Apologetics- The Evidentialist Approach
Tuesday, September 16, 2008– Here is the next installment of my Essential Truths series on Apologetics I taught my church back in ’02. These are just notes and if you are looking for more info about Apologetcs I would urge you to check my blog roll under RC Sproul, Monergism, CARM, Alpha Omega, Frank Turek, and some others.
Essential Truths: Apologetics-
The Evidentialist Approach
Wed. 10-30-02/11-96-02 PM
Wed. 10-23-02 Apologetics: Evidentialism- scientific evidence, Jesus evidence in history. Inductive empirical methods.Teleological argument.
1Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
I. The Teleological Argument from Classical to Evidentialist.Psalm19;Rom1:19.
II. The Use of Evidence in the Bible- Prophecies and Miracles
Introduction: We have begun a study of Essential Truths which is formally called Systematic Theology. First we looked at the doctrine of the Word, studying what we believe about the Bible. Then we looked at Our Need to Know God. Now we are looking at Apologetics which is a study of the defense of our faith, attempting to provide answers to the difficult questions about our faith. The specific question we have dealt with mainly is how can we believe that the God of the Bible is real? Can we prove there is a God or can we at least find some substantial evidence for God’s existence?
Our first method to examine was called the Classical method that deals with rational/philosophical proofs that we called the Cosmological, Ontological and Moral arguments. Tonight we shall examine the teleological argument for God which is a bridge between the Classical and Evidentialist methods of Apologetics and then we will look at the evidence for the existence of God. The Classical proofs are good, though perhaps difficult to grasp, but the Evidentialist view builds upon those rationalistic proofs with lots of cold, hard facts that are demonstrable. I really think you will like some of this stuff more than the other stuff we have looked at.
I. The Teleological Argument from Classical to Evidentialist.Psalm19; Rom1:19.
The Teleological Argument was made famous by William Paley in the late 1700’s with his watchmaker analogy. If you are walking on a deserted beach and discover a watch you realize that it did not occur by accident, it had a designer. Geisler states it this way: 1) All designs imply a designer; 2) There is great design in the universe; 3) Therefore, there must have been a Great Designer of the universe. “A thousand monkeys sitting at typewriters for millions of years would never produce Hamlet. But Shakespeare did it on the first try. The more complex the design, the greater the intelligence required to produce it” (p.31).
We can look at a crystal, like a quartz crystal or a snowflake, and see beauty and specificity, but they are not complex and convey very little information. We understand how and why crystals form in nature. But crystals are not living, when we look at things that are living, the amount of information they contain is enormous, they are both specified and complex. A single cell organism contains more information than the Webster’s dictionary. To say that the single celled organism arose by a series of accidents is to say that Webster’s dictionary came together after a series of explosions in a print shop.
Psalm 19 and Rom.1: 19 point us toward the teleological argument.
II. The Use of Evidence in the Bible- Prophecies and Miracles
The Bible itself uses much evidence to confirm its message to the people of that day. Let’s examine how the Bible uses evidentialism.
In Exodus 3 last week I showed how God reveals His Holy Name YHWH to Moses and how that name relates to the Ontological and Cosmological arguments. Moses has other objections to God’s plan and so God provides some other proofs for Moses to take with him. What are they? Look at Ex4:1-9. But notice that Moses still objects- hence, even with evidence people are hesitant to believe. In Ex6 the people were discouraged and did not listen to Moses’ doctrine as he revealed God’s name to them. In Ex7 Aaron throws down the staff and it becomes a snake but the miracle is copied by Pharaoh’s magicians. Miracles can be copied or faked! It then took 10 plagues, culminating in the death of the first born to convince everyone of God’s existence and authority. In the Bible Miracles are used to prove the message is authentic and authoritative.
Look at the Lord’s own challenge to other gods in Isaiah 41:21-23; 44:7, 8. “The God of the Bible is calling for a rigorous test which involves the objective prediction of future events in human history….Logically, we can reverse this challenge to other god’s and ask if the God of the Bible can predict the future himself. If he can, and if no other religion can substantiate a similar claim, then we have an objective, historically testable verification that the God of the Bible alone exists” (Boa, p.206).
The Bible predicts the descendents of Abraham will be enslaved, delivered, rebel and fall into idolatry, be chastised yet later returned to their land. The Bible predicts the rise and fall of the Persians, Greeks and Romans with the Messiah coming toward the end of the second temple (515bc-AD 70). There are prophecies about the birth of Christ, what kind of Messiah he will be, his death and resurrection. See Ps. 22.Read Blanchard p.408ff.
Now let’s look at Jesus’ use of miracles. John6:2, 14f, 26; 20:24ff Mk2:1-12.
Jesus prophesied his own death: Mk.8:31; 9:31; 10:33; 14:8, 28.
What is a miracle? Beckwith writes, “A miracle is a divine intervention which occurs contrary to the regular course of nature within a significant historical-religious context.” (Quoted by Boa p.214) Boa then writes, “That is, a miracle is (a) scientifically inexplicable, (b) religiously significant, and (c) supernaturally caused.” Beckwith writes again, “Miracles are not just purposeless and bizarre scientific oddities, but occur in such a way that purpose is attached to them by virtue of when and why they occur.”
Geisler (p.43) “Evangelical theology is built on the supernatural. Christ’s virgin birth, His miracle filled ministry, his physical resurrection from the dead, and his bodily ascension into heaven are only some of the numerous miracles essential to biblical Christianity. So much is the supernatural a precondition of orthodox theology that without it historical Christianity would collapse.1Cor.15:12-20.”
The Bible provides us with 3 purposes for miracles: (1)to glorify the nature of God John2:11. (2)To accredit certain persons as the spokespersons for God Acts 2:22. (3) To provide evidence for belief in God John6:2.
Miracles: Mark2:1-12; 2:23-3:6. Luke5:1-11. John6:2-26. 20:24ff.
Prophecies: Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33; 14:8, 28.
III. The Three Types of Evidence- Legal, Historical and Scientific
Monday, 11-24-2008– Here is an article by Dinesh D’Souza that relates: