I’ll be out on vacation soon and until vacation begins my schedule is completely booked. I won’t be posting any new articles until after vacation. Hopefully I can respond to a few comments in the meantime.
After vacation I’ll be writing about things concerning world views, presuppositions, some science, and some morality.
To give us all something to think about, consider the following opinion of mine: For a monotheist, the most difficult reality to explain is the existence of evil and suffering in our world. That’s not to say there isn’t a sufficient answer but that it can be a somewhat rational objection until one’s eyes are opened up to why the Bible says evil can exist in a world created by God. I won’t offer the answer now (unless someone really wants me to, then I’d be glad to do it), but it’s something to think about.
On the other hand, it seems to me, based on my experience with atheists and skeptics, that the most difficult reality for them to explain is the existence of objective moral values. They have a tough time explaining why objective morals exist and where they originated. If they are consistent in their world view, then morality is usually considered a relative matter which brings about major problems.
These are things to think about and comment on below if you wish. I’ll be posting again after vacation. I have a large number of atheists that read this page so please don’t leave if I haven’t posted for several days!!
In my previous blog post, a reader said that he didn’t believe the gospels to be “accurate, historical documents.” When I challenged him on his claim, he gave a few reasons that I will show have absolutely no validity at all. This person has sadly been misinformed about that which he speaks regarding the gospels. I’ll address his charges point by point.
He says the “writers of the gospel [sic] were not eyewitnesses. They didn’t even live at the same time.” This is simply false information. Matthew and John were both disciples of Jesus and knew him personally. Mark was not a disciple because of his age, but he worked closely with Peter (a disciple of Jesus) as his closest adviser for many years. Luke was a friend of Paul, a man who knew the apostles and encountered Jesus himself. Luke interviewed eyewitnesses in order to write his account. So again, this charge is just absolutely false. Two of the gospel writers were eyewitnesses and the other two knew the eyewitnesses.
He says, “the events have not been discussed in any other source” except Josephus, “but not that he did some really great stuff, etc. [sic].” Again this is false information. There are several non-Christian places where events involving Jesus have been recorded. These include works by Jews, Romans, and Greeks. The list is as follows:
– Josephus, (Jewish)
– Several portions of the Talmud
– Lucian of Samosata (Greek)
– Mara bar Serapion (Greek)
– Thallus (Roman)
– Tacitus (Roman)
– Pliny (Roman)
– Suetonius (Roman)
He alleges supposed contradictions but never elaborates on the point. It should be pointed out that the alleged contradictions that many skeptics refer to simply reflect natural variations that occur when a story is told by two different humans. The differences in the way the accounts are recorded do not in any way change the intended meaning of the event. Nearly all supposed contradictions can be attributed to minor transmission error or that the Bible is based on eyewitness accounts that complement one another, not contradict each other. Indeed if the Gospels were not the Gospels, they would be hailed the world over as the world’s most reliable text of the ancient world. The works of the New Testament are incredibly more reliable than any other ancient work in the history of the world as evidenced by the following chart:
After looking at this factual chart, if one dismisses the bible as historically reliable, then one must dismiss all writings of ancient history because they do not come close to the reliability of the bible. So as we can see, the reader’s charge about contradictions is absolutely false.
He claims the authors of the Gospels were “primitive shepherders [sic].” This could not be further from the truth. I would love to know the reader’s source on this!
There are many, many, many other truths that prove the New Testament and the Gospels to be accurate, reliable, and historical. The archaeological discoveries made thus far in human history have confirmed everything the bible has said about such things. The New Testament shows that Jesus fulfilled all the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament such that if left to chance, the chances of a man fulfilling those prophecies by accident would be as great as the universe exploding into being out of nothing! So I hope and pray that the individual making these erroneous charges will lift the veil of his presuppositions from his mind and see the truth of the bible.
I’ve heard many skeptics and unbelievers suggest that Jesus was a great teacher but he wasn’t God. In fact, Islam and Judaism teach this idea. This kind of teaching brings up some interesting points.
Jesus said he was God (Mark 14, John 8, Rev 1, John 14). Jesus can’t be simply a great teacher if he also claimed to be God. Normal men who go around claiming to be God are not considered great teachers. They’re considered madmen! So if we want to consider Jesus as a great teacher, we must consider all his teachings are great and true, including his claim to be God. We have an abundance of evidence to show that he was God’s son.
I’ve been reading quite a bit of C.S. Lewis lately and he does a better job than I at summing up my thoughts. From Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sorts of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
He is either a liar, a lunatic, a legend, or Lord. A person has to take one, and only one, postion. Either Jesus was crazy or he is Lord. I believe he is Lord.
In order for a person to believe in Christianity, he must believe in miracles. The notion of a miracle occurring is a common objection to Christianity by atheists, agnostic people, and skeptics. I want to offer some ways for a Christian to think about how he would answer a skeptics objection to miracles.
A miracle from God is defined as an act of divinity in which a supernatural effect is produced for the purpose of manifesting God’s kingdom on earth. Their purpose is to reveal God’s supernatural character. Now in order to begin to think about miracles, one must already be in a position to at least consider the notion of a created world. A person who believes in creation believes that God created the universe out of nothing. He created time and when it would be set into motion and he created the natural things we see all around us. The simple syllogism goes like this: Everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe has a cause and the cause (God) must transcend time and space in order to create it. When we consider these things from the cosmological argument, it is perfectly rational to conclude that the act of creation is the greatest miracle ever performed. The skeptic should be willing to concede this point if he can for a moment allow that God is the uncaused first cause.
It’s at this time that we can demonstrate that if the greatest miracle ever performed occurred at creation, then any miracle following is certainly believable. David Hume famously discounted miracles. He claimed that natural law is a regular occurrence and miracles are irregular occurrences. He further claimed that the evidence for the regular is always greater than the evidence for the irregular or rare. The problem with this is that there are numerous things in our natural world that are not only rare but only happened once. For example, the beginning of the universe and the origin of life happened only once. This is a big problem for Hume’s argument.
Why do miracles occur and why are they so sporadic? In the bible, miracles usually occur as a way for God to reveal himself to man. Jesus performed miracles in order to prove he was the son of God. God revealed himself to mankind in the old testament with many miraculous acts. Miracles are a supernatural way for God to communicate his word to us and are often used to grab our attention. We cannot answer why miracles are sporadic. There are periods of hundreds of years in the Bible where no miracles are recorded. One aspect of miracles is that they are usually rare. This makes sense, because if miracles happened every day they could possibly be less effective in communicating God’s word. Again, miracles are attention grabbers.
Of course, nearly everyone open to the evidence for miracles and God have heard of or maybe even experienced their own miracles. We know they sometimes happen and we know sometimes they don’t (at least in this world!). God created a good world that rebelled against him and chose evil by free will. God can use miracles to reconnect to a lost and dying world and reveal his presence. Although, miracles are not used by God to “fix” a defective creation. I read an analogy recently that I had never heard before. It said that the world isn’t a defective machine that needs fixed, but that the relationship between God and creation can be thought of like the relationship between a musician and his instrument. The musician enjoys time with his guitar and together beautiful things can occur, but every now and then the guitar needs a little tuning.
Footnote: I don’t know how to incorporate citations into the blog. But I want to acknowledge that most of the information in this blog are from thoughts put forth by Douglas Groothuis, Frank Turek, and Norman Geisler. I have not added much originality at all but merely unpacked some of the things these men have written. Check Amazon or your local bookstore for their resources. They are invaluable to me.
In the final part of a three part series describing how we cannot trust the words of some leading scientists, I want to focus in on Lawrence Krauss and specifically his book, “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.” All book references refer to the latest known paperback edition of Mr. Krauss’s book. This post could get somewhat deep and for that I apologize. I want to keep it as clear and simple as possible.
On page XXIII Mr. Krauss admits that we do not know whether the universe is infinite but he suggests that it could be. The mere suggestion is ridiculous as a true infinite can not be crossed. In other words, if the past is infinitely long, then we would never arrive at today. To illustrate it, let’s say you line up some dominoes on a table. Now choose a domino somewhere in the middle and allow that domino to represent the present moment. Now assume that your line of dominoes goes on to infinity in both directions. Let’s allow the right side of the line of dominoes to represent the future and the left side will represent the past. If we tip the “present moment” domino to the right (the future) and assume there are infinitely many dominoes actually to it’s right, then we can safely assume they will fall for infinity (proof of a possible eternity). Now imagine if the dominoes to the left (the past) continued into the past for infinity. If that were the case, we would never arrive at the “present moment.” As J.P. Moreland puts it, it would be like trying to jump out of an infinitely deep bottomless pit. So this shows that the universe cannot be eternal, it had to have a beginning. To even entertain the notion of an infinite universe is just strange.
Also on page XXIII, Krauss discusses why there is something rather than nothing. He says this question is usually discussed in the religious or philosophical areas. But he claims this question can be resolved scientifically. But in order for him to attempt this he MUST presuppose things that are impossible to explain using the scientific method such as laws of math, laws of logic, metaphysical truths, ethical judgments, aesthetic judgments, and indeed science itself. All of these things are a slave to philosophy. You cannot run an experiment to determine these things. They are explained by philosophical presuppositions. So the point is, science cannot be the only method to discover objective truth. Why? Because the claim itself is not a scientific claim, but a philosophical one! The funny thing about this is at least he admits on page 149 that he assumes the laws of physics. This admission is so huge, that it undermines his entire book!!
Krauss then proclaims that the scientific answers we have obtained “ALL suggest getting something from nothing is not a problem. Indeed something from nothing may have been required for the universe to come into being.” Wow, what a quote. My first observation is to note his admission that the universe came into being. Earlier, he posited that the universe could be infinite. Hmmmm. Secondly, getting something from nothing is just bizarre. On page XXIV, he attempts to define nothing and accuses theologians of constantly changing it definition. Theologians and apologists usually define it as “no thing” or “non-being” or “the absence of anything.” He then says theologians are intellectually bankrupt and outrageously states that “surely ‘nothing’ is every bit as physical as something.” Are you kidding me? This is akin to what atheists accuse theists of doing, and that is using the “God of the Gaps” silliness.
Another important observation is that Krauss always places the word nothing inside quote marks such as, “nothing.” What this means is that he really doesn’t mean “no thing” at all. He claims nothing is defined as “empty space.” But any third grade student knows that space is indeed something! Time is also something which seems to be assumed by Krauss. The following gets a little difficult to process but it’s important: Whatever caused the first event could not have been inside of time. It had to be timeless or transcend time. Suppose an event happens such as a tree blowing and it falls. If this occurs then we know time already exists. Both the cause and effect are in time. Whatever caused the first event had to first create time. Krauss wants to presuppose that time is already there.
On page XXV he calls theists intellectually lazy. That’s just a ridiculous rant such that a twelve year old would do.
On page 143 he admits that science is only interested in the “how” questions and not the “why” questions. THAT my friends is intellectually lazy! Moreover, to dismiss the “why” questions right off the top is to say, “you know what, I’m going to dismiss the possibility of an intelligent designer before anything else.” Absurd and lazy!
On page 161, after determining that nothing=empty space, he just suggests that we should “allow for the merging of quantum mechanics and general relativity….” So all of the sudden out of nowhere these two things just come into existence? He admits later down the page that allowing the rules of quantum mechanics is a “tricky” possibility. Tricky indeed. It seems to this reader that Krauss is trying to trick his audience.
All of these things Mr. Krauss brings up are very interesting to explore and we should never stop exploring them. But it is my belief that based on the best possible evidence and the use of sound logic, the study of these matters will ultimately lead us to God, the uncaused cause. He is uncaused because he has never operated by the limits of time and space. It’s possible he may have entered time, but he is not bound by it. In other words, if a man creates a lake he may enter it to swim but he is not bound to stay in it. The relationship of God and time are similar.
There are strong cases to be made for God being the first cause as opposed to “nothing” being the first cause. Very briefly, design is evidence for a personal cause to the universe. When my wife prepares the supper table, I can see that she has the ability to set it in a precise way. It doesn’t just become that way out of nothing. It took intelligence. It took ability and intention to set the table. Also, there is order and fine-tuning all over the universe. Science has a major problem in this area because science ALWAYS presupposes order before it can explain anything at all. The only way science can explain order is to cite other examples of order. It’s circular. This is very important to understand. Furthermore, information in DNA is great evidence for a creator. DNA isn’t just randomness which would exude no structure. DNA provides information. Information is orderly and provides instruction such as the words in this blog. DNA contains VAST amounts of information similar to the way humans express information as instruction. This is great evidence for a creator.
There are many more ways to think about this subject, but it’s important to see why we simply cannot always take the words of scientists at face value. As we have seen in the three articles, there is usually some hidden “gotcha” presupposition or oftentimes just outright lies. We need to learn to detect these things so that we can become better thinkers.
I hope you enjoyed the three part series. As time moves forward, I want to shift our stance from a defensive one to an offensive one and describe the vast amount of evidence for why someone should believe in God. I will still give defenses anytime the need arises. If there is anything you’d like for me to write about as it relates to Christian apologetics, please let me know! I’m enrolled in Biola University’s Apologetics Program and I have learned a great deal that has been added to my near decade of personal study on these matters.