Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sy Garte: Why I Believe in the Resurrection

The blog post below was originally posted on the website on November 19th, 2019-

At Peaceful Science, we see value in lucid self-disclosures. It is our pleasure to present this confession from Sy Garte, a biologist, who explains how he came to affirm the Resurrection. Dr. Garte’s story is expanded in The Work of His Hands: A Scientist’s Journey from Atheism to Faith, released today, and this book is significant for our current moment. As an atheist biology professor, Dr. Garte encountered Jesus in a dream.
My parents were dedicated materialistic atheists. I remember thinking as a child that people of faith were lucky because they could fool themselves into believing that there was a loving God. I was well trained in rationalism, and I never thought I would ever accept anything like spirituality or faith.
But as I grew up, I began to feel that I was missing something – a sense of mystery perhaps, or the transcendental. In other words, unlike many others, I never had a religion to lose – I had a vacuum to fill. I read a little about various kinds of mysticism.  Then I became a biological scientist and embarked on a career in research, and that seemed to provide the sense of wonder that I felt had been missing in my life.
I began reading about physics, and found that some of the language of cosmology, quantum physics, and relativity didn’t sound that different from the language of mysticism. The more life experiences I gained, and the more science I learned, the more I felt that the reality of our world didn’t quite fit with the purely materialistic paradigm of strong atheism. I became convinced that there might be something….more. I gave up on my certainty that atheism was true and became an agnostic because, at the time, I had no strong reason to believe anything else.
After I rejected the atheism of my upbringing, I spent many years wondering what the truth was about the existence of God. I investigated several theistic and spiritual systems. At one point I became fascinated with Jewish mysticism; I read several books on Buddhism; I listened to friends who had delved deeply into Indian religion; I learned transcendental meditation. (I even peeked into Scientology – and fled.)
All of this convinced me that there really was something that existed beyond the material world studied by science. I called this something “spirituality.” I began thinking that maybe the idea of “God” was the immaterial manifestation of this spiritual reality. But I was also getting the sense that if that was true, God was a very distant and unknowable entity. Both the Kabballah and the sayings of the Buddha seemed to confirm this.
I found myself standing on the shores of a sea of mystery, certain that the waters hid treasures of beauty and goodness, but with no way to see them for myself.
And then, prompted by a friend, I read the Gospels. I had read some of them before in school, but only as an exercise to reinforce my atheistic scorn at the stupidity of Christianity. Back then I was focused on the magic, the contradictions, the naiveté of the ignorant who believed in scientifically impossible events like the resurrection.
When I read the Gospels the second time, my mind was open, freed of the ideological certainty of atheism. I still saw the apparent contradictions, but now they appeared as evidence for truth, the kind of differences one would expect in true eyewitness accounts (1). I still saw what looked like magic, but now it confirmed for me my new-found conviction that science is not the only pathway to truth. And now I saw the figure of Jesus Christ, and reading His words, I realized that God must have seen me standing on the shore, staring helplessly at the waves. Jesus Christ rose from those waters and held out His hand to me.
“So you want to see God?” He asked me. “Here I am.”
The above is a poetic image, but something very similar actually happened to me in a dream. In the dream, I was outside of a walled garden. I knew that in this garden there was to be found everything I had always been looking for, but there was no way I could climb over the wall to get in. I kept going around the walls, trying to climb up, falling down, and getting terribly frustrated. And then a man showed up, and said to me, “What’s wrong with you?” I explained I was trying to get into the Garden but could not scale the wall. He smiled and said, “Then why not use the door?” and pointed to a door in the wall that I hadn’t seen before. I asked what I needed to do to gain entry. He answered, “Nothing, just open the door and go in.” So I did.
I awoke knowing that Jesus Christ was real, He was the incarnation of God, and He was calling me.
Well, let’s take a deep breath. I was at the time of this dream, as I had been long before and remain today, a scientist. I know that dreams are images produced by neurophysiological and psychological impulses, and so, like all subjective experiences, they can be easily explained as materialistic phenomena. Perhaps I had that dream simply because I wanted to. That explanation was the one I had used as a young man to dismiss similar experiences. But now I rejected it, as I had rejected atheism as my worldview.
I thought of the widespread belief among scientists of the late 19th century that there wasn’t much else to learn about the physics of the universe, and the idea that the origin of life would be a simple problem of chemistry to solve. What replaced all these beliefs was not something simpler and more elegant, but theories that are far more complex and perhaps even semi-mystical. To say that dreams are just neurological impulses is like saying a Kandinsky painting is just paint, a Beethoven symphony is just sound waves, and love is just raging hormones. One could as easily say that the ideal gas law or the Schrödinger equation are just letters and symbols with an equal sign in the middle.
Which brings me back to my reading of the Gospels. The figure of Jesus was powerful and produced a sense of awe in my soul. But just as important to me were the other characters in the story. The Acts of the Apostles brought these people into sharp focus. Peter, the man who denied Christ at the end, and Paul, the archenemy of the new faith, sprang off the pages as real people. Peter was weak before he became strong; Paul was headstrong and vicious before he became virtuous.
It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that produced the transformations of these men. It was that incredible event that called out to so many people of the time. It was the event and led to the growth of a new religion with an estimated million believers within 250 years (2) – despite persecutions, the martyrdom of some of its leaders, (3) and the destruction of Jerusalem.
There was no doubt in my mind as I finished Acts that the resurrection was the central point of Christianity, that it defined who Jesus was and who we are. And I saw myself in Peter, and even more so in Paul. Not because of the great work they did after the resurrection, but because of Peter’s weakness and Paul’s intransigence. And as I finally came to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior (the detailed story is told in my book The Works of His Hands: A Scientist’s Journey from Atheism to Faith, Kregel Publications), I saw that I and all of suffering humanity are perfectly reflected in the transformed lives of these apostles.
But how can a scientist believe in a miracle like the resurrection? I rejected scientism a long time ago, so I had no problem understanding that science has limits, and that miracles, by definition, are not addressable by science.
I have always been enamored of history, and everything I have read about the history of early Christianity confirms my subjective belief in the reality of Christ’s resurrection and divinity. The detailed historical case for the truth of the resurrection has been presented by many, on both academic (4,5) and popular (6,7) levels, and I can only add that I found it convincing from the time I understood the historical reality of the first century.
I believe in the resurrection of Christ because I believe in God, and in Jesus Christ as the incarnation of God on earth, and I believe in the redemption of human beings like Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, myself, and you. If there had been no resurrection, there would have been no Christianity, and history would have been entirely different. The moment (a moment described in my book) that I finally realized I was a Christian and dedicated my life to following Jesus, that lifelong sense of emptiness was filled with a brilliant and enlightening new understanding. As C.S. Lewis so famously said,
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.”

