Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Answering the Critics Without Being Foolish

There is a pair of verses that may perplex Christians at first glance, and scoffers call it biblical contradiction. This is Proverbs 26:4-5. The claim that they are a contradiction is easily dismissed, but the question about not answering a fool according to his folly, followed by answering, can be clarified. It is also a powerful method for defending and presenting the faith.

Christians are to engage with unbelievers who want to have good discussions, but we must not let them derail a talk and be foolish ourselves.
Originally, this now-public domain image by Sidney Paget
was used to illustrate the 1903 Sherlock Holmes story "The Empty House"
The Bible makes it clear that God calls unbelievers fools. That's not God being on the prod and calling them stupid, but it is deeper than that because it is about character, not intelligence (although some exhibit a lack of intelligence).

Do a Bible search with theWord, other software, or online and look for fool, foolish, and similar words. It's not gratuitous abuse. I can't think of a good way to open a discussion by telling someone that he or she is a fool, that would be counterproductive. Nor should any Christian be smug when dealing with unbelievers (unlike some groups I could mention who have the "one true doctrine", but never mind about that now). After all, we want them to come to Christ!

Also, many misotheists try to put Christians on the defensive with assertions, generalities, accusations, and so on. Such things are frequently used to derail the discussion — suddenly, it is on their terms. There are ways to handle these tactics and keep them on the subject without joining in their folly.

Instead of my self-consciously cringing internally whenever someone asked about my faith, my one-on-one conversations with non-believers became fun and exciting—not least because of the potential eternal benefits for them! I’d like to recount here one such conversation, not just because it was tremendously encouraging and memorable for me, but also because in hindsight I can see I unwittingly brought into play a number of scriptural injunctions relating to evangelism, including ones that atheists wrongly say are contradictory: Proverbs 26:4 and 5.

The conversation extended unbroken for more than three hours during a commercial airline flight from the northern Australian city of Darwin to Brisbane on the east coast.

To read the full article, see "Answering fools’ folly". Also recommended is "Fool-Proof Apologetics — A Powerful Way to Defend the Christian Faith".

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Species Extinctions, Earth Day, and Christian Stewardship

Earth Day was established on Lenin's 100th birthday and is most definitely not just a good idea for conservation and care of the planet. Political and economic Machiavellian machinations aside, however, many people sincerely want to do good things for the world.

Although Earth Day is also Lenin's birthday and saturated with evolution and Marxism, Christians have a responsibility to care for endangered species.
I thought you otter know that this photo was taken by Joe Tomoleoni for the USGS
(Also, I hope you sea that usage does not imply endorsement of site contents)
Unfortunately, the environmental movement is saturated with evolutionary thinking. That is, humans and other living things ultimately came from a common ancestor. To be consistent, why should we care that various species are becoming extinct or are endangered? We crawled to the top of the food chain, so we should reign supreme and do whatever we please, right? Fortunately, secularists, pagans, evolutionists, and others are not consistent.

Christians (and especially biblical creationists) should care about the environment — God has created us in his image, and we are stewards of living things. Not just the cute ones, either. When a species is removed from an ecosystem, there is a kind of domino effect that affects other creatures.

Secular environmentalists are quite concerned about disappearing species. But how are Christians to respond to the loss of these creatures?

. . . 

We should also preserve species for the benefits we might derive from them. God’s design in nature inspires new technologies (biomimicry) that make our lives safer and our products more efficient. For example, scientists looked at whale fin design to create a better model for airplane propellers, and a recent study of mussel adhesion could help create a product to clean up oil spills.

Today many prescribed medicines come from plants or other natural products, and scientists are constantly turning to nature for its health benefits. . . .

Beyond considering the practical reasons for preserving species from extinction, we must remember that creation exists, in part, to declare God’s glory and remind us to worship him. His invisible attributes are manifested in the physical creation (Romans 1:20). His infinite wisdom and artistry are also revealed in the stunning engineering, aesthetics, and symmetry of all life. With every extinct species, we lose valuable insight into our heavenly Father’s creative mind, characteristics, and care for his creatures.

To read the full article or listen to the audio version, see "Should We Abandon Some Species to Extinction?"

This song by Camille and Kennerly is a tribute to their grandmother, who had recently passed away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Evaluating Truth Claims in Genesis

Some people try to dismiss Genesis as myth containing spiritual truth using elements from the pagan neighbors of the Hebrews. Others say it is misunderstood, as if the Creator of the universe was unable to communicate with us. With closer inspection, we see that Genesis is a historical narrative.

Regarding Genesis 1-3, some people say there was a communication problem between God and us, or that it was myth. A closer look reveals the truth.
Credit: RGBStock / Billy Frank Alexander
The idea that the early chapters of Genesis are mythological should not be accepted by professing Christians, as there are serious problems that result. (One of these is that Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others referred to these chapters as literal history, so by denying this, one is calling them liars!) Also, there are repercussions with the gospel message.

Read some classical mythology, then come back to Genesis and see the difference. Myths are vague and have a different flow, but the Bible is precise. Indeed, even the sequence of creation days is specific — a day itself is defined. Interestingly, many translations have in Genesis 1:5 less accurate by using, "...the first day". The New American Standard, Revised Standard Version, Christian Standard Bible, International Standard Version, and several others have this detail correct.

In The Genesis Account, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati wrote:

The days of Genesis 1 have an interesting pattern in the Hebrew, which is not often reflected in English translations. The first day has a cardinal number (i.e. one, two, three …), yôm echad (יום אחד) Day One. The others have ordinal numbers, which are used to refer, for example, to the order of runners finishing a race (second, third, fourth … ). But in Genesis 1:5, the ordinal ‘first day’ (which would be yôm ri’shôn יום ראשון) is not used.

Also, days 2–5 lack an article (ה, ha, ‘the’) while days 6–7 have one on the number but not on the day. So a literal translation of Creation Week would be Day One; a second day; a third day; a fourth day; a fifth day; a day, the sixth; a day, the seventh. One English translation which correctly reflects the presence or absence of the articles is the NASB. For example, for Genesis 1:5, the ESV’s “the first day” doesn’t reflect the Hebrew as well as the NASB’s “one day”. The LXX also reflects the Hebrew article pattern, except for lacking an article on the sixth day.1

I took the liberty of stressing a couple of points that are not emphasized in the article linked below, which is less technical on Hebrew. The main point is that the early chapters of Genesis are written as historical narrative, and God knows how to communicate.
Many Christian scholars have suggested that Genesis 1–3 was never meant to convey historical truth. Instead, they say it is like one of Christ’s New Testament parables. God merely shared a made-up story to convey spiritual truths. Does the Bible give us any clear guidance to know for certain whether Genesis 1–3 is a parable?

After all, as Christians, we believe that there is only one particular way to understand the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, His perfect and personal communication to His people for all time (2 Timothy 3:16). Accordingly, we cannot carelessly read the Scripture any way we want. To rightly understand His Word pleases Him (2 Timothy 2:15), but to twist the Scriptures offends Him and can lead to destruction (2 Peter 3:16). God has placed a premium on grasping what He really said.

To read the rest or listen to the audio by an excellent reader, follow "Genesis—The Original Myth Buster".

1Sarfati, Dr. Jonathan D., The Genesis Account: A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11. MOBI edition, Creation Book Publishers, October 2015. The Hebrew may differ slightly from this book, as it would not copy well and I had to obtain it elsewhere on the web.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Misotheists and the Blue Pill

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article has several related sources that refer to the movie The Matrix, which has made its mark on modern culture. It added to discussions about living in a computer simulation, and the red pill/blue pill concepts have been quite interesting.

Some people define reality as atheistic naturalism, then ridicule those of us who believe reality comes from God. They took the blue pill, not us.
The popular "What if I told you...?" line in the "memes" was not used in the move.

In a previous article, I wrote about how narcissists, sociopaths, narcissistic atheopaths, and the like manipulate other people for their own purposes. This is somewhat related because many are attempting to create their own reality. One of my references was the YouTube channel of Matt Cross and "Alpha Male Secrets". While most of his content about how to get the girls and be the most interesting man in the room have no appeal to me (Christians should sanctify Jesus as Lord in their hearts and seek to please him more than anyone else), Matt has some interesting things to consider.

In this video, he discusses the blue pill concept and how people are essentially taking it to escape from reality. This alternative reality is found in movies, superheroes (living vicariously through those who have great powers), video games, and so on: people are not accepting their own lives. It is about escaping reality. Matt also hates pornography and says how it contributes to false perceptions. (Do those videos show real people who actually like each other?) Guys watch the models who are chosen for their appearances, to get views, and sell subscriptions to porn sites — then think that real women are like those portrayed in videos.

Mr. Cross has a problem that I've learned to call truth out of balance. Several things in his video are true, but are too extreme. He dislikes escapism because he would rather be working on ways to improve his life and his business pursuits, or other things that are based in reality. As Christians, we are to seek the kingdom of God and to glorify him. There is nothing wrong with having a bit of escapism to decompress. (F'rinstance, I read, write, and screen material to post, but I read a bit of fiction and watch some television). Like anything else, when escapism becomes dominant in someone's life, it becomes a form of idolatry.

By the way, who cares about the identity of someone walking through the observation deck in the opening credits of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Professing atheists are usually naturalists (nature is all that exists), and they presuppose that reality itself can only be explained in this way. When presenting material that refutes their worldview and especially evolution, their responses include calling Christians and creationists "reality deniers" and simple denial of scientific facts. Some are so desperate to suppress the truth, they humiliate and refute themselves. Mayhaps it would be helpful to actually read the material before making knee-jerk reactions? For example, see this screenshot (I cut out the image in the middle):

Used under Fair Use provisions for educational purposes (click for larger)

To jump back to the video by Matt Cross, I've checked profiles on social(ist) media of naturalistic atheists. Many are saturated with anime, superheroes, and other escapism that has nothing to do with reality. And sports. Lots of sports. (Sadly, some professing Christians give such things a priority, then wonder why their spiritual lives are disappointing.) Those of us who believe the Bible know that science, numbers, logic, and everything else are impossible without God. We are not the ones who take the blue pill and deny reality. We affirm it.

The video that inspired this article has a great deal of profanity and some crude content. With that disclaimer, those who want to see it anyway can click here.

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