Monday, April 12, 2010

Essay: Cumulative Reasons for Christianity by Chad Gross

Cumulative Reasons for Christianity by Chad Gross
In this essay, I will share some of the reasons that I follow Jesus Christ. 

If God does not exist, each of our thoughts are simply the product of a long series of random, unreasonable accidents. As C.S. Lewis once put it: “…if… thoughts…are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents.”1

The fact that we, as finite beings, can ponder such questions as “Does God Exist?” is powerful evidence for His existence.  For someone to reason about anything, God’s existence must be pre-supposed. I see no good basis for concluding that unreasonable, natural processes can produce reasoning beings. A supremely reasonable mind seems to be the most logical explanation of humanity’s reasoning abilities.  (MP3 Audio | RSS | iTunes)

Modern day cosmology has discovered that the universe had a beginning.  In the finite past, all matter, space, time, and energy exploded into existence out of nothing in what is now known as the “Big Bang.”  Logically, the cause of this explosion could not have been from within the natural order because nature itself did not exist prior to the Big Bang; therefore, one can conclude that the cause of the Big Bang exists outside of nature i.e. supernatural. Further, from the relevant data, one can deduce that this cause is something that is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, supernatural and inconceivably powerful.2

As Arno Penzias,  Nobel prize winner for his discovery of the cosmic background radiation that corroborated the Big Bang has said, “The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole”3
   
Moreover, it has been verified that from the beginning, the initial constants that enable our universe to sustain life were present.  Meaning, that from the first moment the universe came into existence, it was programmed, if you will, to form the universe we inhabit.  As a result, many have concluded that the Big Bang could not have been a random, chaotic event, but a precise, pre-figured moment of creation.4  As a theist, I can  conclude that something + nothing = everything; however, the atheist, as admitted by philosopher Quentin Smith, has to believe that the universe came “from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.”5

The Apostle Paul wrote: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Dr. Gary Habermas has compiled a list of more than 2, 200 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present. He has identified minimal facts (12 total) that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by the large majority of scholars, including skeptical ones.

Scholar Mike Licona explains the "minimal facts" approach to the resurrection:
Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject- including skeptical ones- accept these as historical facts…Lets face it: there's a greater likelihood that a purported historical fact is true when someone accepts it even though they're not in agreement with your metaphysical beliefs.6
This set of facts is based upon viewing the Bible solely as ancient, historical literature.

While all these facts are agreed upon by the large majority of scholars, we will focus on the five that are most evidenced. They are as follows:

Fact #1 - Jesus was killed by Crucifixion
Fact #2 - Jesus' Disciples Believed that He Rose and Appeared to Them
Fact #3 - The Conversion of the Church Persecutor Paul
Fact #4 - The Conversion of the Skeptic James, Jesus' Half-Brother
Fact #5 - Jesus' Tomb was Empty.7

The best explanation of these facts is that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead.  The skeptic, who rejects this conclusion, must be able to not only provide alternative theories to explain the data, but also present first-century evidence to substantiate their conclusion.8

Finally, when someone puts their faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit will confirm that they are saved:

"The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children" (Romans 8:16a, CSB).

This is experiential evidence for the believer that Jesus is who He said He was/is.
   
However, we must address the fact that other world religions claim to possess "tests for truth.”  The Muslim will tell you to follow Islam because only God could have written the Qur’an. [9] Further, the Book of Mormon tells us that the Holy Spirit will manifest the truth of Mormonism to you when you ask for confirmation through prayer.10

It's imperative to understand that a believer's experience must correlate with the external evidence available through history, archeology, and observable facts.
   
The test for truth in the Qur'an is highly subjective considering that a Christian could claim that Psalm 19 is superior in literally form to the first Sura in the Qur'an.
   
Further, the Book of Mormon proves inadequate under critical inquiry due to the virtually non-existent archaeological evidence to substantiate its claims.
   
What about the skeptic that doesn’t believe in Jesus at all?
   
The resurrection provides an objective test for truth, as Habermas and Licona explain:

"We have the external test that, if Jesus actually rose from the dead, it appears the truth of Christianity is confirmed and all adherents to conflicting beliefs must reassess whether their assurance came from a spirit other than God's or was the result of self-delusion."11

It was Jesus who said, “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17 NIV; Emphasis mine).  Is a step of faith required?  Yes; however, faith should not be a blind leap into the dark, but a reasonable step into the light based upon sound reason and evidence.12

Resources and Notes:
1. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), p. 52-53.
2. For a easy to read summary of the evidence for the Big Bang, I recommend agnostic Robert Jastrow’s book, God and the Astronomers.
3. Cited by Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great about Christianity, p.124.
4. For an in-depth look at the precision of the Big Bang and the existence of the cosmological constants from the moment of creation, I recommend William Lane Craig’s work Reasonable Faith, 3rd edition.
5. William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 135.
6. Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: Interview with Mike Licona (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2007), p. 112.
7. I have written more about the reasons why the majority of scholars except these facts here.

8. I have addressed some of the common objections to the resurrection here.
9. Sura 2:23-24, The Glorious Qur'an, p.7; Text and Explanatory Translation by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.
10. Moroni 10:4-5, The Book of Mormon, p. 529 by Joseph Smith, Jun.
11. Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, a division of Kregal Inc., 2004),  p. 28.
12. I have written more on the definition of faith here.

52 comments :

greatcloud said...

Hi Chad,

This is a good marshaling of various strands of evidence. I'm a big fan of the argument from reason, and I don't think it gets enough attention from apologists. I'm glad you highlighted it here.
Blessings,
Chris

Evan Garrett said...

Great article, Chad!
I'm interested in how you would reply to one who said that human reason, or, the laws of logic which we seem so dependent on, have simply developed because that is the nature of our universe, and our minds simply evolved to conform to it. What do you think?
Evan

Chad said...

Hello Chris,

Thank you for the encouraging words! I also believe that the argument from reason should be used more. I was very glad to see Anthony Flew, in his book "There is a God," highlight the argument.

Thank you again and Godspeed

Chad said...

Hello Evan,

Thank you for the kind comment and the great question. If someone raised this question to me, I would first challenge them to account for the laws of logic apart from God. After all, our experience indicates that every law has a law giver.

Second, along the same lines, I would want to ask where they believe the universe came from in the first place? If their worldview can't even account for the "nature of the universe" they certainly can't use it to explain the origin of reason!

Finally, I would want to ask what evidence they have that "our minds simply evolved to conform to it [the universe]."

A valuable lesson I have learned from apologist Greg Koukl is that an assertion does not equal an argument. As Koukl has pointed out, Christians have shouldered the burden of proof for to long and it's simply not enough for the skeptic to raise an issue, they must also be able to sustain it with good arguments. If a claim does not rest on pillars of sound argumentation, it should not stand.

That being said, I believe the core issue your question raises is, "Could our reasoning abilities be explained by evolution?" I simply can't imagine how that could be possible. As I said in my essay, "I see no good basis for concluding that unreasonable, natural processes can produce reasoning beings."

C.S. Lewis indicated that he would respond this way to the scientist who asked him to believe that naturalism can account for reason:

“if reason is "simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming," how can we trust it? How do we know our thoughts reflect reality? How can we trust the random movement of atoms in our brain to reliably convey to us knowledge of the world outside us? "They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion," Lewis says, "and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based." (Lewis, Weight of Glory, 135-136).

Lewis is right; it seems to me that naturalistic evolution can only lead to one of the following conclusions: 1) Naturalistic evolution’s ultimate goal is survival, not acquiring truth. Therefore, how could one’s thoughts be viewed as trustworthy? This could only lead to total skepticism 2) The idea that naturalistic processes can account for our reasoning abilities is actually self-refuting because it undermines the very mechanism it which it claims to use to reach it’s conclusion.

Hope this helps to answer your question Evan, and thanks again for your well thought-out inquiry.

Godspeed

Chad said...

Correction:

"... IN which it claims to use to reach it's conclusion."

My apologies

David said...

"Could our reasoning abilities be explained by evolution?" I simply can't imagine how that could be possible."

Do you think that non-human animals are capable of reason?

Evan Garrett said...

Chad,
Thanks for the reply! And I certainly agree with you on that, especially the C.S. Lewis quote.

One thing I have long wondered is, if the wealth of life, and specifically the human brain, is a product of gene duplication and natural selection, why are we so concerned with seeking the truth? Or, in other words, why does truth even matter to us, if it may lead us away from something which promotes our own survival and "works"? I guess the very idea of having a moral conscience which feels an obligation to conform to the truth is totally contradictory to the idea that whatever "works" is selected, because, even though some things aren't true, they certainly work.
So, I guess the problem, or the question, is, on atheism how can we truly know if our cognitive faculties are truly conformed to reality? And, on top of that, why, on atheism, does the truth even matter? That's a bit confusing I believe, but I think its a profound problem that Darwin certainly felt some doubt about too, I remember.

Ken Pulliam said...

Chad,
Thanks for your essay. As you might suppose I have some problems with it.

First, you say: The fact that we, as finite beings, can ponder such questions as “Does God Exist?” is powerful evidence for His existence. For someone to reason about anything, God’s existence must be pre-supposed.

I don't see how your conclusion follows from your premise. Man has a brain, the largest of all animal brains, so of course, man is going to be able to reason and think abstractly. How man received such a brain can either be explained as having come from God or having come through a long process of evolution (there may be other theories as well).

Second, you say: Modern day cosmology has discovered that the universe had a beginning. In the finite past, all matter, space, time, and energy exploded into existence out of nothing in what is now known as the “Big Bang.” Logically, the cause of this explosion could not have been from within the natural order because nature itself did not exist prior to the Big Bang; therefore, one can conclude that the cause of the Big Bang exists outside of nature

Our concept that everything must have a cause is based on our knowledge and experience within the existing world. If that world did not exist prior to the big bang, which you acknowledge, then how do we know that the concept of everything must have a cause applied in the situation before the big bang? Also, scientists are not in agreement that prior to the big bang there was "nothing." Hawking no longer believes in a singularity. I just don't think we know what was around before the big bang.

Third, on the resurrection, it is no great surprise that the majority of NT scholars agree on the minimal facts. The great majority of Qu'ran scholars agree on what the Qu'ran says. Even so, the minimal facts do not demand a literal, bodily resurrection. The fact is that the majority of scholars that Habermas, Craig, and Licona are so fond of referencing do not believe that Jesus arose literally and bodily. If the minimal facts demand such a view, and these scholars are competent, then why don't they draw the same conclusion as you do? I tend to agree on all of the 5 "facts" that you mention with the exception of #5, and I don't conclude that Jesus arose bodily from the dead. I can't elaborate on how I explain these "facts" here, but I do have a theory which I believe adequately accounts for the "facts."

Fourth, as for the "inner witness of the Spirit," I find that very dubious. First, it is completely internal and subjective and therefore offers no external objective proof to anyone except the person who has it. The fact that many religions have subjective experiences which confirm the faith of their believers makes me suspect that there is nothing unique about the Christian's claim. You say that the Mormon's burning in the bosom is invalid because archeological evidence has shown his book to be false. Have you read the latest books on archeology such as: The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts or Shifting Sands: The Rise and Fall of Biblical Archaeology ?

I agree that a person can still choose to believe the Bible by faith but I disagree that the belief is founded on sound reason and evidence .

RkBall said...

The fact that reason should exist at all, let alone reason that is to be trusted, is a conundrum to the atheist. Ditto morality. Forget the argument about objective vs. subjective morality -- how/why should morality as a concept even exist in an amoral indifferent universe? Ditto consciousness -- why/how should it emerge in a mindless, unconscious universe? The intellectual field that atheists and Christians play on is one that is only coherent, rational, and logical if theism is true. Indeed, it is arguably only possible if theism is true.

You can choose to believe atheism by faith, in spite of the evidence, but I disagree that the belief is based on sound reason.

Av8torBob said...

Richard,

Now that is a beautiful response. Masterful, concise and to the point. More importantly, True. I only wish I could have come up with such a great summary with so few words. In fact, I just copied it so I can use it myself (with proper citation of the author, of course).

Thanks,
Bob

Ken Pulliam said...

Richard,

You said: The fact that reason should exist at all, let alone reason that is to be trusted, is a conundrum to the atheist. Ditto morality. Forget the argument about objective vs. subjective morality -- how/why should morality as a concept even exist in an amoral indifferent universe? Ditto consciousness -- why/how should it emerge in a mindless, unconscious universe? The intellectual field that atheists and Christians play on is one that is only coherent, rational, and logical if theism is true. Indeed, it is arguably only possible if theism is true.

