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

Top Posts of 2012 #1: Race and Homosexuality

The final week (maybe, I'm getting used to this) of my vacation and the Top 5 posts of 2012!

Today is Top Post #1: Ravi Zacharias On Race and Homosexuality

Previous Winners:
#5: Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed
#4: Book Review: This is Your Brain on Music
#3: The Fear of Atheism
#2: Who Created God?

Thank you to all my readers who tweet and post the articles for others to see. 

Thank you, too, to everyone who has been willing to offer constructive critique of my posts. The posts in the list are still open for comments...feel free! :)

A Special Thanks to Apologetics 315, The Poached Egg and The Christian Apologetics Alliance for their fantastic apologetics ministries as they have been instrumental in getting the content of Faithful Thinkers, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the thinking masses.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Top Posts of 2012 #2: Who Created God?

Week #4 of my vacation and the Top 5 posts of 2012.
Today is Top Post #2: Who Created God?

Previous Winners:
#5: Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed
#4: Book Review: This is Your Brain on Music
#3: The Fear of Atheism 

Thank you to all my readers who tweet and post the articles for others to see. 

Thank you, too, to everyone who has been willing to offer constructive critique of my posts. The posts in the list are still open for comments...feel free! :)

A Special Thanks to Apologetics 315, The Poached Egg and The Christian Apologetics Alliance for their fantastic apologetics ministries as they have been instrumental in getting the content of Faithful Thinkers, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the thinking masses.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Top Posts of 2012 #3: Fear of Atheism

Week #3 of my vacation and the Top 5 posts of 2012.
Today is Top Post #3: The Fear of Atheism

Previous Winners:
#5: Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed
#4: Book Review: This is Your Brain on Music

Thank you to all my readers who tweet and post the articles for others to see. 

Thank you, too, to everyone who has been willing to offer constructive critique of my posts. The posts in the list are still open for comments...feel free! :)

A Special Thanks to Apologetics 315, The Poached Egg and The Christian Apologetics Alliance for their fantastic apologetics ministries as they have been instrumental in getting the content of Faithful Thinkers, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the thinking masses.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Top Posts of 2012 #4: Your Brain on Music

Week #2 of my vacation and the Top 5 posts of 2012.
Today is Top Post #4: Book Review: This is Your Brain on Music

Previous Winners:
#5: Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed

Thank you to all my readers who tweet and post the articles for others to see. 

Thank you, too, to everyone who has been willing to offer constructive critique of my posts. The posts in the list are still open for comments...feel free! :)

A Special Thanks to Apologetics 315, The Poached Egg and The Christian Apologetics Alliance for their fantastic apologetics ministries as they have been instrumental in getting the content of Faithful Thinkers, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the thinking masses.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Top Posts of 2012 #5: The Hunger Games

Well, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the rest of the year. But I'm not about to leave my faithful readers too "high and dry". Each week this month, I will feature one of the Top 5 most popular posts from the past year.

If you are new to Faithful Thinkers, this list reflects the posts with the most catchy and clickable titles, and may provide an indication that other readers found the content useful. :)

Today is #5: Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed

Previous Winners:
Since there is no #6, here's the Christmas post from last year: Santa Claus and Our Children's Trust

Thank you to all my readers who tweet and post the articles for others to see. 

Thank you, too, to everyone who has been willing to offer constructive critique of my posts. The posts in the list are still open for comments...feel free! :)

A Special Thanks to Apologetics 315, The Poached Egg and The Christian Apologetics Alliance for their fantastic apologetics ministries as they have been instrumental in getting the content of Faithful Thinkers, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the thinking masses.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

The Advantages of Hypocrisy

Contradiction in Hypocrisy
One of the objections to Christianity that I hear quite often doesn't really come as a challenge to the traditional arguments for God's existence or Jesus' resurrection. It, instead, makes an observation about the followers of Christ and draws a conclusion about the truth of their beliefs based on how well they follow what they say they believe.

This is the problem of hypocrisy in the Church. Many unbelievers look at Christians and see that we all are not perfect and that we sin, quite often, in fact. What gets people is that if someone believes something, then they should be acting like they believe it. They think that if someone's actions are not perfectly in line with what they say they believe, then they don't really believe it. "If someone who says they believe something doesn't actually believe it, then why should I believe it?"

I like how Ravi Zacharias describes this in his book, The Grand Weaver. Zacharias points out that such hypocrisy creates a contradiction in the life of the Christian (Chapter 4). The unbeliever sees this contradiction, and knowing that contradictions are not a part of reality, they may then reject the worldview of the Christian.

Is Faith Emotional or Logical?

So many people, both religious and non-religious, believe that faith is purely emotional, and in most contexts people imply the word "blind" before "faith". While few others believe that faith is logical- that it is firmly grounded on something. Lately, I've been reading the book "Emotional Intelligence" by psychologist Daniel Goleman and a few thoughts came to mind regarding this seeming dichotomy between faith being based on emotion versus being based on reason. Before I go into that connection or disconnection, though, I want to establish what I mean by "faith".

Faith in Time
I hear people all the time say that they "have faith". It seems to inspire them and those around them, but it often leaves me confused. Sure, someone can say that they "have faith". But when I hear this, I am compelled to ask a few questions:

"What do you have faith in?"
"What makes you believe that thing is worth placing your faith in it?"
"Why do you need to put 'faith' in something anyway?"

