Order in nature suggests that there is a designer.
a. Order is
b. It is implausible that such order could have
occurred by chance.
c. The power of this
argument is seen by considering the improbability of the opposite hypothesis,
that there is no cause or order to anything.
The fact that there seems to be purpose or design in nature suggests the
existence of a designer.
a. The evolutionary
hypothesis suggests that survival is the governing impulse in life. But where
does this impulse come from? Why does it exist?
b. Modern biochemistry has enabled us to
observe the complex nature of the elements of life. Design in the DNA is hard
argument - All people possess a rational and moral impulse that goes beyond the
practical and immediate needs of man. The best explanation for this impulse is
1. The appearance of mind in nature suggests an
a. It is hard to
imagine complex order without intelligence.
b. The fact that the
universe is intelligible and that humans can in part understand it is a
powerful argument for the existence of a supreme intelligence.
The existence of persons suggests a supreme person.
a. One cannot
reasonably have human personality drop out of the blue in evolving history
without hypothesizing a divine person that elicits and awakens human
b. The notion of
self awareness suggests
The human idea of God suggests that God exists.
a. If humanity has
the idea of God implanted in its very nature, then some sufficient reason must
b. What is the best
explanation for this? Evolution or the facts that we are made in God’s image
and instinctively know there is something beyond us.
The universal God consciousness among humans suggests that something
exists beyond us.
a. The idea of a
supreme force, being, principle, etc. seems to exist in all cultures and in all
ages throughout history.
b. People have been
willing to die for this belief. It is possible to die for false beliefs, but it
is difficult to think of any other idea in human history for which so many
caring and intelligent persons have been willing to offer their very lives.
Moral argument - All people possess a moral
conscience, sensitivity to beauty, a longing for justice.
1. Inspiration for moral good is best explained
by the existence of God.
a. The universal
moral sense within humans suggests a moral personality behind human nature.
b. People have strong feelings about justice,
courage, etc. even though they may not believe in God. The notion of a just and
ideal society must originate in a cosmic moral mind.
c. The evolutionary
model struggles to explain the complex moral spiritual nature of humanity.
The longing for justice is best explained by the existence of God.
a. In this life
there is no justice or direct correlation between virtue and prosperity or
happiness. For justice to win Kant reasoned that freedom, immortality, and God
b. Rev.7:17 “God
shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Society is better when people act as though God exists.
a. Believing in God
makes people function better and feel better and makes lives more productive.
b. Ps.33:12 “Blessed
is the people whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”
The phenomena of aesthetic beauty suggests the presence of an aesthetic
a. The presence of beauty and human ability to
recognize universal beauty (a sunset, etc.) suggests the presence of God.
b. Ps.19:1-4 “The heavens tell out the glory of
God, the vault of heaven reveals his handiwork. One day speaks to another,
night with night shares its knowledge, and this without speech or language or
sound of any voice. Their music goes out through all the earth, their words
reach to the end of the world.”
Congruity argument – That postulate which best
explains the most distantly related facts is more probably true. The existence
of God best explains all phenomena.
1. If God in fact exists, then the virtually
universal belief in divine reality is accounted for.
2. If God exists, then the intellectual hunger
task for a first cause of causes is satisfied without the embarrassment of an
infinite regress of causes or unaccounted-for motions.
If God exists, then our inveterate religious nature has an object.
4. If God exists, then the uniformity of
natural law finds adequate explanation.
5. If God exists, then human moral awareness is
vindicated from the charge of being an immense absurdity.
Ontological argument - The fact that we can
imagine a supreme being requires that such a being exists. This argument is
adopted from a Platonic framework, in which the ideal is more real than the
physical. (This argument, in its 20th century form, appeals to the nearly
universal sense of a supreme power.)
Conclusion: Belief in the
existence of the Christian God is “a step of faith” based on a high level of
probability derived from empirical observation, reason, and presuppositions.
Ultimately, this belief requires a subjective element where the deep longings
of the human soul find its rest in the Biblical story of creation, redemption,
Do you have to accept Jesus as your savior to
go to heaven?
God decides who goes to heaven.
will be perfectly fair in his judgement but God does not grade on the curve.
a. The standard of God’s judgement will be our
integrity as humans. We will be judged by the extent to which we are true to
our humanity (which is defined as living our lives in the image of God) Jesus
being the model.
some of us there is great anxiety about that judgment because we sense that we
have fallen short and are powerless to measure up to our calling.
has graciously given His Son as a substitute whereby through faith in him we
have his righteousness imputed to our account. This is the gospel.
no one is forced to receive that gift. If we choose to face God clothed in our
own righteousness, we are free to do so knowing that God will be perfectly
It is hypocritical to use the name of Jesus,
who preached love, and then condemn the sincere beliefs of those who don’t
happen to agree with you?
hypocrite is someone who fails to integrate their confession and their conduct.
We no doubt are hypocritical at many points but when we speak of the
exclusiveness within the Christian message we are not departing from the clear
teaching of the historic Christian faith as revealed in the Bible and confessed
down through the ages. It would be hypocritical to not confess an exclusive
Christian message when Jesus and the Apostles clearly taught it.
this point your objection is not with us so much as with the historic Christian
teaching, which we confess. The Christian story must be challenged by refuting
its ideological and historical foundations not by exposing the hypocrisy of
some of its members or by simply finding the teaching offensive to the modern mind.
you sense that the exclusiveness of the Christian message is unloving, you do
so on the basis of an assumption.
You assume that love affirms not only legal and social
pluralism but also ideological pluralism. That is, you accept the right of
others to believe what they want. So do I.
But this is where we disagree. You also insist on dignifying
(as a valid expression of truth) any sincerely held world and life view. While
I affirm legal and social pluralism, I do not feel that I am inconsistent in rejecting
Some truths are universal, absolutes that transcend time and
culture. We are not bigots for critiquing certain views as wrong. (KKK,
Terrorism, Child sacrifice, etc.)
would suggest that your assumption of ideological pluralism is hard to defend.
Few of us are so radically pluralistic that we would dignify as honorable, the
beliefs of the KKK or Terrorists (for example). It is at this point I would say
that the hypocrisy is with you not with me.
would ask, on what basis do we condemn the views of the KKK as wrong or
dangerous? You may answer: They violate basic human rights.
say, fair enough, but where do we get our understanding of what it means to be
human, and from where come these rights? I would argue that the rights and
dignity of humanity are not to be found in an evolutionary theory of human
origin or in the subjective decisions of nine judges on the Supreme Court but
rather from a religious base.
dignity is linked to our bearing the image of our Creator as revealed in the
Biblical story. When you try to construct the human story apart from the
broader Biblical story you leave the realm of dignity and enter the pagan world
that is forced to dignify everything as an expression of human creativity and
denounce nothing for fear of being a bigot.
Is it reasonable to worship a God who sends
sincere, “good” people to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus?
our standards were the standards it would seem strange or even incomprehensible
that God would condemn anyone who seems “good”.
reason many Christians have not been moved by that logic is because they see
“our standards” as the “unreasonable” part.
wonder of it all, to many Christians, is that God would save any, for we are
all guilty with mixed motives, selfish defensive life strategies, and
be sure these dark sides of life are expressed in differing degrees but the
fact remains, we all seem to have a dark side.
Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, lest you be
1. In John 7:24 he said, “Do not judge according
to appearances, but judge with righteous judgment.”
2. Only a fool has no discernment of right and
wrong. The real question is not judgment but the basis and sphere of the
Why are evangelical Christians so homophobic?
1. The Christian church is not homophobic but
it does view homosexual acts as contrary to God’s ideal design. Homophobia is
an irrational fear of and discrimination against people with a homosexual
2. Christians are committed to the authority of
the Biblical revelation and it has been the common understanding down through
the years that the Biblical record referred to homosexual acts as sinful and
contrary to God’s design.
