In addition to the live webcast that will be available for the upcoming debate entitled The Great Debate: Does the Bible Provide an Adequate Answer to the Problem of Suffering? between Bart Ehrman and Michael L. Brown (register here to view the webcast), Voice of Revolution will be live-tweeting the event as well. To follow the debate via twitter, follow our twitter account here: http://twitter.com/v_o_r. We’ll be using #TheGreatDebate as the event hashtag as well, for those that want to weigh in on the debate.
Pray for God to be glorified, and for the truth to be propertly articulated. According to Michael Brown:
The goal for me is not to win a debate or to look good but to magnify the Lord and, by the Spirit of God, see many people drawn to Him. May God’s light and love and truth prevail! May Jesus be exalted!
CHARLOTTE, NC – Authors and scholars Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Bart Ehrman will debate the question “Does The Bible Provide An Adequate Answer to the Problem of Suffering?” on April 15, 2010, in the Great Meeting Room in the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University from 7-9:30 p.m.
The debate is being hosted by Ratio Christi, a ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary, as well as CJF Ministries, Beth Messiah Congregation, Into the Field, Jewish Voice Ministries International, Messianic Literature Outreach, Messianic Studies Institute, Sha’arei Shalom, Shoresh OSU, The Gathering.
Dr. Alex McFarland, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary, states, “As we look around the world today, we see such evidence of suffering: earthquakes in Haiti, famine in Africa, wars and ethnic cleansing, parents who lose a child to cancer. In Christian apologetics, we look for rational, Biblical explanations, and we highly recommend this upcoming debate as these scholars examine this infinite topic.”
Ratio Christi (Latin for ‘The Reason of Christ’) is a non-profit ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina , which seeks to place apologetics clubs at secular and liberal universities across the nation. These chapters have weekly meetings where students can wrestle with ideas relating to the intellectual credibility of Christianity.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.TheGreatDebate.me or call 614 855-9501. You can register for the free, live webcast of the debate at the website.
Michael L. Brown is an Old Testament scholar and Messianic Jewish Apologist who holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages from New York University . He is the author of twenty books, including a commentary on the book of Jeremiah and the highly-acclaimed five-volume series Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Brown serves as a visiting or adjunct professor at four leading seminaries, and his work has been featured in the Charlotte Observer , the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun. For more information, please visit his website.
Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including two New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why we Suffer. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , and is a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity. His work has been featured in Time, the New Yorker, the Washington Post , and other print and electronic media. For more, please visit his website.
Alex McFarland has been in full-time ministry since 1989 and is currently the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina . As a Christian apologist (one who explains and rationally defends faith), he has spent over two decades training teens and adults in biblical worldview reasoning. A good portion of that time was spent working with Focus on the Family ministering to teens. Through his Stand Weekends and National Conference on Apologetics , Dr. McFarland has assembled the world’s premiere Christian apologists with a goal of introducing new audiences to the truths of Christianity. He is also the author of a brand new book series for teens: Stand: Seeking the Way of God, Unleashing the Wisdom of God and Diving Into the Word of God, in addition to many other books and publications. His one-hour daily radio program, Sound Rēzn , is heard on over 130 radio stations on the American Family Radio network. Visit www.soundrezn.com for show information, guests, archives and more.
For more information about SES, student enrollment, or for the calendar of events and the schedule for next year’s National Conference on Christian Apologetics, go to www.ses.edu
To book Dr. Alex McFarland for an interview or speaking engagement, contact Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies – 215-815-7716 / 610-584-1096 or DHamilton@HamiltonStrategies.com
Editor’s Note: The podcast of this debate is now available here.
According to Dr. Brown:
On Thursday (March 25), I will be joining Dr. James White on his Dividing Line broadcast from 1:00-2:30 PM, EST (internet only), as we continue our debate on Calvinism. (We plan to do one more show on the Dividing Line on April 1.) On Thursday’s show, I have been asked by Dr. White to discuss some of the key texts used by Calvinists to support their views, so this should be a fascinating learning experience for everyone involved. You can listen online HERE.
The format of the debate is described below, from Dr. White’s website:
For those interested, we will be covering three texts of Scripture on Thursday: John 6, Romans 8/9, and Ephesians 1. Each will have 8 minutes to provide their exegesis of the text; then we will have four minutes of cross-ex each, then three minute conclusions before moving on to the next text. I know, not a lot of time, but that still covers 90 full minutes (we will not be taking any breaks at all).
The following Thursday we will repeat the process, but this time covering Michael’s chosen texts, Luke 13:34-35 (Deut 5:28-29) Ezek 18:21-32 (Jer 3:19-20; Ezek 22:30-31) I John 2:1-2 (2 Pet 2:1).
Remember, to make room for Michael’s program (which cannot, like the DL, be moved around at will), we will be starting at 10am our time (1pm EDT).
Last year, Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and subsequently drew criticism from Catholics for referring to the Pope and some Catholic bishops as “discredited leaders.” Below is a debate Dr. Brown had with him in 2008.
Science is a somewhat ambiguous word. Often, it is taken to mean the interpretation of empirical evidence indicating a phenomenon, physical effect or biological function. Modern society, to a certain extent, is based heavily on the idea that we should shape our function and everyday living by scientific finding and fact. However, this was not always the way of things…
As an introduction, I would like to say, that it is the way of Man to struggle to believe what can be proved by hard fact. Man is, for the most part, a disbelieving being. While we are children, we are told fairy tales and have facts hidden from us that may be detrimental to our long-term character if discovered too soon (imagine the horror of a two year old finding out the real ‘facts of life’). It is in our youth that we begin to ask questions about what we have heard and we shed the old ‘childlike belief’ for a more rational explanation of things.
Unfortunately, we do not naturally retain a good amount of ‘childlike’ faith and this must be regained through self-examination and grace, but that is not the issue here.
It is also the nature of Man to be in disagreement with one another. Socio-psychological perspectives change our ideas greatly and one man argues from his rational thought process only to be ‘beaten down’ by the ‘trump card’ of scientific observation. In our modern culture, it is almost always the case when discussing the existence of God that the conversation turns to some question on the origin of man. Here, expectations, which are often unrealistic, are placed upon the man who uses a purely reasoned argument instead of a purely empirical one. Regrettably, this can lead to the ‘unscientific’ side appearing weak on fact or, as some insensitively put it, disillusioned.
We sympathise with those who feel ‘blinded by science’ and want to take a chance to re-evaluate the idea that arguments based on scientific evidence can be used as a trump-card against philosophical or ‘reasoned’ arguments, or as Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist once put it, “The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
The Meaning of Meaning
Ironically, the meaning of meaning is complex. Even in the root origin of the word, semantics or the study of meaning means ‘significance’[i]. For example, when Pilate asks Jesus “What is truth?”[ii], he is asking a semantic question i.e. what should I understand to be the meaning behind the word truth?
Language is nothing but a common schema of words, symbols or actions attached to associated meaning. To demonstrate, if I were to look at an apple on the table and say it looked ‘scrumptious,’ the meaning would be obvious to somebody sitting on the other side of the table that knows the same language as I do. However, one of the great problems that we face in a ‘global village’ world is the language barrier.A recent study showed that there are only 328M English-speaking people in the world, but it also appeared at the same time as the one millionth word mark was surpassed by the English language[iii]. Clearly, the English language is a ‘common schema’ that is not so common.
This creates a problem for us as people who need to communicate and classify things. We have different definitions of words because our language is complex and our understanding of the definition of a word changes both our interpretation of the word and how we apply the classification of the word to our own lives. Continuing in the same stream, let us ask the following question of ourselves, “What do we understand by the word science?”
We will look at this question in three parts:
We will explore the literal meanings of science
We will explore the wider usage of the word science
We shall look at two ‘branches’ of science and particularly at one, which has less value accounted to it in our culture.
As we have already discovered, and deduced from conversations and debates, Science is generally taken to be the empirical basis on which natural processes stand – that is to say, evidence defines Science. Rightly so. Excepting Proto-Indo-European origins, all western usages of ‘Science’ can be traced back to variations on ‘Knowledge.’[iv] Later we will deal with two distinct ‘branches’ of the term, but for now, we will take Science to be the knowledge of some natural process.
Biology, physics and chemistry are the three foundational disciplines of Science. In these areas of study and experimentation, we divine the natural processes and systems behind everyday life through empirical testing and then make an interpretation of them based solely on the findings of our experimentation.
Of course, interpretation and evidence are unhappy bedfellows. They do not go well together at all, one is highly subjective and the other highly objective. It is possible that our perception of the evidence before us is entirely misguided by our individual bias, or as Aristotle puts it, “it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.”[v]
However, it is also admissible to say that we may eliminate our bias and regard all data in an experiment only for what it is. Although it is not generally an accepted view, it is none the less possible, but remains entirely in the hands of those qualified to obtain accurate evidence through experimentation.
In the light of Aristotle’s writings, we are presented with an interesting issue in the definition of science. The science, of which we have thus far spoken, the knowledge of natural process, is not the only usage of the word. Let us turn to an overview of some other usages.
Findings in a recent study[vi] conducted at Reading University (UK) places the oldest words in the English language to be: I, We, One, Three and Five. The earliest English speakers often had trouble asking for two cups of sugar from their neighbours (i.e. “Do you have two cups of sugar.”) In addition to the difficulties experienced by Anglo-Saxons when baking cakes, the study also demonstrates that words change their meaning over time.
As previously stated, Science is quite a narrow concept in our culture, but the concept has a far wider historical usage than is often accredited it. Let’s look at some examples.
‘Conscience’ is a compound word used to describe the idea of knowledge of right and wrong of some kind. ‘Ideology’ has the ‘science of ideas’ listed as one of its usages. Ironically, ‘sciolist’ is the name given to someone with a superficial knowledge of academic matters but has the same Latin root as Science. For Kant, Aesthetics is the science, which treats the condition of sensuous perception i.e. the knowledge of senses.
Surely, unable to deny our own narrow concept of Science, we should attempt to come up with a more diverse classification of the term.
Next time, we will take a look at a better classification of the word Science.
[i] The word ‘semantics’ is taken from the Greek word ‘semantikos’ meaning ‘significance’ and ultimately, from the Greek word for ‘sign.’
[ii] John 18:38 – Pilate’s intention in this verse is debatable.
NARTH recently put out a press release concerning a new journal they’ve published:
New Scientific Research Refutes Unsubstantiated Claims Regarding Homosexuality
Encino, CA- A new report in this month’s edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation is not immutable and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted homosexual attractions is beneficial and poses no significant risk of harm. The study, What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the American Psychological Associations Claims on Homosexuality, examines over 100 years of professional and scientific literature as well as over 600 reports from clinicians, researchers, and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.
This research, assembled over a period of eighteen months by three of the leading academics and therapists in the field and under the direction of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee directly refutes unsubstantiated claims made by some factions of the American Psychological Association and several other professional mental health organizations. The study, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a network of professionals dedicated to upholding the rights of men and women dealing with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care, confirms the results of a 2007 longitudinal study conducted by researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse that found that religiously mediated sexual orientation change is possible for some individuals and does not cause psychological harm on average.
“This research is a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality,” said NARTH president Dr. Julie Hamilton. “It also confirms what we have seen evidenced in hundreds of individuals who have benefited from the help of NARTH therapists. We believe that every person should have the right to independently determine their own course in life and for many that involves seeking counseling options that affirm their personal beliefs.”
In addition to What Research Shows, a collection of peer-reviewed scholarly and professional papers entitled Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Sexual Identity Confusion in Children and Adolescents, will be published in Volume II of the Journal of Human Sexuality.
Requests for copies or for a more detailed summary of the inaugural issue of the journal should be addressed to: Journal of Human Sexuality • 307 West 200 South, Suite 3001 • Salt Lake City, UT 84101. The journal can also be ordered by phone at 1-888-364-4744 or online at www.narth.com. A PDF summary of the journal may be downloaded at www.narth.com.
Rather than putting out information regarding new studies, this is an anlaysis of “over 100 years of professional and scientific literature as well as over 600 reports from clinicians, researchers, and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.” This should prove to be a great resource in the ongoing public debate over homosexuality, reparative therapy, and “ex-gay” or “post-gay” ministries.
Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign (watch a debate between Dr. Brown and Harry Knox here), is in hot water after comments he made against the Catholic Church.
In 2007, Knox said in reference to an outspoken lesbian Wyoming couple being refused communion at a Catholic church (an act which is commendable Biblically, see 1 Cor 11:27-29):
“In this holy Lenten season, it is immoral and insulting to Jesus to use the body and blood of Christ the reconciler as a weapon to silence free speech and demean the love of a committed, legally married couple. The Human Rights Campaign grieves with the couple, Leah Vader and Lynne Huskinson, over this act of spiritual and emotional violence perpetrated against them.”
In 2009, Knox reacted to the Vatican’s opposition to an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality by stating:
“As faith leaders we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative. By refusing to sign a basic statement opposing inhumane treatment of LGBT people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. Most Catholics, and indeed most Catholic teachings, tell us that all people are entitled to live with basic human dignity without the threat of violence. The Catholics we know believe that Scripture asks us to be our brother and our sister’s keeper. Many are speaking out against this immoral stance in the name of religion.”
A call has been made from Catholic leaders to have President Obama dismiss Mr. Knox from his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Community Partnerships:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500-0003
Dear Mr. President,
On April 6, you named Harry Knox to your Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. You claim to have created this Council, among other things, to “bring everyone together – from both the secular and faith-based communities.”
Harry Knox is the hate-filled antithesis of this noble objective. Knox is a virulent anti-Catholic bigot, and has made numerous vile and dishonest attacks against the Church and the Holy Father. He has no business on any Council having to do with faith or religion.
We do not know if you or members of your Administration were aware of Knox’s deplorable, abusive attitude towards the Church and Pope Benedict XVI when you named him to the Council. We assume you were not. But since then, there have been numerous press reports on Knox’s loathsome, and clearly bigoted rhetoric, so there no longer is any excuse for your failure to act. We can remain silent no longer.
As Catholics, we call on you to remove Mr. Knox from his position and to formally disassociate yourself from his militant anti-Catholicism. Failure to do so will result in the tainting of your Faith-Based Council—and indeed, your entire administration—as anti-Catholic. We urge you to give this matter your immediate consideration.
House Republican Leader
Member of Congress
L. Brent Bozell, III
Founder and President
Media Research Center
Judie Brown, President,
American Life League, Inc.
Catholic Activist and Founder
National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS)
Executive Vice President
Family Research Council
Deacon Keith A. Fournier Editor in Chief, Catholic Online
Founder, Common Good
Deal W. Hudson
Philip F. Lawler
Catholic World News
National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
(Mr. Leo’s affiliation is listed for identification purposes only)
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council
Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
National Review Institute
American Papist Blog
The American Spectator
Patrick J. Reilly
The Cardinal Newman Society
Notre Dame Law School
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM)
Founder and President
Fr. Robert Sirico
The Acton Institute
American Target Advertising
Editor’s Note: A summary of the arguments made during the debate can be found here.
Premier Christian philosopher Dr. WIlliam Lane Craig and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens will be debating the question “Does God Exist?” April 4th at Biola University. A live webcast of the event will be shown, and can be purchased here.