Monday, December 2, 2013

Daniel Wallace: Recent Discoveries of NT Manuscripts

Daniel Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and world-renowned textual critic, discusses the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts. Scholars now have access to over 5,700 Greek manuscripts and more are being discovered every year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Is Morality Objective?

gavelMartin Luther King Jr. once said, “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.(1)” He helped build the Civil Rights movement upon these moral laws: whites are not superior to blacks and discrimination based upon skin color is wrong. Dr. King believed that morality was objective: it was wrong to oppress non-whites regardless of both the government’s position on the issue and the opinion of millions of Americans.
Now, most of us agree with Dr. King about the equal treatment of human beings. That goes without saying. But committing to the idea of objective morality? That’s another story. I’d like to argue that we all believe morality is objective, even if we don’t think we do. To say that morality is objective is to say that there are some moral facts about the world. Facts, by definition, are true regardless of whether or not people agree with them. An action can be wrong even if those who perform that action believe it to be right. Let’s start with this question: Are there any facts, at all? Certainly!
Arithmetic:
  • 2+2=4
  • 1+1=2
  • 7 is greater in quantity than 4
Geometry:
  • In a right triangle, the square of the 1st leg plus the square of the 2nd leg is equal to the square of the hypotenuse: a^2 + b^2 = c^2\!\,
  • A square has 4 equal sides and 4 right angles.
Logic:
  • X cannot be non-X at the same time and in the same sense (Law of Non-Contradiction).
  • A ball cannot be both green all over and red all over.
  • A bachelor is unmarried.
It’s clear that there are facts. Facts are objectively true, by definition. Their truth does not depend on our agreement with them. People disagree with facts all the time. I live in NYC. We have no shortage of crazy people on the subway claiming that the human race is being subtly infiltrated by aliens, or that the moon is actually a giant WMD put in place by the Russian government. Do their wacky theories nullify the fact that the moon is a real, cosmic entity? Of course not. Facts are facts. They are judgment-independent. Now, the next question to ask is whether or not there are moral facts. It seems that the answer is, yes. There are some moral facts that hold true regardless of whether or not we agree with them. Let’s take this, for example:
Philosopher Michael Ruse says, “The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5.”(2)
Is it wrong to rape children? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then morality is objective because ‘wrongness’ can only be determined when measured against some independent standard. Saying that child rape is a moral act is not the same as saying that vanilla is a tasty flavor of ice cream. Choosing vanilla over rocky-road is a matter of preference whereas the issue of child rape is a matter of ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness.’ But in order for there to be ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness,’ there needs to be an objective standard. This means that the child rapist is wrong, even though he may sincerely believe that he is right. Because morality is objective, we are justified in saying that the child rapist is wrong. If morality is not objective, then there is no basis for labeling actions as wrong (or right). At most, even the worst behaviors could only be considered socially disadvantageous or acting out of fashion.
What evidence is there for objective morality?
I believe that the best evidence for objective morality comes from our moral experience. We know that raping children is wrong. It’s not just socially inconvenient or out of fashion, it is really wrong. How do we know? In the same way we know all metaphysical truths: We just know.
1. We know that the external world is real.
We are not in a matrix, we are not all in a dream, and we are not brains in a vat being stimulated by a crazy scientist creating the illusion of our external world.
2. We know that the past is real.
The world was not created 2 minutes ago and given the appearance of billions of years of age. I was not created 30 seconds ago and implanted with 21 years’ worth of memories.
These truths are unlearned and self-evident. We cannot test them. They simply exist. And the same goes with moral facts. There is no scientific evidence for the truth of the statement “Raping children is wrong,” but it is true, nonetheless. We are justified in trusting our moral experience in the absence of contrary evidence. Why should we distrust our moral intuition if there is no evidence to the contrary? And if we choose to distrust our intuition with regard to morality, then what makes us think that our intuition about these other metaphysical truths is correct?
Maybe we are living in the matrix. Who knows?

1. Martin Luther King Jr. in Peter Holloran, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (New York: Warner Books, 2000), p. 10.
2. Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended (London: Addison-Wesley, 1982), p. 275.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

5 Common Objections to the Moral Argument

The Moral Argument for the existence of God has been graced with a long tradition of defense from theistic (and atheistic!) philosophers and thinkers throughout the history of Western thought…and a long tradition of misunderstandings and objections by even some of the most brilliant minds. To be fair, the argument is not always as intuitive as theists like to think it is. Essentially, the moral argument seeks to infer God as the best explanation for the objective moral facts about the universe. 
One of the more popular formulations is as follows:

  1. Objective morality cannot exist unless God exists.
  2. Objective morality exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.
There are a host of common objections that are usually blown in the direction of this argument, but for the sake of brevity, I will only deal with five.

1. “But I’m a moral person and I don’t believe in God. Are you saying that atheists can’t be moral?”

The moral argument has nothing to do with belief in God. No proponent of the moral argument has ever argued that an individual cannot be moral unless they hold belief in God. Rather, the argument deals with grounding, or substantiating, objective morality. If God does not exist, then there can be no basis for objective morality. Sure, atheists can be moral. In fact, I know several atheists who are more moral than some theists! The issue of belief is not pertinent to the argument. The argument simply highlights the fact that there must be a basis– some kind of standard–that is outside of ourselves, in order for there to be objective morality. This objection makes a category error of confusing a question of moral ontology (Is there a moral reality?) with moral epistemology (How do we come to know or believe in the moral reality?).

2. “But what if you needed to lie in order to save someone’s life? It seems that morality is not absolute as you say it is.”

We’re not talking about absolute morality here. There is an important difference  between  absolute  and objective. Absolutism requires that something will, or must, always be the case. Objectivity simply means ‘mind-independent’ or ‘judgement-independent’. When I argue for objective morality, I’m not arguing that it is always the case that lying or killing are wrong; the moral argument does not defend absolute morality. Rather, it contends that there is a standard of morality that transcends human opinions, judgments, biases, and proclivities. Let’s suppose that some nation today decreed that everyone of its homosexual citizens would be tortured to death simply for being homosexual; it would still be the case that, ‘It is wrong to torture homosexuals to death simply for being homosexual’.

The statement, ’It is wrong to torture homosexuals to death simply for being homosexual’ is true, regardless of whether or not anyone believes it to be true. This is what is meant byobjective.

3. ‘Where’s your evidence for objective morality? I won’t believe in anything unless I have evidence for it.’

Well in that case, you shouldn’t believe that I exist. You shouldn’t believe that your parents gave birth to you. You shouldn’t believe that your closest loved ones are real, actual persons who matter and have feelings. You shouldn’t believe that the external world around you is actually there. After all, how do you know that you are not a brain in a vat being electrically stimulated by a crazy scientist who wants you to think that all of this is real? You could be in the matrix, for all you know (take the blue pill)! How do you know that you weren’t created a couple minutes ago and implanted with memories of your entire past life? How could you possibly prove otherwise?

See where this is going? Denying the existence of something on the basis of, ‘I will not believe unless I have evidence for it’ leaves you with solipsism. We believe in the reality of the external world on the basis of our experience of the external world, and we are justified in believing that the external world is real unless we had good evidence to think otherwise. There is no way to prove (empirically or otherwise) that the external world is real, or that the past wasn’t created 2 minutes ago with the appearance of age, and yet we all believe these to be true and are justified in doing so. In the absence of defeating evidence, we are justified in trusting our experience of the external world. In the same way, I think we can know that objective morality exists on the basis of our moral experience. We have access to moral facts about the universe through our moral intuition. Unless we have good reason to distrust our moral experience, we are justified in accepting the reality of the objective moral framework that it presents us with.

4. ‘If morality is objective, then why do some cultures practice female genital mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and other atrocities which we, in the West, deem unacceptable?’

There can be two responses given here:

The first response is that even though not all cultures share the exact same moral facts, most embrace the same, underlying moral values. For example, there are certain tribes that practice senicide (authorized killing of the elderly) due to their belief that everyone in the afterlife will continue living on in the same body that they died with. Thus, in order to ensure that those in the afterlife are capable of hunting, swimming, building houses, etc., the elderly are killed before they become too old to take care of themselves. This act is done with the well-being of the elderly in mind. The moral value that we hold in the West- ”The elderly are valuable and must be taken care of”- is also accepted by these tribes, even though their facts are slightly (well, maybe more than slightly) off.

The second response is that some cultures do, in fact, practice certain things that are straight up morally abominable. Cultures that practice infanticide, female circumcision, widow burning, child prostitution, etc. are practicing acts that are repulsive and morally abhorrent. When a man decides to have his 6-year old daughter circumcised or sold into prostitution, that is not a cultural or traditional difference that we should respect and uphold, rather these are atrocities that need to be advocated against and ended. The existence of  multiple moral codes does not negate the existence of objective morality. Are we to condone slavery and segregation since they were once allowed under our country’s moral code? Of course not. We condemn those actions, and rightly so.

Take the example of Nazi Germany: the Nazi ideology consented to the slaughter of millions, but their actions were wrong despite them thinking that they were right. Tim Keller summarizes this point succintly:
The Nazis who exterminated Jews may have claimed that they didn’t feel it was immoral at all. We don’t care. We don’t care if they sincerely felt they were doing a service to humanity. They ought not to have done it. We do not only have moral feelings, but we also have an ineradicable belief that moral standards exist, outside of us, by which our internal moral feelings are evaluated.
Simply because a society practices acts that are contrary to what is moral does not mean that all moral codes are equal. Moral disagreements do not nullify moral truths.

5. ‘But God carried out many atrocities in the Old Testament. He ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.’

For starters, this isn’t really an objection to the moral argument. It does not attack either premise of the argument. It is irrelevant, but let’s entertain this objection for a second. By making a judgement on God’s actions and deeming them immoral, the objector is appealing to a standard of morality that holds true outside of him/herself and transcends barriers of culture, context, time period, and social norms. By doing this, he/she affirms the existence of objective morality! But if the skeptic wants to affirm objective morality after throwing God out the window, then there needs to be an alternate explanation for its basis. If not God, then what is it? The burden is now on the skeptic to provide a naturalistic explanation for the objective moral framework.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gospel of John (Visual Bible)

The Gospel of John is the fourth of the canonical Gospels. This 2003 film version is a word-for-word adaptation from the Good News Bible.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are We Ready to Deny Objective Morality? 3 Implications of Doing So...

The idea that we’re living in a culture of relativism seems to be uncontested and accepted without question. Post-modernists and relativists assume that we've progressed past the rigid constraints of ‘truth’, ‘falsity’, ‘reason’, and other oppressive concepts that actually undergird the fabric of rationality in the universe. However, I’m not convinced that we are truly living in a relativistic society—we still express outrage at moral injustices. This gives me hope that the West acknowledges some moral truths and is unwilling to deny objective morality. We are not ready to collapse into moral relativism because doing so would result in consequences that are simply impossible to live with.

If we deny objective morality:

1. Moral Judgments are Unjustified

When you get rid of objective morality, you get rid of moral facts. When you get rid of moral facts, you get rid of your right to say that an action is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ because ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ only make sense in light of a standard that exists outside of ourselves.

‘Rape is wrong!’

‘Executing gays is wrong!’

‘Female genital mutilation is wrong!’

These are true statements. They are not simply expressions of our subjective likes and dislikes. When a man rapes a woman, he is not merely acting contrary to our sensibilities, he is breaking a moral rule that holds true regardless of our opinions and judgments. But if we say that there is no objective morality, we obliterate our grounds for saying that anything is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Morality becomes reduced to ‘I like that’ or ‘I dislike that’. You like vanilla but I like chocolate. It makes no sense to say that vanilla is objectively better than chocolate because ice cream is a matter of preference. In the same way, when we deny objective morality we can only say things like, ‘I dislike rape’. Our likes and dislikes cannot bear the weight of providing justification for moral judgments. Who are you to enforce your preferences on others?

