Sunday, December 30, 2007

Read the Bible in 90 Days or 1 Year - handy tool :)

Updated 7-23-2008: I have adapted the sheet for a 90 day or 1 year read through by quarter.
Click here for the full sheet with links columns.

Updated: I stalled out, but am committed to finish it up!

Here is my tracking sheet on GoogleDocs - adapted from here:

Here is the discussion thread on Puritanboard.

One of the team members developed an iCal version that can be imported into Google Calendar:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa vs. Christ - Reasons to Believe

Here is a "re-post" from my home blog - I repeat it around this time every year - Blessings!

This was the Original Post (OP) in a thread on the Internet Infidels Atheist discussion forum - I thought this was worth capturing.

Rational reasons to believe in Christianity by BadBadBad

I was hoping that in this thread we could capture any rational reasons for believing in the Christian religion. Angela2 prompted this thread. She criticized athiests for "espousing atheism" for emotional reasons. I corrected her that for me anyway it's not promoting atheism, but criticizing religion. I do that for emotional and rational reasons. Yet I have yet to hear a single rational reason for believing in Christianity. So, hopefully we'll be able to sort through the best ones here and sort out emotion from rationality.

Let's have the rational reasons for believing the Christian story as presented in the Bible.

I replied that experience was one reason.

The poster replied that this rationale could be used to support belief in Santa.

I replied that experience was one factor of several - including observation, reason and historicity.

Which led to another poster's reply to me:

Just by repeating "experience, observation, reason and historicity"? It makes for a good mantra, I suppose. I especially liked how you managed to rule out santa. You simply asserted the truth is revealed & santa isn't. You must find it easy to defend assertions by making more assertions.

my response -

hm - perhaps you did not understand how these factors would apply:

As a child I experienced both God and Santa.

God promised through Scripture the gifts of eternal life with Him through faith in Christ and the fruit
of the Holy Spirit in this life.

Santa promised toys if I was a good boy.

As I matured, I began to realize through reason and observation that Santa was a myth developed over time - based on the works of the historical real person, St. Nicholas - and that the toys I was receiving were given by my parents - and my behavior did not really impact the receipt of toys - so my experience with Santa was shown as a childish fantasy.

On the other hand - as I matured, I began to realize that through reason and observation the Universe was not a product of chance and that Scripture was a consistent and reliable guide to faith and practice - that Christ was indeed a historical figure and that the witnesses and accounts of Christ were too near the time of his appearance on earth to be myth - and I more and more began to exhibit the characteristics of the fruits of the Spirit, despite the drive of my nature to the contrary.

All these things helped me understand the nature of my salvation, served as validation of my experience and my rationale supporting my belief in God.

I hope that is a little clearer.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

The New Atheism examined by the Free Church of Scotland's "The Monthly Record"

The whole publication available here.

As a former Anglican cleric whose faith was gradually whittled away by form-criticism, the philosophy of David Hume and the apparent success of science in explaining everything without reference to a Creator, and as one who spent nearly twenty years as an atheist including a brief spell as President of the National Secular Society, I was forced to re-examine the basis of my atheism, not least by the strident and increasingly unreasonable pronouncements of Richard Dawkins in his three most recent books....

A long correspondence with Tom Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, led me also to reconsider the historical basis of Christian claims, in particular the resurrection of Jesus. And philosophers like the atheist John Earman, the Jesuit Thomas Spitzer, and Reformed Christians like JP Moreland, William Lane Craig and Paul Copan helped me break the power that Hume had exercised over my thinking for far too long. With the blinkers of unbelief thus removed, it was possible at last to re-evaluate my own past experience, and re-embrace (with greater understanding) the Christian faith.

Modern cosmology, in the light of Edwin Hubble’s work, and that of his recent successors, including Roger Penrose, Paul Davies, Frank Tippler and Stephen Hawking, forces us to reconsider the need for a doctrine of creation. And historical evidence for the resurrection forces us – if we are honest - to abandon the doctrinaire veto on miracles imposed by Hume and his successors, such as Russell, Ayer and Flew. Interestingly, Antony Flew’s recent abandonment of atheism was another spur to re-examine issues that I had once prematurely considered done and dusted.

So I rejoice that I can again acknowledge that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’, and that, being surrounded by ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’, it is our duty and our joy to follow him with grateful and penitent hearts, praying all the while: “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Bible and Commonalities to Mythological "Stories"

Reading this thread over on the PuritanBoard:

What would you say to a person who claims that many stories in the bible are just particular versions of "generic myths" that turn up in mythology or legend all over the Mediterranean?


There are other examples from Roman lore, such as the story of the false king of Latium who tried to kill Romulus and Remus, the true heirs to the throne (Herod and Jesus). They were put in a basket and sent down the river Tiber to die but eventually found in the reeds (Moses) by a shepherd.

How should I respond to someone who uses such stories to discredit the bible?

Which elicited this excellent response from the Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan:

You could start by asking the person positing the "objection" to formulate his objection precisely, so that it can be analyzed.

For instance, is the objector willing to say, "Ancient Lit. is full of similar sounding stories; stories that are similar (in one respect? two?) are obviously fictitious; ergo, Christianity is false." Is this real argumentation?

Clearly, this is fallacious argumentation. It is admittedly simplistic, however, I do not think it is too far from the level of reasoning of most people who are positing this "objection." Demand that they demonstrate the level of sophistication of their argument, because just trotting out "similarities" is no argument.

Virtually any event of modern history can find an analogue in contemporary (or even older) fiction.

So, by your opponent's logic, are these modern events fiction? The same could be said of events accepted as historically accurate reports from ancient history...Just because there are similar statements, etc., found in mythology, does that necessitate that the specific event under consideration (the biblical one) is also fiction?

Furthermore, the 19th and early 20th century's chronological arrogance is today being questioned by linguists, anthropologists, and other scientists. Secular scientists are studying "mythologies", and especially common threads in those stories, as potential stores of real-world information. I don't say this simply as 'validation' of mythology, but to point out that it is extraordinarily naive to dismiss as "fiction" even a single extant tale--garbled, or cobbled together from other ancient sources--without any evidence of having delved into the whole subject of ancient literature.

It was C.S. Lewis who, as a recognizable expert in antiquarian literature, mocked the average biblical critic of his day for being evidently unable to tell the difference between forms of ancient literature, but nonetheless proudly taking it upon themselves to compare biblical literature to other material which also they had not studied.

Or how about this: Abe Linclon was POTUS, and shot by a lone gunman, and fled from a theater. JFK was POTUS, and shot by a lone gunman (please, its just the story guys), who was spotted later in a theater from which he fled. Both assassins died before they were brought to trial! Obviously this is all just American mythology, made up to create veneration for our slain presidents, right? Because as EVERYONE KNOWS, Americans love a good DRAMA!

Archbishop of Canterbury's Comments on Nativity

No one denies differences in some of the details between what has come to be known and recognized as the modern nativity and what actually occurred in Bethelem at the time of Christ's birth. Not only is it common in art for various elements of a certain story or occurance to be brought together but it's also not uncommon for some details to be added or distorted over time and tradition. However, that does not deny either the existence, reality or events of the actual occurance.

For example, while some may think of three wise men, the Bible no where suggests that the number was three, but rather says that three gifts were presented (gold, frankincense, and myrrh). While in the current nativity, the number of wise men is often represented as three, that does not deny the presence of those who came from the east to visit the Christchild. Similar points can be made concerning all the rest of the details the media is perhaps trying to hype. It would be like suggesting that just because some details in pictures of George Washington differ from picture to picture, then George Washington and the things he did ... did not occur. Surely, anyone with common sense can understand the issues here.

Islam's New Challenge

Muslims now face a significant challenge which has become obvious to all ...
a struggle that's being publicized worldwide on the "smiling faces" of Islamic women who violate the teachings of Sharia law in wearing western style dress, and a struggle that reveals significant division within the camp as a leader known worldwide such as Ghadaffi has chosen (as it has fit his needs) to flaunt such opposition publicly.

The challenge, while on one level dealing more with secular and cultural issues such as whether it's okay to wear lipstick, make-up, to dress in western clothing, etc., actually strikes at the root of religion, the standards of righteousness(and how one obtains righeousness), as well as the claims and necessities of following Islamic law.

The challenge is going to be exacerbated with time as more and more Muslims are exposed not only to the freedoms and free thinking in the west, but also to the sins and abuses of many in the west, for not only will there be those who see a difference in the freedoms and righteousness defined by the gospel, but there will also be those who are drawn by the sinful nature toward new ways of expressing rebellion and licentiousness.

This we know, that with the rising generations, and especially among teenagers and college students who naturally are inquisitive and seek to find answers for themselves, the legalism found in both the doctrines and practices of Islam will present a challenge to those who in being exposed to the rest of the world see the smiles, meet the people, and see the difference in those who believe that righteousness is not dependent upon a specific form of dress. This battle was seen recently in the case of the father who killed his teenage daughter who wanted to dress in western style and now rises to a new level through the press associated with Ghadaffi's bodyguards.

We can expect that while the number of Muslims has been what it has, in coming years there will be many who due to lack of exposure and heavy cultural influence of the past have been counted among the Muslim community though they may not have truly been Muslim at heart, who especially with differences found between the teaching of Muslims in the West with that of more traditional Muslims, will begin with Modernity to separate themselves from the more tradional teaching of Islam and Sharia Law, if not from Islam itself. Such is the path of modernity.

The good news is this will result in more splintering and disunity within the Muslim communities and any efforts to stop it will only escalate the differences. This is a plus not only for the world, but for Christianity as well, as we can point not only to the contradictions within the Muslim community but also raise the question of the binding nature of Islamic teaching and law, and more importantly point Muslims to the righteousness that comes from above (Romans 3), that is not dependent upon a scarf one wears, but upon the sacrifice God accepts and the gift (of righteousness) he provides.

Don't be fooled though. Such division will not stop Muslim fundamentalists, but only fuel them more... for when one bases their righteousness on what they do, they must defend that righteousness at all costs.

Art, Faith, and the Gospel

I recently viewed the exhibition entitled "God and Man: Angels in Italian Art" at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Of interest was a bronze sculpture entitled "Single Winged Angel" by Sandro Chia featuring a single winged angel looking toward the heavens. There have been two explanations given for the sculpture.

First, at the museum, the audio tape given to viewers described the artwork as an representing the quest and longing of man to hear and know if God exists. It was described as a single winged angel demonstrating it could not fly, with it's feet firmly planted on the ground, looking up as if it were waiting and continuing to wait, not receiving an answer but perhaps asking the question "God, if you are really there, can we know you and how can we be sure?" And it continues to wait as if waiting for an answer, all the while holding out what's most precious to him, his own heart. What made this more striking was the explanation that artwork such as this one, made in 2000, was no longer being made for the church, but for society, in order to get man to think. Here, the explanation of the sculpture deals with man's quest to know God, and struggle for answers and assurance, even depicted by the dark bronze and the continuing to wait.

The second explanation is found in a description of a display which includes this work which suggests the three works (Triumph of Reason (painting, 2003), Table Flanked by Two Angels (iron statue, 2003), and a sculpture of a single-winged bronze angel raising a golden heart to the sky) signify that "freedom may only be achieved by mankind through unity and solidarity."

In either case, the message though it may accurately describe the thinking of many, is incorrect, as exhibited even through the events and message of Christmas. First, man is not left in a quandry, nor is he left simply to stare up into the heavens. Does not the Scripture state "But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." The righteous will live by faith, not by sight. The truth is God has revealed himself through his word, both physically in the incarnation but verbally through the inspired word as he speaks a living word even today. Don't simply stare off into space like a single winged angel, but look to the Son (Jesus Christ) through whom God has parted the heavens and come down, that we might possess the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins, and soar on wings like eagle, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.

In the second case the prophet Isaiah has shown that man's freedom and hope cannot be achieved even through man's unity and solidarity (Isaiah 11). In describing the hope of mankind, the Messiah who was to come, the prophet speaks of both the special anointing and unique abilities needed by one who would govern and provide in such a way as to bring true and lasting righteousness and peace. In stating the "the Spirit OF THE LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord", he shows that righteousness and peace cannot and will not be achieved by even the best of mankind, but a supernatural gift, even that of the Spirit himself is needed to bring about the revealed hope. This is seen more clearly when the prophet states concerning the Messiah that "He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth." Man, even when doing his best, can only judge and govern based on externals, but Christ is not limited to the external but bases his judgments on truth. Indeed "Rightgeousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist." "He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips will he slay the wicked." The point is that not only does man not possess himself a "golden heart" to present to the Lord, nor will mankind as a whole ever achieve this, nor would the best we have to offer be presentable and acceptable to God, but God himself must provide in order for the hope to be accomplished, which he has done, and is doing, and will continue to bring to completion and consumation through the spirutal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which began small but continues to grow without end.

We can give thanks to artists such as Sandro Chia for raising the questions for man to think about, but as we enter into the Christmas season, we much understand that the answers are found only in God!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Evolutionist "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

In an article at OneNewsNow, in a post entitled "Lawsuit argues expert biologist fired for refusing to believe in evolution", it's stated that "The Christian Law Association will be defending a biologist who it claims was fired from a prestigious institution because he believed in creation."

Of interest in the article is the following: "And what the scientific community seems to be saying to creationists or [those who hold to] intelligent design is if you're going to hold that belief, keep it in the closet -- hide it," says Gibbs. "[They are saying] if you let someone know that you hold that belief, we will indeed, in this case, shun you, terminate you, punish you for having that religious belief."

In the evolutionist world, it's not immorality but truth and independent thinking that's legislated against.

Science and the Ultimate Hope

We live in a unique time and yet simultaneously at a time that's not so unique.

I'm grateful for the Web and for science and for the deeper and more informed levels of exposure and communication man is able to have now. Yet, as I stop and reflect on where all this has taken us, it's clear that while the advancements that have been made by humanity are great, and the matters that we now consider are greater than in times past; we find the ultimate questions, the ultimate concerns, the ultimate issues, the ultimate problems, and the ultimate sources man can look to for hope and rest have not changed.

Consider that in centuries past, while man's struggles may have been to put food on the table and whether it was going to rain or not, or what a war or a nuclear weapon might do,etc. (through which man came to understand his weakness and vulnerability), though we now know of things like the "death star galaxy" and discuss issues like global warming (and what a 2.4-6.4 degree increase in mean temperature might mean to our world) and superhurricanes and think about how tampering with hurricanes will have affect on other things environmentally, and otherwise; ...are not the questions and ultimate issues the same regardless of the progress we make and the discoveries we find? Be it in centuries past, or in the present, and I confidently suspect the same in the future, the questions will be of the nature - "Is man and his advancements such that we should think we are in control and will be in control?", ...OR "Does not the more that we learn and are exposed to remind us of how small, fragile and susceptible we really are? (... that we in one sense are literally "hanging by a thread")" (The biblical position I believe puts it best when it suggests we are both small and fragile and yet our quests and dominion are meaningful and important)

Another matter of interest is that though today we continue to discover more and more about the universe and it's intricacies and how these things could or do relate to humanity and our security and future existence, it's not that these same issues were not present in centuries past, though the people did not even know of them or give them consideration. Just think how much more is out there in the way of knowledge and reality that we do not know of, but are just as real and applicable.

It strikes me that those today who put their ultimate hope in science have failed to see that greater discoveries in science, while on the one hand may result in some puffing themselves up and thinking how great and powerful and almighty man is, also simultantaneously continue to show us how small, fragile and susceptible man both is and continues to be.

As I think of the illustration of man "hanging by a thread" (though I realize at the same time we're perfectly stable according to and to the extent of the promises and providence of God); I'm reminded of another who has pointed out that it's as if man is hanging by a thread ... Jonathan Edwards and his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"... a sermon worth reading and considering by all! Perhaps, some in considering that science and advancement, while useful, also exposes how vulnerable man is physically, might also consider and take to heart this same truth on a spiritual level. Be it physically, or spiritually, our hope, foundation and security rests only in Christ.

Science and the Search for Answers Apart from God (Vanity of Vanities)

Qoheleth once said of God "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Eccl 3:11)

Dennis Overbye's article Laws of Nature, Source Unknown has generated a great deal of interest and comment.

It's interesting that with all the knowledge, experience and science of men, man - while he recognizes law and order in the universe, has not been and is not able to discover the source of law.

Not surprising that man finds himself not only with circular reasoning but in a circular bind in trying to explain law apart from God. (law from no law... but that's still a law; laws emerging "higgledy-piggledy" from primordial chaos... so that scientists should be looking "not so much for the ultimate law as for the ultimate program" ... but where did the program come from and who's the programmer, etc.)

But at the same time, isn't the acknowledgement that science must presuppose order even to do what it does interesting? Here again, one must at least borrow from (or assume the truth of) the biblical position not only to make sense of the universe but even to suggest and study a universe that makes sense.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Atheist God Judged and Usurped by Another Atheist God

Fox News reports an email of a teenage member of the Church of Satan was turned over to the FBI by one of the church's leaders because the teenager wrote in the email he intended "to kill his grandparents and steal their money and car"... and that he had access to an arsenal of weapons and wanted to "kill in the name of our unholy lord Satan."

Whether the teenager's present claim now that "it was a joke" is true or not I'm not sure, but what I find interesting are the statements found at the end of the article - "Gilmore said members of his group are atheists who believe Satan is a symbol of freedom, not evil. "To the Satanist, he is his own God," reads a statement on the group's Web site from Gilmore."

Question: If each Satanist (in their account "Atheist") is his own God, then why did one of them have his desire (/will/power/rights/etc.) stripped by another one? [i.e., the God who led the church prevented the God who was a member from carrying out his wishes... or at least the law enforcement did]

Seems atheists here are using god with a lower case "g", or atheism has some things in common with henotheism or monarchial polytheism. But isn't this a beautiful illustration of the way it is with atheists? It's not that they don't worship anything... they all want to worship themselves and each be their own g/God and have it their own way; the only problem is when another g/God trumps them in authority or power, and then they learn they are not the g/God they thought they once were or wanted to be. (This of course in addition to the limitations and frustrations experienced when they cannot overcome the providence and curse established over them by the real God.) Hence, in the atheist world, it's not just enough for each person to be "his own God", he must seek though influence, position, powere, or whatever other means possible to become the greater or greatest God, but at least the one with the most authority and power.

Must be rough living in the atheist world, I mean ...with all the other god's and having to compete with them and everything. Seems like it would be no different than the boxing world where there's either somebody else always out there who can put a whoopin on ya (so there's reason for fear and/or frustration), or if you do make it to the top, then everybody out there gunning for ya. I'm not sure, but this much I know, the member whose email just got turned over to the FBI is probably questioning whether all this "To the Satanist, he is his own God," jargon is really all it's built up to be.

On the one hand, it's kind of funny. On another it's not, because whether on a small scale (with one church member and his leader) or on a larger scale, these types of things are happening in our world every day (be it over world views, power, money, rights, etc.). Think about it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The New Digi-Religion - Skeptical of World of Warcraft and Second Life

Well, unless you have been living under a virtual log, you have heard of the "World of Warcraft (commonly known as WoW) - a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)" as well as the phenomenon known as Second Life (abbreviated as SL), an Internet-based virtual world.

As I have observed the emergence of these massive virtual worlds, I am increasingly struck by the fact that these "games" are becoming, or have become, substitutions. Substitutions for genuine human interaction in the form of "fantasy". Substitutions for dealing with reality in a way that removes true societal regulation. Substitutions that, for many, have taken the place of religion.

I will admit to a certain allure to join into these worlds, but the nature of WOW, with its dark nature and D&D origins and SL with its own problems, make me step back and consider these "worlds" from a Christian Skeptic perspective.

At best, these "worlds" distract from our purpose of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever by removing us from interacting with and stewardship over His Creation and proclaiming His gospel. At worst they pull folk into a pit of dark magic and moral relativity that mirrors the pits of Hell themselves in that they sever the connection between God in Christ and Man.

It is hard for me to see any redeeming quality to these virtual worlds, although some have tried (see the wiki entries on WOW and SL or google them).

Acts 17:29
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So, what do you think?

Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization...

– In a Sense, Of Course
By Michael H. Warren, Jr.

Interesting essay...

Interesting worldview charts:

Servants of Allah

Interesting comments by one of two Muslims who pled guilty to waging war against the U.S.: "This incident is the first in a series of incidents to come in a plight to defend and propagate traditional Islam in its purity ... We are not extremists, radicals or terrorists. We are only servants of Allah."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Muslim Blame and Hope (Canadian Muslim Teen Murdered by Dad for Not Wearing Head Scarf)

Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress in responding to the situation where a Muslim father killed his daughter for not wearing a Muslim head scarf excuses the action by stating "I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue...It is a teenager issue."

I trust that when it comes to the DEATH of an individual, even one's own daughter, for something of this nature, there has to be those of the Muslim heritage who question things not only taking place in the name of Islam but being justified by Islamic leaders, and even denying responsibility or relationship to their faith, perhaps even placing the blame for such a violent act on the deceased (who even they themselves say struggled with issues of dress common among teenagers, but must have deserved no forbearance or lenience.) Surely, such things must create dissonance in the lives of those in rising generations who have greater exposure to thought and examples outside of Islam.

The question is... will young and questioning "Muslims" act against their own conscience and not only continue but be a part of such blind and criminal behavior
and belief, or will they take steps not only to look beyond their religion to the truth but abandon the senseless and barbaric teachings and practices they have grown up with? I encourage them to not let such dissonance lie undealt with, but to allow these issues to lead them to the better way.

That being said, let me also point out that for the sake of the father, who himself, though his religion may affirm his righteousness must also have had his conscience pricked as he looked upon the lifeless body of his own daughter (perhaps his calling the hospital was a sign of this, but maybe not), that if forgiveness and a new righteousness is to be found, he too must look outside the Muslim faith that has led him astray, and find that redemption and peace in Christ the Lord, who will receive any sinner who looks to him and calls on his name for mercy.

This is a sad situation... but perhaps with God's grace and through the gospel... there might be a different ending.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Excellent resources - learn the basics and what matters

Serving the Truth: The Pastor’s Privilege - Sinclair Ferguson
2003 Desiring God Conference for Pastors

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know

Church History In Plain Language

I just found this - Church History: An Essential Guide - it references Plain Language and is by one of my favorite authors, Justo Gonzales, so I will be purchasing it soon.

ByFaith Article on Richard Dawkins

Read here: Richard Dawkins: the Atheist Evangelist

Commonality between The Colorado Shooting and the New Atheism

The shooter in Colorado explained his actions on a website prior to the shooting by stating "You Christians brought this on yourselves...all I want to do is kill and injure as many of you... as possible and "especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems of the world."

I wonder if the reason he gave was limited primarily to his rejection by the school as a student, or if not, then WHERE DID HE GET HIS HEAD FILLED WITH SUCH THINKING, and is there any responsibility there?

Secularists hoping to bring hate crimes/speech legislation need to understand it's not just Christians', but their OWN actions and speech which would come under the scrutiny and consideration of these laws as well. And who is preaching these type messages the most... but Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett and the rest of their new militant atheistic cohorts.

(Note: Some may suggest the shooter was a Christian, but he by his own words seems to distinguish himself from Christians in his explanation.)

The Web - Revealing Interest in Matters Related to God and Christianity Across the World

Monday, December 10, 2007

Plundering the Egyptians

Ayaan Hirsi Ali showed great insight when responding to a question as to how to get others who struggle with false systems of belief to come out and leave those false systems said that in the same way she stuggled with the dissonance caused by the difference in what she felt and believed in her own heart and mind with what she witnessed with the false system of belief around her... she suggests:

THE BEST MEANS of challenging and empowering people to examine their own position, beliefs and practices (along with their contentment vs. discontentment to remain or change their profession/position) is to CREATE AS MUCH DISSONANCE AS POSSIBLE for that person..." (my paraphrase)

I submit to you THIS IS TRUE not only for those who want to convert people from false faiths to atheism, but to convert people from false faiths (including Atheism) to TRUE FAITH (Christianity)!

DO IT!!! (Look for EVERY possibility. Take EVERY opportunity!)

Ali's thoughts are not original here. The wisdom is referred to in God's Word. 2 Cor 10:4ff "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive EVERY thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the Shortcomings of Mere Intellectualism and Atheism

Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at AAI 07. She is clearly one of the brightest and more eloquent speakers today among those who espouse living according to "reason rather than faith." At the same time, it's apparent that while her personal journey and experiences have resulted in her present thinking and positions with unique perspective, even with her bright intellectuallism and sharp mind along with her keen ability to communicate, her positions and expressions GO NO FURTHER THAN OTHERS (with less ability and charm) in providing the basis or foundation for setting reason over faith and living according to that framework. No matter how great the intellectualism, it cannot support and defend the very reason it seeks to stand upon!

Here are questions that remain with Ali's statements (the same questions that cannot be answered by others):

1. Ali states "Without divine intervention, man is able to do good for his neighbor." Question: What is good? Who determines it? What is the standard? If decided by "discussion that recognises individuals to choose their own destiny", what if the choice of some conflicts with the choice and beliefs of others? Who decides who is right, and on what basis is that choice made? How do you know that either is right? And if a common standard can be reached by man "exercising independent thought in a society that is structured by discussion"...does that not point to the fact that there is some absolute when it comes to good and evil, right and wrong, and if so, then where did that come from? The greatest questions remain: upon what authority and foundations will one look to and depend, and from whence do they arrive their authority? It's obvious that whether atheists and skeptics possess unique perspectives or come to their position through unique experiences, it doesn't change the fact that their worldview is without foundations, and hence not only open to attack but prone to fall.

2. Does freedom (all freedom) eliminate bondage? Is there not evidence that freedom to sin often leads people into bondage? If true on a physical level, how much moreso on the spiritual level. The truth is the law of the Lord leads to freedom, and though Ali's experience with a false religion resulted in bondage from religion, this does not mean that experience with true religion would result in the same. In fact, transition from one false religion to another can result in the same, though the factors and experiences may be different. This is not to deny that even impure forms and practices of Christianity cannot lead to bondage, but the Spirit and the kingdom that is from above leads to life, freedom, righteousness, and great reward.

3. Ali states "To live according to reason means to ...." Question: Whose's reason? Atheists often mean by this statement their own reason, but what makes their reason or beliefs (corporately or personally) any superior to anyone else's? What happens when atheists don't agree on matters, particularly those which conflict with the other's beliefs?

4. Ali states "The world of reason she encountered in her latter twenties has an infrastructure to govern human relationships which is derived not from divine power but from human rationale. Question: When it comes to abortion, what does human rationale suggest? Some say yes. Some say no. For some, it's the freedom of the individual (mother). For others, it's the killing of a child. How about homosexuality? For some, it's the natural expression of human love. For others, it's unnatural, perverted, and a behavior like others that should be penalized. What says human rationale? Why stop at this? What about the independent thoughts of Muslims? What makes Ali's thoughts superior to theirs? Whose to say that the large numbers of Muslims are not right and she is wrong, though she was called to be subject (Note - I'm not suggesting the former is right, but using it as illustration simply to make a point... for have not the Muslims expressed their "independent thought in a society that isis structured by discussion individuals have the right to chose their own destiny... they - having come to their own consensus of indepentent though after allowing you to choose will help you reach the destiny you have chosen - infidel or otherwise!) Additionally, does not a world of reason depend upon some foundation? How can one reason without a standard upon which to make judgments, an authority to look to for decisions, etc.? Perhaps one day Ali will discover that oppression and bondage is found not only in the system and power structure of the false religion to which she was exposed, but will be found in every structure and system (including Atheism - which has it's own laws, power structures, etc., though they may be arbitrary and even conflict one another) other than that divine government and law associated with the kingdom of Christ. (Psalm 89:14)

5. Ali states "Under secular law, we are able to grant freedom and independence without degeneration into violence and chaos." Question: What does secular law say about abortion? Does it allow abortion which some look to as one of the greatest forms of violence (the killing of the weakest) or does it outlaw abortion (by which it does violence to the independence of the mother), or does it leave it up to the individual (in which it still allows violence to be done in the opinion of some, and oppose create positions of dissonance for them as they struggle with what they witness versus what they believe?

Interesting Conclusion: It's noteworthy that Ali concluded by saying "Thank GOD I have the reason to choose." Try substituting "Thank MAN that I have the reason to choose"; Thank "the CHEMICALS IN MY HEAD that I have the reason to choose." "Thank SOCIETY that I have the reason to choose"... The list could go on. While Ali makes a satirical jab at God, the truth is, none of these substitutes provide ultimate grounds for providing for her ability to choose, ... and she has no other solution to put in it's place, for apart from God and his absolutes, her statement as well as her choice means nothing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oprah and Evolution

Oprah, in speaking on behalf of a political candidate, made the statement "You do know that is the reason we are on the earth, don't you, ... to evolve."

It strikes me as interesting that now (at least in the popular mind) evolution is not just a change or a process, but an end in itself (...even the end of humanity's purpose and existence).

With evolution as the ultimate purpose, it shouldn't surprise us when other absolutes become meaningless, for when change (/development) alone becomes the goal (or the ultimate absolute), anything without exception (short of the eternal and that which abides) will suffice and prove acceptable.

Most funny was Oprah's attempt to try to look gravely serious when she said this... like she was not only an expert and authority on the matter, but that it would be wrong to even think about questioning her position and word.

Equally funny, though not really, is it's not just day time talk show hosts who are clueless and invent groundless reasons for man's purpose, but all those who deny the truth of God and man's purpose and place within his purpose and plan.

Who Made God? - Excellent Christian Skeptic Response

Got this in my Inbox:

In case you missed the vigorous debate between CMI's Dr Jonathan Sarfati and an evolutionary detractor on a recent weekend feedback response you can still read it at Who designed the designer. Jonathan said that this man ‘was really spoiling for a fight'. But our responses have resulted in some really useful arguments that you could use if being asked a similar question.

Article here

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Atheist challenge

The guys over at The Domain for Truth have an atheist challenge going on. Some interesting interaction in the combox.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Answering The Questions: Couldn't, Wouldn't and Shouldn't

Skeptics of Christianity often ask the questions "Could God not do this?" or "Could God not do that?" or "Shouldn't God do this or shouldn't God do that?" All too often this is a diversionary tactic or point of irrelevancy.

For example, one could ask concerning the birth of Christ, could not God have provided him a better place to lay his head? Or, concerning the cross, it's often asked could not God have delivered Christ or accomplished salvation another way? The point is it's not a matter of what God could do, or would do, or should do, but what God has willed to be done! Sure, God could have provided a lavish birth and a life of wealth to his Son, he also could have brought ten thousand angels and delivered Christ from the cross had that been his desire, his commitment, his promise, and his plan; but it was not.

To ask the question "Couldn't God have done this or that?" is either to miss the point or to deter to the realm of the irrelevant. While in come cases and on some levels it may be necessary and useful to address these matters; perhaps reflection on this truth will equip and arm Christian apologists to avoid distractions and continue more useful debate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Well-founded Skepticism - The "Gospel" of Judas

Take a look at this post over on Al Mohler's blog. Surprise, surprise National Geographic is the sponsor of a hype hoax...after their fossil fraud, my "skepticism meter" is set to "stunned".

Sad to think that folks still give them a lot of credibility.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Brief Thoughts on Secular Warnings and Solutions concerning the End

Through a NYTime's article, I came across a website entitled "How it will end" by Stephen Kirsch (the man who designed the mouse with an optical lens). In it, he references the IPCC consensus report which suggests that " By 2100, there is a 5% chance that the average temperature of the planet will rise by more than 6.4ÂșC."; and the he states that "If we continue to act as we have in the past and as we are acting now, the scientific consensus is that there is now more than a 5% chance that human beings could be virtually extinct in as little as 90 years from now." He attributes the problem and lack of solution not only to greenhouse emissions, etc., but to human ignorance, greed, etc. He goes on to refer to a study of what a 6.4C increase of temperature would look like and the effects it would cause, including not only the mass extinction of all life, but "Ash and smoke would blanket much of the southern hemisphere, and nearly half of the world's terrestrial biodiversity would be wiped out at a stroke." Of particular interest were Kirsch's references, vocabulary, and objects of hope when he refered to the need for a "savior", along with statements such as "Can we be saved? Sure, we still have the time and opportunity to save ourselves." and the fact that we can't expect "our president" or "the voters" to "save" us; not to mention where he says "Al Gore can help save the planet, but he can't do it alone.", "The Clinton Global Initiative may one day save us."; " The mayors of large cities may save us."; "The media could help us save ourselves."; "Warren Buffet could have saved the planet"; along with the possibility that "we" might "save" humanity. He then closes his article by stating "One generous donor with the right vision could literally save the world, but no such donor has stepped forward. Who will it be? I honestly don't know the answers to those questions. So Q.E.D: we are doomed. Enjoy the next 90 years. They will be our last."

While I think the referenced articles (and Kirsch's article in particular) on some levels are not only interesting, informative and valuable reads [Note: informative in sense of what's being reported/said], and raise some legitimate questions about some problems humanity must address and deal with, including the problems associated with the human heart and the current systems in place to address humanity's problems; I think they also raise some interesting topics of thought of another kind, which I'd like to address.

Observations and Thoughts
1. It's interesting that for years the secular community has criticized the religous community for being "dooms day" prophets, and now they themselves are suggesting "we are doomed." (not to mention it's attributed to man's ignorance, greed, etc.) Are the ones who have condemned religous preachers now preaching the message they condemned, and preaching it the loudest? What's interesting is that even from their own mouths is the affirmation that both humanity (and the creation itself) is in need of a savior, though they cannot find one.

2. While we must look to the scientists for the findings and projections, and while it is on one level noteworthy that scientists from around the world have come together (though one must ask if Kitsch's own discussion of the politics and interest of lobby groups, etc., on the local level should also be considered and applied, perhaps moreso, on the global level); isn't it interesting (or might it better be put) that the suggestion of the study which states "Ash and smoke would blanket much of the southern hemisphere, and nearly half of the world's terrestrial biodiversity would be wiped out at a stroke" is not too far off from the warnings of Revelation 8-9 ("a third of the earth was burned up", "a third of the stars turned dark", "smoke rose from it like the smoke of a gigantic furnace", etc.). The point is not that I necessarily equate the two as being the same or one as the cause or lead-in to the other, but what the secular community is now predicting is on one level similar to what the Christian community has proclaimed for some time but was ridiculed for, and that is ... that we cannot always count on things being the way they are now, and that great trials, tribulations, and problems of epic proportion lie not only in humanities' future, but the future of the earth upon which we live.

3. It would not surprise me at some point in the future if humanity were to box itself in and have to face the consequences of our previous decisions and practices in a more significant way as we continue to grow and advance and have effect - we see this to be true on the level of the individual, state, nation, etc., why not on the level of humanity itself? Whether global warming will be the issue or not, I'm not sure, but history will tell (and we'll look to the scientists and others to project). Regardless of the answer, this reminds us of just how finite we are, not only as individuals but humanity as a whole. Again, God's glory and truth stand out and deserve recognition!

4. Once again, it's not unusual to find the world without answers or solutions. Kirsch's concluding statements are deafening when he says "...I honestly don't know the answers to those questions...we are doomed. Enjoy the next 90 years. They will be our last." This is, and has been, and always will be the answer given by the world (though there are some who irrationally deny the issues and say all is well, along with some others who admit the problems but ascribe the solutions solely to man, though they have not the answers and cannot foresee them). However, the Christian answer has always been the same: Our hope is not to be found in humanity or in this world or in anything else, but is to be found in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has come to redeem this world, and renew it. Indeed, Paul was right when he said "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hpe that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brough into the glorious freedom of the children of God." The world's outlook will always by one of death, destruction and doom, not only for the individual, but for humanity and for the world. But for the believer, there's hope, encouragement and even confidence in the old being rolled up as if a garment, and all things being made new.

5. While some will cast this off as believers taking science and putting their own twist on it, it should be noted that secularists have not only begun to preach a message closer in similarity to what Christians have said all along, but that secularists themselves can find no solution/Savior.

6. On some issues, Kirsch raises legitimate issues/questions. It is in the interest of humanity to evaluate and improve our present systems and means of addressing problems, to work to see that the interests of a few do not take precedence over the interests of humanity, and that we not only look to the scientific community but evaluate their work and hold them accountable (along with their proponents); but at the same time, if history along with science shows us anything, the issues of the human heart and it's affects upon everything else will not go away, and also is in need of a Savior. But here again, I see no solutions from the secular community... but the Christianity proclaims the one God himself has offered to those who will receive him. The question is "Who is it?" that will? Will you?

Skeptical of fake moral outrage

The tone and rhetoric from the non-believer side has been increasing in its shrillness and hysterics ever since the trolling trio, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens published their books. Trying to play the victim card, atheists are increasingly referring to Christians as "bigots", God as "evil", and religion as "bad", usually accompanied by a healthy dose of moral indignation, and barely disguised contemptuous outrage.

Not satisfied with only insulting their fellow-evolved, ape-descended, randomly-generated-from-soup-by-thunderbolts-masses-of-hydrogen-and-carbon, non-believers also feel that they should have their own displays representing their secular faith, hence their need to erect their own "holiday" tree.

But do they have an evolved foot to stand on?
All of these acts and insults are born out of a baseless moral outrage. Calling Christians bigots because Christians are "insulting" to atheists is simply stupid if you are an atheist, unless atheists believe that you are insulting pond-scum by calling it, well, pond-scum. Humans may be a step or two above pond-scum on the food-chain (depending on whether you live in California or Texas), but don't protozoans have feelings too? About as much as any other evolved creature, don't you think?

But merely criticizing Christian morality does not establish a tenable moral philosophy for the atheist.

Regardless of which theory of morality/ethics the atheist subscribes, he is still left with a base dilemma of the non-circular definition of morality from a naturalistic perspective. How can a naturalistic derivative decide for or by itself what is ethically normative, if it is naturalistically determined to start with? Whether noncognitivist or cognitivist, ethical naturalism relies on the reduction of ethical terms to scientific or sociological properties, measurable by physiological response. But defining morality based on on human physiological response is question-begging of the highest order. Because it relies on an assumed response for "right" or "wrong" without objectively defining those terms to begin with. How can the ethical naturalist be objective, if he himself is part of the natural?

How one "ought" to respond is not necessarily true for all cases, because morality is normative, or more succinctly, moral properties are normative properties. If an act (or response) has the property of "rightness", then all people ought to act in that way. But the natural properties (pain, pleasure etc), measured as physiological response(s), are not normative, they are simple properties. Also, because not every moral act is reducible to a set corresponding natural property (acts may be right without having the corresponding natural response), ethical naturalism fails. Assuming naturalism as the measure for morality falls on its own preconceptions. Of course, we may be left with the most general argument in favor of humanistic naturalistic morality, the argumentum ad populum or the argumentum ad numerum (majority rules...).

Defining the morally normative remains, therefore, as a basic problem for the naturalist. And their mock outrage stands as a testimony to their ignorance, as much as their "knowledge tree" trumpets it to the world.