All are welcome to the 3 evening sessions at NMU:
New Science Building Auditorium, South Campus, Building 127
Below are the dates, topics and more information on the speakers:
Monday 06 August
Dr Richard Howe
“Answering the apostles of popular atheism including Richard Dawkins”
Tuesday 07th August
Adv Andrew Duminy
“Making land reform work – critical issues & hidden agendas”
Wednesday 8th August
Dr John Stewart
“Sexuality, Ethics & Justice – who decides “good” and “evil”?”
Speaker Information: Dr. Richard Howe
Richard G. Howe is a writer as well as a public speaker and debater in churches, conferences, and university campuses on issues concerning Christian apologetics and philosophy. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina where he still teaches part-time. Dr. Howe is Past President of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.
Dr. Howe has a BA in Bible from Mississippi College, an MA in Philosophy from the University of Mississippi, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Arkansas. Both his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation focused on the issue of the existence of God. His master’s theses is titled “An Analysis of William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument” in which Dr. Howe defended the argument against objections that had come out against the argument subsequent to the publishing of Dr. Craig’s important book on the subject. Dr. Howe’s doctoral dissertation is titled “A Defense of Thomas Aquinas’s Second Way” in which he defended Aquinas’s efficient causality argument for the existence of God against criticisms of theistic arguments in general, against criticisms of causal theistic arguments more narrowly, and against specific criticisms to Aquinas’s version of the efficient causality argument for God’s existence—the second of Aquinas’s famous “Five Ways.”
Dr. Howe is co-author with Dr. Norman L. Geisler of The Religion of the Force and is a contributor to several books including I Am Put Here for the Defense of the Gospel: Dr. Norman L. Geisler: A Festschrift in His Honor, The Jesus Quest: The Danger from Within, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Reasons for Faith: Making a Case for the Christian Faith, and To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview. He has had articles published in the Christian Apologetics Journal, the Areopgaus Journal, the Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, and the Christian Research Journal. He has spoken and/or debated in churches and universities in the US and Canada as well as Europe and Africa on issues relating to the defense of the Christian faith. In their free time, Richard and his wife Rebekah enjoy international travel.
Defending the Faith
A thorough presentation of the evidence for the Christian Faith. This study treats the nature and task of apologetics, philosophical foundations, the existence of God, the historical evidence of the origin, transmission, integrity, and reliability of the Bible, and what it has to say about who Jesus is and what He taught about Scripture. The presentation can be conducted as a multi-part series, or any particular part can be presented as a unit in a one-time situation. The contents are: The Existence of God.
A treatment of the standard arguments for God’s existence: The cosmological argument
Contemporary version: God is the efficient cause of the “coming-into-existence” of the universe.
Thomistic version: God is the efficient cause of the “current existing” of the universe.
The teleological argument
Contemporary version: God is the efficient cause of the design, fine tuning, information, and irreducible complexity of the universe.
Thomistic version: God is the final cause of the universe.
The moral argument
Contemporary version: God is the ground for the objectivity of moral goodness.
Thomistic version: ‘Good’ and ‘being’ are convertible and God is ipsum esse subsistens (subsistent existence itself). Attention is paid to the important distinctions to be drawn between the Thomistic versions of these arguments (predicated upon the classical categories of Aristotle and Aquinas) and the contemporary versions employing current scientific (albeit inadequate) views about the mechanistic nature of material reality and the degree to which human experience can be reduced to material processes. Even granting these current views, a strong argument can be made that God is the best, if not the only, explanation for many truths that even secular scientists grant about the universe.
Answering the Apostles of the New Atheism: An analysis of the “new atheism” of Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith; Letter to a Christian Nation), Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything), and Daniel Dennett (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea; Breaking the Spell) and others. We examine what exactly is “new” about the new atheism and then answer specific arguments they set forth in defending their view that God does not exist.
Answering the Arguments of Popular Atheism:
An analysis of the phenomena of “t-shirt” or “bumper sticker” atheism (clever one-liners or popular myths) along three categories (1) Rhetorical Arguments (e.g., “Atheism is merely a lack of a belief in God”); (2) Scientific Arguments (e.g., “Christianity has always stood against the advances of science.”); and (3) Philosophical Argument (e.g., “If God created the universe, who created God?”)
A definition of relativism in contrast to skepticism and pluralism. Includes a critique of: Relativism and Truth (ways in which some truths are subjective and others are objective); Relativism and Knowledge (contrasting the Classical understanding of knowledge with Modernism and Postmodernism); Relativism and Ethics (show how moral goodness is grounded proximately in human nature and ultimately in God); Relativism and History (an examination of the historical relativism (“History was written by the winners.” “History is always an interpretation.”); Relativism and Religion (examining the challenges of religious pluralism and the problems with the common “functional” view of religious truth); Relativism and Faith/Reason (contrasting the classical, historical understanding of the relationship of faith and reason in contrast to the views of the New Atheism, other atheists, Neo-orthodoxy; Presuppositionalism, and Postmodern); and Relativism and the Gospel (defending the exclusivity of the Gospel against universalism, inclusivism, and pluralism).
What about Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?
An examination of the problem of the unreached. Various options are surveyed including universalism, pluralism, and inclusivism. The conclusion (exclusivism) maintains that no one goes to heaven without knowingly trusting Jesus as Savior, but tries to show how this works out for those who have never heard the specifics of the Gospel.
Aquinas on Existence and the Essence / Existence Distinction.
An exploration of Aquinas’s argument for God’s existence from his On Being and Essence employing the distinction he draws between a thing’s essence and its existence. The argument show that in the created order this distinction obtains. Thus, there must be something that exists whose very essence is existence itself, which is to say that there must be something for which the existence / existence distinction does not hold. This thing must have all the prefections of existence without limit.
How Theology Needs Philosophy.
A study of the various ways that philosophical topics and categories are utilized in doing theology. Includes a look at the relationship of faith and reason, the laws of logic, answering objections to the use of logic, detecting self-refuting statements, the role of presuppositions, natural law morality, science and religion, how philosophy helps clarify theology in issues such as truth and biblical inerrancy, and more.
On Building a World View.
One hears the expression ‘world view’ quite often in apologetics. What constitutes a world view? Why is the common “rose colored glasses” metaphor misleading when talking about how a world view functions? This talk examines how the Christian’s use of his mind is a matter of stewardship and that stewardship requires us to be deliberate in building our world view such that it informs us about the truths of reality. A world should not merely be chosen, but should be built out of sound reason based upon the nature of reality itself. To that end, we discuss understanding the nature of truth, the nature of religion, the relationship of faith and reason, and the role of classical empiricism as the beginning of knowledge.
This study is a survey of philosophical thinking with particular emphasis on areas relevant to theology, apologetics, and ethics. It is an introduction to philosophy (a systematic approach) with an emphasis on the Classical (Aristotelian/Thomistic) tradition, taking a look at the basics of philosophy in general and then focusing on certain major issues in metaphysics (being), epistemology (knowing), and Ethics (doing).
The Kalam Cosmological Argument.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument is an argument for the existence of God based on the fact that the universe began to exist a finite time ago. Borrowing heavily from the pioneering work of William Lane Craig in his important book by the same title, together with his and other’s contributions to the argument of the date of scientific thinking, the argument shows that since the universe began to exist, and, further, whatever begins to exist must have a cause, that therefore the universe must have had a cause. (top)A Thomistic Argument for the Existence of God. An in-depth philosophical look at Aquinas’s notion of existence as an act, his essence/existence distinction, and how these can work into an argument for God’s existence. (top)Thomistic Responses to Objections to Aquinas’ Second Way. Many of the criticisms of Aquinas’s efficient causality argument for the existence of God (the second of his famous arguments for the existence of God known as the “Five Ways) stem from a misunderstanding (or outright ignoring) of Aquinas’s metaphysics, especially his doctrine of esse (existence), the primacy of esse, and the essence/existence distinction. (For a discussion of these issues, see my “Thomistic Responses to Some Objections to Aquinas’s Second Way” in the Papers section.) (top)Two Notions of the Infinite in Aquinas. Many thinkers have misunderstood Aquinas’s statement, “… and this cannot go on to infinity” found in several of his arguments for God’s existence to mean an infinity back into the distant past. I show that this is a misunderstanding arising from a failure on these thinker’s part to recognize two different notions of the infinite in Aquinas’s thinking and that this was not at all what Aquinas was alleging in his theistic arguments. I show how Aquinas’s arguments for God’s existence is completely indifferent as to whether the universe ever began to exist or has existed from all eternity. (top)God Fading Away. An examination of how the classical attributes of God (e.g., omniscience) are fading away in contemporary evangelicalism and how we can contend for these attributes. (top)Seeing Is Believing? For many today (and especially scientists) “seeing” is believing. By this, they mean that nothing should be believed unless and until it has been confirmed by the latest scientific research. Such an approach to human knowing has been referred to as empiricism, logical positivism, or scientism. A strict application of this view of knowledge (at least in its most extreme forms) invariable leads to the rejection of the viability of religion, morality, logic, and God. This talk examines how such an empiricism is a relatively new arrival on the scene and that the classical version of empiricism is to be preferred. Argument is made that empiricism, properly understood, is the epistemology (theory of knowing) of both the Bible and sound reason. We look at attacks on this way of human knowing from various quarters, including philosophical and spiritual.
The Design Argument:
Aquinas vs. Paley. The design argument for the existence of God has made a serious comeback in contemporary Christian apologetics. God’s existence is argued for from the fine-tuning of the universe, the complex nature of life, and the absence of natural explanations for life’s origin and diversity. These arguments, in many ways, are a resurgence of William Paley’s watch-maker argument. Long before Paley and contemporary scientific discoveries Thomas Aquinas argued in the fifth of his famous “Five Ways” that design demonstrated God’s existence. But are the contemporary design arguments the same (in principle) as Aquinas’s argument? I argue that they are not. But if not, how does Aquinas’s argument differ from Paley’s? Is one argument better than the other? After explaining the differences, I go on to offer the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Natural Law Theory.
An exploration of the model of morality known as Natural Law theory and how it arises from an understanding of some basic elements in metaphysics and theology, including: what is human nature?, what does the term ‘good’ mean?, what is the connection between good and God?, and more.
The Euthyphro Dilemma.
This philosophical ethical dilemma poses the challenge to Christians as to whether God wills something because it is good or whether it is good because God wills it. It is a dilemma because either option seems to entail something false about God according to the standard, contemporary, evangelical view. Several solutions are proposed, including the most common one offered by contemporary evangelical apologists together with how the Classical theistic (i.e., Thomistic) approach would quality that solution.
The Problem of Evil.
An examination of the famous challenge to theism (particularly Christian theism) from skeptics and unbelievers. We cover the responses that are out of bounds for the evangelical and responses within the bounds of evangelicalism. (top)Think Like You Mean It! Exposing Logical Fallacies. This presentation deals with the differences between formal logical fallacies and informal logical fallacies to the end of exposing some of the most common informal logical fallacies one might encounter in various discussions. The fallacies include: the category mistake, the false dilemma, the
argument of the beard, the argument from ignorance, special pleading, poisoning the wells, the fallacy of composition, the fallacy of division, fallacies of generalization, the burden of proof, argument to the future, the selection effect, and the genetic fallacy.
The Truth about Truth.
This presentation covers the distinction between theories of truth and tests for truth and looks at several theories of truth one might encounter. I defend the correspondence theory of truth and look at the different ways that a statement can correspond to reality, including literally, allegorically, metaphorically, analogically, symbolically, hyperbolically, phenomenologically, informally, and metonymically. I then cover the laws of logic, taking a look at common objections some bring up to logic.
New Religious Movements.
This expression is gradually replacing the term ‘cults’ to refer to that group of religions that fall outside historic, orthodox Christianity but are not classified as a world religion. A study of new religious movements takes a look at some preliminary matters including “What is a cult and how is that term used?” “What is the difference between a cult (or new religious movement) and a world religion?” “How is one to know spiritual, theological, or doctrinal truth?” “Is it proper to disagree with others about matters of religion?” “Why are there false religions?” “Aren’t all religions the same at the core?”Following these preliminary matters, the study examines “The Marks of a Cult.” We look that the four major characteristics that identify the contemporary cults: (1) All Cults Weaken or Deny the Authority of the Bible; (2) All Cults Deny Salvation by Grace Through Faith apart from Works; (3) All Cults Deny the Trinity; (4) All Cults Weaken or Deny the Work of Jesus Christ. With a “bird’s eye view” we see one or two examples of how the cults exhibit these marks. If desired, we can look more in-depth into a number of specific cults listed below.
An examination of one of one of the largest new religious movement showing its departure from historic, orthodox Christian truth. We show how Mormonism exhibits the “marks of a cult” in its views of additional revelation apart from the Bible, its views of salvation, the Trinity, and the work of Christ on the cross. Additional departures from Christian truth are explored including Mormonism’s view of the nature of God and the nature of humans. (top)Jehovah’s Witnesses. An examination of another of the new religious movements showing its departure from historic, orthodox Christian truth. We show how Jehovah’s Witnesses exhibit the “marks of a cult” in their denial of the Trinity, their denial of the deity of Christ, their denial of hell, and their denial of salvation by grace through faith apart from works. We also expose the corruption that characterizes their own tendentious translation of the Bible known as the New World Translation.
A Christian Perspective on the Occult.
We unpack the essential elements of an occult view of reality and show how those elements manifest in Extreme Occultism (Satanism), Moderate Occultism (Wicca, Witchcraft), Mainstream Occultism (New Age Movement), and “Christian Occultism (the Word of Faith Movement). Each group can be a separate study.
After a quick look at what constitutes an occult world view, we look at the specifics of Satanism, primarily as a religious (as opposed to criminal) phenomenon in America, including both Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan and Michael Aquino’s Temple of Set.
After a quick look at what constitutes an occult world view, we look at the specifics of Witchcraft, examining both its common concerns with Christianity (e.g., peaceful co-existence with others, conscientious concern for the environment) as wall as its fatal contrasts with Christian truth (e.g., the existence and nature of God, the nature of humanity, sin, redemption, and the world’s need for the Savior).
The New Age Movement.
After a quick look at what constitutes an occult world view (from which the New Age Movement arose), we look at how the New Age Movement is affecting various parts of society in new age science, medicine, education, politics, religion and more.
The Word of Faith Movement.
An examination of the increasing influence of aberrant and heretical teachings upon the Christian landscape from The Word of Faith Movement in the teachings of such individuals as Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Benny Hinn, and others.
Religion of the Force.
Based on the book with the same title and with the use of multi-media excerpts from the famous Star Wars™ movie series, we examine exactly what is the world view and message that is being portrayed and how that message compares and contrasts with Christianity.
With more and more religious diversity in the world (as exhibited by the seeming ubiquitous “COEXIST” bumper sticker) we take a look at “What is Religious Pluralism?” “Do other religions make claims conflicting with Christianity?” “What does it mean for a religion to say it is true?” “Why can a religion be true for one person and not true for another?” “What is a religion?” “How do the major world religions compare and contrast respecting their core vs. peripheral beliefs?”
On the Da Vinci Code.
Though Dan Brown’s novel has fading the most people’s mind, the issues the novel raises are of abiding importance. Those issues include: whether the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus was a later development, reaching its full form at the Council of Nicea in AD 325; whether the books of the Bible were not settled until the Council of Nicea; whether the story of Jesus is more accurately contained within the Gnostic documents than in the New Testament and shows a mere human Jesus; whether the story also shows that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and fathered children; and whether the Christian religion is an amalgamation of themes from several ancient mystery religions.
Dan Brown Revisited.
Complimenting the presentation “On the Da Vinci Code,” the presentation examines Dan Brown’s historical skepticism, his views of the relationship of faith and reason, his religious relativism, and his relativism regarding truth.
Speaker information: Adv Andrew Duminy
Andrew is lawyer and farmer who has an interest in Agrarian development. He is an elder in a local fellowship in the village of Cedarville in East Griqualand where he regularly preaches and teaches. He is married to Deirdre. They emigrated 15 years ago from the rat race in Pretoria where he practiced as an advocate at the Pretoria Bar to a farm where they raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children (of which they have 3!). He is still actively involved in diverse fields of legal practice and business and chairs a Local School Board. He has served as Chair of the Local Municipal Audit Committee and has an interest in accountable governance, fiduciary relationships and community.
He has a great appreciation for the L’Abri Ministry of the late Dr Francis Schaeffer which has played a formative role in his thinking and life. He and Deirdre have hosted a number of retreats for L’Abri South Africa as well as the student branch of the Christian Lawyers Association on their farm.
TALKING ABOUT LAND REFORM
As a farmer, lawyer and Christian Andrew attempts to address land reform in South Africa on each level of his experience, practice and life in an attempt to identify the critical issues in the current debate.
He discusses farming and agrarian reform from a legal perspective and suggests strongly that tampering with the property clause of the Constitution for purposes of Land Reform is extremely dangerous and totally unnecessary. As a farmer living and working in a rural community on the Lesotho and former Transkei border he has interacted with numerous stakeholders who have diverse perspectives and experiences of agrarian need and development. He calls for honesty and truth in a field where mistruths, twisted statistics and false news are used by all players to influence and drive hidden agendas.
As a Christian Andrew asks us to look at land, property, resources and community from a Biblical perspective. Soul searching and critical self-reflection are necessary where land has become an idol for personal or nationalistic ideals.
A Biblical, truth based, reconciliatory and real solution is possible to the challenges South Africa faces.
Speaker Information: Dr. John Stewart
John Stewart is an international speaker, biblical scholar, Christian apologist, lawyer, author and radio personality. John holds a Masters Degree in Theology and a Doctorate in Law. He is the Scholar-In-Residence for Ratio Christi, a student-faculty apologetics alliance, and is co-founder Intelligent Faith (www.IntelligentFaith.com) an international apologetics ministry. John also is a visiting scholar at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and maintains a private law practice with his wife, Laurie.
John was formerly a Professor of Law and Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University in California where he served as the Assistant Dean of the Law program. He also co-hosted the nationally- syndicated radio show The Bible Answerman and hosted John Stewart Live on KKLA-Los Angeles. John is the author of five books, the latest, In Defense of the Gospels, was released on Amazon in January 2018. John and Laurie are allied attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom.
- In Defense of the Gospels
How do we know that Jesus said and did the things recorded in the biblical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? This presentation addresses the six main issues that determine whether the Gospels are reliable sources for the life and teachings of Jesus— When were the Gospels written, who wrote them, were the writers biased, are there “lost gospels,” has the content of the Gospels been changed over the years, and do history and archaeology confirm the accuracy of the Gospel accounts?
- More Than a Prophet–The Identity of Jesus from the Bible, Qur’an and Early Sources
What did Jesus’ followers and enemies think about who He was, what did Jesus say about Himself, and what did 2nd and 3rd century Christians think? Was Jesus a mere prophet, or does the evidence lead to the conclusion that He was more than a prophet—the Son of God and God in the flesh?
- The Rise and Fall of Christianity’s Influence on the Law
How Christianity helped shape the modern world, including bringing justice to the oppressed, and how secularism is replacing Christian values with moral relativity, and the consequences.
- 4. The Case for the Resurrection
Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus. What is the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead? How can a case be made for Jesus’ bodily resurrection?
- Christianity’s Place in Our Brave New Secular World
How Christianity flourished and had a universal impact on society up through the 17th century, how secularism crept in, and how the Church can regain its influence on society.
- The Case for God
A simple approach to the evidence for the existence of a personal, powerful, timeless and intelligent source for the universe—the being we call “God.”
- The Case for Jesus
What is the evidence that Jesus lived, died on a cross, and rose from the dead? What is the evidence that Jesus’ death on a cross is the basis for humans to be forgiven for our transgressions and will enjoy an afterlife in heaven?
- Sexuality, Ethics and Justice—Who Decides “Good” and “Evil”?
Male, female, both or neither? Hetero, homo, trans? Does it matter what we or society believes or practices, and who should decide what is “good” or “evil,” what is moral and what is legal?
- An Introduction to Intelligent Faith (the need for Apologetics)
Christianity is a faith founded on fact. Where does the term “apologetics” come from, what does it involve, and why do Christians need to understand the need for “intelligent faith?”
- How to talk to non-Christians about Christianity
Many Christians would talk more to non-Christians about Christianity if they were more confident in how to approach non-Christians and knew what to say. Sharing one’s faith can become natural once some of the best approaches are understood.
- Are You Ready to Give Answers?
The biblical challenge to “be ready to give answers” is often neglected or is considered something that is optional for Christians. This talk will show that sharing one’s faith and defending our hope in Christ is not an option—it is a command—and will discuss how to be obedient to this command.