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Monday, December 7, 2015

How to Respond to McAfee's Disproving Christianity Flyer


Well it looks like he is still at it. My “favorite” atheistic fundamentalist is sharpening his axe with his newest “publication” - a 4 page pamphlet that he sees as a useful tool for counter-evangelism of the door to door variety. So when a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon come to you door, why not hand them this handy dandy brochure?

Well if you’re a fundamentalist not interested in reasonable and rational engagement with views that differ from you, then why not? McAfee has shown no sign that he has even engaged with a single critic and altered his content or views (in fact the way he still peddles his books despite being thoroughly panned by critics of both opposing and "friendly" worldviews to his own, is evidence that he has not), and refuses to participate in public debate - either a formal debate or even as a recorded dialogue for podcasts or Google Hangouts. However, for those of us who enjoy actively engaging the gray matter in between our ears who do not want to simply parrot absurdities, his strategy for handling people of opposing viewpoints may not be the best for several reasons.

Firstly, we should be able to engage with the ideas presented to us as presented by the person in front of us. This means that if I have a Mormon come to my door, I do not have a cookie cutter pamphlet that I give out to all people who I disagree with. Rather, I should dialogue with them to discover what arguments and propositions they are specifically presenting and go from there.

Second, and most crucial however, is that the McAfee specifically bills theses as “Biblical contradictions and arguments against Christianity” on his Facebook page.  In fact, the flyer begins with the statement, “This brief flyer contains contradictions in Abrahamic holy texts, as well as popular and lesser-known arguments against the principles of Christianity.” This should set off some major rational red flags for anyone who has actually cracked a single scholarly book on issues related to Christianity. Here  I will go over some of the problems with this statement as well as the “arguments” presented in the brochure.

Next, I mentioned in my review of McAfee’s book Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings that sometimes it is hard to hard to explain why certain comments are so strange to people who are not familiar with the academic literature on a given topic or within a specific discipline. This is because that with study comes a kind of “inside speak” and familiarity with the technical jargon which marks one as well versed and familiar with the literature. However this also means that one can tell when a person is not well versed in the subject not just by what they say but even how they phrase it. Anyone reading this with an academic specialty in some subject will surely know what I mean when I say that even the manner in which a person addresses an issue is an indication of their depth of understanding and interaction with the experts on that subject. This is yet another prime example from McAfee. To call them “Abrahamic holy texts” is simply bizarre and makes the well read reader instantly skeptical that McAfee’s depth of understanding on the topics. While we know what he means, his simple confusion of what we historically (though inaccurately) call the Abrahamic faiths with the holy texts related to those faiths is telling of the level of understanding that we will encounter in this brochure.

Finally, McAfee states that these are contradictions in the Bible and “popular and lesser-known argument against the principles of Christianity.” This is again is highly problematic for McAfee. The vast majority of these are “lesser known” precisely because they are absolutely feeble. In fact, the real startling ironic fact about this list is that from all of the passages of the Bible and issues in theology, these are the arguments that McAfee appears to think are so robust and so unassailable that they deserve a special merit of being in a brochure meant to disabuse the average door to door missionary of their trust in God. That means that these are McAfee’s A-Listers. It reminds us again: if McAfee had better arguments he would use them.

Now let us turn our attention to the actual arguments that McAfee puts forward in the brochure and see if they hold water or if they are simply one bottomless bucket after another, that when strung together hold no more water than the one before.

The Problem of Natural Evil 

McAfee’s first argument is an attempt at a kind of argument from natural evil. He writes,

1. We have established that the religion of Christianity presupposes an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent God and Creator.
2. If a Creator knew all, saw all, controlled all, and loved all, said Creator would not allow innocent men, women, and children (especially those who are too young to have sinned) to die by natural disasters or disease.
3. Because we know that innocent men, women, and infants, Christians and non-Christians alike, do indeed die by acts of God on a daily basis, we know that an all-loving and all-powerful God must not exist.
4. Therefore, Christianity, which proposes the idea of such a Creator, must not be an accurate representation of true events.

So the question is then, is his version of the argument a logically valid one (does the conclusion follow logically from the premises)? And is it a logically sound argument (is the conclusion true and logically follow from true premises)? I am tempted to spend the time to show why the logic is not valid to begin with, that is, that the argument as McAfee presents it is actually a non squitor, but the rub lies in the fact that it is not sound so we will focus on that instead. Even if we assume that the logical form of the syllogism is valid, we have good reason to think that one or more of the premises are false.

Let us even grant premise 1 even though I actually think that all worldviews presuppose the existence of God in order to provide an adequate basis for laws of logic by which they even evaluate other worldviews. The problem then begins in the premise 2. How does McAfee know that such a Creator would not allow innocent men, women, and children no matter their age, to die by natural disasters or disease? My first gut reaction is to point out the very strange position of an atheist who does not believe in God in the first place asserting what a God would and would not do. It would be like me saying what the Queen of England would do even though I do not know the first thing about her personal character. However, beyond this all that McAfee has done is to commit himself to sheer assertion. He has no evidence for that claim and I see no way that he could prove it to be true. In fact, as I have stated above, if God actually is omniscient then he would surely know more of the factors involved in every moment of creation and might very well have access to information that we simply do not have that would potentially give him morally sufficient reasons to allow said disasters to occur. In fact we have a mountain of analogous scenarios for this even in our finite sphere as humans. How many times have we felt indignant about the outcome of some event and then upon discovering more information found out that the event really made much more sense? When we judge the President’s actions do we think that we would do anything different if we had all the information that he had? It is unlikely or at best, unclear. How much more so would an omniscient being have access to more information than we would that would possibly make allowing certain disasters morally permissible? In fact, there is an even larger problem of unknown counterfactuals: How do we know that any alternative world would not result in even worse outcomes?

What is important about this response is that the Christian does not need to show what that information or morally sufficient reasons must be that would cause God to allow disasters to occur. They must only show that it is possible for God to have such morally sufficient reasons to defeat premise 2 that a being like God definitely would not allow such events to occur. It is possible, given morally sufficient reasons unknown to us at the time, that God would allow suffering to occur and therefore the conclusion does not follow deductively from the premises.

Another problem with premise 2 is that McAfee assumes that all people who die, or at least some people who die in natural disasters are “innocent.” Rather than rehashing the discussions about the sinfulness of humanity which you can find in the book review of the book, I would like to offer a novel response here. This argument by McAfee is not only a non sequitur and demonstrably unsound, but it is also a strawman objection. The reason that this is a strawman is that it only objects to a lesser concept of the Biblical God than what Christians believe in order to reject it. In order to object to a position, you must object to the position as it is held by its proponents. The concept of God and man that is held by Biblical Christians is that God is holy and righteous and just as well as omniscient and that humanity en masse is not innocent and that each of us deserve judgment for our individual sins, such that it is even by the general/common grace of God that we even exist at any given moment. The Bible teaches that God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. If McAfee is willing to allow a God that is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent but ignores the rest of the attributes that the Bible uses to describe God and his creation, such as the holiness of God in contrast to the fallen nature of humanity, then he is dealing with a lesser conception of the relationship of God and man than what the Bible presents and that Christians actually believe. That is, by definition, a strawman. In order for McAfee to show that the Christian conception of God and man is false (as he concludes in premise 4), he must engage with what the actual Christian conception is. Premise 2 is an obvious avoidance of that very thing. Thus his argument is not only invalid in its construct and unsound due to a fallacious second premise, but it also commits a strawman fallacy. McAfee may think that this objection is a haymaker but it really is just grasping at straws.

The Loved Ones Argument

McAfee writes,

1. Heaven, as described by the Christian tradition, is eternal happiness in communion with God. 
2. It’s possible that, because of nothing more than a difference in beliefs, two people whose ideal “heaven” included one another could be separated in the afterlife and one could be sent to “heaven” without his or her significant other. 
3. The Christian in heaven could not be happy without his or her loved one, thus causing heaven to become a place of everlasting pain and sadness. 
4. Because heaven is described as eternal happiness, this creates a contradiction in which the concept of a Christian heaven fails to be viable. 
5. Therefore Christianity, which ensures eternal bliss in heaven postmortem, cannot be the true word of an all knowing and loving God.

This “argument” again suffers from numerous problems. McAfee states that there is a contradiction in the notion of heaven and the reality of true love thus it is true love that he thinks is the wedge that will break up Christianity and its doctrine of heaven. He basically states that the belief in true love, that one could not be happy without the other person, runs contrary to the doctrine of heaven in many cases. We can think of a husband and wife who are blissfully in love but where one is a Christian and one is not. If heaven is the everlasting life lived in pure happiness then how can the spouse in heaven be truly happy while their partner is languishing in hell?

One of the many problems with this objection, as we will see, is that it is like much of McAfee’s “work” on religion which overly simplistic and riddled with unchecked, uncritical, and unfounded assumptions not only about what the Bible and Christianity teach about God, humanity, love, and heaven, but also about what true love is or should be. McAfee again seems to nowhere assume that there may even be flaws in his own presuppositions nor does he interact with the numerous possible objections that could be made by Christians – such as what would make a person truly happy in heaven though McAfee, I assume, has never been there.

To be honest, I know that the response that I give will, I admit, fall on deaf ears with McAfee’s teeming fans, but since McAfee is objecting to what are known as “internal inconsistencies” that in order to refute them, I do not need to prove Christianity true on these points but rather only that it is not logically inconsistent in the way that McAfee says that it is. While some of us may not like the answer given, it still makes this objection provably false as a disproof via some supposed internal contradiction within Christianity. Even if McAfee and others may not like what Christianity teaches he still cannot say that his distaste for it is the same as it being logically inconsistent.

Firstly, the Bible does not teach what even most modern Christians seem to think that it does – that humans will live for eternity “in heaven” or that in heaven we will be 100% happy or live in some euphoric ecstatic state for all of eternity. In fact the Bible teaches that heaven is only an intermediate stage between now and the resurrection, and  that after the resurrection God will redeem not only humanity but also all of creation itself such that humanity will live on a redeemed Earth in the way that Adam and Eve were meant to from the beginning. It does not say that we will be euphoric but rather that we will live at peace in the presence of God with complete sinless innocence and shalom.

To go further, I think a demonstration that R.C. Sproul used to give in his graduate classes will be helpful in our understanding regarding this point. Sproul would select one student to play Jesus, another student to represent Hitler and then a third student to represent the Apostle Paul.(1)  He would then ask, “Where on this continuum between Hitler and Jesus, do we put the Apostle Paul?” The students would often put Paul closer to Jesus than Hitler, but they are in fact incorrect. He is closer, infinitely closer in fact, to Hitler. Even Paul, by his own admission, says that his best, most righteous works are like filthy menstrual rags. Paul called himself the “chief” of sinners and an apostle as one “untimely born.” So Sproul would then point out that there is in fact a chasm that is impossible to bridge from our end between both Hitler and Paul at one end and Jesus on the other. The gulf between the two banks is so immense that the separation between Hitler and Paul is negligible at best when compared to their distance from the holiness of God. What does this mean? While it might sound extremely harsh(2) the point is well put by John Gerstner’s own comment to Sproul during his graduate days under Sproul’s instruction - that we will be able to look at our own loved ones in hell and rejoice in the real justice of God. Does this mean we will be glad for the fact that people are in eternal separation from us and God? Absolutely not. The Bible teaches that human sin grieves God (Ephesians 4:30), so why should we think that believers will not also grieve the sinfulness and condemnation of their loved ones when it grieves God himself? But it does mean that we will no longer look on our fellow sinful humanity as if they are “morally innocent” and undeserving of God’s righteous justice. We will see God’s actions for what they are - just and right. Therefore, basically the true love objection can be responded to in the same way that Jesus did – who will you love more? When McAfee says that the husband can only be truly happy if his wife were to join him in heaven, he misses that his assumption is completely oblivious to the fact that a person in heaven is truly happy because they are in the presence of a perfect, holy, and glorious God and not because of who else is or is not there. Again, one might not like the answer, but the point is that the objection no longer reveals a necessary internal contradiction.(3)

Can Man See God?

Here McAfee does not even argue anything or present statements for critical review. He seems to think that just proof texting passages will do all of the heavy lifting for him. This is largely due to his tremendously problematic hyper-literal hermeneutic(4) where he seems to think that woodenly literally and flat readings of the KJV English text are the only, or at least the best possible interpretations. He gives the following verses:

John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” 

Genesis 32:30: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 

Exodus 33:23: “And I [God] will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

This objection is based on the concept of vision and seeks to show that where the Bible says that “No one has ever seen God…” (John 1:18) that it contradicts itself by showing that some people have in fact seen God – such as Jacob at Peniel (which actually does mean “I have seen God”) and when God passed by Moses on the cliff in Exodus 33:23. Here McAfee again makes hard and fast woodenly literal uses of words and allows for no nuances or varied meanings. Set in its context, John is referring to the total lack of any human on earth standing in the presence of God sitting on the throne and then coming back to tell about it – his point was that only Jesus has ever done that very thing by the resurrection. So what do we make of these visions of God elsewhere that McAfee mentions? In Revelation, even John himself sees God seated on the throne of heaven and writes a whole book about it. So has McAfee hit a homerun on this objection? Not quite.

What is quite obvious is that such experiences are manifestations of God – for an omnipresent and spiritual being cannot really be fully seen here on earth. In fact we use the word “see” in precisely the same way all the time in English. We can say, “I see what you mean.” But do we actually see with your eyes the meaning of the invisible words? We can say “I see President Obama,” when watching television. But do I actually see President Obama or just a manifestation of him on my television screen? Or we say “I see what I need to do now.” But do we actually mean that we have become psychic and can visually see what we will do in the following days? And even then not just a vision of it but the actual events of the future?

We in fact see (pun intended) this in the very passages given about Jacob and Moses. Does Jacob see the omnipresent God as God? No. What he does see is the manifestation of God as a man(5) with whom he wrestles and loses. And what about Moses? In the context, if McAfee had taken the time to actually read the surrounding contexts, God expressly tells Moses that he cannot see God (specifically his face, which in the Hebrew world often meant something akin to “personal presence”) and that Moses must hide in the cliffs and once a manifestation of God’s glory (not even God himself) has passed by, Moses will be allowed to peer out and the see the dissipating shadow of the passing glory of the manifestation of God. The passage itself makes it abundantly clear through this triple level of distancing that Moses did not see God at all. Thus even the selections cited by McAfee militate against his own argument.

Does Jesus Bring Peace?

Once again McAfee seems to think that simply referencing passage will do all of the work for him and once again this problematic strategy will let him down. He cites two verses:

Matthew 10:33-34: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” 

John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

For this objection McAfee again seems to think that all language is created grammatically equal. He does not actually even pit these two verses together as a direct contradiction, but rather the concept of non-violence contained in one and Jesus’ statement that he would bring the sword in the other. However, several things can be said about this “dilemma.”

First is that a massive misconception here is obvious from the fact that McAfee seems to insinuate that Jesus was advocating the expansion of his kingdom by the clash of the sword when in fact we observe the exact opposite with Jesus being arrested and strictly forbidding his disciples from using a sword. He even performs a miracle to undo what Peter’s sword had done. So to say that Jesus was advocating such a position of evangelism by violence is sheer nonsense.

Second, and more to the point, is that McAfee again has shown that he can be quite heavy handed in his treatment of Biblical passages – often ignoring the very passage in which a verse is found and forcing an extremely wooden literalism that we never really find in any language outside of a calculator manual. Matthew 10 as a whole passage serves as a warning and exhortation to the disciples that God will care for them even during times of immense persecution and that the disciples should not take up arms but rather should trust in God,  welcome people into their homes, and give cold water to the thirsty. They should not be surprised when the gospel disrupts families and households and they end up on the receiving end of persecution. Some in the house will believe, some will not believe, but a true disciple of Jesus will learn to trust in God and love God more than his family.(6) That McAfee seems unwilling or unable to realize that while not all Scripture can be reduced to symbolism, there are many cases where idioms and rhetorical devices are used. This seems to be an obvious case. When a preacher of non-violence uses the image of a sword, it is a good bet to assume that a literal sword and a call to violence is not meant. This position is supported by the fact that the Bible itself is commonly referred to as the “sword” of truth or the “sword of the Spirit,” (Galatians 6:17). The reality that the Bible is called a “sword” should tell us that the Bible is to be the only “weapon” for Christians instead of actual swords. What’s more, the warfare language of the spiritual disciplines is so interesting precisely because of the minimizing effect that it has in mind of real blood shedding warfare. Is it any surprise that in John’s Revelation that when Jesus is seen coming as the conquering king in Revelation 19, he does not come bearing a sword but that the sword protrudes from Jesus mouth – a clear symbol of his words. This would be a strange picture indeed if we did not understand that Jesus conquers the world through his words rather than through swords and armies.

Is God All Powerful?

Just as before McAfee seems to think that a simple citation of the verses listed below will suffice to prove some kind of contradiction.

Revelation 19:6: “Alleluia: For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (In the Lord, anything is possible.) 

Judges 1:19: “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” (The Lord was unable to assist Judah in defeating the people of the valley because of iron chariots.)

For this objection McAfee tackles the common problem of God’s omnipotence – that is, is God all powerful? He makes two arguments against the proposition that God is the Almighty. Here he seems to want us to ask the question, “If God is all powerful, why could he not cause his people to prevail?” As usual, the answer is actually found in the context of the passage itself which McAfee would have realized had he done any critical engagement with the text in its broader context. In Judges we find that right at the outset of the conquest of the Promised Land, Israel had already defaulted on her end of the covenant with God. Israel had failed to worship God alone, and had failed to drive out the inhabitants of previous regions – but rather let them stay and establish their own settlements just outside of town. So when we reach 1:19 about the conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah (the section McAfee pulls his citation from), we read that they have already abandoned God and thus were on their own for the conquest. In fact some scholars point out that the passage need not be translated that they “could not drive out the inhabitants” but rather that they “would not drive out the inhabitants.” That is, that it was not the strength of the iron chariots that subdued the Israelites, but it was the glitter of the appeal of the iron chariots – they were seduced by the wealth and engineering of the chariots and therefore abandoned God for material gain. In fact in the beginning of the very next chapter, we find the Biblical author’s own answer to McAfee’s question which makes one wonder if he read the whole narrative or if he just read some anti-theistic blog where this “contradiction” was cited without context and he chose to blindly parrot it? Immediately following this passage, we find in Judges 2:1-3 God saying the following to Israel in direct reference to why they failed to win the land:

"I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you." (ESV)

The author of Judges himself said in effect, not that God could not help them, but that he would not help them because of their sin. Quite the interesting statement since this is precisely what we say about the Israelites ability to remove the Canaanites repeatedly during Joshua, Judges and the following lives of the kings – not that they could not but that they would not. God basically said in response, “I will give you what you want.” It is God, rather than man, who ultimately says, “Not mine, but thy will be done.” This shows that no such contradiction between these verses exists since the whole point of the passages is not that God was trying to do something but he couldn’t, but rather than Israel would not act in obedience and broke her end of the covenant and so God was not obliged to grant them success.

Prayer Versus Free-Will

McAfee writes,

"Free will refers to the God-given ability for human beings to make decisions and act without interference, whether their actions are good or bad. This is contrary to determinism, which is the belief that there is a predetermined set of events that God has already planned; this means that all of our “choices” were planned and set before we were even born, releasing all culpability from the person. If a Christian chooses to pray to their God expecting benefit for themselves or others, not only does it contradict free will, but the practice begins to bear a striking resemblance to the spirit conjurations of witchcraft as those who pray hope to shape and influence their perceived God’s actions in a real and meaningful way."

Due to the fact that this objection is essentially asking the question concerning the relationship between predestination and free will in general, and Divine sovereignty and Human responsibility in particular, to adequately answer this objection I would need more space and time than I have already committed to writing or that you would probably would consign to reading it. So rather than give a concrete answer (since doing so would be quite lengthy indeed) let me give two brief procedural thoughts on why such an objection, as formed by McAfee, is entirely inadequate.(7)

First I would like to point out that this is not merely a problem for Christianity. This is actually a problem for all worldviews but McAfee has attempted to skate in through the backdoor of this already convoluted problem and apply it to Christianity as if this were only a problem for the Christian. Yet when we think of the work done by philosophers, ethicists, and scientists on something like philosophical, biological or chemical predestination,(8)  in which some materialists say that our emotions, thoughts, wills, etc. are all necessarily determined from the direction taken by the very first chemical reaction that ever occurred in the universe, we can see that applying this as if it is a problem just for Christians may be a bit overstated. So let us be aware that this objection may ask you to swallow a gnat but you really must choke down a camel.

Second, because of the nature of any discussion about sovereignty and free-will will be highly complex (there are more than a handful of different conceptions of both predestination, divine sovereignty and human free-will, let alone how they interact with each other) I am inclined to think that any objection so simply stated and so flatly assumed, will be guaranteed to err in some manner simply by its reductionism and over simplification. To show that McAfee’s objection is entirely inadequate, we can just think of the differences between views of Arminianism, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, Moderate Calvinism, Molinism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and others on predestination; not to mention their various views on Libertarian free-will, Soft-Compatibalistic free will, Hard Compatibalistic-free will, the freedom of the will, the bondage of the will, fideism, and everything in between. In fact, it would need to be debated at length that Christianity and the Bible even affirm the kind of free-will assumed in this objection for it to even matter, let alone that McAfee’s own worldview doesn’t commit itself to determinism or has a viable basis for human freedom. Can McAfee actually think that absolutely no possible answer has been given to the tension between sovereignty and freewill or that this is somehow the knock down case that he apparently believes it to be? Again, this can only be due to an utter lack of research or understanding or, likely, both.

Other Quotes

McAfee ends his brochure with several other quotes of himself from his book. I will not take the time to respond to them here but will give reference to the pages in the book review that directly repudiate these claims as viable criticisms of Christianity.

"The act of exclusion of some biblical aspects and acceptance of others demonstrates that the words of The Holy Bible are not time transcendent and, as humanity evolves, our morals and principles evolve with us." 

See pages 15-23 for a treatment on the position that morality is purely the result of human evolution.

"In order to believe in something, it is my assertion that first one must properly understand it; in the case of Christianity, this consists of a strong knowledge of Christian history, modern teachings, and biblical lessons in context—which many modern Christians lack."

See page 77 for a response to the irony of McAfee exhorting people to “properly understand” Christianity and the Bible where he so clearly does not and makes no reasonable attempt to do so.

"I often ask Christians who received their religious ideologies from family whether or not they acknowledge the statistical assumption that if they had been born in, say, India—to Indian parents—for example, they would probably be affiliated with a denomination of Hinduism instead of the Christian tradition which they now consider to be the absolute Truth, though they would likely hold these religious beliefs with equal or rivaled fervor."

See pages 8-15 about the problematic argument about geographically and familial factors in religious belief and their employment of the genetic fallacy.
_________________________________________________________
1. Here it is important to note that Sproul believes that Paul was, apart from Jesus, likely the most holy man to have ever walked the earth.
2. Which I think most atheists should actually appreciate since a common apologetic for atheism is that it is, if anything else, brutally honest about the harshness of life in a meaningless universe. Should they not also appreciate the backbone that it takes to say the brutally honest truth about the fact that when we are with God we will understand just how unrighteous humanity actually is, even those who were most dear to us? Does this make me happy? Absolutely not. In fact it is for this very reason that Christians what to share the gospel with others.
3. It should also be pointed out that there is even quite a bit of controversy over if people will even know spouses, children, siblings, parents, etc. in heaven or on the new earth such that this may not even be a real problem for Christian theology to begin with.
4. For more on this, please again refer to the book review, pp 6-8. 
5. Many believe this to be what is called a Christophany (also called a Uiophany for the Greek word υἱὸς meaning ‘son’) where the pre-incarnate Christ as the second person of the Trinity appears in the Old Testament.
6. This view is regularly mocked by anti-theists. They see a kind of irony in Christians being so “pro-family” but also saying we should love God more than our families. The point is not that we should love our families less but rather that we should keep God as the highest priority. It is a belief about the importance of God, not the unimportance of families.
7. Since my comments will be procedural rather than specific, here are some resources that one might want to read for more in depth answers. D. Basinger and R. Basinger (eds.) Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. (1985). John Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil. (2004). Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will. (1525). Jonathan Edwards, (1754). Norman Geisler, Chosen by Free. (2001). R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God. (1994). Thomas Flint, Divine Providence: A Molinist Account. (2006). Bruce Ware, God’s Greater Glory. (2004). We can even anticipate the release from the Counterpoints series put out by Zondervan: Stanley Gundry (ed.) Divine Providence.(2011).
8. I am thinking specifically of preeminent biophysicist Dean H. Kenyon’s book Biochemical Predestination (1969) which he co-authored with Gay Steinman (before Kenyon changed his mind by reading an A.E. Wright book entitled The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution (1981), which was way ahead of the game on information theory in microbiology, and Kenyon subsequently became a proponent of Intelligent Design) or of C. De Duve in this 1995 book Vital Dust; or even Eric T. Olson’s book The Human Animal: Personal Identity without Psychology (1999).


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