googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: March 2017

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