Why I Don’t Debate Evolution

Is it wise to take up every battle? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes I get asked why I don’t debate evolution. Do I just accept the reigning paradigm and that’s it? It’s a good question and one that deserves an answer.

Let’s start with something. I don’t accept purely naturalistic evolution. That is the idea that there is no God and all that we see came about by chance. I find that position untenable. Fortunately, that is not a scientific position. That is philosophical since science cannot prove or disprove naturalism.

I can also read books written by evolutionists and see criticisms that I think are good criticisms of the theory. However, in light of all of this, I realize that I am a novice in the area and do not know how to debate the topic. I do not understand the terminology that is used and if I was pressed, I could say nothing more on the issues than what I read.

That last part is an exception. If you’re a Christian who reads science and wants to do this, then I have no real problem. I simply ask that you make your argument scientific. It should never be the Bible vs. science. If we do that with our unbelieving friends, then we know which way they will go.

One aspect that brought the problem of this home to me was reading the New Atheists. Just look at the arguments they make against God and Christianity. Now there are informed atheists who can make good arguments. The New Atheists were not those atheists. Those arguments sounded convincing to other atheists who did not study the issues. As someone who does study them, I saw them as embarrassing.

What if I was doing the same?

It was worse that by arguing science I did not understand, I was embarrassing myself. I was also embarrassing Christianity. I was giving the impression that being a Christian would mean that I knew everything and I would believe it even if my opinion was uninformed.

Hence, I came to do some more study. I also decided that my theistic arguments didn’t need to be built on grounds other than science. That’s fine. After all, science is not the final arbiter on if God exists or not or if miracles are true or not. I find the five ways of Aquinas do that for me.

I also have an interpretation of Genesis that doesn’t rely on science as well, which is that of John Walton. I think we in a scientific culture have too often assumed the Bible is speaking science because that is our culture, not realizing that it was not their culture. We need to try to understand the text the way that they would.

Again, I am not saying that you cannot debate evolution. If you are a scientist and can make the case, then by all means go for it. Maybe you’re right. I don’t know. I just know that I don’t want to go against a reigning paradigm in an area I am ignorant of, much like mythicists go after the reigning paradigm of history in an area they’re ignorant of. If you’re not trained in science, I invite you to join me on that. You don’t have to debate everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Check The Bibliography

Where do you go when you open a book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most of my time is spent reading non-fiction. The rule I am giving does not apply to fiction and does not necessarily reply to material that is more devotional or self-help in nature. However, if you read a book arguing that another position is wrong, I want to make a recommendation on how to start.

Recently a skeptic I have interacted with wanted to send me a book he wrote on Christianity. I agreed to this. The book will be reviewed when I finish it so I won’t say what it is for now, but I did pick it up and check recently the bibliography. That was a section that confirmed many of my concerns.

When I went, for the most part, I pretty much just saw the Bible quoted over and over. If there was any Christian scholarship interacted with, it was certainly the very rare exception and right now, I can’t remember any of it that I saw. I could be mistaken, but that is what I saw.

Now some atheist who wants to apparently claim some piety might say “But isnt’ the Bible the Word of God? Shouldn’t quoting it be sufficient?” Well, of course not. You see, if you’re arguing that the Bible is wrong, you really need to take it on in the most serious way possible. It’s ridiculous to think you can take a book written in another context, place, language, and culture, and just quoting it in your English translation is enough to show you seriously understand all of those aspects that affect it.

You don’t.

If you say God should make it that way, then your objection is really a theological one and I want to know how you know this. Who told you that God should do it this way because it would be easier on you? Who said that He should be beholden to follow your rules?

By the way, I hold Christian books to the same standard. When I read a Christian work like this, I expect it to argue with that which is on the other side. There are a number of “apologetics” books that I have gone after because the author did not do this. If we want our opponents to take us seriously and really interact with the scholars on our side, we should do the same with them.

This doesn’t apply to just Christians and atheists. A Christian writing against any position should quote the other side regularly. This even includes more debates that are in-house. I have been reading on Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy more lately and I would think a Christian writing about the other side being incorrect on something should be quoting that other side often. Show me that you have seriously interacted with the material.

When you get that book then, go look at the bibliography. If you’re at the bookstore and want to get a serious investment, do the same thing. Of course, you will need to know the scholars on the sides you’re talking about in order to examine this claim, so again, you have to study as well. Perhaps you want to read a book with a bad bibliography just for amusement or some other reason. That’s your choice, but don’t expect a serious argument.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

My Question To Bart Ehrman

Why does someone believe or not believe in miracles? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my father-in-law Mike Licona debated Bart Ehrman on Gospel reliability right here in Atlanta. I went to it with my wife and when the Q&A started, I rushed to the microphone to be the first to ask Ehrman a question. I had been thinking about what to ask and nothing in the debate changed my mind.

I asked Ehrman about a claim he made in Misquoting Jesus where he said that by definition, a miracle is the least probable explanation of an event. I wanted to know if this was something one would say before examining the evidence, which I could understand, or after. If it was after, isn’t one then saying that no amount of evidence will change one’s mind on a miracle? After all, you could show all the evidence in the world and it wouldn’t change the likelihood of a miracle being the true explanation of what happened, or if a miracle is the true explanation, one has a historical methodology that rules them out from knowing the truth.

One aspect I definitely remember of Ehrman’s answer is that believing in miracles is based on faith. If you’re a believer, you believe in them. If you’re a non-believer, you don’t. Seems simple enough. Right?

Not exactly.

First off, I don’t think this answers the question. When is a miracle thought to be the least probable explanation by definition? Who made this definition and how could it be changed? if it has to be that, then it would seem that no amount of evidence can ever change the situation to make a miracle more likely. (Although interestingly, I suspect it can somehow be made less likely!)

Second, this isn’t just a case of faith. This implies that believers themselves aren’t interested in evidence. If I want to judge if a miracle happened, I look at the evidence. Some claims have better evidence than others. Last night my wife and I were at a Bible study and someone told us privately about how they know someone who became a Christian and is convinced that God told them that Jesus would return before their mother passed away.

Now do I believe in the return of Christ in the future? Absolutely. Do I believe that God can speak to people today? Yes, though I think it’s extremely rare. Do I think this happened in this case? Not a bit. I have seen enough people make crazy claims about when Jesus is returning and I have no reason to think God told this one guy.

On the other hand, consider a New Testament scholar like Pinchas Lapides. He was a Jew who never believed Jesus was the Messiah and never became a Christian and his Ph.D. is in the New Testament. What does he conclude about Jesus? Jesus rose from the dead. What’s that based on? The evidence.

Some of you might think I am only open to miracles in my own religion. Not at all. My basis is always the same. Whatever the miracle claim is, just present the evidence. If it’s sufficient evidence in my opinion, I should believe it. My Christianity is not threatened by a miracle on the outside.

The problem with saying faith is that one is ultimately saying it’s not a matter of evidence. If that is one’s position, then we have to ask who is really living by faith? If your methodology has already ruled out miracles a priori, then if a miracle has happened, you will never know what did happen. If you assert one has never happened, then you have to show that, and if your methodology again won’t allow that, then we are arguing in a circle.

I conclude with a summarization of the thought of Chesterton.

The Christian believes in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because of the evidence. The skeptic disbelieves in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because he has a dogma against them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Piety and Rationality

Can two normally good things be used in a very bad way? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Spend any time dialoguing on sites like Facebook and such in debate threads and you’ll find out that people often have very strong opinions on matters. Not only do they have strong opinions, they also many times do not have a good basis for those strong opinions. It’s not a Christian or an atheist problem, but it is instead a human problem. Everyone is prone to this.

Last night, this came up in a discussion thread. Someone remarked that while atheists and Christians can both be prone to not doing real research and studying and have an anti-intellectualism, atheists seem to do so while proclaiming themselves the rational ones. It was said that one does not see Christians doing this sort of thing.

If he means Christians normally proclaiming themselves champions of reason, that is often true, but Christians do something similar. For them, it’s more often related to holiness and piety. When a Christian is in a debate with another Christian, and sometimes even a non-Christian, they will fall back on their piety in defense of what they believe.

Francis Beckwith once said that if a Christian can’t beat you with logic, they will trump you with spirituality. If you present a point in a debate that can’t be refuted, you can expect to hear something like this. “Oh. Well, you just need to pray more.” “You just need to ask the Holy Spirit to show you.” “You really need to listen to the voice of God on this matter.” “You must not study your Bible well.”

Now it could be the other person needs to pray more and study their Bible better, but it doesn’t show that they are wrong. The way you show someone wrong is not by saying something about your character or their character (With some granted exceptions of course), but by actually looking at the argument. What data has been presented that is false or misunderstood or what steps in logic are being done wrong?

With atheists, it’s often what I have called atheistic presuppositionalism. An atheist is rational by virtue of being an atheist. They don’t believe in the silly myths that everyone else thinks. If they’re a rational person, their arguments must be rational and their conclusions must be as well. Is it a shock that so many atheists think that they’re brilliant researchers by being in the know on Jesus mythicism? (This is comparable to how Christians think they really know what is going on with the Illuminati and the New World Order and other such things.)

What both sides really need is some intellectual humility. It’s nigh impossible for them to just say that they could be wrong. It’s actually worse than that. It’s nigh impossible to admit that the other side could have a point. Many times, one wants to commit ritual suicide practically before granting that the other person may have a point.

The solution in both cases is the same. Humility. Stop and realize what the other person is really saying. Then go and look at their argument. If they have a flaw that you can see, point it out. If not, then maybe look at yours and see if you have a problem. If you’re unsure, just think about it. It’s okay to leave the conversation and come back later. Be willing to do the research and read both sides. The sad aspect is that both Christians and atheists doing this are both fostering an anti-intellectualism. (And let’s be clear, anti-intellectualism has absolutely no place in a Christian worldview)

I look forward to a day when research is done better on both sides. It’s probably a pipe dream, but maybe it will happen. If you are regularly debating and have never changed your mind on any case and had significant changes to your worldview, you’re not really doing research and study. You’re just setting yourself up as infallible.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Marshall/Buckner Debate Thoughts

What did I think of a theism/atheism debate last night? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I had been invited to attend a debate put on by an apologetics group called Why Should I Believe?. The debate was between the Christian Wallace Marshall, a Christian apologist with Reasonable Faith, and between Ed Buckner. My friend Cody who I went with told me he had seen Buckner debate some on a Ratio Christi panel and had heard him put forward “Who created God?” as if this was the great stumper of our times. I was preparing myself for something similar and hoping that he would say something about the historical Jesus, like mythicism, that I could speak about in the Q&A.

When Buckner got up to speak as the first speaker, it was pretty much entirely an appeal to pragmatism. The life he described as the way Christians live I can say did not resonate with me at all. I do not live in constant fear that I will be severely judged for my actions and thoughts and I do not have to go to the Bible to know right from wrong. Buckner also started off talking about his own experience, to which I was amazed once again how many atheists seem to start with a personal testimony in their evangelism.

When Marshall got up, it was a much better presentation as he was quoting philosophers, scientists, and others. He had done his homework. Buckner left me thinking that all he had done was read popular objections on the internet and put them all together. I did not really see any detailed refutation from Buckner and unfortunately he did not respond to anything Marshall said about the historical Jesus.

There was a Q&A which unfortunately was all too short, but afterwards when I was speaking with Marshall about doing some work with Reasonable Faith, I managed to get myself engaged in some debates including many of the usual claims. For instance, there was the idea that Christianity copied from Egypt. Some questions were obviously points of concern, such as the young black woman who wanted to know what the Bible was really talking about with slavery.

Of course, most memorable for me was engaging with someone who was advocating the Jesus myth theory and saying that scholars don’t even know if Jesus existed. When I asked for the scholars who doubt this, well we all know who came up. None other than polyamorous Richard Carrier. I asked what accredited university he was teaching at now to get the reply of “Well he teaches at…” and then leaning over to ask his friend “Where is he teaching at?” Carrier isn’t teaching anywhere except online to internet atheists. There’s a reason for that. (It’s also a reason why I think polyamorous Richard Carrier is a great gift to the church.)

Unfortunately, trying to talk to mythicists about anything in history is incredibly difficult since the standards change for Jesus and Carrier’s words are treated like Gospel. When asked if any of us had ever read his works, I was able to reply that I had in fact read his latest book already on the historicity of Jesus. Do I think Carrier has made a serious case there? No. Not really. Perhaps those who hold him up as the cream of the crop with NT scholarship might think so, but no one else does.

