Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ category

There Is No Proof of God?

July 29, 2017

A popular skeptical notion about spiritual things is that there is no proof of God. But is that a reasonable statement?

What does the skeptic mean by proof? Does he mean strict proof, mathematical proof or proof beyond a doubt? If that is what the skeptic means, then the skeptic will always remain a skeptic, because that kind of proof is unattainable.

There is nothing inherently bad or wrong in being skeptical. Skepticism or doubt is not a sin as some might suppose. “Doubting Thomas” was a disciple of Jesus after all! Honest skepticism is not a problem. In fact, honest skepticism is healthy; it drives us to test truth claims and weed out falsity.

The demand for strict proof that God exists, however, is not honest skepticism. While we might attain to some proof beyond a “reasonable” doubt, strict proof, mathematical proof, or proof beyond any doubt is impossible. I will try to explore why that is in this blog article.

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In Need of a Raja

June 28, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 42117413 Copyright: vverve

Most of us have heard the story about the blind men and the elephant. I heard in in a world religion class in 1978, my first year of college. In fact, the story is most often told in the context of the world religions. And, the story is most often told as an allegory suggesting that all religions are really getting at the same thing (the elephant).

If you haven’t heard the story, I will re-tell it. If you have heard the story, please bear with me because telling the story with its original conclusion is an important exercise in understanding the original conclusion.

If your antennae are up, you might have caught the hint that this story, conclusion and all, has a twist. The story usually isn’t told with the original conclusion, so the point of the original conclusion is lost in not being told. And, the conclusion leads to a very point than the usual takeaway.

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Nothing New Under the Sun?

June 20, 2017

Photo by Amanda Leutenberg

“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”[1]

This was the explanation for the Athenians wanting to hear what Paul had to say. They brought him to the Areopagus so they could hear “the new teaching” he was explaining in the synagogues and market places.[2] They wanted to hear, presumably, because it was new.

I have a friend who, basically, doesn’t want to entertain the Gospel because it isn’t new. He is always looking for a new way of looking at things. He is a very philosophical and thoughtful person, but he thinks he would be bored in heaven (as he imagines the heaven of clichés would be – and he is probably right about that[3]).

But the writer of Ecclesiastes said two thousand years before Christ “there is nothing new under the sun”.[4] To prove a point, my friend who is always looking for some new thought to chew on is no different than the Athenians in Paul’s day, who were interested in “nothing except telling or hearing something new.”

Another good friend of mine, Gary Hill, who is a chief author of the Discovery Bible (an incredible NASB Bible packed with scholarly resources for the serious Bible reader[5]), described to me how seminaries require doctoral students to choose theses that have never been covered before. The pressure to come up with something new encourages people to go searching for premises that often stray from the way, the truth and the life.

The desire for something always new is nothing new under the sun. It is an age old desire that the writer of Ecclesiastes criticized 2000 years before the Athenians idolized new ideas 2000 years before post modernists championed the idea “that truth is relative and truth is up to each individual to determine for himself.”[6] The idea that each individual can manufacture his or her own truth is simply an extension of this lust for something always new. (more…)

The Descent and Ascent of Man

May 27, 2017

Image ID: 150736070 Copyright: claverinza

When Charles Darwin wrote The Descent of Man[i], the title was a play on words. In the context of the book, Darwin meant the word in the sense of “derivation from an ancestor”; “the fact or process of originating from an ancestral stock”; and/or “the shaping or development in nature and character by transmission from a source”.[ii] Descent, of course, can have a quite different meaning.

The word, descent, can also mean “the act or process of descending from a higher to a lower level, rank, or state”; “an inclination downward”; and/or “a downward step (as in station or value”), as in decline. Darwin probably meant the word in this sense, also, in that philosophers and scientists and thinkers of all types before him had mostly viewed man standing apart from the rest of the natural world, standing above it (just a little lower than the angels). Darwin’s theory revealed man descending not from heaven, but descending (ascending) from lower life forms. This is the play on words.

In thinking about these things many generations after Charles Darwin coined the book title, in the context of all that has developed since his time, the subtlety and nuance of the play on words strikes me, but not in the way Darwin likely intended.

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Questions on Morality and the Materialist

April 10, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 129286826 Copyright: Olivier26

In a naturalistic world in which there is nothing supernatural, nothing other than the material world, and everything there is can be summed up by what we can touch, see, hear, feel and measure, survival of the fittest reigns. In a world like that, what is wrong with genocide?

Genocide is like the ultimate survival of the fittest. The superior people group dominates, overcomes and wipes out the inferior people group. What could be more Darwinian? What could be more natural in a naturalistic world?

This, in fact, is largely the history of the world. Why, then, is this expression of survival of the fittest wrong?

Thankfully most people today recoil from such a notion, but on what basis?

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How Do We Know God is a Personal Being?

April 2, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 146490813 Copyright: SergeyNivens

Many people are not willing to trust the Bible. They are not sure whether God exists or who, or what, God might be. Bur, we don’t need the Bible to determine whether God exists or that God is a Who, and not a What.

Dr. William Lane Craig addresses the question: How do we know whether the cause of the universe (God) is a personal being? He explains that the conclusion is reached in at least three different ways.

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Intellect and Faith

January 13, 2017
Photo by Tyler Drendel - Sunset at Fermi Lab

Photo by Tyler Drendel – Sunset at Fermi Lab

Following from part one of twobeing honest about the who and what of our underlying presuppositions

Think about it: can a finite being measure or define, let alone manipulate, an infinite God?

If God is “big” enough to create a universe so large that we cannot see past the beginning or the end, how do we expect to measure such a God?

We are more comfortable in our own element. We can understand the what and the how of the world we live in, but the who is another matter altogether. Non-believers go no further and declare, “that” is all there is.

At the same time, believers should not be afraid of facts or science. Facts and science help us to know and understand the what and how of creation – and they point to the Who. If we have an attitude open to the Who, we will see the evidence for God. In fact, it will seem self-evident. If a person wants “proof” before belief, such a person will never be satisfied- especially when the proof is a priori limited to the what and the how.

If we approach the idea of God with an “I will believe it when I see it” attitude, we aren’t likely to “see” anything. The intellect informs faith or the intellect dispels faith depending on our starting point, and that is not a matter of the intellect, but a matter of the heart!

In the New Testament, Jesus performed healing and miracles in front of crowds of people. Some people believed, and some people did not. Jesus said God must open our minds to understand (Luke 24:45), but we need to be willing, and that willingness is a matter of the heart, not the mind.

Atheists and agnostics have attempted to stake out an exclusive claim to the realm of intellect and to drive believers from that place. If you have come to faith in God, don’t reject your intellect. Don’t believe the lie that intellectual exercise is only for atheists or agnostics or that we must suspend or abandon our intellect to have faith.

We are instructed to “[s]et [our] minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:2) If we believe, we should “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind. Then [we] will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)

Our minds should be engaged. God and His will can be tested and proven.

We are guided by faith, of course, but not a blind faith – an informed faith! Blind faith is superstition. Faith isn’t the absence of fact or intellect; it’s the willingness to commit to what we know.

The key is in the attitude of the heart.

Are you open to God?

Are you open to the possibility of God?

Do you have anything to lose?

Blaise Pascal said long ago:

Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.

Pascal was not a shallow shill. He was a genius, a mathematician, philosopher, scientist and theologian.

Speaking to believers now, too often we are neither innocent as doves nor wise as serpents. We allow ourselves to be taken in and influenced by the world and the flesh, and we mistakenly buy into the lie that intellect is at odds with faith. We abandon the ground of intellect to the naturalists and materialists.

God invites us (challenges us), “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) That is a challenge to believers and unbelievers alike.


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