Do Moral Intuitions Point To God, Evolutionary Experience or Chance?

Ask 100 randomly selected congressional aides whether they think it’s immoral to torture children and I guarantee you all 100 — like virtually any other similarly sized and chosen group — will react in horror and say something like “of course not, only a monster would do that.”

Such responses are evidence of the moral intuitions with which every human being is born. Those intuitions don’t just turn up, Christian apologists contend, they are evidence of the creator, who is the source of the standards of right and wrong underlying the intuitions. Evolutionary materialists argue moral intuitions simply represent the accumulated experience of the results of similar courses of action.

Obviously, something too often intervenes to corrupt or silence the moral intuitions and what that something is generates as much debate among believers and non-believers alike as the source of the intuitions.

Dr. Frank Turek dealt with an aspect of that debate in response to a question posed by a Towson University student. This video of Turek’s response was posted on YouTube November 9.

Four Big Bangs Equal Four Huge Problems For Materialists/Atheists

Have you ever wondered why is there something rather than nothing? Yes, it’s an esoteric question and not one any normal person is ever likely to think about without prompting.

So consider yourself prompted because it is an important question, one of the most important of all questions in fact. How important? Well, it’s more significant even than the question of whether a problem is solved if a congressman describes a solution but nobody on C-SPAN is listening?

Or, just to put it in the most personal of terms, why are you here rather than not here?

Continue reading “Four Big Bangs Equal Four Huge Problems For Materialists/Atheists”

This Mom Is A Great Argument for God

So you’re walking down a corridor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building during a break in a committee hearing and there on the floor is the word “MOM” spelled out in Cap’n Crunch.

Being a dutiful son or daughter, you love your mom, of course, so you stop to ponder  this odd sight, speculating for a few seconds about how it got there and then going on about your business before the hearing resumes. As the day continues, though, your mind keeps going back to that MOM because something about it is puzzling.

Continue reading “This Mom Is A Great Argument for God”

Are You Smarter Than This Kid?

William is 11-years old but he loses me at about his third sentence on why Stephen Hawking was wrong to conclude there is no god. I know there are a bunch of folks reading this blog who are on both sides of that issue, so give a listen and tell us what you think in the comments.

And please, remember, keep it civil.

Asked during a recent interview with Hellenic College Holy Cross to explain his unusual passion for engaging atheists, William said:

“Well because there’s these atheists that try to say that there is no God, when in reality it takes more faith to believe that there’s no God than it does to believe that there is a God… Because it makes more sense that something created the universe than that the universe created itself. It takes more faith to say the universe created itself than to say something other created the universe because that is more logical.”

Continue reading “Are You Smarter Than This Kid?”

Which Are More Reliable, Aristotle and Plato, or Matthew, Mark, Luke And John?

One of the most frequently mentioned myths about the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is the claim they cannot be historically accurate because they were written decades after the events they purport to report.

Several of the commenters to yesterday’s post here — “Are Christians The Biggest Fools Of All Time?” — repeated variations of the claim the Gospels are unreliable because so much time elapsed between the events and the writing of the individual books. The actual facts, the critics argue, were lost to the myths and legends that grew up around the events related in the Gospels.

The German higher critics of the 19th Century made this claim a standard argument in the conventional wisdom scholarship of the 20th century among those who reject the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and His claim to be the incarnate creator of the universe and everything in it. And the argument continues in popular culture and debate to this day, as seen in the comments to yesterday’s post.

There has been a tremendous amount of scholarship on the accuracy and reliability of the Gospels in recent decades. Below is a link to a recent podcast of Frank Turek’s interview with Dr. Craig Blomberg, who is one of the most respected scholars in the world on this issue. I highly commend it to anybody on any side of the debate.

But more immediately, let’s address the question posed in the headline above. Nobody today doubts when they read Plato’s “Republic” or Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” that they are reading what the Greek philosophers actually wrote, even though what they hold in their hands are copies of copies of copies … stretching back centuries.

Even so, when was the last time you heard anybody say Plato’s discussion of the shadows on the wall of the cave cannot be trusted as what Plato actually wrote or believed because so much time elapsed between his original manuscript and the earliest copies used by copyists in the millennia before Mr. Gutenberg invented the printing press? Or that Aristotle’s Golden Mean as the key to human virtue was a creation of a later copyist and thus was not the philosopher’s original view?

Nevertheless, that’s a commonly expressed argument whenever the Gospels are under discussion.

But guess what? There are far more copies of the Gospels, written much closer to the original authors, than there are for any other of the ancient classics, including Plato and Aristotle.

Aristotle’s works were written between 386 B.C. and 322 B.C. The first copies came along in about 1,100 A.D., or roughly 1,400 years after Aristotle did his thing. As for Plato, he wrote between 427 B.C. and 347 B.C, and the first copies date to 900 A.D., for an interval of roughly 1,200 years.

Compare that to the New Testament, which, regarding the Gospels, the critics claim were written, at the earliest, around 70 A.D., with copies first appearing around 130 A.D.

In other words, if the same standards of reliability and accuracy are applied to the New Testament that have long been accepted without question for other ancient authors, then the Gospels must be viewed as among the most reliable of the ancient classics. You can check out this post by Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research for more specifics on this angle.

And as I always say, a great place to start in assessing these issues is “More Than A Carpenter” by Josh and Sean McDowell. Just tell me your address and I’ll get a copy of MTAC for free.

Now, here’s Frank Turek’s extended audio conversation with Dr. Craig Blomberg:

https://crossexamined.org/?powerpress_embed=72550-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

So When Was The Last Time You Checked Your Unstated Assumptions?

You know what I mean; assumptions like if a person is a Harvard graduate, he or she must be smart. Or anybody who becomes a plumber or a carpenter isn’t likely to be reading philosophy at night. Or Texas really is God’s country.

OK, maybe not that last one about the Lone Star State, but here’s another one that is clearly among the most important influences on American public life these days: Modern science has liberated us from the shackles of beliefs and values based on ancient myths.

There are multiple variations on the theme but what they all come down to, more or less, is the unstated assumption that “science” is the only path to truth. Anything that claimed to be truth prior to, oh say, 1900 is almost prima facie considered by the current generation to be wrong or worse.

I would bet next month’s paycheck — assuming I get one! — that if you asked 100 randomly selected congressional aides about this, the vast majority of them would quickly agree with that proposition.

A closely related proposition and one that also has profound influence on the way issues are analyzed on Capitol Hill is the idea that there are “facts” and there are “opinions,” and public policy ought always be based solely on the former, not the latter. Stuff like faith and patriotism are mere opinions.

So, think about this: To be “true” in the scientific sense, according to this assumption, something must be observable, repeatable and measurable. That being the case, it must also be concrete, material. That means it cannot be non-material, or, to put it bluntly and in layman’s terms, there ain’t no such thing as the “supernatural” or “spiritual.”

So much then for the fundamental claim on which the entire Christian faith rests – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God. Given the science assumption, Jesus may have been a great teacher, an itinerant preacher with a real knack for turning a phrase or maybe just a lunatic, but what He couldn’t be is dead, buried and then alive again on the third day.

Normally at this point, I would launch into a discussion of the many apologetical “proofs” for the veracity of the Resurrection claim. But there’s another way to go at this issue and that is to examine the historicity of the claim.

Brit N.T. Wright — a former university lecturer/turned bishop, delivered a lecture some years ago in which he made an extremely persuasive case for the proposition that:

The Christian claim was from the beginning that the question of Jesus’ resurrection was a question, not of the internal mental and spiritual states of his followers a few days after his crucifixion, but about something that had happened in the real, public world, leaving not only an empty tomb, but a broken loaf at Emmaus and footprints in the sand by the lake among its physical mementoes, and leaving his followers with a lot of explaining to do but with a transformed worldview which is only explicable on the assumption that something really did happen, even though it stretched their existing worldviews to breaking point. More of that anon.

What we now have to do is to examine this early Christian claim more thoroughly, to ask what can be said about it historically, and to enquire, more particularly, what sort of ‘knowing’ or ‘believing’ we are talking about when we ask whether ‘a scientist’ can ‘believe’ that which, it seems, ‘the resurrection’ actually refers to.

I could give you the link to the text version of Wright’s lecture, but it’s so much better to watch and listen to him deliver “in person” via this video:

Thanks, by the way, to Wintery Knight for bringing this superb lecture to my attention so that I can share it with all my friends and future friends on Capitol Hill. Wintery Knight notes of Wright that he “has taught at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Duke University, McGill University, and lectured on dozens of prestigious campuses around the world. He’s published 40 books.”

In other words, Wright is somebody to whom we would be wise to pay attention. That is not to say I agree with everything he says because I don’t. But his point about thinking historically is an important one, especially if you happen to work in a job in an institution in which making history is an everyday occurrence.

What Is HillFaith and Why Should You Care?

If you work on Capitol Hill, you and I likely have a great deal in common. You, like me, love this country and want to make it better. You are passionate about politics, the campaign trail and the legislative process. You worry about the future, of America and of you and your loved ones. You probably grew up somewhere else, most likely out there in “Flyover Country.”

Doesn’t matter which political party you identify with or where on Capitol Hill you spend your workdays. Your hours are long and odds are good you could be making more money working somewhere else (maybe a whole lot more if you’ve been here for a few years). But you get to rub elbows with many of America’s most important and best-known leaders, and your work affords endless opportunities to meet and work with interesting and amazingly smart, skilled people. Money can’t buy the satisfaction that can come with that, right?

Fact is, for better or worse, the Hill is the center of your world. Maybe not tomorrow, but for now, most of your friends also work here, including people you socialize with, enter into (and out of!) romantic relationships, and compete with to grab that next rung up the success ladder. Many of them you like, some of them you can’t stand, and a few of them will probably be your friends for life. You see traits in some of them you admire and in others things that either make little sense to you or that you would never want to characterize you.

But Are You Happy?

You tell yourself and others you are. As happy as you think you should be or want to be or thought you would be by now? I know the feeling. My first four years here were spent on the Hill, initially on the House side as a press secretary, then as a chief of staff and finally as communications director for a senator. It was dazzling, exhilarating even; the powerful men and women, the receptions with the free food and booze, making a difference on important issues, growing in influence, position and importance.

Or so I thought. When I left the Hill for an executive branch political appointment, there was something not quite right. I kept telling myself I was happy, but in my most sober, reflective moments, I knew better. In the years ahead, I “fixed” it with better jobs, starting a different career, divorce and remarriage, even fulfilling a childhood dream (becoming a race car driver, running a Formula Ford for three years at Summit Point).

On the outside, I looked like a success. On the inside, no way.  Eventually, it all came apart and my world was shattered. Sobriety and humility are wonderful and I’ve been blessed in the decades since with a wonderful wife and family, a career that I absolutely love, a deepening awareness of life-changing facts about history, faith, science, people and living, and, most important, a growing relationship with the Lord who created us and indeed the whole universe.

Here’s “The Ask”

Maybe you’d like to know more about how this happened for me and consider whether it’s something you’d like for yourself. Don’t worry, it’ll just be friendly conversation, no judgements, no preaching, just two people talking about how to make it on the Hill and everywhere else. Let’s meet for a few minutes of honest conversation and coffee. Senate or House side. Whatever works for you.

And keep an eye on HillFaith blog. It’s the heart of a new apologetics ministry that in coming months will share with Hill staffers the endless, fascinating evidence from science, history, archeology and logic for the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and the life-changing truth of His Gospel that can change your life for the better. God bless.

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com