Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hard Questions: Why doesn't God heal Amputees? (With Brett Kunkle)

Brett Kunkle over at STR Place has written a pretty good article about the atheist objection- "Why doesn't God heal amputees?".


Apparently, it’s a question atheists make a big deal about. There is even an entire website dedicated to it (www.whywontgodhealamputees.com). The website claims “this is one of the most important questions we can ask about God.” Sometime, somewhere I had heard the objection but had never given it much attention. Now it was staring me right in the face. Immediate attention was required.

I proceeded in usual fashion—by asking clarifying questions. “What conclusion does your atheist friend draw from this question?” I inquired. He responded, “Well, if God doesn’t heal amputees when we pray for them, then He doesn’t exist.” I followed with a few more questions, gathering the gist of the atheist’s argument.

The atheist claims that alleged healings, like the disappearance of a cancerous tumor or diagnosed disease, seem to be ambiguous. Did God supernaturally heal the person or is modern medicine responsible? Both causes could be offered and both could be disputed. But according to the atheist, if an amputee grew back a missing limb after intercessory prayer was offered on his behalf, this would be a clear case of the miraculous and thus proof for God’s existence. On the other hand, no new limb means no God. A fail-proof test, right? Wrong.


Basically, the atheist objection looks like this:
1. God doesn't heal amputees when prayed for.

2. If God Doesn't heal amputees when prayed for, then God doesn't exist.

3. Therefore, God doesn't exist.

Brett then explains why he takes issue with BOTH of these premises, first by explaining that the conclusion doesn't follow and is therefore a non-sequitur argument.


First, I pointed out this atheist’s argument is guilty of a logical fallacy called a non sequitur. The fallacy is committed when a conclusion or statement does not logically follow from a previous argument or statement. If amputees do not grow back limbs when we pray for them, does it follow God does not exist? Of course not. His existence is independent of what actions He would or would not take.

But why limit myself to amputee miracles? Any miracle will do. A million dollars in my bank account today. World peace starting tomorrow. And if these miracles don’t occur, then God doesn’t exist. Well, I think you can see the irrationality of such claims. God’s failure to perform a miracle at my request says nothing about His existence. In fact, even if we granted the atheist his assumption that amputees are not healed, at the very most we could only conclude God does not heal amputees. Not a profound conclusion.


So, the argument doesn't follow from the premises, because obviously just because God doesn't heal amputees when prayed for does not mean he doesn't exist. First of all, all that could possibly mean is that God has a sufficient moral reason for NOT healing the amputees, and then the argument loses all its force.

Brett then takes issue with the other premise:

Second, I pointed out his atheist friend simply assumed no amputees have been healed. But just because an atheist says there’s never been an amputee healing in thousands of years of human history doesn’t mean it’s true. Now, I’ve never researched this question but I wanted this young Christian to catch a healthy bit of skepticism, particularly when it comes to anti-Christian claims. Research is now in order but my point was you cannot simply assume what needs to be proven.

But we also have to test the intellectual honesty of the atheist asking this question. If we can produce a credible report of an amputee’s missing limb being healed and replaced, is the atheist willing to accept that evidence? There are credible reports of miraculous healings in our own time and in the Bible, but he dismisses these wanting further evidence of a particular kind of miracle. So is this an honest question or an insincere request for evidence when no evidence will suffice?


I think the essence of the atheist claim is that, if God doesn't heal amputees, then all miracles can be discounted. I'm not sure if that's true though. If there is sufficient evidence for any type of miracle, it simply must be accepted. Unless of course, you hold to naturalistic materialism. Then you get to ignore the evidence for free. :D

The next things Brett talks about are reasons why God would not answer prayers immediately and consistently:


Fourth, I reminded this young Christian that God does not promise He will answer every request with a “yes.” Many times he says “no” or “later.” And it could be there are some requests He says “no” to all the time. Might God have a morally sufficient reason for doing so? Absolutely, even if He never reveals those reasons to us in this lifetime. As a dad, there are things I do for the good of my kids—taking them to the doctor for shots, punishing them for wrong behavior, or forcing them to eat their vegetables—which they don’t understand right now. The same is true between God and us.

And this last response requires a bit of maturity to understand. Frankly, many atheistic arguments are childish. “If God doesn’t do what I ask right now, I don’t have to believe in him.” Well, I don’t think God is really interested in becoming a magic genie. He’s interested in something much deeper and more profound. He’s interested in the kind of human being you become. Indeed, Jesus suggests voluntary “amputeeism” for the sake of character development: “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:30). Better to lose a hand than have your moral choices drag you away from God, forever.


Again, check out the article here. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hard Questions: There are so many other religions, and according to all of them except my own, I'm wrong. This bothers me.

This is part of the Hard Questions series I'm starting on.

Something that suddenly hit me early on in my journey of faith was the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands of other religions that believe, just like I do, that everyone except for them is wrong. Many of them, in fact, believe I will be in Hell when I die.

This rocked my world, at first. In the information age, with internet able to transmit information from every culture, we no longer are secluded from even the strangest belief systems. With many cultures and their own beliefs running around on the internet, the Christian, (or a believer in any religion) will automatically start to question their own certainty that the belief they have grown up in is true.

Basically, it all comes down to your own uneasiness at the fact that you're so sure other religions are wrong and that your own is right, without having even investigated ANY religion's truth claims and evidence- not even your own!

Luckily, its mostly an emotional problem that is often taken way out of hand.


Let's look at the premises that underlie the assumptions your mind is making as you worry about this:

1. If there are hundreds of other religions that are adamant that they are the true religion and any others are wrong, then every religion must be wrong.

2. There are hundreds of other religions that are adamant that they are the true religion.

3. Therefore, the truth of every religion comes into question, which means they must all be wrong.



While the conclusion logically follows from the premises, there is a fundamental problem with the first one.

Just because there are many worldviews that make claims which directly contradict each other does not mean they are all wrong! I would agree that it does throwall their truth claims into question, but it certainly doesn't mean they are all wrong.


In light of the fact that there are many religions who disagree with each and all say that the other is wrong, we can come to one of three conclusions:
1. That they are all right.
2. That they are all wrong.
3. That only one of them is right, and the rest are wrong.


They are all right
Quite a few people will approach you with the claim that all religions are right and that everyone has their own path to God that they need to find. They claim that one religion should not claim that it has the truth and everyone else is wrong. There are some problems with that though.

First of all, this directly contradicts the law of non-contradiction. The Law of Non-Contradiction, in a nutshell, states that if you make two claims which are contradictory, for example: "I am in Florida, but I am also in Hawaii", then it is a nonsensical claim. For you simply cannot be in Hawaii and Florida at the same time, for the same reason I cannot have freckles and no freckles at the same time, it's not possible.
The Law of Non-Contradiction states that only one of these kinds of claims is possible- I can't lack freckles and have freckles at the same time, so only one of them must be true.

The same applies with all truth claims and propositional statements. If there is one religion which claims that God saves only by grace, and another which claims that we are saved only by works, then only one of them can be true. If one religion claims that we'll have 72 virgins in heaven and another claims that we will only savor the glory of Christ in heaven, then only one of the claims can be true.

This automatically eliminates the possibility of all or even a few religions being true at the same time. If you believe that there is an objective truth which changes no matter what anyone thinks about it (and all rational people do), then the idea of multiple religions being true should seem as irrational to you as me claiming that I am currently fully in Alaska, Australia, and California at the same time!

On top of that, think about this: When a person claims that all religions are legitimate paths to God and that it's arrogant to say that one is right over the other, they are making a huge mistake. First of all, what truth revelation did they receive that elevates them over the truth of all religions to confidently assert that they are all equal? In fact, they are making the most arrogant truth claim of all to know that all religions are equal paths to God! Yes, they have actually invented their own religion which is right above all the others! Should you trust their truth claim?
So, obviously, no matter which way you try to put it, you simply cannot say that all religions, or even a few religions which make a contradictory claim, are both right at the same time- 1. Because of the law of non-contradiction, and 2. Because you have no real knowledge of this and it is most likely an emotional assertion.

They are all wrong
Now, just because they aren't all right doesn't mean they are all wrong. If you've got multiple truth claims, at least one of them has to be right, and the rest have to be wrong. I will treat atheism as a positive claim here so as to include it in the group of worldviews.

Obviously, something has to be true. Or else, nothing would exist, so, there has to be some worldview out there that has to be true, if there is one objective truth at all. Some world-view out there must conform to reality. If atheism is true, then theism is not. If theism is true, then atheism is not. If God has revealed himself in Christ, then ALL other worldviews are wrong. But if there is no God, then ALL world views which posit that there is a God must be wrong. So, you can see from this, the fact that because something exists, something has to be true about that something. Either it leaped out of nothing, by nothing, or God created, not both, and not neither. Something has to be true.
So, no matter how many claims of worldviews you've got out there, one of them has to be true. Not both, and not none of them, but one.


One Worldview is true
So, you're left with the most rational answer. Only one worldview can be true. That means that, despite the fact that there are many religions that all say that I am going to hell, only one of them can be true, based on the fundamental laws of logic. This leaves it all down to deciding which view best corresponds with reality.
Obviously, if the claims that one religion makes have no evidence and do not correspond with reality, it must not be true. But, if a worldview has evidence, a lot of it at that, then it is likely that it is true.

I was talking to my friend earlier and he made a great objection to this. He asked if it was possible that the truth about the world existed but we hadn't discovered it. What if the true worldview is yet undiscovered? What if EVERY existing worldview is wrong? Here's my response:

You've said that it's possible that all worldviews existing today are all wrong, because there is a possibility that another worldview is right, that we don't know about yet, and all those existing today are possibly wrong.

I object to this possibility, for this reason- If there is a worldview that exists and which is true, yet which we don't know about, it isn't important and is highly unlikely. Before you get uncomfortable with that conclusion, let me explain. To start out, I believe that we KNOW about 2 main divisive worldviews (under which there are many categories)- Naturalism and Super naturalism. If Naturalism is true, then Super naturalism isn't, there is no God, and atheism is the true worldview. If Super naturalism is true, then there is a form of deity(s) and God(s) exists. Let us assume now, for the sake of the argument, that atheism is not true, because I believe it has been falsified over and over and over again. (Note that it is a worldview that we KNOW about, and that we're assuming it's been falsified, and I believe it has) If Atheism isn't true, then God exists. Now, if God exists, there are two different types of Gods we can choose- a God who has revealed himself to man-kind and is actively involved, or a deistic God. (A God who started the universe, but is totally uninvolved and uninterested in humanity or earth or anything.) I also believe that Deism is falsified because there is direct empirical evidence that God is involved and active with humanity (Miracles and healing) (If you want to see just a very shallow covering of some of the things happening around the world, check this out.) (Evidential Near Death Experiences) - Empirical proof that people see and observe things while clinically dead (EEG = Flat lined) that they could not possibly have seen while dead (stuff in different rooms, outside the building, miles away, etc. hundreds and hundreds of cases) All atheists can say about those are "They were'nt actually dead!" haha. but that doesn't account for the observed evidence. Also, fulfilled prophecy in the Old Testament and New Testament. (http://www.lastseminary.com/argument-from-prophecy/newmanrobertcap1.pdf).

So, if you have ANY good evidence that Atheism is not true, and that Deism is not true, then you end up with a God who's personally involved with humans. If God is personally involved with humans, then he has revealed himself before and it is knowable by humanity. Why in the world would God, especially if there is evidence that human consciousness continues after death, not reveal himself to humans early on? If there is evidence that God exists and that he's acting around humanity, then it simply means that he must have revealed himself to humanity early on, because it would make no sense if he didn't provide a way for humans to know what's going to happen to them after death.

Another thing I would say is this- if God is actively involved with humanity, then the cogent evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ would make God a liar. The historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection can only be NOT believed because of theological reasons (ie: methodological naturalism, Muslim theology (which disbelieves the most well attested fact in history: Jesus' death on the Cross), , other religions..) The only reason you can ignore Jesus' resurrection evidence is if you find some way to ignore historical evidence. I firmly believe that the only way the historical facts surrounding the resurrection can be explained is with the resurrection. Why would God allow such a hugely convincing case for the resurrection of the Jesus Christ (plus the amazing amounts of fulfilled prophecy towards it happening) if God hadn't revealed himself in Christ? It would make him a liar!

So I would come to this conclusion based on these premises:
1. The only two types of worldviews are super naturalism and naturalism
2. Either Naturalism is true, or super naturalism is true.
3. Naturalism is false.
4. If Naturalism is false, then God exists.
5. If there is evidence that God is active with humanity, then it is highly probable that he has revealed himself in an existing worldview
6. If God has not revealed himself, yet is still doing things in the world today, then the cogent evidences for Christianity make God a liar.
7. Therefore, it is highly plausible that God has already revealed himself to humanity.



Most people today would admit that the only credible religions that have large amounts of evidence are those of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Atheism is considered as a world view, but if you have read the rest of my blog and consider atheism something that is untrue, I'll save the efforts of falsifying atheism for my other writings on here!

Note: As a reassurance, Christianity is unique among ALL religions, because the believer has had his sins atoned for by God himself. Only in Christianity is the believer saved by grace alone. Only in Christianity has God come to save his people. In other religions, the believer is solely saved by works. I believe salvation by works is irrational, because works to attain perfection and to cancel the debt between the believer and God are impossible, and therefore a religion which is based on works is, to me, illogical.

Judaism is based on a messiah, and this is why it is a logical religion, but Christianity is the religion which is based off of Judaism, claiming that the Jewish messiah was Jesus. The Case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, coupled with prophecy, the unexpected claim of the resurrection in Jewish first century society, etc. has been rendered near inescapable to one who follows evidence where it leads.

So, now knowing that you can have the relief of being sure that the worldview with the most and best evidence, which offers the best explanatory power is most likely the right one, go and check out the truth claims of Christianity. You'll find indeed that there is more evidence for Christianity than any other world view.

There is one more question that we must deal with. Why would God allow all of these extra religions?? Why does he allow all of these lies on earth? This is something that has bothered me until I did some thinking about it!

First of all, there are warnings about this in scripture (about how false prophets will come), so we need not think it was something that biblical Christianity did not predict. In fact, there are many cases where Jesus and the apostles claim that there will be more and more philosophy, false prophets, and lies going around as the world ages and approaches end times.

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather."


2 Tim 4:3 "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matt.24:24


So, as you can see, Jesus is pretty aware of the fact that there are going to be liars and false religions in later times. But WHY?

First of all, I would attribute this to free will. Humans can lie if they want, create new religions, truth claims, etc. all they want, and God gives us free will to reject Him.

Second, I actually think this is a means of grace. Because I am a Calvinist, I think God calls all people by his own power and sovereignty. That means he can work in people's hearts even when there's lies all over the place. It's happened tons of times. Because of Jesus' claims like, "f I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.", I think that God allows lies on the earth in order to lessen the eternal pain of separation from him. Even though all people go to Hell out of their own volition and sin, the punishment for such, I believe, will be less if a person did not know about the Gospel and didn't have a chance to believe.

I'm not sure what perspective this is from, but Philosopher Michael Murray has done a great job on explaining the hiddeness of God, and his work also has some great points about personal compulsion and free will concerning God's revelation here.


But, as to the other reasoning, you can be very assured that the presence of many other religions that say you are wrong does not mean that you are wrong, just as the fact that there are many people who don't believe that gravity is true wouldn't mean what you believe about gravity is false. It just means that somebody is wrong, and it takes investigation of the evidence to find the truth concerned.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life is hard

Please pray for my mom, and our family. Our grandmother has passed away after a long and hard fight with old age/ the effects of a stroke. Also, if i may insert a selfish request.. please pray for me, because I'm battling some depression due to this emotional doubt that plagues me constantly recently. It'll be gotten over soon.. just right now it hurts.
blessings to everyone who reads
Evan

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lotsa Books

Here's a list of books that I find to be awesome. (In no particular order) I'll also list ones I've heard a lot about and I want to read them soon- I shall put a * by them.

Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
Wild at Heart - John Eldridge
Has Science Buried God? - John Lennox
The Reason for God - Timothy Keller
The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
Why I Became an Atheist- John Loftus
The Forgotten God - Francis Chan
Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper
When I Don't Desire God - John Piper*
The Dawkins Letters - David Robertson*
The Resurrection of the Son of God - N.T. Wright*
The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith - Lee Strobel
Who's afraid of the Multi-verse? - Jeff Zweerink*
Revolution in World Missions- K.P. Yohannan
Reasonable Faith - William Lane Craig
Contending with Christianity's Critics - William Lane Craig
Who Moved the Stone -Frank Morison*

Atheism

I want to defend atheists for a short while. No, don't worry, I have not become an atheist, but, in fact am very strengthened in my Christian convictions, but I simply have to call Christians out on this.

I have grown up being told by people at my school/etc. that atheists are evil, crazy, lunatics that outright suppress the truth because of their rebellion against God- even that they know God exists, but they hate him. While I believe there may be some atheists who really are like that, I think that is more of a human condition than an atheist condition. I want to defend atheists because I think they deserve more respect than some Christians give them. Sure, it may be absolutely obvious to us that there is a God, but does that mean its obvious to everyone? My mom and I were talking about this earlier, and we both agree that, for some people it is obvious that there is a God, and for others it is a matter that is actually a question to them. Whether it is a heart condition that is suppressive of the truth, I can not
know.

I just want to say, that atheists are rational, nice, and very often awesome people, and good people at that. If they are in a moral/psychological/volitional rebellion against God, that's not our business to make fun of until it "changes".

That being said, I don't think atheism is the correct belief, but, I must also remember, atheists don't think theism is the correct belief. I suppose we all just need to remember to love.
My rant's over :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Moral Relativity.. eh?

A great story.. gotta love it. (credit goes to Tawa Anderson for the idea of posting this part of I don't Have Enougn Faith to be an Atheist)

A professor … assigned a term paper to his students. He told the students to write on any ethical topic of their choice, requiring each student only to properly back up his or her thesis with reasons and documentation.
One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of moral relativism. He argued, “All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness; it’s all a matter of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla,” and so on. His paper provided both his reasons and his documentation. It was the right length, on time, and stylishly presented in a handsome blue folder.

After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the front cover, “F – I don’t like blue folders!” When the student got the paper back he was enraged. He stormed into the professor’s office and protested, “F! I don’t like blue folders!?!? That’s not fair! That’s not right! That’s not just! You didn’t grade the paper on its merits!”

Raising his hand to quiet the bombastic student, the professor calmly retorted, “Wait a minute. Hold on. I read a lot of papers. Let me see … wasn’t your paper the one that said there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice?”

“Yes,” the student answered.

“Then what’s this you say about me not being fair, right, and just?” the professor asked. “Didn’t your paper argue that it’s all a matter of taste? You like chocolate, I like vanilla?”

The student replied, “Yes, that’s my view.”

“Fine then,” the professor responded. “I don’t like blue. You get an F!”

Suddenly the lightbulb went on in the student’s head. He realized he really did believe in moral absolutes. He at least believed in justice. After all, he was charging his professor with injustice for giving him an F simply because of the color of the folder. That simple fact defeated his entire case for relativism. (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist, 173-4)

Lighthouse Collective

The most awesome sermons for teenagers, period. This guy is a great youth pastor and he had me hooked after the first podcast. The things he talks about are relevant to all the walks of life that teenagers go through. Everyone should listen to all of these! Lighthouse Sermons