Train Them Up Right…

Several years ago I was challenged by a skeptic to defend my belief system. I didn’t do a very good job at understanding why I believed the way that I did other than my subjective feelings about it. This encounter inspired a passion in me to put 1 Peter 3:15 into action in my life.

Over a period of time I discovered that to be most effective at defending the faith you must first be willing to question your most sacred beliefs. You must be willing to see your beliefs from the skeptic’s perspective so that you can meet him where he is and then try to persuade him using the evidence available and under the power of the Holy Spirit.

With this in mind, and experience as a guide, I have detected what I believe is a flaw in how we train people, especially our young people, to defend the faith. In this article I am first going to disclose the flaw. I am then going to cite three ways the flaw manifests itself. The three examples I offer happen to be in the field of science which should be no surprise since this area is popular among skeptics. As I discuss each of these I will offer a solution to correct the flaw so that ultimately we will become improved trainers, and most importantly, improved ambassadors for the Gospel of Jesus.

The Flaw

The most prominent flaw I see when we try to defend our Christian position is often a failure to understand terms. For example, it may be the case that a pro-life Christian assumes that a pro-abortion individual is in favor of killing babies. But if we stop for a moment and listen to the view of the pro-abortionist, we will likely discover that a person in favor of abortion is just as opposed to killing babies as a pro-life person is. The difference in positions is not whether we should or shouldn’t kill babies. The difference in our positions is determined by when we believe life begins. How then do we begin effective dialogue with a pro-abortionist? When a person says they are pro-choice or pro-abortion ask them, “What do you mean by abortion?” Then ask them how they came to that conclusion. If you do this, not only is the burden of proof on them, you will also come to an understanding of their position instead of talking past them.

When we place more effort into understanding terms we will become more effective in communicating our views and being taken seriously by those who oppose us. There are three scientific areas where skeptics will pound a wedge between themselves and believers. In each of these wedge topics, believers can be left vulnerable if their position is not communicated properly.

Wedge Topic #1: Evolution

I’m an evangelical Christian and I believe in evolution. Say what? That’s right! But, wait a minute. Hear me out. Remember what we just discussed? We have to define our terms. But before we do that, we need to understand why we should focus on evolution when training people to defend the faith.

Evolution is one of the most popular avenues skeptics use to discredit Christianity. After all, if life simply evolved then we have no need for a Creator. Darwinian evolutionists believe all life is descended from one common ancestor and it happened only by natural causes, precluding belief in a Common Designer.
Many Christians will flat out deny any truth to the evolutionary theory. This is why skeptical people who believe in evolution don’t take Christians seriously. They see Christians as anti-science, bronze-age numbskulls. Of course we aren’t those things, but there is truth in some parts of the evolutionary theory.

There are two facets of evolution. There is macro-evolution and there is micro-evolution. Macro-evolution is the portion of the theory that says all life forms have descended from one common ancestor and it happened only by natural causes. It describes one species magically changing into brand new species. This form of evolution, due to the near-absence of evidence, is largely faith-based. It’s almost certainly not true and contains many, many problems including the inability to be reproduced in a lab.

Micro-evolution on the other hand, describes the ability of life forms to change or adapt to its conditions. This form of evolution is not only true, but it is verifiable and repeatable. Micro-evolution is what Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands when he was studying finches. He noted that in years with an abundant food supply, the finches beaks were shorter because they presumably did not have to forage as deep for food. In years with short food supplies, the finches beaks could adapt to be longer so they would be more successful finding food to survive. Micro-evolution does not contradict Biblical creation in any way.

As Christians, we should not be denying this type of verifiable “evolution.” This is why the skeptics do not take us seriously. But when we can come to understand our terms, we find that we actually have more common ground than we thought. We are doing a disservice to our children and others when we train them to be completely against evolution. We know a certain form of evolution is true and we should be teaching our kids the difference between good science and bad science. When we do this, we give them a huge advantage when they are trying to find common ground with unbelievers.

(As a side note, I could write pages on the failure of macro-evolution but it is beyond the scope at this time. Comment below or message me if you want to discuss evolution further).

Wedge Topic #2: The Big Bang

I’m an evangelical Christian and I believe in The Big Bang. That’s right, I do! But, like evolution, you should be asking, “what do you mean by that?” This topic is a little easier to explain. Science has proven beyond all doubt that the universe has a beginning. This is agreed upon by virtually everyone.

When talking with a skeptic, there is absolutely no reason to disagree with him on the main idea regarding Big Bang Cosmology. After all, the science does not indicate what caused the Big Bang, it can only demonstrate what happened after the bang was banged. If you’re arguing the merits of the Big Bang verses the merits of Creation with a skeptic then you may find that you’re more interested in scoring points than you are in leading them to Christ. Now, I’m not saying Christians should believe in those portions of the the Big Bang Theory that have very little evidence. All I’m saying is that both skeptics and believers agree the universe has a beginning. In simple terms, that’s what the Big Bang Theory describes. It’s also what Genesis 1:1 describes. We all believe the universe was “banged” into existence. Christians believe they know who banged it.

We are doing our children and others a disservice if we teach them to be against the Big Bang. When we define it in terms of good science and scripture, we can meet the skeptic where he is and begin fruitful dialogue.

Wedge Topic #3: Age of the Universe

I’m an evangelical Christian and I have no clue how old the universe is. That’s right, no clue. In fact, it is impossible to know the answer to this on this side of Heaven. We were not there at Genesis 1:1. The Bible and science leave room for many assumptions. There are very good assumptions made by young universe people and there are very good assumptions made by old universe people. I don’t have space to dissect them all here. If you want to discuss it more, comment below or message me.

In the end, I believe that remaining dogmatic on this point can be counter productive. If you’re dealing with a skeptic who is scientifically inclined, forcing him to swallow something that seems counter-factual in his mind may permanently turn him away from hearing other evidence about the truth of Christianity. I guarantee you that salvation is not predicated on your belief on the age of the universe. The fact that God actually created the universe, not when he created the universe, is what is important when reaching the lost. I believe Satan uses this point of contention to sow division among all of us and when we entertain it as dogma we are playing into his hands. This is an in-house debate which should rarely, if ever, be discussed among unbelievers. It is not productive and I’ve never known anyone to come to Christ by their belief on the age of the universe.

As for me, I wake up believing in a young universe and I go to bed believing in an old universe. Neither position contradicts the fact that the universe is created.

We are doing our children and others a disservice if we teach them to be dogmatic on this issue. We should expose them to both scenarios and if we want to be intellectually honest, we will admit that we have no idea how old the universe is.

Conclusion

People have doubts. Christians should be prepared to engage the doubters in order to be effective witnesses for the truth about God, Jesus, creation, sin, and redemption. Intellectual honesty about science and Christianity always works in the Christian’s favor. Good science will never contradict God’s word and should be viewed as way to study in awe of God’s creation work. We should release ourselves from old-fashioned dogma and embrace sound scientific discoveries as confirmations of God’s awesome creation. When our children are released into the real world, we should want them to be taken seriously as ambassadors. To enable that we need to teach them how to communicate what they believe effectively and convincingly without coming across as backward, religious fruit cakes. We can teach them the things of the scientific world that line up with God’s word. We should be able to show people that Christianity will never be compromised by science or any other field of study. Let’s give the next generation of Christians the tools necessary to engage an increasingly skeptical world.

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Is the Resurrection True?

Is the resurrection of Jesus true and how important is this event to Christianity and all people of the world? 

The bible says this in 1 Corinthians 15: “Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭12-15‬ MSG)
So is the resurrection an actual historic event? The evidence overwhelmingly says yes. But, let’s consider only the evidence that even the most liberal scholars (Bart Ehrman, et al) accept as true. There are 12 historical points compiled by Gary Habermas that liberal and conservative scholars all agree on. 
1. Jesus died by crucifixion. 
2. He was buried in a tomb. 
3. Jesus’ death caused his followers to despair and lose all hope. 
4. A few days after his death, Jesus’ tomb was found empty. 
5. Jesus’ followers had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the resurrected body of Jesus. 
6. His followers, once doubters who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus, began to proclaim his resurrection, even willing to die for their belief. 
7. The resurrection was the center of teaching for the early Christian church. 
8. Public testimony of the resurrection by Jesus’ followers took place in the same city where the public demanded that Jesus be killed. 
9. As a result, the literal overnight adoption of a new set of beliefs occurred.
10. Sunday became the new day to worship, previously unheard of in the Jewish community. 
11. James, Jesus’ brother, was converted to Christianity after he saw the risen Jesus. 
12. Saul of Tarsus was converted to Christianity after he saw the risen Jesus. 
Now those are twelve facts that nearly all historians agree are true. There are many other evidences for Jesus’ resurrection we can gain from the biblical accounts. 
Let’s look at five points to show the resurrection story is not made up. 
1. The first witnesses to the empty tomb were women. In the 1st century, women’s testimony was not considered admissible in a court. If the story was made up, you’d think the storytellers would have made their witnesses men. 
2. In 1st century Jewish culture, it was blasphemy to worship a human. Why would fellow Jews begin to worship a human who had died if they were making it all up?
3. All the apostles and early church leaders died for their beliefs. No one dies for something they know to be a made up story. 
4. In 1 Corinthians, Paul names 14 people who saw the risen Jesus and says over 500 other people also saw him and many of those people are still alive at the time. By saying many are still alive, Paul is telling his audience (the people in Corinth) to go ask those people if they don’t believe him. Wow. 
5. Some will say the disciples stole the body. Why would they steal a body knowing they would die for making up a story of a resurrection? That’s crazy. You only willingly die for something you actually think is true. 
There are so many other evidences for the resurrection. Comment or contact me if you want to discuss it further. 
Christianity hinges on whether Jesus rose from the dead. If he didn’t raise, then why care about what he taught? Even if you have a tough time believing the resurrection you should want it to be true. 
Tim Keller writes the following in his book, The Reason for God: “[Many skeptics] care deeply about justice for the poor, alleviating hunger and disease, and caring for the environment. Yet many of them believe that the material world was caused by accident and that the world and everything in it will eventually simply burn up in the death of the sun. They find it discouraging that so few people care about justice without realizing that their own worldview undermines any motivation to make the world a better place. Why sacrifice for the needs of others if in the end nothing we do will make any difference. If the resurrection of Jesus happened, however, that means there’s infinite hope and reason to pour ourselves out for the needs of the world.”
The Bible says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The best place to hear the Word of God is at church. This Easter make the decision to go to church and keep going to church. You may say, “church is full of hypocrites!” You’d be correct. Church isn’t about being perfect. Church isn’t a country club for saints. It’s a hospital for sinners.
See you Sunday. 

Faith Is Belief Without Evidence, Says Richard Dawkins

In an article published in The Humanist, Richard Dawkins (the world’s top evangelist for atheism) said, “Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principle vice of any religion.”  The only vice I see in this statement is the vice of ignorance of orthodox Christianity on the part of Mr. Dawkins.

I just finished reading a great book by Frank Turek entitled Stealing From God.  The book details how atheist’s beliefs are usually presupposed on things that cannot be determined by materialism.  Materialism is the belief of atheists that says everything has a physical, material cause.  But in order to come to that conclusion, one must use their immaterial mind, reason, and logic so the entire notion is self-defeating.  I will not go into detail here about the main points of the book but I will be posting a review to Amazon.com soon if you are interested.  

Toward the end of the book Turek has a short explanation of Biblical faith that counters Dawkins’ claims.  I can’t really say it any better myself so I’m going to type a portion of it verbatim.  The following excerpts can be found on pages 216-218.

“One reason people are not persuaded by Christianity is because they think it’s based on blind faith.  Richard Dawkins says, ‘Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principle vice of any religion.’  Unfortunatley for Dawkins, this kind of faith is the principle vice of atheism–the worldview that believes, despite massive counterevidence, that only material things exist.  Atheists don’t offer any evidence that doesn’t defeat itself……

“Another problem for Dawkins and company is “belief without evidence” is not what “faith” means in the Bible.”  (Turek gives a great explantion of Hebrews 11:1 in the endnotes and how that verse does not require blind faith.  He says, “the context of this passage reveals that “faith” is not belief without evidence; faith is trusting God for an unseen future based on the evidence of what is already known about God.”  There is so much more about this verse in the book and we can discuss it further in the comments below if you wish).

Turek continues, “When you see the word faith in the Bible, you should think of the word trust.  That’s what the word in Greek actually means in most contexts.  And this is not blind trust.  The Bible actually commands us to use reason and evidence.  Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God…with all your mind.’  God speaks through the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘Come now, let us reason together.’  Peter urges us to ‘always be prepared to give an answer.’  Paul commands us to ‘destroy arguments’ that are opposed to the truth of Christianity, and he declares that Christianity is false unless the resurrection of Christ is an historical fact.  So Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid or relying on blind faith.  They are suppose to know what the believe and why they believe it….

“But merely knowing that Jesus is the savior isn’t enough to save you from judgement.  You have to go from belief that Jesus is the Savior to belief in Jesus as your Savior.  Those are the two kinds of biblical faith:  Belief that is based on reason and evidence.  Belief in is how you respond to reason and evidence.  Belief that is more a matter of the head or mind, and belief in is more a matter of the heart or will….

“Believing that Jesus is the Savior is only the first step.  It doesn’t go far enough.  God is not interested in mere intellectual assent any more than a girlfriend is interested in merely being told she’d make a great wife.  God seeks a love relationship from us and won’t force Himself on us.  If we intellectually know that He exists but never trust in Him, we’ll never receive the benefits of being His….

“Belief that (head knowledge) doesn’t save, but it can help people get to the point where they choose to believe in.  That’s the purpose of evidence…..

“In other words biblical faith is trusting in what you have good reason to believe is true.”

Man, I just love these excerpts from the book. Having faith in God is not the same as being a bucket head. Again, the book mostly deals with how to respond to atheistic assertions but I really liked this part about biblical faith because of my personal background in having a great faith relationship in God.

You should really get the book Stealing From God, Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case.  You can find it here on Amazon.  It is often sold out though!  If so, you can get the book at Impact Apologetics.  If you want to learn more about Frank Turek, his website is CrossExamined.org.

Where do morals and human rights originate?

This is a quick blog, so let’s jump right into it!

No kind of human “rights” can be created. True rights are always discovered. Think about it: if rights are simply created by majorities in the populace or majorities in legislative bodies or high and mighty judges, then we are admitting that human rights are subjective.

On this view, what happens to those “rights” when someday they are legislated out of existence by a new majority? What one generation considers a “right,” another generation may consider illegal, and vice versa.

It’s ridiculous to believe this way. Why? Because humans abide by objective, moral human rights in our daily lives. We know it’s wrong to torture babies for fun. Babies have a right to live free from torture and everyone knows it. No one has to legislate the immorality of that kind of behavior. But if rights and morality are simply created, then it may be ok for some other cultures to torture babies. Even if some strange people group adopts a culture of torturing babies, is it still objectively wrong? Of course it is.

What if in Nazi Germany, the majority of Nazis desired the right to eliminate the Jews? (Which they did!) Did the will of the majority make their actions commendable? Of course not. That’s not a true human “right.” It’s a desire to do what you please. Likewise, no matter what a specific individual may think about killing Jews or torturing babies, it’s still objectively wrong. Every. Single. Time.

Rights and morality are not something that came about by natural forces. For instance, take members of the animal kingdom. Is it wrong for them to kill to survive? No, it’s not wrong. Animals are amoral beings that do not have the ability to submit to obligations of “rights” and “morals.” But why do humans not follow the same “natural” behaviors like animals do? Why do humans have a sense of morality, altruism, and justice? It’s because we are a higher being made by God, in his image. These obligations to morality and rights can only be explained fully through the teachings in the Christian Bible. They make no rational sense whatsoever based on a naturalistic worldview.

Rights and morality are based on something far greater than the cultural trends of our time. True rights are not arbitrarily created based on current, trendy volitions. True rights and morality do not conform to human desire because human desire is flimsy. Instead, humans should conform to the objective morals and rights we know to be solid and true.

It’s important to think about the origination of true rights and morality before we can understand how to respond to laws imposed on us against our will. Christians need to know how to formulate rational positions for their worldview. Going around telling people they’re going to Hell isn’t always the best way to reach people with the truth. But having a rational, coherent reason (given in love) for the hope that is in you can be very effective.

An Account of a Debate I Recently Attended

Pastors Steve Holder and Daniel Weeks recently hosted a debate at their church, Bethel Church, in Goldsboro, NC.  I attended the debate after receiving notice from a friend that his uncle was one of the debaters.  His uncle, Mike Manuel, is a noted Evangelist and Apologist traveling the United States preaching Jesus Christ.  The topic of the debate, “Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in the 21st Century?” peaked my interest.  My friend and I desired to attend and lend support to his uncle.  Mr. Manuel was to argue in the affirmative.  His opponent, Dr. Richard White, a science instructor at Wayne Early Middle College High School in Goldsboro, was to argue in the negative.

The following account of the debate is not meant to be a point-by-point account of every word that was uttered.  I’m attempting to provide the highlights while also striving to give the reader a comprehensive view of the positions staked out by both debaters.  My reporting will be offered in a “note-taking” format so as to make this account pointed and concise.  Because of this, do not be alarmed to see points not placed into proper sentence format.  Think of it as reading off my personal note sheets because that is essentially what it is.

This account will concentrate solely on the testimony given during the debate.  In light of this, I intend to remain objective and unbiased.  I will simply record things as they occurred to the best of my ability.  I desire to editorialize the event in order to offer my personal thoughts and critiques.  Because this is a long post, I will offer an editorialized review of the debate in a follow up post.

The debate lasted approximately 2 hours and the text below summarizes its content.  The text can be read much faster than it would take to listen to the two hour debate, but after reading the text, I encourage you to listen to the debate which can be found here.

Mike Manuel (seated) and Richard White

 

Background information of the debaters:

Mike Manuel:    Mr. Manuel is a noted Christian Evangelist and Apologist based in West Virginia who travels extensively throughout the United States preaching that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  Before Mike became a Christian he turned to a life of drugs & alcohol and became agnostic while attending Marshall University.  His road to salvation began when he reexamined the things he had been taught, which he found to be fallacious.  In 1975 he had an encounter with Jesus Christ and the Lord began to prepare him for a life of ministry. Mike pastored for 2 ½ years before transitioning to full time evangelism.  He is an ordained minister through New Life Church, Huntington, WV of which Dr. Darrell Huffman serves as the pastor.  He is the Vice President of Victory Ministries Incorporated, a ministry fellowship founded and chaired by Dr. Darrell Huffman.  He is the National Director for Evangelism for the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International, based in Dallas, TX.  Mike also serves as an international Board Member of the Full Gospel Fellowship.  Additionally, Mike is the founder of Revelation Power Ministries, a ministry centered on spreading the Word of God.  Mike has seen many people saved, filled, healed, and delivered through the anointed preaching of the Word of God.

Richard White:  Mr. White does not have a website but he provided some of his background information during the debate.  As noted above, Dr. Richard White is a science instructor in Goldsboro, NC.  Mr. White was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin’s disease while he was attending Purdue University.  He was treated with chemotherapy which utilized a drug found naturally in a flower grown locally in the area.  One side effect of his treatment is that it damaged his heart.  Mr. White is waiting on a new technology that he hopes will repair and heal his heart. Because of his medical experiences related to the use of the drug found in the flower, he became interested in medicinal botany which serves as his primary area of research.  He is interested in science for other’s benefit and to educate curious young people.

“Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in the 21st Century?”

The format of the debate was that a question was posed to a debater so that he could offer a 5 minute response.  His opponent would offer a 5 minute rebuttal and then the original person to which the question was posed could offer an additional 5 minute response.  The questions to be asked were submitted in advance my Mr. White and Mr. Manuel.  The final questions were chosen by the moderator, Pastor Weeks.

The first question (directed to Mr. White) read, “How do you interpret the phrase, ‘viable means of origin?”  Mr. White thinks a particular model of origins is relative to a person’s worldview (Christian or scientific). He bases science on empirical data, lab testing, and hypothesizing, and relies on fossil evidence for things we cannot experience.  Claims science has no business dealing with “why” questions but should only deal with “how” questions.  We can only use what we observe.  Abruptly proceeds into age-of-the-earth issues and describes how the Green River shale formation in the western US provides evidence for an old earth.  Nevertheless, Mr. White contends that there should be two non-competing ways to view life.  Example:  if your car breaks down you may call a mechanic or you may pray.  The two solutions should not compete, they’re simply two different approaches.

Mr. Manuel responds to the question by saying he believes science and the Bible are simpatico.  We need the scientific approach and need to approach things in light of reality.  Contends a designed universe had a beginning and a builder much like buildings have a beginning and a builder.  Claims some scientists protest the term “Big Bang” because it resembles terminology used in Genesis.  Says scientists claim that the universe is expanding, if you track the expansion backward, we arrive at single speck.  Scientists get agitated when asked the origin of the speck.  Cites the 2nd law of thermodynamics and that the universe is losing energy and cannot be infinite.  Design evidence is everywhere.  Uses example that a criminal leaves traces of himself at a crime scene.  No one ever says the crime scene just appeared out of nowhere. Someone was behind it.  Describes how the first two verses of the Bible describe the five terms of science:  time, energy, space, matter, and motion.  Leans toward an old earth and pre-adamite society.  Says creation is plausible, rational, reasonable, compelling, and persuasive.

Mr. White discusses that scientists cannot investigate whether God created in a certain number of days, the notion is not in the scientific realm, we are left with what we can observe.  Admits “something” started blowing things apart.  Uses example that scientists have no interest in why the Ebola virus is here, but only interested in how it works so they can stop it.  Science cannot use origins to make scientific models.

The second question (directed to Mr. Manuel) read, “Since whatever begins to exist has a cause, and no effect occurs without a cause, wouldn’t there have to be an uncaused first cause?”  Mr. Manuel says logic and reasoning leads to that conclusion.  Says Christians need to be able to articulate this (1 Peter 3:15).  Example: if you have an empty steel chamber and leave it for 100 years and check it again, it remains empty.  There are laws of causation.  Mr. Manuel then discusses the anthropic principle and how the universe is fine tuned.  If any of the constants in the universe were changed slightly, we would not exist. Asserts that scientists use objective laws to make claims about anything.  Tells how the human genome was decoded in 2000 and that our DNA provides the info that will determine our features in advance.  Shows how the Bible already talked about this long before in Psalm 139:15, 16.  Says explosions (Big Bang) do not create order, they always create chaos.  There must be a master designer.

Mr. White says he is not equipped to answer the question, can only infer.  Theologians can say God began things but scientists cannot test that in a laboratory.  Agrees with Mr. Manuel on the complexity of life.  Offers a naturalistic explanation by saying some viruses are considered intelligent because sometimes they will not kill their host because that would prohibit further propagation.  Claims complexity was built over time.  Admits complexity cannot be duplicated in a lab.  Is quoted as saying it is possible God could have started all of this but it’s not a scientific answer, it’s theological.  One approach is not better than the other, they are just different.

Mr. Manuel responds by saying the reason science can make predictions is because of present order and design.  Moves on to say Cambrian period complex life forms appeared with no predecessors and no links to other life forms.  Says Richard Dawkins sees order and complexity in the fossil record but there’s no history of its evolution.  Speaks about Darwin’s doubt and fear of no transitional species in the fossil record.  We see variety and adaptation but not special crossover.  Debunks punctuated equilibrium and panspermia.  Talks about in Greek mythology, they thought men held the Earth on their backs. Says Bible told us years before science that the Earth hangs on nothing (Job 26:7).  Science didn’t figure it out until 1650.

The third question (directed to Mr. White) read, “Even the most basic biological mechanisms that we know are irreducibly complex. Nothing can be removed without disabling the mechanism. The individual parts are useless without the whole. The bacteria flagellum is an example. It has a whip-like part that allows it to move-much like an outboard motor-except this motor is water cooled. It features a universal joint, has gears for forward and reverse. It can reach speeds of 100,000 rpm’s, and can do self-assembly and repair. It has precision and economy of construction.  Do you feel examples like the bacteria flagellum suggest intelligence?  If not, how did it happen?”  Mr. White claims there are many transitional forms and that we see them from fishes to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to mammals. He claims they are all through the fossil record.  Says humans share genes with bacteria.  Says gradualism is simply a model.  Says punctuated equilibrium is a warranted claim.  Admits he doesn’t know how things became more complex.  Cites the now famous Penn U. RNA experiment.

Mr. Manuel responds by saying the bacteria flagellum suggests intelligence.  Why do we not have animals that are ¾ man and ¼ ape?  Says punctuated equilibrium came about because transitional fossils were never found.  Says mutations never create new features or appendages but only modified what was there.  Cites example of a scientist cutting the tales off mice for repeated generations but the descendants continued to grow tales.  Discusses fish growing wings and flopping on the seashore…they won’t last long.  Refers to the Penn U. RNA experiment and how the experiment was bunk because of the oxidation process and Dr. Miller admitted it.  Says men and apes are 98% related but men and earthworms are over 90% related, this shows commonality in the material but not the arrangement.  You can have 1000000 or .1000000.  The material is the same but the arrangement has huge implications.  Darwin’s finches simply adapted.

Mr. White claims evolution is not linear.  Cites examples of transitional features in facial features of apes and humans.  Says he’s not challenging that intelligent beings started the process.  He is only interested in how it works.

The fourth question (directed to Mr. Manuel) read, “Are scientific and religious views really that different and do you fell we must choose one view or the other?”   Says they’re not incompatible.  Says claims against Bible are often faulty and cites archaeological facts.  Provides facts about how scientists have repeatedly and falsely attempted to construct “men” from the fossils of animals.  Warns to take scientific reconstruction with a grain of salt because of their faulty track record.  Talks about whimsical climate predictions…in the 1970’s there was an imminent ice age approaching, now in 2014 we are told we are going to burn up.  Says science once thought the stars could be numbered but cites how the Bible has always said they’re innumerable.  Says overall, despite energy bursts from the sun, the earth is losing energy.  Shows how the Bible teaches this in Psalm 102:25, 26.  Says there is no incompatibility with the Bible and genuine science.  The evidence points to an intelligent designer.

Mr. White partially agrees and says there’s no need for conflict.  Says science underpins technology.  Says some scientists can get nasty.  He looks at life through a window of science.  God’s window should be in Sunday school.  People should decide for themselves which window to look through.  Mutually exclusive.  Desires to teach children how to look through the science window.  His education statement is, “I don’t care what you believe, I care what you understand.”

Mr. Manuel says naturalists and evolutionists have monopolized the educational system.  Only one view is taught even though many advanced scientists believe in creation.  Don’t compromise beliefs.  Admits that his side has some ogres.  Says scientists feel like they know more than others.  There is monolithic group think in the halls of academia.  Many teachers want students to believe what they believe.  Says creationists are afraid to speak out.  Moves on to talk about all laws have a law giver.  Order doesn’t come from chaos, life always comes from preexisting life.  Yet are told an amoeba came about on its own and divided itself.  He asks how male and female developed.

The fifth question (directed to Mr. White) read, “How can we build bridges between people of differing views in terms of how the world was created?  More specifically, the Bible teaches us that God created the world.  If this is not true then what the Bible says about Jesus is also possibly not true, therefore the topic of creation is of profound importance.  Is it possible for us all to adhere to what we believe and yet come to some type of manageable disagreement on the topic of creation?”   Mr. White says the topic is important.  Says he doesn’t want to punish students for their beliefs, but doesn’t teach about beliefs, teaches understanding.  Says religion extends itself beyond things we can touch and measure.  Pursue curiosity.

Mr. Manuel says we are to love people we disagree with.  He says scientific hypothesizing extends beyond what we can see…that is beyond empiricism.  Cites Arthur Keith’s forward to the 100th edition of Origin of the Species and how he said evolution is unproved and unprovable, we believe because the only other alternative is unbelievable, and that’s creation.  Christians should reach out and pray for unbelievers.  Build bridges but still retain our faith.  Says we need God and creation in the public domain.  Cites 3 different textbooks saying earth is 5 billion, 7 billion, and 12 billion years old.  Scientists often just say things.  Carbon 14 dating dated oysters to be 27,000 years old but they were still alive.  They assume carbon breaks down at the same rate as now.  Hopes this debate is building bridges and says Mr. White is a nice man.

Mr. White says scientists live with uncertainty and second-guessing.  Claims creationists are not in mainstream science.  He says publish or perish.

Audience questions  

I’m not going to post each audience question but rather give a summary of the answers that each debater offered.

Mr. White’s answers to the audience:  Believes the earth is old, cites Pangea.  Read the Bible when he was young.  Raised Presbyterian/Methodist.  Wife is Catholic.  Likes to explore in the woods.  Says Bible has good standards for living.  Beliefs do not disqualify or qualify his friends.  Lived a “free” college life.  His mother arranged an exorcism to be performed on him when he was younger.  Admits not knowing how to reach God at a Campus Crusade retreat, and can’t explain why he can’t reach God.  Will not teach ID because he says it’s not based on reputable research.

Mr. Manuel’s answers to the audience:  Leans toward an old earth view.  Says evolution needs lots of time and the chance of evolution happening are so high and the evidence for evolution does not add up.  Believes in absolute moral values.  Kept pet insects as a child and was very inquisitive.  Says most of the world’s greatest scientists believed in God.  Says many don’t want to believe in God because of rocky relationships with fathers, especially children of preachers.  Naturalists often speculate, “could have” or “should have.”  Says Christians should hold on to true science.

 

Stay tuned for my personal critique of the debate…  

Back to the “Pope” of Atheism, Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins can be referred to as the “pope” of atheism because he is essentially the leader of the pack of all the young up-and-comers in the faddish “new atheism” movement. In many of the encounters I have with atheists, they will often bring up his name or say something that he has said or written. I know this because I have read a portion of Dawkins’ work and I recognize it when I hear it.

This man is a dangerous fellow to follow. All one needs to do is follow his Twitter account to see that this man holds a nasty position on such things as the value of human life (basically none), the dangers of sexual child abuse (it’s not all that bad, he was abused himself), and religion itself (it is abusive to children). At least he is consistent, haha! Richard Dawkins is a dangerous man and more theists need to call him out for the garbage he spews into people.

Dawkins and his disciples consistently commit ad hominem arguments, that is to regard the theist as stupid, uncivilized, backward, old-fashioned, indoctrinated, uneducated, and the like. It’s fine to hold these kind of opinions but the new atheists will often rely on these assertions to attempt to prove their belief system, hence the ad hominem. The new atheists consider themselves intelligent, rational, enlightened, brilliant, and open-minded (ha!). I think Dawkins himself is guilty of some of the very things he accuses about the theists.

Dawkins often commits the logical fallacy of “begging the question.” That is to say, he will claim as fact the very thing that needs proving. He claims that religion is primitive and stupid and that Darwinism is intelligent and enlightened without providing clear evidence of such. Dawkins never supposes one can be indoctrinated with atheism. He often claims that a person born in a non-western culture is often not Christian, therefore Christianity is a product of culture. He seems to not understand that the same claim can be leveled against his own atheism, for he was born and raised in an extreme atheistic culture, the United Kingdom.

Dawkins truly thinks atheists are smarter and more intelligent than theists. I beg to differ. I’ve asked the opinions of atheists as it relates to the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Every single one of them side with the Palestinians and consider Israel to be baby killers. Now any free thinking, objective, informed individual knows it’s true that Palestinians place children in harms way. It is a proven fact. Yet, the atheists choose to be gullible to the lies of these evil people, those who seek to destroy Israel. Another example is the atheists gullibility to Communism of the 20th century and Marxism before it. A great measure of atheists remain solid believers in such nonsense, even after watching it fail time and time again (USSR, Germany, etc.). The point is, atheists can often be idiots just like a theist can be an idiot.

In short, Dawkins bases his faith solely on materialistic evidence. He pushes the lie that micro-evolution is clear evidence for macro-evolution, which is most certainly a lie. He thinks objective morality came about without a need for God but he never can seem to provide testable evidence. He claims as fact the universe came from nothing without the tiniest shred of evidence. He uses reason, has consciousness, and uses laws of logic, all of which have no measure of materialistic evidence to prove their existence.

I submit to you that the theist who believes in a creator God may use philosophical arguments for God to parallel their faith with sound reasoning, but they ultimately believe based on real evidence for the historicity of the Bible, Jesus Christ, his claims, and his miracles. It’s easy for the theist to use science and reason to prove the creation account. It’s easy for the theist to prove the origin of the laws of logic, consciousness, the existence of objective morality, etc. Theism is not a mechanisim to fill in gaps of the unknown. Theism is based on very real, solid evidence found in the natural world and through history.

If you’re unsure about God’s existence, I promise you that if you have a true and pure desire to seek Him to see if He is real, he will reveal himself to you. Sincerely pray and seek the Lord and he will not fail you. His existence is evidenced all around us through His awesome creation. Sincerely seek Him!

The Historicity of the Bible (and an answer to a skeptic)

In my previous blog post, a reader said that he didn’t believe the gospels to be “accurate, historical documents.”  When I challenged him on his claim, he gave a few reasons that I will show have absolutely no validity at all.  This person has sadly been misinformed about that which he speaks regarding the gospels.  I’ll address his charges point by point.

  1. He says the “writers of the gospel [sic] were not eyewitnesses.  They didn’t even live at the same time.”  This is simply false information.  Matthew and John were both disciples of Jesus and knew him personally.  Mark was not a disciple because of his age, but he worked closely with Peter (a disciple of Jesus) as his closest adviser for many years.  Luke was a friend of Paul, a man who knew the apostles and encountered Jesus himself.  Luke interviewed eyewitnesses in order to write his account.  So again, this charge is just absolutely false.  Two of the gospel writers were eyewitnesses and the other two knew the eyewitnesses.[1]
  1. He says, “the events have not been discussed in any other source” except Josephus, “but not that he did some really great stuff, etc. [sic].”  Again this is false information.  There are several non-Christian places where events involving Jesus have been recorded.  These include works by Jews, Romans, and Greeks.  The list is as follows:[2]

–   Josephus, (Jewish)
–   Several portions of the Talmud
–   Lucian of Samosata (Greek)
–   Mara bar Serapion (Greek)
–   Thallus (Roman)
–   Tacitus (Roman)
–   Pliny (Roman)
–   Suetonius (Roman)
–   Phlegon
–   Celcus

  1. He alleges supposed contradictions but never elaborates on the point.  It should be pointed out that the alleged contradictions that many skeptics refer to simply reflect natural variations that occur when a story is told by two different humans.[3]  The differences in the way the accounts are recorded do not in any way change the intended meaning of the event.  Nearly all supposed contradictions can be attributed to minor transmission error or that the Bible is based on eyewitness accounts that complement one another, not contradict each other.  Indeed if the Gospels were not the Gospels, they would be hailed the world over as the world’s most reliable text of the ancient world.[4]  The works of the New Testament are incredibly more reliable than any other ancient work in the history of the world as evidenced by the following chart:

Picture 2

This chart was found at http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

After looking at this factual chart, if one dismisses the bible as historically reliable, then one must dismiss all writings of ancient history because they do not come close to the reliability of the bible.  So as we can see, the reader’s charge about contradictions is absolutely false.

  1. He claims the authors of the Gospels were “primitive shepherders [sic].”  This could not be further from the truth.  I would love to know the reader’s source on this!

There are many, many, many other truths that prove the New Testament and the Gospels to be accurate, reliable, and historical.  The archaeological discoveries made thus far in human history have confirmed everything the bible has said about such things.  The New Testament shows that Jesus fulfilled all the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament such that if left to chance, the chances of a man fulfilling those prophecies by accident would be as great as the universe exploding into being out of nothing!  So I hope and pray that the individual making these erroneous charges will lift the veil of his presuppositions from his mind and see the truth of the bible.

[1] Markos, L. (2010). Apologetics for the 21st Century. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 153.
[2] Turek and Geisler (2004). I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.  Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 270.
[3] Groothuis, D. (2011). Christian Apologetics. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, p. 453.
[4] Markos, L. (2010). Apologetics for the 21st Century. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 151.