Category Archives: Christianity

Five Reasons Why I Am A Christian

I think it is of dire importance that everyone, not just Christians, know why they believe what they believe. Often, when faced with defending one’s beliefs people begin to grab for ideas from thin air. True beliefs will guide the way in which we live, so knowing why we believe something is important because either we end being hypocrites or taking a “blind leap” into something. When I say “blind leap” I am not meaning faith, for faith is not blind. Our life is to short to live in blindness, so seeking the truth is of utmost importance. In my post I would like to share a few reasons for my belief in the Christian worldview. I believe there are many reasons, but I am going to share five of the ones that have impacted my decision. These five are morality, design, longing, reality, and the reliability of Scripture.

1. Morality

My reason here is that good and evil both give evidence that an intelligent being exists, and I believe that intelligent being is God. It is evident there is an objective moral law, all laws have lawmakers, therefore there is an objective moral lawmaker, and the objective moral lawmaker is God. First, we must look at the idea that there are objective moral laws. Most people that live on this planet, from pure experience, and say that there is “right” and “wrong”, “ought” and “ought not”. And if you claim otherwise then you most likely are claiming a form of relativism. In which case, I believe fails miserable. So as not to take up too much space, or blab on too long, if you want to see why check out “Relativism Self-Destructs” by Greg Koukl. I think you will see that relativism doesn’t allow for anything to be “just”, “right”, “fair”, or “wrong.” Second, we have to understand laws, or what ought and ought not to be, must be given by a lawmaker. We have obligations to other intelligent beings, not inanimate objects. So it seems easy to conclude that the objective moral law came from a lawgiver that is intelligent, not just an inanimate object or thing such as a tree, the universe, or nature. Last, I think when God’s Word is compared to the world around us it fits so well. What God considers good and bad is consistent with the objective moral law. Also God is an intelligent being, whom is all-good, and more than capable of setting up such a law. As a last comment, I believe then that even if some only sees the evil in this world and how difficult it is, even if it makes them mad at God, it still means that there is right and wrong, and we come right back to seeing the need for a objective moral lawgiver.

2. Signature of Design

I will not spend as much time explaining this because I have written on this topic in my post “Is There Scientific Evidence for God?” . I don’t see science and God as something that needs to be on separate sides of the spectrum. I think it makes logical since that if God created this world, then His signature will be all over it. I believe all of life here on Earth, including the Earth itself, shows massive amounts of God’s design. If you want to see several reasons for my belief in this then check out my previous post.

3. A Deep Longing

“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.” — CS Lewis

Many people long for earthly items: money, fame, property, etc. Yet many people who gain these items often are not satisfied. For example, a reporter asked J. Paul Getty, a very wealthy businessman, “How much money is enough?” Mr. Getty replied, “Just one dollar more.” I cannot deny that deep inside it just seems that there is no experience in this world that can deeply satisfy the desire I have inside knowing that at the end of my life I will take none of my fame, money, property, or earthly items with me. It seems as I reflect that we have but a short time on earth (typically 70-80 years) and yet I, and it seems many others, wonder if there must be more. For more than we think live but a short time or the time spent on earth seemed to be more torturous than good. I believe the Bible speaks to this longing. The Bible tells us that we were made in the image of God, and we’re created to be in relationship with our Creator. God, through Christ, has given us that opportunity to reconcile the relationship, make use of our time here on earth (which effects our eternity), and have hope for the future after death.

4. Speaks to Reality

Christianity makes the most sense of all of reality we live in, which includes both the physical and nonphysical world. Why are we here on earth? How did the world come to be? Why is there evil in the world? And many other questions can be answered when one takes a deep look into the Bible. I believe when searching for answers whether it be spiritual (the soul, sin, God…) or physical (nature, jobs, people…) can be clearly understood through the Christian worldview. Not all the answers we receive are what we like, but God is not here to be what we like rather He is what is true. We cannot see gravity, and I may deeply desire to fly, but if I choose to jump from a high point I will get hurt whether I believe otherwise. If you want some of these answers I have other articles in my blog archive that speaks to some of them.

5. Reliability of Scripture

Based on ancient history criterion the Bible is extremely reliable as a historical document. Most historical documents have 10 manuscripts, but the NT has over 5,000 partial or whole manuscripts. If other languages are included there are 25,000.