The Necessity Of God And The Death of Philosophy

I saw this image on Facebook the other day (states "God isn't an option, He's a necessity"). As a Christian I accept this because it is a part of the truth of Christianity (and consequently, reality). But the unbeliever doesn't tend to accept it or even appreciate the significance of this statement...especially if they claim to know anything (even as minimal as that they exist). Formally put, here is one way to present the argument:

1. Evolution is driven by survivability of organisms
2. Human brains and senses are the product of evolution
3. Therefore human brains' and senses' existence is driven by survivability- From 1 and 2
4. Beliefs come from the human brain reacting to sense experience
5. Therefore beliefs exist based on assistance to survivability- From 3 and 4
6. Humans believe that God exists
7. Therefore the belief that God exists exists based on its assistance to survivability- From 5 and 6

8. God does not exist
9. Therefore evolution favors false beliefs over true beliefs if the false belief helps survivability more than the true belief- From 7 and 8

10. Therefore the human brain and senses cannot be trusted to yield truth about reality (knowledge)- From 2 and 9

Double-Edged Sword of Authorities

We all like to cite and appeal to people who are well trained in the discipline that we are talking about. We also tend to denigrate arguments or claims of someone who is not trained in the area being discussed. The fact that someone has mastered a subject means that they are an extremely valuable resource that should not be dismissed, while someone who has not studied as in-depth, by necessity of the situation, does not have as much knowledge. It seems only logical to prefer the word of the person with the greater knowledge to the person with lesser knowledge.

All arguments consist of premises and conclusions. A proper authority is preferred when supporting the truth of a premise, but that does not mean that their logic is valid. If the logic is not valid, then the conclusion does not follow. Because of this, appealing to a proper authority does not guarantee that the conclusion follows. So, even though appealing to an authority is helpful, it is not sufficient. It is in this case that someone with lesser knowledge, but good reasoning may have an advantage, but not necessarily. More knowledge could still be used to demonstrate that the conclusion is over-stated.

Appealing to "proper" authorities when making an argument requires more than just someone who can support the truth of the premises. There should also be an appeal to someone who can support the logic of the argument. Interestingly, most of us support our premises with citations, but we rarely support our logic by citing proper authorities on reasoning.

But just as citing an authority to support a premise does not necessitate the truth of the premise, neither does citing an authority to support our logic make the conclusion necessarily follow. This brings up the reason that we all need to make sure that we understand proper reasoning. We have to be able to accurately assess arguments and determine if the conclusions actually do follow. A great introductory resource that I recommend is Norman Geisler's Come, Let Us Reason. Its not too long and is easy for the beginner. All apologists should be familiar with this resource as it may be one that they can recommend to help people understand and evaluate the logic of the arguments presented to them. .

Many great resources regarding proper reasoning and logic can be found at Apologetics 315.

More posts regarding appeals to authorities:
Do You Rely Upon Authorities?
Peer-Reviewed Only, Please

Book Review: The Grand Weaver

Book Review: "The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives" by Christian philosopher and apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias


Zacharias introduces The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (Paperback, Kindle, Audio CD) by preparing an analogy. He takes the reader on a descriptive journey to a place in India where saris are made. These large masterpieces are woven thread-by-thread, line-by-line in a pain-staking process. These can take weeks and even months to complete. The entire time, the weaver has a single design in his mind that he wishes to create. Every weave that he does, though individually they may seem insignificant, contribute to the whole. Over time, the design takes shape and becomes more evident. As the title of the book indicates, Zacharias wishes to use the weaving of a magnificent sari to illustrate God's design and purposes for what He has chosen to and allows to take place in our lives.

Chapter 1: Your DNA Matters

In the first chapter, Zacharias focuses on the physical attributes that God has chosen for each person. He explains how our DNA allows for each person to be physically unique. He explains that even certain outcomes that we believe to be crippling (physically or mentally) are not flaws in the design, but are set for a reason- all part of God's design for the individual's life. As an example he points to a young man who is a weaver yet seems to have mental challenges. Not everyone's purpose is the same, so God is not going to give every person the same tools. We shouldn't complain about what God has given us, but use what He has given us.

Questions That Are Off-Limits- Part 2

Last week we looked at questions that atheists tend to shy away from for whatever reason, and we looked at questions that are truly off-limits to those in an atheistic world. Today, we will see if Christianity has any such questions. 

What is Off Limits In The Church?

One of the great advantages of Christianity over atheism is that the questions that are off limits in atheism are central to Christianity- God exists and He does have a purpose for all the pain and suffering that we experience. But does Christianity have its own questions that it says are off limits that may cause the worldview to implode?

The Culture of "Questions Not Allowed"

Around the age of 12 or 13, I discovered that my asking questions was quite annoying to many people. Generally, people didn't mind my asking a couple basic questions here and there. But when I started asking a lot of questions, or my questions began to point out a real issue between two of their claims, their demeanor changed. I noticed this especially in church. People didn't mind my asking some basic questions about Christianity, but when I started getting into deeper theology, they ran. Some rebuked the questioning. This gave me a very sour feeling around many fellow Christians as if asking tough questions about what we believed was off limits. This was one of the reasons that I drifted away from the Church. My thoughts were these: if Christianity is true, why are Christians so afraid of being challenged? Christianity was for the intellectually weak and emotionally driven.

Questions That Are Off-Limits- Part 1

I have always been a curious person. I love to ask questions. What things work, how they work, and why they work. Math and the sciences had a great appeal to me in school. I always interacted with the teacher or professor. I was always trying to make connections among different pieces of knowledge that I was being taught. As I got older, if someone told me something, I liked to know how they obtained that knowledge and how it related to other knowledge I already had.

This continues even today. As a result, I've never been one to not challenge someone who I suspected was giving me wrong information. But I don't challenge just for the sake of challenging. I challenge in order to find the correct connections among facts. I challenge so that I may discover the truth.

You Don't Know Jack, But Its Okay

I Don't Know Jack!
Something that I've learned as I learn more is just how little I really do know when compared to the vast body of knowledge available at my fingertips. Today we have access to so much knowledge that it would be impossible to consume it all. More knowledge is constantly being discovered, so I'd be fighting a losing battle if I tried to consume it all. When we look at the numerous disciplines that one may earn a degree in at the local university and all the research required to master the material, it is overwhelming. And when we realize that people in every one of these fields are gathering more, we realize that the knowledge base is growing not additionally but exponentially.

I have mixed feelings when I reflect on all the knowledge that I don't possess when compared to what I do have. There is a certain level of humility that is experienced that is so great that even that word doesn't do the feeling justice. If I were to ever claim that I understand a subject, its indistinguishably guaranteed that someone else understands it better. And since there are so many disciplines of knowledge, it is important for me to understand that even though I may think I'm a master of my field, I am an ignoramus when it comes to practically every other field of knowledge. Due to this reality of my lack of knowledge, my pride must stay in check, lest I be made the fool in discussion or debate.

Book Review: 7 Truths That Changed The World

"7 Truths That Changed The World: Discovering Christianity's Most Dangerous Ideas" by Christian philosopher Kenneth Samples


Philosopher Kenneth Samples (Reasons to Believe) recently published his third book: "7 Truths That Changed The World: Discovering Christianity's Most Dangerous Ideas" (PaperbackKindle and GoodReads). The idea behind the book is to examine ideas in the Christian worldview that stand in direct opposition to the majority of worldviews, making them dangerous to believe. Samples' approach to defending the truth of Christianity in this book is based on building a cumulative case for the worldview (not just a single doctrine, such as the existence of God). He introduces each idea by explaining the idea that Christianity will challenge, then he goes into a good amount of detail of the idea as he provides evidence for its truth versus the challenged idea.

Dangerous Idea #1: Not All Dead Men Stay Dead

Samples begins his presentation with what he calls "Christianity's most dangerous idea." He examines the claim that Jesus of Nazareth died and came back to life. Samples goes over seven pieces of evidence that critical scholars tend to agree took place. He explains the significance of each one and how they all come together to support the conclusion that Jesus bodily resurrected from the dead. Samples also examines several different naturalistic explanations for the evidence offered. He explains the weaknesses of each one and concludes that there is no other sound conclusion than that Jesus did rise from the dead.

How and Why The Problem of Evil

Lately two three-letter words have been getting me thinking about the problem of evil. They are simple words that may stand alone in order to ask two unique questions. It seems that when we properly distinguish between these two words, we can see a clear pointer to the truth of Christianity playing out in the lives of every person alive. These two words are "How" and "Why".

How vs. Why and Its Common Confusion
"How" is a question of mechanism. When someone asks this question, they are (presumably) looking for the physical, cause-and-effect series that led to the result. If someone asks how a house is built, the answer would include all the steps from laying the foundation to the final inspection.

"Why" is a question of purpose. When someone asks this question, they are (presumably) looking for the reason that the house was built. If someones asks why a house is built, the answer would normally include the fact that it will provide a living space for a family.

I've noticed that quite often, these two very different questions are confused by both questioner and listener. A lot of times when someone wants to know "how" something took place, they will ask "why" it happened. Likewise, if someone wants to know "why" something happened, they will ask "how" it took place. In some cases the listener will understand the question (regardless of the incorrect word being used) and provide the answer appropriate to the question, but there are other times that the listener does not recognize that someone is asking "why" and they answer "how" instead (because they asked "how"). 

Confusion of the questions can have trivial effects or eternal consequences. Since "why" is a question of purpose, in worldviews where ultimate purpose does not exist, a "why" question is irrational to ask about suffering, evil, and even existence. A person who asks "why" assumes that there is a purpose, and they want to know it. But if a worldview that posits no ultimate purpose is true, then the assumptions in the question contradict reality- that is how a "why" question is irrational on, say, atheism, but is perfectly valid (and compelled) if Christianity is true.

Worldview Implications
In atheism, asking why anything happens cannot be answered because "why" is a question of ultimate purpose, but atheism, a priori, has no ultimate purpose. Now, it can answer "how" something happened. A person could go into all the different laws of physics and chain reactions of cause-and-effect that led to the result that the question is being asked about.

Unlike atheism, theism can answer both questions. Theism can answer "how" something took place and "why" it took place. Atheism uses the scientific disciplines to answer a lot of "how" questions (not all, though that is a topic for another post)- that is the limit of science's ability. If we believe that science will answer all our questions, we are wrong. Science cannot answer our "why" questions. Granted science may be able to answer "how" we can ask "why" questions, but it will never answer "why" we ask "why" questions. It may be able to answer "how" we have a sense of purpose, but it will never answer "why" we have a sense of purpose (more on this below). An attempt to answer "how" when the question is "why" is an attempt to explain away what cannot be explained by naturalistic worldviews.

Applying to The Problem of Evil
For a person who assumes that there is a purpose behind a certain happening (something evil tends to the what the question is about), answering "how" is not sufficient. In fact, it is actually a red herring, intentional or not. The person is looking for comfort in the form of assurance that the suffering was not gratuitous and was not useless. Answering "how" when someone is asking "why" can actually make the situation worse for the person- by implying that the answerer either doesn't understand the pain the person is experiencing as they ask the question or that they have no comfort to offer but are trying to hide that fact by avoiding the actual question.

When we apply this distinction between the two types of questions to the problem of evil, we realize that the logical problem of evil is a "how" question. It asks how an all-loving and all-powerful God and evil can co-exist. It has been recognized generally that this question has been answered. But, that does not mean that the emotional problem of evil is answered. They are two very different questions.

The emotional problem of evil is a "why" question. It questions the ultimate purpose of evil and suffering in the world. Now, let's assume for the moment that when someone asks this question that they are assuming that the evil or suffering they are asking about does have a purpose (meaning that they assume theism). The ultimate purpose behind the evil and suffering in the world is difficult to answer, at best, because of the fact that man does not have the mind of God- man does not necessarily know the purposes behind certain things that happen. But we don't have to always appeal to mystery to answer the emotional problem of evil about certain events.

Many of us recognize that events that take place in our lives would not have happened if it were not for other events in our past. Notice that I am looking to the cause-and-effect series. I am asking a "how" question of a recent event to answer the "why" question of an event further in the past. If we can see the good that is taking place now (the event that sparks the "how" question), then we can see the purpose for the suffering that we had to endure in the past (the events that spark the "why" question).

The Scope of Evil Events
Now we have to remember that the emotional problem of evil will never be completely answered. We will not be able to see every good thing that comes from every evil event that takes place. What takes place in our lives does not only affect us; it affects those around us, and what happens to them affects those around them, and so on. The implication here is that we may never know the reason that we had to endure some suffering. We also may never know the reason that someone else had to endure suffering. And interestingly enough, the suffering that we see in the past can be part of the cause-and-effect series that has led to what good we have in our own lives today.

Patience is a Virtue
Notice that in order to answer the "why" question of the emotional problem of evil, we must be patient, and we must be actively looking for the paths that led to what is good in our lives today. It is very rare that we will know the purpose behind an evil event right away. Very few of us like to wait. 

We are very impatient; we want everything, and we want it now. We want to know everything, and we want to know it all now. But as you can see, life bears out this truth: "Those who wait on the Lord, will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31a NASB). When we are patient to see what God brings about in our lives or in the lives of others, the emotional weakness that we suffered from a specific event in the past can be lifted when we see that it was part of God's mechanism for bringing about something good in our lives or someone else's life. By that new recognized connection our strength is renewed, and our trust in God is increased for the next time that something evil takes place in our lives (see my posts "What is Faith?" and "Is Faith Emotional or Logical?").

The Purpose Of The Emotional Problem of Evil
Many people see the emotional problem of evil as a huge challenge to the truth of Christianity. It is, if you wish to interpret it that way. One can certainly think that since they don't or can't know everything (see "Dangers of Requiring Complete Knowledge") that God is evil and unfair to you. However, I believe we must ask another "why" question: "Why must we struggle with the emotional problem of evil?" Notice that I didn't ask "how do we..." (I'll let the naturalists attempt to answer that one). The key to answer this question is above- building trust in God. If people did not, first experience evil and suffering, and second, feel the emotional pain from it, we would not struggle with it ("how" the struggle exists). And without the struggle, we would not recognize our own weakness and powerlessness in our lives to avoid evil and suffering. The suffering in life painfully reminds us that we are not in control until the day we die. Without that recognition, we would not be able to recognize our need for Someone who loves us enough to die so that we can eternally escape evil and suffering. The purpose for the existence of the emotional problem of evil is to bring people to Christ and know Him more intimately (see the recent post "Tornadoes, Flat Tires, and Moore").

Atheism does not have the ability to answer our most painful and real question: "why". If we want such answers, we have to recognize that life is not about us, and at best, we are second to One. And with that humble recognition comes a promise: God's love never fails. Only through Christ can we answer "how" and "why" evil exists and why we must suffer the pain of evil.

When a Strawman Becomes A Red Herring

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post that makes the distinction between the logical implications of a view and what the adherent actually believes. The implications necessarily follow, but the person's beliefs do not necessarily follow. I pointed out that it is important when critiquing a view that if an adherent does not believe the implications, we should make that clear- we are critiquing the logical consistency of the worldview, not what the person believes. I explained that if this distinction is not made clear, the adherent to the worldview will likely see this as a strawman of their view and dismiss the critique as not applying.

When this distinction is not made clear, the adherent may focus on the proposed implications- the accusation of the commission of the strawman fallacy. Ironically, if the person offering the critique of the view makes the distinction clear, then the adherent is actually maintaining the strawman- they are claiming that the person critiquing the view is attributing the implications to the adherent even though they make it clear that they are not.

Solving the Problem of Evil


A couple weeks ago a commenter asked a short series of questions about evil that I think deserve more than just a comment. The questions were posed on my article "Pain, Suffering, and Purpose". I was already in a conversation with another commenter about leaving a legacy from the Christian and the atheistic worldviews, and it seems that these questions tie right into that conversation. Here they are:
  1. Are we (humans-Christians or non-christians) created to solve the problem evil?
  2. Can we make this world a better place?
  3. Can our legacy be to make it better than we found it?
Given the series of questions, this appears to be a question not about the logical problem of evil or even the emotional problem of evil, but the eradication of evil- was man created to remove evil? The logical problem of evil merely poses the challenge of the idea that an all-loving and all-powerful God is incompatible with the existence of evil. It assumes that evil exists. The emotional problem of evil focuses on the psychological effects that we experience from seeing the evil in the world. It is used to fertilize the ground for planting the logical problem of evil. This, too, assumes the existence of evil in the world. But neither of these really appear to be the commenter's concern. Rather "what are we going to do about it?".

