Saturday, September 11, 2021

Evilution of ABCs: The GayBCs!

             When evolution is plain evil it is evilution!

            ABCs are going through an evilution! There is now an evil competitor to the traditional words associated with alphabets: ‘A for Apple,’ ‘B for Boy,’ ‘C for Cat,’ ‘D for Dog’ etc.

            The left has unveiled the GayBCs, the LGBTQ version of the words associated with alphabets. The LGBTQ community is now indoctrinating young children with the LGBTQ terminology.

            A book entitled “The GayBCs” is leading this evilution. ‘A for Ally,’ ‘C for Comin Out,’ ‘D for Drag,’ ‘G for Gay,’ ‘L for Lesbian,’ ‘O for Orientation,’ and ‘Q for Queer’ the list goes on.

            Young children will be in great peril, for they will be indoctrinated with evil at a very young age.

            How should we Christians respond?

            The progressive Christian community will be elated at this development. Ignore them, but pray for them.

            Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity should teach the truth from the Bible to our children. Children should be taught by their parents and the churches.

            This is our bounden duty.

            Our children should not only know the truth, but should also know how to defend the truth.

            Let's hope and pray Christian parents and churches recognize the perilous times we live in and act accordingly to protect our children. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Pro-life Response To The Violinist Argument (To Abort Or Not)

             Just as a brick isn’t a house, so too the single-cell human embryo isn’t a human being, so just as it’s no big deal to get rid of a brick, it’s no big deal to destroy the human embryo; so said Canada’s leading abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler. The flaw in this pro-choice argument is that the brick does not grow into a whole house whereas the single-cell embryo grows into a fully functional human being. If there was a brick that had the potential to grow into a whole house, then no sane human will destroy that brick! This was the response by Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen in his book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments. 1

            The moral of this pro-choice argument is that it exposes the depravity of even the most intelligent who propose devious and ludicrous arguments to promote their malicious cause. But to be fair (to the detractors of Historic Christianity) that’s not always the case.

            The Violinist Argument - a thought experiment - is a compelling argument for abortion because it concedes the fact that the embryo is a fully human person. Greg Koukl cites the violinist argument proposed by Judith Jarvis Thompson:2

I propose, then, that we grant that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. How does the argument go from here? Something like this, I take it. Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body; everyone would grant that. But surely a person’s right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body, and so outweighs it. So the fetus may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed.

It sounds plausible. But now let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you—we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.”

Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says, “Tough luck, I agree, but you’ve now got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person’s right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him.” I imagine you would regard this as outrageous,2 which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago.

            In a nutshell, the Violinist argument permits the kidnapped person to unplug from the violinist, even if the unplug would result in the death of the famous violinist. This permission is then extended to the pregnant mother who can choose to abort her unborn child. This, according to the violinist argument, is morally permissible.

            What are the native fallacies in the violinist argument?

            Greg Koukl offers three important differences between pregnancy and kidnapping:3

(1) The violinist is artificially attached to the kidnapped person, whereas the unborn baby is not surgically connected to the mother. Pregnancy is a natural phenomenon in human beings.

(2) Unplugging from the violinist is different from abortion. Unplugging involves the withdrawal of the treatment whereas the instance of an abortion is a homicidal act against the unborn. Abortion is not merely a withdrawal of treatment to the unborn; it is an act of killing a human person.

(3) The relationship between the mother and the child is significantly different from that of two strangers in the violinist argument, one of which was kidnapped! Parents have special obligations to their children. So the mother is obligated to care for and protect her unborn.

            To conclude, the violinist argument, although seemingly compelling, is riddled with fallacies. Hence the violinist argument cannot reasonably defend the pro-choice position.

Endnotes:

1https://seanmcdowell.org/blog/untangling-pro-choice-arguments-author-interview

2https://www.str.org/w/unstringing-the-violinist

3Ibid.

Read the article entitled “Suffer the Violinist: Why the Pro-abortion Argument from Bodily Autonomy Fails” if in case you desire to dig deeper. (https://www.equip.org/article/suffer-the-violinist-why-the-pro-abortion-argument-from-bodily-autonomy-fails/)

Websites last accessed on 6th September 2021.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Is Science The Only Way To Know Truth? (Can Science Validate Christianity?)

 

            Mankind should always be grateful to science for its incredible foray into the multivarious facets of life. However, a claim that surfaces during religious discussions assert that science is the only way to know the truth.

            Scientism posits science as the only source of human knowledge.  

            So, is science the only way to know the truth? Can science validate Christianity?

            The answer is a definite ‘No.’ Here’s why...

            First, the truth claim that science is the only way to know the truth is self-refuting because this very claim cannot be validated by science.

            Second, science has its limits. Science writer and public speaker, Dr. Alex Berezow posits the limitation of science, “Science has nothing to say about ethics. If we were to follow science exactly as prescribed, we do things like eugenics. Science has nothing really to say about how we should treat other people. I am a religious person. I am a Christian. Science is the best secular source of knowledge that we have. If I want to know how humans evolved, I don’t go to the Bible, I go to science. But if I want to know why we are here and what we are supposed to do, then I go to religious texts, then I go to my priests. I think there are two non-overlapping magisteria—science, which is secular, and religion, which talks about the bigger questions: the whys, the questions kids ask, which are the hardest ones to answer.”1

            Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity lists the many things that we know without the benefit of science:2

            1. Logical and Mathematical truths

            2. Metaphysical truths

            3. Moral and Ethical truths

            4. Aesthetic truths

            5. Historical truths

            Last but not the least, if science cannot validate religion, are they both mutually exclusive? Or is there a definite relationship between science and religion?

            It may not be appropriate to endorse the idea that science and religion reign over separate conceptual kingdoms – separate “magisteria.” The magisteria of science covers ‘empirical facts,’ whereas the magisteria of religion extends over the search for the spiritual meaning of our lives. These, according to Stephen J. Gould, are nonoverlapping. This is the principle of Non Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA).

            William Lane Craig explains how science and religion can mutually and fruitfully interact. This is the summary of his thesis:3

1. Religion furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish.

2. Science can both falsify and verify claims of religion.

3. Science encounters metaphysical problems which religion can help to solve.

4. Religion can help to adjudicate between scientific theories.

5. Religion can augment the explanatory power of science.

6. Science can establish a premiss in an argument for a conclusion having religious significance.

Endnotes:

1https://bigthink.com/design-for-good/on-journalists-junk-science-and-why-science-cant-discover-all-truth

2https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/the-dangers-of-scientism-and-an-over-reliance-on-science/

3https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/science-theology/what-is-the-relation-between-science-and-religion/

Websites last accessed on 23rd August 2021. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Why The Problem Of Evil Does Not Disprove Historic Christianity? (Understanding The Felix Culpa Theodicy) – Part 3

 

            Christian theologians and Christian philosophers have offered sufficient, reasonable, and philosophically sophisticated rebuttals to the problem of evil i.e. rebuttals to why God allows evil, pain, and suffering. Defense and theodicies constitute these rebuttals. One such theodicy is the Felix Culpa theodicy.

            Felix Culpa (O Happy Fault or Oh Blessed Sin) is a Latin expression used by the pre-medieval theologian Augustine when he said, “O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.” This he said in the context of man’s fall and the original sin.

            Two terms should be primarily defined in this context: Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism. These terms are associated with God’s decrees of the fall of man and the salvation plan of the Cross.

            To state more precisely, which of these decrees preceded the other? Did God decree the fall of man logically prior to the salvation plan?

            Supralapsarians claim that God decreed the salvation plan logically prior to the fall. Infralapsarians argue that the fall was logically prior to the salvation plan. (Felix Culpa theodicy is a derivative of Supralapsarianism.) This is an ongoing debate between the Supras and the Infras in the Christian community.

            Although Infralapsarians assert that the fall was logically prior to the salvation plan, this cannot be construed as God being ignorant of the fall or as a lapse in God’s knowledge.

