Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Article: Is Naturalism a Simpler Explanation than Theism? by Paul Copan

In this featured article, philosopher Paul Copan considers whether naturalism or theism better accounts for key features of our universe and key aspects of our human experience.

He writes:

"Naturalism is “simpler” in that it involves fewer entities within its system. But that does not help in accounting for the universe, its major features, and key aspects of human experience. To get rid of God means losing significant explanatory power. A theistic context helps us make sense of many important characteristics of the created order." 

You can checkout the entire article here.  It is well worth the time!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

C.S. Lewis on Miracles

"We know the experience against [miracles] to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false.  And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred.  In fact, we are arguing in a circle."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. As quoted by Mike Licona in The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 143.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Article: Christmas Notes, Part 1: Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem? by Tim McGrew

In this featured article, scholar Tim McGrew shares what the gospel writers tell us about Jesus' birth and further deals with some of the claims of bible critic Bart Ehrman.

You can check it out here.






Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, December 23, 2013

Books for Non-Christians: A Breakpoint.org Commentary



Are you still looking for some last minute Christmas gifts for your loved ones? This Breakpoint.org commentary by Eric Metaxas provides five books for the unbeliever that you may be trying to reach:

  • "The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt” by Joe Loconte
  • “The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming” by Rod Dreher
  • “Angry Conversations With God" by Susan Isaacs
  • R.A. Dickey’s “Wherever I Wind Up.”
  • “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions” by David Berlinski.

You can read or download the brief commentary here.


Daily_Commentary_12_13_13

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth to the Gay Rights Narrative

In a recent podcast, Alan Shelmon of Stand to Reason discussed the ability of same-sex attraction to change and how this truth dismantles the gay rights narrative. You can listen to this podcast here.

On the same note, I think the claim “people are born with same-sex attraction” is nonsensical. Are we born with attractions? For example, is a newborn female attracted to the lines and curves of the female form? Or even to the lines and curves of the male form for that matter? It seems silly to me to think so. It could be said that we have no way of knowing such things. But if that is the case, then how is the claim “people are born with same-sex attraction” able to be made?

It seems to me that attractions are developed and therefore attractions that correspond to reality, and for which it is of utmost importance that they do correspond with reality, should be cultivated. Same-sex attraction is not one of those attractions for it goes against the natural order of the male and female functional parts.   

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Article: A Brief Sample of Archaeology Corroborating the Claims of the New Testament by J. Warner Wallace

In this featured article, apologist and cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace demonstrates how archaeology has provided much corroborating evidence in support of the Book of Acts. 

In regard to the author of Acts, Luke, Wallace writes:

"Luke’s narratives include detailed and specific descriptions related to the locations, people, offices and titles within the Roman Empire. In fact, many of Luke’s claims were eventually confirmed by archaeological discoveries..."

Wallace also offers resources for those who want to learn more about the corroborating evidence for the New Testament provided by archaeology.

You can checkout the post here.

I highly recommend Jim's work!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Agnostic Thomas Nagel on Why There is Anything

"The existence of our universe might be explained by scientific cosmology, but such an explanation would still have to refer to features of some larger reality that contained or gave rise to it. A scientific explanation of the Big Bang would not be an explanation of why there was something rather than nothing, because it would have to refer to something from which that event arose. This something, or anything else cited in a further scientific explanation of it, would then have to be included in the universe whose existence we are looking for an explanation of when we ask why there is anything at all.  This is a question that remains after all possible scientific questions have been answered." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Find more great quotes and resources here.

Footnote:
1. "WHY IS THERE ANYTHING?" IN SECULAR PHILOSOPHY AND THE RELIGIOUS TEMPERAMENT (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS: 2009), P. 28.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Common Objection #21- "The Genealogies of Jesus Conflict with Each Other."

One of the supposed problems with the gospels is that the genealogy of Christ recorded by Luke (3:23-38) appears to conflict with the genealogy of Christ recorded by Matthew (1:1-17).

Sean and Josh McDowell offer a concise answer to this claim:

"At first glance, we may get the impression that both accounts are tracing the family line of Jesus through his legal father, Joseph, in which case there is an obvious contradiction. It is confusing because Matthew 1:16 indicates Jacob is Joseph’s father, while Luke 3:23 says that Heli is the father of Joseph.

A plausible solution is to recognize that Matthew is giving us Joseph’s family line, but Luke is tracing the genealogy of Mary. The reason that Mary is not mentioned in Luke 3 is probably because she has already been designated the mother of Jesus in several instances.

