Sunday, 6 April 2014

Freedom from Doubts about Salvation

I was at rock bottom – I just felt so lost, so hopeless – I felt as though nothing I could do could make me clean, could make me good enough for God. I felt the sting of one of my deepest fears – rejection. My faith was at a point that I had absolutely no doubt in God and Jesus and the fact He died for the world. The part which just would not connect for me was that He did this not just for everyone else, but actually for me. I was absolutely doubting, not that God is true, not that the Gospel is true, but that my salvation is true.

I was terrified that I had got it wrong – absolutely terrified that God, after everything, was going to reject me on the Last Day and send me to hell, and could not quench this fear inside me. How could God accept me? My mind and emotions were all over the place. I kept doing what I knew to be wrong even though I was desperate not to. I was terrified whenever anyone asked, “Are you sure  you are a Christian?”, because I so desperately wanted to be in God’s Kingdom, and so desperate to be reassured by God that He accepts me.

I had an absolute fear of rejection, which I think began with my parents’ separation when I was 16 – which, I suppose, took my feeling of security away in long-term human relationships. From this point, I became almost obsessed that my friends would just at any point, arbitrarily and randomly reject me. I just was terrified of exclusion, from anything, from a social group, from a relationship, and most of all from God’s Kingdom.

I couldn’t bear the idea of being in a place and people judging me and talking behind my back about me – excluding me even though I was so desperate to be amongst them. At the same time, I saw other people who were being excluded from friendships, people who weren’t taken seriously, whose lives were almost treated as though they’re worth less than others. People whose deepest longings were to be accepted, but just were not.

I felt like this to both people and, worst of all, to God. I could not bear the pain of exclusion… I cried out at night, desperately crying for salvation, hoping no human could hear as they’d think I’d broken down, as it was so absolutely extremely desperate. I hated myself, I hated that I couldn’t feel content and included by God – I felt as though something inside me just was holding me back from God; I couldn’t get rid of it.

At worse times, I would feel overwhelmingly like the anger at myself couldn’t be expressed by shouts and weeping, so would hit my head and arm, as nothing else felt sufficient to express the emotion. There have been points more recently in which my shame and failure have felt so terrible that I just don’t trust God to give me a fresh start, as I really want to, and I felt so angry at myself. Without God, I was nothing, and couldn’t cope for a single minute without being in His light and salvation.

Yet, one night, when in a worship service at Cliff College, one of my dear friends felt as though they had a word from God to tell me. The verse was Galatians 5:1:

“For freedom Christ has set us free.”

Christ has set us free – Christ has set us free. Set me free! His explanation, and God working in me, began to finally create the idea that God didn’t want me to feel as though I would never be good enough, but wanted to reassure me that He wants me to stop worrying, because He accepted me already.

Other people reassured me that God had a plan and purpose for me – something which I had never heard to the extent that it almost moved me to tears. Before this, when I was in my late teens, and someone had told me directly for the first time, “God loves you, Elliot”, I almost broke down to weep as I did not even know what to do with such a wonderful piece of information.

I am now utterly reassured now that, in spite of all the negative ideas I’ve had, God is not an exclusive God. God does not talk behind our backs. God does not show favourites based on who’s least shy or most ‘cool’ or anything – He has no favourites. God is not like people. God’s relationship with you will never stop, not like my parents’ marriage stopped, not like relationships in the world are so sporadic and insecure.

This is the message I want to convey this morning, these verses from Romans 10 which reassure me so much:

“if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God does not want us to wallow in self-pity, or in fear – perfect love, which is what God has and always had, never has fear. Call out to Him, and He will save you. He loves you, every single person here. How I wish I’d known that when I was 16! He is your perfect Father, perfect friend, who will never dream of excluding you – even if all your friends seem to hate and ridicule and gossip about you – He will never let you go, not even one bit. With Him, you are so secure, so safe, in a relationship that will never end.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is so reassuring! All we need to do is ask, and God will set us free! We can trust Him! I realised my issue was not with God not accepting me, but more that I wasn’t accepting this acceptance for myself. We can know He accepts us, clean and free from our pain and our shame and our past and our inadequacy, no matter how much we think we fail people and how much we hate ourselves – God still loves us, still cares, still accepts us.

I still struggle with trusting in this now, but I am infinitely reassured that, no matter who excludes me, or rejects me, God will NEVER reject me – He is the friend who will never even dream of rejecting you, or leaving you, or forsaking you. God is not some figure who is trying to find fault with you to reject you, but He sent His very Son to die for us because He couldn’t bear to see us far from Him. He loves you, and longs to accept you and for you to know that He reaches out His hand for us to take, and will never take it away and will never give up on us.

No matter how rubbish we feel, no matter how much we fail, no matter how much we fear rejection, God will never, ever reject us. He wants us to live with Him free from fear, free from the pain of exclusion and rejection, and then, inspired by this, to include and not reject people ourselves. He won’t reject even a wretch like me.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
'Twas blind, but now I see.

And He rejoices He created every single person in this building – He longs for you to know His acceptance – and I would just love to spread that message this morning. God loves to accept you, and will never reject you. No question about it. This is why the Good News is so wonderful – it’s about God’s acceptance. I pray for freedom for all those who fear, for freedom to know God’s glad and loving acceptance of them, for every single person. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Expressions of God's Beauty - Wonderful Music

Greetings and kind wishes to all! :-) I've been wanting to do this for a while now... but here is a list of a few videos of examples of some songs and pieces of music that are particularly significant to me. Being a Christian may have its difficulties, but it also has the potential to be the source of utterly incredible rejoicing, a glimpse of which can be seen through music. It's so much more than just discussions about philosophy and apologetics, although these indeed have their place in order to benefit others; it's a wholly changed lifestyle, able to be filled with peace and hope. I hope that some of these, many of which are a a very different style from more traditional church music, are a blessing to those who hear, and give a glimpse of the wondrous hope God offers in Jesus...

I certainly wasn't the producer of any of the below songs or videos (they're far better than anything that I could make!); credit for them goes to the artists themselves. Also, this list might continue to grow in the future! I hope they are a blessing to anyone who listens! :-)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Formulating a Rationally Acceptable Christian Worldview

A model of Creation, God's love and interaction with us, and the Gospel, and responses to questions

In reply to a very kind blogger, who is looking into some of the ideas of Christianity's and other worldviews, I decided to respond to a few of the questions seen on the variety of issues that they have been discussing. This includes giving a little of my view on God as Creator, the meaning of Genesis and the 'image of God', and the idea of God using evolution as a tool, as well as God's love and the idea of why God's seeking of worship and prayer are expressions of altruistic love for humanity. In addition, a possible understanding of God's overall plan for reality is presented, together with its relation to the Gospel and the Atonement, before presenting a brief case for the rationality of the Christian worldview. As such, this post discusses a variety of issues.

Doing this is not meant to be in any way dogmatic: I am not asking readers to agree with everything that I have written below. Instead, I seek to provide a possible work-in-progress, non-exhaustive model, which is open to amendments and additions as necessary, for some of the basic truths about the Christian worldview, in order to present it as a rationally acceptable option. The word 'model' is used in a similar sense to the way it is in physics, biology or chemistry; it is a systematic formulation of some (not all) of the basic truths of a Christian worldview, which is designed be a good explanation for the data available. The word 'model' does not imply that what I have given below is somehow exemplary; the word model is being used in the sense of a possible systematic formulation, not in the sense of being an ideal. This systematic formulation is then designed to give a brief coherent Christian worldview which is (after any necessary modifications are made) reasonable, well-evidenced and thus rationally acceptable.

First of all, and this is very important, I must emphasise that we, as Christians, are all imperfect, and often portray a very bad image of what God is actually like; I would like to apologise, as I am often just another bad example, on behalf of us all. Thankfully, however, the actual truth of God's nature does not depend on what Christians believe about Him – no solely human theologian has grasped much more than a glimpse of God's love and compassion – which I, for one, am very relieved about indeed!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Common misconceptions about Moral Arguments

Common misconceptions about the statement “Objective morality cannot be grounded without a transcendent reality”

The idea of morality finding no 'grounding' without a transcendent reality (i.e. a reality that is more than just the natural, physical world, such as that which is postulated by theism) depends on what 'grounding' refers to. Defining it correctly changes the meaning of the statement drastically; I suggest that 'grounded' could be defined as 'made objectively true'. 'Objectively true' then refers to the idea that to say something like 'racism is wrong' is to make a statement about reality, which can be considered either 'true' or 'false' for all times and places, independent of what any contingent, physical mind believes about the matter. To say a moral maxim such as 'racism is wrong' is 'objectively true', is to say that it is true in the same way that the statement 'the moon exists' is true.

The statement above is frequently misunderstood. To clarify it, we shall explore some misconceptions about the idea; below are a few responses to these misconceptions about the meaning of the idea that truly objective morality cannot be grounded in a naturalistic worldview, which is one that denies the existence of a transcendent reality and hence any value independent of intelligent, physical minds. Looking at such misconceptions should help focus what the statement actually is referring to.

In short, this statement argues that, if morality is 'objective', this requires the existence of a reality that transcends physical reality, since physical reality itself is by nature indifferent about matters of morality. As has been observed from the time of Hume, one cannot arbitrarily move from a factual 'is' statement about an indifferent aspect of reality (such as the colour of a rock) to a prescriptive 'ought' statement pertaining to what a person 'ought' to do in a given situation. This is especially the case if we insist, as part of the definition of 'objectivity' (as has been done above), that such a statement must be independent of all human minds (or minds of any other species, for that matter). In other words, morality cannot be truly objective if this physical world is all there is.

The statement: “Objective morality cannot be grounded without a transcendent reality”

Misconception #1: “This statement is arguing that a non-theist cannot be moral.”

This is certainly not what this statement claims; non-theists certainly can, and do, perform countless highly virtuous, loving and compassionate acts. The statement is arguing philosophically about the nature of ethics itself (meta-ethics), and what this nature implies about reality itself. It is not judging the actual morality of any individual or any group of people; in fact, this is totally irrelevant to the statement.

Misconception #2: “This statement is arguing that a non-theist cannot be motivated to be moral”

Again, this is not what the statement claims. In a psychological sense, there are plenty of legitimate motivations for a non-theist individual to perform kind, compassionate and loving acts, as would be expected if the Christian conception of the creation of humankind in God's image is accurate. The statement is referring to the nature of ethics itself, not about psychology or motivation. It is not judging any person or group of people on their motivations or intentions.

Misconception #3: “This statement is arguing that a non-theist cannot know what is moral”

This misconception assumes that 'grounding' refers to 'knowledge of moral values', where, again, this is not the claim of the statement. 'Grounding' refers to the nature of moral values themselves, how they are 'grounded' in reality (how they relate to reality, and in what sense they 'exist') not how we know what these moral values are. There is no denial that a non-theist can know what is moral and immoral to a full extent. Indeed, this would be expected on the Christian worldview. It is not a question of epistemology (knowing), but of ontology (existing, being).

See more >>

Monday, 4 June 2012

Support petition to release persecuted Alex Aan - get to 10,000 votes!

I believe that we ought to support and work for the rights and good of all people, regardless of belief, both Christian and non-Christian, since all without exception are loved by God, and His love is unconditional, I wanted to make this post calling out for support an individual named Alex Aan in Indonesia who, due to his atheist beliefs (which he posted on Facebook and testified to when questioned), has been beaten and imprisoned, and could face 6 years in prison unless pressure is put upon the government to release him.

I wished to support this case in particular, for example, to demonstrate that God's heart is against such injustice, and hence we as Christians ought to be similarly against it, along with all such discrimination, whether it be against Christians such as Asia Bibi (see earlier article), Muslims or atheists, including those whom society deems as criminals. No person ought to be excluded.

More information about this case is presented, for example, on Persecution.org, a Christian organisation: http://www.persecution.org/2012/06/01/struggle-for-religious-freedom-in-indonesia-unites-christians-atheists/

Please spread the word about supporting the case, remembering to emphasize God's unconditional love for Alex and those, Christian and non-Christian, who are supporting his case.


Thanks to everyone! Best wishes to you all! :-)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Agnostic to Christian ... aided by "The God Delusion" (!) and first-hand miracles...

A wonderful friend who I know has recently written a book of two parts ('The New Theology'): the first ('Comic Divinity') documents his disillusionment with various expressions of Christianity, while the second ('Death and Resurrection') documents how he returned to Christianity with new and refreshed fervour and steadfastness from being an Agnostic (wanting to be Atheist).

 He's quoted a section of this on his blog 'Tea and Gunpowder' specifically about the role in his returning to Christianity of reading 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins and miracles he experienced when he was younger, where a badly sprained arm was (despite his not expecting it to) spontaneously healed and a prophesy he received turned out to be 'scarily' accurate. Even though he, at one point, desperately wanted to, he was not able to rationally deny that these events seemed to point to a transcendent personal Being... 

See the amazing story of a wonderful person here at his blog...

http://jthargreaves.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/dog-delusion.html


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Another new video - "God's amazing love in Jesus Christ"!

Quite a few videos recently, but here's one I decided to put together... with encouraging Bible verses on a background of some good videos and Holst's "Jupiter" (modified!)...

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

(Revelation 3:20)



I made this video to encourage others about the breadth and steadfast nature of God's love for all people without exception, unconditionally, without limit, without favouritism, expressed through Him reaching out to us, knocking on the door to our hearts through Jesus Christ. There is no darkness in Him; he shines through the darkness of the world, guiding us back home where He waits, looking continually to the horizon for our return, ready to embrace and welcome and celebrate our safe homecoming. Jesus' arms are wide out to us on the cross; He has come to us, if we would only put our trust in Him, calling out to Him who is ready to forgive and reconcile us.

"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ... for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." "

(Romans 10:9,13)

Thank you for watching! I hope that people find it encouraging!

Credits:

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Amazing music video by Jenny and Tyler - "Song For You"

God fully reaches out to us, desperately seeking His children to return safely home....

I thought that this song by Jenny and Tyler, together with the video, basically sums up the Gospel message, which is that, despite humankind's stubbornness and thirst for independence from God (like the prodigal son in Jesus' parable seeking to leave home), God calls to us, reaching out to us and eagerly willing us to come back to Him. We see how He does not force people back, but gives them the opportunity to turn back of their own accord (as in the parable), encouraging them through little signs day by day, which we may not even notice, or even ignore.

We see also how bright the future is with God (which is why He lovingly calls people back to Himself), as symbolized by the yellow field, both in assurance and hope for the present and wonderful life for the future; one of the most touching parts for me is the amazing, fatherly declaration that,  "I will never harm you. So come!" God has opened up the channel to Himself through trust in Jesus Christ, desperately loving us and wanting us to abide in His joy, and reaching out to us with outstretched arm, if we would but accept His hand so that He could pull us back onto our feet...

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptqTZSUt56E&feature=plcp&context=C4b5197dVDvjVQa1PpcFOwsRwhXBhhoeNlwSzarMvd7pa6tfKgmzA%3D

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Wonderful Joy of the Good News - "Gospel Canon"

Here are some reflections on God's welcoming love and mercy to all Creation in this simple video, outlining the Good News (Gospel) of God's love, and the basis by which anyone can accept its message. The video uses a background theme tune of a new Canon-like piece of music (very similar to a round, where one part repeats another, one after the other) using the chords (but possibly a different key) of Pachelbel's Canon and new melody. 

Thank you for watching! I hope that people find it encouraging!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcDZcHHPCv8


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

God's love and our love - 1 Corinthians 13

Maria Skobtsova was a Russian nun, whose residence took in Jews over the second world war to help in their hiding and escape from the Gestapo. This had some success until the house was shut and a number of people, including her, were arrested and sent to concentration camps. At Ravensbruck concentration camp, she spent two and a half years, during which the guards began to refer to her as, 'that wonderful Russian nun' and many saw God's love through her. Then, on Holy Saturday in 1945, as people were lined up for so-called bathing, she took the place in line of a terrified Jewish women, and died in the gas chambers, to save the life of another.

What do we mean by, 'love'? Unfortunately, like usual, the answer isn't particularly simple; when we are called to love all people, love is being used in a different, but not necessarily less powerful, sense to that in a marriage, for example. To clarify this, let's turn to four ancient Greek conceptions of 'love', as seen in C. S. Lewis' 'The Four Loves':

Firstly, so-called 'Storge' refers to the affection felt for someone whom you are familiar with, and the affection felt between family members.

The second concept, 'Phileo', is slightly different – it refers to the affection of true friendship that rises above friendship solely for selfish benefit, where individuals mutually enjoy each others' characters and genuinely care for their well-being.

The third concept, 'Eros', refers to the powerful forces of romantic love and attraction.

However, the forth, and last, concept, 'Agape', refers to unconditional, self-giving, selfless, outward, charitable and unconditional love. It is this love that is chosen rather than simply felt, and which never fails regardless of any change in the one who is being loved, and which is referred to in our passage, 1 Corinthians 13. It is the highest form of love, being God's love to always will the good of others, regardless of their appreciation, a form of love that is seldom glimpsed in human existence but is eternally part of God's nature.

Hence, with such a magnificent conception of love, we are challenged by these 13 verses to consider our attitude to other people, and our attitude to God's love. These verses apply firstly to ourselves, arguing that love is not simply good, but categorically required for true service of God, since, otherwise, we 'gain nothing'. We also see the emphasis on intention and attitude rather than the exterior act, so that each situation is judged individually, and the required agape love mindset is something which can be practised and developed, like a musical instrument.
However, a loving intention is not merely a moral and good motive; in fact, as written in 1 John, 'God is love'. Agape love is the moral paradigm, the height of moral perfection, the centre of the first and second greatest commandments.

We are called to love our friends, our neighbours, our rivals, our competitors, and even our enemies. We are called to follow the 'most excellent way'. We are called to be patient with each other, to work deeds of kindness, to be humble and not prideful, to be content with others having what we don't have, to honour others, to remain calm, to be selfless, to love the truth and goodness, to forgive unconditionally, to protect the weak, to always have hope, and to never give up on others.

Indeed, how far I, for one, have to go to even begin fulfilling the challenge presented in this passage! Yet, wonderfully, we can look back to the paradigm of moral greatness, of perfect agape love, God Himself, and His unconditional love for us, and be glad and secure. We need to keep faith trusting in Him, so that He can transform us from the inside, hope in His promises, and to continue propagating a true attitude of agape love.

This brings us onto the second challenge of this passage: as well as applying it to our imperfect selves, we can see all the descriptions of agape love applying to the Epitome of love Himself, God. What we are challenged to be in this passage, God already is: His love never fails, enduring forever (as the Psalmist declares), and He perseveres with us. God is love, and God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. God has full agape love, having moral perfection, and hence does nothing not in line with maximal love.

However, it must be emphasised, that, unlike other forms of love such as eros and storge, this agape love is anything but, 'fluffy'. God's agape is an active, powerful, passionate love, which will not tolerate injustice. It is love that despises evil whilst always desiring the good of the offender. It is love which has righteous wrath at hatred, misery and suffering, and which is prepared to discipline an offender for their own good. It is love that will not sit back and do nothing; it is a love that will experience terrifying crucifixion for the sake of a lost sheep. God's love can be severe, but it is infinite, and always ultimately for the good of the individual experiencing it.

We can, hence, trust always in God's love to work the good, even if it's through seemingly harsh means; we can rejoice and never despair, for we see that the agape that God is always perseveres with us and will never fail, or abandon us, and will protect us from falling. We can cast ourselves unto God, not for an easy ride, but for a difficult journey to an infinitely rich destination.

It is in response to God's intense care for us that we are moved to worship, and that we are moved to love others, and love Him, through our kindnesses to one another. We are challenged to consider our lives, and how they measure up to the standard of agape love which our Father in heaven upholds.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Defeating the “Problem of Evil”

The problem – intellectual and emotional – of why what we call 'evil' exists is age-old, and an issue that every human being, whether atheist or Christian, ultimately is confronted with. Philosophically and intellectually, it seems to be fairly easily overcome (as I will hopefully try to explain below) in a Christian worldview, but pastorally and emotionally, it can be a terrible struggle for us all, from atheist to devout Christian. My argument would then be that the Christian worldview, in fact, provides both a much more hopeful answer and decent solution to the pastoral issue, as well as coping intellectually with the problem.

We can start with the intellectual response, where we can split the 'problem' into three forms: logical, evidential and emotional/pastoral:

Friday, 2 September 2011

Save Asia Bibi from death sentence and continued imprisonment!

Sign the petition - www.callformercy.com

This is off-topic to Christian apologetics, but I thought that it is a very worthwhile cause and petition, inspired by Christiana Szymanski's "Christian Witness Under Fire" blog at http://cwuf.blogspot.com/ (her associated Christian apologetics blog, "In Defense of the Christian Faith" is at http://defendchristianfaith.blogspot.com/)

The Pakistani woman Asia Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009, on charges of blasphemy after a discussion at work where she had replied to defend her Christian position to the women who were talking to her. After trial, she was sentenced to death by a judge on November 8, 2010, fined $1,190 (US) and given 7 days to appeal. The appeal was promptly made, and the results from the Lahore High Court are not yet decided; Asia remains in prison whilst her fate is determined.

Urgent action is needed to save Asia from the death sentence and from continued imprisonment, as well as protection if she is freed; she would probably then seek asylum in another country.

Please sign the petition above! Also, please spread the word to others!

There are other ways to help, including contacting Pakistani officials and Asia Bibi herself (information is at http://cwuf.blogspot.com/2011/07/update-on-asia-bibi.html). Please, if you do send anything, be very careful to not be antagonistic or in any way disrespectful, or to discuss politics or Islam or the blasphemy law itself etc., in order to not make things worse; please focus on the point, which is the freedom of Asia Bibi.

Also, I would just like to emphasise that some Muslims are also opposed to the blasphemy laws, and they are spoken out against in this article (as an example): http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-01-10/edit-page/28365726_1_islamic-abusive-language-blasphemy

Thanks to everyone!

Monday, 8 August 2011

An in-depth Cosmological Argument from Contingency

Using many ideas derived from other authors, the following (long post) defends the premises of a version of the Cosmological Argument from Contingency based on Dr. William Lane Craig, with slight alteration:

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Resurrection ... the Best Historical Explanation!

I think that the evidence for the resurrection is often underestimated. A case for the resurrection can be made using mainly a few facts that the significant majority of scholars (atheist to Christian) agree upon, even if we take the Gospels and Paul’s letters as historical sources rather than presuming inspired content:

1) Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross (as evidenced by Tacitus, Josephus and Paul, amongst others)

2) The disciples, subsequent to the resurrection, had experiences which they sincerely believed to be those of the risen Jesus (as seen in the early creed contained in 1 Corinthians 15)

3) James, Jesus’ brother, who is recorded as being a sceptic in the Gospels (where the criterion of embarrassment supports the authenticity of this) became a Christian, and the persecutor Paul, after experiencing what he sincerely believed to be the risen Jesus, became a devoted preacher of Christianity.

The above have general scholarly consensus (as compiled by research of large numbers of qualified scholars by Dr. Gary Habermas), and so can be used as the ‘building blocks’ of any explanation, naturalistic or otherwise, to explain them. Then, we can use the following historical criteria, which are important to help moderate explanations that are posited:

Explanatory power – can the explanation explain the evidence easily, without forcing it to fit?

Explanatory scope – can the explanation explain all the known data?

Ad hoc assumptions – are there any assumptions with no evidence whatsoever that must be made?

Plausibility – is the explanation plausible in itself?

One popular objection is that Jesus didn’t actually die, and so ‘woke up’ after being crucified and somehow managed to walk back from the place of burial to the disciples and convince them that He had been raised to life. This ‘swoon hypothesis’ can be widely rejected. It utterly fails the plausibility criterion, for starters, because, apart from the friends recorded by the historian Josephus (who were removed from crucifixion early, and a few of them died as a result of this regardless despite good medical care), just about no-one survived crucifixion, let alone burial, let alone examination by Roman soldiers for signs of life. Even if Jesus had, however, He in no way would have been able to escape from the tomb, fight any guards present, walk to find the disciples (without being spotted by anyone as covered in blood), and then convince them of resurrection, without any professional medical attention. This is especially evident with James, being a sceptic who became a Christian. Hence, this idea lacks plausibility, and explanatory power (without forcing the facts to fit). It also lacks scope, not fitting the many resurrection appearances, not accounting for Jesus after this point (where would He have gone after He found the disciples?), and certainly not fitting Paul’s conversion. Jesus’ survival is also an ad hoc assumption.

Another objection is hallucination, which could be postulated to be schizoid personality disorder. This is then assumed to somehow affect the vast majority (which is both implausible and not very well evidenced) of the disciples so that they are all subjected to such experiences. They would also have to have been convinced that they were bodily hallucinations rather than the traditional idea of disembodied spirits in order to declare ‘resurrection’ out of the blue. This runs into many problems: it is inherently implausible, given the ancient creed’s account (from 1 Corinthians 15) of many people having experiences simultaneously (500 people are mentioned at one stage), even given this (or any other) disorder. It does not account well for James’ conversion (from a sceptic), who would have doubted such experiences had they happened to others, and requires postulating a different condition to explain Paul’s conversion (another assumption).

It also fails to account for the success of the early Christian movement (even though its followers were few), compared to other, similar movements, without making more ad hoc assumptions. The mutation in Jewish teaching about the resurrection (i.e. different ideas about how it happened to people) from the diversity of approaches prior to Jesus’ death to a singular, bodily approach is also not accounted for by this hypothesis. Also, with the evidence for the empty tomb (which is supported by the fact that the early Church was able to thrive near Jerusalem), this approach becomes even less useful. Hence, it seems that hallucination hypotheses have poor explanatory power (forcing the facts to fit) as well as very little explanatory scope, especially with the evidence for the empty tomb.

In stark contrast to the above, the resurrection hypothesis has explanatory scope and explanatory power that instantly explains all the facts (together with many others) with absolutely no forcing. Due to the other theistic arguments, which at very least increase the plausibility of God’s existence, the plausibility (by God’s intervention, not by natural means, as the latter would not be plausible) is sufficient and it contains few non-evidenced assumptions, because of these other arguments for God’s existence.

Therefore, we are within our historical warrant to conclude that the best historical explanation for the consensus of facts is the Resurrection Hypothesis.

More in-depth analysis of the Resurrection case: http://defendchristianfaith.blogspot.co.uk/p/following-is-list-of-all-posts-in.html
 

The Failiure of the 'Swoon' hypothesis (i.e. that Jesus only passed out)

Death by crucifixion was just about certain (especially for victims spending hours on the cross), and then there is the extra filter of Roman officials checking for signs of life (and, no doubt, taking action if they found any), and, regardless of this all, a partially dead Jesus, with extensive injuries, would not have been able to a) escape from any tomb (where rolling a stone across the entrance was a customary burial method), b) defeat guards (if any), c) walk to find the disciples without collapsing, d) remain undiscovered by anyone else when walking (including any guards at the entrance to the city) while wearing grave clothes, possibly still covered in blood, and heavily limping and e) find the disciples (they moved from house to house).

Even if He did all this, a partially dead Jesus, pale, injured and weak, would not be able to convince them of ‘glorious’ resurrection (at most, they would have preached His miraculous survival, not return from death, since this would be much less embarrassing, as crucifixion was thought to be a sign of being ‘cursed’, and, in addition, Jewish disciples, especially with a committed rabbi such as Jesus, would certainly be concerned with truth). This is especially the case for Jesus’ sceptical brother James and any other sceptical disciples (i.e. Thomas); in addition, this conjecture does nothing to explain the conversion of the persecutor Paul, who had an experience at a completely different time to the other disciples.

Jesus would have required medical attention, and the disciples most probably would not have wanted to preach, as this would mean that they would probably be searched (and the ill Jesus possibly found), and Jesus would need to somehow remain secret throughout the whole of the rest of His life (if He died, this would show the disciples that He had not been resurrected). Otherwise, if Jesus survived, He would have probably started preaching again to reveal the event to more people. In addition, to assert that a partially dead Jesus would have at all wanted the preaching of resurrection, given the remarks about honesty made in the lifetime (He would have, at most, wanted preaching about survival, given the 9th commandment prohibiting false testimony) is not plausible.

As an example of how weak this ‘swoon’ hypothesis actually is, we can consider David Strauss (who vehemently denied Jesus’ resurrection), who also tore apart the ‘swoon’ hypothesis:

It is impossible that a being who had stolen half dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill and wanting medical treatment... could have given the disciples the impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of life: an impression that lay at the bottom of their future ministry." (David Strauss, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swoon_hypothesis )


In regard to the above, in reference to mainstream, qualified and professional scholars, the ‘swoon’ hypothesis has been largely abandoned, with the theologian Albert Schweitzer not referring to any “convinced proponents” of the swoon hypothesis after the year of 1838 (which is 3 years after David Strauss’ criticism of this hypothesis) (http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm#_ednref
8, endnote IX)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Christianity passes the Outsider Test For Faith with Flying Colours!

It seems to me that Christianity passes the Outsider Test For Faith (OTF), where a person steps 'outside' their worldview and examines it rationally from that position, with ‘flying colours’!

Quote from John W. Loftus (proponent of the OTF):

“That Christians object to taking the Outsider Test for Faith only confirms it doesn't look good for their faith. For if Christianity passed the OTF with flying colors Christians would be arguing on behalf of it and pressing that case at every step along the way.”

To answer this generalisation: a) I do not object to taking it, b) I don't think that it looks bad on the Christian worldview, c) It passes with 'flying colours' and d) It's a shame that more people haven't used this for some people who have become atheists for less-than-rational reasons, and that more people haven't defended the Christian worldview along the lines of the OTF.
 
As for myself, I am a Christian (specifically, to counter stereotypes, Christian evolutionist, Christian feminist and believer in universal reconciliation), and I do not believe that this "Outsider Test For Faith" poses any real challenge, or even necessarily conveys a bad image, to the Christian worldview if properly considered. I would like to have some atheists properly examining their worldviews, based on informed evidence, by this method!

By the Christian "worldview" (in contrast to the atheist "worldview") I mean the outlook on reality that we have, our fundamental presuppositions and commitments to ideas; all people have their own 'worldview'. By 'Christian', in this case for clarity, I refer to worldviews possessing the following characteristics (these are the basics - a Christian may have many ideas built on these - but these, in my opinion, are the foundations for categorising a worldview as 'Christian'):

1. God, as the intelligent Mind behind the universe, exists
2. God brought about the creation of the universe
3. God is benevolent, and chooses to be involved in human matters
4. Jesus is the Son of God, and God having chosen to take on human form
5. Jesus is the Christ (anointed from God)
6. Jesus was raised from death to life by God after crucifixion
7. God is able to sustain for other beings life subsequent to physical death

To show this, I, as a Christian, can adopt a hypothetical agnosticism, where I imagine that in fact I start out not knowing if these facts are true. Agnosticism is chosen because it is 'outside' both the atheistic worldviews and the theistic worldviews. Then, a case for the above 7 points can be built from the bottom up, without any reference to the inspiration of Scripture (which I haven't included as an absolute foundation; it seems to me that a person can still be a Christian if they don't concede the inspiration of the Bible, although I disagree with this approach) or prior Christian assumptions. Below is a very quick outline of what forms of arguments can be used for each point:

1) Evolutionary argument against naturalism (showing that rational discourse fits better into a theistic worldview),
Design of the fundamental principles of physics (e.g. the very presence at all of the very specific strong force, or gravity, as well as fine-tuning and the mathematical nature of physical equations, especially if there is a multiverse and thus even more complexity),
Cosmological argument from contingency (i.e. non-necessity of any of the contents of the universe, which points to a metaphysically necessary Mind on whom they are contingent on, especially given Godel's theorem),
Transcendental argument (where the logical basis of the universe (and the universal nature of the very laws of logic), independent of human minds and the existence of matter, points to the providence of a transcendent Mind)
(amongst other examples)

2) The points in (1) contribute to this, together with evidence of the Big Bang, and evolution, that show some degree of development that can take the form of God's action.

3) The historical evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus (also supporting (1) and (2), and is made more plausible by the arguments in (1)) points to an affirmation of Jesus' teachings, centred on love: this is the strongest argument for this aspect of God's nature.
The moral argument that bases objective moral principles in the metaphysical necessity of God (not arbitrary, because they are based in God's loving nature), supports the idea of God's benevolence, since such principles far, far, surpass egoism, and they did not have to develop at all (i.e. the evolutionary origins of such moral principles to which I concede, through the intervention of God, did not HAVE to occur).
The ‘Problem of evil’ is an overall weak argument; firstly, it only argues against God’s goodness, and can say nothing about His existence. Secondly, it fails at this because it presumes a moral standard, and thus assumes that we understand the moral standard, which would require the assumption of God’s goodness to start with. Thirdly, even not taking this second point, given universal reconciliation (which seems to be the teaching of St Paul), treating humans as ends in themselves, God could easily have good reasons for allowing evil, as a consequence of free will, in order to bring about eternal happiness for every single person.
The human potential to have religious experience, which did not have to be the case, brings about largely positive and sometimes very dramatic results and points to God’s benevolence.
The human potential to have very vivid and largely positive NDEs (which, by the fact that this faculty exists at all to produce such experiences, suspiciously seems to correspond with a potential for life after death, and its positive nature supports God’s benevolance)

4), 5) and 6) can be established by the excellent case for Jesus' resurrection (made more plausible by the arguments in (1), and which should not be excluded without reason as a possibility, especially given reports of miraculous activity (and the vivid nature of NDEs) in recent years), from the minimal facts, changes in teaching from Judaism, many disciples' transformation based on something which they would have explicitly know to be false, and a suspicious lack of convincing historical evidence against the resurrection, as well as a multitude of other evidence.
This can be linked with historical evidence for the activity of the early Church, and by treating biblical documents as at least partially reliable historical documents to support (4) and (5).

7) is supported by (6) and the human potential for NDE, as well as just being a logical consequence of (3) combined with God’s power.

Let me say here that this CERTAINLY is not an all-inclusive list, but these points here give an example on how Christianity can certainly pass the OTF from a 'bottom up' perspective from agnosticism. Many will have heard lots of these arguments before, but properly thought-out and articulated versions of them not afflicted by 'straw man' assumptions are actually very powerful, and certainly enough for a Christian to pass the OTF. In light of this, the OTF could even be used to support Christianity.

To the contrary, it seems to me that, in stark contrast to the, in my view, pass 'with flying colours' of the Christian worldview, the atheist (stepping into the agnosticism viewpoint), has few comparably good arguments that a) don't make silent theistic assumptions, b) don't set up a 'straw man' form of Christianity and c) doesn't just act as an 'atheism of the gaps', feeding on where particular theologians may not have explained things fully enough.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An Utterly Failed Objection: "Who designed the Designer?"

Richard Dawkins likes to put forward the objection to this argument that the outstanding evidence for design in the universe raises a question of, “Who designed the Designer?” However, this so-called ‘problem’ is easily overcome.

Now, to address this, let’s consider why we are making a ‘design inference’ in the first place. A ‘design inference’ is basically the inference from an observed phenomenon in the universe that it shows evidence of ‘design’. In terms of the ‘design’ of the basic laws of physics (and their mathematical nature) as well as the fine-tuning of the universe (and also biological evidence of ‘design’, pointing to a form of theistic evolution or evolutionary creation), we can consider ‘design’ to refer to ‘signs of intelligent intervention’. In this way, for example, a computer shows signs of intelligent intervention by human manufacturers.

How can this be judged? Well, first of all, to even consider design at all, it must firstly be possible to design the entity in question; this means that it must be a ‘contingent’ object, not ‘necessary’ (existing in all possible universes at all times). A true necessary entity (which exists in all possible worlds) cannot be designed, because there is no metaphysical possibility of it being created because it cannot fail to exist. Therefore, only contingent objects, i.e. those that do not exist in every possible world and thus can rely on other objects to exist, can be designed.

Here we have the ‘problem’ answered: one of the attributes of God is necessity, i.e. existence in all possible worlds. Therefore, God is not contigent, and so, because it is not possible for Him to need ‘designing’ (no beginning or end, no possible world without existence), no design inference can be made. Neither is there any statistical improbability, since God, as a non-physical Mind not requiring a physical body, is ‘simple’, not having any complex arrangement, nor any beginning, nor any potential to fail to exist (which is required for improbability); thus, there is no ‘need’ for an explanation or ‘Designer’ of the Designer. In addition, with God being ‘maximally great’, there it no being greater than God to act as a designer. Therefore, this argument fails on all accounts. I think Dawkins misconceives God as both physical and contingent, neither of which are true of God, and so this ‘argument’ seems to boil down to a misunderstanding of God’s nature.

But what can we apply the ‘design inference’ to?

Last-minute dive to avoiding Design implications: "The universe was made by aliens" ...

Yet, even if this were so, this would only show more evidence of Design!

The fact that the objections to design arguments become more and more ridiculous, as we can see from these ideas that the universe was made by aliens in another universe, all to avoid bringing God as an intelligent Designer into it, is a great testimony to the success of these design arguments. For starters, this idea is only mere speculation, just as if I were to say that, “Jupiter actually is the size of the Earth and is rocky, yet it looks larger and made of gas”, this would be mere speculation.

Even if this were the case, however, yet again this does not matter, and actually strengthens the argument from design. The universe on which these aliens exist would still not have to exist, and the very fact that their universe has physical principles that can sustain life that is intelligent enough to produce universes as utterly intricate as ours shows even more design and purpose, all of which did not have to exist. Thus, even if our universe were made by aliens (which seems implausible anyway), this would, far from going against God’s design, show many times more design and thus evidence for God as intelligent Designer.

"Darwinian Evolution" of universes? Even more evidence of Design!

Some people may want to extrapolate the ideas of evolution outside of biology and into universes, saying that universes could evolve to become better. But notice firstly that this is a biological phenomenon (that, by the way, gives evidence for God in its ingenuity), that requires a self-replicating organism. We can then observe that the universe does not seem to reproduce, making other universes, and that it does not seem to be alive, apart from the life that is within it. This concept therefore, at first glance, is very contrived and implausible and is a good testimony to the success of the arguments from design for God.

However, even if the universe does evolve over time, this does not matter at all, and indeed shows even better design, since it involves a basic set of physical laws that are fantastically ingenious, enough to cause universes to produce one another and sustain a universe as complex as ours, all of which did not have to exist. If universe evolution (which seems unlikely anyway) were the case, it would provide even more fabulous evidence for God’s design in the ingenuity of the fundamentals of physics.

The Multiverse: Excellent evidence for Design!

Another common misconception is that another theory – the idea of a multiverse (multiple universes existing separate from one another with different physical constants etc. – somehow ‘replaces’ design where, in fact, as we shall now see, even the multiverse itself shows design.

The very fact that such an idea as ‘infinite universes’ has been proposed anyway is telling, as it is highly contrived, and would surely not have been put forward except to try and dodge the inevitable conclusions that we come to from the design arguments: God as a transcendent intelligent Designer. It shows the success of the universe in exhibiting outstanding order that no-one can rationally shake off. Those who want to dodge design are really being pushed into a tight corner, especially as no real, good evidence for other universes exists!

Let’s now address this by showing how even the multiverse, whatever form it may take (whether it be that each universe has the same physical principles and varying combinations of particles, or varying physical constants, or full-scale variable physical laws), also fits nicely into the argument from design:

1)   Even within a multiverse, our current universe does not just have the bare minimum required for intelligent life, but much more in addition, such as understandable simple mathematical ‘laws’, provision for scientific study, aesthetic character, and a sheltered earth, highly finely-tuned universe and ingenious physical ‘laws’. It is extremely and utterly improbable that we would exist within a universe, even within a multiverse, that is as special as our own, and so design is shown by an apparent bias for these better conditions.

2)   Infinity as an abstract number or concept does not commonly describe physical phenomena in nature, which are finite, and so the idea of infinite other universes is highly implausible, regardless, based on observation.

3)   Most importantly, the multiverse, whatever form it takes, itself does not have to exist. Infinite other possible realities without a multiverse, where there is only one universe, conceivably exist, and all of these possible realities cannot exist simultaneously without being logically contradictory (since some have only one universe, and some have more).

The multiverse itself, which thus did not have to exist, has been able to (according to the model) form life and physics as fantastically ordered and intricate as that in our universe. Hence, even a multiverse shows intense evidence of design in that it is an ingenious mechanism for the formation of a universe such as ours (with breathtaking design) that could easily not have existed.

Overall, whether we are in a multiverse (of whatever kind) or a single universe, a great deal of intricacy and design is shown by our current universe, that is inescapable.

Rebuttal of argument 'against' Design: The idea of varying laws of physics

Some people may want to postulate that the ‘laws’ of physics vary by place, giving different laws in different places. However, such an assertion, in order to not form contradictory laws in different places in the universe, would probably only really be related to variations in minor components of forces, and thus does nothing to explain the utterly ingenious and powerful nature of the types of forces, energy and mass, space and time, that we see within the universe that did not have to exist.

Moreover, it would rely on a very dynamic and variable form of space-time that would itself show good evidence of design (since it would not have to exist), and a way (that would show yet more evidence of design) of allowing these variable laws of physics to exist.
In addition, the probability that we should exist within a place where the ‘laws’ are so favourable to us, exceeding the necessity for intelligent life and providing further benefits such as those to encourage technological advance, is miniscule.

Regardless of this all, even if large variations of physical ‘laws’ existed from place to place within the universe, this gives an overall universe of varied physical laws that itself did not have to exist, since there are possible realities where the physical laws of the universe are uniform and different. Hence, the very fact that variation in physical laws is present in this model, allowing life such as ours to exist in part of such a universe, shows excellent evidence of design, and may even be God’s mechanism to fulfil (with the variable physical laws) numerous other purposes. Hence, the idea of variable physical laws by place doesn’t go against design; indeed, it could even enhance it!

Even so, crucially, this idea fails under terms of the Cosmological principle in physics, which asserts that the laws of physics are isotropic (the same in all directions). Hence, this proposition is utterly implausible physically anyway.

Rebuttal to argument 'against' Design: "The universe is very large"

The fact that the universe is very large, and even if we consider that our solar system is just an atom within a much larger universe, does not contradict the idea of design. The massive (even infinite size) universe did not have to exist, and, instead, the larger it is, the greater potential there is for more layers and levels of design. Indeed, the larger and more complicated the universe (especially if we consider it to be a small part of another universe), the stronger and more forceful the design argument becomes.

Evidence from fine-tuning: Rebuttal to "We wouldn't be here without it"

Some people may want to say that the fact that we are here means that we shouldn’t be surprised about the fact that we are here. However, this is a fallacy, simply observing that, were the universe not so special, we wouldn’t be able to observe it, and saying nothing about the sheer and utter improbability of our existence, and the intricacy of the universe, that strongly points to design. To demonstrate how this objection really says nothing substantial except making the observation that non-existent humans are not able to observe the universe, let’s use an analogy from the philosopher William Lane Craig:

“We can show this by means of a parallel illustration. Imagine you're traveling abroad and are arrested on trumped-up drug charges and dragged in front of a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. You hear the command given: "Ready! Aim! Fire!" and you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 trained marksmen missed! Now what would you conclude? "Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, then I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it! Given that I am here, I should expect them all to miss." Of course not! You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose, that the whole thing was a set-up, engineered for some reason by someone.”
(Source: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5507 )

Design shown in the fabric of physics itself ... in being able to sustain the Earth's processes

Now, we can start to realise how special the physical principles that lie behind the workings of the universe are when we consider the scenario that we can observe on the Earth. Not any set of physical principles and laws would be able to sustain such complex systems: the evidence for such complex and intricate systems on Earth (such as those given below) thus supports the notion of design in the bare principles of physics.

These bare principles of physics cannot 'make themselves' because they would rely on themselves to make themselves, which gives a logical contradiction in requiring them to both exist and not exist at the same time! Hence, they point to a transcendant reality; and, with the complexity that is present, utilising the convenient presence of gravity and the electromagnetics forces, for example, it points to intelligence. Hence, such observations as those given below point to an intelligent, transcendant Mind behind the universe, or, in other words, God.

Rebuttal to Dawkins: God is not complex!

·        One of the attributes that makes sense of God is simplicity:
o       What do we mean by ‘simplicity’?
§    This ‘simplicity’ is not referring to lack of intelligence, or simple thoughts, or lack of power, knowledge, presence or personality.
§    It refers to, in this case, not being, in nature, composite of many physical parts.
§    To demonstrate this, consider two objects: one is a large computer and the other a solid metal ball. Intuitively, the computer would be considered more complex, and it, indeed, is composed of more parts than the solid metal ball.
o       What can we consider God as?
§     “God is spirit …” (John 4:24)
§     God is, by nature, an unembodied mind (since a physical body is not required for a mind), non-physical and not made up of physical parts.
§    God is, therefore, incredibly simple in terms of physical parts. His mental processes are infinitely intricate and He is personal, but, in terms of physical parts, none of which are involved in this thought process, God is very simple.
§    We must be very careful to not confuse complex thoughts with a complex Being, which individuals such as Richard Dawkins have done in the past; simplicity is to do with not being made up of parts, and an unembodied Mind (such as that of God), without the need for a specific, complex physical brain, is hence very simple.
§    This certainly does not prevent God from being omnipresent and transcendent, or from making Himself more complex on top of His simplicity if necessary, or from making a complex universe:
·    God, being omnipotent, is able to limit His own attributes if necessary, such as increasing His own complexity, and has the power and infinite mental capability to do such feats, as shown in Jesus.
·    God, again because of omnipotence, is able to create and work within the universe through patterns of science, and miracles, and in a personal way in peoples’ lives.
§    This idea is not new: the 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas argued powerfully for the simplicity of God.

·    Often, scientific study seeks simple explanations, which can be helpful albeit possibly only giving a partial picture of reality. It isn’t correct to always assume that the most simplest explanation always must be the correct one, and, indeed, assuming this would give us a limited picture of reality.

·    In this sense, God provides the ultimate explanation, with simplicity (having no necessary physical parts) that is beyond that of even the simplest physical law (such as F = ma, which is composed of more than one physical variable) or the simplest proton (which itself is composed of quarks).

A Cosmological argument from Contingency

1.   The reality in which we live is a metaphysically possible universe (that is, it is not contradictory or impossible to actualise) since it exists:
§    It is reasonable to suggest that it could, without implying a logical contradiction or being metaphysically impossible, have been different, with different patterns of physics, number and type of dimensions etc. There are very many (if not infinite) possibilities.
§    There is, therefore, a selection of possible universes which our universe could have been, but has not ended up being. One of them is the case that we see today. See the diagram below:
2.   For a given object or entity or physical ‘law’ or dimension, there are 2 options for its existence:
§    Firstly, it may exist contingently; that is, it does not logically need to exist, and so it is possible for it not to exist. This means that a contingent object does not exist in all the possible realities.
§    Otherwise, it exists necessarily, i.e. because it is metaphysically impossible for it not to exist, it exists in every possible reality, including, of course, our true reality (R).

3.   Now let’s think about a particular contingent object which we can observe to exist within the universe, but doesn’t have to exist in every possible reality:
§    Consider the fairly arbitrary example of a comet in space, orbiting the sun, or of a piece of rock on a beach in Scotland.
§    This object did not have to exist, and, in many cases, had a beginning (and will have a physical end) to its existence.
§    We can then ask, “Why does this object exist, when it could have not existed?”
§    To answer this question (which is a perfectly logical question), we must find an explanation for this contingent object’s existence.
§    This is along the lines of scientific reasoning: scientific observations of the universe involve explanations for phenomena. These include, for example, forces such as gravity, ‘laws’ such as those in thermodynamics, and particles and concepts such as protons, electrons and energy.

4.   This means that objects and phenomena that are contingent (do not have to exist) must have an external explanation (since an internal explanation would make them impossible to not exist and therefore not contingent). Necessary objects are still explainable, but must be explained internally out of the necessity of their own nature, fitting the fact that they cannot metaphysically fail to exist.

5.   This applies to every aspect of physics within our universe (every particle, force, ‘law’ and concept, including ‘chance’ itself):
§    If these exist and have properties, and it would be metaphysically possible for them to not exist in some other possible realities, then they are contingent.
§     A solely physical entity does not have necessary existence, for, in order for it to do so, it must be impossible for it to not exist, existing in all possible realities, which is not the case for any physical ‘law’ or force or matter.
§    It is reasonable to suggest that gravity, for example, although a massively important concept, is not metaphysically forced to exist and there are possible realities where gravity does not exist.
§    Therefore, the physics of the universe are contingent.

6.   As has already been discussed, these contingent entities require external explanations.

7.   The universe is composed of contingent parts and physical concepts (such a spacetime etc.)
§     As per point 5, it therefore itself does not have to exist, making it contingent.
§    This brings up the same question: “Why does anything at all exist, when it could have not existed?”
§    This again requires an explanation:
·     It is reasonable to suggest that an ordered universe, being contingent, does not have to exist in every possible reality: there may be, theoretically, upto an infinite selection of possible realities with no ordered universe whatsoever.
·     An explanation of the existence of any ordered universe at all is therefore extremely important to consider. This is even more the case when we consider that our universe is purposeful, complex and diverse.
·     We should not make the universe an exception from the need for explanation just because we do not want to accept the conclusion. Because it is contingent and does not have to exist, there is no rational basis for doing this.

8.  Taking this into account, how do we actually explain the contingent universe?
§    The explanation must not require the universe to exist (this would be circular reasoning) – hence it must not be obligated to abide to the principles of the universe, but instead be transcendent of physical principles (transcendent of dimensions, time and physical ‘laws’).
§    The explanation, in order to explain the universe without requiring endless other explanations (that would overall explain nothing), must be explainable internally, as a result of its own nature, and hence be necessary. It is not exempt from explanation; instead, the explanation is internal, in its own nature, being a metaphysically necessary Being.
§    The explanation must have spontaneous potential to act and produce a universe, which is not a characteristic of abstract quantities. However, this requirement does fit the idea of an intelligent mind, meaning that the explanation must indeed be an intelligent mind.
§    An intelligent mind means a personal Being

9.   A non-physical, necessary, personal intelligent mind is what God is, explained through His own nature. Therefore, to provide the required explanation of the existence of anything, God is required.





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