Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Letter to Skeptics

Where We Are At Now
   It is likely that your views of religion (or at least of the claims made by religion) are not very high. This is understandable given the times that we live in. We live in the information age. That much information means we are exposed to more ideas and more statements about life, reality, truth, and the world around us in a year than past generations would hear in a lifetime. It is a confusing world we live in where you can be exposed to a dozen religions that all claim to be the only way to salvation, and at the same time hear that most religions are essentially the same and all lead to salvation.
   Then there is science. Do we really need religion anymore? Hasn’t science explained all the unexplained things from the past? Hasn’t science disproved God? Hasn’t science explained where all things came from without this archaic dependence on religion and God? Hasn’t science brought us so many advancements in technology that it has proven itself worthy of our trust? If something is still unexplained won’t science explain it if we wait long enough?
   It’s no wonder that people are confused about the big questions in life. Most have given up caring about the big questions and even if they did care, there is no way they could navigate and process all the information out there to find real answers. Many have given up on finding absolute truth and instead settle for personal truths that are meaningful to them. We now live in a world where statements like these are common: “There is no truth.”, “All truth is relative.”, “There is no way to know the truth.”, “All truth comes from science.”, “That is true for you, but not for me.”, and many more.
   So what do we do know? Where do we go from here? Is life meaningless unless we create our own meaning?


Moving Forward
   If we want to progress beyond this place of confusion and apathy, we must consider that just because there is a lot of noise and contradicting claims, does not mean that real answers do not exist! We need to consider the implications of real answers and let that possibility motivate us to push through the noise and the chaos. If you could be reasonably sure about the answers to life’s big questions would you want to know?
   I hope your answer is yes, but for many the answer is no. They are more interested in their own happiness, than they are in truth. Truth is only useful to them if it increases their happiness and supports the life they want to live. You will never find life changing truth if you rule out any conclusions that you may dislike before you begin searching. This will only result in a half-hearted truth quest that fails before it starts. We have to remember that if the only truths we accept are the ones we like, then we are not really seeking truth. The only question left to ask is: Can you handle the truth?

The Limits of Science
   Science is a wonderful thing that has brought forth many great inventions. However, we must be careful not to take the successes from a few areas of science and apply it so broadly that we think all science is the arbitrator of Truth.  Many people have taken the position (some knowingly and some unknowingly) that all truth worth caring about comes from science or from science like observations. Another way to say it is "All truth comes from science." This is a self defeating statement that cannot be proven scientifically.

Also, have you considered that science, like many areas of life, contains mistakes, fraud, and deception?
Further reading on the reliability of and fraud in science:
here, here, here, here, and here.




A Claim to Consider
  In John 14:5-7 Jesus claims to be the way, the truth, and the life. A preposterous claim. Especially if you never really studied the claims of Jesus and the logical evidence that supports his claims.  I suggest before outright rejection we should ask ourselves:

"Have I really looked at the claims of Jesus and the evidence for those claims or have I simply discarded them from consideration because they challenge too many of my already established beliefs?"

John 14:5-7
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”


The Alternative?
     What is the alternatives to Christianity? The alternatives to following Jesus fall into three main categories: other religions, apathy, self-worship.

- Other religions: Many people mistakenly believe that Christianity is about being good in order to get into heaven. This is false. However, with most other religions, this is true. Being good (they might use different words for good) is what earns them salvation.  This can satisfy the mind only until the person asks themselves: How Good is Good Enough?

Also, anyone who worships science as the ultimate arbitrator of truth, is likely in this group and the third group below.*

- Apathy: most of the members of this group don't know they are a member. They simply don't care about the meaning of life or whether or not there is a God. They just want to be left alone live their life and to find fulfillment where ever they want to look. Ignoring truth doesn't make it not true, and it doesn't make it go away. God's existence is not tied to what you believe.

-Self-worship: This is a very common worldview in our post-modern world, but most adherents to this way of life don't realize they are members.  If you are the decider of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong, of good and bad, then you are a member of this group. Many people in this group live by the mantra "If it feels good do it!" or maybe a similar one of  "It's not wrong if it doesn't hurt anybody, but me." Many in this group will use other labels for themselves (atheist, agnostic, etc...), but ultimately they are depending of themselves to determine what is true about reality.


*Any set of beliefs or views about reality that attempt to answer questions about: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny can collectively be called "religion".


Hypocrites!
   Do you hate Christianity and churches because their full of hypocrites?  People who mention this a lot fail to consider that you cannot be a hypocrite if you don't attempt to live according to a standard. There will always be less hypocrites in groups of people who have very low standards or who have no standards. Christians who attempt to follow Jesus are trying to live up to a very high standard and they will likely fail at times to live up to this standard; even while speaking to others about this standard. There may be a lot of hypocrites at Church, but if we look at ourselves deep enough we will find that we are all hypocrites at times.


The Arrogance (Exclusiveness) of Christianity
   Many times people will accuse Christians of being arrogant, because of their claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. The thing about truth is that truth is always exclusive. Listen to short audio clip from Ravi Zacharias talking about this topic.



Here are some relevant videos:

Does God Exist: Exclusivity - https://youtu.be/jtRbSv4lkkg


What Brings Us to Believe That Christianity Is the Exclusive Way to Truth?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N77D4dUgP4&t=321s
Exclusive claims from other religions:
http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2017/08/02/exclusivity-claims-major-world-religions/

Frank Turek on other religions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGxdBA3AAho

Further Reading:

Don't feel like reading? Watch some videos instead:
YouTube: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
YouTube: Cross Examined








Sunday, February 2, 2020

Some Good Bible verses to memorize and/or study

Proverbs 1:7 New International Version (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Romans 10:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Colossians 2:8 New International Version (NIV)

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
John 8:56-59 ESV
Jesus speaking to the pharisees….

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”[d] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


Mark 12 New International Version (NIV)

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

John 18:37 English Standard Version (ESV)

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”