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What is the fine-tuning argument for God’s existence, and does the multiverse counter it?

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

One of the best arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe is the cosmic fine-tuning argument. The argument argues that individual constants and quantities in nature cannot be much smaller or larger than they are, because it would remove the ability of the universe to support life of any kind. Dr. Michael Strauss, an experimental physicist, explains some examples of the fine-tuning in a recent post on his blog.

He writes:

I liken the finely-tuned universe to a panel that controls the parameters of the universe with about 100 knobs that can be set to certain values. If you turn any knob just a little to the right or to the left the result is either a universe that is inhospitable to life or no universe at all.

Consider the knob that controls the strength of the strong nuclear force that holds quarks inside the neutrons and protons and binds the nucleus of the atom together. If the strength were increased by 2%, the element hydrogen would be either non-existent or very rare. Without hydrogen there would be no water (H2O) or stars that burn hydrogen as their nuclear fuel like our sun.  Without hydrogen there would be no life. If the strength of the strong nuclear force were decreased by about 5%, then hydrogen would be the only element in the universe. That would simplify the periodic table and make Chemistry class very easy, but it would render life impossible.

All known life in this universe is based on the element carbon, which is formed in the final stages of a star’s life. The carbon you and I are made of is the result of the nuclear processes that occurred as previous stars ended their lives. One nice recent study showed that if the mass of the quarks that make up neutrons and protons were changed by just a few percent, then the process that makes carbon as stars die would be altered in such a way that there would not be sufficient carbon in the universe for life. The masses of the lightest sub-atomic quarks are the precise value that is required for carbon to form and for life to exist.

Regarding the multiverse, let me just quote from MIT physicist Alan Lightman, writing in Harper’s magazine about the multiverse:

The… conjecture that there are many other worlds… [T]here is no way they can prove this conjecture. That same uncertainty disturbs many physicists who are adjusting to the idea of the multiverse. Not only must we accept that basic properties of our universe are accidental and uncalculable. In addition, we must believe in the existence of many other universes. But we have no conceivable way of observing these other universes and cannot prove their existence. Thus, to explain what we see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove.

Sound familiar? Theologians are accustomed to taking some beliefs on faith. Scientists are not. All we can do is hope that the same theories that predict the multiverse also produce many other predictions that we can test here in our own universe. But the other universes themselves will almost certainly remain a conjecture.

The multiverse is not pure nonsense, it is theoretically possible.But even if there were a multiverse, the generator that makes the universes itself would require fine-tuning, so the multiverse doesn’t get rid of the problem. And, as Lightman indicates, we have no independent experimental evidence for the existence of the multiverse in any case. Atheists just have to take it on faith, and hope that their speculations will be proved right. Meanwhile, the fine-tuning is just as easily explained by postulating God, and we have independent evidence for God’s existence, like the the origin of biological information, the sudden appearance of animal body plans, the argument from consciousness, and so on. Even if the naturalists could explain the fine-tuning, they would still have a lot of explaining to do. Theism (intelligent causation) is the simplest explanation for all of the things we learn from the progress of science.

It’s very important to understand that if these values were any different, then it’s not like we would bridges on our foreheads, or have green skin, or have pointy ears, etc. That’s what science fiction teaches you. And many atheists form their view of science by watching science fiction entertainment. But the truth is that the consequences of changing these values are much more consequential: no stars, no planets, no hydrogen, no heavy elements, the universe re-collapses into a hot fireball. You’re not going to have complex, embodied intelligent agents running around making moral decisions and relating to God in a world like that.

Questions like the existence of God should be NOT decided by feelings and faith and superstitious nonsense. They ought to be decided by evidence. Specifically, scientific evidence. Everyone has to account for this scientific evidence for fine-tuning within their worldview, and they have to account for it in a way that is responsible and rational. Punting to the multiverse, without any evidence for it, is neither rational nor responsible. Holding out hope that the evidence we have now will all go away is neither rational nor responsible.

By the way, if you are looking for a good book on the cosmic fine-tuning, especially for evangelism and debating with atheists, you really need to get a copy of “A Fortunate Universe“. Although it is from one of the most prestigious academic presses, it is pretty funny to read, and the main points are made clearly, even if you don’t understand the science. Two astrophysicists wrote it – one who believes that God is the best explanation of the fine-tuning, and one who doesn’t. I really think that Christians need to get used to the idea that evangelism can be pretty easy, so long as you are arguing from peer-reviewed facts. When you get a good book on evidence for God that is not in dispute, then you are invincible. Everybody ought to believe in God in a universe with this much overt scientific evidence spilling out everywhere. Whether this Creator and Designer is the God of the Bible, who visited us as Jesus of Nazareth, takes more work to establish. Working through the emotional objections people have to God, and coaching them to take on the difficulties of living out a authentic Christian life (very unpopular!), is even harder.

