Thursday, April 17, 2014

Is Richard Dawkins Leading People away from Atheism?

Some people are easily swayed by cheap rhetoric, especially when they already despise the target of this cheap rhetoric. Richard Dawkins has been saying what many atheists want to say but often can't (due to pesky things like manners and civility getting the better of them).

Other people, however, are paying close attention to arguments and evidence. Those who do are finding themselves leaving the Dawkins camp.
The Telegraph—My schoolfriend Michael – an atheist for decades – rang me the other night and told me he'd returned to the Catholic Church. "And you'll never guess who converted me," he said.

"Your wife?"

"No! It was Richard Dawkins!"

He explained that he was, and is, a huge admirer of Dawkins the biologist. (I'm with him there: I read The Blind Watchmaker when it first came out and was blown away.) "But then I read The God Delusion and it was… total crap. So bad that I started questioning my own atheism. Then he started tweeting."

Like a loony on top of the bus, no?

"Exactly!"

Funnily enough, this is the second time in a week that I've heard of Richard Dawkins leading someone to Christ. Let me refer you to an article in The Catholic Herald by Francis Phillips:
Judith Babarsky, an academic … having only a “surface level” understanding of Christianity as she admits, was recommended Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion to read. She writes that when she began, she thought she would read “a logical, sceptical, nay scientific critique of religion.” Instead, she was surprised to find “strings of pejorative adjectives pretending to be argument, bald assertion pretending to be evidence, an incredibly arrogant attitude and a stance of moral equivalence incapable of distinguishing between the possible strengths and weaknesses of different religions…”

Indeed, Babarsky found Dawkins’ arguments so unsatisfactory, coupled with his own atheistic and fundamentalist stance, that they prompted her to examine for the first time what Christianity was all about. Her examination was to lead to her conversion to Catholicism. “In reading to refute Dawkins as well as educate myself … I discovered the God-man Jesus Christ. Not only did the Catholic view resonate with me emotionally but … it was intellectually honest.”
Here is a link to Babarsky's original article, with its uncompromising title:
"Reading Richard Dawkins Led to My Conversion"
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might conclude that Prof Dawkins secretly converted to Christianity decades ago, and then asked himself: "How can I best win souls? By straightforward argument, or by turning myself from a respected academic into a comic figure fulminating against religion like a fruitcake at Speakers' Corner, thereby discrediting atheism?" (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100267804/is-richard-dawkins-leading-people-to-jesus/?fb)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

John Lennox: The Origin of the Universe

Here is an excellent lecture by Oxford Professor Dr. John Lennox (session one of the Pensmore Dialogues on Science and Faith). Dr. Lennox discusses the beginning of space and time, cosmological fine-tuning, the account of creation in Genesis, and many absurd statements by scientists who try to avoid the obvious implications of our scientific data. The lecture is a little less than an hour (followed by Q&A), but it is well worth watching in its entirety.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Craig Evans Discusses Bart Ehrman's "How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee"

I just ordered my copy of Bart Ehrman's new book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, along with the response book, How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature, by Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, and Chris Tilling. While I wait for the books to arrive, here's a brief assessment by Craig Evans.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why Is Christianity Different from Other Religions?

Years ago, when my friend Nabeel was still a Muslim, my future wife (who was an agnostic at the time) came up to Nabeel and me while we were arguing about the resurrection of Jesus. Oddly enough, she said, "You're both right." I was arguing that Jesus rose from the dead. Nabeel was arguing that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. How on earth could we both be right?

While many atheists and agnostics are hostile to religious claims (and especially to Christian claims), some atheists and agnostics are a bit more friendly, regarding all religious claims as equally valid and meaningful for individuals, even if they're not objectively true. So if my religion teaches that Jesus rose from the dead, and Nabeel's religion teaches that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, we're both right, because religious claims aren't the sort of claims that are judged by normal standards of truth and falsity. What's true for me may not be what's true for you.

Needless to say, Nabeel and I were quite confused by Marie's statement. We didn't believe for a second that all religious claims were equal. We wouldn't have been arguing if we thought that!

Religions are not all the same. Christianity is different from other religions in two main ways: (1) what it teaches, and (2) what confirms it.

In the following video, Greg Koukl briefly discusses why the message of Christianity is different:


As for confirmation, God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead in order to confirm his teachings about his sacrificial death and divine nature. Christianity, then, has God's stamp of approval. Do other religions have anything like that?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Greg Koukl: Did Adam Have Libertarian Free Will?

Libertarianism is one of three main positions (the others being Hard Determinism and Compatibilism) in discussions about free will and determinism. Libertarian free will includes, at a minimum, some degree of indeterminism (the future is not completely determined by the past) and the ability to voluntarily do otherwise (i.e., a person has a genuine ability to do X or not to do X, with both options being under the control of the person's will).

In the following video, Greg Koukl discusses whether Adam had Libertarian free will.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

William Lane Craig: Theism, Atheism, and the Need for an Explanation of Objective Moral Values and Duties

Human beings tend to believe that certain actions are morally right and that other actions are morally wrong. If atheism is true, however, objective moral values and duties are illusory.

In the following video, William Lane Craig compares the explanatory power of theism and atheism with respect to objective moral values and duties.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Scott Oliphint on Apologetics, Philosophy, and Scripture

Dr. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Theological Seminary explains the relationship between apologetics, philosophy, and scripture in what he calls "Covenantal Apologetics."

PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Vince Vitale: God Is Not Dead

Oxford University philosophy professor Vince Vitale responds to the core mantra of the "New Atheists."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

David Hume on Intelligent Design

If All Religions Are True, Then God Is Cruel

drawbridgeIn 2003, the short-film Most made its way onto the big screen. A brilliantly moving piece of cinema, the film tells the story of a single father who lives with his son in the Czech Republic. The pair share simple yet content lives together. The father works as a bridge engineer—he  was responsible for raising and lowering a massive draw-bridge that allowed ships and trains to pass, at scheduled times. One day, the boy happened to be at the bridge with his father. As he’s playing outside, he notices a train rapidly approaching the station.
It was an hour early.
The bridge was up.
And the train was heading right towards it.
He yells and shouts at the window of his father’s booth, but to no avail. The train was quickly running out of track and the bridge needed to come down. Hundreds of people were potentially onboard. So the boy decides to manually lower the bridge by pulling a lever near the tracks. In a heart-stopping moment, he accidentally falls into the gear-works that enable to bridge to operate.
http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif A series of heavy, metal gears and levers surrounded his body on all sides. The flicker of movement catches the father’s eye. He turns to see his son fall into the gear-box and lie helpless there.
Realization dawns upon him.
If he lowers the bridge, the gears will crush his boy.
Left with the soul-shredding decision to kill his boy, he cries and screams and punches the wall. With only moments to deliberate, he reluctantly pulls the lever. He hears the gears turn and lets out a guttural scream.
The camera then moves and presents us with the haunting image of the boy’s lifeless corpse.
Hundreds on the train were saved, but at the biggest price to the father. He killed his son.
Now picture the same scenario, but with a twist this time. Suppose the boy had fallen into the gear-works and the train was rushing towards the raised bridge, but this time, the father had two levers: one to lower the bridge and kill his son (like in the original scenario) and one to divert the train onto an alternate track that took it over a second, parallel bridge. It would be madness for the father to choose the first lever and kill his son with the second lever being right within reach! Why on earth would he kill his son when he knows fully well that the second lever is capable of saving both the lives of all the train passengers and the life of his son? Such a decision would be utterly appalling. Only a monster would choose the first lever.
And yet this is exactly what religious pluralists make God out to be.
"All religions are true."
"All religions lead to God."
"All roads lead to the same destination."
While I can understand the sentiment of inclusivity, this idea creates an evil God. If all religions are true, then God is cruel. And not just cruel--God is an incompetent, cosmic child-abuser. If religious pluralism is true, then God is the father in the second scenario. He saw the train coming and he decided to pull the first lever and kill his son, rather than pull the second lever. If Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and all the other world religions are true paths to God, then why did God kill his Son, Jesus, in order to make a way for men to come to Him? The very notion is absurd and insulting to God. It paints a portrait of a God who is just plain cruel. He sent Jesus into the world to live a miserable life of scorn, rejection, poverty, betrayal, humiliation, sorrow, and ultimately, torture and death, in order to create a path whereby men can come to know Him, all the while knowing that following the Five Pillars of Islam or the Noble Eight-fold Path could accomplish the very same thing! What a waste! Jesus' life--God's plan of salvation-- is completely in vain for the same result could be achieved through persons simply adhering to the tenets of any world religion. God is not only cruel, but incompetent for putting into effect the worst salvation plan possible.
But God is not cruel. He is not incompetent. He would not kill his Son needlessly. He would not put into effect a ridiculous or cruel salvation plan for mankind. Hence, religious pluralism cannot be true. This does not show Christianity to be true, but it does show that not all religions can be true, for if they were, then God would not be a God of love--He would be a cosmic sadist or an incompetent guardian of the universe, or both.