Book Recommendation: Who Made God by Prof. Edgar Andrews

Who Made God by Edgar AndrewsA friend sent in the following book recommendation and associated information:

It is nearing the end of the year and although I have long lost count of how many books I have read this year, I have without a doubt just finished the best and likely most important book (other than the Bible) I have read this year.

I will be writing a formal review of the book for Themelios to be published next year, so I will have much more to say soon.

However, I really can’t wait until then to say “Buy this book and read it.”

I really cannot think of another book that so effectively shatters all of the major arguments from biology, to physics, to psychology, to just the average street-level atheist against the Biblical account of God and His Creation, the whole time pointing the reader directly to the Gospel of Christ as the only hope for man!

Find more about the book and the author on the website Who Made God? Along with a number of other reviews on the publisher’s site, here and Tim Challies’ review here.

Who Made God?: Searching for a Theory of Everything
Professor Edgar Andrews (Author)

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Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design

The argument from design is the Comeback Kid of theistic arguments.  Once long neglected, recent discoveries in cosmology and physics have brought the word design back into philosophical and scientific discussions. Molecular biologist and Nobel Prize winner, Francis Crick once concluded “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would be satisfied to get it going.”

However, many (including Crick) are critical of allowing a theistic conclusion to follow from the growing awareness of the finely-tuned cosmic architecture. Some go so far as to say that such theories are not scientific – either because theories of design violate the purpose of science ( it is argued that science a priori must be defined as the pursuit of naturalistic explanations to natural processes) or because such theories violate the practice of science (not meeting requirements of observability, testability, etc).

Into this debate, philosopher of science and atheist, Bradley Morton has written a new book arguing that the theory of Intelligent Design is science and that its arguments are stronger than most realize. In Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, the professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado discusses the plausibility of arguments for a cosmic designer, the scientific legitimacy of design theories and even whether such theories may be taught in public school education. The book is a unique one in the philosophy of science and it looks to significantly develop and enhance the debate surrounding Intelligent Design.

Check out Dr. Monton’s website here (includes several published articles) and also his  blog here.
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Rethinking Christianity and the Crusades

One of the main reasons people reject Christianity often has little to do with its theological or philosophical claims, but with what they see as the effects of those claims in the world. Whether these effects are encountered firsthand or cited from church history, the harmful actions of Christians are perceived as a serious indictment of Christianity. Of course, it is wrong to dismiss an idea on the basis of a discussion of its social consequences (an idea should first be assessed on whether it conforms to reality – was Jesus who He claimed to be? Does Christianity accurately portray the human condition? Are the NT manuscripts historically accurate?) but even when that is granted, a discussion of Christianity’s actions in history is not irrelevant or unimportant.

The latest book by Rodney Stark, God’s Battalion’s: The Case for the Crusades, is a important entry into that conversation. A sociologist of religion and professor at Baylor University, Stark tackles the topic of the Crusades and offers a counternarrative to the version of history that is often wielded by popular books such as God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and The End of Faith. Stark’s book is a continuation of his ongoing examination of the relationship between Christianity and Western civilization. His previous titles (including For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome) have offered a stinging critique of the notion that religion inhibited human learning and progress until an enlightened reason at last rescued the West from the superstitious clutches of the church. In fact, Stark has argued that the success of the West and the development of science, economics, and political freedom were encouraged, not stifled, by Christian ideas. In his 2005 book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Stark forcefully writes:

Had the followers of Jesus remained an obscure Jewish sect, most of you would not have learned to read and the rest of you would be reading from hand-copied scrolls. Without a theology committed to reason, progress, and moral equality, today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800: A world with many astrologers and alchemists but no scientists. A world of despots, lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos. A world where most infants do not live to the age of five and many women die in childbirth — a world truly living in “dark ages.” (p. 233)

The thing is – Stark not only makes radical statements, but is able to support them with hard evidence and impressive scholarship. Before joining Baylor University in 2004, he taught at the University of Washington for 32 years and is the Founding Editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. Neither is Stark the only voice charting the positive impact of Christianity. He is joined by other historians and sociologists including A. C. Crombie, Edward Grant, Alvin J. Schmidt, Jonathan Hill, David Lindberg, Edward Grant, Thomas Goldstein and Stanley Jaki.Battalions

In God’s Battalions, Stark takes on the view that the Crusades were the opening round of European colonialism, conducted for land and converts by Christians who victimized the more civilised Muslims. He instead contends that the campaigns were neither colonialist, nor unprovoked, but a military response to Muslim aggression. If his past success at skewing old academic biases that have became foundational myths in contemporary thought and education are an indication, this new book should be worth reading. As Christians, we can often end up having to spend more time apologizing for other Christians than engaging in apologetics for Christ. And while there certainly are evils in Christendom’s past that Christians should be the first to acknowledge and the last to excuse, Stark’s book is a powerful call for Christians to first reflect on what it is that they are called to apologise for, and not be so eager to judge those in circumstances of unique and difficult crises.

Here is what the Publishers Weekly has to say:

It always seems counterintuitive to moderns that warfare and religion can be consistent. Ideally, followers of the prince of peace are to avoid the sword and shield. Clearly, this has not always been the case. Frequently in the crosshairs of critics are the Christian wars against Muslims known as the Crusades, commonly viewed as the birth of European imperialism and the forced spread of Christianity. But what if we’ve had it all wrong? What if the Crusades were a justifiable response to a strong and determined foe? Stark, a prominent sociologist and author of 27 books on history and religion, has penned a compelling argument that these bloody encounters had less to do with spreading Christianity than with responding to an ever more dangerous enemy – the emerging Islamic empire. There is much to be learned here. Filled with fascinating historical glimpses of monks and Templars, priests and pilgrims, kings and contemplatives, Stark pulls it all together and challenges us to reconsider our view of the Crusades.

Rodney Stark, God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, HarperOne (2009), 288 pages. Available now.

Online books by Don Carson

Andy Naselli has helpfully gathered a list of resources by New Testament scholar, Don Carson. Just about every article and review that Carson has ever written is freely available. Including in his list is also several of Carson’s books that are now also available in PDF, free for download:

If you don’t know who Don Carson is, I recommend you get acquainted with him and his work. He is regarded as one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of our generation. For thirty years he has taught at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is presently their research professor of the New Testament. From the list Andy has assembled, you can see that Carson has been responsible for a stunning body of work (50 books; 235 articles; 112 book reviews, and edited another 46 books), addressing topics from the Emergent church movement to Christians and Culture (Justin Taylor averages it out as about one book written or edited every four months, with one article and two reviews written every six weeks—for three decades). More importantly, he is able to write with both a pastoral sensitivity and academic brilliance in such a way that neither is nullified by the other. Take advantage of these wonderful resources that the Gospel Coalition has kindly and generously made available.

New and recently released apologetic books

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I could corral some apologetic-themed gift ideas here for those that might want to encourage friends and family members with Christian truth. Why get the latest Twilight Saga CD or Joel Osteen’s latest Fifteen Steps to Self-actualize your Dream Yacht when you can get something with real intellectual and spiritual fiber?

Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors

Edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig

B&H Publishing Academic
304 pages (paperback)

This book is a comprehensive rejoinder to the new wave of skeptical arguments against Christianity. It is book two in a series on modern Christian apologetics that began with the popular ‘Passionate Conviction’. Confronting skeptics such as Richard Dawkins and Bart Ehrman, the book includes essays by eighteen different evangelical thinkers that were delivered at the annual apologetics conferences of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Google books preview here.

Paul Copan is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is author of many books including  “True for You, But Not for Me” (Bethany House)  and Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion (Chalice Press).

William Lane Craig is one of the most prominent philosophers of religion in the world today and also the research professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.


Table of Contents

I. The Existence of God
1. William Craig, “Dawkins’ Delusion”
2. James Sinclair, “At Home in the Multiverse? Critiquing the Atheist Many-Worlds Scenario”
3. Victor Reppert, “The Argument from Reason”
4. Michael Murray, “Is Belief in God Hard-Wired?”
5. Mark Linville, “The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism”
6. Greg Ganssle, “Dawkins’ Best Argument Against God’s Existence”

II. The Jesus of History
7. Robert Stein, “Criteria for the Gospels’ Authenticity”
8. Ben Witherington, “Jesus the Seer”
9. Gary Habermas, “The Resurrection of Jesus Timeline”
10. Craig Evans, “How Scholars Fabricate Jesus”
11. Dan Wallace “Misquoting Jesus? Bart Ehrman and the New Testament’s Reliability”
12. Michael J. Wilkins, “Who Did Jesus Think He Was?”

III. The Coherence of Christian Doctrine
13. Charles Taliaferro and Elsa Marty, “The Coherence of Theism”
14. Paul Copan, “Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One”
15. Paul Copan, “Did God Become a Jew? The Coherence of the Incarnation”
16. Steve Porter, “Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution”
17. Stewart Goetz, “Hell: Getting What’s Good My Own Way”
18. David Hunt, “What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism”

God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable & Responsible

Edited by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister

Intervarsity Press
265 pages

The ambition of this book largely overlaps with Contending with Christianity’s Critics, setting out to address some of direct objections put forward by the New Atheists. Craig and Meister have assembled some of the finest evangelical scholars from across different academic disciplines, including an interview by Gary Habermas with new convert to theism, Antony Flew.

Chad Meister is professor of philosophy at Bethel College in Indiana and is the author of numerous books, including The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity, Introducing Philosophy of Religion, Reasons for Faith: Making a Case for the Christian Faith and The Philosophy of Religion Reader.


Table of Contents

Part One: God Is

1. William Lane Craig, “Richard Dawkins on Arguments for God”
2. J. P. Moreland, “The Image of God and the Failure of Scientific Atheism”
3. Paul K. Moser, “Evidence of a Morally Perfect God”

Part Two: God Is Great
4. John Polkinghorne, “God and Physics”
5. Michael J. Behe,  “God and Evolution”
6. Michael J. Murray, “Evolutionary Explanations of Religion?”

Part Three: God Is Good
7. Chad Meister “God, Evil and Morality”
8. Alister McGrath, “Is Religion Evil?”
9. Paul Copan, “Are Old Testament Laws Evil?”
10. Jerry L. Walls, “How Could God Create Hell?”

Part Four: Why It Matters
11. Charles Taliaferro, “Recognizing Divine Revelation”
12. Scot McKnight, “The Messiah You Never Expected”
13. Gary R. Habermas, “Tracing Jesus’ Resurrection to Its Earliest Eyewitness Accounts”
14. Mark Mittelberg, “Why Faith in Jesus Matters”

Postscript: My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism
Antony Flew (with Gary Habermas)

Appendix A: The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism “Ad Absurdum”:
Review of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion by Alvin Plantinga

A Faith And Culture Devotional: Daily Readings On Art, Science, And Life

Edited by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington

304 Pages

Unlike the previous two books, this one isn’t offering an apologetic for the Christian faith but instead a way to integrate the pursuit of truth and the wonder of faith.  The daily reader is intended for Christians who care about literature, philosophy and science by offering the thoughts of some of the most astute theological and philosophical Christian minds of the day. The book is divided into five sections: Bible and Theology, Science, Literature, Arts and Contemporary Culture, and each section features 15 succinct readings. Some of the contributors:


-Dallas Willard
-John Eldredge
-Michael Behe
-Frederica Matthews-Green
-Darrell Bock
-William Lane Craig
-R. C. Sproul
-Randy Alcorn
-J. P. Moreland

Read a sample here. It will be released next month.

Kelly Monroe Kullberg is the founder and director of The Veritas Forum, the author of Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas, and an associate with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Lael Arrington has a master’s degree in the history of ideas and aesthetics from the University of Texas, has authored three books and cohosts the radio talk show, The Things That Matter Most.

Sarfati reviews Dawkins' 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International and author of numerous works including By Design: Evidence for nature’s Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible and Refuting Compromise, has posted a preview of his forthcoming response to Dawkins’ new book. He writes:

Prominent antitheist and self-styled “atheist” Richard Dawkins has written a new book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Ironically, he admits about all his previous pro-evolution books:

“Looking back on these books, I realized that the evidence for evolution is nowhere explicitly set out, and that it seemed like a good gap to close.”
Naturally, CMI is preparing a book to answer Dawkins’ latest. In a chapter about alleged bad design, Dawkins had a section about the loss of wings and evolution of features like halteres, the little drumstick-like stabilizers behind the one pair of wings on flies.

To set the stage, Dawkins related the theory of English evolutionist (and former debate partner1) John Maynard Smith (1920–2004) about the evolution of flying creatures. Maynard-Smith argued that flying creatures evolved first with high stability and low maneuverability (e.g. with the long pterosaur tail or an insect’s long abdomen). Then they shortened, which caused lower stability but greater maneuverability, and they evolved advanced sensory equipment to stabilize by fast reactions (e.g. larger semicircular canals in pterosaurs or halteres in flies).

Even when Dawkins wrote, there were already dragonflies in the ointment, so to speak, because they have both long bodies (stability) but are also highly maneuverable and have advanced navigation systems. Furthermore, even known pterosaur types didn’t fit this theory, as Dawkins admitted in passing. But after writing our response to this Dawkins “Just-so” story, this new pterosaur turned up, and it adds a final demolition point. This new pterosaur, which to be fair Dawkins could not have known about when he wrote, has the stability of the long tail as well as the advanced correction features before loss of stability supposedly drove the selection for the advanced flying skills.

As a sneak peek, to show that we are indeed rebutting Dawkins’ claims, here is a draft section from our forthcoming book answering The Greatest Show on Earth.

Read the rest.

Critical Reviews of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion"

I received a few emails in regards to my previous post about Richard Dawkins and his earlier work, The God Delusion. Several readers were interested in what I said about the book’s critical reception and so I’ve compiled a list of some of the reactions that have appeared in academic journals and in the media, from both skeptics and theists. There are many more out there (online responses from Peter Williams, Albert Mohler, Richard Swinburne, and Steve Hays are also worth investigating) but the following offer a pretty good assessment:

“Dawkins is perhaps the world’s most popular science writer; he is also an extremely gifted science writer. (For example, his account of bats and their ways in his earlier book The Blind Watchmaker is a brilliant and fascinating tour de force.) The God Delusion, however, contains little science; it is mainly philosophy and theology. . . Dawkins is not a philosopher (he’s a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class.”
Alvin Plantinga (Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame) Books and Culture 3/01/2007

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Cardcarrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince.”
Terry Eagleton, Vol. 28 No. 20 · 19 October 2006 pages 32-34

Despite my admiration for much of Dawkins’s work, I’m afraid that I’m among those scientists who must part company with him here. Indeed, The God Delusion seems to me badly flawed. Though I once labeled Dawkins a professional atheist, I’m forced, after reading his new book, to conclude he’s actually more an amateur.
H. ALLEN ORR (Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester) The New York Review of Books, Volume 54, Number 1, January 11, 2007 (Also worth reading is Orr’s excellent reply to Daniel Dennett’s criticism of the review)

“The quality of Richard Dawkins’s polemic against classical supernaturalism is, for the vast most part, paradigmatically sophomoric. Moreover, while civility is not entirely absent from his deliberations, the tone of his discussion tends all too often to be surly, arrogant, and self-congratulatory.”
Robert Oakes (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri) Faith and Philosophy vol. 25, no. 4, pages 447 – 451, 2008

“In his new book, he attacks religion with all the weapons at his disposal, and as a result the book is a very uneven collection of scriptural ridicule, amateur philosophy, historical and contemporary horror stories, anthropological speculations, and cosmological scientific argument. . . Since Dawkins is operating mostly outside the range of his scientific expertise, it is not surprising that The God Delusion lacks the superb instructive lucidity of his books on evolutionary theory, such as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and Climbing Mount Improbable.”
Thomas Nagel (professor of philosophy at New York University) The New Republic Online October 23, 2006

“Dawkins aims at a variety of arguments for God’s existence, but keeps missing the targets. He, amazingly, never addresses the kalam cosmological argument, one of the most powerful and most discussed theistic arguments of the past thirty years. Nor does he mention the much-discussed theistic interpretation of Big Bang cosmology. Pascal’s wager is summarily dismissed and badly botched…Dawkins confesses that the purpose of The God Delusion is to convert people to atheism. . . It nevertheless poses no serious threat to a well-informed and philosophically credible Christian faith”
Douglas R. Groothuis (Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary), Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 6 (2007)

[Addressing the ‘central argument’ of Chapter 4: “Why There is Almost Certainly No God”] “Dawkins’ argument for atheism is a failure even if we concede, for the sake of argument, all its steps. But, in fact, several of these steps are plausibly false… his argument does nothing to undermine a design inference based on the universe’s complexity, not to speak of its serving as a justification of atheism.
William Lane Craig (Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology)

The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins’s treatment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God . . . Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience.”
Jim Holt, The New York Times, Published: October 22, 2006

“From an anthropological perspective, Richard Dawkins’ Darwinian critique of theism and religion is a fascinating read, though perhaps not always for the reasons the author would wish. In some respects, it makes a highly original contribution, bringing a new perspective to the scientific debate surrounding belief in God and other dimensions of the religious experience. But, at the same time, the arguments in relation to some aspects of religion are sometimes inconsistent and presented with a reliance on rhetoric rather than reason.”
Edward Croft Dutton (Oulu University in Finland) The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies. Washington: Fall 2007. Vol. 32, Iss. 3; pg. 385

Dawkins’s polemic against the need for religion is compelling, even if the arguments are not particularly new. Less persuasive is his attempt to explain what faith is and why people continue to believe. So great is his loathing for religion that it sometimes overwhelms his reasoned argument. . . Dawkins steamrollers over such complexities. The result, ironically, is that he ends up sounding as naive and unworldly as any happy clappy believer.
Kenan Malik, The Telegraph, 08 Oct 2006

It has been obvious for years that Richard Dawkins had a fat book on religion in him, but who would have thought him capable of writing one this bad? Incurious, dogmatic, rambling and self-contradictory, it has none of the style or verve of his earlier works.
Andrew Brown, Prospect, 21st October 2006 — Issue 127

“Ultimately, a reader can get worn out by 400-odd pages of indignation… Early in “The God Delusion,” Dawkins quotes Sagan’s book ” Pale Blue Dot” and concludes: “All Sagan’s books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same aspiration.” Unfortunately, in “The God Delusion,” he doesn’t succeed. Dawkins is probably right that fundamentalist religion “actively debauches the scientific enterprise,” but I’ll take Sagan’s more reverent skepticism any day.
Anthony Doerr, The Boston Globe, November 19, 2006

“The religion that Dawkins demolishes, like the God he imagines as enthroned in its midst, deserves (and staggers under) practically all the blows he launches at it; but there’s a whole other world that he scarcely lays a glove on. That world isn’t necessarily immune to reason’s assaults, but they’ll have to be orchestrated more subtly and sensitively than they are here. Meanwhile, atheists, especially insecure or harried ones, will find in The God Delusion one hell of a hotline.”
Peter Heinegg, Cross Currents, Winter 2007, Vol. 56, Iss. 4; pg. 128

The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it.”
Review by Staff, Publishers Weekly, New York: Aug 21, 2006. Vol. 253, Iss. 33; pg. 58

Also, for those interested in getting a hold of books that have addressed Dawkins’ book and the New Atheism, here are a few options (HT: James at Analogical Thoughts):

David Berlinksi: The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, April 2008.

Edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors , August 2009

Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker, Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God, May 2008

Eric Reitan, Is God A Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers, December 2008

David Robertson, The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths, June 2007

Keith Ward, Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins, April 2009

Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics

From the publisher:

Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion by C Stephen Evans

“For philosophers, the pursuit of truth travels on precise definitions. For Christian apologists, the defense of the faith is founded on the defining Word. And for beginning students of either discipline, the difference between success and frustration begins with understanding the terms and ideas and identifying the thinkers and movements. It is in this spirit that C. Stephen Evans offers The Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion, a quick reference guide to 300 terms and thinkers related to apologetics and the philosophy of religion.

With clear, concise definitions, this little book will likely become an invaluable research tool. It defines philosophical and religious terms, ranging from a posteriori and a priori to worldview and worship. You also get brief biographies of thinkers like Peter Abelard, Aristotle, Augustine, Plato, Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others. In addition, there are short descriptions of some major and minor religious systems, including Buddhism, Confucianism, and Wicca, along with descriptions of many religious movements like Arminianism and Puritanism. Plus, several major apologetic arguments from cosmology, natural theology, and other sources are described.

If it is related to apologetics or the philosophy of religion, you will find it in The Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion. The strength of the definitions is brevity, but they are accurate and reliable, functioning as first steps in probing the issues further. Students of all levels will find this book a useful resource, either as an introduction or as a quick reminder of the basics of a particular position, movement or person.”

You can buy this book in NZ here.

I Felt Cheated!!

[Book Review] Many of my readers who are opposed to the doctrine of Creation often throw around names of books and research papers in their comments here to establish their points. However, what results from it is often very amusing and also telling!!

When I mentioned how the Second Law of Thermodynamics negated Abiogenesis, a number of books about Chaos/Complexity and a number of research papers were thrown at me. I had already read most of the research papers and I did mention that fact in my reply. I also added my observation that none of these papers supported Abiogenesis.

imageHowever, a few of the books mentioned in these reactions against my posts were totally new to me. Hoping learn much, the first thing I did was to order as many of them as possible through an international book search.

Three books reached me this week, and here is the first book I picked up to read: Complexity by M. Mitchell Waldrop. The 380 page paperback is a good read: a very good read if you love to read a book that promises one thing and delivers another. More so, if you like to read a book that does not touch the core subject!!  So much for the first book from the bibliography that was given in support of Abiogenesis.

Actually the 380 page books is nothing except a narrative of how one person after another thought about complexity, met each other, shared their ideas and came to new insights. However, there is nothing more. At least twice I checked whether it was a book of science or that of historical fiction.

This is not a “science” book at all. Nor even a popular science book. Hard scientific data, facts, observations, etc are sorely missing from the book. It does not introduce any scientific laws about Complexity that were discovered. In summary, here is a book that leaves you where you were before reading the book – I mean, if you were looking for scientific or mathematical facts.

If this is going to be the story of the other books waiting on my table to be read, then Abiogenesis definitely stands upon chaotic grounds as I have always been saying and no amount of this Chaos/Complexity quicksand would do the proponents of abiogenesis any good.

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, Journalism, Alternative Medicines, and several other fields]

Frustration with USA shipping

I have on various occasions wanted to purchase products from the USA but have found that either New Zealand is not on the list of shipping destinations, or the price of shipping is simply out of this world. Today I came across another such case.

Here is a small booklet titled Who’sAfraid of the Multiverse? by Jeff Zweerink (68 pages; $4USD to buy). I added two of these to the cart and went to the checkout … only to find:

United States Postal Service
Priority Mail International – $ 27.25
Express Mail International (EMS) – $ 32.25

Federal Express
International Priority – $ 66.61

Wow, that’s about $50 NZD minimum shipping charge. Ouch :-( !

I don’t want to bash Christian ministries that are often overworked and understaffed, but I really do think that USA Christians (generally) need to be more globally focussed and a little less focussed on the US market as if it is the only one that exists.

In fact, many non-US Christians are desperate for materials but cannot acess them easily or at reasonable price. Is this really helpful in the big picture?

Even a pay-for PDF download option for non-US customers could be useful at times.

God and A Life of Meaning

This month, J. P. Moreland, the distinguished professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, releases a new book dealing with the search for meaning and the existence of God: The God Question. If there is one thing that both theists and skeptics can agree on, it is that we should all endeavour to answer the question of life’s meaning. For a philosophy that takes God as the starting point, life is defined by the ideas and precepts that are revealed by His character and purpose for humanity. For a philosophy that views life apart from God, there may seem to be a kaleidoscopic array of choices, but ultimately no way in which to judge one better than the other.

Moreland writes at a time when he sees the West increasingly unable to live with its decision to exile God into the periphery of its consciousness. With a dizzying panoply of infatuations and celebrity-endorsed pleasures, many in the West still struggle with the gnawing realisation that a life lived solely for the high-speed pursuit of success has not delivered the meaning it was meant to. Although we grow richer, garner more leisure time, and enjoy a higher standard of living, many have become unable to find happiness and, instead, are much more likely to be depressed and anxiety-filled than people of other generations.

In his book, Moreland, draws attention to several features identified in a study on anxiety and depression by psychologist Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano: (1) the pace of modern life: our resistance to depression and anxiety that is weakened by the breakneck speed of our lives. (2) the loss of a sense of community and deep connectedness with others beyond the superficial: we don’t have the relational connection we need for support and strength in finding a way out of unhappiness. And finally (3) the emergence of moral relativism: we lack the intellectual framework required to admit that there is a right and wrong way to approach life and to fuel the energy we need to seek, find, and live in light of the right approach.
The God Question is an endeavour to approach these issues with the conviction that it is the loss of confidence in the truth and knowability of a biblical worldview that lies at the root of our cultural condition. Moreland writes with the express purpose to show that we can know that God does exist and this matters. With God and an abundant, grounded life encountered in a relationship with Jesus Christ, every decision becomes ultimately meaningful, anchored by this reference point. The book is not an inacessible, technical one. Unlike Moreland’s Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview or Scaling the Secular City, it is an approachable reflection of conversational apologetics that is similar to Lewis’ Mere Christianity or Strobel’s The Case for Christ. Moreland is a sharp thinker and one of the most gifted apologists in Evangelicalism, and this would be the kind of book that would be great to give away to a friend who might be searching for answers.

The Chapter headings:

Part 1: Why Can’t We Be Happy?
1. Why Can’t I Be Happy?
2. Hope for a Culture of Bored and Empty Selves
Part 2: Is There a Real Solution to Our Dilemma?
3. The Question of God, Part 1
4. The Question of God, Part 2
5. The Luminous Nazarene
6. My Own Journey as Jesus’ Apprentice
Part 3: How Can the Solution Help Me Change?
7. Rethinking the Whole Thing
8. Two Essentials for Getting Good at Life
9. Avoiding the Three Jaws of Defeat
10. How to Unclog Your Spiritual Arteries and Develop the Heart to Work with God
Part 4: Is This Life All There Is?
11. From Here to Eternity

J. P. Moreland has degrees in philosophy, theology, and chemistry, and has taught j-p-morelandtheology and philosophy at several schools throughout the U.S. He has authored or co-authored books including Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview; Christianity and the Nature of Science; Scaling the Secular City; Does God Exist?; Immortality: The Other Side of Death; and The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Times. He is co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Being Human and Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. His work appears in journals such as Christianity Today, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and The American Philosophical Quarterly. He has served with Campus Crusade for 10 years, planted two churches, and has spoken on over 200 college campuses. (Source = the Biola website).

Read Moreland’s brief introduction to his book here.

Atheists and objective morality

Casey Luskin from ID The Future recently interviewed (podcast here) Professor Bradley Monton. For me this was an especially interesting interview for a number of reasons:

  1. Bradley (like me) has done work on understanding quantum physics.
  2. Bradley (like me) started studying physics, then discovered philosophy and got hooked on it!
  3. Bradley has written a book manuscript on Intelligent Design
  4. Bradley is going to do a debate on “Intelligent Design and the Existence of God” and is speaking for the pro-ID side (against Lawrence Krauss and another)
  5. Bradley (unlike me) is an atheist!

Unlike many atheists, Bradley sounds like he is interested in looking at the evidence, and is not interested in pursuing fundamentalist-Dawkins-style-nastiness.

Anyway, that interesting stuff aside, Bradley also believes in objective morality. In fact, he offered Casey Luskin the opportunity to hear it, but the podcast was short and it was off topic. Perhaps it will be picked up on a later podcast — well, I hope so anyway.

Here is a short article from Bradley, justifying his “objective morality” claim. What do you think? Is it convincing? Here is the relevant text:

This gets at a standard Philosophy 101 topic, the Euthyphro Dilemma. Is killing an innocent person wrong because God says that it’s wrong, or does God say that killing an innocent person is wrong because it really is objectively wrong? Some people, like Joseph A., believe that God determines what is objectively morally wrong or right. If God says that it’s morally permissible to rape children, then it’s morally permissible. In contrast, I say that, even if God exists, the objective moral standards aren’t set by God. If God were to say that raping children is morally permissible, that wouldn’t make it morally permissible; it would just mean that God is incorrect.

Most theists think that it’s impossible for God to be incorrect, so in practice God would always prescribe the correct moral view. But it doesn’t follow from the fact that God always prescribes the correct moral view that God is the source of morality.

I’m not an expert in this argument, but I suspect Bradley has misunderstood Euthyphro’s Dilemma. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

  1. This dilemma is simply solved by understanding that morality comes neither from God’s arbitrary willing of it, not from His subservience to any cosmic objective morality, but rather morality comes directly from His character. Thus, God cannot do anything less than perfect and holy, because He is perfect and holy.
  2. If “objective moral standards aren’t set by God”, then where do they come from? If the universe is only material, how did objective morals arise from a material-only universe?
  3. From (2), I would argue that without God, objective moral values cannot exist, thus the atheist is left with a worldview where he cannot even comment coherently on rights and wrongs as these categories cannot be objective — only subjective. They are non-existent categories.
  4. Finally, unless “God is the source of morality”, I cannot see how right and wrong can be anything more than preferences.

Where am I going wrong in my thinking about this? Comments appreciated.