The Meaning of Advent

One of the great joys of Christmas is the arrival of special guests. It may be a son or daughter who has been away at college or in the military. It could be a favorite aunt or uncle who has flown in for the holidays. Friends might be coming to share a holiday dinner. Whoever it is, you anticipate the arrival of your guests and prepare yourself and your home for their coming. And finally, when you hear the knock or the doorbell, you jump up, eager to welcome your loved ones into your heart and home.

That spirit and emotion are at the heart of Advent, a way of celebrating Christmas that may be new to you. Perhaps you’re aware of Advent but don’t know a lot about what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it. When you hear the word, you probably think of candles and calendars. While those are often involved in the celebration, they are merely symbols of what Advent is all about.

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Can Atheists Solve the Problem of “Free Will” by Redefining It?

In my book, God’s Crime Scene, I explain how free agency presents a problem for atheistic naturalists who try to explain it from “inside the room” of the natural universe. In God’s Crime Scene, I examine eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine if the best explanation for these evidences are found “inside” or “outside” the “room”. Free agency is one of the eight evidences I investigate. Materialistic atheists must address an important dilemma: according to their worldview, we live in a physical universe in which natural laws act on matter over time, yet we have the persistent, practical experience of making what appear to be free choices as we love, reason and make moral judgments. We also condemn or praise each other as though our choices and decisions are our own. How are we to reconcile the material, deterministic nature of the universe with our own experience of free will and responsibility?
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Great Resources for Defending God’s Existence

Last Friday I posted a list of resources to help you make the case for Christianity. That list was borrowed from Cold-Case Christianity. Today I’d like to offer a short list of resources from God’s Crime Scene designed to help you make the case for God’s existence. In God’s Crime Scene, I explore the evidence in the universe using a simple investigative technique I borrowed from death scene investigations. Every death investigation presents one of four possibilities; the victim died accidentally, died from natural causes, committed suicide or was murdered. Only one of these circumstances requires someone outside the room to enter the scene. Accidental deaths, natural deaths and suicides can occur without an intruder. Homicide detectives, therefore, are looking for evidence of outside involvement. One important question must be asked and answered: “Can the evidence ‘in the room’ be explained by staying ‘in the room’?” As we examine the universe around us, a similar opportunity is available. Can everything we see in the universe be explained solely from causes found within the natural realm, or is there evidence of an outside “intruder”?
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Great Christian Case-Making Resources

After speaking at a recent Christen leadership camp, the coordinator asked me to suggest some follow-up resources for the attendees. I sent the following list from the “Expert Witness” Section of my first book, Cold-Case Christianity. I’ve always considered my books to be “gateway” books for those who may not yet be familiar with the incredible scholarship available to all of us as Christians. It’s my goal to introduce you to people who are writing and teaching in the field. The following list is organized based on each chapter of Cold-Case Christianity. These books would make an excellent “starter” library for anyone interested in making the case for Christianity.

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Why the Efficiency of Biological Organisms Cannot Be Explained by Evolution

Even atheistic scientists stipulate to the appearance of design in biological organisms. Richard Dawkins would be the first to agree: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” One example of the appearance of design in molecular organisms has become the icon of the Intelligent Design movement. Biochemist Michal Behe wrote about the bacterial flagellum twenty years ago in his famous book, Darwin’s Black Box. The flagellum bears a striking resemblance to the rotary motors created by intelligent designers. University of Utah Biology Professor David Blair describes the amazing similarities: “An ensemble of over forty different kinds of proteins makes up the typical bacterial flagellum. These proteins function in concert as a literal rotary motor. The bacterial flagellum’s components stand as direct analogs to the parts of a man-made motor, including a rotor, stator, drive shaft, bushing, universal joint, and propeller.”
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Can We Attribute Free Will to Quantum Physics?

As I’ve written previously, free agency presents a problem for atheistic naturalists who try to explain it from “inside the room” of the natural universe. In my book, God’s Crime Scene, I examine eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine if the best explanation for these evidences are found “inside” or “outside” the “room”. Free agency is one of the eight evidences I investigate. Materialistic atheists must address an important dilemma: according to their worldview, we live in a physical universe in which natural laws act on matter over time, yet we have the persistent, practical experience of making what appear to be free choices as we love, reason and make moral judgments. We also condemn or praise each other as though our choices and decisions are our own. How are we to reconcile the material, deterministic nature of the universe with our own experience of free will and responsibility?
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How We Define the Nature of God Determines How We Define the Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is often cited as a form of exculpating evidence by those who deny the existence of God. Exculpating evidence points away from a “suspect” under consideration in an investigation. If evil is exculpatory, it would eliminate the reasonable inference of God’s existence. In my latest book, God’s Crime Scene, I examine the problem of evil as one of eight pieces of evidence in the universe to see if the existence of evil is compatible with the existence of God. While the issue is certainly complicated, one thing is certain: How we define the nature of God determines how we define the problem of evil.
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Why I Know the Gospels Were Written Early (FREE Bible Insert)

The first criteria I use to test the reliability of a witness is simply this: was the alleged “eyewitness” really present when the crime occurred? You can’t be a true eyewitness if you weren’t even there to see what it is you said you saw! This simple criteria is part of a four part reliability template I describe in Cold-Case Christianity, and reflects the California jury instructions for jurors who are asked to assess the reliability of eyewitnesses on the stand. As a skeptic, I examined this issue related to the claims of the Gospel authors. Matthew and John were allegedly eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. Mark (according to the first century bishop, Papias) chronicled the eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter, and Luke recorded his own investigation of the eyewitnesses. But how early are these accounts? Could they have been written by people who were actually present during the life and ministry of Jesus?
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Are Moral Truths An Illusion?

In my new book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for A Divinely Created Universe, I describe eight pieces of evidence “in the room” of the natural universe and ask a simple question: Can this evidence be explained by staying “inside the room” or is a better explanation “outside the room” of naturalism? One important piece of evidence I consider in this effort is the existence of objective, transcendent moral truths. Some philosophers and scientists deny the existence of moral truth altogether. As Richard Dawkins has famously asserted: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

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Four Ways the Earth Is Fine-Tuned for Life

The just so appearance of “fine-tuning” in our universe is rather uncontroversial amongst scientists and cosmologists. Even Paul Davies (who is agnostic when it comes to the notion of a Divine Designer) readily stipulates, “Everyone agrees that the universe looks as if it was designed for life.” The foundational, regional and locational conditions of our universe, solar system and planet are delicately balanced and finely calibrated. The slightest modification of these conditions would be disastrous for life. The delicate requirements for the existence of galaxies, star systems, and planets capable of supporting “intelligent observers” are incredibly fragile. In my book, God’s Crime Scene, I describe the nature of foundational, regional and locational conditions in the context of a crime scene I investigated many years ago. The evidence I observed in these layers led me to conclude an external suspect had tampered with the scene to cause a death. In a similar way, it appears the layered conditions of the universe have been “tampered with” to cause the emergence of life.
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