The Art of Apologetics: The three (or four) questions every worldview tries to answer

This post is a short one, and a simple one. But it is an interesting phenomenon that seems to hold true with every different worldview.

Every worldview gives answers to these three questions:

(Except for agnosticism, since the word “agnostic” simply means “not knowing”)

  1. Creation: How did the world, and we, come into being?
  2. Fall: What is wrong with the world? How did that happen?
  3. Redemption: What would fix it?

Actually, there is a fourth question that is answered, but it is not answered by every worldview…rather, it is answered by almost every worldview. And that fourth question is…

  1. Destiny: What is going to happen? Where do we go from here?

(Destiny is not answered by every worldview because in order to go that direction, you must have either “prophesy” or “prediction”.)

So as a Protestant Christian, I believe this:

  1. Creation: God created the heavens and the earth.
  2. Fall: The first woman and man disobeyed God. They, their descendants, and the earth are now under a curse.
  3. Redemption: Jesus’s death and resurrection. His death paid the price for our sins. His resurrection means that a) He wasn’t lying, nor was He crazy, but rather He actually was endorsed by God, and b) that He is alive, therefore He can help us have power over sin (because dead people commonly aren’t very helpful).
  4. Destiny: The “second coming.” Jesus will come to establish His kingdom/rulership on earth. In short, the curse created by the fall will be lifted.

However, radical atheism (you know, the “Richard Dawkins” flavor) might approach it this way…

  1. Creation: The world wasn’t created…it came to being with no guidance. Life came to be because of evolution, while the cosmos came to be via the big bang.
  2. Fall: Religion. Dogmatic beliefs in spirituality and the afterlife have suppressed natural desires and have caused numerous divisions and death. They have also stunted intellectual growth and slowed/prevented intellectual progress.
  3. Redemption: One might say tolerance, while another more militant atheist might say eradication of religion. If these happened, everything would be better.
  4. Destiny: Either a hot death or a cold death. Everything in the universe would be the same temperature. Which might not be the most comfortable temperature for us.

Or let’s look at traditional Roman Catholicism…

  1. Creation: Same as Protestant Christianity
  2. Fall: Same as Protestant Christianity
  3. Redemption: Faith in Jesus’s death and resurrection, as well as participating in the sacraments. God’s grace is sufficient, however, the sacraments are the vehicle, a channel, the way the grace gets to the recipients.
  4. Destiny: Same as Protestant Christianity

Or let’s look at Mormonism, as I understand it (If I am wrong, I need a Mormon to send me a message and correct me! I don’t want to misrepresent anyone)…

  1. Creation: Concerning the cosmos…same as Protestant Christianity. Concerning us, Mormon’s believe that we were not created at birth, but since we are children of God, we are immortal, eternal beings, and have been there from the beginning.
  2. Fall: Wasn’t an accident. God wanted us all to choose Him by faith, and it’s hard to have faith if you’re standing right next to Him. So He planned a period of testing for each person where their memory would be wiped and they would live a mortal life on Earth. The test was this…will you choose good over evil, even if you don’t remember God?
  3. Redemption: Jesus’s atonement, plus ordinances. Ordinances required for salvation. Quite similar to Catholicism, actually.
  4. Destiny: The whole endgoal of this test is to be like God. Those who succeed will become like God. (There is a big misunderstanding between most Mormons and most Protestants here…when Protestants say “be like God,” they mean to emulate God’s character and values. When Mormons say “be like God,” they mean to become a god, with the character and values, but also the power, authority, omniscience, etc.)

Or let’s go out to left field and examine Scientology…

  1. Creation: We (who are all gods who tricked ourselves into thinking that we are mortal humans) created this universe. It continues to exist because the majority of us think it does.
  2. Fall: We “began to identify ourselves with our creation, rather than identifying ourselves as creators.” Or, as I once read, we got so bored of being all powerful that we played a game in which we pretended we weren’t all powerful. And then we stayed there.
  3. Redemption: Our redemption is found when we remove the “engrams” that we put there to make us forget that we were gods. Bored gods.
  4. Destiny: Unknown. I don’t think Scientology makes any predictions on where all of this is going, but I could be missing something.

One could begin (operative word right there) to analyze Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Islam, or traditional Judaism, or any other religion in this way.

We could go on for a while, but I believe that asking these three (or four) questions of any worldview is a good idea, because a) they provide a good starting point for evaluating the worldview and b) I don’t think it’s obtrusive…every worldview WANTS to answer these questions!

But since I have talked about religions/worldviews that are not my own, I think my next post (which gets us quite close to wrapping this up!) is even more important.

Whenever talking to a person who holds a different worldview ABOUT their worldview, we should be doing more asking and less telling.

The Art of Apologetics: God’s touch found in creation

Two thoughts that lead into this one…

  1. There are some ways in which God is inconceivably different than man, than us. However, there are some ways in which God made us like Him. “Imago dei” is the Latin phrase coined to the what the Bible teaches in Genesis…that man is made in the image of God. What does that mean? I have heard many different things…let me suffice it to say that while I have many thoughts on this subject, my best answer is “I don’t know what it means, completely.” However, for this post, let’s apply it like this: There are some ways that we are like God, and therefore, God is like us. Not in power, nor sovereignty, but in other ways. What ways? Good question…a question for another post.
  2. One of those ways is that we are “created creators.” From art to architecture to video games like “Pokémon” or “Digimon” to fictional books to whatever…we clearly are “creators.” I believe that we were given this urge.

 

It’s on this second point that we will dwell.

 

No architect builds themselves.

If my memory serves, it was C.S. Lewis who used the architect to explain why we can’t see God…God isn’t “part” of His creation, just as an architect cannot be a wood plank in his building. Although we can’t point to a specific part of a building and say “Look, that is the architect!”, we can look at the building in its entirety and see the “mark” of the architect and his expertise.

In the same way, you won’t find God “inside” creation, like finding an architect in a house. You will only find His “mark,” His expertise. Perhaps you will even find His likes, His dislikes, His style.

So, I believe that God’s “mark” is found in creation. In fact, I even believe that it is VERY similar to the same mark that we would leave, except more awesome.

 

What would mankind do if we could create animals? How creative would we be?

Satoshi Tajiri vs. God

Back in 1996, Satoshi Tajiri created a game that would go on to become “the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo’s own Mario Franchise” (taken from Wikipedia).

That’s right, you guessed it. Pokémon.

Many of the Pokémon have very special abilities. Take everybody’s favorite for example…Pikachu is a yellow mouse with “electricity sacs” in his cheeks (that’s those cute little red circles). Or take Venonat or Venomoth…moths with poisonous powers. Or take Lickitung…a pokemon with a gigantic tongue.

I remember playing the Game Boy games back in middle school, and I would get back into them every now and again (Red/Blue/Yellow, Silver/Gold, Ruby/Sapphire, SoulSilver/HeartGold. Never got the chance for Diamond/Pearl or White/Black).

However, while Satoshi Tajiri’s world is truly amazing (he has made an awesome game and attracted millions and millions of fans, and rightfully so!), I think it’s important to point out…

a)      The world of Pokémon was obviously inspired by the real animal kingdom…many of the Pokémon are based on existing animals, of course.

b)      Since we live in the real world, we are often desensitized as to how truly amazing our world is. Especially the world of animals.

 

I think Tajiri did an amazing job with Pokémon. I also think that the real world is even more amazing, not less. Consider…

a)      Chameleons – Little lizards that can actually hide by changing their color to their surroundings.

b)      Jellyfish – Little…uh…things…that weirdly swim around and sting/shock anything that touches them.

c)      Horses – Used by humans for thousands of years as transportation because of their speed. Hard hooves for running quickly on rocky terrains without injury.

d)      Electric Eels – Name is self-explanatory.

e)      Giraffes – Super-tall animals with extra long tongues. Allows them to eat leaves that no one else can get to. And did you know that a giraffe’s kick can take out a lion?

f)       Kangaroos – Hop from one place to another to get around, and they even have built-in pockets for their young!

g)      Those poisonous frogs in the Amazon – Colorful frogs with built-in poison?

 

I haven’t even gotten into aquatic life. I haven’t even gotten into anything besides animals. We could talk about the planet Earth, the stars, nebulae, galaxies, etc. We haven’t even talked about humans and our amazing, complex bodies. We have only talked about animals. And Pokémon.

 

We are created creators. Satoshi has made an incredible universe, with each different Pokémon having a new twist, an interesting trait or two. But let it be known that our own universe of animals, our real universe, is more amazing, not less.

While an evolutionary biologist would look at the fur of a polar bear and think “wow, lucky for that polar bear! They would’ve died off without that.”, a God-worshipper looks at a polar bear and sees an intelligent designer, showing us His mark and style through what has been made.

 

Rom 1:18-20 (NIV)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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, so that men are without excuse.

 

Let us not become desensitized to how amazing our world is. And let us not lose the forest for the trees…God wants us to see HIM through His creation. The variety and “deliberate-ness” of our animal kingdom is evidence for, not against, the existence of God.

I cannot tell you with absolute certainty that this all did not happen by accident…but I can tell you this: Atheistic evolution has me unconvinced.

The Art of Apologetics: Does God give proof? (Part 2 – God’s existence)

When God wants you to believe something…does He give proof?

The answer is yes, God gives as much proof as He wants to give. Which is not “as much proof as you want,” but is also NOWHERE near “zero proof, because He wants you to just have faith!”

(Side-tangent: Remember, EVERYONE has faith. They just put it in different things and different places. Faith and trust are synonyms. Some trust God to take care of them, some trust America to take care of them. Some trust their mommy or spouse. Some trust themselves. Some trust that TV is telling them the truth. Some trust that certain books are telling the truth, while other books are lying. The list goes on.)

So here are three important things that Christians hold to be true. These are things that are central to Christianity, but are a) commonly questioned and challenged, and b) every Christian has doubted these at some point in their life.

A)     God exists.

B)     Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, Jesus is God in human form. Jesus is 100% man and 100% God.

C)     The Bible is the Word of God.

(By the way, each one kinda leads to the next)

And on these three things, we ask: Does God just expect us to believe these things? Or does He give proof?

A)     God exists – “Just believe it” or is proof given?

The short answer – yes, proof is given

Rom 1:18-21 (NASB)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The long answer…what used to be “proof” has now had more doubt cast upon it.

Before we even get into this, I have to cover two things that all of us do, although we often don’t think about it. One is data interpretation and the other is faith.

Data interpretation

First, remember that ALL of our finite, human minds interpret data/evidence based on what we already believe. Everybody does this. Here’s a simple example to illustrate:

Data: The human immune system automatically protects us from many diseases, while gathering data to protect us from the next occurrence of that illness (antibodies).

One who believes in evolution: This is evidence of survival of the fittest. Over time, humans developed this skill…whoever didn’t develop this skill died off, so that nowadays we all have that kind of immune system. This data is evidence towards proving my point.

One who believes in creation: This is evidence of God’s intelligent design. The human immune system is clearly not an accident, but wisely designed for a purpose. This data is evidence towards proving my point.

This is why I am in a rare camp…I am actually a six-day creationist (I actually believe that the earth was created in six literal 24 hour periods). Many view this position as insane because there is “so much evidence” of the Earth requiring much more time to develop.

For example, take a look at this:

Data: The sun is big, shiny, and hot. Times a trillion.

Atheist interpretation: Wow, that’s big. That must’ve taken a long time to happen. (note the assumption: It “happened.” Passive)

Six-day creationist interpretation: Wow. That there is incredible. God must be really friggin’ powerful to create something like that in such a short amount of time. (Assumes God’s existence)

Most common belief: God could have created the sun however He wanted to. He’s plenty powerful enough to do it. He probably chose to do it over a billion years.

At this point, whether you agree, disagree, think I am way oversimplifying it or whatever, I need to cover the second element.

Faith

As covered: Faith means trust. I do not know anything about astronomy…so how could I say “You’re wrong!” if I don’t even know what they believe in the first place? However, we must ALL be careful of how much belief we put into anything, including scientific findings.

Why? Because everybody has faith, whether good or bad.

No researcher has time to study EVERYTHING. Therefore, SOME of what he does must be built on the backs of others. To PROVE every theory that came before him would mean that he would have no time to DISCOVER something new. Therefore, the researcher MUST choose to trust theories that he hasn’t himself proven. This isn’t bad…there’s just no way around it.

In other words, the researcher MUST have faith in researchers that came before him. Which ones he has faith in, well, that’s up to him.

Science gets it wrong sometimes. Science also gets it right sometimes. But this is a big long way of saying: If you tell me that research “proves” or even research “indicates” that God doesn’t exist, well, I have to ask…is it the research or is it your interpretation of that research?

Let’s talk about Darwin

Charles Darwin certainly did change the playing field, but in a different way. In history, there have been certain cultures or prominent figures who were atheists. However, they were always persecuted as heretics (sometimes by Christians, and I do NOT believe that Christians were right in doing so). How Darwin changed the playing field was that before Darwin, atheism was viewed as insane. Atheists simply tried to put forth Steady State theory: This is how things have always been. There was no beginning.

This argument was so easy to trump back then…all you would need to do to counter the argument was look around at the complexity and creativity of life, of humans, of the animals, and ask why they were so complex. The best the atheist could often say was “I don’t know.” In short, the argument for God was far more convincing than the “it happened by accident” card.

What Darwin did was bring forth a theory that Atheists could bank on for how life came to be. Darwin’s book, “The Origin of Species,” provided Atheists with an answer to “well, if there’s no God, how did WE get here?” The theory of evolution as an explanation to the origins of life answered that question.

At this point in history, Atheistic and Humanistic worldviews were already making serious headway. The Catholic Church had demonstrated a history of using political power and influence (human means) to further their agenda, and they tried to use that power to overcome the reason of their opponents, as opposed to using reason to overcome reason (not that reason is what builds the kingdom of God…however, God is more “reasonable” than any human brain). Thus, society was starting to rebel and cast off these “religious shackles.”

Modernism (a nice blend of atheism, humanism, and theological liberalism) was on the rise, and it was conquering and taking over academic institutions. Christians, who had talked a lot about faith, didn’t sound too smart when they sat there and said “you have your mounds of research, but I have my faith.” (1 Corinthians, the first two chapters, have a lot to say about the “wisdom” of this world and the “foolishness” of Christ. It’s pretty cool)

So many of them backed away from debate. Some worked to water down Christianity in order to help it survive (Creation is actually a metaphor, and Jesus’s resurrection is a metaphor, and on and on). So, atheism looked like it was taking over. Truth is, it DID take over…it just took over schools. As for the world? Not so much.

Nowadays, atheists still hold a lot of power in the academic world…you will find many atheists at the heads of science departments at universities. However…atheism is not prominent in the rest of the world (Europe is probably it’s best stronghold). The largest atheist organization has 2200 members. Somewhere between 2.4% and 3.7% of the world’s population is atheist. In the US, 0.7% describe themselves as atheist, and 0.9% describe themselves as agnostic. That’s all.

However, since atheism became quite prominent in the academic world, the idea of evolution as a means of the origins of species has been repeated by a lot of people, over a long course of years. And anything, whether a truth or a lie, that is repeated often enough, long enough, loud enough, and by enough people, eventually becomes accepted as truth (just look at how advertising works!).

So back to the question…does God give proof?

Yes. Sometimes it is hard to see, because we hear the opposite taught and repeated so much. But look…

Romans 1:18-21 (NASB)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

An artist cannot put himself into a painting…however, you can see the artist’s style and personality through the painting. You would think that God couldn’t put himself into His painting, but He did (Jesus). We’ll get to that next post.

Back to this, however. I believe that if you tune out all the other things you’ve heard, creation makes God really obvious. On the other side of things, I believe that even if you tune out everything you’ve heard about God, evolution is not as “obvious.”

As I have mentioned before…I do not view it as my job to “convince” anybody or to change anybody’s mind. Whether I think something is “right” or “wrong” has very little effect on the universe. However, I do view it as my job to explain WHY I believe what I believe to the fullest.

I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that evolution is wrong. I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that God exists. I think that I have experienced Him…but maybe I am under some weird mind illusion?

Regardless, what I CAN tell you is this. When I have analyzed creationism, and when I  have analyzed evolution as an explanation for the origins of life, I personally find the evolution of a non-living thing into a living thing to be unconvincing.

After examining both cases, I think an intelligent designer has the more convincing case.

Coming next:
God’s touch found in creation

Is Jesus really the Son of God? Did God give proof of that?