Friday, November 18, 2011

Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch11

Today we continue with chapter eleven of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 11 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] - Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 11 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Eleven: Cosmological Arguments
(pages 207-239)

Cosmological arguments make a case for a cause of the universe, answering the foundational philosophical question of why is there something rather than nothing? Groothuis begins by answering objections to cosmological arguments in general, then goes on to explain the principle of sufficient reason, which is at the core of the cosmological argument.

The cosmological argument the author focuses on is the kalam cosmological argument. Groothuis first unpacks the philosophical justification for its premises, then switches gears to look at the scientific data from big bang cosmology which supports the premise that the universe began to exist. There is a brief historical overview of contemporary cosmology, followed by answers to some Christian objections to the use of the big bang. Finally, the author discusses the implications of the cosmological argument for other worldviews, while noting the limits of the argument.

Notable quotes:
If everything in the universe can be explained in terms of other things in the universe, this leaves the universe as a whole unexplained. But God explains the existence of the entire universe. God himself, however, requires no explanation outside of himself, since he is an eternal and self-existent being. (Christian Apologetics, p. 211) 
"Nothing" lacks all causal power, because it has no properties at all. It is a linguistic device to indicate the utter lack of any essence, properties, qualities or attributes. Nothing is no thing. There are no causal powers at work here(Christian Apologetics, p. 215)
If the actual infinite does not exist or cannot be traversed, this means that the series of linear events in the universe must be finite.42 If the series is finite, it must have a beginning. If it has a beginning, the cause of the series must be outside of the universe(Christian Apologetics, p. 219)  
  1. What is the difference between an actual infinite and a potential infinite?
  2. How do you make a case for a personal cause of the universe?
  3. What are some possible practical weaknesses to the use of the cosmological argument?
Next week
Chapter Twelve: The Design Argument


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