Tag Archives: J. Warner Wallace

How do atheists try to accommodate the Big Bang in their worldview?

J. Warner Wallace: God's Crime Scene
J. Warner Wallace: God’s Crime Scene

OK, so J. Warner Wallace has a new book out and it’s about science and God. I know, because I saw pictures of his reading list, that he has read tons and tons of atheists like Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss and so on.

He’s writing about some of the things he learned from all this reading on his blog, and I wanted to link to something about Lawrence Krauss trying to accommodate the Big Bang within his worldview of atheism.

Wallace writes:

One of the key pieces of evidence in the universe is simply it’s origin. If our universe began to exist, what could have caused it’s beginning? How did everything (all space, time and matter) come into existence from nothing? One way atheist physicists have navigated this dilemma has simply been to redefine the terms they have been using. What do we mean when we say “everything” or “nothing”? At first these two terms might seem rather self-explanatory, but it’s important for us to take the time to define the words. As I’ve already stated, by “everything” we mean all space, time and matter. That’s right, space is “something”; empty space is part of “everything” not part of “nothing”. For some of us, that’s an interesting concept that might be hard to grasp, but it’s an important distinction that must be understood. When we say “nothing”, we mean the complete absence of everything; the thorough non-existence of anything at all (including all space time and matter). These two terms, when defined in this way, are consistent with the principles of the Standard Cosmological Model, but demonstrate the dilemma. If everything came from nothing, what caused this to occur? What is the non-spatial, atemporal, immaterial, uncaused, first cause of the universe? A cause of this sort sounds a lot like a supernatural Being, and that’s why I think many naturalists have begun to redefine the terms.

Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University Professor (School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Initiative) wrote a book entitled, “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing”. As part of the promotion for the book, Krauss appeared on the Colbert Report where he was interviewed by comedian Stephen Colbert. During the interview, Krauss tried to redefine “nothing” to avoid the need for a supernatural first cause:

“Physics has changed what we mean by nothing… Empty space is a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles popping in and out of existence… if you wait long enough, that kind of nothing will always produce particles.” (Colbert Nation, June 21st, 2012)

Now if you’re not careful, you might miss Krauss’ subtle redefinition. In describing the sudden appearance of matter (“particles”), Krauss assumes the prior existence of space (“empty space”) and time (“if you wait long enough”). If you’ve got some empty space and wait long enough, matter appears. For Krauss, the “nothing” from which the universe comes includes two common features of “everything” (space and time), and something more (virtual particles). This leaves us with the real question: “Where did the space, time and virtual particles come from (given all our evidence points to their origination at the beginning of our universe)?” Krauss avoids this inquiry by moving space and time from the category of “something” to the category of “nothing”.

If you’ve got a teenager in your house, you might recognize Krauss’ approach to language. I bet you’ve seen your teenager open the refrigerator door, gaze at all the nutritious fruits and vegetables on the shelves, then lament that there is “nothing to eat.”

I used to say that when I was a teenager, but I grew out of it. I didn’t go on the Comedy Channel and try to convince everyone that what I was saying about the refrigerator was scientific.

Anyway, here is a debate between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss, if you want to see how Krauss defends his “refrigerator has nothing to eat” view of cosmology. I know everybody and even many Christians all think that we have something to hide when it comes to science, but if you would just watch these debates, you would see that there is nothing to fear from science at all. We own it.

Meanwhile, I want to show you that this is not at all rare among atheists.

Look, here is Peter Atkins explaining how he makes the Big Bang reconcile with his atheism – and notice that it’s a completely different view than Krauss:

So, just who is this Peter Atkins, and why is he a good spokesman for atheism?

From his Wikipedia bio.

Peter William Atkins (born August 10, 1940) is an English chemist and a fellow and professor of chemistry at Lincoln College of the University of Oxford. He is a prolific writer of popular chemistry textbooks, including Physical Chemistry, 8th ed. (with Julio de Paula of Haverford College), Inorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics, 4th ed. Atkins is also the author of a number of science books for the general public, including Atkins’ Molecules and Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science.

[…]Atkins is a well-known atheist and supporter of many of Richard Dawkins’ ideas. He has written and spoken on issues of humanism, atheism, and what he sees as the incompatibility between science and religion. According to Atkins, whereas religion scorns the power of human comprehension, science respects it.

[…]He was the first Senior Member for the Oxford Secular Society and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Reason Project, a US-based charitable foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. The organisation is led by fellow atheist and author Sam Harris.

Now watch that 6-minute video above. Peter Atkins thinks that nothing exists. He thinks he doesn’t exist. He thinks that you don’t exist. This is how atheism adapts to a world where the Big Bang creation event is fact.

I think Peter Atkins should join Lawrence Krauss on the Comedy Channel and present that view. I would laugh. Wouldn’t you?

Cold Case Christianity: is Mark’s gospel linked to the eyewitness Peter

I listened to a dynamite podcast on the weekend by J. Warner Wallace. I like his longer-form, less polished podcasts better than the newer, slicker 30-minute ones. This time, the podcast had heavy metal intro / ending music and it was an hour and a half long!

The M4A file is here.

Details:

In this blast from the past, J. Warner examines the Gospel of Mark for signs of Peter’s influence. Papias, the early church bishop, claimed Mark’s Gospel was written as he sat at the feet of Peter in Rome. According to Papias, Mark scribed Peter’s sermons and created the narrative we now have in our Bible. In this audio podcast, J. Warner applies Forensic Statement Analysis to Mark’s text to see if Peter’s fingerprints are present.

You can also read a post on some of what is in the podcast, if you don’t want to listen to the podcast.

Here is the part I thought was most interesting:

The Omissions of the Gospel Are Consistent With Peter’s Influence

There are many details in the Gospel of Mark consistent with Peter’s special input and influence, including omissions related to events involving Peter. How can Mark be a memoir of Peter if, in fact, the book contains so many omissions of events involving Peter specifically? It’s important to evaluate the entire catalogue of omissions pertaining to Peter to understand the answer here. The vast majority of these omissions involve incidents in which Peter did or said something rash or embarrassing. It’s not surprising these details were omitted by the author who wanted to protect Peter’s standing in the Christian community. Mark was quite discreet in his retelling of the narrative (other Gospel writers who were present at the time do, however, provide details of Peters ‘indiscretions’ in their own accounts). Here are some examples of Petrine Omissions grounded in an effort to minimize embarrassment to Peter (see Cold-Case Christianity for a more detailed explanation of the events summarized here):

Peter’s shame at the “Miraculous Catch”
(Mark 1:16-120 compared to Luke 5:1-11)

Peter’s foolish statement at the crowded healing
(Mark 5:21-34 compared to Luke 8:42-48)

Peter’s lack of understanding related to the parable
(Mark 7:14-19 compared to Matthew 15:10-18 and Acts 10:9-16)

Peter’s lack of faith on the lake
(Mark 6:45 compared to Matthew 14:22-33)

Peter’s rash statement to Jesus
(Mark 8:31-33 compared to Matthew 16:21-23)

Peter’s statement related to money
(Mark 10:23-31 compared to Matthew 19:23-30)

Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial
(Mark 14:27-31 compared to Luke 22:31-34 and John 13:34-38)

Peter’s behavior at the foot-washing
(Mark 14:22-26 compared to John 13:2-9)

Peter’s denial and Jesus’ direct stare
(Mark 14:66-72 compared to Luke 22:54-62)

There are a number of places in the Gospel of Mark where details related specifically to the words and actions of Peter have been omitted in what appears to be an effort to protect Peter from embarrassment. This doesn’t mean Peter failed to talk about these things. He may very well have included them in his sermons and teachings. But Mark, his scribe and close friend, simply chose to omit these details related to Peter, either at Peter’s request or on his own initiative.

Mark doesn’t want to annoy his source, Peter, by calling him out for being foolish at times.

This is highly recommended. There’s another blog post from Cold Case Christianity here, on the same topic.

Greek socialist party that originally caused financial meltdown wins election

Map of Europe
Map of Europe

Well, this is certainly going to be interesting…

Fox News reports:

Greece voted Sunday in an early general election that could alter the course of the country’s struggle with crippling debts, with a radical left party poised to win by promising to rewrite the terms of its international bailout.

The Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras has remained firmly ahead of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party in opinion polls throughout the election campaign, which was called two years ahead of schedule.

But those polls also have shown that a significant portion of voters remained undecided until the last minute, and suggest that Syriza might struggle to win enough parliamentary seats to form a government on its own.

[…]Syriza has promised to renegotiate the country’s 240 billion euro ($270 billion) international bailout deal. It has pledged to reverse many of the reforms that international creditors demanded in exchange for keeping Greece financially afloat since 2010.

The anti-bailout rhetoric has renewed doubts over Greece’s ability to emerge from its financial crisis that has seen a quarter of its economy wiped out, sent unemployment soaring and undermined the euro, the currency shared by 19 European countries.

Greece’s creditors insist the country must abide by previous commitments to continue receiving support, and investors and markets alike have been spooked by the anti-bailout rhetoric. Greece could face bankruptcy if a solution is not found, although speculation of a “Grexit” — Greece leaving the euro — and a potential collapse of the currency has been far less fraught than during the last general election in 2012.

Samaras’ campaign focused on the improving economy, which grew for the first time in six years in the third quarter of 2014. He has promised to reduce taxes if re-elected and has warned of the potentially dire consequences of reneging on bailout conditions. Opponents accused him of using fear tactics.

Syriza’s promises to end Greece’s era of crushing austerity have attracted many voters infuriated by the deterioration in their standard of living and ever-increasing tax bills.

[…]Greece’s next government faces a series of formidable tasks, the most pressing of which is concluding negotiations with bailout inspectors to release a 7.2 billion euro ($8.1 billion) loan installment originally due late last year.

I’m sure that the socialists will know how to run the economy, after all, they did such a good job last time there were in control.

The plan is for them to beg for debt forgiveness, ramp up government spending and raise the minimum wage.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

European economic orthodoxy, led by Germany, has fought Greece’s debt crisis with painful austerity—public-spending cuts and tax hikes—and other strict reforms. Syriza’s rise is the most potent challenge yet to that orthodoxy.

If Syriza wins, it could embolden left-wing parties in other countries, especially Spain, where political tensions also are boiling. It could even result in a rift with Germany that ruptures the euro.

The economic plan advanced by Mr. Lapavitsas and other professors aligned with Syriza is rooted in the core principles of debt forgiveness and higher government spending, which Germany has rejected.

[…]It has honed its focus since then, and Mr. Lapavitsas describes the party’s platform as “a Keynesian program with redistribution attached, with some Marxist view of the world.”

[…]In the tradition of John Maynard Keynes, Syriza advocates public spending to reignite economic growth. Greece can afford to spend more if some of its debt is forgiven by other countries.

Nikolaos Chountis, a Syriza candidate in Athens, ticks off the party’s spending priorities: food and electricity subsidies for impoverished households, a pension boost for the poorest retirees, a hike in the minimum wage and tax cuts for low earners.

[…]The party’s first message to Europe would be “let’s get rid of the [austerity agreement],” Mr. Stathakis says.

Let’s get rid of the austerity agreement? That’s the only reason why they are getting the bailouts now.

Look how cavalierly the socialists talk about going back on their agreement.

Associated Press:

The prospect of an anti-bailout government coming to power in Greece has sent jitters through the financial world, reviving fears of a Greek bankruptcy that could reverberate across the eurozone.

“The verdict of the Greek people ends, beyond any doubt, the vicious circle of austerity in our country,” Tsipras told a crowd of rapturous flag-waving supporters.

He won on promises to demand debt forgiveness and renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240 billion euro ($270 billion) bailout, which has kept the debt-ridden country afloat since mid-2010.

To qualify for the cash, Greece has had to impose deep and bitterly resented cuts in public spending, wages and pensions, along with public sector layoffs and repeated tax increases.

Its progress in reforms is reviewed by inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, collectively known as the troika, before each installment of bailout funds can be released.

Tsipras pronounced the troika and its regular debt inspections “a thing of the past.”

Now if you break the deal, you would think that the bailing out would stop. And then the Greek people will understand what it means to elect the same socialists that ruined their economy when they won in 2009. I am not entirely sure that these people have any plan for economic growth, other than “you give me bailouts, I don’t pay you back”. They needed leftist professors to come up with that one. They certainly couldn’t find any economists in the private sector who would believe such nonsense.

Related posts

Cold Case Christianity: best posts, podcasts and videos of 2014

This assault rifle is OK, but apologetics is better
This assault rifle is pretty cool, but apologetics is even cooler

J. Warner Wallace has posted the top 10 blog posts, podcasts and videos for 2014.

Blog posts:

10. 10 Important Questions for the Jehovah’s Witness Worldview
There are a number of philosophical and theological questions exposing the internal contradictions of the Jehovah’s Witness worldview.

9. How the Book of Abraham Exposes the False Nature of Mormonism
By taking an evidential approach to Christian and Mormon scripture, I confirmed the veracity of Christianity and guarded myself from the falsity of Mormonism

8. Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions
If we objectively examine the Scriptures with these principles in mind, we’ll grow in our understanding of the Bible and better resolve the difficulties

7. Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Horus Mythology?
Is Jesus simply a retelling of the Horus myth? How similar is Horus to Jesus upon close examination? Do these similarities invalidate the historicity of Jesus?

6. Why Are Young Christians Leaving the Church? It’s Simple Math
Why Are Young Christians Leaving the Church? Three powerful forces are driving the current departure of young Christians from the Church.

5. The Inevitable Consequence of An Atheistic Worldview
What are the inevitable consequences of an atheistic worldview? A summary from an honest (if not politically correct) comment from an atheist.

4. Investigating the Evidence for Mormonism In Six Steps
Given the evidence, there is more than enough reason to conclude Joseph Smith was a fraud and the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction.

3. Is the Bible True? The Cumulative Case for the Reliability of the Gospels (Free Bible Insert)
Is the Bible true? The case for the reliability of the Gospels is strong and substantive.

2. The Difference Between “Natural Talents” and “Spiritual Gifts”
Natural talents are the result of our genetic inheritance and the training in our family environment. Spiritual gifts are given to us by the Spirit of God once we are saved.

1. Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?
The ancient non-Christian interpretations (and critical commentaries) of the Gospel accounts serve to strengthen the core claims of the New Testament.

And the podcasts:

10. Is the Christian Faith Evidentially Reasonable?
J. Warner makes a case for the reasonable nature of the Christian Worldview. Does Christianity require blind faith? Are we to accept the claims of Christianity without evidence or even in spite of the evidence? Or are we called, as Christians, to place our trust in Jesus because of the evidence? Jim also examines the way Jesus responded to those who had doubts.

9. The Problem with the Problem of Evil
J. Warner talks about the challenge we face, as Christian Case Makers, when trying to respond to the problem of evil. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why is there so much evil in the world? Jim talks about the need for a cumulative response and explains why the problem of evil may be a bigger problem for atheists than for Christians.

8. The Case for Christian Case Making
J. Warner makes a case for an evidential, reasoned, case-making form of Christian belief. Using the New Testament gospels and letters as a guide, Jim articulates the foundation for a reasonable faith in Jesus and our common calling as Christians to a life of case-making.

7. Are the Gospels Eyewitness Accounts?
J. Warner makes a case for the eyewitness status of the New Testament Gospel accounts. Is it appropriate to evaluate these accounts as eyewitness statements? Were they intended to be read in this manner? Jim provides several reasons to accept the accounts as eyewitness testimony.

6. Four Ways to Strengthen Your Kids Faith
J. Warner reviews the statistics related to young people leaving the church and then offers four simple ways parents can help make sure their kids stay in the Christian faith. Jim also discusses the simple math behind the problem and illustrates the challenges facing young Christians.

5. Did Jesus Claim to Be God?
J. Warner examines the statements of Jesus to see if He ever claimed to be God. While skeptics may acknowledge Jesus’ existence and even the value of His teaching, any assessment of Jesus’ instruction must account for his obvious claims of Deity. Jim looks at the cumulative case and assembles the evidence from the Gospels to demonstrate Jesus’ claims to Deity.

4. What (and When) Were the Earliest Claims About Jesus?
J. Warner examines the history related to the eyewitness observations of Jesus. How early are the eyewitness accounts and what precisely was being said about Jesus prior to the creation of these written documents?

3. Four Lies the Culture Tells About the Truth
J. Warner examines four popular misconceptions and misstatements about the nature of objective truth, tolerance and our over-reliance on science. If there are no objective truths (or they can’t be known) there is little reason to examine the truth about God. We need to get to the truth about truth before we can ever know the truth about anything else.

2. Conversations with Atheists: Four Observations
J. Warner provides four observations from his youth ministry trips to UC Berkeley. These simple observations may help you improve the quality of your discussions with non-believers and help you better understand the underlying issues in some of these conversations. J. Warner also answers viewer email related to the disagreements between Christian denominations and the need for personal research.

1. Is Jesus a Copycat Savior?
In this inaugural Cold-Case Christianity video broadcast / podcast, J. Warner re-examines an atheist objection related to the historicity of Jesus. Is Jesus merely a copycat of prior mythologies like Mithras, Osiris or Horus? How can we, as Christians, respond to such claims? Jim provides a five point response to this common atheist claim.

And the videos:

10. The Case for Truth
In this video, J. Warner Wallace teaches high school and college students at Summit Worldview Conference in Manitou Springs, CO. What is the nature of truth? What is the difference between objective and subjective truth and why does it matter? J. Warner talks about three lies related to truth and offers a proper definition of truth for his students.

9. When Do We Have Enough Evidence to Know Christianity Is True?
J. Warner Wallace was interviewed by Bobby Conway and discussed the role of evidence in determining truth claims. When we can be certain we have sufficient evidence to believe something is true?

8. The Apostle John’s Chain of Custody
J. Warner Wallace provides a detective’s perspective related to the New Testament and the Christian Life as he talks with Rob Melnichuk of “It’s Your Call”

7. Making a Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
J. Warner Wallace was interviewed on 100 Huntley Street and talked about the case for Easter by examining the Resurrection of Jesus through abductive reasoning.

6. Laura Ingraham Interview with J. Warner Wallace
Laura Ingraham interviews J. Warner Wallace about his book, Cold Case Christianity

5. Why Some Skeptics Deny the Credibility of the Gospels
J. Warner Wallace provides a detective’s perspective related to the New Testament and the Christian Life as he talks with Rob Melnichuk of “It’s Your Call”

4. Were the Gospel Authors Really Present?
J. Warner Wallace spoke at the University of Kentucky Christian Student Fellowship in November 2014 about the reliability of the New Testament. In this portion of the talk, J. Warner examines the dating of the Gospels.

3. The Difference Between Objective and Subjective Truth
What is the difference between “Objective Truth” and “Subjective Truth”? How can mastery of the distinction between these two definitions help us to think clearly before we begin to examine the case for the Christian Worldview? (from J. Warner’s talk at Calvary Chapel Bangor)

2. Why Does Every Christian Need Abductive Reasoning?
J. Warner Wallace was interviewed by Bobby Conway and discussed the importance of Abductive Reasoning and its application to the Resurrection of Jesus.

1. Did Jesus Think Jesus Was God?
J. Warner Wallace, was interviewed by Bobby Conway and discussed the Deity of Jesus. Did Jesus make claims about His nature as God? Did He intend for others to believe He was God?

If you see one you think is interesting – well, they are all interesting – then click through and take a look. He produces so much material and it’s fun to listen to a guy who solves murder mysteries and shoot guns at criminals.

J. Warner Wallace: Leading people to Christ requires good leadership

The latest episode of the Cold Case Christianity podcast is a must-listen, especially from about 9:20 to 30:33. I listened to it twice, and shared it with a friend who I am mentoring. She liked it as well, and it caused both of us to think deeply.

You can grab the MP3 file here. (39 MB)

Here is is his summary:

In this podcast, J. Warner talks about the importance of leadership for those of us who hope to share the truth about Jesus. When most of us think about evangelism, we think of the importance of apologetics or understanding how to articulate the Gospel. We often overlook the role of good leadership. But if you hope to lead someone to Christ, you’ll need to become a good leader.

Topics:

  • Excellence at what you do is the minimum requirement for being a good leader, but it’s not enough
  • First thing: you need to have the respect of the people you are trying to lead (e.g. – good character, courage, concern for others, etc.)
  • Second thing: you need to gain the trust of the people you are trying to lead, and that means performing consistently over time
  • Third thing: you need to gain a hearing from the people you are trying to lead, but that means being willing to speak to them, too
  • An example of good leadership: Jim’s father leading everyone to a cabin in the woods

The key insight I pulled out of this is that in order to lead someone, you have to gain their respect, gain their trust, and gain their ear. The podcast features a very practical application of the principles he describes.