New 2015 – Alvin Plantinga: Science & Religion – Where the Conflict Really Lies


Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen? – Alvin Plantinga, PhD

VIDEO by Theology, Philosophy and Science

William Lane Craig – What if Faith and Reason Conflict With Each Other?

William Lane Craig:

In tonights’ debate, I tool the word ‘faith’ to mean the same thing as ‘believe’. So ‘faith in God’ – ‘believe in God’ is a belief that God exists. But, you’re quite right in saying there’s another understanding of faith that is more than propositional belief. It would be the idea of trusting in someone, committing one’s life to someone. And I would say that that kind of faith would be subsequent to propositional belief. You first believe that God exists, and then you can believe in God and put your faith in Him.

Now, in the chapter you were speaking of in (the book) Reasonable Faith, when I am speaking of faith there, I am talking about is how do we know that propositional truths of the Christian faith- like that God exists? Or that God loves me, and so forth? And what I was suggesting there is that in addition to external arguments and evidence, there is also this immediate testimony of God Himself to one, that gives you in a properly basic way a knowledge of God’s existence and the great truths of the Gospel. That was my 8th point in tonight’s debate- that God can be personally known and experienced. And I said this isn’t an argument. Rather, it’s suggesting that just like we have properly basic beliefs, like the belief in the reality, in the external world, or the reality of the past, so belief in God could be a properly basic belief grounded in the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. So, this isn’t some kind of leap in the dark sort of thing. It’s saying that God Himself can give a person a knowledge of His existence, that is independent of argument and evidence. And this is a view that’s widely defended today, especially by Alvin Plantinga, in his book ‘Warranted Christian Belief’ And I think he’s shown that there aren’t any philosophical objections to this point of view. It’s a perfectly coherent religious epistemology.

VIDEO by drcraigvideos What if faith and reason conflict with each other? What is the relationship between reason and faith? In this clip Dr William Lane Craig answers this question during the Q&A time of his debate with Dr Alex Rosenberg. On February 1st, 2013 at Purdue University, Dr Craig participated in a debate with Dr Rosenberg on the topic, „Is Faith In God Reasonable?” Over 5,000 people watched the event on the Purdue University campus along with tens of thousands streaming it live online from around the world. For more resources visit: (photo above via wikipedia)

Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen? Alvin Plantinga

Speaker: Alvin Plantinga – The Heidelberg Catechism: „Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty–all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”

Classical Christian idea here: Regularity, dependability; but also special action. Miracles in scripture: the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’s walking on water and changing water into wine, miraculous healings, rising from the dead. But not just in Bible times: according to classical Christians, also now responds to prayers; healings; works in the hearts and minds of his children (internal testimony of the Holy Spirit; sanctification). God constantly causes events in the world. (photo via

Alvin Carl Plantinga is an American analytic philosopher, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College.

Born: November 15, 1932 (age 80), Ann Arbor

Education: Yale University, Jamestown College, Harvard University,University of Michigan, Calvin College

Ravi Zacharias at Princeton University April 4,2013: Why I am not an atheist + Princeton University Open Forum Q&A

Zacharias ravi

Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale spoke an overflow crowd at Princeton University titled, „Why I’m Not An Atheist.” Video from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Questions and Answer Session at Princeton


  1. 00:00 Have you had doubts and how have you been able to get through that?
  2. 08:15 Theism vs. Deism, can you also talk about a personal God? (questioner cites Bishop John Shelby Spong‘s rejection of theism)Ravi: The difference between atheism and this new spirituality is the process, but they end up with the conclusion being the same. In atheism there is no God, and in the new spirituality there is no God.
  3. 13:10 Belief vs. Doubt. During your entire talk, you gave reasons for belief which were instrumental, for example: This is the good that would happen if you believe. But you didn’t argue that it is truth, nor did you address the strongest argument that there is no god- the existence of evil.Ravi: If evil is real, and not just a construct in our mind, and something to be shunned,and is morally deviant, then there is no way to sustain that without a moral being who is the Creator of this universe.
  4. 26:10 A question on the problem of evil from the Christian world view. It seems like Alvin Plantinga has given a good response on the problem of moral evil, but is there a good response when it comes to natural evil, apart from the free will decisions that moral creatures make?
  5. 31:40 You say that heartless egregious acts, like the Holocaust, are brought about by people without a moral reference point in God.But, how do you explain all the death and destruction that has been done in God’s name, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, suicide bombings and christianizing the ‘savage’?
  6. 40:55 If the essence of God is to create, and to realize the infinite potential for Creation, as that is His identity. And yet, as He created the world, He desired His children to continue His work, would not the act of Creation be an act of vanity?
  7. 48:55 When you say that atheists have no basis for morals, it seems that you’re ignoring most of the existence of mankind. And we can look at the world and see that peace leads to prosperity in nations, and trust and safety in communities allow art, science, and technology to prosper. You attack atheists like Hitler, and the rich, but it seems a bit of a stretch to say that all atheists search for happiness in murder, power, and cutthroat business. It looks like you’re attacking the weak nihilist, who looks at the universe and sees that there is no ultimate moral authority, and leaves it at that. But, you’re ignoring the strong nihilists, who look at the universe and see no moral authority and say, „This is an opportunity for us to use our reason, to use our experience to create morals, to create the society that can best further us, that can create the happiest society. So 2 questions: (1) Is it fair to ignore these strong nihilists? (2)Isn’t it more noble to use our own reason and experiences to form morals, than put blind faith in an old outdated text?

Related posts from the last 12 months

  1. Ravi Zacharias – How do you know that Christianity is the one true worldview?
  2. Ravi Zacharias VIDEO from UCLA January 2013 – Is Tolerance Intolerant? Pursuing the Climate of Acceptance and Inclusion
  3. Ravi Zacharias on the Dichotomy of Good and Evil
  4. Ravi Zacharias – How Do We Challenge This Generation?
  5. Ravi Zacharias and Friends
  6. Ravi Zacharias – Absolute truth in relative terms
  7. Ravi Zacharias – The discipline of a Godly man
  8. Ravi Zacharias – What does it mean to be human
  9. Ravi Zacharias – A Lesson in History: A tale of two men
  10. Ravi Zacharias – Is America abandoning God?
  11. Ravi Zacharias – “If the foundations be destroyed…” at Trinity International University Feb. 9, 2012
  12. Ravi Zacharias Lecture in Leuven 31 January, 2012
  13. Ravi Zacharias on Moody Radio October 12,2012
  14. Dr.R.C.Sproul,Dr. Albert Mohler and Ravi Zacharias – Is Evolution Compatible with Christianity?
  15. Ligonier interviews Ravi Zacharias

An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – Alvin Plantinga at USC

PlantingaSome points/notes from the Plantinga lecture, in which he argues that naturalism and evolution do not fit together:

–Plantinga defines naturalism (3:45) as the belief that there is no such person as God, or anything like God, Naturalism is stronger than atheism.  Naturalism entails atheism, but atheism doesn’t entail naturalism. You can be an atheist without rising to the heights of, or sinking to the depths of naturalism. For example, someone like Hegel, who thought there was this giant absolute that includes all the realities, but didn’t think there was an omnipotent, omniscient, holy, good person. Such a person would be an atheist, but would not be a naturalist. Naturalism, as I say is stronger than atheism.  Naturalism and evolution are usually thought of as bosom buddies, supporting each other. Evolution is always thought of as kind of a pillar in the temple of naturalism. I would argue that one can’t be a naturalist and also accept evolution, as evolution is ordinarily thought of. They conflict with each other. They go against each other. The conjunction of the two is self referentially incoherent. Christians should not only argue against naturalism, and only assert that naturalism is false, but Christians ought to provide arguments here. We’re enjoined in the New Testament to always be ready with a ‘reason for the hope that is within us’. So, I think the Christian community- Christian students and the like, should be willing to give arguments of this sort.

According to theism, we human beings have been created by a holy, good, all powerful, all knowing being, namely God, who has made us in His own image (made us like Him), and has aims and intentions- He intends certain things, aims that certain should happen, and aims that certain things should happen, and can act in such a way to accomplish those aims. That’s part of what it means to be a person. So there is God, on the one hand, in the theistic story, who has created the world, and on the other hand is creation, that which is created. You might think of naturalism as the theistic world picture minus God. Among famous, well known naturalists there would be the late Carl Sagan, with his portentous incantation ‘the cosmos is all there is or ever has been, or ever will be’, also the late Steven Jay Gould, David Armstrong, the philosopher, the later Darwin, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, John Lucas, a former philosopher at Oxford, who says that ‘naturalism is the contemporary orthodoxy  of the academy’. Naturalism is certainly strong in the academy, certainly among philosophers

My argument will have to do with cognitive faculties, memory, perception, the faculty by which one forms beliefs, the faculty whereby one knows things, memory, perception, insight, where you learn mathematical truths and logical truths, maybe reads sympathies- whereby you know what other people are thinking and feeling, induction- where you can learn by experience. So these would be cognitive faculties.

The structure of the argument

In brief, here’s how my argument will go. I’ll argue: If naturalism and evolution, if that pair of propositions, if they were both true, than it would be improbable that our cognitive faculties (memory and so on) are in fact reliable. That they give us, for the most part, true beliefs. Once you see that, then if you accept naturalism and evolution you have a defeater for this proposition  that ‘your cognitive faculties are reliable’, a reason to give that belief up, a reason to to believe it. Once you have a defeater for that proposition for that ‘that your cognitive faculties are reliable’, then you have a defeater for any proposition that you take to be produced by your cognitive faculties. Naturally, that’s all of them. I mean, where else would they come from. So, then you have a defeater for also for naturalism and evolution itself. So, you might say it’s self defeating. It’s self referentially inconsistent. (11:00)

YOU CAND READ more of these notes from here-

Video Published on Feb 23, 2013 – Alvin Plantinga is known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics, and Christian apologetics. Notably, he has argued that some can know that God exists as a basic belief in the same way that people usually claim to know that other minds exist. VeritasForum·

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How Immorality Leads to Unbelief

An explanation as to why people become atheists that has a biblical nature through a recap of parts of Dr. Speigel’s book „The making of an atheist”:

Dr James S Spiegel The Making of An Atheist

The following are my notes from the lecture video below:

Dr Speigel rejects the idea that people become atheists or agnostics because there is some kind of ambiguity regarding the evidence that it is not clear in creation that there is a God. He thinks it is abundantly clear, in looking at a few biblical passages. The Bible tells us that it’s clear, so that begs the question: Why are there atheists?

Does Scripture speak to this issue? It does. Paul writes, „18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

It seems pretty clear there that Paul is saying you don’t have any excuse to be an atheist or even an agnostic. Paul’s not talking about a „flu orbed Christian Trinitarian Theism„, we need special revelation for that.You need Scripture to get a doctrine of the trinity or to know that Jesus is God incarnate. Ah, but you don’t need special revelation to know there’s a God. Even Helen Keller,  who could not hear and she could not see, when her teacher, Annie Sullivan, taught her the name of God, Helen said, „Now I know the name of Him whom I’ve known all along”. So, there’s a general revelation that even she was able to become aware of and somehow become aware of the God behind all of her tactile sensations. How much more so are we without excuse if we see and, or hear all the beauty of creation.

Here’s another passage that speaks to this Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul again says: 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Before I unpack this, here’s a passage from one of the Gospels. This is Jesus speaking: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of lightbecause their deeds were evil. John 3:19

Again, you have this terms of behavior impacting belief and attitude. Usually we think about it the other way around. We usually think that because a person loved darkness, they did the evil deeds. Well, it works the other way around too, apparently, according to Jesus and the other biblical writers. John 3:20- Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Again, deeds preceding this discovery  that whoever lives by the truth will come into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what has been done has been done in the sight of God.

This is the core claim of my book „The making of an atheist”, is that unbelief, when it comes to God, unbelief is the consequence of disobedience. It is a kind of rebellion that results in atheism. And, to borrow a theme that Alvin Plantinga has been developing in recent years, particularly in his book „Warranted Christian Belief„, it is a contemporary philosophical classic. He talks about the cognitive consequences of sin, you know the fact that sin has an effect on the body, we get sick and we die. The fact that human beings die a death at all is a consequence of sin. But, we don’t immediately think of the effect of sin on the mind, the so called noetic effects of sin, but sin has had an assault on or minds as well. It corrupts us cognitively. It screws up the way we think and this is especially the case when it comes to moral and spiritual matters.

Plantinga also talks about something the reformer John Calvin talks about in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. That is the „sense of the divine”, we’re all born with a kind of innate sense or awareness of God. I am sure a lot of you are parents and some of you with small children are going through this right now, kind of introducing them to the very idea of God, telling the Bible stories, starting when they are very young. It certainly (also) bears out the idea that if we are image bearers of God that we would have a special awareness of God.

But, this is something that like all of our cognitive abilities it can be damaged, it can be corrupted, it can be warped. And it can be undermined by various factors, not the least of which is indulgence in sin. And so, all of the clear evidence for God and creation when we sin and we indulge over and over in certain sins and we are unrepentant, we’re going to be less likely to perceive the clear evidence for God because our sense of the divine has been dampened and tampered.

And, so I will explore some of the psychological research to unpack this thesis and there is a very provocative claim that was made by a psychologist, a former atheist Dr. Paul Vitz and other former atheists I have had discussions with, colleagues of mine at Taylor, I have asked if this tailors to their experience and I haven’t met anyone that said „No”.  Paul Vitz says that there is a unique dynamic here, or a kind of correlation between atheistic belief or attitude and a certain broken relationship with his father. He is really taking the cue from Feuerbach and Freud. Freud is well known for trying to reduce religious belief and belief in God, to try and explain it away in a cosmic projection of one’s feelings or thoughts about one’s father. But could it be that it’s actually atheists who are making sort of projections to the absence of God because of a significantly broken father relationship? He calls it a defective father hypothesis. Atheism is precipitated by broken relationships with fathers. One needs the nuance to be very careful here. He is not saying, he makes it clear over and over in his book. He is not saying that anyone who has a broken father relationship is going to be an atheist. But rather, those who are atheist, and particularly the more militant sorts, in every one of those cases, apparently there is some sort of broken relationship with the father either because the father died, the father was abusive, the father left home, some significant break. And the reason he comes to this conclusion, he looks at dozens of major atheists in the modern period, all the way up to the 20th century and in every case- Hume, Feuerbach, Camu, Dewey, Russell, Freud, Marx- all of these guys, either their dad died when they were very young or their dad left or was extremely abusive, everyone of them.

And then as a kind of control he looks at the major theists, in particular, Christian theists of the period and everyone of them had a decent father relationship or if their dad did die, there was a really strong, positive male father figure in their life. And again, this is not saying that if you have a defective father it’s guaranteed or that it’s even likely that you’re going to be guaranteed that you will be an atheist. But, rather that if anyone is an atheist, then there is some sort of causal connection with a defective father situation. At least food for thought; it’s a very interesting thesis.

Then, there is Paul Johnson’s „Intellectuals”. It, too is very provocative. He looks at a number of intellectuals in the modern period, notes that in so many cases where you have scholars that are often presented as authorities on how human beings should live, so many of them were absolutely debauched in their personal lives, from Russo, to Shelley, to Ibsen, to Hemingway that their philosophies, their moral ideals were in so many ways attempts to kind of try to rationalize their own behavior. E. Michael Jones said the same things in degenerate moderns. He picks up where Johnson leaves off. The books are important studies of some of the leading figures in western thought. Even as disturbing as they are, in reading both of these books I felt almost dirtied learning about the person and the lives of these people, but it helps you understand why their thinking is so skewed on so many issues that they researched and wrote upon. It’s the whole range: political, philosophers, poets, novelists, theologians, psychologists and sociologists and anthropologists like Margaret Mead, etc.

So the lesson here is that what appears to be rational inquiry may actually be rationalization of one’s own bad behavior. Again, provocative and even controversial idea, but I really think that their data and their arguments are sound and it certainly helps to fill out this biblical model of atheism, or even more generally, skepticism about the existence of God as being the result of bad behavior.

William James is my all time favorite philosopher. He is an American pragmatist, late 19th, early 20th century and he wrote the classic „Varieties of religious experience”. You wanna read something that’s scholarly, but riveting? It will keep you up, it’s a page turner. He’s got all these accounts of people who have had these amazing mystical experiences, not just within the Christian tradition, but in others as well. This guy was open minded because he came to believe very fervently (that) there had to be some kind of supernatural reality that Christianity and other religions are informed by.

There’s another essay he wrote called „The will to believe”, where he argues that in many cases, our beliefs are the result of a kind of willing, active desire. In many cases, people don’t arrive at their beliefs as a result of dispassionate review of the evidence, it’s a result of willful choice and this can be on the positive side or on the negative side.

How is it that atheists become so obstinate? Some are more open minded, but others don’t want to take seriously or engage with the evidence  in a fair minded way. Here I borrow from philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn and his idea that we all are operating in light of theoretical paradigms or models, and I say worldview. He is the one that introduced the concept of paradigm into the now popular parlance, but this was a strictly philosophical term up until the 1980’s. His idea is that scientists always view their data through their theoretical paradigm and so they are blind to evidence  that might undermine their theory. And this is why theoretical paradigms hold on so long and why, in spite of counter evidence, old paradigms die hard because people are passionate and emotional and not just hawk like totally objective scientists.

Kuhn talks about this: you can get hardened into a paradigm where you are really blind to counter evidence and I call this paradigm induced blindness. I am not saying it just applies to the atheists either; it applies to the marxist, it applies to the hindu, it applies to the Christian and everybody else. I tell my students I am closed minded on at least the creedal points. In fact, at this point in my worldview career I can’t even imagine a world without God; I can’t even imagine life without Jesus as Lord and without Him having risen from the dead. So, I suppose my mind is closed on those things too. I think that’s paradigm induced insight.

On self deception – there’s a lot of interesting research that’s been done on this phenomena and there’s a number of different paradigm theories on models of self deception. The one that I find most convincing is the one that says that self deception is a kind of motivated bias where someone believes that in some sense they know it isn’t true because they have a motivated bias against the truth. So a classic example of this would be the mother or the father whose son or daughter has been arrested for dealing drugs, not for the first time, but for the 3rd or 4th time, and they’re still saying,”Oh, it’s just the crows they’re running with, the drugs were planted in the car again”. You would say that he or she is self deceived; they have a motivated bias to believe their son or daughter is innocent. Who wants their kid to be guilty of such a thing? But this can apply to a level of worldview and if you are so devoutly indulged in a sinful lifestyle, whether it’s sexual or otherwise, they would not want to give an account to a God who exists.

The positive side of all that is, if we obey as Christians and live virtuously, we will experience a kind of cognitive benefit. And the Scriptures, particularly in the Wisdom literature refer to the fact that, as we obey God He will grant us wisdom and understanding. That God grants wisdom and understanding to the simple. This is just a fulfillment of the biblical promise that if you obey God He grants understanding and insight. Even Jesus says, „If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will (and here’s the cognitive fit) find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak of my own”, and there are other passages that point in this direction. As you read Scripture, keep an eye out for their recurrent theme that obedience brings insight and understanding, cognitive benefits.

Lastly, if you are a theist, you have a right to complain to God about things that go wrong and Psalms are full of them. We are blessed with the privileges to ask, „Why o Lord?…is this happening in my life” and we have the privilege to thank Him for all the beauty and the wonder of nature and that’s something the atheist doesn’t have, but can have, of course, if they come to God and repent and find forgiveness in Him.

Justin Barrett – Why Would Anyone Believe in God? – Veritas at UC Davis

Justin L. Director of the Thrive Center for Human Development, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science, and Professor of Psychology at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. He previously held a post as senior researcher of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind and The Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. Barrett is described in the New York Times as a „prominent member of the byproduct camp” and „an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” He considers that “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”

Here is just one quote from his work: „There is actually a growing body of research that suggests that we have this tendency to see design and purpose all over the place from very young ages”.

Contrast this with * Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Below you will find the video and extensive notes from this very fascinating lecture from the Veritas Forum,  where you can find more apologetics resources.

Intro: The cognitive science of religion

Justin Barrett: I would like to give a broad brushstrokes introduction to the cognitive science of religion, an area that I’ve ben working in the last 15 years. (Main audience is comprised of students taking UC’s Psychology of Religion course).

Why religion is natural, science is not. „Religion like technology arises in every human culture. Religion is a universal phenomenon among human groups, which may well have existed from very nearly the emergence of our species in prehistory”. (McCauley p.149) WHY?

This year, if you keep your eyes on Amazon and so forth, you’ll see that there have been a number of books in this area. It’s getting hot and not just with psychologists and cognitive scientists and anthropologists and comparative religionists, but, also with philosophers and theologians who are starting to wonder, „What is this stuff all about?”  And, really what these scholars are trying to address is a pretty obvious phenomena once you bring it out. And that is: „Why is it that wherever you go , whatever culture you’re in, maybe even whatever historical epoch you are in, there are religious people. And not just a few.

A 1999 Gallup Survey International suggests that upwards of 90% of the world’s population today believe in some kind of a god or supernatural force, let alone historically. This is a pervasive thing that people believe in gods of one sort or another. Why is too, that  children seem to be especially receptive to religious ideas? They pick it up very easily and very naturally.

Here’s a quote from Paul Bloom, Developmental Psychiatrist at Yale University (from Michael Brooks’ article in the New Scientist in Feb 7, 2009 issue: Would a group of children raised in isolation spontaneously create their own religious beliefs?  „I think the answer is yes”. (p 33) WHY ?

Causes and reasons are important when we are talking about belief.

Reasons vs. Causes of belief

  • All thoughts and beliefs have causes: biological, psychological, evolutionary, social
  • But we can still have good reasons for beliefs: experiences, intuition, scientific evidence, logical arguments, testimony of authority, etc.
  • Focus here will be on causes

All beliefs have causes. All ideas have causes. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have good reasons or bad reasons for those beliefs and ideas. I want to give you a scientific account as to why it is that people tend to believe in gods. At the end we might  start thinking about how those causes matter to whether or not such beliefs are reasonable. But, I want to be clear that those are two separate issues.

The first hat I want to put on is my scientist hat.

The naturalness of religion thesis

„People are disposed to generate and accept religious ideas because of how their minds naturally work in common human environments.” This is not just my idea. This is a convergent idea that many researchers and myself are coming to.  The claim here is, we all, by virtue of being human beings, living in a common world, all have certain kinds of cognitive equipment that develops. Psychological machinery. That predisposes us toward generating or accepting religious ideas. That’s why religious ideas are so recurrent. At least one of the reasons or causes as to why.

There is a sub variety of this thesis. A different wrinkle that I have been emphasizing lately, which I call:

The born believers thesis 

click „More” to read the notes from the entire lecture.

Mai mult

Ravi Zacharias – „If the foundations be destroyed…” at Trinity International University Feb. 9, 2012

 Dr. Ravi Zacharias, an alumni of TIU,  returns to TIU for another lecture and an update on his ministry – RZIM. He announces that Os Guinness and John Lennox have joined RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) as they further train 3 young phD’s coming out of  prestigious universities in order to ensure the next generation is prepared in biblical apologetics. Three young phD’s coming on board at RZIM are experts in Islam, with one being expert in Sharia law (whom the House of Commons and the House of Lords are using as a consultant in the UK). RZIM’s North American base will be at Trinity International University (TIU) in Deerfield, Illinois (a short drive from Chicago). Dr. Zacharias aim is to develop as many young apologists as possible.

The first post modern building

Many years ago at an open forum at Ohio State University, with Alvin Plantinga and Hugh Ross, as this businessman was driving us to the venue, past a new building, he informed us that it was the Wexler center for the Arts. He informed us that Time magazine described it as the first post modern building. I asked him, „What is a post modern building?” He said, „The architect believed since life itself has no purpose or meaning, why should our buildings have any purpose and meaning. So he designed the building without any particular purpose in mind. There are stairways that go nowhere, there are shapes of rooms that are absolutely unusable.

People come to see this building but, it serves no particular purpose. When asked what I think I said, „I have only one question for the architect. Did he do that with the foundation as well?”  Did he just do it whimsically? Or did he have to follow certain guidelines because the infrastructure can look magnificent, but, if the foundation doesn’t hold the whole thing will collapse and there’s no city council that I know that will allow you to do it on a whim, without having a purpose to sustain what you are putting above it. This is the backdrop to Dr. Zacharias’ lecture.

In the Scriptures we are reminded that if the foundations be destroyed, what should the righteous do? Last week I was  in Belgium. What a scene in Europe and Belgium is at the helm of that. Fascinatingly, 25% of the population of the city of Brussels right now claims to be Muslim and the rest of them are of an anti theistic mind. You should have seen the questions. They were actually in a state of shock that you are presenting a defense for the existence of God. I had a 20-30 minute conversation with a doctoral student who was just astounded that I actually believed there was such a thing as a moral  framework to reality.  And you tend to say to yourself, „What foundation does this person use to really build his or her life upon? What is the point of reference from which they make their choices? Is every choice ad hoc? Do you just face the options of the day and determine at whim- this is the  path I’m going to take, this is what I’m going to choose?”

Uploaded by  on Feb 23, 2012

Solzhenitsyn: It is because we, have forgotten God

You know, the entire economic crisis today, globally, was built upon a false premise that you can borrow without necessarily having to be able to afford it. That you can keep printing an instrument of trust with nothing to really back it and you watch this implosion taking place globally and when you talk to political leadership and others in high office ….I’ll never forget the scene on television when Mr. Paulson was literally kneeling in front of Nancy Pelosi saying, „I beg you, please pass this bill or  we’re finished… I am not an economist, I don’t understand all of these theories and I say to them, „How did we get here?” We wake up one morning and we find that the whole globe is in a financial mess.

There are some foundational issues about life itself and I often hark back and think about Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he gave his talk at Harvard, which wasn’t very welcomed. Here’s what he said in the midst of that talk, „The West is on the verge of collapse, created by its own hands. Between good and evil there is a unreconcilable contradiction. One cannot build one’s national life without regard for this distinction. We, the oppressed people of Russia watch with anguish the tragic and enfeeblement of Europe. We offer you the experience of our suffering. We would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid. This was somewhere in the 70’s. Solzhenitsyn would tell the story of his memories of his grandfather whose ideas as a child he didn’t quite understand. However, the one phrase his grandfather repeatedly said, „It’s because we have forgotten God”, stuck with him to old age. In his old age, when asked what has gone wrong in europe and the world, he said he would give the same answer his grandfather gave, „It is because we have forgotten God”.

There are foundational issues that this world has to cling to

One thing we have to give credit to Friedrich Nietzsche for is that he realized, when he popularized the phrase „God is dead”, that something ominously  (was) ahead of us. Remember the metaphors he used? Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the horizon? Is there any up or down left? Will lanterns, now, not have to be lit in the morning? Poignant ideas. What he was really saying was that we have eroded distinctions. We have nothing by which to make our judgements. Then he said this, „What sacred games will we need to invent?”

Foundations that God has laid in Scriptures

Who gave us the power to do this and to remove the greatest belief that the world has ever held. When you open the Scriptures and see the foundations that God has laid. What is it that God wants of you? I present to you 4 dimensions that he wants to have to the foundation of your life :

1) The dimension of eternity defines existence.

To build your life on eternal values. To build your whole value system on that which is not merely temporal, but that which will outlast merely what time has to offer. However we define time, what it boils down to is really a calibration or measuring change. But, the sense of the eternal, of the awe inspiring vision of ultimate reality.

C.S.Lewis’s book Apologetics was actually launched form one word – „longing”. He saw the sense of longing. He talks about how sometimes when you listen to music, it throws you back into a memory years and years ago and it plants in your mind afresh a longing that you had. It’s for a city you never been to. It’s for an experience you never had and therefore commenting on that same sense of longing in his writing on heaven he says this, „In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves, even now I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I’m trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you, the secret that hurt so much that you take revenge on it by calling it names like „nostalgia” and „romanticism” and „adolescence”.  The secret which also pierces with such sweetness that in very intimate conversation on a dimension of heaven when it becomes imminent we grow awkward and in effect laugh at ourselves. The secret we cannot hide and we cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of the name „heaven”.

That glimpse of the future, that glimpse of the eternal…When you understand eternity you define existence!

2) The dimension of morality defines essence.

Moral reasoning. The sense of ought. The sense of right. The sense of wrong. As long as there are men and women that are totally in the naturalistic framework, they try to do away with the causal argument, with the design argument. They only do it in the particular aspect to do with creation, but they will never do away with the causal argument in the laboratory. They will never do away with the design argument and try to express whenever they see intelligibility deposit intelligence. It is only in this cosmic scene of the world itself that they like to get rid of a causal connection and they’d like to get rid of a design connection. But, this keeps haunting them: the whole idea of a moral framework and that’s why maybe the Da Vinci Code and others come along because if you can push a hatpin into the heart of morality of Jesus Himself, then you’ve probably done away with the moral argument as far as the Christian world is concerned. They would have no problem finding moral duplicity if they went to the founders of the other religions, but, they want to live longer, so they don’t attack those. They will go for the Christ.


When you take the 10 commandments, what is it that is really summed up in that, in one word? Sacred. Sexuality is sacred. You remarriage is sacred. Your property is sacred. Your word is sacred. Your worship is sacred. Your time is sacred. That is what it was all about. Moses had to write 613 laws in order to try to rescue them from the one law that they broke in the day that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and became as God and redefined  everything. It took about 613 laws  and each one dying the death of a thousand qualifications because people end up justifying everything, by qualifying it. All it boils down to is that the human heart is desperately corrupt and the moral reasoning abused again and again.

3.) The dimension of accountability defines conscience

The dimension of accountability, whether in a vertical direction when your’e talking just about moral reasoning, right or wrong. I remember  a 3 hour discussion with the leading Shiite Cleric Hussein in Damascus, after which he said, „Maybe it’s time for us in the Muslim world to stop asking „if” Jesus died on the cross and to start asking :why? And, as men like him are probably looking out of the window and seeing lives slaughtered in Syria, and men and women just mangled on the streets for political tyranny, all over again, I wonder whether he is thinking now, himself, as the cross for he answer for the evil that is in the heart of man. For forgiveness. For grace. For transformation.

For those of you studying here (TIU), no matter where you defend the faith, no matter where you present a defense of the Christian faith, never end without telling them about the cross. At the heart of the Gospel is precisely that message that your heart and my heart are desperately wicked and the son of man came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. To offer you and me that forgiveness and that grace and that cleansing and the imperative of transformation. This is at the heart of the Gospel message. Forgiveness is a gift, unearned. You and I are accountable before God, and there’s a cross offered for you and me for redemption and that daily reminder that, „but for His grace, we would be condemnable, also”.

 4) The dimension of charity defines beneficence

It is very easy in our time to get angry with the opposition. You look at those who seek to eradicate what we believe and that anger wells up within you. You know, apologetics, if it’s not undergirded by love is really nothing more than a sword intended to decapitate the person in front of you. That’s not what apologetics is all about. It has to be undergirded by love. I love the way the Lord handled the woman at the well. So gently, so graciously so that she goes and says, „Come and see the One who knew everything I had done. Maybe Messiah has come.”

There is the gift of love in the Gospel and one of the main reasons the church suffers today, often, is that we have not even displayed that love to each other; let alone to the world. If we are going to win this it will be with the conquering, disarming love of Jesus Christ. Life is not gratuitous and purposeless. It is built on the foundation of an eternal God who revealed to us a moral law and reminded us of how we had fallen and would love to reach out to us again and bring us back to Himself.

William Lane Craig on the Historical Jesus (Christian Apologetics for my atheist friends)

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic

Image by jakebouma via Flickr

-As the recounting of Jesus’ birth takes place in many Christian homes I would like to offer this video as the rational reason why Christians believe in Christ. However, many Christians will tell you that their encounter with Christ on the day or week when they first realized that they are in need of a Savior and redemption from their unregenerate lifestyle, as good as we thought we were God opened up our eyes to understand that no matter how good we think we are, we truly are not for our hearts are desperately wicked and only through the power of Christ’s redemption can we hope to live a grace filled life to the glory of God.

But, I am very well aware that for someone who has not seen this redemptive change in their own personal life, they are in need of a more rational explanation as to why a Christian would believe in a historical Jesus who was born of a virgin, lived and taught and died and was risen from the dead and is the Savior of the world who reconciles us to God. This is a pretty long interview, but well worth listening to. You have nothing to lose by inquiring into the man called Jesus, but everything to gain if He opens up your eyes and gives you the gift of faith in order to be able to believe in Him. May he open up your eyes and your heart that you may feel His presence in your life this Christmas!

– An Interview done in 2001 as a response to ABC Anchor Peter Jennings’ special ‘The search of for Jesus’.

Uploaded by on Dec 13, 2011 – John Ankerberg Show (2001) – John Ankerberg interviews philosopher, theologian, and historian Dr. William Lane Craig on the historical Jesus of Nazareth. This interview was a response to ABC’s Peter Jennings’ 2001 episode „The Search for Jesus.” (112 minutes) Originally from

You can read many more articles and view videos and debates on my APOLOGETICS PAGE here.  Also read this interesting post about Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, who claims that Western science would not have happened without Christianity

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William Lane Craig on the Historical Jesus – In…, posted with vodpod

Divine Action in the World (i.e. miracles) Alvin Plantinga Lecture, May 12, 2011 at Western Washington University

the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.

Image via Wikipedia

(VIA)  PDF format link here.

The Heidelberg Catechism: „Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty–all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”

Classical Christian idea here: Regularity, dependability; but also special action. Miracles in scripture: the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’s walking on water and changing water into wine, miraculous healings, rising from the dead. But not just in Bible times: according to classical Christians, also now responds to prayers; healings; works in the hearts and minds of his children (internal testimony of the Holy Spirit; sanctification). God constantly causes events in the world.

I. What’s the Problem?

Many theologians think there is a science/religion problem here.

Rudolf Bultmann:

The historical method includes the presupposition that history is a unity in the sense of a closed continuum of effects in which individual events are connected by the succession of cause and effect. [This continuum, furthermore,] cannot be rent by the interference of supernatural, transcendent powers. (Existence and Faith)

Jolm Macquarrie agrees:

The way of understanding miracle that appeals to breaks in the natural order and to supernatural interventions belongs to the mythological outlook and cannot commend itself in a post-mythological climate of thought. … The traditional conception of miracle is irreconcilable with our modem understanding of both science and history. Science proceeds on the assumption that whatever events occur in the world can be accounted for in terms of other events that also belong within the world; and if on some occasions we are unable to give a complete account of some happening … the scientific conviction is that further research will bring to light further factors in the situation, but factors that will turn out to be just as immanent and this-worldly as those already known. (Principles of Christian Theology)

So does Langdon Gilkey:

… contemporary theology does not expect, nor does it speak of, wondrous divine events on the surface of natural and historical life. The causal nexus in space and time which the enlightenment science and philosophy introduced into the Western mind … is also assumed by modem theologians and scholars; since they participate in the modem world of science both intellectually and existentially, they can scarcely do anything else. Now this assumption of a causal order among phenomenal events, and therefore of the authority of the scientific interpretation of observable events, makes a great difference to the validity one assigns to biblical narratives and so to the way one understands their meaning. Suddenly a vast panoply of divine deeds and events recorded in scripture are no longer regarded as having actually happened… Whatever the Hebrews believed, we believe that the biblical people lived in the same causal continuum of space and time in 2 which we live, and so one in which no divine wonders transpired and no divine voices were heard. „Cosmology, Ontology and the Travail of Biblical Language”

So what exactly is the problem?

According to the classical Christian and theistic picture of the world, God is a person, one who has knowledge, loves and hates, and aims or ends; he acts on the basis of his knowledge to achieve his ends. Second, God is all-powerful, all-knowing and wholly good. God has these properties essentially, and indeed necessarily: he has them in every possible world in which he exists, and he exists in every possible world. (Thus God is a necessarily existent concrete being, and the only necessarily existent concrete being.) Third, God has created the world. Fourth, as noted above by the Heidelberg Catechism, God conserves, sustains, maintains in being this world he has created. Fifth, at least sometimes God acts in a way going beyond creation and conservation (e.g., miracles, but also providential guiding of history, working in the hearts of people, etc.)

The problem: God’s special action in the world: action beyond conservation and creation (C&C).

Miracle would be an example. ‘Hands-off Theology’ (Bultmann: „interfering”)

Why is this a problem? Their suggestion: Contrary, somehow, to science.

Gilkey: modern theologians and scholars participate in the world of science….Not just theologians: also philosophers.

Philip Clayton:

Science has created a challenge to theology by its remarkable ability to explain and predict natural phenomena. Any theological system that ignores the picture of the world painted by scientific results is certain to be regarded with suspicion.

He goes on:

But science is often identified with determinism. In a purely deterministic universe there would be no room for God to work in the world except through the sort of miraculous intervention that Hume–and many of his readers–found to be so insupportable. Thus many, both inside and outside of theology, have abandoned any doctrine of divine action as incompatible with the natural sciences. (Anti-interventionism)

Also many scientists. Dawkins, Atkins, et. aI, but also, e.g., H. Allen Orr:

It is not that some sects of one religion invoke miracles but that many sects of many religions do. (Moses, after all, parted the waters and Krishna healed the sick.) I agree of course that no sensible scientists can tolerate such exceptionalism with respect to the laws of nature. (New York Review of Books May 13, 2004).

So the real problem here: science promulgates natural laws; if God did miracles or acted specially in the world, he would have to contravene these laws and miraculously intervene; and that’s contrary to science.

3 Bultmann:

someone who avails herself of modern medicine and uses the wireless (not to mention, I suppose, television, computers, and digital cameras) can’t also believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament.

But is all this really true?

II. The Old Picture

Bultmann, et. al. apparently thinking in terms of classical science (Newtonian mechanics, the later physics of electricity and magnetism represented by Maxwell’s Equations). „God said, ‘Let Newton be, …'”

Newtonian World Picture: God has created the world, which is like an enormous machine proceeding according to fixed laws: the laws of classical physics. But this not sufficient for Anti-interventionism or Hands-off Theology; Newton himself (one thinks) accepted the Newtonian World Picture, but didn’t accept hands-off theology. Newton’s laws describe how the world works provided that the world is a closed (isolated) system, subject to no outside causal influence. (The partial derivative with respect to time of the LaGrangian of the system is zero).

The great conservation laws deduced from Newton’s Laws are stated for closed or isolated systems. Sears and Zemanski’s University Physics: „. . . this is the principle of conservation of linear momentum: When no resultant external force acts on a system, the total momentum of the system remains constant in magnitude and direction.” And the principle of conservation of energy states that „the internal energy of an isolated system remains constant. This is the most general statement of the principle of conservation of energy”.

So these principles apply to isolated or closed systems. Nothing, here, to prevent God from changing the velocity or direction of a particle, or from creating ex nihilo a fullgrown horse. Energy is conserved in a closed system; but it is no part of Newtonian mechanics or classical science generally to declare that the material universe is indeed a closed system. (How could a thing like that be experimentally verified?)

To get hands-off theology, we need more than classical science as such; Determinism. Common definition: the natural laws plus state of the universe at any time entails the state of the universe at any other time.

Pierre LaPlace:

We ought then to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its previous state and as the cause of the one which is to follow. Given for one instant a mind which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective situation of the beings that compose it–a mind sufficiently vast to subject these data to analysis–it would embrace in the same formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the lightest atom; for it, nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes.

4 The idea: the material universe is a system of particles such that whatever happens at any time, together with the laws, determines whatever happens at any other time; i.e. the state of the U at any time t together with the laws entails the state of the U at any other time t*. Determinism.

This picture is supposed to preclude SDA, and also human freedom.

But this picture is accurate only if the universe is causally closed: only if God doesn’t act specially in the world. If he did, that great mind would not be able to make its calculations.

LaPlacian picture: the Newtonian picture plus closure. This is the picture guiding the thought of Bultmann, Macquarrie, Gilkey, et.a!. (Interesting irony: in the name of being scientific and up to date they urge on us a picture of the world that is scientifically out of date by many decades.)

But classical science doesn’t assert or include closure (or determinism). The laws describe how things go when the universe is causally closed, subject to no outside causal influence.

J.L. Mackie:

What we want to do here is to contrast the order of nature with a possible divine or supernatural intervention. The laws of nature, we must say, describe the ways in which the world–including, of course, human beings–works when left to itself, when not interfered with. A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intrudes into it (The Miracle of Theism).

So the natural laws would take the form: (NL) When the universe is causally closed (God is not acting specially in the world), P. This seems a good description of the laws of nature and fits with the Newtonian picture. So thought of, the natural laws offer no threat to divine special action, including miracles.

The LaPlacian picture results only if we add that the universe is in fact a causally closed system and God never acts specially in it.

So there is in classical science no objection to special divine action (or to human free action, dualistically conceived). To get such an objection, we must add that the (material) universe is causally closed. That’s a metaphysical or theological add on, not part of classical science. Classical science perfectly consistent with special divine action including miracles (walking on water, rising from the dead, creating ex nihilo a full grown horse). No religion/science conflict here; only a religion/metaphysics conflict.

So why do those theologians reject miracles? Because they (mistakenly) think miracles are contrary to science.

But they have another objection: this, so they say, would involve God’s intervening in the world, and these theologians have objections to that (e.g., God would be establishing regularities with one hand, but undermining them with the other). But this is a theological objection, not drawn from science. Nothing in classical science conflicts with miracle or SDA.

III. The New Picture

Quantum mechanics: the LaPlacian (and Newtonian) picture is now superseded; in particular, the laws of qm are probabilistic rather than deterministic. Given a qm system, a system of particles, e.g., they don’t say which configuration will in fact result from the initial conditions, but instead assign probabilities to the possible outcomes. Miracles (walking on water, rising from the dead, etc.) clearly not incompatible with these laws. (No doubt very improbable; but we already knew that.)

Further, on collapse interpretations, e.g., the original Copenhagen interpretation and the collapse theories of Ghirardi, Rimini, and Weber, God could be the cause of the collapses, and of the way in which they occur. And on hidden variable interpretations, the laws describe how things go when God isn’t acting specially.

And if higher level laws supervene on (are determined by) lower level laws, nothing compatible with lower level laws will be incompatible with higher level laws. But very many philosophers, theologians and scientists who are wholly aware of the qm revolution still apparently find a problem with miracles and special divine action generally.

For example, „The Divine Action Project” (so-called by Wesley Wildman (Theology and Science 2, p. 31ff.)), a IS-year series of conferences and publications that began in 1988. So far these conferences have resulted in 5 or 6 books of essays involving some 50 or more authors from various fields of science together with philosophers and theologians, including many of the most prominent writers in the field: John Polkinghome, Arthur Peacocke, Nancey Murphy, Philip Clayton, many others. Certainly a serious and most impressive attempt to come to grips with the topic of divine action in the world. Nearly all of these authors believe that a satisfactory account of God’s action in the world would have to be noninterventionistic.

According to Wesley Wildman in his account of the Divine.Action Project: „… The DAP project tried to be sensitive to issues of theological consistency. For example, the idea of God sustaining nature and its law-like regularities with one hand while miraculously intervening, abrogating or ignoring those regularities with the other hand struck most members as dangerously close to outright contradiction. Most participants certainly felt that God would not create an orderly world in which it was impossible for the creator to act without violating the created structures of order.”

Philip Clayton: the real problem here, apparently, is that it is very difficult to come up with an idea of divine action in the world in which such action would not constitute „breaking natural law” or „breaking physical law.”

Arthur Peacocke comments as follows on a certain proposal for divine action, a proposal according to which God’s special actions would be undetectable: God would have to be conceived of as actually manipulating micro-events (at the atomic, molecular, and according to some, quantum levels) in these initiating fluctuations on the natural world in order to produce the results at the macroscopic level which God wills. But such a conception of God’s action … would then be no different in principle from that of God intervening in the order of nature with all the problems that that evokes for a rationally coherent belief in God as the creator of that order.

But what, exactly, is the problem with intervention? More poignantly, what is intervention?

Can say what it is on the old picture. The form of law: (NL) When the universe is causally closed (when God is not acting specially in the world), P.

So consider the result of deleting the antecedents from the laws and call the conjunction of the P’s ‘L’. There is an intervention when an event E occurs such that there is an earlier state of the universe S such that S&L does not entail E.But nothing like this available on the New Picture. So what would an intervention be?

(1) God does something A that causes a state of affairs that would not have occurred if God had not done A.

But then any act of conservation would be an intervention; and presumably no one’s worried about conservation.

(2) God performs an act A which is neither conservation nor creation that causes a state of affairs that would not have occurred if he had not performed A.

But isn’t this just (substantially) acting specially in the world? The alleged objection to SDA: it involves intervention. What is intervention? SDA. So the problem with SDA is SDA.

(3) God performs an act that is very improbable, given the previous states of the world.

But what’s the problem with that? Why shouldn’t God perform very improbable acts?

(4) There are various lower level generalizations not entailed by qm on which we rely: bread nourishes, people don’t walk on water or rise from the dead, etc. God intervenes when he causes an event contrary to one of those generalizations.

But again, what’s the problem with that? Are we to suppose these lower level regularities are like the laws of the Medes and Persians, so that once God has established one of them, not even he can act contrary to it? In any event this kind of objection is philosophical or theological, not scientific. There is nothing in science, under either the old or the new picture, that conflicts with or even „calls into question” SDA, including miracles.

From Ravi Zacharias – 2 short lectures, Alvin Plantinga.1)Does God have a nature and 2)What is a properly Basic Belief?

Ravi Zacharias presents these 2 short videos (approx 20 minutes each) through his ministry RFZIM: Alvin Plantinga is John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy University of Notre Dame and author of (among other books) ‘Warranted Christian Belief’.

Does God have a nature?

What is a properly Basic Belief?

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