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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Does History Show a War between Science and Religion?

We hear all the time that science and religion are at odds, and the beliefs of the "superstitious" or the "dogma" of the church have always hampered scientific progress that could greatly benefit mankind. But as Dr. John Lennox notes in this video, the facts of history belie such a tale.

In this video clip Lennox takes two of the more famous conflicts of history, Galileo's confirmation of Copernicanism and the debate between Thomas Henry Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, and shows that these events, rather than epitomizing the conflict, prove that the conflict storyline is simply inaccurate. He then closes with the assertion that most honest historians of science have recognized all along: Christianity provided the foundation and the flourishing of our modern scientific enterprise.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Christian Martyrdom and Tertullian

Several news sources are reporting on the increased persecution of Christian house churches in China. When China fell to the communists in 1949, the atheistic government discouraged any practice of religion and missionaries were basically removed from the country. For the next thirty years, Christians in the West were left to assume that the church had been stamped out by the state. However, once relations softened between the Chinese government and the West, we were surprised to see a populous and thriving house church movement that seemed to increase under persecution.

This reminded me of the quote by Tertullian in his Apology for the Christians and it makes me ponder two thoughts. While martyrdom has been "the seed of the church," Tertullian also said that Christians don't hope for it for its own sake, but that the truth of Christ may claim ultimate victory. So we should pray and do what we can for all those persecuted for the name of Jesus across the globe. Secondly, with the western church so soft, I wonder how we would embrace such a calling as martyrdom. Would we see it the way Tertullain and those in his day did? If not, then what do we love more, Christ or our comfort?

WHAT reason then, say you, have we Christians to complain of our sufferings, when we are so fond of persecution; we ought rather to love those who persecute us so sweetly to our heart's content. It is true, indeed, we are not against suffering, when the Captain of our salvation calls us forth to suffer: but let me tell you, it is with us in our Christian warfare as it is with you in yours, we choose to suffer as you choose to fight; but no man chooses fighting for fighting sake, because he cannot engage without fear and hazard of life. Yet, nevertheless, when the brave soldier finds he must engage, he battles it with all his power, and if he comes off victorious is full of joy, though just before not without his complaints of a military life, because he has obtained his end, laden with glory, laden with spoil.


And now, O worshipful judges, go on with your show of justice, and, believe me, you will be juster and juster still in the opinion of the people, the oftener you make them a sacrifice of Christians. Crucify, torture, condemn, grind us all to powder if you can; your injustice is an illustrious proof of our innocence, and for the proof of this it is that God permits us to suffer; and by your late condemnation of a Christian woman to the lust of a pander, rather than the rage of a lion, you notoriously confess that such a pollution is more abhorred by a Christian than all the torments and deaths you can heap upon her. But do your worst, and rack your inventions for tortures for Christians—it is all to no purpose; you do but attract the world, and make it fall the more in love with our religion; the more you mow us down, the thicker we rise; the Christian blood you spill is like the seed you sow, it springs from the earth again, and fructifies the more.

Reeve, A.M. The Apology of Tertullian. Chapter 50. Accessed 2/22/2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top Ten Christian Breakup Lines

Last week, in celebration of Valentine's Day, I published my list of Top Ten Christian Pickup Lines. It was my little gift to those who didn't have anyone to celebrate the holiday with. Now, I thought I also should do a good turn to those who were expecting to celebrate the day with that special someone, but the wretch was a no-show. So, here are my Top Ten Christian Break-up Lines. These are seasoned with just enough humility and holiness to sound genuine, while getting that good-for-nothing out of your life. All in the name of Christian service.
  • 10. "You're my sister (or brother) in the Lord, and I just don't feel right about dating my sister."
  • 9. "I'm Calvinist and we just weren't predestined to be."
  • 8. "I'm going to purify myself from all earthly pleasures."
  • 7. "My Old Testament studies will be taking up more of my time—in Qumran."
  • 6. "I'm modeling my life after Jesus, and he was celibate."
  • 5. "You're egalitarian and I'm complimentarian, so I just can't see how it will work out."
  • 4. "God loves me and must have a better plan for my life."
  • 3. "I've read C.S. Lewis' Four Loves and you're not one of them."
  • 2. "I feel like Peter: I used to walk on water when I thought of you but now I'm sinking and just need to get back into the boat."
  • 1."Your price isn't above rubies."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is a Necessary Being Really Necessary?

One of the things that thinkers have used to separate God from everything else is the fact that He is what you would call a necessary being. He is the necessary start to a chain of events that we see in existence today. Physicist Stephen Hawking describes an exchange that underlines why a beginning point is important in his book A Brief History of Time:

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"1
As you can see, the little old lady never really gave an answer that would explain anything. The line of turtles must stop somewhere, since they need to sit atop something to be held up themselves. Another example is the idea of origins. If I were to ask how it was that you came to be, you might respond by explaining how your parents met, were married and conceived you. " But," I may continue, " That’s just one link tin the chain. They had to come from somewhere — where did THEY come from?" " From their parents," you counter. "But what about them?" You can see how this quickly devolves into meaninglessness. Such responses to questions about the universe (and our own existence) are known as an infinite regress. When you try to explain the origin of something by adding one more link to the end, it doesn't help much, since you've merely moved the question back to "but where did that come from?"

We somehow need a necessary condition to begin our understanding of everything. We need a floor for our turtles to start piling up on, if you will.2 This is what we mean when we talk of a necessary being. If there is a God, we would find that He is the beginning of the effects which we see around us. If there is not a God, then something else must be the initial condition — the start of this whole universe and its attributes. Whatever the initial condition is, it must have some very specific qualities. That means that whatever answer someone offers, they must show that such an answer is capable of meeting these conditions.

Below is a short video where I note that the beginning of the universe must be either caused by God or by nothing at all. Of the two, I think God makes infinitely more sense.


1. Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Books, 1988) 1.
2. I use this phrase only for its illustrative purposes. If there is a floor, it is of course obvious that the turtles in the above example are unnecessary. To extend the analogy, the Earth could merely be resting on the floor with no turtles or possibly one turtle walking across that floor giving it movement. The main idea is that since a floor is required in all cases, the turtles can be removed and none of the explanatory power is lost, which demonstrates how the stack of turtles really are no help in explaining anything.
Image courtesy Design Alex Mittelmann, Coldcreation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage Debate

CNN just posted a video of a debate concerning same-sex marriage pitting Sherif Girgis, one of the co-authors of What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense against Andrew Koppelman, author of Defending American Religious Neutrality. As the web site says "Mr. Sherif argued against same-sex marriage, saying the issue was not about equality but rather what marriage is and the reasons states are involved in the question. He said 'marriage is fulfilled by the bearing and rearing of whole new children.' Mr. Koppelman made his case in favor of same-sex marriage by refuting Mr. Sherif’s thesis. Following their prepared remarks they answered questions from moderator Richard Fallon and audience members."

Sharif opens with the following argument:
  1. The main vision supporting same-sex marriage is mistaken. It's wrong on what marriage is, and in how it sets marriage apart from other bonds.
  2. Enshrining that new vision of marriage in law would be harmful for the common good, e.g. the reasons why the State gets involved at all in the marriage question.
  3. Mainstream arguments for same-sex marriage have a lot of internal contradictions that underscore their faulty reasoning.
This is a good exchange with respectful participants. The entire debate, which with Q &A runs just under an hour and can be found at

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