Wednesday, October 31, 2007
McGrath-Hitchens Debate: KUDOS to Hitchens for Getting to the Heart of the Matter; But Incredibly He Simultaneously MISSED the Heart of the Matter!
On ANOTHER LEVEL, it's NOT SO GREAT because this new focus DIVERTS ATTENTION from the greater issues (and ones that we'll eventually come back to)... issues which (in giving credit where credit is due) were brought up by Christopher Hitchens in his debate with Allister McGrath, wherein Hitchens, even if from an adversarial position, summarized the heart of Christianity and the reasons unbelievers not only have a hard time accepting it, but believe it to be the most insulting and harmful thing not only to reason and intellect but to the human species itself.
I MUST give CREDIT to Hitchens... for HE (as he in the debate claims he often does...) presented in an "intelligible" and "pretty clear stated" fashion the ISSUES (not so much in articulating the Christian position - for some of it he got wrong, and some of it he came to wrong conclusions, etc., but overall he not only stated and clarified, but drew attention to what he believed the core of the Christian faith).... the only PROBLEM is he is WRONG when it comes to the CONCLUSIONS he sets forth (...and this for a variety of reasons, which I'll show in a different post, as time permits)
In his opening statement of the debate, Hitchens declares Christianity to be false, irrational, insulting, and harmful for the following reasons (my summary):
1. Christianity's establishment and strength has resulted and depends upon man's ignorance.
2. Christianity's doctrine of vicarious atonement and redemption is immoral and unethical
3. Christianity's rule is totalitarian and brings the greatest burden and shame on our species.
4. Christianity's ethics undermine man's basic integrity
5. Christianity's love is dictatorial (/compulsory)
6. Christianity's message (i.e., revelation of delay & method of God)is immoral.
7. Christianity's message (i.e., "man is blood, mud, etc., but God has a plan for you")is sadomasochism.
The VALUE of such a presentation is that it HIGHLIGHTS not only how far at odds Christianity vs. Atheism/humanism are with one another, but particularly at what points(/issues)they are significantly at odds with one another.
While I give Hitchens credit (even if he arrived at this from an adversarial position), I adamantly disagree with his position and conclusions. In fact, I as a believing Christian, stand 180 degrees out from him on every issue. As the title of the post shows, while he's done us all a favor by drawing attention to the heart of the matter, I posit he has simultaneously missed the heart of the matter! This I intend to show in future posts as time permits.
My confidence in the fact that these issues will ultimately be addressed and debated even though attention seems to have been diverted to the D'Souza-Hitchens relationship, is that HITCHENS HIMSELF will not allow these issues to remain dormant (neither should believers ... for they ARE the HEART not only of the difference, but the HEART OF THE GOSPEL itself, which is the power of God leading to salvation!) Trust me, it's for good, that though Hitchens for a time must divert to deal with matters related to D'Souza and his arguments, in time Hitchens himself will return to these matters, for he rightly believes these to be the crux of the matter.
The reason I don't believe the D'Souza-Hitchens debates will be the end, is that while the more or less purely rational approach which D'Souza himself aims (& claims) to take does lend great opportunities for presenting "convincing" evidences and reasons to believe, in the end, such an approach results in "he said - she said" arguments and leaves one still with the issue and matter of faith. For this reason, I'm confident the debate will ultimately come back to the heart of the gospel itself, which when properly understood, not only displays rational integrity but satisfying solution.
... more to come!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)
While there are several great resources for examining science from a Christian worldview, there are many other well-meaning but fallacious organizations that misuse science in an attempt to prove God by pure naturalism. Science is but one of many areas that can be used to glorify God, but any attempt at evangelism through science alone is doomed to failure, for the following reasons:
1.) The question of the existence of God is not merely a scientific question.
It is a philosophical question (and even this is limited in its effectiveness). Approaching God from a scientific perspective alone will always fall short. While I agree that there are many scientific reasons to believe in God, I am reminded of a quote I heard years ago that continues to ring true. “For the believer, no evidence is necessary. For the non-believer, no amount of evidence will suffice.” While the naturalist will make the claim that he will believe in God if God were to merely show Himself in the heavens, or if God were to perform some supernatural miracle before his eyes, it just isn’t true. Instead, the non-believer will simply insist that there is a natural explanation for these things not yet discovered, and accuse believers of adopting a “god of the gaps” philosophy to explain those things which we otherwise can’t explain.
2.) Scientific evidence ignores the supernatural aspect of believing faith.
While scientific apologetic methods do indeed have their place, they are unfortunately misused and overused, with disastrous results. In fact, most evangelical apologetics today focus solely on scientific arguments (and questionable scientific arguments at that). Between, fallacious scientific arguments and bad soteriology, well-meaning evangelicals have adopted a sort of “Science Evangelism”, which is totally devoid of the life-changing message of the gospel. This misuse of apologetics is a common problem today. However, as we can see from the Scripture above, true faith must come from the Father who is in Heaven. Without this Divine and Supernatural Light, no one will be able to obtain faith. Apologetics may be necessary to “... destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This may pave the way for a presentation of the gospel, but apologetics themselves have no saving power. No one has ever come to Christ by losing a debate, but rather by being born of the Spirit.
3.) Scientific evidence cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.
This is especially true in the eyes of a non-believer. By their standard, science cannot allow supernatural explanations for anything. Consider the following quote from atheist Richard Lewontin.
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” - Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31.
Thus, while we can point to some major scientific problems in the atheistic worldview, these problems alone do not prove the existence of God.
4.) Scientific Apologetics assumes a naturalistic worldview by default.
In scientific debates concerning the existence of God, the theist is automatically on the defensive against the atheist. The scientific approach is left to try and prove a supernatural God by natural means. The atheist, on the other hand, is free from such a task. He is never forced to defend his use of universal, invariant laws. He never has to explain how such laws can exist in a purely material universe. He never has to explain how the human mind, being an accident of biochemistry, is capable of perceiving such laws, or assuming any type of inductive reasoning. While the atheist cannot account for any of these things, the scientific approach already grants them to be true.
5.) Scientific evidence can change.
Just within the past year, we have seen some archaeological discoveries hit the news. First, the Ossuary of James was uncovered to provide powerful support for the accuracy of the Biblical Text. Then, just before Easter, the Tomb of Jesus was allegedly discovered that would have been the death blow to Christianity. As it turned out, both of these were frauds. However, consider what kind of faith a person would have if his beliefs were built on this type of evidence alone. This person would be like the double-minded man in James 1:8, “unstable in all his ways”. A genuine, unwavering faith needs to be given from above, not through debates over vain philosophy and empty deceit
From the Thinking Christian:
Emails have been circulating about an upcoming anti-God movie: The Golden Compass, based on Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials. The facts in these emails check out for a change. Pullman is about "killing God." The fact-checker website Snopes.com says,
"The film is based on Northern Lights (released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass), the first offering in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy of children's books, a series that follows the adventures of a streetwise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God."
The Catholic League video announcement
Review of the book - a must read.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I find the following statements interesting in the article High-End, Anatomically Correct RealDolls Get Exposure in New 'Lars' Film:
"But whereas Lars is delusional and believes the doll is alive, most doll owners "know where to draw the line," McKay says."
"Lars and the Real Girl," an offbeat, surprisingly chaste comedy about a lonely introvert (Ryan Gosling) and Bianca, the silicone object of his affection.
"The dolls 'inspire imagination,' he says. 'You put what you think into the doll, so you're projecting part of yourself onto this inanimate creature and making her seem more lifelike.'"
Conclusion: There's nothing new under the sun! Only more of it and new methods of carrying it out. (Hasn't that been written somewhere?)
Monday, October 22, 2007
My reasoning is that history is continuous and replete with examples of discoveries, crises, debates, responses, changes in the natural realm, calamities, new insights, the rising and falling of nations & kingdoms, etc., all which in their day or time seemed to be so significant (either positively or negatively) but all which in the greater picture have served to advance our experience and progress.
As I skimmed a New York Times article this morning on global warming which referred to changes which might be anticipated depending on changes and developments in regard to global warming... everything from changes in water levels, to consumer prices, to issues confronting businesses, to law suits (from small to massive scale), to things which could cause significant change to the order and way things are now for most people, even things which perhaps could lead to the rise and fall of nations, the need for migrations of now settled and comfortable peoples, etc., the list could go on... I was reminded that (whether or not global warming is true, or to what degree), the Bible both records and reveals changes of this sort (whether real or not) to be the way of history and the way of God's bringing about his sovereign, eternal and redemptive plan.
Just as in past events, while man has incentive and responsibility to study and discern truth and appropriate steps (if necessary, to what degree, in what areas, etc.), everything from history and time, to the bigger picture, to my biblical world view makes me skeptical of the thoughts, madness and even the approach and presentation which suggests that everything depends on man and that man himself is ultimately in control and responsible for our destiny, and thus we must control it or else... you name what might be imagined. For example, fifty years ago global warming was not even on the radar screen of the news much less of most people. In the same way, history shows that unexpected changes in weather affected battles (and their outcomes); new decisions of individuals or groups of rulers affected peace as well as politics; new diseases appeared which shaped not only populations but people groups and economics and politics; etc. While it's true that we have responibility and must deal wisely and prudently given our position and what providence provides, to suggest man is in control and must control our destiny is ludicrous.
Wisdom points to recognizing that in the midst of all that's taking place, something more significant is taking place, and that's the hand of God at work bringing to pass all that he purposes, and within all this, even drawing individuals to himself, who come to see the vanity and foolishness of having thought it to be any other way.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
People believe what they want to believe, much of the time. I don't mean to say that they believe things without any reason, but they believe, oftentimes, without good reason.
Most people will give some reason why they believe something. But an indicator of the fairness of their point of view is how they respond to even-handed, fair criticism of their view and to evidence for an opposing view. Lots of people have reasons for what they believe, but when those reasons are refuted--when they're taken away or weakened by other evidence--do they still stand on their point of view, or are they willing to adjust their view based on the evidence that comes in?
Read the article.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy nebulous "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time.
Observation appears to "nail down" a particular state of reality, in the same way as a spinning coin can only be said to be in a "heads" or "tails" state once it is caught.
According to quantum mechanics, unobserved particles are described by "wave functions" representing a set of multiple "probable" states. When an observer makes a measurement, the particle then settles down into one of these multiple options.
Ok...tie together the 10th Dimension theory and the idea we are in a "reality" that may just be a great big program, then inject quantum mechanics for "probability" based reality and what do you get?
You'd have to be very foolish not to see it...oh, wait a minute...
Some additional reading:
- "A standard of logic that would be considered a psychiatric disorder in other fields, is the accepted norm in quantum theory"
Take a look at this one - my skepticism tells me that he "damns me with faint praise" with his ill-disguised attempt to segregate scientists and believer as if they are mutually exclusive. Sorry, that's not the way it works...
Science can declare the approximate limits of its territorial ambitions and be stronger for it. My dearly missed old friend Stephen Jay Gould framed this possibility beautifully with his proposal for “nonoverlapping magisteria.” I’ll go further and suggest that scientists should not only refrain from ridiculing people who find hope on the other side of the border but should also actively delight in a cacophonous, multicultural colonization of that far frontier so that it can’t be monopolized by fundamentalists. A workable definition of spirituality is “one’s emotional relationship with unanswerable questions.” It’s possible to find joy in them.
Of course, it’s not always easy to do this in practice. Where I live, in the Bay Area, you’re as likely to run into New Age superstition as Christian fundamentalism. In either case, the believer will often take the uncertainty of a big, genuinely mysterious question like consciousness as license to believe in something smaller like astrology, which can be disproved by experiment. Then I end up on the spot, once again telling someone else what not to believe.
The empirical results that influence how we might think about God-as-video-game-player are the successful demonstrations of quantum cryptography, in which a sender and receiver can be assured that no natural observer has eavesdropped on a message. This system works because a component of the message is ruined by quantum effects as soon as it is read. For a god to eavesdrop on a quantum cryptography session and then cover his tracks, would, as it happens, require near omnipotence. When the first quantum cryptography experiments were done, I felt a little relieved and sad at the same time, because we then knew that one kind of potential exotic or supernatural form of life that might have been watching us either did not exist or wasn’t paying attention.
See how the writer limits omnipotence and omniscience with his naturalism!
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Friday, October 19, 2007
1. Children of Abraham Ministries- I know Dr. Bassam Chedid personally. He's an visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at Belhaven College, where he teaches courses on Islam.
2. I've also been told Father Zakaria is an excellent resource regarding differences between Christianity and Islam and that this site is having a significant impact among Muslims. Articles in English, Italian, French and Arabic. While I've just skimmed it's surface, a quick glimpse shows a wealth of material and from my first read looks like good stuff.
I present these for those struggling over these issues as well as those defending the faith in these areas.
But let's examine the claim Hitchens makes and see whether or not it's rational for believers to claim what they know...
Hitchens' argument is that it's arrogance and impossible for believers to claim they know the thoughts, mind and will of God. Is this arrogance and irrational; or is it the truth? Could it be that the answer and truth is so simple, straightforward, and before us all...that even Hitchens' own statement is the ultimate in arrogance and irrationality?
A Simple Illustration. Let's suppose that when a naval aviator is overseas, he sends a letter home for his wife and children (ages 3, 6, 10 and 12) to read. Now, is it impossible for his wife and children (though they do not see him) to know his thoughts, mind and will? The answer is no, absolutely not. It's perfectly rational! In fact, though the three year old may even have to have the letter read to him, and though he may not understand it all or even get it all right when telling others, the truth is... this child can know (though to some extent, but in reality) the mind and will of his Father. How much moreso, the more mature children and the man's own bride!
Now, the question must be asked: Yes, we know that, and we're all familiar with humans, and letter writing and mail, etc., BUT how about from a God who is invisible, of spirit form, etc.? Is it rational to believe in this? ... or Is it pure arrogance?
The answer lies in the nature and attributes of the God under question. If this God is one whose communication, powers, governance, etc., extend ABOVE that of man and human experience, then it's NOT IRRATIONAL at all, NOR would it be ARROGANCE. Does not the Christian faith proclaim a God who is capable of organic inspiration, such that having not only created man but now continues to providentially superintend and makes use of man (along with the rest of all creation) for manifesting and revealing his glory. This is NOT IRRATIONAL, NOR IS IT ARROGANCE. Surely such a God along with his thoughts, mind and will can be known, even with great measure of confidence. And this, along with the fact that God regenerates, and gives life, and eyes with which to see, a letter or word (which in his providence happens to be the most popular and read book in the world) along with his own Holy Spirit as a seal, makes it so simple and plain that "even a child" could see it and know these things without possessing an ounce of arrogance or pride. Isn't it interesting, that the letter and the Spirit that gives life through the knowledge of God and his ways is daily before us all, and even the crux of the matter at hand, and yet it's claimed arrogance to know these very things. It surprises me that Hitchens claim has gone unchallenged for so long, except that by the time he brings it up, he's usually in a monologue mode and proclaiming disdain rather than participating in further debate.
Have readers, though most have not seen me, not come to know my thoughts and mind on this matter now (... and I have only used a keyboard and the net)? How much more then can we know the mind of GOD, to whose mind, intellect, communication, and means, mine do not even begin to compare!
Since men age faster and die earlier than women, these findings suggest that "at the time when current human physiology evolved, perhaps around the late Stone Age, polygynous breeding was the norm," Clutton-Brock told LiveScience. "Of course, this doesn't provide any justification for polygyny or promiscuity now for males."
Needless to say, I am skeptical of this bit of scientific moralizing. If we are simply evolved animals, why worry about whether you live or die young? Particularly if promiscuity or polygyny makes you happy?
Point is, without the Creator writing morality in our hearts - and directly in Scripture - there would be no reasonable purpose for faithful, monogamous marriages.
Good to know that nature supports the Lord's morality, though...imagine that!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The following quotes are taken from here.:
"He told the paper he hoped that everyone was equal, but added: 'people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.'"
"Africans are less intelligent than Westerners,"
"...women should have the right to abort their unborn children if tests could determine they would grow into homosexuals."
Another quote: "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."
Title of one of his books: "Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science."
It's interesting to find who has come to his support in the past:
"Professor Dawkins has previously sprung to Dr Watson's defence after he suggested in a 1997 newspaper interview that a woman should have the right to abort a foetus if it was found to be carrying a "gay" gene. The Oxford academic said Dr Watson was merely speaking in favour of choice for women."
I am watching it now - should be interesting, or, as the person introducing the event said, "entertaining"...we'll see.
From the source:
The Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University hosted a debate ... all » between writer Christopher Hitchens and Oxford University professor Alister McGrath on the role of religious belief in the modern world. The debate was held on October 11, 2007 in Gaston Hall, in Georgetown University's Healy Hall.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"Muslims believe in all Messengers of God and do not differentiate between any of them. Denying the message of any one of them is a deviation from Islam. ...For all of this we base ourselves upon His saying:
The messenger believes in what has been revealed unto him from his Lord as do the believers. Each one believes in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers. We make no distinction between any of His messengers—and they say: 'We hear, and we obey. [Grant us] Your forgiveness, our Lord. Unto You is the journeying,' (2:285)"
...Given Muslims recognize JESUS was a messenger of God, Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me."
Amid the complaints about the cost of defending our nation against it enemies, it’s amazing that our Federal Government can find money to spend on a study of so-called gay DNA..
“The federally funded study, led by Chicago-area researchers, will rely on blood or saliva samples to help scientists search for genetic clues to the origins of homosexuality. Parents and straight brothers also are being recruited.”
So much for the idea that science is apolitical. The proponents of the study admit that it “won't provide a final answer”, yet the very nature of the study suggests an agenda. Head Researcher Dr. Alan Sanders says:
"We do not have a predetermined point we are trying to prove. We are trying to pry some of nature's secrets loose with respect to a fundamental human trait."
Of course Sanders isn’t trying to prove a predetermined point. He merely wants to assert it by suggesting that homosexuality is a “fundamental human trait.”
This underlying “predetermined point” is quite clear throughout the statements of the proponents of the study.
“If fresh evidence is found suggesting genes are involved, perhaps homosexuality will be viewed as no different than other genetic traits like height and hair color” (Julio Cabrera)
"If we confirm that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic, we are much more likely to get the courts to rule against discrimination." (Joel Ginsberg of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.)
So while Dr. Sanders admits that “It is more likely there are several genes that interact with nongenetic factors, including psychological and social influences, to determine sexual orientation”, it is quite clear that there is a predetermined point.
Proponents of the gay DNA theory point to studies involving gay twins as strong evidence.
“One widely cited study in the 1990s found that if one member of a pair of identical twins was gay, the other had a 52 percent chance of being gay. In contrast, the result for pairs of non-twin brothers, was 9 percent. A 2000 study of Australian identical twins found a much lower chance.”
Both studies clearly refute the “gay DNA” theory. If DNA were the primary culprit behind homosexuality, and if one member of a pair of identical twins was gay, we should expect that the other would be gay 100 percent of the time.
My friend, if you are a proponent of such immorality, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the following warning that Paul gave to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
For those who try to defend their sins through vain excuses like “my DNA made me do it” or “my brain made me do it”, and yet think that they will escape God’s wrath, the warning is “Do not be deceived”. However, there is good news, as God provides grace and mercy for even the chief of sinners.
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Monday, October 15, 2007
Obviously, such a defense is nonsense, but I fear it is only a matter of time before we are treated with a plethora of "my brain made me do it" defense efforts in our courtrooms. I was able to point out to several of my friends how such a defense is consistent with the atheistic/evolutionary worldview. Once we have reduced everything to mere genetics and biochemistry, on what basis can we hold anyone responsible for their actions? How can we expect a person with any sort of brain disorder to use "reason" that comes from that disordered brain. If there is no spiritual side of man, then we should expect his brain, consisting of the way it evolved, along with a lifetime of stimuli and experiences that helped shape it, to be the ultimate cause of all his actions. He simply cannot help himself, unless the atheist can account for some part of man that can overcome his own brain.
An atheistic worldview can have no real "law and order", but merely platitudes shaped by either statist tyrants or "mob rule" public opinion polls (the herding instinct). The only real law and order can come from God, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
Here are a few quotes:
"One hundred years ago, interracial marriage and same-sex marriages were illegal in the United States. Interracial marriage has been legal now for 50 years, and same-sex marriage is legal in some parts of the states," Levy said. "There has been this trend in marriage where each partner gets to make their own choice of who they want to be with."
"The question is not if this will happen, but when," Levy said. "I am convinced the answer is much earlier than you think."
Methodology and Marketing)"When and where it'll happen... Levy predicts Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize human-robot marriage. 'Massachusetts is more liberal than most other jurisdictions in the United States and has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage,'"
"Although roboticist Ronald Arkin at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta does not think human-robot marriages will be legal anywhere by 2050, "anything's possible. And just because it's not legal doesn't mean people won't try it," he told LiveScience."
"The main benefit of human-robot marriage could be to make people who otherwise could not get married happier, "people who find it hard to form relationships, because they are extremely shy, or have psychological problems, or are just plain ugly or have unpleasant personalities," Levy said. "
"The possibility of sex with robots could prove a mixed bag for humanity. For instance, robot sex could provide an outlet for criminal sexual urges."
"Keeping a robot for sex could reduce human prostitution and the problems that come with it."
"However, "in a marriage or other relationship, one partner could be jealous or consider it infidelity if the other used a robot," Levy said. "But who knows, maybe some other relationships could welcome a robot."
"The idea of romance between humanity and our artistic and/or mechanical creations dates back to ancient times,..."
"Arkin noted that "if we allow robots to become a part of everyday life and bond with them, we'll have to ask questions about what's going to happen to our social fabric. How will they change humanity and civilization? I don't have any answers, but I think it's something we need to study. There's a real potential for intimacy here, ..."
Thursday, October 11, 2007
CHRISTIAN SKEPTICISM should exist on SEVERAL LEVELS.
1. THE MUSLIM MOTIVE AND MISSIONAL QUEST
While the undiscerning may see this letter as an expression of unity (of love, reaching out, taking the first steps, etc.), one should not fail to understand that the Muslim agenda has not changed but this letter represents it’s active missional pursuit to convert the world to Islam. One needs only to look at the documented negative perception of Islam (Washington Post,N.Y. Times) due to terrorism associated with Islam to understand that world events and press have resulted in significant ways to hinder the advance of Islam, and therefore in order for Muslims to open channels which now stand opposed to or are hindering future Muslim advancement, the Muslim community knows it must act quickly, corporately, visibly, and relationally in order to RESHAPE people's perception of Muslims leading to renewed and greater openness (acceptance/opportunity)in order restore to pave the way not only for future Muslim converts, but future Muslim advancement and desired dominion. What better way to do this than to come together and gain press in the way they are doing with a message that suggests Muslims are for love and peace (note - both opposite recent actions and current perceptions associated with Islam), and to present themselves as the ones in the relationship between Muslims and Christians who are reaching out and initiating steps for unity and peace. This is nothing more than brilliant but deceptive public relations to recast and define their brand perception, though Islam itself remains the same, only more committed and active in pursuing their mision and vision, a vision which seeks to capitalize on the world (along with Christians)being naive.
Make no mistake, this is a strategic missional step taken by Muslims only to further their agenda. One would be remiss to fail to see this action apart from the spiritual battle (and real battles) that God makes known in and through his word, in which he instructs his people to be wise and alert.
2. THE MUSLIM HERMENEUTIC AND ARGUMENT
The Muslim letter suggests that Christians and Muslims worship the same God and serve common principles. (Note: One should always be suspicious when those of another faith want to interpret your own text for you!)
In regard to worshipping the same God, several things can be said. First, there’s a difference between two faiths who share in the belief and practice of monotheism (the worship of one God), and two faiths who share in the SAME God. It’s the difference between suggesting that just because two men are married to one woman each…that the two men are married to the same woman. The truth is that Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible. While Muslims and Christians both agree that there is one sovereign creator God over the universe, we disagree as to who that one God is. Sadly, while many today might suggest that it’s only a matter of semantics, or of calling God by a different name, or gaining knowledge of him through a different tradition and/or text, that’s not the case. It’s the difference between worshipping the true God as he has revealed himself and not only made himself known but provided the singular means and mediator by which he can be known (Jesus Christ), and worshipping the figment of one’s imagination (or Mohammed’s imagination). For example, The Scripture tells us that “…God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That is, the glory of God is found in Christ, because Jesus himself “IS” God. Yet, just as the Pharisees who looked at Christ and yet claimed to know both who he was and to know God the Father, failed to know and come to the Father because they failed to know who Jesus was, and thus they worshipped one other than the Father, even denying the Father who was in and revealed himself through Christ. The difference between the Muslim and Christian God is found that in the former one finds a God who must be slavishly served in order to earn salvation, while in the later one finds a merciful, compassionate and loving God who has provided the way of salvation for those who could not merit it themselves and is to be served in response and in keeping with the salvation already received. In the former, one finds a God who demands his people spill the blood of others in order advance his kingdom, while in the latter one finds a God who has laid down his own life in order that his kingdom might reign through others. These are not one in the same. They are antithetical to one another and should not be mistaken as one. Muslims deny the trinity (and strip God of his identity). Muslims deny the sonship and deity of Christ. Muslims deny God as a redeemer. Suggesting the Muslim god and the Christian God are the same God is only to try to pull the wool over people's eyes.
In regard to the keeping of the commandments, several differences must be noted: First, as stated above, the object of the first commandment is different. Christians love “God” who is the legitimate object of love, in that everything in him from his being, to his revelation, to his works, to his sacrifice, to his commands, etc., are lovely. Muslims, however, worship a task master, even if an imagined one, whose attributes and ways are other than lovely. Second, the motive is different. Christians love God because he first loved us, whereas the motive of Muslims is different in that they must seek to first show love in order to merit and receive the God’s love. This is the difference between idolatry and divinity. Third, because there's a difference between the God of Christianity who is love and the god of Muslims which is a hater of unbelievers and wants to destroy them, a different result is found in the followers of God: the result for Christians of being loved and coming to know the love of God is to love one another and even love one's enemies; whereas the result for Muslims whose god hates and delights in destruction is not only to hate one's enemies but also to display hatred and fighting among one another as evidenced between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Finally, love for one’s neighbor means something different in that as Christians we not only possess a different source and motivation of love for our neighbors, but we are even called to love our enemies. (Compare this with the treatment in Muslim nations of those who because they are not Muslims are considered "enemies of Islam". Consider also the following verses:
Surah 5:73 "The unbelievers are those who say God is one of three. There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished."
Surah 8:39 "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion[Islam] shall reign supreme."
Surah 5:51 "O' you who believe take not the Jews and the Chrristian for your friends and protectors. They are friend and protectors to each other."
Surah 4:81 "Seize them, slay them whereever you find them. In any case take no friend or helper from their ranks."
Surah 5:14 "From those to who call themselves Christian, we did take a covenant but they forgot a good part of the message that was said to them. So we estranged them with enmity and hatred between one and the other to the day of judgment and soo will Allah show them what they have done."
Surah 4:101 "...for the unbelievers are unto you open enemies"
Surah 5:29 "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day."
Surah 2:190 "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you..."
Hadith 9:57 "Whoever changed his Islamic religion,then kill him."
III. THE MUSLIM SUGGESTION
The Muslin suggestion that Jesus by stating in Mark 9:40 that “for whoever is not against us is for us” suggests that Christians should be for Muslims is no less of a half truth and deceit as when Satan sought to deceive Eve by saying “Did God really say you cannot eat…?” While Jesus’ statement remains true, it’s also true that Muslims fundamentally stand in opposition to Christ and his kingdom. While there may be points of commonality and agreement concerning issues within the present life, that’s far different than suggesting the two faiths walk hand in hand and are on the same team. Muslims are not “for us”, but rather for the very spiritual kingdom which stands opposed to us.
IV. THE MUSLIM METHODOLOGY
As Muslims themselves confess, their belief is that it’s okay to deal dishonestly and deceitfully with others if one does so with the interest of Allah’s kingdom in mind. This means that suggesting that the two faiths worship the same God even if in fact they don’t (Muslims don’t believe we do either!) is okay in the eyes of Muslims if in the end it serves to open the door for Muslim advancement.
Additionally, the tactic of asserting that Muslims are open to better relations with Christians as long as we don’t “drive them out of their homes.” is nothing more than to remove the spotlight now on the Muslim community and to try to cast suspicion upon the Christian community.
V. THE MUSLIM ASSERTION
The Muslim letter makes the claim that “The "survival of the world" is at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other…” While on one level, it’s true that situations in the world are affected by the relations and actions of men, on another level it’s also true that the survival of the world depends ultimately upon God who will sustain the world until the salvation of all the elect and certainly does not require peace between Muslims and Christians to bring this about. While again, it’s true on one level that Christians has join with Muslims and others in taking steps for various levels of peace in the world, that’s far different that to suggest (and/or manipulate) Christians into thinking peace must be made with Muslims for the sake of the world’s survival, all the while this tactic is simply being used to advance Islam.
Additionally, it must be pointed out that "Our eternal souls are at stake" but in a different way than the Muslims suggest. The souls of believers rest eternally secure in Christ regardless of what transpires regarding relationships or weapons on earth. While Muslims may need to look to their efforts here as part of the means of meriting eternal salvation and reward, this is not case for believers. Having already found life and peace with God, we seek peace here in living out the life of
God, not to secure it. Certainly, denying differences between Muslims and Christians is not necessary unto the eternal peace and rest of our souls.
VI. THE MUSLIM RESPONSE
While the Muslim letter suggests Muslims are for peace and even for Christianity, if history and Islamic tradition (which states that Muslims before attacking others must first warn and reach out to their enemies, and which shows that Muslims engage in "hit and run" tactics only to "hit again" until they control) is prophetic of the future, this wide scale corporate "reaching out" (especially if/when rejected) could lead to some of the greatest disunity and terror/fighting the world has seen (on the part of Muslims). For this reason, perhaps the best response of Christian leaders is to simply draw attention to the need of Muslims to use such a letter to try to recast their perception, and point out why there not common ground in the areas Muslims are asserting and leave it at that. This we can be sure of though, skepticism is in order regarding whether when rejected Muslims are seen to display the love and peace they now not only propose to submit to but hold out as their committed intention.
While MUCH more could be written, and I trust will by leaders within the Christian community, hopefully this writing will draw attention by believers to the fact that there’s more to the Muslim letter than what many in the populace will see in it. Forget not that there’s a spiritual battle and those of this world are clever and crafty in the ways of the world; and yet God is not caught off guard. He knows all, takes all into account, and even uses it all for the sake of bringing the gospel to his people and bringing about the kingdom of his Son!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
LEGALISM and LICENTIOUSNESS in Chavez' Humanism
"The president has a long list of other "New Man" recommendations: Don't douse foods with too much hot sauce, exercise regularly, eat low-cholesterol foods, respect speed limits. He also wants parents to stop buying Barbie dolls -- and breast jobs -- for their daughters."
"On Monday, tax agency chief Jose Vielma Mora said the government is tightening restrictions on granting dollars to companies importing liquor, especially whisky."
"All of his sermonizing about vices and virtues might make Chavez seem like a prudish sourpuss to some..."
"As a former tank squadron leader, Chavez also enjoys getting behind the wheel of a Venezuelan-made Tiuna jeep, which he did in August...But he says he has no interest in Hummers or other material belongings.
HYPOCRISY in Chavez' Humanism
"I really don't drink. Occasionally I smoke a cigarette, but I'll never do it in public because it's a bad example...It's very sporadic...I did it..."
"Naturally, Venezuelans are watching Chavez to see what kind of an example he sets. The former paratroop commander says he steers clear of alcohol, and would never smoke in public."
"Anyone wanting to booze up can do so in the privacy of their own homes, he said."
JUDGMENTALISM in Chavez' Humanism
"Chavez ... complains that many Venezuelans' values are not up to par."
"It's all part of Chavez's efforts to encourage Venequelans to adopt the psyche of the 'New Man,' a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose."
GROUND-LESS STANDARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in Chavez' Humanism
"Chavez often cites the life of Cuba's iconic hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara as an ideal example..."
THINK ABOUT all this when you read Chavez' final statement: "Society would benefit from socialist values,..."
There is a memory that I have that still conjures a sense of magic in my mind. Forty-seven years ago, I accompanied my grandmother into a men's clothing store in Claremont, NH. This was the big city, filled with shops and stores and fancy dressed shop keepers who greeted customers with broad smiles. This particular men's clothing store, however, had something no other store in the area could boast; as you approached the entrance a small black circle at the top of a shiny silver post saw our arrival and an invisible doorman opened the door for us. Obviously the rest of the store was incredibly boring to a four year old but this 'magic eye' captured and held my attention. What did it see when it looked at me? Did it know I was four years old? Did it see both me and my grandmother? Did it remember me from my last trip to the city?
Jump ahead nearly twenty years and my curiosity about God's creation had led me to books on astronomy, theoretical physics and astrophysics. I enjoyed reading the biography of one of my heroes and Nobel prize winner, Dr. Einstein and of his many contributions to physics on both an atomic and galactic scale. I was shocked to discover that Dr. Einstein did not win his Nobel prize for the General or Special Theories of Relativity as one might assume. Amazingly, he was awarded the coveted prize for explaining the photo-electric effect. That's right, Dr. Einstein knew how and what the magic eye from the men's clothing store saw and was able to explain it. Please understand, Dr. Einstein did not invent the photo-electric effect, that was done by other scientists, but he was able to explain the effect and the explanation was of such value that it won the highest recognition of a grateful world.
I was reminded of these events just this week as the winners of this years Nobel prizes were announced. Picking winners is a daunting task for the Nobel committee because the winners must be folks whose contributions have historical significance BUT they must be alive. The Nobel is never awarded to a dead person. The latest winner, as of this writing, is Gerhard Ertl of Germany. He has won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for being able to explain chemical processes on solid surfaces.
Dr. Ertl can explain how catalysts in automobiles work, how fuel cells function and why iron rusts. Let me point out again that Dr. Ertl did not invent the catalytic converter or fuel cells or rust. His gift to science is his ability to explain the process. This is a pattern you will find over and over amongst the winners picked by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
The Nobel prize is really a measure of mankind's value on explanation. This value tells us something about how conventional knowledge is accepted and perpetuated. If we would reward a man with 1.5 million dollars because he can explain why rust happens, imagine what an explanation of the beginning of life would be worth. How valuable would an explanation of evil be, or of man's inhumanity toward man?
The reason that explanation is so valuable is because apart from the explanation science is merely trial and error. That's right, the photo-electric effect was discovered through trial and error. Chemical processes on solid surfaces were discovered through trial and error as were MOST of the great discoveries of science. What is of greater value than the discovery is the explanation of the mechanics involved and the significance of the event. Until the explanation is revealed the event remains an ACCIDENT and no scientist can ever be content with an accident, or can he?
If ones worldview is a rejection of theism, a rebellion against the Sovereign God of Scripture than not only will the accidental be tolerated but it will be advanced and protected politically. Never mind that the mechanism for evolution, natural selection and mutation, cannot be demonstrated and it's irrational. Science is strangely content to avoid a Biblical explanation for life and it's non material aspects even in theory; in the case of evolution science is at BLISS with accident.
The Bible is rejected, why? The Bible is a book of revelation, a book of information and most significantly to the scientist, a book of explanation. Why will these doctors who place so much value on the explanation of an invisible doorman reject the explanation of invisible good and invisible evil, of non-corporal information and the invisible workings of providence? The reason is clear, if God is in the equation then all mankind is responsible to Him. If God is the explanation then all have sinned and fall short of his glory. If God is creator, then man is a creature and must step down from his throne built on trial and error.
When the evolutionist turns his back on explanation in favor of accident, he proves that his only motivation is a rejection of the Creator.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
"German researchers have demonstrated chimpanzees make choices that protect their self-interest more consistently than do humans."
Chimps choose more rationally than humans
Aren't these guys supposed to be smart? I think most grade school children could have reached this conclusion. I wonder how much money this research demanded.
Note also the definition of "rational".
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
While the argument for incredulity has been made repeatedly ...,
(I was reminded on my walk this morning) isn't it true that as far as man is able to look in the sky, with all our telescopes and sophisticated equipment, that though we detect stars and galaxies far away, in fact far, far, far away, we cannot see the end, nor even come to suspect we will ever find an end...And it all works and fits together with such intricacy and laws and relationships, etc.... and "no such evidence exists."
When I read about things in the other direction, about the DNA and the components that form it, and our trying to figure out why these things do what they do, and so forth, and then there's the question of what's even smaller and what's at work beyond what we're able to observe and understand today, and the question that's always lying beyond these questions as to why do they do what they do and where do they come from and what causes them to do what they do, and where does it all point back to? Man continues to search, and grow, and understand, and then there's more, and we grow more only to find more, so we continue to search and grow and see, and then there's more and more and more, and then even more... and yet "no evidence exists."
Certainly, those make a point who suggest that if a God exists who can do all this, then surely he could manifest himself in such a form that we would all yell "eureka, it's true" and all bow down before him. Yet, shouldn't man consider that if this being with such infinite wisdom, power, and authority also possesses infinite holiness, judgment and wrath; then short of his possessing and exerting infinite patience, love and commitment, it would not be to our advantage for him to show his infinite being, justice and rule until such time as his wrath could be appeased and his righteous demands satisfied, even to the end that redemption itself is accomplished, to which revelation which both communicated and interpreted that redemption would prove not only helpful and beneficial but necessary and desirable. It's no small wonder this is exactly the message revealed in the holy Scripture (regardless of what others may proclaim or put their hope in).
It's not always wise, especially when dealing with the realm of existence or intentions, to assume that "just because one could do something but hasn't" suggests (or proves) that one does not exist, or intends to do so at a later point. Sometimes, as is the case with God, it behooves people to ask a few more questions, before claiming superior intellect and incomparable standing on such a matter.
It reminds me of the experience of my son yesterday, who after we stopped at a light adjacent to a graveyard and I made the remark "it looks like someone was buried recently" looked in the direction of the graveyard and kept asking "Where", "Where, Dad?", "Where", to which I responded "there under the fresh mound of dirt with the flowers placed on it." If only he had known what he was looking for, he would not have responded as if "no evidence exists."
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