Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

The nature of truth is that it is absolute. The truth, by its nature, excludes hypothesis opposed to it. If something disagrees with the truth it is false. For example, if my shoes are off and I say there are on, I am wrong. If you said my shoes were off, you were right. The truth does not allow for both of us to be right. The truth stands up against scrutiny and needs no testimony other than itself. Reality orders that the truth is exclusive and anything that contradicts it is false. Therefore, the truth does not depend on what one believes. The truth corresponds accurately to reality no matter what a person’s beliefs are.

The truth can exist apart from what someone believes. For example, just because we believe something with all our heart does not mean it is true. For example, the terrorists that flew the planes into the World Trade Centers believed with all their heart- to the point of giving their life- that what they were doing was right. We know what they did was horrendously wrong.

Perception, just like belief, does not equal truth. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “perceiving” means to become aware of through the senses, or through insight or intuition. “Perception” means the knowledge gotten by perceiving. “Perception” also means the grasp of mental objects through the senses. If I perceive there is a ghost in the next room and there is not, then my perception is not reality. Perception is not truth (or reality), because people can be deceived; we are fallible. If I feel like my friend is going to die in war overseas because of an intuition (or haunch) I had and he comes home safely, my perception was not accurate.

Say, for example, one person who witnessed the JFK assassination claimed that they heard 5 shots fired at the president. Another witness perceived that only 3 bullets were fired at the president. Perception, in this case, can not possibly be reality, because it is logically impossible for there to be exactly 5 shots and exactly 3 shots at the same time. (Let’s say there were 3 shots fired). The information that one of them received from their senses, (eyes, ears, sounds and intuition) was not accurate.

If our perceptions were 100% accurate then it could be said that “perception is truth.” Reality, such as in the assassination, shows us that our perceptions are not always trustworthy. The famous quote “perception is reality,” is not true.

Likewise, our subjective feelings are not always credible. It is not prudent to base our beliefs, which should be based on objective reality, strictly on how we feel about something. For example, both of the following statements are frivolous and haphazard: “I don’t feel like there is a god, so I don’t believe there is,” and “I feel like there is a god, so I believe there is.” A truth opposed to our feelings (or beliefs) invalidates our beliefs.  Our emotional response to a claim can not be trusted like the absolute truth. When someone responds to a fact opposed to their beliefs they don’t respond to the actual credibility of the fact, they respond to how they “feel” about it. For example, people’s rejection of the existence of hell is most likely an emotional response- not a response based on the actual credibility of the fact.

It’s important to note: perceptions, intuition, feelings and emotions are very valuable to us; in fact, they are the means by which we experience life. Since we are physical beings, our life is lived existentially and experientially. We are not merely programmed drones. In no way should perceptions and feelings be invalided, but they should be known for what they are: misleading and inaccurate at times. Perceptions, etc. do not always stand up to scrutiny and can be proved wrong, as talked about in this essay. Objective truth (fact), on the other hand, is always accurate and stands up against scrutiny. The objective truth always corresponds to reality- perceptions, feelings and beliefs do not.

There are several facts that Christianity affirms that Christians would prefer not to be. Such as the inherent corruption of man and our subsequent desperate need for a Savior, the existence of hell, God’s rightful Lordship over every aspect of our life. But, we don’t get to make up facts.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.” If beliefs correspond with reality they are more than beliefs- they are facts. Integrity in a religion is vouched for by reality when it’s truth claims match actual historical events. Undergoing stringent, legitimate and thorough investigation will affirm the truth. A religion has no credibility if actual events in history are not compatible with its claims.

The truth exists despite our denial of it. For example, if my mother is dead and I choose to deny it, the truth is still truth despite my disagreement. The truth can also exist apart from our knowledge of it. For example, just because I don’t know of a small town in upstate New York called Ivory does not mean it does not exist. Right and wrong and true and false do not depend on what a person knows (or doesn’t know), they depend on facts.

To apply this to a more important idea: There can not “be a God” and “not be a God” at the same time. If one person says there is a God and another says there is not- one of them is wrong and one of them is right. To apply this to a more specific idea: Jesus can “not be God” and “be God” at the same time.”

