Apologetics


Is abortion moral? It’s rather telling when one side of the moral debate wants to ignore the most important question – what is being killed? – and focus on the will of the mother instead. It’s equally telling when that same side invents a host of euphemisms to obfuscate the issue including “women’s health, reproductive rights, choice, and termination of pregnancy.” When people avoid the main issue and use euphemisms to hide the truth of their actions from the public, you can pretty much bet that those people are on the wrong side of that issue.

Those who won’t bend their knee to God typically won’t nod their head to truth either. By this, I mean that someone who is unwilling to acknowledge God’s authority over their life is not likely to acknowledge God’s truth either when that truth conflicts with their desire for self-autonomy.

So when we offer reasons and evidence for the truth of Christianity (an apologetic), and those reasons and that evidence are rejected by the unbeliever, it’s not necessarily because our reasons are bad or the evidence isn’t good (although, that’s not to say I haven’t heard bad arguments offered by Christians). It is simply the fact that the same will that is bent against God’s authority is also bent against God’s truth. If the unbeliever acknowledged God’s truth, they would also have to acknowledge that their continued rejection of God is based purely on their obstinate will. So instead, they reject that truth and continue to pretend that their rejection of God is based on intellectual merits. This is not a failure of apologetics, but a failure of the human will.

More than 80 fragments of Nahum and Zechariah (not all have text written on them) were recently discovered in the Judean desert. These are the first Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 60 years. Apparently, these fragments belong to a scroll of the Minor Prophets that was discovered in this same cave more than 60 years ago. That scroll, and these new fragments, are written in Greek rather than Hebrew. One of the interesting features of this scroll is that the name of God is written in paleo Hebrew, which is the ancient Hebrew script. Hopefully more scrolls will soon be discovered.

See:

Biblical Archaeology Society

The Jerusalem Post

In Meriwether v Hartop, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a professor who refused to call a student by his preferred (feminine) pronouns (see Law & Crime for the backstory to the case). The 3-panel court ruled that this violated both his free speech and religious rights. This is a big win for those advocating for both common sense and free speech in regards to preferred gender pronouns.

Language is sexed. Pronouns are meant to match one’s biological sex, not their personal sense of gender identity. If a biological boy thinks of himself as a girl, that’s fine, but he remains a biological male nonetheless, and as such, according to the English rules of grammar, should be referred to with male pronouns. In the same way the boy has a right to think of himself as a girl, we have a right to use language the way we see fit – which, in this case, accords with both biological reality and the rules of English grammar. No one should be compelled to use certain speech or deny biological reality.

(more…)

If you haven’t heard of the story regarding the dad jailed for calling his trans-son “daughter” and using female pronouns, you need to. He was arrested for “family violence.” While this happened in Canada, given the trajectory in the U.S., it won’t be long before this kind of thing happens here as well. Indeed, we are on the precipice of this happening here already.

(more…)

There are differences of opinion regarding whether it is moral or beneficial for transgender people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Regardless of where you land in that debate, everyone should be able to agree that it is unfair to allow “transgender women” (biological men who identify as women) to compete in women’s sports.

This is not about equality, but fairness. Biological males have clear physical advantages over biological females, guaranteeing that transgender women will beat all or most biological women in sports. That is why we have always separated sports by sex. Allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports is not fair to biological women. They practice and train for years to be the best among women, only to be beaten by a biological male.

(more…)

When in a discussion, I tend to be quick to note my disagreement when someone says something I disagree with. I am prone to immediately launch into all the reasons I think they are wrong, followed by presenting and arguing for my own point of view. Unfortunately, this is not the best approach to resolving disagreement.

The mantra I am trying to live by is “make them justify before you falsify.” What does this mean? Before you ever attempt to falsify someone’s belief or statement, ask them why they think it is true. Why do they believe what they believe? What reasons do they have? The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. It’s not our job to show why they are wrong, but their job to demonstrate that they are right.

If you pause a moment to make them justify their claim, you’ll often find that they have little-to-no justification, or that their reasons are quite bad. Once they realize that they have no (or poor) justification, they will likely be more open to your critique of their view as well as your own view. So the next time you are tempted to voice your disagreement, make them justify before you falsify.

If you think the only argument against abortion is a religious argument, please examine the pro-life case more closely. While a religious argument can be made, it is not necessary. The pro-life argument stands or falls on biological facts plus philosophical/moral reasoning. It’s very simple:

(1) It’s morally wrong to kill innocent human beings without proper justification (the philosophical/moral premise)
(2) The science of embryology demonstrates that a new, distinct human being comes into existence at conception (the scientific premise)
(3) It follows from (1) and (2) that abortion kills an innocent human being
(4) Therefore, abortion is morally wrong

If you are going to argue for abortion, you’ll need to falsify one of the first two premises above. Will you deny the moral truth that it’s wrong to kill innocent human beings, or will you deny the scientific facts of embryology?

