotherapy with methotrexate.  So that’s what I did – first I received a CT scan (500 times the radiation of an x-ray, sounds like a great way to get cancer down the road).  Then, 10 weeks of chemotherapy at the cancer center where there were many older and sicker patients, where I stuck out like a sore thumb at 26 years of age.  I felt there was no natural specialist that could help me with this diagnosis since it was so rare.  So I had to stick with mainstream medicine even though nothing I do is mainstream – I don’t own a microwave, try to eat organic foods only, clean with vinegar, don’t carry my cell phone on my body due to radiation, etc.  But I felt like I had no choice but to put poisonous chemotherapy into my body. 

This experience led me to look into natural therapies – wouldn’t it be nice if more information was out there so naturalist patients going through tough diagnoses wouldn’t feel so hopeless and alone?  I brushed up on the Gerson diet and added juicing to my diet and also used acupuncture to help get me through chemo. 

I felt like I wanted to explode with all of the information I had learned, like I want to shout out the truth to everyone and explain what is really going on with our food system in this country as well as our health care system.  How could I go six years in college in a health care field without a single lecture on the importance of nutrition?  How could I not know what spelt and amaranth are?  I am an educated individual, how come no one ever taught me this?  Why do I have to seek out this information on my own and how come I did not know about it until now?! 

There must be other people who don’t know about it – I need to get the message out!  I decided there must be a better way.  A better way for our farmers to use healthy procedures when growing crops, to use humane practices for raising animals for food; a better way for our healthcare system to take care of patients without giving them dangerous drugs or exposing them to unnecessary harm during certain procedures; a different way of thinking that has to do with nature; with what makes sense and not simply what makes money.  So I set out to spread my knowledge to others who may be interested in natural medicine through my blog where I challenge traditional healthcare beliefs.

Educating others is not enough so I decided now I must be part of the solution. There are so many toxins and untested chemicals in our environment today – it’s no wonder 1 out of every 2 people now develop cancer! We need to do better.

The cosmetic industry is not really regulated in our country. There are thousands of untested chemicals used that may contribute to ill health effects in humans. I wanted to create a line that goes back to nature. You basically eat anything you put on your skin – it is absorbed right into your blood stream without your liver having a chance to filer it out. So I decided if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin, and developed a skin care line using only food grade ingredients.

Learn more about Tina's Pharm and her new line of edible cosmetics at .


Read more about Tina's Pharm on Southwest Michigan's Second Wave, "How a Kalamazoo pharmacist becomes a creator of cosmetics."

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