Monday, April 16, 2012

Should We Clam Up about the Outlandish Stuff?

If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.
Elizabeth Rundle Charles, wrongly attributed to Martin Luther

Do you have outlandish beliefs and doctrines? I don't mean strange cult stuff like the serpent seed doctrine or that you must speak in tongues or you are not saved. But then, I did not start with a fair question. Actually, do you think that your beliefs are outlandish, or seem outlandish to unbelievers? Further, are you embarrassed and hide your beliefs?

Are you embarrassed about your biblical creation beliefs? Should we just shut up about them to appease others? That becomes a downward spiral.Regular readers know that I am Biblical ("young earth") creationist. I reject evolution because the science supports creation, and I reject it on Scriptural grounds. This is horrible, outrageous, outlandish and even offensive to atheists. It is also offensive to many Christians who have compromised on the Word of God. That's right, I said it! Some people want to force-fit millions or billions of years into the plain reading of the text to accommodate evolution. Why is that? Perhaps because they've never learned that evolution is not science, but a philosophy about the past based on scientific principles. Maybe they've been told to disbelieve creation by people they admire. Or it's possible that they simply do not believe the Bible very much. One other thing I've noticed is that some people have not bothered to think things through, and are comfortable in their opinions.

Listen, I know full well that young-earth creationism is not an essential for salvation. Nor is it a requirement to disbelieve in evolution (despite the misrepresentations of atheists to that effect). A literal interpretation of Genesis is important. Very important. It affects our understanding of the gospel message, and rejecting its historicity causes all sorts of doctrinal problems down the line. But it is faith in Jesus that saves you, not your view of evolution and Genesis. Again, it's important, but not a requirement for salvation. A note to those who misrepresent us: I do not know of any young-earth creationist organization that contradicts what I said.

Some people want to dodge the issue and hate to admit that they believe the Bible, and that Genesis is written to be literal history, not allegory or poetry. They may not be ashamed of the gospel message itself, but are embarrassed about that view.

What if it went away? What if for some reason you never had to be embarrassed about the first eleven chapters of Genesis ever again?

Christians believe some strange things:
  • The Trinity
  • A talking donkey
  • Parting of the Red Sea
  • Prophesies about the birth of Jesus
  • The virgin birth
  • Prophesies about the crucifixion of Jesus
  • The bodily resurrection from the dead
  • Salvation, the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • The resurrection from the dead of everyone
  • The second coming
Do any of these cause you embarrassment? Let's face it, as Christians, we believe some strange things. We trust God as revealed in his Word, and the leading of the Spirit. We also know that there is logical evidence to believe the Bible in the first place.

But people give us funny looks and walk away.

I'm saying that we need to take a stand for the truth no matter if other people find reasons to laugh at us. If they laugh at us for believing in Genesis, then they'll find another excuse to laugh at us.

So, use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6.17). Unbelievers live in the material realm, and we are citizens of Heaven. Things of the Spirit, which they deny, are actually a part of us. Let's not be afraid to take our stand for the truth!

 

Theistic Evolution and Morality

Evolutionists answer questions like, "Where did consciousness come from? Why do we like — and make — music? Where did the laws of logic come from? When did the laws of nature take effect" by offering guesses, speculation and more theories. They do not make sense, but only raise more questions.

Theistic evolution is the belief that evolution happened, then they tack God's name onto it as if it is a blessing. (But if evolution happened, who needs God?) For them, God used the amazingly inefficient, wasteful and cruel method of evolution in his creation. Of course, the Bible does not mean what it says in Genesis, and they have as much tap-dancing with compromise and excuses as the atheistic evolutionists have.

Here's a question to fluster theistic evolutionists: How do they explain the origin of morality?
In recent years there has been a growing body of literature in which theistic evolutionists advance arguments in support of their belief that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation. As they see it, there are mainly two obstacles in the way of an evolutionary account of morality: reductionism in science and a literal-historical reading of Genesis 1–3. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to some of their theological and philosophical arguments and the problems they create for both themselves and young-earth creationists. My starting points are the biblical picture of natural kinds, the image of God, and Jesus’ understanding of Genesis 1–3. I then evaluate some of the weaknesses in the main arguments theistic evolutionists advance in support of their evolutionary account of morality. The conclusion is that theistic evolutionism is not only inconsistent with Scripture but also philosophically incoherent.
Read the rest of "Can Theistic Evolutionism Explain the Origin of Morality?", here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Day at a Time


A straightforward reading of the creation accounts in Genesis give the impression that the days were literal days. Which is fine, because things like the "Gap Theory", "Progressive Creation", "Theistic Evolution", "Day-Age Theory" — these are modern inventions, and certainly not taught by the majority of the church fathers. Some people are claiming that the Hebrew does not mean a literal day, despite what has been believed for centuries.
In 1983, as a Junior, I walked into the University of Georgia’s religion building terrified. The professor was an expert in Hebrew from Yale University. I had been a Christian for only two years, and I wanted to learn that language.
I knew that the religion department doubted the authorship of Old Testament books. For them, the myth Enuma Elish was more important for understanding Genesis than was Moses, Paul, or Jesus. Most of them believed that evolution disproved Christianity once and for all. Jesus was just a man, and the Bible was a book like any other book—written only by man and full of errors.
I knew at the core of this secular approach to Bible study was the axiom that human reason is supreme. They believed that scholars are over, rather than under, God’s Word. So I anxiously wondered how studying Hebrew in a secular setting might help or hurt my faith.
You can read the rest of "24 Hours — Plain as Day", here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Naming Names

"Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words."
2 Tim. 4.14-15 NKJV

"So forget about the Young Earth Creationists, Adam! Why let them stand between you and God? Why not receive God's transforming grace yourself and then be better than the Young Earthers? You know that I don't hold their views about the age of the universe. Neither do most evangelical Christians, despite the high profile of their movement in churches. So why not become a Christian and then be a better thinker than they are?"

It is with trepidation that I write this article. I have endeavored to avoid doing the thing that I detest, which appears to be public humiliation of those with whom I have disagreements. I was using Matthew 18.15-17 and avoiding going public. Then I received some instruction from Answers In Genesis that made me want to slap myself on the head because I felt that I should have seen this: Jesus is talking about private concerns. The Apostle Paul named the people who harmed him and the gospel message because it was public, and they were resisting his message, or even teaching heresies (2 Tim. 2.17-18). The Apostle John also "called out" someone (3 John 1.9-10).

This means that I do not feel that I need to always hide the names of people who are damaging the faith.

First, I have attempted to point out some problems that I have with J. Warner Wallace of "Please Convince Me" by writing directly to him. If I received responses at all, they were brief and perfunctory. I had attempted to point out some serious theological problems that he has when he holds to some kind of old Earth viewpoint and what appears to be progressive creation. I was attempting to overlook his compromise as long as I could, but when he began (as it sounded to me) misrepresenting Presuppositional Apologetics in his defense of Evidentialism, I quietly removed links to his sites from my pages.

Next, I need to deal with the famous apologist and philosopher, William Lane Craig. Yes, that's right, a nobody like me taking issue with a revered icon of the faith. I do things like that. And he made logical fallacies in his remarks, but never mind about that now.

Dr. Craig has made me uncomfortable for some time now. I knew that he did not hold to a Scriptural view of Genesis, but I did not know that he held Christians who believe the Bible in contempt, as you can see from the quote near the top. Perhaps he will hook up with compromiser Hugh Ross. Actually ridiculing fellow believers like that does not do much to fulfill the commands to love one another (John 13.34-35, Romans 13.8, Ephesians 4.2, Ephesians 5.2, Colossians 3.14, Hebrews 13.1, James 2.8, 1 Peter 1.22, 1 Peter 4.8, 1 John 3.11, 1 John 4.21 — no, nothing that I could find that justified mocking those who believe God's Word).  I did not try to contact Craig personally because his offense was blatant ridicule, and Wallace has not done that. But I had quietly removed my links to his site as well. My respect for each of them took a beating.

The reason I have problems with each of them is simple: Lack of respect for Biblical authority. Some apologists can run rings around you logically, but are lacking as theologians. Although I have serious doubts that either one of them will read this, I still have to ask: If you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, what kind of message do you think you're sending? You give evidences and plead your case that the Bible is trustworthy, that God exists and so on, but then say, "We can't believe the first chapters of Genesis as written". Not only is that confusing to a potential new believer, but helps to undermine the faith of believers. God takes a dim view of interfering with someone's faith (Luke 17.2, 1 Cor. 8.13).

I am going to take this to what I consider the logical conclusion. There are many reasons to believe that Genesis is written as literal history. (Actually, I think it looks foolish on the surface to dismiss the first eleven chapters, and then say it's literal history from that point on. Many of my reasons are spelled out in this Weblog, including the fact that Genesis is foundational to the entire gospel message.) If you are going to dismiss Genesis as myth, allegory, just plain wrong because "science" currently indicates something else, where do you stop? Do you believe that Jesus actually existed? A minority of antagonistic archaeologists and historians say he did not. Do you believe in the virgin birth? It's unscientific. How about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Impossible, science does not support that.

What's that you say? You do believe in those things like other Christians, including Fundamentalists, Biblical creationists and the like? You do believe that the blood of Christ is necessary for salvation, that there is no other name given by which we must be saved? You do believe that through Jesus Christ, you shall be resurrected to eternal life? You do believe that he is coming again? You do believe that God is one, manifested in three distinct persons? Wow. So why do you insist on using the ever-changing whims of man-made science philosophies to tell God what he said in the first chapters of the Bible?

For Dr. Craig and Detective Wallace, and for anyone else who wants to use "science" to interpret the Bible, I suggest — no, I implore you — that some serious self-examination is in order. Especially on your views of Biblical authority.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Christian's View on an Atheist's View

This is an unusual approach to an article for me. I will be showing you some correspondence that I had with a reporter for The Christian Post. He was asking my views regarding a new book on creationism by an atheist (an associate professor of mathematics). It was not to be a book review, but rather, my comments about his remarks. Also, to offer my thoughts about the recent inappropriately named "Reason Rally". The following is copied and pasted from my reply to his letter. You can tell that I was in a hurry to get some pertinent thoughts to him (I opened the e-mail at about 3.15 PM and fired it back to him by about 4.15), but I also wanted to give him plenty of material so he could select what was needed. Added comments will be marked by brackets [like so].Let me emphasize that I have no quarrel with what Michael Gryboski wrote
here, in "Atheist Professor Pens Book About the 'Anti-Evolution Frontline'"
! He does his job, and I do mine. Right now, I want to use the material that I offered to him in case he needed it and offer it to my readers.

Michael kindly gave me his permission to reproduce his letter and my reply. My comments are in bright blue and in a different typeface.


On 03/27/2012 14:33, Michael Gryboski wrote:
Greetings, 

 I know this is a bit last minute, but I would like to get your perspective on a book that will soon be released on hardback. Here is a link to my story source:

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2012/03/23/an-atheist-reports-back-on-his-tour-among-creationists/
[I hope my readers will look at the linked story so that my comments below make sense. I am amazed that Forbes would allow such shoddy, biased and manipulative reporting to be associated with their name.] 
I would like to ask you a couple questions on the record regarding the matter. A response by 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time would be much appreciated. Here are my questions:

1. What is your opinion of evolutionist's Jason Rosenhouse's efforts to understand your side of the argument?
First, the article in Forbes is highly biased and skewed. That author uses loaded terminology and states that creationists are sneaky people trying to get the Bible taught. Strange, the creationist organizations from whom I obtain information are decidedly against teaching creationism per se. Evolution is not "under attack" (or if it is, I would like to have seen a quote from the bill itself instead of the author's pejorative terminology Edit: Some excerpts and a discussion of the Tennessee bill are here). Creationists want evolution taught, and also want evidence for creation and Intelligent Design taught as well; present all the facts, let the students decide. Evolutionists try very hard to protect their philosophies of historical science against contrary evidence. Just look at the efforts to outlaw the teaching of creation in England, and small-scale efforts to do so in the US (including a petition online at WhiteHouse.gov).

Rosenhouse attended "events", detailing only three of them. He complained about the lack of "scholarly literature in this area". Yet, there are many technical articles from a variety of scientific disciplines available online. Did he bother to check those, and the credentials of the creationist scientists? At PiltdownSuperman.com, I feature several articles a week from assorted disciplines, ranging from very technical to the layperson's level. Frankly, most evolutionists that I have encountered online who attempt to discredit creation science are woefully uninformed as to what is really taught and believed by creationists.

2. What was your opinion of the Reason Rally event? Do you believe it will have long term influences on the Creation - Evolution debate?
The "New Atheists" are not using anything new in their arguments, and are noted for lack of reasoning abilities. (In fact, their co-opting the terms "rationalist", "reason" and so forth for themselves, that they are reasonable by virtue of being atheists, is based on a genetic fallacy. It is two-edged, implying that non-atheists are not "reasonable". Ironic.) The only thing "new" is their level of vituperation. When Richard Dawkins called for ridicule (as Lillian Kwon reported http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheists-rally-for-reason-urged-to-mock-the-religious-72033/), well, they are already doing that [ridicule]. I expect the amount of ridicule to increase for a while, but Christians are being more informed about what and why they believe, to be able to present these things, and some of us are strongly urging Christians to learn some basics about logic so that they are not intimidated by angry atheist rhetoric and manipulation. I have stopped many atheists in their tracks who call themselves "rational" and who love "reason", but utilize the most basic logical fallacies. Some of the greatest scientists, past and present, have been Bible-believing Christians. We need to reclaim the ground that has been surrendered to secularists, and realize that God gave us minds to use.

When Biblical creationists become better informed about creation (and learn about evolution in this process) as well as engage in critical thinking, we can point out the flaws in evolutionary thinking and presuppositions. Then, we can show that the evidence best supports creation, not chance. That is, if people are willing to actually listen and think without evolutionary biases for at least a little while, and hear our side of the story, so to speak.

3. It seems as though over the past year efforts to get Creation Science, Intelligent Design, or at the very least a more critical view of Evolution in the classrooms is on the rise. What do you attribute to this apparent growth in anti-evolution efforts? 
I am not comfortable with the term "anti-evolution efforts", first of all. That implies legislative efforts to eliminate evolution, and implies efforts to create a kind of theocracy. Do not want!

As I said above, we want people to be informed about both evolution and design. Biblically, I am anti-evolution, but that is because I am opposed to compromise on the Word of God within the church. But I do not want to require the Bible to be taught in public schools. Instead, the scientific evidence for creation/ID should be presented without suppression so that people can think intelligently about the issue of origins. It has been said before, and I fully agree: To present only one side of origins and to suppress scientific information about the other side is not education, it is brainwashing.


4. Despite going to multiple Creation Science events, Rosenhouse is unconvinced on the scientific merit of Creation Science. Why do you believe this is so? 

Because of his own biases and presuppositions. There is no such thing as being neutral. Nobody is unbiased! As Ken Ham says, "It's a matter of which bias is the best bias to be biased with". I'm biased because I have the truth.

Also, evolutionists and atheists are threatened by creationists and ID proponents because it shakes up their worldview. I have seen some pitiful attempts to cling to evolutionary thinking, even after it has been discredited. (When I pointed out that even one DNA molecule is far to complex to have evolved by chance, one guy said that maybe it was less complex "back then"! Or the citing of discredited and disproved evolutionary "proofs" have astonished me.) If life, the universe and everything did not happen by chance, that means there is a Creator, and we should find out what he has to say!


Thanks in advance, 

 Michael Gryboski