googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Did the Ancient Hebrews Believe in a Literal Genesis?


Many liberal theists have made the claim that the ancient readers of the Bible never believed Genesis was meant to be literal. When I hear people make this claim, I've often asked them what literary clues are present that identify Genesis (or other relevant passages) as figurative and how can we distinguish them from simple narrative. The usual responses I get are a swift change of the subject (a red herring), links to liberal scholars who have made the same claim (appeals to authority), or an avalanche of literary terms that have absolutely no substance (argument by verbosity). I intend to write a more detailed discussion of this criticism in the future but on this occasion of New Years Eve, I wanted to point out a simple fact that might shine some light on the matter.

Our Gregorian calender was intended to count the years since the birth of Christ. There was a little goof in our math but, for the most part, it's been approximately 2,012 years since the birth of Christ.

Now the Jews, of course, do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah of Scripture and so their calender doesn't count the years since His birth. Instead, they have counted the years since creation. So, what year is it on the Jewish calender? It's 5,772.

Hmmm. Is it just a coincidence or is that not too far off from the typical creationist's understanding of the age of the earth? The claim has been made that creationists like myself are simply fanatical fundamentalists who take a hyper-literal view of Genesis that is not intended by the text. It seems to me that the Jewish calender agrees with me. If they are counting the years since the creation, they are far closer to my estimate of the earth's age than any evolutionist's estimate. I guess that means the ancient Hebrews were also young earth creationists!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 
(John 1:14)


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Attention Evolutionists: I'm Still Waiting on Evidence for Your Theory

A while back, there was an evo posting under the name of the_elf who challenged me on my claim about empiricism. I had said a lot of things in that conversation but he focused on one quote in particular. I had said, “You seem to believe that truth is obtained by observation and evidence.” He made a lot of hay about it and came up with some ridiculous experiments to “test” if we can learn something by observations. Obviously, he didn't get the point. OK, I admit he quoted me correctly. I wrote that. But I wrote a lot of other things so highlighting this single quote is more like a quote mine. For example, he completely glossed over the part where I said, “Observation and evidence are fine ways to learn about the creation.” Since some people are still having trouble understanding this concept, I thought I'd take a moment and expound on it a little more.

According to Wikipedia, empiricism is the “theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience.” It seems that a lot of evos suffer from this worldview. Not only do they demand evidence for my belief, they often ridicule all religion as irrational. In the same discussion, another evo (named “edge”) said, “RK, there is nothing rational about religion. Religion is belief without evidence. That is practically the definition of irrational.”

What strikes me as most peculiar about this attitude is the sheer contradiction of it. Where is the evidence that knowledge is only gained by evidence? It's laughable when you think about it. There are people who believe – without any evidence – that they won't believe anything without evidence. And they say “religion” is irrational? Also, according to this belief, we can never really know anything because we have not been everywhere and observed everything.

Yet an even more fundamental flaw than these is how seemingly obvious it is that there is another way to gain knowledge. I'm going to tell something very personal about my self: I have brown eyes. Now, most of the people who read my blog have never met me nor have they seen a picture of me. There is no way they could know that I have brown eyes except that I have told them. So we can see, knowledge can also be gained by revelation.

Of course, the usual rebuttal to my example is to point out that I could be lying. Maybe I really have blue eyes. So even though I claim to have brown eyes, skeptics wouldn't really know I had brown eyes until they see for themselves. This is rather arbitrary of them because they don't use this same skepticism concerning other evidence. For example, how much evidence for evolution have these skeptics seen first hand? Have they seen the fossils with their own eyes? Very few people have actually laid eyes on any fossils of supposed ancestors. The originals are all sequestered away. Also, have these skeptics done research in a lab? Of all the people who believe in evolution, only a fraction are scientists with training and experience in a related field.

You see, most people who insist on having evidence, rely only on revelation from people who have actually seen the evidence. That is, they believe in evolution because of what others have told them about it, not because they've seen the evidence for themselves. Yet so many evolutionists (even the non-scientist kind) demand evidence from me and then ridicule me for relying on revelation and for seeming to believe something they claim I have no evidence for.

In summary, I'm not interested in the evidence for evolution (at least not in this post). I'm more interested in the evidence for the philosophic underpinning for your brand of secular science. If you're only interested in evidence, then where is your evidence that knowledge is only gained by evidence? Where is your evidence that everything must have a natural explanation? Where is the evidence that only “scientific” evidence is valid evidence? Edge said religion is a belief without evidence. I'm still waiting on the evidence for your theory.

Some Christmas Cheer

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Extra-Biblical References to Jesus


Critics of Christianity attack the faith on many fronts. Certainly they disparage the Scriptures with claims that the Bible was written by men, it is not inspired by God, it is rife with errors, and it has been revised so much that we cannot possibly know what the original texts even said. Some other outrageous claims leveled against Christianity is that the Person of Christ is, Himself, a mythology that was invented and embellished centuries after He “supposedly” lived. The integrity of the Bible is far beyond any other book of antiquity (which will probably be the subject of a future post). The Bible is certainly the greatest witness we have to Jesus. Yet even beyond the Bible, we have other historical sources that attest to the historicity of Jesus as well as other people and events from the Bible.

Because the passages themselves are longer, I will let them speak for themselves with little commentary from me. Even so, I know this will be a longer post than usual. I apologize in advance.

FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (37 – 100 AD)

Flavius Josephus (aka Joseph ben Matthias) was a 1st century, Jewish priest and renowned historian. In his important work, The Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus made this very famous reference to Christ, which has come to be called the Testimonium Flavianum (the testimony of Flavius):
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.
Now, many skeptics are suspicious of this passage. The usual claim is that it is not authentic but was added later by some Christian interpolater. Some of the arguments I've heard supporting this position seem compelling. However, the majority of scholars hold to a “partial authenticity” view of this passage; that is, they believe even the original text contained a reference to Christ, albeit much less spectacular. They agree on something similar to the following reconstruction:
At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following among many Jews and among many of Gentile origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians (named after him) had not died out.
Even in this more tame version of the Testimonium Flavianum is remarkable. It attests not only the person of Jesus but also that He was a great teacher of truth, popular among both Jews and Gentiles, and that He was crucified by Pilate yet continued to be loved by His followers who called themselves “Christians” for His namesake.
Another passage from the Antiquities of the Jews, also mentions Jesus and is not disputed:
But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.
We see in this passage, James, the half-brother of Jesus and the author of the Epistle which bears his name. Josephus states clearly that Jesus is commonly identified as the “Christ” (the Annointed One).
On a final note from Josephus, we have another passage that does not mention Jesus but does discuss another well known character in the Bible, John the Baptist. This too is undisputed:
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God as a just punishment of what Herod had done against John, who was called the Baptist. For Herod had killed this good man, who had commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, righteousness towards one another and piety towards God. For only thus, in John's opinion, would the baptism he administered be acceptable to God, namely, if they used it to obtain not pardon for some sins but rather the cleansing of their bodies, inasmuch as it was taken for granted that their souls had already been purified by justice.
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS TACITUS (56-117 AD)
Tacitus was a Roman Senator and historian whose two major works – the Annals and the Histories – examine the reigns of Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. From the Annals, we have this passage:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
We see here that Tacitus attests to several details in the Bible including the crucifixion of Christ at the hand of Pontius Pilate.
GAIUS PLINIUS CAECILIUS SECUNDUS (61 – 112 AD)
Better known as Pliny the Younger, here was a lawyer and imperial magistrate under Roman emperor Trajan. In a letter he wrote to Trajan seeking advice, we find the following:
[T]hey [Christians] were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food.
Here is a glimpse at a first century worship service. In this quote, Pliny attests to the fact that the early Christians (whom he persecuted) would not worship idols nor the emperor, yet would sing songs to Jesus “as to a god.”

As I have already said, the Bible is the greatest witness to the Person of Jesus. However, these few historical sources quickly dispel the weak argument that Jesus was a myth.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Do Scotsmen and Creationists Have in Common?

I've written before how the evolutionists' demand for “evidence” is usually nothing more than special pleading. We're accused of having a faith bias for our theory (which we do) but they also have a philosophical foundation for their brand of science that is very “faith-like” in practice (which they deny). Just recently, though, I've spotted a No True Scotsman spin thrown into the mix. The illogical argument has been there all along, I just failed to correctly identify it before now. How embarrassing for me.

Anyway, I'm in another forum discussing the philosophical foundations of science while being insulted in return (as usual), when one of the nicer evos (who posts under the name GrannyM) made this comment:

What you [RKBentley] say here is absolutely true and it illustrates convincingly why Creationism is not science and can never be considered science: We do not know, and can not know, what an omnipotent deity could do, or would do. Where such a being is in play, there can be no science at all.”

GrannyM is referring to the philosophical, faith-like assumption of methodical naturalism which underpins all of secular science. Her point seems to be that if God were to perform a miracle, then all of nature is suspect. We could never be sure if something truly occurs naturally or if God simply made it appear that way.

I fail to see how a miraculous creation has any impact on science. If Adam were alive today, we could study him “scientifically.” We could take his pulse, temperature, blood pressure, etc. We could take blood samples, x-rays, study his DNA, and submit him to a battery of medical tests. We could have him run obstacle courses, take IQ tests, and test his abilities in a variety of ways. There is nothing about his supernatural origin that shields him from scientific inquiry. The same is true about the universe. So a refusal to consider a supernatural origin is a philosophical choice and not a scientific one.

Curiously absent from GrannyM's comments is any demonstration that creation is false; she only argues that it's not “scientific.” That's where the “No True Scotsman” argument lies.

I've written before how the No True Scotsman argument is a fallacy. In summary, it's an arbitrary qualifier that some people impose to disqualify their opponent's argument without having to deal with it. In this instance, the evolutionist is disqualifying creation from being “scientific” on the arbitrary grounds that it holds to a supernatural explanation. The demand for a natural explanation is a tenet of secular science and not an objective standard. There is no scientific evidence that says only natural explanations are scientific!

The word “science” means “knowledge” and not “natural.” It seems to me, people should be more interested in what is true than what is natural. If God created the universe by fiat, than that is what is true regardless of whether or not it is “scientific”.

The militant evolutionist says, Real science only looks for natural explanations.” Yep, that's a No True Scotsman argument alright. It's text book. I just can't believe I didn't catch it before.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We Should Have Zero Tolerance for Stupidity

OK all you guys out there, did you ever once think one of your school teachers was cute? I remember the first teacher (perhaps it was the only teacher) who I thought was cute. It was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Beagle. I started school young so, in the fifth grade, I would have been about 10 years old. Since I was prepubescent then, I certainly didn't think of her in an overtly sexual way. I just thought she was “cute”. Maybe I would have even described her as pretty. I don't recall ever telling anyone I thought she was cute but maybe I did. You know how boys are.

Well, I guess boys haven't changed too much since I was young. In North Carolina recently, a 9 year old boy was suspended for calling his teacher “cute.”1 Actually, he didn't “call” her cute; he was overheard telling a friend she was cute. A substitute teacher overheard the comment, reported the “offense,” and 9 year old, Emanyea Lockett was suspended for 3 days. “What “offense” had occurred?”, you might ask. It seems the school has a “zero-tolerance” policy concerning sexual harassment. Keep in mind that he had not said anything to the teacher – his comment to a friend that she was “cute” was itself considered harassment.

We've gone a little overboard with sexual harassment claims. The idea that harassment occurs in the mind of the victim without regard to the intent of the “assailant” is an invitation for abuse. But in this situation, the supposed victim wasn't even being harassed. She was merely being discussed. And she was being discussed in the most benign of terms. “Cute” might be used to describe pretty girls but it also applies to puppy dogs. It's certainly not a sexually charged term.

The story doesn't end there, though. School officials investigated the “incident” and determined Emanyea had done nothing wrong. THAT required an investigation? Anyway, they apparently felt the incident was so outrageous that the principal had used extremely poor judgment. They gave the principal, Jerry Bostic, an ultimatum: step down or be fired. Bostic, who had enjoyed a 44 year long career, stepped down.

After his resignation, Bostic spoke out against school superintendent, Reeves McGlohon, who had given him the ultimatum. Bostic said, I admit I made some errors in what I did, but to fire me or to demote me with 44 years in it, it just doesn't make sense. To me he [McGlohon] was a very heartless man, and he did it because of politics.” Now that's funny. He thinks McGlohon did this because of politics?

Why exactly did the school adopt a zero-tolerance policy in the first place? I suggest it precisely was because of politics. Bostics mistakes didn't begin with little Emanyea's comment but when he first bought into political correctness. He then painted himself into a corner by adopting a zero-tolerance policy. Bostic had made a series of bad judgments and stacked them up like a line of dominoes just waiting for some innocent comment, like the word “cute”, to tip them over.

Let this be a lesson to schools who adopt zero-tolerance policies. No matter how noble sounding the cause, it's always a bad idea. We've seen how zero-tolerance for sexual harassment can be abused but so can any other policy. A student who draws a picture of a gun gets suspended because of zero-tolerance for violence. A student who has an aspirin in his backpack gets suspended because of zero-tolerance for drugs. Where exactly do we draw the line?

Well, maybe there's one policy I might adopt. I think we should have zero-tolerance for stupidity.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dinosaur Death Pose: Just Add Water

Answers in Genesis posted a great find in their weekly News to Note. They've highlighted a gem from New Scientist titled, “Watery secret of the dinosaur death pose.” Here's the gist of the article: when scientists are lucky enough to find the complete skeleton of a dinosaur, there's a good chance it will have its head thrown backward and its tail arched upward. The position is so common, it has earned its own name, the “opisthotonic death pose.

What causes the pose has been much speculated. An enduring opinion has been that the pose is the result of the dying creature's death throes. A team from Brigham Young University recently attempted to recreate the condition. Leaving the carcasses of plucked chickens on a bed of sand for three months did not produce the muscle contortions. However, when the scientists placed seven chickens in cool, fresh water, their head was thrown back in seconds.

The article ends saying, “Cutler has confidence in her freshwater study: "Although the roads to the opisthotonic death pose are many, immersion in water is the simplest explanation.”

Needless to say, the finding is significant to the creation theory. Creationists have long held that the majority of fossils were created during the global deluge described in Genesis. These results seem to support that idea. It could be that the dinosaurs were immersed in water (the Flood), their muscles contorted as did the chickens, then they were buried rapidly in sediment – forever preserving their grim posture. And since the pose is so usual and is found everywhere in the world, it suggests the cause was global.

I like NewScientist's opening line, “Recreating the spectacular pose many dinosaurs adopted in death might involve following the simplest of instructions: just add water.” That should be on the mind of every scientist as they examine the world around us. As they consider why the world is as it is, they need to add water to the equation. They need to add the Flood!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Plain Meaning of Words

As usual, I was discussing the creation and evolution debate online when an evolutionist who posts under the name HRG starts questioning my interpretation of the Scriptures. Here are a few of his comments:

The plain words of the Bible tell us that the Earth is stationary and flat, covered with a solid dome. It took science to tell Christians not to interpret them literally.... Start with the objective evidence for an old Earth and common descent, and if you believe that the Bible is the word of a non-deceptive god, let this evidence be your guide to interpret it and distinguish myth and metaphor from reality.... Which interpretation of the Bible should we start with ?.... Are you infallible when interpreting a particular text ?

The omitted parts represented by the ellipses are primarily my comments that HRG was responding to. You can see that he means to say that the Bible can't mean what it plainly says and actually questions my ability to correctly interpret Scripture. I found a couple of things curious about HRG's comments.

First, nowhere does the Bible “literally” say the earth is stationary, flat, and covered with a solid dome. HRG is confusing terms here. There is a difference between “plain meaning” and “literal meaning.” If I said someone has a heart of gold, would most people understand plainly what I am saying? I suspect so. On the other hand, we all know that no one “literally” has a heart made of gold so it's a straw man to say that Christians mean the Bible to be taken “literally.”

The plain meaning of Genesis 1 needs little interpretation. If we can't understand the plain meaning of the words, then I would maintain it would be impossible to understand ANY part of the Bible. When the Bible says, for example, that Jesus rose in three days, how do I know that means three days? How can I be sure it even means He rose? How can I be sure it means Jesus is even a real person? If Adam is a metaphor then maybe Jesus (the second Adam) is a metaphor as well. It's no secret that some passages in the Bible are difficult to understand. However, I don't believe there's any passage in Genesis 1-11 that fits in that category.

But there's a glaring irony in HRG's comments. HRG is questioning my ability to correctly interpret Scripture and is trying to convince me that the words of the Bible do not mean what they plainly say. At the same time, however, he is counting on my ability to understand the plain meaning of his words! HRG seems to think I'm able to understand his arguments but just not able to understand words of the Bible.

What kind of discussion could anyone ever have if words don't mean anything? What if we applied the same standards toward critics of the Bible that they ask us to apply to the Bible? According to the critics “six days” can mean billions of years. OK then, when a critic “says” he doesn't believe the Genesis account of creation, I know he really means to say Jesus is the Creator of the universe.

Friday, December 2, 2011

No Intelligent Designer Would Have Done It That Way

I hear from evolutionists all the time that the human body is riddled with poorly designed structures. The most commonly cited example is probably the “backward wired eye” but I've heard many, many other examples. Their allegation is that no intelligent designer would ever create such a structure. On the other hand, since evolution is all about “descent with modification,” it makes perfect sense that these structures were piecemealed together over many generations and so their “poor” design is evidence of evolution.

I've always scoffed at these arguments. To me, it seems much like armchair quarter backing. How credible is it when an overweight couch potato screams at the TV telling the professional quarterback how to play football? It's easy to ridicule the design of the eye but even with all of our technological advances, we aren't able to produce anything that even comes close to it. Nothing we have built can compare to the human body. No lens is as perfect as the eye. No computer is as powerful as the brain. No tool is as versatile as the hand.

Of course, technology is improving all time. Maybe someday, we will be able to build a computer that can compete with the brain. When that day comes, I'll welcome it. It's more evidence that the brain is the product of design!

But there's another flaw in this argument. Is seemingly poor design really evidence against design? Let me tell you a true story. My daughter just recently moved her bedroom into the basement. She has a nice, 29 inch, flat screen TV mounted on one of the walls. When I was unhooking the cable from the TV, I realized there was a plastic tab right next to the cable jack. I'm not sure what purpose it served by being there but its presence presented a problem. I could barely get my fingers around the cable to unscrew it. While I was unscrewing it, I could only turn it a fraction of a turn each time. I got so frustrated at one point that I almost grabbed some pliers to break the tab off but I was afraid it might crack the back cover.

So I ask you, what intelligent designer would put a piece of plastic right there whose only purpose seems to be to impede screwing and unscrewing the coaxial cable? The only reasonable conclusion then is that the TV evolved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is the Holy Spirit an “It”?

English follows what is called “natural gender.” Practically speaking, English nouns are genderless. However, there are a very few English nouns that change according to gender: “Duke” refers only to males while “Duchess” refers only to females. Ordinarily, though the use of gender applies almost exclusively to singular, 3rd person pronouns. Men are referred to as “he/him” and women are “she/her.” Everything else is an “it.” Because English uses natural gender, the appearance of a pronoun clearly identifies the sex or "person-ness" of the antecedent.

In many other languages, the use of gender is more of a grammatical designation. In Spanish, for example, all nouns are either masculine or feminine. Whether a Spanish noun is masculine or feminine is not as intuitive as it is in English. The word for dress (el vestido) is masculine while the word for necktie (la corbata) is feminine. Therefore, the pronoun for “dress” would be masculine and the pronoun for “necktie” would be feminine.

Greek is similar to Spanish in that all nouns have a gender. Greek, however, uses three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Since English uses these three genders among its pronouns, we are prone to project our understanding of gender onto the Greek usage. Because of this confusion, problems sometimes arise when people try to use the gender of a Greek noun to make a doctrinal point. This has been especially true concerning the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for Spirit (pneuma) is neuter. Since English uses the neuter pronoun "it" for inanimate objects, some people mistakenly argue that the Holy Spirit isn't really a Person but rather is a thing. Look at the following quote (source):
But "Holy Spirit" in the original Greek is neuter and therefore the neuter pronouns "it," "itself" are used with it in the original NT Greek! Any strictly literal Bible translation would have to use "it" for the holy spirit (since it is really not a person, but God's active force, a literal translation would be helpful in this case).
This is an extremely amateurish argument. It demonstrates how a little knowledge can be dangerous. Most people who use this argument really can't read Greek. Instead, they have heard once that the Greek word for “Spirit” is neuter so, because of their understanding of English, they buy into the argument that the Spirit is an “it.” Of course, there are some people who indeed understand Greek's grammatical use of gender but still repeat the argument with the intention of preying on the audience's ignorance of the subject.

This is also a blatant example of special pleading because the same people who raise this argument, don't apply this same standard everywhere. In Matthew 2:11, the Bible says the wise men, “saw the young child with Mary his mother.” The Greek word for child here (paidion) is neuter so, to be consistent, they should translate this verse as “they saw the young child with Mary its mother.” Of course they don't do that. Neither do they refer to “church” as “her” or “word” as “he” or correctly render the hundred other instances where Greek gender does not agree with English gender.

There's another subtle flaw in the above quote that might escape notice. The author seems unaware of the flaw and cites a source that commits the same mistake. See if you can spot it in this quote:
The Greek word for 'spirit' is neuter, and while we use personal pronouns in English ('he,' 'his,' 'him'), most Greek manuscripts employ 'it.' [bold in original]
Did you catch it? If not, don't feel bad because it's sort of a technicality and some might accuse me of splitting hairs. However, I feel it's an important consideration. This quote says, “most Greek manuscripts employ 'it.'” The reality is that NO Greek manuscript contains the word, “it!” The word “it” is an English word which conveys a certain meaning in English. It is more precise to say that the Greek manuscripts use the neuter pronoun (auton) whenever the antecedent is a neuter noun. The original authors were not thinking “it” whenever they wrote "auton."

A language is more than its vocabulary; each language also has its own grammar as well as its own idioms. The goal of any translation is to express the same meaning in the target language that is conveyed in the original language. A good translation should obey the rules of the target language – not slavishly render a hyper-literal, word for word exchange of the original language. The pronouns used in our translations should follow the rules of English not the Greek! If the antecedent is an object, the English pronoun should be “it.” If the antecedent is a person, the English pronoun should be “he” or “she.”
If anyone wants to deny the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, he must make his case using Scripture. A weak appeal to the gender of a Greek word – especially an appeal made by someone who can't even read Greek – isn't even close.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Much Thanksgiving Was Going On This Year?

Did you see a lot of “Give thanks” commercials this year? Neither did I. Mostly I saw black Friday shopping deals. Now, I'll admit that I watched a little less TV over this Thanksgiving weekend than I have in previous years but I still don't recall seeing any real “Thanksgiving” wishes. It was mostly ads about Thanksgiving sales. It seems Thanksgiving is becoming a bit like Christmas where it's more about the stores than about God. How sad.

I've noticed too that there's also a lot less giving thanks to God. Instead, it's more an attitude of “being thankful” rather than being thankful to God in particular. This was especially obvious in President Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation. Written in typical, liberal fashion, his proclamation was so obviously secular, it could easily pass as a parody of itself. You can read the entire proclamation here but let me hit a few highlights for you.

It begins by saying, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives.” OK. I could almost agree with that except that absent from this statement is any acknowledgment of Who has bestowed those blessings on us. As a Christian, I give thanks to God for His blessings. I don't think that's what President Obama had in mind. He immediately goes on to say, “The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

Do you see what I mean? Obama seems to say that the Pilgrims held a feast to give thanks to the Indians (er... Native Americans). And did he really say, “thank you” to Indian and Alaskan Natives? This is why I say this proclamation could pass for a parody without changing a word. It's so politically correct that it's like a cliché.

The first paragraph ends with still another vague, “As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.” Again I ask, “Give thanks to Who?” The entire proclamation is filled with platitudes of “being thankful” but is a bit scant on specifics.

The next paragraph is equally humorous. It reads, “Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country's first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war....” In the midst of these references to God, it almost would escape notice that the President isn't actually calling on anyone to acknowledge God. Instead, he's merely recalling how previous Presidents acknowledged God. But this is only after he reminds us that our “traditions have evolved” - that is, “we don't do this now but people used to thank God at Thanksgiving.”

Next, Obama says, “let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm's way.” Well, I certainly have the highest respect for our military. They are the protectors of my God given rights as I recently discussed this past Veterans Day. However, is Thanksgiving really supposed to be about thanking our military? I don't think so.

Finally, Obama gets to the part about God. You will immediately see that it's almost an afterthought. It's an insertion that Obama included more from a sense of obligation than sincerity (an obligation to Christian voters – not to God). He says, “As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives.”

So, let's get this straight. According to Obama, Thanksgiving is the time when we thank American Indians, Alaskan Natives, the Pilgrims, our military, friends and neighbors, each other, and – oh yeah – we thank God too. Well, no thanks. This year, as always, I celebrated the old fashioned way: I thanked God! I thanked Him first and foremost. Thank God for our forefathers. Thank God for our country. Thank God for our military. Thank God for our neighbors. Thank God for our friends and family. Thank God for everything!!

Praise Him from Whom all blessings flow!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Presidential Proclamation

I have long believed that John Adams (the father of John Q. Adams) was the most pious of the American Presidents. While George Washington, another contender for this title, had issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, on at least two occasions, John Adams issued ad hoc calls for prayer, fasting, and repentance. Since Adams' proclamations weren't true Thanksgiving Day proclamations, I don't believe they get much press at this time of year. However, I believe the sentiments they display capture the spirit of Thanksgiving as well as any. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I thought I'd share John Adams' 1798 proclamation:

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.

And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.

Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.

By the President: John Adams

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

They Don't Care Because It's Not Theirs

In responding to my last post, “Why do they Occupy in Tents?”, an anonymous visitor said, “[E]ven if we want equality in a lot of ways is it really okay with us for people to invade and take over our personal belongings? If I bought a Park and told every body they could come use it as a park, I wouldn't expect them to use it as a free camp ground. I didn't say it was a camp ground.” This visitor has struck upon the very reason why liberalism never works. These people don't care about the park because it's not theirs.

It has always been the case that people tend to take better care of things that they own. Landlords will certainly attest to this fact once they've had renter after renter trash their house. People who own the home and pay for its maintenance would never treat the home as poorly as many renters would. And neighborhoods with lots of federally subsidized housing are usually the worst.

We often see this attitude in teenagers. Parents work hard to buy nice things for their kids. Sometimes the kids don't even care as much about their own stuff as the parents do. Have you ever heard your kid say something like, “Oh, mom, I spilled nail polish on those new jeans so I'll need another pair before Friday”? It's not until they work, earn their own money, and pay for their own things that they begin to appreciate the fact that money is a limited resource.

This disregard for the property of others permeates throughout the entire Occupy movement. For example, one thing I've heard them demand is student loan forgiveness. Never mind that the lenders who made the loans and the tax payers who subsidized them will be out millions of dollars. The protestors don't think it's fair that they have to pay back tens of thousands when all they got out of it was a college education! So you see, they don't care that other people will lose money as long as they get to keep their money.

We see this attitude the most in the movement's “class warfare” rhetoric. The “tax the rich” mantra is simply a demand to take something away from other people so the protestors can have it. They want free college, free health care, free housing, and even free banking but they certainly don't want to pay more taxes to get any of it. Just let the rich people pay for it.

Newt Gingrich had it right when he said:

All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything.”

What more can I say? Amen!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Do They Occupy in Tents?

Just a quick post today.

I heard on the news today that the Occupy protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park in New York where they basically have lived since mid-September. After a short legal battle, the protesters were allowed to return – but without the tents. Several of the protesters I heard were very vocal about their dissatisfaction with the ruling. You would think the courts had taken Linus' blanket away from him.

Many pundits are saying that, without being allowed to have tents, the protest movement will begin to wane. That was inevitable. It's mid-November and soon there will be snow on the ground. When you're living in a tent, I'm sure it's easier to be principled on a crisp, fall evening rather than on a freezing night under a foot of snow.

What exactly is it about the tents? I ask in earnest because I really don't see why they can't protest like everyone else. Many people have tried to compare the Occupy protests with the Tea Party protests. There's nothing to compare. The Tea Party was all about less government spending and regulation and Occupy wants more government regulation and spending. And the Tea Party was able to make their statement without pitching tents.

I think the difference might lie in the demographic of who was protesting. The Tea Party protestors were primarily hard working, middle class, TAX PAYERS! They couldn't sleep in the parks because they had jobs to be at in the morning. On the other hand, the Occupy protestors, while claiming to represent the “99%,” seem to be largely made up of college students and other “non-working” folks. How else would anyone be able to sleep in a park for two months? Obviously, the Occupy protestors can't represent the 99%. Most working folks have responsibilities which require bathing, shaving, and having laundered clothes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We All Have Our Priorities

At the end of the service at my Church today, all of the veterans were called to the front and received a standing ovation from the congregation along with a handshake and personal “thank you” to each one from the Pastor. Since I attend a fairly large Church, there were a few dozen veterans and the ovation and handshaking took a few minutes. It was very touching.

So how did other people celebrate Veterans Day? Well, one mayor in California is receiving grief because she chose to skip a Veterans Day salute (read the story here). She didn't stay home, though, and reflect on the wonderful service all veterans have done for our country. Instead, she chose to attend an Occupy rally. Well, we all have our priorities.

One Marine veteran pointedly asked, She could pick any day she wanted to attend these protests. Why choose Veterans Day?” I'm sure this man asked rhetorically because we all know why. She's a flaming liberal who hates the military and loves the utopic ideas of the socialist left. Am I wrong?

As I wrote on my blog on Veterans Day, our rights come from God but they are protected by our veterans. It's been said that we are able to sleep peaceably at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf. Neither this mayor nor these protestors seems to fathom that it's only because of our veterans that they even have the right to protest (even though half of them cannot even enunciate what they are protesting).

I say, let them be idiots. Far be it from me to deny people their right to be stupid – just don't expect it to go unnoticed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Famous American philosopher and statesman, Ben Franklin, once said, “Force shites on reason's back.” I know it's rather crude sounding but it's true notwithstanding. We like to think that brilliant men with noble ideas make nations but ultimately it's the men with guns that seal the deal.

Some have said the pen is mightier than the sword. Ha! Perhaps people with pens can change minds but nothing gets done until someone takes up arms. Here on my blog, I exercise my God-given right to voice my opinions. I know, though, that I'm only able to do this because someone with a gun protects my right to do so.

Here's a big THANK YOU to all our veterans. God bless!!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Are Myths Born?

After my last post about unicorns, I began to wonder how the legend of the western unicorn arose. As I discussed already, there have been true one horned animals throughout history but how did the idea of a horned horse become popular? I did a cursory search on Google and found there are many opinions. Interestingly, all of the various theories had one thing in common – they all involved elaboration on real animals. Even if we never know which animal it might have been, the mere fact that everyone thinks it was based on a real animal intrigued me. Is that how myths are born?

What other legendary animals might have been born out of encounters with real animals. Many creation apologists have long speculated that dragon legends were depictions of man's encounters with dinosaurs. I've thought about writing on that in the past but there's been so much said on the subject that I decided not to unless I come up with some original angle. However, there are many other creatures of legend. Could they too be elaborated upon depictions of real animals? Let's look at a few.


In the movie, Jurassic Park, velociraptors were very dinosaur-looking. Since then, a few new fossil finds and much artistic license have made more recent renderings much more bird-like. I've always said that dino-to-bird evolution has been occurring in the minds of scientists. Anyway, if a Renaissance-era person were to describe a modern depiction of a velociraptor, he might say it looks like a cross between a bird and a reptile. Are there any bird-reptile creatures of myth? Certainly there is. According to Wikipedia, "the cockatrice is a legendary creature, essentially a two-legged dragon with a rooster's head." If the modern renderings of velociraptors are accurate, I would say it very much looks like a cockatrice. So perhaps the velociraptor gave birth to the cockatrice legend.

The lindworm is described by Wikipedia as “a wingless, bipedal dragon.” That's interesting. If there is any truth to the claim that “dragons” is a reference to “dinosaurs”, then the lindworm is basically a wingless, bipedal dinosaur. The lindworm shown here was used in British heraldry. Tell me the truth, doesn't it resemble a bipedal dinosaur?

The wyvern is basically a winged reptile with two legs (sometimes depicted with no legs) and a barbed tail. Here, I have placed a drawing of a wyvern next to a depiction of a rhamphorhynchus. Again, isn't there an uncanny resemblance?

If modern scholars look to real animals as the inspiration for mythical animals (as they have done with the unicorn), then we would have to admit that these “prehistoric” creatures could serve as candidates for these various creatures of myth – assuming they were contemporaries of men. Now, I can't claim with absolute certainty that these are the very animals that gave rise to legends. However, I do know with certainty that men lived together with dinosaurs. It wouldn't surprise me, then, to find depictions and descriptions of various types of dinosaurs. If some dinosaurs were feathered, what better animal would serve as a candidate for the legend of the cockatrice? If a lindworm is a bipedal “dragon,” wouldn't a bipedal dinosaur be the most likely source of that legend?

In this post you've seen the legendary creatures side by side with real creatures. No one can credibly deny there are similarities. The only reason they would not be considered by some as the inspiration of legends is because evolutionists believe dinosaurs to be separated from man by millions of years. If that is the case, then they aren't going where the evidence leads but they are using their theory to shape the evidence. I say the fantastic depictions of dinosaur-looking animals are evidence of man's eye witness to these animals.

Further reading

How to Answer “The Bible says that Bats are Birds” and Similar Criticisms

Does The Bible Say There Are Unicorns?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Does The Bible Say There Are Unicorns?

He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. (Numbers 23:22 KJV)

The King James Bible mentions unicorns in six verses. It doesn't give much detail about the creature except to say that it noted for having great strength. To the western mind, unicorns are mythical creatures that now only exist in fantasy novels and Dungeons & Dragons but the Bible talks about them as though they are real creatures. Many people pounce on this fact as an opportunity to label the Bible as a work of fiction. Even liberal Christians use the mention of unicorns as an excuse to say the Bible shouldn't be taken literally.

In response to such criticisms, we must first acknowledge them for what they are – straw man criticisms that don't accurately represent what the Bible says. Many critics aren't intentionally making a straw man. Instead, they are committing the exegetical fallacy of reverse etymology. That is, they are forcing the modern meaning of a word onto its original meaning. When the Bible was written in Hebrew, the Medieval concepts of unicorns did not even exist. The writers of the Bible certainly did not have the western image of unicorns in mind when the original text was penned.

My understanding of Hebrew is next to nothing but, according to Brown-Driver-Brigg's Hebrew Definitions the word translated as “unicorn” in Numbers 23:22 above is the Hebrew word “rêm” (ראם). BDB defines it as “wild bulls which are now extinct.” There's nothing about that definition that suggests the Hebrew writers specifically understood this beast to have a single horn. It could be a description of an animal using terminology similar to our name for the modern breed of cattle, the “long horn.”

Since I'm more comfortable reading Greek, I looked up the verse in the Septuagint where I found it is rendered as monokerōtos (μονοκέρωτος) which literally means “only horn” or “one horn.” So, even long before the KJV translation, it seems the idea of a one-horned animal was already understood. What we have then, is the Bible mentions a one-horned animal renowned for having great strength. Do such animals exist? Of course they do!

Even today there exists a species of rhinoceros with one horn. Interestingly, the Latin name for the animal is Rhinoceros unicornis. Did you see that, “unicornis”? It's the word unicorn! So even according to modern taxonomy, there are true unicorns alive today. Rhinos also possess great strength so a one-horned rhino would definitely fit the bill of the biblical unicorn.

Now, there are many other horned animals that have lived throughout history. For example, there is a group of horned animals called, ceratopsians. The most famous critter belonging to this group is the triceratops. The triceratops, of course, has three horns but another member of this club is monoclonius. Would you care to guess how many horns the monoclonius had? I don't know exactly how strong the monoclonius was but given the fact it about the size of a car, I would suspect it was likely impressive.

I'm sure there are still other candidates that would fit the description of the biblical unicorns. It's not my objective to prove exactly what species of creature it was. My objective is demonstrate what it was not – it was not the horned horse of European folklore.

Further reading

How to Answer “The Bible says that Bats are Birds” and Similar Criticisms

How Are Myths Born?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Bible Study in Discernment


Recently, my Sunday School class has been studying the book of Job. Much of the book details the conversations Job had with his three friends who had come to “comfort” him but actually spend more time accusing him. As you read through the conversations, though, in many places we find that the friends weren't too far off from sound doctrine. In many cases, their only error was attributing Job's tragedy to some unconfessed sin of Job. Much of what they said was correct but a little bit was garbage.
As we live our lives day to day, there is no shortage of opinions we hear about God and the Bible. Some of what we hear is correct but some of it is garbage. As Christians, it is our responsibility to identify what is right and what is wrong. The Bible refers to this as “discernment.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

For some people, discernment is a spiritual gift. When discussing gifts of the Spirit, Paul said, “to some [are given] the discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10). For others, it must be learned. Job says that wisdom and understanding comes with age (Job 12:12). Even so, I believe there are six steps we can follow to help us gain discernment.


TRUST THE BIBLE
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalms 19:7)
We don't have to be geniuses or scholars. Psalms tells us that with the Bible, even the simple become wise. If we base our thinking on the Bible, we can never be very wrong on any subject.


STUDY THE BIBLE


Even if you sincerely trust the Bible, what good does it do if you don't know what the Bible says? What if someone said, “I believe the Bible when it says, 'The Lord helps those that help themselves'”? Do you say, “Amen!”? Nothing resembling that verse appears in the Bible but you can't know that if you don't study the Bible.


I worked in a bank for many years. Before the Federal Reserve issued any new currency, we would get detailed descriptions of what the new bills would look like. The best way to spot a fake bill is to know what the real bill looks like. Likewise, we can easily spot false doctrine if we know what correct doctrine is.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Let's look at this passage in reverse: This passage says we need to study to show ourselves approved. So what does it mean if we don't study? Obviously it must mean we aren't approved. Furthermore, if we don't study, we should be ashamed. Finally, if we don't study, we will not be able rightly divide the word of truth.


SEEK THE ADVICE OF OTHERS


Most people have heard the expression, “Two heads are better than one.” This is based on a sound, biblical doctrine.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
There are abundant resources available today that Christians can turn to to find answers to tough questions. Also, a Christian can seek the advice of godly men or women.


BE SKEPTICAL


Though we should seek the advice of others, we must never mistake their opinions for Scriptures. In your study Bible, the notes written in the margin are not part of the text. You need to compare whatever advice you receive to the Scriptures to make sure it is sound.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
Paul is normally someone whose opinion I would trust. Yet the Bereans were even skeptical of him. As he preached the gospel, they compared his words to the Scriptures to confirm what he was saying was true. We should do the same.


BE OPEN MINDED


There's a difference between being skeptical and refusing to believe. Sometimes, we are wrong in something we believe and we need to be available to the truth. The Bible uses the term “stiff-necked” to describe certain, stubborn people who won't listen to the truth.
But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction. (Jeremiah 17:23)
BE PRAYERFUL


Finally, we should always remember to seek understanding from God.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!

John Godfrey Saxe took an old Indian parable and made this wonderful poem:

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

I've always thought it was funny how people with such limited knowledge and understanding can still have such confidence in their opinions. In regards to science and evolution, there's far more that we don't know than what we do know. It doesn't matter how certain we are about what we do know, what we don't know can still greatly shape what is true.

But beyond the creation v. evolution debate, this poem highlights the error of disbelief in general. The famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, has said many times that he doesn't believe there is a God and hasn't seen any evidence for one. Considering the enormity of the universe and how tiny the fraction is that we have experienced, his view is very much like that of a blind many who has touched only one part of an elephant. He has based his opinion only on his limited experience and can't see the big picture.

I wish I could leave it at that but I've been doing this for a while and I know the common rebuttal offered up by critics who hear this argument. They usually try to turn the tables and say something like, “We'll, Mr. RKBentley, how do you know that somewhere out there in the universe there isn't a Flying Spaghetti Monster?” Here's the big difference: there is evidence for God. We have the revelation of the Bible. We have the historical accounts of Jesus. We have the nation of Israel. All of these things attest there is a God. What similar evidence do we have for the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

I admit that I don't know everything. I also admit there's far more that I don't know than I do know. However, there is One who does know everything and even though I don't know everything, I know Him. I also trust what He says. Other people are welcome to grope about in the dark but His children walk in the light! (John 11:9-10)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving God with our Minds: A Series in Logic. Conclusion

It's time to wrap up this series on logic. There are many more things that could be said but we've gone on long enough and I've covered the most common logical fallacies Christian apologists are likely to encounter. I'll conclude this series with a couple of more points.

First, I want to be clear about one thing. A logical fallacy is not automatic proof that a person is wrong. I came across an amusing example a while back that demonstrates how bad logic could occasionally lead to a correct answer. Look at the following:

64/16 > 64/16 > 4/1 > 4

In this mathematical expression, the person canceled out the sixes so 64/16 became 4/1 which equals 4. Ironically, 64/16 really does equal 4 but you obviously can't cancel out the sixes that way. The same approach would not work with most other fractions. It becomes frustrating, then, to explain to the person how he is wrong even though his answer is correct.

Along those same lines, while you are defending the faith against critics, sometimes they will present correct facts couched in bad arguments. If a person sprinkles in some logical fallacies in the midst of some valid arguments, we still need to address the valid points he's raised. If we do nothing but point out his errors in logic, then we are, in a way, using a red herring. You might stymie the critic into silence but you won't persuade him unless you eventually can answer legitimate concerns he has. Pointing out logical fallacies helps rid the debate of irrelevant static and allows you to have a substantive discussion.

Finally, as I said in the start of my series, Christians need to be careful with the arguments we use. One of the visitors to my blog, Steven J, left a comment detailing how he has sometimes heard Christians using logical fallacies. Sadly, he's correct. I've heard them too. It's unfortunate because we don't need to resort to such tactics. Remember, we are the ones on the solid rock. Our thinking should rest on the One who is the Author of logic.

Our job is laid out very clearly in 2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Further Reading

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7