Jesus Wouldn’t Argue. . .

Come, let us reason…
-DW

Many times when I do apologetics or simply talk about it people tell me they think it is the wrong approach. To them argument, discussion, or some other seemingly confrontational approach to sharing the gospel is not what Jesus would do.

Those that appose an apologetic approach are often those who I may be arguing with, but more often than not it is a fellow Christian who believes a confrontational approach is unbiblical, unloving or even unchristlike.

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Healing words for a sick world

Sick of hearing about the sexual [mis]conduct of nearly every famous news anchor, politician, coach, actor, producer, etc?

Me too.

Rather than rant about it, why not step back and analyze it some? Here is an excellent article from Salvo Magazine on loving relationships. -DW

(Hat-tip to Wintery Knight.)

–Begin Excerpt–

Mastering Modern Love

How Chastity Orders Your Relationships & Liberates You for Love, by Terrell Clemmons

Chastity: So Out, It’s In

The second approach is one Dawn developed following her Christian conversion, when she completely rethought how to “do” unmarried life. This approach offers modern singles like Jordana something they desperately need but may not even know exists: a sound alternative paradigm for love and sex—a lifestyle she calls singular. “To be singular is to understand the meaning of chastity, and chastity by its very nature goes against the popular culture’s beliefs regarding sex and choice.” It’s “the new counterculture . . . so out, it’s in.”

Contrary to the pervasive bad press it’s gotten from libertines, chastity isn’t about “not having sex.” In fact, it’s about a lot more than just sex. Dawn defines it beautifully: “Chastity is the virtue that enables us to love fully and completely in every relationship, in the manner that is appropriate to the relationship.” Of course, this raises the question of what determines appropriateness, but from both a scriptural and natural law standpoint, this is an easy question to answer. Sexual expression is appropriate to the marriage relationship and inappropriate to all others. Whether or not it’s easy to follow is certainly another matter, and Dawn gives excellent counsel on that and other related matters, but the point here is that the categories are discrete and clearly discernible.

The Chaste Singular

More important, chaste living is grounded in something larger and more permanent than the individual. Whereas in modern singlehood, love is based on feelings, which are apt to change with the wind or even last night’s dinner, chaste love is defined by and grounded in God himself. Love of God—love for God and love from God—becomes the love that orders all other loves. “For each of those whom divine providence places in your life,” Dawn writes, “friends, family, the stranger on the street—you ask yourself, how can I love God through loving this person?”

Whereas the modern single is driven by an inner void that is desperately trying to get filled, the chaste singular looks to God himself to fill the void. Rather than trying to get love through the right match, the chaste singular receives love from God, the ultimate source, and then turns outward with love to give from an inner fullness.

Chaste love is respectful. It behaves with appropriate decorum, which requires forethought. What is the nature of this relationship? Why am I in it? Where is it headed? What are my intentions?

Read the whole article

On The Unreasonableness & Inconsistency of Atheism

Worth a look, especially because of the long quote of Richard Howe. I have enjoyed Richard’s talks every time I have seen one. He is an excellent teacher of philosophy. He is also VERY generous with his material. See the resources tab on his website: http://www.richardghowe.com/

James Bishop's Theological Rationalism

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 3.07.53 PM.png Image credit: Jeff Schechtman, 2015, Podcast: WhoWhatWhy

This is an article penned by the author of the blog site Thomistic Bent that is well worth the read. The author tackles an important epistemological question concerning the nature of evidence, what constitutes evidence, and how atheists fail to apply evidence consistently when they critique the beliefs and views held by non-atheists and those who believe in God. According to Thomistic Bent,

There is great post over at the Shadow To Light blog. You can find it here.  That post reminds me of a statement made by Richard Howe, where he said this:

“When I was debating this atheist, I asked him, ‘what would convince you there is a god?’ He said “If all the chairs in this room rose up, flew against the back wall, and spelled ‘I am here — God’ then I would believe there is a god.” I am…

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How does church appear to someone raised in a non-Christian home?

A tough read for some Pastors, I’m sure. This is shared in love and with a plea to take it to heart for the most important generation (the NEXT generation).
Students (and faculty and everyone else) need reasons. We need much more “Paul in Athens” in our churches. But notice, Paul was familiar with the Greek poets in addition to the Scripture. He was widely read and he interacted with the world in addition to the Synagogue. -DW

WINTERY KNIGHT

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there

My friend Wes posted an article about how communication is set up in the church, and why it’s not effective at equipping Christians to defend their worldview in hostile environments. The article describes what I encountered in church, after I was raised in a non-Christian home and become a Christian on my own by reading the New Testament. The view presented in the essay is how I viewed the church, and is probably how most outsiders view church. I think it explains why young people leave the church in droves once they move out of their parents’ houses.

