Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Immoral Argument for God's Existence

A common argument for the existence of God is the moral argument which basically states that if there is an objective moral law, then there has to be a moral law giver. Since there are universally accepted, objective moral laws, then that shows morality objectively exists, so therefore God exists as the Law-Giver.

However, I don't think we even need to go that far. I think a good argument for not only a vague theistic deity, but specifically for the Christian God, is the universality of immorality. 

Think about it. It is a basic tenet of Christianity that man was made perfect but is now corrupt and sinful. That's the whole reason why Christ had to come and die: to pay the price for our sins.

But what sins? The common refrain from skeptics and unbelievers is, "Who are you to judge?" Or "What gives you the right to tell everyone else what is moral?" Or something to that affect. However, we don't even have to use Biblical morality to prove the point.

No matter what moral code a person adopts, .... they will not be able to live up to it!

No one does. From the staunchest legalist to the most free wheeling relativist, we all have a concept of right/wrong which we will violate. 

It's a universal reality that none of us escape. We have all fallen short, because it is in our nature to do so. We are prideful, corrupt, selfish people who will fail any standard we attempt to live by.

We may not be able to agree on the specifics of an objective moral code, but we can all admit that we're flawed. That there is something in us that fails to "be good," however we define it.

That flawed nature, that failing, is proof positive that the Bible got it right when it speaks of us being a Fallen people in need of a savior. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Having Faith in Naturalism

If you have ever been the sort to engage in deeper conversations with your unbelieving friends, then you almost certainly heard a statement like this, "I have reason, you have faith." Or maybe, "Since there is not scientific evidence for the supernatural, then it doesn't exist." Never mind the obviously false claim that science doesn't show the fingerprints of The Creator upon His creation, but that is a topic for another day.

This is a mindset, a philosophy, a worldview, that claims that the natural world is all that exists (or can be proven to exist) and may be referred to as naturalism, materialism, scientism, or physicalism. Those all have subtle differences, but essentially all hold the same idea: the supernatural cannot be scientifically proven thus does not exist.

The term "supernatural" is usually used to mean things like, God, angels, demons, ghosts, spirits, miracles, etc. However, the word simply means beyond or above (super) the realm of nature (natural). Anything that is immaterial, not made of matter or energy, can be said to be supernatural. When I grasped this idea, it just opened up doors of understanding for me.

Supernatural is not limited to the fantastical claims of religion and spirituality. The term also encompasses things like logic, mathematics, and induction (assuming that the future will be like the past).

I have always had a hard time discussing, debating, arguing, etc. with naturalists and materialists. For someone to say, "There is no such thing as the supernatural," and demand I give them "evidence" is like standing in the desert at noon and demanding evidence that the sun exists.

Once it finally clicked and I realized that "supernatural" is not spiritual but anything that is not material or physical, then I realized what was going on.

We live in a culture that has become infatuated with science. Science has given us a great many wonderful things. As a way of thinking, we have elevated the scientific method to a place of high honor. Those who practice this method are revered, and the conclusions they reach are sacred.

This way of thinking has so permeated our culture that we don't even realize what is going on when the naturalist asks for "evidence." To them ONLY physical, material, scientific evidence counts. But we know that there is more to life than what our 5 physical senses take in.

How do you account for mathematics in a naturalistic world? What molecule is the number 4 made of?
How do you get a foundation for the Laws of Logic in a naturalistic world? What experiment was done to prove that A = A?
For that matter, what scientific experiment was performed to determine the nature and proper methodology of scientific experiments?
If we are just meat machines guided by the purposeless chemical reactions in our brains, where do you get ethics or morality? Or how do you even determine the need for something like reason or rationality?
How can you be sure the universe is orderly and won't suddenly fall into chaos?
Why do you assume that tomorrow will go just like today?
Why bother arguing or trying to discover any truth at all? If the chemicals in your brain randomly create thoughts about God and the chemicals in my brain randomly create thoughts about atheism, which random chemical reaction to we appeal to for discernment to know which is right?
For that matter, in a materialistic world, what is the basis for even needing to determine what is right?

