Monday, April 6, 2009

Secular Liberalism as Consensus

Recently, I got into a lengthy blog debate with liberal secularist writer Damon Linker on the topic of same-sex marriage. It ended, as these things always do, with mutual frustration. Linker decided that I, a traditionalist conservative, believe gay marriage should be illegal because ... I believe it should be illegal. And I reached the same conclusion about his support of same-sex marriage.

To Linker, my argument looks like faith-based special pleading. Likewise, his rationale struck me as little more than emotivism - the idea that something is true because it feels right.

Full Article

Note: I hope to get back to blogging sometime soon. I've been so demolished with school work that I've not had time to do anything else recently.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brits De-Baptising

More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith.

The initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) follows atheist campaigns here and elsewhere, including a London bus poster which triggered protests by proclaiming "There's probably* (emphasis mine) no God."

. . .

The bus-side posters that hit London in January sported the message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Full Article.

*I'm not sure how comforting I would find the assertion that there is probably no God, but whatever... I find it terribly ironic and hilarious when people say that religion, particularly Christianity, is the opiate of the masses.

As Dinesh D'Souza points out in What's So Great About Christianity, it is atheism and atheists that engage in wishful thinking and self-deception convincing themselves that no God exists. If Christianity, for example, were an opiate, why would the peddlers have included the doctrine of Hell? Or the most rigorous, demanding moral standard of any religion?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Francis Schaeffer's Absolute Limits Bible Believing Christians Cannot Compromise.

In his book The Church Before the Watching World, Francis Schaeffer set forth some limits that orthodox, Bible-believing Christians cannot compromise, and cannot cross. He speaks of two types of concepts: 1) Intrinsic Concepts; and 2) those concepts that are true only after the Fall.

Intrinsic Concepts: things as true before the Fall as after the Fall.
  • God exists and He is free. Christianity does not have a deterministic system. God did not create because He had to. God does not need the creation, the way the creation needs him. God is a personal God, but he had personal relationship and communication on the high order of the Trinity. "The persons of the Trinity loved each other and communicated with each other before the creation of all things. God exists, and He did not need to create." (168)
  • "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelations 4:11)
  • God created out of nothing, and the infinity of the Judeo-Christian, personal God is of such a nature that when He created He did not need to put chance back of Himself.
  • The Persons of the Trinity must be kept distinct. There is true unity and diversity, not behind God but in God. This is ontologically true of the Trinity before the creation of all else.
    "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24). "Let us make man in our own image." (Gen. 1:26)
  • God has a character, and His holiness is part of His character. God's holiness involves moral content. Some thing conform to His nature, and some things do not.
    Of course, this has tremendous ramifications, for the fact that God is holy means something to the individual and it means something to the group. It demands holiness in our personal life and holiness in the church in both life and doctrine. . . . And yet we fall off the opposite cliff if we forget that God is love. (p173).
The Absolute Limits which are true only after the Fall.
  • The HISTORIC SPACE-TIME NATURE OF THE FALL (emphasis mine).
    Orthodox Christians believe in the brute fact of the historic, space-time Fall. The historic Fall is not an interpretation; it is a brute fact. There is no room for hermeneutics here, if by hermeneutics we mean explaining away the bruge factness of the Fall. That there was a Fall is not an upper-story statement--that is, it is not in this sense a "theological" or "religious" statement. Rather, it is a historic, space-time, brute fact, propositional statement. (p174).
  • Christ's death and resurrection are historic, space-time brute facts that have already occurred, and the second coming of Christ is a historic, space-time brute fact that will occur in the future. (p174).
  • We must reject the concept of subjectivity with regard to these historical events; but we must also realize that these brute facts are not just theological abstractions or bare propositions. They are to have meaning in our present lives, and they are to be acted upon in our present lives. There is no Christian doctrine that does not have meaning in the existential, moment-by-moment life. (p175)
  • Justification must not be confused with sanctification
  • Justification is once-for-all, and this justification is not to be confused with the moment-by-moment Christian life. Justification is once-for-all, and yet if there are no signs of such a moment-by-moment Christian life, we must question whether or not there has ever been justification. (p176)
  • There is such a thing as absolute right and absolute wrong in systems.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 6

This is Part 6 of the apologetic regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ as set forth by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli which I am summarzing here part by part, and lifting large parts of the chapter directly onto here. If I'm inserting my own opinion, or using other sources I will make it clear.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.
Part 5 can be found here.

The Main Argument, con't.

The Trilemma: Lord, Liar or Lunatic?

Perhaps Jesus sincerely thought that he was God, but was mistaken. If Jesus was mistaken about who he was, while he could not be considered "morally" bad because he did not intentionally deceive people, he would be considered "mentally" bad. A lunatic may not be wicked, but he is not more trustworthy than a liar.

Either Jesus believed his own claim to be God or he did not. If he did, he was a lunatic. If he did not, he was a liar. Unless, of course, he was (is) God.

Why could he not be either a liar or a lunatic? Because of his character. There are two things everyone admits about Jesus' character: he was wise and he was good. A lunatic and a liar are the opposite of wise and good.

The "divinity complex" is a recognized form of psychopathology. Its character traits are: egotism, narcissism, inflexibility, dullness, predictability, inability to understand and love others as they really are and creatively relate to others. A person exhibiting the attributes of "divinity complex" are essentially people with the polar opposite personality of Jesus. Jesus had the three attributes every human being needs and wants: wisdom, love, and creativity.

"He wisely and cannily saw into people's hearts, behind their words. He solved insolvable problems. He also gave totally to others, including his very life. Finally, he was the most creative, interesting, unpredictable man who ever lived. No one--believer, unbeliever or agnostic--was ever bored by him. The common verb predicated of those who met Jesus was "thaumazo", "To wonder." Lunatics are not wonderful, but jesus was the most wonderful person in history. If that were lunacy, lunacy would be more desirable than sanity.

If, on the other hand, Jesus was a liar, then he had to have been the most clever, cunning, machiavellian, blasphemously wicked satanic deceiver the world has ever known, successfully seducing billions into giving up their eternal souls into his hands. If orthodox Christianity is a lie, it is by far the biggest and baddest lie ever told, and Jesus is the biggest and baddest liar.

But in every way jesus was morally impeccable. He had all the virtues, both soft and hard, tender and tough. Further, he died for his "lie." What would motivate a selfish, evil liar to do that? We have never known anyone who thought Jesus was a deliberate liar. That would be more biarre than calling Mother Teresa a party animal.
Next, I will finish up the remainder of the Trilemma, and then hopefully soon get to the Quadrilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic or Myth?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Excerpt from "The Church Before the Watching World"

"Liberalism is unfaithfulness, spiritual adultery toward the divine Bridegroom. We are involved, therefore, in a matter of loyalty, loyalty not only to the creeds, but to the Scripture and beyond that to the divine Bridegroom--the infinite-personal divine Bridegroom who is there in an absolute antithesis to His not being there.

We not only believe in the existence of truth, but we have the truth--a truth that has content and can be verbalized (and then can be lived)--a truth we can share with the twentieth-century world. Do you think our contemporaries will take us seriously if we do not practice truth? Do you think for a moment that the really serious-minded twentieth-century young people--our own youth as they go off to universities, who are taught in the fields of sociology, psychology, philosophy, etc., that all is relative--will take us seriously? In an age that does not believe that truth exists, do you reallyu believe they will take seriously that their fathers are speaking truth and believe in truth? Will their fathers have credibility, if they do not practice antithesis in religious matters?"

-Francis Schaeffer, The Church Before the Watching World

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prosperity Theology

I do my best to not judge how others worship God, or the type of Christian Church they attend because as Ravi Zacharias poignantly said "unity of faith doesn't mean uniformity of expression," and ultimately how one worships isn't results-oriented towards pleasing a humanly 3rd party, but rather towards praising God.

However, Prosperity Theology crosses me as distinctly American. Embracing the assumption that God always physically heals or protects trusting, praying believers from tragedies stands in bold contrast to the history of the Christian church marked by martyrdom and sacrifice of its believers.

Not to mention what the Bible teaches:
  • [W]e rejoice that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rm 5:3-5)
  • Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (Jm 1:2-4)
  • The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation; but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a flower of the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities. (Jm 1:9-11).
None of us want to suffer, and C.S. Lewis said along the lines that it is easier to talk about the problem of pain until you have a toothache, however to expect life to be magically easier when one accepts Christ is simply mistaken. True, we ought to be the most joyous people on Earth, but that doesn't mean that we are guaranteed a life of pain-free luxury. Rather, the biggest difference when one accepts Christ's eternal gift is the ability and the strength to view things from a Godly perspective.

Does the Moral Argument Show There Is a God?

An Argument by Paul Copan.

Here's a good rule of thumb about morality: Never believe those who say murder or rape may not really be wrong. Such people haven't looked deeply enough into the basis for moral belief--and just aren't functioning properly. (Usually, when personally threatened with murder or rape, they change their tune!) Color-blind persons need help distinguishing red from green. Similarly, morally malfunctioning persons (those denying basic moral truths) don't need arguments; they need psychological and spiritual help. Like logical laws, moral laws and instincts are basically to well-functioning humans.

As part of God's general self-revelation, all people--unless they ignore or suppress their conscience--can and should have basic moral insight, knowing truths generally available to any morally sensitive person (Rm 2:14-15). We instinctively recognize the wrongness of torturing or murdering the innocent or committing rape. We just know the rightness of virtues (kindness, trustworthiness, unselfishness). A person's failure to recognize these insights reveals something defective; he hasn't looked deeply enough into the grounds of his moral beliefs.

Philosophers and theologians past and present have noted the connection between God's existence and objective moral values. A moral argument for God's existence goes like this:
  • If objective moral values exist, then God exists
  • Objective moral values do exist
  • Therefore, God exists
If objective moral values exist, where do they come from? The most plausible answer is God's nature or character. Even many atheists have admitted that objective moral values (which they deny)* don't fit an atheistic world but would serve as evidence for God's existence.

We live in a time when many claim everything is relative, yet ironically they believe they have "rights." But if morality is just the product of evolution, culture, or personal choice, then rights--and moral responsibility--do not truly exist. But if they do, this assumes humans have value in and of themselves as persons, no matter what their culture or science textbooks say. But what, then, is the basis for this value? Could this intrinsic value just emerge from impersonal, mindless, valueless processes over time (naturalism)?

An Eastern philosophical approach to ethics is monism (sometimes called "pantheism"): because everything is one, no ultimate distinction between good and evil exists. This serves to support relativism. A more natural context for ethics is the theistic one, one in which we've been made by a good God to resemble Him in certain important (though limited) ways. The Declaration of Independence correctly notes that we've been endowed by our Creator with "certain inalienable rights." Human dignity isn't just "there." Dignity and rights come from a good God (despite human sinfulness).

Can't atheists be moral? Yes! Like believers, they've been made in the image of God and thus have the ability to recognize right and wrong.

Doesn't God Himself conform to certain moral standards outside Himself? No, God's good character is the very standard; God simply acts and naturally does what is good. Universal moral standards have no basis if God doesn't exist.
--------------------------------------------------------------
*Michael Martin has actually made the argument that objective moral values can and do exist without God. However, he is unable to provide an ontological foundation for said values, and is relegated to such ideas that they "just are" or they are there by supervenience. But supervenience by what? And from what? From a nonmoral source? That's the problem he runs into, and that is the argument he essentially makes.

