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How do we understand religious freedom vs. discrimination?

I just finished a two-week section on religious freedom and persecution with my students. In fact, I stopped writing their test in order to record the podcast and write this blog. I feel bad saying this, but I think it is true. The church has not done a great job at helping young people think about important cultural issues. We spend years with students preparing them to go off to the university, but we often are not equipping them to think clearly on important issues. We also don’t do a great job and helping them know their rights in culture and on the college campus.

This is why my chapter on religious freedom and persecution became so important the last two weeks. I wanted the students to think about controversial issues and debate religious freedom and persecution. I wanted them to see how freedoms are being taken away in the United States, how universities are making “free speech” zones, and how Christians are being persecuted around the world. We have a lot to be thankful for, but we also need to stand up, think clearly, and engage our culture with confidence.

Check out this week’s podcast as I  help you discuss religious freedom with clarity.

Video mentioned in the show:

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).

Desperate Hope

In celebration of my 2nd anniversary podcasting, I am giving away 50 copies of Desperate Hope! This opportunity ends in April, so don’t miss out. Simply subscribe to this blog and share it with your friends on social media in order to get your own personalized copy. Once finished, send an email to contact@coffeehousequesions.com with your address and I’ll ship a copy to you completely free!

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Is The New Testament Reliable?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is the work I am able to do with MAVEN and their groundbreaking approach to mission trips. Brett Kunkle, founder of MAVEN, has created a one-of-a-kind experience that immerses participants in real-life engagement in apologetics, theology, worldview and evangelism in Berkeley, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. These trips are life changing for students. Their faith is tested, and for some, they are able to share the Gospel for the first time. The students’ confidence grows and they come home with a new excitement to discuss their faith with those around them.

The video below is one of six training sessions the students attended in preparation for their trip to Berkeley. I discussed five common objections to the reliability of the New Testament. 1) It was written long after the time of Jesus. 2) It is not supported by historical evidence. 3) It was messed up and changed over time. 4) It was written by biased Christians. 5) It contains miracles and miracles are impossible. I finished by giving practical tips on how to talk to people who think the Bible is dumb.

I hope you enjoy this talk and contact MAVEN to take your students on this one-of-a-kind experience.

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.

Desperate HopeIn celebration of my 2nd anniversary podcasting, I am giving away 50 copies of Desperate Hope! This opportunity ends in April, so don’t miss out. Simply subscribe to this blog and share it with your friends on social media in order to get your own personalized copy. Once finished, send an email to contact@coffeehousequesions.com with your address and I’ll ship a copy to you completely free!

 

4 Tips To Better Train Your Students

Over my seven years of teaching I have learned that there is a lot more to teaching than simply presenting information. There are strategies that we can put into practice that help us to be more effective in the classroom. We also take different tests like the ACT Aspire and PSAT in order to make sure the students are on track and learning what they need to learn.

The question is, are we doing the same with Christianity? Do we have a system in place to help us know what we should be teaching at different stages? Are we testing students to see if they really are learning the foundations of the faith?

In this podcast I want to share some strategies with you in order to help you be more effective as you train your children, students, or even yourself.

Links mentioned in the show

Desperate Hope: http://www.tenaciouslove.com/about-desperate-hope

Summit Ministries Worldview Checkup: https://www.summit.org/checkup1/

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).

2018 Imperial Valley Apologetics Conference Recap

I had the great privilege of speaking at the 2018 Imperial Valley Apologetics Conference this past weekend in El Centro, CA. I feel bad that it came at the expense of my friend, Tim Barnet, getting sick. But when he asked me to cover for him, I was happy that my Saturday was open.

During the day-long conference, I gave three talks and had a Q&A session. My talks included: Does God exist? Are science and faith compatible? Is the New Testament reliable? IMG_4497

Thank you to Calvary Chapel Bible College El Centro and everyone in attendance. You all are doing an incredible work, and you made it a very special day. And thank you to the visual team for putting together this short recap video from my first talk on the existence of God. You guys were amazing!

If you are interested in having me speak at your church, camp, or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page and email me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. You can select a topic from the list or suggest your own. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

What is the key to discovering truth?

This blog first appeared at seanmcdowell.org

The topic of truth seems to be confused in our culture. Some think the truth is based on what makes you happy, and because God wants us to be happy, whatever makes me happy is true and good!

Others think that each person has their own truth. I saw an advertisement this past summer at UC Berkeley for voice lessons which give “vocal techniques to ‘free the natural voice,’ combined with gentle spiritual exercises empower you to SPEAK YOUR TRUTH” (emphasis theirs). This has become a popular phrase in our culture and was even used by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes when she said, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have” (emphasis mine).

Do we just have “your truth” and “my truth”? What happens when your truth contradicts my truth? What happens when someone’s truth hurts other people? We wouldn’t agree with someone speaking their truth when they believe that murder or racism is a good thing. Instead, we need to focus on the Truth. We should seek and believe the truth even if it doesn’t make us happy.

But how can we even discover the truth when people have different beliefs? Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, gives four worldview tests in his book, Understanding the Times. We are going to briefly look at the first two.

#1 Test for Truth: Reason

Is it reasonable? Can it be logically stated and defended?

It is important to start with these questions. If something goes against reason, we don’t need to look for evidence or think about whether it is true. Illogical statements are self-refuting and falsify themselves.

You don’t need to look for evidence of a married bachelor. If you’re married, you’re not a bachelor, and if you’re a bachelor, then you’re not married. You can’t be both! If I were to tell you about a square circle outside, you don’t go looking for it. It is logically impossible for square circles to exist. So, we need to begin by checking to see if the statement or fact is in accordance with reason. Once it passes the “test of reason,” then we move on to our second test.

#2 Test for Truth: External Support

Is there some external, corroborating evidence to support it?

First, one of the key words in this question is external. This is looking for something outside of a personal experience, emotion, or feeling. The fact that I feel good about believing I’m a millionaire doesn’t make me a millionaire. When you check the external evidence of my bank account you will see that my internal belief was false (in fact, really false).

Second, make sure the external evidence is actually corroborating the claim the person is making. I often see examples of people using evidence that supports a claim that is different from their original claim.

For example, I once read an article claiming to “prove” Darwinian evolution of how one animal kind is able to change into another animal kind. The evidence given was that a new kind of shark was discovered, but this evidence didn’t corroborate their view. Their evidence supported microevolution because when two different sharks breed you get a new type of shark. This is not a change from one kind to another but a change within a kind.

We have to remember that there is truth to be discovered in our world even if it is not obvious. Sometimes the truth is right in front of us, but people think it’s irrelevant.

Because of this, we might have to put in a little extra work. We must discover the truth, live by that truth, and help people around us see its importance. The truth is worth it. In reality, we all know this.

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

I find that our culture has a difficult time discussing controversial issues like homosexuality. We are quick to jump to conclusions and start calling people names. It is possible that we quickly jump to name calling because we don’t really know what to say. We may have not thought through our position, so we simply assume that the other side is ignorant or hateful for not seeing it our way. I could be wrong about this, but I have met people who admit to being much more calm in discussions after truly understanding what they believe.

But before I get onto another point, it is refreshing to see this issue be discussed with clarity and compassion by two people on completely different sides of the debate. Sean McDowell, author and professor at Biola University, defended the position that biblical marriage is the exclusive union of one man and one woman for life. Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian and founder of the Reformation Project, defended the position that biblical marriage also includes monogamous same-sex relationships.

You know it is going to be a good conversation with two leaders discussing their positions. I hope that you watch the discussion below with an open mind and learn how to have a positive conversation on this issue. I learned so much from this and I hope you do too.

Comment below with your thoughts!

What questions are high school students asking?

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!

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).

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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