Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Debate: Does God Exist? (David Wood vs. Heina Dadabhoy)

Here's a recent debate I had with Heina Dadabhoy on the existence of God. Heina was raised as a Muslim, but she's an atheist now. Although she's fairly new on the scene, she's already better than most atheist debaters.


I also interviewed Heina on her reasons for leaving Islam and becoming an atheist:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Daily Show Blasts Dan Barker and the Freedom from Religion Foundation

Of course, The Daily Show blasts everyone, but it's refreshing to see this level of consistency.

Dan Barker has made it his life's mission to wage a legal war against Christians. His latest battle involves a diner that offers a discount for people who pray or have a moment of silence before their meal. Barker thinks that the civil rights of atheists are being violated.

This interview with Barker is classic.

***WARNING*** Contains strong language.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

David Baggett: On Psychopathy and Moral Apologetics

Here's an excellent article by David Baggett discussing some of the issues related to my testimony and moral apologetics.
"The Return of the Prodigal Son," by Murillo
MoralApologetics.com—When David Wood was a boy, his dog was hit by a bus and died. Although his mother was terribly upset, he was not. He figured it was just a dog, now it’s dead, end of story. A few years later when a friend of his died, his response was largely the same. He didn’t feel any particular regret or remorse, but at the same time, largely owing to the very different responses of others, he sensed that maybe he should. Not everyone emotionally impaired in such a way turns violent, but he did. In years to follow, he extended his emotionally dead and unempathetic take on those around him by engaging in some horrifying acts, like brutally attacking his father with a hammer until he thought him dead (he wasn’t). Wood was convinced that right and wrong were fictions to be discarded at will and that the apathetic universe couldn’t care less how anyone acts.

The absence of empathy that Wood seemed to exhibit as a young boy is often indicative of psychopathy or sociopathy. Although sometimes these categories are treated interchangeably, some insist that there are crucial clinical differences between them. For example, some (like Chris Weller) suggest that, though both psychopaths and sociopaths tend to lack fear and disgust, sociopaths are more likely to be found holed up in their houses removed from society, while a psychopath is busy in his basement rigging shackles to his furnace. Psychopaths are dangerous, violent, cruel, and often sinister. Showing no remorse, they commit crimes in cold blood, crave control, behave impulsively, possess a predatory instinct, and attack proactively rather than as a reaction to confrontation. (CONTINUE READING.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

British Study Points to Life after Death

If naturalism is true, human consciousness is nothing but brain activity. Yet studies have repeatedly shown that consciousness can continue even when there is no brain activity. Why is naturalism considered a viable worldview when it has been decisively refuted by scientific research?
Telegraph—Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.

“We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study.

“But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped.

“The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for.

“He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.”

Of 2060 cardiac arrest patients studied, 330 survived and 140 said they had experienced some kind of awareness while being resuscitated.

Although many could not recall specific details, some themes emerged. One in five said they had felt an unusual sense of peacefulness while nearly one third said time had slowed down or speeded up.

Some recalled seeing a bright light; a golden flash or the Sun shining. Others recounted feelings of fear or drowning or being dragged through deep water. 13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies and the same number said their sensed had been heightened.

Dr Parnia believes many more people may have experiences when they are close to death but drugs or sedatives used in the process of rescuitation may stop them remembering.

“Estimates have suggested that millions of people have had vivid experiences in relation to death but the scientific evidence has been ambiguous at best.

“Many people have assumed that these were hallucinations or illusions but they do seem to corresponded to actual events.

“And a higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits.

“These experiences warrant further investigation.“ (Continue Reading.)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why Doesn't God Give Us More Evidence That He Exists?

According to the Bible, everyone knows that God exists, and people who say that God does not exist have suppressed their knowledge. In Romans 1:18-20, Paul writes:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Nevertheless, atheists often ask why God doesn't provide even more proof, such as writing his name in the sky. This objection assumes, however, that God is simply attempting to convince people that he exists. But this is not the Christian position.

