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Friday, August 31, 2007

"ONE MUST CHOOSE"

Reasoning About Fideism
by Caleb Colley, B.A., B.S.


Apologetics is the “reasoned defense of the Christian religion. Christianity is a faith, to be sure; but there are reasons for this faith. Faith is not to be confused with reason; but neither is it to be separated from it” (Sproul, et al., 1984, p. 13). However, some suggest that if there are reasons, there is no room for faith, and that religion must be founded solely on faith, absent of reason. “One must choose,” fideists say, “between a religion of faith and a religion of reason; one cannot have both” (Sproul, et al., p. 13). Geisler and Brooks noted:

Fideism holds that the only way we can know anything about God is by faith. Truth is subjective and personal, so we can believe it but not prove it. There are no rational proofs or empirical evidence that can lead us to knowledge of God. We must simply believe that what He has said in His Word and done in our lives is true. Ultimately, as the old hymn says, “You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart” (1990, p. 267).

This is the fallacy of fideism. “You commit this fallacy when you say...that one must ‘just accept it by faith’” (Hoover, 1975, p. 2).

Often, even religionists insist that the correct basis for belief in God, Christ, or the inspiration of the Bible, must be devoid of reason. They say it’s alright for us to believe in the metaphysical, but we had better not argue for the validity of our claims by using evidence and reaching reasonable conclusions from such evidence. Some who profess Christianity express a fideistic conviction when they say things such as, “I don’t need evidence that God exists. I just believe it.” Christian apologist Dick Sztanyo wrote: “Most modern ideas of faith are fideistic, since they deny or denigrate the role of reason in Christianity.... The agnostic says, ‘I do not, and cannot know, whether God exists.’ The fideist merely adds, ‘but I accept it by faith’” (1996, pp. 9-10).

Michael Martin gave a fitting summary of the doctrinal implications of this approach: “A Christian could maintain that I am correct to argue that it is irrational to believe that Christian doctrines are true but nevertheless affirm that he or she will continue to believe despite all the counter-evidence and arguments” (1991, p. 224). If Christians are unwilling to argue rationally the validity of their faith, then, the atheist rightly insists, they are forced to discard artificially the reasoned arguments of those who are antagonistic to Christianity.

MAY FIDEISM BE TRUE?
Fideism defeats itself from the outset, because it uses reason to imply that we should not use reason in matters of religion. Geisler articulated this contradiction:

[E]ither a fideist offers a justification for his belief or else he does not. If he does not, then as an unjustified belief it has no rightful claim to knowledge (since human knowledge is justified belief). On the other hand, if the fideist offers a justificiation for his belief—as indeed the whole argument for fideism would seem to be—then he is no longer a fideist, since he has an argument or justification for holding his belief in fideism. In short, either fideism is not a rightful claimant to truth or else it is self-defeating. But in neither case can it be established to be true (1976, pp. 63-64).

Still, it is necessary to consider the specific charge of fideism, that religion is exclusively a matter of faith, and never human reason.

As it attacks the pillars of Christianity, fideism strikes at the very foundation of knowledge itself. Fideism logically reduces to experientialism, the concept of a suprarational comprehension (Gray, 2005, p. 108). A subjective, “better-felt-than-told” experience becomes the foundation for all belief; we cannot know the truth unless we have “experienced” it in some way. Again, in this construct, reason has nothing to do with knowledge, comprehension, or application of truth. Gray summarized this particular problem with fideism: “If it works for me, it is true.... In fideism, the heart has primacy” (pp. 108,118). The belief that all Jews should be eliminated from the planet “worked” for Hitler in his heart, but was his heartfelt belief true? Obviously, fideism leaves us without hope for knowing absolute truth.

Consider that the principle that reason precludes belief is an unreasonable rule, one which is applied nowhere other than in the debate concerning God and religion. In the legal arena, for example, witnesses provide evidence which leads unbiased judges and juries to ascertain the facts. The presence of reliable evidence that points to the conclusion that suspect Smith murdered Jones, for example, causes jurors to develop faith in the fact that Smith did commit murder. The jurors do not quibble, “How can we believe that Smith murdered Jones on the basis of the evidence that proves Smith murdered Jones?” In every practical and theoretical arena, we consider evidence to be valuable because it allows us, as rational individuals, to use our reasoning skills and reach appropriate conclusions. Why should we view questions related to religion in a totally different light?

In the light of the devastating problems with fideism, why might a person become a fideist? Many are attracted to fideism because they sense the fact that human reason alone cannot save (see Geisler, 1976, p. 47). Or, one may choose fideism out of a desire to emphasize the personal, practical aspects of Christianity instead of the “nuts and bolts” of doctrine. Fideists frequently emphasize the personal factor of religion, avoid an exalted view of human reason, and call people to faith in Christ (see Boa and Bowman, 2001, p. 444). Regardless of these positive conceptions of fideism, we must ask whether the Bible teaches that human reason has nothing to do with faith in God and salvation.

SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE AGAINST FIDEISM
It is true that the Christian religion and the plan of salvation is the product of God and not human reasoning (2 Peter 1:20-21; cf. Thompson, 2003b). This does not imply, however, that God requires people to believe in Him without providing them with adequate evidence for His existence, or that God does not require people to use their rational capabilities.

The natural order demands that the rational person must conclude that a Creator caused nature to come into existence (see Thompson, 2003a, pp. 67-154). The intelligent design evident in the Universe imposes upon our thinking the existence of a Designer. As Gray explained, “The fideistic posture denies that one can gain an understanding of the reality of God from nature alone through an objective investigation of empirical fact. At the least, one could not demonstrate how one arrived at this understanding according to publicly accepted canons of discursive reasoning” (2005, p. 109, emp. added).

There is an abundance of scriptural evidence supporting the position that right religion is founded upon the use of reasoning from the natural order. The prophet Isaiah recorded these words: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). The psalmist contended, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Paul explained this point in greater detail: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...” (Romans 1:20). God demands that people use their powers of reasoning to come to know Him (see 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Jesus upheld the significance of reasoning and intelligent, critical thinking. On one occasion, a Pharisaical lawyer asked Jesus, “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matthew 22:36-37, emp. added). The mind operates in the realm of rationality. As humans dedicate their minds to the Lord’s service, they will reason concerning the evidence for their convictions. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus claimed that people must understand the Gospel in order to accept and apply it (Matthew 13:19). We cannot fulfill our responsibility to worship “in truth,” without first analyzing and reasoning about the biblical doctrines related to worship (John 4:24).

Furthermore, Jesus participated in rational argumentation. Hoover noted:

You could never say that Jesus avoided argument. He engaged in skilled disputation with his opponents, confuting them on such matters as paying tribute to Caesar (Mt. 22:21), the authority of John the Baptist (Mt. 21:24), the resurrection and the afterlife (Mt. 12:18-27), and the relation between David and the Messiah (Lk. 20:41-44). Even though Jesus often accused his opponents of intellectual dishonesty (Jn. 9:41), he seldom shunned a discussion with a serious and honest opponent. On one occasion, when he found such an opponent, he said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (1975, p. 3-4, parenthetical items in orig.).

Our Lord rejected the notion that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. If we subscribe to fideism, we do so without divine authority (Colossians 3:17).

Peter emphasized the necessity of “giving a reason”: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). The fideist would have Christians respond to inquiries concerning the hope that lies within us by saying, “There is no reason. Reason has nothing to do with it. I simply believe it because I have chosen to do so.” In the New Testament, we find numerous accounts of reasoned defenses of the Christian religion (see Acts 2; 4; 7; 22; etc.).

Peter’s admonition to “give a reason” stands alongside other New Testament passages which teach the necessity of a reasoned approach to Christianity: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, emp. added). “I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:14). “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (Philippians 1:9, emp. added). Paul prayed that the Ephesian brethren would have “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling...” (Ephesians 1:17-18, emp. added).

We could spend much space considering scriptural illustrations of the need for human reason in the process of obedience. Concerning the example of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Sproul and his colleagues noted:

God Himself provides evidence for the claim that He is the true God, displaying His divine credentials openly. Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and put the question before the people: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21 RSV). Elijah stood in the breach between two mutually exclusive truth claims. He did not ask for an arbitrary decision or an existential leap into the abyss of subjectivity. He called for a decision based on evidence.... The fire that fell from heaven not only consumed the altars of Baal, but reduced the false claims of Baal to ashes (p. 18, parenthetical item in orig.).

God gave Gideon a sign to demonstrate the authenticity and authority of His commands (Judges 6:30-40). God gave signs to Moses that demonstrated that Moses spoke on behalf of the Creator (Exodus 4-5). In the New Testament, Jesus healed the paralytic in order that those present might believe that He had authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-11). In John’s gospel account, Jesus explained the importance of evidence in His ministry:

If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent me (John 5:31-36).

Therefore, “By divine example and divine command apologetics is a mandate God gives to His people. If God Himself provides evidence for what He declares to be truth it is calumnous [sic] to repudiate the value of evidence. If God commands us to do the work of apologetics it is disobedience to refuse the task” (Sproul, et al., 1984, p. 20). The notion of “blind faith” is completely foreign to the Bible (see Miller, 2003). To deny the proper role of evidence is to stand against not only common sense, but the Scriptures. Noted Christian apologist Thomas B. Warren observed: “The very way the Bible is written demands the recognition and honoring of logic and/or the law of rationality. The Holy Spirit guided the writing of sixty-six books, all of which must be considered and fitted together logically by the correct use of man’s powers of reason” (1982, p. 2). If we believe the Bible, then we must conclude that God expects human beings to use their reasoning powers in order to come into a right relationship with Him. We must agree that God reveals evidence in the natural realm, and that we must deal reasonably with that evidence (see Estabrook and Thompson, 2001).

According to the Bible, there is no way to live a life of faith without trusting in the Word of God. According to the Bible, knowledge always precedes faith. Consider Warren’s logical examination of this issue:

The Bible makes clear that men must know the truth in order to be saved (John 8:32). The Bible also makes clear that men are to “walk by faith and not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7). But it must be noted that these two passages do not contradict one another. Rather, handling the two passages correctly (reasoning correctly about them) leads one to the conclusion (in the light of Romans 10:17, which says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God) that, in so far as salvation is concerned, knowledge and faith are inextricably related. One cannot have the faith which God requires as a prerequisite to salvation without knowing what the word of God teaches. There is one and only one way of demonstrating that one has faith: obedience to the word of God.... [F]aith must be preceded by knowledge of the word of God! (1982, pp. 116-117, emp. and parenthetical items in orig.).

If biblical faith, and therefore salvation, are contingent upon a reasoned knowledge of God (which is available through general and special revelation), then a person cannot be both a fideist and a Christian.

CONCLUSION
There are good reasons for belief in God, the divinity of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Bible (see Thompson, 2003a; Warren, 1972; Butt and Lyons, 2006; Thompson, 2003b). As Sztanyo concluded, “any concept of faith that severs it from its objective, epistemological bases (i.e., its foundation of knowledge) is at variance with biblical teaching” (1996, p. 10, emp. and parenthetical item in orig.).

It is impossible for a person, absent of God’s revelation, to reason his way into a right relationship with God. No one ever will “think up” his own ticket to heaven (Romans 10:13-14; cf. Ephesians 2:8-9,14). For the plan of salvation, we look to the inspired Word of God (see Lyons and Butt, 2004), which appeals to human rationality. Miller summarized:

The proof in our day is no less conclusive, nor is it any less compelling. While it is not within the purview of this brief article to prove such...the following tenets are provable: (1) we can know (not merely think, hope, or wish) that God exists (Romans 1:19-20); (2) we can know that the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, and intended to be comprehended in much the same way that any written human communication is to be understood; (3) we can know that one day we will stand before God in judgment and give account for whether we have studied the Bible, learned what to do to be saved, and obeyed those instructions; and (4) we can know that we know (1 John 2:3) (Miller, 2003, emp. and parenthetical items in orig.).

The God Who created us expects us to base our beliefs and actions upon nothing save rational principles. If we are fair with the Scriptures, we will find that the truth which makes us free is understandable and reasonable (John 8:32). The Christian life is one of faith based on reason (see Miller, 2002).

REFERENCES
Boa, Kenneth and Robert M. Bowman, Jr. (2001), Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach to Defending Christianity (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress).

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Estabrook, Jim, and Bert Thompson (2001), “Will Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel Be Lost?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/469.

Geisler, Norman L. (1999), Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Geisler, Norman (1976), Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Geisler, Norman L. and Ronald M. Brooks (1990), When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor).

Gray, Phillip A. (2005), Training Manual for Cultural Combat: Apologetics and Preaching for the Postmodern Mind (Altamonte Springs, FL: Advantage).

Hoover, Arlie J. (1975), Fallacies of Unbelief (Abilene, TX: Biblical Research Press).

Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2004), “Taking Possession of What God Gives: A Case Study in Salvation,” [On-lone], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2546.

Martin, Michael (1991), The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press).

Miller, Dave (2002), “Christianity is Rational,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1975.

Miller, Dave (2003), “Blind Faith,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1963.

Sproul, R.C., John Gerstner, Arthur Lindsley (1984), Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books).

Sztanyo, Dick (1996), Faith and Reason (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Thompson, Bert (2003a), The Case for the Existence of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Thompson, Bert (2003b), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Warren, Thomas B. (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God? (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).

Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).





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Evolution is a fact.....Yeh, sure is!

Yesterday’s “New Reality of Evolution” Debunked Again
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


For several decades, leading evolutionists have attempted to sell their beloved theory as “fact.” In 1944, W.W. Howells wrote: “Evolution is a fact like digestion” (p.5, emp. added). Eight years later, Richard Goldschmidt arrogantly asserted: “Evolution of the animal and plant world is considered by all those entitled to a judgment to be a fact for which no further proof is needed” (1952, 49:84, emp. added). J. Savage penned a book in the mid-1960s, titled Evolution, in which he alleged “the fact of evolution is amply clear” (1965, preface, emp. added). In a 1980 Newsweek article, Stephen J. Gould gave us one of the more memorable quotes on evolution, saying, “Evolution is a fact, like apples falling out of trees” (as quoted in Adler, 1980, 96[18]:95, emp. added). More recently, Thomas Hayden, writing for U.S. News & World Report, exclaimed: “By now, scientists say, evolution is no longer ‘just a theory.’ It’s an everyday phenomenon, a fundamental fact of biology as real as hunger and as unavoidable as death” (2002, 133[4]:43, emp. added).

Interestingly, however, yesterday’s evolutionary “facts” and “proofs” crumble under the weight of present-day truths. At one time, evolutionists heralded the alleged fact that human embryos retrace their evolutionary heritage (a concept known as “ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny”). Although uninformed (or dishonest) evolutionists occasionally still use this argument, both creationists and informed evolutionists know that

[e]mbryology provides no support whatsoever for the evolutionary hypothesis.... Now that the appearance of the embryo at all stages is known, the general feeling is one of disappointment; the human embryo at no stage is anthropoid in appearance. The embryo of the mammal never resembles the worm, the fish, or the reptile (Keith, 1932, p. 94).

Similarly, for decades textbook writers passed off evolutionary theory as fact with the renowned horse family tree. Due to the severe lack of fossil evidence linking the various horse “family members” together, many evolutionists have abandoned horse evolution. “The uniform, continuous transformation of Hyracotherium into Equus, so dear to the hearts of generations of textbook writers, never happened in nature” (Simpson, 1953, p. 125, emp. added).

Consider one other recent example of evolutionary “fact” turned fiction. Five years ago, on the cover of U.S. News and World Report were the words “The New Reality of Evolution.” The overly confident cover-story author, Thomas Hayden, assured everyone at the very outset that evolution is a “fundamental fact” (2002, 133[4]:43). He then paraded various alleged proofs before the reader (“proofs” that Apologetics Press exposed as hoaxes two months later; see Harrub and Thompson, 2002). One of Hayden’s statements, however, was not disproved for another three years. He wrote:

We may owe our own dominance to the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. As mammals, we like to think that we’re pretty...superior. The sad truth: “Mammals coexisted with dinosaurs for 150 million years but were never able to get beyond little ratlike things,” says Knoll. “It was only when the dinosaurs were removed that mammals had the ecological freedom to evolve new features” (2002, 133[4]:45).

Statements like this routinely appear in evolutionary articles purporting “the facts.” But, as so often is the case, when more evidence is gathered, evolutionary “facts” become outright errors. Whereas Hayden touted “the reality” of evolution and “the sad truth” that mammals in the time of the dinosaurs were “never able to get beyond little ratlike things” (p. 45, emp. added), three years later the fossils of a mammal “20 times larger” than what evolutionists believed to be possible were reported to be in the same fossil beds as the dinosaurs (see Verrengia, 2005). Another mammal discovered in the same region actually had the remains of a five-inch dinosaur in its stomach—proof that mammals much larger than chipmunks and rats not only lived with dinosaurs, but even ate some of them (see Hu, et al., 2005, 433:151).

It has been over two years since the “truth” purported by U.S. News & World Report to bolster the case for evolution’s “reality” was shown clearly to be an error. Sadly, more people hear about the false “reality” of evolution than its many errors. We should not be surprised. After all, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). What bigger and more destructive lie could the devil sell than atheistic evolution?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness...who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:18,25).

REFERENCES
Adler, Jerry (1980), “Is Man a Subtle Accident?,” Newsweek, 96[18]:95, November 3.

Goldschmidt, Richard (1952), American Scientist, 49:84.

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2002), “Creationists Fight Back! A Review of U.S. News & World Report,” Reason & Revelation, 22[9]:65-71, September, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2094.

Hayden, Thomas (2002), “A Theory Evolves,” U.S. News & World Report, 133[4]:42-50, July 29.

Howells, W.W. (1944), Mankind So Far (New York: Doubleday).

Hu, Yaoming, Jin Meng, Yuanqing Wang, and Chuankui Li (2005), “Large Mesozoic Mammals Fed on Young Dinosaurs,” Nature, 433:149-152, January 13.

Keith, Arthur (1932), The Human Body (London: Thornton and Butterworth).

Savage, J. (1965), Evolution (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston).

Simpson, George Gaylord (1953), Life of the Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).

Verrengia, Joseph (2005), “Dinosaur Fossils Found in Mammal’s Stomach,” LiveScience, January 12, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/animals/belly_beast_050112.html.





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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Are You Listening?

IGNORING THE WARNINGS

"A West Virginia State Trooper, stopped a woman for going 15 miles over the speed limit. After he handed her a ticket, she asked him, "Don't you give out warnings?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied. "They're all up and down the road. They say, 'Speed Limit 55.'" (from Readers Digest, "All In a Day's Work", by Patricia Greenlee)

This story reminds me that one day we will stand before the great Judge. There are many people who expect they will receive merely a "warning" and then they will be given an opportunity to try again. The response on that day will be, "I gave out plenty of warnings -- all through your life -- but you ignored them all."

Remember the rich man in Luke 16 who died and went to Hades? He begged for a messenger to be sent back as a warning to his brothers. The response he got was this:

"They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them....If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." (Luke 16:29,31)

The warnings are there, all over the road. If we ignore the warnings and live the way we want to live rather than for the glory of God, then we shouldn't be surprised when the punishment is issued on the Last Day.

The warnings are there -- listen and heed them.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happy Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!



I'm 65 today. Nothing magic about that number, but I'll take it. Some days I feel older than that on the outside. I've never felt even close to that on the inside. I'm about 35 on the inside. What happens on the inside has so much to do with what happens on the outside. "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)



Some people die when they're 28, but they're not buried until they're 82. Get a life! Every day has 24 golden hours - don't waste even one of them. Live till you die! Whether you are on first base in life or rounding third for the sprint toward home, give it everything you've got and don't trip up someone else. Life is good and getting better with each passing day. At least mine is - I hope you can say the same.

An old man was asked what had robbed him of joy the most in his lifetime. He replied, "Things that never happened!"

Someone has cited these three keys to happiness:

1)Fret not--He loves you (John 13:1)

2)Faint not--He holds you (Psalm 139:10)

3)Fear not--He keeps you (Psalm 121:5)

Have a happy day - this one's on me! - Tom Butterfield

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greater Than God

A riddle is making the rounds through e-mail. You may have already seen it, but if you haven't, I think you'll enjoy it. It is said that when asked this riddle, 80% of kindergarten students got the answer, compared to 17% of Stanford university seniors. Here's the riddle:

What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich want it, and if you eat it, you'll die?

What is it??

Think about it and then scroll down for the answer.














The answer is "nothing". Nothing is greater than God, nothing is more evil than the devil, the poor have nothing, the rich want nothing, and if you eat nothing you will die!

It seems so obvious. Maybe that's why younger children have an easier time answering it than educated adults. As we get more educated and more sophisticated, we look for deeper answers. But no matter how much we learn, the question, "What is greater than God?" (and anything else attached to it) will always have the same answer.

"I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders..." (Psalm 77:11-14a).

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Looking Like a Christian

A little old Jewish lady is flying out of New York City on her way to Miami Beach. She looks at the businessman sitting next to her and asks him, "Excuse me sir, but are you Jewish?"

The man responds politely, "No, ma'am, I'm not Jewish."

After a little while she again queries him. "You're really Jewish, aren't you?"

Again he responds, "No, ma'am, I am not Jewish."

Barely 10 minutes later, the little old lady asks him once more, "Are you sure you're not Jewish?"

To which, in exasperation and in a final effort to shut her up, he replies, "OK. Yes, ma'am, I am Jewish."

"Funny," she says, looking puzzled. "You don't look Jewish!"

Makes me wonder. If anyone approached me and asked me, "Are you a Christian?" and I answered, "Yes", would they be inclined to say, "Funny, you don't look like a Christian"?

I'm not talking about looking like the world's stereotype of a Christian -- a sour-looking guy with a scowl on his face, not enjoying life at all. I merely wonder if my Christianity is something that can be seen by the people who see me every day. I know what I believe, but is that belief translating into action? Can anyone tell?

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

Do you look like a Christian?

Alan Smith

Getting What We Pray For

A mother sent her fifth grade boy up to bed. In a few minutes she went to make sure that he was getting in bed. When she stuck her head into his room, she saw that he was kneeling beside his bed in prayer. Pausing to listen to his prayers, she heard her son praying over and over again. "Let it be Tokyo! Please dear God, let it be Tokyo!"

When he finished his prayers, she asked him, "What did you mean, 'Let it be Tokyo'?"

"Oh," the boy said with embarrassment, "we had our geography exam today and I was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of France."

Prayer is not a magical means by which we get God to do what we want. While God desires that we brings our petitions to Him, He has not promised to give us everything that our heart desires. In fact, if an earthly father were to do that to a child ("Oh, you want to touch the hot stove? Go ahead!"), we would consider that father guilty of child abuse. We realize that a godly father sorts through the needs and the wants of his child and ultimately decides to give his child what is in his best interest and what will bring that child the most happiness in the long run.

William Temple was right when he said, ""We do not pray in order to change his will, but to bring our own wills into harmony with his." As we make our requests to God, we remain open to the idea that God may have something better in mind for us. His purpose may be fulfilled in our lives in a way we cannot even imagine. So, if we pray we ought, we come away feeling blessed, knowing that God has received our petition, but confident as well knowing that if God knows a better path for our lives, He will lead us in that direction.

"And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and he knelt down and prayed, saying, 'Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done." (Luke 22:41-42)

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You have got to love their thinking! Bless their Hearts!

Thinking Like Scientists Think They Think
by Kyle Butt, M.A.

In the July 9, 2007 issue of Newsweek, science writer Sharon Begley penned a four-page section on “scientific” topics such as cloning, evolution, and the Big Bang. Near the end of the section, she wrote a brief article titled “How to Think Like a Scientist.” Begley quotes Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as saying that one of the real problems today is that “people don’t understand what is and isn’t science” (2007b, 150[2]:65). Begley then proceeds to define scientific thinking for the reader. Begley states: “Explanations of large classes of phenomena must make testable predictions and be falsifiable. That is, there must be a way to make an observation that could disprove the explanation” (150[2]:65). Begley continues by stating: “The requirement of falsifiability rules out supernatural explanations; you cannot disprove, for instance, the claim that God scattered fossils throughout rock strata.... God may have done that, but we’ll never know and there is no way to disprove it. In that way, faith is fundamentally different from science” (150[2]:65).

Begley contends, as do many other “science” writers, that belief in a supernatural creator falls outside the realm of science. Thus, science textbooks that deal with scientific explanations must exclude any mention of a supernatural creator. Begley is wrong in this regard. In a previous article, I have dealt with the false notion that what passes for modern science is testable (see Butt, 2005). More specifically, however, consider Begley’s discussion of the Big Bang as it relates to her claim of scientific falsifiability.

Near the beginning of her four-page section, Begley wrote a single-column post titled: “Glimpses of A Cosmic Creation” (2007a). In that article, she states: “It [the Big Bang—KB] occurred 13.7 billion years ago, an explosion that created all matter and energy.... The universe expanded from a very hot, condensed ‘singularity’—the likes of which can be found today in black holes” (150[2]:62). Begley makes it sound like you could hop on a space shuttle, stop off at the nearest “black hole” and find a “singularity” (whatever that is) that perfectly coincides with the beginning of our Universe. In truth, however, such is an absolutely false idea. Evolutionary scientists themselves admit that the Big Bang theory is fraught with “testability peril.”

Recently, Eric Lyons wrote an article titled: “The Big Fizzle: Admissions from an Evolutionary Astrophysicist” (2007). In that article, he documented several quotes from Dr. Peter Coles, professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham. The gist of Dr. Coles’ sentiments are summed up in his statement: “Within just a few years inflation [the expansion of the Universe after the Big Bang—KB] had become an indispensable part of cosmological theory.... The only problem was that there wasn’t a shred of evidence that inflation had actually happened” (as quoted in Lyons, 2007, emp. added). Paul Davies, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, wrote: “Most scientists regard the cosmic initial conditions as lying outside the scope of science altogether” (1992, p. 88, emp. added). Professor Lawrence M. Principe, from Johns Hopkins University, wrote concerning the inception of the Universe: “This seems to be something that science, at least as we know it, can’t address” (2006, p. 113).

Begley’s attempt to present the Big Bang as a scientific theory that is testable and falsifiable manifests an inexcusably dishonest approach to legitimate science. Real scientific thinking means following the evidence to any conclusion warranted by the data. The scientists of the past knew this—men such as Newton, Farraday, Von Braun, Pasteur, Carver, and a host of others. That is why their scientific minds were forced by the overwhelming evidence to conclude that a supernatural creator exists. Thinking like biased evolutionists, however, means throwing out such conclusions because, if they are considered, evolution crumbles under their weight.

REFERENCES

Begley, Sharon (2007a), “Glimpses of A Cosmic Creation,” Newsweek, 150[2]:62, July 9.
Begley, Sharon (2007b), “How to Think Like a Scientist,” Newsweek, 150[2]:65, July 9.
Butt, Kyle (2005), “Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Testability,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2778.
Davies, Paul (1992), The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World (New York: Orion).
Lyons, Eric (2007), “The Big Fizzle: Admissions from an Evolutionary Astrophysicist,” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3393.
Principe, Lawrence M. (2006), Science and Religion (Chantilly, VA: Teaching Company).
Copyright © 2007 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Sensible Science" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.
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Man's Amazing Fly...Maybe!!!

Who Makes the World’s Best Fliers?by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

For more than seven years, Dr. Robert Wood and a team of researchers from Harvard University have been studying flies and attempting to build a life-size, flying robot that can mimic the flight of living flies. The government is hopeful that robotic flies might one day be used as spies in surveillance missions, as well as to detect toxic chemicals used by terrorists. On July 19, 2007, MIT’s Technology Review announced that Wood’s “robotic fly has taken flight at Harvard University” (Ross, 2007). Dr. Ron Fearing of the University of California, Berkeley has been studying the dynamics of insect flight for years. In fact, he is Wood’s former Ph.D. advisor. He called Wood’s robotic flying insect “a major breakthrough” (as quoted in Ross).

What do brilliant scientists have to show for their seven plus years of research on flies? What was the “major project milestone” reported in Technology Review? Why was Wood joyfully “jumping up and down in the lab” (Ross)? Answer: his life-size robotic fly took off. It cannot maneuver in the air. It is unable to be controlled. It cannot avoid obstacles. It cannot slow down and land on a specific target. It does not have its own power source (and even if it did, it could provide no more than five minutes of power to fly). “At the moment, Wood’s fly is limited by a tether that keeps it moving in a straight, upward direction” (Ross). Yet, since “a lot of people thought it would never be able to take off,” such a feat is considered remarkable.

Admittedly, Woods and his colleagues have done a superb job in building a life-size robotic fly that can move upward on a tether by flapping its synthetic wings. It takes extremely intelligent individuals to develop their own fabrication process and manufacture a tiny robot that resembles and mimics (to some degree) living flies. Yet, these same men advocate that real flies, which have “long puzzled scientists and bedazzled engineers” with their “magical,” “sophisticated,” “intricate maneuvers,” are the end result of mindless time and chance, i.e., evolution (Dye, 2007). Such a proposition defies common sense!

Were Woods and his team of researchers to leave hundreds of tiny carbon-polymer pieces lying around in a lab for 100 years (or one billion years!), no reasonable person would conclude that, eventually, time and chance would assemble a robotic fly, much less one that maneuvers as well as a real fly. It has taken intelligent, hardworking scientists more than seven years just to make a robotic fly lift off the ground.

Who made the often imitated, but never duplicated living fly that can “change the direction of its flight by 90 degrees in about 50 thousandths of a second” (Dye)? Who designed the fruit fly’s “spiffy neuron-circuitry” that allows it to rotate from north to west and then zip westward “in one-fifth the blink of a human eye” (Dye)? Who made the fly, its sesame-seed size brain, and its complicated flight dynamics that scientists have been unable to “figure out” fully even after several years of study? Did mere time and chance create the common fly, which Dr. Michael Dickinson of the California Institute of Technology said has “the fastest visual system” and “most powerful muscles on the planet” (as quoted in Dye)? Should we conclude, as did Dr. Wood, that “[n]ature makes the world’s best fliers” (as quoted in Ross)? Certainly not! Only a superior Intelligence outside and above nature’s time and chance logically explains the existence of intricate design. Indeed, God is the builder and maker of all things (Hebrews 3:4).


REFERENCES

Dye, Lee (2007), “Scientists Study the Amazing Flight of Flies,” ABC News, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97651&page=1.
Ross, Rachel (2007), “Robotic Insect Takes Off for the First Time,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19068/.
Copyright © 2007 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Decisive Designs" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

HUMAN EVOLUTION..What! Another problem again!!!

More Problems for Alleged Human Evolution
by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Most of us remember seeing the drawings in science textbooks. The evolution of man depicted in its various “well-documented” stages, from ape-like ancestor to modern Homo sapiens. This “ape-like-ancestor-to-man,” gradual progression entrenched in science textbooks for the past four-five decades, posted in museums of natural history and force-fed to several generations, is currently coming under heavy attack—and not just from creationists.

In 2000, renowned paleontologist Meave Leakey and her co-workers discovered two fossils in Kenya. The team reported on the fossil finds in the August issue of Nature magazine (448[7145]:688-691). The fossils Leakey found were of alleged human ancestors named Homo erectus and Homo habilis. It was supposed by many in the scientific community that Homo habilis was the human ancestor that evolved into Homo erectus which evolved into humans. Leakey, et al., reported, however, that the skull they found of Homo erectus was in walking distance to an upper jawbone of Homo habilis (Borenstein, 2007). Thus, the new find suggests to the scientific community that Homo habilis did not evolve into Homo erectus, eliminating another key character from the evolution-of-man progressionary chart.

What reactions has this new find evoked? Borenstein wrote that it “pokes holes in the chief theory of man’s early evolution—that one species evolved from another” (2007). Fred Spoor, a co-author of the Nature article, said the new fossils paint a “chaotic kind of looking evolutionary tree rather than this heroic march that you see with the cartoons of an early ancestor evolving into some intermediate and eventually unto us” (as quoted in Borenstein, 2007). Borenstein also interviewed Bill Kimbel, science director of the institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Kimbel noted that the old idea of human evolution “is just too simple and keeps getting revised.” He noted that the evolutionary scientific community “used to think Homo sapiens evolved from Neanderthals. But now we know that both species lived during the same time period and that we did not come from Neanderthals” (2007).

It is obvious to the unbiased observer that something is dreadfully wrong with alleged human evolution. We are supposed to believe that humans evolved over millions of years from knuckle-walking, ape-like creatures into upright, intelligent, talking humans. When we ask for proof of this idea, we are told that the fossil record verifies the various stages of this evolution, and the evolutionary community is gracious enough to provide cartoon-like illustrations depicting the stages that are supposedly documented by the fossil evidence. Yet, when we begin to analyze the data behind the picture, we are told, “Oh, we’re not sure that ape-like creature had anything to do with human evolution.” Or we are told, “Right, well those two lived at the same time so the one could not have evolved into the other.”

What, then, are we told to do with this ever-shifting, elusive human family tree that is continuously rearranged and redefined? We are simply told to trust that humans really did evolve and not worry over the “details” of how it happened. Susan Anton, another co-author of the Leakey report, said that she expects “anti-evolutionists” will use the new information to attack evolution, but she says that would be a mistake. “This is not questioning the idea at all of evolution; it is refining some of the specific points. This is a great example of what science does and religion doesn’t do. It’s a continous [sic] self-testing process” (as quoted in Borenstein, 2007).

Consider Anton’s statement. We are told that humans evolved from ape-like creatures, given as evidence a series of alleged ancestors, then told that they are not really ancestors at all, but that we should still believe in human evolution. The truth of the matter is, humans did not evolve from lower mammals, and the “evidence” that is constantly being “refined” is so tenuous that a measly skull and jawbone can rewrite an entire family tree that evolutionary scientists have spent millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of work-hours, and half a century concocting. The material in the science textbooks of 50 years ago is useless and obsolete, yet at the time of its printing it was touted as irrefutable evidence for human evolution. The material in the textbook tomorrow will be in the same lamentable shape in another 40 years. Thus, we have a perpetual, vicious cycle in which the idea of human evolution is based on material that is constantly being refuted, but the most recent is said finally to be “it.” When will the evolutionary community cast an honest look back at the sordid history of their beloved theory of human evolution and recognize the cyclic of dishonest in which they are trapped? As one critical writer noted: “These people do not know who begat whom, and they can’t tell dates with any credibility; they keep losing links into gaps and moving things around, yet they expect us to believe they are the Masters of Enlightenment when telling us where we came from” (“Homo habilis Contemporary...,” 2007).

Ms. Anton is right about one thing, however. Unlike modern science, true religion is not continuously “refined on specific points” to completely alter the truthfulness of previous statements. On the contrary, “the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

REFERENCES
Borenstein, Seth (2007), “Fossils Challenge Old Evolution Theory,” [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070808/ap_on_sc/human_evolution;_ ylt=Ar1IbU5rxrwuu0f7YDcSgCWs0NUE.

“Homo habilis Contemporary with Homo erectus” (2007), Creation-Evolution Headlines, [On-line], URL: http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev200708.htm.

Leakey, Meave, et al. (2007), “Implications of New Early Homo Fossils from Ileret, East of Lake Turkana, Kenya,” Nature, 448[7154]:688-691, August, [On-line], URL: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7154/full/nature05986.html.





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Monday, August 06, 2007

Interesting, Sherlock

What Caused God?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q.
What caused God?

A.
Everyone knows the Christian’s response is to this question: God is eternal; He had no cause. Although atheists may think that this answer is a cop-out and unscientific, both observation and Revelation declare otherwise.

From what we observe in nature, matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. Scientists refer to this fact as the First Law of Thermodynamics. Evolutionists allege that the Universe began with the explosion of a ball of matter 13.6 billion years ago, yet they never have provided a reasonable explanation for the cause of the “original” ball of matter. An attempt was made recently in the April 28, 2007 issue of New Scientist magazine titled “The Beginning: What Triggered the Big Bang.” Notice, however, the last line of the article: “[T]he quest to understand the origin of the universe seems destined to continue until we can answer a deeper question: why is there anything at all instead of nothing?” (194[2601]:33, emp. added). The fact is, a logical, naturalistic explanation for the origin of the “original” ball of matter that supposedly led to the Universe does not exist. It cannot exist so long as the First Law of Thermodynamics is true (i.e., matter and energy cannot create itself).

Since the physical Universe exists, and yet it could not have created itself, then the Universe is either eternal or something/someone outside of the Universe must have created it. Relatively few scientists propose that the Universe is eternal. In fact, there would be no point in attempting to explain the “beginning” of the Universe if they believed it always existed. What’s more, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that matter and energy become less usable over time, has led scientists to conclude that the Universe has not always existed.

If matter is not eternal, however, and it cannot create itself, then the only logical conclusion is that something/someone outside of nature (i.e., supernatural) caused the Universe and everything in it. Christians call this Someone, “the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28).

REFERENCES
“The Universe Before Ours” (2007), New Scientist, 194[2601]:28-33, April 28.





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