Defend The Faith Day Four

What’s been going on at the Defend The Faith Conference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Well readers, I have some egg on my face. There had been some misunderstanding on our itinerary on my part and our flight back to Knoxville isn’t until tomorrow. Oh well. That meant we missed a talk so I can’t comment on that, but we did really appreciate what all else that we did get to hear.

So the first talk we heard today was from Gary Habermas dealing with doubt, this time being intellectual doubt. Of course, there was still some overlap with the emotional doubt and it mainly covered ways of thinking. He also encouraged us that when we talk we make sure that we focus on the essentials. Believe it or not, a lot of times Christians can get incredibly side-tracked by non-essential doctrines and start thinking that those belong in the center along with the resurrection.

After a lunch, we next went to hear a Tim McGrew session, naturally, where he talked about treasures new and old. This time, he was talking to us about the value of reading old books. There are many works of apologetics written in the past that are still relevant to us today. These include writers other than G.K. Chesterton, one of my favorites, as well.

After that, we went to part two of a mock debate as it were on the resurrection between Tawa Anderson who was playing the role of Bart Ehrman and Gary Habermas. I had been telling Tawa that he did a great job in his discussion on worldviews, but that I had no doubt that he was going to get his tail kicked in a debate with Gary Habermas. I was right. What makes Habermas such a formidable opponent is he also knew Ehrman’s material backwards and forwards.

We went out to a nice lunch after that with Tim McGrew, Tom Gilson, and some others at a local burger and fries joint which naturally became a time of great discussion. Tim also started teaching Allie how to do Sudokus seeing as she’s wanting to learn how to improve her thinking and showing them that they have nothing whatsoever to do with adding. It’s just logic.

The evening ended with a lecture by Paul Copan, co-author of Did God Really Command Genocide who was speaking on just that topic. This was a great talk to hear and it was interesting how many questions had to do with the interpretation of Scripture. It makes me think that this is an area that we’re going to have to work on because it seems too often that many evangelicals are letting their conclusions, such as inerrancy, sometimes drive interpretation, without realizing that if Scripture is inerrant, sound interpretation will not be a problem.

Now tomorrow is definitely the day that we are flying back, but we have had a great time at the conference and we’re so thankful to have been invited. I plan on making one final post on the importance of a conference like this tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith 2015 Day Two

What has been happening at Defend The Faith? Let’s Plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today has been an active day at the Defend The Faith conference hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We started with a talk from Tim McGrew on the evidential value of the Book of Acts, which was certainly an eye opening talk. Next we followed with a talk from Rob Bowman on the travesty of an article from Newsweek. Let’s just say that it was like using a tank to squash a slug. Again, these talks will all be online for a limited time after the conference for free so please take advantage of that time!

After a lunch, we went to hear a talk first from David Calhoun about the role that films can play in apologetics. I did realize exactly how out of the loop I am about so many great movies, excepting when the topic of Harry Potter came up seeing as I know the series very well as a fan and was able to make my own contributions at that point. There are definitely some movies I wouldn’t mind watching now.

We followed that up by going to hear Keith Loftin give a case for mind/body substance dualism. I found this one to be quite technical but quite good as well. I was surprised to see NDEs not covered well and I did ask about them which got us to discussing the research of Gary Habermas, who I must highlight because he will in fact be speaking tomorrow.

After that, many of us who are speakers got to go out to dinner together at a nice seafood restaurant. I did order a shrimp platter but there was no way I could go through all of it. Allie got herself some pasta. Meanwhile, I just got to enjoy great conversation with Rob Bowman, Rhyne Putman, Tom Gilson, Fred Smith, Tim McGrew, Bob Stewart, and so many others who were there. I considered it a real privilege. The people running this conference are so kind and generous. Allie and I have felt like honored guests.

After that, Tim and Allie and I went back to his apartment. Why? Because Tim is wanting to teach me Bayes Theorem, especially because it seems to be so misused, especially by a certain prominent blogger that is popular amongst atheists. I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me, but Tim is a really encouraging guy and takes the time to explain and says to not worry about mistakes. They will happen.

We went back to the seminary then to hear James Walker of Watchman Fellowship give a great talk on worldviews and different perspectives people hold on religion. Watchman Fellowship also has available all their profiles that they’ve written on various topics of religion available for purchase as a file you can carry on your mobile device, which could be quite helpful to get.

After that, Allie and I went back to Tim’s apartment for a little while where he had a few people there just discussing apologetics and how important it was. If only we could get more youth ministers especially to see the need imagine what a difference we could make in the world and it was wonderful to see young people really eager to know how to defend their faith.

Well that’s all it’s going to be for tonight. Allie was starting to fall asleep while we visited Tim and not because he’s boring. He’s not. It’s just because she was so tired and frankly, I am too. Tomorrow is my day to speak so I hope you all will pray for me that I will give an effective talk that will bolster up the Gospel.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith Conference Day 1

What’s going on at the Defend the Faith 2015 Conference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re noticed my presence on Facebook has been lacking lately, it’s because I’ve been at the 2015 Defend The Faith Conference in New Orleans. It’s been a big thrill for me. The only other time I’ve been west of the Mississippi was as a small child when I was visiting Memphis and we went across it just so I could say that I had been in Arkansas once.

The day started off with a great talk by Douglas Groothius. He spoke on the necessity for God in order to have a foundation for moral law in society. It relied on an essay that was actually written by the atheist Arthur Leff. The talk left us all a lot to think about including the increasing danger that is going on in a society that wants to give more and more power to the state.

After that came one of my best moments. Finally, I got to meet the one and only Tim McGrew.


Tim McGrew is the professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University. In fact, when he was introduced later this evening, it was said that he had fan boys and some people had traveled for miles just wanting to meet Tim McGrew. I turned to Allie and said I couldn’t help but wonder who would be so excited about traveling for miles to meet Tim McGrew. In the Christian Apologetics Alliance, McGrew is a legend.

Meeting him was a thrill because he is also so much of what I want to be. Do I mean all the knowledge he’s gathered over the years? Obviously. But I include in it that Tim has a great heart. He has become one of my dear friends who I can turn to when I’m in need and the investment he’s put into my own self has been stellar and I hope to be able to give back to others the way Tim has to me someday.

He and Tom Gilson gave a talk then on Peter Boghossian, quite appropriate since on Unbelievable?, Tim had massacred Boghossian’s chickens. Gilson and McGrew showed how Boghossian is trying to dissuade people with his street epistemology. I’ve written on Boghossian’s work myself. Boghossian does want an army of street epistemolgists who I have also had run-ins with. The church is blessed to have a presentation like that of Gilson and McGrew’s that shows the problems with Boghossian’s approach.

After lunch, we went to some break-out sessions. I wish I could talk about them all, but I can’t, but for those interested it is my understanding they will all be available online afterwards. The first one we went to was by Tawa Anderson. At this point, I had left every choice to my wife since I wanted to see what she’d be interested in. She made a fine first choice. It was a talk on worldview thinking and I was highly pleased to see it involve a scene from the Matrix. Worldview thinking is extremely foundational and so many people just miss it.

Next was a talk by Justin Langford. This one dealt with the topic of forgery in the NT. I have reviewed Bart Ehrman’s book as well here and here. Langford did something interesting in showing us two texts and have us guess which one was canonical. I must confess that I did not get each one right. To be fair, the first one did throw me some since I recognized Jude but knew he was quoting 1 Enoch which left me wondering a bit. We also had a good discussion on if a new book had been found and we knew it had been written by Paul should we accept it into the canon. I argued no since part of it was recognition by the church universal. Someone else answered yes. I think Langford went more for my side, but it was an interesting discussion.

Finally, we went to a talk by Tim McGrew and Tom Gilson that turned out to be about how we could do apologetics faithfully. McGrew asked us what we would like if we could have one wish that would help our ministries. I answered financial stability, which I think several people resonated with. Allie asked about how she could incorporate apologetics into her art. McGrew really liked her question and is still thinking about it.

The evening ended with McGrew giving a talk on how not to read the NT which dealt with Jesus Interrupted and yes, I have responded to that as well. McGrew gave a devastating presentation that showed that Ehrman quite frankly isn’t really honest with the data a number of times. It was quite a thrill also to have him refer to my work on Raphael Lataster. It’s a great way to see members of the body working together and building one another up.

On our way back to the hotel, we also got to ride some with James Walker of Watchman Fellowship. Expect him to show up on a future episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

Overall, we’re having a great time here in Louisiana at the conference. That’s about all I can say here. It’s getting late and I’m tired so we’re going on to bed because we have to get up early for another day of apologetics tomorrow. I have been pleased with this conference so far and I suggest if you’re interested in apologetics, try to make it out next year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian

What did I think of the debate on Unbelievable? Let’s talk about it on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

Recently on the Unbelievable podcast hosted by Justin Brierley, there was a debate between Tim McGrew and Peter Boghossian. The subject was Boghossian’s book “A Manual For Creating Atheists” which I have reviewed here. It was my high hopes that Tim McGrew, a real professor of epistemology, would be the one to expose Boghossian before a listening world.

Request granted.

Boghossian could not reply to a single source that Tim McGrew had on the meaning of faith. Boghossian defined it as “belief without evidence” or “pretending to know things you don’t know.” McGrew defined it as “trust in evidence.” All Boghossian was able to use was his “personal experience” of talking to Christians. McGrew said his experience was different. Now of course, when two people get together who have different personal experiences, then they need to look for something outside of their personal experience. McGrew went to the Oxford English Dictionary and how it shows that faith is best to be understood as trust. Boghossian could not counter this nor did he ever even attempt to. For Boghossian, he was just repeating the same refrain again and again about what he encountered.

Now I don’t doubt that there are many Christians who have a false view of faith, but is that really the way to say you’re going to go around creating atheists? Boghossian says atheism is a result of criticalthinking. Of course, if atheism is true, critical thinkers should be atheists, but that is the very premise in question. Is atheism true and you don’t say “I’m an atheist, therefore I’m a critical thinker” or “X is a Christian, therefore X isn’t practicing critical thinking” nor could the reverse apply.

McGrew points out at the end that he could not define atheists as people are ignorant about reality because they deny God exists. Now of course, if God does exist, then atheists are ignorant about reality, but that would be a terrible way to define an atheist before the debate even gets started and every atheist should rightly call McGrew on that if he does that, as McGrew himself agreed.

Boghossian also asked McGrew if he had read the Koran which no doubt gave the shocking reply of “Yes.” He went on to name other holy books that he has read. I am quite confident in my position that McGrew has read far more scholarly works that he disagrees with than Boghossian has.

Boghossian also wanted to know if the Muslims believe without evidence that Muhammad flew on a horse. McGrew rightly answered that they do not. They point to what they think is the beauty and elegance of the Koran and conclude it is a divine work and then trust it. Is that conclusion right? Of course, McGrew and Boghossian and myself don’t think so, but that does not mean that Muslims lack a reason or what they think is evidence for their claims.

This is an important distinction McGrew kept coming back to. What matters most is what one counts as evidence and what is considered reliable. One could even agree with the conclusion and disagree with the evidence presented. Suppose I meet someone who is a Christian and says they are because the Holy Spirit just told them that Jesus rose from the dead. I would really want them to have something more than that, but I cannot deny that they have reached the right conclusion.

Boghossian wanted to know about the difference between faith and hope. McGrew pointed out that faith is when you’re willing to act in a way where you’re venturing something. You can’t absolutely 100% prove something but you’re going by evidence. This is a mistake I think Boghossian doesn’t realize. He had said you needed to examine every religious worldview before you could choose one. No. You just need sufficient evidence to choose one.

For instance, if that is the case, Boghossian no doubt considers himself a macroevolutionist, yet he has said he is not an evolutionary biologist. Before siding on his worldview, is he going to go out and examine every claim of say, young-earth creationism, before he’s willing to sign on the line of evolutionary biologist? He has said he is now studying the Koran. Does that mean he chose a position on God, namely that He does not exist, before studying all the evidence?

If the only way we can reach any decision is by studying all the evidence, no one will ever conclude anything. There are always books that are going to be unread. There will be arguments unheard and in fact, arguments unanswered. What one has to say is “On the whole, which explanation best explains all the evidence.”

To get back to faith and hope again, McGrew used the illustration of sky diving with the statistic that over 99% of people who jump out of a plane while skydiving land safely. The person who jumps is still venturing something. He needs more than just “I hope my instructor packed the parachute properly.” He needs to have good reason to think it was done that way. Then he acts and that act is referred to as faith. Boghossian is right one point. Faith is not an epistemology. He’s wrong on the point that he always treats it that way and unfortunately, his whole book is built on this false premise.

Also noteworthy is Boghossian’s view on how people of faith should be treated. Faith for Boghossian should be classified as a mental disorder and a virus of the mind and the person who is trying to reason someone out of their worldview is doing an intervention. It is hard to see how Boghossian is not just outright dehumanizing his opponents. For all the talk Boghossian has about practicing doxastic openness, it looks like he needs to learn some.

This means Boghossian is a bully and in fact, one of the worst kinds of bullies. He thinks those of us who are Christians are wrong. Okay. I get that. That is not being a bully. I have several friends who think the same way. What’s next is that he thinks that we automatically have a mental illness. This is when we start getting into bigotry. If that was where it stayed, that would be bad enough, but it is not. In his own book he says to treat faith as a public health crisis. He says that there are things we cannot do obviously due to freedoms we have here, like the freedom of speech, but it is scary to think about what Boghossian would do if he had power in a country like a Muslim country or in a place like Russia where those little restrictions didn’t get in the way.

Even worse is that Boghossian is not basing this on evidence. If his interventionist strategy works so well, why did it not work here? The simple reason is Boghossian is just highly uninformed and has unfortunately convinced himself that he is right. He is engaging in what I call atheistic presuppositionalism.

This is the idea that right at the start, he is right and a critical thinker by virtue of being an atheist. If anyone else disagrees, they are obviously not engaging in critical thinking and there must be some reason why they don’t see the light. Perhaps they are “Suppressing the truth in faithfulness” or “Their eyes are blinded by a bias they do not see and they need the scales removed from their eyes.” Either way, Boghossian knows he cannot be wrong because of his personal experience with walking his life of atheism for years and because of the inner testimony of his “voice of reason.”

In fact, it’s the same for some of Boghossian’s biggest fans who just can’t bring themselves to admit that Boghossian got, as one skeptic put it, his chickens slaughtered by McGrew. A sad example of such a fan who cannot seem to accept this reality can be seen here and you can see my comments to him on the blog.

Boghossian has strangely enough said he’s interested in a round two. We would like to see it, but it is certainly clear that Boghossian is going to have to improve his game dramatically before he steps into the ring again with McGrew. Perhaps it would help if Boghossian practiced more doxastic openness and avoided his idea of “Avoid facts.” For now, all he has his personal testimony while McGrew and those like him have data from scholarly sources. Therefore, by Boghossian’s own standards, Boghossian should be sitting at the kid’s table until he can bring forward some facts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: True Reason

What do I think of Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.


True Reason is being released today as a response to several of the new atheists. Why? Because the new atheists have championed themselves as the heroes of reason and as a result of reason, they’re atheists, and those who are reasonable will also be atheists.

Yet as I have observed, those same atheists making that claim are usually guilty of the greatest crimes against reason. This was best exemplified to me recently when a street epistemologist on Peter Boghossian’s Facebook page was asked if she’d read any books on logic and she replied by naming the new atheists that she had read.

This also consists in what I call “The Jesus Allergy” where atheists are afraid to admit anything whatsoever could be true in Scripture or that there could be anything good about religion or that intelligent people can be within their epistemic rights while being Christians. Want to see this best shown? Look at how many atheists are Christ-mythers. Even those who aren’t can often say that a reasonable case can be made that Jesus never existed.

No. No it can’t.

True Reason is meant to expose this. Now to be sure, this is a volume that I think is meant to be an introduction to people who are not familiar with the apologetics world. For those of us who have been in it for years, there won’t be much new here, but there will be a new formatting of it and a new presentation.

The book certainly has its range of excellent authors. William Lane Craig, David Wood, Sean McDowell, David Marshall, Matthew Flannagan, and Tim McGrew, for instance, each have their own say in it. There are also several chapters by people that you might not have heard of, which is fine to me because I think the apologetics community does need to promote from within.

Many of the chapters do cover subjects that I am pleased are being discussed. Slavery in the OT, for instance, is not often addressed in apologetics books. Flannagan’s chapter on the genocides of the OT will be extremely helpful as well. I enjoyed as well Tim McGrew and David Marshall’s chapter on the history of reason in Christianity and I appreciated that Marshall had a chapter devoted entirely to John Loftus’s “Outsider Test for Faith.”

There are areas I would like to see some more on for another edition of the book.

I think despite it being absolutely bunk, there needs to be a section on Christ-myth thinking and why historians and scholars view it as a joke. That could be a good focus on Richard Carrier and Robert Price. The Christ-myth idea is I think one of the greatest examples of the lack of reason in the new atheist movement.

I also think that since the new atheists target Christianity, we need a chapter on the central claim, the resurrection. There is one on the reliability of the NT overall, but we need something that is devoted to solely defending the resurrection and answering criticisms of it.

Yet since this one is also engaging several apologists together and some of them being new, I think that gives readers plenty of places to go to and I encourage that. We need to be building up others and it’s excellent to see noted names in the field working with names that haven’t been as well established yet, but are well on their way.

If there is someone out there who is wanting a good case against the new atheists claim to be the bearers of reason, I recommend this one. It will be a good start to demonstrating that the emperor truly has no clothes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/20/2013 Tim McGrew!

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it!

I am quite excited about this podcast! Our prior guest had to cancel and will be back later, but right now, our guest is going to be Tim McGrew! Tim McGrew is a name more of you should know! He is one of the most brilliant men I have ever met, yet incredibly humble and an excellent friend!

Tim McGrew will be talking to us about many various topics. In fact, we’re not entirely settled on what it will be since it was last minute, but he is a storehouse of information in many different fields! These includes Bayes Theorem, historicity of the gospels, epistemology, etc. (I’ve also learned recently that this includes Star Wars, much to my shock)

Tim McGrew is also an advocate of reading the old books, and there are times I wonder if there are any that he hasn’t read! It is important to take our modern times and have them tampered by reading the works that came before us. What is often unrealized by many modern skeptics was that their charges were already answered, usually a century earlier!

McGrew also favors undesigned coincidences. These are ways that one detail given by one gospel writer coincides wonderfully by providing missing details of another writer, and in ways that most likely were not planned! In each case, it lends more credibility to the gospel accounts.

Tim is also one of the most prominent members of the Christian Apologetics Alliance, a well-known group on Facebook, and if you’re wanting to study apologetics and you’re on Facebook, it should be a group that you belong to! We could talk with him about that as well!

What about the traditional authorship of the gospels that Bart Ehrman argues against? Tim McGrew would like to get a chance to take that on as well! He has not been as impressed with Ehrman as a number of our skeptics. I have been assured that McGrew will be polite, but he will by no means be gentle.

And what about mythicists like Richard Carrier and others? For these, McGrew finds their position completely ludicrous and he wants to say something about Carrier as well, which could definitely include his ideas about the usage of Bayes Theorem. If anyone is an authority on this, it is McGrew.

Friends. This really will be an astounding show and Tim McGrew is something you definitely want to know about. I hope you will be as impressed with him as I am and especially come to appreciate his love for Christ and concern for the well-being of the apologetics community. I am pleased not only that Tim McGrew is my guest, but also that he is my friend.

Call in number will be 714-242-5180! The link can be found here. The show will air on the 20th from 3-5 PM EST and I invite you to be ready with your call in question for Tim Mcgrew! I look forward to having you in my audience!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Secondhand Information

Would you let someone chew your food for you? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

On Facebook, I’m part of a discussion group between Muslims and Christians. It is not because I am an expert in Islam. I’m not. It’s because I was asked to come and defend the NT, and that is what I do. Hence, I do not make comments about the Quran generally (Other than that it denies the crucifixion) or about specific Muslim doctrines. I don’t because I don’t know them. There are people who do. Let them do that.

Unfortunately, that is not a two way street.

One of the great benefits in the internet age is that there is a world of information at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, one of the great curses in the internet age is that there is a world of information at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.

How does this work? Let’s give an example. My ministry partner makes YouTube videos. Now I know the reasons in the videos he makes quite well, but I think the videos are an entertaining and informative way of expressing the ideas. Therefore, I can sometimes link someone to a video and if we want to discuss it, then it is discussed.

On the other hand, I can be talking to a Muslim who tells me that the Bible has been changed. I start asking him about textual criticism. At one point I can say something like “Do you know what a gloss is?” only to receive the question “Gloss?” In other words, the idea has never been thought of before.

What happens? Instead, a video is put up with a Muslim authority talking about how the Bible has been “changed.” For the sake of argument, let’s suppose it has been changed. Here’s the problem. I would be wrong then in my defense of it, but my opponent not knowing the subject matter is really unable to talk about it. If I am wrong, he has no way of demonstrating it. If I am right, he has no way of refuting it. Instead, there is just blind reliance on the authority. Most shown in this is the remark I got of “I can’t read the whole book on textual criticism.” (Yes. I recommended a book. How dare me recommend books.)

A topic like this requires a quote from Dr. Tim McGrew, head of the Christian Apologetics Alliance.

“One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may at best be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition.”

He’s right entirely. This is why in our day and age discarded theories have come back with a vengeance as people treat old ideas that were thrown out as if they were new. It is as if we were rummaging through someone’s garbage and found an old black and white television and treated this as if it was the latest invention.

The internet is the place of zombies as dead ideas constantly arise to receive new life.

Now of course, most of our information comes from other sources, but if we want to learn it, we must do the necessary research. There are excellent sources online, but you need to know how to sift through those sources and find what is true. Who does that podcast you listen to? Who runs that web site? Who produced that YouTube video? This is much easier with books.

Also, most scholars will not put their work out there for free. They will make you pay for it, and who can blame them? They worked hard to get it to you. Why should they receive nothing for their work? This will require time on your part as well. I find it incredible how many people just can’t be bothered to read books these days.

If you do link to a source, make sure you know something about the source. If you don’t, you lower yourself as you will be embarrassed even if you don’t realize it. You will also be insulting your own opponents as if telling them that your doing a web search is equivalent to their reading of books for years.

Besides, if you are sure your position is true, what do you have to fear from reading the opposition? If it is not, you have the blessing of getting to change a view that is no longer true. It is a win-win situation either way. You will either be more informed in what you hold to be a true view for now, or you will abandon a view that is false.

Either way, you must make sacrifices. As McGrew has told me, you cannot exercise by watching someone else do push-ups. If you want to argue like an authority, study to become one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters