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Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies Paperback – February 5, 2001
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"Dembski and Richards have created what deserves to be called the mother of all seminary peer groups, an apologetics seminar where the tough issues are debated even in front of outside critics." (Phillip E. Johnson (from the foreword))
"This guide should be required reading not merely for seminary students but for all who are in any way responsible for their care and feeding. It offers valuable insights and much-needed correctives in a straightforward style and with uncompromising conviction. I regret that I graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary before Dembski and Richards helped begin the Princeton apologetics seminar. The stimulating essays they have drawn from the seminar and collected in this volume would have been a welcome supplement to my course work. No seminary-bound evangelical should leave home without this book." (Robert P. Mills, associate editor, The Presbyterian Layman)
"Unapologetic Apologetics is another sign of the coming of David and the doom of Goliath. David represents young, vibrant and unanswerable Christian orthodoxy, while Goliath is the reigning liberal/modernist theological establishment. Here are students at a large, 'leading' seminary making more sense than their professors. Goliath cannot stand for long." (Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College)
"My first reading of Unapologetic Apologetics sent an electric shock through my body. I have been waiting for twenty-five years for someone to write this book, and finally my wait is over! This book is not only a first-rate piece of orthodox Christian scholarship but also an absolutely unique book in its aim and scope. Dembski and Richards address a host of issues--biblical authority; the nature, aim and scope of apologetics; naturalism and its impact on theology and biblical studies; feminism; postmodernism and others--that seminary students and, indeed, Christian leaders must engage if they want to approach their development with an eye on the culture they are called to minister in. This book will be of special interest to those who work on secular college campuses, attend seminary, do graduate or undergraduate work in philosophy or religious studies, or regularly interact with those on the left of the intellectual spectrum. Every evangelical who attends seminary must read this book before he or she graduates." (J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University)
From the Publisher
My first reading of Unapologetic Apologetics sent an electric shock through my body. I have been waiting for twenty-five years for someone to write this book, and finally my wait is over! This book is not only a first-rate piece of orthodox Christian scholarship but also an absolutely unique book in its aim and scope. Dembski and Richards address a host of issues--biblical authority; the nature, aim and scope of apologetics; naturalism and its impact on theology and biblical studies; feminism; postmodernism; and others--that seminary students and, indeed, Christian leaders must engage if they want to approach their development with an eye on the culture they are called to minister in. This book will be of special interest to those who work on secular college campuses, attend seminary, do graduate or undergraduate work in philosophy or religious studies, or regularly interact with those on the left of the intellectual spectrum. Every evangelical who attends seminary must read this book before he or she graduates.
J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
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1. Nobody created Nature. Nature developed intelligent beeings by pure chance (random mutation and natural selection). Our lives have no meaning. Some may try to find meaning for life, some may not. Some my even try to destroy life. Why not? Since there is no meaning, there is also no absolute moral and ethical norms. Madre Teresa and Osama Bin Laden are just a bunch of selfish genes trying to survive. Genocide may be considered a normal and legitimate strategy of gene survival, as Charles Darwin and many evolutionists acknowleged. Who can blame them for that? Even if it is the result of pure chance, our intelligence is suficiently powerful and reliable to be the measure of all knowledge. You can trust your selfish genes for that. You can also enjoy a free lunch and relax while you listen to a just-so story.
2. God may have created Nature, and let it develop into intelligent beeings by pure chance. God did not create Man in his image. He simply may have accepted the results of the evolutionary process with fair play. In fact we don't know that. There is no evidence of God whatsoever. If he exists, that's the philosophers and theologians problem. Let them speculate. In the real world (if there is one), objective science sees no place for God and no fingerprints of its presence. Faith is purely subjective and precarious. Knowledge is totally objective and reliable. They never meet in the real world. Here again you can trust your selfish genes for that. Here too, you can enjoy a free lunch while you listen to a just-so story.
3. God created man in his image. Subjective reason and objective matter have their own foundation in the Absolute Logos. Both are the product of intelligent design. Probabilities theory, design theory, complexity theory and information theory allow us to make a design inference scientifically beyond reasonable doubt. There is no free lunch here. There are no just-so stories. The complex specified information that structures matter also makes it intelligible and renders both possible and meaningful objective knowledge by our subjective reasons. You can trust the Word that became flesh and lived among us, for that. He is the source of all intelligence, all information, all matter, all life, all love, all freedom. He became flesh so that flesh can know the Word. He did it in a way that respects our freedom to accept or reject. If we accept him and his revelation as the foundation of all truth, instead of trusting our own "naturalistic-bunch-of-particles-reason", things start making sense. It even promotes the progress of mankind. Remember that all data shows that those countries mostly influenced by the genuinely christian revelation (the Inquisition, or the Index Librorum Prohibitorum have no place in that), tend enjoy stable democracies, economic progress, human rights protection and the rule of law.
This approach helped the authors of the essays that make this book make sense of problems that are complicated only for naturalism. I advise its reading.
Richards notes that naturalism as a philosophy is impossible to establish, for it relies upon proof of the negative claim that there is no supernatural. Richards further argues that naturalism bows too strongly before Occam's razor, in that it is not appropriate to rule out the supernatural as an explanation if the supernatural may indeed exist. Finally, Richards recognizes that scholars sometimes make a distinction between methodological naturalism and naturalism. But he also explains that Christians have no business adopting the methodological "assumption" of naturalism when they believe that God sometimes directly intervenes in the world. God does not need to be invoked to explain everything, but the pendulum has swung too far to the extreme if we assume that God never acts.
William Dembski also provides a few chapters on intelligent design. He explains that at the heart of the creation/evolution controversy is the big question "Is there evidence of God interacting with the world?" Many theologians have thought that science cannot address this question. But Dembski protests otherwise, by laying out a detailed statistical method by which we can detect design. Dembski, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, a Ph.D. in philosophy, and a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, seems a good candidate to explain whether God's purposeful action really might be detectable in the natural world. Dembski explains that "intelligent design resists speculating about the nature, moral character or purposes of this intelligence" (pg. 225) and leaves it as a task for theology to answer religious questions about the identity or purposes of the designer. But the rigorous methods of science now permit us to empirically detect when an object was designed.