Archaeological Find: A Testament to God's Work Throughout History

The first reference to the city of Gath in the Bible occurs in the book of Joshua. In chapter 11 we’re told that there were no Anakim, a race of giants, left in Israelite territory except for a few in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

The next time we hear of Gath is in connection with one of those giants, Goliath, in I Samuel 17. From then on, Gath becomes the most-mentioned Philistine city in the Bible. In I Chronicles 18, David captures the city. In II Chronicles 11, his grandson Rehoboam fortifies it. The city was later captured by King Hazael of Damascus and then recaptured by King Uzziah, whose death figured in the vision of Isaiah 6.

Yet until recently, no one was sure exactly where Gath was located. It wasn’t so much that they doubted its existence as they couldn’t find it.

But now it appears they have.

Israeli archaeologists, digging at a site about 20 miles northwest of Hebron, found what is being described as a “massive gate” that marked the entrance to what was then the region’s largest city.

The gates aren’t the only impressive thing about what they’ve found. According to team leader Aren Maier, based on what they’ve dug up so far, the city’s walls and other fortifications were so formidable that they “formed a rather imposing boundary that prevented the Kingdom of Judah from expanding westward.”

Thus, we have evidence of the more or less constant conflict between the people of Israel and their Philistine neighbors. It took the greatest warrior of the Bible, King David, to overcome that “rather imposing boundary.”

And Maier’s team found more than fortifications. They also found the remains of a temple that, like Gath itself, changed hands several times. Interestingly, after the Philistines captured it from the Israelites, they not only destroyed it, they desecrated it by using it as a livestock pen. It’s a testimony in stone to the enmity between those two peoples as described in the Bible.

And it’s not the only such testimony in stone. A few years ago Eric Metaxas told our BreakPoint listeners about a find in the Valley of Sorek, which marked the ancient boundary between Israelite and Philistine territories and where the Bible tells us that Samson met Delilah.

The Philistine side was littered with pig bones, while there were none on the Israelite side. And so it’s reasonable to see that as “evidence of the Israelites’ sense of being set apart from their pagan neighbors.”

It’s reasonable because biblical faith is an historical faith. The accounts in the scripture do not take place in some mythical time-before-time like that of their pagan neighbors or the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism.

They are stories about God and His servants—and enemies—working in human history in furtherance of a divine purpose whose culmination will also occur in human history. When John tells us that the “Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us”—the Greek verb there comes from the Greek word for “tent”—he was referring to Tent of Meeting in Exodus 27, where God met his people.

In entering time and place, as described over and over in the Scriptures, most significantly in Christ Jesus, God has hallowed human history. He made it the setting in which His salvific activity would take place. Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise when finds like the one I just told you about occur. Activities in history, even seemingly insignificant ones, often leave traces.

But of course there’s nothing insignificant about Israel’s story. After all, it’s that story of the people whom God chose to use in order to repair all that human sin had broken, culminating in the sending of his Son, who—as the Apostle John reports—promises to “make all things new.”

And as Gath and its great hero found out at the young hands of Israel’s future king, that’s something that no barrier, no matter how imposing, can get in the way of.

Click HERE for original article

Doctors and Evolution

David Klinghoffer

In an almost charmingly naïve article, Francie Diep at Pacific Standardwonders, "Why Do Some Doctors Reject Evolution?" Her news peg is Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has expressed reservations about Darwinian accounts of evolution -- though I don't know that anyone has questioned him sharply and in an informed way about his ideas on the subject.

Miss Diep is perplexed: "We assumed such beliefs would be unusual among doctors." Not so, she discovered.

[W]hen Pacific Standard talked to doctors, many didn't find their colleagues' rejection of evolution unusual. "Nope, it's not uncommon at all," says David Gorski, a surgeon and researcher at Wayne State University. Even in the national spotlight, Carson isn't the only high-profile politician-physician to doubt the well-established biology concept.

All of the physicians Pacific Standard talked with, both on and off the record, had the same answer to "How is it possible?": Although doctors use many insights from biology, many don't actually need to understand or believe in evolution correctly to do their jobs.

"Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they're more akin to engineers," Gorski says. "They take science that's already known and they apply it to a problem, the problem being making patients better."

It's not a knock? It sure sounds like one. The countervailing consideration is that physicians and engineers -- and why not throw in computer scientists as well? -- do something on a daily basis that evolutionary biologists never do. The doctor or engineer's responsibility is to maintain, devise, or build complex systems, even from the ground up, systems that must operate continuously without fail. If the system does fail, then the physician, engineer, or computer scientist has flopped in his job. Not uncommonly, the results of such a flop can be fatal -- for the patient on the operating table, for example, or the passenger in the jet airplane.

Luxuriously insulated from reality, biologists theorizing about the history of life, how it arose and developed, face no such pressure to fill in what Ann Gauger calls the "white spaces" in evolutionary thinking. (For more on that, see "The Modesty Chronicles.") Vague stories and magic words typically substitute for detailed explanations of how biological systems could come into being through purposeless, unintelligent processes alone. It often seems that the only serious pressure that Darwinists do face is from us.

Miss Diep rolls out the usual line about how evolution is vital to biology which is vital to medicine, ergo medicine needs evolution or ought to do so. But even some hardline Darwinists admit that the practical benefits of their cherished theory are scarce.

Coincidentally, a correspondent today sends across my desk this from biologist Jerry Coyne, of Why Evolution Is True fame. Writing in Nature ("Selling Darwin"), Coyne has conceded:

[T]ruth be told, evolution hasn't yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn't evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of 'like begets like'. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all.

He wrote that in 2006 -- maybe he'd be more circumspect now. But I'm not aware that anything has changed in medicine or other fields to shift a reasonable person from such a view.

Coyne, of course, believes that the importance of evolution lies in its power to explain, or explain away, not to heal or otherwise improve the quality of our lives. It's precisely that explanatory power, as we know, that is most urgently in need of critical examination.

Read original article HERE      

When the Dust Settles

Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality.

I would like to begin by telling a story about an event that took place some years ago when I was beginning my studies, an event that has had a major impact on my life and my approach to engaging others to this day. I had a neighbor who was deeply committed to a version of the New Age movement. He and I had many conversations about God in the course of several months. He was a highly educated man with a couple of PhDs to his name, and so he provided me with an opportunity to test my training. But the training I was receiving in apologetics was good, and I soon realized that I could not only answer the questions he was asking about my faith in God, I could also poke holes in his worldview in a way that forced him to check books out of the local library to try and put his worldview back together. And I was feeling very good about myself. I was actually getting it!

Finally I decided to challenge him to consider giving his life to Christ. His reaction surprised me. He did not seem to care at all about what I was telling him. So I said to him, “Can you please explain to me what is going on? You don’t seem to care about what I am telling you.” His answer was even more baffling to me. He said to me, “Listening to you asking me to become a Christian is like listening to a naturalist asking me to become a naturalist.”

I said to him, “What in the world do you mean? I just asked you to consider giving your life to the God who created you, and you are accusing me of being an atheist? What do you mean?”

He said to me, “All you Christians have are statements and creeds. You think that if people accept those statements and creeds, everything will be okay. When I pray, I get in touch with powers that you know nothing about.”

And that was one of the most convicting things anyone has ever said to me. Because what this man was saying to me was essentially this: “Yes, you can say a lot of very convincing things about your faith, but does your faith really rise beyond well-argued propositions?”

In his book Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias says that the greatest obstacle to the reception of the gospel is not its inability to provide answers; rather, it is the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. J.I. Packer writes similarly in his classic book entitled Knowing God:

From current Christian publications you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that -ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture…. [It] is tragic that … so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ.1

Whatever your position of faith, it is helpful to occasionally step back and ask a similar question of priority. Whatever your calling in life, what is the ultimate goal of all that you do? As Jesus wisely observed, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Indeed, the Bible addresses this question in many places, in both the Old and New Testaments, but none so much as in the person of Christ himself. If there is a message we hear loudest in his coming to earth it is this: the primary call of God is to know God, to be near God, not to argue on God’s behalf. The end is knowing God. Even the Scriptures were given to us as a means to that end. For when all is said and done, when the dust settles, it is the eternally incarnate Son of God who lies behind the hauntingly inescapable question, “Who do you say that I am?” It is a question each of us must answer, with our words and with our lives. There is no neutral ground.

No, Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality. How wonderful it is when the curtain is pulled back, and we see God for who God truly is, and we are able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

John Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

1J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 279.

Click HERE to read original article

Question on Time amd the Origin of the Universe

 

Questions on Time and the Origin of the Universe

Dr. Craig,

My name is Tejas and I'm 13 years old. I admire you and have watched many of your debates. I sincerely request you to answer this question, and thank you for taking your time to read this.

My question regards the Kalam Cosmological Argument, that I have seen you present in some debates. The first part is, is the initial premise on causation refuted if the zero-energy universe hypothesis is true, and what would be the flaws if the universe were a vacuum fluctuation? And regarding the second premise, could you please tell me why you think the presentism ontology of time is true?

I thank you so much and apologize if there seems to be any disrespect in the question. Please do answer this question.

Thanks so much,

Warm regards,

Tejas

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

 

Chimps Can Cook! -- Or Not

We are continually told: "Humans are not exceptional!" Scientists and advocates huff and puff to show how animals are just like us, and the media eats it up.

This one made me laugh. The other day, the Guardian ran an article with a title that declared chimpanzees can cook. The title, however, ended up being a bit misleading:

 

A study found that chimpanzees prefer the taste of cooked food, can defer gratification while waiting for it and even choose to hoard raw vegetables if they know they will have the chance to cook them later on.

 

The findings suggest that our earliest ancestors may have developed a taste for roast vegetables and grilled meat earlier than previously thought, potentially shifting the timeline for one of the critical transitions in human history.

Wow! So, given the chance, they cook? Well, not exactly. They just exchanged raw food for better tasting cooked food:

For safety reasons, this was a plastic lunchbox with a false bottom, which researchers used to "transform" raw sweet potato placed inside by the chimpanzees into a cooked slice of a similar size...

Overall, the apes chose cooked potato nearly 90% of the time when they were given a straight choice and they were nearly as keen when they had to wait one minute while it was "cooked" by the researcher (who shook the plastic box ten times).

The chimps continued to opt for the cooked option 60% of the time when they had to carry the food some distance in order to place it in the "oven" -- although since they often carried it in their mouths this was a challenge and they sometimes appeared to eat the food on the way, "almost by accident".

So, chimps don't cook. Nor is there any evidence they have ever tried. They reacted to an unnatural situation set up by humans. But, of course, this means chimps are people too, or perhaps better stated, we are just chimps:

 

Dr. Erica van de Waal, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews, said the findings add to the growing list of parallels that have been observed between human and ape behaviours. "The more we study our primate cousins, the more we realise that they have the bases of most of our cognitive abilities, including for language, culture and fairness," she said.

 

Other than the fact that they don't have the actual abilities.

The experiments were performed at the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which may shed some light on the results. Goodall is an ideologue as much as a scientist and exaggerated the inner lives of the chimps she observed to make them seem more human.

Read original article HERE

Is Worship of Jesus Idolatry?

Hello Dr. Craig,

First, I want to thank you for all that you have done for the cause of Christ. You have been a powerful witness for the faith. I've continually been challenged in my thinking and knowledge by your writings and public discourses. You have taught me how to think critically and how to share Christian truth in a Christ-like manner.

I am a student of philosophy looking to go into apologetics ministry. In my studies and my time witnessing I've had to address many of the common objections to Christianity. One of the more recent objections has come from a Jewish man that I am witnessing to. It seems that one of the crucial things that is holding him back is the worship of Jesus. He couldn't see any way how this wouldn't end up being idolatry because, as he claimed, “you would be worshiping man rather than God”. Of course, I tried to point out that Jesus has two natures but it seems like this point was missed. Do you have any helpful ways to explain our worship of Jesus in a way that bypasses this objection? How should we understand our worship of Jesus? Do we worship him in deity and merely admire his humanity?

Any of your thoughts on this issue would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for all that you do in the name of Christ.

Adam

United States


To read Dr. Craig's answer please click HERE

The Reliability of the Gospels

Dear Dr. Craig,

First off, I want to thank you for all that you have done for me through your ministry and hope that your reach continues to spread. I grew up in a conservative Christian home and for the most part accepted everything that I had been taught. Then during my junior year of high school I read some Richard Dawkins, and the likes, and quickly lost my faith. About six or so months later I discovered your ministry and my life was changed! Your arguments convinced me and in no time I had gone back to my faith. I read On Guard and Reasonable Faith among other Christian authors as well. I felt that my faith was strong and I even considered changing my major to Philosophy for a short time. But now, I am saddened to say that I am slowly losing my faith in the Christian God.

Before I go into my reasons for losing my faith, I want to point out that at this point I still believe that Christ rose from the dead but if I were to give that up I would comfortably sit in a deist position, being that I consider arguments for a Gods existence to be convincing. So, the reason for my diminishing faith is that I have found that I can no longer trust the Old or New Testament. I will leave the Old Testament aside for now and focus on the new. In your books you have maintained that the earliest gospel was Mark and that it was written some 40 years after the death of Jesus, give or take a few years. You also hold that in the time between the event of Jesus' death and the writing of the Gospel of Mark that legends could not have infiltrated the original narrative because 40 years is not long enough. I find this reasoning very problematic.

I could grant you that the resurrection did happen (which I hold to) due to its attestation in multiple gospels and the Pauline epistles but that would in now way confirm any of the stories or teachings of Jesus. His whole life could have been made up by the writers, not due to them being corrupt but that these were the simply the stories they were told of Jesus that were passed on to the early Christians. My question here is how can we trust any of the stories of Jesus if they are not attested in each of the synoptic gospels?

I also find that the explanation that 4o years is too small of a window for legend to become present hard to buy into. First, within 4o years it is likely that few if any of the original eyewitnesses were alive being that the lifespan of humans then was minimal. So how could the stories be checked for accuracy if the eyewitnesses themselves were no longer around to do so? Secondly, when the eyewitnesses went to tell their story so others would follow Jesus they could not have told every single person from every town, therefore relying on the ones they told to pass on the story. It is plausible to think that if one's wife wasn't convinced by the stories of Jesus that the eyewitnesses told her husband then her husband would make up an even more miraculous story, like Jesus turning water into wine, to get her to believe. This is just one scenario of many that very likely took place leading to multiple if not the majority of Jesus' life being composed of stories that were made up to convince others.

Now as I stated earlier, I am a Christian but it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold the New Testament as authoritative concerning the matters of Jesus' life.

Best Regards,

David

 

United States


To read Dr. Graig's answer please clck HERE

Warm-Bloodedness is an Ocean Fish Stuns Evolutionists

It's a big, round fish called the opah, found in deep waters around the earth and looking a bit like someone's goldfish that seriously outgrew its bowl. Some fish, like tuna and sharks, can control temperature in parts of the body. This one can keep its whole body warm, giving it improved performance in the coldness of the depths. It's the first example of whole-body endothermy in a fish, raising new questions about the evolution of a complex trait.

The story caught the attention of many news sites, such as the BBC News and the Washington PostThe Weather Channel featured a short news video and report, saying that warm-bloodedness gives this fish a competitive advantage when it hunts slower, cold-blooded prey. Nate Scott at USA Today got a little crazy with his coverage, saying "Scientists have found a warm-blooded fish and we're probably all dead... They're evolving."

This is a sign. This is a message from the deep. Fish are changing. They're getting smarter. It won't be long before the warm blood of this fish starts burning hot, hot with a desire to eat us one by one.

Or perhaps not. Let's take a look at this nice harmless fish scientifically. Calling it "warm-blooded" is a bit of a misnomer, since it lacks the tightly regulated endothermic homeostasis seen in higher vertebrates like mammals and birds. Instead, as Sacha Vignieri explains in a short statement in This Week in Science, the opah distributes heat around its body that's generated by its swimming muscles.

Mammals and birds warm their entire bodies above the ambient temperature. Generally, this ability is lacking in other vertebrates,although some highly active fish can temporarily warm their swim muscles. Wegner et al. show that the opah, a large deepwater fish, can generate heat with its swim muscles and use this heat to warm both its heart and brain. This ability increases its metabolic function in cold deep waters, which will help the fish compete with other, colder-blooded species. [Emphasis added.]

Conservation of muscle heat is not that unusual. As noted, tuna and some sharks can warm parts of their body with it. The source paper in Scienceidentifies the key to the mechanism in the opah: counter-current heat exchangers in the gills.

Here, we describe a whole-body form of endothermy in a fish, the opah (Lampris guttatus), that produces heat through the constant "flapping" of wing-like pectoral fins and minimizes heat lossthrough a series of counter-current heat exchangers within its gills. Unlike other fish, opah distribute warmed blood throughout the body, including to the heart, enhancing physiological performance and buffering internal organ function while foraging in the cold, nutrient-rich waters below the ocean thermocline.

Counter-current heat exchangers (CCHE) are common in vertebrates. We have them in our kidneys. Similar mechanisms are found in sea turtles, foxes, and dolphins. Illustra Media's new film Living Waters (to be completed this month) will illustrate a particularly amazing example of a CCHE in humpback whales that creates a severe challenge for Darwinian evolution.

Other fish have CCHE's, too, so it's not overly surprising that the opah can use the mechanism to distribute heat generated by its fin muscles to warm itself. This does not, however, minimize the wonder of a CCHE. It is achieved by a "wonderful net" of blood vessels (rete mirabile, literally "miraculous web" in Latin) that provides an ingenious method to regulate core body temperature.

In a rete (plural: retia), arteries and veins mesh into networks of fine vessels that flow in opposite directions, as the term counter-current implies. This allows heat to diffuse from warm arteries to cold veins. In dolphins, excess heat from swimming is shed to the environment through retia in the dorsal fin and tail, where the blubber layer is absent.

The opah has retia in its gills. The authors explain how this provides warm-bloodedness in an unusual way for a fish:

What is exceptional about the opah is its arrangement of counter-current retia mirabilia located inside each thick, fat-insulated gill arch (Fig. 2), which thermally isolate the respiratory exchange surfaces from the rest of the body. Vascular casts of the gills (Fig. 2, A, C, and E) reveal that unlike other fishes, extensions of the afferent and efferent filament arteries (which deliver and collect blood immediately pre- and post-gas exchange at the gill lamellae) are embedded within each gill arch in a tightly bundled and contorted manner to form an arterio-arterial rete. Specifically, the afferent and efferent arteries of each individual filament are closely coupled (Fig. 2E) and stacked in an alternating pattern within the arch (Fig. 2, C and D) so that the cold oxygenated blood of each efferent vessel (returning from the respiratory exchange surfaces) should be warmed by the conduction of heat from the warm deoxygenated blood in the afferent filament arteries on either side (which are carrying blood to the gas exchange surfaces). As a result,oxygenated blood leaving the respiratory exchange surfaces should be warmed before entering into efferent branchial arteries for distribution to the rest of the body.

