googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: September 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Could It Be More Plain?

A while back, I wrote about the plain meaning of the words of the Bible. Many Christians want to believe the Bible but seem to exhibit a greater confidence in the opinions of scientists whose theories contradict the plain words of the Bible. Rather then call the Bible wrong, these Christians assume that the Bible simply doesn't mean what it says. They allege that the creation account in Genesis is a “story” akin to a metaphor or analogy. What is worse, they not only believe that a metaphorical interpretation was intended, they further claim the original readers (the fledgling nation of Israel) would have immediately understood it to be figurative! It's truly incredible.

In English, there are certain clues that alert the reader to when grammatical devices are being used. For example, when a person reads the word, “like,” he should be on the look out for simile (he runs like the wind). Equative verbs that compare two different objects identifies metaphor (his car is his baby). Assigning anthropomorphic characteristics to concepts is personification (Reality is a cruel mistress). Get it? So where are the literary clues in Genesis? If the passage is “easily understood” to be non-literal, there surely must be some grammatical device we can point to.

Of course, Hebrew does have some poetic devices not used in English. One device is a type of alliteration where each passage begins with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalms 119 is the most complete example of this. Another type of Hebrew poetry is where the author repeats the same point using slightly different words. Psalm 91:4 says, He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Covering us with His feathers is not much different than taking us under His wing. Also, a buckler is just another word for a shield. Curiously, neither of these devices are used in Genesis 1 or 2.

I've discussed this issue more than a few times with many, many people who hold the non-literal view. I ask them earnestly to clearly explain the literary construction in Genesis that helps them identify it as figurative and to give me a few examples of where else it is used in the Bible. They almost invariably retreat to a position of, “well, science has proven it can't be literal so it must be figurative.” You can see how that is not persuasive. Neither does it explain why the ancients would have understood it to be figurative because they did not have the “benefit” of modern, scientific theories of origins. They would have interpreted it “plainly” as should we.

But to those people still who hold a figurative interpretation, let me ask a question: What if God had intended Genesis to “really” mean six days? How could He have written it any more plainly? Think about this for a moment: Each day enumerates specific creative acts by God and the days are clearly delineated with the phrase “evening and morning” and identified with an ordinal number (first day, second day, etc.) Assuming for a moment it's not literal, I'm not sure how it would be substantially different if God had truly meant it to be literal.

Obviously anyone can read the creation account for himself but let me sum it up in paraphrase. The creation account reads something like this:

On the first day (during the day and the night) God did this...
On the second day (during the day and the night) God did this...
So forth until the seventh day when God rested (ceased creating).

That all sounds pretty factual to me. If the plain meaning of the words in Genesis 1 cannot be understood to mean what they clearly say, then no part of the Bible can be believed with certainty. If God did not create the world in 6 days, then how do I know Jesus rose on the 3rd day? How do I even know He literally “rose”? How do I even know if Jesus was a literal person? If the words of the Bible don't mean what words ordinarily mean, than the entire Bible is meaningless!

If I had written the account with the intention of making sure it would be understood to be literal, I'm not sure what more I could have said except perhaps to add a qualifier: “these were not metaphoric days but real, ordinary days!”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Some People Aren't Paying Their Fair Share

After months of listening to Democrats whine about Romney not releasing all of his tax returns, we now get to listen to Democrats whine about Romney's tax return. There's really no surprise about what was in his return, was there? I mean, we all knew he's very rich and that most of what he makes now is income from the investments he's made in the past. He paid an effective tax rate of around 14% ($2MM taxes on $14MM income) which is typical for investment income. What is also not a surprise is how liberals are using Romney's returns as a prop in their class-warfare rhetoric.

I've never learned to sympathize with the liberal idea of fairness. Obama has talked ad nausuem about making the rich “pay their fair share” as though the rich haven't been paying their fair share already. According to, The top 10 percent of income earners paid 71 percent of all federal income taxes in 2009 though they earned 43 percent of all income. The bottom 50 percent paid 2 percent of income taxes but earned 13 percent of total income. About half of tax filers paid no federal income tax at all.” I just can't get my head around the idea that it's “fair” for 10% of the people to pay 3/4 of all the taxes while 1/2 of the people aren't paying any.

One “fix” Obama has suggested is the so-called “Buffet Rule” where millionaires would be required to pay the same tax rate as “everyone else.” That's rather laughable since we've already seen that 1/2 of the people already don't pay any taxes. But besides that, why must “fairness” be accomplished by increasing the tax rate on millionaires' investments? Why not reduce the rate on working people's income to 14%? Better yet, why not make EVERYONE pay a flat tax of 14% of their income? That would certainly be the most fair thing.

The purpose of the tax code is supposed to be providing revenue to the federal government. However, the Feds see the tax code as an opportunity to engage in social engineering. The want to bludgeon the rich with abusive taxes and then hold themselves up as champions of the poor. Liberal Democrats are bringing back the caste system and want to create a perpetually poor voting base which is totally dependent on the charity of the political aristocracy. Tyrants!! Every one of them is a tyrant.

There's an old saying that when you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can count on the support of Paul. The current level of class-warfare goes well beyond that. Democrats are telling Paul to hate Peter.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jon Stewart Asks DNC Delegates About Tolerance

It's impossible to make liberals appear any more foolish than they already are. However, whenever an opportunity presents itself to show just how foolish they can be, I'm more than happy to oblige. Jon Stewart, who is himself quite liberal, has shown that at least he a little more keenly aware of the hypocrisy inherent in the liberal worldview.

In this short video clip, two of Stewart's “reporters” interviewed some of the delegates at the recent DNC. They're happy to boast that they are the “big tent” party of tolerance. Yeah, right! Just listen to how tolerant they are of people who don't share their political views (sorry about the video quality, BTW).

Like I said, they make themselves look foolish. What more can I add except to say this is exactly what I've been talking about. Liberalism is the embodiment of contradiction. Militant pursuit of tolerance virtually demands that a person be intolerant.

Thanks, Mr. Stewart, for a good laugh. Although, when you really think about it, it's sort of sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hebrews 11: Faith or Wishful Thinking?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

A lot of people confuse “faith” with “blind faith” or “wishful thinking.” Archie Bunker once said, “Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe.” Archie never failed to get a laugh but, in this case, I can't say that I endorse his theology.

Hebrews 11 gives us a very different impression of faith then Archie Bunker's. The opening passage – taken from the KJV – describes faith as the “substance” of things hoped for and the “evidence” of things not seen. Other translations use equally concrete terms: words like, “assurance,” “conviction,” and “confidence.” Faith is not a tentative concept where the believer simply “hopes” or “wishes” something to be true. Faith means certainty.

Hebrews 11 makes two statements about faith.

1) It is the substance of things hoped for.
2) It is the evidence of things not seen.

This might sound a little cryptic at first but the epistle writer spends the rest of the chapter explaining what is meant by each of these. In this post, we'll dissect some of the examples.

Verse 3 begins a discussion about how the world was formed – by “the word of God” (ῥῆμα, (rhēma) “the spoken word”). The creation was an event that no one witnessed. How can we know what happened if we didn't see it happen? Many scientists today observe processes that are occurring in the present and use these to extrapolate what happened in the past. They are, quite literally, using the things we see to try to understand the things we didn't see.

Hebrews 11:3 tells us that exactly the opposite is true. The universe was not made by the things that we can see. God created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing). John 1:3 attests, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The things that God created includes not only time, matter, and space, but also the natural laws that operate within them. Natural laws are a part of the creation; they are not the cause of the creation.

So even though we weren't there in the beginning, we can know with confidence how the universe was created. It is not blind faith. It is not wishful thinking. It is a certainty; an assurance. We know it is true because it has been revealed to us by the One who was there. By faith, we have evidence about an event we did not see.

Likewise, by faith, we can also have certainty in things that have not yet happened, that is, “things hoped for.” The word translated in the KJV as “substance” is the Greek word, ὑπόστασις (hypostasis). In the Bible, it only occurs here but it was a common word used in business documents. It's literally a contract or guarantee. It's an absolute promise that what has been stated will happen.

Hebrews 11:7 says that God warned Noah about the coming judgment. Even though the Flood had not yet happened, Noah built the Ark in faith, knowing with certainty that it would come. Since God said it would happen, it was a certainty that the world would flood. Noah was as sure about the coming Flood as he was about anything. Because of his faith in God's word, Noah and his family were delivered through the Flood.

The chapter mentions several other notable characters of the Old Testament. This chapter has been called “the Faith Hall of Fame.” In each case, these men and women of old were obedient to God, knowing by faith that the promises He made to them would come to pass. Hebrews 11:39a says these people “gained approval” by their faith (NASB). Yet, in their lifetimes, none of them received the promise in which they hoped. It was not simply “faith” that saved these people but rather it was their faith in the promise of what was to come.  What they believed in the most would come centuries after they lived.

People of the Old Testament were saved the same way we are – by faith in Jesus. The characters mentioned in Hebrews 11 could not know Jesus the same way we know Him. Nevertheless, they believed in the Messiah God had promised all the way back in Genesis 3:16, the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent.

Matthew 24:35 says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. If you are certain the sun will rise tomorrow, you can be even more certain that God's word is sure. The word of God is not equivocal. If He said it, He meant it. Because of His revelation, I have incontrovertible evidence about things I did not see: things like the creation, the Fall, and the Flood. I also have absolute assurance about things that have not yet happened: like the return of Christ and His promise of eternal life to all who believe.

I don't think; I know!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Alternative Media Strikes Again

There's a reason I call the mainstream media the “alternative media.” Most TV news shows, cable news shows, liberal news sites, and many newspapers have simply demonstrated they are not credible sources of news. On Wednesday, 9/12, I blogged about the assaults on our embassies in the Middle East. That's news. That's what Americans need to hear about. Well, all the rest of that day and yesterday, the media spends it's time not covering the events in the Middle East but attacking the timing and tone of Mitt Romney's condemnation of the attacks and his criticism of President Obama!
Under the headline, “Mitt Romney Response To Libya, Egypt Attacks Called 'Irresponsible,' 'Craven,' 'Ham-Handed',” the Huffington Post provided some of the following quotes:
The Romney campaign drew fire on Wednesday morning for issuing a blistering statement condemning the American embassy in Egypt for speaking against an incendiary anti-Muslim film, even though the embassy made the statement before any attacks had taken place. NBC's Chuck Todd, for instance, called the statement "irresponsible" and a "bad mistake." ABC's Jake Tapper said that Romney's attack "does not stand up to simple chronology."
When Romney appeared in a press conference, reporters had the chance to ask him substantive questions about the crisis brewing in the Middle East. Instead, they wasted the entire interview prodding him on his criticism of Obama. Here are some of the “tough” questions he was asked:
REPORTER #1 (male): The statement from the President was very toughly worded statement last night. Do you regret the tone at all, given what we know now?

REPORTER # 2 (female): Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events, really, had unfolded overnight was appropriate to be weighing in as this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

REPORTER (male) #3: You talk about mixed signals. The world is watching. Isn't this itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time when Americans are being killed? Shouldn't politics stop- [garbled]

REPORTER (female) #4: Governor, some people have said that you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Um, do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening? 

REPORTER #5 (male): If you had known last night that the ambassador died, and, obviously, I'm gathering you did not know- If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued such a strongly issued statement? 

REPORTER #6: How specifically, Governor Romney, would a President Romney have handled the situation differently than President Obama? [Finally, some substance]

Are you freaking kidding me?! On the anniversary of 9/11, two US embassies were attacked in the Middle East and four US citizens were killed!! Do these reporters really think the first questions on the public's mind is whether Romney was a little too hard on Obama for the administration's early handling of the situation? 

I'm not a news guy but let me offer a little help: “US Embassies Attacked in Middle East”; “War on Terror Not Over”; “Al Qaeda Suspected in Organizing Riots that Killed 4 US Officials.” These are the headlines we need to be reading. What is President Obama going to do about it? What would President Romney do about it? These are the questions we need to be asking. Questions like those above and headlines like, “Romney Shows He's Out of His Depth in Foreign Policy” are a waste of our time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We're Still at War with Terrorists

I made the decision to not blog anything yesterday, on 9/11. It wasn't because I don't think the date was important but it was out of a sense of reverence. To simply say, “we won't forget,” is obvious to the extreme and was posted on 1,000,000 other blogs already. I also didn't want to risk saying anything that might sound like, “Happy 9/11.” In the end, I thought it best to leave the day to everyone's own, private reflection.

Last night, The History Channel played video footage reconstructing the time line of the events on that dreadful morning. It was stirring. I went to sleep recalling many of the same feelings I felt 11 years ago. Then I woke up this morning to the terrible news that two US embassies were attacked in the Middle East and the US Ambassador to Libya was murdered along with three of his staffers!

Maybe I should have said something yesterday because I think people are indeed forgetting that there are still terrorists out there who hate us. Many people actually seem to have a pre-9/11 mentality where they believe radical Muslims can be reasoned with. As a mob rioted outside of the US Embassy in Cairo, protesting a YouTube movie critical of Muhammad, the Embassy officials actually sympathized with the protesters. They issued this statement:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Perhaps I shouldn't be too hasty to judge because it's possible that Embassy officials were afraid for their lives and released this statement in hopes is would quell the mob's anger. It seems to me to be counterproductive, though, since this statement might embolden the rioters by admitting the the movie's creators were out of line. Even after the the mob stormed the Embassy's grounds, took down and burned the American flag, and raised a pro-Muslim standard in its place, the Embassy officials tweeted that their previous statement still stands.

However, after a rocket attack on the US Embassy in Libya killed 4, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, got tough – well, sort of. In still another press release, she seemed to apologized yet again:

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

Yeah, Hillary, that's very clear. You deplore attacks on religious beliefs (except at the DNC where they booed God) but that's not an excuse for violence. OK, where in that statement do you actually condemn the attack on our Embassy?

President Obama finally got around to putting out the “official,” White House statement. He disavowed the Embassy's statement saying it does not reflect the views of the United States. Really, Mr. President? Our US Embassies don't represent the United States? I guess your Secretary of State doesn't represent your administration either? Anyway, the President said:

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

At least in this statement the President condemned the attack before taking a swipe at the makers of the video. Oh, and by the way, it doesn't escape my notice that Republican, Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney condemned the attack before the President.

I'm not the President, of course, and it's hard for me to say how best we should respond going forward. However, after having seen the “blame America first” attitude on grand display so far, I'm not optimistic. The President has said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. He calls acts of terrorism “man made disasters” or, in the case of the Ft. Hood shooting, “work place violence.” The entire Administration refuses to use the words “Islamic extremists” or “radical Muslims.” Democrats will call conservative groups like the Tea Party, “domestic terrorists” but they refuse to use the label for true terrorists!

The anti-American attitudes that has brewed in the Middle East for decades still simmers. Democrats can apologize until they're blue in the face but that won't quell the anger. Liberals can turn a blind eye and call each act of violence an “isolated incident” but that won't stop the violence. And let's be honest, it's not a coincidence that these riots happened on 9/11. We are still at war with terrorists.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Does Natural Selection Create Diversity?

It's very common for evolutionists to claim that natural selection creates diversity. I could provide a hundred sources where they say this but I chose one succinct one to include here:

After spending time on the islands, he [Charles Darwin] soon developed a theory that would contradict the creation of man and imply that all species derived from common ancestors through a process called natural selection. Natural selection is considered to be the biggest factor resulting in the diversity of species and their genomes. (source)

On the one hand, I can understand the confusion: from a single bear-kind, we have 8 modern species of bear. That's diversification, right? But is natural selection the tool that creates diversity? According to evolutionists, it is. I think they're more than a little confused. There's no doubt that part of their problem is that they notoriously conflate evolution and natural selection. It's compounded by the fact that people who reject the Bible necessarily hold irrational beliefs. It's typical for Bible critics to have opinions in direct contradiction to reality.

Here's the problem: natural selection removes unsuitable traits from a population. That's all it ever does. So it's rather bizarre to believe that removing traits can create diversity. To illustrate the utter folly of such a notion, I will appeal once again to the most famous of all examples of evolution – the peppered moth. If you have a population of light and dark colored moths, and if birds continuously ate the light colored moths, what would you have left? That's right, you would eventually have a population of only dark moths. You see, the population is less diverse than it was; a population of light/dark moths becomes a population of dark moths.

Here's still one more, real world example. A while back, I blogged about a Science Daily article where scientists studied the effect on the population of indigenous lizards when predatory lizards were released onto a group of islands. The predatory lizards began eating the smaller lizards and, in a few months, it was noticed that the surviving lizards tended to have shorter legs. They speculated that the short-legged lizards could climb better and so could escape the predatory lizards. Here's a quote from the article:

Evolutionary biology is by its nature an historical science, but the combination of microevolutionary experimentation and macroevolutionary historical analysis can provide a rich understanding about the genesis of biological diversity.

Perhaps the researcher cannot see the absurdity of this statement. The population previously contained long and short-legged lizards. After the experiment, the islands contained short-legged lizards. Once again, the population is less diverse.

Natural selection cannot explain the origin of diversity. Instead, it only acts upon diversity already present in the creature. It's easy to see, for example, how natural selection can select short-legged lizards from a population which has both long and short legs. However, natural selection doesn't explain how the population came to have both long and short legs in the first place!

Biblical creation explains wonderfully what we observe. God created diversity in the original kinds. Just like two mutt dogs can have pups of all shapes, sizes, and colors, so too could the ancestral kinds on the Ark have offspring that looked different from themselves. Natural selection acted on this diversity and turned varied creatures into specialized creatures, well adapted to their environment. God created diversity; natural selection created species.

I would dare say that evolutionists don't even understand their own theory. The only candidate that could possibly add diversity to a population is mutation. Theoretically, mutations can add feet to fish. Mutations might make short legs become long legs. Mutations (as the theory goes) could explain the origin of diversity. Once mutations have introduced diversity, only then does natural selection begin her methodical task of removing the unsuitable features. Mutations are the hero of evolution. Natural selection is the opposite of evolution.

But as I've already said, evolutionists conflate natural selection and evolution. The addition of novel traits to a population (i.e. diversity) is evolution. The removal of unsuitable traits is natural selection. If evolutionists want to demonstrate the origin of diversity, they need to spend their time talking about trait-adding mutations. However, trait-adding mutations are exceedingly rare - if they exist at all - so they really have no examples they can put forth as evidence for their theory. Therefore, all they can do is talk about is natural selection. They can say that natural selection creates diversity. We know it can't. They can say that light/dark moths becoming dark moths is evolution. We know it isn't. They can say natural selection is evolution. Like I said, they deny reality.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day 2012

To many people, Labor Day seems to be one of those holidays that means little more than a day off work. I'm sure I'm not the first one to notice the irony in celebrating working people by having a day without work but it is what it is.

Anyway, I've come to view Labor Day as a day to assess our freedom. The freedom to work for money is a sign of liberty. To choose how to invest your time and effort , to earn a paycheck, and to spend the money as you wish are things that free people do. Conversely, to be forced to work and then turn over your earnings to someone else is the very definition of slavery. I fear we're becoming a nation of slaves.

As I write this, our nation is $16 trillion in debt and we're adding more than a trillion more dollars every year. The only way the debt will ever be paid is by taxing future generations. A child born today will bear a portion of that debt that totals more than the child will earn in his entire lifetime so the debt is generational and will be an immediate liability owed by our children, and their children, and even their children. Every dime we're spending now will be taken from our great grand children's paychecks. They will be working for our benefit. By definition, they will be our slaves and will have to work to pay our bills even though we'll be dead and gone.

We should view Labor Day as a type of Independence Day. Let's make a vow to stop deficit spending and stop feeding the leviathan that is our federal government. Let each person enjoy the fruit of his own labor instead of turning over a larger and larger part of his paycheck in the form of taxes. More importantly, let our grandchildren do the same.