Book Plunge: Becoming Worldly Saints

What do I think of Michael Wittmer’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

How on Earth can you be a worldly saint? Why would you want to be one? You are not to love the world nor the things of this world. Right? You could think that, until you also see that Scripture says God gives us everything richly for our enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17) and the whole debate on eating meat offered to idols was about if you could enjoy the meat without thinking you are wronging God, and the fact that our Bibles have Song of Songs in them, a book about the delight of sexuality in marriage.

Wittmer writes to deal with these kinds of issues with the idea of not only should you enjoy your life, you can only really love God if you do love the things of this world. The writing in 1 John about the things of this world refers to what he says earlier, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. It does not refer to what many of us might think.

Wittmer writes about how he knew an old preacher who used to talk about how we didn’t care about our worldly matters. Well, except we all did. Wittmer would go out and play whiffle ball with friends and family and watch some of their favorite TV shows like Dukes of Hazzard, but not Dallas because, well, they weren’t that worldly. We can try to deny it, but all of us have aspects of this world we enjoy, and that is not a bad thing.

The unique aspect of Wittmer’s book is he gives a big picture perspective. He points to the purpose of the kingdom and the future consummation of all things. In doing this, he argues that we can further the kingdom by bringing people into the delight of God, including the delight of this world. We can enjoy our lives which will also show people a kind of life they want to live. Honestly, think about the people you have met who are Christians and seem to have no interest in anything else. How many of you want to be like those people?

Wittmer gives such an example. He talks about a well-known evangelist he picked up at an airport for a conference once. He asked him about his experience with leading people to Christ and the man went on and on with story after story and after awhile, Wittmer realized this guy didn’t care about him at all, the person who gave of himself to pick him up and wondered how many people the man had led to Christ were coming to Christ just to get him to be quiet.

While I find this book helpful, I did point out it was a big picture perspective which leads to one weakness. I would have liked more on the whole practical level such as general guidelines to follow. Of course, the difficulty is that it can lead to a kind of legalism. Perhaps we should more often realize that if we are concerned, perhaps we don’t need to be? If we were Christians not giving ourselves to God and seeking Him, we wouldn’t be asking the question.

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

Book Plunge: Cynical Theories

What do I think of James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose’s book published by Pitchstone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Woke is a word that has shown up regularly in the past few years. Now we regularly hear about social justice warriors and of course, constant cries of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and fat phobia. Our world has become more divided than ever as everyone is assumed to be a closet racist and if you deny that, well, you’re a bigot and that just demonstrates what a racist you are.

I was eager to get this book to see what Lindsay and Pluckrose had to say about the topic. They do bring a lot of excellent academic work here, but the problem is they also seem to be fighting battles on two fronts. Their main emphasis is on the Woke and how that hurts scholarship and academia, but there’s a dose of mild scientism as well as any chance to take a jab at religious people.

That’s ultimately unhelpful for their work. After all, if they want to reach Americans and a large number of Americans are still religious, this will turn a lot of them off, which would be a shame. I kept seeing my position as a religious believer being misrepresented. I am able to see past that, but how many people out there will not?

The scientism is also a problem as too many times, the impression comes across that science is the only way to know truth. Science is a great way of knowing some truth, but not all truth. There are plenty of things we all believe that do not come through science. While I am an empiricist, I hold that while all scientific knowledge is empirical, not all empirical knowledge is scientific.

Another problem is the way that they talk about progress and liberalism. Much of what they call liberalism looks nothing like liberals I see today. I also definitely disagree with them on the approach to the LGBTQ+ community. I am not opposed to progress, but too often we get to a place and say “This is progress” when in many cases, I can see it as regression.

However, time should be spent on the positives. One of the biggest walkaways you should get from this book is that for the Woke, disagreement is not allowed. Yes. You are allowed to ask questions and you should ask to understand, but not to challenge. Theory, their name for anything like Critical Race Theory or any idea that goes with a political identity, cannot be questioned.

This is no way to do academia. Questions and challenges should always be welcome, even if a theory has stood the test of time for hundreds of years. Questioning allows us to grow and shows cracks where a belief needs to be examined. Perhaps in some cases, it could show the whole paradigm is flawed and we have to move to a new paradigm.

Also, there are health consequences in many cases. Consider the idea that being fat is not a risk to one’s health. Yes. This is being taught and some people can even find doctors that won’t treat obesity like a problem. As I write this, MonkeyPox is something big and yet many of us are noticing that while Covid was around, people were told they had to shut down gathering places, including churches, but no one is saying that about bathhouses. Everyone is just being told “Act responsibly.” Would that we had all been told that during Covid.

I can also remember that when 9/11 happened, one of the first matters of importance to get out there was that this did not represent true Islam. After all, we had to deal with Islamophobia. We have become a culture that wants to protect peoples’ feelings more than the people themselves.

So this is a book with a lot of important material, but keep in mind the caveats. Take the wheat and throw away the chaff. Get the good and embrace it and use it. We are in a real battle with Woke.

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

Book Plunge: Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts

What do I think of Les and Leslie Parrott’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the kind of book that I’m really thankful is out there, but I also wish I didn’t need to read. Like I have said, divorce is awful. I was actually relieved to read in the book what I have heard said several times, that you spend a lifetime recovering from divorce.

Here’s something else that struck me about this book. This book is great to read even if you are on your first marriage or getting ready for your first marriage. The advice in here is still thoroughly practical. Sometimes as I was going through, it was hard to remember that this was a book that was meant for a second marriage.

Also, the Parrotts wrote in a way that it doesn’t matter what you went through to get to your second marriage. You could be a widow or you could be divorced. The same concept applies. About the only real difference, though even still not so much today, between this and a first marriage is the talk about what to do if one or both of you have children.

If anything, I wish there had been more different material about learning from the first time more. That is in there, but so much of the material was not unique to second marriages. I do remember one question I was curious about that was talked about but never answered was about what to do when it comes to sexual intimacy and a second marriage.

One statement that was made is that the ghost of your ex will always be around. I do have a friend who has been married before and is on his second marriage. He told me about buying some computer equipment early in his second marriage and getting scared that his wife would jump all over him because that’s what his first wife did. Nope. She instead got really excited about it and just wanted her husband to enjoy himself.

It is said to never talk bad about your ex and this is something that I try my hardest to not do. If I have to say something negative, I still affirm always (The virgin birth, but that’s another point) that I still want the best for her and I pray for her regularly and I mean the true prayer for her well-being, not the prayer some exes pray sadly of “May she die in a hideous car accident.” If anything, I would be devastated if I heard such news today.

I really wish this book wasn’t needed today, but sadly it is more and more. It would be great if the times it was really needed was for people who were widowed, but too often now, it’s divorce. For those of us who want to have another try at the world of marriage, I am thankful that this book is here. I wish I didn’t need it, but I sadly do and I hope that assuming such a marriage comes, I will be the better for preparing beforehand.

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

Book Plunge: Live Not By Lies

What do I think of Rod Dreher’s book published by Sentinel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dreher’s book is asking the question of what Christians in the West are meant to do in an age of increasing totalitarianism. Now this does not mean anything like what happens today in China or what happened in the Gulag, but it could be likely to happen in the form of a soft totalitarianism where control comes through social means more than government means. As I write this though, it is about a week after the raid of Trump’s place in Florida and a lot of questions are being raised.

The theme of the book comes from Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said that one thing we have to do is even if we don’t go out with a megahorn shouting the truth everywhere, we can choose to not believe the lies. For us today, these lies are being placed on us regularly by a culture calling into question truths we never would have dreamed being called into question a few years ago and too many people go along for the ride easily. I was stunned enough when I realized I had to defend that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Today, I have to defend the idea of what a man and a woman is. We have a woman sitting on the Supreme Court who couldn’t answer the question of what a woman is.

More and more, if you disagree with this ideology, you can be shut down. How many people do we know who have been removed from Twitter because of this? How often have we seen cancel culture dig up something someone said ten years ago and shut them down because of it? Keep in mind that before these people were culturally on top, they also insisted on tolerance. That didn’t last long.

Dreher’s book looks at people who went through the rise of Communism and survived in countries where it was. Their examples are often powerful and convicting. These aren’t superhuman people. These are simple ordinary people who did something unique. They lived out their faith in a world where it was condemned.

The repeated advice in the book is to see, judge, and act. Christianity when lived out can overcome any evil that is brought to bear against it. As our country comes closer and closer to more and more government control and government going in a war against reality, this is something we should all keep in mind.

Governments can push control in many ways, but we are in control of our minds and our attitudes. We can make it a point to say that we will live not by lies. We will choose to live the path that Jesus lived.

If I had any criticism of the book, it would be that the book is long on examples, but not long on suggestions. This is how people lived in hard totalitarianism, but I would have liked more that could be done by those of us in a soft totalitarianism or at least a growing one. I recommend Christians read this one and read it along side either Strange New World or The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman.

And live not by lies.

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

Book Plunge: Our Father, Abraham

What do I think of Marvin Wilson’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It is always a temptation for some to look for Christianity outside of the Jewish heritage. It’s easy to jump straight to the Greeks. This was much more common before the holocaust took place and then we decided we needed to recover the Jewishness of Jesus. One such book looking at this is Wilson’s book which is not about just the Jewishness of Jesus, but the Jewishness of Christianity.

Wilson’s contention is that the early church did move away from the Jewishness of Christianity early on and to an extent, this would be true. After all, just a few centuries later you have a number of statements of hostility against the Jewish people being made by even church fathers. It is not long before we see the charge of Christ-killers being applied. I do consider it problematic that as far as I know, all the church fathers were non-Jews.

We do damage to ourselves when we do this and we fail to do evangelism to the Jewish people. Wilson’s goal in this book is to return us to how the Jews looked at life. This is not just about theology as theology, but it is also about how Jews looked at every area of life because all of life was about their walk with YHWH. This includes work, marriage, and education.

To begin with, Wilson gives us the history of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. This involves the way the Jews saw the world and then what happened when the Christians came along. Naturally, this includes questions about who Jesus is and His deity and what it would mean for Him to be the Messiah.

From there, he goes on to look at where the church went wrong. This includes ideas coming up that he considers foreign to a Jewish mindset, such as the idea that someone who is a priest could never marry. In this area also, the way Jews and Christians have approached marriage is quite different. Even in a musical that Wilson recommends, Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is still at the heart of everything and the idea is that the daughters of the main character will have their husbands picked for them and they will be Jewish as well.

One other difference is we tend to think rationally about our faith while Jews think more experientially.  We will have hot debates in Christianity about the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Jews thought in block logic where both were to be embraced and somehow it all worked out in the end.

I particularly appreciated the section on learning. Learning is seen as an act of worship. Some Jews might be in situations where their stomachs are empty, but their minds are to be full of the heritage that they were raised in and what we call the Old Testament and the teaching of their rabbis.

Jewish and Christian relations are something that need some more attention in the apologetics and Christian community. I only know of two apologists right off that are doing work in the area of Jewish apologetics. We disagree with Jews on many matters, but we do share a common heritage and we need to be able to use that to reach out to them.

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

Book Plunge: The Flirtation Experiment

What do I think of Phylicia Masonheimer and Lisa Jacobson’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I try to read books about marriage despite being divorced. If anything, I read to get help for when my second marriage comes about, Lord willing and may He be. I read books written for wives, for husbands, and for both. This is a book written for wives.

Thinking back on it, I know authors don’t get to choose the names of their books often, but I think a better name might be The Connection Experiment. After all, when you see a book by women called The Flirtation Experiment and see fireworks on the cover going off, I suspect it’s going to be about buying outfits at Victoria’s Secret, jumping into a shower with your husband, and all manner of physical activities which is what a guy usually has in mind when he thinks about flirting.

That’s not to say the material in here is bad. It’s not. It’s really good. It just isn’t what I was expecting. So looking at the good, these are wives who have decided to invest in their husbands, which is also a plus since usually things are always assumed to be the husband’s fault when many times, it takes two.

There are thirty chapters which means you are meant to go through this book in a month’s time, sort of like a shortened version of The Respect Dare. Both women write fifteen chapters which means they go back and forth between themselves. Each chapter is built on a one-word concept and expounded on and could be read in ten minutes max.

The authors also really open up explaining about difficulties that they have had and about how they worked with their respective husbands. Sometimes, the husbands have a brief sidenote where they will write something and these were always a bonus to read. I kept hoping that there would have been one in every chapter.

All of these are built largely on forming an emotional connection with one’s spouse. Thinking about that, that will work for the men and women because the men tend to think about physical connection and when a woman feels emotionally connected, physical connection is a lot easier for them. It also helps that the women take the initiative in this since frankly, many of us guys don’t really know what to do when it comes to emotional connection.

One amusing part I found was in one of Phylicia’s chapters where she thought God was telling her He wanted her to play video games with her husband, so they played some Mario Party. I know I would be thrilled to marry a woman who wanted to play games with me. I remember hearing a story of a husband who really wanted his wife to go hunting with him and so one day she agreed and they went and sat in the same place all day and absolutely nothing happened. No game came out at all to shoot at.

How did the husband take it? He left saying it was awesome. I can guarantee you then that wife never said, “This is stupid! It’s a waste of time! We could be doing something else!” She just sat there quietly the whole time and he treasured that silent time with her as she participated in his hobby.

And yes, I do realize this needs to be a two-way street, but this is a book for wives so I’m mainly talking to them.

Every marriage can always have room for improvement. I recommend this one for the women out there. Get it and see how it works for you. Husbands can also look through and say what would and would not appeal to them.

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

Book Plunge: Why The Church Needs Apologetics

What do I think of James Rebel Jamias’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jamias is a friend of mine and when he found out I had ordered his book, I found out that he was awfully nervous about my review. Would I like it or would I hate it? Would I be hard or would I be soft?

That being said, it was tempted to start off this review telling you this book was totally awful and not worth reading at all and a sadness to all the trees that had to die. It was tempting to do that and then put out a “just kidding”, but I decided against that. Still, I had to mention the idea just for the comedic effect.

Okay. So let’s talk about the book. By and large, I agreed with much that was in it. Now as a seasoned apologist, I really didn’t find anything new in the book that stood out intensely. That’s okay. The book wasn’t written with someone like myself in mind but more with a person who wasn’t as familiar with apologetics, which could sadly include a lot of pastors.

So let’s go with the positives first.

To start, this book is very accessible. If you don’t have a clue what apologetics is, by the time you pick up and finish this book, you will not only know what it is, but you will also know why it is important. You won’t find apologetic arguments in here, but that’s okay. This book isn’t meant to provide those. This book is meant to show what a difference apologetics makes and why it matters to the church today.

Second, this book is short. Someone without a lot of time they want to invest can read this book. I could see a devoted reader easily reading it in a day. If you have even just fifteen minutes a day to read a book, it shouldn’t take you long.

Third, this book is in short chapters. Benefit of that? Great for small group discussion then. It’s easy to come together and read a chapter and just discuss what was read.

Fourth. Jamias also lists various resources that can be used, including my own podcast that I hope to start up again soon depending on if I get the necessary funding for that or not. Jamias lists them by level and so if you want to get started, this is a place to go. I was pleased to see The Case for Christ, for example, as it was the book that lit my fire.

So now let’s go on to the negatives.

I did talk with Jamias about this and he agreed, but there is a lot of reference to Ravi Zacharias. This book was published just shortly after he died and the news of his lifestyle had not come out. Jamias did personally confirm to me that if he wrote a second edition, references to Ravi would be severely edited. If you are reading this, please keep that in mind.

I do respect William Lane Craig as a great apologist, but I sometimes find there is a constant reference to Craig’s work. I would have liked to have seen more variety in this as there are plenty other great apologists one could go with. I wondered sometimes if I counted all the footnotes to Craig what percentage they would be.

On a smaller matter also, I disagree with Jamias on 1 Peter 3:15. While he thinks we would have the case if this was the only verse we had, I think it is not actually about apologetics. Thankfully, there are plenty of other excellent verses that I think are about apologetics.

Lastly, Jamias does speak about how we present the case and says sometimes we make winning the argument more important than winning the person. I might sound contrary, but yes, I think sometimes the focus is on the argument and should be. Why? Because there are some people who at the time of a public exchange are obviously not interested in Christian truth, but they are more interested in shaming and mocking Christianity. This can especially happen online.

What is the goal then? The goal for me is to shut down opposition and make their side look shameful and build up confidence in the Christians on my side and hopefully let any fence-sitters see what could be a strong and confident case for Christianity. Jamias is right that often the audience is the one to be won in these encounters, so I just take it to the conclusion and say sometimes you should be more interested in shutting down opposition. (Was Paul trying to win Bar-Jesus to the faith when he struck him blind or was he trying to win over the king who was watching?)

Those negatives, however, are miniscule in comparison to the positives of the book. Get this book for yourself and read it. Get this book for your pastor and have him read it. Get this book and share it with a small group leader and make it a group reader. Either way, get this book and read it.

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

Book Plunge For Fun: Rabbi David Small

What do I think of Harry Kemelman’s books published by Fawcett Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am trying to read some more fiction and if there is any kind I especially enjoy, it’s detective fiction. It’s also fun when the main character is not really a detective in the professional sense, such as the Father Brown mysteries, which I have read entirely. Being on Kindle and getting newsletters from them of books on sale, I regularly saw these books on sale and then one day, I saw a combination of four for something like $2.99. That was enough for me.

The rabbi is indeed a rabbi and not a Messianic rabbi, but while I disagree with his religious beliefs, I do like the way he goes about solving mysteries. David Small is the main rabbi in the series and he uses reasoning based on Talmudic principles and the Torah to solve his cases. He is someone who is aloof from the world around him and is not easily swayed. I couldn’t help but like the way his wife described him. “David will change the world before the world will change my David.”

Small does form a good relationship with the chief of police in the town of Barnard’s Crossing where the books mainly take place. The interesting aspect of Small is his nature in that many times he solves mysteries without really setting out to solve them. He’s rather nonchalant in the way he goes about it. The only big exception I have seen thus far is the first book where his wife has to insist he solve the case since he himself is a suspect in the case.

In the other books, it seems to practically come out as just a regular part of conversation. There is no jumping up and shouting “Eureka!” It’s more of “Just follow this piece of evidence here and then look at this and see how it has to be this way” and before too long, the criminal is identified. Small makes no big deal about what he has done.

Not only all of this, but he regularly has to put up with the trials of running his congregation, who too often are not on his side. This is one area where it makes his not solving crimes a big deal interesting. No one in these meetings at least thus far says “The rabbi has his issues, but he is practically a celebrity with the way he has solved so many cases.”

I have read the first four books in the series thus far and then I plan to read the rest, but I am waiting to get the books in chronological order. Small is an amusing character and one who it is fascinating to see the way his mind works. The works do have a lot of Jewish references in them and that could be difficult for some readers to follow who are not in those circles or familiar with that language, Fortunately, there is not really anything essential to the cases I have seen thus far.

If you see this deal on Amazon or see it at the library, pick it up and give it a try. I liked the first four so much that like I said, I am looking forward to reading the rest.

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

Book Plunge: The Big Picture

What do I think of Sean Carroll’s book published by Dutton books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is a book an atheist reader of the blog suggested I should read. Naturally, I jump at such an invitation. (Keep this in mind atheists I interact with who make it seem like you might as well commit ritual suicide before reading any Christian academics.) I found the book to be a good one to read, thankfully not hostile for the majority towards Christianity, and nothing struck me as an emotional rant of any kind.

However, I did not find it persuasive. The science was fascinating, but not being a scientist or playing one on TV or studying in that field, I choose to not debate that point. Generally, when I come across something I’m skeptical of in science, I accept it for the sake of argument and see if it does any damage. Note that this is the science itself and not the philosophical conclusions some atheists draw from the science.

One post I made early on on my Facebook about the book was as follows:

However, I do comment on the other areas. Sean tells us that all that we have ever seen in our lives is material stuff and the material stuff is all that exists and that our knowledge of the world comes through observation.
I can agree to a large extent with the latter, but it doesn’t lead to the former. Let us take one example. As I sit here on my bed, I see to the left of me my cat Shiro. Now note that all I see when I look there is Shiro, one type of creature. I have in my mind the idea of an animal, and that concept of animal includes me in it, but yet the animal I am is not the animal that Shiro is.
Now you could take me to a pet store and I would see several people and several cats. I would not assume that each person is a whole different species or each cat a totally different animal. There are different races of people and different breed of cats, but all would fall under the category of humans or cats. However, I cannot observe the idea of human, animal, or cat. I observe many humans and cats and derive from those observations the idea of human, animal, and cat. Those concepts are immaterial concepts.
In the same way, Carroll can write about how we determine to be good people, and yet while I fully believe goodness is real, it is certainly not something I see with my eyes or detect in any way with my senses. Now we could say those essences aren’t real, but that leads us to nominalism which I think is even more difficult for science.
I could go on and list other concepts. Numbers. Triangularity. Existence itself. We notice things that are triangles and things that exist, but we don’t notice triangularity and existing itself.
Much of naturalism is just reductionism and ultimately, unlivable. Just as when Carroll talks about something being good, it is smuggling in something that is not scientific and trying to include in the rubric. It doesn’t work.
And this is a problem that many scientists have. It’s easy to take an idea like goodness or something and run with it assuming it is real. We don’t stop to think about what cats and humans are. How is it that even a small child can recognize catness in several cats while noting that they are all different? Again, just because knowledge begins with observation, it doesn’t mean it ends there.
Also, as I said later in another post, which I share again because there’s no need to reinvent the wheel:
Still going through Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture.” It’s not a bad book really. There are many parts that I agree with. He talks about events that could lead scientists to think the best explanation is beyond the natural world, such as the Second Coming of Jesus taking place and the dead being resurrected.
He then says it’s not that science presumes naturalism, but it has concluded that naturalism is the best picture of the world. He then speaks of all that we do and weighing out the evidences and then weigh out the conclusion and naturalism is ahead of the alternatives.
But there’s a little bit of sleight of hand going on here. It’s subtle and I think a lot of unwary readers would not grasp it, but here it is.
Carroll is speaking of science as if science is an authority doing its own study and coming to its own conclusions. No. Science doesn’t study anything. Science doesn’t say anything. Men and women who use science study and speak.
Carroll is also assuming that people who agree with him speak for all of science and all scientists. This is not so. I am not saying anything here to shoehorn in ID or creationism or anything like that, but there are plenty of intelligent scientists past and present who see no problem with holding a Christian worldview and agreeing with scientific study.
The same could apply if we replaced science with history, philosophy, theology, literature, or anything else. These are all fields that we study and different people in the fields come to different conclusions. I am convinced a study of history shows that Jesus rose from the dead, but it would be foolish to say that as if all historians agree with me.
Science is a wonderful tool and Christians should support it, but Carroll is speaking beyond science here. Science studies material means and low and behold, that’s the judgment many scientists make. You might as well conclude there is no paper buried on the beach because the metal detector can’t find it.
And this is something that does happen consistently and we must be on the watch for it. It’s too easy to throw out science as if it was speaking for itself. This can happen with any field other than science, such as history or philosophy or economics. Science doesn’t say anything. Scientists say things using science.
Later, I wrote something about what he said about NDEs.
On p. 219-220 of Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture, Carroll is making an argument that there is no soul and he is talking about NDEs. He refers to the book “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.” Is that book a known fraud? Yes. The boy who was the source said he made it all up. Unfortunately, that’s the only book Carroll interacts with and ignores all the others.
Suppose I said “Now if you study evolution, take a look at Piltdown Man. Piltdown Man was a fraud. What does that tell you about the case for evolution?” That would be a shoddy argument. Even if you disbelieve in evolution and think it’s false, it should be accepted that pointing to one case that is a fraud is not a good way to argue against it.
Someone who does accept evolution would come and rightly say, “Yes. That was a fraud, but what about all this other evidence such as XYZ?” Now at that point, you can argue that evidence and see if it makes the case and that’s not for me to decide, but if you just present one fraud and ignore everyone else, that’s not really being honest.
Carroll also talks about cases where people put objects in a room in case an NDE takes place so that the person can see them. He says this has never happened though. So let’s assume that’s true. So what? That means all the other cases that happen, such as the dentures case You can see about that here:…/an-nde-to-sink…

That’s just one. There are plenty of others. You can pick up most any good book on NDEs and find several documented cases.
Like the problem of evil, it’s easy to make your opponent look weak if you argue and ignore all the positive evidence and just put in all the evidence you want. However, if your opponent is familiar with the data, he can easily show you up. The downside often though is that people don’t fact check what they read if it already agrees with what they want or think to be true.
So could it be still that NDEs are false and there is no soul? Perhaps, but this is not a good way to show it.
No one would accept in science a case where you cite one false occurrence and then throw out all the data on the side of that occurrence. It would be totally invalid to look at just one evolutionary fraud and then say all evolutionary science is bunk. Unfortunately, Carroll has done that here and hasn’t even looked at an evidential NDE at all.
There is also something worth being said about evolution:

Still going through Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture” and reading a lot about evolution. The main point being stressed is that the language is difficult because agency language and intentional language is hard to avoid as evolution acts without intent.
Now you all should know by now I’m not going to argue for or against evolution here. That’s for you all if you want to. I leave that to the readers who want to comment. I am not a scientist and I do not play one on TV and if I tried to speak on a subject I didn’t do reading on, I would embarrass myself.
However, I can speak about the philosophy of science and I do notice that evolution is often spoke of in terms of agency, which is really difficult to avoid as I think it’s part of the human tendency. At the same time, the biggest loss in this is really the removal of final causality. Some of you might be wondering what that is.
Aristotle listed four kinds of causes overall and the final cause was the reason something exists. What is the goal? What is the endgame? That doesn’t have to be an intentional goal. An iceberg floating through water makes it colder and does not turn it into cotton candy. The iceberg is not intending to make cold water, but that is what happens.
And evolution does not make sense without final causation.
After all, what is the point? That the fittest and best might survive and reproduce. This is not saying evolution if real is an intentional agency. It’s saying that that is the result when left to its processes just as the iceberg all things being equal will make the water colder.
For Christians, this is also the way we need to really look at design. You can go with an ID route all you want, but I prefer this route. This route that says there is a way that things consistently act in the universe, so much so that we practically expect it and can build scientific theorems around it. Imagine doing science in a world where one day water boils at 212 degrees F, the next day at 163 degrees F, and the next day at 34 degrees F. The world would be chaos.
And yet, it isn’t. There is consistently order in the universe which needs to be explained. Things act, intentionally or unintentionally, towards ends, and that needs to be explained.
If evolution is true, well that’s just the way God did it and cool. If it is not, God chose another way and cool. Either way, our system is set for working towards an end and for the Christian, even if the system is not intentional in its working, which we do not think it is, the mind behind the system and the rest of the universe is.
Again, I leave it to you all if you want to debate evolution. God bless Christians who do, provided you show it’s false science if it is. That’s not for me to determine. I just don’t want it to be we go to skeptics and tell them to choose the Bible or science. Too many will choose science, and sadly many Christian youth will do the same.
There’s also the section in the book where he said Quantum Field Theory is how we know we can’t bend spoons with our minds.
Just a guess, but I think many of us don’t have a clue about that theory and yet have full confidence we can’t bend spoons with our minds.
On p. 203, he says theists think they have a better explanation of the universe because they root it in a necessary being, but then says that there are no necessary beings.
And that’s it.

Glad we got that settled.

Imagine if I said, “Evolutionists say they have a better explanation based on common descent, but there is no common descent.”
Ridiculous? Yep. True? How should I know? Bad argument either way. It would have to be demonstrated on my part and I am nowhere close to making such an assertion let alone demonstrating it.
Finally, let’s look at one section definitely worth quoting verbatim.
“You’re telling me that judging right from wrong is just a matter of our personal feelings and preferences, grounded in nothing more substantial than our own views, with nothing external to back it up? That there are no objectively true moral facts out there in the world?
Yes, but admitting that morality is constructed, rather than found lying on the street, doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as morality. All hell has not broken loose.
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll pg 409-410.

As I contended in earlier blog posts such as here, this is a highly dangerous claim to make. If morality is not real, why don’t we live accordingly? If we are making it up, we can make it to be whatever we want. Anyone can set their own rules. Nothing is right and wrong. We just hope other people will play the game the same way we do and the only way to back it up is might makes right.

Fortunately, we live in a world where good and evil are real. I suspect we all know it to some extent not by our actions so much as our reactions.
Carroll’s book is good, but I do not find it persuasive. It is a step above many atheist writings, which sadly isn’t saying much, and he does strike me as a reasonable fellow, but I walked away not finding any major challenge.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 7

Is there an afterlife? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I went to my copy of this on Kindle, which is how I read it, and I started looking through this chapter for what I highlighted. What is there? Turns out, there wasn’t anything.

There’s two reasons for this.

First off, I have not done a lot of looking into the question of the soul. Yes. I have read some matters, but if you ask me my opinion on these kinds of matters, I will refer you to other books. One cannot study everything.

Second was the biggest flaw I had with this chapter. There was nothing on near-death experiences. I consider near-death experiences (NDEs) to be some of the best evidence that can even be accepted by some secularists that on a general revelation principle can demonstrate that there is more to us than our bodies.

This data has been gathered for decades, and yet Bradley doesn’t interact with it at all. I have often said that this is one of my biggest problems with many atheistic writings. They do not interact with the best material on the other side.

Now I will briefly say what I can on the other points. For one thing, when we are told that if there is a soul, how do the body and the soul interact? This strikes me as a really poor argument because we all use things everyday that we don’t understand how they work.

I am a multi-tasker. As I sit here in my own room writing, I have a TV on, I have my Android phone here, and I’m on my laptop. There are two game consoles in here as well as an Alexa and an Echo. I can use all of them.

Please don’t ask me to explain how they work. I don’t have a clue.

Not only that, there’s something else in this room that I don’t have a clue how it works, but i use it every day. That’s my own body. If you remember the original Peter Pan movie, something that was hard to explain was how to fly. You just do it. For me, it’s like how I can try to explain to someone how to play a video game. I have to look at the controller when I do it, because for me, I touch the buttons so regularly that it’s second nature and I don’t always remember what button I am pushing when I have to explain it.

So picture this. How would you explain to someone how to walk? How am I willing myself to type at this computer? I am sure there are some people who have written on this, but I am speaking from my own experience and that’s that I have no clue. I can have an idea that I want to write something and yet do nothing, but then somehow I start typing and I cannot explain the difference.

So ultimately, someone who is interested in body-soul debates could say a lot more than I have here, but ultimately, while there are hard questions, the questions don’t pose to me much of a problem in light of the other evidence that is not touched by Bradley. Namely, this is the NDE aspect. I would have liked to have seen that, but I am not surprised that I didn’t.

Next time, we look at much more liberal ideas that he interacts with.

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