Where The Strawman Resides

A couple weeks ago, I addressed an argument that I heard being used as evidence against theism and against my view of the age of the universe (you can read it here). I received a message that I was offering a strawman of the opposing view. While in discussion, I realized that it was probably a good idea to go into some more detail about properly identifying when someone is arguing against a strawman. It applies, not just to that particular conversation, but to all discussions of defenders of any worldview.

I have posted in the past about the importance of avoiding the strawman argument. Unless I take that seriously and address accusations that I have presented a strawman, that post is quite hollow. I will be using parts of that initial message as an example in this post, but the specific challenge is not the focus of this post, so if you wish to challenge the specifics, please post the comments on the other post.

The accusation of a strawman proposed that I was applying a specific heretical view of Christianity to an entire view within the Christian Church (young-earth creationism [YEC]). I've been in conversations with the this person in the past, and I suspected that he knew that I wasn't applying it to all YEC adherents, but he wasn't sure how to express where he sensed a strawman. Of course, my sense could be wrong; but nevertheless, I identified four different areas where a strawman could be offered in a description/critique of a worldview that we all should be familiar with when composing our own arguments/material and consuming others' arguments/material:

Pain, Suffering, and Purpose

The Emotional Problem of Evil

This past weekend the On Guard conference was held in Oklahoma, which gave me the opportunity to go. William Lane Craig was speaking on the problem of evil- both the intellectual version and the emotional version. He did an incredible job demonstrating how the intellectual problem has been overcome and that even atheists recognize that. The emotional problem of evil is where he stated that the problem is still quite persuasive.

In my notes on this talk I wrote down three initials. They represents a powerful and popular resource that I wanted to highlight for the apologetic community. I have been dealing with apologetics for several years now, and I cannot remember seeing this resource come up a single time. It seems to be left untapped, yet I'm not certain why.

Creation and the Scientific Method

An Atheist's Argument
A couple years ago I was presented with an argument against theism that appealed to the trustworthiness of the scientific method. It goes like this:

1. The scientific method relies on the constancy of the natural laws for its trustworthiness
2. In order for God to create, He must act in a way that breaks the constancy of the natural laws
3. Therefore, God creating and the trustworthiness of the scientific method are incompatible

The atheist believed that he had me pinned down because I believe that the scientific method is trustworthy. I explained to him the problem with his argument and why I reject his conclusion (I'll explain that later). I haven't really heard this argument presented much lately. But I did come across it again a couple days ago, not from an atheist but a fellow Christian.

Antitheism and Krauss' Wager

Lawrence Krauss- The Antitheist
Recently in a discussion with Justin Brierly (Unbelievable?) and Rodney Holder, Lawrence Krauss made an interesting statement (podcast: 58:01):

"You talk about this god of love and everything else. But somehow if you don't believe in him, you don't get any of the benefits, so you have to believe. And then if you do anything wrong, you're going to be judged for it. I don't want to be judged by god; that's the bottom line."

Earlier in the program, Krauss also described himself as an antitheist and made a distinction from being called an atheist. Taken in the context of the quote above this distinction and title makes a lot of sense. As apologists, it is not enough to address a worldview as a whole, we must look into the specific views of an individual to appeal to them on both an intellectual level and an emotional level. I have a few thoughts that I would like to draw out of this.

Has The "God Particle" Finally Been Discovered?

There has been tremendous excitement in the scientific community over the last week. Research being done at the Large Hadron Collider indicates that another fundamental particle has been detected- the Higgs Boson (a.k.a. "The God Particle"). If verified, this will be one more step to finding a unifying theory for all the quantum forces. You can see a summary of the announcement from Science Daily. and CNN.

For responses from those in the Christian community, see these:

2019 Update: Articles from particle physicist and Large Hadron Collider researcher Dr. Michael G. Strauss:

For more from Dr. Strauss, check out his blogYouTube Channel, Book, and my favorite quotes from his book.

Responses from the original 2012 post: 

🤔The God Paradox: Debunking the 'Who Created God?' Challenge💥

Philosoraptor- Who Created God?

The Question/Challenge

A fairly common question that I hear many atheists raise against any form of theism is "Who created God?" I've noticed that this question often comes around after a theist has presented the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA):

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Even though the KCA merely concludes that the universe had a cause, the atheist wishes to undermine the theist when they use other arguments (such as the moral argument or teleological argument) to identify the cause as God. The question is designed to show that even God has a cause, and His cause had a cause, which also had a cause, etc. This could go on forever, thus requiring an infinite regress of causes. If, this challenge holds up, then it is a powerful argument against God's existence. So it does warrant a close examination. I have a couple of observations that I wish to bring to light about this challenge.

Book Review: Creating Life In The Lab🧫

Book Review: "Creating Life In The Lab" by Dr. Fazale (Fuz) Rana of Reaosns to Believe (reasons.org)


Creating Life In The Lab: How New Discoveries in Synthetic Biology Make A Case For The Creator is Dr. Fazale Rana's latest contribution to Christian apologetic literature. The goal of the book is to provide a case for God's existence from the controversial efforts of scientists to "play God" by creating life. He has written the book with the backdrop of Frankenstein to provide some cultural connection. The book has thirteen chapters plus an appendix that includes a short refresher on biochemistry. The book, though not officially, is divided into two parts: the first examining the quest to create artificial life and the second investigates scientists research behind the origin of life.

Chapter 1- Waking Up in Frankenstein's Dream

Dr. Rana begins his book by giving a little of his own history- what made him want to study biochemistry and what brought him to the point he is at now. He then begins setting the stage for the rest of the book. He explains what has happened regarding origin-of-life research. He starts at the Miller-Urey experiment and brings the reader to the present. He then discusses a bit about the main topic- scientists' attempts to create life in the lab. He explains the two different approaches commonly used. He acknowledges that historically such attempts have been seen as threats to Christianity, but he believe that the opposite is actually true- that the success of scientists will be empirical evidence that the creation of life requires an intelligent agent to accomplish.

Avoid Overstating Your Case

A while back I wrote a couple posts about the danger of overstating a conclusion and the importance of recognizing alternative explanations for evidence. I also blogged about the way in which science and scripture are interpreted (Nature vs. Scripture). Those posts each stand on their own; however, in this post I want to bring some of those concepts together and provide specific examples found in discussions between evolutionists and intelligent design proponents of overstating conclusions. Familiarity with the content of those posts will help you understand the content here.

We are going to look at  two sets of arguments provided by each side regarding the similar body plans of humans and the great apes. We will look at why the conclusions are valid, thus exposing the limits of the conclusions. When we know the limits of the conclusions, we are less likely to overstate our case.

Common Descent Compatibility
Let's look first at an argument on the evolutionary side:

1. Humans and the great apes have similar body plans
2. Common decent has the ability to explain similar body plans
3. Therefore common decent has the ability to explain the fact that human and the great apes have similar body plans

A Very Good Creation That Undermines Christianity

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"- Genesis 1:31 #God #Bible #Creation #Creationism #Sunset #Beach #Tides


If you've been following Faithful Thinkers for a while, you will know that I take a very strong stance regarding the age of the universe. For those who don't know, I take the old-earth creation view (OEC) (as opposed to the young-earth creation view [YEC} or theistic evolutionary view [TE]). I enjoy discussing and debating it as long as I'm not talking to zombies (please read that post as this post draws from the practices encouraged in it). This past week I've been actively discussing one particular interpretation of a certain passage of scripture. I decided to blog about it because I believe that I have identified a powerful argument that an atheist or other unbeliever can add to their arsenal of arguments against Christianity.

What Does "Very Good" Mean?

Our discussion began by my asking Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (AiG) on his Facebook page what he believed God meant in Genesis 1:31a ("God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"). Specifically, I asked about the phrase "very good". I asked if he believed that it meant a moral good (all the matter/energy that God created has moral value), a teleological/utilitarian good (as in the creation being very good to accomplish His goals), or both (the two options are not necessarily mutually exclusive). Ham did not respond to me; however, another person did. According to Ham's view, this is a proclamation by God that creation was perfect at the end of creation day six as He is perfect. He believes there is no other legitimate way to interpret this passage. I was given an audio recording by Mr. Ham where he explains this view and his argument here: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2006/06/06/refuting-compromise-what-does-2/

Please listen to it as the rest of the post depends on the reader's familiarity with the content of the recording. It will also allow the reader to determine if I am arguing against a strawman.

The Fear of Atheism

Last week an apologist friend of mine posted a fairly common atheist challenge to a private Facebook group. The specific version is this:
"Why are you so AFRAID of atheism? What is it about thinking you have a big daddy in the sky that you need to believe in that you just can't let go of? Aren't you arguing because REALLY you are AFRAID it is all just a big lie and you know that all your cherished religious beliefs are false?"
This challenge has three individual questions that need to be addressed on their own. Let's look at the first one.

Why are you so AFRAID of atheism?
When I first saw this question I wasn't sure why it was asked. The reason is that it assumes that the theist IS afraid of atheism. Many could put forth reasons for why atheism is nothing to fear. The chief one would be that if God does not exist, then there will be no one to account to after death for the lives we lived. If there is no one to account to, then why not live like you want? Atheism offers a freedom to follow our desires without fear of eternal consequences. As long as we are acting within the confines of the cultural laws, we don't even have to fear consequences while we're alive. Further if we don't like a law, all we have to do is rise against the law, and it will eventually be changed. Cultural relativism rules the day.

Formation of Christian Boldness

The Importance of Boldness

Last Sunday my buddy filled in for our pastor. Like me, my friend is an apologist and has a great passion for showing people reasons that they can believe that the good news of Jesus Christ is true. His morning sermon discussed Christian boldness. He highlighted the fact that scripture promises that Christians will be persecuted for what they believe, because it is an offensive message. He also pointed out that we are commanded to deliver the news to the unsaved. He showed where scripture teaches that if we pray for boldness, the Holy Spirit will give it to us. We just need to pray, get over our fears of being offensive, and be a witness; but in a way that is gentle and loving. You can listen to the message here.

What stood out to me in this message was his focus on boldness and praying for it. What I'm going to present today is not a critique of what my friend said, but an important addendum for those who take what he said seriously. These people sincerely desire to be bolder and do pray for it, but do not feel bolder right away. I'm going to start out with my own personal experience with this desire and request.

Our Compulsion to Repair A Deformed Body

Buying a New Car
For anyone who has been in the US market for a new car, you are likely familiar with the term "lemon". Anytime that a new car is purchased, the dealer must allow the buyer a "grace period" of so many days (depending on the state) that allows them to test out everything on the vehicle. If anything is not as the manufacturer says it is supposed to be, the car may be returned as a "lemon" for a full refund without questions or obligations. I'm not sure exactly what happens to the car from this point, except that what is wrong is repaired, and it is then sold again (hopefully not with a "New" sticker).

Compelled to Fix Deformities?
The fact that the car can be returned and repaired requires the initial concept that the vehicle had a design, before it was produced. The vehicle is compared to that design and any deviance must be repaired before sell. This leads to an interesting observation about a behavior of the human species. If someone is born with physical "abnormalities" or psychological "issues", we try to "fix" them, so they reflect a prior standard. But if naturalism is true, they are already in the original state (there is nothing to repair, no need for therapy or surgery to "repair"), they are their own standard...unless we admit that there is a standard by which to compare and repair towards. Since, according to naturalism, evolution is constantly changing the original state, there is no unchanging, objective state. Yet, we treat mental disorders and operate on cleft palates. Why do we do so if there is nothing to repair? The answer to that question can be one of three options (or all), and all three of them are founded in God: design, human intrinsic worth, and beauty.

Unrecognized Agreement and Unity


Last week Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis (AiG) posted an article explaining why he believes that Reasons to Believe (RTB) and Stand to Reason (STR) have compromised scripture. Last week I responded by pointing out areas of agreement between those ministries and Answers In Genesis. I also explained some simple errors that Ham had made and showed how more areas of agreement could exist when those errors are understood and corrected. I concluded the post by linking to a few other responses by other bloggers.

Ken Ham offered a general response to the critiques of his original post and a specific one regarding the idea of "reformation". Ham did not name any specific blogs or provide links to which ones we was specifically addressing, so it makes it quite difficult to provide feedback on the soundness of that part of his response.

Agreement on Biblical Authority and Inerrancy

However, in his response, I would like to make clear a few other areas of agreement among the RTB, STR, AiG, and the bloggers who critiqued Ham's original article. Ham makes it very clear in his discussion about what he means by "reformation" that AiG's focus is to defend the authority of scripture. He believes that the loss of this doctrine is one of the key reasons people are leaving the Church. He believes that naturalists have convinced young Christians that scripture and science are completely incompatible. This is another area where these ministries can shake hands.

Compromising the Kingdom

Creationist Apologetics Organization Answers in Genesis- Ken Ham


As many of my readers and friends are aware, I am a big proponent of unity within the Church. I like to see interactions among ministries that specialize in certain areas of knowledge and evangelism for the cause of expanding the Kingdom. At the same time, though, I rarely shy aware from difficult theological discussions and differences. I hold certain views that I will accept and address the most difficult challenges against. I've always said that if one has the truth, they should not be afraid to be challenged. Yet we also need to understand and recognize challenges when our views cannot overcome them and adjust or abandon our views as necessary.

Having said that, I believe that when ministries or individuals engage in debates or discussions concerning doctrines on which they disagree, it is of the highest importance that they recognize the points of agreement between them. They can then clearly articulate the disagreement and the reasons, then engage those reasons with the highest level of gentleness, respect, and academic prowess.

Unfortunately, this week I read an article by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (AiG) that meets none of these standards. Now, before you continue reading this post, please read Ham's article "Compromise Being Spread;" the rest of this post assumes you have read it.

Ravi Zacharias on Race and Homosexuality

This quote got me thinking...

"The reason we are against racism is because a person's race is sacred. A person's ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate it. My race is sacred; your race is sacred; I dare not violate it. The reason we react against the issue of homosexuality the way we do is because sexuality is sacred. You cannot violate it. How do you treat one as sacred and desacrelize the other? Sex is a sacred gift of God. I can no longer justify an aberration of it in somebody else's life than I can justify my own proclivities to go beyond my marital boundaries.

Every man here who is an able-bodied man will tell you temptation stalks you every day. Does it have anything to do with your love for your spouse? Probably not, because you can love your spouse with 100% desire to love the person, but the human body reacts to the sight entertained by the imagination and gives you all kinds of false hints that stolen waters are going to be sweeter. They are not. They leave you emptier. So a disposition or a proclivity does not justify expressing that disposition and that proclivity. That goes across the board for all sexuality.

When God created mankind and womankind, it was His plan, not our plan. It is extraordinary what He said. He said, 'It is not good for man to live alone.' Well, man wasn't living alone; God was with him. Why did He say that? He created the mystique and the majesty and the charm and the complimentary nature of womankind in a way that made it possible for her to meet his emotional needs that God, Himself, put only within her outside himself from himself in her in that complimentariness. It is a design by God." -Ravi Zacharias*

Is Pain Inherently Evil?

I want to take a few minutes to look at the question of pain. I have two reasons for choosing this topic today. The first is that many people outside the Christian worldview say that pain is incompatible with the loving God of Christianity. The second reason is that this view is also a very popular view within Christianity. The problem of pain causes many to avoid Christianity and others to walk away from it. I want to address both of those in this post.

The Hunger Games: Revisited

A few weeks ago I posted a critique of the movie The Hunger Games. It came to my attention that Fred Edwords posted a short piece at the American Humanist Association's website addressing the general evangelical response to the movie. He linked to my original article and broadly addressed my comparison of the society of The Capital to where today's societies are leading. Mr. Edwords had two main points of contention that I feel need to be addressed.