These retia, in other words, are unusual in that they are all composed of arteries, not arteries and veins. Heat from the warmer deoxygenated blood is transferred to oxygenated blood in the gills, so that it is not lost to the ocean water. But even that is not enough to keep the fish's brain warm. The authors found an additional rete in the muscles that move the eyes that adds a littlemore heat to the cranium. This way, the fish can avoid the mental sluggishness of a cold brain.

"Of particular importance is the capacity of opah to increase the temperature of the heart," they continue, by conserving body heat with specialized fat layers. The combined systems work well for a fish that spends most of its time below the thermocline in the frigid waters of the deep. "With a warm body core and heart, and even warmer cranial region, opah have the capacity for enhanced physiological function in their deep, cold habitat."

In short, the opah employs specialized adaptations of traits that are present in other fish. They are arranged in ways to conserve and channel heat for this species' deep-water needs. Consequently, the fish can call the world's deep oceans home.

And Now, Evolution

What do the authors say about how these adaptations evolved? Not much.

This study presents morphological, temperature, and behavioral data that demonstrate an independent evolution of a more whole-body form of endothermy present in the opah, Lampris gutattus -- a poorly studied, large, mesopelagic fish with a circumglobal distribution....

In many respects, the opah has converged with regionally endothermic fishes such as tunas and lamnid sharks for increased aerobic capacity. However, unlike these active, more surface-oriented predators that are thought to be derived from tropical ancestors and to use regional endothermy to expand their thermal tolerance or habitat utilization into deep and colder waters, the opah's evolutionary history is likely tied to greater oceanic depths, with all but the most basal lineage of the Lampridiformes inhabiting the mesopelagic zone (200 to 1000 m depth). Therefore, rather than using regional endothermy to dive below the thermocline during temporary forages, the opah (with its more whole-body form of endothermy) is distinctively specialized to exploit cold, deeper waters while maintaining elevated levels of physiological performance. The discovery of this form of endothermy, coupled with the recent finding of several distinct opah species inhabiting different regions of the world's oceans (including the subpolar southern opah, L. immaculatus), sets the stage for future comparative studies to further explore this key evolutionary innovation.

The explanation? Convergent evolution to the rescue! This fish's evolutionary history is tied to the depths. Give us more funding, and we can "further explore this key evolutionary innovation."

If that leaves you feeling unsatisfied, consider intelligence as a cause. Intelligence can take a solution that works in one environment and apply it in different animals in different environments. A rete mirabile is a complex system that cannot arise in a gradual, stepwise manner, because all the parts have to function together before any part has survival value. "Convergence" and "innovation" are magic words that provide no understanding. But since we know of a cause -- intelligence -- that can adapt a similar solution in multiple ways, that is a cause that a rational scientist should pursue.

Why Christianity rather than Judaism or Islam?

Hello Dr. Craig,

I have always wondered about your claim that Christianity is the only true religion (based on historical evidence as you say). But how can you be so sure when Islamic and Jewish scholars claim the same claim?

As a former atheist and now an agnostic, the question of which religion to choose is essential. I'm very well acquainted with Islamic Theology and unlike your claim. Islam affirms that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship the same god ("Allah" is not a special god for Muslims rather it's the term for god in Arabic).

So what is your position on Islam? (And I would really like to know from who do you get your information on Islamic theology).

I also would to invest some time in Christian theology, would kindly recommend some introductory books?

Thank you,

Sultan

United States

 

The short answer to your question of why Christianity rather than Islam or Judaism, Sultan, is Jesus of Nazareth. While Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the world’s three great monotheistic faiths, genetically related and so having much in common, what divides them is their account of Jesus. I think that neither Judaism nor Islam gives a satisfactory historical account of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

My interest in Islamic thought was sparked by my study of the history of the so-called kalam cosmological argument, especially its development by medieval Muslim theologians like al-Ghazali. In fact, it was due to their contribution to the development of the argument that I dubbed this version of the argument, which goes back to the pre-Islamic Christian era, the kalam cosmological argument (“kalam” being, as perhaps you know, the Arabic term for Islamic doctrine). You can read about their contribution to this and other forms of the cosmological argument in my The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz (London: Macmillan, 1980).

My interest in Islam thus awakened, I chose Islam as one of my two side areas of specialization on which I was examined for my doctorate in theology at the University of Munich. Both the teachings of the Qur’an and the dogmatic history of Islamic theology became subjects of fascination for me. I never dreamt at that time that some day I would have the privilege of debating Muslim apologists in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa and lecturing on Islam and Christianity, not only in North America and Europe, but even at Muslim universities in Turkey and Tunisia.

While you’re certainly correct that “Allah” is just the Arabic word for God, being used even in the Arabic New Testament, it doesn’t follow, Sultan, from common vocabulary or words that Muslims and Christians have the same concept of God. No Muslim would concede that God is a Trinity of persons, as Christians believe, and, as you must know, the Qur’an condemns to hell those who claim that Jesus is God’s Son, as we Christians believe (V.70).[1] Similarly, I have argued that the character of the God of the New Testament is fundamentally different from the character of the God of the Qur’an. The God of the New Testament loves unbelievers with a love that is unconditional and universal (Matthew 5.43-48), whereas the God of the Qur’an has no love for unbelievers but loves only those who are faithful Muslims (III.25; XIX. 95).

But the real Achilles Heel of Islam is its portrait of the historical Jesus. It is ironic that the Qur’an chooses to deny the best established fact about Jesus, namely, his crucifixion (IV.157). Not only is there not a single shred of evidence in favor of this remarkable hypothesis, but the evidence supporting Jesus’ crucifixion is, as Emory University New Testament scholar L. T. Johnson puts it, “overwhelming” (The Real Jesus [San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996], p. 125). Paula Frederickson, whose book From Jesus to Christ inspired the PBS special by the same name, declares, “The crucifixion is the strongest single fact we have about Jesus” (Society of Biblical Literature meeting, November 22, 1999). The crucifixion of Jesus is recognized even by the sceptical critics in the Jesus Seminar as--to quote Robert Funk--”one indisputable fact” (Jesus Seminar video).

When we think that the Qur’an was written by a man living in Arabia 600 years after Jesus with no independent source of information about him, it really isn’t so surprising that his view of Jesus was distorted. Whatever else one might say about Islam, its view of Jesus is erroneous, and so this religion cannot be true. There is good material on this site about Islam and Christianity; for example, www.reasonablefaith.org/who-is-the-real-jesus-the-jesus-of-the-bible-or-the-jesus-of-the-quranwww.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-vs-ally-canadawww.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-vs-badawi-university-of-illinois

As for Judaism, again I should say that the decisive consideration is Jesus’ claims to be the Jewish Messiah and his subsequent resurrection from the dead. Jewish scholars are coming to recognize the historical facts undergirding Jesus’ resurrection and are hard-pressed to explain those facts apart from the resurrection. Indeed, one of their number, the late Pinchas Lapide, whom I heard lecture at the University of Munich, declared himself convinced that the God of Israel raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. He also thought that Jesus believed himself to be the Messiah. As Prof. Dr. Wolfhart Pannenberg, my Doktorvater, mused at the time, Lapide seemed strangely unable to connect the dots. If you’re interested in how a Jewish scholar responds to the evidence, take a look at my debate with Peter Zaas, Who Was Jesus?,ed. Craig Evans and Paul Copan [Louisville, Kent.: Westminster-John Knox Press, 2002]).

You ask, “How can you be so sure when Islamic and Jewish scholars claim the same claim?” Well, because they can’t explain the evidence concerning Jesus as well as Christianity. I’d invite you just to look at the resources I mentioned and judge for yourself. For more on Christian theology, I suppose I’d recommend Bruce Milne’s Know the Truth, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, Il.: Inter-Varsity, 2009) or my own lectures on Christian doctrine at www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast .

 



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