Thursday, February 13, 2020

Are The Truth Claims Of Ex-Christian Mrs. Esther Dhanraj Valid? (Part 2)


            Sis. Esther Dhanraj’s allegations against Christianity are unbelievably primitive. Her so-called objections are archaic. They have been asked and answered. Answers to her questions are available on the internet.

            Given this situation, it would be legitimate to ask why Sis. Esther is positing the same old questions now. Does she not know that there are reasonable answers to her questions against Christianity? Did she not research well enough for answers? Or is she intentionally striving to mislead Christians?

            A few years ago, Da Vinci Code (the book) was published. It was authored by Dan Brown. One possible reason for Dan Brown to publish that book may have been to gain wealth and fame in the shortest time span. And he did!

            The Bible is the most read book on earth and Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Anyone who criticizes the Bible and Christianity would gain the attention of a huge number of Christians. This seems to be the most excellent technique to gain fame and wealth.

            Sis. Esther and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra allege that Christianity is a flawed product and that it fails scientifically, historically, logically and archaeologically.1 Is this assertion credible?

            Historic Christianity has been in existence for more than 2000 years. Since then, none of the objections against Christianity has prevailed. As Ravi Zacharias said, “The Word of God remains eternal. Those who have tried to bury it only find out that the Bible rises up to outlive its pallbearers.”2

            Interestingly, Sis. Esther has not posted any substantive videos in 2019. Her interview with Mr. Rajiv Malhotra was her only public post after her initial accusatory video in 2018. One wonders the reason for the delay.

            Whatever the case may be, it should suffice if we can reasonably answer a couple of Sis. Esther’s main objections. Every allegation proceeding from Sis. Esther has been answered already. A cursory internet search will fetch the answers. Moreover, apologists from Sakshi Apologetics Network have countered Sis. Esther Dhanraj and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra through their vlogs on YouTube. Please visit these channels: Sakshi Apologetics Network and Sakshi Christian Voice.3

            Sis. Esther alleges that all narratives about Jesus’ existence are nonsensical or a myth.4 On the contrary, every serious historian or theologian in the highest level of academics do not doubt the existence of historical Jesus.

            In the past, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev also made similar allegations against Christianity. Is this a pattern in the Hindu apologetics scheme?

            While Sis. Esther urges Indian Christians to think and question their faith in Christ does she not know that they will also question her objections against Christianity?

            The historical Jesus did exist:5

As to the existence of historical Jesus, there is no doubt whatsoever, not even an iota of doubt exists. Historians are convinced about the existence of the historical Jesus.
Here are a few testimonies of hostile witnesses about the existence of the historical Jesus:4
The testimony of a hostile witness is very powerful (cf. Criterion of Unsympathetic Sources). Dr. Bart Ehrman is one such hostile witness. He is a much acclaimed and widely respected scholar.
Bart Ehrman is a hostile witness since he does not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hostile witness (in this context) has no bias or no need, whatsoever, to affirm in the existence of the Historical Jesus.
Bart Ehrman believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus. Significantly, Ehrman emphasizes that scholars who have genuinely studied the evidence pertaining to the existence of Historical Jesus believe that HE existed, “Mythicists have often gotten upset with me for pointing out that almost no one with any qualifications in the requisite fields of scholarship agrees with them.  I can see why that would be upsetting.  My sense is that some of them think that I’ve been rubbing their noses in it.  But that isn’t really my intent.  My intent is to point out to anyone who is interested – for example, someone who just doesn’t know what to think – that those who are qualified to speak knowledgeably on such subjects are virtually unified on one view (there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth) and opposed to the other (he is a complete myth).”4
This should do it!
If every serious scholar believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus, every claim that attempts to disregard the Historical Jesus are insincere and hypocritical. Therefore, these hypocritical claims ought to be disregarded.
Bart Ehrman is not the only secular scholar who believes in the existence of Historical Jesus. Here’s more from the website of Answers In Genesis:5
Here is what some scholars have written about the Jesus Myth (these statements are not just from conservative Christians—the first four are critical scholars who have rejected the miraculous elements of Christ’s life).
Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community. (Rudolf Bultmann)1
To doubt the historical existence of Jesus at all … was reserved for an unrestrained, tendentious criticism of modern times into which it is not worthwhile to enter here. (Günther Bornkamm)2
I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the theory [“that Jesus never lived, that he was a purely mythical figure”] is historically untenable. (Willi Marxsen)3
To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has “again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.” In recent years “no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus”—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. (Michael Grant)4
Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed their [i.e., Jesus mythers] arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely. (Robert Van Voorst)5
The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence. (Paul L. Maier)6
On a side note, do remember that every claim of Jesus Mythers can be rejected by proving them to be incorrect. There’s an abundance of resources [on the internet] to help us achieve this.
Here’s an example: Jesus Mythers contend that Nazareth did not exist, hence Christ did not exist. But Bart Ehrman debunks this contention by ascertaining that [Palestinian] archaeologists believe that Nazareth existed because they have discovered evidence for its existence. He goes on to add that the existence of Nazareth is not even a point of debate among Palestinian archaeologists.6

            Sis. Esther also claims that the God of the Bible is not the God of the universe.6 She alleges that the God of the Bible is unfair.7 She substantiates this claim by referring to God’s massacre of the Canaanites.

            This allegation is not new to Christianity. The new atheists make similar allegations. These allegations have been reasonably answered:8

…a just God has morally sufficient reasons to kill people, so God is justified and none can fault God. What then is one morally sufficient and justifiable reason for God to kill people?
God Can Kill Wicked & Unrepentant People
            Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6, 20:16-18, Exodus 23:23, Deuteronomy 7:1-2, Joshua 3:10, 9:24 and 1 Samuel 15:2-3 record God’s command to exterminate people. Take for instance the Canaanites, who were they?
            They were wicked. They practiced idolatry, witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality and bestiality.1
            But wasn’t there a chance for these people to repent and be good? Yes. Genesis 15: 13-16 teaches that God refrained from his judgment upon the Canaanites for 400 years during which time God’s own people languished in slavery.
            If Canaanites did not repent in 400 years, common sense suggests that they would not have repented even if God had given them another 400 years. But God is omniscient (God possesses middle knowledge2 as well). Thus God knew precisely that Canaanites would not repent. Hence God judged them.
            What about children who were killed? Was God unjust in killing children? No!
            Death is either a gateway to heaven or hell. When children die, God in HIS grace takes them into HIS own presence (Cf. 2 Samuel 12: 23). So the death of children is in fact their salvation. Children who die will be with God in heaven.
            Just as how the owner of a building possesses all authority to demolish a building, God, the owner of every life, possesses all authority to create and to eliminate life. Instead of allowing the children to grow in the Canaanite practice, God in HIS mercy takes them away, and by doing so, favors the children from an eternal perspective.
            Having said this, let us engage some objections:
Objection #1: God Killed Millions But Satan Killed Only 60!
            Obviously this objection accuses God as the greater evil. Since the source of the data for this objection is the Bible, it’s only reasonable that we posit a response from the Bible.
            The Bible does not refer to Satan as a good being. Satan opposes God. The Bible terms Satan as an accuser (Revelation 12:10), tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and a deceiver (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:3).
            If Satan opposes God, and if God is an evil killer (as proclaimed by the atheists), then Satan should be intrinsically good. But Satan is not good, instead Satan is purely evil. Therefore, the inverse condition is more reasonable i.e. since Satan, the evil being, opposes God, God should be intrinsically good.
            Significantly, those who raise this objection against God display a serious inadequacy of biblical comprehension. God is sovereign, whereas Satan is not. It is also evident from the Bible that Satan is not independent of God. Satan cannot kill anyone without God allowing him to. Therefore, attribute the 60 or whatever number that one wants to add to Satan’s credit into God’s account.
            Every single death by Satan can be reasonably explained. Consider Job’s family that was killed by Satan.
            God allowed it for a particular reason. While God commends Job’s righteousness, Satan accused Job of being godly and righteous for selfish reasons. If the godliness of a righteous man in whom God delights can be shown to be a terrible sin, then redemption is unimaginable, for the godliest of godly will be the most ungodly. More importantly, God’s judgment about Job’s righteousness would have been proven erroneous.
            Therefore, God allows Job’s travails, and true to God’s commendation, Job emerges as godly and righteous after that severe trial. Satan was proven to be a false accuser.
Objection #2: God Cannot Murder
            If you and I cannot murder, then God cannot murder as well.
            Because the universe in its creational intent is temporal, human life is also temporal. Therefore the creational intent is that death is inevitable for every human life - that which is born should die. As said before, only the creator God can eliminate life when HE determines the appropriate time and reason according to HIS perfect knowledge and justice. 
            God does not murder when HE eliminates life from this temporal world. God judges people for violating HIS laws. The consequence of God’s judgment is death initiated by God.
            A case in point is that a just human judge does not murder when he sentences a convict to death; instead the judge pronounces a judgment upon a law-offender. A judge has the authority to sentence a criminal to death, if the said criminal is a proven offender of the law.
Objection #3: If God Can Kill, So Can A Parent
            Life is created by God. A father and a mother do not create life. They merely provide the sperm and the egg, which is the creational design of God. Thus father and mother are a means to creation of life.
            Parents are created beings themselves. Parents are not creators of life. Therefore, parents are merely stewards of life created by God.
            Since parents are not creators, they are not owners of life, hence parents, as created beings themselves, do not have the authority to eliminate life. Only the creator God has the authority to eliminate life. No one else has this authority.
Objection #4: Why Did God Not Offer Sodom & Gomorrah 400 years To Repent?
            We posit God’s deferral of judgment upon Canaanites for 400 years as justification for the Canaanite massacre. But this act of God requires a greater understanding.
            God is omniscient – HE knows everything with respect to the past, present and the future. God possesses middle knowledge as well.
            To begin with, God would have known that even in 400 years the Canaanites would not repent. So to infer that God hoped for the Canaanites to repent and believe in HIM is incorrect.
            Why then did God wait for 400 years to judge Canaanites? On one hand, God waited for 400 years to judge the Canaanites but on the other hand, God punished Sodom & Gomorrah rather quickly. Why?
            Both Canaanites and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of sins against God. Neither of them repented before God’s judgment. So it was morally sufficient and justifiable for God to judge them both for their sins.
            The Bible teaches us, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18: 25c, NIV). God, for reasons that are just, but best known to HIM, defers judgment upon people, according to HIS will.
            But the Bible does provide a clue about God’s judgment of Canaanites and Sodomites. In Genesis 15: 13-16, God says that “…the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” So God waited for their sins to reach its full measure to pronounce judgment upon the Amorites - a Canaanite clan. Similarly it is possible that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached its full measure when judgment was pronounced (Cf. Genesis 19: 13).  
Conclusion
            We can go on and on reasonably dealing with every objection that are posited against God. When a mind compulsively argues against God, then it’s a given that that mind integrally refuses or does not innately desire to comprehend God. This is a mind that has rejected God. This mind, as long as it continues to integrally reject God, will not comprehend God, barring a divine intervention in the likeness of an intervention on the road to Damascus. 
            Then there are honest objections against God. These objections are from a mind that earnestly desires and seeks to comprehend God and HIS actions in this world. An infinite being’s actions in this world are not effortlessly comprehensible by finite minds, such as yours and mine.
            Therefore, our starting point is to earnestly seek God in all humility for all our doubts and confusions. May we, by the grace of God, endeavor to assimilate the humility that Christ practiced, and may the peace of God that transcends human comprehension fill our hearts and minds and guard us in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Endnotes:

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s ; Time: 24:30 & 25:34

2https://twitter.com/ravizacharias/status/450107278432432128?lang=en

3https://www.youtube.com/user/SakshiApologetics & https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6uoWgBWqi4ZIcn3NXOYwdw

4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihkMjrXtsfM; Time: 14:04
 
5http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2019/09/debunking-sadhguru-jaggi-vasudevs-false.html

6Ibid, 20:35.

7https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nR3w9xNtgA&t=21s , Time: 3:42

8http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2014/12/why-did-god-kill-25-million-people-in.html

Websites last accessed on 13th February 2020.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Are The Truth Claims Of Ex-Christian Mrs. Esther Dhanraj Valid? (Part 1)

            Ex-Christian Sis. Esther Dhanraj’s tirade against Christianity has recently increased in popularity; thanks to Mr. Rajiv Malhotra and social media.

            Mrs. Esther Dhanraj, as per her YouTube videos, is an Ex-Christian without any religious affiliation (for now). She completed her M.Div from a seminary in the USA. She has read the Bible cover to cover. However, while pursuing her Masters course in Divinity, she lost her faith in Christianity.

            Wikipedia describes Rajiv Malhotra as “an Indian-American author who, after a career in the computer and telecom industries, took early retirement in 1995 to set up the Infinity Foundation, which focuses on Indic studies…”1 He is a devout Hindu.

            Sis. Esther is an ex-Christian. During Christ’s time on earth and since then many have abandoned their faith. To be an ex-Christian is one thing but to publicly defame Christianity is another thing altogether.

            Why is Sis. Esther an Ex-Christian? While speaking to Rajiv Malhotra, Sis. Esther spells out her reasons for leaving Christianity. Simple common sense suggests that Sis. Esther should have a strong, if not bullet-proof, reasons to accuse a historic faith. Interestingly, her reasons are very weak.

The Bible Teaches Young Earth Creationism?

            Sis. Esther alleges that the Bible teaches Young Earth Creationism (YEC). On the contrary, she believes that the earth is very old a.k.a. Old Earth Creationism (OEC). Since she believes that the Bible teaches young-earth creationism, she claims the Bible to be false and hence she abandoned Christianity.2

            The issue at hand is this. The YEC vs. OEC debate is an outcome of Biblical Hermeneutics (science of biblical interpretation). Whether the earth is young or old is an in-house discussion for Christians because this involves, very minimally, the interpretation of the word ‘day’ mentioned in the creation chapters of Genesis.

            Devout Christians are present on both sides of this debate. Is Sis. Esther even aware of this?

            Significantly, this conflict does not affect one’s salvation. A person who abandons Christianity because of a misunderstanding that the Bible only teaches YEC may be oblivious to the fact that this debate does not concern one’s salvation.

            It does not matter if a Christian subscribes to YEC or OEC, both the Young Earth Creationists and the Old Earth Creationists (within Christendom) would be saved.

            Is Sis. Esther so naïve that she is ignorant of this truth? Or could depravity play a role?

            A concise response to Sis. Esther would be in order. A reader can literally interpret the word ‘day’ as a 24-hour time period or can understand that the Hebrew word yom can also mean epochs or long time periods. A reader is not erroneous if he understands the word ‘day’ (in Genesis 1 and 2) to mean long periods of time.

            This understanding is further corroborated in these verses: The Psalmist said, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4, NIV). Apostle Peter wrote, “Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.” (2 Peter 3:8, NET).

            So Sis. Esther should learn that devout Christians could hold to any of these theories – YEC or OEC, and that it would not affect their salvation one bit.

The Bible Is Not An Encyclopedia Of Science, History & Geography

            Sis. Esther alleges that her race is not found in the Bible. Apparently, the Bible does not mention India. This is offered as another reason for her to abandon Christianity.3

            The Bible is all about God’s revelation to man. It’s an account of God’s action in the world, and his purpose with all creation. The Bible is neither a scientific handbook nor an encyclopedia of history and geography.

            The Bible is not meant to mention every country and every race in the history of mankind. Expecting the Bible to mention one’s country and race exhibits either a total lack of understanding of the basic purpose of the Bible or the innate depravity of the person.

            Due consideration should be offered to the aspect of decadence. Is Sis. Esther creating a ‘Straw Man’ (Straw Man logical fallacy) in her endeavor to debunk the Bible? Deliberately creating a straw man when there is none, to debunk a truth claim is an outcome of evil.

            To state that the Bible does not mention India or her race is akin to creating a straw man. Sis. Esther may know that the Bible is not expected to mention every race and every country. However, creating a condition that the Bible should mention every race and every country (thus creating a straw man) is appalling.

            Once a straw man is created, this person would claim that the Bible does not mention every country and every race, hence the Bible is false or invalid (this is how the person knocks off the straw man that he/she has created.).

            This is not only a logical fallacy but this is a pathetic exhibition of evil.

The Bible Contains Contradictions?

            Correct me if I am wrong; another reason for Sis. Esther to forsake Christianity is her lack of understanding of the Bible. Alternatively, a dim flaunt of decadence cannot be ruled out.

            Sis. Esther asks, if the Bible is divinely inspired, how can there be contradictions?4 She goes on to add, how can there be errors in the text of the Bible when it was written by God HIMSELF or the Holy Spirit?5

            To start with, neither God nor the precious Holy Spirit wrote the Bible directly. The inspiration of Scripture means that there was the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture authors which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God.

            The Bible witnesses to its divine origin in several ways. Let’s consider two references only.

            The New Testament author Peter taught this about the Scriptures of his day (Old Testament), “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1: 20-21, NIV). This is what Apostle Paul taught, “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16, NET).

            So neither God nor the precious Holy Spirit wrote the Bible themselves.

            Only the original texts (autographs) are inerrant. We do not have the autographs with us. All we have are copies of the original text. No one in Christendom claims that the copies are inerrant.

            What about the contradictions in the Bible?

            Ruminate on this route as a response to this question. This excerpt is from a previous blog of mine entitled The Bible Has Errors, What Do We Do?: [Emphasis Mine]6

Would an erroneous Bible entail the non-existence of God? No, not by any chance!
God exists necessarily. God’s existence is not predicated or intricately linked to the veracity of the Bible. In other words, God will not cease to exist if the Bible is erroneous.
In fact, God existed even before the Bible was written. It was God who inspired the human authors to write the Bible. Bible reveals God. However, the Bible is not the only source that reveals God (cf. Romans 1: 19-20).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the means to salvation of mankind, existed independent of the Bible’s veracity. For instance, history affirms Christ’s existence and resurrection.
Dr. Gary Habermas asserts that Jesus death by crucifixion, HIS postmortem appearances to HIS disciples, and Paul’s vision of the resurrected Christ, are the most affirmed historical facts by both Christian and non-Christian scholars. 7
Therefore, if the Bible is proven to be with errors, neither would God cease to exist nor would Christ. If history affirms Christ’s resurrection, then salvation through Christ is also a fact that remains independent of the Bible.
This is not an exercise to undermine Bible’s authority. This is a mere exercise to affirm the independent existence (apart from the Bible) of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation of mankind through Christ.8
Therefore, even if the Bible is proven to contain errors, it would not and cannot undermine God, Christ and salvation of mankind. In other words, Christianity would not crumble if the Bible is proven to be with errors.
God is at the core of Christianity. Christ and the salvation that HE offered to mankind are at the core of Christianity.
But inerrancy of the Bible need not be at the core of Christianity. If inerrancy of the Bible is to remain at the core of Christianity, then it would presuppose that inerrancy of the Bible is far superior in value to God, Christ and salvation. However, since God is the source of the Bible, God ought to be at the core of Christianity and not the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy is the corollary of God’s nature.
Unfortunately, this is not what Bart Ehrman thought. Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, lost his faith in Christ because he apparently discovered one minor error in the gospels. It seemed Professor Ehrman held the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as the core of Christianity.
When a particular passage in the Gospel of Mark befuddled Bart Ehrman, his strong belief in inerrancy of the Bible was shaken. He became a liberal Christian and then ended up as an agnostic atheist after being unable to reconcile the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.9
So should inerrancy be an essential doctrine of Christianity? Maybe so. However, God who is the source of the Bible ought to be at the core of Christianity and not the inerrancy of the Bible. Disputing inerrancy would not and cannot damage God or Christ or salvation of mankind.
The theme of this article is intended to touch the scores of ordinary Christians. By ordinary Christians, I refer to Christians who are not into serious Christian pedagogy or academics.
The full blown wrath of Christianity’s detractors, such as the New Atheists, is aimed to rattle the faith of these ordinary Christians. At the first instance, when you hear the relentless tirades of these detractors, your faith in Christ may shake…
So, fear not!
God is at the core of Christianity. Christ and the salvation offered to mankind are at the core of Christianity. The Bible reveals our triune God. The Scripture cannot be broken. Let us continue to totally trust and study God and HIS Word. Amen.

            So Sis. Esther need not worry about the contradictions in the Bible. There are many useful works online and offline that tackle these contradictions. She may as well study this book: The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation authored by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe.  

            Finally, was Rev. Billy Graham a hypocrite? Sis. Esther, in the context of contradictions in the Bible, rudely condemned Rev. Billy Graham as a hypocrite.7 Only a naïve or a depraved detractor of Historic Christianity could make such an accusation.

            Sis. Esther should recognize that there are Christians who cannot grasp the deep complexities of Historic Christianity. How do these Christians believe in Christ then? By faith alone:8

Famed Christian evangelist Billy Graham went through a crisis of faith when his evangelist friend Charles “Chuck” Templeton questioned the veracity (truthfulness or accuracy) of the Bible and abandoned his faith in Christ. Billy Graham, however, overcame his crisis situation.
Billy Graham reminisced those moments, “The exact wording of my prayer is beyond recall, but it must have echoed my thoughts: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. … I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck [Templeton] and others are raising.” I was trying to be on the level with God, but something remained unspoken. At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it: “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith!” … I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months.”2
Templeton’s departure from Christianity did not deter Billy Graham. He survived the crisis and became a more committed believer in Christ. 
How?
Through faith. Simple faith!
You and I will not be remiss if we simply believe that the Bible is the word of God.

            This article partially responds to one YouTube video of Sis. Esther Dhanraj. So this is the first part of a counter to Sis. Esther Dhanraj and Mr. Rajiv Malhotra. Part two will be published soon.  

Endnotes:

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajiv_Malhotra

2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s; Time: 15:57

3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s; Time: 16:34

4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s; Time: 23:04

5https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s; Time: 23:56

6http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-bible-has-errors-what-do-we-do.html

7https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNdgGttyvyA&t=1804s; Time: 38:09

8http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2019/08/does-bible-contain-errors-or-not-how.html

Websites last accessed on 9th February 2020.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Can Science Disprove God’s Existence?


            A common diatribe emanating from the atheistic bandwagon is that science has conclusively disproven the existence of God and the authenticity of Historic Christianity.

