A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Can we justify concepts like logic, moral values, and universals from a naturalistic, atheistic perspective? Or do we need a transcendent grounding like historic Christianity’s explanation for these meaningful realities?

Using a type of abductive logical reasoning (referred to as an inference to the best explanation), I’ll illustrate how five profound realities are plausibly explained by Christian theism.

Accounting for Five Meaningful Realities

1. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of abstract, nonphysical entities.

Some of the most wondrous realities of life are things that cannot be observed by the human senses. These abstract, intangible realities are conceptual in nature and include such entities as numbers, propositions, sets, properties, the laws of logic, moral values, and universals. Many people consider these conceptual realities to be objective, universal, and, of course, invisible.

On atheism, it is difficult to ground these conceptual realities. However, the Christian theistic worldview grounds them in the mind of an infinite, eternal, and personal spiritual being. God is the Creator of both the visible and the invisible, the source of both the sensible and the intelligible.

2. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of objective moral values.

Moral values are a fundamental part of human life, every bit as real as the law of gravity. And people are generally intuitively cognizant of their moral obligations. In their hearts, people experience the pull of moral duty. This sense of moral oughtness is prescriptive (how things should be) not descriptive (how things are) in nature, and it transcends mere subjective feelings.

Unlike secular attempts to account for morality, the ethics of Christian theism are grounded in the morally perfect nature of God who has revealed his will to humankind in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. God’s existence and nature provide a source and foundation for objective moral values.

3. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the purpose and significance that human beings yearn for in their lives.

If God doesn’t exist and the universe is merely the product of blind, purposeless, natural processes, then from a logical standpoint there can be no objective meaning to life. Given a nontheistic perspective, the fact that people exist becomes simply an improbable accident of evolution.

Humanity’s deep sense of, and need for, meaning comports well with the Christian truth claim that God created human beings in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and that humanity’s greatest needs are to be reconciled to God and to enjoy fellowship with him forever. The Christian theistic worldview, with its unique gospel of gracious redemption in Christ, offers genuine meaning, purpose, and significance to sinners estranged from God and from their destiny.

4. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the enigma of human nature.

One of the chief realities a belief system must explain before gaining acceptance involves the enigmatic nature of human beings. Human nature poses a paradox. Humans are capable of greatness in mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, compassion, and generosity. Yet humans are equally capable of such shameful and evil acts as racism, robbery, rape, slavery, murder, and genocide. Explaining human nature apart from the reality of God represents an extraordinary philosophical, psychological, and spiritual feat.

The Bible seems to hold the secret to unraveling the enigma of human nature. The Christian theistic worldview asserts that humans’ greatness is a direct result of the imago Dei. As creatures made in the image and likeness of God, humans reflect the glory of their Maker. Human wretchedness, on the other hand, can be traced to the first human beings’ fall into sin. Thus humans are simultaneously great and wretched.

5. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the extraordinary life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to the historically reliable documents of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth made unparalleled claims to divine authority during his public ministry. Jesus fulfilled dozens of very specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the identity, mission, and message of the coming Messiah. These prophecies, which give precise details about the birth, heritage, life, and death of the long-awaited Messiah, were amazingly fulfilled by Jesus.

Jesus was a prolific miracle worker. He healed incurable diseases, restored sight to the blind, multiplied small amounts of food to feed thousands of people, calmed a storm, walked on water, and even raised the dead.

Jesus exhibited a matchless moral character during his three-year public ministry that changed the world. Not only did his teachings contain incredible ethical insight, but he also perfectly fulfilled his lofty moral ideals.

Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is supported by at least seven lines of evidence. These include: (1) his empty tomb, (2) his many postcrucifixion appearances, (3) the transformation of the disciples from cowards to apostles and martyrs, (4) the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus into the apostle Paul, (5) the historical emergence of the Christian church, (6) the change in the official day of worship to Sunday to commemorate the day of Jesus’s resurrection, and (7) the fact that all alternative naturalistic explanations for the resurrection fail miserably.

Historical Christianity has both profound explanatory power and a considerable depth of explanatory scope when it comes to life’s most meaningful realities. Christians can use this explanation with confidence when engaging skeptics about the realities of life.

Resources:

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About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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