In the debate between Craig vs. Kappel on the topic “Does God Exist” the question “Why should we believe atheism is true?” comes up.Kappel is unable to explain why anyone should believe in atheism while Craig provides 6 reasons right off the bat while theism is true.
In a debate held April 18, 2012 in Copenhagen, Christian apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig debated atheist philosopher Klemens Kappel on the topic: “Does God Exist?” I couldn’t resist posting this clip – for a number of reasons, namely:
A. Dr. Craig concludes Theism or “the God hypothesis” as he put it earlier – is “perfectly rational to hold to” – which is of course the theme of this site.
B. Dr. Craig Lists the explanatory power of Theism over atheism, Theism can explain things such as:
(All good topics I should discuss one day.)
C. In challenging Dr. Kappel to prove atheism is true, Dr. Craig points out a number of ways one can logically or rationally establish an argument, namely by:
When you watch, notice two things:
Now without further ado, the video:
Duane Caldwell | posted 4-30-2014 | print format
|1 The posts mentioning an inference to the best explanation are:The Poor Marksmenship of Evolutionists andReclaiming the Intellectual and Moral High Ground|
Among Christians there should be no questions or debates about the origins of life, the earth or the universe.
– How important is this for Christians to deal with?
Dr. Danny Faulkner, Author, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, retired and now on staff with Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum responded:
True, but Dr. Faulkner misses the elephant in the room. Dr. Hugh Ross, Astronomer and best-selling author responded:
Dr. Ross’ answer not only misses the elephant in the room, but it is also very misleading. Why do the biblical creeds not mention the time of creation? (More importantly the duration.) Because that is not one of the issues they were dealing with at the time. In the first few centuries after Christ’s resurrection, the church was besieged with Christological issues – docetism (Christ only seemed to have a body but was really just spiritual), gnosticism (a whole range of errors regarding God from which we get the phrase “children of a lesser god”; errors regarding Christ; and the nature of good and evil), monophysitism (Christ had only one nature), and so on. So they were concerned with clearly and correctly defining who Christ was – that he was “very God from very God” (from the Nicene Creed) and “one person with two natures” (From the Definition of Chalcedon). The Nicene Creed was written in 325 AD; the definition of Chalcedon was written in 451. The issue of the length of creation didn’t come up until needed for evolution, and Darwin didn’t publish “Origin of Species” until 1859. So of course the creeds don’t deal with that.
Dr. Ross also states big bang cosmology identifies the who of creation as the God of the Bible. Really? Perhaps he should tell that to Continue Reading
Some Atheists are too afraid to answer the difficult questions.
There’s a very good article by Peter Saunders titled Twenty questions Atheists struggle to Answer: How Theism does better on the first six. Before presenting the first six issues which atheists struggle to answer (actually he’s being kind – he uses “struggle” as if they have an answer when actually atheism has no reasonable answer to the first 6.), he makes some preliminary comments. The third comment he makes – actually a challenge – is particularly apropos to a recent discussion I had. Speaking to Atheists and agnostics, Saunders says:
Of particular interest is the second sentence, a description of the toxic environment often created by atheists in their so called “discussions” with Christians or theists – discussions which are for the atheist often little more than opportunities to mock. To the list of the usual allegations I would add the allegation of “fallacious argument” a claim atheists wield as a shield against anyone who doesn’t agree with them – apparently before even reading the argument because they use it even when it doesn’t apply.
|What will it take for you to believe?
Charlton Heston as Moses – “You are not worthy to receive these commandments”
Twitter is of course home to many ongoing debates, one of which is the ongoing debate between atheists and theists; creationists and materialists – those who adhere to the standard non-supernatural theories of origins for the universe and life. One such debate was brought to my attention with the following tweet:
To the contrary:
This directly contradicts the contention that all fossils are “arranged in evolutionary order”. In fact the situation is worse than that when one considers Continue Reading
Evolutionists claim to be answering a problem posed to them, but they often avoid the problem or miss the mark.
|Kahn: Kirk – You’re still alive old friend.
Kirk: Still, – “old friend”. You’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!
And so admiral1 Kirk taunts Kahn, a genetically engineered “super” human who is supposed to be superior to us mere humans in every way – physically, mentally etc. In another classic line, when Kirk is trying to get Kahn to follow the Enterprise into a nebulae where both ships would lose the benefits of key systems such as shields, Kirk taunts Kahn again, saying “I’m laughing at the superior intellect,” a taunt sufficient enough to get Kahn to follow them in.
I don’t mean to taunt the poor misguided evolutionists, but I do hope the air of superiority they tend to express motivates them to try to provide an answer to the questions posed in the post “Windtalkers and DNA” because the responses I’ve had so far don’t address the issues. So like Kirk I say, like poor marksmen, they keep missing the target of the difficulties that DNA poses. So let me spell it out the difficulties for them, – and give them a clear target to hit. But first here is a sample of the poor marksmanship: Continue Reading
As you might imagine of one hosting a website that deals with apologetic issues, I listened with interest to the debate last Saturday on Moody’s Up For Debate entitled “Do Apologetics Help or Hurt our Christian Witness?” As always the host, Julie Roys welcomed well qualified guests for the discussion: author and professor David Fitch and author and professor Nancy Pearcey. Dr. Fitch offered the concern that apologetics train us in a posture of defensiveness; and that we don’t listen as well, having answers ready before we hear the question. His main objection is summarized in this tweet:
We have a posture of defensiveness which is not needed. Rather we need to embody the story God is telling through us. – #DavidFitch
— Up for Debate Radio (@Up4DebateRadio) March 8, 2014
Professor Pearcey had a number of good responses, in addition to her own testimony of how apologetics helped her come to the faith, some of her reminders include:
– We need to be inclusive in our approaches
– We should use all the tools available to us
– It is possible to do apologetics wrong (implied: therefore learn to do it right!)
– Apologetics can descend into a game of “gotcha”
– And as she reminded us in this tweet:
— Up for Debate Radio (@Up4DebateRadio) March 8, 2014
But the answer I was expecting, Continue Reading
The 19th century classic “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott is an allegory of the resulting social problems and intellectual impasse that results when a person who has been enlightened (and sees a truth beyond what’s normally possible in the physical realm) tries to present that truth to the unenlightened. Flatland is so named because it, and all its inhabitants live in a two dimensional world. When a 3 dimensional object – a being in the shape of a sphere – is introduced to a 2 dimensional Flatlander – a mathematician – the response of humans to revelations (by way of analogy) is on display.
As you might expect, the mathematician has the all the concepts and mathematical knowledge to understand the description of a sphere, but while he understands technically what the sphere is saying, since a 3 dimensional object is outside of the realm of the possible within a 2 dimension world, he has a hard time believing what the sphere is saying is true – until the sphere performs miracles – that is to say feats that are miraculous to the two dimensional characters of the story, yet totally understandable to a 3 dimensional person (such as the reader). The main conflict of story centers around the beliefs of most flatlanders: since – as far as they are concerned – 3 dimensional objects are impossible and don’t exist, anyone who claims they are possible (or has seen one) is either insane or dangerous or both, and thus must be placed permanently in a mental institution or must be put to death. Without delving any further into the story, let me point out what Abbott so masterfully illustrates using concepts that we, as 3 dimensional beings, readily understand by his analogy: Continue Reading
The Scopes monkey trial, popularized by the decidedly pro-evolution 1960 movie “Inherit the Wind” has been described by one historian as:
“Lasting just 11 days, the trial became a showdown between faith and reason…”1
The charge to be adjudicated: that a teacher by the name of John Scopes had taught Darwin’s theory of Evolution in the classroom, an act which, at the time, was illegal. (My how things have changed.) The goal here is not rehash the trial, or discuss perceived winners and losers. The reason for bringing it up is to point out how it is commonly described: “a showdown between faith and reason.” This “showdown” has been raging at least since that trial, which began July 21, 1925. Some would locate the origin with Galileo’s 17th century dispute with the church over whether the earth went around the sun; or the sun went around the earth.
Some would take it all the way back to the early Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle who lived a few hundred years before Christ. The point in bringing up the “showdown”: there is a strong, vocal faction aptly represented by the likes of atheist cheerleader Richard Dawkins, who believes that faith and reason are at odds and are irreconcilable.
In a documentary called “Enemies of Reason”, Dawkins states: “There are two ways of looking at the world through faith and superstition, or through the rigors of logic, observation and evidence; through reason. Yet today, reason has a battle on its hands. I want to confront the epidemic of irrational superstitious thinking.”2
Dawkins wants to confront “the epidemic of irrational superstitious thinking.” A noble goal insofar as he correctly identifies that which is superstitious. Problem is he doesn’t. He has a tendency to group that which is true with that which is myth. And so one of my goals is to confront the epidemic of irrational atheistic thinking that winds up getting labeled as “scientific”.
