November 2011


Frank Beckwith has made the observation that when people cannot refute your argument, they often trump it with spirituality. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about. You state your reasons for believing P rather than Q, and your Christian brother responds by saying, “I know that’s not true because God told me Q is true.”  Or your Christian sister responds, “You only believe that because you are carnal.” Don’t fall for this cheap tactic.

You could respond by saying to your brother, “Actually, God told me P is true, so I know you didn’t hear from God.” And to your sister you can respond, “Ok, I’m carnal. So can you tell this carnal brother of yours why my argument is wrong, and why I should believe your position/interpretation?”

How do we know God is good rather than evil?  After all, there is a mix of both good and evil in the world.  Which one is God responsible for?  As Christians, we look to the Bible to tell us about God’s moral nature, but what if we didn’t have Scripture?  Could we discern that God is good from natural theology alone?  Yes, and here’s how.

Most people would agree that the concept of God is best described as “the greatest conceivable being.”  If we posited a being, Q, as God, and yet we could conceive of another being, X, who is greater than being Q, then being X—not being Q—must be the true God since nothing can be greater than God.  If God qua God is the greatest conceivable being, then He must be omnibenevolent (OB) because it is greater to be good than it is to be evil, and it is greater to be all-good than it is to be partially good.  So if there is a God, He must be OB.[1]

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Greg Koukl recently made a great observation about “Christians” who are dismissive of the Bible in favor of their own ideas and revelations. Such individuals have a low view of the Bible’s authority because it was written by man, and man can get things wrong. Not only does this fail to take the Bible’s claim of divine inspiration seriously, but it fails to recognize that since they are also human, their thoughts and revelations may be mistaken as well! Other than personal bias, what reasons do they have for thinking previous holy men of God couldn’t get it right, but they can?

I just finished reading an article in the Irish Times by Michael Nugent, chairman of Atheist Ireland.  Titled “Atheists and religious alike seek to identify foundation of morality,” Nugent argues that the question of God’s existence is really just a distraction from the social need to determine what is right and wrong.  If there is no God, we must determine what we think is right and wrong.  And if God does exist, we still have to determine what it is that he/they thinks is right and wrong.  Either way, it is a human responsibility to determine right and wrong.

While one might expect for Nugent to go on to discuss how we should determine right and wrong irrespective of what we believe the foundation of morality to be, instead he goes on to critique moral theories that are based on the existence of God or gods!  Apparently he does think it makes a difference as to whether or not you believe morality is real or imagined, and based on God or in human will.  Through one side of his mouth Nugent claims the question of God’s existence is irrelevant to our quest for moral knowledge, but through the other side he says belief in God/gods will interfere with that quest.  How’s that for a self-contradiction!

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During one of his recent radio shows, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason made an important observation about the debate over same-sex marriage (SSM) that virtually all advocates of SSM miss: the debate over SSM has virtually nothing to do with what same-sex couples (SSCs) do, and everything to do with what we (society) do.

No one is regulating the behavior, love, living situation, or commitments of SSCs.  SSCs are free to live with one another, have sex with one another, create legal contracts with one another, and even engage in public ceremonies to celebrate their love and commitment to one another.  Being granted access to the institution of marriage would not give SSCs any additional freedoms.  What it would give them is a new social standing.  Why?  Because marriage is society’s way of putting their stamp of approval on a particular kind of relationship.  It’s society’s way of declaring what a family is.  To say SSCs can participate in the institution of marriage would be a social declaration that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual unions.  Whether society should make such a declaration stands at the heart of the debate over SSM.  Do we, as a society, want to declare same-sex relationships to be socially equivalent to heterosexual relationships?

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I have a theory about racism.  While I know racism is real, I think a lot of what passes for racism is actually a misdiagnosis of ethnocentrism (the idea that one’s culture is superior to others).

Each culture has its own unique worldview, values, and practices.  Humans tend to be suspicious of worldviews/values/practices that differ from their own.  In some cases, we can even despise all or some aspect of certain cultures (often for illegitimate reasons such as “I had an experience in which a person of X race did me wrong, therefore I don’t like people of X race”).  Many times, the skin color of the people in the culture we despise differs from our own as well.  But is the color of their skin the cause of the animosity?  No, I don’t think so.  The person from culture A with skin color B despises people from culture X with skin color Y, not because he hates skin color Y, but because skin color Y serves to identify the people who belong to the culture who thinks/acts in ways he despises.  In other words, race is incidental to the animosity, not the source.

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