Friday, October 15, 2021

William Lane Craig Answers a Popular Atheist Rejoinder


In his latest "Question of Week," response, philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig was asked to how he would respond to a popular atheist claim.  The claim is as follows:

"I don't know what it would take to convince me that God exists. But if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence (and He should also be capable of accomplishing this task). And the fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)."1

I myself have heard the popular atheist Matt Dillahunty make similar statements.2

Dr. Craig's response was as follows:

"Notice that the objector assumes that God has middle knowledge: 'if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence.' But then the objection is undone by such knowledge: for in that case God may have known that no matter what evidence He provided, the hardened heart of the excuse-maker would have resisted it and failed to come to love and serve God. Recall that God isn’t interested in merely convincing people to add another item (God) to their ontological inventory. Rather He wants each person to come into a love relationship of worshiping and knowing God. Even if He supplied coercive evidence of His existence, that is no guarantee that the excuse-maker would freely come to love and worship the being whose existence he has been forced to acknowledge. Hence, God is under no obligation to provide greater evidence that He has, since He knew that it wouldn’t do any good.

The conclusion of the objection 'The fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)' is a non-sequitur. For another explanation is that God knew that providing more evidence wouldn’t do any good. Yet another explanation, however, is that God will provide such evidence to our buck-passing friend in the future once his heart has softened and is more open to God’s overtures. Either way the blame, for now, falls on the unbeliever himself, not on God."3

What do you think of WLC's response?  How would you answer this popular atheist response?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Christianity, Science and Galileo

The story of Galileo and the Catholic Church is often used to suggest that the Christian church has historically been against the advancement of science.  However, as J. Warner Wallace argues in his newest book Person of Interest, there is more to the story:

"Galileo (an Italian astronomer who lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth century) was correct in his description of the solar system, but the Catholic Church at the time held to a geocentric view of the sun and planets (with the earth at its center).  Galileo was investigated as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which rejected heliocentrism as contradictory to the Holy Scripture.  Galileo was convicted and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

This historic episode...seemed to solidify-at least for me-a long-standing Christian tradition of science denial.  It seemed to start early, and it appeared to continue today.  

But the truth about Galileo and Pope Urban VIII (the man who opposed Galileo's theory) is much more nuanced than I was originally led to believe.  The pope was a fan of Galileo many years earlier (when Urban was known as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini) and even defended Galileo on one occasion on an unrelated scientific proposal.

But by the time Galileo published his findings on the heliocentric planetary model, Barberini was Pope Urban VIII.  He interviewed Galileo several times after ascending to the position and gave him permission to write about the Copernican heliocentric theory if he treated it as a hypothesis.  But Galileo eventually published his treatise as more than that, and to make matters worse, he included a mocking conversation between characters representing an astronomer and the pope.  Galileo's portrayal of the pope's character (named 'Simplico,' or 'Simpleton' in English) was...less than flattering.  Urban VIII was not pleased, and Galileo found himself judged as much for his delivery as his content.  By comparison, years earlier, Tycho Brache and Copernicus also proposed heliocentric systems of their own, but neither suffered the same fate as the obstinate and evocative Galileo. 

Any apparent conflict between Roman Catholic leadership and Galileo, therefore, does littler to prove that Christianity was (or is) hostile to science.  It proves only that these two men had a complex relationship and that the timing of history did not happen to favor Galileo's proposal."1

Wallace goes on to point out that Galileo himself never saw his Christian faith to be at odds with science:

"He saw no contradiction between his beliefs as a Catholic and his findings as a scientist.  Galileo once quoted Cardinal Caesar Baronius, agreeing 'that the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.'  Galileo believed the Bible had much to say about the nature of the real world, even tough it was not intended to provide an exhaustive description of the universe.  He was therefore content to live out his life as both a Jesus follower and a scientist: 'Whatever the course of our lives, we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.'"2

So, it seems that if Wallace is right, the Galileo story fails to provide an example of the Christian faith denying science.  

What do you think of Wallace's explanation?  Sound off in the comments below!

You can learn more about Wallace's new book here.

Checkout our podcast with Wallace here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. J. Warner Wallace, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible, p. 195; 197.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Video - The Chick-fil-A Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus

Erik Manning of Testify has recently released this creative video.  Please enjoy it and I encourage you to subscribe to Manning's YouTube Channel Testify here.  


Courage and Godspeed,

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Do the Gospels Contain Legendary Embellishments?


In Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, author Andrew Loke offers 4 reasons why he believes skeptics who claim that the later accounts in the Gospels (e.g. the young man at the tomb in Mark becomes an angel accompanied by earthquakes in Matthew) contain legendary embellishments are in error.  

He writes:

"First, the amount of details does not seem to follow a consistent pattern when we compare the later accounts with the earlier ones.  For example, following the argument for embellishment, one might expect a larger number of eyewitnesses and resurrection appearances in the later accounts compared to the earlier ones, but the opposite is the case: Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the earliest, contains the greatest number of eyewitnesses ('more than five hundred brethren') and the largest number of appearances.  It is more likely that the authors took into consideration the needs of the audiences when they decided the amount of details to include.  Second, some of the details can be understood as clarification rather than embellishments.  For example, the inference that the 'young man' in Mark 16:5-7 is an angel can be justified by the context, which describes him as dressed in white and conveying divine revelation.  He does not simply report what he found, but gives it an authoritative explanation and goes on to convey a message from Jesus himself, recapitulating what he had said privately to the Twelve in Mark 14:28, and conveying not comment but command (France 2002, pp. 675-679; compare the use of 'young man' for angel in Tob. 4:5-10, 2 Macc. 3:26, 33, etc., see Gundry 1993, p. 990).  Thus, the latter account in Matthew can be understood not as an embellishment but a clarification; in other words, Matthew merely makes the identification of the young man as an angel more explicit.  Third, the inclusion of more details does not have to be regarded as embellishment, rather, it 'could simply be a matter of a later writer adding new and truthful traditions that were known to his own community, purposely filling in the gaps' (Habermas 2013, p. 477).

Concerning the apparent lack of agreement, Wright notes that first-century writers who intended to tell others what actually happened took for granted that they were not obligated to mention every event or every detail of an event.  (Wright (2003, pp. 648-649) observes, for example, 

'when Josephus tells the story of his own participation in the various actions that started the Jewish-Roman war in AD 66, the story he tells in his Jewish War and the parallel story he tells in the Life do not always correspond in detail.' 

Many of the differences between the Gospels can be explained by literary devices which were also employed by other ancient historians, such as Plutarch (c. AD 45-120) (Licona 2016).  In several biographies Plutarch frequently covers the same ground, thus creating a number of parallels and editing his materials in ways similar to the writers of the New Testament Gospels, compresses stories, sometimes conflates them, inverts the order of events, simplifies, and relocates stories or sayings (Evans, in Licona 2016, p. x).  When it comes to the editing and paraphrasing of the words of Jesus, the authors of the Gospels were far more conservative than the compositional practice of Jewish Scriptures (ibid.).  Indeed, a comparison of the paralleled periscope of Jesus' aphorisms and parables shows a high degree of stability and reliability of transmission (McIver 2011)."1

So, if Loke is right, these are at least 4 plausible explanations for some of the differences we see in the later accounts in the Gospels.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Andrew Loke, Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, Kindle. 

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Book Preview: Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace

About the Author

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline-featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker, and bestselling author. His is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University). Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, Wallace provides the tools needed to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview.

About the Book

Detective J. Warner Wallace listened to a pastor talk about Jesus and wondered why anyone would think Jesus was a person of interest.
Wallace was skeptical of the Bible, but he’d investigated several “no-body, missing person” cases in which there was no crime scene, no physical evidence, and no victim's body. Could the historical life and actions of Jesus be investigated in the same way?

In Person of Interest, Wallace describes his own personal investigative journey from atheism to Christianity, as he carefully sifts through the evidence from history alone without relying on the New Testament manuscripts.

Creative, compelling, and fully illustrated, Person of Interest will strengthen the faith of believers, while engaging those who are skeptical and distrusting of the New Testament.

Notable Recommendations 

“Every so often a novel approach to Christian apologetics comes along.  I am more than pleased to endorse Person of Interest.  What a boost to the field of Christian evidences!”

- Gary Habermas, author of The Historical Jesus

"I could hardly put the book down.  With a panoramic perspective, if offers a fascinating journey into some lines of evidence most of us haven't even considered!"

- Craig S. Keener,  author of The Historical Jesus of the Gospels

"Person of Interest is a brilliant book, I've been studying the historical Jesus for decades, and Detective Wallace made some fresh insights I have not thought of before.  I could not recommend this book more highly."

- Sean McDowell, author of The Fate of the Apostles 

To order your copy of Wallace's latest book, go here.  You can find out more about Person of Interest here

To learn more about Detective Wallace and his work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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