Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What is the meaning and purpose of life, the universe and everything?

Here’s the lecture:

(37 minutes)

Topic:

Does life have a purpose? If naturalism is true, what is the purpose of life? If Christianity is true, what is the purpose of life?

Dr. Shenvi’s web site is here. Lots of great articles there on every conceivable topic.

Summary:

  • Dr. Shenvi’s brief testimony and background
  • There is no purpose to the universe and us on naturalism
  • The answer to every why-question on naturalism is chance and necessity (laws)
  • Nothing in the universe has intrinsic / objective value
  • There is no hope on naturalism because of the heat death of the universe: everything dies
  • Nothing that humans do, on naturalism, matters in the long run
  • Given sufficient time, the universe will not even know we were here
  • Famous atheists like Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins agree on this

Purpose on naturalism:

  • Purpose response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up purposes
  • The monopoly in a prison illustration

Meaning on naturalism:

  • Meaning response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up meaning
  • The scrabble vs Shakespeare illustration

Value on naturalism:

  • Value response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up values
  • The subjective opinion vs objective truth illustration

Hope on naturalism:

  • Hope response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up hopes
  • The heat death of the universe ensures that all hopes fail on naturalism

If Christianity is true:

  • The universe and human beings have an objective purpose
  • There is a meaning to life that is objective
  • Human beings have intrinsic value, because God made them and values them
  • There is hope because there is an life after death that extends eternally

Conclusion:

  • This lecture does not argue that Christianity is true because it gives us goodies
  • People should become Christians because Christianity is true
  • Christianity is actually quite difficult because it requires self-denial and self-sacrifice
  • What God has done to help us overcome with our rebellion?

Note that these are not arguments for God’s existence, because he covered that in a previous lecture. And this lecture is not about arguing for Christianity, because he covered that in a previous lecture.

Dr. Shenvi is a research scientist in theoretical chemistry. However, this lecture is not only passionate, but snarky and humorous.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the meaning and purpose of life, the universe and everything?

Here’s the lecture:

(37 minutes)

Topic:

Does life have a purpose? If naturalism is true, what is the purpose of life? If Christianity is true, what is the purpose of life?

Dr. Shenvi’s web site is here. Lots of great articles there on every conceivable topic.

Summary:

  • Dr. Shenvi’s brief testimony and background
  • There is no purpose to the universe and us on naturalism
  • The answer to every why-question on naturalism is chance and necessity (laws)
  • Nothing in the universe has intrinsic / objective value
  • There is no hope on naturalism because of the heat death of the universe: everything dies
  • Nothing that humans do, on naturalism, matters in the long run
  • Given sufficient time, the universe will not even know we were here
  • Famous atheists like Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins agree on this

Purpose on naturalism:

  • Purpose response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up purposes
  • The monopoly in a prison illustration

Meaning on naturalism:

  • Meaning response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up meaning
  • The scrabble vs Shakespeare illustration

Value on naturalism:

  • Value response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up values
  • The subjective opinion vs objective truth illustration

Hope on naturalism:

  • Hope response: we can invent our own arbitrary made-up hopes
  • The heat death of the universe ensures that all hopes fail on naturalism

If Christianity is true:

  • The universe and human beings have an objective purpose
  • There is a meaning to life that is objective
  • Human beings have intrinsic value, because God made them and values them
  • There is hope because there is an life after death that extends eternally

Conclusion:

  • This lecture does not argue that Christianity is true because it gives us goodies
  • People should become Christians because Christianity is true
  • Christianity is actually quite difficult because it requires self-denial and self-sacrifice
  • What God has done to help us overcome with our rebellion?

Note that these are not arguments for God’s existence, because he covered that in a previous lecture. And this lecture is not about arguing for Christianity, because he covered that in a previous lecture.

Dr. Shenvi is a research scientist in theoretical chemistry. However, this lecture is not only passionate, but snarky and humorous.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How should Michele Bachmann answer the evolution vs intelligent design question?

