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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Speaking Engagement on Apologetics

I will be speaking on "Deposed Royalty: Pascal's Case for Christianity from Human Nature" at Crossroads Church next Saturday morning at 8:30 AM.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quotes from Chapter Eight: Faith, Risk, and Rationality

I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true. (Pascal, Pensées, 387/241, p. 143; in Christian Apologetics, p. 155)
...not to believe in Christianity, either as a committed unbeliever or as an agnostic, means to forfeit the benefits promised only to the believer (eternal life), should Christianity be true. Deciding not to choose has the same result as not believing in God. (Christian Apologetics, p. 159)
If Christianity is true, the prudential benefits for believing (eternal life) far exceed those offered by believing in atheism or any other worldview (finite pleasures). The prudential detriments of not believing if Christianity is true (loss of eternal life; gaining of hell) also far outweigh the detriments of not believing atheism or another other worldview if the non-Christian view is true (loss of some finite pleasures). Pascal is right to affirm that eternal bliss outweighs any finite good, and eternal loss is far worse than mere extinction. (Christian Apologetics, p. 161)
A prudential consideration of the Christian truth claim can, when offered wisely, invoke a healthy self-interest that encourages unbelievers to inquire into Christianity. (Christian Apologetics, p. 167)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Table of Contents

Part I: Apologetic Preliminaries

1 Introduction: Hope, Despair and Knowing Reality
2 The Biblical Basis for Apologetics
3 Apologetic Method: Evaluating Worldviews
4 The Christian Worldview
5 Distortions of the Christian Worldview--or the God I Don't Believe In
6 Truth Defined and Defended
7 Why Truth Matters Most: Searching for Truth in Postmodern Times
8 Faith, Risk and Rationality: The Prudential Incentives to Christian Faith

Part II: The Case for Christian Theism

9 In Defense of Theistic Arguments
10 The Ontological Argument
11 Cosmological Arguments: A Cause for the Cosmos
12 The Design Argument: Cosmic Fine-Tuning
13 Origins, Design and Darwinism
14 Evidence for Intelligent Design
15 The Moral Argument for God
16 The Argument from Religious Experience
17 The Uniqueness of Humanity: Consciousness and Cognition
18 Deposed Royalty: Pascal's Anthropological Argument
19 Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters
by Craig L. Bloomberg
20 The Claims, Credentials and Achievements of Jesus Christ
21 Defending the Incarnation
22 The Resurrection of Jesus

Part III: Objections to Christian Theism

23 Religious Pluralism: Many Religions, One Truth
24 Apologetics and the Challenge of Islam
25 The Problem of Evil: Dead Ends and the Christian Answer

26 Conclusion: Take It to the Streets

Appendix 1 Hell on Trial
Appendix 2 Apologetic Issues in the Old Testament
By Richard S. Hess

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Speaking Engagements

I am available to churches, campus ministries, and other groups to speak to any topic covered in Christian Apologetics. You may email me through this blog or call me at Denver Seminary if you are interested.

Groothuis on Wiki

While I am not a fan of Wikipedia, I just checked and edited the Wiki page on Douglas Groothuis, if anyone is interested. It is accurate (for now).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christian Apologetics: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,020 in Books. #94 in Theology

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Apologetics Teaching

I am teaching on the origin of life at Crossroads Church of Denver this Sunday at 9:00 and 10:30 AM. Here is my outline:

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

A Biblical View of the Origin of Life on Earth

I. Why Origins Matter

A. Knowing the source of something usually tells much about what it is

1. Food: Kroeger green beans are worse than any other brand

2. Automobiles: Dodge or Toyota

3. Wines, authors, drugs, and so on

B. Human origins

1. Naturalism: An impersonal, materialistic source (change and natural law) for nature, or:

2. Theism: A personal, moral, spiritual source for nature

II. The Origin of life: Two Major Worldviews in Conflict. Two stories of reality

1. Naturalism: all life arose and evolved through natural, unintelligent causes over long periods of time

a. Universe has always existed or came into being out of nothing for no reason or purpose (godless Big Bang)

Story: In the beginning were the particles and the laws of nature; these did all the arranging of matter and energy from the beginning until now. Chance and necessity

b. Abiogenesis: life from non-life without a designer

Story: On the ancient earth, lifeless matter somehow evolved into living matter according to chance and natural law

c. Speciation through natural selection (Darwinism)

Story: after the first reproducing life form came into existence, each generation varied from its predecessors sufficiently to generate all the species now in existence

d. Implication of a-c: Life has no design plan, no purpose, and no destiny

2. Christian theism

a. God created and designed the universe (Psalm 90:1-2; Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and was God. All things were made through him

b. God created and designed all of life (Genesis 1); each thing created according to its “kind” (see also 1 Corinthians 15:35-41)

c. Allows for change within basic kinds, but claims that God has created and designed life and has left evidence of himself (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23)

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. –Psalm 139:13-14

d. Implication: Life has a divine design plan, purpose, and destiny

III. Defending a Christian View of Origin of Life

A. How Christians address this:

1. Theistic evolution (Francis Collins, The Language of God, 2006; Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 2008). Darwinism explains biology: no need to appeal to intelligent causation (design)

a. Reason against this: Doesn’t fit Scripture. God has left evidence of his handiwork

b. Scientific evidence doesn’t support it

B. Intelligent design challenge to naturalism (broadly understood)

Designing intelligence is necessary to explain life and is evident in life’s forms. Naturalism cannot explain life adequately.

C. The case for intelligent design: inference to best explanation based on empirical evidence (not the Bible itself). Relies on no uniquely religious assumptions, but does have conclusions that point toward God.

1. Review: molecular machines: bacterial flagellum (First sermon in this worldview series)

Irreducible complexity cannot be explained by naturalism; it requires intelligence

2. Information argument (DNA). Film clip.10 minutes of “The Case for a Creator”

a. The cell has a tremendous amount of information in DNA

b. This information is not explained by any merely natural process (chance and natural law) because the information is highly specified and complex

The information in DNA and RNA is digital and the entire system is far more sophisticated than any computer we have designed.

“DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created”—Bill Gates.

c. Therefore, a designing mind (an intelligent cause) is the best explanation for the information in the cell

3. Evidence for Darwinian natural selection (speciation) is inadequate

a. Evidence for micro-evolution (finch beaks) does not establish macro-evolution

b. There is no genetic mechanism to increase information required for adaptive mutations; most all mutations are harmful. (These genetic mechanism themselves are designed.)

c. There is no strong evidence for gradual Darwinian evolution in the fossil record. Rather: “sudden emergence and stasis” (Stephen Jay Gould, Darwinist, paleontologist)

IV. God, the Designer of Life

A. Naturalism fails to explain nature adequately: molecular machines, information in the cell, vast number of different species

B. Also fails to explain morality and resurrection of Jesus. See D. Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, chapters 15, 21

C. Intelligent design explains these facts logically, based on scientific evidence

D. Intelligent design points to the God of the Bible; although it does not tell us all we need to know about God. But gives good reason to investigate the biblical claims since nature does require a designer.

E. We learn the rest of God’s truth from the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

Recommended resources:


  1. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity, 2011). See chapters 13-14 on Darwinism and design.
  2. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 10 anniv. ed. (Free Press, 2006). A pivotal book for the Intelligent Design movement.
  3. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004).
  4. Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution (Moody, 2000). Images for Darwinism are bogus.
  5. Philip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (InterVarsity Press, 1993). Logical critique.
  6. William Dembski and Sean McDowell, Understanding Intelligent Design (Harvest House, 2008). Introductory, but excellent.
  7. Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler and Adler, 1986). Influential scientific and secular critique of Darwinism.
  8. Stephen Meyer, The Signature in the Cell (HarperOne, 2009). Magisterial defense of design of life. The best philosophy of science book I have read.


  1. Lee Strobel, “The Case for a Creator” (Illustra Media, 2006). The various scientific arguments for God from biology, physics, cosmology.
  2. “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” (Illustra Media, 2002). The evidence for God from biology.
  3. “The Privileged Planet” (Illustra Media, 2004). On the special design of the earth.
  4. “Expelled” with Ben Stein (2008). Shows how Darwinists persecute dissenters.
  5. Darwin’s Dilemma” (Illustra Media). On the Cambrian explosion, which Darwinists cannot explain.

Web pages: Access Research Network:; Discovery Institute:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Here is the sum of the matter. We must earnestly endeavor to know the truth of the biblical worldview and to make it known with integrity to as many people as possible with the best arguments available. To know God in Christ means that we desire to make Christian truth available to others in the most compelling form possible. To be created in God’s rational, moral and relational image means that our entire being should be aimed at the glorification of God in Christian witness. A significant part of that witness is Christian apologetics.--from Christian Apologetics.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Review

Michael Stark, a Denver Philosophy Student, has written a long review of Christian Apologetics at Amazon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something from Twitter: Douglas Groothuis

Read chapters 13-14 on Darwinism and Design from Christian Apologetics.
Douglas Groothuis
Once design is given a fair hearing, it trumps Darwinism, which is held up by materialism and a dogmatic consensus in some elites.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Many have misinterpreted the meaning of certain aspects of Christianity and so have attributed to it claims of wrongdoing for which it is not guilty. By failing to discern the meaning of Christianity's claims, some have thus rejected it unfairly. In fact, any worldview that is caricatured and then criticized on that basis has not been fairly interrogated."

- Douglas Groothuis (Christian Apologetics, p.123)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Short Course in Christian Apologetics

This is the outline for a sermon I hope to give October 16, at Crossroads Church of Denver. All of these points are elaborated upon in Christian Apologetics

Crossroads Church of Denver, October 16, 2011

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

A Short Course in Christian apologetics

I. Making Thinking a Sin (Marlene Winell, Leaving the Fold)

A. Intellectual challenges at the university

B. Wrong responses: critical thinking as sin

II. The Need for Defending Christianity as True, Rational, and Pertinent: Apologetics

A. Biblical case for rational spirituality (1 Peter 3:15-16; Jude 3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

B. Defending objective truth of Christian worldview in humility and dependence on God (Luke 9:23-26)

C. Showing existential significance and consequence of Christianity

D. Being wise as serpent, innocent as a dove, bold as a lion (Matthew 10:16; Proverbs 28:1)

III. Making the Positive Case for Christianity

A. Commending the Christian Worldview

1. What is a worldview: set of assumptions about the basic make up of the world: ultimate reality, morality, human condition, and salvation

2. Christian worldview: creation, fall, redemption

The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine judgment and restoration) was created and sustained by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, humanity, conscience, Scripture, and supremely through the Incarnation for the purpose of salvation and judgment.

B. Giving the best explanation through a cumulative case

1. Best explanation: non-contradictory, factual, and livable

2. Cumulative case: combine arguments converging on God of the Bible

IV. The Three Circles of Evidence: Cosmology, Biology, and History

A. Cosmology: the universe is created, not eternal. The Big Bang cosmology. See Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation Out of Nothing (Baker, 2004).

1. Scientific evidences for an absolute beginning of the universe out of

nothing. See Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers.

a. Einstein’s general theory of relativity (1917) contained an error (fudge factor), when corrected it predicted an expanding universe

b. In the 1920s, independent of each other, Belgian astronomer George Lemaitre and Russian mathematician Alexander Freidman corrected the error. This became the Freidman-Lemaitre model

c. In 1929, American astronomer Edwin Hubble detected the “red shift” in distant galaxies. Indicated that what was further away was moving at a greater speed. Evidence for expansion.

d. The detection of cosmic background radiation left over from initial condition of the universe.

e. Thermodynamics of the universe; second law of thermodynamics, entropy.

f. Upshot: everything be traced to an initial singularity: Barrow and Tipler: “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated in such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.” John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 442.

g. Alternative theories have failed: steady state and oscillating universe: lack empirical evidence and contravene known laws of physics.

B. Biology

1. Meet the bacterial flagellum

2. Universal joint, propeller, drive shaft, rotor, stator, bushings—all of which are needed for its function, none of which are expendable.

3. This is a biological motor attached to the back of a bacterium as seen through a high-powered microscope. Not built by any human.

4. Bacterial flagellum: only recently discovered to be a molecular machine. See Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, 10th anniversary ed. (Free Press, 2006), 69-72. It exhibits the marks of design.

“Irreducible complexity”: the mousetrap principle. All the integrated parts are needed for fruitful function. It is very improbable that this was built up gradually through natural selection (a naturalistic explanation). See William Dembski, The Design Revolution, chapter 40.

5. Video clip from “The Case for a Creator” (Illustra Media) featuring Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Scott Minnich.

6. Best explanation for molecular machines, such as the bacterial flagellum—design, not mindless nature

C. History and Jesus Christ

1. Christianity and history: God reveals himself in the actions of history (John 1:14)

2. Consider the New Testament

a. Transmission of the documents (textual criticism). Nearly 6,000 Greek manuscripts of the NT with little variation; better than any other ancient text

b. Original writings: by eyewitness or those who consulted them (Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31)

c. Synoptic Gospels written before about 70; entire NT before 100 AD.

d. Extra-biblical writers confirm some aspects of NT history

e. Miracles are possible if creation and design (theism is established)

3. The claims of Jesus Christ and their significance

a. Forgiven sins (Mark 2:1-14); give his life for sinners

b. Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:15-28)

c. One with the Father (John 10:30-31)

d. Crucified and resurrected Lord (1 Corinthians 15)

1. Known burial place; Empty tomb; many appearances; changed life of the disciples

2. Best explanation: simplest, explains the most: resurrection in space-time

4. The achievements of Jesus Christ best answers the human condition (John 10:10)

Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.—Blaise Pascal, Pensées

V. Conclusion: Reason Enough to Rationally Believe

A. Christianity as objectively true, rational and personally pertinent

B. Christianity is a better explanation of reality than any other worldview

C. We should have confidence to present Christianity in the world of ideas (Romans 1:16-17)

Further reading

1. Francis Beckwith, et al, eds. To Everyone an Answer (InterVarsity Press, 2004). Essays by leading apologetics.

2. Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity, 2007).

3. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Crossway, 2008).

4. William Dembski, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity, 2004).

5. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus and On Pascal, both Wadsworth, 2003.

6. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011).

7. The Discovery Institute (Intelligent Design):

8. J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Baker, 1987).

9. James Sennett and Douglas Groothuis, editors, In Defense of Natural Theology (InterVarsity, 2005). More advanced work.

10. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004). See the DVD of the same name.

11. Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000).

12. Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998).

Here is one of my principles for worldview hypothesis testing from chapter three of Christian Apologetics:

Criterion 2a: If a worldview affirms X, Y, Z, etc., as essential elements of that worldview, and none of these individual elements contradicts another essential element, the worldview may be true because it is not logically inconsistent.

Criterion 2b: If a worldview affirms X, Y, Z, etc., as essential elements, and any of these elements contradict another essential element (say X contradicts Y), or is self-contradictory, this worldview is necessarily false because it is logically inconsistent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Libraries and Christian Apologetics

I hear that the Denver Public Library has Christian Apologetics in its collection. One way to promote this book is to suggest to your local or school library that they add my book to their collection. Or you could purchase the book for a library, as a friend of mine did for the Longmont, Colorado library.

Dorothy Sayers Quote

I begin chapter 20, "The Claims, Credential, and Achievements of Jesus Christ," with this quote from Dorothy Sayers:

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore—on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.[1]

[1] Dorothy Sayers, “The Greatest Story Ever Staged,” in The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays by Dorothy Sayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978), p. 14.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Excerpt from Chapter Three of Christian Apologetics

Christian Existence: Living in the Truth

Christianity means far more than holding a worldview or supporting it rationally through apologetics, although these are necessary for Christian witness. The Christian worldview, because of its objective and compelling truth, inspires a distinctively Christian way of living. When an apologist defends the truth, rationality, and pertinence of Christianity, she is also advocating a Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Bible-honoring way of being.

The Christian worldview summons people to follow Christ, to recognize and obey the truth that sets them free. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’" (John 8:31-32). This new life is a life that bestows freedom from false masters: the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is a new life offering freedom from meaninglessness, since all should be done for the eternal glory of God (Ecclesiastes 12; 1 Corinthians 10:31: Colossians 3:17) as we seek the Kingdom of God to be manifest in our midst (Matthew 6:33). The Christian life gives freedom from self-deception, since, in Christ, we can face our greatest sins, repent of them, and know that because of Christ’s finished work on the cross we are forgiven and empowered for Kingdom service (1 John 1:8-10). The Christian is offered freedom from the tyranny of self, since we are commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus Christ by loving our neighbors and even our enemies (Luke 9:23-24; Matthew 5) through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christian life manifests freedom from self-dependence since we must live in moment-by-moment dependence upon God for all that we do (John 15). The Christian is given a new life that frees us from the fear of death or nonbeing. Since Christ has been raised immortal from the dead, Christians have a strong hope (based on knowledge) that they, too, will conquer death in the end. (Hebrews 2:14-16).

This new free life is a life of spiritual adventure, not because it is glamorous or thrill-seeking, but because each Christian is a unique person with a distinctive role to play in God’s eternal Kingdom. Each Christian has been given gifts of treasure, time, and talents and has a calling on his life to manifest truth and love whenever and wherever possible, no matter what the cost.[1] Lastly, and most importantly, new life in Christ sets us free to love God and rejoice in the very being of the triune God himself. In light of this enjoyment of the divine, no sacrifice is too great and no human achievement can ever compare with it. And this joy is not without effect, for “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10; see also Psalm 90:14-15).[2]

[1] On the doctrine of calling, see Os Guinness, The Call (USA: Thomas Nelson, 1998); John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003).

[2] For a profound elaboration on the theme of the enjoyment of God as our highest good and greatest strength, see John Piper, God is the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005). For help when Christian joy is distant, see John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004).

Groothuis Preaching on Christian Apologetics

I will be giving two sermons called, "A Short Course in Christian Apologetics," at Crossroads Church of Denver (in Aurora), Sunday, October 16. There will be copies of Christian Apologetics available for sale at the church.

The Egg and I

I discuss Christian Apologetics with Greg West of The Poached Egg, an apologetics web page.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Sales for Christian Apologetics

InterVarsity Press tells me that through September 11, 2011, Christian Apologetics has sold nearly 3,000 copies. That is quite good for a large, academic book. The book was released in late July. Thanks to those who have purchased it. Please spread the word that God's Kingdom be extended through this effort.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Quotes from Chapter Five of Christian Apologetics

While some have pitted faith against reason, the Bible does not endorse blind leaps of faith in the dark but rather speaks of the knowledge of God gained through various rational means. Instead of a leap of faith, it commends a well-informed and volitional step of faith. (Christian Apologetics, p. 96)
Real science arose only once: in Europe. China, Islam, India, and ancient Greece and Rome each had a highly developed alchemy. But only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. By the same token, many societies developed elaborate systems of astrology, but only in Europe did astrology lead to astronomy. Why? [...] Christians developed science because they believed it could be done, and should be done. (Rodney Stark, Victory of Reason, p. 14, quoted on pp. 94-95)
Due to their popularity and the passion with which they are promoted, distorted accounts of Christianity keep many from pondering the genuine Christian message. But popularity and passion do not guarantee truth. This chapter has argued that Christianity can counter the caricatures raised against it. (Christian Apologetics, p. 116)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three Quotes from Chapter Four of Christian Apologetics

The term Christianity has such broad application and such a range of meanings that we need to offer some definition and delimitation of its meaning if we are to have any hope of defending Christianity rationally. (Christian Apologetics, p. 70)
Like every other worldview, a Christian worldview, at its deepest level, is a system of truth claims or assertions about reality. (Christian Apologetics, p. 72)
The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine judgment and restoration) was created by and is sustained by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, humanity, conscience, Scripture and supremely through the Incarnation, that God may be glorified in all things. (Christian Apologetics, p. 88)

Read Through Christian Apologetics on Line

You can read and study through Christian Apologetics with Brian Auten of Apologetics 3:15. You can also listen to an introduction to each chapter by the author.

First Paragraph from the chapter, "The Argument from Religious Experience"

The Christian worldview claims that humans bear the image of God, a Being who is personal, relational, and communicative and who created humans for relationships with himself based on knowledge. Being made in the divine image makes concourse with God possible and, in a sense, natural. Being God’s image bearers establishes a created affinity between God and humanity, despite the fractures, fissures, and stress points caused by sin. Moreover, we are creatures who may recognize God’s actions in our midst or through the lens of history. This book has argued that God has revealed himself in the created order (cosmological and design arguments), and the human conscience (the moral argument). The Bible and Christians through the centuries have also claimed that God reveals himself through various kinds of human experiences.

Groothuis to speak on Apologetics at Word Conference in Denver

I will be giving two talks at The Word Conference, held in Denver, October 7, 8. My talks will relate to the work in Christian Apologetics, and signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christian Apologetics at

You can find five five-star reviews of Christian Apologetics at Amazon. A new one was just added today.

Interview on Apologetica

Here is Brian Auten's interview with me about apologetics. It is about 42 minutes.

The first two paragraphs of Christian Apologetics

Is there hope for the universe? There certainly is hope in the universe given the presence of hopers—we who think and speak in the future tense, who invest ourselves in that distinctively human tense through anticipation, imagination, rumination, and speculation (both informed and reckless).[1] But is there any hope for the universe and its intrepid hopers? One is hard-pressed to find a larger, more significant question than this imperious query concerning the cosmos. For all our cynicism, we are—at the end of the day—inescapably creatures of hope. We look forward; we yearn for something more, something better—anything to give meaning, value, and substance to our short lives. Even when our hopes for family, friends, country, and ourselves are satisfied—by a happy reunion, an election that goes our way, a job promotion, a negative biopsy—larger hopes (and fears) still loom.

Yet we strive after the future. Even when we reflect back on our lives, our species, and our planet, we wonder… What does it mean? What will endure? Is history progressing toward a goal or merely staggering along? What of the present instant, the ongoing now of my unfolding—or unraveling—life? From here and now we look back and we strain ahead. But what is possible for me to hope, to know, and to do? As we explore the tenses of life, we often fear that our hopes are empty, hollow, mere specters without a home, that in the end it is hopelessness that will rule the day and our destiny. For the possibility of despair is always close at the elbow of hope, acting as a debating partner if not a heckler. Can one agree with the biblical philosopher that “love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6)? Or will death have the last laugh on us all?

[1] George Steiner has reflected on the significance of the human use of the future tense, “the grammar of hope,” in Real Presences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), p. 56.