Sunday, May 25, 2008

J.P. Moreland Interview, Part 2

RV. In the book you co-edited with Francis Beckwith and William Lane Craig, To Everyone An Answer, you wrote the introduction to the section on "Philosophical and Cultural Challenges to Christian Faith." What are some of these challenges?

JPM. This book may be the best work in apologetics to come out in a long time. That is not bragging, it's a commentary on the excellent work of our contributors. We address problems of legislating morality; law, intelligent design and evolution in the public schools; postmodernism; pluralism; relativism and much, much more.

RV. Could you explain your academic background in science and also share in general terms how Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview addresses the question of philosophy of science in relation to Christianity?

JPM. I have a BS in chemistry from the University of Missouri and I was accepted to do Ph.D. work in nuclear chemistry at the University of Colorado, which I turned down to go into the ministry. In our book, we explain limits of science and refute scientism (science is the only or best source of knowledge we have), we explain how to integrate science with theology, we defend intelligent design against methodological naturalism, and we give a very careful description of the realist/anti-realist debate and its impact on integration and of scientific methodology which is at the heart of current debates regarding science and religion.

RV. Philosophical Foundations includes a section on ethics. What would you consider are some of the greatest contemporary ethical challenges to Christianity? What are some things Christians are doing positively and negatively to meet these ethical challenges?

JPM. By limiting knowledge to the hard sciences and circumscribing knowledge within the bounds of sensation, our culture no longer accepts the reality of non-empirical knowledge, including religious and moral knowledge. So we are going to have to continue to make spirited defenses of such knowledge, refute relativism and privatized morality, and give direction to the shape of moral knowledge (it will be deontological and virtue oriented). The church is doing a good job of providing good pro-life arguments, but we are in need of doing more work on church/state relations. Evangelicals are too afraid of politics.

RV. What can Christian apologists do at the local church level to communicate clearly the need for the development of the Christian intellect?

JPM. If you want people to bleed, you have to hemorrhage. You have to be excited and committed yourself and not get discouraged if you start small. Begin with a small band of others who love apologetics and start to do work. Write letters to the editor, get on talk radio, start offering short studies (4 weeks) on different topics (evolution, abortion, the existence of God, etc.) that requires low commitment so you can hook people and get them interested. Develop handouts for teens, handouts for adults on select topics that can be given out to the entire congregation and which are accessible to folks that don't read a lot to serve them. I suggest other things in Love Your God With All Your Mind.

RV. If you could give brief advice to lay apologists eager to defend their faith against contemporary challenges, what would that advice be?

JPM. Don't go it alone. Always have at least one or a few others so you can keep each other motivated and be accountable to continue reading. Take risks that are not too frightening for you (otherwise you fail to be kind to yourself) or are not too easy (otherwise you will not grow). And continue to focus on your tenderness of heart towards Jesus and others.

1 comment:

John W. Loftus said...

As a former believer and student of Dr. Craig's, I highly recommend Philosophical Foundations as well. There is a great deal of informative material to be found there. But the reason I no longer believe is because of Biblical scholarship. Philosophy takes for granted a position and tries to justify it beginning with a set of assumptions. But when we ask whether the Bible leads us to these assumptions in the first place, I don't think it does. If Craig and Moreland really want to defend the Christian faith then may I humbly suggest that their next book takes on the findings of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Cheers.