googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Selective outrage by the liberal media and its consequences

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of many mainstream media. Everyone knows most cable news channels have a liberal slant. You know what, though? I would even watch liberal news shows if they presented the news. What we have instead is a bunch of channels presenting half-truths and radical opinions with the objective of smearing republicans and excusing democrats. They're not news shows – they're the propaganda arm of the DNC.

A recent example was this non-response of a CNN panel to the Kathy Griffin photo/video showing her holding the severed head of Donald Trump. Jake Tapper introduces the clip calling Griffin's photo, “disgusting” and saying, “it's hard to imagine how anyone would think that's appropriate.” As he is saying this, though, you can hear him chuckle so obviously he's not overly disgusted and certainly not outraged. This is about as harsh a criticism the panel can muster.

Next, Tapper quotes Donald Trump, Jr as saying, “This is now considered to be acceptable discourse by the left,” and turns it over to his panel for discussion. Molly (I don't even know her last name because most CNN contributors are that unimportant to me) and Tapper share another chuckle before she admits, “I have a hard time bringing myself to even care about something like this.” She even goes so far as to blame the Trumps for making a big deal about this saying it, “speaks to the need to see themselves as the victim.” The remaining two panelists added nothing except to say that there are bigger issues than Kathy Griffin.

There were no calls to tone down the rhetoric. There were no pleas for people to come together. It was just pompous rebukes by liberal elitists telling the Trumps to stop whining.

I don't watch CNN. I guess most people don't watch CNN. Conan O'Brien said the only people who watch CNN are the people who clean the offices at CNN. Now that's funny. Anyway, the only reason I'm writing about this is to draw attention to the precise reason I don't watch shows like CNN.

Most people will remember from before the election, the leaked audio tape of Donald Trump joking with a male reported. In a high school like display of machismo, in what was thought to be a private conversation, Trump bragged that women will let a celebrity grope and kiss them. For months there was non-stop coverage about how Trump is a sexual predator and misogynist. CNN has held on to it like a dog with a bone. Now, a high-profile celebrity, in an intentional attempt to incite, holds up a terrorist-like image of her holding the bloody head of the President, and CNN says... meh.

The left calls Trump divisive. That's a laugh. They see an evil motive when Trump doesn't attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner. They shout “unfair” that the President gets two scoops of ice cream. But they can't even bring themselves to care about Griffin's incendiary display. //RKBentley shakes his head//

The selective outrage of liberal media has consequences that reach far beyond a lack of viewers. Kathy Griffin recently held a press conference which, in my opinion, was probably her funniest performance ever. In it she lamented that Trump is a bully who is trying to ruin her career. Hilarious, right? I mean, come on – Griffin poses with the President's severed head and Trump responds in a Tweet saying she is sick and should be ashamed. Now she's the victim? Excuse me while I have a chortle.

Griffin also expressed her concerns over the death threats she's been getting because of this. Here's the problem: for months, conservative pundits like Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and Milo Yiannopoulos have received real threats when they appear somewhere to speak. These aren't anonymous letters or emails – they're rioters who wear masks and burn buildings. Black Lives Matter protesters march in the streets and chant they want dead cops now! The mainstream fake news media simply makes excuses and tries to distance the violence from the ideology. The typical liberal commentator usually starts with something like, “I don't condone violence but....”

The violent rhetoric has reached a fevered pitch and it's all coming from the left. The response from the right has been relatively mild. How far will CNN and news outlets let the line be pushed? If the political rhetoric needs be toned down, they need to stop providing cover to the purveyors of the worst hate speech.

There have been other folks on CNN who have been a little more firm in their condemnation of Griffin but her actions were so far over the line they simply realize there's no excusing it this time. I think if there hadn't been a history of complicity between liberal media and the Democrat party, Griffin might have thought twice before doing the photo shoot. When the people who are supposed to report the news sit silently by while mobs riot and threaten, it allows the violence to escalate.

CNN, I don't care that no one watches you. I hope you lose more viewers. I hope your station goes bankrupt. I wish I could hurry it along. I'm just sorry that you've endured this long.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why even teach evolution?

I don't have anything against education. As a matter of fact, if I won the lottery and didn't have to work anymore, I'd be a professional student for the rest of my life. I love learning. Some people like to study very narrow subjects – something like Russian literature. These might not be very practical degrees to have when you look for a job but, if you like Russian literature, then go for it. Studying evolution is sort of like studying Russian literature. No, it's actually more like studying Big Foot. There's no practical use to it, really, but if you're interested in pseudo-science, then the theory of evolution is for you. I won't stop you – not that I could anyway – but I do object to the way evolution is being taught in many public schools now.

Several years ago, I wrote about a NY Times article that talked about teaching evolution in the classroom. The article cited a dilemma faced by a FL biology teacher:

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote “Evolution” in the rectangle of light on the screen.
He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium.
If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”

Never mind the Constitutional concerns for a moment, where a government employee sees it as his personal mission to rid his students of a religiously held belief, I'm more interested in this idea that learning evolution is somehow critical to kids' education. Bill Nye, my arch-nemesis (at least, my “would be” arch-nemesis,” if he knew I existed), is on record for saying the following:

[T]here are more people in the world — another billion people all trying to use the world’s resources. And the threat and consequences of climate change are more serious than ever, so we need as many people engaged in how we’re going to deal with that as possible.... My biggest concern about creationist kids is that they’re compelled to suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills at a time in human history when we need them more than ever.... There are just things about evolution that we should all be aware of, the way we’re aware of where electricity comes from.

I'm just puzzled by this idea that a kid can't understand technology or science unless he believes in evolution. I've seen no evidence, anywhere, to support the idea that people who believe in creation suffer academically (except perhaps being discriminated against by teachers). Furthermore, I've never seen a compelling example of how a belief in evolution is critical to any other field of study.

I've linked before to an article by Dr. Jerry Bergman: a survey of college text books showed that most barely discuss evolution. The anatomy and physiology text books examined didn't mention evolution at all. Of the colleges surveyed in Ohio and Michigan, biology majors were required to only take one class in evolution. Also from the article, National Academy of Science Member and renown carbene chemist, Professor emeritus Dr. Philip Skell of Pennsylvania State University (see Lewis, 1992), did a survey of his colleagues that were “engaged in non-historical biology research, related to their ongoing research projects.” He found that the “Darwinist researchers” he interviewed, in answer to the question, “Would you have done the work any differently if you believed Darwin's theory was wrong?” that “for the large number” of persons he questioned, “differing only in the amount of hemming and hawing” was “in my work it would have made no difference.”

If colleges are supposed to be equipping scientists in their various fields of research, they must not think evolution is very important, considering it's barely mentioned. And you can see that even people who work in biology have admitted that evolution isn't really relevant to their research. Consider this too: can anyone name a single invention or technological advance in the last century that hinged upon an understanding of evolution? Maybe somebody could name one but that is dwarfed by the virtual explosion of technology we've seen in the last 100 years that didn't depend on evolution at all!

If evolution is so ancillary to science, if there is no study linking understanding evolution to improved test scores, if evolution is something that kids learn in school but never use again, then why is there this grim determination that students still must learn evolution? We're facing an education crisis where kids lack proficiency in critical skills like reading, math, and history. Why are we wasting time and resources teaching them a skill that is so useless yet still so controversial? Why force public schools into court to defend a sticker in a text book or to remove a teacher who mentions creation? Let's just stop the controversies altogether. I'm not saying, “give equal time to creation.” I'm not saying, “teach the difficulties.” I'm saying stop teaching evolution!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Heidi Baker, drunk in the Spirit?

Anyone who has reads my blog regularly could probably guess that I'm a cessationist. While I don't agree with the continuation of charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc), neither do I usually condemn too harshly people who feel they have these gifts. I believe many people who “speak in tongues,” for example, are likely simply overwhelmed emotionally and are acting out in the same way they've seen others act. It may not be genuine but it may still be sincere. However, there are other people who, I believe, are being deceitful.

I've seen many videos like this but here is another one I've come across recently. It features Heidi Baker acting, “drunk in the Spirit.” The whole notion of acting drunk is rooted from a verse in Acts 2. At Pentecost, when the apostles were gathered together in a room, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a flame of fire and they began speaking in tongues. The apostles were all Galilean but the people gathered there, from many different nations, could understand the apostles in their native language. They were amazed and perplexed by this sign but v. 13 tells us that some mocked them saying, “They are full of sweet wine (aka, “drunk”).” Some people in the charismatic movement understand this verse to mean the apostles must have appeared to be drunk while the Holy Spirit moved them.

I couldn't find a link to the original footage; this one has been edited down to about 20 minutes. Even though it's been edited, there are long segments of uninterrupted footage that are enough to convince me the edited video is likely a fair representation of the whole. As always, I invite you to watch the video for yourself. I would hate to be accused of mischaracterizing Ms. Baker's action. As you watch it, keep an eye out for the following tell-tale signs that make me think she's pretending the whole time.

First, Ms. Baker seems to have trouble standing. Sometimes, she's kneeling with her head against the lectern. Another time, she's lying prostrate on the floor with her hands beside her. Through all of this, though, she never seems to have any trouble keeping the microphone to her mouth. Isn't that interesting? I will admit, there have been a few times in my youth when I drank too much. I remember one time in particular that I couldn't seem to hold my glass upright. It seemed that if I just stood, holding the glass without paying attention, I would let the glass tilt and spill some drink. I wasn't even “falling down” drunk like Ms. Baker seems to be. If I couldn't keep from spilling my drink, I find it incredible she constantly remembered – and was able – to keep the microphone to her mouth.

I noticed too, at the end of the video, you can see the drummer has slipped into position behind her as she starts the invitation. What am I supposed to conclude from that? Does he have the gift of knowing exactly when someone's “anointing” will end? More likely, it was nearing the allotted time Ms. Baker was given to speak and he knew she was about to start wrapping it up. That's further evidence it was an act.

From a theological perspective, there were a few other things that concerned me. Acts 2 says the apostles, were speaking of the mighty deeds of God (v. 11). Ms. Baker spent the majority of her time speaking about herself. As if her actions weren't obvious enough, she would constantly say things like (paraphrasing), Look how “toasted” I am, You must think I'm weird, Why would the church allow someone like me speak? Imagine that someone is speaking in tongues, but keeps stopping to say, “Listen, I'm speaking in tongues!” That's how I see Ms. Baker's performance.

Finally, there is the matter of the “tongues” Ms. Baker continuously spoke. At Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, everyone gathered there understood what was being said. They heard the words in their own language – even their own dialect. Some of the words Ms. Baker spoke were gibberish. I certainly didn't understand them. Her performance didn't resemble at all the scene described in the Bible.

In the 1970s, Foster Brooks played a lovable drunk. He was funny. Ms. Baker? Not so much. I've heard she has done a lot of missionary work in Mozambique. I know that she and her husband started Iris Global ministries. But do I just ignore foolish displays like this because of the good work she's done? Folks like this claim they are being moved by the Spirit but when you can see they're not, it makes their claims blasphemy. They're taking the Lord's name in vain which is no small thing. I can't just sit by, watching behavior like this, and not say something.

I'm sadden most by the people who sit in services like this and laugh along. I'm reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3, the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. These people seem less interested in learning the word of God and more interested in being entertained. Ms. Baker was eager to oblige them. I implore people to be more Berean (Acts 17:11). Study your Bibles.  We should be anxious to hear the word whenever it is preached but we need to compare what is preached to the Scriptures to see if it is true!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stop spouting facts... the science is settled!

According to Wikipedia, scientism is a term used to describe the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the exclusion of other viewpoints. Followers of scientism tend to be zealots, more devout even than the average followers of traditional religions. What makes them especially stubborn is that they tend to not think of their beliefs as their “religion;” instead, they think scientism is simply the default way of thinking for any person and so they cannot comprehend any argument made from a different point of view. To them, if something can't be examined scientifically, it can't be true.

Now, you would think that people who practically worship science would welcome scientific debate. They say they do. Actually, they brag that they do. In the new Cosmos series, Neil deGrass Tyson offered these five, simple rules for science:

(1) Question authority.
(2) Think for yourself.
(3) Test ideas by the evidence gained from observation and experiment.
(4) Follow the evidence wherever it leads.
(5) Remember: you could be wrong.

Ignore the self-contradiction going on here – like, how can someone test the idea that we should test ideas by evidence? My point in citing these “rules” is to show how skepticism is supposed to be at the heart of science. According to Tyson, I'm not supposed to accept a conclusion just because someone in authority says it's true. I'm supposed to think for myself. Right? I could be wrong but maybe it's the person making the claim who is wrong.

There are real scientists who are skeptics. At the risk of sounding cliché, scientific advancement often comes when people think outside of the box. Science Alert once published a list of 8 scientific papers that were rejected during peer review before going on to win a Nobel Prize. Obviously, these authors were on to something and the scientific establishment just couldn't see it. How often has one radical idea, one that other scientists may have thought sounded crazy, turned out to be true? Maybe we should ask Galileo.

Devout members of scientism aren't skeptics. They claim to be but they aren't. They blindly follow the majority opinion without question. You can often identify them by their frequent use of the phrase, “The science is settled.” To them, truth is whatever is accepted by a majority of scientists. Anyone who disagrees is considered a heretic. Actually, they don't call them heretics – they call them, “science deniers” but, in scientism, it means the same thing. Doubters of some scientific theory aren't ever called “skeptics” or “free thinkers;” they're “deniers.”

Let me give you a few examples of scientism's doctrine. The first is obviously evolution. I cannot tell you the number of times I've heard rabid evolutionists defend their theory by saying no credible scientist denies that evolution happened. Note the use of the word “credible,” but never mind blatant No True Scotsman fallacy. Truth is not decided by popular vote. Evolutionists often refuse to debate creationists on the grounds that “the science is settled,” “there is no debate among scientists whether evolution is true,” and debating the theory with a creationists gives the impression there is still doubt over the theory. Followers of scientism want to squelch any dissent over evolution by suing public schools who want to “teach the difficulties,” rejecting any creationist paper submitted for peer review, and even protesting a privately funded, religious organization like the Creation Museum.

Another long standing doctrine of this godless faith is climate change. Once upon a time, it was called “global warming” but after decades of no noticeable increase in the global, mean temperature, they had to replace “warming” with the much more ambiguous term, “change.” Actually, none of the dire predictions made by these alarmists have happened. In 2008, ABC aired a video montage showing all the terrible things that would happen by 2015 because of climate change: New York flooding, hundreds of miles of scorched earth, and skyrocketing food and fuel prices. I remember 2015. It was nothing like the predictions made by the video but followers of scientism aren't embarrassed by their failed predictions; The “science is settled” concerning climate change and bad things are going to happen unless we do something now. //RKBentley shakes his head//

Bill Nye was recently embarrassed by Tucker Carlson when he tried to pull that “the science is settled” crap. Carlson was asking basic questions about climate change and Nye was obviously making up the answers. Before we spend trillions of dollars on this “crisis,” we need to have some answers: the most fundamental question is, is there even any warming? The trend for the last few decades says no. If it is happening, to what extent are humans causing it? If we could stop warming, should we? What is the earth's temperature supposed to be? Every air-breathing animal produces carbon dioxide. Humans produce about 2 pounds of CO2 per day. Even if we converted the entire world to 100% emission-free energy, humans will still produce billions of pounds of CO2 every day just by breathing. How can that be bad? Plants require CO2. What will happen to our forests if we could reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? These are legitimate questions but they are heresy to dogma-driven zealots like Nye. A real scientist on CNN recently brought up some of these points and Nye scolded CNN for, having one climate change skeptic, and not 97 or 98 scientists or engineers concerned about climate change.

The most recent political discussion which followers of scientism have weighed in on is the transgender issue. Scientists now “know” that things like gender identity or even our biological sex aren't immutable but exist on a spectrum. You would think that after 6,000 years of human history, the science would at least be settled about who is a male and who is a female. Wrong! Now we're being told that doctors sometimes got it wrong when they checked “male” or “female” on a birth certificate. I'm a 51 year old white guy. Why can't I identify as a 65 year old person and start receiving social security? Why can't I say I'm a black guy and maybe qualify for affirmative action programs? But I can say I'm a woman and folks like Nye will rush to defend my delusion as being normal, usual, and healthy. Anyone who disagrees is a hate-filled, homophobic, bigot. Colleges are adopting strict policies requiring the use of gender-neutral pronouns. If I call a female, “she,” suddenly I'm the one who has the problem. Several years ago, I wrote about California's ban on gay-conversion therapy for minors. Really? So after little Johnny was abused by an uncle, he seeks help because he doesn't like the sexual feelings he now has toward men and the only acceptable response is, “You're gay, Johnny, you can't change it. You'd better learn to live with it!”

Bill Nye has said that being a creationist suppresses critical thinking. I believe Nye's religion of scientism is a far worse assault on critical thinking than being a creationist could ever be. He does not want debate. “Science deniers” must be ridiculed and insulted until they have lost all credibility. Maybe they should even be put in prison. Nye and folks like him have their minds are made up. Stop confusing them with facts. The science is settled.

Friday, April 21, 2017

It's a numbers game... and evolution is losing!

Evolution is a theory fraught with difficulties – so much so that I'm genuinely surprised that people still take it seriously. I'm not talking about answers we don't have – like, a plausible explanation for the origin of the first common ancestor or not finding any fossils for the “innumerable” transitional species Darwin understood must have existed if his theory were true; I'm talking about things that we do know, scientifically, that make evolution impossible.

Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of how the theory is supposed to work. Some people conflate evolution with natural selection. Natural selection is the opposite of evolution. If you start with a population of light and dark moths, and birds continuously eat (i.e. “select”) the light moths, you will eventually have a population of only dark moths. Natural selection can only “select” from traits already present in the population. You cannot add new colors by continuously removing colors no matter how long it continues. For evolution to be possible, you have to add new traits to a population. To turn a dinosaur into a bird, for example, you would have to add feathers. Get it? Natural selection is not a mechanism that can add new features to a population.

The only candidate for a mechanism that adds new features to a population is genetic mutation. Mutations are an observed phenomenon where duplication errors in the DNA of a the parent creature are passed along to its offspring. Most of these errors are neutral and are not expressed in the offspring. Even though they aren't expressed, though, they still exist in the genome. Sometimes, the mutations are expressed and can be harmful or fatal to the host. On very rare occasions, a mutation can convey a benefit to its host.

One example of an observed, beneficial mutation is tusk-less elephants. Ivory poachers will shoot elephants for their tusks. However, due to a genetic mutation, some elephants are born without tusks and so poachers won't shoot them. This is a benefit to the elephant. These elephants tend to live longer and pass the “tusk-less” mutation onto its offspring. In recent years, there has been a noticeable surge in the numbers of elephants born without tusks. But this type of mutation is not the trait-adding kind of mutation that could make evolution possible. Elephants being born without tusks does not explain how dinosaurs could acquire feathers.

The supposed first ancestor did not have feathers, hair, skin, scales, bones, blood, eyes, or organs of any kind. To turn a molecule into a man would require a billions of years long parade of novel features being added generation after generation. If evolution has happened, we should have many examples of observed, trait-adding mutations. We don't. In all my years of asking for examples of novel features appearing in a species, I continuously hear the same 3-4 questionable examples.

Trait-adding mutations are either astonishingly scare or non-existent. Evolutionists, however, are not deterred by the glaring lack of examples. Time is the hero of their fairy tale. In a 4 billion year old world, a new feature every million years or so is enough to rescue their theory. I'll tell you why it doesn't.

Are we agreed that trait-adding mutations are infrequent? OK. How often can we agree that they happen? Is it once every hundred mutations? Surely, it's not that often. I don't think it happens at all but, for the sake of argument, I could say it's more like 1 in 10,000 or even 1 in 100,000. Actually, in a moment you'll see why higher numbers are worse for evolution but I'm going to be very, very generous and say it's 1 in 1,000. Now, let's look at some math.

If 1 in every 1,000 mutations is a beneficial, trait-adding mutation for the host, then for the host to inherit 2 beneficial mutations means there will have been 1,000,000 neutral or harmful mutations (1,000 x 1,000). To inherit only 3 means there will have been 1,000,000,000 neutral or harmful mutations in the genome (1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000). Can you see where this is going? The genome is deteriorating 1,000 times faster than it is improving. To inherit even a handful of successful mutations comes at the great expense of billions and billions of unsuccessful mutations. How many successful mutations would it take to turn a molecule into a man? How long could such a wasteful process continue before the entire genome becomes too corrupted to sustain life? Remember, this is assuming 1 beneficial mutation in every 1,000. If it were 1 in 10,000, then 2 successful mutations comes with the burden of 100,000,000 other mutations!

In 1995, A.S. Kondrashov published a paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology where he discussed contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations. Over time, the ratio of harmful mutations to good mutations should become unbearable and he says, This paradox cannot be resolved by invoking beneficial mutations or environmental fluctuations. In the title, he asks, Why have we not died 100 times over?” Can you see now the problem that he saw? Any small success a mutation might mean for a species comes with many more mutations that should eventually kill it. It's a numbers game... and evolution is losing!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is creationism driving young people out of the church?

In my last post, I made some comments about an articled titled, 5 Ways Creationism Is Bad For Christianity. Just recently, someone I am friends with on FaceBook linked an article from the Huffington Post titled, Creationists Drive Young People Out Of The Church. The headline might sound similar to my last post but I'm going to make different points. Bear with me.

My first thought when I read that article was that it is fake news. It's not fake in the sense that I don't believe it's correct (although it is very misleading). I'm saying it's fake in the sense that it's not news. Does anyone really believe a left-leaning site like The Huffington Post is at all concerned with young people leaving the church? The point of the story isn't, “What are we going to do about these young people leaving the church?” It's more like, “Ha, ha. Look at how stupid these young people think creationists are.” The author seems to want to shame people away from believing in creation. It's a common tactic which I've written about years ago. Consider this quote from the first paragraph:

Particularly disturbing is the finding that only 27 percent of evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” with the statement that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Do you see what I mean? The author finds a belief in a young earth, “particularly disturbing.” In spite of its headline, the article is less about young adults leaving the church and more about getting Christians to stop believing in creation. But the liberal bias and shoddy reporting of The Huffington Post is not the point of my post today. I was more interested in what my FaceBook friend said. When he posted the link to the article, he commented:

Young Earth Creationists need to think about this.

Now, I can't claim to know exactly what this person was thinking when he said this. He seems to be making the same point that unbelieving evolutionists make when they write similar comments; he seems to be saying to creationists, “Just stop it because you look silly.” Maybe this person was trying to make a legitimate point that completely escapes me. I've thought and thought about his comment and the only thing I can conclude is that it is a blatant appeal to consequences.

Let me ask this: if a six-day, literal, miraculous creation is the correct understanding of the Genesis account, then what else is there think about? If I tell people the truth, and they leave the church, am I wrong for having spoken the truth? Should I not tell the truth for fear of offending someone? What else about the truth should I water down? What if people leave the church because I tell them Jesus was rose from the dead? Another reason cited for people leaving the church is that they are uncomfortable with the exclusivity of Christianity. So then are we to teach universalism instead? Jesus is one way but any way is fine.

If people leave the Church because we believe the Bible about creation, that does nothing to prove a belief in a miraculous creation is wrong. And if creation is correct, then why should we compromise on the truth of it in order to make the Bible seem compatible with the incorrect theory of evolution?

Articles like this one and comments like that made by my FaceBook friend are pointless. It's a worthless argument. But I have something to say to Christians who make these arguments: I think you're doing far more harm than good with your compromise!

The Bible commands us to love God with our minds (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, et al). Evolution is a worthless theory. It is rife with difficulties, it makes no useful predictions, and it has made no contribution to any scientific advancement made in the last century. If a young person is wavering in his faith because he sees a conflict between “science” and the Bible, you need to know how to defend the Bible rather than giving credence to some useless, fairytale dreamed up by men how proudly boast that miracles never happen. Do you think it's helpful to say to an inquisitive youth, “Well, the Bible doesn't always mean what it says”? I think young people are leaving the church because they don't see the church as having any authority. When Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will believe, it sets a bad example that these young people can see.

Jesus faced this same problem during His ministry. He preached the truth and people turned away because of it. John 6:53-68:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Jesus spoke the truth. People left following Him because they didn't want to hear the truth. I will be like Peter and accept the truth no matter how difficult it seems. I will not be like those Christians who compromise on the truth of the Bible for the sake of making it seem more appealing.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Is creationism bad for Christianity?

Allen Marshall O'Brien wrote an article on Irenicon titled, 5 Ways Creationism Is Bad For Christianity. Most of it is the same weak arguments I've heard before but, since theistic evolutionists keep trotting out these tired points, I have to keep answering them. Before I get into the points, though, let me just say I'm really getting tired of having to confront other Christians about what should be a non-issue. Evolution is a waste of time in science and, frankly, while many people may believe in evolution, the majority of those don't really give a whit about it. They're not “evolutionists.” I only discuss the issue because there are militant critics out there that use evolution to attack the credibility of the Bible. It's sad that some Christians feel it's important to “reconcile the Bible” with such a useless and godless theory. Evolution is an obstacle to the Faith and the time I spend addressing stupid points like the following is time I could have spent reaching lost people with the truth.

//Sigh// Anyway, here we go.

1. It suppresses critical thinking. Demanding conclusions which rise from evidence is part and parcel of human reasoning. If Christians say, along with Ken Ham, that no evidence could ever change their mind about Genesis 1-3 (or anything else for that matter), then they turn off the only function by which we arrive at logical thought and rational conversation.

There's an old Abbott and Costello skit where Lou “proves” to Bud that 7 x 13 = 28. Obviously, he's wrong but he reaches the same answer by adding, multiplying, and dividing and completely stymies Bud. I see evolution in much that same light. It's a clever explanation of the “facts” and some people have fallen for it completely. It's still absolutely wrong.

If something is true, then it's true regardless of how persuasively anyone might argue to contrary. God created the world miraculously. That's the truth. I will never let someone use clever stories like evolution to make me to believe in a lie.

I would like to ask Mr. O'Brien if he believes the Bible or not? I mean, what sort of evidence might convince him that Jesus isn't Lord? Might he ever change his mind about the resurrection? I admit that I believe the Bible. I believe that Jesus is the Risen Savior. I believe these things for the same reason people believe anything – I'm convinced it's the truth. Now that I've accepted Jesus as my Savior, no criticism will ever make me stop believing. For some reason, O'Brien thinks that's a bad thing.

2. It consciously promotes a lying God. The creation of a “mature” Earth is one way creationists attempt to explain a whole host of scientific evidence. But isn’t it troubling to think that God should make a universe which only looks old and life that looks evolved, then bequeath humanity a contradictory account of the real “truth” on the situation?

On the day that God made Adam, I wonder how old Adam “looked”? Obviously, God created Adam as a mature man who was able to walk and talk and speak. He commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply meaning they were post-pubescent. Was God being deceitful making a man fully-grown even though he was only 1 day old? God made trees with fruit on them ready to eat. Just imagine Adam questioning God saying, “Lord, trees this big with fruit take years to grow so, when you say you made them in a day, I know you mean many years because You're not a deceiver.”

This argument is absolutely ridiculous. If God created a working universe in six days and told us that He did it in 6 days, that's not being deceitful. The irony is that if God did create the universe over billions of years but said He did it in six days, then He really would be a deceiver. Theistic evolutionists believe in a lying god!

3. It disrespects the legitimacy of human culture and the meaning-making power of literature. Ken Ham has said time and again that the Bible rises and falls with the scientific viability of Genesis. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most avid creationists feel this way; they deny that God could/would speak to humankind through ancient, scientifically inaccurate, mythology.

Jesus often taught using parables. When He did this, it was clear that He was not speaking something that was literally true. The Psalms are a collection of poetry that teach spiritual, though not necessarily, literal truths. The Bible uses many literary devices like metaphor, simile, and personification. However, the Bible also talks about historical facts like the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In Luke's chronology from Adam to Jesus, at what point do the people stop becoming myth and start becoming real? At Adam? Noah? Abraham? David? Jesus? How do I know Jesus wasn't a literary device? If we begin assigning the genre of “figurative” to passages that are intended to be literal, then the entire Bible becomes suspect. When we read the Bible, we understand it like we would any other written work – the way the author intended it. Some parts are figurative, some parts are literal, and it's not really that hard to tell the difference.

And by the way, I'm not that concerned with respecting the legitimacy of human culture. I am much more concerned with correctly understanding the revealed word of the Creator.

4. It hinders our vision of Jesus. Tethering creationism to Christianity places an unnecessary obstacle between us and Christ. The slippery-slope rhetoric of creationist pastors and theologians has regrettably set up a false dichotomy between evolution and “true” Christianity.

Jesus believed in the creation and the Flood. When asked about marriage, He cited the creation of Adam and Eve. He mentioned Abel by name in Luke 11:51. He compared His second coming to Flood of Noah. He talks about the events of Genesis as though they were historical events. Conversely, He never suggested even once that the books of Moses were meant to be figurative. At times, He confronted the Pharisees on their abuse of the Law. When He cited Old Testament passages to them, He always relied on a clear understanding of the text and never once appealed to some figurative meaning.

If Jesus treated Genesis as history, what does it say about Him when theistic evolutionists say none of it happened? Why would anyone need the last Adam if there never really was a first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45)? If His return shall happen suddenly, like the Flood of Noah, what does it mean if there wasn't a Flood?

Theistic evolution destroys the gospel.

5. And yeah, it makes us look really, really silly. The silliest (read: saddest) part of fighting, speaking, preaching, and spending millions of dollars touting creationism is that our fights, speeches, sermons, and millions of dollars are needed elsewhere.

The risk of looking silly is hardly a reason to compromise on God's word. Indeed, Matthew 5:11-12 says that we should rejoice when people mock, insult, and persecute us because we will have a great reward in heaven. I guess that means Christians always have the last laugh.

What else in the Bible might make us look silly for believing it? Are we silly to believe Jesus turned water into wine? Could a person believe it didn't happen and still be a Christian? Maybe. What about feeding the crowd or healing the sick or walking on water? What if I believed in a Jesus that did NO miracles? A Jesus that did no miracles is not the Son of God revealed in Scripture but is just an insane, lying rabbi who was executed along with a couple of thieves and is still buried somewhere. Likewise, the god of evolution is an impotent god who is bound by the physical laws he supposedly created and is indistinguishable from dumb luck. I will not let scoffers shame me into believing in some farce of a god.

Regardless, O'Brien is missing a major point. Richard Dawkins once said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. The rate of atheism among scientists is greater than the general population. Secular theories of origins are obstacles that hinder people from coming to the faith. Theistic evolution and theories that compromise the Bible to make it “compatible with science,” do harm to those people who don't think God is necessary to explain the origin of the universe, of life, or of man. Telling them that God guides evolution sounds as compelling as saying gravity is accomplished by angels dragging the planets in their course. Theistic evolutionists should stop wasting their time trying to explain how “six days” (as in Exodus 20:11) really means billions of years.  It makes them look silly.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bill Nye on video lying about evidence!

Bill Nye on video lying about evidence! I wrote that headline to grab people's attention. It's a little sensational, I'll admit, but I still mean it to be literal. I'm referring to the 2 hour video released by Answers in Genesis where Nye debates Ken during a tour of the recently opened Ark Encounter. Is it just me or is Nye really that rude of a person? He referred to several AiG staff scientists as “incompetent,” despite their doctorate degrees from reputable colleges like Harvard or Ohio State; he told Ken Ham he needed to study geology more; he told Ark visitors they needed to go to university; and concluded his tour saying that he couldn't be friends with someone like Ken Ham, though he might try to rescue him if he were drowning or something like that. That last comment was real big of you Nye! //RKBentley rolls his eyes// Look, there are people with whom I disagree but who aren't jerks. Bill Nye is a jerk. Maybe it's not very Christian of me to say that. I must say that Ken Ham was very gracious with Nye, even praying for him after Nye's comment that he might rescue him from drowning (which I guess also means he might not). But you can see in the video that Nye seemed to annoy even Ham at different times.

Anyway, back to my point of Nye lying. I haven't counted, but I would guess Nye used the term, “evidence” at least fifty times during his tour of the Ark. How he used the term, though, was often, grossly misleading.

Before I get into Nye's use of the word, let me talk a little bit about what evidence is and what it's not. Evidence is raw data. It's facts or observations. Contrary to the popular expression, facts don't really speak for themselves. Evidence just is. What we do, then, is look at the evidence and invent theories to try to explain why the evidence is the way it is. What is this thing? How did it get here? What might I conclude from it? Theories are our attempts to make sense of the evidence. A good theory should seem to explain the evidence reasonably well. In any case, the evidence itself is mute and doesn't care about our theories. In other words, the evidence is never really “for” a theory.

Some people, like Nye, conflate their theories with the evidence. During the video, Nye routinely makes comments like (paraphrasing), “All the evidence says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.” Do you see what I mean? The evidence doesn't say anything. Bill Nye subscribes to a theory – his interpretation of the evidence – that says the earth is billions of years old. But he never says, “My theory is that the earth is billions of years old”; he merely repeats over and over, “The evidence says it.”

Evolutionists believe they have a monopoly on the evidence. It's sort of a game of dibs where, once evolutionists explain the evidence, that evidence is not available to explained by any other theory. The earth can't be young because they've already said it's old. There is no evidence for creation because it's already been used for evolution! Evolutionists do this so that when we disagree with their theory, it looks like we're disagreeing with the evidence. Tsk, tsk.

Nye certainly did this in the video. On a couple of occasions, Ken Ham tried to pin Nye down on the differences between the evidence and the conclusions we draw on the evidence. About 52 minutes into the video, for example, Ham and Nye are talking about tree rings. It's Nye's contention that there are living trees that can be dated to before the time of the Flood based on their rings. Ham counters that the rings aren't evidence in the sense that Nye is using them. Rings are something that simply exist in the present. We could count the rings of a tree and extrapolate backwards (4,000 rings means 4,000 years old) but we know that trees sometimes grow more than one ring per year. So 4,000 rings is the evidence and 4,000 years is a conclusion about the evidence. Even after Nye acknowledged that multiple rings can grow in trees each year, when Ham asked him if he could then be wrong about his conclusion, Nye stubbornly refused to concede even that simple point. “No. Absolutely not,” Nye says, “.... My interpretation with respect to the age on the earth in this regard is absolutely correct.” Time after time during the entire video, Nye offers his theory while calling it the evidence.

But look, if all Nye did was conflate his theory with the evidence, I wouldn't necessarily say he was “lying” - though it is still grossly misleading. However, Nye made other statements that were even more misleading. At about 1:17 in the video, Ken Ham mentions the account in Joshua where the sun stopped in the sky. Bill Nye replies, “Why would it do that? There's no evidence for that.”

That's very curious. What type of evidence would Bill Nye expect there to be for such an event? Historical events cannot be studied scientifically. I could ask, for example, “Where is the evidence that George Washington crossed the Delaware?” You can't study the river and discover it. The only way we can know it happened is because people who lived at the time wrote that it happened. The written accounts are the only evidence we have. And the evidence we have for Washington's crossing of the Delaware is the same evidence we have for Joshua's long day. Nye doesn't have to believe the written account but to say there is no evidence is a lie.

From there, Nye segues into a point he made several times in the video. He defines science to mean “the search for a natural explanation.” According to Nye, any time you invoke a miracle, it's not science. Of course, however a person defines science does not change what is true. If God stopped the motion of the planets for 12 hours, then that is what happened regardless if Nye thinks it's scientific. Nye desperately wants people to believe that, if something isn't scientific, it's not true. Nye told Ham he was “absolutely” wrong about Joshua's long day. Such a rebuke implies that Nye has absolute knowledge of the event. We know he doesn't. Therefore, Nye's continuous appeals to the “evidence” or to an arbitrary definition of science is pure bluff.

This leads me to Nye's most blatant lie about evidence. While Nye was waxing on about the account from Joshua and how science does not allow miracles, Ham interrupts him and asks, “Why should I accept your definition [of science]?” Nye pauses for a moment, then, with a straight face, replies, “Because we have so much evidence for it.”

You can watch him make the offensive remark at 1:18 on the video. Nye actually claims there is evidence for natural-only definition of science. Incredible! Please, Nye, show me this evidence! Where in the universe can I observe it? Can I put it under a microscope or weigh it on a scale or hold it against a ruler? Can I put it in a test tube?

Perhaps Nye is ignorant about how much of science is based on philosophy rather then evidence. In one Big Think video, Nye admits he's skeptical of some of the claims of philosophy. What he doesn't seem to realize is that his “natural only” view of the universe has a philosophical premise. It's a tenet of science – a belief akin to religious faith.

In his dogged determination to prove Ken Ham wrong, Nye repeated the word “evidence” over and over and over. He said there was no evidence for miracles but there was evidence for his definition of science. Watch the video for yourself. Time and time again, Nye lied about evidence.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can a person lose his salvation? Conclusion

This is the last post in my series about how a person cannot lose his salvation. I encourage everyone to read the entire series but I'm going to recap my points briefly. I've talked about how salvation is described as a fundamental change in our nature – how we are “born again” and “pass from death unto life.” The Bible continuously describes our salvation using words of permanency like, “everlasting life” and “they shall never perish.” Furthermore, the Bible attests in many places that it is God who secures us in our salvation and we are kept by His power, not by our own works. Finally, I talked about how the majority of verses critics cite are “negative arguments” where they point to a conditional statement and argue the opposite. For example, in Revelation 3:5, God promises to not blot from the Book of Life the name of the soul that overcomes; critics argue that means God could blot the name from the Book of Life if the person fails to overcome.

There are a few verses, however, that critics cite which are not negative arguments. It's my opinion that in every one of these cases, the people being described are not – and have never been – Christians. Following are a few examples.

Perhaps the most cited passage is Matthew 7:21, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” This verse is cited as proof that a confession of faith alone is not enough to guarantee salvation but, rather, confession must be followed by good works (that is, “doing the will of My Father”). In the context of the entire passage, however, Jesus makes it clear that these are people who only claimed to be Christians but never had a personal relationship with Him. Consider verse 23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” I've written before about the emphatic force used in this passage in the Greek. Jesus is saying He, never knew these people – not even ever! They are not people who knew Him then became lost. They are people who never knew Him but thought they were saved because of the good works they did in His name.

Another passage sometimes offered is Hebrews 10:38, Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. The argument is made that this means if a believer should turn away from the faith (that is, “draw back”), then God will no longer have any pleasure in him. I don't believe that interpretation is valid when the verse is considered in context. Verse 39 says, But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. The epistle writer is clearly intending to exclude himself and his readers from the group that could “draw back.” He instead identifies the Hebrew audience as those who believe unto salvation. It is only lost people who hear the gospel and draw back that displease God.

There are other passages people cite and providing an exhaustive list would be too long for this series. The passages above are just example of how some passages used to argue that a person can lose his salvation really are talking about people who were never Christians. 1 John 2:19 says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” In this simple statement, John makes clear that people who “leave” the faith were really never of the faith. I'm not sure how much more overtly this could be stated.

In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), the seeds that falls on the stony ground or among the thorns represent people who seem to accept the gospel but later turn away when faced with trials. Only the seeds that falls in the good soil, the ones that produce fruit, are Christians. Time after time, Jesus tells us that we can judge a Christian by his fruit. We may not be able to look at a person's face and know if he's a Christian but we should be able to tell by judging his actions. There have been – and will always be – people who claim to be Christians but really aren't. Maybe they even genuinely believe they are. But at the end of the day, they had never really become a sheep.

2 Peter talks about this same thing. Some people hear the gospel and enter into fellowship with believers. Later, they return to their former ways but are worse for it because they have heard the truth. Peter quotes Proverbs, describing them as dogs who return to their own vomit or pigs that return to wallowing in the mire. They never became lambs; that is, they never experienced the life changing transformation of being born again. They remained dogs and pigs and, eventually, returned to acting like dogs and pigs.

Ultimately, of course, God is the judge of who is saved and who is lost. We may form opinions based on men's actions but God sees their hearts and He knows who are the sheep and who are the goats. Even Christians sin. I've sometimes said that a sheep might get dirty but a pig wallows in the mud. Christians will also be judged for their sins. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 talks about the time every Christian will face, when his works will be judged by fire:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

My sin has consequences – not just in this life but eternally. Every moment I spend on worldly things is time wasted building a house of wood and straw. It is time I could have spent pursuing things that will last eternally. When other saints are casting their crowns at the feet of Jesus (Revelation 4:10), I could be standing there empty-handed knowing I had squandered my reward. But regardless of whatever loss sin might cause us to suffer, Corinthians is clear that it cannot cost us our salvation.

Read the entire series

Friday, February 10, 2017

Can a person lose his salvation? Part 4

I don't believe a person can lose his salvation. In this series until now, I've cited verses in the Bible that clearly say that our spiritual birth is like our physical birth – it is a transforming event that permanently assigns who we fundamentally are. Furthermore, once we are saved, God promises to keep us. In light of these verses, I cannot see how salvation could be temporary or conditional.

Of course, other people will cite other verses that seem to suggest that it is possible to lose our salvation. When confronted with two passages that seem to present differing ideas, the solution is not to decide which passages we believe are correct. The reality is that both verses are correct and the truth lies in a harmony of the two. In this post, I will discuss some of those passages often cited to support the idea that a person could lose his salvation.

Some passages that people cite, seem to include a condition of continuity. Consider Revelation 3:5:

He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

In my first post in this series, I quoted a website that used the analogy of a free car to represent salvation. That author was full of analogies. When discussing Revelation, he said this:

Notice that God's pencil, which wrote your name in the Lamb's book of life, also has an eraser at the other end. The name can be erased from the book of life if you don't overcome.

Can I just say that I find it odd that someone would quote a promise where Jesus says He will not do something and use it as evidence that He might do it? Anyway, the author is attempting to highlight the condition that a person must overcome or else his name will be erased from the Book of Life. There are other verses that seem to carry similar conditions:

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Heb 3:6)

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Heb 3:14)

By reading just these verses, the implication seems to be that we must continue professing our faith until the end in order to receive our reward. But as I've already said, our understanding of any verse must be tempered with the rest of the Bible. In a previous post, I cited 1 Corinthians 1:7-8:

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If my continuance in the faith rests in my own hands, then my salvation is in peril. My flesh is weak. My faith wavers. But Jesus has saved me and He lives to continuously makes intercession for me. Those verses that talk about salvation being conditional on my continued faith must be in harmony with the promise that I am kept by the power of God. I know I will stay fast to the end because He has promised to keep me firm until the end.

There are other verses I could cite but I don't want to make this post too long. In short, it's my opinion that nearly all of the verses usually cited could be characterized as “negative arguments.” This is where a verse says one thing and the argument is made about what would happen if the opposite were true. I can't say I never make negative arguments but I don't believe negative arguments are strong arguments. I might say, for example, “I work hard so I can get ahead.” The opposite would be, if I don't work hard I won't get ahead. Perhaps I wouldn't, but where in that argument is found the possibility that I won't continue to work hard? I believe the same thing is true of the Bible. Perhaps if I stopped believing I could lose my salvation but that doesn't necessarily mean it is possible for a truly saved person to stop believing.

Perhaps the most cited verse to support the possibility of a person losing his salvation is John 15:1-2:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

This is almost cited like a “gotcha” verse. At first reading, this verse is also a type of condition where God “takes away” any branch not bearing fruit (“cuts off” in the NIV). In other words, if a branch doesn't bear fruit, it's cut off. I very, very seldom appeal to the original language but, in this case especially, I believe most, mainstream versions of the Bible don't accurately translate this verse.

The word being translated is the verb, airw (airō, Strong's 142). It is sometimes translated as “takes” but the primary meaning is “lift up.” Even in verses where it is translated as “takes,” the meaning is still usually, “take up” or “pick up.” In the parable of the sower (Mark 4:15), for example, Satan “takes” the word which had been sown; the picture painted in the parable is of a bird “picking up” the seed that fell by the way.

In John 15, Jesus creates the metaphor of the Father as a husbandman. Every branch that abides in Him will bear fruit. He “lifts up” the downtrodden branches so that they are able bear fruit and He prunes the fruitful branches so that they can produce even more fruit. This is easily understood by anyone who has seen a vineyard. Even today, branches are still tied and held up from the ground. Note that in verse 6, it is only those branches that do not abide in Him (i.e. are not Christians) that are cast into the fire.

I believe the problem is that we sometimes see instances of people who profess to be Christians and seem to be saved, but later they reject Christ and live like they're lost again. They fit the bill of people who seem to have been saved but did not continue in the faith. Earlier I used the term, “truly saved.” I chose that deliberately because I believe many of the verses that seem to talk about someone losing his salvation are actually talking about people who were never saved. That will be the subject of my next and final post in this series.

Read the entire series