Archive for the ‘Answers for Skeptics’ Category

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A small anthology of Huxley’s religious writings titled Huxley and God has sat on my self for three years. During my years of uncertainty, rocking back and forth between agnosticism and atheism, and reading books on all sides of the debate. It was Huxley’s supreme confidence in the divine that first began to shake me out of my skeptical spiral.

The minimum working hypothesis would seem to run to about this: That there is a Godhead, Ground, Brahman, Clear Light of the Void, which is the unmanifested principle of all manifestations. That the Ground is at once transcendent and immanent. That it is possible for human beings to love, know, and, from virtually, to become actually identical with the divine Ground. That to achieve this unitive knowledge of the Godhead is the final end and purpose of human existence.

Huxley does not lay out a Christian metaphysics, but his is not necessarily opposed to Christianity either. When the option is between a vague deism or out-right atheism (my apparent choices at the start of my collegiate years), Huxley’s “minimum working hypothesis” breaks into that destructive circle of thought. To think that knowledge of God was “the final end and purpose of human existence” gave an object to the desires that burned in my chest as I would lay awake staring at the ceiling.”

via Aldous Huxley’s Doorway to Orthodoxy.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

20131121-133145.jpg

 

It’s never a good idea to watch a History Channel piece on Christianity or the Bible without your apologetics glasses on. They can blind you to the truth with their dazzling presentation. They are usually strong on fabrication, and short on fact. Viewer beware.

  • “As another example, Elaine Pagels declares, “We had Christianity for three-hundred years before we had a New Testament.”  But, this is only partially true at best, and downright misleading at worst.  Sure, the edges of the canon were not solidified until probably the fourth century, but the core of the canon around 22 out of 27 books was fairly well-established by the mid/late second century. Irenaeus, for example, was keen to use these books and to use them as Scripture.  On a functional level, he did in fact have a New Testament.

 

  • Incredibly, this documentary then trots out the Constantine-made-the-Bible argument, implying that he used his political power to makes sure the right stories were chosen.  However, this absolutely zero evidence that Constantine had any influence/control over the canon of Scripture.  This is more of a Dan Brown-Da Vinci Code style argument, than a historical one.

 

  • Mention is made of the long ending of Mark 16:9-20 as evidence that Christians made up the resurrection because of Mark’s shorter ending.  But, the documentary shows no awareness that there is good evidence that the long ending of Mark is actually drawing upon resurrection accounts in the other three gospels (see Kelhoffer’s works), thus showing that the idea of Jesus’ resurrection was not made up due to Mark’s truncated ending.

via Bible Secrets Revealed? A Response to the New History Channel Series Part 1 | Canon Fodder.

Remember that most of the claims in this documentary are simply “pimped up” versions of the tired old arguments of old -line Christian Liberalism. As Chris Rosebrough put it on an episode of Fighting For The Faith, it’s like arguing for stricter ship-building standards today by bringing up the sinking of the Titanic. The evidence is a little old. So are the arguments slickly produced in this documentary. They have all been thoroughly dealt with by serious Evangelical scholars decades ago. Nothing to see here…move along home.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric the stuffed turkey
Gobble-gobble

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently heard this demonstrated on a podcast of Fighting For The Faith, where Chris Rosebrough interviewed Joseph Atwill Of Covert Messiah. If you enter into a conversation with an disciple of naturalism, understand they will not accept your evidence, since they refuse to admit the possibility of the miraculous, including prophecies. The best you can do is what Chris does in this podcast-point out that they are suppressing truth, and have an a priori assumption about the supernatural, and share the Gospel with them. Don’t try to win an argument. Trust the Holy Spirit in His Word, and pray.

“When visiting with Dan Wallace earlier this year, Greg Koukl and I asked him about the skepticism on the part of people like Bart Ehrman related to early dating. We asked Wallace if there was some specific manuscript evidence that inclined people to deny the early dating of the Gospel accounts. Wallace said there was no such evidence. We then asked why people continued to deny the early dating if, in fact, we were continuing to find early fragments and there was no contrary manuscript evidence. It turns out that the late dating of the gospels is due primarily to a denial of supernaturalism.

One of the primary reasons why skeptics date the gospels later than 70AD is the fact that Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in the gospel accounts (i.e. Matthew 23). Secular history records that the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, fulfilling this alleged prediction by Jesus. In order to avoid the accurate prophesy from Jesus, skeptics argue that the gospel must have been written after the temple was destroyed. After all, how could Jesus possess the supernatural power of prophecy if nothing supernatural exists? The philosophical naturalism of the secular historian prevents him from accepting the possibility of accurate prophecy.

The gospels also contain many descriptions of miracles. The philosophical naturalist must also deny the truthfulness of these supernatural accounts. Skeptics, therefore, date the gospel accounts very late, arguing that eyewitnesses to these events were already dead and unavailable to deny the claims. It turns out that the presupposition of philosophical naturalism is at work in the minds of those who would deny the early dating of the gospels. When this presuppositional bias is removed, the remaining evidence confirms that the gospels were written in the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses.”

via There’s No Good Reason to Deny the Early Dating of the Gospels | Cold Case Christianity.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

I once had a person I was witnessing to ask “Well… who made God”? Another time someone asked me if God could make a rock so big He couldn’t lift it. Never get side-tracked by these Red Herrings. They are usually smoke-screens designed to quell your reasoning, or dispel the conviction the Holy Spirit may be bringing to bear on their own conscience. These are all non-sensical queries or statements, and should be parried quickly, allowing you to return to the real issue: man’s guilt before a Holy God, and Christ’s answer on the Cross. Please read the following article, as I found it helpful.

“Separate and apart from the fact that God is not, Himself, physical, and that He created the entire physical Universe, though He is metaphysical and transcendent of the Universe, the question is a conceptual absurdity. It’s like asking, “Can God create a round square or a four-sided triangle?” No, He cannot—but not for the reasons implied by the atheist: that He does not exist or that He is not omnipotent. Rather, it is because the question is, itself, self-contradictory and incoherent. It is nonsensical terminology. Rather than saying God cannot do such things, it would be more in harmony with reality to say that such things simply cannot be done at all. God is infinite in power, but power meaningfully relates only to what can be done, to what is possible of accomplishment—not to what is impossible! It is absurd to speak of any power (even infinite power) being able to do what simply cannot be done. Logical absurdities do not lend themselves to being accomplished, and so, are not subject to power, not even to infinite power (see Warren, 1972, pp. 27ff.).

via Apologetics Press – Can God Do Everything?.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
christianreasons@gmail.com

 

IS IMMORTALITY BORING?

Posted on January 12, 2013 by Paul Rezkalla

The questions seems intuitive. If humans were to live forever, wouldn’t they eventually become bored out of their minds? Let’s think about this for a second. Any activity, no matter how fun or engaging, ultimately comes to a point where it gets boring. That’s part of what it is to be human. Therefore, immortality is boring and pointless as any immortal life would eventually exhaust all possible sources of pleasure, value, and meaning, right? That depends on what you mean by “immortal life.”

Bored-people-007Philosopher Bernard Williams makes his famous case against immortality by arguing, “The Don Juan in hell joke, that heaven’s prospects are tedious and the devil has the best tunes…serves to show up a real and (I suspect) a profound difficulty of providing a model of an unending, supposedly satisfying, state or activity that would not rightly prove boring to anyone who remained conscious of himself…boredom…would not just be a tiresome effect but a reaction almost perceptual in character to the poverty of one’s relation to the environment.1″

The problem with immortal life is that it provides an infinite amount of time for the individual. The individual has all of eternity at his fingertips, and yet what looks like a blessing is actually a curse, as Williams points out. The number of things from which the individual can draw meaning from, and experience satisfaction in, is finite and thus exhaustible, leaving the victim in a perpetual state of boredom after having drained all of the possible satisfaction from their environment. Imagine all the possible ways one can draw fulfillment from life—activities, relationships, emotions, challenges, academics, travel, etc. Suppose that all of these combined were calculated to a total of 100 trillion units of satisfaction; that still would not be enough to prevent a tedious life for the victim of immortality, for he or she will eventually suck dry all of these units at some point and then find nothing else from which to derive contentment.

I am not sure why Williams assumes that immortality must be lived within the same world in which we currently live and perceive. He, without reason, precludes any immortal life lived with God and takes for granted the idea that if there was immortality it would have to be lived just as normal, mortal life is lived now, yet extended infinitely into the future. Immortality is certainly tedious on that view. And yet, theistic beliefs regarding immortality seldom, if ever, include delineations of life eternal bereft of some divine figure. Immortality by itself is pointless, but an immortal life lived with, and in, the perfect presence of God cannot be pointless or tedious as God is the ultimate paradigm and source of meaning and joy and is inexhaustible, by definition. Therefore, the tedium of immortality is contingent upon whether or not there exists in the environment of the immortal life a source, or sources, that can provide an abundant life throughout its never-ending existence. Williams agrees with this but denies that such a thing exists; indeed he thinks that any view to the contrary is absurd and far-fetched.

“Nothing less will do for eternity than something that makes boredom unthinkable. What could that be? Something that could be guaranteed to be at every moment utterly absorbing?2″

Could God be the answer to Williams’ question? If God exists, immortality does not need to be tedious. God can certainly “make boredom unthinkable”, not in the sense that He eradicates the possibility of boredom by removing the elements that make us human– namely our consciousness, will, and ability to tire of things, rather the possibility of boredom is very unlikely, maybe even impossible, in light of how captivating He is. God can also “guarantee to be at every moment utterly absorbing” in that, if humans were created to enjoy God, then finally being in a position to live in unbroken harmony with Him could be the key to a non-futile, eternal life. Theists understand that the only reason immortality is a good thing—it is meaningful rather than meaningless—is because of God. Eternal life, not in this world with all of its constraints and limited, pleasure-making, satisfaction-giving resources, but lived in the perfect presence of God–beholding Him and being captivated by Him, is the only way to make sense of immortality.

The Westminster Catechism puts it simply, yet profoundly:

“What is the chief end of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

It is not unthinkable to see God in this way. If God is defined as a maximal being who interacts with the universe and immortal life is lived perfect relationship to Him, then the immortal life is not tedious, rather it is enjoyable. If God is such a thing as can substantiate and give satisfaction to an immortal life, then immortality need not be tedious. If God can be “enjoyed forever”, then Williams’ question is answered. What is that something (or someone) which has the ability to “make boredom unthinkable” and “guarantee to be at every moment utterly absorbing”? If anything, God seems like a good fit.

1. Williams, B. (1973) Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 94-95

2. Ibid pp 95

via Is Immortality Boring? | Christian Apologetics Alliance.

How could immortality be boring when you’re in the presence of an Infinite God? He never gets bored, and He’s Eternal. Do you actually think He would bring us into an immortal state that would be anything but enthralling? Not moi. I can’t wait.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
christianreasons@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/godsguy12
https://www.facebook.com/christianreasons?ref=hl
http://christianreasons.com/

Boxing Gloves Tap to Start the FightConflict Counseling for Jesus and Paul-Part 1

By Eric Adams

We recently had a discussion about contradictions, paradoxes, and mysteries in relation to Biblical hermeneutics at our Bible Study. One of the examples of contradictions brought up was the seeming conflict between Jesus and Paul. That got me thinking…what are these alleged conflicts, and how can we answer them?

Let’s lay our cards on the table. I don’t believe there are any conflicts between Jesus and Paul, but I’ll take it for granted some folks do see a problem. We’ll take these points one at a time. It may take me a few posts to examine most of the important ones. Before we begin, I’ll establish some baselines for our discussion, and I will be honest about my presuppositions as we lay out our prolegomena.

First of all, let’s discuss some of the foundations of Biblical hermeneutics.

  1. Scripture interprets Scripture-The Bible must be interpreted by its’ own claims that it is the inspired Word of God -2 TI 3:16
  2. The Inspiration of Scripture-To say that the whole of Scripture is God-breathed is to say that its’ every word is identical with God’s words.
  3. The Authority of Scripture-Since the Bible is the word of God, it carries with it the very authority of the God who “breathed” it into existence.
  4. The Power of Scripture He 12:1-2
  5. The Rule of Faith-Since the Bible is God’s word to us, it is the authoritative rule for Christian faith and practice.
  6. The Sufficiency of Scripture-The sufficiency of Scripture may be defined as the principle that the Bible contains all things necessary for life and salvation.
  7. The Unity of Scripture-If the Scripture is sufficient for salvation at each stage of redemption history, and if salvation is never by works, but by faith alone in the promises of God, then it must be that the message of the Scripture is unified, centering on the gracious saving work of God in the gospel.
  8. The Necessity of Scripture-Scripture is necessary because God willed to provide it and because mankind’s condition required it. 
  9. The Inerrancy of Scripture-When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we are saying that in the autographs, it is absolutely true in all it affirms and utterly incapable of conveying falsehood or error.
  10. The Clarity of Scripture-When we say that the Bible is clear, we mean that its message can be understood by human beings through the ordinary means of understanding any written communication.

This is the position I will take throughout these posts:

 Since the Bible is the word of God, it carries with it the very authority of the God who “breathed” it into existence. Therefore, the Scripture is inherently authoritative in that it possesses God’s authority even if not a single human being ever recognized that authority. Since the Bible is God’s word to us, it is the authoritative rule for Christian faith and practice. We need nothing more and nothing less than the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that comes from Scripture. If the Scripture is sufficient for salvation at each stage of redemption history, and if salvation is never by works, but by faith alone in the promises of God, then it must be that the message of the Scripture is unified, centering on the gracious saving work of God in the gospel. Though God has certainly revealed himself through creation, such knowledge of God through general revelation is not sufficient to give us the knowledge that leads to salvation. It is sufficient to condemn us in our idolatrous unbelief and to leave us without excuse at the judgment; but nothing more. Therefore, Scripture (a special revelation of God) is necessary for a saving knowledge of God. Without it, we would not be able to know God.

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) “

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Scripture has power to penetrate man’s heart, beget him anew, and transform him into the image of Christ.

With this foundation laid, let’s move on to look at some of the alleged problems between jesus and Paul. I will continue this in Part 2 of this series.

*Much of my discussion so far is historically known as the Doctrine of Scripture. I have been greatly helped in expressing this through a couple of books, and a fine audio series by R.W. Glenn. Here is my bibligraphy to this point:

Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. Print.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. LaVergne, TN: Nabu, 1876. Print.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Gospel-centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. Print.

http://www.solidfoodmedia.com/resources/series/condensed_theology

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
christianreasons@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/godsguy12
https://www.facebook.com/christianreasons?ref=hl
http://christianreasons.com/