Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is the power of Christ's sacrifice?

An anti-Calvinist sermon preached in Brisbane, Australia late last year stated:
To limit the atoning work of our Lord Jesus on the cross to cover only some people is so offensive, and strips that wonderful sacrifice of much of it's glory and power.
Here is Dr James White's great response:
What glory and power is stripped from Christ's sacrifice by saying that He did not die for those that God knew would...spend eternity in Hell?...What power is expressed by Christ's sacrifice in His own position? He knows that John Brown is never going to believe, so He punishes Jesus Christ in John Brown's place: the entirety of His wrath due to John Brown's sin falls on Jesus Christ in his place, and then the entirety of that same wrath falls upon John Brown. Where is the power and the glory there? Could someone answer that question for me? For some of my squeamish reformed brethren who really are questionable on particular redemption, could you answer that question too? At least you've thought about it. It's very clear that this brother has not.
(transcribed from December 30, 2010 podcast of The Dividing Line)

Objective...the new Subjective

These days, we need to be careful diving right into conversations about God and reality.

In this seemingly (and I say that genuinely, I truly believe that no one is a true relativist) relativistic society, people have changed the definitions of many words.

I found this out this morning when I met with a good friend of mine. We began a discussion on what it means to be a Christian, and ended with a debate on relativism

It took a while to realize it, but I ended up discovering that we were using the same words, yet assuming different meanings.  This can make one argue in circles forever.

What he defined as 'Objective' was what I defined as 'Subjective.'

Clearing up these types of confusions will allow me to make clearer points and hopefully be persuasive in my portrayal of the truth.

I plan on moving into the Objectivity of Morality with him next week. I don't think relativists can honestly continue in their beliefs when you bring morality in to the argument. Denying objective morality does not allow the relativist grounds for moral judgments. We'll see how that discussion goes!

Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-AirI have heard this book is very helpful in understanding Relativism and how to approach discussions. It's on my Wish-List! Is it in yours? What books/resources have you found helpful in challenging the Relativistic worldview?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philippians 3:7-14

Here is the video for last week's verses:

I'll have this week's up soon.

And remember, I almost always have the songs available to download before I am able to get the video together! So no need to wait until you see the post for the verses. Check the right sidebar!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does God Exist? Part 2

*The following is a compilation of arguments and rationale from William Lane Craig and his Reasonable Faith website.*

Reason #2 to believe in the existence of God:

God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for 
intelligent life

Scientists, at one point in time, assumed that no matter what the initial conditions of our universe were, life might eventually come about. However, we now know that our existence is dependent upon many different variables, needing to be more precise than one could possibly imagine. In fact, these fine-tunings are so precise that they are literally unfathomable.

There are two aspects to consider regarding the fine-tuning of the universe:

     1. When you communicate the laws of nature as mathematical equations, there appears certain kinds of constants (i.e. gravitational constant)
    • These constants are not determined by the laws of nature, as the laws of nature are steady with many different possible values for these constants.
     2.  There are certain chance quantities that are set as the initial conditions of the universe that the laws of nature function under (i.e. amount of entropy, balance between matter/anti-matter in universe)
    • These quantities and constants fall into a narrow range of life-permitting values. If any part of them were altered by even the slightest amount, life would cease to exist.

    Some of the fine-tunings that if altered would not permit life:

    A change in gravity's pull by one part in 10100
    (that's 1 part in 10,000,000,000,000,002,048,152,312,936,744,064,968,280,736,496,704,368,200,216,912,448,184,576,664,144,552,576,752,872,304,304,512,280.0000000000000002e+100)

    The cosmological constant by one part in 10120 
    (that's one part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,384,216,968,488,640,432,840,928,368,184,096,208,592,344,560,296,704,312,272,880,432,872,384,504,432,456,880,328,408,304,736,184,568,656,384.0000000000000003e+120)

    The Big Bang's low entropy existing by chance by one out of 1010(123) 

    (NOTE: in trying to calculate this number, one program froze my computer every time I attempted to calculate, and a dozen others I tried gave the answer "infiniti" - this should give you an idea of how big this number is!)

