Troubleshooting Truth – Step 5 Keep Common Items In Stock

When I was working in the field as a service electrician, I hated going to the supply house. If I was on a job site, I wanted to finish and move onto the next job. How did I prevent a trip to the supply house? I kept common times in stock. From receptacles to switches and ballasts, I knew what items I used on a regular basis and I kept them in stock. This helped me to avoid the supply house and be more productive. If I found a switch that needed replacing, for example, I had one on my truck that I could quickly use to remedy the situation. If our employees would only learn this lesson, my job would be a lot easier.

Let’s consider the claims of Christianity. Are there any “common items” we have “in stock” that we can use? Has God built into us anything that we can readily access in the pursuit of truth? I believe there are. Let’s look at three supplies God had placed on our shelf.

Logic.

The first item we find in our stock is logic. Merriam-Webster defines logic as “the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” We all use various forms of logic every day without even thinking about it. It is just built into us. It can be a complex topic and universities offer degrees in logic, so we’ll just cover one of it’s laws. The law of non contradiction is a law of logic that we all intuitively know is true. It says that that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. It’s like trying to imagine a square circle or a married bachelor. They cannot logically exist together. We all know this law is true without even thinking about it, and to deny it is to affirm it. Think about that for a minute!

But where did this law come from? Logic concludes that every law must have a law-giver. Even if no humans existed in the universe, logic would still exist. But, this system of reasoning must be based in a mind. It is based in the ultimate mind. It comes from the mind of God.

The following quote from C. S. Lewis sums this up nicely:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

Morality.

Murder. Cowardice. Betrayal. Lying. These are things that are universally recognized as wrong. The moral argument for God says:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

Basically, if one thing is objectively wrong, then God exists. Deep down inside, we all know that this is true. It is even confirmed to be the case in the Bible. Romans 2:14-15 says “14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” God has written the moral law on each of our hearts.

My favorite quote on morality also comes from the great C. S. Lewis. He famously said:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

Nature.

Psalm 19:1-3 says “1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

From biology to cosmology, the fingerprint of God is clearly seen. Many try to deny this but the Bible says that it is clearly seen and that we are all without excuse. The following are a couple of the arguments for God that we see in nature:

A. The Kalam Cosmological argument. It says:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.

The cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, personal, and intelligent. This is a pretty good description of God. And, coupled with the other arguments we’ve discussed in previous posts, the Christian God appears to fit the bill.

B. The Fine Tuning Argument

This argument is summed up nicely in William Lane Craig’s book “On Guard.” He writes:

“1. The universe is fine-tuned for life.

2. Fine-tuning can potentially be explained by chance, necessity or design.

3. Not by chance or necessity.

4. Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design.

Why not chance?

The odds are literally astronomically high. According to Robert Penrose, an atheist, the odds are one part in 10^10^123. Even if you wrote a 0 on every proton and neutron in the entire universe you would not be able to write this number down! To persist in asserting chance as a legitimate explanation against overwhelming odds like this is irrational. To do so would completely undermine statistics and any other rational predictions (e.g., weather forecasting, stock projections, etc.).

Why not necessity?

Because the constants are independent of the laws of nature and independent of one another. And because there are no intrinsic reasons to, say, why the weak force is the strength it is. These are contingent (could have been otherwise) values. If all of these constants and laws are explainable in terms of some unified super-theory, this simply pushes back the problem one level: why is the unified super-theory so tightly and elegantly composed so as to produce each of these constants and laws so as to produce life?

This leaves design as the only viable explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe”

The other day I was working on a home standby generator at a customer’s house. It had failed to start during a power outage. A coworker of mine had diagnosed the problem as a bad starter, so we ordered the starter and I had returned to replace it. After replacing it, it still failed to start. I was puzzled. Upon further investigation, I found that it had a bad start relay switch. I was 45 minutes away from a supply house so I said a quick prayer that I would have something on my truck that could solve the problem. I looked through my stock and found a relay that worked perfectly. I was thankful it was in my stock.

As we investigate the truth of Christianity, we can also be thankful that God placed the common items of logic, morality, and nature in our stock.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step 4 Process of Elimination

I live in the south, and, in the south, bad weather comes in all shapes and sizes. From thunderstorms to tornadoes and hurricanes, we see it all. And, with bad weather, come the inevitable power outages. And this leads to calls for generators, because most people can’t seem to survive a few hours without power.

One of the things the company I work for does is to install automatic standby generators. We’ve installed hundreds over the past few years due to a lot of bad weather. Mrs. Jones was one such customer, but she had a legitimate reason for needing a generator. She had cancer and she was on oxygen. A power loss was a life threatening situation for her.

I gave her a quote and she and her husband approved the installation. We came out, installed and tested the generator and everything seemed fine. But, then the calls began. She called and said the generator didn’t start during it’s weekly self test. I went and checked on it and it ran fine, so I figured that it was a fluke. It wasn’t. This began a frustrating 8 month process to solve her problem.

I could not seem to find a problem with her generator. Every time I came to check for a problem, it would run fine. The only thing I knew to do was to begin a process of elimination. I started with the controller, then the governor, then I changed the air filter. Nothing seemed to work. After elimination all other potential causes, I was convinced that she was having a fuel problem. But the fuel pressure tested fine.

