Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Richard Dawkins' Strange Objection to Fine-Tuning

 

 

    My wife recently planted a garden. She had not done so in many years so she had to till the ground before she could plant her vegetables. As a result, I came home from work one day to find the ground freshly tilled. Imagine if I would have looked at my wife after observing the ground and said, “Well, why bother? You still don’t have a garden!” Surely, she would have thought my comment strange because the tiller isn’t meant to plant a garden by itself. It is meant to prepare the soil so one can plant seed in it. Or, in other words, the tiller lays the foundation the gardener builds upon.

    This is precisely how the classical apologist wields the fine-tuning argument in a cumulative case for the Christian faith. The fine-tuning isn’t meant to do all the work, but in offering an argument for God’s existence, a foundation is laid that the Christian can build upon. This is why I found Richard Dawkins’ objection to the fine-tuning argument during his recent appearance on Unbelievable? so strange.

     Dawkins appeared opposite Francis Collins to discuss all things science, faith and Covid-19. The conversation was cordial, informative and enjoyable. Dawkins seems to have mellowed with age1 and was even winsome at times. But during their discussion of the fine-tuning argument for God’s existence, Dawkins made the point that while he found the argument worthy of consideration, he seemed to somewhat discount it because it “does not get one to Jesus Christ.” Needless to say, Christians thinkers of every stripe would fully agree with him! I am not aware of any Christian who argues as follows:

1. God (or design) is the best explanation of the cosmic fine-tuning.
2. Therefore, Jesus is Lord!

Obviously, as Collins pointed out, more work needs to be done to reach that conclusion. But like the tiller prepares the foundation of the garden, the fine-tuning argument provides part of the foundation a Christian can build upon to make a cumulative case for the faith. I have attempted to do something like this here.

    So, Professor Dawkins is quite right. The fine-tuning argument does not get one to Jesus Christ2 by itself. But it can be a powerful tool to aid the Christian thinker in making a cumulative case for the faith.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. Or perhaps I have!
2. Although it seems worth noting that theologians such as Douglas Moo make the scriptural argument (Colossians 1:17) that it is the resurrected Jesus that is responsible for holding the universe together (which would include the finely-tuned constants and quantities).  He writes:

"What holds the universe together is not an idea or a virtue [as in Platonic and Stoic philosophy], but a person: the resurrected Christ.  Without him, electrons would not continue to circle nuclei, gravity would cease to work, the planets would not stay in their obits."

Douglas Moo, "The Letter to the Colossians and Philemon," [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 125-126. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day: Heroes Remembered...


We at Truthbomb Apologetics just wanted to offer a sincere thank you to those men and women who have served, or are serving, in our armed forces.

In a society that so often elevates and glorifies so-called "celebrities," we are grateful for the lives that have been sacrificed and the time that has been willingly given by you, the real heroes.

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

-Joseph Campbell


We thank you...

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Friday, May 27, 2022

Historian Philip Schaff on Jesus of Nazareth

"This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Muhammad, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on matters human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times."1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnote:
1. As quoted by Frank and Zach Turek in Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God, p. 218. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2022

If All Christians have the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ, Why Do They Disagree with One Another?



As I was reading through the late John Stott's book Basic Christian Leadership, he addressed the above question in what I think is a fair and thoughtful manner.

His first point was that Christians "actually agree with one another a great deal more than we disagree..."1 and I could not agree more.  While I freely concede that there are many issues Christians disagree on,2 it has been my personal experience that we are united on the core issues that make one a Christian.  Those like atheist Matt Dillahunty who want to make much of so-called "inconsistent revelations," would do well to keep this in mind.

Stott continues by arguing that Christians would actually disagree with one another much less if they fulfilled the following five conditions.

1. We must accept the supreme authority of Scripture.

The big and painful Christian divisions are between so-called reformed and unreformed churches, that is, between those churches which are determined to submit to Scripture and those which are unwilling to do so or which elevate traditions and opinions to the same level as Scripture.  Among churches that do submit to the supremacy of Scripture we are perhaps 90 percent agreed.

2. We must remember that the chief purpose of Scripture is to bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners.

In the central truths concerning Christ and salvation, Scripture is plain or "perspicuous."  It is in the realm of the adiaphora, matters indifferent because of secondary importance, that we must give one another liberty of belief.