Why do some Christians say “all sins are equally bad” and “everyone is equally guilty”?

Young women very supportive of premarital sex
Young women very supportive of premarital sex

We were having a discussion about whether the Bible teaches that sex before marriage is morally wrong, and someone said “impure thoughts counts as adultery… there isn’t a virgin among us”.

Regarding her point that lust is equal to adultery, and so no one is really a virgin, here’s Ligonier Ministries:

In demonstrating that the seventh commandment was given also to prohibit lust, Jesus is not somehow saying that an unconsummated lustful intent is sinful to the same degree as an actual extramarital affair (though both sins merit punishment). The latter is a more blatant violation of the statute against adultery, and it has greater consequences in the form of divorce and the loss of one’s reputation as a trustworthy person.

Any serious student of the Bible is aware of Jesus’ tendency to exaggerate / use hyperbole.

Also, 1 Corinthians 7 says that wives are not supposed to make a habit of denying their husbands sex. Sex withholding is more of an epidemic today than pornography, and it should also be on the adultery spectrum. It isn’t as bad as adultery, but it definitely breaks the marital covenant.

So why would someone say that lust is the same as adultery, and that there is no such thing as a virgin?

Dr. Michael Krueger recently blogged about this “all sins are equal” view.

Krueger says this:

First, to say all sins are the same is to confuse the effect of sin with the heinousness of sin. While all sins are equal in their effect (they separate us from God), they are not all equally heinous.

Second, the Bible differentiates between sins. Some sins are more severe in terms of impact (1 Cor 6:18), in terms of culpability (Rom 1:21-32), and in terms of the judgment warranted (2 Pet 2:17; Mark 9:42; James 3:1).

Krueger explains the motivation behind the slogans:

[S]ome Christians… use this phrase as way to “flatten out” all sins so that they are not distinguishable from each other. Or, to put it another way, this phrase is used to portray all human beings as precisely the same. If all sins are equal, and all people sin, then no one is more holy than anyone else.

In a world fascinated with “equality,” this usage of the phrase is particularly attractive to folks. It allows everyone to be lumped together into a single undifferentiated mass.

Such a move is also useful as a way to prevent particular behaviors from being condemned. If all sins are equal, and everyone is a sinner, then you are not allowed to highlight any particular sin (or sinner).

Needless to say, this usage of the phrase has featured largely in the recent cultural debates over issues like homosexuality. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, some Christians reluctantly concede. But, they argue, all sins are equal in God’s sight and therefore it is no different than anything else. Therefore, Christians ought to stop talking about homosexuality unless they are also willing to talk about impatience, anger, gluttony, and so on.

Krueger also posted this fascinating follow up post, where he looks at how the phrase is being used by people on Twitter.

Look at these tweets:

  • All sins are equal. People tend to forget that. There is no bigger or smaller sin. Being gay and lying, very equal.

  • all sins are equal in God’s eyes. whatever you’re doing, is no better than what someone else is doing.

  • If you have sex before marriage please don’t come on social media preaching about the wrongs of homosexuality. All sins are equal

  • Need people to realize that all sins are equal… don’t try to look down on me or question my faith just cuz you sin differently than I do.

  • Don’t understand why you’re so quick to judge me, when all sins are equal. So much for family..

  • if you think being gay is a sin, let me ask you something, have you not done anything wrong in your life? all sins are equal. we’re sinners

  • Nope no difference at all. All sins are equal no matter what you’re running for. The bible says do not judge lest ye be judged

  • A huge problem I have with religion is the notion that all sins are equal. Like pre-martial sex and murder are the same amount t of bad.

  • people do bad things because they believe that all sins are equal and ~god~ loves y’all equally so he’s going to forgive you naman ha ha ha

  • It a sin to condemn another sinner and their actions. All sins are equal. So what makes you better than the person you’re condemning?

  • I think so b/c having sex before marriage doesn’t make you less of a women then if you waited until marriage.. all sins are equal soo

  • friendly reminder, all sins are equal in gods eyes so you’re not better than I am in any way. please worry about your own sins before mine.

  • People don’t like when I suggest abortion as an option. This is a free country and all sins are equal so mind your business!!!

