Monday, November 18, 2013

The Argument from Reason

The following are some video introductions to the "Argument from Reason" or variations on it, or to related arguments like EAAN. These arguments have been critiqued by atheists and skeptics. While they may have shown some of the weakness of the arguments, the fact remains that given atheistic naturalism and materialism, it's more probable than not that evolution has not resulted in our having mental faculties that can truly reason to truth or resulted in sensory organs that accurately perceive its environment.

The Circularity of Evolutionary Reliabilism

Two Senses of ‘Reliability’ in Evolutionary Epistemology

What is the Argument from Reason?
Can Atheists Trust Their Own Minds?
by William Lane Craig

 The Argument from Reason
by David Wood

Darwin's Doubt: Can Atheists Trust Their Own Minds?
by Ken Samples

Why No One Believes Atheism/Naturalism is True

An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism
by Alvin Plantinga

Some Articles and Blogs:

Why belief in God casts doubt on all atheistic beliefs

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mimicry in Nature as Evidence for Design

While mimicry in the animal and plant world isn't absolute proof of design in nature, it is evidence. I'll leave it up to you to determine to what degree since some aspects of mimicry can be explained by natural selection. Nevertheless, I'm going to post some pictures of mimicry in nature. Mimicry can include similarities in appearance, behaviour, sound, scent and location. Here's a link to Wikipedia's article on Mimicry.

Here are some examples of "leaf insects"

Owl Butterflies can look like owl heads or snake heads

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

C. S. Lewis: Why He Matters Today

C. S. Lewis: Why He Matters Today

Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul
Learning from the Mind and Heart of C. S. Lewis by John Piper

[what Piper as an Evangelical finds good and bad in Lewis]
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis as narrated by John Cleese
Click Here to play all audio files in their order.
The TEXT of the Screwtape Letters HERE.

On C. S. Lewis' rejection of Roman Catholic Claims:

“The real reason why I cannot be in communion with you [Catholics] is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine [but see his quote below on some disagreements with several Roman Catholic doctrines], but that to accept your Church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said but also to what he is going to say.”
“Christian Reunion”, in Christian Reunion and Other Essays, edited by Walter Hooper, London: Collins, 1990, p. 17-18. [My emphasis and comments in brackets.]

“The Roman Church where it differs from this universal tradition and specially from apostolic Christianity I reject. Thus their theology about the Blessed Virgin Mary I reject because it seems utterly foreign to the New Testament; where indeed the words “Blessed is the womb that bore thee” receive a rejoinder pointing in exactly the opposite direction. Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul toward St. Peter in the epistles. The doctrine of Transubstantiation insists on defining in a way which the New Testament seems to me not to countenance. In a word, the whole set-up of modern Romanism seems to me to be as much a provincial or local variation from the central, ancient tradition as any particular Protestant sect is. I must therefore reject their claim: though this, of course, does not mean rejecting particular things they say.”
June 16, 1945
Letter of C. S. Lewis to H. Lyman Stebbins, “The Boldness of a Stranger”

Lewis on the Reformation:

    The process whereby ‘faith and works’ become a stock gag for the commercial theatre is characteristic of that whole tragic farce which we call this history of the Reformation. The theological questions really at issue have no significance except on a certain level, a high level, of the spiritual life; they could have been fruitfully debated only between mature and saintly disputants in close privacy and at boundless leisure. Under those conditions formulae might possibly have been found which did justice to the Protestant–I had almost said the Pauline–assertions without compromising other elements of the Christian faith. In fact, however, these questions were raised at a moment when they immediately became embittered and entangled with a whole complex of matters theologically irrelevant, and therefore attracted the fatal attention both of government and the mob. When once this had happened, Europe’s chance to come through unscathed was lost. It was as if men were set to conduct a metaphysical argument at a fair, in competition or (worse still) forced collaboration with the cheapjacks or the round-abouts, under the eyes of an armed and vigilant police forced who frequently changed sides. Each party increasingly misunderstood the other and triumphed in refuting positions which their opponents did not hold: Protestants misrepresenting Romans as Pelagians or Romans misrepresenting Protestants as Antinomians [emphasis mine].
- C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Excluding Drama), Introduction, p37

     From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
    From all the victories that I seemed to score;
    From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
    At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
    From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
    Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

    Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
    of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
    From all my thoughts,
    even from my thoughts of Thee,
    O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
    Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
    Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

C.S. Lewis, “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer,” in Poems, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1964), p. 129.

Click on the "Labels" link below for more C.S. Lewis blogs.

The Psychology of Atheism

The Psychology of Atheism by Dr. Paul Vitz

The Psychology of Atheism by R.C. Sproul

I also highly recommend R.C. Sproul's book on the topic:
"The Psychology of Atheism"

The book is also titled "If There's a God, Why Are there Atheists?"

Friday, November 1, 2013

James White Debates on Calvinism

James White vs. Michael L. Brown

Here are links to their FIRST "debate" which took place on their respective radio show and podcast.  Two days on Brown's show, then two days on White's show.

Their SECOND debate
This debate took place  at Southern Evangelical Seminary, February 14, 2013.
(another version can be viewed HERE)

Who Controls Salvation?
James White vs. George Bryson

Freedom of the Will vs. Bondage of the Will
James White vs. Steve Blakemore

Distinctions in God's Will from a Calvinist Perspective

While God's will is ultimately unified and one, from our finite creaturely perspective I see five [now SIX] distinctions as a Calvinist. Usually Calvinists will refer to only two distinctions from our perspective. Namely, 1. God's Will of Decree and 2. God's Will of Demand, also called God's preceptive will [the two corresponding to #1 & #3 below]. Sometimes Calvinists make a third distinction (like R.C. Sproul) by adding God's Will of Disposition to the other two [corresponding to #1, #3 & #4 below].



This refers to what God will infallibly do and will cause to inexorably come about (all things considered in His omniscience). This is His sovereign will whereby he predestines all things that come to pass. A classic exposition of this can be found in chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (which can be read HERE, or HERE or HERE);

2. DEVICE (or intention, purpose) 

This will [God's will of Device or Purposive will] explains God's purposes for His decrees which may be multivalent (i.e. with multi-purposes and levels). I'm using the word "device" in the sense of plan or plot. Webster's online dictionary gives as one of the definitions of "device" as "something devised or contrived". So, for example, God may decree the exact same calamity on two different people yet for opposite purposes. In the one case it's an expression of divine retributive punishment and in the other a case of divine chastisement and remedial fatherly discipline for the believer's betterment and good. Job endured what he did for multiple purposes like to refine and purify his faith (like gold is refined); to make him an example for future believers; to demonstrate Job's righteousness; to demonstrate that even the most godly need continuous sanctification; to refute Satan. The multivalence of God's Will of Device may have multiple purposes and ends, both for the present time and for multiple future times. God's Will of Decree has to do with WHAT will happen. God's Will of Device explain WHY things will happen as they do. Often there are many "whys" and "reasons";
[[Previously I called this the "Will of Design," but I changed it to "Will of Device" because I wanted to make a 6th type of divine will that better lays claim to being called "Will of Design". The word "device" as I use it seems to be used in the same way in Thomas Brooks' well known book Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices [which can be accessed HERE or HERE]]]

3. DEMAND (or command, or prescriptive/preceptive will, or revealed will) 

This will has to do with what God reveals He expects of us (in obeying His commands, believing His promises/warnings, expecting answers to prayers etc.). Or as Charles Hodge defined it, "The preceptive will relates to the rule of duty for his [God's] rational creatures." These are general and universal expectations that depend on God's current covenant dealings with man. To summarize, this distinction of God's will refers to what God expects from us. This distinction of God's will includes God's commands like loving God and loving one's neighbor as oneself. I include in this will an additional aspect that I'm not sure other Calvinists include. I include what God would have us expect from Him as we stand upon His promises irrespective of God's will of decree and God's will of device (i.e. #1 & #2) since we normally don't know either of them. For example, concerning God's promises to save those who believe the Gospel message. Based on God's will of demand we can expect God to save us when we do believe the Gospel and trust Christ for salvation. Similarly, God's promises of sanctification can be brought to God's remembrance and stood upon in prayer. Based on God's will of demand [or prescriptive will], we can have confidence that God will answer our prayers for greater sanctification ;

4. DELIGHT (or as Sproul calls it "will of disposition", or dispositional will) 

This will refers to what God generally desires, or would like/prefer, or delights in "all things being equal." This will expresses and reflects God's natural goodness, kindness, generosity, munificence etc. Thomas Watson put it this way in his analogy of God being like bees, "The bee naturally gives honey, it stings only when it is provoked." An  example of God's Will of Delight is His desire that humans in general should believe in Christ, repent of their sins and be saved. Since they are made in God's image which has worth and value precisely because it is made in GOD'S image (and God is of infinite value);

5. DIRECTION (or directional will) 

This will, unlike #3 which have to do with general commands and expectations in Scripture, has to do with specific (personally) given commands, expectations or directions not mentioned or covered by God's prescriptive will in the Bible. For example, nowhere in the Scriptures (as they then existed) did it tell Hosea who he should marry (Hos. 1). Or whether David should save the city of Keilah by attacking the Philistines (1 Sam. 23). Or that Gideon should fight Israel's oppressors (Judges 6). In each case the believer in God received specific direct directions [sic] from God which were not covered by the general teaching and commands of Scripture (though they didn't contradict the Scriptures). If one is a cessationist, then this distinction of God's will would only make sense during Biblical times. However, if one is a continuationist (e.g. Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third Wave, open but cautious etc.) then this distinction in the will of God currently applies. And example of God's directional will was His command to Balaam not to go with the princes of Balak. But because Balaam was stubborn and unwilling to fully obey, God eventually allowed Balaam to go to Balak. So, in this instance God's directional will changed from "don't go" to "go." But God did this all the while knowing that He had previously purposed by His eternal unchanging decree that Balaam would eventually go to Balak. From Balaam's perspective, God's will of direction had changed even though God's Will of Decree and Will of Device never did (or does);

[This 6th type of divine will is has recently been added 8/29/2015]

This will refers to God's original design or blueprint. For example, God's original design in creation at the beginning was for humans to be healthy (by God's design). Cancer is a corruption and violation of this original "Will of Design" even though cancer can also be a manifestation God's Will of Decree and Will of Device. Because cancer or any other sickness is a violation of God's original Will of Design and Will of Delight we have Biblical and creational warrant to oppose and fight sickness using medicine, doctors, surgery, nutrition [etc.] and prayers for healing. Here's another example of God's creational will of design: God designed the human body to have two arms and two legs. Whenever infants are born with missing limbs that is a situation that is contrary to God's will of design and blueprint.

So, to repeat, the following are the different types of divine will that I can think of as a Calvinist:

1. God's WILL OF DECREE [also known as "sovereign will" or "decretive will of God"]
2. God's WILL OF DEVICE [AKA "purposive will"]
3. God's WILL OF DEMAND [AKA God's "preceptive will" or "prescriptive will" or "revealed will"]
4. God's WILL OF DELIGHT [AKA God's "dispositional will," "will of disposition" or "will of desire"]

Related Blogposts:

God in Relation to Law: Ex Lex, Sub Lego or Sibi Ipsi Lex

Three Kinds of Providence

Definitions of Chance [ 7 so far listed ]

External Links

 Are There Two Wills in God?: Divine Election and God's Desire for All to Be Saved by John Piper

The Will of God by R.C. Sproul