Armchair Apologetics (response to driveby critics)

A brief summary compiled in response to some anonymous comments.
For someone who says “I don’t know” a lot, you certainly seem keen to classify God/religion as something imaginary or irrational.

From the evidence available to me I sincerely think (and believe) that God IS. I have not made a priori commitments to this position. I have spent years considering, questioning, and attempting to understand the truth claims of the Christian worldview (amongst others). It requires a degree of independent thinking to remain steadfast in the Christian faith in a culture soaked in secular humanism such as NZ. But I do find a great deal of comfort from the words of the Psalmist and the prophet Isaiah, and I have been privileged to experience the redemptive, healing power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and countless revelations of His love.

Some evidence which points to a Creator:
Existence ex nihilo. Order from chaos. Life from non-life. Mind from matter. A chain of millions of coincidences, culminating in mankind. Creation is striving upwards — as Paul Davies said, the Universe appears to be specifically designed for humans to arise. Frances Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, is a Christian who asserts that the vast complexity of the DNA molecule is powerful evidence for a Maker.

But beyond cosmology and biology there is also very strong evidence in history, archaeology, anthropology, psychiatry, philosophy, and the arts. The Christian faith has motivated immeasurable contributions to humanity. For specific evidence for the divinity of Christ, consider the hundreds of documented eyewitnesses, the empty tomb, the miraculously explosive growth of the early churches, the documented miracles of the apostles, the willingness of thousands of believers to face death at the hands of the Romans.

a) cosmology: the universe is apparently fine-tuned for life to appear. To claim an Intelligent Designer is far more sensible than MWI speculations.

b) philosophy/logic: it is rather absurd to claim that something came from nothing; God is the First Cause (Danyl’s naturalistic objections fail to answer WHY there are laws of nature in the first place).

c) history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a VERY strongly attested historical event. Personal eyewitness accounts, willingness of apostles to die, explosive growth of the early Church. Not to mention fulfilled prophecy (eg. Isaiah, Psalms), divine intervention throughout history of Israel (eg. Exodus)

d) biblical authenticity: sheer weight of archaeological evidence, corroborating documents, and blessings upon human society. Not to mention the beauty, consistency, and divine wisdom of the text itself. It’s the core document of the Western canon. Its influence on Western thought and society would be hard to overstate.

e) anthropology: Missionaries report the distribution of convenient myths seeded throughout unreached people groups, telling of the coming of white people with a book, or in sailing ships, or the death of God’s son, or a great deluge, or the loss of knowledge of the One True God

f) ongoing supernatural events: miraculous revivals of faith and mass conversions (Wales, S.Korea, Uganda, Zambia), numerous miraculous healings

g) the persecuted church: is growing in the midst of hostile environments such as Communist China and Islamic countries. The faithfulness and bravery of believers in the face of death is eloquent testimony to the glorious hope in Christ that has filled their souls.

h) Jaki showed that a Christian worldview was an essential crucible for the birth of modern science. It requires Faith: that nature obeys God’s laws, that mysterious events do not occur by a deity’s capricious whim, that Man has a mandate from his creator to use his brain, think independently, and inquire into the world around him. Scientists of all creeds are generally inspired by a sense of wonder at the mysteries of creation, and delight in fathoming the patterns of nature.

I have ample references for all of the above assertions.

The believing Jew or Christian does not feel the need to be embarrassed when materialists attack religion as ‘anti-scientific’ or irrational. For he regards his own beliefs as not less but far more rational than those of the materialist. He regards them as providing a fuller, more coherent, and more sensible picture of reality. A picture in which the existence of the universe is not merely some colossal accident, in which human life has both purpose and meaning, in which ideas about truth and falsehood and good and evil are more than chemical responses in our brains, and in which the beauty, harmony, and order of the universe, which science has helped us to see more clearly than ever before, are recognized as the product of a wisdom and a reason that transcends our own.

As Bryson unwittingly proved, it is rather absurd to claim that something came from nothing, and in the time it takes to make a ham sandwich at that.

Stephen Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

You’ll never get “absolute” proof of God, but two millennia of searingly honest, dedicated Christian scholarship have yielded a faith more robustly founded than ever.

Finally I should add:
All of the people that refuse to believe in God, are welcome to. It would just be nice if the tolerance for other people’s beliefs extended beyond a thin veneer. What is important, is how people ACT.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Further Reading:
The Weaknesses of Dawkins
Interview with Alvin J. Schmidt, author of “How Christianity Changed the World” (ISBN 0310264499)
POP goes the fulminating atheist bubble

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6 thoughts on “Armchair Apologetics (response to driveby critics)

  1. universe “fine tuned for life”
    is it? life seems to be a rarity…
    “absurd to claim that something came from nothing.”
    aren’t you claiming that an infinetly complex god came from nothing? once again, if your argument for god is “you think everything just popped out of nowhere?” then its equally valid for me to go “you think god just popped out of nowhere?” it isn’t proof when you just use god to fill in gaps of knowledge. (god-of-the-gap). i don’t know what caused the big bang. if you DON’T KNOW then you DON’T KNOW. god is always the default answer when people can’t easily understand things.
    “resurrection of jesus christ strongly attested historical event”
    ….um……no…
    “archaelogical evidence”
    i don’t deny that the bible has some historical context. but if some degree of history proves everything an equal claim could be made for the story of beowulf, the illiad and the greek gods, gone with the wind, indiana jones, islam, etc. and archaeologicaly doesn’t support every biblical claim.
    “divine wisdom”
    yes is has some wisdom, but not always. it speaks fondly of slavery, genocide, stoning to death disobient children, sexism, cruelty,etc.
    “for someone who says “i don’t know” alot you seem very keen to classify god/religion as imaginary or irrational”
    well i consider religion irrational especially. i mean come on, do you really think a 900 year old man got 2 of all the millions and millions of species onto a single boat? do you really think a guy lived inside a whale? over 60% of americans believe these stories literally.
    as for a god, i’m not convinced. i’m not impressed with this arguments that just point that just out things that can’t be easily understood/things we don’t have answers to yet. but i agree that i shouldn’t claim to know for a fact there is no god.

  2. you think god just popped out of nowhere?
    God is not temporal or bounded by causality, he did not come “from” anywhere. Read some philosophy & theology.

    it isn’t proof when you just use god to fill in gaps of knowledge. (god-of-the-gap)
    A God inference seems entirely reasonable based on the numerous independent lines of convergent evidence which I have already outlined. Reductionist materialistic explanations for everything strike me as rather petty and boring.

    Science can tell us many things. But it’s running out of the ability to even get to the bottom of things: infinite universes and mult-dimensionalities that we can never test or see. The honest scientists admit this is getting metaphysical, even philosophical. If they can get metaphysical, why can’t we get metaphysical? Science just cannot tell us everything that is true. And besides, aren’t we also interested in the Good and Beautiful? Will science give us the blueprints for those things? It can’t give us blueprints for reality as we live and experience it. Or maybe it’s all an evolutionary illusion? Where is the proof of that?

    Finally, science cannot answer the most important question that we have before us today: just exactly what is man? What are we for? If you’re limited to what’s in the bag of tools of science, then you’re [just] a beast.

    god is always the default answer when people can’t easily understand things.
    One thing I do not understand is why you are so confident that religion = ignorance. Are you aware of the richness of Christian scholarship, or that many of the greatest scientific minds produced by the human race were also Christians?

    i mean come on, do you really think a 900 year old man got 2 of all the millions and millions of species onto a single boat?
    No I don’t take the whole Bible literally. Many sincere people do, There are a lot of uneducated religious people with unsophisticated ideas, but that does not negate the faith itself.

  3. “God is not temporal or bounded by causality, he did not come “from” anywhere.”
    if absolutely everything needs a begining, then so does god.

    “One thing I do not understand is why you are so confident that religion = ignorance.”
    well, aren’t you skeptical of zeus, lord xenu(scientology), etc.?
    and one of the reasons that gave birth to the gods was ignorance of nature. gods were once needed to explain were the sun went at night, etc. the answer itself is an argument from ignorance; “i don’t know, this proves a god did it”. we are still doing the same thing in 2008.

    “great scientific minds produced by the human race were also Christians?”
    well there are plenty of atheist/agnostic scientists too…
    and doesn’t the christian bible describe a geocentric universe, 10,000 year old earth, etc? if you don’t take those parts literally, then i don’t understand why you take its other claims literally.

    “infinite universes and mult-dimensionalities that we can never test or see.”
    i don’t believe in the multi-verse stuff either. but i find it strange that you scoff at that, but are so certain of god. it’s an equally valid guess as a single entity called “god”. you can’t see or test the invisible man in the sky either.

    and i would like to apologize if i was rude in earlier posts. i don’t think anyone who believes in a god is stupid. i just disagree. peace-out.

  4. if absolutely everything needs a beginning, then so does god.
    So you are advocating an infinite regress of causes? That’s quite a faith statement. Conversely, theism would state that “absolutely everything needs a Beginning, and that beginning IS God.” God is the uncaused First Cause. He simply IS. You may not agree with theism, but it is *at least* as logically consistent as alternative speculations, which verge on the metaphysical also.

    “i don’t know, this proves a god did it”. we are still doing the same thing in 2008
    You seem to have bought into a narrative that God is some kind of primitive substitute for science, You have missed the point in a typical reductionist materialist fashion, religion and spirituality are human universals because we are made in the image of God. Remember you are a product of 21st century technological culture with a certain way of looking at things; but there is more to reality than atoms and mathematical equations.

    doesn’t the christian bible describe a geocentric universe, 10,000 year old earth, etc?
    No it doesn’t actually. This is the result of poor bible scholarship and perpetuated by pseudo-scientists who make money from the ignorant.

    but i find it strange that you scoff at that, but are so certain of god. … you can’t see or test the invisible man in the sky either.
    I didn’t scoff, I find cosmology fascinating. I am not claiming absolute certainty of God, but I do think theism best fits the evidence available to me. But my faith is not ultimately a matter of science and logic; it is a revelation of Divine Grace, and the foregoing is my humble attempt to make sense of the reality of God as I have experienced him.

  5. i think you missed the point of ?’s comments. if you keep asserting that an infinetly complex god didn’t come from anywhere, then its equally valid for him to assert that the universe didn’t come from anywhere. so why are you satisfied with the god answer? where did god come from?
    “he simply IS”
    equally valid: “the universe simply IS”.
    so isn’t the god explaination kinda pointless?

  6. Hi no name
    I’m pretty sure that “?” thinks the universe came from somewhere because he said “everything has a cause”. But yes, a God hypothesis is just as valid as other theories such as PUG, MWI, the eternal or oscillating universe.

    isn’t the god explaination kinda pointless?
    Perhaps to you it seems unnecessary. But to me LIFE seems rather pointless without a loving God giving us purpose and destiny.

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