Session Notes

What We Will Learn Today

  1. Additional Apologetic Issues to Cover
  2. The Problem of Evil
  3. The Problem of Miracles
  4. The Problem of Pluralism
  5. The Proper Use of Apologetics
  6. The Problem of Miracles introduction


Christianity is based on a miracle (ie the resurrection)

Challenge #1: Miracles, while they may or may not, cannot be accounted for historically.

  1. People tend to view the issue abstractly or philosophically
  2. They assume that there is uniform experience against miracles, by saying ‘Since most people haven’t witnessed a resurrection, it’s likely that miracles don’t happen, so it’s better to explain an event like this in another way’

Response: The tomb was empty on Easter morning is a historically attested fact

  1. How do we explain that fact?
  2. We must explore inductively, and look towards the evidence that we have that helps us understand it
  3. Our best accounts of what happened are the Gospel accounts, as we talked about in our last session
    1. The authors staked their entire lives on this; it would be a psychological miracle if they all went to their death knowing this was just a lie
    2. Similarly, if someone is starting a new religion, they would have started with something a bit easier to defend than a resurrection
  4. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the jews tried to cover up the empty tomb by insisting that the disciples stole the body
  5. What do we see in the evidence to support that the disciples stole the body, other than Matthew’s refutation?
    1. With in the realm of possibility, but
      1. All of the disciples were jewish and believed that it was absolutely forbidden to go near a dead body
      2. All of the disciples, again, went to their death defending the resurrection
  6. The problem of miracles is not a problem with the evidence. It is a philosophical problem with ‘a priori’ assumptions
    1. If we’re approaching a historical event, we’re constrained to the evidence

The Problem of Evil

  1. The best book on the subject is the ‘Problem of Evil’
  2. There are a lot ways people argue this
    1. Philosophically, they may say that there is a logical impossibility that evil exists and God exists
    2. Evidentially, there seems to be overwhelming evidence against a good and loving God

Responses to these arguments

  1. There is no possible way to have moral absolutes without God
    1. Therefore, there is no objective category called ‘evil’ without an objective category called ‘God’
  2. Therefore, an atheist cannot appeal to evil

Common question: Why, if God cares, doesn’t he step in and stop this?

  1. This is not always an apologetic issue...
  2. Often, this is more of a psychological issue, that doesn't require a defense of a philosophical stance
  3. It’s possible that someone is just hurting
  1. The Christian Answer to the Problem of Evil
    1. Sin brought evil to this world
    2. All of creation groans under the weight of Adam and Eve’s fall
    3. Allows us to hold on to the idea that God is all-loving and all-powerful and evil exists
  2. You can also explain through free-will
    1. If God is truly all-powerful and all-loving, then he had to give his creation free-will and the ability to reject him
    2. If he didn’t, and instead followed them around and made sure they never did anything wrong, it wouldn’t be free will

The Problem of Pluralism

  1. In a postmodern context, where there is a lack of capital ‘T’ truth, the problem is a deeper philosophical problem
  2. In response to questions like: “How can Christians claim that they have a corner on the truth?”
    1. We can’t say anything is absolutely true without a word from outside
    2. Christianity can actually make a factual, historical case for that, unlike every other religion
  3. If we appeal to basic laws of logic, we can see how pluralism does work
    1. If a religion is true,
    2. And other religions contradict it,
    3. That means, the other religions are false
  4. If we make a case for Christianity by testing it, by default, other religions are false
    1. This may not be emotionally appealing but it logically true
  5. All other religions teach, in way or another, teach that virtue and noble behavior is necessary for salvation
    1. The one religion that says contrary to that is Christianity
      1. “No one can be saved by the works of the law
    2. This doesn’t prove christianity true, but it does at least make a case for starting with Christianity first when looking for a religion to follow

Final Review and closing thoughts

  1. This course has only covered the basics, so there’s much more to dig into
  2. Final question: When is the appropriate occasion for Apologetics?
    1. Should you seek out debates with atheist, or should it be done differently?
  3. In short, it can be done in many circumstances
    1. When it is done is determined by the context of your vocation
    2. Examples:
      1. As an educator, you have opportunities with students to discuss the historical underpinnings of the Christian faith
      2. As a parent or pastor you have opportunities as well
  4. Opportunities for Apologetics today
    1. The rise of Islam
    2. Atheism becoming popular again
    3. Postmodern critique of truth
  5. Some apologetic topics only need be learned as needed in particular contexts

We should always remember that:

  1. Keep in mind the words of the bible: To defend your faith ‘with gentleness and respect’
  2. It’s always worth being humble. If you don’t have an answer, don’t make one up