Tag Archives: Blind Faith

What caused Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to abandon his Christian faith?

Here is an interview with Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”, and other anti-Christian books.


Are you religious?

Dan Brown:
I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, “I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and Earth and the animals in seven days. Which is right?” Unfortunately, the response I got was, “Nice boys don’t ask that question.” A light went off, and I said, “The Bible doesn’t make sense. Science makes much more sense to me.” And I just gravitated away from religion.

This experience is common in the workplace and in the university.

Cold case homicide detective Jim Wallace writes:

It’s both sad and frustrating that the minister in Dan Brown’s story was unable to provide a defense for the Christian view of origins. Good, critical questions should be seen as an important part of the Christian faith, but too many of us fail to see our faith as evidential. It’s so important for us to be prepared with a response for questions like those asked by Brown as a child. The Christian worldview offers insightful and power answers to questions related to cosmology, teleology and the Big Bang. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened with Brown had the minister simply been prepared.

My personal view is that even those who believe strongly in young earth creationism should be diligent to also teach their children the arguments for a Creator and Designer from mainstream, old-earth science. Mainstream science points strongly to a Creator and Designer of the universe and is compatible with a respectful interpretation of Genesis.

Here are 6 arguments that every young earth creationist should be able to defend.

  1. The Big Bang
  2. The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the Big Bang
  3. The fine-tuning needed to provide a habitable galaxy, solar system and planet
  4. The origin of biological information in the simplest living cell
  5. The sudden origin of the major body plans (phyla) in the Cambrian Explosion
  6. The limits of mutation and selection to build up specified complexity

You can read more about these mainstream scientific arguments here. If all your experience learning science apologetics comes from young earth teachers, then you probably will get a huge boost in your effectiveness in the public square by learning these arguments from mainstream science.

I am sympathetic with responsible, well-educated young earth scholars like Dr. Marcus Ross and Dr. Paul Nelson. These scholars acknowledge the real state of the evidence, but are holding out for emerging research that may vindicate their YEC views. They are good scholars, with real degrees, and they are prominent members of the intelligent design movement, which welcomes responsible young earth scholars.

On the other hand, I do not recommend the young earth popularizers like Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. Their material is not good preparation for outward-focused engagement about scientific issues. Christian apologetics today is saturated with old-earth arguments, yet virtually no Christian apologist believes in macro-evolution. Old-earth Christians debate against evolution in public all the time. In fact, they lead the fight against evolution.

Young-earth creationism is strictly targeted to Christians

I just glanced at the ICR web site and ALL THREE of their upcoming conferences are being held in CHURCHES. The Answers in Genesis Conference is being held in a church. Ken Ham’s speaking engagements are all in churches. There are no debates with scientists going on at any of these events! Young-earth creationism is strictly for homeschooling and church. It’s not field-tested for use on the battlefield!

Meanwhile, old-earthers like William Lane Craig are debating against evolution at Indiana University against the top evolutionist in the USA, Francisco Ayala. And he debated prominent New Atheist Christopher Hitchens in front of 5000 people earlier this year at Biola University, too. So you must make your choice from this information about what arguments are useful in the real world. What works in public.

Watch a debate, then decide for yourself

All young earth creationists should watch the debate between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross below. Kent Hovind has a PhD from a Patriot Bible College in Religious Education. Hugh Ross has a BS in Physics from the University of British Columbia, a MS in Physics and a PhD in Astronomy, both from the University of Toronto, one of the top universities in Canada. He did post-doctoral work at Caltech, the top graduate school for science in the world.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12
Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16

Watch the debate, then decide for yourself!


Drew explains what the church needs to do to reverse its decline, and I disagree

UPDATE: Everyone go look at Rebekah’s cute summary of the debate that Drew and I are having. It’s filled with adorable pictures that will make you smile!

Drew, who operates his own blog and also blogs at Laura’s blog Pursuing Holiness, comments on his own experiences in the church.

He writes:

But whereas Wintery Knight emphasizes the lack of apologetics in churches, I think the real problem is an overall lack of substance. In many churches, both the sermons and the music lack substance. And you have a better chance of winning the lottery than of finding a Sunday School class with meaty, intellectual teaching.

One problem is that lots of churches have given into the “seeker-sensitive” movement. This movement constitutes a corroding influence in Christianity akin to John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s influence within the Republican Party. That is, the movement tries so hard to please potential converts that it forgets to please God, and thereby cripples Christian churches from the inside. (In the long run, this dumbing down actually results in fewer converts.) The church where I officially hold membership, for example, has largely given way to this movement – to the point that it recently abolished Sunday School for all high schoolers. Apparently, learning is not a priority anymore!

Meanwhile, the simplistic worship music of the modern era often tends to lack any real doctrinal substance. Or worse, sometimes the lyrics are so poorly thought-out that they actually promote false doctrines.

The reason I emphasize apologetics is because it addresses the question “is Christianity true?”. To me, even if you go into a church that emphasizes sound doctrine in the sermon and in the singing, it’s still doctrine. And doctrine that cannot be tested cannot be believed in. At least, that’s my view! So I don’t doctrine is the whole story, but it’s part of the story.

And as soon as young people who have been raised on doctrine alone go out in the real world and it may be as useful as apologetics when are tempted to jettison their beliefs in order to be happy. I think our beliefs needed to be grounded on evidence to help us to hold up under fire. Without an emphasis on truth, these sound doctrines are just our community’s preference claims, like flavors of ice cream! They are not regarded as true objectively unless they can be tested against the laws of logic and the external world.

When they get out into the real world and feel pressured to dump their beliefs to fit in or to be happy, they are not going to constrain their actions based on the preferences claims of a bunch of church people. If you teach them preference claims, then watch out when they leave you – they will develop new preferences in a new community. Like binge drinking and hook-up sex.

The only way that a person can constrain their behavior under fire is when they actually believe that they are rationally compelled to constrain their behavior. And rational compulsion is not under the control of your will. The only way to be rationally compelled is by taking time to study issues like the existence of God and the historicity of the resurrection. Then watch some debates. That’s how you determine what is true. And you will always act on what you really believe is true. NOT just what you have been taught is true, and not what you say is true when asked.

Drew continues:

But even mainstream churches that have resisted these movements often tend to suffer from non-intellectualism. For example, most pastors have gotten into the habit of preaching three-point sermons. I’m not going to declare myself the voice of God and suggest that three-point sermons are sinful, but they do create the opportunity for pastoral laziness. I think pastors frequently take advantage of this opportunity, and wind up presenting watered-down sermons filled with extrabiblical philosophy.

I know what Drew means here, but I wish that pastors did bring in professional philosophers to discuss issues such as:

  • the problems of evil and suffering
  • the problem of the unevangelized
  • the problem of religious pluralism
  • the problem of the justice of Hell
  • the problem of hiddenness of God
  • the problem of free will vs divine foreknowledge
  • the problem of moral relativism
  • the problem of consciousness, free will and rationality
  • etc.

Not to mention the evidential arguments from science and history! And all should be capped by showing or hosting public debates to the entire church. Sound teaching alone is not sufficient to reverse the slide of the church into postmodern relativist universalist feminization. Without assessing whether these sound teachings are true, you are again just sharing your preferences in a community whose purpose is happiness, not truth.

I’ll bet Drew will oppose me here. Do your worst, Drew. You can’t beat me up any worse than Rich and Rebekah have already!

I have found is that although apologetics-oriented issues that challenge faith are popular in the culture in books by New Atheists, Bart Ehrman and even fictional authors like Dan Brown or William P. Young, the church is not interested in addressing them. And the reason is simple: we think church is about fulfilling our needs, not about truth. We would never be so dismissive of truth concerns in any other area of life that mattered.

While the entire culture is being confronted by popular challenges from apostates and atheists, we just keep quoting the Bible to our congregations so that they can be really really clear on our spiritual preferences. But as soon as they step out of the church, they will be facing actual arguments in their workplaces, and classrooms. And you know what they’ll do? They will go silent. And God is not served by that silence.

Either we are going to put public, effective evangelism using apologetics first, or we are going to put our personal feelings and self-esteem first. Either we are going to drip tears onto our apologetics textbooks because studying is hard work, or we are going to make excuses that allow us to continue business as usual at church. The dimension that is never raised in these discussions is that people don’t want to do the most effective thing to defend God’s honor. Getting preached at on Sunday with sound doctrine is easy. Singing songs is easy. But engaging your co-workers with science, philosophy and history is hard. Which one has the most impact on the non-Christian culture? I say it’s engagement.

Drew, I want you to watch this debate online, if you haven’t already:

This debate was held at Purdue University in front over 3000 university students. It is a close debate – this was no blow-out for Craig.

Now I want you to leave me a comment telling me what would happen if every Christian who goes to church were to see this debate in their main Sunday sermon. What would happen if every Christian could defend their faith like William Lane Craig? Would God benefit from it? I don’t care how many people’s pride and self-esteem would be damaged by someone smarter than they are talking. Would God benefit from it?

What does Peter say in 1 Peter 3:15?

15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

With respect to God’s purposes in the world, our happiness is expendable.

Watching debates is not even about who wins and who loses. It’s about whether Christian claims can be defended using public evidence in the real world. And if we don’t have confidence that the churchgoers should be made aware of the arguments for and against Christianity, (because we are afraid they will lose their “faith”), then we should just drop Christianity entirely.

Christianity is a fighting faith. The purpose of it is not to make people have happy feelings and community so they, (and everyone they should be evangelizing), can be comfortable on their way to Hell. It’s either true or it isn’t. And if it isn’t then we shouldn’t waste another second on it. Period.

What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19?

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Do the feminized churches believe that? THEY DO NOT BELIEVE THAT. No matter what they say, they do not really believe that at all. They may teach it as “sound doctrine”. But they do not believe that it matters whether the resurrection really happened. They don’t know or care to know if it really happened. And we know this by watching how little emphasis is put on the historical evidence for the resurrection in the church today.

Have you EVER in your entire life seen anyone speak from the pulpit about whether the evidence is good for the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead? Ever? Anyone reading this – have you ever heard the resurrection addressed using mainstream historical approaches? A talk that DID NOT assume the inerrancy of the Bible, and that could have been delivered in a university classroom or in the workplace?

What are we even doing in church if not teaching Christians how to confidently defend the belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

Am I asking too much?

Sorry to be so insistent and passionate, I hope you will take time before replying to be calm and realize that this is the passion talking, and maybe a little emotional distress, as well. I have been hurt by the church opposing me on this many, many, many times. And so have all my friends.

Please try to be charitable. I am not blaming you for this mess, but I don’t think sound doctrine alone is the answer.

Further study

Does the Bible teach that faith is opposed to logic and evidence?

Probably the biggest misconception that I encounter when defending the faith is the mistaken notion of what faith is. Today we are going to get to the bottom of what the Bible says faith is, once and for all. This post will be useful to Christians and atheists, alike.

What is faith according to the Bible?

I am going to reference this article from apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason in my explanation.

Koukl cites three Biblical examples to support the idea that faith is not blind leap-of-faith wishing, but is based on evidence.

  1. Moses went out into the wilderness and he had that first encounter with the burning bush, and God gave him the directive to go back to Egypt and let his people go. Moses said, Yeah, right. What’s going to happen when they say, why should we believe you, Moses?God said, See that staff? Throw it down.Moses threw it down and it turned into a serpent.God said, See that serpent? Pick it up.And he picked it up and it turned back into a staff.

    God said, Now you take that and do that before the Jewish people and you do that before Pharaoh. And you do this number with the hail, and the frogs, and turning the Nile River into blood. You put the sun out. You do a bunch of other tricks to get their attention.

    And then comes this phrase: “So that they might know that there is a God in Israel.”

  2. [I]n Mark 2 you see Jesus preaching in a house, and you know the story where they take the roof off and let the paralytic down through the roof. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” And people get bugged because how can anyone forgive sins but God alone?Jesus understood what they were thinking and He said this: What’s harder to say, your sins are forgiven, or to rise, take up your pallet and go home?

    Now, I’ll tell you what would be harder for me to say : Arise, take up your pallet and go home. I can walk into any Bible study and say your sins are forgiven and nobody is going to know if I know what I am talking about or not. But if I lay hands on somebody in a wheelchair and I say, Take up your wheelchair and go home, and they sit there, I look pretty dumb because everyone knows nothing happened.

    But Jesus adds this. He says, “In order that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority to forgive sins, I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and he got out. Notice the phrase “In order that you may know”.  Same message, right?

  3. Move over to the Book of Acts. First sermon after Pentecost. Peter was up in front of this massive crowd. He was talking about the resurrection to which he was an eyewitness. He talked about fulfilled prophecy. He talked about the miraculous tongues and the miraculous manifestation of being able to speak in a language you don’t know. Do you think this is physical evidence to those people? I think so. Pretty powerful.Peter tells them, These men are not drunk as it seems, but rather this is a fulfillment of prophecy. David spoke of this. Jesus got out of the grave, and we saw him, and we proclaim this to you.

    Do you know how he ends his sermon? It’s really great. Acts 2:36. I’ve been a Christian 20 years and I didn’t see this until about a year ago. This is for all of those who think that if you can know it for sure, you can’t exercise faith in it. Here is what Peter said. Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” There it is again. “Know for certain.”

What is faith according to Bible-based theologians?

I am going to reference this article from theologian C. Michael Patton of Parchment and Pen in my explanation.

Patton explains that according to Reformation (conservative, Bible-based) theologians, faith has 3 parts:

  1. notitia – This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word content. Faith, according to the Reformers must have content. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave,” for example, is a necessary information base that Christians must have.
  2. assensus – This is the assent or confidence that we have that the notitia is correct… This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition… This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon critical thought… assensus… says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”
  3. fiducia – This is the “resting” in the information based upon a conviction of its truthfulness. Fiducia is best expressed by the English word “trust.”… Fiducia is the personal subjective act of the will to take the final step. It is important to note that while fiducia goes beyond or transcends the intellect, it is built upon its foundation.

So, Biblical faith is really trust. Trust(3) can only occur after intellectual assent(2), based on evidence and thought. Intellectual assent(2) can only occur after the propositional information(1) is known.

The church today accepts 1 and 3, but denies 2. I call this “fideism” or “blind faith”. Ironically, activist atheists, (the New Atheists), also believe that faith is blind. The postmodern “emergent church” denies 1 and 2. A person could accept 1 and 2 but deny 3 by not re-prioritizing their life based on what they know to be true.

How do beliefs form, according to Christian philosophers?

I am going to reference a portion of chapter 3 of J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God With All Your Mind” (i.e. – LYGWYM).

J.P. Moreland explains how beliefs form and how you can change them.

  1. Today, people are inclined to think that the sincerity and fervency of one’s beliefs are more important than the content… Nothing could be further from the truth… As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief or how sincere I am in believing it but whether or not the belief is true. I am responsible for what I believe and, I might add, for what I refuse to believe because the content of what I do or do not believe makes a tremendous difference to what I become and how I act.
  2. A belief’s strength is the degree to which you are convinced the belief is true. As you gain ,evidence and support for a belief, its strength grows for you… The more certain you are of a belief… the more you rely on it as a basis for action.

But the most important point of the article is that your beliefs are not under the control of your will.

…Scripture holds us responsible for our beliefs since it commands us to embrace certain beliefs and warns us of the consequences of accepting other beliefs. On the other hand, experience teaches us that we cannot choose or change our beliefs by direct effort.

For example, if someone offered you $10,000 to believe right now that a pink elephant was sitting next to you, you could not really choose to believe this… If I want to change my beliefs about something, I can embark on a course of study in which I choose to think regularly about certain things, read certain pieces of evidence and argument, and try to find problems with evidence raised against the belief in question.

…by choosing to undertake a course of study… I can put myself in a position to undergo a change in… my beliefs… And… my character and behavior… will be transformed by these belief changes.

The article goes on to make some very informative comments on the relationship between apologetics and belief.