Epistemology Isn’t Just For Philosophers

In researching, reading, and thinking about writing a book about keeping my kids Christian, I was kind of surprised to discover how important questions of epistemology began to emerge. I even decided to write an entire chapter on epistemology—in a book on raising kids! I can understand why a lot of Christians would think that’s a bit nutty, in many cases because they wouldn’t even know what epistemology is. I’m hoping in some small way that my book might help change that. Every Christian in our postmodern, relativistic, secular age needs to know not only what epistemology is, but how important are the implications for their faith.

Simply, epistemology is the study of how we know what we know, and it has been vigorously debated among philosophers in Western civilization since at least Rene Descartes (1596-1650). The reason religious faith is so problematic in the modern West is because skepticism about metaphysical ideas and historical facts is the default epistemology of the culture. Which is why I was so surprised when I saw an article at the reliably liberal and secular NPR website titled, “Skepticism about Skepticism.” I instantly thought of a quote by C.S. Lewis in his book Christian Reflections (p. 164)

Hey, Bill Nye, Fake Science Guy, There Are No “Extra Kids”

Who is this Bill Nye guy anyway? I only became aware of him recently, but it seems he’s a popular “science educator.” He got his moniker, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” from a PBS children’s science show in the 90s, and we know that anything that has the word “science” attached to it has instant credibility in our secular age. Unfortunately, science has to be one of the most abused words of modern times. Instead of referring to an empirical method of inquiry, it’s become a weapon to shut down debate. Specifically, it’s used as a cudgel by the secular left to intimidate anyone who dares question the “scientific consensus” on things like global warming (which has transmorgified into the redundant term “climate change”) and evolution.

So it didn’t surprise me when I saw the provocative title of a piece at The Federalist, “Bill Nye’s View Of Humanity Is Repulsive.”  You’ll see why below, but human dignity is only possible in a theistic universe. Without God all we are is lucky dirt. Material things don’t have any transcendent value in themselves. Keep in mind I am speaking logically; you cannot get to value from dirt. We step on dirt, we don’t fall in love with it, or cherish it, or treat it with respect. It’s dirt! If atheism is true, then all we are is lucky dirt and thus logically can be stepped on with impunity.

LifeWay Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read it

The Bible, the most influential book in American history, has fallen on hard times. According to a recent Lifeway Research survey, while Americans respect and many venerate the bible, it seems most never open one.

Americans have a positive view of the Bible. And many say the Christian scriptures are filled with moral lessons for today.

However, more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible.

Less than a quarter of those who have ever read a Bible have a systematic plan for reading the Christian scriptures each day. And a third of Americans never pick it up on their own, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

You might see in these words, if you are a Christian, that the problem is that most Americans don’t read the Bible. Even more disconcerting, however, is that people think the Bible is about “moral lessons,” which isn’t surprising given people generally equate religion with morality.

Notable Quotation

We must attack the enemy’s line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our Faith is not very likely to be shaken by any book on Hinduism. But if whenever we read an elementary book on Geology, Botany, Politics, or Astronomy, we found that its implication were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in direct defence of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materalistic assumptions in all the other books.

C.S. Lewis, God in The Dock, p. 91.

Why Is the Question, “Who Designed the Designer?” Logical AND Absurd?

A common question when talking to children about God being the creator of all things is, “Who created God?” The question is logical enough, but absurd. Many atheists and agnostics, who often think like children, often ask the same question:

Amazingly, it’s the chief objection raised to religious belief by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. It’s also a complaint you hear all the time in response to intelligent design. Regarding the “natural temptation…to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself,” Dawkins replies:

“The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.”

Keith Green And Reflections on Our Love for God

Every Evangelical or “born-again” Christian of the boomer generation knows of Keith Green, a fervent evangelist (some would say almost prophet) musician who died way too young. When I was in college in the late 70s and early 80s, Keith Green’s music was a large part of the soundtrack of my Christian life. On my way to my first job out of college on July 28, 1982, the day before my birthday, I heard on the radio that Keith Green had died in a plane crash. He was all of 28 years old.

I was thinking of him on Easter morning because I couldn’t get his Easter Song out of my mind, especially where he sings, “He is risen, hallelujah.”  So I decided to take a little nostalgia trip reading about him and listening to some old songs. I came across his bio at the website of the organization he and his wife, Melody, founded called Last Days Ministries. A quote from Keith there reminded me of the type of Christianity I was “born-again” into, and why I am so grateful I was introduced to Reformed Theology a couple years out of college. Here is the quote, and I’ll explain why:

Loving Him is to be our cause. He can take care of a lot of other causes without us, but He can’t make us love Him with all our heart. That’s the work we must do.  Anything else is an imitation.

Notable Quotation

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they have shed; and that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.

Theodore Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Did A Crucified Man Named Jesus of Nazareth Really Bodily Rise From the Grave 2000 Years Ago?

It is a glorious thing that on this day all around the world billions of Christians celebrate the bodily resurrection of their Savior. Those who don’t, think that those of us who do are deluded. Maybe we are, but the vast majority of those who reject the bodily resurrection of Christ have never given a single solitary minute to examining the evidence. Most of these don’t believe a man coming back from the dead is possible, so why bother with evidence. I’m sure there are others who don’t want to engage the evidence because they don’t want it to be true. If God did become a man, died for their sins, and was raised for their justification, then they are confronted with a choice. Rebels have a hard time giving up their rebellion.

For me, if this resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth really did happen, it is, by very far, the most important historical fact of human history. And orthodox Christians don’t believe Jesus’ resurrection is a “spiritual resurrection” in our hearts, a beautiful idea about new life and some such thing. No, we believe the man himself, a human being just like you and me, was killed by the Romans, was laid in a tomb, and three days later revealed himself as risen to his followers. We believe this because there is a significant amount of historical evidence that it in fact happened. Jesus himself knew we, and his followers at the time, needed evidence because, well, people don’t just rise from the dead!

God Gave Us His Law, and The Created Order, That We Might Flourish

We live in the age of The Sovereign Self. Phrases  heard throughout the culture like, “Just be true to yourself,” or “As long as it makes you happy” are common. Such ideas reflect the triumph of the subjective, which basically asserts that each individual can determine their own reality. This almost ubiquitous mentality could not have been put any better than by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in a decision from 1992:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Actually, this is more like a recipe for anarchy. What if I define my concept by taking away someone else’s liberty? On what basis could Justice Kennedy say that is not valid? After all he said It’s my “right” to define reality (“the universe”) as I wish. No, the Justice’s sentiments are sentimental nonsense. Realty will never bend itself to my wishes, no matter how hard I wish. And if we let our kids drink this dangerous cultural Kool-Aid, they will suffer for it because as I often say, reality doesn’t take any jokes.

No, Time, Truth is Not Dead

On this day in 1966, Time Magazine published it’s (in)famous cover story, “Is God Dead?”  It was about some radical theologians who decided to take the theos out of the ology. It has not exactly proved to be prophetic. In some parts of the world God is more popular than ever, even in countries that are officially atheist like China. Europe, on the other hand, instead of being the vanguard of the future, as predicted by secularists for decades, is dying on the spiritual vine. Not only are churches empty, but most Western Europeans are not even having enough children to replace their populations. Growing Muslim populations, by contrast, are filling the spiritual vacuum (which we know nature abhors) because they value the next generation and are passionate about their God.

No, God is indeed not dead, but here comes Time almost 51 years later again asking another question of negation: “Is Truth Dead?” I will give the magazine credit for logical consistency. If there is no God, there is no truth. As I often ask my kids, if all we are is lucky dirt, then what makes one thing true and not another, or what makes something right and not wrong? Nothing. In the moral realm, you cannot get ought from is. If all we are is lucky dirt who’s to say torturing babies for fun is wrong. And if God is dead truth is dead. Without God the only thing that can make one thing ultimately true or not is power.