Wednesday, December 23, 2009


My Response to a Skeptic who had Rejected my Objective Arguments for the Existence of God:

Perhaps you might be more responsive to my more personal and subjective reasons to believe in Christ. However, I usually don’t lead with these evidences because the skeptic can always retort, “Well, that’s your experience. There is no reason to regard it as any more valid than anyone else’s experience.” However, in the hope that you might be somewhat responsive, I’ll relate some events to you.

We still had prayer in the public school system when I was in 1st and 2nd grades. I learned the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer, which I took to bed with me at night. I would clasp my hands together and repeat what I had learned, sealing it off in “Jesus’ Name!” I had some wonderful answers to prayer, which I kept to myself.

When I was eight, the understanding that I was Jewish and that Jews didn’t do this type of thing intruded into my thinking. Consequently, I placed my ethnicity above the fact that I had experienced a number of miraculously answered prayers, and rejected Jesus, thereby condemning myself to a lonely life of depression, shame and anxiety.

This began to change after I incurred a serious chainsaw injury, which left me in a pool of blood, thinking that the next breath would be my last. Suddenly, I knew that someone else was with me! I was so overcome with joy, peace and love that I laughed at the prospect of death. I knew that God was there, that He loved me, and that I was totally under His protection. This joy was so intense that I cried out, “God, I don’t care if I loose both arms and legs as long as I can have You!”

This wasn’t the first time that I had been visited by such a profound love, joy, and peace. As a college student, I lifted my head from study and marveled to find myself overcome by this same experience. It lasted until the next morning and banished the interest I had had in the occult. I didn’t know what it was. The only thing that I knew was that I had nothing to do with it, in contrast to the occult rituals and incantations.

I was visited one other time after a Christian had prayed for me. Although I had regarded myself as a “seeker,” I was so closed that I couldn’t even begin to consider the connection between his prayer and the divine visitation. Instead, I thought that it was a matter of mind-over-matter, but as hard as I’d try, I was unable to conjure up that experience.

Four days later upon leaving the hospital, the joy had almost come to an end. Desperately, I vowed, “God, I just want You, and I’ll leave no stone unturned until I find you.” The one stone I had always avoided was Christianity.

However, the neighbors who had miraculously rescued me brought me some Christian books to read. They talked about a God of love who had died for us while we were His enemies, a God who would never leave nor forsake us, a God who completely forgave our sins. This sounded like the God I had encountered, but I didn’t want to make any hasty moves, least of all towards Christianity.

It required months of divine guidance through Scripture and His response to my prayers before I could even come to a fledgling faith.

I’m reluctant to say more, lest you might think that you need to have the same experiences that I had in order to enter into a relationship with Christ. Perhaps I needed these more than others because I had been so hostile to Christianity and the idea of faith?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Fine-Tuning Argument for the Existence of God

This argument affirms that this universe must have been designed by a supreme Intelligence. Everything is just too elegant, harmonious, and life-supporting! It’s just tailor-made for us! However, one atheist informed me, “The fine-tuning argument is insufficient to require a supernatural force at the onset of the universe. The physical laws of the universe are what they are.”

On the contrary, it appears that our physical laws are all calibrated in just the right way to support the very existence of the universe, let alone life. In this regard, the atheist astronomer Martin Rees writes,

“These six numbers [physical constants] constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator?” (“Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe,” (Basic Books: 2001)

For instance, according to Walter L. Bradley, Professor of Engineering at Baylor University, “The strong force: (the force that binds nucleons (= protons and neutrons) together in nucleus, by means of meson exchange)

If the strong force constant were 2% stronger, there would be no stable hydrogen, no long-lived stars, no hydrogen containing compounds. This is because the single proton in hydrogen would want to stick to something else so badly that there would be no hydrogen left!

• If the strong force constant were 5% weaker, there would be no stable stars, few (if any) elements besides hydrogen. This is because you would be able to build up the nuclei of the heavier elements, which contain more than 1 proton.…So, whether you adjust the strong force up or down, you lose stars than can serve as long-term sources of stable energy, or you lose chemical diversity, which is necessary to make beings that can perform the minimal requirements of living beings.”

