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

Top Post of 2013 #1: Morality, Knowledge, and X-Men

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.

Today is #1: Morality, Knowledge, and X-Men

Previous Winners:
#2: God, Billboards, and Missing Subjects
#3: Challenging Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection
#4: Irony in Rejecting Eyewitnesses
#5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

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 Post of 2013 #2: God, Billboards, and Missing Subjects

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.

Today is #2: God, Billboards, and Missing Subjects

Previous Winners:

#3: Challenging Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection
#4: Irony in Rejecting Eyewitnesses
#5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

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 Post of 2013 #3: Challenging Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection

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.

Today is #3: Challenging Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection

Previous Winners:
#4: Irony in Rejecting Eyewitnesses
#5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

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 Post of 2013 #4: Irony in Rejecting Eyewitnesses

Week #2 of my vacation and the Top 5 Posts of 2013.

Today is #4: Irony in Rejecting Eyewitnesses

Previous Winners:
#5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

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 Post of 2013 #5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

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.

Today is #5: Book Review: Cold Case Christianity

Previous Winners:
Since there is no #6, here's a post regarding 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!!!!!

Thor, Elvis and Atheists

Today atheists are fond of bringing to light the fact that Christians reject the existence of all other gods of history. They articulate it in such a way as to make the Christian an atheist then use it against them. The challenge usually sounds something like this: you are atheistic regarding the millions of gods that others believe exist; why not just do away with the final one? This past weekend my wife and I went to see Thor: The Dark World (do not worry; there are no spoilers to come), and it got me thinking about this a bit, so I want to explore it. However, I want to begin, not with Thor but with...

...The King of Rock 'n' Roll
Elvis Presley was and still is so popular that there is an entire line of work dedicated to impersonating him. Some impersonators are really good; some are really bad. The challenge offered by the atheist appeals above to the Christian's (and broadly, society's) two understandings that many who have claimed to be or were understood to be God have been shown to be false. Let's start with the claims then move to the understandings.

🎃My Secular Celebration Of A Religious Holiday🎃

A Quick Review and Update
Two years ago I wrote a post that attempted to help Christians have a reasoned approach to whether or not to celebrate Halloween. When I wrote it I was coming out of a mindset that was completely against any expression of the holiday in the Christian's life. My writing the post was my way of trying to approach the issue from a logical point of view rather than a traditional (for me) point of view. I was attempting to test the tradition by logic, and I came to the conclusion that the tradition was wrong.

Even though I came to that conclusion, because of my uneasiness with Halloween it still seemed awkward for me to participate in celebrations. In the last couple of years I have become more accustom to it, though. My wife and I have foster kids in our home and have had so much fun helping them pick out their costumes to go trick-or-treating. And as strange as it did feel to hand out candy to people dressed as characters from horror films, it was just as enjoyable to provide the sweet reward to the little kids in their princess and super-hero costumes. I realized that next year I need to make sure I get full-sized candy bars for the truly creative costumes too. Its been fun and I can honestly say that I'm not as uncomfortable with Halloween as I was before, but I still have a way to go.

God, Billboards, and Missing Subjects

Answers in Genesis- Ken Ham- "To all our atheist friends: Thank God You're Wrong"


Last year and earlier this year some atheist groups used the commercial advertising space of billboards to promote their worldview and mock religion. As disappointing as it was to see atheists use rhetoric and ridicule rather than reason and evidence in these spaces, it was not as disappointing as the news that I saw reported this past Monday.

It came to my attention that Christian organization Answers in Genesis (AiG) has decided to respond to the atheists' billboards, in kind. I was hoping to see billboards with succinct versions of the traditional arguments or some scientific evidence or an invitation to discover a world full of meaning, purpose, and reason or just a penetrating question. However, my hopes were dashed when I heard that the text of the billboards would read "To our atheist friends: Thank God You're Wrong." No argument. No evidence. No invitation. No question. I didn't realize that "in kind" meant not just medium, but lack of substance and presence of condescension too.

However, discussing those issues would be rehashing much critique that has been leveled at Answers in Genesis' general strategies and tactics throughout the years by many theologians, pastors, philosophers, scientists, and bloggers (including myself here and here). Today I want to focus on the actual content of these billboards- specifically the text's ambiguity and the implications of the possible interpretations.

Challenging Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection

Earlier this year I wrote a post regarding the irony of rejecting the eyewitness accounts to Jesus' resurrection. I received the following challenge that attempts to undermine the reliability of eyewitnesses and the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since the Christian faith is grounded on this unique event in history (1 Corinthians 15), the challenge must be addressed. Here it is:
"Regarding eyewitness being good evidence. True, the further we go back in history, the more we have to rely on eyewitness testimony. However, the likelihood of an event occurring significantly affects the credibility of the eyewitness. If there was an eyewitness to a car crash, the car crash event itself does not diminish credibility, because those happen all the time. But if there was an eyewitness to extraterrestrials, or ghosts, or godzilla, or someone rising from the dead, it significantly diminishes the credibility of the eyewitness testimony because the possibility that the eyewitness was mistaken or lying increases. Do you see the difference?"
My goal with this post is to present four responses to this challenge, that combined will render it untenable to maintain.

The Cognitive Dissonance of Evil

The Problem of Evil and Suffering
In defending the truth of the Christian worldview, I often come across atheists who point to the supposed incompatibility of a loving God with the existence of evil and suffering. Many defenders of Christianity will move directly to explain to the atheist that without an eternal, unchanging standard, there is no objective morality, thus there is no objective good or evil. Without objective good or evil, their challenge is groundless. I agree with this answer, but only if the atheist is critiquing the Christian worldview from outside the Christian worldview; they are rather usually pointing to an internal inconsistency- that of a loving God and evil. Christians usually offer two answers to show that evil is, in fact, compatible with a loving God: that God does have purposes for allowing the evil, and man is free is disobey God which results in much evil and suffering. (Many do recognize that the challenge to Christianity has been overcome, but it is still offered in one form or another which does have much emotional and rhetorical power- more on this later.) However, this is only a portion of what our answer should be. We have merely shown that their claim of incompatibility is false, but what about challenges with atheism posed by evil and suffering?

Book Review: Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

Book Review: "Why The Universe Is The Way It Is" by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe (reasons.org)

Why The Universe Is The Way It Is- Book Review Introduction

Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, (hardcover, Kindle) was written by astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) a few years ago to address several common questions that he receives from atheists and Christians when he presents his case for the existence of God. The book is 240 pages, divided into thirteen chapters, five appendices, and an index. Dr. Ross recorded a podcast describing the material of each chapter. A link will be provided at the end of each chapter's summary of this review. Dr. Ross also has a lecture and a Q&A session on YouTube.

Man's Sin vs. God's Hiddenness

Many people often complain that if God exists, He is entirely too hidden- He doesn't really want to be discovered or is not there to be discovered in the first place. I have written before that I believe that sometimes God's hiddenness is of value for bringing people to Him, for teaching people to trust Him and not rely so much on their own abilities (See "Pain, Suffering, and Evil" in left sidebar). Today, I want to briefly explore the possibility that God remains hidden as part of his mitigation and eventual overcoming of evil.

But before I get into that I want to make something clear about God's hiddenness- it can seem very subjective. I firmly believe that those who are truly looking for God will find evidence for Him everywhere- He is not hidden to those who are looking. These people are those who desire to work against their sin nature, to become more like God.

What's Your Problem?- Part 6: Christianity

Over the past five weeks we have been looking at man from the perspective of different worldviews. The focus has been on man's problem and the proposed solutions to the problem (the introduction post can be found here). Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism all offer what they believe to be the problem of man, and each provide an antidote. We saw that some fail on the idea of what the problem is, while others fail based on the solution prescribed. Last week we looked at the problem that Judaism posits for man. The problem seems correct, but the solution provided did not seem viable. This week we will conclude the series by looking at Christianity and its claims about man's problem and solution.

What's Your Problem?
Christianity states that the original state of man is moral perfection. A state in which man can have a relationship with a morally perfect Being- God. The problem proposed by Christianity is that man is morally corrupted- this is sin (the source of pride and unholiness), which separates man from God. Christianity points to its holy Scriptures to obtain this doctrine, and to history of man's behaviors and actions as evidence that man is, in fact, morally corrupt.

What's Your Problem?- Part 5: Judaism

This is the fifth part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.
Last week we looked at what Islam proposes as man purpose in life. This week we will look at Judaism. 

What's Your Problem?
According to Judaism, man is not suffering from cosmic amnesia; he is not by default morally imperfect (man is capable of both good and evil, but does not lean one way or the other), nor is he unenlightened. Judaism holds that man is simply separated from God and should come back to God. As with Islam, I will not argue against this being a problem of man (once again, though, I would argue it is part of a much larger problem, which I will get to next week), so I have no problem granting that this problem is reflected by reality.

What's Your Problem?- Part 4: Islam

This is the fourth part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.

Last week we investigated Buddhism and its claims about man's problem. This week we look at Islam's view of man's problem.

What's Your Problem?
Islam holds that the problem with man is over-confidence in himself. It is obvious that man is not perfect, even though he may pridefully think that he is. I am not going to argue that this is not a problem of humanity (because I believe that it is- but comes from another source- I'll argue this later), so I can't really deny that this problem is grounded in reality.

What's Your Problem?- Part 3: Buddhism

This is the third part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.

Last week we looked at man's problem proposed by Hinduism and the four prescribed solutions. This week we will investigate the claims of Buddhism.

What's Your Problem?
The perfect condition of man, as proposed by Buddhism, is enlightenment*- the lack of life, which is suffering. The antidote to rid one of suffering is that a person must eliminate craving and desire. The proposed way of doing this is to have right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration (this is called the Nobel Eight-Fold Path).

Is it possible for man to follow the Eight-Fold Path to the point of extinguishing desire? Does the problem and proposed solution have any merit in reality?

What's Your Problem?- Part 2: Hinduism

Last week we started looking at humanity's problem. We established the possibility that a problem does exist, but left the identity of the specific problem open. This week we will begin looking at a few different proposed problems and solutions. The problem from the Hindu worldview is first.

Hinduism is a pantheistic worldview. That means that everyone and everything is God, and God is everyone and everything. We are all the same essence as each other and as God. The foundation of the problem proposed by Hinduism is that man is suffering from a type of self-induced and self-perpetuated amnesia- in which we have forgotten our "Godness". We no longer understand that everyone and everything is God, and God is everyone and everything- including ourselves. The official problem that man suffers from is a cycle of life, death, and reincarnation called Samsara, that is the result of the "amnesia". 

What's Your Problem?- Part 1: Introduction

Most worldviews hold that there is something wrong with man- a problem. Man used to be in one perfect condition but is not now. The belief systems of the world provide prescriptions to get man back to the original/perfect state. Different worldviews believe that different things are wrong with man, so each will provide a different antidote. In this short series I want to look at a few of the proposed problems to see which one seems to fit best with humanity as we know it and see if the problem can be rectified by the respective worldview.

A Problem Requires A Purpose
First, though, I want to address the idea that there is no real problem with man- we must not just assume this. The concept of a "problem" is dependent upon humanity having a purpose. A "problem" would be a state in which man is unable to fulfill his purpose. If man has no purpose, then no state exists in which he would not be able to fulfill his purpose. Hence, if there is not purpose for humanity, humanity cannot be in a problematic state. Further, any worldview that holds that humanity has no purpose also holds that there is nothing "wrong" with the state of humanity. But, is this view correct?

Don't Judge Me By My Past

As Seen On Facebook
This meme popped up this week and caught my attention. The text reads "Don't judge me by my past. I'm not in the past anymore. Accept me for who I am because this is me today." I want to examine this from a perspective of everyday life then a perspective of the worldview implications.

My First Thought
The big question that I want to ask anyone who posts this is "if we can't judge someone by their past, how are we to know whether someone is trustworthy or not?"

As I have written in my post "Is Faith Emotional or Logical?" trust requires that we examine a person's past. If we see a past that someone has been faithful to their word and has shown themselves to be worthy of trust, then placing our trust in them is not only smart, but it is perfectly logical. On the other hand if a person has shown themselves to be untrustworthy and does not keep their word, we should not place our confidence in them.

Book Review: Truth Matters

Book Review: "Truth Matters: Life’s Five Most Important Questions" by Tom Gender


Tom Gender and his book Truth Matters was brought to this reviewer's attention just a few months ago. The opportunity came to receive a copy and review the book, which was gladly accepted. Excitement built after just reading the introduction and the preface. This review is designed to be a chapter-by-chapter summary to give the reader a mere taste of the content of each chapter. The reviewer's thoughts will be offered at the end of the summary. The book is 307 pages, divided into five sections. It has one appendix and an index of terms.


Before diving into the main reason for writing this book, Tom Gender provides a good worldview and logic primer for the reader to assist in properly evaluating his evidence and arguments. He begins with a quick overview of worldviews and their relationship to truth. He goes over the different general worldviews, the importance of testing each one for truth, and four different tests for truth. In the worldviews, he covers everything from atheism to panentheism. In the section on logic, he looks at three different ways to reason, then he finally proposes four different tests for discovering truth. He explains each of their strengths and weaknesses, emphasizing that all the tests must be used in tandem to keep the weaknesses in check.

Of Tornadoes, Flat Tires, and Moore

The Recent Tornadoes In Moore, OK
Many of you are aware of the recent outbreak of violent tornadoes in the middle of the United States in late May of this year. Three tornadoes struck extremely close to home for me. The first took out my wife's parents' place, and the other two (one being the EF4 on the 20th) was about one mile from our house. As I drive to work every day, I see the physical devastation. When I speak with my in-laws, I see the emotional devastation. When I heard the news of the children who lost their lives...there just are not words to describe the pain and emotions of that news. When we experience tragedies such as these, it is sometimes difficult to see that a loving God, who has our best interest in mind, could cause or allow this level of agony. The Friday after the first tornado outbreak a peculiar series of events took place that eventually ended in God making the answer to my questions very real to me.

Dragons, Dinosaurs, and Design

Dragons, Dinosaurs, and the Bible? Introduction

As many of my frequent readers are aware, I believe that dealing with debates within the Church is important to the apologetic endeavor (see Internal Debates and Apologetics). Today, I want to address an argument for a view within the Church that is often used to support Christianity, but may be used to falsify Christianity, if the argument being used to support it is actually sound. So, I believe that it is important to address it.

Are Dragons Dinosaurs?

It is often claimed by young-earth creationists (YECs) that the existence of myths, drawings, carvings, and other depictions of similar creatures necessarily* require prior experience with dinosaurs to explain their existence. This is often used as a defeater argument against naturalistic theories of human origins and against Christians who believe that dinosaurs and humans never coexisted (anyone who believes that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old would fall into this category). In this post, I will show how the argument is undermined by giving explanations for the evidence from both a naturalistic and supernatural perspective. I will also show the apologetic and theological dangers in continuing to use this argument in this form.

Natural Explanations of Dragons

First, let me begin by showing a naturalistic explanation that can accommodate this evidence. I want to start with this response because Christianity is not limited to only supernatural mechanisms, it can also appeal to natural mechanisms.

Anyone who wishes to offer a natural explanation (Christian or naturalist) for the depictions may agree with the YEC that some level of prior experience is indicated by the myths and the drawings. However, the experience could easily be with reptiles such as alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and/or komodo dragons. These experiences combined with the imagination can easily produce myths and drawings that take "artistic liberty."

This explanation alone is enough to undermine the argument and force the less-extreme version of it*. However, a YEC may wish to deny that this is viable. In that case, a Christian would need to appeal to an explanation within Christianity, in general, that could accommodate the evidence to avoid the defeater.

A Supernatural Explanations

Visions of Dinosaurs?

To address the YEC who does not accept natural explanations, I wish to appeal directly to the Christian worldview. Specifically the existence of visions and the Image of God. Not everything that God inspires or does gets recorded (John 21:25). That does not exclude visions taking place without being recorded as scripture (and for good reason- see Using Visions to Prove Christianity to address challenges regarding the creators of the myths or drawings being pagan). While visions from God were a source of knowledge about the furture, there is nothing preventing God from using them to give information about the past also. God could certainly have used visions communicate previously existing creatures without the person having physical contact with them.

Imagination and Creativity via the Image of God

While visions could provide an explanation of depictions direction from God, The Imago Dei (Image of God, endowed to us by God) that all humans possess, gives us a certain level of imagination and creativity. Since many of the features that make humans uniquely like God ("in His Image"), some of that creativity can be analogous to God's creativity independent of knowledge of God's creative acts (an example is the popular intelligent design comparison of the bacterial flagellum with a motor- the latter created before discovery of the former). Because of that independence of creativity, it is logical to believe that humans could imagine creatures like dinosaurs without prior experience with God's actual creation and even without the necessity of a vision. Notice that this one is actually related to the second natural explanation, but with a mechanism: the Imago Dei.

Visions and Image of God in Use by the YEC

YECs often appeal to a perfect understanding of the concept of death when God gave Adam and Eve the command to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil- they claim that prior experience with death was not a prerequisite for understanding what death is. This could be accomplished via either the Imago Dei or God instilling it in Adam and Eve independent of the Imago Dei. Many Christians understand that humans and dinosaurs did not exist together, yet humans demonstrated that something like dinosaurs were in their minds, so the claim about Adam and Eve and the concept of death being in their minds is analogous. Because the problem is analogous, the solution can be also. So, just as Adam and Eve could have had an understanding of death without experience of it, they could have some "understanding" of dinosaurs without experiencing dinosaurs. It would be inconsistent for the YEC to allow themselves to use a mechanism that they deny another Christian.

More Than Three Options for Explanation

The three of these explanations (experience with animals, visions from God, and the Image of God) may also work in any combination to produce the myths and the drawings. These offer ample logical and reasonable possibilities (six in total) to undermine the claim that the myths and drawings of dinosaur-like creatures undermines Christians' view that man and dinosaurs did not coexist.

If the natural and supernatural explanations are not granted by the YEC, then they run the extremely high risk of being understood as over-stating their conclusions, being ignorant of alternative explanations, arguing against a strawman, and completely misunderstanding the opposing view; thus not being taken seriously in conversation.

A Short Intermission

Up to this point I've only offered evidence to support the idea that both naturalism and old-earth Christian views are compatible with the evidence- thus undermining the use of the term "necessarily" in the argument (see Introduction). This ultimately causes the argument to lose its potency and usefulness in settling this internal debate. That may leave a YEC with a neutral attitude towards this argument- they may still choose to use it or not. However, I now wish to address such neutrality and demonstrate an absurdity and a couple real dangers in continuing to use this argument. I will begin with the absurdity.

Is Fiction Real?

The form of the argument that I am arguing against in this post states that the myths and drawings necessarily indicate prior experience. If we are to say that myths and drawings of dinosaur-like creatures prove that the people who came up with them had experience with them, then we really have to question the existence of fiction. If we are to remain consistent in our reasoning, we would have to conclude that other myths or "fictional" stories could only exist if the writer had the experiences that they wrote.

Of course, the thought that X-Men, Transformers, and Batman all exist in reality is absurd. Because of this independent test that confirms absurdity of the reasoning by the arrival at an absurd conclusion, the YEC should recognize the absurdity of using the same reasoning with different content. Now, I do want to recognize that art can be evidence of prior experience, but it does not necessarily prove prior experience.

Undermining the Teleological Argument

The necessity of prior experience, though, not only gives us an absurd conclusion, but it also has dangerous consequences for the evidential case for the Creator. If prior experience is required before any creative work can take place (be it creation of stories or artwork), then humans do not actually design anything (including fictional stories, by the way)- nothing created by humans is designed. But that design by humans is vital for the teleological argument. The argument compares what we see in nature to human designs and concludes that those structures in nature are also the product of design. However, if humans cannot and do not actually design anything, then there is nothing to compare the structures in nature to to conclude that they are also designed.

Biological design is a popular evidence used by YECs for a Creator via the teleological argument. If prior experience with something exclusively explains man's creations, then the teleological argument is fallacious and should not be used by the YEC. So, they have to choose: either hold to the necessity of prior experience to explain the myths and drawings of dinosaur-like creatures or give up one of their most powerful scientific evidences for the Creator.

The teleological argument also serves as an argument against naturalistic mechanisms for life's origin and history. If this argument is undermined, then not only does the YEC lose a positive argument for the Christian God, but they also lose a negative argument against naturalistic worldviews. Both of these are awfully high prices to pay to maintain the argument that myths and drawings could only be explained by humans having prior experience with such creatures.

Undermining Christianity

Continuing on the thought of undermining the teleological argument, if design necessarily requires prior experience, then even God has not designed anything- He would have to have prior experience with something in order for Him to be "creative". If this is the case, then the Christian god is not God; whatever came prior to him would be his inspiration. And whatever came prior to that being was its inspiration, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum. Not only would the Christian god not be God, but the idea of God would be incoherent and impossible due to the infinite regression of the need for prior experience.

This final issue, though, is not a necessary conclusion of the argument being critiqued. It only applies if the YEC wishes to maintain that all creativity necessitates prior experience. I'm sure that all YECs would drop that in a heartbeat when presented with this implication, even if they wished to maintain the argument up to and including the undermining of the teleological argument. I include this only to show that a YEC may begin by holding this rigid version of this already extreme view, and pointing out how it undermines Christianity is the first step to get them to adjust their view or, at least, use of the argument. The critiques in this post are presented in order of impact on the Christian worldview, but in practice will most likely be presented in the reverse order to someone offering such an argument.

What About The Cumulative Case?

Before I conclude this post, I want to address a possible response that a YEC may give to me, specifically appealing to one of my apologetic approaches when defending the truth of Christianity. It is often said that no single argument can establish a certain proof of God's existence or the truth of Christianity. The arguments individually do have some unknowns and issues that do need to be worked through because, by nature, we are not omniscient. Because of this, the arguments need to be taken together to produce a cumulative case for a single coherent worldview- Christianity. A YEC may use similar reasoning. They may wish to use this argument as part of a cumulative case for the YEC version of Christianity.

My response is two-fold: first the last critique that I offered is a deal-breaker right off the bat. You can't use an argument to affirm a worldview if it ultimately undermines it simultaneously. But, again, that only applies to that rigid view that is not likely to be held for very long after it is understood.

The response that will apply to anyone who offers this as a way to salvage the argument is this: the argument critiqued here necessarily undermines one of the other arguments that is part of your cumulative case: the teleological argument. If you wish to maintain the critiqued argument, you are trading a powerful component of your cumulative case for a weak one (based on the critiques offered in the first section). This argument would not be able to repair the damage the cumulative case took by losing the teleological argument. If the YEC still wishes to make such a trade, I wish them lots of luck (since they can no longer argue against the luck of naturalistic evolution via biological design).


The argument for necessity of prior experience with dinosaurs is what leads to all these issues. However, if the YEC wishes to avoid these issues, they must grant that prior experience is merely one possible explanation. That would make their view merely compatible with the evidence. If a YEC wants to claim that this evidence is exclusively explained by their view, they need to be able to explain why they reject, at minimum, the explanations offered by the other worldviews (presented first in this post), and justify the rejection of the teleological argument. The evidence of myths and drawings of dinosaur-like creatures is still compatible with young-earth creationism, and may be used as supporting evidence for the view, but not against others. So, it is my contention that YECs reject the use of this argument against opposing views.

*Due to prior experience when addressing the internal debate of YEC vs. OEC, I feel the need to include this four--part disclaimer: 

  1. There is a less extreme view of the myths and drawings that does not claim that they are evidence against the other views, but that the YEC view can make sense of them. The less extreme view is not the one I am addressing in this post, because it is not commonly presented since it cannot be used to defeat the other views. 
  2. My focus in this article is the stronger view that the myths and drawings necessarily require prior experience. Since the lesser extreme view does exist among YECs, this post should not be understood as a critique of the YEC view on its own, but as a critique against using the specific argument that I am addressing. 
  3. I will be showing how the stronger view necessarily leads to heresy. This is NOT to be understood as my saying that a person who uses this argument is a heretic. Obviously, if they understood where their argument led, then they would not be using it. Also, people may still choose to use the argument and not be a heretic because they deny the logical conclusion of the argument.
  4. Please do not accuse me of misrepresenting the view, arguing against the YEC view, or calling anyone a heretic. None of those are the purpose of this post. 

Contemplating Memes: Morality and Judging

As Seen On Facebook
A few weeks ago I saw a meme on Facebook that caught my attention. The text of the meme states: "Don't judge me. You can't handle half of what I've been through. There's a reason I do what I do, there's a reason I am who I am." This and similar memes seem quite prevalent on Facebook lately, and Christians need to know how to react logically and in love- not just on Facebook, but also in real life conversation. This week let's discuss some constructive ways to respond from the Christian worldview. Here are some questions to get the conversation started:

  • What are the reasons that someone may state something like the meme?
  • In the context of God's existence and objective morality, what are the philosophical problems with the meme's foundation and intention?
  • In the context of the existence of evil and suffering (physical and emotional) in the world, how can the meme's foundation and intention be understood?
  • How can Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7 be used to form a logically consistent and relevant reply to this meme?
  • How can we communicate all this in love?

Book Review: A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible

"A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible" by Robert Stein


"A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible" (Paperback, Kindle, GoodReads) by Robert Stein comes to this reviewer as a recommendation by a friend and member of his Sunday School class. There was no expectation of a review, but the opportunity could not be passed considering the focus of the book: hermeneutics. Theology is an important aspect of the apologist's endeavor. The apologist defends what is true- what scripture teaches about the world. However, the apologist needs to make sure that they understand what scripture actually does teach about reality; otherwise, they may be wasting time defending something that is false. When something false is believed and defended, it can be easy to defeat and made the object of ridicule among skeptics. Correctly understanding what scripture teaches about reality requires that the reader understand how to interpret what is written in scripture. Robert Stein offers a basic overview of proper ways to interpret scripture that will be vital to the apologist's efforts.

Part 1: The General Rules of Interpretation

Chapter 1:  Who Makes Up The Rules? An Introduction to Hermeneutics

In the first chapter, Stein sets the foundation for his overview. He explains that with any communication, there are three parts involved: the author, the message, and the reader. He explains the different views on where meaning is found. If meaning is determined by the reader, then any message (the biblical text, in our case) can mean anything- thus meaning nothing objectively. The text itself cannot convey meaning since mere symbols are inanimate objects incapable of intentionally communicating to the reader. Stein argues that only the author of the text determines what it means.