Here's a short video by William Lane Craig on the atheist demand for more evidence.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Did the Universe Have a Beginning?

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, atheists typically argued that the universe was eternal and uncaused, so much so that even Albert Einstein "fudged" his equations and introduced a "cosmological constant" to avoid the conclusion that the universe began. After looking through Hubble's telescope and observing the red-shift in moving galaxies, Einstein acknowledged that the "cosmological constant" was the biggest blunder of his career.

Leonard Susskind on the Fine Tuning of the Universe for Life and Consciousness

Leonard Susskind is a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University and one of the developers of string theory. In this interview, Susskind discusses cosmological fine tuning and the various ways of explaining it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More on the Fine Tuning of the Universe

Here's another short video on the cosmological fine tuning required for life and consciousness.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Moral Argument for God's Existence

Human beings generally believe that some actions are morally right and that other actions are morally wrong. We may disagree about which specific actions are right or wrong, but there is little disagreement on basic moral principles.

What is the source or origin of these moral principles? If naturalism is true, shared moral values and duties must be the product either of evolutionary development (that is, they are hardwired into us biologically) or of cultural development (that is, they are instilled in us by society).

Notice that neither of these options allows moral values and duties to be something objective (true regardless of our opinions). On the evolutionary view, moral values and duties originated as features that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce (the same way the claws of a tiger help it survive or the colorful feathers of a peacock help it reproduce), but this has nothing to do with objective right and wrong. The statement "It's good to be compassionate" wouldn't be true. Instead, the true statement would be: "Compassion helped our ancestors pass on their genetic information." Our belief that compassion is objectively good would be a kind of illusion. Of course, one might think that whatever helps survival and reproduction must be good. But bedbugs reproduce through violent rape. The violent rape helps the species survive and reproduce, but this says nothing about whether violent rape is right or wrong.

On the cultural view, moral values and duties developed because they were needed by society. A society without rules is impossible, for the absence of rules would lead to chaos. But here again, moral values and duties are not objective. The statement "You should do unto others as you would have them do unto you" wouldn't be true. Instead, it would mean "Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you helps society." One may suggest that whatever helps society is good, but various societies have thrived on cruelty, oppression, and subjugation. Does this mean that cruelty, oppression, and subjugation are good?

Hence, if moral values and duties are going to be something beyond biology and culture, they need a transcendent source. This is the basis of the Moral Argument for God's Existence.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Fine Tuning of the Universe

One of the most popular arguments for God's existence is the "Argument from the Fine-Tuning of the Cosmos" or the "Fine-Tuning Argument." The Fine-Tuning Argument is a version of the Design Argument (various versions of which claim that certain observable features or structures are best explained by an appeal to intelligence).

Here's the gist of the Fine-Tuning Argument. In order for you to be reading this 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 exist.

There are only three possible explanations for the fine-tuning of the cosmos: (1) necessity, (2) chance, and (3) design. The constants of physics aren't necessary, and they are too unimaginably improbable and goal-oriented to be the product of chance. Hence, design is the only reasonable explanation.

Here's a short video on the argument:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Atheists Advocating Book Burning?

One of the saddest results of the "New Atheism" movement has been the radicalization of many atheists. Instead of calmly arguing against the existence of God, many of the "new atheists" are now taking a far more extreme stance (e.g., calling religion a "disease" that must be eradicated). Some atheists are even calling for book burnings.


