XFiles Friday: He who is without sin

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 13.)

It’s almost time for Geisler and Turek to do their “answering the critics” schtick, but before we get to that, there’s just one or two loose ends they’d like to tie up. According to G&T, Jesus proved his deity by “three unparalleled proofs,” namely fulfilled prophecy, a sinless life, and resurrection.

We’ve already given evidence regarding the messianic prophecies, Jesus’ miracles, and his resurrection. But what about the idea of Jesus being sinless? Jesus himself said, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin” (John 8:46, NASB)? Moreover, his disciples, who spent three years with him day and night, claimed that Jesus was sinless…

Because of course it would never have occurred to those disciples that their own authority was derived from Jesus’ perceived authority, and therefore it was in their own best interests to make Jesus sound as virtuous and authoritative as possible. Right?

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XFiles Friday: Context! Context! Context!

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 12.)

Dominic Crossan, of the Jesus Seminar, once said that if the trees in his back yard suddenly moved 5 feet overnight, he wouldn’t immediately assume that the cause must be supernatural. Geisler and Turek take this hypothetical scenario and use a variation of it as an illustration of the principle that context ought to determine how you interpret things.

So let’s suppose that Crossan’s tree-moving event occurred in the following context: Two hundred years in advance, someone claiming to be a prophet of God writes down a prediction that all of the trees in one particular area of Jerusalem would indeed move five feet one night during a particular year. Two hundred years later, a man arrives to tell the townspeople that the tree moving miracle will occur shortly. This man claims to be God, teaches profound truths, and performs many other unusual acts that appear to be miracles.

Then one morning numerous eyewitnesses claim that the trees in Crossan’s Jerusalem yard—including several deep-rooted, 100-foot oaks—actually moved five feet during the night, just as the God-man predicted. These eyewitnesses also say this is just one of more than thirty miracles performed by this God-man. They then suffer persecution and martyrdom for proclaiming these miracles and for refusing to recant their testimony. Opponents of the God-man don’t deny the evidence about the trees or the other miracles, but offer natural explanations that have numerous fatal flaws. Many years later, after all the eyewitnesses are dead, skeptics offer additional natural explanations that prove to be fatally flawed as well. In fact, for the next 1,900 years skeptics try to explain the event naturally, but no one can.

Question: Given that context, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the movement of the trees was supernatural rather than natural in origin?

I think that’s an absolutely brilliant illustration, and for once I agree with Geisler and Turek almost completely.

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XFiles Friday: The apologetics of chutzpah

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 10.)

The first time I heard the term chutzpah, it was defined in terms of a man who has just murdered his parents, asking the judge to be lenient on the grounds that he’s just lost his mom and dad. It’s a kind of breathtaking outrageousness that substitutes brash boldness for common sense, and it’s a term that seems almost tailor-made for certain apologetic arguments.

You see, some apologetic arguments are just plain poor. They overlook obvious facts, they beg the listener to jump to credulous and superstitious conclusions, or they just don’t make any sense. Yet despite what might seem like fatal problems, they manage to be quite popular and enduring. They are effective because they have that special chutzpah that makes you want to believe that the apologist must have some kind of valid point to make, because nobody could possibly expect an argument like that to stand on its own.

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Welcome to evangelicalrealism.com!

It’s moving day. The old accommodations were quite nice, and I’m very happy with the service I got at WordPress.com. To be perfectly honest, I’m losing one or two sidebar widgets by moving to my own host. The new place has a lot more room for expansion and customization though, and will let me set up a corresponding web site that doesn’t have to fit itself into the blog way of doing things.

If you’re reading this via a newsreader, here are the new URL’s.

  • http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/?feed=rss2
  • http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/?feed=comments-rss2

Also new, and I hope you’ll all bear with me on this: I’m going to put a few ads in the sidebars, just to help pay the bills. Given the topic of conversation around here, I expect a lot of the ads will be for religious books and web sites, which isn’t entirely bad. I’m always looking for new topics to post. ;)

 
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CAMWatch: Why do people do bad things?

Anthony Horvath has an interesting post over at the Christian Apologetics Ministries blog. It’s particularly interesting in that it raises an issue you don’t ordinarily hear.

Christian religion says that people are by nature sinful and fallen. So it isn’t any surprise to Christians- or it shouldn’t be- when humans do bad things to other humans. We shouldn’t even be surprised when Christians are mean to other Christians…

But what explains that fact?  I have never heard of a genocide by the gorillas.   Have we found concentration camps erected by dogs?  …  No, raw brutality towards one’s own entire species seems to be a problem unique to the human race, with or without religion.

But can we generate an explanation for that fact without religion? …

The response of [Neibuhr and Chesterton] in the face of human nature’s apparent depravity was to identify it with a doctrine that was already known to them within the Christian community.  What is the atheist going to turn to?

So man’s inhumanity to man is supposed to pose a tough problem for atheists, not because it’s so difficult to stop, but because the atheist’s lack of belief in God means he can’t explain why man is sometimes cruel to man. In other words, if God did not exist, we would expect man to behave better.

That’s a refreshing change from the usual argument, isn’t it? Let’s see if we can’t explain human cruelty without recourse to superstitious ideas about God.

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Christianity is winning! — D’Souza

Phil Brennan, at the right-wing newsmax.com, gives us a glowing review (beware popups at newsmax!) of Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, an attempt to rebut the recent round of atheistic best-sellers.

There is no better way to inoculate a young man or woman against the virus of atheistic brainwashing epidemic on America’s campuses than Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, which carefully and calmly goes about the job of not only exposing the emptiness and lies of the atheistic materialism fervently embraced by a great number of academics, but also shows how effective Christianity has proven to be in combating its deleterious effects on our culture.

According to D’Souza atheism is losing and Christianity is winning. “God has come back to life,” he writes. “The world is witnessing a huge explosion of religious conversion and growth, and Christianity is growing faster than any other religion. Nietzsche’s proclamation ‘God is Dead’ is now proven false.”

Yup. He’s exactly right. And anyone who whines and moans about how Christians are poor, oppressed souls, and how Christianity is being “expelled” and banned from the public eye, is lying. Christianity is still the dominant force in our culture, and it got that way by inoculating young people’s minds before they could be exposed to viewpoints that would question their assumptions.

Thanks, Phil, and thanks Dinesh, for at least being honest about that part. (Maybe I’ll find a second-hand copy of that book to review someday…)

 
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Proverb for the day

Life is pretty hectic right now, so today’s blog post will be real short: a simple proverb.

He who praises his God, praises himself.

That one’s not in the Bible, by the way.

Maybe if I get time, I’ll post something longer about the truth behind the proverb.

 
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Mosey on over…

A new Skeptics Circle just rode into town over at Unscrewing the Inscrutable. Y’all oughta mosey on over there for a look-see, if’n you ain’t come here from thar in the fust place.

 
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More on natural moral law

[UPDATE: the post to which I was replying seems to have disappeared from the original blog it was posted to, so there's not much point in following the link below, I'm afraid.]

Samueljames seems to want to keep the discussion going on the subject of CS Lewis’s “Natural Law” argument. Unfortunately, he’s morphing it into a subjective philosophical exercise about what a good moral system should be, which strays quite a bit from Lewis’s point and my discussion of it.

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Wow

Just a few days ago I was telling some friends how pleased I was that my new blog had received 71 hits on a single post. Then the 68th Skeptics Circle came out, and somehow my entry made it onto reddit.com, and foom. Over 30,000 hits since yesterday. Evangelical Realism is currently, as of this post, #1 in Top Posts and Fastest Growing, and #3 in Top Blogs, according to my WordPress Dashboard. Apparently, my “How God Works” post even beat out “Porn Name All-Stars” and Edwards vs. Clinton.

Awesome.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and I hope you come back. Thanks especially to everyone who took the time to comment. I appreciate your remarks (even pujyboy’s), and look forward to hearing from more of you.

Cheers.

 
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