  • What I do is no worse than wat you do… all sins are equal no matter what it is… a sin is a sin

  • to god all sins are equal so you have no right to compare your sins to someone else’s bc in the end it doesn’t matter

The first thing that I noticed is that premarital sex and homosexuality are the most popular sins. I would think that divorce and abortion would be up there in the rankings, as well.

People want to be free to follow their hearts when seeking pleasure, then quote the Bible (badly) afterwards, to attack anyone who says that anything they’ve done is morally wrong. They would rather escape the judgment of their peers than admit fault and try to fix the mistake, and do better next time. And they would rather tell people who are hurting themselves by breaking the rules that there are no rules. It makes them feel good to “not judge” – they feel as if they are being kind. Their compassion looks good to non-Christians. And they’re promoting moral relativism which, when it becomes widespread, prevents anyone from judging them.

It’s so bad now, that the people who have morals and who make moral judgments are seen as the real bad people. The immoral people are on the offense, and even trying to ban people from being able to disagree with them.

Minnesota wouldn’t stop BLM rioters, now they want a bailout from taxpayers

Minneapolis gave the rioters space to riot
Minneapolis gave the rioters space to riot

A central conservative tenet is that you have to be tough with aggressors in order to deter them from attacking you. You don’t always have to fight them, but you have to be well-armed. And you have to make the other side believe that if they attack you, it will be costly. Democrats don’t believe in deterring aggression with strength. Their policy towards evil is appeasement.

You can see how this played out in Minnesota, where the Democrat governor of the state, and the Democrat mayor of the Minneapolis, decided to tell police to stand down. This allowed the rioters to engage in violence, vandalism and arson against the law-abiding taxpayers of the state.

Well, now that it’s over, the Democrat appeasers are looking for someone to pay for the damages. They want the taxpayers in other states to pay. You know, the other states where the police actually did enforce the law.

The Washington Examiner reported on the response of the federal government:

President Trump has denied a request from Minnesota’s governor for money to rebuild parts of Minneapolis that were destroyed during the riots following the death of George Floyd.

[…]Walz, a Democrat, requested that Trump declare Minnesota a “major disaster” zone in a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on July 2 after more than 1,500 buildings were damaged by looting and rioting in the wake of Floyd’s death, totaling over $500 million in damages.

At least one Republican in the state had lobbied the Trump administration to reject the request, arguing that the state’s response to the unrest should be thoroughly reviewed.

“If the federal government is expected to assist in the clean-up of these unfortunate weeks, it has an obligation to every American — prior to the release of funding — to fully understand the events which allowed for this level of destruction to occur and ensure it never happens again,” Rep. Tom Emmer wrote to the Trump administration in a letter.

Just remember that as soon as the Democrats get a Democrat president, taxpayer money will be redistributed from the responsible red states, to the irresponsible blue states. This is what Democrats love – to provide equal outcomes for both moral and immoral people through redistribution of wealth from moral people to immoral people.

Why do Christian men prefer to marry virgins?

Here's some helpful advice for women about choosing a man
Here’s some helpful advice for women about choosing a man

Some Christian women argue that chastity is an “idol” that detracts from Jesus’ “gospel of forgiveness”. Basically, they claim that although premarital sex is a sin, it shouldn’t stop a man from marrying them, because they can just make the sin disappear by asking Jesus for forgiveness. But does this really address the underlying concern that men with have marrying a non-virgin?

Let’s start with an example (reported by Daily Wire), then analyze what is going on here:

Though “The Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown has been open about her Christian faith this past season, she also openly boasted about premarital sex as if it were no big deal.

“I have had sex, and, honestly, Jesus still loves me,” Brown said on Monday’s episode.

[…]Brown later spoke with Entertainment Tonight about her religious views on Christ, which boil down to a “personal relationship with Jesus” without doctrinal accountability.

“Regardless of anything that I’ve done … well people might think, ‘Oh, that deserves a scarlet letter.’ That’s not how it works. I can do whatever — I sin daily and Jesus still loves me. It’s all washed and if the Lord doesn’t judge me and it’s all forgiven, then no other man, woman … can judge me,” Brown told Entertainment Tonight.

So to start with, Transformed Wife has a spiritual reflection this, which you can read. The Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage is rebellion against God, and Jesus tells people who sin that they are forgiven, but that they should “sin no more”. Sinning no more is hard. But what should be easy is not telling everyone that sinning is OK, like Hannah Brown did. She doesn’t think that the Bible has the authority to say NO to her feelings and desires. Already, this is a red flag for men who feel that they can’t trust a woman who is willing to throw out Bible verses when it goes against her desires.