Of course, as Heinrich Heine said: "Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ravi Zacharias Responds to the New Atheists

Here's a short talk by Ravi Zacharias on man's predicament and the emptiness of atheism.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Religious Experience and the Existence of God

Human beings have a variety of visual experiences, auditory experiences, emotional experiences, and so on. But many people also have powerful religious experiences (e.g., experiencing the presence of God). Atheists maintain that religious experiences are illusory and do not correspond to anything beyond the physical world. While we can certainly be careful about the conclusions we draw from religious experiences, should we really assume that everyone who has a religious experience must be delusional?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Existence of God and the Resurrection of Jesus

Here's a short introduction to the evidential significance of Jesus' resurrection (by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Biology of the Second Reich: Social Darwinism and the Origins of World War I

Social Darwinism is the attempt to apply biological principles such as "survival of the fittest" to societies (e.g., the social and political realms). The results may include racism ("race X is more highly evolved than race Y, so race X is superior"), eugenics ("improving" the human gene pool by selective breeding and sterilizations), and war ("inferior societies should be crushed to make room for superior societies"). Social Darwinists may also maintain that compassion for the weak or sick is detrimental to civilization (because the sick and the weak would have been eliminated by natural selection, and preserving them contrary to nature will therefore stunt the development of humanity).

The following video suggests that social Darwinism provided a kind of intellectual justification for World War I (as it certainly did for World War II).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

William Lane Craig: Are the Gospel Narratives Legendary or Historically Reliable?

The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) present the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. However, since many people don't want to accept what the gospels say about Jesus, it has become common to pretend that the gospels are nothing but myths and legends.

In this short video, William Lane Craig offers five reasons for treating the gospels as historically reliable.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Greg Koukl: The Person and Teachings of Jesus

Here are some short videos by Greg Koukl (of Stand to Reason) on the person and teachings of Jesus.

Why Is Jesus the Only Way?

Why Do So Many People Reject Jesus?

Why Is Jesus Different?

Was Jesus Just a Great Teacher?

Why Did Jesus Say, "I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life"?

Was What Jesus Said True?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Do Differences in the Gospel Narratives Undermine Belief in Jesus' Resurrection?

I read the Gospel According to Matthew, the Gospel According to Mark, and the Gospel According to John when I was still an atheist. (I didn't read the Gospel According to Luke until after I became a Christian.) Obviously, I didn't believe in the divine inspiration of the texts. But something in the gospels made me start examining them more closely.

When I was an atheist, I was convinced that Jesus' followers invented the story of his resurrection in order to make sure that his message would continue to spread after his death. I believed that the four gospels were thus part of a conspiracy on the part of the disciples. As I read the gospels, however, I noticed a number of differences in various stories, including the resurrection accounts.

Many atheists today point to these differences as some kind of evidence that the resurrection never happened. But I took the differences as evidence that I was dealing with independent historical sources, all of which affirmed Jesus' resurrection. Since I could no longer believe that the disciples sat down and conspired to produce the gospels, I had to start wondering if they might be more reliable than I once thought.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Does Belief in Jesus' Resurrection Affect Christians?

If Jesus rose from the dead, then at least one man has conquered death. What impact does belief in Jesus' resurrection have on Christians?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

China on Pace to Become World's Largest Christian Country by 2030

The church in China is growing so rapidly that it will soon pass the United States as the world's largest Christian nation. (On a side note, China is also set to pass the United States as the world's largest economy. Coincidence?)
Telegraph—Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change."

China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic – they didn't. They actually failed completely." (Continue Reading.)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Does Science Show That Jesus' Resurrection Is Impossible?

It's odd to see so many young atheists appealing to science without having the foggiest idea what science is. This is especially vexing when they say something like, "Science proves that miracles are impossible." A scientist can discover the way things normally happen, but this has nothing to do with whether God can raise someone from the dead.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Resurrection of Jesus: Why It Matters

If Jesus rose from the dead, it is the most important event in history. Why? Because Jesus' resurrection would serve as divine confirmation of his radical claims about himself and his mission. Here's a short video on the significance of the resurrection of Jesus:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Is the Gospel?

Jesus and his disciples commanded people to believe in the Gospel, and Christians have been preaching the Gospel ever since. But what is the Gospel? The word "Gospel" means "Good News." The "Good News" found in the pages of the New Testament is that God did something for us that we could never do for ourselves.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guillaume Bignon: French Atheist Becomes a Christian Theologian

My friend Guillaume Bignon was a French atheist. He's now a Christian theologian. In the following video, Guillaume explains his transformation:


Click here for Guillaume's written testimony.

Mathematics and Nature

The way mathematics is used to predict and explain nature should at least make us wonder about why reality works so well through mathematical models. If equations can predict the existence of fundamental particles like the Higgs Boson, then it seems that our universe is built atop a mathematical framework.

Check out this cool video on numbers in Nature.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Growing in God Through Suffering

Today, I participated in a women's leadership summit and briefly spoke about how the trials our family has faced relating to our two youngest sons' medical condition has led to a deeper comprehension of the faithfulness of God, who works all things for good for those who love Him.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review of Nabeel Qureshi’s "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus"

In 2001, I serendipitously joined the Old Dominion University Speech and Debate Team, which is how I met and befriended Nabeel Qureshi, a bright, talented, pious young Muslim pursuing a path towards med school. I first talked to Nabeel when I jumped into the middle of an argument between him and his Christian friend David Wood. They were arguing about the resurrection of Jesus.

Nabeel’s investigations ultimately led him to become a Christian (as did mine, though that’s another story!) Since I’ve been friends with Nabeel for many years and am quite familiar with his testimony (I even married David, if you hadn’t guessed by my last name), I may have hesitated in reading his book. I’m glad I did read it, because it’s one of the best Christian books published in recent years.

If you are seeking an engaging account of how God brought a Muslim to Jesus Christ, then you will find it in Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. While 300 pages might seem a bit long for a “testimony book,” the captivating story reads quickly as it invites the reader to vicariously experience the life of a devout Muslim (trained practically from infancy to be an apologist for Islam) and the barriers that had to be overcome in order for him to acknowledge and declare the truth about the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

In Nabeel’s discussion of his childhood and youth, the reader gains the perspective of a young Muslim living in the West. He reveals some of the ways Christianity—in its teaching and practice—is perceived by Muslims, and the criticisms they have towards Christians and Christianity. The depictions of Nabeel’s Christian friends in high school also pinpoint an alarming inability in most young Christians to give a basic defense for what and why they believe.

However, this isn’t always the case, as the book goes on to explore Nabeel’s friendship with David, a former atheist, who was convicted of the truth of Christianity by the evidence and who eagerly responds to Nabeel’s challenges to Christianity. The friendship between David and Nabeel creates a trusting atmosphere for these two men to wage an intellectual battle on the most sensitive of topics, and over the course of time (years in fact), Nabeel eventually has to concede that the evidence strongly supports Christian claims about the death, resurrection, and deity of Jesus Christ.

Nabeel’s assertions that the evidence for Islam is still greater than the evidence for Christianity then lead these men to begin closely examining the arguments for Islam. After investigating the serious moral lapses of Islam’s purported highest moral example (Muhammad), as well as other topics, Nabeel’s confidence in Islam begins to wane, but he is still unable to accept Christianity. Instead he faces an intense inner conflict between his hunger to truly know God and his close attachment to his family and to everything he has been taught. Nabeel prays for help from God, and God graciously responds to Nabeel’s fervent prayers by revealing Himself through a vision and three fascinating dreams that direct Nabeel to the Scriptures and to Jesus Christ, resulting in a whole-hearted conversion that changes his life.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is a great book on many levels. It could be used as an introduction to the fundamentals of Islam and apologetics for Christians who want to learn how to interact with Muslims (Nabeel weaves his storytelling with Islamic religious terminology and common practices, and the information is highlighted in sidebars throughout the text and also explained in the glossary). It could also be given away to Muslim friends as a tool for evangelism or to promote discussion. For a Christian apologetics course or a Bible study, the amusing conversations between David and Nabeel could serve as real-life illustrations of Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Through Nabeel’s narrative, many readers will be inspired to reach out to their Muslim friends with the Gospel, and both Christians and Muslims will be motivated to thoroughly examine their own beliefs and their reasons for believing. Former Muslims who have converted to Christianity may find comfort and encouragement as they identify with the same struggles and conflicts Nabeel faced. Best of all, it is simply a wonderful story, eloquently told, which glorifies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

C.S. Lewis on Science and Religion

Does Science rule out the possibility of miracles? Watch C.S. Lewis tackle the issue of Science and Religion in this clever animated (literally and figuratively) discussion.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kinesin: The Workhorse of the Cell (Discovery Institute)

Cells were once thought to be simple blobs of protoplasm. As such, many scientists concluded that cells don't require a designer. Now we know that cells contain an array of sophisticated molecular machines. Should we rethink the need for a designer?

Here's a short video on kinesins (motor proteins powered by ATP):

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Trinity Explained

Superficial thinking about the nature of God makes men unitarians. Deep contemplation convinces us that God is a Trinity.

Here's a two-part series on explaining the Trinity. There's certainly room for disagreement on certain points in the videos, but they're a good introduction to more careful thinking about the nature of God.

PART ONE


PART TWO

Monday, April 28, 2014

Was Jesus' Tomb Found Empty after His Death and Burial?

The most important historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection concerns (1) his death by crucifixion, and (2) his numerous appearances later. Since Jesus was dead, and was alive again later, it seems we are confronted with a miracle, and Christianity has a kind of divine confirmation unknown to other religions. One additional corroborating detail is that his tomb was found empty shortly after his crucifixion. The empty tomb narrations help rule out the claim that Jesus' appearances were mystical experiences or hallucinations. Jesus' tomb was empty because resurrection (Gk., anastasis) involves the supernatural restoration of the body.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Was Jesus' Resurrection Copied from Pagan Myths?

Wall painting of Osiris
A long, long time ago, in an academic atmosphere far removed from common sense, certain critics of Christianity popularized the claim that the story of Jesus' resurrection was drawn from pagan myths. However, since history proves that Jesus' original followers were preaching about his resurrection within months of his crucifixion, critics who support the pagan myth theory must hold that Jesus' original followers were somehow influenced by myths of dying and rising gods associated with yearly cycles and fertility rites. But first-century Jews were the last people on earth who would be influenced by such myths. Moreover, because we know that Jesus' disciples (along with some of his enemies) were convinced that he had appeared to them after his death, we can only wonder how the influence of pagan myths became strong enough in first-century Israel to induce mass hallucinations!

The claim that Jesus' resurrection appearances can be explained by pagan myths is itself a myth.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Peter Williams: The Reliability of the New Testament in Two Minutes

Dr. Peter Williams is Warden of Tyndale House and a member of the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. In this short video, Dr. Williams explains why no one has ever been in a position to corrupt the text of the New Testament.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Is the Trinity?

Many people who reject the doctrine of the Trinity have no idea what they're rejecting, because they don't understand what the doctrine claims. This is like rejecting Einstein's general theory of relativity without understanding what the theory is, or rejecting quantum mechanics simply because it's confusing.

Hence, an important part of rationally accepting or rejecting a doctrine is making an effort to understand the doctrine. The following video gives a brief description of the doctrine of the Trinity (without making an attempt to show that it is coherent or true).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alvin Plantinga's Ontological Argument for God's Existence

Alvin Plantinga
Some arguments for God's existence are more popular than others. Many people are familiar with some version of the Cosmological Argument (e.g., the universe began to exist, so it must have a cause), the Design Argument (e.g., life is too complex to have arisen by natural processes, so it must have a designer), the Argument from Miracles (e.g., Jesus rose from the dead, so a miracle-working God exists), and the Argument from Personal Experience (e.g., I know God, so God exists).

These arguments are more popular than other arguments for God's existence primarily because they are easy to understand. Nevertheless, we shouldn't ignore arguments simply because they are difficult to grasp. Various versions of the Ontological Argument, for instance, attempt to move from our concept of God to the existence of God. Inferring the existence of something from our concept of something can seem confusing (especially when such reasoning can only be applied in rare instances), but the main versions of the Ontological Argument are worth taking seriously.

The Ontological Argument has a long history (St. Anselm of Canterbury used a version of the argument in the 11th century AD), but it has its modern defenders as well. The following video explains Alvin Plantinga's modal Ontological Argument (where the word "modal" refers to notions of possibility).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

William Lane Craig: How Does Faith Relate to Reason and Truth?

One of the most depressing results of the "New Atheist" movement is that critics of Christianity have been able to convince a large portion of the population that "faith" means "believing something when you have no evidence." (Sadly, critics have gotten some help from certain Christians on this point.) Thanks to this view of faith, Christian claims are often misunderstood. If a Christian says, "I have faith in Jesus," many atheists will interpret this to mean "I believe in Jesus, even though I have no evidence."

This sort of faith has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity. Jesus' disciples had faith in him. Did they have evidence for what they believed? Of course they did. Jesus cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, walked on water, and rose from the dead. Faith in Jesus, for his disciples, could hardly have been a matter of "believing without evidence"!

We're obviously in a different position from the original disciples, but this doesn't mean that our faith is any less grounded in evidence. We have outstanding evidence that God exists and that Jesus rose from the dead. Based on what we know about Jesus, we put our trust in him. This trust is what we mean by "faith." (There is also a supernatural element to faith, as something produced by God, but this sort of faith isn't "blind" either.)

Here's a short clip from William Lane Craig on the relationship between faith and reason.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Were Reports of Jesus' Resurrection the Result of Legendary Development?

More than a century ago, it was popular for critics of Christianity to attribute Jesus' resurrection appearances to legend. On this view, Jesus died a natural death, but his followers continued to preach his message. Over a long period of time, legends about Jesus began to emerge. Legendary accounts of his resurrection were subsequently adopted as part of orthodox Christianity.

Modern scholarship shatters the legend theory. Even critical scholars now trace our earliest historical material on Jesus' resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-7) to within a few years of his crucifixion. Some critical scholars even trace this material to within months of his crucifixion.

Obviously, if belief in Jesus' resurrection can be traced historically to the very origin of Christianity, it can't be the result of legendary development decades or centuries later.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Did Jesus' Followers Hallucinate His Resurrection Appearances?

Jesus’ followers were thoroughly convinced that he had appeared to them, risen from the dead. Although scholars certainly don’t all agree that Jesus returned to life, almost everyone does admit that Jesus’ followers believed that they had seen the risen Jesus. Consider a few revealing quotations about about the core conviction of Jesus' disciples:
Gerd Lüdemann: “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

Paula Fredriksen: “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. . . . I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know . . . as a historian that they must have seen something.”

E. P. Sanders: “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgement, a fact.”

A. J. M. Wedderburn: “It is an indubitable historical datum that sometime, somehow the disciples came to believe that they had seen the risen Jesus.”

Bart D. Ehrman: “We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that (a) women from their group went to anoint Jesus’ body for burial and found it missing, and (b) he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.”
But if the evidence shows that Jesus' followers were convinced that he had appeared to them, how did they come to this belief? Can we explain their belief in Jesus' resurrection appearances by appealing to hallucinations?

Unfortunately for hallucination theorists, Jesus appeared to men and to women, to individuals and to groups, to friends and to enemies, in a variety of different locations and circumstances, ruling out hallucinations as a serious explanation.

Was the Resurrection of Jesus a Hoax by His Followers?

When I was an atheist, I had a simple explanation for Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection. During his ministry, Jesus won a number of converts. When he died, his followers wanted his message to continue. So they invented the story of Jesus rising from the dead in order to ensure that his teachings would live on.

There are multiple problems with this view. The one that eventually shook me out of my folly is this: Liars make poor martyrs. Most people won't willingly die for any cause. Some people will die for what they believe in. No one dies for something they know is a lie.

Hence, Jesus' followers sincerely believed that he had risen from the dead. The only question that remains is what convinced them that their teacher had been raised.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Apparent Death Theory: Did Jesus Survive Crucifixion?

