Every #RaviTAMU Question

(Or at least every question I could find)

This is a post that I started over a year and a half ago. I found it in my drafts. Here you go!

April 1, 2014

Ravi Zacharias came to Texas A&M for the 2014 Veritas Forum. A part of the lecture included a Q&A populated by questions on Twitter under the tag ‘#RaviTAMU’. Unfortunately, Ravi did not address all of them despite some of them being really thought provoking. Today, I scoured the #RaviTAMU tag and copied all the questions I could find. I’ve grouped them into similar categories.

Science Questions/Interpretation Issues

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU @RaviZacharias isn’t all truth God’s truth, be it scientific truth or Biblical truth?

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU can science and faith coexist? Does science strengthen faith?

Yes, all truth is God’s truth. God is the author of nature and the author of Scripture which means that the truths in both cannot ontologically contradict. Science and faith can most certainly exist. Science is merely an exposition of God’s own creation. Once could say that science strengthens faith; it seems that Paul agrees with this idea when he penned “ever since the creation of the universe God’s invisible qualities — both his eternal power and his divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made”.

On a similar note, in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies, Alvin Plantinga discusses four areas of engagement between science and religion: fields where there is no conflict at all, but only the illusion of conflict; fields where there is genuine but superficial and easily resolved conflict; fields where science and religion are in pleasant concord; and finally where there is deep and irresolvable conflict between contemporary science. Interestingly, Plantinga argues that the last category belongs to the conflict between evolutionary biology and philosophical naturalism. I’ve previously addressed this last issue in some degree: https://caplawson.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/evolutionary-argument-against-naturalism/

@ferociuos09: Must e/thing that we learn from outside the bible align with scripture? If so where do we place evolution &bigbang #RaviTAMU @RaviZacharias

@J_A_Griffin: How can a Christian reconcile evolution and the Big Bang with a literal biblical interpretation? #RaviTAMU

To the first question, yes. God is the author of nature and of Scripture which means that, ultimately, there is no ontological contradiction between the two.

When it comes to the Big Bang Theory, there isn’t any contradiction between a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. The Big Bang Theory more or less says that the universe has undergone inflation in its history which leads to the inference that the universe is not past eternal. This is consistent with the Biblical testimony that God created the universe a finite time ago. Now, when it comes to the issue of that actual age of the universe, there is a literal interpretation of Genesis known as the ‘day-age‘ view that is consistent with an ‘old’ universe of 14ish billion years. Personally, I am persuaded (for purely hermeneutical reasons) that the Genesis creation week is best understood as a framework.

Second, the theory of evolution also is consistent with a literal understanding of Genesis. In every interpretation of Genesis, it is abundantly clear that God is employing secondary causes as means of creation e.g. the phrase “let the earth bring forth animals”.

@Stephen_Renard: Explain the recent discoveries that verifies the Big Bang. Does this disprove intelligent design, or create a new perspective #RaviTAMU

@justanAg16: What does the recent discovery of gravitational waves mean for Christians? #RaviTAMU

@reblepreble: What is the Christian’s response to the recent empirical evidence of the Big Bang Theory? #RaviTAMU

Major caveat: I am just a layman when it comes to these issues, so I will do my best not to overstep the boundaries of my understanding.

Gravitational waves were predicted in 1916 by Einstien’s general theory of relativity. For the past century, they have existed mostly as theoretical. There has been some indirect evidence for these waves but the recent discovery claims that astronomers have obtained “the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky”. Of course, this research is preliminary and needs to go through the peer review process to form scientific consensus. But, if it is confirmed, it will provide additional empirical evidence for the inflation of the universe and additional support for the Big Bang Theory. Christians should always be happy with scientific discoveries because it means we’re learning more about this great universe. The Big Bang Theory is friendly to theists since it strongly implies a beginning of the universe.

More on gravitational waves: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/242499/gravity-wave/

@brteipel: #RaviTAMU What is best way to defend Bible as Truth w/ academicians struggling w/ Gen and Rev? Biblical interpretation: Literal v HistCrit?

This is a really complicated issue. I personally lean closer to the Historical Critical method. Many of the expressions in both of these books are culturally specific and wouldn’t make much sense to a Western audience in the 21st century if taken prima facie.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU but one day we will be able to replicate the spine and the eye and so on. Will those advancements undermine the wonders of God?

For context, Ravi had just said something to the effect of how really cool the human spine is and how amazing the human eye is and that reflection on these bring a great feeling of wonder about the creativity of God. First, saying that “we will one day be able to replicate these things” is what’s sometimes nicknamed ‘Science of the Gaps’. It’s not really a justified extrapolation. Nevertheless, I do agree with the sentiment of the questioner. These types of instances aren’t evidence for God and it is certainly unjustified to say something like “we can’t replicate the spine, therefore God exists”.

Morality

@dponjuan1: Is morality just what we believe is good? Since we believe the bible, how is that different from anything else? #RaviTAMU

Morality is the set of objective values and duties to which every person is obligated to recognize and perform. These would include values such as “murder is evil” and “persons should not murder”. So, if morality is just an arbitrary set of what some person thinks is good, then it wouldn’t be morality as much as it would just be personal opinion. The Bible provides an ethic that is different and even contradictory to other systems. So, if morality is objective and two different systems make contradictory claims, either one or both of them must be incorrect (law of non-contradiction).

@mbabbitt: #RaviTAMU How should we deal with those practices like abortion? Do we call them evil?

Moral issues must be dealt with by first asking fundamental questions. First, what are the things involved? Second, what is the action being performed? In the case of abortion, the answers are ‘human fetuses’ and ‘termination of pregnancy’. Now, considering the fact that every viable system of ethics has the presupposition that humans are valuable, if it can be demonstrated that the fetus is human and that the process of abortion is equivalent to coerced termination of life, then it seems to me that we are obligated to the position that abortion is the same thing as killing another human. At that point, we address the issue of abortion the same as we do with the general issue of killing other humans. Are there instances where killing another human is justified? Probably, and in those instances, the practice of abortion would also be justified. So, long story short, if the fetus can be demonstrated to be a human, then the practice of unjustified abortion is objectively evil.

@hfarris7590: @RaviZacharias You mentioned Dawkins and morality, how do you address his assertion that morality is not dependent upon a god? #RaviTAMU

First, the theistic position is to say that God is the best candidate as the ontological foundation for objective moral values and duties. The position is NOT “you have to believe in God to recognize morality”. Dawkins routinely argues against the second position which is a caricaturization. Second, Dawkins claims that morality is equivalent to empathy which has an evolutionary foundation. Now, it is completely consistent with theism to say that God allowed knowledge of the objective moral values and duties to come about through and evolutionary history. However, evolution is simply not an adequate ontological foundation for these values and duties. It reduces the notion of morality to ‘whatever helps humanity survive’. Lastly, Dawkins has been known to contradict himself. He will rail against the moral evils of religion but has famously said “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” So, I’m not sure even Dawkins knows what he means.

Philosophy

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU @RaviZacharias can fact undermine faith?

Yes, if those facts include things like “Jesus never existed” or “Jesus never resurrected”.

@nagarravi: #ravitamu what is the difference between religion and spirituality? Why it is necessary to follow a religion to attain Spirituality?

Spirituality is not very well defined. However, my experience leads me to believe that spirituality is sort of a good feeling about the world and creation. Perhaps, it may even include the acknowledgement of the existence of a God but without any effort to discern the identity of this God. So, honestly, I’m not sure what is meant by “following a religion to attain spirituality”. However, the reason it is important to follow Christianity is because it makes historical, falsifiable claims about reality that, if true, compel the intellectually honest person to affirm the validity of the Christian religion.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU God, as an being who lives outside of time, because He was dead for 3 days, then, from a 4th dimensional perspective, God is dead

lol. God is outside of time prior to creation and in time after creation.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU @RaviZacharias “Can Man Live without God?” More like, can God live without man?

This question conflates the belief of God with the actual existence of God.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU how can Christians stand in opposition to other worldviews when there is often a large set of overlapping beliefs?

Because the fundamental, foundational beliefs are contradictory. For example, a Christian can agree with a Muslim that there is one God who is the First Cause of the universe and transcendent to the material world. However, the Christian bases her religion on the deity, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus while the Muslim simply cannot affirm these propositions as all three are denied by the Qur’an.

Christian Theology

@ThriveTAMU: What role does predestination and free will play in a person coming to believe in Christ? #RaviTAMU

Both.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU @RaviZacharias is the Christian escapist view, eg. “I’ll fly away oh glory”, a healthy attitude to have?

No.

@Alexwarren21: @RaviZacharias How can one be perfectly content in Heaven if we know a loved one is in hell for eternity? Thank you #RaviTAMU

Don’t think you can. Also, the Bible is more consistent with annihilationism.

@berniceariel: Howdy Dr. Zacharias! Why do you personally believe that Jesus hasn’t returned yet? Thank you! #RaviTAMU #rzim

This was a personal question, but, I’ll answer it anyway. I think that Article 37 of the Belgic Confession provides some insight here. It reads as follows:

“Finally we believe, according to the Word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come, and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporeally and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare himself judge of the quick and the dead”

So, the quick answer would simply be that there are members of God’s elect who have not yet come to saving faith in Christ or maybe haven’t even been born yet!

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU is the Christian worldview dependent on the actuality of Biblical events? If so, couldn’t evidence exist to destroy the faith?

Yes. 1 Corinthians 15:14.

Old Testament/New Testament

@ThriveTAMU: Why didn’t Jesus say anything about slavery as an institution? #RaviTAMU

Does the Bible support slavery? Some would claim that it does, and that this contradicts the view of an all loving God presented by Christians.

Before we dive in to the issue, let us ask a more basic question, “how does God change the world?” This question is important, because the question at hand involves how God deals with immorality and injustice in the world. The accounts in the scripture shows two things about how works his will in the world:

  1. He uses means. That is, he uses people to accomplish his will in most cases.
  2. He uses time. God is very slow to judge people, he is patiently waiting, slowly changing things for the better.

If these two assertions are true, lets look at the biblical data in the context of history.

Initially, slavery of various forms was widespread in the ancient near east. This is the culture into which Judaism was born. Next, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, are enslaved in Egypt. After leaving Egypt, God gives the people the levitical law. In this law he greatly restricts the practice of slavery:

  1. The Israelites may own slaves only from other nations
  2. Slaves can only work for so many hours per day
  3. Slaves must be given wages
  4. Slaves must be permitted to buy their freedom

After this restriction of the practices of slavery, the status was maintained until Christ came. Now, The gentiles were grafted on to the nation of Israel, making slavery hard to defend. Although Christianity struggled with different issues of slavery for many more years, it has been voices within the church that have struggled to end slavery. Up to this day, the Christian church is the loudest voice voice speaking out against slavery and human trafficking.

It seems to me that God has played out a complex and long-sighted strategy using his church to end these types injustices. Does the Bible support slavery? No, The Bible and the church have been a leading force in ending slavery

(Response contributed by Andrew Robbins)

Miscellaneous

@NoLongerWicked: What is the name of this speaker (the MD)? #RaviTAMU

His name is Nabeel Qureshi. He is a speaker for RZIM and a former Muslim. He has a book chronicling his conversion which I highly recommend called “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus“.

@TAMUThomas: #RaviTAMU what is this, a science bashing, America praising circlejerk?

Haha, I guess that’s one way to put it.

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About caplawson

biomedical engineering // christian theism // texas a&m // molinism // coffee // ratio christi

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