When Your Enemy Suffers

What do you do when your opponent suffers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Proverbs 24: 17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

I was about to write out another blog on the next chapter of Bradley’s book when I saw the news shared in the thread on it at theologyweb.com. Bradley died earlier this year at 91. I had to pause some at that one.

Do I like Bradley’s book? No. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist material, but this one just seems same-old, same-old and is a real disappointment. My reading through Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture is at least engaging. If anything, I find reading Bradley embarrassing as he thinks he knows what he’s talking about when really he doesn’t and pulls out the same old tripe arguments that have been answered multiple times before.

However, I still had sadness when I saw this. My longing at the time and my personal prayer was that he somehow managed to get a bit of grace before he died that he turned to the Lord he had shunned throughout his adult life. Do I know that this happened or have any strong evidence? No, but a man can hope.

I have at least two vivid memories of the opposite happening in my past. One time was when Stephen Jay Gould passed away. I was on America Online then and I remember being in the chat room and hearing the people speak who were vocal creationists, whether YEC or OEC I don’t know, and saying things like “You think it’s hot where he is right now?”

Whatever your doctrine of Hell, this is something that should never be said. People who hold to conditional immortality and people who hold to eternal conscious torment should all agree on one thing. It is a tragedy when people go to Hell. We would all like in some way for universalism to be true, but I fear that it isn’t. I found it just awful thinking that some people were practically gloating that their enemy was in Hell. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, they would be too and frankly, I didn’t see a lot of that grace there.

The other incident was on PALtalk when the Pope had died. Now I do not believe Catholics are outside of the grace of God. Some people do. Let’s suppose that’s true. Even if it is, should you have the attitude that these people did that the Pope busted Hell wide open, as I remember hearing? That should be a cause of sorrow for you.

In the causes of justice, I think some exceptions can be made I was on PALtalk again when someone messaged me about Saddam Hussein’s sons being found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” In a sense, it is good in that they will not be able to bring about evil on this Earth anymore. In another sense though, it is sad, because now they are quite likely in a place of dark eternity where there is no escape.

The Bible does show times of celebration when the enemies are defeated, but let us make sure we are celebrating first that God acted according to His covenant and provided justice and relief and secondly, that their evil is no longer being done. If we act like we are pure and innocent and don’t deserve judgment, we’re asking for it.

As a divorced man, I have to watch myself with this. I do have times of anger every now and then, but they are rare. If anything, for my ex-wife, I pray for her well-being and blessing. I don’t know where exactly she is right now. I do not check. I do not search.

Am I saying she is my enemy? In a sense, she did hurt me deeper than anyone else ever has and she has spread untruths about me claiming that I abused her, but I don’t like to think about her that way. I prefer to see her as someone who is hurt and confused and needs to come to grips with her own issues. I prefer to think that nothing was done out of a malicious attempt to hurt me even though that is what happened.

After all, I have my own sins that God could call me to account for if He wanted to. Forgiveness was not owed to me. Now God did promise He would forgive, but it was conditional on that I repented. Had I never done that, God had no obligation to forgive and indeed I have no reason to think He would. Every moment I spend in a blessed eternity with Him will be a gift of grace. There will never be a time in my existence when I am not dependent on that grace.

I hope Dr. Bradley somehow came to Christ in his final moments before he passed on. God will do what is right and no one will say it wasn’t fair, but I can hope. May I live with grace and forgiveness to my own personal enemies throughout my life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Death Of A Reputation

How will you be remembered? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This morning I woke up and saw on Facebook my memories and what do I see? I see right off the memory of the death of Ravi Zacharias. This was two years ago today.

In the past, I really admired Ravi. When I first got into apologetics, something about his approach and intellectual reasoning was compelling to me. I am sure when I first heard him, his voice was a big draw as he spoke in a way that to me sounded very informed.

I met him a number of times and he knew me well. Ravi was one of the most popular apologists of our time. There was even one time when I tried to get a job at RZIM. Looking back now, I am thankful that that did not happen.

As many of you know, after Ravi’s death, a firm that had been hired by RZIM investigated Ravi and found that he had a horrid secret life. In this life, he sexually violated many many women. I remember reading the report about it late at night and I almost had to stop reading because I felt like I was going to be sick.

Nowadays when I talk with people about him, it’s always a shame. We sometimes discuss if he really died as a Christian or not. I honestly don’t know. The fact that I even say that I find very saddening.

There was a time in one of his talks I heard somewhere on CD where a lady went to see him who was skeptical of Christianity. On the way back, this lady was asked by the person driving her, “What did you think?” To this, she answered, “I wonder what his private life is like.” Unfortunately, we now know.

Ravi did his indiscretions multiple times, but unfortunately for many of us, it only really takes one time. Someone in ministry can have one affair and that shuts down everything. All it can take is one moment of weakness and before too long, the end has come to one’s reputation.

Some of you can think I am extreme in my ways in which I react around women to make sure I don’t fall into that trap. There’s a reason for that. Now that I am a single man again, I realize the temptation all the more. Not only that, I regularly have to give an explanation for my divorce whenever I go anywhere. Many of us who have gone down this path often are upset that it gets treated like the unforgivable sin.

Ravi now sadly is a reminder of how a life can go downhill so easily. Not only that, many of us think about Ravi, myself included, and it’s easy to forget the true sorrow here, the numerous women that he violated. Odds are, we will never know their names, but many of them will have their impression of Christianity damaged by this man and could thus be cut off from the truest healing that they need.

Watch your reputation, especially when it comes to sex, the number one area it seems that we fall at. There are many a skeptic of Christianity who does at least admire the character of Jesus in the Gospels. Bart Ehrman even says that Jesus is still one of his heroes. We are to live a life like that such that even if our opponents disagree with us intellectually, they could hopefully admit that we do practice what we preach truly.

When your times comes, live such that you will be remembered with sadness that you’re gone and appreciation for how well you lived. It’s natural to wonder what happened when Ravi stood before God. It’s better to ask us what will happen when we do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Culture of Fear

What do I think of Barry Glassner’s book published by Basic Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This was an interesting listen done through Audible as I agreed with the overarching thesis that we live in a culture of fear, but I disagreed with much of the terrible argumentation for it. Glassner can often be incredibly contradictory in how he uses data. He will take anecdotes while condemning anecdotes. He will talk about how the media regularly misuse information to put fear into the populace but balk when Trump says the media is the enemy of the people. He will talk about how crime is down so much in America and then point to one of his favorite issues on how we have to get guns off the streets.

When I read this, I was hoping to get not just information on fake fear that terrorizes people, but why it is people are so easily put into a state of fear and I didn’t get that. My personal philosophy has been to never get caught up in a fear craze. When Covid started, I heard some of the first data about people on the cruise ship and how even without a lot of information on the virus, the majority if not all of them made a full recovery. I resolved to not live my life in fear of this virus.

From the start, I did not approve of the lockdowns and I did not support the wearing of masks. My thinking has been that the more we feed fear, the stronger the hold it will be that it has on us. Looking back now, I do not regret any of those decisions.

There are some aspects of Glassner’s presentation that I agree with. I definitely agree with him when he talks about the fear of flying that we have in our country. Plane crashes are spread all across the news when they happen, but little is said about the multiple car accidents that claim many more lives every day. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than you are in a plane crash.

Unfortunately, while there are a few times Glassner goes after liberals in his talking, most of his time is spent going after conservatives. He definitely pulls out all the guns he can when he goes after Donald Trump later on and it’s all the usual stuff that conservatives have heard for years. Glassner has carefully chosen what it is that we should be afraid of in his mind and what we should not be.

Worried about teenage mothers getting pregnant? Don’t be. Listen to this interview of these two girls who are teenagers and want to be mothers soon on the Ricki Lake show. There. Isn’t that better? Talk about climate change? We’re going to all die in twelve years! (As AOC said) Nope. Not a peep about that being fearmongering.

I hope to find a better work on the fear hysteria that we get caught up in, but until then, take my simple advice. Don’t get caught up in the spirit of the age. If all the media is panicking about something, don’t join in. There were people who died of conditions that were treatable because they were scared to go to the hospital and get treated because of Covid scares. Fear can be helpful sometimes, but in a mass population, it can easily reach hysteria.

Don’t go that route.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 3

Does God deserve to die? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I keep going through this book, Bradley often looks less and less like an academic and more and more like that little fundamentalist boy who is on a rant. He starts off this chapter with a reference from H.L. Mencken on gods who were omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal, and all are dead now. You can see the list here.

It’s important to note that he says that they are theoretically the attributes I listed. In reality, they were not. That’s a big difference. Many of these gods were limited to one people group and were part of a polytheistic system and thus NOT the omni-qualities. Of course, we could replace the idea of gods with scientific theories and I could say “Look how many theories were believed by so many people in the past and today, they’re dead!” Would that be accepted? No, nor should it. What we have to ask is why these deities “died” and why the deities of religions like the big three monotheisms and various polytheisms live.

Bradley goes on to tell us that supernaturalism is dead. Outside of religious belief, it lives only in those who believe in ghosts, poltergeists, and the like. He refers to these people as credulous. Nothing like poisoning the well is there? Supernaturalism isn’t defined to which I refer the reader to my article on that term.

We can at least be relieved to see that he says that atheism is a term used to describe someone who does not believe in a god, any god. Unfortunately, he goes on from there to use the argument of religious believers being atheists with many gods. He just goes one god further.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. You all believe there are many people in this courtroom who did not commit the murder. I just ask that you look at my client and go one person further!”

He also speaks of a god who tortures non-believers in the fires of Hell. Once again, this is a fundamentalist child on a rant. Most of us trying to take the text as it was intended do not speak of a fiery Hell but rather see that as language of judgment and of shame.

He does say naturalism can be shown to be false. What’s the way to do it? Picture a global apocalypse happening such as how Bradley sees the book of Revelation and that could be evidence. This tells us Bradley is not open to argument demonstrating that theism is true. He will only accept an experience, all the while giving a book of arguments hoping theists will change their mind. Isn’t it interesting? The theist is the one in Bradley’s world who is responsive to evidence and the atheist the one who is responsive to an experience. Who knew?

He asks that if a new problem shows up in the world such as a new virus, where do you put your money? Well, since that is a problem relating to matter specifically and the material world, yes, I look for a scientific solution. What about when it comes to the character of scientists and everyone else for that matter? I look for a theistic solution to that. I see no reason to think science itself has improved our moral character.

It’s not a shock that he brings up the myth of 38,000 denominations in Christianity. Unfortunately, he never really has studied the source for this. Even a Catholic apologist recognizes the problem with it as can be seen here. Bradley is still a fundamentalist who now blindly believes from the other side parallel claims he used to blindly believe as a Christian.

He also says the Bible is supposed to be God’s autobiography. I have no idea where that came from. Was this what he was actually taught?

He naturally talks about literalism and asks that if a passage was meant to be interpreted figuratively, why not put them in an innocuous allegory form in the first place. Yes. It would be absolutely awful to think you have to study the book and actually learn about it. These are the same people that accuse us of wanting easy answers and being anti-intellectual.

He tries to show that the stele referring to David is not what it is thought to be since there are no vowels in the Hebrew script so it might not refer to David, which is very much grasping at straws, and some archaeologists think it’s a forgery. If this is true, he does not tell us who they are. Of course, things get even better when we move to Jesus.

We have the usual questions. Why don’t we know exact dates of events of his life? (Despite us having very good ideas about those claims like we do for many people in the ancient world and of course, it’s ludicrous to think historians of the time would treat a supposedly failed Messiah the way they did the emperor on the throne.) Why didn’t anyone else mention the slaughter of the infants like Josephus? (Why should we think Josephus tells us everything Herod did and a slaughter of a dozen or so infants would be par for the course for Herod.) Why were tales of His life told decades after His death? (Like they were for most everyone else in the ancient world.) Why didn’t He write His own autobiography? (Which hardly anyone did. Most great teachers didn’t even write down their teachings but left it to their students.) Why didn’t any historians of the time write about this God-man? (See my article on why Jesus is not worth talking about here.) Why is He based on so many pagan myths of dying and rising gods? (Because He isn’t as even Bart Ehrman shows in his book Did Jesus Exist?)

He then says he has asked this to several and never got a satisfactory answer. Considering how Bradley acts though, I am not surprised. I consider Jesus Himself could come down from Heaven, smack Bradley in the face, tell him the answers, and Bradley would write it off as a delusion.

He assures us that he is not being eclectic in raising these questions. He then points to his supposed long line of mythicists. I am sure Strauss would be surprised to find himself in that company. He then refers to the prolific D.M. Armstrong Aka Acharya.

Seriously?

Then it ends with a long list of the supposed moral crimes of God in the Bible. If anyone goes through this, just search this blog and you can find many of these addressed. I am more convinced that Bradley does not spend any time really interacting with biblical scholarship. This is a problem. While points Bradley makes in other areas could be valid, I hesitate to trust him because of how shoddy his argumentation is with accepting the great myths of atheism. It should always be remembered that if you want to convince someone, you have to use evidence they will find persuasive and understand that they think their worldview is true. Failing to learn and understand it will only hurt your approach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

How To Play A Game?

How do you win in a game? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As long as I can remember, I have been playing games. I am now 41 years old and I am still an avid gamer. If you are playing a game against someone else, and I don’t care what it is, there is a rule to follow. You could play a board game like Monopoly, Chess, or Connect Four. You could play a card game like Uno or Poker. You could play a sporting event like baseball or football. You could play a video game as simple as Pong or more like Halo or Smash Brothers. How can one rule apply to all of these? It can easily.

Be aware of how your opponent can respond to you.

It’s really that simple. This would even work in a real-life dangerous situation. Before the military goes in somewhere, I guarantee you they prepare for any counter-responses that could happen. The police are prepared for as many contingencies they can think of before approaching the suspect’s residence.

So now let’s talk about Raymond Bradley, author of God’s Gravediggers. One saying he has in chapter 3 is about Christian philosophers who hold to inerrancy. I do plan on reviewing the whole chapter, but this one quote is worthwhile.

“Are these guys serious? What would be their line when confronted by 2 Chronicles 4:2, which gives a false value for the mathematical constant pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter)? What would they say about countless inconsistencies the Bible contains? For example, between 2 Samuel 24:1, which says the Lord commanded King David to “number the people of Israel”, and 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says it was Satan, not the Lord, who issued the command. What account would they give of scientific absurdities such as that of a six-day creation, the fixity of species, and the world-wide flood, an event that some biblical genealogists calculate as occurring on the 27 February 2267 BCE, an event that, as Australian geologist Ian Plimer points out, was “spitefully” ignored by the Egyptians of the time? I simply don’t know what answers these notable theistic philosophers would give. They proclaim inerrancy as a general doctrine without considering its specific applications. They preach it from their pulpits yet ignore it in their philosophical writings. Yet where inconsistencies abound, so does falsity; for at least one of each inconsistent pair must be false.”

Let’s even go through these.

How about pi? Hint: If you can find something answered on a google search, don’t use it. I have no reason to think Purple Math is a Christian site, but even if it is, this is still an answer to this kind of question. Just take a look.

In the case of Chronicles and Samuel, I actually don’t think Satan refers to the being, but rather the word means an adversary. In both cases, God used an adversary to rise against David such that he wanted to count his army to prepare for battle. You may not think that is true, but it is an answer and even a potential answer is enough to refute the idea that something is a contradiction.

The Genesis information all assumes that everyone holds to a YEC worldwide flood account. I don’t. I would hope many YECs would even accept that there are Christians who disagree and are simply trying to be faithful to what they think the text and other data indicates.

The only complex one is the Exodus. Well first off, nations would have a tendency to not want to report their slaves getting the best of them. There is also material available like here.

Now here’s the thing. If Bradley were debating me and he says “I have no idea how he would answer these” and I pull up these responses, Bradley has to come up with something on the fly. Odds are, it will not be convincing. Why? Because he doesn’t know what I really think.

That is the main issue here. I could be wrong in everything I said, which I don’t think, but even if I am, I at least do have a response. I would also need to anticipate what he could say in response to this.

However, if Bradley has no idea how anyone would reply, he really shouldn’t be arguing. Not only that, it tells me he hasn’t really looked at the material. These objections are not new. They have been debated back and forth for centuries. Even the rabbis and early church, for example, debated how to read Genesis.

If you are a skeptic of Christianity then, you need to read Christian books to argue against Christians. “Well, I think all that stuff is stupid!” Okay. You might think the material is stupid and no rational person could believe it. Your opponent thinks otherwise and not only that, the people who agree with him think so and if they can tell you don’t know what they believe well, they won’t take you seriously. When I encounter someone who espouses Jesus mythicism or the pagan copycat thesis, I know to not take them seriously. (That includes Bradley.)

You see, Bradley does have a doctorate, but I notice when he argues against what I believe, he treats mythicism like a serious contender. Since I have studied this and know that that’s nonsense, I am less inclined to take his argument seriously in other areas because I have to wonder about the research he did. This is shown further to me when the first time he gives the cosmological argument, he first phrases it claiming that everything that exists has a cause. No serious defender of the argument has ever treated it that way.

I have hammered the skeptics today, but Christians do the same thing. Many of you are incredibly skeptical of evolution for example, which is fine, but I am sure that the staunchest YEC scholar would agree with me on this. If you argue against evolution without studying it to someone who has studied it, you will make embarrassing mistakes and they won’t take you seriously. Why should they?

This is also why you should be careful sharing information online that you haven’t checked on. Imagine you share a story about a political event that your opponent can see is a hoax with just a couple of minutes of research. Then you tell them that you believe God raised someone from the dead 2,000 years ago? They can’t answer that in a couple of minutes, but if they saw you false on the simple matter, why spend all the time on the deeper one?

Don’t be like that.

If Bradley then is in a debate sometime and pulls out weak objections and gets tough replies back, only two words need be said.

Game over.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Personal Update

What’s going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those of you who might not follow me on Facebook, I wanted to give a personal update. Some of you might suspect this is about the divorce, but no, it is only in a tangential way about the divorce. One thing I decided early on was I was not going to be a victim. I could lie down and be bitter and mourn, but that would do me nothing.

Keep in mind I am not denying there was no mourning at all. There was and that is good and healthy. There were and are a lot of painful emotions to work through. Even to this day, the divorce hits me hard on some level everyday and I notice ways that I am different as a result, such as I do tend to be much less trusting of people nowadays. After all, someone who made a major promise to me shattered that promise.

One night in talking to some friends on Facebook Messenger, I remember somehow the suggestion coming up about how I could continue my education as well. I have gone down that path and I do have a job where I am earning money, even though I do not like it, and I have been saving up. I am still quite hopeful to get scholarships, but I have completed an application process.

My pastor told me that since I attend a Southern Baptist Church, which I found through DivorceCare, that my tuition would be automatically reduced if I attended a Southern Baptist Seminary. I asked him for a list and saw that New Orleans Baptist was on the list. I knew a number of people down there and their strong apologetics focus so that meant my path was decided easily.

I believe it was a week ago today that I got the news that I have been accepted. I was also told that I would get my degree faster, which is the goal, if I were to move down to New Orleans myself. Right now, I am trying to do all I can to find out about employment, a church home, scholarships, and where I will live on campus.

So this update is also a request to those who want to contribute to this cause and have supported me on this journey and want to keep supporting me. I think the only furnishing in the apartments they have is a desk, so no doubt, I will need much of my own furniture so someone who is local and has something they want to donate, that would be fine. As I said, I have been saving money, and I am frugal, but I do not know for sure about scholarships entirely and there are living expenses.

My apartment will be one that is pet-friendly. My cat is a non-negotiable as he has been my companion for about a decade now and I refuse to leave him behind, especially since now I am the only person he truly trusts completely. He has been abandoned by enough people in his life and I’m not going to be one of them. However, I will be paying for vet care for him and other such necessities. If they have a Banfield down there, great, as I am part of their program. If not, I will have to do something else.

Of course, there’s other needs. I don’t know if the apartments include coverage of electricity, internet, water, etc. at this point. There is health and dental and vision insurance. There is auto insurance. I also have to keep up my cell phone and groceries and other living expenses.