Jesus' death by crucifixion is one of the best established facts of ancient history, even according to scholars who are critical of Christianity. Atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann declares that “Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” John Dominic Crossan, of the notoriously liberal Jesus Seminar, says that there is not the “slightest doubt about the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion under Pontius Pilate.” Marcus Borg states that Jesus’ execution is the “most certain fact about the historical Jesus.” Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish scholar, concludes that Jesus’ death by crucifixion is “historically certain.” According to Bart Ehrman, “One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate.”

Of course, not everyone is familiar with Historical Jesus scholarship, so some people attempt to explain the origin of Christianity by claiming that Jesus survived crucifixion and later appeared to his disciples, giving them the impression that he had risen from the dead. There are two main problems with this "apparent death theory" (or "swoon theory," as it is sometimes called). First, all of the available evidence refutes it. Second, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Jesus survived crucifixion. Upon seeing him in his grotesque, mangled, recently crucified state, his followers would never have concluded that he had been miraculously resurrected. They would have called for a doctor.

Can We Know Anything about Jesus' Resurrection When It Happened So Long Ago?

Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection is grounded in a number of ancient documents, several of which are included in the New Testament. However, many people today are skeptical of our ability to learn about something miraculous from documents that are so old. Can we trust the historical method in dealing with events that occurred so long ago?

William Lane Craig: The Resurrection of Jesus and the Origin of Christianity

In the first century, Christianity burst upon the ancient scene, with the resurrection of Jesus as the heart of its message. How do we account for Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection? In the following video, William Lane Craig discusses attempts to explain belief in Jesus' resurrection by appealing to prior pagan or Jewish beliefs. Since nothing prior to the origin of Christianity can account for its unique message and its historical basis, the historian is left with a question: What sort of evidence can fill the hole created by the origin of Christianity?

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.

Immanuel Kant: The Starry Heavens and the Moral Law

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ravi Zacharias: Do You Lock Your Doors at Night?

Here's an excellent introduction to the significance of the objective morality vs. subjective morality debate, by Ravi Zacharias.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Can Science Answer All Questions?

