Atlas Apologia (Formerly IDC)

Ep. 165: Ancient Greek in the Bible + Answering the Cosmic Skeptic

July 04, 2023 Aleko
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Speaker 1:

Welcome to the IDC podcast, your number one source for a fierce defense of the Christian gospel. This is Aleppo, and I hope you're doing well. So in today's episode we're going to continue our exploration of the 20 Greek words that you should know from the New Testament. Following that, we are going to respond to famed atheist Alex O'Connor, also known as the cosmic skeptic. He put out a video stating his definitive stance on why he does not believe in God, and I had a few thoughts I wanted to share on it. Finally, as many of you know, we got rid of our old website, cosmologylife, as I felt I wanted to update the URL And we finally have it is IDC podcastco. So if you head over to IDC podcastco, you'll see a bunch of links to our stuff, including the references list for the Pillars of Intelligent Design, as well as our mailing list sign up, which is where you can also say hello and get involved in the book club if you want to join us for our upcoming book in September, which is demonic foes by Richard Gallagher, and you can also see the link to our Etsy shop. We have one item. It's pretty pathetic, but it's a very cool item. It's something that I personally have hanging up in my room. I really enjoyed it. It's an image of Saint Athanasius and one of his famous quotes if the world is against the truth, then I am against the world. And again, one of my favorite early church father quotes. I just thought I'd had to put that up on my wall somehow And I thought maybe we'll just put this up on the Etsy shop. But there's more stuff to come as well. God Allowing will have some time to get the shop updated Without any further delay. Let's begin Alright. Last week we left off with the word commonly pronounced by English speakers as Numa, which is the spirit essentially, but in Greek is pronounced Nefma, and we're going to pick up with another word that is also commonly mispronounced. It's I think it's known as Charis or Charis. It's most English speakers. In Greek it would be Charis. Now I know that some people have mentioned that we're not exactly sure what the ancient Greek sounded like in terms of pronunciation, but we do have something called apostolic succession And we do have an organized church that currently uses these words and has been taught these words through quote, unquote apostolic succession. So the early church fathers going back to the pre Nicene Creed. So you know the Nicene Creed. A lot of people know it as the Apostles Creed. I believe in one, god the Father of the Almighty. That was written back in 325 at the Council of Nicea And going back before that, we had a lineage of church fathers who taught other church fathers, who taught other church fathers what we know as the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, and we see this liturgy in, or derivatives of this liturgy today in a lot of liturgical services. So there's a version of it in the Catholic service, there's a version of it in the Anglican service, i believe there's a really watered down version of it in the Lutheran service And the full version of it you can see in the Greek Orthodox service. That's that's the full Liturgy of St John Chrysostom And in order to perform that liturgy you need to be able to speak the ancient Greek And it's just something that's done And the way that priests today are taught, that is from priests before them, and priests did it before them taught them. And that's not to say that the pronunciation has been bastardized in some form, but this notion of apostolic secession goes all the way back to around the year 200 or 300. So you might be right. There could be some difference in the way the Greek is pronounced today versus how it was pronounced two millennium ago, but I would pause it a theory and suggest that for a number of reasons, it's pretty darn close, and the type of Greek that I'm talking about is known to many English speakers today as Koinia. In Greek it's pronounced kine, and if you want to look into it, it's a really interesting topic to get into. It will I'm not suggesting it would bring you any closer to God, as Christ himself says that pouring over the scriptures won't do that. Nothing will replace a relationship with the Christ, but it will enrich your experience and it will edify you in ways that you didn't think it would when you began learning it. So, alright, back to Chary's. So Chary's is commonly translated, or rather translated, as Grace, and it implies not only unmerited favor but also the divine empowerment to live a righteous life. Its meaning extends beyond forgiveness, in my opinion, and includes God's enabling presence. Chary's holds a significant place in the New Testament, particularly in the writings of the Apostle Paul, as well as other biblical authors. To be clear, it's apparent, in fact, in the peers 155 times in the Greek New Testament. Its frequency highlights its prominence and relevance in the biblical text. But we must note that Chary's is a multifaceted term with a range of interconnected meanings reflecting the richness and depth of the biblical message. So one of the primary meanings of Chary's is favor or grace. So in this sense it refers to the unmerited favor or goodwill shown by God toward humanity. Christians believe that God's grace is freely given, not earned or deserved, and is extended through Jesus Christ. This understanding of Chary's underscores the central theme of salvation and redemption in Christianity. Another aspect of Chary's relates to the concept of a gift or giftedness. So it signifies the spiritual gifts bestowed upon believers by the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church and the service of others. So these gifts, as many know, include things like prophecy, teaching, healing, leadership and various others. Christians are encouraged to use their gifts with humility and gratitude, recognizing that they are a manifestation of God's grace. Chary's is also associated with thankfulness and gratitude. Christians are called to express gratitude to God for his grace and to live a life of thankfulness. The awareness of God's grace cultivates a spirit of gratitude and fosters a desire to extend grace and kindness toward others. And lastly, chary's can connote divine enablement or empowerment. It highlights the transformative power of God's grace in the lives of believers. Christians believe that through God's grace they are empowered to live holy and righteous lives, to overcome challenges and to fulfill their God-given purpose. So the significance of Chary's for Christians is profound and far-reaching. It serves as a reminder of God's unmerited favor and love, providing assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The understanding of Chary's motivates Christians to respond with gratitude and to extend grace to others, and it also emphasizes the importance of recognizing and utilizing spiritual gifts for the benefit of the Church and the service of humanity. All right, our next word is Amartia. Amartia or I think it's I've heard it pronounced ha-martia or ha-marsha within an English-speaking church is often translated as sin, but Amartia originally referred to missing the target. While it encompasses moral wrongdoing, it also implies falling short of one's true purpose or potential, and it also suggests that the person was attempting to do the right thing. So not all wrong is Amartia, or rather sin, but rather this more leans toward someone who is trying to do the right thing but fell short, or maybe was tempted and made a mistake. And before anyone thinks that I'm implying that there is any wrong, that is okay. I'm not. There are just other words for it. So we have sin, we have transgression, we have wickedness, and all of those things seem to be conflated in modern Western theology, but they are different And it's important to know the difference. So I will be getting into those a little bit later on in this study. So back to Amartia. It finds its roots in the Greek word hamartano, which means to miss the mark or to err. In its biblical context, amartia refers to falling short of God's perfect standard and failing to live in accordance with his will. Amartia appears frequently throughout the Greek New Testament. For example, we have Romans 323, of all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This verse emphasizes the universality of sin among humanity, acknowledging that everyone, regardless of their status or righteousness, is subject to Amar Martia. It underscores the need for redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ as well. Verse John 1-8, if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. This passage encourages believers to acknowledge their own Amartia and humbly recognize their need for God's forgiveness. It reminds Christians to be honest about their imperfections and rely on God's chari s or grace. Romans 623, for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Here, amartia is associated with the consequence of death. It highlights the seriousness of sin and its separation from God. However, it also presents the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ, illustrating the significance of his redemptive work on the cross. Okay, the next word is pisteis, which usually translates to faith. Pisteis includes both belief and trust as well. It involves an active, confident reliance on God and not merely intellectual ascent. So the study of pisteis is one of my favorite, and I've heard some incredible expositors discuss this. One of my favorite verses is in Hebrews 4.16. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need, without losing reverent humility and acknowledging that God is God and not treating Him like a buddy, but rather like the all-creating Father. What we're encouraged to do here in this verse is to approach Him with boldness, and I once heard somebody say something really interesting about that. That boldness isn't us elevating ourselves to the level of God and trying to pat Him on the back, as I see some churches doing these days, but rather the way a young kid would come into his parents' kitchen and take, say, for example, milk from the refrigerator or maybe a piece of fruit like an apple off of the table. There's no question that the child has his role and the parents are still in their role, and the child is by no means telling the parents what to do. But that gift, the food that is there the milk or the fruit or whatever it might be is there for them to take And the parent wants them to have, it, wants the child to take that food. So the concept of piste so rather faith is the knowledge that it's there for you to take And by doing God's will we are more or less granted access to that kitchen and we are allowed to take that fruit And you don't have to think about it, you just do it. And that's that confidence that you have that piste and steels, that faith that when we open that fridge we're allowed to take the milk and we won't be in trouble or we don't have to beg for it the same way Christ did. But also note that there's more to it than that. I don't want to engage in reductionism. Christ does say that taking that milk, so to speak, or rather being granted access to God's favor and being given the gifts of the Spirit very much involves a relationship first. Right Christ has seek the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you. Christ also says this kind comes about, and when He says this kind He's referring to miracles. This kind comes about with prayer and fasting. Right Relationship is required. You have to have that relationship first. But when we have that relationship we have the confidence to come before God and just ask for something. And I have seen that in a real time. It's quite incredible to see somebody perform the gifts of the Spirit in terms of miracle, healing and whatever else it might be, with confidence, with the bold assertion that God will help when we call upon Him because we have a relationship with Him. So this concept is taken a step further in Romans 3.22,. The righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, to all who believe Now. So believe, in Greek, is a dynamic concept. It's not just merely a something that you do with your mind, it's also something that's tethered quite heavily to your actions. So belief is not merely something you blurt out in a church or something you think about, but rather, as James suggests in the New Testament, something that walks hand in hand with action. So belief is a very dynamic thing. In Ephesians 2.8,. Forward is by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Here Pistis underscores the instrumental role faith plays in receiving God's grace and salvation. Hebrews 11.1,. Now, faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see. So, of course, this verse provides a concise definition of Pistis, highlighting its role as a confident trust in God's promises, much like the child going to take the milk from the refrigerator. And then finally, as I had alluded to earlier, james 2.14,. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but no deeds can such faith save them? This verse demonstrates that true Pistis is not merely a theoretical belief but is accompanied by actions and works of love. Alright, the next word is Sotiria, which is commonly rendered as salvation. Sotiria signifies deliverance, preservation and wholeness. It encompasses the spiritual, physical and emotional aspects of redemption. So it's a significant Greek word that appears in the New Testament. It derives from the Greek word Sotir, which means savior or deliverer. So it appears 45 times in the Greek New Testament and some of its significant appearances would be, for example, luke 2.30. So Simeon blesses the infant Jesus, declaring that he has seen God's salvation, sotiria, which was prepared in the presence of all people. In Acts 4.12, peter, speaking before the Jewish leaders, proclaims that there is no other name under heaven by which people can be saved, sotiria, except through Jesus Christ. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians I think it's in 2.8, he emphasizes that salvation, sotiria, is a gift of God's grace through faith and not based on one's works of the law. And in 1 Timothy, 2.4, paul writes to Timothy, expressing God's desire for all people to be saved, sotiria, and to come to the knowledge of truth. Okay, the last word for today and this is number 10 of the 20 that I want to cover, so we're going to do this in another podcast as well is the dinamis, which is commonly known in Western churches as dunamis. Dinamis means strength or power, rather, so the dinamis often is used to depict displays of supernatural power, emphasizing divine authority and ability of God. Examples include the miracles performed by Christ, where his power is evident in healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons. So the concept of dinamis became significantly important to me, especially in the past 10 years. I think a lot of Christians or people who are exploring belief are unknowingly cessationists, where they believe that miracles can happen and they believe that you know, but it's somewhere in the background And they think that you know prayers can be answered. But a lot of prayers is more about positive wishful thinking and perhaps even the placebo effect to institutional believers. But it was when I witnessed people who were believers in Christ lay their hands on others and heal them in the name of Christ, and when such a thing happened to me that I realized that the Namis is exactly what it says it is. It is true power that is given to the believers, and it's where we find the root of the word, the English word dynamite. It's explosive, it works and it's a real thing. So, for example, in Acts 1-8, jesus promises his disciples that they will receive power, the Namis and the Holy Spirit comes upon them, enabling them to be witnesses for him. This empowerment by the Holy Spirit is evident throughout the book of the Acts, as the early Christians boldly proclaim the gospel and perform signs and wonders in his name. We see a continuation of this through the writings of the early church fathers and we also see it in history peppered throughout the church. One good book to pick up on this this topic is Miracles by Craig Keener, where we see people performing miracles all throughout history in the name of Christ, and he also covers some other claims to miracles outside of Christianity. But it is a very fascinating book. It's over a thousand pages and we read it in the book club maybe a year or two ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I recommend that you pick that up. So, beyond supernatural acts, the Namis is associated with the power to transform lives. In Romans 1-16, paul states that the gospel is quote the power, the Namis of God for salvation. It signifies the inherent ability of the gospel to bring about radical change in individuals, liberating them from sin and reconciling them with God. So the occurrences of the Namis emphasize the omnipotent power of God, assuring Christians that nothing is beyond his ability or control. This understanding fosters trust, reliance and hope in God's provision and intervention. So, in essence, the, the Namis of the gospel, carries the power to transform lives, offer hope, forgiveness, the gifts of the spirit and salvation. It is the catalyst for spiritual rebirth, enabling believers to experience a newness of life in Christ and participate in his redemptive work. So Alex O'Connor is the founder of the Cosmic Skeptic YouTube channel. He's also a podcaster and a blogger, and all of his platforms are dedicated to the publication of atheist philosophical ideas and the debates that he has with theists over his stance. So he's a graduate of philosophy and theology from St John's College. Go figure. He studied theology intentionally, with the desire to pick apart as many arguments as he could. So he also went to Oxford University and he's an international public speaker and debater at this time, having delivered addresses across multiple continents and conferences, universities and local drinking groups, as put by him. So my nephew, liam, who has been a significant contributor to this podcast, has actually met him in person a few times at local atheist and theist debate sessions and I guess you would call them meeting groups and found him to be quite interesting and, in my opinion, at some point will become the arch nemesis of Alex, as Liam in many ways is his counterpart. On the other side of the coin, he's a theist, he graduated from Cambridge, not Oxford, and he has a lot to say on the matter, but he's still lying and waiting to to come out and become the, the apologist. We all know that he'll be, but I'm looking forward to that. But, that being said, alex recently put out a video on YouTube that is a snippet from a debate that he had with Dr Jonathan McClatchy at Sadler College in Boston, massachusetts, and the debate was theism or naturalism, which provides a better account of reality. So to summarize Alex's points and I recommend you go and watch the video so I don't straw man what he's done here but to summarize his three major points he leveraged first, why would a good God allow for evil? Second, why are people not naturally inclined to see God? and third, the argument for naturalism as opposed to theism is far more simple, and naturalism, of course, is suggesting that everything in the cosmos came from nothingness, as opposed to an all-powerful divine being. So these are things that I've discussed many times before. A lot of this can be addressed in my book, the Pillars of Intelligent Design, which is on episode 137 of this podcast and on audible. I've also maybe touched on some of these other things in separate podcasts, like the Reason for Evil, which I believe is the title of an episode I did just recently, maybe three or four podcasts back, but let's go over them in in summary format. So the first is why would a good God allow for evil. The theistic argument for the existence of evil is an attempt to reconcile the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing and benevolent God with the presence of evil and suffering in the world. So this argument acknowledges the existence of evil and attempts to provide a theistic explanation for its presence. It's often referred to as the problem of evil in philosophical and theological discourse. So the argument can be outlined as follows First, god is all-powerful, omnipotent, all-knowing, omniscient and all good, omnibenevolent. Second, evil and suffering exist in the world. Third, if God is all-powerful, he is able to eliminate evil. Fourth, if God is all-, knowing, he is aware of the existence of evil. Fifth, if God is all good, he desires to eliminate evil. Sixth, therefore, if God exists, there should be no evil or suffering in the world. Finally, seventh, since evil and suffering do exist, it seems to contradict the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God. So this is an argument that is trotted out by many freshman year humanities, major college students and their impressionable friends, who want to be able to explicate a pithy point in a subject they're not learning. Perhaps It's atheist philosophy 101, and it's an easy one to dispute. As I've said before, i go into a little more detail on this particular topic in the episode The Reason for Evil, which was about three or four episodes ago. So the first point to make is the contradiction only exists because somebody says there's a contradiction. If you change your perspective, there is no contradiction here. And of course, the contradiction I'm talking about is why would evil exist if an all-good God exists simultaneously, right? So the first thing that we need to note is free will. One explanation is that God has given humans free will, which includes the ability to choose between good and evil. Evil and suffering result from the misuse or abuse of free will by humans. For example, a person who chooses to commit a crime causes suffering to others. The second point is what one might call soul building. So another argument suggests that evil and suffering serve a purpose in developing and refining human character. Through facing and overcoming challenges, individuals can grow morally, emotionally and spiritually. Difficult experiences such as loss, illness or adversity can lead to personal growth and the development of virtues such as empathy, compassion and resilience. And when you consider the fact that our time on earth is a blip in the scheme of eternity, and when you consider what our Christ says about the treasures that await us in heaven and what people who have experienced NDE's say about what awaits us in the heavenly realms. Then you realize that the moment of suffering that we experience on earth, that grain of sand compared to the cosmos, is really nothing at all. And that doesn't demonetize what kind of suffering people go through. I've seen it myself and it's quite awful, it's horrible, and I would never try to belittle that. But what I would say is comparatively it's nothing And you might take away something wonderful from it. I personally have grown from loss and pain, as I'm sure billions of other people have. But there's definitely a mature perspective of it and there's an immature perspective. The mature would be I've learned something from this and I'm going to teach others based on what I've learned. And the immature would be why is this happening to me? And don't get me wrong, many people have that sort of knee-jerk reaction. Why is this happening to me? It's natural, especially when it's a first-time thing. Gosh, do I deserve this? But we know, based on what our Christ has taught us, that this is nothing. This is all for growth. The third reason ties into the soul building, but is a little bit of a larger scale. It's what we call theodicy. In theodicy, god permits evil in order to achieve greater goods or to prevent even greater evils. So, for example, the existence of pain and suffering might contribute to a greater balance of more responsibility, the preservation of human free will or the prevention of a worse outcome. One of those is an entire narrative arc throughout the Old Testament where there are indeed holy wars And God asks the Jews to wipe out a certain people. If you recall, all throughout the Old Testament, the forces of evil are trying to blot out the bloodline of the Messiah, from the beginning of Genesis all the way to the end of the prophets. And there are evils that are allowed in the Old Testament to allow for the bloodline of the Messiah to remain pure all the way until the New Testament. And, of course, all of that changes. There's no more holy war at the time of the New Covenant, but it is an evil that is allowed in order to create a greater good. Alright, moving on from this point, we're going to go to the second, made by the cosmic skeptic. Why are people not naturally inclined to see God? So, alison Gopnik, a developmental psychologist and philosopher, has conducted extensive research on children's cognitive development and their understanding of the world, and very important to note is that her work has been done at Berkeley University and she is a staunch materialist and atheist. In her work, she has explored the fascinating phenomena of children as young as five invoking God to explain various aspects of the world around them, even children brought up by other atheists. Gopnik's research suggests that children's inclination to invoke God as an explanatory agent stems from their cognitive tendencies to search for purpose and meaning in the events they encounter. And in these studies. When faced with a complex or unexplained phenomena, children often resort to invoking a supernatural entity like God to provide a sense of understanding and order. For example, in one study, gopnik and her colleagues presented children with different scenarios involving natural phenomena, such as the origin of the sun or the cause of thunderstorms. They found that children were more likely to attribute these phenomena to a purposeful agent such as God, rather than relying on scientific or causal explanations. Now, when you consider the cosmological proof for God in philosophy, which stems from Aristotle, you realize that, based on this profound perspective of God, the Creator, we can posit that God is at any given moment, at any point in history, in control of every single atom in the universe. Then you realize that a child's perspective of the true causal agent of something as simple as a rainstorm really isn't that far from the mark. Now, taking this a step further, the book Born Believers by Justin Barrett takes a broader perspective on the innate inclination to believe in God. Barrett, who is an experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist, argues that humans possess a natural cognitive predisposition to believe in God. According to Barrett, our cognitive architecture is conducive to accepting belief in the invisible. Barrett's work draws on various cross-cultural studies and developmental research indicating that children from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to develop beliefs in supernatural beings at an early age, even without explicit religious instruction. This suggests a universal cognitive inclination toward supernatural belief, and we know that the idea of children seeing spiritual beings everywhere is congruent with Scripture, considering the fact that it says that we are surrounded by an innumerable cloud of witnesses. All right, let's get into Alex O'Connor's third and final point, which was the argument for naturalism as opposed to theism, is far more simple, and what he's suggesting is the belief that material cosmos in violation of entropy, thermodynamic equilibrium, constant coming into existence out of nothingness, absolute nothingness, is far more easy to believe than the idea of Aristotle's uncaused cause, the root of everything, our God Right. He suggests that life popping into existence again against the laws of entropy and innumerable hurdles that it would have had to have overcome, is far more simple than the idea of God breathing it into existence, especially considering the idea that the cosmos as we know it is replete with evidence of intelligent design. So divine simplicity is a theological concept that asserts that God is a simple being devoid of any composition or complexity. It is often associated with the classical theism and has been expounded upon by various philosophers and theologian throughout history. The one I prefer to lean on, just because I'm comfortable with him and I know his stance, is his Edward phasor, and he's a contemporary philosopher and thomist, meaning he leans on Thomas Aquinas' work, which was built off of Aristotle's work and the Bible, and he presents the idea of divine simplicity as one of the essential aspects of his arguments for the existence of God in his book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, which our book club, the IDC podcast book club, read two years ago now, i believe, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. So in phasor's work, divine simplicity is presented as a metaphysical principle rooted in the thought of the medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas. According to divine simplicity, god is not composed of parts or attributes in the way that ordinary objects or beings are. Instead, god is pure act, without any potentiality or limitations. This means God is not a combination of various properties or aspects, but is instead identical with his attributes. In other words, god's attributes are not separate components that make up his nature, but are identical to his essence. So phasor argues that divine simplicity is necessary to avoid a regress of explanations. If God were composed of distinct parts or attributes, each part would require an explanation for its existence, leading to an infinite regress. By positing divine simplicity, phasor maintains that God's existence and attributes are ultimately grounded in himself, eliminating the need for an external explanation. According to phasor, divine simplicity also allows for God's perfect unity and transcendence. If God were composed of distinct parts or attributes, there would be a potential for conflict or division within God's nature. However, by being absolutely simple, god is completely unified and free from any internal conflicts or limitations. Moreover, phasor argues that divine simplicity is essential for God's status as the ultimate cause and source of all reality. If God were composed of parts or attributes, it would imply that there is something prior or more fundamental than God that explains his existence. However, divine simplicity ensures that God is the ultimate ground of all being and existence. His nature is not contingent on anything else. So, in summary, according to phasor's work, divine simplicity is a theological concept that asserts God is a simple being without any composition or complexity. God's attributes are not separate components, but identical to his essence, and divine simplicity is crucial for avoiding an infinite regress of explanation, maintaining God's perfect unity and establishing God as the ultimate source of all reality. So, to tie it up with a bow, the theistic explanation is far more simple than the materialistic explanation, which would have required a number of miracles that I'm not willing to believe in. And with that I conclude my argument. So I hope you all have a great week ahead, god bless.

Exploring Greek Words in Christianity
Exploring Biblical Concepts
Namis and Atheist Debates
Divine Simplicity and God's Attributes