3. We must develop sound principles of biblical interpretation. 

It is often said that "you can make the Bible teach anything you like."  I reply, "Yes, you are right, you can make the Bible teach anything, but only if you are unscrupulous enough."  If we apply proper principles of interpretation to Scripture, we find that far from our manipulating it, it controls us.  In particular, we must learn to look for the natural sense (whether literal or figurative), the original sense (as the author intended and his readers would have understood him) and the general sense (in harmony with the rest).

4. We must study Scripture together.

The church is the hermeneutical community, in which God means his Word to be received and interpreted.  We can help one another to understand it, especially if we reflect on it cross-culturally.  This is what Paul meant when he prayed that we might be able "with all the saints" to grasp the full dimensions of God's love (Eph 3:18).  We could never do this alone.  We need one another. 

5. We must come to the biblical text with humble, open, receptive spirits.

We must be ready for God to break through our cultural defenses, to challenge and to change us.  If we come to Scripture with our minds made up and closed, we will never hear the thunderclap of his Word.  All we will hear is what we want to hear, the soothing echoes of our own cultural prejudice.

The spiritual discernment the Holy Spirit promises to the students of Scripture is not given in defiance of these five conditions; it rather presupposes them.3

Many unbelievers point to the problem of religious disagreement to argue against the validity of Christianity.  I think Stott is right when he points out that Christians agree on more than they disagree on; however, perhaps if we started implementing these 5 conditions he offers, we could disagree even less.  And give our atheist friends a bit less to complain about!4

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. John Stott, Basic Christian Leadership, p. 71.
2. Here, I am thinking of doctrinal differences such as how to baptize, whether or not one can lose their salvation, etc.  
3. Ibid, p. 71-72.
4. This is just meant in jest.  For my atheist readers, please don't take this personally!  It is all in good fun!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Debate Video: Richard Dawkins & Francis Collins: Biology, Belief and Covid


When I heard that Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins were joining Unbelievable? host Justin Brierley host to discuss biology, belief and Covid, I wasn't sure what to expect.  But I found their discussion very interesting.

Philosopher Peter S. Williams has written his thoughts about the discussion here.

In the near future, I will be sharing my thoughts about a strange objection Dawkins offered to the fine-tuning argument

What did you think of their discussion?  Sound off in the comments below!

Courage and Godspeed,


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Four Reasons the New Testament Gospels are Reliable by J. Warner Wallace

 

In this handy resource, J. Warner Wallace offers four reasons why we can be confident that the New Testament Gospels are reliable.  They include:

1. They Were Written Early
2. They Are Corroborated
3. They Haven't Change Over Time
4. They Are Not Biased 

You can learn more here or by getting Jim's excellent book, Cold-Case Christianity.  Our review is here.

Many thanks to Brian Auten for sharing this with me! 

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, May 16, 2022

Book Preview: A Rebel's Manifesto by Sean McDowell


 About the Author

Sean McDowell is an associate professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University.  He is the bestselling author, editor, or coauthor of more than twenty books.  He speaks internationally on issues related to culture, apologetics, and Gen Z.  He is the cohost of the Think Biblically podcast and has a popular YouTube channel.  Sean and his wife Stephanie have two children and make their home in California. 

About the Book

Following Jesus has never been harder. In a culture that glamorizes sex, chases fame, and shames those who don’t fall in line, it takes a rebel to be a Christian.

In this book, Sean McDowell aims to encourage and inspire a generation of rebels who will dare to stand up to the madness in a just and loving manner.

A Rebel’s Manifesto offers clear guidance to help people navigate the many moral issues that plague this generation. Students today are oriented toward action on ethical issues, and Sean will not only help them think biblically about various ethical issues, but he will also offer practical steps to make a positive difference in this world. In this book, Sean covers

- navigating bullying and social media;
- handling loneliness, pornography, and sex;
- approaching various conversations around climate change, race, and other controversial issues; and
- articulating and defending biblical views at school, online, and with friends.

Life doesn’t need to devolve into an online shouting match. Sean proposes a better way: to live a life calmly and confidently grounded in biblical truth.

Notable Recommendations

“Sean has a gift for taking tough concepts and bringing them down to earth in practical ways that make a difference.”

- William Lane Craig, Ph.D.

"More than ever in our emerging culture, we need to be able to discern and understand the times through a biblical lens.  Sean is someone who has that rare gift to understand today's culture and to reach both the hearts and minds of today's youth."

- Dan Kimball 

You can pre-order your copy here.  Our review is forthcoming!

To learn more about Sean and his excellent work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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