Many claim, such as Bart Ehrman, that there are too many variations in the manuscripts. However, over 80% of the errors spelling. The other errors have no threat to the Christian doctrine.

Most ancient works have a gap of 700 years between copies. Whereas, the New Testament is 40-100 years. The Gospels can be dated early in history, placing the writings near to the actual events in history. Acts does not include death of Peter and Paul (AD 63-66), Jewish war with Romans (AD 66), or the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70). Thus we can conclude Luke wrote Acts before AD 62, and the Gospel of Luke and other Gospels must have been before AD 60. This means NT documents were written within 30 years of the events recorded.

There are embarrassing accounts in the Bible, which if all the writers were saying was not true then they most likely would not have shared. Some examples are Jesus calling Peter “Satan” (Mark 8:33), the disciples falling asleep while Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40), Peters denial of Jesus (John 18:25-27), etc.

The disciples of Jesus were direct eyewitnesses of the accounts shared in the Bible, and there is archaeological evidence to back of their nearness to the events.

  1. 2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
  2. 1 John 1:1: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.”
  3. Acts 2:32, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.”

There are still other evidences that show the reliability of the Scriptures such as: testimony from secular resources, and prophecy that was fulfilled.

I hope that these reasons are helpful to those who are already a Christian, and gives those who are not a chance to think about the Christian worldview and their own beliefs. You can take these 5 reasons with you everywhere you go. To help you I have made a pneumonic device using your hand:

5 Reasons

Thumb- The Lawgiver

IndexInner Longing

MiddleMakes Sense of Reality

RingReliability of Scripture

PinkyPoints to a Designer

Articles:

“Evil As An Evidence For God” By Greg Koukl

“Evidence for God From Morality” By Jim Wallace

“Can the New Testament Be Trusted?” by Sean McDowell

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Morality, Other Religions

Religion: Saint or Sinner?

Some claim that Christianity is not the “saint” many assume it to be. Rather Christianity has been the cause of the most atrocious evils in history. Instead of spreading peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, and all the good qualities it claims, it has only spread division and hate. This argument can be seen in many of the new atheists’ books, such as A Letter To a Christian Nation by Sam Harris or God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

When the argument that Christianity is responsible for many of the great atrocities in history often there are several events mentioned: The Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, and the Inquisitions. When considering the claim against Christianity and the events associated with it, then are three arguments to consider in light of these claims: (1) Many of the events mentioned were exaggerated, (2) those who committed these atrocities were not Christians or following the teaching of the Bible, and (3) more unimaginable mass killings have been done through secular ideologies, such as nazism and communism than any religion, especially Christianity.

Often the Crusades and Inquisitions there are claims that millions of people died. However, thousands in the Inquisitions and in the tens of thousands in the Crusades died. This is not to make light of the deaths from these events, but exaggerated claims can make something seem one way when it is not. More specifically during the Salem Witch Trials only around 30 people died and hundreds imprisoned. In the end, those who were imprisoned were released, given public apologies, and many were compensated afterwards. Also many Christians fought against the trials, and helped end them, too. In all of the events mentioned often the number of those killed are drastically exaggerated to make the events seems much more than they were. (Again I am not making light that people died. Even if it were one person dead it would be a problem. I am trying to give a clearer perspective and one part of a larger argument.)

The claim is that Christianity has been the catalyst in all of these events. Problem is that the Bible does not condone any of the actions committed during the events. Those who were leading these events were either wrongly informed through high up people twisting the Bible, or they misinterpreted the Bible to either fit their agenda or through poor reading of the Scripture. I know many of you may think right now: Exactly! It was their interpretation. Maybe they interpreted the Bible right or there are many interpretations of the Bible. As Sam Harris put it in Letter to a Christian Nation, “While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support form the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.” May we be extremely careful not to think the Bible claims something because someone uses verses. The authors of the Bible had certain intentions and it is possible that people can misinterpret and in the process misuse the verses. I do not want to spend lots of time in this article covering that topic because I have already covered this problem in another blog titled Thats Just Your Interpretation(Click on the title to read the blog). It seems logical to judge a religion off its foundations and authorities, not off certain individuals. Just because someone claims the name doesn’t mean they are a true follower. For example, if there were someone who claimed to be with a certain company and acted in their name, but was given no instructions to do so then whose to be blamed? In the Bible, 1 John speaks very clearly throughout the letter that those who act against God’s commands are not off or for God. So it seems reasonable to judge a religion by these foundations and authorities that instruct a them. For Christianity that would be the Bible. The Bible and the teaching’s of Christ, the ultimate authority, do not teach these actions. On the other hand, there are other religions and ideologies that do condone certain acts that are violent or a way of thinking, so if someone were to commit some of these crimes then it would be consistent. Unlike Christianity were it would not be consistent.

Many more unimaginable mass killings have been committed by secular ideologies than Christianity. Nazis and communism both have had their hands in millions of deaths through people like Stalin, Hitler, or Pol Pot (for actual numbers check into an old edition of Guinness Book of World Records under “Judicial”, then “Crimes: Mass Killings”). Many may claim that they had religious influence, but if we look at history you will see that they had socialist, communist, or atheist ideas not Christian ideas. Nazi’s were given several books to read when entering the Red Army, and one of those books was Origin of the Species. The idea of “survival of the fittest” gives power to the Nazi’s to do things like eliminate other races.

In conclusion, may we at learn one important thing here: Many people may do acts in the name of God (that is of Christianity), but unless His instructions (the Bible) condone it then it is false and should not be used as ammunition against Christianity.

Articles:

The Real Murderers by Greg Koukl

God Is Not Responsible by Greg Koukl

Christianity’s Real Record by Greg Koukl

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Filed under Christianity, Morality, Other Religions, Problem of Evil, Uncategorized

How Much Do You Owe? And Who Can Pardon It?

Christ, in Matthew, tells us of a parable of a man who owes an unimaginable amount (more than a life times wages) to a King. The King, being gracious, forgave the man’s debt. However, the man went out the next day to collect a menial amount of money (a day’s wage) from another servant, was unable to forgive the servant’s debt, and put him in jail. The King was furious and put the first man in jail because, after being forgiven his unpayable debt, he was unwilling to forgive a minor debt to him.

The parable Christ shared was used to show to importance of forgiving others because we have been forgiven by God. This is a common theme mentioned in the Bible, especially by Christ. However, I want to focus more on a certain part of the parable.

I have written about the problem of evil (Selfish Is As Selfish Does  and Hear No Evil…See No Evil…Speak No Evil) and many religions and world views agree there is evil in the world, but have differing opinions how to go about solving that problem.I want to paint a picture of what the Bible says about evil and how that problem was ultimately solved. (Preface: Before I start I must first say that what I am about to say is not how all evil will be handled, for there are still consequences and punishment for evil on Earth now and after. Rather it is more of an aim to show that Christianity is the best when it comes to handling the evil in one’s own life, the importance of doing so, and the beauty of being pardon of it.)

In the parable Jesus told there was a King that forgave a servant of an unpayable debt. Not only is the debt immense, but the King has no obligations to forgive the debt owed. The King has the right to punish his servant for his inability to repay the debt. Also we must not forget the difference in status between the King and a servant makes the forgiveness much more extravagant and meaningful. The Bible parallels this with humanity and God. We owe a debt for our disobedience to God that is unpayable. The magnitude of our debt can not be grasped. It must be looked at in the light of who this debt is owed to, the Creator of the Universe. Anyone would agree (if thinking properly) that when a person commits a crime they deserve punishment, and if one’s life is examined closely enough it obvious we have committed crimes against God. However, we are powerless to pay for these debts. In Romans 6:23 it states “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The beauty of it all is that since the beginning of time God had planned to give us a pardon for our debt. In Jeremiah 31:31-37, it speaks about a New Covenant that would be give to mankind in which God “will forgive their iniquities, and [He] will remember their sin no more.” In the Covenant it is also promised that this forgiveness would come through a sacrifice, but not of our own. The sacrifice would be Jesus Christ. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Not only would our unpayable debt be forgiven, but it would not be of our own works, abilities, or possessions.

What makes this pardon even more grand and beautiful is that it is through a gift of God’s grace alone. Romans 5:10 speaks about us being “enemies of God”. Knowing that we are enemies the pardon becomes even more amazing. For when we are forgiven it is while we are enemies, and we are transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His Beloved Son (Colossians 1:13-14). Grace not only means free gift, but it also implies that we are undeserving of it as enemies of God (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:24; 5:15; 6:23).

