Who created God?

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Who Created God? And how can God be three and one? Aren’t these „mysteries,” and don’t Christians just have to say, „we don’t know”? Explore with John Lennox as he explores hard questions and objections to Christianity. First an 11 minute clip and then the entire lecture video at the bottom of the posting of John Lennox at UCLA.

QUESTION:

Daniel Lowenstein: One of the most basic difficulties for those who hold the view of a materialistic universe is the question of a beginning. And, as you pointed out, before Christianity has long claimed that the universe was created, and now we have the big bang theory that at least suggests (that) it started at a certain time. And yet, there’s always the issue, „Yes, but if there can’t be an uncaused cause, then what created God? And I guess, Christianity gives different answers to that. As I understand it, Augustine’s answer was that God was outside time. And in a way, that’s a good answer, but it seems to me that that’s a way of saying, „We don’t know what the explanation is, because none of us has the slightest idea of what it means to be outside time. Or, Christianity says that the Father, or the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three, but they are one. And from those statements, many wonderful things follow. And yet, it seems to be a way of saying, „We don’t know what it is, because we have no idea what it means to be three and be one, and of how a God as powerful and as amazing as, let’s say the God of Job, could appear in the form as a human being and be the Holy Spirit. So my point is this, I think this may be a strength or weakness, but, it does seem that many of the difficult questions are just explained by mysteries- which is a Christian word, that in a way are saying, „We don’t know.”

ANSWER:

I love this particular thing and I think about it a great deal because it’s absolutely obvious that replacing one mystery by another is not always a helpful way forward. Let’s unpack this because there are 3 or 4 questions. Let’s come to that first question which has interested me because it has become a great focus recently. Both in North America and in Europe, everybody’s talking about it. I thought I left it behind in Russia. And that’s the question:

Who created God?

Dawkins has made it the heart of his book ‘The God delusion’. I was staggered when I found it there. I used to get this all the time at the academy of sciences, when I was traveling to Russia in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s. It was almost the first question. If you believe that God created the universe, then logically you’ve got to ask the question: Who created God? And then who created the God who created God… ad infinitum. And that was the end of God, of course. And that’s exactly what Dawkins says in the God delusion. Let’s analyze it for a moment. (Transcript continues below this video…)

VIDEO by VeritasForum website www.veritas.org

Who created God? If you ask that question, that shows you’ve immediately categorized God as created. So you’re talking about a created god. Now, can you imagine if Richard Dawkins had written a book called ‘The created god delusion’? I don’t think many people would have bought it, because I don’t need him to tell me that created gods are a delusion. We usually call them idols, incidentally.

This question is extremely interesting, because it’s an illustration of a question that rules out the explanation that’s most likely to be true because the Christian claim was that God wasn’t created. So if God was uncreated. „In the beginning was the Word..” and I am coming into your 3 in 1 (questions) now, and I’m bringing it in obliquely. „In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the word was God. He already was. So, the central Christian claim is, and in Judaism and Islam, of course, equally is that God is eternal. So, the question, by definition, doesn’t even apply to Him. And that’s immensely important. The only thing you can get out of it then, in the negative sense is to assume that everything is in the category of the created. But, that’s just begging the original question. And the Greeks were interested in it, and that’s why John’s Gospel starts with those words. „In the beginning, the Word already was.” And then it says all things came to be through Him.

The Greeks were interested in the question as two categories. The things that came to be- the created things, and the things that already were. And the question resolves down to this. Is there a thing, or a being that never came to be? And that is the Christian claim. And that is called GOD. Richard Dawkins, and I had a debate with him on this very topic in Oxford, and I said to him, „Richard, You say that who created God is a legitimate question. I don’t think that it is. But, let me assume now that it is. You believe that the universe created you. So, I beg leave now to ask you your own question: Who created your own creator?”” I am waiting still for the answer. That’s the first point.

ON THE TRINITY: Very briefly to the second point. God is three in one. Is it a mystery? Yes, it is. I was talking to about 1,000 scientists. A man came up to me afterwards, a physicist, and said, „That was very interesting, all that talk about God. But, do you know, I detect you’re a Christian.” I said, „You’re pretty sharp.” He said, „Come off it. As a Christian, you’re obliged to believe that God is a triunity. That Jesus was God and man.” And he said, „You’re a mathematician. This is absurd. Can you explain it to me?”

„Well,” I said, „can I ask you a question first?” He said, „Sure.” So I said, „Tell me, what is consciousness?” And he thought for a second and he said, „I don’t know.” I said, „That’s ok, let me try an easier one. What is energy?” „Well,” he said, „I’m a physicist, I can measure energy, I can use it.” „You know,” I said, „that’s not my question. What is it?” He said, „I don’t know.” „Oh,” I said, „that’s very interesting. You don’t know. Tell me, do you believe in consciousness?” „Yes,” he said. „Do you believe in energy?” „Yes,” he said. „So, you believe in these 2 things and you don’t know what they are. Should I write you off as an intellectual?” And he said, „Please don’t.” And I said, „That’s exactly what you were going to do with me five minutes ago.” I said, „If you don’t know what energy is, nobody does- and if you don’t believe that read Richard Fineman. If you don’t know what energy is, don’t be surprised if energy, light, gravity and consciousness are a mystery. Don’t be surprised if you’re going to get an element of this in God. You’re bound to get it.”

But, now I pushed him a bit further. And I said, „Why do you believe in these things if you don’t know what they are?” That was a bit difficult and I tried to help him out. And I said, „You believe in these things because of their explanatory powers concept.” And he said, „That’s exactly right.” I said, „Look, of course I can’t explain to you how God became human. But, the only explanation that makes sense are the evidence as I see it. I’ve got a simple analogy that might help you. It’s a low level analogy, but at least it’s biblical. I’m married. I’ve been married for 42 1/2 yrs, to the same person. And my wife and I are in a sense one. We’re two persons in one flesh, the Bible would say, but in one unit. And it seems to me that in the very least (don’t misunderstand me when I say this) that this mystery is telling us something magnificent about God. God is not a monolith, who to put it crudely was lonely, so He made a few people, so He could have somebody to talk to.  God is Himself a fellowship.” Now that’s undimensioned and we can’t grasp it, but there is a sense, I feel it’s got to be something like that.

And here is the full video. Description:

Children believe in the tooth fairy until their reasoning capabilities mature and they recognize this belief is neither grounded nor relevant. Does belief in Jesus Christ require a suspension of logic? Can Christianity be proven to be true? UCLA law professor Daniel Lowenstein interviews Oxford mathematician John Lennox with honest questions about Christianity and the grounds for faith. This will be followed by audience Q&A.

Johnn Lennox full lecture 2011

[official] Christianity and the Tooth Fairy

Darwin’s Doubt: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (Kenneth Samples)

  • God created the universe with laws and logical principles
  • But, what if there is no God and the human mind is the product of a mechanistic, non rational process? Why should them, the human mind be able to correspond with the universe? These questions led me to the talk I am about to give here:
  • Some of you may not be aware that Darwin had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin was a reflective individual by nature and he worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory.
  • One of his genuine concerns was whether man’s cognitive  (or belief-producing) faculties which he believed had evolved from the lower animals, could be trusted to produce reliable, true beliefs about reality itself.
  • So then our question is: DO OUR COGNITIVE FACULTIES PROVIDE US WITH RELIABLE TRUE BELIEFS ABOUT THE COSMOS (THE WORLD, ABOUT REALITY)? If the Christian worldview is true and God created the universe and He created us in His image and He networked us together, then it makes sense that mathematics works, that the human mind has true beliefs about reality. And so, what if God doesn’t exist?
  • Self defeating. Several thinkers have argued that the worldview of naturalism (the view that nature is the sole reality and that no supernatural realities or entities exist) involves a fundamental state of epistemological incoherence or is self-defeating in nature. Why would an increasing number of theists think that evolutionary naturalism is potentially incoherent? Because it seems to fail to provide a viable pathway to ensure that humans develop reliable, true beliefs about reality. And the deliverances of science depend upon humans having reliable and true beliefs about the natural world. A physicist (not Christian and not a theist) at MIT recently raised a question, he said, „For creatures that were engineered by evolution to be able to pick bananas and throw rocks is to survive. Human beings seem far too intellectually endowed for naturalistic evolution to be an adequate explanation. I think, if we were engineered by evolution simply to survive, we seem to be incredibly, overly endowed.
  • The idea that atheistic evolutionary naturalism can reliably account for man’s rational faculties and explain how human beings can discover truth faces three potential defeaters. I think these are

The three defeaters when it comes to evolutionary naturalism:

  1. Naturalism postulates a non rational source for man’s rationality. If a person accepts the evolutionary naturalistic worldview, then he must also accept that the ultimate source of people’s reasoning faculties was not itself rational (endowed with reason), nor was it personal (self-aware, intelligent), and it was not teleological (purposive) in nature. Rather, the source was a non rational, impersonal, purposeless process consisting of a combination of genetic mutations, variation, and environmental factors (natural selection). Naturalism therefore postulates that a combination of random chance and blind impersonal natural processes (physical and chemical in nature) produced humanity’s rational faculties. However, presuming that a non rational, chance origin explains human intelligence raises legitimate questions about whether human reason can be trusted. According to the presumptions of science, an effect requires an adequate and sufficient cause, and indeed that effect cannot be greater than the cause. (The principle of causality)
  2. Evolution promotes a Species’ survivability, not its true beliefs. Evolution by natural selection is said to have taken billions of years to produce intellectual and sensory capacities in people. But that process operated solely in light of survival value and reproductive advantage. In other words, evolution functioned only to enhance a particular organism’s adaptation to its environment– thus promoting that species’ continued existence. What a particular species believes about its environment is nonessential to the process. Also, whether the organism’s convictions about reality are indeed true is highly questionable. In some cases reliably true beliefs might contribute to survivability, but in others the truths of the beliefs would be irrelevant.
  3. False beliefs illustrate evolutionary naturalism’s epistemological unreliability. Some naturalistic scientists and philosophers today have only served to heighten Darwin’s original doubt by suggesting that man’s inherent religious impulse is itself driven by evolution. In other words, beliefs in God, objective morality, and life after death are evolutionary generated beliefs that must have served some survival purpose in the distant past. (also the God gene). Richard Dawkins has gone further, arguing that belief in God is a mental delusion caused by a malfunction in the evolutionary process of the human brain. However, attributing man’s false religious beliefs (from the naturalist perspective) to the evolutionary process only adds suspicion to Darwin’s original doubt. If evolution is responsible for humankind’s virtually universal religious impulse, which from a naturalistic point of view is patently false ( and even pernicious according to Dawkins), then human history shows that false beliefs about reality have promoted human survivability more than true beliefs. Ex. If I have false beliefs, but those beliefs were generated by evolution to help me survive, why can’t I have serious doubt about evolution and the naturalist worldview? If evolutionary naturalism can cause a person to believe that which is false (such as religious oriented beliefs) in order to promote survivability, then what confidence can evolutionists muster that their convictions are reliable, true beliefs? And if evolution cannot guarantee true beliefs in a person’s mind, then how does one know that belief in evolutionary naturalism itself is a true belief  about the world?

This is a PowerPoint video of the lecture. The PowerPoint slides begin to change 3 minutes into the lecture.

Published on Jun 7, 2012 by 

How Darwinian evolution refutes naturalism and atheism. Titled: „Darwin’s Doubt: Can Naturalistically Evolved Human Minds Be Trusted to Yield True Beliefs About Reality?” Presented to CNS on November 15, 2010 by: Dr. Ken Samples, MA. Reasons to Believe, Glendora, CA 91740

A reflective person by nature, Charles Darwin initially had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory. One of the areas in particular that bothered Darwin was whether an evolved human mind could be trusted to produce reliable truth about reality. This lecture by professor Kenneth Samples proposes that atheistic, evolutionary naturalism faces three potential defeaters in its attempt to explain humankind’s rational faculties in general and truth about reality in particular.

The Veritas Forum: Belief in an Age of Skepticism? Tim Keller at University of California at Berkeley (essential apologetics)

Tim Keller speaking to University students for 1 1/2 hours at UC Berkeley. He addresses difficult questions with intellectual integrity. Professor of economics (Phd from MIT) Paul A Ruud, introduces Tim Keller, founder of Redeemer Church in Manhattan, New York and author of many books.As always, Tim takes questions from the university students for the latter half of the program.Tim Keller starts with the main reasons why people are skeptical of belief in God, in general and Christianity, in particular.”The one reason people today are skeptical is because they believe that for someone to say, ‘I know God, I have the truth’, is too exclusive a way of speaking in a pluralistic society filled with all kinds of views and religions. and it’s also too divisive in a Democratic society because „People”, it is said, „that say they know God and they have the truth, feel impelled (they can’t help themselves) to impose those beliefs on us, at least legislatively by law and in some cases to really oppress and marginalize people.Now, how do you justify then, belief in God and especially the most of all religious claim that says- Jesus Christ is the one true way to God?

Tim Keller talks about the 5 strategies that people (especially New atheists like Dawkins et al ) use to address exclusive truth claims and divisiveness of religion. They try to:

  1. Hope it away
  2. Outlaw it
  3. Explain it away
  4. Argue it away
  5. Privatize it

Tim Keller explains point by point why that will not work and talks about a different way forward.

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The Veritas Forum: Belief in an Age of Skeptici…, posted with vodpod

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Tim Keller answers many difficult questions on Christianity from journalist Martin Bashir (Veritas) (essential lecture)

At Columbia University- 1/2 hour questions by MSNBC journalist Martin Bashir and then questions and answer session from Columbia University students. Very important and thoughtful questions answered wisely by Tim Keller.

Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons,  answers many difficult questions on Christianity – and speaks from his book ‘The Reason for God’. Tim Keller is questioned by Martin Bashir (MSNBC) who also gave Rob Bell (Love wins author that stirred controversy with his open ended questions on Universalism) a tough interview for MSNBC.

Redeemer Church is „one of Manhattan’s most vital congregations,” according to Christianity Today [12/04 Tim Keller started a Church Planting Center in 2001, and its phone has not stopped ringing since. He is committed to the church planting movement and ‘entering the culture’s stories and retelling them with the gospel’.” Redeemer’s vision is to spread the gospel, first through ourselves and then through the city by word, deed, and community; To bring about personal changes, social healing, and cultural renewal through a movement of churches and ministries that change New York City and through it, the world

There is a  second video lecture given at PennU (niversity) in 2008 where Tim Keller discusses ‘The Reasons for God’ (58 minutes) hosted on the Westminster Theological Seminary site.

From the Veritas Forum at Veritas.org

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