Book Plunge: Atheist Manifesto Part 2

What more do I have to think of Onfray’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Reading Onfray is a task for anyone who tries. It’s hard to read without thinking that you’re really the temper tantrum of a child who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. He will be talking about one thing and then suddenly seemingly jump to something else.

In part 2 of his book he talks about monotheisms. One of the first sections is about down with intelligence! Monotheism hates intelligence!

Remember? The monotheisms that are people of the book? The Christians who are responsible for copying and transmitting the ancient pagan works that we have, the founding of the university, and the rise of science? Yes. Those people. They were obviously haters of intelligence!

For Onfray, if you are a man of reason you will be on guard against magical thinking. I was unaware that just saying something is magical thinking is a refutation of it. Who knew? Some people might have questioned the idea I have of presuppositional atheism that if you’re an atheist, your thinking is automatically rational and if you’re a theist, it’s stupid. Onfray comes incredibly close by saying such statements about magical thinking and reason to saying exactly what I have been saying.

Of course, this comes to us well in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Onfray doesn’t bother to say it’s good and evil. It’s not the tree of the knowledge of science or history or literature. It’s good and evil. In Hebrew thinking, this is a merism. It contrasts two opposite things to say everything between them. What is really at stake here is not knowledge so much as wisdom. It is mankind wanting himself to be the fount of wisdom instead of God.

We also have this part about the three monotheisms. It is the picture I shared last time. We are haters of reason, intelligence, books, and freedom. I say this, by the way, as I sit in my library in my apartment surrounded by my books and if you go outside of this room, you will find books scattered throughout our apartment.

We also hate women, sexuality, pleasure, the feminine, and desires and drives.

I am a married man.

I enjoy being a married man.

I enjoy the benefits of being a married man. I have yet to meet a married man who hates sex and the feminine and the body and such. Of course, such a person could be out there, but I doubt it. I find this especially bizarre to say about Islam since Muhammad had about a dozen wives and his followers could have up to four. Yes. They obviously hated sex and women.

Onfray also tells us that there were numerous apocryphal writings, more than those that are in the New Testament. Indeed. So what happened to them? Eusebius through Constantine is what happened! At this point, it is clear why Onfray doesn’t have notes in his book. Good luck finding this one.

He also tells us that Paul demanded the burning of forbidden books in Acts 19:19, but no such demand exists. From the account, the people themselves decided to do it. Besides, one would think Onfray would support this since these were books about magical spells, likely to ward off demons. Is Onfray upset that these books were lost to us?

Naturally, there is the idea of the hatred of science. The Catholic church impeded scientific research. Again, good luck with this one. There were plenty of scientists doing science in the time and the ones that were persecuted (All two of them!) were not in the Middle Ages.

Onfray also tells us the religions of the book detest women. You know, like how in Genesis man and woman are both equally 100% in the image of God. That kind of thing. Jesus having disciples who were women and openly communicating with them and Paul sending a woman to deliver, which would also entail and answering questions about, his most important letter, the letter to the Romans. For Onfray, we who are monotheists only see women as good for sex and only then when we want to reproduce. As he says “For a monotheist, there can be no more hideous oxymoron than a barren, sterile, woman.”

I wonder what monotheists he is talking to. I have not met any who think this way.

Now while Jews have some statements about women being impure during menstruation and after birth and the Koran has some negative statements, Christianity has not escaped! After all, in 585 there was discussion over a book called Paradoxical Dissertation in Which We Attempt To Prove That Women Are Not Human Creatures. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that I granted that this is all historical and this is a book that a Christian wrote.

This is still ridiculous. One Christian wrote a book one year and it was discussed. Therefore, this represents the opinion of all Christians throughout all time.

Fortunately, at least in dealing with monotheisms, we have a section dealing with arguments for theism and…..oh of course we don’t! Onfray never bothers to deal with what his opponents actually say. That would interrupt the rant.