Abortion is often compared to the practice of child sacrifice practiced by many ancient cultures, including those in OT times. It is not a 1:1 comparison, of course. Those who get abortions are not doing so for religious reasons, and the age of the children are different. However, in both cases, human beings are choosing to kill their own children. God hates murder, whatever the reason or the age of the victim.

I find it interesting, then, that God not only condemned those who committed child sacrifice, but also those who stood by silently and did nothing to those who sacrificed their children. Consider Leviticus 20:1-5. God begins with a condemnation of those who commit child sacrifice:

(more…)

When discussing Christianity with a non-Christian, it’s not uncommon for them to dismiss the call to discipleship by saying, “I’ve tried religion and it didn’t work for me.” There are a number of questions you could ask when hearing such a statement.

First, “What religion(s) did you try?” There are many different religions, and most are as different as night and day.

(more…)

You can always tell when someone believes something based on their emotions/will rather than their reason: They resort to name-calling, yelling, violence, shame, intimidation. They want to silence the opposition rather than respond to them. I heard it said that you know someone doesn’t have a good argument when they resort to hitting people with blunt objects to make their case.

Many Christians would disavow such things, but they have another way of responding to challenges to their ill-founded beliefs. When they don’t have good reasons to support their claims or to challenge your arguments, they trump you with spirituality. They will say the Holy Spirit told them that X is true, or that the only reason you believe X is because you are not spiritual. Don’t fall for the bait by shifting the focus to your own spirituality. Shift the focus back to the argument by responding, “Ok, so I’m carnal. Can you tell this carnal brother of yours why I should believe you are right (or conversely, why I should believe I am wrong)?”

Certainty is a state of mind. One who is certain is one who does not doubt that some X is true. Having certainty regarding X does not guarantee that X is true, but merely that one believes X is true and has no doubts regarding its truth. Someone who seeks certainty regarding some X, then, seeks to justify belief in X to such a degree that they no longer have doubts regarding the truth of X.

Many post-modern types decry the desire for certainty as an “Enlightenment ideal,” preferring questioning and doubt instead. This is wrong. The desire for certainty is a basic human desire that has manifested itself in every generation. Humans want to know that what they believe is true. While certainty is not required to have knowledge (and philosophically speaking, not possible for most things), and while certainty is not required for everything we believe, and while an inordinate desire for certainty can be bad, the desire for certainty is natural, good, and obtainable in some matters.

(more…)

People’s perception of Christianity is often shaped more by their church experience than by Scripture. If your experience of Christianity was in a Catholic church, you may think of Christianity as solemn and reverent, but ritualistic and largely irrelevant to daily life. If your experience of Christianity was in a Baptist church, you may think of Christianity in terms of moral behavior and Bible study. If your experience of Christianity was in a Pentecostal church, you may think of Christianity as wild and crazy, where emotions and the supernatural are top priority. Whatever your experience may have been, that is what you associate with “Christianity.” For you, that IS Christianity.

So when you invite a former Christian to rekindle their former Christian faith, they will naturally think you are trying to convert them back to the same church experience they had in the past. And for many people, it was their church experience that caused them to leave the faith. Why on earth would they ever want to go back?!

That’s why it’s a good idea to ask them about their church experience. What was their church community like? What did they believe? What were their negative experiences? It’s also good to ask them what they think Christianity is all about. In my experience, most people’s understanding of Christianity is very thin, if not warped. Once you know more about their view and experience of Christianity, the better you will be able to share with them the true gospel. Once they see the difference between what they came from and what you are inviting them to, they might be willing to give Christianity – the real Christianity – another shot.

When it comes to contentious issues, we rarely have genuine conversations regarding them. Most “conversations” are just opportunities for each person to express their own point of view. Neither person does much listening to the other, and neither expects to learn anything from the exchange. Their only goal is to declare their point of view, and perhaps convince the other person in the process.

This is not a good approach. We should come to every conversion believing that the other person has something to offer. We should be listening, not just making points. After all, we could be wrong in what we believe, wrong about particular facts, etc. Our “opponent” may actually have insights that we could benefit from, so we should be open and ready to be corrected if necessary.

(more…)

When we hear something that fits with what we already believe, we are apt to adopt it without much reflection or critical thinking. Instead, we should be asking ourselves what the opposition might say regarding the information. We should subject our beliefs to critique – critiquing them as though we want to prove them false. This will help us to see how solid the evidence actually is and avoid confirmation bias.

Sometimes we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Let me give you two examples where Christians cannot seem to win with non-Christians.

Non-Christians will often complain that Christians are hypocrites, by which they mean we do not live up to our own moral codes. While we say people should do X, we ourselves fail to do X. And yet, these same people will complain when one Christian calls out another Christian for their immoral behavior. Now the complaint is “you shouldn’t judge” (not recognizing that they themselves are making a judgement when they say “you should not judge” – and thus being hypocritical themselves – and that they make a judgment when they say Christians are hypocrites). So let me get this straight. Christians are damned if they fail to live up to their own moral standards, and they are damned if they try to encourage each other to live up to their own moral standards. Can we win?

