Page 3 of 16

A Future Book: Thinking Through Faith

One of the reasons I began this blog was to follow the advice of several authors who have said that the best way to improve your writing is to write. Another purpose for the blog is to think out loud while I write, creating initial drafts of potential future books. One of those projects is a book introducing Christians to the classical case for the existence of God, the sort of thinking about God that has its roots in such figures as Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas (and, as it happens, the view of God found in the Bible!). That picture, combined with a careful defense of the credibility of the testimony of the gospels, provides what I believe is the most potent case for Christianity that can be made.

Down below you can see various posts I’ve done so far that are first drafts of potential chapters (or parts of chapters) in the book. If you’ve missed some of these posts, please check them out. Your feedback will make the book better!

And while you are at it, take a moment to subscribe to the blog so you can keep up to date with future posts.

Blind Faith or Reasoned Faith?

The “Atheist’s Guide to Reality” (or, Colorless Crayons)

Nazis, Morality, and Atheism

Proving God Exists

Richard Dawkins and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Argument 

The Necessary Being

What Is the Necessary Being?

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

One and Only One

The Problem of Evil for Atheism

The Problem of Evil

 

One and Only One

(Note: this is the fifth 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:

I have been making the case for God’s existence in two major moves. The first move was to show that the only way to ultimately account for contingent realities (those things that rely on something else to exist) is by the existence of some necessary reality (something that does not rely on anything else to exist). That was part one – and in my opinion, it’s the easy part!

The second major move is to identify what this necessary being or reality is. And this isn’t really difficult to do; it just takes some patient and careful reflection. So far, we have deduced the following:

  • It must be eternal, since – as a necessary being rather than a contingent being – it doesn’t rely on anything else to come into existence or to remain in existence. It just is.
  • It must be immaterial, since anything that is made up of parts is contingent (it depends on those parts to exist, and it depends on something to assemble the parts). It isn’t anything physical, in other words.
  • It must be immutable, since – as a necessary being – it does not rely on something else to “actualize” its potentials (a fancy word for “change it”). It is purely or fully actual.

Obviously, whatever this necessary being is, it is much different than us or anything else we encounter in the reality of time, space, and matter. Then again, we would expect that the ultimate foundation of all reality would be pretty special! And that leads me to one more attribute of this necessary being… Continue reading

A Second Look at Mike Pence’s “Rule”

Back in March the Washington Post ran a profile of Mike Pence’s wife which mentioned his longstanding practice of not socializing alone with women other than his family. News of this practice was met with scorn, outrage, and derision by many critics. In their view, this was an affront to the equality of women in the workplace – or worse (this is the rape culture at work!).

At the time, I pointed out that while Pence’s scruples may seem highly unusual to some, this was a widely accepted safe-guard among those of us who are labeled “evangelicals” (it even has a name – the “Billy Graham Rule”). For those of us who believe that marriage is truly a sacred commitment before God, maintaining clear boundaries around marriage is just common sense. I recognized then (and now) that not everyone shares the same religious convictions about (what used to be commonly referred to as) “holy matrimony,” and that even among those who do, not everyone follows this cautious principle. But I argued that surely even those who disagree with how Pence and his wife approach this matter of judgment could at least see why they do so, and maybe even feel a certain sense of grudging admiration for such conviction. Continue reading

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