Monday’s Biggest Issue: Are These The Five Best Natural Arguments for God?

Talk to enough people over many years and you begin to get a sense of what are the most persuasive arguments for the majority of people who are either just doubtful about whether God exists or who are outright skeptics.

Over at Reasons to Believe, Hugh Ross points to these five in his long experience:

* Origin of space, time, matter, and energy
* Origin of life
* Human exceptionalism
* Fine-tuning of the universe, Earth, and Earth’s life to make possible the existence and redemption of billions of humans
* Genesis 1’s predictive power to accurately describe, in chronological order, key events in Earth’s history leading to humans

At first glance, I was a bit taken aback by the reference to Genesis 1 as a natural argument. But here’s how Ross explains it:

“Genesis 1: Genesis 1:2 establishes the frame of reference for the six-day creation account as the surface of Earth’s waters, and it describes four initial conditions: ubiquitous darkness and water on Earth’s surface, no life, and unfit conditions for life.

“On day 1, Earth’s atmosphere becomes translucent (“let there be light”). On day 4, the atmosphere becomes transparent (“let there be lights in the expanse of the sky”). The Hebrew word for day, yom, has four literal definitions, one of which is a long, finite time period.

“That day 7 is not closed out by an “evening and morning” implies that the creation days are consecutive long time periods. Thus, Genesis 1 accurately predicted both the description, timing, and order of the events of creation. Resource: Navigating Genesis

Knowing that there are among HillFaith’s growing legion of readers both believers and skeptics, I’d be interested to hear responses from both camps. I think number 3 is especially persuasive. What think you?

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com

Does Faith or Science Best Explain Morality?

That question in the headline above captures at many levels the essential debate that defines the post-modern era, especially as it relates to a host of social and other issues that regularly confront congressional aides, their bosses and the journalists that cover them.

There is an incredible wealth of material available now on the Internet on both sides of the question, but a debate hosted at Stony Brooke University by New York Apologetics in 2015 may be the most enjoyable, intellectually engaging and comprehensive presentation yet.

It’s a long program, so be prepared to do a lot of listening, thinking and learning from both men at the podium, Dr. Frank Turek of Cross-examined.org and Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine. Would that all public policy debates were as civil, enlightening and educational as this one:


 

Here’s The Impossible Task For Atheists

Logic in many respects is the point where the debate between Christian and atheist advocates reaches the decisive questions each must confront: How does something come from nothing if God doesn’t exist and how can either’s answer be demonstrated?

I’m a journalist by training, not a philosopher and certainly not a mathematician, so I claim no such authority in this discussion. Being a journalist of an investigative bent and a man who has experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ, however, I love engaging in civil discussion with others about these ultimate issues.

And I will be sharing regularly here on HillFaith quotes, references, links to, excerpts and analyses by people, believers and non-believers, who I find have something worthwhile to contribute to our discussion.

My friend Chris Shannon posted this lengthy excerpt from Christian philosopher and theologian J.P. Moreland addressing the decisive questions posed above:

“…you can’t get something from nothing…It’s as simple as that.  If there were no God, then the history of the entire universe, up until the appearance of living creatures, would be a history of dead matter with no consciousness.
“You would not have any thoughts, beliefs, feelings, sensations, free actions, choices, or purposes. There would be simply one physical event after another physical event, behaving according to the laws of physics and chemistry …
“How then, do you get something totally different- conscious, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures- from materials that don’t have that?  That’s getting something from nothing!  And that’s the main problem …
“However … if you begin with an infinite mind, then you can explain how finite minds could come into existence.  That makes sense.  What doesn’t make sense — and which many atheistic evolutionists are conceding — is the idea of getting a mind to squirt into existence by starting with brute, dead, mindless matter.”

This quote is from Lee Strobel’s interview with Moreland, who is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, can be found in its entirety in Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Creator.”  Strobel is a former journalist, so, yes, I am perhaps a bit partial to him!

And after you consume Moreland above, go to BigThink for an alternative approach to the question.

Now, Moreland has set the table for what should be a helpful discussion for all concerned with things like knowledge, truth and logic. Let it begin! And by the way, if you work on the Hill, where you come out on these matters has a great to deal to do with how you resolve many of the seemingly mundane daily issues with which you deal.

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com

So What If Jesus Isn’t A Myth Like Santa Claus And The Easter Bunny?

Let’s stipulate — just for the purposes of honest discussion and open inquiry — that Jesus is not like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or Thor or … you get the drift. And if you are wondering why you should stipulate here, check this out:

By the way, the above illustration was produced by the Impact 360 Institute, a group of really sharp people who absolutely love training in intellectual discourse. I found it on The Poached Egg, a web site you just might find endlessly stimulating, challenging or upsetting (in the good sense of making you re-think your assumptions).

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com

 

Jesus Didn’t Say He’s The Only Way?

Actually, He did say that, many times. So many times that it amazes me whenever somebody tells me — as I often hear — something along the lines of “But Jesus never claimed to be the only way to get to Heaven.”

I’m often tempted upon hearing those words to ask if He didn’t, why on Earth did He allow Himself to be nailed to a cross and left to die the most horrible of deaths? But that’s a topic for another post and another day.

Now, back to the question raised in the headline to this post!

Stand To Reason’s Alan Shlemon offers some quick thoughts by way of scripture and a recommendation for a useful compilation of more than 100 instances where Jesus made clear His claim to be the unique way to spend eternity in Heaven.

The verses Shlemon cites will be familiar to most anybody who has even lightly considered Jesus’s claims for Himself. There is John 14:6 where He says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Then there is Matthew 28:18-20 where He makes what is, a reasonable person will realize upon honest assessment, an amazing, comprehensive claim:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The compilation Shlemon suggests is by his colleague in Christian apologetics, Greg Koukl, called “Jesus, The Only Way.” There are 100 such verses and anybody who has pondered the question of their eternal destiny would profit from shelling out all of $2 to get their hands on Koukl’s little book.

Now, I offer one additional thought on this issue: Before this issue can be settled, it is first essential that the question of whether or not Jesus was resurrected on the third day after He was crucified be addressed.

Here’s why: If He was resurrected, everything He said about Himself must be true. If He wasn’t, then Christians who like me believe He was are in Paul’s words at I Corinthians 15: 17-19, “of all people most to be pitied” and our “faith is in vain” because we have gambled our eternal destiny on a myth, or worse, a liar or lunatic (HT: Josh McDowell).

Bottom line, then, is this: The truth or falsehood of the Resurrection is the key to the answer to every question you could ever have about Christ, including especially the one that prompted this post. And because all of your questions about Him are of crucial importance, you do well to start with the Resurrection.

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com

Should Christians Be In Politics?

People from all over the country come to Capitol Hill to work, and many of them come from faith backgrounds that span the spectrum from evangelical Christian all the way over to the party animals in the First Church of the What’s Happenin’ Now, Baby.

A recurring question is what is the proper role of Christians — and of their faith in shaping their decisions and actions — in politics. The controversy currently surrounding the possibility President Donald Trump will nominate Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court brings the issue to a sharp point.

Barrett is a dedicated Catholic who is active in a charismatic group. Does that disqualify her from being on the Supreme Court? Does being active in public life require a believer to leave his or her faith at home?

Apologist Frank Turek deals with the question frequently and offers some arresting thoughts on how to answer it faithfully:

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com

What Is HillFaith and Why Should You Care?

If you work on Capitol Hill, you and I likely have a great deal in common. You, like me, love this country and want to make it better. You are passionate about politics, the campaign trail and the legislative process. You worry about the future, of America and of you and your loved ones. You probably grew up somewhere else, most likely out there in “Flyover Country.”

Doesn’t matter which political party you identify with or where on Capitol Hill you spend your workdays. Your hours are long and odds are good you could be making more money working somewhere else (maybe a whole lot more if you’ve been here for a few years). But you get to rub elbows with many of America’s most important and best-known leaders, and your work affords endless opportunities to meet and work with interesting and amazingly smart, skilled people. Money can’t buy the satisfaction that can come with that, right?

Fact is, for better or worse, the Hill is the center of your world. Maybe not tomorrow, but for now, most of your friends also work here, including people you socialize with, enter into (and out of!) romantic relationships, and compete with to grab that next rung up the success ladder. Many of them you like, some of them you can’t stand, and a few of them will probably be your friends for life. You see traits in some of them you admire and in others things that either make little sense to you or that you would never want to characterize you.

But Are You Happy?

You tell yourself and others you are. As happy as you think you should be or want to be or thought you would be by now? I know the feeling. My first four years here were spent on the Hill, initially on the House side as a press secretary, then as a chief of staff and finally as communications director for a senator. It was dazzling, exhilarating even; the powerful men and women, the receptions with the free food and booze, making a difference on important issues, growing in influence, position and importance.

Or so I thought. When I left the Hill for an executive branch political appointment, there was something not quite right. I kept telling myself I was happy, but in my most sober, reflective moments, I knew better. In the years ahead, I “fixed” it with better jobs, starting a different career, divorce and remarriage, even fulfilling a childhood dream (becoming a race car driver, running a Formula Ford for three years at Summit Point).

On the outside, I looked like a success. On the inside, no way.  Eventually, it all came apart and my world was shattered. Sobriety and humility are wonderful and I’ve been blessed in the decades since with a wonderful wife and family, a career that I absolutely love, a deepening awareness of life-changing facts about history, faith, science, people and living, and, most important, a growing relationship with the Lord who created us and indeed the whole universe.

Here’s “The Ask”

Maybe you’d like to know more about how this happened for me and consider whether it’s something you’d like for yourself. Don’t worry, it’ll just be friendly conversation, no judgements, no preaching, just two people talking about how to make it on the Hill and everywhere else. Let’s meet for half an hour (or more, or less, if you like) for coffee. Senate or House side. Tell me what works for you. God bless.

Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at mark.tapscott@gmail.com