Hear Atheists Themselves on Evil and Absolutes [UPDATED!]

I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:

  • Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
  • Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).

My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):

“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”

(pp. 7-9 of  Roman-Epicurean-ism-Natural-Law-and-Homosexuality)

Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:

Richard Dawkins

(h/t: TrueFreeThinker) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:

Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.

That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Adolf Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Adolf Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.

[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,

  • “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”

Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007 (copyright; 2007-2008)

Lewis Wolpert

From the video description:

Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.

Dan Barker

This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:

The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:

During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!

He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.

To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!

:::shudders:::

Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!

Atheist dogma™ not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma™ as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.

Any believer in atheist dogma™, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.

Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:

William Provine

Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.

The Dalai Lama Borrows from Christianity To Support Buddhism

(Jump to comparison of manuscripts)

I want to suggest that the Lama’s use of “love” and “compassion” are not found in Buddhism, but used in the Judeo-Christian sense (borrowed in other words) because Eastern metaphysics lack such thought. The Dalai Lama may do this out of ignorance of his own belief, or out of wanting to pull on Western heart strings of compassion (honed itself by the Judeo-Christian ethic), which is often followed by monetary support. Here is a discussion I had with a Buddhist apologist about such thinking, it is taken from my chapter, Reincarnation vs. Laws of Logic:


My initial engagement:

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or bad truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

They Call Him James Ure, responds:

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

I respond:

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

 “All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him. (Diamond Sutra, Sura 14)

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

My Final Response:

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:

 Here’s another way to see the same thing. It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?[1]

Another author put it thusly, “if pantheism is true (and my individuality an illusion), it is false, since there is no basis by which to explain the illusion.”[2]  The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”[3]


[1] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[2] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 210.

[3] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.


“One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

One of my very favorite quotes deals with the founders of the great religions and the consistency found in these founders:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshiped, even with multitudinous idols. All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.

An example of a self-refuting/incoherent worldview that deals a bit with Eastern philosophy/religion comes from A Handbook for Christian Philosophy, by L. Russ Bush. After giving a basic definition of what a worldview is,[1] Dr. Bush goes on to explain how differing worldviews can interpret reality and then he applies some first principles to the matter:

…most people assume that something exists. There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be? How could he or she make such an affirmation? Sometimes in studying the history of philosophy, one may come to the conclusion that some of the viewpoints expressed actually lead to that conclusion, but no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists. It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince. Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense. So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[2]


[1] “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to one’s thoughts. A worldview is the set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[2] Ibid.

I will say here that Buddhism and Christianity agree that the proper relation in a marriage situation is a male and female. But many “Western “adherants” to Buddhism do not know what they are saying when statements are made about Buddhism being “such-and-such.” Two short videos are perfect for setting up an excerpt from my book:

So here is a portion of my chapter dealing with Eastern Thought:

Pantheism

Now that we have defined what the Law of Noncontradiction is, lets apply it to some basic Eastern thinking.  All Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers (etc), are pantheists.  The term Pantheist “designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine.”  Most pantheists (Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, etc.) would hold that physical reality, and all the evils it produces, is merely an illusion.  This holds true for the personality of man as well.  This distinction explains why, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, the personality is seen as an “enemy” and is finally destroyed by absorption into Brahmin or Nirvana. Not only is the material creation absorbed, but human existence are either an illusion, as in Hinduism (maya), or so empty and impermanent, as in Buddhism (sunyata), that they are ultimately meaningless.

But is an impersonal “immortality” truly meaningful when it extinguishes our personal existence forever? Is it even desirable? As Sri Lanken Ajith Fernando, who has spoken to hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus, illustrates:

“When I asked a girl who converted from Buddhism to Christianity through our ministry what attracted her to Christianity, the first thing she told [me] was, ‘I did not want Nirvana.’ The prospect of having all her desires snuffed out after a long and dreary climb [toward ‘liberation’] was not attractive to her.”

In the end, man himself is a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment and must be “destroyed” to find so called “liberation.” As Dr. Frits Staal comments in an article entitled, “Indian Concepts of the Body,” “Whatever the alleged differences between Hindu and Buddhist doctrines, one conclusion follows from the preceding analysis. No features of the individual[‘s] personality survive death in either state”

With the above in mind, take note of a major problem that faces the pantheist visa viz, “that there is no reality except the all-encompassing ‘God’.”  Using the Law of Noncontradiction we can see that this is a nonsensical statement that is logically self-refuting.  If everything is illusion, then those making that statement are themselves illusions.  There’s a real problem here.  As Norman Geisler pointed out, “One must exist in order to affirm that he does not exist.”  When we claim that there is no reality except the all-encompassing God, we are proving just the opposite.  The fact that we exist to make the claim demonstrates that there is a reality distinct from God, which makes this key doctrine of pantheism a self-defeating proposition.  It is an untruth – by definition.

Reincarnation

Another belief that is accepted by all Eastern philosophies as well as the New Age movement is that of reincarnation.  I will explain the concept with some examples, after I define the term.  Reincarnation is a “belief in the successive rebirth of souls into new bodies, as the soul progresses toward perfection.”

Some examples of this “karmic law” are warranted: first, lets assume I beat and abused my wife horribly, treated her like the dirt on my shoes, I would be storing up some pretty bad karma.  When I come around for my next human life, after, of course, traveling through the insect, and animal lives, I would come back as the woman being beat.  This is karma’s answer to evil, which is really no answer at all.  In fact, it perpetuates evil.  How so?  It necessitates a beatee,” which mandates a “beater.”  Karma, then, creates a never-ending circle of violence, or, “evil.”  In addition it states (emphatically I might add) that we choose our current destiny (or events) in this life due to past life experiences and choices.  This is why the holy men in Buddhist and Hindu nations generally walk right by the maimed, injured, starving, and uneducated, and do not care for them.  This next true story drives this point home.

Ron Carlson, while speaking in Thailand, was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their like-minded brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”

Do you get it now?  It takes a “Mother Teresa” with a Christian worldview to go into these embattled countries and bathe, feed, educate, care for these people – who otherwise are ignored due to harmful religious beliefs of the East.

