Kentucky Wildcats, Mega Millions, and Jesus

April 2, 2012

I’m pulling out an old posting today from a few years back, but just changed the information to fit with this years winner, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Well congratulations to Kentucky for winning their 8th national championship in basketball.  How did you do, our your brackets this year? Did you enter into any contests or competitions with friends? A few of the other youth pastors and I had a group and had a good time talking smack to each other. This year I picked 41 out of 63 possible games, had 3 of the final 4 teams in my bracket and picked Kentucky to win it all.  Pretty stupid considering that I didn’t watch a single college basketball came all season.

Every time March Madness rolls around I can’t help but to think about Jesus and the prophecies in the Bible. There is a lesson to be learned in the odds and mathematics of both the NCAA tournament and with Jesus fulfilling prophecy Here’s what I mean:

According to BookofOdds.com the odds of picking every single game in the tournament correctly are 1 to 35,360,000,000.  This is why some of the companies, like Dr Pepper and Yahoo.com, can afford to create excitement by offering a 1 Million Dollar prize if you enter and pick every single game correctly. It’s all about the odds for them and the money involved.  Playing the lottery has better odds in most cases.  Recently the MegaMillions Lottery had reached the highest it had ever been at an estimated 640 million dollars.   According to the official odds you had a better chance at winning the Mega Millions lottery because the odds at picking it were 1 to 175,000,000.  Much less than the NCAA brackets.

Well now that brings us to Jesus and the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. There are over 60 prophecies about this promised Messiah and details of His birth, birthplace, life, death, teachings, His nature, His resurrection, and events after burial, just to name a few. All these are documented in Josh McDowell’s foundational book called “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” or His updated version “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict” (chapter 8, pages 164-202) Josh McDowell was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but as he searched for answers he found out through his discoveries that indeed there was one true living God.

In McDowell’s reasearch he brings into the light the work of Peter Stoner in his book Science Speaks. Stoner does a great job at the probability and statistical mathematics of Jesus and fulfilled prophecy. Stoner took just 8 of the probabilities of the Jewish Messiah and figured out the odds at which Jesus or anyone would fulfill them. He came up with a rather large number. The odds were 1 in 10 to the 17 power. That would be a 1 with 17 zero’s after it. [1,00,000,000,000,000,000 ] Stoner gives a great visual example of that number, because it is so big and hard for us to wrap our minds around. Imagine that you fill the entire state of Texas with Silver Dollars 2 feet high. You mark one Dollar with an “X” and then blindfold a man and have him take one guess and find the one dollar with a “X” on it. Keep in mind that this is only 8 of the prophecies and not the entire lot. Stoner’s research has been examined for years now and the mathematics in his work has been found to be solid.

Well, where do we go from here? Let me just encourage you whether you are a believer or not, to take a closer look at the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I am quiet sure you will see something different with Him than with any other religious leader in the world. There is a difference with Jesus because He was who He claimed to be, God.

As always your comments, questions, snide remarks are welcome.


The Evolution of Evolution

March 21, 2012

I want to spend a few posts examining the claims of evolution and breaking it down piece by piece, but before I do that I want to give you a basic understanding of what evolution is and how it has changed over the years.  Evolution is one the most popular alternative answers to the question of where did we come from, outside of a theistic of creation answer.  A 2010 gallop poll has shown that 40% of Americans believe in creation, 38% believe that a supernatural being created the world through the process of evolution, and 16% believe in a naturalist evolution without the help of the supernatural. 1

Evolution Belief ChartThe word evolution can mean different things depending on who is using the word.  Evolution simply means a change over time.  People often speak of the evolution of a certain model of car or how computer technology has evolved.  Most people think about the evolution in biology when they hear or use the term.  When you discuss evolution it is important to understand the distinction between two different types of evolutionary.  Micro-Evoluion where minor changes within a species (family group) occur, but do not give rise to new gene material.  I call this type of evolution adaptions.  We see this everyday within varieties of plants and animals such as dogs, frogs, garden vegetables, and trees for example.  Macro-evolution is  larger scale change from species (family group) to another species (family group) that is more complex and higher through mutation and natural selection.  No one has ever witnessed this type of evolution before and this is the type of evolution that is claimed through Darwin’s theory.  From this point forward, when you see the word Evolution, it will refer to Macro-Evolution.

Evolution is a purely physical/naturalistic explanation to the origin of life on earth and of all matter in the known universe.  Charles Darwin has been known as the Father of evolution, but he wasn’t the first to contemplate a purely physical origin, during the fourth and fifth centuries some Greek philosophers like Thales, Leucippus, and Democritus had detailed explanations of how the universe came together through random forces rather than by design. 2  Darwin also had a partner, Alfred Wallace, who worked with Darwin on the theory of evolution, but Wallace began to doubt it was adequate to explain obvious features of the human race.  You don’t hear much of Wallace and His disagreement with Darwin now.

About 30 years ago the theory of Evolution begin to be looked at more closely by public and private school systems  because of the rise of Christian apologists in the mid-century that began to challenge the views of Evolution.  Parents and school boards had Evolution taken out of school textbooks or demanded that other textbooks that taught other ideas like Intelligent Design as equally as Evolution to be used.  This seem to waken those who supported Evolution like Dawkins, Hawking, Dennett, and Harris, to push back even harder with newer evidences and proofs with the new advancements that science was making recently.  Many of these newer evidences are published in scientific journals, books, web blogs and are used by many highschool and university teacher to continually bombard students through indoctrination.  Most of the scientific claims today that are labeled “support for Evolution” are speculative at best, leaving the majority of the proof on assumptions and premises.  They are lean on supporting facts and rely on your presuppositions and how you interpret the data.  I can back up that last thought with the evidence that despite all this “new” evidence for Evolution the debate still wages on.  The case had not been closed in the slightest.  Open-minded intelligent theists are not abandoning their beliefs in support of evolution.  You can reference this in the Gallop chart.

The New Atheists have been on the offense as of late to attempt to snuff out any religious beliefs by Christians. Their words towards religious beliefs have been harsh.  Richard Dawkins has even had a college circuit speaking tour where has offered a debaptizing ceremony for those who wish to renounce their faith in God. 3  The boldness at which these new claims are being made by those who support Evolution is very high.  It reminds me of the axiom, that “the bigger and more important the lie, often the greater the enthusiasm of which it must be sold with.”  Not to worry though, because there are a new group of well-educated Christians in both the field of science and philosophy that have risen to the challenge by the New Atheists.

Over the next few posts I will examine Evolution  and break down the processes and talking points that many supporters of Evolution use to champion their beliefs.  Evolution must account for three “Big Bangs;” the origin of matter, the origin or life, and the origin of our consciences.  We will also look at the processes like genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, non-random mating, as well as natural selection.  If you don’t understand those words, don’t worry I will explain them to you one at a time in future posts.  If you support evolution and have something you want me to look at please leave a comment here and I will add it to the list of topics of discussions with Evolution.  I will do my best to give you an accurate view of Evolution, I don’t want to try to make any red-herrings out of the other side of the argument.  As always your questions, comments, and discussions are welcomed.

Biography

1 – http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/Evolution-Creationism-Intelligent-Design.aspx

2- Sherrod, Chris – Fact, Faith, and Reason Study #5 The Flaws of Evolution, pg. 27

3 – Marrow, Jonathan; McDowell, Sean – Is God Just A Human Invention?


Classification of Knowledge

October 26, 2011

If you have had apologetic conversation with others that disagree with your Christian worldview you may have come across a someone who rejects your  Christian worldview solely on the premise that your knowledge is not empirical knowledge.  Empirical knowledge is knowledge that comes  through experience with the 5 senses or the scientific method.  Perhaps it is the strongest level of knowledge, but it is not the only type of knowledge.  In fact, it makes up a very small percentage of a persons total  knowledge in whole.  Before you disagree with my last sentence, think about all you know and how you came to “know it” especially in the realm of science and biology.  You most likely have read several books on the subject rather than done the empirical experiments and experienced it yourself.   Empirical knowledge is not absolute either, there is no way to be able to claim total absolute knowledge unless we had total transcendence in life.

What are the different classifications (types) of knowledge that we have at our disposal?  Below are some of the different classifications and some examples of knowledge.  I want to note that these are my classifications, ones that I have seen in use by people and in the general ways that most people use the terms today.  I am not attempting to give a breakdown of proper Epistemology.

Ideological – This relates to knowledge that is a priori (before experience) that usually comes as concepts or ideas from the human mind and is philosophical.  Reason is often the center of ideology.

Empirical –   This relates to knowledge that is a posteriori (after experience) through the 5 senses or the scientific method.  An example might be that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

Experiential – This relates to knowledge gained through the 5 senses.  It does not have to be in a scientific method.  It can relate to an individual or a group of people.  i.e. personal experience or say human experience.  An example might be that it gets colder at night when the sun is not up.

Logical – This type of knowledge is often used with in  philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science.  It often looks at the arguments that are being made and looks for fallacies in what is inferred by statements to determine truth.  An example of logical knowledge would be that a woman is either pregnant or not pregnant, because she cannot be both at the same time.

Rational – This type of knowledge is a combination of Ideology and Empirical knowledge in that knowledge can be rationalized by past prior empirical knowledge or experience.   An example might be that if I had wings I might be able to fly like a bird.

Historical –  This type of knowledge is a combination of some of the types of knowledge listed above.  It can no longer  be proven through the scientific method or through repeat experience.  It may be based on physical evidence that we have knowledge of by writings, audio and video recordings, or other people’s experience.  An example might be that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

These types of knowledge above are often used in debates and discussions between different worldviews.   The Christian worldview is unique in that it can be a part of all these different types of areas of knowledge and does not fall apart unlike some of the other worldviews when you attempt to debate in one of these areas of knowledge above.  Over time I will cover the specifics of that statement.

Occasionally I have found that when a religious discussion gets to the point of not accepting knowledge outside of empirical knowledge it is because they do not want to deal with the other logical and rational explanations that are being brought forth in an argument.  This is a flawed approach to knowledge that is impossible to live out in life.   If you feel like this is being used on you to avoid responding to your statements, here is how you can show them that there statement is flawed.

When someone says that “Empirical knowledge is only knowledge that counts as knowledge” ask them for the empirical evidence that backs up their statement of belief about empirical knowledge.  There is none.  Therefore you don’t have to accept their statement of belief about empirical knowledge.  Ask, them, “If you don’t have any empirical evidence, then why should I believe you?”  They make a deadly flaw by stepping outside of empiricism trading on reason and philosophy while claiming only empiricism.

Many people put their guard up during a discussion, and will not be intellectually honest with you about what they accept as knowledge.  If you have built a relationship with the person, you can listen to them make statements that don’t agree with their own ideology about knowledge.  You should take advantage of the opportunity to ask them to explain themselves or to clarify what they just said against their own understanding related to knowledge.  For example, Your friend says that they believe that Green Bay is going to when the Super Bowl this year.  You can ask them what empirical knowledge that they have to assure then of that statement.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.


The Teleological Argument

October 22, 2011

The Teleological Argument or the Argument to Design is another argument attempting proof of God’s existence based upon the premise that the universe is designed, and therefore needs a designer:  God.  The argument has also been called Intelligent Design (ID) by the newer generation of Christian apologists.

The beginning ideas of a argument for design began around 400- 300 b.c. with thinkers like Socrates and Aristotle.  The first Teleological arguments had its classical Christian roots back in the 3rd and 4th century with Thomas Aquinas in his greatest work Summa Theologica.

In the early 19th century William Paley illustrated a watch maker analogy that is still used today as an example.  A summary of his analogy is as follows: Think about the complexity of a pocket watch.  All the tiny gears, and parts that are inside it that are perfectly sized and fit together to form a watch that tells time accurately.  It is a complex machine that was designed by a designer.  Would you imagine placing all the individual parts to the pocket watch in a bag and shaking them up randomly and then one day as you are shaking them up they fall into place and fit together to form a perfectly working pocket watch.

