Apologetics


Garret Merriam

Professor Garret Merriam argues that if God exists, then we can’t be moral.   In other words, we can only be moral if morality is not grounded in God’s existence.  This is a reversal of the moral argument for God’s existence.  It’s a moral argument against God’s existence.

Like many new atheists, Merriam argues that the Christian God commands and commits evil, so if morality is rooted in God and our moral duties are based on God’s commands, morality is impossible.  I don’t accept the premise that God commands or commits evil, but let’s grant it for the sake of argument.  Does his conclusion follow?  No.

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Bible Homosexual PracticeFor more than three thousand years Jews and Christians have understood the Bible to condemn homosex in no uncertain terms.  Today, however, we are witnessing the rise of a gay hermeneutic that reinterprets the Bible’s teachings on homosex in a way that allows for at least some forms of homosex.  While small in number, this movement has a handful of reputable scholars making their case.  So what does the Bible really say?  Have we misunderstood the Bible on this issue for millennia, or are the Scriptures being twisted by those who want the Scriptures to affirm homosex for various personal or social reasons?

Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics is a must-read for everyone who want to know what the Bible has to say on this topic.  Gagnon examines the relevant OT (creation, cursing of Ham, concubine, Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus, cult prostitutes, David and Jonathan) and NT texts in depth, the cultural background of the Ancient Near East (ANE), and classic arguments offered against homosex (focusing on the argument from anatomical complementarity and natural function).  He finishes the book by interacting with arguments against the Bible’s enduring authority on this issue, showing how none of them are successful.

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SoulUntil relatively recently, most people believed that human beings are constituted of both body and soul.  With the rise of materialism, Darwinism, and neuroscience, however, this notion is under scrutiny and dismissed by most secular thinkers as ridiculous.  The notion that humans have souls is tantamount to a “ghost in the machine,” as British philosopher Gilbert Ryle put it.

The existence of the soul is important to Christianity for a variety of reasons.  First, the Scriptures teach that humans have souls.  If we don’t, then Scripture is wrong.  Second, if humans lack souls, then there is no life beyond the grave (at least prior to the resurrection).  But apart from the Bible or human tradition, why should we think the soul exists?  That is the subject of J.P. Moreland’s newest book, The Soul: How We Know It’s Real and Why It Matters.

This is not the first book Moreland has written on the subject, but it is the first book that is easily accessible to a lay audience. In less than 200 pages, Moreland lays out the case for the existence of the soul, the nature of the soul/consciousness, and the afterlife. He manages to examine the Biblical teaching on the topic as well.

While the modern tendency is to reduce the mind to the brain (appealing to neuroscience for empirical evidence), Moreland argues that this is manifestly false because mental properties are not identical to brain properties.  If mental properties cannot be reduced to physical properties, then the mind is not a physical thing, but an immaterial substance.

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MoralityThere are two senses in which something can be considered good.  Something can be good in a pragmatic sense: that which is the most effective means for obtaining some desired outcome.  For example, if we desire to eat an ice cream cone without getting ice cream on our clothes, it is “good” to start eating from the top of the cone rather than the bottom.  This kind of goodness is judged by something’s utility.  It is considered good because it works well, and the human subject values the fact that it works well.  We might call this kind of goodness “pragmatic goodness.”

Something can also be good in the sense that it has intrinsic moral virtue/character.  For example, it is “good” to try to save someone who is drowning.  This kind of goodness is judged by the intrinsic moral character of the act itself, rather than its utility.  Indeed, risking one’s life to save a stranger has little utility for the rescuer, but great moral virtue nonetheless.  This sort of goodness is not determined by what we desire or the value we attach to the outcome, but is rooted in the moral character of the act itself, wholly independent of what any human may think about it.[1]  We might call this kind of goodness “moral goodness.”  This is the kind of goodness moral philosophers have in mind when they talk about objective morality. (more…)

Country music star and confessing Christian, Carrie Underwood, has voiced her support for homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the past.  Now, her pastor – Stan Mitchell of GracePoint Church in Franklin, Tennessee – has followed suit.[1]  He announced to his church that

Full privileges are extended now to you [practicing homosexuals] with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.

What?  Expectations of holiness and godliness?  How can they be holy and godly when they are engaging in sexual behavior that the Bible condemns as abominable?  That’s like telling adulterers in the congregation that their behavior is fine so long as they have sex outside of marriage in holiness and godliness.  Their behavior is the opposite of holiness.  (more…)

Most Christians are conExperienceGodvinced of God’s existence based on their personal experience of God rather than by rational argumentation (though some are convinced by a combination of experience and argument).  This is a rational justification for such a belief. After all, we generally take our experiences to be veridical unless and until we have good reasons for thinking our experience was not veridical. An argument for God’s existence based on personal experience goes something like this:

  1. I seem to have had an experience of God
  2. I should trust my experiences unless I have good reasons to doubt their veracity
  3. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of my experience of God
  4. Therefore, I have experienced God
  5. Therefore, God exists

Atheists will often claim that they would also believe in God if they had a similar experience.  It’s not uncommon for this claim to be followed up by a question: Why, if God exists, have they not experienced Him?   (more…)

Dr. William Lane Craig has produced another video illustrating a primary argument for God’s existence: the moral argument.  Enjoy!

 

In case you missed his videos on the kalam cosmological argument and the design argument, see here and here.

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