Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Review of October Baby, a pro-life movie opening today

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s a review from Jay Watts of the Life Training Institute, my favorite pro-life organization.

Excerpt:

This past weekend I was privileged to see an advanced screening of October Baby. You can read the promotional material for the film here.

October Baby tells the story of young woman – Hannah, played by Rachel Hendrix – who finds out that there is an explanation for her lifetime severe physical and emotional struggles. She was adopted by her parents after she survived a botched abortion. With the help of her best friend – Jason played by Jason Burkey- they set out on a road trip to search out her birth mother and the full story of Hannah’s past.

Whatever concerns I had about the quality of the film I was screening were quickly allayed.October Baby is not an amateur production. The filmmakers, Andrew and Jon Erwin, understand how to make a movie. Anytime you watch an independent film you know that the producers sacrifice some elements of larger productions – usually film quality and acting – in order to tell a more personal and intimate story. The Erwin’s seem to understand the limits of a production at this level and use their unusual skill to mitigate the weaker elements of small films, or – more simply put – they shot an independent film that looks great.

My only concern about movies about abortion is that they will bash the men and make the women out to be innocent victims. I did a little digging and it seems to be that this movie does not do that. I’m not sure, but I think it takes a subtle shot at feminism – something I read seemed to indicate that.

It’s endorsed by Fathers.comThis interview with the actor who plays the adoptive father says this:

NCF: The character you play, the father in this film, has his own journey through the film. Describe his journey and maybe what you saw as some of the mistakes he made and some of the things he did right and some of the things he learned through this journey that’s portrayed in the film.

JS: Well, my guy, he did a very right thing when his wife and he lost their twins, miscarried their twins, when his wife came to him and said, “There are twins up for adoption that would have been born around the same time our twins would have been born.” Obviously he supported that and they went and adopted these two little babies even though one of them was horrifically disfigured and not likely to make it out of the hospital—and the other one had health issues as well. So this is a guy who supported his wife’s desire to have twins, he supported her faith that there was a reason why she was made aware of these twins. So, he did that right.

The only thing as far as I can see … there’s a wonderful line of dialogue in there where the daughter says, “Why didn’t you tell me?” And basically, without saying this exact line, he said that, “I was always going to, but life kind of got away from us. We were working and …” he was at that point trying to become a doctor, he was going to school, and they had financial trouble, and it just kind of got away from him. It didn’t slip his mind, but the perfect time to have that conversation never really appeared. So he had to do it under duress. He had to do it in a doctor’s office when she was wondering why she was always so sick. So if he did anything wrong, that was it. Because he’s very protective of his daughter with her friend….

I love that about the movie too—the platonic, wonderful, buddy relationship between my daughter and her pal in his movie is so real. And as a movie-goer, you think, Okay these two have got to get together somehow. But it just is so wonderfully real. So my character, the dad in this movie, does a great job, I think, of protecting her against a teenage boy’s stupidity [laughs] … his judgment, from an eighteen-year-old boy’s perspective.

And I’ve said this to my kids many times. I haven’t said it recently, but … “One of the biggest differences between me and you is that I’ve been seventeen, and you have not been fifty. So your perspective is very narrow, very short. It is your perspective, and I’m not going to discount it, but my job as a dad is … if I’ve sat on a stove that you’re about to hike your butt up onto, my responsibility is to let you know it’s hot. I’m not going to keep you from sitting on it, but I’m going to let you know that it’s going to hurt when you do.” I think there’s that in this film as well, and I like that.

As far as what he learns, I think he learns in this movie that the resiliency of a seventeen-year-old girl is more than he thought, that a young person can actually handle more emotional information, more potentially hurtful information than you think they can. So there’s that wonderful scene where he tells her the whole thing about her brother, and it’s so moving. He’s a dad, and it pains fathers when their children go through that “Dad is an idiot” stage. It really pains them. It’s not just confusing, it’s hurtful. But the good news, dad, is that it does have a shelf life. They do love their dads through all that stuff too, they just don’t let you know it. But later on they do. I used to tell friends of mine, “Don’t worry. They turn back into people just as magically as they turned into aliens.”

I think it’s safe for us men to watch this – we won’t be blamed and bashed. The father character is strong and good. I have seen the trailer posted on men’s rights blogs AND pro-life blogs, so it looks like it’s worth a shot.

Please post comments below if you go see the movie.

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“Act of Valor” war movie takes first place at the box office this weekend!

The Los Angeles Times explains what happened.

Excerpt:

As Hollywood’s A-listers prepare for the Academy Awards on Sunday, it was the Navy SEAL stars of the movie “Act of Valor” who dominated the box office.

The intense action movie opened to a solid $24.7 million, according to an estimate from distributor Relativity Media, proving by far the most popular choice for audiences.

“Good Deeds,” the latest movie from writer/director Tyler Perry, opened to $16 million. It’s the second-smallest opening ever for the prolific filmmaker and actor, ahead of only 2007’s “Daddy’s Little Girls.”

“Wanderlust,” a new Judd Apatow-produced comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, and the thriller “Gone” starring Amanda Seyfried were both flops, opening to just $6.6 million and $5 million, respectively.

[...]“Act of Valor,” which has won plaudits for its ultra-realistic action sequences that feature the SEAL stars in training exercises, was a big bet for Relativity. The financially struggling independent studio topped other bidders by paying $13.5 million for rights to the movie produced by production company Bandito Brothers. It also committed tens of millions of dollars to an extensive marketing campaign that included four ads in and around the Super Bowl and online material targeting video game players.

But the investment appears to be paying off, as box-office receipts came in at the high end of pre-release expectations. Just as important, audiences loved the film, giving it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That was not only true for men, who made up 71% of the audiences, but women.

Here’s the “making of” clip showing how they made it:

Not only were the SEALs in this movie, they helped direct the action sequences!

Here’s a review from the liberal Boston Globe.

Excerpt:

The casting in “Act of Valor,’’ of course, leads to the movie’s innovations. Dialogue that chiefly entails laying out tactics for missions executed in the next scene pretty much obviates any need for Kenneth Branagh. Having the military play itself is propaganda on one hand, and simple efficiency on the other. It also concentrates the movie-going public’s attraction to combat as spectacle. So why bother with a star if what we’ve come to see, ultimately, are the talents of the stunt crew?

As it happens, “Act of Valor’’ was directed by Mike “Mouse’’ McCoy and Scott Waugh, a couple of veteran stuntmen, who don’t simply admire the SEALs’ defiance of death. They appear to relate to it. Written by Kurt Johnstad, who’s a credited writer of “300,’’ the film involves a typical doomsday plot that manages to combine separate international affronts. A SEAL platoon heads into the tropics to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) who’s been tracking the connection between a Ukrainian drug smuggler (Alex Veadov) and a mass-murdering Chechen jihadist (Jason Cottle), whose bond is tighter than initially suspected.

[...]Accordingly, there is beauty in this movie that you’d never experience in any film starring Chuck Norris or Michael Dudikoff. The sound mix keeps suspenseful quiet, while you marvel at what perfect amphibians the SEALs are and how, with them, killing people places a crucial premium on gentleness (the SEALs tiptoeing down a hallway, stirring the air with hand signals, tapping a shoulder, or falling through the night sky). If only the frantic editing had managed to linger longer on the dreaminess of those shots.

[...]Really, the film’s presiding spirit of American might and international intimidation is that of Tom Clancy. He’s credited as an advisor on this film, and his influence shows up from time to time. A scene between a SEAL and the smuggler is among the best in the movie. The two men trade insinuations, and the tension is strong. Veadov is a better actor than the SEAL. But this SEAL, with his graying beard and wry sense of humor, has better lines. A sharply done encounter like that implies just what Clancy may have advised.

The SEALs’ profile is higher since a team killed Osama Bin Laden last year. There hasn’t been this much popular interest since Demi Moore fought to join a similar outfit in “G.I. Jane.’’ “Act of Valor’’ creates an illusion of authenticity while doing strategically little to dispel the group’s mystique. Often with an action film, you know that what you’re watching has been staged. You applaud the rigorous theater. Here, when the film’s climactic sequence has ended, there’s no impulse to clap. The verisimilitude holds you in moral check.

Please go see this movie in the theater! We have to send Hollywood a message.

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Red Tails movie aims to revive old-fashioned, patriotic war movie genre

The trailer:

And here’s a review:

“Red Tails” is almost certain to be derided as an ‘old-fashioned’ film, as if using cinematic forms and languages of the past were in and of itself a bad thing.

It isn’t.

One of the traps of thinking about popular art is the idea that if artists aren’t constantly pursuing the latest or the next ways of doing things that they’re somehow failing.  As a result, truly rich forms of expression are abandoned simply on the basis of arbitrary sell-by dates, even when they still have much to offer.  Consider the films of Guy Maddin, which use the form of silent cinema to thrillingly modern effect; somewhat similarly, “The Artist” no doubt makes some audiences aware of how plastic and lively the silent film medium was.

In the case of “Red Tails,” the old-school inspiration derives from any number of patriotic and sentimental World War II movies of the sort that producer George Lucas grew up on.  Following his lead, screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder and director Anthony Hemingway have told the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-Americans commissioned to fly and maintain planes by the U. S. military, almost as if they were doing so in the 1940s.

[...]In many ways, this film could’ve starred James Cagney, William Bendix or Audie Murphyand been made 60-odd years ago — with, of course, the crucial difference of race, which, in and of itself, is a worthwhile thing to achieve.

I might go see this on Saturday, because I love war movies. My collection of DVDs is about two-thirds black and white World War 2 movies! By far my favorite genre. More than that, the P-51 Mustang and the B-17 Flying Fortress hold special places in my heart (not so much the old Curtis P-40 Warhawks they are flying initially – blech!). The plot from the reviews I read reminds me of what it is like to be a Christian scholar and apologist. The Air Force is like the church, the generals are the pastors, and the Tuskegee airmen are the apologists and scholars.

B-17 Queen of the Skies

B-17 Queen of the Skies

As a child, my mother bought me Avalon Hill’s B-17 Queen of the Skies from the hobby shop downtown. I remember her telling me that I couldn’t get anything over $10, so I scoured the store trying to find a game that was less than $10. I found B-17 – it was the only one! But when we got to the register, we found out that it was actually $16.99 not $6.99. But she bought it for me anyway, and I played it a lot – it was a 1-player game. Understanding the fight between the Allied Air Force and the Luftwaffe taught me a lot about the importance of having military superiority in war. I hope the movie is as realistic as the game was.

If you want to see another good war movie about the air war in Europe, try “12 O’Clock High” and “Memphis Belle”. A good one in the Pacific theater is “Midway”.

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Audio, summary and review of William Lane Craig vs. Stephen Law debate

You can also download the audio at Apologetics 315.

Scorecard:

Craig’s case:

  • The origin of the universe: Law had no response.
  • The moral argument: Law denied that there are objective moral values.
  • The resurrection argument: Law told a story about a UFO sighting.

Law’s case:

  • The evidential argument from evil: Law later denied that evil existed, thus undermining his entire argument. Christian theists DON’T consider it evil when people suffer, if that suffering is necessary in order to get people to know God. We don’t agree with Law’s definition of evil that “people suffering” is automatically evil – because there can be a morally sufficient reason why that suffering is allowed by God to happen, since his goal is not our happiness but for us to know him. Law was not able to show how we know that God doesn’t have a morally sufficient reason to permit the evils we do see. And he has to prove that in order to assert (in his premise 1) that gratuitous evil exists. How does he know that? How does he know that some specific instance of evil is pointless for the purpose of improve the knowledge of God overall? The one good thing that Law did was to press Craig to defend his premise that if God doesn’t exist, then objective moral values also don’t exist. Craig did talk about how if there is no God, then morality is just a herd morality that evolves by accident, though.

Final score: 3 to 0 for Craig. Law was better than Craig’s average opponent though, for all the snarky things I might say about him, below.

Below is the snarky summary of the debate. I sometimes paraphrase entire sentences and insert commentary in order to explain what’s going on without the spin.

William Lane Craig opening speech:

Two contentions:

C1) There are good reasons to think that God exists.
C2) There are no good reasons to think that God does not exist.

Arguments for the existence of God.

A1) The origin of the universe

1. Whatever begins to exist requires a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe requires a cause.

The beginning of the universe is confirmed by philosophy and science.

An actual infinite number of past events is impossible. The concept of an actual infinite is mathematically unintelligible for the operations of subtraction and division.

Cosmologists have now proven that any universe that is now in a state of expansion must have begun to exist, independent of any physical description of the model. Even speculative alternatives to the current Big Bang model require a beginning at some point.

The cause of the universe must be transcendent and supernatural. It must be uncaused, because there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be eternal, because it created time. It must be non-physical, because it created space. There are only two possibilities for such a cause. It could be an abstract object or an agent. Abstract objects cannot cause effects. Therefore, the cause is an agent.

A2) The moral argument.

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective morality does exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Michael Ruse, an atheist philosopher agrees that if God does not exist, then there is only a “herd morality” that is determined by biological evolution and social evolution. There no objective moral standard, just different customs and conventions that vary by time and place. Anyone who acts against the herd morality is merely being unfashionable and unconventional.

Dr. Law affirms objective morality in his written work (but can he ground it on atheism?).

In order to be able to make a distinction between good and evil that is objective, there has to be a God to determine a standard of good and evil that is binding regardless of the varying customs and conventions of different people groups. Even when a person argues against God’s existence by pointing to the “evil” in the world, they must assume objective moral values, and a God who grounds those objective moral values, in order to make the charge. Therefore, it is impossible to complain about the evil in the world without assuming the existence of God.

A3) The resurrection of Jesus.

1. There are certain minimal facts that are admitted by the majority of historians, across the ideological spectrum; the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, the early belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
2. Naturalistic attempts to explain these minimal facts fail.
3. The best explanation of these facts is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Craig’s opponent thinks that Jesus never existed, a position that virtually no historian holds.

Stephen Law’s opening statement:

A1) The evidential argument from evil

1. Gratuitous evil exists.
2. God would be able to remove evil, would know about the evil, and would want to remove gratuitous evil.
3. It is implausible that God exists.

There are moral evil actions committed by agents
There are natural evils like earthquake.

Animals suffer. e.g. – from being eaten by other animals.
Humans suffer, e.g. – from disease.

Craig’s cosmological argument does prove that a Creator exists, but the evidential argument from evil proves that this Creator is not good.

If the Creator really were good, then we would all be spared from all suffering, both physical and mental, because God has no morally sufficient reason for allowing anyone to suffer. God, if he existed, would prevent humans from committing moral evil by removing our free will. God would also prevent us from having any unhappy feelings caused by natural evil.

A2) Theodicies offered by Christians fail

Freedom Will Theodicy: An evil God might like to allow humans to have free will.

Laws of Nature: An evil God might like to have laws of nature to allow predictable consequences.

Afterlife compensation: An evil God might like an evil afterlife to make us suffer more.

Craig’s first rebuttal:

RA1) Law’s evidential argument from evil fails

The mere presence of evil is not a problem if God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting instances of evil. Since Dr. Law is making the claim that God would not allow the evil, then he has to bear the burden of proof for showing that there is no morally sufficient reason for God to permit evil and sufering.

The purpose of life on the Christian view is not merely to have happy feelings. The purpose of life on the Christian view is coming to know God and having a relationship with him. Many evils that are not good for giving us happy feelings may be good for getting us to think seriously about whether God is there and what to do to have a relationship with him.

Theists don’t infer the goodness of God because they survey the universe and find lots of good things. They infer the goodness of God based on the mere fact that they are aware of an objective moral standard of good and evil, and inalienable human rights, and they identify God as the source of that standard of Good and evil. Those things cannot exist unless there is a God to ground an objective standard of right and wrong. Since the source of the standard is God’s own unchanging nature, he cannot act in a way that is evil.

Moral evil actually proves the existence of God. If Dr. Law claims that there is moral evil, then he has to have an objective moral standard that allows the distinction between good and evil. The only way to make an objective distinction between good and evil is if there is a Design for the universe that determines what is good and evil. And a design for the universe requires a Designer of the universe.

With respect to animal suffering, any ecosystem require predators in order to control population. For example, in Canada, Canadians have had to reintroduce wolves into the ecosystem in order to cull the populations of caribou, which was de-stabilizing the ecosystem. Since humans depend on the existence of these animals, God has to allow these predators in order to balance the ecosystem.

Animals do not suffer pain the same way as humans do, research shows that although they suffer pain, they are not aware of that suffering in the way that humans are. Once you understand the biology of animals, you understand that they do not experience pain the same way as humans.

Law’s first rebuttal:

Craig thinks that you need an objective standard in order to judge things as objectively good or evil. But that’s false. I can use my subjective opinions to claim that some things are objective evil. If God doesn’t do what I like (prevent moral and natural evil), then he isn’t objectively good. I don’t need to buy into the notion of objective good and evil in order to say that something is good or evil. I can say that something is good or evil while denying the existence of objective good and evil. (IMPORTANT NOTE: DR. LAW HAS AT THIS POINT RETRACTED HIS SUPPORT FOR OBJECTIVE MORAL VALUES, WHICH MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO EMPLOY THE EVIDENTIAL ARGUMENT FROM EVIL)

Dr. Craig says that I think that people determine the goodness or evilness of God by counting good things and evil things. But that’s false. My argument is that people determine the goodness or evilness of God by counting good things and evil things. It’s completely different!The presence of good things undermines the existence of evil God, and the existence of evil things undermines the existence of good God.

Craig’s second rebuttal:

Dr. Law has not yet responded to any of the 3 arguments for God’s existence.

A1) No response to the argument from the origin of the universe. How can you admit to a Creator of the universe and still be an atheist? His argument from evil doesn’t refute a supernatural cause of the universe.

A2) Dr. Law is now denying that objective moral values exist, contrary to his written work. This means that he is not able to use the terms “good” and “evil” intelligibly. He is merely expressing his subjective opinions, and therefore he cannot press the evidential argument from evil, because there is no such thing as evil, objectively speaking, on his view. It’s just his personal preference.

A3) No response to the argument concerning the resurrection.

RA1) He has to show that God doesn’t have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evils we see. He admits that he can’t.

He says that the world is morally ambiguous and you can’t infer the goodness of God by counting the amount of evil and good in the world, just like you can’t infer the evilness of God by counting the amount of evil and good in the world. And that’s correct, and theists don’t infer God’s goodness by counting good and evil instances. The point is that if you can’t infer God’s goodness or evilness by counting instances of good or evil, then you can’t infer that God isn’t good, because you don’t know whether God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting the evils that we see. And it’s the atheist’s burden of proof to show that God DOESN’T have a morally sufficient reason, and Dr. Law is unable to do that.

Dr. Law says that you don’t need to have a standard of good and evil to press the problem of pain and suffering. But if you deny that there is any good or evil independent of pain and suffering, then you can’t impugn God’s goodness because you don’t have a standard in place to say that gratuitous pain and suffering is evil.

Any event that occurs in history can have effects far into the future or in another country. Physicists understand that small effects can trigger results that cannot be foreseen. And what this means is that humans are simply not in a position to know whether God has a moral sufficient reason for permitting specific instances of evil.

Finally, the purpose of life on the Christian view is not to have happy feelings and be free from suffering. God’s purpose for us is to know him and to be rightly related to him. Many instances of evil may be pointless for making people feel good, but may be effective for drawing people towards God.

Law’s second rebuttal:

RA2) The vast majority of philosophers reject the moral argument, for example Richard Swinburne. (No reasoning for the denial is explained, just the denial of the argument’s effectiveness by citing Richard Swinburne as an authority). This is a fallacy of arguing from an authority.

Dr. Craig has to prove that no atheistic account of morality can be given. He has disprove them all, even the ones that no one has thought of yet. It’s not my job, AS THE ATHEIST, to prove that I can give an account of objective truth of moral claims can be given ON ATHEISM. I don’t have to do anything except stand here and speculate about some possible account of morality on atheism and I win.

The existence of objective moral values is not obvious to me. I.e. – I don’t see anything objectively wrong with torturing babies for fun, it’s a matter of opinion. I also don’t see anything evil about those things that I said were evil in my first speech. I was just kidding, people, can’t you take a joke? It just seems to some people like Dr. Craig that there are objective moral values, but actually there aren’t. Dr. Craig merely wants to believe that evil is real, but actually it isn’t. Except when I want to argue that it is in in my evidential argument FROM EVIL.

RA3) Although the majority of ancient historians accept the historicity of the empty tomb because of the early sources, multiple attestation, enemy attestation etc., the tomb was not empty because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Although virtually all ancient historians accept the post-mortem appearances because of the early sources, multiple attestation, etc., the post-mortem appearances did not occur because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Although virtually all ancient historians accept the early belief that Jesus was bodily resurrected because of the early sources, multiple attestation, etc., the early belief that Jesus was bodily resurrected did not occur because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Craig’s final rebuttal:

A1) Dr. Law accepts that the universe was created by an eternal, non-material, uncaused being. What a strange sort of atheist, who admits that there exists a supernatural Creator of the universe.

A2) Dr. Law employed the fallacy of arguing from authority. But Dr. Craig can cite a much longer list of atheists who agree that if God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist, e.g. – Nietzche, Russell, Sartre, Mackie, etc. Consistent atheists understand that if there is no God, there is no design for how the universe ought to be (natural evil), or how we ought to be (moral evil).

A3) We have to be careful when inferring a supernatural explanation and use objective criteria. All natural explanations fail to explain the full set of minimal facts that virtually all historians accept. In addition, the resurrection takes place within a religio-historical context where one might expect God to intervene if what Jesus was saying was true.

RA1) You can’t disprove God’s goodness by appealing to instances of evil, nor can you disprove God’s evilness by appealing to instances of good. This is because humans are not in a position to assess the ripple effects of permitting any instance of evil (good). It is therefore possible and inscrutable as to whether God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting any and all instances of apparent evil (good).

Dr. Law’s final rebuttal:

A2) There is a lot of pain and suffering in the history of the world. This is a challenge to God’s goodness because God’s purpose for us is to make us happy, and not at all for us to know him or for us to be related to him, as the Bible says.

Here’s my argument. Craig thinks that you can determine God’s goodness by counting instances of good and evil in the world, although he explicitly denies that. And I’ve actually done the counting and found that you can’t determine God’s goodness because there’s too much gratuitous evil. Never mind what Craig said about the ripple effect through time and space, or about chaos theory, or about morally sufficient reasons. These instances of gratuitous evil I’m telling you about have no morally sufficient reasons, in any time or in any place. Trust me, I looked everywhere and in the future, using my time machine.

Now, in my argument, when I said the word evil, I don’t really mean evil, because to use an objective standard of good and evil, I would have to have a moral lawgiver to ground that objective standard. So when I say moral and natural evil, I don’t mean moral and natural evil, I actually mean things that I don’t personally like. So I’m going to change my argument’s name to the Evidential Argument From Things That I Find Yucky.

Dr. Craig provided no justification for his premise that “if there is no God, there there are no objective moral values”. And it’s not my job to produce an atheistic theory about how objective moral values could exist, especially since my argument from evil relies on objective moral values.

A3) UFOs.

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Lee Strobel interviews Douglas Groothuis on his new apologetics book

Christian Apologetics

Christian Apologetics

Mary sent me this article from the BibleGateway site.

Excerpt:

Q. What’s the strongest argument in the arsenal of atheists these days? And why does it fall short?

A. That’s a big question. Different atheists will use different arguments, but they often confront Christians with two things: (1) Darwinism has refuted the idea of Designer and so defeats Christianity (and every other form of theism). They claim that undirected, purely material causes and entities can explain all of biology. (2) The existence of the amount of evil in the world destroys the idea that there is a God who is all-good and all-powerful. No such God would allow this to happen. This is called the problem of evil.

I address (1) in chapters 13 and 14 of Christian Apologetics. To put it into a nutshell: Darwinism is terribly overrated scientifically. Darwinists usually presupposes a materialistic worldview—this is their philosophy, not something derived from science itself—and then interpret everything in biology according to those categories. In other words, “What my net don’t catch, ain’t fish.”

But once we admit intelligent design as a legitimate category of explanation, we find that Darwinism loses its persuasive power as a comprehensive explanation of the biosphere. In fact, Darwinism cannot explain the existence of molecular machines (such as the bacterial flagellum) or the information in DNA code. Nor can it even present a compelling case that all life evolved from a common ancestor.

In addition, my book builds what I hope is a strong cumulative case for Christian theism before addressing the vexing problem of evil in the final chapter. First I consider “dead ends” to explain the fact of evil in the world. Every worldview—and not just Christianity—needs to give an account of the meaning of evil and how to deal with it.

So every worldview has to answer “the problem of evil.” I argue that atheism has no intellectual resources to bring to bear on the problem. It cannot explain the very existence of evil, since it lacks a transcendent and personal standard for good and evil, nor can it give any hope for how to wrestle with evil. This is because all the atheist can say is (to put it politely): “Stuff happens.”

However, Christianity, while challenged by the fact of evil, is not overwhelmed by it. Apart from the problem of evil, we can stand on the foundation of natural theology. There are compelling arguments for, among other things, a First Cause who designed the universe and who is the source of moral law and meaning. Moreover, we find historically reliable documents that speak of Jesus Christ as God incarnate—one who vindicated himself through his matchless life, death, and resurrection. Thus, we do not stand before the problem of evil intellectually naked. Rather, we are girded in strong rational armor.

The Christian answer to the problem of evil is that while God is sovereign, some of God’s creatures (angelic and humans) brought evil into the world through their rebellion. God did not create evil. However, as an all-wise God, God uses evil for greater goods that would not be achievable otherwise. Further, God proves his love and goodness by experiencing the worst possible evil through the crucifixion of Jesus, Christ, God, the Son. Christ’s resurrection three days later stamps history and eternity with the verdict that good (that is, God) wins out over evil in the end.

Q. You offer a compelling case for the resurrection of Jesus. What’s the strongest counter-argument to him rising from the dead? And why does that alternative fail?

A. None of the counter-arguments are as rationally strong as the claim that Jesus left an empty tomb and rose from the dead in space-time actuality. The naturalistic accounts all fail to explain key elements of what we know from history.

However, in recent years, the hallucination theory has generated the most attention, as Gary Habermas has pointed out. This theory affirms that Jesus did not objectively rise from the dead; instead, his followers subjectively hallucinated a resurrection and subsequently built their movement on this delusion. While this counter-argument may be “the best of the bad,” it is still very bad indeed.

First, hallucinations are not group phenomena, but rather individual experiences. But we have well-attested records that many people in their right minds observed the risen Jesus at the same time, as well as other individual appearances (as to Paul).

Second, if many people were deluded about Jesus and began a movement in his name, the Roman government could have put a stop to the young Jesus movement by producing his corpse publicly. They had both the means and the motive to do so. But we have no record of anything like that.

Third, Jesus’ followers did not expect him to rise from the dead. This was not part of their theology and they did not understand Jesus when he made reference to this fact before his resurrection. N.T Wright strongly argues for this. But hallucinations usually involve some form of wish fulfillment: people strongly desire something, and then hallucinate about it. This does not fit the objective historical evidence about Jesus’ followers at all.

I think if you follow apologetics at all, you can see that Doug knows his stuff. But look how precisely he gets the material out – so concisely. I think Doug’s apologetics book and Mike Licona’s resurrection book are the books of the year. But for intermediate to advanced apologists only! Doug and Michael are two of my absolute favorite Christian apologists.

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