The author writes:

On the Internet, one soon discovers that many respected church leaders are quite unable to deal directly with opposing viewpoints. In fact, many of them can’t even manage meaningful engagement with other voices. Their tweets may be entirely one-way conversations. They talk at their audiences. They can…

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Scientist, Neil Shenvi, on the Three Major Paradoxes of Atheism

A good distillation of 3 paradoxes that emerge from a materialist perspective.

James Bishop's Theological Rationalism

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 4.23.48 PM.png Photo by Brett Jordan

This is a phenomenal piece penned by apologist Neil Shenvi. We’ve met Shenvi before in an article on my bog explaining why he is a Christian. As stated there, Shenvi is currently a research scientist with Prof. Weitao Yang at Duke University in the Department of Chemistry. Shenvi attended Princeton University as an undergraduate, he then became a Christian while at Berkeley, CA. There he did his PhD in Theoretical Chemistry. His thesis focused on quantum computation, including topics in quantum random walks, cavity quantum electrodynamics, spin physics, and the N-representability problem. From 2005-2010 he did research into nonadiabatic dynamics, electron transfer, and surface science. He then moved down to Durham in 2010 to do research into nonadiabatic dynamics and electronic structure theory with professor Weitao Yang at Duke University. Hi is married to Christina Shenvi who also has a PhD in Chemistry from Berkeley…

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Welcome SHSU SSA Members

ssa-logo

I was pleased to accept an invitation to address the SHSU Secular Student Alliance at their Nov 16th meeting.

For the students who I met there, I created this landing page for you in the event that you come to my blog seeking more information about my remarks.

Since I am a full-time Chemistry professor and not a full-time blogger, my posts are few and far between. And they are not a comprehensive treatment of the Christian religion. Still, I think they are useful and encouraging or I would not have written them.

I welcome your questions about anything I have written, preferably personally. Let’s have lunch at the South Paw. I’ll buy the first one. OK?

My main remarks were on What I believe and why I believe it.

I talked about Christianity being the best description of reality – the way things REALLY are. No doubt this is a curious claim.

I discussed evidence outside of Christianity that corroborates the main points in the life of Jesus.

You may have incorrect thoughts about what the word ‘faith’ means within a Biblical framework. This series of posts at the Ratio Christi at SHSU blog should help you understand that there is No Such Thing as Blind Faith.

If I had to predict what tomorrow’s questions will be, I’d choose the following:

  1. The Problem of Evil and Suffering. (Video 1 and Video 2)
  2. Moral Issues
  3. Science Issues (The Big Bang and Fine Tuning)
  4. Philosophical Questions (Contingency and Ontology)
  5. Biblical Questions (What is the Bible? The Story in the Bible. Literary Styles in the Bible. The Bible as Meditation Literature. and The Use of Narrative Passages in the Bible.)
  6. Specific Questions about Biblical Passages (Go to the Bible Project to see an OVERVIEW OF EVERY BOOK OF THE BIBLE. Their work is masterful!)

None of this will matter if you are unable to entertain the idea that you might be wrong in your assumptions. Yes, that cuts both ways. I’m okay with that.

Are you?

God bless you for making it this far.

-DW

Five Ways Historic Christianity Relates Faith to Reason

An excellent post by Ken Samples. Read it carefully. He makes some interesting points that are sure to make you think.

Reflections

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Many people view faith and reason as being at odds with one another. For example, some differentiate faith from reason by asserting that faith merely involves hoping something is true, whereas reason involves affirming something to be true based upon justifying evidence. According to this model, faith is equivalent to wishful thinking and is thus incompatible with reason. But historic Christianity’s view of faith and reason is very different from this popular stereotypical definition.

In defining the relationship between faith and reason, historic Christianity draws upon both Scripture and sustained logical analysis. Here are five ways that historic Christianity relates faith to reason:

1. Faith’s Definition Involves Reason

In a biblical context, having faith (Greek: the verb, pisteúō, “believe”; the noun, pístis, “faith”) means confident trust in a credible source (God, Christ, or the truth). So the root word for faith in the New Testament is…

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The Six R’s of Education

what-to-study

Welcome to the start of the Fall 2017 School Year.

This post is for teachers AND students. I hope it encourages you to start the semester strong.

You have heard of the Three R’s of Education – Readin’, Ritin’, and Rithmatic.

But there are three other R’s that are a vital part of education. In fact, they hold the key to progress in the first three R’s.

They are Responsibility, Respect, and Reverence.

Responsibility

How many problems in education would be fixed immediately if all parties thought about THEIR particular responsibilities. The state, the school boards, the school administrators, the teachers, the students, and their parents (grandparents or guardians) all have responsibilities that cannot be eliminated. The other parties cannot fill the role of any missing member of this set of responsible parties.

Respect

Even when it is hard to give or seems unearned. Respect should be taught, and it should be modeled. Be the first to offer respect, especially when it is difficult to do so. There are many impressionable eyes watching your behavior. I’m speaking to the parent, the teacher, and also the student. Be the first to offer respect.

(Repetition is the mother of pedagogy.) Be the first to offer respect.

Reverence

This is the least obvious of the 6 R’s. But I think reverence is the master key that is missing in many schools.

I always associated reverence with holy places or churches. But actually, reverence is simply recognizing a place as being special.

School is a special place.

The Christian world view would agree with this concept. Education is a part of what we call Common Grace. It is a gift from God just like our fruitful planet and our rational minds.

What if we taught reverence for the actual school?

It was a different time and a different economic situation, but when I was in school, it made sense for a teacher to challenge me if I put my feet on the desk with the question, “Do you put your feet on the furniture at home?” The implication was “no”. And if I wouldn’t do it at home, then I shouldn’t do it at school. But this question doesn’t make any sense to many of our students.

Some of our students don’t have furniture or even homes.

New questions could be asked,

“Is that how you treat the place that is changing your life for the better?”

“Is that how you speak to a person who is pouring their heart and soul into your education?”

“Is that how you treat your fellow students, who are trying to better themselves just like you are?”

I say we raise the bar – not just to the first three R’s for state testing purposes, but to the 6R level – where students recognize their responsibilities, where they respect the dignity of those behind them, with them, and above them in the educational endeavor, and where they come to revere the facilities and persons who daily sacrifice on their behalf.

We raise the bar for the staff as well – where they seriously approach their responsibilities, where they will be the first to offer respect to each other, the students, and ‘the bosses’, and where they will also revere the facilities. Yes, even those broken down facilities that will not quit in the task of changing lives in Huntsville and beyond.

What a master key reverence can be. When combined with the other 5 R’s, we can do AMAZING THINGS at our schools.

 

Where do these thoughts come from? Well, when it comes to taking the initiative, we have no better example than God. 

8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8 CSB]

 

Therefore, let us be the first to offer all things good.

Darren Williams

Who is DW?

What does he believe?

Fake News and World Views

One thing I have observed, recently. Our news sources have a profound impact on our attitudes and opinions. It sounds obvious, but the non-obvious part is how large the impact actually is.

We have an inflated opinion of our own objectivity.

So how does one seek the truth of current events? The only hope at getting the “true” facts versus the “fake” or “alternative” facts, is to get facts from multiple world view sources. Don’t just get your facts and opinions from multiple sources. Your multiple sources may not be multiple, but may in fact be singing from the same song sheet.

It is easy to get the “world’s” take on the facts. Every mainstream radio and TV program will give you the modern culture’s take on the events of the day. One cannot help but hear their message.

Therefore, it is imperative that you expose yourself to other views and interpretations of the same data – even and especially if you disagree with what you hear. It is critical to the hope of objectivity to hear multiple sides.

17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. [Proverbs 18:17 ESV]

So here are some podcasts that discuss “News and Events from a Christian World View”. I listen to these podcasts often. I recommend them as highly as possible.

DW’s Top Three Podcasts List

Enjoy!

Issues, Etc. – Christ Centered Cross-Focused Talk Radio

The Briefing – Daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations.

[Not available for embed, yet.]

Breakpoint Podcast – A daily Christian worldview commentary hosted by best-selling author Eric Metaxas and Colson Center President John Stonestreet. BreakPoint provides you with a short and applicable Christian perspective on today’s news and trends.

I hope these shows become a continual source of encouragement and information for you and those in your circle of influence.

May God bless you with peace and wisdom.

Darren

Mature Moral Thinkers

Perusing the books in the Visiting Scholar Office at Reasons to Believe, I came across a nice text, Thinking Well – An Introduction to Critical Thinking by Steward E. Kelly (2001, McGraw Hill ISBN 0-7674-1848-4). So I took it home to browse at the pool this evening.

I enjoyed Chapter 8 especially where Dr. Kelly expounds upon the characteristics of mature moral thinkers. In reading this section, I was struck by our current situation in the US and elsewhere. Reasoning and rational discourse appears to be completely absent from our media.

Yet, I still have hope. In my personal conversations, people are still interested in meaningful dialog. In fact, they light up when I am gracious and careful in my speech.

So to further promote good moral reasoning and gracious dialog, I quote Dr. Kelly’s list. (with very few mods)

download

Characteristics of Mature Moral Thinkers

Given the controversy surrounding the domain of ethics, we should say a few words about the characteristics of people who think well about moral matters. These people could be described as being morally responsible and having good moral character. And they would possess many or all of the following characteristics. (He cites, “The following list is adapted from William Hughes, Critical Thinking“)

  1. Independence of judgement

    We believe what we believe on the basis of (hopefully good) reasons, and not because it is fashionable, convenient, or the like. In this sense, the individual should be morally autonomous.

  2. Justification by appeals to principles

    All moral judgments are ultimately answerable to appropriate moral principles. If no particular moral principle supports our moral judgement, then we need to rethink our moral reasoning behind that judgement.

  3. Generalization of moral judgments

    We believe that, whenever it is morally wrong for someone to do something under a particular set of circumstances, then it is morally wrong for everyone else to do that action under those same circumstances. (Pojman’s Test of Universalizability)

  4. Consistency

    First we need to live according to the principles we have adopted. People who consistently fail to live up to their own standards are guilty of hypocrisy and will lose the respect of mature members of the moral community. Second, we should apply our principles consistently across the board. (If we believe that it is morally wrong to break the law with respect to murder, but morally OK with respect to speeding laws, we need either to show that the two cases are relevantly different or to change our thinking about one of the two matters.) Finally, the principles we adopt should be consistent among themselves. (For example, suppose Lou adopts two moral principles 1) it is morally wrong to eat meat, and 2) it is morally right to do as we wish as long as it gives us physical pleasure. The problem here is that many people get physical pleasure from eating meat, so it would be impossible for them to obey these two conflicting principles.) 

  5. Awareness of complexity

    We recognize that life/reality is complicated and that applying the relevant moral principle and gathering all the relevant facts can be complicated and even perplexing. Reality is often not as simple as we make it out to be.

  6. Knowledge of the relevant facts

    We do not make moral judgments until we have all the relevant facts in hand. (For example, for emotionally volatile issues, much arguing takes place even though the facts are either lacking or distorted.)

  7. Recognition of our fallibility

    Humans are finite and limited creatures. There is much we do not know. We tend to believe what we want to believe, and many thoughtful and morally informed people will disagree with us on any moral judgment we might make. To think that a moral judgment is correct simply because it is our own is to display a form of arrogance that is not justified. (The Greeks called this hubris.)

  8. Tolerance

    We should always respect the moral judgments of individuals who have made the effort to gather the facts and carefully apply the proper moral principle. We can significantly disagree with others yet treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve as fellow human beings.

Note that the morally mature individual may not have full possession of all eight characteristics; rather, moral maturity, like many good things, is a mater of degree. The fact that few will ever attain high moral maturity does not mean that these are not worthy ideals for which we should strive.

I hope you will benefit from this little post on the characteristics of mature moral reasoning. Let’s become examples of mature dialog and calm conversation in high contrast to the shrill shout fests on the nightly news and commentary shows.

“Come now, let us reason together”, says the LORD
-Isaiah 1:18

Some commentary

It is easy to point to someone (or several someones) in a group to discredit that group or to complain about that group. I confess that I fall into this very often. You will catch me complaining about “the media” all the time. My complaints are that “they” do not appeal to moral principles, or if they do then these principles are not universally applied to all sides of the issue. But I am personally inconsistent because I am painting a whole industry with a single broad brush.

People do this all the time with whoever is on the “other” side. Christians do this to atheists, etc. People do this to Christians as well, so I have been on both sides of the assuming game. It’s a subtle trap.

So, let’s not paint our opinions of an individual onto the group, nor the group onto the individual. But let’s also not throw out our moral convictions. Use this short list to check yourself. Present your views graciously, consistently, and with all the facts you have gathered. And then listen to your conversation partner as they do the same.

-Darren