Tag: Apologetics (home)

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

permalink source: Woody Allen, "Without Feathers"
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Skepticism

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

permalink source: Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
tags: Apologetics, Opinions

A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.

permalink source: Arthur Bloch
tags: Apologetics, Opinions, Truth

But reason has also discerned that all previous cultures were founded by and on gods or belief in gods. Only if the new regimes are enormous successes, able to rival the creative genius and splendor of other cultures, could reason's rational foundings be equal or superior to the kinds of foundings that reason knows were made elsewhere. But such equality or superiority is highly questionable; therefore reason recognizes its own inadequacy. There must be religion, and reason cannot found religions.

permalink source: Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind 196
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Logic, Philosophy, Reading

"There is no God," the foolish saith, But none, "There is no sorrow." And nature oft the cry of faith In bitter need will borrow: Eyes which the preacher could not school, By wayside graves are raised; And lips say, "God be pitiful," Who ne'er said, "God be praised."

permalink source: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

on the ACLU's suit to have a city nativity scene removed: They're just jealous because they don't have three wise men and a virgin in the whole organization.

permalink source: Mayor Vincent J. `Buddy' Cianci
tags: Apologetics

Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.

permalink source: Charles Caleb Colton
tags: Apologetics, Education, Questions

Gravitation cannot be blamed for people falling in love.

permalink source: Albert Einstein
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Reductionism

A Russian astronaut and a Russian brain surgeon were once discussing religion. The brain surgeon was a Christian but the astronaut was not. The astronaut said, "I've been out in space many times but I've never seen God or angels." And the brain surgeon said, "And I've operated on many clever brains but I've never seen a single thought."

permalink source: Jostein Gaardner, Sophie's World 230
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Universe

... And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man

permalink source: A. E. Housman
tags: Apologetics

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), "Is Theology Poetry?"
tags: Apologetics

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

permalink source: William G. McAdoo
tags: Apologetics, Folly

The conflict is thus no longer between faith and reason but between a reasonable faith and a faithless reason.

permalink source: Robert Morgan
tags: Apologetics, Science

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.

permalink source: John Viscount Morley
tags: Apologetics, Evangelism

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.

permalink source: Howard W. Newton
tags: Apologetics, Communication, Tact

There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics

When we want to correct someone usefully and show him he is wrong, we must see from what point of view he is approaching the matter, for it is usually right from that point of view, and we must admit this, but show him the point of view from which he is wrong. This will please him, because he will see that he was not wrong but merely failed to see every aspect of the question.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics, Persuasion

The heart has its reasons that the reason does not know.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics, Persuasion

Principles are felt, propositions proved, and both with certainty though by different means. It is just as pointless and absurd for reason to demand proof of first principles from the heart before agreeing to accept them as it would be absurd for the heart to demand an intuition of all the propositions demonstrated by reason before agreeing to accept them. . . .

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics, Wisdom

According to Pascal, there are two main pseudo-solutions to the meaninglessness of life without God: diversion and indifference.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one. [Except that the state of drunkenness demonstrates the existence of alcohol -Glen]

permalink source: George Bernard Shaw
tags: Apologetics

The gospel cannot be "proved," he says, because that would presuppose a truth more fundamental than the gospel, by which the gospel can be proved.

permalink source: Tim Stafford, "God's Missionary to Us," CT 12/9/96 p. 26
tags: Apologetics, Truth

The article cited new research saying that 91% of American women and 85% of men pray--but perhaps most amazing was the finding that one out of five atheists and agnostics prays each day!

permalink source: Lee Strobel, Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary p. 46
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Prayer, Hope

No one in the world speaks blemishless grammar; no one has ever written in--no one, either in the world or out of it (taking the Scriptures for evidence on the latter point); therefore it would not be fair to exact grammatical perfection from the people of the [Mississippi] Valley; but they and all other peoples may justly be required to refrain from knowingly and purposely debauching their grammar.

permalink source: Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi 200
tags: Apologetics, Humor, Theology, Inspiration Of Scripture

If someone says "Prove to me God exists," say "What would you accept as proof?"

permalink source: Paul Copan (CMC 98)
tags: Apologetics

Going to church does not make a person religious, nor does going to school make a person educated, any more than going to a garage makes a person a car.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Evangelism

God is dead - Nietzsche Nietzsche is dead - God

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Humor

I do not believe in God, but I want my banker, my lawyer and my doctor to do so.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Logic

I have never assumed that the people I talk to are so certain it is true that the question is not still very much alive for them. Is anyone ever that certain? I assume always that they want to know if it is true as much as I do myself. I assume that even the most religiously disillusioned and negative among them want it to be true as much as the religiously devout do--want to be shown it, want it to be made somehow flesh before their eyes, want to be able to rejoice in it for themselves. And it is because, at some level of their being, their wanting is so great that you must be so careful what you give them, and because your wanting to give it is so great, too. If you are any good at all with words--if you are any good at all as an actor, with an actor's power to move people, to fascinate people, to move them sometimes even to tearsÑyou have to be so careful not to make it just a performance, however powerful. You have to remember that it is not what you are saying that is important for them to believe in, but only God. You have to remember how Jesus consigned to the depths of the sea those who cause any who believe in him to sin and how one sin you might easily cause them is to believe in yourself instead. I wrote my sermons at great length and with great care. I learned to write in shorter, simpler sentences that I had in my books because a listener loses track otherwise. Though I never dared step into the pul-[PAGE BREAK]pit without everything, including the Lord's Prayer and the announcements, fully written out in front of me, I learned to be free enough of my manuscript to be able to read it without appearing to do so. I put on the best performance I could, in other words, and preached with all the eloquence I could muster, not only to them, of course, but also to myself because much of what preachers say they say to themselves, to keep their own spirits up, to answer their own souls' questionsÑthe sermon as whistling in the dark. There were times when I felt that something better and truer than my words was speaking through my words. There were times when I felt they were only words. There were times when the words seemed to fall dead from my lips and other times when I could see only too clearly how effective they were being. And maybe I entirely misjuged which time was which. I don't know. I know only that Barth is surely right when he says that no one risks the wrath of God more perilously than the minister in the pulpit, and yet at the same time I know that, as a minister, there are few places I would rather be. The excitement and challenge of it. The chance that something better than what you are can happen, that something more than you know can be spoken and heard.

permalink source: Frederick Buechner, Now & Then p.70-71
tags: Apologetics, Communication, Hope, Ministry, Preaching

I have put no emphasis on the virgin birth in the course of this chapter. This is not because I do not believe in it, for I do; but because, as I understand it, the account of Christ's miraculous birth was given in the Gospels for the sake of those who had already come to believe in him and who wished to know the facts, but was never used as a means of evoking faith in those who were not yet convinced on other grounds as to who he was. After all, a virgin birth would be possible without any implications of deity.

permalink source: J. N. D. Anderson, Christianity: the Witness of History [1969]
tags: Apologetics, Jesus, Theology

It is of no use to say that Christ, as exhibited in the Gospels, is not historical, and that we know not how much of what is admirable has been super-added by the tradition of his followers. Who among his disciples or among their proselytes was capable of inventing the sayings of Jesus or of imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee; as certainly not St. Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers, in whom nothing is more evident than that the good which was in them was all derived, as they always professed that it was derived, from the higher source.

permalink source: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Three Essays on Religion
tags: Apologetics, Jesus

The essential amorality of all atheist doctrines is often hidden from us by an irrelevant personal argument. We see that many articulate secularists are well-meaning and law-abiding men; we see them go into righteous indignation over injustice and often devote their lives to good works. So we conclude that "he can't be wrong whose life is in the right" -- that their philosophies are just as good guides to action as Christianity. What we don't see is that they are not acting on their philosophies. They are acting, out of habit or sentiment, on an inherited Christian ethic which they still take for granted though they have rejected the creed from which it sprang. Their children will inherit some what less of it.

permalink source: Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountain [1955]
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Logic, Morality

If Christianity should happen to be true -- that is to say, if its God is the real God of the universe -- then defending it may mean talking about anything and everything. Things can be irrelevant to the proposition that Christianity is false, but nothing can be irrelevant to the proposition that Christianity is true. [All] things not only may have something to do with the Christian God, but must have something to do with Him if He lives and reigns.

permalink source: G. K. Chesterton
tags: Apologetics, Truth

Old truths must be constantly re-stated if they are not to be forgotten. To Homer, the dawn was "rosy-fingered"; to Shakespeare, it was "in russet mantle clad"; to Housman, "the ship of sunrise burning". The scientist can explain exactly why the sky looks as it does in the early morning, the physiologist why we perceive as we do. Yet no one suggests that there is no dawn at all, or that its appearance has changed over the centuries, or that any one of these percipients was mad or deceitful. Why should our knowledge of the Creator be less capable of variety and development than our knowledge of any aspect of Creation?

permalink source: Raymond Chapman, The Ruined Tower [1961]
tags: Apologetics

FROM CHAPTER ONE From Minister to Agnostic Some five hundred miles north of where Billy Graham was staging his Indianapolis campaign, I tracked [John] Templeton to a modern high-rise building in a middle-class neighborhood of Toronto. Taking the elevator to the 25th floor, I went to a door marked "Penthouse" and used the brass knocker. Under my arm I carried a copy of his latest book, whose title leaves no ambiguity concerning his spiritual perspective. It's called Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. The often-acerbic tome seeks to eviscerate Christian beliefs, attacking them with passion for being "outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society." Templeton draws upon a variety of illustrations as he strives to undermine faith in the God of the Bible. But I was especially struck by one moving passage in which he pointed to the horrors of Alzheimer's disease, describing in gripping detail the way it hideously strips people of their personal identity by rotting their mind and memory. How, he demanded, could a compassionate God allow such a ghastly illness to torture its victims and their loved ones? The answer, he concluded, is simple: Alzheimer's would not exist if there were a loving God. And because it does exist, that's one more bit of persuasive evidence that God does not. For someone like me, whose wife's family has endured the ugly ravages of Alzheimer's, it was an argument that carried emotional punch. I wasn't sure what to expect as I waited at his doorstep. Would he be as combative as he was in his book? Would he be bitter toward Billy Graham? Would he even go through with our interview? When he had consented in a brief telephone conversation two days earlier, he had said vaguely that his health was not good. Madeleine Templeton, fresh from tending flowers in her rooftop garden, opened the door and greeted me warmly. "I know you've come all the way from Chicago," she said, "but Charles is very sick, I'm sorry to say." "I could come back another time," I offered. "Well, let's see how he's feeling," she said. She led me up a red-carpeted staircase into their luxury apartment, two large and frisky poodles at her heels. "He's been sleeping . . . ." At that moment, her eighty-three-year-old husband emerged from his bedroom. He was wearing a dark brown, light-weight robe over similarly colored pajamas. Black slippers were on his feet. His thinning gray hair was a bit disheveled. He was gaunt and pale, although his blue-gray eyes appeared alert and expressive. He politely extended his hand to be shaken. "Please excuse me," he said, clearing his throat, "but I'm not well." Then he added matter-of-factly: "Actually, I'm dying." "What's wrong?" I asked. His answer almost knocked me on my heels. "Alzheimer's disease," he replied. My mind raced to what he'd written about Alzheimer's being evidence for the non-existence of God; suddenly, I felt like I had an insight into at least some of the motivation for his book. "I've had it . . . let's see, has it been three years?" he said, furrowing his brow and turning to his wife for help. "That's right, isn't it, Madeleine?" She nodded. "Yes, dear, three years." "My memory isn't what it was," he said. "And, as you may know, Alzheimer's is always fatal. Always. It sounds melodramatic, but the truth is I'm doomed. Sooner or later, it will kill me. But first, it will take my mind." He smiled wanely. "It's already started, I'm afraid. Madeleine can attest to that." "Look, I'm sorry to intrude," I said. "If you're not feeling up to this . . . ." But Templeton insisted. He ushered me into the living room, brightly decorated in a contemporary style and awash in afternoon sunshine pouring through glass doors that offered a breath-taking panoramic view of the city. We sat on adjacent cushioned chairs, and in a matter of minutes Templeton seemed to have mustered fresh energy. "I suppose you want me to explain how I went from the ministry to agnosticism," he said. With that, he proceeded to describe the events that led to the shedding of his faith in God. That was what I had expected. But I could never have anticipated how our conversation would end. The Photograph That Changed a Life Templeton was fully engaged now. Occasionally, I could see evidence of his Alzheimer's, such as when he was unable to recall a precise sequence of events or when he'd repeat himself. But for the most part he spoke with eloquence and enthusiasm, using an impressive vocabulary, his rich and robust voice raising and lowering for emphasis. He had an aristocratic tone that sounded nearly theatrical at times. "Was there one thing in particular that caused you to lose your faith in God?" I asked at the outset. He thought for a moment. "It was a photograph in Life magazine," he said finally. "Really?" I said. "A photograph? How so?" He narrowed his eyes a bit and looked off to the side, as if he were viewing the photo afresh and reliving the moment. "It was a picture of a black woman in Northern Africa," he explained. "They were experiencing a devastating drought. And she was holding her dead baby in her arms and looking up to heaven with the most forlorn expression. I looked at it and I thought, 'Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?'" As he emphasized the word rain, his bushy gray eyebrows shot up and his arms gestured toward heaven as if beckoning for a response. "How could a loving God do this to that woman?" he implored as he got more animated, moving to the edge of his chair. "Who runs the rain? I don't; you don't. He does - or that's what I thought. But when I saw that photograph, I immediately knew it is not possible for this to happen and for there to be a loving God. There was no way. Who else but a fiend could destroy a baby and virtually kill its mother with agony - when all that was needed was rain?" He paused, letting the question hang heavily in the air. Then he settled back into his chair. "That was the climactic moment," he said. "And then I began to think further about the world being the creation of God. I started considering the plagues that sweep across parts of the planet and indiscriminately kill - more often than not, painfully - all kinds of people, the ordinary, the decent, and the rotten. And it just became crystal clear to me that it is not possible for an intelligent person to believe that there is a deity who loves." Templeton was tapping into an issue that had vexed me for years. In my career as a newspaper reporter, I hadn't merely seen photos of intense suffering; I was a frequent first-hand observer of the underbelly of life where tragedy and suffering festered - the rotting inner cities of the United States, the filthy slums of India, Cook County Jail and the major penitentiaries, the hospice wards for the hopeless, disaster sites. More than once, my mind reeled at trying to reconcile the idea of a loving God with the depravity and heartache and anguish before my eyes. But Templeton wasn't done. "My mind then went to the whole concept of hell. My goodness," he said, his voice rising in astonishment, "I couldn't hold someone's hand to a fire for a moment. Not an instant! How could a loving God, just because you don't obey him and do what he wants, torture you forever - not allowing you to die, but to continue in that pain for eternity? There is no criminal who would do this!" "So these were the first doubts you had?" I asked. "Prior to that, I had been having more and more questions about things like, for instance, unanswered prayer. I had preached to hundreds of thousands of people the antithetical message, and then I found to my dismay that I could no longer believe it. To believe it would be to deny the brain I had been given. It became quite clear that I had been wrong. So I made up my mind that I would leave the ministry. That's essentially how I came to be agnostic." "Define what you mean by that," I said, since various people have offered different interpretations of that term. "The atheist says there is no God," he replied. "The Christian and Jew say there is a God. The agnostic says, 'I cannot know.' Not do not know, but cannot know. I never would presume to say flatly that there is no God. I don't know everything; I'm not the embodiment of wisdom. But it is not possible for me to believe in God." I hesitated to ask the next question. "As you get older," I began in a tentative tone, "and you're facing a disease that's always fatal, do you - " "Worry about being wrong?" he interjected. He smiled. "No, I don't." "Why not?" "Because I have spent a lifetime thinking about it. If this were a simplistic conclusion reached on a whim, that would be different. But it's impossible for me - impossible - to believe that there is any thing, or person, or being that could be described as a loving God who could allow what happens in our world daily." "Would you like to believe?" I asked. "Of course!" he exclaimed. "If I could, I would. I'm eighty-three years old. I've got Alzheimer's. I'm dying, for goodness sake. But I've spent my life thinking about it and I'm not going to change now. Hypothetically, if someone came up to me and said, 'Look, old boy, the reason you're ill is God's punishment for your refusal to continue on the path your feet were set in' - would that make any difference to me?" He answered himself emphatically: "No," he declared. "No. There cannot be, in our world, a loving God." He locked eyes with mine. "Cannot be." The illusion of faith Templeton ran his fingers through his hair. He had been talking in adamant tones, and I could tell he was beginning to tire. I wanted to be sensitive to his condition, but I had a few other questions I wanted to pursue. With his permission, I continued. "As we're talking, Billy Graham is in the midst of a series of rallies in Indiana," I told Templeton. "What would you say to the people who've stepped forward to put their faith in Christ?" Templeton's eyes got wide. "Why, I wouldn't interfere in their lives at all," he replied. "If a person has faith and it makes them a better individual, then I'm all for that - even if I think they're nuts. Having been a Christian, I know how important it is to people's lives - how it alters their decisions, how it helps them deal with difficult problems. For most people, it's a boon beyond description. But is it because there is a God? No, it's not." Templeton's voice carried no condescension, and yet the implications of what he was saying were thoroughly patronizing. Is that what faith is all about - fooling yourself into becoming a better person? Convincing yourself there's a God so that you'll become motivated to ratchet up your morality a notch or two? Embracing a fairy tale so you'll sleep better at night? No, thank you, I thought to myself. If that's faith, I wasn't interested. "What about Billy Graham himself?" I asked. "You said in your book that you feel sorry for him." "Oh, no, no," he insisted, contrary to his writings. "Who am I to feel sorry for what another man believes? I may regret it on his behalf, if I may put it that way, because he has closed his mind to reality. But would I wish him ill? Not for anything at all!" Templeton glanced over to an adjacent glass coffee table, where Billy Graham's autobiography was sitting. "Billy is pure gold," he remarked fondly. "There's no feigning or fakery in him. He's a first-rate human being. Billy is profoundly Christian - he's the genuine goods, as they say. He's not very bright, but he is what he seems to be. He sincerely believes - unquestionably. He is as wholesome and faithful as anyone can be." And what about Jesus? I wanted to know what Templeton thought of the cornerstone of Christianity. "Do you believe Jesus ever lived?" I asked. "No question," came the quick reply. "Did he think he was God?" He shook his head. "That would have been the last thought that would have entered his mind." "And his teaching - did you admire what he taught?" "Well, he wasn't a very good preacher. What he said was too simple. He hadn't thought about it. He hadn't agonized over the biggest question there is to ask." "Which is . . ." "Is there a God? How could anyone believe in a God who does, or allows, what goes on in the world?" "And so how do you assess this Jesus?" It seemed like the next logical question - but I wasn't ready for the response it would evoke. The allure of Jesus Templeton's body language softened. It was as if he suddenly felt relaxed and comfortable in talking about an old and dear friend. His voice, which at times had displayed such a sharp and insistent edge, now took on a melancholy and reflective tone. His guard seemingly down, he spoke in an unhurried pace, almost nostalgically, carefully choosing his words as he talked about Jesus. "He was," Templeton began, "the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I've ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about him except that this was a form of greatness?" I was taken aback. "You sound like you really care about him," I said. "Well, yes, he's the most important thing in my life," came his reply. "I . . . I . . . I," he stuttered, searching for the right word, "I know it may sound strange, but I have to say. . . I adore him." I wasn't sure how to respond. "You say that with some emotion," I said. "Well, yes. Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. Yes . . . yes. And tough! Just look at Jesus. He castigated people. He was angry. People don't think of him that way, but they don't read the Bible. He had a righteous anger. He cared for the oppressed and exploited. There's no question that he had the highest moral standard, the least duplicity, the greatest compassion, of any human being in history. There have been many other wonderful people, but Jesus is Jesus." "And so the world would do well to emulate him?" "Oh, my goodness, yes! I have tried - and try is as far as I can go - to act as I have believed he would act. That doesn't mean I could read his mind, because one of the most fascinating things about him was that he often did the opposite thing you'd expect - " Abruptly, Templeton cut short his thoughts. There was a pause. He glanced up, he looked across the room, he seemed to want to focus anywhere but on me. He was suddenly self-conscious, almost embarrassed, apparently uncertain whether he should continue. He sighed. "But, no," he said slowly, "in my view. . . ." Now there was a catch in his voice; he inhaled deeply to try to stop from crying. But as he turned toward me, I watched as tears flooded his eyes. "In my view," he struggled to say, "he is the most important human being who has ever existed." His voice cracking, he uttered the words I never expected to hear him say: "And if I may put it this way - I . . . miss . . . him." With that, he broke down sobbing. He turned his head and looked downward, raising his left hand to shield his face from me. His shoulders bobbed; his right hand wiped away tears. What was going on? Was this an unguarded glimpse into his soul? I felt drawn to him and wanted to comfort him; at the same time, the journalist in me wanted to dig to the core of what was prompting this reaction. Missed him why? Missed him how? In a gentle voice, I asked, "In what way?" Templeton fought to compose himself. I could tell it wasn't like him to lose control in front of a stranger. He breathed deeply. After a few more awkward moments, he waved his hand dismissively. "Well," he whispered, as much to himself as to me. Again he halted, then drew a deep breath. "Enough of that." He sniffed and cleared his throat, then leaned forward to pick up his coffee. More quietly and yet more adamantly, he murmured again: "Enough of that." He took a sip, holding the cup tightly in both hands as if drawing warmth from it. It was clear that he wanted to pretend this unvarnished look into his soul had never happened. But I couldn't let it go. Nor could I gloss over Templeton's pointed but heart-felt objections about God. Clearly, they demanded a response. For him, as well as for me.