(more…)

We’re living in a time when people tend to isolate themselves intellectually. Not only do they not take it upon themselves to search out viewpoints that differ from their own, but they actually shun people who do not agree with them. We see this all the time on social media. You post something that person X does not agree with. Rather than reading what you have to say and starting a dialogue regarding your differences in hopes of helping each other discover the truth, person X ignores the post, or worse yet, unfriends you.

This sort of behavior is consistent with our cancel culture, but frankly, it is childish and foolish. I use these words advisedly, not as a smear. This is childish because only children plug their ears when they don’t want to hear what you have to say, not sensible adults, and thus when adults engage in this kind of behavior they are literally acting childish. This is foolish because this sort of behavior makes it impossible for one to grow intellectually. Everyone has false beliefs. The only way to discover which of our beliefs are false and correct those beliefs is to be open to listening to alternative viewpoints. If we ignore alternative viewpoints and shun those who hold to them, we stunt this process, guaranteeing that we will not grow in our knowledge of truth and wisdom.

(more…)

Personal experience is valuable and powerful, but it is of little value for determining the truth or what reality is like for other people. Personal experience is anecdotal in nature. We may know what we experienced, but how could we know that others have experienced the same? Even if we found three people who shared our experience, at best, we could conclude that four people have experienced what we have. We can’t simply extrapolate from our experience that everyone else has the same experience/perspective as we do. We can’t just assume that our experience is representative of other people’s experiences.

To know how widespread and representative our experience/perspective is, we need more than anecdotal data – we need hard data. Polling and statistics serve this purpose. They seek to determine how common certain experiences and perspectives are in the general population. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that my experience was common, only to find out from polling data that it isn’t; or how many times I have believed some X to be uncommon in society, only to find out that it was quite common (or vice-versa).

We should not place our personal experience above the facts when determining the truth. Personal experience is a factor, but it’s just one factor. If my personal experience leads me to believe that X is true, but the data shows that X is not true, then I need to correct my perception. My experience is still my experience, but I need to recognize that my experience is not necessarily the norm and should not be used to color my perception of reality. Perceptions should be based on facts, not anecdotal experiences.

P.S. As a public service announcement, for the sake of all mankind, please don’t use the phrase “lived experience.” Adding “lived” before “experience” adds no additional meaningful. It’s like saying “sufficient enough.” Every experience is a lived experience because the dead do not have experiences. ‘Nuf said.

Some claim that abortion is just an ordinary medical procedure – just the removal of some tissue from a woman’s uterus – and thus no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled. However, I’ve never known anyone who experienced angst when contemplating the decision to remove a tooth. They’ve never talked about how difficult the decision was for them, or wondered whether it was the morally right thing to do. They never experience depression after the procedure, and none of them have ever claimed that it was their biggest regret.

Clearly, there is a moral difference between abortion and other medical procedures, and everyone knows it. Abortion doesn’t remove tissue from a woman’s body – it kills an innocent human being who is developing in a woman’s body. That’s why people struggle with the decision. They understand the moral weight involved.

Abortion is a very simple issue, morally speaking. We should not kill innocent human beings. Abortion kills innocent human beings. Therefore, abortion is wrong. We can do better. Let’s protect the most vulnerable human beings among us. Let’s be pro-life.

 

All of us would like to have certainty regarding knowledge, and yet, certainty is rarely afforded to us. Most of what we believe to be true, we believe on the basis of probabilities. Unfortunately, many people, being too desirous of certainty, are led in one of two bad directions: skepticism, dogmatism.

An inordinate desire for certainty leads some down the skeptics’ road, always doubting everything and never willing to make a knowledge claim that falls short of certainty (or something very close). For others, their desire for certainty leads them down the road of dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and intellectual dishonesty. In their quest for certainty, they are unwilling to entertain any ideas that would call their current beliefs into question. They respond vehemently against anyone who holds to a view contrary to their own. They argue, not to discover truth, but to defend their dogmatic certainty.

While the desire for certainty is understandable, we cannot allow it to lead us in either of these directions. We must be willing to take a position based on the evidence we have, while recognizing that we could be mistaken. We also need to be willing to consider other evidence and other points of view, and be willing to change our opinions if the evidence warrants it. In many cases, we should be less dogmatic, acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of our view. For example, I hold to Premillennialism, but I’m not anywhere near certain that it’s true. As a percentage, I’m only ~65% convinced that it is true. That’s enough for me to claim it as my view, but not enough for me to be dogmatic about it. While I would love to have certainty regarding all of my beliefs, certainty is rarely afforded to us. In light of that, we need to do our best to form our opinions based on the evidence available to us, but always be open to revising our opinions if the evidence warrants it.

Next Page »