Any time you see specified complexity and intelligibility in the physical word you automatically assume a designer was behind it.  While it is of course possible, over a billions of years that after shaking a bag full of watch parts that they could fall into place and form a perfectly working pocket watch, your first instinct would be that someone designed it to be that way.   Apologist Ravi Zacharias uses the following illustration:  Imagine you go into space and visit a planet that you have never been to before.  Upon arrival you see a note on the planet that says “Hello John.  I’ve been waiting for you, what took you so long?”  You would never in a million years assume that letter appeared by random chance.

Over the last half century the Teleological Argument has been often misrepresented by some theists with examples that have not stood the advancement of science.  This comes from assumptions from theists that try to explain unanswered scientific questions in biology.  Those of us who hold a theistic worldview need to be careful when we try to say that something cannot be explained any more, and therefore God must have designed it.  Advancements on science can make theists look ignorant or weaken the Teleological Argument.

For example Darwin was intrigued by the complexity of the human eye.  After studying the eye, Darwin saw no way that the eye could have evolved given the fact that in order for the eye to function properly it would need all the separate parts (pupal, retina, lens, optic nerve, etc. ) working together.  In other words, why would the eye start to evolve if there was no benefit of sight yet.  Christians were quick to jump on this type of example and say that the irreducible complexity of the eye, among other examples, was proof that God was the only was possible designer of these complex systems.   Recent scientific discoveries have given us answers that we thought were not answerable.   I will revisit the subject of irreducible complexity in a separate post and  go into more details.

There are however, better areas to use the Teleological argument in besides biology.  They are much more solid in the defense of a intelligent designer.  We will look at the Teleological Argument within the universe,  within  DNA, and within the laws of the universe  in sub-sequential posts over the next few posts.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Defining Terms: Premise & Conclusion

October 14, 2011

I always try to go back and explain terms that I use to make sure you understand the blog posts.  Perhaps I should do them before I post blogs, but that would require some extra planning and thoughtfulness, that I don’t have.  In a recent post, The Cosmological Argument, I used the following terms:

Premise – A proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn.  In logic, it is one of the propositions in a deductive argument.

Conclusion – The result or outcome of an act or process.  In logic it is a reasoned deduction or inference.

These two terms will help you hone your debate and conversation skills with others.  While people may not outright label their debates and discussions with these words, they definitely use them.  Part of your job as a good apologist is to listen to what people are saying and be able to pick out their premises that lead to their conclusions.   Only after you know what their premise and conclusions are will you be able to examine their arguments for truth and coherence.  You may be able to show someone how their faulty conclusion is faulted based on one of their premises.

If you have two opposing conclusions that fit into the law of excluded middle.  (For example, Conclusion 1: God does not exist.  Conclusion 2: God does exist.) one conclusion naturally is wrong.  It is then the task of those in debate or conversation to retrace the premises in the arguments to decide whether the premises or the inferences are true or faulty.  Thus the discussions began.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.


Defining Terms: Law of Non-Contradiction

October 5, 2011

Law of Non-Contradiction
2 statements are made that contradict each other.  One must be true and the other must be false.  For example: “There is only one God.” and “There are multiple Gods.”  These statements contradict one another and therefore one must be false.

Ravi Zacharias often uses this example:
A husband and wife are going for a walk down the street for a walk together. They meet another couple on their walk and stop to talk to each other.  One of the other people make a statement “”I hear that both of you are pregnant.”   Immediately  together the wife says “yes” and husband says “no.”  The other couple is confused and waiting for an explanation.  Perhaps she is pregnant, and he doesn’t know yet, or perhaps there is a problem in the marriage.  Whatever the reason a woman cannot be both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time.

This law will keep a person honest when it comes to several things in apologetics.  It will also help someone who is hesitant to make a judgment about a position to decide where they stand on it.  For example in future posts we will discuss evidence that the universe had a beginning.  According to the law of non-contradiction  the universe either had a beginning or it did not.  Atheists have motives for not wanting the universe to have a beginning, because ever effect has a cause.  Christians gladly point to God as the first cause.  Even the Big Bang Singularity points to a beginning, even though it is not accepted by many Christians.    That’s why physicists like Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose are continuing to work on other alternative theories about the origin of the universe.