1. Is there such a thing as “absolute truth?” ---Please discuss relativism as it applies to material reality, pluralism, AND moral relativism in your answer.
What's real is real. If the things I see, smell, and perceive are not real then reality is a little too hard to get my hands on. If someone is claiming that what we perceive is not really real but, only a figment of our imaginations, then the entire world is broken and there is no point in seeking out reality at all. It is as simple as that. Pluralism also has enormous holes in it, though not as enormous as relativism in regards to the material world. Anyways, pluralism is the belief that all religions are true since they are just different perceptions of the same story. However, if all religions are pretty much the same thing, then why are they all so different from one another. If they all are trying to teach the same essential stuff, but are teaching stuff that completely contradicts other religions, then one can assume that perhaps they are not all getting their material from the same source. Why then would Islam teach to spread Islam everywhere through force while Christianity teaches to love thy neighbor? Unless there is something that every person in the history of the world has overlooked, and then I am pretty sure that it is safe to say that not all religions are true. Moral relativism is a lot trickier to deal with than the first two. Most people, when presented the question about absolute morality, simply say that culture dictates morality. However, they are backed into a corner when asked if what Hitler did was right. This seems all logical. The one question I have is what if culture dictates morality, but not on a localized level. Since all creation came from similar areas couldn't they carry out their morals to different areas that they later settle. If this proves to be faulty in some way, then we must conclude that something instilled in us our sense of morality.
2. Should we be skeptical about everything?
We should not be skeptical about everything. However, we should not take things of grand importance in as proof merely on a whim. For example, if someone told me that Blockbuster was the best place to rent my movies, I would trust them and rent my movies from Blockbuster, provided that no serious problems arise. But, in matters of the nature of existence, we should do a little bit of our own research to make sure things add up right. I don't want to go through life never asking questions and fully believing everything I hear and in the end realize I might have made a tactical error and not learned anything about life at all. In terms of Christianity, I want to fully believe what I say I believe in, so in that regard I want to not believe anything until I have researched all the possibilities and come the conclusion that I find the most fitting for the situation. Religion is sort of a big aspect of ones life on Earth and after Earth, so I don't want to just look at Christianity and think of all the wonderful things Christians have done, it must be true. Or, look how many people are Christians, it must be true. I want to learn it for myself and make the decision that best fits my worldview. In my mind, if I were to believe anything without proper reason to or proof, it would be the same as me not believing in that thing at all. There is no reason to blindly believe anything, for this would be an unbelievable waste of time and my life.
3. I don't think that there is a God, is there any proof that He exists?
When presented with an argument against the notion of a God, not necessarily the Christian God, one can easily respond with three “relatively simple” arguments, the teleological argument, the moral argument, and the cosmological argument. The type of person you are talking to should dictate which argument you use. Some people are more inclined to one type of logic than another, so choose wisely. The teleological argument states that everything that has a design must have a designer. So now we must argue whether the world has legitimate design or not. Once we get the opposition to agree that there is design to the world, we simply ask who designed it. It is not everyday that we see something design itself. The second argument is the moral argument. It pretty much says that if there are morals then there must be something out there that set these morals in place. However, many naturalists are not down with this argument, since they say that culture/mankind dictates morals. While some Christians attempt to rebuttal this argument, most times they do not win the mind of the atheist they debate. We should use this only when necessary as a last resort as a way to put in the killing blow. Finally, the most accepted argument for the existence of God is the cosmological argument. It says that for every cause, there must be a causer. Since this argument involves science, many naturalists really get into it. Since something can't come from nothing, and the world has not been around forever, according to science, we must conclude that there is something outside space and time that put the world into existence. These are the three most practiced arguments for the existence of God.
4. The Bible merely mythical stories?
The Bible has more evidence for its validity than any other historical book. Being able to say that simply outweighs any argument someone throws at you. Many people say that since the Bible is the Holy Word of God, then there is no way that men could correctly write it down because men are unholy and evil by nature. However, a lot the Bible is just someone writing down an account of what they saw or experienced. This is just like any other historian writing about history or other things they see. Why would we disbelieve field reports of Civil War battles? It makes no sense to discredit the writers of the Bible just because the are recounting the history of something, it just so happens that something is God. Many of the writers of the Bible, other than being inspired by God himself, were actually there at the places where they were writing, so at the least, they can be accepted as approved historical documents. First Corinthians, actually references different parts of Roman and culture that the average historian would not even know. To say that the Bible is just a collection of imaginary stories is extremely inaccurate. If it were not true, then somewhere in the history of man a contradiction would have appeared, and proved at least some part of the Bible to be false, but alas, that has not occurred. No conspiracy can be this big, so it is safe to say the Bible is true.
5. Why must God be an infinite being? Why can't there be multiple Gods, and why can't God be limited (deism, finite Godism, maltheism)? (No verses-use logic!)
In order for God to have any of the attributes normally attributed to him, then he must be infinite. For God to be able to create the world, then he must be outside the world. The world is space, time, and matter, so God must be outside space, time, and matter. If God were confined by one of these things then he would not be infinite. There can't be multiple infinite Gods because there would be no way to distinguish then from one another. So if there were multiple Gods then they would have to be finite, and therefore confined by nature. Deism is the belief that God created the world, then left and allowed for it to carry on unaided by supernatural stuff. While this sounds extremely plausible, the flaw in this thinking is that God would then become confined by nature and not powerful at all. The other thinking is that God chooses not to return to help man because man is flawed and God can't align himself with evil. This would actually make God evil, because he would not be trying to save or help mankind. This is maltheism. Maltheism is the belief that there is a God but that he is evil. Since an infinite God is unlimited perfection, which means that he is has maxed out all his skills, and since evil is the absence of good then if he was completely evil, then he would not be completely perfect and therefore not infinite at all. This would prove problematic because he would then he would be limited and not able to create the world or govern it at all. So the moral of the story is that God needs to be infinite.
6. How do you know that the infinite being you believe in is the God of the Bible? (Bible verses required -Use them to show the infinite nature of God and his attributes.)
Many come to believe that there is some sort of God or higher supernatural power that created the world and designed it, but not all believe that the God of the Bible lines up with the logical god they think created the universe. The major points a theistic god must possess are the big three qualities: omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, in addition to being infinite. The Bible describes all of these in its passages, and verifies that the God of the Bible meets all the checkpoints for being God. Psalm 145:3 states, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, his greatness no one can fathom.” This declares the infinite power the Lord possesses, thus placing him outside time, space, and matter, and therefore able to create the world. To create the world though, God would have to be omnipotent, or all powerful. Matthew 19:26 verifies that the God of the Bible is also omnipotent, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”' The next quality needed is omniscience, or being all knowing. This would allow God to know everything and be able to make the most logical decisions that benefit the universe. Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” This verse claims that God has infinite knowledge, thus making him omniscient. The final main quality of the God of the Bible is his omnipresence, as spoken of in Jeremiah 23:24, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him, declares the Lord”
7. If there is a God and He is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient, why is there evil? I mean, if he created everything, then didn't he create evil?
The problem of evil has plagued the minds of scholars far and wide for centuries. If God has all complete power over the universe, so he could destroy evil, and he is completely good, and completely incapable of producing evil, then why does it still linger around. We must then begin to wonder if God really is in control of the world. If evil is here on Earth, which by the looks of things lately, it is, then we must ask ourselves: did God make the world evil or does God not have sufficient power to stop evil? When doing battle against atheists, most Christians fall on this question, becoming casualties to the Problem of Evil. However, had they of just known a few handy tidbits they could have defeated the atheist. First off, God did not create evil. In fact, evil is not even a thing, but rather the absence of something, goodness. Secondly evil comes about from God allowing his creation the ability to freely choose to make decisions (free will). If God simply made his creation to follow his will and love him all the time, then humanity would be a bunch of bumbling robots who don't really live and who don't really love God at all. Since God gives us the free choice to follow him, this obviously leaves the option of mankind not choosing to follow God and therefore make the wrong choice that goes against God's plan, thus EVIL.
8. The only possible explanation of our existence is natural selection.
Many people attempt to combine the teachings of the Bible along with the discoveries of science into one hybrid belief concerning the origin of species. They contend that God created the world, set everything in place, designed the intricacies of our universe, and set evolution in motion. However grand this belief happens to be in the mind of its holder, it happens to disintegrate once a careful eye is turned to inspect it. Evolution is spurred on by death, with each new step in the genetic code being taken with the death of one animal and the birth of another stronger animal of that species. Eventually, after many generations of the stronger animal surviving, we have a whole new species created, like apes becoming men over thousands of years. However, before the fall of man there was no death in the garden of Eden, and since all the animals already existed in there fully developed stages(presumably), then there would be no time or way for evolution to even play the smallest part in the creation of species. The largest problem with this argument though is its presupposition stance that the Bible is true. An atheist/naturalist can easily say they don't believe this because they don't believe in the garden of Eden, thus leaving them with plenty space to fit evolution into the books.
9. What makes Jesus so different? What did he say that was so unique? (Bible verses required)
According to the Bible, John 3:16, Jesus is the holy son of God. This by itself would be enough to say that Jesus was an important guy. However, Jesus also claims to do several things that no other religion and/or Deity has claimed through history. He claimed that he was God. John 10:30 states, “I and the Father are one.” This clearly shows that Jesus was not joking around and fully believed that he was God. His followers also believe that he was God. Another major point that makes Jesus special is his coming to Earth to save and redeem the sinful people of the world, therefore meaning that he made a sacrifice for his creation, this has never happened in the history of any religion. This is seen in the verse John 1:35, “ Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This just goes to show the level of love and forgiveness that God has for his creation. For him to come to Earth and make himself susceptible to all of man's problems and go through with the crucifixion just to redeem and save his fallen creation. Also God did a lot of miracles that defy the typical laws of nature. Throughout the Gospels it is well documented that Jesus performed quite a few miracles. However his biggest miracle was his resurrection from the dead. It is not everyday that you see someone come back from the dead to join the living, especially after they have been dead for three full days. This is seen in the verse 2 Timothy 2:8, “"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, this is my Gospel." So the Bible claims that this actually happened, making for one special guy. No other deities in history have died and then later been raised from the dead, especially for the purpose of saving and purifying mankind and creating a personal bond between the supernatural and the natural.
10. Why do Christians believe that there are three Gods in one? Isn't this Polytheism? (Use a few verses here…)
Christians do not believe in three separate Gods. The trinity is composed of three parts of God. As Brian Henson teaches his Apologetics Class, “God is one person that has revealed Himself in three roles. He is like an actor wearing three masks.” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all are equally God, and share all of the attributes of God, but have different roles within the trinity. The Father is the “head of the Trinity” and the “planner”. The son is the “image and expression of God to man”, in other words, he is the “mediator between God and man.” The Holy Spirit is the “will of God”; he also “convicts people and applies salvation.”(Henson Notes, 21) Polytheism is the belief in multiple finite gods usually made up of a hierarchical arrangement with one or more “king” gods. God as a multi personal God also helps explain Since God is multi-personal, this makes him into a relational being, thus giving him the ability to bestow morals on mankind. This is true because without relational situations, there is no reason for having morals at all, and God can not give what he does not have. (Henson notes, 18) So, in summary, God is a multi-personal God who has three distinct personalities within himself that make up God.
11. 11. What does a person have to do to become a Christian? Why is it necessary? Couldn't you just be “good” and get into heaven? (Bible verses required)
To gain access into the Kingdom of Heaven and The Book of Life, one must put his full confidence into the arms of Christ, who will redeem you and purify our sinful souls. According to 1 Kings 8:46, “…for there is no one who does not sin.”, so everyone must rely on God to gain entry into the kingdom of Heaven. Contrary to the beliefs of most atheists and other non-theistic religions, being a “good” person does not guarantee them entry into the Pearly Gates. The person must be atoned and our sins eliminated by Christ's sacrifice. To do this someone can't just say they believe in God because a lot of people believe in God and don't have faith in God to save them, one example would be Deists. As Brian Henson says in his lecture packet, “Sins are cancelled through faith in Christ.” We must fully rely on Jesus to take our sins and eliminate them, “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice.”-Romans 3:25. Without putting faith in Christ, the atonement process cannot be completed and we would remain sinful, fallen creatures. Thus, we would not be able to enjoy the presence of God because God cannot be around sin, it goes against his vary nature, so to get to heaven we must be atoned of our sins through faith in Christ the redeemer.
12. Where are you at in your spiritual journey?
I am currently trying to make some sense out of Christianity. I have gone to Charlotte Christian School since kindergarten, so it has naturally rubbed off on me a bit through the years. I remember sitting in a Lower School Chapel one day when the principal got up and told us students that if we didn't believe God in our hearts and pray the “Special Prayer” then we would have to talk to our teachers and our parents. In my pre-pubescent wisdom, I concluded that I must become a Christian and always believe it no matter what happens; otherwise I would be in trouble. This carried me through Lower School as I cared little about what our daily Bible classes taught, it seemed just like any other subject, with things that I had to learn before discarding. By the time I reached Middle School I realized I knew very little about the teachings of the Bible, as I rarely attended church with any regularity as well. But, I had somehow managed to create an image of myself as an extremely devout Christian in the eyes of my superiors at school and just about anyone else related to the school. This probably stemmed from my relative distaste for social ventures back in the Lower School days, which is quite a shame really. Nonetheless, I continued into High School, at which point I made an effort to really dive into the teachings of the Bible. While I learned much historically about what the Bible said, I still couldn't shake the feeling that this book was no more special than any other book out there. Once again, just like I had in middle school, I found myself stuck wondering why I believed in God or the Bible. I knew that CCS told me it was true and that it counted as a grade, but there was no real logical reason to believe it. Then I ran across Mr. Henson's class. During his class I kept feeling as though I was being scared into heaven by this horrible vision of what awaited the non believer in hell. Once again, just like in Kindergarten, I was being scarred into belief. Despite wanting to pick up some fire insurance, I first began to really study Christianity to see if it really made sense. Despite it being for the most part all logically sound, I still felt cold towards the idea of having a personal God dictate my life, with me leaning on him to get through tough times. However, I quickly realized that there must be something out there that created the universe. He didn't have to give us morals or a lot of other things that Christians and theists like to argue for, but this “god” definitely had to start the whole thing and give the world design. From there I don't really know what he is doing. So I guess that I am a Deist, in that God created us then allows us the freedom to run our world as we see fit.
Henson, Brian, Packet, Intro to Christian Theology
Henson, Brian, Packet, Christian Theology #2
Hardy, Dean. Stand Your Ground: an Introductory Text for Apologetics Students. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2007. Print