Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complexity in DNA, & the Resurrection of Christ

“If the Bible is not the Word of God and inspired, the whole of Christendom for 1800 years has been under an immense delusion; half the human race has been cheated and deceived, and churches are monuments of folly. If the Bible is the Word of God and inspired, all who refuse to believe it are in fearful danger; they are living on the brink of eternal misery. No man, in his sober senses, can fail to see that the whole subject demands most serious attention.”
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Life, death, truth, falsehood, we face down the greatest questions of our time on this website.  And why not anyhow?  Dare we dismiss all inquiry, sacrificed at the altar of post-modernism?  Should we dismiss all comprehension of a creator to give ourselves an open season to depravity?  No, we shall not!  Truth is truth, and we must know it while the chance is available to us.

In the United States we love experts.  We look to the experts for everything from psychology to politics and of course to the sciences.  Expert testimony is vital in determining if indeed there is a God, or if there is not.  Unfortunately the playing field is not always even.  Or as Dr. Ravi Zacharias said, "Man's problem is not the absence of evidence but the suppression of it."

Since the famed scopes trial evolutionary biology has fought it's way from the outside, to the very center of the US educational system.  Darwinian evolution is powerful and entrenched.  Dissent is silenced, yet many brave men and women, scientists, have the courage to stand for the truth.  What can we learn from them?  Did we really rise from the muck?  Or does the emperor have no clothes?  

Next we look at complexity in DNA, observed by scientists as evidence for the existence of God.  Given such severe complexity, such incredible loads of information, what conclusions can we draw?

Finally, we look at the very center of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Before we dismiss the miraculous as impossible, perhaps we should recheck that underlying assumption.  Are miracles really absurd?  Is there solid evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  And is it really so ludicrous to think that the God who made the universe from nothing could bring back this man from the dead?  Consider these questions, and the assumptions underneath prior beliefs when examining these quotations from great thinkers across the ages.  Enjoy.

The Demise of Evolution

 “Scientists who utterly reject evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities...Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science.” –Larry Hatfield, “Educators Against Darwin,” Science Digest Special (Winter 1979), pp. 94-96.

“These are exciting times. When I finished the Epilogue to Darwin on Trial in 1993, I compared evolutionary naturalism to a great battleship afloat on the Ocean of Reality. The ship's sides are heavily armored with philosophical and legal barriers to criticism, and its decks are stacked with 16-inch rhetorical guns to intimidate would-be attackers. In appearance, it is as impregnable as the Soviet Union seemed a few years ago. But the ship has sprung a metaphysical leak, and that leak widens as more and more people understand it and draw attention to the conflict between empirical science and materialist philosophy. The more perceptive of the ship's officers know that the ship is doomed if the leak cannot be plugged. The struggle to save the ship will go on for a while, and meanwhile there will even be academic wine-and-cheese parties on the deck. In the end, the ship's great firepower and ponderous armor will only help drag it to the bottom. Reality will win.” –Phillip E. Johnson in an article, “How to Sink a Battleship: A call to separate materialist philosophy from empirical science.”

“According to Darwinists, there is such overwhelming evidence for their view that it should be considered a fact. Yet to the Darwinists' dismay, at least three-quarters of the American people - citizens of the most scientifically advanced country in history - reject it....The truth is Darwinism is not a scientific theory, but a materialistic creation myth masquerading as science. It is first and foremost a weapon against religion - especially traditional Christianity. Evidence is brought in afterwards, as window dressing. This is becoming increasingly obvious to the American people, who are not the ignorant backwoods religious dogmatists that Darwinists make them out to be. Darwinists insult the intelligence of American taxpayers and at the same time depend on them for support. This is an inherently unstable situation, and it cannot last. If I were a Darwinist, I would be afraid. Very afraid.” –Jonathan Wells, American molecular biologist

“A Chinese paleontologist lectures around the world saying that recent fossil finds in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution. His reason: The major animal groups appear abruptly in the rocks over a relatively short time, rather than evolving gradually from a common ancestor as Darwin’s theory predicts. When this conclusion upsets American scientists, he wryly comments: "In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.” –Phillip E. Johnson in an article, “The Church of Darwin.”

“Even if all the data points to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” –Dr. Scott Todd, Kansas State University

Complexity in DNA

“Just one living cell in the human body is, more complex than New York City.” –Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner

“There is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.” –Richard Dawkins, prominent atheist ethologist & biologist

"Human DNA contains more organized information than the Encyclopedia Britannica. If the full text of the encyclopedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people would regard this as proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when seen in nature, it is explained as the workings of random forces." –George Sim Johnson, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 219.

“DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced that any software we've ever created.” –
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

“It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” –Antony Flew, English Philosopher & former atheist turned theist

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” –Thomas Arnold, historian and Oxford professor

“If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” –Paul Maier, Historian Emeritus, Western Michigan University

“They [the disciples] were testifying to the resurrection, a question of fact, not merely of faith. They were convinced of an event. And their willingness to die for attesting to that event is far more convincing that the willingness of others to die for a mere belief or because of loyalty to a religion or religious leader.” –Dave Hunt, Christian Apologist & Author

“Raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”
Brooke Foss Westcott, British Bishop, Biblical Scholar & Theologian

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian era? Christ's church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that....All the power of Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.” –Henry Schaefer III, computational & theoretical chemist, University of Georgia 

In other words, welcome to the family, should you decide that now is the moment to embrace what is seen to be true... ultimately the choice is yours.  The architect of the universe loves us enough to give us a choice, whether to embrace him, or ignore him.  Imagine that.    

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology, & the Historical Jesus

“Christianity is...rarely understood by those outside its bounds. In fact, this is probably one of the greatest tasks confronting the apologist–to rescue Christianity from misunderstandings.”
Alister E. McGrath, theologian, historian, and scientist,
Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion at the University of Oxford

We've recently gone through expert testimony in six areas of inquiry, organized into the past two posts:

Expert Testimony: The Existence of God, the Problem of Evil, and the Facts on the Bible 

Expert Testimony: The Anthropic Principle, Anthropology, and Historicity 

Now we come to three additional areas of inquiry: intelligent design, archaeology, and the historical Jesus.  Expert testimony is very important to the verification of truth claims.  Is Christianity really the truth about reality?  That is the ultimate question.  If it isn't then it ought to be disregarded.  If it is, then it ought to be followed.  It ought to be the lenses through which we see reality.  The truth is so very important.  Can we know truth?  Yes indeed we can.  

Intelligent design seeks to describe the scientific case for a designer of the universe.  Archaeology is a discipline by which history may be discovered by excavating dig sites and examining artifacts for their historical implications.  The idea of "The Historical Jesus" is approaching the person of Jesus Christ from a historical angle, asking ourselves: Did Jesus of Nazareth really exist?  Is there evidence to support the conclusion that he did exist?  Let's see what some experts have to say on these three important topics: 

Intelligent Design
Is there positive evidence for design? 
(1) Biochemistry
 Natural structures contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g., they contain high CSI). These include language-based codes in our DNA, irreducibly complex molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum, and highly specified protein sequences. Regarding the latter example, mutational sensitivity tests and genetic knockout experiments have shown that the amino acid sequences of functional proteins must be highly complex and specified in order to function.

(2) Paleontology
Biological novelty commonly appears in the fossil record suddenly, ‘fully formed,’ and without similar precursors or evolutionary intermediates. The Cambrian explosion is a prime example, but there are many other examples in the fossil record, including a bird explosion, an angiosperm explosion, and a mammal explosion. Even our genus Homo appears abruptly.

(3) Systematics
Highly similar parts have been found re-used in widely different organisms where even evolutionists believe the common ancestor did not have the part in question. Examples include genes controlling eye or limb growth in different organisms whose alleged common ancestors are not thought to have had such forms of eyes or limbs. There are numerous examples of extreme convergent genetic evolution, including similar genes used in whales and bats for echolocation. These examples are best explained by common design. Genes and functional parts are commonly not distributed in a “tree-like” pattern or nested hierarchy predicted by common ancestry.

(4) Genetics
Studies have discovered mass-functionality for “junk-DNA.” Specific examples include functionality in pseudogenes, microRNAs, introns, endogenous retroviruses, and repetitive LINE, SINE, and Alu elements. Examples of unknown DNA functions persist, but ID encourages researchers to investigate functions, whereas neo-Darwinism has discouraged seeking such function.

 All quotations from Evolution News: The College Student's Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design

Do archaeological findings support or refute the Biblical narrative?

 “Archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine.” –Millar Burrows, former Yale University professor

 “Where the data of the Gospels can be tested, they consistently have proven to be remarkably accurate, especially in John. Archaeologists have unearthed the five porticoes of the pool of Bethesda by the Sheep Gate (John 5:2), the pool of Siloam (9:1-7), Jacob's well at Sychar (4:5), the "Pavement" (Gabbatha) where Pilate tried Jesus (19:13), and Solomon's porch in the temple precincts (10:22-23). As recently as 1961 an inscription was discovered in Caesarea, providing for the first time extrabiblical corroboration of Pilate as Judea's prefect during the time of Christ. Since the, discovery of an ossuary (bone-box) of a crucified man named Johanan from first-century Palestine confirms that nails were driven in his ankles, as in Christ's; previously some skeptics thought that that Romans used only ropes to affix the legs of condemned men to their crosses....In 1990, the burial grounds of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, and his family were uncovered in Jerusalem. These and numerous other details create a favorable impression of the Gospels' trustworthiness in the areas in which they can be tested.” –Craig L. Blomberg, New Testament Scholar at Denver Seminary

 “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.” –Nelson Glueck, American Archaeologist and Academic.  Pioneer in Biblical Archaeology

“It is not too much to say that it was the rise of the science of archeology that broke the deadlock between historians and the orthodox Christian. Little by little, one city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another, whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, were restored to their proper place in ancient history by the studies of archeologists…The over-all result is indisputable. Forgotten cities have been found, the handiwork of vanished peoples has reappeared, contemporary records of Biblical events have been unearthed and the uniqueness of biblical revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to the newly understood religions of ancient peoples. Nowhere has archaeological discovery refuted the Bible as history.” –John Elder, Archaeologist (Quoted in Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible, 1990, p. 58)

The Historical Jesus
Was there a historical person named Jesus of Nazareth? 

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” –H. G. Wells, prolific English author

“Do you believe in the existence of Socrates? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? If historicity is established by written records in multiple copies that date originally from near contemporaneous sources, there is far more proof for Christ’s existence than for any of theirs.” –Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, p. 296.

“The “Encyclopedia Britannica, fifteenth edition, devotes 20,000 words to the person of Jesus Christ and never once hints that He didn’t exist.” –John Ankerberg, Author & Theologian, Ankerberg Theological Institute

“That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of life, character, and teaching of Christ remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man” –Will Durant, renowned historian who devoted his life to the study of records of antiquity, Caesar and Christ, in The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, 1944, p. 557.

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The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism & the Christian Faith

The United States once again finds herself at a crossroads.   The lines have been drawn.  The shots have been fired.  The culture war seems to rage on endlessly.  Left vs. right.  Liberal vs. Conservative.  Secular vs. Christian.  These are some of the most difficult and muddy issues to delve into.  But an answer must be found.  A solution must be possible, right?  

What's really happening here in our country?  What's the reason?  Is there any way out of this predicament?  

I find myself on the conservative Christian side of this present culture war.  Yet only ten years ago I was very much a dedicated liberal non-religious individual.  I've seen the battle from both sides.  

The culture war is very troubling to me.  It keeps me up at night.  I read about it on social media, and get aggravated.  I feel the weight of it.  The burden of it is heavy. And I fear for the future of the great nation I call home.

The United States has always been a diverse bunch of misfits and heroes.  Many of the founders were Christians with seminary degrees.  Still others were agnostic or atheist, deeply interested in philosophy, science, and invention.  The diversity has grown as millions have migrated to the USA.  The United States has prospered a great deal from diversity.  

In the history of the United States there have been philosophical enlightenments as well as great awakenings and temperance movements.  It seems to me that the current liberal side of the culture war is a development from the American enlightenment and scientific breakthroughs of the United States.  And it seems to me that the current conservative side of the culture war is a product of the great awakenings and temperance movements within the United States.  The interesting thing is that from a perspective of being on both sides of the culture war, one notices that each side tends to function in keeping the other side honest.   

Women were oppressed in the United States in the past.  Slavery and prejudice were tolerated by the public for many years throughout the history of the USA.  The family has at times been oppressive to children.  And yes, those holding to LGBT sexual preferences were treated shamefully by many who held to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Yet those same teachings said "Love thy neighbor, and pray for those who persecute you" (Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:44).  Even more shamefully still, Priests were found to have sexually abused children.  Yet Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them" (Luke 18:16).  Thank God that liberals, progressives, and some conservatives have had the courage to decry loudly these tragic injustices.  

Yet in the past 10 years in this country we've seen the coin flipped the other way.  Christianity is openly mocked in the academic institutions of the United States.  Religion is considered to be, well, always bad and always oppressive.  Those holding to conservative Christian views are often decried as bigots, homophobes, and racists in the public square.  Opposition is silenced.  Secular humanism is the new ethic.  LGBT is pure and good, traditional views are considered corrupt and always suspect.  Those supporting traditional marriage are bullied and forced to resign from their jobs, or forced to close their businesses.  Sex is fine before, during, and after marriage, because well, we say so.  Modernity has replaced all the backwards views of religious fanatics, and we have converted many of the Christians to our sexual views, and the hold outs won't last much longer under the onslaught of science, modernity, and sanity!  Many such statements were made in a recent New York Times article.

The latest manifestation of the culture war is the Indiana controversy over a religious liberty bill passed by the state legislature.  The LGBT community lead by George Takei assaulted the state of Indiana over the religious liberties bill which they said could be used to turn away homosexuals from local businesses.  George Takei called for a boycott of no less than the entire state of Indiana over the religious liberty bill.  Later Charles Barkley chimed in calling for the NCAA to move out of Indiana permanently.  Arkansas passed a bill shortly after, and once again the call went out to boycott another state.  Yet 20 other states have bills passed quite similar to the bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  No cries have gone out to boycott businesses in those states though.  

Conservative newspapers, online and otherwise came out explaining how other states have similar laws on the books.  Then liberal newspapers came out and explained why Indiana's bill is different.  Still other conservative newspapers explained why those liberal newspapers are wrong, and that the difference is marginal.  

I read an article written by Hans Fiene a Lutheran minister explaining that the current mass support for gay marriage is the millennial generation embracing a revolutionary cause that requires no effort or sacrifice to embrace.  He called it Selma envy.   Click here to read that article.  

The situation developed further when a small family owned pizzeria was forced to close it's doors.  The owners went into hiding, all from the onslaught of LGBT activists threatening them and blasting them for a rather mild interview with a local media outlet in which they said they would probably not cater for a gay wedding.  Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, a supporter of gay marriage wrote an article titled "Should Mom-and-Pops that forgo Gay weddings be Destroyed?" in which he indicated that LGBT activists shutting down business owners is not an ethical approach to achieve their ends. 

The liberal solution to these issues, like gay marriage, women's rights, racism, and so on is for the bullied to become the bully.  But that cannot be the solution.  It only leads to culture war.  Both sides of this debate don't seem to understand that we need each other.  We check and balance one another.  We keep each other honest.  

Yet I'm a conservative Christian.  I won't stand by and allow the United States to crumble under the weight of a new bullying majority.  But let's table that for a minute.  The real question is very basic: Is homosexuality wrong?  Or is it dangerous and/or harmful to society?

The Bible says homosexuality is wrong (Romans 1:24-27).  But let's table that too for the moment.  What does the science say?  What do the studies say?  According to Mayo clinic, those engaging in homosexuality activity are at greater risk for diseases like AIDS.  Sexual intercourse through the rectum can be damaging over time, because simply, it wasn't designed for sexual use.  Long term irritation of the bowels can lead to cancer and chronic irritation.  (further statistics on medical concerns regarding homosexuality).

Of course people are outraged when you bring up those facts.  Then come the ad hominem attacks.  They call you a bigot, homophobe, racist, sexist, and so on.  People will attack personally when they don't have a counter argument for your arguments.  Don't insult me, give me a good counter argument.  

Is homosexuality socially destructive?  The raw facts say that it is.  But once again, the gay activists will raise the noise, and try to bully people into silence.  Why don't they deal with the arguments?  Why does the US government need to endorse an activity that is medically dangerous and socially destructive?  I just don't understand it.  Yet the current Supreme Court seems to ignore the Constitution time and again, and rubber stamp such destructive behavior as legal and acceptable.  Should the government encourage destructive behavior?  Of course not.  Yet that's what is happening.  Click here to watch a video where author Frank Turek breaks down the issue of gay marriage and it's ramifications for society.  

Religious liberty is an extremely important issue.  Christians and non-Christians a like need to stand up for freedom of religion.  Freedom of religion is inexorably linked to personal liberty, and Libertarians ought to remember that as well.  

Those in the LGBT community should be treated with dignity and respect.  All people should be treated with dignity, love, and respect.  The Bible commands all Christians to love their neighbors.  Love and respect is vital.  But we as Christians have the freedom to disagree with gay marriage, while still loving and respecting those on the other side.  Love does not mean "I agree with your views on everything."  Love means we can disagree respectfully, and still love and tolerate one another.  But don't let anyone sell you on the idea that you must hate or fear them if you don't agree with their views on sexuality.  Yet that is the lie being perpetrated.  That somehow my support for traditional marriage makes me a bigot or a monster.  Most certainly, that is a total fabrication.  People are very afraid to stand up on this issue of marriage, because the LGBT community has gotten very hostile.  As much as they call for tolerance, they seem to be a very intolerant bunch.  This group seems to try to claim the moral high ground, yet their actions make it clear that they do not have the moral high ground.  Yet many Christians seem to concede to that, because the call of being a "bigot" is such a severe claim.  Of course it's total nonsense.  Ad hominem once again, the science and psychology indicates that homosexuality is detrimental to society and the individual.  Yet I'm the bigot.  If a bigot is someone intolerant of another's beliefs, then many in the LGBT community are guilty of being bigoted toward religious faith and traditional marriage views.  

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” -Rick Warren

Why should Christians care?  This is an issue by which all people of faith are being attacked.  Religious liberty is under attack.  It's a divisive issue by which all Christianity is dismissed as backwards and false.  And some Christians are caving to pressure, and endorsing gay marriage.  Recently a liberal branch of the Presbyterian church embraced gay marriage.  That makes it a very important issue for the people of the United States.  

Yet I would say that the gay marriage issue is a symptom of a greater problem.  The problem is that we have religion being taught in our public schools today.  What you say?  How can that be you say?  Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  Unproven beliefs are taught in all public schools.  A total worldview based on presuppositions and unproven beliefs is being taught in public schools, a religion: the religion of naturalism.  

The underpinning is simple: Everything in reality must be described within the natural world, natural terms.  If something doesn't fit that construct, it's disregarded.  

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." -Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist) 

No spiritual views may be taught, no possibility of intelligent design may be mentioned.  Creationist scientific interpretations are rejected in favor of naturalistic interpretations of the data.  

The underlying philosophy in the United States seems to be that religious views must be excluded from all areas of society.  That is insanity, given a historical perspective of the United States.  The nation was founded for the governance of a religious society.  The religion was not forced, yet the hints were placed everywhere.  The society was considered functioning "under God."  The ten commandments were placed on buildings.  And there was nothing wrong with that.  No one was being forced.  Maybe a few were "offended" but then fine, let them be offended!  The government may make reference to those ideas because they are universal.  The government of the USA was designed for the governance of a religious people, and the Constitution was considered useless to govern anyone but a religious people.  By making reference to biblical beliefs the government was not endorsing those beliefs, but they were vital to the framework of the nation.  It showed that religious views were universal, reasonable, and logical.  In fact many of our laws are based on those moral beliefs, the belief that the universe is a moral place.  When a homosexual decries religious people for their "bigoted" attitude, that individual is assuming that he or she lives in a universe governed by objective morality.  Where did that belief come from?  The Judeo-Christian worldview.  There will never be a theocracy in the United States.  We don't want or need one.  But detaching all society from any mention of the Bible or the Christian worldview will lead to the destruction of society itself.  By forcing naturalism on the US population through the public school system, well, we have seen the results.  Each generation of young people becomes progressively more and more depraved.  As a result less and less people are willing to be a law unto themselves, so more and more laws must be put on the books to protect people from each other.  Or as the philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it,“If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.”  So more and more, the United States becomes a police state governed by innumerable laws.  There are so many vague and oddly stated laws on the books in the United States that it's estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day without even realizing it.  Click here to learn more about the problem of authoritarian governance.  

Is it any wonder that Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court have become so corrupt?  When the Judeo-Christian ethic is jettisoned, where does the ethic come from?  Personal opinion?  The corruption in business and banking is destroying the United States.  Those same businesses and banks then get their hands into the political process, and we have our present state: a Congress with billions of dollars flowing into it from special interest groups.  There are 11,500 lobbyists at work in Washington D.C.  Very simply, the mass bribery is destroying the economy, and eroding trust in the government process.  Much of the corruption being seen can be attributed to the secularization of American society.  

The logical outworking of naturalism, or darwinism, is a society of dog eat dog.  There is no reason for moral behavior, one must find a way to scam or conquer the others and spread their DNA as far and wide as possible, correct?  Most certainly that is the case.  Secular humanism really has no reason behind it, it is simply borrowing the Christian ethic and redressing it with secular language.  (Michael Ramsden's a noted apologist expounds on the grounding of naturalism in an excellent presentation on living the faith.  Click here to view/read that.)

It's best stated by atheist Professor John Gray in his book Straw Dogs: "Modern humanism is the faith that through science humankind can know the truth — and so be set free. But if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true this is impossible. The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. To think otherwise is to resurrect the pre-Darwinian error that humans are different from all other animals.  The idea of humanity taking charge of its destiny makes sense only if we ascribe consciousness and purpose to the species; but Darwin’s discovery was that species are only currents in the drift of genes. The idea that humanity can shape its future assumes that it is exempt from this truth." (Ibid., 4)

I've often said, and not exclusively in jest: If one studies religion at a major university (Harvard, Princeton, Yale) aren't they in fact studying pre-suppositional secular humanism?  The arrogance and presumption of these religion departments is astounding in their approach to the scriptures of the Bible.  They approach it with intense skepticism, ruling out any possibility of the supernatural, approaching scriptures with the eyes of naturalism, excluding any possibility that the scriptures might mean what they say, and instead declare their own superiority over the scriptures, altering them to be interpreted through the lense of ascribing all meaning and worldview within those scriptures to local culture and mythos.  Their approach is such an absurd act of unmitigated gall the casual observer might as well call it egotistical blasphemy.  Oh the irony, that schools like Harvard now turn out "Secular Humanist Chaplains."  What, I wonder, are they standing on?  According to the atheist Prof. John Gray, they stand on nothing less than the Judeo-Christian ethic, stripped of Christian terms and redressed with humanist philosophy.  

