In this episode, Kurt interviews the speakers from the “Discovering Truth in an Age of Opinion” Conference.
Kurt: Well, a good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of veracity hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics and society. We are here doing a live episode of veracity Hill, not in studio but on site at the discovering truth conference in Dyer, Indiana, very pleased to partner with the village church of Dyer to put on this weekend conference. And as you can see, we have most of us are wearing a whitish grey Cisco kind of stands out a little bit, I guess. Yeah, making a statement, the color, he’s got the color there, everyone else says shades white, or gray or black. So we’ve got some great speakers here this weekend. And we’ve had just a wonderful opportunity to present the case for Christianity through a number of different perspectives and lenses and aspects within the apologetics world. And I’m sure you all have enjoyed your time this weekend, I hope. (Applause) Great, wonderful. All right now as we’ve been doing, through the program we have for texting questions, I’ll be surveying and filtering through a number of questions. This is your opportunity. We could have called this we call it a panel discussion how boring and Cisco I know we were going over a title talks for your session, but maybe we could call it ask an apologist. So this is your opportunity to ask us questions. And maybe we’ll have some some of us answer the same question to maybe different perspectives on that. So you can send in sort of anything in general that you think is apologetics. And the perk of the system here is that I’ll be able to see which questions might be good for, for which speaker. So that’ll be good to bring those in. So we’ve already got someone who’s got a question here. And this will be for Ted, we’ll start off here. 78430, Ted’s got his own mic from the last session. All right. Did the Romans take the Ark of the Covenant, as the Arch of Titus shows?
Ted: No, the Arch of Titus does not show the Ark of the Covenant actually correction. It shows the the menorah, the great gold menorah in the temple. We have extensive historical historical evidence, the Romans did destroy the temple in Jerusalem in the first century from Titus invests Bayesian, and was a father and son. And when best Bayesian, you know, when he wanted to commemorate this event, he actually built an Arch of Triumph. And as I mentioned in the previous session, some of you are hidden here, if you’re not in here, there was an Italian archaeologist working a few years ago and deciphered some new texts found in some of the inscriptions in the Colosseum in Rome. And through some research discovered that the gold that the Romans had gleaned from the tabernacle because they because they melted the gold in it when they destroyed the temple. They brought that gold back into the treasury of Rome, and it was a down payment for the building the Colosseum in Rome. And they built the Arch of Titus in abyss faciem in Rome, and on the one side of it, it shows the 10th Roman legion carrying the gold Minora. But it does not show the Ark of the Covenant. We were just talking about that earlier. If, if big if the Ark of the Covenant exist, existed in the first century, it likely would have been carried to the area of the Dead Sea around the same community. There were three branches of Judaism in the first century, there were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. And his scenes had separated themselves from the Judaism in the temple services in Jerusalem, and they even had their own entrance into Jerusalem in the south part of the city. Herod actually built the Aseem gate, so that have a separate gate. And it this is, this is historical conjecture, based on was no way to prove this in one way or the other. But if the Ark of the Covenant existed at all, in the first century, during the Roman period, then it would have been possibly taken by the Jews in Jerusalem, to the south and the Dead Sea area where the assays were and they would have asked the Essenes to go hide this because the Romans are coming. And the reason why we know that Well, the reason why we think that may have been the case is because of something called the copper scroll. The copper scroll was one of the latter discovers the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it describes some of the temple artifacts that were hidden by the Jews in the Judean wilderness. These things have not been found yet. So if it did exist, it could still possibly be out in the desert somewhere. So I personally honestly I’m a little skeptical of whether or not even exists, but that’s my opinion.
Kurt: Time to start digging.
Kurt: Um, I’m, forgive me here for our viewers on veracity hill. They might not know who these faces are. So I figured I should do brief introductions. We’ve got Ted Wright at the end. We’re working this way. David Montoya, Cisco Cotto, Gene Calderon, Mike Licona. And myself, Kurt Jaros. So let’s, let’s do a fun question here. What are some of your hobbies? This is a question for everyone. What are some of your hobbies we get to know you guys a little bit better?
David: I am actually ranked as a professional magician.
Mike: You might think that’s kind of funny, but that’s how I became a Christian, through a Christian magician coming in and he shared the gospel I got tricked into the kingdom. (Laughter) But that to say, I love what he does. And my hobby is to shoot pistols.
Cisco: Why wasn’t there a magic breakout? Next time next time
Kurt: Next time,
Cisco: I love bowling, and I’m trying to rope my son into it now and so far, so good.
Gene: My hobbies outside of apologetics and biblical studies would be martial arts and music.
Ted: Mountain climbing big mountains. Yes.
Cisco: Welcome to the Midwest.
Ted: Thank you. Not A lot around here.
Kurt: Great. All right. Let’s see here. We’ve got some questions rolling in. Gene, I want to ask you this 17843 Can morality be explained through the collective agreement on what feels good? And what causes pain?
Gene: Yeah, morality,if we’re basing it on our feelings, and what causes good and bad, right and wrong, I mean, good and bad, and what feels good. I mean, we really then morality, everyone’s gonna have their own personal morality. And so my morality is going to be different than yours and different than the next person. And so I just really don’t think that is a good standard for us to be able to say, morality is based on how I feel, because now we’re going to end up with billions of different perspectives on what morality is. And so if we didn’t do that, then we would have to look at slavery or abortion, or all those other moral topics as it’s going to be okay for some people and okay for other people not okay. But I always say, you realize what morality of what’s good and bad based on your reaction moreso than your action. So whenever, for some reason, every time somebody tries to kill me, I know it’s wrong. Right? And it makes it. So what that’s how I know that it’s beyond humanity, it has to be beyond how we feel. And that, that source that is beyond I think points back to something that is timeless, spaceless immaterial. And we look at that and say, it has to be something beyond humanity. That’s where I get the idea. It has to come from God.
Kurt: All right. Let’s see here. Mike, I want to peg you with this one here with the rise of the Muslim faith. What is the best way to defend our faith in a loving manner?
Mike: Well, my understanding of the Islamic culture, Middle Eastern type culture is its honor/shame. And so what we don’t want to do is to insult the person. You want to go after the arguments. You can go after Islam, and you can attack Islam as a religion, but you don’t want to attack the person. The you don’t want to insult the person you’re talking to, or talk down to them in any way. A lot of the Islamic culture, Middle Eastern culture, it is very different than Western politically correct culture. So it’s not a matter of you gotta be real careful not to disagree with the person’s so that you don’t offend them. It’s a matter of, yeah, they want to see that you have a strong view. So if you a westerner who says, oh, you know, your Muslim view is every bit as valid as my Christian view. Muslims see weakness in that and they lose respect. So they would prefer you say, No, you are following you are following a false prophet and you’re a member of a false religion, you’re going to end up in hell. That is better to say that to a Muslim, than to say what you believe is every bit as valid as what I believe so we’ve got our arguments, we can show our evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus that he claimed to be God’s uniquely divine son. But we need to do it with confidence, not with weakness, and we do it attacking the the beliefs of the person rather than the person.
Kurt: You’ve had the opportunity to debate a number of Muslims. And so you’ve experienced that firsthand, haven’t you?
Mike: Yeah, that’s Yeah, in fact, I thokught the first debate I did with a Muslim was with Shabir A Lee. I thought that went really well. And apparently it did because the Nabeel Qureshi was there. And he thought I won the debate. But I did have a couple of people say, you made a mistake. You were too gentle on Shabir and you need to come down harder in your next debates. And so I did.
Kurt: It’s interesting. So you’re friends with David Wood? He’s got a popular Apolo…Acts 15. apologetics ministry.
Kurt: Acts 17. Sorry, yes. And I know, David down the line, there is a fan to some of those videos are quite provocative for some people, but that works for their culture, the values that they have.
Mike: David is getting between 2 and 4 million views a month on his YouTube channel. And every day, he has Muslims who are communicating with them saying, I saw your videos, I’ve left Islam, I’ve become a Christian.
Kurt: Yeah. Yeah. And for some of us Americans, you know, we might be thinking, we’ve got, you know, the interfaith dialogues, where it’s a nice time for us to share our view of faith versus another person’s view. And David just kind of like, totally rejects that model and method and just goes right at it. Many of us would think it’s provocative, but it really does a great job of reaching Muslims in that way. So yeah, really get attack the argument, be passionate, and win the argument, too. I had the opportunity years ago to speak at speakers corner in London. And we’re Muslims come and they talk about Islam, and it’s big that you gotta win win the argument. They’re really they’re really into that stuff. All right, so we’ve got a few questions coming in. Let’s see here. David, I’m gonna give you this one, you’re gonna like this, because I think we disagree. Often. 2331 asks, I often hear people say, I walked away from the church and my faith in Jesus. Maybe this person means I as someone can. Is this possible? Can you lose your salvation?
David: So typical response that I have is, when were you born? I was born on July 24 1985, can I go back and be unborn? It’s a ludicrous question. And if you’re spiritually born again, how can you be unborn? I work under a couple premises and one of them is that God cannot fail. concept of free will, in my mind, is this sort of concept that’s there? And people believe that God cannot overcome someone’s freewill yet he’s the most odd he is the omnipotent being on the planet. If you were to translate that towards the afterlife, then if I have my free wills intact, I should be able to sit in heaven, I guess. Because, of course, you can overcome it. If you are consistent in an argument, so in my opinion, no one once you’re born again, you cannot be unborn, no man can pluck you out of my hand.
Kurt: All right. Let’s see here. Ted, this is a question for you. Is it possible Christianity was influenced by earlier pagan religions? For example, Horace and Osiris? are gods in Egyptian mythology that are said to have died and risen again?
Ted: Yes, there’s any number of ways to answer that question. And there’s been some great videos and Mike probably even speak on this better than me on that specific question. I will give my answer and I’m gonna divert a different mic on this. But let me just say this. It’s not a direct archaeological answer. But it says because of CS Lewis, actually, Louis talked about true myth, and that all mythologies actually encapsulate some truth in them. They are a foreshadowing of, of the actual real thing that really happened, except that Christianity really happened. And the dying Savior, the dying god, that you see in all kinds of religions in Egypt, and you see it all kinds of, you know, Mesopotamia and things like that, even in, in the Canaanite religion, the bail cycle in a night, I forgot the exact year. But in Syria, they discovered the ancient side of Uber it, which is where we’re erotic language comes from, it’s a Canaanite language. And in the erotic literature, we found the bail cycle, and it turns out Baal dies and comes back from the dead is called the bail cycle, but it’s an agricultural thing has to do with agriculture. So you see this mythology all throughout the ancient Near East. But But what Lewis is saying, and I think he and Tolkien had a lot of interaction on this is that Tolkien and Lewis were very good friends and Lewis was a professor of medieval literature. And he had He knew he knew all these mythologies, but Tolkien said, listen, but this is the one that actually really these all these are foreshadowings. And that Jesus rising again, this actually happened. And this is a core truth of, you know, it sort of it sort of is a foreshadowing of all these things that happen. So that’s how to answer it. Yeah.
Kurt: It’s a true myth.
Ted: It’s a true myth. It really happened. So Louis, when he uses their term myth, he has a much broader, richer understanding of myth. Whenever you and I think of the word myth, why is that? Well, it’s not true. Well, that’s not what Louis means. He means a great story that explains how everything puts together. It’s a worldview type of understanding of myth. So Mike, how would you?
Mike: Thanks. Well, I have a lecture I do this where I give six reasons to reject that actually, we can even get more and you’re right, absolutely right about the agricultural cycles when it comes to nine rising figures in the ancient Near Eastern Mediterranean religions. One, if I’m going to just pick one right now, I would say, Yeah, you’re gonna have some similarities in certain figures, but they’re unimpressive. So for example, like Dionysus is, he has a divine paternity, and he makes wine. But that’s it. And then you have Thor, who, for his life was threatened at birth. But that’s it. And then you have Asclepius who was known as a healer. But that’s it. And then you’ve got Apollonius of Tyana, who taught the Imara immortality. And then they’ll say, Well, he was raised from the dead. But there are conflicting accounts, one says he died and other says he didn’t die. And then the one that says he died, while the appearance was he appeared to one of his followers in a dream, others were there, they didn’t see him. It was a dream. That’s not really resurrection. But that’s what they’ll talk about. He rose from the dead. And then you’ve got Hera clays, or Hercules, whether you’re Hara cleis, in Greek, Hercules, for for Latin, a Roman, and he was sick, he was dying, he was losing his power. And so he builds this great fire, and then he jumps on it to burn himself up, kill himself. And then he was seen ascended to heaven on the horse, Pegasus. But that’s an ascension, like Jesus. But although Jesus wasn’t horsing around, so. So when you look at each of these figures, what they did, they’re not really good parallels of Jesus. So what you have to do is you have to combine all of them together to get a composite figure to look like the one Jesus. And the reason that is not impressive to historians, is you’d look and say, Well, what would be kind of a modern example? Well, it would be you take Abraham Lincoln, who was a tall, lanky, Illinois Senator who was elected to president twice. You’ve got JFK, who graduated from Harvard and became president. And then you have a character named David Palmer, in the popular television series 24, who was portrayed as the first black US president, you put all three of those together and you get Barack Obama, tall, lanky, Illinois Senator who was elected president twice he graduated from Harvard was the first black US President. Like JFK. Yeah. Okay. So what about a honesty? So, you? Well, wouldn’t matter, though. Really? It’s because you’re Yeah, it’s a composite figure. And so you wouldn’t say, well, Barack Obama copied off of these others. And these weren’t true of Obama. So and that was just like, 150 years worth, we’re talking to over 1000 years, maybe close? Yeah, well over 1000 years of composite of figures to form one composite figure. So that’s just one reason you’ve got that is tied to the agricultural cycles is another. And I could give you several more reasons.
Kurt: And Jewish folks wouldn’t have much of any reason to draw from pagan traditions. But but even if they had, like you said, it wouldn’t, you know, the event could have still happened. Reminds me of a ship that sank. Maybe you could tell that story too
Mike: Well, I’ll give an even better one. We’re all aware of a plane that took off from Massachusetts Early one morning after 10 o’clock, or … after … certainly after 10 o’clock in the morning. It flew into the tallest skyscraper in the world in New York City. between the 78 and 80 floors, killing everyone on board, you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s when the beat 25 flew into the Empire State Building on July 28 1945. You see, well, that didn’t happen, right? Yeah, it did happen. You can look at photographs of the aftermath on it. So you can find parallel details in just about anything. So the ship that you’re talking about where we know of an ocean liner about 100 years ago, it was considered unsinkable, and on an April cool evening, it was sailing across the Atlantic gone too fast to hit an iceberg. And the unthinkable happened it sank in more than half its passengers. Let’s see, namely that what was that? It was? Yeah, the tie the Titanic, the Titan in a in a novel titled futility, the wreck of the Titan written in 1898 14 years before the Titanic sank. You wouldn’t turn around and say, well, the Titanic didn’t happen. So you can find parallel details in just about anything.
Kurt: Okay, Cisco. When studying apologetics, and maybe I think a number of us might answer this very practical question, great question. When studying apologetics, how do you keep yourself from falling into a dry intellectual faith, resulting in that caring of others come to know God, but just wanting to show off your intellectual prowess.
Gene: I don’t know that I have intellectually. That’s a good place to begin. I think it whether it’s apologetics, or even when I was just in seminary training to be a pastor, if you’re really in school for any reason, even if it’s not a specifically religious purpose, it’s really easy for knowledge to puff up. The more we know, the better we feel about ourselves, the more superior we can feel when we talk with other people about whatever the subject is about. And so it’s just a matter of, in order to stay humble, regularly asking God to grant us that humility. When it comes to apologetics, if you’re just in it to win an argument, to feel really good about the fact that you know something, someone doesn’t or that you can show them up in in front of a crowd or in front of their friends. While you’re in it for the wrong reasons. We get into this. And I think I can speak for everyone here. We get into this because we desperately want people to know Jesus, then there are questions that are keeping people from even entertaining the gospel. And so if we can get some of those questions answered, so that they’re open to hearing the gospel, then that moves them one step closer to faith in Christ. If we keep people at the forefront and souls at the forefront, I mean, these are eternal souls. And that’s the reason we’re doing and I think it’s the only way that we’re going to be able to stay humble and have it not just be an intellectual exercise.
Ted: Yeah, he nailed it. There’s not much work ahead of that. I’ve been involved in Apologetics professionally since 2003. So I graduated with my master’s degree in apologetics. And I taught the Bible College I’ve been … Mike has too we’ve been … I mean, you’re steeped into it. You meet all kinds of personalities. And I’ve had students, I’ve had been a pastor, I’ve been a professor. It is true: knowledge puffs up. It’s a fact, you start learning this stuff. You’re like, wow, this is amazing stuff. You don’t realize it, but you can. It’s very easy to give a prideful, very easy to be prideful. And one of the things that I would encourage my students to encourage myself to do is to stay grounded in the Word of God. stay grounded in God’s word and songs and ask God to continually make you humble, and he will. Remember, I don’t exact quote, but Augustine wrote years ago, and I think it is, it may have been one of his other writings, not the confessions of not city of God, but he was talking about young men and learning the God and he says, Remember, gentlemen, humility, humility, humility. It is human, it’s humility. And even first, Peter 315, always be ready to give an answer with gentleness and respect. So it’s in humility, that we give these answers not in pride. And there are people who want to win the argument. And I think we should caution against just winning the argument, you can win the argument and lose the person. So always keep the person at the forefront, pick up the person you want to win, win the person. And there are people who want to win the argument. And I’ve been there. I’ve been there. I’ll tell you one quick story. My first class and philosophy ever had, I was in the Air Force, and I was getting ready to get out. And so I started taking some classes and I took a philosophy class from a junior college. And I was a zealous Christian, I love God and I was going to defend the Bible at any cost. And it was a logic class. And my professors would argue that God can’t make a square circle and I was like, Yes, he can. He can make a square circle and may not argue that and I went to the deck on that. And I just said, Okay, I said, so and now look back and like, I can’t believe I actually defended the guy can make a square circle. He cannot make a square. It’s nonsense. God can’t do nonsense. So my zealousness. Gotta have my humility. And I was trying so be careful about that.
Kurt: You referenced Augustine or Augustine as some…
Kurt: Yeah. You know I… As I argue it’s closer to the Latin
Ted: We talked to a church historian Kurt and he said, Say Augustine.
Kurt: So yes, that was a philosopher and theologian. That’s samples just a few weeks ago on the program, which is a good segue. It’s a fun debate we have, let me mention that book, I think you should all check it out. It’s called classic Christian thinkers. Great book of nine of Christianity’s greatest defenders, Augustine, Augustine, we got Lewis up all sorts of Aquinas, some wonderful Christian thinkers from from history. And it’s just a great opportunity. So I want to encourage you to check that out, you can go to reasons.org/veracity, to check that book out. Just it’s a great first step towards discovering a richer, fuller, historic faith for you. So check that book out. We’ve got some other questions here, Jean, how do you respond to or engage with an honest atheist? One who knows he holds to his belief by faith?
Gene: An atheist who wants to buy faith, like that’s most of most of atheists isn’t. They don’t have the evidence on their side. So they have to take it by faith. But how do you engage? I think it kind of falls into what we were talking about earlier just a question ago is that one of the things that we need to have as apologist to be able to reach the unchurched or the people who just deny Christianity or any faith based religion is we genuinely have to develop a relationship with them. I always say you have to love the people that you’re trying to reach, even when they’re going to hate you and hate your ideas, ridicule, you mock you, or try to shut you down, you have to love them. And that is hard, because we take that personally. So we need to, I can’t take their attacks, personally, they’re attacking the idea. But I need to develop a relationship with them, I may not be able to witness to them, I may not be able to share the gospel with them. But when they genuinely know that I care for them, they will allow me to speak my ideas or allow me to speak into their lives or share life with them. And eventually, they’re going to be open to hearing more of my ideas. And I’ve experienced this several times on college campuses, where atheist who come to shut me down, realize I’m not out to win the argument. I’m out to develop a relationship, love on them and win the person. So that’s one of the philosophies we have, I’d rather win the person than win the argument. Eventually, the argument comes,
Kurt: Let me ask a follow up to you. And then I also want to hear Mike’s answer this, you guys get the chance to be on college campuses quite a bit. What do you think is the strongest argument in favor of atheism? And then how do you respond to that?
Gene: Without sounding too prideful or puffy? The strongest argument for atheism, honestly, I would say would be ignorance. They don’t know what the what the just say, we don’t know know that the x, they don’t know what the real scientific, historical or philosophical reasons are. There’s, there’s a lot of the arguments that they presents that are just false. And they’re they’re holding on to them with such passion and such desire. And I think it’s because they would rather want that to be true than digging deeper into realize that what they believe is actually false. And so I believe it’s their own ignorance that’s keeping them there.
Kurt: Maybe I missed phrases. So if you had to say, be an atheist, what do you think is the strongest reason or evidence for atheism? Sorry, if I phrase it,
Gene: Yeah, no. So for them, it would probably be the problem of evil and suffering. Why isn’t God fixed everything yet? Why do I still have to struggle? I’m a nice guy, I’m a good guy, I’m just trying to be educated in and share the truth with the world. And because I have to struggle, we’re in a culture now where it’s a hypersensitive culture, I should be, I should be a, I should be able to be privileged or I should be able to not be oppressed, or I should, you know, and so that really messes with their idea of how the world ought to be they know the world is messed up. And they think it’s because of oppression and whatever, you know, what I mean, is because of their feelings,
Kurt: So how would you respond with them?
Gene: Usually, people reject Christianity because of their false perception of God. They really don’t know who God is, how he works, why the world is the way that it is. So the reason why they’re so passionate against it, is because they really haven’t come to know what it is in the first place. Or it’s been portrayed to them wrong, either by a Christian or an apologist. Most people don’t like Christianity, because of a Christian they ran into most people don’t like apologetics because of apologist they ran into with our big heads and then arrogant selves. But when they find somebody, and again, I’ve run across people, like they haven’t talked to me the way you do. For some reason you let me share this and you understand where I’m coming from. And it’s like, because I know who you’re talking about, and I’m sorry, you ran into them. And that’s usually where they’re stuck. They’re stuck in there because of that. Yep. So
Kurt: like, strongest argument in favor of atheism, you think and how would you respond?
Mike: Yeah, I think I agree. It’s the problem of evil like you lectured on problem of evil pain and suffering. You know what, why You know, we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t want our kids to suffer, we do what we can to keep them from suffering, too. We do whatever we can. But God doesn’t seem to do that, you know, he seems to allow that suffering, even when he could have prevented it. So, I mean, we have to just admit that and, but you know, he’s, then you come to the realization, you know, this is God’s world. And, you know, he doesn’t live for us, we’re supposed to live for him. He is the King of the universe. And he’s got his reasons. And sometimes he taps some of us on the shoulder and says, there’s a specific thing I want you to do. But it’s going to require a whole lot of suffering, and you’re not going to like it. And it’s not even necessarily for your benefit. It’s for my kingdom. And that’s when we have to say, Your wish is my will. Because it says your kingdom, I’m your servant, whatever you want, you know, and we don’t have to understand everything about God. But I do think planning is Free Will defense was was a pretty good answer. To say, you know, we’ve got sin, God gave us free will. And we can’t think there’s no way that every one with free will is always going to choose right? All of the time, it’s just not going to happen. So the atheist is going to have to show that on balance, that there is another world of potential or that we don’t live in the real world, in which are that our world is in a perfect balance of the maximum amount of good with the least amount of evil. And of course, the atheists can’t do that.
Ted: Amen. Mike. And I just want to piggyback on a little aspect of what you said. It’s the fact that God can even take evil, and turn it into good. And the most incredible heinous example of evil that’s ever been perpetrated in the history of the world was the crucifixion of Jesus, he didn’t deserve it. But he, it turned out for the salvation the entire world, the precursors of that in the Old Testament, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. And Joseph had a profound say that you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good for the saving of many lives. But perhaps, in my opinion, and this sort of touches, not directly, but indirectly on this question of the problem of evil. And that is this, and this is from this is from in house in the Christian house and our house and our, you know, it’s its job statement, and Joe, even though he slay me, oh, yet, trust in Him, will we trust God, even in the face of suffering, and we’re going to suffer, we get this idea that life is going to be a bed of roses, and it’s not sorry, Joel Olsteen, you can’t have your best life. Now. It’s not in the scripture. But it is, you know, God wants to make us holy. We want to be happy. We’re on a happiness quest. The God is trying to make us holy. And that’s what this life is about this life is to make us into the image of Christ. That’s what sanctification is about, is to form us in the image of Christ. And I don’t know I could speak for all these guys. I have been down some hard roads in my life. I’ve hurt people that I love. And I’ve been hurt. I lost my dad three years ago, some horrible things, but yet, I can still see the grace of God, the mercy of God. And so, so we as Christians and our worldview, we can understand this. And in the atheistic worldview, they have to admit that there’s really no ultimate meaning to any of this stuff, the Auschwitz and all the evil, horrible, horrendous things in history. If there is no God, and there is no ultimate meaning no ultimate goodness, none of that means anything. There’s no meaning whatsoever. It’s just meaningless suffering, as the writer of Ecclesiastes would say, but in the Christian theistic worldview, there is meaning to this. I don’t fully understand what it how it all means. But as Mike pointed out, in the free will, yes, there are we there are free creatures and people where we live in a fallen world. And, but but in the Christian view history, like this is a unique perspective that we have in our worldview, history is going in a direction, and one day, one day, the key will return, the curtain is going to drop, and the end of the story, and all will be all will be resolved. And he will judge everyone living and dead, saved and unsaved and it will all come out as my grandpa would say it’ll all come out in the wash. So that’s my country answer to that question.
Gene: I think it’s important to point out if, if an atheist says that they’re an atheist by faith, like a Christian is a Christian by faith, that there’s really a difference in what they mean by faith. Because for a Christian, yes, we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But as you’ve been hearing this weekend, and you probably read books and listen to podcasts and everything, there’s there There’s lots of evidence for what we believe in Christianity. Mike talked about the resurrection. You had to read his book on the resurrection for class. It took me a while. I’m gonna be honest, it took me a while, because it’s thorough, because there’s evidence throughout history for the resurrection. We don’t say, Well, I picked up a book and it said, This guy rose from the dead. So it must be true. And I believe it by faith. I mean, we trust God’s Word, the scriptures. But there’s so much evidence for Christianity that when we say we accept it by faith, it’s not a faith alone. But when it comes to atheism, what evidence do you have? I mean, hard evidence that there is no God, you can try to poke holes in the idea of God. But you can’t say XYZ clearly points to the fact and proves that there is no God because it’s just not there.
David: I like canned answers. You guys know this. So … at that clock back there says 244. At 245. God will eliminate all evil, and all potential evil. That means we’re all gone. And everybody outside those doors, and everybody in the entire world. Your problem is solved. Is that what do you want, Mr. Atheist?
Kurt: All right. David, this is gonna come back to you. And then also Ted. And David, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your journey as well. Looking for an expounding on the lack of archaeology in the history of Mormonism.
David: Yeah. The Book of Mormon is your case study to show what indeed is a real myth and a product of the 19th century. It’s a story of an Israelite family, traveling by boat to the ancient American concept. And it’s populated by these peoples who don’t encounter anybody else. In the book, grand civilizations, steel swords, battles on chariots, with plants and coinage, all laid out in the Book of Mormon. The only problem is, I can’t find one city. I can’t find one historical person. I can’t find one coin or one sword, or evidence of metallurgy. And the horses.. Well, they didn’t come until the Spaniards came. The whole thing is concoction by Joseph Smith. And it’s that simple. But most Mormons don’t know this. They don’t have a clue that there is not a shred of evidence whatsoever. That substantiates the Book of Mormon narrative.
Ted: Yes, amen. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He nailed it. To kind of piggyback the history basically, in the Book of Mormon is that it is the story of a supposed Jewish family. Lehi and his family six sons, right? six sons, … Did I get that right? six sons and they right before the Babylonian exile in, in Israel, before the before the Israelites are carried off into captivity, Lehi flees Jerusalem with his sons. They get down into Yemen, what is now modern day Yemen and apparently one of his sons gets a vision from God build a ship sailed to the Americas, like North and South America. There’s no like …they sail to America, when they get here. The kids get into like a squabble about who’s going to be you know, the one of them wants to go back to Jerusalem and they get into a fight. And so the history of North America and South America apparently is the leaving lie eliminates rares that really Lamanites
Ted: Lamanites. And the neophytes always get them confused, the Nephites and Lamanites. And they fight each other. And there’s battles and wars and swords, things like that. The only problem is, in the past over 100 years, we have done an extensive archaeology in North America and there are about seven Native American archaeological periods that we know very definitively, and they date back to something called the Archaic period. Then you have the Paleo Indian period, then you’ve got the woodland, you got the Mississippian, then you have the so all these archaeological periods are known by the technologies or the arrow points and the pottery things like that. There is nothing in the archaeological record in North America or South America that even comes close to describing anything in the Book of Mormon. Nothing in it is all completely made up. There’s no or if it happened, it’s just there’s just zero evidence for it whatsoever. No evidence whatsoever. whatsoever. And in the 1820s Joseph Smith came upon a traveling mummy exhibit, and he bought a puppy Iris manuscripts he believed that it was from the last from Abraham. Abraham wrote this papyrus, and he translated this papyrus from Abraham’s own handwriting. And the language was called reformed Egyptian. Well, the only problem was hieroglyphics wasn’t deciphered until 1820 by the French scholar John Francois shum pulley on in France. So he gets this translation of this parent Papyrus. And it’s a picture that we know about, I can show you a slide. And it shows a mummy Mummy laying down on a table and this creature belly over the mummy. And what what Joseph Smith says is that this is Abraham and Isaac, and this is the picture of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Actually, no, it’s not. This is actually either Osiris or the god NuBus. This is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. No Ark, no Egyptologist at all will substantiate Joseph Smith’s interpretation of this papyrus. In fact, you can see it, you can actually translate the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and they have done it and what the Egyptologist say, is completely contradictory to what Joseph Smith says. So why this is important is here’s why this is important. And he’s got an amazing story. Mormon theology is got some crazy stuff. And he can tell you all about the stuff that they believe Jesus was not he was the spirit brother, right of Lucifer. Is that right? About that’s one of the things, all of that theology is connected to what is written in the Book of Mormon. And if you cannot back it up historically, then I think you should by default, discount everything it says theologically, apart from the fact that it completely contradicts what Scripture very clearly says. The most interesting thing about this whole scenario, this is just a interesting, weird period in American history, is that in the late 18th, century, early 19th century in America, in Palomar in New York, which is where Joseph Smith was from, there was you guys have heard the Great Awakening. So there was a great revivalism was going on Methodism, the great circuit writers like Jonathan Whitfield. So they were all this great revivals going on. It was that that time that God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith, and said that they’re getting it all wrong, and that you are the one that’s really saved. They got it wrong. Three years later, he’s visited by an angel called Moroni. That’s his name. He says, Hey, Joseph, there are some secret books hidden to heal. I’m going to show you where they are. And he took him to show him where they were. And he just made up this whole thing. And so this is this is where it comes from.
Kurt: So for the archaeological evidence,
Ted: Zero, no archaeological evidence whatsoever.
Gene: See, I think this is where, and this is apologists need this reminder, just because you can show that there’s no evidence just because you can show there’s no historical foundation, or that theology is flawed, or a holy book is flawed, is not necessarily enough to lead people out of a particular religion. They may fully there are plenty of Mormon, even Mormon scholars who acknowledge Yeah, you’re right. There’s no evidence for any of this. And I think that points to for apologists, just because you win the argument doesn’t mean the person is going to become a Christian. It also means they’re not going to leave their faith. And some of that is because of the relationships that they’ve built within that faith group, where they don’t care if it’s been proven that it’s not true. These people are nice to me, this my family, these the people I hang out with, they care about me. And so I’m going to stay in this religion, even though it seems like it’s not true. Because all all my people are here. So winning the argument. Yeah, it’s important to be able to tell the truth and to show them the truth. But that’s not always enough to win them over to the gospel.
Kurt: Yep, good. texters 0387 brings up Titus 3:9, But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law because these are unprofitable and useless. Can we get to a point where using apologetics becomes foolish? Because the person who just doesn’t care or gets emotionally upset? So I certainly think Yeah, that’s right. There are cases where we need to be discerning I, I’ve talked about how apologetics is both a science and an art. It’s a science because you memorize the facts. You even learn the arguments, but how you apply them is where it takes discernment. Someone might be angry, or bitter. Maybe they’ve experienced evil and suffering their life. So they’re angry at God. And so that’s not someone who’s looking for the free will defense by planning. You know, that’s someone who just wants a hug someone to be with them. And I’ve said Job’s, you know, Job’s friends the errors that they made us that they talked too much. So that was their problem. question here from Mike. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Was it used as a metaphor for a very narrow gate opening in Jerusalem?
Mike: Now I’ve heard that I’m not sure.
Kurt: Is there a trend? I’ve heard something? I’ve heard something about a translation issue about camel and on that point, is there something to the Greek that could be translated otherwise?
Mike: Yeah, I’ve heard both views that it is referring to an entrance, a very small entrance. And that was called the needle. And then I’ve heard that No, it’s not it. This is just a vivid board picture that anyone would have understood. And it’s nothing that I’ve really looked into in depth. So I don’t know.
Kurt: That’s one of the things I appreciate about Mike very authentic in his pursuit of the truth, and unashamedly. So, so thank you. Thanks for that. All right, do we have any final questions from the audience? We do have a microphone, we’ve got a few minutes, we’ve got a question up front here, okay.
Audience Member: You know, for those of us not in the specific fields, and not having the experience, the work, the training that you have on your respective fields, it’s hard to be discerning, especially when it comes to credibility of sources and things like that. Now, we’ve heard a few examples in the field of philosophy, or maybe that’s not the right word, but archaeology to where there are people that are just diehard doubters via Bible, but not deniers, etc. Can you name any people are there the institutions that send them that they’re not Christians? They may even be atheists or agnostics, but at least make an attempt to be more open minded, fair minded, you know, honest, when they’re assessing things from when they’re doing their research, you know, they just don’t discount the Bible. A priori.
Mike: Nonbelievers? I don’t know. I’ll tell you. There’s one scholar, though, that I really look up to. We don’t see eye to eye on a number of things. And he would be more of a liberal Christian persuasion. And that’s Dale Allison, who teaches it at Princeton. But I think he’s a very objective, open minded guy. I appreciate his scholarship. Like I said, I don’t I agree with him on a number of things. But I think he truly, truly tries to look at things objectively and arrive at his conclusions, many of which are true or correct. I like to end met anger. I don’t, I don’t, I wouldn’t. I don’t know much about him. I don’t know if he’s a Christian. He wrote the book, the riddle of resurrection, where he deals with dying and rising gods in the ancient Ancient Near Eastern Mediterranean world. In there, he says, The Universal consensus among scholars today is that there are no dying and rising gods in the ancient Near Eastern Mediterranean world that predate Christianity. But he says he’s going to go against the consensus, he thinks that there are three and possibly as many as five. Now, in the end, he doesn’t think that the Christians would have borrowed from these, but he does think that there are three many, even as many as five, but the way he deals with these, even though in most of those cases, I would disagree with him. He does seem like to be a very even handed objective scholar and does a fair case. So I’d say most scholars I shouldn’t say most, I should say there are a lot of scholars who may be most that allow their worldviews to guide their investigation. And I’m not just saying atheists, I’m saying Christians as well. They fall prey to the same problem. To find objective really, really objective. Historians, is very difficult. We have some in and I think of Craig Evans, I think I’ve been with her and 10 Craig Keener, Darrell Bock And some others like that. But these are they’re, they’re in the minority, even in Christianity.
Kurt: We just have a minute or two left here. I do want to say this, you mentioned Craig Keener, Mike and Craig keener are going to be going toe to toe along with Rob Bowman at the annual defenders conference, October 18, and 19. So those of you here at our conference this weekend, have two little business card sized teaser images. Why did I give you two one for you and one to give away to a friend invite someone to that conference? That’d be great. And for those of you that want more information and to even register now, you can go to the defenders conference.com the best prices until August one so it’s it’s a hot event last year was such a total hit on the lead genocide commands in the Old Testament, four different perspectives on that. And this year’s theme is on gospel differences. So I think Mike teased a little bit about that. And it’s a breakout talk. So the last question here comes from 7753. Have you ever witnessed an atheist come to the Lord? And I’ll start by saying, I know two people that were functional atheists. And what I mean by that is, they, you know, weren’t really they weren’t devoted believers in much of any sense, not even church going. So they just didn’t care about how they live their lives. And through sharing the gospel with them. And with one of the gentlemen doing apologetics with him, I’ve seen two people really become devoted believers in the Lord.
Gene: I have several, and again, it wasn’t so much how much I knew, but how much I cared. And they were they actually make some of the best Christian defenders once they convert, because they’ve struggled through the intellectual arguments, and they realize what it is that they were looking for. So yes, several by developing a relationship with them. And once that opened up the doors to intellectual discussions, they were some of the best Christian defenders that I know.
Ted: what this is, it’s not directly connected, but it’s indirectly. So in your, in your conversations, as you go out from this weekend, and you go to your family members and your people and you guys know people. I like to give students, my students this sort of assessment grid as you’re assessing people. And here’s how I think people fall into one of these categories. You’ve got the atheist, you got the agnostics and under agnostics, you have hard agnostics and soft agnostics. You have someone says, Well, I don’t know and I don’t really care. The soft diagnosis I don’t know and yeah, I’m kind of the fourth category are the mockers, there are mockers today, people who don’t give a rip about Christianity, they don’t give anything about Christianity, you are under no obligation to give them anything. In fact, don’t argue with them, you’re just going to miss get deeper and is going to just don’t even there’s internet, people may you know Facebook, and they just don’t no matter what you put, they will argue that that’s a mocker You’re under no obligation to talk to them. But people who are genuinely open, people really, really want to know, that’s the people you want to cordially deal with in a loving manner. And then you’ve got the ones that just don’t care and you can’t but so you got the atheists. So I don’t know how that’s that’s a good grid to look at.
Kurt: Good. All right. Well, that does it for our program. Today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons. Those are folks that just chip in a few bucks each month to help veracity Hill continue to go and grow. I’m also thankful for the partnerships that I have with our sponsors. They are defenders media consult Kevin, the sky floor rethinking Hill, the Illinois Family Institute, Fox restoration and reasons to believe and I want to thank our panel of guests today on our Ask and apologist anything panel. And last but not least, I’m grateful for our oh and our technical producer Chris for all the fine work he does. I can’t forget about Chris. And last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.