Tag Archives: Apologetics

Should we all be agnostics?

Let’s say you find the Moral Argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, or some other argument for God compelling, does this mean you should be a Christian? Not necessarily. What do these arguments really say?

What can we know from logic and our senses?

First, they show that some Supreme Being exists (for brevity I’ll henceforth refer to this Being as God). It is not irrational to believe in God. In fact, the evidence points strongly in the direction of theistic belief. Second, they say something about God’s nature.

From the cosmological arguments we can see that God must be outside of the universe, He must be timeless, He must be uncaused, He must be a necessary being (from Leibniz). On top of that, he seems to be some sort of Mind or Will which could decide to create one sort of world as opposed to another. We would then describe Him as a Creator. He must be free, for if He were constrained then that higher constraint would be what we mean by God.

From the moral argument we can see that He is the source and foundation of all moral goodness, and from that goodness, issues commands which are to us the foundation for our moral obligations.

We might add to this knowledge evidence from the world we see around us. God has created a world of life, a world with recognizable beauty, and the capacity of His creatures to recognize His existence. Yet we also live in a world of great pain, confusion, and a proliferation of different perspectives on life.

The limitations of our logic and senses

This observational evidence is ambiguous. It requires an interpretation. It tells us something, but we’re not exactly sure what. From our observations and logical capacities, we can confidently say some things about God, but there’s much more we would have to leave unsaid.

Add to that the fact that we are finite and limited creatures seeking to understand an Infinite and Unlimited Being. Given such a vast ontological gap, how could we even begin to say anything intelligible about this Being. I recently read a quote that said: “Show me a worm that can comprehend man and I’ll show you a man that can comprehend God.” This was written by a Christian preacher intended to invoke worship, but in me it was a temptation to despair. The worm is too limited to think or speak intelligibly about man. Are we too limited to know or say anything intelligible about God?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the list of things we can say about God are limited if, that is, our knowledge comes only from our own seeking.

But there’s another way in which we might know God and be able to believe and say more than a limited number of things about Him: He would have to communicate with us.

The nature of revelation

At this point it will be useful to bring in the theological word “revelation”. When applied to God it refers to God showing Himself to humanity. We’ve already seen two ways in which He does this – the physical and moral world. He made a physical and moral world which are accessible through physical and moral senses. However, as we’ve seen, this is insufficient to say a great many other things about God, for that we need a more specific form of revelation, what theologians call “special revelation.”

Here’s where language comes in. Given that we have the capacity for abstract thought through language, that seems like the mostly likely means by which God could give us such a revelation. He could speak to us in a number of ways. He could verbally communicate (a voice from heaven), he could communicate directly to our minds (think an inner, real, but inaudible voice). He could send supernatural messengers. Etc.

Now, this communication, if always private in nature, could create a problem. What would prevent someone from claiming to speak on behalf of God? (Indeed, what does today?) It would make sense, then, for there to be some sort of authoritative source written down which could be referred to again and again to test a supposed “revelation” against.

In this way God could communicate truth about Himself, about us humans, and about our world in a way that is both comprehensible and authoritative. But, the question is, did He in fact do these things and, if He did produce such a book, which one?

And that takes me to the end of this post. Christians, myself included, believe that God has indeed communicated to us in this way, and that this communication is what we find in the Bible. The defense of that argument is the subject of the next post.


The Kalam Cosmological Argument: The ultimate Cause of the Universe

Diving right in to apologist William Lane Craig’s favorite argument for God, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is as follows:

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause

Premise 2: The universe began to exist

Conclusion: The universe has a cause

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause

Like premise 1 of Leibniz’s cosmological argument (anything that exists has a reason for its existence), this premise is self-evident and is constantly confirmed by our daily experience. We don’t see horses, tigers, or people just pop into existence out of nowhere. Even in science fiction, if something materializes, it does so from another place or another dimension by some causal mechanism. Everything has a cause, even if we don’t know what it is.

Yet, two objections might be raised.

Objection 1: Does this apply to God? Does God need a cause for His existence? The answer is in the premise – “whatever begins to exist…” God, in the theistic sense, had no beginning and no end. He is eternal. Specifically, most theologians would argue that He exists outside of time and that, in fact, He is the Creator of time itself. The idea that God is outside of time might be mysterious (being that we are time-bound creators) but it is not illogical or incomprehensible.

Objection 2: That everything begins to exist has a cause is true at the level of Newtonian physics, but is it true at the level of quantum physics? Isn’t it true that sub-atomic particles can appear out of nowhere uncaused? Again, the answer is no. Quantum mechanics does apparently describe indeterministic probabilities, but not exactly uncaused events. Second, sub-atomic particles do not appear in nothingness or out of nothingness, but into a “sub-atomic vacuum”, which is itself “a rich structure governed by physical laws.” You don’t get sub-atomic particles ex nihilo.

Premise 2: The universe began to exist

One need not have a creationist’s view of Genesis to agree with this premise (though it coincides well with this premise). In fact, one doesn’t need a Bible at all to agree with this premise. Science itself – even apart from belief in God – points to the universe itself having a beginning.

The mostly widely accepted view of the origin of the universe is the Standard Model, also called the Big Bang theory. This theory was developed when scientists started looking out into the cosmos and observed that all the galaxies were moving away from each other, that the universe was getting less and less dense.

If that trend were reversed over time (if we went back in time) we would see the universe getting more and more dense until it was at a state of infinite density. But that’s not to say that before this point, called the singularity, this infinite ball of matter was just sitting there waiting to explode. No, before this point (if we can speak of a “before”) there would have been nothing. In fact, it would have been at this point – or immediately thereafter – that space and time, that the universe, began to exist.

In the scientific community there have been numerous attempts to overthrow this theory in order to imagine an infinite universe without a beginning, but none have been successful (oscillating models aren’t truly infinite – the oscillation could only occur so many times – and multi-verse models still need a point of origination, it is just pushed further back). There are also philosophical reasons to believe that the universe had a beginning, like the question of how we could ever get to “here” if we had to count up from infinity (hint: we’d never get to a “here”).

A final note: The Kalam cosmological argument does not rest on the theory of the Big Bang, but it does serve as evidence that whether we think about the world theologically, scientifically, or philosophically, the conclusion is inescapable: the universe began to exist.

Conclusion: The universe had a cause

It logically follows that the universe had a cause. So, could the universe have caused itself? I’ve heard this argued on a couple of occasions. In one case, it was argued that the laws of the universe could have caused the universe, but that still leaves out the question of the origination of the laws of the universe (and is very scientifically dubious, even the person arguing for it admitted that). From a logical perspective, a self-caused universe is illogical, for it would mean that the universe would have had to existed prior to the universe existing, which is contradictory.

It follows then, that the universe had a cause and that Cause exists outside the universe and is different from the universe.

What can we learn about God from this argument, besides that He exists? We learn that He is the Creator of all things. A Being of this nature would be exceedingly powerful and would have to a will to create. He must exist outside of time and outside of the universe. Add this to the moral argument and the Leibnizian cosmological argument and we can begin to have a clearer picture of the nature of God.

Book Recommendation

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision

Everything has a Reason for its Existence. The ultimate Reason is God.

We now move on to Leibniz’s Cosmological Argument. (A summary of the argument from William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith)

Premise 1: Anything that exists has a reason for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature, or in an external cause.

Premise 2: If the universe has a reason for its existence, then that reason is God.

Premise 3: The universe exists.

Premise 4: Therefore, the universe has a reason for its existence (following from 1 and 3)

Therefore, the explanation of the reason of the universe is God (following from 2 and 4)

Premise 1: Anything that exists has a reason for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature, or in an external cause.

This premise matches our every day experience. Look around you: Everything you see has a cause for its existence. Nothing appears out of nowhere without reason. This premise is constantly confirmed by experience and forms the basis of scientific inquiry.

Imagine you are walking in the woods with your friend and you come across a semi-translucent ball. You might ask: Why does this ball exist? You might not know the reason – perhaps it was left by a fellow traveler, or perhaps it is an especially unusual rock formation. Either way, you’re justified in thinking it didn’t just appear without reason.

For this premise, size doesn’t matter. Would you be any less justified in asking about the reason for the mysterious ball if it were the size of a house, a planet, or the universe? No, everything has a reason for its existence.

You might notice the qualification on this premise: “either in the necessity of its own nature, or in an external cause.” This premise is important because, one might ask, if everything has a reason for its existence, and God exists, then does God need a reason for His existence? And wouldn’t the just send us back on into an infinity of “whys”?

The answer to this dilemma is that the theistic idea of God is that God exists “by the necessity of His own existence.” What theistic arguments for God are trying to prove, is a reason for the contingent universe, a Reason behind all reasons, a Cause behind all causes. So, this is isn’t really an objection to a theistic version of God, since the God which Christians believe in exists by necessity of His own nature.

But are Christians just arbitrarily assigning this necessary existence to God? I don’t think so. First, again, this is exactly the sort of Being we’re trying to demonstrate exists. Second, there are potentially other “things” which exist by the nature of their being, such as mathematical principles. Physical objects or properties, though, are not necessary beings, but are contingent beings. The reason for their existence is some external cause.

Premise 2: If the universe has a reason for its existence, then that reason is God.

At first glance this seems like a bold claim, but we are not yet describing what this God is like. The argument isn’t saying, the reason for the existence of the universe is the Christian God, but God in a more general sense, as some self-existence, necessary Being. If the universe includes all contingent physical/temporal reality, then we must look outside the universe for some ultimate Reason, which theists describe as God.

Premise 3: The universe exists. No objections here, I presume.

Premise 4: Therefore, the universe has a reason for its existence.

This premise logically follows from 1 and 3. If everything that exists has a reason for its existence, and the universe exists, then the universe has a reason for its existence.

Here, or perhaps at premise 2, one could object that if God exists by the necessity of His existence, why couldn’t we say that the universe exists by the necessity of its existence? Or, to put it another way, some might argue that the premise “everything that exists has a reason for its existence” applies to everything in the universe, but not the universe itself.

My first observation is that in doing this, the atheist ascribes a divine attribute to the universe – self-existence. It might be hard at this point to differentiate between a necessary self-existent Universe from the self-existent God of the Leibniz cosmological argument, except that perhaps one is impersonal and one is personal.

Second, its hard to see how a materialist or naturalist is warranted in ascribing this self-existence to the universe. If everything they see in the universe is contingent, then on what basis would the summation of all those things, be necessary? And, if the universe is not the summation of all things in the universe, but more than the universe, then aren’t we just using Universe as a different word for God?

Therefore, the explanation of the reason of the universe is God (following from 2 and 4)

It logically follows, then, that the reason, or explanation, or cause, of the universe is God.


The Leibniz Cosmological Argument provides a strong demonstration of some ultimate, self-existent, necessary being which we call God, but it doesn’t go much further. If this was all we had, we could be left with the Deist conception of God, that Being which “wound up”  the universe and then stepped away.

But when combined with the Moral Argument we can learn more about this Necessarily Existing Being, as a Personal and perfectly good Law Giver.

Up next… the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Book Recommendation

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision

Does God Exist? The Moral Argument

On March 7, I’m going to be starting a Facebook Live series: “Is Christianity True?” The intent of series is to explore the truth of Christianity. The schedule for the series is as follows:

March 7 – Does God exist? The Moral Argument

March 14 – Does God exist? The Cosmological Argument

March 21 – Can God be known and is the Bible reliable?

March 28 – Did Jesus rise from the dead?

April 4 – How could a good God allow suffering?

April 11 – Has science disproved religion?

April 18 – Is religion harmful?

April 25 – Q & A

If you’re interested in following the series, “Like” the Facebook page Wyoming Park Bible Fellowship and be prepared to tune in on the dates above, from 7:15 – 7:45.

The most basic question one must answer, not only the Christian, but anyone, is this: Does God exist? There are strong reasons to believe that He does, and the two most compelling reasons, at least for me, are the first two topics of this series: The Moral Argument and The Cosmological Argument. The Moral Argument reasons that if an objective Moral Law exists, a moral Lawgiver must also exist. The Cosmological Argument reasons that there must be a source or origin outside the universe, an unmoved Mover or Creator. The Moral Argument reasons from moral intuitions and the Cosmological from philosophy and, to a large degree, from science.

The Moral Argument

I start with the Moral Argument. I take as my two primary sources C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, book 1, and William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, chapter 4. Each frame the argument a little differently, but Craig’s approach is more systematic, so I adopt his outline.

The Moral Argument can be framed as follows:

  • If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  • Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  • Therefore, God exists

Step 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

What do we mean by “objective moral values and duties”? By objective we mean that something is right or wrong, good or evil, independently of what people think or perceive. For instance, if the Nazi’s had successfully killed or brainwashed everyone who disagreed with their worldview, would the Holocaust still be evil? A person who believes in objective moral values, believes that, even if no one recognized it as such, the Holocaust would still be evil.

The question remains, then, if God does not exist, could this still be true? Could we find the Holocaust objectively evil? There are two primary worldviews we must consider here, the Naturalist (or Materialist) worldview, and the Theistic worldview. By Naturalist, I mean, the belief that there is nothing outside of our material universe, that there is not God or Lawgiver.

Could a Naturalist find a basis for exists of objective morals and duties? It doesn’t appear so. And, in fact, many explicitly deny that we should. For instance, prominent atheist Richard Dawkins declares “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, not good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA… It is every living object’s sole reason for being” (Craig quoting Dawkins). On the Naturalist account of the world “moral values are just by-products of socio-biological evolution” (Craig).

The most detailed account of this “socio-biological evolution” I have read is Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. Haidt aims to provide (1) a sociological description of our “moral intuitions” and (2) an explanation of where they came from. He argues that they are the product of, first, biological evolutionary processes and then social processes. But he is careful to note that he isn’t referring to any objective reality when he speaks of morality. Instead, for Haidt, morality is what is good for the propagation of the tribe. Morality itself, as an objective reality, is an illusion.

On the Naturalistic view, there is no objective difference between a human and any other animal. Those who believe otherwise are guilty of speciesism. But we don’t hold animals to be moral agents. In nature, a hawk that captures a fish kills it, but does not murder it. And a second hawk that takes that same fish from the first hawk takes it but does not steal it. In the animal kingdom, rape and incest are frequent events, but we do not pass moral judgments on those species for whom it is common. Why should hold humans to a moral standard, especially if no objective moral standard exists?

The Naturalist must conclude, then, that our moral intuitions are rooted not in moral objectivity, but either in the accidental path of our biological evolution, or the even more accidental nature of our habits, customs, feelings, or fashions.

I don’t want you to misunderstand the argument. I’m not saying that you can’t be a descent person without believing in God. And I’m not saying that a person can’t recognize objective value in human beings apart from believing in God. Indeed, experience tells us that it is possible to recognize that humans are objectively morally different from animals and that objective morals and duties do exist, even without belief in God. This is what we see in Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. He cannot help by draw moral conclusions and declare moral duties, even though at the back of it all, he “knows” them to be mere illusions.

The Christian should expect this. Christians believe that God has given us each a sense of right and wrong, and that the only way to deny its reality is to consciously suppress that truth. Even if we succeed in adopting a sort of moral nihilism, though, we cannot help but make moral judgments as though there were really an external moral law to which we could appeal. Craig is careful to draw out this distinction in framing the argument: “I’m contending that theism is necessary that there might be moral goods and duties, not that we might discern the moral goods and duties that there are.” The question for the moral argument isn’t whether or not we’re able to see moral goods and duties – most everyone can – but whether or not they actually exist, or could exist apart from God.

Step 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.  

C.S. Lewis begins Mere Christianity by reminding us of a scene we’ve witnessed many times: A quarrel.

“Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?’ – ‘That’s my seat, I was here first’ – ‘Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm’”

What we learn, says Lewis, is that when people argue in this way they aren’t merely saying that they don’t like what the other person’s actions. Instead, they are appealing to some standard of fairness or compassion or empathy, which the other person has violated. This “standard” Lewis calls the Moral Law. It is what we would refer to in this context as the “objective moral values and duties.”

Now, most people recognize that this Moral Law really exists, and not only subjectively in our minds, but objectively in reality. Child abuse, rape, and genocide are evil. They violate an immutable Moral standard. Larry Nassar’s abuse of hundreds of girls was objectively wrong. We don’t simply say that we didn’t like what he did, or that it was harmful to “propagation of the tribe.” We sense in our bones, that it was really evil.

Yet, some have argued against such an account of reality. For instance, is the argument that our moral intuitions developed from “natural” biological processes, a reason to doubt those moral intuitions. If Haidt’s theory of the origin of this “moral sense” were correct, should we doubt the reality of a moral law? No. If you believe that your eyesight developed through biological evolution, would you thus doubt the objectivity of the reality which you see? That would be preposterous. At best, this argument would show (if it shows anything) how we came to sense the Moral Law, not whether or not such a Moral Law actually exists.

Again, one could argue that there can be no such Moral Law because different people and different groups have such different conceptions of what is right and wrong. Yet, Lewis points out that these differences are not so divergent after all. There are differences, to be sure, but there are even more points of agreement. And, in the case where there are differences, we intuitively judge between those differences.

Lewis, writing during the age of World War II, asks whether or not we can judge between the British and the Nazi’s: “What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom know as well as we did and ought to have practiced? If they had no notion of what we meant by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair.” In fact, we recognize the difference in the moral visions between the Nazi’s and the Allies, we judge them against a Standard, and we find the Nazi’s vision corrupted and twisted. How can we speak of moral progress, of say the abolition of slavery, if there is not some goal to which we are progressing?

Martin Luther King Jr. is credited as saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”[1] Did his words have meaning? If we think they did, we’re agreeing with his vision of a “moral universe” and some standard called “justice” to which it could conform.

Practically, moral relativism ultimately breaks down. One moment we’ll be saying there is no Good or Evil, and the next we’ll notice some evil done to us. “It’s not fair! It’s unjust! How could they?” Or, perhaps, we’ll from the perspective moral relativism, judge those who establish a moral system we find constricting. But what are we judging them against? If it’s all a preference, how could we weigh our freedom of greater value that their restrictions? The words and feelings remain, but they have lost their meaning.

Indeed, I doubt whether anyone can really live consistently in a state of moral nihilism. I am thankful, in fact, that this doesn’t appear possible. Our moral intuitions give us a sense of moral reality, just as our physical senses give us a picture of physical reality. To deny either is to risk epistemological suicide.

Step 3: Therefore, God exists

Since it can be established that moral objective duties and values exist and that no reason for their existence can be found in a world without God, it follows that God exists.

What sort of God exists? First, He must be the source of that objective goodness, that Moral Law or standard against which we are able to judge everything else. If such a standard exists, it must exist in God. Secondly, if there are to be moral duties, if those standards are to apply to us in a meaningful sense, then He must also give us moral commands. He is the source of moral goodness – which exists as part of His essence – and he is the source of moral duties – which issue as binding commands directly from His nature.

Based on this argument alone, we’re still a long ways off from Biblical Christianity, but that’s why there are eight sessions in the series.

What questions does this post bring up? What objections might be brought against the Moral Argument?

Book Recommendations 

Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics


[1] Martin Luther King did say this, but he was quoting Theodore Parker. Also, my view of history is not as optimistic here. Every time we take a step forward – as we did in the civil rights movement – we take a step backwards. Justice will be fulfilled on the earth, but it will come in a flash, not in a slow arc.

How does C.S. Lewis’s moral argument stand up against evolutionary explanations of moral development?

My online book club (The Bookcaneers) is reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis as our first book. In the first part of the book Lewis presents the Moral Argument as a clue to the existence of God. Briefly stated, his argument is that the universality of a moral sense of Right and Wrong points us to a Lawgiver.

One question presented in the Book Club discussion was this one: How would Lewis respond to modern the arguments from evolutionary biology that say that our moral senses are the result of an evolutionary process – and thus do not point to something “outside” the system, like a personal God? 

Here was my take on the question:

First, our questions are not unique to our time, nor were they foreign to Lewis. During Lewis’s time, the idea that morality was the result of an evolutionary process was pretty common. In fact, he addresses this when he describes the “herd instinct” in book 1, chapter 2. The idea was that evolutionary development which helped the “herd” would be passed on and these evolutionary developments are what are identified as “morality.”

For a time, though, this idea fell out of favor among evolutionary biologists because of what is called the “free rider” problem. “Free riders” in the herd (the selfish, amoral ones) would take advantage of the goodwill of the herd it it would be those free riders that passed on their genes, not the “kinder” individuals. For biologists who argued that evolution was strictly individualistic, “morality” doesn’t arise because of an evolutionary process, but as result of social structures within society. As far as I am aware (via The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt) a significant number of evolutionary biologists, including atheist Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene), still hold to this view.

However, with the advent of “moral psychology” the “herd” theory is making comeback, and Jonathan Haidt presents a more complex version of this view in The Righteous Mind. He refers to it as the “hive” mind and contrasts it with the “primate” mind. The “hive” mind causes us to be more kind and compassionate, to care about fairness and freedom, to believe in the “sanctity” of things, etc. This “hive” mind wars against the “primate” mind which just wants us to be selfish.

First, I’m unconvinced by Haidt’s conclusions. He presents plausible explanations, but he in no way proves them. And he acknowledges that his view is a minority position.

But how would Lewis respond? Lewis acknowledges the possibility of “herd instincts” which arise out of some natural process, but he argues that these instincts are not what he is referring to when he talks about the Moral Law. He observes that we sometimes have multiple competing moral instincts, but that we do not blindly follow those moral instincts. Instead, we judge between those instincts. The Moral Law is not any one of those instincts, but is the judge between those instincts saying, “follow this instinct here” or “that instinct there.” In the language of Haidt, the Moral Law is what judges between the “hive” mind and the “primate” mind, or between the different “intuitions” of the hive mind (freedom, compassion, authority, sanctity, etc.)

In fact, this is exactly what we see Haidt do. He makes moral judgments between the instincts, but he isn’t able to justify his choice. He believes the moral sense to be disconnected from any true Right and Wrong, but he makes plenty of moral judgments. I see the Moral Law at work in his book, even though he would deny it. A description of our moral instincts can provide a plausible explanation for what is, but the Moral Law allows us to judge what ought, and this inescapable sense of the ought is what Lewis refers to as the Moral Law and points us to God.

Two more notes on the topic:

1) If we see Moral Law as only social convention, or the product of instinct, then at a minimum we have no way to really say that Nazi Germany was evil, at least in some objective sense. At a minimum, we could only say that we don’t like it, or that it causes suffering. But again, we can’t say that suffering itself is evil (for the simple reason that evil doesn’t exist).

2) Eminent biologist/geneticist Francis Collins (led the human genome project) discusses this in his book “The Language of God”. He himself was an atheist who came to faith in large part because of Mere Christianity. He argues that while evolution could account for some moral traits like “reciprocal altruism” (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine) he doesn’t believe it can ever account for true altruism – such as Jesus’s commands to love your enemy, or to help those who have no possible way of helping you in return, etc.

Book Recommendations

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Mere Christianity

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

Apologetics Roundup (Book Recommendations)

As preparation for a recent Sunday Night series at church I read a number of apologetics books. Here’s a brief roundup of what I read:

Despite Doubt: This book served as our primary guide. It seeks to correct a common error in Christianity, the divorce of faith from knowledge. Wittmer’s thesis is that faith means committing to what we know, not to what we don’t.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism: Tim Keller’s book is excellent on multiple levels. He answers some tough objections to the Christian faith such as “There can’t be just one true religion” and “Science has disproved Christianity.” His answers are rigorous and intellectually satisfying.

Raised? This short and concise book specifically addresses the question, “Did the resurrection actually occur?” The authors do a fine job of demonstrating the truth of the resurrection and of drawing out some of its implications.

The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity (Case for … Series): It’s an oldie but a goodie. I didn’t read the whole thing, just the chapter on Hell, which is very well written. This was an important book for my wife when she first got serious about her faith as a teenager.

Bonus: Where the Real Conflict Lies: Plantinga’s thesis is that there is a real conflict between science and naturalism and only apparent conflicts between science and theism. This is a heavy book, but important for anyone struggling with how religion and science can go together.

What apologetics books have you found most helpful in life? What would you recommend to others?

Being upside down (a reason why Christianity is superior to Atheism)

It is a mistake to put the subjective reasons for belief before the objective. It is a mistake to be a Christian simply out of personal preference, because it makes life more bearable, or because it provides a greater degree of “happiness.” To use religion in such a way turns it on its head and turns God from master of the Universe to servant of our felt needs. You ought to be a Christian because God calls, because He provided a way in Jesus, and because He is worthy of our worship.

However, the beauty of Christianity is that, while subjective experience is not the end of religion, it is most certainly a blessed by-product. And so, with my rather lengthy prelude, I present a wonderful (albeit subjective), reason why Christianity is superior to Atheism:

It’s from G.K. Chesterton, of course:

He begins by comparing Christianity to Paganism:

“It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Christianity of sorrow … Such conflicts mean nothing and lead nowhere. Everything human must have in it both joy and sorrow; the only matter of interest is the manner in which the two things are balanced or divided. And the really interesting thing is this, that the pagan was (in the main) happier and happier as he approached the earth, but sadder and sadder as he approached the heavens. … To the pagan the small things are as sweet as the small brooks breaking out of the mountain; but the broad things are as bitter as the sea. When the pagan looks at the very core of the cosmos he is struck cold. Behind the gods, who are merely despotic, sit the fates, who are deadly. Nay, the fates are worse than deadly; they are dead. And when rationalists say the ancient world was more enlightened than Christianity, from their point of view they are right. For when they say “enlightened” they mean darkened with incurable despair.

In this way, paganism is much like modern Atheism:

“The common bond is in the fact that ancients and moderns have both been miserable about existence, about everything, while mediaevals were happy about that at least.”

Chesterton contends that this fact, that “the mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones,” is not the natural state of man. Men who live like this, he says, have been born upside down:

“The skeptic may be truly said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstasies, while his brain is in the abyss.”

Christianity presents the exact opposite perspective:

“Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is small and pitiful stillness… Joy, which is the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.