Apologetic Resources

Here are just some of the great resources I’ve found over the years, and here they are in no particular order (compiling this short list here does not necessarily mean I wholly subscribe to all the associated groups or persons’ theology, just that they have some very important things to say that are nevertheless, worthwhile and valuable):

mdaxresdefault (1)John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, is an internationally renowned speaker on the interface of science, philosophy and religion. He regularly teaches at many academic institutions including the Said Business School, Wycliffe Hall and the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, as well as also being a Senior Fellow with the Trinity Forum. He has written a series of books exploring the relationship between science and Christianity and he has also participated in a number of televised debates with some of the world?s leading atheist thinkers.

 

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Here is John Lennox debating with Richard Dawkins – you’re going to need to get comfortable with a drink and a biscuit to listen to this:

 

World-class apologist William Lane Craig at Reasonable Faith.  This site aims to  about-img-2provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious Christian perspective on the most important issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith today, such as:

the existence of God

the meaning of life

the objectivity of truth

the foundation of moral values

the creation of the universe

intelligent design

the reliability of the Gospels

the uniqueness of Jesus

the historicity of the resurrection

the challenge of religious pluralism

I particularly enjoyed Protestant Craig’s recent 2018 discussion with the really excellent Catholic evangelist and scholar Bishop Robert Barron:

 

Alistair McGrathAndreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford 

846University; Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford; Author of some of the world’s leading textbooks in Christian theology; Extensive research interests in the field of science and religion, is a well known theologian and apologist, has a website with all sorts of resources here.  I recently welcomed him into his parking space at London School of Theology for an evening talk he gave on C. S. Lewis and evangelism.

 

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Don’t even ask me where I had to park my car!

 

Closer To Truth presents the world’s greatest thinkers exploring humanity’s deepest questions. Discover fundamental issues of existence. Engage new and diverse ways of thinking. Appreciate intense debates. Share your own opinions. Seek your own answers.

Closer To Truth’s resource-rich website features over 4,000 video interviews with world-renowned scientists and philosophers searching the vital ideas of existence. It is the definitive source for cosmos, consciousness and meaning (God), exploring profound questions of universe, brain/mind, religion, and the search for ultimate reality and purpose.

 

Catholic apologist Brandon Vogt has a great site called Strange Notions.  Vogt tells us this is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: reason, faith, and dialogue. You’ll find articles, videos, and rich comment box discussion concerning life’s Big Questions. . . . We’ve all seen the nastiness and anger that plague most religious discussions online. It’s unavoidable. Myriad sites exist solely to bash Christianity—specifically Catholicism—and other [Christian] sites take aim at atheists. So if you’re looking for an echo chamber, or a good laugh at someone else’s expense, you have plenty of options.  He also writes under his own name here.

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Brandon Vogt is associated with Bishop Robert Barron, founder at Word on Fire ministries, again a fantastic evangelical Catholic resource with the highest quality teaching on theology, atheism, the contemporary world and tons of other stuff.  Bishop Barron also has a very popular YouTube channel here.

 

 

Justin Brierley hosts the excellent podcast and website Unbelievable?  Asking questions such as:

  • Is there evidence for God? Can we trust the Bible? Did Jesus rise from the dead?
  • Justin tackles these and other issues, on a show that gets Christians and non-believers talking to each other.

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UK evangelist Glen Scrivener has a missional website called Speak Life with all sorts of things to help equip Christians, including these great videos.  Here’s the excellent 3-2-1 film Glen produced a few years ago, also check out his Christmas and Halloween vids too – great!

 

No-one can accuse Peter Hitchins of being gullible!  Over at Premier Christianity he explains his journey from atheism to Christian faith, the account of which is told in his excellent book:  The Rage Against God.

 

I bumped into him crossing a zebra crossing a couple of years ago in Oxford.  No one was hurt!

 

David Bentley Hart is an American Eastern Orthodox theologian of the highest order.  He’s all over the internet, especially First Things and YouTube.  He has authored many outstanding books including Atheist Delusions and The Experience of God.  

 

 

Below is an interview in which he discusses atheism’s best arguments.  This Thomist line of enquiry is so important today because it is rare indeed that much of what passes for “atheism” even knows what it is opposing or rejecting when attempting to challenge “Christianity.”

 

C. S. Lewis was influenced by G. K. Chesterton and both intellectuals came to Christian faith – Lewis Anglican and Chesterton Catholic – and they each wrote now famous accounts of the why and wherefore of Christianity.  Lewis wrote Mere Christianity and Chesterton wrote Orthodoxy – both masterpieces in their own right.

 

 

Below is a very clever YouTube clip of C. S. Lewis wring about Religion and Science, from his book God in the Dock.

 

The psychologist Jordan Peterson is now very well known for his biblical lectures, which can all be found free online.  It is the way he narrates the ancient biblical text into his methodology, taking it with far more seriousness and credibility than most of what passes for atheism today; a pop-culture atheism that shows time and again it is out of its philosophical and theological depth.  Below is a great analysis of Peterson by the above named Bishop Robert Barron:

 

From the Reformed evangelical tradition comes the Theology Network site, a product of the UCCF, a UK based inter-denominational Christian education ministry.  From their website we read:  “Such is the vision of Theology Network: to unleash the best biblical teaching so that students and all users might come to know and love the Lord Jesus in deeper, life-changing, mission-igniting ways. We’re inviting you to read and listen, to engage your head, your heart, and your will. We’re inviting you to our little gospel centre that you might know God better, love Jesus more, and join the revolution that is doing theology.”

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Josh McDowell’s ministry was probably the first I ever came across as a young, bewildered adult Christian (I remember my dad devouring his book ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ soon after he came to (mid-life) saving faith in the 1980’s).  The Apologetics section of Josh McDowell’s website josh.org is packed with great resources.

When I lived in Cairo, Egypt, I attended a great talk by Josh at the big Evangelical Egyptian Church Kasr El-Dobara in Downtown Cairo (the City Centre, if like me, you’re a Brit).  My youngest child Samuel, then 8 years old (2005), was with me and because we were all new to the missionary/Cairo scene was on my lap the whole time (about two hours of lecture).  Afterwards Josh was kind enough to commend me for “the lovely nurturing of my child” – something I’ve never forgotten – so thanks!

He has also authored a great PDF resource called the ‘Bibliographical Test‘ that I’ve used in teaching:

“The bibliographical test examines manuscript reliability and for more than a generation, Christian apologists have employed it to substantiate the transmissional reliability of the Bible. The bibliographical test compares
the closeness of the Old and New Testament’s oldest extant manuscripts to its autographs (the date each book was originally penned) and the sheer number of the Biblical extant manuscripts with the number and earliness of extant manuscripts or other ancient documents like Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus and so on. Since the Bible outstrips every other ancient manuscript in sheer number and earliness to the autograph, then the
Old and New Testaments have a solid basis to evaluate how accurately they have been transmitted.”

 

Over at Ben Myers blog Faith and Theology, Kim Fabricius offers ten thoughts on the new-atheists, and invites “them” to consider certain matters that might otherwise have been ignored or overlooked.  In fact his entire set of Propositions have been published and are a most excellent and edifying read.

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Ten propositions on Richard Dawkins and the new atheists

Here’s a snippet of one of his “Propositions”:

“…Professor Dawkins is not just angry with Christians, with particular dismay at scientists who are Christians, who, of course, are huge flies in his ointment (at the word “Polkinghorne” he grinds his teeth). Dawkins also gets angry with fellow scientists on scientific matters. One of his most bitter and public altercations was with the late Stephen Jay Gould, the famous Harvard palaeontologist. The religious affairs correspondent Andrew Brown wrote a book documenting this rabies biologorum: it’s called The Darwin Wars. So you’ve got to be fair to Dawkins, he is evenly balanced: he has a chip on both shoulders.”

Postscript:   Whilst editing this post ready for publishing, I heard that Kim had unexpectedly died.  Our deepest sympathies to his family and his army of followers whom he strengthened with genuine theological education and a mass of humour!!

 

thinkgodMy former tutor and Vice-Principal at Bristol Baptist College, Rev. Dr. Ernest Lucas is a scientist and a biblical scholar.  He has written an extremely accessible conversational style book on Christian faith and modern science called ‘Think God, Think Science’ and can be purchased for the price of three Flat Whites brand new, or for second hand, with whatever you can dredge from the sofa!   Here is a paper he has written entitled ‘The Bible, Science and Creation‘.

 

How To Argue About Politics

The Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday called for a General Election on June 8th (despite saying she would do no such thing).  We will doubtless hear political discourse, expert or otherwise, reach for new levels of over-blown rhetoric, unattainable promises and outlandish threats that go beyond even apocalyptio-dystopio proportions.

Politics is necessary and sometimes interesting, but of late it is rather like trying to fit the glass shoe on the feet of one of the Ugly Sisters….even if it fits, it’ll be the wrong foot!

Having said that, arguing and getting your point of view across, is a dying art in a world of fake news, opinionated blatherers and general social media swampery.  In our current political system, we often have soundbites and slogans; character assassinations; ridicule and dismissive gesturing.  Who really wants to be the winner in all this?  Afterall, even if the Ugly Sister did manage to squeeze into the tiny glass shoes of another….she would still be ugly!!!

I am reading through Gary Gutting’s book What Philosophy Can Do, and right from page one, he outlines the sheer practical force of philosophy as it relates to many areas of life.  He starts with politics, hence the opening quote below, but he goes on to tackle Science, Capitalism, Education, Art, Religion, Economics and Agnosticism. 

I hope the quote below helps others to think more clearly about what we say and how we say it; what we know and what we don’t know; for example, there’s a world of difference between “freedom of thought” and “correctness of thought”.

20170419_092639“Taking examples from recent political debates, this chapter explains and illustrates important logical principles and distinctions needed for effective argumentation.  

We first distinguish between real and bogus arguments and then discuss and illustrate the Principle of Charity, which shows how fairness to opponents can make arguments more compelling.

Next, we examine the distinction between deductive and inductive arguments, and, regarding inductive arguments, explore the essential but often neglected Principle of Relevant Evidence.

The following section introduces the notion of convictions (and the related notions of pictures).  Both concepts will have major roles in later chapters.  Reflection on the part convictions play in arguments will lead to an important distinction between what is logical and what is rational.

Two further sections explore arguments between people who are equally competant on a given topic (epistemic peers), leading to a distinction between freedom of thought and correctness of thought, and an analysis of the logic of disagreement.

Finally, we consider the value of arguments that fail to convince anyone else, formulating a Principle of Self-Understanding.”

pg.1 (all italics original).

(Davidic Aphorisms Pt.1)  “Personally, I prefer the Hegelian distinction between true and spurious infinity.”

(Davidic Aphorisms Pt.1) “Personally, I prefer the Hegelian distinction between true and spurious infinity.”

What follows will not make immediate sense, or even later sense.  But I’ve discovered that comment threads by my brother David on the Guardian newspaper website (no less), are a work of art.  They are (or have become) a bunch of genuine aphorisms that will betray a sense of the sublime in the ordinary.  It’s not easy to say this, since he is my brother after all, but they have made me laugh out loud, despite their often serious points, and they deserve a wider audience…..

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While cooking is a pleasure, and eating it even more so, Ellen is right to highlight the kind of narrowing of horizons that poverty engenders. Clearly many middle-class people work as hard, if not harder, than poor people, but the point is that having access to cash or credit greatly expands the range of options and a sense that life has a purpose for yourself and your family. Being poor strips away many of the motivations for living healthily because, well, what’s the point in trying. It’s not an excuse, but it might go some way to explaining why poor people eat worse more generally.

It’s weird how the most violent people and the most anti-violent people share the common characteristic of having no sense of humour.  The world would be a better place if we just felt freer to take the piss out of each other more of the time.

What you’re saying only makes sense if you thought that religious belief was automatically opposed to evolutionary science, which I don’t think it is. As with Genesis, its the meanings to which it has been put (racism for one) that is important. It’s all about interpretation.

Nietzsche would be disgusted.

And yet, by the same logic, christian bakers are obliged to bake cakes celebrating gay marriage because to not do so is discrimination. It seems oddly inconsistent…

What I love about philosophy is the way it unsettles our commonsense view of reality. Everything, even the most mundane, is up for grabs. If only I could find a way to teach it in schools, colleges or universities! I’d do it for peanuts if I could.

Not being funny, but I’d hazard the guess that you haven’t read much theology, have you?

Hard to know what to think about this, its either an interesting way of revealing unconscious bias towards belief, or completely fatuous. Either way, I wouldn’t say it, not because I have a superstitious belief in the power of words, but because I don’t think it’s a relevant way to pray (mainly because I believe that God is love).

Maybe, but it is possible that you have misjudged the situation somewhat. I’m not convinced that having low expectations/aspiration is automatically connected to a sense of entitlement by virtue of being male and white (that is a bit of a leap, and not one which I feel is justified). Not seeing the relevancy of striving in school could more easily be explained by a sense that striving academically is a potential cul-de-sac career wise. Speaking for myself, it never entered my head to strive for anything beyond factory/shop work because I didn’t know anyone in my social circle who did anything different. My experience may not be exemplary in this, but I think that the idea that white boys have low expectations because they feel entitled (for what and by whom?) simply because of their ethnicity and gender is a bit bizarre and insulting.

Possibly the issue is not so much that you commented on white males being inherently privileged, but that you suggested that young, working class white boys had imbibed this privilege and had a sense of the entitlement which reality failed to deliver on.

In my own experience as someone who grew up working-class, it is the sense of entitlement that I encounter in the middle-class (male and female) which strikes me as the greatest difference between us and them.

To be honest, I see your point, it is repellent, but it accurately describes the reality.

Being poor sucks!

Personally, I prefer the Hegelian distinction between true and spurious infinity (the former being a dialectical relation, the latter a mere endless progression onwards and upwards). Hegel’s true infinity is quite similar to the Kantian infinitude of aesthetic judgement.

One thing I love about Kant is that he was intelligent enough to recognise that the most important questions can be convincingly argued as either yes or no.

I’m a christian, and I have no idea what you’re on about.  I also choose not to wear a poppy because it clashes with my red eyes. Freaks people out.

Well, I enjoyed the article at least. Star Wars may not be Macbeth – and Lucas is no Shakespeare – but as a massively popular story, its interesting to analyse it this way.

I strongly doubt that robots will ever replace humans in any significant way.

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