Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

I am going to start a new series on this blog similar to my Science Series or Biblical Archaeology series: Apologetic Resources.  As the name suggests I will be highlighting some useful resources online, in print, conferences, etc. that will help those involved in apologetics.

The first resource I would like to highlight is Belief Map:

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 8.34.35 AM

Belief Map is the brain child of Blake Giunta who is an experienced debater and apologist.  Full disclosure, I know Blake personally and have heard him speak and debate in various venues from college campuses to beer halls. While he is active speaking and debating, one of the most time consuming projects he is developing is Belief Map.

Belief Map is “an encyclopedic resource providing users with academically respected points and counterpoints in debates over life’s big questions.”

Belief Map in summary:

  • Serves as an apologetics hotline
  • Is scholarly and reliable
  • Provides a deeply customizable experience
  • Is an ideal way to learn debate

Belief Map’s strength is its menu that procedurally branches out academic points and counter-points in a fun interactive way that actually simulates dialogue between green (the Christian view) and red (the non-Christian view). There are over 1,000 academic citations, as well as over a 1,000 responses and  is continually growing.

Here is a 3 minute tutorial on how to use Belief Map:

 

This site is very organized and focused and with a simple click you can explore the reasons behind the question “Is Christianity True?”  Highly recommended.

 

Advertisements

Have you ever heard someone say, “you have to prove that scientifically.” Or even in news reports that “studies have shown . . . ”  Or maybe you have heard that science is the final or ultimate source of knowledge.  Behind these sentiments may lie a belief called “scientism.”  This mentality has even been put as simply as “If I can’t see it, hear it, or feel it, it doesn’t exist.”

This attitude towards that elevates science to a place of religious devotion is known as “scientism.”

Scientism is the belief that we should believe only what can be proven scientifically. That is, science is the sole source of knowledge and truth.

No doubt, science is a wonderful means of finding out truths about the world and a means of knowledge about the natural world, but science is not the final arbiter of truth. Nevertheless, there are some who claim (or even act as if) science is the only means of knowledge and truth. Here are some examples of people asserting scientism:

  • “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” – (Bertrand Russell Religion and Science, 243)
  • “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” – (Stephen Hawking The Grand Design, 13)
  • “Science, as the only begetter of truth.” – (Richard Lewontin, The New York Review of Books 1/9/97)

There are several problems with scientism:

  1. Scientism is to restrictive – If science was the only source and final arbitrator of knowledge and truth, then massive fields of knowledge and truth would have to abandoned which most of us take to be legitimate truths and knowledge claims.  For example, if science in the only source for truth then we would have to abandon: mathematical truths, historical knowledge, logical truth, moral truth, and aesthetic truths amongst others.  Any theory of knowledge (such as scientism) that excludes these obvious avenues of truth needs to be abandoned itself, before you abandon these truths.
  2. Scientism is self-refuting – If the only source of knowledge and truth is science, then the claim that “the only source of knowledge and truth is science” is not true or knowable.  Why? Because the claim is not true because of science of known through science, and science it is not known by science, you shouldn’t believe that only science leads to truth and knowledge.

Science is a great and noble discipline.  We gain much knowledge and truth through it and will continue to gain knowledge and truth through science.  But, let’s not come with the mistaken belief that science is the best or only means of truth and knowledge.  The attitude that only science can lead to knowledge and truth is unwarranted, misleading, and self-contradictory.

J. P. Moreland, in his excellent work Love Your God With All Your Mind shares why we should reject scientism: “What I do reject is the idea that science and science alone can claim to give us knowledge. This assertion – known as scientism – is patently false and, in fact, not even a claim of science, but rather, a philosophical view about science.”

J. P. Moreland discusses this issue of scientism in this video:

 

Resources:

“The Dangers of ‘Scientism’ and an Over-Reliance on Science” by J. Warner Wallace | Cold-Case Christianity, Feb 11, 2015

“Is Scientism Self-Refuting?” by William Lane Craig | Reasonable Faith, Mar 21, 2011

“Blinded by Scientism” by Edward Feser | Public Discourse Mar 9, 2010

______________________

Post about other issues concerning science from this blog include:

Science Series: C. S. Lewis on Scientisim, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: The Myth that the Church Hindered the Development of Science

Science Series: The Myth that Galileo Goes to Jail

Science Series: The Flat Earth Myth

Science Series: Finely Tuned Cosmos

Science Series: The Dawkins Delusion Continues

Science Series: “Inherit the Wind”

Science Series: Was Belief in God a Science-Stopper? Not for Newton

Science Series: Oxford Professor-Atheism in Decline, Will be Defeated by Faith

Science Series: Creation Confusion – Resources for Research on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: Bill Nye the Pseudo-Science Guy

Science Series: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God – the Most Popular Article in Wall Street Journal History

Warfare Myth: Science vs. Religion

A great apologetical resource will be made available by Crossway Publishers. They are about to release their new ESV Archaeology Study Bible in April 30, 2018.  Dr. John D. Currid, the Carl W. McMurray Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, is the Old Testament editor, while Dr. David Chapman (PhD, Cambridge) is the New Testament editor.

Some of the features include:

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • 2,000+ study notes
  • 400+ full-color photographs
  • 200+ maps and diagrams
  • 200+ informational sidebars
  • 15 articles like “The Bible and History,” “Archaeology and Preaching,” Major Biblical Finds,” and “Daily Life in the New Testament Era”
  • 4 timelines
  • Book introductions
  • 4-color printing

Crossway’s website on the bible can be found here. A description of the new Bible:

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, offering readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture. With editorial oversight from Dr. John Currid (PhD, University of Chicago) and Dr. David Chapman (PhD, University of Cambridge), as well as contributions from a team of field-trained archaeologists, the Archaeology Study Bible assembles a range of modern scholarship—pairing the biblical text with over 2,000 study notes, 400 full-color photographs, 200 maps and diagrams, 200 sidebars, 15 articles, and 4 timelines. These features bring life to the ancient texts, helping readers situate them in their historical context while recognizing the truth that the eternal God became flesh entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place.

______________________

Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

The Prophet Isaiah

23 New Testament Figures Confirmed

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

A clay seal stamped with the prophet Isaiah’s name was found recently.  This seal, that would be impressed upon scrolls, is over 2,700 years old and was found next to the other much reported clay seal (or bulla) for Hezekiah.  It would be the first extra-Biblical evidence of the prophet Isaiah.

In a statement Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said that, “We found the eighth-century B.C.E. seal mark that may have been made by the prophet Isaiah himself only 10 feet away from where we earlier discovered the highly-publicized bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah.”

The clay seal is only a half and inch in width.  The seal reads “[belonging] to Isaiah nvy.”  Bible History Daily reports that:

archaeologist Eilat Mazar and her team have discovered a small seal impression that reads “[belonging] to Isaiah nvy.” The upper portion of the impression is missing, and its left side is damaged. Reconstructing a few Hebrew letters in this damaged area would cause the impression to read, “[belonging] to Isaiah the prophet.”

Major Biblical Discovery: Archaeologists May Have Found the Prophet Isaiah’s ‘Signature’”  by James Rogers Fox News | Feb 22, 2018

Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem: Evidence of the Prophet Isaiah?” by Megan Sauter | Bible History Daily Feb, 22, 2108

An Unprecedented Find: Prophet Isaiah’s Seal Mark Possibly Discovered in Jerusalem” by Robert Cargill | Biblical Archaeological Society Feb 22, 2018

 

____________________

Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

23 New Testament Figures Confirmed

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

Generation Z

The generation born from 1999 to 2015.  They are the successors of Gen X (born 1965-1980) and Gen Y, also known as Millennials (b. 1981-1998).  The dates are approximations and arbitrary as created by sociologists and scholars studying generational trends.  The Barna Group alongside the ministry Impact360 has conducted as study of Gen Z’ers called “Who Is Gen Z.”  A short introductory video of their study can be viewed:

 

Jonathan Morrow, director of Cultural Engagement at Impact360, wrote an article titled “Why Gen Z Is Not Prepared To Follow Jesus In A Post-Everything World” and revealed that only 4% of Gen Z has a Biblical Worldview while atheism is on the rise amongst this generation.

Gen Z and Atheism

One of the things that has come to light in the Barna study:

“Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z”

In Barna’s report they reveal:

Enter Generation Z: Born between 1999 and 2015, they are the first truly “post-Christian” generation. More than any other generation before them, Gen Z does not assert a religious identity. They might be drawn to things spiritual, but with a vastly different starting point from previous generations, many of whom received a basic education on the Bible and Christianity. And it shows: The percentage of Gen Z that identifies as atheist is double that of the U.S. adult population.

