Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Films

For you film buffs, here's a few with an Easter theme:

  • The Case For Christ (now playing in theaters, about investigative journalist, Lee Strobel, who tried to disprove the resurrection, to save his converted wife and daughter from what he considered nonsense)

  • Risen (similar to The Robe, about a Roman soldier seeking answers)

  • Ben Hur (there's been remakes, but Charlton Heston is still the best)

  • The Miracle Maker (excellent clay animation)

  • The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson explores the suffering of Christ) 

  • Jesus of Nazareth (in my opinion, still the best treatment on the life of Christ)

  • The Body (Antonio Bandera plays a priest investigating the unearthing of a crucified by body, dating to the first century AD. While this is not your typical faith-affirming Christian film, neither is it hostile or antagonistic.)

  • The Fourth Wiseman (Starring Charlie Sheen. Although this is great Christmas story, it is perfect for Easter as well.) 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lee Strobel's Story Hits The Big Screen

"This movie chronicles the true story of Lee Strobel, a professed atheist and investigative journalist, who makes it his mission to prove once and for all that Christianity is a lie – not only to the world but to his wife, Leslie, whose recent acceptance of faith mirrors the exact opposite of everything Lee stands for. This gripping story is brought to life by award-winning screenwriter, Brian Bird, who says this could be the most significant project of his career."

The Case For Christ Movie Trailer

Interview with Lee Strobel

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Evidence For God?

First of all, I concur with Alvin Plantinga who calls belief in God, a properly basic belief. Nevertheless there are good reasons to believe in God. I don't call it "evidence" in the sense of "scientific evidence", i.e. using the scientific method, as it is defined and limited to empirical data, which excludes spirits, disembodied minds, extra dimensions, metaphysics and the like.

This limitation imposed through the science method speaks as to its general inadequacies. For example, science cannot prove or validate the scientific method. This was known as Positivism, and has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. The scientific method cannot prove that I exist apart from my body, nor can it prove that I exist apart from my mind (in a sort of matrix or dream). These are, however, properly basic beliefs. If you are a materialist (physicalist), you would obviously take issue with the former, while recognizing the latter.

What I'm saying is that by the very attributes of God, as defined in Holy Scripture, and the limitations of the scientific method, it's a misunderstanding to suggest "scientific" proof for the existence of God. We're not going to produce God's body or pieces of it to examine, because God is spirit. We can, however, look at our physical world and ourselves, and explore their nature, how they function, their origins and through scientific observations, make reasonable conclusions, through deductions and inductive arguments.

The following is part of a growing list I've been working on. I actually lost my first list and started working on a new one. The arguments come from numerous sources, including Alvin Plantinga, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaefer, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Vishal Mangalwadi, Peter Kreeft, Dinesh Desouza, etc.

Here's a few of them:
The cosmological argument,
The teleological argument,
The argument from design,
The moral argument,
The argument from efficient causality,
The argument from contingency,
The argument from consciousness,
The argument from meaning,
The transcendental argument,
The ontological argument,
The argument from reason,
The argument from human dignity,
The argument from pragmatism,
The argument from human flourishing,
The argument from physical constants,
The argument from simplicity,
The argument from the origin of life and its evolution,
The argument from self,
The argument from natural laws,
The argument from the resurrection,
The argument from evil,
The argument from love,
The argument from justice,
The argument from æsthetics,
The argument from purpose,
The argument from miracles and providence,
The argument from human spirituality and religious experience,
The argument from religious need,
The argument from joy,
The argument from near death experiences and consciousness after death,
The argument from changed lives,
The evidence of fulfilled prophecy,
The argument from coherence,
Pascal's Wager.

I think that the existence of God is the best explanation to each of the above, and I find the accumulative case to be quite overwhelming.

In contrast to theism, I find naturalism/materialism to be incoherent, inherently restricting possibilities and scientific progress, contradicting human experience and impossible to live out consistently, while Christian theism provides an opportunity for personal growth, social order and paves the way for scientific progress.

For example, it was within a Christian context that slavery was abolished, even though it was one of the oldest and most globally established practices, even within early Judaism. But, it was Christians, such as William Wilberforce who heralded the call for its abolishment. Furthermore, with the rise of scientific progress in combination with state mandated "scientific" atheism, we have seen the most depraved human acts ever devised against other human beings. Science without God, not only closes the mind, it lacks the moral compass by which to judge right from wrong and denies human dignity. We can actually see this played out in many of the hateful debates online. Sadly, I have also seen Christians to take part in the insults and name calling. We will never win anyone with such disparaging remarks.

Christians should never be ashamed for believing in God, and following Christ. May God give us the grace to live out loud!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Apostles

The Apostle Paul writing an epistle while in prison.
Illustration by Gustave Doré
“Tradition and legends say that Matthew was killed by a sword in Ethiopia; Mark died after being dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt; Luke was hanged in Greece; Peter was crucified upside down; James the Just (half brother of Jesus) was clubbed to death in Jerusalem; James the son of Zebedee was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I in Jerusalem; Bartholomew was beaten to death in Turkey; Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Greece; Thomas was reportedly stabbed to death in India; Jude was killed with arrows; Matthias, successor to Judas, was stoned and then beheaded; Barnabas was stoned to death; Paul was beheaded under Nero in Rome."

How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin J. Schmid

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Primal Love

My God, I look to thee for tenderness
Such as I could not seek from any man,
Or in a human heart fancy or plan –
A something deepest prayer will not express:
Lord, with thy breath blow on my being's fires,
Until, even to the soul with self-love wan,
I yield the primal love, that no return desires.

George MacDonald (1824-1905), Diary of an Old Soul

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why I Became an Atheist: A Satire

I was a Christian all my life, until one day I just got sick and tired of hating everyone, mocking anti-theists, complaining about religious-nones, harassing infidels, burning the Communist Manifesto, banning the Humanist Manifesto, arresting and torturing non-believers, burning down houses and killing the people whose families don't go to church, crucifying atheists, etc. Now that I'm an atheist, I feel so much more happy. My life is filled with peace and love.

 All the time, I thought that Marx, Pol Pot and Mao were bad guys, I couldn't have been more wrong! It was all propaganda! That's right! It turns out that Catholic and Lutheran priests secretly stripped off their neck bands, dyed them in the blood of atheists and tied them around their arms and so began the slaughter of atheists. I already knew that though, because I was one of them. I studied Christian Apologetics at Bob Jones University. It was actually while on my mission that I was finally confronted by the evidence for atheism and once and for all confronted about my hideous beliefs.

You see, only a half-baked kook, that's drank the kool-aid for way too long would ever believe that some "one" is required to create some "thing."  It's completely irrational to believe that a miracle could possibly ever have happened, just because you thought you saw one. All the good things Christians do, while their not killing people is just to go to heaven. I know it's hard to believe, even after they have sent atheists to work camps, but they really aren't good at heart, it's all just a good show, trying to to climb the stairway to heaven and all.

 Atheism is true because Richard Dawkins says it is, and if you need more proof, almost half of the scientists in the world are also atheists. It's practically a scientific consensus! None of the other scientists are really legit, otherwise they would be atheists too. So, you see, atheism is true and Christian so-called intellectuals, scientists and philosophers, are not really very smart. If they were, they would be atheists, because atheism is true. How do I know atheism is true? Because atheists say so! Look, you don't need miracles to explain the universe, all you need is an atheist! I can't put a miracle in a test tube, but I have put atheists on a burning stake. Trust me, atheism is true, Christians are mean, don't be a Christian, be an atheist! You're genes will like you if you do!

Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues (Google). The above is a satire I wrote while reading some comments on a YouTube video of former atheist and police detective, Jim Wallace, sharing his testimony. All of the atrocities listed above, were actually committed against Christians for their faith. Christians do not need to be afraid or discouraged in the face of ridicule and contempt, we just need to let our roots grow deep in God's grace and stand firm in the faith once delivered to all the saints. The man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. We do not love others because they have first loved us. We are followers of Christ and the way of Christ, and we have been touched by his grace!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Brief Thoughts on Evil, Religion, Atheism, War and Adolf Hitler

Ironically, I titled this article, Brief after I wrote it, because I know that as long as it is, it doesn't do justice to the subject at hand. I only hope to sow some seeds for thought and hopefully inspire more courtesy in this weighty discussion. Note: I am not a historian, but neither am I unread. :)

Human dignity only truly exists if God created man in his image (1); this includes the capacity for logical thinking, knowledge, morality, justice, etc. In the modernity of the west, to deny that God exists generally leads to naturalism and materialism, as facilitated by methodological natural evolution. I do understand that situation would have it, that more and more atheists are wanting to walk away from such committed relationships, but shall we not let that dog lie for a bit?

Suffice it to say, if you are a critical thinker as well as a natural materialist that prescribes to evolution, then you would understand that man is no more special than a gnat or a flea (to do otherwise would suggest special pleading), and you would also recognize religion as the product of social Darwinism. That means it is neither good nor evil, it just is. Such terms as "good" and _"evil"_are completely erroneous and totally subjective.

Furthermore, you should also understand that the moral framework that society appeals to is actually derived from religion. To claim that religion inspires or exploits hate is an extremely near-sided view that fails critical analysis in many respects, including recognizing its moral influence on civilization. Like it or not, religion is here to stay. We are spiritual people. Whether that is because God created us or an accident of evolution, I'll let you decide. Let's just talk practically for a few minutes.

That doesn't mean beliefs don't have consequences, nor does it suggest that the truth or falsehood of those beliefs don't have consequences. I would be surprised if someone did not think the world would be a better place if more people were to integrate the teachings of Jesus into their lives, but that's besides the point.

So, within the paradigm of naturalism and materialism, when looking at military conflicts, you first must examine the factor of ideology as a whole and that means putting aside all prejudices, including religious prejudices. Many of the motivations can be tricky, and as the Bible says, only god knows the heart. Then you must diagnose the psychological factors and how they relate to their environment. (And then at the end of the day, the same plea can be used that the Nazis attempted to use in court, that they were simply acting out evolution.). What happens is, through methodological naturalism, science reduces morality and justice to a matter of statistics. Now, if science were able to reduce and refine everything that it means to be human, as a matter of statistics, would that make God obsolete as a Necessary Being? Of course not, then statistics would be meaningless. It is God that holds everything together. Statistics is not a means to a universal theory of knowledge. (see my article, Gödel, Science and God).

Before I stray completely off topic, what exactly was the ideology of the Communists but dialectical materialism! This is not only primarily based on atheism, it is actually inherently hostile toward anyone who believes in God! What triggered China to literally crucify Christians on crosses in the East? Exactly what motivated the burning of Bibles, the imprisonment of pastors across communist Europe and the murder of millions? Now, one can argue that atheism is generic in its rudimentary form and that the name shouldn't be inherently associated with the ideology of Stalin, Lennon, Pol Pot, Mao, et al., but to suggest that religion is the basis for all, or even almost all, human conflict, and that atheism was not a factor, simply because atheists don't want it to be defined as a belief or philosophical position, is either absurdly naive or patently disingenuous. I call that special pleading.

Just who did Hitler think he was?

Hitler attempted the same paradigm shift that took place in Rome and later in Ireland, as the Gospel began to take root. For example, Christmas was changed to the celebration of Germany and the Nazi ideal. Taking on the name, Positive Christianity, Hitler assumed the role of the messiah and tried to start his own personality cult.

He actually banned Christian meetings, Christian schools, Christian radio broadcasts, the printing of Bibles and even had them burned. It is claimed that he was in good standing with the Catholic Church even though he sentenced priests by the thousands to one of his concentration camps. Meanwhile members of both the Catholic Church as well as the Confessing Church of Dietrich Bonhoeffer were independently plotting against Hitler's life. Now, if that's what "good standing" means, I'm not so sure anyone would want to be considered to be in "good standing."

My point for pointing out Hitler is because he is the classic case example of the fact that there is always more going on than what meets the eye. On one hand, Hitler made several references to God in his public addresses, while on the other hand expressing his disdain for Christianity in private. He also made numerous comments in Mein Kampf in regard to Darwin's social conflict over territory and survival. Mein Kampf actually translates to "My Struggle" in English. Perhaps Hitler's various reference to God weren't just made out of political expediency. Maybe he really did believe in some form of a God, but whatever it was, it certainly wasn't anything like the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This "struggle", that Hitler repeatedly spoke of, is what historians consider to be the single most defining issue behind the wars of yesteryear. The long territorial war over Israel in the middle east is nothing new. It has been only more recently that matters of ideology have become such a forefront issue of conflict; there was the Catholic/protestant conflict, the American and French revolutions, abolition of slavery, Marx's Communist Manifesto, etc. The bottom line, for all of the motivations behind wars, pro-religious motivations certainly is not at the top. And, for all the ideological wars, more were initiated from a natural material worldview than religious ones.

What about all this evil?

I would like to comment on the above by pointing out that many atheists are very very angry! I mean red hot angry! They're angry at Hitler and the Nazis, they're angry at the Jews, the Whites and the Blacks. And if the narcissists on Internet chat rooms are any indication, they've never been so angry at Christians then they have as of late, regarding the culture war. There are even some atheists that abandoned their once held belief in God because they are angry at God for allowing acts of evil. It's difficult to know what came first the anger or the disbelief.

Just hold it a minute, for atheists to become so angry about Hitler, leads one to recognize that the presence of evil is very real, including to atheists. And, even though they have no idea what to do with such a category, as they have yet to offer a serious foundation for defining evil, it is just not going away. Perhaps this was brought on recently by the culture wars in connection with homosexual rights and the sexual liberation movement, but that's another story.

My point here is, As human beings, even for the atheist, it becomes clear that it is impossible for us to keep from defining the actions of Adolf Hitler as evil. But by doing so, we must confront the fact that we are moral human beings and our sense of morality precedes our existence. In other words, Sarte is wrong, we do not get to define our selves. Try as we might, morality and justice is part of being human, it is just a brute fact. I'm not going to argue whether or not it is possible for someone to contrive a possible means of a moral sense by way of evolution, what I am arguing is that either God is real and there is a moral law Giver or the whole thing is nothing but an illusion. More can be said about this, but for now, let me just offer some food for thought from the quotable C.S. Lewis:
"Conscience reveals to us a moral law whose source cannot be found in the natural world, thus pointing to a supernatural Lawgiver." 

Wikipedia attributes the following moral argument to W. R. Sorley.

1. If morality is objective and absolute, God must exist.
2. Morality is objective and absolute.
3. Therefore, God must exist


For information on the Moral Argument,

1. Although I was not inferring an argument from dignity for the existence of God in the above, I still think it is worth sharing this interesting argument. It can be found on Standford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The entry is by C. Stephen Evans. The argument from human dignity is based on the work of Immanuel Kant and can be put into propositional form as follows:

1. Human persons have a special kind of intrinsic value that we call dignity.
2. The only (or best) explanation of the fact that humans possess dignity is that they are created by a supremely good God in God's own image.
3. Probably there is a supremely good God. 
Kant himself insisted that his argument was not a theoretical argument, but an argument grounded in practical reason. The conclusion of the argument is not “God exists” or “God probably exists” but “I (as a rational, moral agent) ought to believe that God exists.”