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.

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.
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.
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.


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!

No One Spoke Like Christ Did...

. . . before or since.

Nobody spoke as boldly, or as authoritatively. "The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." (John 5:22-23).

No historical figure other than Christ ever claimed to be "the light of the world." (John 8:12). And, only Christ spoke of himself as the sufficient redeemer. "If you continue in My word . . . you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31). Most importantly, Jesus Christ is the only person who ever spoke of himself as the God-man. "Have courage! It is I [AM]." (Mark 6:50). The singular, exclusive path to eternal communion with God. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:16). John 14:16 does not leave a lot of wiggle room for liberal neo-orthodoxy which holds all people receive eternal life, or that it is sufficient if you are a "good" person.

Not even in the Quran is Islam's prophet Mohammed given the divine status of a God-man. In the Quran, it is Jesus, not Mohammed who has the ability to raise the dead, and it is in the Quran that Christ was born of a virgin. In the Quran, Mohammed never claimed to be anything other than a man, and never claimed to be able to redeem anyone, not even himself.

Buddha never spoke of himself as God, as a matter of fact, Buddha did not even believe in a Creator God. In the strict sense, Buddha was an atheist.

And Jesus Christ spoke prophetically of his mission on Earth. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:16). In the temple when asked by the powerbrokers for a sign of his authority from Heaven, Jesus spoke in a way that did not become clear until after his death. "Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days." Therefore the Jews said, "This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?" (John 2:19-20).

And Jesus spoke with a message of warning that flies in the face of post-modern culture and an attitude of inconsequential choice and action. Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:14).

Jesus Christ is the most unique figure in our Earth's history. Nobody has had his influence that is right now growing and getting stronger. Accept Him or reject Him, nobody can ignore him.