Reason and consciousness are simply the results of man having a brain. There is nothing mystical or supernatural about it. Reason can't always be trusted. Sometimes we are wrong and further evidence or further argumentation will cause us to change our minds.

As for morality, its simply the social mores and taboos that have evolved for human beings to be able to relate and function together in a society. Once again, nothing mysterious or supernatural about it. A bigger problem is for Christians to explain how their perfectly moral God could create a world that appears to be amoral with its hurricanes, tsunamis, diseases, and so on. For the non-believer that is to be expected but for the believer its a contradiction.

Av8torBob said...

Ken, you said: Reason can't always be trusted. Sometimes we are wrong and further evidence or further argumentation will cause us to change our minds.

To be consistent, I think you mean that argumentation causes us to "change our brains."

David said...

“The fact that reason should exist at all, let alone reason that is to be trusted, is a conundrum to the atheist."

Can non-human animals reason?

Ken Pulliam said...

Bob,

I was using the word "minds" in the sense of thinking, i.e., what our brains do.

Av8torBob said...

Yes you were, Ken. And I was pointing out your inconsistency in this regard.

As I'm sure you know, minds and brains are two very different things. Those who subscribe to a naturalistic understanding of the "mind" equate the two but a "computer made of meat" (as I've heard the brain described) cannot explain what "thinking" is or how it works.

This is yet another instance of co-opting a non-naturalistic understanding of the world while simultaneously claiming that such a thing does not, and cannot exist.

The priests of scientism do it all the time.

Ken Pulliam said...

Bob,

I don't follow your argument. Are you saying that thinking is not done in the brain? Surely not.

Neuroscience can explain how we think and also the part of the brain where we have a sense of self, which is probably what led people to the idea that we had a soul or a mind separate from our body.

Av8torBob said...

That is exactly what I am saying.

Neuroscience is a fascinating discipline but it can only identify and measure physical phenomena. Read: Beauregard and O'leary's, "The Spiritual Brain" for a different take than you may be used to reading.

Correlation of neurological activity in some part of the brain does NOT identify "thought." You can hook electrodes up to my brain all day long and record all the neurons firing in whatever region of the brain you like -- but you will NEVER know what I am thinking unless I TELL YOU.

Ken Pulliam said...

Bob,

Yes it can only identify and measure physical phenomena because it is science . We are back where we started. I will read the book you mentioned but I am skeptical because the author says his view is based not only on the findings of various scientific disciplines, but also on a series of mystical experiences that I have had since my childhood....

"One of these experiences occurred twenty years ago when I was lying in bed. I was very weak at the time because I was suffering from a particularly severe form of what is now called chronic fatigue syndrome. The experience began with a sensation of heat and tingling in the spine and the chest areas. Suddenly, I merged with the infinitely loving Cosmic Intelligence (or Ultimate Reality) and became united with everything in the cosmos. This unitary state of being, which transcends the subject/object duality, was timeless and accompanied by intense bliss and ecstasy. In this state, I experienced the basic interconnectedness of all things in the cosmos, this infinite ocean of life. I also realized that everything arises from and is part of this cosmic intelligence
.

Do you accept his experience as valid?

Av8torBob said...

Ken,
Do you deny it as valid?

If so, how?

Yes, we are back to the beginning. You insist that science is the only valid and acceptable way to know things. I call that scientism and do not accept it. I think I have shown reasonable evidence that it cannot be valid. Until you can demonstrate otherwise (using ONLY science, of course), I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

Thanks for the interaction.

David said...

"You can hook electrodes up to my brain all day long and record all the neurons firing in whatever region of the brain you like -- but you will NEVER know what I am thinking unless I TELL YOU."

Are you sure about this? I think it is safe to say that a given thought usually activates the same part of the brain. I think that it's safe to say that specific memories reside in is specific physical locations. If we really could monitor the activity of specific individual neurons, I think that we might get pretty close to being able to tell what you are thinking from the data about which neurons are firing. Our inability to do so today is a product of technical limitations and not a result of the "non-material", woo-woo nature of thought and mind.

By the way, is my question about non-human animals too difficult?

David said...

"Suddenly, I merged with the infinitely loving Cosmic Intelligence (or Ultimate Reality) and became united with everything in the cosmos."

If this is a purely non-material, spiritual thing, why can similar experiences be induced by LSD?

Ken Pulliam said...

Bob,

I think we are at an impasse but let me explain my epistemology.

I do not believe 100% certainty is possible for most things in this life. I tend to grade things on scale of probablity. Science offers one of the most sure methods of arriving at true knowledge but it is sometimes wrong. I do believe we can have a degree of certainty about various things through inductive reasoning. For example, I am pretty certain my wife loves me (this is based on the fact that she has stuck with me for 29 years :) as well as many other things that she does). I am pretty certain that my mother is my real biological mother (that could be demonstrated scientifically but I have no need to). There is a whole host of things I think are true that have nothing to do with science. However, I don't pretend that I have a scientific basis for my thinking those things are true.

Av8torBob said...

David,

You said: I think that it's safe to say that specific memories reside in is specific physical locations.

I don't think that is "safe to say." Correlation does not equal causation. Just because certain areas of my brain light up when I do or think certain things, does not entail that those thoughts "reside in specific physical locations." That is pure conjecture -- the kind of thing minds engage in. :-)

Our inability to do so today is a product of technical limitations and not a result of the "non-material", woo-woo nature of thought and mind.

I hope you can appreciate the point I've been making about statements like this one. It is easy to say "we'll figure it out later" ... and maybe we will ... but when those who engage in scientism deny reasonable explanations for things with speculative wishful thinking, what they are doing is no different than the theist who says "just believe." Both are requirements based on presuppositions that the individual will not let go of, no matter how strong the contrary evidence.

Just wanted to point that out.

Finally, you said: By the way, is my question about non-human animals too difficult?

I'm not sure why the antagonistic attitude. As far as I know, this is the first back-and-forth you and I have had. That said, I don't see the relevance or significance of "non-human animals" ability to reason as it relates to this conversation?

Yes, animals can engage in rudimentary reasoning. This is not controversial, anti-Biblical, or proof of "Evolution" so I'm not sure why it matters.

Av8torBob said...

Ken,

You said: I do not believe 100% certainty is possible for most things in this life. I tend to grade things on scale of probability. Science offers one of the most sure methods of arriving at true knowledge but it is sometimes wrong. I do believe we can have a degree of certainty about various things through inductive reasoning.

I completely agree except that I don't think science is any more sure a method than others. There are certain things that I know for as near an absolute certainty as you can get -- that you could NEVER prove scientifically, even in principle.

No argument otherwise.

Cheers ...

David said...

“I don't think that is "safe to say." Correlation does not equal causation. Just because certain areas of my brain light up when I do or think certain things, does not entail that those thoughts "reside in specific physical locations." That is pure conjecture -- the kind of thing minds engage in. :-)”

Pure conjecture? Ever spend time with someone with Alzheimer’s? If memory doesn’t reside in a specific physical location, then why did the death of brain cells in a specific location in my grandmother’s brain produce a complete loss of memory of a man that she was married to for sixty years?

Are you saying that different cells in the brain light up every time we have the recall the same memory? I think that neurophysiologists would disagree. If the same cells light up every time we recall a specific event, and if we could detect the specific activity of these memory-specific cells, then I think that it’s reasonable to conclude that we would know that the individual is experiencing a particular memory. In other words, we could read their thoughts with a physical, data-gathering device.


“I hope you can appreciate the point I've been making about statements like this one. It is easy to say "we'll figure it out later" ... and maybe we will ... but when those who engage in scientism deny reasonable explanations for things with speculative wishful thinking, what they are doing is no different than the theist who says "just believe." Both are requirements based on presuppositions that the individual will not let go of, no matter how strong the contrary evidence.”

To be clear, I have no idea what we’ll discover or be able to explain in the future. However, given what we know today, I’m not so sure that my point can be entirely dismissed as “speculative wishful thinking”. I’m not sure what “reasonable explanation” I’m denying here or what the “contrary evidence” would be in this specific case.

“I'm not sure why the antagonistic attitude. As far as I know, this is the first back-and-forth you and I have had. That said, I don't see the relevance or significance of "non-human animals" ability to reason as it relates to this conversation.”

I did not intend for this to be antagonistic. My apologies if it came across in this manner. I just wanted to know why the question had not been addressed.

The fact that animals reason (and have consciousness) is relevant to the point that I was addressing when I first raised the question. The claim was made that our reasoning abilities could not possibly explained by evolution. But non-human animals reason, too. So, reasoning must have some value or use for these animals. The value? Survival. Is it that hard to understand how something so valuable to survival could evolve? Things with survival value are exactly the kinds of things that evolution produces.

I’m not claiming that animal reasoning is “controversial, anti-Biblical, or proof of Evolution”. What I’m saying is that reasoning by non-human animals helps to explain how or why reasoning in humans could be the product of evolution.

Av8torBob said...

David,
I never meant to imply that the physical brain has nothing to do with memory/reasoning. Obviously that would be absurd. There is no doubt that there is a correlation between various locations in the brain and certain kinds of actions/thoughts. What I am saying is that it cannot be fully explained by the physical processes that go on in the brain.

I think it is pure baseless conjecture to assert that you could somehow be able to determine what I am thinking about right now by hooking electrodes up to my brain.

The human mind can conceive of things that have never existed, imagine events that have never taken place, ponder the future, and connect attitudes and motives to actions it observes. How do you propose that these kinds of experiences could be physically "stored" somewhere in the brain? The idea of it (no pun intended) just doesn't even make logical sense to me.

As for animals (as opposed to humans) -- their form of "reasoning" may indeed be the result of some form of evolution. I have no reason to doubt that. But an animal's "reasoning" cannot even be remotely compared to the ways humans think as I described it briefly in the last paragraph. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

David said...

"I never meant to imply that the physical brain has nothing to do with memory/reasoning. Obviously that would be absurd. There is no doubt that there is a correlation between various locations in the brain and certain kinds of actions/thoughts.”

Good. Stop right there. What do you think happens when you recall a past event? Do you think that something non-material or spiritual hovers over your brain and creates the recall? If so, then this thing should be able to hover over a different part of the brain once the brain is damaged by disease (except it doesn’t). Or do you think that the recall is generated by a specific, measurable, physical action in the brain itself?

“What I am saying is that it cannot be fully explained by the physical processes that go on in the brain. I think it is pure baseless conjecture to assert that you could somehow be able to determine what I am thinking about right now by hooking electrodes up to my brain.”

Well, since, in fact, we don’t know everything there is to know about how brains work, I think that one might conclude that it’s “baseless conjecture” to assert with great certainty that thoughts are *not*, and will never be, fully explainable by physical processes. Didn’t you say something about “presuppositions that the individual will not let go of”? I’ve given you solid reasons for my “baseless conjecture”, and you’ve acknowledged “there is no doubt that there is a correlation between various locations in the brain and certain kinds of actions/thoughts”. So, maybe my conjecture is not so baseless after all.

Right now, it seems to me that all we can say for sure is that we don’t know if thought will be “fully explained” by natural processes or not. I don’t know if thought will ever be fully explained by physical processes and you don’t know that it won’t be.


“The human mind can conceive of things that have never existed, imagine events that have never taken place, ponder the future, and connect attitudes and motives to actions it observes. How do you propose that these kinds of experiences could be physically "stored" somewhere in the brain?”

It’s not just a question of “storage”, it’s a question of what can be generated. A given tool is not physically stored in my hands, but my hands can act in such a way as to create the tool.

“As for animals (as opposed to humans) -- their form of "reasoning" may indeed be the result of some form of evolution. I have no reason to doubt that. But an animal's "reasoning" cannot even be remotely compared to the ways humans think as I described it briefly in the last paragraph.”

How do you know this? How much time have you spent watching animals think? For example, how do you know what chimps can and can not imagine or conceive? The problem is that chimps lack language, so they can’t tell us directly what they are thinking. So, we assume that they can’t have certain thoughts. But these are just assumptions.

Do you have any evidence to the contrary?"

Watch chimps sometime. There is a lot of evidence that they can think and plan ahead. Thinking ahead takes imagination and the ability to conceive of things that do not exist at the moment of the thought.

Av8torBob said...

Well David,
I guess we will both have to agree that the other is holding to commitments that have caused our conclusions to be in conflict. Nothing new about that.

I admit that I have not spent a whole lot of time watching chimps think. Maybe you have. But if chimps "plan ahead" the only kinds of things I have evidence that they plan for are different ways to get another banana.

I'm not being flippant when I say that. What I mean is that, from the evidence, it appears to me that the difference between chimp thought and human thought is not in degree, it is in kind. I have no evidence that chimps conceive plots for novels, consider new ways to fight disease, or imagine the invention of vehicles that could transport them to the moon.

