Reasonable Faith

Adopting the multiverse hypothesis to explain our ordered observations would thus result once more in a strange sort of illusionism.

As the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre observed, several hours or several years make no difference once you have lost eternity.

Certainty is an unrealistic and unattainable ideal.

We need to have pastors who are schooled in apologetics and engaged intellectually with our culture so as to shepherd their flock amidst the wolves.

People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one’s faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, and of the stability brought to one’s life by the conviction that one’s faith is objectively true.

God could not possibly have intended that reason should be the faculty to lead us to faith, for faith cannot hang indefinitely in suspense while reason cautiously weighs and reweighs arguments. The Scriptures teach, on the contrary, that the way to God is by means of the heart, not by means of the intellect.

When a person refuses to come to Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. unbelief is at root a spiritual, not an intellectual, problem. Sometimes an unbeliever will throw up an intellectual smoke screen so that he can avoid personal, existential involvement with the gospel. In such a case, further argumentation may be futile and counterproductive, and we need to be sensitive to moments when apologetics is and is not appropriate.

A person who knows that Christianity is true on the basis of the witness of the Spirit may also have a sound apologetic which reinforces or confirms for him the Spirit’s witness, but it does not serve as the basis of his belief.

As long as reason is a minister of the Christian faith, Christians should employ it.

It should not surprise us if most people find our apologetic unconvincing. But that does not mean that our apologetic is ineffective; it may only mean that many people are closed-minded.

Without a divine lawgiver, there can be no objective right and wrong, only our culturally and personally relative, subjective judgments. This means that it is impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, and love as good. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist—there is only the bare valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say that you are right and I am wrong.

No atheist or agnostic really lives consistently with his worldview. In some way he affirms meaning, value, or purpose without an adequate basis. It is our job to discover those areas and lovingly show him where those beliefs are groundless.

We are witnesses to a mighty struggle for the mind and soul of America in our day, and Christians cannot be indifferent to it.

If moral values are gradually discovered, not invented, then our gradual and fallible apprehension of the moral realm no more undermines the objective reality of that realm than our gradual, fallible apprehension of the physical world undermines the objectivity of that realm.

God has given evidence sufficiently clear for those with an open heart, but sufficiently vague so as not to compel those whose hearts are closed.

Because of the need for instruction and personal devotion, these writings must have been copied many times, which increases the chances of preserving the original text. In fact, no other ancient work is available in so many copies and languages, and yet all these various versions agree in content. The text has also remained unmarred by heretical additions. The abundance of manuscripts over a wide geographical distribution demonstrates that the text has been transmitted with only trifling discrepancies.

Even though we may not like it, concludes Davies, we must say on the basis of the thermodynamic properties of the universe that the universe’s energy was somehow simply “put in” at the creation as an initial condition.118 Prior to the creation, says Davies, the universe simply did not exist.

(Gal. 5:22–23). When this relationship is intact, the product in our lives will be righteousness (Rom. 6:16), and the by-product of righteousness is happiness. Happiness is an elusive thing and will never be found when pursued directly; but it springs into being as one pursues the knowledge of God and as his righteousness is realized in us.

?"If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed. Like prisoners condemned to death, we await our unavoidable execution. There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.

it is difficult to see why the Resurrection Hypothesis is extraordinarily ad hoc. It seems to require only one new supposition: that God exists.

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.

J. Gresham Machen solemnly warned, False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the Gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.1

Left to himself, natural man would never come to God.

Man’s condition ought to impel him to seek to discover whether there is a God and a solution to his predicament. But people occupy their time and their thoughts with trivialities and distractions, so as to avoid the despair, boredom, and anxiety that would inevitably result if those diversions were removed.

One of the last holdouts, Hawking finally came to agree that quantum theory requires that information is preserved in black hole formation and evaporation. The implications? “There is no baby universe branching off, as I once thought. The information remains firmly in our universe. I’m sorry to disappoint science fiction fans, but if information is preserved, there is no possibility of using black holes to travel to other universes.

Popper says that the best way out of the problem of having unconscious points of view is to state clearly one’s view and to recognize that there are also other points of view.

The Gospels were written in such temporal and geographical proximity to the events they record that it would have been almost impossible to fabricate events. Anyone who cared to could have checked out the accuracy of what they reported. The fact that the disciples were able to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem in the face of their enemies a few weeks after the crucifixion shows that what they proclaimed was true, for they could never have proclaimed the resurrection under such circumstances had it not occurred.

The Gospels could not have been corrupted without a great outcry on the part of orthodox Christians. Against the idea that there could have been a deliberate falsifying of the text, no one could have corrupted all the manuscripts. Moreover, there is no precise time when the falsification could have occurred, since, as we have seen, the New Testament books are cited by the church fathers in regular and close succession. The text could not have been falsified before all external testimony, since then the apostles were still alive and could repudiate any such tampering with the Gospels.

The miracles of Jesus were witnessed by hundreds of people, friends and enemies alike; that the apostles had the ability to testify accurately to what they saw; that the apostles were of such doubtless honesty and sincerity as to place them above suspicion of fraud; that the apostles, though of low estate, nevertheless had comfort and life itself to lose in proclaiming the gospel; and that the events to which they testified took place in the civilized part of the world under the Roman Empire, in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish nation. Thus, there is no reason to doubt the apostles’ testimony concerning the miracles and resurrection of Jesus. It would have been impossible for so many to conspire together to perpetrate such a hoax. And what was there to gain by lying? They could expect neither honor, nor wealth, nor worldly profit, nor fame, nor even the successful propagation of their doctrine. Moreover, they had been raised in a religion that was vastly different from the one they preached. Especially foreign to them was the idea of the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah. This militates against their concocting this idea. The Jewish laws against deceit and false testimony were very severe, which fact would act as a deterrent to fraud.

Suppose that no resurrection or miracles occurred: how then could a dozen men, poor, coarse, and apprehensive, turn the world upside down? If Jesus did not rise from the dead, declares Ditton, then either we must believe that a small, unlearned band of deceivers overcame the powers of the world and preached an incredible doctrine over the face of the whole earth, which in turn received this fiction as the sacred truth of God; or else, if they were not deceivers, but enthusiasts, we must believe that these extremists, carried along by the impetus of extravagant fancy, managed to spread a falsity that not only common folk, but statesmen and philosophers as well, embraced as the sober truth. Because such a scenario is simply unbelievable, the message of the apostles, which gave birth to Christianity, must be true.

Belief in Jesus’ resurrection flourished in the very city where Jesus had been publicly crucified. If the people of Jerusalem thought that Jesus’ body was in the tomb, few would have been prepared to believe such nonsense as that Jesus had been raised from the dead. And, even if they had so believed, the Jewish authorities would have exposed the whole affair simply by pointing to Jesus’ tomb or perhaps even exhuming the body as decisive proof that Jesus had not been raised.

Three great, independently established facts—the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith—all point to the same marvelous conclusion: that God raised Jesus from the dead.

The origin of the Christian faith is therefore inexplicable unless Jesus really rose from the dead.

The United States is following at some distance down this same road, with Canada somewhere in between. If the situation is not to degenerate further, it is imperative that we shape the intellectual climate of our nation in such a way that Christianity remains a live option for thinking men and women.

Thomas’s procedure, then, may be summarized in three steps: (1) Fulfilled prophecies and miracles make it credible that the Scriptures taken together as a whole are a revelation from God. (2) As a revelation from God, Scripture is absolutely authoritative. (3) Therefore, those doctrines taught by Scripture that are neither demonstrably provable nor empirically evident may be accepted by faith on the authority of Scripture.

Thus, although arguments and evidence may be used to support the believer’s faith, they are never properly the basis of that faith.

We can formulate Plantinga’s version of the ontological argument as follows: 1) It is possible that a maximally great being exists. 2) If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world. 3) If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world. 4) If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world. 5) If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists. 6) Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

We have seen that multiple lines of historical evidence indicate that Jesus’ tomb was found empty on Sunday morning by a group of his women followers. Furthermore, no convincing natural explanation is available to account for this fact. This alone might prompt us to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation.

Well, then, what explanation of the empty tomb do modern critics offer who deny the resurrection?” The fact is that they are self-confessedly without any explanation to offer.