Another example is a graphic one, but it drives the point home.  While at home on my day off, my work calls me in due to an emergency.  I cannot find a sitter for my youngest son, so I call a family member, say, uncle Steve.  While I am at work, uncle Steve rapes and sodomizes my son.  Should I call the authorities??  If I am a believer in reincarnation, then I must realize that this “evil” is an illusion, number one, and number two, this “evil” was brought on my son most likely because of something my son did in a previous incarnation.  Something my son did in a previous lifetime demands that this happened to him in this lifetime.  (Or something I did, or my wife did, whomever.)  Only recently have some Indian people rejected reincarnation and started to kill the massive infestation of disease-ridden rodents that inhabit India’s cities.  These rodents carry and transmit many diseases as well as destroying and infecting large portions of food that could have made it to the starving population.  Most, however, continue to nurture or ignore these disease-carrying animals in the belief that they are a soul stuck in the cosmic wheel.  This is just one example of a horrible religious practice that is part of the many destructive practices that are hurting precious people.  The caste system mentioned before is another that promotes and encourages racism, malnourishment, lack of education, and death….

(…all material referenced in my chapter…)

So to say the Dalia Lama or the Buddha are “Christ like” is to wholly misunderstand the chasm of differences in the two completely different leaders of these religions… and their logical conclusions. Also worth noting is that the date between writings, and so the possibility of corruption of the text is vastly different between the two faiths. For instance, the Buddha is said to have dies around (using the earliest date) 400 B.C.. The earliest portion of a Buddhist writing is dated at about 179 A.D. So let us compare this:

...Compare/Contrast

Buddhist Text Compared Final

References for the above dating of the Buddhist fragments: 

  • Richard Salomon, Ancient Buddhist Scrolls from Gandhara: The British Library Kharosthi Fragments (PDF summation, book);
  • Ingo Strauch, The Bajaur collection: A new collection of Kharoṣṭhīmanuscripts:  A preliminary catalogue and survey (PDF).

Diamond Sutra Compared to Book of John

The most complete copy that dates early is the Gospel of John (Bodmer Papyrus II – 150-200 A.D.). That is 127 years after Christ, for the Gospel of John. The earliest fragment is dated to 120 A.D. And Clement of Rome quoted from it about 95 A.D., and Polycarp quoted from it around 110 A.D. [+]. So we KNOW John is older.

The oldest full book key to Buddhist thought is the Diamond Sutra, dated at about 868AD. That is 1,268-to-1,468 years after Buddha’s death. We KNOW the Diamond Sutra is older… but the fragments and quotes of the Gospel of John match up well with earliest text. The earlier quotes of the Diamond Sutra and it’s fragments show drastic change.

Another example. The earliest copy of Isaiah the church had was dated to about 900AD. They found a copy of Isaiah dated to 1,200 years earlier. Because of how the Jewish scribes copied text… there were only a few letters in the entirety of the text that were different. Most were in a word known to be “light” No meaning or concept was changed in those letters being different. (Sources: here, here, and here.)

The change in meaning in the Diamond Sutra from earlier Buddhist teaching as well as fragments is great:

Since at least the fifth century, generations of Buddhists have memorized and chanted the Diamond Sutra, a short Mahayana Buddhist scripture. The work, which offers meditations on illusion and perception, was originally written in Sanskrit and first translated into Chinese in 402 A.D. Despite the text’s longevity, Stanford religious studies professor Paul Harrison’s latest research suggests that previous translations may have incorrectly interpreted certain words in a way that affects the entire meaning of the text.

For the last seven years Prof. Harrison has been working on re-editing and re-translating the Diamond Sutra. Though he is a professor of religious studies his translation work falls squarely in the field of philology. Harrison is often surrounded by a large semicircle of previous translations and dictionaries that he consults as he combs through the sutra one word at a time.

The Diamond Sutra is one of the most historically important texts in the Buddhist faith, in part because a copy of it is the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world (868 A.D.). Also known by its Sanskrit title Vajracchedika, the Diamond Sutra posits that something is what it is only because of what it is not. The text challenges the common belief that inside each and every one of us is an immovable core, or soul—in favor of a more fluid and relational view of existence. Negative, or seemingly paradoxical statements by the Buddha abound in the text, such as “The very Perfection of Insight which the Buddha has preached is itself perfection-less.”

Professor Harrison elaborated, “I think the Diamond Sutra is undermining our perception that there are essential properties in the objects of our experience….

(Sources: here and here)

I write about the early attestation to the New Testament in the first 16-pages of my chapter on Gnosticism and Feminism. But I reworked Kenneth Boa’s graphic on comparing dating of ancient texts with some updated information not only cataloged via the aforementioned chapter from my book, but also from here, and the books:

  • Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999);
  • Carsten Peter Theide and Matthew d’Ancona, The Jesus Papyrus: The Most Sensational Evidence on the Origins of the Gospels Since the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York, NY: Galilee DoubleDay, 1996).

(I edited the last column under “Date Written” and “Time Span”)

manuscript comparison AGAIN 700

Below is some of the evidence for the early dating of the New Testament.

More on this from Dr. Geisler:

...Earliest Attested Fragments

[DSS stands for Dead Sea Scrolls]

….Light on the New Testament. Some DSS frag­ments have been identified as the earliest known pieces of the New Testament. Further, the mes­sianic expectations reveal that the New Testa­ment view of a personal messiah-God who would rise from the dead is in line with first-century Jewish thought.Geisler 188 CHART

The New Testament fragments? Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and clas­sified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments. The center column in the following chart uses the numbering system established for manuscripts. For example, “7Q5” means fragment 5 from Qumran cave 7.

[RPT’s Note: 7Q5 matches up well with Mark 6:52-53 ~ see below, sources for graphic: here, here, as well as this chapter and the aforementioned books.]

Both friend and critic acknowledged from the beginning that, if valid, O’Callahan’s conclusions would revolutionize current New Testament the­ories. The New York Times reported: “If Father O’Callahan’s theory is accepted, it would prove that at least one of the gospels—that of St. Mark—was written only a few years after the death of Jesus.” United Press International (UPI) noted that his conclusions meant that “the peo­ple closest to the events—Jesus’ original followers—found Mark’s report accurate and trustwor­thy, not myth but true history” (ibid., 137). Time magazine quoted one scholar who claimed that, if correct, “they can make a bonfire of 70 tons of indigestible German scholarship” (Estrada, 136).

7Q5 Dead Sea Scroll FinalOf course, O’Callahan’s critics object to his identification and have tried to find other possi­bilities. The fragmentary nature of the ms. makes it difficult to be dogmatic about identifi­cations. Nonetheless, O’Callahan offers a plausi­ble, albeit revolutionary, possibility. If the iden­tification of even one of these fragments as New Testament is valid, then the implications for Christian apologetics are enormous. It would be shown that the Gospel of Mark was written within the life time of the apostles and contem­poraries of the events.

A date before A.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Fur­ther, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testa­ment was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. It would also reveal the existence of the New Testa­ment canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Tes­tament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and Gen­eral Epistles.

The fragment of 2 Peter would argue for the authenticity of this often disputed epistle. The absence of fragments of John’s writings might in­dicate that they were written later (A.D. 80-90) in accordance with the traditional dates. With all these revolutionary conclusions it is little wonder that their authenticity is being challenged.

First-Century Jewish Messianic Expectations. The DSS have also yielded text that, while not re­ferring to the Christ of the New Testament, have some interesting parallels, as well as some signif­icant differences. The similarities that confirm the New Testament picture accurately describes Jew­ish expectation of a personal, individual Messiah who would die and rise from the dead. A frag­ment called “A Genesis Florilegorium” (4Q252) re­flects belief in an individual Messiah who would be a descendant of David. “Column 5 (1) (the) Government shall not pass from the tribe of Judah. During Israel’s dominion, (2) a Davidic descendant on the throne shall [not cease . . until the Messiah of Righteousness, the Branch of (4) David comes” (see Eisenman, 89).

Even the deity of the Messiah is affirmed in the fragment known as “The Son of God” (4Q246), Plate 4, columns one and two: “Oppression will be upon the earth . . . [until] the King of the people of God arises, . . . and he shall become [gre]at upon the earth. [ . . . All w]ill make [peace,] and all will serve [him.] He will be called [son of the Gr]eat [God;] by His name he shall be desig­nated. . . . He will be called the son of God; they will call him son of the Most High” (ibid., 70).Geisler 189

“The Messiah of Heaven and Earth” fragment (4Q521) even speaks of the Messiah raising the dead: “(12) then He will heal the sick, resurrect :he dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings” (ibid., 23; cf. 63, 95).

The Dead Sea Scrolls also confirm that Qum­ran was not the source of early Christianity. There are significant differences between their concept of the “Teacher of Righteousness,” ap­parently an Essene messianic hope, and the Jesus revealed in Scripture and early Christianity. The differences are enough to show that early Chris­tianity was not just an offshoot of the Essenes, as has been theorized (see Billington, 8-10). The Essenes emphasized hating one’s enemies; Jesus stressed love. The Essenes were exclusivistic re­garding women, sinners, and outsiders; Jesus was inclusive. The Essenes were legalistic sabbatarians; Jesus was not. The Essenes stressed Jewish purification laws; Jesus attacked them. The Essenes believed two messiahs would come; Christians held that Jesus was the only one (see Charlesworth).

Conclusion. The DSS provide an important apologetic contribution toward establishing the general reliability of the Old Testament Hebrew text, as well as the earliest copies of parts of Old Testament books and even whole books. This is important in showing that the predictive prophe­cies of the Old Testament were indeed made cen­turies before they were literally fulfilled. Further­more, the DSS provide possible support for the New Testament. They may contain the earliest known fragments of the New Testament, and they definitely contain references to messianic beliefs similar to those taught in the New Testament.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1999), 188-189.

Take note as well that the earliest Church Fathers quoted Scripture… which would need to be completed and widely used by then:

  • You write “All four gospels are quoted in patristic writings (a technical term which means writings by the early church “fathers.”) before AD 100 in books such as the Epistle of Barnabus, the book of Clement of Rome and the Didache.” There is nothing said about the four Gospels in the “Clement of Rome”. It is really pathetic that you must base supernatural ideas on false evidence and then you show this false evidence to the masses. I’d really like to get a response as to where I can find the gospels mention in the “Clement of Rome”. I’m curious to know what words you rummaged through to come up with this ridiculous accusation.

Answer:

I sense a lot of anger here. The use of words like “pathetic” and “ridiculous” are really not helpful if you want to engage in honest conversations. I want to encourage you to use a more respectful tone, even with those with whom you do not agree. In any case, I just gave a very quick little read of the Letter of Clement to Rome. I found a few quotations from the gospels as well as ones from the letters. Below is a sampling. Besides these, I found a number of allusions to the gospels and other New Testament Books. After each quote, I will have a very short comment.

1Clem 13:1 Let us therefore be lowly minded, brethren, laying aside all arrogance and conceit and folly and anger, and let us do that which is written. For the Holy Ghost saith, Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong in his strength, neither the rich in his riches; but he that boasteth let him boast in the Lord, that he may seek Him out, and do judgment and righteousness most of all remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching forbearance and long-suffering.

This is a quote from 1 Corinthians 1:31

1Clem 13:2 for thus He spake Have mercy, that ye may receive mercy: forgive, that it may be forgiven to you. As ye do, so shall it be done to you. As ye give, so shall it be given unto you. As ye judge, so shall ye be judged. As ye show kindness, so shall kindness be showed unto you. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured withal to you.

This is a quote from Matthew 7:2

1Clem 15:2 For He saith in a certain place This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

This is quoting from either Matthew 15:8 or Mark 7:6

1Clem 16:1 For Christ is with them that are lowly of mind, not with them that exalt themselves over the flock.

This is an allusion to Luke 22:26 or Matthew 23:11

1Clem 34:8 For He saith, Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man what great things He hath prepared for them that patiently await Him.

This is a quote from 1 Cor 2:9

1Clem 36:2 Through Him let us look steadfastly unto the heights of the heavens; through Him we behold as in a mirror His faultless and most excellent visage; through Him the eyes of our hearts were opened; through Him our foolish and darkened mind springeth up unto the light; through Him the Master willed that we should taste of the immortal knowledge Who being the brightness of His majesty is so much greater than angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name. 1Clem 36:3 For so it is written Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers aflame of fire 1Clem 36:4 but of His Son the Master said thus, Thou art My Son, I this day have begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession. 1Clem 36:5 And again He saith unto Him Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.

These are quoting from Hebrews Chapter one….

(EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY)

Ignatius of Antioch would be another prime example.

Effectively the above information updates this older Josh McDowell graph here. In other words, we know the early history of Christianity because of the wealth of evidence behind certain events. For instance:

“Pharisaic Judaizers come down to Antioch (Acts 15:1, 5) in the late summer of 49 A.D. and teach that circumcision is necessary before a person can be saved. Paul, Barnabas, Titus and certain others (Galatians 2:1-2) are sent to Jerusalem to confer with other apostles, elders and brethren concerning the relationship between circumcision and salvation. This gathering is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem Conference. This conference occurs in the Fall of 49 A.D. around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 15:2).”

We know this because of the evidence… the same evidence to say that two letters describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius are considered history.

SCRIPTURE NEGATIVE

Buddhism lacks this historical attestation and predictive power that the New Testament has in that the original texts are much closer to the events that happened. In fact, the New Testament is superior to ALL ancient documents in this respect.


“…but test all things. Hold on to what is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21);
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1);
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test[a]” (2 Corinthians 13:5 — [a] “unless you are disqualified” or “you are counterfeit”).

“Let There Be Light!” ~ Concepts (Points of Departure)

Opinions are bountiful, testing one’s opinions in today’s age? Not so much.

I will explain the issues I have with John’s latest article, and as usual, you can click it to enlarge the above. In this latest opinion slurry, John asks questions that I doubt he even has one single book by a leading philosopher/theologian/scientist from either the Intelligent Design camp or creation positions to search for how Christianity answers these questions. For instance, my favorite treatise to introduce people to ideas expressed above in a broad sense, “Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith.” Or a more in-depth treatise of the same, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.” Or one more specific to his questions, “The Case For A Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God.” All are readable, and all answer his questions in a way that a mature seeker to these answers would do if seeking to inform one’s own opinion.

One of the queries proffered above is this one: “Of course, that interpretation invites the question, who or what created God.” I wonder if John has actually spent the time finding an answer to this position that has surely passed his lip many times in conversation. I do have a Power Point that deals with this in a very layman-like manner. Also, a more in-depth treatise of it as well HERE. But in a short conversation I had with another gentleman, I responded briefly this way — showing that this has been squarely dealt with many hundreds of years ago:

Tim, you asked:

“What created God? Who created the thing that created the thing that created the thing that created God? It’s an infinite regression.”

Again, “What created God.”

You are basically saying that:

“if everything needs a cause, then so does God, in which case he would not be God. And if God does not need a cause, then neither does the world. But if the world needs no cause then there is no God. Hence, whether everything needs a cause or does not need a cause, there is no God.”

Did I sum up the “gist” of the matter?  (Who made God, in other words.)

The criticism, “if everything needs a cause, then there must be an infinite regress” is built on a misconception of the principle of causality. Or better, it is a confusion of the principle of existential causality and the principle of sufficient reason. The latter affirms that everything needs a cause.

That it would seem, as atheists observe, leads to a contradiction of God being his own cause.

Aquinas dealt with this long ago. He held that only finite, changing, dependent beings need a cause. This does not lead to a contradictory self-caused being but to a non-contradictory un-caused Being. For if only finite beings need a cause then one arrives at a nonfinite (i.e. infinite) being that does not need a cause. Hence, from Aquinas’ principle of causality the series would legitimately stop at the first, un-caused Cause of all finite beings.

If one is confused in regards to the above: here is a response geared towards 5th grader; and one geared towards adults. John’s article[s] surely exemplify philosopher Mortimer Adler’s point about formulating good questions based on coherant starting point:

Mortimer J. Adler rightly points out that while many Christians are quick in responding to the conclusions in an argument often times the Christian is unaware that the point of departure is not in the conclusion, but in the starting premise, the foundational assumptions.

This “point of departure” is answered two separate times by Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig ~ in less than 2-minutes in each case. I mention the time factor because it seems Mr. Huizum hasn’t even taken 2-minutes to get an answer to his “point of departure”:

John states that searching for answers to his questions in the article is “vital” in “‘knowing’ the truth.” That is fine, and he is right, it is an important question that from the Greeks to us has been a grand Western tradition. But even 1,000’s of years ago the Greeks thought it important enough to debate “how” even to ask the question properly. All that aside however, my last point that needs to be made in one that undermines John’s presuppositions. In John’s closing statement, he says this:

If science is right, there is no need for the existence of a supernatural being, which would in turn terminate all religions on earth and consequently a lot of insane wars.

In a previous installment I respond to John also writing that “Atheism has been aided by scientific discoveries and rigorous questioning.” In the much longer response I quote two agnostics as saying this;

“The essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy…. The Hubble Law is one of the great discoveries in science; it is one of the main supports of the scientific story of Genesis.”

~ Robert Jastrow: American astronomer and physicist. Founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he is the director of the Mount Wilson Institute and Hale Solar Laboratory. He is also the author of Red Giants and White Dwarfs (1967) and God and the Astronomers (2nd ed., 2000).

“Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”

~ Robert Wilson: is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)…. While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.

So John seems to be making the same misguided statements, maybe based on his misunderstanding of the weight of the logical conclusions found in a “non-God” universe, where truth cannot be known. Or not spending 2-minutes to see where his starting premise may be errant, and so his conclusions even worse. In other words, questions seeking a truthful response or statement of fact are impossible considering Johns epistemology (“the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth”).

To which I end with a call for John to internalize if he can even ask what he has in this column and others and expect to find an answer to his “probing” [sophomoric] questions:

Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.

The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.

It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).

Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

You’ve got to wonder.

Oxford Professors vs New Atheists: Atheism, Science and God (Part 1)

This is the “official” part one.

Philosophy, Science and the God Debate (Part 1) ‘Science disproves the existence of God’ – and thanks to high profile scientists – many people unquestioningly believe it. But top Oxford Professors, John Lennox, Alister McGrath and Keith Ward effectively challenge this widespread belief and show that science and faith in God are not incompatible. ‘Science disprovers the existence of God’ – and thanks to high profile scientists – many people unquestioningly believe it.

Oxford Professors vs New Atheists: Evidence, Faith and Knowledge

Chris Jervis interviews scientists, theologians and philosophers John Lennox, Keith Ward and Alister McGrath on the meaning of faith in Christianity. Is Christian faith blind? Is it against evidence? Lennox, Ward and McGrath respond to many claims made by the New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) and Christopher Hitchens (author of God is not Great).

Nature of Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 1)

This is a three-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the first part of a previous set [second, third].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


Introduction


Part 1

“Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is. Worthy of reverence because it really understands human nature. Attractive because it promises true good.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #12/187.

I. The Definition of Apologetics

A. The rational defense of the Christian worldview as objectively true and existentially or subjectively engaging. More generally, to commendation of Christianity in the face of unbelief or doubt.
B. Concerns defining Christian truth-claims that one must believe in order to be a Christian

1. Essentials of orthodoxy: Trinity, Incarnation, biblical authority, justification by faith, etc.
2. Truth-claim: propositions affirming the existence or nonexistence of certain states of affairs

a. Different than a sentence; many sentences affirm of declare the same proposition (More on this in D. Groothuis, Truth Decay, chapter four)
b. Truth-claims are different than questions, emotive utterances, commands, etc.

II. Relation of Apologetics to Theology

A. Apologetics is dependent on theology for its content (essential doctrines), which are defended as true
B. Theology’s ideal is to systematically and coherently articulate what Scripture teaches
C. We need a theology of apologetics’

~ Theological truths (such as human depravity, general revelation, divine transcendence and immanence) guide one’s understanding and application of apologetics

III. Relation of Apologetics to Philosophy

A. Comes under one category of philosophy—philosophy of religion: the rational investigation of religious truth-claims

~ But not all philosophy of religion is Christian apologetics; may be done in service of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, etc.

B. Attempts to rationally justify theological statements through philosophical means (theistic arguments, defending the coherence of doctrines, such as the Trinity or Incarnation, etc.)

~ Need not be propaganda or proselytizing, but may be

C. Resurgence of Christians in philosophy in the last two-three decades. See James Kelly Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe (InterVarsity Press, 1993); Thomas Morris, God and the Philosophers, ed. (Oxford, 1995). Academic journals: Faith and Philosophy; Philosophia Christi

IV. Relation of Apologetics to Evangelism

A. Apologetics used when necessary to remove obstacles to evangelism: doubts, misunderstandings (Matthew 28:18 — 20)
B. Evangelism declares Christian truth and invites unbelievers to embrace it; apologetics defends Christian truth and clarifies its meaning
C. Apologetics as pre-evangelism (Francis A. Schaeffer)


Part 2

V. Two Types of Apologetics

A. Negative apologetics (two senses)

1. Find intellectual weaknesses in non-Christian world-views—naturalism, pantheism, deism, etc.
2. Respond to anti-Christian intellectual assaults on Christian truth made by Muslims, Freudians, pagan feminists, postmodernists, pantheists, etc.

B. Positive apologetics

1. Give constructive reasons and evidences for defining Christian truth-claims

~ Arguments for objective truth and morality, the existence of God, reliability of the Bible, supremacy of Jesus, etc.

2. Give a cumulative case of various rational arguments for Christian truth

C. Whether something is deemed positive or negative apologetics may depend on the angle at which you look at it
D. A full-orbed Christian apologetic combines positive and negative apologetics

VI. Reasons or Justifications for Christian Apologetics

A. The glory of the one true God (Exodus 20:1 — 7; Matthew 22:37 — 40; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)
B. The defense of the Christian faith in order to reach the lost for Christ

1. Give a reason for our hope in the gospel (1 Peter 3:15 — 17)
2. Contend for the once-for-all revealed truth of God (Jude 3)
3. Refute false philosophies (Colossians 2:8 — 9; 2 Corinthians 10:3 — 5; 1 John 4:1 — 4)
4. Build up believers who doubt (Matthew 11:1 — 11; Jude 22 — 23). See Douglas Groothuis “Growing Through Doubt” sermon available though Hope for Today (www.hopefortoday.com)
5. Encourage holiness in knowing and defending God’s truth (Matthews 22:37 — 40)
6. Apologetic example: Paul at Athens (Acts 17:16 — 33)

a. On this see, D. A. Carson, “Athens Revisited,” in D. A. Carson, ed. Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 384-398.
b. Douglas Groothuis, “Christianity in the Marketplace” (Acts 17:16 — 34) parts I and II, sermons available from Hope for Today: (www.hopefortoday.org)

7. Apologetic example, exemplar: Jesus (throughout the Gospels)

a. On this see Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2003), chapters one and three, especially
b. Douglas Groothuis, “Jesus and the Life of the Mind” sermon available from: (www.homefortoday.org)

VII. The Spirituality of the Apologist: Truthful Humility

A. Humility (see D. Groothuis, “Apologetics, Truth, and Humility” in syllabus hot link)

1. Humility by creation: total dependence (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1 — 3)

~ See Andrew Murray, Humility: The Heart of Righteousness. Devotional classic.

2. Humility by redemption: you are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)
3. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)
4. Hold the truth firmly and humbly (1 Timothy 2:24 — 26)
5. We know in part and are in process (1 Corinthians 13:12)
6. Be courageous, but meek; don’t offend unnecessarily (Matthew 5:5; 2 Corinthians 4:7)

B. Have a spirit of committed dialogue (Paul throughout Acts)
C. Glory in the gospel, not apologetic prowess; win people to Christ, not just win arguments (Matthew 28:18 — 20)
D. Passionate, but patient, yearning for the salvation of others (Romans 9:1 — 3; 10:1)
E. Importance of moral/spiritual character in ministry: watch your life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16)
F. Reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (Acts 1:4 — 5; John 16:13)G. Importance of individual and corporate prayer for apologetic integrity (Ephesians 6:10 — 18; Colossians 4:2 — 4)
H. Openness to God’s supernatural work in opening the eyes of unbelievers (Acts 26:17 — 18; Acts 13:1 — 12)

Developing an Apologetic Mind, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 2)

This is a two-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the second part of a previous set [first, third].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


Part 1

I. Six Enemies of Apologetic Engagement

A. If apologetics is biblical and logical, why does it flounder? Why so ignored in the church?
B. “Six enemies of apologetic engagement” (D. Groothuis article on syllabus hot link)

1. Indifference
2. Irrationalism
3. Ignorance
4. Cowardice
5. Arrogance and intellectual vanity
6. Superficial techniques or schlock apologetics

II. Jesus as a Philosopher and Apologist (D. Groothuis, On Jesus, Chapters 1, 3)

A. What is a philosopher?
B. Was Jesus a philosopher?
C. Did Jesus disparage rationality (Michael Martin)?
D. Jesus’ use of argument: our model intellectually

1. Escaping horns of dilemma (Matthew 22:15 — 22)
2. A fortiori arguments (John 7:14 — 24)
3. Jesus’ use of evidence (Matthew 11:1 — 11)
4. Reductio ad absurdum arguments (Matthew 22:41 — 46)
5. Jesus defended truth rationally; lived it out existentially

~ Had a well integrated worldview; didn’t duck rational arguments

III. Worldviews and Christian Faith

A. Three kinds of (or aspects of) faith (W. Corduan, No Doubt; see also J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind)

1. Saving faith: justification—either/or (Ephesians 2:8 — 9)
2. Growing faith: moral sanctification—incremental (Ephesians 2:10)
3. Knowing faith: epistemological sanctification (Colossians 2:2 — 3)

a. Relationship of faith and reason: not antithetical (Isaiah 1:18)
b. Reasoning in Scripture (Romans 12:1 — 2; Matthew 22:37 — 40)
c. Some texts used against reasoning: (1 Corinthians 1 — 2; Colossians 2:8; Isaiah 55:9)
d. Biblical value placed on knowledge outside Scripture (Amos 1 — 2; Daniel; Romans 1 — 2; Acts 17:16 — 34)

B. The nature of genuine Christian faith, subjective believing

1. Assent (fides): belief that “P” (essential gospel truths) is true (Romans 10:9 — 10)
2. Trust (fiducia): belief in “P” as true and trustworthy (Romans 10:11; John 1:12)
3. Disposition, orientation (action-producing): believe “P” is true and trustworthy, therefore act in a faithful way (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14 — 26)

C. The unity of truth (Corduan) and a well-integrated worldview

1. “All truth is God’s truth”—general and special revelation (Psalm 19:1 — 11)
2. Know “P” through authority (but must identify a qualified authority)
3. Know “P” through argumentation, reasoning, evidence
4. No dichotomy of religious and secular truth: a unified, integrated, worldview
5. Developing a well-integrated worldview

a. What is a worldview and why is it important? (James Sire, chapter 1)
b. What is a Christian worldview? Touchstone proposition (William Halverson, A Concise Introduction to Philosophy)

~ The universe (originally good, now fallen, and awaiting its divine judgment and restoration) is created and sustained by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, humanity, conscience, Scripture, and supremely through the Incarnation.


Part 2

IV. Truth Decay: Understanding the Problem (D. Groothuis Truth Decay, introduction, chapter one)

A. The importance of truth

1. Truth: desired and feared by mortals east of Eden
2. Truth and integrity
3. People of truth; truth in jeopardy
4. Screwtape’s ploy: remove the very category of truth from the mind

B. The seven acids of truth decay

1. The end of the enlightenment vision/project
2. A unified world view is impossible today because of our cosmopolitan, media-saturated environment
3. A unified world-view is impossible today because of the great diversity of religious viewpoints available
4. Postmodernity does not allow for a fixed sense of personal identity
5. Language is contingent on human beings and cannot communicate objective truth
6. Written texts have no objective, determinative meaning or truth value (deconstruction)
7. “Truth” is a function of power relationships, not an objective reality

V. The Eighth Acid of Truth Decay: Television (See D. Groothuis, Truth Decay, appendix)

A. Understanding the nature of television and how it contributes to truth decay “The medium is the message” (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media)

1. Moving image trumps or humiliates the written and spoken word (Exodus 20:1 — 4; John 1:1)

a. Images are limited in their power to communicate truth: second commandment (Exodus 20). Jesus’ appearance is never described in the Gospels
b. Power of deception through image manipulation: my TV interview about channeling. Malcolm Muggerridge: “The camera always lies.” See his Christ and the Media
c. Prefabricated presentations: shrink events into sound bites and memorable images that may be false or misleading
d. Cannot watch the Bible on video. You must learn to master the written texts. Church librarian in Denver laments that parents check out “Christian videos” instead of books for children

2. Discontinuity, fragmentation: “a peek-a-boo world” (Neil Postman) (Luke 1:1 — 4)

a. No continuity, coherence, development of ideas: “And now this…”
b. Leads to intellectual impatience, recklessness, distraction
c. ADD/ADHD: a national problem. Medical warnings about TV and infants. Pediatrics, Vol. 113 No. 4 (April 2004)

~ Conclusions: Early television exposure is associated with attentional problem at age 7. Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted…”

d. Biblically, the primacy of a coherent, orderly view of reality (Luke 1:1 — 4)

3. Hypervelocities: video equivalent of caffeine (Psalm 46:10)—jump cuts, scene changes, special effects

a. Out of sync with God-given natures: pathology of velocity, plague of rapidity
b. Stimulation, agitation—not edification instruction (usually). Ken Burns programs are somewhat different, though
c. Decrease in attention spans: sermons, classes, conversations; but this may be challenged—through good preaching
d. Biblical importance of pacing, stillness. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

4. Entertainment orientation—amusement dominates all other values (2 Timothy 3:4)

a. The demand of all areas of life: religion, politics, news, education; amuse means “no thought.” “Laugh track is always running” (Jean Baudrillard, America)
b. Amusement is not appropriate for many things; loss of gravity, sobriety, rectitude; orienting our subjective response to the objective nature of what we experience
c. Biblically: don’t be a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God (2 Timothy 3:4). Get serious.

B. Conclusion (more on this in “Christian Ethics and Modern Culture” class)

1. Engage in television fasting
2. Decrease drastically television watching
3. Replace with thoughtful reading

Resources for growth and discernment

1. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay (InterVarsity, 2000). The appendix addresses the nature and effects television in the context of postmodernism.
2. Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds (Baker Books, 1994). Excellent Christian critique of anti-intellectualism in the church, which addresses television and other truth-decaying agents.
3. Arthur Hunt, III, The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Imagery in the Postmodern World (Crossway, 2003). Christian perspective on a pervasive but often ignored problem.
4. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (Penguin, 1985). The best secular critique of the nature and effects of television; it is more insightful than most Christian books.
5. Douglas and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis web page: www.ivpress.com/groothuis/doug

Worldviews, Truth & Knowledge, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 3)

This is a two-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the third part of a previous set [first, second].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


PART 1

I.What is an Argument (Anthony Weston, Rulebook for Arguments)?

A. Philosophical argument: means of rational persuasion
B. Premises
C. Logical form
D. Conclusion
E. Validity and soundness
F. Clear language, consistent terms
G. Goal of good arguments: knowledge: justified, true belief

II. From Modernism to Postmodernism (Truth Decay, chapter two). See also Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism (InterVarsity, 2001), chapter two.

A. Distinguishing social conditions (-itys) from philosophies (-isms)
B. The premodern era (premodernity) – premodernist worldview
C. The modern era (modernity) – modernist worldview
D. The postmodern (postmodernity) era – postmodernist worldview
E. Postmodernism as a philosophy

1. No objective, universal, absolute truth; embrace of relative, pragmatic truths
2. Rejection of metanarratives; embrace of micro/mini-narratives
3. Rejection of essences, foundations; embrace of shifting surfaces
4. Language creates reality, does not reflect objective facts; self-enclosed, non referential, “prison-house of language”
5. Truth as “the new obscenity” (Os Guinness, The Journey)

F. Postmodernity as a social condition

1. The continuity with modernity regarding broad social forces
2. Breakdown of religious consensus; emergence of greater pluralism
3. The saturation of the self through communication technologies
4. Loss of cultural authority; Christianity loses it public face and voice
5. Surface over depth; image all the way down; factoids all the way down; etc.

III. The Christian View of (A) Truth and (B) What is True

A. Clarify the concept of truth, before getting to content of truth (Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There)
B. General concept and Christian: correspondence view of truth (more in Truth Decay, chapter four)
C. Biblical words for truth

1.Hebrew
2.Greek

D. Biblical Concept of truth: radical monotheism (Deuteronomy 6:4)

1. Revealed—not constructed, created by us (Hebrews 4:12)

a. Supernatural and personal source of knowledge
b. Not all is constructed; some is revealed, received, discovered
c. Language as God’s vehicle to convey truth

~ God as Logos (John 1:1 — 3), human in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)

2. Objective—not only merely subjective (Romans 3:4)

a. Truth above cultures; truth as judging all cultures equally
b. Some things can be known as they are in themselves
c. Not based on preference only—comfortable, uncomfortable
d. We are entitled to our own opinions, not our own truths

3. Absolute—not relative (John 14:1 — 6)

a. Invariant, noncontingent, nonnegotiable
b. No exceptions, exemptions, exclusions

4. Universal—not situational (Matthew 28:18 — 20; Acts 4:12)

~ Cross-cultural realities: reconciliation with God and others

5. Eternal—not trendy or trivial (Isaiah 40:8; Malachi 3:6)

~ Not ephemeral, fragile, conventional

6. Antithetical—not synthetic (Matthew 12:30)

a. Law of identity
b. Noncontradiction
c. Law of excluded middle
d. Law of bivalence
e. Not a matter of taste but of truth

7. Systematic, not fragmentary, ad hoc, arbitrary, piecemeal

~ All Scripture inspired; God cannot lie (2 Timothy 3:16 — 17; Hebrews 6:18)

8. Truth is not completely knowable by fallen mortals (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:9 — 12)


Part 2

IV. Relativism: Roots and Refutations (Corduan, chapter two)

A. Four laws of logic/thought/communication

1. Law of identity: “A” is identical to “A”
2. Law of contradiction (sometimes called the law of noncontradiction): “A” is not identical to “non-A”
3. Law of excluded middle: Not both “A” and “non-A”; not third option
4. Law of bivalence: any unambiguous proposition “A” is either true or false; not neither true nor false, not both true and false
5. Logic and God (see also, Geisler and Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking, chapter one)

a. God is logical; does not break the rules (Isaiah 1:18: John 1:1
b. This is no limit on God, but a virtue. God cannot deny or contradict himself or tell a lie.
c. Omnipotence does not and can not entail actualizing logical contradictions

B. The challenge of relativism

1. Denies law of contradiction for statements
2. Or: makes truth relative to individuals or cultures
3. Conceptual relativism: every concept is relative
4. Moral relativism: only moral concepts are relative

a. Normative relativism
b. Individualist relativism

C. Six roots of relativism

1. The information explosion makes objective, absolute, universal knowledge impossible
2. The claim to objective, absolute, universal knowledge leads to totalitarianism and intolerance
3. The sincerity of religious believers means they cannot be wrong
4. “Buddhist logic” allows for contradictions to be true; only “Western logic” disallows this
5. Having individual rights means I can determine my own truth
6. Humility requires relativism; otherwise dogmatism

~ Tolerance requires relativism

D. Moreland against relativism

1. Descriptive relativism a weak thesis concerning principles
2. Against normative relativism

a. What is the morally relevant culture? Indeterminacy problem
b. May belong to more than one culture. Indeterminacy problem
c. Reformer’s dilemma; reductio ad absurdum
d. Some acts are clearly wrong whatever society you are in: we have knowledge of particular moral truths
e. One society could not blame another morally, given this theory; reductio ad absurdum

V. The Christian World View—Objectively: The Faith (Sire, chapter two; Groothuis, On Jesus, chapters 4 — 7)

A. World-view: assumptions about the basic make up of the world (James Sire, Universe, 16). See also David Nagle, Worldview: The History of Concept (Eerdmans, 2002)
B. Importance of world views, meta-narratives—for individuals and cultures
C. The Christian world view (J. Sire, chapter two)

1. God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

2. God created the cosmos ex nihilo with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

3. Human beings are created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27] and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

4. Human beings can know both the world around them and God himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes an active role in communicating with them.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

5. Human beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as not to be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may chose to reject that redemption.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

6. For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation [hell] from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

7. Ethics is transcendent and is based on the character of God as good (holy and loving).

~ Jesus’ worldview…

8. History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes in history.

~Jesus’ worldview…

9. Touchstone proposition: “The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine restoration) is created by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, conscience, Scripture, and through the Incarnation.” (D. Groothuis revision of Ronald Nash, Faith and Reason)


Appendix

I. Components of Knowledge (Corduan, chapter 3)

A. Need for an epistemology
B. Self evidence and epistemology

1. Analytic, necessary truths
2. Basic beliefs, religious experience
3. J.P. Moreland on religious experience (Scaling, 231 — 240)

a. Causal argument: explaining a changed life
b. Direct perception argument: sensory perception and numinous experience: seven common features

4. Immediate sensory awareness
5. Self-evidence is a necessary but not sufficient test for the truth of a world view; need more than self-evidence and religious experience

C. Rationality and epistemology

1. Logical deduction
2. Rationalism: Plato, Anselm, Descartes, Gordon Clark
3. The ontological argument: a priori argument extraordinaire. See Stephen Davis’s chapter in God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs (Eerdmans, 1997).
4. Rational deduction is a necessary, but not sufficient test for a true world view; need more than deduction

D. Sensory information and epistemology

1. Empiricism: open and closed
2. Teleological argument, naïve version (J.P. Moreland’s in Scaling is far better)
3. Sensory information is a necessary, but not sufficient test for the truth of a world view: need more than sensory information

E. Workability and epistemology

1. Pragmatism: it’s true if it works
2. Pragmatism and religious truth: conflicts
3. Evaluation of pragmatism; cannot be the meaning or definition of truth. Is one element of testing truth claims.
4. Workability a necessary, but not a sufficient test for the truth of a world view: working doesn’t make a belief true

F. A combination of criteria are needed to test the truth of a worldview

The Absurdity of An Actual Infinite Regress of Events

From video description:

This is part of the “Defending the Cosmological Argument” series. Table of Contents: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=916E17EE70E98A68

Dr. William Lane Craig proves Al Ghaz­a­li’s premise that an ac­tu­al in­fi­nite num­ber of things is ab­surd by us­ing Hilbert’s Ho­tel (if you’re an atheist listen carefully: Dr. Craig did not say actual infinites are non-existent). The following clip comes from Dr. Craig’s lecture: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=3D6D1F904C7AC1F8

Related:

Here’s the problem, it seems to me:  in order for the collection to be completed, we must have already enumerated, one at a time, an infinite number of previous cards. But before the final card could be added, the card immediately prior to it would have to be added; and before that card could be added, the card immediately prior to it would have to be added; and so on ad infinitum. So one gets driven back and back into the infinite past, making it impossible for any card to be added to the collection.

This way of putting the argument is somewhat akin to Zeno’s argument that before Achilles could cross the stadium, he would have to cross half-way; but before he could cross half-way, he would have to cross a quarter of the way; but before he could cross a quarter of the way, he would have to cross an eighth of the way, and so on to infinity.  Therefore, Achilles could not arrive at any point.  Zeno’s paradox is resolved by noting that the intervals traversed by Achilles are potential and unequal.   Zeno gratuitously assumes that any finite interval is composed of an infinite number of points, whereas Zeno’s opponents, like Aristotle, take the interval as a whole to be conceptually prior to any divisions which we might make in it.  Moreover, Zeno’s intervals, being unequal, add up to a merely finite distance.  By contrast, in the case of an infinite past the intervals are actual and equal and add up to an infinite distance.

About the best that the critic of the argument can do at this point, I think, is to say that if one adds cards at a rate of, say, one card per second, then the collection can be completed because there has been an infinite number of seconds in the beginningless past.  But clearly this response only pushes the problem back a notch:  for the question then is, how can the infinite collection of past seconds be formed by successive addition?  For before the present second could elapse, the one before it would have to elapse, and so on, as before.  Because the problem is applicable to time itself, it cannot be resolved by appealing to infinite past time.

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A Combined Documentary About Evidences for God (Serious Saturday)

The Signs of God’s Existence is an interesting high quality documentary that explains in an intellectual way why it is logical to believe in God. This documentary gives some good rational answers and food for thought.

An Atheist`s Journey to Faith ~ Holly Ordway, Ph.D.

Holly Ordway (author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith) was a hard-core atheist who thought Christian theism was a complete joke. She was openly hostile towards Christianity and thought their followers were superstitious idiots! She was even a fan of Richard Dawkins’. However, as a college academic and scholar she was challenged to look into Christianity and took a surprise turn in her life and realized how intellectually defensible Christianity was. She is now a proud born-again Christian who speaks in apologetic circles defending the faith. In this lecture, she gives her testimony of her conversion from atheism and answers five questions: Why was I an atheist? What was it that made me listen to apologetic arguments? What was it like to experience these apologetic arguments? What was the role of the imagination in this journey? Now that I’m a Christian, now what? Buy her book “Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith

The Evidence of Supernatural Design in Contemporary Big Bang Cosmology

From Video Description:

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (2012) – ‘The Evidence of Creation & Supernatural Design in Contemporary Big Bang Cosmology & Space-Time Geometry Proofs’ by Robert Spitzer. The new popular atheism movement may lead one to suspect that faith and science are opposed to one another. Fr. Spitzer addressed (in layman’s terms) the three most significant kinds of evidence for intelligent creation from physics (space-time geometry proofs, new evidence from entropy, and fine-tuning of cosmological constants). He gave special consideration to recent theories concerning eternal inflation, the multiverse hypothesis, and a bouncing universe (in the higher-dimensional space of string theory) to show that these hypotheses also require a definitive beginning.