Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reflections on the Problem of Evil

Every living and breathing human being will come face to face with the question of evil in the world.  Without a doubt, we know that there is something wrong with us, something awry with the world around us.  Our encounters with evil pose a problem for all worldviews, but many feel that evil poses a particularly thorny difficulty for Christianity.
The oldest variation of the problem of evil, known as the logical problem of evil, originates with the Greek philosopher Epicurus:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

The 18th-century Scottish skeptic, David Hume, revived Epicurus’ objection against God based on evil in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.  The logical problem of evil argues that God and evil are not logically consistent.  The short form of the propositional argument is simple:
If God exists, then evil does not exist.
Evil exists (i.e., it is false that evil does not exist).
Therefore, God does not exist.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Philosophy, Worldview and Evangelism: Cultivating a Credible Cultural-Intellectual Context

"The gospel is never heard in isolation.  It is always heard against the background of a worldview.  A person raised in a cultural milieu in which Christianity is still seen as an intellectually viable option will display an openness to the gospel which a person with a naturalistic or postmodern worldview will not.  One may as well tell her to believe in fairies or leprechauns as in Jesus Christ!

"One of the awesome tasks of thoughtful Christians in our day is to help turn the contemporary intellectual tide in such a way as to foster a worldview in which Christian faith can be regarded as an intellectually credible option for thinking men and women."  ((Garrett J. DeWeese and J. P. Moreland, Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions [Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2005], 157.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Thoughts: Clifford Williams, Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith

One of my joys in the early part of this summer has been catching up on some personal reading.  Last week, I was able to finish reading Existential Reasons for Belief in God, by Clifford Williams (a philosopher at Trinity College in Illinois).  Existential Reasons  is an appeal to allow satisfaction of human needs to play a crucial role in the construction and justification of faith in God.  Accordingly, Williams fits into a contemporary scene marked by the feeling that purely rational apologetics (e.g., theistic proofs, historical proofs for the resurrection and/or reliability of the New Testament) are insufficient (and unpersuasive).    Following the jump, I offer a brief outline and summary of Williams' work, along with a few thoughts and constructive criticisms.

Clifford Williams, Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires & Emotions for Faith. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. 188 pp.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Brief Book Musings: J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity

It has been a pleasure to have time for "my own" reading at the beginning of this summer.  The past two years have been incredibly busy, and have not afforded me much time for reading of my own choice.  Over the past couple of weeks I have managed to carve out some time to read books I've been interested in reading.  Yesterday I posted a brief review of David Naugle's Philosophy: A Student's Guide.  Today, I want to share, very briefly, some musings on J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels.  I will not offer up a full summary and outline.  Rather, I will just share some brief thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of Wallace's work.

J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013. 288 pp. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Review: David Naugle, Philosophy: A Student's Guide (Crossway, 2012)

In what follows, I will share a brief (1700-word) review of David Naugle's 2012 book on the Christian practice of the philosophical discipline.  I hope the review will give you a good summary of Naugle's intentions and content; but I hope moreover that it will spur you to read his book for yourself (it is a relatively quick read at only 114 pages) and to passionately engage in philosophical investigation to the glory of God.

Naugle, David K. Philosophy: A Student’s Guide. Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition (David S. Dockery, ed.). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. 125 pp.

David Naugle’s slim volume endeavors to challenge Christian philosophers to ensure that their philosophy is being done coram Deo – before the face of God (19).  As part of a series geared toward identifying and building upon a faithful and intentional Christian scholarship, Naugle’s desire is that Jesus Christ be the Lord of his (and your) philosophy (101).