If there was one critique I’d have of the Christian case, it would be that too often I think we are marrying our apologetic to the modern science. Consider how so many are building their apologetic on Big Bang cosmology. Well what if that ever changes? What about those who are building their apologetic on problems with abiogenesis. What happens if that question is answered one day? (I know there are hypotheses, but at this point I know of no clear accepted answer in the scientific community.) This is one reason I think it’s best to go with metaphysical arguments, especially since the science is incomplete without metaphysics. Why not just go straight to the main force? Could we be inadvertently feeding into the scientism of our day?

Still, I try to be fair and objective, but I have to say that Marshall carried the day in this one. He had a better grasp of the subject matter and had more than just pet sayings that you can find on an internet search. I was hoping for a more impressive show from the atheist to get a real debate going, but I was disappointed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Winning The Marriage Battle

Are we taking the proper steps to win the battle for marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a friend who is very interested in the marriage debate. Now I watch this subject to, though it is not my main theme, and I have my own opinions on it, but I tend to try not to argue about it. Still, I am quite interested in sexual ethics because like many men, I have an interest in sex. That has only increased since I’ve got married. I see more and more every day why it is that this is so important to a marriage. I also sadly see that many marriages are ending in divorce. Now to be fair, people like Shaunti Feldhahn have made convincing arguments that the divorce rate is not as bad as we think it is, but I think she would agree that it is still bad and it is especially tragic when Christian marriages end in divorce.

Another sad aspect is some of you are hearing me talk about divorce and wondering what this has to do with the modern marriage debate.

Christians have had a time fighting for things that they want if they think that they benefit from them. Sure. We’ll fight to keep Duck Dynasty on the air. We like that show. Sure. We’ll go to support Chick-Fil-A because we like Chick-Fil-A. Now of course, I’m not saying all who participated in these events were Christians and I am not saying all Christians participated in them, but Christians no doubt made up a sizable number of the people who did that. You would think that if Christians claimed they got any benefit out of anything, that it would be marriage, and that marriage would be worth fighting for.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like it is. As soon as Christians win a battle, off they go to do their own thing and don’t carry any of the momentum to the next battle. We have our chicken sandwich and we have our TV show. Why should we trouble ourselves more? Dare I say it, but the reason the marriage debate has gone downhill on the Christian side in our time is because the Christians have not been honoring marriage like they should.

To do this, we must start with what most of us already agree with the culture on. Sex is awesome. Let’s start there.

Sex is indeed awesome, but frankly, the Christian church does not do a good job of talking about it. To this day, I remember being at a Silver Ring Thing service at a church and the associate pastor got up to talk to the teenagers there about waiting until marriage for sex. Good point. I agree. From there on, the pastor went on to talk about the topic and I was listening as a young college man.

And I was bored.

Pastor. If you are talking about sex, and a college guy is in the audience and getting bored, you are doing something wrong. I could just as easily say if anyone is getting bored, you are doing something wrong.

Here’s in fact what was said. It was said that if you have sex before marriage, you will be doing it for selfish reasons. I can agree with this. In fact, for even sex within marriage, I think we often have mixed motives. There is usually some self-interest involved with all that we do. I’d like to think that my motives are always pure when I do something nice for my wife, but I’d be lying if I said that they were. The problem was the pastor then gave us reasons to not have sex before marriage, such as getting an STD, an unplanned pregnancy, or the shame one might have on a future wedding night.

Sorry, but those sound like selfish reasons also.

There was hardly anything said about the joys of sex in marriage. Lip service was paid to it. That was all.

Excuse me, but I think the joy of sex deserves more than a quick blurb of lip service.

One would especially think the men among us would be wanting to celebrate this just as much. Of course, we all know that it takes two to tango, so I would advise women to keep in mind that if you want your husband to celebrate your marriage, it’s good to make sure that he knows that you are celebrating him. Please a man here and chances are you will find he is bending over backwards more often than not to make you happy. Men are really very easy to please.

Unfortunately, the world looks at what they see in movies and TV and says “It looks like this way of sex is a lot more fun.” On the face of it, one can understand it. You have variety and you don’t have to rely on one person forever and you can have whole new experiences. Marriage often is depicted in negative terms and from that point on, you’re stuck with just one person for life so you’d better make the most of it and if that person doesn’t want to do anything with you, you’re sunk.

