Adelaide Chapter

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Does Religion Cause Wars? The short answer is: “Yes and No”. Consider the type of person who rhetorically asks this question and who answers passionately in the affirmative. Such zealots nearly always focus on Christianity rather than religion in general, and ignore their own religion. What is meant by “Religion”? It needs careful definition.

People who claim to be Christian have caused wars. So have people of other religions, e.g. Islam, Buddhism. People who claim to have no religion have also caused wars. Is there an identifier of all the people who have caused wars? And, if there is, what can we do about it?

The real question is: What can be done to eliminate wars? Is it even possible?

Geoff’s talk is available on YouTube.

Geoff Russell

Geoff Russell was a professional electrical engineer. He has a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from the University of Adelaide, a post-graduate Diploma in Engineering & Computer Applications and an Associate in Theology from the Bible College of South Australia. Geoff now lives in Warrnambool and is now an Associate Pastor at a local Baptist Church and the Chaplain at the Warrnambool Campus of Deakin University.

The Bible describes events that have certain geographical implications. This results in some debate that require interpretations.

  • In 1858 when Antonio Snider-Pelligrini produced his global map of a super-continent he was mocked by scholars but his theory led to more helpful investigations.
  • When the Apostle Paul addressed the scholars in Athens he appealed to the claim that the true God was the creator of the world and who founded the early nations and their regions. What is the evidence for this claim outside the Bible?
  • Defining the route of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their 40 years of wandering has many candidates. Are there some clues for the required logic?
  • Archaeology and topographic logic can be used to identify many of the sites of biblical Israel. Even today this topic causes passionate responses among scholars and politicians.
  • The New Testament describes key events in the life of Jesus. Where are some of the important locations?
  • The Apostle John was given a profound geographical description of the final destiny of the earth. Is it real or a surreal imagination?

Trevor’s talk is availale on YouTube.

Trevor Harris has an Honours degree in Architecture and a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He has practiced in these areas for 45 years. Twenty years ago he formed a company Key-line Christian Research dedicated to identifying and researching Bible sites and their history. This has included extensive field trips to the Middle East.

C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and Anglican lay theologian. He was a gifted academic and held positions in English literature at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He is best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he is also noted for his other works of fiction, such as The Screwtape Letters and The Space Trilogy. He is also well known for his works on Christian apologetics, including Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

Lewis became an atheist in his teens. However, in his 30s he converted to Christianity under the influence of J.R. Tolkien, author of ‘Lord of the rings’. Lewis described himself as “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Lewis had a particular style of apologetics. His Christian world view infects most of his fictional works, but his explicit main arguments for Christian belief were arguments from desire, reasoning, and morality. Are these still effective today?

Ken’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

Ken Samples

Kenneth Richard Samples earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his M.A. in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. He is a senior research scholar at Reasons To Believe (RTB). He uses his knowledge to help others find the answers to life’s questions and encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges sceptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level.

Bethlehem features in a number of Old Testament events which have prophetic significance. It is the setting of the Christmas story which is celebrated by many millions world-wide.

Bethlehem is now a Palestinian town that is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims to visit. The sacred sites include:

  • The City of David (historic) with its wells,
  • The Church of the Nativity (built on Jesus’ birth location),
  • The Shepherd’s Field (2 contested sites),
  • The Field of Boaz, and
  • Rachael’s tomb (under Israeli control).

What is the evidence for these locations? In 135 AD the Romans established a pagan shrine and grove over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. This site has a fascinating history – so is it correct? The other sites of Bethlehem also have controversy, so how likely are they genuine?

Trevor Harris has visited Bethlehem six times and has investigated these sites. He will present and assess the evidence.

Trevor Harris

Trevor’s presentation is available on YouTube.

In the first century Christianity (especially in the person of Jesus) raised the status of women dramatically in comparison with the prevailing Greek, Roman and Jewish cultures. Women played a key role in the rise of Christianity within the Roman empire. In fact, Christianity was mocked for being a religion filled with women.

However, some of the contemporary cultural male/female roles and practices (such as head coverings) were maintained, which now seem out of touch with modern egalitarian western views, especially those arising from the feminist movement. This is sometimes an object of ridicule that may cause some to dismiss Christianity as old-fashioned and irrelevant. So, is there an essential difference between a Biblical view and modern western values? If so, who is right?

The topics that will be discussed are:

  • What is sexism?
  • What were the cultural influences in the 1st century?
  • What does Genesis say?
  • How were women viewed in the Old Testament?
  • How did Jesus treat women?
  • What were Paul’s views on the role of women?
  • Are they still applicable?
  • How should we respond?

I would have preferred that this topic be presented by a woman, but I am the only one who has put their hand up so far; and I happen to be a man.

Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide and is a member of Ingle Farm Baptist Church. He is also an engineering researcher and research supervisor at the University of South Australia.

Dr Kevin Rogers

Kevin’s presentation is available on YouTube.

When Paul arrived in Athens (Acts 17: 16-32), a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him, and they gave Paul the opportunity to speak to the Athenians in the Areopagus. For the previous 450 years, Greek and Roman philosophers had been debating God(s) versus chance in creation, and this debate continued for a further 250 years after Paul’s speech.

The debate began in 400 BC, when Democritus introduced the concepts of atomic atheism, the infinite power of chance, evolution, and determinism. This triggered Socrates to argue for God’s existence based on arguments from design, the power of the mind, and a predictable cosmos. Later, Epicurus invented naturalism as the framework for understanding science. Then the Stoics became the greatest intellectual opponents of atheism for 500 years, inventing systematic arguments for creation until atheism faded from the classical world by 300 AD. Why did atheism fade out?

This 700-year debate only came to light in 2007, so it is all quite a new slant on the classical world. Leonard Long will describe this 700-year debate and its relevance to our times.

Leonard is a retired doctor and has spent much of his retirement studying the historical development of thought and ideologies in Western culture.

Dr Leonard Long

Leonard’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

Dating the gospels is controversial, but some scholars date the gospels from 65 AD for Mark and up to 95 AD for John. In the meantime, the gospel message was supposedly passed on mainly by word of mouth. Sceptics claim that the stories were distorted and embellished by Chinese whispers, and then written down to meet the needs of the church at the time of writing. Thus, they are historically unreliable.

Chinese whispers

Is this true, or are the gospels based on eye-witness testimony? So,

  • What do the gospel authors claim about the nature of their testimony,
  • Can they be trusted, and
  • How can we know?

Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide. He is also a researcher, research supervisor and former lecturer at the University of South Australia.

Dr Kevin Rogers

Kevin’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

You’ve no doubt heard of the pyramids and other huge monuments of ancient Egypt. Many inscriptions are chiselled on to these monuments and people have been fascinated by them for centuries. Once the hieroglyphic script was decoded in the modern era, our understanding of the stories, religion, history, and laws of ancient Egypt has greatly expanded.

More recently, over the past 100 years or so, a huge number of texts from other ancient nearby cultures – Sumerian, Babylonian, etc., have been discovered and decoded. This has similarly added hugely to our understanding of these ancient cultures.

The Bible, widely available and read by westerners over the past 2 millennia, includes the stories, religion, history, and laws of the ancient Hebrew people, who existed in the same general area as those other ancient peoples.

So how do the texts from these different cultures relate? In particular,

  • How do the non-Biblical texts from various cultures relate to the Bible texts?
  • Are they related?
  • To what extent and in what way do the non-Biblical texts help us to understand the Bible texts?
Geoff Russell

Geoff’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

All four gospels claim that Jesus was from Nazareth. However, some sceptics claim that Nazareth did not exist at all in the first 1st century, or that it was a small village, rather than a city, as Luke claims (Luke 1:26). The traditional site for Nazareth was certainly not a large city in the 1st century. So, what is going on? Is Jesus truly Jesus of Nazareth?

Trevor Harris will describe the archaeological evidence and compare this with the gospel claims. The answer is probably not what you expect.

Trevor Harris

Trevor Harris has an honours degree in Architecture and a masters degree in Urban and Regional planning. He has practised in these areas for 45 years in government and private practice. For the last 20 years he has developed a passion for bible research, particularly in identifying Bible sites. This includes history, archaeology, and geography. He has engaged in seven research trips to the Middle East.

Trevor’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

The book of Job in the Bible is one that has resonated with people for thousands of years. It confronts one of the enduring questions that continues to plague mankind: Why do the righteous suffer?

Elihu contradicts Job and his friends (Job 32). Wood engraving, published in 1886.

But how should we view this book? Is it a philosophical/theological treatise? Is it one man’s struggle in written form to come to grips with the question? Is it the work of many people over a period of centuries? Or is it the story and experience of a real human being struggling first-hand with major catastrophes in his own life?

Brian Schroeder

Brian’s talk can be viewed on YouTube.