The percentage of Gen Z’ers to be atheist has more than double previous generations: 13% of Generation Z compared to 6% of adults:

comp gen z

Gen Z and The Problem of Evil

Why is Gen Z more likely to be atheistic?  Well, Barna asked and they answered:

Teens, along with young adults, are more likely than older Americans to say the problem of evil and suffering is a deal breaker for them. It appears that today’s youth, like so many throughout history, struggle to find a compelling argument for the existence of both evil and a good and loving God.

The problem of evil is an ancient objection dating all the way back to the Greek philosopher Epicurus who formulated the problem as such:

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to.  If he wants to, but cannot, he is not all powerful.  If he can, and he does not want to, he is wicked.  But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world?”

The Problem of Evil and Apologetics

Notice, this is an intellectual objection to the truth of Christianity.  Oddly, Christian philosophers, theologians, and apologists have answered this intellectual objection.  In fact, they have answered it so convincingly that even professional atheists have admitted that there is not logical problem of evil that has successfully demonstrated that God doesn’t exist.  The late atheist philosopher William Rowe, stated that “Some philosophers have contended that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with the existence of a theistic God.  No one, I think, has succeeded in establishing such an extravagant claim.” Consider Paul Draper, agnostic philosopher of religion at Purdue: “I do not see how it is possible to construct a convincing logical argument from evil against theism.”

Christian scholars have gone on to differentiate between two types of intellectual problems of evil: the logical problem (as commented on by Rowe and Draper above) and the evidential problem of evil.  I won’t address the difference here (see the videos by Reasonable Faith below as well as the other resources), but just seeing the categorization by Christian scholars shows how extensively they have thought and contemplated the issue of evil.

Intellectual vs. Emotional Evil

While Rowe and Draper are referring to the intellectual problem of evil, evil and suffering has another sides: emotional.  This is an important distinction we need to make.  While one can (and has) provide answers to the intellectual problem of evil, it doesn’t mean that we won’t experience evil personally.  We still have to grapple and suffer through evil and pain.  Some of it quite horrific.  But the emotional experience of pain and suffering is not an argument, but a personal struggle.  It is a struggle that the Christian worldview can offer satisfying resources and comfort for someone who is suffering pain and evil.  Christianity can speak of the patience and mercy of God. It can mention the future perfection that awaits all who trust in Christ. It can offer the comfort that a redemptive God is working to cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It has a “good news” of hope for a broken world. The atheistic worldview denies these luxuries.

Apologetics and the Christian worldview has the intellectual and emotional resources for Gen Z.  It just needs to be communicated: which Christian apologetics does.  Not just intellectual answers, but deeply personal, psychological, and spiritual answers.

Resources:

Books:

God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain ed. by Chad Meister and James K. Dew, Jr. – one of the best collected works covering all the angles on the question of evil that “offers convincing and compelling reassurance that though we are pressed on every side with great evil and suffering, the God of the universe is greater still.”

Why Does God Allow Evil? Compelling Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay Jones – a shorter work that answer some of the common questions in a very accessible but intellectual sound manner

The Problem of Evil: The Challenge to Essential Christian Beliefs by Jeremy A. Evans 

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis – a classic examination of the intellectual problem of evil

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis – an examination of the emotional problem of evil

Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness–A Philosopher’s Lament by Douglas Groothuis – a new book by Christian philosopher Groothuis as he opens up personally about his wife’s struggle with dementia as he reflects on it as a philosopher and a husband

 

Videos:

The Logical Problem of Evil:

 

The Evidential (Probabilistic) Problem of Evil:

 

Other videos:

 

 

 

 

 

 


originsxmas

Here is interesting myth to consider as we enter into this Christmas season:

It is generally asserted that December 25 was designated as the birth of Christ to replace the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. Claims about the Christmas myth have been reported at christmasisalie.com and, of course, youtube such as this video at the end of the clip:

 

Well, this story might not be so clear cut as youtube tells us.  Several articles by scholars and historians are challenging this claim.

David Lattier, the VP of Intellectual Takeout who received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies at St. Thomas, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at Duquesne University, reports that the “popular idea that Christians co-opted the pagan feast originates with Paul Ernst Jablonski (1693-1757), who opposed various supposed ‘paganizations’ of Christianity.”  Lattier, references the work by William J. Tighe, Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College.  Tighe, wrote for Touchstone magazine stating that “it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.”  Tighe goes on to explain that:

December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

You will have to read the full article for the details, but it well worth the read as we enter into the Christmas season this year.

J. P. Holden of Tekton Apologetics has written a book about the issue titled Christmas is Pagan and Other Myths.  Amazon describe the book: “Is it evil to celebrate Christmas? Are Christmas trees forbidden by Jeremiah 10? Is Santa Claus an evil, Satanic figure? In this e-book, Christian apologist James Patrick Holding takes on anti-Christmas crusaders who declare that celebrating Christmas is a one way ticket to perdition.”

I will leave it to you to make up your own mind.  Merry Christmas and/or Happy Winter Solstice 🙂

_____________

Resources:

The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas” by David Lattier | Intellectual Takeout November 24, 2017

Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind December 25” by William J. Tighe | Touchstone Dec 2003.

Is Christmas Pagan?” by Greg Koukl | Stand to Reason March 11, 2013

Christmas is Pagan and Other Mythsby J. P. Holding

 

 

Over at The Stream Dr. Sean McDowell has continued the discussion about the warfare between science and religion (which is a myth as I have discussed here).  He starts by stating, “the belief that Christianity is opposed to modern science is one of the top reasons young people cite for leaving the church.”  Tracing the myth back to Andrew Dickson White’s book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom McDowell reveals that White invented this myth by quoting sociologist Rodney Stark’s book For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery:

White’s book remains influential despite the fact that modern historians of science dismiss it as nothing but a polemic — White himself admitted that he wrote the book to get even with Christian critics of his plans for Cornell. … many of White’s other accounts are as bogus as his report of the flat earth and Columbus.

Sean continues the article by revealing where the conflict really lies.  Definitely worth the read.  In Sean and Josh McDowell’s updated book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, they responds to this challenge at length.

Below is a video and links to the other myths that I have busted at this site:

 

 

________

Other Myths:

The Myth of the Dark Ages (one of my most visited blog articles)

The Myth that the Church Hindered Science

Missionary Myths and the Roots of Democracy

The Flat Earth Myth

Myth of Galileo Going to Jail

Myth and Facts: Crusades

 

 

 

Impact 360 has produced a new video titled “What Good Is Christianity?” It explores the question “Has Christianity been good for the world? Learn the truth about what the historical record really says.”  It can be viewed here:

 

It is part of the Explore Worldview online series training that Impact 360 provides which the first session is free online with a total of eight sessions.

Other free resources for going deeper include:

An video interview with Sean McDowell on tolerance: What is tolerance anyways and should Christians embrace it?

Alan Shlemon on “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God”: Determine whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God!

A podcast with John Stonestreet on “How to engage our culture with hope!”

And some book resources:How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity by Rodney Stark and How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt

________________________________________________________

Posts from this site on the contribution of Christianity

The Triumph of Christianity

Missionary Myths and the Roots of Democracy

Dr. Craig’s Reasonable Faith has produced two new animated videos along with his pervious videos on the existence of god (Cosmological, Moral, Fine-Tuning, Contingency, and Ontological).  These two videos deal with the problem of evil: both the logical version and probabilistic version. As always, great quality and solid content.  Definitely worth checking out:

 

 

 

Here are some articles and other resources dealing with the problem of evil:

The Problem of Evil” by William Lane Craig | Reasonablefaith.org

God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views ed. by Chad Meister and James K. Dew Jr. (IVP Academic, 2017)

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga (Eerdman’s 1989)

Here are some other videos on the problem of evil:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I posted earlier how archaeology has confirmed over 50 real people from the bible.  It was one of the most popular articles published by Biblical Archaeology Review by Lawrence Mykytiuk, associate professor of library science and the history librarian at Purdue University holding a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Semitic Studies and is the author of the book Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004).  He has followed up that article with “New Testament Political Figures Confirmed.”  Mykytiuk starts by exclaiming, “For a collection of writings usually seen as religious, the New Testament mentions a surprising number of political figures, in connection with court trials, dates of important events and even political murders.” He plans to do a follow up article on nonpolitical figures in the New Testament whose existence is confirmed outside its page.  The list of political figures include:

  • Augustus
  • Tiberius
  • Nero
  • Herod the Great
  • Herod of Antipas
  • Pontius Pilate

Seventeen other political figures are listed with the dates they ruled, mention of them in the New Testament, a sample of evidence in historical writings, and evidence in inscriptions.  He also discusses “almost real people” (that is figures that are not certain but are reasonable) and people not clearly documented outside the New Testament. Mykytiuk has also written on confirmation of Jesus outside of the New Testament. Here is a partial screen shot of the current article on political figures in the New Testament:

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 11.55.39 AM

He concludes his article in the magazine stating that “All 23 of the political figures discussed in this article are clearly identifiable in sources outside the New Testament, confirming this facet of its historical reliability.”

____________________

Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically