googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: April 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I Said Dawkins is a Hypocrite


Like many bloggers, I use labels (tags) for my posts. I've seen on other people's blogs that it's really easy for tags to get out of hand so I try to be careful with which ones I use. They need to be broad enough so that they categorize posts easily but narrow enough so that they are still very relevant to every post they're applied to. It's not always easy but by paying attention, tags don't get too numerous or remain too few as to be useless. One tag I use is “hypocrites.” It occurred to me, though, that my use of the word may not be viewed the same way as how liberals use the word. To clear up any confusion, I thought I'd take a few moments to elaborate on what I mean.

To liberals, hypocrisy seems to be the most grievous of sins. For example, many liberals advocate the legalization of drugs while most conservatives are against drug legalization. Drug users are usually viewed sympathetically by liberals. However, when Rush Limbaugh's addiction to Oxycontin became public, he was reviled as a “hypocrite” by the left. Here was a conservative who has spoken out against drugs but was, himself, a drug addict. Limbaugh's sin, then, wasn't necessarily his drug use but his hypocrisy.

By using the word “hypocrite” this way, liberals are really engaging in a type of type of ad hominem which doesn't really address the arguments being raised by the person they're calling a hypocrite. Simply because Limbaugh used drugs, for example, does not mean that everything he said about drugs is false. To the contrary, his experience my have given him a greater insight into the dangers of drug addiction. The left merely used the scandal of his addiction to disparage Limbaugh personally and to discredit his show.

I look at hypocrisy in a more philosophical sense. In logic, contradictory statements cannot be true. There is a rule in logic known as the law of non-contradiction. In a nutshell, something cannot be “A” and “not-A” at the same time in the same sense. Here's what it means by same sense: the word “green” can mean a couple of things: it can mean a color and it can mean unripe. So someone could say, “the apple is green (in color) and not green (meaning it's ripe).” This is not a contradictory statement because an apple could truly be “green and not green,” merely in different senses. However, if I said, “I am RKBentley and I am not RKBentley,” and I mean both in the same sense, then my statement cannot be true because it contradicts itself. I either am RKBentley or I'm not.

Unlike my critics, when I talk about hypocrisy, I'm not necessarily concerned about the hypocrite's character. The usual reason that I point out hypocrisy is to show the contradictory nature, and thus the invalidity, of an argument. If a critic contradicts himself, then his argument cannot be true; one premise or the other (or both) must be false. In this sense, hypocrisy is very relevant to a debate.

In my last post, I talked about the hypocritical arguments of Richard Dawkins. Let me put two of his quotes side-by-side.

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”

These statements contradict each other. In the first, Dawkins says there is “no justice,... no purpose, no evil, [and] no good.” In the latter, Dawkins says it a “grievous wrong” for parents to impart their religion to their children. Well, which is it? Is there right and wrong or isn't there? Both statements cannot be true, therefore I seek to examine which premise is false. If the first is true, then Dawkins has no grounds to make his accusation against Christian parents. If the latter is true, then Dawkins cannot say the universe is void of good and evil. Either way, Dawkins' arguments are undermined.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said that if we hear His words and do them, we are like a wise man who builds his house upon the rock. But anyone who rejects His words is like a foolish man who builds his house upon sand. Christians should always be able to make sound arguments because their foundation is solid. On the other hand, atheists can hardly escape being hypocrites. It is a symptom of their condition where they deny reality. They cannot make sense of anything without contradicting their own worldview. When they do, Christians should stand ready to challenge the hypocrite's premises. The critics are either wrong in their criticism or they are wrong in their worldview. Either way, their arguments fail. It's inevitable because their arguments are built upon sand.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Logical Failings of Dawkins and other New Atheists



There is a brand of atheist out there commonly called, “new atheists.” They're a peculiar breed who have adopted a different strategy in combating religion. Rather than simply argue about the (supposed) lack of evidence for God, they seek to demonize religion. To them, religion isn't just simply untrue, it's evil and so shouldn't exist. To that end, they lie, malign, demean, and demonize religion in general and Christianity in particular. As is always the case with godless apologetics, such a tactic is rife with contradictions and inconsistencies.

A chief proponent of this movement is Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is not only an archetype of the new atheist, he is also a very gifted speaker. His is an especially venomous approach and he has a way with words that makes his arguments sound compelling if you can overlook the contempt he holds while he speaks them. I'm not trying to question his motives, mind you; if his arguments are sound, it doesn't matter why he makes them. Even so, he is so malicious that he often sounds as though he is simply ranting. It's hard to take someone seriously who does nothing but whine.  


Now, because Dawkins is so prolific an author and speaker, there are plenty of his quotes I have at my disposal with which I can expose the fallacies that plague the arguments of new atheism.  Let's look at a few.

A typical approach by folks of this stripe is to highlight examples of “immoral” passages from the Bible. This was the approach taken by the atheist who confronted William Lane Craig in the video I posted a few days back. Typically, critics use loaded words when describing these passages. For example, 1 Samuel 15:2-3 is described as “genocide” and Proverbs 23:13 is described as “child abuse.” This type of argument is known as an “argument of outrage” which is a type of appeal to emotion. It's not really evidence of anything. Instead, it's simply an attempt to make the subject sound less appealing.

Besides being a simple argument of outrage, such arguments are also non sequitur that is, the conclusion does not follow the premise. When atheists make arguments like this, they are, in a sense, saying, “Evil exists, therefore there is no God.” How does that make any sense? That would be like saying, “Crimes happen, therefore there are no police.” Obviously, such a statement is absurd on its face. The morality of something (or lack of morality) is not necessarily evidence of its truthfulness.

Dawkins seems to understand this point. In his book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Dawkins said, the following:


“Even if it were true that evolution, or the teaching of evolution, encouraged immorality that would not imply that the theory of evolution was false.”


How strange. It seems that when Dawkins defends his personal point of view, the moral consequences of his positions aren't relevant. However, when attacking religion, Dawkins thinks that its alleged immorality is a fine reason to reject it. The technical term for holding these contradictory views is “special pleading.” In the more common vernacular, it's called “hypocrisy.” Dawkins is correct in the first point: evolution is not false because it is an amoral theory (it's false for a lot of other reasons). But by that same token, neither is Christianity proven false on the sophomoric grounds that some people find certain passages objectionable.

There's still a deeper point behind such arguments. Namely, to call any biblical passage morally wrong, one must first assume there is some absolute standard of right and wrong. If there is no God, then no such standard exists. Indeed, Dawkins has often spoken of the lack of absolute morality. Here's an example of one quote:

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
River Out Of Eden: A Darwinian View Of Life

So, according to Dawkins, there's no justice, no evil, no good, and no purpose. Some people get hurt and some people get lucky and that's just the way it is.  Everything is just nature being nature and whatever fortune befalls us only comes from nature's “pitiless indifference.” A lion killing a zebra is no more right or wrong than an apple falling from a tree. Both are simply natural events that occur in a universe without purpose. But in typical, irrational fashion, Dawkins doesn't apply his worldview consistently. Consider the following quote:

Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”
The God Delusion

Note his use of the word, “wrong.” On what grounds does he consider it wrong? By his own words, parents teaching children how to behave is nothing more than the “pitiless indifference” of our “selfish genes” trying to perpetuate themselves in a world who's only rule is to survive. If, by passing their faith on to their children, parents are conveying some survival benefit, then it's not “wrong.” One might as well say that an apple falling from a tree is “wrong.”  The only way Dawkins can call anything wrong is if he first concedes there is an absolute standard of right and wrong.  Such a standard does not exist in a universe without God so in order to say it's "wrong" to teach a child religion, Dawkins must first appeal to the biblical idea that there is an absolute standard of morality.  Ironic, huh?

Of course, one might try to argue that there is no survival benefit to believing in God but that is not the point; if there is no God then there is no absolute standard of right or wrong. Whether or not there is a selective advantage to believing in God is up to nature to decide – not Dawkins. Besides, as we've already discussed, whether or not something is objectionable isn't evidence of its truthfulness. Let me give you another quote by Dawkins.

Unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop being true.”
The Selfish Gene

That one sentence undoes his own argument. If Dawkins truly feels this way, why does he devote the entire book, The God Delusion, to describing how deplorable he thinks religion is? From this book we read:

Yahweh: The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unplesant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

OK, Dawkins. So what's your point? No matter how deplorable you find something, that doesn't stop it from being true, right? That's what you said. Hypocrite! How typical of atheists. Even if every word in your libelous characterization of God were true, you haven't spoken anything against His existence. You might have told me that you find Him deplorable; I'm waiting for evidence that He's not real.

I find Dawkins' gross hypocrisy and total lack of coherence to be abominable. I guess that's evidence that Dawkins doesn't exist. Oh, if were only that easy! I never cease to be amazed at the self-defeating arguments used by atheists. In one breath Dawkins says that evolution is true no matter its morality; then in the next breath he says religion is false because of its morality. Such is the way of the irrational.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

50,000 Views!


I've passed a milestone with my blog this week; since my first post on October 19, 2007, I've had 50,000 views of my blog! Now, you might notice that counter at the bottom still shows less than 37,000 but I didn't install that counter until quite a while after I started blogging. The number I'm using for the official number of visits comes from Blogger's official stats. So let's pop the proverbial champagne!

Over the last four years, I've had visitors from every continent including Antarctica. I especially like knowing that I've had visitors from China, countries in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and many other places where it might be difficult to reach people with a Christian message.

For those who might be curious, here are my top five posts with the most page views of all time:

Koala's on the Ark (5,500+ page views). This is not only the most visited – it's the most visited by far. It's actually the pictures that get found the most often. If you do a Google search on Koalas, it's one of the first pics you'll find. I admit the little bugger is cute. This is also one of the few posts that has 2 pics in it so it doubles my chances of being found in a search (maybe that's a clue). People visit for the pictures but hopefully they stay for the content.

Misquoted Bible Verses (2,400+ page views). If you do a Google search for “misquoted Bible verses,” (not an uncommon search) this blog post currently appears as number 4. The pic gets almost no hits in searches but I think it's funny so I keep it. This post has the distinction of always having been among my top 10 read posts each week since I first posted it. There's also a funny anecdote about it: I once bumped into someone online once who asked, “are you the same RKBentley who wrote the post about misquoted Bible verses?” She had found my post on Google the night before and then we met online. What are the odds? I guess one might say it's a small cyber-world.

Answering the 10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer: Part 3 (2,100+ page views). This post is often found using the phrase “starving children” in a Google image search. It's also commonly found by people searching “10 questions every Christian must answer.” I did an 8 part series in response to the popular, atheist video and the whole series gets a fair amount of traffic. The added hits on the image search kicks this post up to the #3 spot.

The Evolutionist's Empty Demand For Evidence (1,700+ page views). This gets a lot of hits from an image search on “evidence.” Also, when I post on Yahoo! Answers, I use this post as a usual answer.

Revelation 17: Is the Harlot of Babylon the Catholic Church? (1,500+ page views). Apparently a lot of people ask this question. Depending on how the question is worded by the user, my blog will usually appear on the first page of a Google search. The image gets a lot of hits as well.

It's been a long road and there were more than a few times I almost gave up completely. Looking back, though, I'm glad I didn't. Like anything else, it's gets easier with practice. When I first started tracking page visits, I was happy to get about 10-15 per day. Every once in a while, though, I would get a spike of 25, 30, or maybe even 50 or more visits. You would think that would be a good thing but it was the spikes that began to make me unhappy with my blog traffic. If I could get 50 visits in one day, then why can't I get 50 visits every day?

It was when I installed the Statcounter widget on my blog that I really began to see how my visitors found my blog. With this knowledge, it was a simple step to begin doing more of the things that brought visitors. It was little things, really. Instead of using clever (or attempts at clever) titles for my posts, I began using phrases that people might actually search for. A lot of people found my blog during an image search so now I try to include an image with every post. And of course, the more posts I made, the more chances it gave me for people to find me and land somewhere on my blog during their search.

As you can see from the screen shot, I had over 3,700 page views last month alone which averages well over 100 per day. At that rate, it's not going to take 4½ years for the next 50,000 but I expect the rate to continue to rise. I'm closing in on 150 views every day but I'd like to double that by this time next year. Four years from now, I'd like to be celebrating 1,000,000 page views!

It's nice to know my posts are being read, however, I'm not doing this for my own glory. In another forum, I use the tag line, ταῦτα γράφω ἵνα πιστευὴτε “I write these things so that you might believe.” I want to take the gospel into all the world. I want to win the lost and equip the saints. I want to do my small part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Thanks to all who visit. Keep visiting. Keep commenting. Feel free to cut and paste any part of my blog. Link me to your friends. Tell your atheist acquaintances about this crazy creationist who has a blog. And above everything else, keep me in your prayers.

God bless!!

RKBentley

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere


Many people aren't aware that today is the anniversary of the famous ride of Paul Revere. When British troops moved from Boston to seize rebel weapon stores in Concord and to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Lexington, Revere rode ahead of them to alert the local militia and to warn Adams and Hancock. I was going to publish the Longfellow poem describing the event but it's a little too long. You can read the entire poem here but I've edited it down a little and included most of it below:

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

It was the next morning, when the militia engaged the British regulars, that the famous "shot heard round the world" was fired.  Longfellow's poem is not entirely accurate in its details but it is stirring nonetheless. You can read Paul Revere's own description of the event here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A “Fair” Alternative to the Buffett Rule


With Obama having very little to show for his first term in office, his strategy for reelection seems to be promoting tax “fairness.” The one and only plank in his tax fairness platform is the so-called “Buffett Rule” which is new type of alternative minimum tax that will require people who earn more than $1,000,000 per year to pay the same tax rate as “everyone else.” It's a nice sounding soundbite but it's a strategy that would be hard to execute.

First off, nearly ½ of the people in the US pay NO federal income taxes at all. So why should I take seriously any claim that it's millionaires who aren't paying their fair share? After all, even 10% of $1,000,000 is infinitely more than 100% of nothing. If we're aiming for fairness, it's those people who pay nothing who aren't paying their fair share. The millionaires are paying for many of the benefits that the free-loaders are using. The Occupy Movement should be happy they have it so good. Instead, they whine about needing more. They now want the 1% to pay for their college, their health care, and even their homes. I guess by “fair” they mean someone else should pay their bills.

When the President talks about fairness, he's not talking about the 50% that pay no taxes. He's talking about the rate that millionaires pay compared to the rate that middle class workers pay. According to the President, if someone makes $1,000,000 per year, he should pay at least 30% of his income in taxes. Hmmm. What about people who make $900,000 per year? Is is OK if they only pay, say, 20% when millionaires are paying 30%?

When Mr. Obama released his tax returns for 2011, we saw that he actually paid a lower rate than his secretary (source). White House spokesperson Amy Brundage said of Obama's return, “[this] is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.” That's odd. The Buffett rule would not have made a difference for the President since his income was less than $1,000,000.

In the US, we use marginal tax rates. Otherwise, a person who makes exactly $1,000,000 in one year would net less after taxes than someone who made $995,000. The way marginal tax rates work is that as people make more and more money, they enter progressively higher tax brackets and pay a larger percentage of taxes only on the amount they earn in the higher brackets. It's a rather cumbersome system but that's the way it works.

Liberals have taken advantage of the tax code to engage in social engineering. This way, they can entice people into buying an electric car, for example, by giving tax subsidies to people who buy them. With so many pages in the tax code, numerous tax credits, tax deductions, and loop holes, people in the higher tax brackets never pay taxes on their entire income.

The purpose of taxes is to raise money for the government but liberals don't give a whit about revenue. Even if passed, the Buffett Rule would only raise about .43% (less than half of one percent) of our current deficit. Democrats are trumpeting the Buffett Rule only out of some absurd sense of “fairness.” It will not address out of control spending. It will not create jobs. It doesn't do anything except punish millionaires and give the President something to run on besides his failed domestic policies. It's class warfare at its worst.

If tax fairness is the objective, then I have an even more “fair” alternative to the Buffett Rule. Let's do away with all tax deductions, tax credits, and tax loop holes, then go to a flat tax of 15%. This way, millionaires and billionaires pay the same as their secretaries; middle class workers will pay less taxes; and all those people who don't pay any taxes will finally end up paying their fair share.

What could be more fair than that?

Monday, April 16, 2012

So This is the “Real” Theory of Abiogenesis, Eh?


I've written before about the 7 Guesses on the Origin of Life. On another occasion, I wrote about scientists excitement of finding amino acids on meteors. I've talked about abiogenesis many times on my blog. The simple fact of the matter is that scientists really have no evidence showing how the supposed first life form began. Every so-called “theory” they have is conjecture. Actually, even conjecture is too generous a word – it's really story telling. They're making up possible scenarios about how life could come from non-life but, thus far, they haven't thought of any that actually work.

In light of their long history of failed guesses about abiogenesis, evolutionists are left with no other alternative than to criticize creationists for bringing it up. The usual claim is that abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution. Another tactic they sometimes take is to make a straw man out of the creationists views of abiogenesis. This cartoon (I'm not going to dignify it by saying it's a graph) compares the “Creationist idea of abiogenesis” to the “Real theory of abiogenesis.”

Now, I always try my best to keep up with evolution in the news but I must have missed something. Since when do scientists have a “real theory” about abiogenesis? Did they take a vote on this or something?  It sounds more than a little presumptuous to say this is somehow the "real" theory when there are some many competing theories being tossed about by scientists.  It's even more ridiculous when you consider that we haven't yet discovered a successful pathway from non-living chemicals to life.  How can they even claim this is the path the first cells must have taken?

Obviously, they're being a little loose with the word “theory” again (something they usually complain about creationists doing). It's simply just another “guess.” Ah, but this is the “real” guess. It even says so in the title! This is not the ridiculous “idea” held by creationists! And even though there is not one shred of evidence for their guess of abiogenesis, it's still the “scientific” model because... well, because it's not the view held by creationists!

Sometimes it's difficult to take evolutionists seriously. Just where do they get off saying this is the "real" theory of abiogenesis?  They usually make bad arguments but I can see they're at least sincere most of the time. When they make illustrations like this, though, I'm not sure they're even sincere. Oh, let's face it – they're not being sincere. When they invent things like this, they're just plain lying.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Atheist Questions William Lane Craig About God's Morality

William Lane Craig is a top notch debater. I've enjoyed many chuckles while watching him destroy (figuratively) atheists on YouTube. The big disagreement I normally have with Craig is his compromise on creation but that is the subject of another post. What impresses me most about him is his command of logical arguments. Usually Craig's arguments are so unassailable that even the renown Richard Dawkins has refused to debate him again. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while has probably seen a little of Craig's influence in my posts because I've learned a lot from listening to him. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when he seemed to stumble over a rather ordinary question from an atheist (at least I assume he's an atheist from the headline because he doesn't identify himself as such in the video). As usual, I've included the video here for your review. It's only 2:57 long so you will probably want to take a moment to review before we continue. Go ahead. I'll wait...



If you've never watched Dr. Craig before, one argument he frequently uses for the existence of God is the existence of absolute morality. If there is no God, then there is no objective morality. Things like right and wrong would be subjective and relative to what is expedient. A cat, for example, might kill a mouse for sport. If nature is all there is, then a human killing another human would be no more wrong than any animal killing another. One can call an atrocity like the Holocaust objectively evil only by assuming there is an ultimate standard of good and evil. In a universe without God, such a standard does not exist. If someone believes there is a such thing as absolute right and wrong, he must admit there is an ultimate Law-Giver whose judgment supersedes every other person's opinion.  That's Craig's point and I believe it's a compelling argument.

The argument for the existence of objective morality must have been one of the topics Craig had discussed the night of this video. The atheist in this video challenges Craig on the “morality of God” by citing several verses where, he believes, the Bible endorses immoral practices. He starts with a reference to Exodus 21:20-21 but then rattles off a long lists of “questionable” verses. As I've said, this is a fairly common criticism raised of Christianity – one I'm sure Craig must have heard before so I would think he'd be practiced in answering it. In this video, he acted like he was winging it.

First, I'm not sure why Craig asked why the questioner seemed so angry. This smacks of the logical fallacy of “appeal to motive”; that is, he seems to say “you are only asking this question because you are angry with God.” He even suggests that the questioner was too wound up emotionally to understand his argument. Maybe Craig was genuinely curious about the questioner and wasn't trying to accomplish anything by raising this point. It just struck me as odd he would even go there.

However, what disappointed me most about Craig's response was how he immediately abandoned the God of Christianity and the Bible. He said that his point was only a generic argument for theism and the existence of a personal supreme being thus his argument is consistent with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, some Hindu beliefs, and deism. Really, Craig? Is that how you want to defend Christianity? You seem to actually retreat from the Bible.

Now, it would be terribly presumptuous of me to tell Dr. Craig, who holds a PhD in Philosophy and is a veteran debater, how he should have answered the question but I'm going to anyway. It would have been a mistake to begin to try to address every verse the critic cited so I can understand why Craig didn't do that. It's seems obvious to me, though, that he should have used the opportunity of the critic's question to double down on his argument. Instead of saying (I'm paraphrasing), “I was only trying to prove theism and not the Bible,” Craig should have said, “If there is no God, then on what grounds do you consider these verses from the Bible to be morally objectionable?” By putting the burden back onto the critic, Craig would have accomplished at least two things: 1) he would have reinforced his argument and put the critic in the position of having to address the real point of Craig's argument instead of raising red herrings and 2) Craig would not have made those “questionable” verses in the Bible seem indefensible.

The verses cited by this critic are certainly worth discussing and I may use them as the subjects of future posts. But, as they say, we must make first things first. If someone believes some passage from the Bible is morally “wrong,” from where does he derive his objective standard of right and wrong? The “Supreme Personal Being” Craig alludes to in his lectures/debates is not some generic god of any religion. He is the only God – the God of the Bible. He is the ultimate Judge of what is right and wrong. There is no objective morality apart from Him and so no one can question His morality (or the morality of the Bible) without first realizing He exists.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh, The Irony!!


How many times have you heard creationists compared to “flat-earthers”? In their Creation/Evolution Continuum, the National Center for Science Education, places flat-earthers at one end of the spectrum, just behind geocentrists and young-earth creationists, while theistic and atheistic evolutionists occupy the other end. It's a blatant attempt at guilt-by-association because those very few people who actually believe in a flat earth, are supposedly Christians.

That the earth is flat is not taught anywhere in the Bible. The passages usually cited in support of this claim are obvious literary devices but to say the Bible teaches “flat-earthism” would be akin to me saying that weathermen are geocentrists for using terms like “sunrise” and “sunset.” Besides, the idea of a flat earth was never solely in the realm of Christianity since many other cultures also believed in a flat earth. Even ideas like geocentrism endured from Ptolemy until Galilei as the prevailing “scientific” model. The church should have learned then not to wed their interpretation of Scriptures to flawed “scientific” opinion.

Today, the Flat Earth Society, which boasts a (likely inflated) membership of hundreds, is currently led by a man named, Daniel Shenton. Let me ask you, the reader: what do you think Shenton's views on creation are? Do you think he's a creationist? Here's what Live Science had to say about the issue:

Though Shenton believes in evolution and global warming, he and his hundreds, if not thousands, of followers worldwide also believe that the Earth is a disc that you can fall off of.” [bold added]

Isn't that a hoot? After all these years of hearing from evolutionists that “creationists” is synonymous with “flat-earthers” we find out that the chief flat-earther is one of their own! Oh, the irony!

And another thing, I'm not too familiar with the flat-earth movement – I've always suspected the society of being a rather elaborate attempt to troll – but what is the official position of the group concerning evolution? It seems to me that if the leader of the group is an evolutionist, then evolution is probably the group's official position as well.

This puts things in an entirely different light. So, will the evo-establishment continue engaging in this intellectually lazy argument? Probably. They have resorted to this tactic for so long that I doubt they are able to change. If they are going to continue making that bed, they'd better be prepared to lie in it. Believe me, from now on, whenever I hear insult that creationists are like flat-eathers, I'm going to immediately link the ignorant soul to the quote above.

Oh, by the way, I've taken the liberty to correct NCSE's graph. Now, please excuse me while I laugh my head off!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photo Gaffe or Major Porn Humiliation?

I really don't follow sports so I don't know who Felipe Baloy is but I read about him on Yahoo! Apparently, he's a soccer player and I know enough about sports to know that soccer is a big deal in a lot of countries outside the US. Pro soccer players there are viewed much the same way as pro basketball players are viewed here. Frankly, I've always thought the hero worship of sports figures went a little too far but it is what it is.

Anyway, Baloy is one such sports figure who has a lot of fans. According to the Yahoo! article, Baloy seems like a nice enough guy who is usually happy to take a moment and pose for a picture with his fans. Recently, he posed with a young fan who looked about 3-4 years old and was decked out in his team's colors. Using popular, internet terminology, the photo turned out to be a “fail.” In a semi-transparent shopping bag that Baloy happened to be holding right in front of the kid, we can clearly see the cover of the Playboy magazine Baloy had just purchased.

Yahoo!, being the liberal organization that it is, made light of the incident:

Of course, there was no harm done and it was very nice of Baloy to make a young fan's day by stopping and smiling for the shot, but the child will probably appreciate this picture even more when he's a little older.”

Yahoo! obviously doesn't see a problem with a photo like this. There's “no harm done,” they say.  Never mind that this little boy might grow up thinking it's OK to read pornography because his hero reads it too. He will probably even learn to “appreciate” this moment! Is Yahoo! serious?

This is still another reason why idolizing sports celebrities is a bad idea. Simply being a good athlete does not equate with being worthy of emulation. Being physically exceptional is not the same as having a good character. Just ask Tiger Woods.

It's been a few years but I'll be honest – when I was younger, I sometimes purchased Playboy magazines. Whenever I bought one, I suspected I was doing something wrong (of course, not strongly enough to not do it) and I felt a little embarrassed about it. What if the cashier was a female? What would she think about me? And heaven forbid that she might know me!! If a picture like this came out of me (though I know that none exist), I would feel humiliated. I guess the times have changed.

Bill Bennett once coined the term, “the death of outrage.” We now “tolerate” things that were once taboo. Pornography is no longer an embarrassment. Out of wedlock sex is now the punchline in TV sitcoms. Hugh Hefner got his own “reality” series where a 70 year old man got to show off his three hot girlfriends. Of course, illegitimacy rates are also sky rocketing and the children of these single parents will likely face a life of poverty. True reality isn't quite as glamorous as the Playboy Mansion.

Pictures like this are sad. The parents of this young boy should be outraged. Baloy should be apologizing. Instead, it's all a big joke. Playboy is out of the brown bag. I don't think it's funny.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Russell Crowe as Noah


Hollywood is making a new film with a biblical theme. This time, it's an adaptation of the biblical the account of Noah with Russell Crowe being cast in the leading role. After the wildly successful, The Passion of the Christ, I would have thought Hollywood would have caught on that people want to see these kinds of films and studios would start producing more of them. I guess it's not always about money for liberals. They have their standards too. Some just can't bring themselves to make a movie portraying the Bible in a favorable light no matter how successful the movie might be.

Some Christian movies made over the last several years have suffered from small budgets. This new endeavor, on the other hand, will have an estimated budget of $130 million. That sounds like plenty of money for special effects and all the other things that might make an epic adventure successful. I wonder if any critics are going to protest the cost of the movie the same way they have protested the Ark Encounter. $130 million could feed a lot of starving children in third world countries. These same critics who berate AiG for spending millions on the Ark Encounter seldom lament the millions Hollywood spends each year on movies that seem to glorify sex and violence.

One report describes this as an “edgy Biblical re-telling of Noah’s Ark.” It's the word “edgy” that makes me suspicious. If the film's director, Darren Aronofsky, wants this to be a smash hit, I would recommend he stick faithfully to the narrative of Genesis. There's certainly enough in the real account to make the movie thrilling. I'm worried, though, that Aronofsky will fall into the sometimes practice of Hollywood elitists who feel they need to add “depth” to the characters and story. That was the killing blow to Richard Greer's portrayal of David in the movie, King David. What? Was David not an interesting enough character without embellishing him?

I'm also curious how the movie will treat the extent of the Flood and the animals on board. Will they portray a global flood? It would be entirely possible for the movie to not commit to a global or local flood so perhaps they'll go the easy route and not say either way. It would be difficult for them, though, to hide which animals are on-board. Will they make the simple mistake of Noah bringing all “species” of animals onto the Ark? I half expect to see lions and tigers rather than a single “cat-kind.”

Finally, will the movie bring out the real message behind Noah? Will it be about a righteous God Who judges sin? Will people know that God has provided salvation to those who believe in Him? Will they see the Ark as a picture of Jesus? Somehow, I doubt it.

Most of what I know about the movie at this point is speculation. We'll have to wait and see the finished product before giving it a thumbs up or down. I'm somewhat encouraged that movie makers are looking to the Bible as the inspiration for great movies. Still, Hollywood has seldom treated Christians with the same respect they show for AIDS victims or drug users.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter



Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40)

It is not possible to overstate the importance of the Resurrection. It is the lynchpin of Christianity. Without the Resurrection, there is no Christian faith. The Apostle Paul said, And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor 15:14). 

The significance of the Resurrection is two-fold.  First, the Resurrection secures our hope for eternal life. Christ promised that those who believe in Him will never perish (John 3:16). Yet what good is His promise if Jesus Himself is dead in the ground? If Jesus died and did not rise, then His promise for our eternal life died with Him.

But the real significance of the Resurrection goes far beyond our hope in the afterlife. When the Pharisees and scribes questioned the authority of Jesus, they asked for a sign so that Jesus could prove He spoke in the name of God. Jesus promised them only one sign – the Resurrection! Everything that Jesus said and did is validated by His Resurrection: Every promise He made, every commandment He gave, and every doctrine that He taught us were all proven true on that first Easter Sunday.

Some people say that Jesus was a great teacher. Yet if He did not rise, everything He taught would be a lie.

Some people say that Jesus was a prophet. Yet if He did not rise from the dead, then His prophecies were all false.

Some people say that He is the Son of God. Yet if He did not rise from the dead, then He was just a man like every other.

Jesus was a teacher, and a prophet, and the Son of God only because He rose from the dead. To believe in Jesus, you must believe He rose from the dead for there is no salvation in a dead Jesus. The Bible tells us that a belief in the Resurrection prerequisite to salvation.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The Apostle Thomas said that unless he saw the risen Jesus himself, he would not believe in His Resurrection. When Jesus appeared to Thomas, He said, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27).

The words of Jesus are my prayer this Easter. Consider the Risen Savior. Know that everything He said was proven true by His Resurrection. Be not faithless, but believing!

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus Before the Bema Seat

I posted the following a couple of years ago.  It's one of my favorite posts even if it didn't get many views.  This Easter season, I thought I'd post it again.

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I very occasionally teach an adult Sunday school class. Recently, I taught a lesson on the Judgment of Believers – often called the “Bema Seat Judgment.” This is when believers stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and have their works judged. The term “judgment seat” comes from the Greek word, “βήμα” (bēma). While I was preparing for the lesson, I did a search to see how many times the word βήμα is used in the Bible. It is used 10 times (in various forms): 8 times in the epistles and twice in the gospels. The two times it is used in the gospels (Matthew 27:19 and John 19:13), it refers to the same event which is the judgment of Jesus before Pilate.

Here is the account from Matthew in context (Matthew 27:19-24):
When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat [βήμα], his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
I thought it was interesting that Jesus Himself was once judged before the Bema seat. We know the outcome, of course; He was ultimately sentenced to be crucified. However, note carefully what Pilate said about Him. He said that Jesus was a “just person” who had done no evil. In John 19:6, Pilate is quoted as saying, “I find no fault in him at all.” The accusation board Pilate wrote to be placed over Jesus said only that He was “King of the Jews.” Was that the worst that could be said about Him? Pilate might as well have written, “Savior of the world.”

It's significant that Jesus was found to be without guilt. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If Jesus had been guilty of any sin, He would have been deserving of death. If He had been deserving of death, He could not have given His life as the payment for our sins since He would have had to die for His own sins. But He was innocent. He was the lamb without blemish – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Before we stand before the Judgment Seat, it was necessary for Him to stand before the judgment seat. It is by His obedience that we are made righteous (Romans 5:19). Praise God!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vestigial Organs? It's There for a Reason!


A while back, I wrote about LiveScience's, “Top 7 Theories (that is “Guesses”) on the Origin of Life.” One thing I didn't say about LiveScience, which is probably so obvious it doesn't need pointing out, is that the folks there are rapidly pro-evolution. They've posted several lists that not only trumpet evolution but also a few that ridicule creation. One of their pro-evolution lists is the Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs). You can read the list if you'd like. I'm going to reference it a couple of times but I'm not going to critique each example they offer. Instead, I'd like to discuss the idea of vestigial organs in general.

Identifying and promoting so called “vestigial” organs is a favorite practice of evolutionists. It's sometimes seen as a sort of “silver bullet” proof of their theory because they feel evolution explains these structures so well. From the intro to the LiveScience article we read, From common descent, it is predicted that organisms should retain these vestigial organs as structural remnants of lost functions. It is only because of macro-evolutionary theory, or evolution that takes place over very long periods of time, that these vestiges appear.” Really? It's only because of macro-evolution? I beg to differ.

Let me say that vestigial organs do fit well within the evolutionary model. However, a successful prediction is not necessarily evidence for (and certainly not proof of) any theory. Let me give you an example: I believe that, if I ate an entire pizza, that I would be full. I am full. Therefore, I ate an entire pizza! Certainly, I could have eaten an entire pizza but then again, I could also be full for another reason. Likewise, even if evolution gives a plausible explanation for the existence of “vestigial” organs, it's not necessarily “proof” of the theory. There could be another cause for these organs. Indeed there is. I believe creation explains these same structures equally well.

An organ is usually considered to be vestigial if it cannot be determined to have a function. This begs the question of how we can determine that an organ has no function. One way suggested by evolutionists is if the organ can be removed without any deleterious effect to its host. This was suggested in the LiveScience article when discussing the appendix: “Any secondary function that the appendix might perform certainly is not missed in those who had it removed.” However, this is not a rigorous test. I could remove the little finger of my left hand and continue to live a long, happy, healthy, and productive life. No one would argue that my little finger has no function so the simple fact that I can prosper without it is not evidence that it has no function.

Since we see that removing an organ doesn't establish its “functionlessness,” something like the appendix cannot be said to be “useless” on the flimsy grounds that it can be removed with seemingly little consequence. I would, however, direct your attention to a Scientific American which says, “For years, the appendix was credited with very little physiological function. We now know, however, that the appendix serves an important role in the fetus and in young adults.” The benefits of the appendix are too numerous to include in this post so you can read the article for yourself. But we see that, according to Scientific American, the appendix actually serves an “important role.” One might even ask why it continues to be called vestigial.

Discovering function for the appendix is no surprise to a creationist. After all, it is a product of design. Dozens of other organs once thought to be “useless” have also been identified as functioning. This has happened so frequently that I'm suspicious of any claim that says a certain structure serves no purpose. Such a claim faces the logical absurdity of proving a negative. It is quite possible, even likely, that the purpose of such organs merely hasn't been identified and needs further research.

Regardless of all that, let's assume for a moment that there is some structure which has somehow been determined to truly have no function. Even that is not conclusive evidence for evolution. As per my pizza-eating example where there are other reasons I might be full, there are also other reasons why an organ might be functionless. According to the creation model, God made Adam with a perfectly designed body. Since the Curse, each generation has suffered more and more genetic mutation so that, over time, a once functioning organ could have completely lost all function. So functionless organs aren't a worry to creationists at all.

Now the test of uselessness is not the most technical criterion used by evolutionists to identify vestigial organs. Many prefer to say that structure is vestigial if it no longer serves its original purpose. Thus a structure like a panda's thumb, even though it has function, can still be called vestigial because it is believed to have once been a bone from the wrist. My complaint with this definition is that, again, it is not very rigorous. In a sense, it could be applied to any structure. After all, according to evolution, wings are simply modified forelimbs. Feathers are simply modified scales. Legs are simply modified fish fins. Remember that one definition of evolution is “descent with modification.” Every structure has been modified from something else so literally any organ could be called vestigial. The final word in labeling a functioning organ as vestigial is the largely arbitrary (and certainly subjective) opinion of how well the structure is adapted to its new use. Wings are considered very successful adaptations of forelimbs; pandas' thumbs are considered poor adaptations of wrist bones (though pandas use them very adeptly). Thus wings are not called vestigial and pandas' thumbs are.

It's more than a minor annoyance that evolutionists are so quick to label an organ as vestigial. Why do they do this? I suggest that it's possible that, since evolution virtually demands there be vestigial organs, evolutionists are prone to pin the label of “vestigial” on any structure whose function is not immediately obvious. Their quack theory has even thwarted medicine, since, for so long a time, many researchers have not even bothered to look for the purpose of organs that have been too quickly identified as useless. I think medicine would greatly benefit if we began with the premise that it's there for a reason!