We have science, yes, but we also have intuition and experience, and feelings and logic, the spiritual, and our volitional consciousness. However, non of this can be explained by blind, unguided material processes.

Here is what the naturalist is doing. They build a nice, cozy little box where everything on the inside is blue. Then they invite you to come into their little box, close the door, and then only using the things they have placed inside the box prove that there are colors other than blue.

However, they say they want proof (material, natural, scientific) that the immaterial exists. Since no such proof can be presented, then the immaterial cannot exist. But that's crazy talk. You can't give evidence of immaterial realities by using material. That's like demanding proof of music using only visual evidence.

The reality is that we are not only physical beings but spiritual beings as well. We are not bodies with a soul, we are souls with a body. We posses a volitional consciousness, that is, we have an awareness and will separate from our physical bodies.

The chemistry in our brains may have some effect on our moods and thoughts, but so too can our thoughts shape the chemical make up of our brain. There may be cases of chemical imbalances that require medical assistance to correct, but there is also a greater frequency of times that we can literally WILL ourselves to refocus, feel better, or think differently. This cannot be simple chemical processes in our brain. This is a separate, immaterial will being imposed upon the brain.

Here are a couple of examples:

My daughter has a very active imagination. She is at that age where she is having trouble determining between dreams, fantasies and memories. As we raise her and teach her, we do not manipulate the chemistry of her brain. We train her mind to think so that she will be able to know the differences. In a purely naturalistic world where brain chemistry is all there is, there is no mechanism to objectively determine the difference between dream and memory.

Several years ago, I spent a few months caring for my great grandfather who had Alzheimer's. During his confused moments, as his brain chemistry was malfunctioning, you could visibly see the frustration as his mind, his consciousness was aware that something was wrong. He was not just a slave to his biology. Like when a limb falls asleep and won't behave like your mind is wanting it to, his brain was not performing like he knew it should. If we are nothing more than material processes in the brain, a malfunctioning chemical process doesn't know it's malfunctioning.

These are two small example in a lifetime of day-after-day experienced that clearly demonstrate that we are more than animated meat sacks being guided by chemical reactions in our head.

For the naturalist to exclude an entire realm of reality and experience from is an act of faith. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the naturalist decides to trust only in what his 5 senses tell him. He places science as the ultimate guide to truth and rejects all else that does not fit into this little box.

Faith is the step of trust that completes the journey, bridges the gap, from evidence to belief. (more on that here: Faith, One Step Further)

Christian faith encompasses the entirety of human knowledge to support the viability of trusting in God. The gap between knowledge and belief is much smaller.

Naturalism denies all sources of knowledge but physical science. By adopting a self-limiting pool of evidence to draw from in the search for truth, the naturalist has a larger gap between his evidence and conclusion than does the Christ.

Hence it takes more faith to be a naturalist than a Christian.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why are You so Nervous?

Could it be that we are awkward talking to non-believers, not because they (or their possible objections) make us uncomfortable but because we are uncomfortable talking about Jesus Christ?

Think about it for a moment. What are the things we seem to have no problem talking to anyone about? A recent movie or TV show we watched. Something that happened at work or school. The slow guy in the fast lane on the highway. A recent sports event. A concert we went to. A vacation we took. Some cute or ridiculous thing our child or younger sibling or friend did. I'm sure we could all keep coming up with more.

What do these things have in common? It can't be shared interest, at least not primarily. We will talk about some of these things even if the other person is visibly not interested, whether a complete stranger or close family. There are just some things we want to talk about.

And I think that is the key: stuff we want to talk about.

If you are excited enough, passionate enough, annoyed enough or care enough, you will talk to anyone about whatever it is.

Typically, when asked why they don't share their faith more, most Christians usually respond with something like, "I don't know what to say," or "I'm afraid they'll ask questions or have objections I can't answer." But that doesn't seem to stop us from talking about anything else.

