In Sickness and In Health

One night last week my wife was working late, so I grabbed a bite by myself at one of Plant City’s landmark restaurants, Fred’s. As I was getting back into the car to go home, I noticed a man helping a woman into a van. She did not appear to be old enough to be his mother, and the way they interacted almost certainly indicated that she was his wife.

And she was in poor health. She used a scooter to get around, and she was also on oxygen. In order for her to get into their van, she needed her husband’s help. I watched as he positioned the scooter in order for her to stand up and then navigated her into the passenger seat. This took a long time, and obviously took a lot out of her. Then, he moved the scooter to the back of the van, and (after some effort) mounted the scooter on the brackets that held it in place. Continue reading

Pure Actuality (or, Why the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” Isn’t God)

Note: this is the fourth post in a series on  the existence of God. Since it builds on the previous posts, please carefully read them before you read this one:

In this series of posts I am laying out the case for God’s existence. This case is taking shape in two phases. In the first phase, I began with the observation that whatever exists does so either because it depends on something else to exist or it doesn’t depend on something else to exist. We can see many things that do depend on other things to exist (like me, for instance!). But those things which depend on something else to exist cannot ultimately be accounted for by other things that also depend on something else to exist – that just shifts the question to another dependent reality. Therefore, there must be some ultimate reality that doesn’t depend on anything else to exist (a contingent being) but rather exists independently (a necessary being).

But what is it? That’s the second phase of this argument. Continue reading

In Defense of “Thoughts and Prayers”

In the aftermath of the recent church shooting in Texas, many people sent “thoughts and prayers” via social media to the families of the victims. This was met with a chorus of frustration, anger, and – in some instances – hatred, by many people on the Left. For instance, one of my favorite performers (until now) Michael McKean, tweeted this:

Another person on Twitter had this to say:

Comments like this reflect such a gross misunderstanding of what Christians believe about prayer that I wanted to set forth some basic points from Scripture about prayer. Continue reading

What Is the Necessary Being?

Last week I began laying out the case for God’s existence. By way of review, here are the bullet points of that first phase of the argument:

  1. Anything that exists is either contingent (depends on something else for its existence) or necessary (does not depend on something else for its existence).
  2. Some contingent things exist (like plants, planets, animals, and people).
  3. The existence of these contingent things cannot ultimately be explained by other contingent things, since they also depend on something else for their existence.
  4. Therefore the existence of contingent things can only be ultimately explained by something that exists necessarily, something that does not depend on something else for its existence but rather inherently possesses existence.

A necessary being, in other words.

But just exactly what is this unusual being that exists necessarily? The universe? A vast collection of universes (a multiverse)? The laws of physics? In this post I want to advance the case for God’s existence by showing that none of these options will work. Continue reading

The Necessary Being

Last week I wrote a post in which I discussed whether it is possible to prove that God exists. To briefly review, I explained that since (according to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) God is the Creator of the universe rather than simply another object in the universe, God’s existence is not detectable by scientific means. But there is another avenue of evidence that it open to us. We can start with simple observations from our world, and using the principles of logic, put together a series of deductions that prove that God exists. I want to begin such a project with this post. Continue reading

“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” – But Who Is it?

“Oh that my words were written!
    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
    they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:23-26)

Job’s Despair, by William Blake

The most memorable phrase from the Book of Job is Job’s declaration, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” It is one of the few hopeful statements found in Job’s speeches with his friends. And it is the inspiration for several great hymns still in use today.

But just exactly who did Job have in mind when he expressed this confidence? In the context, who is Job’s “redeemer”? Continue reading

“To Have and to Hold…Til Death Do We Part”

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

The New York Times broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s vile pattern of sexual abuse just after the Vegas shooting. In the days following the nightmare in Vegas, stories were beginning to emerge about the heroes in the midst of that horror, but thanks to the Weinstein bombshell, those stories were quickly lost in the shuffle. This only adds to the tragedy of the events in Vegas. So in this post, I want to draw attention to two heroes.

Those heroes are Jack Beaton and Sonny Melton. Continue reading

Proving God Exists

Is it possible to prove that God exists? That all depends on what is meant by the word prove.

If the question is whether it is possible to prove scientifically that God exists, then the answer is no. But that is not because belief in God is unreasonable or unsupported by evidence. It is because – by definition – God is not the sort of being whose existence is detectable by scientific investigation. The tools of science are well-suited to analyze those things that are part of the material world, things that can be put under a microscope or tested in a particle accelerator. Christianity (and Judaism and Islam) teaches that God is the creator of the universe, and as such, God exists outside of the material world. So in principle, God is not a fit subject for the empirical methods of science. Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein, Tim Murphy, and the Evil Fruit of Tribalism

On the surface Harvey Weinstein and Tim Murphy have nothing in common. Weinstein is a Hollywood mogul and an avid supporter of various liberal causes, such as Planned Parenthood. Murphy is a Republican Congressman and a staunch proponent of the pro-life movement. But last week both men were exposed as frauds. On October 5 The New York Times published a scathing expose of Weinstein and his long history of sexual harassment. The same day, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that Murphy intended to resign as a result of the fallout from the news that Murphy was having an affair and urged his pregnant mistress to get an abortion.

While Wenstein’s gross conduct was news to the general public, it was well known to those inside the Hollywood bubble. And while it is unclear to what extent Murphy’s affair was known, there is evidence that other sorts of workplace abuse and misconduct were widely known in GOP Congressional circles. So why weren’t these men exposed as charlatans before now? Continue reading

A Note on Job 2:3 – Did Satan Incite God Against Job?

This quarter I am teaching a class on one of the most difficult books of the Bible, the Book of Job. It is not a book filled with easy answers. Instead, it unflinchingly confronts the tension of evil and suffering in a world governed by God. One of the most puzzling verses in the book is Job 2:3-

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” (ESV)

What does this text mean? It almost sounds like God is saying that Satan bullied or cajoled him into doing harm to Job. Is that how we are supposed to understand this verse? Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading