The Best Argument for God’s Existence.

As an apologist, the primary question we are answering is simple: does God exist.

Some will argue that God does not exist because existence implies creations (this is more obvious in the latin). However, most people aren’t versed in dead languages enough to be aware of the subtle nuances. So the question, “does God exist,” is still an applicable one for the general population and laity.

There are many arguments for why it is reasonable to believe that God exists, however. Though some take more defending than others. But don’t let that fool you – of the six main classical arguments (classical because they have been in use longer than others) – contingency, kalam, design, morality, actuality of evil, and ontology – the one that best explores whether or not God exist’s, I have found to be, is the Moral Argument.

The argument is simple:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Pretty straight forward.

The main opposition to this argument is two fold: 1) Objective moral values do not exist, implying, morality is often (if not always) subjective and 2) well, if objective moral values do exist it’s not because of God.

The first fold is easy: yes, objective moral values do exist and we all know it. The second fold naturally follows.

Opposition: Different societies have different morals. Who are we to say they are wrong?

Reply: Are you saying the Nazis weren’t wrong?

Opposition: No, they were.

Reply: But that worked for the Nazis society. You just said you can’t say they’re wrong.

Opposition: Well obviously we all agree mass genocide is wrong.

Reply: Then objective moral values exist.

Opposition: Well, we still don’t need God. Society can decide what best for itself.

Reply: Like the Nazis?

Opposition: Well, no. Not like the Nazis.

Reply: But they were the leaders of their society.

Opposition: But not everyone agreed with them. Just because the majority of society says something is right doesn’t mean it is.

Replied: Agreed. Especially if part of that society was being killed by the majority of that society because of whatever reason.

Opposition: Right.

Reply: So objective moral values do exist.

Opposition: Well, no. That’s just your opinion.

Reply: No it isn’t. According to the rules of logic, a truth value statement, like objective moral values exist, is either true for false. There is no room for opinion.

Opposition: Well, then I believe they don’t exist.

Reply: How come?

Opposition: Because morality is just a bi-product or our evolution.

Reply: But that would imply that morality, the distinguishing between good and evil, actually has nothing to do with good and evil and has everything to do with survival. If that’s the case, then morality isn’t about truth, justice, fairness, discipline, correction, or punishment, but about survival. If that’s the case, how can you trust your sense of morality?

Opposition: Huh. Good point. I’ll have to think about that. But why do you think that this means God exists?

Reply: I believe that we are made in God’s image.

Opposition: What does that even mean?

Reply: Primarily, that we are reasoning creatures. And since God wills that which is good because he is good, we all have a sense of morality. Would you agree that the world is a messed up place?

Opposition: Yes.

Reply: Me too. And I think we would both agree that this is because humanity keeps screwing things up, right?

Opposition: Yes.

Reply: But then, why if we know what we ought to do, where does this idea of “ought to do” come from? We believe from outside humanity and from God.

Opposition: But then why would a good God allow evil to exist?

Reply: That’s a good question for another time, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now. The very fact that all of humanity acknowledges that there is “right” and “wrong” even if they disagree with what is right and what is wrong helps us understand that morality is an abstract concept that has to exist outside humanity for us to grasp it.

Opposition: Do what now?

Reply: Do you see good and evil in reality?

Opposition: Oh yeah, all the time.

Reply: Such as?

Opposition: Such as rape is evil and sharing is good.

Reply: No, those are actions that we have assigned a moral value to.

Opposition:  Gotcha. I see.

Reply: So how do you know there is such thing as good and evil?

Opposition: I never thought of that before.

Reply: Because God is good, and we are made is his image, we have an acute awareness of God’s existence, and therefore, the distinction between good and evil.

Opposition: But that doesn’t prove that God exists.

Reply: I haven’t heard a better explanation for the existence of objective moral values from you.

Opposition: Well, I have to be going. you’ve given me some stuff to think about.

Reply: I hope to talk to you soon.

 

Of all the arguments, the Moral arguments carries an amazing weight of practicality and immediacy to the conversation.

What are your favorite arguments for God’s existence? Please leave a comment below and let’s see what we get!

 

The Importance of the Ascension

As my relationship with God depends, a facet that I thrive in is theology and apologetics. For some reason, I have a very good mind when it comes to systems, structure, logical flow, and understanding implications. Or so I have been told.

I am speaking at my alma mater this week and the topic is THE ASCENSION.

I don’t remember the last time I heard a sermon on THE ASCENSION. I don’t think I have ever heard one on tTHE ASCENSION. As part of a sermon, yes; but a whole message dedicated to the meaning, purpose, and value of THE ASCENSION, nope.

Needless to say, I has been convicted and blessed during this time of study and prayer. From this time, there have been a few key thoughts that have engrossed me and my sermon planning and writing.

  1. “The Ascension is where Christ takes Captivity captive.” Coming from Martin Luther, in his death and resurrection, Christ defeated sin, hell, death, and the Satan; however, in hi ascension, Christ returned to the throne and holds all his enemies captive – not dead, for their purpose and desired end is not yet completed.
  2. “The Word now has Flesh in heaven.” Cyril of Alexandria explains that Christ is now the perfect Mediator of the New Covenant. Humanity as the image bearer of God is now restored in Christ as he intercedes for his people and desires his enemies to repentance.
  3. “All that Christ accomplished in his earthly body is now present in the believer through the presence of the Holy Spirit, creating a new earthly body of believers.” We are not alone in our faith and the accomplishments of Christ now dwell within and empower believers to be his witnesses wherever and whenever they are.

This, to me, has greatly deepened my affection for my Savior and has bettered my understanding of his great love for us.

A Confession from an (Honest) Apologist

“I could be wrong.”

I remember the first time I said this during a conversation with an agnostic in the Apple store. He was taken back by this. I can imagine what he was thinking, “Did a Christian just say they could be wrong?”

Yes, yes I could.

He asked me how.

I replied, “Because we have been having a conversation about the reasonableness of something. If reason is just a byproduct of evolution then logic isn’t actually the driving force behind reason – but survival is. And survival has no conscience when it comes to right thinking. So, if you are right about there not being a God (or at least not in a confirmable sense) then I could very well be wrong.”

“So you admit: you could be wrong.”

“Of course! Could you?”

And this is where we had to pause – he finally answered that he could not be wrong, but that he was glad that I was willing to admit I could be. The agnostic could not admit that he could be wrong about not knowing whether or not God existed.

But as a Christian, I have no problem admitting that all the arguments for God’s existence could very well be wrong. After years of studying, the arguments are air tight, and most of the complaints are illogical, misunderstandings, or bad tempers because of some odd reason or another.

Thats because God isn’t an idea or a concept: he’s a personal being.

I have met him, encountered him, experienced his presence, seen his unseen hand at work in the lives of those who believe and disbelieve in him. Is it because I’m looking for something there? Possibly, but again, I don’t have to worry merely about logic.

The Christian has history on their side as well.

And science.

And morality.

And creation.

But even after all this, I could be wrong. But I don’t think I am.

Sure, I could be mistaken. Just as much as a scientist misinterprets his findings. I could be wrong in certain Christian practices. I could discover that the Catholics were right about a matter, or that the Orthodox Church was right about another matter, or that the Protestant were wrong about another matter. I could discover that atheists were right about a thing, and I wrong; or that Hindus were on to something and I was behind the times; or that maybe the agnostics had the right idea all along.

This is the joyful burden of the Christian: it is not about being right.

It about being righteous (in right standing before God by loving God and loving my neighbor).

Sure, I wrestle with doubt often – but not about whether or not there is a God. Rather my doubts are on the arguments. Maybe I am blind because of my faith (though, no more than the atheist in their’s). Maybe  logic is just a byproduct of human evolution. Maybe there are no good arguments for God’s existence.

Maybe. But I haven’t heard one yet. And until I’m convinced other wise, I’ll stick the best answers.

