Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Book Study: I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

Hello to everyone and I hope you are having a great week! The following is the information we covered in our first class. Remember; if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me!

Course Syllabus
I Don't Have Enough Faith to be Atheist
by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

Week 1 9-4-09
Introduction- Discuss Syllabus
Explanation of Ground Rules for Discussion
The Purpose of Apologetics
Types of Apologetics

Week 2 9-11-09
Introduction
Chapter 1 Can We Handle the Truth?
Chapter 2 Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?

Week 3 9-18-09
Chapter 3 In the Beginning There Was a Great SURGE (Cosmological Argument or the Argument from the Beginning of the Universe)

Week 4 9-25-09
Chapter 4 Divine Design (Teleological Argument or the Argument from Design)

Week 5 10-2-09 [no class next week, 10-9-09]
Chapter 5 The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?
Chapter 6 New Life Forms: From the Goo to You via the Zoo?

Week 6 10-16-09
Chapter 7 Mother Teresa vs. Hitler (Moral Argument)

Week 7 10-23-09
Chapter 8 Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?

Week 8 10-30-09
Chapter 9 Do We Have Early Testimony About Jesus?
Chapter 10 Do We Have Eyewitness Testimony about Jesus?

Week 9 11-6-09
Chapter 11 The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth

Week 10 11-13-09
Chapter 12 Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Week 11 11-20-09
Chapter 13 Who Is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
Chapter 14 What Did Jesus Teach about the Bible?

Week 12 11-27-09
Chapter 15 Conclusion: The Judge, the Servant King, and the Box Top
Appendix 1 If God, why Evil?
Appendix 2 Isn't that Just Your Interpretation?

Class notes, discussion questions, and supplementary materials will be posted on the blog weekly at http://www.truthbomb.blogspot.com/

Week 1 Class Notes

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be Atheist
by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

Week 1 9-4-09
Introduction- Discuss Syllabus

1. Ground Rules for Discussion
2. Stay on topic- Stay Off the Rabbit trails!
3. Try not to interrupt others
4. If you plan to challenge an idea, do so respectfully
5. Keep in mind that we are here to come along side each other to help us become better thinkers

The Purpose of Apologetics- the Bible Commands it

We are commanded to defend the Christian faith
- “But in your hearts set apart Christ the Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do with with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

We are commanded to refute false ideas about God- “We demolish arguments and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

Jesus corrected error- “Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Jesus refuted false teachings- “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people will honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' (Matthew 15:6-9).

Paul reasoned with people- “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-17).

Paul refuted those who opposed the truth- “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

Paul defended the gospel- “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me” (Philippians 1:7).

Jude urged that we contend for the faith- “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). [1]

Jesus and the greatest commandment
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Types of Apologetics


Don Moyer gives an excellent overview of the different apologetic approaches in his article Apologetics Method Overview:

The Classical Method starts with natural theology in order to establish theism as the proper world view. Only after theism is established through natural theology do they move to historical evidences to show the truth of Jesus. In other words, they first want to show that theism is true, then demonstrate that the biblical view is the best view of theism (a two-step approach). Examples of arguments from natural theology include the Kalam Cosmological Argument (i.e., first cause).

Sometimes it is argued that this two-step approach is necessary as a foundation for arguing historical evidences. The idea is that, without a theistic base, one could not show historically that miracles occurred. [2]

Noted Classical Apologists:
William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Augustine, Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, and Norman Geisler.

The Evidentialist Method. If the classical method is seen as a two-step approach, this method is a one-step approach. Those who hold to this would disagree with the classical approach in the area of historical evidences. They do not think that one must begin with natural theology. They see miracles as historical, which, in turn are demonstrative of God and His activity in the world. In other words, miracles can be used as one sort of evidence for the existence of God.

By this method, they believe that they can demonstrate both the existence of God and the truth of biblical theism all in one step. If, for example, the resurrection of Jesus is historically valid, then it would show that there is a God, and that Jesus is true, all in one step. Those who hold to this would not necessarily deny the value of natural theology; they just don’t see it as the necessary first step that classical apologists do. [3]

Noted Evidentialist Apologists: Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, and John Warwick Montogomery

The Cumulative Case Method argues that the case for Christianity is not a strict formal argument (such as in natural theology or historical evidences), but is, instead, informal, like a lawyer would present a brief. The biblical view is the best explanation of all of the data taken together. In other words, it does not seek to rely upon one or two major arguments, but instead takes all of the evidence as a whole unit, and says that biblical theism best explains it all. The strength of this would be that even if one or two particulars can be explained away by skeptics(e.g., the problem of evil), they must explain all of the evidence taken together. All the elements of the argument stand or fall together, so that one need not rely on one strict argument. This approach will utilize the arguments from natural theology and historical evidences, but is more concerned with everything taken together. [4]

Noted Cumulative Case Apologists: Paul Feinberg

The Presuppositional Method. Presuppositionalism parts with the evidentialist methods above, generally rejecting traditional proofs for God’s existence. In this view, believers and unbelievers do not have enough common ground between each other to allow the evidentialists to accomplish their goals. Due to sin, minds have become so corrupt that believers and unbelievers will not agree on the fundamentals needed for evidentialists to establish their position. Thus, one must presuppose Christianity as the beginning point in apologetics. All meaning and thought presupposes the existence of the God of Scripture. Presuppositionalists
try to demonstrate that unbelievers cannot argue, think, or live properly without first presupposing the biblical God. Only biblical theism can make sense of the world. Proof for this position is not seen as necessary. It is simply presupposed.

My problem with this is two-fold: 1) it inherently begs the question (assumes what needs proof), and 2) it contains some other assumptions which I reject. However, there is truth to the fact that we all have presuppositions from which we argue. I hope to go into this more later. [5]

Noted Pre-suppositional Apologists: Corneluis Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Douglas Wilson, and James White.

References:

1. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, Twelve Points that Show Christianity is True, p. 2.
2. Don Moyer, Apologetic Methods Overview, http://www.theapologiaproject.org/Apologetic%20Methods.pdf, May 15, 2000.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid.

Discussion Questions

Week 2
Introduction

Do you understand the “box top?”

Chapter 1

What is a “self-defeating” statement?

What are 2 reasons that all religions cannot be true?

Chapter 2

How is truth known?

How are truths about God known?

Again, if you have any questions, please let me know and I'll see each of you on Friday!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Note to Readers: This post is to those brothers and sisters who are participating in our FCF Apologetics Book Study. Perhaps you will find it helpful, but if not, just look over it! As always, I appreciate your readership!

4 comments:

Mike Felker said...

I'd like to maybe correct something with regards to the description of "presuppositional apologetics." The method actually doesn't "reject" the traditional evidences at all. In fact, if you read deep into the discussions by Bahnsen and others, you will find that they are strong advocates of using evidences even in the context of discussions with unbelievers. You'll notice that James White is cited as an advocate of this position. But if you listen to his debate with Dan Barker, he actually uses the design argument. White is quick to point out, however, that given the naturalistic worldview, the evidence will be dismissed out of hand and will see no possibility of a immaterial God.

Just offering some food for thought :-)

Chad said...

Mike,

I greatly appreciate your thoughts and willingness to share with us.

In our group Friday evening, we actually talked about the value of each approach and how, depending on the individual, each type of apologetic can be effective. It was also pointed how how each apologist using different approaches.

For example, William Lane Craig uses the Classical approach, but also sees the value in historical apologetics, as he stated in the book "Five Views on Apologetics."

Great point regarding White and his debate with Barker; I do remember that!

Moyer could have picked a better word than "reject."

Thanks so much Mike for bring clarity to this issue and I will be sure to bring this up in our study group!

Godspeed

Brian said...

Yeah, sometimes the methodological critiques can look like a bit of a caricature of the real thing. This happens on both "sides." I agree with Chad - a better word than "reject" can be chosen.

White did a great job weaving in the teleological argument in that debate!

Chad said...

Brian and Mike,

Just wanted to thank you both for your thoughts and comments. I am learning so much from you both!

Godspeed