Tag Archives: Christianity

The story of the Wintery Knight blog so far…

Those of you who have been reading the blog know that the blog is split between Christian apologetics and policy analysis. Here’s a little list of the topics that I have touched on related to Christian apologetics, with topics yet to appear later in italics.

Positive apologetics

Scientific arguments for theism:

  • the creation of the universe out of nothing (Warning: SNARKY)
  • the fine-tuning of physical constants and ratios to support the minimal requirements for life (Warning: SNARKY)
  • the origin of biological information in the simplest living organism
  • galactic, stellar and planetary fine-tuning to support the minimal requirements for life
  • the sudden origin of all animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion
  • the natural limits of biological change

Philosophical arguments for theism:

  • the moral argument
  • the argument from evil
  • the origin of non-physical mind, rationality and free will

Historical arguments for Christianity

Negative apologetics

Scientific objections:

Philosophical objections

Emotional objections

Moral issues

Mentoring

Apologetics advocacy

Is one true religion even possible?

Dr. Walter L. Bradley
Dr. Walter L. Bradley

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Walter Bradley’s lecture about the scientific evidence for an Creator and Designer of the universe. Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here) is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor, and a great example of the integration of Christian faith and a stellar academic career.

Is there truth in religion?

Another one of Bradley’s lectures is on the question “Is There Objective Truth in Religion?“. In the lecture, he describes a book by Mortimer Adler, called “Truth in Religion”. In the book, Adler makes a distinction between two kinds of “truth”.

  1. Trans-cultural truth – also known as objective truth. This is Adler’s term for the correspondence theory of truth. A claim is true if and only if it is made true by corresponding to the state of affairs in the mind-independent external world. It is irrelevant who makes the claim. The claim is either true or false for everyone, e.g. – “the ice cream is on the table”. Either it is, or it isn’t, for everyone.
  2. Cultural truth – also known as subjective truth. This is Adler’s term for claims that are arbitrarily true for individual and groups of subjects. For example, your personal preference for a certain flavor of ice cream, or the cultural preference for a certain style of dress or cooking. The claim is true for the person or group, e.g. – “I/we prefer chocolate ice cream and wearing tuxedos”.

The question that Bradley addresses in the lecture is: are religious claims trans-cultural truth or cultural truth?

Why do people want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective?

People want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective because religious claims differ, and people lack the courage to tell some group of people that their beliefs about the world are wrong. By reducing religion to personal preference, no one is wrong, because everyone who believes in any religion, or no religion, is just expressing their own personal preferences.

But, if religious truth claims are trans-cultural claims, e.g. – the universe began to exist, then some religions are going to be wrong, because religions disagree about reality. It’s possible that no religion is right, or that one religion is right, but it is not possible that they are all right because there is only one reality shared by all people. Religions make contradictory claims about reality – so they can’t all be true.

Suppose religious claims are trans-cultural? How would you test those claims?

I credit E.J. Carnell with a test for truth that I still use today. It is the same test used by Adler and Bradley.

  1. Logical consistency (the claim cannot violate the law of non-contradiction)
  2. Empirical verification (the claim is verified against the external world)

Adler says that other trans-cultural truth claims, such as those from math and science, must all pass the test for logical consistency, as a minimum. And so with religion, if it is like math and science. Once a proposition passed the test of the law of non-contradiction, then you can proceed to step 2 and see if it is empirically verified.

Adler surveys all the major religions in his book, and concludes that only 3 of them – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – pass the test of the law of non-contradiction. He ends the book by recommending to seekers that they proceed to evaluate the historical claims of these 3 religions, in order to see which if any passes the empirical tests.

Conclusion

Bradley concludes with the claim of the resurrection of Jesus could be investigated using historical methods, in order to decide which of these 3 religions might be true, if any. He also mentions the stories of a few people who performed the investigation and changed their initial opinion of the resurrection in the face of the historical evidence.

Related posts

I blogged previously about whether the Bible teaches that faith is opposed to reason and evidence and William Lance Craig’s refutation of postmodern sketicism of religion. I also blogged about scientific and historical evidence that could also be used to test religious claims. My post on N.T. Wright’s view of the resurrection may also prove useful.

Also, a good debate between a Christian and a postmodern relativist on truth in religion is here.

William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens debate LIVE FEED

UPDATE: My play-by-play transcript of the April 4, 2009 debate at Biola is here.

Got this in e-mail from Biola University, regarding the upcoming William Lane Craig vs Christoper Hitchens debate.

YOU MUST ACT FAST—to set up a viewing site for your church, Bible study, family, or neighborhood! Debate takes place on Saturday, April 4.

The “Does God Exist” Debate is almost completely sold out at Biola University . Nearly 4,000 people will be seeing it live. But the demand is tremendous from all over the world to view this debate as it happens between one of the finest Christian philosophers alive today, Dr. William Lane Craig, and Christopher Hitchens, who is one of the most outspoken atheists in a century.

Live Broadcast:

  • Saturday, April 4
    7:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time (10:30 pm Eastern)

Re-broadcasts:

  • Sunday, April 5
    4:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time (7:00 pm Eastern)
  • Wednesday, April 8
    5:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time (8:00 pm Eastern)

Deadline for sign up:
Monday, March 30, 11:59 pm PDT.

HOW DO I SIGN UP?
1) Just log on to the registration web site: http://www.apologeticsevents.com/debate
2) Agree to the terms, pay the viewing fee, and receive a code to log into the broadcast
3) Use your equipment to put it on a nice monitor, screen, or projector, invite everyone at your church, and enjoy!

Look here for more information, FAQ, and pricing information ($98):
http://www.apologeticsevents.com/debate

If anyone’s church is hosting a feed, please post a comment below.

UPDATE: I analyze Hitchens’ case against God here, from his debate against Frank Turek.

UPDATE: Audio and video from a  panel discussion with Hitchens, Craig, etc. is linked here.

UPDATE: Information about live-blogging of the debate is here.

Why Obama’s big government socialism leads to secularism

I have been browsing on a few forums, including forums that discuss Christian apologetics. Imagine my surprise when I encountered pro-Obama, pro-socialism statements by people who are supposed to be informed about these issues.

Well, I found an article over at Mercator Net, (an Australian web site), which might be useful for Christians who are sympathetic with Obama’s pacifism, redistribution of wealth and creeping fascism. I want to argue that his policies are inconsistent with Christianity.

First of all, the article notes that Obama did gain a significant number of votes  from religious Christians.

In 2008, according to CNN exit polls, Obama won forty-three percent of the presidential vote among voters who attend religious services once a week or more, up from Senator John Kerry’s thirty-nine percent in 2004. Obama did especially well with Black and Latino believers. But he also made real inroads among traditional white Catholics, according to a recent article by John Green in First Things.

The article describes Obama’s spending, (which I discussed here), and then comments on the significance of that spending for religious institutions, like churches and charities.

To fund his bold efforts to revive the American economy and expand the welfare state, Obama is proposing to spend a staggering $3.6 trillion in the 2010 fiscal year. Obama’s revolutionary agenda would push federal, state, and local spending to approximately 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product, up from about 33 percent in 2000. It would also put the size of government in the United States within reach of Europe, where government spending currently makes up 46 percent of GDP.

Why is this significant for the vitality of religion in America? A recent study of 33 countries around the world by Anthony Gill and Erik Lundsgaarde, political scientists at the University of Washington, indicates that there is an inverse relationship between state welfare spending and religiosity. Specifically, they found that countries with larger welfare states had markedly lower levels of religious attendance, had higher rates of citizens indicating no religious affiliation whatsoever, and their people took less comfort in religion in general. In their words, “Countries with higher levels of per capita welfare have a proclivity for less religious participation and tend to have higher percentages of non-religious individuals.”

The article goes on to explain the chain of casusation from big government to secularization. Read the whole thing.

But this should be no surprise when you recall Nobel prize winning economist F. A. Hayek’s thesis in his landmark book “The Road to Serfdom”. His thesis is that the natural endpoint to all systems of government that control the means of production is fascism.

Fascism is a left-wing ideology, in which the state substitutes its own values, meanings and purposes for the values, meanings and purposes of individuals. There is no such thing as fascism on the right, because people on the right are free market capitalists who prefer small government and individual liberty.

To see how fascism destroys individual liberty and freedom of conscience, consider:

  • Obama’s plan to force hospital workers to perform abortions against their conscience
  • Obama’s forcing of taxpayers to pay for abortions here and abroad against their conscience
  • Obama’s forcing of taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research against their conscience
  • Obama’s forcing of students to attend government run schools instead of private schools of their choice
  • Obama’s discrimination against religious schools in his spendulus bill
  • Obama’s plan to force some workers to join unions against their will and fun left-wing union political activism against their will
  • Obama’s forcing individuals to let Washington run their health-care

I could go on. And on. And on and on and on. But the point is that electing a socialist put us on the road to fascism. As IBD notes, socialists want to force-feed (podcast audio) their worldview onto an unwilling populace by any means – from government-run schools to news media.

I think that Christians need to do a much better job of understanding how our religious liberty hangs on small government and the free market. And remember: this crisis that Obama is “fixing”: it’s the Democrats who caused it, while Republicans tried to stop it.

Richard Dawkins cites German professor as authority on historical Jesus

Well, if this doesn’t show the sad state of affairs in the world of militant activist atheism, I don’t know what does.

In Chapter 3 of “The God Delusion”, Dawkins cites a professor of German, G. A. Wells, as an authority on the historical claim that Jesus did not exist.

“It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all, as has been done by, among others Professor G. A. Wells of the University of London in a number of books, including Did Jesus Exist? Although Jesus probably existed.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p.122

Now, there is not one single person in the universe who has a Ph.D in history would take this view in peer-reviewed published work. Not one. Yet Dawkins cites a professor of German to make his case. If this were handed in as part of university assignment, Dawkins would get a big red “F” for FAIL from me.

Rev. Philip Brown comments on Wells’ credibility on historical matters here:

What Dawkins fails to mention is that Professor G. A. Wells from the university of London is NOT a professor of History, Religion, Theology, Philosophy, Literature, or even Anthropology; all subjects that we would be expect him to be an expert in? No! G. A. Wells is the Emeritus Professor of German at Birkbeck, University of London. While Wells does hold a degree in Philosophy his field is in language. Why does Dawkins mention that Wells is a professor and indeed one at the university of London, but fail to mention that Wells is a professor in a field that has noting to do with expertise in assessing validity of historical figures?

Unbelievable. Here is a list of the virtually indisputable facts about Jesus, from respected, skeptical, non-Christian scholars like Norman Perrin and E. P. Sanders. That is how serious people do scholarship. But maybe militant activist atheism is not about scholarship at all.

Here is N.T. Wright’s list from the same page. N.T. Wright taught on the historical Jesus at Oxford, Cambridge, McGill (Canada) and Duke. That is what we call historical scholarship.

– Born in 4 B.C.E.
– Grew up in Nazareth in Galilee
– Spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, and probably Greek.
– Was initially associated with John the Baptist, but emerged as a public figure in his own right around 28 C.E.
– Summoned people to repent.
– Used parables to announce the reign of Israel’s god.
– Conducted itinerant ministry throughout villages of Galilee.
– Effected remarkable cures, including exorcisms, as enactments of his message.
– Shared in table fellowship with a socioculturally diverse group.
– Called a close group of disciples and gave twelve of them a special status.
– Performed a dramatic action in the temple.
– Incurred the wrath of some elements in Judaism, especially among the high priestly establishment.
– Was handed over by this powerful Jewish element to the Romans to be crucified as an insurrectionist.
– Was reported by his followers to have been raised from the dead.

Resources to respond to the proposal that Jesus never existed are here.