Defending Life

On The 45th Anniversary of Roe-v-Wade

January 22nd marks the 45th anniversary of what I consider to be the most dreadful Supreme Court decision in U.S. history. Since 1973, it has directly resulted in the deaths of nearly 60 million unborn children. For that reason, I would like to encourage everyone to consider how well you are able to defend the pro-life view — not in anger, but with an equal mix of truth and grace. If you’re anything like me, you could always improve your game and I would like to offer you help in doing so.

The links below are to two invaluable books that will equip you to make the case for the pro-life view in an easy-to-understand, very relatable way. One (The Case For Life), is for anyone. The other (Stand For Life) is intended specifically for high school and college age students. Both are the work of my friend, Scott Klusendorf, who is probably the most effective pro-life apologist in the country. You can order them directly from Amazon.com at the links at the bottom of this post.

If you live in the Cincinnati area, I will be conducting a pro-life training seminar at my home church on February 11, 2018. Anyone is welcome to attend.

“Making The Case For Life”
5962 Hamilton-Mason Road | Liberty Township, Ohio | 45069
Upper Worship Center
12:00 pm | February 11, 2018
Topics to be discussed
  • Is the Bible silent on the issue of abortion?
  • How do we make the case for life with those who don’t care what the Bible says about anything?
  • How do we clarify what we mean by moral reasoning?
  • What is the “One Question” that really matters in the abortion debate?
  • What makes human beings valuable?
  • How do we handle common objections to the pro-life view?
  • What is our duty?

Manger. Seen.

There is an assumption in our modern, tech-centered society that all of us have tacitly accepted whether we are openly “religious” or not. It is an assumption born in the Enlightenment and nurtured through a few hundred years of modern philosophy, medical breakthroughs, and technological innovation. The assumption is this: The physical world is all that really exists. The logical follow-on to that assumption is that science — and only science — will eventually solve all our problems and provide us answers to our most profound questions. This, as I have discussed many times, is the foundation of the Naturalistic/Materialistic worldview. Though many of us claim not to accept this view, and though we may even vehemently argue against it, it is a difficult assumption to overcome because it is built into the fabric of our culture.

When we hear of an inexplicable healing, or an answered prayer, or an eerie “coincidence,” our initial reaction is to seek a scientific explanation. Though we study and do our best to honor and defend a high view of Scripture, we secretly wonder if the walls of Jericho really just fell down; if the Red Sea really parted, or (though we would be loathe to admit it) if Jesus really rose from the dead. “Miracles, really? Come on, man.” We are hard-wired to be skeptical of that kind of thing. “Test everything. Hold on to the good,” the apostle Paul told us, and we are happy to take him up on it.

There is nothing wrong with that tendency. In fact the Bible, unlike any other holy book, repeatedly encourages it. But when we look out at the world to analyze it we see not just its physical makeup, but the unmistakable aspects of our existence that we cannot see, taste, hear, touch, or smell. The world we live in is not limited to material things. Numbers, and concepts, and meaning, and values, and morals are not physical, but every one of them is real. That’s because ultimate reality is not physical — it is spiritual. The Christian worldview encompasses both the physical and the non-physical. We have a body and a soul. They are not separated; they are integrated.

So while the various types of Monists insist that the world is either composed of nothing but physical stuff, or that physical stuff is an “illusion” that separates us from an all-encompassing divine mind, we can look out and see that both of them are wrong. Whatever explains the ultimate reality of our existence, it must account for both.

And so we celebrate Christmas …

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‘He was only an atheist.’

‘I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,’ said the Inspector, politely.

‘He only wanted to abolish God,’ explained Father Brown in a temperate and reasonable tone. ‘He only wanted to destroy the Ten Commandments and root up all the religion and civilization that had made him, and wash out all the common sense of ownership and honesty; and let his culture and his country be flattened out by savages from the ends of the Earth. That’s all he wanted. You have no right to accuse him of anything beyond that.’

~ G. K. Chesterton
The Crime of the Communist

Atheism, Communism, G. K. Chesterton
The Complete Father Brown Mysteries

Origins: A Reasonable Explanation For Reason Itself

Where Does Consciousness Originate?

When it comes to explanations for origins, the origin of the universe seems to be the logical place to begin the discussion. That’s where I usually start. But as a way of transitioning from the previous topic of morality, I will take a different approach and first consider where reason and logic come from at all.

Think about it (pun intended). The very fact that we can have a discussion about the nature of morality, or the origin of the universe — or anything at all — means that we have the capacity to consider alternative ideas. Ideas are not physical things. So, how can we do that? What is it about the physical neurons that make up our brains transmitting electro-chemical signals back and forth that gives us the ability to compare alternatives between non-physical things like concepts and ideas? How do we explain “intentionality” or free will?

The one thing about this life that we know and experience directly and without any doubt is the awareness of the “self.” We know we exist because we experience the physical realities of the world. But just who is it that has these experiences? There seems to be something about “us” that cannot be explained by the physical stuff we can see, touch, taste, hear, or smell, and it is something for which a purely physical, atheistic universe cannot even begin to account.

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Ethics: The Case For A Good God

If God Is So Good, Why So Much Evil?

In the last post, we saw why the undeniable existence of evil does nothing to undermine the case for the existence of God. On the contrary, the fact that we can identify evil in the world is proof that there must be some kind of objective standard for calling it so — and that objective Standard is what we call God.

But that doesn’t end the debate (in case you haven’t noticed). There’s a reason this whole topic is usually referred to as “the problem of evil.” It’s a problem for sure. But remember, it’s a problem for everyone and everyone wants an explanation. The point of the last post was to show that evil eliminates atheism as an explanation because atheism can’t explain the basis for judging anything as evil in the first place. It turns out atheism has no basis for saying anything is wrong, or bad, or evil beyond the fact that atheists don’t like it.

Evil is proof that God exists.

Theism is the only game in town but it leaves us with the burden of trying to understand — with all the evil things we see go on in the world — why a good God is more plausible than an evil God?

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Ethics: The Reality Of Objective Good

Evil Proves God

“Ethics” sits at the base of our diagram for a reason: If you have any intention of training yourself or others to defend the truth of Christianity, this topic is the most likely source of skepticism, disillusionment, debate, and objection you will ever encounter. Why is there evil in the world if God is so good? How could a good God allow all this pain and suffering? Who are you to say what’s right and wrong?

You will confront this issue in various forms but, no matter how it is presented to you, there are two main points that you should always keep in mind as you attempt to address them.

  1. Complaints about evil assume that there is actual evil in the world.
  2. Every worldview needs to be able to explain it.

It is vitally important that you always keep these two points tied together because every complaint you will ever hear used to argue against God’s existence, or to justify some moral point of view other than the theistic one, violates one of them. The goal (as always) is to show that theism is the most reasonable explanation for the existence of evil in the world and for our ethical solutions to our moral dilemmas.

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A Way To Simplify The Big Picture

The Cumulative Case for Christianity

If you want to be able to train others — even if it’s just your own family — to be able to make the case for the truth of Christianity, you have to understand it yourself. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you do that. I will share the best ones I know of in the series of posts that follow. But before I start, I want to offer a “big picture” that you can always keep in the back of your mind as you think about the different categories of evidence. If you’re anything like me, pictures help do that. So, I have tried to simplify things in the diagram at right.

This is simply a way to organize the evidence in your mind’s eye.

Foundational Evidence For Theism

The brown categories at the bottom of the diagram offer us the basic evidence for the existence of some kind of a theistic God — a God who is real and interacts with the universe in which we live. I have boiled this down into three basic categories that give evidence for the type of God who is a personal, moral agent who must exist outside the physical universe, but is also able to act within it. The evidence contained in these three foundational categories is the only explanation for the following characteristics of our world:

  • It is a world in which we all recognize that real, moral truths exist and that they are constantly being violated
  • It is an actual, physical thing that came into existence sometime in the finite past
  • Whatever/whoever caused the beginning of the universe could not have been a part of the physical universe itself
  • It is designed to allow for, and sustain, the existence of living things
  • Some of those living things are beings who have moral, mental, and physical attributes

Obviously, there is a lot to each of these topics and I will provide resources to support each of them, but the takeaway is simply that our claim to believe that there is a God is not based on some kind of wishful thinking or irrational hope. It is based on evidence — concrete evidence about the way the world actually is.

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“That ‘Nones’ May Not Perish”

Click on the picture at left to listen to my interview with Melanie Cogdill of the Postmodern Realities Podcast about who the “nones” are and how we can think about trying to reach them.

Date: September 10, 2017
Appearance: “That ‘Nones’ May Not Perish”
Outlet: Postmodern Realities Podcast #49
Format: Podcast

The Cries That Bind

Why Doubt Puts Us In Good Company

Twenty years ago, on August 31, 1997, Princess Diana died in a tragic crash in Paris in a car with her boyfriend while her husband and two children waited for her in London. Five days later, Mother Teresa of Calcutta died due to complications that apparently developed after a decades-long battle with heart disease that worsened with her contracting malaria the year prior. Over the next three months Princess Diana graced the covers of the major news magazines Newsweek and others at least nine times. The world grieved. Her story led the evening news every night and her funeral was broadcast live to millions. Sir Elton John even re-wrote a song for her.

Meanwhile, Mother Teresa barely warranted mention in the news tsunami that left her swamped behind the flash and glitz of the princess. This said more about our cultural values than Mother Teresa ever could have said herself.

But this week that changed. Suddenly, Mother Teresa is newsworthy … the lead story no less … cover material. This week Mother Teresa has even supplanted the backwash tsunami of the ten-year remembrance of Diana’s death. But it is not the ten-year remembrance of Mother Teresa that the press has found so marketable. It is not even a belated appreciation for her 60 years of work with the poor and dying in India.

No, what is so tantalizingly important about her now is that she had a “crisis of faith” that has recently been revealed in letters which she had specifically requested not be made public, but rather destroyed. (Funny how the press’s commitment to its sources’ privacy changes from time to time — especially when they can scoop a story like this one). The hook, you see, is that Mother Teresa, a world-renown icon of religious commitment, sometimes questioned her faith.

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