googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: January 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Science Nazis: Part Deux

I ordinarily try to keep my posts to about two typed pages. You might think that sounds easy because whenever I write on a topic, I seldom have trouble deciding what to say about it. Instead, I usually have trouble deciding what to leave out. The consequence of this is that no matter how well I may (or may not) have made a point, I'm usually unsatisfied with the end product. There's always more I wished I'd said. I had not intended to make this a two part post but it seems I've stirred up little controversy of my own with my first post. So, I'm going to add a few more comments that I could have said in my first post.

For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts about global warming. First, I'm a little puzzled why some scientists are so alarmed about a slight increase in the average global temperature over the last century or so. Don't most of these people also believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old? If that were true, then a century or two isn't a long enough period of time to be statistically significant. It's less than blip. Such a small sample is not sufficient to establish a trend but even assuming we can identify a trend how confident should we be in the measurements anyway? 100 years ago we had no satellites, no weather stations in Antarctica, or a fraction of the technology available to us now. Bill Clinton once said the 90's was the warmest decade of the last 500 years. Really? So when Columbus arrived in North America in 1492, did he ask the natives to begin recording temperature changes? I'm sure Captain Cook got the Aborigines busy in Australia but who was measuring the temperature at the poles about this time? Any warming trend seen in our measurements could be nothing more than more accurate measurements.

Secondly, I would like to point out that most people agree there was at least one ice age in the past. Do global warming alarmists lament the disappearance of glaciers from the lower 48 states? Certainly that warming trend wasn't the result of human activity – or did the Neanderthal equivalent of Al Gore run around telling other people to stop cooking their food because the fires were melting the ice? If there have been periods of cooling and warming in the past, why are some people surprised to see it happening now (assuming that it is happening)?

And speaking of Al Gore, this brings me to my final point: Al Gore once said that the earth was sick – “it has a fever”. Doesn't such a statement presuppose that we know what the ideal temperature of the earth should be. Well, what is it? Was the earth at its ideal temperature 100 or so years ago before the supposed trend began? Is it what the temperature is right now? Was the earth at its ideal temperature at the peak of the last ice age? Maybe the earth is heading toward the temperature it is “supposed” to be. And, of course, if warming and cooling is the usual condition of the earth over its (alleged) billions of years history, then our herculean efforts to reverse the current warming trend is for naught. Our efforts would be better spent preparing for life in a warmer world.

By the way, maybe a warmer world wouldn't be so bad. I hear people talking about “greenhouse gases” but do they understand that plants grow like crazy in greenhouses? Perhaps we could grow more food all year around. Maybe a more temperate climate would help us turn uninhabitable deserts into lush gardens. Maybe the polar caps could be turned into farm land.

Of course, many people disagree with me. I know because they've told me so; rather, I've been called, “a stupid, ignorant, lying, science-hater.” But tell me the truth: in spite of our disagreements, am I really being unreasonable by just asking these questions or having these doubts? I've asked these questions before and so have many others and I've not heard satisfactory answers. In many cases, I've not been given any answer. So is there something wrong with doubting? Even more than that, what is wrong with disagreeing?

This then, brings me back to the point of my post – the regime of the science Nazis. You see, to them, discussion is only allowed in the scientific community. Lay people (i.e. the masses) must comply with scientific consensus. You cannot question the establishment. You cannot hold personal beliefs contradictory to their agenda.

Ask yourself this: why exactly have they cast their lot so strongly one-sided in this debate? This isn't a matter of “religion in schools,” which is a criticism that has been raised against creationism. People who are suspect of climate change are objecting to the conclusions of some scientists but they're not objecting for religious reasons. There are things they're not convinced about. Some people don't believe there's a warming trend, or that it's man-made, or they may believe spending billions of dollars to reverse what is occurring naturally would be a huge waste of resources. These are scientific questions. These are political questions. They're not religious questions. Then why does the quasi-scientific group NCSE and others like them seek to squelch the debate?

Remember that the Nature article said, “25–30% of [surveyed] respondents reported that students, parents, administrators or other community members had argued with [educators] that climate change is not happening or that it is not the result of human activity.” Assuming that statistic is 100% accurate, what is the controversy? Are these educators so elite that they feel they must bring in the big guns to figure out how to keep people from disagreeing with them? Scott said their group is not a political think-tank. That's a lie. Their group is nothing else but a think-tank seeking ways to advance a liberal agenda. In the case of climate change, they have thrown their hat into the ring of a controversial, political issue and seek to equip educators with arguments to silence opposition. Would we stand still if an economics teacher sought advice from China on how to deal with his students who feel capitalism is superior to socialism?

If you are not convinced, let me ask also why educators believe it is a “threat” that school boards ask that they “teach the controversy”? If up to 1/3 of the teachers have been challenged about a controversial issue, then obviously a sizable percentage of the public questions it. As I asked in my reply to Steven J's comment, “Is it really better to teach kids to simply trust the overwhelming majority of scientists rather than teach them to consider both sides of an controversial issue like global warming?” Apparently these schools think so and so are not interested in presenting the evidence but rather want to allow kids to hear only a single view of the evidence. I would expect schools to be objective and noncommittal in such divisive issues. For school boards to ask teachers to present both sides of a controversial issue is only a threat if someone is afraid of students hearing both sides. Let me also remind you that it is precisely the job of the school boards and parents in the community to establish school curriculum. No matter how enlightened they think they are, it is not a “right” of the establishment to demand students be taught only what the scientific elite deems to be correct.

I don't mind having a discussion about global warming. I very much mind schools resorting to Scott and her ilk to figure out ways to end discussion. That's not an education. It's indoctrination.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Science Nazis

That's right. I said it. Some people are science Nazis. They are Nazis in the sense that they are militant about their scientific conclusions and feel perfectly just in forcing the “ignorant” masses into compliance through propaganda or whatever means possible. The Joseph Goebbels of the movement is Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

Before I begin, let me say that I may be annoyed but I am not unhinged. Many times in the past, I have read comments by evolutionists who, I am sure, were foaming at the mouth as they wrote. It's typical for people with this attitude to argue by insult. That's not what I'm trying to do here. I sincerely believe that Eugenie Scott is a propagandist as are many others like her.

OK, now to the meat of my “rant.” recently published a piece titled, “Evolution advocate turns to climate change.” The subtitle of the article says,Education centre known for battling creationists aims to help science teachers convey understanding of global warming. It's interesting that they use the term, “battling creationists.” I think the subtitle conveys the general impression held by the scientific community of the NCSE's true agenda as being militantly anti-creationist. They are not just concerned about keeping “religion” out of science education in schools, they are battling creationists wherever they are found. This has long been demonstrated by Scott's years-long crusade against the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis.

AiG has always admitted that they are not interested in changing public school curriculum. Like myself, they do not want public school teachers (especially those who might be unbelieving) teaching the Bible to our kids. This is the job of parents and the Church. Also, the Creation Museum is a private institution. It was built entirely with donated dollars and does not receive – nor ever received – any type of public grant or funding. Why then does Scott, and others of her ilk, concern herself with them? The reason is simple: it's because she loathes the idea that anyone anywhere believes in creation.

In the Nature article, reporter Susan Young highlights the same attitude toward global warming. Young begins her article lamenting that, in the same way some students have rejected the theory of evolution, some students are also rejecting the idea of global warming (or man-made global warming). She says that Scott has chosen to intervene because of the “entreaties from educators and textbook authors.” The article quotes Scott as saying, I think we can make an important contribution. If teachers understand that there is a place that they can go to for help, we can use some of the expertise that we’ve gained over the years dealing with evolution to apply to this related problem.”

Well, first off, one might ask how is evolution related to climate change? During any discussion, if a creationist happens to mention something like the Big Bang, the evolutionist is quick to point out that the Big Bang has nothing to do with evolution (cosmology v. biology). Here, though. Scott says two unrelated sciences (biology and meteorology) share a related problem. In her mind, the “problem” is that there are people who don't fall lock-step into established, scientific consensus.  Her's is a political agenda - not a scientific one.

According to the article, “25–30% of [surveyed] respondents reported that students, parents, administrators or other community members had argued with [educators] that climate change is not happening or that it is not the result of human activity.” What is even more alarming is that “[s]ome school boards and state legislators have threatened to require educators to ‘teach the controversy’ about climate change — a term coined in relation to evolution that amounts to presenting a scientific theory as one of various possible viewpoints.”

Oh my goodness! You mean there are actually school boards out there who want educators to tell their students that some people – maybe even some scientists – disagree with their theory?! I can see why Scott is up in arms. (I am using sarcasm in case it isn't obvious).  Honestly, I can't see a "controversy" in teaching students to be skeptical.  In the case of global warming, I believe there is more dissent among scientists about the issue than there is concerning creation.  However, Scott is a propagandist and she sees it as her job to sway the masses to the desired point of view.

Scott believes the solution to this imagined problem is helping people to understand the reasons why scientists overwhelmingly accept climate change.” This is the crux of the issue. It's the elitism of the scientific establishment or “truth by consensus.” Scott believes that the science is settled. Since the overwhelming majority of scientists accept climate change, we know that it's true so dissent is no longer allowed. Her approach is cleverly worded but it's little more than a thinly veiled “appeal to authority.”

