About Melissa Cain Travis

Melissa Cain Travis serves as Assistant Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. She earned the Master of Arts in Science and Religion from Biola University, graduating with Highest Honors. She is certified in Christian Apologetics by Biola, and received her B.S. in biology from Campbell University. She is the author of the Young Defenders series, illustrated storybooks that teach the fundamentals of Christian apologetics to young children. The first book, How Do We Know God is Really There? was released in spring, 2013. The second, How Do We Know God Created Life? will release in March 2014.

How the Bodily Resurrection of Christ Indicates a Historical Adam

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

I Corinthians 15:22

What exactly did the writer of the first three chapters of Genesis mean to communicate about the origin of mankind? Views vary drastically within Christendom about where Adam came from in the material sense and even whether or not he was a historical individual at all. The debate shows no signs of abating; it is one of the hot-button topics in science and theology these days. How this question is answered has direct implications for essential Christian doctrine.

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Dusting Off the Feet

You’re doing the hard work of learning the evidence for the truth of Christianity and how to employ  logical argumentation. A skeptical family member/friend/acquaintance approaches you with challenges against the faith, challenges you happen to be very familiar with. So, you respectfully point out the flaws in their logic and/or the factual errors of their claims.

Rather than heed your rebuttals, they ignore them and change the subject to yet another objection they have against Christianity.

Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

Frustrating, yes?
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What is Man?

What is Man?

“What is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?
You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him lord over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under his feet.”

Psalm 8:4-6

By far, my favorite subtopic in Christian apologetics is human ontology. That’s fancy philosopher-speak for the study of the nature of mankind. It asks: What, exactly, IS a human being? Or, as the Psalm above words it, “What is man?”

Is Homo sapiens different from the animal kingdom in degree only? In other words, are we simply animals with more highly evolved cognitive capacities, including rationality? Is our “self” nothing more than our material brain? Or, are we different in kind, meaning, is there something about man that makes him essentially distinct from any other living creature, and thus, of higher value?

According to orthodox Christianity, human beings are a different kind of being altogether. Most importantly, we all have a soul, a self, which can be defined as the immaterial mind–the seat of rationality and moral awareness. Many theologians have said that having an immortal human soul (as opposed to a finite animal soul) is what it means to be made in the imago Dei, the image of God. It is this distinctive that imparts a supreme value to humans.

This is why Christians have strong convictions on bioethical issues in particular. We believe that humans are equally valuable from the moment of conception to their final breath, and should be protected and treasured at every single moment in between. To be sure, animals have considerable worth as part of God’s good creation, but human health and survival always trumps that of any animal.

speciesismContrast this view with that of the materialist, who denies this sharp discontinuity between humans and all other organisms. By their lights, we are only different in degree, thanks to blind evolutionary processes. Our species is at the top of the food chain thanks to our more sophisticated neural networks. There is, then, no ground upon which to say humans are more precious than any other species. To do so would be to commit “species-ism,” as some atheist bioethicists, such as Peter Singer, have pointed out. Singer, you may be aware, is the Princeton professor who has said that “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons,” and “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

According to Singer, if a baby is born with abnormalities, it should be permissible to perform an after-birth abortion (infanticide) and “start all over.” And you know what? If atheism is true, and humans are only material creatures who are not of higher value and not morally accountable to a higher power, Singer is correct. He is simply being consistent in his worldview. As Wesley Smith (a conservative bioethicist and opponent of Singer’s) has so aptly phrased it, the materialist’s view implies that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”

Now, many non-theists reject the logical conclusion of their metaphysical beliefs. Something within them, I believe the very image of God they deny possessing, makes them aware that this cannot be right! Humans must be more valuable than a sewer rat, and a newborn baby should not be euthanized just because he or she suffers from an abnormality. [Read more…]

Evaluation of Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, Part 4

This is the fourth and final installment in my book review series on Darwin’s Doubt.

Part III: After Darwin, What? 

In chapters 15 and 16, Meyer explores the various “post-Darwinian” models that have been proposed to account for the massive amount of biological information required to give rise to new body structures and ultimately, new body plans.

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Evaluation of Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, Part 3

This is a continuation of my book review series on Darwin’s Doubt. You can read the first installment HERE and the second HERE. Although this is the third article (of four) in my series, it will focus on “Part II” of the book.

 

Section two of Darwin’s Doubt is entitled, “How to Build an Animal.” Meyer gets a bit more technical at this point. He first explains the specified complexity of DNA coding and the problem this biological information poses for the body-plan explosion of the Cambrian era. The argument is basically that new body plans require an enormous amount of new genetic information, and the Cambrian phenomena shows that this information came about in a geological blink–not nearly enough time for natural selection acting upon random mutations to accomplish the explosion of body-plan diversity.

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