Category Archives: faith

Book Discussion Day 16: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Chapter 15 – Conclusion:  the Judge, the Servant King, and the Box Top

Click here for the start of this discussion 

There are two parables in the chapter, the judge and the servant king.  Here is a synopsis of the servant king.80

This is exactly the problem God has in his pursuit of you and me – if he overwhelms us with his power we may not be free to love him) love and power are inversely related).  And even if we retain our freedom, we may not love him but merely love what he gives us.  What can God do?  Here is what the king did:

The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend.  He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him.  It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on.  He renounced the throne to win her hand.

This is exactly what God did to win you and me!  He descended to the human level – in fact to one of the lowest social levels possible – to that of a servant.  Paul describes Christ’s sacrifice this way in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-8)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

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Summary

Here are the answers to the five greatest questions we have.81

1.  Origin: Where did we come from?  We are created beings. Wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God.

2.  Identity: Who are we?  Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are creatures of supreme worth.  We are loved by God and endowed with certain God-given rights and responsibilities.

3.  Meaning: Why are we here?  Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence, but their choice to disobey condemned the human race to punishment in accordance with the infinite justice of God.  Since that time, each of us has confirmed the choice of Adam and Eve through our own disobedience.  We remain fallen state so that we can make free choices that will have implications in eternity.  This temporal life is the choosing ground for the eternal one.  Choices we can make that will bring glory to God, and may bring us eternal rewards, include:

a. Accepting the ransom Jesus paid in order to free us from eternal punishment and welcome us into his eternal presence.

b. Serving as ambassadors for Christ to help others make that same choice, and

c. Learning from our own sufferings to comfort others who suffer, and realizing that our sufferings enhance our own capacity to enjoy eternity.

4.  Morality: How should we live?  Since God first loved us, we should love him and others.  In fact, the “whole duty of man” is to “fear God and keep his commandments”.  This includes making disciples of all nations and enjoying the good things God gives us.

5.  Destiny: Where are we going?  God’s infinite justice demands that he punish our sins, but because of his infinite love he has taken the punishment on himself.  This is the only way he could remain just and still justify sinners.  His gift of salvation from eternal punishment is free to all the world.  It cannot be earned through good works or any kind of merit.  And God wants everyone to be saved from the eternal punishment we all deserve.  But since he cannot force us to love him (forced love is a contradiction), each one of us must choose for ourselves whom we will serve.

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Your Destiny

Whom will you serve?  God leaves that choice in your hands.  Love knows no other way.  In order to respect your free choice, God has made the evidence for Christianity convincing but not compelling.  If you want to suppress or ignore the evidence all around you (Romans 1:18-20) – including that which is presented in this book – then you are free to do so.  But that would be a volitional act, not a rational one.  You can reject Christ, but you cannot honestly say there’s not enough evidence to believe in him.82

C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end:  those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’  All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there would be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  To those who knock it is opened.”83

Discussion point

What do you think were the author’s best points in the book?  What weak points did you find in the evidence presented in the book?  What would you  consider doing to decide if you agree or disagree with what the book is arguing?

I will continue to read and discuss books like these with an open mind.  I hope you will too.

Romans+1_18-20


80Geisler & Turek page 380 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

81Geisler & Turek pages 383-384 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

82Geisler & Turek pages 384-385 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

83C.S. Lewis page 72 The Great Divorce.

 

 

Book Discussion Day 15: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

 

Book Discussion Day 15: Chapter 14 – What did Jesus Teach About the Bible?

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Jesus gave the following assertions in his teachings

  1. The Old Testament is divinely Authoritative. In 92 occasions Jesus and his apostles supported their position by saying “it is written .”
  2. The Old Testament is Imperishable. Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
  3. The Old Testament is infallible. John 10:35 :the Scripture cannot be broken.”
  4. The Old Testament is Inerrant. Matthew 22:29 “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
  5. The Old Testament is Historically Reliable. He validated Noah Matthew 24:37-38 and Jonah Matthew 12:40.
  6. The Old Testament is Scientifically Accurate. While adherents of other religions may accept a complete separation from science Christians do not.  Truth about the universe cannot be contradictory.  Since all truth is God’s truth, religious beliefs must agree with scientific facts.
  7. The Old Testament had Ultimate Supremacy. Jesus corrected the Pharisees and the teachers of the law by claiming that they should be obeying the Old Testament Scriptures instead of their own man-made traditions.  Matthew 15:3,678

Jesus promised the New Testament

The 27 books comprise the only authentic record of the apostolic teaching we have. All were written in the first century by eyewitnesses or by those who interviewed eyewitnesses.

Summary:

Jesus taught that the Old Testament is the inerrant Word of God, and he promised that the New Testament would come through the apostles.  The apostles, who were authenticated by miracles, wrote or confirmed 27 books.

Since the Bible is our established standard for truth, anything that contradicts a teaching in the Bible is false.  This means that any specific teaching that contradicts a teaching of the Bible is false.

The evidence revealed indicates79

  • The revelations of Judaism are true, but it is incomplete. It lacks the New Testament
  • The revelation of Islam has some truth. But it errs on some fundamental teachings, including its denial of the deity and resurrection of Christ.
  • Only the revelation of Christianity is the complete, inerrant Word of God.

Could the authors be wrong about all this?  It’s possible. But in light of the evidence, skeptics and those of other faiths need to have a lot more faith than Christians to believe otherwise.

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Discussion point

I think one point worth talking about here is why people willingly choose to reject what the Bible says.  Is it because they have been given false information about the Bible that they allowed to convince them without finding out the truth for themselves?  Is it because they haven’t taken the time to look at the evidence?  Are they afraid of something?  Is it, as the authors have said about atheists, that they know that if they acknowledge that the Bible is true then they no longer can justify being the sole authority on how they choose to live their lives?  If so, is there a danger of them promoting and anti-Christian agenda on an unwitting public in order to influence political debate?

Another topic is related to agnostics.  What should our attitude be towards a person who is questioning and open to the idea of God?


78Geisler & Turek page 357-360 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

79 Geisler & Turek pages 376 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

 

Book Discussion Day 14: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

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Book Discussion Day 14: Chapter 13 – Who is Jesus:  God?  Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?

 

Chapter 13 outlines the Old Testament prophecies that point to the Messiah and ultimately provide the evidence that Jesus, the only person to ever fulfill the prophecies, is God.

Isaiah 53 has an important prophecy of Jesus.  Isaiah 42 has another description of him.74 

Some of the other Old Testament verses about Jesus include

Genesis 3:15

Genesis 12: 3, 7

Genesis 49:10

Jeremiah 3: 5-6

Isaiah 9:6

Micah 5:2

Malachi 3:1

Daniel 9:26

Isaiah 53:11

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The New Testament writers claimed Jesus was God.

John 1:1, 14

Romans 9:5

Colossians 2:9

2 Peter 1:1

Matthew 1:23

Hebrews 1:3,8

Matthew 8:29

Luke 4:34, 41

 

Jesus himself declares he is God.

Mark 14:61-64

John 8:56-59

 

Jesus refers to himself in a manner that God would.

John 17:5

Revelation 1:17

John 10:11

Matthew 25:31

John 8:12

John 5:21

John 14:6

John 4:42

 

Jesus alluded that he was God in the parables he spoke

Luke 15:4-32

Matthew 19:28-30

Matthew 20:1-16

Matthew 25:1-13

 

Jesus did things that a God would be able to do

He forgave sins Mark 2:5-11

He commanded discipling Matthew 28:18-19

Commanded new law John 13:34

Said to pray in his name John 14:13-14

Allowed people to worship him on at least 9 occasions75

 

Proofs that Jesus is God

  1. He fulfilled messianic prophecies written hundreds of years in advance
  2. He lived a sinless life and performed miraculous deeds
  3. He predicted and then accomplished his own resurrection from the dead

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Skeptics remain

Skeptics complain Jesus wasn’t more overt

They cite and misinterpret Matthew 19:7

They cite John 14:28 and Matthew 24:36 which may confuse them without a thorough understanding of the Trinity.

They object to the Trinity

The authors provide useful insight for the Trinity

Some Muslims charge that the trinity is too complex.  But who said that truth must always be simple?  As C.S. Lewis aptly puts it, “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier.  But it is not.  We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions.  How could we?  We are dealing with fact.  Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”76

 

Summary:

 

Since Jesus is a morally perfect being – Chapter 7 – then anything he teaches is true.  What did Jesus teach?  What did he teach about the Bible?  Chapter 14 answers this question.

Discussion point

 

The chapter addresses the claim people sometimes make that Jesus was only a man who was a great moral teacher.  The evidence in the New Testament proves that is a false conclusion.  Liar, lunatic, or Lord are the only possible conclusions a person can draw after studying the New Testament.  Have you come across people who said they saw Jesus as a moral teacher but not God?  How did that conversation go?

 

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him:  “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would rather be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is , the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.77

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74Geisler & Turek page 333 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

75 Geisler & Turek pages 344-345 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

76Geisler & Turek pages 352-353 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

77Geisler & Turek page 346 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

 

Book Discussion Day 13: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Book Discussion Day 13: Chapter 12 – Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Chapter 12 exposes how false each of the theories put forth by skeptics to deny the resurrection of Jesus.71

Hallucination Theory

  1. Hallucinations aren’t experienced by groups.  Jesus did not appear just once to one person.  He appeared in a dozen separate occasions in a variety of settings to different people over 40 days.  A total of over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection.  The tomb was empty.  No proof of Jesus’ body was shown by those that executed him because they did not have his body, when so many people claimed to see him alive.

They went to the wrong tomb theory

  1. The theory assumes that all of the Jews and Romans had a permanent kind of collective amnesia about what they had done with the body of Jesus.
  2. The theory doesn’t explain the appearances of Jesus. Nor does it explain the empty tomb well.  Most of the disciples were hopeless and fearful still after learning of the empty tomb.  They did not believe that the empty signified that Jesus was alive until they physically saw him and spoke with him.

Swoon or Apparent Death Theory

  1. Everyone believed Jesus was dead
  2. Jesus was embalmed in 75 pounds of bandages and spices. That doesn’t happen to a live person.
  3. It assumes he would survive 36 hours, unwrap himself, move a 4,000-pound rock from the entrance and get past Roman guards.
  4. He would not have appeared to be in good condition when he was seen.
  5. It does not account for Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

The Disciples stole the body theory

  1. Were they hallucinating, or did they steal the body, which is it?
  2. For some inexplicable reason, they stole the body n order to get themselves beaten, tortured, and martyred.

A Substitute Took Jesus’ Place on the Cross Theory

  1. This is a popular Muslim theory. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory.
  2. It should be noted that the Qur’an was produced over 600 years after Jesus. The New Testament has eyewitness accounts of what happened with Jesus only a few decades after his death and Resurrection.
  3. So all those eyewitnesses who saw what happened, why do they say it was Jesus?
  4. Why was the tomb found empty?

The Disciples Faith led Their Belief in the Resurrection

  1. There is no evidence for this theory
  2. I does not account for the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to over 500 people.
  3. It ignores the fact that the scared, skeptical disciples were not in any frame of mind to invent a story they would later be put to death for believing. The resurrection appearances gave them their bold faith not the reverse, as this theory claims.

The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths

  1. This theory fails to explain the eyewitness accounts at the time.
  2. It does not explain the empty tomb
  3. It does not explain the eyewitnesses who were martyred
  4. It does not explain the testimony of non-Christian writings
  5. It does not explain the facts which the vast majority of the scholars use to conclude the events were believed to have taken place by those who were present at the time.
  6. The ancient non-Christian sources at the time – both Jewish and pagan – understood the resurrection was not a myth and instead argued at the time that they did not believe the accounts happened as Christians described.
  7. There is no myth that is similar to Jesus’ resurrection
  8. The first legitimate parallel story of a god rising from death appears about 100 years after Christianity began.

New Testament Scripture Chart

Skeptics Consistently Demand Evidence from Christians to Support the New Testament

The evidence to support the New Testament has been overwhelming, far exceeding any comparable historically documented event and proves true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Skeptics Have no Evidence to Support any of these Theories that doubt the New Testament

Their refusal to accept the New Testament accounts is based on philosophical bias against them.

How to View the Evidence

  1. The theistic nature of the universe makes miracles possible
  2. Ancient documents say miracles are to be expected
  3. Historically confirmed eyewitness documents say miracles are actual
  4. References of other ancient historians and writers confirm the basic storyline of the New Testament, and several archeological discoveries affirm the details they describe.72

 

Summary: One Solitary Life

Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.

Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…73

Discussion point

It there was no resurrection, how could this life be the most influential life of all time?


71 Geisler & Turek pages 301-312 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

72Geisler & Turek pages 317-319 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

73Geisler & Turek page 324 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

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Book Discussion Day 12: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

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Chapter 11 – The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth

The top ten reasons we know the New Testament writers told the truth.66

  1. The New Testament writers included embarrassing details about themselves.
  2. The New Testament writers included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus.
  3. The New Testament writers let in demanding sayings of Jesus.
  4. The New Testament writers carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own.
  5. The New testament writers include events related to the resurrection that they would not have invented.
  6. The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
  7. The New Testament writers include divergent details.
  8. The New Testament writers challenge their readers to check out verifiable facts, even facts about miracles.
  9. New Testament writers describe miracles like other historical events: with simple, unembellished accounts.
  10. The New Testament writers abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and did not deny their testimony under persecution or threat of death.

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Three radical beliefs adopted by New Testament Christians after abandoning their old beliefs.67

  1. Sunday, a work day, as the new day of worship.
  2. Baptism as a new sign that one was a partaker of the new covenant in place of circumcision, the sign of the old covenant.
  3. Communion as an act of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.

Communion is especially inexplicable unless the Resurrection is true.  Why would Jews make up a practice where they symbolically eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus?68

 

Pre-Resurrection Belief Post-Resurrection Belief
Animal sacrifice Unnecessary because of Christ’s sacrifice
Binding Law of Moses Nonbinding because it was fulfilled by Christ’s life
Strict monotheism Trinity (three persons in one divine essence)
The Sabbath Replaced by Sunday worship
Conquering Messiah Sacrificial Messiah (he’ll conquer when he returns)
Circumcision Replaced by baptism and Communion

 

Finally, in addition to abandoning long-held sacred institutions and adopting new ones, the New Testament writers suffered persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by recanting.  If they had made up the Resurrection story, the certainly would have said so when they were about to be crucified (Peter), stoned (James), or beheaded (Paul).69

Summary

In chapters 9 and 10 the authors proved we have an accurate copy of the early and eyewitness testimony found in the New Testament documents.  The question for chapter 11 is whether the documents were invented, embellished, or exaggerated.  The chapter proves that they were not.  The writers simply had no motive to lie, and every motive to admit they were lying if they had.  The lasted remaining objection by skeptics then is that the New Testament writers were deceived.  They sincerely though Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were wrong.  Chapter 12 deals with that theory.70

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Discussion point

How much faith does it take to believe the New Testament?  Faith is often a missunderstood word.  The faith that Christianity is based on is basically belief that because Jesus is God, committing to Him results in an eternal existence based on forgiveness of sins we committed.  Sins that were judged and punished with the crucifixion of Jesus.  Do you think the book makes a persuasive case that believing the New Testament is actually true takes a lot less “faith” than disbelieving it, as atheists and others choose to?

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66 Geisler & Turek pages 275-290 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

67Geisler & Turek pages 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

68Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

69Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

70Geisler & Turek page 297 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

 

 

Book Discussion Day 11: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Chapter 10 – Do We Have Eyewitness Testimony About Jesus?

Eyewitness Claims in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Peter, John, and Paul state that they saw the resurrected Jesus.  Paul identified 12 apostles and 4 women as witnesses by name plus an additional 500 people, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote about them.

Luke has written the significant book that covers much of this evidence, Acts.  Here are the facts that support the accuracy of what Luke wrote.

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Classical scholar and historian Colin Hemmer chronicles Luke’s accuracy in the book of Acts verse by verse.  With painstaking detail, Hemer identifies 84 facts in the last 16 chapters of Acts that have been confirmed by historical and archaeological research.62  As you read the following list, keep in mind that Luke did not have access to modern-day maps or nautical charts.  Luke accurately records:63

  1. The natural crossing between correctly named ports
  2. The proper port along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cypress
  3. The proper location of Lycaonia
  4. The unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra
  5. The correct language spoke in Lystra
  6. Two gods known to be associated – Zeus and Hermes
  7. The proper port, Attalia , which returning travelers would use
  8. The correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates
  9. The proper form of the name Troas
  10. The place of a conspicuous sailor’s landmark, Samothrace
  11. The proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony
  12. The right location for the river near Philippi
  13. The proper association of Thyatira as a center of dyeing
  14. Correct designations for the magistrates of the colony
  15. The proper locations where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey
  16. The presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica
  17. The proper term used of the magistrates there
  18. The correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient was of reaching Athens, with the favoring east winds of summer sailing
  19. The abundant presence of images in Athens
  20. The reference to a synagogue in Athens
  21. The depiction of the Athenian life of philosophical debate in the Agora
  22. The use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul as well as for the court
  23. The proper characterization of the Athenian character
  24. An altar to an “unknown god”
  25. The proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection
  26. Areopagites as the correct title for a member of the court
  27. A Corinthian synagogue
  28. The correct designation of Gallo as proconsul resident in Corinth
  29. The bena, which overlooks Corinth’s forum
  30. The name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions
  31. Well-known shrines and images of Artemis
  32. The well-attested “great goddess Artemis”
  33. That the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city
  34. The correct title grammateus for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus
  35. The proper title of honor neokoros authorized by the Romans
  36. The correct name to designate the goddess
  37. The proper term for those holding court
  38. Use of plural anthupatoi, perhaps a remarkable reference to the fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at the time
  39. The “regular” assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere
  40. Use of precise ethnic designation, beroiaios
  41. Employment of the ethnic term Asianos
  42. The implied recognition of the strategic importance assigned to this city of Troas
  43. The danger of the coastal trip in this location
  44. The correct sequence of places
  45. The correct name of the city as a neuter plural
  46. The appropriate route passing across the open sea south of Cypress favored by persistent southwest winds
  47. The suitable distance between these cities
  48. A characteristically Jewish act of piety
  49. The Jewish law regarding Gentile use of the temple area
  50. The permanent stationing of a Roman cohort at Antonia to suppress any disturbance at festival times
  51. The flight of steps used by the guards
  52. The common way to obtain Roman citizen ship at this time
  53. The tribune being impressed with Roman rather than Tarsian citizenship
  54. Ananias being high priest at this time
  55. Felix being governor at this time
  56. The natural stopping point on the way to Caesarea
  57. Whose jurisdiction Cilicia was in at the time
  58. The provincial penal procedure of the time
  59. The name Porcius Festus, which agrees precisely with that given by Josephus
  60. The right of appeal for Roman citizens
  61. The correct legal formula
  62. The characteristic form of reference to the emperor at the time
  63. The best shipping lanes at the time
  64. The common bonding of Cilicia and Pamphylia
  65. The principal port to find a ship sailing to Italy
  66. The slow passage to Cnidus, in the face of the typical northwest wind
  67. The right route to sail, in view of the winds
  68. The locations of Fair Havens and the neighboring site of Lasca
  69. Fair Havens as a poorly sheltered roadstead
  70. A noted tendency of a south wind in these climes to back suddenly to a violent northeaster, the well-known gregale
  71. The nature of a square-rigged ancient ship, having no option but to be driven before a gale
  72. The precise place and name of this island
  73. The appropriate maneuvers for the safety of the ship in its particular plight
  74. The fourteenth night – a remarkable calculation, based inevitably on a compounding of estimates and probabilities, confirmed in the judgment of experienced Mediterranean navigators.
  75. The proper term of the time for the Adriatic
  76. The precise term for taking soundings, and the correct depth of the water near Malta
  77. A position that suits the probable line of approach of a ship released to run before an easterly wind
  78. The severs liability on guards who permitted a prisoner to escape
  79. The local people and superstitions of the day
  80. The proper title protos tes neson
  81. Rhegium as a refuge to await a southerly wind to carry them through the straight
  82. Appii Forum and Tres Tabernae as correctly placed stopping places on the Appian Way
  83. Appropriate means of custody with Roman soldiers
  84. The conditions of imprisonment, living “at his own expense”

Luke identifies 35 miracles that took place in Acts.

acts

Luke, John and Acts

By looking at just a few new testament documents, John, Luke and half of Acts, we have found more than 140 details that appear to be authentic, most of which have been historically confirmed and some of which are historically probable.64

Summary

From this chapter the authors conclude that the New Testament contains at least four to six lines of early, independent eyewitness written testimony.65

  1. The major New Testament writers record the same basic events with diverging details and some unique material.
  2. They cite at least thirty real historical figures who have been confirmed by ancient non-Christian writers and various archeological discoveries.
  3. The second half of Acts with at least 84 historically confirmed eyewitness details and includes several others in his Gospel.
  4. Luke’s proven trustworthiness affirms that of Matthew, and Mark because they record the same basic story.
  5. John includes at least 59 historically confirmed or historically probable eyewitness details in his Gospel.
  6. Paul and Peter provide the fifth and sixth written testimonies to the Resurrection

Since this early, independent eyewitness testimony is within one generation of the events, the New Testament events cannot be considered legendary.

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Discussion point

What were your thoughts about the historical accuracy of the New Testament Gospel before?  If you read the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts now will you see it any differently based on how it has been historically verified?  What doubts would you have about what was written in the books of the New Testament?  Does the fact that Acts contains so many documented miracles concern you?  The next chapter promises to address potential doubts.


62Colon J.  Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History

63Geisler & Turek pages 256-259 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

64Geisler & Turek page 269 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

65Geisler & Turek pages 273-274 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

 

 

Book Discussion Day 10: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

greek nt

Chapter 9 – Do we have Early Testimony About Jesus?

Historians have documented 10 Non-Christian writers who mentioned Jesus within 150 years of his life.  By comparison, you will find documentation that Roman Emperor Tiberius was mentioned by 9 writers within that time frame.

Here is a compilation of facts documented by these non-Christian writers.57

  1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
  2. He lived a virtuous life.
  3. He was a wonder-worker.
  4. He had a brother named James.
  5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
  6. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
  7. He was crucified under Pontus Pilot.
  8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he did.
  9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
  10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
  11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
  12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.

celsus
Celsus

Here is the goal of chapter 9

Since, as we have shown, the existence of God and the possibility of miracles is firmly established through natural revelation, and the general story of Christ and the early church is affirmed through non-Christian sources, did the miracles of Christ actually occur as the disciples claim?  So the New Testament documents record actual history?  Could it be that they are not biased religious writings full of myths and fables as many in our modern world assume, but instead describe events that actually occurred about 2,000 years ago?  Is so, we’ll be well on our way to discovering which theistic religion is true.58

Tacitus_portrait
Publius Cornelius Tacitus

To test the historical validity of the New Testament the authors pose two questions

Josephus
Flavius Josephus

1. Do we have accurate copies of the original documents that were written down in the first century?

2. Do those documents speak the truth?

 

 

Here is some of the evidence for question #1.59

  1. Copies of the original documents- about 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts. 20,000 more in other languages.  The next closest document with copies of manuscripts is The Iliad by Homer with 1,800 total.
  2. Some of the manuscripts were written very close to the time the originals would have been written. Within 25 years.  Other manuscripts by comparison – Homer; about 400 years between the original and the oldest copies.  Plato 1,200 years (only 7 actual copies). Caeser 1,000 years (only 10 actual copies).  Pliny 750 years (only 7 actual copies).
  3. The early church workers quoted the original so many times, you could make your own complete reproductions of the New Testament just from reading others quoting it.
  4. Because of the quantity of source material, the accuracy of the New Testament has been established at 99.5 percent.

time-gap1

Seven items provide the basis for the historical reliability of the New Testament (is it the truth?).60

  1. Early testimony that supports the New Testament.
  2. Eyewitness testimony that confirms the New Testament.
  3. Multiple, independent eyewitnesses.
  4. Trustworthy eyewitnesses.
  5. Archeological corroboration and corroboration from other writers.
  6. Enemies of Christianity who attest to the reliability of the New Testament.
  7. Testimony regarding the New Testament that has content embarrassing to the authors.

manuscript-variations

Summary

The authors draw two major conclusions in this chapter.61

  1. We have an accurate copy of the original New testament documents.
  2. The New Testament documents are early and contain even earlier source material.

 

Discussion point

 

Often you hear about doubts about the New Testament.  What do you think about the overwhelming evidence that eliminates reasonable arguments by doubters?


57Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

58Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

59Geisler & Turek pages 224-230 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

60Geisler & Turek page 231 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

61Geisler & Turek pages 248-249 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

Book Discussion Day 9: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Chapter 8 Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?

The halfway point in the book marks a transition from proving the existence of God to proving Christianity.  Here again are the twelve points the book sets out to make.4  I have summarized them below.

  1. Truth about reality is knowable
  2. The opposite of true is false
  3. It is true that the theistic God exists. There are 4 types of evidence for this truth
  4. If God exists, then miracles are possible
  5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (acts of God confirm a word from God)
  6. The New Testament is historically reliable, based on 4 key points of evidence
  7. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God
  8. The Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by
    1. His fulfillment of many prophecies about himself
    2. His sinless life and miraculous deeds
    3. His prediction and accomplishment of his resurrection
  9. Therefore, Jesus is God
  10. Whatever Jesus teaches is true
  11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God
  12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God – and anything opposed to it is false

Chapter 8 covers the two points about miracles @ items 4 and 5.

world religions

The authors point out that so far the Cosmological, Teleological, a Moral Law arguments prove the existence of a theistic God.  Therefore no other religious worldviews, those that deny a theist God, are correct about God.  That is based on the Law of Noncontradiction.  Mutually exclusive religions cannot all be true.

While other religions can offer good guidance and state accurate truths, they are still built on a false foundation without a theistic God.

How we know beyond a reasonable doubt that a theistic God exists with certain characteristics.50

The Cosmological Argument proves that God is

  1. Self-Existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial (outside of time, space, and matter).  in other words, without limits. infinite.
  2. Unimaginably powerful, having created the universe out of nothing.
  3. Personal, by choosing to convert nothingness into the time-space-material universe.

The Teleological Argument proves that God is

  1. Supremely intelligent, able to design incredibly complex life in an incredibly precise universe.
  2. Purposeful, having designed many life forms which live in the specific and ordered environment they exist in.

The Moral Law Argument proves that God is

  • Absolutely morally pure.  Consisting of infinite justice and infinite love.

 

miraclesGod Communicates Using Miracles

Is it possible for God to intervene in the natural world by performing miracles?

In fact, miracles are not only possible; miracles are actual, because the greatest miracle of all – the creation of the universe out of nothing – has already occurred.  So with regard to the Bible, if Genesis 1:1 is true – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – then every other miracle in the Bible is easy to believe.51

The two major arguments against miracles came from Benedict Spinoza and David Hume.

According to Spinoza53

  1. Miracles are a violation of natural laws.
  2. Natural laws are immutable.
  3. It is impossible to violate immutable laws.
  4. Therefore, miracles are impossible.

The problem with Spinoza’s argument is that it begs the question.  How does he know that natural laws are immutable?

The creation of the universe itself shows us that natural laws are not immutable.  The universe was created by a power beyond nature, a supernatural power.

Natural laws are not immutable because they are descriptions Continue reading Book Discussion Day 9: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Book Discussion Day 8: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

CS Lewis

Book Discussion Day 8: Chapter 7 – Mother Teresa vs. Hitler

The first three arguments for a theistic God are the Cosmological Teleological and Moral Law arguments.

The Moral Law Argument39     mraol gaugeEvery law has a law giver

  1. There is a Moral Law
  2. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.

Az Quote Ravi

Eight reasons for the Moral Law40The Moral Law is undeniable

  1. We know it by are reactions
  2. It is the basis of human rights
  3. It is the unchanging standard of justice
  4. It defines a real difference between moral positions (Mother Teresa vs. Hitler)
  5. Since we know what’s absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness
  6. The Moral Law is the grounds for political and social dissent
  7. If there were no Moral Law, then we wouldn’t make excuses for violating it.

How we react proves we live by a Moral Law

One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of moral relativism.  He argued, “All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness; it’s all a matter of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla,” and so on.  His paper provided both his reasons and his documentation.  It was the right length, on time, and stylishly presented ion a handsome blue folder.

After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the front cover,”F, I don’t like blue folders!”  When the student got the paper back he was enraged.  He stormed into the professor’s office and protested, “F!  You didn’t grade the paper on its merits!”
Raising his hand to quiet the bombastic student, the professor calmly retorted, “Wait a minute.  Hold on.  I read a lot of papers.  Let me see…wasn’t your paper the one that said there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice?”

“Yes,” the student answered.

“Then what’s this you say about me not being fair, right, and just?” The professor asked.  “Didn’t your paper argue that it’s all a matter of taste?  You like chocolate, I like vanilla?”

The student replied, “Yes, that’s my view.”

“Fine, then,” the professor responded.  “I don’t like blue.  You get an F!”

Suddenly the light bulb went on in the student’s head. He realized he really did believe in moral absolutes.  He at least believed in justice.  That simple fact defeated his entire case for relativism.41449866-C-S-Lewis-Quote-One-can-regard-the-moral-law-as-an-illusion-and-so.jpg

We judge, because there is a standard based on the Moral Law

Before he became a Christian C.S. Lewis believed one reason for belief in atheism was all the injustice in the world.

“As an atheist my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.    But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.  What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”42When people think that morality is relative, it is due to confusion.43 People confuse absolute morals with changing behavior.

  • People confuse absolute morals with changing perceptions of the facts
  • People confuse absolute morals with the application of morals to particular situations
  • People confuse a what an absolute command is with how the absolute command is practiced by a particular culture
  • People confuse absolute morals with disagreements over moral questions
  • People confuse values that are absolute ends with the means of achieving those ends

Consider the moral dilemma often used by university professors to get their students to believe in relativism: there are five people trying to survive in a life raft designed for only four.  If one person isn’t thrown overboard, then everyone will die.  Students labor over the dilemma, come to different conclusions, and then conclude their disagreement proves that morality must be relative.

But the dilemma actually proves the opposite – that morality is absolute.  How?  Because there would be no dilemma if morality were relative!  If morality were relative and there were no absolute right to life you’d say, “It doesn’t matter what happens!  Throw everyone overboard! Who cares?”. The very reason we struggle with the dilemma is because we know how valuable life is.443694164-C-S-Lewis-Quote-There-is-nothing-indulgent-about-the-Moral-Law-It.jpg

Ideas have consequences

Hitler used Darwin’s theory as a philosophical justification for the Holocaust.

Princeton professor Peter Singer used Darwinism to assert that “the life of a newborn is of less value than that of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”45James Rachels wrote a book defending the Darwinian view that the human species has no more inherent value than any other species.  He wrote that retarded people should be used as laboratory subjects, or as food, like other animals.46Two other Darwinists, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer, wrote a book asserting that rape is a natural consequence of evolution.47Objective moral laws require a transcendent Law-Giver, but the Darwinian worldview has ruled him out in advance.  So consistent Darwinists can only consider murder and rape as personal dislikes, not real moral wrongs.48lewis-rationality-quote1

Summary

In their seminar the authors begin with these two points

  • If There is no God, then what Hitler did was just a matter of opinion!
  • If at least one thing is really morally wrong – like it’s wrong to torture babies, or it’s wrong to intentionally fly planes into buildings with innocent people in them – then God exists.49

 

Discussion Pointravi3

I think the biggest reason people do not consider where their ideas about right and wrong come from and what how they should live their lives is based on is that many simply do not think about it.  If they think of it much at all their thoughts don’t go below the surface.  Have you had conversations with anyone about how they know the difference between right and wrong?  How far did the conversation go?

What consequences do you think can result from some of the ideas about whether or not there is a Moral Law?


39Geisler & Turek page 171 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

40Geisler & Turek page 172 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

41Geisler & Turek pages 173-174 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

42C.S. Lewis page 45 Mere Christianity

43Geisler & Turek pages 182-186 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

44Geisler & Turek page 184 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 45Peter Singer pages 122-123 Practical Ethics

 46James Rachels page 186 Created from Animals:  the Moral Implications of Darwinism

 47Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion

48Geisler & Turek page 191 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

49Geisler & Turek page 192 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

Book Discussion Day 7: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

photo of a turtle underwater
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

Chapter 6 – New Life Forms:  From the Goo to You via the Zoo?

The Most Difficult problem for Darwinists.  Where did the first life come from?

 

Darwinists don’t have an explanation for first life.  Yet they still force the very bad – completely unsupported – science of macroevolution on innocent children in American public schools.

Comedian Steve Martin used to say, “I know how you can be a millionaire and never pay taxes!  First get a million dollars, okay, now…”27

The joke of Darwinism is worse than that because, 1) they can’t explain how first life occurred, and 2) they can’t even explain where the non-living chemicals came from that first life consists of.

Darwinist Theory of Macroevolution

 

The belief that all life on earth came from one common original one cell organism, naturally, with no intelligent direction, no God, all by accident.

The only scientific evidence that has ever been found, shows that microevolution takes place.  That is when a life form changes BUT still remains the exact same type of life form. There is no scientific evidence of any lifeforms ever evolving into a different type of life form.

The Darwinists use the evidence of microevolution to claim that it proves macroevolution.  That’s their proof!  Remember that the next time anyone asks you if you believe in evolution.  Which one?  The one that there’s evidence for or the one Darwinism teaches that has never been observed?

Five reasons why natural selection cannot support Darwinists’ unproven macroevolution.28

  1. Genetic Limits
  2. Cyclical Change
  3. Irreducible Complexity
  4. Nonviability of Transitional Forms
  5. The Fossil Record

Genetic Limits

Artificial selection, man made efforts to change species, has never been successful because each species of life is limited by its genetic makeup.  And once again, Darwinists tell you that natural, unintelligent random selection can do what artificial, intelligent man made intervention can’t.

animal beautiful biology bloom
Photo by Cindy Gustafson on Pexels.com

Cyclical Change

The evidence of change within a species shows that they change back and forth over time in response to environmental influences, not in one specific direction without returning to a previous form.  Natural Selection may be able to explain the survival of a species, but not the arrival of a species.

Irreducible Complexity

In his book Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, provides the evidence of irreducible complexity that disproves Darwinism.29  Here is his conclusion.

The idea of Darwinian molecular evolution is not based on science.  There is no publication in the scientific literature – in journals or books – that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred.  There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations.  Since there is no authority on which to base claims of knowledge, it can truly be said that the assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster.30

Here is what Behe wrote about the contribution of this scientific study.

The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell – to investigate life at the molecular level – is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ‘design!’  The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science.  The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein.31

Nonviability of Transitional Forms

Darwinism claims that macroevolution takes place slowly, minute changes over long periods of time.  So the problem for the Darwinists is twofold: first they have no viable mechanism for getting from reptiles to birds, and second, even if a viable mechanism were discovered, the transitional forms would be unlikely to survive anyway.32

sloth

Molecular Isolation

At  a molecular level there is no trace of the evolutionary transition from fish >amphibian>reptile>mammal.  So amphibia, always traditionally considered intermediate between fish and other terrestrial vertebrates, are in molecular terms as far from fish as any group of reptiles or mammals!  To those well acquainted with the traditional picture of vertebrate evolution the result is truly astonishing.33

The Fossil Record

Darwin thought that further fossil discoveries would reveal that his theory was true.  Time has proven him wrong.34  Even though the fossil record has not shown the ancestral relationships Darwin hoped for, it doesn’t matter because it is irrelevant since the irreducible complexity problem revealed by microbiology trumps it.

Anatomy is, quite simply irrelevant to the question of whether evolution could take place on the molecular level.  So is the fossil record.35

 

35-researcherss

Even though Darwinists have no support for their theories, they object to Intelligent Design.

Four Darwinist Objections to Intelligent Design36

  1. It is not science
  2. It commits the God-of-the-Gaps fallacy
  3. It is religiously motivated
  4. It is false because the so-called design isn’t perfect

Why are there still Darwinists when their theory has been proven false?

 

Motivations for supporting Darwinist beliefs37

  1. Darwinists would lose their claim as the highest authorities on truth. (Power)
  2. By admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they don’t have absolute authority when it comes to explaining causes. (Miracles)
  3. By admitting God, Darwinists would risk losing financial security and professional admiration. (Power/Money)
  4. By admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they don’t have the authority to define right and wrong for themselves.

Summary

 

The authors propose teaching the scientific evidence that supports Intelligent Design in American public schools.  They argue why not give children all the scientific evidence, pro and con, and let them make up their own minds.  They say that Darwinists fight to prevent this from happening.  The reason why, they say, is because in this area Darwinists lack faith.

They lack the faith to believe that their theory will still be believed after our children see all the evidence.38

 

Discussion Point

 

For me the discussion must be about what appears to be the source of the conflict.  This is a moral battle.  Truth is at the center of this battle.  I argue that it’s a form sophisticated deception.  Advanced lying.  In every adversarial confrontation there are winners and losers.  Do you think there is a more important issue in the debate than that?  If so what might it be?


27Geisler & Turek page 139 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

28Geisler & Turek pages 142-155 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

29Geisler & Turek page 145 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

30 Michael Behe page 183 Mere Creation: Science, Faith, and Intelligent Design. William Dembski

31Michael Behe pages 232-233 Darwin’s Black Box.

32Geisler & Turek page 148 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

33Michael Denton page 285 Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.

34Geisler & Turek page 152 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

35Michael Behe page 22 Darwin’s Black Box.

36Geisler & Turek pages 156-161 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

37Geisler & Turek pages 162-163 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

38Geisler & Turek page 167 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.