Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pastor Saeed Abedini Has Been Freed by Iran

Christian pastor Saeed Abedini (along with several others) has been freed as part of a prisoner exchange with Iran.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
CNN—Iran has freed four prisoners from the United States, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Iran's semi-official FARS news agency reported Saturday, citing Tehran's prosecutor.

According to FARS, Iran freed Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who had been held on various charges. FARS identified the fourth prisoner freed as Nosratollah Khosrawi. Details of Khosrawi's case were not immediately known.

The release is part of a prisoner swap deal in which the United States reportedly freed seven Iranian-Americans held on charges related to sanctions against Iran, FARS said. The news agency had previously said the U.S. was to release six prisoners.

"Based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the general interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal," FARS quoted the office of the Tehran prosecutor as saying. (Continue Reading.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fact-Checking Sam Harris 1: Islam and the Virgin Birth

Sam Harris recently said that he wants to correct every error he's ever made, and that people should send him any errors they find in his works. One of Sam's errors was made on "The Colbert Report," where he insisted that, according to the Qur'an, anyone who believes in the virgin birth of Jesus will spend eternity in hell. Since Islam affirms the virgin birth of Jesus, we can only wonder how much Sam really knows about the religions he discusses in his books and lectures.


***UPDATE*** Sam Harris responded: "I meant that Quran asserts Jesus wasn't divine. I misspoke." Odd to give a reply about Jesus' deity when Colbert was talking about the virgin birth, but it's entirely possible to misspeak while the cameras are rolling and you don't have much time to think about what you're saying.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Advice for Future Apologists

In 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are commanded: "In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." From the Greek word for "give an answer" comes the word "apologetics."

Christians are commanded to be apologists. But how do we go about this? In this video, seven experienced Christian apologists (Douglas Groothuis, Gary Habermas, Craig Hazen, Mike Licona, Nabeel Qureshi, Mary Jo Sharp, and Frank Turek) share their thoughts.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Craig Blomberg: Jesus in Non-Christian Sources

While all Historical Jesus scholars go to the New Testament to learn about Jesus, ancient non-Christian sources report a number of facts as well. Interestingly, the facts we learn about Jesus in non-Christian sources support the Christian view of Jesus.

In this short video, Dr. Craig Blomberg shares the details we learn about Jesus from non-Christian sources.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Privileged Species

Are humans the accidental products of a blind and uncaring universe? Or are they the beneficiaries of a cosmic order that was planned beforehand to help them flourish? The Privileged Species is a 33-minute documentary by Discovery Institute that explores growing evidence from physics, chemistry, biology, and related fields that our universe was designed for large multi-cellular beings like ourselves. Featuring geneticist and author Michael Denton, the documentary investigates the special properties of carbon, water, and oxygen that make human life and the life of other organisms possible, and it explores some of the unique features of humans that make us a truly privileged species.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Information Enigma

Even the simplest life requires a tremendous amount of genetic information, so the amount genetic information required for the diversity of life in our world is simply unfathomable. Is it reasonable to assume that this information arose through unguided naturalistic processes? Or does the evidence point to an intelligent designer?

The Information Enigma is a fascinating 21-minute documentary that probes the mystery of biological information, the challenge it poses to orthodox Darwinian theory, and the reason it points to intelligent design. The video features molecular biologist Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, author of the books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ami Horowitz Enlists Yale Students to Sign Petition to Repeal the First Amendment

Yale University, one of the nation's most prestigious schools, member of the Ivy League, founded to be a beacon of "Lux et Veritas," and alma mater of five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, hundreds of members of Congress, and several foreign heads of state, lately finds itself a big, warm, fuzzy nest for the ignorant and self-referentially inconsistent.

In less than an hour, satirist Ami Horowitz is able to recruit 50 Yale students to sign a petition seeking to repeal the First Amendment. In case you need a little refresher, the First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Yes, that's right. Fifty Yalies just signed a petition to repeal their right to petition. Maybe their new motto could be "Tuta Custodia," except that's in Latin, which is elitist and rude.

If you're in the mood for a cringe-inducing horror show, watch "Ami on the Street: Do We Really Need the 1st Amendment?" highlighting Horowitz's encounters with these "enlightened" minds as they sign their rights away, sincerely thanking Horowitz for the opportunity to do so.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Leibniz’ Contingency Argument (William Lane Craig)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz(1646-1716) was a philosopher, scientist, and mathematician who wrote in seven languages and co-discovered calculus (along with Isaac Newton). One of his arguments for the existence of God may be summarized as follows:
(1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.

(2) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

(3) The universe exists.

(4) The explanation of the universe's existence is God.
Here's an excellent short video on this argument by Reasonable Faith (William Lane Craig's apologetics ministry).

Friday, December 11, 2015

God, Science, and Atheism

As Dr. Lawrence Principe notes, "The idea that scientific and religious camps have historically been separate and antagonistic is rejected by all modern historians of science." Nevertheless, the idea that science and religion are in conflict remains extremely popular, thanks to certain politically motivated works written in the 1800s and a variety of more recent claims (most notably by the "new atheists"). Yet even a brief consideration of the views of the leaders of the scientific revolution and of history's most important scientists shows not only that belief in God has been quite prevalent among scientists, but also that it has been a driving force in their discoveries. This video presents a number of quotes to illustrate the true relationship between science and religion.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Great Commission for Apologetics (1 Peter 3:15...Get it Straight)

David and I have just come back from a week of philosophy and apologetics conference sessions. There was no shortage of the oft-quoted, passion-instilling, lock-yourself-in-a-room-to-read-Plantinga inducing slogan for apologetics that is 1 Peter 3:15—“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” I’ve seen and heard this phrase quoted more times than I can count. It has essentially become the Great Commission for Apologetics.
The exhortation is simple: Christians need to be ready to defend what they believe. This verse provides the biblical charge for Christians to engage in apologetics. But this is not all that we are commanded to do in 1 Peter 3:15. The beginning portion of the passage is rarely, if ever, quoted as a charge to those engaging in apologetics. Yet it provides the foundation for apologetics! Without it, apologetics is utterly useless.
Here is the entire passage, in context:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
The first thing we are commanded to do is to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts. This is the foundation for our apologetic. To “set apart” Christ as Lord means to acknowledge that he holds the reins in every area of our lives. We ought to dedicate and consecrate our hearts for God, making Jesus the Lord of our desires, motives, inadequacies—all of who we are. This makes our apologetic more than a mere intellectual exercise; it’s an opportunity to defend the hope we have within us.
We must first have this hope before we defend it. If Christ is not the foundation of our lives from which our apologetic can spring forth and produce fruit, then it is done in vain. All the long hours of study avail nothing if they are not built upon the foundation of who Christ is and what he has done in our lives.
Defending the faith cannot simply be an intellectual pursuit for the faithful apologist; it must be an earnest endeavor to make Christ, the hope of glory, known to those around us. Our defense should stem from the lordship of Christ, who is our hope. Because God has made us “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3), we can build our apologetic on this very hope. This is the hope we need to express, articulate, and defend to those who ask us. This hope should drive our apologetic.
And because Christ is Lord in our lives, we can fulfill the end of the passage, as well: “do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” That part essentially speaks for itself. No senseless quarreling. No name calling. No outbursts of rage. We must present ourselves and our arguments with gentleness and respect, always seeking to truly understand opposing positions and being charitable in our responses.
To sum it up, the Great Commission for Apologetics gives us three commands:
1. Set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.
2. Be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope within you.
3. Do this with gentleness and respect.
The next time you feel the urge to quote 1 Peter 3:15, it might be helpful to share the whole passage. Then let the late nights studying Plantinga commence.