Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Calvinists and Arminians on the Problem of Evil: Who Can Say What? (Guillaume Bignon)

Christians believe that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good. But how can we reconcile belief in God with the abundance of human and animal suffering in our world? Since Christians have different beliefs about God's role in our decisions, responses will vary. In this lecture, theologian Guillaume Bignon discusses the explanations available to Calvinists and Arminians (including Open Theists, Classical Arminians, and Molinists).

In case you're not sure where you stand on the issue of free will, here's the chart from Guillaume's lecture:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Problem of Evil and the Skeptic's Dilemma

The Argument from Evil (also called the "Problem of Evil") is the most important argument against theism. But are atheists consistent when they use this argument? In this lecture, I show that atheists often employ an inconsistent methodology when they examine arguments for and against the existence of God. Demanding consistency, however, puts atheists in a dilemma (the "Skeptic's Dilemma").

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Daniel Buttafuoco: What Man Intends for Evil, God Intends for Good (Some Real Life Examples)

Here's a lecture by world-class attorney Daniel Buttafuoco on the "Problem of Evil" (the problem of reconciling God's existence with the abundance of evil in our world).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Apologetics Conference in New York This Saturday

For those of you in the New York area, we're having a conference on the Problem of Evil this Saturday (June 13, 10:00am-6:00pm) at Christ Assembly of God (47 Pacific St, Franklin Square, New York 11010). The conference is sponsored by Reasonable Faith NYC, Ratio Christi, New York Apologetics, and Acts 17 Apologetics, and the speakers include Philip Murray, Daniel Buttafuoco, David and Marie Wood, Guillaume Bignon, Paul Rezkalla, Nick Mitchell, Anthony Uvenio, and Julie Miller.

Here's the schedule:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jennifer Fulwiler: From Atheism to Christianity

Jennifer Fulwiler was a lifelong atheist. While following a number of Christian-atheist discussions, she noticed that Christians have a fuller picture of human experience. Here's her story.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yeah, I Took My Kids to See "Mad Max: Fury Road"

The Mad Max series runs on violence, and the most recent installment adds two tanks of nitrous oxide to the engine. Rafer Guzman of Newsday calls Fury Road "a sonic-speed juggernaut of violence and destruction." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune dubs it "a gargantuan grunge symphony of vehicular mayhem that makes Furious 7 look like Curious George." For Geoff Pevere of the Globe and Mail, the film is "a double-barrelled shotgun enema straight to the senses."

Here's the plot.

Following a nuclear war, vast wastelands are controlled by anyone who can get enough water and gasoline to dominate the people around him. "Immortan Joe" (Hugh Keays-Byrne) leads a cult centered around the flourishing of his own sons, many of whom have a genetic disease that requires regular blood transfusions as treatment. Mad Max (Tom Hardy), the antihero of the series, is captured and turned into a human blood bank. When "Imperator Furiosa" (Charlize Theron) is sent out in her war rig on a mission to retrieve gasoline, Immortan Joe soon realizes that she is attempting to escape, along with his five wives (called "breeders"), one of whom is pregnant. The rest of the movie is the most epic, violent, and stylized car chase in film history.

So why would I take my kids to see such a savage spectacle?

It's simple really. One of the most grievous errors of our time is that many people (especially leaders, educators, and the media) thoroughly misunderstand human nature. The prevailing view is this: Human beings are basically good and only want comfortable lives. Cruelty and selfishness arise when people are prevented from living comfortable lives. Hence, by combatting poverty and oppression, we can eventually achieve a utopia.

This is the silly perspective behind the U.S. government's insistence that we can defeat jihad by giving jobs to terrorists.

The writers of dystopic films tend to have a better grasp of human nature, and George Miller (who wrote all four of the Mad Max films) has a unique ability to peer directly into the human soul. He is somehow able to visualize what the world would be like if the current grounds of ethics and civilized behavior were to break down. The result? "The future belongs to the mad."

We live in a world that has been heavily influenced by Christianity. Even those who reject Christian doctrine have been affected by Christian teachings (e.g., "Love your neighbor as yourself," "Do unto others as you would have them them do unto you," etc.). Many atheists, thoroughly unaware of how Christianity has shaped their convictions, are convinced that their own cherished values will endure even if Christianity were completely forgotten. But the world doesn't work like that. Values may take longer to subside than beliefs, but if those values are based upon the beliefs, they cannot endure without them. Gravity has no pity on a building that has lost its foundation.

Watching a Mad Max film is like reading about certain pre-Christian societies (e.g., the Canaanites or Ammonites) and adding in modern vehicles and weapons. Sure, it's a bloody mess. But if we want our kids to understand what fallen human nature looks like, there's no better way to show them.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

JurassicGate: Chris Pratt Blasts Political Correctness

Our society claims to promote tolerance. Yet what we mean by "tolerance" nowadays seems to be "throwing a tantrum over anything that could conceivably offend anyone, until people pretend they agree on everything."

Tolerance presupposes disagreement. If I agree with your views, I don't need to tolerate them. Tolerance only comes into play when you believe something, I believe something quite different, and we want to make sure we don't start killing each other over our differences.

Yet any departure from the status quo, no matter how trivial, is now perceived as a cringeworthy offense, and is met with howling intolerance by the mindless stormtroopers of political correctness.

Chris Pratt draws attention to this unfortunate cultural degeneration in a recent Facebook post, where he apologizes for the inevitable offense he will cause in the Jurassic World press tour. Here's his scathing "apology":

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ravi Zacharias on Buddhism, Christianity, and Suffering

According to Buddhism, the source of suffering is desire. Eliminate desire, and you eliminate suffering. The goal, then, is complete detachment.

When his son was born, the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) famously declared: "A fetter has arisen." That is, he perceived his son as an obstacle to his enlightenment. The Buddha then abandoned his wife and child in order to pursue detachment.

Ravi Zacharias compares this response to suffering with the response of Christianity:
"It does not seem accidental that the night Gautama Buddha left his palace to pursue an answer to pain and suffering was the very night his wife was giving birth to their son. In his quest to eliminate suffering, he actually walked out and left his wife alone in the throes of her pain. Contrast this with the God of the Bible, who came into this world Himself in the person of His Son to suffer on the cross, to embrace pain and suffering for the sake of humanity. Buddha walked away from his son and from pain. In Christianity, God is part and parcel of the solution." (Why Suffering?, p. 131)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rodney Stark on the New Atheists

Rodney Stark
The "New Atheists" are rapidly becoming the atheistic equivalent of Westboro Baptist Church. Oddly enough, this mass of anti-intellectuals, mindlessly repeating whatever Dawkins & Co. say, happen to view themselves as champions of science and reason.

Dr. Rodney Stark has written more than 30 books and more than 140 scholarly articles and is Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences at Baylor University. Here's his assessment of the scholarly prowess of the "New Atheists":
"To expect to learn anything about important theological problems from Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett is like expecting to learn about medieval history from someone who had only read Robin Hood." (Rodney Stark, What Americans Really Believe, p. 120)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Paul Copan on the New Atheists

Paul Copan
Here's a good description of the "New Atheists" by Paul Copan:
The Neo-atheists' arguments against God's existence are surprisingly flimsy, often resembling the simplistic village atheist far more than the credentialed academician. The Neo-atheists are often profoundly ignorant of what they criticize, and they typically receive the greatest laughs and cheers from the philosophically and theologically challenged. True, they effectively utilize a combination of emotion and verbal rhetoric, but they aren't known for logically carrying thoughts through from beginning to end. Their arguments against God's existence aren't intellectually rigorous—although they want to give that impression. Yes, they'll raise some important questions concerning, for example, the problem of evil, but again, their arguments are a collage of rhetorical barbs that don't really form a coherent argument. I've observed that while these men do have expertise in certain fields (biology and evolutionary theory in the case of Dawkins and Dennett), they turn out to be fairly disappointing when arguing against God's existence or Christian doctrine. And a quick check of Dawkins's documentation reveals a lot more time spent on Google than at Oxford University's Bodleian Library. (Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, p. 17)