Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

J.P. Moreland lectures on “Love Your God With All Your Mind”

Dr. J.P. Moreland

Dr. J.P. Moreland

If I had to pick a few lectures that really changed my life, then this lecture by J.P. Moreland would definitely be on that list.

The MP3 file.

Topics:

  • How J.P. Moreland become a Christian
  • How evangelism drove his efforts to answer skeptics
  • How can evangelicals be so numerous, and yet have so little influence?
  • When did the church stop being able to out-think her critics?
  • How studying and thinking can be a way of worshiping God
  • Romans 12:1-2 – what does this passage mean?
  • Are your beliefs under the control of your will?
  • Can you “try” to believe something by an act of will?
  • If not, then how can you change your beliefs?
  • Changing your mind is the only way to change your life
  • Matthew 22:37 – what is this passage saying?
  • How can you love God by using your intellect?
  • How can you defend God’s honor, when it is called into question?
  • In a debate, should you quote sources that your opponent doesn’t accept?
  • Should you only study the Bible, or should you study rival worldviews?
  • 1 Pet 3:15 – what does this passage mean?
  • If you knew you were going to be in a debate, what should you do?
  • How can you be bold in witnessing? Where does boldness come from?
  • What should the church do to make bold evangelists?
  • 2 Cor 10:5 – what is this passage talking about?
  • The passage talks about destroying fortresses – what are the fortresses?
  • List of some of the speculations that we are supposed to be destroying
  • What does the phrase “spiritual warfare” really mean?

And here is a longer version of the same lecture (MP3) presented to an audience of university students and faculty.

By the way, the title of his lecture comes from a book that he wrote, which is now in its second edition.

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J.P. Moreland asks: does truth matter when choosing a religion?

Dr. J.P. Moreland

Dr. J.P. Moreland

This lecture contains Moreland’s famous “Wonmug” illustration. Ah, memories! If you don’t know who Wonmug is, you can find out in this lecture.

The MP3 file is here.

Topics:

  • Is it intolerant to think that one religion is true?
  • Is it more important to be loving and accepting of people regardless of worldview?
  • How should Christians approach the question of religious pluralism?
  • How does a person choose a religion anyway?
  • Who is Wonmug, and would you like to be like Wonmug?
  • Is it enough that a belief “works for you”, or do you want to believe the truth?
  • Can all the religions in the world be true?
  • Is it wise to pick and choose what you like from all the different religions?
  • Is it possible to investigate which religion is true? How?
  • Which religions are testable for being true or false?
  • How you can test Christianity historically (very brief)

This is the most fun lecture to listen to, you should listen to it, if you like fun.

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

J. Warner Wallace: six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds

(Podcast uploaded, with permission, by ReligioPolitical Talk)

This podcast is a must-listen. Please take the time to download this podcast and listen to it. I guarantee that you will love this podcast. I even recommended it to my Dad and I almost never do that.

Details:

In this podcast, J. Warner examines the evidence for the existence of the mind (and inferentially, the soul) as he looks at six classic philosophical arguments. Jim also briefly discusses Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos and discusses the limitations of physicalism.

The MP3 file is here. (67 MB, 72 minutes)

Topics:

  • Atheist Thomas Nagel’s latest book “Mind and Cosmos” makes the case that materialism cannot account for the evidence of mental phenomena
  • Nagel writes in this recent New York Times article that materialism cannot account for the reality of consciousness, meaning, intention and purpose
  • Quote from the Nagel article:

Even though the theistic outlook, in some versions, is consistent with the available scientific evidence, I don’t believe it, and am drawn instead to a naturalistic, though non-materialist, alternative. Mind, I suspect, is not an inexplicable accident or a divine and anomalous gift but a basic aspect of nature that we will not understand until we transcend the built-in limits of contemporary scientific orthodoxy.

  • When looking at this question, it’s important to not have our conclusions pre-determined by presupposing materialism or atheism
  • If your mind/soul doesn’t exist and you are a purely physical being then that is a defeater for Christianity, so we need to respond
  • Traditionally, Christians have been committed to a view of human nature called “dualism” – human beings are souls who have bodies
  • The best way* to argue for the existence of the soul is using philosophical arguments

The case:

  • The law of identity says that if A = B’ if A and B have the exact same properties
  • If A = the mind and B = the brain, then is A identical to B?
  • Wallace will present 6 arguments to show that A is not identical to B because they have different properties

Not everyone of the arguments below might make sense to you, but you will probably find one or two that strike you as correct. Some of the points are more illustrative than persuasive, like #2. However, I do find #3, #5 and #6 persuasive.

1) First-person access to mental properties

  • Thought experiment: Imagine your dream car, and picture it clearly in your mind
  • If we invited an artist to come and sketch out your dream car, then we could see your dream car’s shape on paper
  • This concept of your dream car is not something that people can see by looking at your brain structure
  • Physical properties can be physically accessed, but the properties of your dream care and privately accessed

2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies

  • Common sense notion of personhood is that we own our bodies, but we are not our bodies

3) Persistent self-identity through time

  • Thought experiment: replacing a new car with an old car one piece at a time
  • When you change even the smallest part of a physical object, it changes the identity of that object
  • Similarly, your body is undergoing changes constantly over time
  • Every cell in your body is different from the body you had 10 years ago
  • Even your brain cells undergo changes (see this from New Scientist – WK)
  • If you are the same person you were 10 years ago, then you are not your physical body

4) Mental properties cannot be measured like physical objects

  • Physical objects can be measured (e.g. – use physical measurements to measure weight, size, etc.)
  • Mental properties cannot be measured

5) Intentionality or About-ness

  • Mental entities can refer to realities that are physical, something outside of themselves
  • A tree is not about anything, it just is a physical object
  • But you can have thoughts about the tree out there in the garden that needs water

6) Free will and personal responsibility

  • If humans are purely physical, then all our actions are determined by sensory inputs and genetic programming
  • Biological determinism is not compatible with free will, and free will is required for personal responsibility
  • Our experience of moral choices and moral responsibility requires free will, and free will requires minds/souls

He spends the last 10 minutes of the podcast responding to naturalistic objections to the mind/soul hypothesis.

*Now in the podcast, Wallace does say that scientific evidence is not the best kind of evidence to use when discussing this issue of body/soul and mind/brain. But I did blog yesterday about two pieces of evidence that I think are relevant to this discussion: corroborated near-death experiences and mental effort.

You might remember that Dr. Craig brought up the issue of substance dualism, and the argument from intentionality (“aboutness”), in his debate with the naturalist philosopher Alex Rosenberg, so this argument about dualism is battle-ready. You can add it to your list of arguments for Christian theism along with all the other arguments like the Big Bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, stellar habitability, galactic habitability, irreducible complexity, molecular machines, the Cambrian explosion, the moral argument, the resurrection, biological convergence, and so on.

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

Douglas Groothuis lectures on the kalam cosmological argument

I watched the lecture above and it was excellent and comprehensive. He even talked about J.P. Moreland, Alan Padgett and other scholars. There were some things I had heard before, and some things that were new. He covered a lot of books that I had to read when I was sorting all of this stuff out, too.

Here’s the description from the video:

Doug Groothuis gives a lecture on the Kalam Cosmological Argument. What’s interesting about this lecture is that Groothuis did not accept the Kalam Cosmological Argument at first but was later convinced by it.

Notes:

http://www.relyonchrist.com/Lecture/13.htm
http://www.relyonchrist.com/Lecture/14.htm

Kalam Cosmological Argument

(Moreland, Scaling the Secular City; see also William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith [Crossway, 1994]; Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation from Nothing [Baker, 2004]; William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist [Oxford, 2004])

Preliminary: concepts of (a) the actual infinite and (b) the potential infinite

1. The universe had a beginning
2. The impossibility of the actual infinite (distinguish from potential infinite)
3. The impossibility of traversing an actual infinite (even if it exists); forming an actual infinite through successive addition, piece by piece…
4. Scientific confirmation from Big Bang cosmology (absolute origination). See also John Jefferson Davis, “Genesis 1:1 and Big Bang Cosmology,” in The Frontiers of Science and Faith (InterVarsity, 2002), 11 — 36; and Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (revised ed., 1992).
5. Scientific confirmation from second law of thermodynamics.
6. Astronomer Fred Hoyle (who once advanced the steady state cosmology) argues against the universe being infinitely old in virtue of its hydrogen consumption. The argument can be stated as a modus tolens deduction (denying the consequent).
7. Can everything come from nothing without a cause? The “pop theory” (biting the metaphysical bullet)
8. Philosophical critique of everything from nothing…
9. God and time (see Greg Gansell, editor, God and Time: Four Views [InterVarsity, 2001])
10. Argument against an impersonal cause
11. Argument against God needing a cause (Bertrand Russell)
12. Quentin Smith’s acceptance of Big Bang cosmology and denial of God’s existence.
13. Unitary: Ockham’s razor
14. Incorrigible, inextinguishable (having existed, God cannot fail to exist)
15. Personal, volitional (“personal explanation”—R. Swinburne)
16. Omnipotent: nothing is a greater expenditure of power than exnihilating the entire cosmos. This is rational to hold, given the argument.
17. Supplies the necessary conditions for impeccable and omnipotent goodness: (1) – (4). Need (5) moral argument and (6) the Incarnation for the final necessary condition, which, with (1) – (4), make for necessary and sufficient conditions.

What I liked about this lecture is that it kept my attention all the way through. It was very fun to listen to, because he considers a ton of alternative views and explains his view, which doesn’t agree with Bill Craig all the way. There is a 17 minute Q&A period at the end.

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

Tonight: Stand to Reason’s 20th anniversary conference will be live-streamed

From the Biola Apologetics Events page. Note that all of the times below are Pacific Time zone.

Description:

Join us as we celebrate 20 years of Stand to Reason and clear thinking Christianity. The event kicks off Friday night with stimulating apologetics lectures and a celebration! Join us for the full conference on Saturday featuring lectures from the Stand to Reason speakers and friends. Can’t make it to Biola? This event will be available via live stream online.

Conference Schedule:

Friday Night, May 10 (7:00 – 9:30 pm)

6:15 pm – Doors Opens
7:00 – 8:05 pm – Lectures from J.P. Moreland, Sean McDowell, Mary Jo Sharp, and Craig Hazen
8:05 – 8:25 pm – Break
8:15 – 9:30 pm – Panel featuring Stand to Reason’s Speakers Greg Koukl, Brett Kunkle, Alan Shlemon, and J. Warner Wallace
9:30 pm – Cake & Book Signing in the Courtyard

Saturday, May 11 (9:00 am – 12:30 pm)

8:00 am – Registration Opens
8:30 am – Doors Opens
9:00 – 9:50 am – Session 1: “Who’s Waiting for Your Kids?”
Lecture by Stand to Reason’s Brett Kunkle
9:50 – 10:00 am – Break
10:00 – 10:40 am – Session 2: “Compromise Is Not an Option”
Lecture by Stand to Reason’s Alan Shlemon
10:40 – 10:50 am – Break
10:50 – 11:30 am – Session 3: “Cold-case Christianity”
Lecture by Stand to Reason’s J. Warner Wallace
11:30 – 11:40 am – Break
11:40 am – 12:30 pm – Session 4: “Still Standing”
Lecture by Stand to Reason’s Greg Koukl

Conference Location:

Sutherland Auditorium
Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639
View Map

If you are in the South California area, you can attend in person. Otherwise, you can watch it online.

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