I have often heard people say that apologetics isn’t necessary for faith. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. However, I also have heard people say that it’s silly to discuss apologetics; the spiritual aspect is all you need for faith. I disagree.
I myself came to Christ through spiritual means, I knew nothing about apologetics when going to my first church, a liberal Episcopalian one, when I was younger. My faith faltered for some time, and I came back to Christ officially and (practically) for the first time through the same means at my new church. But through my new church, I was introduced to a revolutionary concept (at least to secular society and in my mind); apologetics. I was fascinated by all the evidence for faith. I began to see the doubts I had disappear, as I learned about the scientific,philosophical, and logical evidence for Christianity.
One topic that particularly struck me was the scientific theory of Intelligent Design. I had grown up learning evolution, and it seemed like a pretty fool-proof theory. I was taught my whole life to believe humans evolved from apes, and that we all came from ONE single celled organism. What I never thought about back then were the enormous holes in this theory, holes in the fossil record and in the very concept of the theory that even bigoted Richard Dawkins could not deny. He once said something along the lines of the fossil record not being enough to explain evolutionary theory. Even Darwin himself recognized that his theory was outrageous, and could be disproven eventually. "…I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science.” said Darwin, of his theory.
Evolution was something that laid the groundwork for Dawkins’ own atheism, after growing up in the Anglican church, just as I did. He saw the ‘magnificence’ and beauty of evolution as an explanation for life, and it destroyed his faith. In that, we can see the obvious dangers of evolution on faith. It may not necessarily be a major threat, but it is a growing threat as secular society is continuously mystified with the illusion of evolution, and bullied into thinking that creationism and intelligent design are but imaginations of Christian lunatics and the nutty book of fairy tales they read for wisdom. It’s not even that us Christians are afraid of evolution because it challenges our beliefs, we are afraid it will wrongfully turn others away from the TRUE magnificence of Jesus Christ. One is still able to believe in evolution and be Christian, although it is silly, in my opinion. But for many, evolution has become somewhat of a new “religion”. People would rather take a leap of faith believing that we all evolved from one organism (that came from WHERE?) in a highly incomplete fossil record than believe in the supernatural aspect, intelligent design, which has thus far proven to be a very likely alternative to evolution.
For more clarification on this danger of evolution on faith, read:
Dangers of Evolution on Faith
Even still, with all the knowledge of apologetics in the world one must actively be seeking God in order to receive Him into their heart. But as I have found, the knowledge of apologetics can really convince someone to take that step and actively seek Him out.
This is why talking about apologetics is so important. It can help lead someone to Jesus Christ, and show them that the Bible is not a nutty book of fairy tales. If I have even led one person to Christ through my knowledge of apologetics, it would all be worth it. This is why I idolize and admire people like Dr. William Lane Craig; he has brought people to Christ and strengthened other’s faiths through his work, debate, speech, and so on. His own quest for spiritual truth brought him to bring out the truth he found in apologetics to the world, and I desire most of all to help him share that truth, all because of Jesus! I will never forget the verse he wrote on my book when I met him:
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
-2 Corinthians 10:5
This verse is very powerful to me; it speaks to me on so many levels. But most of all I think it really shows God’s approval of apologetics in bringing people to Christ. I may not always be perfect as Jesus was, but I constantly strive to share his gospel so that others may know his amazing love as I do. I urge you, as Christians, share the gospel, share the truth, share apologetics.
Posted by Caitie Bendall
In a similar vein as Clay Jones’s upcoming luncheon on the slaughter of the Canaanites, I thought I would provide some resources on this very problem. Below are listed a number of links to various attempts to reconcile this occurrence with God’s good nature.
Is Yahweh a Moral Monster - Paul Copan
Is God a Moral Monster; book - Paul Copan
Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites - Paul Copan
More will be added soon!
Post by Basil
December 6th we will be hosting a Luncheon in the AS Conference room at 12:00 pm with Clay Jones. Chapel credit will be offered. Clay Jones is an associate professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. “He [f]ormerly hosted Contend for Truth, a call-in nationally syndicated talk radio program. On his program he debated many people over eight years including John Cobb, Jr.; a professor of Buddhism; Jamal Badawi, Islamic Information Institute; a Muslim cleric; Lee Holzinger, Church of Scientology; Mormons; Jehovah’s Witness Greg Stafford; Dallas Blanchard, RCRC; Peta representatives; a euthanasia advocate; a secular humanist, Rep. Loretta Sanchez; KFI talk show host Bill Handle; Jimmy Creech, SoulForce; Bruce Ware; R. C. Sproul, Jr.; Robert Morey; R. Scott Clark; and a KJV only advocate. Dr. Jones was the executive director of Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law School) has been on the pastoral staff of two large churches; has authored apologetic software as well as encyclopedia and journal articles; is writing a book, Why God Allows Evil, and speaks widely on that subject.” He will be speaking on whether the killing of the Canaanites in the book of Joshua was genocide - whether it was a justified killing. Come out to find out how we as Christians can deal with this extremely difficult issue.
Posted by Basil
In Bertrand Russell’s famous lecture Why I am not a Christian, he exclaims, “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.”
Before I respond, you ought to listen to part of this discussion between Russell and a talk show host ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQJ3sqkdCRE). Now go back and read his quote above. You have his voice in your head now don’t you? Was there any more purpose to that exercise? Not explicitly, no. Be happy that you can invoke the memorable, even quintessential, Brit’s accent whenever you wish. Granted, only if you are interested in such things––and of course you are!
Let’s move on. So is Russell correct? Is it claimed that everything must have a cause? Perhaps in Russell’s day some were very fond of declaring that all things need causes. Even so, they likely meant every substance requires a cause. And because we do not wish to get into Scholastic metaphysics and all that, we’ll just say that either way this objection comes from a fundamental misunderstanding. Fundamentalbecause it gets the fundamentals of the cosmological argument wrong. We’ll go one step further, or perhaps one step over, and say that this objection is a straw man. I don’t mean to say that this objection is meant to scare away crows or something odd like that. No, I mean to say that this objection responds to an argument no one is making. It sets up a ‘straw man’ and knocks it down. Well, we have no argument made of straw. We are much too urban for that sort of thing! Further, the cosmological argument quite popular amongst Theist and Atheist alike is the KalamCosmological Argument. This argument is one of the few that involves causation, rather than say just dependence/contingency. Now how does this Kalam argument go? It goes like this:
What do you think? Not what do you think about this argument––whether it’s good or not––but how does the objection (i.e. what caused the cause of the universe?) respond to any one of the premises of this argument? (premises are those first two statements; (3) is the conclusion) Quite plainly it does nothing to this argument. It is, as stated, a straw man. So the next time you hear someone carefully (or rather uncarefully) unpacking the Kalam argument or something like it by arguing that Godneeds a cause, then you know what to say: where does the argument say that ‘1. everything needs a cause? It doesn’t.
For more information on the Kalam Cosmological Argument, see this video.
Posted by Basil