Skeptic’s Objection: “Why would God allow two bears to kill 42 children simply for saying Elisha was bald? You mean if a bunch of kids make fun of my bald head, I get to take them to the zoo and throw them in the bear cage to be ripped apart? ”
I agree that this is an unusual story and at first blush it seems morally objectionable. However, I find most such stories from the Bible make more sense when read in their cultural, literary, and linguistic context. Indeed, this is something we must do if we are serious about understanding something that was… Continue reading
There is no doubt about it. The last several centuries have been an adjustment for Bible believers. Beginning with the realization that the unanimous view of geocentrism was wrong, the switch to a heliocentric model of the universe was difficult for many Christians. They saw the new science as a betrayal of the literal and clear teaching of Scripture by godless scientists. Reading the comments of men like Luther and Calvin in response to Copernicus is a lot like listening to Ken Ham and Kent Hovind rail against Darwin.
One of the new sciences which began during this period was geology. It was established by… Continue reading
Lately it seems that I have been running into the argument that the universe is just too darned big for God to have created it or for us to consider ourselves special in the grand scheme of things. Many atheists feel as if our relative size compared to the universe makes the idea that it was created with us in mind as being ludicrously anthropocentric.
I would argue that the discoveries of the last few centuries can be looked at through a variety of philosophical metrics. Certainly, size-wise we are more insignificant but in terms of life we are incredibly unique. Cosmologically we may be… Continue reading
I received quite the broadside from a Biblical fundamentalist this morning. He had asked whether I thought the Bible had copied from pagan myths regarding the Flood and Creation. Then he was obviously displeased with my answer that I did not believe the early chapters of Genesis were directly copied from Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths but they certainly shared certain common elements based on a common Ancient Near Eastern culture. His reply was scathing and typical:
“Do you really believe that the God of the bible lies to men, tells them fairytales as if they were fact, when they actually aren´t, borrows myths from pagans… Continue reading
In a recent exchange with an internet atheist of the “Science Disproves God” variety I was reminded once again how both sides in the theism/ atheism debate so often mix science and religion in confused ways to use one to disprove the other. Here is a part of that conversation:
The Uncreated Being” is not the best explanation for the things you mention, in fact it’s the lazy conclusion that would make all the sciences a waste of time. Luckily most scientists do not operate in the paradigm of superstition and focus on reality; which theism seems to run counter to since it needs… Continue reading
“If god commanded you to kill your children or loved ones, would you do it?” It is a pretty common question to be asked when talking to atheists online.
No, because I would assume I am a kook if I heard that or the Dark Side of the Force was tempting me.
However, if I had the one on one relationship Abraham is portrayed as having with God, trusted in His promise to bless the world through my son when he was grown, knew that God was the Author of Life and able to raise the dead, etc. I might feel differently. Abraham’s choice has… Continue reading
Debating the Resurrection of Christ with an intelligent friend who equates the first-century eyewitness testimony of the Risen Jesus with Elvis sightings today. My response:
I am reminded of the tragedy which befell a travelling circus when its Human Cannonball was killed while practicing his act of being shot out of a cannon. When interviewed, the circus manager tearfully said, “We will never find a man of his caliber again.”
In order for sightings of Elvis to be of the same caliber as the Risen Jesus eyewitnesses you would need to produce:
1. A dozen of Elvis’ closest confidantes would have to experience seeing… Continue reading
I was recently discussing whether the universe was created by God or Nature with an atheist friend and he seemed surprised when I said I believed that God was a simpler explanation for the existence of the universe than Nature itself. He then said that even if I could prove the existence of God there would be no reason to suppose He was personal. Here is the question as I was asked:
“Why would it have personality, something only observed in highly complex evolved biological creatures?” To which I replied…
The Uncaused Cause, simply because it is the origin of time, space, energy and matter… Continue reading
In response to the assertion that since all religions contradict one another, all are necessarily false and solely the result of natural evolutionary processes such as our need to deal with fear of the unknown and the human tendency to seek patterns and meaning in everything, I wrote this to an atheist friend…….
In your comments you have mentioned fear of the unknown and our human tendency of categorizing/ recognizing patterns to explain why religion exists. I have agreed and added love and wonder and conscience to that. We are both in perfect agreement that these are reasons the vast majority of humans are religious… Continue reading
Debating whether there is design in nature with a non-theist who says we only think so because of faith and that the natural assumption is that there is no design ergo no Designer. My reply:
“I believe that design is apparent in the beauty, complexity, and functionality of nature. I also believe that there is a good deal of randomness and even sub-optimal design worked into the system as well.
This is because God’s normal mode of activity in a cosmological context is providential rather than interventionist. By providential I mean He normally operates through the ordained and sustained natural processes by which He chose… Continue reading
I was pressed recently to give as succinct an explanation as I could of the accommodationist view of Scripture and whether I thought certain passages had been written as literally true or not. Our discussion centered around the opening chapters of Genesis and some passages in Joshua. The conversation came to a head when my friend quoted the account of Joshua’s long day in chapter 10 of that book:
“So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven,… Continue reading
The Scriptures do not teach Young Earth Creationism. They don’t teach Old Earth Creationism either.
Taken literally they simply express themselves in the cosmology of the time they were written. Try reading these verses with ancient eyes as the original audience would have read them…
Does this mean Scripture taught error? No. Why not?
Cosmological models, like all scientific truths, are not absolute truths. Science is made up of tentative truths which can be corrected as more is learned. What makes a scientific model “true” or “not true” depends on whether it is predictively useful.
At the time Moses wrote Genesis the ancient Hebrew… Continue reading
I had an online exchange earlier today with an academic sounding soul who wanted to push the old idea that Christianity is not truly unique as a religion because it stole many of its beliefs and practices from paganism. To set the stage: What set this gentleman off was someone who had posted to Facebook a still shot from Mel Gibson’s movie about Jesus showing Him carrying the cross to Golgotha. I guess he wanted to rain on the Christian Easter parade (this weekend is the Western Easter) and enlighten us with the real origins of Christianity. I decided to post the conversation to… Continue reading
In debating an atheist on whether there is indeed order in the universe to the degree that we can refer to it as “fine-tuned” I came up with this response which I decided to post for any other would-be apologists looking for a concise answer to this common objection:
“While a few great minds do reject fine tuning, it is not really doubted among the vast majority of scientists (atheists included). They do not ascribe this to God, of course, and that is why they have speculated about counter responses like the multi-verse. There is not really much disagreement on whether there is fine-tuning, the… Continue reading
“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (Mt. 1:19).
What does true righteousness look like in practice? Joseph was confronted with what appeared to be a clear case of infidelity when he learned that his betrothed Mary was pregnant. This verse gives his response to the news: “being a just (or righteous) man and not willing to make her a publick example”. These words seem to indicate that BECAUSE Joseph was a righteous man he did not want to expose Mary’s apparent sin and cause her… Continue reading