permalink source: Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (chapter 1)
tags: Apologetics, Skepticism

The evidence for Christian truth is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient. Too often, Christianity has not been tried and found wanting--it has been found wanting, and not tried.

permalink source: Os Guinness
tags: Apologetics

A few years ago, it was my privilege to speak on the campus of Toccoa Falls Bible College in Toccoa Falls, Georgia. My host led me along a lovely walkway to the famed Toccoa Falls, some 186 feet of plunging water. Beautiful... And, on one night, deadly! Early in the morning of November 6, 1977, a dam just above the falls suddenly ruptured and in a little over 15 minutes an entire 40-acre lake poured over the falls at speeds up to 150 miles per hour, flooding the canyon below. It wiped out a college dorm, a trailer park for married students and several college personnel residences. 39 students, children and college leaders drowned in those awful moments. The tragic story became headline news across the nation. Our president at that time was Carter, whose wife rushed to the campus to help. TV kept a constant watch on the story. A visiting reporter asked Professor Gerald McGraw how he could ever vindicate God in the eyes of his students after such a disaster. The lanky McGraw replied quietly, "The question has never come up." At the memorial service, Dr. Ken Opperman, then president of the college, preached from Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you, the hope of Glory. He concluded, "For a Christian, the most important thing is a relationship with Christ, so that whether we live or die, we glorify Christ." Then the huge crowd stood to sing at the conclusion. "Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed; finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest." Paul wrote to Titus that Christians are peculiar people. Peculiar how? In the way we respond to outside stimuli. In the way we react to tragedy. In the way we deal with disaster and death. For us, to live is Christ Jesus! He is our constant hope.

permalink source: Dan Betzer
tags: Apologetics, Suffering

A certain group of scholars, mostly German or influenced by German protestant theology, has rushed to abandon positions before they were attacked, and to demythologize the Gospel message when there was no clear evidence that intelligent minds outside the Church were any more frightened by her mystery than by her morals.

permalink source: G. I. Bonner
tags: Apologetics, Church

I have chosen the image of the journey because I think it is the deepest and most universal image in human life. And a number of my friends who are apologists say, "Well, that's not logical." And I come back and say that it is actually more logical than their approach, working from logic alone in syllogisms, is logic alone! But good apologetics, I think, is logic brought to bear on life. Because the hardest journey is the journey from the head to the heart to the will. So an individual actually moves and finally bows to God. And so, to actually describe the course of a real human journey--which is partly logic, partly will, partly heart and so on--is more logical because it is the description of reality, rather than those who arguments are purely logic in a narrow sense. And very few human beings live on pure logic alone, even philosophers.

permalink source: Os Guiness in Just Thinking Fall 2001
tags: Apologetics

Two elements of apologetics: (not a quote) negative: pushing them to the logic of their contradictions, "relativizing the relativizers" positive: pushing them to the logic of their aspirations, "signals of transcendence"

permalink source: Os Guiness in Just Thinking Fall 2001
tags: Apologetics

…you know the argument: "After Auschwitz there can be no God." But as Victor Frankel points out, the person who wrote that declaration had never been to Auschwitz. In fact, more people deepened or discovered faith while in Auschwitz than lost it.

permalink source: Os Guiness in Just Thinking Fall 2001
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Evil

[this is an excerpts from In Two Minds] Sometimes I almost feel on fire with the immensity of this: each of us is a person, alive, growing, and relating. From the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep we think, we feel, we choose, we speak, we act, not as isolated individuals but as persons among people. And underneath everything lies trust. From friendships of children to agreements among nations life depends on trust… The highest reaches of love and life depend on trust. Are there any questions more important to each of us than, Whom can I trust? How can I be sure? That is why when trust goes and doubt comes in such a shadow is cast, such a wound is opened, such a hole is left. …Doubt is not primarily an abstract philosophical or theological question, nor a state of morbid spiritual or psychological anguish. At its most basic, doubt is a matter of truth, trust and trustworthiness. Can we trust God? Are we sure? How can we be sure? Do we trust on him enough to rely on him utterly? Are we trusting him enough to enjoy him? Is the whole of living different for that trust?

permalink source: Os Guiness in Just Thinking Fall 2001
tags: Apologetics, Trust

If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic – there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”

permalink source: C.S. Lewis (found in Alpha course)
tags: Apologetics, Tolerance, Religion

When a comparison is made of the variant readings of the New Testament with those of other books which have survived from antiquity, the results are little short of astounding. For instance, although there are some 200,000 "errors" among the New Testament manuscripts, these appear in only about 10,000 places, and only about one-sixtieth rise above the level of trivialities. Westcott and Hort, Ezra Abbot, Philip Schaff, and A. T. Robertson have carefully evaluated the evidence and have concluded that the New Testament text is over 99 percent pure. In the light of the fact that there are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, some 9,000 versions and translations, the evidence for the integrity of the New Testament is beyond question.

permalink source: Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix, From God to Us
tags: Apologetics, Bible

In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is... a question: "What are you asking God to do?" To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that that is what He does.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain
tags: Apologetics, Forgiveness, Hell, Evil

The attempt to make God just in the eyes of sinful men will always lead to error.

permalink source: Pastor William L. Brown
tags: Apologetics, God, Evil

The very strength and facility of the pessimists' case at once poses us a problem. If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground of religion: it must have always been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain
tags: Apologetics, God, Evil

I suppose that every age has its own particular fantasy: ours is science. A seventeenth-century man like Blaise Pascal, who thought himself a mathematician and scientist of genius, found it quite ridiculous that anyone should suppose that rational processes could lead to any ultimate conclusions about life, but easily accepted the authority of the Scriptures. With us, it is the other way `round.

permalink source: Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered [1969]
tags: Apologetics, Science, Epistemology

If Christianity is false, it is of no importance. If Christianity is true, it is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is of moderate importance.

permalink source: C.S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Salvation, Apathy

from PreachingToday.com "After six years given to the impartial investigation of Christianity as to its truth or falsity, I have come to the deliberate conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of the Jews, the Savior of the world, and my personal Savior." These were the words of Lew Wallace, Governor of New Mexico, over a century ago. He had started out to write a book against Jesus Christ and in the process was converted to Christianity. He told a friend how it happened. I had always been an agnostic and denied Christianity. Robert C. Ingersoll, a famous agnostic, was one of my most intimate friends. He once suggested, "See here, Wallace, you are a learned man and a thinker. Why don't you gather material and write a book to prove the falsity concerning Jesus Christ, that no such man has ever lived, much less the author of the teachings found in the New Testament. Such a book would make you famous. It would be a masterpiece, and a way of putting an end to the foolishness about the so-called Christ." The thought made a deep impression on me, and we discussed the possibility of such a book. I went to Indianapolis, my home, and told my wife what I intended. She was a member of the Methodist Church and naturally did not like my plan. But I decided to do it and began to collect material in libraries here and in the old world. I gathered everything over that period in which Jesus Christ, according to legend, should have lived. Several years were spent in this work. I had written nearly four chapters when it became clear to me that Jesus Christ was just as real a personality as Socrates, Plato, or Caesar. The conviction became a certainty. I knew that Jesus Christ had lived because of the facts connected with the period in which he lived. I was in an uncomfortable position. I had begun to write a book to prove that Jesus Christ had never lived on earth. Now I was face to face with the fact that he was just as historic a personage as Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Virgil, Dante, and a host of other men who had lived in olden days. I asked myself candidly, "If he was a real person (and there was no doubt), was he not then also the Son of God and the Savior of the world?" Gradually the consciousness grew that, since Jesus Christ was a real person, he probably was the one he claimed to be. I fell on my knees to pray for the first time in my life, and I asked God to reveal himself to me, forgive my sins, and help me to become a follower of Christ. Towards morning the light broke into my soul. I went into my bedroom, woke my wife, and told her that I had received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. "O Lew," she said, "I have prayed for this ever since you told me of your purpose to write this book, that you would find him while you wrote it!" Lew Wallace did write a very famous book. It was a masterpiece and the crowning glory of his life's work. He changed the book he was originally writing and used all his research to write another book. Now every time I watch the epic film made from that book and see Charlton Heston racing those four magnificent white horses in that amazing chariot race, I wonder how many who have seen Ben Hur, with its moving references to Jesus, know it was written by a man who wanted to disprove that Jesus ever existed, and instead became convinced that he was the greatest man who ever lived!

permalink source: Citation: David Holdaway, The Life of Jesus (Sovereign World, 1997), pp. 42-43
tags: Apologetics, Jesus

On my door there's a cartoon of two turtles. One says, "Sometimes I'd like to ask why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could do something about it." The other turtle says, "I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

permalink source: Peter Kreeft quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2001), p. 50
tags: Apologetics, Ministry, Compassion, Evil, Mercy

"…it seems to me that there is no use proving the existence of God any more than there is any use in proving the existence of love. I'm really sure that love exists, despite the lack of proof, and God IS love…." this quote is from an email sent to SAR list on 3/11/2003 his website is www.openchristianity.com he and I are on radically different wavelengths in general, but this was interesting

permalink source: Jim Burklo, a campus pastor at Stanford
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

If someone wants proof that [Jesus] is alive... all I can say in honesty is that I have none to give. No preacher can prove it, no teacher, no book, not even the Bible. It defies logic and reason, and it breaks the laws of nature as we understand them. If we are to believe he is really alive with all that that implies, then we have to believe without proof. And of course that is the only way it could be. If it could be somehow proved, then we would have no choice but to believe. We would lose our freedom not to believe. And in the very moment that we lost that freedom, we would cease to be human beings. Our love of God would have been forced upon us, and love that is forced is of course not love at all. Love must be freely given. Love must live in the freedom not to love; it must take risks. Love must be prepared to suffer even as Jesus on the Cross suffered, and part of that suffering is doubt, even as Jesus on the Cross doubted.

permalink source: Frederic Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
tags: Apologetics, Faith, Resurrection, Doubt

Musician Michael Card said in an interview: Again and again in China I talked to people who had never heard of Christianity, never heard of Jesus, never heard a single word from the Bible. Yet through nature and their God-given conscience, many believed in God. Not only did they believe God existed, they had derived some understanding about His loving character because he provided food, water, and a beautiful world. One old woman told me, "I've known him for years. I just didn't know his name."

permalink source: Michael Card, from interview in Discipleship Journal (Nov/Dec 2002), p. 72
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, God, Faith

“An egg that came from no bird is no more natural than a bird that has always existed.”

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

"I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope that there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."

permalink source: Thomas Nagel, The Last Word as quoted by J. Budziszewski in First Things, June/July 2002, No. 124, pg. 28
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

A 20TH CENTURY MYTH by Dr. Jaafar Sheikh Idris One of the myths of our century, a myth that is believed by almost all atheists as well as many theists, is that rationality and science are on the side of unbelief. As a corollary of this myth, unbelief is taken to be the normal position, the position that demands no mental effort because it needs no justification. It is the believer who is taken to task, who is required to justify his position and who is therefore on the defensive. But why is this unbelief taken to be normal? Because, I think, it is wrongly thought that while the believer in God is making a positive claim, the unbeliever, as the name indicates, is only denying that the believer has any evidence to support his claim. The two positions are therefore mistakenly likened to those, say, of accuser and accused. The latter does not have to prove that he is innocent, since he is assumed to be so until the contrary is proven by the former. This picture is misleading because in it only one of the parties, the accuser, has a problem that he wants to resolve. The accused has no problem, and is therefore making no claim or even if he has one, it is different from that of the accuser. A better comparison to the position of the believer and the unbeliever would be that of two politicians or economists, A and B, arguing about inflation, a problem that affects them both. A suggests that the cause of inflation is the sudden and tremendous increase in oil prices and therefore, it can only be arrested by such-and-such measures. The other, B, denies that this is the cause. He sees no causal link between the two phenomena, and has not been helped by A to see one. We may sympathize with B, but we would certainly not think that he had done his job merely by rejecting A's analysis. Why? Because inflation is a serious problem that affects all of us and we consider that those who conduct our affairs have a responsibility to look for its cause and to seek a solution to it. Thus, the position of the believer is not like that of the accuser, because the problem, whose solution he is seeking by claiming that the world has a creator, does not concern him alone. Like inflation, it affects both the one who advances a solution to it and the one who rejects that solution. THE PROBLEM What is this problem? Essentially it is expressed in the question, “Where did we come from?” There are other related issues but let us first examine this central question. The unbeliever reacts to this question in one of three ways, all of which are irrational and unscientific. Hence his claim that science and rationality are on his side are unfounded. He may say: “I neither know nor care. All that I know is that I am here and that I am free to decide for myself what role to play. And this I am going to do.” “I neither know...” To admit one's ignorance is surely a mark of rationality and is in the spirit of science. But what about “nor do I care?” The non-believer is not here dismissing the possibility of there being a creator who assigned for man a role to play in this world, and who would therefore hold him accountable for his deeds in a life to come. Does he really mean that it does not matter or that it would make no difference to him whether this were true or not? This is clearly not rational, because it surely does make a difference whether a person goes to heaven or hell. Turning away from a fact does not make it disappear. Years of indulgence in the pleasures of this life would hardly make up for punishment in the life to come. A second response the unbeliever might make would be to say: “We could have come from nothing.” To this our question would be: Are you saying that this is only a possibility, as your statements indicate, or are you affirming that we did come from nothing? If you say that this is only possible, then you are not ruling out the possibility of our having been created. Given this possibility, and considering the gravity of the problem, you would try to make up your mind which of the two possible alternatives seems to you to be the more likely and reasonable. If, however, you are claiming that the world really did come from nothing, then we put the following points before you and require you to consider them carefully: FIRSTLY, how do you know this? SECONDLY, do you have any evidence? As far we can see, you have produced none. Without evidence, is it either rational or scientific to opt for the view that anything like ourselves that is not eternal can be caused by or produced from nothing? Isn't it a scientific principle, I am not saying a scientific fact, as well as a principle of ordinary life, that every event has a cause and hence that nothing comes out of nothing? If so, then why do you deceive yourself into thinking that your position is the more rational and the more scientific one? Having realized the irrationality of these two responses, the unbeliever might now choose the only alternative that is left to him if he insists on continuing in his unbelief. He will now admit that it is more reasonable to believe that there is a cause. But since he rejects the idea of a transcendent creator he will maintain that this cause must be inside the world. THE SEARCH FOR THE CAUSE What can that cause be? It is sometimes taken to be an object in this earth, an idol, an animal or a human being. Since the foolishness of such a belief is now clear, we should not allow it to detain us. I have only mentioned it to draw attention to the fact that idol worship and belief in magic belong to the history of unbelief, and not to that of true religion, which advocates belief in a transcendent creator. Seeing that a perishable object or person could not be a creator, some unbelievers thought that the heavenly bodies, which for them seemed to be eternal, were more worthy of such a role, and thus worshipped them. But science has proved that none of these celestial bodies are eternal. The believers' claim that they cannot be gods is thus vindicated. Having despaired of finding their creator in the larger physical bodies, and having been told that these are, in fact, built up of smaller units, the unbelievers now turned in another direction and began to look for the ultimate and eternal building unit of which everything we know is made. This, they felt, would explain everything and thus render the idea of a transcendent god otiose. But these eternal building blocks have turned out to be will-o-the-wisps. It is not the mixtures and compounds, but the elements of which they are made. And it is not even these, because they in their turn are made of molecules which are made of atoms. Atoms are made up of subatomic particles. Could these be what we are looking for? But these are not solid material things. They are strange creatures that change their mass whenever they move. Moreover these tiny things' cannot be directly observed. Their existence is deduced only from their behavior. THE ETERNAL CREATOR One of the basic arguments raised by earlier unbelievers against there being a transcendent god, was that he could not be seen. It was no use telling them that as rational beings they did not have to see to believe; that they could also believe in something whose existence could be deduced from what they observed. Science has again vindicated the believers’ argument, since this method of deduction turns out to be the only way we know about subatomic particles, the phenomena that unbelievers wish to see as the ultimate cause or creator. But this they cannot do. The creator, or if you like, ultimate cause we are looking for must be eternal, i.e., it must have no beginning. If a thing is eternal in the sense of having no beginning then it must be self-sufficient, i.e. logically it cannot depend for its existence or continuance on anything outside itself. But if this is so then it will not perish. Which means that nothing that perishes or is perishable can be eternal. All forms of matter, even the subatomic particles are perishable. And since matter in every form is necessarily affected by other forms of matter, then matter in any form cannot be eternal. The unbeliever cannot therefore console himself by putting his faith in the progress of science to discover a solution to the problem of creation. Science cannot do for them what is logically impossible. THE NATURAL SOLUTION Some unbelievers say: “Why look for the eternal? If what we want is an explanation of the finite things of which our world is made up, then this can be obtained without recourse to a belief in an eternal creator. If I want to explain how A came to be, I look for its natural and finite cause, B; and if asked about B, I look for C and so on. The series of effect-cause need not terminate in an ultimate cause but can be infinite.” To demonstrate how untenable this position is, let us take the example of a dictator who hears that a derogatory rumor about him is being spread and orders his secret police to discover its source. Devoted to their master, the secret police start interrogating suspects. A tells them that he heard it from B, who in turn tells them that he heard it from C, who heard it from D and so on. If we assume this series of hearer-relater to be infinite, it would not explain the ultimate and real source of the rumor, which can only be someone who invented it and had not heard it from someone else. The rumor, therefore, clearly had a creator: the chain is not infinite. The fact of coming-into-being cannot be explained by something which has itself come to be. It can be explained only by something which causes others to be but is not itself caused to be. THE ULTIMATE CAUSE So much for the irrationality and unscientific attitude of the unbeliever towards the question: where do we come from? The position of the believer, on the other hand, is based on reason and is not contradicted by science. He says that, since perishable things cannot come from nothing, nor be caused by other perishable things, they must be caused by something that is eternal and is therefore self-sufficient. And since it is eternal and therefore infinite, all its attributes must be infinite. How does this eternal cause bring about its effect - i.e., the things of this world? Things are produced by others in two ways. Either they follow naturally from them, or, they are intentionally made by them. All natural causes produce their effects in the former way, while rational beings have the ability to do the latter. Thus fire does not intentionally boil water, the boiling is a natural result of the water container being exposed to heat. But a housewife makes tea intentionally. There is nothing in her nature as a result of which tea is naturally produced, so she can choose whether or not to do so. A natural effect does not depend solely on what we normally call its cause. Its happening is conditional upon many other factors. For example, for water to boil it is not enough that there should be heat. The water must be put in a container which must be brought near the heat, there must be oxygen, etc. Our eternal cause, on the other hand, is by definition self-sufficient and thus depends for its action on no factors external to itself. If this is so, then it does not act in the way natural causes act; thus it must act with intention. Since a thing that acts with intention must also act knowingly and must therefore be a living being and not an inanimate thing, the true creator of whatever exists in the world must possess these attributes, as well as others that can be deduced in the same manner. This is what unbiased reason tells us. And what it tells us is confirmed and elaborated and brought to completion by what the Creator Himself tells us in what He reveals to His prophets. A person's answers to the questions, “Why are we here? and “Where do we go from here?” are bound to depend on his answer to the basic question: “Where do we come from?” And because the unbeliever fails to give a satisfactory answer to the basic question his answers to the others are doomed to be unsatisfactory, both rationally and psychologically.

permalink source: Jaafar Sheikh Idris
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Islam

Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount? Gates: I don't. I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in. There's a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact. Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you'd say you don't know? Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

permalink source: I have not verified this
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Church

Gates was profiled in a January 13, 1996 TIME magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report: "Isn't there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?" interviewer Walter Isaacson asks Gates "His face suddenly becomes expressionless," writes Isaacson, "his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at MICROSOFT that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis." "I don't have any evidence on that," answers Gates. "I don't have any evidence of that." He later states, "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

permalink source: I have not verified this
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Church

John and Mary Pay a Visit This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary." Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us." Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss his ass?" John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, he'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, he'll kick the shit out of you." Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?" John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropists. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do what ever wants, and what he wants is to give you a million dollars, but he can't until you kiss his ass." Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..." Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?" Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..." John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us." Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?" Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..." Me: "And has he given you a million dollars?" John: "Well no, you don't actually get the money until you leave town." Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?" Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and he kicks the shit out of you." Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?" John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money." Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?" John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it." Me: "So what makes you think he'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?" Mary: "Well, he gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty dollar bill on the street." Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?" John: "Hank has certain 'connections.' " Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game." John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass he'll kick the shit of you." Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to him, get the details straight from him..." Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank." Me: "Then how do you kiss his ass?" John: "Sometimes we just blow him a kiss, and think of his ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on." Me: "Who's Karl?" Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times." Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss his ass, and that Hank would reward you?" John: "Oh no! Karl's got a letter Hank sent him years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for your self." John handed me a photocopy of a handwritten memo on "From the desk of Karl" letterhead. There were eleven items listed: From the desk of: KARL 1. Kiss Hank's ass and he'll give you a million dollars when you leave town. 2. Use alcohol in moderation. 3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you. 4. Eat right. 5. Hank dictated this list himself. 6. The moon is made of green cheese. 7. Everything Hank says is right. 8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom. 9. Don't drink. 10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments. 11. Kiss Hank's ass or he'll kick the shit out of you. Me: "This would appear to be written on Karl's Letterhead." Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper." Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting." John: "Of course, Hank dictated it." Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?" Mary: "Not now, but years ago he would talk to some people." Me: "I thought you said he was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?" Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right." Me: "How do you figure that?" Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hanks says is right.' That's good enough for me!" Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up." John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true too." Me: "But 9 says 'Don't Drink,' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong." John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure." Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..." Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from outer of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese." Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon came from the Earth has been discounted. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese." John: "Aha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!" Me: "We do?" Mary: "Of course we do, Item 5 says so." Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic. That's no different than saying 'Hank's right because he says he's right.'" John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking!" Me: "But... oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?" Mary blushes. John says: "Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong." Me: "What if I don't have a bun?" John: "No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong." Me: "No relish? No Mustard?" Mary looks positively stricken. John shouts: "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!" Me: "So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?" Mary sticks her fingers in her ears: "I am not listening to this. La la la la la la la la." John: "That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..." Me: "It's good! I eat it all the time." Mary faints. John catches her: "Well, if I'd known you where one of those, I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you, I'll be there counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater." With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paula and I were on the road this holiday weekend (yesterday was Labor Day), and we just got back. We had very limited internet access and couldn't get to your email. Sorry about that. Also, belated happy birthday! Thanks for forwarding me that story about Hank. I've never seen it before. I think I'll archive it and use it for a sermon illustration someday. Here's my take on it: it's a mean-spirited mockery (although cleverly done). The author draws a few bogus parallels and then builds his whole story on them. Basically, the story portrays John and Mary as stupid believers who believe in an absurd system that they've never thought critically about and then leaves you to deduce that all belief systems are equivalent and that all believers are identically stupid. Your colleague was obviously trying to be provocative, and so I conclude that he/she is either scared of faith or has been embittered by previous encounters with Christians. Just show him/her love. If the email was sent to you directly, I wouldn't really engage in dissecting the story with your friend--the deck is stacked against you. All the conclusions your friend will draw are built into the assumptions that underlie the whole story. Instead, show your friend love and have a reasonable answer for his or her honest questions whenever they come up. If the email was sent as a broadcast email, I might handle it differently. Silence might be taken as acquiescence. What I would do would depend greatly on the context. In any event, if he/she really wants to talk about it, focus on the assumptions and illegitimate parallels. In other words, explain how what you believe is different from what John and Mary believe. For example, the whole point of the gospel is that someone has come back from "out of town" to tell us about Hank. His name was Jesus, and that's what makes the resurrection so remarkable. (Incidentally, it's not really fair to compare the afterlife with going on a trip out of town. Death is fundamentally different than a road trip.) It's also not legitimate to compare Hank (who would need to be a tangible human being) with God (who is by definition invisible and intangible). It's not as though there are no logical reasons to believe that God exists. There are several, and I personally find them compelling. We've talked about some of these at Chi Alpha. Most importantly, the idea of a forced choice between "kissing Hank's ass" and "Hank kicking the shit out of you" as a parallel to heaven and hell is just plain silly. It misses the point entirely. If we love God (as evidenced by our life here on earth), we get to be with God. That's heaven--living in the presence of God forever. If we don't want to be with God (as evidenced by a lack of desire to connect with God on earth) then we get what we want. That's hell, being isolated from God forever. I could go on, but this story was somewhat of a rhetorical trick. Was that what you had in mind, or did you want me to address it on a different level? I hope it didn't rattle you any. Your friend, Glen

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Jew, has been called "the voice of the underground church." In the 1940s, he was jailed and tortured by communist officials in his home country. While imprisoned, he spoke boldly of the gospel to his atheistic captors. About one experience in the 14 years he spent in prison, he wrote, "The political officer asked me harshly, 'How long will you continue to keep your stupid religion?' "I said to him, 'I have seen innumerable atheists regretting on their deathbeds that they have been godless; they called on Christ. Can you imagine that a Christian could regret when death is near that he has been a Christian and call on Marx or Lenin to rescue him from his faith?' "The atheist began to laugh, 'A clever answer.' "I continued, 'When an engineer has built a bridge, the fact that a cart can pass over the bridge is no proof that the bridge is good. A train must pass over it to prove its strength. The fact that you can be an atheist when everything goes well does not prove the truth of atheism. It does not hold up in moments of great crisis.' "I used Lenin's books to prove to him that, even after becoming prime minister of the Soviet Union, Lenin himself prayed when things went wrong."

permalink source: Citation: DC Talk, Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs (Bethany House, 2002), pp. 53-54
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Courage

Many writers have critically examined the gospels to show that no proof exists for the facts they relate about the life of Christ, even strongly suggesting that He may never have existed. Archbishop Whateley wrote a little work, Historic Doubts Relative to the Existence of Napoleon Bonaparte, in which he shows that the actual history of this notorious personage really consisted of a number of improbable incidents. In fact, because so much suspicion attaches to the events recorded of Napoleon, the Archbishop hints, it is likely that he never lived. For some skeptics this humorous refutation of their position might yield a much greater impact than all the standard arguments presented in most logical fashion. Someone has said, “In its proper place nonsense may be sense.”

permalink source: Serve Him With Mirth
tags: Apologetics, Jesus, Bible

People who attend religious services and pray perform more acts of kindness each year than those who don't attend services, reports The National Opinion Research Center (NORC). An NORC study found people who never attend services helped others about 96 times a year. Weekly worshippers were good for 128 selfless acts per annum. The study also found liberals were no more altruistic in their deeds than conservatives. Nor were small-towners more altruistic than city folk. People who prayed at least once a week performed nearly twice as many altruistic acts as those who never prayed. Those who prayed many times a day did three times as many good deeds as non-kneelers. Acts of kindness include helping a homeless person, returning money to a cashier after getting too much change, allowing a stranger to go ahead in line, donating blood, offering one's seat on a bus or in a public place to a stranger who is standing, giving directions to a stranger, or spending time talking with someone who is a bit down or depressed. The study also measured empathy, perhaps proving the obvious: Women are more empathetic than men. While 46 percent of the women were pained by other people's misfortunes, only 25 percent of the guys gave a hoot.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Church, Compassion

Pray Together, Stay Together? Want a marriage that lasts? Dust off your hymnal. A 15-year study found that couples who went to church once a month were less than half as likely to divorce than non-churchgoers. In the study, 37 percent of those who rarely attended church divorced, while only 14 percent of regular churchgoers parted company. Researchers James P. Swyers and David B. Larson of the International Center for the Integration of Health & Spirituality found faith had "a strong, beneficial influence on the stability and quality of marriages. Spouses who attend church regularly have the lowest risk of divorce." But if one attends church much more than the other, the marriage is less likely to endure. Swyers and Larson say churchgoers solve problems more constructively than church-skippers who are more prone to verbal aggression and stonewalling. And it doesn't hurt that religious couples see their marriage "as having sacred, spiritual significance." Whether they were of the same denomination didn't seem to matter. Prayer played a big role: 53 percent of those who prayed about conflicts reported good marital adjustment, compared with 17 percent who didn't seek divine help. So to shore up your marriage, you may have to cancel Sunday brunch!

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Church, Marriage, Relationships, Dating

Unfortunately, many people assume the Bible is an unreliable document. The truth is that of all ancient literature the New Testament is the most well-authenticated document, with an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability. There are more New Testament manuscripts, copied with greater accuracy, at earlier dates than from any secular classic from antiquity such as Herodotus, Plato, or Aristotle. Some charge that there are grievous errors in the Bible. Actually, scholars who have examined the thousands of manuscript copies discovered 150,000 "textual variants." These variants are slight, involving a missing letter in a word. For example, note the variants in the following: Youha*ejus#wonamilliondol^ars. My guess is that you would not have any problem making out this message in spite of the variants. In more than 99 percent of the cases of textual variants in the New Testament, the original text can be reconstructed to a practical certainty. In October 2003, Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered a ship's bell off the coast of Georgia. They believe it is from the ship called the TENNESSEE, which sank back in 1865 with a cargo of up to $180 million in gold. They aren't absolutely certain because the bell's inscription is partially obscured. Only the letters "SSEE" are visible. The rest of the inscription won't be legible until it's cleaned. With $180 million at stake, do you think they will allow this fragment of a word to hinder their search? Citation: Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky; source: "Salvaged Bell May Be Key to Riches," USA TODAY (10-15-03);

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Inspiration Of Scripture, Bible

Author Richard Exley writes: I know one minister who returned to his pulpit ten days after his son committed suicide. Under duress he read his text: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Visibly struggling, he said, "I cannot make my son's suicide fit into this passage. It's impossible for me to see how anything good can come out of it. Yet I realize that I only see in part. I only know in part. "It's like the miracle of the shipyard. Almost every part of our great oceangoing vessels are made of steel. If you take any single part—be it a steel plate out of the hull or the huge rudder—and throw it into the ocean, it will sink. Steel doesn't float! But when the shipbuilders are finished, when the last plate has been riveted in place, then that massive steel ship is virtually unsinkable. "Taken by itself, my son's suicide is senseless. Throw it into the sea of Romans 8:28, and it sinks. Still, I believe that when the Eternal Shipbuilder has finally finished, when God has worked out his perfect design, even this senseless tragedy will somehow work to our eternal good." Citation: Richard Exley, "Decent Exposure," Leadership (Fall 1992) p. 118

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Suffering, Evil

[after conducting a poll on religion around the globe] I haven't said much about our poll results, because there's a certain rabbit-from-hat quality we need on the night. But something did catch my eye as we went through them. And maybe I have some rethinking to do as a result. We asked everyone the question, "Does suffering in the world make it harder for you to believe in God?" Heavens to Betsy, it is indeed a major impediment to faith - in Britain. Oh yes, we struggle terribly with all the dreadful suffering that goes on in places whose names we can't quite remember. Put the question in Lagos, whose citizens are rather better acquainted with plague and famine, or ask around Delhi, and suffering is hardly a bar to faith at all. There is something darkly comic in the way we use the tribulations of others to avoid putting our own beliefs to the test. "Oh, I saw so much it rocked my faith," sounded like a genuine obstruction when I said it. But now I worry it is as trite a slogan as the one it replaced. If suffering is such a problem, why does our poll show religion thriving in places where people are up against everything the world can throw at them?

permalink source: "Beyond Belief," Jeremy Vine, Monday Feb 23, 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,1154016,00.html
tags: Apologetics, Suffering

"Sigma Xi, the international honor society for scientific and engineering research, polled its members about religion and found that 41 percent of Ph.D. scientists reported that they attended church on a typical Sunday. Another survey found 52 percent of biologists identifying themselves as Christians. M.I.T. professor Alan Lightman adds, "contrary to popular myth, scientists appear to have the same range of attitudes about religious matters as does the general public."

permalink source: Chuck Colson, January 5, 2004 Breakpoint commentary
tags: Apologetics, Science

If your religion does not change you, then you should change your religion.

permalink source: Elbert Hubbard
tags: Apologetics, Religion, Spiritual Formation

Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.

permalink source: Frederick Buechner
tags: Apologetics, Doubt

""There may be signs of (God’s) existence, but they point both ways and are therefore ambiguous and so prove nothing... The wonders of the universe do not convince those most conversant with the wonders, the scientists themselves."

permalink source: Walker Percy
tags: Apologetics, Science

I felt something more, like stabs of joy. These pointed to something other and outer. --

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Joy

Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there. -- Sydney J. Harris

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Philosophy

The great religions were first preached and long practiced in a world without chloroform.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Suffering

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.

permalink source: Voltaire
tags: Apologetics, Philosophy, Reason, Evil

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

permalink source: G. K. Chesterton
tags: Apologetics, Humor, Religion

Responding to the question, 'What does it take to make a good theologian?' Martin Luther is reported to have answered, 'Suffering.' By: Martin Luther

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Suffering, Theology

Before I am saved, Christians will have to look more saved. By: Friedreich Nietzsche

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Evangelism

When the learned skeptic says, 'The visions of the Old Testament were local, and rustic, and grotesque,' we shall answer: 'Of course. They were genuine.' By: G.K. Chesterton Source: Ward, pg. 175-6, Wisdom and Innocence by Joseph Pearce, Ignatius Press, 1996

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics

The existence of evil and suffering in the world is a proof, not that God is either good but powerless, or all powerful and not good. On the contrary, it is proof that God is both loving and omnipotent. Only absolute love could grant unhindered freedom, and only omnipotence can endure the operation of that freedom. By: D.R. Davies Source: Catholic Digest, Dec. 1991 [Glen: this is true once one accepts God's existence--this is the only way God could exist given the universe that we inhabit]

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Suffering

One of the reasons that C.S. Lewis is still so popular and still speaks to people in this age is that he dealt with both reason and imagination. And he said at one point in his writings that "Reason is the natural organ of truth, and imagination is the organ of meaning." He argued, in a variety of places, that the only way you really understand any idea or set of ideas, is if you can get an image in your imagination with which to connect it. Of course, that was where he was so good. In his philosophical writings he had great pictures and metaphors that would make his point. And he could also communicate just as well in fiction. The Narnia Chronicles, or in the Space Trilogy, or Til We Have Faces communicate his philosophical ideas in a way that deeply impacts people's imagination. Art Lindsley, from True Truth on C.S. Lewis and imagination, Dick Staub Interview June 9th, 2004

permalink source: Art Lidsley
tags: Apologetics

Our greatness and wretchedness are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us that there is in us some great principle of greatness and some great principle of wretchedness. It must also account for such amazing contradictions. To make us happy it must show us that a God exists whom we are bound to love; that our only true bliss is to be in him, and our sole ill to be cut off from him. It must acknowledge that we are full of darkness which prevents us from knowing him, and so, with our duty obliging us to love God and our sin leading us astray, we are fully unrighteous. It must account to us for the way in which we thus go against God and our own good. It must teach us the cure for our helplessness and the means for obtaining the cure.

permalink source: Blaise Pascal, the Pensees
tags: Apologetics, Humans, Self-awareness

“[He had many] questions he knew God would not answer. I listened to his questions and tried to stay as quiet as God. After all, I’m God’s ambassador, and ambassadors shouldn’t make things up." - Pastor David Hanson, Leadership (Fall 2003)

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Apologetics, Ambassador

Paul read pagan poets. In his writings he quotes Epimenides of Crete (Titus 1:12), Aratus of Cilicia (Acts 17:28) and Menander, author of the Greek comedy Thais (1 Corinthians 15:33).

permalink source: "Persecution In The Early Church," Christian History no 27
tags: Apologetics, Culture

This column was syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service on 01/12/2005 Believers often wrestle with tragedy and death on the Mukono campus of the Uganda Christian University. Families are large and disease common, affecting young and old. Terrorism and tribal conflicts in this culture often lead to violence, injury and death. "Someone will say, 'My brother died last night,' and he will say it as a simple statement of fact," said Father Stephen Noll, vice chancellor of this Anglican Church of Uganda school. "Someone may report that a particular student will not be returning to class because he was killed in an ambush by the 'Army of God.' " It took time for Noll to adjust, after leaving his post as dean of an American seminary to help support the growing churches in Africa. He watched the faithful face so much pain and loss without losing faith in a compassionate and just God. "It's not that they don't grieve," he said. "They know -- as a common fact of life -- that bad things happen to good people. They accept that in the context of their faith." Thus, Third World believers may wonder why leaders in privileged lands such as Great Britain and the United States have been so quick to point angry fingers at the heavens following the Indian Ocean tsunami. For example, Anglican leaders in Uganda were surprised by this headline in the Sunday Telegraph in London: "Archbishop of Canterbury -- this has made me question God's existence." The online version was just as blunt: "Of course this makes us doubt God's existence." Press officers for Archbishop Rowan Williams protested that these headlines radically oversimplified the truths that the theologian and poet had tried to communicate in his complex, candid tsunami essay. Critics had focused on his statement that it was wrong for Christians not to doubt the goodness, or even the existence, of the biblical God in the face of 157,000 deaths. "Every single random, accidental death is something that should upset a faith bound up with comfort and ready answers," wrote Williams. "Faced with the paralyzing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged. ... The question: 'How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?' is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren't -- indeed, it would be wrong if it weren't. The traditional answers will get us only so far." Meanwhile, religious believers in violent and impoverished parts of the world often find comfort and coherence in the traditional answers of their faiths. Noll stressed that it would be wrong to oversimplify this. Nevertheless, he thought Ugandan responses to the tsunami were revealing. "For God the issue of dying is not as tragic as it is to us because whether dead or alive we are still in his presence," said Father Grace Kaiso, spokesman for the Uganda Joint Christian Council. "God whispers to us in times of peace and shouts to us in times of tragedy and unfortunately we pay more attention when he shouts. So through the tsunamis he was shouting to us and awakened us to the reality of death, which can come suddenly, of his power and of his salvation which we should take advantage of." Imam Kasozi of Uganda's Muslim Youth Assembly responded: "God does what he wants to do. If people are not responding to his call of upright living, he will punish them. ... When God sends punishment, it does not discriminate between wrongdoers and the upright ones. This incident was two-way in that the wrongdoers were punished and the upright people who were doing God's will were taken early to heaven." The key, said Noll, is that many in the West tend to question the sovereignty of God, preferring a "weakened God or a mystical God or no God at all" to an omnipotent God who permits disasters. "People in traditional societies," said Noll, "face quandaries of God's justice daily with the death of a relative from AIDS ... or a crazed insurgent and they lean in the direction of accepting disasters as God's sovereign will. They also have a more vivid belief in the afterlife. While they mourn the loss of life, they console themselves that God's justice will be vindicated in the end." Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service. --------------------------------------------------------------------- You are subscribed to this list as: glen@glenandpaula.com To unsubscribe, e-mail: tmattingly-weekly-unsubscribe@lists.gospelcom.net For additional commands, e-mail: tmattingly-weekly-help@lists.gospelcom.net -- No virus found in this incoming message. Checked by AVG Anti-Virus. Version: 7.0.300 / Virus Database: 265.6.13 - Release Date: 1/16/2005

permalink source: Terry Mattingly
tags: Apologetics, Suffering

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2005/001/3.8.html American Christians live in the richest nation on earth and enjoy an average household income of $42,409.17 The World Bank reports that 1.2 billion of the world's poorest people try to survive on just one dollar a day. At least one billion people have never heard the gospel. The Ronsvalles point out that if American Christians just tithed, they would have another $143 billion available to empower the poor and spread the gospel.18 Studies by the United Nations suggest that just an additional $70–$80 billion a year would be enough to provide access to essential services like basic health care and education for all the poor of the earth.19 If they did no more than tithe, American Christians would have the private dollars to foot this entire bill and still have $60–$70 billion more to do evangelism around the world. ... Fully 26 percent of traditional evangelicals do not think premarital sex is wrong, and 46 percent of nontraditional evangelicals say it is morally okay.24 And extramarital sex? Of traditional evangelicals, 13 percent say it is okay for married persons to have sex with someone other than one's spouse. And 19 percent of nontraditional evangelicals say adultery is morally acceptable.25 ... Only 9 percent of born-again adults and 2 percent of born-again teenagers have a biblical worldview

permalink source: The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience Ronald J. Sider in Books & Culture Jan/Feb 2005
tags: Apologetics, Church, Sex, Greed, Giving

"most Americans feel the same way about hockey as they do conservative Christianity: they want for it to exist as long as they never, ever have to encounter it." http://www.collegehumor.com/?update_id=158

permalink source: College Humor
tags: Apologetics, Culture

Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that. I define Faith as the power of continuing to believe what we once honestly thought to be true until cogent reasons for honestly changing our minds are brought before us.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Faith

Thomas Aquinas, too, apparently could not raise himself above his times. In the Summa Theologica he poses the question of whether heretics can be endured, tolerated. And his answer is that heretics can not be tolerated. If it was just to condemn counterfeiters to death, then surely it was necessary to put to death those who had committed the far worse crime of counterfeiting the faith... The moral blindness, in certain respects, of even the holiest people should never be cause for surprise... It's a sign of maturity not to be scandalized.

permalink source: Flannery O'Connor
tags: Apologetics, History

There are no entirely false opinions. The listener, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the speaker to the fuller and purer truth as he, the listener, understands it.

permalink source: Josef Pieper
tags: Apologetics, Opinions, Truth, Evangelism

When I told him [his friend Sydney Cockerell] I had become a Catholic he was genuinely puzzled, saying, `But how can you believe in a creative, all-good, all-wise God, knowing that you have an appendix, which is a totally useless organ and can prove dangerous?'

permalink source: Alec Guinness
tags: Apologetics, Evolution

Many students have a teflon piety - no matter what you tell them they keep believing what they believe. (paraphrased)

permalink source: Stanford Religious Studies prof
tags: Apologetics, Stanford

The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves. We injure our own cause in the opinion of the world when we too passionately defend it.

permalink source: Charles Caleb Colton, Anglican priest
tags: Apologetics, Anger

I was new and nurturing a transcendent hatred of Ohio. Verm found out I liked the Smiths, and we started swapping tapes. Before long, we were hanging out after school. Then the moment came that always comes when you make friends with a born-again: "Listen, I go to this thing on Wednesday nights. It's like a Bible study—no, listen, it's cool. The people are actually really cool." They were, that's the thing. In fifteen minutes, all my ideas about Christians were put to flight. They were smarter than any bunch I'd been exposed to (I didn't grow up in Cambridge or anything, but even so), they were accepting of every kind of weirdness, and they had that light that people who are pursuing something higher give off. It's attractive, to say the least. I started asking questions, lots of questions. And they loved that, because they had answers. That's one of the ways Evangelicalism works. Your average agnostic doesn't go through life just primed to offer a clear, considered defense of, say, intratextual Scriptural inconsistency. But born-agains train for that chance encounter with the inquisitive stranger. And when you're a 14-year-old carting around some fairly undernourished intellectual ambitions, and a charismatic adult sits you down and explains that if you transpose this span of years onto the Hebrew calendar, and multiply that times seven, and plug in a date from the reign of King Howsomever, then you plainly see that this passage predicts the birth of Christ almost to the hour, despite the fact that the Gospel writers didn't have access to this information! I, for one, was dazzled. [http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_301&pageNum=14]

permalink source: Upon This Rock, John Jeremiah Sullivan
tags: Apologetics, Evangelism

Philosophies need to be tested. <img src="http://glenandpaula.com/quotes/uploads/1112209813off-campus-15.jpg" width="800" height="319" />

permalink source: Off Campus
tags: Apologetics, Philosophy

As early as the 7th century the church was condemning slavery. Slavery was unknown in Medieval Europe as a result, and when it came to New World slavery it was grounds for excommunication. How come nobody knows this?

permalink source: The Truth About The Catholic Church and Slavery, Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/128/53.0.html 7/18/2003
tags: Apologetics, Slavery

paraphrased: Paul's apologetic to Felix (sin, righteousness, and the coming judgement) included points of relevance, reference, and disturbance.

permalink source: Ravi Zacharias
tags: Apologetics

Sometimes when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook.

permalink source: Ronald Reagan
tags: Apologetics

When I stumble upon a passage exhorting genocide, I grab my sword and cast about for any Amelekites that have the misfortune to be within my line of sight. And I then think that God is more complex and scary than I can really wrap my brain around. I've heard that the fear of the Lord is the begining of wisdom. I must be growing wise, because God scares me. I love Him, but He scares me. I've also heard that perfect love is supposed to cast out all fear--I'll let you know how that works out when I've attained perfect love. You'll know when I do because I won't sin anymore. And I then tell my non-Christian friends that if they think faith is the easy way out out of a challenging world they're ludicrously naive. Like love, faith is hard. Faith frequently requires that we accept some things that we'd rather not. And just as you can't selectively love the person you wish someone else was, so you can't have selectively have faith in the parts of God that you resonate with. And I then tell them to be grateful they're not Amelekites.

permalink source: my response to an email question about genocide
tags: Apologetics, Genocide

If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, "I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else," then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else. Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

permalink source: Oswald Chambes, My Utmost For His Highest
tags: Apologetics, Theology

It's hard to laugh about religion in Northern Ireland, but Oxford theologian Alister McGrath likes to tell the following joke that hints at the challenges he faced as a young skeptic in that troubled land. While visiting Belfast, an Englishman was cornered by three thugs. The leader asked one question: "Are you a Protestant or are you a Catholic?" After a diplomatic pause, the Englishman said: "I am an atheist." Confused, his attacker asked: "Are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?" The tough religion questions continued when McGrath entered Oxford University, where he became the rare student who traded his Marxist atheism for Christianity while studying science. He would eventually earn two doctorates -- in molecular biology and theology. Today, McGrath teaches at his alma mater and is admired by academic leaders around the world who are tired of being cornered and asked: Are you a Christian or are you an intellectual?

permalink source: Terry Mattingly, God and the Intellect, Scripps Howard News Service, 04/05/2006
tags: Apologetics, Critical Thinking

I categorize people’s reasons for believing this way. Dumb Reasons ------------------ 1. An authority figure told me it was true. (They all lie) 2. It’s written in a book. (So is Spiderman) 3. How else could reality come into existence? (Ignorance is not evidence.) 4. My holy book accurately predicts things (So does Moby Dick. It’s been proven.) 5. I was raised this way. 6. It’s just obvious that God exists, you stupid heathen. Slightly Better Reasons ---------------------------- 1. I talked to God and he answered. (The Mormon method) 2. I feel Jesus/God/Allah inside me. 3. My prayers are sometimes/often answered. Excellent Reasons ---------------------- 1. I’m hedging my bets just in case it’s real. 2. Belief gives me immediate real-world benefits, socially, health-wise, and happiness-wise. And if it turns out to be true, that’s a bonus. 3. I have studied the historical and scientific evidence and concluded that there is plenty of reason to believe in God.

permalink source: Scott Adams, http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/04/psychics_and_go.html
tags: Apologetics

God is infinite while we are finite. We can never fully comprehend the infinite, but we do have within us a spiritual sense that allows us to recognize and enjoy God's presence. The ocean is vast beyond our imagining, and it would never be possible for a person to fathom it or take in all its great treasures. But with the tips of our tongues we can recognize at once that the ocean is salty. We have not understood even a fraction of all there is to know about about the ocean, but with our sense of taste we can experience its essence. In the end, how can we expect to have full knowledge of the creator, when even our knowledge of created things is limited? We know a little about the physical characteristics of the created world, but we know next to nothing about the unseen spiritual world. Indeed, we know next to nothing about our own spiritual lives. If we had complete knowledge of our own spiritual nature, then perhaps we would be capable of knowing the nature of God, for we were created in his image.

permalink source: Sadhu Sundar Sing, Wisdom of the Sadhu, 57-58
tags: Apologetics, Worship, Self-awareness

God never discourages a seeker by judging his or her beliefs to be wrong. Rather, God allows each person to recognize spiritual error or truth by degrees. The story is told a poor grass cutter who found a beautiful stone in the jungle. He had often heard of people finding valuable diamonds and thought this must be one. He took it to a jeweler and showed it to him with delight. Being a kind and sympathetic old man, the jeweler knew that if he bluntly told the grass cutter that his stone was worthless glass, the man would either refuse to believe it or else fall into a state of depression. So instead, the jeweler offered the grass cutter some work in his shop so that he might become better acquainted with precious stones and their value. Meanwhile, the man kept his stone safely locked away in a strongbox. Several weeks later, the jeweler encouraged the man to bring out his own stone to examine it. As soon as he took it out of the chest and looked at it more closely, he immediately saw that it was worthless. His disappointment was great, but he went to the jeweler and said: "I thank you that you did not destroy my hope but aided me instead to see my mistake on my own. If you will have me, I will stay with you and faithfully serve you, as you are a good and kind master." In the same way, God leads back to truth those who have wandered into error. When they recognize the truth for themselves, they gladly and joyfully give themselves in obedient service.

permalink source: Sundar Singh, The Wisdom of the Sadhu, 61-62
tags: Apologetics, Pluralism, Heresy

Sometimes people say they are ready to believe in God if only this or that doubt is removed or satisfied. Can one go to a doctor and ask that the pain of a broken arm be removed before the bone is set? This would be ridiculous because the pain is the result of the break. Once the limb has been set, the pain will pass away by itself. Doubts are spiritual pains that arise from our sin.

permalink source: Sundar Singh, The Wisdom of the Sadhu, 69
tags: Apologetics, Doubt

The idea that religion can be studied as a natural phenomenon might seem to require an atheistic philosophy as a starting point. Not necessarily. Even some neo-atheists aren’t entirely opposed to religion. Sam Harris practices Buddhist-inspired meditation. Daniel Dennett holds an annual Christmas sing-along, complete with hymns and carols that are not only harmonically lush but explicitly pious. And one prominent member of the byproduct camp, Justin Barrett, is an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” as he wrote in an e-mail message. “I believe that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” At first blush, Barrett’s faith might seem confusing. How does his view of God as a byproduct of our mental architecture coexist with his Christianity? Why doesn’t the byproduct theory turn him into a skeptic? “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people,” Barrett wrote in his e-mail message. “Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them, he wrote. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”

permalink source: Darwin's God, New York Times Magazine, 2007-03-04, by Robin Marantz Henig, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ei=5090&en=43cfb46824423cea&ex=1330664400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all
tags: Apologetics, Science, Evolution

“Why do we cross our fingers during turbulence, even the most atheistic among us?” asked Atran when we spoke at his Upper West Side pied-à-terre in January. Atran, who is 55, is an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, with joint appointments at the University of Michigan and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. His research interests include cognitive science and evolutionary biology, and sometimes he presents students with a wooden box that he pretends is an African relic. “If you have negative sentiments toward religion,” he tells them, “the box will destroy whatever you put inside it.” Many of his students say they doubt the existence of God, but in this demonstration they act as if they believe in something. Put your pencil into the magic box, he tells them, and the nonbelievers do so blithely. Put in your driver’s license, he says, and most do, but only after significant hesitation. And when he tells them to put in their hands, few will. If they don’t believe in God, what exactly are they afraid of?

permalink source: Darwin's God, New York Times Magazine, 2007-03-04, by Robin Marantz Henig, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ei=5090&en=43cfb46824423cea&ex=1330664400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all
tags: Apologetics, Skepticism

Folkpsychology, as Atran and his colleagues see it, is essential to getting along in the contemporary world, just as it has been since prehistoric times. It allows us to anticipate the actions of others and to lead others to believe what we want them to believe; it is at the heart of everything from marriage to office politics to poker. People without this trait, like those with severe autism, are impaired, unable to imagine themselves in other people’s heads. The process begins with positing the existence of minds, our own and others’, that we cannot see or feel. This leaves us open, almost instinctively, to belief in the separation of the body (the visible) and the mind (the invisible). If you can posit minds in other people that you cannot verify empirically, suggests Paul Bloom, a psychologist and the author of “Descartes’ Baby,” published in 2004, it is a short step to positing minds that do not have to be anchored to a body. And from there, he said, it is another short step to positing an immaterial soul and a transcendent God.

permalink source: Darwin's God, New York Times Magazine, 2007-03-04, by Robin Marantz Henig, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ei=5090&en=43cfb46824423cea&ex=1330664400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all
tags: Apologetics, Philosophy, Soul

Einstein Admired Jesus But Did Not Worship Him

Shortly after his 50th birthday, Einstein also gave a remarkable interview in which he was more revealing than he had ever been about his religious sensibility.... To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." You accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." Do you believe in God? "I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws." Is this a Jewish concept of God? "I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew." Is this Spinoza's God? "I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but I admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things." Do you believe in immortality? "No. And one life is enough for me."

permalink source: Walter Isaacson, Einstein & Faith, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298-2,00.html
tags: Apologetics, Science

Secularism Far More Intolerant and Vicious Than Organized Religion

[The common notion among intellectuals is that] Christianity has been a source (in the West) of unparalleled oppression and violence and that if Christians had their way, they’d subjugate everyone. This is a popular view and, like most popular views, it’s mostly false. Secularist ideologies have led to much more hardships, political oppression, economic chaos and mass killing than any Western theological system has... Also, very few people were executed for religious reasons without trial. Of course, the evidence gathered at the trials was usually bogus.... but trials were conducted, and a lot of people were set free. At Salem over 100 people were accused; about 20 were executed. Once the hysteria subsided, the authorities acknowledged publicly that those executed were innocent, and money was given to their families. This is all quite pathetic, but the image one has of Puritans out to fry all disbelievers is false. The famous 'heretics' Anne Hutchinson and roger Williams were not executed. ...systematic mass slaughter without trial has been an innovation ... of secularists. We see it first with the mass killing by drowning of the anti-Christian fanatics of the French Revolution. We see it in Stalin’s atheistic regime, in Hitler’s anti-Jewish, anti-Christian regime. And then we see it in other places were secularist ideology was imported--Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia. And today existential misery and suicide are highest precisely in the places where secularism is most prevalent.

permalink source: Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant? edited by Preston Jones, IVP, pages 134-136
tags: Apologetics, Atheism

Scientists Seem To Lean Towards Irreligion For Nonscientific Reasons

Is knowledge of science somehow in conflict with being religious? Childhood religious background, not exposure to scientific education, seems to be the most powerful predictor of future irreligion. Those scientists raised in almost any faith tradition are more likely to currently be religious than those raised without any tradition.<sup>12</sup> In addition, scientists who describe religion as important in their families as children are much more likely to practice faith currently.<sup>13</sup> When compared to the general population, a larger proportion of scientists are raised in non-religious homes.<sup>14</sup> When one considers that many more scientists come from non-religious homes or homes that were nominally religious, the distinctions between the general population and the scientific community make more sense. A large part of the difference between scientists and the general population may be due more to religious upbringing, rather than scientific training or university pressure to be irreligious, although these other possibilities should be further explored. <i>The footnotes are as follows:</i> <sup>12</sup> The exception is among academic scientists raised Jewish, who do not differ substantially in their religiosity from those raised with no religious tradition. <sup>13</sup>Another way to examine the impact of religious upbringing is through predicted probabilities. For instance, consider two sociologists who are male, in the 18-35 range, born in the United States, have no children and are currently married. One was raised in a Protestant denomination and religion was “very important” while growing up. The other was raised as a religious “none” and religion was “not at all important” while growing up. Analyses of the RAAS survey reveals that the former has a predicted probability of 14 percent for saying that he does not believe in God. This compares to a 54 percent chance of the latter saying he does not believe, a striking difference. These differences do not offer conclusive evidence about the causes of disproportionate self-selection of scientists from certain religious backgrounds into the scientific disciplines. They do, however, offer potential for explaining the differences in religiosity between scientists and the general population. <sup>14</sup> In the 2004 GSS, 100% (n=60) of the respondents who were raised Jewish say that they are religious “liberals.”

permalink source: Religion and Spirituality among University Scientists, by Elaine Howard Ecklund, Feb 05, 2007, http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Ecklund/
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Science

Stylistic Variance Does Not Establish Multiple Authors

[The argument goes that because there are marked contrasts in style within the book of Isaiah, there must be multiple authors who each contributed different sections of the book.] ...such differences as there are may be easily accounted for by the change in situation which confronted Isaiah in his later years, and also by the maturing of his literary genius. Numerous parallels to this may be pointed out in the history of world literature. Thus in the case of John Milton, we find far more striking disssimilarities between <i>Paradise Lost</i>, which he composed in later years, and the style of <i>L'Allegro</i> or <i>Il Penseroso</i>, which appeared in his earlier period. A similar contrast is observable between his prose works such as <i>Christian Doctrine</i> and <i>Aeropagitica</i>. Or, to take an example from German literature, Goethe's <i>Faust Part II</i> presents striking contrasts in concept, style, and approach as over against <i>Faust Part I</i>. These contrasts are far more obvious than those between Isaiah I and Isaiah II. In his <i>Dictionary of the Bible</i> (p. 339a), Davis points out that in the twenty-five years of Shakespeare's activity, four distinct periods can be distinguished in his dramatic productions, each period being marked by clear differences in style.

permalink source: Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction: Revised and Expanded, p 381
tags: Apologetics, Bible, Isaiah

On The Oddities of Scholarship

There is a world--I do not say a world in which all scholars live but one at any rate into which all of them sometimes stray, and which some of them seem permanently to inhabit--which is not the world in which I live. In my world, if The Times and The Telegraph both tell one story in sommewhat different terms, nobody concludes that one of them must have copied the other, nor that the variations in the story have some esoteric significance. But in the world of which I am speaking this would be taken for granted. There, no story is ever derived from facts but always from somebody else's version of the same story. ... In my world, almost every book, except some of those produced by Government departments, is written by one author. In that world almost every book is produced by a committee, and some of them by a whole series of committees. In my world, if I read that Mr. Churchill, in 1935, said that Europe was heading for a disastrous war, I applaud his foresight. In that world, no prophecy, however vaguely worded, is ever made except after the event. In my world we say, 'The first world-war took place in 1914-1918.' In that world they say, 'The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century.' In my world men and women live for considerable time--seventy, eighty, even a hundred years--and they are equipped with a thing called memory. In that world (it would appear) they come into being, write a book, and forthwith perish, all in a flash, and it is noted of them with astonishment that they 'preserve traces of primitive tradition' about things which happened well within their own adult lifetime."

permalink source: A. H. N. Green-Armytage, John Who Saw (1952), quoted in D. A. Carson's commentary on John, p 50.
tags: Apologetics, Scholarship

Listening To Eyewitnesses

Moreover, trusting testimony is a normal, perfectly rational thing to do. One can try to test the reliability of witnesses, but then they have to be trusted. We cannot independently verify everything they say and that’s the point of testimony.

permalink source: Richard Bauckham, http://blog.christilling.de/2006/11/richard-bauckham-on-jesus-and_13.html
tags: Apologetics, Jesus

We Must Think Things Plausible Before We Think Them True

No one believes anything unless one first thought it believable. . . . Everything that is believed is believed after being preceded by thought. . . . Not everyone who thinks believes, since many think in order not to believe; but everyone who believes thinks, thinks in believing and believes in thinking.

permalink source: Augustine, Predestination of the Saints, 5 (PL 44:962-63)
tags: Apologetics

Professors More Religious Than Assumed

According to their study 51.5 percent of professors, responding to the question of whether they believe in God, chose the response, "While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God," or the statement, "I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it." While atheists and agnostics in the United States make up about 3 and 4.1 percent of the population, respectively, the prevalence of atheism and agnosticism was much higher among professors: 9.8 percent of professors chose the statement, "I don't believe in God," while another 13.1 percent chose, "I don't know whether there is a God." In other words, religious skepticism is much more common among professors than in the general American population. However, the majority are still believers.

permalink source: Amarnath Amarasingam, "Are American College Professors Religious?" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amarnath-amarasingam/how-religious-are-america_b_749630.html?ir=College#
tags: Apologetics, College

Unanswerable Questions

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of "No answer." It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, "Peace, child; you don't understand." Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask--half our great theological and metaphysical problems--are like that.

permalink source: C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, p 80-81
tags: Apologetics, Questions, Suffering

What Science Really Tells Us

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you. (original - "Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaft macht atheistisch, aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott.")

permalink source: Werner Heisenberg, Hildebrand, Ulrich. 1988. "Das Universum - Hinweis auf Gott?", in Ethos (die Zeitschrift für die ganze Familie), No. 10, Oktober. Berneck, Schweiz: Schwengeler Verlag AG. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Schwengeler Verlag AG.
tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Physics

Picking and Choosing

So far we have established that the law is relevant to expository apologetics. We have also answered the objection posed by those who believe it is hypocritical to apply some parts of the law and not others. Additionally, we have established the fact that those who disagree with us are actually the ones who arbitrarily pick and choose. They hold to certain parts of the law and not to others. In fact, their objection to our use of the law is based on their assumption that hypocrisy is wrong-an idea rooted in the ninth commandment. The difference, of course, is that (1) we know we are using the law, and they do not; (2) we know why we are picking and choosing, and they do not; and (3) our picking and choosing is governed by an authority outside ourselves, and theirs is not.

permalink source: Voddie Baucham, Jr. Expository Apologetics page 105
tags: Apologetics, Morality

The Limits of Reason

But reason is an eyeball, and not a source of light. God created us with a faculty for rational weighing and sifting of evidence so that we could submit to light from outside. Every form of religion and secularism that tries to make the eyeball shed light is therefore doomed to failure.

permalink source: Papa Don't Pope, Douglas Wilson, page 58
tags: Apologetics, Reason, Faith

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