Thursday, September 1, 2011

Difficult does not Necessarily = Wrong

For those of us not raised in or skilled at having conversation with invisible folk, it is easy for the whole Christianity/God shebang to feel like a huge sham. Unfortunately, feelings do not necessarily indicate the way to objective truth. It's not possible to kick emotions off the boat, but if one is to navigate in the correct direction, they must not be given the helm.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Small Slice

"If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all of the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist, I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race has always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view."

C.S. Lewis

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interestingly Influential

"He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned—put together—have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life."

James Allan Francis

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dissatisfied Puppets

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal; a fish would not feel wet. ... If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning; just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning."

C.S. Lewis

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Well-Worn Argument: Women Witnesses

If writing a fictitious narrative with the goal of convincing others that it is true, why include details that are counter-productive to that goal? One such detail in the gospels is that the first witnesses of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus were women. Not only was one of them formerly possessed by demons, but all women in the first century were not considered reliable witnesses—their testimony carried no weight in a court of law.

Every apologist ever

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Empty Tomb

When the whole resurrection story started circulating just after Jesus' death in the town where he was crucified and buried, why didn't anyone just go to the tomb and march around the city with Jesus' dead body to set the record straight? Why weren't the Jewish or Roman authorities, who were strongly apposed to the spread of Christianity, able to easily put an end to it when it started? They knew were the tomb was—the Jews because it was their tomb, and the Romans because they placed guards there. The guards, who were trained to protect the tomb with their lives and for whom sleeping while on duty was a capitol offense, would have made the theft of the body extremely difficult for the disciples, who lacked a discernible motive.

Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek, Matt. 28:11-15.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Strength in Numbers (and Age)

Most ancient works of literature survive on fewer than a dozen copies—there are nearly 15,000 manuscripts of the New Testament. Homer's Iliad comes in a distant second place, with 643 surviving manuscripts, and Plato's work squeaks by with only 7.
Also, most surviving manuscripts of other ancient works date 1,000 years or more from the original. The New Testament gap is an unusually short 25 years. The earliest undisputed manuscript—the John Reynolds fragment—was found in Egypt and has been dated between A.D. 117-138.

Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Incombustible Content

Even if every manuscript of the New Testament had been destroyed in ancient times, we'd still be able to piece it together. The church fathers {early and influential Christian theologians, teachers, and writers} of the second and third centuries quoted the New Testament so much—36,298 recorded times—that all but eleven verses can be reconstructed just from their quotations.

William Nix, Norman Geisler

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Queasy Thomas?

One objection to the resurrection complains that Jesus only appeared to people that already believed he'd return. Actually, after his death, none of Jesus's followers any longer believed that he really was the messiah, let alone in any sense divine. They denied him after his arrest and went into hiding after he was killed. They had no expectation that a messiah would die, and they certainly weren't expecting him to be crucified. The accounts mention specifically the reactions of two witnesses—Paul and Thomas—who were in particular not eager to be convinced of such an appearance.

John 20: 24-28:
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

N.T. Wright

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Resurrection: Just as Weird Back Then

If the disciples simply saw or thought they saw someone they took to be Jesus, that by itself would not have generated the stories we have. Everyone in the ancient world took it for granted that people sometimes had strange experiences involving encounters with the dead, particularly the recently dead. They knew at least as much as we do about such visions, about ghosts and dreams—and the fact that such things often occurred within the context of bereavement or grief. They had language for this, and it wasn't resurrection. However many such visions they'd had, they wouldn't have said Jesus was raised from the dead; they weren't expecting such a resurrection.

N.T. Wright

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Crowd Scene

If you're going to make up false stories that include real dates, real locations, and real public figures that can be checked out, it would make sense to wait until all of the eyewitnesses that can prove you wrong are dead. However, all of the New Testament documents are written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. All scholars will now say that the gospels were written around 70A.D. The epistle of Paul dates to about 20 years after Jesus' death. The 1 Corinthians Creed implicating over 500 witnesses was a public letter circulating only 20-25 years after the events and states plainly that many of those witnesses were still around to be verified:

1 Corinthians 15:3
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Tim Keller

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If the Bible Never Existed...

There are ten non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. {Not even as many sources note Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor from the same time.} From only these non-Christian sources, we learn that:

1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
2. He lived a virtuous life.
3. He was a wonder-worker.
4. He had a brother named James.
5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Jury is Still the Desert

Science has yet to explain the origin of the first life. Spontaneous generation of life from nonliving chemicals has, at this point, never been observed (in nature or the laboratory) and is believed in by faith. One biochemist has remarked that the probability of getting even a protein molecule by chance would be the same as a blindfolded man finding one marked grain of sand in the Sahara desert three times in a row.

Michael Behe, Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

The Time Before Time

It's important to understand that the universe is not expanding into empty space, but space itself is expanding — there was no space before the big bang. It is also important to understand that the universe did not emerge from existing material, but from nothing — there was no matter before the big bang. In fact, chronologically, there was no "before" the big bang because there are no "befores" without time, and there was no time until the big bang. Time, space, and matter came into existence at the big bang. Although the scientific community has generally agreed that the big bang created the universe, it has yet to empirically address what created the big bang.

Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

Friday, March 27, 2009

Essentail Unessential Details

The writers of the New Testament make it clear that they are not intending to create legend. From the beginning, Luke in particular goes out of his way to establish that his intent is to create a historical truthful document. Legends from the time do not include details unessential to plot development, like Jesus writing in the sand when he met the adulterer (Luke 8:7), and prose fiction did not exist as a literary form in the first century.

Tim Keller, Lee Strobel

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dude, are you sure about this Jesus thing?

People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they're true, but will people die for their religious beliefs if they know they are false? While most people can only have faith that their beliefs are the truth, the disciples were in a position to know without a doubt whether or not Jesus had risen from the dead. If they were not absolutely certain, why would they have allowed themselves to be tortured to death for proclaiming that the resurrection had happened? All but one were offed, and there were no skin-saving last minute de-conversions.

• Matthew was killed in Ethiopia by sword.
• Mark was dragged by horses through the streets in Alexandria, Egypt until he was dead.
• Luke was hanged in Greece.
• John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil in Rome. However, he escaped death and was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
• Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross.
• James the Just, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.
• James the Greater, a son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
• Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He was martyred for his preaching in Armenia when he was flayed to death by a whip.
• Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece after being whipped severely by seven soldiers. He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
• The apostle Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the subcontinent.
• Jude, the brother of Jesus, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
• Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
• The apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.

Lee Strobel, Grant Jeffrey

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chatting With the Burning Bush

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."

Exodus 3:10-12
"So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
And God said, "I will be with you.

Exodus 4:1-5
Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"
Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"

"A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.

Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.

"This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can I Get Some God in my Test Tube?

When studying a phenomenon, the scientist must always assume there is a natural cause. This is because natural causes are the only kind its methodology can address. It is another thing to insist that science has proven there can't be any other kind. There would be no experimental method for testing the statement, "No supernatural cause for any natural phenomenon is possible."

Timothy Keller

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Sceince of Legend

Studies conducted on the rate at which legend developed in the ancient world have concluded that it took more than two full generations for legend to develop and wipe out a solid core of historical truth.
The gospels were circulating within the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries. The 1 Corinthians 15 creed was recited by Christians as soon as two years after the crucifixion, and Mark's account of the empty tomb dates to within a few years of the event. Within the first two years after his death, significant numbers of Jesus' followers seem to have formulated a doctrine of the atonement, were convinced that he had been raised from the dead in bodily form, associated Jesus with God, and believed they found support for all of these convictions in the Old Testament. Nowhere in history is there an example of legend developing that quickly.

A. N. Sherwin-White, Lee Strobel

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Human Rights? Says Who?

Nature [is] completely ruled by one simple principle — violence by the strong against the weak. If violence is totally natural, why would it be wrong for strong humans to trample weak ones? There is no basis for moral obligation unless we argue that nature is in some part unnatural. We can't know that nature is broken in some way unless there is some supernatural standard of normalcy apart from nature by which we can judge right and wrong.

Timothy Keller

Is "God" Wishful Thinking?

Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger [for a god] exist if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfillment?
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Francis S. Collins, C.S. Lewis

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chance vs. Design

Anthropic constants are the 122 highly precise, interdependent environmental conditions that are very narrowly tuned to make life on Earth possible. The exact thickness of the Earth's crust is one such constant: any thicker and too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life; any thinner and volcanic and tectonic activity would make life impossible. Other examples include the speed of light, atmospheric transparency, and moon-earth gravitational interaction. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated the probability that all of these constants would happen to exist for any planet in the universe, and the odds are 1 in 10^138 power {1 with 138 zeroes after it}. To put those chances in perspective, scientists estimate that there are only 10^70 atoms in the entire universe.

Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009