Equipping the Church: Bad Arguments Against Christianity – Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl, President of Stand to Reason: When you think about it, there are a lot of ways to disprove Christianity. I mean, if there is no God, if Jesus never existed, we’re sunk. There are a lot of strategies that people take to try to show that your faith is in vain. Right now, there’s a full court press on Christianity, and I want you to get in the game. I don’t want you to sit on the sidelines.

If God is so good, and God is so loving, and God is an all powerful being, why in the world is there evil and suffering?

Watch Greg Koukl answer at the 2014 Worldview Fellowship Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.

VIDEO by Theology, Philosophy and Science Fellowship Church Knoxville (February 28, 2014) – Lecture by Greg Koukl

Reclame

The Introspective Argument

The introspective argument

Photo and VIDEO by InspiringPhilosophy– This is a simple philosophical argument for God’s existence and idealism. Quantum physics has shown us a lot about reality, but the same conclusion can be seen in simple logical deduction, which we call the introspective argument. This was co-written by Johanan Raatz.

The Introspective Argument

Premise 1: The Mind Exists
Premise 2: The properties of the mind are not that which matter can have
Conclusion: Mind is not reducible to matter.
Premise 3: Substance dualism is false.

These 3 premises lead us to a conclusion: If the mind exists, it cannot be reduced to matter, and if substance dualism is false, than no other substance exists. Thus, we conclude:
CONCLUSION: All is mind. The universe is a mental construct.
Without surprise to idealists, this is what the experimental results of quantum mechanics tells us. Matter is not fundamental in and of itself, but cannot exist prior to measurement (Which Inspiring Philosophy points out in his last 2 videos on his youtube channel). And the properties that matter have no independent existence. , beyond how one chooses to measure things.

Thus the argument is not just a priori logical possibility, or just an interesting thought, but, in fact predicts the  philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. The evidence suggests that the universe is fundamentally mental.

„It processes and stores information at the microscopic level in everything that we see around us. And, if the universe is processing information, then it must be thinking and it must be alive.” This would come as no surprise to the pioneers of quantum theory. Max Planck said, ‘There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” From „Das Wesen der Materie” [The Nature of Matter] , speech at Florence, Italy (1944).

Sir Rudolf Peierls said, „[T]he moment at which you can throw away one possibility and keep only the other is when you finally become conscious of the fact that the experiment has given one result.. You see, the quantum mechanical description is in terms of knowledge, and knowledge requires someone who knows.” The Ghost in the Atom Page 74-74.

Solipsism

  1. Premise 1: If solipsism is conceivable, then a possible world could exist such that only the mind exists.
  2. Premise 2: Solipsism is conceivable. (Therefore, a possible world exists with only a mind in it).
  3. Premise 3: Possible worlds cannot only consist of properties and processes, but must also include entities.
  4. Premise 4: There is no difference between the mind existing in a solipsist world and the actual world.

This stems from Leibniz’s law of Indiscernability of Identicals: If there are any two things and they are identical to each other, then for what is true of one it will be true of the other.
(x) (y) [(x=y) – P (Px) – (Py)]

Therefor the CONCLUSION is: The mind cannot be a property or a process, but rather must be an entity.

So now, the CONCLUSION for The Introspective Argument 

Premise 1: The Mind Exists
Premise 2: The properties of the mind are not that which matter can have
Conclusion: Mind is not reducible to matter.
Premise 3: Substance dualism is false.

CONCLUSION: All is mind.

Richard Conn Henry and Stephen R. Palmquist point out that… a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism. (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

One doesn’t have to jump to the extreme idealist view that only your mind exists. Instead, hold to the view that the mental world creates the construct of the physical world. Many philosophers have also noted that we are not in control of the way the world behaves, and therefore, it is not reasonable to assume it is a creation of your own mind.

Bu if all is mind, then we have to deduce that it is dependent on a much larger mind, which is why theism is the only rational alternative to solipsism. Although this position may be rejected by many as unacceptable, and hold to the notion of a mind independent reality, the conclusion still follows. In fact, we cannot even conceive of a mind independent reality without a mind. As Max Planck said, „I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” The Observer (25 January 1931).

So, this argument is not just a clever thought, but in fact predicts the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics. But, what about those that still reject these philosophical implications of quantum theory? As Eaun Squires said, „It is probably fair to say that most members of the physics community would reject [these] ideas… [However], their reasons would be based more on prejudice than on sound argument, and the proportion of those who reject it would be much smaller if we considered only those who had actually thought carefully about the problems of quantum theory.” Eaun Squires in  Conscious Mind in the Physics World (Page 192)

„I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato. In fact, the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.” Werner Heisenberg.

See ‘Inspiring Philosophy’s’ other 2 video on this subject here:

  1. Digital Physics – Argument for God’s existence
  2. Cosmic Conscious – Argument for Gods existence

Debate – William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist? Biola University (April 04,2009)

With winter on our heels, we always like to spend time watching apologetics debates, so here is a very good debate with 2 formidable opponents, whom to watch and learn from.

