Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Expert Testimony: The Anthropic Principle, Anthropology, and Historicity

“The Christian faith does not call for us to put our minds on the shelf, to fly in the face of common sense and history, or to make a leap of faith into the dark. The rational person, fully apprised of the evidence, can confidently believe...” –William Lane Craig

What is faith exactly?  Is it unyielding belief in the absurd as Richard Dawkins has suggested?  Is it trust in propositions that exist in contradiction to reality?  Or is faith something else?  Could it be possible that faith is reasonable, even logical?

We all put our faith in a certain ideology.  An atheist puts his or her faith in naturalistic conclusions, the belief that all things can be explained through natural means.  Is that a scientific conclusion, or a belief structure?  A Christian puts his or her faith in conclusions based on theological constructs of reality.  Is that entirely unscientific, or reasonable faith?

"I actually do not believe that there are any collisions between what I believe as a Christian, and what I know and have learned about as a scientist. I think there's a broad perception that that's the case, and that's what scares many scientists away from a serious consideration of faith." Francis Collins

I see three key areas as vital to my faith, which I see as intelligent faith.  We've often discussed the anthropic principle, or the evidence that the universe is tuned to allow for stars, planets, and life.  That is a vital first step toward intelligent faith.  To ignore the anthropic principle seems to me, insincere.  Second, it's important to understand anthropology, or the study of man.  More specifically I look to the heart of man.  Which means I'm trying to understand the common perspective from which I view the evidence and inquire of reality around me.  If I'm to be honest, as much so as possible at least, I must see my own inclinations and desires in how they affect my conclusions.  And finally historical voracity.  Since I am not able to inquire of the accounts of Christ by scientific measurements, how am I to inquire?  I am to inquire by the tests of historical verification.  How do historians decide on the credibility of events that took place in the past?  History is credible when it meets certain requirements, as we will see.

Once again as we've done in the past, we'll be looking at expert testimony, quotes from great minds to discover what their conclusions were regarding these three key topics.  So let's take a look.

The Anthropic Principle
the fine tuning of the universe
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.” –Robert Jastrow, agnostic astronomer, author of God and the Astronomers

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” –Francis Crick, biochemist and spiritual skeptic, shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA 

“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.” – Paul Davies, an internationally known British astrophysicist and author

“When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it.” – John Polkinghorne
, renowned theoretical physicist 

“Many have a feeling that somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe....I strongly sense the presence and actions of a creative being far beyond myself and yet always personal and close by.” – Charles Townes, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

"God is an awesome mathematician and physicist." -Francis Collins, award winning physician-geneticist, distinguished leadership in the Human Genome Project

the study of man
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
C. S. Lewis, famous author, The Weight of Glory

 "Education, the great mumbo-jumbo and fraud of the age, purports to equip us to live and is prescribed as a universal remedy for everything from juvenile delinquency to premature senility. For the most part it only serves to enlarge stupidity, inflate conceit, enhance credulity and put those subjected to it at the mercy of brain-washers with printing presses, radio and TV at their disposal." Malcolm Muggeridge, famous journalist & author, in the "Observer", 1966

“Many people are being persuaded that they cannot be considered intelligent or well educated if they insist on the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Book. Let me say to you that truth has always lived with the minority; what the majority says at a given moment is usually wrong. The crowd one day cried, “Crucify him,” and the whole world united to murder the Son of God, because in their ignorance they knew Him not.” –Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Service: Studies in the Book of Nehemiah, p. 113.

“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” –G. K. Chesterton, English philosopher & author

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”–C. S. Lewis, famed author

“Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.” –William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, p. 35-36.

“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene...No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” –Albert Einstein, famous scientist, Nobel prize winner 

historical verification
“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” –Thomas Arnold, historian and Oxford professor

“If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” –Paul Maier, historian, Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University

“They [the disciples] were testifying to the resurrection, a question of fact, not merely of faith. They were convinced of an event. And their willingness to die for attesting to that event is far more convincing that the willingness of others to die for a mere belief or because of loyalty to a religion or religious leader.” –Dave Hunt, Christian apologist & author

“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history...” – E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian era? Christ's church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that....All the power of Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.” –Henry Schaefer III, Professor of Chemistry University of Georgia, highly cited scientist H-index 110.

“The fact that the Christian fellowship, founded on belief in Jesus’ resurrection, could come into existence and flourish in the very city where he was executed and buried seems to be compelling evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb.” –William Lane Craig, Christian author and speaker, Biola University

Click Here to view more Quotes in the "Powerful Quotes" section of this website.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Expert Testimony: The Existence of God, the Problem of Evil, and the Facts on the Bible

 One of the respected methods by which truth claims may be verified is by expert testimony.  Expert testimony is offered in court cases to assist in the search for truth.  In the same way, expert testimony from respected individuals in human history may offer voracity to the truth claims of the Christian faith.  

True faith, Christian faith is grounded in hard facts and reasonable inquiry.  I would like to offer forward verified quotations from great thinkers across the ages regarding three areas of inquiry: the existence of God, the problem of evil, and the reliability of the Bible.  

Faith leads to knowledge.  And knowledge leads to faith.  God is not just a story, or a legend or a myth.  God is real.  We need only look through the annuls of time to see the great thinkers who have believed and testified to the reality of God.  

Often we are simply not exposed to these facts, because many in our society seek to quietly ignore and dispose of the idea of God.  But we must remember the ground we stand on.  It is my firm belief that we must return to the faith of the founders of the United States, and western civilization.  Why?  So that western society will continue to survive, and prosper.  Dr. John Lennox a renowned mathematician and devout Christian once traveled to Russia during the cold war era, a rare event, to speak to their scientists and great minds.  Dr. Lennox was sharing regarding the many great scientists over history who have had devout faith in Jesus Christ, and the scientists in the audience were looking more and more angry.  So much so that Dr. Lennox stopped his talk, and addressed them, asking them why they looked so upset.  And one of them replied, "Why weren't any of us ever told about this?"  The answer should be obvious... because knowledge is power.  Knowledge is our road to truth.  

So without further ado, I offer up this expert testimony regarding the existence of God, the problem of evil, and the reliability of the Bible for your consideration.  

A. The Existence of God

1. The Design of the Universe: Does the universe need a designer?
"We have only to see a few letters of the alphabet spelling our name in the sand to recognize at once the work of an intelligent agent. How much more likely, then is the existence of an intelligent Creator behind human DNA, the colossal biological database that contains no fewer than 3.5 billion "letters" - the longest "word" yet discovered?" –John Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?, p. 75.

Discoveries of the last half of the 20th century have brought the scientific community to the realization that our universe and our planet in the universe are so remarkably unique that it is almost impossible to imagine how this could have happened accidentally, causing many agnostic scientists to concede that indeed some intelligent creative force may be required to account for it.” –Dr. Walter Bradley, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Texas A & M

When you analyze all of the most current affirmative evidence from cosmology, physics, astronomy, biology, and so forth...the positive case for an intelligent designer becomes absolutely compelling.” –Jonathan Wells

2. The Hiddenness of God: Why isn't God more obvious?
"Either God exists, or he does not...Let us weigh the gain and the loss in betting that God exists...If you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then, to gamble on His existence." –Blaise Pascal, French scientist and theologian, quoted in Harold Sala, Why You Can Have Confidence in the Bible, p. 159

"The chief reason people do not know God is not because He hides from them but because they hide from Him." –John Stott

God maintains a delicate balance between keeping his existence sufficiently evident so people will know he's there and yet hiding his presence enough so that people who want to choose to ignore him can do it. This way, their choice of destiny is really free.” –J.P. Moreland
B. The Problem of Evil

1. Do our trials communicate to us?
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C. S. Lewis

I saw a young sister, just before this service; and I said to her, "When did you find the Lord?" She replied, "It was when I was very ill." Yes, it is often so; God makes us ill in body that we may have time to think of Him, and turn to Him....What would become of some people if they were always in good health, or if they were always prospering? But tribulation is the black dog that goes after the stray sheep, and barks them back to the Good Shepherd. I thank God that there are such things as the visitations of correction and of holy discipline, to preserve our spirit, and bring us to Christ.” –Charles Spurgeon

2. Does the evil in the world disprove the goodness of God?
The Biblical world-view is the only one that accepts the reality of evil and suffering while giving both the cause and the purpose, while offering God-given strength and sustenance in the midst of it.” –Ravi Zacharias

Someone once asked Billy Graham, "If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?" To this the famous preacher replied, "With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives." –Billy Graham

C. The Facts on the Bible

1. Can the Bible be trusted?
I must say, that having for many years made the evidences of Christianity the subject of close study, the result has been a firm and increasing conviction of the authenticity and plenary [complete] inspiration of the Bible. It is indeed the Word of God.” –Simon Greenleaf, (1783-1853), Founder of Harvard Law School

Today there survives more than 25,000 partial and complete, ancient handwritten manuscript copies of the New Testament. These hand written manuscripts have allowed scholars and textual critics to go back and verify that the Bible we have in our possession today is the same Bible that the early church possessed 2,000 years ago.” –Charlie Campbell

I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.” –Sir Isaac Newton , legendary scientist

2. Does the Bible contradict itself?
"Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them.”
E. Paul Hovey

While many have doubted the accuracy of the Bible, time and continued research have consistently demonstrated that the Word of God is better informed than its critics. In fact, while thousands of finds from the ancient world support in broad outline and often in detail the biblical picture, not one incontrovertible find has ever contradicted the Bible.” –Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
3. Does the Bible contain prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus?
The Old Testament contains over 300 references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Computations using the science of probability on just 8 of these prophecies show the chance that someone could have fulfilled all 8 prophecies is 10 (to the 17th power), or 1 in 100 quadrillion.” –Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference?, p. 28.
4. Does the Bible change lives?
My father’s life was changed right before my eyes [when he trusted Christ]. It was like someone reached down and switched on a light inside him. He touched alcohol only once after that. He got the drink only as far as his lips and that was it—after forty years of drinking! He didn’t need it any more. Fourteen months later, he died form complications of his alcoholism. But in that fourteen-month period over a hundred people in the area around my tiny hometown committed their lives to Jesus Christ because of the change they saw in the town drunk, my dad.”
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, xxvii.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Water Day: How vital is water?

How vital is water?  Without water I'd die in three days.  That's rather vital.  Imagine all the millions who don't have access to clean water.  Many must drink from dirty ponds.  But not on my watch, and not on yours, if we can help it.

I'd like to briefly highlight two organizations that provide water ministry to areas of the world without clean water.  The first is called Gospel for Asia.  The 2nd is called Charity: Water.  Some charities seem like it would just be a waste of money, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.  But with these two charities, it's really providing a long term solution to the water problem.  After the well is dug and ready, it's done.  That's it.  And they've got a deep well for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years.  Seems a very logical way to help.  Of course I'm sure there are ways it could go wrong, like gangs charging for use of the well.  But that's the exception, rather than the rule.  We might as well try, right?  I believe in these two ministries.  Please support them if you can. 

Click here to Donate to Gospel for Asia's Jesus Wells.

Click here to Donate to Charity: Water.

Today is World Water Day.  Consider raising your voice today on social media to support water for the 3rd world.  There isn't a lot I can say about it, I just believe in the cause.  Here are some pictures of the wells from Gospel for Asia, and the impact they are making.

Thank you, and God bless you.   

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Five Powerful Speeches on the USA that Touched my Heart

As I've always said, Youtube is a wonderful free market of video content.  You can find anything from funny cat videos to inspiring sermons and everything in between.  I know in the past we've centered in on apologetics many a-time from the likes of Ravi Zacharias, Frank Turek, William Lane Craig, and many others.  We've dabbled into the antics of men like Eric Metaxas and Stephen Meyer as they rebuff the redoubts of modern intellectual subculture.  But today I'd like to offer up five powerful speeches that really hit me hard, in light of the United States and the future of the nation.  These are some great leaders, and great minds, with messages that we desperately need in the USA today.  Enjoy.

1. Dr. Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast

2. Eric Metaxas at Liberty University

3. Ben Stein at Liberty University


4. Dr. Ron Paul to Congress "What if.."

5. Judge Andrew Napolitano - What ever happened to the Constitution? 

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