Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Christians and Philosophy

Cowboys riding the long trail usually clam up, but once in a while, someone commences philosophizing. When the subject is met with little more than grunts from the others, silence ensues again. If you study on it, it seems that everybody has a philosophy of some sort. There are many philosophers throughout history, and many are relegated to history books.

Some people are put off by philosophy, some do not care, some are enthusiastic. The Bible actually has a great deal to say about it.
Le Philosophe by Henri Martin
When people talk about philosophers, images of smug intellectuals taking solitary walks and pondering, or discussing their versions of the meaning of life while smoking pipes. I have stated that I find philosophy useless because I have no use for the ideas of Kierkegaard, Rousseau, Kant, and so on. However, I learned a few things about philosophy since then, especially the practice and purpose.

Some folks shy away from philosophy as ungodly, referring to Colossians 2:8. Context, people! Chasing after worldly philosophies can be very harmful, but the Bible is actually loaded with philosophy. Regular readers know that I emphasize logic, which is a branch of philosophy. So are ethics (morality, right and wrong), the nature of reality, and the study of knowledge.

"But Cowboy Bob, I don't care a whit about philosophy. I study science!"

Science is a philosophical means of interpreting evidence according to one's worldview. Also, ask the scientist who has a doctorate what PhD stands for. So, someone who shuns philosophy in favor of science is still doing philosophy.

Just like having some knowledge of evolution is important for a biblical creationist (many creationist scientists are former atheist evolutionists), a knowledge of some of the basic secular views can be helpful. Remember, however, that true wisdom and knowledge are found in God's Word.
A colleague of mine once said, “Stay away from philosophy.  The Bible says that philosophy is bad and that we should avoid it.”  But does the Bible really say that?  What exactly is philosophy, and what does the Bible really say about it?
The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek word meaning “love of knowledge” or “love of wisdom.”  In this sense, the Bible is very pro-philosophy.  The Bible commends obtaining both knowledge and wisdom.  Proverbs 2:6 states, “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Proverbs 3:13 states, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.”  But what is meant by the English word ‘philosophy’ and does the Bible really condemn it?
To read the rest, click on "Beware of Philosophy!"


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Listen to my Bible Story?

Our choice of words is vital when we want to communicate about important subjects. An important reason of this is the connotations of words. For example, my mother took exception to my description of a fragrance: it reeks. It did reek, but that word implies that the fragrance was unpleasant.


Words change their meanings over time, and have different associations now than they had before. One of these is the word "story".
Credit: Clker clipart
Words change their meanings over the years. One example is in Genesis 1:28 KJV, where God commanded mankind and animals to replenish the earth. Back in 1611, that was understood to mean fill, but newer translations avoid replenish. In A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of Black Peter", we read: "The outhouse was the simplest of dwellings, wooden-walled, shingle-roofed, one window beside the door and one on the farther side. Stanley Hopkins drew the key from his pocket and had stooped to the lock, when he paused with a look of attention and surprise upon his face." As Americans can probably see, an outhouse is more aptly named than the American, uh, relief station.

Our focus is the word story. It has several meanings, including a valid historical account, but it can also mean fictions that cowboys tell while riding the trail back to Dodge. I was told a story (as in, "We want to tell you our experience") about two American sisters visiting another country. The tour guide presented something rather fanciful, and one sister said to the other, "That's a story!" Problem was, the guide had just stopped talking and many people heard the remark.

It has reached a point now that when we tell Bible stories such as Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the Resurrection, and others, people tend to think of them as cute and fun, not as important historical events. I'll allow that it's a mite frustrating at times to avoid referring to the story of Jesus changing water into wine because of the positive use of the word story. We need to do a rethink, and find valid substitutes so people — especially children — know that these are not simple entertainment when we are doing serious apologetics. Fortunately, the article linked below gives us a few options.
I grew up with Bible “stories.” I heard them in Sunday School and youth programs. I read books about Bible “stories.” I was taught about Bible “stories” for years and years. People have compared Bible stories with other stories and fictional movies like the Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Aesop’s Fables, or Star Wars. I even talked about Bible “stories” when teaching in the past.

But all that changed.

One day I made a comment about the evolutionary “story.” I had a man come up to me, and he was clearly not happy. He was very upset that I had called evolution a “story,” because to him, it wasn’t a “story” but the “truth.” He was okay with me calling biblical accounts “stories,” because, as he put it, ”the Bible was full of myths and fictional accounts so they could rightly be called stories.” But how dare I call evolution “a story” in his view.
To finish reading, click on "What’s Wrong with the Word Story?" And please get rid of those dreadful bathtub-style cutesie Noah's Ark things. Don't you want the kids to take the Flood and God's Judgment seriously?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Science and the Depravity of Man

It is interesting and sometimes fun to identify ways in which scientists have discovered things that were in the Bible long before. Yes, we know, the Bible is not a science textbook. When scientific items are mentioned, however, it is always correct. It seems that scientists are learning about human depravity.


Another place where secular science inadvertently supports the Bible is the depravity of man. They may begin to realize that materialism cannot produce moraltiy.
Credit: Freeimages / Cyan Li
God's Word tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart of man is (depending on the translation) desperately sick, wicked corrupt, incurable. Our righteousness is repulsive to God (Isaiah 64:6, Psalm 10:4, Ephesians 2:1-5). We may have the notion that we are good people and God looks on us fondly, bragging to the angels about how wonderful we are, but that is the opposite of the truth. Our hearts are deceitful and corrupt, and we think we are doing good things for the right reasons, but that's not necessarily the case. Sure, sometimes people will do great things, but that is because God has placed knowledge of himself in our hearts (Romans 2:15), even though people try to suppress knowledge of God (Romans 1:18).

A major tenet of several denominations is often called the total depravity of man. That name is a mite misleading because some folks may take it to mean that nobody does anything good, ever, but Jesus shows in Luke 11:11-13 that we are capable of some good. But we are likely to do something rotten. That's why we have jails and such.

There are people who claim that they do not need the Bible to give them morality, that they have it in themselves — such a claim supports the Bible. Others say that they get their morality from evolution instead of the Creator. Survival of the fittest? That justifies all sorts of wickedness, including lying, cheating, stealing, even murder. If those things help someone to survive, why not do them? Indeed, atheism, evolutionism, and materialism cannot account for morality; if someone is helping himself survive better, the materialist cannot be consistent in his or her worldview by raising objections to being on the receiving end.

Since secularists deny God, they attempt to alleviate human problems with social programs, psychology. Their false salvation fails almost from the onset, and cannot replace the real thing. Some researchers have confirmed what God has told us all along about human nature. They conducted some rather interesting studies.
Science reveals that people are just like what the Bible says they are: image-bearers of their Creator, yet fallen into sin.

If evolution is true, people would be incapable of apprehending objective reality or agreeing on immutable moral standards. They would be selfish and concerned only with survival. If the Bible is true, by contrast, people would be exceptionally noble above the animals, would have an innate sense of right and wrong, and yet would have a bent toward sin that could be overcome by trust and obedience in their Maker (in this life, at least partially). Evaluate the likely correct view, considering these recent empirical observations.
To read the rest, click on "Science Confirms Biblical Human Nature". A short article fits this subject well, "Psychologist Confirms Depravity of Man". Finally, "Secular Materialism vs Morality", which has a satirical piece by David F. Coppedge on cannibal rights in the future.



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