Dr. Craig, presents his case using 5 arguments

  1. cosmological argument, the well known first cause argument,
  2. teleological argument, the incredible beauty, organization and complexity of the universe testifies to intelligent design. He uses the anthropic principle to back up his point here. There are over 100 known fundament physical constants that demonstrate the extreme fine tuning required to support life on Earth. […]
  3. Morals come from a transcendent creator making them objective.
  4. The resurrection of Jesus, shows us there is a personal God. Dr. Craig expounds on the veracity of this claim.
  5. The immediate experience of God

Hitchens, bases his belief of atheism on lack of evidence of a supreme being and a few of the things he brought up include:

  1. The big bang and evolution with very large quantities of time explain the start of the universe and life as we know it today.
  2. When presenting his case, he groups the major monotheisms: Christianity, Jewish faith and Islam into one assembly asserting the arguments based on his vast experience of debating representatives from each world view are similar
  3. Since Mr. Hitchens doubts all arguments for the existence of God based on lack of evidence, he concludes there isn’t one
  4. All religious beliefs are gibberish and wishful thinking
  5. He states the Bible has records of genocide and slavery in it, asserting that it promotes immorality
  6. Firmly believes that morals evolved much the same way organic structures have and cultures that didn’t practice basic morality became extinct.
  7. Uses the fact the Catholic church promoted an Earth centric universe as evidence the theistic camp doesn’t know what it’s talking about when it comes to science
  8. He values personal freedom very highly and doesn’t want a theocracy telling him what to do.
  9. He takes this subject extremely seriously and respects the discussion of it.
  10. He attacks the saint hood of mother Teresa strongly.

There were four sections in the debate: a 20 minute opening speech, rebuttal, question and answer period between Dr. Craig and Mr. Hitchens, a closing argument was given by Dr. Craig and not Mr. Hitchens, presumably he presented his case completely in the first 3 sections of the debate.

This summary is given by an amazon reviewer here. This debate took place in the gymnasium of Biola University – http://Biola.edu. The introduction start in about the 12th minute, so if you want to skip the part before that just of to the 12th minute. VIDEO by Wade Davis

It Is Not „Special Pleading” to Say God Is Without A Cause and Has God Existed for an Infinite Number of Years?

English: This photo was taken by my wife durin...In 2011 Dr William Lane Craig spoke at the Forum of Christian Leaders (FOCL) in Hungary. While they he spoke on the topic, „Five Arguments for Theism” and took questions from the audience to accompany his lecture. In this clip, Dr Craig answers a question concerning how the Kalam Cosmological Argument concerns God. Is it ‘special pleading’ to say God is without a cause?

Why it is not ‘special pleading’

Very often, it will be said by people, „If everything has a cause, what is God’s cause?” This objection is based upon a confusion between the contingency argument and this cosmological argument. The contingency argument says that everything that exists  has an explanation of its existence. This argument says that everything that begins to exist has a cause. And by conflating these two together, people have come up with the idea that everything that exists  has a cause. And that’s just a confusion. It is everything that begins to exist has a cause. If something begins to exist, that means it comes into being. And, given that out of nothing, nothing comes. The things cannot pop into being from nonbeing. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause.

But, God doesn’t need to have a cause, because He never came into being. He’s an eternal reality. And, this isn’t special pleading for God. That is what the atheist has always said about the universe- that matter and energy are eternal. The universe has always existed, and therefore, the universe doesn’t need a cause. It’s just that in light of premise 2, that explanation has now been called into question.

So, all this argument requires is that anything that comes into being, or begins to exist needs a cause. It wouldn’t apply to an eternally existing thing. If you want to ask about eternally existing things, then go back to the contingency argument, which says that everything that exists has an explanation, either in a necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. And, I think this helps to clarify again why in that first argument in that contingency argument, I differentiate it between explanations and causes. God, on that first argument does have an explanation as to why He exists, but He doesn’t have a cause.

VIDEO by drcraigvideos

Has God Existed for an Infinite Number of Years?

Dr. William Lane Craig:

Doesn’t the eternity of God imply that God has existed for an infinite number of years? Or an infinite amount of past time? No, I don’t think it does. In fact, what I’ve argued is that God’s eternity means he’s timelessness, at least without the universe. That God is the Creator of time and space, transcends time and space, so that God existing alone, without the universe is timeless. And time had a beginning.

Time is only finite, according to modern cosmology. It’s about 13.7 billion years ago. And there simply is no such thing as 15 billion years ago, or 20 billion years ago. That’s pure imagination. But, there really is no such time because time began about 13.7 billion years ago. So, God existing alone without the universe would simply be timeless. He wouldn’t exist through an infinite number of years, or an infinite number of hours. And that’s why the question is meaningless. Why didn’t God create the world sooner? If God had existed through an infinite number of years prior to creation, we could meaningfully ask, „Well, why did he wait so long? Why didn’t God create the world sooner?

But, if time begins at the moment of creation, then I think you can see that’s a meaningless question. There is no point ‘sooner’ at which He could have created the universe. Time simply begins at the moment of creation. So, even eternity wouldn’t involve an actual infinity in God, given that He transcends time and created time.

Doubting Darwinism – J.P.Moreland PhD quotes atheist Thomas Nagel against Darwinism

J. P. Moreland expresses some doubts on Darwinian evolution. VIDEO by religionphilosophy

J.P. Moreland

Moreland:

Not long ago, the former professor of biology at Cornell University, a man who is known throughout the world for his expertise in biological science, William Provine, made the following statement:

„Let me summarize my views about what modern evolutionary biology tells us: There are no gods. There is no purpose to life. There are no goal directed forces of any kind. There;s no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I’m going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There’s no ultimate foundation for ethics, there’s no meaning to life, and there’s no such thing as free will. „

Now, Provine is a good scientist, but a very bad philosopher.  And, his view is widely believed among the intellectual elite of our culture. And unfortunately, the culture, and what the culture believes is largely determined by the intellectual elites. That’s just the way it is.

Now, Provine’s statement is really not true, because, if evolutionary theory is true, it doesn’t mean there’s not a god. I could grant the truth of evolutionary theory, and I would still have plenty of reasons to believe in God, completely outside of the biological realm.

There is for example an argument for God’s existence

  • based upon the origin of the universe
  • based upon the fine tuning of the universe
  • based on the objectivity of the moral law
  • based on the miracles in the New Testament
  • based on the reliability of the New Testament documents

So, even if evolutionary theory is true, it doesn’t follow, that all the things that Provine has told us are reasonable to believe. As I said, I could grant the truth of evolutionary theory for the sake of argument, and still have plenty of reason to believe in the Christian God.

Well then,

What does evolutionary theory do?

It actually does, I think, 2 things:

  1. First of all, it robs us of an argument for God’s existence, because we can base an argument on God’s existence based upon the design of living things. After all, living things look designed. And so, you can build an argument for God based upon the design of living things, and if evolutionary theory is true, it could be argued – that argument is off the table. Fair enough. Then, evolutionary theory would rob the Christian believer of one of many arguments  for God’s existence. That’s a legitimate point.
  2. The real problem however, with evolutionary theory is not that it touches on whether or not there’s a God. The real problem with evolutionary theory is it tends to undermine some very plausible ways of interpreting the early chapters of the book of Genesis. And the book of Genesis is an important foundational document to the Christian community.

So, it’s important to understand that Provine has it wrong. So, nevertheless, evolutionary theory is an important thing it’s just been misunderstood by the general public and Provine, in terms of the impact of the theory, if it’s true,

Is evolution true?

Well, that depends on what you mean by it. I am going to characterize 3 different meanings of evolution and tell you where the tension lies, and then I’ll give you 3 reasons why I don’t believe in the theory of evolution. (See rest of transcript below video)

Evolution can mean 1 of 3 things:

  1. Microevolution- Evolution can mean that organisms change when they go to new environments. This is true. If you take a group of brown rabbits, and if they migrate to an area where there’s a lot of snow, it could be (that) after several generations their coats turn white, rather than brown, and that enables them to survive better. Is that definition of evolution true? Yes, and nobody disputes it. That’s called microevolution.
  2. Common descent- The second meaning of evolution is called the thesis of common descent. This is the idea that living things appear on earth in a sequence of simpler life to a more complex life, in a sequence of new life forms all the way from single cell organisms (simple life, supposedly) up to human beings. That’s called the thesis of common descent (from chimps to mankind).  All of the evidence for evolution is evidence for this thesis. There is no evidence for the third thesis, I’m about to tell you (about). Well, is the thesis of common descent true? I’m inclined to say, „No.” But, let me say very clearly, „If the thesis of common descent turned out to be true, I would have very little problem with it, as an evangelical believer, because I think that the early chapters of Genesis teach us that life appeared on earth, by and large, through a sequence of events from the simple to the complex. So, if the thesis of common descent was true, which I don’t believe it is, but, even if it were, it would cause my Christian faith very little adjustment because I am committed to the idea, according to Genesis, that living things appeared on earth, by and large, from simple to complex.
  3. The blind watchmaker thesis– The real problem with evolution is the third definition, and that’s where all the tension lies. This is called the blind watchmaker thesis.  According to the blind watchmaker thesis of evolution, the processes that gave rise to living things are totally naturalistic processes, and there was no room for God to do anything. We don’t need to postulate God to explain where life came from, that God was involved in creating different life forms along the way because mutations and natural selections, that is blind processes- the watchmaker who designed us was blind- that means not conscious, not intentional, had no purposes in mind. Why? Because the processes that gave rise to us are purely material physical processes of mutation and natural selection, and that’s where the real tension lies, because this thesis says that the common descent of animals from simple to complex took place without any intervention from God creating anything, or doing anything in the process. The process is purely naturalistic, and we don’t have to postulate a supreme being to explain life. (9:00)

There is, in my opinion, not a shred of evidence to this thesis.  All of the evidence in debates are evidence for common descent, not for the blind watchmaker thesis. I am going to give you three reasons why I think it’s false. In other words, I am going to give you 3 reasons why I believe that God had to be involved in the process, and that you cannot explain the living world, as we know it, without there being a Creator intelligent God. Before I do, there are many lines of evidence I could have selected, but, I’m gonna pick 3.  In most fields there are pace setters that set the pace in that field. I am an academic and a professional philosopher, and there are certain people in my discipline that are pace setters. If you’re gonna be a responsible, professional philosopher, you have to read what they write, because if you don’t know what they say, you’re not up to speed on your discipline. One of the professional philosophers in my field, for 50 years, who has been one of the leading intellectuals in the entire world, I would list him in the top 30 western thinkers in the world, is Thomas Nagel. He is a professor of philosophy at New York University. He is clearly an avowed atheist. In his book ‘The Last Word’, he makes it clear „I fear God, and what I mean by that is I don’t want God to exist. I don’t want the universe to be like that and I hope there’s no God.” It’s called the cosmic authority problem.   He doesn’t want an authority over his life and he is clear about that. Photo above via http://ebooksdownloadfree.com Photo below Thomas Nagel – via Wikipedia.

A week ago, a major event happened. Nagel, who is an atheist, published a book with Oxford University Press (1 of the 2 top academic Presses in the western world (Cambridge being the other)), and he has argued in this book that the general theory of evolution is nonsense for 3 reasons.  Now, he doesn’t believe in God, he’s hoping for other solutions. But, the point is that you have one of the top academic atheists in Europe and in the United States publishing a book that just came out (video is from 2012). I’ve taken notes from this book, and he says that there are 3 things that evolution cannot and will never explain and so we have to abandon the theory, in terms of its adequacy of explaining living things. I am going to use the ones he lists, because he’s a critic of our views.

1. The Origin of Life

Too improbable to happen by natural processes. Living things contain information & we know, as the SETI scientists themselves assume that if we discover information, that is evidence that the cause of that info is intelligent minds Nagel claims, and he’s right about this, that the probabilities of natural law and chance to produce life  is abslutely ridiculous. That you will never get living things, by natural laws and Darwinian processes to appear. Why is that? When Darwin looked through the microscopes of his day, a living cell looked like a simple little blob of jello. Not so anymore. We now know that the simplest single cell is like the city of Detroit or Chicago or New York. It’s got a police dept., it’s got a library, it’s got street signals… I mean, it’s as complicated as a city.  The problem has become then, how do you get through natural processes and random chance? Something that complicated in 4 billion year (let’s grant/say), and Nagel says, „There’s not a snowballs chance in a certain place (hell) that that’s gonna happen. Here’s an example: Suppose I filled the state of Texas a mile high with quarters and I put an X on one quarter, and I flew over it in a helicopter and I put it somewhere in the state of Texas. The chances of evolving through natural processes a single cell would be the chances of me giving the opportunity to pick one quarter and picking the right quarter on the first draw. No one in his right mind would believe anything like that. What if I did pick the quarter on the first draw? You would know that it was rigged, that it was done by cheating, done on purpose. And Nagel says that there’s just not any possibility that the probability of forming life through Darwinian processes are so astronomically small that they’re comparable to picking the quarter on the first draw in the state of Texas. No one in his right mind would believe that.

By the way, there is a second problem with the origin of life. We now know that information comes from an intelligent mind. When we discover information, it is evidence that intelligence stands behind that information. You’ve heard of the search for life in outer space. It’s called SETI the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumption that is made by the SETI scientists is that information can only come from an intelligent mind. So, if we discovered a signal from outer space that contained information, we would conclude that the origin of that signal was an intelligent mind of some kind. What we have discovered is that there is more information in a single cell than in all the books in the libraries where I did my phD at USC. It is stacked with information and the evidence of information is evidence of mind. So, the origin of life is the first reason why Darwinian theory fails because (a) it is too imporbable to be rational, to believe it happened that way, and (b) living things contain information and information is evidence that the cause is an intelligent thinker.

2. The Diversity of life forms 

(a) Diversity of life is far too complex and intricate for it to have evolved in 3.5 billion years through natural processes and chance mutations and through the laws of chemistry and physics. (b) Living systems contain irreducibly complex structures and it will not confer survival values for a mechanism if it doesn’t have all the parts. Here’s the second reason why I don’t believe in Darwinian evolution: It’s the diversity of life forms that we see all around us. The diversity and the complexity of life around us. Nagel makes the point that if evolutionary theory were true, and somehow, if we could get a single cell organism say, 3.5 billion years ago, there’s not enough time in 3.5 billion years to go from a single cell organism to lions, and tigers, and bears. Because, if evolution were truewe would not expect there to be enough time for very much diversity to have appeared. In other words, the sheer complexity and diversity of living things is far too much for the mechanisms of evolution to account for it. And Nagel runs a probability argument on this as well, saying, pretty much like the state of Texas, „Suppose we could evolve a single celled organism, the probabilities of developing life as we know it are again, like picking the quarter on the first draw. It’s way too improbable. Think of a butterfly, for example. The mechanisms that can take you from a caterpillar to a butterfly are staggering. You start with a caterpillar, it goes through a stage where you have a stack of goo with not much information, and then you get a butterfly squirting out that is totally different than the caterpillar. And the processes and the staggering detail, and the amount of complexity involved in something that simple are simply too much for the mechanisms of evolution to explain.

Consider the brain. I’m doing research on the soul and the brain this year. If you take a look at what are called the neural nets, these are networks of neurons, and in order for you to have a thought, you have to have billions of neurons firing in just the right place, at just the right time. There’s not a chance that that could happen through natural consequences, it’s way too complicated.  So, the probability of life diversifying into the staggering complexity that we see is simply too large for evolution to explain, says Nagel, and I agree with him. (20:00)

One other problem with the diversity of life involves what is called irreducible complexity. Something is irreducibly complex if it contains parts that won’t work if all the other parts aren’t there. Let me give you an example of an irreducibly complex structure: a mousetrap. It is composed of 5 parts- the base, the spring, the trap, the thing that holds it down, and so on. A mouse trap won’t work with only 4 of the parts. It doesn’t work until you have all 5 parts in the right place and then it works. That means that a mousetrap is irreducibly complex. The problem is that you can’t evolve irreducibly complex structures one part at a time, because it’s not gonna work till all the parts are there. And, how is a structure that’s only got some of its parts there, but it doesn’t work gonna help an organism survive ? Let me illustrate it. There’s a little single celled organism called a flagellum, that you can see under a microscope. It has a rotary tail. The thing will turn at 100,000 rpm’s in one direction and propel the little guy through fluid. It will stop on a dime and turn 100,000 rpm’s in the opposite direction, just like that. It contains 50 parts. Guess what? If you’ve got 49 of the parts it doesn’t work. It needs all 50 parts, before an of it will work. How are you gonna evolve the rotary tail from precursors that didn’t have a rotary tail, one part at a time? You can’t evolve irreducibly complex structures  one part at a time because the structures will not confer survival value on their owners unless all the parts are present.  And, irreducibly complex structures are a huge, huge problem for Darwinian theory.  (25:00)

