My advice to apologists is not meant to be all-inclusive, and it is not meant to be authoritative (on the level of William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga). Rather, it will simply be a collection of my observations and beliefs about some issues facing young, Christian apologists. Too often, we rush headlong into the project of apologetics without thinking some things through.
First, do not succumb to a type of “reverse confirmation bias.” I see this all too often. The young apologist, strengthened by his newfound intellectual rigor and study into Christianity, tends to believe that he can and will prove everything wrong. Continue reading →
A belief that atheism is true because of insufficient evidence for belief in God is feeble and unwarranted. Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher, correctly explained that “[t]o show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false”(Nielsen 1971: 143-4).
Within the discipline of Christian apologetics, there are several sub-disciplines, philosophy being among them. Apologetics can be done in an “offensive” way (where arguments are presented for Christianity’s truth) and in a “defensive” way (where a defense of Christianity is made against anti-Christian arguments and objections). However, another method I am interested in serves as an apologetic to believers (rather than simply unbelievers). The point in these cases is not to convert as much as it is to strengthen. This could be called “edification apologetics.”
Atheists really like to fight against us ignorant theists who say they have no morals. We’re the backwards hicks who take instruction from a book written by ignorant goat-herders who believed the earth was flat and that the sky was a dome that contained the sun, moon, and stars (all of which circled the earth!). What do we know about morality?
Atheists are so enlightened that they’ve thrown off the shackles of God-belief and are doing the right things because they’re the right things, not because some ancient patriarch shakes his finger at you from 1,000 years ago and says, “Do it or I’ll spank you!”
So of course they don’t lack morals! In fact, they’re more moral than religious people — the vague statistics quoted above don’t lie!
Sensing the sarcasm yet? I hope so. Because I don’t know how to lay it on thicker than what I just did.
Atheists are not immoral. They are amoral.
Difference? Immoral means acting contrary to established morality. It is a question of ethics, not ontology or epistemology. Amoral means lacking morals. It is a question either of ontology or epistemology, not ethics. Continue reading →
The knowledge of God, it is claimed, comes to us as a gift, and to indicate its distinctiveness by the word ‘revelation’ is simply to remain true to the phenomenological analysis of belief in God, for such belief testifies that it arises through God’s making himself known to us, rather than through our attaining to the knowledge of him.Of what kind is the knowledge of God, where that which is known towers above us, as it were, and it is as if we ourselves were known and brought into subjection?
The first case is our everyday relation to things, as objects of which we make use or have knowledge. They are at our disposal, and even by knowing them, we acquire a certain mastery over them; for instance, we can predict natural phenomena and be prepared for them.
The second case is our relation to other persons. This ‘I-thou’ relation, as Martin Buber has taught us to call it, is of a different order, for the other person is not my object and is not at my disposal. I know him in a different manner. The relation here is one between subjects. It is a mutual or reciprocal relation, founded on the same kind of being–personal being– on both sides Continue reading →
There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm. The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity. Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice. It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility. What is that? Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge). Each of these virtues have a respective vice. For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction. (For more please visit Sententias.org.)
The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others. Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not? Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it. This isn’t always the case but there may be underlying reasons for why someone doesn’t practice epistemic prudence. Perhaps, the person really is ignorant and feels like he needs to compensate. This person will usually drag out the same point over and over and sometimes doesn’t really present a coherent verbiage of what he’s trying to say. Continue reading →
“Don’t be surprised to find out that there are atheists and agnostics in your midst,” Ted said to me. He’d been railing against the evils of organized religion. I got the impression he expected some kind of shocked reaction from me.
But he didn’t get one. He’d already said he was a humanist, and I knew the two kind of go together. Besides, I’m not horrified over atheists. I relish fielding their objections. I took the bait.
“So, I get that you have problems with organized religion, Ted. But human organizations aside, do you believe there is a God? Or do you believe there is not a God?”
Ted didn’t give me a straightforward answer, though. Instead he referred me to Sam Harris, one of his favorite authors. He pointed me to an article where Harris takes issue with some Catholic teachings and other Christian ideas about God. That was all fine and well for Sam Harris, but Ted hadn’t answered for himself. So I put the question to him again.
Most of the time, I’m not too fond of using the term “religion”. I normally prefer to use “worldview” because it is more clear about what all a belief-system entails. However, for this post, I will use the term common for the question posed in the title: Can religion be tested for truth?
Many years ago, I would not have even thought to ask if religion can be tested for truth. I never thought much about it, because the obvious answer to me seemed to be “Yes”. Apparently, though, many people are questioning whether religion can be tested for truth today. Some even say that religion can’t be tested, thus such a term as “true religion” is an oxymoron. A common slogan that I hear is, “You can’t put God in a test tube”. I thought that I might take a few minutes to break this down and form some kind of defense for the idea that religion can be tested. Continue reading →
I was attending a town hall meeting with the president of New York University awhile back and I remember him saying,
“God is ineffable! We can’t possibly hope to know anything about God!”
He said this to try to poke holes in the arguments for knowing God personally and provide a basis for Religious Pluralism. Essentially, we’re all in the dark, with regard to knowing God. We are incapable of knowing anything about Him. That’s what he was getting at.
Let’s consider this: If God really is ineffable, how do we know that He is ineffable? Being able to categorize something or someone as “ineffable” requires some knowledge about that thing or person…otherwise, how would we be able to accurately categorize those things as being “ineffable”?! Continue reading →