The Appropriate Place for Religion in the Intelligent Design Debate

By Jason Carlson

This past weekend I was speaking on the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate. After my lecture a student approached me and asked, “Mr. Carlson, when I tried to defend Intelligent Design in my public school science class, my teacher asked me, ‘which version of Intelligent Design are you talking about?  Christian?  Native American?  Hindu?’  He went on to say to me, ‘If you want to talk about Intelligent Design, you can’t avoid having to give equal time to everybody’s story of creation. This is why it’s best to leave religion out of the science classes.’  Well, I didn’t know how to respond to this.”

This student was faced with a common response from opponents to Intelligent Design. Many who oppose the Intelligent Design position will argue that as soon as you open the door to supernatural creation, you necessarily open the door to any and every version of supernatural creation ever postulated by humanity. However, this just isn’t the case.

The reality is, in regards to the debate over whether or not Intelligent Design should be considered in our public school science classrooms, we are still dealing with the world of science, observation and experimentation. The fact of the matter is this, all people, no matter what religion or philosophy they adhere to, have access to the very same observable scientific evidence. So, whether you’re coming at it from an Atheistic perspective, Christian perspective, Native American perspective, or Hindu perspective, all of us have the same access to the observable scientific evidence. Now, with this being the case, we must ask two questions, but ask them in their appropriate environments:  1) In our public school science classrooms we should ask, “Does the scientific evidence point towards Naturalistic evolution or Intelligent Design?” And 2) Outside of our public school science classrooms we should ask, “Which religious worldview best explains the scientific evidence?”

The Intelligent Design position can be used by whatever religious worldview that wants to attach itself to it. However, those religious worldviews all have the equal challenge of explaining how their creation story best coincides with the observable scientific evidence. So, if you want to embrace a Native American creation story, you have to explain how it fits with the scientific evidence that we all equally share; the same is true for Christians, Hindus, etc… but this should be done outside of our public school science classrooms.

The point of all of this is that Intelligent Design is not about advocating one religious version of creation over another in our public schools. Intelligent Design is simply a position that points out the scientific evidence forsome Intelligent Designer found throughout the natural world. Science cannot answer the question of who or what that Intelligent Designer is, but science can lead us to the conclusion that an Intelligent Designer must have been involved. It is left to the various religions to demonstrate why their version of the creation story best fits the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design.

So, what should be taught in our public school science classrooms?  We should teach the scientific evidence for and against evolution and the scientific evidence for and against Intelligent Design. However, for those who are persuaded towards Intelligent Design, and who have the further desire to identify the Intelligence behind the Design, this is a pursuit that is rightly taken up outside of our public school science classrooms.

The Real Cultural Divide

By Ron Carlson and Jason Carlson

The 21st century is witnessing a real cultural divide in America often defined as Red vs. Blue, Conservative vs. Liberal, Pro-Life vs. Pro-Abortion, Traditional Marriage vs. Gay-Marriage, Individual responsibility vs. Big Government control. But these are all merely symptoms of what is at the heart of the real cultural divide in America.

Underlying the debate in America is a much deeper worldview issue that divides and determines how people think and live. A worldview is your philosophy of life; it is how you perceive reality. Everyone has a worldview. Your worldview will ultimately determine your value for life, your basis of morality, your meaning and purpose, your ultimate destiny, and even how you vote.

What is this foundational issue that lies at the core of America’s cultural divide? In philosophy, there are three great questions that everyone must answer. They are the questions of Origins, Meaning and Purpose, and Ultimate Destiny after death. Today, the basic issue dividing America is over the question of Origins. Is man an accident, evolved from impersonal “pond scum” as taught in most public schools and universities or is man the unique creation of a personal and loving Creator? How you answer this question will determine everything else in life.

The Bible says, “In the beginning God created”. This was the philosophy that brought about modern science.  The founders of modern science held a Biblical worldview and believed that there was an intelligent Designer who created an intelligent, logical world that we could observe and experiment with to get logical and rational answers. They believed that a “frog turning into a prince” was a nursery fairytale.

At the end of the Nineteenth Century, a theory became popular known as Darwinian Evolution.  Secular Humanists, who declared that “God was dead” or God did not exist, found in Darwin what they believed was a scientific rationale for rejecting the Biblical Creator and thus the teachings of God’s Word, the Bible. This worldview today is taught in our major universities as the philosophy of Naturalism. Naturalism dominates most schools today and says that there is no God, there is no supernatural, and that everything can be explained merely in terms of a finite three-dimensional box of time and space.  Today evolutionary Humanists in our universities now teach and believe that “a frog turning into a prince” is Science!

In studying 19th and 20th Century philosophy, it is interesting that Secular Humanists never once disproved the existence of God.  What they did was simply define God out of existence by creating a definition of reality (Naturalism) that was so small that God did not fit. They said, “If I cannot put God in a test tube or an algebraic formula, then God does not exist.”  They never disproved God; they simply defined God out of existence by limiting themselves a priori to a finite, naturalistic, materialistic worldview. Thus, a “frog turning into a prince” became out of necessity, no longer a nursery fairytale, but logical and rational to the evolutionary Humanist.

Once you declare, as the basis of truth, that a “frog turning into a prince” is science, you are then free to throw out all logical and rational thought. Consequently, truth and morality are pushed aside into the realm of the subjective and relative, since “accidents evolved from pond scum” have no absolutes.  Today this Naturalistic worldview is being reflected in our schools, courts, political ideology, and contemporary culture.

The real cultural divide in America comes down to this: is man an animal evolved from “pond scum” or is man a unique Creation of God? How you answer this question will determine all of the other questions and issues of life!

Keep Faith Out of the Classroom

by Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson

In the past two weeks the debate over the teaching of Intelligent Design theory in our nation’s schools has intensified.  President Bush has weighed in, supporting academic freedom and the right of students to examine competing theories on the origin of life.  Numerous television news programs have featured stories on the debate over Intelligent Design.  Even the most recent issue of TIME magazine features the debate prominently on its cover titled, “Evolution Wars”.

In the midst of all of this attention and debate over the role of Intelligent Design theory in our nation’s classrooms, the critics of Intelligent Design continue to assert that Intelligent Design theory is unscientific, is nothing more than a faith position, and therefore should not be taught in our nation’s schools.  In our article from last week we responded to these charges and highlighted a number of the flaws in the arguments of Intelligent Design’s critics.  However, as a follow-up this week, we would like to further explore this idea that faith does not belong in the classroom.

We find it very curious that the Secularist critics of Intelligent Design continue to assert that “faith does not belong in the classroom”, while at the same time claiming that only the theory of naturalistic evolution provides a truly credible, “scientific” explanation for life’s origins.  We find this curious because the theory of naturalistic evolution is packed full of faith propositions.  In fact, the vast majority of the theory of evolution has no scientific evidence to support it, but rather is almost totally assumed by faith.  Let’s examine some of the more glaring examples of faith disguised as science in the theory of naturalistic evolution:

First, naturalistic evolution claims that in the beginning there was nothing, just a vast, empty void of darkness.  And then suddenly, miraculously (oops… there’s that tricky faith), there was a huge explosion, which evolutionists call the “big bang”.  Out of this “big bang”, where nothingness exploded, sprang all of the elements, all of the matter, all of the physical stuff that would eventually lead to the entire cosmos and even to life on Earth.

Now, this idea of the “big bang” raises some legitimate questions:  How does nothing explode?  How does nothing produce all of the elements and physical material in the universe?  How does nothing lead to something, anything, let alone the immense complexity that we see displayed in our universe?  The naturalistic evolutionists have no answers for these questions.  They simply assume, by faith, that somehow the “big bang” took place.

A second example of the faith of naturalistic evolutionists is found in regards to the origin of life on Earth.  The theory of naturalistic evolution states that sometime around 4 billion years ago there was a primordial, inorganic soup of nauseous chemicals bubbling away here on planet Earth.  While this primordial stew was simmering, suddenly these non-living chemicals combined to miraculously (oops… faith again) form the first living single cell.  This original living single cell eventually multiplied, grew fins, crawled out of the sea, swung through the trees, started walking upright, and is now reading this article.

However, once again, this claim that non-living matter spontaneously generated life raises some serious questions:  How does non-living matter ever turn into living matter?  How do inorganic chemicals turn into life?  Didn’t Louis Pasteur and others disprove the notion of spontaneous generation roughly 150 years ago?  The naturalistic evolutionists have no answers for these questions.  They simply assume, by faith, that somehow, contrary to all known laws of science that spontaneous generation occurred to create the first living single cell.

A third example of the faith of naturalistic evolutionists is found in regards to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, also known as the problem of Entropy.  The theory of naturalistic evolution declares that life has progressively evolved to greater and greater levels of organization and complexity.  However, the problem with this idea is that it runs totally contrary to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, a proven law of science, which says that all things run down from a state of organization and complexity to states of disorganization and chaos.

Here again, the naturalistic evolutionist must face some important questions:  How can evolution defy this basic law of science?  Why is it that evolution is the one exception to the rule of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?  Where else have we ever seen any proof of natural processes defying the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?  The naturalistic evolutionists have no satisfactory answers for these questions.  They simply assume, by faith, that somehow evolution was able to overcome the problem of Entropy and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

We could go on and on listing the faith propositions found in the theory of naturalistic evolution.  The point of all of this is that the Secularist critics of Intelligent Design are simply being dishonest when they claim that the theory of evolution is a purely “scientific” explanation for the origin of life.  Naturalistic evolution is full of faith propositions.  Thus, if the Secularists of the world want to prohibit the teaching of Intelligent Design from our nation’s classrooms, they must find other grounds than simply continuing to claim that it is invalid because it is a “faith position”.  Naturalistic evolution is every bit as much of a faith position as is Intelligent Design.

Therefore, let us offer a suggestion, either we keep faith out of the classroom altogether, prohibiting the teaching of naturalistic evolution and Intelligent Design, or we allow students the academic freedom to equally analyze and critique these competing faith positions on the origin of life.  If naturalistic evolution is as scientific as the Secularists claim, they’ll have nothing to worry about.

Assessing the Opposition to Intelligent Design

by Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson

This past week President Bush declared his support for the theory of Intelligent Design. President Bush, along with 50% of Americans, believes that the theory of Intelligent Design should be taught side-by-side with the theory of Evolution in our nation’s schools. While this was an absolutely intelligent declaration by President Bush, his comments drew nothing but anger and ridicule from the Secularists of the world.

The Secularists of the world cannot tolerate the possibility of a Creator-God (because once you admit there is a Creator, then you become morally responsible to the Creator); and they will do anything and everything to remove the option of a Creator-God from the table. There are a number of primary strategies employed by the Secularists to dismiss the option of Divine intervention and the theory of Intelligent Design as an explanation for the origin of life.

The first strategy the Secularists have used to dismiss the option of a Creator-God and the theory of Intelligent Design is to redefine the historical meaning of science. When it comes to the question of the origin of life, Secularists have redefined “science” to equal “naturalistic evolution”. In framing the debate in these terms, the Secularists have ruled out the possibility of God a priori, stating that only naturalistic explanations will be considered “scientific”. As a result of this, Secularists cling to the theory of naturalistic evolution as the only “scientific” explanation for life, in spite of facts such as: the failure of naturalistic evolution to account for the origin of life from non-living matter, or the failure of naturalistic evolution to account for natural selection’s demonstrable inability to produce any new genetic information, or the failure of naturalistic evolution to explain immense complexities like the single cell, the eye, or the ear (the problem of irreducible complexity). In spite of all of these problems and more, the Secular advocates of naturalistic evolution maintain that they alone are looking at the question of origins “scientifically”.

The second strategy often employed by the Secularists, in the debate over the place of Intelligent Design theory in our nation’s schools, is to attack the position of Intelligent Design with false labels. So, when you listen to Secular commentators or read their editorials, you will often hear Intelligent Design ridiculed as “pseudo-science”, “Creationism 2.0”,  “Creationism’s modern stepchild”, “faith disguised as science”, or “flat-earth science”. All of these labels are used with the purpose of flippantly dismissing Intelligent Design from the table of options without ever seriously addressing the arguments and claims of Intelligent Design. These ad hominem attacks only serve to reveal the philosophical bias the Secularists have against any theory for the origin of life that doesn’t rely solely on Naturalistic explanations.

Finally, a third strategy used by the Secularists to write off Intelligent Design is the tactic of stating that Intelligent Design is a philosophical or faith position and therefore does not belong in the realm of scientific debate and inquiry. This strategy contains the same flaws of the two false strategy’s mentioned above, but includes the additional flaw of failing to recognize the philosophical nature of their own, Secularist position. Secularism and its theory of naturalistic evolution are just as much of a philosophical or faith position as is Intelligent Design. No matter how “scientific” Secularists claim naturalistic evolution to be, the fact remains that when we are dealing with the question of origins, we are dealing with philosophical propositions. Science is based on observation and experimentation; and since nobody was around to observe the origin of life, and since it has not and cannot be replicated in experimentation, we are therefore dealing in the realm of philosophical speculation, not science.

Thus, the real questions should be, which philosophical position has more scientific evidence to support it and do students in science classes have the academic freedom to analyze and critique the pros and cons of any theory of origins that claims to be true?  This is where Intelligent Design theory and the theory of naturalistic evolution should be evaluated on the same terms… which is exactly what 50% of Americans believe and what President Bush called for this week.

Starting Apologetic Conversations Without Sounding Confrontational

By Jason Carlson

Recently a young man asked me, “How do I share my faith with someone who disagrees with me without sounding confrontational?”  This is a great question; and really, this is the attitude all of us as Christians should have when we think about sharing our faith. We need to be bold, but we also need to practice gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

If there’s someone in your life you’d like to share your faith with, but you’re not sure how to start, let me suggest the following strategy:

Begin the conversation with a question such as, “I’m interested in what you believe about (insert topic). Would you mind telling me more about your views on this?”  Here you’ve opened a door to conversation, but in a very non-threatening way. You’re simply showing interest in them as a person and what they believe.

Now, if the person you’re talking with is willing to share with you, listen respectfully and when they’re done acknowledge your appreciation for their openness.

Next you’ll want to begin to move the conversation towards a discussion of your different beliefs. To do so, politely note that you recognized some differences between their beliefs and yours. For example, “I found it interesting that you said you believe (insert topic). That’s a different perspective on this issue from what I hold.”

Now, at this point your conversation partner may ask you to share more about your beliefs with them. If so, go for it. However, it they don’t seem immediately interested, you might follow-up with something like, “Isn’t it interesting how we can both believe something about (insert topic) to be true, yet at the same time have such different perspectives?”

What you’ve just done here with this last question is you’ve introduced some helpful, logical tension into the conversation. You see, when it comes to the nature of truth- what is real or the way things really are- there cannot be two different and contradictory positions for a given issue. For example, if you’re talking to an Atheist, either God exists or He doesn’t. Both of these positions cannot be true.

Hopefully your conversation partner will intuitively recognize the logical tension presented by your competing beliefs, but if not, it can be helpful to follow up with a simple observation such as, “You know, with our respective beliefs on this issue being so different, we can’t both be right.”

Having made this observation you now have a great opportunity to take your conversation to the next level apologetically. Try saying something like, “Personally, when I think about this issue, I don’t want to believe something that isn’t true. Maybe we should explore this topic more together?  Would you be open to discussing our respective beliefs further with me and examining why we each believe what we believe?”

Now, ideally your conversation partner will be open to your proposal, maybe out of curiosity for whether or not their belief is true, maybe to assist you in your intellectual questioning, or maybe just because they like a good debate. Whatever their motive, in using this line of questioning and observation you’ve created an opportunity for ongoing apologetic conversation with them.

Of course, it’s possible your discussion partner might not be interested in examining your respective beliefs any further. If they refuse your offer, you can politely state, “Thanks for taking some time to talk with me about this. If you’d ever be open to discussing this more I’d really enjoy that.”

While it might appear that you haven’t gotten very far with this last outcome, the reality is, you’ve planted a seed and hopefully your discussion partner will begin to think more about what they believe and why. If they do, and if they want to explore this further at some point, now they know someone they can approach for conversation. This alone is a positive result.

Now, notice how this conversation unfolded. Throughout this whole process you’ve been able to direct the conversation respectfully and without sounding confrontational. By simply asking honest questions and making uncritical observations, you’ve highlighted and raised important issues that warrant further consideration.

If you have someone in your life you’ve been hoping to share your faith with I’d encourage you to give this technique a try. I’m confident you’ll find it a helpful tool for opening up fruitful apologetic conversations. 

What Makes Christianity Unique?

By Jason Carlson

“Mr. Carlson, tell me something, why are you Christians always sending missionaries around the world? Why don’t you just leave people alone? Other countries have their own cultures, their own religions, they’re happy with what they’ve got. Why don’t you just let people be?” This was the question that a young man in a large, non-Christian university asked me recently after I had finished a lecture on world religions.

Have you ever thought about this question? It’s a very interesting question for Christians to consider and probably one of the most important questions we could ask ourselves. What is so special about Jesus Christ and Christianity that we feel compelled to carry this message to the ends of the earth?

The answer to this question is found in the very nature of what Christianity truly is. Many people in our world today, even some Christians, have embraced the false idea that Christianity is just another religion in a world full of religious options. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

What makes Christianity unique? Christianity is unique amongst all of the religions of the world because Christianity is truly not a religion!

What are religions? Religions are human attempts to make our lives right with God- through our good works, sacrifices, rituals, and money. However, Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save men and women through His Son Jesus Christ; and it is only by placing our faith in him and his saving work on the cross that we might be saved. Christianity is not about what we do as human beings in order to please God, but rather, it’s about what God has done for us so that we could have a relationship with him.

Jesus’ disciple John tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Christianity, different from every other religion in the world, offers salvation that is based not on human merit, but on a free gift from our Creator, God. This is what makes Christianity unique. As the apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” In his great love for us God has offered the world a gift, a relationship with him through his Son, Jesus Christ. We cannot earn it, we cannot buy it; it’s free, it’s a gift.

Why do Christians send missionaries around the world? Why do we feel compelled to evangelize and contend for our faith? It’s because God has given the world a gift. We call it the gospel. The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. And for a world caught up in false, man-made religious systems of works and rituals, the gift of Jesus Christ is not only unique, but it’s very good news.

The “Abomination” of Harry Potter

By Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson

I’ve got some great ideas for a new series of children’s books.  Let me share some of them with you:

1) Perry Hotter and the Dirty Crack Pipe – A young boy is shipped off to live in an inner-city crack house.  In this crack house, the boy is trained in the ways of illicit drug production, use, and distribution.  Perry has wonderful adventures learning about creating more effective highs, outwitting the bad crack dealers, and teaching other young kids about the joys of drug use.

2) Perry Hotter and the Jihadist’s Bomb-belt – A young boy is shipped off to an Al Qaeda training camp.  At this training camp, the boy is trained in the covert practices of subverting American laws, developing dirty bombs, and using a sword to cut off an infidel’s head.  Perry’s amazing exploits include evading U.S. spy planes, purchasing nuclear materials from Chechen rebels, and developing jihadist literature to share with his friends at school.

3) Perry Hotter and the Prostitutes of Pleasure – A young boy is shipped off to a secretive brothel in Eastern Europe.  While living in this brothel, the boy is taught all of the most effective pimping techniques. Perry’s feats include seducing poor Russian girls with offers of employment in the west, bribing dirty police officers to look the other way, and exposing other children to the pleasures of earning a living by selling their bodies.

What do you think?  You’re shocked?!  You’re outraged?!  How could I even suggest a book series for children containing such vile and filthy material?

To be sure, I think that these are all commonsense and appropriate responses to the evil subject matter detailed in my imaginary book series.  How could anyone, yet alone a Bible believing Christian, think that this is appropriate subject matter for a series of children’s books?  You don’t have to look very far into scripture to find that illegal drug abuse, terrorism, and sexual exploitation are all topics that break the heart of God.

However, while my imaginary series of children’s books, featuring these demonic evils, would be condemned outright by any God-fearing person, there is currently a real children’s book series on the market, filled with equally dangerous and unbiblical evils, that is being bought by the millions, even by Christian families.  This is the Harry Potter series, which has recently released a new book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  In its first day of sales alone, this newest addition to the Harry Potter series sold almost 7 million copies; and will probably sell upwards of 15 million+ by the time it’s all said and done.  While this reality should shock and disturb our society, what we find instead is widespread praise for the “magic” of Harry Potter and how he has “enchanted” millions of kids into reading.  What’s even more disturbing is the vast number of Christian children and parents flocking into bookstores to buy their family a copy, while our pastors remain silent about the dangers found within Harry Potter’s pages.

The Harry Potter series is wholly based on the dark arts of witchcraft, sorcery, and spiritism.  These are all Satanic practices that are absolutely condemned by God throughout the Bible.  In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, God tells us that these practices are an “abomination” in God’s sight.  In Galatians 5:19-21, God says that sorcery is a “work of the flesh” and that those who practice sorcery “will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”  And Revelation 22:15 tells us that sorcerers will not be present in the glorious city of the New Jerusalem.

Christian brothers and sisters, if God condemns the activities glorified in the Harry Potter series, and if by God’s standards Harry Potter himself will spend eternity separated from God, how can we as believers ever justify the purchasing of any Harry Potter book?  How can we justify allowing our children, the children God calls us to raise “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), to read books that revel in such clearly unbiblical practices?  We would never allow our children to read stories that glorify illegal drug abuse, murder, or sexual exploitation, so why do we lower the standards when it comes to witchcraft and sorcery?

Being “salt and light” to the world (Matthew 5:13-16) sometimes requires that we as believers take a stand against things that the world defines as popular, cool, and even beneficial.  No matter how many Harry Potterbooks are sold, no matter how much acclaim Harry Potter receives, and no matter how great people think it is that Harry Potter has caused kids to put down their video games to read a book, sorcery will always be an “abomination” in God’s eyes.  And if God views the subject matter of Harry Potter as an abomination, then we as Christians have no choice but to do likewise.

Defending Salvation Through Christ Alone

By Jason Carlson

Don’t all religions lead to God? Isn’t one faith as good as another? Isn’t it arrogant to say that only one religion leads to salvation? These are some common questions that people in our pluralistic world are wrestling with today. In a world full of religious options, many people of goodwill, including Evangelical Christians, have trouble with the idea that there would only be one way to enter into a saving relationship with God. However, this is exactly what God’s word tells us; salvation is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

The problem that many Christians often face when communicating this biblical truth, is that many non-Christians will simply reply, “but I don’t believe the Bible”. So, how can we as Christians convey this critical biblical truth to people who don’t necessarily accept the scriptures as God’s word? This is where a simple little philosophical argument can be extremely helpful; it’s called the “Law of Non-Contradiction”.

In the philosophical discipline of Logic, there are numerous rules that govern the process of forming a coherent and rational argument. One of these rules is the Law of Non-Contradiction. The Law of Non-Contradiction formally stated is that “A cannot be non-A”. In plain language, this simply means that something that is true cannot be anything but that thing which is true. For example, if it is true that Jason Carlson alone wrote this article, nobody but Jason Carlson could have written this article. Either Jason Carlson alone wrote it or he did not. To say that Jason Carlson and Jane Doe both individually wrote this article would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

When it comes to the questions of religious pluralism and promoting the Christian claim of exclusivity (salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone), the Law of Non-Contradiction can serve as a valuable resource in a Christian’s apologetic tool-box. Here’s how it works:

All religions in the world make absolute truth claims regarding the way to salvation…

  • Christians proclaim that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Hindus claim that salvation (liberation) is achieved when a person transcends this world of illusion by building up enough positive karma (good works) to escape the cycle of reincarnation.
  • Muslims state that the possibility of salvation* results from submitting one’s life to Allah and faithfully carrying-out the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • Buddhists say that salvation (Nirvana) is the result of detaching one’s self from the desires of the physical, material world.

Each of the world’s religions claims to promote the true path to salvation, but each of these religions provides a distinct and contrary path from all of the others. Thus, one of these paths to salvation is true, or none of them are true, but they cannot all be true at the same time; this would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

For the Christian who uses this apologetic argument in response to the questions of religious pluralism and to promote the Christian claim of exclusivity, it is important to understand that this argument does not prove that Jesus is the one true path to salvation. What this argument demonstrates is that from a philosophical standpoint, it is irrational to claim that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation. The idea of religious pluralism (“all roads lead to God”) is philosophically invalid according to the Law of Non-Contradiction.

In order to show that Jesus Christ is the one true way to salvation, Christians must be ready (1 Peter 3:15) with other apologetic tools: arguments for the historicity of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the gospels, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. There are terrific reasons for believing each of those truths; however, we will have to save those for another posting.

*In Islam there is no certainty of salvation. Allah, the god of Islam, is capricious by nature and therefore even the most devout Muslim has no certainty of salvation. The only certainty of salvation in Islam is to die as a martyr in Jihad or holy war.

Reluctant Warriors: Christianity and the Just War Tradition

By Jason Carlson

How are we as Christians to rightly live in a world of war? This has been a question that followers of Jesus Christ have wrestled with from the very earliest years of the Christian faith. This question was recast in many Christians’ minds this past week as we struggled with the reality of a prominent Christian leader advocating the assassination of another country’s President. However, even prior to those comments, many Christians have grappled with the reality of America’s “war on terror” and our military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. What are proud Americans who give their ultimate allegiance to the Prince of Peace to think about these matters?

God’s word, the Bible, provides some important insights into the reality of warfare and our proper Christian view and response towards it. Let us briefly note three key Biblical teachings related to warfare:

1. From scripture we recognize that warfare is a reality that God has condoned, participated in, and will participate in again in the future (Exodus 15:1-18; 17:8-15; Numbers 31:1-3; Deuteronomy 2:26-31; 3:1-7; 20:1-4; Joshua 5:13-6:27; Revelation 6:1-2; 19:11-21; 20:7-10). Thus, if our good, holy, and perfect God has sometimes condoned and participated in warfare, no matter how much we may dislike it, we cannot say that all warfare is inherently evil.

2. In Exodus 20:13, the sixth commandment admonishes us, “You shall not murder.”  What’s interesting to note about this commandment is that it is only directed against murder, the wrongful taking of another human life. Scripture assumes a distinction between murder and certain other forms of killing, such as capital punishment or warfare, which the Bible allows for (Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 21:12-14).

3. In allowing for certain other forms of killing, God has ordained human governments, not private citizens, as the agents of justice, retribution, rewards and punishments (Matthew 5:38-39; Romans 12:17-13:7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). Thus, God has given governments the charge to perceive when military action is necessary.

Using these Biblical realities and teachings, Christians throughout the centuries have formulated some guiding principles as to how and when human governments may rightly participate in warfare; these principles have become known as the “Just War Tradition”. Two of the earliest church fathers that attempted to reconcile the individual Christian’s call to live peaceably with all, while living under human governments and often having to serve in their nation’s military, were Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo (circa 300’s A.D.). Their “Just War” positions have remained the majority Christian viewpoint since the fourth century A.D. Following their lead, other prominent Christian theologians who have expounded on the Just War Tradition include: Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin.

The Just War Tradition historically focuses on eight guiding principles for determining when human governments may rightly engage in warfare. These eight principles are summarized as follows:

1. Just Cause – The only justifiable war is a defensive war. Wars of aggression, started for the purpose of gaining territory, promoting an ideology, or acquiring wealth are not considered just.

2. Just Intent – The objective of a defensive war must always be the restoration of peace and the defense of innocent human life.

3. Last Resort – All efforts at peace, negotiation, and compromise must have failed. Waging war should never be the first option.

4. Formal Declaration of War – Only a properly authorized authority can declare war and a formal declaration of war must be clearly stated.

5. Limited Objectives – Since peace is the ultimate goal of a just war, the unconditional surrender or total destruction of an enemy are not legitimate objectives.

6. Proportionate Means – The weaponry used in warfare and the degree of force must be limited to what is necessary to secure a just peace.

7. Noncombatant Immunity – The use of force should discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Civilians and prisoners of war should be guaranteed immunity.

8. Reasonable Hope for Success – A defensive war against aggression must have a reasonable hope of securing peace for it to be considered just.

These eight principles summarize the essential elements of the Just War Tradition. Once again, the Just War Tradition has been the majority Christian viewpoint on warfare throughout the history of the church. This does not mean that the Just War position is absolutely correct, but it does lend much weight to its credibility for the discerning Christian.

While the reality of warfare is one of the tragic consequences of living in a fallen and sinful world (Genesis 1:31 & Genesis 3; Romans 1:18-32), God promises us that a day is coming when “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4:3). We will have to wait for the coming reign of the “Prince of Peace” to see that promise fulfilled here on Earth (Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 21 & 22). Until that day comes, the best hope for human relationships is to follow the model of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of living a life of peace. However, in those sad chapters of human history when warfare and terror are thrust upon us, the Just War Tradition provides a moral compass that can rightly guide all reluctant warriors into battle.

Why the Secular Left Despise the Christian Right

by Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson

Many people in the Evangelical Christian community fail to understand the true underlying cause of the Secular Left’s antagonism for the Christian Right of America.  Many Christians assume it is because of our opposition to abortion, or the homosexual lifestyle, or our desire for alternative theories to evolution to be taught in the classroom; and while all of these are related to the Secular Left’s vitriol, none of them strike to the core of the matter.  No, there is a much deeper and far less recognized cause for the Secular Left’s animosity for the Evangelical Christian community.

What lies at the heart of the division between the Secular Left and the Christian Right in America is a debate over the nature of truth.  Evangelical Christians believe that truth is objective and universal, which means that there is absolute truth which applies to all people, in all cultures, for all times.  Evangelicals recognize that this objective and absolute truth is found ultimately in the one true God of the universe and in His revelation given to us personally in Jesus Christ and in the Bible.  As a result of God having revealed absolute truth to humanity, Evangelical Christians believe that lives and societies are best governed by adhering to the principles and guidelines that God has given.  After all, when an omniscient (all-knowing) and loving God personally reveals Himself and the correct path for humans to follow, it only makes sense to hold fast to His guidance.  And it is the Evangelical insistence on adhering to God’s absolute truth found in His word that stokes the Secular Left’s ire.

To the contrary, the Secular Left in America is guided by a far different understanding of truth.  For them, truth is no more than a social construction of reality.  This means that reality has no inherent structure or meaning and there is no objective truth that humanity can discover.  Instead, the Secular Left in our world has adopted a postmodern view of truth that declares that individuals and societies impose their own meaning and truth onto reality.  Thus, for them, truth is relative.  Truth is relative to individuals, to social groups, to cultures, and to religions.  And it is this postmodern view of truth that has created the wedge of animosity between the Secular Left and the Christian Right.

As a result of their denial of objective truth and their belief that truth is relative, the Secular Left has adopted a deconstructionist approach to history and traditional worldviews, and specifically towards the absolutes of Christianity.  The common claim brought by the various proponents of the Secular Left’s agenda is that “Christianity” has historically led to violence, repression, and conquest; and they will list a long series of historical abuses as evidence*.  As a result of these so-called “Christian” abuses towards non-Christian people and cultures, the Secular Left’s postmodern worldview has determined that we must now highlight and give preference to the historically marginalized and mistreated.

While highlighting marginalized people groups is a noble goal, the Secular Left does not stop here.  Once again, as a result of their postmodern view of truth, the Secular Left makes an amazing leap at this point.  They claim that not only should we recognize and highlight these historically marginalized people and cultures, but the leap that is made is that these marginalized people, cultures, lifestyles, and religions are actually equal to, or even preferable to the traditional Christian worldview.  Thus, we see the Secular Left’s embrace of every non-Christian lifestyle, choice, and religion as normative: homosexual marriage, abortion on demand, even Muslim terrorists.

It all boils down to the nature of truth.  The Christian Right has remained steadfast in our adherence to the objective truths and standards set forth in God’s word.  Thus, we oppose homosexual marriage, we stand on the side of the unborn and we believe that Religions that promote the killing and suppression of those opposed to them are evil.  Evangelicals are guided by God’s objective and absolute truths; and it is for this stance that the Secular Left despises us.

Christian brothers and sisters, we must be vigorously engaged in this cultural debate over the nature of truth.  The future of our country and our world is at stake.  Our engagement in this debate is a thoroughly Christian pursuit; in fact, God’s word admonishes us to contend for the faith, to contend for the truth (Jude 3).  At the same time, while we debate passionately, we must do so with a Christ-like “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  The way of the Master is to stand for the truth in love.  While we are right to defend the truth, point out sinfulness, and label right from wrong, we must do so with an attitude of humility and love.  If we do this, we will be faithful to the truth and to the example of standing for the truth left to us by our Master, Jesus Christ.