Over-Protection, God and Evil

The other day I was reading an interesting article about parenting. It brought up two mistakes that today's parents often make that have crippled the next generation, and many of us. The specific points may shed some light on a couple of challenges that skeptics offer against Christianity.

The article is Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids...And How to Correct Them by Tim Elmore.

The article is written from a religiously agnostic perspective- Elmore makes no religious appeals to support his conclusions. The first two points in the article are what I want to focus on: the facts that parents are unwilling to takes risks with their kids and jump in too quickly to rescue their kids from "dangerous" situations.

Not Risky Enough
His first point about risks is simply that parents over-protect their kids. They do not allow their kids to do things that may cause even minor harm. Parents are too proactive in protecting children from harm that the children don't get the important experiences until they are in the real world and have no idea how to react appropriately. Elmore points out that this teaches our children that if there is a risk of any kind of danger, that the risk is too great- it is always better to be safe than sorry, even if the latter possibility is minuscule relative to the reward. This leads to not just a fear of physical activities, but also a fear of failure in general and an aversion to anything that is unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable. This also develops an expectation that when they take a risk, that buffers should always exist to prevent them from getting hurt if they do fail.

Convenient Explanations

A Convenient Explanation Offered
As a defender of Christianity I want to be sure that I am engaging with the most powerful evidence for opposing worldviews. Engaging with weak evidence tends to show that I am unaware of the more powerful evidence or simply cannot answer the more powerful evidence- both of which often would result in my arguing against a straw man. In so many of my discussions with fellow Christians about different worldviews I like to play "devil's advocate." This is my effort to inform them of the stronger evidence for opposing worldviews and give them some pointers for responding to what skeptics will use to show their worldview as true.

The other day I was in discussion with several friends about naturalism. We were discussing some of the weaknesses of the view from a scientific perspective. One person confidently offered a challenge and explained that there was no way for naturalism to explain the observations he cited. Now, I'm no supporter of naturalism; however, I explained to him how a naturalist could not only explain the observations, but that their models even predict the observation he cited. His response was a dismissive, "well, how convenient."

The Holy Spirit, Interpretation, And Evidence

As I have written in the past, engaging in debates on Christian theology is important for the apologist. In discussions of Christian doctrine and beliefs with fellow Christians, the correct interpretation of particular scriptures is vital. A few weeks ago I discussed the claim by people that I may be "twisting" scripture to mean what I believe is true. But today I want to spend a few minutes on a related accusation.

I have had many long and short interactions on proper interpretation. On a few-too-many occasions the person I have been engaging says that their interpretation was given to them by the Holy Spirit. The expected response from me is that I will concede my position (regardless of my evidence and reasoning for my interpretation) because "God has spoken."

Mourning With The Warren Family

Rick Warren and his wife lost their youngest son over the weekend. My heart goes out to them, and they will be in my prayers during this very difficult time. Please lift them up through your prayers and words of encouragement. It is only through Christ that we have hope and assurance that this is not the end. As we mourn with the Warren family, let it be our prayer that more will discover that through Jesus Christ, they too may experience the hope and assurance of eternal life with Him forever.

Book Review: The Only Wise God

Book Review: "The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom" by Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig

Review Introduction

This reviewer has long been fascinated with the debate about God's knowledge of the future and man's free will. William Lane Craig has done much theological and philosophical research into the attributes of God and the nature of time. He condensed his research into a relatively short and concise presentation that focuses specifically on how to reconcile the scriptural claims that God knows what every person will do, yet every person is free to do something else. The book is "The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom'. It is only 154 pages and is broken down into two parts with 12 bite-sized chapters.

Book Introduction

William Lane Craig prepares the reader for his presentation by distinguishing between determinism and fatalism. He recognizes that in the attempt to reconcile God's knowledge of future events with man's free will, many have decided to give up the pursuit and appeal to theological mystery- the idea that its not something we can know now, but will know when we get to heaven. He looks at the proper and improper use of mystery in Christianity and concludes that this debate does not need to end in an appeal to mystery.

Using Visions to Prove Christianity True

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked what I thought about a Christian using a vision that they had as a piece of evidence to persuade someone else of the truth of Christianity. My initial reaction was to reject them completely on the basis of being subjective. But I started thinking about it a bit more, and this is what I came up with to provide to her. 

Explanations of Visions
My first inclination is to say that no one should believe anything based on a vision alone (regardless of who experiences it). According to the Christian worldview, there are three different unique sources that could cause visions (two for sure).

Its All In Your Head
The first explanation that is compatible with all worldviews is completely naturalistic- a mental state of affairs that causes the person to experience something as vivid as real life. This can be affirmed  regardless of which worldview one adheres to. There is no guarantee that the content of such natural visions accurately reflects reality- especially from any non-theistic worldview- see Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. If the person who had the vision is a Christian and the person they are trying to convince is a naturalist, the naturalist is perfectly justified in rejecting the witness of the vision. The Christian would need to provide some supporting evidence.

In these states, the vision produced could support any claim about reality, or it could reject any claim about reality. Both possibilities make sense from this perspective. Since this explanation is compatible with all worldviews, anyone can explain a vision by appealing to the it- whether the content of the vision affirms or denies a specific worldview.

Dangers of Requiring Complete Knowledge

The Lack of Knowledge
A while back I wrote a post regarding our lack of complete knowledge and how, rather than being a bad thing, it is actually a good thing. I've also written regarding the fact that our knowledge will never be complete, which is something that we must get used to and be comfortable with.

This is true regardless of which worldview that one holds. However, many people act as if they require complete knowledge and understanding of a worldview before they decide to accept it as true. They argue that since they do not want to blindly accept a worldview that may be false, they must not accept a worldview unless they have certainty that it does not contain any falsehoods. On the surface, this is being quite careful. But we must remember that while we are investigating one worldview, we are holding another- that we are not investigating (maybe we haven't ever, maybe we have in the past). I have heard it commonly put that "the skeptic must be skeptical of his skepticism" to avoid being dishonest. Even skepticism must be investigated and justified, though.

Christian Music and Apologetics


Throughout the last several years of becoming more acquainted with Christian apologetics, philosophy, and theology, the way I look at different things in life have changed. I have to say that recently, I've become more aware of the Christian culture- what its doing well and what its doing not so well. For example, ever since my early teens I have loved listening to Christian rock music.

But in recent years I have more examined the lyrics of the songs and have become quite critical of the theology in many of them- especially as witnessing tools. Specifically, as an apologist, I think the message in many of them leans too heavily on the emotions. Austin Gravely has written a post that reflects my sentiments very well, here. (Please read it as this post will assume that you are familiar with the content.) But the more that I think about it, I'm not so sure that I can validly paint even a single song with the same apologetically critical brush.

I want to look at the purpose of Christian music and the availability of it to take an in-depth look at my issues with Christian music. I specifically want to identify when my critique is valid and should be accepted by the artist, and when I'm simply not understanding the artists' intentions for their songs. Because of that, this post is not only for Christian music artists but also apologists and theologians who are critical of Christian music.

Morality, Knowledge, and X-Men

X-Men Set The Stage
I was watching X-Men: First Class the other day and something stood out that I thought might help in our discussions of morality. The two main characters (Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr) are mutants- humans with special abilities. Charles can read and control minds. Erik can manipulate metal via magnetism. Both of these are very powerful abilities demonstrated throughout the series. In the series, the X-Men series story goes that there is a growing fear of mutants among the normal populace and an effort by some government officials to eliminate them. Ultimately it ends up in a war between normal humans and mutants. However, Erik and Charles end up on opposite sides. Erik (as Magneto) wishes to eliminate the lesser evolved humans (ones without mutations), while Charles (as Professor X) fights to preserve humanity.

But what caught my attention was something very subtle: a miscommunication between Erik and Charles is actually responsible for them being on opposite sides of the war, yet both believing that they are right and the other is wrong.

Internal Debates and Twisting Scripture

Debates Within The Church

A little over a month ago I wrote about the importance of internal debates to the apologist. To sum it up in one sentence: Internal debates are necessary for the apologist to engage in, so that when they present a case for the truth of Christianity, they are not defending something false that could be used as a defeater for their conclusion of Christianity's truth.

As an apologist, I not only defend the truth of the Christian worldview, but I also defend specific views within the Christian worldview. In many of my interactions, it often comes out that I defend the truth of a view that is not very popular. Sometimes I take a stand against a doctrine that has been held traditionally but, I contend, is false. I receive much resistance and am forced to defend the doctrine scripturally, philosophically, and scientifically (not that I mind that at all). Many Christians are involved in these debates (whether apologists or not). I've written on several occasions about the danger of being emotionally committed to a doctrine that is shown to be false, but today I'd like to look at a more sincere and valid concern that people have when a traditional view is challenged.

Tim Tebow And Defending Christianity

Yesterday it came to my attention that NFL star quarterback Tim Tebow was going to be speaking at a mega-church in Dallas, TX, but he announced via Twitter that he was canceling the appearance. According to the CNN report, the pastor of the church spoke with Tebow about the decision. According to him, Tebow is concerned over raising controversy about his beliefs and the church's.

It is difficult to tell from the report if Tebow disagreed with the church's stance on controversial issues (I doubt it since the same report states that he's a member of another Southern Baptist church), or if he's just not prepared to take on the challenges that would be bound to come (as if he hasn't already had to deal with plenty).

As a defender of the truth of Christianity, this story caught my attention. I can't help but think that if Tebow's church had taught him, not only what to believe but, why he can trust that his beliefs are, in fact, true; then maybe Tebow would be as confident defending the truth of his convictions as he is playing on the football field.

Faith vs. Apologetics

Last week I read an article that I found to be quite disturbing. The title is "Christianity's New F-Word". In short the author takes issue with the current revival of Christian philosophy and apologetics- saying that Christians are so scared of being associated with "faith" that they succumb to the world's reason and methods. The author believes that instead of testing the truth of Christianity or historical reliability of the Bible, we should simply assume that they are true, and our faith will be more rewarding. I have many concerns with this article; however, I want to address just three of them today.

"Secular" Reason?
I have written many times about the coexistence of faith and reason (the most recent is "Is Faith Logical or Emotional?"), so I'm not going to rehash that information here. However, I would like to point out that the author undermines their own argument by implying that "secular" reason and methods can't be trusted. If we are to follow and understand the author's argument, we must first accept the basic laws of logic. If those are not reliable, then neither is any argument made that follows the rules of logical reasoning reliable.

Irony In Rejecting Eyewitnesses

One of the objections that come up when discussing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, is that we cannot trust the Apostles. Even though the Apostles were eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus, they cannot be trusted because they are biased. 

It strikes me, and should you too, that someone would complain that an eyewitness believes what they saw. I mean, if I saw a car crash take place, should my testimony be discredited because I am biased towards its taking place? No. The reason is because my bias has a foundation. If I saw an event and refused to believe that it took place, I would be in denial of reality. And everyone should reject my testimony because of my denial of what I saw, in favor of those who accept what they saw.

Dangers of Progress in Atheism

Something that has been going through my head recently is the concept of "progress". I especially hear it in the context of politics. Some people believe that if a society allows a certain behavior then "progress" has been made. Or if another behavior is allowed then we have "regressed". We talk about progress all the time regarding projects at work, home, or church. But we also talk about progress in sociological contexts- most commonly with social government, same-sex marriage, and abortion (at least that I have seen). I'm not going to debate the merits of any of these three today; rather, I'd like to challenge the idea that these represent progress.

Many of the people who promote these views tend to be atheistic. They do not believe that a God exists. Consequently they also do not believe that life has any ultimate purpose. Natural processes are responsible for getting the universe from the initial Big Bang to where we are today- humans living together in highly organized societies. Evolution is a continual process. Species emerge, mutate, and eventually become extinct. The process continues in a cycle of emergence and mutation as long as reproduction is possible. A species becomes extinct when it mutates too much to be the original or simply dies off. Either way, all species will become extinct.

Initially, this doesn't seem like much of a problem- the process of evolution appears to not really have much to do with progress. I mean people assume that humans have value and the comfort of humans is also valuable. The ultimate purpose of those three ideas above is the comfort of humans (whether that is valid or not, again, I'm not arguing that today). So where is the issue? I'd like to look at three issues with the concept of "progress" in all worldviews founded in naturalism.

From Divine Engineer to Divine Architect

Arguments from Design

One of the most common arguments that Christian apologists use for God's existence is the argument from design (teleological argument). It looks at both biological and astronomical systems then uses the observations in two different ways: to argue against naturalism and to argue for God's existence. The argument against naturalism basically argues that the designs and fine-tuning found in nature are so remotely improbable that an unguided universe would never produce them. The argument for God uses an analogy that compares man's designs to nature and concludes that since things we know are designed required an intelligence (man), then the designs we see in nature must also require a mind (God). (More in my post Paperclips and Design)

One of the Critiques

This argument does have its critics. Most people like to target the biological evidence by pointing to what they believe to be bad or superfluous designs in nature. There are two ways to respond to this evidence. The first is to say that we need to continue to investigate the system, and in so doing, we will eventually find that the "bad"  or "superfluous" design is balanced with something else and is actually necessary for multiple functional purposes and thus a good design (more on this in Bad Designs and the Pharmaceutical Industry). This response is sometimes criticized because it makes God into a hyper-engineer who is only concerned with function of his creation.

Raising Children Without God?- A Logical Christian Response

Earlier this week an article made it onto CNN's iReport that has caused quite the furor in the Christian and atheist communities. The piece was originally published as a blog post entitled "Why I Raise My Children Without God." In the post the author explains that she has lied to her kids about what happens when they die and what heaven would be like. She asks why parents should tell their kids things that they don't even believe. She follows that up with seven reasons she believes that teaching children about God is wrong and should not be done.

I want to look at this from both an emotional and logical perspective (in that order). I will respond to all of her complaints and include links to other posts that have more detail. I will conclude by providing Christianity as a viable alternative and how satisfactory answers to those complaints can only be found in Christ.

I urge you to read the post in its entirety before continuing with this post. To prepare yourself to authentically answer the challenges, ask yourself these questions:

Internal Debates and Apologetics

Internal Debates Versus Apologetics
Not too long ago I was in a discussion with a fellow apologist. We were discussing several different controversial topics in Christianity (age of the universe, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, and God's attributes). After a while he made a very strange statement. He told me that these discussions about science, philosophy, and theology weren't really important to apologists and only served to divide and cause unbelievers to run from Christ.

He took the position that apologists really only needed to defend the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to establish the truth of Christianity. His main support for that claim was that no other worldview can accommodate the resurrection of Jesus, so if it can be shown to be an historical event, all other worldviews are eliminated from the possibility of being true.

Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity🕵

Book Review: "Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels" by J. Warner Wallace


Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels (Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook) is one of the latest books to examine the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament. Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace was an atheist before he began putting Christianity to the same tests that he places witnesses and suspects to in his investigations of crimes. He split his book into two sections. The first deals with the methods used in detective work. He uses his own experiences to illustrate and applies them to the different aspects of Christianity. In the second part, he specifically targets the reliability of the four gospels as eyewitness accounts of history. This review will be a chapter-by-chapter summary but should not be taken as comprehensive of Wallace's presentation:

Section 1: Learn to Be a Detective

Chapter 1: Don't Be a "Know-it-All"

In the first chapter, Wallace begins his training of the reader by speaking a bit about presuppositions. He explains that presuppositions are ideas that we come to an investigation with prior to any investigating. They usually determine our conclusion before we examine the evidence. Though everyone has these, it is required that an investigator or juror set them aside to be able to come to an objective conclusion. The consequences of allowing our presuppositions to guide our investigation are that we are likely to come to a conclusion that is not accurate. This goes for investigating murders and investigating truth-claims of worldviews.