The Certainty Of The Bible – Reprise


chicken-3-1392636-mWhich came first, the chicken or the egg?

It’s a conundrum to many people, but for those of us who believe the Bible, not so much. God created the animals, including birds, so clearly the chicken came first.

In truth, belief in the Bible is a similar chicken-or-egg puzzle for many people. How do you know the Bible is true? Short answer: God’s fingerprints are all over it. But how do you recognize God’s fingerprints? The Bible gives us a portrait of Him.

So which comes first, belief in God or belief in the Bible?

I’d say, both. Scripture is important throughout . . . well, Scripture. For example, Philip explained to an Ethiopian the Scripture he was reading, and the man consequently believed in Jesus; in His teaching ministry, Jesus Himself elaborated on the Law of Moses; Paul and Peter quoted frequently from Old Testament prophets; and so on. Scripture values Scripture.

But there was a time before people had Scripture, and God still made Himself known, so faith in God must not be tied exclusively to faith in the Bible. In fact the book of Romans explains that God first made Himself known in what He created.

In addition Scripture records any number of direct encounters God or one of His angels had with various people. Sometimes He appeared in a dream such as He did to Jacob. Sometimes He talked directly to an individual as He did with Adam and Abraham and Samuel. At other times He appeared in the form of a man as He did to Gideon or Jacob–which may have been an angel as His messenger or Jesus before His coming to earth in the form of a baby.

Then there are the indirect messages God gave people through prophets–men who spoke His message at His prompting. People like Hosea and Jonah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

But here’s the thing: we know about these encounters today through the Bible. So how do you have faith in God’s ability to make Himself known apart from the Bible except by believing that the Bible record is true?

There seems to be a sort of synergistic relationship with believing God and believing the Bible. One leads to the other and the other leads back to the starting point. The Bible reveals God and God validates the Bible. Or God points to His word and His word points back to Him.

The idea that God points to His word might seem doubtful, but it’s actually Biblical. 😉 Jesus explained to His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and guide them, and us, into all truth (John 16:13). In fact, He said,

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me (John 15:26).

The Holy Spirit, then, is our source of truth, and as it happens, it was the Holy Spirit who breathed His truth into Scripture through the agency of humans.

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

In turn, Scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit and all His work.

Seems very eggish and chickenish, doesn’t it. Except, remember, there really is an easy answer to the question that appears, on the surface, to be a puzzle. So, too, with this matter about believing the Bible.

The first step is to ask, can we know about God apart from the Bible? The answer, which the Bible verifies, but which countless humans down through the ages have discovered apart from the Bible, is yes. When we look at the vastness of space–and more so now that we can look into deep space using advanced technology–or the beauty of a sunset or the majesty of purple mountains or the thunderous power of the surf or the intricacy of a butterfly or the astounding birth of a baby or . . . pretty much anything in the natural world, we recognize we are part of all that exists, not the maker of it. There is something beyond us.

Today a popular position is to say that “something” is nature itself. This position has many problems. But here’s the thing. Having recognized that there is something beyond us, we then see God saying He has chosen to disclose Himself to us.

We ought not to be shocked if some people respond by saying, Really? I mean, it is a rather fantastic claim. An Other, a Greater, wants to stop by for a chat? Wants to introduce Himself and become friends? It’s . . . incredible.

So we can say, NOT POSSIBLE, meaning that we have determined we know what is and isn’t possible in a universe we did not create and do not fully comprehend; or we can say, the One who is Other and Greater is also Incredible.

What then can’t He do? If He chooses to disclose Himself in a written record, who am I to say, no, He didn’t.

This post originally appeared here in October 2013.

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Published in: on October 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm  Comments (4)  
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Groaning


This world is groaning. It’s the weight of sin that causes it, and it’s been going on for … well, since Eve believed Satan over God.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if we as human beings aren’t more aware of the groaning than at any point in history.

Terrorism has people across the globe on heightened alert. War and rebellion are tearing nations apart. Famine is on the increase, and the economy of the rich countries vacillates beyond our control. Add to all this earthquakes in places like Haiti, Chile, and Japan; the tornadoes and flooding in the US; hurricanes on the East coast.

We’re groaning.

Professing Christians are leaving the church. Government—democratic government that was supposed to have the necessary checks and balances–is self-serving if not corrupt. Marriage is being redefined. In other words, civilized institutions are crumbling.

We’re groaning.

The weight of sin is too big. Drug addiction isn’t lessening. Anxiety isn’t disappearing no matter how much we medicate. Neither is depression. Interpersonal conflicts haven’t ceased. In fact divorce is still a growing problem no matter that so many people now practice at marriage before making “lifetime” vows. Abuse continues or perhaps is on the increase. Child slavery and sex trafficking are problems that seem without end.

We’re groaning.

Worst of all, who can we trust? The person we love the most is the person who shatters our hopes and betrays us by their unfaithfulness.

We are indeed groaning.

