Sunday, June 25, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Feminist Camille Paglia On Transgenderism: 'The Cold Biological Truth Is That Sex Changes Are Impossible'

Texas pastors reject LGBT school curriculum: ‘This is Houston, not San Francisco’

What You Need to Know about the Church and Global Terrorism

The Continuing Triumph of Faith: The World is Becoming More Religious

CNN: National Center for Science Education “Promotes Science Over Ideology”; What!?

Would Baseball Team Have Mocked Tebow’s Religion Had He Been a Muslim?

Coming Soon: The Revised Apologetics Study Bible for Students

Ex-Muslim Journalist Explains Sharia Law: Incompatible with U.S. Constitution

Denna Laing honored at NHL Awards

New Forensic Report Flushes Planned Parenthood’s “Highly Edited” Talking Point

Catholic bishop writes decree barring same-sex couples from receiving Holy Communion, funeral rites

Evolutionists Try to Nourish Darwin’s Wilting Tree of Life

A defeat for Planned Parenthood

Christians resurrect criminal justice reform talks

Mother Chooses Life, Accepts Jesus and Gets Married in One Week

‘We Have a Problem’: ISIS in Afghanistan ‘Not Getting Better’ as US Mulls Thousands More Troops

Bomber planning to attack Mecca’s Grand Mosque blows himself up

Spurgeon collection launched online

The American campus: A dangerous place for ideas

Responding to Pride Month with Genuine Love
Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Last week's edition is here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Coming Soon: The Revised Apologetics Study Bible for Students

It was my genuine privilege to have had the opportunity to contribute an article to the forthcoming revised Apologetics Study Bible for Students.  For those who desire to always be "...ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..." (1 Peter 3:15), this is an invaluable resource.

As general editor Sean McDowell explains:

"The student apologetics Bible first released in 2010 and has sold over 160,000 copies.  To be honest, this has blown away my expectations.  This shows the hunger for both relevant and practical resources that tackle the real questions students are asking.  On July 1 we are releasing an updated, expanded, and improved version.  Here are a few ways the update will be different from the first version:

1.Outdated articles have been removed or updated.
2. Individual authors went through each of their articles and improved them substantially.
3. There are 12 new articles on “hot” topics like tattoos, euthanasia, transgenderism, Islamic Jihad, religious freedom, singleness, race, and more.
4. Each of the special features (Bones & Dirt, Tactics, Twisted Scriptures, Stories, and Fast Facts) have been expanded with 5-10 more articles."1

Some of the articles within include:
  • Why does God allow evil?
  • If I can’t see God, how do I know He is real?
  • Can God’s love be reconciled with the order to kill the Canaanites?
  • Is it okay to pick and choose my religious beliefs and practices?
  • What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
  • If God made everything, why shouldn’t I smoke pot?2
You can learn more about this excellent resource here.

Pre-order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

How Old is the Earth? by Chris Sherrod

Article: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? by Mike Licona

Book Review: The Fate of the Apostles by Sean McDowell

Footnotes:
1. Sean McDowell, "Coming Soon: The Revised Apologetics Study Bible for Students," June 20, 2017.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Free Printable Mormon Tract


According to Apologia Church, this Mormon Tract (which you can download here for free!) "has aided in bringing people to Christ from the LDS church.

Let this tract do the heavy lifting and use the verses provided to engage and start confidently making irrefutable with your Mormon friends.

Each topic is thoroughly covered using their scripture vs. Bible Scriptures.

- The nature of God
- Who is Jesus
- A LDS member’s responsibilities
- How LDS gain salvation"

You can get your free downloadable tract here!  The above video demonstrates how to use it.

Learn more about Apologia Church and Pastor Jeff Durbin here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Is Mormonism Just Another Christian Denomination?

What is the Book of Mormon? by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

Thinking about Mormonism by Brett Kunkle

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Apologetics Interview with Mike Felker by Brian Auten of Apologetics315

I recently listened to this excellent interview by Brian Auten of Apologetics315 with apologist Mike Felker.

Auten explains that Felker "has an emphasis on interacting with Jehovah's Witnesses. He talks about his background, the overall belief system of JWs, The Watchtower Society, their various teachings regarding salvation, the afterlife, Jesus, the trinity, etc. He also discusses strategies for interaction including what to focus on and what to avoid."

Interestingly, Felker studied with various Jehovah's Witnesses for a two year period.  He offers first-hand accounts of what they believe, how they live and how to reach them effectively.  This interview was personally beneficial and Mike's work has been helpful to me numerous times in the past.

You can listen to this interview here.

Learn more about Mike and his work here.

Finally, if you haven't already, checkout Apologetics315's archived interviews with various apologists, philosophers and theologians here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Free E-book- Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock: What to say to Jehovah's Witnesses when They come Knocking on Your Door by Mike Licona

When the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses Come Knocking

Does the Reference to Jesus as a "Mighty God" indicate that Jesus is a Lesser God than God the Father?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Debate Video: "Who is God?" featuring Dr. James White and Bro. Joe Ventlacion


In this video, Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries debates Bro. Joe Ventilacion of Iglesia ni Cristo, moderated by Dale Bartcher of Family Heritage Alliance.

Dr. White defends the affirmative: “The Bible teaches that within the one Being that is God there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Bro. Joe Ventilacion argues the negative.

This event was held in Rapid City, SD on April 21st, 2017. This event was arranged and coordinated by the ministry of South Dakota Apologetics.

Dr. White's opening statement is a masterful defense of trinitarianism.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

My Favorite Analogy of the Trinity

Article: Understanding the Trinity by Peter S. Williams

Free Online E-book: Letters to a Mormon Elder by James R. White

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Unexpected Blessings of Fatherhood

In this post, Reverend Sean Martin, Human Coalition’s National Church Outreach Director, shares his story and provides a few practical ways fathers can model the virtues of a strong work ethic, reliance, trustworthiness, meekness, humility, compassion, and empathy. They are as follows:


  • When your child asks you to play a game or read a book with them, put aside the task at hand and do it.

  • Involve them in chores around the house. Whether you have 1 child or 11 children, there’s always something that needs to be done.
  •   
  • Even at the end of the day, when you’re exhausted and just want to fall into bed, be there for your kids. I guarantee your teens will want to have their deepest and most meaningful conversations at 11:00 p.m.

  • You can read the post in full here. Happy belated Father's Day!

    Stand firm in Christ,
    Chase

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    The Case for Case Making



    Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to the youth students at our church on the topic of discipleship.  The lesson I used as part of my preparation included passages from Matthew chapters 4 and 9 to show that Jesus’ team of disciples weren’t necessarily what we would consider the “cream of the crop.”  The other point emphasized in the lesson was that we must first repent and believe before becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.

    Also during this time, I had started reading J. Warner Wallace’s Forensic Faith.  In the preface, he describes the “awkward truth” of the Case for Case Making.  This prompted me to pose a question to the students- “What needs to come first? Repentance or belief?  The point I was hoping to make was that not only is belief the first step, but understanding why you believe.  Meaning, we are Christians because we believe Christianity is true. 

    Wallace makes a great point that we as Christians “have a history of doing whatever it takes to respond to real human challenges. But there is another real challenge on the horizon.  Christians are leaving the church in record numbers.  Surveys and polls have been exposing this trend for many years now.” 1

    While I think it’s critically important to work through the Bible with our young people, it’s just as important to emphasize the truths of Christianity so they can begin to understand the overwhelming evidence for what we believe to be true.

    Click here for the Truthbomb review of Forensic Faith.


    Footnotes:

    1.   J. Warner Wallace: Forensic Faith p. 26


    God Bless,

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

    John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle on Christian Young People

    "Christian young people who may not even be looking for reasons to question their faith find that non-Christian ideas about God, truth, and morality are looking for them.

    That's why it's more critical than ever that parents, church leaders, and mentors create an environment where kids can ask tough questions and wrestle with controversial topics.  The ignore-controversial-subjects-and-they'll-go-away approach to raising kids won't do.  In the information age, plenty of voices are willing to talk with our kids if we aren't."1

    Our review of this work if forthcoming.  Thus far, it is excellent!



    Courage and Godspeed,

    Chad

    Related Posts

    Book Preview: A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle

    Audio: Why I Am a Christian- Understanding Truth by Brett Kunkle

    The One Minute Apologist Interviews Brett Kunkle on Mormonism

    Footnote:
    1. John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle, A Practical Guide to Culture, p. 82-83.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Video: The Quran, the Bible, and the Islamic Dilemma by Dr. David Wood


    In this short video (8 min 31 sec), Dr. David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics argues that "the Quran affirms the inspiration, preservation, and authority of the Christian scriptures (including the Torah and the Gospel). Yet the Quran contradicts the Christian scriptures on fundamental doctrines (e.g., Jesus' death, resurrection, and deity). By affirming scriptures that contradict Islam, the Quran self-destructs."

    A summary of his argument is as follows:

    1. Either Christians have the inspired, preserved and authoritative Word of God or we do not.
    2. If we have the inspired, preserved and authoritative Word of God, Islam is false because the Quran contradicts Christian Scriptures.
    3. If we don't have the inspired, preserved and authoritative Word of God, Islam is false because the Quran affirms the inspiration, preservation and authority of the Christian Scriptures.
    4. So, if the Bible is the Word of God, Islam is false.  If the Bible is not the Word of God, Islam is false.
    5. Therefore, Islam self-destructs.

    For those who would like to learn more about this argument, checkout this recent interview Dr. Wood did with Dr. Frank Turek.

    If you haven't already, I encourage our readers to visit Dr. Wood's outstanding YouTube page here.

    Courage and Godspeed,
    Chad

    Related Posts

    Video: Why the United States is a Christian Nation by David Wood

    Debate Video: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? - John Loftus vs. David Wood

    Video: Where Did Jesus Say, "I Am God, Worship Me"? by David Wood

    Friday, June 09, 2017

    Video: Street-Level Apologetics by Jeff Durbin


    In this featured video, Pastor Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church in Tempe, AZ offers what may be the clearest introduction to pre-suppositional apologetics I have heard.

    To learn more about Durbin and Apologia Church, go here.

    You can find Pastor Durbin on YouTube here.

    Courage and Godspeed,
    Chad

    Related Posts

    Article: What is the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God? by gotQuestions.org

    Video: Understanding Greg Bahnsen by Kenneth Samples

    Debate Audio: Dr. Gordon Stein vs. Dr. Greg Bahnsen- Does God Exist?

    Thursday, June 08, 2017

    Open Theism, Fatalism or Molinism: An Analogy

    So I got home from my local bible study last night and my head is buzzing. Here's the deal: At the beginning of the notes prepared by the “facilitator” it states that the only authority we are going to follow is God’s word. All notes contained in the outline are from Calvin, Henry, Piper, MacArthur and other reformed theologians/pastors. During the study there is open discussion but all comments are to be supported by God’s word. Everyone is welcome because there is no specific doctrinal mandate to follow a certain belief.

    We are studying John 6 and this week the focus was on versus 35-40. In the notes that were handed out the introductory summary stated that “salvation is solely of the Lord for only those chosen by Him.” (Help me Lord, I’ve fallen in with Calvinists, and I can’t get out!)

    Anyhow, here’s where I’m going. During the discussion the doctrines of election and predestination, God’s sovereignty vs man’s free will took center stage. I wanted to try to explain the differences between Calvinism, Arminianism and Molinism in a one-minute nutshell that can be easily grasped by the average lay person (can I get this on the One-Minute Apologist?), but couldn’t come up with anything at the moment. So after I got home and was able to do some reflection, I came up with the following analogy:




    In God’s creation, William and Richard are each going to hold up a finger to indicate their choice about God.




    Open Theism (Arminianism): God has no idea what each will choose. William freely chooses to give God the thumbs up and Richard freely chooses to give God “the finger”. God doesn’t know what will happen next.

    Fatalism (Calvinism): God has determined before the foundation of the world that William, predestined and elect by God’s unconditional grace, will give God the thumbs up. After being regenerated by the Holy Spirit and receiving saving faith from God, William gives God the thumbs up. Richard, without election or grace, in his depraved state gives God “the finger”. God has also determined and knows what will happen next.

    Molinism: Both William and Richard have free will to make a choice about God and can give either a thumbs up or “the finger”. God foreknows there are possible worlds in which both give the thumbs up, there are possible worlds in which only one gives a thumbs up and there are possible worlds where both give “the finger”. God desires that both would give the thumbs up. God foreknows there are some worlds in which William freely gives the thumbs up and other worlds in which he freely gives “the finger”. God foreknows there is no feasible world in which Richard ever freely gives a thumbs up. God creates the actual world. William freely gives God the thumbs up. Richard freely gives God “the finger”. God foreknows what will happen next.

    So what do you think of the analogy? Is it a good representation of the doctrinal views?

    Read the book, don’t wait for the movie.

    Have a little hope on me, Roger

    Wednesday, June 07, 2017

    Cosmology, the Big Bang, and the Beginning

    Introduction

    I recall when I learned that my father had been diagnosed with dementia.  The news was not immediately devastating because I wasn’t convinced his diagnosis was correct.  At the time, my father lived 4 hours away and was on his own.  I was persuaded that once we moved him closer to us and were able to manage his medication, diet and medical appointments that he would be fine.   I told myself that the symptoms he was experiencing were just due to old age and stress.

    My brother and I were able to move him into an apartment that was only 5 minutes from my home. We were able to manage his medication, diet and medical appointments just as I had hoped; however, as I cared for my Dad, evidence began to accumulate that confirmed his diagnosis.  Dad began to have conversations with himself in the mirror because he didn’t recognize his own reflection.  He was convinced it was someone looking at him through a window.  He no longer could keep track of time and lost his ability to read.  Finally, he no longer remembered my name or knew who I was.  I could no longer hide behind the possibility that Dad was just getting old or suffering from extreme stress.   Although the thought of my dad’s life ending this way was personally repugnant, I had to face the facts- my Dad had severe dementia.

    The story of how I came to accept my Dad’s diagnosis of dementia illustrates just how difficult it can be to evaluate evidence and draw a sound conclusion when strong emotions are involved.   Sometimes we reject a conclusion not because it is unsupported by evidence, but because we find it personally distasteful.

    A Universe with a Beginning

    My reluctance to accept my Dad’s dementia diagnosis is not all that different from the reluctance demonstrated by many in the scientific community when the evidence for the “Big Bang” was discovered.  The “Big Bang” describes the scientific theory that all space, matter and time came into being at some point in the finite past.  This was significant because “all throughout history men have assumed that the universe as a whole was unchanging…the universe itself was just there…”1 The reaction by many in the scientific community was curious.  Professor of Physics at Auburn University  J. M. Wersinger explains:

    "At first the scientific community was very reluctant to accept the idea of a birth of the universe... It took time, observational evidence, and careful verification of predictions made by the Big Bang model to convince the scientific community to accept the idea of a cosmic genesis...[T]he Big Bang is a very successful model...that imposed itself on a reluctant scientific community."2

    Albert Einstein himself called the discovery “irritating.”3 Contemporary of Einstein and physicist Arthur Eddington wrote, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me…I should like to find a genuine loophole.”4 Phillip Morrison of MIT said, “I find it hard to accept the Big Bang Theory.  I would like to reject it, but I have to accept the facts.”5 The late agnostic Robert Jastrow comments on the reaction of his colleagues:

    “There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions.  They come from the heart, whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain.  Why?”6

    What did these scientific thinkers find so “irritating” and “repugnant” about the discovery that the universe had a beginning?  Why the reluctance on the part of the scientific community to accept the hard evidence?  Before we answer those questions, let’s briefly survey some of the evidence for the "Big Bang."7

    The Evidence that the Universe Began to Exist

    Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

    As author J. Warner Wallace explains, throughout history, philosophers and “scientific thinkers (embracing the dynamics of Newtonian physics) believed the universe was infinitely old, uniform, and unchanging.”8

    In 1916, Albert Einstein attempted to apply his general theory of relativity to the cosmos and he found these convictions were false.  His own calculations revealed that all space, all time and all matter had a beginning.  The idea of a finite universe was so foreign to the great Einstein that he introduced a mathematical constant into his equations to maintain the appearance of an unchanging and infinitely old universe.  Einstein would later call this the greatest blunder of his career.9  

    By 1922, Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann uncovered Einsteins “blunder” as a mistake in algebra and astronomer Willem de Sitter found that General Relativity required the universe to be expanding.

    Einstein’s theory of General Relativity has now been proven accurate to five decimals places and demands an absolute beginning for time, space, and matter.  It proves that time, space, and matter are co-relative.  They are co-dependent.  You can't have one without the others.

    The Expanding Universe

    As already noted, General Relativity predicted an expanding universe.  In 1929 astronomer Edwin Hubble made a shocking discovery.  He found that the light from distance galaxies appeared to be redder than expected.  Philosopher William Lane Craig explains the implications:

    “This ‘redshift’ in the light was most plausibly due to the stretching of the light waves as the galaxies move away from us.  Wherever Hubble trained his telescope in the night sky, he observed this same redshift in the light from the galaxies.  It appeared that we are at the center of a cosmic explosion, and all of the other galaxies are flying away from us at fantastic speeds!”10

    Imagine with me for a moment that you could watch a video recording of the history of the universe in reverse.  You would see all matter in the universe collapse back to a point that is mathematically and logically nothing.11 This is known as the singularity.  In other words, there was nothing and then the entire universe exploded into being.  

    Craig 12 is once again instructive: 

    “As you trace the expansion of the universe back in time, everything gets closer and closer together. Eventually the distance between any two points in space becomes zero. You can’t get any closer than that! So at that point you’ve reached the boundary of space and time. Space and time cannot be extended any further back than that. It is literally the beginning of space and time.
    Eventually, the distance between any two points in space becomes zero. So space-time can be represented geometrically as a cone. What’s significant about this is that while a cone can be extended indefinitely in one direction, it has a boundary point in the other direction. Because this direction represents time and the boundary point lies in the past, the model implies that past time is finite and had a beginning.

    Because space-time is the arena in which all matter and energy exist, the beginning of space-time is also the beginning of all matter and energy.  It’s the beginning of the universe.
    Notice that there’s simply nothing prior to the initial boundary of space-time. Let’s not be misled by words. When cosmologists say, ‘There is nothing prior to the initial boundary,’ they do not mean that there is some state of affairs prior to it, and that is a state of nothingness. That would be to treat nothing as though it were something! Rather they mean that at the boundary point, it is false that ‘There is something prior to this point.’”13

    Radiation from the Big Bang

    In 1964, physicists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson couldn’t get rid of the radio signal “noise” from their large antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey.   No matter where they turned their antenna, this mysterious “noise” remained.  What they originally thought was bird droppings deposited on the antenna turned out to be a significant confirmation that the universe had a beginning!  Penzias and Wilson had discovered the residual background radiation caused when the universe first came into being.  Commonly referred to as the cosmic background radiation, this residual background radiation is actually light and heat from the initial explosion.  As author Frank Turek explains:

    “This light is no longer visible because its wavelength has been stretched by the expanding universe to wavelengths slightly shorter than those produced by a microwave oven.  But the heat can still be detected.”14

    Penzias and Wilson would go on to win a Nobel Prize for their discovery.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics

    Simply put, the well-established second law of thermodynamics 15 says that the quantity of energy within a closed, isolated system like our universe remains the same, though the amount of usable energy depreciates over time.  The implication is that the energy in our universe will ultimately “even out” until the entire universe is uniform in energy, temperature, and disorder.16

    To illustrate, author and speaker J. Warner Wallace asks us to “imagine walking into a room and observing a windup toy police car.  The longer you watch it roll, the slower it moves.  You realize the car is winding down-that is, the amount of usable energy is decreasing.  It’s reasonable to infer the car was recently wound up prior to your entry into the room.  The fact the toy car is not yet completely unwound indicates it was wound up recently.  If the car had been wound much earlier, we would expect it to be motionless by the time we entered the room.”17

    Wallace then applies this illustration to the universe:

    “In a similar way, the fact our universe still exhibits useful energy-even though the second law of thermodynamics dictates we are on our way to a cosmic ‘heat death’- indicates a beginning.  Otherwise, and if the universe were infinitely old, our cosmos should have run out of usable energy by now.  We can reasonably infer it was once tightly wound and full of energy.”18

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics requires a beginning of the universe.

    Quantitative Evidence from the Abundance of Helium

    Having died in 2001 not accepting the “Big Bang” himself, it is ironic that Sir Fred Hoyle’s work on how stars formed would also demonstrate that the universe had a beginning.  J. Warner Wallace once again proves helpful:

    “As he (Hoyle) studied the way elements are created within stars, he was able to calculate the amount of helium created if the universe came into being from nothing.  Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe (hydrogen is the first), but in order to form helium by nuclear fusion, temperatures must be incredibly high and conditions must be exceedingly dense.  These would have been the conditions if the universe came into being from nothing.  Hoyle’s calculations related to the formation of helium happen to coincide with our measurements of helium in the universe today.  This, of course, is consistent with the universe having a moment of beginning.”19

    As astrophysics researcher Paolo Saraceno wrote:

    “The discovery of the background radiation, together with the observed abundance of helium, was a mortal blow to the theory of a stationary universe; only a initial fireball could have produced it.  This meant the universe had an origin.”20

     The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem

    In 2003, leading scientists Arvind Borde, Alan Guth and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe that has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.  The now famous “Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem” implies that even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called multiverse composed of many universes, the multiverse must have an absolute beginning!21

    Vilenkin explains:

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.  With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe.  There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”22

    Divine Implications

    The evidence for the “Big Bang” is quite good.  Yet, as one prominent philosopher explains, “the history of twentieth-century cosmology can be seen as a series of one failed attempt after another to avoid the absolute beginning predicted by the standard big bang model.  Unfortunately, the impression arises in the minds of laymen that the field of cosmology is in constant turnover, with no lasting results.  What the laymen doesn’t understand is that this parade of failed theories only serves to confirm the prediction of the standard model that the universe began to exist.  That prediction has now stood for over eighty years throughout a period of enormous advances in observational astronomy and creative theoretical work in astrophysics.”23

    So why is it “irritating” and “repugnant” to some that the universe had a beginning?  Why has the scientific community been so reluctant to accept the birth of the universe?  It is my contention that it is because the origin of the universe has divine implications and some have been very forthright about this fact.  Arthur Eddington admitted, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”24 The late agnostic Robert Jastrow commented that “…there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”25 Wersinger contends that the origin of the universe “seemed to have to call for an act of supernatural creation…”26

    Conclusion

    My Father went home to be with the Lord 3 years ago.  I still remember finding out that he had been diagnosed with dementia.  I initially rejected the idea and although the implications were incomprehensible to me, the evidence continued to accumulate and I could no longer ignore the obvious.  The more I suppressed the truth regarding his condition, the sillier I most likely looked to friends and family.  Ultimately, I had to follow the evidence to its logical conclusion.

    In like manner, the standard cosmological model has been accepted by the “clear majority of the cosmological community,”27 but as we have seen, not without some resistance from the scientific community.  It has been my contention that some have resisted or rejected the standard model not because it lacks evidential merit, but because it has divine implications.  Some have even resorted to the fantastic and unsupported speculation.  Physicist Lawrence Krauss has attempted to redefine the term "nothing" to mean "something."28  Others, such as atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett, have even advanced the idea of a self-created universe!29  Atheist philosopher Quentin Smith is forthcoming regarding the attempts atheists have made to deal with the Big Bang:

    “The idea that the Big Bang theory allows us to infer that the universe began to exist about 15 billion years ago has attracted the attention of many theists. This theory seemed to confirm or at least lend support to the theological doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Indeed, the suggestion of a divine creation seemed so compelling that the notion that 'God created the Big Bang' has taken a hold on popular consciousness and become a staple in the theistic component of ‘educated common sense’. By contrast, the response of atheists and agnostics to this development has been comparatively lame.”30

    I appreciate the fact that many in the unbelieving community pride themselves on being children of reason.  However, it seems with the current evidence for the beginning of the universe, that Smith is right.  If you are an atheist, "the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing."31

    The evidence is clear.  The universe began to exist.  To suggest otherwise is to contradict the evidence. That doesn't seem very reasonable to me.

    Courage and Godspeed,
    Chad

    Footnotes:
    1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 87.
    2. J.M. Wersinger, "Genesis: The Origin of the Universe," National Forum (Winter 1996), 11, 9, 12 as quoted by Dr. William Lane Craig in On Guard, p. 91.
    3. Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 73.
          4. Ibid.
          5. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, p. 112-113.
    6. Ibid., 113.
    7. For the purposes of this post I will be focusing on the scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning.  However, there are excellent philosophical reasons for believing that the universe had a beginning as well: 1) An actually infinite number of things cannot exist 2) You can't pass through an infinite number of elements one at a time.  For more on these arguments, see here.
    8. J. Warner Wallace, God's Crime Scene, p. 32.
    9. Geisler and Turek, p. 74.
    10. Craig, p. 88.
    11. Geisler and Turek, p. 79.
    12. For those who would question William Lane Craig's credibility in matters of cosmology, I would encourage them to consider his publications on the topic here.  His published work on cosmological issues has appeared in a wide range of scientific and philosophical journals including Astrophysics and Space Science, Nature, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, The Journal of Philosophy, and International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    13. William Lane Craig, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument," 2015.  Numerous comments by physicists and scientists confirm Craig's contention.  Atheist physicist Victor Stenger writes that "the universe exploded out of nothingness" (V.J. Stenger, "The Face of Chaos," Free Inquiry 13 (Winter 1992-1993): 13.  
    Arno Penzias, who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the microwave background, said: "Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the right conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.” (Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.)  Prominent physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler conclude "At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated in such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo" (John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 442.   To see more quotes such as this, see here.
          14. Geisler and Turek, p. 81.
    15. 
    Interestingly, it was Arthur Eddington who said, “…if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.” (Quoted in Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint (New York: Simon &Shuster, 1988), 20.
    16. Wallace, p. 34.
    17. Ibid.
    18. Ibid., p. 34-35.
    19. Ibid. p. 35.
    20. 
    Paolo Saraceno, Beyond the Stars: Our Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe (Singapore: World Scientific, 2012), 26 as quoted by J. Warner Wallace, God’s Crime Scene, p. 37.
    21. Craig, p. 92.
    22. 
    Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176.91-92.
    23. Craig, p. 91-92.
    24. 
    Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 178.
    25 
    “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982.
    26. Ibid.
    27. As astrophysicist Andrew Liddle and astronomer Jon Loveday affirmed, "The standard cosmological model is a striking success, as a phenomenological description of the cosmological data...the model's success in explaining high-precision observations has led a clear majority of the cosmological community to accept it as a good account of how the Universe works" (Oxford Companion to Cosmology [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009], 8).
    28. See here.  For more detailed refutations of Krauss's work I recommend Peter S. Williams's article "A Universe from Someone: Against Lawrence Krauss" located here and here is a nice collection of podcasts by Dr William Lane Craig responding to Krauss's book A Universe from Nothing.
    29. To see a response to this view, see here.
    30. As quoted by Mike Licona here.
    31. William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism and the Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 135.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2017

    Three Things First Responders Can Teach Christian About Engaging Culture


    In the subject piece, J Warner Wallace describes the following things Christians can learn from those on the front line domestically:

    Set a High Standard
    Engage in Intentional Training
    Rely on the Strength of Community

    The post can be read in its entirety here.

    Stand firm in Christ,
    Chase

    Monday, June 05, 2017

    Just Visiting

    May I ask a few questions?

    Did you notice visitors in your church on Sunday?
    Did you take an opportunity to greet them?
    What were their names?
    Do they live nearby or are they just visiting?
    Are they new to the area?
    Did you offer for them to sit with you?
    Did they need assistance with anything?
    Are they committed Christians, new to the faith or exploring what this Christianity thing is all about?

    Or…

    Did you fail to take time to notice any visitors?
    When the service paused for the “meet and greet”, did you only seek out friends and acquaintances or did you look for some less familiar faces?
    Did you say anything more than “good morning” or “welcome” to those you greeted?
    Do you know of anyone in your church in any kind of need - material or otherwise?

    Is the only evidence of a visitor a card dropped in an offering plate?

    I’ve been visiting a lot of churches, searching for a place of fellowship and belonging to build friendships and grow in discipleship. You would think this shouldn’t be a very difficult task. It has proven to be a very long and lonely experience. Such things should not be so.

    Despite the difficulty, my search will continue. 
    Have a little hope on me, Roger (from Lower Slower Delaware)

    Sunday, June 04, 2017

    Friday, June 02, 2017

    One Minute Apologist- Was There a World Wide Flood?

    In this video, Jason Jimenez of Stand Strong Ministries gives his reasons as to why he believes the account of The Flood in Genesis chapters 6-8 was a global flood as opposed to a localized flood.


    Thursday, June 01, 2017

    Book Review: Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace

    Introduction

    As an elementary school teacher, I can appreciate the importance of being prepared.  Everyday before my students arrive at school, I know that there are numerous things that need to be ready in order to be an effective instructor.  Most importantly, I need to know the material I am teaching and be ready to present it in a way that my students can understand and apply.  When I teach my students anything, the ultimate goal is for them to take ownership of their own learning and be able to execute the skill I am teaching them independently.

    The same is true for Christian case makers.  Our job is not only to present the truth of the Christian faith in a way that is understandable (evangelism), but we also want to instruct in such a way that our listeners will ultimately be able to make the case themselves (discipleship).  We want our listeners to know Christ and then be equipped to make Him known to others.

    However, this is often times easier said than done.  And cold-case homicide detective and Christian case maker J. Warner Wallace understands.  He writes:

    "When I first decided to accept my duty as a Christian case maker, I felt overwhelmed by all the diverse disciplines from which I could make the case for Christianity.  I was already in my thirties and busier than ever as a homicide detective.  I couldn't imagine how I would ever find the time to master all the philosophy and science."[p. 185-186]

    Can you relate?  I know that I can.  And I have talked to numerous other Christians who desire to make the case for Christianity, but believe it is too difficult for them to master.  In Forensic Faith, J. Warner Wallace's latest offering, not only will you learn the importance of "making a case for case making," but you will also learn how to prepare yourself and engage with both believers and unbelievers in a winsome and effective manner.  If you have wondered where to start on your journey of becoming a Christian case maker, look no further!

    Layout of the Book

    Forensic Faith is the shortest (203 p.) of Wallace's three major titles.1   This work includes a preface, four chapters, and a postscript.  Further, as with the author's other works, he includes "bonus features" such as "rebuttal notes" and an "evidence locker."  These tools are especially helpful for the reader who desires to go deeper.

    Book Content

    In the Preface, there is a sense of urgency in the Wallace's words.  He stresses the importance of Christians being evidential about their beliefs and not accidental.  One must not hold to Christianity simply because they were raised in the church or because our parents happen to be Christians. Wallace argues:

    "Christians must shift from accidental belief to evidential trust.  It's time to know why you believe what you believe.  Christians must embrace a forensic faith.  In case you haven't been paying attention, Christians living in America and Europe are facing a growingly skeptical culture.  Polls and surveys continue to confirm the decline of Christianity.  When believers explain why they think Christianity is true, unbelievers are understandably wary of the reasons they've been given so far."[p. 23]  So, what is the answer to this very real problem?  Wallace contends that "...we'd better embrace a more thoughtful version of Christianity, one that understands the value of evidence, the importance of philosophy, and the virtue of good reasoning.[p. Ibid.]

    This reader could not agree more.  As Wallace points out, most Christians are largely unprepared to make the case for what they believe and many deny the need to make the case in the first place. As the author rightly puts it:

    "We are a largely anti-intellectual group, even though the history of Christianity is replete with some of the greatest thinkers who ever lived."[p. Ibid.]

    In Chapter 1, the author encourages readers to embrace their calling as a Christian case maker. Wallace begins by demonstrating the uniqueness of Christianity among other religions.  He argues:

    "Why should anyone believe what Jesus said rather than what Buddha, the Hindu sages, or Confucius said?  The authority of Jesus is grounded in more than the strength of an idea; it's established by the verifiability of an event.  When Jesus rose from the dead, He established His authority as God, and His resurrection provides us with an important Christian distinctive.  The Resurrection can be examined for its reliablity, and the evidential verifiability of Christianity separates it from every other religious system."[p. 35]  

    Bearing this in mind, Wallace rightly points out:

    "If thoughtful, evidential verifiability is a Christian distinctive, shouldn't a thoughtful, evidential approach to the evidence for Christianity be our distinctive Christian duty?"[p. 37]

    The author proceeds by arguing that "Christianity encourages rational exploration and reasonable examination" and, as a consequence, "it's our Christian duty to examine and test what we believe so we can be fully convinced."[p. 38-39]

    The chapter concludes by offering the reader historical examples of Christian case makers such as Jesus Christ, His followers, and the Early Church leaders.

    In Chapter 2, and throughout this work, Wallace continually calls upon his experience as a police officer and detective to highlight the importance of changing our approach to making disciples.  It is Wallace's contention that we must stop teaching our young people, and begin training them.  Training involves putting instruction into practice.  The author recognizes the importance of teaching, but as Wallace points out, even Paul made a distinction between teaching and training. (See 1 Timothy 3:16-17).   For those looking for a practical way to do train students, Wallace offers the following simple acronym:

    T- Test
    Challenge each other to expose our weaknesses.

    R- Require
    Expect more from each other than we sometimes think we can handle

    A- Arm
    Learn the truth and how to articulate it

    I- Involve
    Deploy into the battlefield of ideas

    N- Nurture
    Tend to our wounds and model the nature of Jesus [p. 74.]

    This reviewer was impressed with the vast amount of practical ideas and tools packed into this chapter for the reader wanting concrete starting advice in Christian case making.  One example is the "The Forensic Readiness Review."  This is a 21 minute "test" of sorts for believers to take and, as Wallace explains, "This...will likely open your eyes to your own competency and to the readiness of the young people in your family."  The test includes some of the most common objections to the Christian worldview.

    This chapter is all about action.  The author is acutely aware of the importance of "hitting the streets" and putting what you have learned into practice.  Further, the more you practice making the case, the better you'll become at it and the more you will see the necessity of training.

    In Chapter 3, Wallace offers five points that will help readers examine the claims of Christianity and other truth claims like a good detective.  This reader appreciated Wallace's unique take on fundamental Christian disciplines such as Bible reading, note taking, and reading Bible verses in their context.  I also appreciated how throughout the book the author peppers in answers to common questions and objections people have about the Christian faith.

    In Chapter 4, the author draws upon his extensive past experience in court rooms and offers five principles to help readers learn to share what they believe like a good prosecutor.  As Wallace points out, it is not only vital that we are prepared to share the case for Christianity, but we also must be wise about who we share with it (our "jury") and how we share it.  Like a good attorney, how we deliver the content is sometimes as important as the content itself.  If you are someone who finds yourself tensing up when sharing your Christian convictions, this chapter will prepare you to share your beliefs with competence, clarity, and passion.

    Strengths of the Book

    J. Warner Wallace has done the church a tremendous service with this work.  Forensic Faith is easily the most comprehensive guide I have read to date for the believer desiring to become an effective Christian case maker.  Not only does Wallace place numerous practical Christian case making tools into the hands of readers, but he also models how to use those tools through clear illustrations, sharp drawings, and engaging "true crime" stories.

    Moreover, Wallace suggests numerous feasible ways Christians can use these tools and put what they have learned into action.  Regardless of your comfort level with theology and apologetics, the author has suggestions that can be exercised promptly.

    Finally, Wallace defies the common canard that Christians are afraid of opposing views.  Throughout this work, the author encourages believes to read and become familiar with the best arguments of atheism and other opposing worldviews.  He further understands the importance of making sure that our students are familiar with these arguments as well.  It is his contention that we must inoculate our students rather than isolate them.  That is to say, we must slowly expose them to doses of arguments from nonbelievers like Bart Ehrman, Peter Boghossian and Victor Stenger so that they are able to adequately address them with evidential confidence.

    Conclusion

    Let's be honest.  The third film in a trilogy is many times a dud.  It rarely meets our expectations. This reader is happy to report that Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace's ends his trilogy of Christian case making books on a very high note.  Wallace successfully demonstrates why now, more than ever, it is of first importance that Christians are prepared to "make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" (1 Peter 3:15b).

    As Wallace writes, "It's time to put up or shut up."  It is time to stop making excuses and engage the culture with the truth of the gospel.  The time for excuses is over.  Detective Wallace has made learning how to make the case easier than ever.  Forensic Faith is a systematic "how-to" manual of Christian case making.

    Get your copy, read it, and apply it.  Get out there and make the case.  Jesus did; therefore, we, His followers, should do likewise.

    You can order your copy here.

    Courage and Godspeed,
    Chad

    Many thanks to J. Warner Wallace and David C. Cook for the review copy!

    Footnotes:
    1. You can find our review of Jim's first book Cold-Case Christianity here.  You can find our review of Jim's second book God's Crime Scene here.