I wonder how Scott might have behaved a few centuries ago when Galileo was introducing ideas that upset the scientific establishment. Would she have said, “Look people, the science is settled on this – Ptolemy was right”? Even well established science can still be wrong. Most scientists will admit this. Still, certain elitists only allow debate within the scientific community. Lay people are not allowed to have an opinion other than then current consensus of the establishment.

What is most amusing about the article is this disclaimer:
The statement also says that the NCSE will not take a position on what, if anything, should be done to counteract global warming or mitigate its effects. “What to do about it ranges widely and gets outside of the strict science and into policy issues in which many, many variables are going to have to be considered,” says Scott. “We are not a policy think tank; we don’t have expertise in this area.”
Wait a minute! They don't have expertise in this area? Why exactly, then, is she taking a side on this issue? On the one hand, they claim not to know enough to recommend a solution but on the other hand, they know enough to know it's absolutely true and students don't just need to be taught about it but need to believe it. I know why they are interested. Even though their expertise is not in global warming, Scott is still commenting on her area of expertise – propaganda!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hell: Hades, Sheol, Paradise, and Gehenna

To my last post concerning the “gates of hell,” a frequent visitor, Steven J, asked some interesting questions. While I was forming a reply to his comments, I realized that a lot of people might have similar questions so I thought I'd add a few more details and make it a post. As I began writing it, though, I realized the subject is a little more broad that I originally considered and wasn't sure I could keep it to a reasonable post length. It seemed that anything I wanted to omit seemed necessary to the whole post. I finally decided to scrap the whole thing and write an abbreviated version from scratch.

I say all that to say this: My views about hell probably reflect those held by the slight majority but opinions still abound. Consider this a disclaimer - the Bible gives us much detail about the lives of the characters it mentions and also give us instructions on how to conduct ourselves now. It gives surprisingly few details about hell and even fewer about heaven. The popular ideas of a “fire and brimstone” hell are not entirely wrong but they're not entirely right either. What I include here is correct to my best understanding of the Bible but I remain open to correction if I am convincingly persuaded by Scripture.

By the way, for the purpose of this post, we will stick primarily to the New Testament.

The English word “hell” invokes images of fire, brimstone, flames, and eternal torment. Many people are surprised, though, when I tell them the Bible does not use the word “hell” at all. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. There are different words that have all been rendered as “hell” in the English translations. For a few of those words, the fiery judgment is the correct understanding but not in every instance.

In the New Testament, the word most often translated as “hell” is the Greek word ᾅδης (hadēs). In general, Hades refers to the abode of the dead. It includes all the dead, regardless of their faith while on earth. However, within Hades, souls are segregated into two groups – believers and non-believers – to await the resurrection. Hades is the functional equivalent of the Old Testament, Hebrew word שׁאל (she'ôl). Sheol literally means “grave” or “pit.” Oh, and if you haven't noticed already, for the sakes of ease of typing and reading, I am referring to these here as Hades and Sheol.

In John 5:28-29, Jesus makes it clear that the “grave” (μνημεῖον (mnēmeion) is the Greek word in this passage) holds both the believing and unbelieving:
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (KJV)
Those who die while believing are taken to a place of rest in Hades. This has also been called “the Bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:22) or“Paradise' (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4). Those who died while outside of the faith are taken to a place of torment. It is also referred to as Gehenna (Matthew 5:22), Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4), or the abyss (Revelation 9:1).

Sometimes, this realm of the damned is also referred to as Hades (Luke 16:23) or Sheol which leads to a little confusion. Let me see if I can offer an analogy that could clear up the confusion. I live in Louisville, Kentucky (KY). Louisville is the city and it is in the state of KY. While I am in Louisville, I am simultaneously in KY. So, I could say, “I live in Louisville” and just as correctly say, “I live in KY.” Likewise, a damned soul in the place of torment (like Gehenna) can simultaneously said to be in Hades.

We see a good contrast between the place of rest and the place of torment in Luke 16:19-31 – the account of the rich man and Lazarus. The Bible says that when Lazarus died, he was carried by angels to the Bosom of Abraham. The rich man died and “was buried.” Then, in “hell” (Hades), he lifted his eyes and saw Abraham with Lazarus “in his bosom.” It is frightening to read as the rich man says he is being tormented in flames. Abraham reminds him that he received good things in life while Lazarus suffered evil things. Now the rich man is “tormented” while Lazarus is “comforted” (KJV). In the passage, Abraham also describes there is a gulf or chasm that divides the two areas. While Abraham and the rich man are obviously able to see each other and even converse, neither can cross to the other side.

