Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “atheism”

Street Epistemologists – On Guard 8

Street EpistemologyIn our last post in this series about street epistemologists, we looked at the Second Step in Faith Defense. We introduced the idea of a ‘complete’ model of biblical preaching which includes ‘warning’ and ‘teaching’ every man ‘in all wisdom.’ The purpose of this complete model of biblical preaching is that we ‘may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.’

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28

The word ‘warning’ is a translation of the Greek word noutheteo, which means ‘to put in mind, warn, admonish, exhort.’ The word ‘teaching’ is a translation of the Greek word didaskontes, which means ‘teach, direct, give instruction, admonish.’ The word ‘perfect’ is a translation of the Greek word teleion, which means ‘mature, having reached its end, finished, complete in all its parts, full grown, of full age.’

Let’s expand our view of Paul’s warning to the Colossian Christians to see how it can help parents and church leaders deal with the many challenges our children face today.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 7

Street EpistemologyWe have spent the last couple of months looking at street epistemologists and their goal of talking young theists out of their belief in God. That is not my ‘opinion’ or ‘interpretation’ of their goal – it is their ‘stated’ purpose.

“The goal of this book is to create a generation of Street Epistemologists: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, and the community–into any and every place the faithful reside–and help them abandon their faith and embrace reason.” (A Manual For Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Chapter I, Pitchstone Publishing, 2013)

Since starting this series about street epistemologists, I have heard from atheists who say they are not ‘after our children’ and Christians who say I am ‘overreacting to atheists.’ I have also heard from many Christian parents who share with me a deep concern about their children’s future.

In this final section of our special series, Street Epistemologists – On Guard, we are sharing the 5 Steps to Faith Defense that will help prepare your children and children in your church to face the enemy head on. If you haven’t read the first step, Be Aware, please read that before moving to the next step.

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 23

When a theist presents ‘evidence’ to an atheist for the existence of God, the atheist will often challenge the theist with whether the supernatural is ‘falsifiable.’ In other words, is a belief in God ‘testable?’ Atheists say that ‘religious beliefs,’ beliefs in the existence of a supernatural God, are not falsifiable because they cannot be verified or denied.

That was one of my challenges to theists, and Christians in particular, when I was an atheist. How can the theory of supernaturalism be tested empirically and shown to be false based on results from the testing (falsifiable)? Christians I talked with on my daily radio show would answer with a one-word answer — ‘faith.’ My answer to them was usually a question — ‘faith in what? You can’t see God, touch God, hear God, taste God or smell God. How can you test something that is not there?’ You can imagine how popular I was with Christians in those days.

When I began my investigation into the truth claims of theism and Christianity, that issue of falsifiability was paramount in my processing the ‘supposed evidence’ of the supernatural. I kept searching for evidence that could be tested and found historical, archaeological and textual evidences testable.

Atheists now ask me why I even bothered with those evidences since none of them ‘prove’ the existence of God (the supernatural). My answer is simple: if Christianity could not stand up to an investigation of the most basic of natural information, then it certainly couldn’t support the weightier matters of supernatural investigation. If Christianity failed at the basic level, I believed my investigation would have ended there.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 6

Street EpistemologyYou’ve seen the reports …

About 70% of Christian youth leave the church after high school and 80% of those teens said they had no plans during high school to leave their church (LifeWay Research, 2007). Research showed that most of the dropout took place between the ages of 17 and 19. The majority of teens in the study said they stopped going to church because they no longer saw it as important to their life. Some eventually return to church attendance when they have children of their own, but many do not.

Less than 0.5% of the young adult population in the United States has a biblical worldview. (Barna Group Research, 2009)

I started questioning Christianity at the age of 12 and left the ‘faith’ of my parents at the age of 17 (I say my ‘parent’s faith’ because it was never my faith). Within one year of leaving the church I was an atheist. Unfortunately, that is the story of hundreds of thousands of Christian families in North America and Europe.

That fact makes the disguised ‘interventions’ of street epistemologists even more dangerous because the Church has not equipped children and young adults to know why they believe what they believe.

In this final section of our special series, Street Epistemologists – On Guard, we will share the 5 Steps to Faith Defense that will help prepare your children and the children in your church to face the enemy head on.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 5

Street EpistemologyStreet epistemologists are trained to ‘talk people out of their faith.’ That can mean many things and go in many different directions depending on what theists know about their beliefs and why they believe what they believe.

We started this series about Street Epistemologists – On Guard several weeks ago because the author of A Manual For Creating Atheists tweeted this to his followers:

. Peter Boghossian @peterboghossian

These attempts to discourage people from being honest, less dogmatic, & more humble, will fail. http://
faithandselfdefense.com/2015/01/18/breaking-down-street-epistemology/

That tweet brought hundreds of atheists and street epistemologists to FaithandSelfDefense.com and many of them began to engage me in what I recognized as an ‘intervention’ to talk me out of my faith.

Recognizing when a ‘discussion’ is really an ‘intervention’ is very helpful in Faith Defense, but that’s the beginning of being ‘on guard.’ In addition to knowing ‘why’ street epistemologists want to talk with Christians (to talk them out of their faith), we also need to know ‘what’ they will do and say and ‘how’ they will do it. Read more…

Book Review: Brian Morley’s ‘Mapping Apologetics’

Mapping Apologetics Cover ImageI want to begin this book review by saying ‘BUY IT!’ Okay, now to the review.

First, let’s meet the author: Dr. Brian K. Morley is professor of philosophy and apologetics at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. He has been a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He is also the author of God in the Shadows: Evil in God’s World.

Dr. Morley’s new book is titled Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches (IVP Academic, 2015). He focuses on how people decide what to believe and poses the question this way: ‘How do we answer life’s most important question–the one on which everything else in life depends?” The subject of Morley’s book is the “foundational question of apologetics, the matter of proof.”

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in the “defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17) purchase this book and here’s why.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 4


Street Epistemology
Street epistemologists are trained in what their trainers believe are the best methods to ‘talk people out of their faith.’

In our previous post about street epistemologists, we saw that atheists are taught to ‘avoid facts’ when talking with theists. It’s part of what they call ‘intervention strategies.’ Street epistemologists believe that ‘faith,’ belief in God, is a ‘virus’ that must be removed from the ‘faithful.’ Street epistemologists are taught that theists experience ‘severe doxastic pathologies’ and need a cure. That cure, they believe, will come through an ‘intervention’ cloaked as a ‘discussion.’

I say ‘cloaked’ because street epistemologists are advised not to reveal their atheism during the intervention with a theist. They are also told that what they will be doing through the ‘intervention’ will be a great ‘help’ to the ‘delusional’ theist.

‘Your discussions with the faithful are a genuine opportunity for you to help people reason more reliably and feel less comfortable pretending to know things they don’t know. They also present an opportunity for you to further develop a disposition conducive to anchoring beliefs in reality.’ (A Manual For Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Pichstone Publishing, 2013, Chapter 4)

Let’s take a closer look at how street epistemologists are using their techniques for talking people out of their faith and read some examples.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 3

Street EpistemologyAvoid Facts. That’s the heading under ‘Part II: Strategies’ in atheist Peter Boghossian’s 2013 book titled A Manual For Creating Atheists. I find that both interesting and insightful to the methodology of what Boghossian calls ‘street epistemology.’

That statement, ‘Avoid Facts,’ is counterintuitive to my training and experience as an investigative journalist. ‘Fact’ is defined by a variety of dictionaries as ‘something that actually exists; reality; truth; something known to exist or to have happened; information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article.’

People like journalists, detectives, educators, scientists and scholars use ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’ as vital and necessary to their profession. The idea of ‘avoiding facts,’  it seems to me, is opposed to the search for truth.

Here’s how Peter Boghossian explains his reasons for training street epistemologists to ‘avoid facts.’

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 22

“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chronicles 36:15-21

Ishtar GateIn our last post about ancient Israel, I shared that there was enough archaeological evidence about Assyria taking Israel captive for me to continue investigating the claims of the Bible. I was an ardent atheist and journalist in search of the truth.

The next step in the investigation was to see what archaeological support there was for Babylon defeating Judah, taking the people captive and destroying the capital city, Jerusalem.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 2

Street EpistemologyIn the last part of our new series, we looked at ‘The Purpose of Street Epistemology’ and ‘How Street Epistemology Works.’ Based on the stated purpose of street epistemology — ‘talking people out of their faith,’ — we looked at the key terms of  ‘talking’ .. ‘people’ .. ‘out of’ .. ‘their faith.’

One of the keys to ‘how street epistemology works’ is the process of ‘interventions,’ which street epistemologists view as ‘liberating people of faith from their ignorance.’

I recently experienced an ‘intervention’ of sorts and would like to share it with you as an example of how it works.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 1

Street EpistemologyAn interesting thing happened to us at FaithandSelfDefense.com about a week ago. Well-known atheist professor Peter Boghossian tweeted this message to his followers:

These attempts to discourage people from being honest, less dogmatic, & more humble, will fail. http://
faithandselfdefense.com/2015/01/18/breaking-down-street-epistemology/

What followed that tweet by Dr. Boghossian was hundreds and hundreds of atheists clicking on the link to our article about Street Epistemology and many of them leaving comments and asking questions. Some of the people who commented described themselves as ‘street epistemologists,’ so it was a great opportunity to dialog with them about ‘faith’ and ‘reason.’

The purpose of this article is to both follow up on our previous post, ‘Breaking Down Street Epistemology,’ and share insights from our recent discussions with street epistemologists. As the post title suggests, be on guard.

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 21

“Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.” 2 Kings 25:1-2

According to the Bible’s description and timeline, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were conquered by foreign armies in the late 8th century BC (Israel) and early 6th century BC (Judah).

Really? Prove it!

That was my attitude as an atheist. Make all the claims you want, Bible believer, the burden is on you to prove it. As it turned out during my investigation into the ‘truth claims’ in the Bible, Christian apologists were able to show me evidence that pointed toward the existence of God.

I had found enough archaeological and historical evidence to warrant the continuation of my investigation into the Bible’s claims about Israel leaving Egypt and settling into Canaan. I also found extra-biblical evidence for Israel and Judah as kingdoms during the Iron Age (Iron II), but would I find any evidence for foreign invasion, exile and return?

Jews in Babylon Tablets

Credit: Daily Mail

I read an interesting article recently about a new exhibition of ancient clay tablets. The tablets were discovered in Iraq and archaeologists with expertise in ancient Babylonia and Assyria said they shed light on the time Jews spent in Babylonia more than 2500 years ago.

More than a hundred cuneiform tablets were on exhibition that included details about the lives of Jewish families that had moved from Judea to Babylon during the early part of the 6th century BC.

As interesting as that is to me now, those tablets were not available to me 44 years ago when I was investigating whether the Bible contained credible historical information. I was an atheist and thought the Bible was filled with myth and legend and lacked any evidence that would support the existence of the ‘God’ of the Bible.

So, what did I find during my search in 1971 and was it enough to keep me searching for evidence?

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Leaving the Faith – Really?

Question MarkWhat’s up with so many people ‘leaving the faith’? Why are they doing it?

First, we need to define two terms:

What does it mean to ‘leave’ something or someone?

What does it mean to leave ‘the faith?’

I understand walking away from a weak belief in something, but ‘leaving the faith?’ That’s hard to fathom for several reasons.

 

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Breaking Down Street Epistemology


Street EpistemologyStreet Epistemology
is a buzz word in the atheist community. I believe they (atheists) think they’ve found a sure-fire method for talking Christians “out of their faith.” How are they doing it?

You can watch street epistemologists at work in hundreds of videos on the Internet. While each atheist has his or her personal style, the techniques are basically the same. Knowing what they are doing and how they are doing it is one key to preparing Christian young people to talk with them in public and private venues.

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 19

Now the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king.’ Joshua 8:1-2

Joshua and Israel Crossing Jordan riverInvestigating what the Bible claims Joshua and the army of Israel did in Canaan involves a lot of detailed work. That’s because the Bible claims Israel defeated 31 city kings during the 14th century BC. As an atheist journalist in 1971, that looked like evidence that could be verified or denied using the tools of both history and archaeology. What did I find?

The 12th Chapter of the Book of Joshua lists the 31 kings that Israel supposedly defeated during its military campaign in Canaan.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 24)

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Church ApologeticsChristians in the United States often fret about how an unbelieving world is attacking the Church. We worry about what will happen to the Church if “this” happens or “that” happens.

What happens if unbelievers win more elections than believers do? What happens if more liberals are added to the Supreme Court? What happens if Christians become the minority in our country? What happens if churches lose their tax-exempt status? What happens if Christians lose their freedom to worship publicly in the U.S.? What happens if Christianity becomes illegal and the government closes all church buildings? What happens if the Church in the United States suffers severe persecution and loses millions of members? What will God do then?

I’m sure we all would love to keep the freedoms we have in our nation. Those of us who are older remember fondly the years when Christianity was a dominant force in society, but Christians could sense change was coming as far back as the late 1940s. As an atheist active in opposing Christianity in the 1960s and early 70s, I was part of that change (I am saddened to say) and it’s never been the same since.

Whatever you choose to call it – secularism, humanism, naturalism, materialism – our country is becoming less Christian every year. Unless something happens to change the course we’re on, Christians will be a small minority within one to two generations and possibly have little to no voice in what becomes of our country.

Before we fret too much, however, I think it’s important that we look at things from God’s perspective remembering that “as the heavens are higher than the earth,” so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Maybe a quick reminder of history will help.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 23)

Church ApologeticsArchaeology supports the Bible’s history about the human race being polytheistic from the 3rd millennium B.C. Following the lineage of Noah in Genesis 10 and 11, we see that the human race spread out after the confusion of language at Babel and moved to many parts of the earth. There the families of man worshipped many gods.

As far as we can tell from the Bible, archaeology and history, the entire human race had become polytheistic. We have no record of anyone worshipping the God of the Bible, the God who created the heavens and the earth and the first human beings. The human race served other gods, but not the true God.

What happened when the human race became practical atheists? God intervened? What happened when the human race built a city and tower toward heaven? God intervened. What happened when the human race became polytheists and worshipped anything except God? God intervened.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 22)

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:1-4

Church ApologeticsIt was not long after the Flood that the families of Noah and his sons decided to leave the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4) and travel to a plain in the land of Shinar (present day Iraq). There they began building a city and a tower “whose top is in the heavens.” They wanted to make a name for themselves, “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

This action was in direct disobedience to God’s commandment that they “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Why would the families of Noah and his sons do that?

Something happened to the hearts and minds of these people that led them toward a new worldview; one that would have devastating effects on the human race to this day.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 21)

“The only worldview that is true is God’s view of the world.”

Church ApologeticsIn the last part of our study we saw that the undeniable end of Satan’s worldview (“you will be like God, knowing good and evil”) was great wickedness and every intent of the thoughts of the hearts of humans being “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Satan’s worldview is every worldview except one – God’s.

We’ve seen in previous articles that worldviews that grew from Satan’s lie included atheism, agnosticism, polytheism, pantheism and panentheism. How did they develop and what can we learn from their development to understand how Satan is attacking the Church today?

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 14

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.” Exodus 2:16-17

Moses Parting Red SeaWhen we last looked at the life of Moses he was sitting by a well in the land of Midian. What must have been going through his mind? He was the biological son of Hebrew slaves, raised as the adopted son of a daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt. As Stephen recited in Acts 7:22 – “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.” How quickly things changed. At the age of 40 (Acts 7:23) Moses fled Egypt for a new life in Midian. What would he do there? How would he live? What would become of him?

I had my own questions about Moses in 1971. I had been content to be an atheist until three Christians presented evidence in answer to my questions about truth claims concerning Christianity. I wasn’t used to Christians having answers to my questions, so as a journalist I was curious to see where their evidence would go.

I looked at the Bible’s information about Moses from a journalistic perspective. I had investigated old stories before, but nothing this old. What was the evidence for Moses’ existence? Was the evidence testable? What about extra-biblical testimony? Did the information about Moses in the Bible read like history or mythology? Lots of questions, but what were the answers? And where would those answers lead me in my investigation? Would I find enough evidence to warrant continuing or would the story of Moses end my search for the truth about the existence of God?

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