Important Films aren’t always Great Films

I hate when films come with a cultural warning.

Black Panther came with such a label: if you don’t like this film, you’re a racist and you don’t want Black Americans to be successful in the film industry, which in turn means you don’t want Black Americans to be successful anywhere. That’s actually what I have been told by several Black Filmmakers.

That makes disliking certain films rather provocative. If a Caucasian American enjoys Black Panther but not Do The Right Thing, they’re racist. But if they enjoy Get Out but not 12 Years a Slave, they’re still racist.

This can be confusing and frustrating, and here’s why: when a film comes with a presupposed cultural warning about what your thoughts reveal about your prejudices only, then it’s not going to end well for anyone. Rather than watching the film and discussing its filmmaking techniques and its cinematic language, rather than analyzing color schemes and lighting cues, rather than praising performances and the score, rather than being able to actually discuss how various themes, motifs, ideas, and problems are explored cinematically, it really boils down to whether or not you’re a closet racist because you didv/didn’t like an “ethnic” film because it was/wasn’t your kind of thing. If you like a film because of one aspect of the film while disregarding all the other aspects, that doesn’t make it a good film.

So then, what should we do when a film comes with a cultural warning label?

Watch it any way and have a well founded and well articulated opinion.

Black Panther is an important film and it does a three things very well: the villain (who should have his own film), the color scheme (which was gorgeous to look at), and the music (the best composer/artist collaboration in recent memory). I thought the film was good, not great.

But important. The film has come at the right time. I also don’t think this films could have been made at the start of the MCU. It has been a smash hit critically and commercially.

But that doesn’t make it a good film. It is an important film and it should be given the same critique and criticism as 12 Angry Men, The Devil’s Backbone, 8 1/2, In the Mood For Love, Wild Strawberries, Howl’s Moving Castle, and An American in Paris. If you believe a film is great because it had a predominantly Black cast, that’s racist. If you think a film is great because it was the first big Black superhero film, that’s racist. If you claim that because

So, what is the best Black film I’ve ever seen? 1) I have no idea what that means. 2) If it means what I think it people want it to mean, that’s racist. 3) Ask better questions that actually provides a context for a better conversation: how did Get Out subvert the horror genre expectations, what were your feelings at the end of Do The Right Thing, how did 12 Years a Slave immerse the viewer in Solomon’s psyche? These are good questions – these are the right questions.

Don’t diminish the medium by asking about favorites; add to the conversation by asking why cinema is bettered by these films and filmmakers, and how they did it through the cinematic language of frame and cut and sound and movement.

Important films aren’t always great films. But sometimes important films just need to be good.

 

 

But seriously, we need a Erik Killmonger film now.

We Do Not Experience God in Apologetics…But We Can Still Know About Him.

I was raised Pentecostal Holiness. Experience in paramount. Not emotionalism. This distinction is essential. Emotionalism is a sickness, a disease to the true Christian experience, worldview, and lifestyle. Experience, encountering the living God, that is not emotionalism. It is transcendent, yet intimate. Mysterious, yet knowable.

So, what does this have to do with Apologetics? Everything!

Apologetics is not a person experiencing God, though a person can experience God in the apologia. Apologetics is the discussion about God, regardless of experience.

For example, most non-believers know the type of god a god should be like, even if they don’t believe in a god. How is this possible? I would argue that by knowing the type of god they would not believe in presupposes a knowledge of the type of god a non-belieber would believe in. This does not mean that they will believe in the god who matched their presuppositions, just that it is curious that most non-believers agree with the types of gods they don’t believe in while simultaneously affirming that should a god exist, espousing what type of god this god should be like.

As a Christian, we believe that every human being is made in God’s image. Now, this has a much deeper meaning, but on a base level it means that we were made in such a way as to know God and be known by him. However, and obviously, there are many people who do not know God and he had planned and who believe themselves to be unknown by God as well.

But why does this matter?

It matters a great deal. The discussion about God, especially of his character and nature, can only be based on two things: 1) knowledge gained from hear-say or 2) knowledge gained from experience. In this instance, hear-say knowledge is any information that is gained through second hand accounts. Experience, on the other hand, is a first hand knowledge. Now, this doesn’t prove that the interpretation of the experience is correct, nor does it in anyway deter from the claim. It is important to acknowledge that the Christian believe is that even non-believers posses innate knowledge about God not because they believe in him but because they are still made in his image.

So what is the Claim? People do not experience God in apologetics.

Now, what does this mean? Is God unable to use apologetics to soften the hearts and minds of those who disbelieve in him? Of course not! A good argument that makes you rethink your position is a good encounter. In Christian apologetics, especially in the most basic of arguments for God’s existence, the Christian worldview is being defended intellectually, not experientially. This is the distinction: the beginning of apologetics from a non-believer’s perspective is that of an assault of ideas of God, not an introduction to the personhood of God. Yes, it is true that we cannot separate God’s character and nature from his actual being, but that is not difficult for a non-believer: they do not believe in God as an actual person.

Therefore, the idea of God must first be considered an option if the non-believer is to ever consider the person of God.

For me, this is why Apologetics, at least from the non-believer’s view, is not the experience of God, but merely the presentation of the rationality and consistency of such a belief. The Christian is therefore tasked with showing the reasonableness of the idea a god existing if they wish for the non-believer to ever consider altering their position intellectually.

In the end, I do wish that after the apologia has ended, or even before it starts, that the non-believer would experience God personally, that they would encounter him and know him through their own first hand account. And that when confronted with the reality of the existence of God, not as an idea, but as the person, the being, the reality of God, they would embrace him as a friend and not merely an intellectual exercise.

But for now, I’ll settle with non-believer’s being open to the idea of God, and let him handle the rest.

Reflections on Mystery in “Field of Dreams”

I was raised on a steady diet of Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner films. My first rated R film was a present from my mother – “The Last Samurai” (which I think is Tom Cruise at his best, next to Magnolia). This cinematic education came steadily thanks to my mother, who, if not for my dad’s existence, would probably have happily moved to Hollywood to marry one of these seminal actors. Not great actors, but nevertheless, seminal.

Thanks to my father, I learned the difference between a good and bad movie musical.

But, of all the films, the one that has stayed with me the most is Field of Dreams.

This is a film. A good film. A timeless film.

However, it wasn’t the music that stayed with me, though its one of my favorite scores. No. Nor was it the cinematography, though corn never looked so mythical since then (that is until Interstellar). No. Nor was it the immediate sense of “I know this story, but I’ve never seen it,” though the film’s imagery and themes are strikingly and unashamedly Americana. No. Nor was it the subtle camera movements, though I have been amazed at how intimate a dolly shot can actually be. No. This is a towering spiritual mono-myth that Campbell would enjoy.

What stayed with me was the “mystery.”

After the opening background montage grounds the films as a historical fiction, we are immediately turned on our heads. Throughout the film, we are left wondering, “Where is this going? How does this end? What does it all mean?”

And the films does this in a brilliantly simple technic – We see everything through Kevin Costner’s eye. He’s in every scene. What he learns, we learn. What he doesn’t know, we don’t know. How he sees everything, that’s how we see it.

This is what had made such an impression on me, even after all these years. Because I forget how good this film is. Because it feels so natural watching it.

I get lost in the corn maze of Field of Dreams and each time I watch it, I am amazed at how fresh the mystery feels.

It really is magical. It really is mythical. It really is mysterious.

I Finished My Screenplay

It is an odd sensation.

Over sixths month of planning.

Hundreds of hours of plotting, designing.

Countless ideas – most of which were rejected.

And here I am – I finished my first screenplay.

97 pages long. The first draft.

Now, I wait a few days, then com back to it and start editing.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to have an assumed accountability. Whether or not anyone actually reads this blog isn’t why I did this. I did it to have a whip behind my heels, spurring me onward to complete what I said I would do.

And I did it.

It’s an odd sensation.