Modern Pensées

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Archive for the ‘Evidentialism’ Category

3 Month Introspective

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So, I’ve been blogging consistently for three months.  This is the week of Christmas and I’ll be all over the place.  I thought I would briefly summarize the 3 months of blog series on here:

Blaise Pascal:  We took a look at Blaise Pascal’s thinking, its use of aphorism and its relationship to both tri-perspectivalism and presuppositionalism.  We also looked at his use of aphorism and his warnings against deism and atheism.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future, Parts 1-7:  We defined the term evangelical.  We looked at its historical roots in the First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, and its ties to celebrity culture, democritization of knowledge, and modernism.  Then we looked at the roots of liberalism, the Protestant split and suburbanization, and defined and outlined evangelical populism and their game plan for reaching America.  Finally we assessed the current status of American evangelicalism and then made some predictions of future trends.

Introduction to Apologetics, Parts 1-7:  We looked in broad strokes at the various schools of apologetics.  We then took a more in-depth look at:  Classical Apologetics, Evidentialist Apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics, and the specific apologetics of Blaise Pascal and Alvin Plantinga.  Finally, we employed the three phases football as an analogy for the different apologetic schools and I likened Tim Tebow to the presuppositionalists.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Parts 1-10:  We looked at some analysis of some shifts evangelicalism will need to make moving forward:  Doctrine, Worldview, Urbanization, Globality/Mobility, “Post-Modernism,” American Culture(s), Contextualization, Balance, and Final Analysis.

Top ~10 Books by Topic:

Top 10 Systematic Theology Texts

Top 10 Devotional Classics

Top 10 Books on the Church

Top 10 Books on Science and Christianity

Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

Top 10 Books on Culture

Top 10 Books on Eschatology

Top 5 Books on Worldview

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

Top 10 Books on Church History

Top 40 Books to Read While in College

Top 10 Books on Missions, Discipleship, and Evangelism

The 25 Most Destructive Books Ever Written…

Top 10 Apologetic Works

Top 10 Books on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Top 10 Books by John Piper

Top 5 Children’s Books

Best Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms of the Christian Church

A Comprehensive List of Top 10 Book Lists of 2009

Up Next:  We will be looking at some thoughts on the economy and investment and then delve into the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche…

Written by Michael Graham

December 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Introduction to Apologetics, Part 7: Concluding Thoughts

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Tim Tebow Presuppositionalist

Tim Tebow as Presuppositionalist

I see a place for all the apologetic schools in defense of Christianity.  There are some that are firmly entrenched in their particular school or tradition, and for the most part I understand where they are coming from.  I happen to think the presuppositionatlists are head and shoulders above the other schools and I happen to agree that their approach is the most Biblical, and therefore the most God glorifying.  However, I see a lot of value in the classical and evidentialist schools and I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water.  From a personal perspective, intelligent design, the teleological argument, and the ontological argument had a profound impact on my life.

I think the main value of evidences are to bolster pre-existing faith by showing that our faith is not unreasonable, unjustified, or unwarranted.  I think the main value of presuppositional apologetics is calling all non-Christian worldviews to task over the fact that they hold mutually exclusive propositions and cannot account for all things.

Perhaps its a silly analogy, but I liken apologetics to the three phases of footballoffense, defense, and special teams.  The presuppositionalists are on the offensive challenging false notions in other worldviews.  The classical and evidentialist apologetists are defending the reasonability of the Christian faith.  Then there are guys like Blaise Pascal, and Alvin Plantinga that specialize in kickoffs, punts, PATs, and field goals.  Together they present a coherent, consistent, and believable Christianity that makes sense of existence intellectually, emotionally, and experientially.

Introduction to Apologetics, Part 3: Evidentialist Apologetics

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Irreducible Complexity

Evidentialist Apologetics can be seen as a subset of classical apologetics mainly focusing on all the evidence supporting the Christian faith and its rationality.  Evidentialists can be looked at in three main overlapping categories:  those advocating A. Teleological Argument  B. The Intelligent Design Movement (which borrows from the Teleological Argument)  C.  Those promoting the reliability and historicity of the Bible, Jesus, miracles, and the resurrection.


William Paley (1743-1805) was the first to popularize the Teleological Argument by reworking some of Aquinas’ fivefold argument.  The argument is essentially that there is too much order, specialization, and fine-tuning in our world and the Universe for it to have been a product of mere chance.  Therefore, an intelligent and wise being must have created all of these things.  This being is God.  The problem with Paley is that he employed the analogy of God as a watchmaker who set the laws that governed the timepiece in motion.  Paley’s argumentation was critical for a young Darwin in seminary.  The impersonal (nearly deistic) picture painted by Paley, led others (Darwin) to look for naturalistic laws that could in turn replace God.

John Polkinghorne (1930-) has written extensively on the fine-tuning of the universe and has been an advocate of ongoing dialogue between science and religion (see also Michael Polanyi).

Intelligent Design Movement

The intelligent design movement is a movement of scientists, thinkers, and philosophers who are challenging scientific materialism (aka Naturalism or Neo-Darwinianism).  The aim of the movement is to get a seat at the table on the discussion of origins of life.  Many of their arguments are really quite sound science and present very damning (and in my view fatal) critiques of Darwinian macro-evolution.  Michael Behe (1952-) in his book Darwin’s Black Box argues that on the microbiological level many different things have the characteristic of irreducible complexity.  He employs the analogy of a mousetrap which has five pieces to it:  platfrom, spring, hammer, hold-down bar, and catch(cheese).  If you take away any one piece of the mousetrap then you have something that is functionally worthless, and therefore unable to catch any mice.  The mousetrap is irreducibly complex and is in its most simple state with its five components and therefore it has no functional precursor.  Behe then goes on to describe several things that have this characteristic of irreducible complexity, namely, the eye, flageullum, cilia, e. coli, adaptive immune system, and blood coagulation.

Other noteworthy scholars are William Dembski (1960-), Nancy Pearcey (1952-), Michael Denton (1943-), and Phillip Johnson (1940-), many of whom are involved with the Discovery Institute.

Reliability and Historicity of Bible, Jesus, Miracles, and Resurrection

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) spent his entire life defending the historicity of the Bible against the tsunami of doubt cast by higher and lower Bible criticism.  His New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable is an absolute classic and a fairly easy read.  Josh McDowell (1939-) has written on the historicity of the person of Jesus in his popular book More Than a Carpenter.   In a similar vein Lee Strobel (1952-) has written on the historicity and Biblicity of Jesus.  N.T. Wright (1948-) has written probably the best defense of the resurrection of Jesus in his terrific volume The Resurrection of the Son of GodC.S. Lewis (1898-1963) has written many important apologetic works what lands him here is his defense of miracles.

Up next is a look at presuppositional apologetics.

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