Category Archives: Other Apologetics or History

Related to broader apologetics, philosophy, or history/archeology

Apologetics Good and Bad

April 2013 seems to have been a big month for Christian Apologetics in the Dallas area. On April 5-6 was a conference on the question of was there a historical Adam, organized by the International Society for Christian Apologetics. I was not familiar with this organization but the conference was great! Not that big in attendance. A significant thing about it was that the speakers were people from different backgrounds and organizations. For instance, the Institute for Creation Research was there. But so was Dr. Rana from Reasons to Believe, the ministry of Hugh Ross. Norman Geisler was also one of the speakers, as well as Walter Kaiser, well known for his expertise on the Old Testament. Then April 12-13 was the Apologia Conference, which was on the theme, “Skeptics and the Savior: Did the Word Really Become Flesh?” I attended both of these conferences. Another conference happened that I did not attend, so I won’t comment. It was at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship church I believe.

These conferences were very informative. After these conferences I ran across a website with an interesting article called “8 Reasons Jesus Definitely Existed.” This sounds good from the title but it’s misleading and incorrect in some of it’s information. The conferences also brought up some things that raise questions I feel I need to know more about. For instance, I found out from a book on inerrancy that Norman Geisler has criticized Darrel Bock on inerrancy and the date of the writing of New Testament books. I have a lot of respect for both Geisler and Bock, so I am a not sure what to make of this. But there are sometimes clearly wrong apologetic arguments. As Christians this day and age we need to be aware of various sources and learn what some of the best sources of information are on various issues.

On the first conference about a historical Adam. I think the highlights to me were Norman Geisler and Walter Kaiser. They both made strong arguments for a historical Adam. Dr. Kaiser brought up Acts 17, where Paul was speaking in Athens and said that “from one man” God made all nations of men. Kaiser pointed out this does not seem consistent with the new ideas on the evolution of man from a population of several thousand individuals. Geisler listed a long list of Biblical reasons to believe in a literal Adam. He also pointed out there was an extremely ancient seal that depicts the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis. The seal is estimated to be from 3500 B.C. That’s pretty old (the date may be a bit inflated in fact). There are also legends of first man and woman stories. Though they are different from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, they have a number of aspects very close to it. Christianity does not hang together logically in explaining mankind’s sin problem without a literal Adam and Eve. Also, evolution can never agree with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s miraculous origin. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fazale Rana, a life scientist from Reasons to Believe pointed out he believed Adam was miraculously created from dust. He gave some interesting biochemical evidence for the uniqueness of humans as separate from apes. I do not usually agree with Hugh Ross but there were some good talks by other scientists from Ross’ organization at the conference. The final talk was from Mary Jo Sharp, a woman who speaks on apologetics. I was impressed by her story and the unique approach she has. She reaches people with apologetics that include the young and women. She made some wonderful points connecting personal struggles in people’s lives to apologetics issues. Personal struggles can lead people to ask “why believe” questions. So apologetics can have a lot of personal relevance. It is not just an intellectual exercise.

The Apologia conference was more centered around the New Testament and various ideas from skeptics and scholars who raise issues about where the ideas of Jesus as Messiah came from, the alleged problem of oral transmission of the gospels, and other issues. Some have argued that the Apostles and early Christians essentially added the concepts about Jesus being a returning King in the future and his deity, that these were not actually from Jesus’ ministry. There are a number of scholars who question the gospels but accept more the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul. But there are scrolls of Jewish commentaries from around 100 B.C. that sound just like the gospels in telling about the Messiah and Melchizedeck. They argue that Melchizedek is divine and if you put the pieces together it clearly points to Jesus. But these writings were from Qumran and scholars say the New Testament writers would not have known about them. They show that the Messianic ideas were not really unheard of and did not come about as late embellishments of the New Testament.

I want to briefly get back to the web article I found, “8 Reasons Jesus Definitely Existed.” The first screen says that Paul’s New Testament books predate the writing of the four gospels by 50 years. This is way off. Some of Paul’s books were earlier but it was only around 10 years, maybe less. The later dates are often suggested by scholars who are trying to chip away at the inerrancy of the New Testament and lead people to question the gospels especially. The second screen in the article makes a statement that the gospels “kinda don’t agree on anything.” It also challenges historical accuracy of certain things in the gospels. This is off also. There are some mysteries about differences between the gospels. However, I do not think there are real contradictions between the gospels, just differences in how they are written. Over time there’s usually more and more confirmations of Scripture from historical evidence. I wrote an article on the historicity of the New Testament CLICK TO GOTO. The 8 Reasons article is really not very clever at all, but seems to show ignorance of basics from the gospels. It confuses Bethehem and Nazareth regarding where Jesus was from. Bethehem was where Jesus was born, not the place where his family raised him. There is some information in the 8 Reasons article that is probably ok, so it is not all so bad as the above. But it goes to show Christians need to keep their brain in gear even as they learn about apologetics. Some apologetic arguments are better than others.

Science vs God Debate

Recently there was a debate in New York City between two men arguing from science against the existence of God and two who apparently who were arguing for God’s existence.  This is described in an article on Foxnews.com, “Science vs. God:  does progress trump faith?”  It’s interesting who was in this debate.  Lawrence Krauss is a well-known physicist from Arizona State University and Michael Shermer is a founding publisher of Skeptic magazine.  Krauss and Shermer argue against God’s existence.  On the “God side” was Dinesh D’Souza and Ian Hutchinson.  D’Souza is well known for the 2016 documentary movie and Ian Hutchinson is a professior of nuclear engineering at MIT.  D’Souza and Hutchinson argued for the compatibility of science and religion.  But they don’t particulary argue for Christianity specifically.  Their opponents picked up on this.  I have some simpathy for atheists in some issues because the arguments of Christian apologists sometimes leave me unsatisfied.  I didn’t actually see the debate, so I’m only going by the article on Foxnews.  Don’t get me wrong, D’Souza made good points.  There is much good being done by modern Christian apologists mostly because they are having success at being heard.

But, sometimes they don’t give adequate answers because they don’t go far enough in arguing specifically for Christianity and specifically for the truth of the Bible.  There are things that require the Biblical answers in order to have a complete answer.  Also, it is not adequate to treat all religions as sort of “equal.”  The atheists at the debate pointed out that both the men representing the “God” side were Christians, so that meant they rejected all the religions in the world except one.  The atheists said they were asking them to reject one more.  Obviously Christians can’t oblige on this.  The God of the Bible is unlike the gods of all other religions.

Science cannot disprove God and science cannot really prove anything about origins.  Science can prove things that can be reproduced by experiment today, but the origin of things is not like that.  Science studies origins to determine the plausibility of the various possibilities.  Many Christian apologists fail in not rejecting evolution and the Big Bang.  Christians are called to stand on all the truth, not just part of it.  We won’t get respect for giving a mixed or contradictory message.  This is the actual impression of Christians that skeptics and nonchristians very often have.  The skeptics have the right to criticize the contradictory incoherent messages that Christian’s sometimes have about what they believe and why they believe it.

The Foxnews article says that D’Souza made the statement, “The last good argument against God came out in the 1850s.”  D’Souza was referring to Charles Darwin’s book, Origin of Species.  But Darwin was wrong.  There has never been a good argument against the existence of God.  Often arguments against God’s existence are based on misunderstandings of Biblical concepts, or they are based on evolution.  In the debate, physicist Lawrence Krauss said, “500 years of science have demonstrated that God, that vague notion, is not likely.”  Perhaps for some God is a “vague notion,” but it should not be like that for any Christian.  Christians should know better than to allow God to be a vague notion.  The God who created the universe has spoken to mankind and given us the answers we need in the Bible.  We have in the Bible much more than vague notions!  We may not always have all the information to fully answer some scientific or archeological questions regarding things in Bible.  But that doesn’t disprove the Bible.  In the light of all the wonderful confirmations of the Bible from science and archeology, we should be glad for the answers we have.

Krauss was apparently thinking of the evidence from modern science supporting evolution and the Big Bang.  Many of Darwin’s conclusions were unwarranted from the actual evidence.  In fact, he didn’t even make very good observations in ways because he didn’t keep adequate records.  Since Darwin, scientists have been locked into a wrong way of thinking.  Creationists have pointed out a number of things that not only refute evolution but also argue specifically for the truth of the Bible.  If the Bible is really true, there must be historical and scientific evidence that supports it.  That does not mean the evidence proves the Bible.  It doesn’t actually have to technically “prove” it to give people plenty of reason to believe it.  Also, Christianity is not just borne out by objective things like scientific evidence.  It explains life better than other religions.  This part is not as obvious and many Christian apologists don’t address this aspect enough.

The most interesting thing perhaps in the Foxnews article is the polling of the audience at the debate, at the end of the article.  Krauss and Shermer increased their votes about who won the debate from 37% (before the debate) to 50% (after the debate).  But D’Souza and Hutchinson only increased their votes from 34% to 38%.  This implies we need to do a better job at engaging people.  But, it probably also implies it takes more than a debate or a lecture to change someone’s mind.