Archive for April, 2012

April 30th, 2012

Free Gary Habermas Books

by Max Andrews

As I came into the office this morning I saw Gary Habermas and we spoke for twenty or so minutes about his recent debate in New Orleans against Michael Shermer, Vic Stenger, and another atheist (which will be available down the road by Fortress Press.)  Dr. Habermas then came and briefly spoke in the class I assist with and promoted the philosophy department, the philosophy and apologetics clubs, etc., and mentioned a few resources on his website.  There are a few free books, chapters from books, and his dissertation, which are available in electronic form.  These resources include:

April 30th, 2012

What if God Doesn’t Have Middle Knowledge?

by Max Andrews

If God doesn’t have middle knowledge then he has only natural and free knowledge.  There are two options.  The first option is that God possess mere or simple foreknowledge.  If one turns to simple foreknowledge, there lies no good sense in God’s providential planning of a world of free creatures in the absence of middle knowledge. William Lane Craig insists that,

…On such a view of God [He has], logically prior to the divine decree, only natural knowledge of all possible scenarios but no knowledge of what would happen under any circumstances.  Thus, logically posterior to the divine decree, God must consider Himself extraordinarily lucky to find that this world happened to exist.  “What a break!” we can imagine God’s saying to Himself, “Herod and Pilate and all those people each reacted just perfectly!”  Actually, the situation is much worse than that, for God had no idea whether Herod or Pilate or the Israelite nation or the Roman Empire would even exist posterior to the divine decree.  Indeed, God must be astonished to find Himself existing in a world, out of all the possible worlds He could have created, in which mankind falls into sin and God Himself enters human history as a substitutionary sacrificial offering! [Anthropomorphically speaking][1]

April 29th, 2012

Jesus the Child

by Max Andrews

The Birth of Christ

Announcement made to the shepherds (Luke 2.8-20)

  • Shepherds considered unclean
  • Shepherds not educated
  • God revealed His glory
  • Not to priests but shepherds
  • Not in the temple but in a field
  • God gave a sign
  • A baby in a manger
  • Wrapped in cloth
  • In a manger not a palace
  • Wrapped in cloth not luxurious

April 28th, 2012

The Problem of Multireligious Miracles

by Max Andrews

The claim is that all religions have their miracles, so what makes Christianity’s miracles true and other religions’ false?

  • Not all religious teach miracles and the Jewish-Christian religions are the only traditions that claim to prove its teachings through miracles.
  • In all cases of miracles, no miracles have the historical evidence like the gospel miracles.
  • Christianity’s miracles are religiously significant.  Jesus’ miracles occurred at the climax of his unparalleled life.
  • Religio-historical context distinguishes miracles from physical anomalies.  When a scientific anomaly occurs it is usually assumed that some unknown natural factors are interfering, so that the law is neither violated nor revised.
April 28th, 2012

Middle Knowledge in the Bible

by Max Andrews

Any affirmation of counterfactuals does nothing if it is incompatible with biblical teaching.  The Bible acknowledges that God uses counterfactuals to achieve His will and that He knows the truth-value to hypothetical propositions.  An example of this would be in 1 Samuel 23.6-10.  This passage accounts for David’s inquiry to the Lord by means of a divining device called an ephod (which gave a “yes” or “no” answer).  David thus flees the city of Keilah so the predictions do not come true.  What the device had predicted to David was not simple foreknowledge (“Saul/the men of Keilah will do X”), by hypothetical knowledge (“If David stays, then Saul/the men of Keilah will do X”).  The answer given by the ephod were correct answers, even though the events did not come to pass, since the answers were indicative of what would happen under certain circumstances.[1]

Another example may be found in Jeremiah’s prophecy to King Zedekiah:

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘If you will indeed go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive.  ‘But if you will not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape from their hand’” (Jer. 38.17-18).

April 28th, 2012

Objections to Empiricism and Inferentially Justified Beliefs

by Max Andrews

There seem to be good objections raised against empiricism and inferentially justified beliefs:

(A) That we seldom if ever consciously infer propositions about objects from propositions about experiences.

(B) That most people, if challenged as to their justification for believing propositions about the external world, would seldom if ever offer as their reasons or evidence propositions about experiences.

(C) That it is quite meaningless, that it makes no sense to search for evidence justifying a belief in the existence of a physical object that is before one under optimum conditions of perception.

Certainly, (A) may be true but is agreeably not critical to the empiricist’s defense.  Both (B) and (C) may be true or false to a certain degree but is hardly relevant to the validity of an empiricist’s foundationalism.  The concern is the logical order of justification rather than psychological or historical order. 

April 27th, 2012

The Reality of Counterfactual Knowledge

by Max Andrews

For a good context for this post please see ‘The Theological Advantages of Molinism’ for a list of relevant discussions on middle knowledge and Molinism.

The second moment to God’s knowledge is His knowledge of the contingent states of affairs that would be produced by an antecedent state of affairs were it to be obtained.  Counterfactuals are conditional statements in the subjunctive mood. That is to say, God knows what any free creature would do.  This is not because the circumstances causally determine the creature’s choice, but simply because this is how the creature would freely choose.  God thus knows that were He to actualize certain states of affairs, then certain other contingent states of affairs would obtain.[1]  Middle knowledge does not depend on any decision of divine will; God does not determine what counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are true or false.  Thus, if it is true that:

If some agent S were placed in circumstances C, then he would freely perform action a,

then even God in His omnipotence cannot bring it about that S would refrain from a if he were placed in C.[2] WL Craig expands on the subject:

April 27th, 2012

A List of Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels

by Max Andrews

I’ve provided a list of alleged contradictions in the New Testament from a file I’ve found floating around the internet. This is so you know what someone is talking about when this comes up in discussion. Some of them had explanations that were blatantly obvious and weren’t problematic at all but I’ve saved some interesting one’s for your consideration. Even so, some of these are a bit easy to harmonize. However, don’t be so quick to lay down a Christian trump card.  Carefully consider what’s going on and work through it.  I do affirm biblical inerrancy and I would recommend several books to address the issues of such alleged contradictions:

Mike Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach

Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Dan Wallace’s Reinventing Jesus

Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

April 27th, 2012

A Disgrace Worthwhile

by Max Andrews

For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—he had the honesty and courage to take his own miedicine.  Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair.  He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself.  He has himself gone thorugh the whole of human experience, from the trivial irrtations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death.  When he was a man, he played the man.  He was born in poverty and died in dsiagrce and thought it well worthwhile.

From Dorothy Sayers, Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World (Eerdmans, 1969), 14.

April 27th, 2012

Empiricism and Being in the Right Phenomenological Frame of Mind

by Max Andrews

What if it were the case that justification of our beliefs in propositions describing physical objects is always inferential and that it is always from propositions about the nature of our experiences that such inferences are made.? If this is true, there are two conditions that must be satisfied concerning inferential belief in physical objects:

(1) Statements about experience must count as reasons or evidence for statements about objects.
(2) Statements about experience must in some, no doubt rather obscure, sense be accepted by those who make statements about objects.

Maybe there’s reason to doubt  (1) and (2) by simply suggesting that that it is not always the case that most people are always in the “appropriate, sophisticated, phenomenological frame of mind.”  This is certainly true to an extent; so let us refer to this handicap as H.  It may be the case person S is intoxicated with alcohol and his phenomenological apprehension may be malfunctioning or that S realizes that his phenomenological apprehension of the external world is not as it should be and is capable of recognizing malfunction.