Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book Review: Faith in the Age of Reason by Jonathan Hill

Faith in the Age of Reason by Jonathan Hill is a concise history of the Enlightenment from Galileo to Kant. The goal of the book is to acquaint the reader with the central ideas and figures of the Enlightenment to show the progression of ideas and philosophies between the mid-seventeenth century and the year 1800. This short chronology includes many vignettes of important historical figures, their thoughts, and accomplishments.

The book begins by describing the philosophical and religious thought systems that preceded the Enlightenment: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. Most notably, the Middle Ages was rooted in the notion of the authority of the church. Later, through the Reformation and the Enlightenment, scripture and science challenged this authority. The “Age of Reason,” a term used synonymously with “Enlightenment,” would bring an end to the idea of a unified body of knowledge among the various disciplines.

“The most cherished ideal of the Age of Reason was reason itself: the human capacity, by means of investigation rather than by relying on external authority, to understand.”1 And so the author continues by offering a historical overview of the progression of the Enlightenment from its inception, and includes brief descriptions of the key thinkers. After this overview, the book gives a more detailed look at some of the broader themes of the Age of Reason.

Next we follow the progression of scientific thought, as the belief that the world was fundamentally comprehensible replaced previous ideas of mystery and magic. From Galileo’s and Halley’s discoveries in astronomy, through Newton’s breakthroughs and his Pricipia, to further progression in medicine and biology, the author shows how the fundamental changes in the view of the world affected the leaps forward in the hard disciplines of the sciences.

After a discussion of scientific progress, Hill moves on to illustrate the changes that occurred in the church and in philosophy. Various shifts from the Reformation caused a period of confessionalism and scholasticism in which doctrines were more clearly defined and clarified. Within philosophy, the author points out that there was no clear distinction made in the Enlightenment mind between philosophy and science. The word “scientist” had not been invented yet. These new movements in science had a direct influence on science and religion. Among the influential were such thinkers as Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Berkeley.

Hill proceeds to discuss some of the deeper elements of Enlightenment thought, and their shifts from earlier medieval paradigms. Of note would be the shift from the idea of the essential agreement between faith and reason. The Middle Age system of thought saw faith “perfecting” reason, as displayed in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. The medieval thinkers had the idea that, “although all the different branches of knowledge form a coherent whole, it can still be divided into different disciplines, each of which has its own method of inquiry ... the new philosophy was breaking this understanding of human knowledge apart.”2

The author concludes the book after a few chapters discussing the development of various forms of deism in England, France, and America. Deism becomes the “half-way house” between Christianity and atheism. Atheism was an extremely new way of thinking that was seeded from the deistic fruits of the Enlightenment.

Faith in the Age of Reason is a good resource book, littered with quotes, illustrations, and historical insets. As a basic primer on the progression of philosophical, scientific, and religious trends through the Enlightenment, this book provides a great introduction with many useful insights.

1 Jonathan Hill, Faith in the Age of Reason (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), p. 26.
2 Ibid., p. 117.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Alvin Plantinga & Daniel Dennett Debate MP3 Audio

Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett debate the topic: Science and Religion: Are they Compatible? at the recent Central Meeting of the American Philosophical Association.
UPDATE: Plantinga's opening statement transcribed here (pdf). The book containing the debate is Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (Point/Counter). Full MP3 Audio here.
Note: audio quality is low, but perhaps better than what you'll find elsewhere. It has been edited from "intolerable" to "tolerable." Complaints are welcome if you can provide cleaner audio of this one.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

5 New Reasons to Believe Podcasts

The website has just been revamped and improved. One of the great resources are 5 podcasts, all dealing with different scientific angles of the universe. Here they are:
Science News Flash - RSS | iTunes Link
Straight Thinking - RSS | iTunes Link
I Didn’t Know That - RSS | iTunes Link
Why the Universe Is The Way It Is - RSS | iTunes Link
The Cell’s Design - RSS | iTunes Link


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reliability of the Old Testament Documents MP3 Audio

Dr. Peter Gentry, Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gives this informative talk on the reliability of the Old Testament documents.

Full MP3 Audio here.
Original media here.

[HT: Our friends over at Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society]


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Plurality of Religions by Paul Copan MP3 Audio

Christian philosopher Paul Copan presents a talk on the plurality of religions and how they cannot all be true. Moreover, he presents the case for the truth of Christianity. Found at Veritas Forum.

