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

Reasons In and Out of a Worldview

"I believe that anyone sincerely seeking Truth is going to find it. The problem is, most people are not looking for Truth, they are looking for evidence to support their assumptions. It takes a lot of humility to actually pursue Truth sincerely."- Rachel Oja*

In so many of my interactions with people, I have found that they have already made a commitment one way or the other to certain worldviews and are looking for intellectual reasons to either maintain that commitment, be public about the commitment or escape another commitment. I know people who are ready to accept any worldview except for X and others who are committed to accepting any form of worldview Y. Some are currently in worldview Z but are looking for intellectual reasons to either remain in or to get out.

I have found that Christianity is not immune to this observation. Some people are looking to get in but need intellectual reasons, while other are looking to get out but need intellectual reasons. I have seen people leave Christianity because someone asked them "well, who created God?". I have seen people come to Christianity for "fire insurance". Neither of those being logical reasons.

Multiverse and Rationality

Something that I was thinking about the other day: some people are familiar with Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. Basically it states that because people believe false things that help survivability (such as "god", from the naturalist's perspective), evolution does not favor minds that recognize truth, but minds that recognize how to survive- if a belief just happens to be true, it is pure coincidence.

However, I was contemplating the multiverse (or multiple worlds) hypothesis, and it seems that this only compounds the problem. For those uninitiated, multiverse theory states that our universe is not the only universe there is. There are many other universes that do exist; however, our instruments cannot detect them because they are outside our universe. This theory comes in several flavors, but the one I am talking about is the one that is capable of explaining the fine-tuning and design in the universe, along with being an alternative to God as the "banger" that the cosmological argument requires. In order to account for the fine-tuning of the physical constants of the universe, some naturalists posit that there are an infinite (or near infinite) number of universes, each possessing different constants of physics. Ours just happens to be the one that is amenable to advanced life, and that is why we exist to observe the "fine-tuning".

Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit

I can remember when I was kid that someone had told me that the way I knew that my Christian faith was true, was that I would have a feeling in my heart that it was true. It was described as a "peace". I remember a few people telling me that this is how they knew that Christ rose from the dead. I want to take a few minutes to look at the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

I was reading Gary Habermas' book The Resurrection of Jesus and the Future Hope and came across a chapter dealing with the witness of the Holy Spirit (Chapter 9). He stated that it is not necessarily emotional (but can be), and if the witness is strong, it can overcome any objection, counter-witness, struggle, etc. that challenges one's belief. It is described as being experienced only by an individual (subjective) yet being a real experience (objective). Since it is subjective, it may serve as "evidence" for the individual, but for the same reason it cannot be used as evidence for others. Yet we see people who use such a witness to the truth of their view as evidence for other people. We even see conflicting witnesses (two who testify to opposite claims)- both sides being unrelenting in their dedication to the belief- which, at least one of them is wrong.

This made me wonder if perhaps there are other spirits that testify to the truth of other worldviews in the same way. If so, how would two people who are making opposite claims about a subjective feeling (say, Christians and Mormons) determine which spirit is being truthful? Since such spirits are part of the non-physical realm, we can't just directly ask them questions and test them. However, the claims that the spirit is testifying to may be tested. As I mentioned in the post a few weeks ago "Can Religion Be Tested For Truth", we can test any claim that is made about the real world. If we have a feeling that something is true, we can test it to find out for sure. That is exactly what needs to be done in this case. If we find that what is testified to is false, then we can conclude that either the spirit is a lying spirit, or (if the test removes the possibility of a spirit's existence) that the "feeling" was just a product of our wishing.

The thing is that this testimony of a spirit can be extremely powerful. Many Christians who do not test the testimony (or don't know how to) still remain firm in their belief that Christianity is true. This is, many times, what carries them through trials and onslaughts of challenges. From a Christian perspective, this is a great thing. Not every Christian is called to conduct an indepth investigation into the evidence for Christianity. There are many other tasks that need to be done for the Kingdom. For those members of the Body of Christ, God has provided two resources- those who ARE called to the investigations, but they are not always around when others need them, so The Holy Spirit provides the reminders of past experiences with God, which affirms to that person that their faith is grounded in the One who has been trustworthy in the past and will remain trustworthy to the end (see my post "What is Faith?").

I'm reminded of a song by Natalie Grant- "Our Hope Endures"*.

Grant poses the problem of evil: "You would think that only so much can go wrong...you assume that this one has suffered her share." It intensifies with the problem that God seems hidden: "Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years. Sometimes the sky rains night after night." Then comes the question: "When will it clear?!" Grant answers: "Our hope endures the worst of conditions. Its more than optimism. Let the earth quake; our hope is unchanged." She implies that both problems may continue for a long time, but that God is with us. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit is the source of this hope. It is what keeps our hope enduring and why we don't lose our faith. Challenges may come that will shake our faith to the core, but somehow people still hang on to it- that is the power of inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

It is not just for those who have not investigated their faith. Notice that Natalie Grant does not mention the intellectual problem of evil that a relative few people deal with; she mentions the emotional problem of evil that challenges everyone. Those emotional challenges are a "check" to ensure that even the most intellectual Christian remains dependent upon his Savior. Christians can be realists- we can recognize the true nature and depth of evil present in this world. The hope that we have gives us the confidence and peace that we will make it through the pain and suffering. This confidence and peace allows us to face the realities of this world with joy and see every obstacle as an opportunity. "What kind of joy is this? This is the joy of a soul that is forgiven and free."**

*Grant, Natalie. "Our Hope Endures." Relentless. Curb Records, 2008
** Chapman, Steven Curtis. "What Kind of Joy." For the Sake of the Call. Sparrow Records, 1992

Understanding and Belief

Not too long ago I was discussing naturalistic evolution with an atheist. After a while of being unable to convince me of its truth, he told me that if I understood it, I would believe it. And further that since I didn't believe it or understand it, that any arguments I offered would be strawmen, and he didn't have to respond to them. I let the discussion rest at that point. Not because I saw the problem with what he was saying, but more because I was caught "off guard" and saw that he had actually come to that conclusion before we even began the conversation.

I wasn't too worried about it at the time, but I've come across similar claims from those who don't agree with me on other things as well. So I'm going to take a few minutes to put together a response for such claims.

A Quote For Independence Day

"We have been preserved this many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown but we have forgotten the gracious hand that has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming grace, too proud to pray to the God Who has made us"- Abraham Lincoln

Book Review: Chosen But Free

Book Review: "Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of God's Sovereignty and Free Will" by Christian philosopher and theologian Dr. Norman Geisler


One of the major debates in Christianity is the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's free will. Many people interpret the two to be at odds. Each side believes that the other side will result in compromising some essential doctrine of the faith. I wish I were immune to such a debate, but I'm not. I have found myself in the middle of it; not debating for one side or the other, but trying to figure out which side to go with. Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of God's Sovereignty and Free Will is Norman Geisler's attempt to reconcile the two doctrines.

Chapter 1: Ideas Do Have Consequences

This is the third edition. The book itself is only 188 pages in ten chapters. But in addition is another 149 pages worth of 14 appendices. The first few chapters are quite short. In chapter one, Geisler explains that ideas have consequences and that big ideas have big consequences. He provides a couple examples of the consequences of taking God's sovereignty or man's free will to a logical extreme.