What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Series: The First Principles, The First Principle of Law

This is the final installment in this series on the First Principles.  This final one is equally important to everything up to this point.  Before moving to defining the First Principle of Law.  If we have bad laws, then it is a product of bad politics.  If we have bad politics then it is safe to conclude that there are bad ethics involved.  And then finally if we have bad ethics, these must stem from a faulty moral framework. 

Working it the other way, bad morals produces bad ethics.  Bad ethics begets bad politics.  Bad politics, especially at the legislative level produces bad laws.  Where do bad morals come from?  A faulty worldview.  So what then is the first principle of law?  

WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF LAW?

Classical natural law is based upon the universal and inherent understanding that certain behaviors are immoral and, therefore, ought to be illegal. If this is true, it only makes sense that natural law is a necessary prerequisite for positive law. In this sense, natural law provides the basis for a standard of morality. This standard, or moral law, can be thought of as a first principle of jurisprudence upon which all law ought to be based and upon which true civilization depends.
The classical understanding of “natural law, then, is the human participation in eternal law by way of reason. In brief, natural law is the ‘natural light of reason, by which we discern what is right and what is wrong.’ . . . All rational creatures share in natural law. It is the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15) . . . It can be said that human reason is the basis for natural law only insofar as it participates in the Eternal Reason.”
Hence, human nature was endowed with certain God given qualities that gave humans intrinsic value based upon the eternal nature and moral character of God. As the apostle Paul said, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the [Mosaic] law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the [Mosaic] law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, the consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Romans 2:14-15).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Series: The First Principles, The Foremost Law of Biology

WHAT IS THE FOREMOST LAW OF BIOLOGY?

The word “biology” literally means the science or study of life. When we study biology, it doesn’t take long to encounter the word species. The choice of this term, as opposed to some other, is based on the law of specificity. It is the reciprocal function of the second law of thermodynamics. This law is analogous to turning back the hand of time and getting a system back into its original highly ordered state.

Biblical References: The law of specified complexity requires an intelligent cause. Language has an intelligent cause. Yet, we cannot have language unless logic/intelligence has a basis. This law is implied throughout God’s Word. We read it in Genesis 1 when we read that God created humanity in His image. That is, His intellectual, moral, volitional and spiritual image. The intellectual image refers to logic and eventually language. The clearest statement of this “logos” or eternal reason is found in John 1:1-2. “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God.” Keep this description of Jesus in mind with respect to him being the intelligent cause behind the effect with respect to the DNA code.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Series: The First Principles, The Foremost Law of Science

WHAT IS THE FOREMOST LAW OF SCIENCE?

The second law of thermodynamics. This law states that the amount of usable energy in a closed isolated system runs down. (A closed isolated system is a finite system that has no interference from the outside).

Biblical References: This law is clearly seen throughout the Bible. As we move away from the source of all energy and life, God, we experience degeneration.The universe is also subjected to this law. A few biblical references are as follows:

1. The “fall of humanity” resulted in the uncontrolled increase of disorder, a movement towards to chaos. In Genesis 3:17-19 we read, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 

Humanity, on its own, will always struggle against the second law until God recreates a new heaven and earth under the fullness of His order (Revelation 21:1).

2. When the king (Adam) fell, the kingdom (creation) fell with him. In Romans 8:19-22 we read, “ The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration [the uncontrolled second law], not by its own choice [because nature is impersonal] , but by the will of the one who subjected it [God cause it as a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve], in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay [second law].”

Debate: Does God Exist? William Dembski v. Christopher Hitchens

Here is the first segment off of YouTube showing the debate between Bill Dembski and Christopher Hitchens.  If you click on the title or click on the Eye on Apologetics blog site to see the entire debate in one setting.  The debate was held at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano TX.  Those in the audience were a good portion of the Prestonwood Christian Academy.  It was a practice session for the students to tweak their "baloney detectors", watching a Christian scholar and one of the most popular atheists around. 



(Update: The original full length debate was removed, here is Part 1)

Prestonwood should be commended for their mindset in equipping their students and their approach to engaging the minds that took part in this debate.


For the time being, I wanted to get this debate online so you could view it as well.  I hope to have my review of this debate in the near future.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Series: The First Principles, The First Principle of Origin Science

It is rather ironic that the previous post on the Real Issue is a debate on whether or not the universe has a purpose.   This week's posting on the First Principles falls in line with the subject matter of the debate with dealing with the First Principle of Origin Science.  So in order to give an answer, we pose the question...

WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF ORIGIN SCIENCE?

It is essential to understand that operation and origin science are connected by a philosophical principle called uniformity (or analogy). With respect to origin science, the uniformity principle states that the present is the key to understanding the past. If present observations indicate that it always takes a certain kind of cause to produce a certain kind of effect, the principle of uniformity tells us that the same kind of event in the past must have had the same kind of cause as observed in the present.

Biblical References: This principle is implied throughout God’s Word with respect to linking present cause and effect to past similar cause and effect. A few examples are as follows:

Luke 17:26 – “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.”

2 Peter 3:4 – “Everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (there is uniformity in the world because there is design in the universe).

The past cause (God) of all life and the moral law can be observed through present effects. 


Romans 1:20 – "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Debate: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?

If you are into debate, here is a three on three debate/discussion concerning the purpose of the universe.  On one side we have the skeptic/atheist side with debaters, Michael Shermer, Matthew Ridley, and Richard Dawkins.  On the theistic side debating for the affirmative, we have Douglas Geivett, Rabbi David Wolpe, and William Lane Craig.  This debate took place in Mexico and is a fun view.

Oh, I almost forgot, the video does start out in Spanish, being that there is a Mexican audience. However the debaters do speak in English so those of us who are challenged by the Spanish language will get the fruit of the discourse.

Let us know what you think of the debate after watching it.  It is roughly an hour and three quarters in duration.  Enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.  


If you have any questions, this posting will entertain them as long as they are well thought out and cordial.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Series: The First Principles, The First Principle of Operation Science

This entry in our series on the First Principles moves from the First Principles of logic and truth to those of science.  This week, we pose the question...

WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION SCIENCE?

The first principle of operation science (investigations of observable and repeatable present events or effects) is a philosophical assumption known as the principle of causality. The entire discipline of science rests upon this principle, which states that every event, effect or finite thing, must have an adequate cause. This principle is firmly coupled to searching for explanations.

Biblical References: The principle of causality with respect to God as the First Cause of the universe and life is found in Genesis 1:1; 1:3 and 1:27, respectively: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"; "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Series: The First Principles, First Principle of Truth


WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF TRUTH?

The first principle of truth is a knowable, transcendent and unchanging reality (fixed point or referent). In this respect, it can be demonstrated that the truth about reality can be known or discovered.



Biblical References

There are only two sides with respect to statements about reality, the side of error and the side of truth. 

John 18:37 – “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 

By definition, truth is a statement or idea that corresponds to reality (God). The Spirit of God is the fixed point of reality (1 John 5:6 “The Spirit is the truth) and God’s Word is truth because it matches reality (In John 17:17 Jesus said, “your word is truth.”). 

Jesus is the truth because he perfectly corresponds to God  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the truth.” 

In Hebrews 1:3 we read, “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Series: The First Principles, An Introduction and the First Principle of Logic

This past Thursday night concluded our lecture material on naturalism, atheism, and humanism.  Part of that material was a reminder of what constitutes a solid worldview by sharing with them what is known as The First Principles.
  
As I was working through them with the class, I was prompted into thinking that a subject like this might provide a short blog series.  So with that in mind, I would like to share with you these First Principles with biblical references following.  You might ask what are the First Principles?  What a great question to get this started!

The ancient philosopher Aristotle showed how every science begins with certain obvious metaphysical truths that he referred to as first principles. Aristotle explained how these first principles form the very foundations upon which all knowledge rests. These First Principles are the fundamental truths from which inferences are made and conclusions are based. They are considered to be self-evident truths which can be thought of as the underlying and the governing principles that shape a solidly cohesive worldview.

Tonight let me "kick off" this series with the First Principle of Logic

WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF LOGIC?

The first principle of all knowledge is the law of noncontradiction.

This foundational first principle of logic states that opposite claims cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense.

Biblical References Showing the Law of Non Contradiction:

Matthew 21:25, "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" – Some questions only have a yes or no answer (either from heaven or from men).

2 Corinthians 1:18, "But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no" – In order for a statement or message to be valid, it must be either “yes” or “no” and not “yes” and “no.”


Next: The First Principle of Truth


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Evaluating Religions: 5 Reasons to Start with Christianity

As you might have seen from past postings, this ministry is focused upon a lot of the challenges that come from religious pluralism and cultural relativism. This morning I was browsing through some blogs and noticed posting those of you with similar interests might find a good read from Neil Simpson's blog "Eternity Matters" The title of the posting is "Evaluating Different Religions: Five reasons to start your spiritual search with Christianity." Here is the beginning of the posting...

"I just listened to a
Stand to Reason Podcast (7/12/10) where Craig Hazen outlined some provocative things to share with people who are exploring different religions. Not only will they get people thinking, they help refute some false doctrines that Christians hold and address common objections to Christianity. Hazen wrote a novel called Five Sacred Crossings that incorporates these themes (I’ll read it as soon as it comes out on the Kindle!). Here are some notes from the Podcast with a few of my thoughts thrown in..." (click here to continue to read Neil's posting).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Take the Pew Forum Quiz


Here is a quiz to test your aptitude on Christianity, religions, apologetics, and secular stuff. It is called the Pew Forum test. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.

The Pew Forum conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. It also provides a neutral venue for discussions of timely issues through roundtables and briefings.

Take the quiz and leave us a note on how you did. To take the survey/quiz, click here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

UPDATE on the Dearborn Four: NOT GUILTY Verdict


All four of the defendants known in the media as "the Dearborn Missionaries" (Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, Paul Rezkalla, and Negeen Mayel) were all found "not guilty" on the charge of "breach of peace" at the Arab Festival in Dearborn this past June.

There is however one more hurdle. Negeen Mayel was found guilty of the charge "Willfully Disobeying the Lawful Order of a Police Officer." She was sentenced to one day of jail, which had ALREADY been served in June. The credit was applied, and all four were free to go. Negeen's charge is under appeal and the appeal process will be underway soon with hopes of having the charge against Negeen dropped. Please continue to pray as this process rolls forward.

If you would like to read the posting from the Acts 17 Apologetics "Answering Muslims" blog. CLICK
To read the news article from the Michigan sources CLICK


Monday, August 23, 2010

Faulty Dilemmas, Argument of the Beard, Begging the Question, & Complex Question


Moving right along here are some fallacies that will broaden your minds. Some of these we, as Christians, inadvertently commit thinking that we are giving the right answer to a skeptic asking us why we believe what we do.
Faulty Dilemma: This fallacy makes the assumption that in a given situation there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more than two.
Argument of the Beard: This fallacy makes a presumption that there is no real difference between two extremes on a continuum because the differences are small from one to the next and change almost imperceptibly.

Begging the
Question (a.k.a. petitio principii): This fallacy is committed by reasoning in a circle, assuming that the conclusion of an argument is true and using the conclusion as evidence to prove itself. ("I believe the Bible is God's Word because it says that it is God's Word" - Sound familiar?[1])
Complex Question: This fallacy entails that such questions asked in discourse presuppose that a definite answer has already been given to a prior question that was not even asked.


Notes:
[1] I am not trying to be rough on my Christian brothers and sisters in the faith, but there are reasons better than arguing in a circle for why the Bible IS true and why we believe what we do. It is okay to "swim in the deep end" folks and be a Christian!


Here are some great resources for the study of logic:

Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn,
The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.

Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen,
Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).

Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks,
Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.

Anthony Weston,
A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Reductive, Genetic and Psycho-genetic Fallacies

We move now into the reductive, genetic and psycho-genentic fallacies (bulverism).  These fallacies are often committed when someone is trying to reduce complex ideas, target a particular beginning with the motivation to ridicule or make an assumption from a psychological reason.  All of them try to hone in on a beginning or a starting point toward that which is attempting to be refuted. Hmm.

Here are the definitions.

The Reductive Fallacy: Reduces complex entities and then attempts to explain those entities in terms of one of its many respects.
The Genetic Fallacy: The genetic fallacy is demonstrated by the belittling or the attempt to refute something by pointing to its humble or inauspicious beginnings.
The Psycho-genetic Fallacy (Bulverism): Making the assumption that one has refuted an idea just because you have discovered the psychological reason why someone believes an idea.


Here are some great resources for the study of logic:

Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.

Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).

Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.

William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why Defend the Faith?

Lately I have been thinking how fast the summer is going. Unlike some of my colleagues having speaking opportunities in various venues, I have been not allowing the "green monster" envy force me in the thinking that apologetics is just done in front of groups of people. That is just one of many venues. Having this in to forefront of my thinking, I have reflected back on the numerous encounters to encourage people to think about the Christian faith. Just last night, I was visiting with a customer where I work, and he noticed 2 Corinthians 5:20 which says in part, "We are ambassadors for Christ." That prompted a conversation to where this gentleman told me that he is searching.

You know that if we think about this long and hard, we must posit the question, "searching for what?"; "searching for 'who'?" Knowing that the last part of Romans 3:11 (c.f., Psalm 14:1-3) tells us that no one does good and no one seeks after God, I find the question of "searching for what?" in my mind more relevant and appropriate. Which tells me that an apologetic or pre-evangelistic dialogue was about to very gently ensue. The purpose of this post is not to discuss this or any dialogue that I have engaged in this summer, despite there being a handful. My desire for this posting is to remind us, with the school year just over the horizon, why apologetics is needed.

Let me share just a few thoughts

I. Apologetics is commanded by God. This is the most important reason: God commands us to use our reasoning in the defense of the faith. We find, all throughout the New Testament, exhortations to defend the faith. Here are some of them:

1 Peter 3:15 says, "...but sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (apologia) [give a response back] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (fear)." This passage tells us several things:

First it tells us that we should be ready. If you are doing the first part, of setting apart Christ as Lord in your heart, and living out the Christian life on a daily basis, I want you to know that people read you as a fifth gospel. They may never read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but if someone knows that you are a Christian and they see you living it out, as it says "always being ready". People are going to eventually ask you what is different about you. Being ready in your life also will encourage you to be ready in your preparation as an apologist.[1] There are some great resources out there to pick up and study from. But it is not just having the information, it is also our attitude.

There is a lot of attitude issues in the apologetics community, which seems to be a sense of over-confidence and cockiness. Our attitude at Stand4Truth Apologetics Ministries is to seeking ways toward identifying with the people asking the questions; where they are, and possibly what they are going through. We seek to do this with "gentleness and respect" in a manner that the person knows that we are separating the question from the questioner/challenger. Having an attitude of readiness with this in mind will create a low level of eagerness and confidence. Figure it this way, we have the truth, people are seeking the truth. Respect the questioner, dismantle the question and get the person to see what is in their heart.

Second, when we give that reason to those asking the question (Colossians 4:5-6), we should not expect that every conversation is going to turn into an opportunity for pre-evangelism. Keep in the back of your mind that the one challenging what you believe does need it, but we must first be willing and able to give the answer first, and then leave the results to the Lord on what happens next.[2]

Thirdly and finally, doing pre-evangelism and making Christ Lord in our hearts are unified together. If Jesus is really Lord, then we should be obedient to the Word when it says that we are "destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and ... taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). In other words we should be confronting issues in our own minds and in the expressed thoughts of others that are preventing them from knowing who God is. That is what the defense of the faith (apologetics) is all about.

Over in Philippians 1:7 the Apostle Paul speaks of his mission as one of "defending and confirming the gospel." He adds in verse 16, "I am put here for the defense of the gospel" (Phil 1:16). And with all the false ideologies that permeate the religious landscape, we are put where we are to defend it as well.

Jude 3 declares: "Beloved, while making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt it necessary to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith once for all given over to the saints." The people Jude was writing to had been assaulted by false teachers and he needed to encourage them to protect (literally agonize for) the faith as it had been revealed through Christ. Jude makes a significant statement about our attitude as we do this in verse 22 when he says, "have mercy on some, who are doubting." Apologetics, then, has plenty of warrant for expressing compassion. It is not just having a passion to defend the faith, it is a passion to reach the person you are dialoguing with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Titus 1:9 makes the knowledge of Christian evidences a requirement for church leadership. An elder in the church should be "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." With relativism and forms of religious pluralization in the culture, people change churches and sometimes bring with them teachings that may not be biblical. This is one of many reasons along with the elder body equipping the people to do the same is where apologetics is important in the practical sense in the local church.

In 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Paul declares that "the Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth." Anyone attempting to answer the questions of unbelievers or correcting wayward teaching in the church will surely be wronged and be tempted to lose patience, but our ultimate goal is that they might come to a knowledge of the truth that Jesus has died for their sins.

Indeed, the command to use reason is part of the greatest command. For Jesus said, "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38) [3]. We cannot love our neighbor nor the breathren as ourselves unless we love God first.

So we see from Scripture that apologetics is commanded by God. But there is a second element to why we are to be involved in the task of apologetics and that the realm of reason.


II. Reason Demands Apologetics. God created us with minds to operate in the realm of human reason. The intellect and the capacity to reason things out is part of God's image in us (Gen. 1:27 cf. Col. 3:10). Indeed, it is that by which we are distinguished from "brute beasts" (Jude 10). God calls upon us to use our reason (Isa. 1:18) to discern truth from error (1 John 4:6) and right from wrong (Heb. 5:14). A fundamental principle of reason is that we should have sufficient grounds for what we believe.[4] An unjustified belief is just that--unjustified.

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." (ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ) And an unexamined belief is not worth believing. The question of "why do we believe what we believe" has never been more important. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Christians "to give a reason for their hope." This is part of the great command to love God with all our mind, as well as our heart and soul (Matt. 22:36-37).

Because God and reason demand that we engage in apologetics, we see that we cannot keep the Christian faith and our humble confidence in the truthfulness of the faith "that was once for all delivered to the saints" to ourselves. There is a third element to why we defend the faith and that is...

III. The World Needs Us to Engage in the Apologetic Task. Many people refuse to believe without some evidence, as indeed they should. Why say indeed they should? Because we should not be forcing someone to believe something if they are not willing to investigate it for themselves. Just because you or I say something is true, does not mean that what we are sharing is really true. We tell the atheist that brute fact argumentation is not going to de-convert a Christian with a response, why should we try and do the same thing.

God has created us as rational beings but He does to expect us to live irrationally. He wants us to look before we leap.

This does not mean there is no room for faith! Christianity is not a blind leap of faith into the dark but a step of faith into the light--into the light of evidence. He does not want us to leap in the dark, but to run in His light.

No person is going to get onto an elevator unless he has some reason to believe it will hold him up. Likewise, no reasonable person gets on an airplane that has a broken wing and smoke coming
out the tail end. Belief that is prior to belief in. Our faith is as only as good as the one in whom it is placed. Thankfully there is evidence to dovetail with faith. Therefore evidence and reason are important to establish belief that. Once this is established, one can place his faith in it.


IV. What are the Results of Engaging in the Apologetic Task?

The fact that there are results that are produced while engaging in the apologetic task is a common misnomer among many Christians. It is often said that apologetics never helps to bring anyone to Christ. This is a serious misrepresentation of the facts.[5]

Augustine of Hippo is one example. There were several significant rational turning points in Augustine's life before he came to Christ. First, was reasoned out the problem with Manichaean dualism. One significant turning point here was the success of a young Christian debater of Manicheans called Helpidius (see The Confessions).

Second, Augustine reasoned his way out of total skepticism by seeing the self-defeating nature of it (see his Against the Academics).

So we see that there are some good reasons for why we should defend the faith. God commands it. Reason demands it. The world is calling for answers to the difficult questions regarding meaning and purpose. Lastly, God is the one who gets the glory for the results.

If you would like to email us about what you have engaged here, please feel free to do so. We would love to hear from you.



Notes
[1] Let me give you word of encouragement. Even though it is good to be well studied in the task of apologetics; even though you may not have taken some courses in apologetics online or on a campus; and even though you may not have attended any apologetics training seminars; let me encourage you with this: any time you open your mouth, you are an apologist for Him! Never forget that.

[2] I find that many folks will try and lead the "happy pagan" to the foot of the cross by using some methodology that they learned in church when that person is not even at the point of accepting the evidence we are sharing with them. Are we being disobedient to Christ by not dragging them to the cross? No, in fact we may be more disobedient by dragging them down the "saw dust trail" and creating the possibility of a false profession of faith.

[3] May I also add John 13:34-35 which is the commandment for us as disciples. This one does not negate the Great Commandment, nor the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)

[4] I will sometimes play the "rebel's advocate" and ask a fellow believer why they are a Christian. Often times in response to that, I get how they became a Christian. What this shows in many situations a lack of investigation, and lack of encouragement by the church at large to investigate why Christianity is the true faith.

[5] See Greg Koukl's book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009): 35-38, where he discusses the fallacy of thinking that one cannot argue a person into the Kingdom. This whole discussion is depending upon the soteriology of the one making the claim.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Donut Seeds, Donuts and the Definition of Evil

The other day, I had the privilege of finishing up Josh McDowell's book, "Don't Check Your Brains at the Door" with my daughter. You see, as a homeschooling parent we just started her apologetics training this year with this enjoyable issues oriented, myth busting primer.

As we were finishing up the final chapter, the conversation moved to the subject of the problem of evil. This was a good teaching time to say the least, with helping her understand that in order to have this thing called evil, we must know what "good" is. This brought in a moral law as the standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil.

Now thinking along this line, I needed her to understand a definition of "evil." So what did I do? Well, we did not have any donuts, so I did the next best thing that you can do with your kids...Cheerios! That's right, I lovingly call them, "donut seeds" so they are the next best thing. Why is that?

Well let's take the donut or the donut seed for our illustration. The most common perception of a donut is this circular cake-like ring that has a hole in the middle. Let's call the cake part of the donut 'good'. That might sound a little relatable because donuts are GOOD (tasting). The hole in the donut then represents "evil" (no donut).

How does this illustration help us in our definition of evil? If the cake part that is present is "good" then then absence of the cake part of the donut is evil, we can then deduce that evil is the absence of good.

So if we say there is such a thing as evil, we must posit that there is such a thing as "good." If there is such a thing as "good", how do we know what that good is unless there is a standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil. There must be a standard, so let's call this a moral law. A moral law then points us to God as the Lawgiver. Before going any further let me invite you to check out the following video.



I think Ravi hammers the issue a whole lot better than anyone speaking on this subject. The neat thing with this process on the subject of evil, good and a moral law, as I demonstrated this process with my daughter, I was delighted that she was grabbing it and nailing it down for herself.

She has such a tender heart, and my fear for her is that she does not lull herself into what is a plague in pockets of Christianity called "Pollyannaism".[1] My prayer her is that she will develop a tough minded faith that will understand more of this fallen world as she sees history run its course in her young life.

This is my fear for many believers, that we have been lulled into "Pollyannaism", where our optimism does not deal head on with the realism of the secular city. It is just an opinion, but it seems to me that Christians in other countries are steps ahead of American Christianity on this understanding of evil. I will speak more to this in another posting.


Note:
[1] Having a blind or excessive optimism, after the character Pollyanna, created by American writer Eleanor Porter (1868-1920). There is nothing wrong with being optimistic so long as it is a realistic type of optimism with room to understand the nature of man being fallen.


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Informal Fallacies of Accent and Accident

The picture you see if of a book cover, entitled "The Fallacy Detective" by the Brothers Bluedorn.  We are taking my daughter through this book as part of her homeschool logic training.  

This week we have the fallacies of accent and accident. These are fallacies deal on a broader scale of the informal fallacies: (Accent, relates to the argument as a whole and accident relates to the application of the argument as a whole).

Accent: This fallacy is committed in an argument which has a deceptive but invalid nature and depends upon a change or shift in meaning.

Accident: This fallacy consists in the application of a general rule to a particular case whose “accidental” circumstances render the rule inapplicable.

For more resources for studying logic and logical argumentation check out:

  • Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.
  • Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).
  • Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
  • William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What are the Logical Fallacies of Relevance


In my previous post, I defined for us the term logical fallacy.  This posting is now going to move into a series on the what are called, the fallacies of relevance.

By fallacies of relevance, we are talking about those fallacies common to all arguments. The committal of a fallacy of relevance (except for the fallacy of petitio principii, i.e., begging the question) involves a circumstance where the premises of an argument are logically irrelevant to, and therefore are incapable of establishing the truth of their conclusion.

Fallacies of Relevance include:

1. Appeal to Force.
2. Argumentum ad Hominem fallacies
3. Argument from Ignorance
4. Argumentum ad Populum
5. Argumentum ad Verecundiam (appeal to authority)
6. Appeal to Pity
7. Accident
8. Converse Accident
9. False Cause
10. Begging the Question
11. Complex Question
12. Irrelevant conclusion.

Over the next several Monday morning postings, I will be laying out for us the definitions of each of these. After that, we will move to the fallacies of ambiguity.


Editor's note: There are a few good resources that one can pick up in new and used bookstores. Here are just a few.
  • Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.
  • Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic(13th Edition).
  • Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
  • William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.