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March 21, 2016 / BTM

20 b4 twenty: The Basic Facts that Everyone Agrees on About Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

This is the sixth post in a series on the twenty things everyone should know before they reach the age of twenty.

Something you must know by the time you reach twenty is that there are five minimal facts that virtually all New Testament scholars – Christian or skeptic – agree to be strongly evidenced and historical concerning the death and alleged resurrection of Jesus. These facts have been established through the same methods scholars would use to validate information in any other book of antiquity.

These five facts are not disputed by the overwhelming majority of experts.

Someone who refuses to accept these minimal facts is taking a position that even the majority of skeptical (non-Christian) New Testament scholars in this field (the people who should know) will reject. In that case, the burden of proof (the requirement to prove their point) is on the skeptic’s shoulders, not yours.*

With no further ado, here are the five strongly evidenced facts about Jesus death and alleged resurrection:

Read more…

March 11, 2016 / BTM

Before You Reach Twenty, You Need to Know What Scientific Evidence Exists to Support the Existence of God

god evidence

Before you reach the age of twenty, it is important to know that there is a substantial list of scientific discoveries which point in the direction of the existence of God, or at least of some sort of a supreme being that exists outside of time, space, and energy.

Your faith shouldn’t be a house of cards: remove one card and the whole thing falls down. There are a number of lines of evidence that together provide a strong argument for at minimum the possibility that God exists. I suggest that God is the most likely explanation to account for all of the lines of evidence laid out in the list.

But before I give you that list, it is important to understand a few things about it:

Knock ’em down proof

There is no one single piece of evidence that is a ‘knock ‘em down’ absolute, undeniable proof for the existence of God.

There is likewise no ‘knock ‘em down’ absolute, undeniable proof against the existence of God (i.e. that undeniably supports atheism).

I get the impression that many people, particularly atheists, are looking for such an overwhelmingly positive piece of evidence to prove the existence of God. Outside of God performing some sort of an undeniable miracle, we will never possess such an absolute piece of evidence.

But the logical reaction to this isn’t a retreat into atheism because science can’t say that it has discovered the final truth about anything either.

Read more…

February 24, 2016 / BTM

20 b4 twenty: How scientists can come to different conclusions using the same evidence

same evidenceThis is the fourth part of a series called 20 b4 twenty which lays out the twenty issues that every Christian should know before he or she reaches the age of twenty.

So far I’ve stressed that before you reach the age of twenty you need to know…

what can and can’t be said about ‘Truth’

that ‘faith’ isn’t blind, irrational, or opposed to reason (regardless of how the dictionary defines the term); and

if science and faith are irreconcilable.

The fourth thing you need to know before you reach twenty is the key evidence that all scientists must account for to explain the origin of the universe, and the origin of life, the species, and humans, and how scientists come to different conclusions using the same evidence.

As this is WAY too much for one post to cover, I have limited the topic for this post to how scientists come to different conclusions using the same evidence for the origin of the universe as an example (and its still pretty long!).

Read more…

February 4, 2016 / BTM

Three arguments you’ll face on why faith and science are incompatible

scifaith

Before you reach the age of twenty, I guarantee you will hear one or all of the following reasons why faith and science are incompatible:

  • Most scientists are atheists (implying that science and faith don’t mix).
  • Science is about facts and empirical evidence. Faith is about feelings, moral meaning, and value. (Implying that science and faith have no areas of intersection)
  • Science doesn’t need God to explain anything (implying that God and faith have no place in science).

Let’s kick the tires of these arguments to see how well they stand up.

 

Read more…

January 27, 2016 / BTM

20 b4 twenty: Does Faith Have to be Blind, Irrational and Opposed to Reason?

faith.

20 b4 twenty

This is the second of twenty points that I think every person should learn before they reach twenty.

One of the things that every young person should understand before they reach the age of twenty is that there is a war on the word ‘faith’. It is because of this war that faith is often viewed as the opposite of reason, intelligence, and the ‘scientific mind’.

Consider how ‘faith’ is defined in the dictionary.

For example, the online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘faith’ in the following way [1]:

  1. allegiance to duty or a person:  loyalty:  fidelity to one’s promises:  sincerity of intentions;
  2. belief and trust in and loyalty to God:  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion:  firm belief in something for which there is no proof [emphasis added]:  complete trust;
  3. something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially:  a system of religious beliefs.

Notice that faith holds the connotation of believing in something for which there is no proof. Based on this definition of ‘faith’, it is perfectly reasonable for an atheist or skeptic to conclude that religion (‘faith’) is opposed to science (which is more interested in ‘facts’). And this is just what they have done.

“The whole point of faith is to believe regardless of the evidence, which is the very antithesis of science.” Michael Shermer

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” Richard Dawkins

These are pretty heavy accusations against Christianity – or faith of any stripe. I also think the accusations are logical if we accept the definition of faith as described above.

But is the definition of ‘faith’ – belief in something for which there is no proof – really accurate for Christian faith, or for any use of the word ‘faith’ for that matter? When you say that you have faith in someone – God, your mother, the government, your doctor – is it because you have no proof of their reliability, or because of the proof of their reliability?

Read more…

January 15, 2016 / BTM

20 b4 twenty: What can and can’t be said about ‘Truth’

 

truth.

The new emphasis of the Beyond Teachable Moments blog is a concept I’ve named ‘20 b4 twenty’. 20 b4 twenty refers to the twenty most important faith-related issues I believe young people need to understand before they reach the age of twenty. This is the list of issues that we want our children to know and understand by the time they are twenty.

Over the next twenty weeks, I’ll introduce you to each of the twenty issues in the list. I will then blog more specifically about each issue in future posts in random order. This way I will be able to keep some variety in the posts, rather than trying to comprehensively cover one issue at a time.

20 b4 twenty logo

First up: Truth

I don’t think anyone can begin to purposefully build an unshakeable faith without first talking about the nature of ‘truth’. Questioning the existence, value, and know-ability of truth is a recent phenomenon in Western society and has completely upended the way we think and reason.

Can we know if truth exists? Is truth relative (true for some but not for others), absolute (ie: true for everyone, everywhere, and at all times), or somewhere in between?

This is one of the most foundational challenge that our society faces because how we answer it will shape much of the rest of our thinking around every other question we ask.

Common ideas about truth that are often taught in high school or college/university include: Read more…

January 7, 2016 / BTM

The Best Bets for Purposefully Building Unshakeable Faith

best bets image.

Happy 2016 everyone!

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few months about what I want to accomplish in order to purposefully build unshakeable faith in our two boys. I am always considering what I want them to know by the time they leave home (which I am conveniently ball parking at 20 years old!).

This means that I only have 10 years left with our oldest son.

That might induce some of you to roll your eyes. Ten years? Tons of time!

But, if you are a parent, think about how fast that first 10 years went by. If you’re anything like me, the answer is: FAST.

Through conversation with like-minded people, some internet research, and a lot of thinking, I’ve decided on a three-part go-forward plan for my own work with our kids which will naturally become the focus of the BTM blog site.

Read on to see what is ahead for BTM in 2016 and beyond.

Read more…

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