We have seen that God has a very good reason to allow pain and suffering in the world—its possibility was the only way he could create us with true freedom and all that goes with it. But what about hurricanes, earthquakes, and diseases? Can God not limit these and still preserve human freedom? He can, but it seem there may be other morally sufficient reasons for him to permit these evils. I’ll offer an argument to this conclusion in the next few posts.
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
It remains to apply the reasoning of the morality of abortion to three other reproductive technologies: embryonic stem cell research, genetic testing, and human cloning. Are there ever morally appropriate uses of these technologies? I believe so in one case, and not in the other two cases. Let me explain why.
In vitro fertilization, embryonic stem research, genetic testing and human cloning are moral issues of our day closely related to the abortion debate. The underlying issues discussed in this series concerning the morality of abortion also apply to these important topics. Whether one takes and essentialist or functionalist view of personhood will also determine the morality of these practices and procedures.
The alternative to life beginning at conception due to a human soul being present is a “functional” definition of personhood. This is the view underlying all pro-choice arguments. If this definition of life is correct, the pro-choice conclusion is completely reasonable. Yet there are at least five problems with the functionalist definition of personhood.
Many object to my conclusion that life begins at conception. The central objection is that we can’t observe a soul, to know when it begins. However, we can observe when certain life-sustaining functions begin. Therefore only when the fetus functions in these ways can we say it is alive. Yet this is well past the point of conception. So life must not begin at conception.
There are at least three responses to this objection.
The first step in determining the morality of abortion is determining what the fetus is. Is it a part of the mother’s body, or is it a distinct human being? To answer this we first must answer two logically prior questions: (1) what is it to be a human person? and (2) when does a human person begin? I’ll tackle these questions in the next few weeks.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” Bob asked me this during a recent flight to San Francisco. He is a bright executive and a Tibetan Buddhist. Over the next two hours, we discussed five reasons I believe God is personal. Last week I unpacked the first reason, from the fact that the universe began. The second reason I shared was that the design we see in the world is best explained as the work of a creative Person.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” I was sitting next to a very bright executive on a recent flight to the West Coast, and “Bob” asked me what I did. When I said I serve with a Christian ministry, this was his question. He no longer believed God was a person, but more of a force. He is one of more and more Westerners who are embracing this view, known as “pantheism.” This underlies all Eastern religions, such as Buddhism (Bob later identified himself as Tibetan Buddhist), which has become especially popular among progressives, youth in search of answers, and Hollywood.
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
In my last post, I offered the first reason why, especially during this Christmas season, it is important to remember Jesus is fully human. In this article I suggest a second—to not do so means we minimize the worth of God’s creation (including ourselves). The incarnation is a constant reminder that God, more than anyone, values the physical world just as much as the spiritual world.
Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
Can we hope to find common ground in “the public square” over the critically important social issues of our day? Over the past seven weeks I’ve illustrated how the three different answers to “What are we” determines our answer to this question. But our view of what we are also determines our view of whether abortion and euthanasia are ever justified, whether the gospel makes sense, how Christians best grow in their faith, what constitutes “ministry,” and so much more. Let me explain…
Artists are able to see beauty before it exists, and bring it into being, taking raw materials such as paint, canvas, clay, metal, fabric, notes, words or movement, and producing something of value. I believe this is what Christians are called to do in culture—take what God has created and produce something of value, which leads to human flourishing and the common good. As Ted Turnau puts it, “God commands us to develop his creation. It makes sense, then, that the Bible begins with a garden and ends with a city.” (Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective, p. 54)
What is the essence of Christianity? How does being a follower of Christ relate to thinking, to work and to life? Why is this the title of your blog and the topics you address? These are questions I am often asked. So I decided to add a “Definitions” page to my website and offer my answers to these questions.
In my last post, I shared the first reason why it is important to remember Jesus is fully human this Christmas season. The second reason is that we devalue the worth of God’s creation (including ourselves) if we forget his humanity. The incarnation is a constant reminder that God, more than anyone, values the physical world just as much as the spiritual world.