Defending The Faith

Growing up in a Christian school and in church I found that engaging with culture, science, and reasoning was often discouraged to keep me on the straight and narrow path. Sometimes it was implied; sometimes it was explicit: if you start thinking, investigating science, or engaging culture, you will stop believing in Christ. As life progressed, events happened, and I was exposed to truths that didn't seem to comport with the God of Christianity that I had been taught existed. Which is exactly what I was told I would find, and I did begin having serious doubts to the point of almost leaving the faith. But I also found it quite odd that these people would believe something that life and evidence stood against. As I matured and began to investigate the world and my worldview on a deeper level, I started questioning the mindset that I was taught. I came across several passages in the Bible that seemed to run contrary to what I had been led to believe.

It started with Christ’s commandment before he ascended into heaven “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19)

Then I came across Peter’s words, “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Later I came across something else that Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37), then I saw, “’Come now, let us reason together’ says the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18) None of these seemed to flow with what I was being taught. Why would Jesus tell us to use our mind and God tell us to reason (use our mind) if they can’t be trusted to find truth? And how could a Christian “give an answer…for the hope [he] has” that would make sense to someone searching for the Truth if they could not recognize truth when presented with it? If the unbeliever (all of us were once one) can’t recognize truth (because of the cursed mind) how could they (we) come to Christ of their own free will?

One of the things that I discovered was that the “blind faith” concept is actually not biblical. Pistis, the Greek word translated as “faith” actually is defined as a conviction based on the facts. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6a) It would be impossible to please God unless our minds can accurately discern the facts.

Not only does Christianity have plenty of room for people to use their mind, but the Bible even commands us to. "Test everything. Hold on to the good." (1 Thes 5:21). Its really cool that God invites us to test His claims about reality. There is nothing wrong with asking questions or looking for reasonable answers. When we look for answers for life's toughest questions, we find that the Christian worldview is the only one that can answer them all coherently and without contradiction.

As Christians we should never be afraid to ask questions, and we should also never discourage unbelievers (and even believers) from asking questions. Answering the tough questions and defending the truth of the Christian worldview against philosophical, scientific, and cultural attack using the mind that God gave us is one of the ways to "...go and make disciples of all nations..." and "love the Lord your God with all your mind."

The blog Faithful Thinkers is dedicated to equipping Christians with the knowledge they need of the latest research in the sciences and humanities that can be used to demonstrate the reasonableness and objective truth of Christianity.

Here are some of the arguments and evidences of the truth of the Christian worldview from the different academic disciplines (please click the links throughout for more detail):

Philosophy

  1. Reason and Logic- Christianity teaches that reason and logic are grounded in the eternal nature of God  (The Word of God and The Mind of Man). God created the universe to reflect such and created human beings with senses and brains capable of discovering God through His creation. Naturalism has no requirement that the universe is constrained by any laws of logic nor does it provide a mechanism for trusting that our senses and reasoning capabilities are capable of obtaining truth (Agents Under Fire). Jesus, being God, provides a solid rock for our ability to reason, thus only Jesus provides a solid rock for any pursuit of knowledge. 
  2. Objective Morality- God provides the foundation for morality in Christian theism. God is eternally unchanging. Morality is grounded outside the individual, so all are responsible to it whether they agree with it or believe it or not. Naturalism grounds morality in the individual, culture, or survival of the species. All of these change, and none of them are eternal, and so are the morals grounded in them just as tenuous. There is no foundation for claiming someone as intoleranthypocritical, or hateful. All moral claims are merely opinions. Jesus provides the only solid rock for anyone to make a moral claim that has the potential to cross the line from opinion to objective fact. 
  3. Intrinsic Value- In the introduction chapters of the Bible, God states that He created man "In His Image," unique from all other creatures. The Image of God gives intrinsic worth and value to whomever carries it because it is grounded in the eternal possessor of intrinsic value- God. Thus all individual humans possess intrinsic value. This affords humans many rights, the least of which is to be loved despite their beliefs and practices. Naturalism gives no special place of value to humanity (or any other species), since we all are evolved from a universal common ancestor that possessed no intrinsic value of its own. Naturalism logically necessitates that a house fly and a human hold the same intrinsic value (here). Any value that is ascribed to an individual animal (humans included) is merely opinion of the individual, culture, or species. Not only does Christ provide the only foundation for moral values as love and tolerance, it is only in Him that man can justly lay claim to being due those by another human. 

Science
Assuming for the sake of argument that logic is a feature of reality and that our minds reason reliably without God's existence, we would need to provide evidence that God exists and that Jesus is God to establish that Jesus is the actual Solid Rock for the above concepts and salvation and not just a theoretical one. Many lines of reasoning from the sciences may be marshaled into a cumulative case (more here and here) for the existence of God (I'm only going to give a few here): 
  1. Astronomy- Scientists have discovered that the universe had an absolute beginning outside of itself. This means that it had a supernatural cause. (Some like to say that a "multiverse" could be the cause, but the BGV theorem says otherwise.) God is an option for such a supernatural cause. (The Creator And The Cosmos)
  2. Astrophysics- Many secular scientists also grant that the universe and earth are extremely finely tuned specifically for advanced human life. Levels of fine-tuning orders of magnitude much lower are seen only as results of minds (humans), so it is logically concluded that the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of the cause of its creation. (Why The Universe Is The Way It Is)
  3. Biochemistry- Attempts to create life in the lab are coming closer to fruition. Though many think that such a feat will show that God is not necessary for the origin of life, it shows quite the opposite: if it weren't for intelligent agents (scientists) intentionally manipulating a highly controlled environment with the expressed purpose of creating life, it would not happen. The successful creation of life requires an intelligent agent powerful enough, precise enough, funded enough and motivated enough to break physical barriers of creation to introduce life. (Creating Life In The Lab)
  4. Psychology / Neurology- Modern psychological therapy require that the patient make the conscious choice to act against the wiring of their brains in order to rewire it to be "normal." Such an act requires that the mind be separate from the brain and not be controlled solely by the brain. This is evidence of an immaterial agent which naturalism has no mechanism to generate (Agents Under Fire) and can easily be created by the Creator of life. 
  5. Anthropology / Genetics- Current studies of human remains and the tracing of the origin of DNA signatures lead many scientists to conclude that humanity originated from one (or a small number of) pair(s) in the geographical location near where theologians believe the Garden of Eden was located. (Who Was Adam). This is more evidence for the historicity of the Genesis account of human origins (Navigating Genesis).
Many more arguments grounded in observational evidence exist and are constantly being tested and refined. For more I highly recommend the sites of Reason to Believe and Reasonable Faith

History
Much evidence for Jesus' life, death, and resurrection has been compiled by scholars over the years. Please see my new page The Resurrection for resources. But to give you a quick intro: Dr. Gary Habermas has an approach that builds a case for the resurrection as an historical event based on five pieces of evidence that the vast majority of critical scholars accept. They are: 
  1. Jesus died by crucifixion
  2. He was buried
  3. His death caused his disciples despair and to lose hope
  4. The tomb was empty
  5. The disciples had experiences that they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus
Habermas chose to use these evidences because they are not under dispute by more than a handful of scholars in the respective fields of academia, and while no other worldview can consistently explain away all the evidences, Christianity explains all of it via its central claim- the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. (The Risen Jesus and a Future Hope)

These posts specifically defend the need for such study and provide some cautions:

These posts provide a foundation for worldview thinking and discussions: