HYPER….What?

18382152_423792921319228_2911289585264754688_nBy David Russell

The new buzz that has been gaining much attention on the internet lately is Hyperianism.  I first noticed it about a month ago and saw the attention it was getting, I decided to investigate.  Founded or represented, because it doesn’t really tell you, by a guy named Morgue.  Morgue is a performer of wild tricks like swallowing swords or a huge metal ball without choking to death on it.  He also runs hooks through his nose and out his mouth, in which I got to say, Ouch!  Though a talented performer in his field, he then takes himself out of that field to make wildly outlandish videos.

Backed by a worldview called Hyperianism, Morgue takes to the Internet, blasting religion, telling us we are brainwashed, and promoting his new religion.  He claims he is taking humanity to the next level, whatever that really is?  But at the end of the day its just the same old self worshiping, postmodernist, new age jargon we’ve all heard before.

Welcome back to the Union blog! We are in the process of wrapping up our series on apologetic arguments for the existence of God.  But before we do, I felt, I had to speak on this.  I rarely write about these things but I felt that this was needed.  Lewis told us to answer bad philosophy with good philosophy, so that is what I am going to do.  We will examine Hyperianism and write a refutation to this entire worldview.  So buckle up, your in for a ride!

Human or Hyperian, that is the question?  Hyperianism claims to be “Not a belief system, a knowledge system”.  To be a member, you must reject all mainstream western religions, embrace your shadow, and sign a pledge.  For that you get access to the secret library, if your awake,  and hidden videos.  You get to learn about mental sex and all the other big questions of life.  The first question Hyperianism tries to answer is, Why are you alive?  It sets up a presupposition that all we do is live in a static pattern or that we live in some unsatisfying way and are born into a slave system.  We have no Will of our own and that a certain cast of people put this in place to blind us from the truth of reality. Whatever that actually means?  It then offers its answer, just like most other faith based worldviews, it offers you hope, by shattering the illusion of this presupposed reality.  That it is the only one that has this understanding and with it, can help you maximize your power, understand your purpose, and transform the universe.

This is where my first contention lies.  Hyperianism does the same thing all other belief systems do.  By claiming that we live in this static pattern of routine or an unsatisfied hamster wheel, it derives a truth claim about reality.  But how could Morgue possibly know this, has he interviewed every person?  I know some people that have incredibly fulfilling lives and live in a state of perpetual joy. So my contention comes in the way of belief.  The contradiction lies in the belief that there is something wrong with the world.  That a slave system is better than a free system.  That a mundane existence is not how we ought to live.  Morgue has to believe these things to be actually true in order for his worldview to get off the ground and to believe it makes his system a system of belief.   Now, this is also where we have some agreement.  I disagree with Morgues approach and his conclusions, but I do agree that there is something wrong with the world. Which leads to my second contention.

Hyperianism claims to reject traditional morality but is opened to a evolving morality.  Rejecting the notion of good and evil, right and wrong.   Doing this though makes Hyperianism a relativistic system.  Relativism in itself is self contradictory.  It has no ground to stand on.  If right and wrong do not exist, how can Morgue say that mainstream religion is part of the problem? What problem? Problems are inherent to something actually being wrong. If he is imposing ethical relativism then he runs into the problem of saying that slavery in America 200 years ago, because it was ethically accepted, was okay.  Now, since morality evolves, it is not okay.  If it is acceptable again in 200 years, will it be okay?  Does truth contradict itself?  There is another problem with ethical relativism pointed out by Matt Slick, he says,

“Within ethical relativism, right and wrong are not absolute and must be determined in society by a combination of observation, logic, social preferences and patterns, experience, emotions, and “rules” that seem to bring the most benefit.  Of course, it goes without saying that a society involved in constant moral conflict would not be able to survive for very long.  Morality is the glue that holds a society together.  There must be a consensus of right and wrong for a society to function well.  Ethical relativism undermines that glue.”

Rejecting some of the universal truths objective morality brings, plunges society in even more of a conundrum that retreats from the line of logic and into the abyss of irrational decay.  Theism offers such a better view.  We claim that there is an objective standard of good and that this standard leads to discovering values that require of us certain duties to enact toward one another.  All this on the basis of being human.  For many years this was what was called Natural Law.  It is self-evident and many of these laws you’ll find in every society today.  Even Hyperianism can’t stray from these values in which it promotes.  Ones like equality and freedom.  For all the religious bashing Hyperianism does, it also does well in stealing its values from the Judeo-Christian value system.  This leads to my third contention, rejection of mainstream religion.

Hyperianism rejects mainstream religion and falls into the same trap as all other anti-religious pundits.  Instead of judging a religion on its abuses, Hyperianism should do the logical thing and judge it on its merits.  But the hyperian gets cought begging the question frequently when they assess Christian belief. For example, saying Christianity is oppressive toward women, because you read a verse you think you understood, couldn’t be further from the truth.  Christianity gave woman stature and equality with men. Christianity has long held the notion of freedom, equality, mercy, courage, justice, love for one another, grace, and knowledge.  It has inspired documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  It inspired Wilberforce to fight and end the Dutch slave trade.  Why? Because Christianity believes that we are all made in the image of God and, because of that, we have intrinsic value given to us by the One who is ultimate value itself.  But again, none of  this matters.  Why? Because all reality is an illusion to the Hyperian.  Unless its mathematical reality…..?

This brings me to my last real contention.  Besides the logical fallacies we’ve already gone over, this is the worst.  To claim that reality is an illusion, makes the Hyperian belief system illusory.  The Hyperian claims you can’t trust your senses because they have evolved to survive and deceive you.  But, if I cannot trust my senses how can anyone trust that Hyperianism is the truth.  You need your senses to observe that what you claim is true.  Its like needing the self to tell the self that there is no self.  It’s incoherent jargon.  Then it goes further.  Claiming that Mathematics is alive, we are mathematical beings.  I am no mathematical philosopher but I do know that whether your a realist or an anti-realist, both claim that mathematics is causally inert.  Even more so, Mathematics can’t be the ontic referent.  Hyperians don’t claim anything about the beginning of the universe, but everything I gather suggest they believe it is eternal.  But the universe can’t be eternal. Logic dictates there can be no such thing as an infinite regress.  All evidence and reason point to a COSMIC BEGINNING.  Mathematics can only exist within the universe, and many say it’s a human invention or a useful fiction.  But this idea has been debated for years, never proven.  Morgue never mentions the limitations of Mathematics and its bearing on the physical world or its failures in predictions. He assumes everything he is preaching, which speak volumes about his faith in mathematics.  I kind of take the anti-realist view on this, but defer to the ancient philosopher Philo’s position, he maintained, as William Lane Craig points out, “That God created the physical world on the mental model in His mind.”  That’s the reason math can be done.

Mathematics, because I am more of an anti-realist (meaning mathematical objects don’t exist in the ether), is at the end of the day, information.  Information always implies intelligence. If there is no universe, then there is no math.  But because there is a universe there is a blueprint, an expression of the grand architect.  Also, because it is causally inert, it cannot provide meaning, eternal destiny, or purpose. Theism has way more explanatory power when solving the big questions.  Origin, purpose, morality, and destiny can all be answered coherently by the Christian faith.  It answers the reason for the structure we find in nature.  It answers what is wrong with the world.  It gives us a better hope than any other worldview available.  And at last, it has the evidence to back it all up without pointing to secret libraries or videos.

In conclusion, Hyperianism is another faith, taking on more of a cultist/occultist type of behavior and view.  It is not a knowledge based system but, as I have demonstrated, a belief system that contradicts itself over and over again unto incoherence. Says much for a system that claims to be of logic and reason.  At the end of the day, to answer the question, Hyperian or Human?  I would stick with human all day long.  Don’t drink the Kool-aid folks.

 

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Reliable?

imagesBy David Russell

 

“I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends.” -C.S. Lewis

Almost every objection I deal with comes down to this.  Is the bible reliable?  Besides the common objections and errors due to lack of reading the bible correctly, I deal with defending the historicity and authenticity of the bible.  Welcome back to the blog.  In this article I will deal with common objections to the bible.  I will also give the argument on why I think the bible is reliable and that God is the best explanation for the resurrection of Jesus.  As we have made the case for the existence of God, we will now narrow the scope to the Christian God.  This argument held the most weight for me in my quest.  I hope it does the same for you.

It was a cold day in October.  I was walking home from elementary school.  I was in second grade and my teachers name was Mrs. Legget.  As I made my journey home, I began to hear the typical teasing I got from a boy named John.  He would ridicule me on any number of issues, but on this special day he got close enough that when I turned, I grabbed his hair and flung him around.  Now, the joke was on him.  Needless to say he was embarrassed.  As I moved on, all I could think about is the trouble I could get into from the school, and after, Momma!  As I continued, I suddenly felt a hard shove to my back and soon realized I was looking up from a puddle of mud.  John had recovered and I had turned around to quickly.  After that day, me and John became best friends in the second grade. This happened twenty eight years ago, as I write this, my memory of that event are as clear as if it just happened.  One objection I often get is the “telephone game” objection.  That the bible isn’t authentic because it was written down to late for it to be credible. That what we have now is a case of passed down legend, the truth has been lost etc.  But is this true?

I usually answer this question with a question.  So, your familiar with the translation process? This usually opens up the conversation and we hit specifics.  Ninety nine percent, just got the info from a meme on the internet.  But the truth of the matter is, we have copies (Gospel of Mark) circulating in the first century.  This means, it was written during the life of those that could verify its authenticity.  Many historians place the completion of the entire New Testament before 70 AD.  To dampen the skeptics claim further, we have the early creed tradition expressed in 1st Corinthians 15:3-5 in which most historians place around 33 CE.  Even Atheist historians agree:

“Gerd Lüdemann (Atheist NT professor at Göttingen): “…the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus…not later than three years… the formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in I Cor.15.3-8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 CE.” [The Resurrection of Jesus, trans. by Bowden (Fortress, 1994), 171-72.]”

This evidence alone suggests no time for legendary corruption or a simple game of telephone.  Moving on, I constantly hear the New Testament authors where just making it up.  That they where biased.  To the first statement, it is a fact that people don’t die for what they “know” to be a lie.  They will die for what they believe, even if a lie, but not in what they know to be a lie.  The early Christians had everything to lose and nothing to gain by spreading this known lie.  I often ask those who claim bias this, “And that matters why?”  Just because someone has a bias doesn’t mean they are wrong.  Maybe their bias gave us a more detailed account.  Not to mention, they converted.  I also have a hard time casting the earliest source documents out, that’s doing bad history.  Like me describing my first fight at school, I remember, in detail that day and what transpired.  This also goes far in disproving the telephone game objection.  Big events that take place in your life, like seeing somebody you love coming back from the dead, will burn itself into your memory.  I have known many people that knew exactly where they where when the twin towers fell on 9-11.  Some describe the entire mood, emotion, and even what they were smelling the moment the first tower fell.

Another objection I often get is, “what about all the errors?”  This is another misunderstanding, by errors, we mean that there contains simple grammatical errors, punctuation, things like that.  Nothing changes the context or any doctrinal truth.  Upon reflection, there is a simple way one can study whether or not the bible is reliable. I have covered mainly the New Testament here and will continue, but it applies for the rest of the bible.

First, Manuscript evidence.  We covered this briefly above.  Dan Wallace calls what we have historically, from the New Testament alone, “An embarrassment of riches”.    Meaning, what we have of other historical ancient writings, the bible, has an embarrassing amount more. Kind of silly to think,  that those claiming the bible to be untrue, don’t realize that it is supported by more manuscript data than those they accept with no problem or take as absolute.  But to compare, we can just take a look, Pliny wrote from 61-113 CE, the earliest copy we have comes from around 850 CE.  This is a span of 750 years from the original, and all we have is about two hundred copies according to updated sources*.  Take Caesar, written 100-44 BCE. with the earliest copy dated at 900 CE.  That span is 1000 years from origin with about 251 copies. Most copies are way later than the earliest copy as well.  Homer, 900 BCE. earliest copy 400 BCE.  Spanning 500 years from the original writing with 643-1,800 copies.  The New Testament, written first century 50-100 CE.  earliest copy from 70 CE., less than 100 years, with 5,838 Greek manuscripts, 18,524 early New Testament translations, and 42,000 Old Testament scrolls and codices.  This combined manuscript evidence for the bible is 66,362.  WOW!

With the Manuscript evidence overwhelming, it’s hard to add that we have extra biblical sources confirming the scriptures, in that piecing every early church father quotation we can construct New Testament belief.  Then we have plenty of Roman sources that confirm Jesus existence as well as Jewish ones.  But lets move on to archaeology.   One of my favorite conversion stories is that of archaeologist, Sir William Ramsay, who set out to debunk the books of Luke, (Luke and Acts).  He converted after confirming over and over again, the statements of Luke which has over 84 evidences, alone, in the second half of his writings (Acts). This lead Ramsay to conclude,  “(There are) reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank”   This is only two books.

If the Archaeological evidence doesn’t do, then continue to some of the predictive prophecies, regarding Christ, made in the Old Testament.  His Abrahamic lineage, (Genesis 12:3 and 17:19),  Birth in Bethlehem, (Mich 5:2), Crucifixion next to criminals, (Isa 53:12),  the piercing on the cross, (Psalms 22:16) and the list goes on and on.

Finally there is the statistical probability of it all, Hank Hanegraaff sums it up well, “The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years by forty different human authors in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), on hundreds of subjects. And yet there is one consistent, noncontradictory theme that runs through it all: God’s redemption of humankind. Clearly, Statistical probability is a powerful indicator of the trustworthiness of Scripture.”

So if the Bible is reliable, and we have only scratched the surface, we are faced with the ultimate question.  Who is Jesus and did he rise from the dead?  Most all historical New Testament scholarship agrees with the minimum facts, an approach made famous by Gary Habermas.  “1) that Jesus died by crucifixion; 2) that very soon afterwards, his followers had real experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus; 3) that their lives were transformed as a result, even to the point of being willing to die specifically for their faith in the resurrection message; 4) that these things were taught very early, soon after the crucifixion; 5) that James, Jesus’ unbelieving brother, became a Christian due to his own experience that he thought was the resurrected Christ; and 6) that the Christian persecutor Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) also became a believer after a similar experience. ”  That is one big cumulative case, considering the bible is reliable, there is this approach dealing just with the resurrection.  We all have to do something when it comes to Jesus. The question is, What are you going to do?

 

For a look at updated sources:  (https://www.josh.org/wp-content/uploads/Bibliographical-Test-Update-08.13.14.pdf)

Its all good, or is it?

2013web_moral-compass-finding-true-north_1920x1080By David Russell

“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”~ Chesterton

Over the last number of weeks we have been reviewing apologetic arguments for the existence of God.  In the last article, we discovered that there is a central theme to these arguments centralized around, origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. These arguments are some of the reasons I am a Christian.  In this article we are going to cover the “Moral Argument” for the existence of God. We will answer the question, “Is it all good?”, but more importantly, we will discuss whether good exists at all.

We have all been inundated by the media with stories about various political scandals, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and social injustices.  We often sit glued to the latest demonstration, where those crying out against injustice are committing injustice on their neighbors by vandalizing their personal property or assaulting those they disagree with.  We have all felt the pain of someone wronging us, or felt the hurt of betrayal.  In our day and age we have the ability to see true evil funnel itself across the air waves.

As of now, we see a society in a massive amount of turmoil.  But is it? Or, is it all good?  How can any of us know?  We all have a standard by which we measure these things, but the issue isn’t the way in which we measure, its the fact there is a ruler. C.S. Lewis describes it like this:

“The standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others”.

We all have this Moral intuition, or sense, built into us. Through out history we have called it Natural Law.  For most, it’s self evident, but if you come at it from a non-theistic worldview, you’ll find your feet planted in mid air.  This is not to say a non-theist can’t live a life of moral virtue.  It is simply stating they have no justification, objectively, for it.  For the atheist, morality, is merely subjective, a random opinion.  Like cookies, pick and choose the one you like, until you take their cookie.  Objective morality, is illusory to them.  It may have an impact on them, but at the end of the day, as Dawkins observes, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference”.  If not Illusory, then it is based on human flourishing.  It blows my mind that they still insert an objective good in the assumption that human flourishing, is, in fact an objective good.

The very idea that we are wired with this moral intuition is very telling.  The Christian worldview is the only worldview, that I have heard, to answer this adequately.  Christianity tells us that God writes it on our hearts.  That Gods nature is the highest standard of good, and from that, he commands, constituting our moral duties.  Again, the non-theist doesn’t believe they exist, the pantheist agrees that they are illusory, everyone experiences it, but only one justifies it.

If you doubt this, just ask yourself, “Is cruelty on the same level as non-cruelty”? “Is it truly evil to commit mass murder upon, an otherwise, innocent population”? “Is it okay to rape”?   “Was the holocaust truly evil, or was it not evil at all”? All you need is one objective value for theism to be true.  If you are an atheist your stuck with the admission that it is just mere opinion.  No good or bad,  pertaining to the questions above.  Something inside me cringes at that thought.  It is self evident that these are true evils.  This is where the culture really comes in.  In my experience, most people will tell me that morality is subjective.  The issue is, they never live up to it.  The moment they see something like the recent Vegas shooting, they condemn it.  They respond to police brutality, thinking they have “actual rights”.  But if objective morality doesn’t exist, then there are no natural rights, just social contract and mere opinion. Is that enough? No, because no one persons opinion is more valid then the other.  The non-theist can be outraged, yet can’t really condemn someone for doing something they think is wrong, they have no point of reference to say it is wrong.  It’s a very inconsistent view of reality.  We call it relativism and nihilism, as I explained in a previous article.  Relativism is summed up as reality subjective in nature, while nihilism is summed up as no morality, all goes.

C.S. Lewis says something that sticks with me everyday, he said, “One can regard the moral law as an illusion, and so cut himself off from the common ground of humanity” .  Without objective morality we have no north star to guide us and hold us accountable to one another, the beauty of love becomes a cheap trick of the mind, virtue is the same as as vice, and value is rendered void.

I could go on, but I want to bring this to a close.  I think God best explains why there is a moral realm.  Why there is objective morality that we all confront and face daily in our experiences.  There is an “ought” to the “is” as we look at what we should do and how we should treat one another.  God’s nature provides the objective referent point for moral value, without it we couldn’t possibly know that anything is good or evil.  So with that, here is a little argument so famously argued by William Lane Craig.

1. If God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

3. Therefore God exists.

 

A Culture UNAWARE!

unawareBy David Russell

Welcome back to the “Virginia Apologetics Union” blog.  In this addition, I will be talking about the divide I see around the country.  It’s time to talk about what we can do as disciples of the living God. We live in a chaotic time. We have political turmoil like I haven’t experienced in my lifetime. We have new age philosophies running around the track of contradiction. We have nations threatening nuclear war, and a bunch of people protesting a flag by kneeling at a sports venue. We also have, people protesting the protesters, liking their free speech but intolerant of others, the list goes on and on.

What do we do? What is the Christian response?  How does the apologist engage?  The first thing we have to do is not get caught on one side!  With this I mean, we can’t allow our disagreement or our political bias to cloud us from the great commission.  I can disagree with those that kneel to the anthem,  I can’t condemn them.  I can stand up for any position I want and vote my conscious and try to affect change!  What I can’t do, is alienate and isolate those with whom I am trying to spread the good news. I think there is a Christian response to all of this.  I think the time is right with a fruit so ripe that we can jump in the fault line that divides and change the world! How? Is it impossible? No.  It was done a little over two thousand years ago.  Will it require a personal cost? You bet!  The answer resides in the ultimate truth, a life changing truth.

People have been railing over these issues for centuries! There is always an injustice to overcome, an appeal to theological and philosophical absurdities, a desire to be free without the constraints that grant them.  All this to say, the only fight we are actually having is the one addressing who we really are, why we are here, entailing meaning, where is it leading, and what is good and right.

The first among these struggles is the struggle of who we are.  We see this abroad, in a large spectrum, of individuality.  It is in every home and on every street corner. People may mar their bodies or litter them with art in the great quest to express who they think they are.  They seek careers that they think best define them.  They invent terms like, “I need to find myself” or “I am a…..”.  The truth is, there is nothing new under the sun.  Someone else has the same art tattooed on them as you, they end up fading.  One day the muscles sag, the career ends, and you wake up to find you’ve always been stuck with yourself, and the times you questioned it, were just because you didn’t like the choices you made or the outcome thereof.  But still you’re left with a question.  Who am I?  We live in a culture unaware of who they really are.  Where does one go to find the truth?  I have always believed truth is what best conforms to reality.

There is such a thing as truth and truth can be known.  In my personal journey, I have found that there are four major questions we all face. These questions are centralized around the concepts of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. I won’t list the exact questions for purposes of keeping things brief but I have found that Christianity best describes this reality and its counters do not.  It answers theses questions and so much more. It also answers questions like “what is wrong with this world?” From this basis we have options when it comes to these worldviews. Naturalism and atheism along with other non theistic worldviews say we are just molecules in motion.  The other theistic beliefs offer worldviews not much better. For instance, Buddhism claims that the “self” is an illusion, that ultimate meaning lies in the tranquility of nirvana or nothingness. Yet, for the Buddhist, he needs the self to be able to deny the self or meaning in which nothingness can’t possibly provide. How can nothing be the ultimate meaning?  Take the naturalist that has to rely on theism to proclaim that there is a such thing as social injustice yet claims there is no such thing as objective morality. Can’t have an objective moral law without a moral law giver.

Can we truly say with a clear mind and conscience that these inconsistent world views are correct? Is there something more to the grand jigsaw puzzle of life? We know this intuitively. We live lives of purpose and meaning everyday. We get up and go to work. We set goals. We try to better ourselves. We naturally fight for our intuitive rights. The ones that are self evident.  Why?

Because we know deep down there is a right and wrong, a good and evil. The problem is we have a culture that is unaware of the truth.  We have allowed bad philosophy and bad theology, centered in sensationalism and emotion, to dominate our culture and the churches. We have isolated ourselves  and allowed many to fall on bad ground. But in this culture that is unaware we can make a difference.

How?  By way of example, let me give you a story. I was at work listening to my coworker born and in raised in another culture. We couldn’t be more different. His childhood was shadowed by the notion that he could be killed and dumped somewhere and no justice would be done. Through the talk though we found a common thread. No matter what our experience was, or how different, there was common ground. An appeal to that image placed deep down inside, that notion that there is something that has been placed inside and written on our hearts. That piece, as American founders  claimed, was placed there by natures God.  Who better to describe this than Jesus Christ. You’ll only find this same appeal in the Christian worldview.

Man was made for purpose, endowed by our creator with intrinsic value. The reason we know the “is” from the “ought.” We are made in his image. But we must be able to make sense of this. Our misuse and misunderstanding of freedom has caused us to fall so hard it’s no wonder the culture doesn’t know where things come from or why injustice is so vial.

The reason, Christ describes it best.  “Matthew 22:17-22

Tell us, therefore, what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But perceiving their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing Me, hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought Him a denarius. “Whose image and inscription is this?” He asked them.

“Caesar’s,” they said to Him.

Then He said to them, “Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left Him and went away.”

The follow up is left to the imagination. The follow up, “because his image is on you, what things are you to give over to God?”   Yes, the culture is unaware, the church hasn’t given themselves completely to God.  But now that we know how to effect change, are we willing to give God the things that are God’s. Remember, Jesus knew that his kingdom would come and be established forever, not by conquest and the failed ways of man but by appealing to that part of us that was made in his Image, that with his grace and mercy would change the human heart and usher in an era of mercy and love. Mending the relational tear and gluing the broken heart of all people. So whether you take a knee or stand, protest or counter protest, remember only the Christian worldview provides the justification. Those who are unaware can be made aware if we are willing to give to God what is his and do what he asks in his commission. Let’s mend this divide, let’s change the culture and the world forever.

JUST CHANCE?

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By David Russell,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalms 19:1-2)

Continuing in our quest, we arrive at another good reason to believe the truth of Christianity. Now, we aren’t quite there in proving Christianity however, we are well into proving the existence of God.  “JUST CHANCE” is my thoughts on the teleological argument and asking, if it could all be “just chance”?  It is a very powerful argument and often gives even the most adamant atheist pause.  Christopher Hitchens was one, he said,

“Yeah. The fine-tuning, that one degree, well, one degree, one hair different of nothing—that even though it doesn’t prove design, doesn’t prove a Designer, [the fine-tuning] could have all happened without [God]— You have to spend time thinking about it, working on it. It’s not a trivial [argument]. We all say that.”

In my experience, I haven’t dealt with anyone who flat out rejects this.  They have made arguments against it but, at the end of the day, they chalk it up to chance and natural selection.  In the work place, most people I have come across have some notion of this argument but its blended with their own worldview and incomplete.  My hope, in this article, is to show that chance and natural selection don’t have a chance.  That this argument sheds an abundant light on the improbabilities of chance and shines forth a radiance of purposeful design.

Last month we talked about the common sense of theistic belief behind the universe in its beginning, this month we will discover the signature left within the universe and biological life.  This argument has two legs.  The first leg is the Teleological Argument from fine tuning of the universe.   This is simply summed up as, the existence of intelligent life depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the Big Bang.  Reasons for these conditions can be argued in three distinct ways, chance, necessity, or design.

Before I can elaborate on the arguments, let me first discuss the initial conditions to which I refer.  Admittedly, I won’t be able to discuss all of them in this article, but I can give a few examples. When discussing Initial conditions we have to start with discussing the constants. The constants are not determined by the laws of nature, the laws of nature are consistent with a wide range of values for them.  These constants form when the laws of nature are broken down into mathematical equations, they are, Gravitational force constant, Electromagnetic force constant, the Strong and Weak nuclear force constant, and the Cosmological constant. To demonstrate we will take the cosmological constant.

This constant controls the expansion speed of the universe, which states that the attractive force of gravity and the repulsive force of space must be perfectly balanced.  If they are off a hair in the positive or the negative by 1 in a number I can’t fathom, then space would fly apart or completely collapse, not to mention the ratios of the other constants must be fined-tuned relative to one another.  In addition to that, there are the Initial boundary conditions that exist independent of the constants, that is to say, present at the beginning of the universe.  These initial boundary conditions, or arbitrary quantities are put in as conditions in which the laws of nature operate, they are, Initial distribution of mass energy, Ratio of masses for protons and electrons, Velocity of light, and Mass excess of neutron over proton. Like the constants, if the quantities are off by even a teeny tiny bit, life doesn’t exist.

With that said, we then find that local planetary conditions must then be met for any intelligent life to exist, and the list just keeps going.  This delicate balance is stated by some to be like multiplying improbabilities over and over again until you reach incomprehensible numbers.  Theoretical Physicist Paul Davies quotes,  “There is, for me, powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all….It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe….The impression of design is overwhelming”.     

Astronomer Alan Sandage says, “We can’t understand the universe in any clear way without the supernatural”.

So, is it supernatural or just chance?  We can rule out necessity because the constants and quantities are independent to the laws of nature.  We are only really left with chance or design.  But if we invoke chance we have to live with the improbabilities of chance.  to break it down, its like winning the power ball over and over and over again or throwing a dart from space to earth and hitting a bulls-eye no larger than an atom.  I am sorry, I don’t have that much faith.

To make this short, we move to the second leg of this argument. Which are signs of design within biological life.  Along those lines we see incredible complexity within the cell.  It seems our own biology is teemed with intelligence.  We have recently found that DNA has sequenced genetic instruction locked in the nucleus that provides instructions necessary to assemble complex protein molecules, which then form structures. Called the language of life,  to believe that this comes by natural selection and random mutation would be like believing that an explosion in a printing press produces an encyclopedia. Again, I just don’t have that much faith in the odds that it was natural selection.

In conclusion, I am left with intelligence.  Anytime I see that much information or signs of a signature, its natural that I conclude an intelligence.  I personally think that the signature left behind and within is God and not just chance.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the rest of apologetic’s awareness week!’

 

 

What about?

imagesBy David Russell

This week I am taking a break from the normal format.  I know we started a journey but I want to address everyday issues.  I will do this periodically because I think its good to get down to the level of our culture.  In this article, I will be addressing some questions I get often and how to engage and answer it.

The hardest situation I face in Virginia, especially Northern Virginia, is plugging in to the fast paced demographic.  Building relationships in a system that is in constant flux is very tough to do.  Yet our calling isn’t limited to the easy going areas, where calm and quiet rule the day.  People have very little time to stop and consider big issues, they pick up things here and there but never have the time to really chew on it.  This type of culture, is truly susceptible to false teaching and highly likely  to remain scripturally illiterate.

This doesn’t just effect the seeker or the skeptic, it effects the apologist as well.  Sometimes we forget to engage and move on to different areas forgetting that others have not caught up.  We will study issues that go beyond where the majority of people have planted their flag.  In this article, I want to address some of these issues, remind my fellow apologist to remember the simplistic arguments we have dealt with ages ago.  “What about” is the beginning of many questions I get.  I am going to share with you how I deal with these objections and how we can better remember to keep it simple while still continuing on in what we are studying abroad.

The best way, I have found, to stay relevant to those we are trying to reach is to build relationships.  This doesn’t always happen and I am, by no means, condemning street evangelism. I live about one hour and thirty minutes from the nations capital.  The entire area is a haven of, what I like to call, fast living.  Constantly,  we get and we go.  It feels as if there is no time to even breathe.  It is even harder to build good relationships.  However, the greatest area is, often times, where you work.  We are supposed to avoid these topics at work, but I have always thought Christianity, isn’t Christianity, unless its evangelized.  It is not a “stay at home faith”.  Now, I am not telling anyone to break job rules, just be tactful.  Most places allow that.

The first thing I do in beginning to build relationships.  Depending on the situation, I usually begin by really taking an interest in what others are into.  Where they are from, how they think.  I have often benefited by doing this.  It is a constant wheel in a learning process.  Not only am I learning, but I am gaining a new relationship with another unique individual, made in the image of God.  I will usually ask many questions to learn and build that relationship.

Once that is established, the deeper issues usually flow out.  This will often help you know and discern which tactics to use and when the opportunity is right to share or challenge another with the Gospel.  We also have to remember that we are dealing with real people.  Not just arguments, these are real issues that have real life and eternal consequences.  You can damage relationships by treating people as if they don’t matter.  Remember, knowledge can puff up.  People aren’t necessarily concerned about how much you know, but how much you care.  We must have compassion, we must be respectful.  This is mandated by the Apostle Peter in 1st Peter 3:15.

Flowing from that we will receive many basic questions.  I think as apologists, we need to develop a system to recall these simple questions we’ve dealt with in the beginning of our journey.  This can be done by using acronyms.  Frank Turek is great with this and I encourage you to check out his work.  Also, you can use memory associations.  Certain arguments you can use associations, visualizing something that rhymes or pertains to it.  There is actually no limit to the creativity you can use when doing this.

One question I often get is, “What about the bible, wasn’t it written down by men and corrupted over time?”  This often prompts me to ask, “what do you mean by corrupted?”  “Why does it matter if it was written by men?”  This question, often allows the individual to explain what they believe about biblical accuracy.  It also exposes what they know and don’t know about the translation process.  People are usually shocked that we can actually go back to the original languages and translate from them and compare it to what we have today.  They also begin to see that their doubts about men writing the bible contradicts what they believe about God.  Most people have the idea that God can do everything.  I often ask them, “Is God not strong enough or wise enough to use men to get his message through?”

The second one, often leveled, is “What about all the contradictions?” My response is simply “What contradictions?”  First,  You wouldn’t believe the amount of contradictions people level at Christianity that aren’t actual contradictions, some are simple categorical errors, some aren’t even found in scripture.  Second, I ask this question because it often opens up the fact that someone pulled this from the internet and has actually never read the bible.  I asked a friend one time to list me one contradiction.  He admitted that there were so many.  Then, I asked him if he has ever read the bible and if not how could he make that accusation.  I also ask,  “Where did you get this from?”  This also opens up where they heard the apparent contradictions.

In conclusion, we will deal with some of these objections in more detail later.  For this post I wanted to give you some practical ways in dealing with others.  I want you encouraged, I want your appetite for learning to expand.  I hope this helps everyone to carry out the great commission.

COSMOS-SENSE?

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By David Russell.

 

In this article we begin our journey to discover whether Christianity is true. Before we can do that we have to first establish a better case for theism.  In our last article we covered some of the basics, but more so established whether theism was more plausible than naturalism.  We also covered where we are in the culture.  This is where I want to stay. Not in a sense that I want to leave you there, but in the way the culture can relate.  I want to give simple and practical arguments that flow from commonsense.  This is why I named this article “Cosmos-Sense”.  

Most people I chat with daily agree that there is no way that something can come from nothing.  It seems only the upper Echelon of higher learning believes that and only believes it by redefining it.  I guess this is part in parcel living in a post-truth culture.  Something to expect from those who think truth is like ice-cream, you can pick and choose your own flavor.

But truth is truth whether you believe it or not and “Nothing”  as Aristotle states “Nothing is what rocks dream about”  or as my daughter claims “Blank”.  No amount of redefining will change it.  At the end of the day, nothing is nothing and something has never come from nothing.

In the way of practical dialogue with others, even with worldviews a jumbled mess, this premise is almost virtually accepted by everyone.  When presenting any argument I always try to follow a simple rule, and that is, make sure all your points are logically valid with true premises that are credible, backed by evidence, and more plausible than its counter.  With that being the case and my first premise agreed upon we can establish that, anything that begins to exist has a cause.  This premise has been codified and used since the middle ages and is part of an argument still used today by famous apologist William Lane Craig.

So, for practical purposes lets explain what I mean by a cause big enough to shoot out or shout out a universe.  An external cause wouldn’t be nature causing the big bang or the laws of physics.  That would be as incoherent as me saying “I just gave birth to my mother” or “I am a married bachelor”. In short, the universe can’t cause the universe.  For this premise it has to be supernatural because it began outside of all of space, time, and matter. It is before all the laws of physics, before any sequence of timed events.  It could be something that exists necessarily.  When we think of necessary things, we think of abstract things like numbers, mathematics, etc. But, when have we ever observed numbers create anything?

So, we come to a point where  we must consider what we have.  We know the cause of the universe must be uncaused, because it is the first cause.  Spaceless, because no space existed prior.  Timeless, because time is a property of this universe. Immaterial, because its outside of the material universe. Powerful, because it is responsible for creating this huge universe. Lets dive just a little deeper though, this cause must be personal because it chose to create a universe with enormous complexity, which means, it is extremely intelligent. Starting to sound theistic?

The next premise states, the universe began to exist.  Most Scientist agree with this as well.  Edwin Hubble really solidified this with the discovery of red shifts in light from distant galaxies.  This later led people like Alexander Vilenkin to say Scientist “can no longer hide behind a past eternal universe”.  Further more, the laws of thermodynamics tell us that due to entropy, in summary, meaning the universe is running out of reusable energy, that an eternal universe would have already used all that energy.  I get many answers here when talking with people.  The easiest way I have found, is to ask them to count to infinity.  This usually gets the wheels turning as I begin to make my point.  The light bulb usually goes off when I explain this and the person is really impressed that I believe in the Big Bang theory and still hold to my faith.  This is such an excellent opportunity to launch into why you believe what you believe from a biblical world view.

The last premise is that the universe has a cause.  Again, this is where the debate has begun with me.  The battle of worldviews begin to be drawn.  You have boarded the plane and began to speed down the runway but before lift off you’ll have to wait for the next installment.  I hope this little cosmological argument not only makes you think, but also prepares you for where you will get arguments and how to deal with them.  It is a powerful argument with good explanatory power because this spaceless, timeless, uncaused, imaterial, powerful, personal intelligence sounds like GOD.

 

 Reality Check. Theism or Naturalism?

p9bBy David Russell

 

Besides being complicated.  Reality, in my experience, is usually odd.  Its not neat, not obvious, not what you expect.  C.S. Lewis

One of the biggest hurdles to jump while trying to discuss ideas is thought consistency.  In this post modern world many have relaxed the mind muscle and grown complacent, apathetic, even offended by discussing the depths of reality and the big questions of life.  I am often bewildered by the inconsistency some new age social justice warriors put forth.  They fight for equal rights and yet can’t justify why they should be equal or even where those rights come from.  They rail for tolerance while being intolerant to any that disagree.

In this article I hope to put the proverbial “stone in your shoe“.  I am going to address how bad this inconsistency of thought is, and what we need to do to change it.  I want to give a thanks to Rob Lundberg,  Frank Turek, and Ravi Zacharias who helped me in this journey.  Much of my material for this article is thanks to the hard work and illumination they gave me.  My wish is to help you identify these inconsistent thoughts and provide you with insight in dealing with people in everyday life and evangelism.

What is the nature of reality? What does it mean to be human?  What is going to happen to you after you leave this life?  Is this life all there is?  Is there real meaning?  These questions are the summary of questions I deal with on a regular basis.  They are like the root that supplies the branches of many other questions and thoughts.  Today, in the church and on the street, people seemed confused about these questions, some don’t care or even want explanations.  I find the latter the most disturbing.  We have allowed the culture to slip into the arms of apathy, filling our time with pure entertainment instead of thought provoking conversations.  Many have lost the ability to socialize with one another personally, others walk down the street carrying on full debates with they’re nose in a phone.

Entertainment is not wrong, nor is social media.  The problem is excess. We glutton ourselves with our devices and shows.  This, in turn, has led to a mental numbness, to Hollywood setting moral norms, aggrandizing abhorrent world views, and giving us false views of reality.  But the problem goes deeper still.  We have allowed this.  We have entertained this and we have allowed it to fester.  You could hear the train coming when philosophers touted God is dead, yet, we still allowed it to progress. Now the train is here calling us to board.  How will we respond?

The average person is still searching for how to respond, however, the mind is usually crowded with false notions of free thought and opinion given to them by liberal and relativist teachers.  People seem to be less teachable, prideful in their conclusions of these big issues.  They often mix an match different world views, trying to combine the parts they like and throw away parts they don’t. Some base entire worldviews on one You Tube video or Wiki article.  It seems, even in the church, Christians forget that the gospel is dependent upon the truth and relevant for all of us today.  I think we all need to step back and exercise the mind.  We need to equip ourselves and engage the culture.  As the post modern world continues on, we need to arm ourselves and reach the world.

Often, when we come up against the tide in dialogue with others, I have found your often dealing with a form of theism or a form of naturalism.  Knowing what your dealing with is the first process of identification.  This reveals a lot about where they are coming from and it may give you insight in how they where raised or what has influenced their worldview.  For this article, I want to point out the difference in these views and let you determine what best corresponds and is coherrent to the reality we find ourselves in.

Naturalism is a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted”.   On this view everything we experience is a product of time plus matter, plus chance.  Good and evil are just products of subjective flights of fancy.  Human value is rooted in the notion of human flourishing and thus like 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it “You have your way, I have my way.  As for the right way, it doesn’t exist” I was recently on a naturalist website and they claimed we are fully caused creatures, it states, “Seeing that we are fully caused creatures – not self-caused – we can no longer take or assign ultimate credit or blame for what we do. This leads to an ethics of compassion and understanding, both toward ourselves and others. We see that there but for circumstances go I. We would have been the homeless person in front of us, the convict, or the addict, had we been given their genetic and environmental lot in life”.

I encourage anyone reading this to follow this further.  There is much more to this worldview.  I am going to take the upper paragraph and ask, does this best describe our reality?  Is there no such thing as the right way? Are we organic robots,  unable to be responsible for our decisions?  Why should someones disposition lead to compassion if the right and wrong way don’t exist?  Do you see the inconsistency of thought?

What your seeing here is the assumption that the convict, addict, and homeless person are objective bad’s, while our, understanding that drives us to compassion, is an objective good.  Pure example of the “is, ought” fallacy.  Skeptic philosopher David Hume said it best “you can’t derive an ought from an is where morals are concerned.”  Naturalism, in the end, can only be a descriptive view, not a prescriptive.  It also leads to nihilism which means “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.” That is why humanist Paul Kurtz says “If man is a product of evolution, one species among others, in a universe without purpose, then man’s option is to live for himself.”  Some naturalist own this, even if inconsistent, they own the logical outcome.  Dawkins tells us “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Nietzsche predicted this in his famous parable of the madman.  Finally, we have seen through the eyes of history what conclusion naturalistic nihilism draws,  Viktor Frankl states, If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.
I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment; or as the Nazi liked to say, ‘of Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.

If life is as naturalism claims, we are left with no purpose, no ultimate meaning, no right or wrong.  This really leads to absurdity.  We wake up living our lives with purpose in mind, believe in true progress, have a sense of justice.  We experience a world of moral values and duties.  American founders called it self evident.  We bare the true consequence of our choices and demonstrate freedom of the will.  The difference between naturalism and theism reminds me of a famous quote from C.S. Lewis, he stated, “Thus in one sense the laws of Nature cover the whole field of space and time; in another, what they leave out is precisely the whole real universe – the incessant torrent of actual events which makes up true history. That must come from somewhere else. To think the laws can produce it is like thinking that you can create real money by simply doing sums.”

Theism, and I’m speaking of Christian theism, states that we have transcendent value.  Evil is a violation of purpose and moral values and duties are objective  rooted in the very nature of a good God.  It also explains the epistemological notion of progress through discovery.  We as human beings are equal because we are made in the image of our Creator, we have rights because of our intrinsic worth.  I cannot deprive you of  your rights unjustly because you display that same image on you.   This view does satisfy coherence and correspondent theories of truth.  We wake up and live lives of purpose because there is an ultimate purpose.  The theistic view gives us the answer to the ought.  Christian theism tells us that the truth about reality is knowable, that truth excludes its opposite, and it is evidential and experiential.

In conclusion, I think as the body of Christ we need apologetic’s.  Apologetic’s helps teach us why we believe what we believe.  Apologetic’s equips the body, helps with interaction when presenting the gospel, and gives confidence to the believer. In the weeks ahead I will be writing out the case for Christianity. The train is calling us to board, God is the conductor.  Nietzsche may have declared God is dead in 1882 but God declared him dead in 1900.

 

 

 

Simple Truth.

download By David Russell

The truth is that there are whole books on this topic and I won’t be writing an entire book on explaining truth.  I want to make this simple; hence the title.  Truth, as “Greg Koukl” describes, is not ice cream.  I love this analogy because it tells us that we can’t pick our own flavor of truth.  What is true for you is true for me in any objective sense.  The notion that there is no truth, makes a truth claim, “the truth is, there is no truth.” 

With that said, it seems we can’t escape truth.  Two people in a crashing plane can’t say, “it’s true that you need a parachute, but I don’t, because I don’t believe in gravity“. But as apologist, in our day and age, we see a society constantly living lives in denial that there is truth or that all truth is purely subjective.  Over the last fifty years or so, relativism has been a main theme across college campuses.

rel·a·tiv·ism
ˈrelədəˌvizəm/
noun
  1. the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.

