Archive for July, 2011

July 29th, 2011

The Validity of Plantinga’s Ontological Argument

by Max Andrews

In 1974 Alvin Plantinga developed a modal version of the ontological argument, which is as follows:

  1. The property of being maximally great is exemplified in some possible world.
  2. The property of being maximally great is equivalent, by definition, to the property of being maximally excellent in every possible world.
  3. The property of being maximally excellent entails the properties of omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection.
  4. A universal property is one that is exemplified in every possible world or none.
  5. Any property that is equivalent to some property that holds in every possible world is a universal property.
  6. Therefore, there exists a being that is essentially omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect (God).


Ax =df x is maximally great

Bx =df x is maximally excellent

W(Y) =df Y is a universal property

Ox =df x is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect

1 ◊(∃x)Ax                                                     pr


July 17th, 2011

Equipping Christians: Must Read Biblical Studies Books

by Max Andrews

I’ve provided a list of recommended books that will hopefully aid you in having a foundational Christian worldview by being knowledgeable in many fields.  Today I’ve provided a list of my top ten recommended biblical studies books.

10.  Bible Commentaries:  Commentaries will aid you in gathering critical background information for your text as well as assisting you in contextualizing the material.  Don’t become to reliant on commentaries for your exegesis, they should be used as a catalyst for deeper inquiry and to help you keep your contextual flow.  (For NT Exegesis I recommend the Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament series and for the OT I recommend Word Biblical Commentary.  I have found these two series to be quite beneficial, though there are several other excellent commentaries as well.)

9.  Lexical Aids:  Lexicons will aid you in handling biblical languages in more adept ways then commentaries.  I was never a student of Greek or Hebrew (I’m a student of German) but I found that lexical aids helped me understand tenses, conjugations, moods, and other grammatical features of the text.

8.  Diagrammatical Analysis by Lee Kanttenwein:  I admit, diagrammatical analysis is my least favorite component of exegesis but it is critical to a fundamental understanding of the text.  Getting down the grammar in absolutely critical for sound exegesis and will affect it more than you think.  It’s not much fun but it’s very important.

7.  Word and Works of Jesus by J. Dwight Pentecost:  Words and Works of Jesus give a complete comparison of the Gospels’ references to Jesus words and works.  You’ll be able to view side my side accounts, which is easy for noting comparisons, differences, and thematic elements/development when working through the Gospels.

6.  An Introduction to Early Judaism by James VanderKam:  This is an excellent book to aid you in understanding background information for Judaism.  This will help primarily with intertestamental studies and New Testament backgrounds.

5.  The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era:  Exploring the Background of Early Christianity by James Jeffers:  This book is incredibly beneficial for your New Testament backgrounds studies.  This will aid in placing your exegesis in its historical, social, and political contexts.  This book is a must for New Testament research.

4.  Reinventing Jesus by Ed Komoszewski et. al:  Reinventing Jesus is not only excellent in helping you understand the authorial intent of the Gospel writers but it also aids in apologetics.  It touches on types of literary, textual, and form criticisms and serves to aid in developing a sound model of historical reliability for the Gospels.

3.  Jesus in Context by Farrell Bock and Gregory Herrick:  I have found this book to be one of the most valuable works on historical background information when it comes to studying the Gospels and Jesus.  This will provide historical background on passages and how it relates to what other historians have said.  It will list a passage for you and then give you relevant historical data as provided by Babylonian texts, the Talmud, Josephus, and other historical figures and documents.

2.  Grasping God’s Word:  A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays:  This book will teach you all the necessary steps and components for a sound biblical exegesis.  You will learn what steps are taken in exegesis and when those steps should be completed.  This also helps break down the different methods and requirements needed to exegete different biblical genres.  This is an absolute must for biblical studies students.

1.  Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson:  If you don’t have this book you need to click the link and buy it right now.  This book will teach you the boundaries in your exegesis.  This is not an introductory book for exegesis, you’re already expected to know hermeneutics, this will teach you to fine-tune your hermeneutic and caution you of the so-many fallacies that are often committed.

July 9th, 2011

In a World Without God, Will There be Justice for Caylee Anthony?

by Max Andrews

Little Caylee Anthony was almost three years old when she tragically died by drowning in a swimming pool (as claimed by her mother’s defense attorney).  Her mother, Casey Anthony, whom many believe murdered Caylee, was found not guilty of being responsible for her child’s death.  Suppose that Casey Anthony really did murder Caylee but she got away with it (some may argue that’s really the case).  If Caylee was murdered and it was ruled out as an accident or mere happenstance, where is justice?

A life without God means that there will be no ultimate recompense for evil.  What goes wrong may never be set right.  I’m not saying that if you don’t believe in God then there won’t be justice; what I’m saying is that if God does not exist there will be no justice.  This is more than just the Caylee Anthony case.  Without God, man is the measure of all things.  The court system is as good as it gets for justice.  What if as-good-as-it-gets doesn’t fulfill what we known it ought to be?  Even if a court system punishes someone for a crime, the knowledge of that crime is not exhaustive and can at best be partial.  Every party’s thoughts and motives are not known like God would know them if he were to exist.  Wrongs are still hidden from the eyes of men.

This is simply a sobering thought to consider.  If there is no God, there is no hope for justice.  The only reliance of compensating for wrongs are through one’s self.  Your evils will never be atoned for and you will die a petty person unjustified.  The evils that have been committed against you will never be atoned for either.  Without God, justice is ultimately illusory and we are left in a pathetic state of affairs.

July 5th, 2011

The Intolerance Continues Against Frank Turek

by Max Andrews

I was checking some analytics from my blog today and noticed that there was a referral to my blog that I had not noticed before.  It was from the forum for agnosticism/atheism.  Granted, I’m not a “neutral” site, I’m open about my theistic beliefs; however, I found it interesting to be categorized with “the usual” “Liberals hate Christians and the Gays are taking over.”  What is perplexing about this categorization is that I don’t have anything in my initial post on Turek, my follow-up post, or my whole blog for that manner, that has anything about “gays taking over” or “liberals [hating] Christians”.  If anything, my posts were more politically oriented trusting in our freedom of religion to be preserved and recognized by the United States (see the original post for citations).  I’ve claimed that this is a religious issue simply because that’s the problem Cisco has with Turek, which is something protected by the Civil Rights Act.

This person who posted the initial thread claimed that at that time (June 29), he/she could not have found any other information about Turek or the Cisco incident.  I’m not quite sure how this person found my blog but I’m glad it was found and shared where it was.  What’s interesting about this is that many of the thread contributors in this forum serve my previous points well.  All of this is so hypocritical (assuming they value tolerance).  Some of these posts are just great.  I’ve cited a couple for your information (and perhaps your entertainment).

If the guy is a contractor rather than an actual employee, I don’t think the usual rules apply viz. his “employment”, since he wasn’t technically employed by the company in question, but just brought in to go some motivational thingies (that most workplaces would be better off without, IMHO).  He would be no more of an “employee” than the exterminator that might be contracted to handle insect problems.

His homophobia, I think, might well qualify as interfering with his ability to perform the task he was contracted to serve.  Having denounced certain classes of people, that could easily preclude his being able to be a good motivator for people he has denounced. (AtheistKeith)


I would think it partially had to do with how his outside activities effect his performing his job.

If he is a motivational speaker I assume his job is to motivate the people at Cisco to make them better workers.

If I were working at Cisco and I knew the motivational speaker trying to rev me up was someone who thought I was supposed to be a second class citizen and was basically anti “me” I am not going to be very  motivated by him because I am going to be assuming everyone out of his mouth is as much bull$hit.

It’s not like he was fired for just thinking things. He wrote a book and gives public talks against gay rights. And then wants to go motivate the workers at a company that employs many gay and gay friendly employees?

Sometimes what you do in your private life effects your ability to do your job. When it doesn’t you should be able to do, think, or say what ever you want. When it does then that is a different story.

I don’t know if this should qualify or not, but it seems like it is a possibility. It would depend on if knowledge of this has actually made him ineffective. Have people refused to attend his talks? Have his talks not resulted in an increase in what ever they are supposed to increase since this has become known to the employees?

If not, and if he doesn’t identify himself as having any kind of relationship with Cisco when he gives his anti gay work, then he shouldn’t be fired. If it does negatively effect [sic] his ability to do his job, or he is publicly identifying as a Cisco employee, then I think they probably have some kind of grounds.

Also, if I read this right he really isn’t an employee of the company, but rather he was a vendor. That is a very different relationship and I don’t know if the same rules apply to vendors that would apply to actual employees.
Since his function was to teach team building, and since I don’t think that writing books and giving public speeches about how some of the other people on your team should not have equal rights is a good way to build a cohesive team, I think Cisco can make a good case for having just cause for terminating him. But we will see what the courts say. (TonyM9)

Now here is one of the more substantive posts.

Like you I’m not finding a ton of stuff. However, Here is his “secular” website advertising his consulting work

It mentions that he has published 3 books, one of which apparently was part of the problem the employee had with him.

Then, there is his religious site

Apparently, he uses both to advertise himself and his work.  Since his business site refers to his books and his other web sites, it strikes me that his “not mentioning these things at work” is a non-starter, since he makes his opinions well known publically, for profit. Consultants and coaches should recognize that their personal brand can’t be set up for one group of people on one web site and for another group on a different site, without overlap.

I gather from reading that he was paid for the complete contract he had as a vendor–that would likely make it more or less impossible to sue, depending on the contract–after all, what was his loss? (shopper113)

It’s true that Turek links his consulting website to resources available for defending the Christian worldview.  My question is, why is this a problem?  How is making information available on his consulting website inconsistent with Cisco’s values (see original post)?  It’s all the same and those who march under the banner tolerance and diversity who simply do not tolerate different beliefs other than what they believe is simply inconsistent using an old banner to purport their own intolerant agenda.

July 5th, 2011

Intelligent Design and Science Education Policy

by Max Andrews

I decided to gather together an easy-to-follow outline of the evolution of (how apropos) science education policy and intelligent design with a particular focus on the role of the Discovery Institute.

The New Debate over Teaching Evolution

  • It’s about science, NOT religion.
  • It’s about teaching MORE about evolution, not less.
  • The problem isn’t that we are teaching too much about evolution rather we are not teaching enough about evolution.
  • It’s about freedom of speech and academic freedom.
  • Discovery Institute has “transformed the debate [over evolution] into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.” New York Times, August 21, 2005

Discovery Institute’s “Teach the Controversy” Approach

  • Teach the scientific evidence for and against Darwin’s theory, but don’t try to mandate the study of alternatives to Darwin like intelligent design.
  • This tries to not politicize intelligent design.
  • This was DI’s policy before Dover, and it remains the policy after Dover.

The State of the Debate:  before Dover, the Disovery Institute’s approach was working…

  • Congress encouraged teaching the “full range of scientific views” on “biological evolution” in the No Child Left Behind Act Conference Report (2001).
    • Applicable to school districts and states.
    • This was not legally obligatory.
    • Seven states adopted science standards requiring critical analysis of evolution (2002-2005).
      • AL, MO, OH, NM, PA, MN, KS
      • TX Board of Education forced corrections in national science textbooks (2003-2004).
        • Haeckel’s embryos were removed from a few textbooks.
        • DI proposed five binders of peer-reviewed material that critiqued the errors in the textbooks.
        • Grantsburg, WI school board adopted critical analysis of evolution policy (2004).
          • A minister was on the Grantsburg proposed a mandate of teaching creationism and intelligent design.
          • DI discussed the issue and the board repealed the former proposal.
          • There were no legal challenges to the board.
          • Dover:
            • Then ID was later mandated (at fault due to Thomas Moore legal); DI rejected this and encouraged repeal.
            • There was an explicit religious reason by Bill Buckingham.
            • Ohio adopted “Critical Analysis of Evolution” model lesson plan (2004).
  • Due to strength of the DI arguments, no result of lawsuit.

Then Came Dover…

  • Ignoring the Discovery Institute’s advice, the Dover, PA school board in 2004 adopted a policy to require the mentioning of ID in science classes.
  • Policy adopted by the board at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, and ironically did not even give students substantive information about intelligent design.
  • In December 2005 federal judge John E. Jones issued a decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover that declared ID unconstitutional. 

Negative Impact of Dover

  • Ohio
    • February 14, 2006: Ohio board repealed critical analysis of evolution science standard and model lesson plan
  • Kansas
    • Repealed critical analysis of evolution standards in February 2006

The Discovery Institute’s approach is still working… Science Education Standards

  • South Carolina (2006) has adopted a critical analysis of evolution science standard: “Summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”
  • Texas State Board of Education (2009) has adopted pro-teach the controversy science standards.
    • “Critical thinking standard requires students to “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.”
    • Evolution indicators require students to “analyze and evaluate” evolutionary claims about “natural selection,” “mutations,” and “common ancestry.”
    • Students also requires to “analyze and evaluate” evolutionary explanations for abrupt appearance in the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.
    • Stephanie Simone March 27, 2009 “Texas Opens Classroom Door for Evolution Doubts” Wall Street Journal

Academic Freedom Legislation

  • In 2006, Mississippi adopted an academic freedom bill: “No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussion and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life.”
  • Louisiana Science Education Act (2008)

Local School District Policies

  • Local school districts in LA and CA have adopted teach the controversy policies.

The Challenge from Darwin-Only Advocates

The Battle for Public Opinion

July 3rd, 2011

The Crohn’s Chronicles: Second Thoughts

by Max Andrews

As many of you know, I’ve been battling Crohn’s disease for seven years now.  Most recently I’ve been struggling through a flare up that has lasted over a month now.  I’ve been treated as an outpatient for this flare up with antibiotics, steroids, and painkillers.  This past Thursday I had an appointment with my gastrointestinal doctor.  I want to add that this was a very timely appointment for if I had not been going to see this doctor I would have been going to the hospital because I was in so… much… pain… The doctor came in and asked about my medications and I told him I’ve gotten worse since being on them.  He saw the amount of pain I was in and within one minute of him seeing me he said, “I’m sending you to the hospital.”  My doctor’s concern was that I may need to have an emergency surgery to remove this section of my intestines (which doesn’t necessarily fix the problem in the long run anyways, 50% of the time the Crohn’s returns).  On the drive to the hospital my mind started to feel overwhelmed and I told my wife, “I’m so tired of being in pain…

My doctor was kind enough to call the emergency room prior to us leaving his office to notify them that I was on my way.  When we arrived all I had to do was tell them my name and that I was a rush admittance. I waited for no more than two minutes and they got me into an ER room.  They hooked me up to a saline/potassium IV and gave me a morphine injection to help the ease my pain. The next moment they brought me my favorite, beloved, most hated hospital beverage–vanilla flavored barium (for my CT scan I was about to have).  Barium is disgusting. Leah (my wife) sat by my side and encouraged me the whole entire time.  Mid-drink Leah told me, “We’ve still got to see this as a blessing, Max.”  This statement has dominated most of my thoughts since that Thursday morning.

I recently wrote a blog post on the blessings of having a disease.  It’s so easy to look back on to something and try to pull the good out of it.  It’s hard to look forward and expect bad things to happen and to pull the good from it then simply because the definitions of the situations have yet to be set, it’s unknown.  The hardest thing to do is in the midst of pain, look at yourself, keep a straight face and tell yourself that you honestly believe that there is good in this.  The morphine didn’t do much for me in the ER.  Not much longer than fifteen minutes after my first injection I needed another.  The nurse told me that I had been given enough morphine to hold me over for two hours.

Allow me to give a context for my pain levels this past month.  I don’t quite know how to compare the actual physical pain to something more recognizable but I’ve always said it’s like digesting glass or someone reaching into your gut, squeezing intestines and twisting them around.  My mother has recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s (she was diagnosed this past month amidst all of this).  She has said the pain is similar to child-birth (and I’ve heard many people compare the pain to child-birth as well).  Anyways, the pain has progressively grown more in frequency and intensity in the last month.  Sometimes the day would be great with minimal problems–others a blur from coping with it.  I went through three bottles of [prescription] pain killers in one month trying to deal with this.  The last week leading up to this most recent hospital visit got so bad that I started to develop back pains.  I’ve had back pains in the past so I figured it was just another problem that could be treated with back rubs and Icy-Hot.  I soon came to learn that my back pain was from Crohn’s.

Well, to resume the story, I wasn’t in the ER very long at all and I never did get my [needed] injection of morphine.  While in the ER the pain got so bad again that I gave myself a fever.  I arrived at the hospital with a 98.6 degree temperature.  Modestly, I wasn’t in the ER for over an hour.  By the time I got to my room I developed a 100.4 degree fever.  My RN came into my room as I was being wheeled in and she promptly went to get me some morphine and made a comment to someone roughly similar to, “Why are they not giving him morphine? Do they not see how much pain he is in?” You couldn’t have played Bach’s Fugue in C-Sharp Minor and tell me that this nurse’s words weren’t sweeter music to my ears.  My nurse told me that my fever was developed by my attempts of dealing with the pain.  When I was being wheeled into my room that first time I noticed that I was on the oncology floor.  I asked the nurse if she knew something that I didn’t and why I was on the oncology floor.  She said that the oncology unit specializes in pain control and that it was the best place for me to be at the time.  She made me smile at that (which also helped remove oncology-related questions and concerns).

My mother-in-law came to visit me within the first few hours of my stay and while she was there I was wheeled out for my CT scan.  She stayed with Leah in the room while I made my way to X-Ray for the scans.  CT scans aren’t my favorite but they don’t last very long.  To help with imaging they inject a radioactive contrast moments prior to the scan.  While being scanned you get a metallic taste in your mouth, a sensation similar to wetting yourself (I don’t know what it is but if they hadn’t warned me about that the first time I would’ve thought I had actually wet myself…), and a feeling of intense heat running through your body.  Well, I got my results later that afternoon.  My intestines had become so inflamed that it had put pressure on and displaced my kidney.  My kidney was responsible for my back pain (lower right back) and the inflammation, directly or indirectly by the kidney, put pressure some nerves, which intensified the pain.

That first night in the hospital, Thursday, I was being taken well care of by the nurses and doctors.  I can honestly say that I’m very impressed with the Lynchburg General Hospital staff.  I had a fairly liberal amount of morphine at my will when needed.  My way of testing my pain levels was taking in a deep breath and trying to sit up.  Breathing in caused the rest of my organs to move around just enough for my intestines to be irritated and sitting up moved my back enough to cringe.  My last injection was at 10 PM Thursday night when I wasn’t feeling much pain any more.  I love my pain killers but I love getting rid of the pain over masking it and I became determined to get out of the hospital.  The rest of my stay was wait-and-see.  I was being pumped full of intense treatment, which was a couple different antibiotics and steroids.  The next day, Friday, the doctor was surprised to see how far I’ve come with all the pain.  He thought for sure I would be in the hospital until at least Monday.  I had an early discharge from the hospital Saturday morning–no surgery needed.

Leah has been such a blessing in my life.  I love my wife so much.  This was the second flare up in six months and she has been by my side every step of the way in prayer and support.  She slept over every night and the last night there she was so worn out from working a fourteen hour work day that while she was cuddling with me in my hospital bed she fell asleep with me in that tiny little bed the whole night.  The nurses thought it was the cutest thing ever.  My mother and her fiancé, Howie, visited me Saturday afternoon, which was quite pleasant and needed.  I love my family so much.

Well, though my physical pain has passed away for the time being, my emotional and spiritual pain has intensified.  I started putting my mind in the way of hard questions.  I don’t want to say I started doubting but I wanted to keep my mind balanced.  I needed to check my balance between my emotions and my academics/intellect.  I started asking questions like: “Is there a God?” and “Why would God allow this?”  Despite my situation, the questions weren’t too hard to deal with and I credit having a strong foundation in my faith to not waver in the trials.  That’s not to say I didn’t have hard questions because I did.  The hard questions and struggles came when I realized that I started living in fear of pain.  I didn’t want to eat anything because I was afraid of the pain.  I likened myself to Dr. House who always seeks a way out of his problems in efforts to avoid his own pain (both physical and non-physical pain). I was pleading with God to just give me a break.  “God, please, no more pain!” I pled with God to just let things going right for once.  I had an emotional break down that night and wept.  I wanted to be done with pain.  I wanted to not worry about finances and whether or not I can afford to have a sandwich with a buddy and not throw off the budget.  I wanted to be able to drive across town and not worry about the gas.  I wanted to have our two vehicles we once had instead of one.  I wanted to have a job with normal work hours or to not stretch for overtime because I know we need the extra money.  I wanted to not be on medicine and if I had to be on medicine, that it not have the side-effects that they do have (breaking out, bloating, digestive problems, mood problems, etc.).

There were so many problems running through my head that I just wanted a break from!  I then stopped and thought about my situation in the bigger scheme and got mad at myself for complaining about it.  I have a house that I can get mad at when the weather rips off the storms windows.  I have family that I can bicker with.  I have a car that I can curse at yell at when it stalls in the middle of an intersection almost causing an accident. I have a job with great employers and coworkers who bend over backwards for me and visit me in the hospital.  I have medicine to treat my problems.  I have a great argument for every problem I have as to why it shouldn’t be a problem to me.  But still… I asked God, in my context, I would like things to go smooth just for a while…

This is where I am right now.  I’m trying to work all this out, hoping for things to smooth for me.  To not have these stresses build up causing me to break down every once in a while.  My life is good, it’s real good.  God has been so great to me.  The hard thing is being okay with it in my own context.  I know that the prayers of family and friends are what God used to expedite my care this past hospital stay.  I thank all of you so much for it.  I love you all.  Please continue to pray for me as I deal with the questions and that I will be sensitive to God’s work in me, that I may have His perspective on things and that I not get too entangled in my own sight and contexts.  I said earlier that the hardest thing to do is in the midst of pain, look at yourself, keep a straight face and tell yourself that you honestly believe that there is good in this.  I’ve come to learn that in the midst of pain, it’s easier to not look at myself, but to look to my heavenly Father and tell him that I honestly believe that there is good in this… even if I can’t see it right now…