In my view, it is pointless to debate the morality of anything with an atheist until he is willing to admit that moral assessments imply the existence of the immaterial and transcendental realities that must exist if those assessments reflect anything more than one’s favorite flavor of ice cream.
That’s really what you have going on here… you know, the old “A rose by any other name is still a rose” thing… a boy is still a boy by any other name, and likewise a girl… but you have some people who think that by throwing off definitions you can obliterate, change, or deny the underlying reality. Are there sometimes when definitions can be unhelpful? Sure, I can buy that. But there are limits to that observation. This is secularism: taking an observation into account but jettisoning the limits or notion of limits.
I posted a blog entry at the Christian Post recently. The reported death of Bin Laden generated crowds of people on the street wrapped in American flags and cheering. A casual look at the reaction to this reaction revealed to me that many people shared my apprehension with such a response. Different reasons for the …
This ministry hosts a regular online round table discussing matters of substance and controversy. Christians and NonChristians are invited but it is not necessarily an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate. Past topics have included matters of controversy only amongst Christians and due to the flexibility of the discussion, topics can change on a dime. The next …
PZ Myers posted his review of one of the stories in my recently released short story collection today. This one is of “Mother Teresa Goes to Heaven.” I have no interest in responding to it, though perhaps when he is done may respond to them all. At any rate, if you want to read his ‘review’ for yourself you can check it out.
However, it goes a bit without saying- although, apparently it must be said- there is no way you can possibly know if his review has any merit at all unless you read it for yourself.
Tonight, Feb 22nd, at 9:30 p.m. CST we will host our next semi-regular “Knights of Contention” online discussion using voice, video, and chat.
The topic: The 5 Challenges Apologetics Can’t Answer.
Due to the wide scope, this conversation can go anywhere. I have summarized the 5 challenges below with links to each of the 3 parts in which I have detailed them.
To learn more about the “Knights of Contention” click here.
Direct link to the discussion: http://connectpro58388802.na5.acrobat.com/knightcon/
5 Challenges, with summaries
What they all have in common: the belief, or acting as though one believes, that Christianity isn’t actually real. It’s just one’s private faith. No correspondence to reality exists, or is expected. ‘Apologetics’ can’t answer them because they have more to do with attitude or obedience than facts and evidence.
If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.
This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.
For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)
In part one of this essay I put forward two great challenges to Christianity that apologetics cannot answer. To illustrate the weight of this matter, consider the fact that not too long ago I wrote an entry called, “Apologetics is the Answer to Everything.” I stand by that post, still. These challenges have more to …
This was posted some time ago elsewhere and I wanted it on this blog for reference sake. Thanks to all who commented and read my last note. It was suggested that I hadn’t yet proposed any solutions to the crisis in the Church. It is true, I hinted at it, and suggested that a study …
What I am pasting below is an essay from long ago that I posted elsewhere. It’s old, but I wanted it on this blog for reference sake. I have been asked to write this note. I cannot write as long of a note as is required. My thinking here is years in the making. I …
About five years ago I published a collection of essays that is no longer available for purchase. The collection is titled after the essay below. It is not, as far as I know, something I’ve published elsewhere. I was thinking of it recently and decided it should be dusted off. It seems as relevant today as when I first wrote it.
That Which Atheism Becomes
Some might say that I just like to argue. The truth is that I believe that ideas have consequences and some consequences are more severe than others. Arguing, or more precisely, debating, these ideas helps everyone on all sides of a position understand a position better. In theory, if you could of got Bin Laden to sit down to have a nice debate you could of aroused for him some of the critical consequences of his beliefs and demanded that before he acted on them he had a much firmer basis. According to many Muslims, such a basis does not exist. I will leave that issue to them to sort out. But Bin Laden does have this going for him: he takes a belief to its rational conclusion. There are many dangerous beliefs out there that people consider harmless simply because they aren’t taken to their rational conclusion.
Apologetics ministries tend to focus on issues such as God’s existence or the fact of the resurrection or the Bible’s reliability. These are all very important. Indeed, they bear directly on the issues at hand- for if there is no God, it obviously follows that we cannot be made by him in his image. Further, Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection on behalf of a fallen human race is an emphatic testament to how much God himself values each human life. Dispense with these, and there are ripples down the line.
There, however, is where I wish to make the point: there are ripples down the line.
Somewhere I read once that in the 1700s they went after God. In the 1800s, they went after Jesus. In the 1900s, they went after Man. The sequence is logical, rational, and predictable. One would like to think that they can dispense with God without there being practical effect, but the 1900s have shown otherwise.
Richard Dawkins, among many others, have contended that ‘faith’ is believing what you know isn’t true. Less severe, but equally inaccurate, is the view that faith is a thing completely apart from evidence, or even in spite of the evidence. This view isn’t restricted to atheists. Unfortunately, many Christians themselves take that view. It is unfortunate because it is not true, it is not how the Scriptures actually present it, and it takes Christians out of discussions they should be involved in.
The simplest way to put it that would be accurate would be to understand ‘faith’ as including, front and center, the idea of ‘trust.’
Christian faith is not merely the confident belief that certain propositions are true. It isn’t even the confident belief that a God exists. The Scriptures forbid such a narrow understanding: “So you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19
Another passage puts it in better context: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he awards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Real Christian faith includes and transcends beliefs in propositions and speaks to the trust that we have in God and our reliance on his nature (ie, most prominently, his goodness).