            William Lane Craig’s explanation about infra and supra is a must-read, “The question is – does God decree the cross in order to rectify the fall, or does he decree the fall in order to bring about the cross? Which one is logically prior? Normally, I think most of us would think that the reason God decrees the cross is to solve this problem. God knows from the moment he creates human beings – he knows they will fall into sin – so he has predestined before the foundations of the world that he will send his Son to die to rectify that problem. That is Infralapsarianism. Supralapsarianism is different. It says God, in the council halls of eternity, says The greatest good that I could bring about would be sending my Son to die for humanity and redeeming this people for myself through Him. The cross is such a great good that this is my first desire. How am I going to bring about the cross? I need to have them fall. Otherwise I don’t have anything to redeem them from. Having decided to do the cross, he now decrees the fall in that light. You see the difference? It is just a different logical order. But both of the views affirm that God always foreknows what will happen. It is just a matter of which one has priority in his motivations.”1

            The Incarnation & The Atonement Are The Greatest Goods: Alvin Plantinga, while postulating the theodicy of Felix Culpa, asserts that the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ and HIS Atoning death (Atonement) on the Cross as the greatest goods, by far. He adds that the Incarnation and the Atonement as tremendous goods, better than any combination of other goods or any combination of evils (horrendous evils included).2

            Plantinga then postulates the Value Hypothesis about goodness, which states that every possible way that things could have been that includes Incarnation and Atonement is better than any possible way things could have been without Incarnation and Atonement.

            Fall Of Man Is A Necessary Condition: Now imagine this scenario. God’s desire is to create a magnificent world. But, given the value hypothesis, that level of value is achieved only when Incarnation and Atonement are present in the world. For incarnation and atonement to be present, the fall of man is a necessary condition (cf. Supralapsarianism).

            Plantinga writes[Emphasis Mine]:3

I believe that any world with incarnation and atonement is a better world than any without it--or at any rate better than any world in which God does nothing comparable to incarnation and atonement...So consider the splendid and gracious marvel of incarnation and atonement. I believe that the great goodness of this state of affairs, like that of the divine existence itself, makes its value incommensurable with the value of states of affairs involving creaturely good and bad. Thus the value of incarnation and atonement cannot be matched by any aggregate of creaturely goods. No matter how many excellent creatures there are in a world, no matter how rich and beautiful and sinless their lives, the aggregated value of their lives would not match that of incarnation and atonement; any world with incarnation and atonement would be better yet. And no matter how much evil, how much sin and suffering a world contains, the aggregated badness would be outweighed by the goodness of incarnation and atonement, outweighed in such a way that the world in question is very good. In this sense, therefore, any world with incarnation and atonement is of infinite value by virtue of containing two goods of infinite value: the existence of God and incarnation and atonement...

            When human beings sin, there would be evil and suffering. Moreover, only if human beings sin would there be a need for incarnation and atonement.

            God Created Our World With The Incarnation & The Atonement: So Plantinga concludes one very good reason for God to allow evil to exist is to create a world with incarnation and atonement, which are the greatest goods even better than any combination of evil. This then entails the necessity of sin whose natural and logical corollary is evil.   

            Supralapsarians Win: This theodicy also paves way for the Supralapsarians to win the battle against the Infralapsarians. The Felix Culpa theodicy necessitates God’s decree of the Incarnation and the Atonement to be logically prior to God’s decree of the fall of man. It is only by virtue of the incarnation and the atonement that the fall of man was necessitated. Plantinga writes:4

And as a bonus, we get a clear resolution of the supra/infra debate: the Supras are right. God's fundamental and first intention is to actualize an extremely good possible world, one whose value exceeds; but all those worlds contain Incarnation and Atonement and hence also sin and evil; so the decree to provide incarnation and atonement and hence salvation is prior to the decree to permit fall into sin. The priority in question isn't temporal, and isn't exactly logical either; it is a matter, rather, of ultimate aim as opposed to proximate aim. God's ultimate aim, here, is to create a world of a certain level of value. That aim requires that he aim to create a world in which there is Incarnation and Atonement--which, in turn, requires that there be sin and evil. So there is a clear sense in which the decree to provide salvation precedes the decree to permit sin; but there is no comparable sense in which the decree to permit sin precedes the decree to permit evil.

      Coming back to the Felix Culpa theodicy, Plantinga evaluates his theodicy against common objections such as: (1) Why God permits so much evil, and why God permits suffering? (2) Why is there so much sin and suffering? (3) God’s actualization of a world with incarnation and atonement requires suffering and evil on the part of HIS creatures, and a good deal of innocent suffering and evil (cosmic Munchausen-by-Proxy syndrome); is this fair and right?

     Answers to these objections are outside the scope of this article. However, if you are interested in learning more, then please read Plantinga’s answer to these objections in his article cited in the endnotes.5

Endnotes:

1https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-the-doctrine-of-man/the-doctrine-of-man-part-8/

2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le4C8QuUsMs&ab_channel=CenterforPhilosophyofReligion

3https://andrewmbailey.com/ap/FelixCulpa.pdf

4Ibid.

5Ibid.

Websites last accessed on 14th August 2021. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Why The Problem Of Evil Does Not Disprove Historic Christianity? (Understanding the Evidential Problem Of Evil) – Part 2

             My previous blog addressed the logical problem of evil. This blog will focus on the probabilistic or the evidential problem of evil.

            The logical problem of evil claims it is logically impossible for God and evil to coexist. Whereas the probabilistic or the evidential problem of evil argues it is highly unlikely or improbable that God exists, given the abundance of evil in our world.

            Professor Greg Ganssle expounds on the evidential problem of evil, “Even though it is possible that God has a reason to allow the evils we find in the world, it does not seem likely that there are good reasons for some of the evils we see. We cannot prove that there is no good reason, but if we have lots of cases in which it seems as though there is none, we will conclude that there probably is no good reason to allow these evils. If it is true that probably there is no good reason to allow these cases of evil, then it is probable that God does not exist. This argument is called the “evidential argument” because we cannot prove that there is no good reason to allow the particular evils we are thinking about. These evils do, then, look like good evidence that God does not exist.”1

            He further emphasizes that the premise “there probably is no good reason to allow these evils” is dubious and can be debunked.

            Is it even reasonable for man, who is so limited in his epistemic ability (his finiteness) and who is prone to error (fallible), to grasp the metaphysical nature of God and HIS reasons to allow evil?

            So the atheologian’s assertion that we should know the reason for the existence of evil is not reasonable. Greg Ganssle offers two reasons:

            (1) Since God has given free will to man, he is prone to evil.

            (2) A finite and a fallible man cannot expect to know every reason that God may have to allow evil.

            Ganssle states, “There are two reasons we can’t always make this claim. First, we can figure out reasons that God might have for many (perhaps most) of the evils in the world. For example, both human freedom and a stable, cause-effect universe are necessary for any meaningful action. Meaningful action, then, may be a reason that God allows various kinds of evil. Second, it is reasonable to think that God will have reasons that we cannot grasp for allowing evils in our lives. In fact, to think that we should be able to figure out God’s reasons for allowing every case of evil implies that we think God is not much smarter than we are. If God is the almighty creator of the universe, there will be evil the reason for which we cannot discern. This is exactly what we should expect if there is a God. It cannot be counted as evidence against God.”2

            William Lane Craig, in his response to the evidential problem of evil, posits doctrines in the Christian faith that increases the probability of the coexistence between God and evil. These are the four doctrines:3

            A. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.

            B. Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.

            C. The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18).

            4. The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

            Therefore, human freedom, the finiteness and the fallibility of man, and the four doctrines of the Christian faith offers a reasonable first line of defense against the evidential problem of evil.

Endnotes:

1http://northsidebaptistlakeland.com/home/180006826/180006826/Images/Problem%20of%20evil.pdf

2Ibid.

3https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/the-problem-of-evil/

Websites last accessed on 10th August 2021. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Why The Problem Of Evil Does Not Disprove Historic Christianity? (Understanding the Logical Problem Of Evil) – Part 1

 

            The Problem of Evil is a legitimate obstacle to belief in any theistic religion because it posits the nonexistence of God. So, theistic beliefs should present either a Theodicy (explanation as to why God is justified in allowing evil) or a Defense (stating the probable existence of God-justifying reasons) against the problem of evil.

            Historic Christianity presents, arguably, the most plausible theodicies and defenses against the problem of evil. Dr. William Lane Craig asserts that “Christian theism is man’s last best hope of solving the problem of evil.”1

            Significantly, the problem of evil proves God’s existence. As Ravi Zacharias said, If there is ‘evil,’ then one should assume there’s ‘good.’ When ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are assumed then we should also assume there is a ‘moral law’ based on which we differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ If we assume a ‘moral law,’ then there must be a ‘moral law giver.’ But that’s who the atheologians are trying to disprove!

            So if there is no objective ‘moral law giver,’ then there is no objective ‘moral law.’ If there’s no ‘moral law,’ there is no ‘good.’ If there is no ‘good,’ there is no ‘evil.’ Hence, the problem of evil self-destructs.