When the public schools indoctrinate children into naturalism, is it any wonder that the United States is becoming a post-Christian culture?  All the power of the Christian churches across the USA cannot fight that kind of indoctrination.  Is it any wonder then, given the public schools, that universities (many started by Christians) now unquestioningly adhere to the Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian view of reality?  The final piece of this worst case scenario is the mainstream media, radically secular, dedicated to mocking the church and the Christian faith: the television, internet, and print news media.  Included is Hollywood, and day time television, filled to the brim with every manner of depravity, temptation, violence, and sexual sin.  These three keys: public schools, universities, and the media, matched with the corrupt US Congress and Supreme Court leave the Christian majority disarmed and facing a radically shifting paradigm.

These three strongholds must, must, must be retaken by US Christians: the public school, the university system, and the mainstream media.  Otherwise in 100 years Christianity will be a myth in the United States.  Why?  Because all of those institutions manufacture the minds of young people.  And young people are the key to the future.  Hitler himself said give me their minds before their 7, and they'll be Nazi's until they die. Well the naturalists have claimed the minds of young people.  The result has been horrendous.  There are many statistics.  One telling statistic is that since Bible's were banned from public schools the suicide rate among teenagers has tripled.  Let that sink in for a few minutes.   

When you think about it.. everything in our society is false. People stare at screens in their living rooms, screens at work, screens in their pockets. Society exterminates unwanted children by the millions in clinics. Child sacrifice is legal, sacrificed to selfishness and "sexual freedom." Banks and corporations run Congress. Bombs drop in the middle east. Minimum wage keeps the poor getting poorer and corporate subsidies keep the rich always getting richer. Christianity is mocked, self worshiping "spirituality" is encouraged. Lies are everywhere. Temptation for food, alcohol, prestige, and sex are constantly blasted from the media outlets. Children are trained in naturalism indoctrination centers they call "public schools." No Bibles, and no praying allowed in public schools (though they were allowed there for hundreds of years prior.) The Supreme court says gay marriage is fine, despite the clear science indicating that the practice is medically dangerous and socially harmful. Hospitals (originally started by Christians) have become secular money making machines for the medical industrial complex. Universities (originally started by Christians) are now largely training grounds for Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian ideologies that mock and denigrate people of faith and appose liberty, democracy, and free thought. Hollywood, Disney, and the mainstream media feed the population depravity, and make sin seem cool while good is portrayed as boring. The number one cause of death in the USA is heart disease, and obesity, cancer, and diabetes are skyrocketing due to the processed, genetically modified, chemical filled food that Americans eat. Yet liberal sociologists, philosophers, and critics indicate that everything is fine, and anyone who follows Jesus Christ is a fool for believing in all that nonsense about love, hope, truth, forgiveness, grace, and God-forbid, hope after the grave.

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.” - Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

Yet the way back is simple.  If Jesus Christ is real, then we must follow him out loud in truth and we will prevail against the greatest enemy.  If Jesus Christ is not real, then we will fail.  Since Jesus Christ is in fact really God, and alive today, the only way we can fail is if we fail to stand for what we believe in at this critical time in history.  So what can you do?  Speak up to your friends. Speak up on social media.  Get educated on the issues.  Join a political action group.  Support groups like Liberty Institute, Campaign for Liberty, and Alliance defending Freedom.  Write your local newspapers.  Spread the word.  Get active on these issues.  And we can save the United States.  Not by destroying those of naturalist conclusions, but by living love and standing by our convictions.   

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Expert Testimony: The Anthropic Principle, Anthropology, and Historicity

“The Christian faith does not call for us to put our minds on the shelf, to fly in the face of common sense and history, or to make a leap of faith into the dark. The rational person, fully apprised of the evidence, can confidently believe...” –William Lane Craig

What is faith exactly?  Is it unyielding belief in the absurd as Richard Dawkins has suggested?  Is it trust in propositions that exist in contradiction to reality?  Or is faith something else?  Could it be possible that faith is reasonable, even logical?

We all put our faith in a certain ideology.  An atheist puts his or her faith in naturalistic conclusions, the belief that all things can be explained through natural means.  Is that a scientific conclusion, or a belief structure?  A Christian puts his or her faith in conclusions based on theological constructs of reality.  Is that entirely unscientific, or reasonable faith?

"I actually do not believe that there are any collisions between what I believe as a Christian, and what I know and have learned about as a scientist. I think there's a broad perception that that's the case, and that's what scares many scientists away from a serious consideration of faith." Francis Collins

I see three key areas as vital to my faith, which I see as intelligent faith.  We've often discussed the anthropic principle, or the evidence that the universe is tuned to allow for stars, planets, and life.  That is a vital first step toward intelligent faith.  To ignore the anthropic principle seems to me, insincere.  Second, it's important to understand anthropology, or the study of man.  More specifically I look to the heart of man.  Which means I'm trying to understand the common perspective from which I view the evidence and inquire of reality around me.  If I'm to be honest, as much so as possible at least, I must see my own inclinations and desires in how they affect my conclusions.  And finally historical voracity.  Since I am not able to inquire of the accounts of Christ by scientific measurements, how am I to inquire?  I am to inquire by the tests of historical verification.  How do historians decide on the credibility of events that took place in the past?  History is credible when it meets certain requirements, as we will see.

Once again as we've done in the past, we'll be looking at expert testimony, quotes from great minds to discover what their conclusions were regarding these three key topics.  So let's take a look.

The Anthropic Principle
the fine tuning of the universe
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.” –Robert Jastrow, agnostic astronomer, author of God and the Astronomers

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” –Francis Crick, biochemist and spiritual skeptic, shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA 

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the universe....The impression of design is overwhelming.” – Paul Davies, an internationally known British astrophysicist and author

“When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it.” – John Polkinghorne
, renowned theoretical physicist 

“Many have a feeling that somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe....I strongly sense the presence and actions of a creative being far beyond myself and yet always personal and close by.” – Charles Townes, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

"God is an awesome mathematician and physicist." -Francis Collins, award winning physician-geneticist, distinguished leadership in the Human Genome Project

the study of man
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
C. S. Lewis, famous author, The Weight of Glory

 "Education, the great mumbo-jumbo and fraud of the age, purports to equip us to live and is prescribed as a universal remedy for everything from juvenile delinquency to premature senility. For the most part it only serves to enlarge stupidity, inflate conceit, enhance credulity and put those subjected to it at the mercy of brain-washers with printing presses, radio and TV at their disposal." Malcolm Muggeridge, famous journalist & author, in the "Observer", 1966

“Many people are being persuaded that they cannot be considered intelligent or well educated if they insist on the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Book. Let me say to you that truth has always lived with the minority; what the majority says at a given moment is usually wrong. The crowd one day cried, “Crucify him,” and the whole world united to murder the Son of God, because in their ignorance they knew Him not.” –Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Service: Studies in the Book of Nehemiah, p. 113.

“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” –G. K. Chesterton, English philosopher & author

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”–C. S. Lewis, famed author

“Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.” –William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, p. 35-36.

“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene...No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” –Albert Einstein, famous scientist, Nobel prize winner 

historical verification
“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” –Thomas Arnold, historian and Oxford professor

“If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” –Paul Maier, historian, Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University

“They [the disciples] were testifying to the resurrection, a question of fact, not merely of faith. They were convinced of an event. And their willingness to die for attesting to that event is far more convincing that the willingness of others to die for a mere belief or because of loyalty to a religion or religious leader.” –Dave Hunt, Christian apologist & author

“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history...” – E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian era? Christ's church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that....All the power of Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.” –Henry Schaefer III, Professor of Chemistry University of Georgia, highly cited scientist H-index 110.

“The fact that the Christian fellowship, founded on belief in Jesus’ resurrection, could come into existence and flourish in the very city where he was executed and buried seems to be compelling evidence for the historicity of the empty tomb.” –William Lane Craig, Christian author and speaker, Biola University

Click Here to view more Quotes in the "Powerful Quotes" section of this website.

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