googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: July 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Josephus Talks About Noah's Flood

If Noah's Flood were a real event (which it was), it would be an understatement to say it was a significant event in history. Only the eight members of Noah's family who were on the Ark survived the Flood but no doubt they would have told their children about the event. Such a remarkable event would certainly be told and retold generation after generation so that, even centuries after the Flood, everyone in the young world would know about the Flood even if they didn't experience the Flood. We could even predict that every ancient culture would include some account of this Flood in its lore. That's exactly what we find.

The ubiquity of Flood legends isn't just the topic of modern creationists. At least one ancient historian noticed the same thing. In his book, The Antiquities of the Jews, 1st century, Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus penned this paragraph:

Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berossus the Chaldean. For when he was describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: "It is said, there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets, for the averting of mischiefs."--Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phenician antiquities, and Manases, and a great many more, make mention of the same. Nay, Nicholas of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them; where he speaks thus: "There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported, that many who fled at the time of the deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark, came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses the legislator of the Jews wrote.

Josephus had a lot to say about Noah and other characters attested in the Bible. Being Jewish himself, a lot of what he said is simply his retelling of the events from the Bible. What is significant about this passage is that he takes note of how other, non-Jewish historians corroborate details of the Flood revealed in the Bible – namely that there was a great deluge, that a man survived in an Ark, and that the Ark came to rest in the mountains.

Josephus did not know about the Australian aborigines or American Indians. He wasn't familiar with the Aztecs or Incas. I'm not even sure how much he new about the people of the Far east. But he understood that the many Flood legends among the western cultures gave weight to its authenticity. As western civilization made it's way into the entire world, we've discovered many more Flood legends among even remote populations everywhere in the world. What Josephus knew then is even more true today. The number of Flood legends among so many cultures strongly suggests it was a real event in history.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Crack Pots are Liberals

Just recently, I had a light-hearted discussion about the statistical fact that believers in UFO's and Big Foot are usually evolutionists. It was a half-joke in response to the common claim that creationists are crack pots who subscribe to junk science.

So, Brian Ross, a “reporter” for the alternative news outlet, ABC, is on the air talking about the CO shooting when he carelessly makes a tenuous connection between Jim Holmes and the Tea Party. You can see the irresponsible statements in this video.

There's something familiar about comments like this. It reminds me of how evolutionists call creationists, “crack pots.” I've noticed that whenever fringe nuts commit crimes, there is a usual response among left-wing “reporters” to quickly blame conservative groups and radio talk show hosts for inciting the incident with their “hateful rhetoric.” Do you remember the calls to tone down the rhetoric after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford? I recall they blamed Sarah Palin for having bulls-eyes over certain congressional districts on her website. The funny thing is that these early, careless reports always turn out to be wrong. The Jim Holmes who is a member of the Tea Party is not the same Jim Holmes who murdered a dozen people in the CO movie theater. The man who shot Rep. Gifford was not political and likely never even visited Sarah Palin's website.

But let's pause for a moment and think about this. What if Holmes really had been a member of the Tea Party? What does that mean? Does that suddenly make the Tea Party a terrorist group? Holmes was also once a PhD student at the University of Colorado. Does that mean the University of Colorado is a terrorist group? Any attempt to link Holmes to any conservative group is nothing more than a pitiful, guilt-by-association argument.

Liberals should think twice before trying to make a connection between Holmes' crime and his religious or political associations. I've seen the pictures and videos of Holmes. I'm not a professional, criminal profiler or anything but let me tell you what I think about Holmes. He doesn't strike me as the church-going type. I would guess he's more likely an atheist or at least he's non-religious. He probably doesn't vote but, if he does, I would wager that he's registered as a Democrat. He has not attended any Tea Party rallies but I suspect he's sympathetic to the Occupy Movement (Occupy seems especially popular among young, college students).  I'll bet he has expressed concerns over global warming and believes we should raise taxes on the rich.  He's not a member of the NRA. He doesn't hunt or fish. He's not a Ditto Head.  I am also 100% sure he is not a young earth creationist but is, instead, an evolutionist. Does anyone think I'm wrong on any of these points?

I think that liberals' attempts to label extremists as “right wing” are red herrings to move the subject away from the truth – that the nuts are usually liberals. Oh, by the way, I did a search of Obama donors and found that there was a James Holmes who gave to Obama's campaign in 2008. Now, I'm not sure if this is the same Jim Holmes who committed the shootings but....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Doesn't God Just Show Himself?

Critics of Christianity have often asked, Why doesn't God just show Himself and prove He exists? This is often asked by the controversial and irreverent comedian, Bill Maher. The question is flawed on many levels but the critics must think it's clever so they continue to ask it. I thought I'd take a moment and explore it's many failings.

Questions like this have a sort of doubting-Thomas feel to them. Thomas, you will recall, refused to believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he saw the risen Savior for himself. He was fortunate because Jesus did appear to Thomas prompting him to exclaim, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). It seems natural to think that if God appeared to anyone then that person would believe. Thomas saw and believed but Jesus said that those who believe without seeing would be even more blessed. I certainly look forward to seeing Jesus but so much evidence exists for His life and resurrection that I don't need to wait until I see Him to believe.

When answering this question, we must first remember that God is under no obligation to appear to us. He has already given us His revelation in the form of the Bible. There is nothing else we need in order to know how to be saved. The Bible itself attests that the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). If someone wishes to ignore the written word of God and insist that God appear to him personally, then that is his loss (and a very great loss it is).

However, even though God has no obligation to appear to us, He already has! John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” While on earth, Jesus gave us many signs and miracles as evidence of who He was, He told us He was the only way to the Father, He promised eternal life to everyone who believed in Him, and we have the written record of His words and miracles. What more exactly do these people want? Do they expect Jesus to appear every couple of years just to remind everyone that He is real and meant what He said?

Even if Jesus appeared on earth right now, I don't believe that would be enough to convince the skeptic anyway. At His first appearance, many of the people who heard His words and saw His miracles still not believe (John 12:37). Even the Pharisees, as they mocked Jesus on the cross said, “If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42). Yet when Jesus appeared alive again after His death, their first act was not to repent and believe but to cover up His resurrection (Matthew 28:13). God appeared to these 1st century Jews and proved who He was through many miracles culminating in His resurrection. Even so, many witnesses still did not believe in Him. I suspect the same would be true today.

Additionally, we know that His one death on the cross was sufficient to atone for every sin (Romans 6:10, Romans 7:27). Therefore, there will be no more incarnations of the same kind as the last one. Someday, though, there will be a glorious appearance of Jesus. At that time, every knee will bow to Him and every tongue shall confess to God (Romans 14:11). Unfortunately, it will be too late then for the non-believers. How sad.

Finally, what is the significance of Jesus not appearing now? There's a subtle implication that God doesn't appear because He isn't real. That's laughable. He did appear and we have the written record of His appearance; we simply were not alive during the time of His ministry on earth. So what if He doesn't appear now? You might as well ask why neither Augusta Caesar nor George Washington appear. What would be the point? Are Caesar and Washington imaginary? I only know these people existed because of the written evidence we have of them. Am I to believe that these critics do not believe in any person they have not seen personally? Yet incredibly, they claim it makes more sense to believe that Jesus doesn't appear to us because He is imaginary!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

They Hear Not Moses and the Prophets

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Luke 16:27-31

When Jesus spoke this account of Lazarus and the Rich Man, He ended it with a very compelling point: if people do not believe the writings of Moses or the prophets (i.e. the Old Testament), they will not believe even if someone rose from the dead. Of course, there is someone who rose from the dead – Jesus – and there are people who do not believe in Him because they do not believe Moses and the prophets.

A friend of mine posted a link on FaceBook which demonstrates this principle. A 'riches to rags' story in the Christian Post talks about a former Methodist pastor who lost her faith and has now become the public relations director for the American Atheists. In her own words, her descent into disbelief began with her doubts about the Bible. Read this quote from the article:

There are basically four steps that occurred over a long period of time. One was the contradictory nature of the Bible; the lack of scientific or historical foundation or accuracy, which took me a very, very long time to come to terms with. That was the starting point I guess when I realized that that wasn't true, that the Bible wasn't true.”

So we have an example straight from the horse's mouth as it were. Her decision to embrace atheism began with a rejection of the Bible. It's the Garden of Eden all over again where Eve has believed the lies of the serpent (read this post).

I wonder exactly when this lady began to have her doubts. She only said it was a “very, very gradual” process.  Since she specifically mentions the “scientific” foundation of the Bible, I assume much of her confusion stemmed from evolution and creation. Did she ever ask anyone, “what about evolution?” I wonder what she was told. Was she given any answers or was she only told, “That's not important”? What's worse is that she might have been told, “You don't have to believe that part of the Bible.”

If the church is interested in reaching people, the issue of evolution has to be met head on. I would say that a belief in evolution is the number one obstacle preventing people in the US from accepting Jesus. Sadly, the subject receives barely a mention. The issue of origins is often considered “controversial” and so is avoided too frequently. It's simply not discussed out of fear of offending. When asked about the subject, weak church leaders will hide behind the justification that the correct interpretation of Genesis isn't relevant to salvation. To that I would say that a belief in creation may not be a requirement of salvation but it's far from irrelevant. Jesus convincingly demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between a belief in the Old Testament and a belief in Him.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Zoo is Closed

Sometimes parents are lazy. Has there ever been a time when your child wanted to do something but it just wasn't a good time? I can't imagine any parent who has not experienced that. Suppose your child wanted to go to the zoo, for example. You could explain that you have too many other things to do, you just went recently anyway, it's too hot today, another time would be more enjoyable, etc. Even if the reasons you don't want to go are all reasonable, children are often not satisfied. The solution for some parents is to say, “The zoo is closed.” It may be a lie but it works. Kids understand that you can't go somewhere when it's closed so that will usually end the discussion. A lie can accomplish what reasoning couldn't.

We resort to this tactic because we are human and humans lie. It's part of our sin nature. We can try to justify it any way that we want but it's a lie and that's all there is to it. What amazes me is that many people who profess to be Christians, accuse God of using this tactic in describing the creation account in Genesis. Read how one old-earth creationist describes this (source):

If God's creation was billions of years old, how would He have written the creation account in Genesis? One thing is certain...God is good at telling us exactly what we need to know. ¶When God refers to a large number, He uses picture stories, such as Abraham's descendants being as numerous as the sand. Why does He do this? If God had said, "You will have millions of descendants," Abraham would have asked, "What is a million?" ¶When considering the creation, if we broke it down into days, that would be 5,000,500,000,000 days, or roughly 13.7 billion years. Do we need an account for each day of creation...of course not. God in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to tell us the creation story by breaking it down into creative segments, each of which was attributed to a specific creative act or acts. We need to give the early Hebrews of Genesis a break...they didn't have calculators like we do! [ellipses in original]

This author's point is that the ancients would not have been able to grasp the concept of millions or billions of years. He claims that God, “in His infinite wisdom,” chose to reveal the creation in terms the people could understand and so He broke it down into days. The author is saying, in a sense, God chose the “the zoo is closed” solution.

I have several problems with this explanation. First, it casts aspersion on the intelligence of the ancients. I know that we have discovered many things that the ancient Hebrews did not know but, even so, they were not imbeciles. Children, with their immature minds, might not be able to understand the abstract. You can't tell a child that “a million” is the same as “a thousand thousands” because children don't understand what a thousand is either. However, I'm sure that an adult Jew, even in 2000BC, could understand large numbers if they were explained to him.

Such a solution also casts aspersion on the intelligence of God. Knowing that God is infinitely wise, as this author claims to believe, could He have not explained the creation in such a way that even the unscientific Hebrews would understand? I would direct you to the numerous examples in the New Testament, where Jesus was quite capable of explaining deep spiritual truths in terms that people could understand. He used parable, simile, and metaphor but it was always clear that He was doing so. If the creation were billions of years, God could have easily said, “The days of the creation are like the grains of sand in the sea. No one can number them.” Note the use of the word “like” denoting simile. It's absurd to believe that God lacked the ability to explain the creation without resorting to fairy tales.

This brings me to my final point. Such a solution casts aspersion on the character of God. The parent who tells his child the zoo is closed is a liar. That's no surprise because we are sinners and we lie. God, however, cannot lie. If God created the world over billions of years but said He did it in six days, then He would be lying! Like the lazy parent who knows saying the zoo is closed is the easiest way to tell his child they're not going to the zoo, to claim that God chose a 6 day creation story because it was the easiest way to tell His children about the creation is to call God a liar!

The ancients were not children. God is not stupid. God does not lie. If God had created the universe over billions of years, He would have told us that. He did not have to say “six days.” He didn't have to resort to “the zoo is closed.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

It was sad to hear the news of of the passing of the great American, Andy Griffith. Since his unfortunate passing came so close to the 4th, I thought it best to pay him a tribute to him while celebrating our Nation's Independence.

How fitting!

Farewell to Mr. Griffith. God bless America!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

So Who Are The Crackpots?

Creationists are often called crackpots, nuts, and wackos. A usual theme in the insults is that we're “science haters” or believers in “pseudoscience.” I've commented before that many evolutionists are completely unable to carry on a rational discussion without resorting to insults but my usual response is to ignore them. If I bothered to respond to every insult directed at creationists, it would consume my entire blog. And I think a blog that posts nothing but answers to insults would be about as interesting as listening to a 9 year old saying, “Nuh uh!” Having said that, though, I came across an article that casts a new light on these types of insults.

While doing my usual research (I like to call surfing the net, “research”), I came across a survey from 2008 that discussed public attitudes toward UFOs. It included some interesting demographics about the respondents. It seems only 38% of evangelical protestants say it is either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that intelligent life exists on other planets. However, 66% of the people with no religious preference said the same thing. Given that information and the obvious attitudes of each group toward the Bible, one could reasonably conclude that the more likely someone is to believe the Bible, the less likely he is to believe in UFOs. Furthermore, less religious (or non-religious) people are almost certainly evolutionists so, by connecting the dots, I think it's safe to say that people who believe in UFOs are probably evolutionists.

Do you think I'm generalizing? Perhaps I am a little – but only a little. Evolutionists have a real stake in the existence of extra terrestrials. If abiogenesis occurs naturally, and if the earth is not unique in the universe, then it's almost a statistical certainty that life has sprouted up many different times throughout the vast universe. The late Carl Sagan made this very point and the group SETI has spent millions of dollars listening for alien radio signals which evolutionists are sure must be out there.

There are also shows like the History Channel's, Ancient Aliens. These shows interview “scholars” and “scientists” who engage in their own brand of pseudoscience and claim that ancient cultures had frequent contact with extraterrestrials. These same “experts” often attribute miraculous events described in the Bible to encounters with aliens. For example, they claim Elijah's ascent into heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11) is actually his being taken away in a space ship. Now, I haven't heard any of these people state their position on Biblical creation but I doubt they hold to the same “ordinary meaning” of the Bible that most creationists have. It's more likely that they're evolutionists.

Still another evolutionists who notably believed in aliens is the late Dr. Francis Crick. This Nobel prize laureate and co-discoverer of DNA understood that abiogenesis is so absurdly improbable that it couldn't have happened multiple times. He proposed the theory of “directed panspermia” which claims that life began somewhere else in the universe and was intentionally planted here by aliens.

The same tendency for UFO nuts to be evolutionists exhibits itself in other kook-theories as well. Cryptozoology is an obscure “scientific” discipline which aims to “study” elusive species like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. It escapes me, though, how anyone can “study” a species that can't be found. Why not study Leprechauns? Anyway, cryptozoology also has a firm foundation in evolution. Laypeople have suggested that Big Foot is a missing link. The more “official” position (I chuckle when using words like “scientific,” “study,” or “official position” when discussing Big Foot) is that Big Foot is another large primate and so is an evolutionary cousin to humans, similar to the way gorillas are. The Loch Ness Monster is claimed by some to be a plesieosaur-like species that became trapped in the Loch when it was cut off from the sea. A small population of the critters has survived unchanged in its little niche for 65 million years.

Now, I realize my observations are anecdotal and not a scientific samplings of evolutionists' attitudes. Nevertheless, I'm reasonably confident in my opinion. If I were a betting man, I would be willing to wager that a lopsided majority of UFO-ists are evolutionists as are believers in Big Foot/Nessie. I would even say the same of believers in ghosts. And don't forget that we're certain that the president of the Flat Earth Society also happens to be an evolutionist. Do you see a pattern here?

Please note carefully that I've been careful to not say the majority of evolutionists believe in Big Foot or UFOs. Instead, I'm voicing my opinion that the majority of people who believe in these crackpot theories are evolutionists. Do you see the difference? So you may be wondering where I'm going with this. Am I making a guilt-by-association argument? No. Am I making a sweeping generalization to imply that the few evolutionists who believe in UFOs represent all evolutionists? No. More than anything I guess I'm taking enjoyment in linking fancy unto fancy. I think it's just funny and ironic that the most outrageous beliefs are held by the people who accuse creationists of being scientifically illiterate. Who's the crackpot now?

Kidding aside for a moment, I think there are a few things we can take away from this: First, I think it's clear that “junk science” does not appeal to creationists. If it did, the ranks of UFO and Big Foot enthusiasts would be flush with creationists.

Second, no group is represented by its extremists. Unless evolutionists want to associate themselves with Big Foot hunters, they need to stop holding up people like the convicted Kent Hovind as an icon of creationists. At least most creationists are honest enough to denounce the bad behavior or weak arguments of its members. People like Sagan are mainstream evolutionists and their cohorts seem reluctant to speak a word against them.

Finally, we should acknowledge that beliefs have consequences. I've seen the photos and videos of UFOs. Is that really the best evidence for the existence of aliens? Why then do so many people believe in life on other planets? I say it's merely a consequence of believing in evolution because the theory virtually demands there must be. I've written before that a worldview that rejects God and the Bible is not rational. A person who rejects the Bible is foolish; it's no wonder then that he should embrace foolish beliefs.