Understanding the arguments in God’s not Dead: Part III of III

1938081_10102107087661352_1599973938_nIn part one we looked at Professor Radisson’s arguments in detail, and in part two we dug into Josh’s first and second lectures to his class.  In the final part we will discuss the final talk, and the importance of Philosophy for Christians.

Josh’s third lesson begins with the problem of evil and suffering.  This is one of the most difficult questions for the Christian to answer.  However, I do not think we are without anything meaningful to say on this subject.

The most basic form of the objection to God’s existence based on evil is this:

1. If God is all powerful, then He can prevent evil from happening.

2. If God is all loving, then He would want to stop evil from happening

Therefore, since evil exists, an all powerful and all loving God must not exist.

This, at least at first glance, seems to be a pretty good reason to believe that God does not exist, especially since it seems to be the case that if the premises (statements one and two) are true, then the conclusion does seem valid.  So what can the Christian say at this point? [Read more...]

Understanding the arguments in God’s not Dead: Part II of III

986643_10102107087676322_1471948263_nIn part one we looked at the arguments advanced by Professor Radisson, now we come to the arguments Josh put forward as he took the floor.

The first argument Josh talked about is called the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God.  This comes in many different versions, all of which have interesting aspects.  Yet all of them have in common the idea of a first cause, particularly of the Universe.  Common questions along these lines are, “Why is there something rather than nothing?  Where did everything come from?  What caused this or that thing to happen?”  With any one thing of which a person might ask these questions, most of the time the same question can be asked about the answer just given. 

Where did these chips come from?

Potatoes.

Where did the potatoes come from?

The potato farm.  Etc.

The idea here is much like a row of dominoes that have been set up and subsequently knocked down.

What knocked over this domino?

The domino before it.

And what knocked over that domino?

The domino before it.

But what knocked over the first domino?  This becomes the really important question.  When dealing with the Universe, the question is, what started the Universe off?  The answer is God.  “Wait, that seems too easy,” you might say.  Someone may ask, as one young lady did in the movie, “Who created God?”  This brings up a really important question, “If everything has a cause, then what caused God.”  The answer put forward by Josh, though stated quickly and simply, is a powerful one.  “Christians don’t believe in a created God.”  Here is a more in depth version of that idea. [Read more...]

Is There a Way to Avoid a Universe with a Beginning?

Is There a Way to Avoid a Universe With a BeginningAfter examining the evidence, cosmologists and physicists have largely embraced the fact we live in a universe that began to exist at a point in the distant past. At this point of “cosmic singularity” all space, time and matter came into existence abruptly, beginning in an extremely hot and dense state and expanding rapidly. Everything came from nothing. This view of the universe’s origin is called the Standard Cosmological model, and it best explains the evidence we presently observe. Astrophysicist Andrew Liddle and astronomer Jon Loveday affirm this: “The standard cosmological model is a striking success, as a phenomenological description of the cosmological data… The model’s success in explaining high precision observations has led a clear majority of the cosmological community to accept it as a good account of how the universe works” (Oxford Companion to Cosmology, page 8).

If the universe began to exist, however, it’s reasonable to look for a cause sufficient to begin its existence. This cause, by definition, would have to be something non-spatial, a-temporal and immaterial (something other than the universe itself). In addition, the foundational cause of the universe must be uncaused, or it simply isn’t foundational. All of us, regardless of worldview, are looking for the first, uncaused, sufficiently powerful, non-spatial, a-temporal, immaterial cause of the universe. From this description you can see how dangerously close this cause sounds to a theistic description of God. Perhaps this is why many researchers and cosmologists seek to find a cosmological model avoiding a cosmological singularity (a model denying the beginning of space, time and matter). A number of models have been offered, but none have the explanatory ability to supplant the Standard Cosmological Model:

The Steady State Model
This theory was developed in 1949 by Sir Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold and others, although a number of variations of this idea have been proposed over the years. Steady State (also known as “eternal inflation”) theories acknowledge the expansion of the universe, but explain this as the result of new matter being formed over time. As galaxies move away from one another, new matter appears in the voids created by the expansion. The universe is continually expanding not from a point of beginning but as a continuous process of stretching and “infilling”. The theory removed the need for the universe to have a beginning, but it had several flaws causing scientists to abandon it. The theory violates the laws regulating the conservation of mass, has never been confirmed by a single observation. Most scientists abandoned the theory in the late 1960’s when observations affirmed the universe was in fact changing over time: quasars and radio galaxies were observed at large distances (meaning they existed in the past), but not in closer, newer galaxies. In addition to this, the theory fails to explain cosmic background radiation (the Steady State Theory tried to explain this radiation as the result of light from ancient stars scattered by galactic dust, but this is inconsistent with the “smooth” nature of the radiation). Worse yet, there has never been any experimental or evidential verification of the idea, and no one’s been able to offer a reasonable mechanism explaining the appearance of new galaxies. [Read more...]

Questions That Are Off-Limits- Part 2

Last month we looked at questions that atheists tend to shy away from for whatever reason, and we looked at questions that are truly off-limits to those in an atheistic world. Today, we will see if Christianity has any such questions. 

What is Off Limits In The Church?

One of the great advantages of Christianity over atheism is that the questions that are off limits in atheism are central to Christianity- God exists and He does have a purpose for all the pain and suffering that we experience. But does Christianity have its own questions that it says are off limits that may cause the worldview to implode?

 

The Culture of “Questions Not Allowed”

Around the age of 12 or 13, I discovered that my asking questions was quite annoying to many people. Generally people didn’t mind my asking a couple basic questions here and there. But when I started asking a lot of questions, or my questions began to point out a real issue between two facts, their demeanor changed. I noticed this especially in church. People didn’t mind my asking some basic questions about Christianity, but when I started getting into deeper theology, they ran. Some rebuked the questioning. This gave me a very sour feeling around many fellow Christians, as if asking tough questions about what we believed was off limits. This was one of the reasons that I drifted away from the Church. My thoughts were these: if Christianity is true, why are Christians so afraid of being challenged? Christianity was for the intellectually weak and  emotionally driven.

[Read more...]

Jesus of Testimony

Greg SpencerGreg Spencer of Roseburg, OR, was a police officer in narcotics enforcement in the 1990s. His work kept him immersed in a world of violence, death, and depravity on a regular basis. In addition he was a deputy medical examiner, which meant he had to view autopsies, often on bodies whose life had ended in a horrible death. He was dedicated to his work, but it turned him into a hardened and calloused man, and his first marriage ended because of it.

He left the police force after fifteen years of service and became a cross-country truck driver, but about six months into that, macular degeneration in both eyes rendered him effectively blind. He went on disability, and, with the expectation of being blind and disabled for the rest of his life, got help through the Oregon Commission of the Blind in functional blind living, including white cane and guide dog training. [Read more...]