Sunday, March 31, 2013

Video: Evidence That Jesus Rose From the Dead featuring William Lane Craig


In this video, Dr. William Lane Craig briefly argues that God is the best explanation of the established historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth:

1. His empty tomb

2. His post-mortem appearances

3. The origin of the disciples' belief in His resurrection

These clips are from Dr. Craig's recent debate with philosopher Alex Rosenberg.

You can listen to or view that debate here.

Happy Resurrection Day!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Video: How Could a Good God allow Children to Die of Diseases? featuring J.P. Moreland, Greg Koukl and Craig Hazen


In this brief video, Dr. J.P. Moreland, Greg Koukl and Dr. Craig Hazen offer up some answers to the challenging objection, "How could a good God allow children to die of diseases?"

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, March 29, 2013

Article: Were the Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Hallucinations? by Mike Licona

One of the facts regarding the resurrection of Jesus that almost all critical and non-critical scholars accept is that Jesus' disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them.  

As atheist New Testament (NT) scholar Gerd Ludemann states:

"“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” [1]

However, Ludemann also appeals to hallucinations to explain these appearances.

In this featured article, NT historian Mike Licona demonstrates why the hallucination explanation fails.

Check it out here.

Further, we have dealt with this in the past here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. Gerd L├╝demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, trans. John Bowden (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 80. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How Old is the Earth? by Chris Sherrod

This article was taken from the Apologetics Study Bible for Students:

There are two main views among Christians.  Old earth creationists (OEC), also known as progressive creationists, believe God created the universe and all life forms in stages separated by long periods of time.  They believe the geologic record accurately portrays a very long earth history.  Young earth creationists (YEC) believe the universe and all life forms were created in six successive 24-hour days, meaning earth is only thousands of years old.  Major arguments for each view include the following:




OEC
  • Speed of light measurements and the distance of stars indicate an ancient universe.
  • The Hebrew word yom (day) does not always mean a literal day (e.g. Gn 2:4)
  • Genesis 1:2 says the land produced vegetation on Day Three, indicating growth from seed to maturity.  That takes longer than 24 hours.
  • There is too much activity on Day 6 to fit in 24 hours (see Gn 1:24-31; 2:15-25).
  • Many animals are specifically designed to prey upon other animals.  This indicates that by God's design, animal death preceded the fall of Adam and Eve.
  • The sun was created on Day 4; thus Days 1-3 could not have been 24-hour solar days.
  • The testimony of nature powerfully indicates an ancient creation.
YEC
  • The usual meaning of yom is a literal, 24-hour day.
  • "Evening came, and then morning," seems to indicate a literal day (Gn 1:15, etc.).
  • Sabbath rest (Ex 20:11) seems to imply six literal days of work during Creation week.
  • The sun was not created until Day 4, but here was life on Day 3 (Gn 1:11-13).  Life cannot exist for long periods without sunlight, and so the days were not long ages.
  • Plants were created on Day 3 and animals on Day 5.  The interdependence between plants and animals implies that their creation was not separated by long ages.
  • If death is an enemy (1Co 15:54), was God's original paradise free from killing, or was it filled with violence, decay, and death?  Man was not permitted to eat animals until after the Flood (Gen 9:2-3).
  • If decay and death were originally part of creation, why is creation looking forward to liberation from bondage to decay (Rm 8:20-22)?
Despite there differences, Christians in both groups are committed to God's supernatural creation of all things.  Similarly, both are committed to the inspiration and authority of the Bible.  Also, it is important to note that even if earth is many millions of years old, this still is not enough time for life to arise naturally and then evolve into the complex species we have today.

Though Christians sometimes passionately disagree about the age of the earth, we should not break fellowship about issues of peripheral importance (Rm 14:1).  Both parties can work together, support common ground (such as Intelligent Design), and work "side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Php 1:27).  We can have friendly "in-house" debates, graciously discussing our viewpoints in a spirit of love while standing united against the world's deceitful philosophies (Col. 2:8).

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Article: Is Christianity Unscientific? by Peter S. Williams

In this featured article, philosopher Peter S. Williams addresses questions such as:

  • How should the term "science" be defined?
  • How should Christianity be defined?
  • What is the difference between being unscientific and anti-scientific?
  • Is there a war going on between Christianity and science?
You can check it out here.

For more great resources, we encourage you to explore bethinking.org

For more from Peter S. Williams, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Video: The Case for the Existence of the Soul by J.P. Moreland


In this lecture, given in 2012, philosopher J.P. Moreland argues that human consciousness and the soul are not physical, but immaterial.

Moreland wrestles with questions such as:
  • Is man just matter?
  • Is man's mind just a brain?
  • Is there an immaterial world?
  • Is consciousness just material?
  • If materialism is true, can man have free will?
For more of Dr. Moreland's work, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Article: How to Know Immaterial Things Exist by Greg Koukl

In this featured article, thinker Greg Koukl explains how you can know immaterial things exist.

Koukl writes:



"There are all kinds of things that we know that have little to do with the physical world, but we still know them. Friendship. Love. Loyalty. Goodness. Any moral virtue, any moral vice. None of these things are identical with behaviors or brain chemistry. The behaviors may signal that the virtue or the vice is present. You see behaviors from people around you that allow you to conclude that they are your friends, but the friendship is an immaterial thing. There are many things like this.

I’m trying to rock your world just a little bit epistemologically, in terms of the things that you know, to help you to see that the rejection of the idea of certitude about spiritual things is not well grounded."


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Video: Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? featuring Dr. William Lane Craig


Taken from Reasonable Faith:

"On February 1st, 2013 at Purdue University, Dr William Lane Craig participated in a debate with Dr Alex Rosenberg on the topic, "Is Faith In God Reasonable?" Over 5,000 people watched the event on the Purdue University campus along with tens of thousands streaming it live online from around the world. In this clip, Dr Craig responds to metaphysical naturalism which asserts that only physical things exist."

To listen to or view the entire debate, go here.

For more of Dr. Craig's work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, March 04, 2013

Theism, Materialism and Science

When writing about the topic of evolution, it is critical to define one's terms. Many (not all) advocates of evolution are masters at defining the term evolution so broadly that it can mean virtually whatever they want or need it to.

For my purposes in this particular post, when I use the term evolution, I am referring to natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species i.e. Darwinism.

Now, as someone who believes that "God created the heavens and earth," I sometimes find myself being labeled as "religiously bias." Many are quick to assert that those who believe in a designer are unable to view scientific evidence (or any for that matter) objectively because of their religious convictions. However, after pondering the question for quite sometime, it is my conviction that the theist actually finds himself in the more objective position than that of the materialist.

Science, as defined by the current scientific community, basically states that science is the search for natural causes only.

Consider the following words from one of Carl Sagan's friends, Harvard's Richard Lewontin:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failures to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. In is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover the materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door. [1]

In other words, the game is rigged before it's played!

With that in mind, it's important to remember that science is supposed be, or at the very least, should be, the search for that which is true.  However, when one claims that "science is the search for natural causes only," he or she, knowingly or unknowingly, is guilty of allowing there philosophical bias to enter into their scientific conclusions. To be specific, materialistic science is based upon the philosophy (or some may even say religion) of materialism- the belief that the material is all there is. This idea is of course problematic because we have good reasons to believe that immaterial things do exist.

Dr. William Lane Craig offers some examples:

1. mathematics and logic
2. metaphysical truths (such as, there are minds that exist other than my own),
3. ethical judgements (you can't prove by science that the Nazis were evil, because morality is not subject to the scientific method),
4. aesthetic judgements (the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven), and, ironically
5. science itself (the belief that the scientific method discovers truth can't be proven by the scientific method itself) [2]

If one doubts this, I'll simply point out that the very thought that, "only nature (or the material) exists," is itself immaterial! It is an idea with no weight, mass, etc. If one were to crack a materialists head open (which I don't recommend doing!), you would not find the idea "only the material exists" inside their head.

Contrast this with the theistic worldview. As a theist, I am free to follow the evidence wherever it leads because my philosophical convictions don't box me in. Admittedly, one should always consider natural explanations first; however, if detectable design is present, one should be at liberty to conclude that a designer is the best explanation of the phenomenon being observed. It's important to highlight that those who preach materialistic science do observe what they would call the "appearance" of design-

Richard Dawkins asserts:

"Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." [3]

Further, Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, admits:

"...biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved." [4]

So, it isn't that the design is unobserved, but when the observable science challenges the philosophical bias (in this case, materialism), the observable science takes a back seat to the philosophy- materialism.

Moreover, as a theist, I am free to accept, or reject, evolution based solely on it's scientific merits. Hypothetically, if I were to conclude that evolution, on a macro-evolutionary level (change at or above the level of species) [5], were true, this would do nothing to undermine my worldview. As a Christian, I would certainly have to reevaluate some of my views; however, a Creator would still be the best explanation of 1) the origin of the universe 2) the fine-tuning of the universe 3) objective moral values and duties 4) Jesus' resurrection from the dead 5) the information found in DNA 6) and human consciousness. 

But what about the materialist (or naturalist) who says that "nature is all there is?" He or she, because of their philosophical bias, cannot even consider design. They have already decided a priori, that a naturalistic explanation must explain everything, no matter what.  They cannot "let a divine foot in the door." This is simply assuming what you are trying to prove.

Ironically, it is not Intelligent Design or Theism that is a "science stopper," as many of it's opponents would have us believe, but it is science based upon materialism that keeps the scientist from being able to follow the evidence.

Further, it seems hypocritical to me when materialists object to ID because it has "theistic implications," when, if they were honest, materialism clearly has atheistic implications.

It is for these reasons that I believe the theist finds himself in a more objective position than the materialist.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnotes:

1. Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, 31.
2. A debate between William Lane Craig and Peter Atkins; the debate can be read here: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-atkins.html
3. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1.
4. Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit (1990), p. 138.
5. John Wilkins, "Macroevolution: Its Definition, Philosophy and History," http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/macroevolution.html#what.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Article: Sharing the Gospel with Jehovah's Witnesses by Neil Shenvi

In this featured article, Neil Shenvi lays out what I believe to be the best approach for dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses when they come knocking on your door.

He writes:

"In this essay I'd like to sketch an approach to sharing the gospel with Jehovah's Witnesses that addresses what I think is this fundamental problem. Consequently, I will not focus on typical issues like the deity of Christ, the nature of the atonement, the Trinity, etc... Rather, I will address the underlying assumption that the Watchtower Society is infallible in its teaching of Scripture. In doing so, my hope is that I will be able to clear away the obstacles preventing Jehovah's Witnesses from searching the Scriptures for themselves. The end goal is to encourage the Jehovah's Witnesses to read the Bible on their own and ask whether it is consistent with Watchtower doctrine."

Check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, March 01, 2013

Video: Resurrection Evidence from Critical Scholars by Gary Habermas


"The Bethinking National Apologetics Day Conference: "Countering the New Atheism" took place during the UK Reasonable Faith Tour in October 2011.  

In this session (Part 4), Prof Gary Habermas takes us through recent developments, in historical scholarship, which allow even a skeptical reader to infer the Resurrection of Jesus from established facts of the New Testament." [1]

For more of Dr. Habermas's work, see here.

For more on the resurrection, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pV5XxZQDLs