            Has science conclusively disproven the existence of God? On what basis?

            Scientific materialists argue that all the workings of the universe can be explained without a need for God. Consider Stephen Hawking’s arguments against God’s existence, here’s an excerpt:1

"I think the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science," Hawking, who died in March, wrote. "If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn't take long to ask: What role is there for God?"
"Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur?" Hawking wrote. "I have no desire to offend anyone of faith, but I think science has a more compelling explanation than a divine creator."
Hawking's explanation begins with quantum mechanics, which explains how subatomic particles behave. In quantum studies, it's common to see subatomic particles like protons and electrons seemingly appear out of nowhere, stick around for a while and then disappear again to a completely different location. Because the universe was once the size of a subatomic particle itself, it's plausible that it behaved similarly during the Big Bang, Hawking wrote.
"The universe itself, in all its mind-boggling vastness and complexity, could simply have popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature," he wrote.
Because the universe also began as a singularity, time itself could not have existed before the Big Bang. Hawking's answer, then, to what happened before the Big Bang is, "there was no time before the Big Bang."
"We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in," Hawking wrote. "For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in."

            Inasmuch as scientists from the atheistic camp cry foul to God’s existence, an article in the Time magazine authored by Dr. Amir Aczel questions science’s authority to debunk God’s existence: [Emphasis Mine]2

But has modern science, from the beginning of the 20th century, proved that there is no God, as some commentators now claim? Science is an amazing, wonderful undertaking: it teaches us about life, the world and the universe. But it has not revealed to us why the universe came into existence nor what preceded its birth in the Big Bang. Biological evolution has not brought us the slightest understanding of how the first living organisms emerged from inanimate matter on this planet and how the advanced eukaryotic cells—the highly structured building blocks of advanced life forms—ever emerged from simpler organisms. Neither does it explain one of the greatest mysteries of science: how did consciousness arise in living things? Where do symbolic thinking and self-awareness come from? What is it that allows humans to understand the mysteries of biology, physics, mathematics, engineering and medicine? And what enables us to create great works of art, music, architecture and literature? Science is nowhere near to explaining these deep mysteries.
But much more important than these conundrums is the persistent question of the fine-tuning of the parameters of the universe: Why is our universe so precisely tailor-made for the emergence of life? This question has never been answered satisfactorily, and I believe that it will never find a scientific solution. For the deeper we delve into the mysteries of physics and cosmology, the more the universe appears to be intricate and incredibly complex. To explain the quantum-mechanical behavior of even one tiny particle requires pages and pages of extremely advanced mathematics. Why are even the tiniest particles of matter so unbelievably complicated? It appears that there is a vast, hidden “wisdom,” or structure, or knotty blueprint for even the most simple-looking element of nature. And the situation becomes much more daunting as we expand our view to the entire cosmos…
…The scientific atheists have scrambled to explain this troubling mystery by suggesting the existence of a multiverse—an infinite set of universes, each with its own parameters. In some universes, the conditions are wrong for life; however, by the sheer size of this putative multiverse, there must be a universe where everything is right. But if it takes an immense power of nature to create one universe, then how much more powerful would that force have to be in order to create infinitely many universes? So the purely hypothetical multiverse does not solve the problem of God. The incredible fine-tuning of the universe presents the most powerful argument for the existence of an immanent creative entity we may well call God. Lacking convincing scientific evidence to the contrary, such a power may be necessary to force all the parameters we need for our existence—cosmological, physical, chemical, biological and cognitive—to be what they are.

            So it’s adequately evident that science lacks the authority to question God’s existence let alone disproving it.

            Could science be the only way to determine truth? Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, John Lennox says, absolutely not, “Well, obviously science cannot be the only way to truth. Why? Because that's a logically self-contradictory statement. If science were the only way to truth, then the statement, "Science is the only way to truth," would be given to us by science, but it isn't. So the thing falls at the very beginning. But looking at it more broadly, you see, if science were the only way to truth, you'd have to close half the faculties at least at Biola. You'd have no literature, you'd have no theology, you'd have no art, you'd have no music, and so on. There are so many other intellectual disciplines that are perfectly rational, but they are not the natural sciences.

            Now of course, in German, the word for science is wissenschaft, and that covers actually all academic disciplines really. But when we're speaking English, "science" really stands for the natural sciences. Therefore, it's a very dangerous idea to suggest that the natural sciences are the only way to truth. And one of the best comments on it was made by another Nobel Prize winner, Sir Peter Medawar, who worked here in Oxford. He said it is so easy to see that science, natural science, is limited. Why? Because it cannot answer the simple questions of a child. Where do I come from? Where am I going? And what is the meaning of my life? And he pointed out, it's to literature and philosophy and of course theology that we need to turn for answers to those questions. Indeed, the really big questions of life and meaning are not answered by the natural sciences.”3

            Finally, William Lane Craig posits four different truths – ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics and science itself – that cannot be proven scientifically. This is in addition to the logical and mathematical truths that are part and parcel of the scientific method, but these too cannot be proved empirically: 4

From a scientific description you can make no inference whatsoever about statements of value, about good and evil, or right and wrong. This is the old distinction between what is and what ought to be…That is a statement of value, or ethics. Thus the whole realm of ethical inquiry is closed to the scientific method.
...the whole question of what it is permissible to do to animals in scientific research. Are you allowed to just do anything you want, to torture or kill an animal, in any way you want in scientific research? That is not a scientific question, that is an ethical question that science really cannot speak to. And if one denies that there is any ethical truths about these sorts of things, then there can be no objection to using human beings as human guinea pigs in this sort of medical research. The world was horrified when it learned that at camps like Auschwitz and Dachau Nazi scientists had used prisoners for medical experiments on living human beings. For example, at Auschwitz, Mengele took pregnant women and used them for vivisection.
A second area is the area of aesthetics. Like the good, the beautiful cannot be determined by the scientific method…there are aesthetic truths, and I think we all intuitively know it. There is an objective difference between the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and the ceiling in this room. And yet this whole realm of the aesthetic is closed to the scientific method and scientific proof.
Number three, metaphysics. There are truths about the nature of reality which we all accept and yet which cannot be scientifically proven. [7] For example, how do you know that you are not a brain in a vat? Maybe you are just a brain in a vat of chemicals being stimulated with electrodes by some mad scientist to make you think that you are sitting here in this room hearing this lecture. In fact, he might even be stimulating you to think right now that it is impossible that you could be a brain in a vat. There is no way scientifically to disprove such a hypothesis…Or the belief that other minds exist cannot be proven scientifically. Other persons could just be mindless automata whose behavior exactly mimics your behavior as an organism having a mind. There is no way to prove scientifically that other minds even exist.
Finally, number four, science itself. This is perhaps the most amazing paradox of all, that science itself cannot be justified by the scientific method. So that if you say that you should only believe that which can be scientifically proven, you would throw out science altogether…
…science is permeated with assumptions which cannot be scientifically proven, and yet which lie at the root of scientific theories…
…The Copernican Principle states that we occupy no special or privileged place in the universe. This principle underlies all of modern astronomy and astrophysics, otherwise you could say that distant galaxies run on entirely different laws of nature than the ones that we know here on earth. And yet the Copernican Principle is something than cannot be proved scientifically, it is simply an assumption that you have to make.
…According to the Continuum Hypothesis, between any two points on a line there is always another point. This underlies all of modern spacetime theories in physics, and yet again it is a hypothesis which simply cannot be proven scientifically…
…And so in all of these different ways – ethics, aesthetic, metaphysics, science itself – our knowledge is predicated upon truths which cannot be proven scientifically, and yet which are part and parcel of what we know about the world.
the scientific method in no way undermines belief in God because there are beliefs about the world which cannot be scientifically proven but which we are entirely rational in accepting. The laymen might say that we accept these things by faith, but I would prefer to say they are among the deliverances of reason. And in the same way the person who experiences God as a living reality in his life knows God in such a way that for him God’s existence is a properly basic belief. And thus I think it would be more accurate and less misleading to say that belief in the existence of God is among the properly basic deliverances of reason, and that faith is that relation of love, trust, and commitment which ought to characterize our walk with God.

            So to conclude, can science disprove the existence of God?

            No! Never!

Endnotes:

1https://www.livescience.com/63854-stephen-hawking-says-no-god.html

2https://time.com/77676/why-science-does-not-disprove-god/

3https://www.biola.edu/blogs/think-biblically/2019/can-science-explain-everything

4https://www.reasonablefaith.org/videos/lectures/has-science-made-faith-in-god-impossible-tamu-texas/

Websites last accessed on 30th January 2020.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Holding To An Inaccurate View Of God Could Endanger Our Faith


            We may have been faithful Christians for decades, but what and how much do we know of God?

            For instance, the Godhead of Historic Christianity is a Trinitarian Godhead, one God who eternally exists as three distinct persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We know this fact. We do believe in the Trinity.

            However, the extent of our knowledge of the blessed Trinity would determine the clarity with which we can explain this rather complicated concept to a friend who is honestly seeking God.

            Knowing God is a fundamental, yet the most significant pursuit of a Christian. Charles Spurgeon in his commentary of Malachi said, “…the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise." But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing." No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel—

"Great God, how infinite art thou,
What worthless worms are we!"

     But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.”1 

            A proper study of the Godhead is essential to the holistic wellness of a sincere Christian.

            Each and every Christian is called to answer questions about our faith in God (cf. 1 Peter 3: 15). (No, this is not a demand that all Christians be Christian apologists.)

            Very minimally, we will have to teach our children about our faith. If we teach with clarity, our children would comprehend clearly. In order to teach with clarity, a good knowledge of the subject is mandatory. 

            Knowing God properly is to possess a correct view of God. This benefits our lives.

            Such a Christian life is largely peaceful. “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on for ever,” said J.I Packer in Knowing God.

            On the other hand, possessing an incorrect view of God could be detrimental to our Christian life.

            Is it possible to hold to an incorrect view of God? Yes, many Christians hold to an incorrect view of God.

            For instance, Open Theists or Neotheists are one such Christian group.

            Norman Geisler exposes Open Theism, “There is a new “kid” on the world view block called “neotheism.” While claiming to be in the camp of theism, proponents of this view make several significant changes in the nature of the theistic God in the direction of process theology or panentheism. They claim, among other things, that God can change His mind and that He does not have an infallible knowledge of the future. Since a number of noted evangelical thinkers espouse neotheism, it poses a significant threat to the orthodox understanding of God. For example, if God does not know for sure what will happen in the future, then predictions in the Bible can be wrong.”2

            Geisler notes the points of convergence and divergence between neotheism and classical theism, “Neotheism, like classical theism, affirms many of the essential attributes of God, including infinity, necessity, ontological independence, transcendence, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Likewise, it shares with traditional theism the belief in ex nihilo creation and direct divine supernatural intervention in the world… On the other hand, since significant differences exist between the new theism and classical theism, neither does neotheism fit comfortably in the latter category. For example, neotheism denies God’s foreknowledge of future free acts and, as a consequence, God’s complete sovereignty over human events…One proponent, Clark Pinnock, correctly positioned neotheism in titling his chapter in Process Theology “Between Classical and Process Theism.” Whatever it is called, this view is a serious challenge to classical theism and a serious threat to many important doctrines and practices built on that view.”3

            Geisler lists the following as the theological consequences of neotheism:4

                      Predictive Prophecy Would Be Fallible
                  It Undermines the Test for False Prophecy
                  It Undermines the Infallibility of the Bible
                  It Logically Leads to Universalism
                  God Cannot Guarantee Ultimate Victory over Evil
                  It Is Contrary to God’s Unconditional Promises
                  It Undermines Confidence in God’s Promises
                  It Hinders Belief in God’s Ability to Answer Prayer
                  It Implies That God Would Not Know Who the Elect Are

            It’s quite possible that you may belong to a denomination that subscribes to Open Theism or Neotheism. Christian denominations that subscribe to Open Theism are: (1) Assemblies of God (2) Nazarenes (3) Mennonites (4) Free Will Baptists (5) Salvation Army (6) Anglicans (7) Quakers (8) Grace Believers (9) Some Baptists (10) Some independents (11) United Methodist Church (12) United Church of Christ (13) Free Methodists (14) Church of God (15) Evangelical Covenant Church.5

            (Although you may belong to one of these denominations, it is not necessary for you to have an incorrect view of God. Moreover, the controversial doctrines of Open Theism cannot be termed as heretical.)

            Open theism or Neotheism is a classic example that portrays the negative effects of having an incorrect view of God. If we hold to an incorrect view of God, our belief in the Bible may be severely diluted or handicapped. Our prayers could either suspect God or we may not pray at all.

            It is difficult for such Christians to live a true and a successful Christian life.

            The inability to live a true Christian life could jeopardize our peace. A Christian life without the peace of God could be overwhelmed with doubts about God.

            Such a Christian life is pathetic, says J.I Packer in Knowing God, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”

            The Bible insists that a Christian should know his God, “This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me…” (Jeremiah 9: 23-24, NIV).

            Do you know the Triune God? Is your view of the Triune God correct or incorrect?

            Let’s pray that we learn more about God this year and in the years to come.

Endnotes:

1https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-immutability-of-god#flipbook/

2http://normangeisler.com/category/open-theism/neo-theism/

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5https://godisopen.com/2015/04/03/questions-answered-what-denominations-accept-open-theism/

Websites last accessed on 29th January 2020.