Secular vs. Agnostic Society
The first point of contention that I considered the society in The Hunger Games to be secular and not merely agnostic. Edwords claims that there was no mention of God (which he's correct), thus the society must be concluded to be secular. He implies that that distinction removes the society from critiques of agnosticism. But is there really a distinction between secularism and agnosticism that allows such an escape?

In order for a society to avoid either label of "theistic" or "atheistic", it cannot affirm or deny either. It must simply hold the position that God's existence cannot be known. This position is called "agnosticism". Secularism necessarily entails "agnosticism". Since secularism necessarily entails agnosticism, secularism is subject to critiques of agnosticism by the necessary connection.

Book Review: Why It Doesn't Matter What YOU Believe If Its Not True

Book Review: "Why It Doesn't Matter What YOU Believe If Its Not True" by Stephen McAndrew


I am always on the look out for books that take different apologetic issues and puts them into bite-sized chunks that a complete beginner can understand and begin interacting with. That task is quite difficult because many authors take concepts and mutilate them in such a way that the beginner would actually be more confused than when they began.

The opportunity was given a while back to review a copy of Stephen McAndrew's new book "Why It Doesn't Matter What You Believe If It's Not True". The book is a short read of only 86 pages. The eleven chapters break up the short book into sections that are extremely manageable for those with only spurts of time to read or need time to digest. This format holds much promise to being a great introductory book. But does it come through?

Book Review: This Is Your Brain On Music 🧠🎵

Book Review: "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin


I am not a musician and do not sing (well), but like most people, I do love music. Both science and music have been long-time fascinations of mine, and when a certain book was spotted, the urge to buy it could not be resisted. "This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" by Daniel J. Levitin is that book. It was a bit hefty of a book for me at the time I purchased it, but the idea of seeing the awesome connections between music and science was worth the risk. My usual style of book reviews begins with a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book and concludes with my thoughts. However, I have decided to invert this particular review to place my thoughts before the chapter-by-chapter summary because it may not be so obvious as to the reason why such a book would appear on a blog about defending the truth of the Christian worldview. Here are my thoughts followed by the chapter-by-chapter summary:

Reviewer's Thoughts

This book was an incredible read. The combination and connection of an art and science was quite thrilling and fascinating. It was extremely thought-provoking yet not difficult to understand. From the perspective of a Christian, this book is a "must-get". In our evangelistic efforts to defend the existence of God, we often like to use the argument from beauty- specifically appealing to music. The content in this book, though, can be used to demonstrate the meticulous design that was required for music to not only be possible but to be appreciated as "beautiful" by humans. Every system that we know of with this level of intricacy and this many interdependent parts are the work of intelligent engineers. And the systems that add beauty to those engineered system are the work of the most talented architects. Therefore, it is reasonable also to believe that the entire system that is responsible for music, from the physics responsible for sound creation to the auditory system's ability to receive it, is the work of an engineer- one who, in order to create physics and the universe must transcend both. This transcendent engineer is also responsible for the portion of the system that appreciates music for its beauty and emotional connections (the brain and mind); therefore, it is also reasonable to conclude that this transcendent architect is also a personal being who desires a relationship with those He endowed with this ability. The only option for such a being is the God of the Bible. It is only in the Christian God that all of the scientific data provided by Levitin can find a reasonable and consistent explanation.

If you are an apologist and musician, this book will be "mind-candy" to you. It will provide you with a way to appeal to science when defending God's existence to other musicians. If you are just an apologist, it will provide more teleological evidence for God's existence that can be appealed to. I cannot recommend "This is Your Brain On Music" highly enough.

Recommended Books for Further Reading:

Who Was Adam: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Humanity
Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science
Where the Conflict Reality Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary:

Book Introduction

Levitin introduces his book by telling the reader of his fascination with music, psychology, and neurology. He addresses anticipated cringing from musicians who may believe that the art should not be reduced to dry, mechanistic science. He shows how artists and scientists hold many things in common, and how their respective disciplines can be used to inform the other.

Making Sense of the Resurrection

Two years ago Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 published an Essay Series: Is Christianity True? Many apologetics bloggers contributed to the series. My piece was on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This weekend as Christians around the world celebrate Christ's resurrection- the event reconciles us to the Father- let's not forget that if, in fact, this did not happen in history, our faith is useless (1 Cor 15), and anyone who does not believe it has no hope (John 14:6). Here is the greatly abbreviated case for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, as submitted for the essay series:

Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed

My Past Week
I've noticed lately that I have a harder and harder time going to see movies purely for the entertainment value of the show. This weekend I went to see one that really made me step back and look at society, not just as portrayed in the movie, but the society of the audience. Last week I had a conversation with a person that was still fresh on my mind, and I finished reading a specific book on the topic. Those allowed my mind to make some interesting connections.

What Conversation?
Last week's conversation was a political/worldview discussion with a friend on Facebook. This person was more concerned that he be allowed to believe whatever he wanted to believe rather than be concerned about the truth of the content of his belief. He stated that he was a moral relativist and that nothing could be considered "right" or "wrong" on his view; he also believed that the government and its official documents (the US Constitution, in this case) is from where people derive "intrinsic" rights. When he asked me moral questions, I asked if he was asking from within his worldview or mine. He told me to just answer the question however best suits me.