Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Heathen - The Problem of Evil - Proof for the Soul

I was directed to the organization Stand To Reason by a Marine friend of mine who is currently attending Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington DC several months ago when I was asking him about good Christian apologetics resources he knew of that I didn't. I'm really glad I found STR as I've thoroughly enjoyed many of the resources they have to offer since then.

As always, for Christmas my family and I trekked the 600 miles from where we live in Colorado to where my wife and I's parents live in Kansas. Ever since I've been aware of Stand To Reason and listened to a few of the audio resources they have, I've enjoyed them so much I've made it a point to make sure and have something on hand that I haven't yet listened to if I can for long road trips. This Christmas, I ordered several things before our trip and had a chance to listen to three of them on the drive. As is common with STR, the resources, IMO, were very good, something very capable of occupying my mind during the drive. Here's what I listened to and liked.

The Heathen and the Unknown God

This was one CD (yes, I bought CD's - I don't have an ipod or any other player yet - my wife has a nano - I have a CD player in the van -- STR does sell an MP3 version though). Not only does Koukl do the best job I've ever heard of answering the question that should make any Christian's heart ache about the heathen who never has a chance to hear the gospel, he builds on top of that answer to give one of the most clear and concise explanations of the gospel as well. Specifically, he does a fantastic job of communicating humanity's problem and solution in a crystal clear way that just... works. I think most believers would benefit greatly from this resource as well as nonbelievers. I personally found myself with a renewed appreciation for the work Christ accomplished on the cross.

Answering the Problem of Evil

This is a three CD set. The first is a lecture by Greg Koukl. The last two are lectures by William Lane Craig. The age old argument addressed here is this.
  • The God described by Christianity is said to be all-powerful and all-good.
  • Evil exists in the world.
  • An all-powerful God would be able to eliminate evil and an all-good God would want to.
  • Since evil exists, God is either not all-powerful (He wants to eliminate evil but can't, He is impotent) or not all-good (He can eliminate evil, but he doesn't want to).
  • Therefore, the God described by Christianity cannot possibly exist.
As always, Koukl is adept at answering the question. Not only does he answer the question, he turns the argument on its head and argues for the existence of God using the very existence of evil as the foundation to his argument. This line of argumentation is not uncommon, but Koukl distinguishes himself, as he commonly does, with his ability to communicate the message in such a clear, concise, laid-back, respectful way.

As for the last two CD's, these are good as well. William Lane Craig is a person that more hardcore logic and philosophy geeks would enjoy as opposed to the layman. His lectures here are true to his form. He's careful to distinguish between the emotional version of the argument from evil and the cold, hard logical one. Specifically he's careful to point out when one should offer the cold, hard logical version and when one shouldn't.

The Invisible Man: Is there Proof for the Soul?

This was a two CD set, both being lectures by Koukl. This one was probably the most intriguing to me before I listened to it simply because of what it purported to do in the title. I read the title and thought to myself... "How in the world is he going to prove the soul exists? What kind of evidence is he possibly going to be able to round up to show this?"

I should be getting used to it by now, but he did a great job of providing 5 specific pieces of evidence to show that the immaterial soul exists. I particularly liked this one, mostly because these were mostly new ideas/evidences to me, and got me thinking about things I hadn't thought much about before.

Of the 5 lines of evidence Koukl offers, one takes advantage of Leibniz's Law of the indiscernability of identicals and another uses the scientific study of a certain phenomenon that would seem to indicate that the immaterial soul exists independently of the material brain.

I would highly recommend any of the above three resources to both believers and unbelievers. I'm convinced that most believers would learn something new from each one of them and definitely gain some skills in the area of effectively communicating with unbelievers. For unbelievers, Koukl goes out of his way to say that he's not out to 'convert' anyone. His goal, instead, is to simply 'put an intellectual stone in your shoe' if you hold a position differently than the one he does on any of these topics. Admittedly, it's tough for me to say - I can't exactly relate - but I think if I was an unbeliever I wouldn't mind listening to this guy talk as he doesn't try to browbeat anyone into making a confession nor does he assault them with a barrage of scripture passages or any other kind of aggressive techniques. He simply offers up well reasoned, kindly communicated and compelling arguments in support of core pieces of his religious faith.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The retarded offspring of five monkeys and a fish-squirrel

I used to watch South Park in college a lot. I got a big kick out of it. And then I stopped watching it. I think I thought it was too childish or sophomoric or something. I ran across this today while reading comments over at Vox Popoli. I've not laughed quite so hard or had so many tears streaming down my face from laughter in quite a long time.

You're the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish-squirrel, congratulations!

Here are some of the other classic quotes...

"...a couple of fish had a retard baby..."

"...a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with its mutant fish hands..."

"...retard frog-squirrel..."