Truth or Happiness

Do we want to live true lives or happy lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about reading James Rebel Jamias’s book, which I did enjoy, and one idea that stuck with me on there was something that I have recently concluded. Our culture consists of people who care about happiness more than they care about truth. Aristotle began his Metaphysics by saying all men by nature desire to know. Today, the modern equivalent would say that all men by nature desire to feel.

We can all relate to this on some level. There have been times all of us have had something that we want to avoid being true because of the pain that we will feel, a state we call denial. My first major encounter with death was a sunday school teacher who I had a close relationship with. To this day, I can still remember being at the church for his funeral service and thinking, “This still has to be a joke. He’s going to jump up and tell everyone the truth soon. He has to.”

Sometimes, this can even be lethal. How many people have avoided going to a doctor because they think they might have a condition and they don’t want to hear that they have it? In reality, they do and it goes untreated and it becomes something untreatable and fatal when if it had been caught early, it could have been treated.

This also has severe moral consequences. With marriage, which I have been writing on, how many people are entering into marriage and doing so because the goal is that marriage is meant to make them happy? It is all about them. Now don’t get me wrong on something. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy and there is nothing wrong with wanting a good for yourself in marriage, but it’s not just about you.

Hence, too often when the feeling fades, which it will, we think the marriage has faded and it’s time to move on. It’s not about a greater commitment to something beyond ourselves. Instead, it’s about what is expedient for us at the moment. When divorce is too easy an option, it is the option that will most often be chosen.

In many of the daily lives of people today, it’s not often asked “What is the good thing to do here?” Instead, we are asking what will bring us the most happiness at the moment. When was the last time you heard someone talking seriously about virtue?

Is our Christian community any different in the West? Hardly. If anything, most of our emphasis seems to be on how we feel in our relationship to God. If we feel good, yay! Christianity is true and God is real and we want to worship and praise! If we don’t, then Christianity could be false and God might not exist, but if He does exist, He hates us, and why bother with worship and praise?

In reality, a Christian life is supposed to have all of these. You are not meant to be happy in all of your Christian walk. Jesus wasn’t and it’s the height of arrogance to think we should have something that Jesus never did. Jesus was sad sometimes. Jesus was also happy, but if we look at Isaiah 53, Jesus was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.

This is not to say bad feelings and emotions don’t matter. It’s not to say that for chronic problems you shouldn’t consider therapy and possibly in addition medication. With my divorce, I have both going on. Definitely if you are experiencing strong suicidal feelings, get help right away.

One great hope for our culture is when we all strive to be people of truth. In our religious debates, it’s easy to claim the other side is going with emotions. There are emotional benefits to each side. If you’re a Christian, you can claim you will get to live forever and that you will see loved ones and never die and spend eternity in a place of joy and happiness. I think even a lot of atheists would like for something like that to be true.

On the other hand, a Christian can say an atheist has reasons for them to not want God to be real. One big reason could be a life of sexual liberty in that you get to pursue sexual happiness and do what you want in that area. Another could be one doesn’t want to live under the authority of God. One could also not want to believe in something the rest of their social group will consider foolish. There are many more on both sides we can think of.

Also, in both groups, there are sadly people who don’t really care about truth and don’t want it. These are people who only read what agrees with them and base their arguments for their position on how they feel about something. The first question we should ask about Christianity is not if it makes us feel good or if we like it or if it’s beneficial to society. The first question we should ask is “Is it true?” If it is, then we should believe it even if all the other questions are answered no. If it isn’t true, then we shouldn’t believe it even if all the other questions are answered yes.

It is my hope that we can begin working more on a truth quest instead. Our emotional quests are more often centered on looking within and finding something for ourselves. When we look for truth, we are looking for something outside of ourselves and what we can submit to and ultimately, what we can live our lives based on.

It’s up to you which you choose.

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

Jesus and the Centurion

How did Jesus treat the centurion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had said I would do some talking on Jesus and the crowds. I wish to now speak a little bit more on the story of Jesus and the centurion in Matthew. To begin with, we need to try to see this from the perspective of a Jewish person living in Israel.

This centurion is said to be a good man as he paid for a synagogue for the people, but even today, in a similar situation we would be suspicious. “Of course that politician paid to get a new hospital put up! Look at how much press coverage he gets over it!” This centurion could have very well been noble in what he did, but some people will look with suspicion. Some won’t, but some will.

