Can a person be good without God?

A common theme among Christian writers is that God is the ultimate source of morality, often called “the moral argument”. Probably the pithiest expression of this idea is from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, in which one of the characters argues that “if God does not exist, … everything is permitted.” Many readers quickly see where this is going and consider the reverse; if morality is not just a matter of personal taste, then God must exist. Of course this is only a superficial treatment; a more thorough presentation of the moral argument, along with responses to some common objections, is found in the first chapters of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. It’s available in a YouTube version here which I recommend highly.

However one puts it, claiming that morality comes from God is a good way to pick a fight. There is a widespread belief Continue reading “Can a person be good without God?”

How do we determine historical reliability?

In my previous post, I started to explore the question of “historical reliability” but got sidetracked into a variety of related issues.  To recap, there’s a spectrum of thought about whether historical accounts in the Bible are completely reliable or totally useless, or something in-between.

My own faith in Jesus Christ is built on the Gospels having met, in my judgment, enough of the criteria for historical reliability to make me believe that the main events (the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the basic outline of His teachings, the idea that He worked miracles) actually happened.  I don’t claim perfection for these documents, but as the phrase goes, if even half of what they said about this guy is true, Continue reading “How do we determine historical reliability?”

Is Christianity easy or hard?

Today is Saturday and this morning my intention had been to sleep late after a long week.  As is sometimes the case, I found myself partially awake (I was going to say half-awake, but upon reflection it felt closer to three-fourths awake) far earlier than I wanted to be and resolved that if I just stayed put I would eventually fall back asleep.  This is indeed what happened, but some thoughts came to me during that partially awake period that remained with me when I woke up for good a few hours later.  I don’t remember the path of my thoughts, but I was thinking about life, and God, and what I should be doing, and whether I should write about it, and my mind was drawn towards this saying Continue reading “Is Christianity easy or hard?”

Is it wrong to doubt?

In this post I am finishing up a three-part series on dealing with doubts. The first post asked whether Christianity’s claims depend on evidence and can be falsified, and answered in the affirmative. The second post went through one recent example of how unfavorable new evidence can come to light and, if one processes it honestly, “move the needle” adversely in terms of one’s faith. Here I will share some further thoughts Continue reading “Is it wrong to doubt?”

If God loves me, where is He?

In one of my old posts on the problem of suffering, I told of a memory of when I was three, and my mom washed my hair, I hated the process and thought she was going to drown me.  The point was to see the analogy of God as our parent, and that when we have trouble reconciling His professed love for us with the suffering that He allows to exist, we should keep in mind that our inability to resolve a theological difficulty (and the problem of suffering is the grand-daddy of them all) and understand the full picture does not mean that there isn’t a perfectly good reason known to God.

One of the possible rejoinders to this line of thinking (and over they years I’ve heard many, and even come up with some of my own), is that Continue reading “If God loves me, where is He?”

Why hasn’t this blog been updated for a while?

Technically, this blog post has a question-and-answer format, but it’s a break from the usual attempt to pose a question that someone might have about the Christian faith and propose an answer.  Instead, I’d like to take a moment to comment on the state of this blog.

The gap of almost two years since the last post has several reasons behind it.

First, it was getting Continue reading “Why hasn’t this blog been updated for a while?”

Does religion do more harm than good?

I can appreciate the reasons why some find it difficult to believe what I believe, or even to believe in God at all. Throughout this blog, I’ve engaged the big questions around this issue, but in this post I am concerned with a secondary topic. Whether my religion, or anyone’s religion, does more harm than good is a different question from whether it is true or false, but it is important in its own right. Continue reading “Does religion do more harm than good?”

Does man make God in his own image?

Genesis 1:27 proclaims that God created man in His own image.  For reasons discussed in other posts on this blog (such as this one), I don’t automatically assume any statement is true just because it appears in Genesis, but in this case I think the text alludes to a great truth.

My purpose with this post, however, is not to dig into the text of Genesis specifically.  Rather, I wish to discuss the question of whether God made man in His image, or vice versa, without presupposing Continue reading “Does man make God in his own image?”

Do people believe in God just because their parents did?

Occasionally I’ve heard a simplistic argument against belief in God that goes something like this: “You believe in God just because your parents did.”  The usual implication (either explicit or left unstated) is that any arguments in favor of God’s existence that I might offer would be biased, and therefore do not need to be considered by the listener on their merits.  This type of argument is commonly classified as ad hominem circumstantial, and labeled fallacious because one’s disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false.  (In an essay on this topic, Continue reading “Do people believe in God just because their parents did?”

Is evolution in conflict with Christianity?

According to my own definitions of each term, no, evolution and Christianity are not in conflict. However, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is rejected by approximately half of self-described Christians in the U.S. (according to surveys).  The most conservative churches take explicit stands against the theory.  The Catholic Church and most mainline Protestant denominations, however, find evolution and Christianity to be compatible (for example, a vast number of Christian clergymen and women have signed here).  In general, those individuals and churches who Continue reading “Is evolution in conflict with Christianity?”