God Bless,

Monday, December 16, 2019

Five Reasons You Can Trust the Story of Christmas is True by J. Warner Wallace

In this Free Bible Insert J. Warner Wallace shares 5 reasons why you can trust the story of Christmas is true.  They are as follows:

1. The Supernatural Nature of the Virgin Conception Shouldn't Disqualify It

2. The Claim of the Virgin Conception Appears Incredibly Early in Christian History

3. The Birth Narratives in Luke and Matthew are Not Late Additions

4. The Virgin Conception Was Not an Invention of Early Christians

5. The Virgin Conception Wasn't Borrowed from Another Source

He briefly unpacks each reason here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Collection of Responses to Richard Dawkins' Latest Book, "Outgrowing God: A Beginner's Guide to Atheism"

It has been quite awhile since I have taken Richard Dawkins serious as a thinker.  Frankly, Dawkins is a sloppy thinker who only succeeds in dumbing down the question of God's existence.  As I have noted here, there are numerous reasons why his views on ethics, philosophy and theology are sophomoric at best, and morally deplorable at worst.  However, his influence among internet atheists cannot be denied.  Although I confess I don't understand why.  It seems to me that "Darwin's Pitbull," has become nothing more than a yapping Chihuahua.  But, for those who are still (for some unknown reason) influenced by this once great thinker, here are some responses  to his new book for your consideration.

Outgrowing Atheism: it's time for Richard Dawkins to grow up by David Robertson

If Richard Dawkins loves facts so much, why can’t he get them right? by Damian Thompson

More of Dawkins’ same old tired rhetoric by Matthew Cserhati

How Dawkins’ Outgrowing God Capitalizes on Our Culture’s Inability to Think Critically by Hillary Morgan Ferrer

Monday, November 25, 2019

Apologetics in the New Testament

Christian scholar Robert Bowman has compiled a list of 15 of the 27 books of the New Testament that were written for apologetic purposes!  The list is as follows:

Matthew- Answer Jewish criticisms that Jesus abrogated the Torah

Mark- Explain why Jesus died if he was the mighty Son of God

Luke- Acts show that Christianity was not an illegal or superstitious religion

Gospel of John- Persuade people that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God

Romans- Defend the gospel against the claim that it was contrary to Scripture

1 Corinthians- Refute claims that the gospel was not philosophically reasonable

Galatians- Refute the errors of those who said Gentiles needed to be circumcised

Colossians- Refute the belief that Christ was just one of many divine powers

Hebrews- Defend the gospel’s superiority to the Mosaic covenant

1 Peter- Preparing to live by the gospel and to defend it when challenged

2 Peter- Remembering what Christ and the apostles taught when unbelievers scoff

1 John- Refute those who taught that Jesus only seemed to be human

Jude- Urge Christians to defend the gospel against those distorting it

Revelation- Assure persecuted Christians that Christ will conquer evil and death

This is a great list to have on hand when someone claims that apologetics is not necessary!

