Category Archives: Metaphysics

PODCAST: Interacting with Bertrand Russell’s Critiques of the Cosmological Argument for God’s Existence


I was recently invited to come in and give a short presentation on the cosmological argument for God’s existence to a college apologetics class and I wanted to try it out first here and to share it with a broader audience as well. In the presentation (where I am joined by my lovely wife, Raven, who keeps me from getting too jargon-y), I discuss how 20th century influential atheist Bertrand Russell attempted to refute the argument and some of the reasons why his refutation falls short.

Audio:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20180211-BertrandRussellCosmologicalArgument(wMyWifeRaven).mp3

PODCAST: Awakening the Gnostic Redeemer – Decoding Twin Peaks The Return w/ Dr. Robert M. Price

I was excited to have Dr. Robert M. Price back on as a guest to discuss Gnostic themes in last year’s hit television series Twin Peaks: The Return. Fans of the show may find this discussion helpful to understanding the show’s more obscure plot points while students of ancient and church history will find the show’s application of Gnostic ideas to be fascinating and perhaps clarifying.

Dr. Robert Price has received doctorates in both systematic theology and New Testament from Drew University and a former fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He is also a scholar at the forefront of the Christ myth movement which denies the existence of a historical Jesus, having written books on the subject such as The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. You can find a number of his books related to biblical studies on Amazon and even hear him as the host of The Bible Geek podcast. He’s also written extensively in the field of H.P. Lovecraft studies and co-wrote a book about the rock band Rush with his wife Carol entitled Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush. He can be found at http://robertmprice.mindvendor.com/

Audio download:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20180130-DecodingTwinPeaks(wDrRobertMPrice).mp3

PODCAST: The Incarnation Is Redemptive (a special Christmas episode w/ Dr. Myk Habets)


For this special Christmas episode, I asked Dr. Myk Habets on to discuss how God taking on flesh in Jesus Christ (also known as the incarnation) was in and of itself a “redemptive act.”

Dr. Myk Habets is the Dean of Faculty at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, New Zealand. He’s also lecturer in systematic theology and the author of a number of books. Dr. Habets’ book that formed the backdrop of our conversation is Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance, and can be purchased here:
https://www.amazon.com/Theology-Torrance-Routledge-Critical-Thinking-ebook/dp/B01BWNXG4A/

The music in this episode was performed by Kyle Cogburn and Matt Marnocha, whom I borrowed from the worship team of The Village Church in South Lebanon, Ohio.

Audio:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20171218-TheIncarnationIsRedemptivewMykHabets.mp3

New book out! Post-Enlightened: Reflections on Two Hundred Years of Anti-Christian Writing from Thomas Paine to Richard Dawkins

postenlightened4My new book is now available in paperback and Kindle! Click the image above to buy or for more information!

If you’re broke but interested, it’s also free on PDF from the “Books” link in the navigation bar.

Description:
In Post-Enlightened, Cody Cook gives an overview of the evolution of anti-Christian writing after the Enlightenment, highlighting its arguments and hidden assumptions.

Beginning with Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason and working through works by Friedrich Nietzsche (The Antichrist) and Bertrand Russell (Why I’m Not a Christian) in centuries past, the book concludes with a look at contemporary anti-Christian writings from Dan Barker (Godless) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion). Post-Enlightened asks what Christians can learn from outsider critiques and what outsiders still have failed to understand about the Christian faith.

PODCAST: Interview with an Exorcist (w/ guest Scott Johnson)

My guest was Scott Johnson, a demonologist, exorcist, and minister. We talked about his experiences with the demonic, the danger of mistaking mental illness for possession, and his view of the relationship between demons and political power.

If you want to learn more about Scott, you can find him at https://oldesoultheology.com and on Twitter via @scottjohnson015

Download:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20171208-InterviewwithanExorcist.mp3

Music:
“The Itis” by Polyrhythmics. Licensed under CC BY 3.0
http://www.needledrop.co/wp/artists/polyrhythmics/

PODCAST: Cantus Firmus at the Movies Ep. 8 – Arrival (w/ Joseph Cox)

My special guest was director and producer Joseph Cox. We talked about 2016’s Arrival, a science fiction film which explores issues of time and determinism.

Joseph Cox can be found at http://www.averagejoefilms.com and at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGzBB-rY8QkWiMwm18zjZhA

Audio:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20171202-CFATM-Ep8-Arrival(wJosephCox).mp3

Music:
“Octagon Pt 2” by Polyrhythmics. Licensed under CC BY 3.0
http://www.needledrop.co/wp/artists/polyrhythmics/

 

Cantus Firmus at the Movies Ep. 7 – Crimes and Misdemeanors (w/ Bridget Nelson)

My special guest was Bridget Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax fame. The film we discussed was Woody Allen’s 1989 Crimes and Misdemeanors, a film that asks difficult questions about morality and integrity in a godless universe.

Bridget can be found at www.rifftrax.com, on Twitter at @bridgetjnelson, and her podcast Instead of Tweeting can be found on iTunes.

Audio:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20171104-CFATM-Ep7-CrimesandMisdemeanors(wBridgetNelson).mp3

Music:
“Octagon Pt 2” by Polyrhythmics. Licensed under CC BY 3.0
http://www.needledrop.co/wp/artists/polyrhythmics/

PODCAST: Fight the Powers – What the Bible Says About the Relationship Between Demonic and Political Power

Download:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20170920-FightthePowers.mp3

Music:
“The Itis” by Polyrhythmics. Licensed under CC BY 3.0
http://www.needledrop.co/wp/artists/polyrhythmics/

Notes:

In a recent podcast which I titled “Make Christianity Weak Again,” I talked about the approaches which the church in the United States has used in interacting with the political realm. The place where I landed is that the church should look at the state with suspicion, view its relationship to it as an uneasy one, and not seek to consolidate political power but to emphasize its spiritual power.

In this podcast, I want to give the biblical theory behind my practical application. Why should the church not seek to align itself with the state?
Continue reading PODCAST: Fight the Powers – What the Bible Says About the Relationship Between Demonic and Political Power

PODCAST: Cantus Firmus At the Movies Ep. 3 – What Dreams May Come (w/ Chris Date)

In this episode we talked about the 1998 film What Dreams May Come, which sparked some great discussion about heaven, hell, love, the physicality of human nature, mental illness, and how Christians should approach art. Audio can be downloaded below or found on iTunes if you search “Cantus Firmus.”

Chris Date was my special guest and can be found at http://www.theopologetics.com and http://rethinkinghell.com

Audio:
http://www.cantus-firmus.com/Audio/20170427-CFATM-Ep3-WhatDreamsMayCome(wChrisDate).mp3

Music:
“Octagon Pt 2” by Polyrhythmics. Licensed under CC BY 3.0
http://www.needledrop.co/wp/artists/polyrhythmics/

Can Life Have Meaning Without God?

An atheist going by the moniker “Counter Apologist” wrote an interesting post which goal was to undermine the Christian claim that man can have no meaning or purpose if he is not created by God. It can be read in its entirety here:
http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/2013/02/big-questions-02-meaning-purpose.html

While I felt that much of this post read as fairly visceral, there was one point made that read like a true argument, and I thought it was worth thinking about and responding to:
“[If] only things that are designed can have a purpose, even if they’re sentient beings – then on Christianity clearly god has no purpose since he wasn’t designed.  If god can have a purpose for himself, then he would have to give it to himself.  Why then is god the only being that can give a purpose to himself?  And if god has no purpose, then why is having a purpose important in the first place?  The entire assumption [William Lane] Craig makes here relies on special pleading.”

Let’s syllogize this thing!

1. According to Christians, only things that are created can have a purpose.
2. God wasn’t created.
3. Therefore God doesn’t have a purpose.

If you look at this argument for a moment, you’ll notice that the word “purpose” in the conclusion seems to mean something different than the word “purpose” in the first premise. In other words, our atheist has committed the fallacy of equivocation– using the same word in two different ways. In the premise, a purpose means something like, a reason for existing. In the conclusion, it means something more like, a goal one has made for oneself. No Christian denies that an atheist may make a goal for himself, but he would question whether this goal can be meaningful transcendentally speaking if atheism is true. Also, no Christian would say that God can’t have goals, but they would claim that He doesn’t have a reason for existing, which is to say some cause or purpose that transcends Him and for which He was brought into existence.

To provide a parallel from human experience, when a creator makes a work of art, one might ask that creator what his art means. The creator gets to determine this– not the art itself or the audience. When someone mischaracterizes what an artist or speaker is saying, he is not creating a meaning equally valid to how the speaker understood his words– he is simply wrong. Unless Counter Apologist has been heavily influenced by post-structuralists like Derrida, I suspect that he would probably agree on this point.

So who gets to determine what the meaning of human life or the universe is? Well, clearly its creator. If there is no creator, there is no meaning. As Kevin Vanhoozer wrote, “there is meaning only where someone means, or meant, something” (Is There a Meaning in This Text? p. 233). We can, as Derrida does, engage in the “play” of inventing our own meanings if the creation, lacking a real author, doesn’t have any objective meaning, but we can’t claim that any one interpretation is true or valid. The will to power, the pleasure principle, glorifying God forever– all are equally valid purposes for one’s life (which is to say that they are all invalid objectively speaking). This line of reasoning can also be applied to purpose. If you want to know what the purpose of a vacuum cleaner is, you’ll have to read the manual that its creators provided.

So, does God have a purpose in the same sense that a created thing has a purpose? No. As A Creator, he has purposes, but no purpose or meaning that has been bestowed upon Him from the outside. This is simply to say that God is not created, which Christians were already happy to admit.

As humans, we may be creators as well as creatures. As creators, we can purpose to do something. As creatures, we have been made with a purpose. God, as only Creator and not creation, was not made with a purpose, though He does purpose to do things. These definitions must be kept distinct, or else we commit fallacies of equivocation that do not hold up to scrutiny, as the Counter Apologist has done.