My Creator: Right and Wrong

Speaking in a TED Talk David Christian, who is the creator (notice the word I used there) of a university course called Big History, says

“Let’s wind the clock back 13.7 billion years ago to the beginning of time. Around us there is nothing. There’s not even time or space. Imagine the darkest emptiest thing you can and that’s where we are. Then suddenly, BAM a universe appears.  An entire universe.”


Really David? We are supposed to believe that absolutely nothing “existed” then all of a sudden an entire universe existed? This is not science, this is faith. It’s funny how Big Bang promoters love to push the science vs religion discussion saying that religion is not scientific. It seems clear that the big bang theory is far more faith based than the creation account.
As a believer in God the creator and a literal 6 day creation I find it remarkable that evolutionists use terms like “we know…” and “this is how it happened…” There is no possible way they could ever know since no one was there to record it.  There were no scientific experiments or tests done at the beginning of time that we can look back to and say, “Ah so that’s how it all started”.  In the end we all come to the same conclusion – my belief is based on faith after examining the evidence around me.

I respect the atheist who says that after examining the evidence as he sees it he has come to the conclusion there is no God but that he cannot prove his faith.  I don’t respect the atheist who says there is absolute proof that God does not exist. That belief is foolish and juvenile.

Let’s be honest Christian, we do not believe in God because there is 100% scientific proof that He exists. There isn’t.  We believe God exists because of evidence that includes science but goes far beyond it.  In fact we believe in God because of faith.  We can argue with people about our evidences (and they are necessary as we are challenged in scripture to be ready to defend our faith) but at the very heart of the discussion we must come the subject of faith.  Over the next several Mondays I’d like to share my personal evidence for My Creator. Some of these are non-scientific and non-biblical and some are.

 


Morality


 

This is a very troubling problem for the atheist. If you agree that there is no God and we are just a collection of cells with no moral base then you cannot accept any right or wrong in the world. Richard Dawkins says, “We live in a universe which has ‘no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” [1] William Provine of Cornell University agrees and writes, “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” [2]

Now leaving aside the Bible for a moment even the most basic preview of human life would be aghast at this belief.  Tell the young woman who was raped violently that there is no evil and no meaning to life. Tell the Jewish daughter whose parents were tortured and exterminated in the Holocaust that their life had no value and her pain is imaginary. Tell the families of the victims in 9/11 that it was just a big chemical reaction that caused those men to fly planes into the World Trade Centre and that animal instincts took over.

The problem the atheist has in getting 90% or so of the world to buy into this concept. You can’t remove a moral standard (such as God), preach that there is no morality and expect the world religions to crumble. That’s because at the heart of all of us there is a basic belief in morality. I find it interesting that the Bible says in Psalm 2, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” It’s not the mind that is the problem but the heart. Thomas Nagy, atheist professor at New York University is surprisingly honest when he says, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” [3] He has a heart problem not a head problem.

Now let’s come back to the Bible since this is my evidence for a creator.  The Bible’s view of morality is consistent in that it presents a God who establishes moral conduct. If there is a God who created us (and I believe there is) then it is entirely consistent to believe that right and wrong exists and that there is meaning to life. I don’t have to contradict what I already know in my heart is true. When I see evil in the world I have a solid basis for why that evil exists.

Finally the Bible gives an explanation to the meaning of life. God has told us that He created us to have an intimate and personal relationship with Him. He has created us in His own likeness (don’t mistake that to mean we are all gods) so that we might experience a life that is far beyond our physical existence.

So in conclusion the atheist cannot explain morality in their theories so they dismiss it and say it doesn’t exist. Well that is not something I (and most of the world) are ready to accept as a plausible explanation.  Faith has brought me to agree with God about His existence and morality.

 

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Jump to the next post in this series…

Sources:
1. Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995.
2. Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1):9, 1994. 
3. Nagel, T., The Last Word, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997, p. 130.

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Don’t Know Much About Philosophy?

A while ago I had underscored the abundance of tools we have online, which allows us to learn in community, from history, and across multiple platforms. We can use these digital tools to broaden our knowledge, strengthen our convictions, and help us help others.

But learning from history isn’t the end of it you know: we also have to learn to do some seriously hard thinking.

In this post, I want to link to some great resources which I’ll categorize separately but readily admit that there’s a bunch of cross-pollination going on.

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Did God Create Evil?

Fascinating video clip of a young student refuting his professor’s claim that God created evil. The video is supposedly a reenactment of an actual event in the life of Albert Einstein. Whether or not this event happened actually happened as portrayed (it is a reenactment), the video presents challenging some challenging arguments.

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Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

A week ago I had the opportunity to watch a debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens which was conducted on April 4, 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8).  It was the first time I had seen either of them in a debate of this length.  Dr. Craig went first and, as I expected, gave a list of sound reasons why the argument FOR the existence God is more plausible than arguments against His existence. I nodded my head continually as I watched his 20 minute introduction.

Christopher Hitchens then made his way to the podium and I have to admit, I expected him to come across as a person who is easily disliked.  I have seen a number of atheists debate and many resort to simply beating up on their opponents with cutting words and demeaning characterizations.  However, 5 minutes into Mr. Hitchens’ talk I found myself rather liking him. He was warm, funny and genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to speak at a Christian University. In his younger days he was known to be abrasive and rude, yet a free thinker. He challenged the theories of many atheists and has been credited to being the father of modern atheism. His only goal in life was to find truth. Unfortunately the notion of God wasn’t in his truth equation.  The statements in his debate with Dr. Craig hint more at a dislike for the idea of God than actually believing He doesn’t exist.  Hitchens didn’t want to believe in a God.

The news of his death was a bit of a shock to me because I didn’t know he was sick.  It saddened me. I know it saddened the Lord even more.  Here was a man, whom God loved infinitely, that had made his final decision to reject all offers of salvation. He had slipped out of time into eternity without any hope.  In a very ironic way he died what he lived.

For those of us who follow Christ and believe in his existence and deity the news of such a death should sorrow our hearts not cause them to rejoice. Will Hitchens “Get what he deserves?” Yes he will. But deep in my heart I am so thankful that I will not.  The blood of Jesus has cleansed me from sin and has removed the penalty of eternal death from my soul.  I will never face the punishment I deserve because Jesus faced it in my place. He died for Christopher Hitchens too. Let’s never forget that when we watch another human being defy God like Hitchens did, these are the very same people Jesus died for.

There are countless around us who do not believe in God. They have no place for Him in their minds or hearts. My urging is for all believers to love them, not hate them. To pray for them not preach at them. To show the warmth and grace of the Lord not try to demean or belittle them and write them off.

With the Lord Jesus in our lives and the truth on our lips let’s win this world for Christ, one atheist at a time.

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Three Archaeology Websites Reviewed

Websites reviewed:
1. Life & Land Seminars (Gordon Franz)
2. Bible Places (Todd Bolen)
3. Associates For Biblical Research (ABR)

Archaeology fascinates modern people, for it lifts the veil on life in the ancient world. Christians are particularly interested in this field due to the light it sheds on the world of the Bible.

During the past two centuries, skeptics have sometimes asserted that archaeology disproves the Bible – or at least, undermines its credibility by revealing numerous errors. A careful study of archaeology from the 19th-21st centuries demonstrates that these claims are patently false. Time and again, the biblical view of the ancient world has been vindicated by the scholars’ shovels, spades, and research in libraries and laboratories.

The more of the Bible lands that are excavated, the more clear become the culture, languages, and backstory of Bible passages.

Unearthing The Past

Happily, digital sojourners (i.e. web-connected believers) have a trove of good materials relating to Biblical archaeology on the web. I wish to highlight three helpful & trustworthy pages.

By way of disclaimer, I will admit that the three driving forces behind these sites are acquaintances of mine: I studied with Dr. Bryant Wood during my history studies at Messiah College in the early 1990s. Todd Bolen led study tours at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now called Jerusalem University College) when I was a student there in the Fall of 1993. Gordon Franz has been a close personal friend for twenty-one years, and has encouraged and edified me in innumerable ways. I am indebted to these three brothers for their good service to their fellow-saints by laboring in the Word and historical research.

Veteran archaeologist Gordon Franz’s site is called Life & Land Seminars and may found here: www.lifeandland.org. His page contains numerous articles that he has written over the years on OT & NT history and archaeology. There are also excavation and tour reports pertaining to various biblical sites around the world. He updates the site regularly, and has it well-organized under various tabs such as “Life of Christ,” “Life of David,” “The Seven Churches of Asia Minor – Rev. 1-3,” etc. Technical material is sometimes discussed, but in a way that is accessible to the non-specialized reader.

Picturesque Israel

Todd Bolen’s Bible Places prominently displays his excellent photography of biblical lands – some is freely downloadable, other material may be purchased. He has spent years teaching in Israel (first with the IHLS and then with Master’s Seminary’s extension campus in Israel.) He is currently completing a doctorate at Dallas Theological Seminary. His blog (blog.bibleplaces.com) is outstanding. It contains helpful news from Israel, as well as links to current archaeology on the web.

The Associates For Biblical Research (ABR) exists to teach biblical archaeology, as well as conduct fresh research in the field. Its president, Bryant Wood is well-trained with advanced degrees from the Universities of Michigan and Toronto. His writing in defense of the biblical Jericho has been particularly noteworthy in refuting the prevailing opinion set down by Dame Kathleen Kenyon. Helpful articles and excavation reports may be found at their well-organized site under such headings as “Contemporary issues,” “Exodus-Conquest,” and “New Testament Era.” What is more, it is well-worth subscribing to their quarterly print magazine, Bible & Spade. Their bookstore contains helpful audio, video, & print resources. The blog’s address is www.biblearchaeology.org

I commend these helpful website for all thoughtful Christians, as well as for those who are not convinced of the Bible’s trustworthiness.

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Jottings – The Bible and Science in Harmony

We think that, since God is the author of his Word the Bible and of the universe, there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of the scientific data.

Dr. John C. Lennox in Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science, p. 13. The first eleven chapters of Genesis is under attack. To believe what is recorded in those 11 chapters… to believe the simple and plain meaning of those words… and to publicly declare that belief, is to open up yourself to public ridicule. Ridicule, not only in schools, universities, and the workplace, but also in many churches today. Yet as Dr. Lennox rightfully points out… if God actually wrote the Bible AND created the universe the two must be in perfect harmony.

As for me, I believe that God created the universe and wrote the Bible. God’s Word never changes, yet scientific theories come and go. I’ll stick with the simple and plain meaning of God’s Word, and wait for the scientific theories to catch up.

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Two Apologetics Websites

With the prevalence of atheism, agnosticism, occultic and cultic belief systems, and many other errors in western society, it is good that the Lord raises up some Christians to defend the faith and equip the church for effective evangelism. Two websites that I enjoy in this regard are Christian Evidences and Apologetics315.

Christian Evidences Ministries, is run by my friend and brother in Christ, Rob Sullivan. A businessman by profession, brother Rob is also a gifted Bible teacher and gospel preacher who has a special interest in evangelism and apologetics. He organizes his site around four lines of evidence, summarized by the acronym “MAPS”: “Manuscript evidence”; “Archaeological evidence”; “Prophectic evidence”; and “Scientific evidence.” Using video presentations, coupled with written materials, Rob presents answers to many objections of modern skeptics, as well as presenting a logically coherent case for biblical Christianity.

Apologetics 315 is a website started and maintained by Brian Auten (whom I don’t know personally.) It has many interesting interviews with scholars, apologists, preachers, authors, and others who proclaim the truth and answer the critics. His interviews may be beamed by RSS feed directly to a reader (e.g. Google Reader) or iTunes. He also presents weekly bonus links to other audio, video, & written material from around the web dealing with apologetics and witnessing. The site also features regular book reviews pertaining to apologetics. Apologetics315 is an excellent tool for those who want to clear away obstacles to the gospel.

Both of these sites present a great trove of materials for defending, sharing, and teaching the Scriptures to a lost world. They carry on the spirit of the injuction in 1 Peter 3:15: “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

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E-Learning Past Mistakes

Church History

When protecting the United States from counterfeit money, federal agents do not only study real money. If that were the case, they wouldn’t have come up with new methods to ensure that the money you have is the real thing (ie: microprinting ink, new notes every 10 years, etc. ). They long realized that in dealing with the real they had to know what the counterfeiters were doing to keep ahead of them.

In a previous post, I pointed out that it is important to learn corporately and not in a vacuum especially from church history. I quoted a bit saying those who don’t learn heresy are forced to repeat it.

The immediate question might be “What? Learn Heresy?”

Today we deal with a whole mess of counterfeit-Christianity, more-so when you step into the pluralistic quagmire that is the internet. These errors have long been addressed. In that other post I warned that we shouldn’t be studying in a vacuum; here I want to equip you with other tools that show you how Christians historically responded to error:

E-Reading

  • On the Incarnation by Athanasius (alternate link). He stood against Arius (and apparently the mass of Christians) that were falling for the Arian heresy. Arius believed that the Son of God was not eternal but rather a created being. You’ll see Arianism today with Jehovah Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, Mormonism (probably a modified Arianism) and Christadelphians.
  • Against Praxeas  by Tertullion (alternate link). Tertullian stood against the belief that God is one person who revealed himself in different modes or roles which is known as modalism or sabellianism. He is the one who coined the term trinitas which is to say that God is three persons in one essence over against this teaching that says that there are no multiple persons in the Godhead. United Pentecostalism teaches this today. Also read On The Trinity by Hilary.
  • The Refutation of All Heresies by Hippolytus (alternate link). Here you’ll find a refutation of the matured heresy that Paul deals with in his letter to the Colossians—people who make a wrong division between the physical and the spiritual and all that that entails. Some of the error was even making a difference between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old—as if there were a difference! You’ll find Gnosticism all over the modern church. Also read Against Marcion by Tertullion (alternate link) where he shows the tight connection between the Old and New testament
  • Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin (alternate link). Calvin (like all these writers) had his own issues but he systematically worked through Scripture in a response to the Roman church.
  • The Fundamentals. This twelve book set covered a ton of topics all in response to liberal Christianity. There were no councils during this era, so you won’t find a creedal statement—but you will find teaches that are grounded on the fundamentals of the faith.
  • Mysticism and Christianity by B B Warfield. Heavy reading that breaks out of the early centuries of the church but still manages to address a lot of the love for experiences we see today.

Audio

  • Ancient and Medieval Church History podcast by David Calhoun of CTS

Paper Books

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Battles Over The Beginning

Recently the media has reported on the growing controversy over the historicity of Genesis. Well-known, self-described evangelical scholars are questioning the existence of Adam and Eve, the story of the flood, and other aspects of Genesis 1-11. Of course, this section of Scripture has been repeatedly attacked during the past two centuries – the assaults often being launched from the liberal wing of Christendom. Nineteenth-century German scholars declared that the Bible must be examined like any other work of literature, downplaying any notion of divine inspiration. Moreover, they typically set aside anything supernatural as unhistorical on the grounds that such things just do not occur and therefore must be myths and fabrications. That it comes from respected “evangelical” professors makes this latest criticism especially dangerous. These men are theological double-agents, undermining the church from within its own ranks.

Error in Christian circles is nothing new. False teachers have promulgated error from privileged positions within the church since the first century. The Lord Jesus warned of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-23.) Similarly, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that “…from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30.) Christians must be vigilant against the inevitable attacks that come from within and without.

The conflict over the early chapters of Genesis is particularly dangerous because it undermines the authority of the rest of the Scriptures – thereby destroying the foundations of Christianity. Christian truth rests on the basis of the book of beginnings. What believers know about God, mankind, evil, sin, redemption, the purpose of existence, justice, future judgment, and many other doctrines find their origin in Genesis. The rest of the Bible rests on the belief that the first book is true history.

Genesis’ historical reliability ultimately depends upon the word of Christ Himself.

The New Testament makes it plain that He believed in the accuracy of this embattled book. For instance, He upheld the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman by referring back to the creation of the first human couple, saying: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6.) Elsewhere, Christ declared His belief in a personal Devil, Satan, also known as “the Father of lies” in language that hearkens back to the first temptation in Genesis 3 (John 8:44.) He also referenced other events such as Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51) and the flood of Noah (Matthew 24:37-38.)

The Lord Jesus is contrasted with the historical Adam regarding sin and salvation (Romans 5) and Christ’s triumph over death itself. If Adam is a literary invention than the basis of redemption and resurrection is undermined. One need not worry, however, for Jesus declared Himself to be the truth (John 14:6) and affirmed that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35.) Genesis is true – we have Christ’s word on it.

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Website Review: johnlennox.org

During the past decade New Atheist writers such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris have waged war on theism in general and Christianity in particular. They contend that faith in God is unscientific, irrational, and down-right harmful to society.

Various Christians have eloquently and reasonably answered these critics by means of the spoken and written word. Among them is Dr. John Lennox, whose academic credentials give him an opening to weigh in on scientific questions, especially when they intersect issues of faith; he is described thus on the website’s biography page:

Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. In addition, he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Executive Education Centre, Said Business School, Oxford University.

His website – www.johnlennox.org – is an especially useful tool, providing video and audio discussions on pertinent apologetics questions like “God and suffering,” “Axioms and Inferences: A Mathematician Thinks About Faith,” “Atheism and morality,” and “Limitations of science,” among many others. It also provides various treatments of brother Lennox in the mainstream media, including newspaper interviews and radio programs.

The site is well-organized, attractive, and user-friendly… a real boon for the sojourner who takes 1 Peter 3:15 seriously.

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