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

Your Challenge Does Not Apply- The Strawman

Lately I've been having a lot of discussions with fellow Christians about different ideas. Typically we're are on different sides of the debate and are trying to come to either an agreement, compromise, or understanding. One of the things that I have noticed all too often (I wouldn't worry about a couple times) from too many people and from the same people after I've pointed it out, is that they will offer a challenge that does not even apply to my view. Last week I discussed "zombie" topics in Christianity. One of the identifiers of a zombie (person) is that they continue to argue against "strawmen".

"Um, that's not what I believe."
The strawman is a slight (or not so slight) variation of an argument or position that is easier to defeat than the real argument or position. This is a fallacious way to argue because it does not actually address the challenge at hand. Its power comes by the fact that the nuances of the incorrect argument or position can be so close to the actual one that those listening may not recognize the difference, and believe that the actual challenge has been addressed and defeated when, in fact, it has not been addressed, much less defeated.

Zombies of Christianity

The "Walking Dead" of Christian Discussions

For those who are not familiar with the usage of the term "zombie" when talking about topics in Christianity: Everyone knows that much diversity exists within Christianity related to our doctrines. This is where all of the different denominations come from and even smaller divisions within them. Many of the doctrines are hotly debated with no progress towards agreement. Many of the members of such discussions on the internet (especially) tend to hold their position without critically examining it or alternatives. The discussions tend to be just a reiteration of the same arguments and accusations without any actual thought. The discussions and debates never "die", not because good arguments are actually being recognized and addressed with counter-arguments being addressed following, but because people hold their hands over their ears and just repeat their points. The person mindlessly wonders around and goes into action anytime they see someone that they disagree with. There is rarely any progress in understanding for either member of the discussion- the result is typically the same as if the discussion never took place. Both the person and the topic are considered "zombies". Its a playful (though, oddly accurate) term that is used mainly because of its cultural popularity and ability to convey a specific mental image for what we're describing. Zombies remind me of people who simply like to just offer opinions, but without backing them up or defending their positions.

Book Review: Christian Ethics

Book Review: "Christian Ethics: Options and Issues" by Christian philosopher and theologian Dr. Norman Geisler


Well, its been on my shelf for almost a year, and I finally got to it. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues by Norman Geisler is quite a read. Like Giesler's other books that I've read, this one is divided and outlined very clearly. It is easy to follow, but has lots of stimulating content. It is broken into two different parts with 310 pages.

Part 1

Chapter 1: All the Options

In Chapter 1 Geisler introduces the philosophical topic of ethics. He quickly summarizes ten different proposed foundations for ethics (including power, pleasure, human survival, and God's will). He then examines five unique attributes of Christian ethics and concludes by providing examples (using lying) of the different views of ethics.

Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Evolution

On Monday (Jan 21st, 2013), America will celebrate the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.- a man dedicated to the fact that all men are created equal and should be treated that way. Americans owe humble respect to Reverend King for his dedication (that led to his assassination) to this noble ideal.

I find it extremely interesting that many naturalists promote King's idea of human equality. But is that promotion compatible with naturalism? Human equality is a Judeo-Christian concept that is foreign to any worldview that must rely upon naturalistic evolution to explain the existence of the human race. Here's what I mean:

Survival of the Fittest
One of the major pillars of naturalistic, evolution is "survival of the fittest". This simply means that the lifeforms most fit for a certain environment will propagate their offspring into the next generation; lifeforms that possess any feature that inhibits their survival, will eventually die off. Value is assigned based on this survivability.

Notice the superlative language of the pillar- "fittest". In order for a superlative to exist, there must exist another that it is superlative when compared to. If humans are the result of "survival of the fittest" and we are not the end of evolution (mutations are still taking place today, so I guess we're not), then some members of our species are superlative to others. The genes of the superlative humans will survive into the future.

Who's Forcing Beliefs on Who?

Religious Propaganda

The other day I heard a fellow Christian complain that atheists are constantly complaining that Christians try to "force their beliefs on people". The Christian complained that the atheist has no right to complain because he is doing the exact same thing. This caught my ear for a few reasons.

First, that critique cuts in all directions. Any person who believes that they teach the truth will automatically see a person who differs with them and teaches those differing views with just as much passion as a threat to their beliefs being accepted. People do tend to use propagandistic language when describing the teaching of beliefs that they do not agree with. Christians tend to think that public education is forcing atheist and relativist propaganda on our kids. Atheists and relativists believe that we are forcing our propaganda on their kids. Christians should not be complaining about others behaving in the same way that we do. I'm pretty sure that such hypocrisy turns people away from the Church- not because they think that Christianity is false, but because its adherents don't practice what it teaches.