Martin, however, takes the argument because he understands that without objective moral values, he runs into the problem of morality just becoming a matter of personal preference, and there is no standard other than the individual person.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do We Really Believe God Is There?

"Suppose we awoke tomorrow morning and we opened our Bibles and found two things had been taken out, not as the liberals would take them out, but really out. Suppose God ahd taken them out. the first item missing was the real empowering of the Holy Spirit, and the second item the reality of prayer. Consequently, following the dictates of Scipture, we would begin to love on the basis of this new Bible in which there was nothing about the power of prayer. Let me ask you something: what difference would there be from the way we acted yesterday? Do we really believe God is there? If we do, we live differently."

-Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (p40)

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 5

This is Part 5 of the apologetic regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ as set forth by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli which I am summarzing here part by part, and lifting large parts of the chapter directly onto here. If I'm inserting my own opinion, or using other sources I will make it clear.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.

The Main Argument
There are only five possible answers to the question: If Jesus is not God, what is he? The possible answers/alternatives to Christ's divinity are:
  1. Jesus either Lord, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.
  2. He could not possibly be a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.
  3. Therefore "Jesus is Lord" (the earliest Christian creed) if he did not lie about who he was, or a bad man (if he did).
This can be and needs to be developed part-by-part.

The Dilemma: Lord or Liar? Aut deus aut homo malus ("Either God or a bad man.")
  1. Jesus was either God (if he did not lie about who he was) or a bad man (if he did).
  2. But Jesus was not a bad man. (Very few will challenge the premise that Jesus was not a bad man.)
  3. Therefore jesus was (is) God.
But what justifies the first preimse, that Jesus was either God or a bad man? Why all or nothing? Answer: Common sense.
Someone who claims to be God and is not, is not a good man but a bad man. Merely a "good man" is one thing Jesus could not possible be.* By claiming to be God he eliminated that possibility. For a liar is not a good man, and one who lies about his essential identity is a liar, and a mere man who claims to be God lies about his essential identity.
------------------------------
*I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but i don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.


-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, March 6, 2009

An Impartment of Truth: Excerpts from "The Screwtape Letters"

I have gotten a few laughs out of The Screwtape Letters, but it is also a particularly enlightening book. Here are some of the things that have stood out so far:

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

"I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. . . . We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics." -Screwtape

"Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks rounds upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." -Screwtape

"I am almost glad to hear that he is still a churchgoer and a communicant. I know there are dangers in this; but anything is better than that he should realize the break he has made with the first months of his Christian life. As long as he retains externally the habits of a Christian he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognized sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn't been doing very well lately." -Screwtape

The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 4

This is Part 4 of the apologetic regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ as set forth by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli which I am summarzing here part by part, and lifting large parts of the chapter directly onto here. If I'm inserting my own opinion, or using other sources I will make it clear.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.

Why then did anyone believe Jesus' claim to be God?
The simple reason is that Jesus of Nazareth was good, wise, and trustworthy. The same thing can be found in Buddhism. The claims of Buddhism are equally incredible to Christianity. To believe that we are all living in perpetual illusion, our thoughts are false, that you and I and time and space are all illusions, and that everything is in actuality nameless and empty. People have believed this doctrine not because Buddhism seemed likely, or obvious, but rather because Buddha seemed true.

The same principle explains how Christianity expanded from 12 apostles around 30 A.D. to a billion believers today. We believe the astonishing claims of Christ's divinity because we believe Jesus Christ. To deny Christianity, you have to deny Jesus, and his claim to divinity.

The Impossibility of the Alternative
As to the fact that Jesus claimed to be God, perhaps the New Testament texts lie, or perhaps Christianity is a myth. But... this raises more difficult questions.

1. If the Gospels lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? Was it Jesus' apostles? What did they get out of the lie? Martyrdom--hardly an attractive temptation. Don't liars typically have selfish motives?

2. Why did thousands suffer torture and death for a lie? Pascal said "the human heart is very fickle," and particularly the heart of a liar. The enemies of early Christianity simply needed to produce one confession from one of Jesus' disciples that it was all a lie, a hoax. After myriad forms of torture and bribery were attempted, not one disciple or apostle cracked.

3. What force sent Christians to the lions' den with hymns on their lips? What lie is capable of making a man like that? Christianity conquered the world mainly through the force of sanctity and love. Saints, not theologians, converted the world. You cannot fake sanctity.

4. If it wasn't a lie, but a hallucination, or a myth mistaken for a literal truth, who were the fools who believed it? There isn't another idea a Jew would be less likely to believe.
Imagine this: the transcendent God who for millennia had strictly forbidden his chosen people to confuse him with a creature as the pagans did--this Creator-God became a creature, a man--a crucified criminal. Hardly a myth that arises naturally in the Jewish mind!
5. If it wasn't the Jews but the Gentiles who started the myth, where did it come from? Of the 27 books of the New Testament, only two were written by Gentiles.

6. If it were a myth, it could not have been a myth that could have started during the lifetime of those who knew the real Jesus; it would've been publicly refuted by eyewitnesses who knew the facts.
Other religious founders, like Buddha and Muhammad, were indeed "divinized" by later myths, but at least two or three generations (more usually two or three centuries) had to pass before such myths could be believed. But the "myth" of Jesus' divinity goes back to the very earliest times and documents.
7. Why has the "muth" continued to attract the brightest minds in history? If you pit Paul of Tarsus, John the Evangelist, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, John Damascene, Origen, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Boethius, Erigena, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Bonaventura, Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Cusa, Cajetan, Luther, Calvin, Kepler, Ignatius Loyola, Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Berkeley, Copernicus, Newton, Kierkegaard, Newman, Pasteur, Jaspers, Marcel, Galileo, Tolstoy, Chesterton, Dostoyevsky, T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis against Machiavelli, Hobbes, Renan, Freud, Drawin, Marx, La Mettrie, Skinner, Nietzsche, Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Ayer, and Paine it would hardly be a fair fight.
Aquinas argues that if the Incarnation did not really happen, then an even more unbelievable miracle happened: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie inhistory and the moral transformation of lives into unselfishness, detachment from worldy pleasures and radically new heights of holiness by a mere myth
No one has ever satisfactorily answered the simple question: If Jesus is not God, as Christians say he is, then who is he?
Next--The Main Arguments attempting to explain away what Jesus is/was.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Impartment of Truth

“[I]f Truth is objective, if we live in a world we did not create and cannot change merely by thinking, if the world is not really a dream of our own, then the most destructive belief we could possibly believe would be the denial of this primary fact. It would be like closing your eyes while driving, or blissfully ignoring the doctor’s warnings.”

-C.S. Lewis

“You are free in our time to say that God doesn’t exist. You are free to say he exists and is evil. You are even free to say that God would like to exist if he could. You may talk of God as a mystification or a metaphor, you may boil him down with gallons of long words, or boil him to the rags of metaphysics; and, it is not that nobody punishes you but that nobody protests. But if you speak of God as a real thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, the modern world will stop you somehow if it can. We are long past talking about whether an unbeliever should be punished for being irreverent. It is now thought irreverent to be a believer.”

-G.K. Chesterton

"If the beloved is transformed into an automaton, the lover finds himself alone."

-Jean-Paul Sartre



Monday, March 2, 2009

The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 3

This is Part 3 of the apologetic regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ as set forth by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli which I am summarzing here part by part, and lifting large parts of the chapter directly onto here. If I'm inserting my own opinion, or using other sources I will make it clear.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.

Some Clues to the Possibility of the Doctrine.
1. C.S. Lewis calls the Incarnation "myth becomes fact." Throughout history are various myths of a god who came down from heaven, some even tell of a god who died and rose for the life of man. Just as the flood story appears in may different traditions and legends, something akin to the Jesus story does too. However, this does not lend credence to the idea that the Jesus story itself is a made up myth, but rather, the more witnesses tell a similar story, the more likely it is to be true. The more foreshadowings for an event, the more likely it is that the event will happen.

2. How does the critic who says the Incarnation is impossible, know so much about God that they know what God can or cannot do, did not do?

If the objection is that the doctrine of the Incarnation claims too much, claims to know too much, the response is that to deny it claims to know much more. Logically, a universal negative proposition is the hardest kind to prove.
3. If God exists, he must be omnipotent, and able to do anything that is possible, anything that is meaningful, and doesn't involve self-contradiction. The Incarnation is not self-contradiction, therefore the Incarnation is possible.

There are several other points, but I'm going to move on to Arguments for Christ's Divinity.

Christ's Trustworthiness
Everyone throughout history agrees that Jesus of Nazareth was a good and wise man, a great and profound teacher. Even nonbelievers such as Ghandi saw him as history's greatest moral teacher. In other words, he is seen by all people as eminently trustworthy. (If you do not see Christ as eminently trustworthy based on the Gospels, you have some other reason for not thinking so--such as skepticism regarding the historical reliability of the Gospels).

If a teacher is trustworthy, he can be trusted particularly when it comes to his own identity. If we do not trust Jesus of Nazareth about his own identity, we cannot say that he is trustworthy.

The size of the gap between what you are and what you think you are is a pretty good index of your insanity. If I believe I am the best writer in America, I am an egotistical fool, but I am not insane. If I believe I am Napoleon, I am probably near the edge. If I believe I am the archangel Gabriel, I am probably well over it. And if I believe I am God? . . . Would you send your children to Sunday school to be taught by a man who thought he was God?
Why then did anyone believe Jesus' claim to be God?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

David's Plea for Mercy

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse with me hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:1-7

Monday, February 23, 2009

"...Nothing But a Collection of Atoms..."

"The universe is nothing but a collection of atoms in motion, human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living." -Richard Dawkins


"The universe is nothing but a collection of atoms in motion, human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living." -Richard Dawkins


"The universe is nothing but a collection of atoms in motion, human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living." -Richard Dawkins


"The universe is nothing but a collection of atoms in motion, human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA, adn the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living." -Richard Dawkins

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Prayer of the Skeptic

"God, I don't know whether you exist or not, but if you do, please show me who you are."

If you say that prayer, mean it, are intellectually honest with the data, and morally honest with yourself, you will not have to coldly and forcibly "believe as a matter of policy" as Dawkins would suggest. (The God Delusion, p130).

Rather, the Spirit of Jesus Christ will take care of the rest.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Mt 7:8-8).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 2

This is Part 2 of the apologetic regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ as set forth by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli which I am summarzing here part by part, and lifting large parts of the chapter directly onto here. If I'm inserting my own opinion, or using other sources I will make it clear.

Part 1 can be found here.

The Importance of the Issue
The difference between an orthodox Christian and a non-Christian or a modern revisionist is that the Christian believes that Jesus Christ defeated death by rising from the dead on Easter Sunday, and that he is the risen Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity.

Christians have come to believe a significant amount of their doctrine because the Doctrine of the Incarnation lies as a predicate foundation. Christians take much of their doctrine from the authority of Christ, as it is recorded in the Bible.

If Christ is divine, then the incarnation of God is the most important event in history.

There is also an unparalleled present existential bite to the doctrine. He is an omnipotent God and present right now, he can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can. And, if Christ is divine, our absolute obligation is to believe everything he says and obey everything he commands.

The Difficulty of the Doctrine
Christians ought to realize how difficult, objectionable, and unbelievably absurd this doctrine is bound to appear to non-believers. They need to understand this for apologetic purposes to understand the state of mind of prospective converts, and for purposes of appreciating their own belief in all its astounding character.

The difficulty is a double one. First, there is the immediate, instinctive, intuitive shock. everyone who met Jesus was shocked. No one understood him--his disciples, his enemies, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans, Sadducees, Pharisees, the pious, the impious, the learned, the unlearned, liberals, conservatives--no one. No one had ever met anyone like Jesus before. "Never has anyone spoken like this" (Jn 7:46).

Second, on the reflective, rational level this claim seems patently absurd. It is the claim of a man who came from a woman's womb, grew from a baby, got hungry and tired and angry, suffered and died--to be divine!

Tomorrow, I'll summarize what Kreeft sets forth which are clues to the possibility of the doctrine, and then arguments for Christ's divinity such as his trustworthiness, and the impossibility of the alternative, competing possibilities known as the quadrilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Myth? And Kreeft doesn't presuppose that they are competing "possibilities" are "impossibilities", he sets out a considerable case explaining in a logical fashion why each horn of the quadrilemma is fallacious.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Faith and Works and Faith Alone and Protestants and Catholics

I feel compelled to transcribe a few paragraphs from Peter Kreeft, since Catholics and Protests still to this day commonly misunderstand one another on soteriology (salvation). The "faith and works" issue is particularly important because it is most likely where the heresy that "all good people go to Heaven" comes from, and has to be cleared up wherever that ugly booger rears its head.

The issue of salvation sparked the Protestant Reformation and split the church. It seemed to both sides at the time that Protestants and Catholics taught two radically different gospels, two religions, two answers to the msot basic of all questions: What must I do to be saved? Catholics said you must both believe and practice good works to be saved. Luther, Calvin, Wycliffe and Knox insisted that faith alone saves you. Unfortunately, both sides have been talking past each other for 450 years. But there is strong evidence that it was essentially a misunderstanding and that it is beginning to be cleared up.

Both sides used key terms, faith and salvation, but in different senses.

1. Catholics used teh term salvation to refer to the whole process, from its beginning in faith, through the whole Christian life of the works of love on earth, to its completion in heaven. When Luther spoke of salvation he meant the initial step--like getting into Noah's ark of salvation--not the whole journey.

2. By faith Catholics meant only one of the three needed "theological virtues" (faith, hope and love), faith being intellectual belief. To Luther, faith meant accepting Christ with your whole heart and soul.

Thus, since Catholics were using salvation in a bigger sense and faith in a smaller sense, and Luther was using salvation in a smaller sense and faith in a bigger sense, Catholics rightly denied and Luther rightly affirmed that we were saved by faith alone.

Catholics taught that salvation included more than faith, just as a plant includes more than its roots. It needs its stem (hope) and its fruits (love) as well as its root (faith). Luther taught that good works can't buy salvation, that all you need to do and all you can do to be saved is to accept it, accept the Savior, by faith.

Both sides spoke the truth. Since truth cannot contradict truth, the two sides really did not contradict each other on this most important of all questions. That assessment may sound unduly optimistic, but it is essentially what Catholic and Lutheran theologians said publicly in their "Joint Statement on Justification" a few years ago. Pope John Paul II said the same thing publicly to the German Lutheran bishops. It both astonished and delighted them (
D'Souza talks about this very thing in What's So Great About Christianity).

. . . .

The official teaching of Catholicism (as distinct from the popular misconception) is that salvation is a totally free gift that we can do nothing to "buy" or produce. The Council of Trent's "Decree on Justification" is as insistent on the gratuitous nature of grace as Luther or Calvin. So is Aquinas in the Treatise on Grace in the Summa Theologiae, the bottom line of which is that we can do nothing without God's grace--not be saved, not deserve grace, not even ask for grace.

Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p320-321.

A Fabricated Resurrection Story?


"The Gospels were written in such temporal and geographical proximity to the events they record that it would have been almost impossible to fabricate events. . . . The fact that the disciples were able to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem in the face of their enemies a few weeks after the crucifixion shows that what they proclaimed was true, for they could never have proclaimed the resurrection (and been believed) under such circumstances had it not occurred."

-
William Lane Craig, Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection



The Divinity of Jesus Christ, part 1

I'm currently read/studying, studying/reading The Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. One section of the book that I've found particularly compelling is on the divinity of Christ. I'm going to try to summarize best I can the chapter of the book a little each day until I've gotten it all down. Kreeft asserts that all the data except the Christian alternative has been shown to be false, and that the divinity of Jesus Christ is the only reasonable explanation. This compared to the attempted explanations of liar, lunatic, myth, guru, as well as various conspiracy theories regarding the apostles, and early Christian Church.

Note: I'm only going to cite something else if it is something from a different book, and I'll make my opinion known, so that all you are reading is the information provided from Kreeft and Tacelli

Part 1 -- The Claims Made by Jesus and the Claims Made by Others About Jesus.

The questions and problems of Jesus' identity emerge from the data. The data being the four Gospels--which tells us the claims he made about himself and, the claims others made about him.

1 Corinthians 12:3, authored by Apostle Paul -- Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:11, authored by Apostle Paul -- and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Matthew 11:27, authored by Matthew -- "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Mark 12:6, authored by John Mark -- "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.'"

Mark 13:32, authored by John Mark -- "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Mark, 14:61-62, authored by John Mark -- But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Luke 10:22, authored by Luke -- "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Luke 22:70, authored by Luke -- They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."

John 10:30, authored by John -- "I and the Father are one."

John 14:9, authored by John -- Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing the work."

For further scripture see: Tit 2:13l 1 Jn 5:20; Rom 9:5; Jn 1:1; Col 1:15-20; Jn 1:1; Phil 2:6, Heb 13:8; Heb 7:26; Jn 8:46; 2 Cor 5:21; Mk 2:5-12; Lk 24:45-47; Acts 10:43; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Jn 8:58; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; Jn 10:30; Jn 12:45; Jn 14:8-10; Jn 10:37-38; Jn 14:25-26; 16:7-15; Mt 3:17; Mt 17:5; Jn 8:18; 1 Jn 5:9; Jn 3:16; Jn 5:39-40; Jn 20:30-31; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:21-22; Lk 9:21-22; Lk 12:49-53; Lk 22:35-37; Lk 24:1-7; Jn 3:11-14; Jn 6:63-64; Jn 13:1-11; Jn 14:27-29; Jn 18:1-4; Jn 19:26-30; Lk 6:1-5.

The data is the foundation for the divinity of Christ, or the assertion that Christ is divine. Many people will take a shortcut and say they do not believe that Christ is God because they don't believe the Scriptures themselves, or the authors of the Sciptures, or that they were revised, etc. etc. etc. Kreeft gets to that later in the section of the chapter, and I will get to it in a later post.

Tomorow I will try to get part 2 up and it will be about the importance of the issue, and the difficulty of the doctrine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tough Day To Be a Muslim Apologist

Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband — an influential member of the local Muslim community — reported her death to police Thursday.

Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder.

"He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said late this morning.

Muzzammil Hassan told police that his wife was at his business, Bridges TV, on Thorn Avenue in the village. Officers went to that location and discovered her body.

Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light.

Full Link.
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It is obviously unfair to judge all of Islam based off of incidents like these, but I wonder if these incidents could even be called isolated and uncommon? I think it is not only fair, but needs to be said that Islam has created a wholly deficient culture, and all culture arises from religion, so what does that say?

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Historicity of the Unfathomable

Last night I listened to a podcast by William Lane Craig regarding the historicity, if any, of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Craig mentioned that he spent two years in Germany studying under the world's preeminent Resurrection scholar, and has written two books as well as lectured a 30-hour course on this topic. He attempted in 10 minutes to give a few points to the questioned directed at him by University of Iowa students, arranging them under 4 headings:

1) After the crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in his own tomb.
  • the site and the site's location was known to both Jew and Christian. When the disciples began to proclaim the Resurrection in Jerusalem the tomb must have been empty as it would have been impossible to proclaim this if the body were interred in the hillside tomb.
  • the burial story is one of the best established facts about the historical Jesus. This was mentioned by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians which goes back to the earliest time after Jesus' crucifixion. It was as well independently verified in Mark's (the oldest gospel) source material that he uses to write his gospel providing dual attestation.
  • The fact that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus is highly probable because he is described as a member of the Sanhedrin (the council that condemned Jesus). Given the resentment of early Christian circles at Jewish authorities for their condemnation of Jesus, it is highly unlikely that they would have invented a fictitious character like Joseph of Arimathea--a member of the Sanhedrin--who did what was right by giving Jesus an honorable burial.
  • There are no other independent burial stories. If the burial story were a legend, there would be traces of competing burial legends.

2) On the Sunday following his crucifixion, the tomb of Jesus was found empty by a group of his women followers:
  • This element of the story is agreed to by the majority of New Testament scholars whether conservative, liberal, or mainstream.
  • The empty tomb story was a part of the early source material that Mark used and goes back so near to the events themselves that it could not be a legendary byproduct. This is also implied by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.
  • The fact that it was women that discovered the tomb is very plausible especially when it is considered that the testimony of women in 1st century Jewish culture was considered worthless. They could not even be witnesses in a court of law because their testimony was considered worthless. Any legend about the empty tomb would have included men as having found the tomb. The fact that it was women means, like or not as embarrassing a fact as it was at the time, it was females that found the tomb empty.
  • The early Jewish polemics presupposed the empty tomb. When the disciples began to preach the empty tomb, the Jewish authorities accused the disciples of having stolen away the body. The very antagonists of the Christians conceded that the tomb was empty. This has led even Christianity's harshest critics to concede that the tomb was empty. Most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.

3) On various occasions, and under different circumstances, different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death.
  • This was firmly established by the list of eyewitnesses on the basis of Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is quoting old information handed down to him which probably goes back to the first five years after the crucifixion.
  • The appearances were remarkable, Jesus appeared to many people over and over again, to whole groups of people at various locales under various circumstances to skeptics as well as believers.
  • The appearance traditions are confirmed in the gospel accounts of the appearance stories giving multiple attestation of the appearances.

4) The earliest disciples came to believe he was risen from the dead despite every pre-disposition to the contrary.
  • Their leader was dead and Jews had no belief in a dying, let alone, rising messiah. Yet, the early disciples came to sincerely believe that Jesus was risen from the dead and they were willing to go to their death for that belief.
  • Anyone who was crucified was thereby shown to be a heretic--a man literally under the curse of God.
  • Professor C.F.D. Mol'le at Cambridge said that this is a belief which literally nothing in terms of antecedent historical influences can account for all this apart from the resurrection itself.

I have not read either of Craig's books (although I'm eager to) on the historicity of the Resurrection, but here they are linked: The Son Rises and Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?

If you want to listen to the podcast itself which I summarized as best I could above, here is the link.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Good People" (Una Vez Mas)

Atheism is Dead writes about "good" people, and how meaningless a phrase it is...

It is a great mistake for Christians to confuse their salvation through the finished and sufficient work of Jesus Christ with working their way to Heaven by an attainment of the always nebulous standard of "goodness."

No one is good --biblically speaking-- but God alone.

We are the sheep of His hand

Oh, come, let us sing unto the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Ps. 95:1-7).

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know then, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall anything pluck them out of my hand." (John, 10:27, 28).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clearing Something Up...

I recently realized this post could be taken wrongly by some people.

Specifically, I could foresee the charge that I was "encouraging people to read atheist philosophers and atheist literature."

Actually, I was . . .

I firmly believe that there is absolutely nothing to fear from atheists or their literature. If a person is on a quest to find the answers to life's toughest question hopefully they will feel their head with some of everything. If a person with intellectual honesty endeavors to find the Truth , it is my belief that Christianity will triumph over any other worldview--especially atheism.

Both sides in this battle deserve a fair look. As Peter Kreeft said, Christianity is reasonable but it is not obvious.

If it were obvious intellectual giants such as Hobbes, Machiavelli, Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson, Shaw, Russell, Franklin, Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, Freud and Skinner would not have rejected it--amongst many others.

And if it were not reasonable other heavyweights such as Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Luther, Descartes, Pascal, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Kierkegaard, Shakespeare, Dante, Lewis, Chesterton, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Tolkien, da Vinci, and Michelangelo would not have embraced it.

And as NYU Philosophy professor Thomas Nagel said "I'm not comforted by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people that I know are religious believers."

There is absolutely no reason for Christians to not be confident in their Christian faith and worldview. If the atheists could have discredited Christianity they would have already done so. If the unbelievers from Jesus' own day could have come up with his body after the ascension they would have (they had the motive and the means). The Bible has time and again withstood the test against the critic; there is more manuscript evidence for the Bible than for any other ancient text or document--Homer's great works don't even come close. There is no reason at all for the Christian to shirk or fear.

While Christianity may not be obvious, it is the Truth, and those who seek in earnest and in good faith will find what they are looking for.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pope Benedict, Bible, Faith.

I don't have to be a Catholic to really appreciate this Pope. God Bless this Pope and may his reign last many years for the good of the world.
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Luther would have been amazed at the efforts of the Vatican today to put the Bible back into the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. . .

Last week, briefly passing through Rome, my wife and I stood in an empty St Peter's Square, where the chairs were still laid out for the 20,000 who had attended the pope's weekly public audience on the Wednesday before. On our return to Holland, we read in the newspaper what the faithful had been told that day. The headline read: Pope quotes Luther: Sola Fide. Luther, the pope had told his audience, had been right to insist in sola fide, that a believer was justified by faith alone!

Disagreement over this doctrine had been at the heart of the Reformation in the 16th century, splitting Christianity in western Europe. Yet, said the pope, it was indeed biblical to say, as did Luther, that it was the faith of a Christian, not his works, that saved him. Such faith however could not be separated from love for God and for neighbour, he qualified. Paul wrote about this balance in his letters, especially the letter to the Philippians, he added.

Full Article Here. Must Read.
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This is lock-step with the basic Christian belief that being "good" does not merit salvation. The reality is, as hard as it is to swallow, there are no "good" people, in the sense that there are no "innocent" people. And "goodness" is a very nebulous standard. Who is good? And, what should be considered "good"? Ghandi? His works? Mother Teresa? Her charity? The Salvation Army volunteer? Are you for helping some lady across the street? Is Richard Dawkins for his promotion of science? Don't laugh, science is a good thing in and of itself.

How would we ever know? We couldn't.

Knowing that we could not attain salvation on the basis of our own works as a result of the Fall, God sent his Son down to us. So while we could not reach up to Him, he solved the problem by reaching down to us.

Pointed Critique of "The God Delusion"

Terence Francis Eagleton is a British literary theorist and critic, regarded by many as Britain's most influential living literary critic. Formerly Eagleton was Thomas Wharton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester until 2008. In October 2008, Terry Eagleton was appointed to a Chair in English Literature at the Department of English & Creative Writing at Lancaster University. He also holds a visiting professorship at National University of Ireland, Galway. (Full wiki).

To the point, Eagleton reviews books for the London Review of Books and proceeds to blast Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion":

"Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday." Full critique here.

The point here isn't to ambush the book or Dawkins, but it is to show that the books by Sam Harris and Dawkins aren't exactly withstanding the acid tests amongst anyone other than the biblically illiterate. A large part of the criticism coming from both Christian and non-Christian circles with respect to the new Atheism books is that the authors don't have a particularly strong foundation with which to criticize Christianity or theists in general. Why is this so saddening? Many people who aren't exactly well-read in theology, apologetics, or any philosophy whatsoever are easily shifted, swayed, and driven mad because they find these people so influential. I'm going to try and find the link but I recently heard a story that a Christian college student committed suicide after a college professor recommended he read "The God Delusion."

The Claim and Its Consequence...

"Christ's claim is different from others' claims. He claims to save from sin and its wages, eternal death. Others claim to save from ignorance of morality or lack of mystical enlightenment or social disaster.

Only two reactions are logically possible to Christ's distinctive claim. If it is believed, he cannot be lowered to just one among many human teachers. If it is not believed, he cannot be raised to the level of Buddha or Muhammad, for he claims much more than they do: to save from sin and hell, and to be the only one who does
."

This is lock-step with the idea that Christ is either what he said he was: the only Son of the Living God. Or, he is a great liar, in actuality the most profound liar the world has ever known. Because for 2,000 years he has pulled the wool over the eyes of billions upon billions of people.

What he cannot be is simply a great moral teacher.

A great moral teacher cannot also be a liar, or you have a near contradiction in terms. As Ravi Zacharias has said, the greatest difference between Christ and other so-called prophets, sages, and moralizers is that they came to make bad people good. Christ came to make dead people live.

Modern reductionists try to reduce Christianity and Christ's teachings down to their moral element. (Thomas Jefferson, one of the most famous reductionists, strickened all of Jesus' miracles and supernatural works from the New Testament, and used that as his Bible.)

Christianity however is much more than lessons of morality/immorality, it is the propositional truth given to us that there is a God who is There, and he is not silent, and he sent his Son for the purposes of vicarious atonement. That makes the mere idea of moral/immoral pale in comparison as it should. Christ is the only one who ever claimed to be the exclusive way to Life.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some of the Most Amazing Things Said...

...were said whenever Jesus's antagonists tried to stump him, or force him into an uncompromising dilemma.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus whether the adulteress should be stoned, they thought they had him in a box. If Christ told them to stone her, he would've looked not like the compassionate, forgiving teacher, but someone with a cruel bent. Had Christ said not to stone the adulteress, Christ would then look permissive and indulgent. However, Jesus gave an answer that is now so recognizable that it has lost its profundity in our pop culture.

"When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up, and said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'." (John 8:7). Jesus gave the most unlikely of answers, and made clear that judgment was God's, and God's alone. This story shows the forgiving nature of God. It also shows that God is a just God. There will be judgment, but there will be forgiveness for those that seek and those that accept it.

This goes for everyone. Judgment of others is not ours, but God's.

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned, forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."

"Isn't it true that the drunkard will boast of his charity, the immoral man is thankful he's not a thief, and the profane swearer flatters himself that he never lies." -- Ravi Zacharias

The Position I Do Not Understand

Apathy with respect to the "God question" is a position that I do not understand. I'm not referring to the position of skeptics ,who attempt to block out all false information, but rather people who just have no curiosity about their destiny be it worm food or eternal communion with God.

If the orthodox Christian perspective is right, our souls will not only go on, but our souls will even have physical bodies a trillion years from now, and trillions of years after that, and a trillion upon trillion more. If the orthodox Christian answer is right, human beings will never cease to exist, we will simply cease living in this temporary world, but our souls are eternal and will stand outside of and immune from time and change ad infinitum. It is a lot to attempt to wrap your mind around, and makes me dizzy, but it makes it even harder for me to understand people's apathy with respect to these questions.

If the atheist position is right, we live in a closed universe (closed in the sense that no God intervenes in the affairs) of cause and effect--we live, we die--and then we become worm food.

These are rather extreme positions to hold. And one of them, in some way shape or form is right. Which makes it that much more difficult to understand the position of the apathetic. There is plenty of literature ranging from the Bible to the great Christian authors even to great atheist philosophers that can and ought to be studied so as to be without some position. All these books can help someone find their position and belief with respect to their eternal destiny. And, we all have an eternal destiy, we'll either be eternally living or eternally dust.

With respect to the Christian position, there is either a "yes" vote or a "no" vote. An abstention according to Christian orthodoxy is the equivalent of a "no" vote, and holding the position of "not knowing" won't allow you to slide by as a conscientious thinker. If one believes the Christian position is plausible, but hasn't received enough information to make a decision, it is time well spent to read and research the single most important issue that one faces in life.

The puritan minister Johnathan Edwards said along the lines that he could not believe people do anything other than stop and contemplate the after-life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Few Problems with the Atheistic Worldview

1. There is no possibility of an objective moral law because there is no possibility of a moral lawgiver. Without God to give the moral law, there is no room for an objective moral law. The only possibilities of a moral law become subjective, and relativistic--which amounts to no moral law at all. But, this doesn't coincide with what we know of ourselves as people. People think in terms of antithesis (right and wrong, black and white, yes and no), and when people attempt to defend the position of relativism, they are forced to base their reasoning on antithesis. (e.g., Relativism is right, absolutism is wrong.)

2. Atheism offers no meaning for life. The atheist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre understood that if finite man had no infinite reference point, then finite man has no meaning, and there is no consequence or meaning to anything he does. Life is, under this philosophy, "absurd." It has no meaning. Theism offers an anchor for finite man to compare his life, his actions, and their consequences to a constant, immutable source: God. God gives life meaning.

3. Atheism cannot explain the genesis of the Universe. To believe atheism is to believe that all we know: matter, energy, motion, everything came from nothing. Nothing means absolutely nothing. Nothingness. Something cannot come from nothing. This is a philosophical problem for atheism, and atheism has no answer for this. Even if Darwinism were true, that doesn't explain what caused Darwinism.

4. Atheism has no concept of divine retribution, or just desserts. As it happens sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. A theistic view allows that a wrongdoer will get his just desserts in the after-life. Atheism does not offer this.

5. If atheism is true, we have to explain how we as personal beings came from an impersonal Godless universe. Atheism has no coherent answer to this.

6. Atheism causes its leading advocates to viscerally hate a God they don't believe exists.

As Ravi Zacharias frequently propounds, only the Christian worldview sufficiently and coherently answers the questions of origin, condition, meaning, and destiny.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Interesting and Hilarious.

Dinesh D'Souza seems to be the most frequent debater on the "Great God Debate" circuit taking on the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Peter Singer. If you are interested you can find all the debates on youtube with a quick search.

I cannot find a link to the D'Souza/Singer II debate (I will eventually, though), but here is D'Souza's column discussing the debate, and his surprise when Singer refused to defend his views on atheistic morality, when in fact the debate discussion was "Can We Have Morality Without God?" which would be a topic Singer ought to be adept at defending in the positive.

READ!

Also, lest I forget this gem of hilarity over at Atheism is Dead.

Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens have tabbed themselves rather unoriginally the Four Horsemen. Apparently, the starting lineup for the atheist team decided to sit around Dawkins living room with some scotch and discuss the impenetrability and infallibility of their views.

It's a few hours, but if you'd like to see a four men stroking egos and an afternoon spent in frivolity, you have arrived at the correct train station: WATCH!