            Notwithstanding this argument, we should also consider the intellectual problem of evil. There are two versions:

            1. The Logical Problem of Evil or The Deductive Problem of Evil.

The atheologian argues that is not logical for the coexistence of evil and a loving, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God. Apparently, God and evil are logically incompatible.

            2. The Probabilistic Problem of Evil or the Evidential Problem of Evil.

The atheologian concedes it is logically possible for God and evil to coexist. Nevertheless, he argues that it is highly improbable or unlikely for God’s existence given the abundance of evil and suffering.

Response to the Logical Problem of Evil:

            Before a Christian responds to the atheologian’s claim that it’s logically impossible for God and evil to coexist, it is the atheologian who ought to bear the burden of proof i.e. the atheologian has to prove that it is logically impossible for God and evil to coexist.

            Now, to the Christian response: All that needs to be established here is a possibility of morally sufficient reason(s) for God to permit evil. If there are morally sufficient reasons (or even if there is one morally sufficient reason) for the coexistence of God and evil, then it is logically possible for God and evil to coexist.

            There is a hidden assumption in the argument of the atheologian. He assumes that God, who is all-loving and all-powerful, should be able to create a world without evil and suffering. But is this argument necessarily true? This is the question a Christian must ask.

            Is the atheologian asking God to do the logically impossible? Is the atheologian’s claim that God should be able to create a world without suffering similar to asking if God can create a rock so heavy that HE cannot lift it?  

            Alvin Plantinga, a highly distinguished Christian philosopher, offers a ‘Free Will Defense.’ He claims that if God creates man with free will, then it is incumbent upon God to allow man to make free choices. As William Lane Craig explains, “So if God grants to people genuine freedom to choose as they like, it is impossible for God to guarantee what their choices will be. He can simply create the circumstances in which he places the person with free will and then, so to speak, stand back and let the person make that free choice... Thus, it is possible that there is no world of free creatures which is feasible to God which is a sinless world. It is possible that in every world of free creatures that God could create that someone in that world would go wrong and would freely sin and introduce evil into that world”2

            Hence, it is clear that the atheologian is asking God to do the logically impossible. But God will not do the logically impossible, so God cannot/will not create a world with free creatures and at the same time prevent them from exercising their freedom to do evil.  

            William Lane Craig further explains Alvin Plantinga’s free will defense with respect to natural evils (earthquakes, tsunami, landslides, etc.) He posits evil spirits or demons as the cause of natural evils, “Demons have free will just as human beings do, and it might be the case that God could not preclude these natural disasters without taking away the free will of these demonic beings. You might think that such a solution to the problem of natural evil is ridiculous and maybe even frivolous, but then you would be confusing the logical version of the problem of evil with the probabilistic version of the problem of evil. Someone who is offering merely a defense does not have to offer a plausible solution. All he has to do is show a possible solution – a possible explanation – and if he can show that it is even possible that God and evil coexist then it follows that the atheist’s argument has been unsuccessful. The atheist has not been able to show that God and evil are logically incompatible with each other.”3

            So by way of conclusion, the atheologian’s claim that it is logically impossible for God and evil to coexist is not valid. Since God has blessed man with free will, God will not prevent man to make choices that may even go against HIS Holy will, which is to do evil. Therefore, because of free will, it is logically possible for God and evil to coexist.

(To be continued...)

Endnotes:

1https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/the-problem-of-evil/

2https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-the-problem-of-evil/the-problem-of-evil-part-1/#_ftn4

3Ibid.

Websites last accessed on 7th August 2021. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Can Truth Be Known With Certainty?


             Some skeptics contend they cannot be sure about Christianity’s truth claims because, they assert, truth cannot be known with any certainty. However, when they claim that truth cannot be known with any certainty, they posit certainty.

            They say with all certainty that truth cannot be known with any certainty. So their statement ‘truth cannot be known with any certainty’ is a truth claim that is predicated on certainty.

            J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity elaborates:1 [Emphasis Mine]

In this article, we’re offering “Quick Shot” responses to the objection, “You can’t be certain about Christianity because truth cannot be known with any certainty.”

Response #1:

“Are you sure? Are you confident about that statement related to truth? It sounds like you have certainty. But if truth cannot be known with any certainty, then you can’t have certainty that truth can’t be known with certainty. Do you see the problem? As it turns out, all of us are certain about something, even if it’s just that you can’t be certain. But that claim, in and of itself, is self-refuting. It’s important that all of us determine which truth claims what we should trust or distrust. But to claim that nothing can be known or trusted is contradictory and impossible to live out effectively. Can you see why this sort of claim cannot be sustained?”

OR

Response #2:

“What do you mean by certainty? Do you mean “beyond a possible doubt”? If that’s the standard, we would be paralyzed by fear and indecision. Will my car explode when I turn the key today? I can’t be sure beyond a possible doubt. Will my next restaurant meal result in food poisoning? Again, I can’t be certain beyond a possible doubt. We can’t (and don’t) live by that standard, because, if we did, we wouldn’t want to leave our homes. Instead we live by a lower standard known as “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is also the standard we apply to the most serious criminal trials. If it’s good enough to use in those trials, it’s also good enough for us to use in our daily lives. Do you honestly think truth can’t be known beyond a reasonable doubt? Have you ever applied this standard to the case for God’s existence or the truth of Christianity?”

Endnotes:

1https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/quick-shot-truth-cannot-be-known-with-any-certainty/, last accessed 31/July/2021. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

Where Does Our Soul Come From? (When Can The Fetus Be Aborted?)

 

            The Bible uses the word ‘soul’ (Hebrew nephesh; Greek: psuche) in at least four different ways:1

            1. As a synonym for a person (Exodus 1:5; Deuteronomy 10:22; Acts 2:41).

            2. The form of life man possesses in common with animals, which ceases to exist at death (Genesis 1:20,24; Psalm 78:50; Matthew 6:25; Luke 14:26).

            3. Emotions or inner thoughts of a man (Deuteronomy 13:3; Psalm 139:14; Matthew 22:37).

            4. The immortal part of a man that never dies (Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21; Matthew 10:28).

            The soul is the immortal part of our body.

            With regards to the origin of the soul, William Lane Craig explains that it is more plausible that God creates the soul for every human being that HE creates:2 [Emphasis Mine]

...there have been traditionally three competing views as to the origin of the soul. One would be Creationism. This would be the view that God immediately creates the soul...The second view is Traducianism. This is the view that the soul is produced by the souls of the parents...So the soul is not specially created by God ex nihilo or out of nothing. Rather just as the parents’ bodies engender the body of their offspring, so their souls engender the soul of their offspring. One soul is produced or generated by the parents’ souls. The third view would be the Preexistence view which is the view that souls preexisted their embodiment in human bodies...This was a Platonic view that there is a realm of souls that exist prior to their incarnation in the world, and then God puts these souls in particular bodies.

Which of these views is the most plausible? Well, again, I think apart from the Preexistence view (which I think is clearly unbiblical), biblically there really is no way to tell whether you should be a Traducian or Creationist. But it seems to me that Creationism is more plausible than Traducianism...

            So the soul is created by God. But, at what point does HE create the soul?

            This question is relevant because it concerns the issue of abortion.

            Consider these two verses from the Bible: [Emphasis Mine]

            Jeremiah 1:5: ““Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...”” (ESV)

            Psalm 139:16a: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance...” (ESV)

            It is rather plausible to infer from these verses that God knows every human being from the time of their conception – even before they were formed in the womb. Ergo, God places the soul at conception.3

            Herein we should realize that abortion, at any time, is a sin against God because at the time of conception, the soul is placed, so when the soul is placed, the fetus should be considered as a fully human person.

Endnotes:

1https://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/courses_pdf/hsc0207.pdf

2https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-the-doctrine-of-man/the-doctrine-of-man-part-8/

3https://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/courses_pdf/hsc0207.pdf

&

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-1/s1-the-doctrine-of-man/the-doctrine-of-man-part-8/

Websites last accessed on 30th July 2021. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

No! Historic Christianity Is Not A Copycat Religion

 

            Mithras, Osiris, Horus, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Demeter, Persephone, Aphrodite, Isis, Danae, Melanippe [and who knows how many more], are some of the deities claimed to be the source for the Christian miracle narratives. The virgin birth, sacrificial death, crucifixion, resurrection, etc. have been attributed to these deities. Hence, some skeptics claim that Christianity is false since it has copied the miracle narratives from the pre-christian deities/religions.

            But please note that no serious academic scholar/historian from any credible academic institution confer any credence to this accusation against Historic Christianity. This accusation is absolutely baseless and outdated, but still it makes its rounds in social media as and when appropriate.

            Here is a few reasons why this accusation is without any credible foundation:

            1. Dr. William Lane Craig dismisses these accusations based on the lack of serious scholarship, “When they say that Christian beliefs about Jesus are derived from pagan mythology, I think you should laugh. Then look at them wide-eyed and with a big grin, and exclaim, "Do you really believe that?" Act as though you've just met a flat earther or Roswell conspirator. You could say something like, "Man, those old theories have been dead for over a hundred years! Where are you getting this stuff?" Tell them this is just sensationalist junk, not serious scholarship. If they persist, then ask them to show you the actual passages narrating the supposed parallel. They're the ones who are swimming against the scholarly consensus, so make them work hard to save their religion. I think you'll find that they've never even read the primary sources.”1

            2. Dr. Mark Foreman questions the causal influence of the parallels. Even if there were parallels, there is no good evidence to ascertain that these parallels influenced the Historic Christian worldview. He emphasizes that Judaism, which is an extremely exclusive monotheistic religion, would not have tolerated the syncretism of the mystery religions. Moreover, the earliest Christians, who were primarily Jews, were even more exclusivistic. Hence, they would not have imported any stories from the mystery religions.2

            3. Greg Koukl encourages Christians and honest seekers to primarily examine the credibility of the Historic Christian narrative. He says, “Those myths are only valuable if you first determine that Jesus is a fiction by looking at the primary source historical documentation. If you look at the historical record and decide that it is unreliable, if you first conclude that there is no good reason to believe that Jesus of Nazareth existed the way the Biblical records say He did, then it might then, and only then be useful to ask the question: How did this story come to be?”3 He also states that the primary source documentation is highly credible for Historic Christianity than the mystery religions.4

            4. Sean Mcdowell in an article entitled “Is Christianity a Copycat Religion?” emphasizes that the differences between Christianity and the mystery religions are more profound than the alleged similarities. He also asserts that the parallels prove nothing, and the chronology is all wrong.5

            These reasons are sufficient to dismiss these accusations against Historic Christianity.

            Last but not the least, even non-christian scholars reject these accusations:6

Dr. Tryggve Mettinger (a Swedish professor at Lund University) has written the most comprehensive account of the dying and rising god motif. He himself affirms the concept of “dying and rising gods.”[3] Yet he concedes that he is in the strict minority: “There is now what amounts to a scholarly consensus against the appropriateness of the concept [of dying and rising gods]. Those who still think differently are looked upon as residual members of an almost extinct species… Major scholars in the fields of comparative religion and the Bible find the idea of dying and rising deities suspect or untenable.”[4] For instance, Jonathan Z. Smith (historian from the University of Chicago) writes, “All the deities that have been identified as belonging to the class of dying and rising deities can be subsumed under the two larger classes of disappearing deities or dying deities. In the first case, the deities return but have not died; in the second case, the gods die but do not return.”[5]

Skeptic Matt Dillahunty (of Atheist Experience) writes, “The first third of the film (Zeitgeist) is an unscholarly, sophomoric, horribly flawed, over-simplification that tries to portray Christianity as nothing more than the next incarnation of the astrologically themed religions that preceded it. Like all conspiracy theories, they combine a few facts, focus on correlations and build an intriguing story that seems to fit the pieces together nicely—provided you don’t actually dig below the surface to find out where they might have gone wrong.”

In describing the German higher critical school which gave birth to this entire theory (Religiongeschichtliche Schule), critical scholar Maurice Casey writes that this is “now regarded as out of date” and “significantly mistaken.”[6]

Regarding the Cross and Atonement, atheistic critical scholar Bart Ehrman writes, “Where do any of the ancient sources speak of a divine man who was crucified as an atonement for sin? So far as I know, there are no parallels to the central Christian claim. What has been invented here is not the Christian Jesus but the mythicist claims about Jesus… The majority of scholars agree… there is no unambiguous evidence that any pagans prior to Christianity believed in dying and rising gods.”[7] He adds, “None of this literature is written by scholars trained in the New Testament.”[8]

            So whenever you come across an accusation that Historic Christianity is a copycat religion, you can wholeheartedly pay no attention to the accusation, for it is tenuous, asinine, and sophomoric.

Endnotes:

1https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/jesus-and-pagan-mythology/

2http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2017/03/12/did-christianity-copy-from-paganism-part-2-no-causal-influence/

3https://www.str.org/w/the-zeitgeist-movie-other-myth-claims-about-jesus#.UcbtoT772vE

4Ibid.

5https://www.apologeticsbible.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Is-Christianity-A-Copycat-Religion_.pdf

6http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2017/02/10/did-christianity-copy-from-paganism-part-1/#_ftn4

Websites last accessed on 19th July 2021. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Was Christianity Influenced By Zoroastrianism?

 

            The ancient religion of Zoroastrianism (Parsi faith) apparently dates back to the 6th century BC/BCE.1 Zarathustra or Zoroaster2 founded Zoroastrianism. While Zoroastrians claim belief in one supreme God known as Ahura Mazda, they also believe in another immortal deity called Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), who is the epitome of evil.

            Critics of Historic Christianity claim that Christianity borrowed the following ideas from Zoroastrianism:3

1.      Zoroaster was born of a virgin and “immaculate conception by a ray of divine reason.”

2.      He was baptized in a river.

3.      In his youth he astounded wise men with his wisdom.

4.      He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil.

5.      He began his ministry at age 30.

6.      Zoroaster baptized with water, fire, and “holy wind.”

7.      He cast out demons and restored the sight to a blind man.

8.      He taught about heaven and hell, and revealed mysteries, including resurrection, judgment, salvation and the apocalypse.

9.      He had a sacred cup or grail.

10.  He was slain.

11.  His religion had a eucharist.

12.  He was the “Word made flesh.”

13.  Zoroaster’s followers expect a “second coming” in the virgin-born Saoshyant or Savior, who is to come in 2341 CE and begin his ministry at age 30, ushering in a golden age.

            These have been meticulously disproved.4

            Although Zoroaster’s life predates Jesus Christ, all information pertaining to him comes from the book of Avesta. Interestingly, Avesta was not composed until the 4th century (AD/CE). This is almost 400 years after the life of Jesus Christ.

            Significantly, the earliest manuscripts of the Avesta have been dated to the 13th century (AD/CE). In comparison, the manuscripts of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles have been dated between 45-60 (AD/CE).5

            If the New Testament manuscripts are dated much before Avesta, then it is clear that Christianity could NOT have borrowed ideas from Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism may have borrowed ideas from Christianity, but it is certainly not the other way around. 

            Despite the oral traditions of Zoroastrianism predating Christ, the information in Avesta could be unreliable because of the large gap in time (1000 years plus or minus). Moreover, historians claim that the book of Avesta has been updated over time.6 If Avesta was updated over time, then it is more plausible that Zoroastrianism borrowed concepts from Christianity.

            The Bible could not have borrowed the concept of Satan from Zoroastrianism. Satan appears in the book of Job, a very early book. Moreover, Satan (a created subordinate to God in Christianity) is much unlike the evil god Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), who is a dualistic equal to Ahura Mazda.

            Last but not the least, the doctrine of salvation clinches the deal. Any religion that teaches salvation by works cannot be true.

            Zoroastrianism opposes Historic Christianity in the doctrine of salvation. Zoroastrianism teaches salvation by works, “Salvation was by works alone; there was "practically no place for repentance or pardon:" and "no doctrine of atonement." There is some issue about the fate of the wicked; one account says they will be tormented three days, then return to do good deeds; another source says they will be annihilated. There is an essential equivalent to Heaven and Hell...”7

            Salvation cannot be achieved by doing good deeds. Salvation can only be through the grace of God by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). Dr. Carl Broggi describes this beautifully, “God does not spell salvation “DO” - and God does not spell salvation “DON’T” - God spells salvation “DONE” (John 19:30).”8

            Therefore, we can confidently assert that Historic Christianity cannot be an offshoot of Zoroastrianism.


Endnotes:

1Dating of Zoroastrianism is much disputed.

2Zoroaster is presumed to have lived sometime between 1700 – 600 BC/BCE.

3http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/zoroaster.php

4http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/zoroaster.php 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x6aOBqc9d0&ab_channel=InspiringPhilosophy

5https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/why-i-know-the-gospels-were-written-early-free-bible-insert/

6http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/zoroaster.php

7Ibid.

8https://answersingenesis.org/world-religions/world-religions-and-cults-zoroastrianism/

Websites last accessed on 17th July 2021.