googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: July 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Acts 20:28: The Blood of God or the Blood of His Son? An Argument of Exceptions

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28

I was online the other day, discussing this verse. It's one of special, theological importance. A plain reading of this verse shows that God purchased the church, “with His own blood.” Obviously, it was Jesus who shed His blood on the cross so this verse seems to affirm the divinity of Jesus. That is, Jesus is God.

The person with whom I was discussing this verse took exception to that understanding. He resorted to a “mistranslation” argument. I've had dealings with this individual before and his Greek is not really that good. However, in this case, there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the Greek that he was leveraging to bolster his point.

The Greek reads, διὰ (through) τοῦ (the) αἵματος (blood) τοῦ (the) ἰδίου (His own).

The most obvious translation of this verse is the one rendered in most Bibles, “through His own blood.” Another translation, which is a little more awkward in English, is “through the blood which is His own.” But there is still another possibility: “through the blood of His own (Son).”

The latter translation is not the most likely but it is still possible. The question is, which is the intended translation of the three? Since the critic I was conversing with online did not believe Jesus is God, he argued the 3rd translation, the least likely one, is the correct one. He hooted and cheered that even RKBentley, a conservative Christian, acknowledged that “through the blood of His own” had merit as a possible translation. Of course, he ignored that I said it is the less likely one. As far as he was concerned, it is THE translation because Jesus is not God.

From there, we began discussing some other verses that referred to Jesus as God. Here are a few that I cited – please excuse my frequent use of the word, “clearly,” I was making a point:

In John 20:28, Thomas clearly says to Jesus, “The Lord of me and the God of me.”

John 1:1c clearly says, “the Word was God.”

Titus 2:13 clearly says, “the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ”

2 Peter 1:1 clearly says, “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”

In John 10:11, Jesus clearly said, “I AM (ἐγὼ εἰμι) the good shepherd” while Psalm 23:1 clearly says, “Jehovah is my shepherd.”

In Matthew 3:3, John the Baptist said he was preparing the way for the Lord (who is clearly Jesus) just like Isaiah said. Isaiah 40:3 clearly said the prophet will prepare the way for Jehovah.

Joel 2:32 clearly says that whoever calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved. Roman 10:13 clearly says whoever calls upon the name of the Lord (Jesus) will be saved.

Revelation 1:8, we clearly see that God is the Alpha and Omega. In Revelation 1:17, Jesus clearly says He is the first and the last. In Revelation 22:13, we clearly see that the Alpha/Omega and the first/last is the same Person.

In John 5:21, Jesus clearly says He gives life just as the Father gives life.

In John 5:23 Jesus clearly says we should honor Him in the same way we honor the Father

In John 10:30, Jesus clearly said, “I and the Father are one.”

We also have many clear instances of people worshiping Jesus; The man born blind (John 9:38), the magi (Matthew 2:11), the disciples in the boat (Matthew 14:33), et al.

So we see time after time where the Bible clearly identifies Jesus as God. The response from my critic friend online was to cite William Barclay:

But we shall find that on almost every occasion in the New Testament on which Jesus seems to be called God there is a problem either of textual criticism or of a translation. In almost every case we have to discuss which of two readings is to be accepted or which two possible translations is to be accepted.

Note that Barclay said, “almost every occasion.” If the Bible says even once that Jesus is God, then that would clear up the ambiguous verses but never mind that now. What struck me was that the rebuttal I usually hear to seemingly clear references of Jesus' divinity is to say that the Bible doesn't really mean what it clearly seems to be saying.  Each and every time the Bible seems to identify Jesus as God, they say a more obscure translation of the verse is the correct one.

Is that the best they have? Their only response - ever - is to say, “what that really means is....”  We argue rules and they argue exceptions. How odd it would be if God gave us His revelation in code. How are we expected to understand any part of the Bible if the most ordinary meaning of any verse is never the correct one?

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Appendix: Evidence Against Evolution

Ordinarily, I would never consider a sit com to be representative of any group but I'm going to use a scene from The Big Bang Theory as the backdrop for a discussion about the appendix. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. First, I don't think anyone would argue that a vast majority of evolutionists consider the appendix to be vestigial so it's not like the show misrepresents this attitude. Second, it's just a funny scene and I'm going to exploit it for the sake of making my blog more interesting.


Isn't that hilarious? Anyway, back to business. As I've already said, the appendix is touted by evolutionists as the champion of vestigial organs. The theory of evolution virtually demands that there be vestigial organs and so, when the label of “vestigial” can be attach to some structure, they are quick to trumpet it as evidence for their theory. I cannot recall ever having a discussion of vestigial organs without the appendix being used by evolutionists as an example.

By way of definition, a structure is considered vestigial if it has lost all or most of its original function. Even if the structure has function, it can still be considered vestigial if it doesn't perform its original function. The wings of a bat, for example, could be considered vestigial forelimbs because they are no longer used for walking but are now used for flying. Every definition I've heard of vestigial suffers from a range of weaknesses which I've talked about on my blog before. I'm not going to quibble over the definition of vestigial now. Instead, I'm going to question the idea that the appendix is evidence for evolution at all.

According to evolution, the appendix evolved in some ancestor of humans and once served an important function (or at least it evolved to serve some function). Since we are descended from this supposed ancestor, we have inherited that structure but, over the many generations of mutation and selection leading from the non-human ancestor to us, the appendix has lost its original function. For this reason, it's sometimes called an “evolutionary leftover.”

Humans are not the only creatures with an appendix. Dozens of mammals have appendixes – but not every mammal. Here's where the theory starts to get thorny. According to the theory of common descent, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called “nested-hierarchy” where all the animals which have an appendix also share a common ancestor. The problem is, there is no predictable pattern among the mammals with appendixes. The appendix appears in some species of primates, rodents, and even marsupials but is absent from the intermediate groups linking these species. It's not at all what we would expect if evolution were true.

Failed predictions are usually considered evidence against a scientific theory. However, the fact that the presence of the appendix follows no predictable pattern hardly raises an eyebrow among evolutionists. As is often the case, they invent ad hoc theories to explain the failed prediction. Here is a quote from Science Now:

In a new study, published online this month in Comptes Rendus Palevol, the researchers compiled information on the diets of 361 living mammals, including 50 species now considered to have an appendix, and plotted the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree. They found that the 50 species are scattered so widely across the tree that the structure must have evolved independently at least 32 times, and perhaps as many as 38 times. [Bold added]

Give me a break. The structure “must have” evolved 30+ times? There's another possibility, you know. Namely that the seeming random appearance of an appendix is evidence that the creatures on the “tree of life” are not related in an evolutionary sense. I wonder if the scientists even considered that possibility.

When creatures that aren't closely related share similar features, it's attributed to “convergent evolution.” As the story goes, there is sometimes a “best” solution to make a creature better adapted to its environment and “nature” will happen on that same solution time and time again. In the case of mammal digestion, the appendix must have fit some important need so well that “nature” created one on at least 30 occasions! But that “just so” story, that the appendix evolved so often because it was the “best solution,” stretches credulity if the appendix is now considered vestigial in most of the creatures that have one!

So let's wrap this up: The appendix appears in no discernible pattern on the so called, “tree of life” which calls into question the entire concept of common descent.  We have to believe the appendix is so important that it evolved independently 30+ times but it's also so unimportant that most creatures that have one don't need it.

Hmmm.  Please explain to me again: how is the appendix evidence for evolution?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man's avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Original Poem, Katherine Lee Bates, 1893

Monday, July 1, 2013

Discovery: 10 Examples of an Evolutionist Spouting Nonsense

Some media cater to what could be called, “pop science.” They present shows and articles on scientific subjects but package them in a way that is interesting to an unscientific public. I understand this happens and I'm usually not too critical on the groups that produce pop science so long as the information is correct. When the subject is evolution, however, I've usually found that the information presented is garbage.

This is the case in an online article published by Discovery called, “10 Examples of Natural Selection.” The piece is so poorly written that I could make a series of 10 posts – one on each example – explaining how wrong is the information contained in each example. I won't do that, though. Instead, I'm going to merely point out a few of the more egregious errors since these are the same errors that I've seen evolutionists make before. Below, we'll look at just the first two paragraphs. Text that is blue and italicized is quoted directly from the article.

First, the article terribly conflates natural selection with evolution. The title of the article says it is intended to be 10 examples of natural selection, yet the author starts by talking about evolution.  Read it for yourself:

When we think of evolution, we usually think of primates evolving into humans, and of the evolutionary changes that were made over thousands and thousands of years...”

Yes! That's exactly what I talked about in a recent post. The most common understanding of the word “evolution” is ape-to-man or dino-to-bird. Scientists have a more technical meaning and they want to harp on the fact that the majority of people don't use the word the way evolutionists have defined it.

But the truth is evolution is at work all the time.

In this context, the author is using “evolution” to mean “populations change.” He doesn't mean that one kind of animal changes into another kind of animal “all the time” - he's merely taking the word most people understand to mean “common descent” and using it to mean any kind of “change.” It's equivocation at its worst.

Sometimes the changes are small and appear insignificant at first glance, but they all play a part in natural selection and the survival of the species.”

Did you notice it? The author has now slipped in the term, “natural selection”? He was not careful to distinguish between evolution and natural selection. He starts out talking about one, then starts talking about the other. If he went on to explain the difference, that would be one thing. He doesn't.

But natural selection doesn't lead to the development of a new species. In most cases, the process simply allows a species to better adapt to its environment ...”

I'm not sure what this person means by saying that natural selection doesn't lead to the development of a new species. Does he mean, “never” or “not always”? Never mind. Even as a lay person, I understand that natural selection does indeed allow a species to adapt to its environment. It does this by selecting from existing traits only those that are conducive to the environment (see my last post on this subject). However, this author doesn't seem to understand how it works. See here how he explains it:

In most cases, the process simply allows a species to better adapt to its environment by changing the genetic make up from one generation to the next.[bold added]

I'm not sure if there's a technical meaning to the term, “genetic make up.” If he means that existing genetic variation is continuously reshuffled to create the best possible combination of traits, then OK. If he intends “genetic make up” to mean “new genetic material,” then we have a problem. Natural selection does not create anything new. It can only select from existing traits. But I'm pretty sure this author means to say that natural selection creates new genetic material. Look at his next point:

And the process is actually quite predictable. If a species lacks a certain trait that will allow it to survive, there are two options: Either the species dies out or it develops the missing trait.

There are so many errors contained in these two statements that I don't think I can adequately cover them all. Still, I will try.  

Mutations are random. The process of evolution is not "predictable."  If dinos had really changed into birds, no one living contemporaneously with the dinos could have predicted it. Of course, maybe the author means that “natural selection” is quite predictable which has a little more substance. I might predict that gray mice are better suited to wooded environment than white mice. But I still couldn't say with certainty what effect something like introducing a new predator might have on the indigenous species there. Even natural selection is not “quite predictable.”

But the worst error lies in the comment, If a species lacks a certain trait that will allow it to survive, there are two options: Either the species dies out or it develops the missing trait  If a species lacks a certain trait, why must it necessarily die out unless the trait evolves? Why can't it just continue in stasis? What trait are humans waiting to acquire, for example? Are we doomed for extinction or are we “working” to acquire this necessary trait? This is a classic example of bifurcation.

What makes it the worst, though, is that this wording gives the impression that evolution is a directed process. If a species needs some particular trait, somehow, natural selection will work toward acquiring that trait.  That's absurd! Yet time and time again, this author gives the impression that natural selection will do just that. For example, while discussing the Rat Snake, the author said, As a result, rat snakes have had to adapt to their local environments in an effort to avoid detection and hunt more effectively. In the case of nylon-eating bacteria, the author said, This is a very simple example of natural selection, where the most basic forms of life can adapt to whatever food the environment offers. Isn't that a hoot? According to this logic, if only birdseed is available in some area, then the crocodiles there can adapt to eat birdseed!

The hilarious quotes keep coming when the author talks about humans. He begins with the following:

Are humans still evolving? The simple answer is yes, even if the changes are not obvious.”

Wait a minute. I thought we were talking about examples of natural selection. You can see yet again how careless evolutionists shamelessly conflate natural selection with evolution as though they are the same thing. Tsk, tsk. If this were the only time I've heard that, I might chalk it up to misspeaking. However, this is rather ordinary for evolutionists and I've discussed it many times before.

One suggested example of “natural selection/evolution” among humans is how people with “sickle hemoglobin” are resistant to malaria. As before, the author hints that the trait was somehow created by a need when he says, The mutation probably happened over hundreds of generations as a result of the constant exposure to malaria and people contracting and surviving it. That sounds rather Lamarckian, don't you think? That's about as ridiculous as believing my children could inherit my resistance to chicken pox since people have been contracting chicken pox for thousands of years!

Besides that, “sickle hemoglobin” is better known as “sickle cell disease” or “sickle cell anemia.” Granted, it's true that someone who suffers from sickle cell is resistant to malaria but sickle cell comes with its own list of complications. Sufferers of sickle cell usually have life expectancies much less than normal. And by way of analogy, consider this: if I lost both arms, I would be resistant to handcuffs. That might be preferable if I faced the possibility of spending life in prison if I were ever arrested but all other things being equal, I'd rather have my arms.

I could go on but this post is too long already. Let me close by reminding you of the quote I cited recently from Laurence Moran of TalkOrigins.

Scientists such as myself must share the blame for the lack of public understanding of science. We need to work harder to convey the correct information. Sometimes we don't succeed very well but that does not mean that we are dishonest. On the other hand, the general public, and creationists in particular, need to also work a little harder in order to understand science. Reading a textbook would help.”

Mr. Moran, I don't think we should “share” the blame; If the public is confused about evolution, all the blame could be laid squarely at the feet of your cohorts for their intentional conflation and equivocation when discussing the subject. Furthermore, I'm skeptical that reading a textbook would help if it were written with the same attention to details as this article.