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.

Since we have evidence that there is a God and that this God’s attributes must be consistent with the evidence listed above, it follows and that one of the theistic religions must be true. In order to determine which of the theistic religions is true, we need more specific information.

Specific Evidence For Christianity

The blue categories at the top of the diagram are what allow us to differentiate Christianity from the other theistic religions. Here, we look at data from archaeology, history, and compare the manuscript evidence from those religions in order to identify which of them is true. This is where the strength of the case for Christianity shines. No other religion even comes close to having the amount of evidence to support:

  • The existence of its primary historical figure — Jesus of Nazareth
  • The archaeological relics that support its story from the very beginning
  • A world-changing event — the Resurrection — that is central to its claims
  • The number of manuscripts that verify its authenticity and reliability

That’s the case for Christian Theism in a nutshell.

This simple diagram gives us a way to categorize the reasons we have for believing the Christian story of reality — reasons that are based in factual evidence. We can be confident that our faith is justified, not because it makes us feel good about ourselves, or because it “works for us,” but because it is actually true!

Now for the hard part.

If you aren’t already familiar with the information above, it won’t seep into your brain through osmosis. You have to be dedicated to familiarizing yourself with it. In the posts that follow, I will give you resources — videos, articles, and books — to help fill in the details of each of these categories of evidence. But remember, you don’t have to become a biblical scholar and master every subject listed above in order to prepare yourself and those you love to use them. You simply have to understand the basics and be willing to go find answers. In the meantime, here are some fundamental things to understand about what this all means and how to use it:

  1. Knowing “facts” gives you confidence to engage with others but, in the cultural climate we live in, citing facts will rarely convince others to change their minds.
  2. Your attitude may go further than your evidence in compelling others to consider what you’re saying.
  3. Asking questions is almost always more effective than making statements.
  4. Telling your story is vastly more interesting than regurgitating another person’s data.

Finally, always remember that you are not meant to convince people to agree with you. You are not the one who leads them to the truth. You are not the one who saves them. You are responsible for “giving a reason for the hope you have” and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest. You are only meant to train those in your little corner of the world to be prepared to engage people in a winsome way.

That’s your “job.” And when you’ve done it, relax … and let God do His.

 

Meet J. Warner Wallace

Christian Case-Maker

If you haven’t heard of J. Warner (Jim) Wallace, do yourself a favor and bookmark his website: Cold Case Christianity. It is a fantastic resource, and Jim is a fantastic apologist whose clarity and attitude should inspire us all to “bloom where we’re planted” as defenders of our Christian convictions. Jim is a retired cold-case detective from the Los Angeles police department who has been featured on several segments of NBC’s Dateline for solving murder cases many years after others gave up on them. Jim used to be a self-described “obstinate atheist” who looked at Christianity as a myth and Christian believers as intellectually weak fools.

Then he applied his cold-case detective skills to a study of the Christian faith. The result is that Jim has developed an engaging, unique approach to Christian apologetics.

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An Unexamined Faith

In the spirit of open discussion and a defense of an approach to faith issues that is predicated on thinking for one’s self, I dug up an old USA Today article that demonstrates what I believe to be an important distinction between the culturally accepted view (that faith amounts to an unjustified “blind leap”) and the biblical view that faith is a thoughtful act of trust. This story, published several years after the 9-11 terrorist attack [linked here: Those Touched Most Deeply By 9/11, A Turning Point In Faith], provides a short but telling insight into the way many approach issues of faith in our culture. The gist of the piece is that the tragedy of 9/11 had a significant impact — in both directions — on the faith of those who were personally affected by the terrorist attacks.

The “violence and pain” of the worst terrorists attack in history brought out not only the dangers of religious fanaticism, but the problem that all religions must face in addressing the problem of evil in our world. As the article notes,

Many whose lives were changed that day are still coming to terms spiritually with 9/11. Some have taken comfort from their faith; others have found it lacking. Some have a stronger faith, a different faith or no faith at all.

I admit that this is nowhere near a scientific study of the issues surrounding how people consider their faith (or lack of it), but I do believe the anecdotal evidence in this story reveals a lot about how many approach the topic. A few examples …

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An Embarrassing Week For The Priests of Darwinian Scientism

It’s been a bad few days for the Priests of the Church of Darwin.

First, consider the pivotal example of resistance to malaria that Michael Behe used in his book, The Edge of Evolution, to show that genetic cell mutations could not account for significant, species-protecting evolutionary improvements in a species and therefore undermined the supposed power of natural selection to create more “fit” variations in an organism’s genome. At the time, the likes of Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Kenneth Miller, Sean Carroll, and PZ Meyers — the high priest’s of scientism and Darwinian evolution — mocked Behe’s stupidity, his ignorance of how evolution works and the statistics they claimed he was misunderstanding.

Well, this week a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, confirm that Behe was, in fact, correct. Who wants to hold their breath waiting for an apology from these priests? My guess is that they will either pretend the study doesn’t matter, or create alternate “just-so stories” for how they were right all along and the neo-Darwinian myth still stands on solid ground.

Second, Fuz Rana reports that the hominid species, australopithecus sediba, which has been sold as a “key transitional species” in the evolution of modern humans, has been found (by actual fossil evidence) to be a fiction. Considering the historical precedent of the priests of Evolution to create and perpetuate mythology, this comes as just the latest in a list of “surprises” that actually only surprise the priesthood — who then go on to explain them away or pretend they’re still true and publish pictures of them in the text books our children use in school.

Finally, the journal Nature reports that research using well-preserved Cambrian fossils of sea creatures show that their neural architecture is no substantially different from the ancestors that exist today (velvet worms). They haven’t changed after more than a billion years of “evolution.” In other words, when comparing the Darwinian model of gradual, new-species-producing change with the theistic model of the sudden appearance of species, followed by stasis (no change), and extinction … guess which one matches the actual evidence?  (Thanks to Wintery Knight for this one)

If you’re interested in keeping up with stories like this, check out Reasons To Believe’s DAILY update: Today’s New Reason To Believe (TNRTB). But, in the meantime, please notice that in each of these stories, the actual evidence undermines the pronouncements of the priests of Darwinian scientism and supports the model proposed by intelligent design proponents. The priests of Darwin make up stories that prove to be false, then taunt theists for operating on “blind faith.”

Ironic don’t you think?

Evolution As Myth (Part 5 of 5)

The final Evolution as Mythology post is up (here). Please take the time to read it. This has been a fantastic series of articles by some serious experts and each is definitely worth taking the time to read. I will offer a quick summary here but that alone does not do this series of articles justice. This is the kind of information every serious Christian should have stored in the immediate access area of their brain. If you can remember nothing else, remember these three points:

Evolution is no different from any other myth

A myth may be true or false, but its principle characteristic is that it validates the thinking, practices, and ideals of a culture. Evolution explains our existence within the framework of our modern culture of naturalism, which has no need for a god. A myth cannot be proved, or disproved, with the technology of the culture; a myth requires faith.

In this case, it requires faith to buy into the unrepeatable requirement for abiogenesis, the elusive wishfulness that goes with panspermia (of any variety), or the baseless assertion of macro-Evolution is a “fact.” Like any other myth, Evolution requires the true believer to suspend disbelief in order to accept it.

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Evolution as Myth (Part 4 of 5)

In this installment of the Myth of Evolution, the authors delve into the differences between micro-evolution (adaptation) and macro-Evolution. Here are the definitions they offer of each:

Microevolution (n): Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies.

Macroevolution (n): Large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups.

As I have discussed before, the former is not controversial while the latter has no evidential support. But in the Evolutionary Mythology, the former must lead to the latter. That is the crux of the theory. Intermediary fossils should offer us a historical picture of just how this occurred.

If this tree of life grew as claimed, we should find literally billions upon billions of “intermediate” forms of life fossilized all over the Earth. The patterns we would expect to uncover should show barely detectable differences in body forms as plants and animals made the minute transformation between their original and current forms. Not only so, but the pattern formed by those billions of fossils should also reveal the equally minute transformation of life from the simplest form (originating in the “warm little pond”) to the most complex advanced life we are surrounded by today (you).
So what do we find? In the 150 years since Darwin proposed this idea, the lack of transitional fossil evidence is the most glaring deficiency in Evolutionary Theory. There simply isn’t any. Though Darwinian devotees are quick to run some of their “missing links” up the media flagpole, the examples they use are lame to insufficient.

Or, as Phillip Johnson puts it, “…if Evolution means the gradual change of one kind of organism into another kind, the outstanding characteristic of the fossil record is the absence of evidence for [Macro]-evolution.” (Darwin on Trial, 50)

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