A special thank you to Mr. Bowman for allowing me to publish this list!

Courage and Godspeed,

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Jesus for Skeptics

The radio program, Haven Today, recently aired a 5 part series with prize-winning journalist John S. Dickerson entitled Jesus for Skeptics.  You can listen here.

Below is a summary of each part-
Part 1: Did Jesus truly exist? And if so, was his impact on the world good or evil? There are many skeptics today, but thankfully there are ways to answer them.
Part 2: Jesus must either be a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord Almighty. Which one do you believe He is? And if you are skeptical, could you be wrong?
Part 3: What’s the difference between healthy or unhealthy skepticism? One way to tell is to see where your questions lead you―whether that’s to the Lord or to answers you already think you know.
Part 4: Whether or not you believe Jesus is the Son of God, you can’t deny His influence on the way you think and act. For the past 2,000 years, His teachings have led people to shape the world we live in.
Part 5: Does Christianity benefit society? Skeptics usually focus on the bad things done in Jesus’ name, but did you know that faith in Christ drove many of the greatest humanitarian achievements of all time?
God Bless,

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Video Debate: Mike Licona vs. Richard Howe- What Does It Mean to Say the Bible is Inerrant?

In this featured video, Mike Licona and Richard Howe discuss what it means to say the Bible is inerrant.

This dialogue/debate occurred at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, NC on October 11, 2019.

The Christian Post reports on the debate here.

Mike Licona has written a book directed related to the topic called Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography.

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, September 27, 2019

Relying on Faith

I (the Other Chad), while a long time Truthbomb member, have not been a regular blogger on our website.  At most, I have posted material on a bi-weekly basis.  For most of this summer, I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from blogging.  While summer tends to lead to family vacations, modified schedules, and a different pace of life, for me it arrived with the passing of my dad.
Dad passed away on June 21st, 2019, at the age of 67.  While his health wasn't the greatest and his heart only functioning at half of what it should be, it was still a shock when I learned that he had passed.  At age 42, I am now without both of my parents, as my mom already left this world over 15 years ago.

I must admit it is a very strange experience being without both parents.  The links to our previous generations of families feels somewhat broken.  All that is left are pictures, possessions, and memories of a previous life.  At times, there are feelings of wandering, almost like in a desert, unclear of what direction to take.

This life experience, while difficult, has also been an opportunity for me to rely on faith.  Specifically, faith in the existence of God and the hope found only in the good news delivered by His Son, Jesus Christ.

The reality of pain, suffering, and death has always been the one obstacle that has presented challenges to my faith.  The same goes for many others who have walked this earth and faced various traumatic events related to war, disease, human bondage, natural disasters, or any other type of event, leaving them to question whether there really is a God who would allow such things.

Over the summer, I learned of the struggles of those who at one point proclaimed to be Christians- Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson.  One sold millions of books while the other was an integral part of the popular group Hillsong.  I was saddened as I read about their struggles.  But at the same time, their reasoning for abandoning or losing their faith seem to be related to being overcome by emotional doubts and objections. William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris discussed their take on recent Reasonable Faith podcasts which can be found here.

What I have found in my own personal journey is that I can rely on the things that I have learned and experienced as a follower of Jesus Christ.  Also, moments like my dad's passing are actually opportunities to share the Christian Faith and how it actually provides hope when hope seems lost.
I was recently pointed to a devotional by John Piper entitled "Five Purposes for Suffering."  I found this very helpful and encouraging.  Piper uses five "R's" to help us remember the "macro" reasons for God's allowing us to experience suffering-

  • Repentance
  • Reliance
  • Righteousness
  • Reward
  • Reminder

I can certainly relate to these points and it has helped me to be "reminded" that while there is constant pain and suffering in the world in which we live, there is a greater hope that lies ahead and is attainable to all who choose to believe it and accept it.  It was an honor for me to share this message at my dad's service, where I am hopeful that it resonated with both believers and non-believers alike.
While the season I'm currently living through hasn't yet come to an end, I felt the need to write down my thoughts and experiences not only for personal healing, but to encourage others as well who may be in a similar season of life.

God Bless,

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book Preview- So the Next Generation Will Know by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace

About the Authors

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, co-author, or editor of more than 18 books including Is God Just a Human Invention? and Evidence that Demands a Verdict (with his father, Josh McDowell).  He is an associate professor of apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.  Sean speaks internationally on a variety of topics related to culture, students, and apologetics.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, speaker, and author. He is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries.  J. Warner and Susie Wallace also write popular apologetics books for kids and created the award-winning Case Makers Academy.

Book Description
As Gen Z leaves the church in record numbers, the adults in their lives feel at a loss to stop the trend. Yet there are research-based and proven strategies that help young people both own their faith and effectively engage the world around them.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D., and Detective J. Warner Wallace have written and taught extensively on the subjects of culture, worldview, and apologetics.  In So the Next Generation Will Know, McDowell and Wallace provide strategies and practical tactics from their own personal experiences to help parents, youth leaders, and Christian teachers train the next generation with the truth of the Christian worldview.

Each chapter of So the Next Generation Will Know features information that speaks directly to the various adults in a student’s life; interviews with pastors, apologists, teachers, and cultural experts; and examples of people and ministries who are effectively teaching truth to the next generation.  With the right training, the young people you work with don’t have to be another statistic.

You can download a sample of the book here.

Purchase your own copy here.

There is also a participants guide available for purchase here and a video series that goes with the book here.

Finally, to learn more about the book, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Video: Why Should I Believe God Exists? Clemson University 2019 by Dr. William Lane Craig

This lecture was given by philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig in January of 2018.  Dr. Craig was asked to speak on some of the best arguments for the existence of God.  For those familiar with the Reasonable Faith animated videos, he uses many of them in his presentation.


Courage and Godspeed,

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Video: True for You but Not for Me by Paul Copan

Can something be true for you and not true for me?  In other words, is the truth relative or is the truth objective?  How you answer this question shapes the way you look at the world.

In this new video, from PragerU, theologian and philosophy professor Paul Copan provides an excellent road map through this tricky and vitally important issue.

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, August 02, 2019

Answer Like Jesus by Alan Shlemon

Precise communication is an important part of being a follower of Christ.  After all, we are called to communicate a message.  If we cannot communicate clearly, we will be at a disadvantage when trying to share the gospel with others.

In this short featured article, Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason challenges Christians to learn from Jesus regarding how to answer tough questions.  He writes:

"For someone with all the answers, Jesus didn’t always respond directly to challenging questions. Sometimes He answered a question with another question. Sometimes He answered a different question. On occasion, He didn’t give any answer.

Not much has changed since Jesus’ day. Challenges still abound. Today, His followers face a myriad of tough questions. Our views are not popular and, in fact, are often hated. If we answer a pointed question biblically, it often makes people upset. Perhaps we can take a cue from Jesus. Given that He’s the smartest person in history, why don’t we learn to answer tough questions like He did?"

Do you want to learn how to answer tough questions like Jesus?  Then check out Shlemon's brief article here.

To learn more about Alan Shlemon and his ministry, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

How Does the Bible Relate to Judaism?

The article below was written by Larry R. Helyer.  It was taken from The Apologetics Study Bible, Digital Edition based on The Apologetics Study Bible Copyright © 2007 by Holman Bible Publishers. 

Judaism should not be confused with the biblical religion of ancient Israel. Early Judaism arose in the aftermath of the destruction of the first temple (586 b.c.). The term Judaism originally appeared in the first century b.c. (2 Macc 2: 21; 8: 1; 14: 38) to describe the beliefs, customs, and rituals of Jews during the Hellenistic (Greek-influenced) era. Judaism has developed considerably over the intervening centuries. For example, official Judaism has been a nonsacrificial religion since the destruction of the second temple (a.d. 70). Observance of the mitzvoth (the commandments) replaces sacrifice, atoning for sin (Tob 4: 6-7,9-11; 12: 9-10). Judaism's roots, however, are deep in the OT. The fundamental ideas of modern Judaism, in all its diversity, maintain continuity with the biblical revelation at Mount Sinai. These ideas include ethical monotheism (belief in one God), God's gift of Torah (" instruction") to Israel, and the choice of Israel as a light to the nations. A striving for peace, justice, and righteousness for all peoples derives from the Prophets, and a spirituality grounded in everyday life stems from the wisdom and hymnic literature of the OT. The Torah outlines a way of life for the people of Israel and is nearly synonymous with Judaism. Embedded in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are 613 commandments. After the exile in the sixth century b.c., these 613 commandments were adapted, augmented, and hedged by other laws that became part of an ever-growing oral law (cp. Mk 7: 5; Gl 1: 14). In time the oral law was also attributed to Moses. Eventually (c. a.d. 500), the oral law was codified in the Mishnah (" repetition"). This in turn was commented on and augmented in the Gemara (" completion"). Finally, the Mishnah and Gemara were published in two massive works, the Palestinian Talmud (c. a.d. 400) and the Babylonian Talmud (c. a.d. 500). (Talmud means "learning" or "instruction.") For Orthodox Jews, the Babylonian Talmud, at some 2.5 million words, remains the authoritative guide for Judaism. The foundation of Talmud, however, remains the Torah of "Moses our Rabbi." Modern liberal Jews reject the belief that the Pentateuch was divinely inspired and written by Moses. While not treating it as an infallible guide for faith and practice, they nonetheless acknowledge its historical and symbolic role in providing Jewish self-identity. Modern Judaism maintains continuity with the OT in a number of significant ways. The annual festivals are primarily those prescribed in the Pentateuch. The essential ethical teachings of Judaism derive from the Mosaic Law, especially the Ten Commandments. Circumcision, dietary laws, and ritual immersion have their roots in the Pentateuch. The Prophets are appealed to for their emphasis upon social justice and mercy. Throughout the year, in synagogues, the Torah (Pentateuch) and haphtarah (selections from the Prophets) are read in a lectionary cycle. Most Orthodox Jews still anticipate a personal Messiah and a messianic age based upon the Prophets. For Israeli Jews, the Hebrew Bible (OT) is a national treasure avidly studied in both religious and secular schools. The modern Zionist movement appeals to the Bible as part of its cultural heritage. Archaeology and historical geography of the Bible are national pastimes in Israel. Increasingly, Jewish scholars are also studying the NT as a valuable source for understanding the development of early Judaism. A key issue distinguishing Christianity from Judaism (though both have the OT in common) has to do with fulfillment. Jesus taught His disciples to read the Scriptures christologically, or in terms of how they relate to Him, since the Scriptures speak of Him and His work (Mt 5: 17-18; Lk 24: 25-27,44-49; Jn 5: 39). Judaism denies that Jesus fulfills the messianic prophecies of the OT. For example, Jewish scholars interpret the so-called Servant Songs of Isaiah (42: 1-4; 49: 1-6; 50: 4-11; 52: 13–53: 12) as referring to the prophet himself, to an unknown prophet, or (most likely) to the people of Israel viewed collectively as the Servant of the Lord. Traditional Christianity, of course, sees these passages as prophecies of Jesus and His ministry (Ac 8: 26-35). Orthodox Jews, who still harbor hopes of a personal Messiah, await a Davidic descendant who will rule as king at the end times. Liberal Jews prefer to interpret these passages metaphorically as referring to an ideal age. Thus a major factor in the parting of ways between Judaism and Christianity centers on the meaning and mission of Jesus. For Judaism, there is no human failing, whether collective or individual, that requires special divine intervention and that cannot be remedied with the guidance of Torah. Salvation consists of faithful, though not perfect, adherence to the mitzvoth. God in His mercy forgives those whose intentions are upright. The NT, however, unambiguously proclaims the finality of Jesus Christ. He is God's last word to sinners (Heb 1: 1-3), the Word who became flesh, dwelt among us, and reveals the Father to sinners (Jn 1: 1-18). By His atoning death on the cross, He draws all people unto Himself (Jn 3: 16; 6: 35-40; 12: 32)."

God Bless,

Friday, July 19, 2019

Article: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality by William Lane Craig

I believe that philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig is absolutely right when he writes:

One of the most volatile and important issues facing the Church today is the question of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. The Church cannot duck this question.

In this featured article, Craig defends the following argument:

(1) We are all obligated to do God’s will.

(2) God’s will is expressed in the Bible.

(3) The Bible forbids homosexual behavior.

(4) Therefore, homosexual behavior is against God’s will, or is wrong.

I encourage our readers to consider Dr. Craig's argument before denouncing it.  

You can find the entire article here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Video Documentary- The Case for Christian Theism: The Reasonable Faith UK Tour

Text taken from here:

In 2011, Dr. William Lane Craig, the founder and president of Reasonable Faith, participated in a series of lectures and debates from London to Birmingham. This documentary contains never-before-seen interviews with attendees and participants who share their perspective on each event while also focusing on the arguments for the existence of God throughout the tour.


Courage and Godspeed,