Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 8.32.51 PM.pngThe Tower of Babel is recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.  Critical scholars have traditionally viewed this story as mythical and not historical. There just seemed to not be enough corroborating evidence.

But, recently the Smithsonian Channel’s show titled Secrets aired its first episode of season four titled “The Tower of Babel” which seemingly supports the biblical record.

The episode focused on the Tower of Babel Stele (i.e., stone tablet) from the Schøyen Collection which is the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen. Joseph M. Holden, author of The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Biblestates that “according to most critical scholars, this event [i.e., the Tower of Babel] found in Scripture is mythical and certainly could not have taken place in Mesopotamia, where it is said to have occurred.  Originally, support for this notion was found in the fact that no extra-biblical Mesopotamian record existed that documented such an incredible event.” That is until, apparently, now:

 

On the website of the Schøyen Collection the commentary section on the Tower of Babel Stele states: “Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process.”  Apparently the ziggurat in Bablyon was originally built during the time of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).

The Secrets episode on the Smithsonian Channel states that there is “some very compelling evidence the Tower of Babel was real.”  Professor Andrew R. George, featured in the episode and the professor of Babylonian history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, states that “This is a very strong piece of evidence that the tower of Babel story was inspired by this real building.”

Related Articles on The Tower of Babel Stele:

Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” | The Christian Post May 9, 2017

Ancient Babylonian Tablet Provides Compelling Evidence that the Tower of Babel DID Exist” | Ancient Origins May 8, 2017

Smithsonian Channel Spotlights Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Biblical Tower of Babel” | Christian News Network May 7, 2017

Tower of Babel Discovered? Ancient Tablet Describes Mesopotamian Structure Built By ‘Multitudes’ ” | Breaking Israel News May 8, 2017

____________________

Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

50 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

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!

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.39.41 AMA couple of months ago I did a string of post on trends in apologetics.  One of the trends is Children’s Apologetics (other trends included Urban Apologetics, Cultural Apologetics, and Women’s Apologetics).  Just over a year ago, Hillary Ferrer started the blog and podcast called Mama Bear Apologetics.  The opening page tag line explains succinctly the purpose of their blogs/podcasts: “Mess with our kids . . . and we will demolish your arguments.”

That tag line is not just for attention. They deliver it.  Recently, they have taken to task a series of articles posted at Patheos.com under the blog title Unfundamentalist Parenting.  On April 12 of this year Anna Register, one of the contributors to Unfundamentalist Parenting and (according to the bio on the site) a children’s pastor working on her Master’s of Theological Studies at Vanderbilt, posted an article titled “The Trouble with Easter: How To (and not to) Talk to Kids About Easter.”  She listed several things she would NOT teach about Easter:

  • Jesus died for you/your sins
  • That God killed Jesus/wanted Jesus to die/intended for Jesus to die as the primary purpose of his life
  • Jesus died to save them from God’s judgement/hell
  • Coming back from the dead is something you can expect to happen.

She went on the reiterate that:

Stories don’t have to be factual to speak truth. And it’s okay to question a literal resurrection – questions are how we learn. And there is always truth to be found in curiosity, even if the answers don’t turn out to be what you thought they’d be. 

Ask: “Do you know of a story like a myth or fable that teaches a great lesson but isn’t filled with facts? How might the Easter story work the same way and what do you think we can learn from it?”

Well, the article “The Trouble with Easter” obviously troubled those at Mama Bear Apologetics.  They responded with a blog post and a podcast both titled “Is the Progressive Gospel a Gospel at All? (i.e. Why you need to know what your children’s pastor is teaching).”  It is well worth the read and listen.  The blog post is a point for point rebuttal of the claims in “The Trouble with Easter.”

The exchange doesn’t end there.  Cindy Brandt, the founding contributor at Unfundamentalist Parenting, followed up on May 5 with an article titled “Why Your Children do NOT Need Apologetics.”  Mrs. Brandt essentially states that apologetics transfers parental fear, confines faith to doctrine, and burdens children with the task of defending God.Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.45.20 AM.png

Mama Bear Apologetics responds with a piece entitled “Why Your Children Do Need Apologetics: Correcting Misconceptions.”  A taste of their article:

. . . when I went back and reread the article on why we shouldn’t teach our kids apologetics, the faults that I wanted to apologize for didn’t match with the author’s complaints. Her main concern seems to be (ironically) a fear of passing on fear and rigid doctrine to kids.  In fact, most of her concerns seem to stem from misconceptions of apologetics, not bad experiences with apologists. I am more than willing to apologize for the areas where misguided apologists have hurt our cause. However, I don’t think I can apologize for someone not understanding what we do. All I can do for that is correct the misconceptions, and hope for better mutual understanding.

Some of the key points Mama Bear Apologetics enumerates include:

  • Apologetics is not based on a “proof-text” of 1 Peter 3:15
  • There are healthy and unhealthy kinds of fearApologetics, responsibly handled, frees a child to think well. It doesn’t coerce them into a boxed set of doctrines
  • Apologetics is not about us defending God because “He needs it.” It is about making our faith “more sure and more convinced.”
  • Apologetics is about having a firm foundation, NOT determining a prefabricated house of faith

It is definitely worth the read.  Looks like some good things are happening over at Mama Bear Apologetics.  Along with the founder Hillary Ferrer, who has a master’s degree in biology and is pursing a master’s degree in apologetics from Biola, Mama Bear Apologetics includes Rebekah Valerius, who is studying for her masters in apologetics from Houston Baptist University, and Cathryn Buse, is the author of Teaching Others to Defend Christianity and holds a bachelors and masters in engineering.

I have definitely subscribed to their podcast as well as placed their site in my favorites list.

faith defined (incorrectly)

There are many misunderstandings on what “faith” actually is.  For example, Richard Dawkins states that, “Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  Peter Boghossian, Portland State University philosopher and author of A Manuel for Creating Atheists, describes faith as “pretending to know what you don’t know.”  Even popular culture depicts faith as a blind leap into belief with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade scene showing Jones stepping blindly into the abyss to be caught by an invisible bridge:

 

All of these descriptions and definitions of faith are wrong.  They are not biblical or found in the bible.  Here is the correct understanding of the concept of faith:

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William Lane Craig of Biola University and Houston Baptist University answers the questions “how should we define faith?” at the 2014 Unbelievable? Conference in England in this short video:

 

Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason answers the question: “Is Faith Blind?” A taste of the article:

The Greek word for faith, pistis, is derived from the verb pisteuo, which means “to convince by argument.” Hebrews 11:1 explains that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Some translations replace “conviction” with “evidence.” Faith, then, is being convinced that the things we can’t see (e.g. God, heaven, the resurrection, etc.) are real.

The word “faith” is so often misunderstood that I avoid using it in most conversations. I use a different word in its place: trust. This better characterizes the Bible’s use of faith, but is free of the misleading baggage.

Biblical faith, then, is not blind, but functions the same way as trust.

Greg Ganssle, former lecturer Yale University and senior fellow of the Rivendell Institute at Yale and current professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, explains the relationship of faith to reason in this video:

 

Just look at my menu above title “Is Christianity True?” and I cover the reasons and evidence of why we believe God exists, that Jesus is God, that the Bible is historically reliable, and the evidence for the resurrection.

J. P. Moreland, in his great book Love God With All Your Mindexplains how theologians have understood the biblical concept of faith throughout the history of the church:

Throughout church history, theologians have expressed three different aspects of biblical faith: notitia (knowledge), fiducia (trust), and assensus (assent). Notitia refers to the data or doctrinal content of the Christian faith. Assensus denotes the assent of the intellect to the truth of the content of Christian teaching. Note that each of these aspects of faith requires a careful exercise of reason, both in understanding what the teachings of Christianity are and in judging their truthfulness. In this way, reason is indispensable for the third aspect of faith — fiducia — which captures the personal application or trust involved in faith, an act that primarily involves the will but includes the affection and intellect too.

So, non-believers AND, more importantly, believers need to stop defining faith as believing without evidence.  Faith and reason are not opposed.

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Recently several bloggers, scholars, and apologists have posted videos on the reliability of the bible.  Three such videos are below, in order of lenght (shortest first, then longest)

1. Does the Bible Have Contradictions?

Sean McDowell, Assistant Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014 and is the  author, co-author, or editor of over eighteen books including The Fate of the Apostles, and Is God Just a Human Invention?  In this short video (2:50) answers the question “Does the Bible Have Contradictions?”

 

Michael Licona of Risen Jesus ministries and associate professor in theology at Houston Baptist University recently published a book with Oxford University Press on the same topic: Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

2. Are the Gospels Accurate?

J. Warner Wallace, a former cold-case homicide detective and continues to consult on cold-case investigations, applied his investigative skills to investigations the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts.  He wrote about his in his book Cold-Case Christianity. In God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence.  In this nine minute video Wallace answers the question: “Are the Gospels Accurate?”

 

3. Can We trust the New Testament?

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary and is author of The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament DebateThe Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press), and Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament BooksIn this video (28 minutes) Dr. Kruger is being interviewed by Ratio Christi on the topic, “Can We Trust the New Testament?” The interview covered a wide range of topics from textual criticism to bible contradictions to the development of the NT Canon:

 

Visit my page titled “Is the Bible Reliable” in which I cover the topic of the when the New Testament was written, the manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, and non-biblical sources concerning the New Testament.

case for christ movie posterThis past weekend the dramatic retelling of Lee Strobel’s conversion is retold on the big screen.  Strobel, best-selling author of the books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faithand The Case for a Creatoris portrayed in the movie The Case for Christ based on his book by the same name. The tagline about the movie states that it is “Based on the true story of an award-winning journalist who, working to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife, begins chasing down the biggest story of all time … with unexpected, life-altering results.”  The trailer can be viewed here:

 

Tom Gilson over at The Thinking Christian and The Stream argues that there are “7 Reasons You’ll be Glad You Saw The Case for Christ.”  He makes an apologetical case which includes:

If you’ve read Strobel’s book of the same name, you have a pretty good idea how his search came out. But you’ve got no clue what a great love story was wrapped up in it. Watch it this weekend — you’ll be glad you did. Specifically, you’ll be glad you saw it if:

  1. you love a good story
  2. You love a good love story.
  3. You love a good love story where the man is determined to do the right thing- and he does.

You can read the other four reasons over at his website.

Matt Brown provides another “4 Reasons You Should See ‘The Case for Christ’ ” at The Christian Post.   A couple of those reasons include:

1. LEE’S STORY IS ICONIC AND UNFORGETTABLE

2. LEE’S STORY HELPS US SEE THE LOGIC BEHIND OUR FAITH

This weekend the movie has even broken into the box office top 10.  Rotten Tomatoes, an American review aggregator website for film and television, has critics giving the film a high 79% rating, while viewers are pushing it to 84%.

Variety magazine’s Joe Leydon comments that the movie “The Case for Christ” sustains interest, and even generates mild suspense, while offering a faith-based spin on the template of an investigative-journalism drama.”

History vs. Hollywood piece on the movie comparing the facts with the film.

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Here is by far the BEST review of the film by David Wood:

 

 

case for christ movie poster 2

threeIn presenting apologetics there are certain points I focus on in order to systematically examine the evidence for the truth of Christianity.  While there are many other areas of interest and concern for the apologist, these areas are essential in determining the veracity of the Christian religion. These main features of Christianity include 1) the existence of God 2) the reliability of the Bible 3) the divine claims of Jesus and 4) the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.  I organize them in the form of a question, which can possibly be answered yes or no, in order to be objective in the analysis.  This first question is: “Does God Exist?”

Obviously, if God doesn’t exist then Christianity cannot be true.  It is pretty fundamental. There are dozens (and here) of arguments for God’s existence, but there are three powerful arguments for theism.  If you can just remember GOD’s name you can remember these three arguments:

G = Good and evil

O = Origins of the universe

D = Design of the universe

The ‘g’ in God’s name stands for good and evil.  The fact that there exists objective moral truth is evidence for God.  Check out this video titled “The Moral Argument” for a quick introduction.  The ‘o’ in God’s name stands origins of the universe.  This video, titled “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” provides evidence for the origins of the universe that deduces that existence of God.  There are many versions of the cosmological argument, but the kalam version argues from the beginning of the universe to the existence of God.  The ‘d’ in God’s name stands for design of the universe.  This video shows how design is the best explanation for the fine-tuning for life in the universe.

Good and Evil

The Moral Argument (or the argument from good and evil) can be summarized as such:

P1: If God doesn’t exist, objective moral truth does not exist.

P2: Objective moral truths does exist.

C: So, God exists.

Origins of the Universe

The Kalam Cosmological Argument (or the argument from the origins of the universe) can be summarized:

P1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

P2: The universe began to exist.

C: So, the universe has a cause

Design of the Universe

The Fine-tuning Argument (or the argument from the design of the universe) can be summarized:

P1: The fine-tuning for life in the universe is either due to chance, necessity, or design.

P2: It is not due to chance or necessity.

C: So, it is due to design.

Check out this page for a complete presentation of these three arguments for God’s existence which provides a summary of each argument along with links to other articles and videos for the existence of God.

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“There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.”

-Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation)

One commentator (highlighted below) states that The Benedict Option might be”The most important book for Christians in this decade.”

If the death of Christianity occurs in our civilization (and Dreher means in Europe and America) how is Christianity to respond?  Dreher’s Answer: The Benedict Option.

Rod Dreher, has just published his this much discussed strategy (up until March 20 in blog and article form primarily) in book form: The Benedict Option.  Subtitled “A Strategy for Christian in a Post-Christian Nation,” Dreher opens by reminiscing about his 2006 best seller Crunchy Cons which he advocated for “a countercultural, traditionalist conservative sensibility.” He brought up the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre who had proclaimed that Western Civilization has “lost it moorings.”

His introduction recounts the steady decline of Christianity with references to failure of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana followed by a similar failure in Arkansas in 2015.  Two months later the U. S. Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage with an immediate push by activists and political allies for transgender rights: “Post-Obergefell, Christians who hold to the biblical teachings about sex and marriage have the same statue in culture, and increasingly in law, as racists.”

So begins Dreher in what is surely to be a much discussed and debated option amongst post-Christian traditionalists and doctrinally orthodox believers.

I have written The Benedict Option to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time.  If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and in practice.  We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West.  We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways.  In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what the cost.

Dreher provides and Benedict Option FAQ page over at the American Conservative

This sounds like a book that needs to be read.  Much reaction has already being buzzing on the internet, articles, and podcasts concerning Dreher’s book.  Below are just a few samples of this dialogue The Benedict Option:

Sparking Renewal: A Review of ‘The Benedict Option’ ” by Gerald Russello | Intercollegiate Review Spring 2017

Along the way, Dreher has carved out his own space against that toxic culture and has called that space and that which he saw others creating “the Benedict Option.” The name is an homage both to Pope Benedict Emeritus XVI and the famous closing sentence of Alasdair MacIntyre’s influential book After Virtue: “This time . . . the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

This is our cultural moment, despite who occupies the White House or Congress, and with his unerring cultural radar, Dreher has written the book for this new moment: a central point in The Benedict Option is “put not your trust in princes.” Culture is more important than politics, and the currents of modernity did not change on Election Day. And one thing conservatives, and especially Christian conservatives, should understand is that they have lost the culture war, and, indeed, it was their obsession with politics—and their assumption that the culture and major institutions such as big business would always support them—that partially caused that loss.

Exploring the Benedict Option” by John Stonestreet | Breakpoint

Stonestreet concludes his podcast that explores the Benedict Option by saying:

the controversial aspect of the Benedict Option is Dreher’s call for “a strategic withdrawal.” To many, understandably, this sounds way too much like post-Scopes fundamentalism that abandoned the public square to non-Christians.

Dreher insists that it doesn’t mean the same thing, and I hope not. Because escape is never an option for Christians. We should never retreat into our institutions because we’re seeking safety. We should, however, strengthen them out of loyalty to each other and to the true, the good and beautiful, preserving the best of Christian culture so that we can—at some point—gift it back to the world in acts of grace.

Now whether you agree or disagree with the Benedict option, I am thankful that Dreher’s book is igniting a long-overdue conversation about what it means to live in a post-Christian context.

The Constantine Strategy in the Benedict Option!” by John Mark Reynolds | Eidos March 12, 2017

John Mark Reynolds, president of The Saint Constantine School and senior fellow in the humanities at The King’s College, declares that The Benedict Option may be the most important book for Christians in this decade:

Until the muddle or the collapse of this version of America  is settled, the sensible person builds an alternative culture. Rod Dreher thinks we may be at one of those points in the West of the world and argues what needs to be done. Traditional Christianity is hard to live in a decadent America and harder still to live where Daesh is torturing Christians.

and in the list of top Christian thinkers in the post below Reynolds declares “The Benedict Option is not a way, but the only way forward for Christians who wish to be more than nominal in their faith.”

Top Christian Thinkers Reflect on the ‘Benedict Option’ ” by John Stonestreet | Breakpoint

Breakpoint hosts the thoughts of top Christian thinkers on Dreher’s book:

Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” is one of the most anticipated and talked-about Christian books in recent memory. How do Christians carry on and live out the faith in this “new Dark Age,” as Dreher puts it? We’ve asked leading Christian writers and thinkers to share their thoughts on “The Benedict Option.”

Bruce Ashford, Joshua Chatraw, Greg Forster, Michael Francisco, Tom Gilson, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Peter Leithart, Gerald McDermott, Karen Swallow Prior, John Mark N. Reynolds, Roberto Rivera, John Stonestreet, Glenn Sunshine, Andrew Walker, and Trevin Wax.

The Benedict Option and the Way of Exchange” by Alan Jacobs | First Things March 20, 2017

It would be a mistake, as Alan Jacobs at First Things and distinguished professor of the humanities at Baylor University states, to assume that Dreher’s Benedict Option is pessimistic, despairing, or hopeless:

Therefore, to argue, as many have, that the argument Rod Dreher makes in The Benedict Option is despairing, and hopeless, and a failure to trust in the Lord Jesus, is a category error. It takes a set of sociological and historical judgments and treats them as though they were metaphysical assertions. Anyone in Roman Cappadocia who had said that the culture Basil and his colleagues had built was not bound to last until the Lord returns would not have been deficient in Christian hope. Rather, he or she would have been offering a useful reminder of the vagaries of history, to which even the most faithful Christians are subject. Dreher’s argument in The Benedict Option may be wrong, but if so, it is wrong historically and prudentially, not metaphysically.

“The Benedict Option or the Constantine Project?” (Two part series) by David Kern | Circe Institute

Part 1, Part 2

Kern, the director of our multimedia initiatives for the Circe Institute (an acronym for the Center for Independent Research on Classical Education), hosts a skype call between Rod Dreher and John Mark Reynolds.  While the title sets the two positions as opposed to each other, in reality the discussion results in a much agreed upon strategy between Dreher and Reynolds. It is a 2 parts series

Other Articles and Responses to the Benedict Option:

Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option: Why I Have Mixed Feelings” by Michael Brown | Christian Post March 18, 2017

If Politics Can’t Save Us, What Will?” by Collin Hanson | The Gospel Coalition March 13k 2017

Why We Need the Benedict Option and How It Doesn’t Have to Return to Fundamentalism” by Heather Walker Peterson | Patheos March 9, 2017

9 Most Intelligent Takes on Rod Dreher’s ‘The Benedict Option’ ” | Intercollegiate Review Spring 2017

I come across these “objections” repeatedly online, in conversation, in debates, talk shows, and the like.  These are such silly objections against the existence of God that it is ludicrous that an answer has to be brought up.  But, since they keep appearing and reappearing, they must be dealt with.  In the interest of being fair, as well as over compensating, I double with a list of four silly arguments Christians should avoid which are graciously provided by Dr. Douglas Groothius at the bottom of this post.

1. “Believing in God is like believing in a flying spaghetti monster”

This is a real objection one can find online, and it is as silly as it sounds.  There is even a church dedicated to this objection (more of a parody than to be taken seriously) which is also called Pastafarianism.  It is a common meme found online as is seen from the “inspirational” poster here.  It has even been manufactured for car decals.  The Flying Spaghetti monster argument is meant to parody belief in God by showing that since there is no evidence for a Flying Spaghetti monster, you shouldn’t believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Likewise, since there is no evidence for a God, you shouldn’t believe in God.

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason responds to this silly objecton:

Dr. William Lane Craig responds to this objection in his weekly Q&A:

“God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Q#33” Reasonable Faith. Dr. Craig concludes by:

The real lesson to be learned from the case of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is that it shows how completely out of touch our popular culture is with the great tradition of natural theology. One might as well be speaking a foreign language. That people could think that belief in God is anything like the groundless belief in a fantasy monster shows how utterly ignorant they are of the works of Anselm, Aquinas, Leibniz, Paley, Sorley, and a host of others, past and present. No doubt part of the fault lies with equally ignorant Christians who have no answer when called upon to give a reason for the hope within and who therefore give the impression of arbitrary and groundless belief. But it must also be attributed to poor education, intellectual laziness, and a lack of curiosity. Given the revival of natural theology in our day over the last half century, we have no excuse for such lame caricatures of theistic belief as belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The origins of the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually goes back to a response to Intelligent Design (ID) in 2005.  This following video provides the context as well as the Dr. Craig’s response to it as a critique to ID:

“5 Reasons The Flying Spaghetti Monster Parody Doesn’t Make Sense” by Richard Bushey | Therefore, God Exists, December 24, 2015 – A taste of this article:

In an attempt to mock and ridicule religion (as is the great commission of the atheist as prescribed by Richard Dawkins at last years’ Reason Rally), atheists will compare belief in God to something ridiculous, that anybody would regard as false, like Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or even what they call the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Flying Spaghetti Monster came as a response to the advocacy of Intelligent Design being taught in schools. The very concept is as ridiculous as teaching students about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. However I think there are at least 5 reasons the Flying Spaghetti Monster parody doesn’t make sense.

“Conclusion: Why the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ Doesn’t Fly”

  1. Sure, there is no evidence for a flying spaghetti monster, but there are plenty of arguments for the existence of God.  So this argument from a spaghetti monster does not counter any argument for God’s existence, because the spaghetti monster example is assuming that there are no arguments for God. Now, that doesn’t mean any of the arguments for God’s existence are good arguments, but that is what needs to be investigated.  Spaghetti monsters don’t provide evidence against God.
  2. The spaghetti monster is physical, temporal, and material and the concept of God is non-physical, eternal, and immaterial.  Since the spaghetti monster is a material object extended in space and time and can’t be the cause of space, time, matter, and energy.
2.We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

Richard Gervais, the comedian (who is “obviously” an authority in philosophy and religion [please read that with sarcasm]) recently proposed the “one god further” objection with Stephen Colbert (relevant information at 2:20):

This quote apparently originated with Stephen F. Roberts in 1995.  Common Sense Atheism also has utilized this argument:

What I mean is that if you apply the same reasoning to your god as you do to every other god (your “common” sense) then you’ll see that your god doesn’t exist, either.

In short, this argument states that the only difference between a Christian and an atheist is that the atheist is just like the Christian theist, but they just believe in one less god than the Christian.  So Christians are atheists when it comes to the belief in Baal to Zeus, so they are just as atheistic as the full atheists. Bill Vallicella of Maverick Philosopher summaries the argument:

The idea, I take it, is that all gods are on a par, and so, given that everyone is an atheist with respect to some gods, one may as well make a clean sweep and be an atheist with respect to all gods. You don’t believe in Zeus or in a celestial teapot. Then why do you believe in the God of Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob?

one-god-futherRationalWiki even has a list of gods that Christian don’t believe in from Aabit to Zurvan for a total of 1,637 deities that Christians are atheistic towards.  This is suppose lead to the conclusion that the God of Christianity doesn’t exist either.  I am not sure how it does this, but that is the claim.  This is just a non sequitur.  Richard Dawkins has used this argument in The God Delusion:

None of us feels an obligation to disprove any of the millions of far-fetched things that a fertile or facetious imagination might dream up. I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.

Here are some responses to this objection:

Ricky Gervais Makes the Usual Atheist Mistakes” by Tom Gilson | Thinking Christian Feb 17, 2017. Tom Gilson answers almost all of Ricky Gervais points in the Colbert clip, but answers the one god objection under the heading of “The Arithmetical Argument.”

Brett Kunkl of Stand to Reason posted this entertaining video answering this silly objection:

Debunking the One God Further Objection ” by Edward Feser | Strange Notions.

Here is a quick video of Dr. Craig’s response to the “we are all atheists” objection:

Why the ‘I Just Believe in One Less God Than You’ Argument Does Not Work” by Michael Patton | Credo House April 13, 2011 – Michael Patton differentiates the important distinction between belief in other gods and the belief in the Christian God.

On the Statement That ‘We Are All Atheists’ ” by J. W. Wartick | Always Have a Reason April  4, 2011. – Wartick examines three problems with the statement “we are all atheists to other religions, we [atheists] just take it one step further.”  The problems are:

1) The statement is false

2) The statement is irrational

3) The statement–as with many false or irrational statements–proves too much (or too little).

“Conclusion: Why the ‘One God Further’ Objection Doesn’t Add Up”

  1. If one takes the argument to mean we are all atheists to multiple gods, but the skeptic is just an atheist of one more god, then the argument just confuses what is means to be an atheist.  The Christian theist (or Muslim or Jew) are NOT atheists.  Atheism is the believe that God doesn’t exist.  Theists (whether Christian, Islamic, or Jewish) or not atheists at all.
  2. This claim that it is irrational to believe in Odin, Thor, Zeus, Baal, etc. is irrational, thus belief in theism is irrational fails to grapple with the arguments for theism.  It is just an attempt to avoid the work of looking at arguments for (or against) God.

As this last point points out, both objections are just attempts to avoid looking at arguments for God’s existence, which there are plenty (kalam cosmological argument, moral argument, teleological argument, ontological argument, contingency argument, and dozens of others).  Both of these objections against theism have run their course and (unfortunately) will pop back up here and there because of the internet, but please, lets put these to rest.

______________________________

Arguments to Avoid in Defending Christianity” by Douglas Groothuis.  Dr. Groothuis calls each argument a non-starter:

Nonstarter #1: Since we do not know everything, no one can disprove the existence of God. God might be somewhere outside of our knowledge. Moreover, if we knew everything—which is the only way to disprove God—we would end up being God ourselves and, thus, atheism would be false!

Nonstarter #2 People do not die for a lie. But the apostles died for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus, so they must have died for the truth.

Nonstarter #3: Evolution (meaning Darwinism) cannot be proven because it is not scientific. Science demands repeatable and empirical observation: things that can be observed through a microscope or a telescope or chemical reactions in a test tube. Therefore, evolution is unscientific and has no final claim on reality.

Nonstarter #4: You cannot argue with a changed life. A Christian’s testimony is the most powerful and irrefutable apologetic. (Some say it is the only apologetic needed.)

Grootuis is author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, Philosophy in Seven Sentences, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture.

Reflections

John Calvin - Christian Theologian

John Calvin was one of the great voices of the Protestant Reformation, but what exactly did he believe, and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of John Calvin—and why he still matters today.

Who Was John Calvin?

John Calvin (1509–1564) was born in Noyon, Picardy, France, to a devoted Roman Catholic family. He studied the liberal arts at the University of Paris, but his father wanted him to study law, so he went on to receive a law degree at the University of Orléans. Because John Calvin didn’t want to be a lawyer, he returned to the study of classical literature. In Paris, he left the Roman Catholic Church and became part of the Protestant Reformation movement that was then spreading through Europe. He later moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he became one of the leaders of the emerging Reformed…

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This is the fourth part of a series I am doing on Trends in Apologetics.  I have covered Urban ApologeticsCultural Apologetics, and Women in Apologetics.  This post will focus on Children’s Apologetics.

Children’s Apologetics

“Already Gone”

It has been highly promoted that between 50% to 70% of Christian students will abandon the faith in college.  It depends on the study but the findings are seeming consistent: a startling high number of college students are leaving the church.

To counter this trend much focus has been placed on college age and the teenage demographic.  It has come to be recognized that this might be to late.  Ken Ham and Britt Beemer with Toll Hillard identify the middle school and preteen years as the critical moment in Already Gone (first chapter).

This has prompted many to being apologetics even earlier than high school and middle school.  This is Children’s Apologetics.

“Children’s Apologetics”

The earliest attempt at Children’s Apologetics that I could identify is in 1991 with the publication of David Walters’ book Fact or Fantasy: A Study in Christian Apologetics for Children. The age range (according to Amazon.com) is 4-9 years of age.  This is very young. The description states “A children’s and teen’s Bible Study book on Simple Christian Apologetic’s (defend your faith). It helps answer the questions your friends ask you about what you believe.”

Then came along Lee Strobel’s “Case for . . .” series: The Case for caschristkidsChrist (1998), The Case for Faith (2000), The Case for a Creator  (2004), and The Case for the Real Jesus (2007).  He quickly followed up this works with student editions.  The success of these series is hard to estimate, but it is large nonetheless. This was duplicated for kids in The Case for Christ for Kids, The Case for Faith for Kids, and The Case for a Creator for Kids in 2006 (updated and expanded in 2010).  The target age for these books is age 9-12.  I have utilized these books with fourth and fifth graders and find them very useful.

Just before the Case series for Kids was published Josh McDowell edited his tome Evidence that Demands a Verdict for kids in Children Demand a Verdict in 2003.  It looked like things were slowing down for bit on the Children’s Apologetic front after the Case for series for Kids but recently a book on apologetics for kids was written by a detective and a book for parents to train their kids in apologetics was published by a mom:

kidsgodsside                   ColdCaseKids.png

Natasha Crain is blogger at Christian Mom Thoughts that focused on training up children in apologetics and theology.  Post included such topics like “14 Ways I Teach Apologetics to My 5-year-Olds.”   She was approached by Harvest House Publishers to write the book Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith in 2016 as well.  Her book is for parents and helps them “empower their children to respond well to the hard questions that threaten their faith. It’s no secret that children of all ages are being exposed to negative criticism of Christianity as they spend time at school, with friends, or online.”

J. Warner Wallace, the former cold case detective and author of Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Examines the Claims of the Gospels and God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universewrote Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigating Jesus with a Real Detective in 2016.  Not only is this a book on apologetics for children between the ages of 8-12, Wallace (along with his wife Susie) have developed a webpage to guide the readers through the book with videos, printable activities, leader guides, and certificates of completion. A trailer for the book and activities can be viewed:

 

More books for kids by Wallace are to come such as God’s Crime Scene For Kids and Forensic Faith for Kids.

Wallace and Crain were recently featured on November 26, 2016 on Frank Turek’s podcast/radio show CrossExamined titled “How to Teach Your Kids Apologetics.”

Apologetical Resources for Kids

The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel

The Case for Faith for Kids by Lee Strobel

The Case for a Creator for Kids by Lee Strobel

Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigating Jesus with a Real Detective by J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace

Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith by Natasha Crain

Jesus is Alive! Evidence for the Resurrection for Kids by Josh and Sean McDowell

Children Demand a Verdict by Josh McDowell and Kevin Johnson

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 Other posts on Trends in Apologetics:

Urban Apologetics

Cultural Apologetics

Women in Apologetics