Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Believe in the Holy Spirit

In this article, J. Warner Wallace examines the nature of the Holy Spirit and explains why a correct understanding of His nature is vital in helping us live in truth and relate to the Triune Godhead.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, August 30, 2013

How We Got the Bible: Manuscripts of the New Testament

In chapter three of the book, we read that New Testament Greek manuscripts are of two major types:  uncials, which are written in capital letters, and the cursives or minuscules which are written in smaller cursive-like letters.

Lightfoot goes on to list the three important uncials which are the oldest vellum (smooth thin writing surface of animal skin) manuscripts. These uncials are complete or almost complete copies of the New Testament and contain most of the Old Testament as well. They are as follows:

  1. The Vatican Manuscript:  From the fourth-century and located at the Vatican Library in Rome, it is widely acknowledged as being the most important witness on the text of the New Testament.
  2. The Sinaitic Manuscript:  Of almost equal importance to the Vatican Manuscript and has quite a story to it. Lightfoot devotes all of chapter 4 to this manuscript.
  3. The Alexandrian Manuscript:  From the fourth-century and so named because it is known to have resided in Alexandria for several centuries. It is the only Greek manuscript that includes 1 Clement. This is discussed more in chapter 14.  
Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brief Summaries of Calvinism, Arminianism and Molinism

The following summaries were compiled by Truthbomb team member Roger Aldon:

Calvinism

Reformed theology emphasizes the doctrines of grace, best known by the acronym TULIP, though this does not correspond to the best possible names for the five doctrines.

T stands for total depravity.
 
This does not mean that all persons are as bad as they could possibly be. It means rather that all human beings are affected by sin in every area of thought and conduct so that nothing that comes out of anyone apart from the regenerating grace of God can please God. As far as our relationships to God are concerned, we are all so ruined by sin that no one can properly understand either God or God's ways. Nor do we seek God, unless He is first at work within us to lead us to do so.
 

U stands for unconditional election. An emphasis on election bothers many people, but the problem they feel is not actually with election; it is with depravity. If sinners are as helpless in their depravity as the Bible says they are, unable to know and unwilling to seek God, then the only way they could possibly be saved is for God to take the initiative to change and save them. This is what election means. It is God choosing to save those who, apart from His sovereign choice and subsequent action, certainly would perish.
 


L stands for limited atonement. The name is potentially misleading, for it seems to suggest that reformed people want somehow to restrict the value of Christ's death. This is not the case. The value of Jesus' death is infinite. The question rather is what is the purpose of Christ's death, and what He accomplished in it. Did Christ intend to make salvation no more than possible? Or did He actually save those for whom He died? Reformed theology stresses that Jesus actually atoned for the sins of those the Father had chosen. He actually propitiated the wrath of God toward His people by taking their judgment upon Himself, actually redeemed them, and actually reconciled those specific persons to God. A better name for "limited" atonement would be "particular" or "specific" redemption. 
 


I stands for irresistible grace. Left to ourselves we resist the grace of God. But when God works in our hearts, regenerating us and creating a renewed will within, then what was undesirable before becomes highly desirable, and we run to Jesus just as previously we ran away from Him. Fallen sinners do resist God's grace, but His regenerating grace is effectual. It overcomes sin and accomplishes God's purpose.
 


P stands for perseverance of the saints. A better name might be "the perseverance of God with the saints," but both ideas are actually involved. God perseveres with us, keeping us from falling away, as we would certainly do if He were not with us. But because He perseveres we also persevere. In fact, perseverance is the ultimate proof of election. We persevere because God preserves us from full and final falling away from Him.
 Arminianism
Universal prevenient grace

This grace purportedly restores man's free will which was impaired by the effects of original sin and enables him to choose or refuse the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ. Some would say that freedom of will is man's natural state, not a spiritual gift — and thus free will was not lost in the Fall, but cannot be exercised toward good apart from the grace of God. In either case, God's universal prevenient grace works upon all alike to influence them for good, but only those who freely choose to cooperate with grace through faith and repentance are given new spiritual power to make effectual the good they otherwise impotently intend. As John Wesley stated more forcefully, humans were in fact totally corrupted by original sin, but God's prevenient grace allowed free will to operate. Universal prevenient grace is the "hair's breadth" that separates Wesley from the Calvinist view of total depravity.
Conditional election

This point holds that man is the final arbiter of his election, and that God elects him on the basis of foreseen faith which is exercised by libertarian free will, thus making man ultimately decisive.
God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ, out of fallen and sinful mankind, those foreknown by Him who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Christ; but God leaves in sin those foreseen, who are incorrigible and unbelieving. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election.
Unlimited (or universal) atonement

Christ's death was suffered on behalf of all men and benefits all men alike. God then elects for salvation those whom he foresees will believe in Christ of their own free will. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of Limited atonement.
Arminians believe that whatever the atonement accomplished, it did so universally for all alike, not just the elect. This point rejects that the atonement has any component which is decisive or effectual in gathering of the elect. Rather, the atonement is seen as a universally effective propitiation and the basis for a universal offer of salvation. The key verse used for this position is 1 John 2:2.
Resistible grace

This point holds that God never overcomes the resistance of man to His saving grace. While both Calvinists and Arminians hold that men often resist God's grace, Arminianism teaches that this resistance is rarely conquered by God because this would be a violation of man's libertarian free will. The grace of God works for good in all men, and brings about newness of life through faith. But saving grace can be resisted, even by the regenerate. This is in contrast to the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible grace.
Uncertainty of perseverance

Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit, sufficient to enable them to persevere in the faith. However, it may be possible for a believer to fall from grace. This is in contrast to the Calvinist's Perseverance of the saints.
Not all Arminians have historically embraced this fifth point as stated. Some have embraced a form of eternal security which does not require perseverance in the faith and an attitude of repentance for final salvation. The majority of Arminians, regardless of their position on this point, still affirm that man retains libertarian free will throughout the entirety of earthly life.

The following are also distinctive doctrines and emphases of Arminianism:

Libertarian free will

A key tenet of Arminianism is libertarian free will. This means that our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God. All "free will theists" hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called a free choice.
Equal, impartial, and undifferentiated love

Arminianism emphasizes God's equal, impartial, and undifferentiated love for all individuals and denies that God has any sort of electing, particular love that secures one's redemption from the foundation of the world. It infers from this universal love that God would never predestine anyone to hell or hate anyone without reference to their wickedness.  John 3:162 Peter 3:91 Timothy 2:3-6Romans 9:13
The universal call of salvation
Arminians hold that God calls all people to Himself through Christ, whether or not this call is effectual depends upon the individual’s libertarian free will.


Molinism

Moment 1
: God's knowledge of all possible and necessary truths. Natural Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of all necessary and all possible truths. In this “moment” God knows every possible combination of causes and effects. He also knows all the truths of logic and all moral truths. God knows all possible worlds, what could be.

Moment 2
: God's knowledge of all feasible worlds. Middle Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what any free creature would do in any given circumstance, also known as counterfactual knowledge. It is also sometimes stated as God's knowledge of the truth of subjunctive conditionals. What would happen through free choices under certain circumstances, including counterfactuals, what would be.

God’s divine decree to create His selected world.

Moment 3
: God's Foreknowledge set through His selected decree.  Free Knowledge – This is God’s knowledge of what He freely decided to create. God’s free knowledge is His knowledge of the actual world as it is. What will come to pass, God knows the actual world, what will be.


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Apologetics of Jesus: A Defense of His Deity by Patrick Zukeran

In this featured article, Patrick Zuckeran demonstrates that the greatest defense of Jesus' deity was made by Jesus Himself.

You can read the entire article here.

I also recommend Dr. Zuckeran's book, The Apologetics of Jesus.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Giveaway- Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

This week, we will be giving away a copy of J. Warner Wallace's excellent book Cold-Case ChristianityThis is a great book for both believers and unbelievers.  You can find our review here.

There are two ways you can enter:

1. Follow this blog.

2. Comment on this post.

Please make sure that if you leave a comment, your blogger profile links to an email address we can contact you with if you win.  If not, please leave your email address with your comment.

We will draw a winner one week from today!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, August 26, 2013

Article: Atheism and the Burden of Proof by Paul Copan

In this featured article, Dr. Paul Copan writes:

In conversations with atheists, they may challenge us:
“You’re claiming that God exists. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on you, not me. So … where’s your evidence?”
Atheist Michael Scriven insists “we need not have a proof that God does not exist in order to justify atheism. Atheism is obligatory in the absence of any evidence for God’s existence.”1 Or perhaps someone has told you that belief in God is just like belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Where do we begin to respond to such assertions?

In the article, Copan advises:

  • First, define your terms-especially atheism.
  • Second, the atheist also bears the burden of proof in making the claim,"God does not exist."
  • Third, look our for the "atheist's" slide to agnosticism, from claiming disbelief to mere unbelief.
  • Fourth, distinguish between the two types of agnostics-ordinary and ornery.
  • Fifth, distinguish between "proof" and "good reasons."
  • Sixth, we have good reasons for belief in the biblical God, but not in mythical beings like mermaids, elves, unicorns, the tooth fairy, or flying spaghetti monsters. 
  • Seventh, we should distinguish between two types of ignorance — innocence and culpable — and the agnostic would be quite culpable of refusing to seek.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Praise: Jason Gray- Nothing is Wasted




Jason Gray also has a very intriguing testimony you can listen to below:


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Should You Think For Yourself?



John Mark Reynolds of Houston Baptist University discusses this question on the podcast of The City Online, a publication of the University. He suggests that maybe we should not.

You can listen here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dr. Gary Habermas Live at the Credo House Tonight!


Dr. Gary Habermas will be presenting live at the Credo House THIS FRIDAY, August 23rd from 8:30-10:00pm EST. Dr. Habermas is arguably one of the greatest living Resurrection scholars and all-around a fun teacher to sit under. Dr. Habermas will be helping all of us gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Do you know of anyone doubting whether Jesus really rose from the grave? This event is designed to encourage those firmly believing the resurrection of Jesus AND ALSO to address the concerns and claims of those doubting the Resurrection.


You can access the event by clicking here.




God Bless,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Article: "What is Euthyphro's Dilemma?" by GotQuestions.org

Originally text found here:

Plato's famous question concerning the nature of goodness asks whether a thing is good because God says it is good, or does God say it's good because it is good. This is known as Euthyphro's Dilemma (named after the character Euthyphro in Plato's 'socratic dialogue' on the subject of goodness).

The problem this question raises for the Christian is two-fold. First, if a thing is good simply because God says it is, then it seems that God could say anything was good and it would be. This might include things that we instinctively know to be evil, like rape or murder. But we don't want a morality based on God's arbitrary declarations, so it seems this choice is a poor one for the believer. However, if God is simply reporting a thing's goodness, then He is no longer the standard for goodness and seems to be at the mercy of some outside standard. But we don't want there to be a standard above God that He must bow to, so this response does not seem attractive, either. Hence the dilemma.

There is, however, a third option. As Christians we should affirm both God's sovereignty and His non-derived goodness. Thus, we don't want a standard that is arbitrary nor one that exists outside or above God. Fortunately, God is both supremely sovereign and good. Therefore, God's nature itself can serve as the standard of goodness, and God can base His declarations of goodness on Himself. God's nature is unchangeable and wholly good; thus, His will is not arbitrary, and His declarations are always true. This solves both issues.

How is God the standard of goodness? Because He is the creator. A thing's goodness is determined by its purpose. A dull knife is not a good knife because the purpose of a knife is to cut. Sharpness is bad for a shoe, however, for a good shoe is one that is comfortable and supportive to a foot. God, as creator, is the determiner of all purposes of His creation. What He makes is made purposefully, and anything that stands in the way of that purpose is bad. Rape is evil because that is not what sex is made to be. Murder is evil because it is not the purpose of humans to arbitrarily decide when people should die. (Note that this does not necessarily vilify all human-caused deaths, such as capital punishment or war. If God has stated guidelines for these actions, then it is no longer arbitrary human will being carried out.)

In conclusion, a thing is good to the degree that it fulfills its purposes. Because God is the creator of all things, according to His own good nature, He is therefore both the standard and declarer of goodness.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Article: Intuition- A Special Way of Knowing by Greg Koukl

In this featured article, author and speaker Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason deals with things we know by intuition.  Some of the topics dealt with are:
  • 3 ways of knowing
  • Plain moral facts
  • Intuitions and Mass Suicide
  • The Existence of God
 It is important for both the believer and unbeliever to understand just was is meant by "intuition" when it is used in a philosophical sense. 


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, August 19, 2013

Video: The Kalam Cosmological Argument


Here is a brief and concise video (4:14) by drcraigvideos explaining the Kalam Cosmological Argument made popular by Dr. William Lane Craig.

You can find more resources on this argument here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Pastor Reflects on the Ontological Argument

The Ontological Argument is definitely worth reflection.  And Matt Rawlings, a pastor in Portsmouth, Ohio, does just that in this blog post.

You can find an introduction to this argument here and some misunderstandings of the argument are dealt with here.

This is one argument that I myself want to reflect upon more as well.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, August 16, 2013

How We Got the Bible: The Birth of the Bible

In chapter two of the book, the late Dr. Lightfoot wrote of the three different languages the Bible was originally written in:  Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The majority of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, however there were portions written in Aramaic.  He wrote the following regarding one of these portions:

The longest Old Testament section in Aramaic begins in Daniel 2:4. The first part of this verse is in Hebrew, and the Aramaic portion starts with the response of the Chaldeans, "O king, live forever!" An interesting confirmation of this linguistic change within the verse has come to light in recent years. The amazing Dead Sea Scrolls have produced a little fragment of this section of Daniel, and in the middle of Daniel 2:4 the Hebrew stops and the Aramaic begins exactly as our text reads two thousand years later. The Hebrew portion of Daniel resumes at the end of chapter 7. This transition of Aramaic to Hebrew is also confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls, for of the two manuscripts that have this section, both have the change from Aramaic to Hebrew precisely where our modern text has it!(1)

This speaks to the great care with which the Scriptures were copied!

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. Lightfoot, Neil R., How We Got the Bible, Third Edition, page 28.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Scholars Respond to Reza Aslan's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth"

Muslim Dr. Reza Aslan has been in the news recently regarding his newest book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.  In the book, Aslan claims, among other things, that Jesus never considered Himself God.  

Here are a few scholarly reactions to the book:

Dr. William Lane Craig

“Aslan has offered nothing new under the sun when it comes to offering a critique of the historical Jesus,” Craig said in a recent press release distributed in an effort to decry the book. “In fact, he is attempting to revert scholarship back to the early 1900’s by echoing Albert Schweitzer’s book, ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus.’ Like Schweitzer, Aslan claims that Jesus is historically unknowable and we can never get back to the real Jesus.” [1]

Dr. Craig Evans

"Zealot is riddled with errors, probable errors, and exaggerations. Aslan tells us a builder in Nazareth had "little to do." Excavations at Nazareth and nearby Sepphoris suggest otherwise. Being a builder (or "carpenter") meant that "Jesus would have belonged to the lowest class of peasants in first-century Palestine." Where does this come from? Sepphoris, a major city of Galilee, is said to be "a day's walk" from Nazareth. Actually, it takes a jogger about 45 minutes. Scholars will be surprised to learn that the first-century Jewish prophet Jesus ben Ananias, mentioned by the historian Josephus, prophesied the 'imminent return of the messiah.' He did no such thing." [2]

See Evans's entire review here.


Dr. Gary Manning, Jr. 

"Aslan repeatedly presents highly unlikely interpretations of passages in the New Testament, makes little effort to defend those interpretations, then moves on as if he has made his case. Suffice to say this, as others have said before: there is something a little bizarre about using our only historical documents about Jesus (the New Testament) to come to conclusions quite in opposition to those documents. There is a good reason to believe that Jesus claimed to be a divine king and savior who would die and rise again, and would one day return to judge the world: All four gospels, and indeed the entire New Testament make this claim. You can deny that this claim is true, but it is scholarly folly to deny that Jesus and the early Christians believed it." [3]

See Manning's entire review here.

Updated:

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Craig Blomberg

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/31/was-jesus-really-a-rabble-rousing-revolutionary-who-never-considered-himself-gods-son-faith-thinkers-question-muslim-authors-zealot-book/

2. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/august-web-only/zealot-reza-aslan-tells-same-old-story-about-jesus.html


3. http://thegoodbookblog.com/2013/aug/04/a-response-to-zealot-by-reza-aslan/

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

William Lane Craig on Objective Moral Values and Duties

"Philosophers who reflect on our moral experience see no more reason to distrust that experience than the experience of our five senses.  I believe what my five senses tell me, namely, that there is a world of physical objects out there.  My senses aren't infallible, but that doesn't lead me to think that there is no eternal world around me.  Similarly, in the absence of some reason to distrust my moral experience, I should accept what it tells me, namely, that some things are objectively good or evil, right or wrong...Actions like rape, torture, and child abuse aren't just socially unacceptable behavior-they're moral abominations.  By the same token, love, generosity, and self sacrifice are really good.  People who fail to see this are just handicapped, the moral equivalent of someone who is physically blind, and there's no reason to let their impairment call into question what we see clearly." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 140-141.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Invitation from the Reasons to Believe (RTB) Waynesboro, PA Chapter

The RTB Waynesboro, PA Chapter invites you to our chapter meeting on August 15. 

Drawing from the audio series The Problem of Evil, chapter officer Roger Adlon will be presenting a lecture on evil and suffering.

Date: Thursday, August 15 


Time: 7:00–9:00 PM


Location: The Way Station

300 West Main Street
Waynesboro, PA 17268
Map/Directions

This event is free and open to all. There will be light refreshments and an RTB resource giveaway.


Please contact chapter president Teresa Tibbits at Waynesboro@reasons.org or (717) 446-9033 with any questions.


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, August 12, 2013

Answering Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There" by Mike Licona

I recently watched the film The God Who Wasn't There.  I had read about it in the past, but had never taken the time to actually watch it for myself.  Admittedly, it was worse than I expected.

The film offered only ad hominem attacks, outdated or false arguments and straw-men.  As a friend commented, "That's an hour of your life you can't get back!"

Here is a great critique of the film by scholar Mike Licona:

Answering Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There"

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

8 Witnessing Tips


In this article, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason reflects on a conversation he overheard while on an airplane and provides the Christian ambassador with 8 tips to apply to increase the ability of having constructive evangelism efforts. They are as follows:

1. Look for opportunities.
2. When you get an opportunity, don't overcomplicate things. Keep it simple.
3. Try to stay away from religious language, terminology, and religious affect.
4. Focus on truth, not personal benefits of Christianity.
5.Give evidence.
6. Stay calm.
7. Let them walk away if they want.
8. Leave them with something or give them something.

You can read the article here.

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Friday, August 09, 2013

Something to Think About


Almost every day I listen to Money Wise, a daily radio show that is part of Compass-finances God's way. This radio show, and organization, provides Biblical financial advice. This week they spoke with Ken Frenke, a financial planner of Kenneth Frenke & Co, about the global economy and how it affects jobs, unemployment, interest rates, gas prices, and more.

During the discussion the co-host of the program asked for Mr. Frenke's insight on the affect abortion has had on the global economy. He stated that the U.S. and many European nations are seeing aging populations and a shrinking workforce to replace these individuals to support and strengthen the economy due to decreasing reproduction rates. He stated that the millions of lives ended through abortion, beyond their moral value, have economic value. Millions of individuals have not, and are not, entering the workforce to support the economy.

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Article: 5 Common Objections to the Moral Argument by Paul Rezkalla

Taken from here with permission from Apologetics315:

The Moral Argument for the existence of God has been graced with a long tradition of defense from theistic (and atheistic!) philosophers and thinkers throughout the history of Western thought…and a long tradition of misunderstandings and objections by even some of the most brilliant minds. To be fair, the argument is not always as intuitive as theists like to think it is. Essentially, the moral argument seeks to infer God as the best explanation for the objective moral facts about the universe. One of the most popular formulations is as follows:
  1. Objective morality cannot exist unless God exists.
  2. Objective morality exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.
There are a host of common objections that are usually blown in the direction of this argument, but for the sake of brevity, I will only deal with five.

1. “But I’m a moral person and I don’t believe in God. Are you saying that atheists can’t be moral?”

The moral argument has nothing to do with belief in God. No proponent of the moral argument has ever argued that an individual cannot be moral unless they hold belief in God. Rather, the argument deals with grounding, or substantiating, objective morality. If God does not exist, then there can be no basis for objective morality. Sure, atheists can be moral. In fact, I know several atheists who are more moral than some theists! The issue of belief is not pertinent to the argument. The argument simply highlights the fact that there must be a basis– some kind of standard–that is outside of ourselves, in order for there to be objective morality. This objection makes a category error of confusing a question of moral ontology (Is there a moral reality?) with moral epistemology (How do we come to know or believe in the moral reality?).

2. “But what if you needed to lie in order to save someone’s life? It seems that morality is not absolute as you say it is.”

We’re not talking about absolute morality here. There is an important difference betweenabsolute and objective. Absolutism requires that something will, or must, always be the case. Objectivity simply means ‘mind-independent’ or ‘judgement-independent’. When I argue for objective morality, I’m not arguing that it is always the case that lying or killing are wrong; the moral argument does not defend absolute morality. Rather, it contends that there is a standard of morality that transcends human opinions, judgments, biases, and proclivities. Let’s suppose that some nation today decreed that everyone of its homosexual citizens would be tortured to death simply for being homosexual; it would still be the case that, ‘It is wrong to torture homosexuals to death simply for being homosexual’.

The statement, ’It is wrong to torture homosexuals to death simply for being homosexual’ is true, regardless of whether or not anyone believes it to be true. This is what is meant byobjective.

3. ‘Where’s your evidence for objective morality? I won’t believe in anything unless I have evidence for it.’

Well in that case, you shouldn’t believe that I exist. You shouldn’t believe that your parents gave birth to you. You shouldn’t believe that your closest loved ones are real, actual persons who matter and have feelings. You shouldn’t believe that the external world around you is actually there. After all, how do you know that you are not a brain in a vat being electrically stimulated by a crazy scientist who wants you to think that all of this is real? You could be in the matrix, for all you know (take the blue pill)! How do you know that you weren’t created a couple minutes ago and implanted with memories of your entire past life? How could you possibly prove otherwise?

See where this is going? Denying the existence of something on the basis of, ‘I will not believe unless I have evidence for it’ leaves you with solipsism. We believe in the reality of the external world on the basis of our experience of the external world, and we are justified in believing that the external world is real unless we had good evidence to think otherwise. There is no way to prove (empirically or otherwise) that the external world is real, or that the past wasn’t created 2 minutes ago with the appearance of age, and yet we all believe these to be true and are justified in doing so. In the absence of defeating evidence, we are justified in trusting our experience of the external world. In the same way, I think we can know that objective morality exists on the basis of our moral experience. We have access to moral facts about the universe through our moral intuition. Unless we have good reason to distrust our moral experience, we are justified in accepting the reality of the objective moral framework that it presents us with.

4. ‘If morality is objective, then why do some cultures practice female genital mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and other atrocities which we, in the West, deem unacceptable?’

There can be two responses given here:

The first response is that even though not all cultures share the exact same moral facts, most embrace the same, underlying moral values. For example, there are certain tribes that practice senicide (authorized killing of the elderly) due to their belief that everyone in the afterlife will continue living on in the same body that they died with. Thus, in order to ensure that those in the afterlife are capable of hunting, swimming, building houses, etc., the elderly are killed before they become too old to take care of themselves. This act is done with the well-being of the elderly in mind. The moral value that we hold in the West- ”The elderly are valuable and must be taken care of”- is also accepted by these tribes, even though their facts are slightly (well, maybe more than slightly) off.

The second response is that some cultures do, in fact, practice certain things that are straight up morally abominable. Cultures that practice infanticide, female circumcision, widow burning, child prostitution, etc. are practicing acts that are repulsive and morally abhorrent. When a man decides to have his 6-year old daughter circumcised or sold into prostitution, that is not a cultural or traditional difference that we should respect and uphold, rather these are atrocities that need to be advocated against and ended. The existence of  multiple moral codes does not negate the existence of objective morality. Are we to condone slavery and segregation since they were once allowed under our country’s moral code? Of course not. We condemn those actions, and rightly so.

Take the example of Nazi Germany: the Nazi ideology consented to the slaughter of millions, but their actions were wrong despite them thinking that they were right. Tim Keller summarizes this point succintly:
The Nazis who exterminated Jews may have claimed that they didn’t feel it was immoral at all. We don’t care. We don’t care if they sincerely felt they were doing a service to humanity. They ought not to have done it. We do not only have moral feelings, but we also have an ineradicable belief that moral standards exist, outside of us, by which our internal moral feelings are evaluated.
Simply because a society practices acts that are contrary to what is moral does not mean that all moral codes are equal. Moral disagreements do not nullify moral truths.

5. ‘But God carried out many atrocities in the Old Testament. He ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.’

For starters, this isn’t really an objection to the moral argument. It does not attack either premise of the argument. It is irrelevant, but let’s entertain this objection for a second. By making a judgement on God’s actions and deeming them immoral, the objector is appealing to a standard of morality that holds true outside of him/herself and transcends barriers of culture, context, time period, and social norms. By doing this, he/she affirms the existence of objective morality! But if the skeptic wants to affirm objective morality after throwing God out the window, then there needs to be an alternate explanation for its basis. If not God, then what is it? The burden is now on the skeptic to provide a naturalistic explanation for the objective moral framework.

About Paul Rezkalla

Paul graduated from NYU with degrees in Religious Studies and History. He is now studying for an MA in Philosophy of Religion & Ethics at the University of Birmingham in England. He enjoys history, philosophy, and theology.


For more great apologetics resources like this one, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Atheist Kai Nielsen on God and Morality

"To say that something is wrong because...it is forbidden by God, is perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God.  But to say that something is wrong...even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable..."

You can checkout Dr. William Lane Craig's debate with Nielsen here.  In the debate, Craig says of Nielsen:

"I feel privileged to be debating Dr. Nielsen. You'll probably never hear a more compelling argument presented on the atheist side..."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Special Feature: Contradict Movement

So, we've all seen the bumper sticker...


I found a better one...


Andy Wrasman explains the meaning behind the sticker in the video below:



Get your sticker here.  The bumper sticker comes with this explanation for those who might ask about it.

Learn more here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, August 05, 2013

Old Testament Passages: 2 Samuel 24- David's Census

During my daily devotional time this summer, I've decided to read through Old Testament History (Joshua through 2 Chronicles).  I have truly enjoyed this experience but must admit at times it has sparked some questions that I needed to further research.  Most recently, I read through 2 Samuel 24 where David orders a census of Israel and Judah.  According to this passage, David and his people are punished for this act.

A couple of questions I had to ask are :
  • Why would David be punished for conducting a census?
  • Why did the people have to pay for his "sin?"

Below are a couple of articles in response to this passage:






God Bless,

Saturday, August 03, 2013

God and Abstract Objects


This is a fascinating discussion on the Reasonable Faith podcast regarding abstract objects. What are they? Do they exist? If they do, what does their existence mean for God's aseity?

You can take a listen here.

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Friday, August 02, 2013

How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot

The late Dr. Lightfoot served as Frank and Della Pack Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. He wrote that we know the following regarding early writing:

  • It was widespread in Mesopotamia at least by 3000 B.C.
  • Somewhere between Egypt and Mesopotamia in the area of Syria-Palestine, some Semitic person(s) developed the alphabet. Perhaps around 1750 B.C.
  • The best example of early alphabetic script are the Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions dating back to about 1500 B.C. and located only about fifty miles from the traditional site of Mount Sinai.
He went on to write:

Such information as this has important implications for the origin of our Bible, for skeptical Bible critics formerly held that writing was unknown in the days of Moses and therefore that Moses could not have been the author of the first five books of the Bible. We now know that writing was practiced many centuries before Moses and that an alphabetic script was in use in the vicinity of Sinai. Indeed, at least five different systems of writing are known to have existed in the general area of Syria-Palestine when Moses lived. All of this means it can no longer be assumed that it was impossible for Moses to have written the books ascribed to him.(1)

I just started making my way through this book, so expect to see additional posts gleaning from it in the future.

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Footnotes:
(1) Lightfoot, Neil R., How We Got the BiblePages 12-13