Thursday, May 16, 2013

What We Can Learn About God Without Religious Texts Like The Bible

This was the second session in the series. Download the talk here (right-click to save). After the main presentation there may be quiet patches when questions or extended comments are asked. I tried to restate what they said. Below is the outline.


Last session - Truth, Meaning, and the Existence of God
This session - What can we know about God without the Bible? (Evidence/arguments for His existence and what His nature is)
Method to the madness - this session, and future sessions, build upon the first session

First, Some Definitions and Concepts
  • Revelation
  • General Revelation
  • Special Revelation... scriptures are usually called “holy”
  • Holy means...
  • The difference between “perfect” evidence (there is none) and the “weight” of evidence/argument
Second, Arguments for the existence of God using General Revelation
  • Cosmological Argument - the first cause, the uncaused cause, the ultimate cause (The Banger of the big bang)
    • God is creative - evidence: diversity of life and non-life
    • God is powerful - something from nothing (true nothing, not just empty space)
    • God is a god of order - patterns are evident in nature
    • God is good - the default positive position in humanity is basically the same across all cultures
    • God is personal - He created personal beings with the ability to have relationships and to know Him
    • Simplicity also suggests one god rather than many
  • Teleological Argument - argument from design that we see in the universe
    • we’re good at spotting human design, e.g. buildings are clearly buildings
    • the same spotting technique can be used to spot supernatural design, DNA etc seems designed - more complex and purposeful than anything we’ve made - hard to think of as an accident of chance
    • odds - rubiks cube: 1 combo per second and longer than the universe to do all combos, yet “nature” has far more complexity
    • fine-tuning argument (odds are far against accident)
    • The second law of thermodynamics
    • Objection: If God made/designed everything, why did he make it “broken” (disease, disasters, etc)?
      • He didn’t make it broken, humanity broke it in the fall
      • God made it good (not complete until woman)
      • By disobeying God, man introduced sin and corruption (sin is disobedience toward God)
      • Since we’re a part of this broken creation, we are also broken, which is the source of our ongoing sin.
      • The gospel and the central message of Christianity is God fixing what Adam and Eve broke (and what we continue to break every time we do wrong), and he fixes those who follow his Son in the process. Born again = being remade unbroken (but this work isn’t finished until Jesus returns)
      • Did the fall “surprise” God? 
      • No - part of his plan to show his power, but that’s another story
  • Argument from the existence of morality
    • morality appears to be innate (sense of right and wrong, or at least justice/injustice (C.S. Lewis), from birth) [not specific rights and wrongs but the existence of the notion of right and wrong]
    • there appear to be moral absolutes (and where do these come from?)

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