Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics Chapter 3: Does God Exist The Design Argument

The chapter starts with the Watchmaker analogy. The watchmaker analogy asks a nonsensical question, and here it is: If you are walking through the woods and stumble upon a watch, what do you think? Do you wonder how, over time, bits of metal came together by chance, springs and gears were formed with no apparent purpose, yet over time they all joined accidentally, eventually formed a fully accurate functioning machine that measures time?

The answer to the question above is, of course no. No one stumbles upon a watch and thinks that it evolved. They assume someone must have dropped it. Due to the intentionality and precision of the watch one assumes there must have been an intelligence that first conceived of the watch and how it would work then created it. Yet when some look at nature, with all of its intentionality and precision, they see chance. The Watchmaker analogy is used to argue for design.

The design argument is also called the teleological argument. Telos is Greek for purpose, or ultimate ending. Teleology is the study of a thing's design, or purpose. Plato and Aristotle first used the design argument to argue for the existence of God based on what they observed of the stars. Thomas Aquinas used it as one of his 5 arguments to prove God exists. Today it is called intelligent design, and there are many ways to argue it. Today we will look at 3 of them.

Fine Tuning as Design: The Anthropic Principle

Over time and a lot of study and research, scientists have found the universe to have a great deal of precision. In fact, to alter any of the multiple parameters would destroy the universe. This has led some scientists to argue that for life to exist, their had to be a designer. There are two classes of these parameters: one for the sun-planet-moon system and the other for the universe.

Astrophysicist Hugh Ross, in The Creator and the Cosmos, says that in order for life to be possible there are 35 parameters that must fall within a narrow range. One of those is the expansion rate of the universe. If it is slower than one part in 10 to the 55th power, the universe would collapse before galaxies could form; if it was faster than one part in 10 to the 55th power galaxies could not have formed. Without galaxies we have no starts, with no stars we have no planets forming and without planets we have no life. 

Some of the other parameters are: velocity of light, ration of protons to electrons, ration of electron to proton mass, mass density of the universe, gravitational force constant, electromagnetic force constant, weak nuclear force constant, strong nuclear force constant, ration of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant, velocity of light, fine structure constant and a lot more. Everything falls into an extraordinary balance in order for the whole to exist. 

The second set has 66 parameters to do with our sun-planet-moon system. They are all vital for life to exist on the planet. If the distance from Earth to Sun is any greater, the earth is too cool for a stable water cycle. If it is any closer to the Sun, it is too warm for a stable water cycle. If gravity was weaker, our atmosphere would lose too much water, but if it was stronger it would retain too much ammonia and methane, which are poisonous. If the day was greater, temperature differences would be too great to sustain life. If the day is shorter atmospheric wind velocities would be too great to survive.

Looking at just a couple of the parameters Mr. Ross identified in his book, we begin to realize just how exact things had to be in order for life to exist on Earth. Add to that all of the constants needed for the universe to exist and you begin to see that there may have to be a master's hand behind the creation of it all. It is all much more complex than any watch in existence, and we would never suppose the watch was accidently created so why would we suppose that about life on Earth?

Information as Design: Information Theory and DNA 

To understand this argument we must first understand that there are different kinds of order:
  1. Specified Order is a string of repeating information. This is a natural occurring kind of order. Examples of this are crystals and snowflakes. 
  2. Unspecified Complexity is non-repetitive and random. This is also a naturally occurring type of order. Examples are the shape of a rock and the wind howling. 
  3. Specified Complexity is non-repetitive and non-random. These are not naturally occurring. Examples are the sentence you are reading as well as statues.
A specified complexity is contingent and an unspecified complexity is not. The sentence takes an author and the sculpture needs a sculptor. The sculpture can be any shape the sculptor imagines. Information, on the other hand is communication between two minds that share a common language. That language must exist and be understood prior to any ability to communicate. Every language is a set of tokens and a set of conventions for the use of the tokens.

DNA is an agent housing a set of tokens used to store and convey information the body needs to develop and function. Before the DNA could be useful, there had to be a language that already existed. Genetic code had to exist prior to the existence of DNA. It also had to come from outside of the DNA. It didn't come from the DNA any more than a bowl of alphabet soup can say "I love you." It may spell it out but there is no intentionality.

The easiest way to explain the information contained in DNA is that it was imposed on the DNA by a mind, with intentionality. Naturalism claims that all things are produced by non-directed, random forces. This would seem a moot argument when used to explain how information was included in DNA and how a genetic code language exists at all. You must first have an informer to have information. 

Complexity as Design: Irreducible Complexity

Irreducible complexity says there are some things that are at the simplest level they could be and still function. Biochemist Michael Behe says, "An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional." Basically he is saying that there are things that had to be created, because they could not have by chance or through undirected forces have evolved.

Behe uses a mousetrap to make his point. He asks which part of the mousetrap can be removed and still leave a functioning mousetrap? The answer is nothing. You could not have first a piece of steel that caught a mouse, than added a piece of wood which caught a few more, than added a spring to catch ore. A mousetrap is made of individual pieces that when separated are useless at catching mice. The mousetrap could therefore not have evolved, but had to first have been conceived by an intelligent mind with the will and power to act. 

In Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box,  he looks at various cases of irreducible complexity, such as the cilium, bacterial flagellum, antibodies, animal cells and blood clotting. All of these, he argues, are irreducibly complex. They are basic biological machines, but they are each useless if apart from the whole. 

In conclusion, the design argument doesn't prove that Christianity is the only truth. Rather, it looks at the God we find in the Bible being consistent with the intelligent designer defined by these arguments. There are several religions that describe an intelligent designer. As we have seen, the way things are precise and exact, from life on Earth to the balance of the universe, point us to a designer. Next time we will look at Chapter 4, which is the moral argument for the existence of God.

As featured on the Poached Egg: http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2013/01/holman-quicksource-guide-to-christian-apologetics-chapter-3-the-design-argument.html

Monday, January 28, 2013

BLiR Spring Bash: What We Need to Make it Successful

The BLiR (Better Life in Recovery) Spring Bash is coming up in less than 7 weeks. It is going to be an awesome, fun opportunity for all that come out. We are planning on having games, a car bash, prizes/giveaways, food, live music, several testimonies and a positive message. Did I mention IT IS ALL FREE!!!!!

This is what we have so far. We have a band and two solo artists that will be performing. Who they will be announced next week. We have several speakers that will be performing. We have the car for the car bash donated (thanks to Henry's in Nixa), as well as some of the prizes we will be giving away during the event. We have a 6th degree black belt that will be doing demonstrations, as well as goggles that simulate being intoxicated. We are working on the food, and should have it locked up in the next couple of weeks. I am also meeting with a group of youth pastors tomorrow evening to let them know about the event.

What we need: 

  1. 4 Sponsors of $500 each (will have logo for their business or church on all printed promotional material)
  2. A minimum of 100 T-Shirts and 25 hats with the BLiR logo (if donated will have sponsors logo on them)
  3. A minimum of 2 major prizes, such as the new Nintendo Wii-U (One of them is for a grand prize and the other is for the youth group of the church who brings the most people) (will have logo for their business or church on all printed promotional material)
  4. One more band for the event (we are using bands 
  5. Spreading the message so that we can impact as many people as possible with the event
  6. Prayer
If you can help with any of this, please let me know as soon as possible. Contact me at David@betterlifeinrecovery.com We would like to have the flyers printed, and we need sponsors so that we can put your name or logo on them. This event has the ability to reach several hundred youth. Help us make it a success!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

BLiR (Better Life in Recovery) Event March 15th: What is the Event

On March 15th, we will be having the second BLiR event at New Life Church from 6-10. The first one was in Ash Grove last Fall. The first BLiR event was a success. It was a success because fun was had, things were given away, food was eaten, music was listened to and there was a positive message heard by those who attended. Next week I am meeting with a group of youth pastors to talk to them about the upcoming event so they will want to not only attend with their youth, but become a part of it and contribute to and/or hold future BLiR events.

So, here is what I am going to tell them in the 5 minutes that I have:

BLiR is a fun, free time for youth and young adults to come out and enjoy themselves.  We provide games that range from single person Minute to Win It competitions to group games where those playing have an opportunity to win things. They can win Youth/Student Bibles, Youth devotionals, worship CDs, T-Shirts and we are hoping to give away a Nintendo Wii-U gaming system and/or Dr Dre Beats headphones.

We are going to have a car bash and a 6th Degree Black Belt doing some demonstrations. We will have goggles that simulate the effects of drinking for people to wear. We are going to have several bands playing worship music and positive covers live. We will have free food and drinks. Our idea is to have a lot of fun things to do and free stuff to win so that we have a lot of youth and young adults come out for the event.

Now that we have them here, we come to the main reason for the event. We have real people with real problems who have found real answers. We have several testimonies from people who have faced severe struggles in their lives: being bullied, physically abused, sexually abused, not fitting in, depression, their parents divorcing. Those struggles led them down different paths.

One overcame her struggles by turning to Christ, and has been sharing her struggles with other youth ever since. Others, when faced with life consuming issues turned to: eating disorders, cutting, sleeping around, drugs, alcohol, violence and ended up attempting suicide, getting kicked out of school and/or going to jail. In the end though, they have all found hope and recovery through Christ. 

Our goal is to help transform lives by sharing testimonies from real people who had real problems and found real answers through Christ. We want those who come to the event to leave knowing that everyone struggles, but that using substances and developing negative coping skills is not the way to deal with them. We want them to know it is okay to share their struggles with other people and that there is a better life to be found through faith in Christ.

We end the evening with a positive message and an altar call. The night becomes all about not becoming like those around you and falling into temptation and peer pressure but instead living a life that guides others to Christ.

The focus of this event is to not only have fun, but to share Christ and recovery with everyone there. We want to give youth pastors and parents an opportunity over the weekend to talk to their kids about what they heard and engage in more open dialogue with them about the pressures they may face or are already facing. We hope that by talking openly about serious, sometimes taboo issues kids gain the courage to talk about them too.

That is what Better Life in Recovery is all about, and I hope that you bring your youth to the event. In fact, I hope that you can help  us with some of our needs. We do this event at no cost to all who attend, but there are costs and needs. We will work on the food and drinks for the kids. We will have the volunteers to supervise and run the games we play. We need things to give away: Bibles, CDs, gift cards and the big prizes. We need one more band to play. We need money to order BLiR T-shirts and hats as well as for the printing of flyers for the event. It would be nice to give the bands an honorarium, too. We need you to help us promote the event, as well as the ones we will have in the future.

Most importantly we need your prayers. Prayers that we can bring the message of hope to those who are struggling. Prayers that we can bring Jesus, in fact that we can represent Jesus, to all that attend. Pray that through this event we have an impact on those who come. Pray that we act as the hands and feet of God and give a message of faith that falls on open ears and open hearts.

That is what I am going to say to the pastors. The same is true for everyone else. If you would like to donate services, items, time or money please contact me at david.stoecker@gmail.com . If you have children, are a youth pastor, teacher, teen-ager, junior high, high school or college student please attend and tell your friends. This is going to be a lot of fun, and the more people there the more opportunity we have to make an impact. Most of all, please pray for this to have an impact in the lives of the people who come! Thanks!!

  1. Food (Hot Dogs, Burgers, Buns, Chips, Sweets, Water, Tea,etc.)
  2. Worship CDs, Student/Youth Bibles, Student/Youth Devotionals/Books
  3. Nintendo Wii U
  4. Dr Dre Beats Headphones
  5. Cash for printing T-Shirts, Hats and Flyers for the event, possibly an honorarium for the bands/speakers as well as money for the above items
  6. A Band (Teenagers who play worship and positive covers)
  7. Sharing the upcoming event with others and letting us know who is coming

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From Shack to Temple: 2 Weeks In

So, I like the way things are going this time. I am struggling to get to the gym as much as I would like to. It is also difficult for me to guage my workouts this time, as I am working out like I never have before. The new schedule is kind of rough on me, also since I am at work two days a week from 730 AM to 930 PM then have to be back to work at 730 AM the following morning each time. We will look more at what I am doing this time, but first this is how I am doing.

I followed the earting plan the first week to the T. I stayed under in calories every single day. I ate a lot of lean meat: pork, chicken and top sirloin. I even had some home made salmon patties. I ate a lot of vegetables and fresh fruit and had mashed potatoes a couple of times. For snacks I had popcorn, yogurt and ended most days with a double serving of neopolitan ice cream. I drank a ton of water, at least 10 glasses a day and sometimes more and didn't drink anything else other than the morning cup of coffee black or the protein shake post workout. I lost 7 pounds the first week.

The second week I did well, but the weekend was a wash. The week was the same, but my weekend was not good. My best man had a birthday party at Old Chicago, and I chose to be bad. I gained 3 pounds, but I am okay with that. I still lost 0.6 pounds for the week and was down 7.6 pounds for the 2 week period. Could have been better, but I am really happy with that.

Exercise I am changing up, too. I have been lifting heavy weights with low reps in the past. This time around, I am rethinking them. The last two weeks I have only worked out two days each week, on Monday and Friday, and I am adding a workout this week on Wednesdays. Here is what I have done for work outs so far.

On Monday I do 5 sets of 5 flat bench press at 225 supersetted with DB Flyes with 35's doing 8 reps. Then I do 5 sets and 5 reps of 2 exercises, pulldowns to the front then a pulldown leaning to the chest. This will stay the same, only the weight will go up. Then I do 3 sets of 5 reps of what is called the bear complex. I do it with 115, and one rep consists of a clean to a front squat to a shoulder press to a back squat to a shoulder press. Eventually I will work up to 5 sets of 8 then I will go up in weight.

On Friday I do a complex where I never set down the bar. I put 135 on the barbell then I do 5 bent rows, 5 cleans, 5 front squats, 5 military presses, then 5 squats. I do 3 sets of this, with the hopes of making it to eventually do 5 sets of 8 reps. I then put 115 on the bar and do 5 barbell curls, 5 skull crushers then I do 5 sit ups with the 115 for 5 sets. I am where I want to be on this one.

On both days if time is good I will do 15 minutes on the elliptical. I am going to add a Wednesday workout that will consist of heavy legs, calves, shrugs and abs with cardio thrown in. I am hoping that this will help put me into a good place for the workouts. I feel weird doing so little weight, but I am happy to not be hurting myself and I probably need better cardio, not to get stronger.

In two weeks I have dropped from 238.6 to 231 pounds and ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I am pretty content with that. If you have any feedback or advice on the eating or workouts please share them. I would love to gain more knowledge as I go. By the way, I have found MyFitnessPal to be a very helpful app for what I am doing.

The secret so far is not telling myself no to the things I want. It is instead seeking moderation, which MyFitnessPal helps me do. I can have ice cream, but I am eating a serving of it instead of half of it. When you deny yourself something, you often end up cheating. When you cheat, you get depressed. When you get depressed, you comfort eat more. "Since I already blew it, I might as well eat all of it."

So, don't call them cheats. Call it eating in moderation. Watch what you eat, use and app like MyFitnessPal or join Weight Watchers, who also have a great app. Weight Watchers also gives you accountability with their meetings and online forums. With MyFitnessPal you can have friends who see what you put in, from the food ate to exercise completed to weight gained and lost. That is a great feature. See you in a couple of weeks, as we continue to look at turning our shacks into temples!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong: I'm Not Sorry

Lance Armstrong went on Oprah to finally admit that he used steroids. Of course, we already knew that. That is why he was stripped of his Tour de France victories and his bronze medal from the Olympics. It was no surprise that when he had an opportunity to admit to what people already knew he was willing to do that. He stated the blatantly obvious in his interview. There are some other things he needs to take credit for, and this was his chance. Here is a look at how he did.

He had multiple team mates and friends state he was using steroids. The United States Anti-Doping Association investigated him. Each time someone told the truth about him, or tried to, he would defame their character and often took them to court. He decimated these people, denouncing their word and shouting about their dishonesty from every BULLY pulpit he could find. He destroyed the reputations and careers of those who told the truth. Instead of an apology to the specific people he has maligned, he says that there were so many he forgets who they all are.

Lance Armstrong is a cheater and he has the chance to admit it. He had 7 consecutive Tour de France victories. He says that he did not cheat, because cheating is having an unfair advantage over others and everybody was doing it. Then he says that clean riders are heroes. How can there be clean riders if everyone is using? By his very statement he admits to there being non-doping riders. So he is saying that using performance enhancing drugs and blood doping did not give him an unfair advantage over those not using. Of course it did, so he cheated. He does not even have the decency to admit it.

Not only did he cheat, he left other riders in his wake. Those who were clean and rode with him he bullied into using. The riders on the tour who did not use lost to a rider who had an unfair advantage. I am sure he left many a rider with shattered dreams. Someone other than him should have won the Tour de France and had that dream they had worked their entire lives for come to fruition. The same about the medal. Someone lost out on getting to stand on the platform and represent themselves, their family and their country by getting a bronze medal.

Lance Armstrong is a thief. Not only did he steal the victories and glory, he also stole money. There is prize money, money from sponsors, book deals, endorsement deals that all could have gone to someone else. Let me restate that, should have gone to someone else. He stole from them, no different than sliding his hand into their wallets or breaking into their houses and taking it. Yet there appeared to be no true remorse in the interview.

Finally, how about cancer itself. He had a lot of people that looked to him as a hero, a paragon of virtue. They used him, from overcoming cancer to being a success and doing it all while being clean, as the inspiration they needed to fight cancer. Now, he has been tarnished and those who put him on a pedestal will suffer. The LiveStrong Foundation also took a serious hit in credibility and has lost donors. Hopefully people will remember that just because he was the face doesn't mean the foundation isn't a great non-profit. Sad that so many people are affected by the actions of one man.

It would appear that Lance Armstrong is sorry for one thing. He is sorry that he got caught. His lack of true ownership would lead one to that conclusion. Also not accepting the damage he has done to so many people. Seriously, he never even admitted that what he did was cheating???? This guy has some nerve. Sure we are all human. I have done many things that were low and despicable. I have also owned up to them in person and publicly. That is what a person who finds morals, principles and an ethical code does.

Lance appears to be attempting to con everyone again. That is just my opinion. But that tends to be the opinion I listen to. Saying your sorry then blaming everyone and everything else for your choices shows how you really feel. For his sake, I hope that he truly begins to show remorse. This first interview showed that remorse is not in his vocabulary yet. Neither is accountability. Get a conscience and WORK A PROGRAM that doesn't involve lying and cheating!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Be a "Go" Christian

What does being a “Go” Christian truly mean? Is it knowing the Bible? attending church or small groups? tithing? wearing a suit/dress to church? sitting in the front row and singing the loudest with your hands raised in worship? I would call these ingredients we can use in our life, but not the recipe for being a “Go” Christian.
To be a “Go” Christian, first we have to say “No!” We have a cross to bear, and that cross is to say no to ourselves. We must deny ourselves immoral, worldly things. We have a sinful nature, yet we must be willing to deny our basic instincts. We must die to sin—even the thought of sinning—as the early Christians did.
Some may think I am talking about not being able to have fun. If this is how you feel, you do not understand what I am saying, nor do you truly understand the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. A life without sin gives us joy. Honestly, we are giving up very little for so much. Christ did not “try His best” to die on the cross; He accomplished it. Why should we be satisfied with not giving our best?
We must also be willing to talk about Christ and our beliefs even when it is not popular. We need to take a stand for our faith and for what we believe everywhere we go: home, school, work, events, restaurants, vacation, and our neighborhoods.
When we take up our cross, we become dead to the world. Before I was a Christian and began a relationship with God, I was a sinner. I lived to fulfill my will, to make myself happy. I smoked cigarettes, drank to inebriation almost every day, fought all the time, had premarital sex, lied, cursed, and listened to music and watched movies that would make a sailor blush. I lived for me! It was all about worldly achievement and self-fulfillment. I was an example of how not to live your life.
However, since the day I gave my life to Christ, I have not smoked a cigarette, gotten drunk, had sex outside of marriage, or gotten into a fight outside of a ring. I now listen only to worship music because it puts me in a great mood. I pray in between sets at the gym on a consistent basis, and I wear worship shirts almost exclusively. I read the Bible daily and pray all the time. I am by no means perfect, but I make an effort every day to not succumb to my sinful nature. It is a start, and I can build on that.
Being a “Go” Christian means I will never do or say anything that I will have to tell my son not to repeat. It means I realize I represent God, my church, my wife and son, my employer, my deceased father, my pastor, and Celebrate Recovery everywhere I go. I will not get caught up in gossip; I will not curse; I will not yell or lie. Instead, I will talk to others about the changes the Holy Spirit has made in my life. To the best of my ability, I will live to show I love Christ.
I do not intend to boast here. Rather, I am simply saying I could not live this way without the Holy Spirit in me and the sacrifice Christ made. The cross symbolizes pain and suffering, yet we think Christ wants us to live in comfort and ease. Our lives should be living sacrifices to Christ, and that is not always easy. With that said, however, since the night I turned my life over to Christ and gave Him control, it has gotten a lot easier.
Are you a “Go” Christian? To determine that, ask yourself these questions:
1.   Is my life about self-fulfillment or Christ fulfillment?
2.   Do I live as one who is in this world or as one who is out of this world?
3.   Am I ashamed of my faith, or do I profess the gospel to all who would hear it?
4.   Is my life a living sacrifice to Jesus?
If you answered yes to these questions, congratulations! You are a “Go” Christian, so keep it up. If you did not answer yes, I would recommend a lot of praying, reading the Bible, and spending time with those who are where you want to be. God bless you in your journey!
featured on the Global University Blog at: http://www.harvest365online.org/2013/01/how-to-be-a-go-christian/

Monday, January 14, 2013

BLiR Event Spring 2013: Brainstorming Session

Yesterday was the brainstorming session for the BLiR Spring BREAK event that will be held at New Life Church in March. I went in to the session with several goals for it. The first was to establish the date and time we will be having it. Then next was to talk about music, because we want to have several bands. Then we have the food issue to discuss, because kids need to eat. Next up was entertainment, games and things for the kids to do. Finally, we needed to talk about the money side of it. We need to have giveaways and prizes for games and just for the sheer joy of it!

Here is what we do. We have FREE food, FREE live music and FREE fun stuff to do. We play some games, give stuff away and have a couple of testimonies from people who have struggled with life consuming issues and overcame them. We share hope with those who may be struggling themselves and let them know that a better life exists and where that better life is found. Our aim to is to reach out to those who are hurting and lift them up. Below is what we are doing and what we need to make the event in March successful.

  1. The BLiR event will be on the 15th of March from 6-10.
  2. We are talking to several singers and bands in the area. 
  3. Food we will talk to New Life Church about. We have the men's group that will be doing the grilling. Hopefully between the church and the women's group we can come up with the food. Thinking hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, condiments, sweets stuff, tea and lemonade.
  4. We are talking about having several games. The ones for sure will be Minute to Win It, a Paper Rock Scissors Tournament and a Car Bash. 
  5. Money is one of the major ones we have to work on.  
Now we look at the needs for the event. We are working on the bands, but if there is a youth groups band from a church in Springfield/Nixa/Ozark area that might play let me know. We will need food, the items listed above. If you would like to donate any food please let me know. The games we will take care of and I have several places to call for the car. If you have a personal contact please let me know. Now we get to the hard stuff.

We need things to have for prizes and giveaways. I would love to have gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops.  Maybe gift cards for iTunes. We need a couple of big ticket items to give away, such as an XBox 360 Kinect or the new Nintendo Wii U. New CDs, preferably worship music. Also books, from student Bible's to study/inspirational books aimed at youth/young adults. Finally, we need cash for printing flyers, T-Shirts, hats and incidentals. If you can help with any of these things, please contact me. 

Finally, the most important needs for the event to run smoothly and do what it is intended to do. If you have any pastors, youth pastors, high school or college students and/or connections spread the word. Tweet this, Facebook about it, blog about it, copy off the flyers once they are available and put them up where ever you can. Then pray. Pray for this event to be able to reach those who are struggling and that it gives them the hope they need to overcome what they are dealing with in their lives.

Here is the link to the event on Facebook. If you are coming let us know: http://www.facebook.com/events/477488612314182/?fref=ts

Thanks for your support and prayers. We appreciate them!! Below is the promo for the BLiR event we did last Fall:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics Chapter 2: Does God Exist? The Cosmological Argument

The word cosmos is a Greek word that refers to everything that exists. Not just the universe, but all its constituents. This argument for God says that because everything exists, there must be a God who brought it into existence. The proposition of this argument is that nothing could or would exist without God. God's existence is possible without the universe, but the reverse is not true. God is a necessary being. The universe cannot exist without God, for the universe in not a necessary being and therefore cannot account for its own existence.

There are 3 different philosophical arguments and a scientific example that are used to support the cosmological argument. We will first look at the philosophical arguments; Kalam, Thomist and Leibnizian.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The Kalam argument attempts to show that the universe had to have a beginning and is therefore not eternal. In order to comprehend this argument we must first understand the two types of infinities, which are concrete (actual) infinities and abstract (potential) infinities.

Potential infinites are numbers that increase by adding another number, such as seconds on a stopwatch. Once the time starts, it will add numbers until it is stopped. If never stopped, it could potentially go forever. That said, it can't be infinite. A potential infinite is always a finite set to which another increment can be added. Therefore, it is not infinite.

Actual infinites are sets of numbers to which nothing can be added because by their very nature they are infinite. They already contain all numbers do nothing can be added. If that is difficult to grasp it is for a good reason. Actual infinites do not and cannot exist in a physical world. If they did it would create absurdities.

So we know that time cannot be infinite. If time were infinite than now would not exist. Imagine now is a destination and you are at that destination. If you are awaiting a train at your destination and the train tracks are infinitely long, how long would it take for the train to get to you. Obviously, never since the train cannot reach the end of its track. Infinite time/numbers can never become finite and finite numbers/time can never be infinite.

So if time is finite it had to have a beginning. If it had a beginning than something had to initiate it. An effect MUST have a cause. The Kalam argument lets us know that the universe had a beginning and the beginning was caused by an uncaused cause. The question is, "Is the cause personal or impersonal?" The cause must be able to create. It cannot rely on anything for its own existence. It must be transcendent, or exist apart from creation. It also requires an intention or will to create. Could an impersonal being have these attributes? Of course not, and if that is the case then the universe was caused by a powerful, transcendent and personal being. That being is God.

The Thomist Cosmological Argument

Thomas Aquinas utilized 3 forms to prove his cosmological argument in Summa Theologica. The first way was from motion. He noted that since motion is an effect and needs a cause, than you could not have a infinite chain of one thing moving another. Without an agent to open the music box, although it the box may be wound it would remain closed, silent and motionless. Further, to say it needs no one to open the box would in turn lead us to believe the music box used wood and metal to create itself. Because a builder is needed, the builder would be God. 

The second form was called "efficient cause." Nothing in existence does not owe its existence to nothing. Everything owes its existence to something. Nothing creates or causes itself. Existence is then an effect of some cause that was an effect of a cause, etc. But that cannot be an infinite loop. There must be a first cause that was self-existent (not relying on anything for existence) to explain any cause existing. That first cause is God. 

Third was the possibility of existence. Nothing we see has to exist. All we know could have just as well not existed. That leads all we see to be possible but not necessary. But for everything to exist, there must be one thing that is necessary. A necessary being must exist to account for all the possible beings in existence. That necessary being is called God. 

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

The famous philosopher G.W.F. von Leibniz asked, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" His answer was found a bit differently than the others we have talked about. Cause was not the basis of his argument. Instead he argued that there must be a sufficient reason for the universe or it would not exist. Caused things only happen with a reason. He said that all caused things, before they existed and outside of their existence, had a prior reason. As his contemporaries saw that there could be no infinite chain of causes, he said that there could no infinite chain of reasons. The universe couldn't explain its existence. Instead, the reason must be found in a being outside of the universe who is both logically necessary and self-explanatory. That being is God.

Science: The Big Bang

Edwin Hubble discovered light from galaxies distant from ours appeared differently than expected. He found the light was shifted to the red side of the spectrum. The Doppler effect was then applied, which explained the red shift in the light spectrum occurring because the stars are all moving away from each other. If the wavelengths are shorter, which would represent an object moving towards you, there is a blue shift in light. If they are moving away from you, this causes the wavelengths to lengthen which causes the red shift.

So if the universe is expanding as the red shift represents, then surely it has a point of origin. And other discoveries were made that pointed to the expansion occurring slower now than it did at its inception which could have happened due to an explosion. That explosion is how the universe was began, and it all started with a  big bang according to this theory. There are a couple of challenges to this theory.

Steady state theory says that the universe will and has always existed. This runs into several problems. For starters the observations supporting the big bang theory argue against steady state. Secondly, this would require actual infinites. is the fact there is a now, which makes an infinite number of preceding moments an impossibility as described earlier. 

The oscillating theory supposes the universe will stop expanding and recede back to a singularity which will explode and begin the cycle again. It says that the cycle has and will repeat forever. This theory also requires a series that has always been and always will be, or actual infinites. It is also limited by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that a closed system always decrease in energy and be less than it was at its beginning. So, the universe must have had a beginning and the energy it began with cannot be recreated unless acted upon by an outside force.

So the big bang appears to be the best theory we have. But if it was an explosion (or expansion), what caused it to explode? What exploded and where did that come from? An explosion is an effect and effects need a cause. They cannot cause themselves. So the matter that exploded needs a creator and the bang needs a banger. The cause must be found outside of the universe because the universe didn't cause itself. What does the cause need?

It needs to be transcendent in order to be outside of the universe. It must be powerful to cause all that exists to come into being out of nothing. The cause has to be uncaused, for if it is an effect we then have a chain of infinite regress which is nonsensical. Finally, it must be non-contingent, or relying on nothing for its existence.

Even if we have an entity that has all of the above requirements, we are still missing one ingredient. Just because it exists doesn't mean the universe has to exist. It still has to have a will to make the universe happen, an intentionality. A car that is in perfect  operating order, good battery, working engine, full of gas and properly connected electrical system has all of the conditions to run but yet will sit silent forever. It has one more need, a driver.

A driver is not part of the car, does not rely on the car to exist, has the will to start and direct the car, power to start the car and may have even create the car. But the driver is separate. So too does our universe need a driver, an agent who was capable of either creating or not creating our universe. That is what we call God. The Cosmological Theory does not identify what or who God is, only that He exists. In the Cosmological Theory we see that God is necessary!

Join me next time as we look at the Design Argument from the Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Aplogetics.

Monday, January 7, 2013

From Shack to Temple 2013 - No More Cheating!!

I am tired of this yo-yo I am on. I keep telling myself I am going to lose weight, just to lose it then gain even more back. Last year I ended up losing about 10 pounds for the year. My goal was 60. I am done playing around this year. It is time to take it serious. I am changing everything that I do. I am changing my workouts, the way I eat and a whole lot more. 

My workouts are changing. They have been workouts to gain muscle, with only one or two body parts worked a day. I would then end with a 30 minute cardio routine that was generally a quick walk. That work out is no more. I will be hitting a set body part, like chest. Then I will end with a complex, such as the bear complex (It is from CrossFit). It is a whole body workout that is done without ever setting down the barbell or dumbbells you are using. If you have never done them, complexes are murder!

When it comes to my diet I am looking to put in a lot of water, lean meat and vegetables with egg whites, oatmeal, greek yogurt, almonds and cottage cheese thrown in. I will be having fresh fruit on occasion for sweets and chocolate milk and protein after my workouts. I will have coffees with no creamer, which is different. I will not be comfort eating, unless it is a piece of meat. My late night snack will be cottage cheese and greek yogurt, with the occasionally popcorn. 

The big change diet wise involves my weigh-in day. I will be weighing in on Mondays. In the past I have weighed in on Wednesdays. This was so that I had an opportunity to lose the weight I had gained from cheating over the weekend. This time, no cheats. I am following a stricter diet this time around. 

This is an addiction like any other, only a little harder to break. It is the same because when you are trying to quit using a drug, you do not allow yourself to have a little. Think of an alcoholic telling himself, "I will just have one or two shots tonight." He is sure to be unsuccessful. Maybe not tonight, but one of the nights he allows himself to cheat he will go on a binge. I know this from experience. One Girl Scout cookie is too many, and a boxful is never enough. 

It is different because you have to eat. I think this makes it harder. When I got off of meth, I did not have to do meth. In fact, I found I was addicted to more and stopped taking anything that was addictive.  I knew better than to chance it. With alcohol, you do not have to drink. I can go to B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) to watch the fights and have a tea. I just leave a big tip at the end of the night for the tea. With food, we have to eat and that is difficult to do. I have to not comfort eat and watch portions ALL of the time. It is rough, but I WILL do it this year.

I am just getting started, but you can bet that at the end of January you will get a workout routine I have followed as well as a better look at the diet. I am going to be happy to share, and the blogs will be coming every couple of weeks. This morning I started off at 238.6 pounds. My goal is to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. The best is yet to come........off. I cannot wait to break the 200 pound barrier, and I will do it this year!! I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!!

If you are also trying to lose weight, please share your tips, goals and progress with me. Friend me on the app MyFitnessPal, leave comments on the blog or on Facebook. I would love to have accountability partners in this endeavor!