All astro-physicists seem to agree that our fine-tuned physical laws are necessary for life. John Wheeler, formerly Professor of Physics at Princeton, writes,

“Is man an unimportant bit of dust on an unimportant planet in an unimportant galaxy somewhere in the vastness of space? No! The necessity to produce life lies at the center of the universe's whole machinery and design.....Slight variations in physical laws such as gravity or electromagnetism would make life impossible.”

Bradley concludes, “When cosmological models were first developed in the mid-twentieth century, cosmologists naively assumed that the selection of a given set of constants was not critical to the formation of a suitable habitat for life. Through subsequent parametric studies that varied those constants, scientists now know that relatively small changes in any of the constants produce a dramatically different universe and one that is not hospitable to life of any imaginable type.”

Where does this leave atheism and naturalism? It seems that they have only one recourse – the existence of an infinite number of universes! I think that Tim Folger, writing for “Discover Magazine,” sums it up nicely:

“Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life….The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non¬religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life. (“The Multiverse Theory,” Dec. 2008)

However, even if there were an infinite number of universes, thereby making it reasonable that our own fortuitous one could just happen, many problems are created by such a solution – What generates all of these universes with their laws? What keeps them separated so that they don’t collides and self-destruct? What maintains the constants in the midst of all the molecules-in-motion? Besides, there’s no scientific evidence for even a second universe, let alone millions of them. In view of all the evidence of fine-tuning, Wheeler concludes,

• “The design requirements for our universe are like a chain of 1000 links. If any link breaks, we do not have a less optimal universe for life -- we have a universe incapable of sustaining life! …I must conclude that it takes a great deal more faith to believe in an accidental universe than to believe in an intelligent creator, or God who crafted such a marvelous universe and beautiful place of habitation in planet Earth, and then created life (including human beings) to occupy it.”

Perhaps, therefore, the Biblical assertion that God made everything is not unreasonable – far more reasonable than the bland assertion that the laws just “are what they are!”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Messiah of Israel

Regarding the Talmud’s references to Jesus, one respondent to David Klinghoffer’s blog wrote:

“Why is it important whether Jesus is mentioned in a few places in the Talmud…Judaism has a long history of men who were considered Messiahs by some of their followers.”

Yes, Israel has had its false Messiahs. However, the reason that the question of Jesus should be of paramount interest to the “Children of Abraham” is that he might have been our promised Messiah. One thing that should give us some concern are the prophecies that point to this tragedy – that we would reject our Messiah:

• Zech. 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they [Israel] have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

• Isaiah 53:3-6 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

• Psalm 118:22-24 The stone [the Messiah] the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

• Isaiah 8:14 and he [the Messiah] will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.

• Isaiah 49:6-7 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." This is what the LORD says--the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel--to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation [of Israel], to the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

However, I feel that I need to place these verses within the context of the entire revelation of God, lest anti-Semites manipulate these verses for the purpose of hate and the denigration of Israel. God’s rejection of Israel is only temporary:

 Hosea 1:9-11 Then the LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God." Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited...

 Isaiah 49:14-17 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.

 Romans 11:25-29 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they [Israel] are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

God and the Problem of “Infinite Regress”

My Response to an Atheist: God’s existence makes more sense than other explanations for the universe:

I’m sorry if I wasn’t very clear (or if I wrongly charged you). I certainly wasn't suggesting that God doesn’t need an explanation or that we must just accept God as a premise. Instead, acknowledging that we can’t get our minds around how things came to be – either things sprang into existence without cause or something or Someone had to be eternal and not requiring a cause – I tried to argue that the Supernaturalistic explanation was more tenable than the naturalistic one.

Regarding the solution for the problem of “infinite regress,” the Someone or something has to be:

1. ETERNAL AND UNCAUSED: This would relieve us of the problem of explaining the Someone’s or something’s (the universe in this case) existence.

2. A SUFFICIENT FIRST CAUSE: This cause would have to be sufficient enough to explain everything else (the effects) that follows. If it is insufficient, then the effects would, to some extent, be uncaused – an unacceptable conclusion. Furthermore, intelligent causes are more sufficient than causes that are restricted to working according to one particular formula.

3. SINGULAR: It’s much easier to accept a single Person or thing that is uncaused and eternal than a collection of things.

4. UNIFIED: The best scientific theory is the one most parsimonious.

5. TRANSCENDENT: All of the things that we have experience with aren’t eternal. All material things seem to require causes. Therefore, it makes more sense that this Person is Other and transcendent. This Person must also transcend time, because it’s logically impossible to cross an infinite number of years – and this is what the notion of eternity would require -- to arrive at the present. Even when we try to formulate a naturalistic explanation, we have a tendency to conceive of these natural laws as always existing, outside of time – transcendent. We invest them with God-like qualities. Might as well just go for the real God!

All that I’m trying to demonstrate here is that believing in God doesn’t require that we shut down our minds. Instead, it seems that the most reasonable thing that we can do is to either believe in God or to explore this question with renewed gusto.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skeptical of Atheism

My Response to an Atheist Skeptic who Believes that Believing in God is Foolishness:

While I share your high estimation of skepticism – It was skepticism that brought me from agnosticism to Christianity – you provocatively stated: “The important point is that there are plenty of notions, such as that of gods, that cannot be rejected in the same way (pace both Coyne and Dawkins), and yet can be rejected on reasonable grounds for the simple fact that they are extraordinary claims without the support of extraordinary evidence (to paraphrase Carl Sagan paraphrasing David Hume).”

While I agree with you about the “extraordinary claims” and the “extraordinary evidence,” I must point out that we all must grapple with the same two “extraordinary” choices: Either Naturalism or Supernaturalism is the origin/explanation of the universe. Let me now set forth some arguments for Supernaturalism in favor of Naturalism.

1. Our experience uniformly demonstrates that the cause must be greater than the effect. Intelligent causation is greater than non-intelligent causation. Therefore, supernaturalism must be the preferred hypothesis.

2. Supernaturalism (transcendence) is a better explanation than Naturalism (materialism) for the immutability of the physical laws. Something must transcend our expanding universe of molecules-in-motion. (Where do the “natural” laws come from?)

3. Supernatural Transcendence is also a better explanation than localized materialism for the uniform operation of these laws throughout the universe.

4. Supernatural Oneness is more parsimonious than the idea of myriads of independently operating natural laws. It better accounts for the stability and regularity of the physical world.

5. Although we all agree that phenomena occur formulaically and predictably, there is absolutely no evidence that the laws that govern are natural as opposed to their being part of a Super-Intelligence.

6. Naturalism is utterly inadequate to account for many phenomena – life, DNA, consciousness, freewill, the fine-tuning of the universe, reason and logic – while Supernaturalism is adequate.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Honor and Respect: A Matter of Making-Believe?

An atheist blogger wrote: “What if we could explain love scientifically [exclusively in terms of biology] — would that change our attitude towards it? Would the knowledge that this transcendent feeling is generated by the presence of a particular chemical in our brain detract from the transcendence? And if we were forced to admit that the concepts of ‘soulmates’ or ‘true’ love are nonsensical, would we love less deeply?

If love is just a matter of bio-chemical reactions, what then is the basis for speaking truth in love, faithfulness in love, integrity and honesty in love, honoring and respecting the other in love – the grit of relationship? Sometimes we have to act out love, even when we don’t feel love, because there are considerations higher than our bio-chemistry or even pragmatic considerations.

In fact, leading marriage counselors have gravitated away from the emphasis upon fulfilling one’s own needs to the necessity of putting the other’s needs and respect first. For instance, marriage therapist John Gottman writes:

“Without the fundamental belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect, where is the basis for any kind of rewarding relationship?” (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 65)

However, it’s hard to derive these concepts of “honor and respect” from naturalism and materialism alone. Pragmatism will just not take us there! We can always make-believe that we “honor and respect,” but if we are doing this just because of the benefits we will derive, eventually our hypocritical ruse will be exposed.

Materialism/naturalism isn’t adequate to support truly and persistently loving relationships. We all want to believe in things like the “Bill of Rights” or even respect and equality. Psycho-therapists have also learned that they must treat their clients with respect and dignity if the therapeutic relationship is going to go anywhere. However, if we regard one another in a materialistic and superficial way, we should grant some respect and some disrespect, according to their contributions. Materialism can’t support concepts of essential equality and dignity of humanity. It can support only distinctions according to the way we see things.

After all, some people contribute greatly to society and our own lives, while others represent a tremendous expense. Therefore, if we regard the latter from a strictly materialistic perspective, its “truth” would require that we treat them with disdain and disrespect. This conclusion is inevitable, although it might seem strange. However, society takes something like “equal rights for all” for granted because our thinking is still largely conditioned by our Christian heritage – however bad we might be, we are still created in the image of God, and must be treated accordingly.

However, as we continue to loose this understanding, society will unveil horrors of which we’ve seen only a foretaste in communist/atheist nations.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

“Religious faith is simply foolish!” Bill insisted.

“By what standard of rationality can you make such a judgment,
” I responded.

I was leading Bill into a discussion of the Transcendental Argument for God’s existence. It goes like this:

1. Logic and reason exist.
2. Logic and reason can’t exist without God.

Conclusion: God must exist!

Premise #1 doesn’t require any proof. It is self -evident. We all agree that reason and logic exist. In order to deny them, we must use reason and logic, the very things we are denying!

Premise #2 involves only two possible choices: logic and reason are either the result of natural, unintelligent force(s) or an intelligent, transcendent Being. If we can rule out the first possibility, we are left with God.Here are some considerations that would tend to rule out the first option:

1. There is no evidence that natural, unintelligent forces exist. Although we all agree that objects are subject to laws and respond in formulaic and predictable ways, there is no evidence whatsoever that these laws are natural, unintelligent and independent of one another. It is more likely that they find their origin and unity in the single Mind of God.

2. Reason and logic are unchanging. In an ever expanding universe of molecules-in-motion, naturalism can’t account for unchanging laws or principles.

3. Reason and logic are uniform, wherever we look and in whatever historical period. However, for a force or law to be natural, it must have a location from which it exerts its influence. (At least, that’s our experience with the “natural.”) The sun attracts the earth because it is in proximity to the earth. We find that this gravitational influence diminishes as the distance increases. Likewise, I’ve found that I can’t pick up the WQXR radio signals, which beam from a station in NYC, when I’m in Pennsylvania. However, the laws of physics (and reason and logic) seem to operate uniformly and universally, transcending the material considerations of location, matter and energy. Naturalism can’t seem to make such a leap.

4. Reason and logic require an adequate cause. There are so many other things that naturalism can’t adequately explain (life, DNA, fine-tuning of the universe, freewill, consciousness, moral absolutes, the unchanging physical laws). Therefore, there is no reason to believe that naturalism is adequate to account for reason and logic.

5. Our experience with causal agents informs us that the cause is always greater than the effect. If the effect was greater than the cause, it would suggest that some part of the effect is uncaused - a scientific impossibility!

If we can't account for reason and logic naturally, then we are only left with a super-natural explanation! God must exist!

Bill retorted, “Reason tells us that the Garden of Eden and talking snakes couldn’t exist!”

“But how can you put any trust in your reason in a world of molecules-in-motion?”
Bill was stuck. He could only account for his use of unchanging reason by appealing to an unchanging, transcendent God, the very God he was denying.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Atheist Subway Slogans

I haven’t seen the subway poster, but I heard that it reads, “One million New Yorkers can be good without God!” Of course, atheists, like anyone else, can be good without God. We all possess that uncomfortable conscience which raises a fuss whenever we do something wrong. The conscience is so persuasive that it usually keeps us within certain limits, at least superficially. However, the real question is whether or not the atheist has an adequate rationale to do good.

Despite the poster’s bold claim, there are several warning signs to the contrary. The atheist must first believe that there is such a thing as “goodness,” rather than a useful idea that we create in order to make society work. If there is no reality of “goodness” and “evil,” then we can’t even begin to talk coherently about being good without God.

The other warning alarm begins to sound when the atheist unfurls his rationale for doing good. This rationale generally consists of a combination of factors such as “enlightened” selfishness and pragmatism. As one atheist explained enlightened selfishness:

“This principle transforms itself into a rational desire for community. We cherish and enjoy this life for others as well as ourselves; we care for each other as parts of infinite nature; we become persons and lovers of nature; and we endeavor not only to preserve each other in being but also to promote a shared happiness through acts of kindness, through friendliness, and also through laws [call them laws of nature] and institutions that foster and promote life.”

However, selfishness and pragmatism can just as easily promote some pretty ugly behaviors, as we have often seen. Sometimes, we find that our best interests are served by using others. Such is the fabric of human history!

I don’t think that this latest atheist initiative – subway-sloganeering – will be able to address these deficiencies any more than their “Blasphemy Contest,” but we can’t blame them for trying.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Way We Do Science

I’m not a big fan of hackers. However, one recent hack-job has given us an insider’s view of how science is done and how a scientific consensus is achieved and maintained. It has also proved that God can bring good out of evil.

As a consequence of the hack-job, the email exchanges of several British and American scientists in the forefront of climate-change research have been made public. Regarding this revealing exchange, John Tierney writes,

“When a journal publishes a skeptic’s paper, the scientists e-mail one another to ignore it. They focus instead on retaliation against the journal and the editor…These researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public relations war that they exaggerate their certitude.”

“Contempt for critics is evident over and over again in the hacked e-mail messages, as if the scientists were a priesthood protecting the temple from barbarians” (Science Times
(NYT) Dec. 1 2009, 1-2).

It’s this kind of group-think, exaggeration and dirty tactics that makes me wonder about how extensive this kind of problem is in the halls of academia. Last year, the documentary, Expelled, revealed that several academicians have been fired, denied tenure or simply harassed because of their sympathies for “intelligent design” (ID). In such a repressive climate, I think we have to be somewhat skeptical regarding the resulting scientific “consensus.”

Meanwhile, evolutionists promote the establishment position, that we, the public, can trust the findings of science because all of their findings and publications are carefully scrutinized by their peers. However, if their peers are no more than “a priesthood protecting the temple from barbarians,” we might have to question whether the foxes have been left in charge of the chicken coop.

Last month I heard David Berlinski, an agnostic who respects ID, relate a story about a publisher who apologized to a scientist because he had been forbidden to publish any paper sympathetic to ID. Berlinski suggested that this type of thing wasn’t unusual.

This raises the question, “What kind of trust should we place in the evol.-establishment?” However, according to the militant evolutionist, Richard Dawkins,

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in the findings of Science that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

Ironically, it has taken a criminal-hacker to demonstrate that our trust is more “safely” placed elsewhere.


Here’s my response to the winning blurb of the atheist blasphemy contest:

As a Christian, I’d just like to simply affirm the winning blasphemy-blurb: “Faith is no reason!” Faith certainly isn’t a REASON, but who says we invest ourselves in Christ without rationale? If it’s just a matter of believing, then why not Buddha or Mohammed?

Instead, there are many compelling reasons to embrace Christ. It may start with a subjective, life-changing encounter, but it doesn’t stop there. Christ provided many solid reasons-to-believe. He performed miracles before multitudes, which even Jewish sources confirm. He prophesied so that His followers would believe after the events took place. And then He capped it all off with a grand finale – He willingly went to the Cross to affirm everything He did and said. Even His resurrection is surrounded by sound historical evidence – so sound that even the atheist historian Gerd Ludemann confesses:

“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”