The usual practice of a Jewish genealogy is to give the name of the father, grandfather, and so on, of the person in view. Luke follows this pattern, and does not mention the name of Mary, but the name of the legal father. However, Luke makes it clear that Joseph is not, in reality, the father of Jesus, since Jesus had been virgin born (see Luke 1:26-35).

Luke is no doubt tracing the roots of Jesus through his mother, Mary, who was a descendant of Heli, and so on. Joseph’s name is mentioned, according to the common practice, but he is portrayed as the supposed father of Jesus, and God as the actual father.

Additionally the reason two genealogies are even given could be that one (Luke’s) demonstrates Jesus’ connection to all humanity since it traces his roots to Adam. And the other (Matthew’s) shows he is the rightful heir to King David’s throne and is the continuing fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. This emphasizes Jesus as both the Messiah to the Jews and the Savior of the entire human race." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. Text found here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Article: 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer by Natasha Crain

In this featured article, author of the blog "Christian Mom Thoughts" Natasha Crain lists 65 questions that every Christian parent needs to learn to answer.

You can find this excellent list here.

Mrs. Crain's blog is an excellent resource for parents who desire to train their children to know what they believe and why they believe it.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Hunters in the New Dark Ages


In the Fall edition of The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, Paul D. Miller discusses the importance of being a book hunter. He writes:

The times call for a new generation of book hunters. Like the book hunters of the Middle Ages, the new book hunters take it as their mission to uncover and salvage the best of what came before:  to cherish it; hold it up for praise and emulation; study it, above all, to love it and pass it on. The new book hunters sift the cultural artifacts of the world - in our era, not limited to books - to separate the wheat from the chaff, to weed out the unworthy and cultivate the fruitful and edifying, to recover the scattered, forgotten gems amidst the avalanche of trash. The new book hunters are not rescuing works from mold and decay but, what is sometimes just as dangerous, from obscurity, neglect, ridicule, and scorn. 

He goes on to describe the Bible as one of these great books:

The original and still-greatest of the great books is the Bible. Even atheists should recognize that it is the most influential and probably most widely-read book ever produced in human civilization. Familiarity with the Bible is a basic requirement for even a perfunctory understanding of history, literature, art, philosophy, religion, or society. Its removal from school curricula was the victory of barbarism. It need not - should not - be taught as God's truth in public schools, but it should be taught for its literary and historical value in every school on the planet. If you have not read the Bible cover-to-cover, you are not an educated adult and your understanding of every other book you read will be still-born.

This is a great article and it has caused me to create a reading list, which Miller also discusses in the article, which consists of books I might otherwise not have considered re-reading or reading to become well-rounded and better able to discover the "gems" from the "trash".

You can find the Fall edition of The City here. The article is on page 45.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase




Friday, December 13, 2013

Article: Is Fulfilled Prophecy of Value for Scholarly Apologetics? by Dr. John Bloom

In this featured article, Dr. John Bloom contends that "the best tool that God has given us to illustrate His influence of history is fulfilled prophecy."

You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Article: C.S. Lewis and the Argument from Reason by Jay W. Richards

In this featured article, philosopher Jay Richards explains the argument from reason (AFR) as put forth by C.S. Lewis.

Richards writes:

"The purpose of the argument is to show that naturalism and reason are incompatible, that believing in naturalism is self-defeating. That is, if naturalism is true, then we ought not to trust our capacity for reason, and so, ought not to trust arguments in favor of naturalism."

Further, as Richards notes, even Charles Darwin himself recognized this problem. It was Darwin who confessed:

"With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" 

You can checkout this excellent article here.  If you are not familiar with the AFR, this is a great starting place!

Further, for those who want to dig deeper, I highly recommend Victor Reppert's book C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea.  Our review of the book is here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jesus Argued Reductio Ad Absurdum

I recently had the pleasure of attending an apologetics conference with a friend of mine who is an atheist.  One of the speakers, J. Warner Wallace, pointed out that Jesus was an astute thinker that valued evidence and went on to  provided an example.  This took my atheist friend by surprise and he seemed to appreciate the fact that Jesus was an intelligent person who valued facts and evidence.  This is something that is evident when one begins reading the Gospels; however, the church has not done enough to cultivate this view of Jesus.  As followers of Christ, we are often quick to point out how loving He is or how humble He is, but most of us do not think of Him as the smartest man who ever lived, as the late Dallas Willard contented.  

In their book The Apologetics of Jesus authors Norman Geisler and Patrick Zukeran demonstrate that Jesus was a master logician and very adept with making arguments.  For example, they point out an example of Jesus arguing reductio ad absurdum in the gospels:

"Reductio ad absurdum (reduction of absurdity) is an argument that demonstrates that if something is supposed to be true but it leads to a contradiction or absurdity, then it cannot be true.  It works this way: The argument begins with the premises your opponent holds.  Then you reveal how this leads to a contradiction, and thus your opponent's view is reduced to absurdity.  This is a powerful way to reveal the false nature of a view, for if we can show that it leads to a contradiction, then it cannot be true.

Matthew 12:22-28.  Jesus uses the reductio ad absurdum argument to respond to the Pharisees' accusation that he is exorcising demons by the power of Satan.  Jesus demonstrates that their premise leads to a contradiction: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself.  How then can his kingdom stand?  And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?" (vv. 25-27)

Jesus begins with the Pharisees' premise that he drives out demons by the power of Satan.  He points out that if he is empowered by Satan to drive out demons, Satan is casting out his own servants.  This would mean Satan is divided against himself, and any kingdom, city, or household that develops internal strife will destroy itself.  Jesus goes on to point out that there are contemporary Jewish exorcists who also cast out demons.  If they believe these men cast out demons by the power of God, why do they not believe that Jesus does so by the power of God?...Thus, Jesus uses the reductio ad absurdum argument to show that the claim that his authority to cast out demons is from Satan creates a contradictory and absurd conclusion." [1]

Further, in his excellent article, Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist, thinker Doug Groothuis points out another example in the gospels of Jesus arguing reductio ad absurdum:

"Consider Jesus’ apologetic use of reductio ad absurdum in defending His identity as the Messiah.
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The reply was, “The son of David.” Jesus responded, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’” By quoting Psalm 110:1, Jesus appealed to a source that the Pharisees accepted. He concluded with the question: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” which, as Matthew recorded, silenced the audience (see Matt. 22:41–46). The argument can be stated as follows:

1. If the Christ is merely the human descendent of David, David could not have called him “Lord.”
2. David did call the Christ “Lord” in Psalm 110:1.
3. To believe Christ was David’s Lord and merely his human descendent (who could not be his Lord) is absurd.
4. Christ, therefore, is not merely the human descendent of David.

Jesus’ point was not to deny the Christ’s ancestral connection to David, since Jesus Himself is called “the Son of David” in the Gospels (Matt. 1:1), and Jesus accepted the title without objection (Matt. 20:30–31). Jesus rather showed that the Christ is not merely the Son of David. Christ is also Lord and was so at the time of David. By using this reductio ad absurdum argument, Jesus expanded His audience’s understanding of who the Christ is and that He himself is the Christ." [2]

Jesus was very comfortable with using logic and sound arguments; therefore, so we His followers should be.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. The Apologetics of Jesus by Norman L. Geisler and Patrick Zukeran, p. 75-76.
2. Doug Groothuis, Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist, see here.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Why It's Sometimes Smart to Agree With An Atheist

In this article taken from Dear Friend:  Letters to Christian Ambassadors, Greg Koukl writes:

When a naysayer raises an objection, it is meant to push us off balance and put us on the ropes in a defensive position. In some cases, stepping forward instead of backwards changes that dynamic and the objection goes dead in the water.

This tactic can be used for example with the challenge, "There is no intelligent designer because the design is imperfect." Agree that the design is imperfect but state that it does not logically follow that there is no designer. Koukl uses the unreasonableness of denying a watch that runs 3 minutes slow is designed as an example.

He also uses the oft repeated saying, "You are an atheist towards many gods. I just believe in one less god than you do", to demonstrate the use of this approach. Once again, agree with the charge and then simply say, "What is your point?" Koukl uses the example of bachelors having one less wife than married men. 

The article can also be found here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Was Charles Darwin a Confident Evolutionist?

In the December 5, "Today's New Reason to Believe," RTB scholar Kenneth Samples discusses "Darwin's Doubt."

It may be surprising to learn that the father of modern evolutionary theory had doubts about his proposed explanation for life’s diversity. In an article entitled “Darwin’s Doubt,” I address Charles Darwin’s worries about the philosophical implications of his biological theory. For example, he wrote:

"With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"1

Consistent with Darwin’s original uneasiness, a growing contingent of theists think it is irrational to believe in evolutionary naturalism in particular. I outline three reasons for this skepticism.

1. Naturalism Postulates a Non-rational Source for Human Rationality

According to the presumptions of science, an effect requires an adequate and sufficient cause, and the effect cannot be greater than the cause. But in the case of evolution, the effect of human intelligence is magnitudes (exponentially) greater than its supposed cause.

2. Evolution Promotes a Species’ Survivability, Not Its True Beliefs

Evolution functioned only to enhance a particular organism’s adaptation to its environment—thus promoting that species’ continued existence. What a particular species believes about its environment is nonessential to the process. Evolutionary naturalism appears to lead to inevitable insecurity concerning the truth of one’s beliefs.

3. False Beliefs Illustrate Evolutionary Naturalism’s Epistemological Unreliability

Attributing humanity’s false religious convictions (from the naturalist perspective) to the evolutionary process only adds suspicion to Darwin’s original doubt. If evolution is responsible for humankind’s virtually universal religious impulse—which from a naturalistic point of view is patently false (and even pernicious, according to Dawkins)—then history shows that false beliefs about reality have promoted human survivability more than true beliefs.

But again, if evolutionary naturalism can cause a person to believe that which is false (such as religiously oriented beliefs) in order to promote survivability, then what confidence can evolutionists muster that their own convictions are reliable and true?

For the full-length article, visit http://www.reasons.org/blogs/reflections/darwin-s-doubt.




Kenneth R. Samples, “I believe deeply that “all truth is God’s truth.” As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity’s truth-claims.” Read more about Kenneth Samples.

References

1. Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; repr., Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.

That you may know,
Roger

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Twelve Questions of Christmas: Resource for Children

The Christmas season is in full swing.  Our Christmas tree is looking great in the living room, many people on our street have adorned their houses and yards with lights, blow-up figures of Santa and Frosty, etc.  My children have attached themselves to the excitement of this time of year.  And I will admit I'm enjoying every moment of it, for the most part.

But it's also an opportunity to teach them why we celebrate Christmas.  Instead of focusing on what Santa will be bringing them, it's a great time to share how this day is for celebrating God's plan to come to us in the form of a baby. 

One resource that my kids really enjoy is the "What's in the Bible" series that was created by Phil Vischer (the Veggie Tales guy).  He has a specific DVD for this time of year entitled "Why Do We Call it Christmas?"  It's a great resource to teach your children about the origin of the Christmas celebration, how Santa fits in, and more.

You can find out more about the video here.

There is also the free resource on You Tube entitled "The 12 Questions of Christmas."


Enjoy!




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Article: The Apologetics of Jesus by Eric Chabot

It was J.P. Moreland that originally challenged me to think of Jesus Christ as the smartest man who ever lived.  Sadly, many people, whether believer or not, don't even think of Jesus when pondering the great thinkers of history.

In this featured article, Director of Ratio Christi at Ohio State University Eric Chabot demonstrates that Jesus was indeed an exceptional thinker and apologist.

You can check it out here.


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Question: "If God Cannot Change, Why Should We Pray?" by Bill Pratt

I am often asked this question by followers of Christ.  Blogger Bill Pratt on his blog, Tough Questions Answered, offers a nice, concise answer to this common inquiry.

He writes:

"The Bible teaches, and theology argues, that God cannot change. This is called divine immutability. But if God cannot change, then why do we pray to him? After all, when we pray, aren’t we trying to change God’s mind?

Norm Geisler answers this question in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation.  Listen to what he says:

God is omniscient . . . , and an all-knowing Being cannot change His mind. If He does, He is not really all-knowing. Therefore, God cannot change His mind in answer to prayer.

When we pray (or have prayed), God not only knew what we were going to pray, but He ordained our prayer as a means of accomplishing His purpose. Prayer is not a means by which we change God; it is a means by which God changes us.

Prayer is not a means of our overcoming God’s reluctance; it is a way for God to take hold of our willingness. Prayer is not a means of getting our will done in heaven, but a means of God getting His will done on earth."

You can read more here.

I highly recommend Bill's blog for short, concise answers to tough questions about Christianity and how it relates to science, ethics, philosophy and history.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad 

Monday, December 02, 2013

"What Do You Believe? Does God Exist?"


 John Mark Reynolds and Dan Barker recently debated these questions at Houston Baptist University. You will find the video of the debate, and John Mark Reynolds thoughts on the debate, here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase