Edward Feser on The Existence of God

If you like a Thomistic view metaphysics and like Ed Feser, here is one of Feser’s Arguments for the Existence of God *Redacted from The Last Superstition: A Refutation of The New Atheism, page 90.

____________________
1 It’s impossible to avoid realism about universals, propositions, and mathematical objects.

2 And the existence of these entities in some form or other cannot be denied.

3 Moreover, one cannot regard those objects either as material things or as dependent on the human mind for their existence.

4 There are also serious problems with understanding them as abstract objects existing in their own right in some third realm.

5 But they could also not exist apart from any mind.

6 For example, a proposition is the kind of thing that exists only as entertained or contemplated by a mind.

7 Furthermore, it’s implausible to say that triangularity, for example, though neither material nor entirely mental, would go completely out of existence if every particular triangular thing and every mind that might think about triangularity went out of existence.

8 For it would still be true in that case that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees.

9 And other geometric truths would remain as true as they ever did.

10 But if universals, propositions, and mathematical objects are eternal and necessarily existing entities that cannot plausibly exist apart from a mind, and such a mind could not be a finite or limited mind like ours, then they must exist in an eternal and infinite mind.

11 But such a mind is exactly what God is supposed to be.

12 Hence, God exists.

Ben Witherington Interviews Craig Blomberg: Did you know we are living in a post-Christian, post-Biblical era in America?

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I have purchased this book by Craig Blomberg. I still need to read it. But  I wanted to mention one part of this interview here:

Witherington says:

You speak frequently about a change, even among the laity, in what I will call the mood of the culture when it comes to Christianity. What are the telltale signs in your mind? How do you see a book like this addressing that change, especially if we are now moving into a post-Christian, post-Biblical era in America?

Blomberg says:

When I was working on my various educational degrees in the 1970s, we were still reeling as a culture from Vietnam, Watergate, Woodstock and a generation of young adults who were often very disenchanted with traditional authority, including religious authority. Yet they were truly open-minded. They were interested in exploring religious options other than Christianity but they were also very open to exploring the evidence for Christianity, especially when it was combined with an authentic, relevant Christian lifestyle. So mixed among other kinds of hippies were a large number of “Jesus people,” many of whom had come out of alternative lifestyles.

If you organized an event on a secular college or university campus with a winsome, compelling speaker and did a reasonably good job at publicizing it, there was a good chance you would draw a large crowd and that a significant minority of the non-Christians in the audience would take significant steps closer to becoming followers of Jesus if not make the commitment on that very day. And those who didn’t at least had some general knowledge, even before they came to the event, of the worldview they were for the time being, at least, choosing to reject.

Today we see the children of that generation as young adults on the same campuses with the same Christian organizations, with even more compelling speakers and evidence on which to draw, and yet in many instances it is extremely difficult to get a good crowd, if you do you are lucky if even a few unbelievers come, and luckier still if any of them are drawn toward the faith. But it is not as if any new evidence has emerged that we didn’t know about a generation ago to make the case for faith weaker. Instead, people have grown up with less awareness of biblical claims, with more prejudice against Christianity, with an eagerness to embrace the most outlandish charges against the Bible without even wanting to research them at all, which really shows that they are looking for reasons not to believe rather than engaging in serious inquiry.

Did you notice that both Witherington  and Blomberg acknowledge we are living in  a post-Christian, post-Biblical era in America? I wish the rest of the Church would wake up and stop just giving Christians more Bible verses and Bible sermons. I love the Bible. But as I have said elsewhere:

If pastors keep assuming that the average person in the culture thinks the Bible is authoritative, they are living in denial. This is not the 1950’s! When we as Christians assume everyone outside the four walls accepts our starting point, then we are kidding ourselves. I would love to see more pastors spend at least one month or more a year teaching  their congregants on the reliability and authority of the Bible.

For example, let’s say we have thousands of seminary students who graduate who are very skilled at exegeting the text. However, the problems is that the majority of these people (and teachers) start with a set of presuppositions that a fairly large part of our culture rejects. Here are our starting points:

1. God’s existence: God exists because the Bible says so.

2. Epistemology (the study of knowledge): God gives us knowledge of Himself by revelation. The Bible tells us this as well.

3.Miracles: Christianity is a revelatory religion. Without miracles (such as the resurrection) being both possible and actual, our faith is really not very unique. What about other miracle claims in other religions? There is an overall skepticism towards miracles in the West. How do we answer these issues?

4.History: Is history knowable? What historical method are we teaching our students? And as far as miracles, can history evaluate a miracle claim such as the resurrection?

5. Hermeneutics: Can we arrive at objective meaning in the text?

6. Ethics: Is the Bible a source of ethics for us? How would we explain this to the world around us.

If we continue to start with the Bible itself without Prolegomena, we will end up causing thousands of Christians to beg the question to those we minister to. To beg the question is to take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned. My advice for seminaries is to make it mandatory for all students to take a class on Prolegomena.

To read the entire Witherington article see here:

A Look at Paul’s Christological Monotheism

Paul’s Letters are the earliest records we have for the life of Jesus (AD 40 to 60 ). They are also the earliest letters we have for the Christology of Jesus.

According to Bart Ehrman,

“There are seven letters that virtually all scholars agree were written by Paul himself: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philippians and 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. The “undispusted” letters are similar in terms of writing style, vocabulary, and theology. In addition, the issues that they address can plausibly be situated in the early Christian movement of the 40’s and 50’s of the Common Era, when Paul was active as an apostle and missionary”- Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: An Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 288.

I have provided other resources on the ‘so called’ disputed letters.

I have given some background of Paul’s education here:

Richard Bauckham and Paul’s Christology

In his book Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity, Richard Bauckham has asserted that while some Jewish writers in the late Second Temple period did utilize some of the Greek metaphysical language, their understanding of God is not a definition of divine nature- what divinity is- but a notion of the divine identity, characterized primarily in ways other than metaphysical attributes. Bauckham suggests that in studying the relationship between Jewish monotheism and early Christology, it is imperative to understand the religious sects during Second Temple Judaism. The one God of Second Temple Jewish belief was identifiable by His covenant relationship with Israel. Various New Testament scriptures demonstrate that while the early Christians used titles to describe Jesus as God, they also clearly believed Jesus was God as evidenced by assigning attributes to Him which were clearly reserved for God. Moreover, they did so in a distinctly Jewish way that at the same time adhered to the monotheistic tradition of first- century Judaism.

While Greeks focused on philosophical matters of the nature of the divine, Jewish monotheism was more concerned with God’s divine identity. The God of Second Temple Judaism was identifiable by three unique attributes: (1) The God of Israel is the sole Creator of all things (Is. 40:26, 28; 37:16; 42:5; 45:12; Neh. 9:6; Ps 86:10; Hos. 13:4; (2) The God of Israel is the sovereign Ruler of all things (Dan. 4:34-35); (3) The God of Israel is also the only the only being worthy of being worshiped (Deut. 6:13; Ps. 97:7; Is. 45:23; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).

Jesus’ divine identity is affirmed by the fact that He was seen by his followers as having the same attributes as God. Through Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus comes to participate as God’s sovereign Ruler over all things (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44;26:64; Acts 2:33-35; 5:31; 7:55-56; 1 Cor.15:27-28; Phil. 2:6-11; Eph. 1:21-22; Heb. 1:3; 1 Pet. 3:22). Jesus is seen as the object of worship (Matt. 14:33; 28: 9,17; Jn. 5:23; 20:28; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:8-12). He is also the recipient of praise (Matt. 21:16-16; Eph. 6:19; 1 Tim. 1:12; Rev. 5:8-14) and prayer (Acts 1:24; 7:59-60; 9:10-17,21; 22:16,19;1 Cor. 1:2; 16:22; 2 Cor.12:8). Jesus is also the Creator of all things (Heb. 1:2; Jn. 1: 1-3; Col. 1:15-16; 1 Cor. 8:6).

In this article by Bauckham called Paul’s Christology of Divine Identity, he says the following about one of the earliest statements about Paul’s Christology in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6:

“For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

The context of this passage in Paul’s discussion of the issue of eating meat offered to idols and participation in temple banquets supplies its clear monotheistic concern. The issue is the highly traditional Jewish monotheistic one of loyalty to the only true God in a context of pagan polytheistic worship. What Paul does is to maintain the Jewish monotheistic concern in a Christian interpretation for which loyalty to the only true God entails loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first place we should note the statement which Paul takes up in verse 4, in order to explain it in the following verses: ‘we know that there is no idol in the world and that there is no God except one (oujdei;” qeo;” eij mh; ei|”).’ No doubt, the statement comes from the Corinthians’ letter, but they may be citing back to Paul what he himself had taught them, and in any case the statement is a typically Jewish monotheistic one. The designation of other gods as ‘idols’ can, of course, only be Jewish.The statement is reminiscent of the very common Jewish monotheistic formula which claims that there is no other God besides YHWH,39 especially those versions of this formula which give it an explicitly cosmic context, like the ejn kovsmw/ (‘in the world’) of 1 Corinthians 8:4, which Paul echoes in the ei[te ejn oujranw’/ ei[te ejpi; gh’” (‘in heaven or on earth’) of the following verse, and especially also those versions of the formula which link it with an allusion to the Shema‘‘s assertion of the uniqueness of God. For example:

YHWH is God; there is no other besides him…. YHWH is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other (Deut 4:35, 39).

For there is no other besides the Lord, neither in heaven, nor on the earth, nor in the deepest places, nor in the one foundation (2 Enoch 47:3J).

There is an ancient saying about him: ‘He is one…. And there is no other’ (Pseudo-Orphica, lines 9-10, 17).

He is one, and besides him there is no other (Mark 12:32).

This sets the context of strict Jewish monotheistic belief within which Paul works in his discussion with the Corinthians that follows. He fully accepts the statement in verse 4 (though not, as becomes clear, the implications for behaviour which the Corinthians draw from it). But he goes on to give in verse 6 a fuller monotheistic formulation, which is remarkable in that, while it follows the structure of Jewish monotheistic assertions, it also incorporates Jesus Christ into the unique divine identity. This is probably Paul’s most explicit formulation of what we have called christological monotheism. That Paul has here produced a Christian version of the Shema‘ has now rightly been recognized quite widely,41 but the fully decisive way in which he has here included Jesus in the Jewish definition of the unique identity of the one God can be appreciated only in the light of the account of Jewish monotheism that we offered in the first section of this paper. In verse 5 Paul acknowledges the context of pagan polytheism against which the Jewish monotheism he continues to maintain is polemically opposed. His point is not to affirm the existence of many gods and many lords, and certainly not to affirm their existence as gods and lords, but to introduce the contrast between the allegiance of pagans to the many whom they call gods and lords and the exclusive, monotheistic loyalty of Christians, which is specified in verse 6 (‘but for us…’). He is, in fact, shifting the emphasis from the mere existence or otherwise of gods (which the Corinthians’ use of the statement quoted in verse 4 stressed) to the question of allegiance, devotion and worship. There is nothing alien to Jewish monotheism in this shift. The monotheism expressed in the Shema‘ is precisely a matter not merely of believing that only one God exists, but of according this God (‘YHWH our God’) the exclusive and whole-hearted devotion that his uniqueness requires. Hence it is entirely appropriate that it should be by means of a version of the Shema‘ that Paul in verse 6 formulates Christian monotheism. However, verse 5 prepares for this version of the Shema‘ also in another way. When Paul moves in this verse from calling the pagan deities ‘gods’ to calling them not only ‘gods’ but also ‘lords’ (kuvrioi), he introduces a term which was in fact used in many pagan cults, but he introduces it in order to provide a more complete contrast to the version of the Shema‘ which is to come in verse  Whereas pagans profess allegiance to many gods.

To read the entire article/pdf see here:

Who Founded Christianity? Jesus, or Paul? Or, Neither One?

Just two days ago, I posted this:

Craig A. Evans

 
He says:
 “Did Jesus intend to found the Christian church? This interesting question can be answered in the affirmative and in the negative. It depends on what precisely is being asked. If by church one means an organization and a people that stand outside of Israel, the answer is no. If by a community of disciples committed to the restoration of Israel and the conversion and instruction of the Gentiles, then the answer is yes. Jesus did not wish to lead his disciples out of Israel, but to train followers who will lead Israel, who will bring renewal to Israel , and who will instruct Gentiles in the way of the Lord. Jesus longed for the fulfillment of the promises and the prophecies, a fulfillment that would bless Israel and the nations alike. The estrangement of the church from Israel was not the result of Jesus’ teaching or Paul’s teaching. Rather, the parting of the ways, as it has been called in recent years, was the result of a long process”—Craig Evans , From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation.
Now I wanted to say that I have also been reading the book. Partings—How Judaism & Christianity Became Two -
Here are the chapters from the book:
Partings—How Judaism & Christianity Became Two - Hardcover
Here are the chapters from the book:
I. The Jewish Jesus Movement
Geza Vermes
II. From the Crucifixion to the End of the First Century
James D.G. Dunn
III. The Godfearers: From the Gospels to Aphrodisias
Bruce Chilton
IV. The Christian Flight to Pella? The Archaeological Picture
Pamela Watson
V. Parting in Palestine
Joan Taylor
VI. Christianity in Antioch: Partings in Roman Syria
Annette Yoshiko Reed and Lily Vuong
VII. Living Side by Side in Galilee
Eric M. Meyers
VIII. Jews and Christians at Rome: An Early Parting of the Ways
Margaret H. Williams
IX. Christianity’s Rise After Judaism’s Demise in Early Egypt
Robert A. Kraft and AnneMarie Luijendijk
X. Ebionites and Nazoraeans: Christians or Jews?
Matt A. Jackson-McCabe
XI. In Between: Jewish-Christians and the Curse of the Heretics
Shaye J.D. Cohen
XII. The Complexities of Rejections and Attraction, Herein of Love and Hate
Steven Fine
XIII. From Sabbath to Sunday: Why, How and When?
Lawrence T. Geraty
XIV. Social Organization and Parting in East and West
Arye Edrei and Doron Mendels
XV. Did They Ever Part?
James H. Charlesworth
Why do I care so much about this topic? Well, first, I have been involved in Jewish ministry and studying Christian origins for a long time (almost 20 years). I came to faith in Messiah from a Jewish follower of Jesus. Though I am not Jewish, I have found that the so called parting of the ways’ changed the course of history. I am also preparing for teaching a 5 week class called Jewish Roots of Christianity where I live at a fairly large congregation.
So Who  Is the Founder of Christianity? Jesus or Paul?
Linguistically speaking, Christianity didn’t exist in the first century. Judaism in the first century was not seen as a single “way.”  There were many “Judaism’s”- the Sadducees, the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, etc.  The followers of Jesus are referred to as a “sect” (Acts 24:14;28:22); “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5).  Josephus refers to the “sects” of Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees. The first followers of Jesus were considered to be a sect of Second Temple Judaism.

Let me add another quote by Evans:

But we must ask if Paul has created a new institution, a new organization, something that stands over against Israel, something that Jesus himself never anticipated. From time to time learned tomes and popular books have asserted that the Christian church is largely Paul’s creation, that Jesus himself never intended for such a thing to emerge. Frankly, I think the hypothesis of Paul as creator of the church or inventor of Christianity is too simplistic. A solution that is fairer to the sources, both Christian and Jewish, is more complicated. -Evans, Craig A., From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation .

Take a look at both quotes from Evans in this post.  From my own experience, most Christians and Jews like the current boundaries. In other words, we have two separate religions- Judaism and Christianity and we don’t care much about as to how we got to that place. One thing for sure: If we discuss the ‘imperial Christianity’ that was legalized in the 4th century by Constantine  and whether Jesus or Paul is the founder of that, the answer is neither is. By then, the Christianity that existed was so far away from what Jesus and Paul had done, it had morphed into a new and separate religion. As Evans says, this was the result of complex factors.

Do these issues matter for apologetics?

Yes! See my post called Why the Debate Over Christian Origins Matter!

Physicist Michael Strauss discusses Christianity and science at Stanford University

Well my friend Wintery Knight has been belting out the posts lately. Here is another good one:

This is one of my favorite lectures, by one of the people I admire the most for his scientific work and robust, evangelical Christian faith.

About Michael Strauss:

His full biography is here. (I removed his links from my excerpt text below)

Excerpt:

I had an interest in science and theology, so in 1977 I chose to go to Biola University where I could study both subjects in detail. I thoroughly enjoyed college and participated in intramural sports, was elected to student government, served as a resident assistant, competed in forensics, and studied a lot. As I neared college graduation my dual interest continued so I applied to seminary and to graduate school. After graduating summa cum laude from Biola, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in physics at UCLA.

During my first few years of graduate school, I developed an increased interest in quantum mechanics and subatomic physics and decided to do research in a field that dealt with these subjects. I joined a High Energy Physics experimental group doing research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to actively participate in research at SLAC. I graduated in 1988 with my Ph.D in High Energy Physics (a.k.a. Elementary Particle Physics). If you would like to know more about High Energy Physics, the Particle Data Group at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has a very nice interactive adventure that teaches you all about the subject. My research advisor was professor Charles Buchanan and my disertation was titled “A Study of Lambda Polarization and Phi Spin Alignment in Electron-Positron Annihilation at 29 GeV as a Probe of Color Field Behavior.”

To read on and see the lecture with Wintery’s commentary, see here:

Craig Evans on “Did Jesus intend to found the Christian Church?

Craig A. Evans

He says:
 “Did Jesus intend to found the Christian church? This interesting question can be answered in the affirmative and in the negative. It depends on what precisely is being asked. If by church one means an organization and a people that stand outside of Israel, the answer is no. If by a community of disciples committed to the restoration of Israel and the conversion and instruction of the Gentiles, then the answer is yes. Jesus did not wish to lead his disciples out of Israel, but to train followers who will lead Israel, who will bring renewal to Israel , and who will instruct Gentiles in the way of the Lord. Jesus longed for the fulfillment of the promises and the prophecies, a fulfillment that would bless Israel and the nations alike. The estrangement of the church from Israel was not the result of Jesus’ teaching or Paul’s teaching. Rather, the parting of the ways, as it has been called in recent years, was the result of a long process”—Craig Evans , From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation.

Atheist Fundamentalism by Matt Rawlings

My friend Matt Rawlings (a former atheist), wrote this provocative post on his blog.  Feel free to discuss it with Matt. I know he’s not busy at all.

By Matt Rawlings

I was shocked and somewhat amused by the emergence of atheist churches a while back. I was even more befuddled by the campaign for atheist chaplains. But then I began seeing the term “atheist fundamentalists” in apologetic literature and blog posts and it all fell together–the new atheists are truly a sectarian movement placing blind faith in materialism and refusing to listen to reasoned criticism. The new atheists are actually religious fundamentalists!

Merriam-Webster defines fundamentalism as follows, ” a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.” One needs to look no further than the new atheists’ absolute commitment to Darwinism despite its flaws. In fact, when Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould, the most respected paleontologist of the modern era, criticized evolution for the lack of evidence in the fossil record as well as logical problems with the theory, he was viciously attacked by the likes of Richard Dawkins.

For example, it is clear that random mutations may render a creature more prone to attack rather than benefit it. An appendage that is neither an arm or a wing is simply a liability in a predatory environment. When Gould raised the question of what good part of an eye would benefit a creature supposedly “on the way to sight”, Richard Dawkins attacked his inquiry with the empty dismissal that it was, “not a very good question.” Darwkins actually tried to assert that a part of an eye gave partial sight. Of course, Gould’s question was a fine one because a part of an eye does not necessarily give partial sight, in fact, it gives absolutely nothing but rendering the creature subject to a greater risk of attack by predators. Yet, Dawkins, an many any other new atheist, refused to even concede this fact. Such an uncritical dismissal of any challenge to one’s worldview is by definition fundamentalism.

To read on, click here: