This page has moved to a new address.

Think Christianly

Think Christianly: October 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I am Pro-life: A Short, Nonsectarian Argument by Doug Groothuis

Here is a very helpful article by philosopher Doug Groothuis:

Abortion is the intentional killing of a human fetus by chemical and/or surgical means. It should not be confused with miscarriage (which involves no human intention) or contraception (which uses various technologies to prohibit sperm and egg from producing a fertilized ovum after sexual intercourse). Miscarriages are natural (if sad) occurrences, which raise no deep moral issues regarding human conduct—unless the woman was careless in her pregnancy. Contraception is officially opposed by Roman Catholics and some other Christians, but I take it to be in a moral category entirely separate from abortion (since it does not involve the killing of a fetus); therefore, it will not be addressed here.[1]

Rather than taking up the legal reasoning and history of abortion in America (especially concerning Roe vs. Wade), this essay makes a simple, straightforward moral argument against abortion. Sadly, real arguments (reasoned defenses of a thesis or claim) are too rarely made on this issue. Instead, propaganda is exchanged. Given that the Obama administration is the most pro-abortion administration in the history of the United States, some clear moral reasoning is called for at this time.

The first premise of the argument is that human beings have unique and incomparable value in the world. Christians and Jews believe this is the case because we are made in God’s image and likeness. But anyone who holds that humans are special and worthy of unique moral consideration can grant this thesis (even if their worldview does not ultimately support it). Of course, those like Peter Singer who do not grant humans any special status will not be moved by this.[2] We cannot help that. Many true and justified beliefs (concerning human beings and other matters) are denied by otherwise intelligent people.

Second, the burden of proof should always be on the one taking a human life and the benefit of doubt should always be given to the human life. This is not to say that human life should never be taken. In an often cruel and unfair world, sometimes life-taking is necessary, as many people will grant. Cases include self-defense, the prosecution of a just war, and capital punishment. Yet all unnecessary and intentional life-taking is murder, a deeply evil and repugnant offense against human beings. (This would also be acknowledged by those, such as absolute pacifists, who believe that it is never justifiable to take a human life.)

Third, abortion nearly always takes a human life intentionally and gratuitously and is, therefore, morally unjustified, deeply evil, and repugnant—given what we have said about human beings. The fetus is, without question, a human being. Biologically, an entity joins its parents’ species at conception. Like produces like: apes procreate apes, rabbits procreate rabbits, and humans procreate humans. If the fetus is not human, what else could it possibly be? Could it be an ape or a rabbit? Of course not.

Some philosophers, such as Mary Anne Warren, have tried to drive a wedge between personhood and humanity. That is, there may be persons who are not human (such as God, angels, ETs—if they exist), and there may be humans that are not persons (fetuses or those who lose certain functions after having possessed them). While it is true that there may be persons who are not humans, it does not logically follow that there are humans who are not persons. The fetus is best regarded as a person with potential, not a potential person or nonperson.[3]

When we separate personhood from humanity, we make personhood an achievement based on the possession of certain qualities. But what are these person-constituting qualities? Some say a basic level of consciousness; others assert viability outside the womb; still others say a sense of self-interest (which probably does not obtain until after birth). All of these criteria would take away humanity from those in comas or other physically compromised situations.[4] Humans can lose levels of consciousness through injuries, and even infants are not viable without intense and sustained human support. Moreover, who are we to say just what qualities make for membership in the moral community of persons?[5] The stakes are very high in this question. If we are wrong in our identification (Read the rest)

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the Please Convince Me Podcast

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jim over at the podcast on my book Welcome to College and equipping the next generation. Here is the link. If you have not checked out their ministry, it's really good stuff! Check it out.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is God Just a Human Invention?

A lot of people believe in God—like billions. Religion is all over the place and growing. So why are humans so religious? Well, there is no shortage of explanations for belief in God. Our intention in this article is to walk through some of the most common reasons skeptics think God is a human invention and see if they sufficiently show that belief in God has been rendered unreasonable, or if the reason that so many people believe in God is best explained by the fact that he actually does exist. First, however, we need to address a common misunderstanding about approaching the question of God.

