5 Top Articles That Spoke 2014

Raffaelo“One day I will find the right words,” wrote Jack Kerouac, “and they will be simple.” These 5 articles captured the days which I found almost the right words to express my thoughts. Unlike Kerouac, my thoughts are nothing but simple. Whether you agreed with me or not, it is my hope that I awoke the hunger to explore these wonderful issues in theology, philosophy and ethics.

  1. Digital UniverseA Major Divergence: Is Genesis 1 Creatio Ex Nihilo? & A Minor Divergence: Is Genesis 1 Creatio Ex Nihilo? A thorough defense of Genesis 1 as teaching creation out of nothing is found in a co-authored work, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, And Scientific Exploration (2004), by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. They, I will argue, also read this presupposition into Genesis 1. Copan and Craig presupposed that ancient Near East (ANE) also understood creation as defined by substance and properties, largely the material (and immaterial) properties. I think they are wrong. These two articles explained why they are wrong.
  1. Johannes_Moreelse_-_Democritus_-_Google_Art_ProjectNaturalness of Theism: This article presented empirical data showing that implicit belief in supernaturalism is nature. Atheism, namely disbelief in supernaturalism, as Pascal Boyer summed up, “is generally the result of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.” (Boyer 2008:1039)
  1. Human FoetusWhat is Wrong with Abortion? Is it immoral to deliberately end the life of a fetus? This article tackles the ethics of abortion. Exploring three theories of what exactly makes it immoral to kill one of us on most occasions, three philosophical arguments are offered to show why abortion, on most occasions, is immoral.
  1. 21 One-less-god-Poster FacebookDissecting ‘One God Less’ Meme: Contrary to Daniel C. Dennett (2006, 210), the idea that atheists just go one god further is not “some sound advice” offered by Dawkins (Dawkins 2004, 150) but a mere wind-egg because it confuses the conceptions of God with the concept of God.
  1. David HumeIIOn Behalf of Demea: Hume’s Problem of Evil: Treating Demea’s solution to the problem of evil not as a theodicy but as a defense, this article attempted not to postulate the Deity’s reason to permit such instances of pain and suffering but an attempt to show that existence of evil is compatible with the existence of an omnicompetent and benevolent Deity.

Thank you for 2014. Thank you for being part of With All I Am.

A Major Divergence: Is Genesis 1 Creatio Ex Nihilo?

Genesis“This is a real creation,” wrote David Hume, “a production of something out of nothing; which implies a power so great that it may seem at first sight beyond the reach of any being less than infinite.”(Hume 1881:343-4) Hume captured our modern and classical material ontology understanding of creation.  Coming into being, in our modern understanding, means acquiring material (or immaterial) properties. We intuitively presuppose that an entity was created if prior to the moment of its creation was not there. It is, thus, not surprising that we read this presupposition into Genesis 1’s creation account.

In their co-authored work, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, And Scientific Exploration (2004), Paul Copan and William Lane Craig also read this presupposition into Genesis 1. They presupposed that ancient Near East (ANE) also understood creation as defined by substance and properties, largely the material (and immaterial) properties. I think Copan and Craig are wrong in their presupposition. So one of the things I have to do is to explain why they are wrong¹.

It is said that any fruitful criticism of any writer must generally begin by finding some common ground. Copan and Craig are correct that the Holy Writ explicitly conveys creatio ex nihilo (John 1:3 and Romans 4:17 cf. 2 Maccabees 7:28 and 2 Enoch 24:2). My criticism ought not, thus, be understood as  questioning whether creatio ex nihilo is true. It is true. Where I diverge from Copan and Craig  is on viewing Genesis 1 as also teaching such a doctrine.

Continue reading

A Minor Divergence: Is Genesis 1 Creatio Ex Nihilo?


Does Genesis 1 explicitly (or implicitly) convey the idea of creatio ex nihilo? Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, holding the traditional understanding, believe it does. This article examined carefully the case presented in their co-authored work Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, And Scientific Exploration (2004). My aim is to test, by fairly balancing the considerations of the core arguments in their apologia, and judge whether that which is contended is true.

Creation out of Nothing is a book filled with nothing but beneficial information. Copan and Craig’s defense for creatio ex nihilo is not only persuasive but also sound when it comes to the areas of philosophy and science (2004:147-266). Their biblical defenses from all passages but Genesis 1 are both strong and cogent (ibid. 71-91). It is only in Genesis 1 where our ways part, like summer and winter. This difference ought not overshadow the large, if not almost all, parts of what I am in total agreement with Copan and Craig. Continue reading

The Truth about the God of the Old Testament

Copan Is God a Moral Monster

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Atheist Richard Dawkins’ infamous description of Yahweh in his book The God Delusion is enough to make most Christians’ blood boil. Unfortunately, we are not always well-equipped to calmly and reasonably respond to such vitriol. Dr. Paul Copan, a well-respected professor of philosophy, author, and speaker, notes that Christians shouldn’t ignore the charges of Neo-atheists like Dawkins. Rather, “As people of the Book, Christians should honestly reflect on such matters.”

Copan’s recent book, Is God a Moral Monster?, is one of my new favorites. Written for a lay audience, the provocatively titled work responds to atheists’ most frequent attacks against the Old Testament God:

  • God’s supposed arrogance and jealousy
  • The binding of Isaac
  • Strange Levitical laws
  • “Imaginary crimes” and excessive punishments
  • Treatment of women as inferiors
  • Slavery in Israel
  • The killing of the Canaanites

Right away Copan exposes a hole in atheists’ arguments: a tendency to skim the surface of biblical topics without looking deeply at the whole text and its historical context. He writes,

The Neo-atheists are often profoundly ignorant of what they criticize, and they typically receive the greatest laughs and cheers from the philosophically and theologically challenged….Their arguments against God’s existence aren’t intellectually rigorous—although they want to give that impression.

Misunderstanding God’s intentions and the nature of the ancient Near East, as well as failure (deliberate or otherwise) to constructively integrate passages throughout Scripture can lead people—both skeptics and believers—to develop a lopsided and fallacious view of God.

In going deeper, Copan demonstrates that the Old Testament reveals an infinitely patient and kind God who metes out justice fairly and vigorously defends the weak, oppressed, and alien. One of the things I appreciate most about Copan’s book is that he not only responds to atheists’ accusations, he helps readers better see God’s goodness and kindness. I wish I could share with you every gem I’ve come across in Is God a Moral Monster? but, I’ll stick to one example: the position and treatment of women in the Old Testament.

Sadly, chauvinism has reared its ugly head within the church—but is such behavior condoned and supported by Scripture? No, it is not. As Copan points out, from the very beginning, God established the equality of men and women as an ideal state. Both genders bear His image (Genesis 1:26–27). Following the Fall and the rise of patriarchal societies, God established laws in Israel that granted women rights and protection unprecedented in the ancient Near East. What may seem like unfair regulations at first glance (to modern eyes) are rules that prevented Israelite men from taking advantage of and abusing women. (Copan addresses several particularly difficult passages to show how, on closer inspection, they support a positive view of women, not negative.)

Mosaic laws aside, the Old Testament is replete with examples of strong female characters (think Sarah, Rebekah, Deborah, and Esther—just to name a few). Proverbs even portrays wisdom as a woman. Yet God never places women on pedestals; they are to be held responsible for their own actions, too. As a woman myself, it means a lot to me to see evidence of God’s regard for His daughters throughout the entire Scriptures. He values us highly and accords us respect and dignity.

In a recent interview with Reasons to Believe’s own philosopher, Kenneth Samples, Copan says he was inspired to write Is God a Moral Monster? in response to the accusations of atheists like Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris:

I’m trying to not shrink from the issues; I’m trying to be straightforward and frank about some of the challenges, some of the misunderstandings of these texts, and looking at the toughest texts that people will level at the God of the Old Testament.

In my view, Dr. Copan does an excellent job of addressing Old Testament difficulties with fair-mindedness, gentleness, and respect. I’d recommend the book to anyone, especially Richard Dawkins.

— Maureen

Resources: Be sure to catch Ken’s interviews with Paul Copan on Straight Thinking.

About Guest Contributor

MaureenMaureen Moser is an editor and blogger for Reasons to Believe (RTB), an organization dedicated to integrating science and faith. She is the managing editor for RTB’s print newsletter and scholar blogs and has completed editorial work on numerous RTB resources, including Christian Endgame and the Impact Events devotionals. A blessed wife and mother, Maureen is also an adventurous cook and a lover of Star Wars, Jane Austen, and peppermint tea.

Maureen’s article originally appeared at Reasons To Believe  and Take Two Blog.