How sad it is that many work so hard to clear their debt (sin) in their lives through money, works, meditation, and many other means. Yet before them is a free gift of God that forgives them of all their debt. And in light of this forgiveness should we not dedicate our lives to God in pursuit of living the way He commands because that is the way it was intended.

I will end with asking that you consider the gift God has offered by searching for the truth. It may take a lot of work, but I promise in the end it will be worth it because if it is true then it is not something to be taken lightly. I would like to end with a quote by Charles H Brent:

To be able to look into God’s face, and know with the knowledge of faith that there is nothing between the soul and Him, is the experience the fullest peace the soul can know. Whatever else pardon may be, it is above all things admission to full fellowship with God.

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POOF! “Hi , I Am God. Nice To Meet You”

Many times when I ask the question, “What type of evidence would you need to believe in God?”, I get the response, “God would have to appear in front of me of some physical evidence of His existance” or something to that effect. In light of that statement, I would like to respond by talking about circumstantial evidence versus direct evidence, and the reason why that statement is not proof against the existence of God.

Jim Wallace, a cold case detective, was standing in for Greg Koukl on Stand To Reason recently. I always enjoy Jim Wallace because he comes from a perspective of a detective when speaking about religion, ethics, and the big questions. During that episode Jim Wallace spoke of a former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s new book Divinity of Doubt: The God Question, in which he argues that agnosticism is the only sensible position to hold.

Bugliosi writes in his book, “By fact I mean a truth known by actual experience or observation. And something that cannot be logically explained in any other way” (p. 4). Bugliosi’s way of approaching Christianity, proof beyond any possible doubt, causes all of history to be off the table not just Christianity. Also many or most of Bugliosi’s trials I am sure were not won with proof beyond a possible doubt. He missed something the judicial system calls proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why I want to cover the the difference of direct and circumstantial evidence, and why both are reliable because Bugliosi is saying that we can only trust direct evidence.

Direct Versus Circumstantial Evidence

The definition for circumstantial evidence covers the definition for both direct and circumstantial evidence: Evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly–i.e., without need for any additional evidence or the intervening inference.

Jim Wallace explains it well in an article from Please Convince Me called “The  Problem of Evidential Insufficiency”:

We might determine, for example, that a suspect committed a murder on the basis of an eyewitness who saw the murder directly or a suspect’s later confession (two pieces of  direct evidence), or we might determine this on the basis of the suspect’s prior threatening remarks, his bloody appearance minutes after the crime, and his efforts to flee the scene (all examples of circumstantial evidence). Our criminal justice system draws no distinction between these two forms of evidence; both are equally viable and powerful in making a case.

Even though direct evidence may give us a conclusion quicker or with less evidence, it isn’t more valid than circumstantial. With circumstantial evidence you may need more pieces to point to the same conclusion, but with enough pieces it makes it reliable, reasonable, and factual. Knowing this Bugliosi must be careful because when making such strong statements about direct and circumstantial evidence he is discrediting more than just Christianity. To his downfall, he is also discrediting his own work. Bugliosi would have to throw out much of the evidence he most likely used in the Charles Manson case he is most famous for. And many others who claim the same belief in the necessity of direct evidence would be discrediting many of their own beliefs or ideas that hinge on circumstantial evidence.

Must God Appear?

In Christianity there are both direct and circumstantial evidence, but a more robust and comprehensive amount of circumstantial. The difficult part for many is that none of the direct evidence is related to the existence of God. Many believe if God were real then he would show Himself, but He doesn’t therefore He is not real. There are three problems with that line of thought: (1) There is plenty of circumstantial evidence, (2) there is a lot of assumptions when making that claim, and (3) there is more than one way to prove something exists.

Since I have written in previous blog posts about the evidence for God, I will leave you to read those or others work on this weighty topic. However, I would like to touch a little on the second problem. The problem with making assumptions about God is that people do it without proper knowledge of God’s actions in the past, His character, or His overall purpose. All of these are important to understanding why God does what He does. Rather than taking these into consideration people draw quick conclusions based more on their own desires. So maybe the statement above should be written more like: If I were God, then I would show myself, and the Christian God doesn’t do what I would do, so He is not real. When the statement is put in it’s true light it sounds much more ridiculous and self-centered.

We must not forget there are different ways to prove thing’s exist. If a thing is physical, then some physical test should be able to reveal it, at least in principle. But if a thing is not physical, then a person has to infer its existence by different means. There are many nonphysical things in this world such as intent, a soul, or an idea. The God of Christianity is also not physical, so it seems that the use of circumstantial evidence to prove His existence would be more than sufficient (especially because there is a lot).

Conclusion

Bugliosi, and others like him, should know that that physical things are found by physical tests, but nonphysical things will need a different test, or inference. Even within Bugliosi’s sphere of work there are nonphysical things such as intent and contracts, so if he were to hold to his way of thinking then these things would be invalid too. Also we must remember that not only is circumstantial evidence a reasonable way of knowing God exists, but we must not be arrogant enough to believe that just because God doesn’t do something our way means He is not real.

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Filed under Christianity, Existence of God, Logic and Reason, Philosophy

Selfish Is As Selfish Does

Why are people so selfish? How is it that it can be so easy to look after ourselves, but so difficult to think of others? Why do we choose what we want, rather than what is right? All of these are good questions and I am sure have gone through many people’s minds at some point (especially when something is done to them as a result of selfishness). Selfishness not only effects others, but it can be a detrimental to our own character, relationships, and life.

In the face of many different horrible acts around the world, whether it is mass genocide, oppression of a race or gender, murder, the question still stands why are people so selfish? Our planet is being misused and so are it’s inhabitance, and yet many know what they should be doing. In light of this thought, I would like to argue that selfishness is wrong (absolute, not relative morality) and must defined correctly. Also it is not the result of evolution, rather a result of sin (disobedience toward God).

The comment I received was that selfishness originated from a natural, animal instinct for survival. However, as time went we realized the pleasure in serving ourselves and began abusing that natural instinct that helped us survive in ways that were wrong. I cannot say where they get the idea of wrong from, whether it is part of evolution or culture, but it seems their idea of wrong is not absolute.

Defining Terms

I believe it is actually not best to use the word selfishness when speaking about survival. It is possible to do something selfish that helps you survive, but I don’t think that is what was intended by the use of it above. Selfishness is defined as “(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” If selfishness is only “instinct”, then it seems you are unable to do it for selfish reasons because you can’t control it. The idea of selfishness implies a wrong doing or inconsideration towards others. I think it would be better to use the word self-preservation, which is defined as “the protection of oneself from harm or death, esp. regarded as a basic instinct in human beings and animals.”

Why Not Evolution?

Selfishness cannot have come from evolution because selfishness has to do with morality, absolute morality, and I strongly believe the evidence shows that evolution has no grounding for morality, especially absolute morals.

Not all, but many who argue for evolution take the idea of morals as being genetic. It makes most since if you are going to hold to an evolutionary position, but not everyone is consistent with their worldview. If morals are genetic, then we have a huge issue: What is the difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler? Also how could be praise Mother Teresa or condemn Hitler? We cannot praise nor condemn anyone because genetics are not something we can control, rather it is through time and chance that we gain a certain genetic disposition.

Robert Wright in his book The Moral Animal says, “My hope is that people will use the knowledge [in this book] not only to improve their lives–as a source of ‘self- help’–but as cause to treat other people more decently.” And also on pg. 377 Wright says, “Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren’t likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody’s watching.  This is one way to be a truly moral animal.” The problem is he’s making morally objective statements, which is transcendent in nature. However, evolution is descriptive, or can only describe how to act at that moment, and not how one should act in the future. Why “ought” we be moral tomorrow? Morality has an “oughtness”, but mere behavior is descriptive. It is a mere function of the environment to select anything that will benefit the survival of the species. Wright attests to this in the same book by saying, “Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse” (pg. 13).

Also science is based on empirical evidence, and there is no empirical evidence for morality. In the evolution morality must be assumed because it won’t work otherwise. Let me give an example that Greg Koukl used. Suppose there were a group of chimps, and one chimp does something that is “selfish” behavior. Then the other chimps proceed to “punish” that chimp for his “selfish” behavior. From the empirical, or external, evidence this situation could easily look like morality. However, one must not assume external behavior is all that is there, because there are also non-behavioral elements. There are two important elements that are part of morality, but cannot be observed by external behavior: Intent and motive. Intent is whether something was done on purpose or accident, and motive is why the person did it. Neither of these two elements can be observed through external behaviors. Yet we know that morality depends deeply on these elements. For example, if a young man stuck out his foot to trip an old lady it would be wrong. On the other hand, if the boys foot was sticking out in an isle and the old lady tripped on it by accident it would not be the same. We can clearly see the intent matters and the same goes for motive.

Morality is not explained, it is denied because it is only something condition by the environment for survival. We may call it morality, but there is no right or wrong. Again evolution cannot explain morality’s oughtness. Why shouldn’t the chimp be selfish?

Anyways moral choices need to be made by free agents, not dictated by internal mechanics like natural instincts.

Christianity Is The Perfect Fit

Just like I wrote in A Spiritual Journey Less Taken, Christianity has an amazing worldview fit. This means what Christianity says fits well with reality. I believe that when it comes to selfishness and morality, Christianity does a great job of explaining it and it fits with reality.

Since the beginning of time man of his own free will, and able to make moral choices, has chosen to disobey God (sin). Adam and Eve when given a choice made the decision they would rather be god of their lives, rather than the actually Creator of the Universe (rebellion). Their act of choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could even be deemed selfish. For many years to come throughout the Old Testament, and many other ancient history, we can see selfishness pervade much of mankind’s choices. It even speaks in Romans 1  of men who dishonor and disobey God, whom are given up to the lusts of their hearts. Again another picture of selfishness.

The more dreadful part of this is that all are enslaved to there disobedience to God, or sin, (Romans 6:6) and obey the passions of their disobedience (Romans 6:12). It isn’t an instinct, but it is something that is keeping people blinded to the truth. The most glorious part is that it doesn’t have to be that way. God has chosen to redeem mankind from this disobedience, and freely give us a pardon from it. Even though we deserve justice, which is death and eternal separation from God. Through Jesus anyone can have that reconciliation that we all desire and long for in our hearts. However, it is only through Jesus (John 14:6).

Conclusion

I hope you can see that it is most reasonable to believe that morality cannot be based in evolution. Also that selfishness is not only morally wrong, but it is best explained by a Christian worldview. Most importantly, there is Good News, and that is God sent Jesus to reconcile his creation and we can accept this free gracious gift and begin to rid ourselves of this selfish way of living.

Sources:
Robert Wright, The Moral Animal–Why We Are the Way We Are:  The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New York:  Pantheon Books, 1994)

Koukl, Greg.  Monkey Morality: Can Evolution Explain Ethics http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6221

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No One Can Prove God!

“No one can prove God exists.”

“It is impossible to prove God exists.”

How often do people (or yourself) make one of these comments? During discussions or debates about God the two comments above are used as a trump for any further discussion. As Christians many times this is where the conversation stops. It seems almost worthless to keeping going, and the person saying such comments most likely has already closed their mind to the idea of the existence of God. However, I believe the conversation could be directed in a more useful and thoughtful direction.

I am currently reading through a book called Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy by Gregory Ganssle, which was recommended by Greg Koukl on Stand to Reason. I would like to share Greg Ganssle’s approach on the above statements because I see benefit in his approach.

When someone says, “No one can prove God exists” they often mean “You cannot provide reasons for thinking God exists that are so good that they will convince all thinking people” (Ganssle p. 25). In this case, Ganssle and I would agree that no one can give reasons that could convince “all thinking people.” One cannot provide an argument that convinces everyone of God’s existence without some possibility of reasonable doubt. Actually, one cannot provide a convincing argument for many philosophical ideas that would be accepted by everyone. For example, I cannot prove that the universe did not pop into existence fifteen minutes ago and that all of our memories are just illusions, that the mountains we see even exist, or that those around us have minds and are not just clever robots. It is not that there are not good arguments to support these ideas, but there are parts that are less than certain. We could say that these arguments could be rationally doubted. So far it seems that there are no philosophical ideas that can be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The fact the the arguments for God produce any reasonable doubt does not reduce the case for God’s existence (pgs. 25-26).

It is reliable to believe that the universe did not just pop into existence minutes ago, the mountains are real and our thoughts are not illusions, or other minds exist. It is reasonable to believe ideas that are not able to be “proven with unquestionable certainty” (pg. 27). In closing, even if you do not believe in God from the reasonable ideas I have given on this blog, you may at least start to see that those who believe in God are reasonable.

If you are interested in seeing the reasonable answers to the question of God’s existence then check out the articles below or search through my blog.

Articles on Existence of God
If God Were Real…
Evil as Evidence for God
What Science Can’t Prove
Is God Just an Idea?

Sources:

Gregory E. Ganssle. Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy. Kindle Edition.


			

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A Religious Showdown….One God Many Ways

Religious pluralism is rampant in our culture today, and only proceeds to become more popular with each generation. When looking around you can find many examples, such as coexist stickers, theological seminaries accepting other religions in their programs, TV shows talking about it, and even congregations that call themselves a mixture of religions (ex. Buddhist Christian). Even if someone does not follow or believe a certain religion, it seems our culture, because of pluralism, demands that each religion be accepted as equally true. At worst many will say, “All roads lead to Rome.” In other words, all religions lead to the same God, power, or whatever you call it/him/her.

In this post I am not going to argue for the truth of Christianity (there are previous posts that do), rather I want to make an argument that not all religions can be equally true, it is not good to mix Christianity with other religions, and we can “coexist” without having to accept another’s religion as true or one-and-the-same.

All Roads Lead to Rome

Two ways people might voice this idea is: (1) all religious understanding is relative and no one interpretation is absolute, or (2) all religions lead to the same end and are equally true. Those statements sound great, pleasing to the ear, and definitely politically correct, but are extremely illogical and easily refutable through common sense.

The first statement has two faults. First, we can evaluate it by the Law of the Excluded Middle. Either God exists or does not exist. There is nothing relative about that. It is either absolutely true that God exists or absolutely true that He does not exist, and there is no other option. There must be truth and truth cannot be relative or it is not truth. Aristotle put it well: If you say, “It is,” and it is, or “It is not,” and it is not, then that is truth. Second, if there is no spiritual truth, then why search for it through any religious means? All it becomes is an invention by man, and a huge waste of time.

The second statement goes against something called the Law of Non-Contradiction. Again the statement sounds appealing at face value, but if you know anything about even a couple religions you will find that there are many contradictions between them. Here are a few examples:

1. Jews say Jesus is not the Messiah…Christians say He is.

2. Buddhists say we live in an illusion…many other religions say this is reality.

3. Christians believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit all are one)…Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. Even worse, Muslims consider it blasphamy to equate Jesus with God.

These are only a few out of many opposing views that both cannot be true at the same time. It would be fine to say that two views or religions are equally valid, but definitely not equally true.

Syncretism 

Syncretism is defined as “the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.” This is not a new concept, but it is something that needs to be addressed. When religions are considered equally true, then there is no need to exclude one religious belief from another. Then people begin calling themselves Buddhist Christians, or claiming to be a Christian yet practicing witchcraft. The issue with this is that Christianity is exclusive in many of its beliefs, and it must be that way to hold to orthodoxy. To do otherwise contradicts the author and creator of Christianity, which is Jesus Christ. Here are some verses that show the exclusivity of Jesus, specifically as salvation (a center piece to Christianity):

1. Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

2. John 4:25-26 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

3. John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me,he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

4. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

5. Galatians 2:19-22 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

There are many other beliefs in the Christian religion that makes it obvious and wrong to syncretize with other religion. However, the foundation of the Christian religion is the salvation brought through only Jesus, and it must be exclusive or it is no longer Christianity.

Truly Coexist

Last, many want all religions to “coexist.” However, I think the issue here is in the definition of what it means to coexist. Often a word that goes with this statement is tolerance, because anyone who is unwilling to “coexist” is intolerant. What they mean by that is, “You are intolerant and won’t coexist if you claim your religion is true and someone else’s is false.” However, the true meaning of coexisting and tolerance are to accept, respect, and love one another as human beings deserve, without need to agree on religious beliefs as equally true. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, true tolerance requires disagreement.

In the end, all roads do not lead to Rome and all religions are not equally true. So it might be worthwhile to search out which one is true through thoughtful and reasonable questioning and research.

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Filed under Christianity, Logic and Reason, Other Religions