‘What is it that makes a person great, admirable among creatures, and well pleasing in God’s eye? What is it that makes a person strong, stronger than the whole world, or so weak as to be weaker than a child? What is it that makes a person firm, firmer than a cliff, or yet so soft as to be softer than wax? It is love. What is older than everything? It is love. What outlives everything? It is love. What is it that cannot be taken away but itself gives it all? It is love. What is it that cannot be given but itself gives everything? It is love. What is it that stands fast when everything falters? It is love. What is it that comforts when other comforts fail? It is love. What is it that remains when everything is changed? It is love. What is it that abides when what is imperfect is done away with? It is love. What is it that bears witness when prophecy is dumb? It is love. What is it that does not cease when visions come to an end? It is love. What is it that makes everything clear when the dark saying has been spoken? It is love. What is it that bestows a blessing on the excess of the gift? It is love. What is it that gives pith to an angels speech? It is love. What is it that makes the widows mite more than enough? It is love. What is it that makes the speech of the simple person wise? It is love. What is it that never alters, even if all things alter? It is love. (Soren Kierkegaard, ‘Spiritual Writings’, p. 227-228)
Here’s some short videos by Mike Licona on the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, each dealing with a different common objection:
These are good brief overviews of an historical approach that’s seen a lot of attention recently – N.T. Wright, Greg Boyd and Mike Licona are just a few of the bigger names doing quality historical research on the Resurrection. Here’s a few good books dealing with the same topic:
Here Alvin Plantinga presents and defends his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism with/against Stephen Law, himself not a theist. A fascinating argument and a fascinating discussion well worth your time.
Roughly speaking, the EAAN has its roots in C.S. Lewis’s book ‘Miracles’ where he states that naturalism undercuts its own justification. Plantinga has developed it into a fairly formidable argument.
‘Naturalistic evolution gives its adherents a reason for doubting that our beliefs are mostly true; perhaps they are mostly mistaken; for the very reason for mistrusting our cognitive facultiesgenerally, will be a reason for mistrusting the faculties that produce belief in the goodness of the argument.’
– Alvin Plantinga – taken from http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/an-evolutionary-argument-against-naturalism.htm – an outline of a lecture Plantinga gave on the argument. Again, well worth reading. It’s fairly technical but provides good context for the argument.
‘For indeed Christianity was complicit in the death of antiquity, and in the birth of modernity, not because it was an accomplice of the latter, but because it, alone in the history of the West, constituted a rejection of and alternative to nihilism’s despair, violence, and idolatry of power; as such, Christianity shattered the imposing and enchanting facade behind which nihilism once hid, and thereby, inadvertently, called it forth into the open.’
― David Bentley Hart
’Only someone who is religious can speak seriously of the sacred, but such talk informs the thought of most of us whether or not we are religious, for it shapes our thoughts about the way in which human beings limit our will as does nothing else in nature. If we are not religious, we will often search for one of the inadequate expressions which are available to us to say what we hope will be a secular equivalent of it. We may say that all human beings are inestimably precious, that they are ends in themselves, that they are owed unconditional respect, that they possess inalienable rights, and, of course, that they possess inalienable dignity. In my judgement these are ways of trying to say what we feel a need to say when we are estranged from the conceptual resources we need to say it. Be that as it may: each of them is problematic and contentious. Not one of them has the simple power of the religious ways of speaking.
Where does that power come from. Not, I am quite sure, from esoteric theological or philosophical elaborations of what it means for something to be sacred. It derives from the unashamedly anthropomorphic character of the claim that we are sacred because God loves us, his children. (Raimon Gaita, ‘Thinking about Love and Truth and Justice,’ p. 23-24, quoted in ‘Justice: Rights and Wrongs’, by Nicholas Wolterstorff, p.324-325)
Gaita is not himself a theist – but this is an interesting observation. I do think that Christian theism can offer the most solid account of rights/justice/ethics, and that while there are secular accounts, most of them seem to fail at providing a solid grounding.
The above has the feeling of someone who has taken seriously the thought of people like Nietzsche and has the consistency to see the consequences of such thinking. Religious thought, and in particular Christian thought, seems to offer the strongest and most powerful account of human worth, rights and justice.
“What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns with without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God.”
– St. Isaac the Syrian
I really do think Pascal is one of the brightest thinkers in the Christian tradition. I’ve not seen too many other apologists who tackle big problems head on like Pascal – for instance, the hiddeness of God (see the ‘Pascal’ category for my thoughts on his famous wager). I think that if Pascal’s style of thinking were taken more seriously, Christianity might be in a better place.