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?”

Should Christians be vegetarians?

Before considering whether Christians should be vegetarians, let’s look a closely related question. Was Jesus Christ a vegetarian?  The answer to one question does not automatically provide the correct answer to the other – for example, one could ask whether Jesus worked as a carpenter, celebrated Jewish holidays, and claimed to be the Son of God (He did, but that doesn’t mean Christians should do the same) – but in thinking through moral questions it’s certainly a good place to start.

According to the Gospels, Jesus Continue reading “Should Christians be vegetarians?”

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?”

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?”

Does prayer achieve results?

Each person who believes in Jesus as the Son of God has different reasons for doing so.  I’ve summarized mine here and discussed them at length throughout the blog.  For some people, their personal experiences with prayer provide support for their belief in Jesus.  For others, such as myself, the relationship works more in the reverse.  I believe in the power of prayer because I believe in the authority of Jesus (on other grounds).  As such, I do not consider myself especially qualified to write about prayer.  Nonetheless, Continue reading “Does prayer achieve results?”

Why won’t God heal amputees?

This question has become a popular one for dedicated nonbelievers to ask, rhetorically of course, because it challenges the Christian conception of God on several fronts simultaneously. Christians believe that God exists, that God is good, that God hears and answers prayers, that God loves us, and that God enjoys healing people. Continue reading “Why won’t God heal amputees?”

Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?

Many of the social issues in our media and politics today – abortion and gay marriage for example -are topics on which Jesus never spoke directly, at least not in any case that was recorded in the Gospels. Christians can consult other books of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in order to try to draw the correct conclusions on these issues.  However, without direct teaching from Jesus, there is always going to be sincere disagreement.

One social issue on which Jesus did speak directly, however, Continue reading “Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?”

Why doesn’t God just reveal Himself to everyone?

Time and again, we’re told that God wants us to believe in Him.  Yet it must be admitted that God does not make Himself obvious to all of us.  In response, it can be said that God is not a physical being and therefore does not exist at a particular location and is therefore not naturally visible to our eyes or audible to our ears.  However, that is inconsistent with the claim that if God so chooses (for example, on this occasion), He is capable of revealing Himself visibly and audibly, as one would expect from an omnipotent being.

Furthermore, focusing on eyes and ears just Continue reading “Why doesn’t God just reveal Himself to everyone?”