2. Social Reformation is Impossible

Social Reformation can only happen when a society improves its morals. When slavery was outlawed in the US, moral progress took place. When a nation outlaws the execution of gays, that is moral progress. When a nation outlaws human trafficking and child prostitution, that is social reformation. We use the terms ‘progress’ and 'improvement' to denote an upgrade in the moral status of a society. ‘Progress’ entails betterment. But ‘progress’ is only meaningful when we are appealing to a standard; otherwise, why not call these simply social ‘changes’? Yes, changes are taking places in these societies, but what makes these changes better? We call them reformations because wrong actions that were once accepted and endorsed by societies, have now become outlawed. But again, we are appealing to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. And we can't do that if morality is simply a human or social construct.

3. The Problem of Evil Disappears

Lastly, the Problem of Evil hinges on the existence of evil. Raping women, executing gays, and forcing children into prostitution are moral evils. Thus, when we get rid of ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ we disavow the Problem of Evil as meaningless for the problem only makes sense if there really are such things as good and evil—right and wrong. If evil is simply a social construct subject to the predilections and preferences of individuals, then we cannot speak meaningfully about injustices and evils because they don't really exist. There is no more Problem of Evil.

There's much more that can be said about what would be lost if we give up the idea of objective morality but it seems that, at least for now, despite our relativistic proclivities in Western society, we do understand that there really are right and wrong actions--certain things really are moral or immoral. And for that, we should be grateful.

N. T. Wright: What Is the Gospel?

Jesus taught his followers many things, especially in the realm of ethics (see Matthew 5-7 for examples). However, the core of his message concerned the coming of the Kingdom of God, made possible through his death on the cross and verified by his resurrection from the dead.

Here's N. T. Wright on the message of the Gospel:

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Inner Life of the Cell

The process of life arising naturally from non-life is called "abiogenesis." From the fourth century BC through the nineteenth century AD, some scientists and philosophers believed that certain forms of life arise spontaneously (e.g., that maggots arise from decaying meat). This theory, called "Spontaneous Generation," was decisively refuted in a series of experiments by Louis Pasteur (and others). 

Nevertheless, many scientists became convinced that, under certain conditions, a living cell can arise from nonliving molecules. However, this view only became popular because scientists believed (incorrectly) that living cells were relatively simple structures (little blobs of protoplasm). The following video shows how unimaginably mistaken this assumption was:


Of course, most biologists continue to believe that life arose from non-life. But this simply shows how reluctant people are to give up established theories (even when those theories only became established because of false assumptions).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Introduction to Cosmic Fine-Tuning

In order for you to be reading this post right now, the fundamental structure of the universe has to be finely-tuned for intelligent life. The forces, principles, and constants of physics, certain physical quantities, the ratios between the masses of atomic particles, and the properties of elements and compounds have to be just right, or you wouldn’t be here.

Here's a short introduction to the fine-tuning of the cosmos:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

William Dembski: Intelligent Design, the Design Argument, and Special Creation

There is no small amount of confusion concerning the terms "Intelligent Design," "Design Argument," and "Special Creation." Indeed, while some critics use the terms interchangeably (or assume that someone who defends one of these views must be defending all of them), the positions are quite different in what they purport to show.

Intelligent Design is the argument that certain features of our world are best explained by appealing to intelligence, even though the identity of the designing intelligence remains open. (Contrary to the claims of many atheists, David Hume was an advocate of Intelligent Design.) The Design Argument is the argument that certain features of our world are best explained by appealing to God as designer. Special Creation is the claim that God created the world in a particular way (usually in some way that lines up with the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis).

In this video, William Dembski defines Intelligent Design and contrasts his position with the Design Argument and Special Creation.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Science and the Book of Genesis

Among Christians, there are several views of how God created the world and life (most commonly, Young Earth Creation, Old Earth Creation, and Theistic Evolution). Not surprisingly, there are also several interpretations of the Book of Genesis.

In the following video, a group of Christian scholars (including Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, and N. T. Wright) argue that Genesis should be interpreted as a response to various creation myths common when the book was written.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fred Hoyle, Carbon, and Cosmological Fine-Tuning

Life as we know it requires carbon. But carbon is somewhat miraculous, given the precise features of the cosmos necessary for its existence.

In this video, theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne describes the search for the origins of carbon in our universe, and how the discovery led astronomer Fred Hoyle to reject chance as an explanation for cosmological fine-tuning. Hoyle eventually wrote:
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. (Fred Hoyle, "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections")

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mike Licona: The A, B, Cs . . . Ds, and Es of Defending the Gospels

In this lecture, Historical Jesus scholar Michael Licona addresses the five major objections to the historical reliability of the New Testament Gospels: Authorship, Bias, Contradictions, Dating, and Eyewitness Testimony.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why Doesn't God Give Us More Evidence?

This is an objection that I hear often:

If God really wants everyone to believe in Him, then why doesn't He give us some more evidence?

William Lane Craig provides a brilliant response.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Former Porn Star Brittni Ruiz (aka Jenna Presley) Finds God

She was known as the "World's Hottest Porn Star." 

"It's been a long seven-year journey of porn, prostitution, stripping, drugs, alcohol and several failed suicide attempts."

Hear Brittni Ruiz (stage name: Jenna Presley) share how God encountered her and transformed her life. 

"…Thank you Jesus. I found him, I'm home!"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Is Morality Objective?

gavelMartin Luther King Jr. said, “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.(1)” He helped build the Civil Rights movement upon these moral laws: whites are not superior to blacks and discrimination based upon skin color is wrong. Dr. King believed that morality was objective: it was wrong to oppress non-whites regardless of both the government’s position on the issue and the opinion of millions of Americans. 

Now, most of us agree with Dr. King about the equal treatment of human beings. That goes without saying. But committing to the idea of objective morality? That's another story. I'd like to argue that we all believe morality is objective, even if we don't think we do. To say that morality is objective is to say that there are some moral facts about the world. Facts, by definition, are true regardless of whether or not people agree with them. An action can be wrong even if those who perform that action believe it to be right. Let’s start with this question: Are there any facts, at all? Certainly!

