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Coffeehouse Questions

Student Night Q&A – Heartland Church

I was invited to speak at the Heartland Church Student Night in Indianapolis back on January 10th, 2018. They had me begin with a short 15 minute talk followed by 50 minutes of text-in Q&A. We were able to get through 20 questions during our time together and I have listed them below the video with the point in which they were asked. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to comment below!

  • 2:24 – Everyone Has To Start Somewhere
  • 15:25 – How do we know if our faith is real if other religions say otherwise?
  • 18:01 – What are your thoughts on evolution?
  • 22:58 – Is it okay to learn the ins and outs of other religions?
  • 24:29 – Are you a young earth guy or an old earth guy?
  • 28:11 – Can you describe the “no sin is greater than any other” concept?
  • 29:36 – There are stories of other living things before humans. Does this contradict Adam and Eve? Are the stories in the Bible fables?
  • 33:56 – God created us. Where did God come from?
  • 36:16 – Are ghosts and other paranormal things real?
  • 37:59 – How is it fair that people who have never heard about Jesus are eternally punished?
  • 41:30 – Is there a thing you struggle to believe about Christianity?
  • 42:55 – What do you think heaven is like?
  • 46:42 – How do you have a loving God and hell?
  • 49:43 – How do you get to know God and how do you actually give yourself to God?
  • 51:43 – Are aliens or life on other planets real?
  • 53:02 – How am I supposed to know that God is listening when I pray and feel nothing?
  • 54:42 – What do you think hell is like?
  • 57:21 – Is it possible that humanity created religion as a coping mechanism for the inevitability of death?
  • 58:54 – If God knew that we would sin, why did he create us?
  • 1:00:18 – What’s the purpose of grace?
  • 1:01:00 – What’s one last word you would give to any student still struggling?

If you are interested in me speaking at your church camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

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Why does God allow evil? Interview with Dr. Clay Jones

This question is probably asked more than any other, and it is one of the most common objections against the Christian view of God. If God is all good and all powerful, why doesn’t he stop evil? Questions like these are frequently asked and it is important for Christians to respond well.

God Evil

Dr. Clay Jones, an Associate Professor of Christian Apologetics, joined me to discuss his new book, Why Does God Allow Evil? This book covers a wide range of questions helping you to have answers for some of the toughest questions.

What is evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why didn’t God create a world with free creatures who always choose good? How does eternity relate to our suffering here?

Listen and get answers to these questions and more!

What are other questions you have about the problem of evil? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

How can we understand the sexual confusion of our culture?

The topic filling the airwaves more than anything else right now is the issue of sexual harassment. There have been allegations against both politicians and Hollywood elite. However, how can we understand the morality of this in a secular culture? What makes sexual harassment wrong?

A few weeks back I did an activity with my students. I gave them this list of sexual acts and asked them to classify each one as being either morally permissible and morally wrong.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 9.55.25 PM

Listen to see what my students did and how this activity can help us understand the sexual confusion of our culture.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 11.03.25 PMWhere would you draw the line? Why is it drawn there? Is there even an objective line? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Are Genesis 1 and 2 contradictory creation accounts?

I remember the first time a Christian told me that Genesis 1 and 2 were contradictory. He seemed to say it as if it didn’t matter. It was like saying, “There are contradictions in Scripture, but don’t worry about it and just have faith.” This, I believe, is a huge problem. It seems to limit God’s omnipotence or His goodness. It becomes difficult to explain how God, the author of Scripture, would contradict himself. Does God error?

I agree that there are apparent contradictions in Scripture, but just like other apparent contradictions, they are cleared up when understood correctly. Christians can’t avoid this issue in Genesis 1 and 2 by saying they don’t contradict. Instead, we have to give reasons why.

What is the apparent contradiction?

It has often been said that Genesis 1 and 2 provide contradictory accounts of when man was created in relation to other created things. Genesis 1:26 puts the creation of man on the 6th day after all plants (day 3) and animals (days 5 and 6). Genesis 2:5-7 seems to say that man was created before the plants and animals. So the question becomes, were Adam and Eve created near the beginning or end of creation?

In order to answer this question, we must understand the context of Genesis 1 and 2. We understand this need for context in our lives every day. For example, “The lions destroyed the dolphins,” appears crazy on the surface. Why did the lions go into the ocean? Why didn’t the dolphins simply swim away? It then becomes very clear when you realize the person talking is on the sports channel and is covering a recent football game. The context in which the person is talking or writing makes all the difference.

So, we must look at the context and perspective of Genesis 2 in order to see if it contradicts the timeline in Genesis 1. With this understanding, we are able to see that there is a change of perspective. Dr. Hugh Ross, an astronomer and President of Reasons to Believe, explains the change in perspective from Genesis 1 and 2 in his book, Navigating Genesis. He writes,

“While Genesis 1 focuses almost entirely on the physical creation–what God made or made happen and in what order, Genesis 2 begins to elaborate on the why, or purpose, of creation. The Genesis 1 storyteller describes the unfolding scene of the six creation days from a vantage point somewhere just above Earth’s surface, but below the clouds, as God prepared a suitable habitat for humanity. Genesis 2 zooms in on a small portion of Earth’s surface (Eden) and what occurred from the vantage point of one human being (the first human) in that locale, walking and awakening to the sights and sounds all around” (p. 95).

Genesis 2 is no longer talking about the whole globe. Realizing the setting allows us to understand what is meant by the different descriptions. Just like the report about the lions and dolphins. Once you realize the context, we are no longer talking about the ocean but about football. Genesis 1 offers the big picture timeline and Genesis 2 focuses on what happened during the 6th day of creation in the garden. Dr. Ross continues,

“Genesis 1 presents the major physical creation events in a time-ordered sequence… In Genesis 2 God introduces the first humans to their setting, first to the misty land itself, then to the plants, then to the higher animals and, finally, to each other. That is, God sequentially lays out humanity’s authority over and responsibility to manage different components of His earthly creation but offers only a highly condensed, non-sequential summary of His physical creation activity. No contradiction can be inferred legitimately from differences between these two versions of the creation story” (p. 95-96).

Genesis 2 never says that man was created before plants or animals. The garden in Eden was planted after man was created, but this doesn’t mean that the whole globe was void of plants. We then see in Genesis 2:19 that “the Lord had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.” The language here is that God “had formed” the animals and then brought them to the man. Again, this is consistent with what we see in Genesis 1.

Conclusion

Understanding the context and change of perspective allows us to read these two accounts in harmony. They are not both offering a big picture timeline of the creation event. Instead, they are each describing a different aspect of creation. This apparent contradiction becomes clear when understood in this new way, and Genesis 1 and 2 become complementary creation accounts.

What are other apparent contradictions that you have a difficult time with? Comment below!

Top 10 Videos of 2017

One of my goals since starting Coffeehouse Questions has been to take on speaking events. The blog started in 2015 and the podcast started in 2016. 2017 was very exciting because I started to get more frequent requests for speaking events. I was able to speak at school chapels, churches, a Ratio Christi club, and summer camps. Three of my events were with Stand to Reason at Hume Lake.

I am so grateful for each of these events. I already have one event on my Calendar for January 10th in Indiana, and I’m looking forward to booking more in 2018! Check out my Endorsements & Speaking page for topics or suggest your own!

Enjoy the most viewed videos from 2018!

10. Discussing the Resurrection of Jesus on Truth Matters TV

9. What It Looks Like To Follow Jesus – Luke 10:1-24

8. Are Science and Faith Compatible?

7. World Religions: Are they all true?

6. Is Jesus the only way to God?

5. How Relativism Undermines Your Student’s Faith in Christ

4. Who created God?

3. How do I share God with someone who rejects Christ?

2. How can God be loving when he commanded killing in the Old Testament?

1. Will we have free will in heaven if we can’t sin?

I hope you enjoy this list of videos from 2017. I am still trying to catch up and have more videos to post, so follow the blog and look for those in the future! Finally, in case you missed it, you can check out the top blogs and top podcasts from 2017.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Top 10 Podcasts of 2017

At the end of 2016 the Coffeehouse Questions podcast was only 10 months old. I had recorded 54 episodes and received just over 5,000 downloads. Well now it’s 2017, and I have added another 23 episodes to the list. These new episodes received over 11,000 downloads. I wish I would have stuck with recording a new episode each week, but it became too much for the season I was in. I apologize for those of you who were waiting far too long for a new episode, and I appreciate your gentle reminders to release a new show.

Thank you everyone for a great year! I had a blast recording each show and I hope you enjoyed listening to them.

Here are the most downloaded podcasts of 2017!

10. How are other worldviews influencing Christians today?

9. The Story of Reality with Greg Koukl Part 1

8. The Nashville Statement: A Christian Response and Testimony

7. The Story of Reality with Greg Koukl Part 2

6. Logic and Critical Thinking with Kenneth Samples Part 1

5. Why Being Lukewarm Doesn’t Mean What You Likely Think It Means

4. Why Apologetics Should Be Relational with Michael Sherrard

3. Response to God Being All Loving Yet Commanding Killings In The Old Testament

2. Starting Faith Conversations

1. The Case For Christ

I would like to encourage you to check out the top blogs from 2017, the top videos from 2017, as well as last year’s top podcasts.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Top 10 Blogs of 2017

Another year is coming to an end, and there is so much to be thankful for. I didn’t get as many articles written in 2017, but that didn’t stop you all from reading and supporting my work. I was able to publish 48 different articles addressing different questions about Christianity, science, ethics, religion, and culture. These posts were seen in 113 countries!

CoffeehouseQuestions.com isn’t the only place featuring my writing. This past year I also started writing at SeanMcDowell.org and apologetics.com. I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for my readers. You all have encouraged me so much. Thank you for another great year!

Here are the 10 most read blogs in 2017!

10. 10 Self-Defeating Ideas You Should Probably Stop Believing

9. Does God just want us to be happy?

8. Does God send good people to hell?

7. Is belief in God a rational position?

6. How is an eternal hell an example of a loving God?

5. What is the evidence for evolution from the fossil record?

4. If God created Satan, does evil and sin come from God?

3. What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?

2. Can Christians claim to have the One, True God?

1. 10 Creation Essentials: Old Earth or Young Earth?

Be sure to check the top podcasts and videos of 2017. You can also look back into the past with the top 10 blogs of 2016, and subscribe to get future posts.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Why doesn’t everyone believe in Jesus if he came to earth?

I often get the question, “Why doesn’t God do something that would just make everyone believe in Him?” I often ask, what would that be?

Students respond by saying things like:

“He could give everyone a dream!”

“He could stand right in front of me and tell me He is God.”

“He could do miracles!”

To this I respond, He has already done that. This Christmas, we celebrated the fact that Jesus, God incarnate, came to this earth, lived, and did miracles in front of many people. However, many did not believe in Him after this. Why not? Listen to this week’s podcast.

Why do you think people don’t believe?

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

What is the evidence for evolution in the fossil record?

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My “fun read” since the semester is over.

“Evolution gives us the true account of our origins, replacing the myths that satisfied us for thousands of years. Some find this deeply frightening, others ineffably thrilling… But it is more than just a good theory, or even a beautiful one. It also happens to be true.” These are just two statements from the introduction of Dr. Jerry Coyne‘s book, Why Evolution Is True. If the title of the book wasn’t clear enough, the introduction makes his position even clearer. In fact, his book is also an attack against creationism and anyone who believes that it should be taught in schools along with evolution. Coyne says, “Why teach a discredited, religiously based theory, even one widely believed, alongside a theory so obviously true?” So, is creationism discredited? Can it stand up against a theory so obviously true like evolution?

When I teach on evolution, I always make sure to emphasize the three Columbo questions from Greg Koukl‘s book, Tactics. It is always good to respond with questions instead of statements if someone comes up to you and says, “Evolution is a fact. Do you believe in it?” After this question you could say…

  1. What do you mean by evolution? Are they defending change over time, micro-evolution, or Darwinian evolution (macro-evolution)? Make sure you are both discussing the same definition of evolution.
  2. How did they come to that conclusion? What evidence do they have to support their view of evolution?
  3. Have you considered…? This is when we can answer their question by presenting another option that agrees with the evidence. The goal is to get them to think rather than simply stating facts that can be dismissed.

When I go through these questions with students, especially the second question, they almost always respond by saying that fossils are evidence for evolution. What is the evidence for evolution in the fossil record? This is the first question Dr. Coyne addresses in his book after defining evolution in the first chapter, and for this reason, it will be the first topic we discuss. Dr. Coyne says,

There are several types [of evidence]. First, the big evolutionary picture: a scan through the entire sequence of rock strata should show early life to be quite simple, with more complex species appearing only after some time. Moreover, the youngest fossils we find should be those that are most similar to living species (Why Evolution Is True, p. 25).

Second, when we find transitional forms, they occur in the fossil record precisely where they should (p. 53).

Finally, evolutionary change, even of a major sort, nearly always involves remodeling the old into the new (p. 54).

Dr. Coyne gives many examples to support his first piece of evidence that species move from simple to complex. He covers fossilized evolution and speciation, the “missing links,” evolution of fish to amphibians, the origin of birds, and the evolution of whales. Each example starts with an ancient species and shows a gradual evolution to what we have today. And when you begin to be overwhelmed by the amount of evidence, Coyne says, “If at this point you’re feeling overwhelmed with fossils, be consoled that I’ve omitted hundred of others that also show evolution” (p. 51). With hundreds examples proving evolution to be a fact, why am I not an evolutionist?

Why I’m not convinced

Dr. Coyne has given many examples of similar fossils that appear to be evolving slowly, but this doesn’t frighten me. Showing similar fossils moving from simple to complex does not prove that evolution is true. Within an atheistic or naturalistic framework I can see why this makes sense. It seems to line up so perfectly and is the only option. However, naturalism isn’t the only framework in which to understand the evidence. The Christian worldview presents another possibility; God created each of those species. Even Dr. Coyne admits that, “It is easier to document evolution in the fossil record than to understand what caused it” (p. 31). We see fossils that appear to be so similar, but we cannot know, from fossils alone, what caused them to be so similar. This still leaves two options on the table.

Have you considered that the fossil record could be the result of a common creator?

Fossils are always used to prove evolution, but couldn’t they be explained by both a common creator or a common ancestor? Dr. Coyne gives two answers as to why the common creator option doesn’t make sense. First, “No theory of special creation, or any theory other than evolution, can explain these patterns” (p. 29). This really confused me, and I was upset to see that this statement came without explanation at the end of the section. Why can’t special creation account for the simple to complex patterns we see? Why couldn’t God create different kinds of animals with similar body forms? If natural selection acting on random genetic mutations (a mindless process), can produce those results, why couldn’t an intelligent creator?

Second, Dr. Coyne says, “There is no reason why a celestial designer, fashioning organisms from scratch like an architect designs buildings, should make new species by remodeling the features of existing ones. Each species could be constructed from the ground up” (p. 54). It is true that God could construct each species from the ground up, but why would he have to do that? Genesis 1:25-26 tells us that God made the beasts of the earth, and then made man in His image. The Hebrew word meaning “to make” in these verses can describe the creation of a new form from preexisting materials. This is confirmed in that Genesis 2:7 tells us, “God formed the man of dust from the ground.” So, even though God could have created each animal kind completely different, it doesn’t appear that He did it this way. Similar bone structures and DNA show that God used similar “blueprints” when creating animals and humans in their present form. Evolution isn’t the only explanation for similar structures.

Special creation does explain the patterns we see in the fossil record. It explains the “transitional fossils,” the “missing links,” and the origin of life. Therefore, I am convinced that fossils don’t only point to evolution but can also be explained by creation. The creation account in Genesis 1-2 should not be thrown out as a religiously based and discredited theory.

What do you think? Why do you hold to creation or evolution? Leave your comments below and check back later as we dive into other issues on this topic!

 

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