Out of frustration, I hired another generator tech to diagnose the generator. He found the problem. The fuel pressure was randomly dropping which was causing the generator to cut off. He just happened to be testing it when this occurred. I called the plumbers who promptly replaced the fuel regulator and the problem was solved. She hasn’t had an issue since. It took eliminating all others potential causes before I became confidence that the fuel was the culprit.

Process of elimination is a common practice used while troubleshooting. What about the Gospels? Can we use this tool to eliminate all other potential causes other than that they are true and reliable? Let’s find out. Let’s look at the resurrection since it at is the core of the Gospel narrative. Let’s see what it’s potential causes might be.

First potential cause: The swoon theory.

The swoon theory claims that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He just passed out, later revived and walked out of the tomb, thus leading the disciples to assume that he had been raised from the dead. There are several problems with this theory. If Jesus did revive, how did he unwrap the grave clothes, roll the stone away from the tomb, and overcome the Roman guards placed at the tomb? And even if He accomplished all this, He would have been in a very weak and wounded condition. He would have been hard pressed to convince anyone that He was miraculously risen. It would have taken weeks for Him to physically recover. There are so many holes in this theory, that most skeptics have stopped trying to use it.

Second potential cause: The Disciples stole the body.

This claim has multiple problems as well. Just as with the swoon theory, how could they have overcome trained Roman guards and rolled the massive stone away? Also, what would they have done with the body? Someone would have eventually noticed or told where the body was being hidden. And why would they have done this? They had no motive. They were all cowering in fear that they would be crucified as well. It’s also important to note that no one in history ever denied that the tomb was empty. They just tried to come up with reasons other than that Jesus had been raised from the dead. They are still trying this in our day. The Romans even passed a law after this criminalizing body thefts. Why would they care if this happened? Because the missing body of Jesus caused them quite a bit of trouble.

Third potential cause: Hallucination

Many skeptics claim that the disciples hallucinated that Jesus had risen. They were so convinced that Jesus would rise that they tricked themselves into thinking this happened. Again, we have problems. Hallucinations occur to individuals, not groups of people. Jesus appeared to multiple people at multiple locations, on multiple occasions. 1 Corinthians 15 records that Jesus appeared to 500 people at once! Paul basically said, “these witnesses are still alive. Go ask them what happened!” And another problem for skeptics is the empty tomb. Even if they were hallucinating, you still have to explain the empty tomb.

Fourth potential cause: The Disciples lied

Another claim is that the Disciples lied. Why would they lie? What would be their motive? They gained nothing from lying. They were ostracized, beaten, tortured, persecuted and martyred for this claim. They would have been better off lying and saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead! And, again, what about the empty tomb?

Fifth potential cause: Jesus really rose from the dead.

This is the claim that skeptics cannot bring themselves to consider. Jesus really rose from the dead. But if you use the process of elimination, the other causes fail time and time again. Like the Mrs. Jones’ generator, all other potential causes have been eliminated. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead provides the best explanation to the events surrounding His death. This makes the best sense of the empty tomb, the devotion of the Disciples and the multitude of appearances.

The swoon theory, the stolen body theory, the hallucination theory, and the claim that the Disciples lied quickly fail upon careful examination. The process of elimination leaves only the truth that Jesus rose from the dead. Place your faith in Him today.

Marvelous Monotony

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In every thing give thanks:for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thess. 5:18

Life is full of monotony. In other words, our lives are made up of daily routines. And let’s face it: our routines can be pretty boring, and mine is no exception. I get up, use the restroom, get a glass of tea, sit in the recliner, read my Bible and pray, get dressed, make my lunch, leave for work at 7:15, and I arrive at the same time every day. There’s probably a rut forming in my daily path. And guess what? I do the same thing every day.

The evening is usually more of the same with some variety. It’s a little more fun because I get to spend time with my twin baby girls, but it still involves routine and monotony. When they were little, we even alliterated their routine: bath, bottle, bed. They don’t drink a bottle anymore, but we basically do the same thing every weeknight.

Most of life is this way. It’s full of monotony. The mountain tops and the adventures of our life are few and far between. In the meantime, we grind out the routines that make up the majority of life. This can lead to frustration and often depression. We wonder why our lives aren’t more exciting.

Recently, some trials have come into the lives of some of our friends that have refocused my perspective. A dear friend of mine that I’ve known my whole life found out a few weeks ago that his five year old daughter has cancer. They arrived home from a vacation to Disneyworld and she stopped breathing. They called an ambulance and eventually had to airlift her to a children’s hospital. In an instant their world was turned upside down. Now they begin the long road to recovery.

Another friend of my wife’s just died on the interstate. He was hit by a tractor trailer. He left behind four kids and a wife. Their lives were torn apart.

Stories like this bring new appreciation to the routines and methods in life. I am more thankful for bath time with the girls, chores around the house, normal conversations with my wife, and sweet tea in the mornings. A boring life is a blessed life. We are to be thankful to God in all circumstances, but it’s in the every day monotony of life that we should say extra thanks.

I am thankful for healthy daughters, a roof over my head, a job that I go to every day, and the freedom to worship. I am thankful for monotony.

Good times come and go and trials will visit us, but for this moment, let us bask in the boring. Let us be thankful for the dry deserts. Let’s cherish the comfortable.