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The Ad Hominem Fallacy (3 Flavors) and Ridicule in the Bible

The Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy

The ad hominem fallacy is common and commonly misunderstood.

Logical fallacies fall into two camps: formal and informal. Formal fallacies are so severe that they render an argument useless. Informal fallacies merely weaken an argument. [Suggested Reading: The Straw Man Fallacy and the Nature of God] The ad hominem fallacy is an informal logical fallacy. If you’d like to commit the ad hominem fallacy, simply follow these steps:

  1. Ignore the argument.
  2. Attack the arguer instead.
  3. Make the arguer look bad.
  4. Claim victory over the argument.
  5. Do a victory dance.

That last step is optional. The essential element is that you attack the argument rather than the arguer but then claim victory of the argument anyway. You hope the audience will mentally transfer their dislike of the arguer to the argument.

If you attack your opponent before they present an argument in hopes of discrediting them right away, you’ve committed the fallacy of “poisoning the well” (a topic for a future blog post perhaps).

The ad hominem fallacy misses the point. The arguer may be an angle or a demon (metaphorically). Yet the truth value of their premises and connection of premises to conclusion are still the point.

The Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy

The ad hominem fallacy comes in three basic flavors:

Ad Hominem: Abusive

The abusive form of the ad hominem fallacy is probably the most common.

Arguer: Dr. Milton Friedman was in favor of legalizing powerful drugs. But Dr. Friedman was a noted libertarian bordering on anarchist and had a deep dislike for government. Therefore, his opinions about legalizing drugs should be ignored.

Do you see what happened? The arguer failed to address any arguments. Instead, they said something they perceived as negative about Dr. Friedman; he was a libertarian and had a deep dislike for government. Why doesn’t this work? Let’s consider a humorous example. What if  Dr. Friedman argued that the earth revolves around the sun (which indeed it does)? Should we ignore that as well because of the nasty things said of him? The truth value of whether or not the earth revolves around the sun is independent of Dr. Friedman’s political views.

Ad Hominem: Circumstantial

The circumstantial form of the ad hominem fallacy is also very common. The difference between this form and the abusive form is that the this form seeks to cast doubt on the argument because of some circumstance related to the arguer.

Arguer: Sam the grocer says that we shouldn’t allow the big box retail store to move into town because they don’t pay their workers well. But Sam owns a small business that would be directly impacted by the big box store. Sam’s argument is obviously bogus.

This one sounds a little better than the abusive version because it isn’t so blatantly misdirected. In addition, if the circumstances the arguer points out are true, the ad hominem circumstantial may be persuasive. However, even if the arguer is right about Sam’s circumstances, Sam may be right; the big box retail store may not pay their employees well (whatever “well” means). Because the ad hominem circumstantial doesn’t deal with the truth of the actual argument, it’s fallacious.

Ad Hominem: Tu Quoque

The tu quoque version of the ad hominem fallacy occurs when someone accuses the arguer of doing the very thing they’re arguing against. Here’s an example centered around the issue of healthy eating.

Arguer: Tim says that because the Bible says our bodies are the temple of God, we should eat the right kinds of foods and get plenty of exercise. But Tim eats junk food all the time! Clearly, Tim doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and it doesn’t make much difference whether I eat healthy or not.

The tu quoque version of the ad hominem can often be observed between parents and children. The child rejects the advice from the parent about not smoking because, after all, the parent smokes like a train. Monkey see, monkey do.

Ambien is the only drug that helped me. The effect occurs within a week and continues to act for 2-3 months. I’ve tried a lot of drugs for stress and depression, but this is the most effective one. The pros is also that it is not an antidepressant, which is important. I’ve started to sleep much better, the emotional state has stabilized. There is only one con – you need to take it three times a day and not forget to do this.

Is the parent wrong because they don’t “practice what they preach”? Is smoking good for your health? The impact on one’s health from smoking is independent of whether or not the person giving the advice smokes. Similarly, an overweight person may give great dieting advice, but not apply that advice themselves.

What the Ad Hominem Fallacy Is Not

Calling someone a name or insulting them is not sufficient to say that someone has committed the ad hominem fallacy. It must be coupled with the assertion or at least implication that because of these negative things you’ve said, the argument itself is disproven. I heard that Valium is used in the treatment of neurological disorders, insomnia and anxiety. In action, the is similar to Relanium. I can’t say anything about addiction – we used it in a hospital under the supervision of a doctor. Today, my daughter was as sleepy and calm as on the day of the operation. This drug doesn’t have particular advantages or disadvantages. If it is prescribed before operation, I can recommend it as a good drug without any special side effects.

Dr. William Lane Craig dealt with this confusion when he was accused by a questioner of having committed the ad hominem fallacy.

Video Transcript

Questioner: […] that we wouldn’t hear ad hominems or attacks from your position or your side. I did want to bring this to your attention and get your response. After the panel that you appeared on with the late Christopher Hitchens, you referred to him in an interview with Christian radio as quote (and this is on YouTube), “Wesley, oily, and lacking in intellectual substance.” You then referred to, in your debate with Richard Carrier while he was there, to him as a “hack.” You also referred to fans of Richard Dawkins in an interview (and this is also on YouTube), “Dawkins is so popular because he, because people are so unsophisticated, inept, sophomoric, they cannot think logically, uninformed, silly, ignorant, and the result (and this is your words) of an educational system that has been dumbed down.” Mr. Craig, quite frankly, is this hypocrisy or is this just a glimpse of the real William Lane Craig?

William Lane Craig: Well I think it’s a glimpse of the real William Lane Craig.

QuestionerApparently they appreciate ad hominem too.

William Lane Craig: No. No. Well, I don’t know that. Maybe it’s important to describe what an ad hominem is. That means literally “against the man.” And what an ad hominem argument would be is that the reason you reject his conclusion is because you attack his person. Maybe like attacking me for these aspersion–now wait now, let, let me finish–it would be like saying that my conclusions are wrong because I’ve said all of these nasty things. See that would be an ad hominem argument. But in none of these cases that you’ve quoted where you’ve compiled words—not strung together at once but you’ve put them together—in none of these cases, I think, will you find that I ever reject a person’s argument or conclusions on that basis. Rather these were probably said in response to questions like tonight where I said some pretty negative things about folks rejecting God for emotional reasons rather than intellectual reasons. And I would certainly reiterate what I said about the lack of sophistication and the dumbed down educational system. But in no case is this committing an ad hominem fallacy where I say that their conclusions are wrong because of those things. I’m just… I’ve been asked to characterize certain things as I was tonight, and I’ve given my honest characterization that I would stand by. I mean I think it is, it is true all of those things that I said. But it’s not an ad hominem fallacy. At most it would be impolite maybe. You could indict me for being impolite.

Questioner: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Someone may say, “You’re ugly.” That’s not an ad hominem. If they say, “You’re ugly, therefore your argument is false,” they’ve then committed the ad hominem fallacy (specifically of the abusive variety).

Ridicule and Mockery in the Bible

Believe it or not, the Bible does include ridicule, insults, and mockery. But I couldn’t find any examples of an ad hominem being endorsed in the Bible. Some may claim that Christians should go one step further and not even use strong language, insults, cutting rhetorical questions, etc. when interacting with others. Here are four scriptural examples of what some may think is too harsh:

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

I Kings 18:27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

I Corinthians 1:20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Galatians 5:12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

These biblical references can serve as examples of how Christians may interact. Surely, our speech must always be kind, gentle, and aimed at producing love. However, it’s fallacious (specifically the fallacy of equivocation) to make “kind, gentle, and loving” identical to “not cutting.” We must also recognize that before we can love our fellow man, we must first and foremost love God. Certainly, those religious leaders Jesus and his disciples opposed would not have considered them to be loving or gentle. Condemnation of sin is often confused with condemnation of the sinner.

Christians must never knowingly engage in ad hominem arguments. It insults the image of God in your opponent, disrespects your own God given dignity, and is a poor representation to anyone listening of the intellectual rigor Christianity has to offer.

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8 Bad Arguments Against Theology (with Answers)

3 Laws of Theological Motion

Theology is “the study of God.” You can probably see why Christians, new and old, would be interested in this topic. It goes by different names like doctrine, statement of faith, belief, and even trinitarianism. But most religious thought can be brought under this umbrella term: theology. Some people shy away from it citing a number of reasons:

CLICK to Skip to an Argument

3 Laws of Theological Motion

Let’s take a closer look at why some people don’t like theology.

Christianity Is a Blind Lead of Faith.

[Tweet “Christianity is not a blind leap of faith.”]

It’s true that some Christians believe that the less reason they have for their beliefs, the better. However, the Bible says that we should love buy best valium God with our minds. We’re created in God’s image and as such, have reasoning abilities that should be used to honor him just as we honor him with our strength and hearts.

You Don’t Need Theology. You Just Need Jesus.

[Tweet “Christians should desire to study Jesus—the one they say they worship.”]

It’s true; Jesus is at the very heart of Christianity. But those who advocate against theology are missing the point. Jesus is God. If we’re to follow Jesus, we must know something about him. What did he teach? What sort of man was he? The questions go on and on. When we answer these questions, we’re doing theology. We’re being theologians. Perhaps you thought of it in that way, but that’s all the word means.

What’s More Important: Studying Theology or Living the Christian Life?

This is meant to be a rhetorical question. When someone asks a rhetorical question, they don’t really want an answer. They ask it because the answer is implied. So which is more important? They’re both important. Think about building a house. What’s more important: the foundation or the structure itself? It should be obvious. They’re both indispensable. A faith which is not based on truth is crippled and deformed, and a sound understanding of doctrine that doesn’t change your life is useless. You need both.

Knowledge Makes People Proud, and Christians Should Be Humble.

This is a bit trickier. It’s true that people can become “puffed up” with knowledge. It’s also true that Christians are supposed to be humble. However, pride and humility are not logical opposites. Technically, the negation of pride is not-pride. It isn’t humility. But let’s not get hung up on technicalities. The book of Proverbs (which is in the Bible) tell us that we should seek out wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. So there must be a way to pursue knowledge without becoming proud. That’s what I’m advocating for here.

Jesus Never Went to Seminary. Why Should I?

It’s true. Jesus didn’t go to seminary. Of course, they didn’t have seminaries back then, but let’s set that aside for a moment. Would Jesus have gone to a seminary if they had been around in his day? I think he would. First, Jesus had a keen understanding of Scripture. We can see this from the way he understood fulfilled prophecy and because he was able to correct the understanding of the religious leaders of his day. Second, Jesus is often called the “logos” (especially in the Gospel of John. Logos means “word,” “reason,” or “plan.”[1]. Surely someone who can be described as “reason” would be in favor of studying at a seminary. Thirdly, Jesus’ disciple Paul commended the congregation at one of his churches for being diligent to study the Scripture[2] (just the sort of thing they do at seminary). Would Paul have commended the Bereans for doing something Jesus would have prohibited?

Seminaries (Where Theology Is Studied) Are Devoid of Spiritual Life.

The implication is obvious. If you go to seminary (or study theology), you’ll die spiritually. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a study that shows any correlation between spiritual life/death and attendance at a seminary. Are there people at seminary who are spiritually dead. Sure! But isn’t seminary a good place for those folks to be? After all, they get exposed to the gospel on a daily basis while they’re there.

[Tweet “A preacher (in an attempt to curry favor with his audience) “mistakenly” says cemetery and quickly corrects himself to seminary.”]

Sometimes this argument takes the form of a joke. You’ve probably heard it. A preacher (in an attempt to curry favor with his audience) “mistakenly” says cemetery and quickly corrects himself to seminary. This mistakenly devalues something that God has said is extremely valuable: wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Hopefully, the audience takes this sort of joke with a pinch of salt.

Ecclesiastes Says That Sorrow Comes with Much Knowledge and Wisdom.

That’s correct. You can look it up in Ecclesiastes 1:18. This may seem like a tough nut to crack, but let’s see what we can do. Dr. Tremper Longman (author of The Book of Ecclesiastes) in his lecture “Life is Difficult and Then You Die” points out that the negative aspects of Ecclesiastes are all true in a world without God. But in a world with God, its a very different story. Not only can this be drawn from a study of the text itself, but it has the added advantage of being perfectly in step with the entire book of Proverbs and Paul’s admonition to the Bereans. In short, the book of Ecclesiastes does paint a bleak picture of wisdom, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means (vis-à-vis The Princess Bride).

Theology Doesn’t Leave Room for the Holy Spirit to Move in Your Life.

Have you heard this one before? It takes on different forms. I’ve often heard it go something like this, “Well, I studied all weekend to prepare for my sermon. But on the way here my [wife, child, news story on the radio, billboard, etc.] really stuck me, and I felt like God wanted me to change my message.” This has a pious ring to it. However, can’t God tell someone what he wants them to say while you’re studying? Why do we attach some special qualities to the spur of the moment type of inspiration? Some will cite Luke 12:11–12 to back up this concept. Do we really think that sermon prep is similar to early Christians being brought before rulers to defend themselves? I don’t think so.

Christians are warned against quenching the spirit, and of course sinning willfully will tend to harden our conscience making it more difficult to discern between right and wrong. Does theology fall into either of these categories? It seems absurd to even entertain the idea that studying God and what God has told us in his word would make it harder for the Holy Spirit to affect change in us. This good sounding motto, I think, can be safely ignored.

Where Does This Leave Us?

On the face of it, it makes sense that Christians would want to study God. The arguments against theology (the study of God) that we’ve looked at don’t really cut the mustard. In addition, we’ve seen some positive reasons for why we should study doctrine. Once we reach our final state after this life, we’ll understand God much better than we do now. How could it be bad to want to/try to understand him now?

Have you heard any arguments like the ones above?

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The Straw Man Fallacy and the Nature of God

The Straw Man Fallacy

The straw man fallacy occurs when someone attacks an incorrect or inaccurate representation of a position. Usually this misrepresentation is weaker than the actual argument in some way. When the attacker defeats this straw man version of the position, they then claim victory as if they had defeated the original argument.

The Straw Man Fallacy

Here’s a textbook (literally) definition of the straw man fallacy:

The straw man fallacy is committed when an arguer distorts an opponent’s argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it, demolishes the distorted argument, and then concludes that the opponent’s real argument has been demolished. By so doing, the arguer is said to have set up a straw man and knocked it down, only to conclude that the real man (opposing argument) has been knocked down as well.[1]

Not All Fallacies Are Created Equale

Fallacies are all around us, but not all fallacies are created equal. When critiquing a position, argument, or line of reasoning, there are two broad categories fallacies may fall into: formal and informal.

In 6 years I was seriously ill (there were complications after the flu, which affected the nervous system). At night, my limbs twitched violently, grimaces slipped on my face, there was some inhibition and detachment. The attending physician advised to take Klonopin. The cycle of my treatment has lasted for several years to consolidate the treatment will be successful.

Formal fallacies occur when there is a defect in the structure of an argument or the truth value of one or more of its propositions.

An informal fallacy can be found be examining the content of an argument. Everyday communication is usually not done via logical syllogisms (where formal logical fallacies would be easier to spot). Informal fallacies are not as easy to detect because there are so many, and the way they present themselves are often subtle (i.e. assumed in an argument rather than explicitly stated).

Here’s a dictionary definition of informal fallacies:

An error of reasoning or tactic of argument that can be used to persuade someone with whom you are reasoning that your argument is correct when really it is not.[2]

Examples of the Straw Man Fallacy

[Tweet “Sadly, politics is one of the most fruitful sources for examples of logical fallacies.”]

Sadly, politics is one of the most fruitful sources for examples of logical fallacies. Consider the issue of gun control (whatever that means). Let’s look at two examples of the straw man fallacy when it come to this volatile issue:

Straw Man Example #1

Those republicans! They’re always opposing stricter gun control legislation. They care more about hoarding their guns than they do about the lives of innocent children. We care about our children. Obviously those republicans are just spouting a bunch of nonsense.

Straw Man Example #2

Those democrats! They’re always proposing stricter gun control legislation. They want to force all Americans to turn in all their guns to the government. This is clearly an example of government run amok. Those democrats couldn’t make a sound argument to save their lives.

In both cases the actual claims (stricter gun control legislation or less strict gun control legislation) is ignored. Instead caricatures of the real arguments are argued against. Once these weakened arguments have been defeated, victory is proclaimed over the actual positions.

The Nature of God and the Straw Man Fallacy

Because the straw man fallacy involves a misrepresentation of an argument (intentional or unintentional), it is not true. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Consider the scriptural references below and what they say about the character and nature of God in relation to lying and falsity:

James 1:17 All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.[3]

I Kings 8:56 “The Lord is worthy of praise because he has made Israel his people secure just as he promised! Not one of all the faithful promises he made through his servant Moses is left unfulfilled![4]

Psalm 119:160 Your instructions are totally reliable;

all your just regulations endure.[5]

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?[6]

I Samuel 15:29 The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.”[7]

Hebrews 6:18 so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie.

God is not simply one who tells the truth he is the transcendent ground of all reality. Truth is grounded in his very being and nature. The Bible also instructs Christians to be followers of God, exemplifying his character in all they do.

[Tweet “God is not simply one who tells the truth he is the transcendent ground of all reality.”]

Therefore, Christians should carefully consider their arguments, ensuring that they do not engage in the use of any straw men, not because it makes for a better argument (although it does), but because arguing in accordance with the will of God is one way Christians glorify their heavenly father.

Critical Thinking Course by Dr. Robert Bowman


  1. Hurley, Patrick J. “Informal Fallacies.” A Concise Introduction to Logic. 9th ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006. 120. Print.  ↩
  2. Audi, Robert. “Informal Fallacy.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 431. Print.  ↩
  3. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Jas 1:17.  ↩
  4. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), 1 Ki 8:56.  ↩
  5. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ps 119:160.  ↩
  6. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Nu 23:19.  ↩
  7. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), 1 Sa 15:29.  ↩
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How Can We Use Science and Philosophy to Argue That God Exists? (Video)

How Can We Argue that God Exists from Science is Religion and Science Are Opposed to Each Other?

Christians Can’t Argue That God Exists. Can They?

It’s commonly assumed that to believe in Christianity is to give up science and philosophy. Some Christians go beyond a mere personal belief and seek to convince others of the truth claims of their worldview. They want to argue that God exists. Can this be done? Wouldn’t one have to give up science and philosophy to argue for God?

How Can We Argue that God Exists from Science is Religion and Science Are Opposed to Each Other?

Dr. Doug Groothuis says no. In fact, he maintains that both science and philosophy can be used by the believer to argue for the existence of God. It must be admitted that some Christians debate about the validity of this approach. Some say that belief is purely a matter of faith and that to offer evidence or argument is to go contra-faith. Unbelievers say that Christianity destroys science and philosophy, and so using them to try and prove Christianity is impossible.

Watch this quick video or read the transcript below to get Dr. Groothuis perspective on this question. You can also grab his free video by clicking the graphic at the bottom of this blog post to hear him discuss the use of logic in apologetics.

Video Transcript

We can argue that in a variety of ways. You can argue from big bang cosmology that the universe began to exist a finite time ago and that’s best understood as “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We’ve found that the universe is very carefully fine-tuned for life. The best explanation for that is that it was fine-tuned by a tuner. There’s a mind behind the universe. According to the specialists from the website, Xanax has received mixed reviews because of its addiction potential. For example, since thedrug has a short half-life, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms even between doses.Wrong use of Xanax (i.e.asanarcotic) cancausemany side effects.
At the microscopic level we’ve discovered the existence of molecular machine and the informational natural of DNA and so on. And those entities and processes are best understood, not as the result of unguided causes, but as the result of a designing mind.
So those are several areas that we can appeal to. That doesn’t, certainly, tell us everything we need to know about God. But it does dethrone atheism and pantheism as well. And it sets the table for further investigating Christian truth claims.
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Does God Exist? Bahnsen vs Stein (Debate Transcript)

Does God Exist? Bahnsen vs Stein (Debate Transcript)

Does God Exist?

What: A Debate
Thesis/Resolution: Does God Exist?
Who: Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Dr. Gordon Stein
Where: University of California Irvine
When: 1985

This transcript was made over the course of four or five days using the original and remastered audio of the debate. If you find any errors or tweaks that should be made please contact us. For the most complete collection of materials by Dr. Bahnsen check out Covenant Media Foundation at

This debate has influenced a large number of people. In subsequent recordings Dr. Bahnsen remarked on various portions of this debate. Over time we’d like to supplement this post with asides that contain Dr. Bahnsen’s own comments on this debate. The section headings and various other organization elements have been added to make the material easier to read. Additionally, the audience Q&A has not been included as it was not part of the debate proper.

Does God Exist? Bahnsen vs Stein (Debate Transcript)

Dr. Bahnsen’s First Opening Statement

Thank you David. I want to begin this evening with three opening and introductory remarks about the nature of the debate itself.

First of all, it’s necessary at the outset of our debate to define our terms. That’s always the case. And in particular here I should make it clear what I mean when I use the term “God.” I want to specify that I am arguing particularly in favor of Christian theism. And for it as a unit or system of thought and not for anything like theism in general. And there are reasons for that, three:

3 Reasons Why I’m Not Arguing for “Theism in General”

The various conceptions of deity found in the world’s religions are, in most cases, logically incompatible leaving no unambiguous sense to general theism, whatever that might be.

Secondly, I have not found the non-christian religions to be philosophically defensible each of them being internally incoherent or undermining human reason and experience.

And thirdly, since I am by the grace of God a Christian, I cannot from the heart adequately defend those religious faiths with which I disagree. My commitment is to the triune God and Christian worldview based on God’s revelation in the Old and New Testament. And so first then I’m defending Christian theism.

What this Debate Is and Isn’t About

Secondly, I want to observe and we should indicate just what it is and is not at issue in the debate and on the basis of which we hope you’ll consider the debate. It must be made clear that we are debating about philosophical systems, not the people who adhere to or profess them.

Our concern is with the objective merits of the case which can be made for atheism or Christian theism not related, subjective, or personal matters. And again I have three reasons or illustrations of this.

Personalities Aside

The personalities of those individuals who adhere to different systems of thought are not really relevant to the truth or falsity of the claims made by those systems. Atheists and Christians can equally be found emotional, unlearned, intolerant or rude in their approaches.

Experience Aside

Secondly, subjective claims made about the experience of inner satisfaction or peace, claims that are made interestingly by both Christians and atheists in their literature, and promotional claims made about the superiority of Christianity or atheism—for instance, some atheist literature suggest that greater mental health comes through the independence of the atheist outlook—these sorts of claims are always subject to conflicting interpretations and explanations being I think more autobiographical rather than telling us anything for sure about the truth of the system under consideration.

Actions Aside

Thirdly, the issue is not whether atheists or professing Christians have ever done anything undesirable or morally unacceptable. One need only think respectively of the atheists’ involvement in the reign of terror in the French Revolution, and the professing Christian involvement in the Spanish Inquisition. The question is not whether adherents of these system have lived spotless lives but whether atheism or Christian theism as philosophical systems are objectively true.

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And so I’ll be defending Christian theism and I’ll be defending it as a philosophical system.

The Nature of the Debate

My last introductory remark is simply to the effect that I want to concede to my opponent all issues pertaining to the control of ovarian maturation in Japanese quail. Okay, the subject of his doctoral dissertation in 1974 at Ohio State.

Dr. Stein is a man of intelligence and that’s not in question in this debate. I would not pretend to hold my own in a discussion with him of the empirical details of his narrow domain of specialized natural science.

However, our subject tonight is really much different. Calling for intelligent reflection upon issues which are philosophical or theological in character. For some reason Dr. Stein has, over the last decade, left his field of expertise and given his life to a campaign for atheism.

Whatever his perception of the reason for that I do not believe that it is because any genuinely cogent philosophical case which might be made for atheism as a worldview.

And it’s to this subject which I now turn for tonight’s debate.

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Dr. Bahnsen’s Opening Case

My opening case for the existence of God will cover three areas of thought. They are; the nature of evidence, the presuppositional conflict of worldviews, and finally the transcendental argument for God’s existence.

The Nature of Evidence

First of all, the nature of evidence. How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote:

”The question of the existence of God if a factual question and should be answered in the same way as any other factual question.”

End of quote. The assumption that all existences claims are questions about matters of fact… the assumption that these are all answered in the very same way is not merely oversimplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken.

The existence, factuality, or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask, “Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?” And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering question or determining the reality of, say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you’re now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty.

In such cases, one does not do anything like walking to the pantry and looking inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case. Just think of the difference in argumentation and types of evidence used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, logicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists.

It should be obvious that the types of evidence which one looks for in existence of factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

Dr. Stein’s remark that the existence of God is answered, the question of the existence of God in answered in the same way as any other factual question mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as a box of crackers in the pantry which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.

[Tweet “The crackers in the pantry fallacy.”]

The Presuppositional Conflict of Worldviews

Secondly, then I’d like to talk about the presuppositional conflict of worldviews. Dr. Stein has written about the nature of evidence in the theistic debate. And what he has said points to a second philosophical error of significant proportions.

In passing we would note how unclear he is, by the way, in speaking of the evidence which must be used, describing in variously as logic, facts, or reason. Each of these terms is susceptible to a whole host of differing senses not only in philosophy but especially in ordinary usage depending on who’s using the terms.

I take it he wishes to judge hypothesis in the common sense by test of logical coherence and empirical observation. The problem arises when Dr. Stein elsewhere insists that every claim that someone makes must be treated as a hypothesis which must be tested by such evidence before accepting it. There is to be nothing, he says, which smacks of begging the question or circular reasoning. This I think is oversimplified thinking and again misleading, what we might call the pretended neutrality fallacy.

One case see this by considering the following quotation from Dr. Stein and I quote:

“The use of logic or reason is the only valid way to examine the truth of falsity of a statement which claims to be factual.“

That’s the end of the quote.

One must eventually ask Dr. Stein then how he proves this statement itself. That is, how does he prove that logic or reason is the only way to prove factual statements? He is now on the horns of a real epistemological dilemma. If he says that the statement is proven by logic or reason then he’s engaging in circular reasoning and he’s begging the question which he staunchly forbids. If he says that the statement is proven in some other fashion than he refutes the statement itself, that logic or reason is the only way to prove things.

And my point is not to fault Dr. Steins’ commitment to logic or reason but to observe that it actually has the nature of a pre-commitment or a presupposition. It is not something he has proven by empirical experience or logic, but it is rather that by which he proceeds to prove everything else. He is not presuppositionally neutral in his approach to factual questions and disputes. He does not avoid begging crucial questions rather than proving them in what we might call the garden variety ordinary way.

Now this tendency to beg crucial questions is openly exposed by Dr. Stein when the issue becomes the existence of God because he demands that the theist present him with evidence for the existence of God. Now theists like myself will gladly and readily do so.

There is the evidence of the created order itself testifying to the wisdom, power, plan and glory of God. One should not miss the testimony of the solar system, the persuasion of the sea, the amazing intricacies of the human body. There’s the evidence of history, God’s deliverance of his people, the miracles at Passover night and the red sea, the visions of Isaiah, the shekinah glory in the temple, the virgin birth of Jesus, his mighty miracles, his resurrection from the dead. There’s the evidence of special revelation, the wonder of the Bible as God’s word, unsurpassed in its coherence over time and it’s historical accuracy and it’s life renewing power. In short, there is no shortage of empirical indicators or evidences of God’s existence from the thousands of stars in the heavens to the five-hundred witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

But Dr. Stein precludes the very possibility of any of this empirical evidence counting as proof for God’s existence. He writes ad I quote:

”Supernatural explanations are not allowed in science. The theists is hard put to document his claims to the existence of the supernatural if he is in effect forbidden from invoking the supernatural as a part of his explanation. Of course this is entirely fair as it would be begging the question to use what has to be proved as a part of the explanation.”

End of quote.

In advance, you see, Dr. Stein is committed to disallowing any theistic interpretation of nature, history or experience. What he seems to overlook is that this is just as much begging the question on his own part as it is on the part of the theists who appeal to such evidence. He has not at all proven by empirical observation and logic his pre-commitment to naturalism. He has assumed it in advance, accepting and rejecting all further factual claims in terms of that controlling and unproven assumption.

Now the theists does the very same thing don’t get me wrong. When certain empirical evidence are put forth as allegedly disproving the existence of God the theist regiments his commitments in terms of his presuppositions as well. Just as the naturalist would insist that Christ could not have risen from the dead or that there is a natural explanation yet to be found of how he did rise from the dead, so the supernaturalist insists that the alleged discrepancies in the Bible have an explanation, some yet to be found perhaps, and that the evil of this world has a sufficient reason behind it known at least to God. They both have their governing presuppositions by which the facts of experience are interpreted even as all philosophical systems, all worldviews, do. At the most fundamental level of everyone’s think there are primary convictions about reality, man, the world, knowledge, truth, behavior, and such things. Convictions about which all other experience is organized, interpreted and applied.

Dr. Stein has such presuppositions and so do I and so do all of you. And it is these presuppositions which determine what we accept by ordinary reasoning and evidence for they are assumed in all of our reasoning even about reasoning itself.

The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence

And so I come thirdly then, to the transcendent proof of God’s existence.

How then should the difference of opinion between the theists and the atheist be rationally resolved? That was my opening question. We’ve seen two of Dr. Stein’s errors regarding it: the crackers in the pantry fallacy and the pretended neutrality fallacy.

In the process of discussing them we’ve observed that belief in the existence of God is not tested in any ordinary way like other factual claims. And the reason for that is metaphysically because of the non-natural character of God and epistemologically because of the presuppositional character of commitment for or against his existence.

Arguments over conflicting presuppositions between vorldveiws therefore must be resolved somewhat differently and yet still rationally than conflicts over factual existence claims within a worldview or system of thought.

When we go to look at the different worldviews that atheists and theists have, I suggest that we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility the contrary. The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. And in that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.

Dr. Stein’s Opening Statement

Can everybody hear me? I assume so. Well I will grant Dr. Bahnsen his expertise on the conditional resolution on the apparent paradox of self-deception which was his dissertation. I don’t know how much more relevant that is to our discussion tonight than mine is probably not anymore. But, I would like to also thank Dr. Bahnsen for showing us that he really doesn’t understand too much about atheism. I will try to straighten him out.

This is an important question we’re discussing. Perhaps it’s the most important question in the whole field of religion. Because if god does not exist then the Bible can’t be the word of god, Jesus can’t be the Messiah, and Christianity cannot be true as well as other realigns. So we’re dealing with an important issue here.

Now, Dr. Bahnsen repeated for me that the existence of god is a factual question. I don’t think he would dispute that. I think he misinterpreted what I said when I said that we solve factual questions in the same way. I didn’t mean exactly the same way I mean with the use of reason, logic, and evidence. And that is what I am holding.

Defining Atheism

Now, first let me make clear what atheism is and is not. I think this is a very commonly misunderstood subject. Atheists do not say that there, that they can prove that there’s no god. They also, an atheist is not someone who denies that there is a god.

Rather an atheist says that he has examined the proofs that are offered by the theist and he finds them inadequate. Now, if I were to say that this gentleman in the… sitting on the front step could fly by flapping his arms I’d be making a kind of unusual statement. And it would be up to me, or him, to demonstrate that he could fly. If he can’t demonstrate it then we don’t say that he can fly. Now if he doesn’t demonstrate it right now that doesn’t mean he can’t fly. It just means he can’t fly right now. Now, so we do not deny that he could fly because he can’t demonstrate it right now but we say he has not proven his case and therefore we do not believe that he can fly until he does so, proves so. And this is what an atheist says about the existence of god. He says the case is unproven not disproven.

So an atheists is really someone who is without a belief in god or who does not believe in a god. It is not someone who denies the existence of god or who says that one does not exist or can prove that one does not exist.

Defining God

Now, I think I would like to define a god as well. I’m not so sure I like his definition. I’m not going to stick to just Christian god I’m going to stick to all kinds of god. And I’m going to use the definition which both Father Copleston and Bertrand Russell both agreed on in their famous debate. Now this was both sides, the leading exponents of both sides, both managed to agree on the definition of god so I think it must at least be an adequate one if not a great one. And this is the definition:

”A supreme personal being distinct from the world and creator of the world.”

Now before asking for proof of god’s existence we need a satisfactory definition. And I think I’ve given one which I will find at least satisfactory and if Dr. Bahnsen doesn’t agree we can hear from him.

Now nothing can qualify as evidence for the existence of a god unless he have some idea of what we’re searching for. And that’s why we need the definition.

A Review of Proofs for God’s Existence

Okay now, throughout history eleven major kinds of evidence or proof have been offered [unintelligible] for the existence of god. In my campus visits I have heard all kinds of other things offered as proofs but they basically fall into those eleven categories with some juggling. And if these eleven proofs do not work out logically, or lead to logical self-contradictions, then we can only say that god’s existence is not proved, it’s unproven, not disproven, as I mentioned before.

Now if I assert that this gentleman can fly by flapping his arms as I said the burden of proof is on him. Supposing I make a more complicated statement. Supposing I say that my dog can talk in complete sentences. Okay well, again I’m making a kind of unusual statement and it’s up to me to offer the evidence. So I better be prepared to do that or I better be prepared to have people not believe what I say.

And I’d like a demonstration either of this gentleman flying or of my dog talking, if I were the person who was being asked to make a conclusions, before I admitted that such things were possible or existed. Okay now how easy would it be to show that this gentleman cannot fly or that my dog cannot talk in complete sentences. As I mentioned before you get into a real problem when you try to show that something cannot happen or that something does not exist.

For example, if I wanted to prove that unicorns do not exist I can examine this room and we can find out that there’re defiantly no unicorn in this room. A small area. But to prove the general nonexistence of something like unicorns you would have to search the entire universe simultaneously and then we could only say that no unicorns existed at the moment we searched the universe. But you know maybe they were there five minutes before or if we only searched the whole earth maybe they were on another planet at the time. I mean there are all kinds of other possibilities. So you cannot prove that something does not exist and that’s why, as I mentioned before, the definition of an atheist is not someone who thinks he has proven that god does not exist because you cannot.

Okay, now of those eleven major proofs I want to go over some of them very quickly. They been nine-hundred years in the formulation and during this nine-hundred years this is basically what people have come up with.

The Cosmological Argument

The first cause argument also called the cosmological argument, it says that everything must have a cause, therefore the universe had a cause and that cause is god. God was the first, or uncaused, cause. Okay well this leads us to a real logical bind for the theist because if everything must have had a cause than god must have had a cause. If god had a cause than he was not the first or uncaused cause. If god did not have a cause than not everything must have a cause. If not everything needs a cause than perhaps the universe is one of those things which doesn’t needs a cause. So you see that we’ve gotten into a logical bind there. And that proof basically fails. Now I’m giving you a real short synopsis of each of these proofs. They could fill an entire book and have. So you have to understand I’m oversimplifying slightly but I think I’m retaining the logic of it while controlling time.

The Design/Teleological Argument

The second one is the design argument. It’s also called the teleological argument. It says that the universe is wonderful and exhibits evidence of deign or order. Things which show such wonderful design must have had a designer who is even more wonderful and that designer was god. Well, if the universe is wonderfully designed surely god is even more wonderfully designed. He must, therefore, have had a designer even more wonderful than he is. If god did not require a designer than there’s no reason why such a relatively less wonderful thing as the universe needed one. Again we’re into a logical self-contradiction.

The Argument from Life

The argument from life says life cannot originate from the random movement of atoms yet life exists. Therefore, the existence of a god was necessary to create life. Well basically life didn’t originate from the random movements of atoms and no scientist would say so. Because there are limits on the chemical composition and physics of atoms and they don’t move in any possible way chemicals do not combine in any possible way. That’s why when you see these one-billion to one kind of odds that people have said for life originating are all wet. They haven’t considered the possibility that not every reaction can occur. So it’s possible to explain the origins of life without a god using the principles of parsimony, or Occam’s razor, I think we are left with the simpler explanation as of the one without a god. I go into more detail on that later.

The Argument from Revealed Theology

Then we have the argument from revealed theology which seems to be one of Dr. Bahnsen’s favorites. It says that the Bible says that god exists and the Bible is the inspired word of god, therefore what it says must be true, therefore god exists. Well this is obviously a circular argument. It begs the question. We’re trying to show whether god exists. Therefore calling the Bible the word of god is not permitted because it assumes the existence of the very things we’re trying to prove.

Now if the Bible is not the word of god, in this case, then we cannot give any real weight to the fact that is mentions that god exists. It does not become a proof. In fact, to prove god from the Bible is standing things on its head. First you must prove god then you may say, examine whether god wrote the Bible or dictated it or inspired it. But you can’t really use the Bible as Dr. Bahnsen seems to want to do as evidence for the existence of god per se.

The Argument from Miracles

Then we have the argument from miracles. It says that the existence of miracles requires the presence of a supernatural force; that is a god. Miracles do occur therefore there is a supernatural force or god. Again this is begging the question. It requires that you must believe in the existence of a god first, beforehand, and then you say that there are such things as miracles which are the acting of a god to create violations of his own laws.

So it is not evidence per se. It can serve as supplementary once you have good evidence in another kind of a way for the existence of a god then you can use miracles as an additional argument. But in and of itself it doesn’t show the existence of a god because it assumes that which is to be proven.

I just want to quote one little thing from Thomas Payne about miracles:

”If we see an account given of such a miracle by a person who said he saw it, it raises a question in the mind that is very easily decided which is, is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen in our time nature go out of her course but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.”

I think those are good odds.

The Ontological Argument

Then we come to the ontological argument one of the most difficult ones to explain to people, but basically it says god is by definition perfect. A necessary quality of any perfect object is that it exists. If it did not exist it would not be perfect. If perfection requires existence than god exists since god is perfect.

Now I don’t know if you followed that but I think this has been pretty well ripped to shreds by philosophers and I think the problem lies with, the trouble is with the word exist. In order for something to be perfect it must first exist. If something did not exist you wouldn’t… the word perfect wouldn’t mean anything. So first you must have existence and then possibly you may have perfection. So this, again, is going backwards and we must have an existing god then we can decide whether he’s perfect if perfectness is a quality of a god then he may be perfect but he first must exist.

The Moral Argument

Then we have the moral argument, all people have moral values. The existence of these values cannot be explained unless they were implanted in people by a god, therefore god exists. Well the answer to this is that there are simpler ways to explain the origin or moral values without requiring the existence of a god to implant them in people. Besides if moral values did come from a god then all people should have the same moral values, and they don’t. People’s moral values are the result of an accommodation which they have made with their particular environment and then taught to their children as a survival mechanism.

The Wish Argument

Okay. Then we have the wish argument. Without the existence of a god people would have no reason to live or be good therefore there has to be a god. Most people believe in a god, therefore there is a god. This really isn’t a proof it’s just a wish. It’s like saying it would be nice to have a god, which it would, but you know that doesn’t have anything to do with whether there is one or not.

The Argument from Faith

Finally, oh I’m missing one here. We have the argument from faith. The existence of a god cannot be proven by the use of reason but only by the use of faith. The use of faith shows that there is a god therefore god exists.

Reason or logic is a proven way of obtaining factual information about the universe. Faith has never been shown to produce true information about the universe because faith is believing something is so because you want it to be so without adequate evidence. Therefore it can’t be used to prove the existence of anything. In addition, the additional fact is that faith often gives you the opposite answers to what is given by reason to the same problem. This also shows that faith does not provide valid answers.

The Argument from Religious Experience

Now the argument from religious experience. Many people have claimed to have had a personal experience or encounter with god therefore he must exist. This is a difficult one to handle because first of all I’ve never had such an experience but I’m sure people have absolutely honestly reported having had such experiences. But the feeling of having meet god must not be confused with the fact of having met him. This is a confusion, a semantic confusion, and also we cannot use our own feelings as if they were valid information about the world. They are feelings that we have inside of us, but you cannot demonstrate them to another person, they cannot be used as evidence. If everyone had that same experience, like, if we all looked around the room and we all agreed that there was a clock over there we might say that the vision of a clock was a consensual one that everyone agreed on. Other than that, if you saw a clock and nobody else did or only two or three people did then we would have a bit of a problem.

Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s wager is the last of eleven arguments. I hear this a lot on the campuses. It says since we don’t know wether a god exists or not we have no way of finding out in this life we have nothing to lose by believing in god. On the other hand you have a lot to lose if we do not believe in a god and therefore, there later turns out to be one. Well this is only true if number one you are right about a god and secondly if you have picked the right religion. Because you might wind up at the judgment day and be right about god but he says what religion were you and you say I was Islam, a believer in Islam, and he says sorry Catholicism is the right religion down you go. So, in addition we might also, if you have a god who punished people who live virtuous lives, let’s say an atheist who lives a virtuous life, does wonderful deeds in the world but just does not believe in a god, if the god punishes him than we have an irrational god who is just as likely to punish the believer as the unbeliever.

Dr. Bahnsen Cross-Examines Dr. Stein

Question and Answer #1

Dr. Bahnsen: Dr. Stein do you have any sources that you can give to us very briefly that define atheism as one who finds the theists proofs inadequate rather than one who denies the existence of God?

Dr. Stein: Yes sir. George Smith’s book which you will find for sale at the back of the room upstairs later called Atheism A Case Against God which I think is the finest book ever written on the subject makes this quite explicit I happen to have a copy right here I can quote you the exact words if you’d like to see them.

Dr. Bahnsen: No. That won’t be necessary.

Dr. Stein: Okay

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you have any other sources?

Dr. Stein: Do I have any other sources?

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you have any other sources?

Dr. Stein: Sure.

Dr. Bahnsen: What would they be?

Dr. Stein: Charles Bradlaugh who I will give him to you right now. Two hundred, a hundred years ago Charles Bradlaugh made the comment in one of his… in his Plea for Atheism he said…

Dr. Bahnsen: That’ll be fine.

Dr. Stein: Okay.

Question and Answer #2

Dr. Bahnsen: Dr. Stein did you hear Dr. Bahnsen use the following argument, “The Bible says that God exists and the Bible is the inspired word of God therefore what it says must be true, therefore God exists.”

Dr. Stein: You did not use that you just assumed that that was so because you were quoting from the Bible as if it proves the existence…

Dr. Bahnsen: I didn’t ask you what I assumed I asked you if I used that argument.

Dr. Stein: No you did not use the argument but you used the results of the argument.

Question and Answer #3

Dr. Bahnsen: Dr. Stein you mentioned eleven basic proofs for the existence of God did you mention the transcendental proof for the existence of God?

Dr. Stein: No I didn’t mention it by name. I think it is not a proof. I would not call it a proof. As I understand it…

Dr. Bahnsen: I don’t have time for rebuttal on that point. In other words you didn’t deal with that particular one.

Question and Answer #4

Dr. Bahnsen: Are all factual questions answered in the very same way?

Dr. Stein: No they are not. They are answered by the use of certain methods, though, that are the same; reason, logic, and presenting evidence, and facts.

Question and Answer #5

Dr. Bahnsen: I heard you mention logical binds and logical self-contradictions in your speech. You did say that?

Dr. Stein: I said it. I used that phrase yes.

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?

Dr. Stein: Absolutely.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they universal?

Dr. Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings. They aren’t laws that exist out in nature. They are…

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?

Dr. Stein: They are conventions but they are conventions that are self-verifying.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?

Dr. Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by men. And promulgated by men.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they material in nature?

Dr. Stein: How could a law be material?

Dr. Bahnsen: That’s the question that I’m going to ask you.

Dr. Stein: I would say no.

Dr. Stein Cross-Examines Dr. Bahnsen

Question and Answer #1

Dr. Stein: Dr. Bahnsen would you call good material or immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Immaterial.

Dr. Stein: What is something that’s immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.

Dr. Stein: Can you give me an example of anything other than god that’s immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Laws of logic.

Dr. Stein: Are you putting god in the same, as an equivalent thing to the laws of logic?

Dr. Bahnsen: No. Only if you think all factual questions are answered in the very same way would you even assume that by thinking there are two immaterial things they must be identical.

Dr. Stein: No, I’m not assuming that. I’m just assuming that because the laws of logic are a convention among men are you saying that god is a convention among men?

Dr. Bahnsen: I don’t accept the fact that laws, that claim the laws of logic are conventional.

Dr. Stein: Okay.

Question and Answer #2

Dr. Stein: Is your god omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent?

Dr. Bahnsen: He is.

Dr. Stein: You don’t find this a contradiction at all?

Dr. Bahnsen: I do not.

Dr. Stein: Okay well we’ll show you a little later that it is.

Question and Answer #3

Dr. Stein: If your arguments in favor of the existence of god are shown to be incorrect will you relinquish you’re belief in god?

Dr. Bahnsen: If my arguments are disproven?

Dr. Stein: Yes.

Dr. Bahnsen: Will I relinquish my belief in god? If there are no arguments for the existence of God I wouldn’t believe in God.

Dr. Stein: That’s not quite answering the question. Is someone can show you that there are no arguments would you relinquish your belief. I’m trying to see what the basis is…

Dr. Bahnsen: You’re the one who said that it’s impossible to show a universal negative. No one can show that there are no arguments for the existence of God so we can only deal with those that I know of.

Dr. Stein: Okay. If someone showed that al the ones that you’ve produced were invalid what would be your position.

Dr. Bahnsen: Well, you’d have to describe further the conditions. Rationally speaking, if there is no basis for belief in the existence of God I would relinquish that belief.

Dr. Stein: Okay.

Question and Answer #4

Dr. Stein: Is god good?

Dr. Bahnsen: Yes he is.

Dr. Stein: How do you know that?

Dr. Bahnsen: He saved me. He created me. He made the world and he made it good. He sent his son into the world to die for my sins. Many of these evidences are quite convincing to me but I don’t use them outside of a worldview in which they make sense in which they would be taken as true. If you mean is God good in such a way or can I give you evidence that you would accept that would depend on what your presuppositions are.

Dr. Stein: No, no. I’m asking if god says something, anything, is it right because it, because anything god does is good because god is good? Or does it become good just because god said it? I don’t know if I said that right. I guess did.

Dr. Bahnsen: No, I understand the problem though it’s roughly stated. What God says to be good is good because it reflect his own character. God is good and is the standard of goodness. That’s one of the presuppositions of the Christian worldview.

Dr. Stein: But isn’t it indeed a presupposition which is presupposed before there is any actual data from god?

Dr. Bahnsen: Is this a questions about my first opening statement?

Dr. Stein: In a sense it is because although it isn’t directly mentioned in your opening statement it has to do with the whole idea of wether there are absolutes outside of god which is an important issue in this whole debate and it may come up later.

Dr. Bahnsen: I still think we’re straining at the limits of debate rules here but I will answer your question. There are no absolute outside of God.

Dr. Stein: So, in other words, the fact that god is good is something that god told you and that’s why you accept it rather than knowing it ahead and assuming it as a presupposition which you said a minute ago.

Dr. Bahnsen: No. That’s extremely simplistic. God told it to me and he’s provided evidence of it.

Dr. Stein: You also said it was a presupposition.

Dr. Bahnsen: That’s right.

Dr. Stein: Is that not a contradiction?

Dr. Bahnsen: Oh not at all. There are many things which are presupposed as well as evidenced in this word. For instance the laws of logic.

Dr. Stein: I would disagree with that but… ummm, well I still have some time alright.

Question and Answer #5

Dr. Stein: When we talk about immaterial things are you also saying there’s such a thing as ghosts or the soul which are another example of immaterial things? Would you call them immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: I would say…

Dr. Stein: I’m trying…

Dr. Bahnsen: …that man is a living soul and has an immaterial aspect to his being, yes.

Dr. Stein: And how would you prove this?

Dr. Bahnsen: This has to do with the existence of god now?

Dr. Stein: Well it has to do with the existence of immaterial things.

Dr. Bahnsen: Well if there’s an immaterial being, God, and if the Bible is his word than I would say that his revealing the nature of man in the Bible is sufficient proof. And that takes us back logically as you’ll be bound to say to wether God himself exists and that’s what we’re supposed to be debating.

Dr. Stein: Okay, so you’ve given me a circular argument which is…

Dr. Bahnsen: No, I’m telling you what the debate is about.

Dr. Stein: I know what the debate is about.

Dr. Bahnsen: Yea.

Dr. Stein: I’m asking for an answer to a question and I didn’t get one. All I got was…

Dr. Bahnsen: I’m not debating the nature of the soul tonight but the existence of God. Yes, I believe that man has a soul.

Dr. Stein: Okay. The only reason I asked about the soul is because this is a simpler immaterial object that most people would hold is also immaterial.

Dr. Bahnsen: Oh I didn’t say that the soul is similar. That’s your claim.

Dr. Stein: Simpler I said, not similar.

Dr. Bahnsen: Okay.

Dr. Bahnsen’s Rebuttal

Thank you. Dr. Stein is not into this debate yet tonight. We are debating the nature of, I mean the existence of God. I specified that I would be speaking, in order to avoid logical contradiction of one particular view of God, the Christian view of God, which I personally hold. Dr. Stein says that he will not restrict himself to the Christian conception of God. Well that’s fine he may not but all the time he uses on anything that’s not the Christian conception of God will be irrelevant. In fact, I will join him in refuting those other conceptions of God. The existence of God that I’m arguing tonight is the Christian one.

Secondly, when Dr. Stein defines an atheist as one who finds the theistic proof inadequate, that is unproven but not disproven, he is engaging in linguistic revision. He does quote for us, of course, two ath… or he said that he could and I trust that he can, two atheists who likewise define atheism that way. But you see that strikes me as similar to a Christian who defines his position as being true at the outset and therefore it must be true cause it’s true by definition. He has minimized the task that is before him by simply saying, “I’m here to show that the theistic proofs are inadequate.” Well you see even at that though he didn’t do his job even though that is less than what he really should be doing. Because he gave us eleven basic proofs for God attributing one to me that I didn’t use, and do not use, and did not assume. He mentioned eleven basic proofs but did not deal with the one that I gave in my opening presentation and so he has not dealt yet with the argument that is before us this evening.

Dr. Stein has mentioned logical binds and logical self-contradictions, he says that he holds that the laws of logic are universal but however they are conventional in nature. That is not at all acceptable philosophically. If laws of logic are conventional in nature then you might have different societies that use different laws of logic. It might be appropriate in some society to say both my car is in the parking lot and it’s not the case that my car is in the parking lot. That is, certain societies could have a convention that says, go ahead and contradict yourself.

Of course there are, in a sense, subgroups within our own society that might think that way. Thieves have a tendency to say this is not my wallet but it’s not the case that it’s not my wallet. They might engage in contradictions like that but I don’t think any of us would want to accept that.

The laws of logic are not conventional, are not sociological. I would say the laws of logic have a transcendental necessity about them. They are universal, they are invariant and they are not material in nature. And if they are not that than I’d like to know in an atheist universe how it’s possible to have laws in the first place. And secondly, how it’s possible to justify those laws.

The laws of logic you see are abstract. As abstract entities, which is the appropriate philosophical term not spiritual entities as Dr. Stein is speaking of, as abstract entities, that is to say, none individual or universal in character, they are not materialistic. As universal they are not experienced to be true. There may be experiences whereby the laws of logic are used but no one has universal experience. No one has tried every possible instance of the law of logic. As invariant the don’t fit into what most materialists would tell us about the constantly hanging nature of the world. And so you see we have a real problem on our hands. Dr. Stein wants to use the laws of logic tonight. I maintain in so doing he is borrowing my world view. For you see, within the theistic world the laws of logic make sense. For within the theistic worldview there can be abstract, universal, invariant entities such as the laws of logic. Within the theistic worldview you cannot contradict yourself because in so doing you engage in the nature of lying and that’s contrary to the character of God as we perceive it. So the laws of logic are something that Dr. Stein is going to have to explain as an atheist or else relinquish using them.

The transcendental argument for the existence of God then which Dr. Stein has yet to touch, and which I don’t believe he can surmount, is that without the existence of God it’s impossible to prove anything. And that’s because in the atheistic world you cannot justify and you cannot account for laws in general, laws of thought in particular, laws of nature, cannot account for the human mind, and the fact that it’s more than electrochemical complexes and events, and you cannot give us moral absolutes.

That is to say, in the atheist conception of the world there’s really no reason to debate because in the end as Dr. Stein has said all these laws are conventional, all these laws are not really law like in their nature they’re just, well if you’re an atheist and a materialist you’d have to say they’re just something that happens inside the brain.

But you see what happens inside your brain is not the same as what happens inside my brain. And so what happens inside your rain is not a law. It doesn’t necessarily correspond to what happens in mine. In fact, it can’t be identical with what is inside my mind or brain because we don’t have the same brain. If the laws of logic come down to being materialistic entities then they no longer have their law like character. If they are only social conventions then of course what we might do tonight to win the debate is just define a new set of laws and we’ll say all those who want the convention that says atheism must be true or theism must be true and we have the following laws which we conventionally adopt to prove it, you see we’ll be satisfied. But no one is satisfied, that’s not a rational procedure to follow. The laws of logic cannot be avoided. The laws of logic cannot be accounted for in a materialistic universe. Therefore, the laws of logic are one of many evidences that without God you can’t prove anything at all.

Dr. Stein’s Rebuttal

Okay, I’ll now touch on transcendental evidence for the existence for god which is I think the only time I could really do such is in my rebuttal. But first I’d like to do one more important things. Rather than asking what is the cause of the universe we must first ask does the universe require a causal explanation? Rather than asking what is responsible for design in nature we must ask does nature exhibit design? God is given as a solution to a metaphysical problem but no consideration is given to whether such a problem exists in the first place.

But god is not an explanation for anything. For example, if you say, if I ask you, how did the universe come and you say “God created it.” That doesn’t answer the question. The questions is how did god create it. And I defy any theist to explain how god created it. Basically what you’re saying is that an unknowable being is responsible for a given phenomenon which he caused through unknowable means. And that’s not an explanation but rather a concession that the phenomenon is totally inexplicable.

Now about the laws of science. An atheist world, first of all, I don’t think that Dr. Bahnsen understands what a scientific law is. A scientific law is an observation that’s made over and over and over again. The law of gravitation, we drop objects all over the world in different situations and we always observe that they fall to the earth. So eventually we make a statistical statement that objects are likely, almost 100% likely to fall to the earth if they’re not accelerating in the opposite direction. Okay, in other words a rocket does not fall to earth immediately but eventually will if it doesn’t escape the gravity of the earth. So these scientific laws are merrily consensus’s based on thousands and hundreds of thousand of observations. The laws of logic are also consensus’s based on observations. The fact that they can predict something correctly shows us that we’re on the right track, that we’re corresponding to reality in some way. If I can plug in a formula and show exactly where a cannon ball is going to land and predict exactly where it will strike then my mathematics is reflecting something valid about the behavior of cannon balls that are fired on this earth. Otherwise I wouldn’t have picked the exact spot. Mathematics is basically logic, again, used in the same way by consensus of tested things that are self-verifying. I’m not explaining it as well as I could but that’s basically what I’m saying.

An atheist universe then goes on the basis of the fact that matter has certain intrinsic behavior patterns. Electrons repel each other because they’re both negatively charged. Protons repel each other. And electron and a proton attract each other. The opposites poles of a magnet do that. It’s an inherit property of matter. That is what produces the regularity in the universe. If there was no regularity that there would be no science possible because you couldn’t predict anything, matter wouldn’t behave the same the second time as it did the first time, or the third or the fourth. So that the lack of having a god is in no way detrimental to logic and to having laws in an atheist universe. In fact, if we had a god we could very easily have an irrational god who did things capriciously so that if I threw a ball one time I thew it it would go up and the next time down and you know crashed straight down or soar right up. That would be just as much evidence for god as a regularly behaving ball or object dropped. We could have a god who makes the rules and changes things from time to time. Or you could have one that makes things the same or we could have a universe that just behaves that way normally.

Now, to ask what caused the universe although we didn’t get into this exact thing, I’m trying to show you that it’s to ask an absurd question in the first place to give god as the answer, first of all, I mentioned it doesn’t explain anything. But secondly, before something can act as a cause it must first exist. That is, it must be a part of the universe. And the universe sets the foundation for a causal explanation but it can’t not itself require a causal explanation. I don’t know if that’s clear. If I say, every human being had a mother, that’s a valid question. But if I ask, who is the mother of the human race, that is a non-valid question because the human race didn’t have a mother. I can ask what was the cause of this planet exploding but to ask what was the cause of the universe is to ask an invalid question. And to offer the answer as god is to offer an invalid answer to an invalid question.

We haven’t gotten into morality. I think I’m going to leave that for the second half. If Dr. Bahnsen doesn’t raise it I will.

He makes an awful lot of statements that are basically feelings; he felt god entered his life, he felt that this happened, he felt that Jesus was resurrected. If he were held to the historians’ standard especially the standard required when a miracle is done, as David Hume said, when a miraculous or very unlikely event such as the resurrection–although Hume didn’t use that exact analogy, that exact example–occurs we must demand an extraordinary amount of proof. If I say the sun is going to rise tomorrow we don’t need too much proof because the sun it’s been rising every day. If I say the sun is not going to rise tomorrow then we need an extraordinary amount of evidence before someone will take that seriously because that’s an unusual event. Okay. Now he has not held up the historians’ standard to a lot of the things he’s accepting from the Bible as evidence for god. And I think that if he did so he would soon see that those evidences dried up.

Now to get to transcendental evidence, finally. The statement that if god did not exist you couldn’t prove anything, and that logic and scientific laws would be invalid is absolute nonsense and I think I’ve demonstrated part of that. He says that laws of logic are the same everywhere. This is not true although they are mostly the same. And I wonder if he’s ever heard of a zen koan. And the answer to a zen koan is something which like you know, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is the most famous zen koan. The answer to that kind of question is in a different type of logic in a sense, or it’s extra logical, if you want to call it that. But I do think that most logical is accepted in the western world and most of the eastern world on the basis of agreement on people that reflect something about the universe.

The idea that transcendental evidence exists for god is that the impossibility of the opposite, that the worldview would not be rational if it were atheistic is total nonsense and I’ve demonstrated to you that it depends on the inherit properties of mater. If mater has the properties where it behaves regularly then we have order in the universe, we have a logical rational universe without a god. The god issue is not germane if mater behaves in a regular way. And I would hold that the properties of mater as demonstrated over and over again are regular. I mean it’s an inherit property of mater. So I think that the transcendental evidence statement can be dismissed as mere wishful thinking coupled with misinformation about what scientific laws are and what atheists would hold. In fact, most scientists, in fact science itself is atheistic. Science is not aloud to use a supernatural explanation for anything. There’s a very good reason for that. if your experiment came out one way you could say god did it. If it came out the opposite way you could say god did that. You would never make any progress in explaining anything in science an so the agreed upon consensus or rules in science is that naturalistic explanations only are asked for and allowed.

Dr. Stein’s Second Opening Statement

He will if he can find his notes.

Now it would be logically wrong to say that if all of the proofs fail for the existence of god that one is justified in saying that there isn’t a god. That is a logical fallacy argumentum ad ignorantiam or something like that to say that you accept something just because all of the evidence to the contrary fails.

However, we have two other factors here we must consider. One of them is the fact that nine-hundred years have passed since Anselm first postulated the ontological proof and Thomas Aquinas in 1200 or so, so we have a long period time in which all of these proofs are being professed, fail. That’s some evidence about probability of there being a proof that someone will come up with that will succeed being pretty unlikely.

The Problem of Evil

In addition, we have a number of things which I wouldn’t call proofs but I would call evidence which make the existence of god even more improbable. And one of them is the problem of evil. If an all good god exists why is there evil in the world? We are told with god that all things are possible. If it was possible, it all things are possible it would be possible for him to create a world in which the vast mass of suffering that is moral and pointless such as the pain and misery of animals, the cancer and blindness of little children, the humiliations of senility and insanity were avoided. These are apparently inflictions of the creator himself. Or else you have a god that isn’t omnipotent. If you admit that than you deny his goodness. If you say that he would have done otherwise you deny with him things that are possible, all things that are possible. So the atheist can present several arguments which sort of increase the probability that there isn’t a god. They’re not proofs as I said.

One of them would be the problem of evil. The idea is that the presence of evil is incompatible with an all good, all knowing, and all powerful god as Dr. Bahnsen suggested he believes in. Now he could come up with the statement that injustice in this world may well be corrected in the next world but that would be something that he would be making without any evidence whatsoever. Just, again, wishful thinking. He could also say that, get out of this bind by saying that God is not all powerful that some things, some evil things are done without his permission, so to speak. In which case his statement that he believes in an omnipotent god is falsified. He could also say that, the old argument about free will which is basically a morass into which he may fall if he wishes, will not do. To say that god gave man free will and therefore he can chose between the evil and good is to imply that god was unable to make a man who could examine both sides and always chose good. That, in other words, he is limited and the only way he can do it is to let man completely chose for himself as if that would take something away from man is he could examine both sides and still have the guidance within himself to always chose the good.

No Obvious Physical Evidence of God and the Problem of Evil Continued

Now there’s no obvious physical evidence of a god. If god wanted man to believe in him, man or women, people, he could, all he would have to do is put in an appearance before a group of people, especially a group of atheists. In fact, we invite him to our meetings to put in an appearance. In that way anyone would believe in him except a fool. Well the Christian says that this may sound logical to you but it doesn’t to god. God evidently wants man to believe on faith, without adequate evidence. Well if he did… if he does why does he give man the power of reason? And why did he give man more reason than any other animal has?

If all living things on he earth were created by god, who is a loving god, who made man in his own image, how do you explain the fact that he must have created the tapeworm, the malaria parasite, tetanus germs, polio, ticks, mosquitos, cockroaches, and fleas. Now surely the dog is not suffering from original sin and needs to be infected with fleas so that he can get to doggy heaven which would be better than his present life.

The standard answer of theists to this kind of question is that things have to be better after death. We have these things on earth, it’s a veil of tears, so to speak. It doesn’t make much sense. I mean, any god that would punish a man for what his ancestors did is not a very moral god. I’m talking about original sin now, Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. There are many instance on the earth in which no distinctions seems to be made between the innocent and the guilty; between the Christian and nonbeliever. For example, in natural disasters like an earthquake or a fire. It kills Christians, it kills babies, it kills animals, it kills non-christians, you surely can’t say that these people being punished in some way for something that they did. It also demolishes churches and hospitals without distinction. Isn’t this evidence that at the very least that whatever force there is controlling these things doesn’t care if people are Christians or not? Or whether they’re innocent or not?

The Problem of Religious Pluralism

If there’s only one god and he cares at all how he’s worshiped why are there so many different conceptions of god and so many different religions, all claiming to be the one true religion. Does this mean that they’re all mistaken? Does it mean that one is correct and all the others are mistaken?

There’s an old joke about an atheist in which he said to a believer, you know, you believe that ninety-nine of the hundred gods are false. I just go one step further and say that the hundredth one is also false. So I’m sure that Dr. Bahnsen, in fact he even agreed that he would help me refute any other gods but the Christian god.

The Problem of Christian Failure

If Christianity is the one true religion why are so many people who sincerely believe in it found in prisons, slums, and in organized crime? I’m not saying that all people there are Christians. I’m not saying that all people in organized crime are Christians either. But it evidently, if Christianity lead to an elevation of moral standards—which we haven’t gotten into yet, about morality, but I’m gonna jump the gun here a little bit—Christians would be expected to be highly moral, not less moral. In fact studies of the religious beliefs of prisoners have shown that almost all were devote Christians. The number of atheists is less than 1%. And these statistics were, in fact, so disturbing to the people who conducted them that they stopped collecting them recently. Can’t argue with the facts though.

Any system which seems to fail in its application as frequently as Christianity does is not a very good or practical system for mankind to follow. I don’t want to get into a real discussion of Christianity except that Dr. Bahnsen insists that the Christian god and Jesus and the other evidences that come from the Christian god in concomitance with them are true and the others are not.

Where Does This Leave Us?

What are we left with after this exercise? Well we can see that we can’t prove the existence of god by any rational or logical process. And Dr. Bahnsen has not offered us any. We have a factual issue here. Again, as I said, because the proofs fail it doesn’t mean that the existence is disproved. But I think it certainly is unproved.

We can, as I will say in my closing statement, this does not leave us in a bleak and horrible world. There are many, many things that the atheist does with his life which make this world a nice place and enables him to get to the solving of the problems of this world instead of hoping for pie-in-the-sky which does not seem to be very probable.

Dr. Bahnsen’s Second Opening Statement

You’ve heard Dr. Stein refer to the transcendental argument and try to dismiss it simply as wishful thinking. If our debate is going to degenerate to that level than I dismiss everything that he has said as well as wishful thinking and delusion and why don’t we all go home. No, we’re here to argue. We’re here to argue a point and I’m going to see, say just what the argument has been supposed and see if Dr. Stein has any better answer than to just engage in name calling.

The Atheist vs The Christian Theistic Worldview

Dr. Stein proposes an atheist worldview I propose a Christian theistic worldview. There are other proposals out there that may want there evening to debate as well. I’m maintaining that the proof of the Christian worldview is that the denial of it leads to irrationality. That is, without the Christian God you cannot prove anything.

As one illustration of that, although I want to get into more than that in this second speech, I have referred to the laws of logic. An atheist universe cannot account for the laws of logic. Dr. Stein interestingly in responding to that spoke more about scientific law than he did about the laws of logic and I’m going to come back to that in my rebuttal to ask about his understanding of scientific law, however we still hear him saying that laws of logic are a matter of consensus and our just this way. That is to say I don’t have to prove that the laws of logic exist or that they are justified it’s just this way. Now friends how would you like it if I conducted the debate in that fashion this evening? God exists because it’s just that way. You just can’t avoid it. you see that’s not debate, that’s not argument, and it’s not rational, and therefore we have interestingly an illustration in our very debate tonight that atheists cannot sustain a rational approach to this question.

What are the laws of logic Dr. Stein? And how are the justified? We still have to answer that question from a materialist standpoint. From a Christian standpoint we have an answer, obviously, they reflect the thinking of God. They are, if you will, a reflection of the way God thinks and expects us to think.

Justifying Logical Truths: A Prori

But if you don’t take that approach and want to justify the laws of logic in some a priori fashion, that is apart from experience—sometimes that suggests that these things are self verifying—then we can ask why the laws of logic are universal, unchanging, and invariant truths. Why they, in fact, apply repeatedly in the realm of contingent experience. Dr. Stein told you well we use the laws of logic because we can make accurate predictions using them. Well as a matter of fact that doesn’t come anywhere close to discussing the vast majority of the laws of logic. That isn’t the way they are proven. It’s very difficult to conduct experiments on the laws of logic of that sort. They are more conceptual in nature rather than empirical or predicting certain outcomes in empirical experience. But even if you want to try to justify all of it in that way we have to ask why is it that they apply repeatedly in a contingent realm of experience? Why in a world that is random, not subject to personal order as I believe Christian God. Why is it that the laws of logic continue to have that success generating feature about them? Why should they be assumed to have anything to do with the realm of history? Why should reasoning about history or science or empirical experience have these laws of thought imposed upon it? Once again we have to come back to this really unacceptable idea that they’re conventional. If they are conventional than of course there ought to be just numerous approaches to scholarship everywhere, different approaches to history, to science, and so forth, because people just adopt different laws of logic. That just isn’t the way scholarship proceeds and if anybody thinks that is adequate they just need to go to the library and read a bit more. The laws of logic are not treated as conventions. To say that they are merely conventions is simply to say I haven’t got an answer.

Justifying Logical Truths: A Posteriori

Now if you want to justify logical truths along a posteriori lines, that is, rather than arguing that they’re self-evident, rather arguing that there’s evidence for them that we can find in experience or by observation—that approach was used by the way by John Stuart Mill—people will say we gain confidence in the laws of logic through repeated experience and that experience is generalized. In some weaker moments I think Dr. Stein was trying to say that. Of course some of the suggested logical truths, it turns out, are so complex, they’re so unusual, that it’s difficult to believe anyone has perceived their instances in experience. But even if we restrict our attention the other, more simple, laws of logic it should be seen that if their truths cannot be decided independently of experience then they actually become contingent. That is, if people cannot justify laws of logic independent of experience than you can only say they apply as far as I know in the past experience that I’ve had. They are contingent, they lose their necessity, universality, and invariance.

Why should a law of logic which is verified in one domain of experience, by the way, be taken as true for unexperienced domains as well? Why should we universalize or generalize about the laws of logic? Especially in a materialistic universe not subject to the control of a personal God.

Justifying Logical Truths: Linguistic Conventions

Now if it turns out that the a priori and a posteriori lines of justification for logical truths are unconvincing, as I’m suggesting briefly they both are, perhaps we could say they are linguistic conventions about certain symbols. Certain philosophers have suggested that. The laws of logic would not be taken as inexorably dictated but rather we impose them, we impose their necessity, on our language. They become, therefore, somewhat like rules of grammar. And as John Dewey pointed out so, you know so persuasively earlier in the century laws of grammar, you see, are just culturally relative. If the laws of logic are like grammar then the laws of logic are culturally relative, too. Why then are not contradictory systems deemed equally rationally? If the laws of logic can be made culturally relative than we can win the debate by stipulating a law of logic that says anybody who argues in this way has gotten tautology on his hands and therefore it’s true. Why are arbitrary conventions like the logic truths so useful if they’re only conventional? Why are they so useful in dealing with problems in the world of experience?

The Atheist Struggle with Logic

You see we must ask whether the atheist has a rational basis for his claims. Atheists love to talk about laws of science, laws of logic, they speak as though there are certain moral absolutes from which Christians were just a few minutes ago being indicted because they didn’t live up to them. But who is the atheist who would tell us about laws? In a materialist universe there are no laws much less laws of morality that anybody has to live up to. When we consider that the lectures and essays that are written by logicians and others are not likely filled with uninterrupted series of tautologies we can examine those propositions which logicians are most concerned to convey.

For instances, logicians will say things like a proposition has the opposite truth value from it’s negation. Now when we look at those kinds of propositions we have to ask the general question, what type of evidence do people have for that kind of teaching? Is it the same sort of evidence that’s utilized by the biologist, by the mathematician, the lawyer, the mechanic, by your beautician? What is it that justifies a law of logic? Or even belief that there is such a thing?

What is a law of logic after all? There’s no agreement on that question. If we had universal agreement perhaps it would be silly to ask the question. It’s been suggested to you that it’s absurd to ask these sorts of things. Although the analogy that was used by Dr. Stein about the absurdity of asking about the cause of the world is not at all relevant because that isn’t what my argument is—by the way it’s not absurd to as that question, it may be unnecessary to ask it if you’re an atheist but it certainly not absurd to ask it—but it isn’t absurd to as the question that I’m asking about logic.

You see logicians are having a great deal of difficulty deciding on the nature of their claims. Anybody who reads in the philosophy of logic must be impressed with that today.

Some say that the laws of logic are inferences comprised of judgements made up of concepts.

Others say that they are arguments comprised of propositions made up of terms.

Others say they are proofs comprised of sentences made up of names.

Others would simply say they are electrochemical process in the brain.

In the end what you think the laws of logic are will determine the nature of evidence that you will suggest for them. Now in an atheistic universe what are the laws of logic? How can they be universal, abstract, invariant, and how does an atheist justify the use of them? Are they merely conventions imposed on our experience or are they something that reflect absolute truth? Dr. Stein tonight has wanted to use the laws of logic. I want to suggest to you, one more time that Dr. Stein, in so doing, is borrowing my worldview. He’s using the Christian approach to the world so that there can be such laws of logic, scientific inference or what have you but then he wants to deny the very foundation of it.

Dr. Stein Cross-Examines Dr. Bahnsen

Question and Answer #1

Dr. Stein: Is mathematics either atheistic or theists?

Dr. Bahnsen: The foundations of mathematics, yes.

Dr. Stein: Which?

Dr. Bahnsen: Theistic

Dr. Stein: Theistic?

Dr. Bahnsen: Christian theistic.

Dr. Stein: How do you figure that?

Dr. Bahnsen: From the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can justify the laws of mathematics or of logic. Because no other worldview can account for universal, invariant, abstract entities such as them.

Question and Answer #2

Dr. Stein: Do you think it’s fair, since you’ve pointed out, that logicians themselves are in great disagreement about the nature of the laws of logic, to ask me to explain them in a way that you would find satisfactory?

Dr. Bahnsen: Yes it’s fair.

Dr. Stein: Why?

Dr. Bahnsen: Because this is a rational debate about worldviews. You have a naturalistic worldview I have a supernaturalistic one. I want something even beginning to be an answer or how a naturalist would justify a universal, abstract, entity. I haven’t heard one yet.

Question and Answer #3

Dr. Stein: Okay. Is logic based upon mathematics?

Dr. Bahnsen: No.

Dr. Stein: Never? Not symbolic logic for example?

Dr. Bahnsen: No.

Dr. Stein: I would disagree with you.

Dr. Bahnsen: Well if we want to get into Russell and Whitehead and debate those issues we’d be glad to do that but if you ask a simple question and I can only give you a simple answer.

Dr. Stein: You said… you said that.

Dr. Bahnsen: Assume the opposite. As far as I’m concerned, as a Christian, I’m not committed one way or another to that. If you want to say mathematical laws, and the permutation laws of math are the same as those used in logic, that’s fine. How do you justify either one of them is my question.

Question and Answer #4

Dr. Stein: Well I would ask you a more fundamental question. That is, you explained that the laws of logic reflect the thinking of god. Number one, how do you know this? And number two, what does it mean?

Dr. Bahnsen: What question, what difficulty are you having understanding what does it mean?

Dr. Stein: I don’t know how you are privy to the thinking of god?

Dr. Bahnsen: He revealed himself through the scriptures of the Old and New Testament.

Dr. Stein: And that explains the logic? That explains logic…

Dr. Bahnsen: That explains why there are universal standards of reasoning, yes.

Dr. Stein: It doesn’t explain them to me. Could you explain them again?

Dr. Bahnsen: Yea. We have Bible studies from time to time where those things can, you know can be dealt with.

Dr. Stein: You mean you spend some time rationalizing the irreconcilable? Or reconciling the irreconcilable?

Dr. Bahnsen: That’s just, I mean…

Dr. Stein: Like the two accounts in Genesis, the two…

Dr. Bahnsen: This is a cross-examination. If you have something other than a rhetorical question I will try to answer it.

Dr. Stein: Well it’s not intended as a rhetorical question. It’s intended as…

Dr. Bahnsen: The previous one was rhetorical only.

Dr. Stein: No it was intended to show that the last statement was disingenuous and…

David Agopian: Please limit your comments to questions.

Dr. Stein: Yes. Okay. Saying that logic reflects the thinking of god is to make a non-statement. How is that an answer to anything that’s relevant in this discussion?

Dr. Bahnsen: It answer the general metaphysical issue of how there can be universal, invariant, abstract entities in a particularists world, in a particular person’s worldview. If you want to know the precise relationships, for instances, if somebody wants to know how did God make a cow, okay. The statement that God made the cow doesn’t, has meaning apart from my being able to explain the mechanics of God making a cow. Likewise, the statement that the laws of logic are intelligible within a Christian theistic universe has meaning because there are things which are, in fact, spiritual, immaterial, and have a universal quality such as God’s thinking and those standards that he imposes on people. And so again, we can at least metaphysically make sense of invariant, abstract entities in one universe whereas we can’t make sense of them at all in the other. Were not asking for the mechanics here or anything precise such as resolving the relationships of logic to math, and that sort of… I’m simply asking a more general question. If you’re an atheist, how is it in this. How in the atheist universe is it possible to have an abstract, universal, law?

Dr. Bahnsen Cross-Examines Dr. Stein

Question and Answer #1

Dr. Bahnsen: Okay, Dr. Stein you made reference to David Hume and his rejection of miracles, have you also read David Hume and his discussion of induction or more popularly the uniformity of nature?

Dr. Stein: A long time ago. I can’t recall the… exactly what he says. I have read David Hume.

Dr. Bahnsen: Okay, were you convinced a long time ago that you had an answer to Hume’s skepticism about induction?

Dr. Stein: I can’t answer that question honestly. I don’t remember what…this was at least fifteen years ago that I read this.

Dr. Bahnsen: Scientific laws were, the validity of scientific laws were undermined by Hume when he contended that we have no rational basis for expecting the future to be like the past. Or, if you will, to be…for there to be types of events so that one event happening can be understood as a type of event so where it’s seen happening somewhere else the same consequence can be expected from similar causation. Hume said we had no rational basis for that…

David Agopian: Excuse me Dr. Bahnsen can we have a question please for Dr. Stein.

Dr. Bahnsen: Yea I’m trying to setup the question.

David Agopian: Okay. Okay.

Dr. Bahnsen: Hume suggested that there was no rational basis for expecting the future to be like the past in which case science is based simply on convention or if you will habits of thought. Do you agree with Hume?

Dr. Stein: Not on this issue I don’t.

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you now have an answer for Hume?

Dr. Stein: I think he was wrong about that one thing. But he was also right about a lot of other things. Nobody’s perfect.

Dr. Bahnsen: What is the basis for the uniformity of nature?

Dr. Stein: I went through this but I’d be glad to reiterate it.

Dr. Bahnsen: Okay.

Dr. Stein: The uniformity of nature comes from the fact that matter has certain properties which it regularly exhibits. It’s part of the nature of matter. Electrons, oppositely charged things attract, the same charges repel. There are certain valances that can fill up the shell of an atom and that’s as far as it can combine.

Dr. Bahnsen: Do all electrons repel each other?

Dr. Stein: If they’re within a certain distance of each other, yes.

Dr. Bahnsen: Have you tested all electrons?

Dr. Stein: All electrons that have ever been tested repel each other. I have not tested all.

Dr. Bahnsen: Have you read all the tests on electrons?

Dr. Stein: Me personally or can I go on the witness of experts?

Dr. Bahnsen: Have you read all of the witnesses about electrons?

Dr. Stein: All it takes is one witness to say “no” and it would be on the front pages of every physics journal and there are none so therefore I would say yes in effect by default.

Dr. Bahnsen: Well, physicists have their presuppositions by which they exclude contrary evidence, too. But in other words you haven’t experienced all electrons but you would generalize that all electrons under certain conditions repeal each other?

Dr. Stein: Just statistically, on the basis of past observation.

Dr. Bahnsen: And we don’t know that it’s going to be that way ten minutes after this debate then?

Dr. Stein: No, but we see no evidence that it’s switched around either?

Question and Answer #2

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you accept the Zen Buddhist logic that allows for koans the different kind of logic that you referred to used by Zen Buddhists?

Dr. Stein: I used the word extra-logical and I think that’s the right word. It is outside of the normal kinds of logic. It is not necessarily a different kind of logic it’s just non-logical, but accepted in the place of logic.

Dr. Bahnsen: Is it also… are extra-logical things absurd?

Dr. Stein: They may seem that way to us. But no, I would say they are not absurd in the grand scheme of things.

Dr. Bahnsen: Can extra-logical things be true? Can claims about extra-logical matters be true?

Dr. Stein: That’s an impossible question to answer because if you’re using logic to answer whether something is true or not than extra-logical things are not subject to the analysis given by logic.

Dr. Bahnsen: Alright, so are claims about extra-logical entities allowed or disallowed in your world view?

Dr. Stein: In my worldview? It depends on what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about things like Zen Buddhists and they confine themselves to these philosophical speculations there then yes. If they’re talking about science, no.

Dr. Bahnsen: It sounds very arbitrary.

Dr. Stein’s Rebuttal

I would first like to make one little factual rebuttal about a statement which was slipped by in the first speech of Dr. Bahnsen that atheists caused the French Revolution. This is a false statement. The leader of the French Revolution, the most important person, was Robespierre who was a Christian. So… I mean there may have been some atheists there but that doesn’t mean that they caused the French Revolution. There are atheists everyone. Okay. Now.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about logic and yet I’d like to know why—and this is not a question which is addressed right now for an answer but just as a put out for a future response—why has Dr. Bahnsen stressed the laws of logic so much when he’s refused to apply them to the existence of god? I’m not so sure that it’s even falsifiable so therefore it isn’t even a statement that’s even testable any way.

He has stressed the laws of logic because he knows that there’s no explanation for the laws of logic that philosophers agree upon. This is a trap, in effect. I may have fallen into it, if so, fine. The point is it’s not really relevant to his position. To say… he doesn’t have an answer to the laws of logic either. To say that they reflect the thinking of a god is to make a non-statement. First of all, he doesn’t know what the thinking of a god is, all he knows is what has been said by men to be what they thought the thinking of a god might have been many many years ago… maybe… if we keep granting all these possible things in his favor.

It’s like a saying, as I said before, that god created the universe. Unless you explain how he created it you have not made a statement that has any intrinsic value to it. He may have made a part of a statement but I want the to hear the other half. What is there in the method that god used that we can learn something from. I mean, why did god do it, if you want to be a little bit more nasty. It’s not valid to ask science why something happened. You can ask how it happened but science doesn’t try to answer the question why. Theologists, theologians I mean, do ask the question why and try an answer it. I have not heard an answer as to why god did anything that he supposedly did nor have I heard how god did it. These are the two most essential, meaningful answers to asking a question. If we don’t supply those you have ducked the whole center of the issue, and just giving you another mumbling which doesn’t go anywhere.

I’ll give you an example, if I said, how did that car that’s parked in the parking lot—that red car right in the front—how did it get here? And you say, General Motors made it. That does not explain how the car got here. Now if you want to go and explain that in Detroit a hundred men worked a certain number of hours to make this car out of steel that they got from Youngstown Ohio from a smelting plant. Then maybe we’re getting somewhere as to how that car got here. I don’t mean how it got on the Irvine campus I mean how did it get here in existence. So, tell me how that kind of an answer you have not said anything. To say that General Motors made it is not answering the question as to how the car got here. Neither is it an answer to say that god made it.

And I would ask Dr. Bahnsen to explain, if he thinks he knows the answer—which none of these philosophers know about the laws of logic—to put his answer in some kind of meaningful language. To say that the laws of logic reflect the thinking of god is a non-meaningful statement. And not just to me, to anyone. I want to know whether god thinks rationally all the time, whether he can be irrational, how do we know when he’s being irrational, is it possible for him to be irrational? I want to know what kind of logic god uses. Does he use the kind of logic that we can demonstrate, that we can test? In the same way that we use the logic that we’re talking about in science? If so, should it be impossible for god to contradict himself in any way? Can he make a stone so big he can’t lift it? Is that a logical impossibility? Is god limited by that kind of a thing? Can god make a square circle? I mean these are little logical games that we play that don’t really ask important questions but they have a reflection on some kind of a problem that he is having with his concept of god. That if god can do anything, if he is omnipotent, and omniscience, and omnibenevolent, can he do those two things I said, or asked. And if he does what kind of logic is he using? The logic of self-contradiction? Until we have some answers to these questions I don’t think we’ve gotten very much meaningful from Dr. Bahnsen in the first place about any issue. He certainly hasn’t applied logic to the proofs for the existence of god that have been offered by philosophers.

Dr. Bahnsen’s Rebuttal

Alright. Dr. Stein has demonstrated it seems to me repeatedly in the course of tonight’s debate the claim that was made very early on in my original statement and that’s that the atheist’s worldview cannot give an account of those things which are necessary for rational discourse or science. When asked about Hume and the skepticism that he generated about induction or the uniformity of nature we don’t hear an answer coming forth.

I don’t think there will be an answer coming forth from the atheist worldview. However, Dr. Stein, who is an atheist, has said—and I think this is close to a quote—if there were no uniformity science would be impossible. Exactly Dr Stein. If there were no uniformity science would be impossible. So on what basis, in an atheist universe, is science possible? Since, in an atheist universe there’s no basis for assuming that there’s going to be uniformity. For someone to say, well it’s been that way in all the cases in the past that we know of, and therefore very probably it’s going to be that way in the future, is to assume—because you’re using probability—that the future is going to be like the past. That is to say it’s to beg the very question that’s being asked.

Now of course if you don’t like the tough philosophical questions that are asked of you about the nature of laws of logic, how they are justified, the nature of natural law, how it is justified, and so forth, and just dismiss it as absurd questions or non-questions than no one understands and does not have meaning seems to me is just to try to give medicine to a dead man. You see it’s to say, I’m not going to reason about that because I haven’t got an answer to it and that’s just uncomfortable. But you see these are philosophical questions which not just Christians by the way but all philosophers have had to ask and face throughout the centuries.

Dr. Stein doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of giving us an answer about how an atheist worldview can account for laws; laws of science, laws of logic, laws of morality. And yet, he does tell us that without them science would be impossible.

As for the transcendental argument not being logical… I mean you can claim that, but I have yet to see Dr. Stein show any self-contradiction or any violation of the laws of logic in it. And of course if he were I would immediately ask him if that law of logic is one of the things that we are necessarily to live according to. We are to reason by this law? Or is that just a convention? Shall I say well that’s your convention but it’s not mine. Or is that law of logic, universal, invariant, and something that must be followed if we’re going to arrive at truth. If it is, then I’m going to ask how it’s possible to have such a thing in his universe. How he can justify it at all. But he hasn’t shown any contradiction he’s simply, again, called it illogical. Whether it’s falsifiable or not, I mean even asking that question, I think, shows that Dr. Stein is not really aware of the philosophical nature of the question in debate before us. No, transcendentals are not falsifiable, that’s right, but they are very meaningful and the very sorts of things that philosophers deal with all the time. If you look at Kant or Aristotle or other philosophers you’ll see they deal with the preconditions of experience. And since they are the preconditions of experience they are not falsifiable, and yet they are meaningful.

He says that I do not have an answer to these questions either. Well I certainly do. It’s just he doesn’t like the answer. The answer is that God created the world. And this world reflects the uniformity that he imposes on it by his governing and our thinking is to reflect the same consistency or logical coherence that is in God’s thinking. How do we learn about those things? He revealed himself to us. Again, these are simple answers. There the sorts of things Sunday school children learn. But you know I have yet to find any reason not to believe them. For Dr. Stein to say, well these aren’t answers, doesn’t convince me at all.

He says they’re not going to be answers unless I include how it took place. What is God’s method and why did he do it? Well I don’t accept those standards. I don’t accept that that’s a requirement for an explanation at all. And he hasn’t given us any good reason except that he’s not going to be satisfied or it’s unhelpful to him.

He says it’s a non-meaningful statement to say that the laws of logic reflect the thinking of God. He wants to know things like can God be irrational. Well, if he’d asked those question during cross-examination I’d have answered them. No, God cannot be irrational. Rationality is measured by the standard of his thinking and his revelation.

The atheists worldview cannot account for the laws of logic, cannot account for any universal or abstract entities for that mater, cannot account of the uniformity of nature, and therefore cannot account for the successes of science. Nor can the atheist universe give us universal and absolute laws of morality, and so on three of the most important issues, philosophically, that men must face, logic, science and morality, the atheist universe is completely at odds with those things.

Well we have one minute left here I want to answer very quickly those few things that Dr. Stein brought up in his second presentation so that I may rebut them. He wants to know about the problem of evil. My answer to the problem of evil is this, there is no problem of evil in an atheist universe because there is no evil in an atheist universe. Since there’s no God, no absolute moral standards, and nothing is wrong. The torture of little children is not wrong in an atheist universe. It may be painful but it is not wrong. It is morally wrong in a theistic universe and therefore there is a problem of evil, of perhaps a psychological or emotional sort. But philosophically the answer to the problem of evil is you don’t have an absolute standard of good by which to measure evil in an atheist universe. You only have that in a theistic universe. And therefore the very posing of the problem presupposes my worldview rather than his own. God has a good reason for the evil that he plans or allows.

Dr. Stein’s Closing Statement

Dr. Bahnsen in his last response and indeed throughout his entire talk has made a number of claims about what’s possible in an atheist universe and what is not possible in an atheist universe. All I can say is that he has a very strange conception of an atheist universe and perhaps of the universe in general.

First of all, evil in an atheist universe, yes indeed there can be evil in an atheist universe. Evil is by definition in an atheist universe that which decreases the happiness of people. The most unhappiness of people. In other words if we have two things that… if you want to make a comparative evil statement which is more evil than than another the thing is more evil which causes more people to be unhappy. Now how do we know this? We don’t know it it’s a consensus just like morality in general in a consensus. It’s a consensus reinforced by the teachings of society, parents to children, teachers to students, the media, literature, the Bible, all of these things reinforce morality through teaching and the socialization process. And also we pass laws to punish people who violate some of the more blatant cases that we have said are “no nos.”

So the idea that there’s no evil in an atheist universe is utter hogwash. There are… evil is at least a rational determinant thing. We don’t say well did god make this evil and then we have to go flipping through the Bible to see if it has covered at all. You know there’s a hundred volumes of commentary, at least a hundred volumes, more, called the Talmud, which is the Jew’s interpretation of the all the places that the Old Testament didn’t give them guidance on for ethical and moral issues. So, I mean, these things are not clearly spelled out in the Bible. We have no guidance on a lot of things as to what’s evil. Is organ transplant evil? I mean, you don’t find that in your Bible. You’ve gotta go and look at the issues and you do an analysis just the way any rational philosopher would do it, or an, what do you call it, an ethicist. Couldn’t think of the word. So, I mean we have standards by which we determine evil and good in an atheistic world.

The atheistic worldview, I think I’ve demonstrated, that the regularity of matter—which is an inherit property of matter—explains the way we are able to make laws that are generalizations in the field of science. To say that, first of all most, many many scientists are atheists, it’s been shown by studies over and over again. So to claim as professor, Dr. Bahnsen claims to claim that science doesn’t give us an atheistic worldview that is in conformity with, I mean, that science is not in conformity with an atheistic worldview is utter nonsense.

Science is in itself atheistic. It doesn’t used god to explain things and it understands that matter behave in a regular and therefore predictable way and that is the way in which scientific research is done.

The same with logic. Logic is a consensus. It has a mathematical and linguistic basis. It has some conformity to the reality of the world. I don’t know how many times we have to repeat that for it to get through to Dr. Bahnsen but it doesn’t seem to be.

And he seems to specialize in what we call the “thinking makes it so” school of logic, if you want to call it that. Because he says something is so, because he knows what god’s thinking was therefore it is so. The omniscient Dr. Bahnsen has answered. Well that doesn’t answer anything if we’re going to apply the tests of reason to what he says. His statements are not only irrational they are unreasonable.

The idea that the future is going to be like the past it’s a statistical probability statement. We have never seen a future, today’s fu… today is the future from yesterday, and yesterday, what is happening today was the future. We have not seen anything in that time period that we have observed, which is several hundred years, to show that the regularity of matter and its behavior is going to change. If it changes scientific experiments will go haywire and we’ll know it right off the bat. And then we’ll have to revise a lot of things. I think the chances of that happening are pretty small.

Now. Let me just finish by saying that atheism is not a belief in negative concepts. It frees man, it sweeps away the theological debris that has prevented man from taking action to correct the problems of this world. We want to feed the hungry. We want to educate the illiterate. We want to cloth the naked. We want to raise the standard of living. We want to spread reason and thinking and progress and science. These are all things which are in and of themselves atheistic. We don’t do them because god tells us to do them. We do them because they are right. They need to be done in this world. And if we do them because they are right and they make people happy we will be made happy ourselves by making other people happy. It’s a very positive world outlook. It’s something which I don’t think Dr. Bahnsen even mentioned but it’s certainly the other side of the coin. I mean what happens when you wipe away the god concept? Are you left with nothing? No, you’re left with responsibility you have to take on yourself. You are responsible for your actions and also you get the credit for the things that you do. I would rather have a realistic worldview that gives up a few things that would be nice to have but just don’t happen to be true. And I’d rather operate on a worldview like that than I would on, making wish fulfillment of things that just are not so.

Dr. Bahnsen’s Closing Statement

I want to begin my closing statement by thanking the debate team for inviting both Dr. Stein and myself here for this interesting evening of interchange. And thank you all for giving up an evening to discuss what I consider a very important question. And I thank Dr. Stein for coming and for his graciousness towards me.

As far as my rebuttal, or excuse me, my closing statement, I need to deal, I think first of all, and perhaps in the entire time analyzing this remark that my statements have been tonight irrational. Well, perhaps they have. But you see saying so doesn’t make it so. That’s something we just heard as well. And so if my statements have been irrational than we’re going to need some standards of reasoning by which these statements have been show to be irrational.

Dr. Stein has yet to explain to us in even the broadest, simplest, Sunday school, child manner that I told you about the laws of logic, laws of science, and laws of morality. He hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface to tell us how, in his worldview, there can be laws of any sort. And if there can’t be laws or standards in his worldview than he can’t worry about my irrationality. My alleged irrationality.

The transcendental argument for the existence of God has not been answered by Dr. Stein. It’s been debated. It’s been made fun of. But it hasn’t been answered. And that’s what we’re here for, rational interchange. The transcendental argument says the proof of the Christian God is that without him you can’t prove anything. Notice, the argument does not say that atheists don’t prove things. The argument doesn’t say that atheists don’t use logic, science, or laws of morality. In fact, they do. The argument is that their worldview cannot account for what they are doing. Their worldview is not consistent with what they are doing.

In their worldview there are no laws, there are no abstract entities, there are no universal things, there are no prescriptions. There’s just the material universe naturalistically explained and the way things happen to be. That’s not law like or universal and therefore their worldview doesn’t account for logic, science or morality. But atheists of course use logic, science, and morality. And in so doing atheists give continual evidence of that fact in their heart of hearts they aren’t atheists. in their heart of hearts they know the God I’m talking about. This God made them, this God reveals himself continually to them through the natural order, through their conscience and through the very…their very use of reason. They know this God and they surprise the truth about him.

One of the way we see that they suppress the truth about him is because they do continue to use laws of logic, science, and morality though their worldview cannot account for them. Dr. Stein has said the laws of logic are merely conventional. If so, then on convention he wins tonight’s debate, on convention I win tonight’s debate. And if you’re satisfied with that you didn’t need to come in the first place. You expected the laws of logic to be applied as universal standards of rationality. Rationality’s not possible in a universe that just sensing them to convention.

Dr. Stein has said the laws of science are law like because of the inherit character of matter. But Dr. Stein doesn’t know the inherit character of matter. Now if he were God he might reveal that to us as I think God has revealed certain things to us about the operation of the universe. But he’s not God he doesn’t even believe there is a God. Since he hasn’t experienced all the instances of matter and all the electron reactions and all the other things scientists look at since he hasn’t experienced all of those he doesn’t know that those things are universal. He doesn’t know that the future is going to be like the past. When he says well it alleyways has been in the past and boy if it changes tomorrow won’t that make the front pages, that’s not an answer. You see we’re asking what justifies your proceeding on the expectation that the future is like the past? To say well it’s always been that way in the past is just to beg the question. We want to know on what basis your worldview allows for the uniformity of nature and laws of science.

Thirdly, we’ve spoken of laws of morality tonight. He’s said they have laws of morality the utilitarian standard of what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number. Well that doesn’t justify utilitarianism to announce it. He’s announced that it’s his standard but why in an atheist universe should we live by that standard? Marquis de Sade enjoyed torturing women. Now why should he give up torturing women so that he might bring greater happiness to those women that he’s torturing? Now I’ve got an answer for that. It’s not one that Dr. Stein likes and maybe some of you out there don’t like it but at least I can begin philosophically to deal with that. I have an answer; a universal absolute about morality.

Dr. Stein does not. He simply has an announced stipulated standard. And If morality can be stipulated than of course Marquis de Sade can stimulate his own. Even as Dr. Stein has stipulated his own. Why should he fed the poor? He says they want to do that. I’ll grant that. My argument tonight has never been that atheists are the lousiest people in the world. That’s not the point. Some Christians can be pretty lousy too. But why is it that I call atheists or Christians lousy when they act in the ways that we’re thinking of? Because I have absolute standards of morality to judge. Dr. Stein does not.

And therefore, once again, from the transcendental standpoint the atheistic worldview cannot account for this debate tonight because this debate tonight has assumed that we’re going to use the laws of logic as standards of reasoning, or else we’re irrational. That we’re going to use laws of science. We’re going to be intelligent men that way. We’re going to assume induction and causation and all the things scientists do. And it’s assumed moral sense; we’re not going to be dishonest and try to lie or just try to deceive you. I mean If there aren’t laws of morality I could just take out a gun right now and say “Okay Dr. Stein make my day. Is there a God or not?” You see if he argues oh you can’t murder me because there are laws of morality then of course he’s made my day because I win the debate because that shows that the atheist universe is not correct. But if he says, oh no there are no absolute standards it’s all by convention and stipulation and that sort of thing, then I just pull the trigger and it’s all over and I win the debate anyway.

Would you expect me to win the debate in that fashion? Absolutely not. You came here expecting rational interchange. I don’t think you’ve heard much from Dr. Stein. I’ve asked him repeatedly, it’s very simple, I don’t want a lot of details, just begin to scratch the surface, how in a materialistic naturalistic outlook on life man in his place in the world, can you account for laws of logic, laws of science, and laws of morality. The atheist worldview cannot do it and therefore I feel justified in concluding as I did in my opening presentation this evening by saying the proof of the Christian God is the impossibility of the contrary. Without the Christian worldview this debate wouldn’t make sense.

The Bible tells us, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Don’t misunderstand that. When the Bible uses the term fool it’s not engaging in name calling. It’s trying to describe somebody who is dense in the sense that they will not use his reasoning as God has given him. Anybody who is rebellious who is hardhearted. It’s the fool who says in his heart there is no God.

Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians the first chapter that God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. He calls rhetorically, “Where is the wise, where is the disputer (or the debater) of this age? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” In a sense, I think what Paul is telling us, if I can amplify and read between the lines, is that the whole history of philosophy is an argument for the existence of God. The whole history of philosophy is an argument for the existence of God because of the impossibility of the contrary. Someone who wants to say contrary to what the Bible says about God let him stand up and answer these questions. Let him show that in his heart he may say there is no God but he can’t live that way. He can’t reason that way. In Romans the first chapter Paul says God is making himself known continually to all men and persuasively so that men do not have an excuse for their rejection of the existence of the Christian God.

That isn’t to say that all men confess this God. Not all will own up to him as their heavenly father. Not all will submit to him. Some continue to rebel. Some continue to devise their fools errands and rationalizations for why don’t have to believe in him. That’s what the Bible teaches. I didn’t come here and make this up. I didn’t come here tonight to say well if you don’t agree you see you’re just being rebellious, that’s what the Bible says.

What I want you to do tonight is to go home and consider whether there isn’t something to that. Why is it that some people continue to use laws of logic, laws of morality, laws of science, and yet they have a worldview that just clashes with that. And they just won’t do anything to resolve contradictions.

Dr. Stein tonight made reference to my doctoral dissertation on self-deception. He wondered how relevant it might be. Well it’s very relevant. Very relevant. Because what I do in that doctoral dissertation is to show that there are some people who know the truth and yet work very hard to convince themselves that it’s not true. Now of course atheists think that’s what Christians are doing. I recognize that. And we have to argue what the evidence for and against self-deception is.

All I want to leave with you tonight is the fact that self-deception is a real phenomenon. It does happen to people. People who know the truth and yet work very hard to rationalize the evidence, convince themselves, as Paul says, “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, convince themselves that there is no God.

Now you can choose tonight between the Christian worldview, the atheist worldview. We haven’t touched all of the issues that we may want to look into, but in broad strokes we have touched on a very important issue. If you’re going to be a rational man, a moral man, a man of science, can you do so in an atheist universe? I say you can’t.

For the most complete collection of materials by Dr. Bahnsen check out Covenant Media Foundation at

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How a King James Version Only Preacher Picks a Bible Translation?

The life of Martin Luther and heroes of the reformation

A Fundamentalist Born and Raised

I was born and raised a fundamentalist. Or, as some of my friends used to passionately say, a “King-James-Bible-Preaching-Devil-Hating-White-Shirt-Wearing-Biscuit-Eating-Capital-B-BAPTIST.” Please, don’t turn off your computer and run away scared. My story doesn’t end that way.

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I graduated with honors and a four-year diploma from a fundamental baptist Bible college. I almost completed several years of graduate work from the same school. I attended “King James Only” or “TR only” churches for almost all of that time. I preached in some of them on a regular basis.

If you had asked me in those days, I would have help up my nose in pride and explained that I was King James in much the same way as one might say, “I am reformed.” I look back and wonder at the oddity of such a statement. My name is Tim, not James! And while I’m a king in God’s eyes, I’ve never worn a crown. Nevertheless, that’s what we said. What was meant by this sentiment? I was convinced that the KJV was the only preserved Word of God in English, and that every other translation was inferior at best, and perhaps even evil or demonically influenced. The wife is happy. I have here the first changes appeared in the very last pill of the course. You can read more information on the website I thought that most likely such drugs cost a lot of money, everything is much cheaper than I could think. Well, I’m still very far from the older age group, however, Cialis has helped me to return my confidence. At this age, the hormonal background decreases and it will be appropriate to raise the level of testosterone.

Then, something amazing happened—something that rocked my world and made me a different person. It brought me closer to God than I’d ever been before and gave me a stronger faith than I’d ever had;

I learned things.

The KJV Is Not the Only Option for a Bible Translation

I took Dan Wallace’s Credo Course on Textual Criticism. I took Gary Habermas’ Credo Course on the Resurrection. I went through the entire “Theology Program.” I learned things—things I had somehow never known, and things, I suspect, I had been carefully “sheltered” from. I realized how utterly and unforgivably ignorant I was. I’ll mention only a few of the things I learned.

  • The resurrection of Jesus was the true center of my faith.
  • He and he alone deserved the place at the center of my life that, sadly, so many other things had occupied.
  • I could let go of everything but Jesus, and still have all that I needed, because I had Him.
  • God was most honored, not by a blind adherence to dogma that cannot be challenged, but by a breathless pursuit of truth that was willing to go wherever the evidence took me.

After reading Aland, Metzger, and Tov as well as Scrivener, I realized it simply wasn’t possible to claim that the KJV was verbally perfect or that the Greek Textus Receptus and Hebrew Masoretic Texts were perfect unless one was willing to say that the KJV translators were supernaturally inspired by God to correct every Hebrew and Greek manuscript in existence. And even if you grant this, you’d still have to decide which KJV was perfect – the 1611 in its original form or the slightly different edition of 1769 which is what most today use? I didn’t know much, but I knew enough to know I couldn’t and didn’t want to say that. It wasn’t honoring to God, his Word, or to truth.

This left me with something of a dilemma—one which, due to my upbringing, I had never faced before. If the KJV is not perfect and is not the only Word of God in English, how do I choose what translation to use? If the KJV is not the only Word of God in English, there are options, and with all options comes the responsibility of choice.

So how do you choose? To answer questions like this, you must know a little bit about the history of English translations of the Bible, and the different textual and translation theories behind modern versions.

A Brief History of English Bible Versions

The Original Tongues

While some may not be aware of this, the Bible wasn’t originally written in English. When the human authors of the Old Testament (OT) put quill to papyri, they wrote in Hebrew, and a few small portions of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic. When the New Testament (NT) authors penned their works, they wrote in Greek. However, most of us simple folk do not know Greek well enough to pick it up and read it. Even fewer of us chat with our friends on Facebook in Hebrew and Aramaic. This means that if we are to read the Word of God, we must do it through an English translation of the original languages.

John Wycliffe

While one may rightly point to figures like Alfred the Great, the Venerable Bede, and others as early examples of translating the Bible into English, it is in the work of John Wycliffe and his followers that almost all today would find as the first complete Bible in English. The official Bible of Wycliffe’s day was the Latin Vulgate, which was translated by Jerome almost a millennium earlier. But the common man spoke English.

The life of Martin Luther and heroes of the reformation
The Life of Martin Luther and Heroes of the Reformation

Convinced that every man was responsible to obey what God had said, Wycliffe and his “Lollard” followers desired every man to be able to read the Scriptures in their own tongue. The story of their brave persistence and sacrifice in completing this translation, at risk of life and limb, would rival the level of action in your favorite comic book series.

However, their work was to translate from the common Latin into English. While this gave us a Bible in English, it was an extra step removed from the original languages. With the fires of the Reformation burning bright, fueled by the invention of reusable metal type and fanned by the revival of learning which it sparked, a second-hand translation from the Vulgate would not suffice. As the cry of Ad Fontes rang loud, a direct translation of the original languages was the desired response. And one William Tyndale arose to bravely answer this call.

William Tyndale

Tyndale had the advantage of an Oxford and Cambridge education, as well as the benefit of the Greek NT of Erasmus (though he at times still leaned on the Latin Vulgate). With the bravery of a lion, he faced opposition and persecution as he translated first the NT and eventually the OT into English.

William Tyndale
William Tyndale

The Constitutions of Oxford had made translating the Bible into English illegal, and both translations and their translators were being burned. Even so, Tyndale and his helpers pressed on in their goal, even to the point of Tyndale’s own death by burning at the stake. A Bible in English, from the original Hebrew and Greek, was the blood-wrought result. There would be others along the way (Coverdale, Matthew, Geneva, Great, Bishops, etc.), but none would so stand out or endure as his. In fact, in some ways, each of the runner-ups could be considered as mere revisions of Tyndale’s work. Truly, the splash made by Tyndale’s life and work rippled into almost every English translation to come after him.

The King James Version

In 1604 at the Hampton conference, a new translation was called for.

1611 King James Bible Artwork
1611 King James Bible Artwork

Then in 1611 six panels consisting of forty-seven of the best scholars of the day finished what became the most enduring English translation to date. While they sought to create a work “newly translated out of the original tongues,” they noted the diligent comparing and revising of the former translations as essential to their work. In fact, in the prefatory “The Translator to the Reader,” they noted the following:

“Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one […] but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principle good one…”[1]

Their admitted indebtedness to Tyndale is revealed on almost every page. It has been said that more than 70% of the language of the KJV is actually the language of Tyndale repeated. They did produce a new translation; and in the process, created one of the greatest and most enduring literary works ever produced in English. But in another very real sense, they were simply retweeting Tyndale.

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The Arrival of a Modern Text – What Do We Translate?

Erasmus to Lachmann

Much work was done after 1611 in the ever-blossoming field of NT studies. When Erasmus had produced the first critical edition of the Greek NT in 1516—which is essentially the text the KJV translators had used—he had included around 1000 annotations to the text which dealt with differences between the different manuscripts of the NT that were known to him. These differences are known as “textual variants.” With his text, the science of NT textual criticism was born.

Textual criticism is the science of comparing the minor differences in the different manuscripts to discover exactly what the text read when it left the original author’s control.

As with most births, a growth period would soon follow the birth of textual criticism. As more and more Greek NT manuscripts were discovered, new editions of the Greek NT continued to incorporate these finds (mostly in marginal notes) without making any significant changes to the text itself.

With Karl Lachmann in 1831, that all began to change. His printed Greek text was the first to break with Erasmus’ text and allow textual variants to change not only the shape of the marginal notes, but also the shape of the text itself. He believed the most reliable way to reproduce the original form of the NT text was to lean most heavily on the manuscripts which were most ancient rather than relying exclusively on Erasmus’ much later texts. His ideas were continued in critical editions of the Greek NT published by men such as Griesbach, Tischendorf, and Tregelles.

But none of them would have the impact of the two scholars who broke onto the scene in the latter half of the 1800s. If Erasmus started the journey, and if Lachmann and others broadened the small trail, we must give credit to two men who turned that trail into a blazing highway. These two men were B.F. Westcott, and F.J.A. Hort.

Hort and Westcott

After roughly 30 years of intense work on the Greek NT, these two scholars had taken the spark of Lachmann and fanned it into a burning flame. They were working on a new edition of the Greek NT, following text critical principles that have come to underlie almost all modern editions of the NT today.

Hort and Westcott were committee members of the newly commissioned revision to the KJV (known as the Revised Version) that had been called for in 1870. As the revision took place, they shared the results of their own textual critical work with those on the translation committee.

The New Testament in the Original Greek by Westcott and Hort
The New Testament in the Original Greek by Westcott and Hort

Like Lachmann before them, they were convinced that the form of the NT text that most closely resembled the original autographs would be found in the most ancient copies. Several uncial manuscripts had been discovered which were almost a full millennium older than those upon which Erasmus had primarily based his work. Whatever the merits of the translation of the RV, its great gift to the world was that it was essentially based upon these older manuscripts. The era of modern translations was born.

Older Is Better, and Newer Is Older

When we speak of “new manuscript discoveries”, we’re typically talking about the discovery of older manuscripts. The only way in which they’re new is that they were recently discovered. In this sense, newer isn’t better because it’s newer; it’s better precisely because it’s older.

Hort and Westcott did their revising work with basically five uncial manuscripts that predated those which had formed the Textus Receptus by, in some cases around 1,000 years. Today, we have discovered so much more.

  • We’ve discovered 323 uncial manuscripts.
  • Even more significant, we have unearthed 131 papyri manuscripts which mostly date even earlier than the uncial manuscripts.[2] A few date to as early as the second century A.D. Historically speaking, that is astonishingly close to the writing of the original autographs.
  • Rumor has it that a fragment of the Gospel of Mark has even been recently discovered which dates somewhere in the 80s A.D.[3]
  • We also continue to discover manuscripts from the later periods. This increases our confidence in the general stability of the text of the NT.
  • In addition to the Greek NT manuscripts, we also have over 10,000 manuscripts of ancient Latin translations of the NT.
  • We have anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 manuscripts of translations into other ancient languages.
  • As if that weren’t enough to garner confidence, we also have over a million quotations of Scripture from the early church fathers which bear witness to the text of Scripture.

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When the KJV translators produced their work, it was based on essentially a dozen or so Greek NT manuscripts. Today, we have access to 5,839 of them. As the work of textual criticism continues today, we gain (with every new discovery) an ever-increasing confidence in the general reliability of the NT text, and we tweak the minor details to bring us closer and closer to exactly what was originally written by those who penned our NT under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We can rest quite confident that the NT text we have today is, in all essentials, exactly what was written by the original authors.[4]

Modern translations differ from the KJV in that they are based on representations of the original text that are much more fully informed by the evidence. Today, that text is found in the NA28 and the UBS5 Greek texts.

Put simply, we have much more data today than they did then.

Today, there are only two English translations which are based on the older Textus Receptus (Remember, older here actually means later.): the King James Version, (last updated in 1769) and the New King James Version. All other modern versions are based on the newer (which means older) texts.

Translation Philosophies – How Do We Translate It?

When choosing a translation today, not only do you have to make a choice between an older or newer original language text, you must also choose between different philosophies of translation. Where did these theories come from, and how to they work? To answer that, we must first consider two men who have had a major influence on how translations are done today.

Adolf Deissmann and the Discovery of the Papyri

In 1895 Adolf Deissmann changed the landscape of biblical studies significantly when he published his work Bible Studies[5]. In some ways, what made his work so revolutionary were the presuppositions which had come before it. It had been common to think of the language of the NT as a unique language, above that of the mundane life. Some even spoke of “Holy Ghost Greek” in reference to the NT.

Deissmann demonstrated that a comparison of the many ancient papyri scraps from the Roman period with the Greek of the NT revealed that the language of the NT was rather the language of the common man. It was written in the conversational style of the average Joe.

While the effect of Deissmann’s work was initially felt in the revamping of lexicons, it would eventually also be felt in the revamping of translation theory. If the original language of the NT was a conversational style intended to communicate to the common man, then shouldn’t translations into other languages seek to communicate in the same way?

Eugene Nida and the Proposal of Dynamic Equivalence

In the mid 1950s a man named Eugene Nida would take similar ideas and help us think carefully through our understanding of translation and the task it should accomplish. Born right here in OKC, OK, Nida was a Baptist minister who gained his Ph.D. in linguistics and began to propose refinements to translation theory. He published Toward a Science of Translating (Brill, 1964) in the mid 1900s and was a founding member of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

His suggestions were very widely received. While it had been common to think of translation in terms of either strictly literal or simply paraphrase, Nida showed at length that, in fact, these tight categories were overly simplistic. There is never perfect correspondence between any two languages, and perfect translation between them is impossible. He understood well that all translation already involves interpretation and that a goal of being less interpretive in translation is to miss the target by shooting for the moon.

No translation, however literal, can claim not to involve the interpretations of the translators.

He proposed that instead of thinking of two strictly different ways of translating, we should recognize that these traditional options are actually more like two opposing poles on a continuum; and it might be a more accurate representation of the function of an original text if a translation sought a kind of “middle ground” between them.[6] This middle ground he termed “dynamic equivalence.” And so was born the modern approach to translation theory.

It has been suggested that today there are basically three philosophies of translation in use: formal equivalence, functional equivalence, and what is known as free translation.[7]

Formal Equivalence (Emphasis on Individual Words)

Formal equivalence is the philosophy that seeks to keep as close as possible to the form of the original language, retaining (as much as possible) the words of the original and even, where possible, the form of those words. It has as its goal the representation of the words of the original language in equivalent words in the translation, even if this causes awkward and unnatural English.

Functional Equivalence (Emphasis on Sentences)

Functional equivalence recognizes that all translation is already interpretation and that for the modern reader to feel the impact the original readers felt when they read the original, the translators must find the meaning of the text and convey that meaning through the translation. Its goal is to represent the meaning of the original text in modern equivalents. In one sense, one might fairly say that the sentence becomes the translational unit in such a philosophy. The words and their order may be changed slightly into more modern equivalents so that they are smooth English. In another sense, that wouldn’t be true, since the goal is still to translate the words. However, if the language and grammar must be sacrificed to make the meaning clearer in natural English, the degree to which a translation is willing to make this sacrifice is the degree to which the translation has chosen functional over formal equivalence.

Free Translation (Emphasis on Thoughts)

Free translation is what is often referred to as paraphrase. There is no attempt to maintain the words or the form of the original. The goal is to remove as much as possible the distance between the modern reader and the ancient text. The goal then is to translate ideas rather than words or even sentences. In many ways, such paraphrase is not truly translation. By definition, such an approach will contain more of the interpretation of the translator. Most who have produced such free translations would readily acknowledge this and wouldn’t want anyone to use their work as their sole Bible.

That being said, understand that all translations are to greater or lesser degrees a mixture of these approaches. It is impossible to be woodenly literal in translation at all points. It is also impossible to be fully “free” and avoid formal translation at all points. It might be best to think of a spectrum with a woodenly literal interlinear at one end and a free paraphrase at the other. Every translation can be placed on this spectrum. If we were to chart the most readily available translations today, we might see where they would land on such a continuum by suggesting the following chart;[8]

Chart of Translations[9]

Spectrum of Bible Translations

A Brief Examination of Some Major Translations



If someone chooses (for whatever reasons) to go with a translation from the older TR instead of the modern texts, they could turn to Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) for the most literal translation of that text.

Robert Young felt that belief in the verbal inspiration of Scripture demanded the most literal translation of the text as was possible, even if slavishly following the word order and form of the original text produced horrible English.  He thus produced in 1862 the YLT. While not truly an interlinear (because it doesn’t present the Greek and Hebrew texts), it follows the same basic woodenly literal style of translation followed by an interlinear version. For example, note how his rendering of John 3:16 reads:

“For God did so love the world, that His Son—the only begotten— He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.” (Footnote)

Today, William Mounce has worked with Zondervan to produce several interlinear translations which are much more valuable than previous formats and take advantage of modern textual advances;[10]. In these new editions, the original language is presented in its original order. This can easily be seen, but instead of awkward and impossible English, Mounce has used a system of italicized words to still produce good English. In addition, he has included the full text of common English translations in columns on the side. If you are looking for a way to see a glimpse of the structure of the original language but don’t want to learn the languages, such interlinear are a valuable option.

However, there is no substitute for an understanding of the lexical, syntactical, grammatical structures, and nuances of the original languages. All you will truly get from an interlinear is the original word order and perhaps some good lexical definition. One could easily mistake such a brief passing acquaintance for a close relationship with the original text, but that would be to fool oneself. If your acquaintance with the original languages is based on an interlinear, your relationship with them is on the level of “just met.” So please don’t go around telling people that you’re married. A common problem that many people seem to face in our modern day is the ludicrous prices that seem to be attached to many name brand medications by the limb. Though this does not discount its incredible ability to provide relief when using it against the likes of anxiety. However, you can easily dodge these problems when you buy diazepam online in the new best online pharmacy. What allows this medication to be so affordable is the fact that it is actually nothing more than a generic variant of branded Valium. In fact, diazepam is completely identical to its name brand counterpart in more ways than one. By being a generic, diazepam makes utilizes the exact same set of ingredients that has been able to make Valium such a trustworthy form of treatment. See about at

Formal Equivalence Translations


If you want a translation that has the TR as its basis but don’t want the slavishly literal translation of Young’s, you’re left with two basic options: the KJV or NKJV.

The KJV is nothing short of a monument to the English language. Its beauty and elegance are unsurpassed. When it was first printed, it became an instant literary classic. In terms of English style, probably no English version will ever approach it.

If you’ve come from a long tradition of using the KJV, it may be hard for you to even read the Bible in anything other than “King James English.” Many have formed a deep emotional attachment to this translation[11]. I would never try to get anyone to stop using it. In fact, I think every Christian should own and read a copy of the KJV. We just shouldn’t claim it’s perfect or that it’s the only translation God approves of. Using the KJV will leave you with the impression that you’ve been in the presence of royalty, and its rhythmic prose and enduring turns of phrase will leave a lasting impression upon your heart and will likely spring easily to mind for many years to come. It is and always will be a great translation with an impressive pedigree. It will always hold a dear place in the hearts of English speaking peoples.

The NKJV has retained the same original language texts that stood behind the KJV, but the translation has been updated to reflect modern English (and in some cases to produce a more literal translation and more natural translation).

However, some have suggested that the choice to retain the text of the KJV but revise its language was in fact to choose to keep the element of the KJV which was inferior (its text), and remove the element which made the KJV so superior (the beauty and elegance of its language)[12]. It might even be said that it was like snipping the rose off its stem; you lose the enticing aroma and the intrinsic beauty, but you keep the thorny stem.

The only reason to use the NKJV is if you desire for theological reasons to retain the use of the TR as the original language text but desire a good translation of that text into modern and more easily understandable English. But anyone reading either the KJV or the NKJV should know that several of the passages in it were almost certainly not written by the Biblical authors (such as I John 5:7, or Acts 9:5–6).


Produced by the Lockman Foundation in 1971 and significantly revised in 1995, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) sought to be the most formally equivalent translation of modern texts as possible without being a slavishly literal translation like that of an interlinear.  The Lockman foundation makes the claim for their work that,

“At no point did the translators attempt to interpret Scripture through translation. Instead, the NASB translation team adhered to the principles of literal translation. This is the most exacting and demanding method of translation, requiring a word-for-word translation that is both accurate and readable[…] Instead of telling the reader what to think, the updated NASB provides the most precise translation with which to conduct a personal journey through the Word of God.”[13]

As we have seen when we mentioned Nida’s work above, such claims are at best overstated. All translation is interpretation. Nonetheless, if one is seeking for the most literal translation short of an interlinear, the NASB is a good choice.  It was the favorite among Southern Baptists for many years, but that pride of place has now gone to the HCSB.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is a much more recent translation. Produced by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the HCSB intended to serve as an alternative to the NIV for Southern Baptist curriculum and ministry. The translation promoted what they termed “optimal equivalence” as a middle ground between formal and functional equivalence. In some ways it picks up the very literal style of the NASB before it. It seeks to follow in that literal translation vein except when that would sacrifice good English. At that point, it maintains good English and presents the more literal translation as a footnote with the “Lit.” abbreviation.

I think this is a very helpful approach, especially for those seeking a more literal translation. It’s generally more theologically conservative in its translation and suits well the SBC which created it. It generally leans towards more traditional use of gender language.

My understanding is that it was originally intended to be a translation of the “Majority Text” of Hodges and Farstad. This would have made it a very unique translation and would have thrown a “3rd text” of the Greek NT on the English market, but this plan was ultimately abandoned. However, as perhaps something of a vestigial remnant of that purpose, it does still occasionally retain TR readings (in brackets) that have been relegated to the footnotes in most modern versions (e.g. the doxology at the end of Matt. 6:13, or the text of Acts 8:37).


The British Revised Version was the first major revision of the KJV, appearing in 1881. It had incorporated the new textual discoveries in its NT that have been noted above. In America, it was edited slightly, and then published as the American Standard Version (ASV) in 1901. While finding a better reception in America, it didn’t quite gain the wide acceptance that had been hoped for. Really, its great gift to the world was its Greek text.

In 1952, it underwent a major revision, both of text and translation, known as the Revised Standard Version (RSV). In some ways, this was truly the first modern translation which wasn’t simply a revision of the KJV.

The RSV garnered quite a bit of rather controversial attention. It had translated the Hebrew text of Is. 7:14 as “young woman” instead of the more traditional “virgin.”[14] While their translation was quite justified, there was an uproar in some hyper-conservative circles claiming that the RSV was seeking to impinge upon the deity of Jesus through this change.  As if that wasn’t preposterous enough, several of its translators were (with no warrant whatsoever) accused of being “communist” and “communist sympathizers.” Add to this, the rather emotionally based knee-jerk reaction to some of the many updates in the Greek text which it had incorporated, (e.g. not printing the phrase “through his blood” in Col. 1:14, etc.). One can grasp the controversy that unfortunately resulted. One pastor in the Rocky Mountains even burned the new translation.[15] The revision, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), introduced gender inclusive language to a much greater degree than translations had done previously (though not in relation to Deity) as well as updating the Greek and Hebrew texts with modern textual advances, and continues to be used by those who might prefer a more literal translation of the Greek text.


In 2001 the English Standard Version (ESV) entered the scene. It was an entirely new translation from the original languages into contemporary English, but one which consciously stood in the lineage of the KJV-NRSV tradition.

Leland Ryken had a huge influence on the translation work, and due to his input, the ESV has retained a kind of understated elegance that is quite exceptional. The emphasis on literary excellence is one of the more remarkable features of the translation. Understanding that theological language has a way of being “stabilized” from generation to generation, Ryken sought to retain the language that began with William Tyndale as a fountainhead (where such stabilization was accurate). He departed from that language only where accuracy and smooth modern English required it. Thus, there is a “dignity of expression” to the ESV often lacking in modern translations.

Their goal was to produce an “essentially literal” translation into modern English, taking formal equivalence as the starting point and departing from it only where good English demanded such a departure.

While most recent translations (HCSB and a few other excepted) have employed ever-increasing gender inclusive language, the ESV deliberately sought to resist that trend.

The names of the men who worked on the translation reads like a “Who’s Who” list of modern evangelical scholarship, and the results of their work have become one of the favorite translations of many an English Bible reader.

Functional Equivalence Translations

The NET Bible is something of an innovation in modern English translation. The acronym “NET” is a bit of a play on words. First, referring to the name of the work “New English Translation” and second, the unique nature of the work which was primarily planned as an Internet translation. It was released online in 2005 and, while available in print, sought to accommodate the modern age by being an online accessible Bible. It is available online, in its entirety, free for all, for all time.

This is an inherently ministry-focused model which created a format that immediately solved common problems for those who sought to produce ministry materials which quoted large sections of biblical text. Prior to the publication of the NET Bible, they either had to use older public domain works or obtain difficult permissions from publishers of modern versions which often delayed and sometimes prohibited publication of ministry resources intended to be offered for free online and elsewhere. The NET Bible sought to resolves those difficulties by producing a translation downloadable free online in its entirety.

The combined work of over twenty-five prominent biblical scholars, the translation has provided a unique solution to the tensions inherent in translation work. Every translation must balance the competing aims of readability, elegance, and accuracy. The closer a translation moves towards one of these goals, the further they get from the other two. For example, if you glance at the chart of translations above, you see (obviously) that the further one moves to the right, the further he also moves from the left. Deep stuff, I know. This is the inescapable nature of translation work, and every translation inherently faces these tensions.

Typically, a translation must land somewhere imperfectly between these competing goals. The NET Bible sought a unique solution. They provide in the actual text a more functionally equivalent translation which is more readable while still seeking an elegance balanced with readability. But then in the footnotes (at important points) they provide an explanation of the interpretive, textual, and translational difficulties of the passage and give a more literal rendering of the text as well as occasionally dealing with general Bible study issues. This allows them to maintain the goal of accuracy. There are over 60,000 such notes. That’s more than any other translation ever produced; and because of the Internet format, they can continue to be updated and added to. Since these notes are provided by the translators themselves, they provide a unique way to “look over the shoulders” of the translators as they did their work, which is not available in any other English translation.

Overall, the NET Bible is a unique translation, which has met the competing goals of translation in a hitherto impossible way, and has a clear focus on ministry values. It will no doubt continue to be a favorite among many Bible students.[16]

NIV/NIV 2011

In 1894 the complete New International Version (NIV) was published. The release immediately stressed the international character of the work. Employing over 100 translators from America, Canada, Great Briton, Australia, and New Zealand, the translators aimed to produce an entirely new translation that would represent a widely interdenominational and truly international perspective.

Taking the “I” in the name very seriously, they sought to make the translation simple enough that it would be easily usable even by a student for whom English was a second language. Thus, they avoided technical theological words (and any words with too many syllables), and sought to employ a more colloquial style. The translators all professed their “commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s Word in written form”[17] which struck a chord with some conservative readers who had been suspicious of translations since the RSV.

Such a commitment sought accuracy to the original but also a clear, smooth English style. Thus, three separate committees reviewed both the translation and the style of the English. Further, while using the standard NA 26 Greek NT as its base, the committees occasionally disagreed with the textual choices of the NA, and so, actually translated an eclectic text which differed from the standard text at many points.[18]

Needless to say, such an intricate process involving so many scholars was time-consuming, and expensive. It has been estimated that the total editorial cost was around eight million dollars. The NIV almost instantly rose to be the most widely used translation (perhaps excepting the KJV)[19] and continues to top the charts of the best selling translations.

While the NIV has faced a few minor revisions (NIVR, and TNIV), they didn’t take on as widely. In 2011 the NIV received a full makeover that is definitely here to stay in the mainstream. Continuing to update the translation to be current with contemporary English usage, the committee also incorporated a greater degree of gender inclusive language. The NIV 2011 will likely continue to be one of the most widely sold and used English translations.


The New American Bible (NAB) was a production in 1970 of the Roman Catholic Church, but unlike several previous such productions, was much more ecumenical in its approach. One third of its translation committee was Protestants, and the translation shows the influence of the cooperation between both traditions. The revisions in 1986 and 1991 also introduced slightly more gender inclusive language.


In 1976 the Good News Bible (GNB) arrived as the culmination of its Today’s English Version TEV) predecessor. It sought to directly apply the principles of dynamic equivalence stated by Eugene Nida, and was one of the first translations to do so in such an intentional way.

The Revised English Bible (REB) was published as the revision of the NEB in 1989. It moved the translation away from much of its colloquial language and more towards the middle of our chart. The REB also used slightly more gender inclusivity in its language and was much more consistent in its translation of theological language.


J. B Phillips originally published his translation as separate entities, but they were eventually published as the single volume The New Testament in Modern English in 1958. His purpose was to convey the sense of the original in a way that would have the same effect on the modern readers that the original writings had on theirs.  He sought to set aside the traditional language that had been associated with English Bibles since Tyndale and to translate the text as one would translate any document from a foreign language, using the same freedom of style that would normally be employed in such an endeavor. The result garnered great praise from those who could see the meaning of the text being made plain. The eminent scholar F. F. Bruce stated that, in his time, the translation of the epistles was probably the best available for the average reader.

The New Living Translation (NLT), originally a revision of the Living Bible, actually became an entirely new translation in 1996. Based on the original languages, it primarily used a dynamic equivalence method. It thus departed significantly from the LB and became an altogether different translation.

Recognizing that the original documents of Scripture were intended primarily to make an impact when read aloud, the NLT has employed a unique focus on recovering that impact in the public reading of the translation. Like the ESV and other modern translations, the translation team enlisted scholars to translate the books of the Bible who were specialist in exegesis and theology of each particular book. They employed such notable translators as Daniel Block, Tremper Longman III, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, D. A. Carson, Douglas Moo, and Tom Schreiner. Its 2007 revision is truly remarkable as a functionally equivalent translation.


With a wide variety of denominational input from a variety of British traditions, the New English Bible (NEB) sought in 1970 to leave behind traditional language and create a truly new English translation that did not simply recreate the traditional biblical English. It was in many ways simply a more functionally equivalent version of the RSV. With the notable C.H. Dodd overseeing the work and as notable a figure as C.S. Lewis contributing to its English style, the NEB was instantly popular and remains a favorite for many.

Free Translation

Living Bible

Kenneth Taylor didn’t originally intend to produce a new translation. As a father who wanted to render the great stories of the Bible in a way that his young children would understand, he began to take the ASV and more freely paraphrase its meaning into simple language that would help the ideas be easily grasped by even young children.

Eventually, his renderings became wildly popular, and he completed an entire Bible and published it as The Living Bible in 1971. The huge success of his work prompted him to start Tyndale House Publishers, and the free paraphrase nature of his work remained immensely popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was especially popular among young people and many who were less acquainted with traditional biblical language. While still used, one of the major weaknesses of his paraphrase was that it was a paraphrase of an English translation, rather than a paraphrase of the original languages themselves.

While Taylor’s work was immensely popular for its ability to bring the concepts of the Bible into idiomatic English, the fact that it was in fact a paraphrase rather than a translation from the original languages severely limited its value.

The Message

In 2002 Eugene Peterson produced a new free translation which was of much greater scholarly aptitude. Much like Taylor before him, Peterson didn’t originally intend to produce a new translation. He simply began to write out a more idiomatic translation of the books he was preaching in the church he pastored.

He had the academic background (from Regent College) to work directly from the original languages, and he submitted his work to the review of a group of other scholars. The result was a free translation much more accurate to the original languages. Rather than translating the words or even the exact ideas of the original languages, The Message sought to reproduce the effect of the original. It used idioms that were current, fresh, and part of the normal speech of everyday life. The language is thus much like that in which you would chat with friends and doesn’t have an “airy” feel at all. As we saw above, Deissmann had shown already that this common language was in fact the conversational speech in which the NT was originally written.

While a work like The Message has immense value in helping the reader “feel” the force of the original in fresh language that most translations would prohibit, the reader also must keep in mind that a more free translation has inherently exercised a greater degree of interpretation before he even reads it.

Some Concluding Principles

Choose the Translation You Will Read

At the end of the day, almost any translation of the Bible can be a good one. They each have their strengths; they each have their weaknesses. When it comes to the common question, “Which translation is the best one?” the answer, in some ways, is simply, “Whichever one you will read.” If a Bible never leaves your shelf, its merits and pitfalls don’t really make much difference. I would recommend something near the center of the chart for a regular reading Bible. But really, whatever Bible you will use regularly is the one that is best for you.[20]

Study from Multiple Translations

Recognize that all translation is interpretation. While almost all translations are good and accurate, when reading the Bible in English, you are already removed somewhat from the Bible as it was originally written. What you are reading inherently contains the interpretive choices of the translators. This is not a bad thing, but it needs to be recognized.

While I recommend having one “primary reading Bible,” I would suggest that one of the best habits you can form is to never study from only one translation. When you are really digging into Galatians for that Bible study, read the passage from a few different translations. Take note of where they differ. The differences you see between them will give you a good indication of where there may be a textual difficulty in the originals or where there may be several possible ways to render the original language into English. You’ll get the best understanding of the passage if you compare translations from opposite ends of the spectrum. Compare a more functionally equivalent translation with something on the more formal end of the spectrum. Most of these translations are now available free in online formats (e.g. the YouVersion Bible app).

Use a Good Study Bible

Finally, I would recommend that you make use of a good study Bible. The additional information you will glean from the study notes will enrich your study in ways that you can’t imagine. The NIV study Bible is excellent. The ESV study Bible is one of the most helpful such tools I’ve ever seen. The NET Bible notes are unsurpassed in text-critical questions. If you desire a “TR” translation, the “King James Study Bible” from Thomas Nelson would be right up your alley. Whatever you choose to use, a good study Bible can give you a wealth of background information that you won’t get by reading only the Bible.


So, what did I end up choosing? How did a former KJV only preacher choose a translation? After looking though quite a few, I have opted to use the ESV Study Bible as my primary reading Bible. I also regularly compare the KJV, the NET, and the NIV 2011, and I occasionally consult the NLT and the Message.

But my choices shouldn’t necessarily be yours. You should make your own decision, and whatever you choose to use, read it.

I am reminded of when I read through the story of Augustine’s conversion in The Confessions. It was one of the more powerful moments I’ve experienced in my own Christian walk.  As he wrestled with his own depravity, having for so long been afflicted by his own wretchedness, he found himself sitting alone in a garden with his bitter tears pouring out under a fig tree. As he wept, he heard the voice of a child nearby (perhaps playing games as children do), repeating the phrase, “take up and read; take up and read.” Interpreting the words as a “command from heaven to open the book,” he picked up a copy of the book of Romans, began to read, and found in the Scriptures the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. And none of us has ever been the same since. As he heard so long ago, I encourage you with advice that will change the life of all who will heed it;

Tolle Lege, (Take up and read)

Tolle Lege (Take up and read)[21]

  1. “The Translators to the Reader.” Preface to Holy Bible: 1611 King James Version. 400th Anniversary ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.  ↩
  2. For more on how these early papyri have influenced modern translations see: Comfort, Philip Wesley. Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996.  ↩
  3. First Century Fragment of Mark. Performed by Dr. Craig Evans. Abbotsford British Columbia Canada: Apologetics Canada, 2014. Accessed May 22, 2015.  ↩
  4. For more on the reliability of the NT text, see “Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?” from Textual Criticism. Directed by Christopher M. Patton. Performed by Dr. Daniel Wallace. Edmond Oklahoma United States: Credo Courses, LLC, 2014. DVD.  ↩
  5. Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996. 25.  ↩
  6. Nida, Eugene A. Toward a Science of Translating: With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964. 156–92.  ↩
  7. For a modern defense of dynamic equivalence, see Fee, Gordon D., and Mark L. Strauss. How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007. For a defense of formal equivalence, see Ryken, Leland. The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002. Dynamic equivalence is probably the more commonly held position among scholars today.  ↩
  8. Chart adapted and modified from Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 45. The first line gives what might be considered the earlier form of a translation. The second gives the most modern representative of that tradition (even if not always exactly a direct revision of it predecessor)  since a revision sometimes moves one direction or the other on the scale from the original form.  ↩
  9. The shading represents the fact that only Young’s, KJV, and the NKJV have used the older TR instead of the modern representations of the NT text. The shading could also include the edition of the Mounce’s interlinear which includes the KJV and which does rest upon the TR. But since it also includes the NIV and a modern text on the other side, I choose not to shade it. It could also include the MEV (a recent translation of the TR which I have not noted here).  ↩
  10. 1) Mounce, William D., and Robert H. Mounce. The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament (NASB/NIV). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. 2) Mounce, William D., and Robert H. Mounce. The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament (KJV/NIV). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. 3) Mounce, William D., and Robert H. Mounce. The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament (KJV/NIV). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.  ↩
  11. I mentioned that I came from a movement that taught that the KJV was the only true Word of God in English. For a typical presentation of such views, see Fuller, David Otis, and Benjamin George Wilkinson. Which Bible? Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Rapids International Publications, 2000.. For a clear-headed refutation of such views, see White, James R. The King James Only Controversy. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009., and Carson, D. A. The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.  ↩
  12. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee and Douglass Stuart, (4th ed.) Zondervan, 2014. pg. 43.  ↩
  13. The Lockman Foundation. “The Lockman Foundation – NASB, Amplified Bible, LBLA, and NBLH Bibles.” The Lockman Foundation. Accessed May 25, 2015. Used with permission from The Lockman Foundation.  ↩
  14. See the NET Bible notes of Is. 7:14 for an explanation of the differences. Interestingly, quibbles over the correct way of translating the text into Greek had erupted once before, as noted in Justin Martyr’s, Dialogue with Justin with Trypho, a Jew, (ANF, 43:3–8, et. al.).  ↩
  15. Those ashes eventually came into the hands of Bruce Metzger who noted how grateful he was that, while in previous centuries Bible translators were sometimes burned, today it is only their translations which meet such a fate. See Bruce Metzger. Bible in Translation, The: Ancient and English Versions (p. 120). Kindle Edition.  ↩
  16. For more on the NET, see their website at  ↩
  17. “About the NIVUK.” New International Version. Accessed May 25, 2015.  ↩
  18. This Greek text, the result of the combined textual choices of the Committee on Bible Translation, was later published separately as A Reader’s Greek New Testament Richard J.Goodrich – Albert L.Lukaszewski – Zondervan – 2007 and differs from the standard NA/UBS text in some 231 places.  ↩
  19. While the NIV has topped the lists of Bible sales for decades, it has been noted that it has not really topped the number of actual Bible users, when internet searches and other factors are taken into account.  ↩
  20. For more details on choosing a translation, see Textual Criticism. Directed by Christopher M. Patton. Performed by Dr. Daniel Wallace. Edmond Oklahoma United States: Credo Courses, LLC, 2014. DVD. and The Theology Program, “Bibliology and Hermeneutics”, Session 5, “Canonization of Scripture (NT).” Performed by Christopher M. Patton and Rhome Dyke. Edmond Oklahoma United States: Michael Patton, 2014. DVD.  ↩
  21. Augustine of Hippo. “The Confessions of St. Augustin.” In The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin with a Sketch of His Life and Work, edited by Philip Schaff, translated by J. G. Pilkington, Vol. 1. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1886.  ↩
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How to Handle Apathy in Evangelistic Encounters (Video)

World Record Attempt at Apathy

Apathy and Whatever-ism

Apathy is the antipathy of substantive conversation. Deep conversations require at least two interested parties. In evangelism it can be challenging to convince someone that it’s important to have a discussion.This is true of any topic: politics, economics, religion, etc. What if the other person says, “Who cares?” Before a substantive discussion can take place, the illness of “whatever-ism” must be cured.

World Record Attempt at Apathy
World Record Attempt at Apathy

3 Ways to Cure Whatever-ism

Apathy and whatever-ism are manifestations of a “so what?” attitude. Overcoming apathy, therefore, means showing someone why they should care. Dr. Groothuis (professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary) has three ideas for how a lackadaisical buy ativan for sale attitude can be overcome:

  • Appeal to their sense of shame
  • Appeal to their sense of prudential self-interest
  • Pick the right environment

Video Transcript

Here’s what Dr. Groothuis said when we asked him how to handle someone who’s apathetic about God.

You certainly need to pray for insight, for discernment, for love of the other person. I think sometimes the apologist wants to hit someone over the head and say, “listen to my arguments!”

[Tweet “Sometimes the apologist wants to hit someone over the head and say, “listen to my arguments!””]

But I think you can appeal to people’s shame and say “Shouldn’t you pursue these ultimate questions in life? Why avoid them? Shouldn’t you think about this seriously, use your intelligence in this way?” And I think also you can raise the issue of prudence. If Christianity is true and you don’t come to Christ there are eternal consequences, very unpleasant consequences. If you come to Christ and Christianity is true there is tremendous fulfillment and reward. Now that’s not an argument to become a Christian per se. That is an argument to investigate the possibilities.

[Tweet “That’s not an argument to become a Christian per se. That is an argument to investigate…”]

I think another significant thing is to try to interact with people about apologetics in a calm, intellectually hospitably situation. Because part of the problem of indifference of whatever-ism is that people are over stimulated. Their mind is saturated with all kinds of things. They say, “Oh I don’t want to think about Christianity I’ll think about this and I’ll be involved with this. So an environment that’s quiet, that’s one-on-one, that’s relational, that’s intellectual, I think can help people take things more seriously.


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The First 6 Seal Judgments of Revelation

The First 6 Seal Judgments

Dr. Mark Hitchcock taught a series of twenty-seven sessions on the book of Revelation for Credo Courses in the later half of 2014. This post is a transcription (some smoothing has been done) of the tenth session of that series. The graphics in the blog post are just a few of those that appear in the video version.

Transcript for Session 10

There’s a story I really like from Charles Schulz from the Peanuts cartoon. You have Snoopy sitting there on top of his little dog house there writing one of his novels, and he starts out, and he writes the words, “It was a dark and stormy night.” And Lucy comes walking by, and she looks over and sees what he’s writing and she says, ”You stupid dog,“ and just begins to berate him. She says, ”Don’t you know that every good story begins with the words once upon a time?“ So she berates him a little bit more and walks off. And Snoopy sits there, and he thinks about it for a moment, and he starts typing again, and he says, ”Once upon a time it was a dark and stormy night.”

I like that story because the world we live in today, you could say it is a dark and stormy night. We see a lot of things in our world that are uncertain. There’s a lot of difficulty in our world. There’s a lot of instability, and people really do seem to have a lot of fear about the future. People wonder, what’s gonna happen in this world? What’s gonna take place?

Titles for Revelation 4–19

We get to chapter 6 of Revelation where we’re gonna begin in this session, buy generic ativan in google we’ve moved now into a future period of time—a period of time that is given a lot of different titles in Scripture. We often refer to it as “the tribulation period.” It’s called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” back in the book of Jeremiah. It’s called (in the Old Testament) “the indignation.” It’s called… (from Daniel 9:27) we get the words “the seventieth week of Daniel.

But whatever terms we give to it, it’s gonna be a dark and a stormy night for this world because, as we’ve said, the purpose of the book of Revelation is to give the advanced history of how Jesus Christ, by means of judgment, becomes King.

Purpose Statement: To give believers the advanced history of how Jesus Christ by means of judgment, becomes King, with a view towards calling them to faithfulness and to godliness.
The Purpose Statement of Revelation

And in chapter 5 in this heavenly scene, we’ve seen that Jesus received this seven-sealed scroll, and that scroll is the inheritance. It’s the kingdoms of this world. And Jesus now is going to begin to open those seals to take the throne, to take the kingdom, to set up his kingdom on this earth. And we’re going to see that these seals contain judgments. So it’s through judgment that Jesus Christ will become King.

[Tweet “So it’s through judgment that Jesus Christ will become King.”]

Three Waves of Judgment

Now it’s important, I think, when we start talking about these seal judgments—because there’s three waves of judgments in Revelation: seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls—to look at the relationship between these. There are two main views of the timing of these.

Relationship of the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls

Parallel or Recapitulation View

And the first view is what’s called the recapitulation or parallel view or the contemporaneous view. And that is that you have the seal judgments; and then you kinda go back and the trumpets kinda go over the same ground; and then the bowls kinda go over the same ground again. So there’s a recapitulation or parallel between these judgments that are are listed in the book of Revelation. That’s a simplistic definition of it, but that’s basically what they would see. And the reason is—you’ll see as we get into the text—the sixth seal really portrays kinda the end. It’s kinda like you’re at the end when you get to the sixth seal there, and the seventh trumpet kinda portrays like you’re at the end. So I mean, it kinda is looking at several points along the way that you’re at the end: the sixth seal portrays final judgment, and when you get to the seventh seal again, it’s kinda like you’re at the end again with these lightning and thunder flashing. So lot of people see best buy to klonopin online these as contemporaneous or parallel.

Chronological or Sequential View

The other view—the one I hold—is that these seals, trumpets, and bowls are successive, or they’re sequential or chronological. They’re moving the action forward. And there’s a few reasons I hold the succession view.

Five Reasons to Favor the Sequential View

One is, the content in these judgments is not parallel. If you read the seals then the trumpets then the bowls, they’re not the same. There’re some parallels between them, but they’re not exactly parallel. Also, the seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets which, to me, gives the idea that they come out of that and, so they are sequential or after the first six seals. Also we’ll see, I think, the seventh trumpet contains the seven bowls. Another thing is, there’s an interlude between the sixth and the seventh seal and between the sixth and the seventh trumpet. Between the sixth and seventh seal (the opening of those) you have an interlude which is chapter 7.

And again, if you remember, a few lessons ago we said that one of the keys to understanding the book is the alternating pattern between heaven and earth and then the fact that there’s these interludes (or pauses or intermissions) between the action of the moving of these seals, trumpets, and bowls. So the fact there’s an interlude between the sixth and seventh seal and the sixth and seventh trumpet and the information in those interludes is different, to me, indicates also that these aren’t parallel with one another. The interlude should be the same if they’re covering the same territory. Also, a fourth reason is the seven bowls are called the seven last plagues. So you’ve had the seals. You’ve had the trumpets. These are now called the last plagues. If they’re just recapitulating (or going over the same ground the others have been over), the idea of last seems to be in a sequence again, to me, in chronological. And also, the seventh bowl is introduced with the words, “It is done.” So it’s kinda like when you get to the last bowl, it’s all finished at that time. Everything is done. So those are some of the reasons why I favor the succession view.

Clarification of Judgments and Interludes

Now here’s a chart that will show you really clearly how this is pictured. You have the first six seals, and then you have an interlude between the sixth and the seventh. And then you have the seventh seal, but that contains then the seven trumpets. And then you have the first six trumpets; you have another interlude; and then you have the seventh trumpet (over in chapter 11); and then they have this long interlude there; and then you have the seventh trumpet containing the seven bowls. One of the things that we see here is then that the other chapters give fill-in material that’s vital to the overall picture.

Timeline of Judgments and Interludes
Timeline of Judgments and Interludes

So here’s the way I’m seeing Revelation 6 and following. The seals —the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls—those move the action forward. And what you have then between there are these interludes that fill-in some details while these things are happening. So in other words, between the sixth seal and the seventh seal you have chapter 7. Chapter 7 is describing some details for you of something that’s happening while those seals were being opened in chapter 6. And you go to chapter 8 and 9, you have the trumpets. Then in chapters 10 through 14 you have some things there that are happening (some details that were happening) while the trumpets were being blown. So that’s the fill-in or the details. If we didn’t have the fill-in, all we would know is there’s gonna be these three series of judgments and then Jesus comes back. So the fill-in gives persons and events and other things that are taking place.

[Tweet “If we didn’t have the fill-in, all we would know is there’s gonna be these three series of judgments and then Jesus comes back.”]

The Rapture

Now when we come to the seal judgments here, my view would be that the rapture of the church has taken place. This is the beginning here of the tribulation period. These seals are being opened (in chapter 6) during the first three and a half years.

Order of Major Events in Revelation
Order of Major Events in Revelation

And we have in the seals and the trumpets what’s called the four plus three pattern. With the seals the first four of them are riders on horses. They’re called “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.” I like to call them “the riders on the storm.” And then you have the last three. The same thing when you get to the trumpets in chapter 8. You have the first four trumpets, and then the last three trumpets are called “the three woes.” They’re separated. So there’s a four plus three pattern.

A 4+3 and 6+1 Pattern

Also in the seals and the trumpets theres a six plus one pattern. Where you have the first six, then and interlude, then the last one. With the bowls there is no interlude. There is no four plus three pattern. It’s just all one right after another because those are right at the very end of the coming time of tribulation.

The 4+1 and 6+1 Patterns in the Judgments of Revelation
The 4+1 and 6+1 Patterns in the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments of Revelation

So I put these seal judgments at the beginning of the tribulation—that first half of the tribulation. This is the opening of this scroll as Jesus begins to take the kingdom.

Revelation 6 and Matthew 24

Now, there’s several things about this whole passage that are obviously fascinating. You’ve got these four horsemen at the beginning: the white horse, the red horse, the black horse, this ashen colored horse—these four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

[Tweet “There’s an incredible parallel between Revelation 6 and Matthew chapter 24.”]

But one of the things that we need to see here as we get into this chapter—just as an introductory matter—is there’s an incredible parallel between Revelation 6 and Matthew chapter 24. And I’ve got this chart here for you to look at that you can see.

Parallels Between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6
Parallels Between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6

If you go back to Matthew chapter 24, you’ll see that Jesus was asked—you remember, by his disciples—“When will these things be?” that is, when will Jerusalem be destroyed? And then they said, “And what will be the sign of your coming in the end of the age?”

Now think about this. To the disciples whenever Jerusalem was destroyed, that was gonna be the end. So to them, it’s all one big complex of events of, Jerusalem’s gonna be destroyed. It’s gonna be the end of the age. But what they really wanna know is, What are gonna be the signs that are gonna portend your coming to the earth.

And Jesus… you’ll notice Jesus didn’t say to them [when they asked], “What is going to be the sign of your coming in the end of the age?” Jesus didn’t say to them, “Don’t worry about it.” You know, “Don’t worry about signs. Just live for me until I come.” Jesus gives a long litany of signs that will portend his second coming.

[Tweet “Jesus didn’t say to them, “Don’t worry about it.””]

But remember, what is the first thing Jesus says there? Let me turn back there to Matthew chapter 24. Remember, this is just a couple of days before Jesus dies on the cross there on the Mount of Olives where Jesus will return at his second coming according to Zachariah 14. And he gives this last great eschatological discourse. They ask him the question and in verse 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name saying ‘I am the Christ’ and will mislead many.’”So the first thing that’s gonna happen, Jesus says, is a wave of false messiahs (false christs).

The White Horse

Well, look back in Revelation 6—if you just wanna turn back there—he says in 6:1, I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice of thunder saying, “Come.” And I looked and behold a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Three Views of the White Horse

Now some will say, “Well, this is a picture of Jesus because in Revelation 19, Jesus is the one who rides out on white horse. So this is a picture of Jesus.” Or some will say, “This is the preaching of the gospel,” or things like that.

The problem is, remember, these are judgments. And it would be odd for Jesus here to be the contents of one of these seals and to be the one who’s opening the seals. Right? So making this Jesus is odd, especially when you compare it with Matthew 24 where Jesus said the first sign is there will be false messiahs.

So the one riding on a white horse here is a counterfeit of the one who comes in Revelation 19. He is the ultimate false messiah. This coming world ruler—the Antichrist or the beast—will be described further in Revelation chapter 13.

And notice here, he has a bow and a crown, but it’s been often pointed out, he has a bow but no arrows. So it may be, when it says, “He goes forth conquering and to conquer,” this is the conquest—we might say—of cold war. It’s not hot war. He comes and conquers the world by diplomacy because the next rider is the rider on the red horse. And it says he comes and takes peace from the earth. Well, you can only take peace from the earth if there was peace on the earth. So I take it, this first rider being some kind of peace. But again, notice the parallel: false messiahs, rider on a white horse.

The Red Horse

Then notice the next thing Jesus says in Matthew 24:6. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, various places famines and earthquakes. Notice, the rider on the red horse is warfare. Jesus said, “Look, the next things that’s gonna happen is there’s gonna be war: nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom. You have this one coming riding a red horse—the Greek word there is ”pyrros“ (fiery red, the color of blood). And literally it’s, ”He comes and takes the peace from the earth. So there’s gonna be an outbreak of warfare.

The Black Horse

Then notice, the next thing that’s mentioned here by Jesus in Matthew 24 verse 7: “and in various places there will be famines.” What’s the next rider on the next horse—the black horse. When he broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come!” I looked, and behold a black horse, and he who sat upon it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard as it were a voice in the center of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius.” Now a quart of wheat is about what it took a person to live for one day—food for a day for a person. And wheat was the more expensive food. So a denarius was what an average worker made working for a day. So you could buy enough of good kind of food for one person to eat for a day. But it says you could get three quarts of barley for a denarius. So you could get enough cheap food—barley was the food that was given to animals. You could get—I guess we’d put it today, maybe beans and macaroni or something like that—enough for three people. But what this pictures, I think, is hyperinflation, where it’s gonna take all that a person has just to be able to buy enough food to eat for a day.

Man with a Wheelbarrow of Money Shows Hyperinflation in Germany
Man with a Wheelbarrow of Money Shows Hyperinflation in Germany

It’s like in Weimar Germany back in the 20s that paved the way for Adolf Hitler. It was stated back then that someone would take a wheelbarrow of money, you know, to buy some food; and they’d have to go get another wheelbarrow full of money to bring with them. When they got back the money was there, but somebody stole the wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow was worth more than the money was.

[Tweet “Hyperinflation – The wheelbarrow was worth more than the money was.”]

And I think that it’s this kind of future economic collapse in the tribulation of runaway hyperinflation that—just like in Weimar Germany prepared the way for the rise of Hitler, a mad man—that’s gonna prepare the way for the coming of the Antichrist. People are gonna be looking for somebody to solve the problems of the world.

Man Between Stacks of Money Demonstrates Hyperinflation
Man Between Stacks of Money Demonstrates Hyperinflation

And then notice, the fourth seal is death. There’s famines and there’s gonna be earthquakes and all these various things happening. It says, “These are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” And so there’s gonna be death that’s gonna come. And notice in verse 9: “they’ll deliver you to tribulation and kill you and you’ll be hated by all nations on account of me.” When you go over to Revelation chapter 6 and the fourth seal is opened. And he says, “He broke the fourth seal. I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come.’ And I looked and beheld an ashen horse. The word there in Greek is ”chloros.” It’s kind of a pale green color. It’s basically the color of a decomposing corpse. I mean, it’s a gross color: the pale rider. And notice, he who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following after him. It was like this ashen colored horse. Death is riding on the horse. And it’s like Death is going out and killing people, and Hades is walking right behind him, just taking them right down into Hades as they die. It’s a graphic picture here.  And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, famine and with pestilence, and by the wild beasts of the earth. So this pale horse…

Now it’s interesting here, he says, “Authority was given to them.” Did you notice as we read through here how many times it says that. It says back up in chapter 6 in verse 2, “The one who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him.” And down in verse 4, “And it was given to him to take peace from the earth.” All through this section we see that God is the initiator of these things. God is the one who is having to give them the right to do these things. Because the Lamb is opening these seals. These judgments are coming from God. Now, human beings may be involved in them—certainly in the warfare. Human beings are involved in the warfare, and the killing and the famine will be a result of the warfare. But we don’t wanna loose sight of the fact that God is the initiator in these things.

And there’s gonna be false messiah. There’s gonna be this war. War is gonna give way to terrible famine. We could call that section, really there, the hunger games, if you want to. I mean, it’s gonna be a time of terrible deprivation.

The Pale Horse

And then this fourth horse, Death, comes forth. A fourth of the earth is killed. Think about that. A fourth of the people in the world living at that time are gonna die just in the fourth seal. They die with the sword, with famine, with pestilence. Now we know what that is. The sword is war. Famine is what happened in the third seal. Pestilence is plagues. But then it says, “And by the wild beasts of the earth.” Now what does that mean?

[Tweet “A fourth of the people in the world living at that time are gonna die just in the fourth seal.”]

Three Views about the Wild Beasts

Well, you know some have said, “Well animals are gonna go crazy. You know in the tribulation period. Going around killing people and going wild.”Obviously that could be.

Others would say that the wild beasts of the earth here refers to all the diseases that comes from animals. Think about that. Ebola comes from animals. The AIDS virus came from animals. Bird flu and all these different things… Some people think that could be what it is. You know, the bubonic plague came from rats.

My view though is the word “beasts” here (wild beats) is the word “therion.” It’s used thirty-eight times in Revelation. All the other times it’s used, it refers to the beast, (that final great world ruler) or his henchman (the second beast). So I take it this refers to the military, political rulers on the earth during this coming time. Anyway, you could take different ideas on that, but that’s the view that I have, or the understanding of this passage.

[Tweet “Matthew 24 has often been called the mini Apocalypse. It’s kinda the Readers Digest version…”]

But you can see how this flows with Matthew chapter 24 with the beginning of birth pangs. So Matthew 24 has often been called the mini Apocalypse. It’s kinda the Readers Digest version of the book of Revelation. And you see how it tracks here with this, which tells us, where ever you put Matthew 24, you have to put Revelation 6. They’re parallel. That’s why preterists believe Matthew 24 is about A.D. 70. And they think that Revelation 6 is about A.D. 70. But you’ll find some people that will interpret Matthew 24 as talking about A.D 70, and then take Revelation 6 as being future. But you gotta put them in the same place because of the similarity, I think, between these two.

The Fifth Seal

You go on to the fifth seal here is martyrs: those who are gonna be slain on the earth because of their testimony. Now this is something that always bothered me: how is believers being slain a judgment upon the world, cause remember, these are judgments on the earth. Two things I’ve thought of in that light. One of them could be, as these believers are slain by the evil people in the world during the tribulation, it’s gonna heap up even more judgment for them. And another possibility is, by killing these believers they’re removing the salt and the light from this world. That is gonna even cause more judgment to be upon the face of the earth. There’s gonna be martyrdom. People killed during this time.

The Sixth Seal

And then the sixth seal is opened. He says, “And I looked and he broke the sixth seal and there was a great earth quake and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood. The stars of the sky fell.” I mean this is global cosmic cataclysm that’s taking place with this seal judgment here that’s coming.

Timing of the Rapture

Now one of the issues I wanna deal with here just briefly—I don’t wanna go into it in too much detail—but this brings up the whole subject of the rapture of the church—because… I wanted to mention this that all people believe, all Christians believe— fundamental Christians, evangelical Christians—that we’re (the church of Jesus Christ) gonna be exempt from wrath (from God’s wrath). The question is, when does the wrath start and how are we gonna be preserved through the wrath?

4 Views on the Timing of the Rapture
4 Views on the Timing of the Rapture


The pre-trib view says the whole seven-year tribulation is wrath, and God’s gonna preserve us by taking us out of here.


The mid-tribbers say, “No, only the last half is God’s wrath. And so at the mid-point God’s gonna take us out of here.


The pre-wrath view says, “No only the last fourth or so is wrath. So we’re gonna be taken out at that point.


And the post-tribbers say, “The wrath is only at the very end, and God’s gonna preserve us though the whole period. And we’re gonna go up and meet Jesus as he’s coming down and do a u-turn—I call it the yo-yo view of the rapture. We’re gonna go up and meet Jesus and do a u-turn and come back down.

So everybody agrees: we’re exempt from God’s wrath. The question is, when does the wrath start, and how does God exempt us from it?

Those who hold to what’s called the pre-wrath rapture, they say, “The wrath starts right here in the sixth seal. So the rapture is between the sixth and seventh seal judgment. That’s where they place it.

My view is, as a pre-tribber, I think the whole seven year tribulation’s wrath because again, you go back and look at, who is the one who’s opening these seals? It’s the Lamb. He’s the one it’s given to him to have a crown. It was given to him to take the peace from the earth. He’s the one, I believe, who’s in control of this and the initiator of these things. Certainly people are used as instruments in these judgments. And I would agree, the judgments get worse as you go along. The trumpets are worse than the seals. The bowls are worse than the trumpets. But I believe that all of these seals are judgment. They are all the judgment and the wrath of God. And believing that then, I believe that the church will be taken out before that wrath begins to be poured out. Again, going back to chapter 3 verse 10. He’s gonna keep us from the hour of testing. That hour that’s coming upon the earth to test those who dwell on the earth.

So it’s another issue here kinda about when does the wrath really start. Certainly it’s clear, when you get to the sixth seal, that the wrath has started cause it mentions it clearly here in this passage.

But again the Lamb opening the seals, the repeated phrase “it was given to him,” shows these things are happening as a result, I think, here of the divine initiative.


Notice how this chapter ends. It’s a sobering chapter. Verse 14, “The sky was split apart like a scroll when it’s rolled up. Every mountain and island will move out of their places. Kings of the earth, the great men, the commanders, the rich, the strong, every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’” You don’t think about a lamb having wrath very often. Do you? A nice little, soft little, wonderful lamb… What this shows me is, they know this is from God. And they’re calling out to the rocks to fall on them and to hide them from him who sits on the throne and from the Lamb.

Notice verse 17. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand? The point there is, nobody! Apart from God’s grace and God’s power, nobody is gonna be able to stand.

I like what one man I read one time said. He made this beautiful statement. He says, the men here, the rulers, the kings of the earth, they cry out upon rocks and upon nature to come and to save them. But he says, There’s no deliverance. But he said, there is a rock that can save us that we can call out to. And of course that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, that lamb, the Rock of Ages. So there’s a Rock that we can cry out to in our time of distress or trouble. He’ll come to us and deliver us.

[Tweet “There is a rock that can save us that we can call out to. And of course that’s the Lord Jesus Christ.”]

Chapter 6 ends with these words, “The great day of their wrath is come. Who is able to stand?” Well, chapter 7 is gonna answer that question. You don’t have to go long to find the answer. There’s a group of people who are gonna stand during this time of wrath that comes on the earth: chapter 7’s a hundred and forty-four thousand and there’s a great multitude that are given to us there.

Chapter 7 is gonna be the first of these interludes because we’ve gotten to sixth seal. Now we haven’t gotten to the seventh one yet. The seventh seal’s not gonna be till chapter 8. So we’re gonna have the first one of our little fill-ins or intermissions or interludes in chapter 7. So we’ll pick up there next time and we’ll see who it is that is able to stand whenever this time of judgment is gonna be unleashed upon the world.

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3 Things I Learned at the 2015 OKC Homeschool Convention

Volunteering at the OKC Homeschool Convention

The OKC Homeschool Convention taught me a lot about who homeschoolers are and why they do what they do. I meet people who were religiously motivated, educationally motivated, motivated by the need for a more significant family life, and more. I meet people who were every color, denomination (or none at all), ethnicity, sex, age, and race.

Volunteering at the OKC Homeschool Convention
Volunteering at the OKC Homeschool Convention

Volunteering at the OKC Homeschool Convention

My wife and I volunteered at the ministry booth for overseas missions at the 2015 OKC Homeschool Convention this past weekend. Both of us had been homeschooled to one degree or another, but I’m way past my high-school years and this new generation of students taught me a few things.

Homeschoolers Are Not “One Size Fits All”

In the space of three hours (between 9:00 am – 12:00 pm on Friday morning), I saw more variety in personality, character, dress, passion, and interest than I’d seen in a long time.

It isn’t accurate to relegate homeschoolers to a religious backwater and call it a day. Not only wouldn’t that be an accurate picture of buy best ativan sleeping pills for insomnia homeschoolers today, but it’s historically unsupportable. After all, before the establishment of a government funded/directed educational system, how were children educated? Learning at home or through private schools was how almost everyone was educated.

Homeschoolers Care Deeply about Education

Homeschooling doesn’t just happen. The decision to homeschool is a decision to make two very big commitments:

  • Pay More Money
  • Give Up More Time


How so? Well, homeschoolers essentially have to pay twice for their children’s education. They pay once through taxation and again to homeschool (books, supplies, food, opportunity cost, etc.). It’s simple to determine what someone’s passionate about by examining how the invest their money. By this measure, homeschoolers are passionate about education.


Homeschooling take time. It takes a lot of time. Most parents can drop their kids off at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. Not so for homeschoolers. Homeschooling can be a lifestyle. It can be an all-consuming passion.

Homeschoolers Will Change the World

Those who go against the grain are the one’s who will change the status quo. Those educated en masse are less likely to be the same ones who will revolutionize the world. Oh sure, it will happen, if for no other reason than due to sheer numbers, but my money is on the homeschoolers.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

— Unknown

If you get the chance to attend or volunteer at a homeschool convention, you should take it. If you were homeschooled, you’ll get to reconnect with your past. If you weren’t, you’ll get to meet a group of people who are passionate about education and are willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve it. Either way, you’ll have a good time and expand your horizons.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog should be construed as a criticism of non-homeschoolers.

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The Ultimate List of Christian Apologetics Podcasts

List of Christian Apologetics Podcasts

The Ultimate List of Christian Apologetics Podcasts

(Updated 2016-06-11)

I’m missing a link to the content for The Narrow Mind. If anyone knows of links to the actual content (XML Feeds, iTunes Link, etc.), please let me know in the comments.
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59-Second Apologist, The – Randal Rauser


A Clear Lens – Alex Aili, Eric Pelletier, Logan Judy, Nate Sala, and Gene Gosewehr
A Glimpse of the Kingdom – David Pendergrass
A Piece of My Mind – Greg Koukl
Absolute Truth, The (Discontinued) – Unknown
African Apologetics Podcast (Discontinued) – The Africa Centre for Apologetics Research
Answers in Genesis Radio – Ken Ham
Apologetic Front –  Mike Felker
Apologetics 101 – Rob Cartledge
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Apologetics 105 – Robert Johnson
Apologetics 315 – Brian Auten
Apologetics Camp (Discontinued) – Hopevale Church
Apologetics Canada – Andy Steiger, Jon and Steve Kim

Apologia (Discontinued) – Zachary Moore
Apologia Radio – Jeff Durbin, Luke, Joy
Apologetics Coordination Team Podcast (Discontinued)
Apologetics Live (Discontinued)
Apologetics Research Radio
Apologetics Unplugged – Clint Roberts, Michael Patton, Carrie Hunter Radio Show – Harry Edwards


Backpack Radio (See Urban Theologian Radio)
Belivin for a Reason (Discontinued) – Daniel Edward
Bible Answer Man, The
– Hank Hanegraaff
Bible Information Brokers, The – Unknown
Bible Thumping Wingnut, The (Old Version of the Podcast) – Tim and Len Pettis
Bible Study Podcasts – Clean Slate Evangelical Ministries
Biblical Pressupositional Apologetics (Limited Run) – Michael Butler (Added 2016/06/11)
Bigger Picture on Creation, The (Limited Run) –  Krista Bontrager
BJJMOSES – Gene Cook
BreakPoint This Week – John Stonestreet
Briefing, The – R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Bulletproof – Brett Kunkle


Calvinist Batman & Friends
CARM Radio Show Podcast
– Matt Slick
Terry and Jesse Show, The (Catholic) – Terry and Jesse
Cell’s Design, The (Limited Run)
Christ the Center – Jeff Waddington, Jim Cassidy, and Camden Bucey
Christian Apologetics for the 21st Century (Discontinued) – Jeff Marmaro
Christian Apologetics (Discontinued) – Windmill Ministries
Christian Forum, The (Discontinued) – Unknown
Christian Persuaders – Alex Banfield Hicks
Christian Worldview Thinking – Summit Ministries
Christianity vs Other Worldview (Discontinued) – Don Johnson
City Podcast, The – John Mark Reynolds
Coffee Cup Apologetics – Michael Spencer
Cold-Case Christianity Podcast, The – J. Warner Wallace
Come Let Us Reason – Lenny Esposito
Comfort Zone, The (Discontinued) – Ray Comfort, Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne and Mark Spence
Contenders Radio, The – Kevin Inman
Coram Deo – Kyle J. Howard
Creation Today
Creation Update 2.0 (Discontinued)
Cross Defense – KFUO
Cross Encounters – Tony Miano
Cross Examined – Frank Turek
CSRA Christian Apologetics – Timothy and James


Darwin or Design (Discontinued) – Dr. Tom Woodward
Decker Report, The
– Ed Decker
Deeper Waters Podcast – Nick Peters
Defend Your Faith – Richard Haas and Joseph Carlone
– Dr. William Lane Craig
Delivered To The Saints: Truth, Christianity, Apologetics – L Russ Bush (This podcast seems to be more theology than apologetics.)
Did God Actually Say (Discontinued) – Theo Meade
Dividing Line, The – Dr. James White
Don Johnson Show, The (Discontinued) – Don Johnson


Eavesdropping – Max Andrews
Embrace the Truth – Abdu Murray
Energion (Discontinued) – Henry Neufeld
Everyday Apologetics – Wes Mullins
Evidence 4 Faith (Discontinued) – Keith Kendrex
Ezra Institute, The – Joe Boot


Fighting for the Faith – Chris Rosebrough
Fire Away! – Landon Chapman
Fixed Point Podcast, The – Larry Taunton


Gary DeMar Show, The (Link Not Located) – Gary DeMar
GenRef – Austin Brown
Gospel Coalition, The – Various
Gospel Focused Apologetics (Discontinued) – Berean Perspective
GROK Radio – Frequently covers issues related to apologetics but focuses on the topic of modern Christian music.


Hope’s Reason – Stephen J. Bedard
Hughniverse (Subscription Required) – Hugh Hewitt


I Didn’t Know That (Discontinued) – Reasons To Believe Staff
ID the Future – Discovery Institute
Impact 360 Institute – Jonathan Morrow
Institute of Biblical Defense – Phil Fernandes
Intelligent Design The Future – The Discovery Institute
Intelligent Faith Radio Program (Discontinued)
Intelligent Interactions Radio (Discontinued)
Iron Sharpens Iron (Relaunch 2015/06/01) – Chris Arnzen
Is Christianity True? – Apologetics 315
Issues, Etc. – Lutheran Public Radio


Janet Mefferd Show, The – Janet Mefferd
John Ankerberg Show, The – Dr. John Ankerberg
JoshRadio (Discontinued) – Josh McDowell
Jude 3 Project – Unknown
Just Think (Link Not Located) – Brett Kunkle
Just Thinking – Ravi Zacharias


Let My People Think – Ravi Zacharias
Line of Fire Radio – Dr. Michael Brown
Live Christianly – Dan and Elijiah
Logical Apologetics (Discontinued) – Joel Mabry
Logical Fallacies (Series 1, Series 2)


Moral Apologetics – Various
More Than a Theory
(Limited Run)
Mortification of Spin – Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt, Aimee Byrd (Added 2016/06/11)


Narrow Mind, The (Link Not Located) – Gene Cook Jr.
No Compromise Radio Podcast – Mike Abendroth


One Minute Apologist, The – Bobby Conway


Peter S Williams (Self Titled AKA The Damaris Project)
Philosophy for Theologians – Reformed Forum
Please Convince Me (See Cold-Case Christianity) – J. Warner Wallace
Point, The – John Stonestreet
Probe Ministries – Kerby Anderson
Provocative Microphone of the Christian Religion, The (Link Not Located)


Ouxano –  Matt Tague
Question Christianity
(Discontinued) – Matt Walker


RCM Live (Discontinued) – Sam and Jason
Real Radio (Discontinued) – Jack Hibbs
Reasonable Faith
– William Lane Craig
Reasons to Believe Apologia – Dr Hugh Ross, Dr. Fazale Rana, Dr. Jeff Zweerink
Reconnect – Andy Wrasman
Reformed and Reloaded – Adam and Zeb
Reformed Forum Podcasts – Reformed Forum
Reformed Pubcast, The – Les and Tanner
Remnant X Radio – Various
Renewing Your Mind – Dr. RC Sproul


Say Hello to My Little Friend (Discontinued) – Dr. Glenn Peoples
Science News Flash (Discontinued)
Sin Boldly – Pastor Evan McClanahan on KPFT 90.1 FM (Added 2016/06/08)
Skeptical Podcast, The – Kyle
Solid Reasons Morning Show, The
Sound Reasoning – Perseus Poku and Guests
Straight Thinking (Discontinued) – Kenneth Samples
Stand to Reason (Enhanced [Discontinued]) – Greg Koukl


Table Podcast, The – Dallas Theological Seminary
Taking Every Thought Captive (Discontinued) – Dustin Crider
TC Apologetics (Unknown) – Unknown
Telugu Christian Apologetics Church (Unknown) – Unknown
Tentative Apologist, The – Randal Rauser
The Apologetic Front Podcast (Discontinued) – Mike Felker
The Point Radio – John Stonestreet
Theology League, The
Theology Matters – Dr. Barcellos
Theology Mom (Discontinued) – Krista Bontrager
Theology Unplugged – Michael Patton, Sam Storms, JJ Seid, Tim Kimberley
Theopologetics – Chris Date
Thinking Christianly
Thinking in Public – R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Thinking Out Loud – Alan Shlemon
Truth Talk (Discontinued) – Unknown
Twisted Apologetics (Discontinued) – Ryan Goding


Unapologetic – Brian Seagraves
– Justin Brierley and Guests
Uncovering Religion – Rob Cartledge
Up for Debate – Julie Roys
Urban Theologian Radio (Formerly Backpack Radio) – Vermon Pierre, Pastor Bob, and Vocab Malone


Veritas Forum, The (Link Not Located) – Various
Voice of Truth (Discontinued) – Norman Geisler


Walter Martin
White Horse Inn
– Dr. Michael Horton
Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Limited Run)
Without a Doubt (Limited Run)


Youth Apologetics Training – Michael Boehm

If you know of a podcast I missed (even if it was a limited run podcast, is discontinued, or you can’t get all the episodes online anymore) please buyvalium diazepam let me know. I’d like this list to remain as complete as possible.