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Sean McDowell and Michael Shermer talk about the Fine-Tuning of the Universe, Objective Morality, and the Evidence for God

Christian apologist Sean McDowell and skeptic Michael Shermer discuss whether theism or atheism better explains morality and the universe. McDowell is a great communicator and the videos are a good introduction to the issues involved in the debate. The conversation was hosted by Cross Examination, a show produced by The Salvation Army to stimulate thinking and discussion.

Objective morality and God: Part 1

Objective morality and God: Part 2:

The Fine-Tuning of the Universe:

Does atheism or theism better explain the universe?:

Evidence and God:

Video and Audio: Ahmanson Lectures on the Reliability of the Bible

The Ahmanson Lecture Series is an annual apologetics seminar held at Saddleback Church in Southern California. This year’s topic was the trustworthiness of the Bible, with a great lineup of guests speakers including Sean McDowell, Paige Patterson, Frank Turek, and Douglas R. Groothuis.

I’ve embedded the video from the talks below. If you’re having trouble accessing the links, you can also get the lectures on iTunes.

Why Historians Take the Gospel Seriously: John Dickson
Audio | Video

Dr. John Dickson (PhD) is a historian, author, and public advocate for the Christian faith. As the director of the Centre for Public Christianity (publicchristianity.org), he regularly writes for secular newspapers and appears in the media promoting thoughtful Christianity. Dr. Dickson is also the presenter of the historical documentaries—The Christ Files and Life of Jesus, and is Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Ancient History at Australia’s Macquarie University.

The Reliability of the New Testament: Sean McDowell
Audio | Video

Sean McDowell serves as head of the Bible Department at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools where he teaches Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics. He has co-authored several books, speaks at conferences in the United States and abroad, and has a passion for reaching the younger generation with the message of the gospel. Listed among the top 100 apologists, Mr. McDowell’s apologetics training was awarded Exemplary Status by the Association of Christian Schools International.

Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth: Frank Turek
Audio | Video

Dr. Frank Turek is the founder of CrossExamined.org and the award-winning author and coauthor of three books: I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Correct, Not Politically Correct and Legislating Morality. He spends most of his time engaging skeptics and encouraging Christians by presenting I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist at universities and colleges across the nation. A former aviator in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Turek has a Masters from George Washington University and a Doctorate from Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Following Jesus on the Reliability of Scripture: Paige Patterson
Audio | Video

Dr. Paige Patterson presently serves as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and has served as a president of institutions of higher education for almost 37 years. The focus of Dr. Patterson’s leadership is an intense commitment to evangelism and the task of global missions, based on a foundational component of demanding research and rigorous academic preparation. He has served twice as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

A Biblical View of Truth: Doug Groothuis
Audio | Video

Douglas R. Groothuis received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Oregon. He is a Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary since 1993. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Society of Christian Philosophers. Dr, Groothuis has written eleven books; most recently Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith and has published articles in several scholarly journals.

View the video from the 2010 Ahmanson lecture series here.

Is God the Best Explanation for Moral Values? The McDowell-Corbett Debate

On February 26 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, Sean McDowell and Jim Corbett squared off to debate the role of God in morality. McDowell is the son of Josh McDowell and a Christian author in his own right, while Corbett is a Capistrano Valley High School instructor.

McDowell defended two contentions on the night:

1. If God does not exist, we do not have a solid foundation for moral values.
2. If God does exist, we do have a solid foundation for moral values.

He also argued that in order for a moral system to be adequate, it must satisfy three criteria:

1. Any adequate moral system must have a transcendent standard beyond human nature.
2. Any adequate moral system must account for free will.
3. Any adequate moral system must account for what makes humans special.

Here is the video from the debate:

Part 1:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/9858218[/vimeo]

Part 2:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/9859446[/vimeo]

Or if you prefer the audio, Brian at Apologetics315 has posted the mp3.

There’s been several reactions to the debate online. Luke of  Common Sense Atheism says:  “When will atheists stop embarrassing themselves in debate? This shows the problem with atheists believing they are, by default, more rational than believers. Atheists don’t think they need to study the relevant subjects, or pay attention to the logic of the Christian’s position. Instead, they just wander in and spout some irrelevant points about the Crusades and religious disagreement. Meanwhile, the Christian can put forth whatever argument he wants – whether it’s a good argument or not – because the Christian will clearly explain why the atheist’s arguments fail, but the atheist will not clearly explain why the Christian position fails. Thus the audience leaves believing the Christian has won. And basically, he has.”

Here’s a few other links to further commentary:

Wintery Knight: Sean McDowell debates James Corbett on whether morality is grounded by atheism.

Incipit Vita Nova: Morality in the Absence of Religion

Sean McDowell: Reflections on My Recent Debate

(H/T: Apologetic Junkie)

Apologetics Study Bible for Students

The sheer volume of Bible translations, commentaries and resources available in English is staggering. While many language groups still go without the Bible in their own dialect, English has many hundreds of translations to encourage personal study, meditation and memorization. Holman Bible Publishers have added to that vast reservoir by releasing the Apologetics Study Bible for Students. HCSB is responsible for the popular Apologetics Study Bible, which sold more than 115,000 copies. This new study Bible is directed to younger Christians, with the goal of providing accessible responses to some of the central challenges to Christianity.

The study Bible uses the HCSB translation, which tries to find a middle ground between dynamic and formal equivalence (what they have termed “optimal equivalence”). Some might argue that it can sometimes favour literalness over readability but overall it is still a solid, useful translation. Edited by Sean McDowell, a leader at the Bible department of Capistrano Valley Christian Schools in California, the Apologetics Study Bible for Students also includes contributions from Josh McDowell, C. S. Lewis, Dan Kimball, Hank Hanegraaff, and others.

Some other features:

• Two-color design-intensive layout on every page

• Sixty “Twisted Scriptures” explanations (addressing eccentric Biblical interpretations by cults and others)

• Fifty “Bones & Dirt” entries (archaeology meets apologetics)

• Fifty “Notable Quotes”

• Twenty-five “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments

• Twenty “Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives

• Twenty “Top Five” lists to help remember key apologetics topics

It’s true, the Apologetics Study Bible was not without its weaknesses, but it nonetheless presented some good material from top evangelical apologists and scholars in a way that was accessible and easy to understand.  It will be exciting if this new study Bible is able to do something similar and encourage a whole new generation of Christians to become people of virtue and maturity by having renewed confidence in their Bibles and realizing that our religion is a religion of knowledge, not private faith.

(HT: Brian at Apologetics 315)