Even among Christians, premarital sex is the rule, not the exception:

As many as 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults have had sex, according to an analysis of a study on sexual activity in the upcoming October issue of Relevant, a Christian magazine.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who identify themselves as evangelicals are almost as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, according to the article “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It.”

This study from Live Science makes clear that young people see avoiding commitment as an intended benefit of premarital sex.

Two-thirds of participants said they had been in a “friends with benefits” relationship, and 36 percent said they currently were in one. The main advantage of such a relationship was “no commitment” (reported by 59.7 percent of participants), which was followed closely by “have sex” (55.6 percent).

Let’s decide what premarital sex tells marriage-minded Christian men about a woman.

What a woman’s choice to have recreational premarital sex tells a marriage-minded man

What kind of men do women choose for recreational premarital sex? Well, they choose men who don’t commit to marriage before sex. It’s not as if women are choosing these men because they are good at commitment behaviors; sobriety, fidelity, charity, protecting children, etc. A premarital-sex woman thinks that a no-commitment man is the best man. If she thought that a marriage-minded man were best, she’d be giving him sex – after marrying him. She uses her temporary supply of youth and beauty to reward the no-commitment man for his “superiority”. What makes him superior? A bunch of superficial traits like height, tattoos, piercings, arrogance, etc. – basically, he’s fun in the moment.

The commitment man is bad, because he just wants to burden her with a “boring” marriage commitment. Commitment requires moral boundaries that would reduce her fun. For example, the commitment man might tell her “these research papers say that it’s best for our newborn if you quit your job and stay home, instead of putting them into daycare”. Or he might say, “we can’t afford your shopping” or “your smoking is bad for our baby”. And she doesn’t want to deal with this “controlling” behavior – not right now, anyway. Her youth and beauty needs to be used to chase her real priority, which is fun with the hot bad boys. Marriage is not her first priority, it’s her last resort.

Marriage-minded men can’t lead a family if they marry a woman who does not respect them

So, suppose that a woman passes up marriage-minded men during her young and pretty years. Should a marriage-minded man pursue her after she’s done having fun?

Well, what does her past decision-making reveal about her character? She prefers no-commitment men, and her goal is fun.So how can a woman who chose no-commitment men suddenly change herself completely around and start to like men with commitment skills, (chastity, sobriety, frugality, mentoring, etc.). Marriage-minded men marry in order to lead. But will a woman who prefers no-commitment men and fun allow a man she sees as “boring” and “controlling” to lead her? A wise commitment-man must choose a woman who respects his preparation for and focus on commitment.

Now the woman might say that she’s changed, and now she is ready to get serious with a real man. But what reasons does a man have to think that her change is genuine? What has she read to change her mind? What actions show that she wants a man to lead in moral and spiritual areas? What evidence is there that she is now an activist against feminism, promiscuity, abortion, divorce, socialism and single motherhood? Isn’t a man entitled to ask for some evidence of what caused her to change her mind about which men are good, and what relationships are for?

Suppose that her sudden change is just because she recognizes that her recreational premarital sex approach to getting a no-commitment man to commit hasn’t worked. So she hasn’t changed which men she is attracted to, but now she just wants financial support and the social respectability of marriage. From a man she doesn’t admire, doesn’t respect, will not support, and will not follow. Is that a good value proposition for a commitment-man?

Marriage-minded men don’t marry in order to give a woman who prefer no-commitment men financial support and social respect. We marry in order to lead a family with the support of a woman who respects our focus on marriage and commitment. We don’t trust last-second conversions to the pro-patriarchy position. We have to be convinced that a woman really repented of her past, and now has a deep, Christian understanding of men, marriage and parenting. This is a nearly impossible task given the myths about men and marriage that are floating around in this secular leftist culture of feminism and misandry. In order to accept that the woman has changed, we expect to see the work you did to change your behavior patterns and beliefs from anti-marriage to pro-marriage. I have met a few women who have done this, including some of my trusted advisors… but it’s rare.

The importance of evidence in making selfish, reckless behavior unthinkable

My female advisors are always telling me to be more positive in my writing. “You must tell women what to do after mistakes have already been made!” OK, women: the solution is simple, and it’s found in Romans 12:1-2. You have to change your criteria for men, and your vision of marriage by consuming evidence that makes your prior decisions unthinkable. You must train yourself to disregard your feelings, your desires and cultural pressure. And then you must put your new mind into practice with your actions, including promoting your new vision for men, sex and marriage to other people in public. These actions will signal to men that you are serious about marriage.