Arithmetic:
  • 2+2=4
  • 1+1=2
  • 7 is greater in quantity than 4


Geometry:
  • In a right triangle, the square of the 1st leg plus the square of the 2nd leg is equal to the square of the hypotenuse: a^2 + b^2 = c^2\!\,
  • A square has 4 equal sides and 4 right angles.


Logic:
  • X cannot be non-X at the same time and in the same sense (Law of Non-Contradiction).
  • A ball cannot be both green all over and red all over.
  • A bachelor is unmarried.

It’s clear that there are facts. Facts are objectively true, by definition. Their truth does not depend on our agreement with them. People disagree with facts all the time. I live in NYC. We have no shortage of crazy people on the subway claiming that the human race is being subtly infiltrated by aliens, or that the moon is actually a giant WMD put in place by the Russian government. Do their wacky theories nullify the fact that the moon is a real, cosmic entity? Of course not. Facts are facts. They are judgment-independent. Now, the next question to ask is whether or not there are moral facts. It seems that the answer is, yes. 

There are some moral facts that hold true regardless of whether or not we agree with them. Let’s take this, for example:

Philosopher Michael Ruse says, “The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5."(2)

Is it wrong to rape children? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then morality is objective because 'wrongness' can only be determined when measured against some independent standard. Saying that child rape is a moral act is not the same as saying that vanilla is a tasty flavor of ice cream. Choosing vanilla over rocky-road is a matter of preference whereas the issue of child rape is a matter of 'rightness' and 'wrongness.' But in order for there to be 'rightness' and 'wrongness,' there needs to be an objective standard. This means that the child rapist is wrong, even though he may sincerely believe that he is right. Because morality is objective, we are justified in saying that the child rapist is wrong. If morality is not objective, then there is no basis for labeling actions as wrong (or right). At most, even the worst behaviors could only be considered socially disadvantageous or acting out of fashion.

What evidence is there for objective morality?

I believe that the best evidence for objective morality comes from our moral experience. We know that raping children is wrong. It’s not just socially inconvenient or out of fashion, it is really wrong. How do we know? In the same way we know all metaphysical truths: We just know.

1. We know that the external world is real.
We are not in a matrix, we are not all in a dream, and we are not brains in a vat being stimulated by a crazy scientist creating the illusion of our external world.

2. We know that the past is real.
The world was not created 2 minutes ago and given the appearance of billions of years of age. I was not created 30 seconds ago and implanted with 21 years’ worth of memories.

These truths are unlearned and self-evident. We cannot test them. They simply exist. And the same goes with moral facts. There is no scientific evidence for the truth of the statement “Raping children is wrong,” but it is true, nonetheless. We are justified in trusting our moral experience in the absence of contrary evidence. Why should we distrust our moral intuition if there is no evidence to the contrary? And if we choose to distrust our intuition with regard to morality, then what makes us think that our intuition about these other metaphysical truths is correct?

Maybe we are living in the matrix. Who knows?

1. Martin Luther King Jr. in Peter Holloran, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (New York: Warner Books, 2000), p. 10.
2. Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended (London: Addison-Wesley, 1982), p. 275.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Robot Rape?

Kenji was part of an experiment involving several robots loaded with custom software designed to let them react emotionally to external stimuli. After some limited environmental conditioning, Kenji first demonstrated love by bonding with a a stuffed doll in his enclosure, which he would embrace for hours at a time. He would then make simple, but insistent, inquiries about the doll if it were out of sight. Researchers attributed this behavior to his programmed qualities of devotion and empathy and called the experiment a success... 
The trouble all started when a young female intern began to spend several hours each day with Kenji, testing his systems and loading new software routines. When it came time to leave one evening, however, Kenji refused to let her out of his lab enclosure and used his bulky mechanical body to block her exit and hug her repeatedly. The intern was only able to escape after she had frantically phoned two senior staff members to come and temporarily de-activate Kenji.... 
Dr. Takahashi admits that they will more than likely have to decommission Kenji permanently, but he’s optimistic about one day succeeding where Kenji failed.
 “This is only a minor setback. I have full faith that we will one day live side by side with, and eventually love and be loved by, robots,” he said.
Read the rest of the article here
Think about this for a second. Suppose the robot had assaulted the woman. 
Could we put it on trial? 
Could we hold it morally responsible for its actions? 
Should we be shocked at what it did? 
Nope. Robots don't have control over what they do. They simply carry out the functions that they were programmed to do--be they for good or for ill. You have good robots like C3PO and then you have robots like Kenji. But at bottom, there is no difference. They are simply doing what they were programmed to do. They have no control--no choice. 
If Naturalism is true, then we are like these robots. We have no ability to pick our actions. We simply "dance to our DNA", as Richard Dawkins says. And every event is the product of particles set in motion from the start of the universe! That means we have no free will, no moral responsibility for immoral actions, and no morality, at all. 
Scary thought.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Does Evolution Undermine Morality?

Evolution has shaped our evaluative judgments to the point that we are not justified in believing that there really are mind-independent moral facts. The atheist might respond and say that it was evolutionarily beneficial for humans to detect moral truths--our ability to grasp truth has aided us in our survival.

"According to the tracking account, making certain evaluative judgments rather than others promoted reproductive success because these judgments were true. But let's now look at this. How exactly is this supposed to work? Exactly why would it promote an organism's reproductive success to grasp the independent evaluative truths posited by the realist? The realist owes us an explanation here. It is not enough to say, "Because they are true."...Consider truths about a creature's manifest surroundings--for example, that there is a fire ranging in front of it, or a predator rushing toward it. It is perfectly clear why it tends to promote reproductive success for a creature to grasp such truths: the fire might burn it to a crisp; the predator might eat it up. But there are many other kinds of truths such that it will confer either no advantage or even a disadvantage for a given creature to be able to grasp them." 
-Sharon Street 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Did Jesus Exist?

Some skeptics, who argue for the use of scholarship, reason, and research in our endeavor to determine truth, like to make radical claims that fly in the face of all scholarship, reason, and research. One such claim is that Jesus never existed.

In this video, an atheist radio host interviews New Testament historian Bart Ehrman (liberal agnostic) and thinks he has an ally in his "Jesus myth" nonsense. Well, he has another thing comin'.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Philosophers have offered several versions of the "Cosmological Argument" for God's existence. These arguments attempt to move from the existence of the universe (or from some fact about the universe as a whole) to a cause of the universe. One popular version is called the "Kalam Cosmological Argument," championed in recent years by William Lane Craig. The Kalam Cosmological Argument typically proceeds in two steps. First, a case is made for a cause of the universe:

1. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

Second, it is argued that the cause of the universe must have attributes that are typically ascribed to God (e.g., timelessness, immateriality, etc.).

Here's a short video explaining the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Darwin's Epistemological Nihilism

So the lack of empirical evidence for Darwin's notion of slow, incremental evolutionary change demonstrated in the Cambrian explosion, while significant in itself, may not be as devastating as the deeper doubt he expressed to Graham nine months before his death. What a sad note upon which to conclude one's life -- in the end, his own theory negated itself!
The epistemological nihilism inherent in Darwin's theory ultimately becomes the refutation of every Darwinist. If we are the chance products of Darwin's undirected processes from our purported ape-like ancestors, what possible convictions could any of us have regarding our own "certainties"?
Others before me have noted the self-refuting nature of Darwinism, but it is worth remembering that the Cambrian explosion wasn't Darwin's only doubt. Intellects governed by Darwin's "law of higgledy-piggledy," as the great astronomer John Herschel once called it, cannot speak with much conviction about anything. In a "higgledy-piggledy" world, what are the standards of objective truth for the "convictions of a monkey's mind"?
-Michael Flannery
- See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/07/darwins_other_d074911.html#sthash.2I97ZzG1.dpuf

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What is the Euthyphro Dilemma?

Bill Craig responds to the Euthyphro Dilemma:

-Is something good because God wills it?

Or

-Does God will something because it is good?


Sunday, July 21, 2013

A. J. Ayer's Near-Death Experience

Sir Alfred Jules Ayer (A. J. Ayer to most of us, but "Freddie" to those who knew him) was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, remembered primarily for his defense of the (now discredited) verification principle associated with Logical Positivism. Ayer was also one of the century's premier defenders of atheism, regarding the statement "God exists" as meaningless (though also regarding the statement "God does not exist" as meaningless). He debated the Jesuit philosopher Frederick Copleston, with whom he eventually became close friends.

In 1988, while hospitalized for pneumonia, Ayer choked on a piece of fish, went into cardiac arrest, and was dead for four minutes. After being revived, he wrote about his experience in an article titled "What I Saw When I Was Dead":

. . . The only memory that I have of an experience, closely encompassing my death, is very vivid.

I was confronted by a red light, exceedingly bright, and also very painful even when I turned away from it. I was aware that this light was responsible for the government of the universe. Among its ministers were two creatures who had been put in charge of space.

These ministers periodically inspected space and had recently carried out such an inspection. They had, however, failed to do their work properly, with the result that space, like a badly fitting jigsaw puzzle, was slightly out of joint.

A further consequence was that the laws of nature had ceased to function as they should. I felt that it was up to me to put things right. I also had the motive of finding a way to extinguish the painful light. I assumed that it was signaling that space was awry and that it would switch itself off when order was restored.

Unfortunately, I had no idea where the guardians of space had gone and feared that even if I found them I should not be able to communicate with them.

It then occurred to me that whereas, until the present century, physicists accepted the Newtonian severance of space and time, it had become customary, since the vindication of Einstein's general theory of relativity, to treat space-time as a single whole. Accordingly, I thought that I could cure space by operating upon time.

I was vaguely aware that the ministers who had been given charge of time were in my neighborhood and I proceeded to hail them. I was again frustrated. Either they did not hear me, or they chose to ignore me, or they did not understand me. I then hit upon the expedient of walking up and down, waving my watch, in the hope of drawing their attention not to my watch itself but to the time which it measured. This elicited no response. I became more and more desperate, until the experience suddenly came to an end. . . .

Ayer's story spread rapidly, and he ended up downplaying the impact the experience had on him. However, Dr. Jeremy George, who was attending Ayer the night of his temporary death, suggested that Ayer's Near-Death Experience affected him much more deeply than he later let on. Dr. George describes his exchange with Ayer:

Very discreetly, I asked him, as a philosopher, what was it like to have had a near-death experience? He suddenly looked rather sheepish. Then he said, "I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various books and opinions."

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Supremacy of Christ

Taken from a sermon by John Piper.

What Is the Central Message of the Bible?

The Bible is a collection of 66 books spanning more than 14 centuries of writers. Not surprisingly, it contains stories about numerous people and addresses a variety of topics. But is there a central message in the Bible that runs through all 66 books? D. A. Carson answers:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Are There So Many Translations of the Bible?

There are dozens of Bible translations available in English. However, since these different translations are often called "versions," some people think that Christians have Bibles on their shelves with completely different teachings.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Any translation of the traditional Christian canon will have the same 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament), and any accurate translation will feature all of the major doctrines associated with Christianity.

Why, then, are there so many translations? The books of the Bible were originally written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Hence, any team of translators with a background in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (and some serious time on their hands) can put out a new Bible version.

In the following video, Ed Gravely discusses whether having numerous Bible translations is a problem for Christians.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daniel Wallace: Are the New Testament Manuscripts Reliable?

It's quite common to hear critics of the Bible say things like "The New Testament we have today is just a translation of a translation of a translation" or "The Gospels were written centuries after the events they report." Such claims reveal the ignorance of many of the Bible's critics!

In the following videos, New Testament scholar Daniel B. Wallace explains why we can trust the New Testament manuscripts in our possession.

PART ONE

PART TWO

Monday, June 24, 2013

Evolution and Monogamy

Many are quick to label a person who strays from his or her marriage or relationship as a "cheater," but it's really not that simple. It's time for our culture to wake up and smell the sex pheromones: monogamy is not natural for many, or probably even most, humans. With people living longer than ever before, a greater tolerance toward the human impulse to experience sexual variety is needed. Whether a person succeeds at being sexually monogamous depends as much on biology as environment.History and biology suggest that strict monogamy, which has social advantages, is not a "one size" fits all proposition...Human monogamy is influenced by many factors. Instead of pointing fingers or acting morally superior toward those who stray from marriages, we should recognize that strict sexual fidelity is a lofty but perhaps fundamentally doomed aspiration. No two individuals, and no two couples are alike, and we should respect that.
Read the rest of the CNN article here.


Since when does society take its cues from animals? Animals eat their young, practice forcible copulation, enslave weaker species, and perform other behaviors that we would find morally reprehensible if done by human beings. Monogamy has always been something that set human beings apart from the animal kingdom. Monogamy reflects our rationality and ability to know and live by objective moral truths. If a man decided to cheat on his wife of 20 years, we would call him a horrible, senseless jerk! And with good reason. We understand that morality trumps our natural proclivities and inclinations. When we allow our evolutionary tendencies to dictate our morality, we end up with no morality whatsoever. Evolutionary-beneficial behaviors often conflict with what we know to be moral truths. Should we then reshape and redefine our moral truths? Of course not. Rather, we should abandon the notion that 'gene makes keen'. Biological tendencies do not necessarily coincide with moral truths. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Moral Objection to Miracles

If the direct action of God, independent of secondary causation, is an intelligible concept, then it would appear to have been sparingly and strangely used. Miracles must be by definition, relatively infrequent or else the whole idea of the laws of nature… would be undermined, and ordered life as we know it would be an impossibility. Yet even so it would seem strange that no miraculous intervention prevented Auschwitz or Hiroshima, while the purposes apparently forwarded by some of the miracles acclaimed in traditional Christian faith seem trivial by comparison. -Maurice Wiles
For one person to receive miraculous assistance while someone else who‘s situation resembles the first case in every important respect doesn‘t would be unjust; but an infinitely good being would not be responsible for such injustices. So a miraculous event would not be brought about by God. -Matt McCormick
There is a huge amount of evil in the world—psychological and physical suffering, malnutrition, starvation, pandemics, cruelty, torture, poverty, racism, lynching, sexism, child abuse, assault, war, sudden deaths from natural disasters—the list is appalling. . . . Instead of using miracles to feed a small number, to transform water into wine, or to convert a few people, God could very well be performing miracles that have a much larger effect, especially on the lives of the millions of children whose suffering is particularly incomprehensible to anyone with a sense of justice. The question is why a good God would be concerned with details like the need for wine at a wedding, and yet apparently not be concerned with huge tragedies like the holocaust of six million Jews. -Christine Overall

In New York, on March 3, 1964 at 3:15am, Kitty Genovese was driving home from her long shift at the bar where she worked. She parked her car and proceeded to walk her normal route to her apartment, as she had done countless times before. Before she arrived at the front door of the building, she was confronted by a man, Winston Mosely. Frightened, Kitty began running in the opposite direction toward the main street, but the man gave chase. He caught up with her and stabbed her twice in the back. Bloodied and cold, she screamed, “Oh my God! He stabbed me! Help me!” The neighbors heard cries but kept their windows closed and their blinds drawn. No one came to her aid. No one felt compelled to help this woman, suffering and dying in the dark on a street in New York. Her attacker had driven away, but returned 10 minutes later. Upon observing her condition, he proceeded to stab her several more times and then rape her. Mosely fled the scene. Someone finally called the police. Kitty Genovese died a few minutes later en route to the hospital.

The neighbors of this woman could have easily intervened to save her from suffering, rape, and death. It would have taken, at most, a few seconds to call the police. Was that too much to ask for? By having not intervened, they seem to be partially, morally culpable for what happened. Their intervention could have saved her life. But they chose to ignore her cries for help. Perhaps we could not sustain a legal case against them in a court of law, but in terms of fundamental, basic morality—empathy and compassion for a fellow, innocent human being on the verge of death—how could they have remained silent? Most of us are morally appalled at their lack of action, and rightly so.

Maybe it would have been a different case had the neighbors been standing 10 feet away, witnessing Mosely attacking Genovese whilst holding a semi-automatic weapon in his other hand. Refraining from taking action in that case might be justified if one is afraid for their life. That might be excusable. But seeing someone suffering when there is no direct threat to one’s own life, and still choosing to remain silent, how can that ever be justified? Is not silence in the face of evil morally reprehensible? Surely! And this is especially the case when no danger poses a threat to anyone besides the one already suffering!

By this standard, then, it seems that God incriminates Himself. God is like the neighbor who hears the cries of Kitty Genovese-- screaming and bleeding--and chooses to ignore her and let her die. He is the bystander holding the phone in his hand who witnesses a violent stabbing and rape and yet chooses not to alert the police authorities. He hears the cries of human persons, whom he supposedly loves, in pain. He can see those who are sick, dying, broken-hearted, and suffering from all manner of physical and emotional pains. Why does He not interfere in every instant of suffering to save those who are victims? Like the neighbors of Kitty Genovese, it is both within God’s power to save the sufferer and it does not cost Him anything. If God is all-good, then He would want to eliminate all evil and if God is all-powerful then He would be able to eliminate all evil, and yet evil exists. To further compound this, theists claim that God can, and does, do miracles. That is, God intervenes, either directly or indirectly, to bring about the betterment of certain states of affairs and/or the prevention of certain other states of affairs. God can heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the multitudes, calm storms, and alleviate hurts and pains. Many theists claim that God, not only can do these things, but has done them both in the age of the prophets and apostles and even today. The problem here is now the tension between the magnitude of evil that is so commonplace in the world and the fact that God sometimes does perform miracles to alleviate suffering or intervene in human affairs to bring about the betterment of circumstances in some other way.

Why does God heal in some cases and not others? Why does God alleviate suffering in some cases and not others? Why does God intervene in the circumstances of some individuals and yet allow the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, the Bubonic plague, and other horrible atrocities and tragedies?

The focus of this article deals with the philosophical problem of miracles, not the emotional problem of miracles. The philosophical problem of miracles is an academic question. It asks, “Is it irrational, illogical, or inconsistent to say that God is all-good and all-powerful and yet not perform miracles in certain dire situations?” The emotional, or existential, problem of miracles pertains to people’s emotional dislike of the notion of miracles and/or a God who would selectively choose the recipients of beneficial, divine assistance. I will attempt to give a rational explanation for the problem of miracles and show that there is no logical incompatibility between God’s omnipotence, benevolence, and selective miracle-performing.

The proponent of the problem of miracles makes five critical assumptions that are largely unjustified:

  1. God’s selectively choosing the instances in which he intervenes is completely arbitrary.
  2. The instances in which God enacts miracles are trivial in comparison to other horrible instances that have played out in history (Auschwitz, Nanking, etc.).
  3. The horrible instances which ‘played out’ in history were bereft of any divine intervention.
  4. God has no morally sufficient reason(s) for refraining from performing miracles in other instances.
  5. The primary purpose of miracles is to prevent or alleviate suffering in the lives of human persons.

1. The critic may argue that God’s choice of recipients, times, and contexts in which he enacts miracles is completely arbitrary. For example, let us suppose that there are two individuals suffering from pancreatic cancer in a hospital ward. Both have a wife and child. Both work for the same engineering firm. Both were in equally good health before being diagnosed. Now let us suppose that God intervenes to heal one of them and not the other. Assuming that this was truly due to divine intervention, the critical response might be to blow the whistle and shout, “Unfair!” God observed two people in identical situations and yet only healed one of them. This, at least, seems arbitrary. But the most that can be said is that this seems arbitrary. The arbitrariness objection cannot be sustained because of the objector’s inability to demonstrate that God’s choosing to intervene in one situation and refrain from intervening in another situation is completely arbitrary. Furthermore, it is impossible to know that the two cases are identical. Both victims are indeed suffering from the same type and level of pancreatic cancer, both are experiencing the same amount of pain, both have a wife and child, both work for the same company, both were in equal health before the diagnosis, but that is as far as we can go. To assume that both cases, and indeed any two comparable cases, are identical, seems outside the scope of our ability to know.

2. The second assumption is like the first in that it views God’s supposed interventions as being unjustified. If God is performing miracles, then He is failing at choosing the most significant instances in which he could bring about the greatest good. He might heal the cancer victim tomorrow and yet he left Auschwitz at the mercy of the Nazis. He heals one broken heart and yet he let Adam Lanza walk into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut and kill twenty students and six teachers. The ‘miracles’ that take place in the world seem to be trivial in comparison to the inexorable atrocities and evils in the world.

This objection sounds powerful, and intuitively, it seems as though there might be a strong case here, but it suffers from the assumption of claiming more than we can possibly know. It is evident that we cannot really know that the instances in which miracles are supposed to have occurred are “trivial”; at most we can say that they seem trivial in light of our background knowledge. The seemingness objection cannot be sustained as it is predicated on incomplete information. Until it can be shown that one case of suffering really is trivial and not worth divine intervention, the objection holds no sway. Moreover, there are instances that may seem trivial and yet are not. The Christian tradition provides one such counter-example to this objection with the Resurrection of Jesus. To an outsider who knows nothing at all about the Christian faith, Jesus, etc., the idea of God raising one man from the dead seems trivial in light of all the other horrors that were not prevented. And yet, if the Christian tradition is true, then the miracle of the Resurrection is the most important event in all of history, for it validated the sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of the sin of the world so that men could be saved from sin and death and made right with God. That seemingly trivial event turned out to be the most important event in history. The accusation of triviality is made on grounds of incomplete knowledge; hence it is not a good objection. There may be more to a ‘trivial’ event than meets the eye. Furthermore, this assumption contains within it another assumption, namely the idea that instances of suffering are commensurable—that is to say that different events in which suffering takes place can be weighed against each other and ranked in terms of ‘high suffering’, ‘low suffering’, ‘worthy of divine intervention’, and ‘not worthy of divine intervention’.

3. The third assumption is that the evil instances throughout history, which we look back upon in horror, were completely bereft of divine intervention. Again, what reason do we have to think that this is true? It could very well be the case that the atrocities throughout history would have been much worse had they not been held at bay by some divine intervention. We cannot demonstrate either to be true—maybe there was some divine intervention during the Holocaust and maybe there was not, but the point is that it is presumptuous to assume that there were no miracles enacted in the worst atrocities throughout history. There could have been miraculous events, unbeknownst to us, yet known only to those for whom the miraculous event served to save or rescue.

4. The fourth assumption is that God has no morally sufficient reasons for not performing miracles in certain situations. As was the case with the first three assumptions, this position claims more than can be justified. God may have morally sufficient reasons. It is not logically impossible for God to have morally sufficient reasons that justify his refraining from enacting miracles in certain instances. Until a case can be made to illustrate that God can have no morally sufficient reasons for withholding intervention at some instances, this objection is baseless.

5. The fifth assumption is that God performs miracles primarily to alleviate suffering in the lives of individuals. When God heals someone, he does it solely for the purpose of removing the pain that encumbers that individual and prevents them from being happy and properly-functioning. As we saw with the fourth assumption, it may seem that God has no morally sufficient reasons for being selective in where, when, and how often he chooses to enact miracles. But neither of these is justified. Why should we think that this is the case? If God exists, then why should we assume that God is most concerned with providing humans with a life full of comfort and ease?

Certainly God’s maximal benevolence can be invoked here. The critic can argue that God is maximally benevolent, hence he must be all-good towards his creation. His actions must be all-good. This is not a controversial point. It makes sense to say that God, if He is all-good, should be most concerned with providing individuals with the greatest good in life, but the point of contention lies in defining that which is ‘good’ in life. Why should we think that the greatest good is a comfortable life, free from all forms of suffering? The conflict lies in defining that which is “the greatest good for the human person.” The critic can argue that the greatest good is happiness, comfort, and an alleviation of suffering in the lives of human persons. But why should we believe this to be the case? What reason do we have to think that happiness and comfort are the greatest goods? I contend that if God exists, then the greatest good must be deeper than comfort and ease in this world. The greatest good that could come about in an individual’s life is his/her entering into a personal, knowledge of God. William Lane Craig writes:

The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so intractable is that people tend naturally to assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this world. God's role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets…We are not God's pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God--which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which may be utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness; but they may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him.

If God is all-benevolent, then he will endeavor to bring about the greatest good for us. The greatest good is not necessarily a life of comfort and ease.Now, if such is the case, then the knowledge of God is more important than our temporary comfort in this life. God is more than a mere, cosmic thermostat existing to make the world perfectly conducive to human flourishing and comfort, yet bereft of an intimate relationship with Him. Why then does God not intervene in the lives of everyone who is suffering in order to bring about a knowledge of himself in the heart and mind of them by way of the alleviation of suffering? God may refrain from healing an individual with cancer if He knows that the sickness will bring the man and perhaps others around him or who are influenced by him, into a knowledge of Him at a later point. If God is the greatest good, and He wants the greatest good for us, which is for us to come to know Him in a meaningful sense, then miracles are not primarily instances of divine assistance, rather they are revelatory experiences whereby we can see him and know him.

It is also important to understand that no human is entitled to a miracle. No person has rights to miraculous occurrences. Every miracle is an instance of divine grace meant for the purpose of displaying the reality of God only in such circumstances as will lead to believing faith in the hearts of some individuals. God performs miracles in order to demonstrate himself and his power. It may be the case that God only performs miracles in instances whereby an individual, or individuals, will come to a meaningful knowledge of him as a result of the miracle. It may be the case that God knows that a certain individual will not come to a believing faith even after witnessing the miracle, and then choose to not enact that miracle. Hence, a miracle is an act that comes about either directly or indirectly by God’s intervention in the world, that would not have otherwise come about had not God intervened, and its purpose is to serve as a revelatory delineation of God in order to bring about a greater knowledge of Himself to a person or group of persons.

In conclusion, not only are all five of these presuppositions unjustified, that is that they are simply presupposed without warrant, but it would also seem most difficult, if not impossible, to provide justification for any of them. At most one could rephrase the assumptions in terms of ‘seemingness’. For example: “God’s selectively choosing the instances in which he intervenes seems completely arbitrary” or “It seems as though God has no morally sufficient reasons for performing miracles only in some instances.” Until a case is made for why we should think these assumptions to be true, we cannot accept them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Is Love?

Christians believe in what we might call a "top-down" picture of love. That is, love comes down from the top, because God is love:

1 John 4:7-12—Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Naturalism (the view that the natural world is all that exists) rules out such a lofty view of love. Indeed, when we consider the explanatory resources available to the naturalist, we realize that if Naturalism were true, love could only be another feature of organisms that helps us pass on our genetic material. This is what keeps everyone's favorite six-year-old awake at night:


Something to think about.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Evolutionary Morality: Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal, a prominent psychologist and animal behaviorist, has written a new book called The Bonobo and the Atheist in which he argues that morality exists because of evolution.

His main thesis is that young children, chimps, and bonobos all express empathy and compassion--this shows that morality is not something that is learned or given to us by 'religion'.

The main problem with his thesis is that if we know that our morality is simply a survival aid, why should we follow it? I can't see any reason why we would be obligated to follow this morality that is built into our DNA, especially if we come across opportunities to better ourselves by not following it. Evolutionary morality cannot provide a basis for justified obligations.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Good Without God: Is God Necessary for Morality? Kile Jones vs. David Wood

Anyone can perform actions that we normally regard as "moral." In this sense, anyone can be moral, whether God exists or not. But in a deeper sense, we recognize that claims such as "Bob is a good person" and "You ought to help that woman" presuppose objective moral values, moral duties, and responsibility for our actions. Without objective moral values, moral duties, and responsibility for our actions, most of what we mean by "morality" is meaningless or illusory. Hence, only a worldview that is capable of supporting objective moral values can make sense of morality.

Can Atheism support such values? I don't see how, but not everyone agrees with me. In order to stimulate thought on this topic, two student groups at Columbia University (Columbia Faith and Action and the Columbia Humanist Society) hosted a short debate between me and Kile Jones, an atheist with a strong background in theology. Though time was short, we were able to lay out our basic positions. Here's the discussion:


The most interesting aspect of the debate for me was Kile's insistence, in his conclusion, that we shouldn't even ask where morality comes from. In my opening statement, I had pointed out that people often shift their levels of skepticism (I think all human beings do this) in order to reject certain beliefs while retaining others. Kile said that his skepticism level is high, and he is certainly correct when it comes to God, Christianity, etc. But if we can't even ask where morality comes from, how skeptical are we concerning morality? It seems, then, that we must accept the existence of objective moral values by faith, even though we demand hard evidence for the existence of other things.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Do Objective Moral Values Exist?

Many of the 'internet atheists' like to deny the existence of objective morality in order to circumvent the idea of a necessary 'Law-Giver' (God).

The problem is that unless the skeptic can provide an argument against the existence of objective morality, theists (and all who believe in the reality of objective moral values) are justified in their convictions about the existence of objective morality.

In this short clip William Lane Craig argues that any argument made against objective morality can also be used against the reality of the external world. If a skeptic denies the reality of the moral realm, then why not also deny the reality of the physical world? After all, we could just be brains in a giant vat or living in the matrix. If we can't trust our moral experience which leads us to conclude that objective morals exist, then why should we trust our sensory experience which leads us to believe that the external world is real?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Your Brain on Evolution

"The first [problem] concerns the likelihood that the processes of natural selection should have generated creatures with a capacity to discover by reason the truth about a reality that extends vastly beyond the initial appearances…Is it credible that selection for fitness in the prehistoric past should have fixed capacities that are effective in theoretical pursuits that were unimaginable at the time? The goal would be to explain how innate mental capacities that were selected for their immediate adaptive value are also capable of generating, through extended cultural-evolutionary history, true theories about a law-governed natural order that there was no adaptive need to understand earlier."

-Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos