Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Trajectory of Truth by Vince Vitale

We live in a post-truth society—that’s what The Economist claimed at the close of 2016 when Oxford English Dictionary chose “post-truth” as its Word of the Year. Go back a bit further, and having eleven percent of America believe that you are “honest and trustworthy” was good enough to have a nine percent lead in the race to be the next President of the United States. But of course, even the polls were post-true.
We are very confused about the truth: There’s the truth, and then there’s the naked truth. There’s the truth, and then there’s the gospel truth (though the gospel is taken to be obviously false). There’s the honest truth, and then there’s the God’s honest truth (but that has nothing to do with God).
We stretch the truth and bend the truth and twist the truth. We bury the truth because the truth hurts. When we want some­thing to be false, we knock on wood. When we want something to be true, we cross our fingers. Which wooden cross are we trusting in?
Why do we have such a confused relationship with the truth? Fear. We’re afraid of truth. Truth has so often been abused that experience has taught us the trajectory of truth—the trajectory of believing you are right and others are wrong—is from truth to disagreement to devaluing to intolerance to extremism to violence to terrorism.
And if that is the trajectory, then those committed to truth are in fact terrorists in the making. If that is the trajectory, then truth is an act of war, and an act of war leaves you with only two options: fight or flee.
Most of Western society is fleeing. Everything around us is structured to avoid disagreement about the truth: We spend most of our time on Facebook and Twitter where we can “like” and “retweet” but there is no option to “dislike.” Sports no longer teach us how to disagree. In professional sports, we replay every call to avoid disagreement. In youth sports, we don’t keep score and everyone gets a trophy.
When it comes to dating, we use online sites that “match” us with someone so similar in beliefs, background, and personality that as much disagreement as possible is avoided. We no longer meet people different from us at coffee shops because we go to drive-thru Starbucks. We no longer meet people while shopping because everything we could ever need or want is delivered to our door. Culturally, everything around us is set up to avoid disagreement.
The alternative to fleeing is fighting. I was walking around Oxford University a few months ago, and two guys walking just ahead of me were having a spirited conversation about how crazy they found certain Christian positions on ethical issues. One of them wondered out loud whether the only solution would be to shame Christians out of their positions.
His friend quickly responded, “Yeah, that’s what we should do! We should ridicule them mercilessly in the most insensitive ways we can think of.” That’s an exact quote. Then they both made a right turn and swiped their faculty cards to enter the University of Oxford Theoretical Physics building.
These were probably scholars at Oxford, a place that prides itself on intellectual freedom and the exchange of ideas, and “merciless, insensitive ridicule” was the best they could come up with for resolving disagreement. I found myself wondering how many beliefs they hold in theoretical physics will one day be considered ridiculous.
How does one get to this point? How does someone get to the point where merciless ridicule seems like the best way forward?
I think it’s because we have come to see truth as more important than love. If truth is greater than love, then you fight—then the end goal of truth justifies whatever means necessary, whether the means of haughty academics or the means of ISIS. If truth is greater than love, then love is a temptation—a distraction threatening to avert our attention from what is truly important. If truth is greater than love, then those who disagree with us are enemies, and warmth toward our enemies must be extinguished in favor of the cold, hard facts.
The alternative is that love is greater than truth. Then you flee. You flee from the dangers of truth and adopt a pluralism that assures us “All truths are equally valid.” Does that include the claim that all truth claims are not equally valid? One college student recently told my colleague Abdu Murray that he doesn’t believe it is his place to disagree with anyone.
Abdu said, “Sure you do.”
The student said, “No I don’t.”
Abdu said, “You just did.”
Philosophically, that’s how quickly pluralism runs into incoherence. But if truth starts you down a path that ends in extremism, violence, and terrorism, then philosophical incoherence might seem like a price worth paying.
Either truth is greater than love or love is greater than truth. Fight or flee. This is the cultural ultimatum we are living in. What’s your choice?
Maybe there’s another way. Jesus disagreed with us. His very coming was an act of disagreement with us—a statement that we require saving because our lives have disagreed so badly with what God intended for us.
But Jesus’s loving sacrifice for us was the very content of his disagreement; it was his very statement that we are sinners in need of a savior. God cut the link between disagreement and devaluing by making his communication of truth one and the same as his communication of love.
Not “Truth is greater than love.” Not “Love is greater than truth.” “God islove” (1 John 4:8), and God is truth (John 14:6). And therefore, love is truth.
Only in Jesus does truth equal love, and therefore only Jesus can get us out of the cultural ultimatum we are stuck in: fight or flee. Every other worldview makes a choice between love and truth. Jesus refused to, because in him, and only in him, love and truth are one and the same.
So the next time we have a choice between love and truth, let’s refuse to choose. Instead, let’s remember when the Truth—Jesus himself—was stretched. Let’s remember when the Truth was twisted and bent, when the Truth was naked. Let’s remember when the Truth hurt, and when the Truth was buried—and ultimately triumphed.
Let us remember which wooden cross we are trusting in. And let us remember that love that is not truth is not love, and truth that is not love is not truth.
God Bless,

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Common Objection #35- "All religions teach basically the same thing."

On a surface level, this certainly seems to be true.  However, upon closer examination, we learn that while most religions have a similar moral code1, they actually disagree on almost every major issue including the nature of God, the nature of man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell and creation!

Author and apologist Frank Turek explains the significance of these facts:

"Think about it: the nature of God, the nature of man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell and creation.  Those are the biggies!  Here are a few of those big differences:
  • Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in different versions of a theistic God, while most Hindus and New Agers believe that everything that exists is part of an impersonal, pantheistic force they call God.
  • Many Hindus believe that evil is a complete illusion, while Christians, Muslims, and Jews believe that evil is real.
  • Christians believe that people are saved by grace while all other religions, if they believe in salvation at all, teach some kind of salvation by good works (the definition of 'good' and what one is saved from varies greatly)."2
Pastor Justin Clemente offers another way to think about this common claim.  He writes:

"You could also summarize by saying that although religions appear to say similar things horizontally (love your neighbor, etc), they are saying radically different things vertically (in relation to God, etc)."3

So, while this claim may be popular, it is clearly untenable.

For answers to common objections, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. For the Christian, this is just what we would expect to find when one considers the Christian conviction that God has implanted right and wrong on our consciences.  Consider the words of Paul in Romans 2:12-16.
2. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 46.
3. This quote originated on FB and was used with Pastor Clemente's permission.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Video: Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence? by John Lennox

John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics (emeritus) at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford.  He is also an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School, Oxford University, and teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme.  In addition, he is an Adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, as well as being a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum.

In this featured talk, Lennox discusses the critical questions surrounding artificial intelligence and how the future of artificial intelligence bears on a Christian vision of reality.

Fascinating stuff!  Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hugh Ross - The Book of Job and Earth's Early Fossils on the Moon

In this video, Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe discusses his book, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, and his thoughts on the importance of going back to the moon to discover more about Earth's fossil history.

God Bless,

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

J.P. Moreland on the Assumptions of Science

"The nature of the assumptions of science do not prove the existence of a God very much like the God of the Bible, but in my view, they provide reasons for preferring theism over scientistic naturalism.  The assumptions are at home in a theistic worldview; they fit quite naturally.  If God is himself a rational being, then it stands to reason that he would create a rational, orderly universe.  If he created us, then it naturally follows that he would give us the proper faculties to know and appreciate the inner workings of his world by 'thinking his thoughts after him.'  The existence of objective values makes far more sense if there is an objective Lawgiver than if there is not.

If we begin with 'In the beginning, there was the Logos," then we have reasonable explanations for these assumptions.  But if we begin with 'In the beginning were the particles (or plasma, strings, etc.)," it is hard to see how these assumptions could have obtained...certain naturalistic commitments-e.g, naturalistic evolutionary theory-actually undermine crucial assumptions of science such as the trustworthiness of our faculties for obtaining truth about the world's deep structure."1

Courage and Godspeed,

1. J.P. Moreland, Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology, p. 75-76.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

What is the Difference Between the A-Theory of Time and the B-Theory Time?

When discussing God and time it is useful to understand the difference between the A-Theory of time and the B-Theory of time.

The A-Theory of time is the most widely accepted of the two and for good reason.  As philosopher William Lane Craig explains:

"According to A-Theory, things/events in time are not all equally real: the future does not yet exist and the past no longer exists; only things which are present are real.  Temporal becoming is an objective feature of reality: things come into being and go out of being." [1]   This is the commonsense view of time.  Past events are no longer, the present is real, and the future does not yet exist.

In contrast, as Craig explains, on the B-theory of time, "...all events in time are equally real, and temporal becoming is an illusion of human consciousness.  Pastness, presentness, and futurity are at most relative notions: for example, relative to the persons living in the year 2050 the people and events of 2000 are past, but relative to the persons living in 1950 the people and events of 2000 are future.  Things and events in time are objectively ordered by the relations earlier than, simultaneous with, and later than, which are tenseless relations that are unchanging and hold regardless of whether the related events are past, present, or future relative to some observer." [2]   On the B-Theory of time you can think of all events, past, present and future, as represented on a yard stick.  We are right now somewhere on the yard stick, but all the events represented by the yard stick are equally real.

For those interested in learning more, I recommend this short video in which Dr. Craig explains the A-Theory of time and B-Theory of time and how it relates to the Kalam cosmological argument for God's existence.

Which theory of time do you hold to?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

1. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith 3rd. Ed., p. 121.
2. Ibid., p. 121.

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