You can count on the fact that your view of the world will be vindicated in the future when we find out differently. I prefer to base my view of the world on what seems to be plainly obvious in the here and now and on what makes the most sense about the way the world seems to work.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Cheers ...

David said...

"But if chimps "plan ahead" the only kinds of things I have evidence that they plan for are different ways to get another banana."

Chimp thinking goes way beyond this, especially in the area of creating and maintaining social alliances designed to gain future advantage. Chimps make plans, just like us. Chimps imagine the future.

"I have no evidence that chimps conceive plots for novels, consider new ways to fight disease, or imagine the invention of vehicles that could transport them to the moon."

And how many humans were doing this, say, a few thousand years ago? Much of what you are referring to is a product of accumulated knowledge and learning as opposed to great differences in pure reasoning ability between chimps and humans. If our ability to reach the moon is a product of a difference in "kind" with respect to reasoning ability, why didn't Abraham build a rocket ship?


Language is the key. Our ability to fight disease or go to the moon is a product of our ability to stored knowledge via symbolic language, and our ability to learn from those who came before us, and all of these abilities are, again, rooted in specific physical, material regions of the brain. So is the difference in human and chimp thought really a difference in "kind" with respect to reasoning? Or is just a matter of the capacity for language?

In addition, I think that materials associated with Homo habilis, Homo erectus, etc., show a gradual increase in terms of the degree of reasoning ability, a gradual change that bridges the gap between apes and humans. In other words, the change in the capacity for complex reasoning was a gradual one and not a great, magical leap that suddenly created a huge difference between humans and all other animals. The gap in reasoning ability between humans and chimps seems much greater than it really is, because we don't have these other species around today, and so we can't directly observe the intermediate points in the reasoning spectrum from ape to human.

"I prefer to base my view of the world on what seems to be plainly obvious in the here and now."

I'm also basing my views on the "here and now" of current knowledge in neurophysiology. And what is your "here and now" explanation for memory and reason?

Chad said...

Hello again Ken,

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

1. As I have written, "a supremely reasonable mind seems to be the most logical explanation of humanity’s reasoning abilities."

Invoking a long evolutionary process as an explanation seems to cause more problems for the non-theist. As not to repeat myself, please see my above comment to Evan Garrett.

I would be interested to hear how you believe "a long process of evolution" can adequately account for our reasoning capabilities.

2. It's seems to me that from what we DO know, as I am unable to talk about "what we don't know," the best explanation of the available evidence from cosmology points to a definite beginning of our universe, sometime in the finite past, in which all matter, space, time, and energy exploded into existence out of nothing.

If you are privy to a more coherent explanation that better explains the available data, I'd love to hear it.

3. I have pointed out elsewhere to you that the 5 minimal facts "considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even THE RATHER SKEPTICAL ONES" [Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, p. 44, Emphasis mine]. Again, if you are familiar with Habermas’ written works, you would know the numerous skeptical scholars that he cites. Further, Dr. Craig has mentioned numerous skeptical scholars in his debates that accept some of these same facts.

Also, I, and I'm sure many other readers of Apologetics315, would love to read your explanation of the 5 minimal facts.

4. I see nothing "dubious" about the inner witness of the Spirit. This is internal evidence for me that I believe others can experience as well. In other words, I'm saying, "Hey, there are excellent, coherent reasons to believe that Christianity is true and I've also experienced it to be true." The reasons and the experience merely compliment each other.

Finally, have you compared the archeological records of the Bible and The Book of Mormon?

Thank you

David said...

The archeological records of the Bible? Are you referring to the way in which archeology disproves the myth of the global flood?

Av8torBob said...

David,

You seem to suggest through your repeated mention of the flood issue, that the Bible has been shown to be wrong about it. You might be interested to know that this issue has been addressed in detail and that this objection you raise has been defeated. You can check out a short synopsis here: http://www.reasons.org/exploring-extent-flood-part-one

There is plenty more information about this and there are decent arguments on both sides of the "global flood" issue but the point is that a perfectly reasonable answer is available that also completely honors the Biblical text about the extent of the flood.

If you want to try to use archaeology to "disprove" the Bible you will have to come up with a better example than the flood.

Ken Pulliam said...

Chad,

You said: I would be interested to hear how you believe "a long process of evolution" can adequately account for our reasoning capabilities.

I think that our brains have evolved from lower animal forms and we have the largest and most developed brain, hence we can reason.

You said: It's seems to me that from what we DO know, as I am unable to talk about "what we don't know," the best explanation of the available evidence from cosmology points to a definite beginning of our universe, sometime in the finite past, in which all matter, space, time, and energy exploded into existence out of nothing.

If you are privy to a more coherent explanation that better explains the available data, I'd love to hear it.


I think your theory assumes too much. It assumes there was nothing before the big bang and it assumes that the current laws of the universe (effect demands a cause) were in force before the current universe existed.

I don't really have a comprehensive theory because I think that our knowledge is too slim to be able to come up with a definitive theory at this point. I think that is one problem that humans have--we are not patient. We want an answer and we want it now.
You said: I have pointed out elsewhere to you that the 5 minimal facts "considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even THE RATHER SKEPTICAL ONES"
Yes. and I answered that this morning on the other thread.


You said: I see nothing "dubious" about the inner witness of the Spirit. This is internal evidence for me that I believe others can experience as well. In other words, I'm saying, "Hey, there are excellent, coherent reasons to believe that Christianity is true and I've also experienced it to be true." The reasons and the experience merely compliment each other.

But do you agree with Craig that even if the evidence turned out to be against the resurrection, he would still believe based on the witness of the Spirit? To me, that sounds no different than the Mormon.

You said: Finally, have you compared the archeological records of the Bible and The Book of Mormon?

Yes enough to know that the BoM is bunk. However, have you looked at the latest findings in Syro-Palestinian archeology? For example, here and here.

David said...

Av8torBob,

I am well aware that there are those who "solve" the problem of the flood by saying that it was local or regional. I asked the question, because I don't know that Chad, specifically, is one of those who believes this. Since his blog has many links to YEC groups, I was guessing that he thinks the flood was global, but obviously, I could be wrong.

Personally, I think that the conversion of a global flood into a regional/local flood via re-interpretation of the Genesis is an accomodation to modern geological realities. It's not that it's impossible to read the Genesis account as describing a regional/local flood, but one has to work a lot harder to read it this way as opposed to reading it as a description of a global event.

"There are decent arguments on both sides of the "global flood" issue".

What are the two sides that you are referring to here?

Av8torBob said...

David,

You said: I think that the conversion of a global flood into a regional/local flood via re-interpretation of the Genesis is an accomodation to modern geological realities. It's not that it's impossible to read the Genesis account as describing a regional/local flood, but one has to work a lot harder to read it this way as opposed to reading it as a description of a global event.

Two things ... First, I don't think it's difficult at all to read a regional flood interpretation from the Biblical text. In fact, there are clear some indications that the flood could not have covered the entire Earth. Psalm 104 (verses 5-9) describes the creation of the Earth, the separation of water from land, and then the claim that "[God] set a boundary that [the waters] cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth."

This was a description of the earth before the Noahic flood. So it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that it is at least possible that the later flooding of the earth would not violate God's decree.

I am not dogmatic on this. I am only suggesting that you don't have to read anything into the text to "accommodate" a regional flood view and still hold to a high view of Scripture.

Second, you seem to chastise those who promote the regional flood view by accusing them of "re-interpreting Genesis in accommodation to modern geological realities."

But what's wrong with doing that!?

FYI, the "two book" view of revelation -- that God's revelation to us is both special (from Scripture) and general (from nature) -- demands that the revelation itself is not flawed. What can be flawed is our human interpretation of the revelation. On this view, if one form of revelation conflicts with another (on matters that both forms of revelation address) our duty is to re-examine our interpretation to try to discover which one is incorrect.

If our goal is to actually seek the truth, this seems to be the only way to proceed with intellectual honesty.

And I think you could agree that adhering to that kind of approach is not in any way similar to the dogmatic "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" approach that many non-Christians accuse Christians of displaying ... at least I hope you could.

Cheers,
Bob

David said...

So, Psalms 104 says that the waters can not cover the earth, and Genesis says that the waters covered the earth during Noah's Flood. Psalms 104 says God rebuked the waters covering the mountains and they hastened away, and Genesis says the waters covered the mountains during the Flood. Hmm. I'm not sure this is increasing my confidence in the accuracy of the Bible.

I admit that I can't read ancient Hebrew. But when I pick up the Book of Genesis, and when I read all of Genesis 6 through 9 (in English, of course), and when I take all of the words in their entirety and in context, it really does appear as if the intent of the writer is to describe a truly global event. And it doesn't help to say that it would have appeared to witnesses that this was a global event, because the witnesses have access to the knowledge of God, so there's no excuse for ignorance here.

I'm not trying to be difficult, and I'm not saying it's impossible to read this as "regional" if you choose. But, frankly, this is one case where I think Ken Ham, et al., have it right.

Av8torBob said...

David,

I fully admit this is a thorny issue. I'm not trying to be difficult either, but I'm having trouble understanding what you mean by this:

it doesn't help to say that it would have appeared to witnesses that this was a global event, because the witnesses have access to the knowledge of God, so there's no excuse for ignorance here.

We all "have access to the knowledge of God" but that doesn't make us omniscient. What are you trying to get at here?

David said...

"What are you trying to get at here?"

To clarify, if the writers of the Bible are directly inspired by God or informed by God, then I would expect that they would have knowledge that goes beyond what you'd see with ordinary folks living in a given time or place. An average person living thousands of years ago sees a big flood and thinks the whole world is flooded. An inspired writer of the sacred word of God should know better.

Av8torBob said...

David,

Without getting too "theological" on you -- mainly because I'm not qualified to do so :-) -- I don't think this is what we mean by "inspired." The writers were not operating in some kind of trance-like state to dictate the exact words God told them to say. The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy (a widely accepted statement explaining the concept) touches on this:

Article VIII.

WE AFFIRM that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

WE DENY that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.


As it relates to this issue, I take it that the writer was "inspired" to affirm the message that the flood was a judgment of God meant to destroy the entire world that had been infected by human sin. The writer would have described this using the geological term that covered the extent of the area he could observe AND that had been corrupted by man's sinfulness.

This is another reason the regional flood folks believe their view is consistent -- humankind had not yet migrated over the entire Earth so there was no need for the flood to reach that far. It lines up with anthropological evidence (human migration history) AND the geological record.

Like I said earlier, I am not advocating either view. I have read on both (Worldwide and Regional) and honestly struggle with which one is correct. All I am saying is that there are Biblical and geological/anthropological reasons that can be used to justify the regional model.

The bottom line is that both views honor the central Biblical message -- that all of mankind was destroyed for exactly the reason given -- and that is the point the inspired writer was meant to get across.

Does this make sense to you?

David said...

Bob,

Let me see if I understand.

You are saying that the reality (or unreality) of the flood itself can be seen as a minor issue when compared to the message of the story (I find the message you describe to be highly problematic, but that another issue). So, it doesn't really matter if God didn't tell the inspired recorder of the story that the flood in question was local or that the storyteller does not appear to have any more knowledge about the world than you'd expect for a man of his time or place, because it's the theological message that matters. In effect, it doesn't really matter if the flood was global or regional or even if there was actually a flood or not, because it's the message that matters. Is this what you're saying?

I think that I'm following what you are saying, but I think I have to take issue with one point.

You said "this is another reason the regional flood folks believe their view is consistent -- humankind had not yet migrated over the entire Earth so there was no need for the flood to reach that far."

How was this conclusion reached? What is the region that you are talking about and when (approximately) did this flood occur?

Av8torBob said...

I'm not saying it doesn't matter and I'm not saying it's just "theological." I do think the text records an actual historical event that occurred in the last several thousand years. That event served to limit the corrupting impact of wicked humanity.

Here are a couple of sources to check out if you are really interested (sorry, I don't know how to make them links in here):

http://www.reasons.org/interpreting-genesis/noahs-flood/exploring-extent-flood-part-one

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html#JNUE0pIw3eF4

I am away from home (and booke/notes) but as I remember the location is (roughly) south of the Black Sea, west of the Caspian Sea, southwest of Armenia, eastern Turkey ... and in the 15-20k years ago range.

Please don't hold me to anything more specific than that -- it's off the top of my head.

David said...

"I am away from home (and booke/notes) but as I remember the location is (roughly) south of the Black Sea, west of the Caspian Sea, southwest of Armenia, eastern Turkey ... and in the 15-20k years ago range."

Are you referring to the same possible Black Sea flood event examined by Robert Ballard (among others)? If so, as terrible as this event could have been, it's hard to see how or why Noah would have spent over a year on the water after the initial catastrophe. In addition, the rate at which the Black Sea would have filled is such that most people could have easily escaped. But maybe you are referring to something different here.

Regardless, there's a big problem. All relevant and available evidence flatly contradicts the position that all humans were living in this part of the world at 15 to 20 K years ago. "Human migration history" says that humans migrated out of Africa around 50 K years ago and that humans were never, ever all concentrated in the Black Sea/Turkey part of the world. By 15 to 20 K years ago, humans were spread out over at least four continents, and may have reached the Americas, although this is still debated. In short, the is no way that a flood near the Black Sea dated at 15 to 20 K years ago could kill more than a tiny fraction of the whole human population. Given that, it's hard to see how a Black Sea regional flood could have served "to limit the corrupting impact of wicked humanity".
.

Av8torBob said...

David,

Well then I was mistaken. As I said, my numbers are probably off. What I do know is that the Bible (Genesis 10) refers to a time after Noah ("in Peleg's day") when the "earth was divided." This was roughly 14,000 years ago (hence my estimate of 15-20k).

Interestingly, this corresponds with the closing of the Bering Strait (Siberia - Alaska) which opened up migration to the Americas and then re-opened. The authors' (Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana) model matches this and other migration data, including other "bridges" that closed and then re-opened, and it all fits both the Biblical record and the human migration data you mention above.

As for the Black Sea event, there was talk of correlating it with Noah's Flood but it was not accepted for various reasons.

I haven't looked at this issue for several years so I'm sorry I can't be more accurate on dates etc. -- but others have been.

David said...

"Interestingly, this corresponds with the closing of the Bering Strait (Siberia - Alaska) which opened up migration to the Americas and then re-opened."

Does it? Well, that would depend on the date of "Peleg's day". And what is the reason for saying "Peleg's day" would be 14,000 years ago?

I'm guessing that there is no reason to set this date at 14,000 years ago; certainly Bishop Ussher would disagree with this date. The only reason for saying 14 K is a desire to make a weak match between the Bible and known data with respect to the Bering Strait.

But there is no independent reason for placing Peleg at 14 K. There is no reason to think that legends first recorded about 3000 years ago can be used to date event that occurred 14,000 years ago. What Ross is doing is starting with the desired conclusion, that is, he wants to find something in the Bible that vaguely matches geology. But in reality, no one has a clue as to when Peleg lived or even if Peleg actually existed. He's just making stuff up.

"As for the Black Sea event, there was talk of correlating it with Noah's Flood but it was not accepted for various reasons."

Well, that's unfortunate, because there is actual physical evidence with respect to the formation of the Black Sea. However, as far as I know, there is no geological evidence of a cataclysmic region flood in the area "south of the Black Sea, west of the Caspian Sea, southwest of Armenia, eastern Turkey". At a minimum, there is no evidence of a cataclysmic event in this region at a time when it would have wiped out a significant portion of humanity. In fact, for reasons already given, no cataclysmic event centered in this region could have ever wiped out more than a tiny portion of the human population.

"My numbers are probably off."

Well, ok then, what would the date be and what is the basis for this date? Actually, it doesn't matter which date you choose, because there is zero evidence to support the conclusion that there was a regional flood that wiped out nearly all humans at a time and place before the human population had spread out. Archeology, anthropology and genetics and geology all flat out contradict the flood story IF you assume that at a minimum, the flood is supposed to have killed a sufficient number of people "to limit the corrupting impact of wicked humanity".

Could this be a legend derived from a local flood? Sure. But I don't think that helps much in terms of the making the Biblical record match reality, given the description of alleged events provided by Genesis. If one wishes to claim that the Genesis story is derived from a local event in which a lot of local people died in a flood, and then people interpreted this as a god's punishment for bad behavior, then you might have a case. Otherwise? Not going to happen.

Chad said...

Hello Ken,

Hope you are having a fine day!

1. You said: “I think that our brains have evolved from lower animal forms and we have the largest and most developed brain, hence we can reason.”

Unless you can explain how this happened, this really says nothing. Further, you seem to be focusing on the “how” our reason developed; however, my argument is not so much “how” we have gained our reasoning abilities, but that only from a theistic worldview can our conclusions, gained from our reasoning processes, be considered trustworthy.

As British biologist J.B.S. Haldane has said:

“If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

And, as I mentioned in my prior comment, I don’t see how invoking evolution to explain our reasoning capabilities really explains anything. As I understand it, evolution selects only for reproduction and survival, not truth. From an evolutionary perspective, our ideas may be useful to us, but I can see no grounds for assuming that they correspond with reality.

I would want to ask how you, Ken, as an agnostic atheist(?), find justification, within your atheist worldview, to trust your own reasoning processes and their conclusions?

2. You said: “I think your theory assumes too much. It assumes there was nothing before the big bang and it assumes that the current laws of the universe (effect demands a cause) were in force before the current universe existed.”

As I said, I can only talk about the evidence we do know about. Further, “I don’t know” is no explanation at all It seems that you are invoking an “agnosticism of gaps” argument here to avoid the theological implications of the cosmological argument.

Quoting Hawking doesn’t serve to call the singularity into question when one considers that Hawking’s suggested alternative to a beginning utilizes “imaginary time” and he himself admits that his theory is just a proposal. He also has stated that in real time, the universe had a beginning. Finally, he has said, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang…” (Hawking, Brief History of Time, p. 136-139).

3. You have written nothing here, or on any other thread that I have seen, that calls the 5 minimal facts I’ve presented into question. It seems you still are trying to suggest that the MF argument relies upon inerrancy, when Habermas and Licona’s work proves otherwise.

Further, your accusation that apologists “bootleg” other facts in an effort to bolster their case once again demonstrates your failure to understand the MF approach. The “bootleg facts” are simply some of the REASONS that the majority of scholars who study the subject of the resurrection, including the skeptical ones, accept the 5 MF facts as historical. Surely there is nothing underhanded about this.

4. I believe that truth should correspond with reality and I’m glad that we agree that the BoM is “bunk;” however, let us not overlook the fact that archeology has served to sustain the existence of numerous key figures and places from antiquity and there is still much to be excavated. For examples, see here:

http://www.christiananswers.net/archaeology/

I will checkout the resources you have suggested and I thank you for them!

Take care

Chad said...

Hello David,

I have been enjoying your comments and wanted to say that while you are correct in pointing out that my blog has numerous YEC links on it, there are also many helpful Intelligent Design(ID) links as well.

Regarding Noah's Flood, I tend to lean toward a global flood; however, I am opened to the arguments for a local flood. I am always in the process of re-evaluating my views on such matters.

I feel no pressing need to defend my views on the nature of the flood because this issue does not relate directly to the arguments raised in my essay.

However, the resources suggested by Ava8torBob, reasons.org and godandscience.org, are excellent places to research this topic and for a fair YEC perspective I would recommend creation.com

I was sorry to read of your grandmother's condition in your above comments.

Please take care and thank you for visiting Truthbomb Apologetics and checking it out.

Take care

Ken Pulliam said...

Chad,

Thanks. You say: I don’t see how invoking evolution to explain our reasoning capabilities really explains anything. As I understand it, evolution selects only for reproduction and survival, not truth. From an evolutionary perspective, our ideas may be useful to us, but I can see no grounds for assuming that they correspond with reality

It seems to me that those beings whose thoughts correspond the best to reality are the ones who are more likely to survive. I don't see the necessity of postulating a deity in order to somehow make our thoughts trustworthy. How does one test the accuracy of one's thoughts? By seeing if they correspond to reality. Science provides an excellent methodology.

As far as the big bang, Hawking is saying that our present universe began with the big bang but we still don't know what was before. I am just being honest. You don't know and I don't know that there was "nothing" (whatever nothing is). You are assuming based on your faith system that a god existed and brought it all into being. That might be the case but you don't know it and neither do I. Nor does science prove it. One could draw an inference that it is the case but that is not the only possible inference to draw.

With regard to the MF, Licona himself only uses three now because he recognizes that the other 2 are much more problematic. If one is take all of the details recorded in the NT as literal history, then one has no choice but to believe the bodily resurrection was literal. However, the whole MF approach is trying to say that you don't have to take all the details just these minimal facts in order to arrive at a conclusion that the resurrection was literal. You can't have it both ways. You can't say well the miminal facts are derived from the other details so therefore the other details are true as well. Once you do that, you no longer are holding just to the MF.

Archeology has confirmed some things from the Bible but then again everything in the BofM is not wrong, it has some accurate things as well. However, the study of archeology over the last 15 years or so has pretty much wiped out the idea that the OT at least up until the time of David or Solomon is real history. The NT is mostly accurate on its historical details that can be checked but just because it is accurate there does not automatically mean that its accurate on its miracle claims which are beyond the scope of archeology.

Sarah said...

Av8torBob:

You said "You can hook electrodes up to my brain all day long and record all the neurons firing in whatever region of the brain you like -- but you will NEVER know what I am thinking unless I TELL YOU."

Actually neuroscientists are getting to the point where they can know what you are thinking based on your neural activity. Check this out, for example:

Miyawaki, Y., Uchida, H., Yamashita, O., Sato, M., Morito, Y., Tanabe, H. C., Sadato, N., Kamitani, Y. (2008). Visual image reconstruction from human brain activity using a combination of multi-scale local image decoders . Neuron , 60, 5, 915-929 .

Chad said...

Hello again Ken,

I hope you are well and thank you for the interaction.

In my essay, I have tried to argue using the inference to the best explanation, particularly in regard to the argument from reason, the cosmological argument, and the minimal facts argument. Further, I highlighted the fact that it’s important for one’s experience (internal evidence for the individual) to cohere with available exterior evidences.

In reviewing our dialogue, I believe you have raised some possible alternative explanations to the arguments I’ve put forth; however, I do not believe you have demonstrated the plausibility of these other explanations.

I admit that I bring certain biases to these subjects; however, we all do and the best we can do is be aware of these and try to remain as objective as possible.

Further, while each of us subscribes to our own set of pre-suppositions, it’s important to be sure one’s pre-suppositions are co-herent.

Regarding Mr. Licona, I would challenge your claim that Mr. Licona believes that 2 of the 5 MF’s are “problematic.” First, it’s important to understand that in a debate setting, due to time constraints, one cannot establish all 5 of the MF, so it makes sense that Licona would go with the 3 best attested. Second, while the two you say are “problematic” may not share the same scholarly consensus as the other 3, a solid case can still be made to establish the other 2. This is why I would recommend you read “The Case for the Resurrection” by Dr. Habermas and Mr. Licona. This book could arguably be called the foundational work in explaining the MF approach.

Finally, I never asserted that the archaeological evidence in support of the Bible supports its miracles claims. I simply pointed out that archeology has served to confirm the existence of many key biblical places and figures, nothing more.

I have enjoyed our respectful dialogue Ken and encourage you to continue your search for truth, as I will continue my own.

Take care

Ken Pulliam said...

Chad,

Thanks for your response and I have appreciated the dialogue. I didn't mean to imply that Licona now rejects 2 of the 5 MF's. What I meant is that based on our conversation when I told him that I could accept 3 out of the 5 MF's he immediately said that he realized that the 2 I rejected were weaker than the other 3 and that therefore he no longer uses them in debate.

Regarding presuppositions, yes we need to make sure they are coherent. I recognize you don't think mine are and of course I don't think yours are. Each person, as Paul said, must be persuaded in his own mind.

Regarding archeology, yes it does confirm some facts in the NT but it also disconfirms some facts in the OT. So, if one accepts the former, one must also accept the latter. Regardless, though, archeology cannot help us in terms of deciding whether any particular miracle took place or not.

Chad said...

Ken,

Thank you again for the interaction. As I said, I will checkout the links you suggested.

Here is a link that you, and Apologetics315 readers, may find interesting.

Take care

Jonathan Kolker said...

Ken Pulliam, the problem with your position is that you assume you can change your mind. You say, and I have heard this position stated by others, that the some chains of reasoning are sometimes wrong, and thus, in some way, the human mind is not perfect, just as atheism predicts. It is so that human reasoning is often wrong. Yet your answer assumes something that evolution + materialism cannot give you: the ability to choose. Yesterday you may have had a false belief, but if that is truly due to your "digestion," as Lewis liked to put it, and your belief about that belief is just due to your "digestion," how are you to know which ones are true or not? You are still assuming the ultimate reality of mind and choice in showing that we don't need mind and choice!

If you consistently apply the two maxim's "I have no choice in what I believe," and "my belief's are not chosen for their being close to the truth but for their ability to enhance my ability to survive" I think you will see that evolution does not give you grounds for reason.

Mike

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