What was inescapable however was that this centurion is a reminder that the Israelites don’t own their own land. Who provided the synagogue? An outsider. What outsider? One that represents the ruling power in the world that hopefully, the Messiah will deliver us from.

Even if this guy has done a lot of good, Israel would by and large prefer to not have him around. They would prefer to have the land to themselves. They were still waiting on the deliverance of God.

So now here comes Jesus and how many could already be wondering if this guy is the Messiah? If so, well surely He’s going to deal with this centurion. He’s going to tell him he’s an intruder and needs to get off the land. Those who think in such a way will be highly disappointed.

This centurion has a simple request. He wants one servant healed. When he asks, he tells Jesus that Jesus doesn’t even have to enter his house. This centurion, a man or honor and prestige in Rome, is not worthy to have Jesus in his house. All Jesus has to do is say the word. The centurion illustrates this by explaining how he says a word to a servant and they do it.

This centurion is understanding that as he has authority over the realm of his servants, Jesus has authority over the realm of at least sickness. Who knows for sure how far this goes? Keep in mind this is a pagan gentile giving this statement. (He could have been a God-fearer, but we have no explicit data showing otherwise. Either way, he would have been seen as outside of the covenant.)

After the healing, Jesus turns to the crowd of people and what does He do? The exact opposite of I’m sure of what many people were expecting. He tells them He hasn’t seen a faith like this in all of Israel. Sorry guys, but this gentile here has you beat!

Not only this, but he pulls this over to the next world. He says that many will come from all over the world to join the feast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but many of the Jews themselves in Israel will be cast out and not entering. If you are a Jew in the audience sick of Rome and wanted to see Jesus lay down the law on these guys, you got the exact opposite of what you wanted.

This is not a good day for you.

Something we can think about here is that Jesus did not say something to please the crowd. If anything, He said something extremely offensive to the crowd. Jesus in all His talks never apologizes. He never takes back anything that He says. He says it and it’s out there and that’s it. If you don’t like it, He’s not responsible for your feelings.

I am not saying we need to be needlessly offensive, but if Jesus was not afraid of offending His audience with the truth, why should we? A huge problem in our Western society today is that offensive statements are deemed unallowable because someone’s feelings could be hurt. Everyone’s feelings will get hurt sometime and the more we coddle this, the more we make it that we can’t handle anything. As a pastor I was talking to yesterday said, “The early church was willing to face death for Jesus Christ and we breakdown if our air conditioning goes out.”

Not only this, but Jesus is considered one of the greatest personalities and speakers of all time as well as one of the holiest and best men who ever lived. Now as a Christian, I think he’s the best of all time period, but even non-Christians can praise the life of Jesus in these areas and often do. Aside from the crazy position of mythicism, most everyone would tend to agree that Jesus is a figure that is admirable in many ways.

Jesus did not sway to popular opinion.

Perhaps we should be the same way.

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

Book Plunge: The Parasitic Mind

What do I think of Gad Saad’s book published by Regnery publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

(Note that this was book was listened to through Audible so I cannot reference pages)

Gad Saad is a Lebanese Jew who is an evolutionary psychologist and probably more on the agnostic/atheistic side and is a Libertarian. I am a caucasian Christian apologist who has never left America and a solid Republican conservative. We are two very different people then and yet I think we would be able to converse on not only many areas we agree on, but many that we disagree on as well.

Saad is a professor and is seeing a contagion rise up in the university. This is a problem where we are more concerned about feelings than we are about truth. The university was meant to be a place where ideas were discussed and students were opened up to contrary thought and opinions. More and more universities are talking about safe spaces and microaggressions and trying to remove anyone who is a speaker that disagrees.

We all saw that when the 2016 election came to a close and soon numerous crowds were out in the public complaining constantly about the results and asking for safe spaces and therapy animals. We have people that are supposed to be either adults or preparing for adulthood and this is what happened. The same happened when Kavanaugh was being appointed to the Supreme Court.

This is also happening when people are allowed to put fear into everyone else because they feel offended. It happens when someone gets to a place of prominence and then something is found from ten years ago that they flippantly said on Twitter and then the Social Justice Warriors come out. This is a crowd that is hungry for blood and will raise their voices until their demands are met.

What is happening is more and more a world where feelings trump reality. If someone who is a boy says that they feel like a girl, well who are we to disagree? If someone then says they are a dog or a fire-breathing dragon or anything else, who are we to disagree? Feelings trump everything else.

This is also a world where anecdotal experience rules the day over real study. Consider the case of the idea that vaccines cause autism. Anecdotes are given of people who have a certain experience and that is supposed to overrule the studies that are done.

Many times, this is all done in the name of such ideas as diversity, inclusivity, and equality. Generally, these are thought to be good things, but not when they are weaponized. If you dare question someone, the first accusation that can be thrown out is racist or sexist or transphone or homophobe or any such claim.

Saad spends a lot of time talking about the whole idea of Islamophobia. He looks at the terrorists on the FBI most wanted list, the worst nations for women to live in, and other similar statistics and what do you know but there’s something that ties these all together. However, these people are said to not follow true Islam. Who does? Well your friend who claims to be a Muslim and eats pork and is gay. He is what Islam is all about.

Ultimately, Saad sees this as a war on reality and reason. I am inclined to agree. This does hit also in the area of science such as when a paper is given that says that women might not be as good as men at XYZ due to sex differences. This is not allowable because it’s sexist. It’s not asked “Is this true?” It’s instead asked “How does this make us feel?”

I did disagree with Saad some when he spoke so much about the scientific method, but this could be a difference in terminology and if we discussed we might find that we agree more than disagree. I would stress that not all things are scientifically verifiable and there are truths of math and logic and also truths of history that we uncover by studying historical documents.

Saad’s final message is that we stand up and let our voices be heard. Someone might unfriend you on Facebook? Big deal. Real friends don’t separate and pull apart just because they have political differences. There will be risks for all of us involved who want to stand up to what we see going on around us, but they will be worth it.

If you care about ideas and truth, get this book, learn it, and spread what you learn.

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

 

You’re Being Checked

Should you share that story from the pulpit? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday sitting in church, I heard my pastor tell the story of Patrick Greene. Greene was an atheist activist wanting to remove a nativity scene from the area where he lived when he came down with a condition that needed surgery. The church in the area raised up the money to help him get his surgery. Shortly after that, he actually converted to Christianity.

I found the story interesting and decided to look it up to see if it’s true. Turns out not only is it true, but Greene is now looking to become a Baptist minister. This was a relief because too many times when I have heard other pastors share stories from the pulpit like this, they have turned out to not be true.

Go back a few decades and this might not be the big deal it is now. Today though, it is a major deal. Your church has especially young people (Let’s hope it does!) who are technologically savvy. They know how to get up on their phones immediately and look up what you said.

If they find out in a search that what you have said is false, they are less inclined to take you seriously. If they cannot take you seriously on a minor point they can look up on their phones, why should they take you seriously on the resurrection? That’s a very valid question. Why should they?

Seriously. Why should they? If you can’t bother to fact-check a story you are going to share that will take only a couple of minutes, why should they trust you on what would take much more time to test?

Now suppose you’re not a pastor. Are you safe? No. If you don’t fact check what you are sharing on the internet, which never forgets, then you are doing the exact same thing as a Christian.

Recently, I shared a Babylon Bee story on a friend’s page who had shared a Babylon Bee story of her own. Both of them were about the VP debate. Someone commented and asked if I know the Bee is satire and that Trump supporters will seem to believe anything.

I replied saying I knew it was satire of course. My friend had shared one and I shared one I thought was even funnier. I also shared that as a political conservative, I have had to take to task many of my fellow conservatives often and I hate it. Of course, that could be because many of my company is also conservative and so that’s what I see the most.

I have taken down false information from liberals before, but I really hate having to do it with my own side. Why do it though? Because if you only care about taking down falsehood on the other side, you don’t really care about truth. You just care about ideology.

Pastor. Today, it’s more essential than ever that you do your best to fact-check your account. If you’re not sure, you could possibly share the story and say “There are differing opinions on the story so I’m not saying it’s absolutely true, but I want you to draw a lesson from it.”

This is especially true if we want to reach youth for Jesus. If our churches do not do this, they are more likely to die when the older generation dies off. If my wife and I go into a church and we’re the youngest people we see there, I start predicting a soon coming death for the church. Older people die of and you need others to replace them and if you aren’t drawing in people, you’re not really winning anyone ever. You’re more of a social club.

I’m thankful my pastor’s story was true. I have heard too many that are not. I know enough about Christianity to know it’s true despite messengers that don’t do their homework. What about that newcomer though? What about that skeptic?

Are they worth a brief fact-check?

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

The Charge of Lying

What does it mean to lie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am a stickler for something in a debate or conversation and that is a charge of lying. Too often, when someone says something that is untrue, it is said that that person is lying. Actually, someone could be lying and in an odd way telling something that is entirely true. It depends on what is meant by lying. If we use the definition of telling something that is untrue, then any time you took a test in school and didn’t get 100 on it, you were lying on it.

To lie is to say something that you believe to be true and yet saying that it is not true or to say something that you believe to be false and saying that it is not false. If I sincerely believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I say that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then I am lying. If I sincerely do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I say that Jesus did rise from the dead, then I am lying.

This is important because the claim of lying involves a claim of moral turpitude with it. It is saying that the person who is saying something untrue is not only getting the facts wrong, but they are saying something with a malicious intent of some sort behind it. Of course, that could also be disputed at times. We can consider cases such as the Hebrew midwives, Rahab, or the question about if the Nazis ask you if you’re hiding Jews.

When it gets to that point, then the debate or discussion will often become a moral discussion instead of, ironically, focusing on what needs to be the main issue of discussion, whatever the truth is. It’s much harder to listen to the other side when you have already decided that that side has intent to mislead. It also puts the other person unnecessarily on the defensive.

If we accuse someone of lying, we need to be able to have reason to suppose that they know otherwise than what they are saying to us. If I believe X and you show me non-X is true, it does not mean that when I claimed X, I was lying. It could be I was just ignorant of some information or perhaps it could be that X is really right, but you present me with information that leads me to think it isn’t and I change my mind wrongfully from a true position to a false position. Either way, it does not follow that someone is lying.

And fellow Christians, we especially need to be careful of this. We are supposed to walk as Jesus walked and if we throw around the liar accusation too much, we won’t gain any grounds. Just consider people like Richard Carrier who constantly states any negative reviewer of his work is lying. After awhile, most of us have just stopped listening. Let’s make sure people don’t stop listening to us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/14/2018: Abdu Murray

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If we went back a few decades, we would find many debates still, though not as common likely, and all of those debates would still have each side thinking there is an objective truth and it is worth knowing even if we can’t know it for whatever reason. Today, it’s not the same. We live in a world where truth is seen as just a matter of personal opinion. Feelings determine what you believe more and more.

Go on social media and you will often see people sharing stories. These stories are not even checked for accuracy. Many of them have been hoaxes. Some of our government officials have even shared such stories before thinking that they were true. People have had to ask if the Onion or the Babylon Bee can be fact-checked.

This has also come over into the realm of sexuality. Sex has been reduced to something that is more feeling-oriented instead of having a real purpose in society. We have reached the stage where people think they can mutilate their bodies and do whatever to them to match the true identity that they feel.

I don’t know how many times I have seen the story of a person who is married with kids and then leaves it all and proclaims himself a homosexual. Stories suddenly come about saying that this person has found their true self. It’s strange that those stories never work in the reverse when a person goes from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

How do we handle this? To discuss this, I’m having on Abdu Murray. He has written a book recently called Saving Truth. He will be my guest as we discuss it and what can be done to restore the concept of truth.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Abdu is the North American Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of three books, including his latest book, the bestseller, Saving Truth – Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World.  For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam.  After a nine year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith alone can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe.  He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and televisions programs all over the world and hosts the podcast Embrace The Truth with Abdu Murray.

Abdu holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.  As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer.  Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  

Abdu lives in the Detroit, Michigan area with his wife and their three children.

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please also consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review. I really enjoy seeing them! Thanks for being fans of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Saving Truth

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

Murray is writing about a situation that I have thought for a long time has plagued the church. It is that we live in a post-truth society. Nowadays, the truth doesn’t even matter. How someone feels about a claim matters or how well it serves an end-game is what matters.

This isn’t the fault of the world alone. The church is also to blame. The church determines truths based on feelings just as much as the world does. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard about doing something as you “feel led.”

There’s also the fact that Christians can just as easily spread false information. Last night, I had to deal with a family member who shared a news story that I could tell in less than a minute was false. Going further, I found that the website also held to the idea that 9-11 is an inside job. Yep. Real reliable source there.

I get greatly bothered when I see something like this happen. We have the job of trying to convince people that Jesus rose from the dead, a fact that they cannot check the veracity of immediately, but we will so easily share stories that can be easily seen as fake? Doesn’t that damage our witness of the Gospel?

Murray also writes about our misunderstanding of freedom. We think by freedom that there is a certain something that has no hold on us. That is true to an extent, but it like saying being literate means that you can decipher symbols in an alphabet. Yes, you can, but you need to able to do more. You read so you can learn much more that there is to learn. You read so that you can be a better person.

In the same way, you are free not to pursue whatever you want to do, but you are free so that you can pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful. You are free to live for something greater than yourself. Freedom is not about you get to do whatever you want, but you are free to do as you should.

Murray also talks about issues of human dignity, what does it mean to be a human? Do we treat human beings as objects more in this day and age? What about issues of abortion?

Issues of sex and gender are definitely on the stage. Murray begins this chapter with a question a woman asked in an open forum about Christianity and homosexuality. It dominates the landscape in this chapter as Murray keeps thinking about it. Murray deals with the purpose of sexuality and questions relating to transgenderism as well. What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

Murray also deals with questions of science and of pluralism. Both of these are issues that strike our epistemology. Science is seen today as the only way to truth. Pluralism is seen as rude and exclusive.

There are many issues discussed in Murray’s book. Each of them in itself is worthy of a book-length work. Murray’s book is a good look at these topics and often shared from the perspective of an ex-Muslim who had to realize that truth mattered more than anything else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Why Christianity Is Not True: Chapter 1

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

Justin Brierley asked around recently to see if anyone would be interested in engaging with a skeptic who wrote a book called Why Christianity Is Not True. If you know me from my work on here, you know I jump at the chance to read something like this. I got in touch with David Pye who was glad to share his work with me. It is free for all to read and can be found here.

Pye is in the U.K. so people here are probably not as familiar with Nicky Gumbel. In the U.K., he runs a course called Alpha. This is a sort of introductory course for new Christians to Christianity and for those willing to explore it. I do not know much beyond that.

One problem I have with this first chapter is so much is said as if Pye wants to do everything he can to avoid offending someone. That could be noble at times, but here, it just got tiresome. I kept wanting us to skip ahead to the meat of the discussion.

So let’s go through and look at some highlights.

“At the mention of the word ‘evidence’ the reader might want to say “But surely religious belief isn’t based on evidence – it’s all about faith isn’t it?” ” I can sincerely hope that this book will not go down that route of the same modern misconception of what faith is. I want to hope it, but I have seen it happen so many times I am quite certain I will be wrong. We will see when we get to that chapter.

Pye also does say that even religious experience counts as evidence. I agree, though it is not a piece that I normally use. He does also have some brief statements about the Inquisition and the pedophile priest scandal. On the Inquisition, I look forward to seeing if there are any references as sources that talk about hundreds of thousands of people dying in history during the time are simply false.

From here, we also get a bit on the question of if we should be asking if Christianity works. I agree with Pye that this is not the key question. I am not even sure by what we would mean by saying Chrisitanity works. Is Christianity supposed to always make you happy or something like that?

Pye also says he is using Christian as a noun. He lists the following beliefs a Christian will have.

There is one God – eternal, all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing.
 God’s nature is triune. This is sometimes expressed as The doctrine of the Trinity or
“three persons in one God”. These are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
 There exists a spirit world – angels and demons – that was created by God. This
includes the devil (also known as Satan or Lucifer).
 The universe was created by God.
 Mankind is sinful and sin deserves punishment.
 The man Jesus, in his life on earth some 2000 years ago, was God manifest in the
flesh – fully God and fully man.
 Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary, and was the Messiah.
 Jesus was crucified to death but was resurrected “on the third day”.
 As a result of Jesus’ resurrection, sin and death have been defeated.
 Although there is some controversy amongst Christians about the nature of salvation,
most Christians would say that salvation is a gift offered by God that an individual
can receive – or reject.
 When a person becomes a Christian he/she has therefore been saved by Jesus.
 As a Christian a person is a new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit and expressing
God’s love in and to the world.
 Jesus shall return to earth – this is known as The Second Coming.
 There shall be a final judgement of all people.
 People who are saved are destined for eternity in heaven.
 Those who are not saved are not destined for heaven – and, according to many
Christians, are destined for hell.
 The Bible is the authoritative word of God.
 On occasions God intervenes in the natural world through miracles – including
miracles of healing – often in response to prayers by Christians.

Some minor points here, I would disagree with. I think we can make an emphasis that Christianity is all about heaven instead of the resurrection, and I would prefer to speak of the return of Christ instead of the second coming. I prefer to call the Bible, Scripture, instead of saying the Word of God since I tend to reserve that for Jesus. Still, this is a good list.

I also agree with Pye about possible problems with the idea of Christianity being described as a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is language I do not use. I also agree with him that Christianity is not just about what happens after one dies, but how one lives their life here and now and what God is doing here and now.

Pye also says that he is writing to just show Christianity is false. He is not writing to show any other position is true. This is fair enough and I have no problem with it.

However, we have a huge problem when we get to a point where he says, “I have no expertise in either history or mythology and therefore make no attempt to evaluate whether the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical event.” If the resurrection is the defining event in history that shows Christianity is true, then one cannot really show it is not true without dealing with this topic. I do not know how Pye thinks he will be able to demonstrate that Christianity is not true without giving a better explanation for the rise of the early church than the one that rests in the resurrection of Jesus being true.

I also agree with Pye that truth must be our goal. I do not hold to any relativism in truth such as if you feel it, it must be true, or to any idea of true for you but not for me. As a Christian, I am making a claim about the way reality is. I fully accept that.

I also think Pye has made a wise stance saying we are not concerned with proof but with evidence. Very few claims can be proven 100% true with absolute certainty. What we have to ask is where does the preponderance of evidence lead us.

Pye also has a listing of what the chapters will cover. The seventh is on the existence of God. Pye says we can wonder why that topic comes so late. He doe say theism does not prove Christianity. I agree. Theism is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

Finally, he gives a little bit about himself. Pye says he came to be a Christian at 23 and abandoned it three and a half years later. Reasons are not given yet for his abandonment or even his coming to Christianity. There is also some disappointment in that he says that he will cite Wikipedia articles. At least he tells when they were referenced, but readers know my stance on Wikipedia and it being a horrible source for any claim remotely controversial.

When we return to this book, we will be looking at the chapter on miraculous healing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/25/2017: Brett Kunkle

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, your prayers are appreciated today. Earlier this morning, we took our little cat Shiro to the vet. He has some dental problems and likely will have one tooth extracted. We hope that all of his issues right now are dental. That’s all I think it is as well as other people familiar with cats we’ve talked to, but Allie is scared about it. We pick him up this afternoon.

Now on to the information about the show. I know the date is for tomorrow, but we’re actually going to be recording this on Wednesday so it could be a little bit longer before you get to hear it. Still, the content will be the same.

Getting apologetics out has always been important and today, it’s especially important to get it out to the young. Our youth need apologetics more than ever and the good news is, it’s out there more than ever. There are several great programs out there that are helping to introduce Christian apologetics to youth.

Someone told me about one of these organizations called Maven. It’s run by my guest this time. Maven focuses on the youth and gives them three of Mortimer Adler’s six great ideas. The three it works on are truth, goodness, and beauty.

Why do we need these? Because the opposite messages are being given to our youth every day. If we don’t give them a message, they’ll only receive one message and it won’t be the right one. Maven focuses on reaching the youth so they can be prepared to engage with the culture. The person behind it is my guest, Brett Kunkle.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Brett Kunkle is the founder and president of MAVEN (www.maventruth.com), a movement to equip the next generation know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty. He has more than 25 years of experience working with junior high, high school, and college students. Brett has developed a groundbreaking approach to mission trips, creating a one-of-a-kind experience that immerses participants in real-life engagement in apologetics, theology, worldview and evangelism in Berkeley, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, Brett is a Teaching Fellow at the Impact 360 Institute.  He was an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and co-authored A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. He received his Masters in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology. Brett lives with his wife and kids in Southern California.

I look forward to talking to Brett about these topics. As readers of this blog and listeners of my podcast know, I am quite passionate about making sure that the youth have apologetics. Please be watching your podcast feed for this upcoming episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you haven’t yet also, please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It means a lot to me to see them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

5,000+ Gods

How do you know you have the right deity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s understandable that when it comes to major issues, many of us have strong opinions. It’s understandable that many of us seek to be informed on those opinions. It’s understandable that many times we will want to talk to others about those opinions who agree and disagree with us and want to either share encouragement or change minds respectively.

It’s not understandable though that people share nonsense all the while thinking that they are sharing a powerful argument. One such case recently happened on the Unbelievable? Facebook page. An atheist, no doubt convinced he had a brilliant argument, shared the following meme and asked what the way is Christians find out of this particular dilemma.

People who post this stuff really don’t bother to understand world religions at all. For instance, consider the Buddha. Many Buddhists in the classical system would be seen as atheistic and not think the Buddha is a deity. The Hindu pantheon has several lesser gods, some more prominent than others, but nothing seen as a sort of ultimate deity. Many would have no problem saying that of course there are 5,000 gods, but could say that all of them are real.

Let’s start with something simple though. All truth claims are exclusive. If I say 2 + 2 = 4, then any person who says an answer that is contrary to 4 is wrong. We could say to people who think I am the husband of Allie Licona Peters that “There are billions of men on this planet who could be her husband, but don’t worry, the claim that Nick Peters is the only right answer.” Of course, it is.

How could this work with atheism? Just replace gods with worldviews. There are almost 5,000 worldviews being believed by humanity. Don’t worry. Yours is right. After all, atheism is just a strong a claim. It’s a strong claim if the meme is true to say that you worship the right God out of 5,000 or so. It’s a strong claim to say that you are right and everyone else is entirely wrong because none of those deities are real.

The meme when looking at the question also assumes that all deities have the same amount of evidence for their existence and all religions do as well. Are we really to think that, for instance, archaeologically, the Book of Mormon can begin to compare with the New Testament, or even the Old Testament for that matter? You could if perhaps you right at the start assume that all of the systems are nonsense, which would just be begging the question.

This is something Matthew McCormick did in his book The Case Against Christ. He made a list of 500 deities that were thought to be ominpotent, omniscient, eternal, etc. He then said that these gods are no longer worshiped this way. Well, I did something rather odd there. I actually went and looked up all of these gods. Any that were seen that way could be counted on one hand. You can see some of my doing this here including his big gaffe.

What needs to happen then is something that should be obvious to the atheists who say they care so much about evidence, but they often forget. That is to look at the evidence. That means when the theist pulls up the evidence for whatever deity they believe in, you actually look at it and consider it.

If you asked me why I believe in the deity I hold to, I would say that it is the most logically consistent for me. It is very similar to the one Aristotle arrived at in his philosophy. I go with the Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments. It would be quite long to go into here so that will be for another day.

Then when I look at Christianity, I say the evidence for Jesus is overwhelming. To deny His existence is ridiculous. Other theories I see trying to explain the data surrounding the resurrection I find completely lacking. I say this also by the way as one who has read much on the other side. (I often ask an atheist when the last time they read an academic work that disagreed with them was and I very often get crickets in response.)

There are other points. For instance, the number of other deities is actually much more than 5,000. Also, saying one religion is right does not mean that all religions are entirely wrong in everything that they believe. There are great truths in many of the other world religions.

I am of the firm stance that a meme is not an argument. If you have made your argument, you can illustrate it with a meme, but the meme itself is not the argument. People who think it is I find to generally be shallow thinkers. That includes Christians and non-Christians both. Stupidity can be found among the proponents of any belief system just as intelligence can.

Looking at the thread, I do not see any theist that is concerned about the argument. I’m certainly not, but I figured it would be a good example to post here and one question I’m not sure if I’ve ever tackled on the blog. We can hope that the poster will start citing some academic sources in making his whole argument, but I am skeptical that that will ever happen.

In Christ,
Nick Peters