laboratory scientist working at lab with test tubesIn the movie Contact? Ellie told her father that she loved him, but she couldn't prove it scientifically. That’s because science can't do that sort of thing. Science can't show that two people love each other. Science is simply a tool that we utilize to uncover facts about the observable universe. So here’s a fun fact: Science is not omniscient. It cannot answer all our questions. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And the idea that we can’t know anything unless we have scientific evidence for it, is ridiculous. The claim 'We can't know anything unless we can verify it scientifically' cannot, itself, be verified scientifically. That kind of argument is self-defeating. Interesting, no? So when someone says, "There's no scientific evidence for that, therefore I won't believe it", I can respond by saying either:
1. Your face has no scientific evidence
or
2. There are things that we know to be true apart from any scientific evidence.
I find the latter to be more efficient, although not nearly as epic.
Here are are 2 categories of facts that we all accept without help from science:
1. Metaphysical Facts
Metaphysics, by definition, lies outside the realm of science. The term ‘Metaphysics’ means ‘meta-physics’ or ‘beyond physics’.  Metaphysical facts include the existence of other minds, the existence of the world outside of your own mind, and the reality of the past. We believe that there are minds other than our own, the external world is real, and the past wasn't created 5 minutes ago and given only the appearance of having aged as it did. These beliefs are what philosophers call properly basic beliefs. That means that they are foundational. We can't show them to be true or false. We accept them as facts without question, but they cannot be proven by science.
Science cannot tell me that there are minds other than my own. When I’m in a lecture, I assume that the professor who is lecturing is a real entity with a mind and not simply a figment of my imagination or a part of my dream (as much as I’d like to think so). I treat the world around me as if it is real. I could be stuck in the matrix or I could be a brain floating in a jar of chemicals being stimulated by some crazy scientist who is giving me the illusion of this world. But I know I’m not. I know that the past is real; I was not created 5 minutes ago and implanted with 22 years’ worth of memories. I comfortably believe all of this and yet there is no scientific evidence that confirms it.
2. Ethical Facts
A lot of interest has been generated recently in the field of Evolutionary Psychology. Some experts in this field have argued that we can get morality from understanding who we are as social mammals. The idea of the purely ‘selfish gene’ is slowly being understood to be false, or at least an incomplete picture of who we really are. We are not simply lone mammals on the quest to propagate our DNA at all costs—there is a complex social infrastructure in mammalian groups/herds that has an inbuilt morality for the purpose of helping us deal with each other. Elephants bury their dead, bonobos comfort each other after loss, and most primates understand and operate by the laws of reciprocity and justice. This explains morality, right? Science has given us ethics!
Just a minute, buddy. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This kind of argument commits what David Hume articulated as the            Is-Ought fallacy. You can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. This means that observing and understanding how things are cannot tell us that this is the way things ought to be. Just because we observe that mammals help each other doesn’t tell us that we should help each other. Well, maybe we can say that we ought to help each other because that increases human flourishing. Right? Ok, but that presupposes that human flourishing is good and should be striven towards. But why is increasing human flourishing good in the first place? Why should we pursue it? Any answer that one gives to that question will not come from science. That's because science is descriptive, not prescriptive. The ‘should’ or ‘ought’ has to come from elsewhere. Science can’t give us that.
Science doesn't tell us that rape is evil. Science can't tell us that rape is evil. The value judgment, evil, lies beyond the scope of the scientific method. Sure, science can tell us that rape can have biological and psychological repercussions on individuals and societies, but to say that rape is evil is not something that science can do. We know that rape is evil wholly apart from science.
Science can't answer questions beyond those about the observable, testable world around us. Trying to do so is akin to using a yardstick to find the weight of a bucket of water. It won't work because that isn't the correct tool. My point here is not to say that science is bad. Not at all. I love science. Science has given us, and continues to provide us with progress in health and understanding the world around us. But we should not try to apply science outside of the fields for which it is meant.

Does God Have Free Will?

Does God have free will? If God cannot act contrary to His nature, then is He really free?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Evidence for the Resurrection: Appearances of Jesus

Dr. Peter Williams offers some good arguments for taking seriously the accounts of Jesus' appearances after his death and burial. He argues that these can not be written off as hallucinations and are not similar to ghost and UFO sightings, today.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

William Lane Craig: The Applicability of Mathematics to the Physical World

There's no reason, on Naturalism, for the universe to be explicable in mathematical terms. Is there an argument for Theism lurking in the equations? Philosopher William Lane Craig thinks so:

Friday, January 10, 2014

William Lane Craig, Richard Dawkins, and the Moral Argument for God's Existence

Here's an interesting (and short!) video from William Lane Craig, in which he points out that Richard Dawkins seems to agree with both premises of the Moral Argument for God's Existence, while denying its conclusion. Craig's Moral Argument runs as follows:

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

In his writings, Dawkins seems to understand that, without God, there is no objective good or evil (thus granting premise 1). Yet Dawkins goes on to condemn behavior that he regards as immoral (thus granting premise 2). Dawkins's denial of God's existence therefore shows that he is positively irrational.

Monday, January 6, 2014

James White: Is the New Testament Reliable?

How can we trust the New Testament when there are so many textual variants? Well, if we know what those variants amount to, and if we know that having lots of variants is the result of having lots of manuscripts, then we realize that the textual variants we find among New Testament manuscripts are evidence for the reliability of the New Testament, not against it.

Here's James White:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Horus Ruins Christmas

One of the saddest developments of the internet era is the uninhibited spread of silly arguments. The hysterical claim that the story of Jesus was copied from pagan myths can't survive the slightest critical scrutiny. But in an age when nonsense spreads among the gullible far more rapidly than facts spread among the thoughtful, anything goes.