Category Archives: Francis Schaeffer

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 157b Professor comments on Schaeffer Analysis of Bertrand Russell

 

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On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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Harold W. Kroto (left) receives the Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm, in 1996.

Soren Andersson/AP

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I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

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In  the first video below in the 14th clip in this series are his words and I will be responding to them in the next few weeks since Sir Bertrand Russell is probably the most quoted skeptic of our time, unless it was someone like Carl Sagan or Antony Flew.  

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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Quote from Bertrand Russell:

Q: Why are you not a Christian?

Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favor of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.

Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?

Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite… at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true._

 

From WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Unveiling of Truth
The famous Hindu writer and statesman Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan once wrote, “The altars erected to the unknown gods in the Graeco-Roman world were but an expression of man’s ignorance of the divine nature. The sense of failure in man’s quest for the unseen is symbolized by them. When asked to define the nature of God, the seer of the Upanishad sat silent, and when pressed to answer claimed that the Absolute is silence.”
By contrast, the Apostle Paul, speaking in the context of the very same altars to unknown gods in Athens, said, “…Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). And again, writing to the Corinthians not far away, “However, as it is written: `No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived …’ but God has revealed it to us …” (1 Corinthians 2:9,10). This claim is common to the whole Bible. God has not waited for us to stumble to Him in the dark (which would be impossible anyway), but has revealed Himself to us. The word revelation in Greek is apokalupsis which means literally “unveiling”; so God has “unveiled” to us the things we could not know because of our finiteness and sin.
This revelation or unveiling to finite and sinful people is the Bible as the written Word. This is the claim of the whole Bible. Moreover, through the Bible we learn of the life and teaching of the Second Person of the Trinity, who became man at a point in history and so became the Living Word of the Godhead: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).
In this claim the dilemma of all humanistic systems is overcome at a stroke. The infinite God has spoken. None of the many finite attempts to define truth, doomed to failure as we have seen, is necessary. God has communicated to man, the infinite to the finite. God has communicated, in addition, in words that are understandable to us. The One who made man capable of language in the first place has communicated to man in language. Also, God has communicated truth about both spiritual reality and physical reality, about both the nature of God and the nature of man, about both events in past history and events in the future. Where all humanistic systems of thought are unable to give an adequate explanation of things, the Bible as God’s statement is adequate.
It is equally important to note that the Bible’s answer does not have to be believed blindly. There are good and sufficient reasons for seeing that it is true. It is the key that fits into the lock of what we know best about ourselves and the universe around us.
To change the metaphor: Imagine a book which has been mutilated, leaving just one inch of printed matter on each page. Although it would obviously be impossible to piece together and understand the book’s story, few people would imagine that the printing which was left on those one-inch portions had come together by chance. However, if the torn pieces of each page were found in a trunk and were added in the right places, then the story could be read and would make sense.
So it is with Christianity. The ripped pages remaining in the book correspond to the universe and its form and to the mannishness of man. The parts of the pages discovered in the trunk correspond to the Scriptures, which are God’s propositional communication to mankind. Neither the universe nor personality can give the answer to the whole meaning of the created order. Yet both are important as a testimony in helping us know that the Scriptures, God’s communication to man, are what they claim to be. The question is whether the communication given by God completes and explains the portions we had before and especially whether it explains what was open to observation before (though without an explanation), that is, that the existence of the universe and its form and the mannishness of man are not just chance configurations of the printer’s scrambled type.
This illustration is important for several reasons. First, it emphasizes that Christians do not start out from themselves autonomously, as the humanists try to do. God gives the pages, and thus God gives the answers.
Second, it helps us see the proper place of man’s reason. Just as a scientist does not create the order in the universe but does recognize it, so reason does not create the answer but simply recognizes it. Of course this does not mean that reason will necessarily receive the answer. Each person has to choose to receive God’s truth. But God’s truth is clear. The individual must acknowledge that he (and mankind) is not autonomous, not the center of all things, and he must acknowledge that he has many times done what he knows to be wrong and thus needs the work of Christ for himself. Those who refuse to back down from the position of autonomy make it impossible for themselves to receive the truth, even though there are good and sufficient reasons for knowing that it is the truth.

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Now to pages 119 to 123 of THE GOD WHO IS THERE in chapter 5 (How Do We Know It Is True?) of section three (How Historic Christianity Differs from the New Theology).

 

All men on their own level face a problem. Confronted with the existence and form of the external universe and the “mannishness” of man, how does it fit together, and what sense does it make?

(Then Schaeffer goes on and talks about propositional communication from the personal God before us, not only the things of the cosmos and history match up… a moral absolute and morals; the universal point of reference and the particulars, and the emotional and aesthetic realities of man as well.)

 

The Nature of Proof

In dealing with the question of proof which has been raised by the illustration of the book, I want to suggest that scientific proof, philosophical proof and religious proof follow the same rules. We may have any problem before us which we wish to solve; it may concern a chemical reaction or the meaning of man. After the question has been defined, in each case proof consists of two steps:

A. The theory must be non-contradictory and must give an answer to the phenomenon in question.

B. We must be able to live consistently with our theory.

…Then there is the negative consideration. After a careful definition has weeded out the trivial, the other possible answers that do not involve a mystical leap of faith are of the following nature:

  1. That the impersonal plus time plus chance have produced a personal man. But this theory is against all experience and thus usually the advocates of this theory end with a leap of faith, often hidden by connotation words.
  2. That man is not personal, but dead;that he is in reality a machine, and therefore personality is an illusion. This theory could fit the first criterion of being non-contradictory, but it will not fit the second, for man simply cannot life as though he were a machine. This may be observed as far back in the history of man as we have evidence–for example, from the art and artifacts of the caves or from man’s burial rites….Although man may say that he is no more than a machine, his whole life denies it.
  3. That in the future man will find another reasonable answer. Firstly, this could be said about any answer to anything and would bring all thought and science to an end. It must be seen to be an evasion and an especially weak reply if the person using it applies it only to this one question. Secondly, no one can live with this answer, for it simply is not possible to hold one’s breath and wait until some solution is found in the future. Continually the individual makes moral judgments which affect himself and others, and he must be using some working hypothesis from which to start. Thus, if a person offers this seriously as an alternative theory, he should be prepared to go into deep freeze and stop making judgments which touch on the problem of man. Bertrand Russell, for example, should have stopped making sociological decisions which involved others. This position is only possible if one stops the clock.
  4.  That the scientific theory of relativity may in the future prove to be a sufficient answer for human life. But the scientific theory of relativity cannot be applied to human life in this way. The scientific theory is constantly being tested, both as a theory and by measurement. Therefore it does not mean that “anything goes,” as it does when relativity is applied to human values. Moreover, in science the speed of light in a vacuum is considered an absolute standard. Therefore, scientific relativity does not imply that all scientific laws are in a constant state of flux. To use scientific relativity to buttress the concept of relativity in regard to human life and human values is completely invalid.

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I mailed this above to a professor that I have a lot of respect for and asked a few questions and he gave me permission to post this response of his:

Dear Everette,

Thanks. I found the quote and I believe what Schaeffer says according to the context is generally as you suggest, namely that

 

“Bertrand Russell has taken the position that we cannot know anything is true unless there is an absolute and since Russell does not have one then he should be quiet. Or is Schaeffer saying that Russell has taken the position that we don’t have a unified field of knowledge but one day we will so Russell should shut up today?”—so, actually I think it is both, but in this context the focus is on the later.

 

Schaeffer is dealing with the matter of epistemology and claims that what is accepted under the naturalistic view of things one cannot know what is right or wrong for others and yet he finds himself prone to making such moral judgements. That is, the naturalist has no explanation for the way life is—the way man is, that he has moral motions. Schaeffer points out that: “continually the individual makes moral judgements which affect himself and others, and he must be using some working hypothesis from which to start.” But the naturalists (including Russell) have nothing but a chemically determinism as their starting hypothesis. On this view of things, they have no starting point by which to make moral judgments, and yet they do. If the naturalist agrees that currently their vision of reality denies them any basis on which to make moral judgements of others, but claim that in the future they will have a vision of reality that allows him to make judgements consistently, Schaeffer says he should remain silent until that day comes  (that is what he means by “hold their breath”). So, I think you are right by offering both alternatives as they are not mutually exclusive, but actually the second is entailed in the first. It is both that the vision of reality proposed by the naturalist does not allow him to make moral judgements on others, and if he agrees his present view of reality is inconsistent with the way life is, but in the future he will have an answer, then Schaeffer says that he must remain silent. He puts Russell and Skinner in the same inconsistent circle of thinking.

 

I think Schaeffer is right on this.

 

Thanks for the question. I hope this helps.

(End of Professor’s response )

 

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[From a letter dated August 11, 1918 to Miss Rinder when Russell was 46]

It is so with all who spend their lives in the quest of something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite. One seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets; at times I have seemed very near it in crowds when I have been feeling strongly what they were feeling; one seeks it in love above all. But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found.
The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact. Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God and to refuse to enter into any earthly communion—at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd isn’t it? I care passionately for this world, and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted—some ghost, from some extra-mundane region, seems always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand the message. 

There was evidence during Bertrand Russell’s own life that indicated that the Bible was true and could be trusted.

Here is some below:

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnotes #97 and #98) written by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

 

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Bertrand Russell pictured above and Francis Schaeffer below:

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Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Francis Schaeffer’s term the “Mannishness of Man” and how it relates to Woody Allen and Charles Darwin!!!

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Naturalistic, Materialistic, World View

Francis Schaeffer and  Gospel of Christ in the pages of the Bible

Francis Schaeffer’s term the “Mannishness of Man” and how it relates to Woody Allen and Charles Darwin!!! Schaeffer noted that everyone has these two things constantly pulling at them. First, it is the universe and its form and second, it is the mannishness of man. If one does not realize that God created them in the image of God where they can know right and wrong and worship their Creator then they will be longing throughout their life and even though they may say that we are a product of chance, like Allen did in his recent film MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, he still is left with an empty feeling. Furthermore, Paul in  Romans 1 brings out these same two factors. In this post I am not going to spend much time on the demonstration that Woody Allen has dealt with the issues for the simple reason that I have done that over and over again in my previous posts. However, I will look at what Schaeffer says about Allen but mostly what he says about Charles Darwin and I will be providing extensive quotes from Darwin’s own autobiography Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray.

The Search for an Adequate World-View: A Question of Method
Before we consider various possibilities, we must settle the question of method. What is it we are expecting our “answer” to answer?
There are a number of things we could consider, but at this point we want to concentrate on just two. The first is what we will call “the universe and its form,” and the second is “the mannishness of man.” The first draws attention to the fact that the universe around us is like an amazing jigsaw puzzle. We see many details, and we want to know how they fit together. That is what science is all about. Scientists look at the details and try to find out how they all cohere. So the first question that has to be answered is: how did the universe get this way? How did it get this form, this pattern, this jigsawlike quality it now has?
Second, “the mannishness of man” draws attention to the fact that human beings are different from all other things in the world. Think, for example, of creativity. People in all cultures of all ages have created many kinds of things, from “High Art” to flower arrangements, from silver ornaments to high-technology supersonic aircraft. This is in contrast to the animals about us. People also fear death, and they have the aspiration to truly choose. Incidentally, even those who in their writings say we only think we choose quickly fall into words and phrases that only make sense if they are wrong and we do truly choose. Human beings are also unique in that they verbalize. That is, people put concrete and abstract concepts into words which communicate these concepts to other people. People also have an inner life of the mind; they remember the past and make projections into the future. One could name other factors, but these are enough to differentiate people from other things in the world.
What world-view adequately explains the remarkable phenomenon of the distinctiveness of human beings? There is one world-view which can explain the explain the existence of the universe, its form, and the uniqueness of people – the world-view given to us in the Bible. There is a remarkable parallel between the way scientists go about checking to see if what they think about reality does in fact correspond to it and the way the biblical world-view can be checked to see if it is true.
Many people, however, react strongly against this sort of claim. They see the problem – Where has everything come from and why is it the way it is? – but they do not want to consider a solution which involves God. God, they say, belongs to “religion,” and religious answers, they say, do not deal with facts. Only science deals with facts. Thus, they say, Christian answers are not real answers; they are “faith answers.”
This is a strange reaction, because modern people pride themselves on being open to new ideas, on being willing to consider opinions which contradict what has been believed for a long time. They think this is what “being scientific” necessitates. Suddenly, however, when one crosses into the area of the “big” and most basic questions (like those we are considering now) with an answer involving God, the shutters are pulled down, the open mind closes and a very different attitude, a dogmatic rationalism, takes over.80
This is curious -first, because few seem to notice that the humanist explanations of the big and most basic questions is just as much a “faith answer” as any could be. With the humanist world-view everything begins with only matter; whatever has developed has developed only within matter, a reordering of matter by chance.
Even though materialistic scientists have no scientific understanding of why things exist, nor any certain scientific understanding of how life began, and even though this world-view leaves them with vast problems – the problems Woody Allen has described of “alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness” – many modern people still reject at once any solution which uses the word God, in favor of the materialistic humanist “answer” which answers nothing. This is simply prejudice at work.
We need to understand, however, that this prejudice is both recent and arbitrary. Professor Ernest Becker, who taught at the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State College, said that for the last half-million years people have always believed in two worlds – one that was visible and one that was invisible. The visible world was where they lived their everyday lives; the invisible world was more powerful, for the meaning and existence of the visible world was dependent on it. Suddenly in the last century and a half, as the ideas of the Enlightenment have spread to the whole of Western culture, we have been told quite arbitrarily that there is no invisible world. This has become dogma for many secular people today.
Christians try to answer prejudices like these by pointing out that the biblical system does not have to be accepted blindly, any more than the scientific hypotheses have to be accepted blindly. What a scientist does is to examine certain phenomena in the world. He then casts about for an explanation that will make sense of these phenomena. That is the hypothesis. But the hypothesis has to be checked. So a careful checking operation is set up, designed to see if there is, in fact, a correspondence between what has been observed and what has been hypothesized. If it does correspond, a scientist accepts the explanation as correct; if it does not, he rejects it as false and looks for an alternative explanation. Depending on how substantially the statement has been “verified,” it becomes accepted as a “law” within science, such as the law of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics.
What we should notice is the method. It is rather like trying to find the right key to fit a particular lock. We try the first key and then the next and the next until finally, if we are fortunate, one of them fits. The same principle applies, so Christians maintain, when we consider the big questions. Here are the phenomena. What key unlocks their meaning? What explanation is correct?
We may consider the materialistic humanist alternative, the Eastern religious alternative, and so on. But each of these leaves at least a part of these most basic questions unanswered. So we turn to examine the Christian alternative.
Obviously, Christians do not look on the Bible as simply an alternative. As Christians we consider it to be objectively true, because we have found that it does give the answers both in knowledge and in life. For the purposes of discussion, however, we invite non-Christians to consider it as an alternative – not to be accepted blindly, but for good and sufficient reasons.
But note this – the physical scientist does something very easy, compared to those who tackle the really important and central questions for mankind. He examines a tiny portion of the real world – a leaf, a cell, an atom, a particle – and, because these things are not personal and obey very precise laws, he is able to arrive at explanations with relative ease. C. F. A. Pantin, who was professor of zoology at Cambridge University, once said: “Very clever men are answering the relatively easy questions of the natural examination paper.” This is not to disparage physical science. It works consistently with its own principles of investigation, looking further and further into the material of the world around us. But it only looks at part of the world. As Professor W. H. Thorpe of Cambridge University says, it is “a deliberate restriction to certain areas of our total experience – a technique for understanding certain parts of that experience and achieving mastery over nature.”
We are not then moving from definite things to indefinite things, when we look at those aspects of our experience which are more central than the study of an individual physical thing such as a leaf, a cell, an atom, or a particle. Rather, we are turning from a small part of reality to a larger part of reality. Picture a scientist for a moment: he is looking at a particular detail and carrying out his scientific investigation according to the recognized procedures. We have already discussed the method he uses to find the answers. Now we need to draw back and consider the whole phenomenon we are looking at, that is, the scientist carrying out his experiment. When the scientist is seated at his desk, he is able to find answers to his questions only because he has made two colossal assumptions about his situation, in fact about the entire world. He is assuming first of all that the things he is looking at do fit together somehow, even if some areas – such as particle physics – cannot at this time be fitted into a simple explanation. If the scientist did not assume that the things he is studying somehow fit together, he would not be trying to find an answer. Second, he is assuming that he as a person is able to find answers.
In other words, the big questions constitute the very framework within which the scientist is operating. To quote Thorpe again, “I recently heard one of the most distinguished theoretical scientists state that his own scientific drive was based on two fundamental attitudes: a conviction of his own responsibility and an awe at the beauty and harmony of nature.” So we have to resist any suggestion that to be involved in answering the big questions is somehow to be getting further and further away from “the real world.”
The opposite is the case. It is as we come to these big questions that we approach the real world that every one of us is living in twenty-four hours a day – the world of real persons who can think and so work out problems such as how to get to the other side of town, persons who can love, persons who can make moral decisions. These are, in other words, the phenomena which cry out for an adequate explanation. These are the things we know best about ourselves and the world around us. What world-view can encompass them?
C. S. Lewis pointed out that there are only two alternatives to the Christian answer – the humanist philosophy of the West and the pantheist philosophy of the East. We would agree. We agree, too, with his observation that Eastern philosophy is an “opposite” to the Christian system, but we shall look at that later. For the present our attention is directed toward the materialistic world-view of the West.
From time to time we read in the press or hear on the radio that an oil tanker has run aground on rocks and that the crude oil is being driven by the wind and currents onto an otherwise beautiful coast. We can picture the problem of humanism in that way. There is a rock on which all humanist philosophy must run aground. It is the problem of relative knowledge and relative morality or, to put it another way, the problem of finiteness or limitation. Even if mankind now had perfect moral integrity regarding the world, people would still be finite. People are limited. This fact, coupled with the rejection of the possibility of having answers from God, leads humanists into the problem of relative knowledge. There has been no alternative to this relativity for the past 200 years, and there can be no alternative within the humanist world-view. That is what we want to show now.

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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A nice parallel can be made between Woody Allen’s struggle with the issue of the mannishness of man and that of Charles Darwin. Below is something that Charles Darwin wrote looking back on his life:

“It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance.  You will notice that he divides it into the same two points that Paul does in Romans into and that Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) will in the problem of existence, the external universe, and man and his consciousness. Paul points out there are these two things that man is confronted with. Two things is the real world, the universe and its form and I usually quote Jean Paul Sartre here, and Sartre says the basic philosophic problem is that something is there rather than nothing is there and I then I add at the point the very thing that Darwin feels and that is it isn’t a bare universe that is out there, it is an universe in a specific form. I always bring in Einstein and the uniformity of the form of the universe and that it is constructed as a well formulated word puzzle or you have Carl Gustav Jung who says two things cut across a man’s will that he can not truly be automous, the external world and what Carl Gustav Jung would call his “collected unconsciousness.” It is the thing that curns up out of man, the mannishness of man. Darwin understood way back here this is a real problem. So he says “the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrouse universe,” part one, the real world, the external universe, and part two “with our conscious selves arose through chance” and then he goes on and says this is not “an argument of real value.” This only thing he has to put in its place is his faith in his own theory.

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Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is  “the universe and it’s form.”

Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],

21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile andgodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

Francis Schaeffer commented:

Now Darwin is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

“At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind,

 

Francis Schaeffer observed:

 

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic. These things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that his presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is very simple: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. 

Darwin wrote:

…and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sense of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.

Francis Schaeffer noted:

You notice that Darwin had already said he had lost his sense of music [appreciation]. However, he brings forth what I think is a false argument. I usually use it in the area of morality. I mention that anthropologists point out that different people have different moral [systems]  and this is perfectly true, but what the materialist anthropologist can never point out is why man has a sense of moral motion and that is the problem here. Therefore, it is perfectly true that men have different concepts of God and different concepts of moral motion, but Darwin himself is not satisfied in his own position and WHERE DO THEY [MORAL MOTIONS] COME FROM AT ALL? So you are wrestling with the same dilemma here in this reference as you do in the area of all things human. For these men it is not the distinction that raises the problem, but it is the overwhelming factor of the existence of the humanness of man, the mannishness of man. The simple fact is he saw that you are shut up to either God or chance, and he said basically “I don’t see how it could be chance” and at the same time he looks at a mountain or listens to a piece of music it is a testimony that really chance isn’t sufficient enough. So gradually with the sensitivity of his own inborn self conscience he kills it. He deliberately  kills the beauty so it doesn’t argue with his theory. Maybe I am being false to Darwin here. Who can say about Darwin’s subconscious thoughts? It seems to me though this is exactly the case. What you find is a man who can’t stand the argument of the external beauty and the mannishness of man so he just gives it up in this particular place.

The Best Art References in Woody Allen Films Image via Complex / APJAC Productions

Film: Play It Again, Sam (1972)

In 1972’s Play It Again, Sam, Allen plays a film critic trying to get over his wife’s leaving him by dating again. In one scene, Allen tries to pick up a depressive woman in front of the early Jackson Pollock work. This painting, because of its elusive title, has been the subject of much debate as to what it portrays. This makes for a nifty gag when Allen strolls up and asks the suicidal belle, “What does it say to you?”

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Woody Allen in Play It Again Sam

Uploaded on May 20, 2009

Scene from ‘Play it Again Sam’ (1972)

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Allan: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it?

Museum Girl: Yes, it is.

Allan: What does it say to you?

Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.

Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?

Museum Girl: Committing suicide.

Allan: What about Friday night?

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Woody Allen Contemplates God in “Hannah & Her Sisters”

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Woody Allen on insanity and Cate Blanchett

 

12 Questions for Woody Allen

 

 

 

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The Morality of the West From Bad to Worse Ray Cotton

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The Morality of the West

From Bad to Worse

Ray Cotton


Cheating in the Schools

According to a study by Rutgers University, over 70% of all university students admit they have cheated at least once. And there’s probably a few more who wouldn’t admit it. The most common form of cheating admitted to is plagiarism. Students have always copied from someone else’s paper or stealthily brought forbidden notes into the classroom. But the incidence is rising. Nineteen percent admit they have faked a bibliography, and fourteen percent say they have handed in a computer program written by someone else. {1}

This report highlights the fact that many students today are either unable or unwilling to act in an ethical manner. William Kilpatrick, in his book Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong, brings to light the millions of crimes committed yearly on or near school property. Children go to school scared and intimidated. Many teachers contemplate and actually do leave the profession because of all the discipline and behavior problems.{2} A professor of philosophy at Clark University says:

Students come to college today as moral stutterers. They haven’t been taught much respect for what I call “plain moral facts,” the need for honesty, integrity, responsibility. It doesn’t take a blue-ribbon commission to see this. Students don’t reason morally. They don’t know what that means.{3}

Also, Mr. Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute for the Advancement of Ethics, said “Far too many young people have abandoned traditional ethical values in favor of self- absorbed, win-at-any-cost attitudes that threaten to unravel the moral fabric of American society.”{4} This “self-absorbed” attitude is based on a whole new set of assumptions about how we should adopt our values and the right of individuals to construct their own values.

Where do these ideas come from? Are our young people only now discovering the difference between what their parents have preached to them and what they actually do? Is it simply due to the fact that society is changing? Or is this an ethical vacuum caused by a value system without a solid foundation?

Some have suggested that we have simply discovered more efficient ways of uncovering people’s wrongdoing so it just seems that people are less moral in their dealings. In other words, we are just more aware of the imperfections that were always there. A more interesting question, however is whether the behavior is the result of values being communicated by society? Have the rules changed? and who makes these rules, God or men? The Christian and the theist turn toward the Creator of the Universe. The humanist or atheist turns toward himself. This distinction between theism and humanism is the fundamental division in moral theory.

It appears that we are rapidly approaching a Godless, valueless society in which “power ethics” or the “political rationalism” of humanism is replacing the Judeo-Christian ethical base of traditional morality. The roots of our present dilemma go all the way back to the secular humanism of the fifteenth- and sixteenth- century Renaissance, and the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The idea of the sufficiency of human reason grew stronger during these periods, continually challenging Judeo- Christian values in an increasingly sophisticated way. Humanity was placed at the center of the universe, rather than God.

The Moral Results of Reason Alone

Just as our Lord said that man cannot live by bread alone, so man cannot live by reason alone. If we exclude revelation as a source of direction in discovering who man is and rely solely on our intellect, and our own ideas of how we came to be, then we will naturally slip into a pessimistic and ultimately depressing view of human nature.

The seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke said that all knowledge comes from sensation. In other words, the only reality is what we can see, hear, feel, smell, taste, or measure. Not much room for revelation here. Other philosophers have followed up on this idea and have concluded that man is shaped by evolutionary processes and the culture that surrounds us. The notion that man is born with some innate nature has been rejected. Men like Hegel, Darwin, and Marx believed that all living forms and social systems were nothing more than the result of progressive transformations over time. As the influence of the religious community began to wane in the nineteenth century, many began to search for a meaning to life totally apart from God. Man simply no longer believed he had a place in eternity. Therefore all he could do was hope to find his place in the movement of history.{5}

Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species catapulted the abandonment of God and revelation by attempting to show that God was not even necessary in the creation of living things. If God did not create us, then we certainly could not gain our sense of meaning and purpose from a book purportedly written by Him. Frederich Nietzsche purposed to highlight the ethical implications of Darwinism. Nietzsche’s “superman” concept transformed man into the maker of his own destiny. Man was truly the measure of all things. If God is dead, as Nietzsche declared, and nature is all there is, then what is, is right. Human life was therefore stripped of any purpose or goal. The contemporary Harvard professor, E. O. Wilson has stated, “No species, ours included, possesses a purpose beyond the imperatives created by its genetic history.” Elsewhere he declares that our dilemma is that “we have no particular place to go. The species lacks any goal external to its own biological nature.” This will ultimately result in a sense of hopelessness, pessimism, apathy, and absurdity. William Kilpatrick in his book Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong, says “Suicides among young people have risen by 300 percent over the last thirty years.”{6} Next to accidents it is now the second leading cause of death in teenagers. Many of the deaths due to accidents are the result of auto accidents in which alcohol has played a role which can also be traced back to a sense of hopelessness and despair. Young people who may have never heard of Nietzsche are nevertheless living their lives in accordance with his philosophy of living recklessly.

A group of scholars presented the case of biblical authority to a group of students at Princeton University. At the conclusion of their presentation, a student stood and said:

I am surprised that I found myself feeling that you two were right and all of us were wrong, at least insofar as this very basic point: why we stand where we stand makes all the difference in the world. So the weakness of your presentation was that you were arguing on the basis of logic and presuppositions and intellectual integrity with persons who are perfectly ready to dispense with all three.{7}

Our young people are so far removed from a rational discussion of what is right and what is wrong that they are unable to even decide what criterion should be used to make the decision, let alone make the decision itself. This is the inevitable result of the philosophical trend to utilize human reason alone apart from the revelation in Scripture. As our creator, God alone has the authority and knowledge to inform us as to how we are to act. Left to ourselves, we will only be confused.

Why Are Biblical Values No Longer Taught in Schools?

Many students today are so confused that they not only don’t know what ethical system is valid, but they don’t even know how to evaluate them. One might ask, why aren’t the schools teaching the values our children need, values that will work for them rather than against them?

To understand the lack of values being taught in our educational institutions, we need to go back to the biblical critics who were writing in Germany in the nineteenth century. The product of an attempt to operate by human reason alone, this movement placed the claims of religion and particularly the Bible outside the realm of human reason. If the Bible was not reasonable, then the Scriptures lost their foundation in real history. The traditions of the faith were seen as merely that, tradition with no basis in reality. This meant that the events contained in the Bible were to be evaluated on whether they were reasonable within a universe where the supernatural was assumed to be nonexistent or at least not involved in the real world. These scholars, called higher critics, believed that all morality is totally relative to historical time and place. The laws of the Bible were now to be seen as being understood only within the times that the Bible was describing. A Sabbath was only useful to an agrarian and shepherding culture. The same would be true for adultery or taking the Lord’s name in vain.

This approach essentially denies the unity and moral integrity of the entire Bible.{8} The end result is that in people’s minds, their ethics became separated from their faith. This eventually resulted in deism, a view that says that God only provided the necessary input to get the universe started but left it completely on its own after creation. He never intervened in natural or human history again. God is still there, but there is no possibility of any communication between God and His creation. Well, if you can’t communicate with God and He has no influence over your life, why bother with worrying whether God existed at all? The world view of naturalism quickly follows which says that there is no God.

Nietzsche’s “madman” said, “God is dead!”{9} God was now out of the picture. Nietzsche simply took the next step. He tried to force men and women to, “feel the breath of empty space.” If you have been following the train of thought here you are probably beginning to see the connection between Nietzsche’s ideas and the state of our youth today. Many young people feel that there is no grand purpose for their life. Life is empty and cheap. If you believe in some form of a grand purpose, it is really only a grand illusion. All that is left, therefore, is to live for the pleasure of the moment. Gain what pleasure you can in an absurd universe. This will ultimately lead to an attitude of despair. If God is dead, what’s the use of conforming to any rules. If I die as a result of my actions, so what, life is absurd anyway.

Students today often seem to be lost in relativism and are unable to think about or look into their futures. They shrivel up within the confines of their immediate surroundings. There is no longer any hope in eternity or in real justice.

Many of today’s young people wander about their school halls with no hope, no dreams, no optimism about their future. Rock groups such as Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails continually fill their heads with the meaninglessness of a universe in which God is dead and life is absurd. We should be filled with great sadness when we witness the destruction this kind of thinking results in such as the suicide of Nirvana’s heart and soul, Curt Cobain. I believe we should also see such people as Jesus does, as lost sheep. They are a great mission field for which the truth and historical reality of the gospel can find fertile ground.

The Twentieth Century Results of a “God Is Dead” Universe

The Greek philosopher Plato understood that there must be some universal or absolute under which the individual things (the particulars, the details) must fit. Something beyond the everyday must be there to give it all unity and meaning. Even the atheist and existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre, realized that a finite point is absurd if it has no infinite reference point.{10} Sartre chose to believe that this infinite reference point did not exist, therefore, the only thing worth doing is existing and making choices, regardless of what those choices may be. But how can we tell students, our children, that anything is right or wrong if there is no absolute reference point such as the Bible, to base this on?

Existentialism says that we need to make a “leap of faith”{11} and seek to find our meaning without reason. In other words, we just have to find what works for us. And as we go through life, what works will constantly be changing. If we actually try to think about it, if we try to rationalize a meaning, we will only get depressed. According to existentialism, the only way to be happy, is to not think, to be blindly optimistic.

Another perspective is power ethics or “political naturalism.” Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a great voice in the revival of political naturalism in the sixteenth century. In his book The Prince, a ruler who wants to keep his post must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.{12} In other words, do what you need to do to preserve your position and don’t concern yourself with what is ethical. Just preserve your power. Machiavelli’s ethical stance of whatever strengthens the state is right had a great influence on the thinking of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872). Feuerbach’s claim that God was merely a human invention had a lot to do with the writings of Karl Marx (1819-1883) who took these ideas as validation of his own views. His ideas provided a foundation upon which Lenin and Stalin were able to build a society around the power ethics of political rationalism. Feuerbach and Marx rejoiced in the fact that the loosing grasp of religion had made it possible to create a city of man in an entirely human space.{13} In Russia there was a concerted attempt to root out Christianity and substitute an extremely intolerant and militant form of the religion of the Enlightenment.{14}

Adolph Hitler is another example. So profound was Nietzsche’s philosophy upon Hitler, that it provided the framework for his tireless efforts to obliterate the Jews and the weak of this world.{15} Nietzsche had proclaimed the coming of the Master Race, and a Superman who would unify Germany and perhaps the world.{16} Hitler, in his book Mein Kampf, clearly announced his intent to take Nietzsche’s logic and drive the atheistic world view to its logical conclusion. In Nietzschean terms, atheism will inevitably lead to violence and hedonism.{17} Hitler personally presented a copy of Nietzsche’s works to Benito Mussolini, and Mussolini submitted a thesis on Machiavelli for his doctor’s degree.

When human reason is allowed to be unaccountable it becomes solely a function of power, it legitimatizes the construction of a totalitarian state and in the case of Hitler the end result was the Holocaust. The real legacy of unbridled humanism is terror.{18}

The Purification of Moral Relativism

We construct museums so that we may never forget the horror of the German Holocaust. Russia is trying to recover from a total collapse of a power structure that was based on political rationalism and historical materialism. They had to find out the hard way. The fundamental dogma of the Enlightenment, the natural goodness and/or reasonableness of man, is a myth at best. It was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who related what he overheard two old peasants say during the blood baths of Stalin’s regime, “It is because we have forgotten God. That is why all this is happening to us.” Out of the rubble of a failed system rose a people desperate to reestablish an ethical base that will work for them rather than against them. An article in USA Today illustrates a new hope for values in Russia. It reports that:

Officials say up to 55% of Russian teachers, many of whom were former atheists, have made personal commitments to Christ. Many are using the New Testament in schools. “For ages, (Russia) was a country of believers and morality was very close to the people,” says assistant principal Olga Meinikova, 32, of school No. 788. “For a short period 74 years we lost it all. All Russian teachers should teach this course; Americans too. The Bible is part of normal education.”{19}

Teams of Americans are helping to train Russian teachers how to teach Judeo-Christian morals and values based on a system of biblical ethics. The military has also been retraining their staff in Judeo-Christian morality, ethics, and values. Russia reached the bottom of a Godless society and is making an effort to rebuild its ethical base.

We face a dilemma in Western culture. We can continue along the line of thinking that “reason” is our only hope and trust in the natural goodness and/or reasonableness of man. Another extreme is to throw out reason altogether and embrace the philosophy and religion of the new age. The biblical view is to return to the concept of the fallen nature of mankind and rebuild on the traditional base of historic Christianity, which puts reason under the authority of Scripture. This is the traditional basis for ethical teaching in Western culture. It applies to all our institutions of training, including churches and ministries. The ethics modeled by too many Christian leaders is at best a utilitarian form of ethics. At worst, it is a pragmatic form of ethics that serves the self-centered goals of the individual or institution.

In conclusion, ethics based on Enlightenment thinking is not the answer. Crane Brinton, in his book A History of Western Morals says, “the religion of the Enlightenment has a long and unpredictable way to go before it can face the facts of life as effectively as does Christianity.”{20} We appear to have an implosion of values in a society. Many are seeking to teach our children that there is no God and no afterlife, but if you live an ethical life it will pay off. It is a standard without a foundation, floating in mid air. Society must re-evaluate its commitment to Enlightenment ethics and thinking. Until it does, we will see a continuing loss of values and respect for humanity.

© 1996 Probe Ministries

Notes

1. “College A Cheating Haven,” Parents of Teenagers, Feb/Mar 1992, p. 5. 2. Kilpatrick, William. Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992, p. 14.
3. Marquand, Robert. “Moral Education.” Ethics, Easier Said Than Done. Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1988, p. 34.
4. “U.S. Youths’ Ethics Alarming, Study Says.” The Dallas Morning News, 15 November 1992, p. 5A.
5. Kern, Stephen. The Culture of Time & Space 1880-1918. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1983, p. 51.
6. Kilpatrick, 14.
7. Update, International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Spring 1979. 8. North, Gary. The Hoax of Higher Criticism. Tyler, Tex.: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989, p. 33.
9. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. London: Penguin Books, 1969, p. 41.
10. Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1976, p. 145.
11. Schacht, Richard. Hegel and After: Studies in Continental Philosophy Between Kant and Sartre. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975, p. 5.
12. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977, p. 44.
13. Kern, 178.
14. Brinton, Crane. A History of Western Morals. New York: Paragon House, 1990, p. 472.
15. Zacharias, Ravi. A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1990, p. 17.
16. Lutzer, Erwin W. Hitler’s Cross. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995, p. 27.
17. Zacharias, 26.
18. Levin, David Michael. The Opening of Vision: Nihilism and the Postmodern Situation. New York: Routledge, Capman & Hall, 1988, p. 4.
19. USA Today, Tuesday, 18 May 1993, 9A.
20. Brinton, 462.

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The Naturalist Dilemma and Why Christianity Supports a Better Science by Peter Blair (The works of thinkers like prominent evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins have fueled widespread belief in the incompatibility of science and religion. In The Devil’s Chaplain, Dawkins)

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The Naturalist Dilemma and Why Christianity Supports a Better Science

Peter Blair

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The works of thinkers like prominent evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins have fueled widespread belief in the incompatibility of science and religion. In The Devil’s Chaplain, Dawkins comments,

Are science and religion converging? No. There are modern scientists whose words sound religious but whose beliefs, on close examination, turn out to be identical to those of other scientists who straightforwardly call themselves atheists…To an honest judge, the alleged convergence between religion and science is a shallow, empty, hollow, spin-doctored sham.1

In The God Delusion, Dawkins supports his claim by citing a 1998 study showing that only seven percent of the scientists in the National Academy of Sciences believe in a personal God.2According to Dawkins, the evidence indicates that naturalism is the only acceptable and consistent worldview for a scientist to have.The philosophical underpinnings of theistic and naturalistic worldviews, however, indicate that the true conflict is not between science and religion, but rather between science and naturalism. A naturalist (also known as a materialist) is Somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles.3 For the naturalist, there is no afterlife, no soul and no supernatural being. As scientist Carl Sagan put it, naturalism is the belief that The Cosmos is all there is, has ever been or ever will be.Many people would argue that such an idea is a critical component of the scientific worldview.

Contrary to that popular belief, naturalism actually undermines scientific inquiry. If naturalism is true, then rational thought is the product of purely nonrational processes. According to a strictly naturalistic worldview, our beliefs and thoughts come solely from physical reactions in our brain. Alvin Plantinga, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University, puts it this way:

According to materialists, beliefs, along with the rest of mental life, are caused or determined by neurophysiology, by what goes on in the brain and nervous system. Neurophysiology, furthermore, also causes behavior. According to the usual story, electrical signals proceed via afferent nerves from the sense organs to the brain; there some processing goes on; then electrical impulses go via efferent nerves from the brain to other organs including muscles; in response to these signals, certain muscles contract, thus causing movement and behavior…Now this same neurophysiology, according to the materialist, also causes belief.5

If reason is the product of nonrational forces, why should we treat its dictates as reliable? We would not, in any other area, associate physical processes with rationality or meaning; in fact, we typically consider beliefs that arise from nonrational causes to be unreliable. Consider tasseography, the process of divining the future from the patterns formed by tea-leaves at the bottom of a cup. Although tea-leaves settle in the bottom of the cup according to physical constants, we do not consider information thus divined to be reliable, because the physical process, which determines the pattern, is nonrational. From the naturalistic perspective, all of our beliefs are formed through the same type of physical, nonrational processes that create seemingly meaningful patterns for the tasseographer. Hormones and electricity are merely settling in our brains to form patterns that we then interpret to create meaning.
Therefore, in naturalist thought or any other worldview that explains reasoning in terms of nonrational causes, reason is potentially unreliable. Paradoxically, like any other philosophical system naturalism is a product of reason. Therefore, by demonstrating that human reason is not necessarily reliable, naturalism undermines itself. Furthermore, scientific theory depends upon the reliability of our observations and our ability to draw logical conclusions from those observations, so naturalism undermines science as well.

Some philosophers and evolutionary scientists have responded to this argument by suggesting that evolution makes naturalism compatible with science because human beings’ cognitive faculties would have evolved to be reliable. They hypothesize that the ability to use reason to draw correct conclusions about reality helps mankind to survive, so natural selection favors reliable cognitive faculties and disfavors unreliable ones. For example, the philosopher William Ramsey argues:

A cognitive system that generates the belief that tigers are large, cuddly pussycats or the belief that the best way to get near something is to run away from it…will, down the road, get you into trouble. If your cognitive system is prone to these sorts of errors, then you aren’t going to be around for long.6

Therefore, because true belief helps our survival and false belief hurts it, our mental faculties would have evolved to enable us to reach true conclusions about reality. And indeed, this response is superficially compelling. It is advantageous for our survival to believe in, for example, the existence of the external world and in certain scientific laws like gravity, and there is good reason to think these beliefs are true.The question becomes “Have our cognitive faculties produced any beliefs about reality that, while false, help us to survive?” According to the naturalist, the belief in God is necessarily false. Yet historically, the majority of people have believed in the existence of at least one god. How would a naturalist account for this phenomenon? One might say that people have historically believed in God not because God exists, but rather because that belief helped them to survive. Evolutionist David Sloan Wilson has written that the belief in God is so widespread because it makes people happier and more unselfish, enabling them to get better mates and helping their families to survive longer.7 Similarly, Richard Dawkins has argued that we believe in God because certain traits that promote survival also tend to cause one to believe in agents and actors that don’t actually exist.8

The argument that evolution produces false beliefs to aid in survival directly contradicts the argument that evolution produces reliable cognitive faculties. In the service of survival, evolution has no regard for the truth or falsity of a statement. Philosopher Patricia Churchland writes:

The principle chore of [the brain] is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it…enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever it is, takes the hindmost.9

If evolution cares only to promote that which helps an organism survive, and potentially false beliefs like religious faith can do this, then evolution will favor a mental system that produces both true and false beliefs. In other words, it would produce untrustworthy cognitive faculties. Charles Darwin himself, recognizing this problem, wrote to a friend The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.10 Evolution does not provide an answer to the initial problem. Naturalism, even evolutionary naturalism, still undermines our rational trust in the reliability of our cognitive faculties and consequently in any disciplines, including science, that depend on that reliability.Christianity on the other hand, far from conflicting with science, actually provides both a motivation and a solid epistemological basis for scientific endeavors. Christianity holds that God created everything, including our reason, our senses and the natural laws that govern the universe.11 Therefore a Christian can look at science as an attempt to learn more about God and His works.12 This viewpoint endows scientific endeavors with great significance and purpose; it consecrates and dignifies intellectual life.

Furthermore, the Christian worldview teaches that God is not deceptive, and therefore Christianity provides all scientists with a reason to trust their cognitive faculties on a general basis. Christianity asserts that the world is fundamentally rational and meaningful, and that our thoughts are not just the product of nonrational processes. Christians believe there is purpose in life and there is knowable truth which, when fully grasped and understood, brings people closer to God.13 For these reasons, a Christian can be motivated to study science and justify doing so.

The history of Western science is partially the story of faith’s enriching influence. Theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer writes:

The rise of modern science did not conflict with what the Bible teaches; indeed, at a crucial point the Scientific Revolution rested upon what the Bible teaches…because the early scientists believed that the world was created by a reasonable God, they were not surprised to discover that people could find out something true about nature and the universe on the basis of reason…scientists could move with confidence, expecting to be able to find out about the world by observation and experimentation…without this foundation, Western modern science would not have been born.14

Schaeffer goes on to discuss the major scientists of the Western tradition and their relationship to the Christian faith. Francis Bacon,The major prophet of the Scientific Revolution, Johannes Kepler, the man who showed that the planets’ orbits are elliptical, Sir Isaac Newton, a scientist who later in life wrote more about the Bible than he wrote about science, Blaise Pascal, maker of the first successful barometer and Michael Faraday, discoverer of the induction of electric current were all practicing Christians, as were the majority of early members in the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.15

These men believed Christianity justified their scientific work. Francis Bacon wrote:

Let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or in ill applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word [the Bible] or the book of God’s works [nature].16

Bacon thought science was important precisely because of his Christian faith; he believed that the study of nature was the study of God. Schaeffer points out, furthermore, that even those few founders of modern science who were not Christians Were living within the thought forms brought forth by Christianity, especially the belief that God as the Creator and Lawgiver has implanted laws in his creation which man can discover.17C.S. Lewis gives a beautiful summary of Christianity’s foundational and illuminative power: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.18 Naturalism, because it leads us to doubt our cognitive faculties and our ability to reason, darkens and obscures science. Christianity, however, succeeds where naturalism fails. Illuminated by the Christian worldview, science makes sense. Through Christianity, we are able to see science in its proper and natural place as a valuable pursuit with a solid foundation.

1 Richard Dawkins, The Devil’s Chaplain (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), 146.2 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Penguin Group, 2008), 84.3 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 14.4 Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random House, 1980), 1.5 Evolution vs. Naturalism, Books and Culture. July/August 2008.6 Beilby, James (ed.), Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, (New York: Cornell University Press, 2002), 21.7 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Penguin Group, 2008), 136.8 Ibid.9 Ibid, 137.10 Ibid, 138.11 Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth12 Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.13 As Romans 1:20 states.14 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005), 132-134.15 Ibid, 134-138.16 Ibid, 142.17 Ibid, 138.18 C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry? The Weight of Glory and other Addresses (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1980), 140.Staff writer Peter Blair ’12 is from Newton Square, Pennsylvania. He is a Government and Philosophy double major.

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First Chapter of “He is there and He is not silent” by Francis Schaeffer

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This book will deal with the philosophic necessity of God’s being
there and not being silent, in the areas of metaphysics, morals, and
epistemology.
We should understand first of all that the three basic areas of
philosophic thought are what they have always been. The first of
them is the area of metaphysics, of “being.” This is the area of what
is—the problem of existence. This includes the existence of man,
but we must realize that the existence of man is no greater problem
as such than is the fact that anything exists at all. No one has said it
better than Jean-Paul Sartre, who has said that the basic philo-
sophic question is that something is there rather than that nothing
is there. Nothing that is worth calling a philosophy can sidestep the
question of the fact that things do exist and that they exist in their
present form and complexity. This is what we define, then, as the
problem of metaphysics, the existence of being.
The second area of philosophical thought is that of man and
the dilemma of man. Man is personal and yet he is finite, and so he
is not a sufficient integration point for himself. We might remem-
ber another profound statement from Sartre that no finite point
has any meaning unless it has an infinite reference point. The
Christian would agree that he is right in this statement.
Man is finite, so he is not sufficient integration point for him-
self, yet man is different from non-man. Man is personal in con-
trast to that which is impersonal, or, to use a phrase which I have
used in my books, man has his “mannishness.”
Now behaviorism, and all forms of determinism, would say
that man is not personal—that he is not intrinsically different from
the impersonal. But the difficulty with this is that it denies the obser-
vation man has made of himself for forty thousand years, if we
accept the modern dating system; and second, there is no determin-
ist or behaviorist who really lives consistently on the basis of his
determinism or his behavioristic psychology—saying, that is, that
man is only a machine. This is true of Francis Crick, who reduces
man to the mere chemical and physical properties of the DNA tem-
plate. The interesting thing, however, is that Crick clearly shows that
he cannot live with his own determinism. In one of his books,
Of Molecules and Men,
he soon begins to speak of nature as “her,” and
in a smaller, more profound book,The Origin of the Genetic Code,
he begins to spell nature with a capital N.
B. F. Skinner, the author of
Beyond Freedom and Dignity,
shows the same tension. So there are
these two difficulties with the acceptance of modern determinism
and behaviorism, which say there is no intrinsic difference between
man and non-man: first, one has to deny man’s own observation of
himself through all the years, back to the cave paintings and beyond;
and second, no chemical determinist or psychological determinist is
ever able to live as though he is the same as non-man.
THE METAPHYSICAL NECESSITY
Another question in the dilemma of man is man’s nobility.
Perhaps you do not like the word “nobility,” but whatever word you
choose, there is something great about man. I want to add here that
evangelicals have made a horrible mistake by often equating the fact
that man is lost and under God’s judgment with the idea that man is
nothing—a zero. This is not what the Bible says. There is something
great about man, and we have lost perhaps our greatest opportunity
of evangelism in our generation by not insisting that it is the Bible
that explains why man is great.
However, man is not only noble (or whatever word you want
to substitute), but man is also cruel. So we have a dilemma. The
first dilemma is that man is finite and yet he is personal; the second
dilemma is the contrast between man’s nobility and man’s cruelty.
Or one can express it in a modern way: the alienation of man from
himself and from all other men in the area of morals. So now we
have two areas of philosophic thought: first, metaphysics, dealing
with being, with existence; second, the area of morals.
The third area of this study is that of epistemology—the
problem of knowing.
Now, let me make two general observations. First, philoso-
phy and religion deal with the same basic questions. Christians,
and especially evangelical Christians, have tended to forget this.
Philosophy and religion do not deal with different questions,
though they give different answers and in different terms. The
basic questions of both philosophy and religion (and I mean reli-
gion here in the wide sense, including Christianity) are the ques-
tions of being: that is, what exists; man and his dilemma—that is,
morals; and of how man knows. Philosophy deals with these
points, but so does religion, including orthodox evangelical Chris-
tianity.
The second general observation concerns the two meanings
of the word “philosophy,” which must be kept absolutely separate
if we are to avoid confusion. The first meaning is a discipline, an
academic subject. That is what we usually think of as philosophy: a
highly technical study which few people pursue. In this sense, few
people are philosophers. But there is a second meaning that we
must not miss if we are going to understand the problem of
preaching the gospel in the twentieth-century world. For philoso-
phy also means a man’s worldview. In this sense, all men are phi-
losophers, for all men have a worldview. This is just as true of the
man digging a ditch as it is of the philosopher in the university.
Christians have tended to despise the concept of philosophy.
This has been one of the weaknesses of evangelical, orthodox
Christianity—we have been proud in despising philosophy, and
we have been exceedingly proud in despising the intellectual. Our
theological seminaries hardly ever relate their theology to philoso-
phy, and specifically to the current philosophy. Thus, men go out
from the theological seminaries not knowing how to relate it. It is
not that they do not know the answers, but my observation is that
most men graduating from our theological seminaries do not
know the questions.
In fact, philosophy is universal in scope. No man can live
without a worldview; therefore, there is no man who is not a phi-
losopher.
There are not many possibilities in answer to the three basic
areas of philosophic thought, but there is a great deal of possible
detail surrounding the basic answers. It will help us tremen-
dously—whether we are studying philosophy at university and feel
buffeted to death, or whether we are trying to be ministers of the
gospel, speaking to people with a worldview—if we realize that
although there are many possible details, the possible answers—in
their basic concepts—are exceedingly few.
There are two classes of answers given to these questions.
1. The first class of answer is that there is no logical, rational
answer. This is rather a phenomenon of our own generation. The
question has come under “the line of despair.” I am not saying that
nobody in the past had these views, but they were not the domi-
nant view. Today it is much more dominant than it has ever been.
This is true not only among philosophers in their discussions, but
it is equally true of discussions on the street corner, at the cafe, at
the university dining room, or at the filling station. The solution
commonly proposed is that there is no logical, rational
answer—all is finally chaotic, irrational, and absurd. This view is
expressed with great finesse in the existential world of thinking,
and in the theater of the absurd. This is the philosophy, or
worldview, of many people today. It is a part of the warp and woof
of the thinking of our day that there are no answers, that every-
thing is irrational and absurd.
If a man held that everything is meaningless, nothing has
answers, and there is no cause-and-effect relationship, and if he
really held this position with any consistency, it would be very hard
to refute. But in fact, no one can hold consistently that everything
is chaotic and irrational and that there are no basic answers. It can
be held theoretically, but it cannot be held in practice that every-
thing is absolute chaos.
The first reason the irrational position cannot be held consis-
tently in practice is the fact that the external world is there and it
has form and order. It is not a chaotic world. If it were true that all
is chaotic, unrelated, and absurd, science, as well as general life,
would come to an end. To live at all is not possible except in the
understanding that the universe that is there—the external uni-
verse—has a certain form, a certain order, and that man conforms
to that order and so he can live within it.
Perhaps you remember one of Godard’s movies, Pierrot le Fou,
in which he has people going out through the windows,
instead of through the doors. But the interesting thing is that they
do not go out through the solid wall. Godard is really saying that
although he has no answer, yet at the same time he cannot go out
through that solid wall. This is merely his expression of the diffi-
culty of holding that there is a totally chaotic universe while the
external world has form and order.
Sometimes people try to bring in a little bit of order, but as
soon as you bring in a little bit of order, the first class of
answer—that everything is meaningless, everything is irrational—is
no longer self-consistent, and falls to the ground.
The view that everything is chaotic and there are no ultimate
answers is held by many thinking people today, but in my experi-
ence they always hold it very selectively. Almost without exception
(actually, I have never found an exception), they discuss rationally
until they are losing the discussion and then they try to slip over into
the answer of irrationality. But as soon as the one we are discussing
with does that, we must point out to him that as soon as he becomes
selective in his argument of irrationality, he makes his whole argu-
ment suspect. Theoretically, the position of irrationalism can be
held, but no one lives with it in regard either to the external world or
the categories of his thought world and discussion. As a matter of
fact, if this position were argued properly, all discussion would come
to an end. Communication would end. We would have only a series
of meaningless sounds—blah, blah, blah. The theater of the absurd
has said this, but it fails, because if you read and listen carefully to the
theater of the absurd, it is always trying to communicate its view that
one cannot communicate. There is always a communication about
the statement that there is no communication. It is always selective,
with pockets of order brought in somewhere along the line. Thus we
see that this class of answer—that all things are irrational—is not an
answer.
2. The second class of answer is that there is an answer that
can be rationally and logically considered, which can be communi-
cated to oneself in one’s thought world and communicated with
others externally. In this chapter we will deal with metaphysics in
the area of answers that can be discussed; later, we will deal with
man in his dilemma, the area of morals, in relation to answers that
can be discussed. So now, we are to consider such answers in the
area of being, of existence.
I have already said that there are not many basic answers,
although there are variances of details within the answers. Now,
curiously enough, there are only three possible basic answers to
this question that would be open to rational consideration. The
basic answers are very, very few indeed.
We are considering existence, the fact that something is
there. Remember Jean-Paul Sartre’s statement that the basic philo-
sophic question is that something is there, rather than that nothing
is there. The first basic answer is that everything that exists has
come out of absolutely nothing. In other words, you begin with
nothing. Now, to hold this view, it must be absolutely nothing. It
must be what I call nothing-nothing. It cannot be noth-
ing-something or something-nothing. If one is going to accept this
answer, it must be nothing-nothing, which means there must be
no energy, no mass, no motion, and no personality.
My description of nothing-nothing runs like this. Suppose
we had a very black blackboard that had never been used. On this
blackboard we drew a circle, and inside that circle there was every –
thing that was—and there was nothing within the circle. Then we
erase the circle. This is nothing-nothing. You must not let anybody
say he is giving an answer beginning with nothing and then really
begin with something: energy, mass, motion, or personality. That
would be something, and something is not nothing.
The truth is, I have never heard this argument sustained, for
it is unthinkable that all that now is has come out of utter nothing.
But theoretically, that is the first possible answer.
The second possible answer in the area of existence is that all
that now is had an impersonal beginning. This impersonality may be
mass, energy, or motion, but they are all impersonal, and all equally
impersonal. So it makes no basic philosophic difference which of
them you begin with. Many modern men have implied that because
they are beginning with energy particles, rather than old-fashioned
mass, they have a better answer. SALVADOR DALI did this as he moved
from his surrealistic period into his new mysticism. But such men
do not have a better answer. It is still impersonal. Energy is just as
impersonal as mass or motion. As soon as you accept the impersonal
beginning of all things, you are faced with some form of
reductionism. Reductionism argues that everything there is now,
from the stars to man himself, is finally to be understood by reduc-
ing it to the original, impersonal factor or factors.
The great problem with beginning with the impersonal is to
find any meaning for the particulars. A particular is any individual
factor, any individual thing—the separate parts of the whole. A
drop of water is a particular, and so is a man. If we begin with the
impersonal, then how do any of the particulars that now exist—
including man—have any meaning and significance? Nobody has
given us an answer to that. In all the history of philosophical
thought, whether from the East or the West, no one has given us an answer.
Beginning with the impersonal, everything, including man,
must be explained in terms of the impersonal plus time plus
chance. Do not let anyone divert your mind at this point. There are
no other factors in the formula, because there are no other factors
that exist. If we begin with an impersonal, we cannot then have
some form of teleological concept. No one has ever demonstrated
how time plus chance, beginning with an impersonal, can produce
the needed complexity of the universe, let alone the personality of
man. No one has given us a clue to this.
Often this answer—of beginning with the impersonal—is
called pantheism.
The new mystical thought in the underground
newspapers is almost always some form of pantheism—and
almost all the modern liberal theology is pantheistic as well. Often
this beginning with the impersonal is called pantheism, but really
this is a semantic trick, because by using the root theism
a connota-tion of the personal is brought in, when by definition the imper-
sonal is meant. In my discussions I never let anybody talk
unthinkingly about pantheism. Somewhere along the way I try to
make the point that it is not really pantheism, with its semantic
illusion of personality, but paneverythingism.
The ancient religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the modern mysticism, the
new pantheistic theology, are not truly pantheism. It is merely a
semantic solution that is being offered. Theism is being used as a connotation word. In
The God Who Is There, I have emphasized the fact that the modern solutions are usually semantic mystic-isms and this is one of them.
But whatever form paneverythingism takes, including the
modern scientific form which reduces everything to energy parti-
cles, it always has the same problem: in all of them, the end is the
impersonal.
There are two problems that always exist—the need for unity
and the need for diversity. Paneverythingism gives an answer for
the need of unity, but it gives none for the needed diversity. Begin –
ning with the impersonal, there is no meaning or significance to
diversity. We can think of the old Hindu pantheism, which begins
everything with om. In reality, everything ought to have ended
with om on a single note, with no variance, because there is no rea-
son for significance in variance. And even if paneverythingism
gave an answer for form, it gives no meaning for freedom. Cycles
are usually introduced as though waves were being tossed up out of
the sea, but this gives no final solution to any of these problems.
Morals, under every form of pantheism, have no meaning as mor-
als, for everything in paneverythingism is finally equal. Modern
theology must move toward situational ethics because there is no
such thing as morals in this cycle. The word “morals” is used, but it
is really only a word. This is the dilemma of the second answer,
which is the one that most hold today. Naturalistic science holds it,
beginning everything with energy particles. Many university stu-
dents hold some form of paneverythingism. Liberal theological
books today are almost uniformly pantheist. But beginning with
an impersonal, as the pantheist must do, there are no true answers
in regard to existence with its complexity, or the personality—the

mannishness—of man.Some might say there is another possibility—some form of dualism, that is, two opposites

existing simultaneously as co-equal and co-eternal. For example, mind (or ideals or ideas)

and matter; or in morals, good and evil. However, if in morals one holds this position, then

there is no ultimate reason to call one good and one evil_the words and choice are purely

subjective if there is not something above them. And if there is something above them it is no

longer a true dualism. In metaphysics, the dilemma is that no one finally rests with dualism.

Back of Yin and Yang there is placed a shadowy Tao; back of Zoroastrianism there is placed

an intangible thing or figure. The simple fact is that in any form of dualism we are left with

some form of imbalance or tension and there is a motion back to a monism.

Either men try to find a unity over the two; or in the case of the concept of a parallelism (for

example, ideals or ideas and material) there is a need to find a relationship, a correlation or

contact between the two, or we are left with a concept of the two keeping step with no unity

to cause them to do so. Thus in an attempted parrellism there has been a constant tendency

for one side to be subordinated to the other, or for one side to become an illusion.

Further, if the elements of the dualism are impersonal, we are left with the same problem

in both being and morals as in the case of a more simple form of a final impersonal. Thus, for

me, dualism is not the same kind of basic answer as the three I deal with in this book.

Perhaps it would be well to point out that in both existence and morals, Christianity gives a

unique and sufficient answer in regard to a present dualism yet original monism. In exis-

tence, God is spirit_this is as true of the Father as of the Holy Spirit, and equally true of the

Son, prior to the incarnation. Thus, we begin with a monism, but with a creation by the infinite

God of the material universe out of nothing, a dualism now exists. It should be noted that

while God thus created something which did not exist before, it is not a beginning out of nothing nothing, because he was there (as the infinite-personal God) to will.

The third possible answer is to begin with a personal beginning.
With this we have exhausted the possible basic answers in regard to
existence. It may sound simplistic, but it is true. That is not to
saythere are no details that one can discuss, no variances, subhead-
ings, or subschools—but these are the only basic schools of thought
that are possible. Somebody once brilliantly said that when you get
done with any basic questions, there are not many people in the
room. By this he meant that the farther you go in depth in any basic
question, finally the choices to be made are rather simple and clear.
There are not many basic answers to any of the great questions of
life.
So now let us think what it means to begin with that which is
personal. That is, that which is personal began everything else,
the very opposite of beginning with the impersonal. In this case,
man, being personal, does have meaning. This is not abstract.
Many of the people who come to L’Abri would not become Chris-
tians if we did not discuss in this area. Hundreds of them would
have turned away, saying, “You don’t know the questions.” These
things are not abstract, but have to do with communicating the
Christian gospel in the midst of the twentieth century.
I get tired of being asked why I don’t just preach the “simple
gospel.” You have to preach the simple gospel so that it is simple to
the person to whom you are talking, or it is no longer simple. The
dilemma of modern man is simple: he does not know why man has
any meaning. He is lost. Man remains a zero. This is the damnation
of our generation, the heart of modern man’s problem. But if we
begin with a personal beginning and this is the origin of all else,
then the personal does have meaning, and man and his aspirations
are not meaningless. Man’s aspirations of the reality of personality
are in line with what was originally there and what has always
intrinsically been.
It is the Christian who has the answer at this point—a titanic
answer! So why have we gone on saying the great truths in all the
ways that nobody understands? Why do we keep talking to our
-selves, if men are lost and we say we love them? Man’s damnation
today is that he can find no meaning for man, but if we begin with
the personal beginning we have an absolutely opposite situation.
We have the reality of the fact that personality does have meaning
because it is not alienated from what has always been, and what is,
and what always will be. This is our answer, and with this we have a
solution not only to the problem of existence—of bare being and
its complexity—but also for man’s being different, with a person-
ality which distinguishes him from non-man.
We may use an illustration of two valleys. Often in the Swiss
Alps there is a valley filled with water and an adjacent valley without
water. Surprisingly enough, sometimes the mountains spring leaks,
and suddenly the second valley begins to fill up with water. As long
as the level of water in the second valley does not rise higher than the
level of the water in the first valley, everyone concludes that there is a
real possibility that the second lake came from the first. However, if
the water in the second valley goes thirty feet higher than the water
in the first valley, nobody gives that answer. If we begin with a per-
sonal beginning to all things, then we can understand that man’s
aspiration for personality has a possible answer.
If we begin with less than personality, we must finally reduce
personality to the impersonal. The modern scientific world does this
in its reductionism, in which the word “personality” is only the
impersonal plus complexity. In the naturalistic scientific world,
whether social, psychological, or natural science, a man is reduced to
the impersonal plus complexity. There is no real, intrinsic differ-
ence.
But once we consider a personal beginning, we have yet
another choice to make. This is the next step: are we going to
choose the answer of God or gods? The difficulty with gods instead
of God is that limited gods are not big enough. To have an ade-
quate answer of a personal beginning, we need two things. We
need a personal-infinite God (or an infinite-personal God) and we need a personal unity and diversity in God.
Let us consider the first choice—a personal-infinite God.
Only a personal-infinite God is big enough. Plato understood that
you have to have absolutes or nothing has meaning. But the diffi-
culty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to
meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the
ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of ref-
erence or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In
Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and con-
trolling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling
the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in this
thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big
enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God. That is first.
Second, we need a personal unity and diversity in God—not
just an abstract concept of unity and diversity, because we have
seen we need a personal God. We need a personal unity and diver-
sity. Without this we have no answer.
What we are talking about is the philosophic necessity, in the
area of being and existence, of the fact that God is there. That is
what it is all about:He is there.
There is no other sufficient philosophical answer than the
one I have outlined. You can search through university philoso-
phy, underground philosophy, filling station philosophy—it does
not matter which—there is no other sufficient philosophical
answer to existence, to being, than the one I have outlined. There is
only one philosophy, one religion, that fills this need in all the
world’s thought, whether the East, the West, the ancient, the mod-
ern, the new, the old. Only one fills the philosophical need of exis-
tence, of being, and it is the Judeo-Christian God—not just an
abstract concept, but rather that this God is really there. He really
exists. There is no other answer, and orthodox Christians ought to
be ashamed of having been defensive for so long. It is not a time to
be defensive. There is no other answer.
Let us notice that no word is as meaningless as is the word
“god.” Of itself it means nothing. Like any other word, it is only a
linguistic symbol—g-o-d—until content is put into it. This is espe-
cially so for the word “god,” because no other word has been used to
convey such absolutely opposite meanings. The mere use of the
word “god” proves nothing. You must put content into it. The word
“god” as such is no answer to the philosophic problem of existence,
but the Judeo-Christian content to the word “God” as given in the
Old and New Testaments does meet the need of what exists—the
existence of the universe in its complexity and of man as man. And
what is that content? It relates to an infinite-personal God, who is
personal unity in diversity on the high order of trinity.
Every once in a while in my discussions someone asks how I
can believe in the Trinity. My answer is always the same. I would
still be an agnostic if there were no Trinity, because there would be
no answers. Without the high order of personal unity and diversity
as given in the Trinity,there are no answers.
Let us return again to the personal-infinite. On the side of
God’s infinity, there is a complete chasm between God on one side
and man, the animal, the flower, and the machine on the other. On
the side of God’s infinity, he stands alone. He is the absolute other.
He is, in his infinity, contrary to all else. He is differentiated from
all else because only he is infinite. He is the Creator; all else was cre-
ated. He is infinite; all else in finite. All else is brought forth by cre-
ation, so all else is dependent and only he is independent. This is
absolute on the side of his infinity. Therefore, concerning God’s
infinity, man is as separated from God as is the atom or any other
machine-portion of the universe.
But on the side of God being personal, the chasm is between
man and the animal, the planet, and the machine. Why? Because
man was made in the image of God. This is not just doctrine. It is
not dogma that needs just to be repeated linearly, as McLuhan
would say. This is really down in the warp and woof of the whole
problem. Man is made in the image of God; therefore, on the side
of the fact that God is a personal God, the chasm stands not
between God and man, but between man and all else. But on the
side of God’s infinity, man is as separated from God as the atom or
any other finite of the universe. So we have the answer to man’s
being finite and yet personal.
It is not that this is the best answer to existence; it is the only
answer. That is why we may hold our Christianity with intellectual
integrity. The only answer for what exists is that God, the
infinite-personal God, really is there.
Now we must develop the second part a bit further—per-
sonal unity and diversity on the high order of trinity. Einstein
taught that the whole material world may be reduced to electro-
magnetism and gravity. At the end of his life he was seeking a unity
above these two, something that would unite electromagnetism
and gravity, but he never found it. But what if he had found it? It
would only be unity in diversity in relationship to the material
world, and as such it would only be child’s play. Nothing would
really have been settled because the needed unity and diversity in
regard to personality would not have been touched. If he had been
able to bring electromagnetism and gravity together, he would not
have explained the need of personal unity and diversity.
In contrast, let us think of the Nicene Creed—three persons,
one God. Rejoice that they chose the word “person.” Whether you
realize it or not, that catapulted the Nicene Creed right into our
century and its discussions: three Persons in existence, loving each
other, and in communication with each other, before all else was.
If this were not so, we would have had a God who needed to
create in order to love and communicate. In such a case, God
would have needed the universe as much as the universe needed
God. But God did not need to create; God does not need the uni-
verse as the universe needs him. Why? Because we have a full and
true Trinity. The persons of the Trinity communicated with each
other and loved each other before the creation of the world.
This is not only an answer to the acute philosophic need of
unity in diversity, but of personal unity and diversity. The unity
and diversity cannot exist before God or be behind God, because
whatever is farthest back is God. But with the doctrine of the Trin-
ity, unity and diversity is God himself—three persons, yet one
God. That is what the Trinity is, and nothing less than this.
We must appreciate that our Christian forefathers under-
stood this very well in A.D.325, when they stressed the three per-
sons in the Trinity, as the Bible had clearly set this forth. Let us
notice that it is not that they invented the Trinity in order to give an
answer to the philosophical questions which the Greeks of that
time understood very dynamically. It is quite the contrary. The
unity and diversity problem was there, and they realized that in the
Trinity, as it had been taught in the Bible, they had an answer that
no one else had. They did not invent the Trinity to meet the need;
the Trinity was already there and it met the need. They realized that
in the Trinity we have what all these people are arguing about and
defining but for which they have no answer.
Let us notice again that this is not the best answer; it is the only
answer. Nobody else, no philosophy, has ever given us an answer
for unity and diversity. So when people ask whether we are embar-
rassed intellectually by the Trinity, I always switch it over into their
own terminology—unity and diversity. Every philosophy has this
problem and no philosophy has an answer. Christianity does have
an answer in the existence of the Trinity. The only answer to what
exists is that he, the triune God, is there.
So we have said two things. The only answer to the metaphys-
ical problem of existence is that the infinite-personal God is there,
and the only answer to the metaphysical problem of existence is
that he, the Trinity, is there—the triune God.
Now, surely by this time we will have become convinced that
philosophy and religion are indeed dealing with the same ques-
tions. Notice that in the basic concept of existence, of being, it is
the Christian answer or nothing. It will change your life if you
understand this, no matter how evangelical and orthodox you are.
Let me add something, in passing. I find that many people
who are evangelical and orthodox want truth just to be true to the
dogmas, or to be true to what the Bible says. Nobody stands more
for the full inspiration of Scripture than I, but this is not the end of
truth as Christianity is presented, as the Bible presents itself.The
truth of Christianity is that it is true to what is there.You can go to
the end of the world and you never need be afraid, like the ancients,
that you will fall off the end and the dragons will eat you up. You
can carry out your intellectual discussion to the end of the game,
because Christianity is not only true to the dogmas, it is not only
true to what God has said in the Bible, but it is also true to what is
there, and you will never fall off the end of the world! It is not just
an approximate model; it really is true to what is there. When the
evangelical catches that—when evangelicalism catches that—we
may have our revolution. We will begin to have something beauti-
ful and alive, something which will have force in our poor, lost
world. That is what truth is from the Christian viewpoint and as
God sets it forth in Scripture. But if we are going to have this
answer, notice that we must have the full biblical
answer, and not reduce Christianity to either the paneverythingism of the East or
the paneverythingism of modern liberal theology, whether
Protestant or Roman Catholic. We must not
allow a theological pantheism to begin to creep in, and we must not reduce Christian-
ity to the modern existential, upper-story theology. If we are going
to have these great, titanic answers, Christianity must be the full
biblical answer. We need the full biblical position to have the
answer to the basic philosophical problem of the existence of what
is. We need the full biblical content concerning God: that he is the
infinite-personal God and the triune God.
Now let me express this in a couple of other ways. One way to
say it is that without the infinite-personal God, the God of personal
unity and diversity, there is no answer to the existence of what
exists. We can say it in another way, however, and that is that the
infinite-personal God, the God who is Trinity, has spoken. He is
there, and he is not silent. There is no use having a silent God. We
would not know anything about him. He has spoken and told us
what he is and that he existed before all else, and so we have the
answer to the existence of what is.
He is not silent. The reason we have the answer is because the
infinite-personal God, the full trinitarian God, has not been silent.
He has told us who he is. Couch your concept of inspiration and
revelation in these terms, and you will se how it cuts down into the
warp and woof of modern thinking.He is not silent.
That is the reason we know. It is because he has spoken. What has he told us? Has
he told us only about other things? No, he has told us true truth
about himself, and because he has told us true truth about him-
self—that he is the infinite-personal, triune God—we have the
answer to existence. Or we may put it this way: at the point of
metaphysics—of being, of existence—general and special revela-
tion speak with one voice. All these ways of saying it are really
expressing the same thing from slightly different viewpoints.
In conclusion, man, beginning with himself, can define the
philosophical problem of existence, but he cannot generate from
himself the answer to the problem. The answer to the problem of
existence is that the infinite-personal, triune God is there, and that
the infinite-personal, triune God is not silent

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____________

NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN (John Cage v Francis Schaeffer)

__________________

________________________

DESCRIBING THE STORM
CHAPTER FOUR
If there is no God, there can be no meaning for man except that which he creates for himself. Modern music
has expressed this concept in a most powerful way. One might well say that the history of modern music is the
story of man’s failure to attain to anything solid or permanent as he has sought to create his own meaning. We
look, then, at
Modern Music
If we ask what the leading difference is between modern music and the music of earlier times, the answer
would surely be the element of the spontaneous. Traditional music—whether of the concert auditorium or of the
parlor—was structured. It was written (and could be written) in musical notation. The musician could play it by
reading what was written there, since the framework was one of order, form, harmony, and plan. The concept
of music, in other words, reflected a biblical view of the world. But what happened when the new framework of
thinking began to dominate music? Man began to think of himself as a part of a big cosmic accident—a universe
that was not created, and which does not have a plan behind it. The only thing that man can do in such a universe
is to try to create meaning out of himself. Thus the characteristic element in music reflecting this new framework
of thinking is spontaneity—and the element of chance.

Up to this point we have given our own viewpoint. At this point we will quote from a European writer. He
is discussing the work of a well-known symphonic composer, Mr. John Cage. Here it will become clear that the
new framework of thinking does indeed explain some of the strange “happenings” in great concert halls of the
world.
The power of art to communicate ideas and emotions to organize life into meaningful patterns, and to
realize universal truths through the self-expressed individuality of the artist are only three of the
assumptions that Cage challenges. In place of a self-expressive art created by the imagination, tastes,
and desires of the artist, Cage proposes an art, born of chance and indeterminacy.
Back in the Chinese culture long ago the Chinese had worked out a system of tossing coins or yarrow
sticks by means of which the spirits would speak. The complicated method which they developed made
sure that the person doing the tossing would not allow his own personality to intervene. Self expression
was eliminated so that the spirits could speak.
Cage picks up this same system and uses it. He too seeks to get rid of any individual expression in his
music. But there is a very great difference. As far as Cage is concerned there is nobody there to speak.
There is only an impersonal universe speaking through blind chance.
Cage began to compose his music through the tossing of coins. It is said that for some of his pieces lasting
only twenty minutes he has tossed the coin thousands of times. This is pure chance, but apparently not

pure enough, he wanted still more chance. So he devised a mechanical conductor. It was a machine
working on cams, the motion of which cannot be determined ahead of time, and the musicians just
followed this. Or, as an alternative to this, sometimes he employed two conductors who could not see each
other, both conducting simultaneously; anything, in fact, to produce pure chance. But in Cage’s universe
nothing comes through in the music except noise and confusion or total silence.
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage’s total chance music, as he was bowing
to acknowledge the applause, there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping
from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musicians behind him who were hissing.
Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience members boo at him they are, if they are
modern men, in reality booing the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music.
We might add that one of the “compositions” of John Cage is called “Silence.” It consists of precisely that: four
and a half minutes of total silence! One could almost laugh, if it were not so sad—and serious. But it is. When
man rejects God, and God’s word revelation to man, he ends up here—doomed to silence. For what can man say
(musically, or in any other way) in a universe that has no meaning? When man refuses to think—and speak —
God’s thoughts after Him, he is consigned to this predicament.

______________________

NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN

CHANCE VERSUS DESIGN

In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer refers to the American composer John Cage who believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance.  In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various chance agencies.  He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product.  The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal.  Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis.  Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.”  John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another.  In doing so, he is an example of the person described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his theory of randomness.

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_______________

Francis Schaeffer “the True Christian position is that, in space and time and history, there was an unprogrammed man who made a choice, and actually rebelled against God…without Christianity’s answer that God made a significant man in a significant history with evil being the result of Satan’s and then man’s historic space-time revolt, there is no answer but to accept Baudelaire’s answer [‘If there is a God, He is the devil’] with tears”

I am currently reading the books THE GOD WHO IS THERE and ESCAPE FROM REASON and that inspired me to do this series of posts on Francis Schaeffer again.

Francis Schaeffer in his fine book about modern man ESCAPE FROM REASON  states,

“the True Christian position is that, in space and time and history, there was an unprogrammed man who made a choice, and actually rebelled against God…without Christianity’s answer that God made a significant man in a significant history with evil being the result of Satan’s and then man’s historic space-time revolt, there is no answer but to accept Baudelaire’s answer [‘If there is a God, He is the devil’] with tears. Once the historic Christian answer is put away, all we can do is to leap upstairs and say that against all reason God is good.”(pg. 81)

Excerpt from THE GOD WHO IS THERE: (page 110)

The dilemma of man :

Man is able both to rise to great heights and to sink to great depths
of cruelty and tragedy.

Anyone with sensitivity and concern for the world.. can sense this
dilemma…
Of course it is possible to try not to get involved.. but the only
way would be to be young enough, well enough, having money enough,
and being egotistic enough to care nothing about other human beings.

As [to man’s dilemma]
..only two possible explanations can be given .. that Man is too
small, too finite to wrestle with what confronts him.. The second
explanation is quite different, it puts man’s dilemma down to a
moral cause.

If the first explanation is the right one, then one is bound to
conclude that man has always been in the same dilemma – that Man
has always been fallen man. This also means that there is no
moral answer to the problem of evil and cruelty.
Because man, whether somehow created by a curious thing called god
or kicked up out of the slime by chance, has always been in this
dilemma, this being a part of what being Man is.
If this is what man intrinsically is, and he has always been like
this, then.. Baudelaire is right when he says: ‘If there is a God,
he is the devil’.

This statement was simply the logical deduction from the premise
that man, with his cruelty and suffering, is now as he always has
been. At this point Baudelaire was consistent and refused to give
anny kind of romantic alternatives as an explanation.
But the Bible says that this is not the situation. (…)

..the modern non-christian answer denies the legitimacy of moral
absolutes, refuses to pass any kind of moral comment on man’s
actions and thus reduces cruel and non-cruel deeds to the same
level. With this answer, not only is the concept of sin reduced
to less than the biblical concept, but man is reduced to less
than the biblical concept of guilty man. (…)

There need be no either–or in La Peste:

Without absolutes, morals as morals cease to exist – and
humanistic man starting from himself has failed to find the
absolute. But because God of the Bible is there, real morals
exist.. we can say that one action is right, and another wrong,
without talking nonsense.

The Christian never faces the dilemma posed in Camus’ book
La Peste. It simply is not true that he either had to side
with the doctor against God by fighting the plague, or join with
the priest and thus be much less than human by not fighting the
plague. (…) Jesus, standing at the tomb of Lazarus, was angry
at death and at the abnormality of the world; the destruction
and distress caused by sin. He could hate the plague without
hating Himself as God.
A Christian can fight with compassion what is wrong in the world
and know.. that God hates these [abnormalities] too.
God hates them to the high price of the death of Christ.

But if one lives in a world of non-absolutes and would fight
social injustice on the mood of the moment.. what criterion do I
have to distinguish between right and wrong? … the word ‘love’
cannot tell me how to discern, for within the humanistic frame-
work, love can have no definite meaning.
Once we comprehend that Christ who came to die to end ‘the plague’
both wept and was angry at the plague’s effects, we have a reason
for fighting that does not rest merely on my momentary disposition,
or on the shifting consensus of men. (…)

The Christian is the real radical of our generation, for he stands
against the monolithic, modern concept of truth as relative –
we believe in the unity of truth. But too often, instead of
being the radical, standing against the shifting sands,
he subsides into merely maintaining the status quo.

If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point
of the cross — and that moral law is fixed in what God is in
Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field
against wrong — including man’s inhumanity to man.
We need to be challenged at this point.

How Should We Then Live – Episode 8 – The Age of Fragmentation

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Francis Schaeffer “If rationalistic man wants to deal with the real things of human life — such as purpose, significance, the validity of love — he must discard rational thought about them and make a gigantic, non-rational leap of faith. The rationalistic framework had failed to produce an answer on the basis of reason”

I am currently reading the books THE GOD WHO IS THERE and ESCAPE FROM REASON and that inspired me to do this series of posts on Francis Schaeffer again.

Excerpt from THE GOD WHO IS THERE: ( page 10)

So rationalism or humanism is the unity within secular thought. (..)

In one way it is always the same, men trying to build from themselves
alone. In another sense it is constantly shifting (..)

The ‘line of despair’ indicates a titanic shift at this present time within
the unity of rationalism: Above the line, men were rationalistic
optimists. They believed that they could begin with themselves and
draw a circle which would encompass all thoughts of life, and life itself,
without having to depart from the logic of antithesis. They thought
that on their own, rationalistically, finite men could find a unity in the
total diversity. This is where philosophy stood, prior to our own day.

The only real argument between these rationalistic optimists was over
the circle that should be drawn. One man would draw a circle and say,
You can live within this circle. The next man would cross it out and
would draw a different circle. The next man would come along, and
draw his own – ad infinitum (…)
By the time you have considered all these circles.. you may feel like
jumping off London Bridge! But at a certain point this attempt to spin
out a unified optimistic humanism ceased. The thinkers came to the
conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic
circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live.

It was as though the rationalist suddenly became trapped in a large
darkness… he would feel his way to the walls and look for an exit…
then the terrifying truth would dawn on him that there was no exit
at all! … and so, departing from the classical method of antithesis,
they shifted the concept of truth — and modern man was born.

..and modern man moved under the line of despair, against his
desire. He remained a rationalist, but he had changed.
If we do not understand this shift, we are largely talking to
ourselves.

Søren Kirkegaard [was named] the father of all modern thinking:
..of modern secular thinking and of the new theological thinking.

[SK] came to the conclusion that you could not arrive at synthesis
by reason. Instead, you achieved everything of real importance
by a leap of faith. So he separated absolutely the rational and
logical, from faith. We might… debate whether, if he came back
today, he would be pleased with what had been made of his thinking.

..but with the concept of a leap of faith, he became in a real way
the father of all modern existential thought, both secular and
theological.
As a result, from that time on, if rationalistic man wants to deal with
the real things of human life — such as purpose, significance, the
validity of love — he must discard rational thought about them and
make a gigantic, non-rational leap of faith. The rationalistic
framework had failed to produce an answer on the basis of reason,

and so all hope of a uniform field of knowledge had to be abandoned.

…though there appear to be many forms of of philosophy today,
in reality there are very few. They have a uniform cast about them.

..there is one basic agreement in almost all of the chairs of philosophy
today, a radical denial of the possibility of putting forth a circle which
will encompass all. In this sense, the philosophies of today can be
called, in all seriousness, anti-philosophies.

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 157a Bertrand Russell’s perfect implicit unqualified faith in an uniformity of natural causes in a closed system

 

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 SSSS Sir Bertrand Russell

Image result for bertrand russell

Image result for bertrand russell

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

__

(Harry Kroto pictured below)

Image result for harry kroto nobel prize

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

_

 

In  the first video below in the 14th clip in this series are his words and I will be responding to them in the next few weeks since Sir Bertrand Russell is probably the most quoted skeptic of our time, unless it was someone like Carl Sagan or Antony Flew.  

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

__

Quote from Bertrand Russell:

Q: Why are you not a Christian?

Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favor of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.

Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?

Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite… at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true._

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Francis Schaeffer noted concerning the IMPLICIT FAITH of Bertrand Russell:

I was lecturing at the University of St. Andrews one night and someone put forth the question, “If Christianity is so clear and reasonable then why doesn’t Bertrand Russell then become a Christian? Is it because he hasn’t discovered theology?”

It wasn’t a matter of studying theology that was involved but rather that he had too much faith. I was surrounded by humanists and you could hear the gasps. Bertrand Russell and faith; Isn’t this the man of reason? I pointed out that this is a man of high orthodoxy who will hold his IMPLICIT FAITH on the basis of his presuppositions no matter how many times he has to zig and zag because it doesn’t conform to the facts.

You must understand what the term IMPLICIT FAITH  means. In the old Roman Catholic Church when someone who became a Roman Catholic they had to promise implicit faith. That meant that you not only had to believe everything that Roman Catholic Church taught then but also everything it would teach in the future. It seems to me this is the kind of faith that these people have in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system and they have accepted it no matter what it leads them into. 

I think that these men are men of a high level of IMPLICIT FAITH in their own set of presuppositions. Paul said (in Romans Chapter One) they won’t carry it to it’s logical conclusion even though they hold a great deal of the truth and they have revolted and they have set up a series of universals in themselves which they won’t transgress no matter if they conform to the facts or not.

Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is “the universe and it’s form.”

Romans 1:18-20 Amplified Bible :

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification].

We can actually see the two points makes playing themselves out in Bertrand Russell’s own life.

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[From a letter dated August 11, 1918 to Miss Rinder when Russell was 46]

It is so with all who spend their lives in the quest of something elusive, and yet omnipresent, and at once subtle and infinite. One seeks it in music, and the sea, and sunsets; at times I have seemed very near it in crowds when I have been feeling strongly what they were feeling; one seeks it in love above all. But if one lets oneself imagine one has found it, some cruel irony is sure to come and show one that it is not really found.
The outcome is that one is a ghost, floating through the world without any real contact. Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God and to refuse to enter into any earthly communion—at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd isn’t it? I care passionately for this world, and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted—some ghost, from some extra-mundane region, seems always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand the message. 

There was evidence during Bertrand Russell’s own life that indicated that the Bible was true and could be trusted.

Here is some below:

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnotes #97 and #98) written by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org
This is Part 2. Read Part 1
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Above all other books combined, the Bible has been hated, vilified, ridiculed, criticized, restricted, banned, and destroyed, but it has been to no avail. As one rightly said, “We might as well put our shoulder to the burning wheel of the sun, and try to stop it on its flaming course, as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible” (Sidney Collett, All about the Bible, p. 63).

In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshipping Jesus Christ and to destroy their Scriptures. Every official in the empire was ordered to raze the churches to the ground and burn every Bible found in their districts (Stanley Greenslade, Cambridge History of the Bible). Twenty-five years later Diocletian’s successor, Constantine, issued another edict ordering fifty Bibles to be published at government expense (Eusebius).

In 1778 the French infidel Voltaire boasted that in 100 years Christianity would cease to exist, but within 50 years the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to publish Bibles (Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, 1986, pp. 123, 124).

Robert Ingersoll once boasted, “Within 15 years I’ll have the Bible lodged in a morgue.” But Ingersoll is dead, and the Bible is alive and well.

In fact, many who set out to disprove the Bible have been converted, instead. The following are a few more examples:

Sir William Mitchell Ramsay,(1851 – 1939)

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WILLIAM MITCHELL RAMSAY (1851-1939)

William Ramsay was a renowned archaeologist and New Testament scholar from Scotland. He was knighted by the British crown for his work in archaeology.

He was raised an atheist, and as a brilliant student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and at Oxford University in England, he sat at the feet of theological modernists and skeptics who disbelieved the Bible. It was assumed that the Bible is not historically accurate and that it contains a large portion of mythology. It was thought that the book of Acts was not written until 150 A.D., about a century after the events it describes.

When Ramsay began archaeological and historical research in Asia Minor beginning in 1881, he expected and hoped to find more evidence against the Bible. Instead, he discovered fact after fact that supported the Bible. He eventually concluded that the book of Acts was written during the lifetime of the apostles and that it is historically accurate. His discoveries led to his conversion to Christianity.

“He had spent years deliberately preparing himself for the announced task of heading an exploration expedition into Asia Minor and Palestine where he would [find] the evidence that the book was the product of ambitious monks, and not the book from heaven it claimed to be. He regarded the weakest spot in the whole New Testament to be the story of Paul’s travels. These had never been thoroughly investigated by one on the spot. Equipped as no other man had been, he went to the home of the Bible. Here he spent fifteen years digging. Then in 1896 he published a large volume, Saint Paul, the Traveler and the Roman Citizen. … The book caused a furor of dismay among the skeptics of the world. Its attitude was utterly unexpected because it was contrary to the announced intention of the author years before. For twenty years more, book after book from the same author came from the press, each filled with additional evidence of the exact, minute truthfulness of the whole New Testament as tested by the spade on the spot. And these books have stood the test of time, not one having been refuted, nor have I found even any attempt to refute them” (Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 62).

Ramsay testified:

“The present writer takes the view that Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness. At this point we are describing what reasons and arguments changed the mind of one who began under the impression that the history was written long after the events and that it was untrustworthy as a whole” (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, 1915).

VIGGO OLSON

The following is excerpted from “From Agnostic to Ambassador to Bangladesh,” Thanthropos.org:

Viggo Olsen was a brilliant surgeon who graduated cum laude from medical school and later became a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of surgeons. In 1951 he was challenged by his wife’s parents to examine the claims of Christianity for himself.
Olsen recalled, ‘Just alike a surgeon incises a chest, we were going to slash into the Bible and dissect out all its embarrassing scientific mistakes.’

After he started his investigation he ran into problems. He remembers that he had trouble finding scientific mistakes. ‘We’d find something that seemed to be an error, but on further reflection and study, we saw that our understanding had been shallow. That made us sit up and take notice.’

After examining the evidence, Olsen became a Christian and later gave his life to be a missionary in Bangladesh. He was later honored with Visa #001 for his contributions to the country.

This is a man who was extremely educated, a brilliant surgeon, someone who was not willing to take a blind leap of faith, and after exhaustive research he was willing to admit, like so many others have, that the historic Christian faith is much more than a religion, it is based on a man who walked this Earth as the Theanthropos, the God-Man. The evidence that supports the resurrection of Jesus is so overwhelming it demands a verdict and Christianity lives and dies by the fact of the resurrection–without it, Christianity does not hold water.

Olsen went from an agnostic to giving up his career, his entire life, to serve people in Bangladesh. Olson testified:

‘It was the greatest adventure we could ever have. When you’re in a hard place, when you’re in over your head again and again, when you’re sinking and beyond yourself and praying your heart out–then you see God reach out and touch your life and resolve the situation beyond anything you could have ever hoped. … That’s living it up! In my opinion, finding the purpose for which God made you–whatever it may be–and then fully pursuing it is simply the very best way to live.’

Olsen documented his life in the famous book called Daktar.

JOSH MCDOWELL

Josh McDowell, the author of Evidence That Demands a Verdict, was a skeptic when he entered university to pursue a law degree. There he met some Christians who challenged him to examine the evidence for the Bible and Jesus Christ. Following is his testimony:

As a teenager, I wanted the answers to three basic questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? … So as a young student, I started looking for answers.

I thought that education might have the answer to my quest for happiness and meaning. So I enrolled in the university. What a disappointment! I have probably been on more university campuses in my lifetime than anyone else in history. You can find a lot of things in the university, but enrolling there to find truth and meaning in life is virtually a lost cause.

I used to buttonhole professors in their offices, seeking the answers to my questions. When they saw me coming they would turn out the lights, pull down the shades, and lock the door so they wouldn’t have to talk to me. I soon realized that the university didn’t have the answers I was seeking. Faculty members and my fellow students had just as many problems, frustrations, and unanswered questions about life as I had. A few years ago I saw a student walking around a campus with a sign on his back: ‘Don’t follow me, I’m lost.’ That’s how everyone in the university seemed to me. Education was not the answer!

Prestige must be the way to go, I decided. It just seemed right to find a noble cause, give yourself to it, and become well known. The people with the most prestige in the university, and who also controlled the purse strings, were the student leaders. So I ran for various student offices and got elected. It was great to know everyone on campus, make important decisions, and spend the university’s money doing what I wanted to do. But the thrill soon wore off, as with everything else I had tried.

Every Monday morning I would wake up with a headache because of the way I had spent the previous night. My attitude was, Here we go again, another five boring days. Happiness for me revolved around those three party-nights: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then the whole boring cycle would start over again.

Around this time I noticed a small group of people on campus–eight students and two faculty–and there was something different about them. They seemed to know where they were going in life. And they had a quality I deeply admire in people: conviction. But there was something more about this group that caught my attention. It was love. These students and professors not only loved each other, they loved and cared for people outside their group.

About two weeks later, I was sitting around a table in the student union talking with some members of this group. … I turned to one of the girls in the group and said, ‘Tell me, what changed your lives? Why are you so different from the other students and faculty?’

She looked me straight in the eye and said two words I had never expected to hear in an intelligent discussion on a university campus: ‘Jesus Christ.’

‘Jesus Christ?’ I snapped. ‘Don’t give me that kind of garbage. I’m fed up with religion, the Bible, and the church.’

She quickly shot back, ‘Mister, I didn’t say ‘religion’; I said ‘Jesus Christ.’

Then my new friends issued me a challenge I couldn’t believe. They challenged me, a pre-law student, to examine intellectually the claim that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. I thought this was a joke. These Christians were so dumb. How could something as flimsy as Christianity stand up to an intellectual examination? I scoffed at their challenge.

I finally accepted their challenge, not to prove anything but to refute them. I decided to write a book that would make an intellectual joke of Christianity. I left the university and traveled throughout the United States and Europe to gather evidence to prove that Christianity is a sham.

One day while I was sitting in a library in London, England, I sensed a voice within me saying, ‘Josh, you don’t have a leg to stand on.’ I immediately suppressed it. But just about every day after that I heard the same inner voice. The more I researched, the more I heard this voice. I returned to the United States and to the university, but I couldn’t sleep at night. I would go to bed at ten o’clock and lie awake until four in the morning, trying to refute the overwhelming evidence I was accumulating that Jesus Christ was God’s Son.

I began to realize that I was being intellectually dishonest. My mind told me that the claims of Christ were indeed true, but my will was being pulled another direction. I had placed so much emphasis on finding the truth, but I wasn’t willing to follow it once I saw it. I began to sense Christ’s personal challenge to me in Revelation 3:20: ‘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 him, and he with me.’ But becoming a Christian seemed so ego-shattering to me. I couldn’t think of a faster way to ruin all my good times.

I knew I had to resolve this inner conflict because it was driving me crazy. I had always considered myself an open-minded person, so I decided to put Christ’s claims to the supreme test. One night at my home in Union City, Michigan, at the end of my second year at the university, I became a Christian.

I said, ‘Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me.’ I realized that if I were the only person on earth, Christ would have still died for me.’ … I said, ‘I confess that I am a sinner.’ No one had to tell me that. I knew there were things in my life that were incompatible with a holy, just, righteous God. … I said, ‘Right now, in the best way I know how, I open the door of my life and place my trust in You as Saviour and Lord. Take over the control of my life. Change me from the inside out. Make me the type of person You created me to be’ (Josh McDowell, “He Changed My Life,” The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, 1999, pp. xxv).

McDowell concludes:

“After trying to shatter the historicity and validity of the Scripture, I cam to the conclusion that it is historically trustworthy. If one discards the Bible as being unreliable, then one must discard almost all literature of antiquity.

“One problem I constantly face is the desire on the part of many to apply one standard or test to secular literature and another to the Bible. One must apply the same test, whether the literature under investigation is secular or religious.

“Having done this, I believe we can hold the Scriptures in our hands and say, ‘The Bible is trustworthy and historically reliable” (The New Evidence, p. 68).

RICHARD LUMSDEN

Richard Lumsden (1938-97), Ph.D., converted from Darwinian atheist to Bible-believing Christian at the apex of his professional career when, challenged by one of his students, he decided to check out the evidence for himself.

A professor of parisitology and cell biology, Lumsden was dean of the graduate school at Tulane University. He trained 30 Ph.D.s., published hundreds of scholarly papers, and was the winner of the highest award for parasitology.

The following is excerpted from “The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists” by David Coppedge, which is available from Master Plan Association, http://www.creationsafaris.com/products.htm

“Dr. Richard D. Lumsden was fully grounded in Darwinian philosophy, and had no reason or desire to consider Christianity. Science was his faith: the facts, and only the facts. But at the apex of his professional career, he had enough integrity to check out the facts, and made a difficult choice to go where the facts led him, against what he had been taught, and against what he himself taught. His life took a dramatic turnaround, from Darwinist to creationist, and from atheist to Christian.

“All through his career he believed Darwinian evolution was an established principle of science, and he took great glee in ridiculing Christian beliefs. One day, he heard that Louisiana had passed a law requiring equal time for creation with evolution, and he was flabbergasted–how stupid, he thought, and how evil! He used the opportunity to launch into a tirade against creationism in class, and to give them his best eloquence in support of Darwinism. Little did he know he had a formidable opponent in class that day. No, not a silver-tongued orator to engage him in a battle of wits; that would have been too easy. This time it was a gentle, polite, young female student.

“This student went up to him after class and cheerfully exclaimed, ‘Great lecture, Doc! Say, I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to get my facts straight.’ Dr. Lumsden, flattered with this student’s positive approach, agreed on a time they could meet in his office. On the appointed day, the student thanked him for his time, and started in. She did not argue with anything he had said about evolution in class, but just began asking a series of questions: ‘How did life arise? . . . Isn’t DNA too complex to form by chance? . . . Why are there gaps in the fossil record between major kinds? . . . What are the missing links between apes and man?’ he didn’t act judgmental or provocative; she just wanted to know. Lumsden, unabashed, gave the standard evolutionary answers to the questions. But something about this interchange began making him very uneasy. He was prepared for a fight, but not for a gentle, honest set of questions. As he listened to himself spouting the typical evolutionary responses, he thought to himself, This does not make any sense. What I know about biology is contrary to what I’m saying. When the time came to go, the student picked up her books and smiled, ‘Thanks, Doc!’ and left. On the outside, Dr. Lumsden appeared confident; but on the inside, he was devastated. He knew that everything he had told this student was wrong.

“Dr. Lumsden had the integrity to face his new doubts honestly. He undertook a personal research project to check out the arguments for evolution, and over time, found them wanting. Based on the scientific evidence alone, he decided he must reject Darwinism, and he became a creationist. But as morning follows night, he had to face the next question, Who is the Creator? Shortly thereafter, by coincidence or not, his daughter invited him to church. It was so out of character for this formerly crusty, self-confident evolutionist to go to church! Not much earlier, he would have had nothing to do with religion. But now, he was open to reconsider the identity of the Creator, and whether the claims of the Bible were true. His atheistic philosophy had also left him helpless to deal with guilt and bad habits in his personal life. This time he was open, and this time he heard the Good News that God had sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to offer men forgiveness and eternal life.

“A tremendous struggle was going on in Dr. Lumsden’s heart as he listened to the sermon. When the service ended, the pastor gave an invitation to come to the front and decide once and for all, publicly, to receive Christ. Dr. Lumsden describes the turmoil he was in: ‘With flesh protesting every inch of the way, I found myself walking forward, down to the altar. And there, found God! Truly, at that moment, I came to know Him, and received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.’ There’s room at the cross even for know-it-all science professors, if they are willing to humble themselves and bow before the Creator to whom the scientific evidence points.

“Dr. Lumsden rejoiced in his new-found faith, but found out there is a price to pay also. He was ejected from the science faculty after his dynamic conversion to Christ and creationism. The Institute for Creation Research invited him to direct their biology department, which he did from 1990 to 1996. Dr. Henry Morris said of him, ‘He had a very vibrant testimony of his conversion only a few years ago and of the role that one of his students played in confronting his evolutionism with persistent and penetrating questions. He became fully convinced of the bankruptcy of his beliefs and realized that the only reasonable alternative was that there must be a Creator.’ Dick Lumsden was also appointed to the science faculty of The Master’s College, and used his intimate knowledge of electron microscopy to help the campus set up an operational instrument for training students. There was a joy present in his life and manner that made his lectures sparkle, and he loved to demonstrate design in the cell that could not have arisen by Darwinian processes. In discussions with evolutionists, he knew ‘just where to get them’ (he would say with a smile), having been in their shoes. His students appreciated the training his depth and breadth of knowledge and experience brought to the class and to the lab.”

Before he died Lumsdens testimony was video recorded and it is now available at the following location:https://vimeo.com/11466124

Read Part 3

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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ANSWERING RICHARD DAWKINS ON THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

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115. Filosofia: Richard Dawkins Vs Alister McGrath

Published on Dec 21, 2012

Neste vídeo: Richard Dawkins Vs Alister McGrath
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At the 40 minute mark Richard Dawkins and Alister McGrath discuss Deena Burnett’s assertion that her husband Tom was an instrument carrying out God’s will in stopping the plane from hitting the White House.

Wikipedia noted:

United Airlines Flight 93[edit]

On September 11, 2001, while on board United Airlines Flight 93, Burnett sat next to passenger Mark Bingham. Burnett called his wife, Deena, after hijackers took control of the plane. During his second call to her, she relayed to him that the Towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed.[7] Upon learning of the situation, Deena, a former flight attendant, recalled her training and urged Burnett to sit quietly and not draw attention to himself, but Burnett instead informed her that he and three other passengers, Mark BinghamTodd Beamer and Jeremy Glick, were forming a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers, and leading other passengers in this effort.[5][6][8] He also told Deena not to worry.[9] Burnett and several other passengers stormed the cockpit, foiling the hijackers’ plan to crash the plane into the White House or Capitol Building,[5][10] and forced it to crash in a Pennsylvania field, killing all 44 people on board.[5][6]

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Let me make a few points here. I am told that Tom and Deena used to attend Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock when they were visiting her parents in Little Rock. Deena actually grew up in a Southern Baptist Church like I did.  It is a common view in many evangelical circles that the problem of evil must be explained in light of the events of Genesis chapter 3 and the fall  of man. You can see this pointed out in the Evangelism Explosion leader’s guide written by Dr. D. James Kennedy. Francis Schaeffer and Ravi Zacharias  have written much on this subject too and some their work is below:

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So many tragic things happen in this world and many ask ” How can a good God allow evil and suffering?”

Their thinking is that either God is not powerful enough to prevent evil or else God is not good. He is often blamed for tragedy. “Where was God when I went through this, or when that happened.”  God is blamed for natural disasters, Even my insurance company describes them as “acts of God.” How to handle this one-  (O.N.E.)
a. Origin of evil— man’s choice- God created a perfect world…
b. Nature of God—He forgives, I John 1:9—He uses tragedy to bring us to Himself, C.S. Lewis, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains:  it is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world.”
c. End of it all—Bible teaches that God will one day put an end to all evil, and pain and death. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).As Christians we have this hope of Heaven and eternity. Share how it has made a tremendous difference in your life and that you know for sure that when you die you are going to spend eternity in Heaven. Ask the person, “May I ask you a question? Do you have this hope? Do you know for certain that when you die you are going to Heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?”How could a loving God send people to Hell?
(O.N.E.)
a. Origin of hell—never intended for people. Created for Satan and his demons. Jesus said, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). Man chooses to sin and ignore God. The penalty is death (eternal separation from God) and, yes, Hell. But God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, we choose it by refusing or ignoring God in attitude and action. b. Nature of God—“ God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He is so loving that He sent His own Son to die and pay the penalty for our sin so that we could avoid Hell and have the assurance of Heaven. No one in Hell will be able to blame God. He doesn’t send people there, it’s our own choice. We must choose to repent, to stop ignoring God in attitude and action, accepting His salvation and yielding to His leadership.c. End of it all—Bible teaches that God will one day put an end to all evil, pain, death, and penalty of Hell. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).As Christians , we need not worry about Hell. The Bible says, “these things have been written . . . so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).  I have complete confidence that when I die, I’m going to Heaven.  May I ask you a question?___________________________-

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In his article “A Conversation with an Atheist,” Rick Wade notes:

The problem of evil is a significant moral issue in the atheist’s arsenal. We talk about a God of goodness, but what we see around us is suffering, and a lot of it apparently unjustifiable. Stephanie said, “Disbelief in a personal, loving God as an explanation of the way the world works is reasonable–especially when one considers natural disasters that can’t be blamed on free will and sin.”{17}

One response to the problem of evil is that God sees our freedom to choose as a higher value than protecting people from harm; this is the freewill defense. Stephanie said, however, that natural disasters can’t be blamed on free will and sin. What about this? Is it true that natural disasters can’t be blamed on sin? I replied that they did come into existence because of sin (Genesis 3). We’re told in Romans 8 that creation will one day “be set free from its slavery to corruption,” that it “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” The Fall caused the problem, and, in the consummation of the ages, the problem will be fixed.

Second, I noted that on a naturalistic basis, it’s hard to even know what evil is. But the reality of God explains it. As theologian Henri Blocher said,

The sense of evil requires the God of the Bible. In a novel by Joseph Heller, “While rejecting belief in God, the characters in the story find themselves compelled to postulate his existence in order to have an adequate object for their moral indignation.” . . . When you raise this standard objection against God, to whom do you say it, other than this God? Without this God who is sovereign and good, what is the rationale of our complaints? Can we even tell what is evil? Perhaps the late John Lennon understood: “God is a concept by which we measure our pain,” he sang. Might we be coming to the point where the sense of evil is a proof of the existence of God?{18}

So,… if there is no God, there really is no problem of evil. Does the atheist ever find herself shaking her fist at the sky after some catastrophe and demanding an explanation? If there is no God, no one is listening.

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Francis Schaeffer and  Gospel of Christ in the pages of the Bible

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER’S WORDS BELOW:

The Personal Origin of Man
The Scriptures tell us that the universe exists and has form and meaning because it was created purposefully by a personal Creator. This being the case, we see that, as we are personal, we are not something strange and out of line with an otherwise impersonal universe. Since we are made in the image of God, we are in line with God. There is continuity, in other words, between ourselves, though finite, and the infinite Creator who stands behind the universe as its Creator and its final source of meaning.
Unlike the evolutionary concept of an impersonal beginning plus time plus chance, the Bible gives an account of man’s origin as a finite person make in God’s image, that is, like God. We see then how man can have personality and dignity and value. Our uniqueness is guaranteed, something which is impossible in the materialistic system. If there is no qualitative distinction between man and other organic life (animals or plants), why should we feel greater concern over the death of a human being than over the death of a laboratory rat? Is man in the end any higher?
Though this is the logical end of the materialistic system, men and women still usually in practice assume that people have some real value. All the way back to the dawn of our investigations in history, we find that man is still man. Wherever we turn, to the caves of the Pyrenees, to the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, and even further back to Neanderthal man’s burying his dead in flower petals, it makes no difference: men everywhere show by their art and their accomplishments that they have been and have considered themselves to be unique. They were unique, and people today are unique. What is wrong is a world-view which fails to explain that uniqueness. All people are unique because they are made in the image of God.
The Bible tells us also, however, that man is flawed. We see this to be the case both within ourselves and in our societies throughout the world. People are noble and people are cruel; people have heights of moral achievement and depths of moral depravity.
But this is not simply an enigma, nor is it explained in terms of “the animal in man.” The Bible explains how man is flawed, without destroying the uniqueness and dignity of man. Man is evil and experiences the results of evil, not because man is non-man but because man is fallen and thus is abnormal.
This is the significance of the third chapter of Genesis. Some time after the original Creation (we do not know how long), man rebelled against God. Being made in the image of God as persons, Adam and Eve were able to make real choices. They had true creativity, not just in the area we call “art” but also in the area of choice. And they used this choice to turn from God as their true integration point. Their ability to choose would have been equally validated if they had chosen not to turn away from God, as their true integration point, but instead they used their choice to try to make themselves autonomous. In doing this, they were acting against the moral absolute of the universe, namely, God’s character – and thus evil among people was born.
The Fall brought not only moral evil but also the abnormality of (1) each person divided from himself or herself; (2) people divided from other people; (3) mankind divided from nature; and (4) nature divided from nature. This was the consequence of the choice made by Adam and Eve some time after the Creation. It was not any original deformity that made them choose in this way. God had not made them robots, and so they had real choice. It is man, therefore, and not God, who is responsible for evil.
We have to keep pointing out, because the idea is strange to a society by which the Bible has been neglected or distorted, that Christianity does not begin with a statement of Christ as Savior. That comes later in its proper setting. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created….” Christianity begins with the personal and infinite God who is the Creator. It goes on to show that man is made in God’s image but then tells us that man is now fallen. It is the rebellion of man that has made the world abnormal. So there is a broken line as we look back to the creation of man by God. A chasm stands there near the beginning, the chasm which is the Fall, the choice to go against God and His Word.
What follows from this is that not everything that happens in the world is “natural.” Unlike modern materialistic thought on both sides of the Iron Curtain, Christianity does not see everything in history as equally “normal.” Because of the abnormality brought about by man, not everything which occurs in history should be there. Thus, not all that history brings forth is right just because it happens, and not all personal drives and motives are equally good. Here, then, is a marked difference between Christianity and almost all other philosophies. Most other philosophies do not have the concept of a present abnormality. Therefore, they hold that everything now is normal; things are now as they always have been.
By contrast, Christians do not see things as if they always have been this way. This is of immense importance in understanding evil in the world. It is possible for Christians to speak of things as absolutely wrong, for they are not original in human society. They are derived from the Fall; they are in that sense “abnormal.” It also means we can stand against what is wrong and cruel without standing against God, for He did not make the world as it now is.
This understanding of the chasm between what mankind and history are now and what they could have been – and should have been, from the way they were made – gives us a real moral framework for life, one which is compatible with our nature and aspirations. So there are “rules for life,’ like the signs on cliff tops which read: DANGER – KEEP OUT. The signs are there to help, not hinder us. God has put them there because to live in this way, according to His rules, is the way for both safety and fulfillment. The God who made us and knows what is for our best good is the same God who gives us His commands. When we break these, it is not only wrong, it is also not for our best good; it is not for our fulfillment as unique persons made in the image of God.

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  • Below is a transcript of the discussion between a student at Nottingham and Ravi Zacharias about evil and morality and it also discussed in the video clip above.

Student: There is too much evil in this world; therefore, there cannot be a God!
Speaker: Would you mind if I asked you something? You said, “God cannot exist because there is too much evil.” If there is such a thing as evil, aren’t you assuming that there is such a thing as good?
Student: I guess so.
Speaker: If there is such a thing as good, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil.
Speaker: In a debate between the philosopher Frederick Copleston and the atheist Bertrand Russell, Copleston said, “Mr. Russell, you do believe in good and bad, don’t you?” Russell answered, “Yes, I do.” “How do you differentiate between good and bad?” challenged Copleston. Russell shrugged his shoulders and said, “On the basis of feeling – what else?” I must confess, Mr. Copleston was a kindlier gentleman than many others. The appropriate “logical kill” for the moment would have been, “Mr. Russell, in some cultures they love their neighbors; in other cultures they eat them, both on the basis of feeling. Do you have any preference?”
Speaker: When you say there is evil, aren’t you admitting there is good? When you accept the existence of goodness, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But when you admit to a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver. That, however, is
who you are trying to disprove and not prove. For if there is no moral lawgiver, there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, there is no good. If there is no good, there is no evil. What, then, is your question?
Student: What, then, am I asking you?

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The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported on Sept 10:

When Deena Burnett Bailey spoke of the last time she heard her late husband’s voice, the rattle of silverware against china, the whispers and the general noise of a luncheon ceased.

Bailey is the widow of Tom E. Burnett, who led resistance efforts on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

Deena Burnett Bailey, widow of Tom Burnett who orchestrated the resistance against the terrorists aboard Flight 93, talks during the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary's God Bless America Luncheon on Wednesday at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.PHOTO BY JIM WEBER
BUY THIS PHOTO »Deena Burnett Bailey, widow of Tom Burnett who orchestrated the resistance against the terrorists aboard Flight 93, talks during the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary’s God Bless America Luncheon on Wednesday at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

The story of Burnett’s heroism is still a difficult one to tell, Bailey said, especially so close to the anniversary. But she wants to share it to inspire others, she said.

Bailey is the co-author of “Fighting Back: Living Life Beyond Ourselves,” a book about her husband and the others who took action against the terrorists who held the passengers hostage on Flight 93.

Bailey and former New York City police officer Jim Shepherd spoke Wednesday at a Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary luncheon.

Bailey, now remarried and living in Little Rock, was living in California on Sept. 11. She was waiting with their three daughters for her husband to return from a business trip.

As Bailey watched the two terrorist-controlled planes collide with the World Trade Center in New York, Burnett called and told her he was on a third plane that had been hijacked, and that the hijackers had “already knifed a guy.” He told her to call the authorities.

Bailey called 911 and was eventually connected with the FBI.

Her husband called again, asking questions about the World Trade Center, and then a third time to tell her passengers were hatching a plan to overtake the plane.

He called one last time to say the passengers were waiting until the plane was over a rural area before moving in on the hijackers. While everyone on the airplane was ultimately killed, no one on the ground was injured when Flight 93 went down.

Now, Burnett is honored as an American hero. Bailey says it’s a word her husband felt was overused. She says he believed in making good choices and making a difference in the lives of others.

“Tom’s last words to me were ‘Do something.’ They ring true for each of us to stand up, fight back, do something,” she said.

For Shepherd, who now lives in Memphis, the fateful day began as he drank coffee at the gym. He saw the first airplane circle but assumed it was out of its flight pattern and looking for an airport.

“At the last moment I thought, ‘Oh my God I hope he misses the buildings,’” Shepherd said.

By the time he reached his precinct, the second plane had hit the South Tower.

Later, rescuers found three stories of the building compacted into a pile only 12 feet high, with easily distinguishable layers of concrete floor, carpet and debris, he said.

Shepherd thanked the Salvation Army, which marched quietly into New York and got to work.

“You really felt like you weren’t alone,” he said. “You had another army behind you to help.”

Tom Burnett: A Hero on Flight 93 | An interview with Deena Burnett, author (with Anthony Giombetti) of Fighting Back: Defining Moments in the Life of an American Hero, Tom Burnett 

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Fighting Back is the timely and inspiring story of Thomas Burnett, the ringleader of the small group of courageous men that fought back against the terrorists on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, that crashed in the fields in Pennsylvania. His wife Deena tells about the incredible details ofthat horrific day, the now famous four cell phone calls her husband made to her from the plane, his quick assessment of the alarming suicidal flight plan, and his decision to “do something.” She tells about all that happened to her and her children in the days and months after that devastating day, and how the love, faith and strength of her departed husband helped her to fight back to find purpose and joy in her life again.

She also tells about Tom’s life story, showing how he was an ordinary American who was deeply patriotic, a very good athlete, a loving father and husband, a successful businessman, and a devout Catholic and daily communicant. This powerful book reveals the inspiring courage, character, faith and integrity that Tom Burnett showed in all the aspects of his life as a father, husband and businessman, and how his valor and leadership in that perilous plane were the result of how he lived his life every day. His story will strengthen and inspire all “ordinary” Americans, and Catholics, to imitate this man’s life of commitment to excellence, patriotism, devotion to family, and love of God. It is a story of suffering, sacrifice and of rebirth.

Carl E. Olson, editor of IgnatiusInsight.com, recently spoke with Deena Burnett about her late husband, the events of 9/11, and her faith in God.

IgnatiusInsight.com: When and how did you first decide to write Fighting Back?

Deena Burnett: I was approached right after Tom had died, and my first reaction was, “No, I don’t want to write anything.” But after a few months I realized that it would be important to write it down for my children. In January [of 2006], Anthony [Giombetti] and I got together and started writing. He would interview me and record the interviews, and then he would transcribe those interviews and then we would get together and edit it. That’s really when we started. And the idea was to chronicle Tom’s life and what had happened on September 11th, and talk about what he did and why he did it. In my mind, it was for my children, to record it, so that they would not forget. Then it evolved into something that I believe with inspire the reader to make a difference.

IgnatiusInsight.com: What do you hope readers will learn from reading the book?

Deena Burnett: Actually, just that; I hope that they are inspired to make a difference, that they see the value of having faith in God and know the importance of passing that faith on to their children.

IgnatiusInsight.com: A central theme of the book is that seemingly ordinary people can do extraordinary things. How did Tom exemplify that it in his ordinary life and in his extraordinary actions on Flight 93? 

Deena Burnett: I think that is found throughout the whole book. You certainly see that I try to stress that it wasn’t just what he did on September 11th, but that he lived his life with integrity, and I think that it was certainly his upbringing in the Faith that made him kind and attentive and concerned about other people. And I think that those are the values that he brought into the way that he lived, that helped him be a hero everyday of his life, and not just on September 11th.

 

Deena Burnett: Well, as early as the morning of September 11th, I was requesting to hear the cockpit voice recorder. I felt like it would just give me some answers as to what happened in those final moments. I didn’t know how to go about finding someone who could allow me to hear it. Anyone who had anything to do with the government, I’d just ask them, “Help me.” Very early on I met a lady, Ellen Tauscher, a representative from California, who really took me on as her project and helped me. She helped me go through the channels, writing the letters and making the phone calls and putting the pressure on different channels within the FBI and our government to release that cockpit voice recorder. I have told her so many times, “You know, Ellen, that you did this; it was you, but I’m getting all the credit for it.” And she would just laugh and say, “That’s okay, because I’m just here to help you.” She’s a great lady, absolutely a great lady. She guided me through the channels and made it happen.

We went to New Jersey in April 2002. We were allowed four family members, each family. We went in to hear it and I went through it twice. They had a transcript on the wall that we were able to see and read in sequence with hearing the audio. And I heard Tom’s voice for the first time in several months, and it gave me this incredible sense of peace that I had not expected to find through listening to it. And the peace came because, I think, for the first time in months I knew exactly what had happened by hearing the sounds and being able to visualize what he experienced. After that, it just gave me the energy and the strength to keep moving forward, to keep doing the things that needed to be done, in raising my family and making sure that those responsible for September 11th came to justice.

IgnatiusInsight.com: In the months following 9/11 you gave numerous interviews on high profile televisions programs and dealt with the media quite often. What is your impression, in general of the mainstream media, and how do you think they’ve handled coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath? 

Deena Burnett: I think that almost immediately the press was very respectful, and I was incredibly grateful for that. I initially was very afraid of the media. I kind of laugh about that now because I had a degree in journalism, and yet I was scared to death. But they were very respectful. One thing that I have found during the five years is that they have been very interested in different family members — any family members, it doesn’t matter who they are — who had something to do with September 11th, and they have created this aura of casting 9/11 family members as authorities on different issues, whether it be political issues, or issues dealing with the war on terrorism. Anything happening with our government having to do with immigration laws, the transportation department, or the war on terrorism, the first thing they do is pull a 9/11 family member away and start interviewing them: “What do you think?”

They have cast them in roles of authority, and I think that is odd, that there would be so much interest in the opinion of 9/11 family members. You know, we have this one experience to fall back upon; I’m sure there are people who are far better qualified than we are to answer most of the questions the media asks concerning these issues.

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