Many times it is assumed that the one who believes in God—the theist—bears a special burden of proof when it comes to arguing for God's existence. In other words, in the absence of evidence for God's existence, one should presume that God doesn't exist; this is the famous "presumption of atheism." However, both "God does not exist" and "God exists" are claims to knowledge that are either true or false. Both viewpoints require justification or evidence. The New Atheists don't get a free pass; they must make the case for their worldview too. Yet all of the theories we will discuss in this chapter explicitly or implicitly draw on the presumption of atheism.

If there is a default position, then it is "I don't know if there is a God" (agnosticism), not "there is no God" (atheism).* So why don't we just retreat to the default position of not knowing? Knowledge, as the only firm foundation on which to build a life, is always preferable and should be pursued—especially on questions as important as this. Agnosticism can be a virtue for a season of exploration, because we definitely want to avoid being gullible. But as Yann Martel wrote in Life of Pi, "Doubt is useful for a while. . . . But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation." Moreover, with tongue in cheek, it has been observed that being an agnostic (Greek word) sounds much more sophisticated than being an ignoramus (Latin word), yet both mean not to know. Saying that one is an "ignoramus with respect to the question of God" just doesn't carry the same punch.

In The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud wrote that religious beliefs are "illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind. . . . As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection—for protection through love—which was provided by the father; and the recognition that this helplessness lasts throughout life made it necessary to cling to the existence of a father, but this time a more powerful one. Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the dangers of life." In short, we project the existence of God based on a human need for him. Is this hypothesis unanswerable as Hitchens claims in this chapter's epigraph? We think not for the following reasons.

First, it begs the question against God. Freud's argument is, essentially, since we know that God doesn't exist, what are psychological explanations of this belief? His argument assumes from the outset that no object of belief exists. This is the presumption of atheism that we discussed above. The New Atheists commonly approach the God question in the same way: "Since God doesn't exist—and we know this, along with every other sane person in the world—why do so many people still believe?"

We have evidence for God's existence (e.g., arguments from origins, design, morality, etc.) and know that God is far from dead in the academy (see chapter 1). In fact, many world-class philosophers and scientists are Christians and are publishing at the highest levels. Yet, as one looks through the bibliographies of the New Atheists, it quickly becomes obvious that they are not interacting with the most sophisticated defenders of Christianity.

Second, another assumption made by those who employ Freud's projection theory is that having beliefs that bring us comfort means that those beliefs are false. But this does not follow logically. Philosophers of religion Paul Copan and Paul Moser observe that "a belief that brings comfort and solace should not be considered necessarily false. We find comfort in human relationships, and this is perfectly normal, reasonable, and healthy, at least in routine cases. It would be implausible to presume that our finding comfort in something is automatically cognitively defective or otherwise wrong."

Third, part of the rhetorical force of Freud's projection theory cited by Hitchens is the perceived connection between God being an illusion and Freud's rigorous psychoanalysis. Actually, this connection is what's illusory. Emeritus professor of psychology at New York University and former atheist Paul Vitz writes, "Nowhere did Freud publish a psychoanalysis of the belief in God based on clinical evidence provided by a believing patient," and further that "Freud's general projection theory is an interpretation of religion that stands on its own, unsupported by psychoanalytic theory of clinical evidence."* In other words, there is no psychological basis for his conclusions because he never performed psychoanalysis on people who actually believed in God....

For the rest of this book excerpt and in a video interview with my coauthor Sean McDowell, see

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Great Need for Spiritual Transformation

“The greatest need you and I have – the greatest need of collective humanity – is renovation of our heart. That spiritual place within us from which outlook, choices and actions come has been formed by a world away from God. Now it must be transformed.” - Dallas Willard

If we want to be transformed, we must aim at the heart (Prov. 4:23). And to get at the heart, we begin with the mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

setting an example

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 tim. 4:12

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jonathan Morrow and Sean McDowell Interviewed on Point of View for Is God Just a Human Invention?

Yesterday Sean McDowell and I had the privilege of being on Point of View Radio with Kerby Anderson and Penna Dexter. Here is our interview (2 hours). The question of God is up for public debate...are you ready to engage?

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Miracle of the Origin of Life

Nicholas Wade, science writer for the New York Times, summarizes the current state of affairs regarding origins of life research:

“Everything about the origin of life on earth is a mystery, and it seems the more that is known, the more acute the puzzles get…The chemistry of the first life is a nightmare to explain. No one has yet devised a plausible explanation to show how the earliest chemicals of life -- thought to be RNA, or ribonucleic acid, a close relative of DNA -- might have constructed themselves from the inorganic chemicals likely to have been around on the early earth. The spontaneous assembly of small RNA molecules on the primitive earth ''would have been a near miracle,'' two experts in the subject helpfully declared last year.”

Lest you think this is an argument from ignorance, it is from what we do know about DNA and proteins and amino acids and the early earth's atmosphere. Chance or luck is out. And there is no self-organizing principle / law that made this "necessary" in any sense of the word.

Oxford Atheist Richard Dawkins on the Origin of Life (from Expelled):

Richard Dawkins: We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.
Ben Stein: And what was that?
Richard Dawkins: It was the origin of the first self replicating molecule.
Ben Stein: Right, and how did that happen?
Richard Dawkins: I've told you, we don't know.
Ben Stein: So you have no idea how it started.
Richard Dawkins: No, no. Nor has anyone.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Living as a citizen of the kingdom in the city of man

Politics. Few words are more controversial today. How should Christians, who seek to be thoroughly biblical, engage in the arena of politics? Great question. Here are three books to set you on your path and one just came out (City of Man by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner) with a foreword by Tim Keller.

These are challenging days. We need to think carefully and Christianly about how we engage in the public square.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Islamic Law in Action

An example of Islamic law in its non-politically correct expression (i.e., consistent with the authoritative sources of Islam) outside of the United States:
"The highest court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ruled that a man is allowed to beat his wife and children as long as he does not leave bruises or other marks, local newspaper The National reported Monday.

"Although the [law] permits the husband to use his right [to discipline], he has to abide by the limits of this right," wrote Chief Justice Falah al Hajeri in a ruling issued this month and released in a court document Sunday.

The limit, as the court defines it, is physical evidence of a beating that takes the accepted punishment to a more severe level. According to Islamic law, the man of the house is permitted to use physical discipline against his family if admonishing them and abstaining from sex with his wife do not work.

Judges were forced to clarify the legal boundaries of beating after a UAE man slapped and kicked his daughter and wife, leaving bruises and facial injuries on them.

Bruises and other physical marks were evidence, the court said, that the man had abused his right to discipline.

While many modern Islamic scholars and lawmakers denounce the practice of beating one’s family members, some maintain it is an appropriate response to a family problem: "If a wife committed something wrong, a husband can report her to police," Dr. Ahmed al Kubaisi, head of Sharia Studies at UAE and Baghdad Universities, said. "But sometimes she does not do a serious thing or he does not want to let others know, when it is not good for the family. In this case, hitting is a better option." (MORE)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jesus on the Bible

One of the biggest reasons you can trust the Bible is that Jesus did. He affirmed the writings of the OT (Matt 5:17-18; John 10:34-36; Luke 24:25-32) and promised what would become the NT (John 14:26; 16:12-14). And if Jesus is who he claimed to be and God did in fact raise him from the dead, then his testimony is powerful evidence that the Bible is truly God’s word to us (2 Tim 3:16-17 cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21). Trusting the Bible is not a blind leap of faith, it is an entirely reasonable thing to do.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Christianity, Yoga, and You

At think Christianly one of the main goals is to think biblically about all of life (Matt 22:37; Rom. 12:1-2: 2 Cor. 10:3-5). How should we evaluate an idea, movement, doctrine, practice, argument, etc?

So I naturally found it interesting when Al Mohler wrote an article on Christians and Yoga and then saw all the (many responses) responses from Christians he received. It was as if he kicked a hornets nest. (it even ended up on the front page of Yahoo). In our day and age of being spiritual but not religious (which translated just means I want to feel a certain way without having to bother with truth that could make me uncomfortable), we need to be discerning. In our pluralistic culture and with pop-new age all over the place, this is especially important. and of all people Christians should think twice about adopting stuff just because it may "work" without seriously investigating practices, diets, fads, etc. - you get the idea.

Here is his follow up post:

On Thursday, Dylan Lovan of the Associated Press titled his story, “Southern Baptist Leader on Yoga: Not Christianity.” Well here is the appropriate next headline: “Christian Concerns About Yoga: Not News.” You would think that Christians had never asked the question before. To Lovan’s credit, he framed his story on the controversy that followed my original article, published back on September 20, “The Subtle Body - Should Christians Practice Yoga?.”

Lovan documents the controversy and quotes me as saying: “I’m really surprised by the depth of the commitment to yoga found on the part of many who identify as Christians.” Well, double or triple that now.

Here are the lessons I have learned thus far from the controversy:

1. I have received hundreds of emails and comments against my article from those identifying as Christians. Not one–not a single one–has addressed the theological and biblical issues. There is not even a single protest communication offering a theological argument.

2. Evidently, the statistics reported by the yoga community are right. This is a female dominated field of activity. More than 90 percent of the protest communications come from women.

3. Sadly, almost every protest email makes my point better than I ever could myself. I have heard endless claims that there is no incompatibility between yoga and Christianity because it makes people feel better, it helps spirituality, it is a better way to know God, etc. There is no embarrassment on the part of these hundreds of email writers that they are replacing biblical Christianity with a religion of their own invention.

4. The kind of thinking represented by this avalanche of emails is perfectly illustrated by the comments of Stephanie Dillon, a local yoga instructor here in Louisville who attends the best-known church in our area:

Stephanie Dillon, who has injected Christian themes into her studio in Louisville, said yoga brought her closer to her Christian faith, which had faded after college and service in the Army.

“What I found is that it opened my spirit, it renewed my spirituality,” Dillon said. “That happened first and then I went back to church.” Dillon attends Southeast Christian Church in Louisville and says many evangelical Christians from the church attend her yoga classes.

She said she prayed on the question of whether to mix yoga and Christianity before opening her studio, PM Yoga, where she discusses her relationship with Jesus during classes.

“My objection (to Mohler’s view) personally is that I feel that yoga enhances a person’s spirituality,” Dillon said. “I don’t like to look at religion from a law standpoint but a relationship standpoint, a relationship with Jesus Christ specifically.”

Now, in fairness to Ms. Dillon, she might have said or have meant to say more than is reported here, but taking her comments at face value, we see Exhibit A of the problem. She comments that yoga “renewed my spirituality,” with no reference to anything remotely Christian and Gospel-centered about this renewal. She insists that yoga “enhances a person’s spirituality” without any recognition that this is not what biblical Christianity is all about. But, she prayed before deciding “to mix yoga and Christianity,” so everything must be just fine.

5. I have heard from a myriad of Christians who insist that their practice of yoga involves absolutely no meditation, no spiritual direction, no inward concentration, and no thought element. Well, if so, you are simply not practicing yoga. You may be twisting yourselves into pretzels or grasshoppers, but if there is no meditation or direction of consciousness, you are not practicing yoga, you are simply performing a physical exercise. Don’t call it yoga.

6. We are in worse shape than we thought. I have heard from a myriad of souls who have called me insane, incompetent, stupid, vile, fundamentalist, and perverted. Some others are best left unrepeated. These souls claim to be Christian, but offer no biblical argument nor do they even acknowledge the basic fact that yoga, as a spiritual practice, runs directly counter to the spiritual counsel of the Bible. Instead, I have been treated to arguments like these. From a “devoted Southern Baptist church member who resents your ignorance”: I get much more out of yoga and meditation than I ever get out of a sermon in church. From “a Christian who goes to church every service”: My favorite image I use in yoga is that of Jesus assuming a perfect yoga position in the garden of Gethsemane as he prays. And, to cap it all off: How do we know that the apostles and early Christian guys did not use yoga to commune with Jesus after he left? (MORE)

The point I want to highlight here is that people are responding out of emotion and not biblically. Yoga is clearly not biblical - stretching is neutral. Again, "I have heard from a myriad of Christians who insist that their practice of yoga involves absolutely no meditation, no spiritual direction, no inward concentration, and no thought element. Well, if so, you are simply not practicing yoga. You may be twisting yourselves into pretzels or grasshoppers, but if there is no meditation or direction of consciousness, you are not practicing yoga, you are simply performing a physical exercise. Don’t call it yoga." As more "alternative" practices are made available, Christians need to carefully evaluate them according to God's word.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, October 15, 2010

God and Evolution - Can you be a Darwinist and a theist?

Jay Richards has edited a new book exploring this important question. In other words, can a purposeful God use a purposeless process to create life? Check it out:

For more about the new book God & Evolution, visit here

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is belief in Christianity on par with believing in Leprechauns?

Evolutionary biologist and atheist Jerry Coyne thinks so. "In the end, science is no more compatible with religion than with other superstitions, such as leprechauns." He's not done. In his USA today op ed piece he goes on to say:

"Religion in America is on the defensive. Atheist books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith have, by exposing the dangers of faith and the lack of evidence for the God of Abraham, become best-sellers. Science nibbles at religion from the other end, relentlessly consuming divine explanations and replacing them with material ones. Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator. Science is even studying the origin of morality. So religious claims retreat into the ever-shrinking gaps not yet filled by science. And, although to be an atheist in America is still to be an outcast, America's fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief." (MORE)
And that is just the opening paragraph...there's more. You would be hard pressed to find an article that more clearly illustrates why Sean McDowell and I wrote - Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists. These issues and questions are not going away. And if you know a young person in high school or college, they are facing a steady diet of this kind of thinking these days. Are they ready? More often than not, they are not ready. Are you ready?

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Newsweek Redefines Masculiniity?

Recently Newsweek ran a cover story on the state of manhood today. Here is some commentary on that article by Al Mohler:

“We’ve arrived at another crossroads,” declares Newsweek — and this one represents a crisis for masculinity. As the magazine’s current cover story asserts, “The prevailing codes of manhood have yet to adjust to the changing demands on men.” With this cover story dedicated to “rethinking” masculinity, Newsweek launches itself into a very relevant cultural conversation.

“Man Up!” is the message the magazine conveys on its cover, though by the time a reader actually reads the article, he or she may be forgiven for having little idea of what this means. If, indeed, the traditional male is “an endangered species,” where does this leave men?

Writers Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil get right to the heart of that matter when they ask, “What’s the matter with men?” They point to the recent recession, which we now know has led to a significant and seemingly permanent change in the workforce — and largely at the expense of men. By some estimates, eight out of ten jobs lost in the recession were in sectors of the economy that are traditionally dominated by men, such as construction and manufacturing. In 1945, the male share of the labor force was 70 percent. Now it is less than 50 percent. In the nation’s largest cities, women often make more than men on average do. Women now outnumber men at virtually every level of higher education, starting with a six to four advantage in undergraduate registrations. The list goes on.

So, how do men recover? By reasserting masculinity? Here is a warning from Romano and Dokoupil:

But suggesting that men should stick to some musty script of masculinity only perpetuates the problem. For starters, it encourages them to confront new challenges the same way they dealt with earlier upheavals: by blaming women, retreating into the woods, or burying their anxieties beneath machismo. And it does nothing to help them succeed in school, secure sustainable jobs, or be better fathers in an economy that’s rapidly outgrowing Marlboro Manliness.

Well, men will certainly not recover a healthy manhood by aping crude stereotypes or cultural constructions of “Marlboro Manliness.” At the same time, the path to recovery doesn’t lie in denying the truth about gender differences or roles. (More)

This book by Stu Weber an excellent place to start:

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

But Who Made God?

While rhetorically powerful, this objection misses the point of the Cosmological argument. The claim is not that everything has a cause. Rather, everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe clearly began to exist, and so it needs a cause. On the other hand, God is the uncaused, self-existent, eternal cause of the universe.

• If matter began to exist at the moment of creation, then the matter’s cause must be nonphysical, or spiritual.
• Since space itself came into existence at the big bang, space’s cause must be spaceless.
• Since time began at the moment of the big bang, time’s cause must be timeless.
• Since change is a product of time, time’s cause must also be changeless.
• Given the immensity of energy and matter that comprises the universe, energy and matter’s cause must be unimaginably powerful.

It’s impossible to avoid positing an uncaused cause of the universe. Think about it. If God was caused by something else, then that thing would also need a cause, and we would have an infinite regress without a beginning. Yet if there was no beginning, then nothing could exist. The regression only stops with something that is self-existing. This thing cannot be physical because physical matter itself began to exist. A supernatural being is the best explanation of the first cause.

A cosmic beginning is a problem from the atheistic perspective, but it is right at home in the Judeo-Christian worldview. After all, the first line in the Bible, written thousands of years before the advent of modern cosmology, says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Book Unlike Any Other

"The Bible is not a book like any other. It makes a claim that God spoke and speaks through its message. It argues that as his creatures, we are accountable to him for what he has revealed. The trustworthiness of Scripture points to its authority as well. Scripture is far more than a history book, as good and trustworthy as that history is. It is a book that calls us to examine our lives and relationship to God. Beyond the fascinating history, it contains vital and life-transforming truths about God and us." - Darrell Bock

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five Arguments for God by William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig explores some of the evidence for God:

It’s perhaps something of a surprise that almost none of the so-called New Atheists has anything to say about arguments for God’s existence. Instead, they do tend to focus on the social effects of religion and question whether religious belief is good for society. One might justifiably doubt that the social impact of an idea for good or ill is an adequate measure of its truth, especially when there are reasons being offered to think that the idea in question really is true. Darwinism, for example, has certainly had at least some negative social influences, but that’s hardly grounds for thinking the theory to be false and simply ignoring the biological evidence in its favor.

Perhaps the New Atheists think that the traditional arguments for God’s existence are now passé and so no longer need refutation. If so, they are naïve. Over the last generation there has been a revival of interest among professional philosophers, whose business it is to think about difficult metaphysical questions, in arguments for the existence of God. This resurgence of interest has not escaped the notice of even popular culture. In 1980 Time ran a major story entitled “Modernizing the Case for God,” which described the movement among contemporary philosophers to refurbish the traditional arguments for God’s existence. Time marveled,

In a quiet revolution in thought and argument that hardly anybody could have foreseen only two decades ago, God is making a comeback. Most intriguingly, this is happening not among theologians or ordinary believers, but in the crisp intellectual circles of academic philosophers, where the consensus had long banished the Almighty from fruitful discourse.2

According to the article, the noted American philosopher Roderick Chisholm opined that the reason atheism was so influential in the previous generation is that the brightest philosophers were atheists; but today, he observes, many of the brightest philosophers are theists, using a tough-minded intellectualism in defense of that belief.

The New Atheists are blissfully ignorant of this ongoing revolution in Anglo-American philosophy.3They are generally out of touch with cutting-edge work in this field. About the only New Atheist to interact with arguments for God’s existence is Richard Dawkins. In his book The God Delusion, which has become an international best-seller, Dawkins examines and offers refutations of many of the most important arguments for God.4 He deserves credit for taking the arguments seriously. But are his refutations cogent? Has Dawkins dealt a fatal blow to the arguments?

Well, let’s look at some of those arguments and see. But before we do, let’s get clear what makes for a “good” argument. An argument is a series of statements (called premises) leading to a conclusion. A sound argument must meet two conditions: (1) it is logically valid (i.e., its conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic), and (2) its premises are true. If an argument is sound, then the truth of the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. But to be a good argument, it’s not enough that an argument be sound. We also need to have some reason to think that the premises are true. A logically valid argument that has, wholly unbeknownst to us, true premises isn’t a good argument for the conclusion. The premises have to have some degree of justification or warrant for us in order for a sound argument to be a good one. But how much warrant? The premises surely don’t need to be known to be true with certainty (we know almost nothing to be true with certainty!). Perhaps we should say that for an argument to be a good one the premises need to be probably true in light of the evidence. I think that’s fair, though sometimes probabilities are difficult to quantify. Another way of putting this is that a good argument is a sound argument in which the premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their opposites. You should compare the premise and its negation and believe whichever one is more plausibly true in light of the evidence. A good argument will be a sound argument whose premises are more plausible than their negations.

Given that definition, the question is this: Are there good arguments for God’s existence? (MORE


Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Resisting Secularism...Saving Leonardo

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Christians in Context reviews our new book

Friday, October 1, 2010

Science Reporters Should Quit Crying "Life!"

Jay Richards has a post on the new planet discovered that might be life permitting...

Unfortunately, we've seen hundreds of reports like this, so I now read them with a bit of skepticism. For the last fifteen years, we've been hearing about supposedly Earth-like planets around other stars. The headline is so common that even Borenstein, in an otherwise breathless articles, admits: "Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life."

The planet in question is tidally locked, so the same face perpetually faces its star. So it won't have a pleasing climate. It's about three times more massive than Earth, and it's quite close to its star, which is an M dwarf. Such stars are probably not good hosts for habitable planets due to their high activity levels.

Whenever you read a story like this (and there will be many more in the next few years), it's important to remember two things. First, Venus and Mars are much more Earth-like that this or any other extrasolar planet we've yet been able to detect. For instance, they're around a star known to host a habitable planet, and they're both quite close in orbit to that habitable planet. And yet, neither is home to life of any sort.

Labels: , , , , , ,