When was the last time someone was uneasy talking about the Cowboys because the other person might come back with criticism? ..... OK, bad example .... but you get what I mean! If we enjoyed a concert over the weekend, we don't hesitate to talk to our co-workers or classmates about it just because they may not be fans of that type of music. We don't shy away from talking about all sorts of things.

We simply do not use the same excuses with other things that we use with talking about Christ.

I think about the guy born blind in John 9. Jesus puts mud on his eyes and tells him to go wash it off.

When he does, he can see. Challenged and questioned by the religious authorities of his day his simple response is, "I don't know about that, I just know that I was blind and now I see."  (paraphrased)

We see this with people Jesus heals all over the place. They run off and tell everyone what happened. They didn't wait to take a class on Biblical doctrine or apologetics or methods of evangelism or read books on tough questions by skeptics. They just went and said, "look what He did!"

Are we interested enough in what Jesus has done for us to want to tell other people about it? If not ... why not?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's Your Guide?: Aaron Tippin, Martin Luther, and Jesus Christ

Do you have a guiding principle or idea that is the foundation for your decision making? Is there one thing that is the thing that you measure everything else by?

I have developed a habit on social media with friends, and people I know with good senses of humor, that when they post something that is completely opposed to what I see as reality (or especially what they profess to believe themselves), I comment the opposing view to what they posted. 

Just yesterday someone posted that we need to first love ourselves, and from our self-love we then love others. As far as I know this person is a Christian, so I commented that I have nothing loving, or lovable, in me. It is God's grace and His love which fills me that I then pass on and share with others. Any love I might possess of myself is inadequate to the task of loving others. Oddly enough, this friend "liked" my comment. 

And I get this a lot! People giving agreement to the exact opposite idea of what they just stated. These ideas cannot both be true. Logicians call it The Law of Non-Contradiction. You cannot have "A" and "not A" at the same time. Opposite truth claims cannot both be true.

Then a few days ago, I saw this:

So which is it? Do you tell someone you love them or not?

The picture on the left was posted by a lady, the mother of a girl from my youth group who recently moved away. The one on the left was posted by the girl. And mom showed her agreement by "liking" it. 

These two pictures occurred in my news feed almost right on top of each other (There was post between them that was a sponsored "you might like this" sort of thing, so I don't think it really counts). They had been posted and "liked" within minutes of each other by the same people.

Two opposing ideas being liked and agreed upon by the same person. 

I see this sort of thing often, especially with the youth I work with. They have no guiding principle for determining what is true. 

I'm reminded of Proverbs 18:17, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him."

It's as if we just jump from one thing to the next neat thing without any critical thought about what is actually true. And if this is what we do with catchy slogans and minor details, is it what we are doing with the weightier matters of life?

Does God exist? Well, at church I think so, but at school or work my friends or co-workers make sense that He doesn't.

Is it wrong to lie? It makes sense when the pastor explained it, but now it doesn't seem like so big a deal.

Is it ok to have sex before marriage? My parents sounded like they knew what they were talking about when they said not to. But my friend says its no big deal when they do it. But my pastor says God doesn't want me to. But my boyfriend/girlfriend really loves me .. and is really hot. The talk about diseases worries me, but all my friends are doing it and they don't have diseases. My older friend got pregnant on her first time and tells me its not worth it. My other friend does it all the time and hasn't gotten pregnant. 

It all makes so much sense, and depending on who we are listening to at any given moment, our "hey that sounds good" response just goes along with the latest idea.

I never liked country music growing up. My mom had one of those bumper stickers that says "There are 2 types of music: country & western." But I often joke that the older I get the more country music makes sense. 

I believe it was Aaron Tippin who said, "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything." 

So what are you standing for? What are you standing on? What is the foundation for the way that you view the world and make decisions? 

In Matthew 7 Jesus says that our lives should be based on His words. That to do otherwise is to have your house (life) built on shifting sands, and it cannot hold when the storms come.

"Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving. My warrant is the Word of God -- Naught else is worth believing." - Martin Luther

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GIRLS: Starting Over with a New Boyfriend

I saw a recent Facebook post that said something like this: "Girls don't want to start over with a new boy, meeting his family, sharing her secrets, and giving him her body. She would rather the one she is with get his act together."
I got to thinking of the three things stated as part of "starting over", which implies that they are necessary parts of forming a relationship with a new "boy":
1. Meeting his family
2. Sharing your secrets
3. Giving your body
Are these really three things that are necessary to develop a meaningful relationship? Notice, I said "develop" not "have". Maybe I am reading into it, but it seems to imply these things need to be done at the beginning or at least earlier on in the life of the relationship. Even if the post didn't say it, our culture certainly does. So here's my breakdown of these three ideas.
1. Yes, you absolutely need to meet his family, even though this can be a stressful and awkward experience. A pastor friend of mine commented on dating during a Q&A event with area teens. One of the points he made was that when you date you must date the whole family. These people, should the relationship persist and become a long-term proposition, will be a big part of your life. You will celebrate holidays with them, and they will get into your business. This should happen as soon as possible. It gives great insight into the guy and what you can expect in the days, months, and years to come.

2. My wife and I often are amazed at what people share on social media. So many people vomit all their intimate details all over the web for anyone to see. But despite the amount of information many people put out, we still edit what we share (usually) to put a better face forward. Studies show that while we may be more connected than ever before, we are also more lonely than ever as well.

The fact is, we build walls and hide feelings, not wanting to be vulnerable. But when a special someone comes along who we think cares about us, feeling so desparate for connection we drop our walls and defenses and let them have access to our heart's most tender of places, sometimes with past wounds still not healed, and we place a burden on the relationship that it simply is not strong enough to bear.
There are 2 things to consider here: (A) Do not give over the keys to the kingdom until he has proven himself responsible and mature enough to handle the delicate contents within. Also, (B) even a safe and responsible guy has his own baggage and limited ability to handle yours if dumped on him all at once. Discovery is part of the journey. Rather than dumping all of your deepest thoughts and desires on a guy right at the beginning, make him get to know you a little at a time.
Often the discovery and learning process is what keeps a relationship interesting and fullfilling early on. Also, it keeps you safer when you only trust him with as much as he has proven himself able to handle. That way, if you do part ways, you are not left with yet more wounds from his mishandling of your heart.
3. Closely related to how a guy handles your heart is what he wants from your body. A guy who is interested more in your body than your heart will be careless with both and will not appreciate either. I cannot stress enough ladies, a guy can not be trusted with your body until he has proven himself capable of handling your heart.
Even the best of guys with the greatest of intentions WILL be careless with your heart if you give him your body first. It's just the way we are wired. Girls/women tend to be more about the heart, and guys tend to be more about the body. That is where his passions and desires lead him. Intimate access to your body is the very last thing you give a guy, ... ever.
This should be a progression. Meet his family. Make sure he's not from crazytown. Gradually hand him your heart as you get to trust him. If, after all of that, he has proven himself to be trustworthy and caring with your heart, a man worthy of your affection and attentions, then and only then do you give him your body.
This is why sex is for marriage. Only someone who has proven himself to be worthy of your heart should be given your body as well, and the ultimate proof of his worthiness is the willingness to commit the rest of his life to care for, nurture and cherish you. Only then do you give him your body.
A man's desire for the physical, as a future reward for his handling of your heart, will drive him to be responsible with your heart. But when you give him your body before he has proven himself worthy, even the best of guys lose some motivation to treat your heart with respect and care.
You don't keep running once you reach the finish line. For many guys, especially "boys", access to your body IS the finish line. Don't put the finish line at the beginning of the race, or when he gets there he stops running (caring for your heart).

You have been made in the image and likeness of God. Your are His beautiful creation and unique handiwork. A guy who is worth your heart will be willing to treat you accordingly. Make him earn it.
Any guy who's not willing to work for it does not deserve your heart.