googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Meal Toy Ban: Caesar Wants to Help You Raise Your Kids

You know, I was half kidding the other day when I talked about “Happy Meal reform.” I know that whenever liberals talk about running our lives that they're being serious but I was sure no one else on the county board would take this seriously. I guess I should never underestimate megalomania. Here's what has happened; Santa Clara, CA, has officially banned toys and other promotions that come with high-calorie children's meals.

This is one of those defining issues that distinguishes the right from the left. Who has the final word about our personal liberties? It seems that the liberals think it's the government that does. Do I think fast food is usually unhealthy? Yes. Do I think people can become overweight from eating burgers and fries? Yes. But if I want to eat burgers and fries I will do it and if I want to buy my kids burgers and fries I will do it. On the other hand, if I don't want my kids eating burgers and fries I will tell them, “no.” I can decide what's best for my own kids without help from big brother.

What confounds me the post is understanding one what grounds liberals feel justified in micromanaging our lives. In the case of the toy ban, there are a few arguments I've heard in support of the ban. Primarily, toys in meals “induces” kids to eat unhealthy food which can lead to child obesity. Contingent upon this same point is the idea that the toy promotions make it harder for parents to say no when their kids ask for the toys. These may both be true but I still fail to see how that justifies government intervention.

If this ban is allowed to stand, think of the precedent it will set. If we allow the government to ban toys from fast food meals, then why couldn't the government also ban toys from Cracker Jacks boxes? They could also ban toys from cereal boxes. They could even ban cartoon characters from cereal boxes. Imagine the argument that the Trix Rabbit makes kids want to eat sugary cereal. What's the difference? They could ban the cartoon commercials from TY because it induces kids to want to eat sugary cereal which could lead to obesity. The cartoon character also makes it harder for parents to say, “no.”

Why stop at child obesity? Just ban all advertising of anything that's not healthy. Or even better, just ban the sugary cereal. Ban candy bars, cup cakes, and soft drinks while you're at it and throw in a ban on things like bacon and eggs for good measure. I know that New York is already trying to ban the use of salt in restaurants because it's unhealthy. If we say that the government is allowed to run our lives in one area, then we open the door for the government to run our lives in any area.

Another thought struck me too is the hypocrisy of liberals. Haven't we, as concerned parents, asked for cleaner TV programs? Haven't we wanted more family friendly movies and music albums? I believe Desperate Housewives being broadcast into my home is more detrimental to my kids than happy meal toys but in that case liberals say it's up to me to turn off the TV. Indeed I would have to turn off the TV because this stuff is on nearly every network. Why do liberals trust me to monitor my kids' TV viewing 24/7 but don't trust me to say no to cheeseburgers? If they really want to help, do something about the filth being broadcast into my home and not the greasy food I have to take my kids to a restaurant to eat.

I can't say I always have made the best decisions as a parent but I know that I – and not the government – have the best intentions for my own children. The Bible says we are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Raising our children is clearly the God ordain responsibility of the parent. Thank you, Caesar, for offering to help but I think I can handle it without you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Has Noah's Ark Been Found?

There's quite a buzz on the net after a group of Turkish and Chinese explorers have claimed to have found Noah's Ark (read one story online here). Maybe I shouldn't say they have claimed to have found it; one team member described it this way:

"We are not saying that we are 100 percent certain that what we found is Noah's Ark. No one has ever seen the ark, no one knows what it looks like. We are only 99 percent certain that it is Noah's Ark based on historical accounts, including the Bible and local beliefs of the people in the area, as well as carbon dating."

Could they really have found the Ark? Let me start by saying that I firmly believe there was a real Ark as described in Genesis. I also believe there was a world-wide deluge and that only those eight people who were on the Ark survived. However, given the sparse facts that we have from the Bible, I would think it to be highly unlikely that the Ark could ever be found today.

One reason why I doubt the Ark could be found is that we don't know precisely where to look for it. For some reason, people have the impression the Ark is on Mt. Ararat. The Bible doesn't say this specifically. Rather, Genesis 8:4 says, “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat” (KJV). This clearly refers to a region and not necessarily a specific mountain. Moreover, the modern mountain identified as “Mt. Ararat” did not receive it's modern name until around 1200 AD. The Hebrew word rendered as “Ararat” is possibly referring to an ancient kingdom named, Urartu, a mountainous region north of Mesopotamia.

Besides not knowing exactly where to look for the Ark, we must consider the very real possibility that the Ark simply did not survive long after fulfilling its mission. Wooden structures of any sort tend to rot away rather quickly except under very special conditions. In the case of the Ark, it may not have even had the opportunity to rot. Mature trees would have been destroyed by the Flood and the Ark would have been an abundant source of pre-cut lumber that Noah and his family could use for building. It is inconceivable that Noah would have simply abandoned all that timber but most likely would have begun dismantling the Ark almost immediately.

There's also a certain “crying wolf” feel to the recent announcement. As a young boy, I recall hearing about Ark sightings 30 years ago but I'm sure they go back much further. I've read that the Russian Duchess, Anastasia, owned a cross allegedly carved from the wood of the Ark. The Ark has been “found” so many times already that it's hard to take serious still another claim that it has been found.

I admit I would be thrilled if the Ark were someday truly discovered. It's one of those stories we would love to be true. My faith isn't contingent on finding the Ark though. It's not like I'm waiting for such a find to “prove” the Bible is true. Stories like this arouse a certain “what if” spirit in me but unless someone presents some new and compelling evidence, I will continue to remain skeptical.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reform Madness

Even before the ink is dry on “health care reform,” liberal Democrats are ready to tackle “financial service reform.” Now, I know we've had a sudden spike in foreclosures and several banks were in a bind, but before a year ago, I really had no idea there was a financial service crisis going on in America. I'm someone who has worked in banking for 15 years so you would think I would have noticed something like that. I guess it's something like the “health care crisis” Obama recently delivered us from; it's a rhetorical crisis – not a real one.

Do I think there are some problems on Wall Street? Yes. “Big” Wall Street firms are going out of business and people are being laid off. Do I think the government needs to do something about it? Yes! The government needs to get its grubby hands out of the private sector and let the market fend for itself. What do they think “free market” means? Hopefully the recent cloture vote on financial reform demonstrates that Republicans are still genuinely concerned with holding back the tide of government intrusion into private business. I'd hate to see them throw away their political momentum for the sake of “bipartisanship.”

Have you noticed, though, how liberals first course of action is “reform”? Everything is a “crisis” and therefore needs immediate government intervention. After the recent coal mining accident in WV cost the lives of 29 miners, Obama has made a “concrete commitment to mine safety reform.” Obviously this is another crisis that Rahm Emanuel will not let got to waste. What a fantastic opportunity for Dems to tighten the screws on “big” coal companies.

Recently, a liberal county supervisor in CA saw the need for Happy Meal reform. He actually wants to ban toys from McDonald's Happy Meals (actually all toys given away with fast food) because he believes they induce children to eat the unhealth burgers. Hmmm, such a law could also lead to “cereal reform” because I recall when I was young getting toys inside the box of my sugary cereal.

Of course we have constantly heard about “education reform” which are code words for spending billions of more dollars on the failing public school system. Education reform would never include something like vouchers that would allow parents to choose private schools for their kids. AZ has also sparked recent debate about “immigration reform.” Again, whenever a liberal says “immigration reform” he means “amnesty for illegal aliens.” Obama recently said we need immigration reform but that Arizona's tough new stance “threaten[s] to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” “Fairness,” is a basic notion Americans cherish? If someone asked me to name some cherished American values, I probably say things like patriotism, liberty, freedom, and individual rights. I wouldn't immediately think of “fairness” - certainly not “fairness” in the liberal understanding of the word.

Anymore, “reform” means to impose. The feds want more control over our lives and they gain control through reform: reform of our businesses, reform of our health care, reform of everything we do - right down to the very food we eat. Even immigration reform is a power grab to turn illegal aliens into Democrat voters. Tell me the truth, do you think that in the current political climate, something like “tax reform” would mean we would pay less taxes?

The only reform we really need is government reform. Perhaps that's what we'll get starting in November.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Does the Bible Say the Earth is Flat?

In recent posts, I've talked about how critics of the Bible read obvious, literary expressions as literal so that they may make a straw man caricature of the Bible. Because these are usually poetic references and were never intended to be literal, it is groundless to suggest they demonstrate how the Bible is errant. However, there are a few passages that aren't poetic and some people claim these show that the Bible teaches the earth is flat.

There are two passages most often cited. The first occurs in Daniel 4:9-11:

“O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:”

In this passage, Nebuchadnezzar is describing a dream he had to Daniel. In the dream, he saw a tree that was so tall that someone could see all the earth from the top. Since the earth is a sphere, there is no way to see the whole earth at once no matter how tall the tree is. Even from outer space, we could only see the half of the earth which faced us. The only way to see the entire earth at once would be if the earth were flat so does this passage suggest a flat earth? Certainly not!

The fatal flaw in this argument is that it is simply a record of Nebuchadnezzar speaking and the Bible doesn't necessarily endorse what he is saying. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar truly believed the world is flat. So what? That doesn't mean the world is flat. Did you notice in verse 9 how his comment also suggested there are other gods? Does this mean that Bible teaches there are other gods? Of course it doesn't. So in the same passage in which Nebuchadnezzar makes one incorrect statement (that there are other gods), he also made another incorrect statement (that the world is flat). Neither of these are teachings of the Bible.

Besides that, however, there is a certain ambiguity in the word “earth.” It is not unusual to use the words “earth” or “world” to mean only the inhabitants of the earth or even a limited part of the earth. In Luke 2:1, Caesar decreed, “that all the world should be taxed.” Certainly doesn't mean the literal earth would pay taxes so obviously this refers to the people in the earth. More over, the Romans were aware there were other nations not under Roman rule that would not have been included in the decree so the word “world” in Luke is understood to mean only the vast Roman empire. Likewise, Nebuchadnezzar may have only meant one could see from the tree the entire, vast kingdom of Babylon.

The other event used by critics is the account of Jesus being tempted by the Devil. This is recorded in both Matthew 4 and Luke 4. Luke 4:5 is perhaps the more descriptive: “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”

A very careful reading of the passage is called for here. Compare the passage in Luke to the passage in Daniel. Concerning the tree, Nebuchadnezzar said, “the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.” But of the mountain, Luke says the Devil, “shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” Do you see the difference? Like the tree in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, here the gospels mention a mountain seemingly so tall that one can see all the kingdoms of the earth from the top but the passage doesn't really say that, does it? It says that while on a mountain, the Devil “showed” Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

There was obviously something supernatural occurring. Notice how Jesus was at one moment in the wilderness (Luke 4:1), the next moment on a high mountain (Luke 4:5), and the next moment on the pinnacle of the temple (Luke 4:9). I believe the Devil and Jesus traveled supernaturally to some high mountain and against the back drop of such a spectacular view, the Devil supernaturally flashed images of the kingdoms of the world. Indeed, what else could it be? Surely the first century gospel writers would have noticed there are no especially high mountains in Jerusalem. Also, if anyone has ever been on a tall mountain, he would know you can't really see anything except miles of expanse. It's impossible to make out individual buildings. Why would the gospel writers have included such details?

Finally, consider how neither of these passages overtly say the world is flat. Critics point to them only because they could be viewed in a way that suggests the world is flat. I believe the plain reading of the words suggests otherwise.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day Again

Well, another “Earth Day” is upon us. The mindset of liberal environmentalists is something completely alien to me. Maybe I'm just suspicious of their motives. I can never be sure if environmentalists are acting out of genuine concern for the planet or if ordinary liberals are exploiting environmentalist concerns to advance their political agenda. Perhaps the truth is that the liberals don't really know either.

One fundamental tenet of liberal ideology is that there is no personal god. To them, “god” is only a warm fuzzy feeling that one can experience any number of ways. If someone gets that warm fuzzy feeling in church, that's fine but if they can get the same feelings at home then church is optional. This is usually expressed in some ambiguous attitude of tolerance; “I might believe this but if you believe something else that's fine because all beliefs are equal.” There are also those people who get the warm fuzzy feeling about nature. I don't think they consciously “worship” nature (though some do) but rather experience the same satisfaction from their belief about nature that liberal theists experience from their belief in their impersonal god.

I guess they don't realize how jealous their god is. It's not enough that they become one with nature, they want everyone else to treat nature with the same reverence that they do. To many of them, it's blasphemy to want to cut down a tree to build a house or to clear rain forests to make room for cattle. Nature is like some holy relic that must remain undefiled by human hands. To that end, they have no problem forcing their “religious” views on the rest of us. Nothing is too extreme if they do it “to save the planet.”

Do you think I'm going too far? I assure you I'm not. Consider the very recent example of the delta smelt. The San Joaquin Valley is a dust bowl but we will not pump more water there because the Natural Resources Defense Council successfully sued to protect a fish that's less than bite size. This fish is endangered so we don't even eat them but we protect them only for the sake of preserving them to look at.

The liberal elites have gotten in on the act too. President Obama has spoken often about his “green jobs” agenda. Oil and coal are bad but wind and sun are good. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't we get oil and coal out of the ground? Wouldn't that make them part of nature too? I guess the problem is that oil and coal are produced by “big” oil and coal companies and anything with a “big” in front of it is bad. They need to be replaced with solar energy produced by some small company that doesn't actually employee anyone. The simple fact of the matter is that folks like Gore and Obama are using the environment as a tool for social engineering. Gore doesn't really give a whit about the planet or else he'd stop traveling in his private jet and limo to give speeches on how everyone else needs to use mass transit. Do you remember also how Obama defended his stimulus package? He said it would help the economy by creating green jobs. It doesn't matter what the policy is, liberals will bolster it by saying it's good for the planet.

On this Earth Day, I would remind people that God made this planet for us; He didn't make us for the planet. He commanded us to have dominion over the earth and to subdue it (Genesis 1:28). The earth is bountiful and plentiful. God has really blessed us with so many resources and we should feel free to use them. To me, environmentalists are like that slothful servant in Matthew 25:24-30. He was given stewardship over a talent but rather than put the talent to work, he buried it. When his master returned, he told him (I'm paraphrasing here), “Here's your talent, just like you gave it to me.” Environmentalists do the same thing; God gave us the earth to use for His glory and they want to preserve it untouched.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is God a Deceiver?

It's a strange argument but I hear it often – if the world is only 6,000 years old then God created false clues in order to make the world look much older. In other words, to believe in a literal creation is to believe God is a deceiver! Imagine this hypothetical conversation:

GOD: “Adam, do you see all these trees? I just made them two days ago.”
ADAM: “But, Lord, trees like this take years to grow. So when you said, 'two days' I know you meant many years because you are not a deceiver.”

Isn't that bizarre? Yet people use this argument every day. One example I hear is concerning radiometric isotopes. Scientists measure the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred in a rock sample and then extrapolate it backward to estimate how old the sample is. Such a method is riddled with assumptions but when their estimated age conflicts with our understanding of Scripture, it's the Scripture that they suspect is wrong. Then these people have the nerve to say that the radiometric dating must be true because God would not have planted false evidence to make the rock look older. Well, wouldn't that make His revealed word “false evidence”? If God created the universe over billions of years, then told us He made it in six days, then really He would be a deceiver!

Imagine if someone found a note from his mother that said, “I went to the store. I'll be back in an hour.” Being a curious person, he wanted to know WHEN she wrote the note. He rubs the ink to see if it smudges. He sees a cup of water on the counter and notices that it's room temperature. He asks himself what she might have meant by “hour.” He finally concludes that she actually wrote the note yesterday and so has already been to the store and back. Suddenly, his mother comes in and surprises him.

He asks, “Where have you been?”
She answers, “To the store. Didn't you see my note?”
He replies, “Yes but it looked to me as if you had written that yesterday. Why were you trying to deceive me?”

A belief in an old earth is as strange as the imaginary story above. Why would someone completely ignore the plain words of Someone he claims to trust, seek an answer that completely contradicts the truth, and then act as though the Author who told him the truth plainly is somehow trying to deceive us?

If someone claims to believe the Bible, he should use his understanding of Scripture as the starting point when considering the evidence. Imagine this final scenario:

A man returns home and finds a note from his mother that says, “It's one o'clock and I had to step out. I'll be back in 15 minutes. I baked a pie but be careful because it's still hot!” It's only 10 minutes after one now and he touches the pie and notices it's not hot; in fact it's cooled off. What does this mean? There are at least 3 possible explanations:

> His mother said the pie was hot but didn't really mean it.
> His mother said it was one o'clock but didn't really mean it.
> His mother told the truth and something has made the pie cool off quickly.

Now, some people might start with the assumption that their mothers are lying but I trust my mother more than that. Likewise, I will trust the word of God. When I look at the world, I will start with the conclusion that things are as God said they are and I will use that to help me understand what I find. In the case of distant starlight, for example, I would ask, “How did the light from stars millions of light years away reach the earth in only 6,000 years?” I would not ask, “Why does the Bible suggest the world is only 6,000 years old when we know light from stars took millions of years to reach us.”

Indeed, God is not a liar. When faced with a dilemma where we must choose between the conclusions of men and the plain reading of God's word, we should trust God every time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Unwed Adoption in Arkansas: The Courts v. the People

In the November, 2008, election, a citizen-initiated state statute was on the ballot in Arkansas. Proposition 1 banned unmarried couples from adopting or providing foster care to minors. The proposition passed by a comfortable margin: 57-43. Obviously there are many reasons why such a law would be popular. One immediate consequence would be that gay and lesbian couples would be unable to adopt since same sex marriage is not legal in Arkansas. There's also a greater risk of separation if the adoptive parents aren't married. Still too, there are people who just feel that being in a home with married parents provides the best atmosphere and greatest opportunity for children. Whatever the reasons for its popularity, the measure was voted on and passed.

Today, the law was overturned by one man, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza, who said in his ruling that that people in "non-marital relationships" are forced to choose between becoming a parent and sustaining that relationship. Excuse, me, Judge Piazza, couldn't the couple just get married? Now, I know that I'm not a lawyer but shouldn't there be a little more substance to a judge's opinion? I see how such a law presents a dilemma for unmarried couples but so what? Is there some absolute right to adopt or be a foster parent?

Suppose for a moment that a person owned a film studio that made porn flicks. Such a profession would likely disqualify him from being able to adopt, right? In that case a similar dilemma would exist: he would have to choose between being a parent or continuing in his profession. How unfair is that?! You see, this smut peddler might retain his most basic, unalienable rights (free speech, freedom of religion, etc), but no one would argue he has an unalienable right to adopt. This might be an extreme example but it illustrates a simple point. In such a situation, the state retains the right to decide what is in the best interest of the child over the smut peddler's supposed right to adopt. In the case of unwed couples, the people of the state have decided that it is not in the best interest of children to allow them to adopt. For whatever the reason, that was the law.

What was it that I've heard from Democrats after every election since Bush/Gore: Republicans seek to disenfranchise voters? Cases like this shine a spotlight on the dangers of political activism. One man in a black robe went beyond his job of interpreting the law and instead set aside the law. He has chosen to substitute his own liberal preference in place of the will of the people. Courts are supposed to be our redress; judges like this make the courts our tyrants. Why even bother with an election? Perhaps we should stop voting and just let the judges decide what's best for us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's April 15th and the Feds want to know where your taxes are!

It's a beautiful day here in Louisville: spring is in full bloom, it's unseasonably warm (thank you global warming), and there's not a cloud in sight. Nevertheless, a shadow hangs over this day every year; it is the tax filing deadline. After midnight, any of you hardworking Americans who have not filed your taxes will suddenly become criminals.

Most people know what today is and Tea Parties have been scheduled all over the country to protest the out of control spending. However, a few people aren't aware what happened just a few days ago: April 9th was “Tax Freedom” day this year. Every penny Americans earned between January 1st and April 9th is what is needed to pay our federal, state, and local tax liability. It's kind of mind boggling when you think about it: if you had to pay your taxes first, only now would you get to start enjoying your paycheck.

Not so fast!

There's also this part of the federal budget called the deficit. You see, even though the government has theoretically collected all it's taxes, it's continuing to spend money. If you factor in the cost of the deficit, you would have to work until May 17th – another 38 days – to pay for Congress's runaway spending. According to the Tax Foundation, if you factor in the deficit, May 17th is the second latest Tax Freedom day since WWII. “When was the longest,” you might ask? That would be 2009, the first year of the Obama Presidency!

It's gone far enough. For the last two years, government spending has ballooned and it cannot continue. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children.” I guess that also means it would be an evil man who would leave his grandchildren a crippling national debt.

I would ask when we're going to wake up; hopefully, some people already have. Now go out, file your taxes, then call your congressman to protest!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Who is reading the Bible “literally”?

I sometimes wonder if some critics of the Bible are intentionally being dishonest or if they are genuinely uninformed. Often times, criticism of the Bible is so weak that I'm sure it cannot be sincere. I came across just such an example online recently.

This person was posting on FaceBook under what I assume is his real name so I won't mention it here. He claimed to have been raised in a Christian home but later rejected the faith because “logic no longer allowed [him] to consider the bible to be more than a fiction.” He listed a few of his concerns, namely that he felt the Bible taught that the Earth is flat, that it sits on top of four columns, and it does not move. The person who posted this did not give any scripture references but I suspect he is referring to the following:

Psalm 104:5, “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. ” (NIV)
1 Samuel 2:8, “...for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them. ” (KJV)

There is no verse in the Bible that states the world is flat (even figuratively). However, another poster in the same discussion offered this curious reference:

Isaiah 40:22, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:”

I'm not sure how that equates to the earth being flat; perhaps there is some implied notion that He sees everything from such a vantage point thus an implication the world is flat? It's a stretch but I'll include it for the sake of argument.

As a young-earth creationist, I'm often accused that I'm wrong to read the Bible “literally.” I've written before (here) that I don't read it “literally” but rather understand the ordinary meaning of the words. Anyone who reads the above passages should be able to identify them for what they are. This person online claims to have rejected the Bible and Christianity because he couldn't believe verses like these! Incredible! Certainly this person has rejected Christ because of his own sin nature and not because he could not trust the Bible.

It hardly needs to be demonstrated how the above statements are not literal but the question could be raised: how can we tell which parts of the Bible are literal and which are not? Usually, literary devices are immediately apparent wherever they are used. If a single verse is ambiguous, then examine the entire context. Consider Isaiah 40:22 above. Do you notice the use of the word, “as”? The inhabitants are “as” grasshoppers; the heavens are stretched out “as” a curtain. The words “like” and “as” are key words frequently used to denote simile so we can see that the verse is not intended to be literal.

Also, one characteristic of Hebrew poetry is that certain words or phrases are repeated. In Isaiah, the heavens are stretched like a curtain and spread like a tent. Do you see the repetition? We can see here, then, that we are also dealing with a poetic passage. So the Lord sitting upon the circle of the earth is a metaphor. The Lord is not literally sitting upon the earth. It's a poetic reference to the fact that the Lord reigns over the earth and the heavens.

Of course, there are people at the other extreme who see every word in the Bible figuratively. For example, some Christians view much of the book of Genesis as poetry, allegory, or metaphor. I will talk about the literary genre of Genesis in a future post and conclude the point at hand.

The idea that the Bible if rife with errors stems in part from a tortured understanding that every word in the Bible is meant to be “literal.” It's a straw man of our understanding of the Bible. Critics use this to try to paint Christians into a corner: does the earth rest on pillars? No? Then the Bible must not be “literal.”

It's a false dichotomy. We are not forced to decide between all literal or all figurative. How's this for a dichotomy: anyone who presents this as an argument is either being disingenuous or cannot read.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Review of Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth

Over the last decade or more, I've spent more than a few hours discussing evolution and creation. When speaking to atheists, the discussion usually revolves around science. It's a different story, though, when debating Christian evolutionists. I've heard any number of ways these folks have “reconciled” their belief in evolution with Genesis. It can be frustrating to converse with someone who claims to believe the Bible but still insists it doesn't mean what it plainly says. They usually retreat to claims that Genesis is “allegory,” "poetry," “metaphor,” or even “myth” intended and understood to convey a “spiritual truth” rather that a literal one.

I refer you to Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth which puts to bed any compromise of Genesis – whether it be the gap theory, the framework hypothesis, the day-age theory, etc. It is a thorough treatment of the weaknesses in the most common areas of compromise and lays a Biblical foundation to address any novel idea you might encounter. In a real sense, this book is unlike any other book in the creation apologetic genre as it defends a young earth from a purely Scriptural perspective. It's more a combination of a history book and Bible commentary. The book is edited by Drs. Terry Mortenson and Thane Ury who both contribute along with 10 other authors to approach the issue from a variety of angles including the views of the church fathers, the genre of Genesis, the accuracy of genealogies, the views of Jesus and the apostles, and theodicy.

Be warned that this is not a light read. One complaint I sometimes have about certain books on creation (at least on some of the older books) is that they seem to lack gravitas. This book pushes the other extreme. I wouldn't say it is overly scholarly but it might be over the head of someone who is normally a casual reader. There is much to learn from this book but it will take a greater investment of time and energy than what some people usually invest.

When debating any proponent of a non-literal Genesis, this is an invaluable tool. It's thorough, convincing, and well documented. It is a “must have” for anyone interested in hearing what the Bible really says about the subject.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Intolerance Toward Christians

I've said before that if there is going to be a supposed “separation of church and state,” it must go both ways (here). Some folks obviously don't get it. I know they don't want students being taught creation in public schools. OK, I'm fine with that as long as teachers understand that neither should they be allowed to make comments on the students' beliefs. Alas, it doesn't work that way.

A recent example of their glaring double standard is unfolding in Knoxville, TN. The schools there are using a science book called, Asking About Life. Page 319 of the book describes creationism as, “the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days.” Do you see how that might be offensive?

Never mind that I disagree with the truthfulness of the above statement, it's wrong on a number of levels. First, if this is supposed to be a book about science, why does it even discuss beliefs? Just the title of the book, “Asking About Life” suggests that the goal of the book goes beyond merely discussing science. Some evolutionary apologists have made comments like, “science tells how and religion tells why.” The title of this book seems to contradict that.

Beyond all this, however, there is still the nagging problem of the separation of church and state. If liberals object to a public school teacher endorsing creationism under the umbrella that it would endorse a religious belief, then why are they not equally concerned about using a text book that specifically denounces a religious belief? I ask rhetorically, of course, because we already know why: when liberals invoke separation of church and state they mean to say they want to be free from religion.

Liberals are blind to their own hypocrisy. They are hypersensitive to even the most subtle religious observance – such as a teacher wearing a cross – yet they see nothing wrong with calling a student's religious belief a “myth.” And let's be clear, they specifically see nothing wrong with attacking a Christian student's belief. Had this book made an insensitive comment about a Muslim belief, the book's editor would likely have already been prosecuted for a hate crime.

Kurt Zimmermann, a father in the Knoxville school district, has asked that book be banned due to its bias against Christians. Knoxville County School superintendent, Jim McIntyre, disagrees and refused to remove the book from use. The school review committee agreed with McIntyre though a few did think some of the material in the book was “questionable.” Even so, they agreed to here an appeal from Zimmermann on May 7.

The issue should be cut and dry. Public school teachers, as representatives of the state, are supposed to remain neutral toward religion. They should not endorse a particular religious belief and neither should they condemn one. You would think a school superintendent or the members of the review committee would understand such a simple concept. What part of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is ambiguous? Perhaps I'm expecting too much from these school board members; maybe they too are victims of public school indoctrination!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One Example of How Evolution is Junk Science

Evolutionists are quick to point out that their theory is silent on issues of morality. When they do this, they are usually trying to quell the fears of Christians who are unsure if they should embrace a theory that seems antithetical to Christianity. To evolutionists, science is objective and deals only with evidence, not conscience. I don't know if they fail to understand or simply refuse to admit it (though I suspect it's the latter), but it's impossible to be amoral. A belief in evolutionary theory certainly has consequences concerning issues of morality.

Recently, I came across a sort of UK version of Dear Abby named, Carole Jahme (Dear Carole). Jahme has a master's degree in evolutionary psychology (I didn't know there was such a thing). People write to her asking advice and she gives them her opinion from an evolutionary perspective.

In one recent column, a woman could not decide which of the two men in her life she should choose to father her children. Jahme gave this thoughtful advice: “Some Darwinists might say your optimal strategy would be to pair-bond with the older male but surreptitiously allow the younger, sexy male to fertilise you.” In other words, “marry the old guy and cheat with the young guy.” How sweet.

In my last blog post, I discussed some problems with theistic evolution. Here is yet another reason why Christianity and evolution do not blend well. There is a real danger in advice like this. People are not just being told they are animals, they are being told they should act like animals. Is it any wonder then that some people do?

“Evolutionary psychology” is junk science. It's a false premise for studying human behavior. We are not the cousins of chimps or bonobos. If we study the behavior of chimps in order to gain insight in to human behavior, our conclusions will necessarily be false. God created man in His own image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). We are not like the animals (Genesis 2:20-23). If we want to know how to behave, we need to look to the One whom we should model. We should not emulate animals.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Do the Heavens Declare His Glory?

Theistic evolutionists are a strange breed. On the one hand, these people claim to believe God and the Bible. On the other hand, they hold the same beliefs about our origins as the most devout atheist. Evolutionists believe that life began on earth some 4 billion years ago; over countless generations, species of animals have changed; and one species of animal happens to be humans. Theistic evolutionists believe pretty much the same thing except they insert the qualifier, “God did it.” Perhaps the god of theistic evolution (TE) is that elusive “god of the gaps” I keep hearing about. He must be an extremely impotent god who is virtually indistinguishable from dumb luck.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” When the atheist looks at the creation, what does he see? He only sees matter being acted upon by natural forces. The universe may seem big to him, but it does not seem sublime. Even life, in all of its complexity, is only matter being acted upon by natural processes. Over time, atoms became molecules, which became self-replicating molecules, which became a living organism, which became multicellular organisms, which became marine animals, which became birds, bugs, and beasts. Humans are merely another species of animals that happen to have more highly evolved intelligence; other than that, they are rather mundane. Atheists see no divine fingerprint anywhere.

The God of Genesis spoke the earth, sun, and moon into existence (Genesis 1). He is the One who calls the stars by name (Psalm 147:4). Yet rather than believe in the God who is Lord over His creation, TE Christians believe in a god who has hidden himself so well that he isn't seen in his creation. He is merely a wink and a nod between the atheist and the TE Christian, brothers in evolution. It seems that blind faith in science makes strange bedfellows.

To Christian evolutionists I would ask, “where is the glory of the god of TE?” Is God revealed in nature or isn't He? If you think evolution is how God created, then you have wed yourself to a theory which, at its very core, denies there is a god who guides it. Of course, the TE Christian does not see it this way. In addition to compromising on the interpretation of Scripture, Christian evolutionists must also compromise on their view of evolution. While the atheist believes evolution is blind and meandering, the Christian sees evolution as meandering yet guided. Mutations aren't “random” but are teleological.

Besides believing in a hidden god, TE Christians have another problem. Evolution is also a very cruel process. Renown atheist, Richard Dawkins, has this view of nature:
“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives whimpering with fear, others are slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.”
As a creationist, I understand perfectly why nature seems so cruel. God created a perfect world but, because of sin, He has cursed the world with death. Death is an intruder into the creation, not the device of creation. The person who suggests that God used evolution to create, must somehow reconcile this very cruel process with a very good God.

I am puzzled how TE Christians understand Scripture. They already must reject Genesis. It seems they also must reject Psalm 19:1. Do the heavens declare the glory of God or not? The god of evolution is certainly not seen in his creation. Worse yet, where he does reveal himself, it is as a tyrant who is more deserving of our loathing than our worship. Why do people reject the God of Genesis for the sake of this lesser god? Romans 1:20-25 comes to mind:
“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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The End of the Beginning

Happy Easter

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen!

Luke 24:1-6