Full MP3 Audio here.
(The Veritas description of the talk is inaccurate.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Greg Koukl Tactics Resources MP3 and Video

In tandem with his new book release, Greg Koukl discussed some apologetics Tactics on Issues, Etc. Here are the MP3 files from the podcast.

The Need for a Tactical Approach - MP3
The Columbo Tactic - MP3
The Columbo Tactic, Refined - MP3
The Suicide Tactic & Taking the Roof Off - MP3
Rhodes Scholar & Just the Facts, Ma'am - MP3

Also, the Stand to Reason blog recently released some short video snippets where Koukl answers some questions about tactics, below:
Tactics and Diplomacy - video
Tactics and Calvinism - video
Tactics on the Internet - video
Tactics and Non-Christians - video
Tactics and Courage - video
Tactics and Taking the Roof Off - video
Tactics and Christians - video
Dealing with Doubt - video


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Quote: Polycarp's Exhortation

"I exhort you, press on in your course, and exhort all men that they may be saved."

- Polycarp

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Can The Christian Know?

by Brian Auten

Christianity claims to be true. Christians believe it to be true. But can the Christian know that it is true? Moreover, can the believer who cannot prove Christianity to be true, legitimately say that he knows that Christianity is true? Our purpose here is twofold: to show that the Christian can legitimately claim to know that Christianity is true, and to explore how the Christian knows.

Truth and Belief
Before exploring the subject of knowledge, we must first define truth and belief. Truth can be defined as “that which corresponds to or adequately expresses what is real.”1 This is most commonly referred to as the correspondence theory of truth, which says that something is true if it comports, or corresponds, with reality. Truth has to do with the real. A proposition or statement is true if it accurately describes reality.

Belief can be described as a positive cognitive acceptance of something to be true. Belief tends to be propositional. That is to say, when a person believes, he is taking a proposition to be true. For example, the proposition “there is a cat in the tree” may be true or false. If a person takes the proposition to be true, then that person holds the belief that the cat is in the tree. Obviously, if there really is a cat in the tree, the belief is true. But if there is no cat in the tree, the belief is false.

Belief that something is true must be distinguished from belief in a person or ideal. Belief in carries a meaning more akin to trust and somewhat similar to faith. Often, belief that must precede belief in. For example, to believe in God, one must first believe that God exists.

With truth and belief properly defined, some distinctions can be made. First and foremost, belief does not make something true. Belief is subjective and independent of the actual state of reality. Second, the basic definition of belief should not be confused with the common religious term of belief (a sort of religious commitment). To mix these terms will create misunderstanding and lead to false conclusions. Belief, in our current use, is cognitive acceptance of a proposition’s truth.

What is Knowledge?
There are various kinds of knowledge, such as knowing how to do something, or knowing a person. For our purposes, we are dealing with knowing that. This kind of propositional knowledge is most commonly defined as “justified true belief.” In other words, knowledge must meet three requirements: 1) the proposition must be believed; 2) the proposition must be true; and 3) the knower must have some degree of justification in their belief. This standard definition of knowledge is what we are dealing with when determining what we know.

To say that a person has good justification for their belief simply means that they have good or adequate reasons to accept that a thing is true. As philosophers William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland explain:
…justification (or warrant) for a belief amounts to something like this: one has sufficient evidence for the belief, one formed and maintained the belief in a reliable way (e.g., on the basis of his senses or expert testimony and not by palm reading), or one’s intellectual and sensory faculties were functioning properly in a good intellectual environment when he formed the belief in question.2
So for something to meet the criteria of knowledge, not only must it be true and believed, but the person must have arrived at that belief not by unthinking happenstance, but by legitimate processes. Craig and Moreland continue: “Because it includes the notion of justification or warrant, [knowledge] involves believing what one epistemically ought to believe, believing what is right to believe, believing what it is intrinsically valuable or warranted to believe from an intellectual standpoint.”3

Knowledge and Certainty
Many may equate knowledge with the idea certainty. However, a very clear distinction must be made between knowledge and certainty. We can know what we are certain of, but certainty is not necessary for one to know. As Craig and Moreland explain:
If someone knows something, it does not necessarily mean that the person has complete certainty about that thing. “Being completely certain” in this context means “is logically impossible to be mistaken about.” This is a pretty high standard for knowledge. It requires it to be logically impossible for someone to be mistaken about
a claim before one can know the claim in question.4
If one requires certainty as a criterion for knowledge, one could soon be crippled in a quick descent into complete skepticism. In that case, one might even begin to doubt mathematical certainties through distrust of one’s own ability to reason. The seventeenth century French philosopher Rene Descartes doubted to the point of knowing only one thing for certain: that he was doubting, or thinking. Hence his dictum, “I think, therefore I am.” However, one need not embark upon a Cartesian quest for certainty in order to know a thing. Knowledge properly defined does not require full certainty.

Some things are known to varying degrees of certainty. As Francis Schaeffer observed, “we do not need to have exhaustive knowledge of a thing in order to know truly.”5 Some things are self-evidently known, such as the fundamental laws of logic. We know that A cannot equal non-A at the same time in the same manner. Mathematical truths are known with mathematical certainty. One could say that these are unquestionably true. One can know with certainty that they themselves exist; a truth that is actually undeniable. Yet other truths are known without any mathematical demonstration, such as certain moral truths. All people know particular things to be right or wrong, not through external proofs, but intuitively. We can know that we love and we can know that we are loved: “…simple knowing is still knowing even if it is not for certain.”6

Still, one may believe something to be true yet not claim to know that thing to be true. In such a case, probability plays a role in one’s process of justification. For example, one may have many good reasons to believe a proposition to be true, yet still have a few reasons to be tentative. In this case, one believes based upon an assessment of probability, but this reasonable probability does not warrant a claim to know. One might say that something is probably true, and therefore believe it without claiming to know.

And finally, all knowledge can be doubted – even certain knowledge. One may know something with certainty, yet doubt it if questioned by another. For example, suppose someone knows the date of his wedding anniversary. A friend questions this fact, causing him to momentarily doubt the specific date. Upon examination, he concludes that his knowledge was correct. Through the process of doubt, his knowing was confirmed through reflection and verification. Still, doubt does not equal lack of knowing.

What Does the Christian Claim to Know?
Christianity presents a comprehensive model of reality: a worldview. At its core, Christianity claims that God exists and Jesus is the savior of all who put their trust in him for salvation. For the believer to make a knowledge claim about Christianity is not to affirm every particular doctrine that could be constructed under a Christian system. Rather, when the believer says he knows Christianity is true, he is claiming to know particular central claims to be true, such as, “God exists,” and, “Jesus has saved me,” while also knowing the worldview as a whole is true. The Christian claims to know the central truths of the Gospel, while simply believing other basics based upon good reason.

How Can the Christian Know?
Depending on what one claims to know, there are different ways of knowing. Not all things are known the same way, through the same method. Knowledge is justified based on the nature of the claim. As Moreland points out, “what counts as adequate grounds will vary from circumstance to circumstance, depending on whether the context is art and beauty, chemistry, the reality of whether an event happened in history, knowledge that God is real, and so forth.”7

Some hurdles seem to appear along the path to knowing that God exists or that Christianity is true. The objections seem substantial enough. One could say that God’s existence cannot be proven; therefore one cannot know that he exists. One could also say that historical evidence is not clear enough to prove the resurrection of Christ without a doubt. In addition, it could be asserted that religious experiences of salvation can simply be reduced to an emotional event. However, the fact remains that just because a thing can be doubted does not mean it cannot be known.

Let us consider a few of the many factors that contribute to the overall case for the truth of Christianity. Factors such as the design and beauty of the universe, eyewitness testimony, historical events, personal experiences, and arguments from reason can give one adequate reasons and justification to believe that Christianity is true. However, even though these may be compelling, they may not be convincing. Christian evidences do not cause someone to know that God exists. They are adequate and reasonable grounds for one to believe that God exists or that Christianity is true, but independently they fall short of furnishing knowledge.