         Roger Penrose of Oxford University comments, "I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010(123).

    Now keep in mind, it's not just these individual quantities and constants that need to be taken into consideration. One mustn't forget that the ratios between all of these values must be calculated. Here, we are multiplying improbability by improbability by improbability. Our mind cannot even begin to comprehend these types of incomprehensible numbers.

    There are 3 possible explanations for the presence of fine-tuning:

    1. Physical necessity (a universe would need to have these conditions - assuming a so-called "Theory of Everything" [T.O.E.] necessitating a life-permitting universe.)
    2. Chance (we are the lucky recipients of good fortune.) 
    3. Design (an intelligent mind behind the cosmos who designed the universe to allow for life.)
    Physical Necessity
    There is simply no reason to believe that the constants and quantities of this universe needed to be the way they are. P.C.W. Davies explains:

    Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn't follow that the physical universe itself is unique. . . . the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions. . . . There is nothing in present ideas about 'laws of initial conditions' remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it. . . .. . . it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise.

    In fact, String Theory allows for what is referred to as a 'cosmic landscape' with 10500 different universes that are governed by the laws of nature we observe. So there is no reason to assume that the constants and quantities we observe are physically necessary.

    The odds of this universe happening by chance are so fantastically unfathomable that it would be nonsensical to assume that position. Although there are an enormous amount of possible universes within the existing constants and quantities, the amount of worlds that would be life-permitting are absolutely astronomically low. Anyone who throws out the claim 'It could happen by chance' truly has no idea and cannot comprehend how impossible this is. Also, they would never assert that assumption to explain anything in their own lives (such as a giant boulder appearing in their backyard overnight.)

    Some have said that we should not be surprised that this universe has happened by chance and is extremely fine-tuned simply on the grounds that we are observing it. "If the universe were not fine-tuned, we would not be around to observe it!" However, that argument is nonsensical. Consider the following situation often offered by William Lane Craig:

    "Such reasoning is logically fallacious. We can show this by means of a parallel illustration. Imagine you're traveling abroad and are arrested on trumped-up drug charges and dragged in front of a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. You hear the command given: "Ready! Aim! Fire!" and you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 trained marksmen missed! Now what would you conclude? "Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, then I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it! Given that I am here, I should expect them all to miss." Of course not! You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose, that the whole thing was a set-up, engineered for some reason by someone. While you wouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you are dead, you'd be very surprised, indeed, that you do observe that you are alive. In the same way, given the incredible improbability of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, it is reasonable to conclude that this is not due to chance, but to design."

    Some have argued for an Infinite-World hypothesis, where there are an infinite number of universes out there, and so eventually one would have life-permitting values as it's constants and quantities. As covered in the previous 'Does God Exist' post, an actually infinite number cannot exist, so this hypothesis is logically impossible. Also, due to the ridiculously improbability of this universe happening by chance, it has been argued that if it did happen by chance, we should expect to see many other things happening that are far more likely to happen than this universe existing: such as horses popping into and out of existence, perpetual motion vehicles, etc.         

    The argument for the existence of God based on the fine-tuning of the universe can be summed up as follows:
    1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
    2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
    3. Therefore, it is due to design.
    What do you all think of this argument? Or of Charlie Horse's cameo above?

      Tuesday, March 22, 2011

      Evolution proves God exists

      According to Frank Tipler & John Barrow (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle):

      The odds of the human genome evolving is somewhere between:

       4^-180^110,00 and 4^-360^110,000 

      (Read "Four to the -180th power to the 110,000th power)

      "So, if evolution DID exist, it would literally be a miracle, and therefore prove that God exists."
                                                                                       -William Lane Craig

      Friday, March 18, 2011

      Philippians 3:1-6

      Just as a note, I will usually put the .mp3 for the week's verses up prior to posting the video. So, if you haven't noticed a blog post for the week's verses and it's already half-way through the week, check the sidebar. You can download it for free.

      Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

      Thursday, March 17, 2011

      40% off Reformation Study Bible!

      This is worth letting everyone know about!

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      Mal and I both have the Reformation Study Bible, and we love them. Mal has the Genuine Leather Burgundy, and I have the Tan Leather-like.

      The commentary throughout is invaluable. R.C. Sproul gives great insight to add to your reading.

      I can't recommend it enough.

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      Wednesday, March 9, 2011

      Does God exist?

      *The following is a compilation of arguments and rationale from William Lane Craig and his Reasonable Faith website.*

      Is this an important question?

      I think so.

      Here are some reasons why:

      1) If God does not exist, life is ultimately meaningless. It does not matter how you live (it may matter relatively, as you influence others and even history, but not ultimately.) In the end, you are forgotten. Arguably, no one will remember Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr or even Hitler  in 10,000 years. Or in 10,000,000 years.

      2) If God does not exist, there is no hope. There is no hope for suffering, aging, disease, or death. In the end, we will all end up the same. Worm food. Trampled on by future generations of who knows what kind of animals or people.

      3) If God does exist, there is meaning and hope. Even better, you can know Him. That has BIG effects on you and on mankind.

      It is for these reasons that I believe it makes a great difference whether God exists.

      Reason #1 to believe in the existence of God:

      God explains the origins of the universe

      There is a simple saying that has an incredible amount of power in it. In it rests the fate of millions of souls. In it rests the hearts of many who truly don't understand the irrationality of such a statement. They argue that belief in a 'God' is irrational, yet their own trust and belief in this statement proves their ignorance of what faith and belief really is. The saying is: 'Something cannot come from nothing.'

      It seems so elemental to say aloud that an object cannot not only appear, but come into existence from nothing at all.  I'm not sure how it can possibly be made any more simple. Matter, space, and time all could not have just popped into existence. There must have been something that caused them to be. A rock can only come from previously existing substances. An amoeba can only come from previously existing substances. A speck of dust can only come from previously existing substances. It is completely illogical to say that 0 + 0 = 1. Any math professor would fail you if you answered the question that way.

      Next, we know that reality cannot be eternal. There can not exist an infinite amount of past events. If there were an actually infinite amount of past events, we would never really arrive at the present.

      An actually infinite amount of things leads to self-contradictions. How would you answer the following: infinity + 1 = ? That equation simply can't be answered.

      Infinity is merely an idea. Past events are real, therefore they are not infinite.

      David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century said,

      The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.
      It is thus logical to conclude that the universe is not eternal, or in other words, it began to exist.

      The previous statements can be summarized into the following argument known as the 
      Kalam Cosmological Argument:

                                                          1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
                                                          2. The universe began to exist
                                                          3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

      Lastly, there are a few stipulations to be made regarding the 'cause.'

      - The 'cause' must be uncaused. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.
      - The 'cause' must be timeless and changeless. The 'cause' created time.
      - The 'cause' must be immaterial. The 'cause' created space.
      - The 'cause' must be personal. The 'cause' must be separate from the 'effect.' It cannot be mechanical. It must have a 'will' to be able to act.

      These necessities lead to the conclusion that it is God who is the 'cause.'  Many have tried to argue that it doesn't need to be God that is the cause, and they describe a random 'thing' that has the above properties; however what they end up describing is God - they merely give it a different name.

      Take a look at this video as William Lane Craig addresses this very point:

      The Kalam Cosmological Arugment is probably the most convincing argument I have found for the existence of God.

      However, this does not bring us to a belief in a certain God (Christian, Islam, Hindu's many gods, etc.). It is merely moving us from a-theism to theism. But that is a beg, necessary step that often needs to be taken first for many people.  I will present at a later date reasons for the existence of the Christian God.

      What do y'all think? Comments are not only welcome, but encouraged!

      **This is the first of 5 arguments for the existence of God I will be posting from Reasonable Faith, William Lane Craig's ministry.

      Sunday, March 6, 2011

      Philippians 2:25-30

      This is the last section of verses for Philippians 2! We're half way through the book!

      Hope this helps someone this week!


      Friday, March 4, 2011

      Philippians 2:19-24

      Here is week 9's song for Philippians 2:19-24. I'm trying to catch up, so hopefully I'll get week 10 done by the end of the weekend!

      Have a great weekend!

      **Be on the lookout for some Apologetic posts soon!