Suffering Well

MSNBC on Matt Chandler’s cancer.

(Thanks to Mark Driscoll’s Facebook post of the link.)

Why are There Atheists?

Apologetics 315 has posted an excellent review of R. C. Sproul’s book If There is a God, Why Are There Atheists.

The original book is, in part, an attack on the notion of Freud and Feuerbach that religion is just projection or wishful thinking. Here’s a taste of Sproul’s book courtesy of Apologetics 315:

The Christian God has some ‘attractive’ features that might incline a person to embrace God as a narcotic to help him face the threatening character of life, but these are overwhelmingly outweighed by the trauma of encountering God. Though man may desire and create for himself a deity who meets his needs and provides him with innumerable benefits, he will not instinctively desire a God who is holy, omniscient, and sovereign.

The Bible does not try to conceal the fact that, in spite of God’s love and mercy, He is an awesome, threatening Being, a Being that man would not instinctively search for. The psychologists continue to argue that men like to invent protective deities that will provide them with comfort and security. But they cannot argue that men would invent the intimidating Holy One of Israel.

Sproul’s book also provides one possible explanation for atheism:

The New Testament maintains that unbelief is generated not so much by intellectual causes as by moral and psychological ones. The problem is not that there is insufficient evidence to convince rational beings that there is a God, but that rational beings have a natural hostility to the being of God.

Here’s a link to another expression of the same thought from Sproul’s web site.



Logical Laws

“What is the source of math and logic? The existence of this remarkably fine-tuned universe aside, how is it that we have these ‘languages of reality’ to so elegantly describe and interact with it.” - David F. Coppedge, “The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists”

“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.” – Dinesh D/Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity? (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, Chapter 11).
One aspect of thinking is our ability to determine the internal consistency of ideas. We need to be able to know whether our thinking method itself is accurate. This is the realm of formal logic.

The laws of logic shape the way we think. They are an open window to the Christian God’s world.

Take one for instance: the law of non-contradiction.

It says that something can not be both A and Non-A at the same time, in the same relationship, and in the same sense. This law cannot be denied. To deny it is to affirm it. If you say, “The law of non-contradiction does not apply,” you could mean, “The law of non-contradiction does indeed apply.” The meanings would be the same.

This law of logic, which leads us to all the others, is undeniable because to question it is to invoke it. That is the only way we can think.

We do not observe the laws of logic occurring in nature. They are not open for scientific exploration and study. We assume that logic’s laws work in order to evaluate scientific evidence. Using science to prove that logic works would be viciously circular.

They are not evolutionary in origin, either. Evolutionary processes governed by natural selection would not necessarily lead to the truth about our world. Natural selection would only encourage behavior that would lead to survival. We could not be certain our beliefs about the world were true, only that they help us continue to live in a given situation.

Further, genetics change from person to person. Therefore, the laws of logic would change from one person to the next.

A Christian can account for the laws of logic by stating that they come from God. God has originated the laws of logic because He thinks logically. The laws of logic are a reflection of God’s mind. They do not change because the God whose thinking they reflect does not change.
I do not find an adequate explanation for logic and rational thought outside God. Literally, my thinking drives me toward God’s existence.


Al Mohler on Haiti

I like Al Mohler’s take on the tragedy in Haiti:

…Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God's perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts -- there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti -- and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone…

Want to donate to help now and for the long haul? Follow this link.

On preaching the gospel without words

Thanks to Justin Talyor for this quote:

“Saying “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words” is like saying “Tell me your phone number; if necessary use digits.”” – J. D. Greear


Time and the Beginning

God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. This is foundational for a popular argument for God’s existence. Reason demonstrates that something must have always existed.

It is not possible to count to the end of the series of real numbers. We can always count one more. It is, in one sense, an infinite series of discrete things. We can’t count to the end of a string like that. It has no end. An unending series of discrete things cannot, after all, have an end.

Similarly, we cannot expect that an infinite regress of finite causes exists either. That is, if we move backward from ourselves to the things that caused us, then backward to the things that caused them and so on, we must find something that did not have a beginning. Otherwise, the unending series of causes would have never arrived at us.

The infinite regression cannot exist in reality. Whatever the first cause was, it must have always been and it must have the power and ability to bring about all we see in the universe.

Something, or someone, has always been here. It was not caused to be by something that existed before it. It is self-existent; it has the power of being in itself because it existed by itself before it created.

As J. P. Morland points out, nothing outside this first cause can cause it to either act or not act. At the beginning, there was nothing outside it, so there was nothing to cause its actions. It has the power of choice. Only a person can choose to act or not to act.

This personality has always existed, is powerful enough to create the universe, and displays intention. This fits the Christian notion of God quite well, but not perfectly. But it must be kept in mind that this is not the only argument that can be given (Please see search label teleological argument," amoung others.).

Theistic arguments cannot be taken in isolation. We cannot ignore the things that one sub-argument proves just because it does not by itself prove the whole.

Counter-arguments often given revolve around the nature of time itself. Please note that I have not referenced time except as a reference to the string of causes, a reference to the order. I believe that time is an abstraction in the strictest sense.

The only way we measure time is by looking at some physical entity that is changing. It changes almost constantly in reference to everything else. A ticking watch and / or a decaying radioactive element is something that change physically. Time is our way of coming to terms with the change all around us, our way of referencing the changes we cannot keep track of.

We could think of it like a statistician does. We often look at experimental in “time order” so we can get an idea of any unknown independent variables that could be influencing the experimental outcomes. All we really have is a sequence of physical causes. Maybe there is a pattern in that sequence which gives away an unknown factor. Maybe if we keep careful notes, we can guess what it is.

The concept of time helps us to keep our bearings in the sequence of physical beings, but it has no existence in and of itself. Counter-arguments that reference a particular theory of time are just dancing around the obvious.


Happy About Hell?

I am astonished at some on the internet who accuse me of being happy / glad / satisfied / gleeful that God would send some people to hell. From Ray Comfort’s blog:

Do you think "happy" would be the right word to use to describe that state of mind of those who were saved in the lifeboats of the Titanic as their loved ones and others were being swallowed into an icy grave? No doubt they were unspeakably grateful that they are saved, but it would be entirely inappropriate to use the word "happy" to describe their circumstance.

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not horrified at what’s in store for those who die in their sins…

Ray says it well.

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