God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Friday, October 4, 2019

Brandt Jean and Amber Guyger: Colored People Who Depend On A Holy Grace

Brandt Jean (brother of Botham Jean) offers forgiveness to Amber Guyger

An Amazing Scene

October 3rd 2019 saw an incredible event take place in the state of Texas. As the sentencing of former police officer, Amber Guyger for the murder of Botham Jean took place, the brother of Botham, Brandt, extended forgiveness to the convicted murderer. He explained that he loved her and wanted the best for her. He invited her to seek forgiveness from God and, to the surprise of everyone in the courtroom, he asked the judge if he could give her a hug. To say that the scene was "powerful to witness" would be an understatement. You can read more and see the touching video here:

Young Man Stuns Courtroom By Forgiving Brother's Murderer, Urging Her To Seek Christ

This event and trial have been plagued with charges of racism, hatred, and division. But Brandt decided to break through all that to show Amber the love and forgiveness of Christ offered to everyone who will seek it. I am reminded tonight of the words of one of my favorite songs growing up on the 90s:
"We're colored people and we live in a tainted place...We've got a history so full of mistakes. And we are colored people who depend upon a holy grace." 
If these lyrics do not sound familiar, or you are recalling them for the first time in a while and want to hear the song again, here is the original music video from dc Talk:



It is only in the Christian worldview that we find unity in this amazing colorful diversity. We are all created in the Image of God with equal and intrinsic value. We all make mistakes, mistakes with some of the most devastating and fatal impacts and consequences on our fellow human beings, but there is no mistake that is beyond the forgiveness of a loving God for those who genuinely seek His forgiveness. It is my prayer that Guyger seeks this forgiveness.

For more on this unique features of the Christian worldview, I encourage you to check out these additional posts:

Monday, September 2, 2019

Evidence For The Empty Tomb of Jesus and Big Bang Cosmology

Introduction

The concept of "enemy attestation" is an important concept that is often used when arguing for the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. The importance comes from the general recognition that if an enemy (here, "enemy" just means someone who is philosophically committed against a view) affirms the truth of a claim, especially if that claim's being true is damaging to their counter-claim, it is likely true. Usually, in such a case, the evidence is so strong for the claim that the enemy would publically risk intellectual integrity if they were to continue with their rejection. They "bite the bullet," so to say, accept the evidence, and search for some way to make the evidence compatible with their view.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Young-Earth Creationism and The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Introduction

As I have had conversations with both atheists and fellow believers regarding the origin of the universe, our planet, life, and ultimately, humans, one issue seems to baffle those on both sides about what I defend. I am not a naturalist; I am not an evolutionist; I am not even a theistic evolutionist, but I am also not a young-earth creationist. I am an old-earth creationist. This means that I accept that the universe is ancient (roughly 13.7 billion years old), yet I deny that the diversity of life is the product of the natural selection of countless mutations over time, descended from a universal common ancestor (altogether, "evolution"). I believe that God created some things from nothing (including the universe [and its laws], life, animals, and humans), and I believe He intricately and purposefully worked within the natural laws and processes, that He created from nothing, to make other things, particularly our planet.

Many atheists and fellow Christians (usually of the young-earth creationist position) insist that such a combination of beliefs is not logically consistent. This claim of inconsistency encourages the atheist to reject the truth of Christianity and the Christian to reject the truth revealed by God's creation. Consequently, when I say that I affirm big bang cosmology, many young-earth creationist Christians hear me say "I deny the truth of Christianity," and when I say that I am a Christian, many atheists hear me say, "I affirm young-earth creationism."

These atheists and young-earth creationists make the same mistake: they conflate young-earth creationism with Christianity. This conflation amounts to the belief that young-earth creationism is Christianity and Christianity is young-earth creationism. Today, I want to take some time to address this common conflation and demonstrate that this is not a logical reason for the atheist to reject Christ nor for the Christian to reject the truth revealed by God's creation.

Why Is This Conflation Important to Recognize and Reject?

It is important to recognize this conceptual and logical conflation and reject it. If we are to continue to commit this fallacy, then severe implications arise for both the atheist and for the Christian.

Implications for Atheists- If Christianity is true, then any belief that stands between an unbeliever and accepting that Christianity is true has severe implications on the unbeliever for all eternity. If they do not accept Christ's sacrifice for their sin, then they doomed to eternal conscious separation from their only source of life and love: God. If you take the highest level and volume of suffering that this life has, it is nothing compared to this hell that will be consciously experienced by the unbeliever. This is why it is vital for the unbeliever to investigate not only the truth of reality but to ensure that the logic used to come to different conclusions (especially the one that states that Christianity is false) is valid.

Implications for Christians- Christianity is not just a worldview of private, personal worship, it is a worldview of evangelism. As Christians we not only do not want others to experience the hell described above, but we strongly desire that others experience the love and a personal relationship with the only God, who also knows what it is like to live the human struggle and love His image bearers enough to die a torturous death so we do not have to. It is our duty to the Creator of the universe to check our defense of the Christian worldview, to ensure that the unsaved have every intellectual stumbling block removed that we have the opportunity and power to remove (the Holy Spirit must remove the others). This means that we must ensure that the claims we make are true and that the logic we use is valid; otherwise, our effectiveness in evangelizing to scientifically-minded unbelievers will be greatly reduced. Mark Whorton, in his book "Peril in Paradise" (and paraphrasing Augustine of Hippo)*, explains this quite succinctly:

Quote from the book "Peril in Paradise" by Mark Whorton- "If a Christian makes erroneous arguments from Scripture on a matter that the unbelievers know perfectly well, we should not expect them to believe the Scriptures on the more important matters of sin and salvation."


Now, because the unbeliever is responsible to make the choice to follow Christ or not to follow Christ, and many unbelievers use the mounds of evidence against a young universe to justify their rejection of Christ, my goal today is to show that the argument used to justify the idea that Christianity is false via the falsehood of young-earth creationism is unsound, thus the atheist cannot logically (but they can emotionally) use young-earth creationism to reject Christ.

What the Gospel Is and Is Not

To begin with, the Gospel is not big bang cosmology, and the Gospel is not young-earth creationism. According to the source of revelation of the Gospel (the Bible), the Gospel is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15). If the atheist claims that young-earth creationism is the Gospel, they are guilty of the conflation and are erecting a strawman of the Christian worldview in order to easily knock it down and reject Christ. If the young-earth creationist claims that young-earth creationism is the Gospel, they deny the sufficiency of the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15) and legitimize the atheist's strawman. In biblical terms, legitimizing the atheist's strawman is the same as giving credence to an argument or presumption that "acknowledges itself against the knowledge of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). No Christian wants to be guilty of any such thing!

The historical events of God's creation are independent of the historical event of Jesus' Resurrection. Because they are independent events that took place at different moments in history, they can be established independently of one another. Since they can be independently established, the conclusion of one does not necessarily affect the conclusion about the other. In other words, if the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and Christ has been raised from the dead, Christianity is true, but if the universe is only 6,000-10,000 years old and Christ has not been raised from the dead, Christianity is false.

It is as simple as that. Anyone who tells you differently is not only being unbiblical (creating a strawman of the Gospel), they are telling you something false about reality, history, and salvation. Because these events are separate from one another, the conflation is invalid and unnecessary, and the evidence against the universe's youth cannot be used as a logical reason to reject Christ (whether the universe truly is young or not).

The Unsound Arguments

To go a little deeper and a little more technical, let us look at the arguments made by the respective sides and see how the conflation causes a problem with the conclusions. This conflation by both atheist and young-earth creationist leads to the false dichotomy evidenced in these two arguments:

The Atheist's argument:
1. If young-earth creationism is false, then Christianity is false.
2. Young-earth creationism is false.
3. Therefore, Christianity is false.

The Young-Earth Creationist's Argument:
1. If Christianity is true, then young-earth creationism is true.
2. Christianity is true.
3. Therefore, young-earth creationism is true.

While both arguments are valid (modus ponens), their first premises are necessarily dependent upon the strawman described above, so those premises are necessarily false. Because of the falsehood of the two first premises, they render their respective arguments unsound, and the conclusions "Christianity is false," and "Young-Earth creationism is true," respectively) do not follow. In fact, I would argue that not only does neither conclusion follow, neither conclusion is true (they cannot be established by any other sound argument), which means that I affirm the atheist's second premise (young-earth creationism is false) and the young-earth creationist's second premise (Christianity is true). These two second premises (both of which I affirm) are not in conflict because the two first premises of the arguments are false. The combination of my beliefs of the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of young-earth creationism is perfectly consistent.

Conclusion

For the Christian, the severe implication of conflating young-earth creationism with Christianity stifles their evangelistic effectiveness. Presenting the Christian worldview as "accept young-earth creationism or reject Christ" legitimizes a strawman of Christianity through the false dichotomy and "acknowledges itself against the knowledge of Christ" to the atheist. And for the atheist, the severe implication of conflating young-earth creationism with Christianity, as indicated by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 10, presents an unreasonable and unnecessary barrier to forgiveness and eternal life. It is imperative that both the atheist and the young-earth creationist recognize and reject the idea that young-earth creationism and Christianity are the same thing, so that they can, respectively, be open to the truth of the Resurrection in history and effectively communicate the truth of the Gospel in history.

For More On This Topic, See These Posts:

*A friend reminded me (after this post's original publish date), that Whorton was quoting from Augustine's "The Literal Meaning of Genesis," and I want to include it in full for the reader to appreciate its full effect: 
"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him aintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."- Augustin, “The literal meaning of Genesis”, Book 1, 19.39 (circa AD 415)