If you think such atheists (and scientists for that matter) are always the objective, logical, followers-of-the-evidence-wherever-it-leads type of people that they like to portray themselves as, you’re in for a rude awaking – as will be evident in posts to come. Some of the other reasons for this site:
- To show that the Christian Faith is rational – using the tools Dawkins specified – logic, observation and evidence.
- And to point out that those claiming that the Christian faith is not rational – are often themselves basing it on incorrect a priori assumptions from their own faith – typically atheism – and not what they claim – logic, observation and evidence.
For those atheists and others who don’t realize that they too are following a faith (that’s a whole other discussion), “rational faith” is a contradiction in terms. As you would expect from someone who is the author of a site titled “Rational Faith” I obviously disagree. But in order to demonstrate that the Christian faith is rational, I’ll need to define exactly what is meant by rational faith. Which I will do, but with this first3 post let me start by defining what rational faith is not. As a point of reference, consider the following definition of “Faith and Rationality” as it appears in Wikipedia as of this writing:
“Faith and rationality are two ideologies that exist in varying degrees of conflict or compatibility.
Rationality is based on reason or evidence.
Faith is belief in inspiration, revelation, or authority. The word faith generally refers to a belief that is held with lack of, in spite of or against reason or evidence. Although the words faith and belief are sometimes erroneously conflated and used as synonyms, faith properly refers to a particular type (or subset) of belief, as defined above.
Broadly speaking, there are two categories of views regarding the relationship between faith and rationality:
- Rationalism holds that truth should be determined by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma, tradition or religious teaching.
- Fideism holds that faith is necessary, and that beliefs may be held without evidence or reason, or even in conflict with evidence and reason”
Clearly this perceived tension between faith and reason is a common and widespread misunderstanding. Many it seems, believe that “faith” and “reasoned, rational thought” are mutually exclusive. That one must “believe” in spite of what reason or evidence tells you. Or as some suggest, when going to church, check your brains at the door. By extension, many believe that faith and science are also at odds – that you can not be a good scientist if you have faith in God; and that true believers in the Christian faith are necessarily antagonistic toward properly applied science. All of these are incorrect and to understand why, we must go back to goal, the point of faith and reason. What is goal of reason? And of Faith? The goal of reason is to identify truth. D. Q. McInerny, author of Being Logical states:
“The whole purpose of reasoning, of logic, is to arrive at the truth of things.”4
What is the goal of faith, speaking specifically of the Christian faith? The Christian faith is all about knowledge of the truth. Jesus says he came to testify about the truth (John 18.37), that he in fact is truth (John 14.6); that the truth will set you free (John 8.32); and that knowledge of the true God, and Jesus (who is truth) leads to eternal life (John 17.3). So in other words, the point of the Christian faith is to identify and know the truth – ultimate truth; and according to Jesus once you properly identify and properly respond to that truth (by believing), God is pleased to grant you eternal life. But don’t be distracted by the promise of eternal life. The point I’m making is that the goal of reason and faith are the same: to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (And in passing, the goal of science is also to arrive at truth5 – but that’s a discussion for another time.)
If the goal is the same, why is it then, that so many think that faith and reason are at odds? If reason and faith are both striving for the same goal – truth – those following either discipline should arrive at the same destination – at least in the areas to which both disciplines address themselves – such as ultimate truth. And that is precisely my point and my firm belief, and one of the motivating factors behind this blog – to show that both faith and reason, properly understood, guide you to the same place – the true God, creator of the universe, the God of the souls of all mankind.
Thus my main problem with the statement above from Wikipedia and all others who see varying degrees of conflict or incompatibility between faith and reason is that such an understanding mistakenly casts the two as opposites in an either / or proposition. In that light, you either have reason OR you have faith – not both. Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to drive that point home. This blog is to demonstrate that those who think rationally not only have good reason to trust in rational thought, but also have good reason to trust in the Christian Faith – because it is a faith based on evidences and confirmed by reason, and so it is a wholly rational faith (no pun intended).
This leaves us with a lot of questions such as: If Science and Faith have the same goal – truth – why do many see them as being at odds? Are there different types of truth? Do science and faith lead to the same kind of “truth”? If the Christian faith is so rational, why are so many scientists atheists? If Christianity is “rational” and “reasonable”, why does so much of what Christians believe seem to be in conflict with what scientists and the world at large believes? All good questions but too much for one blog post. So we’ll have to return to these issues in the days to come. For now, let me answer the initial question of what rational faith is not with this summary:
- Rational Faith (or faith properly understood) is not in conflict with reason; faith and reason are not contradictory – they are complementary
- Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive
- Faith and reason are not an either / or proposition; they are a both / and proposition; they work together; not against each other
- Faith is not reliant solely on “authority” or “revelation”; it is strongly based in evidences of various types
Now we’ve seen what rational faith is not. Next we’ll see what rational faith is.
1 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America Episode 7: Scopes: The Battle Over America’s Soul TV series Documentary, 2006
2 Dawkins, Richard Enemies of Reason Documentary, 2007
3 First written at any rate, though I wound up electing to post select pieces of evidences ahead of this post so they would be available for my atheists acquaintances on their first visit
4 McInerny, D.Q. Being Logical, A Guide to Good Thinking New York: Random House 2005, p. 19
“Let’s understand one thing loud and clear; science is concerned with the truth. It really is.”
Ashutosh Jogalekar “Creationists are wrong. Science is actually concerned with the truth” 7/19/13 “The Curious Wavefunction” blog on Scientific American
The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) takes it a step further stating the point of science is to measure theories against absolute truth; implying the goal is to discover elements of truth that are not known.ICR “The Foundation of Science Is Absolute Truth” accessed 1/28/14
|DNA – a highly complex very efficient information storage and retrieval system|
In the 2002 movie “Windtalkers”, Sergeant Joe Enders, played by Nicholas Cage is given this charge: “Protect the code.” It’s World War II and the Marines are using the code for critical tactical communications that they cannot afford to have intercepted. They’ve developed a unique code that proves to be unbreakable. That’s because it’s double coded.
According to this Wikipedia article, in a moment of luck mixed with a touch of genius reminiscent of the insight highlighted in “A Beautiful Mind”, Captain Lawrence of the U.S. Army overheard two men speaking in the Choctaw native American language – and had an inspiration for the code. The article gives further details on the “Code Talkers” but the point I want to make is this: The communication employed by the Marines was coded. Coded information always requires someone – an intelligence – to create the code. If that is not obvious, this particular case clarifies things because the communication is double coded – which highlights the intelligence required. It’s quite obvious that there is no process in the universe that can create double coded information without an intelligence behind it.
Consider the complexity of creating and decoding a double coded message. Suppose the word they wanted to communicate was “Plateau”. Plateau may be coded (in English) to the word “horse”. “Horse” would then be translated into the word used in the Choctaw language for horse, which is issuba.1 The process looks something like this:
Plateau > Code word: Horse >Horse re-coded : issuba
Notice the process of mapping meaning to a symbol that takes place. It’s clear to see why this code was unbreakable. Even if they could catch the syllables of the Choctaw words which were spoken (which would have been difficult enough) – the enemy wouldn’t know what those syllables “is-su-ba” meant. Let’s say the enemy managed to catch the word, they next have to determine the convention used. It’s not English, French, Spanish, etc. They need to figure out the language convention: Choctaw. If they manage to figure that, they additionally need to find someone who speaks Choctaw. If you do, you now have the meaning of the word in Choctaw – “horse” but you still haven’t intercepted the message, because the message is still in code. “Horse” isn’t the message, “horse” must be again decoded by an intelligence to retrieve the originally intended message using yet another code. And for that you must have the code. And I’ll say it again because it’s a critical point: Codes are not created by random processes, they are the result of an intelligence. Intelligence is required to create a code, to encode a message, and to create a process to decode the message.
Clearly coded messages require intelligence. Both to encode and decode. But in fact the need for intelligence goes beyond that. The coder must use a system of pre-defined symbols as the medium by which the coded message is transferred or carried. (And if one does not exist, the communicator must create such a system.) For example on this web page, the system employed is the specially formed black marks called “letters” used to represent small units of meaning that represent sound. The letters are then formed into a concept by arranging them in the pre-selected units of the code or language, in this case English words. Once the concepts are encoded into words, an intelligence must further arrange the words to communicate something even more complex: a complete message – a phrase conveying meaning. Consider this string of letters and characters:
lb)rah ured(e sy(eir)
It has what appears to be letters arranged into words, but it is meaningless. This is what you get from random processes – Darwinian processes. Now consider the same letters, after being arranged by an intelligence into words – which when strung together with further intelligence, properly convey meaningful information:
(red hair) (blue eyes)
So an intelligent coder uses the letters of a pre-defined system (or creates one), and superimposes a pre-defined message (in this case hair color, eye color) on those letters by arranging them according to a pre-defined code (or language) such that the component parts (the individual words) communicate the intended message when decoded by the pre-defined code (in this case the code is the English language). This process of information encoding and decoding is far beyond what random processes alone can achieve. Random processes could not even create a complete set of letters, much less a word or message.
Now consider DNA. DNA is highly complex, very efficient information storage and retrieval system. It contains coded information. There is not a biologist (or any other scientist) in the world that denies these facts. Consider what this means. For DNA to have originated, the following would have had to have occurred:
1. An intelligent designer had to create a system of symbols to carry the message. In the case of DNA it is a chemical alphabet that scientist represent by the letters ACGT – representing the nucleobases in DNA – Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine. These function as the letters of an alphabet
2. An intelligent designer had to create a “language” that communicates a message when the 4 letters are arranged in a certain way.
3. An intelligent designer had to arrange the letters in an intelligent, specific ways to encode and transmit the instructions necessary to create chemical words that specify the various traits we see in the many creatures that exist – such traits being things like hair color or eye color.
4. An intelligent designer had create a system capable of decoding the coded message.
On this point of the information bearing properties of DNA, Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science and author of the book “Signature in the Cell” which details this process correctly observes:
“NeoDarwinism and its associated theories of chemical evolution and the like will not be able to survive the biology of the information age, the biology of the 21st century.”2
The random processes claimed for evolution are simply incapable of creating such a system because random processes do not create complex, specific, organized information nor the systems that store such information. Since evolution could not have created DNA, those seriously seeking the truth about the origins of life are left bereft of any plausible naturalistic explanation. Since evolution is eliminated as an explanation for the origins of life (which Darwinism never provided in the first place3), the only source of such a super complex information storage and retrieval system and the information contained within – is an intelligence capable of creating them both. In the face of such clearly designed, intelligent systems and complexly coded information, Darwinian random processes and undirected mutations don’t stand a chance. For those seriously seeking the truth, I direct you to a testimony of the Creator:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
As this testimony from the psalms of David shows, the works of the Creator are evident even without knowledge of the complexities of DNA. Truly, those with knowledge of DNA and still denying God are “without excuse.”4
1 Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna, School of Choctaw Language, 2013
2 Stephen Meyer in Lee Strobel’s DVD Documentary “The Case for a Creator”, Illustra Media, 2006
3 Darwinian Evolution cannot operate until life already exists. Thus claims that processes like natural selection created DNA are non-starters since natural selection cannot operate until life (include DNA) already exists. So much for Dawkin’s “intellectual fulfillment”. (Richard Dawkins says evolution allows him to be a “intellectually fulfilled” atheist The Blind Watchmaker (1986), page 6)
4 The Apostle Paul, Romans 1.20
Image: DNA – Public Domain, National Institutes of Health
|Problems for Darwin’s Tree of Life:
The Red Panda doesn’t fit; nor do a host of other creatures, vindicating the biblical account of creation by kinds.
In the recent Ken Ham vs Bill Nye debate on origins (which one tweeter aptly named the Ham on Nye debate) based on some comments I’ve heard, it seems to me that a number of people missed one of the main points Ham was making. And since one the reasons for this blog is to defend the Biblical account of origins let me revisit that point here.
Ham pointed out that the Bible makes specific claims about origins – the origins of the solar system, of people, of all creatures. In contrast the theory that allows Richard Dawkins to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist” – Darwinian evolution – also makes claims – quite different claims. So the question is which explanation better fits the evidence? On the one hand, in a doctrine known as “common descent” Darwinian evolution claims that all creatures are descendents of a single ancestor. That means that all creatures are related and are part of what’s known as the evolutionary tree of life.
On the other hand the Bible claims that creatures were created by God, “according to their kind” (Gen 1.21, 24, 25, etc.). Continue Reading