When Jesus died, He descended to “Paradise” as is attested in His comment to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” When Jesus ascended, He took with Him all the saints who now dwell in the presence of the Father (Ephesians 4:8-10). Most people agree that Paradise no longer receives spirits. Now, when a believer dies, he is immediately present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Revelation tells us that there will be a final judgment of the lost. Revelation 20:13 says that “death and hell (Hades)” will give up the dead that are in them to stand before the white throne where their works are judged. At the end of the judgment, Hades, along with all those whose names are not in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the “second death” and is their final destiny for all eternity.

In many cases, a discussion of hell raises the criticism that God is cruel and unjust (the “argument of outrage”). Such a discussion will have to be for another post. Suffice it to say here and now that hell (the place of the damned) is a very real place and judgment awaits all who reject Jesus. However, salvation is available to all. Now is the time to decide.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Matthew 16:18: The Gates of Hell

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

When Jesus uttered these words to Peter, it is the only recorded example where He used the term, “the gates of hell.” What exactly did He mean when He said, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? Over the years I’ve heard various interpretations and there are at least three that warrant serious consideration.

The Minions of Hell:

In Biblical times, the gates of a city represented the seat of power. Most large cities then were walled and whenever visitors and traders would enter a city, they had to enter through the gates. Merchants and notable men of the city would wait there to greet them. An example of this appears in Genesis 19:1:

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;”

Another example is from Esther where Mordecai was often seen sitting at the gate with the king’s servants (Esther 2:19, Esther 2:21, Esther 3:2, et al).

In this light, the “gates of hell” could mean the powerful forces of hell (the Devil and his demons). They will not prevail against Christ’s church.

The Dominion of Hell:

As mentioned before large cities in the Bible were walled. The obvious purpose of this was defense. Whenever an enemy army attacked the city, they would try to breach the gate. Strong walls and a strong gate would thwart the efforts of the attackers and the city would be safe.

The Devil is the ruler of this world (John 14:30). He seeks to protect his domain and his gates are designed to hold off the true King. The gates of hell are his defense. But even the strongest gates cannot prevail against the power of Christ’s church.


The Greek word used for Hell in Matthew is ᾅδης (hadēs). This is not the place of judgment or eternal torment but the place of rest for the dead until the resurrection. Other passages describe this as the Bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:22). It’s the same word used in Acts 2:31:

“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

Gates are often used to keep things out; but they are sometimes used to keep things in. The gates of hell that admit the dead, also keep them in. When Christ died, His soul descended to hell (hadēs). However, these gates were not able to keep Jesus in. The gates of hell could not prevail against the Risen Savior and neither will they prevail against His church!

Whatever the meaning of the term, the promise of Christ is clear. The gates of hell, whenever they stand before us, either to keep us out or keep us in, they will not prevail. Amen!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Do You Like My New Blog Design?

After 4 years of blogging, it's funny that I really don't know much more about blog design than when I started. The difference is that now Blogger has more features available and they're fairly easy to employ. When I started, the available templates were very limited. I'm not kidding – there were only about 20 to choose from. Oh yeah, they looked cool at first but after I started visiting other people's blogs, I realized they all looked like mine. When I saw these same templates on other people's sites, I also realized they were boring.

I stumbled upon (through normal surfing – not the app of the same name) a site with a LOT of cool templates that could be applied to Blogger. I chose one I liked and applied it to my blog right away. It was great for a while. My blog had a cool new look and was different than all the other blogs out there. Unfortunately for me, though, Blogger soon offered all those same templates as well so my blog suddenly wasn't quite as unique anymore.

Regardless of that, I really liked the look of my last design. I thought it was attractive to look at and had a more “professional” appearance than the cookie cutter templates I had been used to. Yet I always had this nagging feeling that the color scheme made it a little difficult to read. Also, the side bar seemed to be lost in clutter. I almost never had clicks on my side bar and I think it was simply because people never noticed anything in there so they didn't click on anything.

I previewed several new themes to see how they'd look on my blog. This one caught my eye. It's rather simple but elegant. Pictures are a big part of my blog and I like the way they stand out against the white background. I think the side bar now looks more like content and less like ads that people ignore. And certainly the text is much more readable. At the risk of sounding cliche, I think this new theme “pops.”

I hope it improves the reading experience of all my visitors. I might make a few tweaks still. If you have any suggestions or comments, please comment. Feedback is always welcome on A Sure Word.

Thanks for visiting. God bless!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Did Diseases Survive the Flood?

There are a couple of reasons I like to read questions asked by skeptics. First, it demonstrates how little studied many skeptics are about creation. Often, the questions are so absurdly easy to answer, it gives me an opportunity to point out to the skeptic that he needs to study creation more thoroughly before rejecting it. A second reason, however, is that it gives me inspiration for items to blog about.

Such is the case from a skeptic using the online name, Clever Name (not really very clever but that's the name he chose). Clever Name posted about a dozen questions concerning the Flood. Some of them are interesting and may be used in upcoming posts but he prompted another skeptic (going by the name rossum) to ask how diseases – like small pox, tape worms, and polio – survived the Flood. OK, “tape worm” is not really a disease but you get the point. This isn't a new criticism but one I've heard many times before. I merely haven't addressed it before now.

I've heard it suggested (via a straw man argument) that Noah and his family had to be the most sickly people that had ever lived because they had to carry among them all known human maladies and parasites. The Bible does not say how bacteria and viruses et al survived the Flood so any answer given by creationists are educated guesses. There are many plausible explanations - any one of which is possible (or a combination of all of them). I will offer a few possibilities but this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of options.


Noah and his family could possibly have had ailments that survived the Flood though this is the least plausible explanation. Most viruses do not infect human hosts for a year without being defeated by our immune system but some diseases are chronic. Since I'm not a doctor, I can't say if there are any viruses that hosts can “carry” for years without symptoms and still be contagious but, if so, some of Noah's family can be blamed if those maladies still plague us. Parasites, on the other hand, can definitely be carried for long periods by their hosts and still be passed along to others. Tapeworms, which were specifically mentioned by rossum, are such parasites.

Even if some diseases survived via Noah's family, this certainly cannot account for all of the diseases suffered by humans today. There must be other methods as well.


There were at least a few thousand animals on the Ark. There can be no doubt that many of them carried parasites like tics, fleas, and tapeworms. Many also likely carried viruses. Now, I already know that some critics out there will bring up the fact that many diseases that infect humans cannot be borne by animals. While that may be true of modern strains, it may not be true of their ancestors. Viruses that can now only survive in humans may have once been more robust and able to live in animals as well. Viruses, like animals, have adapted to their environments and become more specialized. The further back we go in time, the more general and robust species may have been.

The funny thing is that this must be a part of the evolutionary theory even if evolutionists don't see it as an option for creationists. If certain viruses can only live in humans now, how did the viruses survive millions of years ago before humans evolved? Obviously, the ancestors of these modern, human strains were borne by something other than humans. Evolutionists must concede that viruses that only infect humans now must once have survived in non-humans. If the evolutionists are honest, they should also admit this solution exists for the creationist as well.


Under the right conditions, things like bacteria and viruses can survive extended periods without a host. About one year ago, I wrote about the discovery of living bacteria that was supposedly 34,000 years old. Decades old viruses have also be recovered from a doomed, arctic expedition. For years after the Flood, humans may have come into contact with the carcasses of infected people or animals that had perished in the Deluge.


Though I risk hearing a big “gotcha” from my opponents, I know that some germs that cause disease now, may not have been disease causing in the antediluvean world. Many things we now consider harmful may have once served a beneficial purpose but, because of the Curse, has mutated to become the malevolent agent it is now. Such a notion brings to mind the ultimate origin of pathogens in the first place. Surely, God would not have intended things like cancer to be part of the initial, “very good” creation. Where then did they come from? Perhaps God, in His foreknowledge, programed latent features into DNA that became expressed as part of His judgment. I don't know. However it may have happened, the same mechanism could be at work after the Flood. Mutations that cause deformities and maladies in other species, could also make helpful bacteria become harmful. This is the cursed world we live in.

IN CONCLUSION, there's no reason to believe that diseases are somehow an argument against the Flood. There are many ways these survived the Flood without resorting to the ridiculous idea that Noah and his sickly family carried them all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Does Racism Shape Evolutionary Theory?

I've heard many Christians attack evolution with claims of racism. For example, many people have made much hay over the title of Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life While there is always room in any subject for a discussion of the moral implications of a particular view, we need to be careful when playing the race card. If evolution is true, then it's true regardless of any racial tendencies the theory might carry. Besides, racism far preceded Darwin. The simple fact that some people have tried used evolution as a scientific justification for their bigotry doesn't disqualify the theory from consideration. This is the logical fallacy of “guilt by association.” Evolution is wrong but it's not wrong because it's a “racist” theory.

Having said that, though, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that much of our understanding of hominid evolution is wrong because racial attitudes have shaped our interpretation of the evidence. I'll explain how in a moment but let me start with a disclaimer: I do not believe the distinction of races among humans is biblically sound. The Bible says that God has made all nations of one blood (Acts 17:26). Those features that we use to identify a person's race is an invented concept. It's true that certain groups of people tend to possess certain combinations of traits but to identify someone as a different “race” based on their skin color makes about as much sense as segregating people based on their eye color.

Now, on to my point. I'm not a scientist; I'm often reminded of this by my evolutionary friends – many of whom are not scientists either by the way. Yet even though I'm not a scientist, I can still see the differences between a Neanderthal skull and a Homo sapien skull. Neanderthals possessed, among other things, heavy brow ridges, elongated jaws, and a sloping forehead. Homo sapiens have a distinctly dome-shaped skull and flat faces.

When evolutionists recreate the appearance of Neanderthals, they tend to view their facial characteristics as being “primitive.” The result is a brutish-looking caveman. Besides the thick brow ridge, Neanderthals have also been portrayed with thick lips, wide noses, and even dark skin. Let me ask you, what is necessarily “primitive” about these features? Some groups of people alive today possess these sames traits.

Consider these photos of American-Indian, Wolf Robe. Note the heavy brow and sloping forehead. Was this noble Chief a brute? Was he a savage? Was he even one iota less evolved than white Europeans? Excuse me for saying this but I think it's offensive that certain “racial” characteristics have been labeled as primitive. A thick brow and sloping forehead are more ape like? Are you kidding me?  

What's especially sad is that some Christians have actually believed certain groups like American-Indians or Australian Aborigines are not descended from Adam and so do not need the gospel. Still others have believed that dark skin is the “mark of Cain” (Genesis 4:15). How many people have died without hearing the gospel simply because some Christians were racists?

It's fair to say that racial features are merely different combinations of traits that God encoded into the DNA of Adam and Eve. Certain combinations might be more common among certain groups, but there is nothing significant about them. It is a gross misunderstanding when scientists use normal variations among people groups as clues to identify which groups are closer to the apes. I would even say it's racist!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is Shark Hybridization “Evolution in Action”

Scientists are excited about finding hybrid sharks off the coast of Australia. Lead researcher, Jess Morgan, said of the discovery, “This is evolution in action.” You can read the article (here) but here's the gist of the story:

The Australian black-tip shark can live only in tropical waters. The common black-tip shark (described as the Australian black-tip's “cousin”) can live in more temperate water. Scientist have found about 57 specimens of hybrids (the offspring of a mating between different species) of the Australian black-tip and common black-tip. The hybrids can live in the cooler waters. One spin that article suggested is that hybridization is helping the Australian black-tip adapt to “climate change.” That's fodder for another post.

Anyway, is this an example of “evolution in action”? If by “evolution” one simply means “change,” then this is certainly an example of change. However, there is no “evolution” of the type that could change a bird into dinosaur. The article is very interesting and there's a lot we can learn here. But for the sake of the creation-evolution debate, this article demonstrates a few things in particular.

First, it's another good example of the equivocal use of the word “evolution.” Any “change” identified in nature is touted as “evolution in action” which serves to embolden evolutionists. When I say I don't believe in “evolution” (the descent of all species from a common ancestor), I'm chided for denying something they claim has been observed.

Second, this highlights the subjective meaning of the term “species.” Species is typically defined as “a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring.1 This definition is, at best, ambiguous. At worst, it's useless. The Australian black-tip and the common black-tip can obviously interbreed (as evidenced by this finding). Why are they different species? Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) can hybridize (and have done so in the wild) yet they are different species. The gray wolf (Canis lupus) can hybridize with the coyote (Canis latrans). Hybridization is so common among flora and fauna that I really don't see how this definition of species endures. Evolutionists often demand that creationists provide a rigorous definition of the term “kind.” This is rather hypocritical of them since they cannot present a rigorous definition of the term “species.” Also, evolutionists sometimes define “macro-evolution” as “change that occurs at or above the level of species.”2 That term too is rather useless since evolutionists can't seem to pin down what a species is. In other words, how can we know that change has occurred “at or above the level of species” if we don't even know what a species is?

Thirdly, this finding is a better example of the creationist model. Both the common black-tip and Australian black-tip belong to the same “kind.” Each species merely possess different combinations of traits that were already present in the ancestral population. It's obvious that the common ancestor of both species was more robust and could likely tolerate a wider range of temperatures. Natural selection is a process that tends to eliminate traits which aren't suited to a particular environment and the modern species of Australian black-tip have become specialized and adapted to more tropical waters.

I wrote about this very subject in my post “Were there Fish on the Ark?” All the things discussed in this recent article are consistent with the post I had written nearly a year ago. In that post, where I focused on the adaptation of modern fish species to their environments, I also mentioned the Biblical concept of “kind” and the creationist explanation of speciation. It all comes into play in this new finding. I'm even tempted to say, “This is creation in action!”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ann Coulter's book: Demonic, How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America

I received Ann Coulter's book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America, for Christmas this year. Thus far, I've only had a chance to read the first four or five chapters yet I've read enough to see it's another winner. Ann Coulter is definitely one of my favorite political authors. She's funny, insightful, and straightforward. She articulates the conservative position as well as anyone I've heard. Perhaps what I like most about her is that she drives liberals absolutely crazy! The mere mention of her name brings out that demonic frenzy she has correctly identified that exists inside liberals. As always, her book fails to disappoint.

The premise of her book is how liberals exhibit a mob mentality. Mobs are unable to think rationally and are instead driven by base emotions. According to Coulter, “All the characteristics of mob behavior set forth by [Gustave] Le Bon in 1895 are evident in modern liberalism – simplistic, extreme, black-and-white thinking, fear of novelty, inability to follow logical arguments, acceptance of contradictory ideas, being transfixed by images, a religious worship of their leaders, and a blind hatred of their opponents.”

Coulter introduces the book by quoting Mark 5:2-9 which details the encounter between Jesus and the demon possessed man, Legion. It's an attention grabber and sets the tone for her myriad of examples of how liberal mobs exhibit the same demonic behaviors.

I might write a more thorough review once I've finished the book but the close of Chapter One is so intriguing that I wanted to reproduce it here. Coulter uses the biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus to illustrate the typical, demonic mob.
The seminal event of the New Testament – Jesus' cricifixion – is a dramatic illustration of the power of the mob. 
When the mob was howling for Pontius Pilate to sentence Jesus to death, even Pilate's wife couldn't convince him to spare Jesus. After having a dream about Jesus, Pilate's wife sent her husband a note saying Jesus was innocent – a “just man.” Pilate knew it to be true and that the mob hated Jesus out of “envy.” But not his wife, not even his own common sense, was enough for him to resist the mob.
Three times Pilate told the “multitude” that Jesus was innocent and should be spared. He pleaded with the mob, proposing to “chastise him, and release him.” But the mob was immovable, demanding Jesus' crucifixion. Pilate was required to release one of the prisoners, so he gave the mob the choice of Jesus or Barabbas, a notorious murderer and insurrectionist – in other words, someone who incites mobs. Again, the mob “spoke with one voice,” demanding “with loud shouts” that Jesus be crucified.
Capitulating to the mob, Pilate ordered Jesus' death.
Even one of the mob's victims, a thief being crucified alongside Jesus, joined the mob's taunting, saying to Jesus, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” The other thief rebuked him, noting that they were guilty and Jesus was not. He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into they kingdom.” And Jesus said, “Today shalt though be with me in paradise.” 
Pilate gave in to the mob out of fear. The thief joined the mob to side with the majority. The mob itself was driven by envy.
Although it all worked out in the end – Jesus died, darkness fell over the Earth, the ground trembled, and the temple veil was ripped in two, and three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, giving all people the promise of everlasting life - here was the stark choice, to be repeated like Nietzsche's eternal recurrence: Jesus or Barabbas?
Liberals say Barabbas: Go with the crowd. C'mon, everybody's doing it – it's cool. Now let's go mock Jesus. (As is so often the case, the mob said, “Kill the Jew.”) 
Conservatives – sublimely uninterested in the opinion of the mob - say Jesus.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

In my last post, I talked about how New Year's Day is an opportunity to reflect on the glory and mercy of God and to ponder how we might spend the time He has given us in this new year. At this time, many people start out the year telling a great big fat lie called a “new year's resolution.” I call it a lie because the failure rate for these resolutions is staggeringly high. Some statistics that I've read say that only 12 percent of the people who make a resolution ever reach their goal. One third fail before the end of January. Twenty percent fail in the first week!

With so few people actually keeping their resolutions, there has been much discussion about whether or not Christians should even make resolutions. I have my own opinion about this. First, resolutions tend to be things that most people realize they should be doing already. If there is something worthwhile that you should be doing, why not take the opportunity of the New Year to simply do it? Secondly, I believe that many of reasons we fail to keep our resolutions are also the reasons we struggle in so many areas of our spiritual lives. If we examine the reasons why we fail to keep our resolutions, it may help improve our walk with Christ. For these reasons, I see nothing necessarily wrong with a resolution and believe there is actually value in examining why we fail when we make them.

The Bible is certainly the best judge of human nature. From Scriptures, I believe I have identified at least five reasons why people do not keep their resolutions.

I. We don't take our oaths seriously
Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Jesus talked about the foolishness of making empty oaths. A person might say that he swears by heaven but would still not keep his word. Today, we sometimes swear on a Bible. Jesus reminded us that these oaths are not frivolous. The heaven and earth on not trivial things that we might vainly invoke to add weight to our promise. Instead, we should simply mean what we say. If you say “yes” then mean yes. If you say “no” then mean no.

Perhaps it might benefit people to look up the definition of “resolution.” You are resolving yourself to do something. If you abandon your goal in the first week, it's not very likely you were ever very resolute about it.

If you make a resolution, take it seriously.

II. We don't count the cost
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Sometimes we resolve to do something without fully realizing what all will be involved in keeping it. Some people, for example, might resolve to save 10% of their paycheck every time they get paid. That sounds like a great idea but they continue spending money the way they always have. Before they get their next paycheck, they realize they've spent all of their money and immediately have to dip into their savings. Before starting their resolution, they should have planned what they will give up in order to make their resolution possible.

Included in this category is the vague resolution. Someone might resolve to “be a better person.” Exactly how is that measured? Without some quantitative or measurable standard, one cannot tell if he is keeping his resolution. He could just as vaguely justify that he has - “Well, I feel like I haven't yelled at my kids as much.”

III. We have unrealistic expectations

Some people believe that if they keep their resolution, the world will suddenly become a better place. It's as though they feel if they lost 30 pounds, they would suddenly feel like a teenager again. They feel like if they could save money, then they could travel, have nice things, and pay off their mortgage in a year.
Jesus said, (John 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The old saying is that life is strife. The world will not suddenly become a paradise because you have lost 10 pounds. The things that added stress to your life will still be there. If what you have resolved is worthwhile, don't be discouraged if it doesn't create the Utopia you had imagined.

IV. We labor in the flesh
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
I've written about Isaiah 64:6 before.  Rags are not necessarily worthless.  We use them for many things like cleaning. But the Bible says our righteousness is like filthy rags. A filthy rage really is worthless. If you tried to clean off your hands with a filthy rag, you will simply get your hands dirtier.

Any attempt we make to clean up our act is doomed to fail if we try to do it on our own. We are simply trying to clean ourselves up with our own righteousness – our own dirty rags. If we're pursuing something worthwhile, we shouldn't rely only on our own abilities to accomplish it. Ask the Lord for strength and guidance.

V. We have misguided motives
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
When you make a resolution, ask yourself why you want it. Why might we want to lose weight, for example? Is it out of simple vanity? If so, the God might not be interested in helping us keeping our resolution. If we make a commitment to do something that's not really worthwhile, we're certainly going to be more apt to abandon it.

A lot of our resolutions center around the material. That doesn't automatically make them bad but they're not necessarily worthwhile either. Consider if your resolution is truly important. Besides the usual resolutions to lose weight, go to the gym, quit smoking, save money, and payoff bills, consider some of these resolutions:
    • I resolve to attend church every week this year
    • I resolve to tithe
    • I resolve to read the Bible all the way through this year
    • I resolve to share the gospel with at least one person per month this year
    • I resolve to lead someone to Christ this year
In conclusion

There's a danger in associating our resolutions with the New Year. If we have planned since November that we would lose weight in the New Year, it means we probably ate like a pig since Thanksgiving. Also, if we fail, there is an attitude of, “Oh well, maybe I'll try again next year.” If you fail then just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

If you make a resolution, take it seriously, count the cost, have realistic expectations, pray for guidance, and examine your motives. There's no need to wait to do better. Just do it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, 2012

Genesis 1:14 "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"
When people think about Christian holidays, New Year doesn't immediately come to mind. However, we can see in the above verse from Genesis that God originally intended there to be years. A “year” is not an invention of man. Neither is it an accident of nature. It is the design of God that we count years and He arranged the universe so that we could accomplish that. It's rather humbling when you think about it.

We also can see that time is literally a gift from God. We're not guaranteed another year. We're not even guaranteed another day. Every moment we live demonstrates God's providence and His mercy. We who are all guilty of sin and deserving and death, He has allowed to live to see another year.

The New Year, then, proclaims God's sovereignty and providence. Today is a great day to praise God and reflect on His glory and mercies. Today is also a great day to ponder how we're going to spend the gift of time He has given us.

Happy New Year!!