And next time we look at his work, we will look at obviously the most problematic religion, Christianity. (Funny how that so often works out that way isn’t it?)

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Atheist Manifesto Part 1

What do I think of Michel Onfray’s book published by Arcade Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ever since the new atheists, atheism has been going downhill. It looks like each time someone has to write to try to come up with something even more ridiculous than the last guy. On the internet, one deals with the internet atheist, a special breed of atheist that seems to believe anything provided it argues against Christianity. For those who call themselves, free-thinkers, they all seem to think alike. Well free-thinker, you get what you pay for.

Popular also among internet atheists is the meme. Now I enjoy a meme as a humorous illustration of an argument, but sometimes they are meant to convey something so profound, and it kind of is. It’s profoundly dumb. Such is the case when I saw shared a meme quoting a book that has to be one of the most ridiculous quotes I have ever read.

Yes. I find this hilarious as a man who makes it a point to use reason everyday and tries to be as sound in my thinking as possible and a lover of the mind sitting among books aplenty. I am a great lover of freedom and as for a hatred of sexuality, women, and pleasure, well, I am a happily married man so go ahead and draw out your own conclusions.

I could go through the meme more and more but you get the idea. Onfray is someone who has not really interacted with great Christian thinkers. I got his book and sadly, the quote is indeed very real. As I started going through it, I figured I’d check the bibliography to see what works he cited.

Problem there.

He has none.

Oh he will mention books throughout his own book, but he won’t give page numbers or anything like that. He will make claims just floating in the air. The vast majority of them are completely bogus. The book really reads as if it’s a childish rant.

So let’s look some at part 1. We’re going to start near the end because if everything was documented, the response would be as long as the book itself. I’d like to highlight a few areas.

Let’s go to page 50.

Onfray says we would not consider locking someone up who has a brain tumor, which is no more of a choice than a pedophilic fixation. One can dispute that pedophilia is a fixation that one has no choice over, but let’s suppose for the sake of argument that it is. If I know someone who has a brain tumor and that brain tumor causes them to act violently toward people around them, then yes, I think they need to be locked up in some way.

In the same sense, someone who is a pedophile and is going to actively be a threat to small children needs to be dealt with in a way that he won’t harm people around them. It is amazing that Onfray treats this as if it is something just as innocuous as a brain tumor. Perhaps he should speak to many of the people who have been damaged by pedophiles. (And we can expect he will make no remark about Catholics either!)

On 52-53, Onfray speaks about the ignorance of many Christians. While this is true, it says nothing about the truth of Christianity. He says believers will listen to Saint Paul but have never heard of Gregory of Nazianze. Well, strike one here. He says they set up the infant creche, but they know nothing of the founding quarrels of Arianism or the council on iconophila. Strike Two. He talks about communion, but papal infallability is unheard of. Strike three. I do know about these, so what then?

Onfray goes on to get worse. He says that believers attend Christmas mass but don’t know that the church picked this date to coincide with the winter solstice and Sol Invictus. No source is given for this claim. The winter solstice would have never fallen on December 25th anyway. He also says death by stoning was the standard punishment for what Jesus was charged with. Stoning, however, was not really to be done by the Jewish populace at the time and crucifixion was done to shame the person more. Jesus was meant to be a public example.

He then says you can talk to a Christian about the neglect of the work of taking care of the poor. The Christian will ask about liberation theology. Not this one. This one will accept that the church is not perfect and will point to ways we need to improve but will still show that Christians are giving more to the poor and doing more charity work. I have no wish to endorse liberation theology.

He goes on to say that Paul decries the pleasures of the flesh and despises women. Onfray thinks you will hear that mystical ecstasy is a higher pleasure. No. Here you will be told what passages you have in mind and then let’s discuss them.

He then says that if you mention the massacre of indians you will be told about Bartolome de Las Casas. Again, not here. I will ask for your historical sources and if the Christians are in the wrong, that’s something horrible and we need to own up to it, but it doesn’t change that Jesus rose from the dead. It’s a shame that Onfray did not go out and dialogue with real Christians or look at real Christian writings on the topic.

On page 60, we get much of what is predicted. He has earlier said in the book that there is no evidence Jesus existed and now we can know when he was forged with certainty. You have to wonder what’s with all these people thinking like this? Creationists are often mocked for going against the overwhelming consensus in science, and perhaps rightly so, but atheists definitely go against it.

By the way, he also talks some about the tree of knowledge in the book. The idea is apparently that Christians hate knowledge and the great sin was getting knowledge. No. The sin was the knowledge of good and evil in which what is really meant was trying to usurp divine wisdom. It was trying to rule on one’s own what they had really been given to rule. It was a defiance.

When we return, we will look at what he has to say about monotheisms.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Good Theology Is Essential

Is theology only for nerdy intellectuals? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Theology is often seen as a difficult topic, and indeed it is. Not many people are really interested in trudging deep into the world of theology. After all, God is such a hard topic to understand and you can never really wrap your head entirely around Him and will it really help my Christian life to be able to know that God is simple or to be able to have a working definition of omnipotence? Don’t I just need to know Jesus? These can be common concerns, especially for the layman, but could it be that these concerns are really keeping people from a treasure trove of knowledge that could greatly benefit them?

Some of you might think theology is too difficult to do, but the reality is you are already doing theology. Theology is any study of God and if you have any idea of God whatsoever, then that is your theology. Even atheists have a theology. They have an idea of the deity that they don’t believe in. (And if your idea of God can be compared to a flying spaghetti monster, you are missing the point big time.) The question then is not if you are going to do theology. You are. The question is if you are going to do it well or not.

Of course, depending on your intellectual abilities, you might have some limitations to how well you can do theology, and that is understandable. God did not call you to become a Ph.D. in theology necessarily, but He does ask that you know Him. If you’re content with saying that you would prefer to just sit in a church service and feel good about the worship services, then you’re in a sense using God. It’s like a man saying that he doesn’t really want to know his wife better than he does, but he sure wants to have access to the sex. Well he could get the sex from a number of women. In the same way, you can get good feelings from a number of different sources besides worship. (Including sex itself of course) Would it not be better to have the emotions that come from worship be informed by what makes those truths you’re hearing so glorious?

It also depends on where you’re going to go to get your information about God. Many of you reading this will say “The Bible” and I certainly agree that the Bible is a great place to go to get information about God, but it is not the only place. I think if you want to use the Bible, you should also have at least a basic apologetic as to why you think Christianity is true and why you think the Bible is at least reliable. If you claim that that book is different from every other book, you need to have a reason why you think that book is different from any other book and it needs to be one that Muslims and Mormons could not give about their book or books.

A dangerous way to get your theology is going primarily on your feelings and experiences, and yet this is where we go the most today. How many times do you hear in a church service to do as you feel led, which automatically assumes that God is going to tell you what He wants you to do by your feelings. There are plenty of ministers who have affairs and scandalize the church and I can assure you one reason that they do so is that they have some really good feelings in them telling them to go forward. In no other area of life that I can think of would we tell people to live by their feelings, but here in what is supposed to be the most important area of life, we tell people to do just that.

Does that mean your feelings and experiences are useless? Not necessarily. I would try to point to feelings that have a more Biblical basis, such as joy. If you are feeling hate towards your neighbor in your heart, you need to ask why. You could also consider keeping a prayer journal. For my part, I have a Kindle Fire and use the Mobile Knee App. When you see prayer requests being answered, make a note of it. That way you can look back on past experiences you’ve had and see that God has brought you through hard times. You can also hear testimonies of other people who have walked through the valley of suffering and came out the other end just fine.

If you want to be a really heady individual, you can go to reason and see what you can get by metaphysical thinking alone. For that, you could go straight to Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, but you might be better off served by reading someone who summarizes the Summa such as Peter Kreeft. At any rate, I would definitely say you should be reading other people. Too many of us have so much pride that we think we alone are the ones who have studied the Bible and there’s no need to learn from those around us and those who have gone before us. If you really want to learn about God, you need to learn from people who have walked the road before you and are walking it around you.

Of course, I pointed to the Bible earlier but even here, there are difficulties. Are you going by what the passage means to you or really trying to figure out what it means? If you think you don’t need any help with studying the Bible, there’s no reason to even really go to church on Sunday. After all, who cares what a preacher is saying from the pulpit? He has no more skill than you do! Your preacher every Sunday is basically trying to give you a commentary on the text that is being talked about and largely focusing on the application of that text to your own life today.

Again, you have help here. There are plenty of resources available. We have a plethora of commentaries today that you can look at and you can find many great books at your local library. If you aren’t interested in an apologetics debate, try to get material from good evangelical publishers like Zondervan or IVP. If you were a woman and you received a love letter from a man you were interested in, most likely you would go over that letter with a fine-tooth comb and try to find the meaning in any little nuance that you could. Should you not treat what you call the Word of God so much more seriously?

Bart Ehrman, not a friend of Christianity, has talked about asking students who come into his class these questions.

“How many of you think the Bible is the Word of God?”

Several hands go up.

“How many of you have read the Harry Potter series?”

Several hands go up.

“How many of you have read the whole Bible?”

Few hands go up.

Ehrman’s point that he concludes from this is indeed valid. He can understand wanting to read the Harry Potter series and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that of course, but if you think a book that you have is a message from God Himself, shouldn’t you really want to read that book and understand it? If we don’t want to do that, perhaps we might want to take a look at ourselves and ask if we are taking God as seriously as we could.

The best place to go however is to look to Jesus. Jesus is said to be the one who shows us the Father. I like to describe Jesus as “God with skin on.” If you want to know what God is like, just look to Jesus. We should seek to know Jesus, but we know Jesus so we can know God. Jesus came to give not a revelation of Himself but rather to give one of the Father. It is because of Jesus that we can know God. This is something that needs to be kept in mind by those of us in apologetics who get a lot of our theology from good metaphysics but can rarely stop to ask how it is that Jesus informs our theology other than telling us about the Trinity.

I contend that if you do this, you will have a better rock when it comes to hard times. You will have something you can stand on. Your knowledge of God is only as reliable as the foundation that you build it on. If you build it on your feelings and experiences, then when those change, so will your knowledge of God. If you build it on a more reliable source, such as good metaphysics, Scripture, or Jesus, you will have much more you can go on. Also, this will inform your worship more. It will not detract from the joy you experience in worship to know more about the God you are worshiping. How could it? That would be like saying you don’t want to get married because why on Earth would you want to get to know someone and spend the rest of your life with them when you could just be having sex with them?

If you also take this route, one other idea you might be wanting to consider is getting a mentor. I suggest men get men for mentors and women get women. I myself in fact have a mentor. I have several men who are mentors to me, but one in particular who I email every night to help me on the path of spiritual development. Find someone you think would be capable of being your mentor and ask them if they are willing to guide you on that road. If they say yes, you can have a trusted friend who will share the journey with you.

Knowledge of God is not an add-on to the Christian life. It is an essential. If you don’t want to learn about the God you claim to be the greatest good in your life, maybe you should ask if He is really the greatest good in your life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Will You Live For?

Is there something out there worth living for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, I encounter people who will make a big deal about how they have enough commitment to die for Christ. Now that is a good thing. I am not knocking that for a moment. I would even hope that I could do that. I am not making a guarantee because I remember Peter in the Bible talked big and then he cowered, and this was a man who had walked with Jesus for years and seen him do miracles. Still, as impressive as it is to die for Christ, there is something even more impressive.

To live for Him.

Instead, we often chase after so many other things. My wife even wrote on this topic just today. Do we really consider Christ worth living for? Well let me try to see by comparing Christ with other things. These things can be good in themselves, but they are not the good.

Wealth

By wealth, I don’t just mean money, but material goods. Again, there’s nothing wrong with material goods and if you have a lot of wealth, you are not an evil person. It could be you are a person God has blessed. If you have a gift of being able to make money, you should enjoy that gift. You should be willing to give to those who are less fortunate, but also you should be able to enjoy what your money can afford. Want to take the wife to Paris for a romantic weekend? Go ahead. Want to get a new Mercedes? Go ahead. It is not a sin to enjoy money if you happen to have it, though again, you should be generous with what you have. God loves a cheerful giver.

But in the end, that money will fade. The Great Depression taught us that money can vanish in an instant. You will not be treasured in the future because you have a lot of money and if you are, it could be that you are being treasured by the wrong people who want you more for your money than they do for you. As the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you. As another one goes, he who dies with the most toys, still dies.

Knowledge

You know, this is a big one with me. I like to go to bed having read something during the day and increased my knowledge. I love learning. I really do. Smart people can also be very liked. You can really impress someone if you know a lot of stuff. Yet Paul did rightly say that knowledge puffs up. All knowledge without love to it is a problem. We are not meant to be robots. If we are working on gaining knowledge, we are often gaining that knowledge towards another end. We want to apply that knowledge somehow in the world to make the world a better place. We dare not do it just for ourselves, which can bring us to another option.

Fame

It’s really nice to see a piece that you wrote be shared in the world. It’s nice to see people quoting you as an authority. It’s good to be liked and admired. There is no wrong in this and I think if people praise you for something legitimate and good, you should be able to delight in that, but you must remember as J.P. Moreland has said, that you’re here to serve a name and not to make one. Now of course, in many ways you do have to sell yourself to serve that name. Still, it is not about you.

Pride is something that I struggle with, though having a wife has certainly helped with that! She doesn’t want a prideful man. What I used to do as an activity to deal with it was to go into my room when I was single and close the door and get on my bed and pray. I would thank God for all He had done for me. I would thank Him that He had given me so many books and a mind capable of handling knowledge and the respect of so many people in the field. I would think of all the things I thought I had done well in my life and give Him thanks. Then after all of this, where I purposely built myself up, I would then say “And who am I to deserve this for it all comes from you?” It would take all the good things that I had going on then and then remind me that everything is really from God. It’s not because I’m so special, but it’s because He’s so special. I felt humbled every time as I remembered that as James says, every good gift comes from the Father above. I am a servant in His Kingdom.

Family

Okay. This is a big one. There is definitely nothing wrong with a family. Family is one of the great goods God has provided and as I have said before, it’s the building block of civilization. You should love your family, yet we know in Scripture that family is to play a subservient role to Christ. If it comes to Christ or our families, we are to choose Christ. Your family is important, but they fallible people and they will let you down. They could also be taken from you at any moment. Sometimes the tragedy of death strikes without warning to people. If you ever put all your hope on one other person, even your own spouse, then you are going to be disappointed. Every person you meet is a finite person who can only do so much.

Sex

If anything is a god in American culture today, it’s sex. Internet pornography is rampant and look at so many of the great debates we have going on in America. They often involve sex in some way. Now I and most married men can understand this idea of living for sex. Hardly anything turns our heads the way the thought of sex does. How many of us men have done stupid stupid things all because we were trying to get the attentions of a girl? Of course, this is not to say women don’t desire sex as well and yes, women will often do stupid things just for a chance to have sex, but men are much more noted for this.

So yeah, sex is great of course, but what if this bizarre thought is true? What if that sex is a pointer to something else? What if the unity with nothing hidden between a man and a woman is meant to point to a unity with nothing hidden with God? In fact, that unity with God is capable of producing new life in us as God gives us His life.

Sex can be a great way to love other people, but if done wrong, it is a great way to use other people. Even if we’re married men and women, we must remember every act of sex is supposed to be a way to say “I love you” to your spouse. In fact, for many men, sex is the loudest way that their wives tell them that they love them. That’s the danger for both sexes. A man can easily say “If I give my wife what she wants, then I can get sex.” A wife can easily say “If I give my husband sex, then I can get what I want.” Both are wrong uses. Sex is supposed to be selfless and total giving with no strings attached.

Pleasure

Along with sex goes pleasure. Now I think play should be an important part of everyone’s life. Believe it or not, there are times I have been reading for awhile and I will stop and just pick up a game and say “I have to have some down time and play.” It’s necessary. Even Ecclesiastes tells us that of writing books there is no end and too much study will make you tired. There are many avenues of pleasure out there and not just sex. There’s sports. There’s food. There’s television. There’s gaming. There are many good things and the reality is these things have been made for us to enjoy.

At the same time, these do follow the law of diminished returns. If you become addicted to these things, it will take more to fill you as the old will not be enough. Get addicted to television and you will need to watch more. Get addicted to food and it will take more food to satisfy you every time. This is also the danger with pornography as it will take more and more to satisfy you. When these things in your life become tyrants, they are horrible tyrants. The only way to break free from them is to stop listening to their demands and to find a new master, but hopefully not one like these.

Pleasure is good, but if you’re just living for that high, it will require more and more. Now this might work if you find something high enough. More on that later.

Morality

Sometimes in the Christian church, we can often have an idea that we are to be good people and that is the point of Christianity. Christians should be good people, but that is not the point. We are good for the honor of God. Meanwhile, our atheist friends will tell us that you don’t need to believe in God to be good. They’re absolutely right. You don’t. The problem is they are also assuming the point of life is to be good. For what end? If you are good and in the end we all die in the cold death of a universe that fizzles out of energy, then what? Of course, there is no knocking being good as we should be. The building up of character however is meant for something beyond us. What does it mean to be good for goodness sake after all?

Love

Love is certainly esteemed as a good today as many things that happen today are said to be okay because of love. Love unfortunately is often confused with sentiment instead of an active seeking of the good of the other for the sake of the other. We are all self-centered in our society so let’s not dare think that somehow we are easily moving past this. If you think love is a feeling, you are going to ruin yourself. Love can produce good feelings, but it is not a feeling. It is an active commitment to the good of another for the sake of that other and there are degrees of love. I love my wife. I love my parents. I love my sister and brothers-in-law. I love my in-laws. I love my friends. I love my extended family. I do not love those all the same way.

Love is good, but again, just like with pleasure, it is only when you find a higher source of love that you find something truly worth living for.

God

Now we come to the big one. At last we have something worth living for. How do we know this? Because God is infinite by definition and therefore, there is no limit to what He can do for us. He is good in nature. He is constant and unchanging so He will always be good. He will always be loving. He will always bring joy ultimately for He is the source of all joy. He alone can carry all of our burdens and He is the one who knows our hearts and He is the only one who can deal with the problem of evil in us that is truly keeping us away from the joy that we do desire.

You see, the reason we chase after these other things is because of the evil in us. These other things can be good, but if we turn them into the greatest good, they become evils for us. All of these things we should enjoy, but let us not lose sight of God.

And could it be we do not delight in God as much because we have made Him so abstract as to be unknowable or made Him so much of our buddy buddy or “Jesus is my boyfriend” kind of thing that we no longer see Him as a sovereign Lord we serve in awe?

And if we want to know who God truly is, well we have to look at Jesus. Philosophy can tell us many things about God and we should use it, but Jesus reveals God to us personally. All good theology must be informed by the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In the end, with God, we will have something worth living for and if we do not see Him as worth living for, we need to seek to know Him better then.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/14/2014: How Do We Know?

What’s coming up when I record the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For those wondering when the episodes will be up soon for your listening pleasure, we are working on that. I will be meeting a techie friend of mine tonight who is going to show Allie and I everything that we need to know to get them online. We are working to do all that we can, but we would appreciate any support from those of you who do like the podcast and want it to keep going.

But for now, let’s move on to this Saturday’s show. What are we talking about?

Epistemology.

Dang. That sounds exciting. Some of you might be wondering what that is.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. What is knowledge and how do we know anything at all? In fact, the book we’ll be looking at is by two Christian authors named James K. Dew Jr. and Mark W. Foreman. The book is “How Do We Know?” It is an introduction to epistemology.

So who are these guys?

Let’s start with James Dew since he’s listed first on the book.

“Dr. Jamie Dew grew up in Statesville, NC but moved to Raleigh, NC in 1994. Through the witness of some of his friends, he came to Christ when he was 18 years old and surrendered to vocational ministry shortly thereafter. He earned a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, GA in 2000 and then moved to Wake Forest, NC to work on his graduate degrees. He earned his PhD in Theological Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008, and is working on a second PhD in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England. He is the author of Science and Theology: An Assessment of Alister McGrath’s Critical Realist Perspective (Wipf & Stock, 2010), co-author of How Do We Know?: A Short Introduction to the Issues of Knowledge (IVP, 2013), and co-editor of God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain (IVP, 2013). Dr. Dew pastored in NC for 10 years, and also served in various churches as a Youth Pastor and Minister to Adults. Now, Dr. Dew is the Vice President for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Support and is the Dean of the College at Southeastern. He has been married for 13 years to his wife Tara and they have two sets of twins: Natalie & Nathan (6) and Samantha & Samuel (3).”

Dew_2

And who is Mark Foreman?

“Mark W. Foreman is professor of philosophy and religion at Liberty
University where he has taught philosophy, apologetics, and bioethics for 25 years. He has an MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is the author of Christianity and Bioethics (College Press, 1999, [reprint Wipf and Stock, 2011] ), Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians (InterVarsity Press, 2014), How Do We Know: An Introduction to Epistemology (with James K. Dew,Jr., InterVarsity Press, 2014) and articles in the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Harvest House, 2008) as well as chapters in Come Let us Reason: New Essay in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012) Steven Spielberg and Philosophy (with David Baggett, University of Kentucky Press, 2008) and Tennis and Philosophy (University of Kentucky Press, 2010). Mark has been a member of Evangelical Philosophical Society for over 20 years and is currently serving as vice-president of the society. His specializations are Christian apologetics, biomedical ethics and ethics.”

Foreman

Please be looking for this broadcast as we discuss their books and questions related to it such as “Is faith an epistemology” as Peter Boghossian claims, and “Is science the only way or the highest way of knowing?” as many internet atheists claim.

I hope to have everything up shortly. Be watching!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: How Do We Know

What do I think of Foreman and Dew’s book on epistemology? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Foreman and Dew have written this in order to explain epistemology to people who have never really considered it and in our day and age, it’s more necessary than ever. After all, you have people like Peter Boghossian out there wanting to train up “street epistemologists” to deconvert Christians from their faith. In addition to that, there is a rampant scientism in our society that says science is the way to know the truth. If what you say is not scientific, then it is not a fact.

So how is it that we do know anything at all and what is knowledge? Naturally, you won’t find a comprehensive refutation of positions in this work. Instead, it’s more to get you thinking about what the different positions are. The authors themselves do not come down on either side in the debate. After reading it, I cannot tell you what position either one of them holds.

The authors also go through the classical problems in studies of epistemology. One such example that will be well-known to students of philosophy is the Gettier Problem. (To which, I remember when this was discussed in my epistemology class one of my classmates immediately asked the professor about Gettier. His question? “Did he get tenure?” Yes. He definitely did get tenure after that.)

Gettier’s problem was to show that you could have a belief that was justified and that was true, but even then that might not be enough to say that you had knowledge. This is problematic since the prior definition of knowledge has been justified true belief, which means that now philosophers are looking to see if a fourth item might need to be added to the list.

Those dealing with new atheist types will be pleased to see the authors make a statement about faith and how faith is not a way of knowing but is rather a response of trust to what one is shown to be true. Of course, we seriously doubt that Peter Boghossian and others like him will pay any attention to anything that goes against their beliefs.

Along those lines, there is also a section on whether one can know through divine revelation which includes a short apologetic for Christianity. The authors are both Christians and do hold that divine revelation can be a valid way to possess knowledge.

If there’s a concern I have with the book, I would have liked to have seen more interaction with the medieval period. Too often we talk about Plato and Aristotle and then jump ahead to Descartes. A few times Aquinas is cited but not often. I do not remember Augustine being cited but that could have been something I overlooked. There were plenty of great thinkers as well in the medieval period and it does help to see how we got from the ancient to the modern era.

Despite this one misgiving, I find that this book will be an excellent start for those wanting to learn about epistemology. You won’t walk away with a firm conclusion most likely, but you will walk away hopefully knowing that you need to look.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Knowledge and Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been going through 1 Corinthians 13 lately and tonight, I’d like to look at one of my favorite topics as an apologist, and that is the topic of knowledge. After all, for many of us, our books are our life’s blood. A Seminary professor’s wife I know once stated in a talk to women whose husbands were in Seminary “Make peace with the books.” Books mean everything to us.

The relevant part of 1 Cor. 13:2 tonight tells us that if we can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge but don’t have love, we are nothing. Now consider that if you are of the apologetic mindset. Paul refers to many things in the Bible as mysteries. These could not be understood without divine revelation. Note that he doesn’t mean it in the sense in which a pastor often asked how God can be three and one says “It’s a mystery” instead of giving an answer that He is three in one sense and one in another.

Imagine having that spiritual insight that when Paul speaks about a mystery, you could say that you knew it all along. You were able to divine that before the revelation was given. Paul wants you to realize that even if you could do that, if you did not have love, you are nothing.

What about if you have all knowledge? Now Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge puffs up. The solution to this is not to cast aside knowledge but to gain humility in addition to knowledge. Sadly, this knowledge can often come across in the form of spirituality. After all, I know what God approves and disapproves of and I am a better Christian than you for doing what he approves and not doing what he does not approve.

In the apologetics community however, it’s easy to think that you have to answer every objection out there. It’s tempting to see other people as a threat. We have to avoid that. We also have to realize that just because someone knows a lot about God, it does not mean that they really know God. The love of God is more than intellectual knowledge, although it is certainly helped by such knowledge. The more you love something, the more you will want to know about that something.

C.S. Lewis wrote about how it can be to look at the woman in church who is a little old lady and think about what an impoverished life she lives not knowing about such things as the Nicene Creed or the Calvinism/Arminianism debate or who Irenaeus and Justin Martyr were, but then you realize that in her prayer life and devotion to God overall, you are not worthy to untie her sandals, it brings a humility to you. Let us never make the mistake of thinking that being a better Christian apologist means that we are a better Christian.

Now I’m not saying that this lady would not be blessed by knowing about the Nicene Creed and such. In fact, I think she should seek to know about them, but she does not have to be an intellectual. Not all Christians are of that kind of mindset. That is fine. Each has their own part to play.

For instance, in our household, I am the intellectual. My wife is smarter than she realizes, but her bent is more towards matters of the heart. That is fine. She helps me in many ways by seeing things from a layman’s perspective that I often miss and by being a strong encouragement and fortification for me.

Is knowledge important? Absolutely. Knowledge is not love and if we do not have our knowledge with love, we essentially have nothing.

We shall look at the next part next time.