From ID proponents Jay Richards and David Klinghoffer. (H/T Stephen C. Meyer)

Excerpt:

Rep. Michele Bachmann is the latest to get pulled to the side of the road, lights flashing in her rear-view mirror. Talking with reporters in New Orleans following last week’s Republican Leadership Conference, she said “I support intelligent design,” referring to the theory that nature gives scientific evidence of purpose and design.

She continued: “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of a scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

Government neutrality would be welcome, as Bachmann rightly notes. But unfortunately the candidate’s statement generated headlines (“Bachmann: Schools should teach intelligent design,” as CNN.com summarized) that made her sound like she was ready to go a lot further than the intelligent design (ID) movement, which merely advocates that Darwinian theory’s weaknesses be taught along with its strengths. Allowing teachers to discuss ID in class would be much more appropriate and advisable than requiring them to do so.

[...]Fortunately, there’s an easy way to answer that takes account of the dilemma. Asked about evolution, here’s what Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, or Chris Christie could have said:

“Life has a very long history and things change over time. However, I don’t think living creatures are nothing but the product of a purposeless Darwinian process. I support teaching all about evolution, including the scientific evidence offered against it.”

Dogmatic neo-Darwinians won’t like that answer (they admit of no scientific arguments against their theory, unlike in any other area of scientific inquiry). But some other scientists will be fine with it, and, according to  Zogby polling data, so will the 80 percent of Americans who favor allowing students and teachers to discuss evolutionary theory’s strengths and weaknesses.

Such a formulation, true to the scientific evidence and to the Constitution, would also be devilishly hard for rival candidates to disagree with. Campaign staff and advisors would do well to commit something like it to memory.

I actually thought Michele’s answer was fine, but the suggested answer is better. If Michele Bachmann is picking a science adviser, either Stephen C. Meyer or Jay Richards would be a good choice. Pick someone with experience.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Video of evolutionist P.Z. Myers responding to a skeptical student

David Klinghoffer writes about Jonathan M.’s encounter with P.Z. Myers, an arrogant Darwinian blowhard.

Excerpt:

Is this how they educate young people at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota? Touring Scotland, atheist biologist and blogger P.Z. Myers spoke to the local “skeptics” society in Glasgow. After the talk in the Q&A, which you can and should watch here starting at 3:44, a young man questioned Myers on homology and the evolution of developmental pathways, to which the biologist responded with a string of angry abuse:

Aren’t you a little bit ashamed to have been responsible for this bulls–t? So you have no sense of shame that you’ve concocted this series of questions that are built on ignorance. What you’ve done is classic creationism. You’ve thrown about a dozen different things at me in one question. Could you possibly be lucid enough to distill it down to one question?The young man, who writes here under the pen name Jonathan M. and is fresh out of college on his way to grad school, goes ahead and does so. This is all going on amid jeers and attempts from the audience to shout Jonathan down. Myers responds by misconstruing the question — making out as if Jonathan was arguing about recapitulation, which he wasn’t — meanwhile offering further abuse:

The first answer is simply that the question is bulls–t. This isn’t a real question. You should be ashamed. This is disgraceful.Let’s say you had no opinion on evolution and no background in evolutionary developmental biology but were simply presented with a video of this exchange. What would it tell you about the character of the individuals involved and the respective strength of their positions?

The exchange is between an older man, heavy and bearded, hardly a distinguished scholar but a professor nonetheless who’s a popular writer on atheism and science, speaking before an adoring audience at a Glasgow pub; and on the other hand, a physically slight young man setting out to embark on his own professional training in the same field. The young man is earnest and nervous. He talks a little too fast and seems unaccustomed to public jousting. The older man, on being challenged, is bullying, abusive, and personally insulting.

Is this the way an educator behaves when he’s got the truth on his side? As the exchange proceeds and the young man tries to formulate responses despite continuing jeers and shouts from a crowd of other bullies all around him, you can just feel the poor guy’s heart galloping in his chest. In his place, that’s how I would feel.

Yet putting feelings aside and considering it as a specimen of scientific discussion, the interchange is telling. When Jonathan references a sheaf of peer-reviewed research papers he has brought with him, Myers mocks him for it. Presumably, if he offered no documentation, he would have been mocked for that too. When Jonathan fully articulates his challenge, Myers ridicules him for going on too long. When Jonathan compresses it to a sentence, Myers mule-headedly misrepresents what Jonathan is asking. In his prodigious written posts here, including a recent response to P.Z. Myers, Jonathan has already amply demonstrated that, despite his youth, he is impressively on top of his subject matter.

Again, does this sound like the professor has science on his side? To me, it sounds like a secular version of the old stereotype of the domineering, oppressive religious-school teacher who tolerated no questioning and gave faith a bad name.

Worth reading. This alone should make people skeptical about fully naturalistic evolution. Micro-evolution has been observed. Can it be extrapolated to macro-evolution? Apparently, you will be abused and insulted if you even ask the question.

Jonathan has a timeline for his interaction with P.Z. Myers posted here. It links to all the posts.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lee Strobel interviews Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) on the state of apologetics

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

From Bible Gateway, an interview by Lee Strobel featuring Brian Auten, webmaster of Apologetics 315.

Intro:

As creator of the best website for resources to defend Christianity, Brian Auten offers a unique perspective on the current apologetics scene—the good, the bad, and the hopeful.

Apologetics 315 features a terrific compilation of material for Christians to equip themselves to better define and defend the faith. It’s full of links to resources dealing with every imaginable area of apologetics. As a regular reader of the site, I became curious what its creator, Brian Auten, thinks about the current state of apologetics around the world—and he was willing to share his insights by answering a few questions.

Excerpt:

• What trends do you see in apologetics?

Consider books like The DaVinci Code, writings by agnostic professor Bart Ehrman, or the various publications of the so-called New Atheists. All these attacks on Christianity have generated a lot of buzz. However, each of these attacks has been met with a strong counter-response from scholars, theologians, and apologists. Christianity hasn’t been defeated. Instead, it has weathered storm after storm. In the meantime, the resources available that answer these challenges have increased dramatically. Over and over again, what has been intended to bring Christianity down has only served to strengthen it.

But the tendency is this: too many times Christians are only responding to the challenges. That seems to be the trend. Why are we not running to the battle? Instead of just reacting to the next challenge, I long for the day when more and more Christians would equip themselves with this vast armory of resources and use it to take the battle to the enemy’s camp, so to speak. Apologetic-savvy educators, scientists, public officials, businessmen, actors, novelists, movie-makers—all people with a heart of evangelism who are able to defend and contend for the faith in the public square could have an immense impact for the Gospel.

And more:

• You’re passionate about churches starting apologetics ministries. Are you seeing more of them doing this?

I want to see churches start their own apologetics ministries because it is our scriptural mandate to “always be prepared to give an answer.” Yet there often is very little preparation going on! When challenges to faith come, people struggle to find substantive answers. This may cause some believers to resort to a sort of “believe it anyway” mentality; for others it causes them to abandon the faith altogether.

Research by the Barna Group has shown that a majority of young people walk away from the faith around the time they go to college or university. They simply have not been equipped to deal with the secular challenges that come against their faith when they go to college. But what if they had been properly equipped to understand and answer these sorts of challenges? They would not only be able to stand up under the attacks, but they would also be able to share Christ with more confidence, knowing that they have good reasons undergirding their faith.

So I think it’s so crucial that our churches become training grounds where believers learn why they believe what they believe. Apologetics ministries and small group studies provide a venue for discipleship where people can work through the tough questions that they constantly face from the secular world. And what’s more, our faith is enriched to even deeper levels when we experience the joy of loving God with our minds.

Thankfully, I think we are seeing a rise in the number of churches that both see this need and are beginning to equip their congregations through apologetic teaching, small groups, conferences, and resources.

Read the whole thing. Tweet it, share it. Think about it!

There’s a great list of scholars and ministries in there as well. If you guys want to know what you should be reading to prepare your defense of theism and Christianity, leave a comment with your intended audience, and I will suggest some resources. I may even BUY YOU the resource, if you are a budding apologist who is conservative on economics and politics and foreign policy. Yes, I do that a lot on this blog – mailed out a dozen books this month already to people. Get to know me, I can help you to defend your faith.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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