3. Consciousness

This is the one Nagel spends 2/3 of the book arguing. Consciousness. The real problem is that you can’t get mind from matter. If you say, „In the beginning were the particles…” then what you end up with is brute sub atomic particles, electrons, strings, protons, neutrons, whatever they think is down there. You end up with particles that aren’t conscious- an electron doesn’t have consciousness. The laws of chemistry and physics cause these particles to bind together to form molecules. Those bind together to form cells, and those bind together to form the bodies of living things. The process is a process of taking matter and simply forming it into more complicated arrangements of matter. But now there’s a problem here, and Nagel points it out. If you start with matter and all you do is rearrange matter, you know what you’re gonna end up with? Rearranged matter. You’re not gonna get mind squirted into existence. To put the point differently, you might end up with brains, but you’re not gonna end up with minds. Cause if you end up with minds, that’s getting something from nothing, and that’s a pretty tough sell.

Basically, what I mean by consciousness is what animals and we have, and that’s what we’re aware of when we introspect- when you close your eyes and introspect, you are aware of your consciousness. Your consciousness includes:

  • sensations – experience of pain and pleasure
  • thoughts – like the thought that 2+2=4
  • beliefs – like my belief that George Washington was the 1st president of the United States
  • desires – my desire to be a good dad and to have ice cream and avoid the dentist
  • acts of free will – where I freely choose to raise my arm to vote, for example

So, what we have is consciousness is not physical. It is invisible. I could look all throughout your brain and I couldn’t see your thoughts or your feelings, or your desires, or your beliefs. All I would find would be  neurons firing. The problem is, as Nagel points out, if you start at the beginning with the particles, and you rearrange the particles according to the laws of chemistry and physics you’re never gonna get consciousness. I don’t have that problem cause I believe in God. I don’t think ‘In the beginning was the particles…”, I think in the beginning was the logos. So, I start with mind. I don’t start with matter. And it’s not a problem to explain where our minds came from because the universe began with a grand mind. Surely a grand mind could make subsequent minds.  If the universe began with consciousness, it means that there was a kind of big mind out there, a big conscious being. If you don’t mind, I’ll just use the word God for Him.

Conclusion:

If Nagel and I are right about this, why are all the scientists Darwinist? There are 2 reasons:

  1. They are taught to think that way in graduate school. They’re internalized into a theory that you have got to force the evidence to fit. They are not open to alternative methods of explanation, because if you start appealing to a designer, they claim that you’ve stopped doing science. And so, they are angry at Intelligent Design advocates. I was at UC Berkeley a couple of years ago (2010), and just before I came, William Demski was on campus defending intelligent design. Do you know what happened? The biology department boycotted the meeting and wouldn’t let their graduate students attend it. There’s free thought for you. If this guy’s so stupid and his ideas are so ignorant, go to the meeting and expose him as a fraud. But, why boycott a meeting? Because when you do an undergraduate and graduate degree in science you are taught a certain set of theories that you’re not allowed to question, because if you question Darwinism, you’re now going to religion and religion and science are not supposed to mix.
  2. The cosmic authority problem. Nagel says, „I don’t want God to exist.” I think, frankly, the reason Darwinism is held widely is because of sex. In the early days of Darwinism, Huxley, who was Darwin’s bulldog, stated clearly that the reason he defended Darwinism is he wanted to do sex anyway he wanted to anytime, and he didn’t want anybody telling him what he should do. And today, we are a sex crazed culture in the west and I think evolution gives you the permission not to have to worry about a divine being who might judge your sexual behavior. I think that’s got a lot to do with it. What it doesn’t have to do with is the evidence. Because, I’m telling you, while there may be evidence for microevolution, there may even be evidence for common descent (though I don’t accept that), there is to my knowledge a terribly inadequate defense of the blind watchmaker thesis, and there are good reasons not to believe it.

 

Ravi Zacharias discusses several subjects (video)

English: Ravi Zacharias signing books at the F...

Sound quality is a bit off, however still a great message to listen to in this Q & A with Ravi Zacharias which was recently uploaded by the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries:

VIDEO by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

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: http://www.reasonablefaith.org (photo above via wikipedia)

(4) Why God? An intelligent cause – A new series of apologetic tools

Read

(1) Why apologetics?

(2) Why believe in anything at all?

(3) Why God? A beginning cause

The Essentials of Apologetics – Why God (Part 2)? from Robin Schumacher

Ravi Zacharias – Can Man Live Without God? National University of Singapore

Photo via www.gdtd.vn

Lecture Friday March 26, 2004 (just recently uploaded) In this brilliant and compelling defense of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias shows how affirming the reality of God’s existence matters urgently in our everyday lives. According to Zacharias, how you answer the questions of God’s existence will impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, and your perception of truth. (Video via EnimVeritas)

This topic is from Ravi’s book ‘Can Man Live Wihtout God’, a subject he spoke on at Harvard University Law School. The book treats this subject more exhaustively than his lecture here, and at other venues where Zacharias has lectured on this topic.

The book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Can-Man-Live-Wi…

Ravi Zacharias – The scientific naturalist view does not answer our questions, nor prove God’s in existence

Zacharias ravi

Question from Ethan Kaiser:

Hello, I am a scientists and an atheist, and my question is: Since the Bible has been scientifically disproven, as far as all the claims, you know, the theory of evolution, and archaeology, you know, Noah’s ark, Adam & Eve, since we know this didn’t happen because of our science, my question is: According to the Bible, how do we have free will, if God is this omniscient being, that knows everything about us, everything that we will do, and he pretty much knows our outcome before we’re even created, so he creates us, knowing everything we will do, we can’t surprise him by our actions, we have no free will. Our choices have been predetermined, and that the act of judgment is completely immoral, because he knows what we’re gonna do, nothing can surprise him.

Ravi Zacharias:

It’s interesting that you began, by saying that, as an atheist, all of this has been disproved, and so you live with scientific materialism as your world view. I studied under John Polkinhorne at Cambridge University. You probably know the name- one of the world’s leading quantum physicists. He came to the exact opposite conclusion you did, while being a dean at King’s College, as quantum physicist, taking the same data you did. So, obviously, for a man of his intellectual ability, to come to a totally different conclusion, one would either have to say he is stupid to come to that conclusion, or else his empirical data is … I want to read to you what David Berlinski says about the scientific, naturalistic world view. He is one of the world’s leading physicists, who is an agnostic, but took issue with Richard Dawkin’s book „The God Delusion’, and wrote a book called „The Devil’s Delusion’. Here’s what he said,

  1. Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close.
  2. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.
  3. Have the scientists explained why the universe is fine tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close.
  4. Are physicists and biologists even willing to believe in anything, as long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.
  5. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough.
  6. Has secularism in the secular 20th century been a force for good? Not even close.
  7. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy being taught in the opinion of the sciences? Close enough.
  8. Does anything in the sciences or the philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ballpark.
  9. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.

Ethan (questioner), what you are wrestling with is not uncommon. Many people from a scientific and materialistic worldview will say what you’ve said, and will come to that conclusion. The problem is, what you’ve mispositioned is your concern between  determinism and free will. Your application could have gone in many directions, but you came to that one for some reason, which was unfortunate. In Cambridge, I listened to a talk, in 1990, by Stephen Hawking. As you know, he can’t speak, he uses a speech synthesizer. His whole talk was on determinism and freedom. Do you know what he concluded? That the tragedy with scientific materialism , if we take its assumptions, is that we are not free, we are totally determined. That was the world’s leading physicist at that time, saying, „The very thing you are asking of the Christian faith, he pinned on your backs (the scientific atheists). You can go online and trace it. And he said, „The only escape I have is since I don’t know what has been determined, I may as well not be. The whole auditorium moaned and groaned, with an escape hatch that he gave for himself, after telling us that we were completely determined. That’s Berlinski’s issue, that is actually something that even people like Dawkin’s will concede. Or, you read Stephen Pinker and the others, totally determined. So the question is: Were you free to ask this question?

If you are totally determined, you are prewired to think the way you do. The nature means you are hardwired to come to a conclusion. Out of flux, nothing but flux. What you put into the computer has to come out. But, you have to ask yourself: Are you making a truth claim? If you’re making a truth claim, you’re rising above the subjectivity, and the moment you claim a truth claim, you’re violating determinism.

Ravi’s response comes at the 7:15 minute mark of the video-

Is Truth Relative? Greg Koukl at THRIVE Apologetics Conference 2013

See also

  1. Greg Koukl – Moral Relativism lecture to University students
  2. Apologetics PAGE

photo via http://rogueuniversity.com/musings

When you think about it, there are a lot of ways to show that christianity is false. Look at our story, it starts with „in the beginning God…”  If the atheists are right, we don’t get a beginning, we don’t even get started. Our case is based on Jesus of Nazareth. If He never existed we’re out of business. If He wasn’t the one reflected in the Scripture, if that’s just a bunch of legends, we’re up the creek as well. No soul. Why is that important? Because if there is no soul , there is no thing to go into the afterlife. And since the afterlife is an important part of christianity, we’re sunk again, if they can make the case there’s no soul. On the resurrection, Paul himself said that christians of all people should be pitied if there was no resurrection.

Christianity can be falsifiable in principle, and if it can be falsifiable and falsified, it can also be supported. It can be demonstrated that it can be true. But, the minute you say something like „can be demonstrated to be true”, you run into another obstacle, that is very popular and very in play in our culture. It’s also very unusual to me, because taken at face value, which strikes me as a pointless challenge. The other challenges that I mentioned, and by the way, every one of those areas I talked about- the existence of God, the existence of Jesus, the existence of the soul, the resurrection, and a whole bunch of others, there’s a full course press on all of those right now. And that’s why I’m glad you’re all in this conference. All of those, I would say, are intellectually noble ways of going after christianity.

Relative truth – pulling the rug from underneath the  christians

This next thing, that I want to spend my time talking about, I don’t think it is intellectually noble. I think it’s a foolish way of going after christianity, but it is very popular. Everybody’s fighting over what they think is true. Well, the truth of the matter is in this world truth doesn’t exist- it’s not unusual to go into a campus society in general and begin to talk about these kinds of things. And, as you advance christianity, if you’re doing it properly, you’re doing it as a picture of reality. This is true in the deep sense of the word. That’s our view; that’s our claim. That’s what we’re offering. And people want to dismiss it and say, „Well, there is none of that kind of stuff. Truth doesn’t exist in this world. Maybe it’s true for you, maybe it’s relative to your beliefs. Everybody has different beliefs that are true for them. But, no one can say that what they believe is true, that it applies to everyone.” In one sense it’s a kind of end around  all of the conflict. It’s a kind of a saying, :Well, everybody’s right.” It has a tolerant feel, but, at the same time it’s kind of like saying everybody’s wrong, too, „You are wrong in all your individual beliefs on what is actually so; you are just right for yourself.” And so, it’s an odd kind of „everybody’s right, but, in the background, everybody’s wrong, at the same time. A lot of folks haven’t thought about that particular point.

Truth on this view, then, is relative, is subjective, it is just up to individuals. And, I hope you can see how, when a culture is deeply convinced  of that idea, it’s a complete end around all the arguments. It’s a pulling the rug from underneath the christians. It’s a very clever move, in terms of spiritual warfare.

Notes continue under the video-

Professor Greg Koukl answers the question, „Is truth relative?” at the 2013 Thrive Apologetics Conference, held at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California.thrivingchurches

…and I think of spiritual warfare in the area of ideas and how ideas are being used to dissuade people. That’s why Paul says that the weapons of warfare are divinely powerful of destruction of forces which are tearing down speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of  God, taking every thought captive through the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 The point here is this is an idea that is a fortress, that a lot of people can’t get past: The idea that christianity claims to be true, but are convinced there is no truth. I wanna deal with that challenge. If you’re a skeptic, I just wanna get you thinking about this. I think that the claim that there is no truth is obviously false, and I think that everybody in this room knows that it’s false.

The definition of what we mean by truth – If belief is what made something true, there would be no difference between belief and make belief. When we say a thing is true, we’re not saying we don’t mean by that that we merely believe it, because we could believe false things. We don’t say that we see it or we have discovered it to be so, because that’s just how you find out whether a thing is true. if we’re just working with the concept of truth, what we mean when we say a thing is true is that our statements match up with the way the world actually is. Or our beliefs match up, or our thoughts match up. The philosophers call this the correspondence theory of truth- or that christianity matches up to the real world. That is the standard definition of what is truth.

Does that kind of truth exist? Is it possible for us to make statements about the world, and have some confidence that our statements actually match up? Can we know things about theology, about ethics? Can you actually know these things? Is it just not a leap of faith or a mere assumption, or a mere assertion? Can we have good reason that this is something we can count on? My answer to all of those things is: Yes. And I wanna show you how that can be the case. (23:00)

How can we know that the claim: There is no truth is false?

and that therefore, the claim that there is truth is a true statement.

  1. First problem: It’s suicidal, self refuting. The first reason that I reject the idea that there is no truth is that it is obviously false. When I go on campus, I am actually mystified  that this has gained such favor among people at university campuses. The minute I want to acquiesce to their view I run into a problem. The problem is that I am being enjoined to believe that it is true, in the sense I just described it and defined it, that there is no truth. Somebody says, „There is no truth.” You say, „Really? Is that true?” You’ve got to tell me what you expect me to do with your statement. Accept or reject. This is the way people are: When they say there is no truth, they don’t see the inherent contradiction in their own statement. I actually had a debate on this issue with Marv Meyer. The debate was titled: Is truth true? Meyer was arguing that there is no truth, and I was arguing with this question: There’s no truth. Is that true? That’s one of the ways to show that the statement „There is no truth” is false, it’s just obviously self refuting, and there’s no way around that. There’s just no way out of that problem.
  2. Second problem: That every single person knows things to be true. And you know that because you took an idea that you had in mind, and you compared it to the world, and you matched it up to see that there was a fit, and when your thoughts matched the way the world is, that’s a truth relation. If we are able to take statements or beliefs and in some measure match them against the world, to see if our beliefs are accurate, well, then we can find out what the truth is there. And, indeed, we do this every single day. In fact, if we could not determine truth about a whole bunch of things, we’d be dead in a day. Our lives depend on our ability to determine whether there is truth or not.

Now, I have just given you 2 reasons to believe that the statement „There is no truth” is false. (34:00 there are still 15 minutes left of the video where Koukl gives 2 examples)

Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort debate atheists

5.5.07CameronComfortBashirSapientO'ConnorByLui...

5.5.07CameronComfortBashirSapientO’ConnorByLuigiNovi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My only note on this video from 2007 is that I am a bit surprised at the tension in some of the atheists, like the questioner who seems to tremble as she yells at Ray about cancer (somewhere near the 80th minute).

Some of the questions that atheists and agnostics have:

  • If there is a Creator for everything, then who made God?
  • On the multiplicity of religions, is the existence of God a projection of a culture?
  • If God is the Creator of all things is evil not also His creation?
  • What about people who never heard the Gospel? What will happen to them?

Questions christians have:

  • If there is no God, where does morality come from?
  • How something comes from nothing- the origin of the universe and evolution
  • What if you’re wrong and God does in fact exist?
  • If God existed why does He allow disease and suffering?

Scientific Proof of God – Antony Flew & Gerald Schroeder

Uploaded by  on Apr 6, 2009

One of Britain’s most resolute unbelievers. A philosopher who for many decades has proclaimed his lack belief in any kind of God. Then late at 2004 Professor Antony Flew declared that he had changed his mind after reading Dr Gerald Schroeder’s books. (Dr Schroeder is a leading Israeli scientist ).

Uploaded by  on Jan 18, 2009

Proof of God. Go beyond Intelligent Design with the scientific case for a Creator. Dr. Gerald Schroeder delivers a powerful scientific case proving that God’s existence is real.

Dr. Schroeder’s argument is so powerful that it influenced one of the worlds leading atheist, Antony Flew to accept the reality of an infinitely intelligent God.
To get the mp3 version of this proof that God exists go herehttp://bit.ly/hmnFMU

Ligonier interviews Ravi Zacharias

Indispensable Apologetics: An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

English: Ravi Zacharias signing books at the F...

Among different topics, Ravi talks about evangelizing Muslims and how to equip young people to remain committed to Christ in a secular world. He also recommends books by

Authors such as C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Tim Keller, yes, and my dear friend R.C. Sproul. But there are many more. One of the greatest books ever written is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. For devotional studies, Oswald Chambers, and one of my favorites, G. Campbell Morgan, are great choices. We also have a bibliography on our website (www.rzim.org)

 Also on the Ligonier Interview page sidebar you will find links to these excellent articles by Ravi Zacharias:
  • A Reason to Love
  • If the Foundations Be Destroyed
  • Modern Consciousness and Its Cultural Control
  • Postmodernism and Philosophy
  • The Existence of God

Click here for the entire interview-

Indispensable Apologetics: An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

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.

Why is there no visible proof of God ? Here’s one opinion

Why is there no visible proof of God?

People believe that the fact that God hides (or can’t be seen) shows either that God doesn’t exist or He doesn’t love us enough to make Himself known to us in order to prevent us from going to hell.

Published on Apr 2, 2012 by 

New Video of yesterday’s Oxford debate between Dawkins and Archbishop of Canterbury

If you haven’t heard; last night Richard Dawkins admitted that he can’t be sure that God does not exist. You can read more in my previous post here.

Someone has already uploaded the full debate here:

Ravi Zacharias and Friends

Apologetics Beyond the Pew: A Conversation with Ravi Zacharias and Friends
Source http://tiu.edu/ Carl F.H.Henry’s Center for Theological Understanding on April 12, 2010. This lecture was given before Ravi Zacharias’s trip to  Romania and Armenia (2010).

  • When you look back upon the landscape of  the last 25 years, or 30 years, there were voices, sounding forth at that time,  of the changes that were coming. I remember listening to Everett Coop and Francis Schaeffer in the 1980’s sounding the alarm of what were then being seen as the moral underpinnings from which extensions would be made and decisions would be made. Who would have ever thought that you would hear ethical theories that we now listen to from the voice of Peter Singer and others. Not just liberal in their thinking, but radically so. At the end of a spectrum of thought, where we not only do not know how to define human life, but, we define it in ways that could actually be stunning and shocking. And, once the shock value is gone they become common ideas and carried into ramifications.
  • We no longer can define what life is. We cannot define what sexuality is. We do not know how to define what marriage means. I remember when Chuck Colson had invited me and a few others to New York some months ago, from which emerged the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, I remember phoning my wife from New York and saying, „I never dreamed of the day when you would have a room full of men and women trying to define a thing like life, marriage, sexuality. Things that you thought would be self evident or that would have some input of the sacred…now totally desacrilized and almost defying any kind of definition or any kind of parameter. But people like Schaeffer warned us of this.
  • Zacharias lists 4 changes he believes have come about in the last 25-30 years:
  1. The popularization of the death of God of the atheistic mindset and the willingness (popularizations) to live with its ramifications a la Hitchens and Dawkins and Dennett and Harris who say what Huxley said, „I want this world not to have meaning because a meaningless world frees me to my own exploits of sexual and political freedom. (Hypocrisy is the charge that vice brings to virtue …deep in their own thinking they know some things are wrong)
  2. It is the third world’s attack upon Western ideas with the pantheistic and postmodern underpinnings to it that has actually made the ideas that shaped the West look juvenile and everything else that comes from abroad look very sophisticated. I have a question for people like that. „Why did you come to the West?” Because there were some moral assumptions that were a quest of the Judeo-Christian framework; even if you didn’t want to give credit to the world view  that framed them, you liked what you saw in the outworking. Do you know that the Chinese government has just commissioned writers to rewrite the history of missions in China because the leadership in China recognized that Missions has not been given a good and fair name? They want to acknowledge the benefit that Missions has done in the last century, principally in two arenas: in education and health and well being for the Chinese people. Think of this statement, „We take these truths to be self evident that we are all created equal…with inalienable rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Let me ask you this question, „Do you know of any other world view that would have framed that statement, other than the Judeo-Christian faith?” There are ideas in the Gospels that are not presented anywhere else. Take for example that no where else is there an offer of sacrifice, or of forgiveness,  such as the cross of Christ.
  3. The power to inform through the visual. We now take truth through the eye gate not through reason and so it comes through the back door of the imagination. We’re intended to see through the eye with the conscience. Most people see today with the eye, devoid of a conscience. We’ve got a visually conditioned culture. On the movie Avatar- brilliant in cinematography and now English movies are just beginning to resemble Hindi movies. That’s all it is. Bollywood was 30 yrs ahead on this kind of stuff and 30 yrs ago we would have sat and laughed at this kind of stuff and now it is so engaging. Isn’t it interesting? A Hollywood technocrat, who sees the military as the culprit for destroying lives has never bothered to ask how many souls and consciences Hollywood has destroyed.  We’ve got a generation raised with the visual that has never cerebrally addressed these issues of systemic contradiction.
  4. A youth oriented world as a culture molding point, which means the young ought to really be an audience to whom we speak and how we speak to them. The question is how we reach a generation that thinks with its eyes or listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? That’s the challenge.
  • I’ll give you 3 simple responses
  1. We are going to need an apologetic that is not merely heard, but is also seen. If the Christian life is not seen, it will become nothing more than theoretical.
  2. An apologetic that is not merely argued but that is also felt. You cannot have a persuasive preacher if the preacher is not coming through as being persuaded. woe be to me if I preach not the Gospel. Passions are very real, therefore the passion for the Gospel will also have to be real, if it is to appeal to a generation that lives so much with the pathos and the reality of the felt word.
  3. It is an approach that rescues not only the ends of bringing them into the knowledge of Christ, but the means where we do not compromise the Word in process. The Word has a lasting, abiding value as a carrier of truth.

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