Should I go on to mention cancer or AIDS or fears of a worldwide pandemic? I suspect it’s not necessary.

At every turn, we’re groaning.

Like any number of crises recorded in the Bible, God is standing with open arms saying, Your way leads to destruction. My way leads to life.

Over and over stiff-necked people ignored Him or shook their fists in His face, denying His right to rule. So it seems, we’re doing today.

We think if we just get the right person in the White House, if we only raise taxes or cut spending, if we only marry the right guy or girl, pass this piece of legislation or that, solve one key problem then another, use this green technology or drill that oil well, then, at last, the world will come round aright.

In that foolish thinking, we are ignoring the One who wants us to fix our eyes on His Son.

“See to it,” Paul said to the Colossians, “that no one takes you captive through philosophy or empty deception according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.”

The philosophy and empty deception of our day says we can solve our own problems, that we don’t need anything outside ourselves. We have the power within us.

And yet, with all this great power within ( 🙄 ), we don’t seem any closer to bringing the groaning to an end. We’re looking in the wrong places.

There isn’t a chemical high or an alcohol-induced haze that will mask the pain long enough, there isn’t a movie or video game or concert or ballgame that will distract us sufficiently, there isn’t a better relationship that will heal our shattered heart.

Except the one God offers through Christ Jesus. He is our Hope, and He is our Salvation.

In Him the groaning will one day come to an end. And even while we wait for that day, we find comfort and peace and joy in the presence of the only One who can see us through. The Psalmist says, “He Himself knows our frame.” And Moses in Deuteronomy says, “The Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” God through Isaiah says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”

Paul tells us in Romans that the Spirit groans, too. For us. “The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

The world groans under the weight of sin, but God through Jesus Christ has conquered sin. Praise His Name.

Easter, which is coming up later this month, is all about commemorating what Jesus Christ did to free us from the slavery to sin. But unless we acknowledge the weight of sin, we won’t appreciate what God accomplished through His Son.

Sometimes I think people have to be blind not to see the effects of sin. But we are so used to the things that break God’s heart and that harm humankind, we take them as “normal.” They aren’t. What God created was good. What we’ll enjoy in the new heaven and the new earth will be free from the “slavery to corruption.” And even now we can enter into the “freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

This post is a revised and expanded version of one that first appeared here in September 2011.

Published in: on April 7, 2017 at 6:49 pm  Comments (28)  
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The Compatibility Of Science And Christianity


Protoplanetary_diskChristians should be the first to combat the idea that science and Christianity are at odds with one another. They aren’t. In fact science, by its nature, is a limited field, contributing only to the field of observable knowledge accessed through our physical senses.

Christianity, of course, does not purport to explain DNA or the string theory or black holes, but it does reveal God and His plan and purpose for the world. It answers the big questions of life: who am I, why am I here, what is my destiny?

In reality, science and Christianity together give us an understanding of life. No one should separate the two, and yet an artificial divide is being forced onto society.

This divide would be similar to asking someone heading into a movie theater if he’s going to listen to the movie or watch it. Well, both, would be his logical reply. No, no, the pundit says, you have to choose one or the other. Sight and sound aren’t compatible.

Well, yes, they are. They reveal different things, but those things aren’t in contradiction. In fact sight and sound complement each other and give a fuller, richer movie-going experience. So too with science and Christianity.

The root to this divide seems to be in the creation-versus-evolution debate. Because the courts have ruled that evolution is science and can be taught in schools while creation is not and cannot be taught in schools, a line has been drawn in the sand. Choose what you believe, the pundits say—science or religion.

First, evolutionary theory is filled with unrepeatable parts that can’t be studied by the scientific method. Second, science is far greater than evolution. And third, Christianity is not synonymous with religion.

In other words, evolution requires a great deal of faith to believe—more so, in my opinion, than believing God designed the universe and brought it into being.

Regarding the first point, because evolution is a theory and not provable by the scientific method, it takes faith to believe it. Did you know, for example, that a single strand of DNA contains 3.1 billion bytes of information? A single strand. Three point one billion! And yet we are to believe, according to evolutionary theory, that an accidental concussion of matter and energy is responsible for the process that ordered all of life. Not just a single DNA strand, but all of life! The improbability of such a thing happening is incredibly high—astronomically high, you might say. Truly, it is more feasible that an explosion in a print shop resulted in Webster’s Dictionary.

The second point is equally important. Science that actually adheres to the scientific method does contribute knowledge about the physical world—knowledge which does not contradict the Bible. As a matter of fact, a host of early scientists were Christians, from Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal to Isaac Newton, Samuel Morse, Louis Pasteur, and many others.

A great number of Christians working in the fields of science exist today, too, men such as the following:
# Dr. Larry Vardiman Senior Research Scientist, Astro/Geophysics
# Dr. William Arion, Biochemistry, Chemistry
# Dr. Paul Ackerman, Psychologist
# Dr. E. Theo Agard, Medical Physics
# Dr. Steve Austin, Geologist
# Dr. S.E. Aw, Biochemist
# Dr. Thomas Barnes, Physicist
# Dr. Geoff Barnard, Immunologist
# Dr. John Baumgardner, Electrical Engineering, Space Physicist, Geophysicist, expert in supercomputer modeling of plate tectonics

Last point: Christianity is unique among religions because of Jesus Christ—no other religion has a person at the center of its faith as opposed to a system. No other religion offers grace and mercy instead of rules and regulations. Sadly, Christianity has been lumped in with those that play on superstition, guilt, and fear. Christ, in fact, brings peace and joy and hope and help. Christianity is not about a way to appease an angry God. It’s a realistic understanding of the human condition and the need of the human heart.

In no way does science step on Christianity’s toes. The idea that is incompatible with truth is the dismissal of God as the One who is before all, created all, and rules all. But if you accept God for who He is, study science all you want. The two are not mutually exclusive.

This post first appeared here in March 2013

Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 6:35 pm  Comments Off on The Compatibility Of Science And Christianity  
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Spiritual Eyes


Black Holes - Monsters in Space

Black Holes – Monsters in Space


Once when I had been lurking among a few atheist blogs, one thing stumped me. How is it that some people can’t see the nose on their face?

Serious. What seems so obvious and self-evident and true becomes a great puzzle to a group of people, or a myth to be debunked, or a superstition to be discounted.

Why is it that some people are so easily sucked into disbelief?

Children have no problem believing in what they cannot see. Monsters, Inc. was such a funny movie because we could all relate to the concept of believing in frightful creatures that popped out at night when we were alone in the dark.

Of course children stop believing in monsters because adults tell them they aren’t real and that they don’t need to be afraid. But how does the all wise adult know there are no monsters? He or she relies on what they can see.

They in turn crush something inside their child that recognizes the unseen world, teaching her to trust only in her physical senses, not her internal sense that this universe is greater and more complex than even science can know.

Am I saying there ARE monsters? Yes, there are. In religious terms we call them demons. Am I saying that every child afraid of a monster is seeing demons? No. I remember distinctly thinking something was in my room at night, only to realize it was the shadow of a tree moving with the wind or a pile of clothes I’d forgotten was on the chair.

Truly our imaginations can “make us” see things that aren’t there. But how foolish to use that as proof that spiritually evil creatures don’t exist.

Because I don’t see black holes when I look at space, am I going to say those scientists who acknowledge them are superstitious? that they are making things up? that they’re believing a myth? No. I’m going to acknowledge that they have equipment that allows them to see into space in a way I can’t see. I’m going to trust in their expertise, research, calculations, and conclusions.

Why don’t spiritual matters work the same way?

Well, they actually do. More than once the Bible records a person who is given spiritual sight so he can see what otherwise he could not. Elisha, for example, saw his master caught up by a whirlwind into heaven after a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them.

We can poo poo such a thing, claim it never happened

But we can poo poo black holes too and say they don’t exist.

Oh, someone may counter, they do exist. You just have to infer its presence through its interaction with other matter and with electromagnetic radiation such as light.

But the same is true spiritually. God’s presence can be inferred through all kinds of evidences–Scripture, His miraculous work in the world, nature itself, the experiences of countless believers.

What about all the countless believers in a different god? Doesn’t that prove the myth aspect of the spiritual? No, actually not. All it proves is that there are counterfeits–that the spiritual world includes more than God, that as the Bible makes clear, there is a spiritual war going on between darkness and light.

Here’s what God told Paul when He revealed Himself and called the apostle to Him.

“For this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:16b-18 – emphasis mine).

Some things require spiritual eyes to see. I’m pretty sure a person who says, The supernatural does not exist, isn’t a candidate for spiritual eyes.

That would be like saying, Prove to me the existence of black holes but don’t use inference. Well, you’d be told, you need to infer their existence from their interaction with matter and with light. Hypothetical, the doubter says, nothing more than indirect observation from which you’re finding what you hoped to find. You have no proof.

Well, actually, if I were a scientist and saw what they saw, calculated what they calculated, tested what they tested, I could reach the same conclusion. But the doubter unwilling to accept inference as proof will discount it all.

How odd that we so easily accept as true the fallible research of humans struggling to know that which is so distant from us, so other, and yet we do not accept the infallible record of God revealing Himself so that He will no longer be distant from us, so that we can comprehend, at least in part, His very otherness.

I can only conclude that seeing the spiritual requires spiritual eyes.

This post first appeared here in May 2013.

Published in: on March 15, 2016 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Critical Thinking and the Evidence for God


Hubble view of stars_and_spaceThe argument against the existence of God commonly came into play with the advent of Modernism, the Age of Reason, and the rise of science. Hence, what people for centuries had known by instinct now needed to be proved. And how can you prove the unseen? How can you put the Supernatural to a natural test?

People believing in God were slow to respond, in my opinion, perhaps not realizing the enormity of the consequences for answering science with “But I believe.”

Such a slow response, however, does not mean there are not some very specific, scientific evidences that point to the existence of God.

Here are some to which I ascribe, in no particular order.

  • The origin of the universe. Those who do not believe in God commonly believe in evolution and the big bang theory. This idea is flawed. First, it leaves unexplained where the material for the big bang came from. To date, all matter decays, which argues against some kind of eternal matter. Also, energy dissipates, which argues against energy being of an eternal nature. So what existed before the universe to bring it into being?

    Then, too, even if such a big bang did occur, belief that life came about as a result is contradictory to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: order does not come from disorder (layman’s translation – 😉 ). In the words of Dr. Henry Morris, Institute of Creation Science:

    the universal scientific law of entropy specifies the “downward” tendency of all things toward decrease of organized complexity.

    Finally, the idea that the big bang is scientific is fallacious. The scientific method requires a repeated result to verify a theory. None such is possible.

    In reality, the theory of the big bang is merely an idea formed as an alternative to God.

  • The design of the universe. From molecular structure to the path of the countless solar systems, this universe is intricately woven.

    In a paper entitled, “The Current State Of Creation Astronomy,” Dr. Danny R. Faulkner of the Institute of Creation Research says the following:

    Much evidence of teleology (design in nature) exists in the universe. For human, animal, and plant life this is very easy to see. If certain changes are made in the physiology or the chemistry of organisms, then life becomes impossible. The same could be said about the universe as a whole. If certain constants of nature are changed, then the chemistry necessary for life becomes impossible, and the universe begins to appear very suited, or designed, for life. The same is true for the earth: if we change its size, composition, distance from the sun, tilt of its axis, or any number of characteristics, then the earth becomes uninhabitable.

    It is mathematically improbable that happenstance can create such design.

    Simple experiments prove this. Take ten red checkers and ten black checkers, scramble them in a large plastic bag, then begin to shake them to see how long it will take to order them again with all red together and all black together. If a person were to shake the bag continuously for twenty-four hours, day after day, the probability that those checkers would again align by color is one chance in all the years of that individual’s lifetime, and beyond.

  • The existence of intelligent life. Humans reason, compare, contrast, synthesize, analyze, and criticize. Humans also communicate logically and extensively. The existence of intelligent life suggests a source of equal or greater intelligence. How can a substance formulate that of which it does not consist?
  • Humans sin. At first blush, that fact might have two arguments against it: How is sin an evidence of God? on the one hand and Is that a true statement? on the other. Let me take them in reverse order.

    First is it, true Man sins? We know that humans do things animals don’t do, negative things, like start wars and hold other people in concentration camps. Clearly, Man has a capacity for harm to others that sets him apart from the rest of creation. One word for that capacity is sin.

    How, then, is this evidence that God exists? In order for man to sin, he needs to violate certain natural laws. Who established these laws?

  • Man has inalienable rights. Our Constitution says it. Our freedom is staked on the truth of that statement. Who gave us these rights? The Creator who is involved with His creation.

    If it were not true, then there is no right of one person over another except the right that is earned, either by overpowering others or outsmarting them. Instead, we believe (though we don’t act consistently in accordance with what we say we believe) that the weak has just as much right as the strong and, in fact, should be protected and nurtured.

    The incongruence with “survival of the fittest” should be apparent.

  • Man has a conscience, a moral compass that cannot be explained by evolution. Some people believe society teaches that certain actions are wrong. That’s true to an extent, but there are some actions we know are wrong instinctively.

    Take child abuse, for example. Even in prison, where hardened criminals reside, and no one is teaching against the behavior, a child molester is hated. Why? Why would people with seemingly no moral constraint react negatively to such behavior?

    Or cannibalism. When was the last time someone taught against cannibalism? And yet, the thought is disgusting. Why? Not because of teaching. Because it is against a Man’s conscious.

    I submit that a number of things we now accept were once reprehensible, grating against our moral sensibilities, but society taught us they needed to be tolerated, even accepted and embraced.

    So where does a moral sensibility come from? A moral Creator.

  • Personal experience. I know this is probably the hardest to understand and to accept and is the weakest of the arguments, but it’s still true, and therefore adds to the body of facts: I know God, first hand.

    When you put all the pieces together, it does make sense. The universe has a Creator—one who is pre-existent, orderly, intelligent, and moral, one involved with His creation.

    We have a book that claims to be from Him. It reveals Him as pre-existent, orderly, intelligent, moral, involved with His creation, and, in fact, loving. To prove the latter, His Son entered the world to show us what science could not.

    Because I know the Son, I also the know God who sent Him.

    Let me illustrate. I know a lot of people through the media of the Internet, either from visiting their blogs, engaging in discussions on Facebook, or from reading their comments here. I know them because I’ve read a record of their thoughts.

    Much the same way, I know God. However, there’s more involved than just knowing facts about Him because I know what He has chosen to say about Himself.

  • This post first appeared here in August 2006.

    Not An Accident


    Structure of DNA double helix

    Structure of DNA double helix

    Some atheists tell us that life is an accident and any circumstantial evidence humans come up with to the contrary is simply a trick of the mind that wishes to find patterns where none actually exist.

    But I have to wonder—how do they know that no pattern exists? It seems to me, the belief that no pattern exists is a result of believing that there is no designer to formulate a pattern. Otherwise, when element after element after element aligns in a pattern, why would you think, Yeah, but that’s just a coincidence.

    For instance, “DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.” (See “Is There a God?”) What are the chances of such an intricate “instruction manual” just happening to develop—for each cell of the human body?!

    But DNA is a quite new discovery. Long before technology allowed us such a close look, we saw designs. Humans have a small set of eye colors and hair color and skin colors, but we have an infinite number of finger prints. Can that uniqueness happen by accident?

    We could look at seasons and the hours of sunlight in the day and the rings inside a tree and weather patterns and the digestive system and breathing—we’d see evidence of design at every turn. All these particulars have such a long shot probability of happening accidentally, we might as well say it’s impossible.

    Why is it a plane can fly? Because air pressure is a constant.

    Why is it that meteors don’t fall to earth and crush us? Because our atmosphere is the right thickness to protect us.

    How can we measure time? Because the earth rotates at a constant speed and travels around the sun at a rate that doesn’t fluctuate.

    In fact, we have a set of “natural laws” that allow us to predict and study the way our universe works, including our bodies. We know that gravity pulls things toward the earth’s core. That’s an immutable law. Drop a pencil ten times, a thousand times, a billion billion times, and it will fall to the ground.

    We have laws of physics, laws of biology, laws of chemistry, laws of botany, laws of geology, laws of meteorology. And then there is math. Two plus two is always four, not sometimes four and sometimes six.

    Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”
    (Ibid)

    There is order to the world that points to anything but an accident.

    Accidents don’t produce advanced technology. As many times as those automobile safety tests have a car hit a brick wall, not once has the car come out in an advanced state.

    This just scratches the surface. I haven’t mentioned moral law or aesthetics. Each would need a post of its own.

    The fact is, order exists in our world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

    And order does not come from disorder—that’s actually one of those laws of science.

    So something ordered—not randomness, chaos, chance, or an accident—brought an ordered world into being. It’s only logical—which is also based on immutable laws. That someone looks at order and says, Caused by chance, reveals more about that someone than it does about the world.

    What kind of person would look for an answer to the question, How did an ordered world full of intricate life—balanced ecosystems and complex organisms and natural laws—and conclude that the aggregation of it all came about by happenstance? Is that a logical conclusion? Or is that a conclusion someone would reach who has already ruled out the possibility of Someone great enough to design it all perfectly?

    Take a look at just one fact about our planet, its distance from the sun:

    The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day. (Ibid)

    What are the chances?

    Well, some will tell us, given the vast number of galaxies in the universe, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s another planet just like ours with all the properties necessary for life.

    And if there is such a place, why would we think it accidentally came into being any more than the Earth? If it’s unlikely that an accident produced one orderly biosphere, how much more unlikely would it be if there are two? In other words, a second habitable planet would increase the likelihood of design, not decrease it—given the incredibly improbable odds of all the right components being present to allow for life with respiratory systems and circulatory systems and digestive systems and cognition.

    In all seriousness, I believe it takes wishful thinking to conclude that our planet, the solar system, the universe came about as a result of an accident instead of as the creation of an all powerful designer.

    Published in: on July 31, 2015 at 7:17 pm  Comments (10)  
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    Creation


    EarthriseI read the creation account in Genesis today, and I have more questions about creation now than I ever did before. It’s almost like the opposite of “familiarity breeds contempt.” Rather, the more knowledgeable I am about the events, the more curious I am about how it all worked. I see things I never saw before. And I also find myself questioning the explanations I’ve heard or read in exposition of the passage.

    Here’s one. When did God create water?

    Before the six “days” of creation start, Scripture says, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” (1:2, emphasis mine)

    So where’s that water come from? In fact where did that formless and void earth come from? The logical answer seems to be, Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    But many Bible scholars tell us today that the Jewish way of writing is not the linear approach we Greek-influenced thinkers write. Their method was cyclical. They wrote and moved a step to the left and down, then down another step, then to the left again, to the left and up, up and to the left—and they’re back in the vicinity where they started. Consequently, “God created the heavens and the earth” was not one thing followed by a different thing, but it was the great thing—the topic sentence, if you will—followed by details that expounded on it in cyclical fashion.

    Well maybe.

    As most people calculate the days of creation, then, light came first.

    But what is light? According to the day-by-day listing of creation, light came on day one but the sun didn’t come until day four. So there was light from some source apart from the sun. And that source would be what? What did God create when He created light? Was it the particle/wave electromagnetic radiation—photons that move through space at a measured speed? Except space didn’t exist yet. And this light came from what source? If there are no stars, no sun, no human whose retina responds, what is light?

    So far, we’re only on verse 3 and we have uncreated water and created light that emanates from who knows where and consists of who knows what. Hmmmm. This creation story isn’t so easy.

    But what if day one doesn’t start with light? What if verse 1 isn’t a topic sentence but actually tells us what God created in the beginning—an earth, formless and void, dark and covered with water, for which He then created light.

    Of course that doesn’t answer the question, what was the source of that light? Except we know from other places in Scripture that God Himself is light, so it would seem from His being, He brought forth light.

    All this to say, I believe the Bible one hundred percent, but it isn’t always easy. And why should it be? God who spoke the world into being isn’t exactly manageable either.

    I kind of look at the Bible like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We have the pieces and they all fit to make a whole picture, but we’re looking at the image on the box top through a murky lens called sin. It keeps us from seeing where some of the parts fit, so we have to try this piece or that to see where it belongs best. And some pieces, we just have to wait until the end when all the rest comes together before we can see clearly where they go.

    The questions about creation simply grow in number when we get to Genesis 2 where it appears God made Adam before He made other animals:

    Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (2:18-19)

    So which is it, Genesis 2 or Genesis 1:

    God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (vv25-26a)

    Of course atheists and progressives are quick to jump on such “discrepancies” and say they prove the Bible is wrong or pure myth or a fabrication from some deceiver trying to create a religion.

    These differences make me ask questions. How can this be? I know it is, because God put it in His word: “All Scripture is inspired by God . . .” God who cannot lie, who is never wrong, inspired both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. So I look for possible ways the two passages can fit together. As a result, I come up with some “what if’s.”

    Here’s the first one. What if Plato was right about his theory of forms and there exist non-material abstracts that are the highest form of reality? Consequently, before God formed animals from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2), He first formed them as a non-material reality, an abstract concept of lion (which he allowed Adam to actually name) and bear and butterfly (Gen. 1).

    It’s a “what if” and I’m sure there are other possible ways that the two can fit and both be true without chalking up the creation account to pure myth. What seems most clear to me are these two realities: 1) in the beginning God; 2) God created.

    Those are not confusing or hard concepts. They are simple, straightforward, all encompassing, and true—repeated over and over and over in Scripture with unwavering certainty. Whatever parts are murky because sin has muddled the picture, those two corner pieces are crystal clear.

    And it is from the known that we read Scripture, not from the unknown. So we take the truth of God’s existence and the truth of His creative work, and we view the Bible and the world from those basics, and others like them.

    We might have a pile of what-if’s and even some parts that have no apparent way of fitting, but we can be confident that in the end, where they belong and how it all comes together will become abundantly clear.

    Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 6:41 pm  Comments (7)  
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    A Godless Universe


    big-bang-theory-rainbow-gravityOne of the latest scientific theories, or more accurately, an idea some scientists have postulated, suggests the universe did not have an origin, that there was no Big Bang. This concept, known coincidentally as Rainbow Gravity, is an attempt to resolve incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

    In short, this idea that’s been around for about a decade, and which isn’t widely accepted by physicists, is based on gravity’s affect on different wavelengths of light, which can be seen in the colors of the rainbow (and thus the name).

    Now scientists at Cern in Switzerland believe they might find miniature black holes which would reveal the existence of a parallel universe.

    And if the holes are found at a certain energy, it could prove the controversial theory of ‘rainbow gravity’ which suggests that the universe stretches back into time infinitely with no singular point where it started, and no Big Bang.

    The theory was postulated to reconcile Einstein’s theory of general relativity – which deals with very large objects, and quantum mechanics – which looks at the tiniest building blocks of the universe. (“Big bang could be debunked”)

    I gather from my reading that the String Theory came into being to answer the same paradoxes.

    We need a new theory allowing general relativity and quantum mechanics to coexist peacefully. This theory could attempt to solve the problems of each to bring them together. Or it might start afresh and establish completely new ideas of reality.

    String theory is an example of such a theory. (“Why String Theory”)

    At issue is our understanding of such things as black holes, parallel existence in multiverses, nonexistence, and the Big Bang. And God.

    Of course none of the articles I read mentioned God. Because clearly He isn’t being considered as a possible answer to the paradoxes. Rather, these scientists are looking for the Theory of Everything (ToE).

    In fact, as one commenter noted, they aren’t following the observe-describe pattern of actual science. Instead, they have reversed the order to be describe-observe. They see a conundrum and have developed an idea to resolve it. Now they’re looking to see if they can find evidence for their ideas. But the scientists don’t agree on what this unifying theory actually looks like.

    I’m certain each of these intelligent, scholarly people has reason behind their ideas. What they don’t have is any particular evidence to believe Rainbow Gravity over String Theory or the ToE. And they also have no evidence to discount God as the Creator and Sustainer of all.

    They see problems—this truth not meshing with that truth, or these paradoxes impossibly existing together—and they can’t find a unifying principle.

    And there stands God, declaring that what He created shows us who He is:

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20)

    The net result of humankind turning our back on God is what we have been witnessing more and more with each passing year: the rise of terrorism, the redefinition of marriage, corruption in high places, racial and ethnic divides, gender confusion, and more. Scripture says it plainly:

    they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

    And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Rom. 1:25-32, emphases mine)

    I suggest every time we say it’s the woman’s right to choose, and we mean she can therefore kill her unborn baby, we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. I would also say that every time we say a person can choose the gender they feel they are instead of the one “assigned to them at birth,” we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. And I suggest when we say two people of the same gender can marry, we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator.

    As scientists struggle to understand the universe without God, so all of us struggle to understand morality without God. What is right and what is wrong?

    It can’t be whatever I feel to be right, or the hateful man who shot nine Christians in their church would be morally right—it’s what he felt was right. So too with the radical Muslim terrorists who killed over sixty people last week in their suicide bombings.

    There must be a different standard, a universal code of conduct that governs life beyond our feelings, because our feelings don’t always mesh with other people’s feelings. There is as much paradox between one person’s view of the world and another’s, as there is between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

    We need a Theory of Everything.

    Of course, some suggest tolerance is that something. Others have more recently put forth empathy. But neither of those work unless everyone agrees.

    Again, God stands above us declaring that His grace is sufficient, that His love—His empathy—is the solution to our moral struggles. That which we can’t fix, He’s already put together and made available. And it’s a gift.

    But in a godless universe, what God has revealed falls on deaf ears.

    Groaning – A Reprise


    This world is groaning. It’s the weight of sin that causes it, and it’s been going on for … well, since Eve believed Satan over God.

    I can’t help but wonder, though, if we as human beings aren’t more aware of the groaning than at any point in history. Terrorism has people across the globe on heightened alert. War and rebellion are tearing nations apart. Famine is on the increase, and the economy of the rich countries is in a shambles. Add to all this the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Japan, and most recently, Nepal; the tornadoes and flooding in the Midwestern US; snow storms on the East coast in the winter and hurricanes in the summer; and don’t forget the tsunami that devastated an already devastated Japan.

    We’re groaning.

    Professing Christians are leaving the church. Government—democratic government that was supposed to have the necessary checks and balances—is self-serving, if not corrupt. Marriage is being redefined. In other words, civilized institutions are crumbling.

    We’re groaning.

    The weight of sin is too big. Drug addiction isn’t lessening. Anxiety isn’t disappearing no matter how much we medicate. Neither is depression. Interpersonal conflicts haven’t ceased. In fact divorce is still a growing problem no matter that so many people now practice at marriage before making “lifetime” vows. Abuse continues or perhaps is on the increase. Child slavery and sex trafficking are problems that seem without end.

    We’re groaning.

    Worst of all, who can we trust? The person we love the most is the person who shatters our hopes and betrays us by their unfaithfulness. Our leaders are tarnished, our celebrities are in and out of rehab. Our pastors are selling get-rich religion or everybody-goes-to-heaven credos fabricated from their own minds.

    We are indeed groaning.

    Should I go on to mention cancer or AIDS or the fears of a worldwide pandemic? I suspect it’s not necessary.

    At every turn, we’re groaning.

    As God did during any number of crises recorded in the Bible, He is standing with open arms saying, Your way leads to destruction. My way leads to life.

    Over and over stiff-necked people ignored Him or shook their fists in His face, denying His right to rule. So it seems, we’re doing today.

    We think if we just get the right person in the White House, if we only raise taxes or cut spending, if only we’d pass an arms deal with Iran or give more aid to Israel, if we would only put boots on the ground and take care of ISIS or withdraw from the Middle East and let them fight their own battles, if only we’d pass this piece of legislation or that, solve one key problem then another, use this green technology or drill for oil there, then, at last, the world will come round aright.

    Personally we think, if only we could marry this person or get out from under a bad relationship, if only we could get hired for that job or get the promotion we had our eye on, if only we could live in a better neighborhood, had a nicer car, could afford a good vacation, didn’t have to work such long hours, had kids, didn’t have kids, if only things were different, life would be better.

    In that foolish thinking, we are ignoring the One who wants us to fix our eyes on His Son.

    “See to it,” Paul said to the Colossians, “that no one takes you captive through philosophy or empty deception according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.”

    The philosophy and empty deception of our day says we can solve our own problems, that we don’t need anything outside ourselves. We have the power within us.

    And yet, with all this great power within ( 🙄 ), we don’t seem any closer to bringing the groaning to an end. We’re looking in the wrong places.

    There isn’t a chemical high or an alcohol-induced haze that will mask the pain long enough, there isn’t a movie or video game or concert or ballgame that will distract us sufficiently, there isn’t a better relationship that will heal our shattered heart.

    Except the one God offers through Christ Jesus. He is our Hope, and He is our Salvation.

    In Him the groaning will one day come to an end.

    This article is an updated and revised version of an earlier one published here in September 2011.

    Creation Is Not Superfluous


    SolarsystemMany discussions I’ve had with atheists at some point reference the beginning of all things—the big bang and evolution or creation. Yet there are some Christians who would rather not discuss the subject. They believe what they believe and don’t see any need to answer the questions presented by people who believe differently.

    I understand this to a point. I mean, atheists have formed their theories based on the rejection of God as the first cause. Rather, they look at the heavens (astronomy and physics) and at the earth (geology, biology, and genetics) and speculate how all we see could have come into being.

    In contrast Christians have historically read the Bible and incorporated its truth into the study of all the disciplines of science. Hence the first cause of all that exists has been recognized as God, the Creator.

    With these two contrasting starting places, it’s unlikely that a theist is going to accept the evolutionary views of an atheist, or an atheist, the Creation views of a Christian, so why bother with the discussion?

    Sadly, because of certain Supreme Court rulings, the discussion of first cause in schools has been relegated to the purview of science, as if this is a knowable, observable fact which experts have proved instead of a theory under debate.

    Add to this the fact that the hard and fast belief in a six-day creation which Genesis seems to describe has been exposed as not quite as definitive as scholars once taught. There are, for example, things we don’t understand about the creation story. For example, Genesis 1:2 says God moved over the surface of the waters before the six-day process began. What else might be included in the first verse, then, which says God created the heavens and the earth? Were angelic beings created at this point? And how long did all of what God created exist before He started what we know as the six-day process?

    Then there’s the fact that Scripture refers to God accomplishing various things on the first day, second day, third day, before He created the sun by which we measure time. So were these “days” simply a mark of completed activity, not to be taken literally as lasting 24 hours?

    Then there’s the matter of Scripture stating that to God a day is as a thousand years. In other words, He’s beyond time. Could His creative day have been a thousand or a billion years?

    These are questions we can speculate about, but there’s no place where we have the answers recorded for us.

    Which, in the minds of some, opens up the whole creation process to the possibility of evolution. Some have opted for “theistic evolution” which suggests that God initiated the evolutionary chain of events. Few, it would seem, go so far as to believe in the common descent theory that says all of life evolved from one original source. One such idea is “the belief that God created a set of ‘kinds’ of plants and animals at the beginning of Creation” (Wikipedia) Most retain the uniqueness of man. The problem with this theory is a big one: evolution requires death and according to Scripture, death came into the world because of Man’s sin.

    Of course, evolution has problems of its own, the greatest being the existence of anything before anything came into being! Then there is the mathematical improbability of random matter and energy coming together to create a “last universal ancestor”—or that first life. In addition there’s the problem of entropy—the thermodynamic law that suggests that order does not come from disorder. So the random convergence of matter and energy, even if possible, would not order itself into more and more complex forms with the intricate patterns we now know DNA to have.

    Unless there were a Designer, a Creator, a guiding hand ordering what would not other wise be ordered.

    Finally there’s the absence of “transitional forms between species”–fossil findings of evolving creatures who were in the process of changing from one species to another.

    So here’s the summation of all this. None of us was present at creation. We either have to believe what atheists say about the random beginning of everything (trusting in theories based on some scientific observation while ignoring other known facts) or we have to believe the Biblical account with all its lack of clarity. Either way there are unanswerable questions.

    I suspect at this point, some will say, Hey, better to be the guy who keeps his ideas to himself and doesn’t get caught up talking about something we can’t ever actually know (until Glory). But I’ll tell you, I think that’s why we are in the situation we’re in today, with public schools passing off evolutionary theory as if it is proven fact when it is not.

    Yes, we know a species can evolve. It’s called micro-evolution. Take the honey bee here in the US, for example. When the more virulent African bee was accidentally introduced into the Americas, the honey bee population began to diminish and the African variety to become more dominant.

    However, there still is no concrete proof of cross-species evolution. Some say the universal genetic code is such proof, but it isn’t. Because God created all, since we all come from the same mind, why should we think there wouldn’t be a commonality all share?

    In fact, I think we’re approaching a crisis point. We have young men who have been steeped in evolutionary theory during their school years becoming pastors and youth ministers. What will they teach their congregation, their youth groups?

    Here’s what we know about creation and it is sure: God created. We can dither about the way He chose to do so, but we must not question that He is the First Cause, the only One capable of bringing all life and existence into being because He is the I AM, the pre-existent One. The Bible makes no equivocation about this fact and neither should Christians.

    Do you not know? Have you not heard?
    The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
    Does not become weary or tired.
    His understanding is inscrutable. (Isaiah 40:28)

    That, my friends, is the truth about origins. It makes the discussion of Creation vital, not superfluous theological gobbledygook.

    Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 6:51 pm  Comments (6)  
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