So, I’ll just link to my previous posts about peer-reviewed scientific research, which shows the scientific backing for the Bible’s teaching on this topic:

The evidence is necessary because evidence helps everyone to do the right thing, regardless of feelings, desires and peer approval.

You wouldn’t waste your money on tattoos, alcohol, cigarettes and travel if you understood the financial demands of retirement and how to invest in order to be ready for retirement. Knowledge of investing and retirement overrides feelings, desires and peer pressure. If women do not prioritize learning the “boring” evidence about best practices for men, sex and marriage, then they will decide how to live based on their feelings, desires and the culture. In a secular left culture like this, a man with chastity and a good fortune will be attracted to women who have deliberately walled off sin by strengthening their ability to be good at marriage with evidence.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, I recommend “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas and “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

William Lane Craig explains the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Probably one of the most common questions that you hear from people who don’t fully understand Christianity is this question: “why did Jesus have to die?”. The answer that most Christians seem to hold to is that 1) humans are rebelling against God, 2) Humans deserve punishment for their rebellion, 3) Humans cannot escape the punishment for their rebellion on their own, 4) Jesus was punished in the place of the rebellious humans, 5) Those who accept this sacrifice are forgiven for their rebelling.

Are humans rebellious?

Some people think that humans are not really rebellious at all, but it’s actually easy to see. You can see it just by looking at how people spend their time. Some of us have no time for God at all, and instead try to fill our lives with material possessions and experiences in order to have happy feelings. Some of us embrace just the parts of God that make us feel happy, like church and singing and feelings of comfort, while avoiding the hard parts of that vertical relationship; reading, thinking and disagreeing with people who don’t believe the truth about God. And so on.

This condition of being in rebellion is universal, and all of us are guilty of breaking the law at some point. All of us deserve to be separated from God’s goodness and love. Even if we wanted to stop rebelling, we would not be able to make up for the times where we do rebel by being good at other times, any more than we could get out of a speeding ticket by appealing to the times when we drove at the speed limit, (something that I never do, in any case).

This is not to say that all sinners are punished equally – the degree of punishment is proportional to the sins a person commits. However, the standard is perfection. And worse than that, the most important moral obligation is a vertical moral obligation. You can’t satisfy the demands of the moral law just by making your neighbor happy, while treating God like a pariah. The first commandment is to love God, the second is to love your neighbor. Even loving your neighbor requires you to tell your neighbor the truth – not just to make them feel good. The vertical relationship is more important than the horizontal one, and we’ve all screwed up the vertical relationship. We all don’t want God to be there, telling us what’s best for us, interfering with our fun. We don’t want to relate to a loving God if it means having to care what he thinks about anything that we are doing.

Who is going to pay for our rebellion?

The Christian answer to the problem of our rebellion is that Jesus takes the punishment we deserve in our place.

However, I’ve noticed that on some atheist blogs, they don’t like the idea that someone else can take our punishment for us to exonerate us for crimes that we’ve committed. So I’ll quote from this post by the great William Lane Craig, to respond to that objection.

Excerpt:

The central problem of the Penal Theory is, as you point out, understanding how punishing a person other than the perpetrator of the wrong can meet the demands of justice. Indeed, we might even say that it would be wrong to punish some innocent person for the crimes I commit!

It seems to me, however, that in other aspects of human life we do recognize this practice. I remember once sharing the Gospel with a businessman. When I explained that Christ had died to pay the penalty for our sins, he responded, “Oh, yes, that’s imputation.” I was stunned, as I never expected this theological concept to be familiar to this non-Christian businessman. When I asked him how he came to be familiar with this idea, he replied, “Oh, we use imputation all the time in the insurance business.” He explained to me that certain sorts of insurance policy are written so that, for example, if someone else drives my car and gets in an accident, the responsibility is imputed to me rather than to the driver. Even though the driver behaved recklessly, I am the one held liable; it is just as if I had done it.

Now this is parallel to substitutionary atonement. Normally I would be liable for the misdeeds I have done. But through my faith in Christ, I am, as it were, covered by his divine insurance policy, whereby he assumes the liability for my actions. My sin is imputed to him, and he pays its penalty. The demands of justice are fulfilled, just as they are in mundane affairs in which someone pays the penalty for something imputed to him. This is as literal a transaction as those that transpire regularly in the insurance industry.

So, it turns out that the doctrine of substitionary atonement is not as mysterious or as objectionable as everyone seems to think it is.