Here's a common challenge on the issue of marriage:
One of the standard arguments provided by the homophobic right against gay marriage is a form of what we call the domino fallacy or the slippery slope argument. The idea is that if you take that seemingly innocuous first step, it automatically leads to a second, which will force a third, and so on and so on until, next thing you know, there we are in Satan's own livingroom listening to Yanni on 8-track. In the case of marriage, the argument goes, if we open up the institution to same-sex couples, then we will be forced down the slippery slope to include all sorts of unusual couplings including cross-species arrangements.
How would you respond to this one? Let us know in the comments, then look for Alan's answer to this challenge on Thursday.
(Incidentally, if you read the rest of the post linked above, you'll find that the author commits the fallacy of begging the question by defining marriage in a way that "proves" opposing same-sex marriage is bigotry. But of course, it's the definition of marriage that's the very thing in question.)
At an Oxford Union debate on the existence of God, atheist Dan Barker said the following:
If nothing comes from nothing, then God cannot exist, because God is not nothing. If that premise is true that “nothing comes from nothing,” and if God is something, then you have just shot yourself in the foot.
How would you answer his challenge? Respond in the comments below, and then on Thursday we’ll hear Brett’s answer.
[Update: View Brett's video response. Explore past challenges here and here. You can watch all the contributors to “The God Debate” (John Lennox, Michael Shermer, Peter Hitchens, etc.) here.]
This week's challenge is a question we received from a reader:
I've read Euthyphro's Dilemma, but I still cannot comprehend it. I read that everything a good God commands is good, but what makes God good in himself? I often think, "Why ought I to behave morally?" Because God commands it. And why does he command it? Because he's good. But in the end, I seem to miss the true concept of "good." Being loving, kind, just is good, but why? I've read that goodness is a quality of God, and therefore what he commands is good, and we should pursue good, but why is pursuing "good" good? I've fallen into an infinite regression, and I can't grasp God anymore. It seems like circular reasoning, or am I missing something?
What I am trying to say is that if good is inherent in God's nature, then by what standard does he see that his nature is good? A self-existing standard doesn't seem reasonable to me anymore because it deprives itself of meaning.
Can you help him answer his question? Tell us how you reason through this, and then Brett will post his video response on Thursday.
Since this week marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, today's challenge is a question a Planned Parenthood employee asked Alan during some pro-life apologetics field training he was doing with students on the streets of Portland*:
"So, how many babies have you adopted?"
What's your response? Tell us what you think, and on Thursday we'll hear Alan's advice.
*See here if you're interested in having Alan give your students "Pro-Life Field Training." A description of the experience:
Whether you're a pro-life beginner interested in learning the arguments, or you'd like to become a more effective advocate for the unborn, or you're simply looking for an unusual option for a retreat, Alan has created an immersive pro-life experience for your student or adult group. The training—a mixture of classwork and in-the-field experience—provides rigorous instruction in the art of pro-life persuasion using proven scientific and philosophical arguments, role-play of common abortion-related conversations, and real-life engagement/discussion with pro-choice advocates. At the end of the classwork portion, your group will be taken to a local urban area to survey pedestrians about their views on abortion, creating opportunities for you to practice your newly-learned pro-life skills. It's an event that's certain to test, sharpen, and strengthen your pro-life ideas and arguments. (Length of time: two to four days. Groups in Southern California need not schedule the training on consecutive days.)
How would you start a good conversation about Jesus with a friend who had this bumper sticker? I think the quote (though it's unclear whether or not it actually came from Gandhi) can be used to express the deepest and most beautiful truth of the Gospel, our union with Christ, and His role as our priest, so it's a perfect opening. What would you say?
Give us your thoughts below, and then we'll hear from Brett on Thursday.