Making miracles a live option…

A miracle’s probability greatly increases if “God’s existence” is part of the relevant background information, making miracles a live option. We shouldn’t decide in advance that miracles are impossible, particularly if (a) God exists and creates and has revealed himself in history, and, given this context, (b) there is good historical evidence to support such a miracle-claim.

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 1701

If writing with a goal implies propaganda…

If writing with a goalwhether it be evangelistic, apologetic, or didacticimplies propaganda, then all recorded history is propaganda … a work shouldn’t be dismissed simply because of the strong convictions of the writer. Should we discount the facticity or reliability of the accounts of Nazi concentration camp survivors simply because they passionately recount their story?

Paul Copan, from True For You, But Not For Me, p. 101

Theistic argument suggests various features about God…

Theistic arguments shouldn’t be considered in isolation from, but in combination with, one another. Bracketing the ontological argument (for a maximally great Being, whose nonexistence can’t be conceived), each successful theistic argument suggests various features about God:

Cosmological argument: A very powerful personal Cause of the contingent universe exists; the fact that the universe began to exist a finite time ago suggests a personal Agent who brought something from nothing.

Teleological argument: An intelligent designing—and thus personal-Agent exists, who intends certain ordered ends for creation. Though not every aspect of creation is orderly, such as the quantum world, order can incorporate and accommodate randomness.

Moral argument: A personal, intrinsically good Being exists-rather than a impersonal monistic “One” beyond all distinction and beyond good and evil.

Argument from consciousness: A supremely self-aware Being exists—rather than some abstract principle or force.

Argument from reason: A truthful, rational Being exists.

Argument from beauty: A beautiful and alluring Being exists.

Argument from religious experience: A transcendent, awe-inspiring Presence exists whom many persons have encountered, further reinforcing the weight of other theistic arguments.

Argument from miracles: An engaged, concerned personal Agent exists. If certain events—say, Jesus’ resurrection—are better explained within Israel’s religious context of divine activity rather than within a naturalistic one, we have reason for believing in the triune God. Although this is technically “special revelation,” we can still appeal to such miracles as publicly accessible and worthy of historical investigation.

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 1073

Scientism comes in two basic flavors…

Scientism, though, comes in two basic flavors. The strong version of scientism declares that only science can give us knowledge. The weak version sees science as the best path to knowledge. Scientism tends to assume that (a) nature is all the reality there is and (b) science is the (only) means of obtaining knowledge.

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 1604

Some guidelines for assessing rival views…

Generally speaking, we could propose some guidelines for assessing rival views. These criteria don’t necessarily receive equal weight; some will be clearer and more fundamental than others. For example, a worldview’s match-up with reality (#1) should be weighted more strongly than practical livability (#5). After all, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the claim that “Jesus makes me happy and gives me purpose” is sorely misguided and out of touch with reality. Continue reading

We can detect objective beauty…

Despite varying tastes, disagreements, and gray areas, we can detect objective beauty in the world. To reduce beauty to mere subjective judgments (“beauty is in the eye of the beholder”) is clearly false and counterintuitive. Consider obvious, staggering examples of beauty: New England’s fall foliage, Brazil’s Iguazu Falls, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on the Minnesota- Ontario border—or, more generally, crashing ocean waves, tropical sunsets, evergreen forests, glacial lakes, rugged mountains, new-fallen snow in the countryside, starry skies, deep canyons, coral reefs. Then consider the contrasts: a pile of tennis shoes or a junkyard. Furthermore, beautiful scientific theories aren’t subjective; this is evidenced by their yielding fruitful, accurate predictions. Additionally, art appreciators know people can be trained or attuned to detect and grasp subtle beauty and elegance—just as logic and humility are needed to grasp and appreciate philosophical and theological truths

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 1386

The charge of “bias” is often truth-avoidance…

Thankfully, the New Testament authors wrote out of personal devotion and zeal for Christ, who had transformed their lives. Their passion didn’t undermine their objectivity or twist the truth— no more so than did the passion of Auschwitz survivors Elie Wiesel or Viktor Frankl, who wrote with both fervor and penetrating insight about their experience and the human condition. Whether Holocaust survivors or New Testament witnesses, we’re drawn to their writings precisely because they couldn’t stop speaking about what they’d seen and heard. The charge of “bias” is often a truth-avoidance tactic, and the critic is still left holding his own bundle of arbitrary biases that needn’t be taken seriously. No, certain perspectives (“biases”)—even passionate ones—can be accurate, and we can many times recognize those that we should dismiss and others that we should affirm.

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 49

True philosophy encompasses all wisdom…

True philosophy encompasses all wisdom and includes—indeed finds its climax in—God’s revelation to us in Jesus of Nazareth, Wisdom incarnate—a wisdom that comes not through unaided reason, but by amazing grace.

Paul Copan, from Loving Wisdom, kindle location 63