googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why can’t they see their hypocrisy?

Many Christians have been belittled for believing in Biblical creation. One criticism often leveled at us is that we are merely laymen and so are not qualified to competently judge the theory of evolution. Any criticism we make against the theory is only our lay opinion and is therefore not worthy of any serious consideration.

A few months back, I came across one staunch evolutionist who was making this very point. He waxed on about the many thousands of scientists who have dedicated their careers to studying evolution and that it was arrogance on the part of non-scientists to reject their conclusions as though we understand better than they. This particular evolutionist went on to ask what other subject exists where the opinions of lay people are given consideration over the opinions of people who are experts in the subject.

He seemed to be asking the question rhetorically thinking the answer was obvious. He believed there is no other subject where people with no formal training in a subject would boldly put forth opinions that contradicted the conclusions of experts of the subject. Much to his embarrassment, I suggested one: people who are not studied in the Bible feel perfectly qualified to criticize the Bible. They smugly rebuff and deride the conclusions of thousands of theologians who have dedicated their lives to the study of the Bible. The entire extent of these critics’ research may be nothing more than using a Google search yet they are thoroughly convinced the Bible is rife with errors, Christianity is a sham, and there is no God.

It seems to me they want to have it both ways. They want to condemn creationists as lay people who are not qualified to judge the truthfulness of evolution. Yet they feel they are perfectly able to judge the truthfulness of the Bible even though they may not be formally trained in theology. People who use this argument paint themselves into a proverbial corner. They need to either acknowledge that people can have opinions (even correct opinions) in subjects they are not formally trained in OR they need to stop criticizing the Bible or Christianity until they receive formal training on the subject. Which is it going to be?

But their hypocrisy doesn’t end there. If they believe non-scientist creationists are not qualified to judge their theory, what makes a non-scientist evolutionist qualified to judge his own theory? If I – as a non-scientist – cannot judge their theory false, then neither can a non-scientist judge the theory true! Alas, no. It doesn’t work that way. To them, people who reject evolution are ignorant fools and people who accept evolution are enlightened thinkers. Acceptance or rejection of the theory is the only test required; no one need demonstrate how well they actually understand the theory.

Let’s review this just for the sake of clarity: some evolutionists dismiss creationist arguments because they feel non-scientists aren’t qualified to judge the truthfulness of the theory. However, these evolutionists themselves aren’t scientists yet feel they are perfectly qualified to judge both the truthfulness of their own theory AND the truthfulness of the Bible (which they also have no training in). It seems there’s a pot-kettle dilemma going on.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nor thorns infest the ground

As I discussed in some previous posts, I really enjoy listening to Christ-centered Christmas music. An oldie but goodie is the classic hymn, “Joy to the World.” It’s one of my favorites but I admit my ignorance when, while watching the video on YouTube, I heard the following stanza:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

As often as I’ve heard that song, I can’t remember ever hearing that stanza. It’s a wonderful bit of doctrine. This song was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts – long before the influence of Lyell or Darwin. During Watts’ time, the overwhelming majority of Christians were (what would now be called) young-earth creationists. It was not until the 19th century that Christians began to allow the ideas of secular science to influence our understanding of Scripture. It was then that many Christians began adding millions of years to Genesis.

From a purely doctrinal perspective, one problem with on old earth is that of theodicy. Nearly any belief in an old earth necessarily involves the idea that God created death, disease, pain, and suffering before the Sin and Fall of Adam. An old earth would be what called “very good” in Genesis 1:31. It’s hard to imagine why a benevolent, sovereign God would spend billions of years creating a world full of cancer, carnivory, and carnage when His objective is to create a “very good” paradise for man to possess.

The Bible is clear that the original creation was perfect. There was no death before Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12). Thorns, for example, are the result of God’s curse on the creation (Genesis 3:17-19) – not an intentional adornment in God’s plan to build a “very good” creation.

There will come a day when God will create a new heaven and earth. Revelation 22:3 says there will be “no more curse” in that day. Isaiah 11 describes a world where the “wolf will lay down with the lamb” and where the “lion shall eat straw like an ox.” This harkens back to the perfect creation described in Genesis 1:29-30 when animals did not eat each other but all were herbivorous.

I sometimes wonder what “no more curse” means to those Christians who ascribe an old age to the creation. To what will the creation be restored? Do they believe it will simply revert back to death and bloodshed that supposedly prevailed for billions of years before Adam? That is not a paradise worth looking forward to.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Popular Misconceptions about the Nativity

I confess that I own a nativity scene. Every Christmas, it is really the only decoration I really look forward to setting up. I think I might enjoy the nativity more than the tree – though perhaps it’s simply because decorating the tree involves a lot more work. But even though I enjoy setting out my nativity, I know that it’s not a very accurate depiction of The Nativity. In fact, many people’s conception about the nativity is simply not accurate. In this post, I’d like to bring up a few of the more enduring misconceptions surrounding the nativity.

Let’s start with the trip to Bethlehem. The Christmas card image of Joseph walking through the desert at night, leading Mary as she rides on a donkey isn’t mentioned anywhere in Scripture. Since the purpose of the journey was a census, all of Joseph’s and Mary’s family should have traveled with them to Bethlehem. They would have been with Mary when she delivered Jesus. Where are they in the nativities? Did neither Mary nor Joseph have any living relatives (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, or sisters) that would have made the trip with them? All of these family members would have been of the house of David (Luke 2:4) just as Mary and Joseph were and so would have been required to travel to Bethlehem.

The young couple did not necessarily arrive in Bethlehem the very night Jesus was born as is often depicted in film. The Bible merely says that she delivered Jesus “while they were there” (Luke 2:6). However, the Bible does say that Jesus was laid into a manger (Luke 2:7) which strongly suggests Joseph and Mary were staying with the animals when He was born. It would be reasonable to assume they could not have been in the town very long or they probably would have found more suitable lodgings after a while.

The shepherds were told of Jesus’ birth by the angel (Luke 2:10). The angel had given the shepherds a sign to identify Jesus – He would be the baby lying in a manger (Luke 2:12). So the shepherds went into town to find a baby lying in a manger. The Bible doesn’t mention a star pointing the shepherds the way to Jesus. Certainly a star pointing out the place where He lay would have made Him a lot easier to find Yet Luke 2 doesn’t mention a star at all. I don’t believe there was any star in the sky (see my previous discussion on the Star of Bethlehem).

Concerning the wise men, the most enduring notion is that there were three wise men. Nowhere does the Bible tell us how many wise men there were. IT’S NOT THERE. The idea that there were three perhaps stems from the fact that three different gifts are mentioned: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (see my discussion of the wise men).

But furthermore, there is a great misconception about when the wise men appeared to worship Jesus. Think about this for a moment: Luke 2:21-23 tells us that Jesus was circumcised when He was eight days old. Later, Mary took Him to the temple in Jerusalem after the “days of her purification.” According to the Law of Moses, the purification for women after bearing a male child was forty days. So, according to Luke, Mary took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after delivering Him. However, Matthew 2:12-14 says that after the wise men departed, the Angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt and Joseph immediately (when he rose) fled that night to Egypt with Jesus and Mary. Now how can these two accounts possibly be reconciled if the wise men visited Jesus the night of His birth?

The simple fact is that the wise men did not arrive to worship Jesus until much later after His birth – perhaps as long as two years after His birth. Matthew tells us that Herod ordered all children under two years old to be murdered according to the time the wise men told him the star had appeared to them (Matthew 2:16). Also, there is the much overlooked mention that the wise men entered a “house” (Matthew 2:11) – not a stable or some such place. Certainly, the wise men were not next to the shepherds by the manger adoring the Savior. And while we’re at it, the Bible doesn’t mention anything about how the wise men traveled – nary is a camel mentioned.

Many of our cherished images of that blessed night are inaccurate. But I am no Scrooge. I know the event happened even if we are a little fuzzy on the details. I think the few facts we do know are sufficient – namely this:

… the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Further reading:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Luke 2:14: Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men.

Unfortunately, we no longer possess the original autographs set to paper by the writers of the NT. What we do have is an abundance of manuscripts – far more than exists for any other book of antiquity. While it’s true there are variations among these manuscripts, because of their sheer abundance of them, we can have a good confidence what the original texts must have said.

Certainly none of the variations significantly impact any fundamental doctrine; however, occasionally variations result in a more than trivial difference in translations. One such variation occurs in Luke 2:14

The NA27 – which most modern translations use – reads:

δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας.

The Textus Receptus – which was the text used in the KJV translation – reads:

δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια

The difference between these two texts is only a single letter – the final sigma in ευδοκια. This single letter, however, changes the case of the word from the nominative case (ευδοκια) to the genitive case (εὐδοκίας).

The nominative case means εὐδοκία (along with εἰρήνη) is the subject of the clause εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια. This is a rather simple translation: “Good will toward men.” This is the KJV translation.

If the word is a genitive, then εἰρήνη is necessarily the subject of the clause εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας since it is in the nominative case. Translating this is somewhat more tricky (at least for me). It would mean something like: “peace toward men of good will.” More likely it means, “peace toward men of His [God’s] good pleasure.” The NASB reads, “peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Theologically speaking, there is a slight difference between the two translations. “Good will toward men” suggests a universal peace from God toward all people. “[P]eace among men with whom He is pleased,” suggests God’s peace is reserved only for those who please God, namely those people who trust in His Son.

What a wonderful message the shepherds heard that night. This Christmas, I pray that everyone’s response would be the same as the shepherds’: “Let us now go… and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mary Did You Know?

I have often wondered if Mary was fully aware of the magnitude of Who Jesus was. Certainly, she was a virgin and had an angel announce that she would bear a Son conceived of the Holy Spirit so she must have known this was a miraculous event. Even so, did she really know how significant it was?

What a hard life she lived: Suspected of infidelity to her betrothed, likely widowed while Jesus was still young, then to watch Him suffer and die. Not only was this her Son, she knew He was the promised Savior. What did she think when she saw Him on the cross? Through all this, could she have possibly known this was how He would save us?

I sometimes marvel at the faith of many people from the Bible. I can see the end where they could not. They were used of God in roles they would never fully understand during their own life times. Were I in their shoes I wonder if I could have done the same.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!

In my last post I mentioned that many Christmas carols preach a powerful message. Here's just such a song. Most people know the first stanza (which is wonderful) just read the words to the second:

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that men no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Emmanuel!

What more can I say? Just watch for yourself:

I hope you were blessed! Have a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Christmas Time Again

On my blog, Christ will always be the reason for the season. After my 4+ decades of life on this earth, I tire quickly of shopping, decorating, and many of the trappings that come with Christmas. But I still love Christmas!

One of the things I love most about this season is the beautiful hymns. Of course there are many wonderful hymns that have been written but Christmas carols really get me in the Christmas spirit. Many of them can also preach a powerful message.

I intend to post several videos on my blog this season. Hopefully they will be a blessing to everyone who watches them. Here’s one of my favorites.

God bless!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

John 20:31: Is Jesus the Messiah or is the Messiah Jesus?

τατα δ γέγραπται να πιστεύητε τι ησος στιν χριστς υἱὸς το θεο,

[B]ut these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; (ASV)

To my native-English-thinking mind, the natural reading of this verse is “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” However, I was recently reading up on the nominative case in Wallace’s book and I came across this interesting insight. In the above verse, ησος (Jesus) is in the predicate position to χριστς (the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One). We see a similar construction in John 1:1:

κα θες ν λόγος.

[A]nd the Word was God. (ASV)

These constructions in these two verses are remarkably similar: anarthrous noun in the nominative case, verb (εμί), and articular noun in the nominative case. In John 1:1, we translate it as “The Word was God” and not “And God was the Word” because the article appears with λόγος indicating that it is the subject.

The question becomes why, then, do we translate John 20:31 as, “Jesus is the Christ”? The article modifies χριστς suggesting it should be the subject. If we translated it as we do John 1:1, it should read: “The Christ is Jesus.”

Now, we do have the added entanglement of ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (“the Son of God”). This shouldn’t be too troublesome since it also appears in the nominative case and is articulated; thus, typical rules of grammar suggest that it modifies χριστς. Therefore, the clause could read, “The Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus.”

Some will argue that proper names, even anarthrous names, take precedence over articular nouns. There is some merit to this argument and thus the debate will continue.

What is the theological significance between the two possible translations? Essentially there is no difference. Jesus is the Messiah and the Messiah is Jesus. Both are equally true. So what is the intent of the Gospel writer? It could be that John is trying to proclaim to the world Who Jesus is: Jesus is the Messiah. Or it could be that John is trying to proclaim to Jews who the Messiah is: The Messiah is Jesus. In that sense, there is a difference between the translations.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Forty Brave Soldiers

I first heard this song about 15 years ago. It's one of the most inspiring songs I think I've ever heard. It's hard to listen to and not be challenged.

I don't hear it too often anymore but it's still one my favorites. I found it on YouTube and thought I'd share it here. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I have. God Bless!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Five Solas Part 5: Soli Deo Gloria

The final of the Five Solas of the Reformation is Soli Deo Gloria, or “Glory to God alone.” Certainly there can be no argument that we are to have no other gods before the Lord but the doctrine of Soli Deo Gloria goes beyond that and holds that all of creation exists for the glory of God. He is The Sovereign Lord over everything He has made and everything we do should be done for His honor and glory.

We see this in many passages of Scripture.

Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place. Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth. (1 Chronicles 16:23-31)

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The list could go on: Revelation 1:6, Ephesians 3:21, Revelation 7:12, Romans 11:36, et al.

Of the Five Solas, this doctrine is perhaps the easiest to defend from Scripture yet is by far the hardest to live in practice. We are creatures of ego, vanity, pride, greed, covetousness, and selfishness. We often act with no other motive than our own self interest and for our own gratification. But the Bible is clear – whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God.

How would such a thing look in practice? I wish I could say exactly how it would be done but I would be a poor example.

We could be like the good servants who invested the talents of their lord (Matthew 25:14-30). As they went about their work while their master was away, they knew in their minds their labor was for his benefit.

We could be like the man freed from demons (Mark 5:1-20) who published abroad in the 10 cities what the Lord had done for him.

We could try to be like Jesus. What better Teacher could there be?

What are you doing now for the glory of God? That question shames me. Whatever I do, I know I could do more. All glory is due God. Soli Deo Gloria.

Further reading:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Funny Thing about Facts

Contrary to the popular expression, facts don’t speak for themselves. Facts must be interpreted. Our conclusions about the facts also turn on what starting assumptions we use when interpreting the facts.

It’s been often said that the “evidence” supports evolution and there is no “evidence” for creation. The fact of the matter is that both theories have the same evidence. We all live in the same world and so have the same fossils, the same rocks, the same stars, the same molecules, and the same everything else. The evidence doesn’t necessarily support either theory; rather, either theory is an attempt to explain the evidence.

Consider a geological feature like the Grand Canyon. How was the canyon formed? According to secular theories, the canyon layers were laid down over a period of some two billion years and the canyon was later carved out by the Colorado River and other tributaries. Creationists believe that most of the layers in the Grand Canyon were laid down rapidly and the canyon carved out rapidly and catastrophically during the events surrounding the Noachian Flood. Both theories are using the same evidence yet each tries to explain the evidence in a different way.

Now, good theories should be predictive. If the creationist theory concerning the creation of the canyon is true, we might expect to find signs of rapid depositing of sedimentary layers. Do we find any “evidence” consistent with that prediction? Yes! The photo to the right shows strata that is tightly bent or folded. Such a find is inconsistent with long age interpretations because solid rock is not easily bent without breaking or cracking. However, soft layers of mud can be bent by rapid upheaval without breaking or cracking. So the creationist theory better explains this evidence than the long age theory.

Speaking of predictions, Darwin made some predictions he hoped would validate his own theory. Read his own words (from 2 different chapters of The Origin of Species):
“But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?...

“But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”
Darwin predicted that, if his theory were true, that the geological record would be overflowing with fossils of “intermediate varieties” of species. During his lifetime, paleontology was a blossoming discipline and he was confident that future finds would confirm his prediction. Yet 150 years later, only a handful of debatable transitional fossils have been found – not the countless numbers he expected.

So, is this lack of “evidence” damaging to Darwin’s theory? Not in the least. The late, Stephen Jay Gould, a champion of evolutionary theory, was frank about the nonexistence of gradualism in the fossil record. In a 1972 paper, along with Niles Eldredge, Gould, proposed an evolutionary theory known as punctuated equilibrium. According to Gould, evolution occurs first in a very small group of individual organisms isolated from the larger, parental population. The smaller group rapidly evolves while the larger group remains static. Since the large group leaves the most fossils, and the smaller group very few, it easily explains the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. How convenient that Gould would suggest a way to explain the LACK of evidence for his theory.

Since any theory is an attempt to explain the evidence, it is no wonder then that the evidence will seem to support the theory. Evolutionists may be wrong but I don’t think they are idiots so of course the evidence is consistent with their explanation. But even a theory that seems to explain the evidence very well can still be wrong. Fellow creationist, Todd Wood, said on his blog:

“In the history of science, there are often times when interpretation of data are uncertain, and a person could justifiably claim that there was evidence for two mutually exclusive theories. The obvious example would be Copernican vs. Ptolemaic astronomy. Copernicus' trick of switching the sun and earth's location helped explain some observations (like why Mercury and Venus were always observed very close to the sun), but his retaining circular orbits and epicycles did not make his model simpler or more accurate than the Ptolemaic. Furthermore, the Ptolemaic model had on its side the everyday observation of the sun's motion across the sky. Galileo did little to resolve this dispute, and Kepler's proposal of elliptical orbits was not universally accepted. It was not until Newton that the Copernican system (actually a heavily modified version of the Copernican system) really triumphed.

Today, we have no doubt that the earth rotates and moves around the sun, but would it then be fair to say that there's "no evidence for the Ptolemaic system?"”

The Ptolemaic Model endured from the Greeks until Galileo. It seemed to explain the “evidence” very well but it was very wrong notwithstanding. It could still be said that there is “evidence” for the Ptolemaic system, but the heliocentric model is a better explanation of the evidence.

So we have competing theories about things like the origin of the universe, the world, and of humans. Both models have the same evidence available to support their theories. The question falls to us – which is the better explanation of the two? More directly, which one do we believe is the correct explanation?

I think everyone knows where I stand.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Looking into the Past

There’s one thing that bothers me about evolution. OK, there are many things that bother me about evolution but now I’m thinking of one in particular. Evolutionists often tout that we “observe evolution in action.” And since they equivocate so on the definition of evolution, we sometimes do see “evolution” occurring (that is, we see evolution occurring by definition). However, if we limit “evolution” to mean the theory that all present biodiversity on earth has descended (via descent with modification) from a single common ancestor, then we haven’t “observed” anything of the sort.

The funny thing about science is that it’s supposed to be about things that are observable, testable, and repeatable. When we talk about unique events of the past, such as the supposed “Big Bang,” the events are neither observable nor repeatable. As a matter of fact, we can’t observe the past at all – we can only observe the present.

When you look at a fossil, you are looking at it now. You are not looking at 65 million years ago. The fossil is here in the present and any tests or experiments we conduct on it are being conducted in the present. We can repeat the experiments, we cannot repeat the supposed 65 million years.

Some things about the fossil are objective – like how much it weighs. Other things are subjective - like if it’s really a bone or simply an ordinary rock that resembles a bone. Now, you can make claims about the supposed fossil/rock and let other scientists review your claims. If you say, “this is a tooth from a T-Rex,” other scientists can compare your alleged tooth to other alleged teeth that were found in more complete, alleged skulls of what has been identified as other t-rex fossils. Maybe they’ll agree or maybe not. But whatever “science” is being conducted is being conducted here and now. We are not observing the past. We’re making observations in the present and drawing conclusions about the past.

Furthermore, if an evolutionist claimed, “this tooth is 65 million years old,” there is no way to go back in time 65 million years and look to see if this same alleged tooth was truly in a dino’s head at that time. The claim is ultimately beyond verification. The best one can hope for is validation by other scientists who might agree with the conclusion.

Now, scientists have theories about things in the past. They have theories about things like the origin of the universe and abiogenesis. OK, so how do we test their theory of abiogenesis? We could try to create life in a lab – but even if we were successful we can’t know for certain that’s how it happened. Ultimately, their theory is beyond testing. Scientific theories can never be proven true anyway – they can only be proven false. So how do I “falsify” abiogenesis? How would I falsify a theory on something like the origin of gravity? How do I falsify a theory about the origin of energy? Many evolutionists I know haven’t even thought about such things as the origin of gravity. I guess they believe it just always was.

When they do consider a theory for the origin of anything they look for natural explanations because that is what they consider “scientific.” Why? There is no objective reason to do so. Some say it’s because only the natural explanations are testable but this reason fails because no theory on the origin of something like gravity is testable. The origin of gravity was a unique event of the past that cannot be repeated or observed. And, as I’ve sometimes said, if scientists don’t know how gravity began, how can they exclude the possibility that God created it? Certainly when you start with the axiom that everything must have a natural explanation, you will always arrive at a natural explanation.

Frankly, I can't understand their reasoning. If we don't know how something happened, how can anyone so firmly believe it wasn't a miracle? The obvious answer is that their belief system is such that only what is natural is real. Hence, they practice a dogmatic belief about things you cannot observe - a religion if you will. In this sense, evolution is as religious as creation. Alternatively, creation is at least as scientific as evolution.

It’s really that simple. When we firmly commit ourselves to beliefs that are ultimately unverifiable, we are exercising a sort of faith. I have decided that the Genesis account of creation is truly how we got here even though I can’t prove it. Others can cite all the “evidence” they have that we evolved and be firmly convinced that they are correct but I know they really can’t prove their position either. If they were truly honest, they would admit the same.

Now just because something happened in the past, it does not mean we cannot judge for ourselves if we believe the event is true or not. It merely means we are thwarted in our ability to observe, test, and repeat the supposed event. Of course, some theories about past events are more obvious than others. If I saw skid marks leading off the highway, through a field, leading to a mangled car wrapped around a tree, I would conclude that the car skidded off the road and hit the tree. I would believe that even though I didn’t see it happen. However, if an eyewitness to the event gave me a different explanation than the obvious one and the details at the scene can be interpreted in a way that supports the eyewitness's account, I might change my mind.

Now, to the creation of man (and everything else): We are here so obviously we had to come from somewhere (unless one claims that humans have always existed). Regardless of the precise process, there are at least two theories about how we got here: 1) We were created by some type of Designer or 2) we arrived via natural processes. As far as I see it, those are really my only options. So, I will consider both sides and decide which I believe is the truth.

The most reliable information we have of the past is what has been written down and preserved by the people who observed it. We cannot go back and observe the past. We can only find the writings and artifacts of those ancient people and study them in the present. In the case of creation, we do have an impeachable Witness to the event. He is infinite, omniscient, and omnipotent. He also has revealed to us how He created the world. So I have His word or I have the word of fallible men with finite knowledge and limited understanding who are speculating about events they did not witness.

Hmmm, I think I’ll take His word.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

As we reflect on the blessings God pours out on us, we sometimes tend to focus only on those good things God gives us. We thank God for our families, our health, our homes, our jobs, etc. What would happen if we no longer had these things? Would we no longer be thankful to God?

I’m reminded of those words God whispered to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The things of this world are fleeting: our health, our families, our jobs, and even our lives. I find joy in these things for a while but they aren’t what I’m most thankful for. I thank God for His grace.

Yes, I thank God for all the blessings He has given me but even without them all, His grace is sufficient.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Health Care Reform Made Amazingly Easy

So the new House version of the health care reform bill has been released and it’s a mere 1,990 pages long. You can read the entire thing in PDF here. Of course, when the bill is debated on the floor and new amendments are proposed, we can easily expect a few thousand more pages to be added. Later, when the Senate bill is unveiled, it’s likely to be equally voluminous and have its own tome of amendments. If both should be passed, the two houses will meet to “reconcile” the two bills and we’ll have would be a monstrous behemoth that will include every pet project ever imagined by Democrats. Health care reform is a liberal’s wet dream.

I may not be a legislator but it seems to me health care reform could be done in an amazingly simple way. I can give you the whole outline of it right here in a single blog post. Watch – I’ll show you:

You’ve got to ask yourself, “Why is health insurance so expensive?” The simple answer is because health care is so expensive. Duh! So, the first step in bring down health insurance cost is to bring down the cost of medical care. There are a couple of simple ways to lower the cost of health care.

The first way is through tort reform. Law suits against doctors and drug companies have run amuck. Lawyers are in the business of pedaling junk-science and convincing juries to award billions of dollars in bogus claims. The risk of litigation forces doctors to shell over tens of thousands of dollars every year in malpractice insurance premiums. Additionally, doctors often more care than they otherwise might have were it not for the possibility of litigation: more tests, more prescriptions, more of everything – “just in case.”

It’s hard to estimate how much could be saved from tort reform. Some studies have suggested the cost of litigation and defensive medicine accounts for 1/3 of health care costs. Considering that health care is around 17.6% of the GDP ($2.5 trillion), any reduction realized through tort reform could translate into billions of dollars of savings.

Another simple way to lower medical costs is to increase competition among service providers. Do you know how much a visit to the doctor costs? It’s no surprise that many people don’t know. Oh sure, most people can tell you what their co-pay is for a doctor’s visit but they don’t know what the total cost is because they never see it. They visit the doctor and the doctor sends a bill to their insurance company. That’s the way it is for nearly all our medical care. So when people shop for doctors or medical care, they choose doctors based on thing like friendliness, a convenient location, etc. People seldom consider what the doctor charges unless the doctor is not in their insurance network.

Because doctors often participate in insurance networks, an interesting thing happens – they don’t compete with other doctors to charge less. Instead, they charge whatever the insurance company agrees to pay. So if the insurance company says it will pay $100 for an office visit, the doctor will charge $100 for an office visit. There is no incentive for him to charge less. It’s almost a kind of price fixing.

So what if we made doctors compete for patients’ dollars? We could make insurance available only for catastrophic events and put a portion of the consumers’ premiums into a medical savings account. The patients would use the money in the account to pay for routine medical care with the understanding that they get to keep whatever isn’t spent. In this case, the patient is concerned if one doctor charges $100 and another only charges $75. Patients would begin shopping for medical care and doctors would have to compete with other doctors by lowering costs. And since competition always drives prices down, such a plan is bound to help reduce costs.

And speaking of competition, another easy fix would be to allow insurance companies to insure people across state lines. With more insurance companies competing in every state, the competition will help keep premiums down.

Finally, if the feds are truly interested in insuring the poor, let it be done in the form of tax credits where there is a means test on the recipients’ incomes. So, an individual making less than, say, $40,000 per year would receive a tax credit for the amount of money he spent on health care. Families could earn a higher dollar amount and still receive the tax credit. This way, the government is only spending money for those who need insurance and can’t afford it. Revamping the entire health care industry to offer coverage to only a few million people is akin to swatting flies with a bazooka.

So there you have it: health care reform in less than 1,000 words – not 2,000 pages. It has all the things a conservative likes: consumer choice, competition, and less government involvement. Unfortunately, these are the same reasons why no liberal would ever support it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Ark Wouldn’t Float: and Other Famous Arguments of Ignorance

Online the other day, an evolutionist poster went into great detail describing large wooden ships of recent history. In the last couple of centuries, wooden ships have been built that measure 300-400’ – sometimes longer. It’s been our experience, however, that wooden ships this large leak terribly and require constant pumping to stay afloat.

One example of such a ship is the Wyoming: a six-masted schooner 450’ long. It was built in 1909 of 6” thick, pine planks and secured with 90 iron cross-bracings. Even so, it had to be pumped regularly to remove water and eventually foundered in heavy seas in 1924. All souls were lost.

The poster’s point was this: if modern ship builders are not able to build large, water-tight wooden ships, then how could Noah have built the Ark? The Ark was the approximate size of the Wyoming but Noah only had a crew of 8 people so could not have constantly manned pumps to remove water. How could any ancient, wooden ship the size of the Ark remain afloat 1 year? This argument is repeated over and over by critics of the Bible. It is certainly among the most often used criticisms of Genesis.

At first hearing, this sounds like a reasonably objection to the Flood account. But we should not overlook the fact that this is a textbook example of an argument from ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam). An argument from ignorance is a fallacious argument that basically states if we don’t know how something was done, then it can’t be – or couldn’t have been – done. In the case of the Ark, the poster is saying, “We can’t build a water-tight, wooden ship of this size so therefore the Ark is impossible.” The flaw is this argument is that it isn’t evidence that the Ark truly couldn’t be built – it’s only evidence that the poster didn’t know how such a boat could be built. It’s evidence of our lack of imagination or understanding. It’s simply an argument of our ignorance.

Often times, these types of arguments aren’t recognized for what they truly are. The person who makes the claim sincerely believes he has exhausted every possible scenario and found there is no possible solution. But a good way to see how ridiculous these types of arguments are, we need only look at some examples from the past:

Since the time Icarus supposedly built wings and escaped Crete, men have longed to fly. Leonardo da Vinci famously sought to build a flying machine and left us many drawings detailing his efforts. But even 400 years later, men still had not figured out how to fly. In 1895, Lord Kelvin, the President of the Royal Society of England, confidently announced, “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Of course, a few short years later, two brothers who owned a bicycle shop in Ohio flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, NC.

Arguments about the Ark are of a similar fashion. We have not devised a practical way to make a 450’ long wooden-boat water-tight. But that alone is simply not evidence it can’t be done. No one who uses this argument can tell you anything about how the Ark was constructed. They cannot, for example, say how the wood was joined. They cannot say how long the planks were. They cannot say how thick the hull was. Though critics don’t know any of these things, they still feel they are able to judge the sea worthiness of the Ark. They judge it according to the only thing they do know – that it would be difficult for us to build one now.

Here are some other classic examples of arguments from ignorance:

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home," Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us," Western Union internal memo, 1876

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility," Lee DeForest, inventor.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will," Albert Einstein, 1932.

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives," Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.

“A wooden ship the size of the Ark cannot be built, manned, and sailed by only 8 people.” The typical claim of a modern skeptic of Genesis.

All of these statements were made from ignorance. In retrospect, most of them were shown to be absurd. The one about the Ark persists only because something like the Ark (a 450’ long wooden barge manned with a crew of only eight people) simply hasn’t been built yet. Perhaps one never will. But not knowing how it was done is not evidence that it can’t be done. It’s not even close.