Today, this has gotten so bad that we have a portion of society that doesn’t even believe in or recognize gender.  Some deny objective reality completely.  But, in dealing with people, I have noticed this can only go so far.  Always, when engaged with others, I have found that absolutes always creep in.  No matter how hard the person tries to escape the truth, truth will always catch up.  We live in a culture that makes most of their decisions according to how they feel, often riding the waves of inconsistency in the ocean of sensationalism, they crash into the shores of reality.  Its a scary notion, and often times people aren’t able to handle what that inconsistency hands out. In the end, we can only try and deny it, ignore it, or walk away like Pilate did when he asked Jesus “What is truth?”  So, what is truth?

Truth

 noun

1. The true or actual state of a matter:

He tried to find out the truth.
2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity:
the truth of a statement.

I bring this to the forefront, because the truth we are discussing has an ontic referent. This idea that knowledge, morality, and truth are just delusions of grandeur is contested by, not only, our innate senses but that of any rational argument.  Not to mention, if there is no objective truth, knowledge etc. how can one trust in reality at all?  This ontic referent, is God.  Its not only because the bible tells us so, its because experience and evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, tell us so. Further more, people live lives with purpose in mind, it’s properly basic to all of us.  Without God, there is no real purpose to life.  The very fact that we exist is best explained by realizing the un-caused, first cause, is all powerful, space-less, time-less,  and personal. Choosing to create, he fined tuned this planet to be habitable for life.  Finally, he revealed himself in Jesus Christ, whose story is known through out history, his teachings changed the world, his life death and resurrection, recorded by those who knew him best, have stood the test of time.  He even claimed to be the “Truth” (John 14;6).

 So, at the end of the day, truth remains.  No matter what we do, it will be there.  I bet if Pilate had just stuck around for his question to be answered, his life would have been dramatically changed.  Truth has a certain power to it.  It has the ability to codify our trust.  Biblical faith, I found out, goes hand in hand with trust.  When I decided to really examine the claims of Christianity my faith grew.  Why? Because Christianity best conforms to reality. In the work place alone, I often find myself defending the reliability of the Gospels, giving evidence after evidence to the reality of the resurrection.  From it, I see the truth and how it conforms to the reality of our current state.  The description of the human condition and the answer to destiny and purpose, as mentioned above, we all wonder about.

What do we do with the simple truth?  Let me refer you back to the scene where Pilate talks to Jesus.  Pilate had a unique opportunity, one that the disciples had when seeing Christ risen.  Pilate walked away, the disciples changed the world.

Surfing against the gods of war!

1849588-bigthumbnail “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6;12)

This saying I use as satire but I want us all to actually imagine what we are up against.  As believers we fight a war on many fronts.  It seems that the battle within is not enough, we have to contend against outside forces that rival our faith.  This seems to happen in every area of our lives.  It’s like the end of the 300 when Leonidas is waiting for the hail storm of arrows to descend on him.

This article, “Surfing against the gods of war”, is about what we face as apologists and how to respond and help others discover what we are truly up against.

We live in a time of increased skepticism and doubt.  One only has to observe the universities where many give up their faith after year one.  Who’s to blame?  The church? Religious freedom?  Lets look at religious freedom first.

Religious freedom is often a double edged sword.  On one side we see freedom to worship and not be persecuted for the belief you hold, we see a fundamental human right and a beautiful, powerful one.  On the other side its blind, subjective, deceptive and often ignorant.  It’s like C.S. Lewis describing the three natural loves, in his book of the four loves, each has its beauty and danger.  This same truth applies to religious freedom.

Is religious freedom to blame?  No.  Religious freedom is necessary for any free society.  If we are the church, then one only has to go as far as the mirror to see who is to blame.  Yes, can untaught pastors lead large congregations? Can the ignorant amass huge followings? Can the blind guide people in crisis’s of faith? Yes, but it is our responsibility to know why we believe what we believe and to discover truth.  I believe its time, no longer can we sit idly by.  The evangelist must begin to incorporate apologetic’s into discipleship.

It was in 2007 when my crisis of faith hit.  I had been a Christian since the year 2000 but on the night, in the wake of my fathers death, I decided to debate an informed atheist and I lost.  I left with more questions than I had answers to and I woke up.  I decided that if I was to give my life for something I knew to be true, I needed to know why I believed it.  It was a journey, one I am so thankful to have gone on.  The discovery of my faith brought me closer to God than I thought possible.

To narrow this, there is a huge road block we all face.  This road block is all the misinformation on the internet that may hinder or lead you astray in your search.  Social media has become the classroom for the average Joe.  It is a hotbed for debate, in promoting wild conspiracies, inaccurate religious views, political reflections, and philosophical ruminations.

When evangelizing in the work place I am often challenged with questions posed on Yahoo or reddit, I even get the occasional YouTube speaker that teaches on everything except for what they are credentialed in.  Some questions are reminiscent of ideas Christianity dealt with hundreds of years ago, and dealt with effectively.  Others cite certain notions about the bible that aren’t at all biblical.

In the information age we are all google scholars and YouTube graduates. Regardless of the truth, some make eternal choices believing internet lies or revisionist history.  It is quite scary when you truly think on it.  In even the last few years, I find people are even too lazy to come up with their own arguments.  Instead, they flood you with articles that they haven’t even fully read or give you statistics without understanding how to read the statistic.

So, In the age of surfing against the gods of war, how is the apologist supposed to respond?  How about exactly how Peter tells us….15  But in your hearts revere 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” That last part of verse 15, with gentleness and respect.  A gentleness that drips with patience or should I say pours? We have to remember hearts and souls are at stake.  Respond with truth, facts, and credible sources.  Also, remember your battling ideas and not just people.  Be respectful, nobody will care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Don’t allow your own knowledge to puff you up, that will only build walls between you and others.  It will also make you arrogant.  Don’t ever attack someones character, deal with their arguments.

Another good measure is to get things as clear as possible.  Respond by asking questions.  This usually ends up bringing out the presuppositions of the one your engaging and can give you an idea or reason the presupposition exists.  We see Jesus did this often, we see he often would follow a question with another question. Finally brothers and sisters, be compassionate.  Debates can turn into conversations, conversations build relationships,  and relationships are where you will experience the most success.