While I am seeking employment down there, the ideal would be able to have enough coming in that I can do full-time ministry work. That way I can do all the work for my classes easily and I would be thrilled to get the podcast up and running again and have more time for writing ebooks. I also would like to be able to pay someone who can help me make YouTube videos.

At this point, I do receive a good number of donations, but the more that come in, the easier it gets for me. There are two ways you can donate. You can regularly donate through Patreon. That can be found here. You can also contact Mike and Debbie Licona and ask how you can donate in a tax-deductible means for me.

My plan for now is to be working on a Master’s in Philosophy first. I plan on focusing on my Thomism and learning how to better defend the existing of God and the reality of miracles. While doing that, I will continue learning Greek as I have a New Testaments scholar friend who teaches me and if I find someone there who can teach me in person, all the better. Then when I get both of those taken care of, I plan to do a PhD on the New Testament on the topic of the resurrection of Jesus.

Even if the semester hasn’t started yet, I plan to move down there as soon as I can. I want to get settled in, work at a good church if possible, make new friends, and I have no objections if I find a special lady down there who wants to partake of the journey with me. Thank you all for your support and prayers in this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 2

Do gods have to compete? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re returning to God’s Gravediggers and looking at chapter 2 on the logical rivalry of the gods. Now Bradley’s main area is philosophy. You would hope that a professor of philosophy would give you something worthwhile. Sadly, that is not the case.

Naturally, you have the whole idea that how can people just believe the religion they were born in happens to be the right one? Well, if a religion is right, then some people will be born into it, and yes, they will be born into the right one. However, you don’t see any interaction with anything like Muslims that are regularly having dreams and visions of Jesus and becoming Christians despite growing up and living in Middle Eastern countries.

There’s also the talk about religion being the cause of war when usually more often, religion becomes an excuse for war. Of course, religion can’t be as peaceful as atheism which never leads to destruction, unless you count Stalin, Mao, and Pol-Pot. I do not count Hitler as an atheist, but I also don’t think World War II was a religious war as in followers of one religion against another.

There is the mention of Pascal’s Wager which is badly misunderstood. It’s a shame that the wager seems to be about the only thing anyone remembers of Pascal. Pascal is giving an argument along the lines of the person who is sitting on the fence between atheism and Christianity. He’s suggesting you try to live out Christianity and see how it works out for you. He’s not talking about someone who is unsure if any religion is true and wants to investigate several of them.

Now after all of this, he does give an interesting lesson on logic and validity and soundness and other such matters. There is little if anything here that is objectionable. If anything, a number of atheists could be helped by getting a crash course in logic.

Unfortunately, then we get back and we get Hume with his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. I will quote the section that Bradley quotes in its totality:

“I may add as a fourth reason, which diminishes the authority of prodigies, that there is no testimony for any, even those which have not been expressly detected, that is not opposed by an infinite number of witnesses; so that not only the miracle destroys the credit of testimony, but the testimony destroys itself. To make this the better understood, let us consider, that, in matters of religion, whatever is different is contrary; and that it is impossible the religions of ancient Rome, of Turkey, of Siam, and of China should, all of them, be established on any solid foundation. Every miracle, therefore, pretended to have been wrought in any of these religions (and all of them abound in miracles), as its direct scope is to establish the particular system to which it is attributed; so has it the same force, though more indirectly, to overthrow every other system. In destroying a rival system, it likewise destroys the credit of those miracles, on which that system was established; so that all the prodigies of different religions are to be regarded as contrary facts, and the evidences of these prodigies, whether weak or strong, as opposite to each other. According to this method of reasoning, when we believe any miracle of Mahomet or his successors, we have for our warrant the testimony of a few barbarous Arabians: And on the other hand, we are to regard the authority of Titus Livius, Plutarch, Tacitus, and, in short, of all the authors and witnesses, Grecian, Chinese, and Roman Catholic, who have related any miracle in their particular religion; I say, we are to regard their testimony in the same light as if they had mentioned that Mahometan miracle, and had in express terms contradicted it, with the same certainty as they have for the miracle they relate. This argument may appear over subtile and refined; but is not in reality different from the reasoning of a judge, who supposes, that the credit of two witnesses, maintaining a crime against any one, is destroyed by the testimony of two others, who affirm him to have been two hundred leagues distant, at the same instant when the crime is said to have been committed.”

The whole of this is that every religion seems to have miracles and these miracles contradict one another and thus rule them all out. However, this is simply false. What if I said, “In studying biological evolution on the origin of life, every scientist has a different theory and all these theories are used to argue against the other theories and so no theory is true.” You can be a Christian who fully disbelieves in evolution and still see that as highly invalid.

“Gentlemen of the jury. We have seen many theories put forward today to explain the crime. All of them contradict one another, so there is no reason to believe that my client committed the crime.”

Not only that, but let’s look closer and especially at the big three, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Judaism would certainly want to deny some miracles of Jesus, like the resurrection, if not all miracles, and Islam does acknowledge the miracles of Jesus and many in Judaism, but not the resurrection and sees Muhammad as the final prophet, but Muhammad did no miracles. It is only in the hadiths years later that we have any miracles.

Meanwhile, Christians have no problems with the miracles in the Old Testament and since there are no miracles in Islam in the life of Muhammad, we really have no problem there. We just look at the evidence for Islam and problems in the Qur’an. We also still have the very positive case for the resurrection.

So thus far, color me unpersuaded by Hume’s observations.

Now it should be acknowledged that a general theism can be held by all the religions. In the Middle Ages, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim philosophers could all use arguments like Aristotelian ones to argue for the existence of a deity with such and such attributes. Knowing which deity it is would come down to personal revelation. Not a single one of the five ways of Aquinas establishes Christianity, but they do establish theism and thus refute atheism and they are consistent with Christianity, but also with Judaism and Islam. If one faults the argument for not proving Christianity, then one is faulting an argument for not proving what it was never meant to prove.

He then goes on to talk about the resurrection. Please do not be drinking anything as you read this:

“Did the Resurrection occur? Of course, the question itself rests on the presupposition that Jesus actually lived: he can’t have been resurrected unless he’d been alive beforehand. And some might question that. But suppose one grants this contentious presupposition. Then someone intent on exploring the credentials of this belief may be dismayed to find that the four Gospels provide different, and inconsistent, stories of the Resurrection; that those stories were unmentioned by, and apparently unknown to, early Church Fathers until well into the second century A.D.; that there are no independent and well-authenticated records of Jesus ever having lived, let alone having died and having risen from the grave; or, again, that many of the earliest Christians of whom we do have an authentic historical record, the so-called Docetists, whose views held sway from 70 C.E. to 170 C.E., regarded Jesus as having always been nothing but an apparition, a spirit without any physical body that could die or therefore be resurrected.”

Bradley, Raymond. God’s Gravediggers: Why no Deity Exists (pp. 69-70). Ockham Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Sorry, but only on the internet is there really any contention that Jesus lived. I am sure Bradley would be horrified if I said about a scientific argument, “This assumes that evolution is true, but suppose one grants this contentious presupposition.” Unfortunately for him, that is the exact way mythicism sounds. Not only this, but he pays no attention to Paul in 1 Corinthians, where most scholars go to today to argue the resurrection, does not look at any Gospel scholarship for those who want to go that route, and gives no indication from the Church Fathers on the beliefs of early Christians that he claims.

He later asks why a resurrection proves that one is divine. Didn’t Lazarus rise in the Gospels and many when Jesus died in Matthew 27? Even accepting both of those for the sake of argument, no one ever said because someone rises from the dead, they are divine. It is first the nature of the resurrection of Jesus, as He rose to never die again, but also that His resurrection was based on the claims that He was making about Himself and who He said He was. The resurrection was God’s vindication of Jesus’s claims about His own identity. It would behoove Bradley to read some N.T. Wright. At least he could be better informed in his disagreement.

Bradley also uses an analogy of a horse race. Suppose you have reason to believe the race has been rigged so that the horse you are betting on will win. Unfortunately, everyone else has that same position and the majority disagree with you, so you’re probably wrong.

If Bradley thinks this is an effective argument, why is he an atheist? After all, the majority of people alive and who have ever lived have not been atheists and so it would seem the preponderance of the evidence is that atheism is false. In reality, we could say easily that most any position on most subjects is wrong. In the ancient world, the majority of people thought there was no problem with slavery. If Bradley traveled back in time to that era, should he just accept he is wrong if he disagrees?

Bradley then asserts that a diligent inquiry into matters will show that the evidence for a religious belief is not valid, but this just reeks of the Mormonism claim to pray the prayer to see if Christianity is true. I have done a diligent search and concluded Christianity is true. Yet by Bradley’s definition, he would say I must not have done that because I did not arrive at the conclusion he did. Now if I did become an atheist, well then, I searched diligently. Anyone who disagrees does not.

Yet Bradley gets even worse in this very section:

“He might go so far as to question, with Albert Schweitzer and others, whether there is good historical evidence for the existence of a Christ Jesus, and end up embracing merely the so-called “ethics” associated with the Jesus myth. He might even come think that there’s good reason to subscribe to the so-called “Mythicist” tradition of those who confidently assert that belief in Jesus has no more warrant than does belief in Santa or Sherlock Holmes.”

There is wiggle room here, but it looks like he’s asserting that Schweitzer was a mythicist. Obviously, there has been a lack of a “diligent inquiry.” Schweitzer was definitely not a mythicist. Mythicism is highly regarded as a joke position today. Unfortunately, Bradley does not know this.

In talking about laws of nature, he says that they are descriptive and not prescriptive. So far, so good. Then he says “Who made them? Who enforces them? How frequently are they broken?” He tells us that these questions do not arise from laws of nature, therefore, there is no reason or experience for thinking someone like a god is behind them.

Sorry, but many people still think that the question of where these laws comes from is a good question and just asserting your position is not a good argument in reply. He also says there is no warrant in reason or experience for thinking they have ever been broken. This is true, granted that you completely ignore the reasons people give and the experiences they do for thinking just that. Nope. No need to give an argument. They’re just wrong. He also says that even if science hasn’t brought about the way for how a phenomenon came about, we can be confident that it will.

Because?

He could be right, but upon what grounds? Even if he is right, how does that rule out theism? It doesn’t.

He then tells us that all miracles done in the name of God or religion have a foundation in illusion or self-delusion.

Isn’t it great to be an atheist and get to make sweeping grand claims without any evidence that people should just take on faith? God forbid he read any of Keener’s books on miracles!

But wait, he does give one! They are impossible because they violate the laws of nature which cannot be broken. Let me spell out the logic for you here.

The laws of nature have never been broken.
Therefore, miracles are impossible.
Miracles would be a breaking of a law of nature.
But a law of nature has never been broken.
Therefore, miracles are impossible.

The argument is entirely circular. It is only if you know the laws of nature have never been broken can you assert that it is impossible to break them. However, even if we granted they have never been broken, that doesn’t mean they never will be. Hume himself said that if you drop a stone and it falls 1,000 times, that does not prove it will fall the next time you drop it. Why should past experience of consistent laws in a universe that is an accident lead me to think that the future will be the same?

Whew! That’s a lot, and keep in mind this is only covering the highlights of the chapter! Next time we look at this book, we will cover chapter 3.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Pagans and Christians in the City

What do I think of Steven Smith’s book published by Eerdman’s? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know what happened in history. The world was largely pagan and then Christianity showed up and within a few centuries, Christianity became the religion of the West and paganism was defeated. Today, there are people who follow Asatru and other similar belief systems and say they worship pagan deities, but pretty much, Thor has been reduced to a comic book character and superhero in the movies. Paganism is pretty much dead.

But what if it isn’t?

What if it never died?

No. I’m not saying anything about Christians copying the pagans in this like the pagan copycat thesis. Instead, we’re talking about worldviews, not in the sense that it’s a belief about gods, but rather a belief about where the sacred lies. Paganism largely placed the sacred in the world, especially in the area of sexuality.

Christians said there was sacredness in the world, but the source of that sacredness was outside of the world and lies in God Himself. Christians are to agree that there are good things in this world, but the things are not the end in themselves. The greatest joy is to be found in God alone.

Modern people might be puzzled at the way Rome reacted in the past to Christianity. Why were Christians persecuted? What about live and let live? What about freedom of religion? Couldn’t the Romans just accept that the Christians only worshipped their God?

And what about the Christians? Couldn’t they just go along and kind of pay lip service to the idea of the Roman deities? Unfortunately, for both sides, that would have been disloyal. The Christians were not to give any indication that these deities were real. The Romans saw the Christians as dishonoring the gods and thus a threat to the well-being of the state.

Today, we live in a world where it seems to be Christianity vs secularism and so it would strike people odd to hear talk about paganism, but what if secularists were actually modern-day pagans? Not in the sense that they worship other gods, but they place the sacred, or we could say the ultimate, in this world. In a sense, they must. If this world is all there is, then whatever is worth living for must be in this world.

An important part of all of this is the role that symbols play. While this was written before much of the Trump era, many of us were stunned to see the tearing down of statues and other such events. Why were these turned down? The same reason. Symbolism.

For those who wanted them torn down, these statues were symbols in some way of racism and the symbol could not be allowed to continue. It’s possible to debate if a statue really was a symbol, but it seems undeniable that the people wanting them removed saw in them vestiges of racism. Much of our political discourse is really about symbolism.

What about sexuality, which is where much of our fighting takes place? Consider the fact that a restaurant or baker or florist or photographer can say they don’t want to use their services to celebrate a ceremony that they do not encourage, such as two homosexuals wanting to declare themselves married. Most of us would think the thing to do then is to go down the street to the next business and hear them say “Sure. We’ll cover that for you!”

However, what happens is the original businesses are instead sued. Now why is this? Why would you want the services of someone who you know is opposed to your view like this and doesn’t celebrate what you celebrate? The answer is not that they want those services from them, but because these people are symbols of something they don’t like, disagreement with their position.

In our world, the culture wars are largely about sexuality. What I find ironic is that the Christians are the ones treating sex as sacred and the pagans are the ones that are not saying that, though they are treating it as an ultimate. If we admit that sex is for anything or about anything, then we have to set up some standards for sexuality and what is right and wrong, although some do still hold, as most people today definitely condemn rape.

The idea on the left has largely been privatization. You can have your religion and you can practice it, but it must be private. In public, you must go along with us. This is exactly the response of Rome in the beginning of the Christian era. We are still fighting the same battle.

There is so much more in Smith’s book that cannot be broken down easily, but it is an eye-opening one that is worthy of your time and attention. I recommend you go out and get it as soon as you can and read it. It has certainly shifted the way that I look at the culture wars.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Hook-Up Culture Ending?

Is this really a bad thing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With Roe v. Wade possibly being overturned, now women are telling men that they are wanting to end hook-up culture. It’s not worth the risk. Apparently, some guys are fine to sleep with, but they’re not good if they are going to be the father of your children.

Now these people are saying things like going on a sex strike to change people’s minds. Who are the minds they are trying to change? Largely, a lot of us conservative Christians.

You know, the ones who have long been pushing for abstinence until marriage and then sexual faithfulness in marriage?

Real convincing argument.

All we can say is “Your terms are acceptable.”

So what are some takeaways from all of this?

First, many of us were told we need abortion laws for cases of rape and incest. Sorry, but if you’re going out and hooking up with someone and wanting to get an abortion afterwards, you can’t call it rape. Now you could call it incest I suppose if you are going out and sleeping with your brother for a hook-up, but I really hope no one is doing something like that.

So thank you actually then for telling us what we have known all along. Abortion is not about those cases. It is about being used for contraception.

Second, you could very well wind up proving our case. Maybe it could actually mean people take sex seriously. After all, a woman usually has a lesser libido than a man does. I am not denying that there are some higher drive women out there, but statistically, men usually are the most eager to do the deed. A woman could want to have it, but she would be thinking, “But I don’t want to risk getting pregnant.” (Not only that, there are emotional ramifications of sex as well as STDs to consider.) She could be choosy then in who she gives herself to.

Now what does this mean for the men? Believe it or not, men might actually have to work to show themselves capable men to have sex. They might have to show that they can hold down a job and provide for a woman and the offspring. If they cannot do this, they do not get sex. Yes, women. You’ve had this power all along. You have no idea what a man is willing to do to get sex and if that means changing his life around entirely, well a man will go and do that. If you put sex out there as something easy for him to get, then he will stop generally at the level he gets it at and not go further from there. It’s a human thing. We tend to like to give the bare minimum.

Not only all of this, but if you have less sex, then you will have less need to go get an abortion which will mean fewer abortions anyway. Really, everything you’re doing here is a win for the people you want to go after the most, conservative Christians. I do know that there are plenty of secularists and atheists who are pro-life and I am thankful for that, but usually the position is associated with Christianity.

We will all be better off if we do take sex a lot more seriously because sex is a serious thing. The same applies to marriage. Women. In the end, you will have a better pool of people to date because the ones you want to be with will be the ones that work the hardest. Who gets weeded out? The men who are not willing to work to please a woman.

Why lower yourself by sleeping with a guy who’s not willing to give you his all anyway?

Welcome to what you have long been protesting. You could find this is one of the best things that ever happened to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Ignorance Is A Weak Excuse

Should you know what the other side says? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been going through Raymond Bradley’s book God’s Gravediggers and I plan to do a fuller look chapter by chapter, but I saw one quote that I wanted to highlight. It is about Christian philosophers who hold to inerrancy.

“”Are these guys serious? What would be their line when confronted by 2 Chronicles 4:2, which gives a false value for the mathematical constant pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter)? What would they say about countless inconsistencies the Bible contains? For example, between 2 Samuel 24:1, which says the Lord commanded King David to “number the people of Israel”, and 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says it was Satan, not the Lord, who issued the command. What account would they give of scientific absurdities such as that of a six-day creation, the fixity of species, and the world-wide flood, an event that some biblical genealogists calculate as occurring on the 27 February 2267 BCE, an event that, as Australian geologist Ian Plimer points out, was “spitefully” ignored by the Egyptians of the time? I simply don’t know what answers these notable theistic philosophers would give. They proclaim inerrancy as a general doctrine without considering its specific applications. They preach it from their pulpits yet ignore it in their philosophical writings. Yet where inconsistencies abound, so does falsity; for at least one of each inconsistent pair must be false.”
There’s one part in here worth highlighting.
“I simply don’t know what answers these notable theistic philosophers would give.”
Anyone should really know at this point to not take Bradley seriously.
Unfortunately, Bradley is not in the minority. Normally when I speak to atheists, I ask them if they have read such and such that disagrees with them and I am told that they have not. Most usually make some excuse and it really is presuppositional atheism. After all, everyone knows science is the only way to truth and anything that disagrees is automatically stupid. Why bother looking into a case for a miracle if it’s just so obvious they never happen?
Getting back to Bradley, he is talking about Old Testament questions. No one is saying that these questions shouldn’t be asked, but these are not new. The early church often debated passages that seemed to contradict and tried to work out apparent discrepancies.
The problem is that Bradley has no idea what would be said and this is too often something that can happen. A person can come up with what they think is an objection to a position and say to themselves, “I can’t think of any possible counter to this, therefore there isn’t one.” Consider what happens with the problem of evil. “Why would God allow this evil?” If no answer can be found immediately, well then there just obviously isn’t an answer. Right?
By the way, this is not to say that Christians don’t do the same thing. Christians absolutely do and that’s a travesty on our side. The mindset of Bradley is one that no one should really have.
Also, I would encourage Bradley to instead go to some Old Testament scholars instead of philosophers. Go to people like Walton or Longman or Christopher Wright or others. Go to a seminary and ask to see the library and read some commentaries on the passages in question.
When it comes to the age of the Earth, even the rabbis had been debating the interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Rudimentary forms of evolution were even discussed in those times. The information we can have is new, but the debates are really old. While it looks like Bradley grew up with young-Earth creationism, even the most ardent YEC would know other Christians have other interpretations and while they don’t agree, I hope they would say they understand these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture who disagree.
Something I often say about skeptics I encounter is they are not true skeptics. They believe what agrees with them 100%. They only question what disagrees with them. This also applies to politics also where it’s easy to go in with a bias and find something that supports your side and ignore the rejoinders to it.
Bradley is not a skeptic. He honors it with his lips, but his head is far from it. He has simply abandoned one loyalty to a position and replaced it with the same loyalty to another position.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)