Tag Archives: Faith

What can you learn by reading apologetics books?

For beginning apologists, I wanted to recommend a series of 3 books designed to give you coverage of most of the issues. Each book is a collection of short chapters designed to introduce you to the various areas that are likely to come up in disputes.

Here they are:

  1. “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel
  2. “Passionate Conviction” edited by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan
  3. “Contending with Christianity’s Critics” edited by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan

I just wanted to show you the table of contents so that you could get an idea about what you might learn by reading through these books.

The Case for a Creator

Here is the table of contents. (Watch the book’s DVD on YouTube)

  1. White-Coated Scientists Versus Black-Robed Preachers
  2. The Images of Evolution
  3. Doubts About Darwinism: An Interview with Jonathan Wells
  4. Where Science Meets Faith: An interview with Stephen C. Meyer
  5. The Evidence of Cosmology: Beginning with a Bang; An interview with William Lane Craig
  6. The Evidence of Physics: the Cosmos on a Razor’s Edge; An interview with Robin Collins
  7. The Evidence of Astronomy: The Privileged Planet; An interview with Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards
  8. The Evidence of Biochemistry: The Complexity of Molecular Machines; An Interview with Michael J. Behe
  9. The Evidence of Biological Information: The Challenge of DNA and the Origin of Life; An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer
  10. The Evidence of Consciousness: The Enigma of the Mind; An Interview with J.P. Moreland
  11. The Cumulative Case for a Creator

Passionate Conviction

Here is the table of contents. (Sample chapter in a PDF)

PART 1 WHY APOLOGETICS?

  • In Intellectual Neutral by William Lane Craig
  • Living Smart by J. P. Moreland

PART 2 GOD

  • Why Doesn’t God Make His Existence More Obvious to Us? by Michael J. Murray
  • Two Versions of the Cosmological Argument by R. Douglas Geivett
  • The Contemporary Argument for Design: An Overview by Jay W. Richards
  • A Moral Argument by Paul Copan

PART 3 JESUS

  • Revisionist Views about Jesus by Charles L. Quarks
  • What Do We Know for Sure about Jesus’ Death? by Craig A. Evans
  • Jesus’ Resurrection and Christian Origins by N. T. Wright

PART 4 COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS

  • Christianity in a World of Religions by Craig J. Hazen
  • The East Comes West (or Why Jesus instead of the Buddha?) by Harold Netland
  • Christ in the New Age by L. Russ Bush
  • Islam and Christianity by Emir Fethi Caner

PART 5 POSTMODERNISM AND RELATIVISM

  • The Challenges of Postmodernism by J. P. Moreland
  • Is Morality Relative? by Francis J. Beckwith
  • Reflections on McLaren and the Emerging Church by R. Scott Smith

PART 6 PRACTICAL APPLICATION

  • Dealing with Emotional Doubt by Gary R. Habermas
  • Apologetics for an Emerging Generation by Sean McDowell

Contending with Christainity’s Critics

Here is the table of contents. (Sample chapter in a PDF)

PART 1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

  • Dawkins’s Delusion by William Lane Craig
  • At Home in the Multiverse? by James Daniel Sinclair
  • Confronting Naturalism: The Argument from Reason by Victor Reppert
  • Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain? by Michael J. Murray
  • The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism by Mark D. Linville
  • Dawkins’s Best Argument Against God’s Existence by Gregory E. Ganssle

PART 2 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

  • Criteria for the Gospels’ Authenticity by Robert H. Stein
  • Jesus the Seer by Ben Witherington III
  • The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line by Gary R. Habermas
  • How Scholars Fabricate Jesus by Craig A. Evans
  • How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament? An Examination of Bart Ehrman’s Claims by Daniel B. Wallace
  • Who Did Jesus Think He Was? by Michael J. Wilkins

PART 3 THE COHERENCE OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

  • The Coherence of Theism by Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty
  • Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One by Paul Copan
  • Did God Become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation by Paul Copan
  • Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution by Steve L. Porter
  • Hell: Getting What’s Good My Own Way by Stewart Goetz
  • What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism by David P. Hunt

Before you can mount a detailed defense on any of these questions, it helps to be able to recognize them all!

By the way, you can get a head start on the first one if you just connect to YouTube and watch the movies “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet”.

Peer-reviewed paper says there is no atheistic explanation for the Cambrian explosion

Story from the Discovery Institute.

A new peer-reviewed paper has been published that concludes that there is no material explanation for the massive amounts of information introduced during the Cambrian explosion, when all of the phyla came into being in the blink of an eye, geologically speaking, with no fossilized precursors.

Excerpt:

Thus, elucidating the materialistic basis of the Cambrian explosion has become more elusive, not less, the more we know about the event itself, and cannot be explained away by coupling extinction of intermediates with long stretches of geologic time, despite the contrary claims of some modern neo-Darwinists.

Once again, the progress of science brings light.

The DI post goes on to cite another passage from the paper:

Beginning some 555 million years ago the Earth’s biota changed in profound and fundamental ways, going from an essentially static system billions of years in existence to the one we find today, a dynamic and awesomely complex system whose origin seems to defy explanation. Part of the intrigue with the Cambrian explosion is that numerous animal phyla with very distinct body plans arrive on the scene in a geological blink of the eye, with little or no warning of what is to come in rocks that predate this interval of time. The abruptness of the transition between the ‘‘Precambrian’’ and the Cambrian was apparent right at the outset of our science with the publication of Murchison’s The Silurian System, a treatise that paradoxically set forth the research agenda for numerous paleontologists — in addition to serving as perennial fodder for creationists. The reasoning is simple — as explained on an intelligent-design t-shirt.

Fact: Forty phyla of complex animals suddenly appear in the fossil record, no forerunners, no transitional forms leading to them; ‘‘a major mystery,’’ a ‘‘challenge.’’ The Theory of Evolution – exploded again (idofcourse.com).

Although we would dispute the numbers, and aside from the last line, there is not much here that we would disagree with. Indeed, many of Darwin’s contemporaries shared these sentiments, and we assume — if Victorian fashion dictated — that they would have worn this same t-shirt with pride.

Here is the reference for the paper:

(Kevin J. Peterson, Michael R. Dietrich and Mark A. McPeek, “MicroRNAs and metazoan macroevolution: insights into canalization, complexity, and the Cambrian explosion,” BioEssays, Vol. 31 (7):736 – 747 (2009).)

I linked before to a bunch of easy-to-understand videos that explain the Cambrian explosion. That post has a link to another peer-reviewed research paper written by Stephen C. Meyer, on the Cambrian explosion.

Christian parents: be sure to encourage your children to do the best they can in science, and push them to go on to graduate school to earn their Ph.Ds. We really need to have people working on these problems who are not wedded to the pre-supposition of atheism. We need to have people who are open-minded and willing to go wherever the evidence leads.

Further study

One of my favorite resources on the origin of life is this interview from the University of California with former atheist and origin of life researcher Dean Kenyon. Kenyon, a professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, wrote the textbook on “chemical evolution”, which is the view that chemicals can arrange themselves in order to create the first living cell, without intervention.

This interview from the University of California with another origin of life researcher, Charles Thaxton, is also one of my favorites.

You’ll need Quicktime to see the videos, or buy the videos from ARN. (Kenyon, Thaxton) I have both of them – they rock!

Stephen Meyer explains the design of DNA at the Heritage Foundation

THIS IS A MUST-SEE VIDEO!!!

The Heritage Foundation is by far my favorite think tank. If any of my readers have a blog, and you would like to get into policy a little bit, I highly recommend them. My Christian readers may be worried that think tanks are too focussed on fiscal conservatism and that they neglect foreign policy and social conservatism, including faith issues. You will not have that problem with the Heritage Foundation.

This time, they hosted one of my top 5 Christian scholars, Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, so that he could give a lecture to the public about the evidence for an intelligent designer of DNA.

The video and audio of the lecture is posted here, at The Foundry. (H/T The Discovery Institute)

I have seen Meyer give this lecture live. He steals his children’s toys to explain DNA to people! I am begging you: do not be afraid of learning about scientific evidence. Watch the lecture!!! And then watch it again!!!

Information about Dr. Meyer from that page:

Stephen C. Meyer is Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.  Dr. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin of life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

And you can listen to a wonderful podcast with Stephen Meyer, too!

This episode of ID the Future tells the story of how philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer first began his quest for the origin of life. How did one of the architects of the intelligent design movement move from the oilfields of Texas to the study halls of Cambridge to pursue the mystery of where biological information originated? Listen in and find out. The new book, Signature in the Cell, tells the rest of the story, the culmination of over 20 years of study and research on the origins of life.

I wrote about the evidence for intelligent design in the cell here, using a paper published by Stephen Meyer. Watch the lecture, and read the paper.

Don’t forget to bookmark the Heritage Foundation’s blog!

Further study

One of my favorite resources on the origin of life is this interview from the University of California with former atheist and origin of life researcher Dean Kenyon. Kenyon, a professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, wrote the textbook on “chemical evolution”, which is the view that chemicals can arrange themselves in order to create the first living cell, without intervention.

This interview from the University of California with another origin of life researcher, Charles Thaxton, is also one of my favorites.

You’ll need Quicktime to see the videos, or buy the videos from ARN. (Kenyon, Thaxton) I have both of them – they rock!

Paul Ryan explains the vision of conservativism

Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan

This article is long! You will have to print it out and read it in little bits. It took me 15 minutes to read!

The title is “How Will Conservatism Become Credible Again?”. Paul Ryan is one of the “ideas” conservatives in the Congress. His job is to think up new bills and initiatives that reflect conservative ideals.

Let’s learn about America

Here, he talks about how the conservative vision of government values liberty and personal responsibility over equality of outcomes and “social justice”:

Nowhere was the Western tradition epitomized more memorably than in the Declaration of Independence. By “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” all human beings are created equal…not in height, or skills, or knowledge, or color, or other nonessentials…but equal in certain inalienable rights – to live, to be free, and to fulfill their best individual potential, including the right to the “material” such as property needed to do this. Each individual is unique and possesses rights and dignity. There are no group or collective rights in the Declaration. Nor does basic human equality imply “equal result.” It means “equal opportunity”: every person has a right not to be prevented from pursuing happiness, from developing his or her potential. The results should differ from one to another because “justice” or “fairness” gives each individual what each has earned or merited.

The great conservative purpose of government is to secure these natural rights under popular consent. Protecting every person’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness should be the great and only mission of legitimate government.

He talks about how the Constitution’s purpose is to enable prosperity through free market capitalism:

The authors of the Constitution surrounded economic freedom with a multitude of guarantees: freedom of contract against government interference… private property rights… patents and copyrights…standard weights, measures, and monetary values…punishment of counterfeits…freedom under law for interstate and foreign commerce…enforcement of agreements in law courts… uniform bankruptcy laws, and other protections.

They promoted Smithian free markets to produce resources for strong military defenses and to keep America free of economic dependency on other nations. But they also expected commercial life to encourage certain moral qualities: personal responsibility to work, save, create businesses, hire employees, pay off their debts, earn the rewards of merited effort, moderate appetites, practice honesty and justice in business dealings, self-discipline, industriousness, timeliness, plus trust and confidence in other persons.

And he talks about how America is a country where social conservatives and fiscal conservatives should be united:

A “libertarian” who wants limited government should embrace the means to his freedom: thriving mediating institutions that create the moral preconditions for economic markets and choice. A “social issues” conservative with a zeal for righteousness should insist on a free market economy to supply the material needs for families, schools, and churches that inspire moral and spiritual life. In a nutshell, the notion of separating the social from the economic issues is a false choice. They stem from the same root.

Did you know that Republicans believe in the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the public expression of faith? These values were present at our founding, and Republicans hold to them because they are American values.

Since America’s first political principles establish a high but limited mission of securing the natural rights of all, conservatives should expect government to fulfill that entire mission…by enforcing every human being’s natural right to life, which is the first clause of the social compact that formed America, the Declaration of Independence.

A credible conservatism will also seek to secure the privileged legal status of marriage. The traditional family must be protected as the indispensable mediating institution for developing the moral qualities of a free people.

A credible conservatism will resist the purging of faith from the public square. It will make public space for the practice of faith because belief is a central pillar of a free and prosperous society. Nor can government welfare programs substitute for the faith-based love that unites citizens in free bonds of charity and compassion.

Recommended for my readers from at home, or abroad, who need a refresher on the vision of conservatism… or a breath of fresh air from the fetid leftist gasses emanating from the White House.

More articles on conservatism from the New Ledger are here.

We haven’t forgotten our principles.

Robert P. Murphy explains why he is public about his faith

I am always appreciative of Christian scholars who are can rise to the top of their professions without hiding their faith. One top economist is Robert P. Murphy, author of the best entry-level economics textbook out there, called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism“. Rob also has a new book out called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal“.

Recently, Rob posted about why he is public about his faith, especially given the discomfort felt by the many famous economists that he works with.

Excerpt:

I remember when I was an atheist, I was extremely uncomfortable one time when a guy’s wife asked me if I knew Jesus….

In contrast, what I do is make my views known on this blog (or in public forums if it is appropriate), and I have even restricted the Jesus talk to Sundays. I absolutely love it when a bunch of you regular readers say things like, “Jeez Bob, you’re a good economist and very logical on a lot of things, but you went off the deep end with this God stuff.” So that’s part of my point in doing it, is to show that I think the doctrines of Christianity make sense and are logical. I utterly reject the idea–which many simple Christian folk have advanced–that you shouldn’t think too much about Biblical matters, or that you shouldn’t use your reason when contemplating God.

This is exactly my view as well. I like to tell people what I believe and why as I get to know them, then leave it up to them to come back to me with questions.For me this serves two purposes: 1) That person will know that at least one smart person (me) still believes in Christianity and 2) That person will have a resource in case they decide to try to respond to God’s seeking after them.

Further study

For more about integrating your vocation and your faith, and being a public Christian where you work, check out these posts from my index of apologetics.

Mentoring

Apologetics advocacy