Friday, November 27, 2009

Worldview Course for High School Students [SK]

Since August 31, Jay Watts, Megan Almon, and yours truly have been teaching a one-year course in apologetics at a Christian school co-op. Here's a rough outline of what we covered this semester (we modified a few things to match student ability), along with a peak of what is coming next semester.

Semester #1: Foundations--Five Questions to Answer Before College
(Scott Klusendorf, Jay Watts, Megan Almon)

Books: Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture; Ken Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth Claims to the Worldview Test; Jonathan Morrow, Welcome to College: A Christ Follower's Guide for the Journey.

Introduction (August 31): Jay Watts sets the stage w/ a role play (“Jay the atheist”)

Question I:. What Makes Humans Valuable? Resolving Debates over Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, and Cloning.

Session #1: Clarifying the Debate Part 1 (Case for Life, introduction and pp. 19-47)

Session #2: Clarifying the Debate Part 2 (CFL pp. 50-88)

Session #3: Establishing a Foundation Part 1: Name my Claim (CFL, pp. 91-110)

Session #4: Establishing a Foundation Part 2: Does God Matter? (CFL, pp. 111-133)

Session #5: Establishing a Foundation Part 3: Is the Bible Silent? (CFL, pp. 135-145, 205-224)

Session #6: Answering Objections Persuasively Part 1: Columbo Tactic (CFL, pp. 149-171)

Session #7: Answering Objections Persuasively Part 2: Bad Ways to Argue (CFL, pp. 173-201)

Question II: Is Truth True? Why Relativism and Postmodernism Can’t Explain Our World

Session #8: The Case Against Post-Modernism (Handout plus Welcome to College, pp. 19-59)

Session #9: The Case Against Relativism (Handout plus WTC, pp. 62-70, 111-116 and Koukl/Beckwith "Relativism" DVD)

Question III: How Do I Get Out of the Hotseat?

Session #10: Columbo Tactic Revisited Part 1 (Handout and workbook provided by teacher)

Session #11: Columbo Tactic Revisited Part 2 (Handout and workbook assigned readings)

Question IV: Does God Matter? (Or, Am I Just Matter?—And Why Does it Matter?)

Session #12: Debate: “Does God Exist?” Part 1: Craig vs. Hitchens (WTC, pp. 97-125, 143-149)

Session #13: Debate: “Does God Exist?” Part 2: Craig vs. Hitchens (Handout)

Question V: Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

Session #14: The Case for resurrection--Did Christians borrow the idea of resurrection? (WTC pp. 127-142, CFL pp. 125-30)

Session #15: What 1 Cor. 15 Teaches us About Resurrection

Here's a sneak preview of the reading topics for next semester:

Semester #2: Confident Christianity: Can My Faith Compete in the Real World? (That Is, How Does it Stack Up Against Other Worldviews?)

The Big Idea: In addition to teaching the basic rules of logic, Ken Samples explores the Christian worldview then evaluates it in light of four competing views: 1) naturalism, 2) postmodernism, 3) pantheism, and 4) Islam. He uses up to 9 distinct tests to assess each worldview:

1. Coherence test: Is this worldview logically consistent?
2. Explanatory power test: How well does this worldview make sense of reality?
3. Existential test: Does this view adequately address the internal needs of man?
4. Balance test: Is this worldview properly balanced between simplicity and complexity?
5. Correspondence test: Does this worldview correspond with empirical facts and a person’s experience in the world?
6. Verification test: Can the central truth claims of the worldview be verified of falsified?
7. Pragmatic test: Does the worldview promote relevant, practical, and workable results?
8. Cumulative test: Do multiple lines of evidence support this particular worldview?
9. Competitive competence test: Can this worldview successfully compete in the marketplace of ideas?

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Developing a Worldview Perspective:

1. Shades of Reality (What is a worldview?)
2. Testable Truth (How to evaluate worldviews)
3. Logic 101 and Christian truth
4. Straight thinking (How to avoid fallacious thinking)

Part 2: Exploring the Christian Worldview:

5. A Christian Vision of Truth, Knowledge, and History
6. A Soldier’s Creed (Essential Christian doctrines)
7. God’s Written Word—Scripture (How we got our Bible, etc.)
8. The Historic Christian View of God
9. God’s World—Creation and Providence (and why those ideas impact everything else)
10. The Historic Christian View of Man
11. The Historic Christian View of Moral Values

Part 3: Evaluating Worldview Competitors:

12. Naturalism: A Secular Worldview Challenge
13. Postmodernism: A Skeptical Worldview Perspective
14. Pantheistic Monism: An Eastern worldview Perspective
15. Islam: A Radical Monotheistic Challenge
16. Testing the Christian Theistic Worldview

In addtion, we'll do selected readings from Jonathan Morrow, Welcome to College: A Christ Follower’s Guide for the Journey (Grand Rapids: Kagel, 2008):

1. Preparing for Campus Life
2. Think Christianly: Cultivating a Christian Worldview
3. Getting Theological: Knowing and Loving God
4. Blinded by Faith?
5. Can we Know Anything at All?
6. Wanted—Seekers of Truth
7. A Moral Disaster: Why Moral Relativism is a Bad Idea
8. True Tolerance: Tolerance Just Ain’t What it Used to Be
9. How to Read the Bible (Supplement w/ Koukl’s booklet)
10. Can I Trust the Bible?
11. Knowing vs. Sharing Your Faith
12. No Apologies Needed
13. The Existence of God: God is There and is not Silent
14. Do All Roads Lead to God?
15. The Problem of Evil and Suffering
16. Thirty One Flavors of Jesus
17. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
18. Science Rules!
19. Designed or Not Designed?
20. Dealing with Doubt
21. Good News to Share

(We’ll also consider selected readings from chapters 22 through 42 as needed, as well as supplemental STR and Reasonable Faith material.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Surrender is Not an Option: The State of the Health Care Debate [SK]

Regarding last Saturday's Senate vote to allow debate on Reid's health care bill, I posted the following over at the blog of Doug Groothuis:

I share your frustration, but the legislative battle is by no means lost. As former Senator Rick Santorum points out, the vote to move forward with debate was inevitable. No majority party is ever going to deny their leader the chance to debate his very own bill. I agree with Santorum: Conservatives put way too much emphasis on this one vote, thus demoralizing our troops when debate was allowed.

However, just because members vote to allow debate does not mean they will vote to close it. In this case, four members of Reid's own party are on record saying they will not vote for cloture on the current Senate bill and Lieberman has said "no way" will he allow a public option. Meanwhile, liberal Dems are saying they will scuttle the bill if it doesn't have one. To make matters worse, Ben nelson has said "no" to any bill that allows abortion funding while many of his lefty colleagues have said "no" if it doesn't. Thus, Reid has a real mess on his hands.

Personally, I think Lieberman is the key. If he is telling us the truth that a public option in any form is unacceptable, the current bill is dead. Nelson might be swayed into going along with a Capp's style amendment (which, unlike the Stupak language, does NOT foreclose on abortion funding, but pretends to), but that still leaves Reid with the Lieberman problem on his right, and the fanatical lib problem on his left.

But let's suppose the bill does get out of the Senate. You still have 19 Dem House members on record saying they will vote against it if the Stupak language is removed. That's precisely why Pelosi had to allow it in the first place.

In short, this thing is not over. Surrender is not an option. Please pass the word along.

PS--Doug's blog is stellar, so please check it for updates.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Fat Chance

One of the most promising scientific advancements of the last few years in any area of research has been the success of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS). We have talked about it (here) before but, as a reminder, IPS harvests adult skin cells from the patient who requires therapy and induces those cells to return to pluripotency -- a state from which they can be coaxed into becoming almost any other kind of cell. The therapeutic value of pluripotent cells is enormously encouraging.

The beauty of this kind of research is that it honors the concerns of everyone involved in the debate on stem cell research. Not only does IPS show therapeutic promise but, more importantly, it does so without causing the morally troubling destruction of human embryos. For that reason IPS truly is the kind of win-win solution that anyone concerned about bioethical issues should be seeking.

And the future just got brighter.

In August, Stanford University surgeon Michael Longaker and cardiologist Joseph Wu teamed up to induce pluripotent stem cells from a quart of fat they had extracted from a liposuction patient. That’s right, these two researchers found a way to turn fat into a stem-cell therapy. Not only so, but transforming the fat cells into IPS cells took just 20 days -- as compared to the 8 weeks it took to do the same from skin cells -- and the process yielded 20 times the number of IPS cells.

Here’s what bothers me about this story: I read about it in the December issue of Popular Science magazine.

With the exception of a one-paragraph blurb in U.S. News and a short news release from Reuters, I could not find any mention of this breakthrough in the mainstream news media. I certainly did not hear or see any politician from either party tout it as a new way to seek common ground on the bioethical battlefield. There have been no news conferences called to announce federal funding for a program that will seek to promote this kind of therapy. I haven't even heard funding of this research offered as an amendment to the health care bill.

It is a mystery to me how anyone who is dedicated to promoting cures for disease, who cares at all about the destruction of human embryos, or who is truly seeking any kind of "common ground" where these issues are concerned, could fail to revel in a story like this one and shout about it from the mountaintops.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Life Training Institute experienced many changes in 2009, but most of that change was felt behind the scenes. Starting on January 1st of 2010, the growth will be visible for everyone to see.

Scott has a vision for a larger ministry, and we are striving to meet this challenge. In addition to all of Scott's materials currently available, the new site will be adding full articles in response to questions and updates from the road on presentations and debates. Dr. Rich Poupard (aka Serge) will continue to produce LTI Podcasts, and we are working on plans to build on those with a series focused on an evaluation of the pro-life movement through articles and panel discussions by the LTI team and some special guests. We will also be growing the list of available LTI speakers to include Dr. Rich Poupard, Bob Perry, Megan Almon, and the new Vice President of Development & Communications Jay Watts (that's me).

All of these changes are implemented for one purpose; to serve our community, the church, and the body of Christ by committing ourselves to a fuller realization of the mission of LTI.

We are excited about what the future holds for this ministry. One thing is for certain, under Scott's continued leadership we will strive to produce quality resources for those who are called and convicted to defend the value of all human life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

LTI Podcast #21 - Sex, Lies, and Abortion Part 2 [Serge]

LTI Podcast #21 - Sex, Lies, and Abortion Part 2 In this podcast, Rich, Jay, and Bob continue their discussion about Dinesh D'Souza's article in Christianity Today. Are pro-lifers afraid of sexuality? We also get support for continuing to emphasize the humanity of the unborn from an unlikely source. Rich continues his series on cognitive dissonance by investigating informed consent by minors. You need your parent's permission to leave a school in California to get a beverage, but do not need it to leave campus to get an abortion.