googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let the Bailout Fail

I've thought about it more and I've come to a conclusion: Let the bailout fail. Let FNMA fail. Let the investors take the hit. And let the government put its (rather, our) checkbook away.

Here's the way I see it:

1) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have ASSETS in the form of mortgage loans (remember, loans are liabilities to consumers but they're assets to the lenders). If they go under, there are other institutions who will buy these assets.

2) If these assest are leveraged, the companies/investors who loaned them the money took the same chances that every lender takes. If Fannie/Freddie go under, they can sell the assests securing their loans and collect some of their money. But my bet is that Fannie/Freddie won't go under. The vast majority of people will pay back their mortgages and when they do, Fannie/Freddie will get paid and those who loaned to them will get paid. They might just have to wait a while.

3) The individual investors who bought mortgage backed securities are going to have to take their lumps. Remember, it's "risk versus reward." They wanted the reward without risk; Too bad. My own 401K is down 14% - I'm not holding my breath for the government to write me a check for the difference.

4) The institutional investors (those holding the pensions of their employees) are going to have ride it out. Just like #2 above, most people are going to pay back their mortgages eventually. When they do, these investors will get most, if not all, of their money back.

There are 2 real dangers we face. The first is panic in the market. We all need to just buck up and push forward. Don't hide your money under the mattress, don't sell all your investments, and don't dig bomb shelters in your basement because you fear food riots in the streets. Just go about your business and try not to worry.

The other more real and more frightening danger is that of the US government becoming the largest investor, employer, and bank in the country. In other countries (like China and Cuba) we call government ownership of businesses, socialism. In the US. we call it... er... well, I guess its socialism here too!

Is there a God?

I want my blog to be more of an apologetics blog. So, toward that end, I’m going to be posting a series of blogs dealing directly with apologetics. Ultimately, I want to be able to provide a list of questions commonly asked by critics and provide links to posts dealing with that question. I thought I’d start with the most basic of questions: is there a God?

The Bible says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:20. So, according to Paul, the divinity and power of God are clearly seen in His creation. We do not have an excuse to not believe in God. So, do we see God in the creation?

I always like to start at the very beginning. Where do you think everything came from? Most scientists propose an original “Big Bang” from which all matter/energy expanded to become the universe. But the Big Bang doesn’t explain where the energy came from in the first place – it only claims that it all once existed in one place.

Science really has no explanation for the origin of energy. As a matter of fact, in physics, there is the law of the conservation of energy, which basically says that energy (or matter) can neither be created nor destroyed but can only change forms. So they not only have no explanation of the origin of energy, they also acknowledge that energy CANNOT be created. Yet energy exists. If energy exists, there are only 2 possible explanations of its origin: it has either always existed or it was created. That’s it. There are no other choices.

If someone wants to believe that energy has always existed, they are merely making a statement of faith and ascribing divine-like qualities to nature. We cannot know, scientifically, that the universe is infinitely old. Rather, the opposite is true. If the universe were infinitely old, everything in the universe should be the same temperature. What happens when you put ice into hot coffee? They eventually become the same temperature. The same is true with everything in the universe. Eventually, all the stars will burn out, all motion will cease, and everything will be the same temperature. If the universe were infinitely old, this should have happened long ago.

So, if energy cannot be infinitely old, then it must be created. Logically speaking, nothing can create itself so it must have been created by something outside of itself. Therefore, there must have been a Creator.

Consider this: if you see a painting, what more evidence do you need to know there was a painter? If there is a building, the building itself is evidence there was a builder. Likewise, the creation, by itself, is evidence of a Creator.

Now, the next question is, “Where did the Creator come from?” Let’s apply the same two options that we did to energy: the Creator must be either eternal or be created itself/Himself. Now, if the Creator were created, then where did THAT creator come from? Another creator? Where did the other creator come from? Still another creator? You can see where this is going. It’s a (fallacious) logical argument known as an “infinite regress”. Ultimately there had to be a first cause, a Creator that was itself/Himself not created.

The conclusion is inescapable. The universe has an eternal Creator. Now, if that Creator is the God of the Bible is the subject of another post. But to the question, “Is there a God?”, the answer is a resounding, YES!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Failed Bail Out Vote

See if you can spot the error in this statement:

We had to do something.
This was something.
Therefore, we had to do this.

Do you see how that doesn't quite work?

The current economic news has almost eclipsed the presidential race. The last debate, which was supposed to be about foreign affairs, was spent almost exclusively discussing the candidates vision for the bailout.

In my position as a bank manager, I've been inundated with calls from concerned customers - little old ladies (along with customers of nearly every demographic) who are worried that they're going to show up to cash their pension check and there will be a padlock on the bank's door. What's driving the fear? Mostly, it's Democrat doomsayers who are saying if we don't get this bill passed in the next 30 minutes the world is going to end.

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. Let's talk about this for at least a few days before we break out ours kids' and grandkids' piggy banks and write a 700 billion dollar check. I admit we need to do something. We don't necessarily need to do that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is the Scientific Evidence for Creationism?

I apologize in advance because this is going to be a long post. But I think the subject is one of great importance to being equipped in the work of apologetics.

Before now, whenever I’ve talked about evolution or creation, a lot of my posts have revolved around “science.” But I’m not a scientist and neither are a lot of Christians. But do we even need to be scientists to confront the issue? Many young-earth creationists have fallen for the ploy that they need to play by the rules of the enemy when we discuss evolution - don’t use the Bible, don’t talk about the supernatural, and only talk about “science.” That’s garbage!

You see, "scientists" intentionally limit themselves to what is natural. They are proud to say that only what is natural can be observed and "science" doesn't make conclusions about the supernatural or divine. However, real life isn't limited to a lab. Can we study history like we study biology? When we research the Civil War, are we limited to chemical analysis of cannon balls dug up at Gettysburg? There is other evidence people consider besides "scientific" evidence.

Here’s a favorite analogy I like to use. It’s not mine originally but it works so well that I often come back to it:

In the US, it’s average citizens who are called on to sit on juries. We're not all lawyers, scientists, policemen, or criminologists of any kind. Yet we go and listen to the testimony of the “experts”: the lawyers plead the case, the scientists present the forensic evidence, we hear from the eye witnesses, and then we (the average folks) are called on to render a verdict. Perhaps it's not a perfect system but most people feel it is the best system.

When some people read the Bible, they consider it like any other document. If they see the Bible as a historically accurate text, and believe the miracles recorded in it are real, then what the Bible has to say about creation (or anything) carries weight. Furthermore, people use their experiences to form opinions about what is true. Many people see the universe as sublime. Therefore, they see the universe having a Creator to be an acceptable explanation in the scheme of things. It doesn't matter to them that such a conclusion isn't "scientific."

When it comes to the truth about our origins, it's perfectly reasonable to consider ALL the evidence - including the evidence of the Bible. In spite of all the accusations made to the contrary, I've studied all sides of the issue and have determined that the Biblical account of creation is the truth. Others have obviously come to a different conclusion; perhaps they are more persuaded by the "everything-must-be-natural" brand of science. But I refuse to play by the "rules" of scientists who say only their "scientific" evidence is allowed.

Something like the origin of life is a significant question. Most evolutionists avoid the subject with a simple, "ToE isn't about explaining the origin of life but only discusses what happened after the first living organism was formed." However, that answer just doesn't cut it because if life cannot arise spontaneously, then the rest of the theory is academic. The average Joe wants to know how life began and "science" doesn't have an answer. Creation does. This is why creationists harp on the origin of life question.

Now, I don't dismiss scientific reasoning. I've made it part of the equation. I'm just more open to interpreting reality than many scientists are. As we've already seen, many folks only consider the natural possibilities. By doing this they immediately disqualify one possible explanation - the supernatural one. And if the supernatural explanation happens to be the correct one, then I guess they're screwed from the start and practice "science" in vain. When real people are looking for answers, many of them aren't interested in theories that immediately disqualify what might be the TRUE answer.

Certainly reality includes science but it's not just science. It's especially not the restricted science that limits itself to only what is natural. Jesus rose from the dead. By all accounts, that's a miracle. Did it not happen because it's not scientific? And if He did rise from the dead, doesn't that add weight to the things He promised about our eternal life?

If the Creator of the universe walked on earth, told us how to be saved, and proved His divinity through miracles such as rising from the dead, do I reject that because the resurrection from the dead is unscientific? If I lived in a third world country, and never saw someone doing card tricks, I might believe some doing card tricks was a wizard. But it's because I know that dead men don't rise from the dead that I know a miracle has happened. It's because I know that matter is neither created nor destroyed that I know God created the universe. It's because I know that life only comes from life that I know that abiogenesis is impossible.

What about other religions and beliefs? I've considered them also. The Bible just didn't appear on my lap one day and beguile me into believing in it. I wasn't a Christian until I was a grown man. Why did I become a Christian? It’s because I've been convinced of the truth of it.

God said in Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together" Isaiah 1:18. I don't believe the Bible because of a blind faith. I've considered the evidence and made a reasonable decision. I did not make an a priori assumption that the natural is all there is and let the rest of the evidence be damned.

John 4: You Shall Never Thirst

“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.). Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:7-14

I had written before (here) that I do not believe it is possible for a Christian to lose his salvation. We do nothing to earn it; we do nothing to keep it. I mentioned the above passage in my other post but I wanted to explore it a little more.

Jesus said that whosoever drinks the water He gives will have eternal life and will NEVER thirst again. Here is the passage in its original language followed by my own translation:

ὃς δ’ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος οὗ ἐγὼ δώσω αὐτῷ, οὐ μὴ διψήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα,

“But whosoever should drink of the water which I will give him will in no way thirst ever.”

Once again we see the use of the use of the emphatic, double negative οὐ μὴ (ou mē). As discussed before (here), the full force of the emphatic, double negative is difficult to express in English. We can get an idea when we consider some of the instances where it is used. Look at these verses where the term is translated as “in no wise” (KJV):

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

“And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:3

You can see in these examples how Jesus is establishing permanency or making an absolute assurance that what He says will come to pass.

So, when we look back to John 4, Jesus is making this same claim of certainty. The water He gives becomes eternal life. The one who drinks of His water will NEVER thirst. There are no conditions, exceptions, or equivocations. If you have drunk of this water, you will never thirst again lest Jesus be a liar!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Could All of the Animals Fit on the Ark?

One very common criticism of the Biblical account of the Flood (Genesis 6:7) is, “How could Noah fit all those animals on the Ark?” At first, this might seem like a valid question but watch out for straw men. For example, some people will say something to the effect, “There are millions of species so there’s no way Noah could fit millions of animals in the boat no matter how large.”

My first response to people who raise this objection is to ask them on what grounds they make this claim. How many animals do they feel Noah had on the Ark? How big was the Ark? How many animals could it hold? It’s been my experience that most people can’t answer these basic questions. So, if they don’t know how many animals were on the Ark, and if they don’t know how big it was, how can they say there wasn’t enough room? It’s funny (in a sad sort of way) that people often make this claim without any idea how many animals there were or how much room was available. This is known as an argument from ignorance: I don’t know how it could be done so therefore it can’t be done.

According to Wikipedia, there are currently about 1.6 million known species. Of course, there could be many more species still unidentified. Some estimates of the total number of all species are as high as 30 million. And this still doesn’t take account for all the extinct species that have lived. But here’s the straw man in that number: of these estimates, insects, bacteria, plants, and marine animals make up the overwhelming majority of all species. No special accommodations needed to be made for any of these groups on the Ark. Noah, for example, did not need to build aquariums to save marine animals – a few survived outside of the Ark.

Now, we know Noah did take some plants onto the Ark for food (Genesis 6:21) so some plants survived on the Ark. Likewise, many insects, bacteria, and viruses were probably also on the Ark carried by the plants and animals. But a large number of these groups could have easily survived outside of the Ark. The Bible is very clear that absolute destruction of the Flood was limited to air-breathing, terrestrial animals (Genesis 7:21-23).

There are less than 60,000 identified species of vertebrate animals. When you subtract fish (29K species) and amphibians (6K species), that leaves only around 25,000 terrestrial vertebrate animals that Noah had to concern himself with.

Furthermore, keep in mind that this is the number of “species” whereas Noah only took representative “kinds” onto the Ark. There are 25 species of chipmunks, for example; but Noah did not have to take 50 chipmunks on the Ark. He only needed 2. From these two chipmunks, all varieties of chipmunks have descended. Considering all the varieties of dogs, cats, bears, deer, etc, Noah likely had far fewer than 25,000 animals on the Ark. But since we don’t know exactly how many extinct and undiscovered species let’s use 25,000 as the number of animals on the Ark.

Even assuming there were as many as 25,000 animals, how much room did they have on the Ark? The Bible gives the rough dimensions of the Ark as 300 x 50 x 30 cubits. There are some varying estimates as to the length of a cubit but on average it is about 18 inches. This would make the Ark 450’ long, 75’ wide, and 45’ tall with a volume of over 1.5 million cubic feet. A standard railroad car can hold 240 sheep. The Ark had the equivalent volume of 522 railroad cars! If the average animal on the Ark were the size of a sheep, 25,000 animals would only occupy 19% of the available space. Of course, the thickness of the hull and the interior structure would have reduced the total amount of interior room. But even a generous reduction of 16% means there’s still plenty of room for all the animals, food, water, and Noah and his family.

There are a lot of other questions people have about Noah and the Ark: could a boat that big be made seaworthy? How did Noah care so many animals? What did the carnivores eat? Etc. We will certainly be exploring these and other questions in future posts. But the question, “could all the animals fit on the ark?” is a no-brainer. Yes, they could!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Jesus God?

There are some people who deny the divinity of Christ. The typical argument goes something like, Jesus is the Son of God; He is not God. To justify their position by pointing to the many references where Jesus calls Himself the “Son of God” and further point out that Jesus never said, “I am God.”

So what are we to believe? Are there any verses that claim Jesus is God? There are actually more than I can list in a single blog. But we’ll look at a few of the most obvious examples. For the sake of certainty, I picked some verses from the OT which clearly describe God and compared them to some verses from the NT which clearly describe Jesus. See what you think:

The heavens are the work of God's hand and He laid the foundation of the earth. (Psalms 102:24-25)
The heavens are the work of Jesus Christ's hand and He laid the foundation of the earth. (Hebrews 1:8-10)

God is the Creator of the earth (Jeremiah 27:5)
Jesus Christ is the Creator of the earth (John 1:10)

God Himself is judge (Psalm 50:6)
Jesus Christ judges the quick and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1)

Only God is our savior (Isaiah 43:11)
Jesus Christ is our savior (Titus 2:13)

God is the first and last (Isaiah 44:6)
Jesus Christ is the first and last (Revelation 1:17-18)

To God, every knee will bow and every tongue confess (Isaiah 45:22-23)
To Jesus Christ, every knee will bow and every tongue confess (Philippians 2:1011)

Forgiveness is with God (Psalms 130:4)
Forgiveness is in the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7)

Jehovah is God Almighty (Genesis 35:11)
Jesus Christ is God Almighty (Revelation 4:8)

Are you convinced yet? And as if these weren’t enough examples, consider this: When Moses asked God His name, God answered, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). So I AM is a reference to Jehovah of the OT.

In the New Testament, Jesus often referred to Himself as, I AM. The most famous example is in,John 8:58 where Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

But John recorded many instances where Jesus used the name I AM even though it was not translated as such. Another very good example is John 8:24, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” In the KJV, italicized words (such as “he” here) are not in the original Greek.

So any attempt to deny the divinity of Christ is easily refuted. Christ is the Son AND He is God. I’ll leave you with this final verse:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pilate was a Governor

The blogs are a buzz with the new, catchy slogan being advanced by the quasi-religious left: “Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.” It’s a misguided attempt to promote the experience of Obama while simultaneously putting down Palin. I guess they don’t mind that Bill Clinton was also governor.

Anyway, it’s a ridiculous argument. I know Jesus. Jesus is a friend of mine. And Mr. Obama, you’re no Jesus Christ!

Scientific "Creationism"

I think I'm going to object to the word "creationism" from now on. Ordinarily I'm fine with the word when used correctly. But many evolutionists, especially the folks at (TO) abuse the term. I've even heard folks make comments along the lines of "do you believe in creationism?". Do you understand that words ending in "ism" describe beliefs (i.e. atheism)? So it's kind of like saying, "do you believe in a belief in creation."

Consider this quote from TO:

"Include the evidence for creationism (please remember that merely finding problems with conventional science does not count as support for creationism, as there may be other theories which differ from both conventional science and creationism). A good example of evidence for creationism would be some observation which was predicted by it."

Evidence for creationism would be my posts on this blog. I have demonstrated that there are people (me in particular) who believe in creation - hence it is evidence for creationism. Now, if TO is asking for evidence for a divine CREATION, then why don't they ask for that?

I know why people do it; it's because they want to emphasize the belief part - divine creation isn't an event just a belief. I believe there is gravity - is that gravityism? I believe the earth is a sphere - is that spherism?

When considering the origin of man we are either here by the purpose of some type of Creator or we're here by natural processes. If I believe it's by a Creator, that's creationism. On the other hand, if someone believes it's via evolution, that's evolutionism. Why will evolutionists use one term but shun the other?

They can't have it both ways. If there is creationism, there is also evolutionism. Use the terms correctly or stop using them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Welcome to RKBentley’s new and improved blog.

You’re going to notice some changes to my blog over the next few weeks. Hopefully, these will all be changes for the better. Anyone following any of my blogs has no doubt noticed that I haven’t posted on any of them for several weeks. Having three blogs turned out to be too much for me to keep up with. I even toyed with the idea of starting a fourth blog but now I see the insanity of that. Frankly, the thought of writing material for 3-4 blogs was so daunting that I sort of abandoned them altogether.

Here’s my vision for my blogs going forward. I’m going to use what is now my political blog as a kind of home page. Rather than having a focus on politics, I’m going to make it more of a Christian topics and apologetics forum that will include many subjects including those I now post on separate blogs: current events, Bible study, and creation/evolution. The Bible study will be broadened to include insights from the Greek.

Because these diverse topics will all be posted on a single blog, I’m going to try to write the posts in such a way as to make them more uniform and appealing to a diverse readership. I will, however, keep my other blogs. Whenever I write a post that is suitable for one of the other blogs, I will post it on both. If a reader is interested in the creation issue, for example, he can simply click on a link to all my creation blog archives.

I’d like to leave this blog free of debate so, for the moment, I’m not allowing comments on this blog. Since most of the blogs will be posted on the corresponding, secondary site anyway, anyone who wishes to comment on a particular blog can visit that site and leave a comment. Since I'm using my former political blog as my main page, all of the blog archive is my political posts. I'm trying to export them to another blog but until that's done, they'll remain here.

It’s going to take me a little while to settle in but by doing this, it’s my hope that I can post more regularly. Thanks to every one for visiting. Your feedback is certainly welcome and come back often.

God bless.