If we are going to show the reality, we will have to show that sex in marriage is the greatest path to joy in reality.

For starters, we need more sermons in churches on sex. Once a year is not cutting it because the world is getting its message out there every day and it’s accepted as the norm. Even in the church, you can find people who are living together before marriage and engaging in pre-marital sex and it’s seen as acceptable. They’ve fully received the message of the world. What we want to show is that a sexual relationship built on a promise of mutual trust and continuously learning about how to love one person is far better than anything else. It is better to dive into the ocean of one instead of the many shallow pools of many. It is better to be in a relationship where trust is the foundation and there is already acceptance rather than earning it.

For instance, too often in cohabitation, it can be a test for marriage. Each person thinks they have to measure up in order to get a lifelong commitment. Our old adage is that you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. That sounds reasonable. It does until you ask one question.

Which person is the driver and which person is the car?

You see, if you take a car for a spin and it doesn’t please you enough, you take it back to the lot. The car does not have hurt feelings. The car does not feel unworthy. The car doesn’t care one way or another. A person is not like that. This is especially so with women who are really the ones making themselves the most vulnerable. They are the ones who are the most emotionally connected on average to the sex act.

Do you really think it’s proper to treat a person like a car? If you enter the sexual relationship that nervous thinking you’re being tested, you really aren’t going to be doing your best. In fact, most couples would tell you that even if you do wait, which you should, your first time is not going to be the best time you’ve ever had. Why should it be? It should be a memorable and special time, but it won’t be the best. You’re just learning. You’re just now starting to get used to how each other’s bodies work and just starting to explore them for the first time. Things can be good, but you should expect that they will get better.

And with trust, you know there is no pressure. This person is not going to reject you. Honor marriage right and you’ll know they won’t because they have a covenant. When I meet couples who are struggling in their marriage, I tend to talk to the guys because it’s much easier for me to counsel a fellow man. I always point them to the covenant. You made a lifelong promise to that woman when you married her. You are to honor it.

Do you get one person? Yes. That is a person you know will be there. You don’t have to go to sleep wondering if the person will still be there when you wake up. You don’t have to be worried about the sexual history of that person. It is someone you know. Love builds up sex and sex builds up love. It is a beautiful circle and it extends in marriage. Your marriage will build up your sex life if you do it right and if you do your sex life right, it will build up your marriage. This is a circle where you two keep blessing and celebrating one another and things get better and better.

And then, marriage is the ultimate place for when children come along. Should you have a child, the child is in an environment built on love where there is a mother and a father waiting. It does not have to be a disaster if a woman gets pregnant. It can instead be something to celebrate. The love you two share can then be passed on so the child can grow up in love. While the love you and your spouse have is sexual, you can be sure that if that love is consistently being shared, that love will pour out and reach beyond itself. Ladies. For the most part, if you want to fill up your husband’s love tank, there is never a return receipt on sex. Your husband will be overflowing if you are consistent. Remember that it is said that just like pizza, bad sex is good sex. You won’t go wrong affirming a man like this.

Why does this matter? Because the ultimate way to win the marriage battle is for us to celebrate our marriages ourselves. The world should be looking at the Christian church with envy wondering how it is we have such good sex lives. It should not be something we’re hesitant to talk about. Of course, some matters should be private, but that you have joy in your marriage should not be private. That should be something worth sharing and let the rest of the world draw its own conclusions about why the two of you are so happy.

Also, this is not to say sex is the only important part of marriage. It certainly is not, but it is an important part and one the Bible speaks about often, which means we should speak about it often as well. Those wanting good sex should also be doing as much as they can good in a marriage and again, like the circle, good sex will help make that easier. When we find that marriage is something worth honoring for ourselves, we’ll give the rest of the world reason to honor it as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

An Open Challenge To David McAfee

Will the gauntlet be picked up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, upon seeing someone else talk about the book, I wrote a review of David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity. As you might expect, I found the book as sorely lacking in what it needed. The appearance I get is that David McAfee just looked up passages on Bible Gateway and read Wikipedia about them. There was no interaction with scholarly material. There was no bibliography. There was not an argument against the resurrection of Jesus at all. It pretty much boiled down to “If there are contradictions in the Bible, then Christianity is false.”

This has no basis in reality. Not even Bart Ehrman would totally buy this idea as he was a believer in Christianity for awhile even while thinking the Bible was not inerrant. There’s no reason to think the Bible is an all-or-nothing game, as if because we show that because the Bible supposedly contradicts on if man has seen God or not, that that means that Pontius Pilate never existed since the Bible records his existence. This is the way a fundamentalist thinks and this is why I say that McAfee is a fundamentalist as well. He applies the exact same standard the fundamentalist Christians he condemns does and does not engage with scholarship.

He has also written a book called The Belief Book which I plan on reviewing soon. It is designed for children. Remember Christian friends. It’s wrong for you to teach your own children to be Christians, but it’s perfectly okay for atheists to write books teaching atheism to children. Those who are telling you that you can’t teach your own children something are doing so because they have something else in mind that they want to teach your children. Yet in this book, others have told me that he really questions the existence of Jesus even, just as he does in Disproving Christianity. This would be enough to cue the laugh track anywhere else.

Yet it looks like McAfee has supplied himself with a bunch of yes men. These are not scholars, but simply his fan base who aren’t any more educated than he is. In my interactions, I have seen the same disdain for scholarship and the abundance of presuppositional atheism. Not a shock that the idea that Jesus never even existed is right at home there. For some reason, McAfee is treated as if he is an authority of some kind.

So right now, I am really making a public challenge. I have done so on his Facebook page, but I will do so right here. If David McAfee is sure he’s right, he’s free to face me on a debate on the resurrection of Jesus.

Why should he engage me? Well he already has to an extent.

mcafee responds

You see, this is part of the modus operandi of David McAfee. He will often put up a response without showing the other side as if what was said was automatically brilliant. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to respond to my reply. McAfee says my response to the claim of 41,000 denominations was to simply ask “What’s a denomination?” This is not so. I in fact told what a denomination was. A denomination was a self-governing entity. McAfee posted up his response and while he linked to what I said earlier, but we know most people will never click the link. One thing McAfee might want to keep in mind is that if someone answers your response, it doesn’t bode well to put up your response and never return and answer them again, which of course, he never did.

I could also point out that I do happen to already have some scholarly endorsements. I am not saying all are scholars, but a number of them are. As readers of this blog know, I happen to have my own ministry and my own podcast and on my podcast, I have also interacted with the work of scholars. There are also several Ebooks of mine that are available. I have also appeared on shows like Atheist Analysis and had a debate with Ken Humphreys who runs the web site of Jesus Never Existed and one with Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica which you can download here on if Jesus rose from the dead and one on Unbelievable? where I answered the question of where was God in Haiti after the great 2010 earthquake. This in addition to being a speaker as well, such as at the New Orleans Defend The Faith 2015 Conference.

So if McAfee wants to think he has triumphed in a snippet over me, then he is welcome to come and face me in a debate. He might have an easy time surrounded by all his fans who will not give him a challenge to what he believes, but let’s see if he will be willing to face someone who does disagree with him.

The gauntlet has been cast down.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Ham/Nye Debate: Why I Don’t Care

So why did I not even bother watching the big debate? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Awhile back, I first heard the news about how Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was going to debate Bill Nye, the Science Guy. I had great frustration as soon as I heard about the debate. On Facebook after the debate, someone in apologetics I know posted asking who won. My pick obviously didn’t win, and that was the meteor shower that should have come through and knocked the satellites broadcasting it out of the sky or else the winter snowstorm that could have cancelled the whole event. I replied that I don’t know who won, but I’m sure the loser was everyone on the planet.

Yet a few people did ask me what I thought about it and wasn’t I excited about this debate. Therefore, I figured I’d write something so that those who want to know my opinion on the whole matter could see what it is and why that I hold it.

As readers know, I am an old-earth creationist. I do not hold hostility towards YEC. My ministry partner is a YEC. More importantly, my wife is a YEC. What I have a problem with is a dogmatic YEC. I in fact have just as much a problem with a dogmatic OEC. Someone is not more or less of a Christian because of their views on the age of the Earth. There are people who love Jesus more than I do who are YEC. There are people who love him more than I do who are OEC.

Having said that, part of the problem those of us who are OEC have to overcome is constantly having it be assumed that if we’re Christians, then that means that we believe in a young Earth and we don’t. Too often, YEC is presented as the biblical model. As readers know, I happen to think John Walton has the right model. My review of his book on the topic can be found here and my interview with him can be found here.

I also have another viewpoint that can be considered different from a number of Christians and that is that I do not consider the question of evolution important to Christian truth. That does not mean the question is unimportant in itself, but if you want to know if Christianity is true or not, you do not need to ask if evolution is true or not. Now if matter is all there is, then of course Christianity is not true, but because evolution is true, it does not necessitate that matter is all that there is.

In my own work, I refuse to speak on evolution as evolution and my reasoning for doing such is quite simple. I am no scientist. If evolution is to be critiqued, I believe it should be critiqued scientifically. I do not possess the necessary study and/or credentials to do that. If I fault the new atheists for speaking on philosophy, history, biblical studies, etc. without proper background and/or study, then I will follow the same pattern.

For those who do wish to critique evolution, there is no reason to bring Scripture into it. The claim of evolution is a scientific claim and if it falls, it will fall on a scientific basis. I have no problem with people critiquing evolution. I hold no position on the matter simply because I could not scientifically defend or deny evolutionary theory. It is the same reason I do not use Craig’s Kalam argument for the origin of the universe. I am not a scientist and it is not my language. I will stick to the metaphysical arguments instead.

So when I see the Ham/Nye debate, I see the perpetuating of a stereotype that I do not want perpetuated. I see it being made as again, science vs. the Bible and if you hold to the Bible, well you have to hold to a young-earth.

When we are trying to get people to become Christians, our goal should not be to get them to a viewpoint on the origins of old creation but rather on new creation. We want to get them to the risen Jesus and not to a 10,000 year old Earth. Suppose that someone believes in evolutionary theory and a 4.5. billion year old Earth, but also believes Jesus is the risen Lord. Such a person is in the Kingdom. No doubt about it.

Now on the other hand, suppose there is someone, perhaps a Jew, who will stand with Ken Ham and say that the Earth is indeed 10,000 years old and macroevolutionary theory is a fairy tale. Suppose also that this person being a Jew and not Messianic denies that Jesus is the risen Lord. Such a person is not in the Kingdom. No doubt about it.

So which one should we be emphasizing and getting people to realize the most? The age of the Earth and a stance on evolution, or should it be that we are getting them to recognize that Jesus is the risen Lord?

What we do too often is tell atheists that if you want to be a Christian, then you must deny what you are certain of by the sciences. What we also do is tell Christians that if you want to be a follower of Christ, you must believe that the Earth is 10,000 years old. Both positions I am sure will keep people away from the Kingdom.

It is my hope not that Christians will embrace evolution as I do not care about that, but that they will realize that it doesn’t matter and the ultimate hope is to realize that Jesus is the risen Lord of the universe. If you are someone who is capable of presenting every argument you can for the Earth being young, but you are unable to make an argument that Jesus is the risen Lord, then you have made a mistake somewhere along the way.

It is because it feeds a debate then that I do not support in any way that I refused to watch the Ham/Nye debate and so far, no one has given me any reason why I should.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debate Synopsis

How do I think last night went? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I had my debate last night with Matthew Ferguson. For those who want to listen to it, a link can be found here. It was certainly an interesting debate and a fast one.

I do think the numerous people who listened in and the many who have given good compliments and good ideas on how I can improve on a performance they already thought was well done. Such is an important aspect of doing any endeavor like this. There will be much time to study and review and look back.

I also will be writing when I get done with the current series that I am on more on the debate as there were several aspects that due to time restraints, I did not get to cover. As is the case with any debate, there are also aspects that need to be explained in a fuller sense and what better forum to do so than on my own personal blog?

In fact, it is one reason that I have not been doing much writing here on the front of the historical Jesus. I have not wanted to share any cards that I had, a number of which I can add the opportunity to use did not come up last night.

Overall, I am pleased with how I did. I really last night cannot think of any persuasive argument that I saw on the other side. As I am expecting, there will be people who will be supporting what I said and people who will be supporting what my opponent said. It is my hope that this will in fact inspire people on both sides to do further research into the subject matter.

My approach is also a unique one and I plan to hammer it out further in my future in working on my Master’s at North West and then eventually a PH.D.. My argument has a minimal facts approach, but I much more prefer as well to look at the idea of Jesus from a social science perspective in the climate of an honor-shame society. (As we’ll see later, this is why a comparison to Mormonism really misses the mark.)

Many people spoke to me afterwards about how this by and large depended on Carrier’s arguments. Yes. That will be looked at as well as we move further along. My thanks does still extend to everyone who was a part of the endeavor as well. I also realize this could be the first debate of many. It might be that there will be a round two perhaps three or four years or so down the line. If we both continue on our studies, I do not doubt that our paths will cross again.

So when I get done with my series on sexual ethics, readers can expect that I will be coming back to this and devoting more time to subjects I’ve been wanting to write about for the past couple of months anyway. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Debate 9/9/2013

What’s coming up today on Deeper Waters? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’s not so much what’s coming up today, but what is coming up tonight? Tonight I have a teleconference debate with Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica. Ferguson is pretty popular amongst internet skeptics and definitely is highly impressed with Richard Carrier.

This makes the whole situation far more interesting in my opinion. Whereas I think Ferguson sees himself as following in the footsteps of Carrier, I see myself as following in the footsteps of Mike Licona. As those who keep up with debates will know, Carrier and Licona have had their debates as well so this is in a way a look at what those next in line could have to say.

The topic will be if it’s reasonable or not to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. (In case you’re keeping score at home, I will be arguing that yes, it is.) Ferguson and I did have some back and forth with blog posts, but I have declined to write more on the topic of what we were discussing because simply being one who grew up a good gamer, and still has proficiency in that area, (Something my wife laments every time we try to play a Mario game together) I prefer to not play all my cards at once.

The past couple of months have been time spent with much interacting with podcasts and reading the works of highly credentialed scholars. I believe that this research will be more than sufficient to help me establish a strong case tonight.

I ask that my readers of this blog be listening and praying for me as well. If you can’t listen for some reason now, there will be a way to listen later as it is being recorded. In either case, please do be in prayer. As far as I’m concerned, this is also about spreading the Kingdom of God and presenting the reasonableness of the Christian faith to those who might be open.

It is my hopes that at least one person would be open to consider the evidence and give it another look tonight. At the same time, I want them to take a good look before they sign on the dotted line. I have often said that I do not want to go out into the world and make converts. Jesus never told us to do that. I want to make disciples. Disciples will follow a Luke 14 pattern and count the cost first and decide if they think Jesus is worth a lifelong commitment or not.

Anyway, here is what you can find on the Facebook page for the debate.

“Is there historical evidence that Jesus was resurrected from the dead? Based on what is available to us, is there more reason to believe in the resurrection or to doubt it? Matthew will be affirming the position: “It is more reasonable to doubt that Jesus resurrected from the dead.” And Nick will be affirming the position: “It is more reasonable to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead.”

The debate is being sponsored by the UCI Secular Student Alliance and the UCI Ratio Christi chapter. Neither club is endorsing a particular candidate’s position.

Listen live via teleconference: 1.559.546.1301 access code: 116676#

Matthew is a Ph.D. graduate student in Classics at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include Greek and Latin historiography, ancient biography, and the Early Roman Empire. In addition to his graduate work, Matthew runs a blog named Celsus (located at the URL adversusapologetica.wordpress.com), where he writes about issues of philosophy and early Christianity from an atheist and naturalist perspective. Matthew has written several posts on Celsus about the resurrection of Jesus, which range in their content from the problem of miracles and the historical method, Jesus’ empty tomb, and natural explanations for the origins of Christianity.

Nick Peters is a graduate of Johnson University preparing to study at North West University in South Africa to earn his Master’s in NT. He runs the blog Deeper Waters, (located at the URL DeeperWaters.wordpress.com) and hosts the Deeper Waters Podcast through BlogTalkRadio. A diagnosed Aspie, he and his wife Allie, also an Aspie, reside in Corryton and have been married for over three years. They have one cat named Shiro.”

The debate starts at 7 PM EST and will last for two hours.

I thank everyone who has helped me in preparation for this debate. I also want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way too and took the time to answer questions that I’ve had through all my years of studying. I want to thank my family for their support to me and I definitely want to thank my loving wife Allie for being the encourager who is always my biggest cheerleader.

And last of all and most important, thanks to my God who has allowed me to serve in His Kingdom, something that is both honoring and humbling. May tonight’s performance glorify Him and not me.

The link to the Facebook page can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters