Is Faith just Emotional?

Many atheists will argue that Christianity is merely an emotional experience. I have been accused of this several times; I find this to be ironic. After all, I find as much emotion displayed in atheists as I do in Christians. Their irrational hostility to Christianity in society is not exactly logical. Many atheists, when discussing their reasons for being atheists, give explanations that are highly emotional. One of the major characteristics of the “New Atheists” is their reliance on emotional and ad hominem argumentation. (An ad hominem argument is one that is made on the basis of the man, rather than on the underlying facts.) The statement that Christians are irrational is a textbook ad hominem argumentation. For example, when doubters are saying they will not argue the facts involving the eyewitness testimonies to the Resurrection, they are choosing to insinuate that there is something wrong with the person making the point of the eyewitness testimony to the Resurrection, rather than discussing the factual basis of our beliefs.

Still, I think it is worth addressing the question of emotionalism, since it has become such a common accusation. The question appears to be, “are Christians emotional, or are they rational?” This type of query is called an “artificial dichotomy”, because it tries to make a distinction that really doesn’t exist. Like all human beings, Christians have both emotional and rational components, although some people will emphasize one over the other. Christianity, because it is all- encompassing, affects the mind, the emotions, and the will (these three: the mind, emotion and will make up what the Bible calls “the heart” or the inner part of man).

As a Christian, I will admit I get emotional about the faith, but I also become very “rational” about the faith, as well. When I’m researching apologetics and theology. I am usually fairly dispassionate, (unless it is Thursday or Friday and “exhausted” counts as an emotion). Most of my opinions have usually been formed during those quiet times when my mind is fully engaged, and my emotions are not. Since I accepted the Christian faith as a child, my work as an adult has only reinforced that belief. A purely emotional faith; an immature faith, usually grows to become a fuller expression of a rational faith.

The true question is: whether our emotions logically precede our reason, or does our reason precede our emotions? Atheists assume – without evidence – that my emotions lie at the root of my Christianity – barring mind reading, they have no means of making that assertion, its a statement without evidence, better known as bluster. I know (because I do have access to my own thoughts), that my emotions follow my thinking. Some Christians probably do accept the faith, initially, because of an emotional experience. There are Christians, sadly, who may not grow intellectually within the faith, but that is certainly not the case for all, and ironically atheism will largely aid the church in this area. For many of us, however, atheists have confused the effect with the cause.

Tragedy of Compromise: Summary and Conclusion

My argument concerning the tragedy of compromise can be condensed this way:
1. Christianity embraces a point for which historical corroboration is possible; that point is the Resurrection of Christ. Using a number of approaches, it becomes clear that the Christian responses to the question, “Did Christ rise from the dead?” are superior to the theories ascribed to explain away the Resurrection.
2. Because these answers are unequivocal, I accept Christianity, and in so doing I accept Christian presuppositions concerning the nature of reality.
3. Once we begin studying religion as a category of questions rather than the modern tendency to arbitrarily define some thought systems as religious, and some as non-religious, Naturalism becomes a separate religion, apart from Christianity.
4. Because Naturalism is a different religion, it has different philosophical presuppositions than does Christianity. Naturalists, however, tend to be sloppy in defining the border of their philosophical beliefs and other areas of study: most notably, the sciences.
5. The key presupposition of Naturalism is a practical (and at most points, a theoretical) denial that miracles are possible. As the Resurrection of Christ is a miracle, this is a presupposition that is not possible for the Christian to accept, and therefore to argue from.
6. Evolution is ultimately a doctrine of Naturalism because it requires the key naturalistic presupposition, in the method by which it extrapolates a theory of biological origins from the data; without those presuppositions, the system cannot be demonstrated. To accept evolution one must first accept the tenet that the earth came about without miraculous intervention. To call evolutionary theory “science” we would need to observe, by natural means, the development of a new family (not a new species) by means of new, meaningful information being created or added to the genome, in a way that would create a sufficient advantage that would meet the criteria of natural selection. Otherwise, we are using scientific data being in a philosophical argument (which is precisely what creation science does).

My main conclusion in discussing the tragedy of compromise is that Christian opposition is not merely an apologetic necessity, but given the discussion of the first commandment, it is also an ethical imperative.

The next question is one of: “how do we oppose it?”

My answer would be along the same lines I have previously raised. Instead of arguing that Creation science is as scientific as evolution, we restate the argument – I believe more accurately – that evolution is as religious as creationism.

In doing so, our intent is to open minds by moving to the core differences between Creation Science and Evolution. In essence, we discuss evolution and creation in terms of comparing the two worldviews; the assumptions and presuppositions, and why these assumptions are religious in nature. Therefore, our goal should be to relegate evolution from the biology classroom to discussions on philosophy, and without advocacy of the theory, on the grounds of the first amendment – what is good for the goose is ultimately good for the gander.

Our goal, of course, is not a level playing ground – our goal is to adequately move from evolution to the Resurrection of Christ. If evolution is premised in atheism, then it makes no sense to ask atheists to question their evolutionary theory – they must first question their atheism (and theists should be asked about the logical inconsistency of holding to evolutionary theory and disagreeing with the core premise). In doing so, we want to win hearts and minds to Christ by discussing reasons for accepting Christianity instead.


I’m starting to notice that there are a lot of double standards in the way information is processed by those in this world. A few such “double standards” are:

• Stereotyping is wrong, and it is always wrong, unless you are talking about White Christians from the American south (who must be racist bigots until proven otherwise, and maybe not even then) or who happen to live in a trailer park.

• Diversity is the greatest of all virtues, unless of course, diversity leads one to assume that the law of non-contradiction applies to moral issues, in these cases, we cannot tolerate intolerance.

• All cultures are of equal value, except western culture, which is wholly bereft of redeeming value.

• Arguing that gaps in the fossil record disprove Neo-Darwinian evolution is an interesting idea that spurs important questions if you are Stephen Jay Gould and are proposing Punctuated Equilibria as a new theory of evolution. Arguing that gaps in the fossil record disprove Neo-Darwinian evolution is a mark of abject stupidity, if you are a young earth creationist.

The last double standard is the one I want to focus on in this post. Atheistic scientists are quick to discuss technical definitions of science when discussing Creation Science, and yes, if you are using a technical definition of science (what Ken Ham calls “Operational Science”) then this is correct. The problem of course is that Evolutionist do the same things, themselves. No one has observed the development of a new family or order by naturalistic means; if science is determined by observations and testing the hypothesis, evolution is ruled out. There is no scientific evidence for the development of new information in the genome, something necessary for the evolution to be science. Evolution’s relationship to religious atheism is identical to Creation Science’s relationship to Christian thought, but there is a double standard in how that relationship is understood – both are logical extrapolations of scientific data, and both sets of extractions are based on religious principles.

So how do we move the ball forward on this issue? Here are a few thoughts:
• Instead of pushing to have Creationism or Intelligent design taught in the public schools, we need to push to have evolution moved from biology classrooms to its proper location: classes on western thought or western philosophy, where multiple approaches can be discussed more reasonably.

• While learning something about the scientific arguments is important, but we need to study the interpretational elements of evolution as well. One of the modern hallmarks of religious naturalism (the religion of most atheists) is that it has been confused with science in a more technical sense. We need more Christians that can explain the difference.

• Finally, we need to call the evolutionists on this point. Pointing out the double standard is really indicating that evolutionists are not the unbiased observers they think themselves to be, and when a biased observer doesn’t recognize their own bias, they cannot be objective.

Christians Treehouses

There are two primary approaches to apologetics, or as J Warner Wallace would suggest, “case making” since that term makes more sense to the modern world. The first is commonly referred to as “Evidentialism” and the second as “presuppositionalism,” and there has been (at times) heated debates between theologians as to which approach is correct. Ultimately I find both approaches to be useful.

I could liken both arguments to tree houses. When I was a kid, I loved to climb the tree next door (we didn’t have an adequate climbing tree in our front yard), and the biggest problem for us was never going up the tree, it was coming back down. If we were to imagine an entire neighborhood full of tree houses, we have a useful (though not perfect) analogy to these two methodologies. Evidentialists point to the strength of the Christian tree’s trunk – the evidence for the resurrection. The Aforementioned J Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel are good examples of Evidentialist case makers on the lay-level, Habermas and Licona on the technical level. This approach matches the early declaration of the gospel as recorded in Acts. Since the Christian faith is rooted in the historicity of the resurrection, this approach focuses on making sure we understand that evidence – sometimes Christians forget how we collectively ended up in the tree in the first place. Evidentialism goes back to the basics of the Christian Faith.

Presuppositionalism on the other hand would be like us, sitting in our Christian tree, trying to convince everyone else that our tree is better than all of the other trees. Presuppositionalists often focus on arguments that seem secondary at first. The moral argument for God is an example, but Ken Ham (along with his ministry Answers in Genesis) operates from a presuppositionalist approach in regards to Creation Science. Presuppositionalists argue from the Christian worldview and compare it to other approaches. One of their invaluable contributions is the distinction between facts and the process of developing bias. To shift my analogy, Facts are bricks, and our beliefs and presuppositions are like the blueprints for the buildings we create. Presuppositionalists demonstrate that our buildings are ultimately more stable than those created by other systems because we have better blueprints.

So which type of case should we build? My suggestion is both. The Christian faith is rooted in the resurrection of Christ; the positive case for Christ is based in the historicity of that fact. However, if Christianity is true, then it has ramifications that go beyond history. As such, Christianity should be able to use other arguments because of their inherent veracity to point others to the Savior. These approaches may be used in tandem, the moral argument might open someone to listening to the evidence of the resurrection. Likewise, when discussing the evidence of the resurrection, we can presuppositionally answer other objections raised to the gospel. So how do you answer the questions of the faith?

Sunderland and the Enigma

Sunderland, Luther. Darwin’s Enigma: Ebbing the Tide of Naturalism. Green Forest, AR: Masters Books, 1998. Reprint 2002.

In preparation for our last piece on the tragedy of compromise, we’re going to republish two pieces from the Quartermaster’s tent. The first piece of these is a review of Sunderland’s book the Darwin Enigma. What I appreciate in Sunderland is where he is rare – he demonstrates and analyzes the philosophical elements of the discussion. Discovering him was a joy, because of my own work in a similar vein.

Sunderland’s book is an important aging work in the Creation-Evolution debate. The work is technical, and spends much of its focus on the failings and gaps in evolutionary theory. The work, as recognized by the title, focuses on evolution in large part due to its relationship to modern atheistic philosophy. Sunderland’s work is solid and technical for its day. He spends a great deal of time explaining – not those comments made by Biblical creationism about evolution, but those outside of our camp have said on the matter – including discussions between biologists and mathematicians. Among other things, Sunderland has sought to acquaint himself with the persons involved in the various debates. For example, he notes questions about Stephen Jay Gould’s Punctuated Equilibria as being at least partially derived from Marxist dialectical materialism.

Analysis: Southerland is a highly technical work. As my training is not in the hard sciences, I will not discuss his accuracy or inaccuracy. As the theory of evolution shifts regularly, this book, due to its age, may not be the best primary source. Southerland’s work was probably in production at the same time as Behe’s better known Darwin’s Black Box, so issues of molecular biology are not discussed in the same terms as Behe presents. Sunderland’s work also does not take the same steps to note when arguments are technical. However, Darwin’s Enigma hits the note of evidence and philosophy in the debate over evolution that many sources do not discuss: the question of the quality of the evidence. He notes this not only from the standpoint of Creationists’ argumentation, but he also notes prominent scientists who have likewise noted the evidentiary problems in the evolutionary theory. For example, he spends quite a bit of time on Karl Popper, one of the major names in Philosophy of Science. Popper is no young earth Creationist, but he refers to the theory of evolution as a metaphysical experiment – praising the experiment as a valuable one, but not calling it “science”. He also notes how many theories are related to evidentiary problems; for example, Goldberg’s Hopeful monster theory, or Punctuated Equillibria are precisely formed because the fossil record does not demonstrate gradual changes, but rapid change over a very short period of time. He goes on to note other issues that are outside of my domain, but these evidences alone are powerful information that the academics don’t tell their students. Sunderland’s research is erudite, beginning with Darwin and his sources.

Conclusions: If you are looking for an easy read or an introduction to the debate over evolution versus creation, this book is not for you. This book is useful if you are looking to expand your knowledge and understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the debate.

The Tragedy of Compromise: Evolution as Christianized Paganism

I’ve entitled this series “the tragedy of compromise”; not “the tragedy of evolutionary beliefs”. We’ve discussed the definition of religion, the definition of science, and we have linked this discussion to evolutionary thought (though we could – and eventually will – make similar connections with much of psychology, as well).

The tragedy of compromise is not that atheists believe in evolution – although, this is tragic because of the consequences to their souls. Rather, the tragedy of compromise is found in the number of Christian intellectuals who try to incorporate evolution into Christian thought.

A number of months ago, I put forward a series of sermons on evolution. My central text was Exodus 20:3 – “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Whenever theologians or Christians compromise on evolution, that commandment is being violated.

The actual danger for ancient Israel was not that they replaced the worship of Yahweh (commonly transliterated as Jehovah) with the worship of Ba’al, Molek, or any of the other pagan deities. The true danger was that the Israelites worshipped Yahweh and Molek, Ba’al, and added elements of pagan worship to the worship of God (the second commandment). This, in fact, is what occurred. There are temples to Yahweh that have been discovered by archeologists, which included an Asharah pole (an idol representing a deity’s wife). The books of Kings and Chronicles indicate the same thing: the worship of God was adulterated with pagan elements. Then, the Israelites began to add foreign religions, along with the worship of the God of Heaven. Ahaz, for example, was an idolater, but he was also involved in the worship of God enough to change the design of the altar, in the Temple.

The consequences were devastating; similarly, the tragic consequences of evolution are equally devastating.

Atheists regularly assert that racism and the Ku Klux Klan have received safe haven in the Church. But, they often fail to realize (due to the typical atheist tendency to avoid actually looking into the details of their arguments) that a major element of Christians’ holding to racist ideas was compromise on the issue of evolution.

When uniformitarianism (the geological basis of much of evolutionary thought) was first postulated, Christians began to accommodate evolutionary thought to the book of Genesis. This is the source of numerous ideas, such as the gap theory (the idea that the world fell and needed recreation after Genesis 3), the day age theory (the days of creation are not literal days, but are references to epochs of time), and various other viewpoints. Over time, evolutionary theory was accommodated further and further. The classic case was made (perhaps ironically) by B. B. Warfield in 1911 (“ironically” because the best discussion defining the Biblical doctrine of Inspiration is a collection Warfield’s essays on the topic). These theories were the standard approach to Genesis for nearly a century.

One of the results, of course, was that Christians grew more open concerning issues of origin than they had been previously; this included openness on racial origins. This, again, was in keeping with the racist ideas that were an integral part of late 19th century and early twentieth Century Darwinian theory. Social Darwinism was nothing less than the logical conclusions of Darwin’s work The Descent of Man.

Some argued that black men were not descended from Adam and Eve, but evolved from lower animals. Others incorrectly connected blacks to the curse of Noah’s son Ham. Still others treated Genesis 1-12 as myths, and history as having begun at a later date, in which case the unity of the human race was ignored. In all cases, the Church was open to racism because of compromises with naturalism.

As believers, then, we must seriously consider the damage to the Christian faith when we compromise with evolutionists. As I noted before, evolution requires an a priori assumption of the principles underlying philosophical naturalism. The intellectual element of my faith is couched in the Resurrection of Christ (see our on-going series on our more technical site). Because I believe that Christ was resurrected, I am forced to repudiate naturalism. If I rebuild that which I have destroyed, I am become a transgressor of the Law (Galatians 2).

If someone asks me, as Ken Ham was once asked, what would cause you to change your mind on evolution, my answer is once again, “Find the Body.”

Ken Ham: the lie – a review

Ham, Ken. The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years. Green Forest, AR: Master books, 1987. Revised Edition, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012.

I first encountered Ken Ham’s The Lie: Evolution when I was a Freshman or Sophmore in Bible College. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it to be incredibly useful. It affected my understanding of Biblical Creationism and though Ham did not use the term in the original edition, it was my first real introduction to presuppositional case-making (see on the term “presuppositional”). In the time since that first reading, I have grown and my thinking deepened, the new expanded and revised edition of The Lie has likewise deepened and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Analysis: Ham’s revision updates the book for its appropriateness to today’s issues. This work is not a scientific analysis as one sees from Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box or Luther Sunderland’s Darwin’s Enigma, nor should it be a substitute for these works. Rather, this book focuses on interpretational issues, and why Genesis matters. In discussing the issue of Evolution, the influence of philosophical naturalism is felt on what Ham refers to as “historical science,” as opposed to “operational science” (which appears to be the science based on the scientific method that we are familiar with from our high school textbooks). The Lie demonstrates how evolution and the concept of “millions of years,” “molecules to man,” “Goo to you,” etc. is the primary foundation for the attack on Christianity by the modern world.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was the updated castle diagram. While I agree with Ken Ham’s assertions about the centrality of Genesis to Christian teaching and the importance of defending the creation accounts (since this is the chief offensive strategy of the modern pagan worldview), I have long viewed the resurrection as the central evidentiary foundation for Christianity (our positive case) and creation science as a point where we are being attacked (a negative case). Ham’s updated diagram (which still focuses on the modern theory of millions of years) demonstrates his argument applies to all of God’s truth, and presents a point of unification for multiple apologetic strategies. One could truly apply his discussion to more than the assault on God’s prerogative as Creator, and it becomes therefore more useful to understand for all areas of case making.

Conclusions: Ham’s book alone is insufficient for answering the attacks by Philosophical Naturalists. However, Ham provides a strategy for understanding the issue as no other writer today. This is absolutely a must read for all believers, and is perhaps the first book that all believers should read on this debate because of the strategy and its explanation of the importance of the issue. Because Ham roots his discussion in the Biblical worldview, his message is sorely needed for understanding the importance of Genesis.