Archive for the ‘Truth Matters’ Category

This week’s challenge is adapted from an objection sent by Doubting Eric:

You said that objective moral values are self-evidently true. How can we know this? Why would the fact that I intuit something to be true be considered evidence that it really is true? How would we be able to tell the difference between a truly objective moral value and a genetic adaptation that encourages moral behavior? They would both “feel” the same. You would “just know” that torturing babies for fun is wrong in the same way that you would if that was an objective moral truth. (The instinctual genetic origin of such a moral intuition or conscience could be easily demonstrated with examples from the wider animal kingdom.)

I don’t think we can tell the difference by our intuition. All we can really know is that WE PERSONALLY feel like this or that is the right thing to do. There is no reliable way of determining if there are moral values and duties that are actually objective.

Any ideas about how to respond to this one? Leave your thoughts below, then stick around for Thursday when we’ll hear Brett’s response.

Richard Dawkins Has Faith

Posted: June 25, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in God is Real, Truth Matters

…he just misdefines “religious” faith and contrast his faith in physicists with the alleged blind faith of believers.

Should we doubt those who say they have found truth? Brett answers this week’s challenge:

Are Ideas Like Santa Just Harmless Deceptions?

Posted: May 28, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in Truth Matters

James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries responds to Dan Savage’s anti-Bible tirade at a recent high school journalism conference:

Do Christians Bear the Burden of Proof?

Posted: May 7, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in God is Real, Truth Matters

Last weekend, I spoke at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon.  In between their first and second service, they host a time of Q & A called Redux. Here I answer the question, “Do Christians bear the burden of proof?”

Isn’t the infinite punishment of hell for a finite amount of sins an unjust punishment?  My answer to this week’s challenge:

*I will post my video responses to the blog comments later. Watch for the update!

UPDATE:  Here are my thoughts and responses to the blog comments…

Who Are You To Judge?

Posted: April 11, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in Do the Right Thing, Truth Matters

Drinking.  Premarital sex.  Abortion.  Homosexuality.  Same-sex marriage.  Christians have so many hang-ups with the behavior of non-Christians, don’t they?  It all seems so judgmental.  Christians have enough problems of their own, so why worry about others?  And even Jesus warned against this.  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1).  Who are Christians to judge others?

This common objection to Christianity packs some punch.  But why?  First, we’re swimming in a sea of moral relativism that prohibits any moral judgments (that is, if you want to be a consistent moral relativist).  Against this relativistic backdrop, to identify some behavior as morally wrong is itself wrong.  Hopefully you see the self-contradictory nature of this claim, but sadly, many do not as the muddled thinking of relativism blinds its adherents.

Second, tolerance, the one virtue relativists like to apply universally, is incompatible with moral judgments.  Mind you, this is the modern version of tolerance that claims all viewpoints are equally valid and therefore, no one’s moral views should be considered better than another’s (a further self-contradictory claim).  So modern tolerance is intolerant of moral judgments.  If tolerance is good, then judging is bad.

So how should Christians think about judging?  First, we must ask what one means by “judge.”  The dictionary distinguishes several definitions.  To judge can mean to pass legal judgment, like a judge sentencing a criminal at the conclusion of a courtroom trial.  Nothing wrong with this kind of judging.

To judge can also mean to form an opinion or conclusion about someone or something.  These are assessments or evaluations.  A coach judges the skill level of a player trying to make the team.  A mom judges the nutritional value of food she serves her family.  A plumber judges a clogged sink to fix it.  Such judgments or assessments are made all the time, everyday.  Again, nothing wrong with this kind of judging.

But Jesus definitely suggests some sort of judging is wrong, so what was He talking about?  Well, if you really want to know, never read a Bible verse.  To determine the meaning of a single verse, you must read the surrounding verses.  Context is king.  When we look at the rest of Matthew 7, we actually discover Jesus doing the very thing most Christians think He has forbidden.

In verse 6, He warns, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine…”  He calls out “false prophets” (v. 15) and says there will come a day when he will say to some, “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (v. 23).  Ouch, those are harsh moral judgments.  So clearly, not all judging is out-of-bounds for Jesus.

The context makes clear Jesus is after a particular kind of judgment:

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (vv. 2-5).

When Jesus warns “do not judge,” He doesn’t mean we should never assess moral behavior.  Rather, he warns against self-righteous and hypocritical judgments.  When you judge, take the log out of your own eye first.  Jesus is not saying it is never right to judge, He is explaining how we are to judge rightly.

Furthermore, Jesus’ instructions on judging are for individuals, not societies.  He is not arguing against the predominant moral views of any particular culture, insisting we adopt moral neutrality (which is a myth anyway).  His warning does not bar governmental authorities from judging behavior and dishing out punishment.  Jesus is addressing the personal behavior of believers.

Think about the logical consequences if we prohibit all moral judgments.  We could no longer declare child abuse, rape, injustice, theft, or racism to be wrong.  But these are obvious cases of moral ills.  If you were to experience any one of these, you would cry out for justice.  However, justice assumes a legitimate judgment.

Indeed, Jesus’ gospel starts with judgment:  “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).  Jesus points to the reality of our sin and the appropriate punishment—the bad news.  Thankfully, Jesus’ message ends with good news, His promise of mercy and forgiveness.  His just judgment is removed from our heads as “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We cannot point to Jesus as an example of one who did not judge.  Rather, He is an example that moral judgments are appropriate because there is an objective Moral Law given to us by a Law Giver, backed by His justice and love.  He is just because violation of His law results in appropriate punishment.  He is loving because obedience to His law results in human flourishing.

For the challenge this week, here’s a question sent to STR Place:

I believe that objective morality is one the strongest pieces of evidence for God. However, an Atheist approached me saying, “If morality is objective, how do you define murder and manslaughter? Where is the line? See? You can’t tell whether murder is right or wrong. So morality is subjective, even if you believe in God.”

How would I go about PROVING the objectivity of morals?

Go to it, STR Placers! How do you respond to this challenge? Give it a shot, and then we’ll hear Brett’s video answer on Thursday.