googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: October 2009

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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee to Vote on Health Care Today

In Obama’s recent address to the joint session of Congress, he stated that Americans currently pay $900 per year to cover those without insurance. To that I say, “So what’s the problem?” If we’re already paying to cover the uninsured, what else needs to be done? Well, apparently Congress thinks we should be paying $1,500 per year.

Yesterday, PriceWaterhouseCoopers released a bombshell report stating that the cost to consumers for the proposed healthcare reform could be substantial. From the Associated Press:

“[The report] projects the legislation would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013, when most of the major provisions in the bill would be in effect. Premiums for a single person would go up by $600 more than would be the case without the legislation…

"The study projected that in 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher."

That’s certainly bad news.

The Democrats were tickled over the recent CBO scoring of the Baucus bill which said the plan would cost $829 billion over the next 10 years. According to the CBO, the plan would actually reduce the deficit over 10 years – the insurance companies, cuts in Medicare, and additional taxes will pay for it. Of course, the bill will still leave 25 million people without insurance. Now Obama said in his address that there are only 30 million without coverage so I guess the Feds are taking over health care and charging consumers billions of dollars to cover 5 million people. That makes a lot of sense.

Today the Senate Finance Committee is going to vote on the Baucus bill. That it will pass is probably a foregone conclusion. It’s expected to fall along party lines with possibly Sen. Snowe, (R) voting with the Democrats. If passed in committee, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid will reconcile the bill already passed by the Senate Health Committee.

I must ask again: Why are we doing this? Who thought it was the job of our government to provide health care to everyone? Please show me this in the Constitution. At least show me where there is a right to health care let alone an entitlement. I also have the right to bear arms but I don’t see Congress setting up a $1 trillion bureaucracy to insure every American has a gun. This is crazy.

In my Sunday School class recently we discussed Matthew 25 where Jesus said to the saints:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (v. 35-36)

There are actually too many verses to cite but it should be the job of the Church to care for the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, take care of the widows, etc. We are supposed to give to God the things of God and to Caesar the things of Caesar (Matthew 22:21). For some reason we’ve decided to go ahead and let Caesar do the things we’re supposed to do in service to God. But then again, Obama is the “Chosen One” and he said, after all, that we are our brother’s keeper. Maybe he really thinks he is our messiah.

We need to let our elected leaders know that we want them to put the brakes on this bill. I can’t afford it, our country can’t afford it, and we don’t want it anyway. It’s bad medicine for our country. You can view each committee member's website (with contact information) below.





Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day

In spite of the popular misconception, very few people in Columbus’s day still believed the world was flat. Columbus did not make his famous voyage to prove the world was round. Rather, it was Columbus who first realized that, because the world was round, one could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe.

The motives of Columbus are much maligned. Admittedly, Columbus understood the commercial benefit of a more direct route to India but in his heart Columbus was more of an evangelist than an explorer. In his book, The Book of Prophecy (as quoted here), Columbus wrote the following:

It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me.

There was no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste.

Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the whole people of God. I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave up.

But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Savior Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy will come to pass. In support of this, I offer the gospel text, Matt. 24:25 [actually it was in Matthew 24:35], in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not his marvelous Word. He affirmed that it was necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by himself and by the prophets.

I said that I would state my reasons: I hold alone to the sacred and Holy Scriptures, and to the interpretations of prophecy given by certain devout persons.

It is possible that those who see this book will accuse me of being unlearned in literature, of being a layman and a sailor. I reply with the words of Matt. 11:25: "Lord, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes."

The Holy Scriptures testifies in the Old Testament by our Redeemer Jesus Christ, that the world must come to an end. The signs of when this must happen are given by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The prophets also predicted many things about it.

Our Redeemer Jesus Christ said that before the end of the world, all things must come to pass that had been written by the prophets.

The prophets wrote in various ways. Isaiah is one of the most praised by Jerome, Augustine, and by the other theologians. They all say that Isaiah was not only a prophet, but an evangelist as well. Isaiah goes into great detail in describing future events and in calling all people to our holy catholic faith. Most of the prophecies of Holy Scripture have been fulfilled already ...

I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolations since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.

For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. All this is what I desired to write down for you in this book.

No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will even though He gives advice.

He lacks nothing that it is in the power of men to give him. Oh what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude.

I said that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled. These are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end. The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time, this is what convinces me.

Columbus believed the return of Christ was imminent and it was his desire to fulfill the Great Commission and take the gospel into all the world. What an admirable goal that is and one worthy of emulation. Though Jesus has tarried another five centuries since Columbus, the Bible warns us we must always be vigilant lest His return should catch us unaware (Matthew 25:1-13).

I think Columbus Day should not be celebrated as the day Columbus discovered the New World. Rather, I think it should be a reminder that we need to continue in the work he started. With today’s technology of television, radio, and the internet, we can reach far more people than Columbus could ever hope to. Let’s look for new ways to take the gospel to the lost.

When Columbus landed on the first island of the New World, he christened it, “San Salvador” which means “Holy Savior.” He knelt on the island and offered a prayer. On this Columbus day, I’ve modified that prayer slightly and offer it now:

O Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, by Thy holy Word Thou hast created the heaven, and the earth, and the sea; blessed and glorified be Thy Name, and praise be Thy Majesty, which hath deigned to use us, Thy humble servants, that Thy holy Name may be proclaimed in [all] of the earth.

Amen!! Happy Columbus Day!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Long Were the Days in Genesis?

There are some Christians out there who believe evolution to be true yet also claim to believe the Bible. Since the Genesis account of creation contradicts evolutionary theories concerning origins, there are various methods these people use to “reconcile” the two. There are various ways people do this but one way is to claim that the “days” of the creation week weren’t ordinary days but represented long periods of time. Each day was an epoch or era in which God performed a different creative act.

To bolster their claim, they point out the obvious fact that the word “day” can mean different things. It does not necessarily mean “24-hours.” To them, it could mean millions or billions of years. Well, it’s true that the word can mean different things, but then again, it can also mean 24-hours. So even though it could mean something other than 24-hours, that alone is not evidence that is does mean something other than 24-hours. As with any word, context should determine its meaning.

Look at the following sentence:

“Back in my grandfather’s day, people would play the banjo every day, but only during the day.”

The word “day” appears in that sentence 3 times – each time with a different meaning. Do you have any trouble determining what each occurrence means? Most second graders can figure it out. I did a quick search on and saw the word day appears in the KJV 2,263 times. Why is it that ordinary people can figure out the meaning of the word everywhere else in the Bible except Genesis?!

An ordinary reading of Genesis 1 immediately suggests that the word day means an ordinary, 24-hour day. If we pause to carefully consider if this is correct, we can find several reasons to believe the ordinary reading is the correct one.

First, I would direct you to Exodus 20:9-11:

“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Here, when the LORD gave the Commandments, He gave us a formula to interpret the creation days. We are to work for six days and not work on the rest on the seventh in the same way that God worked for six days and rested on the seventh. This passage can only make sense if the days are understood to mean ordinary, 24-hour days. If the day meant “millions or billions of years,” then what are we to do? Work 6,000,000 years then rest for 1,000,000 years? The early readers would have obviously understood these to be ordinary days and we should do the same.

Furthermore, remember that Adam was created on the 6th day. So if the 7th day of the creation were millions or billions of years long, then Adam should have been millions or billions of years old. Yet the Genesis 5:5 says that he only lived 930 years.

A second clue that suggests these are ordinary days is because each occurrence of the word “day” in Genesis 1 is modified with the term “evening and morning.” Outside of Genesis 1, “evening and morning” appear with the word “day” three times (see list here). In all three instances, the word can only mean an ordinary day. For example, there is 1 Samuel 17:16, “And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.” How else could this verse possibly be interpreted except to mean 40, ordinary, 24-hour days?

Consider also the reverse: if the days were meant to represent long periods of time, then what would be meant by the term “evening and morning”? Would it be millions of years of darkness followed by millions of years of daylight? That could hardly be true. The presence of the term seems to demand the word “day” to mean an ordinary day to the exclusion of all other possible meanings.

Still a third clue is that the word “day” is also modified by an ordinal number (i.e. first day, second day, etc). This construction occurs many times in the Bible. In the example from 1 Samuel 17:16, Goliath presented himself for “forty days.” From Genesis alone there are many examples of this construction: Genesis 7:17 explains that the Flood was upon the earth for “forty days.” Genesis 7:24 says, “the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.” In Genesis 17:12, God commanded that Jewish boys be circumcised when they are “eight days” old. Genesis 22:4, Abraham lifted his eyes on the “third day” and saw the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac. In fact, in every occurrence, when the word day is modified with a number, it means an ordinary day.

We have seen that when “day” is modified with “evening and morning” it means an ordinary day. We have seen that when “day” is modified with a number it means an ordinary day. In Genesis 1 the word “day” is modified with BOTH the term “evening and morning” AND a number. What else then can it mean but an ordinary day?

Still, well meaning people will point to verses like 2 Peter 3:8 where Peter said, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” and then use that as a type of formula (i.e. One “Lord’s day” equals 1,000 years). There are a few problems with this. First, if it were meant to be a straight conversion, then the creation week would still only be 7,000 years long - not millions or billions of years. Of course, there is the same issue of Adam’s age as described above. 2 Peter 3:8 merely means that God is outside of time. The same verse continues a thousand years as one day. There is also Psalms 90:4 which says a thousand years are like a “watch in the night” in His sight. Verses such as this are merely to demonstrate the timelessness of God. To Him, 1,000 years, a day, an hour, all have no meaning.

Since the days of Genesis 1 are so obviously ordinary days, one must wonder why people seek to find a different meaning. I believe the reason is obvious: they have trusted the finite knowledge of fallible men over the infallible Word of the infinite God. They believe scientists have “proven” the earth is much older than the Bible suggests so they project their old age beliefs onto their understanding of the Bible.

I say instead we should use the clear meaning of the Bible to help us understand His creation. The Bible says that the heavens, earth, and everything in them was made in six days. We need not look for a different meaning to what is perfectly clear.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Five Solas Part 4: Solus Christus

Solus Christus means “Christ alone.” It is sometimes written as Sola Christo, “by Christ alone.” It is the fundamental belief that salvation is found only in, by, and through the Person of Jesus Christ alone. He is the only Mediator between men and God and His finished work on the cross is, by itself, sufficient for the removal of our sins. Salvation is not by Christ plus the saints. Salvation is not by Christ plus any works. Salvation is not by Christ plus some particular church. Christ is not one of many ways to God – He is the only way to God and His death is the only payment for our sins. Let’s look at some scripture verses that confirm this.

The proof text for this doctrine could possibly be John 14:6 where Jesus said, “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” That hardly needs to be expounded upon. Unfortunately, while some people may claim to believe this, they still add additional requisites to salvation. To them, it’s not Christ alone but Christ + something else. In other words – though Jesus may be the way, we need something else in order to have Jesus.

Some people believe the salvation Jesus offers is dispensed through the Church. Perhaps they believe they receive salvation through a priest or some other religious leader.

Paul seems to dispel that idea in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” We see that we don’t have to ask a priest for forgiveness; we call upon Jesus directly (see also Romans 10:13).

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul further dispels any notion that forgiveness can somehow be obtain through the saints or apostles by admonishing those who claim to be followers of him or any other apostle. In 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 he said, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

Peter said concerning Jesus, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

In my second post in this series, I discussed how salvation is obtained through faith alone (Sola Fide) and not through any works. Now we must also consider that our faith must be in Christ’s finished work alone. In the OT laws concerning sacrifice, the blood of animals was offered as a temporary covering for our sins. The shedding of blood is necessary for the remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). But the OT sacrifices were only a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice that was to come – Jesus’ death on the cross.

It is only by His sacrifice that we may receive atonement for our sins. Consider Hebrews 9:11-12, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

Therefore, is not by the rituals of sacrifice of goats and calves but only through the shed blood of Jesus that we obtain redemption. Hebrews 10:10 further says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

That single event of Jesus’ passion on the cross is the one and only sacrifice for sin. His death (and His death only) is sufficient to remove all of my sins: past, present, and future. No other sacrifice is available for forgiveness nor is any other necessary.

Finally, 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that Christ is our only mediator with God. We need no priest, no preacher, no saint, no other person living or dead to mediate for us. Christ stands at the right hand of God making intercession for us (Romans 8:34).

Christ alone is our Savior. Our faith in Him is well placed. There is no other way, no other sacrifice, and no other name through whom we have salvation.

Further reading:

The Five Solas Part 1: Sola Scriptura

The Five Solas Part 2: Sola Fide

The Five Solas Part 3: Sola Gratia

The Five Solas Part 5: Soli Deo Gloria

Some More Comments About Sola Scriptura

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This is Tolerance?

For a group that continuously pleads for “tolerance,” liberals are the most intolerant people you will ever meet. To them, “tolerance” means that we must accept their values as being equal – nay, superior – to our own. Here’s a case in point:

In California, back in 2001, a lesbian couple wanted to have a child via artificial insemination. However, the medical practice where they sought services was owned by two Christian doctors who refused to provide the service because of their religious beliefs. Rather than respecting the doctors’ beliefs, the intolerant lesbians sued saying they were being discriminated against. The case made its way to the CA Supreme Court which ruled against the doctors. I guess the doctors’ right to practice their religion (which is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment) is trumped by some un-enumerated “right” to be gay. The parties have recently reached a settlement ending the case.

Oh, by the way, the couple did get the service performed elsewhere and have had 3 children since filing this lawsuit. So it’s not that they couldn’t get the procedure – they were just mad because they couldn’t get it from these Christian doctors. The plaintiff’s attorney said, “It shows a journey that our whole society is taking together, away from intolerance and towards inclusion.” Give me a break. Why couldn’t the gay couple have been tolerant of the doctors’ religious beliefs?

And if you think I’m exaggerating, let me direct your attention to the Hatch Amendment that was defeated in Senate committee yesterday. By a vote of 13-10, the committee members voted down an amendment to the controversial health care bill that would have strengthened existing conscience laws that allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to provide abortions on religious grounds. If health care reform is passed, Christian doctors, nurses, and hospitals could someday be forced to provide abortions. I guess the “right to an abortion” also trumps our right to exercise our religion.

I’d say this is the start of a slippery slope but I fear we’ve already slid down this slope and now wallow in the mud at the bottom. Imagine these very possible scenarios: You’re a Christian landlord and you don’t want to rent your home to an unmarried or gay couple. Too bad! What about if you’re a Christian business owner and you don’t want to include gay partners on employee benefits? Tough luck! What if the pastor of your church refuses to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple? Where does it end? If the CA Supreme Court ruling holds, our protected right to practice our religion is subservient to someone else’s right to “not be discriminated against.” We will be forced by law to engage in activity that violates our religious beliefs. And it’s all being done in the name of “tolerance.”