3. The proscription against homosexual acts in
Romans 1 is suggests that homosexuality is not so much a judgement against the
homosexual person as against a nation or culture that has abandoned God.
What about all the atrocities committed in the
name of religion? Wouldn’t the world be better off without religion?
same logic could be used with respect to government. Just think how many wars
governments have started. But you say we need government to establish order and
manage social and economic interaction. How much more do we need religion with
its power to curb selfish passions, encourage altruistic behavior, and give
hope to suffering masses.
4:1-2 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the
source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have;
so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so your fight and
quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”
hypocrisy of religious people does not negate the virtue of true religion.
There are few things more honorable than good religion and few things more vile
than bad religion.
would argue that if you want to see hell in living color, remove all thoughts
of a transcendent authority from our culture. Democracy will become the
domination of the weak by the strong, Capitalism will become the exploitation
of the poor by the rich, and Human Rights will feed never ending litigation
whereby we demand the freedom to do what ever we want and also demand that
someone else pick up the tab when we don’t like the consequences of our
pagan culture has no rational basis for normative ethics. It is left with a
superficial functionalism, arbitrary legalism, or impulsive sentimentalism.
Jefferson and Adams recognized the need for religions constraining power over our
souls if we were to preserve our freedoms.
Is not the Bible to be understood in the light
of historical critical scholarship?
1. The Bible is to be granted, at least, the
same basic respect that we would grant other pieces of ancient literature. How many
other ancient documents could survive the subjective intellectual terrorist
attacks that have characterized “Biblical scholarship” over the years?
2. Historical criticism is useful if used with
broad presuppositions (which do not exclude the possibility of the
supernatural), concrete extra Biblical sources (not creative imagination), and
proper humility (with some self criticism). Historical criticism has too often
been critical of everything but its own house.
How can you be so certain that you know the
Certainty is relative and involves a
faith commitment that is based on the plausibility of a certain story being
true. I am committed to the truthfulness of the Christian story for three
It addresses the
deepest need of my soul in a way that nothing else has. It offers freedom from
guilt and shame while at the same time respects the holiness of God.
The evidence for
the resurrection of Jesus is strong.
The evidence for
the authority of Scripture is strong.
There are some things that are more
certain than others. It is important to major on majors and minor on minors.
Why are you so concerned about imposing
religious ideas (prayer and creation) on public education?
have to ask and answer the question as to how we are to communicate values in
public education. We do not have the option of communicating neutral values -
we must recognize that by communicating tolerance of all values as personal
preferences, we are teaching a fundamental value. We assume that certain values
are to be encouraged (telling the truth, not stealing or cheating, respecting
times we are left with the impression (in the secular state) that the only
virtue that can be defended in the public square is “personal autonomy” where
we are completely free to choose our personal values apart from any
transcendent authority. It is implied that if we do not like the consequences
of our choices we should also have the right to blame someone else and even sue
them. Rights without responsibilities, seems to be the core virtue (vice) of a
modern secular society. Most of us do not want to live in a world where there
is no virtue in self-sacrifice for the common good.
rational basis of such values is grounded in who we are as humans made in the
image of God.
it is improper to advocate any one particular religious sect over another, it
is necessary to include as a part of public education the foundation for the
virtues, which support the public good. That foundation is the affirmation of
transcendent moral authority. Public prayer (a sign of respect for transcendent
authority) and the teaching of human origins (and human nature) is a reflection
of a tenured world and life view in America.
would not replace the teaching of evolution with creation nor would I teach
creation as science. I would address the question of human origin and origin of
life as a philosophical and religious question with scientific side bars.
Why do evangelical Christians insult women by
denying them the right to choose what happens in their own bodies? Why do you
insist on imposing your personal religious convictions on others?
right of privacy or right to choose what happens to one’s own body is a valid
right that deserves to be respected and protected even when it may lead to
actions that are offensive to the personal values of someone else.
this is true in the case of abortion rights only if you assume that the unborn
child is not a person with constitutional rights.
parallel situation existed in pre-civil war America where slaves were viewed as
property of others. The owner, it was argued, has a right to treat his property
as he pleases. The right of personal property is valid but in the case of
slaves; only if it is assumed that the slave is not a person with rights.
basic question in the abortion controversy then becomes this - When does the
unborn become a person with constitutional rights? We know that the unborn is
alive and genetically human but is it a person? Or when does it become a
is often argued that we cannot know for sure when the subject becomes a person.
Fair enough. But we assume that the subject becomes a person at some time
before, at, or after birth.
we are dealing with a human person or potential human person it seems only wise
to take a very conservative posture toward abortion lest we kill a person. Who
dares take a risk of killing what could be a person? Until we know for certain
that the unborn is not a human person we should fight to save the unborn.
is why many people see abortion as something bigger than a woman’s private
right to choose.
America is a secular state not a Christian
nation. Where do you get the idea that this pluralistic society was ever
1. Some have described America as a secular
state with the soul of a church.
2. It was based on three pillars: A
Capitalistic economic system, A Democratic governmental system, and A Judeo
Christian moral system.
The freedom that is the corollary of
capitalistic democracy is assured only by the self-restraint and responsibility
for the public good motivated by personal convictions that find their rational
foundation in religious faith.
The Judeo Christian world view (expressed
in a general Biblical ethic) was a assumption of the founding fathers, it is
the conviction of the vast majority of present day citizens, and it is the
historical root of all successful free societies.
The separation of church and state is
best understood as a separation of the state from any one religious sect. This
was in deliberate contrast to the British system where the Anglican Church was
the official state church. The founding fathers did not intend to remove public
recognition of a sacred canopy or “general religion.” This is why our
institutions had many public references to moral law based on Biblical texts.
It might be argued that materialists (who
believe that there is no reality beyond space, time, mater, and energy) embrace
a nontraditional religion based on faith in humanity, or nature. The founders
of the American republic did not assume that materialism was neutral and should
enjoy a tenured status in education, government, or the public square.
Why do conservative Christians try to legislate
“their morality” on everyone else?
of our nation’s values are reflected in our legislated rules. (sanctity of
private property, human rights, etc.)
values are often based on religious convictions. There should be no shame in
talking about the religious base for values but because we do not live in a
theocracy, we do not set our laws by “special revelation” (the Bible or private
debating public legislation in a pluralistic society it is necessary to keep
the arguments “secular”, based on “common sense”, “natural order”, “popular
preference”, etc. While religious convictions may energize values they are not
going to be persuasive in a secular public debate. When I disagree with
legislated values, I may feel coerced by those support those values. When I
agree with legislated values, I may see them as common sense.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
1. The world in which we live is the best
possible environment to showcase all the attributes of God through His people.
Injustice and tragedy demand and create an opportunity for a response. Love is
most dramatic when it is a response to being unloved. Courage finds meaning in
disappointment, hope in despair, faith in “the darkness” of not seeing the
2. Pain and suffering can challenge our
theology. Some things happen because we reap what we sow. Some things happen
because we are victims of the evil of others. It is fairly easy to excuse God
from these situations. It is when there is unjustified tragedy that is not
connected directly to human evil, that God’s nature comes into question.
3. It is foolish to assume that anyone is so
good as to deserve immunity from the fallout of a fallen world. Our relative
evaluation of others and ourselves creates a sense of entitlement that is
unwarranted from a broader perspective.
We can not know the reason for all
suffering nor do we have to assume that there is a reason for all suffering
that will be meaningful for us. God’s sovereignty does not imply that we will
or can understand His ways as rational to our minds and perspectives. His
perspective is at points beyond our purview.
Suffering gives us an opportunity to
share the suffering of Christ and thus know him, as we would not without
Suffering can teach us disciplines of
faith, courage, hope, love, etc. that can not be learned or displayed without
Fr. Tadros Malaty