Friday, August 31, 2018

The Argument from Desire

Here is an interesting argument that I read in Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli's Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.

2. But there exists in us an innate desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.

3. Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

4. This something is what people call "God" and "life with God forever."1

They go on to explain:

The first premise implies a distinction of desires into two kinds: innate and externally conditioned, or natural and artificial.  We naturally desire things like food, drink, sex, sleep, knowledge, friendship, and beauty; and we naturally shun things like starvation, loneliness, ignorance and ugliness.  We also desire (but not innately or naturally) things like sports cars, political office, flying through the air like Superman, the land of Oz and a Red Sox world championship.

Now there are differences between these two kinds of desires.  For example, we do not, for the most part, recognize corresponding states of deprivation for the second, the artificial, desires as we do for the first.  There is no word like Ozlessness parallel to sleeplessness.  But more important, the natural desires come from within, from our nature, while the artificial ones come from without, from society, advertising or fiction.  This second difference is the reason for a third difference: the natural desires are found in all of us, but the artificial ones vary from person to person.

The existence of the artificial desires does not necessarily mean that the desired objects exist.  Some do; some don't.  Sports cards do; Oz does not.  But the existence of natural desires does, in every discoverable case, mean that the objects desired exist.  No one has ever found one case of an innate desire for a nonexistent object.

The second premise requires only honest introspection.  If someone denies it and says, "I am perfectly happy playing with mud pies, or sports cars, or money, or sex, of power," we can only ask, "Are you, really?"  But we can only appeal, we cannot compel.  And we can refer such a person to the nearly universal testimony of human history in all its great literature.  Even the atheist Jean-Paul Sartre admitted that "there comes a time when one asks, even of Shakespeare, even of Beethoven, 'is that all there is?'"

C.S. Lewis, who uses this argument in a number of places, summarizes it succinctly:

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists.  A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling want sot swim; well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity, bk. 3, chap. 10)2

What do you think of the argument?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p. 26.
2. Ibid., p. 26-27

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Video: What Do We Really Know about Right and Wrong by J. Budziszewski

In this featured talk, hosted by the Veritas Forum, philosopher J. Budziszewski discusses what we can know about morality.  He addresses whether there is anything about morality that doesn't change.  He also deals with some confusing moral questions.  

To learn more about J. Budziszewski, go here.


Courage and Godspeed,

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What is the Gospel?

For those who regularly defend the gospel, it is important that we revisit it to remember just what we are defending.

Various leaders within the Anglican family came together in London in 2012 to answer the question, “What is the gospel?" Their answer wonderfully expresses the meaning of the good news.  It is as follows:

The gospel is the life-­transforming message of salvation from sin and all its consequences through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is both a declaration and a summons: announcing what has been done for us in Christ and calling us to repentance, faith and submission to his lordship. ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures’.1

Jesus himself proclaimed ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel’.2 This gospel finds its ultimate ground in the character of the triune God, his perfect love and holiness. God will not ignore human sin. Sin leads to God’s just and holy wrath and the awful reality of hell. The grave consequences of sin — guilt before God and the judgment to come, enslavement to sin and Satan, corruption and death — all must be dealt with. We cannot deal with those consequences ourselves, in part or in whole. In this light, God’s determined love expressed itself most clearly when the Father sent his Son in the power of the Spirit to be the Savior of the world.3 ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’.4 ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’.5

The gospel announces the work of the triune God. The Son came to do the Father’s will in the power of the Spirit. By the Spirit he was incarnate in Mary’s womb in fulfillment of the OT Scriptures, becoming genuinely one of us while remaining truly God.6 He was made like us in every way, sin excepted.7 At the same time he is the unique Son of God, the only savior of the world. He lived the perfect life that none of us can live, always doing the will of the Father who sent him.8 He died for our sins and was raised for our justification, always in perfect unity with the Father and the Spirit. ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit …’9

The gospel, the proclamation of what God has done in Christ, is the powerful means by which God saves men and women today.10 As the gospel is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit enables us to trust in God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life. Faith, genuine repentance and a transformed life are evidence that the gospel has been at work. Because Christ has died and been raised from the grave we cannot continue as before. In response to God’s mercy in saving us, we are called to be obedient, to stand as Christ’s faithful people in the world. We recognize that we now belong to the one who sanctified his people through his own blood.11Having died to sin in Christ we cannot continue to live in it.12 As those rescued by Christ, our thinking and our behavior must be determined by his will expressed in his authoritative written word. Yet this new life of faith and obedience is never a human achievement. We are saved only through faith in Christ alone and even our faith is a gift of God.13 We have been brought from death to life by Jesus and the life he gives us is life as it was meant to be, life to the full.14 It is a life characterized by trust in God’s goodness, love of God and of our neighbor, and hope in the midst of suffering, looking forward to that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.15 On that day, God’s redeemed people will enjoy his presence in a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells.16  In the meantime, his service is perfect freedom.

The gospel announces God’s great victory and the fulfillment of his ancient promises in Christ.17 Sin and the powers that stand behind it are defeated.18 Judgment is exhausted so that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.19 Death has been overturned by the one who is the resurrection and the life.20 Exalted to the right hand of the Father, he pours out his Spirit on the church, equipping it powerfully to worship, to witness by word and deed to the gospel of God, which always remains the gospel concerning his Son.21 This same gospel, proclaimed by Jesus and his apostles, is our message in every age to a broken world of lost men and women who can be rescued only by Jesus, the crucified but risen Saviour and Lord of all. It is in the faithful proclamation of the gospel, and in the living of lives that have been transformed by it, that we give God the glory that is his due.22

Courage and Godspeed,


1 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
2 Mark 1:14
3 1 John 4:14
4 John 3:16
5 Romans 5:8
6 Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35
7 Hebrews 4:15
8 John 6:38; 8:28–29
9 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21
10 Romans 1:16–17
11 Hebrews 13:12
12 Romans 6:2
13 Ephesians 2:8–9
14 John 10:10
15 Philippians 2:9–10
16 2 Peter 3:13
17 Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:5–6
18 Colossians 2:13–15
19 Romans 8:1
20 John 11:25
21 Acts 2:33; Romans 1:1–3
22 Taken from here.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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."1

Courage and Godspeed,

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

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Is Our Universe Simply the Winner of a Universe Lottery?

One formulation of the design argument for God's existence is as follows:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Sometimes skeptics will offer a lottery example in order to justify the chance alternative.  In his book On Guard, William Lane Craig illustrates how this claim might sound:

"In a lottery where all the tickets are sold, it's fantastically improbable that any one person should win, yet somebody has to win!  It would be unjustified for the winner, whoever he may be, to say, 'The odds against my winning were twenty million to one.  And yet I won!  The lottery must have been rigged!'

In the same way, they say, some universe out of the range of possible universes has to exist.  The winner of the universe lottery would also be unjustified to think that because his universe exists, this must have been the result of design, not chance.  All the universes are equally improbable, but one of them, by chance, has to win."1

Dr. Craig goes on to explain why the above analogy betrays a misunderstanding of the design argument:

"Contrary to popular impression, the argument for design is not trying to explain why this particular universe exists.  Rather, it's trying to explain why a life-permitting universe exists.  The lottery analogy was misconceived because it focused on why a particular person won.

The correct analogy would be a lottery in which billions and billions and billions of white ping-pong balls were mixed together with just one black ping-pong ball, and you were told that one ball will be randomly selected out of the horde.  If it's black, you'll be allowed to live; if it's white, you'll be shot.

Now notice that any particular ball that is randomly selected is equally improbable: No matter which ball rolls down the chute, the odds against that particular ball are fantastically improbable.  But some ball must roll down the chute.  This is the point illustrated by the first lottery analogy.  That point, however, is irrelevant because we're not trying to explain why this particular ball was picked.

The crucial point is that whichever ball rolls down the chute, it is overwhelmingly more probable that it will be white rather than black.  Getting the black ball is no more improbable than getting any particular white ball.  But it is incomprehensibly more probable that you will get a white ball instead of a black one.  So if the black ball rolls down the chute, you certainly should suspect that the lottery was rigged to let you live.

So in the correct analogy, we're not interested in why you got the particular ball you did.  Rather we're puzzled by why, against overwhelming odds, you got a life-permitting ball rather than a life-prohibiting ball.  That question is just not addressed by saying, 'Well, some ball  had to be picked!'

In the same way, some universe has to exist, but whichever universe exists, it is incomprehensibly more probable that it will be life-prohibiting rather than life-permitting.  So we still need some explanation why a life-permitting universe exists."2

Courage and Godspeed,

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 114.
2. Ibid., 114-116.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Video: Theistic Evolution by Stephen Meyer

In this presentation, Dr. Stephen C. Meyer presents his case against Theistic Evolution.

Dr. Meyer shared this talk at the "Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique," event, hosted by Biola University.


Courage and Godspeed,

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Article: Following a Unique Christ in a Pluralistic Society by Paul Copan

In this featured article by philosopher Paul Copan, he deals with various issues related to pluralism- the belief that all religions lead to God.  The article explains the questions it addresses:

How can pastors and other Christian leaders encourage those entrusted to their care to handle pluralistic challenges?

How do believers respond to the attacks from a pluralistic society? What are some of the common errors by those who espouse pluralism? If Christianity is the exclusive source of salvation, how do we respond to the question concerning those who have never heard the gospel?

You can read the article here.

To learn more about Paul Copan and his work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Late New Testament Scholar Graham Stanton on the Historical Jesus

Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which as to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.1

Courage and Godspeed,

1. As quoted here.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Alvin Plantinga explains "The Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism"

In the short video (13:45), philosopher Alvin Plantinga explains his famous "Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism."  

James Beilby, in the Dictionary of Christianity and Science, summarizes the argument well:

"...Plantinga argues that the probability that humans would have developed truth-aimed, reliable belief-producing mechanisms, given naturalism and contemporary evolutionary theory, is low.  This is because, given naturalism, it is difficult to see how the content of a belief (or the proposition associated with the belief) enters the causal chain leading to adaptive behavior.  The naturalist who comes to accept this implication of naturalism and evolution acquires a defeater for her or his belief that unguided evolution has produced truth-aimed, reliable cognitive faculties.  This defeater, then, gives the naturalist a defeater for all other beliefs she or he has, including naturalism itself.  Hence naturalism is self-defeating."1

Courage and Godspeed,

1. James Beilby, Alvin Plantinga, Dictionary of Christianity and Science, p. 517.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Book Preview: Scientism and Secularism by J.P. Moreland

About the Author

J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University. He is an author of, contributor to, or editor of over ninety books, including The Soul: How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters.

About the Book

Rigid adherence to scientism—as opposed to a healthy respect for science—is all too prevalent in our world today. Rather than leading to a deeper understanding of our universe, this worldview actually undermines real science and marginalizes morality and religion.

In this book, celebrated philosopher J. P. Moreland exposes the self-defeating nature of scientism and equips us to recognize scientism’s harmful presence in different aspects of culture, emboldening our witness to biblical Christianity and arming us with strategies for the integration of faith and science—the only feasible path to genuine knowledge.


“Science is a wonderfully useful discipline, but in recent times it has been distorted into scientism, the view that science is the ultimate path to truth in any area of reality. Based on that false adulation of science, many have denied the value of religion and philosophy, and many have rejected the claims of divine revelation in the Bible. J. P. Moreland is a respected Christian thinker who has studied both science and the Scriptures in considerable depth. He clearly demonstrates the fallacies of the arguments for scientism. He shows how Christians can defend their faith against scientistic objections, while affirming genuine science as a gift from God.”

- John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Scientism is a silent killer. Despite its name, it is neither scientific nor rational. Yet it attempts to kill our knowledge of God and the good life by claiming that the methods of science are sufficient for any knowledge we may need to know. J. P. Moreland, one of our greatest living philosophers, exposes scientism for what it is—a self-refuting and knowledge-stopping claim. This judgment in no way undermines real science, but rather encourages it. Once more, we are in Moreland’s debt.”

- Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary; author, The Soul in Cyberspace
“Moreland offers a brilliant critique of scientism and a comprehensive defense of theistic science. As valuable as this critique and defense is, I believe his book’s greatest contribution is his wake-up call to Christian leaders of how ‘scientism has forced the church to offer the gospel simply because it works rather than because it is true and can be known as such.’ Kudos to Moreland for equipping us to know through scientific evidence and philosophical reasoning that the Bible and the gospel indeed are true.”

- Hugh Ross, President, Reasons to Believe; author, The Creator and the Cosmos; Improbable Planet; and Why the Universe Is the Way It Is

To find out more about this forthcoming work, go here.

To pre-order your copy, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,