If “truth claim A” and “truth claim X” are not compatible both can not be right. If person A says the Eagles won the game and person B says the Hawks won the game, one of them is right and one of them is wrong. Each asserts that they are right simply by making their statement. Say, the Hawks won the game and person B is right. Just because person A thinks the Eagles won does not make it true. This is simple logic. This same logic can be applied to the world religions and their different, contradicting views. Most religions exclude the “truth claims” of other religions. For example, anyone who says Christ was not God in the flesh (divine) and that He is not the only way to God says the “truth claims” of Christianity are wrong. Subsequently, they belief Christianity is false.

Contrarily, if someone says, “God created the physical world but is not part of it. He is above it and beyond it,” they are saying the “truth claims” of Native Americans beliefs are false. Subsequently, this person believes Native American “truth claims” are false. On the other hand, if a Native American philosopher says “God is inseparable from His creation. God is the trees and God is in nature,” they are, by implication, disagreeing with the Christian belief that God “created nature, but is set apart from it and is above and beyond it.”

This Christian belief is consistent with another Christian belief that God is deeply connected to humanity (He made humans out of dust and He breathed life into the first human), so much so He came down from heaven and He loves us so much that He died for us. This belief that God is set apart from nature is also consistent with the Christian belief that God interacts relationally with humans, hears and answers our prayers, intervenes in human history and cares deeply for each person. However, to say God “is nature” diminishes His nature (character), which is holiness and righteousness. He can not condone sin and is not a part of any sin, therefore, He is not intermingled with it and a partaker in it.  He can not tolerate sin, which is why Jesus was punished on our behalf  for it.

If there is one religion that is correct and someone still follows a different religion despite knowing they are wrong, that is irrational and foolish. If there were, today, one religion that was proved empirically correct and everyone in the world could touch, see and know it is true, it would be asinine not to follow that one true religion. If that person acknowledged they were wrong and thoughtfully accepted the implications that came from denying the facts, then their decision would at least have a small measure of reason. A person has the option to live according to their beliefs, even if they conflict with the truth. However, that is a flippant and apathetic view.

Nature of Truth Applied Specifically to Christianity

Christ claimed to be the Son of God and the only way to God, and the only one who can pay for our sins. Now, if those things were not true, Christians believe lies. Subsequently, like the apostle Paul says, our faith is futile. The crux of Christianity is dependent on the Divinity of Christ, His sinless life, His crucifixion, death, resurrection and His vicarious Atonement on the cross for our sins- not merely Christ’s moral principles and ethical teaching. Moral principles and teachings on ethics certainly are important to Christianity. But, if Christianity is reduced merely to a religion with good ideas among several other “good religious options”- it is worthless and based on fraud.

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis wrote, “If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.” If Christ’s claims to be God were not true the Christian faith is empty and it is based on lies. And if that were the case, as Lewis wrote, “Christianity is of no importance.” Instead, Christianity has radically different truth claims than any other religions.

C.S. Lewis also wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ This is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” Then Lewis adds: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not some up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

If Christ was not God, as He claimed He was, He was a liar. On the other hand, if Christ is God, all other religions and people that deny His Divinity are wrong. It is either “one or the other.” If Jesus is who He said He is, the implications are staggering and they have an eternal impact on every soul.

So, if Christianity is not rooted in reality and truth it loses all credibility and it becomes damningly hypocritical, because the very crux of Christianity based on the virtues of truth, honesty and integrity. If Christianity’s principles implode “right off the bat,” and its leader (Jesus Christ) lied about who He was, then all the subsequent principles implode. No prudent or wise person would dedicate their life to someone who said he was God but was only, purely, a man. (By the way, the eyewitnesses to Christ’s life, crucifixion and resurrection dedicated their lives to Christ and were killed for their beliefs. They would not have been motivated to live, and die for something they knew was not true. It is true that people die for false beliefs, but this is different since the disciples were eyewitnesses they certainly would have known if Christ died and was raised from the dead.)

Therefore, Christian’s are either crazy and delusional or they are right and followers of the one true faith. If Jesus was not God, he was a madman responsible for drumming up the greatest hoax in the history of the world.

All Religions are not talking about the “same god”

All people who speak of “god” (or a “higher being,” or “higher power) are not referring to the same god. For example, when Muslims speak of “God,” they are talking about Muhammad. When Buddhists speak of “God” they are talking about Buddha. When Christians speak of “God,” they are talking about the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) When Native Americans speak of God, they are talking about the higher spirit of oneness and connectedness between the high power, nature and all people. Each religion mentioned has a book or source they refer to that “defines” who or what they call “God.” All these religions may be using the same word to refer to “god,” however, it is clear that they are all referring to a completely different being.

People attribute many false characteristics to God by projecting their own ideas of who they want God to be or who they think He should be. People often fabricate a god who condones whatever they want to do. That inclination certainly makes sense, because we are naturally self-centered and we want to define our own God rather than find out who He is and then conform to His principles, precepts and way of life.

Christians believe the bible reveals the true character, nature and “personality” of God. Christians find in the bible that He is “Triune,” a God who is 3 in 1: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit- who are all one and all equally God. The Christian view of the nature and character of God is incompatible with Muslims, Buddhists, and Native Americans. Similarly, the Muslims view of God is incompatible (irreconcilable) and drastically different than the Christian, Native Americans and Buddhists. And the Native Americans beliefs are incompatible with the Christian’s beliefs. The bottom line is that each view of God is drastically different. Since each religion owns “truth claims” that don’t agree, just like the basketball game between the Hawks and Eagles, not all can not be correct.

Some people say “all religions and belief systems are equally valid and true; one is not better than another,” however they make like how that statement sounds, but they don’t really believe what it actually means. The person who makes that claim may as well have said, “the beliefs of the terrorists that flew the planes into the World Trade Centers is just as right and correct as the religion that promotes loving others.

If someone believes that all belief systems are equally valid and one is not better than another, they must agree with the following statement: ”The religion that believes killing and eating babies and rapping women is OK, is just as valid and true as the one that cherishes human life.” It is clear that, all religions and belief systems are not equally valid and true. And it is clear people who claim they believe that, have not considered the implications of their beliefs or the consequences of their ideas.

Each religion mentioned has certain truth claims that the whole belief system hinges on. (Most religions, oddly enough, hinge on the fact the Jesus is not God in the flesh.) If a religion’s truth claims are not true, the religion is invalid. As mentioned, Christianity depends on Christ being God and Divine, dying for our sins and being risen from the dead. Upon investigation of any religion one will find that it depends on certain things to be true and some things to be untrue.

Any “religious” or “non-religious” view takes faith to believe. We can look at the evidence, seek facts and truth and see where it leads- a prudent person will first, follow the facts, see where they lead and walk in that direction.

Until the undeniable truth is fully uncovered and visible to everyone people’s truth claims will be incompatible. Fortunately, there is a surplus of facts and evidence to base our beliefs on. The bible says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood for what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”



Read Full Post »

Chew on this:

There can only be a problem of evil if God exists.  (Gregory Koukl, Tactics: A Gameplan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, p. 138)

Argument explained:

Since God’s existence is necessary to make the notion of evil intelligible, the existence of evil cannot be used as a proof that God does not exist.  It proves just the opposite.  Simply put, if evil exists, then good exists.  If good exists, then God exists.  Ironically, the existence of evil is powerful evidence for God, not against him. (p. 141)

Read Full Post »

Favorites in…

Listening: Phil Johnson spoke recently at Omaha Bible Church, outlining the 5 major heresies that have frequented Christianity.  This message is just a survey, so if you want to hear him speak more in depth on each of the 5 heresies, go here.

Climate news: Roger Pielke Sr. outlines his position on climate sciences.  A position I see as much more rational and humble than most climate experts studying global warming.

Weather photos: This is a good one.  NASA’s Earth Observatory is celebrating their 10 year anniversary by posting their top 50 images taken over the last decade.  You vote which is your favorite.  I’m a bit disappointed in the top 50…how could they leave out Everest?  I’m voting for “Inauguration Day Crowds in D.C.”  What did you vote for?

Reading: Tony Reinke recommends an excellent and Simple Approach to Apologetics.

News: The blogosphere is abuzz with this article, so I thought I’d post it too.  A.N. Wilson, known for converting from Christianity to atheism and brushing shoulders with several other prominent atheists for 20 years, has converted back to Christianity.  His article is called “Why I Believe Again.” (HT: JT)

Read Full Post »

What is an Evangelical? The answer according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Part 2, and Part 3 from Kevin DeYoung

Tactics.  Greg Koukl discusses his new book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions with Issues, Etc radio broadcast.

Is Global Warming on hold? An article from Discovery News.

Snow in the Northeast. A beautiful satellite photo of the snow cover from Monday’s snownstorm.

ESV Online free for the month of March. Check out the best selling study Bible.

Read Full Post »

The resurrection of Jesus is

much more than a historical, philosophical issue…It is that, but it is much more.  If it happened, it changes our lives completely. (Timothy Keller,  The Reason for God, p. 202)

Is it not interesting that these simple statements can be so a part of our routine as Christians but yet feel like news (as in something new/fresh) when you hear it?  After reading this yesterday morning I went about the rest of my day meditating on it and recalling it over and over.  Every time it came to mind, it felt new, fresh, and restorative.  Let these words have some weight to them and settle into the heart and mind: “If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything.”

I think the reason these words of Keller have so much weight to them with me is because I am unfortunately inclined to think of the resurrection as only in a spiritual sense.  When I do this, I limit the gospel to being only therapeutic, meaning, seeking to be relieved from sin, guilt, and insecurities and waiting for eternal life to begin after death.  But if Jesus rose completely, spiritually and physically, then hold on!  This means that the entire course of the world, the universe, and everything physical and spiritual within it is part of the redemption process.  N.T. Wright says it better:

The message of the resurrection is that this world matters!  That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won…If Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense – then it is only about me, and finding a new dimension in my personal spiritual life.  But if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, Christianity becomes good news for the whole world – news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn’t just about warming hearts.  Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things – and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement victory of Jesus over them all.  Take away Easter and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring problems of the material world.  Take it away and Freud was probably right to say Christianity is wish-fulfillment.  Take it away and Nietzsche probably was right to say it was for wimps. (For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church, pp. 65-66)

Does anyone else feel the weight and freshness of these words?

Read Full Post »

Random notes (questions and quotes) from TH 501 with Dr. Craig Smith, Denver Seminary, 2-16-09

-God did not flip a coin to decide if faithfulness or unfaithfulness would be a virtue. Faithfulness flows from His nature. God creates consistent with His own nature.

-Could God, in his nature, have been unfaithful (rather than faithful, as He is)? If so, would unfaithfulness be a virtue?

-There are moral principles that transcend human cultures. For example, no culture eats or tortures babies. This is a moral argument for the existence of God.

-“An infinite regression of causes would be another actual infinite, so there must be an ultimate cause for the universe (who we call God).”

-“Anything which had a beginning had a cause.”

-If one part of the system (there are several) of the eye did not function the whole eye would not be able to function and would be a waste of matter and energy. This type of “design requires a designer, therefore a designer (i.e. God) must exist.” This intelligent design is evident on an intergalactic and intercellular level.

-Imagine a person who longed for something that didn’t exist. We would not know to long for something if we did know what it was. “The desire to know God is a natural human desire.” “For every natural desire, a legitimate satisfaction for that desire exists.”

-One of God’s incommunicable (not passed onto us) attributes is non-contingency. Meaning, He is not dependent or reliant on anything, like we are oxygen, food, water, etc.

-God is not His attributes. His attributes flow out of who He is.

-Is God required by His nature to love us?

Read Full Post »

More great words from Timothy Keller in The Reason for God.

Evolutionary theorists all agree that our capacity to believe in God is hardwired into our physiology because it was directly or indirectly associated with traits that helped our ancestors adapt to their environment.  That’s why arguments for God appeal to so many of us.  That’s all there is to it.  (Chapter 8, p. 136)

However, the theory of natural selection is limited in that it only produces what survives.  It has no capacity to give an account to what is actually true or make a statement on reality, but it can only “be trusted to give us cognitive faculties that help us live on,” or survive.  So if evolution can only be accurate in telling us what survives, rather than the truth, then can our reason we’ve used to deduce evolution be trusted as truth rather than what has actually merely survived?

Keller says it better:

Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it.  However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science?  If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »