googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: January 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Same Evidence; Different Theories

I have written before how some evolutionists lie and say that there is no evidence for creation. Perhaps I should be a little nicer and give some people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of saying they lie, some people may not understand the concept of a scientific theory. Usually, evolutionists accuse creationists of not understanding the definition of a scientific theory and in some cases, they may have a point. But when evolutionists say there is no evidence for creation, I suspect it's they who don't understand what a theory is. On the other hand, maybe these people are intentionally conflating their theory with the evidence.

According to Wikipedia, “A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.” In other words, a theory is a scientific model constructed to explain the evidence. The theory isn't the evidence and the evidence isn't the theory. Theories are invented to make sense of the evidence but the evidence itself is neutral.

Suppose you found a fossil. The rock doesn't tell you anything about itself. It's a dumb rock (dumb as in not speaking). It doesn't tell you how old it is. It doesn't tell you how it was made. It doesn't tell you what it is a fossil of. It really doesn't even tell you it's a fossil. It simply exists and we have different ideas on how it came to be. Evolutionists believe fossils were laid down by successive, local floods over billions of years. Creationists believe many or most fossils were created simultaneously only a few thousand years ago during the global flood described in the Bible. We have different theories, but it's the same fossil.

When you ask someone who believes in evolution what evidence is there for his theory, he might say things like the fossils, the rock layers, and even dinosaurs. And what is the evidence for creation? It's things like the fossils, the rock layers, and even dinosaurs. It's the same evidence; we merely have different theories to explain it. We live in the same world, don't we? How can there be different evidence?

Sometimes I'm not sure what evolutionists are thinking. I know they're convinced of their theory. Perhaps they believe their theory explains the evidence so well that they believe the truth of evolution is obvious. In that sense, when they say there is no evidence for creation, they are using a type of hyperbole. It would be like me believing Michael Jordan is so great a basketball player that I might say, “there are no other basketball players.” But I suspect that's not what they mean. I think they intend to be literal. If so, to say there isn't evidence for creation is to demonstrate a gross ignorance of either what evidence is or what a theory it is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Genesis 38: What Happens in Timnah Stays in Timnah

You've probably seen the commercials: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It's a simple concept, really. The idea they're selling is that you can come to a wild town where you don't know anyone, indulge yourself in whatever you desire, and then return home like nothing happened. No one will know what you've done. At least, that's what they want you to think.

I imagine that's exactly how Judah felt in Genesis 38 when he visited Timnah. He was going there to have his sheep sheared. He might have been thinking the same things the Las Vegas commercials are promoting. He's alone in a strange town and probably thinks he can indulge himself with anonymity.

On the road leading to Timnah, Judah encounters a veiled woman. The Bible doesn't say why, but for some reason Judah believes she's a prostitute. The Bible does says she was veiled. Perhaps that was a practice among prostitutes so that they can engage in their trade while remaining anonymous. If so, isn't it curious that Judah would be aware of such a practice? I wonder if he's done this before. Anyway, Judah propositions the woman and agrees to give her a kid (a baby goat) in exchange for sex. The woman agrees but Judah wasn't traveling with a goat. Instead, he leaves some personal items with her as a sort of deposit until he can send the kid later.

Here's where it gets interesting. What Judah did not realize is that the veiled woman was his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, the widow of his late son, Er. Tamar had been waiting on the road leading to Timnah so that she could confront Judah about marrying his youngest son, Shelah. The Bible doesn't say why she agreed to Judah's advances; perhaps it was so that she could later blackmail him into letting her marry his youngest son but Tamar became pregnant as a result of her time with Judah.

Judah went on his merry way believing the elicit encounter was over and done. After all, what happens in Timnar, stays in Timnar, right? Well, some time after returning home, he found out that Tamar was pregnant. He became furious because he knew she was betrothed to his son and demanded that she be punished. Realization set it, though, when she produced the personal items that he had given her as a pledge. In modern vernacular, we might say he was “busted.” Tamar went on to deliver twins – Pharez and Zarah.

It's not hard to imagine the horror Judah felt when he learned that his supposedly discreet fling would have such public and lasting consequences. But I think not even Judah was fully aware just how enduring his shame would be. Not only are we reading about his exploits centuries later, but he and the product of his affair are immortalized in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:3. How sad it must be to be mentioned in the Bible not because of your devout faith, but for your complete lack of morals. What might have been a badge of honor is diminished to a source of embarrassment.

I wonder sometimes if we might act differently if we knew our dirty secrets would all be revealed. The idea that whenever you're in strange a place anything you do will be kept secret is a lie. Perhaps our misdeeds will not be published in the Bible but we should never suppose that they will never be known. We are warned in Numbers 32:23, “and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bacteria That's How Old?

LiveScience just recently reported an amazing find. In Death Valley, scientists have recovered salt crystals that are supposedly 34,000 years old. They were surprised to find bacteria trapped inside and still living. Brian Schubert, who discovered the “ancient” bacteria said, “It was actually a very big surprise to me.” It would be a very big surprise indeed.

One argument often advanced in support of evolution is that there is some supposed harmony or agreement across various lines of evidence. However, it seems to me that the alleged harmony is more often forced upon the data rather than derived from it. I've blogged about this before (here and here). This most recent find could be yet another example.

The bacteria in question had apparently fallen into some type of suspended animation where it was able to survive starvation. But even in such a state, scientists are puzzled over how the bacteria could resist DNA degradation. DNA is a complex molecule and even under the most ideal circumstances, it degrades quickly over time. Scientists once estimated that DNA could not survive more than around 10,000 but recent findings have forced them to push that back even further. Even so, for living organisms to be suspended for 34,000 years with no degradation is a stumper. Professor Tim Lowenstein is quoted in the article as saying, “We're not sure what's going on.”

Here's a possible solution for Prof. Lowenstein: maybe the bacteria really aren't 34,000 years old. Maybe it's only a few thousand years old and it's the estimate of the age of the salt crystals that wrong. Isn't living bacteria in the crystals evidence that the crystals may not have been as old as once considered? Of course, scientists won't open that Pandora's box. The old dates assumed by secular scientists are ensconced and any new evidence that might contradict them is viewed in light of the old-earth assumption. The bacteria living inside the rock example will not be considered as evidence that the rock may not be 34,000 years old. Instead, the date assigned to the rock is ironclad evidence that the bacteria has survived longer than ever thought possible.

Once again the theory is saved. The data continues in perfect harmony. What could be seen as evidence for a young earth is dismissed with the wave of a hand. There's no controversy here, folks. Move along.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some Thoughts About Tucson

There's an old adage that you can judge a man's character by how he acts in a crisis. There's a lot we can learn from watching how liberals and conservatives have acted in the wake of the recent tragedy in Tucson. I've seen conservatives react the same way they always react. In typical fashion, they suspend their political differences and offer sincere prayers and condolences to the victims involved. Oh sure, there might be some nuts on the web who make light of the event but I defy anyone to find a mainstream conservative (on FOX News, talk radio, or anywhere else) who has dared suggest that the victims deserved what they got. Such a person does not exist. It's simply not in our nature.

Likewise, liberals have also reacted in their typical fashion. They immediately blame Republicans. It's a joke really, but every time something bad happens, liberals blame Rush Limbaugh as a matter of first resort. I'm not talking about the fringe left (although one might label all liberals as fringe). I'm talking about run of the mill liberals like the Pima County sheriff, the on-air personalities at CNN or MSNBC, members of Congress, and many other mainstream Democrats. It's sad that they use such tragedies as a political tool. Such a tactic derails conversation from useful things we might have learned from an event like this (like how to identify and help the mentally ill). I also think it cheapens the tragic impact of the events on the victims. Liberals aren't sincere. They're making political hay. How unfortunate. I apologize to the victims for their outrageous behavior.

It's easy to see that liberals aren't sincere. As I listen to them whine about the supposed vitriol coming from conservative media, I'm reminded how they were strangely silent while real, violent speech was being hurled at conservatives (see Michelle Malkin's article). And where is the evidence that this person even visited Sarah Palin's website or attended a Tea Party rally? Liberals have rushed to paint the shooter as a right-wing extremist, whipped into a murderous frenzy by heated, political rhetoric. They've done so without a single shred of evidence. In the same vein as Rahm Emmanuel, they will not let this crisis go to waste without using it to bludgeon their political opponents.

I could write a lot about liberal hypocrisy but much has already be said about it. Their behavior is so predictable that anything I say or write about it isn't new or clever anyway. Let me just say something about conservatives that I haven't heard discussed: I think we react the way we do in part because of our faith. Even if we vehemently disagree with someone, we seldom wish harm on them. What we prefer is to persuade that person to our belief. As a Christian, it is my hope that I would lead my enemies to Christ. The Bible says there is no rejoicing in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). I have no idea of the spiritual condition of those who died in Tucson. I really don't even know their political views since they are far removed from my district. But if they weren't Christians, then their untimely death is made all the more tragic. It is something I would never make light of.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How the Constitution is Like the Bible

The first act of the newly elected Republican House today was to read the entire Constitution on the floor of the House. In the days leading up to the event, I've heard a lot of different opinions about it – both good and bad. I noticed that a lot of the things I was hearing sounded strangely familiar. If I were to make a list of documents that have greatly influenced the world, such a list would include both the Bible and the Constitution. Granted, the Constitution is not in the same league as the Bible but, in certain way, they are similar. Interestingly, conservative attitudes the same toward both, liberal attitudes seem the same toward both, and the conservative and liberal attitudes differ in the same ways.

The first similarity should be obvious: both contain a set of laws. However, I've noticed that many liberals do not view either document as a set of laws but rather a list of guidelines. They don't see them as rules but as “suggestions” and feel that it's ultimately up to us (actually, liberals think it's up to them) to do the right thing.

Along these same lines, many conservatives hold a similar regard for both the Constitution and the Bible. We view the laws as being beyond opinion. They must be absolute and equally applied regardless of our personal feelings. Note carefully that I said “equally applied.” The law shouldn't be used to guarantee equal results. Jesus said, for example, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). That is absolute and applies to everyone. It doesn't matter if we don't think it's fair. Liberals, on the other hand, want to abuse sound doctrine and apply some fuzzy “biblical” principle like, “we're all God's children.” Huh? Where does it say that in the Bible? So they reject actual Biblical truth and misuse the Bible to promote “fairness.”

Liberals take this same approach to the Constitution. For example, the Constitution protects my freedom of speech (“protects” not “grants”). I can use my blog to speak my views about the President, the Congress, the courts, the media, or anything else my heart desires. I expect the government to protect my right to say these things. At the same time, I realize the government must protect the free speech of people who might disagree with me. That is applying the rules equally. Yet once again, liberals invoke some vague, “constitutional” principle of “fairness.” Instead of protecting individual free speech, the feel it's the government job to insure that all speech is balanced and that all views are heard. Just listen to some congress people as they talk about FOX News. And don't forget the Fairness Doctrine. Just as they mistreat the Bible, liberals also misuse the Constitution to promote fairness.

Another similarity between the Bible and the Constitution is that they are both immutable. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and the Bible contains a stern warning that nothing should be added or removed from it (Revelation 22:18-19). The Constitution may not be quite as rigid but it was specifically designed so that amendments were difficult to pass. If we are to live by rules, we must be certain of what the rules are. Here again, liberals differ from conservatives. To liberals, both documents should be seen as “living documents.” Their opinion is that the Bible and the Constitution were written in a different time, in different cultures, for different people. Liberals don't feel like we should be rigidly bound to the rules of the Bible or the Constitution. Since we live in a different society now, they believe we should temper the rules to fit the circumstance. How can we call them “rules” if they are transitory? I think Walter Williams summed up best by asking, “Would you play poker with me if I said the rules of poker were 'living rules'”?

Finally many liberals have been ridiculing the Republicans for reading the Constitution. Liberals don't understand (or pretend to not understand) why conservatives regard the Constitution the way we do. They feel we're slavishly following an archaic document written centuries ago and we need to wake up and join the 21st century. These are the same things the liberals say about the Bible.

And think about this: how often have liberals claimed the Bible is the opium of the people? They say that the people in power would use the Bible to keep the masses in check and to perpetuate their own power. I suppose there was a period in history when a corrupt church used the Bible to hold sway over kings and their citizens. However, at the same time, the church fought to keep the Bible out of the laity's hands. After all, it's safer to tell people what the Bible says rather then letting them read it for themselves. Today, liberals abuse the Constitution to perpetuate their own power and to appease the masses. Their motto is to tax the rich and give things to the poor. They take from the few and give it to the many – all under the supposed authority of the Constitution. Perhaps that's also why they ridiculed the Republicans today. Maybe they don't want people to know what the Constitution really says!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year; Same Old World

As my Sunday School class is concluding its study through Revelation, we recently looked at chapter 21 which deals with the New Jerusalem. It's a happy coincidence that this study should happen to fall on the first Sunday of a new year. This is the time when people are filled with such optimism. They look at the new year like a blank slate. It's an opportunity to start anew. The problem is that it may be a new year but we're still stuck in the same old world.

When people read Revelation, they sometimes look at it with different attitudes. Some people see Revelation (especially chapters 21-22) as God telling us about the end of the world and He wraps it up by saying, “and they live happily ever after.” If that were all God were telling us in Revelation, that would be cool. But there's more to it than that.

Still other people look at Revelation as God satisfying our curiosity. It's not enough that God tells us the Bible has a happy ending, they want to know what happens. It's kind of like dying. A lot of the fear of death revolves around what we're afraid of missing. We want to see our kids grow up, get married, and have their own families. Wouldn't it be great if, before we died, God showed us what happens to our kids and grandkids? That's how some people look at Revelation. We won't be here for the end but God's telling us now what's going to happen. If that was all Revelation was, that would still be cool. But there's more to it than that.

Revelation is the culmination of everything God has promised us. It is God restoring everything that sin has spoiled. In Genesis 1, the Bible tells us that God created a perfect world. God looked at everything He had created and it was all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There were no disasters, floods, plagues, famines, pain, sorrow, disease, or death. It was a paradise. It was the world God intended for us to possess. The bad things we see now weren't part of the creation; they are part of the curse. This is the broken world.

While we live in this world, we make vain attempts to rid ourselves of the bad things. For the last 40 years, the federal government has waged a “war on poverty.” Yet there is still poverty. Prosperity preachers promise health, wealth, and prosperity to people who believe. Yet even they suffer in health, relationships, and scandals. We make New Year resolutions but nothing seems to change. Jesus promised us that while we were in this world, we will have tribulation (John 16:33). God has better things promised for us but not in this broken world.

God has redeemed us to Himself through the blood of His Son. Our salvation is secure. However, we still live in the cursed world and bad things will still continue to happen to us. It is in that new creation, the New Jerusalem, that God restores the paradise. God gives us back the creation He intended us to have. In Revelation 21:5, God says, “Behold, I make all things new.... Write, for these words are true and faithful.” In that city, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or tears. There will be no more death. There will be no more curse.

Right now, many people are making their new year's resolutions. They promise they will exercise, diet, or simply “do better” at whatever. That's all fine and we should always try to do our best. However, we must remember that we can't make our world a paradise. If you're not a Christian, instead of making a new year's resolution, how about turning your life over to Christ?