Book Plunge: Apologetics for the 21st Century

November 26, 2014

What do I think of Louis Markos’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For all interested, yes, I am going to be continuing my reviews of some Christ-myth literature, both pro and con, but I’m also busy reading several other books now so I plan on reviewing those as I finish them, so I should have plenty to keep me busy. This also includes a comment posted earlier this week by a Robert G. Price. I have it on my Kindle and when I finish the reading I need to do first on there I plan to get started and write a response. For now, let’s move on to Markos’s book.

Markos’s book is divided into two parts. The first part is looking at major names that have been influences in the world of Christian apologetics. The second part is looking at an apologetic case for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of Scripture, as well as looking at questions about the Da Vinci Code, the new atheists, ID, and the conversion of Antony Flew to theism.

The first part of the book is without a doubt the better part. If you’re familiar with apologetics, you’ll still get something out of this, particularly on the parts about C.S. Lewis. If Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, then in Markos’s view, Lewis made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Christians.

Not that Lewis was without his influences. Although a whole chapter isn’t on him, J.R.R. Tolkien would be among this group. There is a chapter devoted to Chesterton, who is a man more apologists, and in fact everyone for that matter, should be aware of. Chesterton’s writings are brilliant and some of his fictional works are quite entertaining. I can still recall my former roommate before I got married borrowing my copy of the Complete Father Brown Mysteries and planning to read a little bit before going to sleep one night. He had a bone to pick with me the next morning because he didn’t get to sleep until about 1:45 A.M. or so due to having to finish three of the mysteries.

Part Two will give some good information to people who are learning apologetics, though if you’ve read a lot of literature, you probably won’t find much new here, but that’s okay. Writing has to be done on different levels. While I do prefer the first part, I find Markos’s style here is down-to-earth and easy for all to grasp.

What are some areas I’d improve on?

The first is that I would have liked to have seen some citations. Markos does have a bibliography to be sure and he does recommend books and tell you who some big names are in the field, but that could be improved simply by having notes of some kind so you can see where these arguments that you’re getting come from.

Second, I would have preferred to have references made not to apologists so much as scholars. Some of the apologists cited are scholars in the field. The reason is that too often if you’re in debate and you cite someone and you say they’re an apologist, an atheist will be more prone to dismiss them.

Third, there were some claims that I think are incorrect. For instance, on page 168 we’re told that a whole generation is not enough time for a resurrection myth to form let alone a few years, but this is false. There have been people who have had myths made about them in fact the very moment that they died. This has even happened in the ancient world. What the real claim being referenced is is that there’s not enough time for a myth to totally replace the true account. That one I stand by.

Finally, I think there can be a danger of casting one’s net too wide. I understand wanting to have a comprehensive case, but I think too many apologists think they have to make an argument on history, philosophy, science, and everything else out there. I find it better to be more specialized in fact and rely on other members of the body to make arguments where you’re lacking. For instance, I avoid debating science as science. Evolutionary theory doesn’t matter a bit to me to my interpretation of Genesis or the reality of the resurrection.

I would have liked to have seen more in the first part overall. The first part was for me the most engaging of all. The second part is still a just fine introduction, though if you have read widely already, you will not find much that is new. Still, if you’re someone who is just getting started in learning about a defense of the Christian faith, this would be a fine gateway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unmasking The Pagan Christ

November 25, 2014

What do I think of Porter and Bedard’s book? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Unmasking

Unmasking The Pagan Christ is a response to the book of Tom Harpur’s called “The Pagan Christ.” It’s important to note that the reason authors like Bedard and Porter are spending time on this topic is not because the idea of Harpur’s is a serious debate in the academic community. It’s not. They wrote it for the same reason I had my recent debate with Ken Humphreys. It is because this is affecting the rank and file of the church and instilling doubt in them. This is also because we as the church have been doing an abysmal job at equipping Christians to answer challenges so much so that even the craziest of theories has an impact.

Such is the case with Harpur’s book. Harpur’s idea is that Jesus wasn’t a historical figure. Instead, he’s a sort of mishmash of varios pagan deities, though especially Horus and Osiris. He wants to go instead with a sort of Cosmic Christ. A universal Christ as it were. Yet to do this, the historical figure must simply be banished.

Thankfully, there are people out there like Bedard and Porter who are doing the work to make sure that this kind of material is dealt with. A large number of scholars have had the right attitude towards mythicism  (This is nonsense) but had the wrong response. (Therefore if we ignore it, it will just go away.) This is especially so for Christian scholars who ignore this not at their peril, but at the peril of their fellow Christians who aren’t as equipped.

Of course, atheistic scholars and others have a role to play in this as well. There are atheistic scholars out there who are frankly quite embarrassed by how many atheists are jumping on the mythicist bandwagon, as they should be. For atheists who complain about Christians arguing against them on evolution without studying science (And they are certainly right to do so!), it looks like too many atheists are jumping on this idea without really studying history.

Bedard and Porter take us through a course in what Egyptologists really say about Horus and Osiris and how what Harpur says just doesn’t match up. They also demonstrate that Harpur relies on outdated scholarship like Massey and Kuhn, that quite frankly wasn’t even taken seriously in its own day. One aspect I think quite helpful in the look at Egyptology is to point out that the word KRST that shows up in Egypt does not mean Christ, but rather refers to burial. This is commonly cited by mythicists.

The authors use the work of actual Egyptologists who reference what the original works about Horus and Osiris themselves say. They then demonstrate that the parallels that Harpur claims to see are more forced and read into the text instead of being read out of the text. They do demonstrate that there are some parallels, but these are parallels we can expect from all religions. (It’s not much of a shock if many religions use water as a means of cleansing, have people share food together in a meal, etc.)

Along the way, the authors also give us a look at Mithras, another favorite of the pagan copycat crowd. They point out that if anyone dies and comes back in the story of Mithras, it is not Mithras, but rather it is the bull that he kills. Those who claim Christ is a copy of Mithras have likely never read any real scholarship on Mithras.

After that, we get to a more positive case. What is the evidence that Jesus existed? Here I think the authors do a fine job, though the arguments will not be new to people in this field. The authors point out how Harpur misunderstands sayings of the church fathers and does not deal adequately with the extra-biblical evidence.

I am thankful that books like this one exist and I hope more do come. Mythicism cannot be ignored at this point. It is not because it is a powerful theory. It is not. It is because it is a theory that leads away people from doing sound and real history. It results in a conspiracy theory thinking that is extremely anti-intellectual and anti-historical. It is my hope that scholars of all worldviews and positions will start to deal with this and give it the deathblow and humiliation that it deserves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Reality of Jesus

November 24, 2014

Should it change you when you realize the reality of Jesus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My debate with Ken Humphreys is complete and you can find a link to it here. I am very pleased with how the debate went. It is my continuing hope that mythicism will be soon seen as an embarrassing fad that will pass away. I do think as a Christian that the reality of atheists jumping on the mythicist bandwagon is only hurting their cause. They are missing out on far better scholarship in the NT, including from fellow atheists, and damaging their cause from an academic perspective by going with a fringe belief.

Last night I was thinking about it and how really overwhelming the evidence for Jesus is and it struck me as how incredible it is that this is a reality. Now of course the existence of Jesus does not demonstrate that He was the Son of God who did miracles and rose from the dead, and of course atheistic scholarship has their own reasons for thinking he didn’t as well as liberal scholarship that would even identify itself as Christian, but as one who has read much of this, I really consider the counter-arguments quite weak.

Which gets us to the idea that Jesus is a historical reality that everyone deals with and as has been said before, everyone seems to want Jesus on their side. Muslims have Him as a prophet and the messiah and there are many good attributes of Him given in the Koran that are not given to Muhammad. Buddhists and Hindus like him as an avatar figure. Every religion that has come after Jesus has had to say something about Jesus. Even Richard Dawkins has spoken about a movement that he would like called “Atheists for Jesus” to which he thinks Jesus in humility would prefer to say “Jesus for atheists.” In a sense, I think Jesus certainly is! Jesus is not against atheists as people after all.

But if we are Christians, we need to realize that one of the starting claims of our system is true. Jesus really did walk among us. If that’s enough to excite us, imagine how exciting it is to think about the reality that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again. As is said in 2 Peter, we are not following cleverly devised tales. We are following what Luke said is an account that he made sure of.

Christianity is a unique faith in that it deals with historical realities. It makes the claim that these events happened and they happened at a specific place and time. Studying the history and the culture can actually educate us on our faith. In fact, if we are Christians, we have to realize that study of reality period can tell us something about Christianity. Christianity has something to say about everything. There is no one area that is left uncovered.

When Jesus is seen as a historical reality, something must be done with Him, which could be why so many are trying to shortcut and just say there is no reality to Jesus period. I am convinced that it’s an enterprise doomed to failure. The question remains as it was said long ago. Who do you say the Son of Man is?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?

November 21, 2014

What do I think of Casey’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

If you had noticed a lack of Book Plunges on the blog lately, that’s because I was busy reading books in preparation for my debate with Ken Humphreys, and I am extremely pleased with how I did and I am certain that when you hear the debate that you will think the mythicist position was extremely lacking. Still, I did not want to be cocky so I chose to read all I could on both sides.

Maurice Casey was an agnostic NT scholar who seems to have reluctantly found himself drawn into this. I suspect it was something like the case with Ehrman where one of his main assistants, Stephanie Fisher, saw mythicism gaining ground on the internet. Casey decided to start looking into their writings. As can be imagined, he and Fisher both found them extremely lacking, and at the same time, extremely confident.

One benefit this book has is a rogues’ gallery of who’s who in Jesus Mythicism. Casey seems to have a special dislike for people like Earl Doherty, Neil Godfrey, and Acharya S. Interestingly, Ken Humphries is not mentioned at all. It would have been nice to have seen more about Richard Carrier and it would be interesting to know what Casey would have thought if he had got to read Carrier’s book.

Casey does rightly point out that we need to avoid fundamentalism, yet too often he seems to go extreme with that as well. How exactly does Ben Witherington get listed as a fundamentalist? He’s anything but! It’s also important to state that while some institutions of higher learning have a statement of faith, people who sign on to that and agree to teach there already agree with it based on years of research. I can point out that there is just as much on the other end of scholars who are willing to accept any explanation before they’d accept a miracle, no matter how bizarre. Despite that, they can still be excellent scholars and we should avail ourselves of their learning.

A major problem I had with the book of Casey’s is that he really makes a lot out of knowing Aramaic. There is no doubt that Casey was an expert in this field but too often, it looked like the Aramaic card was being thrown around too easily and that Casey’s knowledge of Aramaic meant that he was right in what he said. No doubt sometimes it was valuable, but like I said. It was used too much.

I also wish that something had been said about the extra-biblical evidences. It would have been helpful to include information in that regard concerning Tacitus and Josephus for instance. Mythicists will too quickly throw out the NT and twist any bit of data to go and accept the theory they’ve already arrived at.

On the other hand, Casey does make some excellent defenses of the Gospels including that some healing stories he thinks are accurate, though he does trace them to psychosomatic healings. It’s quite interesting that mythicism has got non-Christian scholars writing books that are showing the Gospels are reliable.

I also wish more had been said about high context societies including resources that could be used for further study. I find this is an important point that many people in the world of historical Jesus studies miss and they do so with great loss. Understanding the social world of Jesus really changes everything.

In conclusion, the book is a mixed bag. I am really thankful that many non-Christian scholars are stepping up to point out the flaws of mythicism and I hope more Christian scholars do so as well. If you are into this debate, if you can call it that, then you could be benefited by reading Casey’s book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/22/2014: Adam’s Road

November 20, 2014

What’s coming up on this edition of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

First off, for all interested in hearing about my debate with Humphreys, I am pleased to say that in my opinion it went very well. I will be getting a link to it ASAP and that link I plan on putting up on the podcast feed. For now, let me tell you what’s coming up!

Last week I interviewed Lynn Wilder on her book “Unveiling Grace.” It was about her escape from Mormonism. Her son Micah was highly influential as he was the first to escape. He went on later to establish a band of ex-Mormons called Adam’s Road. They will be on the show to talk about their escape and also do some music. So who are these guys?

Let’s start with Micah.

Micah_Bio_New

Micah Wilder grew up in Yorktown, IN, raised in the Mormon religion. At age fourteen, his family moved to Alpine, Utah, where he continued to grow in zeal towards this religion. By 2004, this nineteen-year-old young man took his dedication and zeal for Mormonism to Orlando, Florida, where he would spend the next twenty-three months representing the Mormon Church as a missionary. In Florida, a Christian minister challenged Micah to read the Bible as a child. Hoping to validate Mormonism through the Bible and prove this minister wrong, Micah read the Bible vigorously for a period of about eighteen months. During this process, God opened his eyes to the truth of the Gospel, and he chose to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God in front of a mass of Mormon missionary peers. Micah’s LDS leadership sent him back to Utah early from his LDS mission as a result—but his life was just beginning as a missionary for Jesus Christ. In early 2006, Micah left Mormonism, family, and career pursuits for Jesus. He has served with the Adam’s Road Ministry since 2006, where he has a zeal for passionately sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ through testimony and music. He resides in Winter Garden, Florida, is married to Alicia Wilder, and is the proud father of three boys.

Next his brother Matt.

Matt_Bio_Pic

Matt Wilder was raised as a Mormon in Yorktown, Indiana. He spent a couple of years in Utah before serving a two-year LDS mission in Denmark. After his Mormon mission, Matt pursued studies at Brigham Young University as a pianist. While at BYU, his younger brother Micah was released early from his two-year LDS mission trip for testifying of the Biblical Jesus. Micah then shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Matt and encouraged him to read the Bible. As Matt read the Bible, he was eased of the burden of trying to earn God’s forgiveness, and came to realize and accept the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He walked away from BYU to join Adam’s Road Ministry, where he has served since 2006. He married Nicole Wilder in 2006; they have one daughter. Matt enjoys sharing the Gospel message through music and testimony.

And their brother-in-law Joseph Warren.

Joseph_Bio_New

Joseph Warren grew up in Kaysville, Utah, in an LDS (Mormon) home. In 2004, he left home at age nineteen to serve a two-year Mormon mission in Florida. While in Florida, Joseph was challenged to read the Bible as a child. He had considered himself to be a good and righteous person. As he read the Bible, however, God convicted Joseph of his sin. Yet he also learned about God’s grace and the beautifully simple Gospel message of Jesus Christ. As a result, he would walk away from the Mormon Church for a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ in 2006—at the peril of damaging relationships with his LDS family members and friends. Singer and songwriter Joseph Warren currently serves with the Adam’s Road Ministry in Winter Garden, FL. He has a heart for glorifying God through his musical gifts and his testimony of God’s grace.  He married Katie Warren in 2007.

And finally Jonathan Paul.

JP_Bio_Pic_Small

Jonathan Paul Garrison (JP) spent the bulk of his childhood years in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At age seven, he accepted Jesus Christ into his life. He knew the grace of God, and felt as if he was growing in his Christian walk. As a teenager, he served on the worship team at his local church, and had a passion for both music and film. In his late-teens, JP felt as though he was becoming disenchanted with certain aspects the “Christian religion.” After high school, he attended Regent University at Virginia Beach for film, where he also began seriously investigating the Mormon Church. After three years of investigation, JP was baptized into the LDS Church at age twenty. In the spring of 2013, he also joined the Mormon missionary ranks in Hawaii. While on his LDS mission, God pursued him, reminding him of the grace he once knew as a Christian in many ways. For example, JP read “Unveiling Grace”: Lynn Wilder’s account of leaving Mormonism for Jesus. Through this book, he connected with the Adam’s Road Ministry and was encouraged to follow Jesus regardless of the worldly cost. JP’s prodigal journey met a joyful ending as he left Mormonism and returned to his former faith. He joined the Adam’s Road Ministry in the fall of 2014. He is a singer and song-writer for the group. JP has a powerful testimony about God’s unfailing love and relentless pursuit of His children.

We’ll be hearing the story of these four gentlemen on the show as well as hearing some of their music. I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debate Tomorrow

November 19, 2014

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

I want to let everyone know that tomorrow, I will be doing a debate on the podcast out of the U.K. called The Mind Renewed. My debate partner will be Ken Humphreys who runs the web site JesusNeverExisted.com. We will be debating the question of if Jesus was a historical figure or not. Obviously, you know that I will be debating the position that he was.

I do not know when the debate will be up though I have heard a possibility is that it will be up by Saturday. When it is, I plan to put a link up so anyone can listen to it. I do consider this an important debate as Christ mythicism is a position that while still ultimately found unpersuasive by scholars in the field, does rise up on the internet and especially in an age where everyone thinks that they’re an expert on historiography.

Still, I am honored to get to take part in this debate. I’m one of a few on the internet I think who has still insisted that these people need to be answered. I also take this as an example of how it is that we have to be doing better education in the church. It’s not enough to come and sing worship songs together, learn how to be good people, and then have a pizza party. We must educate. The data is out there. It can be understood by the layman. We just need to get it out.

We also need to teach some internet savvy. Unfortunately, in this day and age, anyone can set up a blog or a web site or make a YouTube video. Does that include me? Yep. That’s also why I have encouraged my readers to not take my word as gospel. By all means check me out with the best scholarship. If I make a mistake or you think I have made one, point it out. I have been in the business of refining my position.

Our people in the church need to know how to access information that they come across on the internet. Of course, the best way to do this is to go read the works of leading scholars. This is problematic in our day and age for a people who do not like to do such hard work. How can we expect them to. Do you not know what is on television this evening that we just simply have to watch? I am not opposed to having some entertainment as my wife and I watch several shows. I am opposed to living for entertainment without taking the time to study the issues that matter most.

To my fellow Christians, I simply ask that you pray for me. Pray that God will give me recall of the information that I have worked hard to learn and pray that this will be an edifying podcast that will draw people more and more to the true historical Jesus and of course, hopefully make them  be willing to research Him and in turn, come to find that He is the king of this universe and be willing to bend the knee to Him.

Thank you all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

This Is A Man’s World

November 18, 2014

What goes on in the life of men? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m a member of a number of groups on Facebook. One is the Christian Apologetics Alliance whose main web page can be found here. The other group is a group I will not link to, but it is one for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or just really hoping to be married someday so we can learn how to love our wives as Christ loved the church.

I think my writing here is important for both groups. For the apologetics aspect, part of good argumentation is not just believing right, but living right, though that living starts with right beliefs, and it certainly can be difficult in our day and age to live right in this world, particularly in a period of great sexual license.

As blog readers know, I am writing this from a perspective of a Christian man, though it could just as well apply to anyone who happens to think ideas included in the Christian ethic, such as sexual fidelity within marriage and reserving sex for marriage, are good ideas worthy to be upheld. My method of handling this could be different from yours, but we agree on the idea.

What I will be describing is what it’s like for a man in this world. Some female readers could say “That’s the male side, but you have no idea what a female side is like and how temptation is for us!” That’s true. That’s why I’m not covering that side, although I would say I think I have a good idea on how the world views women and unfortunately, women can often allow themselves to be treated that way.

At the start, it’s no secret that men think about sex and think about it a lot. Does that mean we’re always actively focused on it? No. But it is always on the backburner. It is always looming there in the shadows and most anything can bring it out again immediately. Many women don’t really have a problem with doing something to attract a man or turn a man on. It’s usually pretty simple.

And that puts men in a tough situation.

In our world, there are women all around us who are wanting to do just that. Not only that, there are women who are not wanting to do that, but inevitably do so, and that’s not even just women who dress in a way that’s necessarily drawing. It could be that they just possess enough natural beauty on their own.

One illustration I’ve told men about what it is like in our world is a time that I was walking in a mall by myself. Heading towards me on my left was a female. I don’t mean she was heading towards me as in directly aiming at me, but was going my way. In order to avoid any temptation, I decided I’d to the look away that most men know about. I’ll just look to my right instead.

Which happened to be where Victoria’s Secret was….

And that’s the kind of situation a man can find himself in.

In a man’s world, when a man sees a woman, it’s quite difficult to not notice immediately that she’s a woman. We do have to work on making sure our thoughts do not wander where they shouldn’t. It is the natural male tendency I think sadly to objectify women in some way and treat them as just bodies. That’s part of the nature of the flesh and something we have to work on, and that’s something also that marriage helps you work on when done right.

It can be even more difficult especially in the way women are used in advertising. Sex sells. Many women know it and advertisers know it.

To go back to being at the mall, I was there again last Sunday. I’m looking at various tables that have been set up in an open area and there is one I pass for a spa. Perhaps I can look into something that my Mrs. might really appreciate. I think my wife is a beautiful woman, but hey, we guys all know that a lady loves to get something like a makeover.

Instead, I find a picture of a girl lying in an alluring pose and wearing a top that was leaving very very little to imagination.

You know what? We men who wish to be faithful to our wives? We hate to see something like that. We really do. We want our minds to be in only one place, but in our culture, we are constantly presented with challenges. Again, I am not denying women can face similar challenges, but this is a perspective from men.

Marriage really helps a man out in this area who is someone who burns. Still, there can also be other temptations. I tell men who are single that once you get married and you go on your honeymoon with your wife, everything changes. You never look at anything else the same way again. The way you think and align your priorities will change drastically. If you’re a man reading this and you’re single and waiting for marriage, don’t say you understand. You don’t.

Oh there are several nice things you can do before you marry. which I see as steps 1-8 on the twelve steps of intimacy. My wife and I did kiss on our first date. In fact, since I was visiting her at her parents house, we have a funny story that we were in the living room on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast. This room was adjacent to the kitchen. Her parents and her brother’s bedroom was upstairs.

We have been told that her brother was wanting to come down and go into the kitchen and get a snack. Her parents told her “Nick and Allie are downstairs on the couch and they’re cuddling. You might not want to go down there.” Of course, we weren’t doing anything immoral. Had we been, her parents would have been taking care of the problem. We can say we never saw her brother come down the whole night.

When we drove together, I would drive with one hand and hold her hand with the other. We would walk arm in arm wherever we went. If we pulled up to a red light, it was a good chance to kiss each other some more before the light turned green. In fact, I can safely say it was a time in my life when I was very thankful for red lights and bad traffic.

I encourage young men to enjoy that when they can before marriage instead of having the idea of the first kiss at the altar. We are physical creatures and we should not deny the physical entirely. Besides, I think that can be a difficult switch especially for the women to make. Just save steps 9 through 12 for the wedding.

You see, as good as all those physical pleasures are, and they certainly are, nothing beats what comes on the wedding night and that changes everything. Some women can think that a man could have a hard time adjusting and going from this not being allowed to this suddenly being allowed.

I really don’t think that’s a problem for men.

But also, this opens us up for temptation. Again, it’s not the fault of our wives! It’s the fault of our sinful nature! Once you have this great experience, a man can be tempted to wonder what else he’s missing elsewhere. Women can be the great unknown for us and the sexual union with the woman is in many ways, the ultimate validation of our masculinity for us. Women. There is no louder way for you to tell your man that he is your man than this.

And this sadly is why pornography is such a draw for men.

Again, I know there are women who struggle with pornography, but I’m talking about the men. For the man, pornography can give the feeling of being a man without the work of being a man. You don’t have to work to approach a real woman and learn how to romance and love her and sacrifice for her. Nope. You have a woman who is willing to give you everything and demand no effort on your part other than just showing up.

And yes, many a man will do that just for the sensation of masculinity that he gets. How deep does the desire for sex run with a man? For a humorous look, consider this clip from Steve Harvey’s edition of the Family Feud. Something to consider. Every woman who is asked gets it wrong! Every time a man is asked without coaching from the women, he gets it right.

When the women are asked, they say what they would like to see the man do such as cook and clean. When the men are asked, they say to the extent of what this means to them. Now do I mean to say a loving husband will go out and kill a man just to get sex? No. What I mean is that a man will use such strong language because the desire is that strong.

And women, please realize this. Your man most often desperately wants to be the man for you. He wants to get to adore you and he wants to be yours exclusively. It is hard in a man’s world where many a woman can be locked into the visual memory banks forever.

But to get back to the men, I suspect one reason many struggle with pornography who are married can also be a lack of being grateful. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. (Not because I struggle with internet porn. I don’t.) I think it’s a privilege I have that I get to kiss my wife. I get to drive everywhere I go with her. I get to sleep in the same bed with her every night. Throughout the day, I can pull her close and just hold her. I can run my fingers through her hair. I can do so much. Note I haven’t even included sex yet! All of these things are things I am immensely grateful for!

And these are things to give thanks for in themselves. Yet when it comes to sexuality, that is something incredible to give thanks for. If your wife is faithful, she is sharing something that she shares only with you. She is doing something for you that she doesn’t do for anyone else. You also get the privilege of getting to love her in a way no one else does. She loves you in a way that no one else does.

Give thanks. Follow Proverbs 5. Draw water from your own well. Why be enchanted by another? God gave you a good gift. Enjoy it and celebrate it.

For the women, please understand how important this is. Now some of you might think “Well I can show a bit more affection to him when he starts helping me around the house.”

You know, he should do his part to help you. That’s absolutely right.

But to make a statement like that is really selfish. Marriage is about giving 100% of yourself to the other and there’s no clause in Scripture that says “You are exempted from this if your spouse does not give 100%.” In fact, I would challenge you in this. If you are willing to give to your husband and let him know he’s your man, then when you say “Sweetie. Could you please vacuum for me today?”, he’ll be running to get the vacuum.

Also, sometimes, some women, and even some men, can struggle in this area due to past situations. (Yes. There are men who struggle) Please do get counseling. Your husband will thank you for it if you do.

So have I been too hard on the women with that statement about being selfish?

Then let’s turn it on the men.

Some of you might say “I’d help out around the house if she’d show me a bit more affection!”

You’re being just as selfish.

In fact, your position could be even worse. You’re meant to lead your household biblically. Start being a leader. Part of that is being loving and giving. After all, your role model is Christ. Do you think Christ stops showing love to His church even when His church isn’t loving Him back? He does. Then you have no excuse. You are to go and do what you can to help your wife out and by the way, when you start doing this, you might find she’s also more willing to open up. Even if she isn’t, you are required to give 100% and you have no exemption clause.

But women, if this role is met in a man’s life, you can be guaranteed you will have a happy happy hubby.

But men, regardless of what happens, it is up to you to manage your thought life. There is no justification for pornography. None. Some of you can think it might spice up your marriage. It won’t. The best way to increase your love for your wife is to do just that. Love her. No other woman belongs in your bedroom, not even a virtual one. Make it your aim that all your dreams and fantasies and such are about your wife.

If you stray men, you can say others contributed perhaps to what you went through, but the ultimate blame comes with you. Sure. That other woman shouldn’t have tempted you to have an affair, but it is your fault if you are the one who does it. You do not accidentally have an affair. It is a decision on your part to break the vows that you made to your wife. If you are watching pornography, you are having a virtual affair. You need to repent and make it right. If that includes getting a filter on your computer such as one from XXXChurch, then do it. If that means counseling, do it. After your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship you have.

Life in a man’s world is not easy. Again, I am not commenting on it in a woman’s world. I can’t speak to that. I am just saying what it is like for the men, at least from my perspective.

But life like this is livable and faithfulness is possible. It will start with faithfulness to Christ. Be faithful to Him, and you will be faithful to your wife as well. That I think applies to women as well. If you are being faithful to Christ, you will be faithful to your husband. Also, if any of you are unfaithful to the other, you are not being faithful to Christ.

Please take that seriously and remember, I am one often convicting myself trying to remind myself how serious I need to take matters too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Godbuster

November 17, 2014

What do I think about Elliot George’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Godbuster

When I heard Elliot George debate Jonathan McLatchie on Unbelievable? I wanted to see exactly how bad George’s book was for myself. Maybe what happened on the show was a fluke after all. I wasn’t expecting that, but hey, hope springs eternal. So I bought the book and proceeded to go through it.

It wasn’t at the level of the debate he had with Jonathan I must confess.

No. It went far lower.

Even the art work on this book is ridiculous with a challenge of “Dare To Read This?” Well I did read it and I can say that if you ever have an urge to kill a few hours of your life, you can consider going through this book. Like another bad book I read recently, It left me tempted to be an environmentalist. Why? Because I have great pity for trees that have to die to print this kind of stuff.

So what’s so bad about this book?

A foreword by John Loftus should have told me enough and everything that I thought from that point was confirmed as I got in. Reading George is like reading the rant of a small child and one who by his own admission does not know the subject that he talks about. Yet for a follower of atheistic presuppositionalism is no excuse! After all, if you know about science, that’s all that matters!

For George, science is at the centerpiece of his worldview. Everything revolves around science. Why is it that we are suffering? We are ignorant of science! This must be news to people who were suffering in Communist Russia under poverty where there was a great interest in science so much so that we were in a race with them on studying space.

You can know plenty about science and live in a culture that knows science and still be suffering for any number of reasons. Having said that, I do not think a society should be ignorant of science. Science is extremely important and we need people who will learn it. I will say at the start it is not something I study. I can read many things on science with great fascination. (Reading material about space, for instance, is quite incredible) Still, it is a subject I do not invest serious study in. I prefer historical questions far more. I leave questions of science as science to those who study it.

George starts at location 132 (I got the Kindle format so I at least spared some trees) with saying that religions have been fighting against accepting science since the acceptance of the scientific method. It would be nice to know what evidence there is of this. George doesn’t give any. He said on the show that he wanted it to be simple that even an 8 year old could read it and they wouldn’t be interested in citations. (Because we know a little number after a claim would just really go against an 8 year-old’s reading)

Color me skeptical of this claim and it’s not just a Christian theist like me. Even an atheist like Tim O’Neill says the same thing. Have there been interpretations of Scripture that have disagreed with science? Yes. Does that mean there is a fundamental essential disagreement? No. More on this when we get to discussions of science.

But unfortunately at this point, George has fired an opening shot without evidence other than his say so and the unsuspecting reader is just going to go along with it. It’s amusing considering how repeatedly he speaks about claims with no evidence throughout the book and regularly fails to give evidence for his claims.

He in the same area tells us that believers tend to seek material that backs what they believe and avoid opposite opinions. Belief is then put in a locked safe of sorts in the mind of the believer.

This is certainly true of many Christians.

This is also certainly true of many atheists.

In fact, I would wish to ask George when the last time was that he read a work of scholarship that disagreed with him. For my part, I’m constantly encouraging Christians to read both sides of the argument and learn from it. I have more respect for an atheist that argues for atheism and has read the best in Christian scholarship, than a Christian who argues for Christianity and does not read atheistic and skeptical scholarship.

George tells us also that science has the best method for investigating and understanding the world around us. I wish to know how he knows this. Now I do not doubt that it is an excellent method, but the best? For many of us, the most important questions we have cannot be answered by science.

What is the good? Who do I marry? Do I marry? What am I here for? How do I raise my children right? Is there a God? Does my life have any meaning? Is there such a thing as right and wrong? Why do we suffer? These are all important questions and before dismissing any of them, let’s pause to realize they are all real questions. Most of us have at some time in life asked ourselves these kinds of questions. Science can help with some of them, but it does not give the final answer.

George has much to say about belief which quite frankly is bizarre. He is certainly right that believing in something doesn’t make it true, but no one is arguing that. Belief is just giving intellectual agreement to a claim. It is saying “Yes, I hold that the claim stated is true.” George keeps thinking his idea of belief is the true one and imposes that on every claim that he sees.

Starting on location 234, he says

Raising such speculation to the level of a ‘belief’ is where religions come into the picture. Since this sort of belief is not supported by evidence, religious leaders have found it necessary to counter the inevitable difficult questions by claiming immunity from questioning.

He goes on to say

They have even managed to elevate unquestioning to a position of virtue and ‘righteousness’ in our societies by calling it ‘Faith.’

Well Mr. George, you might be surprised to hear that at my church, we have a saying. “Come as you are. Text in your questions.” Yes. We want people to ask questions. If you come to our church and during the service have a question, there’s a number you can text it in to that we tell you before the service starts. When you do, the pastor will receive it at the end of the service and come out and answer your question. If it’s a question that is rather extensive, he will say that he will make a video log that week where he will answer your question.

By the way, all questions are welcome. We’ve had questions on evil, if Scripture has been changed, sexual ethics, homosexuality, etc. No question is forbidden.

Second, as for faith, George is simply wrong on this. George does not bother to interact with any evidence on this position. He could have at least cited Hebrews 11:1. That would have been the start of an argument, though it would still be wrong. In fact, I have argued elsewhere that faith spoken of in the sense used by most atheists is not a virtue.

Faith instead is trust in what has been shown to be reliable. It is loyalty. Suppose you live in the ancient world and want to open a bakery. You don’t have the funds to do it. You go to someone who does. They give you a gift of money. That gift is called charis, which is translated as grace in the New Testament. In turn, you live your life in loyalty to this patron giving thanks for them and letting everyone know who it is that supplied you with the bakery. That loyalty is called faith. The word in Greek is Pistis.

Faith involves an element of risk. It’s easy to say you believe that the doctor can perform the surgery on you and that you’ll wake up. It’s faith when you act on it. You don’t have faith that 2 + 2 = 4 because there’s no element of risk involved with it. You don’t have faith that you exist for the exact same reason.

George says that the church benefits by keeping the flock in a juvenile mode. He gives a quote from John Shelby Spong, though he doesn’t give a reference of course, and says Christianity is in the business of guilt and control. This is interesting since in the ancient world the internal concept of personal guilt was a misnomer just as it is in many societies around today. A man in a church in Indonesia for instance can have an affair and have no guilt until someone calls him out on it, and then he has guilt. Spong and others assume a modern individualism and then push that on the rest of the world and on the Biblical text.

When talking about why people believe in a deity, George gives reasons such as desire for an afterlife, a sense of belonging, etc. For some, this could be true, but he ignores the reason of many of us. We believe that there is good evidence. Again, you are free to say that there is not good evidence, but that is not the same as saying we are believing without evidence.

On location 401 he says

Dogma is the repeated, arrogant, stubborn assertion of opinion as though it is fact. It is no credible substitute for evidence, and the enlisting of it by religions should be a clue to their weakness, their lack of foundation. Worse than that, believers put their beliefs in a strong box in their heads and secure it with the padlock of ‘faith’. We must guard against dogma and ‘faith'; together they outlaw freethinking and compel conformity and submission.

In many cases, I agree with this. I agree with it so much I think Elliot George should stop it. He regularly repeats in his book a dogma of “no evidence” without interacting with the disagreement against his position. It is as if he is teaching a dogma. That gives me a clue to the lack of foundation for his atheism. In fact, he has padlocked his position in a box called reason. Does that mean I am opposed to reason? Absolutely not! I am opposed to someone saying that atheism = reason. It doesn’t. There are atheists that can reason. There are Christians that can reason. There are atheists that can’t reason. There are Christians that can’t reason. The danger of atheism is a sort of presuppositional atheism that assumes that it is the true worldview from the outset without interacting with the best arguments against its position.

You know, like George’s.

George speaks about a time of profound ignorance when men thought the sun went around the Earth. This is a strange position since it was originally Christians that challenged this and since the reason people believed this was the science showed it at the time. The people were just going with the science of the time. If this is the standard that George wants to use, then perhaps people can disregard him even 100 years from now and say “George’s atheism should be disregarded. It was written about in that time where people were ignorant and believed X” which is whatever scientific dogma we have today that will be falsified by then.

Is George against people going against the science of the time? If so, then why is he complaining about Christians going against evolution? If not, then he should have no complaints whatsoever. For the time being, we had the system of Ptolemy and it worked. In fact, even in Galileo’s time we did not have the evidence we needed yet. That came later on.

Starting on Location 432, George argues that the argument of believing by tradition is that lots of people held a belief for a long time and they can’t all be wrong.

I would like to know very much who is making this kind of argument. Now I will say if a stance is traditional to experts in the field, it takes a lot to overcome it. Still, it is possible to do so if you have a strong enough case.

On Location 477, he says there are about 41,000 denominations. Did we really survey the whole field? This is a misunderstanding of denominations. For one, the claim is just false. There aren’t that many (The number is changing so much) and most denominations are really just fine with each other for the most part. Denominations really refers to a self-governing entity.

By this standard, there could be two independent Baptist churches in a town but on opposite ends of the town since not everyone wants to drive all across town. These churches could have the exact same beliefs, but since they’re independent, they’re each counted as a denomination. George does not realize this. (Probably because he doesn’t really do research in this field and believes claims without evidence.)

He also asks if a person could become a Jain if they wanted to or worship any other number of gods and ask if we have a full working knowledge of all the beliefs. Did we really make a fully informed decision?

We could ask George the same. He has chosen that all of them are wrong. Does he know the ins and outs of every system out there? If not, then has he made a fully informed decision? Has he examined all of them to say that there is no evidence for all of them? This seems like a strange case to make.

And can anyone have exhaustive knowledge in any field? No. Can one have sufficient knowledge to make a decision. Yes. George talks about having a wife in the book, though apparently he has been divorced before. Should we say this “George. Before you decide to marry a woman, did you go and meet every other woman on the planet? Can you say you are fully informed that this is the person you want to be with?” That would be ridiculous. None of us who are married check with everyone. We just have sufficient knowledge to choose the one we have.

George also asks if your faith position is an accident based on the location of birth and faith of your parents.

Since I know many Christians who were born in non-Christian households and are devout Christians today, then no. It is not. I could just as well say if I was born in a third world country today, i would likely believe the sun goes around the Earth. Since I was born in a culture that values science and can do it, I don’t. Should I doubt that belief because of where I was born?

George also says that since we can be fickle and change our beliefs, they can’t be very important. Right? This is an incredible statement. It is as if George believes all beliefs were created equal. At one point, I did not know my wife. At another point, I said I know her and I believe she could be a person I can marry so I kept dating her. Then I believed she is a person I can marry so I proposed. Now I believe I love her today and she loves me. That is not fickle. If I am to change my mind on anything, it is not just because I want to. It is because I have a reason. No one can change their mind just because they want to.

Suppose I had a brain scan device that could actually read your mind. I hooked it up to you and said “I can tell what you’re believing right now, so I want you to really believe there’s a pink elephant flying over your head and if you do, I will give you a million dollars.” Suppose you knew I had the money and that I was reliable and would do so. You still would walk out without the money because you could not just force yourself to believe it.

George meanwhile says scientific facts are believed because they are
supported by evidence, but religious beliefs are not like that and are just personal choices. This again is a false notion of belief. It’s not what any of us mean by the statement. If I say “I believe the Earth is 13.7 billion years old” I mean that I give intellectual agreement to the proposition even though it is supported by evidence as far as I’m concerned.

He also argues that since mankind has had a number of deities that have gone away and aren’t believed in, surely one shouldn’t think any one is true. We might as well say since man has believed in many scientific theories, then surely since those were seen as defunct, we shouldn’t believe in the ones today.

He also says

Imagining that your beliefs, your ideas, your opinions, your choices are important is the height of arrogant conceit, Isn’t it?

This from a man who published a book with his beliefs, ideas, opinions, and choices, that we should think are important enough to buy and read about. I guess George is guilty of arrogant conceit.

Interestingly, he rightly has the quote in the book by Feynman that the first principle is not to fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. It looks throughout the book like George has fooled himself.

Location 601 has two pargaraphs together worthy of full quoting.

‘Scientists understand that it’s acceptable to change their minds.’ Just think what that means: scientific facts are not fixed and ‘true’ forever. They are simply the best current understanding of reality. If new evidence comes in, the model may have to be revised. Scientists are prepared to listen to opposing opinions; they do not claim to have perfect answers or even be able to provide proof, only probability.

How unlike the unbending culture prevalent in most faith based organisations. Believers tend to make unfounded assertions, stifle opposition and try to strength their doctrine by unceasing repetition. Do you think they have to dogmatically protect their doctrine because they perceive that the lack of supporting evidence makes it vulnerable to dissent?

This from a man who makes numerous unfounded assertion in his book, as we will see, tries to stifle the opposition by making false statements about them regularly, and goes by unceasing repetition of the mantra of “No evidence.” Do you think George has to dogmatically protect this doctrine because the lack of supporting evidence makes it vulnerable to dissent? If he actually studied Christianity, for instance, he might find out people have reasons beyond feeling and emotion for believing in it.

To which, now we can start getting into some of these facts. How about Mithras being born on December 25th? That would be news to the scholars of Mithras I’ve read! None of them have said that! How about 3000 years ago the Romans believe in Dionysus who was also born on December 25th? First off, no he wasn’t born on that date. Second, the Romans weren’t even around at that time. The Roman World which is an Oxford classic, dates the start of the Roman Empire to 753 B.C. and that’s when it’s a fledgling state.

Next he says that 2,000 years ago in Judea there was a man who was claimed to have many of the same characteristics of these pagan gods.

Congratulations to George for having some of the best scholarship of the 19th century.

Of course, George has the Stephen Roberts quote of how he just goes one god further than us and when we understand why we dismiss those other gods, we’ll know why he dismisses ours.

It’s really a shame atheism has fallen for such soundbite thinking. Imagine being on a jury and hearing the defense attorney say this.

“Men and women of the jury. You all believe that many people did not commit the crime and I agree with you. I just ask that you go one person further with my client. When you realize why you believe the others didn’t commit the crime, you’ll know why you should not think my client committed the crime.”

No lawyer on Earth should be stupid enough to try such an argument.

Yet atheists think it’s a powerful stumper.

George also says that there are billions of people on the planet and there were billions before us. Numerically, each of us is insignificant like an ant. From there, he draws the conclusion that we are as unimportant as ants. How does this follow? Does this mean that if we had more people born today, our lives are somehow less important? If instead a meteor hit the planet and killed half of us, our lives would somehow be more important? Shouldn’t our value be based not on how many of us there are, but what we are?

George says repeated observations are the strongest form of evidence. It’s the gold standard.

Can George give me any evidence of this? If he does, he needs to repeat that, then he needs to repeat it again and again and again. Repeated evidence is a good standard in science where you can repeatedly test claims, but it does not work in other areas. You cannot repeat history for instance. You do not do this in Math. You do not do this in philosophy. There are other ways.

George also argues against experience as evidence because there is no way of telling one from another. There is however. The evidence! In fact, we have to use experience. If we are doing some testing on a patient, we sometimes have to ask how the patient feels. The only way we know that is the experience of the patient and what they tell us. Does George really think we learn nothing from experience?

George also says we can’t trust testimonies because people giving a testimony are performing before an audience and naturally making the story more gripping by embellishing it and thus it gets less accurate.

It would be nice to see our court system learn this fascinating truth. It’s a wonder George believes it himself. Does it not occur to him that some people will want to make their statement as true as possible and thus not embellish it so that people will take them seriously? This assumes on George’s part that people will lie and be dishonest. No doubt some will, but why think everyone will?

Amusingly in his very book, he says books should be viewed with suspicion. After all, he is modifying his text right now. They are records and not evidence unless verified.

This from a book that avoids citations and telling us that we should not trust books.

I can’t help but wonder how the publisher passed this book on….

With religious books, he asks if we’ve ever heard of Chinese Whispers, which we also know in America as the game of telephone with an example. A captain says to a messenger in the trenches to tell the general to send reinforcements. We’re going to advance. The messenger says to the general to send three and four pence. We’re going to a dance. Because of this, we can’t trust oral tradition, just watch breaking news.

Or you could do something unusual and actually study oral tradition, unless you want to make claims without evidence. (Well that’s not accurate. George has evidence, but it’s poor ignorance based on a lack of knowledge of the kind of society he’s critiquing. Isn’t it arrogant of him to think he knows how these societies function without studying them?)

Has he considered reading ANYTHING on oral tradition, such as The Lost World of Scripture? Does he not know that in these societies, memory was much better due to not being able to write things down? Stories weren’t just told one time as in Chinese Whispers without the ability to go back and ask again what was said. Stories were repeated and there were select gatekeepers who guarded them. The stories were told in group settings. Some minor variations were allowed, but you could not change the thrust of the story.

This is why people who do not study these things should not write about them. No scholar of oral tradition would take George seriously. George is to religious scholarship what he thinks Christian fundamentalists are to evolution.

He then tells us that different Scriptures disagree and events in them contradict the Laws of Physics. There is no interaction with Craig Keener’s Miracles. There is no interaction with the agnostic John Earman’s look at Hume’s Abject Failure. Does George not know the kinds of things ancient people did believe in with a rudimentary science? They knew it took sex to make babies. They knew people don’t walk on water. They knew that if no one intervened, dead people stay dead.

On location 899 he says

The Bible was edited in the 4th century AD under the command of Emperor Constantine and it has been translated, transcribed, and re-edited many times since.

Not even Bart Ehrman would support this nonsense.

No. Constantine did not order the editing of the Bible. We have manuscripts of the Bible pre-dating the fourth century that can easily demonstrate this. Again, this is scholarship of the 19th century. Constantine ordered the printing of fifty Bibles, but he had nothing to do with any editing and had zip to do with choosing what books went into the canon. If George thinks the Bible has been edited so many times since then, then he is free to take a modern translation, compare it to the ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts we have, and then tell us what the drastic difference is.

We are all eagerly awaiting it.

He also says the Koran dates to the 6th century. This is false. The revelations to Muhammad would have come in the 7th century. A basic Google search even could have shown that.

On 927, he argues no one can prove a negative.

Really?

Has he proven that? If not, then why should I take it seriously. If so, then a negative has been proven. Either way, he is taking this as a proof and in any case, cannot demonstrate it.

On 935, he goes after Constantine again saying he sent one of his women to the holy land to search for evidence to support Christianity. Why? Because Constantine adopted it as the state religion of the Roman Empire.

This is false. Constantine’s mother did go searching for famous Christian sites, but not at the order of Constantine. Constantine also made Christianity a legal religion, but he did not make it the official religion. That happened decades after his death. Again, this was basic knowledge George could have easily checked on. Could it be he didn’t read anything that disagreed with him but read some rubbish from skeptical sources? Why would he do that? Is he trying to protect his faith? Did he not bother to verify? He must be a man of faith!

But most hysterical along these lines is that George has the quote of Pope Leo X of how profitable the fable of Christ has been.

Oh please George! Please do tell me the source for this quote! I so eagerly anticipate that!

On location 984, he says that before science, when a question was asked, someone just guessed and told their children. The answer got passed down and that’s how religions originate.

Well first, I’m wondering what question was asked with the answer of “A divine Messiah was crucified and rose again.” Second, I’m wondering if George has read ANYTHING on the history of science and philosophy? Even in the Middle Ages, questions were answered with scientific answers. Many times, they were bad answers since science was just coming into its own, but they were not God-of-the-Gaps answers.

On location 1019, he says the scientific method has provided us with everything we know.

Okay….

Can you show that using the scientific method?

After all, George says we know that. Surely he can show it.

Can he use the method to show there is a real world external to his mind? Maybe we live in Berkeley’s world or even the Matrix. Can he use it to show that reason is valid? Can he use it to show the scientific method is valid?

It is a tragedy such nonsense like this is printed.

In case you’re wondering, since George believes this and he believes science can only provide probabilities, then there is no absolute truth.

Yes. He really says that….

On location 1100, he says external truth is relative. It’s subjective. He even says your truth may be different from mine.

Okay George. It’s my truth that God exists and it’s yours that He doesn’t. Why are you arguing against my relative truth?

He then tells us what the truth is somehow. That is that we live in an illusion created for us by our sense organs and brain.

This is the point where my wife asked me if I had a headache or something.

Moving into creation accounts, no shock that George reads them like a fundamentalist thinking that everything happened in one week of 24 hour days and that God really needed to rest. It would be nice to see him interact with works like The Lost World of Genesis One or on a more scientific note to consider Hugh Ross and Reasons To Believe. Alas however, if you’re a presuppositional atheist, you have no need of evidence of what your opponents believe. It’s no wonder he thinks the light being made on day one and the sun on day four is a major stumper.

It’s quite amusing then when he has a little diatribe about double-standards and how they aggravate him. You know, like the double-standard of Christians better study evolution before the speak about it, but atheists don’t need to study Christianity before they speak about it. And George, in case you ask, yes. I do think Christians who don’t study evolution and argue against it need to be quiet.

Naturally, he has a list of beliefs with no evidence such as God (Did you bother reading any theistic arguments whatsoever) or the resurrection (Did you bother reading Mike Licona or N.T. Wright?) and a few miracles. (Did you bother reading Craig Keener?)

It’s easy to say there’s no evidence when you just ignore what your opponents say.

On 1321, he argues that a view today seems to be God kick-started life and left it to evolve and asks how that works with a Bible that is ‘gospel truth’ and the ‘word of god’ and ‘inerrant.’

It works just fine. Thanks!

He also says that according to a creation account, creatures must be made fixed and unchanging. This isn’t according to any account I’ve heard. Now some might put limits on evolution, but no one I know doubts there is some degree of evolution. George also has a hang-up on a perfect creation. Some might say that, but I have for a long time been a contender of the idea that this world was not created perfect, nor was it meant to be. In fact, considering what perfection is, I don’t see how that is even possible.

On 1342, he says believers tend to have a distorted view of evolution. This is compared to the way politicians misrepresent the ideas of their opponents.

Oh the irony….

This from someone who extensively misrepresents Christianity in his book.

Oh by the way, he hates double standards….

And FYI, on 1372 he says he doesn’t believe in evil. He prefers the word heinous, though one wonders what the difference is.

Of course, on 1389, George thinks the evidence of science produces cognitive dissonance.

It’s a wonder to think what atheists would do without the words “cognitive dissonance.” It’s become a mantra practically. But hey, what can you say about people who believe in dogma?

George also says that Christian apologists claim the word day can refer to a longer unit of time and asks if we hear the bottom of a barrel being scraped.

Well, he could just look at linguistic evidence. Did he consult any Hebrew works on the meaning of ‘yom.’? Not a bit.

By the way George, with my interpretation, since mine is not a scientific reading but a functional reading, I can believe in the Earth being 4.5 billions of years old, even in evolution, and still hold to 24 hour days and a traditional week. Again, try reading Walton sometime.

On 1546, he says that sadly most believers just haven’t read the latest facts and their information is from sources with bias, like the creation museum.

Oh please do tell us your sources on Christianity, George! You’re not up to the latest facts since you use 19th century arguments! Please tell me also your sources are not “biased.” Every source has a bias. Your own book has a bias. Bias is an excuse.

Well he does give us one source. For missing links, he directs us to a Wikipedia article.

That’s right. Wikipedia.

He then asks why no one questions missing links in faith? Isn’t it a leap to go from “The Bible is true” to “There is a supernatural creator.”

Well first off, I don’t accept this natural/supernatural distinction. Second, the answer to the question itself is no, it is not a leap. If the Bible is true, then all that it says is true and that means that it is true that there is a God. That’s not a leap of logic. That’s just basic facts. Watch.

Whatever the Bible says is true.
The Bible says God exists.
It is true that God exists.

This is basic logic George….

On 1674, he tells us that we are taught in houses of worship that morality comes from the Scriptures.

Sorry George. Not my position again. I hold the Scriptures have teachings on morality, but not that the Bible creates morality. You can know morality apart from the Bible. Even Romans 2 shows that.

Yet of course, George thinks the Bible has awful teachings. He of course thinks no one has said anything about these, such as slavery, or stoning children to death. With passages like marrying a rapist, he does not realize that was to punish the rapist and to protect the woman who would be seen as not worthy to be married by others. Again, some basic study of the Ancient Near East would have helped.

With the Ten Commandments, he actually uses Wikipedia as a source and says rape is not mentioned nor is assault and the text is obviously misogynistic.

Rape would be included under adultery and the later law worked out assault. The Ten Commandments are a start and in a didactic society are not meant to be exhaustive. George just keeps showing his ignorance.

He also says that many Christians will say the quotes atheists use of Scripture are taken out of context and not read in their proper historical context. That’s true. George just sees this as ridiculous and then says so many in the next breath say the Bible should be interpreted literally. This is one reason I think we should just kill the word “literal.”

With forgiveness, he actually thinks it means you are released from your responsibility on Earth. No. It doesn’t It means you are put in right relation again with the person that was wronged. There could still be consequences. He even says the Catholic church has made a business out of forgiveness.

Hate to tell you George, but indulgences died out centuries ago.

He tells us that in the Crusades, 9 million were killed. Half were Christians.

Let’s see. We have George saying this without a quote. What do we have here?

We have a statement like

The information required to answer this question was not recorded, and so it is impossible to know how many people died. In general, contemporary commentators recorded only the names of leading crusaders who were killed, and gave large rounded estimates of the numbers of ordinary knights and other soldiers who died. They usually did not mention non-warriors at all, except in a sweeping and vague statement. The writers would sometimes record, for example, that the crusaders had killed everyone in a city, but they gave only round figures for the numbers of dead. We may suspect that in fact they were boasting about how wonderful their warriors were and what a fantastic victory they had won (which they interpreted as a sign that God was on their side), but that in fact many people had escaped.

We only have a professor here. I guess she needs to be acquainted with George’s work.

George also tells us to beware of men who are certain that God is backing them. Doubters are much more harmless!

You know, doubters like Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, etc.

He also gives us a Telegraph article that was published on what readers thought were the ten worst Bible passages.

1 Tim. 2:12. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

George. You might want to do what I did. I interviewed a female scholar on this, Dr. Lynn Cohick. You can start listening around 46:51 to see what she says.

1 Samuel 15:3. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

This is said without any knowledge of the history of Amalek and Israel. He could consider Paul Copan’s book and of course, my interview with Copan on the topic.

Exodus 22:18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.”

In a society like Israel where you were to remain loyal to YHWH, going to outside powers would be an act of divine treason in the community. Treason has been punishable by death in America. Sorcery was a dangerous practice then.

Psalm 137:9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!

George is unaware that in ancient societies, this was the trash talk of the day where you were open with your emotions and feelings. The Jews sang this in reply to the Babylonians who had captured them and were tormenting them and had done this to them and saying “May God judge you as you have treated us.” It was not at all saying they were doing it!

Judges 19:25-28.

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home.

George claims this says the Bible permits group rape of servants. No. It records it. In fact, Judges treats this as one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. The whole passage is saying “Don’t become like this Israel!” This part of Judges tells us that in those days Israel had no king and each person did what was right in his own eyes.

Romans 1:27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

For George, this is the start of Homophobia. Is he unaware that Plato condemned homosexuality in the laws? Some ancient doctors who were pagans condemned the practice as well. Sure, some Greeks had no problem with it, but some did. Only someone ignorant of the ancient world would say this. Perhaps he should consider Robert Gagnon and his book on the topic.

Judges 11:30-1, 34-35 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord‘s, and I will offer it[b]up for a burnt offering.”

34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.”

George again is unaware of how this passage has been interpreted. A number of Christian interpreters of the text say that the daughter was instead sold into temple service. No priest would have accepted her as an offering. That’s why she mourned not that she would never die, but that she would never marry, which would also mean she would not have to share the inheritance….

Genesis 22 is the passage of Abraham offering Isaac which George takes to mean God wants your sons burnt. He ignores that this passage was a sign of the faith of Abraham and loyalty and the sacrifice never went through as Abraham had planned. Again, no scholarship read.

Ephesians 5:22. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Yes George. It was obviously written by a misogynist. Did you just ignore everything a man is to do for his wife? Oh yes. You did. Fortunately, not all of us do.

1 Peter 2:18 “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.”

We’ve already addressed slavery in this post. No need to do so further.

Perhaps George should have read about “study to show yourself approved” and if you do you need not be ashamed.

And of course, why can’t God express Himself clearly? Clear to whom? What person? What culture? What time period? Isn’t it arrogant to think the Bible should be clearly written to you instead of everyone else.

Also, in the books, he cites Brian Flemming. I guess this tells us where he gets the pagan copycat stuff from.

Getting back also to atheist regimes that kill as he talks about how religions aren’t peaceful, he says those weren’t inspired by ‘supernaturally’ authored Scriptures.

I’m sure that’s a great comfort to all the people that were killed in the Gulag! Hey! Sorry you were killed, but at least it wasn’t because of Scriptures!

Nope. It was because some people took George’s argument to its conclusion.

There is no good. There is no evil. There is no Heaven to gain or Hell to shun. There is no God to judge me. I have power here. I have enemies. Why not do something about them?

In 2225, George says to not believe it when believers say that atheists are immoral, cold, empty, etc.

Again, I’m not sure who’s saying this….

He also says it’s necessary to use a pen-name for this book to avoid damaging the Christian market for his other books.

No George. It’s good that you used a pen name because if other people found out your writing was so bad in this one, they wouldn’t want your science books. If I wrote material this embarrassing, I’d want to use a pen name also.

He says why would knowing more about something detract from it?

I agree. That’s why I have no hesitancy to letting people study science. I want them to learn as much as they can. Perhaps you should try it George in the area of religion. Why would knowing more about it be so harmful, especially if you want to argue against it? If your belief is true, the best scholarship will show that. Right?

On 2249, he says if you want a purpose, make your own.

Again, like Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, and others did.

Of course, he also says 98% of criminals in jail call themselves Christian.

This ignores that if you call yourself a Christian, you can get perks like air conditioning and getting out of a cell for chapel services. You’re told to list a position when you go in. Why not list one that will give you perks?

On 2273, he says

To those who accuse me of stepping outside my own specialism to take on religion, a subject they like to think I know little about, I say “It’s you who are stepping on my turf with your ‘explanations’ of the origins of the universe and everything in it.”

Christians speaking on science without knowledge? Bad!

Atheists speaking on Christianity without knowledge? Good!

Keep in mind, George hates double-standards.

Sorry George. I’m saying squat about the origins of the universe. I don’t study it. You are saying a lot about what I believe and you don’t study it. Don’t step on my turf. Okay?

He also says atheist should not be taken to mean no god. This is false. It comes from the Greek word as he rightly says. Theos is God and alpha is the negative. It’s simple. No God. If he wants to say it just means belief, then he needs to say theism is just God belief and you don’t need to prove it. What would you do to prove you believe something? He should want this since he hates double-standards.

But consider this. Imagine that God exists and there are atheists. By this standard, atheism (Lack of belief in God) would be true and theism (God exists) would be true. But this would mean two contradictories were true. The result is nonsense.

He then gives another howler with

We are all born without a faith so we all start life as atheists and, until evidence for the existence of a god is produced, we will all be living ‘without god’ – we are all atheists! Tell that to your theist friends!

What a powerful argument! We are also born crying and gurgling and peeing and pooping on ourselves as well and until we’re taught otherwise, we will continue to do so! Tell that to your atheist friends!

And this man used to be a teacher. I pity those students. I really do.

George wraps things up with some unholy questions as he calls them.

Does God give us free will?

Yes?

How can He have a plan then?

God is like a stage master that knows where the plot of the play is going but lets His actors ad lib some and can work everything to that plan still.

Is God in Hell?

No.

He’s not Omnipresent then!

Actually, this is a misnomer. Hell is not a place. Hell describes a relationship. 

Is God omniscient?

Yes.

Well if He knows everything, including the future, He can’t be omnipotent because He won’t be able to change known things.

Omnipotence means power to do that which power can do. If God knows He will do something, that will not change as He eternally knows it and eternally does it and no new information is coming in. God could have done otherwise but chose not to.

Is God omnipotent?

Yes?

Well, he can’t be omniscient then because he can alter what he was supposed to know.

See above.

Did God make Eve from Adam’s rib?

Yes?

She had the same DNA then and must have been male! It was Adam and Steve!

Specifics of how this were done are not given. We can be sure she had different DNA since she was female and if God can make a universe, creating female DNA should not be a problem.

Did God create light on the first day?

Yes?

But the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day!

See Walton again per above. This one doesn’t make me blink at all.

Did God create plants on day three?

Yes?

What powered their photosynthesis on day three then? There was no sun until day four!

See Walton again.

Seriously George. Do you think these are stumpers?

Such brings us to the conclusion of George’s book, and I didn’t even touch everything I highlighted.

If you are a self-respecting atheist, please disavow this and tell George to stop writing this material as it is an embarrassment. Please learn instead to do some real research into Christianity and learn what we really believe. People like George only make atheism look bad in the end.

There’s a reason even atheists on the Unbelievable page are not defending George. He’s embarrassed himself and only shown his ignorance.

He could have prevented that if only he really didn’t practice a double standard, which you know he hates.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Listening To Bids

November 14, 2014

Are we missing hearing something that our spouses are trying to tell us? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My pastor preached an excellent sermon on marriage Sunday. You know it’s incredible when you do a sermon on Ephesians 5 and the passage that starts with wives submitting to husbands and yet, the pastor manages to leave the church in one piece. After the sermon ended, Allie and I went out to get some lunch together and discussed the sermon, mainly what submission looks like and what sacrifice looks like.

As I’ve thought about it this week, it has occurred to me that someone once told me about how in marriage, we often make bids. What they meant by this is that the person who is making the bid is asking for one thing, but in reality, they’re really asking for something greater than the simple request that they’re asking.

Allie and I can have many different interests. For instance, we can experience this when it comes time for the Super Bowl and it’s insisted that we have to watch it around here.

Why she wants to I still do not understand….

Meanwhile, on my end, a big event would be getting to go to an apologetics conference. I’m sure she understands this more than I do as to why I like it so much, but still, it just doesn’t have the same draw for her.

Each time we get this request, we need to realize there is something much deeper being asked. Of course, there are times we can’t fulfill the request. There are many times I would like to be able to buy Allie something, and I just can’t do it. Of course, there are times I want her to do something and she can’t. Husbands and wives need to understand this in each other.

So to get to the request, let’s use music as an example. Allie and I have incredibly different tastes in music and for me, most of her stuff I just cannot get into at all. Yet lately, I realized I am way too hard on it. If I listen and find I don’t like it, Allie is fine with that. I am under no obligation to like what she likes. On the other hand, if I dismiss it even before hearing it, then I am rejecting her in a sense. She is showing me something she likes because she is seeking to connect with me.

How does this work in reverse? For those of us who are husbands, one of our main drives is physical affection, especially in the area of sex. This is an area that is defining to us and women can often think that this is all men think about. As I said when teaching on marriage at a church class lately, this is nonsense because we men think about many other things like…

ummm….

uhhh….

errr….

Give me a few on this one. Alright?

When a husband makes a request of his wife be it verbal or non-verbal for affection, he’s wanting something more than physical pleasure. He’s wanting that connection. The reality is in their own way, husbands and wives want the same thing. They want to be connected. Now let’s take this idea and see where else we go wrong with it.

Let’s pick on the husbands first.

The husbands could say “Well she needs to know how much this means to me and if she really cares about me, she’ll be physically affectionate with me more often.”

Now of course, you can explain how much this means to you and why it matters so much, but don’t you see that at this point you’re pointing to her as the problem? One piece of advice in marriage I have tried to follow is that when problems arise, try to look in the mirror first. See if there is something that you are doing wrong. If you have to, ask a friend for advice.

Okay. Your wife isn’t being responsive to you. Could it be you’re doing something wrong? Consider the man who comes home from work and sits down on his chair, the first thing he asks his wife is to bring him dinner, and he eats it while watching TV and not paying attention to his wife. Then when they go to bed in the evening, he wants her to want to make love to him.

Because, you know, being treated like just a servant when she gets home has just turned her on so much.

You see, your wife all day has been cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, doing laundry, and any number of things for you while you’ve been away. Why has she been doing this? She’s been doing it so you won’t have to do it. When you come in, she would appreciate knowing how much what she does is appreciated and you connecting with her before you connect with the television.

Now I’m sure the wives are happy to hear this, but let’s turn the tables around.

Yeah. Your husband might be being insensitive here, but he’s been out working all day. For all you know, his boss got after him today without any real reason. He’s bored silly in a job he can’t stand where he finds himself tremendously underpaid and when he gets home, he wants to forget about everything and the last thing he wants to hear is “How was your day?”

The mistake here is to think however that one spouse is in the right. In reality, both need to seek to change as much as they can.

Both also need to realize that when each one withdraws from the other, and both of them are guilty of it, it only pushes the other spouse to withdraw even further. Part of marriage you find is it really is about learning to give to the other. Husbands. You want that sexual connection with your wife? Then you need to learn to connect to her emotionally. Find the way that lets her know that she is your treasure. Remember, your actions will speak louder than words. You can speak easily about all the things you’d do for her. It means a lot more when you actually do them. Believe it or not, this might mean you actually do some things around the house even when you get home. Sacrifice first to meet her needs.

So wives, you want that emotional connection with your husbands? Then consider submitting more to his advances on you. You can say and do everything else in the world, but if you don’t meet the primary longing in your husband, it won’t really matter. (And if there is a difficulty with this due to past events, I highly encourage counseling and a good husband will be supportive and understanding in this.) You can say you don’t feel like it, but chances are your husband doesn’t feel like talking about his day or doing housework when he gets home.

In fact, my pastor when giving this sermon gave this claim that is quite amazing. Try living like this for two days and see what happens. See if there’s a change. Let the husband be sacrificial to his wife for two days and see if she has a major change. Let the wife live submissively to her husband for two days and see if he has a major change.

In the end, husbands and wives who love each other both want the same end. They both want to connect with their spouse. They just see that differently. The tragedy is we’re often so busy blaming the other that we forget to look at our own selves, and there are always ways we can be improving.

And once again, I am not a master at this by any means, but like many of you spouses out there, I’m working on it. One benefit of writing something like this out is you hope to not only help others, but realize you say something that you can hold your own self accountable to if need be.

Treasure the spouse that God gave you and do all that you can to show them in the way that speaks loudest to them your great love for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/15/2014: Lynn Wilder

November 13, 2014

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Many of us have encountered Mormons. They’re those nice people with the white shirts, black ties, and name badges that identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We often might see them as odd but not as non-Christians. This is such that even Glenn Beck’s material is carried in Christian book stores. But is this group really teaching the Jesus of the Bible?

My guest this week says no, and she’s in a position to know. She lived several years in the Mormon culture even having a position at BYU and her life changed forever when her son sent him a message while out on his mission one day. Who is she? She’s Lynn Wilder and she’s the author of Unveiling Grace which has a film out now as well and a web site. I have also reviewed Unveiling Grace here.

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Lynn’s story has already attracted national attention. She has been interviewed on the 700 Club. She has had stories shared in the Christian Post as well as Christianity Today. She’s done interviews for Janet Parshall, Michael Brown, a couple on Dove TV, plus interviews on the John Ankerberg show. She’s got several written testimonies about her and is the author of another book on seven reasons why she and her family left Mormonism.

My introduction to the work of Lynn came when I heard her on Unbelievable? I wasn’t sure what to expect and was for some reason I do not recall, somewhat skeptical. I was until I heard Lynn speak and realized this lady knew Mormonism backwards and forwards and she knew what to say to show that it does not line up with the message of Jesus. I was immediately in touch trying to get her on my show. (We had planned for earlier this year, but her father passed away and she had to cancel.)

I’ve also found Lynn to be a good friend as well with her being willing to talk on the phone with us when we’ve had a situation that we thought she could help with, and she did indeed help. Lynn is a scholar with her heart in the right place, something that is lacking in many, and in fact, to be personal, something I seek to improve on myself constantly.

Her book is the best book I have read on Mormonism as it gives you an inside-out view and as you read about her family in the book, you come to really know them as people and really learn to empathize with them, which is something rare for me to have happen being an aspie who just isn’t that good at empathy.

I’m excited to have Lynn Wilder be my guest this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast and to let you all know about something else coming, next week, a band with some of her sons in it, Adam’s Road will be our guests so you’re going to get part one of a story this week and the rest next week. I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters


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