Monday, February 27, 2017

The Story of Reality

In the genre of apologetic writings, it can be difficult to find new books that aren’t covering the same set of arguments in slightly various ways. While this is not bad in itself – most offer fresh angles and insights into the same “old” arguments – The Story of Reality is a breath of fresh air. Often when reading, I find I hear the voice of the author speaking the text in my head because the writing style parallels the authors speaking style. Such was not the case with this. However Greg Koukl devised to write this text, it is a uniquely fresh and enjoyable read. It covers a lot of ground in a thorough yet winsome way. The arguments are basic and clear without getting bogged down in details.

My only caveat is his assertion that every worldview has four elements: creation, fall, redemption and restoration. I’m not sure many atheists or agnostics would agree that the elements after “creation” are a part of “reality”.

What I would like to do is share some “clips” of what I thought were his more significant thoughts concerning God’s Wrath, The Trade and Perfect Justice, some of the more controversial aspects that are unique to the Christian story.

Wrath

It is hard to imagine anything in religion more repugnant to people than the wrath of God. And it’s easy to see why.

First, God’s wrath is unsettling when we are the ones standing in the dock. Law abiding citizens do not object when criminals pay their due. Only the felon finds fault. Second, we are so well acquainted with our own failures that familiarity has largely removed any deep sense of their gravity. We are inclined to consider ourselves as, generally speaking, basically good folk.

The notion of a “vengeful” God strikes us as inconsistent with a God of love.

“Why doesn’t God do something?” we wonder. Yet we cry foul when we learn God will do something decisive about evil and we are the evil doers.

God would not be good if he truly hated evil but was benign toward those who consistently cause it. Justice means exacting an appropriate payment for a crime. No payment, no justice. No justice, no goodness. Is God “vengeful”? No more than any good, fair, noble, just judge who must pass sentence on lawbreakers. (97)

The Trade

Each of the dead is judged by his own behavior, not by comparing one person with another but simply by a raw accounting of each person’s conduct recorded in books for all to see. Every misdeed has been logged, every sin has been written down, and every careless word has been noted.

If God is good, he must punish the guilty, and if he is good he can only punish the guilty.

None will find safe harbor in his own merit since all things hidden will be revealed. In the final reckoning, every man will be shown to be a debtor to God – something each of us already knows deep in our own hearts.

Before the white throne, each person who is judged by his own behavior is found guilty, the record in the books silencing every appeal. It will be clear to all that God is justified when he speaks and blameless when he judges. The books leave no room for debate, no ground for petition or plea.

When a debt was owed in the first century, a “certificate” of debt was made. When the obligation was settled, it was officially resolved with a single Greek word placed upon the parchment’s face: tetelestai.

When Jesus dies on the cross, when the full payment is made, when the last of the debt of those who trust him melts away, when the justice of God is fully satisfied, Jesus simply dismisses his spirit into the Father’s hand and dies. But before he does, a single word falls from his lips. It is the word tetelestai - “It is finished.” His goal has been reached; his task has been achieved. The divine transaction is complete. Jesus takes our guilt. We take his goodness. Theologians use terms like justification or substitution or redemption or propitiation. We will simply call it what Christians of the past have called it, the “Marvelous Exchange”. (127-129)

Perfect Justice

How is an eternal hell an example of a loving God? Hell is not an example of God’s love. It is an example of his justice. His love is demonstrated by his free offer of pardon from hell, which many decline. But they will not be able to decline his justice.

If God simply let wicked people go free, then he would not be good at all. And if he were not good, it is very difficult to see how he could be loving. Since God’s love and justice are both good things, they are not in conflict with each other.

If you still insist that a loving God would never send anyone to hell, then you must settle in your mind that desperately evil acts will forever remain unpunished. Yet isn’t part of our complaint about evil that evil people get away with the evil they have done? Have you thought about what that would mean?

There is no contradiction between God’s love, which is wonderful, and God’s justice, which is terrifying. I want you to see that they come together in a breathtaking way when his love and his justice and his mercy all converge at a cross. (162-163)

So is Mr. Koukl right? Do the puzzle pieces fit? Does the Christian world view tell the “true” Story of Reality? Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself, read the book, don’t wait for the movie.



Have a little hope on me, Roger


Koukl, G. (2017). The Story of Reality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Mark Zuckerberg’s theory of human history

Boy Scouts Christian Alternative Sees Uptick after Transgender Decision

It Is Absolutely Outrageous for the Government to Force Christians to Violate Their Faith

Shame on the Silent Christian Leaders Who Refuse to Stand Against Government Tyranny

Roe Vs Wade Landmark Abortion Ruling Plaintiff Dies Aged 69

William Dembski Moves on From ID: Some Reflections

After Islamic jihadi attacks Ohio State students, campus hosts talk on “Islamophobia”

Video surfaces of Milo Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, ACU board reportedly not consulted on CPAC invite  Update: MILO Resigns from Breitbart News

Melania Trump Just Opened Her Husband’s Rally With The Lord’s Prayer

South Sudan in Crisis: 5 Million Face Starvation

NASA scientists want to make Pluto a planet again

Statue of Jesus Christ beheaded twice in two weeks

Atheist forces school to drop Ten Commandments

Conservatives Praise Trump Transgender Bathroom Decision

Alan Colmes, Fox News Contributor, Dies at 66

Storm Doris: Woman killed as UK hit by winds reaching 94mph

Earth’s Seven Sisters: Are They Really Similar?

Seven-Year-Old Left Line for Red Sox Autographs to Ask Army Reserve for One

Archaeologists uncover city gate destroyed by Hezekiah

Assisted suicide marches on as Congress fails to act

Even dolls are choosing to be transgender now

Scientists: Here's What Really Causes Climate Change (And It Has Nothing To Do With Human
Beings)


If Conservatives Continue Abandoning Virtue, We Won't Last

Schools are Teaching Islam but Banning Christianity: These Jersey Moms Want to Find Out Why

Thoughts on Is Genesis History?

CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Girls Not Wanting to See Male Genitalia in Locker Room: Parents Should ‘Teach Tolerance’

Christian Father Shot in the Head, Son Buried Alive Days After ISIS Affiliate Calls Believers "Prey"

Christian Father Shot in Head, Son Burned Alive Days After ISIS Affiliate Calls Believers 'Prey'
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-father-shot-in-head-son-buried-alive-days-after-isis-affiliate-calls-believers-prey-175729/#gX6MJFmfW83q9ZHj.99
Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, February 24, 2017

How Atheist Guillaume Bignon Became a Christian Theologian - David Wood interview

In this video, David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics interviews Guillaume Bignon, a former atheist turned Christian.  I found his testimony worth sharing here.
Below is an excerpt from a Reasonable Faith podcast explaining how his then girlfriend's (now wife) belief in God is what motivated him to examine the evidence further-
"Her religious beliefs clearly remained the problem, and my new goal in life was essentially to explain to her why all this was untenable, so that she could put this nonsense behind her, and we could be together without her misconceptions standing in the way. So I started thinking about the whole thing. What good reason was there to think God exists, and what good reason was there to think atheism was true instead?
This step was important, because my own unbelief was comfortably resting on the fact that (smart) people around me didn’t believe in God either, but it was more a reasonable life assumption than the conclusion of a solid argument. So I started to take the question seriously, to objectively assess its credibility. But of course, if I was going to refute Christianity, I first needed to know what exactly it affirmed. So I picked up a Bible to figure it out. And at the same time, since I’m a scientist, I figured there was at least one experiment that could be carried out to dis-confirm the belief that God exists: I thought “if any of this is true, then there is a God who exists right now and presumably cares greatly about this project of mine”, so I started to pray in the air as an atheist “If there is a God, then here I am, I’m looking into this, why don’t you go ahead and reveal yourself to me. I’m open.”
According to Dr. William Lane Craig, "That was his fatal misstep as an unbeliever – turning to God and praying that prayer!"

God Bless,


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Video Debate: William Lane Craig vs. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong- Do Suffering and Evil Disprove God?


On a recent podcast, Dr. William Lane Craig interacted with some interview clips from Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's recent appearance on Closer to the Truth with Robert Lawrence Kuhn.  Featured above is a past debate that Dr. Craig participated in with Sinnott-Armstrong.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Is William Lane Craig Afraid to Debate John Loftus?

Debate Video: "Why I Am/Am Not a Christian" - William Lane Craig vs. Keith M. Parsons

Quote: J. Warner Wallace on Evil

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pt. 4- Four Facts about the Fate of Jesus of Nazareth: Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?

In this series, we have been considering four facts about the fate of Jesus of Nazareth that the majority of NT historians accept. Specifically, we have been looking at the reasons the facts are so widely accepted.

Fact 1: After His crucifixion, Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.

Fact 2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers.

Fact 3: On multiple occasions, and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups saw Jesus alive after His death.

This week, we consider Fact 4: The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe Jesus was risen from the dead, despite having every disposition to the contrary.

As philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig explains, "Consider the situation the disciples faced following Jesus' crucifixion:

1. Their leader was dead and Jewish messianic expectations did not expect a Messiah who, instead of triumphing over Israel's enemies, would be shamefully executed by them as a criminal.

2. According to OT law, Jesus' execution exposed Him as a heretic, a man accursed by God.

3. Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone's rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world.

Nevertheless, the original disciples suddenly came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for that belief."1

Next week, we will finish out this series by offering Dr. Craig's answer to the question, "What is the best explanation of these four facts?"

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Article: What Every Christian Should Know about Paul by Eric Chabot

Evidence for the Historical Jesus Infographic by Stephan J. Bedard

Book Review: The Fate of the Apostles by Sean McDowell
Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?," The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1729.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Answering a Prayer Meme

I will confess that I generally detest Christian and atheist memes.  More often than not, they misrepresent the view they are usually ridiculing and only serve to take cheap shots at the opposition.

For example, consider the meme pictured in this post regarding prayer.  It would have the reader believe that it is absurd for the believer to pray because, after all, "God has an unalterable and perfect plan for every person...!"  So it seems to follow that there is no point in praying!  You see how dumb those believers are?

Now, I wouldn't be so shocked at this incredibly shallow shot across the bow if it were not for the generally high amount of confidence I hold in the skeptic's ability to come up with creative solutions to apparent problems.  Think about it.  The skeptical community has given us such creative explanations as the multi-verse, punctuated equilibrium and even panspermia!  But when considering how God could use the prayers of a believer to accomplish His own purposes (or "unalterable plan"), the skeptic apparently loses all ability to come up with a creative solution to the apparent problem.

In truth, this is not a problem at all and with a little bit of critical thinking, this supposed absurdity evaporates.

As theologian and philosopher Norman L. Geisler explains, God has ordained our prayers as a way to accomplish His purposes:

“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."1

So in the same way God includes us in His plan to reach a lost world, God uses our prayers to accomplish His purposes. God not only supplies the end, but He also ordains the means and in the case of our communication with God, He has ordained our prayers as a way to accomplish His purposes. This means that the prayers of the believer truly do have meaning.

Now, someone could object and say, “But doesn’t that make God dependent upon our prayers?" No. No more than it makes God dependent upon us for the gospel to be shared to the ends of the earth. God has chosen to include us and our prayers in His plan of redemption, but He did not have to.

So, this meme, like so many others, serves to only misrepresent the position of an informed believer and demonstrates the skeptic's unwillingness to consider possible solutions to an apparent theological problem. Perhaps their time would be better well spent making substantive arguments instead of memes. I'm grateful for those who do.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnote:
1. Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, God/Creation.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Preview: Darwin's House of Cards by Tom Bethell

About the Author

Tom Bethell is a senior editor of The American Spectator and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages, and most recently Questioning Einstein: Is Relativity Necessary? (2009).

About the Book


In this provocative history of contemporary debates over evolution, veteran journalist Tom Bethell depicts Darwin’s theory as a nineteenth-century idea past its prime, propped up by logical fallacies, bogus claims, and empirical evidence that is all but disintegrating under an onslaught of new scientific discoveries. Bethell presents a concise yet wide-ranging tour of the flash points of modern evolutionary theory, investigating controversies over common descent, natural selection, the fossil record, biogeography, information theory, evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, and the growing intelligent design movement. Bethell’s account is enriched by his own personal encounters with of some of our era’s leading scientists and thinkers, including Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin; British paleontologist Colin Patterson; and renowned philosopher of science Karl Popper.

You can find a video introduction of the book here.

Learn more about the book here.

You can hear the introduction to Darwin's House of Cards read here.

Order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Resource: Faith + Evolution

Are the Terms "Micro-Evolution" and "Macro-Evolution" a Creationist Fabrication?

Video: Evolution- A Theory in Crisis by Dr. Thomas Woodward


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

The goal of this new feature is to share current news articles that directly, or indirectly, deal with apologetics and/or Christianity.

Here at Truthbomb, we believe that the follower of Christ should be informed about current issues affecting the culture so that we can engage those around us intelligently.  We hope this feature helps you do just that!  Enjoy!

CBS Making Sitcom Called ‘Living Biblically’

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is ‘Reprehensible’

New Dead Sea Scrolls Cave Discovered

Trump’s Supreme Court Pick: Religious Freedom Defender Neil Gorsuch

Trump Vows to Let Churches Engage in Politics

Actor Chris Pratt Reveals the ‘Great Bible Verse’ He Relies on for Strength

100 Evangelical Leaders Sign Ad Denouncing Trump's Refugee Ban

Cosmic Creation Battle May Be Over

Debate: Does God Exist? | William Lane Craig vs Michael Nugent

10 Philosopher Quotes About Love You’ll Never Read In A Valentine

Tim Tebow Hosts Night to Shine, Impacting 75,000 Disabled Young People

'Anti-theist' stabs Christian housemate to death in Germany 'because he hated religion'

Despite my upbringing, I used to be an atheist. Now, like Mark Zuckerberg, I've had a rethink

Idaho pastor recovering after being shot; Jerry Bridges and Gary Smalley die; Dad places ad for husband of his Christian daughter

Teen Vogue’s Pro-Abortion Assault on Underage Girls

Pro-life rallies call for Planned Parenthood defunding

Del Tackett asks in new documentary: ‘Is Genesis History?’

Faith Leaders Who Supported Trump Now Disappointed With His LGBT Agenda

Washington Supreme Court rules against Christian florist in same-sex marriage case

BREAKING: U.S. House votes to overturn Obama’s mandate forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

Universes that spawn ‘cosmic brains’ should go on the scrapheap

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Friday, February 17, 2017

Secular Jew David Berlinski on the Limits of Science

"Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on."1

It should be noted, as Berlinski's website states, he "does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated."2

For more from Berlinski on these topics, check out his book The Devil's Delusion.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

1. As quoted here.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Article: How to ERASE Logical Fallacies by Kenneth Samples

Philosopher Kenneth Samples contends that "[a]n essential skill to develop...is how to understand, evaluate, and present a logical argument" and I could not agree with him more!

In Samples' latest article, he explains what makes an argument successful, common logical fallacies to watch our for and offers "a logical checklist to follow that will help you avoid or erase the most common and dangerous fallacies" when evaluating or crafting arguments.

The latter is offered in the form of the acronym E-R-A-S-E and is as follows:


E- Premises should solidly Establish the conclusion.

R- Premises should be Relevant to the conclusion.

A- Premises should provide Adequate support for the conclusion.

S- Premises should provide Simple support for the conclusion.

E- Premises that support the conclusion carefully weigh the Equivalence of comparisons.

This is a must read article for anyone who values quality arguments!  You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Blog Series: Christian Thinkers 101 by Kenneth Samples

Book Preview- God Among Sages by Kenneth Samples

Logic Primers from Apologetics 315

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pt. 3- Four Facts about the Fate of Jesus of Nazareth: Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?

In this post, we continue to look at four facts concerning the fate of Jesus of Nazareth that are widely accepted by NT historians today.  The facts we have already dealt with include:

Fact 1: After His crucifixion, Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.  See here.

Fact 2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers.  See here.

Fact 3: On multiple occasions, and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups saw Jesus alive after His death.  

William Lane Craig writes, "This fact is almost universally acknowledged among NT scholars for the following reasons:

a) Given its early date as well as Paul's personal acquaintance with the people involved, the list of eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection appearances that is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 guarantees that such appearances occurred.

b) The appearance narratives in the Gospels provide multiple, independent attestations of the appearances.1

Atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann puts it well:

"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."2

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Resurrection Research Links

Abdu Murray makes his C.A.S.E. for the Resurrection of Jesus

Article: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? by Mike Licona

Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead," The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1728.
2. Gerd 
L├╝demann, What Really Happened?, p. 80.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Article: "What Does the Bible Say About Falling in Love?" by gotQuestions.org

Originally published here:

To “fall in love” is to become enamored with someone or to begin to feel love for him or her. Falling in love is an expression describing one’s emotional state when the happy feelings of what’s assumed to be love start to grip the soul. The Bible does not speak of falling in love, but it does have much to say about love.

The Bible presents love not as an emotion but as an act of the will. We choose to love; that is, we commit ourselves to act in the best interests of another person. The idea of “falling in love” relies on warm emotions, fuzzy feelings, and (more than likely) surging hormones; the biblical view of love is that love can exist apart from feelings; no hormones are needed to obey the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8).

Of course, nice emotions often accompany love, and we naturally have warm feelings toward someone we’re attracted to. And of course it’s good and proper to have fuzzy feelings and surging hormones when in the company of one’s spouse. But if that’s all there is to “falling in love,” then we’re in trouble. What happens when the fuzzy feelings fall away? What about when the hormones stop surging? Have we fallen “out” of love?

Love should never be seen as dependent on feelings or expediency or romantic attraction. The “falling in love” concept places undue emphasis on the emotional condition of those involved. The wording of the phrase almost makes it sound as if love were an accident: “I can’t help falling in love with you” makes a nice song lyric, but, in real life, we are responsible to control our emotions. Many marriages have been ended (and many foolishly begun) because someone “fell in love” with the wrong person. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), no matter how hard someone “fell in love” with another man or woman.

Love is not a state that we stumble into; it’s a commitment that we grow into. Part of the trouble with the idea of “falling in love” is the world’s twisting of what love means. It would often be more accurate to say that those who “fall in love” actually “fall in lust” or “fall into infatuation” or “fall into co-dependency.” Love is a divine gift that we can “eagerly desire”; love is “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4), and we don’t “fall into” patience or kindness. The more we grow into love, the more giving and others-focused we will become (see John 3:16 and 1 John 4:10).

Falling in love is a lovely phrase, and it conjures up enjoyable feelings of having entered an ideal romance. Such feelings are fine, in and of themselves, and it’s possible that those who are falling in love have indeed found a perfect match. But we must always remember that love is more than emotional involvement based on physical attraction. Those who are “falling in love” are sometimes blinded to the reality of their situation and can easily mistake the intensity of their emotions for genuine love. The bride in the Song of Solomon speaks of the permanence of true love as she exhorts her husband: “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm” (Song of Solomon 8:6). In other words, “Pledge to me all of your emotion (your heart) and all of your strength (your arm).”

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

When We Choose Suffering by Roger Adlon

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Monday, February 13, 2017

God's Impassibility

Dr. Norman Geisler writes the following about the impassibility of God in his Systematic Theology: Volume Two:

God cannot undergo passion or suffering; nothing in the created universe can make God feel pain or inflict misery on Him. 

This does not mean that God has no feelings, but simply that His feelings are not the results of actions imposed on Him by others. His feelings flow from His eternal and unchangeable nature.1

Dr. J. T. Bridges holds that:

our emotions... are a gift from God so that we can have some inferior analogue to the type of intimacy that God, in virtue of His causal knowing of all contingent being every moment of its existing, has with all things. This is how it can be said that God does not have emotions and in so affirming we are not making God's divine relation to things inferior to our own.2

What do you think? Does God have eternal and unchanging emotions as Dr. Geisler states or does God not have emotions due to his intimate causal connection to all contingent being as Dr. Bridges states? Post in the comments below.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. Geisler, Norman. Systematic Theology: Volume Two. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003. 112.
2. Bridges, J. T. Immutability Eternality Impassibility and Infinity. Slide 51.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Paul Davies on the Fine-Tuning of the Universe

"The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see… even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life -- almost contrived -- you might say a 'put-up job'.… Taken together they provide impressive evidence that life as we know it depends very sensitively on the form of the laws of physics, and on some seemingly fortuitous accidents in the actual values that nature has chosen for various particle masses, force strengths, and so on. If we could play God, and select values for these natural quantities at whim by twiddling a set of knobs, we would find that almost all knob settings would render the universe uninhabitable. Some knobs would have to be fine-tuned to enormous precision if life is to flourish in the universe.”1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

How a Dice Can Show that God Exists? by Justin Brierley

Greer Heard Forum: Robin Collins - "God and the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Discovery"

Is Our Universe Simply the Winner of a Universe Lottery?

Footnote:
1. As quoted by Blake Giunta here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why Believing in Miracles is Not Illogical


Today's featured article is courtesy of ComeReason Ministries' Lenny Esposito:



When Christians believe in miracles, are they being irrational? A recent Pew Research article entitled "Why America's 'nones' left religion behind" held this interesting quote:
About half of current religious "nones" who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention "science" as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said "I'm a scientist now, and I don't believe in miracles." Others reference "common sense," "logic" or a "lack of evidence" – or simply say they do not believe in God.1
There's a whole lot in that paragraph to unpack. However, the claim that faith is somehow against logic caught my eye. Just how would Christianity be illogical? One claim made by atheists is that believing in miracle accounts like those presented in the Bible is itself illogical.

The charge that believing in miracles is illogical as a long history, and most will point to David Hume's famous essay "On Miracles" in his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. There, he makes this charge:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.2

What is a Miracle?

I think Hume makes two mistakes in his assertion above. First, his definition of a miracle, while widely repeated, is simply wrong. It isn't what Christians believe. Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature, but God's direct interaction to suspend his natural laws, which is a big difference.

To clarify, one must understand what we mean when we use the term natural law to begin with. A natural law is simply the way certain portions of the material world work. For example, any two objects will be attracted to one another and that attraction multiplies based on how much mass the objects have and is inversely proportionate to how far away they are. The bigger the objects and the closer they are, the greater the attraction. This is what is known as the law of gravity. If I drop a rock, it will fall towards the earth, because the mass of the earth is so big it pulls on the rock more than the rock pulls on it. 

To violate the law of gravity, one should see a rock not fall to the earth even though there is nothing impeding its fall. A violation means all things were the same, but the outcome is different. But that isn't what's happening in a miracle, because with miracles we have an additional actor: God. It isn't the case that all things are the same. 

This is why miracles shouldn't be considered a violation of a natural law, but God suspending natural law by his power. God is in some way defeating the natural outcome by inserting himself into the mix, just as I can defeat the natural outcome of the falling rock by sticking out my hand and catching it before it hits the ground. Philosopher Richard Purtill agrees. He defines a miracle as "an event in which God temporarily makes an exception to the natural order of things."3  

Given that understanding of what a miracle is, we can create the following argument:

P1: Miracles are not violations of nature's law, but suspensions of nature's laws.
P2: If God created nature's laws, God can suspend nature's laws.
P3: God created nature's laws.

C1: Therefore, God can suspend nature's laws.
C2: Therefore, God can perform miracles.
So, miracles are not in themselves illogical if God exists and he created the universe with its natural laws. For miracles to be illogical, the premise that such a God exists must be shown to be false. That means those who reject God because of the illogic of miracles are actually begging the question! They are assuming God doesn't exist to prove God doesn't exist. That's the truly illogical position to take.

References

1. Lipka, Michael. "Why America's 'nones' Left Religion behind." Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/.
2. Hume, David. "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding." The Harvard Classics: English Philosophers of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. New York: P.F. Collier & Sons, 1910. 1909–14
3. Purtrill, Richard L. "Defining Miracles." In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Action in History. By R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity, 1997. 62. Print.
Image courtesy Ghost of Kuji and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pt. 2- Four Facts about the Fate of Jesus of Nazareth: Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?

Last week, we looked at some of the reasons the majority of NT historians affirm the fact that after Jesus' crucifixion, He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.

This week, we consider some of the reasons the majority of them believe that- Fact #2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers.

According to Dr. William Lane Craig,1 some of the reasons that have led most scholars to this conclusion are as follows:

1. In stating that Jesus "was buried, that He was raised on the third day," the old information transmitted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 implies the empty tomb.
2. The empty tomb story also has multiple and independent attestation in Mark, Matthew, and John's source material, some of which is very early.
3. The empty tomb story as related in Mark, our earliest account, is simple and lacks signs of having been embellished as a legend.
4. Given that in Jewish patriarchal culture the testimony of women was regarded as unreliable, the fact that women, rather than men, were the chief witnesses to the empty tomb is best explained by the narrative's being true.
5. The earliest known Jewish response to the proclamation of Jesus' resurrection, namely, the "disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping" (Mt. 28:12-15), was itself an attempt to explain why the body was missing and thus presupposes the empty tomb.

These are just some of the reasons that the majority of scholars accept the biblical testimony of Jesus' empty tomb.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Video: Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus by Chad A. Gross
The Incarnation: Could God Become Man Without Ceasing to Be God? By James A. Parker III
Apologetics Press- The Resurrection of Christ as a Fact of Science

Footnote:

1. William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?," The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1728.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A Four Week Online Course: Cold-Case Christianity with J. Warner Wallace

Course Details

The Colson Center is excited to be adding a new offering to our programs. Beginning in March, we will be offering on-line “short courses” designed to help you and your family develop a stronger, deeper, richer Christian Worldview.

The first of these courses begins March 7. We will offer a four-week course on “Cold Case Christianity” featuring popular speaker and author J. Warner Wallace. The courses will be an on-line webinar that will take place on four consecutive Tuesday nights beginning at 8 pm ET. We will also be recording the courses and will send you links to the video that you can review again and again, or that you can watch if you happen to miss one or more of the sessions.

The cost of this course is $49.

About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University and as a faculty member at Summit Ministries. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist until the age of thirty-five, when he took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner’s book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview.1

For those who read Truthbomb regularly, you know we are big fans of J. Warner Wallace's work and I highly recommend this course.   At $49, it is a steal!

To checkout more of Jim's work, see here.

To register for this course, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

A Cosmological Argument Primer

Counterpoints: Lawrence Krauss and J. Warner Wallace

Footnote:
1. Text found here.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Live Action, Snopes and Planned Parenthood's "Prenatal Care"

Introduction

Recently, I shared the following video on social media from Live Action:


For those who haven't seen the video, it features Planned Parenthood (PP) President Cecile Richards claiming that Planned Parenthood offers prenatal care at their clinics.  Then the video features sound bites of numerous women calling various PP clinics across the country seeking prenatal care only to be told that "PP does not provide prenatal care."  Out of the 97 affiliates contacted, only 5 actually provided prenatal care.  The obvious conclusion of the video is that PP is being deceptive in claiming that they provide prenatal care at their clinics.

However, the folks at Snopes.com - "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation" - have challenged the conclusion of the Live Action team.  In this response, they argue that Live Action is guilty of: 1) taking PP President Cecile Richards out of context; and 2) leading people to believe that PP has claimed to offer prenatal care at all their facilities when it has never claimed any such thing.

Now let me be clear.  I am unapologetically pro-life; however, the pro-life cause is not served by deceptive actions. If this video does include any type of deception, I want to publicly denounce it and distance myself from it.

So, is Live Action being deceptive, or does Snopes.com have it wrong?  Let's take a look.

The Video Quotes

Quote #1

In the first quote featured in the video, Cecile Richards says, "Prenatal care. These are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for."  So here we see that she is clearly claiming that PP does provide prenatal care (a "kind of" service), but she does not explicitly say that all of PP clinics provide prenatal care.

Conclusion: This quote shows that Cecile Richards claimed that prenatal care was one of many types of care offered by PP.  Even Dan Evon in his Snopes piece writes, "...it's clear that Richards was listing several services that Planned Parenthood provides."

Quote #2

The second quote featured in the video features a quote from Richards while she is campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  The quote from the video says, "...a president who will fight for prenatal care." The entire context of the quote is as follows:

"They want a president who believes access to health care isn’t a luxury — it’s a human right.

They want a president who understands that being pro-choice also means being able to choose to have a child — and a president who will fight for prenatal care, head start, health care for kids and first class public schools because it takes a village!

They want a president who will stand up to the gun lobby and demand safety for kids in schools, folks in church, and women getting healthcare — no matter what.

They want a president who will demand nobody is paid less just because they are a woman — we deserve 100 cents on the dollar!

They want a president who believes that access to health care isn't a luxury it's a human right. They also want a president who understands that being pro-choice actually means being able to choose to have a child. And a president who will fight for pre-natal care, and head start, and health care for kids, and excellent public education. Because as someone so famously said, it takes a village to raise a child. "

Interestingly, Snopes claims that Richards is quoted out of context and, at first glance, this seems true. Clearly the context is not provided!  However, one can safely infer from the above quote that Richards is implying that PP provides prenatal care.  How so?  Think about it.  Here we have the president of PP saying, "...a president who will fight for prenatal care." While I am quite sure PP has nothing to do with the majority of the other services mentioned by Richards, who else would Richards be referring to here but PP? Certainly no Republican candidate ever insinuated that they would take away all prenatal care across the country!  But they have expressed their desire to defund PP. Therefore, what Richards is essentially saying is, "We need a president that will protect PP and the prenatal care we offer."  Otherwise, the reference to prenatal care makes no sense whatsoever.

Conclusion: In this quote, Richards claims that PP offers prenatal care.

Quote #3

The third and final quote featured in the video comes from Lori Lamerand, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.  In the video, she states, "Prenatal care! Um — and that — that is what we want to focus on. That is what is so vital."  The context of this quote was not readily available, but Snopes.com claims that PP said, "Lamerand 'spoke about the vital services like birth control, pap smears, and preventative cancer screenings, which PP provides to women who otherwise might go without.'"  So, according to Snopes, "PP told us that this had little to do with prenatal care; therefore, it doesn't."  This from the "definitive internet resource"?

So, while Snopes.com would have us believe that Lamerand was taken out of context, this is far from clear from the available evidence.  One should strive to be more modest with their claims.

Conclusion: Here, once again, we find a PP CEO (leader) mentioning prenatal care.  At best this demonstrates that a PP CEO implied that PP provides prenatal care.  At worst, it is inconclusive.  If one wants to claim the quote is "taken out of context," they will need to demonstrate this.

So, if I am right, we have evidence that, at the very least, suggests PP's leaders imply they offer prenatal care on a much grander scale than they actually do. However, do more explicit claims exist from Planned Parenthood regarding parental care?  To answer that question, we need more evidence.

Lifting the Fog

In this video, Cecile Richards is very clear about PP and prenatal care.  She explicitly states that it is a service they offer.

Moreover, in this tweet from Richards in May of 2016, Richards claims prenatal care is an essential service they provide.  And, as you can see, they later tried to back away from this claim after the video from Live Action was released.

Further, in February, when Governor of Ohio John Kasich signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood, this is how Richards responded:

"This legislation will have devastating consequences for women across Ohio.  John Kasich is proudly eliminating care for expectant mothers and newborns;"1

Now, I am no doctor, but that sounds a lot like prenatal care.  Further, when has PP ever provided services for newborns?

Also, as featured in the video, a on-hold phone recording from the Virginia Beach, Virginia, Planned Parenthood says: “Did you know that Planned Parenthood can take care of all your reproductive health needs? Whether it’s an annual exam, pregnancy testing and counseling, prenatal care, we’re here for you with high-quality, low-cost services.”2

So, it seems that we have sufficient evidence to conclude that PP leaders do claim to offer prenatal care, but in fact offers very little in relation to the other services they provide.

However, one might also conclude that Live Action could have made their argument more clear. They should have simply argued that PP's leaders have claimed, several times, that they offer much more parental care than they actually do.  They actually offer very little.

Finally, I am disappointed with the lack of balance in the Snopes.com piece.  While Live Action could have made their argument more clear, PP is certainly guilty of being misleading and deceptive.

However, I will not spend much time debating this issue.  It is secondary.  I encourage readers who are interested in learning more to checkout the links I have provided and investigate the matter on their own.  Draw your own conclusion.

The Primary Issue

The main objection I have to Planned Parenthood is expressed in the argument that follows.  If the argument is logically valid and the premises are more plausible than their negations, then the conclusion of my argument follows logically and necessarily.3

1. PP performs abortions

To confirm the truth of this premise, I will simply refer you to PP's own website here.  Further, PP themselves reported that they performed 323,999 abortions in 2014. 4

2. If abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, it is morally right to oppose PP.

This premise seems intuitively obvious.  What morally healthy individual would claim otherwise? We should all stand against the killing of innocent human beings.  Anyone who would deny this premise is morally handicap, and their handicap should not call into question what most of us clearly see: it is our moral obligation to oppose the killing of innocent human beings.

3. Abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.

Admittedly, this is the premise my argument hinges on.  However, for those willing to follow the evidence where it leads, science, philosophy, and critical thinking demonstrate its truth.

The Scientific Case

As others have shared before me,5 conclusive scientific evidence demonstrates that human life begins at conception.  This is no longer a matter of opinion.

The conceived embryo is a individual, living, human being by definition:

Individual: The zygote is distinct from her mother, father, and all other living things.  She has her own unique and complete genetic fingerprint; distinct from either of her parents.

Living: The zygote manifests all the characteristics of biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli and reproduction.

Human: She carries human DNA with a human genetic signature.

Being: She is a self-contained, self-integrating, living entity with her own nature.

We see from science that, from conception, she has everything needed to proceed through the full series of human developmental stages.  No other human single cell has this inherent capacity.  All that is needed is proper nurturing and a proper environment to advance through all the stages of normal human development.  This is not different than you and I. 6

This is confirmed by leading embryology books.  For example, in their book The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology,  Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud write, "A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."7

Further, even former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. "This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge," he wrote in his book Life in the Making."8

The Philosophical Case

As thinkers such as Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf have pointed out, there are only four differences between the unborn and a newborn; none of which are morally relevant reasons for denying them personhood and protection.

Klusendorf asks us to think of the acronym SLED to illustrate these "non-essential differences:"

Size: Are preschoolers less valuable than teenagers, or women less valuable than men because they're smaller?  Size does not equal value.

Level of Development: Is a four-year-old less valuable than her mother because she can't reproduce? Value is not determined by abilities.

Environment: Does your value change when you cross the street, or even roll over in bed?  Where you are-in the womb or out-has no bearing on who you are.

Degree of Dependency: Should we disqualify those who rely on insulin or heart pacemakers just because they are dependent?  Viability doesn't determine worth.
It’s far more reasonable to argue that, although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.7

If you are tempted to resist the science and philosophy that demonstrates that the unborn are human persons, more critical thinking will lead you to the conclusion that, even if we didn't have the above evidence that a fetus is a human person, abortion is murder.  George Fields explains:

"...I contend that whether the fetus is a person at any given moment of pregnancy is a non-issue, since, whatever it is now, it will, in fact, become a person. Therefore, to abort the fetus now is to annihilate the person that fetus would have naturally become."9

He goes on:

"Abortion has the same quality as all forms of killing. If I were to kill someone, I would have fundamentally transformed the nature of the universe from one with this person to one without it. The evil of murder does not derive from the fact that a death has occurred, for death comes to all. All murder does is expedite an inevitable event. The evil of murder, rather, is in the fact that the world has changed for everyone else who keeps on living. A hole has been made in the tapestry of life; Christmas dinner now has an empty chair. So it is with an abortion."8

For the intellectually honest individual, the evidence is clear.  Science, philosophy, and critical thinking demonstrate the truth of premise 3- abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.

4. Therefore, it is morally right to oppose PP.

Conclusion

In this brief piece, I have argued that:

1. Planned Parenthood's leaders imply that prenatal care is an important service they offer when, in reality, they offer very little.  This is misleading and deceptive.

2. Live Action could have made their argument more clear.  They should have simply argued that PP's leaders have claimed, several times, that they offer prenatal care when they offer almost none.

3. Planned Parenthood kills innocent human beings; therefore, it is a moral right to oppose PP.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Resources for Further Investigation

An Explanation of Planned Parenthood’s “3%” Statistic

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger

For Planned Parenthood abortion stats, ‘3 percent’ and ’94 percent’ are both misleading

Related Posts

Late-Term Abortion, the Life of the Mother and the 3rd Presidential Debate

When Pro-Abortion Choice Rhetoric Hurts

Could Acceptance of Abortion Be a Matter of Ignorance?

Footnotes:
1. Kristi Burton Brown, "Cecile Richards tries to claim Planned Parenthood helps “expectant mothers and newborns,” Feb. 23, 2016.
2. Kristi Burton Brown, "Yes, Planned Parenthood claims to do prenatal care, and yes, it’s a lie," Jan. 25, 2017.
3. For a brief explanation about how deductive arguments work, go here.

4. Debra Goldschmidt and Ashley Strickland, "Planned Parenthood: Fast Facts and Revealing Numbers," Jan. 17, 2017.
5. Tim Stratton, "Pro-Choice: The Wrong Side of History, Science and Logic," Sept. 13, 2016.
6. "Pro-Life Defense, Making Your Case," 2015 Gregory Koukl, Stand to Reason.
7. Scott Klusendorf, "How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less."
8. Ibid.
9. George Fields, "Why Abortion Kills a Person Even If You Don't Think the Unborn are People Yet" Jan. 28, 2017.