Tag Archives: Persuade

Frank Turek says we should blame the church for the country’s mess

Frank Turek’s article from Townhall is right on target.

Excerpt:

Believers are God’s ambassadors here on earth, called to be salt and light in the world and to the world.  When we follow our calling, individuals are transformed and societies with them.  Our country is failing because too many believers have abandoned this calling.

They began abandoning it in earnest in the 1920’s.  That’s when an anti-intellectual movement called fundamentalism led believers to separate from society rather than reform it, and to bifurcate life into two separate spheres—the sacred and secular.  Reason was given up for emotionalism, and only activities that directly saved souls were deemed sacred.  Everything else was considered secular.  Careers in clergy and missions were glorified at the expense of everything else.  That led too many believers to leave public education, the media, law, and politics in the hands of the unbelievers.  Is it any wonder why those areas of our culture now seem so Godless?  Take the influence of God out, and that’s what you get.

[…]So if you’re a believer who is upset that life is not being protected; that marriage is being subverted; that judges routinely usurp your will; that our immigration laws are being ignored; that radical laws are passed but never read; that mentioning God in school (unless he’s Allah) results in lawsuits; that school curriculums promote political correctness and sexual deviance as students fail at basic academics; that unimaginable debt is being piled on your children while leftist organizations like Planned Parenthood and ACORN receive your tax dollars; and that your religion and free speech rights are about to be eroded by “hate” crimes legislation that can punish you for quoting the Bible; then go look in the mirror and take your share of the blame because we have not obeyed our calling.

I went to church again last night. This time, instead of giving a sermon, the pastor answered questions from the congregants that were written out and submitted over the last 4 months. Unfortunately, none of the questions were about anything remotely important, except for one on same-sex marriage. The pastor said that the Bible was against it, but he gave no non-Biblical reasons or evidence to oppose SSM.

He presented nothing at all that could be used to influence the culture outside the church. His answer was useful only for those who assumed that the Bible was already true.

I thought that it was a good idea to have a question and answer time. Some of the questions were interesting. But the majority had nothing to do with life outside of the church. (E.g. – Can we clap our hands during worship? Can we raise our hands during worship? Can divorced people attend the singles group?) I think we need more people like Frank Turek speaking in the church because what he says can be used outside of church.

You can download Turek’s debate with arch-atheist Christopher Hitchens from Apologetics 315. Ever heard anything like Turek’s opening speech in all your years of going to church? Nothing he said in his opening speech depends on the Bible being inerrant. It could all be used to persuade people who do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. The kind of people you meet at work, at school, or in the legislature.

Ever thought that the church should equip you to do that?

New Scientist: the force of gravity is fine-tuned to permit life

The article from the New Scientist is here. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The feebleness of gravity is something we should be grateful for. If it were a tiny bit stronger, none of us would be here to scoff at its puny nature.

The moment of the universe‘s birth created both matter and an expanding space-time in which this matter could exist. While gravity pulled the matter together, the expansion of space drew particles of matter apart – and the further apart they drifted, the weaker their mutual attraction became.

It turns out that the struggle between these two was balanced on a knife-edge. If the expansion of space had overwhelmed the pull of gravity in the newborn universe, stars, galaxies and humans would never have been able to form. If, on the other hand, gravity had been much stronger, stars and galaxies might have formed, but they would have quickly collapsed in on themselves and each other. What’s more, the gravitational distortion of space-time would have folded up the universe in a big crunch. Our cosmic history could have been over by now.

Only the middle ground, where the expansion and the gravitational strength balance to within 1 part in 1015 at 1 second after the big bang, allows life to form.

I know you guys look at my big list of objective evidence for Christianity, and you think “Wintery! Those evidences are not admitted by the majority of scientists!” I keep trying to tell you – my goal is to give you arguments and evidence that will work in the public square. These are mainstream evidences accepted by most or all non-Christian scientists as fact, and they used in public academic debates.

When I tell you about evidences from the big bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, etc., I am telling you evidence that should compel anyone to deny atheism, so long as they are not irrational and emotional. These are not Christian tricks. They do not address felt needs. They are not there to help you to be happy. They are not optional, depending on how you feel about them.

But there is another way to recommend Christianity to people, which is not rationally compelling, but instead relies on intuitions and experiences.

A different approach to apologetics

Some people offer Christian doctrines to others as a way of interpreting the human condition, etc. And it’s true that the Bible gives you an accurate description of your own inner life, and your rebellious attitude towards God. So these well-meaning Christians try to “persuade” non-Christians to consider whether the words of the Bible “ring true” with their intuitions and experiences.

Consider this quote from G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”:

And now we come to the crucial question which truly concludes the whole matter.  A reasonable agnostic, if he has happened to agree with me so far, may justly turn round and say, “You have found a practical philosophy in the doctrine of the Fall; very well…. If you see clearly the kernel of common-sense in the nut of Christian orthodoxy,why cannot you simply take the kernel and leave the nut? Why cannot you (to use that cant phrase of the newspapers which I, as a highly scholarly agnostic, am a little ashamed of using) why cannot you simply take what is good in Christianity, what you can define as valuable, what you can comprehend, and leave all the rest, all the absolute dogmas that are in their nature incomprehensible?” This is the real question; this is the last question; and it is a pleasure to try to answer it.

The first answer is simply to say that I am a rationalist. I like to have some intellectual justification for my intuitions. If I am treating man as a fallen being it is an intellectual convenience to me to believe that he fell; and I find, for some odd psychological reason, that I can deal better with a man’s exercise of freewill if I believe that he has got it.  But I am in this matter yet more definitely a rationalist.  I do not propose to turn this book into one of ordinary Christian apologetics; I should be glad to meet at any other time the enemies of Christianity in that more obvious arena.  Here I am only giving an account of my own growth in spiritual certainty.  But I may pause to remark that the more I saw of the merely abstract arguments against the Christian cosmology the less I thought of them.  I mean that having found the moral atmosphere of the Incarnation to be common sense, I then looked at the established intellectual arguments against the Incarnation and found them to be common nonsense.  In case the argument should be thought to suffer from the absence of the ordinary apologetic I will here very briefly summarise my own arguments and conclusions on the purely objective or scientific truth of the matter.

If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, “For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.”  I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence.  But the evidence in my case, as in that of the intelligent agnostic, is not really in this or that alleged demonstration; it is in an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.  The secularist is not to be blamed because his objections to Christianity are miscellaneous and even scrappy; it is precisely such scrappy evidence that does convince the mind. I mean that a man may well be less convinced of a philosophy from four books, than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend.  The very fact that the things are of different kinds increases the importance of the fact that they all point to one conclusion.  Now, the non-Christianity of the average educated man to-day is almost always, to do him justice, made up of these loose but living experiences.  I can only say that my evidences for Christianity are of the same vivid but varied kind as his evidences against it.  For when I look at these various anti-Christian truths, I simply discover that none of them are true. I discover that the true tide and force of all the facts flows the other way.

The problem with Chesterton’s view is that it is not rationally compelling. It is apprehended in a subjective way, depending on whether the person likes it or not. This pragmatic approach is popular today because people want to have their felt needs met. But this approach doesn’t allow you to demonstrate the truth of Christianity in the public square, using objective evidence, as Chesterton admits.

This rejection of objective apologetics has marginalized Christianity as subjective. I think we need to emphasize hard evidence. We need to have studied science, analytical philosophy, New Testament and history. We need to offer evidence that is objective, not subjective, like the fine-tuning of the gravitational force, so that our opponents are clear that Christianity is objectively true.

I think that Chesterton is a bad example for Christians to follow. In the Bible, I see Jesus constantly providing physical evidence for this claims by employing  miracles. We can do something similar to Jesus today, by leveraging past miracles, such as the fine-tuning of the gravitational force, in our public debates. We don’t need to invent new ways of evangelizing based on intuitions and experiences.

Further study

You can read more about the fine-tuning of the gravitational force from Robin Collins, who is the best we have on the topic. Collins started a Ph.D in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin, but ended up completing a Ph.D in philosophy at Notre Dame, under Alvin Plantinga, the greatest living philosopher today, in my opinion. I heard Collins speak at the Baylor ID conference in 2000.

Here is a textbook on physics and philosophy for high-schoolers written by David Snoke, a professor of Physics at University of Pittsburgh. He homeschools his own 4 children with this very book. The book contains Bible study and philosophy sections.