Friday, December 26, 2008

Omar hits the New Times


The New Times posted an article on the Atheists on Mill that focused on Omar entitled Omar Call Preaches Atheism on Tempe's Mill Avenue. You may recall Omar from some of my past writings about being on Mill. Omar is a former Mormon missionary (see photo below right) who has read the Book of Mormon and the Bible and is now just as passionate about God not being real. His antics on Mill are just short of legendary. In this story it tells of how he told our friend Jim, who is 83 and in a wheelchair, to get up and walk… unless he did not have enough faith. Which he now seems to regret having done. He also is known to challenge Christians to prove they have enough faith to move a penny that he places on the ground and points to on the sidewalk of Mill. And when the penny does not move he claims victory through empirical evidence. He displays signs that “damn” the “god” he no longer believes in and/or the “God” that he never really believed in and believes does not exist.
I have talk with Omar a few times briefly. Below is part of my write up from when he chatted with me for an extended period last May. It is obviously from my perspective and bias. One of the tracts being given out by the Atheists promoted that Atheists are Good People which got us started talking about “by what standard” and “where does that standard come from”. During that conversation he brought up the faith to move a mountain challenge as well. Please pray for Omar and the other Atheists on Mill.

Omar on Mill (May 2008)

…Now back to Mill Ave. As the water bottles were handed out we were able to talk a lot of people. I chatted with Ahmed, Jean, Markum and Mike. As well as Omar ever so briefly. Let's start with Omar. He is part of an organized group of Atheists that come up to Mill each week to provide a competing view and have atheist tracts to hand out that highlight what they believe to be Bible errors and atrocities. I had talked with Omar in May the last time I was on the streets and he had difficulty providing the available scientific evidence for where "matter" came from. Did it come from nothing? Or has matter always existed? Is matter eternal? After struggling to provide an explanation that did not depend on faith, Omar changed the subject as to how we can know that God exists.

He seemed certain that we could not know for sure if God exists. I asked him if he could be absolutely sure that I could not know that God exists? After thinking about it he told me he could not be 100% sure that I did not know that God exists. I explained to him how God had saved me and how I know God is real and that God's promise is that if you seek him with all your heart in repentance from sin you will find him and he will give you a new heart. He told me that I could not demonstrate to him that God exists. I told him that may be true according to whatever standard he has set as being sufficient but that my being able to or not able to demonstrate the existence of God did not determine truth. God either exists or does not exist completely independent of whether I can demonstrate that to him in a way he determines is sufficient. Omar asked what I meant by that. I asked him if a lone witness who observed a crime that no one else saw and who could not demonstrate sufficient evidence of the crime to a court of law meant that the event had never taken place and was not true? The crime was either a true event or not regardless of whether the witness was able to demonstrate sufficiently to others that it occurred. Omar acknowledged understanding.

He asked me if I was an atheist toward Buddha, Brahman and Thor. I told him I was. That those gods do not exist. Omar mentioned to me that there are millions of gods throughout the span of time and questioned how I could know that they all are false since most of them I have never heard of or examined. I told him that was a fair question and gave him an example to help him understand. The example is that there are an infinite number of wrong answers to the question "What does 1 plus 1 equal?" I do not need to know every single possible wrong answer to that question to know in advance that all of them are wrong provided I know the true answer which is 2. Knowing that the correct answer is "2", I can tell you that all other answers are wrong. Even the answers that I have not even heard of yet. The same applies to God. Having sought after the true God and having been saved and touched by Him I now know that he exists and that only He is the true God. And I told Omar that is my claim to him and that just because I claim it does not make it true. And just because he denies the claim does not make it false. It is either true or it is not true that the God of the Bible is the one true God. True or false regardless of our claims or experiences.

Omar pressed further as to getting "proof" as in having me demonstrate even a little bit of my faith and thus move a mountain for him right then and there as the scriptures say. This is a common request from my atheist friends. On the spot proof in the form of a miracle. If you read the Bible you will find that God was put to the test by people all the time and it was considered to be a sin. In a sense making God roll over and do tricks on your command. I told Omar that I was going to take a risk and make a prediction about him that he could correct me on if I was wrong but I asked him for his honesty in considering my assessment of him.

The prediction I made was that if in the next 10 seconds the car that was 10 feet from us were to flip over and spin 3 times that he would awestruck and amazed and for a moment consider that God existed since it would have happened on my command in the name God. And then after about 10 minutes to an hour and certainly the next day when he woke up he would start being skeptical. He would start thinking that there are natural explanations for what happened that better describe what occurred in place of "God did it". He would think that somehow I did some sort of David Copperfield trick on him and therefore ultimately deny the miracle and the God behind it. It would not be sufficient proof. To Omar's credit he said that it would be very compelling evidence to see the car flip 3 times but that yes he would start to discredit it for a more natural explanation his mind could understand. With that I explained the context of scripture, asking for the right things with the right motive, what true faith looks like and that we see miracles every day. That the tree we were next to and that Omar himself was a miracle but we take it for granted. He replied that the "explanation" was a "convenient" one. I told Omar that whether it was or was not convenient had no bearing on whether or not God exists. It is either true or false regardless of how "convenient" the explanation may seem to him.

I wrapped up with Omar and I thanked him for talking with us. He had talked with some of the others before I had a chance to talk with him that night.

Omar has heard the Gospel many times from many of us on the streets and we all care about him because he is lost and God is willing that he would be saved. So please pray for Omar. God has given us a gift in that he gets to hear the Gospel many times. We hope to see him many more times and ultimately in Heaven as we long for him to turn to God and pray that God would grant him repentance and faith.

Rob-roy Note: Photos added by Robert Tewart