Friday, November 30, 2007

A Skeptic’s Quest – My Testimony Part 1

I am probably the least likely person to be doing what I do and what I have done. You said, what do you mean? Over the years I have given more lectures to more students at more universities than anyone in history. In nineteen out of twenty universities we would have the largest crowds for lectures in the history of the university. We would go into a school like Stanford University, at the time rated the number one school in America, and in two nights we had five thousand students there and there are only six thousand in the university. Yet I am the most unlikely person to be doing this.

Let me give you the background. I grew up in a little tiny town in the state of Michigan, in my country. That is the one with all the lakes around it with a thumb going up right in the center to the top. My parents never went beyond the second grade. They had very poor grammar and they never corrected my grammar. I grew up and I still have very poor grammar. Most people don’t catch it because they have worse. I am sure my teachers taught good grammar but I never caught it.

When I was in the second grade they tried to switch me from being left handed to being right handed. I don’t mind being right handed. God is left handed. He is. The Bible says that ‘Jesus is sitting on the right hand,’ so God must be left handed. I grew up left handed. They tried to switch me from being left handed to right handed. I thought they were trying to do it because I was inferior. They didn’t tell me they were trying to help me to be better. One thing they did when I was in the second grade, in the afternoon for one hour, when everyone was out in recess playing, I had to go into this room twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, and a woman by the name of Mrs. Duall was to break me from being left handed.

I remember one of the ways she did it. We would sit at a little table and she would take a box of play blocks. She would dump them out on the table and very nicely she would say, “Josh build a house.” Under my breath, I would smile and say, “Build your own dumb house lady.” And then she would raise her voice, “JOSH, BUILD A HOUSE!” Then I would respond. It is kind of like your mother. Most kids know they don’t have to respond to their mother until her voice gets to a certain octave. When it gets to that certain octave, you take the trash out. When it gets to that certain octave, you clean your room. I always knew with Mrs. Duall, I did not have to respond until her voice got to a certain octave. I would reach out with my left hand to start building a house. She had a twelve inch wooden ruler. Every time I would reach out, she would take it and hit me across my knuckles and I would scream and then she would raise her voice and say, "Stop, think it through, do it with your right hand!”

A lot of people laugh at this. It caused a speech impediment. Whenever I was tired, nervous, or scared there was a mental block and I would stutter. When I was in third grade, which was what, 8 years old, it was third grade; I had to stand up and was supposed to recite the Gettysburg Address by the former President Lincoln. I couldn’t do it. Whenever I got in front of the crowd I would stutter. I remember the teacher kept saying, “Say it, say it, say it.” You talk about being embarrassed. I broke down crying and this is in third grade, 8 years old. I broke down crying and ran out of the room and I never forgot that. I grew up with a tremendous inferiority complex and thinking because I was left handed, I was less than somebody else who was right handed. However, I was so stubborn they could not break me. I was determined that just out of rebellion; I was going to stay left handed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where we get our truth?

One of the most frequent phrases we hear around us today is “well, if that is true for you, then good, just don’t push it on me”.

In the last two or three decades, postmodernism has edged out modernism as the prevailing mode of thought influencing our culture, casting a dark shadow over both reason and the scientific method. Postmodernism is a worldview that asserts that external, absolute truth—that is, a truth that is true for all people, in all places, and at all times—cannot be known through reason or science because truth is either nonexistent or unknowable.

Postmodern thought asserts that experience is more reliable than reason. Reason, claims the postmodernist, is fogged and contaminated by worldviews, prejudices, environment, and upbringing, all of which render it undependable as an instrument for grasping absolute truth. Therefore, says the postmodernist, the idea of truth is created rather than discovered. Postmodernists’ personal experiences define their needs and shape their answers to those needs. In spite of their belief that we can’t really know truth, they understand that all individuals must have some sort of working philosophy as a framework for their thought and values. Therefore they must create their own truths based on what works for them. In a nutshell, postmodernists say, “If it’s true for you, then it’s as true as it needs to be. And no one has the right to question what you have chosen as truth for yourself.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

What do we believe if there is no God?

Those who believe in a naturalistic universe claim that everything came into being without the activity of an external, supernatural first cause. Naturalists believe that random combinations of atoms just happened to bump into each other and stick together to form everything that exists. For naturalists, this view is the only possible explanation for the existence of the universe. Such a view cannot validate reason because when things collide and combine at random, the results must be considered irrational, meaning without reason.

Many naturalists with a postmodern bent have accepted that our very thinking is undependable. Others are still trying to have their cake and eat it too. They believe that the universe manifests order, reason, and objective reality in spite of its random and accidental origins. But, such a view is self-contradictory. People can hold it only if they have not thought out the problem to its obvious conclusion.

A naturalistic universe simply cannot supply from within itself a validation for the dependability of reason. Such a universe and everything in it must be considered accidental, random, and irrational, continually in a state of flux, change, and unpredictability. In such a universe there is no bedrock, no solid footing to support human reason. Reason must have its origin in a rational absolute that exists outside and above the natural universe or our claim to be rational creatures is not credible.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is Our Foundation for Life the Right One?

In the upcoming movie Expelled, Ben Stein points out that many universities are removing professors who believe in God. So how can we know if God is a valid foundation for our lives?

If our foundation for life is merely an unproven absolute, how can we know we are assuming the right absolute? You may assume naturalism; I may assume God. Since neither God nor naturalism can be proven by scientific methods, does this make one assumption just as good as the other? Not at all. Our empirical experience of the world provides a template that outlines the general shape of ultimate truth. We can use this template to identify the absolute that most consistently explains the reality we experience. Just as expert animal trackers can determine the species, size, and speed of a creature by reading its footprints, we can determine much about the absolute behind reality by its imprint in our world. We must make an assumption about the ultimate absolute, but not a blind assumption. Nature and our experience of reality provide more than enough evidence to justify a safe and confident assurance that truth is real and an ultimate absolute stands behind it.

Most people understand that if an ultimate absolute exists, it can be nothing short of God. But in today’s world, so many people have been brought up in an environment shaped by scientific naturalism and diffused by postmodernism that God is not too obvious to question. They either doubt his existence or totally deny it. But without God as the bedrock absolute, all possibility of objective truth collapses. Those who deny God must resign themselves to believing in an accidental, mechanistic universe devoid of truth, meaning, destiny, or purpose; or they must accept a world of illusion and uncertainty about reality itself.

For more information that addresses the questions raised in the Expelled movie, go to

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What’s Underneath the Foundations of Life?

Atheists like Philip Pullman, the writer of The Golden Compass, would have us believe that there is no God. If this is true, then what do we base our daily decisions on?

We believe it is right to help stranded motorists because we accept the validity of the maxim “do to others what you would have them to do to you.” We believe this maxim to be valid because it is rooted in our understanding that we are mutually dependent on each other for survival in a world filled with trouble and pain. We believe that we should take this mutual dependence seriously as necessary to survival because we accept without question the universal belief that society should be preserved. Virtually everyone accepts this truth as foundational. It is a universally assumed absolute adopted by all societies in all places and in all times.

Yet even this absolute stops one step short of being bedrock. Why should society be preserved? Who came up with that idea? Why does it matter? Why do we think we should believe it? Before we can trust even this seemingly obvious foundational truth to be really true, we must look beneath it to see if it has the bedrock support of an ultimate absolute. And if we find such an absolute, we can lay proofs aside and dig no deeper. We have reached the bedrock truth that must simply be accepted as a logical necessity too obvious to question.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finding God - The Ultimate Absolute

Commentaries on The Golden Compass tell us the movie tries to persuade kids that there is no God. This begs the question, that if there is no God, what is the foundation for our life?

The only safe way to determine whether our beliefs are true is to assure ourselves that they rest on a solid, dependable foundation. We must look beneath each belief, layer by layer, until we find the absolute that supports it. We place confidence in our beliefs in much the same way that we place confidence in our houses. We trust the second story because it is built on a strong and dependable first story. We trust the first story because it is built on a strong and dependable foundation. We trust the foundation because it is built on strong and dependable bedrock. We trust bedrock because—well, everyone trusts bedrock. It is futile to question bedrock or look beneath it for something more solid. Experience, reason, and intuition all tell us that bedrock is the builder’s ultimate answer to solidity. We’ve seen houses built on bedrock all our lives, and they are still standing. It would be silly to spend time and money to analyze bedrock by digging through it to prove what everyone already knows: bedrock is solid, dependable, and safe to build on. Bedrock is the builder’s absolute.

The process is the same when it comes to validating our deepest beliefs and convictions. Reason tells us to look beneath our beliefs layer by layer until at the bottom of the stack we find a foundational truth we feel we can safely assume to be true—a truth beyond empirical proof, a truth that we accept as necessary or too obvious to question.