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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!

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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!

 

Discussing the Resurrection of Jesus on Truth Matters TV

About two years ago I was able to connect with Ratio Christi and partner with their great work on college campuses. This last summer I gave my talk on world religions at the Ratio Christi chapter at Colorado State University. And now, most recently, I had the privileged of discussing the resurrection of Jesus on Truth Matters TV. Watch my recent appearance below and check out the link for all of their other shows.

If you are interested in me speaking at your church 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!

Kim Kardashian and the Moral Questions of Surrogate Motherhood

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You might not know much about Kim Kardashian. You also might not know much about surrogacy. The average young adult knows much more about the former than the latter. I often quiz students on their knowledge of the culture, and most students are able to tell me about Kim Kardashian, who she married, and even the names and ages of her two children. And if you haven’t heard, Kim is going to be having her third child. Unlike her first two children, her child will be born to a surrogate mother due to medical reasons.

Since many students are probably aware of this situation, and since it might come up in a conversation at school, it would be a good time to discuss the moral questions surrounding surrogate motherhood. We want our students to see how the biblical worldview addresses important issues instead of being influenced only by culture. My goal is not to determine if surrogacy is right or wrong. Instead, I want look at some important questions on this issue to help get the conversation started.

What is surrogate motherhood?

Merrian-Webster defines surrogate motherhood as “a woman who becomes pregnant usually by artificial insemination or surgical implantation of a fertilized egg for the purpose of carrying the fetus to term for another woman.”

There are different types of surrogate motherhood. Genetic surrogacy is when the surrogate is inseminated with sperm from the male. The surrogate will carry the child and has a genetic relationship to the child since she supplies both the egg and the womb. Gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate doesn’t have a genetic relationship. The infertile couple will remove eggs and sperm, and will have in vitro fertilization (IVF) performed. The embryo will then be implanted into the surrogate.

There are also two possible arrangements with surrogate motherhood. Commercial surrogacy is when either of these types of surrogacy are done for a fee. The surrogate mother will be reimbursed beyond medical expenditures. Altruistic surrogacy is the term used to describe a surrogate arrangement in which a fee is not paid.

What does the Bible say?

Even though the Bible never mentions IVF or any other reproductive technologies, it does give a few guidelines that can help us in this discussion. One that I will mention here is that the Bible establishes a clear definition for marriage and also says that procreation should happen inside of that relationship (Gen. 1-2). This definition would mean that any premarital or extramarital sexual relations are against God’s design. Even though the Bible does describe many relationships that went against God’s design for marriage and procreation, the Bible often describes historical events that are not prescriptive for us. Things in Scripture like surrogacy are often allowed but are never accepted as the best option.

This doesn’t mean that surrogacy is strictly forbidden in Scripture, because it’s not. All I’m saying is that we do see a difference between the biblical design for procreation and surrogacy with the addiction of the third-party contributor. This should cause us to spend more time thinking through the issue before jumping to a conclusion. However, this is also a public policy issue and doesn’t only raise theological questions.

Who is the mother?

The definition of “mother” has been blurred with the advancements in reproductive technologies, and this is a critically important definition in this debate. Is the mother the woman who gave birth to the child or the woman who donated her egg? If we define “mother” as the woman who gave birth, then the surrogate would be the mother in both types of surrogacy. If a genetic relationship is required to be a mother, then the surrogate is only a mother when genetic surrogacy is performed.

Either way we define mother, genetic surrogacy would then entail taking the child away from its mother. Is it ethical to intentionally enter into a surrogate relationship knowing the mother will hand the baby over the moment it’s born?

Gestational surrogacy would have different issues since the surrogate doesn’t have a genetic relationship to the child. This is exactly why it is critically important to get our definitions straight. Is the child being taken from its mother or not? What if we sign a contract establishing that the surrogate isn’t the mother?

Does signing a contract solve the issues?

There is an important principle that I constantly remind my high school ethics students: Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it. It is clear that something isn’t moral simply because it is possible. The same is true for surrogacy and signing a contract. Just because we can sign a contract stating that the surrogate will hand over the baby at birth doesn’t mean that she should do it. What do we do when the surrogate forms a connection with the child eight months into the pregnancy? In this situation, the surrogate would be forced to give up the child should she have second thoughts.

Should we see genetic surrogacy as an adoption process since the surrogate is the mother? Doesn’t a mother have the right to raise her child given that she wants the child and is a good mother? Does the idea of “renting a womb” turn procreation into a business deal? Simply creating a contract doesn’t make the moral issues disappear.

Is there a potential for exploitation?

Even though it is not common, commercial surrogacy does have a potential for exploitation. Some people may choose to be surrogates because they want to help an infertile couple while others may become surrogates to make money. Surrogates in the United States cost roughly $40,000 to $50,000. This is a big difference compared to surrogates in other countries that cost around $6,000 to $10,000. Should we be going to other countries in order to find poor women willing to be surrogates for a fraction of the price? How will this affect the lives of those women?

If allowed, should certain conditions be met?

Kim Kardashian has mentioned that she desired to be pregnant with her third child but was physically unable due to medical complications. Should surrogacy be seen as a last resort and reserved only for women who are physically unable to carry a child? What about a woman who is physically able to carry a child but is too busy to be pregnant?

Another condition that should be considered is the payment. Does the morality change between commercial and altruistic surrogacy when a payment is introduced? Will this change how we see children and pregnancy as a blessing and turn it into a business contract? Should a surrogate being paid to have a child she isn’t going to keep receive maternity leave?

Conclusion

There are other issues that could be discussed, but hopefully this is a good start to the discussion. The most important detail to remember is that a child’s worth is not based on how they were created. IVF, surrogacy, and other reproductive technologies don’t make a child any less valuable, and we cannot treat people differently based on how they were conceived. All human beings are created in the image of God and are intrinsically valuable. This is why we have to consider what the Bible says, the definition of a mother, contract issues, possible exploitation, and what conditions should be met if allowed. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is good. It is for this reason that we need to think through issues from a biblical worldview instead of being influenced only by culture.

What do you think about this issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Are Old Earth creationists ignorant of their faith?

Back in May I wrote a blog discussing the 10 points of agreement between the Old Earth and Young Earth positions. The blog was not designed or written in order to argue for one position or the other. The goal was to show that both positions hold to essential beliefs that line up with the Bible.

Even though I didn’t not argue for Old Earth creationism, I received comments critiquing that view. The comments seemed to suggest that I hold to Old Earth creationism and then began to show why I don’t have a consistent faith. After a few short responses to the comments, I decided not to respond anymore. I felt like the reader was not trying to understand my position, but instead, he was trying to prove me wrong even though I never took a side.

Since I think this is such an important issue I decided to respond on the podcast. We have to understand the difference between essential Christian doctrines that determine a person’s salvation and other beliefs that we can disagree on. Believing that Jesus rose from the dead and forgave our sins is much more important than our view of the age of the earth.

Listen here for my full comments as I go through the reader’s response and offer my thoughts.

What do you think of my response? Do you have further questions about the age of the earth, death before the fall, or a global or local flood? I will be talking about these in a future podcast, so please 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.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

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).

Is happiness a good test for truth?

This post first appeared at seanmcdowell.org.

You might think it’s an intrusion when strangers knock on the door. But when three Mormon missionaries showed up at my friend’s apartment, I excitedly ran down the stairs to talk to them. It’s not everyday that people ride bikes to your house to discuss truth, and evangelism doesn’t get much easier than that.

The elders asked us if we had read the Book of Mormon, and I mentioned that I own a copy. This raised their curiosity and excitement as they began to tell us about how Mormonism had changed their lives. One of the elders had just left Salt Lake City the previous week to start his mission. He stated that before arriving in Salt Lake City he had not been happy, but the training deepened his faith and made him happy again. This was a timely discussion, since I just wrote about whether or not our happiness is God’s priority.

When I talk with Mormons, I want to understand their worldview rather than immediately refuting it. I do this and deepen the conversation with questions like, Why are you Mormon? Have you always been Mormon? Why do you think Mormonism is true?

It’s true because it makes me happy!

One of the elders quickly jumped in and began to tell me that he had actually gone apostate and left the LDS church as a teenager. His life had become horrible and he wasn’t happy. He then began to search for the truth and that led him back to Mormonism, which made him happy again.

To make sure I understood correctly, I repeated back to him what I heard. I asked, “Are you saying that you were searching for truth and that Mormonism is true because it makes you happy?” He responded with an enthusiastic, “YES!” The conversation shifted to another topic, but I would have loved to ask him a few more questions. What would he say if I mentioned that not being Mormon made me happy? Would that mean Mormonism is false?

If you offend someone you are wrong.

This idea that happiness is a reliable truth-detector isn’t only found in Mormonism; it is also popular in our culture. Quick emotional decisions seem to suggest that truth is relative to the individual’s happiness rather than facts. If a belief makes a person happy, then who am I to say that their belief is wrong? Bringing up a contrary point might offend them. This might seem crazy to some of you, but this type of thinking has even crept into the church.

Summit Ministries and Barna teamed up on a recent study. Their study was designed to gauge how practicing Christians have been affected by other worldviews. They found that 29% of Christians under the age of 45 thought that if your beliefs offended someone or hurt their feelings, then you are wrong. This is a huge spike compared to only 8% of Christians over 45 years old believing this. These facts should open our eyes at how culture has affected our students. Many hold to a view of truth that is based on feelings and happiness. If this is true, then we are in big trouble.

However, we know that God has revealed himself to us in Scripture. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This doesn’t mean that Jesus is my truth or your truth. He isn’t only the truth if it makes me happy. Jesus is the truth! God is the foundation for objective truth, and it is in him that we can stand firm.

If the Mormon missionary standing at the door that night was right, then all we have is relative truth based on feelings. If this is true, then he must also affirm that Mormonism is false since that is what I believe, and I’m happy. It is logically impossible for Mormonism to both be true and false at the same time. Therefore, we know that one of us is wrong and truth can’t be based on feelings. If we can’t base truth on feelings, then how do we discover the truth? We will look at that in my future post.

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