So how can the Christian know that God exists, that Christianity is true, and that Jesus has saved him? This knowledge comes by way of what is referred to as the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul speaks of the inner knowledge that comes by the Holy Spirit upon conversion:
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 NIV)
Paul makes reference to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer again in Romans 8:16: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Moreover, the apostle John confirms this to be the case: “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. … And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:10-11 NIV) Craig explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer:
“Thus, although arguments and evidence may be used to support the believer’s faith, they are never properly the basis of that faith. For the believer, God is not the conclusion of a syllogism; he is the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelling within us. How then does the believer know that Christianity is true? He knows because of the self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit who lives within him.”8
At this point one may object that if something cannot be verified to be true, then a knowledge claim cannot be warranted. However, remember that there are different ways of knowing. One way of knowing is by intuition, as is the case with much moral knowledge. Intuitively, we know that rape and child abuse are wrong. Although this cannot be externally proven, nevertheless it counts as valid knowledge. Yet objections may not be raised concerning moral knowledge, because it is often shared to a similar degree.

The problem that Christianity faces in claiming an inner witness of the Holy Spirit is that such knowledge cannot be externally proven. So can a knowledge claim that is not externally demonstrable be considered true knowledge?

Consider an example: suppose a savant (whom we’ll call Chris) is gifted with a profound and unique ability to make mathematical calculations without consciously processing the equations mentally. (Such savants, like British-born Daniel Tammet, are alive today.) And suppose a lengthy mathematical equation is presented to Chris. He immediately knows the answer, as he has a special endowment, or intuitive ability, to see the answer internally.

Now suppose someone without this endowment (whom we’ll call Skip), who knows nothing of this savant’s special ability, hears him claiming to “know” the answer. Instinctively, Skip may say, “You can’t know that.” But the only way Skip could prove Chris’s inner knowing to be illegitimate would be to produce a calculator proving the savant’s answer to be false. However, Chris does know the answer. In fact, the answer is mathematically certain. Surely, Chris is satisfied with knowing the answer, yet there is no external means to legitimize this method of inner knowing to the non-savant. The only resolution in this case would be to describe how this endowment functions.

The Inner Witness of Holy Spirit
So from the above examples we can see that it is not out of the question to suggest that the Christian can have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit. In fact, this seems reasonable. First, Christianity claims that this is how the believer knows he is a child of God. Second, Christians attest to the experiential reality of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. And finally, not everyone has access to external evidences, compelling arguments, first-hand testimony, and the like. Assuming that God does exist, it seems reasonable for God to provide a sort of universal internal verification for those who are humbly seeking to know Him, yet do not have direct access to undeniable proof. The internal witness satisfies the believer with confident knowing, while not compelling the unbeliever.

In addition to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit for believers, the Bible speaks of the knowledge of God that has been given to all men. That is to say, Christianity claims that all men know that God exists, whether they acknowledge it to be true or not. Paul writes: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV) This makes it clear that through a combination of inner knowledge and external evidence, men have sufficient means to know that God exists. As Schaeffer put it: “The Bible’s emphasis is that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that Christianity is true, so much so that we are disobedient and guilty if we do not believe it.”9 Craig concludes:
“Therefore, we find that for believers and unbelievers alike it is the self-authenticating work of the Holy Spirit that supplies knowledge of Christianity’s truth. …And because this belief is formed in response to the self-disclosure of God himself, who needs no external authentication, it is not merely rational for us, but constitutes knowledge. We can be confident of Christianity’s truth.”10
Inner knowledge of God has been granted to all men, although Paul indicates that men “...suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Romans 1:18-19 NIV) This knowledge of the truth can be suppressed. Nevertheless, this knowledge serves to “level the playing field,” so to speak, so that all men have equal access to know God, no matter where they may be born or the evidence and information available to them. Not everyone has access to the evidences, but all have access to the Spirit.

Can the Christian Know?
So can the Christian know? Yes, the Christian can know not only that God exists, but that he is saved, and that Christianity is true. Moreover, his mind has been awakened to discern and understand spiritual truths. The Christian who loves the truth seeks to verify and authenticate the truthfulness of Christianity in order to gain confidence and understanding. Although demonstrable certainty is not attainable in this life, inner certitude is, as philosopher Norman Geisler points out:
Certainty…is in principle impossible when we are dealing with matters of experience, a part of which is the resurrection and our experience of saving grace. However, the reason that God demands total and unconditional commitment and that the believer holds so tenaciously to his belief in God and His love is that the believer has certitude concerning these beliefs. Certitude is that added assurance given to the believer by the internal witness or testimony of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit to the truth of spiritual matters.11
The unbeliever has an intrinsic knowledge of God. Coupled with the evidence of creation and conscience, the humble man believes that God exists. In response to the Gospel and by the work of the Holy Spirit, he puts his faith (trust) in Jesus Christ for salvation. God regenerates the believer and through the inner witness Holy Spirit, the Christian knows he is saved. As Craig concludes, “We know Christianity is true primarily by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit. We show Christianity is true by demonstrating that it is systematically consistent.”12 Through examination of evidences, the believer finds that Christianity is consistent, coherent, and complete as a worldview. For the Christian, faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is trusting in that which one does not see, on the basis of what one has good reasons to believe and know to be true.

1 C. Steven Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 118.
2 J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), p. 74.
3 Ibid., p. 83.
4 Ibid., p. 84.
5 Francis Schaeffer, Trilogy: He Is There And He Is Not Silent (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1972), p. 331.
6 Craig and Moreland, p. 85.
7 J. P. Moreland, The Kingdom Triangle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 130.
8 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), p. 34.
9 Francis Schaeffer, Trilogy: The God Who Is There (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1968), p. 178.
10 Craig, p. 36.
11 Norman Geisler and Paul Feinberg, Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980), p. 131.
12 Craig, p. 48.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Featured Apologetics Web Site:

Although CARM has been featured here a year ago, it is worth featuring again, as their site has recently been revamped and updated with a much smoother interface.

Loaded with lots of great apologetic resources, CARM is a good place to use as an apologetics reference. Their podcast is here.

Visit CARM today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

William Lane Craig vs. James Robert Brown MP3 Audio - Does God Exist?

William Lane Craig debates James Robert Brown on the topic: Does God Exist? January 2009 in Canada.

Full MP3 Audio here.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kyle Butt vs. Dan Barker Debate MP3 Audio - Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Kyle Butt debates Dan Barker on the topic: Does the God of the Bible Exist? For commentary on the debate, see here.

Full MP3 Audio here.

Various Kyle Butt MP3 audio has also been added here.
A notable review can be found here.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Greg Koukl's Tactics Blog Tour

Today we welcome Greg Koukl to interact on the blog. His new book Tactics has just been released. Today he will be answering a couple of questions and interacting with your follow-up questions in the comments.

Be sure to follow the tour throughout the week:
Today also: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Wed. 2/18 Truthbomb Apologetics
Wed. 2/18
Thurs. 2/19 Zondervan Koinonia
Fri. 2/20 Stand to Reason

Question #1 from Brian @ Apologetics 315: What key personal disciplines, spiritual or otherwise, have played the most vital role in your development as a critical thinker, clear communicator, and effective apologist?

Greg's Response:
I have always struggled, more or less, with the classical disciplines of Christianity: prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, etc. Consequently, I can’t say that they have had a special impact in my life, although I think my prayer life has gotten richer and more meaningful as I have gotten older in the Lord.

The thing that has made the biggest difference—that has played the most “vital role,” I think—are the mentors, near and far, who have molded me. Since the beginning I have had strong Christians around me to guide me, teach me, and especially to correct me when I needed it. For the most part, I have welcomed criticism and critique of my views, my character, and also of the way I come across to others. Even now I have people I trust looking over my shoulder giving feedback on the content and tone of these missives I am posting for Tactics. I think it is lethal to effectiveness when any Christian fails to have those in his life that can serve that role.

So, I think I have learned to be a better critical thinker, communicator, and apologist by first apprenticing myself—either directly or indirectly—to others who excel in those areas. I listen to them, watch them, hang around if I’m able, drawing from their wisdom and experience. I think about how they think, not just what they think. I listen to how they use words, illustrations, gestures, and audience interaction. I then try to imitate what I see them modeling in any of those areas. For example, I listen to Dennis Prager and pay attention to the little things he’s doing on the air that I think make him so effective, then I try to work those elements into my own style as a broadcaster.

Second, I give others close to me permission to critique all aspects of my life, and I actively seek out that information even when it’s not volunteered. We almost never see our own weaknesses, though they are frequently obvious to others. If you enlist your family, friends, and colleagues as allies in the process of becoming better in any area you’re concerned about, you will improve much faster then you thought possible providing, that is, you have the mettle for it. It is an acquired skill and I confess I haven’t always been up to it. But if you can steel yourself to hear the truth from others who care, you will greatly benefit.

Question #2 from Kyle in Plano, TX: How do you see apologetics changing in the next twenty years or so as the culture continues to change?

Greg's Response:
This is very difficult to answer since it is hard to tell what the future holds and how Christians in general will respond to the challenges to the Gospel that arise in the years to come. In one sense, nothing should change. Our basic posture at Stand to Reason—and the idea at the heart of the Tactics book—is to be God’s ambassador presenting the truth as persuasively and as graciously as we are able.

Here is how I put it in chapter one:

Jesus said that when you find yourself a sheep amidst wolves, be innocent, but be shrewd (Matthew 10:16). Even though there is real warfare going on, our engagements should look more like diplomacy than D-Day. In this book I would like to teach you how to do that. I want to suggest a method I call the Ambassador model. This approach trades more on friendly curiosity—a kind of relaxed diplomacy—than on confrontation.
I then talk specifically about what the three main elements of the ambassador model:

Representing Christ in the new millennium requires three basic skills…. These three skills—knowledge, an accurately informed mind; wisdom, an artful method; and character, an attractive manner—play a part in every effective involvement with a non-believer. The second skill, tactical wisdom, is the main focus of this book.
I see no reason why anything about the ambassador model should change regardless of what we face in the future. That’s why I think this approach is so helpful. New challenges may mean adding to our knowledge or adjusting our tactics, etc., but the basic model remains the same.

I do envision stylistic changes, though, especially adopting a tone that is more sensitive to the prevailing ethos. Narrative is playing a much bigger part in the process now than before, for example. Post-modern sensibilities are forcing us to be kinder and gentler, so to speak, and that’s a good thing. My fear is that as a church we will drift into a new wave of anti-intellectualism, and this is never a good thing, on balance.

Feel free to respond to Greg's answers and ask him follow-up questions.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Craig vs. Dicarlo Debate MP3 Audio - Does God Matter?

William Lane Craig debates Christopher Dicarlo on the topic: Does God Matter?

Full Debate MP3 Audio here.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Quote: G.K. Chesterton on Logic

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

- G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book Review: Francis Schaeffer's Trilogy

Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy includes the books The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent. These three books represent the main focus of Schaeffer’s thought. This trilogy presents a panoramic view of the influence of non-Christian philosophies and how they fall short of the Christian worldview. In addition, Schaeffer demonstrates the answer that the Christian view brings to life, as it is both consistent and livable as a comprehensive philosophical system.

A great deal of The God Who Is There traces what Schaeffer calls “the line of despair.” This can be likened to a gradual downward decay of man’s view of truth. The lower down on the line of despair, the further from the Christian view of truth one gets. Schaeffer’s examination traces the line of despair from philosophy, to art, to music, to general culture, and on to theology. His thesis is that change in society begins with the ideas of philosophy. Philosophy creates a ripple effect through art, music, culture, and final permeates theology.

Schaeffer emphasizes truth. This is a primary concern and the core of his endeavor throughout the trilogy. He stresses the reality of Christianity in history and its ability to stand up under critical scrutiny:
In Christianity the value of faith depends on the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and to the Christ who in history died upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement, and on the third day rose again in space and in time. This makes Christian faith open to discussion and verification.1
His goal is to show that Christianity is true and verifiable, and all other philosophies, or worldviews, fall short. Throughout each chapter, the author exposes the shortcomings and inadequacies of all opposing worldviews. Schaeffer demonstrates that without the Christian worldview, man truly is falling below this line of despair.

The apologetic aspects of Schaeffer’s trilogy are very valuable. Of course, Schaeffer himself has had a profound and lasting effect on the apologetic landscape of Christianity, and this springs not only from his brilliance as a thinker, but from his genuineness as a Christian. His motivation of Christian love permeates his writing and can be especially noted in the helpful appendices. As Schaeffer states: “There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.”2

Schaeffer’s skill as a communicator of the Gospel is not in his watering down of the truth. Instead, he seeks to take what is profound and make it as accessible as possible:
The problem which confronts us as we approach modern man today is not how we are to change Christian teaching in order to make it more palatable, for to do that would mean throwing away any chance of giving the real answer to man in despair; rather, it is the problem of how to communicate the gospel so that it is understood.3
Schaeffer is passionate about correct epistemology (one’s theory of knowledge). He points out that if one’s epistemology is wrong, then all that flows from it will be flawed. The author shows that much of the drift down the line of despair has been a shift in epistemology. Accordingly, Schaeffer seeks to expose the problems with postmodern thinking, relativism, scientism, and the like.

Francis Scaeffer’s Trilogy can be highly recommended as a book still very relevant to our present time. It has much apologetic value, with its strong emphasis on truth and the critique of other worldviews. Finally, this volume will acquaint the reader with one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the last century.

1 Francis Schaeffer, Trilogy: The God Who is There (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p. 65.
2 Ibid., p. 34.
3 Ibid., p. 145.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Critical Thinking Audio Course

Here are 15 short sessions on critical thinking by Randall Ridenour from Oklahoma Baptist University. This is available as an iTunes podcast, but is not working right now. All the files can be found here however. These are m4b files, which, when played through Quicktime, have slides that go along with the lesson. It is recommended that you view and listen through your Quicktime player.

01 - Arguments
02 - Conditionals
03 - Perception
04 - Memory
05 - Sources
06 - Emotions
07 - Relevance
08 - Fallacies
09 - Probabilities
10 - Conditional Probabilities
11 - Samples
12 - Applications
13 - Heuristics
14 - Biases
15 - Dissonance


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Logic Audio MP3 Resources

Logic MP3's Added to Ultimate Apologetics MP3 Audio Page.

Deductive Logic, by George William Joseph Stock by Lit2Go on iTunes
(the ebook can be found here)

Basic Sentential Logic and Informal Fallacies
Audio with PDFs. by Rick Grush, UCSD - podcast on iTunes

LOGIC MP3 Audio by John Robbins
1. Introduction to Logic
2. Definition of Terms
3. Logic and Theology: The Westminster Confession
4. Informal Fallacies, Part 1
5. Informal Fallacies, Part 2
6. Logic and Theology: Christ's Use of Logic
7. Definitions
8. Formal Logic
9. Logic and Theology: Paul's Use of Logic
10. Categorical Forms
11. Immediate Inference, Validity, Euler Circles
12. Logic and Theology: Empirical Apologetics
13. Homework Review
14. The Syllogism
15. Logic and Theology: Why Science Is Always False
16. Homework Review
17. Conclusion
18. Logic and Theology: Vantillian Apologetics


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Edge of Evolution Interview - Michael Behe MP3 Audio

An interview with biochemist Michael Behe about his book The Edge of Evolution.

Full MP3 Audio here. [12 minutes]

Lots of other evolution audio resources here.
(Judge for yourself the quality of these resources, as they are many and varied.)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Greg Koukl's Tactics Blog Tour

Greg Koukl's Tactics Blog Tour begins next week, with a special stop here at Apologetics 315. Greg will be answering questions at each blog along the tour, as well as answering your follow-up questions in the comments. Be sure to follow him during his tour:

Mon. 2/16 Challies
Mon. 2/16 STR Facebook group page
Tues. 2/17 Apologetics 315
Tues. 2/17 Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Wed. 2/18 Truthbomb Apologetics
Wed. 2/18
Thurs. 2/19 Zondervan Koinonia
Thurs. 2/19 The Crux
Fri. 2/20 Stand to Reason

Be sure to visit here on Tuesday when Greg stops by for the day.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Analysis and Response to Zeitgeist has a nice piece online: Analysis & Response to Zeitgeist, where you'll find some of the claims in the video followed by helpful responses and quotations by scholars, historians, world religion experts, Christian apologists and others as well as links to in-depth articles and books that offer a much more thorough refutation of many of the errors in the first part of the film.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Quote: Pascal on Bible Prophecy

"Prophecies. If a single man had written a book foretelling the time and manner of Jesus' coming and Jesus had come in conformity with these prophecies, this would carry infinite weight. But there is much more here. There is a succession of men over a period of 4,000 years, coming consistently and invariably one after the other, to foretell the same coming; there is an entire people proclaiming it, existing for 4,000 years to testify in a body to the certainty they feel about it, from which they cannot be deflected by whatever threats and persecutions they may suffer. This is of a quite different order of importance."

- Blaise Pascal, (Pensees, 332)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Book Review: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland can be described as masterful. At over 600 pages, this volume is obviously not intended for light reading, but for serious, in-depth study. Craig and Moreland are precise, detailed, and thorough in this comprehensive introduction to philosophy. It should be noted that this book, although an introduction to philosophy, might not be the best first book one reads in the subject. A less cumbersome introduction to philosophy for the beginner may be Geisler and Feinberg’s Introduction to Philosophy.

The authors introduce this book with a methodical presentation of logic and argumentation, which includes symbolic and modal logic. Formal and informal fallacies are described and the foundation is laid for the tools of philosophy and clear thinking. What follows is a philosophy textbook in five sections: epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics, and philosophy of religion.

In reviewing a book of this size, this reviewer will only offer reflections on particular elements of personal interest in each of the five sections. In Part II: Epistemology, of note would be Craig and Moreland’s presentation and critique of skepticism, as well as a chapter on religious epistemology. The authors offer a number of helpful points regarding the presumption of atheism and an overview of Plantinga’s reformed epistemology.

In Part III: Metaphysics, the authors cover general ontology, dualism, free will vs. determinism, and personal identity and life after death. Of note here is the excellent chapter on dualism and physicalism, with very detailed critiques.

In Part IV: Philosophy of Science, the authors present a number of helpful chapters, including scientific methodology, the integration of science and theology, and philosophy of time and space. This section is very interesting, as some of these elements, particularly the chapter on the philosophy of space and time, are not normally covered in a Christian philosophy textbook. Many will find the chapter regarding the integration of science and theology helpful in light of the common misconceptions in this area.

The next section dealing with ethics covers the general scope of the topic from a Christian point of view. This section, while being thorough, was fairly short. One item of interest would be the included strategies for defending the existence of moral absolutes.

Finally, in Part VI: Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, Craig and Moreland conclude by covering arguments for the existence of God, the coherence of theism, the problem of evil, creation and miracles, and Christian doctrines such as the trinity, the incarnation, and Christian particularism. In the chapters on the existence of God, the authors stick to the presentation of four main arguments: the cosmological, teleological, axiological, and ontological arguments. It is not their goal here to provide a historical overview of the arguments, or to present every version of each. Instead, they offer the strongest forms of each of these arguments in use widely today.

In summary, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview is a phenomenal book that provides a comprehensive resource for the serious student. It may be difficult to find a superior work in Christian philosophy.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Featured Resource: The Theology Program

A rich and helpful treasure of resources are available from Reclaiming the Mind ministries, including The Theology Program on iTunes.

Click here to go to the Theology Program in iTunes for a total of 60 audio files on the following topics:
Introduction to Theology, Bibliology & Hermeneutics, Trinitarianism, Humanity & Sin, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology & Eschatology.

45 more audio files in electives courses are here.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis MP3

The full MP3 reading of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis can be downloaded here. This classic is definitely a must-read... or must-listen.

Mere Christianity Full Mp3 Audio here.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Mind and the Heart MP3 Audio

This concise, 3-minute audio clip demonstrates some very good insights about how important it is to develop the Christian mind. In addition, it sheds light on why some leave the faith.

3-minute MP3 Audio here.
Source: the theology program, lecture 1.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

History of the English Bible - Daniel Wallace MP3 Audio

New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace presents four lectures in a series on the History of the English Bible, which is found at Now you have to go right to to get the audio. They do not allow direct linking to their audio files.
• From Wycliffe to King James
• The Reign of the King James
• From the KJV to the RV
• Why So Many Versions?


Monday, February 02, 2009

Gnosticism: Past & Present MP3 Audio

Nick Needham gives a church history talk on the topic of Gnosticism: Past & Present, in which he discusses the roots of Gnosticism and what form it takes in our present day. Although the audio quality is not the best, it is a helpful listen. Original audio here, with some other church history lectures.

Download MP3 Audio here. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Quote: William Lane Craig on the Ultimate Apologetic

"More often than not, it is what you are rather than what you say that will bring an unbeliever to Christ. This, then, is the ultimate apologetic. For the ultimate apologetic is: your life."

- William Lane Craig

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