No Big Bang? Is the Universe Eternal?

A 2014 paper entitled Cosmology from Quantum Potential by Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das in Physical Letters B spawned a lot of articles claiming that new research had done away with the Big Bang.

Not quite. The actual research suggested that there’s a way to do away with that pesky singularity that allegedly existed before the Big Bang. The confusion lies in the fact that folks tend to think of the singularity as the cause and the Big Bang as the effect, so they naturally assume that no singularity means no Big Bang. In this case, they’re suggesting a different initial state for the Big Bang, rather than a different cause. For example, if we have a ball at rest which is kicked and sent toward a soccer net, the effect is motion, the cause is the kick and the initial state is, well, the ball at rest.

Evolutionary cosmologists believe that some sort of non-specified quantum fluctuation caused the singularity to experience rapid inflation, expanding into the universe we see today. This new concept bypasses the singularity, suggesting that the “universe” existed as a sort of eternally existent quantum potential, whatever that means, before some sort of non-specified quantum fluctuation caused said rapid inflation and the universe-at-large.

It’s little wonder that some folks want to get rid of the singularity. The singularity itself is one of the major problems with the Big Bang model. No one knows what happens in a singularity because the laws of physics break down at that level. This basically means they may as well be invoking magic, which is a problem if you’re wedded to pure naturalism.

Add to this a complication brought up by Laura Mersini-Houghton. According to a mathematical study she was a part of, it may be that black holes, event horizons and singularities cannot not exist. When stars much bigger than the sun collapse under their own gravity, they are thought to collapse into singularities and form black holes, throwing off Hawking radiation in the process. Black holes are predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity, but they conflict with a fundamental law of quantum theory that says that no information can ever disappear from the universe. This is referred to as the loss problem. In the study, researchers attempting to resolve this contradiction found that the stars shed mass too quickly to form an event horizon (i.e., it loses gravity as it loses mass); therefore, if the results of this study are correct, event horizons, black holes and singularities aren’t mathematically possible.

While this new research by Ali and Das may provide an answer to a Big Bang without a singularity, it doesn’t really do away with the problem of an all-natural theory invoking supernatural causes. It has inflation existing well before time, which is a direct violation of the laws of physics. You can’t have an effect like inflation existing independently of a cause… and causation itself implies the existence of time, which is why Stephen Hawking called his exploration of the Big bang model A Brief History of Time.

inflationbeforeuniverse-ethan-siegel

Don’t look for anyone to start abandoning standard Big Bang cosmology anytime soon. The idea of an eternally existent universe flies in the face of all of the data, which points to the universe having a beginning… and an ultimate Uncaused Cause. Scientists whose theories are wed to pure naturalism will likely claim, as Stephen Hawking does, that this great Uncaused Cause is the multiverse or some other “purely natural” concept that exists well outside of the realm of our natural world [and is therefore, by definition, actually supernatural!]. This makes their position internally inconsistent.

When we are confronted with claims that seem to contradict the Bible, we should remember that we have two competing Origins Claims, two competing worldviews. They are completely contradictory: one demands on pure naturalism while the other allows supernatural agency. How do we judge between them?

We should choose the worldview that is most consistent with the world we observe and with itself. In other words, we should begin with God’s revealed Word, the Bible.


Note: The chart on this page is by Ethan Siegel and is employed here under the terms of Fair Use.

Evolution versus Christianity: Why You Really Do Have to Choose

jesus-darwin-tinted-white

When atheist Dr. Michael Zimmerman isn’t comparing my ministry to book banning in India (I know, right?), he’s busy misrepresenting his Clergy Letter Project and Evolution Weekend as being representative of Christianity, so that he can say that Christian religion and molecules-to-man evolution are compatible, when it’s actually a minority of liberal churches who participate.

His most recent offering along the latter lines comes to us in the form of a HuffPo piece called “Evolution Weekend: Celebrating Fact and Faith.” The title is, of course, a reference to the unBiblical concept of non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), popularized by the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould. NOMA was Gould’s attempt to disarm religious folk to the dangers of science chained to pure naturalism by proposing that religion and science are two separate but equal magisteria dealing with different things; specifically, science deals with fact and theory while religion deals with meaning and morality.

Near the end of his usual shtick, Zimmerman comes to one of his favorite talking points:

“Together, the thousands of clergy and the hundreds of thousands of their parishioners who celebrate Evolution Weekend, are demonstrating that the supposed war between religion and science, and even more specifically between religion and evolution, doesn’t exist. While they understand that there are some religious sects that shun the modern world, that find reason to attack the findings of science on supposedly theological rather than on scientific grounds, they also know that people holding such beliefs are outliers on the religious spectrum.

Their goal is to demonstrate that those who argue that a choice has to be made between religion and science are presenting a false dichotomy. Their actions show just how easy it can be to embrace religion while recognizing that the methodology of science provides a potent means to understand the natural world.”

I’m afraid he’s wrong on all counts and I suspect he knows it. Oh, at face value his statement that one need not make a choice between science and religion is perfectly valid; a creation scientist would affirm that one need not check our brains and lab coats at the church doors. The problem is that he conflates science with a theory within science, namely, evolution, and then compares apples to oranges by saying religion is not incompatible with evolution, when he ought to be asking whether Christianity as it is understood by most of the world is compatible with molecules-to-man evolution.

Now I can testify that a man can hold to both Christian faith and millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution for a season. This is only because men have this strange ability to hold beliefs in contradiction. When a man determines that his worldview needs to be coherent and consistent across the board, one realizes that science chained to pure naturalism and a religion based on supernatural revelation affirming a supernatural deity who at times performs supernatural acts are antithetical concepts. Zimmerman doesn’t want folks to realize that a true dichotomy exists between these two worldviews because, in his own words, “there’s good reason to believe that if people feel they must choose between the two, religion will more often come out on top.”

He might be referring to the following findings of statistical surveys cited by the Pew Forum:

“When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll. Indeed, in a May 2007 Gallup poll, only 14% of those who say they do not believe in evolution cite lack of evidence as the main reason underpinning their views; more people cite their belief in Jesus (19%), God (16%) or religion generally (16%) as their reason for rejecting Darwin’s theory.”

This underscores what I’ve been saying for years: It’s not about facts (we have the same facts, but different interpretations) and it’s not about science (creationist thinking established the sciences and creationists continue to practice science today); it’s about our ultimate authority: the word of men who’ve chained science to pure naturalism or the supernaturally revealed Word of God.

Of course, when evolutionists convince our children that facts are self-explanatory (when they’ve presented said facts as interpreted by all-natural science) and that denying evolution is anti-science, you can certainly convince them to switch worldviews. This is essentially what happened to me. I was told by a science teacher that the claims of evolution were based on empirical fact and that I only believed in special creation because my parents told me to. Since no one was giving me an interpretation to the contrary and since I was shunning the resource of wisdom found in my parents in order to “think for myself” (i.e., parrot my science teacher’s beliefs instead), I ended up rejecting the Christian faith.

I did end up returning to the fold after about a decade of being an agnostic backsliding cliché. The following excerpt from my book explains my dilemma at that point and why we really do have to choose between the authority of God’s Word and the claims of men who’ve interpreted the evidence by science chained to pure naturalism:


Begin excerpt-

“Almost immediately, I knew I would have to tackle the issue of evolution, but I put the question off, remembering where it had led last time. At that stage in my life, when my then-future wife asked me, “What about evolution?” I told her I supposed God could have used evolution. I also insisted that we allow for long ages in the days of Genesis, fearing that denying the claims of science would be a stumbling block for those hearing the Gospel. I had come back to Christendom based on the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and fulfilled prophecy, but I still had a fuzzy notion of Biblical authority.

Eventually, my intellectual integrity would no longer allow me to ignore the Origins Argument. I had by that time accepted the call to preach the Gospel. I was determined not to waste time on side issues, but as I preached and witnessed to folks, I began to notice a trend: when I told them they needed to be saved, they naturally asked why. Of course, we need to be saved because we have all sinned and the wages, or deserved earnings, of sin is death, right? The problem was that many of the people I spoke to were resistant to the Gospel because they’d been told that millions of years of evolution could account for everything, so God wasn’t necessary and the Bible was written by fallible pre-scientific men who got things very, very wrong.

How could one trust the Bible for salvation but not for what it says about why we need to be saved in the first place? Paul said that sin entered the world by one man, and death by sin [Romans 5:12]. Furthermore, “since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” [1 Corinthians 15:22]. These passages point not only to Christ but back to Genesis chapter 3, where the Fall of man and the promise of a future Redeemer is recorded [Genesis 3:15]. How could one rationally retain one’s belief in the Savior if we divorce Him from the historical fact of Genesis 3?

If Adam and Eve were not actual people, if there was no literal Fall, there are serious consequences for Christianity; if there was no literal Fall, there is no need for a Savior! At best, God would be saving us from a design flaw He allowed us to develop via chance and evolution, which He may or may not have directed – and then passed the blame onto us, making God a liar!

Many of those who embrace evolutionism as fact often go on to reject Christianity wholesale, precisely because they recognize that what is being presented as scientific truth completely contradicts what they’ve been taught as religious truth.

For example:

  • The claim that the Earth and universe are billions of years old and man’s existence represents only the tiniest tail-end of that history contradicts Christ Jesus’ affirmation that God created man, male and female, “from the beginning” [Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6] and the Bible’s clear testimony that the Earth and the universe were created in 6 calendar days [Exodus 20:11].
  • The claim that Man is the product of evolution, an endless cycle of death and mutation contradicts the Apostle Paul’s authority for he said “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” [Romans 5:12; also 1 Corinthians 15:22].
  • As noted, the claim that the account of Adam & Eve is only a teaching myth undermines the foundational basis of the Gospel, for if the literal First Adam did not literally Fall there is no need for literal sin debt to be paid by a literal Savior [1 Corinthians 15:45].
  • The claim that the Noachian Flood was local rather than global contradicts the testimony of the Apostle Peter [2 Peter 3:6] and makes God a liar since He promised never to destroy all flesh by water again [Genesis 9:12] — yet local floods abound!

Of course, there are certainly Christians who believe in millions of years of evolution who are otherwise orthodox in their beliefs. I call them extra-Biblical Creationists. In contrast to Biblical (Young Earth) Creationists who hold the Bible as the ultimate authority in all that it speaks upon, extra-Biblical Creationists [e.g., Old Earth Creationism, Day-Age beliefs, Gap Creationism, Framework Hypothesis, Progressive Creationism, Theistic Evolution, etc.] impose extra-Biblical ideas upon the text and hold to extra-Biblical sources as their ultimate authority where Genesis is concerned. They suppose science has established millions of years and evolution as indisputable fact, so they feel must find a way to make the Bible conform to these scientific proclamations.

As the Holy Spirit began to guide me into all truth, as the Scripture promises [John 16:13], I began to see that the revealed Word of an omnipotent, omniscient God and the word of men in lab coats was not lining up. I chose to give God the benefit of the doubt. Not so with many others I’ve known…

Some have objected that in order to take the Bible seriously, we must acknowledge the humanity of Scripture – that fallible men wrote the Scriptures under Divine Inspiration, but that God had to work within those human limitations – but this would mean that God could not overcome the limitations of His chief creation to relate His Word clearly. Such well-meaning theological doublespeak strips God of omnipotence [for He could not overcome the limitations of mere men] and/or omniscience [since He could not fathom a way to accomplish it under any circumstances]. The theological implications of the position that God cannot overcome human limitations are pretty awful in their own right. I mean, remember that the next time you pray!

Fortunately, such objections are purest bunk; an omnipotent, omniscient God such as the Bible describes is fully able to make His meaning clear, even if it means overcoming the limitations of fallible men to do so. This is a high view of Scripture that I make no apologies for.

I have also heard this hubris [oft repeated] that some claim to “take the Bible too seriously to take it literally” – and it’s doublespeak: If I take a man or text seriously at all, I take them in the context intended. Likewise, because I take Scripture seriously, I take it in the context intended, even if it comes into conflict with the claims of men who don’t affirm it and conduct science by a naturalistic philosophy that excludes God from all consideration anyway. Honestly, whatever happened to “Let God be true and every man a liar” [Romans 3:4]?

You’d be surprised how many folks never consider the full implications of rejecting the history of Genesis. They accept millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution because men in lab coats tell them to. They never stop to realize that if Christians accepted everything these guys said, they’d be forced to deny miracles, the existence of the soul, the resurrection of Christ, God Himself and anything else supernatural, for science has been chained to pure naturalism.

If we do not take God’s Word as our ultimate authority in Genesis [rather than the word of men who doubt it], how can we trust it elsewhere, except arbitrarily? The same naturalistic science that denies special Creation, a young Earth and a world-wide Flood also precludes the possibility of water changing instantly to wine, of immaculate conception, of instantaneous weather control and, especially, of men rising from the dead. If we accept miracles, fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection in spite of the claims of men in lab coats, why do we turn around and doubt God’s Word in Genesis?

Would it surprise you to note that Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, had more faith than these extra-Biblical Creationists? Here’s what he had to say on the subject:

“‘Creation,’ in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence, and that it made its appearance in six days (or instantaneously, if that is preferred), in consequence of the volition of some preexisting Being. Then, as now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism and, given a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation1.”

Of course, Huxley only lacked the one element of faith that extra-Biblical Creationists claim to have: a belief in a Creator. Think of the irony: Huxley affirmed millions of years and evolution, but claimed that, given a Deity, he would have no trouble conceiving of Creation as the Bible describes. An agnostic [the very man who coined the term] has more faith in the abilities of a Creator he denies than an extra-Biblical Creationist has in the abilities of the Creator he affirms.

We need to be consistent in our faith; thus, we need to use the Bible as our starting point, as our ultimate authority rather than taking the word of men as our ultimate authority in some passages of the Bible except when we arbitrarily take the Bible as our starting point in other passages. Why? Because Jesus warned that no man can serve two masters. Thus, no man can serve two authorities; either God’s Word or man’s word must be our ultimate authority. Only the Biblical Creationist takes the revealed Word of God seriously enough to take it at its word, from beginning to end, no matter who disputes its truth.

That being said, if the one who disputes it is a fellow Creationist [albeit an extra-Biblical one], pray for him. I am one who can honestly and humbly say where it concerns compromise with evolution and millions of years, “There but by the grace of God go I.” Or more to the point, “Thus would I have remained but for the grace of God.”

Yet many Christians simply live with this contradiction. In doing so, they’ve effectively adopted the late Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of “non-overlapping magisteria,” better known as NOMA: the idea that religious truth deals with meaning and morality while scientific truth deals with facts and theories – and never the twain shall meet2! In other words, it follows Galileo’s dictum that Scripture’s intent is “to teach us how one goes to heaven not how heaven goes3.”

For the Bible-affirming Christian, NOMA has three distinct problems:

[1] It is built on a logical fallacy.

The problem with this concept is that it commits the fact-value distinction. Christianity makes claims [values] that are rooted in historical fact. For example, Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, if Christ did not rise from the dead, our preaching and our faith is in vain, we are yet in our sins, those who have died believing in Christ are dead and gone, and we’re guilty of bearing false witness for saying that God raised Christ from the dead. Furthermore in verses 30-32 of that same chapter, Paul notes that if the resurrection did not occur, those who martyred themselves for the faith did so needlessly, for we would have no promise of any life beyond this one. Jesus Himself refuted the false premise behind NOMA when he said to Nicodemus:

“If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” [John 3:12]

[2] NOMA contradicts itself by telling us what God can’t do based on the claims of the magisterium of science. Perhaps the most important problem with NOMA is that it refuses to allow any consideration of the supernatural. According to Gould:

“The first commandment for all versions of NOMA might be summarized by stating: ‘Thou shalt not mix the magisterium by claiming that God directly ordains important events in the history of nature by special interference knowable only through revelation and not accessible to science4.’”

In the next breath, Gould clarifies that he means miracles aren’t allowed under non-overlapping magisteria, leaving God with nothing to do, unless he’s simply the grand clockwinder5 at the beginning of it all.

[3] The magisteria of science and religion aren’t really equal.

While Gould gives lip service to the equality of the magisteria of science and religion, in practice NOMA is really just Scriptura sub scientia (Scripture below science): a steady yielding of religious truth to all-natural truth claims made in the name of science. Indeed, it was Gould’s hope that NOMA would offer religious truth a means of quiet surrender by which it might “cede this disputed ground to the rightful occupants of science6.”

You see, as reasonable as NOMA sounds at first glance, it violates the principle set forth in Matthew 6:24:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”

While Jesus was specifically addressing the fact that you can’t serve God and money, the principle He invokes is that you cannot equally hold two priorities or two authorities in your life. One must needs emerge as your ultimate authority.

Of course, evolutionists realize that NOMA is bunk, but they also recognize its usefulness in disarming Christians who wish to appear reasonable7.

On May 20, 2002, Stephen Jay Gould met his Maker [Romans 14:11-12] and shed his agnosticism. Sadly, Dr. Michael Zimmerman has taken up the NOMA torch in recent years. In the fall of 2004, Zimmerman began the anti-creationist Clergy Letter Project as a reaction against the Grantsburg, Wisconsin school board’s proposal that “all theories of origins” be taught in all schools districts8. Thanks to Michael Zimmerman’s actions, which initially only garnered less than 200 signatures, Grantsburg settled for a proposal that science educators teach both evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses.” Zimmerman hailed it as a victory for science education, though he later joined with the Center for Inquiry to fight against a “strengths and weaknesses” policy being considered by the Texas Board of Education in 20099. Zimmerman and similar “science advocacy” [read: evolution enforcement] groups have one sole aim: the exclusive, uncritical indoctrination of our children in millions of years of microbes-to-man evolution through our public schools. Make no mistake: this war for our children’s minds is quite on purpose10!Atheist11 Michael Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter Project, which now boasts the signatures of approximately 13,000 members of Christian clergy12, has been used since 2004 to bludgeon school districts into enforcing uncritical evolution-only science curriculums under the guise that the NOMA principle implies that there is no real conflict between evolution and religion. The signers of the Clergy Letter affirm evolution as a proven fact, that science and religion are “two very different, but complementary, forms of truth” (an espousal of NOMA), that “many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark – convey timeless truths” in the tradition of Aesop’s fables, and that “religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth” (a second affirmation of NOMA). Predictably, the vast majority of the Clergy Letter signers are almost exclusively from Catholic and liberal mainline denominations with a handful of Unitarian Universalists tossed in for good measure.

For, example, Rev. Michael Dowd, a signer of Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter Project, believes that the supernatural is simply a synonym for unnatural; therefore, he gives the following synopsis the Good News in the Preface of the Plume paperback edition of Thank God for Evolution (2009):

“An unnatural king who occasionally engages in unnatural acts sends his unnatural son to Earth in an unnatural way. He’s born an unnatural birth, lives an unnatural life, performs unnatural deeds, and is killed and unnaturally rises from the dead in order to redeem humanity from an unnatural curse brought about by an unnaturally talking snake. After 40 days of unnatural appearances he unnaturally zooms off to heaven to return to his unnatural father, sit on an unnatural throne, and unnaturally judge the living and the dead. If you profess to believe in all this unnatural activity, you and your fellow believers get to spend an unnaturally long time in an unnaturally boring paradise while everyone else suffers a torturous hell forever.”

First of all, whoever said heaven is boring? The Bible makes it clear that eternity will be far beyond our wildest imaginations [1 Corinthians 2:9]. Dowd, a minister of the United Church of Christ, believes that the “kick-butt good news” of evolution is far preferable to the Biblical one, but it doesn’t seem as if he comprehends what he objects to well enough to make such a comparison!

Men such as Dowd are rank apostates, but I wonder if many of the well-meaning clergymen who’ve signed Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter realize the full implications of what they are agreeing to, especially if Zimmerman’s Letter is meant to espouse the same version of NOMA which Gould described in Rocks of Ages. Gould’s NOMA arbitrarily invalidated teleological arguments for God’s existence13, God’s provenance14; and even the possibility of theistic evolution15, while giving lip service to God as a “clock-winder” at the beginning of it all in one version of NOMA16 (mere deism at best).

In fact, during his testimony during McLean v. Arkansas, Gould was asked, “Professor Gould, does evolutionary theory presuppose the absence of a creator?” His response was telling:

“Certainly not. Indeed, many of my colleagues are devoutly religious people. Evolution as a science does not talk about the existence of a creator. It is quite consistent with one or without one, so long as the creator works by natural laws.” [emphasis mine]

See how he contradicts himself? In one breath, he says that evolution doesn’t talk about God’s existence; in the next, He says that evolution is only consistent with a supernatural God who doesn’t actually do anything supernatural, except perhaps to institute those natural laws: a clock winder, but no more. This is utterly at odds with the Bible’s revelation of God.

While signers of the Clergy Letter Project are desperately attempting to convince the world that religion and molecules-to-man evolution are compatible, if you listen to the testimonies of those who’ve abandoned Christianity in adulthood, you find a common thread: amid the muddle of charges against Christendom, we find that almost all of their stories mention that once evolutionism was explained to them as a fact that they began to find fault with the Bible. They lost faith in the Beginning of the Bible, they began to echo the Serpent’s question “Did God really say?” and then they began to doubt the rest of it, until it all seemed pointless. Many of those who embraced evolutionism as fact went on to reject Christianity wholesale, recognizing that what was being presented as scientific truth completely contradicted what they’d been taught as religious truth. In other words, once they rejected the “earthly things” of the Bible, they went on to reject the “spiritual things” of the Bible as well.

This very tendency is why Eugenie Scott17 of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a notorious “science advocacy” [again read: evolution enforcement] group, recognizing that many students have been warned that microbes-to-man evolution is incompatible with traditional Christian faith, has advised teachers to defuse the religion issue by telling them to ask a clergyman whether evolution is OK or not. If the child’s religion is not one of the monotheistic Abrahamic religions [Judaism, Christianity or Islam], then chances are their clergy will tell them that evolution is OK. Likewise, if the child’s religion is Catholic or one of the mainline Protestant denominations, they’ll likely get the response Eugenie Scott is rooting for. Yet she cautions against the idea of surveying local ministers from a community of traditional, conservative Christian ministers because such a survey would derail her primary goal of convincing students that evolution is OK. Given the dichotomy between liberal mainline and conservative evangelical Christianity, teachers who follow Eugenie Scott’s advice are guilty of promoting one religion over another, since their tactics are meant to undermine the position of conservative Protestant faith while promoting Catholic and liberal Protestant positions for the sake of their acceptance of microbes-to-man evolution. Far from being religiously neutral, the tactics the NCSE recommends are actually promoting religious faiths that teach the compatibility of theology with microbes-to-man evolution over ones that do not.

While liberal Christianity accepts evolution, much of it also rejects a good bit of Christianity’s fundamental teachings. In many cases, liberal Christianity is Christian in name only and is so far removed from apostolic teaching that it is simply the religion of secular humanism dressed up as Christianity! For example, Presbyterian pastor John Shuck, a signer of Zimmerman’s pro-evolution Christian Clergy Letter, doesn’t even believe in either the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the very existence of God18!

Does Eugenie Scott give a rip that what liberal Christianity preaches from its pulpits? No, she merely recognizes that compromising ministers have the power to sway minds toward evolution and methodological atheism. In many cases, this compromise will cause our children to doubt the very authority of the Bible and lead to actual atheism. These ministers compromise with evolution and/or millions of years because 21st century science tells them the plain meaning of God’s revealed Word must be wrong – and never once consider the fruit of evolution is the lost souls of our children and our grandchildren. A good tree cannot produce evil fruit. They should affirm the plain truth of God’s Word in Genesis and let every man who speaks otherwise be a liar!

At least Eugenie Scott, the late Stephen Jay Gould and Michael Zimmerman, being atheists and agnostics, are being consistent with their beliefs when they subvert our kids with this unbiblical concept and lead them down the road to philosophical humanism by indoctrinating them into believing evolution as fact – by any means necessary. The signers of Zimmerman’s pro-evolution, pro-NOMA Christian Clergy Letter and Christian organizations like BioLogos have no such excuse. They are guilty of considering neither the presuppositions nor the fruit of evolutionary theory. Rather than obeying the Biblical command to cast down arguments and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ [2 Corinthians 10:5], Christians who ascribe to non-overlapping magisteria are progressively undermining the foundational basis of the Gospel.


End excerpt-

If your church plans on celebrating a Creation Sunday rather than an Evolution Sunday this weekend, be sure to visit CreationSundays.com and add your church to the growing list of supporters so folks can attend a Bible-affirming church in their area.

Also be sure to visit our Creation Sunday Facebook page at http://facebook.com/creationsunday

defgenbookcover3And visit http://eepurl.com/8x9XL to sign up to receive our newsletter, Creation Sunday News. For a limited time, subscribers will receive a coupon code to receive a free ebook copy of my new book, Defending Genesis: How We Got Here & Why It Matters. The ebook is available in many different formats on Smashwords. This offer expires February 28, 2015.

Notes:

  1. Thomas H. Huxley, quoted in Leonard Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, Vol. II (1903), p. 241.
  2. Stephen J. Gould. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. Ballantine Books: New York (1999), p.6. Referred to hereafter as Rocks of Ages.
  3. Galileo Galilei, “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christian” (1615), from Stillman Drake, transl., Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (1957), p.186, reprinted in Science and Religious Belief 1600-1900: A Selection of Primary Sources. D.C. Goodman, editor. Open University Press (1973), p. 34.
  4. Rocks of Ages, pp. 84-85.
  5. Rocks of Ages, p. 22. See also Note 15.
  6. Rocks of Ages, p.100.
  7. Bora Zivkovic. “Why Teaching Evolution Is Dangerous.” ScienceBlogs.com. Aug. 25, 2008. Web. Retrieved May 8, 2012. http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2008/08/why_teaching_evolution_is_dang.php.
  8. Background information on the Clergy Letter can be found on the Clergy Letter’s website at http://www.theclergyletterproject.org/Backgd_info.htm, an Aug. 23, 2005 article by the Beloit Daily News at http://www.beloitdailynews.com/news/clergy-weigh-in-on-evolution-design/article_9a418305-82e3-5c5c-b699-a00c16f4fe7a.html, and an interview with Jeff Nash for HumanistNetworkNews.org [Note 10].
  9. You can view more details of this joint effort by CFI and the Clergy Letter Project at their website, http://TeachThemScience.org.
  10. For an admission of this fact from the Humanist camp, see John J. Dunphy. “A Religion for a New Age.” The Humanist. (Jan-Feb 1983): 26.
  11.  “Conversations with Christian and Atheist Activists: Michael Zimmerman.” Interview with Guest Columnist Jeff Nash. HumanistNetworksNews.org. Web. Jan 3. 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2011. http://www.americanhumanist.org/hnn/archives/index.php?id=278&article=1
  12. The text of the Clergy Letter can be found at http://www.theclergyletterproject.org/Christian_Clergy/ChrClergyLtr.htm. For a line-by-line deconstruction of the Christian Clergy Letter visit http://kcsg.wordpress.com/clergy-letter.
  13. Rocks of Ages, pp .218-219.
  14. Rocks of Ages, pp.93-94; also 201-202.
  15. Rocks of Ages, p. 94.
  16. Rocks of Ages, p. 22. One assumes that in another version of NOMA even this small concession to the notion of a Creator God would be disallowed; certainly Gould provides no versions of NOMA in which God may act as more than a clock-winder.
  17. Eugenie Scott. “Dealing With Anti-Evolutionism.” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, v17 n4 p24-30 Jul-Aug 1997. NSCE.com. Reprinted at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/Scott.html. Retrieved 29 Apr 2012.
  18. John Shuck. “A Church Without God.” ShuckandJive.org. Web. March 23, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2011. http://www.shuckandjive.org/2010/03/church-without-god.html.

A Free eBook for Creation Sunday 2015… by Tony Breeden of DefGen.org

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defgenbookcover3Recently I’ve been doing a LOT of writing. Some of you know about my fictional works. I love writing action-packed apologetic sci-fi and I have every intention of getting back to it as soon as possible, but I had one of those odd moments recently where you simply feel God giving you a bit of a nudge in a different direction. In this case, I was happily writing the sequel to Luckbane, when Daniel Hoskins, president of the local Kanawha Creation Science Group, asked me to speak at their annual WV Creation Conference. As I was putting together a new presentation, based on the post Evolutionary Fictions: On Plot Holes, Deus ex Machina and Other Crimes Against Fiction, I had this realization that it was time to write a nonfiction book on a subject near and dear to me.

Many of you are fully aware that my particular forays into the Origins Argument have involved atheist Dr. Michael Zimmerman’s pro-evolution Clergy Letter Project and Evolution Weekend. Through CreationLetter.com and CreationSundays.com, in particular, I’ve set out to expose the flaws of the most widely advertised compromise position between Biblical creationism and millions of year of molecules-to-man evolution. I’m speaking here of non-overlapping magisteria or NOMA, popularized by the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould in his book Rocks of Ages and espoused by such groups as Biologos, the Clergy Letter Project and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). NOMA is the idea that religion and science are two different but complementary forms of truth; religion dealing with morality and meaning, while science deals with facts and reality. NOMA commits a logical fallacy called the fact/value distinction where Christianity is concerned; Christianity makes claims [values] that are rooted in historical fact. For example, Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, if Christ did not rise from the dead, our preaching and our faith is in vain, we are yet in our sins, those who have died believing in Christ are dead and gone, and we’re guilty of bearing false witness for saying that God raised Christ from the dead. Furthermore in verses 30-32 of that same chapter, Paul notes that if the resurrection did not occur, those who martyred themselves for the faith did so needlessly, for we would have no promise of any life beyond this one. Jesus Himself refuted the false premise behind NOMA when he said to Nicodemus:

“If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” [John 3:12]

In Defending Genesis: How We Got Here & Why It Matters, I explore what the Origins Argument is really about. It’s a matter of what we presuppositionally hold as our ultimate authority: science chained to pure naturalism or science informed by Biblical revelation. In Defending Genesis, I demonstrate why the world we observe is most reasonably explained by the Bible rather than pure naturalism. It’s time to remind the Church that we’re really dealing with two different faith propositions. Science chained to pure naturalism can only give us all-natural answers that may or may not be true – and are certainly false where God was involved! Meanwhile, the fruit of presupposing an all-natural worldview as our ultimate authority (or accepting arbitrary compromises with such) is often apostasy, for no man can serve two masters.

Defending Genesis is currently available in a variety of ebook formats at Smashwords for $5.99. The print version should be available in the next few weeks. I’m offering the Smashwords version for free to subscribers of my Creation Sunday newsletter. Simply sign up for our newsletter at http://eepurl.com/8x9XL and we will email you the coupon code. Then got to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511956, select the ebook format you prefer and enter the code before you checkout. Offer expires 2/28/2015.

Evolutionary Fictions: On Plot Holes, Deus ex Machina and Other Crimes Against Fiction

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BookCoverPreview-FrontJohnny Came Home is my superhero sci-fi novel set in the town of Midwich, West Virginia. Noting that microbes-to-man evolution is the the preferred explanation for comic book super powers these days, I basically set out to see if superheroes could be explained from a Biblical creationist POV. Editing this Biblically faithful superhero novel took much longer than I originally thought! I had no idea how many typos and grammar errors can creep into a document when you’re not looking!

As much as I hate to admit it, as I began editing Johnny, I noticed a few plot holes. Plot holes are one of my personal pet peeves. I cannot count the times that I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in a book, quite enjoying myself only to encounter a contradiction so glaringly evident that it takes me out of the fantasy and basically ruins the book. While the worlds we create as authors are imaginary, these imaginary worlds have boundaries and rules which cannot be violated if we’re to be faithful to our readers. Even historical fiction is really an imaginary world where we flesh out the details and dialogue of real events, for we don’t really know the details and dialogue we’ve just added really occurred. In fact, we can only say that our story is one possible way these events might have played out. If you create a scenario which defies the rules of your imaginary world, or a ridiculously fortuitous deus ex machina [whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object], or a credibility-sucking plot hole, you’ve violated your readers investment in that world.

Let’s take a real-world example to drive this point home:

Science today is played by the rule of pure naturalism, so in creating [they would say re-creating, but I’ll get to that erroneous notion] the history of the cosmos and life here on earth, they can only consider all-natural answers to the evidence of nature. They cannot consider deities, fairies or any other supernatural thing. According to the rules, science deals with things that are observable and repeatable and then extrapolates these observations backwards to events that happened in the historical past. As they say, the present is the key to the past, which is the principle of uniformitarianism. So far, so good, as far as science fiction worlds go. And yes we’re dealing with science fiction here, for barring the invention of a time machine or some other credible witness by which we could verify the events of the past, we can only say that this is one possible way things might have played out. In the case of modern science, we can only say that their story is how things probably played out in answer to the question, “What IF the world came to be by all-natural processes consitent with those we observe today?”

It goes without saying that if the premise is wrong [i.e., if pure naturalism is a false assumption and God actually exists so that He had something to do with the origin and history of the cosmos], the story becomes totally improbable.

The problem for the evolutionary fiction we teach our kids is that it contains a few crimes against fiction, things that frankly destroyed it credibility when I stumbled upon them. Keep in mind that we’re answering the question, “What IF the world came to be by all-natural processes consistent with those we observe today?” Yet right from the beginning of the story, we have a deus ex machina whereby either everything came from nothing [not something we observe happening today] or as a property of the multiverse [which is unobservable and theoretical]. So the question has really been adjusted to “What If the world came to be by some miraculous event or by some unobservable multiverse straight out of a science fiction novel, but then developed by all-natural processes consistent with those we observe today?” Again, we have a problem – several in fact! The evolutionary science fiction tale requires other things we never observe, special one-time events that are quite simply miracles: they propose information without an intelligent source [though our experience teaches us that such information is always the product of intelligence], life from non-life, [when no one has ever observed any such thing] and the gradual development of one kind of organism into another [viz. fish to amphibians, dinosaurs to birds, ape-like ancestors to humans]. None of these things have ever been observed. There is no present process that can account for them. They require deus ex machina to move the plot along.

But wait! you might say. Evolution occurs by the gradual adaptation of an organism via mutation and natural selection and the fossil record shows this. Except it doesn’t. The fossil record shows stasis and sudden appearance. The fossil record shows phyla that are full formed. Dogs are still dogs and recognizably so, whether a wolf, Australian shepherd or English bulldog. Observable nature confirms the Biblicla claim of variation within created kinds, as does the fossil record. The late evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould stands as a hostile witness to this fact, when he wrote the following:

“The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’”

Now let’s examine that quote a little more closely:

“The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism [gradualism: i.e., mainstream evolution as taught in our public school textbooks]: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. [A dog is still a dog and recognizably so, be it a wolf, English bulldog or a wiener dog.] 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors [and keep in mind that a species arising “gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors” is, again, pretty much a textbook definition of the sort of evolution our textbooks teach. But instead of OBSERVING what’s taught in textbooks in the fossil record we see instead that]; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.”

Rather than admitting that the evidence doesn’t affirm microbes-to-man evolution, he came up with punctuated equilibrium, the idea that organisms speciate, adapt and mutate as we observe today [facts which Creationists likewise affirm], but then undergo rapid [geologically speaking] evolution periodically which causes one type of creature to change into a completely kind of organism; conveniently, these changes occur in the gaps in the fossil record, so that he’s extrapolating from the lack of evidence for Darwin’s predicted transitional forms rather than evidence supporting his theory! This is a major plot hole in the evolutionary science fiction tale we are taught in public schools!

Neither is the only plot hole in the all-natural just-so story of the cosmos. Co-evolution is proposed to explain the contradiction that bees [and other pollinators] need pollen to survive and flowers need vectors [pollinators] to survive. Homology is touted as evidence for common descent, except when they know that the organisms did not share a common ancestor, in which case homology is evidence of convergent evolution. When an organism ceases to leave fossils in the geological record, this is said to be evidence of its extinction, yet “living fossils” like the Coelecanth anf the Wolemi pine are admitted to leave absolutely no fossil traces over alleged millions of years despite their living existence in the present. Polystrate fossils, extending over several strata which would normally be interpreted as several long ages, are admitted as evidence of geologically quick, catastrophic processes, yet such layers elsewhere sans polystrates are unquestionably regarded as evidence of long ages. And so on and so forth.

Being so painfully aware of the problems with the all-natural story of the cosmos, you can probably appreciate how I would want to rid my own fictional work of plot holes and other crimes against fiction. And so I did.

Johnny Came Home deals with the flaws of evolution, the superior interpretation of Biblical Creation and the evils of racism, wrapped in an action-packed superhero epic full of surprises, humor, mech suits, flying saucers, hover crafts, zombies, clones and epic battles – all from a Biblical worldview! If you’re interested in finding out more, visit http://TonyBreedenBooks.com or visit our Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/tonybreedenbooks. If you share this on Twitter @creationletter don’t forget to include the hashtag #tonybreedenbooks!

Matthew 18:15-17: Christian Conflict and Social Media

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themaskpackingheat_2Recently, I went to a fellow Christian via a Facebook PM about a matter that I felt he was wrong in. I chose a private message because I believe that Jesus Christ told us how to handle conflict in Matthew 18:15-17:

15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Most Christians recognize this passage as what is generally called Church Discipline. It may surprise you, but Jesus was simply reminding folks of OT procedure on the matter [see Deut 19: 15-21]. In other words, this procedure was established as a part of OT Law to help folks handle disputes.

Note that there are three steps to this process:

  1. A private exchange between two individuals.
  2. An exchange with two or three witnesses who are there to establish what was said and what wasn’t said AND to reason with the offender [note that verse 17 says, “if he shall neglect to hear THEM].
  3. A hearing before the church

Now it should be clear from even a cursory reading of tis passage that the initial exchange is to be a private matter. So imagine my surprise to find our personal exchange via PM posted to a wall of a Facebook Group. My wife experienced the same thing over another matter: a Facebook PM being pasted to a personal Facebook wall for the world to see.

The problem is, of course, that there is no way that this can be construed as fulfilling a step of Matthew 18:15-17. A Facebook post is by no means private, so we’ve left Step 1 in the dust. A wall post typically involves more than 2 or three witnesses [more on that in a moment], so it cannot be said to be a fulfillment of Step 2. Furthermore, we could not typically call Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform the “church,” even in the local sense, and in those rare cases where, say, a Facebook group constituted an Internet Church [as opposed to a social media gathering by a geographically local church] posting a private exchange in this manner entirely skips Step 3.

It should be said that posting a private exchange between two individuals on a public social media forum actually violates the intent of Step 2, for the exchange is usually prefaced with remarks about how this other person hurt their feelings or how they’re attacking them. Rather than two or three witnesses establishing every word that is said [or isn’t], one party has sought to present the matter in a manner that seeks to bias their audience. They want their friends and family and fans to be on their side and tell them how awful this other person was to “attack them” or hurt their feelings. Rather than helping to resolve a conflict, such a tactic seeks to vindicate the one posting the private exchange. Often it is coupled with an attempt to demonize the other party.

In their zeal to comfort and rise to the defense of their friend, Christians often forget that we are to judge without partiality [Leviticus 19:15] and that their friend is essentially asking them to judge the matter based on their word alone!

Another matter to be considered is that posting a private exchange on Facebook violates 1 Corinthians 6, for when we bring our private disputes to a public Facebook wall rather than following the pattern God gave us, we are taking our disputes before both believers and unbelievers. For this cause the name of the Lord is blasphemed among the heathen. When they see us fighting rather than seeking to make peace according to the Lord;s command in Matthew 18:15-17, the unbelieving world wants no part of the Church or its Lord. And who could blame them? Paul advises us to accept wrong and let ourselves be slighted [1 Cor 6:7] rather than bringing our discord before the unsaved world.

Rather than trying to gain sympathy from friends or to demonize our opponents via social media, we are commanded to handle conflict with discretion [which we’ve already discussed] and urgency.  We are to seek to be a peacemaker and to remember to address the issue rather than attacking the person [Eph 6:12]. One way to accomplish this is by using descriptive language that relates the facts rather than evaluative language that passes judgment. For example, you should seek to say things like, “When you did this, I felt this” or “Please stop doing this for this reason.“] Don’t say things like “You made me feel this” or “Only an idiot would do that.” To be more specific, don’t call someone a liar; tell them what they said and why you think it wasn’t true. Sometimes our conflicts are based on misunderstandings.

You should also avoid passive-aggressive posts. Seriously. The Bible says that we should say what we mean [Matt 5:37]. I know it’s common in the South to say, “Well, bless her heart,” when you mean somebody oughtta do something about that so-and-so, but God wants us to use plainness of speech. Passive-aggressive posts that veil insults under innocent-sounding words are a form of gossip at best and slander at worst. As the Bible says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My bretrhren, these things ought not so to be” [James 3:10].

I freely admit that I don’t always respond as I ought. We need to keep in mind that Christians aren’t perfect and that everyone slips up in the same ways we slip up. Just as you’ve come after someone hot-headed with both guns blazing, you may encounter an unreasonable Christian who’s just having a bad day. Don’t let your emotions ruin your relationship. Sticking to the issues rather than engaging in insult will go a long way toward a speedy resolution. So will being willing to forgive a person for making an honest mistake and to seek forgiveness for your own.

Jesus emphasized the urgency of reconciliation in the Sermon on the Mount, when he said the following [Matt 5:23-26]:

23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;  24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.  26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

Here, Jesus advises us to be reconciled with our brother before the matter escalates to a formal hearing, where far more serious consequences were in store. Paul likewise emphasized the urgency or reconciliation, when he commanded the Ephesian Church, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” [Eph 4:26]. It’s easy to let misunderstandings fester into bitterness and on to full-blown conflicts. If both parties seek to resolve the matter quickly and discretely and to follow the outline Jesus gave in Matthew 18, personal conflicts don’t get the opportunity to inflate into full-scale church feuds.

Before I end this piece, a word on gossips.

Gossips love social media. I’m not condemning social media as a harpy pit. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t go on social media. I’m saying that Christians need to be on guard against social media gossips. As the Bible warns, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” [Proverbs 26:20]. Following the steps outlined in Matthew 18 will prevent a gossip from getting a foothold in the conversation and make reconciliation a real possibility.

Bottom line: Christians, don’t use social media to air out your personal differences.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful.

Keep the faith,
Tony Breeden
DefGen.org

Why I Recently Dropped the Rev From My Signature

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nameFor those of you who’ve noticed [some haven’t], I recently went through my sites and removed the “Rev” from my name. I want to assure you that I’m still a Gospel preacher and that I’m still ordained.

So why did I do it?

Well, there are some who make the argument that putting the “Rev” or “Reverend” in front of your name is a violation of the intent of Scriptures like Matthew 23:7-11 and Job 32:21-22. They might have a point. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve never been called “Reverend Breeden” without telling someone to simply call me Tony. I myself only ever pronounced it “Rev Tony” and only then because it had a certain laid back ring to it. Bottom line: I’ve never cared about the title. To me, it’s always just been a way to let folks know I marry and bury ’em.

So why did I do it?

I’ve dropped it because certain religious opponents [Pharisees] I’ve engaged over the years have used that title to poison the well. Instead of addressing my arguments, they insinuate that I think I’m the Great Big Whoopteedoo and say things like “He calls himself a ‘reverend’ which is a title that belongs to God alone” or “He calls himself a ‘reverend’, an unbiblical title.” In each case, they use it to suggest that I’m arrogant, religious and that everything else I say is probably wrong since I use that title.

So to take away their chance to throw in a cheap shot and bias other folks when it comes to my arguments, I happily discard a title I never cared about much anyway.

In the end, the only thing that matters is walking worthy of the vocation God has called me to [Eph. 4:1]. I’m sure they’ll dream up other names to call me instead. ;]

Regards,
Tony, DefGen.org

Thank God for Christian Rock

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xnrkOn March 23, 1997, I gave my heart to God. I was a heathen agnostic. I was undeniably a sinner. Yet God granted me grace and repentance and I was reborn by faith in Christ Jesus. It changed my life in ways I did not anticipate.

For example, I found myself getting rid of a lot of my books, movies and music because they contained stuff that I simply would not have felt comfortable having in my home if Jesus came by for a visit. I grew up in church, so I had some idea of what God expected out of his followers. Unfortunately, I grew up in a more legalistically fundamentalist sect of Christianity and this colored my views of God and his expectations.

The point remains that, even if I erred on the side of caution,  I got rid of a lot of stuff for the sake of my walk with Christ. Another thing that happened was I had to make a choice about my band. I was the lead vocalist in a local metal band I’d helped form. I’d written all of the lyrics – and that was well over 100 songs! Unfortunately, my unregenerate self was a rather vile and pagan lyricist, so I no longer felt comfortable singing those songs. Nor did I think it fair to my band-mates to insist that we begin singing Christian lyrics; that wasn’t what they’d signed on for. So I gave up the band and stepped away from that scene. While I enjoyed singing hymns due to my upbringing, I had an affinity for rock and roll, as you can well imagine. So when my baby brother introduced me to this band called Skillet, I was just overjoyed! Here was a Christian band, singing about their faith and strengthening mine – and they did it with rock music.

The point I’m getting at is that I’d been warned that rock and roll was the Devil’s music. Folks were quite adamant about that. They reminded me [ala’ Bob Larson] that many big-name secular bands were into the occult and Satanism. They reminded me that the lyrics of secular bands contained references to sex, drugs and the occult.  They repeated the tales of suicide victims listening to morbid rock lyrics and warned of the dangers of hidden messages implanted via back-masking. And that was supposed to be that.

But that was comparing apples to oranges. Of course secular bands have bad lyrics and ascribe to bad ideas and ideologies. Christian bands, by definition, have Christian themes and lyrics instead. Furthermore, a bit more investigation revealed that there is no research to suggest that lyrics  that can only be heard when you play a record backwards [which are often only coincidental phonemes that only vaguely sound like what they’re supposed to say] have any effect on a person’s behavior or beliefs. Furthermore persons who commit suicide do not commit suicide because of the music they listen to. Quite the reverse. Depressed persons find music that resonates with their mood and intent. People have committed suicide to mood music from various genres, including rock, classical, country, etc. To call rock music the cause of these suicides is simply false; using such anecdotes as evidence that rock is the Devil’s music simply says that the person objecting to rock cares less about truth than he does his own biases and preferences.

Now at this point I want to prevent critics from making the ridiculous mistake of saying something to the effect that God was bringing me out of my rock music or that God was convicting me to get rid of the genre. The general claim is that I’ve said something to the effect of “Before I was saved, I was a nudist. Then I clothed myself after I was saved. But then someone showed me Christian nudism, and I was overjoyed!” That analogy assumes that rock is evil a priori. But I wasn’t convicted of the genre; I was convicted of some of the messages that some songs in the genre contained. What I am saying is that “Before I was saved, I ate rotten apples. Then I stopped eating apples altogether until someone showed me that I could eat apples that were not rotten and how to discern between good and rotten apples.” I could also use the analogy of fire: “Before I was saved, I used fire to hurt, destroy and kill. When I became a Christian I thought I had to give up fire, but then someone showed me how to use fire to cook, keep warm and clear land, how to use fire safely and properly and how to discern when things are getting out of hand.” Of course, if you’re the type of person who throws out the baby with the bathwater, I can understand if the distinction between medium and message or entity and use is confusing.

Modern Day Pharisees

Recently I ran across one of those anti-Christian rock articles that are quite simply an affront to reason, sound Scriptural exegesis and common sense. This article hit all of the Bob Larson bases; I could have predicted where it was going long before it got there. The trouble with his argument is that he was assuming that rock was evil from the outset and then using the Scripture that says a corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit to argue against Christian rock. The other side of that coin [the part of the verse he didn’t want us to thin about] is that a corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. This is a real problem for his entire premise of rock and roll being the Devil’s music. If a corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit [Matthew 7:18], as Jesus said, how is it that folks who listen to Christian rock affirm that it helped them to find faith, or that it strengthened their faith or that it helped them to admit to and address some sin in their life? These Christian rock objectors imply that listening to Christian rock is something of a gateway drug to secular rock and will cause a Christian to backslide or apostasize entirely. But that’s NOT the testimony that Christian rock has from its fans! Instead we see Christian rock bearing good fruit and secular rock bearing corrupt fruit.

The fellow who penned the anti-rock article began with a note that we need to use discernment when we listen to music, buuuut what he really meant was that we need to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Now I do agree that we need to use discernment when we listen to music. I just don’t think we ought to be worldly about it.  Jesus said to judge righteously, not merely by appearances [John 7:24].  Paul warned the Colossian Church, saying:

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” [Col 2:8]

He goes on to rebuke the Colossians for falling back into following ordinances and the traditions of men:

“Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” [Col 2:20-22]

Touch not, taste not, handle not is still the substitute religion of the modern-day Pharisee. Pharisees like to add things to the commandment of God – and sometimes they mean well – but in doing so they go further than God intended. For example, when Jesus’ disciples were hungry on the Sabbath day, they picked corn to eat as they passed through the field [Mark 2:23-28]. The Pharisees were livid! In their zeal to obey God’s commandments, specifically the 4th Commandment, they’d come up with all of these extra rules and regulations. In this case, they wanted to precisely define “work” so that they didn’t break the Sabbath. They had decided for example that a man could only walk so far before it was considered work. The trouble was that they forgot that God never said the things they’d added to His commandments. They saw them as one and the same.

In response, Jesus reminded them that David ate the showbread from the altar when he was hungry, though by law it was only to be eaten by the priests. By his example, Jesus made it clear that they were being too legalistic in their approach. Furthermore, they had the wrong perspective: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

In a parallel passage in Matthew 12, Jesus rebuked them with Scripture, saying, “If you had learned what this means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Now the irony is that Jesus had actually told them to go and learn what that Scripture meant before this incident. When Jesus called Matthew [Matt 9], he ate with Matthew’s friends who were publicans and sinners. When the Pharisees saw this, they rebuked Jesus for associating with sinners, but Jesus answered them by saying, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  But go you and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6, in which the Lord says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” The Pharisees weren’t concerned with reaching sinners and showing them God. Rather, they were interested in showing how righteous they were and in condemning everyone who didn’t fall in line with their standard of holiness. Rather than being their brother’s keeper, they laid weights on people that were hard to bear because they weren’t what God had intended [Matt. 15:3; Mark 7:13]… and they never lifted a finger to help others shoulder those weights [Matt 23:4]! pharisees

If you want to see a worldly man, look at the Pharisees. They were conformed to the rudiments of this world rather than being transformed by the renewing of their minds through Christ [to paraphrase Romans 12:2]. True discernment doesn’t lie that way. Neither is discernment based on our feelings. It’s based on letting the Holy Spirit lead us through God’s Word. We have to study God’s Word if we’re to know how to rightly divide it [2 Tim 2:15]. Rest assured the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth [John 16:13] and that when a man asks God for wisdom, your Creator gives it in abundance [James 1:5].

Now this anti-rock Pharisee used all of the typical arguments. He even noted that the term “rock and roll” used to be a slang term for sex. He concludes this section by claiming, “With the understanding that ‘rock’ is a slang term for fornication, when someone says ‘rock music’, they are actually saying ‘sex music’, and when someone says ‘Christian rock music’, they are actually saying ‘Christian sex music’, which is an oxymoronic phrase.” And of course the Bible warns us against fornication, so open and shut, right?

Unfortunately, he is using a logical fallacy called the etymological fallacy. This fallacy is a genetic fallacy that holds, erroneously, that the present-day meaning of a word or phrase should necessarily be similar to its historical meaning. For example, do you worship Norse gods and goddesses? Probably not, but did you know that the origin of the names of the days of the week are references to Norse mythology? What would you say to someone who suggested that you were a pagan idolater because you made an appointment on Thursday [Thor’s Day]? You’d tell him that the meaning of the word today [the fifth day of the week or the fourth weekday] has nothing to do with its origins!

I will not deny that sex is a thematic elements of some secular songs and acts in the rock genre, but the term “rock and roll” no longer refers to the sex act; that’s a far out-dated use of the word. In its normative use, rock and roll refers to “a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African-American genres such as blues, jump blues, jazz, and gospel music, together with Western swing and country music.” [src: Wikipedia].

But to say the term Christian rock is like saying Christian sex music… well, even hardcore detractors of Christian rock would be hard-pressed to find an example of a sex-themed Christian rock song, so his argument is a case of special pleading. Now the Pharisee who wrote the anti-rock article that inspired this article tried to defend this error by saying:

“In order for me to have violated logical laws, the definition of “rock and roll” would have had to change at some point over the past 60 years. Again, this particular style of music was given the label “sex-on-the-go” (i.e. rock and roll), and the definition of it has never changed. The context in which “rock” is used always refers to the musical genre, which was labeled based on the “sex-on-the-go” term, and proof of this can often been seen in modern movies and shows today that depict sex orgies or wild acts of fornication because you will most often hear rock music played in the background.”

That’s right. He just said we know the definition has never changed because you “most often” [based on his wide sampling pool I’m sure] hear rock music playing in the background during sex scenes in movies and TV shows. I’ve also heard rap, country, classical, reggae and, yes, even Gospel played in the background during such sex-related scenes. I’ve also heard rock in the background for scenes that portray violence, depression, celebration, determination, love, comedy and camaraderie [a short list, to be sure]. This reductionist argument from usage fails because it is derived from cherry-picking [a selective use of evidence rooted in confirmation bias]; furthermore, he cannot provide a single modern dictionary that includes “sex-on-the-go music” as a current definition, which means this argument is in fact an etymological fallacy because it is based on such an out-dated definition of rock and roll that the typical reaction to any revelation of the term’s origin is usually met with the reaction, “Really? I was not aware of that.”

He then used all of the Bob Larson arguments we’ve discussed, making no difference between the holy and the profane and this assuming that all rock was bad so Christian rock must be an oxymoron. Of course, since Christian rock doesn’t contain Satanic lyrics, sexual themes or anything else he objects to in secular rock, he is forced to ask, “What does all of this have to do with Christian rock?” Quite simply, he hoped to condemn Christian rock by association with secular rock by using an etymological fallacy and a selective use of evidence [cherry-picking his examples]. He had not proved his point at all by this False Analogy between Satanic variants of secular rock and Christian rock. All the bad apples in the world have no bearing on either good apples or oranges.

Void for Vagueness?

Of course, since Christian rock doesn’t contain any of the themes he objects to in secular rock, he and other modern-day Pharisees must resort to attempting to tear down Christian rock lyrics by a different standard than the one they use to condemn secular rock. They usually accuse Christian rock lyrics of being vague and self-centered. In fact, the author of the post I criticized made the claim that “most of the words are useless and have little to do with edification and praise to the Jesus Christ of the Bible.” [emphasis mine]. Most? Really? Can he verify that somehow? Or is he just hoping he’s preaching to the choir? Sweeping generalizations aside, the fact is that a lot of the stuff I hear on contemporary Christian radio like K-Love and Air1 is not vague at all: the lyrics mention God, Jesus and specific doctrinal truths. This critic is simply ignoring a large body of evidence that contradicts his claims. progressivechristianity

We also have to ask ourselves if vagueness [however vaguely defined by critics of Christian rock] is a legitimate criteria for criticizing Christian music. I can understand that someone who is not a lyricist might get bent out of shape over a song being vague, but if we’re going to start condemning stuff that doesn’t contain an overt and clear reference to God in a consistent manner, we’re going to have to chuck the book of Esther from our Bibles. Note that Esther may not contain any overt or clear mentions of God, theology or doctrine, but it does convey God’s providence and care for His people.

Of course, the usual charge is that some Christian rock songs and some secular love songs are largely indistinguishable from one another. My answer to this is: so what? Are Christians [who are commanded to love their wives] not allowed to write a love song? Without being arbitrary in our standard, what distinguishes the book of Esther or the Song of Solomon as being holy rather than secular? The answer is context. The context makes the meaning clear that the song is about God. Every Skillet or Third Day fan knows what their songs are about, even if a particular song does not specifically reference God or Christ. Anyone hearing such a song on Christian radio knows what they are about. These songs are not sung in a vacuum. And for every song a detractor might find vague, he or she ignores just as many songs, if not more, that make overt references to God, Jesus Christ and passages of Scripture. This selective review of the evidence is damning to their argument.

When charging Christian rock lyrics with being self-centered, an objector has to ignore a good many hymns and Psalms that emphasize the personal experience of the believer. In fact, I pointed out to the Pharisee that wrote the anti-rock article that inspired this post that  he’d basically emphasized the I/me/my phrases in Christian rock songs and called them self-centered and emphasized the God/Christ phrases in hymns. The fact that he didn’t apply his method consistently, betrayed his bias. For example, he offered the following comparison:

Building 429 – “Where I Belong” SELF-Centered It Is Well With My Soul GOSPEL-Centered
Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find All I know is I’m not home yet This is not where I belong Take this world and give me Jesus This is not where I belong So when the walls come falling down on me And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea I have this blessed assurance holding me. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

He’s emphasized the I/me/my phrases in the Christian rock song and the emphasized the theological elements of the hymn. Unfortunately, I could just as easily reverse this:

Building 429 – “Where I Belong” SELF-Centered It Is Well With My Soul GOSPEL-Centered
Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find All I know is I’m not home yet This is not where I belong Take this world and give me Jesus This is not where I belong So when the walls come falling down on me And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea I have this blessed assurance holding me. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

If we’re fair in our assessment, both songs contain elements that are Gospel-centered and Self-centered, because these songs are Christian songs that relate a personal testimony. Both songs say essentially the same thing: “I have this blessed assurance holding me” or “It is well with my soul” no matter how the sea rages or the sea billows roll. Both were saying they weren’t truly home yet. The songs differ after this theme because they were written by different men with different experiences. Again, there is no Scriptural reason why we cannot write songs from a personal POV that emphasizes our personal testimony.  In fact, my grandfather used to say of the hymn “Blessed Assurance” that he was singing his testimony.

Arguments from Reductionism

Another tactic of the anti-Christian rock crowd is to ask, “Is this edifying?” This is a reductionist tactic that ignores the fact that not even the Word of God is all edification. Just as the Bible contains warnings, edification, rebukes, doctrine, etc [2 Tim 3:16-17], song lyrics may expound a theme that is not necessarily edifying, but does address some Christian doctrine. For example, the Pharisee to whom I responded included a quote from some Rob Rock lyrics [see below] that were clearly allusions to the Book of Revelation and Jesus’ prophetic warnings of the Last Days in Matthew 24. Unless we’re going to veto readings of those and similar prophetic passages, we cannot use a reductionist definition of “edifying” to veto Christian rock.

The same argument would apply against a reductionist question of “Does it praise God/Jesus?” as again not all Scripture is praise, but also contains history, poetry, prophecy, rebuke, doctrine, correction, etc. One variant of this that has come to my attention is the claim that “Psalm 66 clearly demonstrates how we should write a truly Biblical praise of God.” Sigh. This is why these guys make horrible lyricists. I’m not saying you couldn’t write a song using Psalm 66 as a guideline; I will state that Psalm 66 does not in any seek to demonstrate how one should write a truly Biblical praise of God. It’s an invitation to praise God zealously; it speaks nothing to form, structure or genre.

Yet another similar tactic in this vein is to misapply Philippians 4:8. If the Bible truly meant what they attempt to make Phillipians 4:8 mean, we couldn’t read most of the Old Testament for all of the murder, rape, adultery, etc., contained in some passages. Sometimes a passage is true but not necessarily lovely, like David’s challenge to Goliath or truthful accounts of man’s sin. Paul was telling the church at Philippi to meditate on these good things because right thinking leads to right action/behavior. He was not saying that we should never think about things that are evil or false; if this were the case, the anti-rock critic has made a hypocrite of himself and caused fellow Christians to sin by dedicating a post to the evils of secular rock!

A final tactic in the reductionist vein that should be mentioned is the objection that a particular song is weak on a particular point of doctrine. Songs are NOT theological treatises. They may be personal testimonies. They may emphasize a particular doctrine or theme [grace, confessions of sin, God’s love, dealing with doubt, joy, edifications to do more good and/or share the Gospel, warnings of future judgment, etc]. Some contain more doctrine than others and this is usually based on the chosen theme or the tone of the song. Hymns are no different in this regard, because have limitations that are inherent in the art form. Books and sermons have different constraints. in short, this objection betrays  a basic misunderstanding of what a song is. Bottom line: don’t fall for this sleight of hand.

Each of these tactics is an attempt to set up a False Dilemma. There is no Scriptural warrant for condemning a song based on vaguely defined “vagueness” or any of the qualifications these modern-day Pharisees have contrived. In fact, if applied fairly and without bias, all of their contrivances tend to condemn certain portions of Scripture that are out-of-line with their standards. That pretty says you’re doing it wrong, guys.

Emotional Appeals

Don’t be fooled. It isn’t about the lyrics. It’s about the genre. There are tons of Christian rock songs with lyrics would wholly approve of they that these guys ignore. If they were to judge these songs by the lyrics alone, could they condemn them? Would they condemn hymns that were put to rock music? They most certainly would. In fact, the Pharisee I responded to wrote the following challenge: “Look to the Lord God and be honest about which one of these would the chosen Twelve Apostles would approve for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvc-gcS71js http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPPSG_SpojY
Rob Rock – “Judgement Day” It Is Well With My Soul
Violence, wrath and chaos, Blood fills the street Generals lead their masses, Children at their feet Come Armageddon, The woman rides the beast Wisdom from the heavens, Anger, plagues, disease Lead the nations astray, Kill the prophets and saints Deluded and fallen, the mark of the beast Judgment Day When the stars fall from the sky Good and evil will collide There’s a rider on the storm Bringing justice and the sword When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.

After warning in the beginning of his article that we cannot rely on our feelings to determine God’s will, this Pharisee asks his readers to respond to this blatant emotional appeal. He wants you to answer based on how the music makes you feel and how you feel the Twelve Apostles would react. Ironically, the answer to his question of which music the Twelve Apostles would approve for the church is neither. The Apostles would find both musical styles completely foreign to their historical and cultural tastes. This evident cultural bias is a common fallacy committed by Christian culture warriors; they simply assume that their tastes are what God approves of.

Poisoning the Well

A lot of times, you will see blatant attempts to poison the well. This is a a logical fallacy where someone tries to taint the opponent’s position by associating it with something that is bad but ultimately irrelevant to the argument. For example, the article I objected to noted that Skillet fans call themselves Panheads and made the following remarks:

“It’s interesting to note that ‘panhead’ is referring to cookwear, but ‘Pan’ is also one of the satanic gods that Aleister Crowley worshiped. Earlier, I quoted the “Hymn to Pan,” which was the poem/song Crowley wrote claiming that he was a god himself, and that he rapes and rends forever. Why would a born-again Christian call oneself a ‘panhead’ for any reason?”

Of course, the answer is that cookware [skillets, pans, etc] has nothing to do with Pan, so there is NO reason why a Christian fan of Skillet should not to call themselves a panhead. His entire argument is a non sequitur and a case of special pleading. He hasn’t given us any reason to abstain calling ourselves a panhead other than an irrelevant definition of pan that is inapplicable to the situation. Of course, this Pharisee knows that the term Panhead has no association with the god Pan or with Satanist Aliester Crowley. Several persons have pointed out that the association is unwarranted, but this Pharisee continues to try to associate them. Why let the facts get in the way of a useful bullet point, eh?

Another tactic is guilt by association. Anti-Christian rock critics will note that Christian rock bands often look like secular bands. They ignore the fact that most of these fashion and hairstyle choices are more indicative of the culture and decade a person is engaging and do not indicate that a person is a Satan worshipper or that their desires are worldly rather than spiritual. Truly as God said to Samuel, “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” [1 Sam 16:7]. This  is why Jesus told us we should “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” [John 7:24].

But wait! Doesn’t 1 Thessalonians 5:22 say that we are to  “Abstain from all appearance of evil”? Yep. The problem is that the Greek work eidos [translated as appearance in the KJV] doesn’t mean anything like semblance. That word actually means something more like the modern words kind or type. What this verse means is that we are to avoid any type of actual evil. It does not mean that we are to abstain from things that may or may not be evil but look evil outwardly, because that would force us to disobey Christ’s command not to judge by outward appearances!

Worse still, they condemn Christian rock groups for hanging out with secular artists. When these guys make that objection, all I can hear is the Pharisees scoffing, “This man eats with sinners and publicans!”

Sometimes you will also hear the charge that rock music is associated with violence and death. The critic who wrote the article that inspired this one wrote that heavy metal is associated with death and destruction… and then provided a military recruiting video as proof! We covered this objection already in exposing the etymological fallacy in the charge that rock and roll is sex music. Again, rock [even metal variants] is chosen as the background music for scenes that portray violence, depression, celebration, determination, love, comedy, sex and, camaraderie and so on and so forth. We also covered it when we dealt with rock music being misrepresented as the cause of suicides rather than being one of many genres depressed individuals choose as mood music to go along with that senseless act.

The absolute worst attempt to condemn by association is the accusation that Christian rock artists use the Devil’s sign. The Pharisee who got my attention with his anti-Christian rock rant correctly noted that this hand sign for Satan is identical to the ASL sign for “I love you.” Predictably, he claims that Christian rock artists are really giving the goat-head devils sign and not signing “I love you,” because rock is bad. Furthermore, he notes that Helen Keller was a Swedenborgian so she must have somehow come up with the “I love you” sign via the power of the Devil, inadvertently causing countless deaf people and [later] Christian rock artists to ignorantly make the Devil’s sign when they mean to say “I love you.”

OK. Breathe. Context determines meaning. If you say, “She’s hot” and you’re checking a thermometer, you’re probably not commenting on how attractive you think she is. The same normative rule of communication applies here. The devil did not sneak the goat-head sign into ASL. It’s more like a a homonym. This guy owes the entire deaf community a great big apology – as does his fan club, who have not had the integrity to rebuke him on this point!

Again, all claims against Christian rock boil down to one thing: trying to misuse Scripture and logical fallacies to confirm one’s own biases against a genre that others are successfully using for the glory of God. Just as Christian rock music from artists like Skillet, Third Day, Thousand Foot Krutch have helped to strengthen my faith and resolve to follow hard after God by the messages in their songs, many other have similar testimonies. Rock is a genre. It is no more inherently evil than country, classical or hymnody. It can be used for good or evil and demonstrably so.

So thank God for Christian rock.

“Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” Psalm 33:3 christian-rock-concert-drums-small-78671

What’s Hell Like?

hells20flames

hells20flames“What’s hell like?” my oldest child asked me, pretty much destroying every cheery thought I’d been having as I drove the road to home.

Kids are full of questions. I answered as simply as I could, which [fortunately] is a habit for me. “It’s a bad place. It’s full of flames, because it’s a place of punishment; a place of darkness, because poeple are eternally separated from God there, and God is light; and it’s a place of sinners, so it would be bad all by itself. All the people who refuse God’s gift of salvation and won’t repent and let God change their ways – all the murderers and thieves and liars and bullies and rapists and all the rest – when, they die, they go to hell for their sins.”

“So it’s like prison?”

I nodded, thinking it was more like prison with no possibility of parole. “Does that sound like the kind of place you’d want to be in?”

He shook his head, then asked a new question. “Are they zombies?”

I smiled. the kid had a point: they do walk around in hell after they die. I can see his confusion. “No, no zombies. Just darkness, flames and sinners.”

“Are they cavemen?”

I laughed. “No, they don’t make the fires. There’s fire all around them, like a burning building.”

“Maybe we can get on the computer and see pictures of hell?” he suggested.

I shuddered, remembering paintings with scenes of devils with pitchforks, anked people being tortured and gaping demon frogmouths stuffed with human limbs. “Yeah… Those pictures aren’t really accurate. People have painted some stuff into them that isn’t exactly right.”

He frowned, disappointed, then brightened. “Maybe we can find a good Bible and look for pictures there?”

Smart kid. Yes, the Bible should always be our soucebook for good information. I told him I’d see what we could do. The subject changed, as it’s wont to do, to his favorite video game.

CS Lewis once said something to the effect that if he could get rid of any doctrine of Christianity, it would be the idea of hell.

Nobody likes the idea of hell and God takes no pleasure in sending people there [the Bible makes that clear in a couple passages; that’s not just my opinion]. Any picture you might have in your head of God grinning sadistically as He tosses people into the fiery pit of hell to be tortured by demonic hosts for eternity… that’s a medeival embellishment; that’s not the Bible.

But even without erroneous notions of vengeful deities and devils with pitchforks, hell is just plain awful.

But necessary.

Our sense of justice [the law written on our hearts] tells us intuitively that Hitler should not get off Scot free for the Holocaust; likewise, we know that sin mst be punished. But hell? An eternity of hell? Is that really fair? Is that justice?

Several good answers have been suggested to this question. In The Great Divorce, CS Lewis tells the tale of sinners who get to visit heaven and they find they are not at all happy there because of their unrepentant nature. He may have been inspired by the last few chapters of Revelations, where the Bible prophesies that after a thousand years of perfect rule and prosperity under Christ Himself [the Millenium], the Devil is released from his chains and manages to get some of us sorry humans to attaempt one last rebellion against God. Crazy, right? Yet would a man who’s heart was still at emnity with God be happy in Heaven? Or would he chafe at the rules and bring sin into Heaven, making as much a hell as Earth? In other words, could Heaven even be Heaven if unrepentant sinners were allowed through its gates? The answer is, of course: no.

Another good response is that an eternity in hell is simply the natural consequence of the choice of rejecting a Creator who is Light, Life, Joy, and Truth; to reject such a being is to embrace its opposite: Darkness, Death, Torment and Error.

But why eternally? Why not just snuff us out? Some have suggested that because we’re made in the image of God that our souls are eternal by nature and cannot be snuffed out. This is certainly possible. I’ve heard several more good responses to this dilemma, but in light of Good Friday, let me suggest something else:

The penalty for a crime, the cost that must be paid, gives us an indication of the weight of our sin. With that in mind, we note that no human effort could ever have paid even our individual sin debts. When Adam sinned, we inherited his spiritual genetics, as it were. We sin because we’re sinners, not the other way round. We cannot help it. If it were possible to live a perfect life before God, he would have said, “Try harder!”

But instead… God sent His only begotten perfect Son to die a cruel and torturous death on the a Roman cross for our sin [Watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or read the Gospels if you need a picture of how awful this was]. For your sin. It took the death of the Christ the Creator to pay the sin-debt of His most beloved creation. That is the weight of your sin. That was the cost that was paid. For those who believe on Him and repent of their sins.

And if you reject God’s offer to freely ransom you and change your heart, you must that awful sin-debt yourself.

But thank God that Jesus willingly died to pay your sin-debt and then rose again to give you the promise of eternal life. If you confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God truly raised him from the dead, you will be saved. He wants to change your life and your eternal destiny today.

The only thing standing in the way is: you.

Why Using the R-Word Says More About You Than A Person With Disabilities

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word day, an annual day of awareness to help folks understand that using the R-word (retard) as an insult is just as offensive as a racial slur. So we need to stop using it.

Let’s face it: A lot of people use the word and don’t think much of the fact that they are taking someone’s mental disability and using it as an insult. I’d wager that most of the people slinging around the R-word even consider themselves quite tolerant of and sensitive to people with special needs… Which is like using the N-word and saying you’re not a racist.

The irony is that the reaction I usually get to politely asking folks to stop using the R-word is anger or condescension. Yes, people actually get mad at me for asking them not to use the R-word. How dare I suggest that what they’re doing is wrong! How dare I be insensitive enough to suggest they’re being insensitive! Some have even suggested that it’s a free speech issue. Yes, we have freedom of speech, which is exactly why I’m free to point out how insensitive R-word abuse is. [You see, that free speech thing goes both ways; you don’t get to drape yourself in the Bill of Rights and expect the other guy to shut up.] Other folks act like I’m making mountains out of molehills, because they don’t think the R-word is such a big deal. It might not be a big deal to you, but to someone who has mental disabilities or someone who loves someone with mental impairments, it’s certainly a big deal. [Besides, if it’s not such a big deal, why not give it up? Why fight over your right to abuse it?] All we’re asking you to do is to respect our wishes. A patronizing attitude towards this issue really says where your heart is when it comes to disabilities.

I’m not a fan of political correctness [and, yes, it is political]. That’s not what this is about. This is about human dignity. This is about respect for others and their beliefs, even if you don’t see the issue as being as important as they do. This about doing for others what you’d have them do for you, even if you have the freedom to do otherwise. Have folks really lost the ability to put themselves into another’s shoes that they can’t see what using someone’s disability as an insult is degrading and offensive to folks with that disability?

When people get angry, offended or condescending with me for my stance on the R-word, they’re focusing on themselves. They don’t like the personal implication that they’re being offensive or intolerant. They don’t like people telling them that what they’re doing is wrong and that they need to stop. They don’t personally think it’s a big deal. What they’re not doing is thinking of the guy or gal with mental disabilities who’s listening to you or some actor on TV using his disability as an insult.

And for the Christians out there [the ones most likely to be offended by even my politest requests to stop abusing the R-word, btw], this self-centered focus is anathema to a Christian walk. More so than others on this planet, we are called to prefer one another over ourselves. That’s in your Book. Today, I’m making a special plea to my fellow believers to stop using the R-word. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that lust was the same thing as adultery. Most believers remember that one; we hear it a lot in sermons. What we don’t remember as much is that in the same breath Jesus said that if hate our brother without a cause or we call our brother a fool or worthless [raca], we’re guilty of murder. Think about that as you consider how Jesus would look at someone using the R-word as an insult; did you just abuse the R-word to call someone a fool?

Maybe this is the first time you’ve thought about it. No worries. Just ask God to forgive you and repent [change your ways]. If it’s a habit, it won’t be easy, but you can do anything with God’s help. And this is a habit that’s worth breaking.

Help Spread the Word to End the Word today. Learn more about what you can do at http://r-word.org.

An Age of Credulity: Two More Drive-By Posts About the Ark Encounter Parrot the Same Old Lies

 You know, I keep hearing that science is about facts and religion is about belief, so why is it that evolutionists cannot seem to get the facts about creationism right? Why don’t they bother to investigate and understand what they so vehemently oppose? Instead they repeat the same half-comprehended [or in some cases, just plain made up] misinformation to each other until they suppose it must be gospel truth.

Recently, columnist Mark Joseph Stern wrote a piece for Slate.com [which was picked up by Fairfax Media] in which he claimed, once again, that the Ark Encounter is being funded with our taxes [not true], that Creationists say that you’ll go to hell if you believe in evolution [pleeeeeeease], and as a value-added bonus that the Creation Museum is apparently on the brink of financial ruin [wishful thinking on his part]!

I really get tired of correcting this kind of credulous garbage, so of course comedian Jim Meyer chimes in with a Grist.org post that repeats the part about the Creation Museum as finiancial Titanic and the Barry Lynn inspired bit about the Ark Encounter being funded out of the state coffers.

Since neither of them had bothered to fact-check their assertions, I left comments on their articles correcting these erroneous claims and went about my day. Out of morbid curiosity, I took a look at Stern’s comments later to see how my comments had been received. Not well, of course. One comment got me. This guy defends Slate’s article by providing links to other “fair and objective” reviews of the Creation Museum… from Vanity Fair, DailyKos and BioLogos, proving that this kid hasn’t the faintest clue what unbiased and objective means.

This got me thinking. In a 2008 blog post entitled, This is the dawining of the Age of Credulity, movie critic Roger Ebert wrote the following:

“We may be leaving an age of irony and entering an age of credulity. In a time of shortened attention spans and instant gratification, trained by web surfing and movies with an average shot length of seconds, we absorb rather than contemplate. We want to gobble all the food on the plate, instead of considering each bite. We accept rather than select.”

Now, as an irony, he wrote that intriguingly insightful paragraph as part of a post in defense of another post called Creationism: Your Questions Answered, a post he wrote because he “hoped to reach readers who were uninformed about Creationism and would find the information interesting. If I had used an obvious slant, readers might have responded according to their pre-existing beliefs. I wanted to fly under the radar. I seem to have been all too successful.”

OK. So he wanted to accurately show what we believed in the hopes that exposure to what we would believe would cause people not fully familiar with said beliefs to re-consider their position regarding acceptance of creationism. He wanted us to look creationism in the eye, see it for what it was and dismiss it as a ridiculous jabberwocky.

Unfortunately, Roger Ebert only ends up evidencing the credulity he so roundly condemns, for he does not quite manage to accurately represent true Creationist positions so much as credulously parrotted straw men positions that no Creationist actually believes.

For example, in answer to the question of how we know the earth is less than 10,000 years old, he quotes Ussher. In truth, no one says Ussher got the dates exactly right, but we do note that if one adds up the genealogies of Genesis and compares it with modern history, we get a universe less than 10,000 years old.

A bigger mistake, oft-repeated by those who credulous parrot what they’ve heard rather than bothering to investigate what creationist really believe for themselves [and “investigating” creationist claims at anti-creationist sites would certainly qualify as credulous], is to conflate the taxonomical concept of a species with the Biblical concept of a created kind [which generally falls at the family taxon]. There are university textbooks that promote this straw man as gospel truth, but no creationist believes that God created all species during the Creation Week as we see them now, anymore than we suppose that Noah needed every species of equine, feline, canine, etc. in the Ark; rather Noah only needed two members of the equine kind, two of the canine kind, etc and these created kinds then displayed a wonderful diversity of expression of their genetic potential, giving us all the species we see today. Furthermore, we do not see CroMagnon man and Neandertal man as distinct creations, but rather as varieties of mankind, as much as human as any other people group.

His assertion that creationists believe that dinosaurs died off in the flood testifies to the fact that he has never seriously investigated creationists beliefs, as does his God-did-it answer to where all the flood waters went. And his answer to how long the Flood lasted… Roger Ebert wasn’t even trying!

The point is that Rogert Ebert, comedian Jim Meyer and colmunist Mark Joseph Stern not only repeat the same credulous lies they’ve heard from evolution-friendly sources, their claims will also be parrotted by other credulous sound byte evolutionists who will suppose they have been given the facts, simply because evolutionists are supposed to be about the facts… and they will be no wiser to the fact that they object to a creationism that never was, that they tilt at windmills of intellectual laziness, that creationists are still standing after they hurl their most devastating attacks at us, in part, because they haven’t been attacking us at all, but simply their credulous straw men understandings of what creationists are supposed to believe… according to evolutionists who are too lazy or credulous to find out otherwise.

Maybe this sorry state of affairs is why Michael Denton has famously admitted that:

“…contrary to what is widely assumed by evolutionary biologists today, it has always been the anti-evolutionists, not the evolutionists, in the scientific community who have stuck rigidly to the facts and adhered to a more strictly empirical approach.” – Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Burnett Books, London, 1985, pp. 353-354.

In the meantime, creationists, be prepared to answer and re-answer the self-same straw men and misunderstandings from evolutionists who really think they know what we believe but don’t.

Examining Tegmark’s “Belief Gap”: 47% of US Population Believes in Creation But Only 11% Belong To A Religion Which Openly Rejects Evolution

Examining Tegmark’s “Belief Gap”: 47% of US Population Believes in Creation But Only 11% Belong To A Religion Which Openly Rejects Evolution

MIT physicist Max Tegmark reported on a survey he conduced with Eugena Lee and Meia Chita-Tegmark, The MIT Survey on Science, Religion, and Origins: the Belief Gap. Although almost half of Americans, 46 percent according to Gallup, believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, only 11 percent belong to a religion that openly rejects evolution.

Of course, Tegmark didn’t bother to define evolution for those he surveyed and this may have skewed the results.

Another problem, concerning Christianity: False minister John Shuck and other liberal clergymen certainly affirm purely naturalistic evolution, but I would wager that most of the people in the pews believe in either creation [old or young] or theistic evolution of some sort, because traditional and authentic Christianity necessarily includes a supernatural Creator God.

At the end of his report, Tegmark concludes “This means that the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science.”

But when we take a closer look at his survey method, we start to realize that he has a major problem: Not all denominations and faith groups have an official statement regarding evolution, creation, the age of the earth or how one ought to interpret the Bible. For example, if we take only the Christian denominations [less Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness cults] from his survey, which accounts for 75.9% of the data [Catholic 23.9, Mainline Protestant 18.1, Evangelical Protestant 26.3, Traditionally African American Churches 6.9 and Orthodox 0.5]], Tegmark lists 10.5% [all Evangelical Protestant traditions] as being in Conflict with evolution and 49.7% [Mostly Catholic and Mainline] as having No Conflict between evolution/Big Bang cosmology and religion. But there is another 27.7% for which he has insufficiant data [no statement]. If we concentrate on just those Christian numbers, 49.7% have belief statements that are not in conflict with evolution and Big Bang cosmology, 13.8% have belief statements affirming traditional Biblical views on creation and Scriptural authority, and 36.5% are black boxes. In other words, he doesn’t have enough data to go on to make ANY conclusion. For all he knows, most if not all of those denominations with no definite faith statement are in support of Biblical Creationism: a very real possibility in light of his 35% “belief gap” between these figures.

Tegmark opines that “The fact that the gap between personal and official beliefs is so large suggests that part of the controversy might be defused by people learning more about their own religious doctrine and the science it endorses, thereby bridging this belief gap.” It seems more likely that his belief gap is due to a flawed methodology [going off official church statements rather than individual survey numbers] and making conclusions off insufficient data. At face value, his suggestion [for fixing the belief gap] is insulting to the thinking man, supposing that folks only need to follow the herd rather than think for themselves. Of course, NOTHING in his data supports his suggestion and other survey data actually contradicts his belief.

The 2008 Mainline Protestant Clergy Voices Survey noted that 44% of Mainline Clergy believe evolution is the best explanation for the origins of life on earth, while a similar numer [43%] do not. Despite an official denominational statement embracing evolution, 53% of Methodist clergy do not believe evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life on Earth. Similarly, 70% of American Baptist clergy do not believe evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life on Earth, despite having an official denominational stance that embraces a diversity of theological beliefs. My point is that official, often politically motivated boiler plate, does not always reflect the opinion of the guy in the pulpit, much less the pew.

src: http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2008-Mainline-Protestant-Clergy-Voices-Survey-Report.pdf

Tegmark’s survey is interesting, but he should have done more research and cross-examined his conclusions in light of other research before publishing such poor [but obviously heartfelt] conclusions.

Question Evolution Day

Question Evolution Day

Microbes-to-man evolution is taught with uncritical authority in our public schools. In the name of being secular (which they erroneously suppose precludes bias or favortism), our students are taught an all-natural history of the universe… and are then told not to question it! As I explained to Zack Kopplin, a student who has fought to insulate evolution from critical inquiry in public schools:

“Geocentrism was widely accepted by scientists in Galileo’s day but skepticism and critical analysis caused it to go the way of phlogiston! By attempting to insulate the theory of microbes-to-man evolution from critical inquiry, you’re actually leaving science and even education far behind. When you insist on presenting fish-to-philosopher evolution in schools in an uncritical, rosy, and one-sided manner, you’re engaging in indoctrination, not education. Instead of teaching science, you’re relating dogma.”

src: http://kcsg.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/zack-kopplins-crusad-to-insulate-microbes-to-man-evolutionism-from-the-self-correcting-mechanisms-of-scientific-inquiry/

Learn more about Question Evolution Day at http://www.piltdownsuperman.com/2012/01/vidoe-question-evolution-day.html