Saturday, May 30, 2009

CS Announcement

Christian Skepticism wants to say "Thank You" to our readers as we celebrate another milestone of over 55,000 site visits and as we will soon surpass over 100,000 page views!!!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Theist vs. Atheist/Secular Country to have it's day in court

In Federal judge refuses to dismiss 'Day of Prayer' suit it's been determined by a judge that a case filed by an atheist group suggesting the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional may have it's day in court. Suggesting that for lawmakers to ask Americans to pray is unconstitional (based on separation of church and state) ought to be an uphill battle not only as you look at the practice of those who framed and adopted the constitution but the theistic references in our forming documents.

I look forward to perhaps a thorough review of Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists being revisited again, for while the popular culture is often misled today by the media and revisionist history by secularists, surely (???) he courts will not be, for what one will find in reading the letter is that it does not call for a secular state, nor does it suggest a wall of separation of church and state such that either prayer is unconstitutional by the state or it is unconstituional for the state to call for prayer, but simply that the state should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

Friday, May 29, 2009

San Diego and Bible Studies

Parking Issues or Assembly Issues or Kingdom (/Religious) Opposition & Freedom Issues?

This is certainly a story worth following...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Response to Children of a stupid god video

Atheists themselves ought to be ashamed and humiliated by this wreckless spewing forth of uneducated and/or unsubstantiated claims.

1. Lots of attempts to slander God as being cruel and violent without any reference to context or the nature of the individuals or actions he opposed.
2. Lots of unsubstantiated opinions without grounds or supporting logic (i.e., God "not capable of creating a single radish let alone the entire world", God is "afraid of new ideas", God's eagerness to be worshiped shows he is "an extremely shallow individual", God has a "quickness to violence", God is "stupid", God is "our child", etc.)
3. Lots of ignorance in stating God spawned three religions which absolutely hate each other. (i.e., Blaming God for current Judaism and Islam is equivalent on one level to suggesting modern science spawned those who fail to believe man has visited the moon).
4. Lots of lack of discernment in suggesting God is responsible for division and enmity on earth. (Both failure to admit man's responsibility as well as failure to see the peace and unity that comes to all through the gospel and the body of Christ)
5. Lots of misunderstanding when it comes both to the gospel presented in Scripture as well as the contexts and motivations behind God's judgments. (i.e., "not enjoying your stay on earth will get you into heaven a little bit quicker", "believe in me or burn in hell", worship me or I'll send a plague, "little pigs, little pigs, let me come in or I'll come and burn your cities to the ground.")
6. Lots of differences when it comes to "being created in the image of God" and possessing a fallen image (i.e., Condell suggests God must be a "gullible, superstitious fool" b/c men are; but fails to address or show that man has not fallen or stained or perverted the image)
7. Lots of misinformation in regard to worldviews in suggesting "belief systems limit knowledge, discourage curiousity, and sanctify ignorance). I'd love to see his epistemology.
8. Lots of false choices (i.e., suggesting we must either "be alone in a cold and empty universe or be subject to a cruel and stupid and fascist God"; we would rather cringe under the phone threat of eternal damnation like a bunch of cowardly muppits... etc.) How about the option of not being alone in a cold and empty universe and living in fellowship with a good and loving God?
9. Lots of poor exegesis in suggesting the idea of eternal damnation, etc. is not found in the O.T. but originated with Jesus as a means of manipulation. (Dan 12:2, Isa 66:24, Isa 33:10-14, Ps 21:8-9, Jer 7:20, Isa 1:31, etc.)
10. Lots of wishful thinking (i.e. suggesting science is doing religion's job for it in attempting to illuminate the mystery of life) and not much detail.

There's nothing surprising here. This is just another display of the unbridled babbling and blathering of one who though he admits he does "not know whether God exists or not" takes pleasure out of a hardened heart and seared conscience of consuming both his own time and the time of others berating the idea of God if only to beg attention and gain temporal pleasure while wasting valuable energy and time which could be spent honing his exegesis skills and embracing the truth.

".. they return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths - they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, 'Who can hear us?' But you, O Lord, laugh at hem; you scoff at all those nations... But do not kill them, O Lord our shield... For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride, for the curses and lies they utter, consume them in wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob." (Psalm 59)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Still Missing...

The "Ida" rage is quickly becoming quite an embarrassment. I wonder if the History Channel will still air it's May 25 propaganda piece. Here are a few nuggets from two magazines hardly known for Creationism.

From Time magazine Ida: Humankind's Earliest Ancestor! (Not Really)

"Ida is intriguing because she has some characteristics of both branches, which suggests that she could be a transitional animal that gave rise to the anthropoids and, ultimately, to us. "How transitional it is," says Novacek, "is a matter of debate and further study. I expected that from the beginning. The ratio of vertebrate paleontologists to actual specimens is high, which makes for a lot of theorizing." A specimen like this will reduce the theorizing, but in the end it may not settle anything at all."

From National Geographic "MISSING LINK" FOUND: New Fossil Links Humans, Lemurs?

"But there's a big gap in the fossil record from this time period, Richmond noted. Researchers are unsure when and where the primate group that includes monkeys, apes, and humans split from the other group of primates that includes lemurs."

A classic example of how metaphysical presuppositions determine how one views "evidence".

More on Ida: overblown claims and a worrying precedent

Well that didn't last long...

Mark Henderson, the Science Editor of The Times, has written an excellent piece examining the fanciful claims surrounding Ida. Unfortunately, I don't expect to see any retractions from the History Channel anytime soon.

"Darwinius masillae is not a direct ancestor of both lemurs/lorises and apes/monkeys. It seems to lie on the ape/monkey branch, after the last common ancestor of both groups, and it may well be a direct ancestor of nothing at all that exists today."


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NT Textual Sources

NT Textual Sources - Good Summary

from this thread (I have added some additional notes and emphasis)  

1. Over 5,700 manuscripts of the Greek NT existing are referred to as Byzantine. Given the quantity, they are also referred to as the "majority".

2. Sometime in the 19th century two Egyptian manuscripts were found:

   2.1 Sinaiticus - also called Aleph, named after the monastery location of the discovery

   2.2 Vaticanus, also called B, and both these documents are commonly assumed to be dated around the 4th century.

   2.3 These manuscripts are also referred to as the Alexandrian manuscripts. Hence, in these sort of discussions we often find there are two basic camps, Byzantine and Alexandrian.

3. Erasmus, in 1516, published a version of the NT using six of the Byzantine texts available to him at the time. From this comes the "Majority Text" translation label. (my note - actually, I believe this is considered as the Textus Receptus or Received Text of which 6 of the Majority texts were the source)

4. The Geneva Bible, Luther's translation into German, and the KJV translation trace back to the Erasmus translation.

5. Scholars from the Alexandrian position hold that the two Alexandrian manuscripts (Aleph and B) are the oldest and most reliable versions of the NT.

6. These scholars have published a Critical Text (CT) that drew heavily upon the Alexandrian manuscripts (Aleph and B). (my note - but is also substantiated by the discovery of and inclusion of even older manuscripts, as well as Byzantine or Majority texts.)

Like I said - excellent summary!

Oh...Another one...

Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution

"The experts concluded Ida was not simply a lemur but a 'lemur monkey', displaying a mixture of both groups, and therefore putting her at the very branch of the human line."

Don't we first have to estabish monkeys or lemurs as a branch on the human line before we can come to this conclusion?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Healing Services: World Magazine Article on Lakeland Outpouring

At the height of what many called a revival, WORLD asked Bentley to talk about the healings, like Fogle's, and asked for a list of people who had been healed at the services. His associates told me Bentley was out of the country and a list could not be produced. But six weeks and more than a dozen requests later, the ministry eventually sent a list of 13 names. Fogle was No. 12 on the list, along with this note: "Healed through the Outpouring and is back to fishing."

That was on Aug. 8, 2008. There was just one problem. Two weeks earlier, on July 22, Christopher A. Fogle—according to his obituary in the Keokuk (Iowa) Daily Gate City, "left this life . . . after a courageous battle with cancer."

Good article in World Magazine about the Lakeland Outpouring

Type your summary here

Type rest of the post here

Peado (infant) vs. Credo (confessional) Baptism

Edited: I am moving toward peadobaptism, so I may argue against this.

Why we can dedicate, but not baptize babies:

This is a high level thesis - I'll add some "meat to the bones" later.

In the OLD covenant, the outward signs of membership into God's earthly kingdom (Israel) was birth (or adoption) and circumcision.

In the NEW covenant, the outward signs of membership into God's earthly and SPIRITUAL kingdom are confession of RE-birth and water baptism. (John 3:2-8, Romans 10:8-10, Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12,1 Peter 3:21)

Babies cannot confess, so we do not baptize them. 

Thus, I have also nailed why I am a credo-baptist - hallelujah!

(With all due respect to my peado-baptist brethren.)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's Needed Today in People of Leadership

A few days ago Christopher Hitchens caught my attention when in an interview in his typical bold form stated he thought President Obama was "one of them" and pointed to Obama's quoting Thomas Paine in his inaugural address "without any reference to who he was." This especially gained my attention when listening to the president deliver his graduation address to Arizona State University and hearing him quote Thomas Paine again and reference his Confessions without reference to the man.

Paine, though he grew up in a Quaker context, became a professing DEIST. In the second part of his Age of Reason, he wrote:

The opinions I have advanced . . . are the effect of the most clear and long-established conviction that the Bible and the Testament are impositions upon the world, that the fall of man, the account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation, by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty; that the only true religion is Deism, by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues – and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested all my hopes of happiness hereafter. So say I now – and so help me God.

It's unclear whether the president follows Paine and quotes him because of his political positions, liberalism, intellectualism, recognition as a revolutionary, etc.; however, I would be interested to see the question presented to him.

In this context, along with considering the articles addressing the administration's position of trying to avoid the major issues on abortion (and by present inaction) to fail to protect life, ... along with other issues including weaknesses evident in personal accounts of leader's religious faith, the exceeding priority given to the politics rather than righteousness, etc., I've come to believe what's needed most today in people of leadership is a renewed sense of the transcendence and especially the immananence of God pertaining not only to the fear of the Lord but the continual impression of the active presence of the Lord which not only affects one's perspective of the present and of one's responsibleness before the Lord but reminds them of their ongoing and future accountability. What a difference it would make if rather than quoting and/or practically living like deists, leaders today in all areas of life were to come to be awakened with the conviction of God's personal and reigning presence, ... the one who is the king of kings and lord of lords, who raises up and brings down, and before whom we all serve and ultimately answer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Proof increased knowledge won't be the answer to all man's problems

In Sweden allows gender-based abortion it seems increased knowledge (of the gender of a baby in the womb) is now being used in selective childbearing / childkilling.

... a step in the direction of (or a form of) eugenics, ... or just selfishness (putting one's own pleasures and/or desires even over the life of another)?

Scientists Found How Life Began? Christian Skepticism Response to Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life (NY Times Article)

Several short responses to NYTimes article Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life [Similar article at Fox News entitled: Scientists May Have Found How Life Began)

1. Another attempt of unbelievers to set forth an alternative to creationism.

2. The work simply takes the issue one step further (deeper) from DNA to RNA (or more precisely from RNA to the RNA reactions) .... yet leaves leaves many questions unanswered and on some levels adds to difficulty of believing in naturalism.

3. It should be noted that while the title of the article provides for ambiguity (Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life) such that the phrase "can be" could suggest to uncritical readers that (1) it "could be" a possibility or (2) it actually "can be" (as in actually been shown and proven not only chemically, but existing resources found in necessary proximity, etc.) the starting point of life; ... that at the same time it has not been completely proven even from a mere chemical process that this is a possibility for the starting point of life. Note the following:

Dr. Sutherland said he had not yet found natural ways to generate the other two types of nucleotides found in RNA molecules, but synthesis of the first two was thought to be harder to achieve.

4. The article goes on to say "If all four nucleotides formed naturally, they would zip together easily to form an RNA molecule with a backbone of alternating sugar and phosphate groups." That's a currently unproven "IF" and represents in the greater context somewhat of a "longshot" at this time for one to rest their trust and hope upon.

5. The presuppositions of the scientist are not surprising. Note:
“My assumption is that we are here on this planet as a fundamental consequence of organic chemistry,” Dr. Sutherland said. “So it must be chemistry that wants to work.”

6. Even if this did prove a possibility, if my memory serves me correctly, some scientists have shown that 3.8 billion years would still not be anywhere enough to arrive at the complexity found today.

7. While the scientist's view of humanity has changed, it's certainly not impressive when it comes to human worth, dignity, etc.

Dr. Joyce said he was so impressed by the role of phosphate that “this makes me think of myself not as a carbon-based life form but as a phosphate-based life form.”

8. It's noteworthy that other scientists are not convinced.

Dr. Sutherland’s proposal has not convinced everyone. Dr. Robert Shapiro, a chemist at New York University, said the recipe “definitely does not meet my criteria for a plausible pathway to the RNA world.” He said that cyano-acetylene, one of Dr. Sutherland’s assumed starting materials, is quickly destroyed by other chemicals and its appearance in pure form on the early earth “could be considered a fantasy.”

9. The "longshot" of resting one's assurance and hopes on this theory are seen as well in the scientist's response -

Dr. Sutherland replied that the chemical is consumed fastest in the reaction he proposes, and that since it has been detected on Titan there is no reason it should not have been present on the early earth.

... only that it hasn't been shown. (Note: I'm not suggesting that it wasn't present on earth, but only pointing out how far man will strive in his unbelief and the types of arguments he is willing to accept (even if in possibility/theory) in order to accomodate his presuppositions which stand in contrast and rebellion to God.)

10. No source or justification is given for the "information" or (intelligence/design)found not only at the level of DNA but now at the level of RNA. Where did this come?

Concluding Thoughts:
1. While the title of the article suggests RNA "can be" the starting point of life, there's a lot of unanswered questions between the present theory (even with its new discovery) and either probability or the likelihood, much less the actuality of this being the truth.
2. It's great to see the science advance. God uses even "the drives of the unbelieving to suppress the truth" to bring about good.
3. The deeper man is able to look, the more amazed we ought to be when it comes to intelligence and design in creation. These things ought not only cause us to marvel, but to give God glory! ... for more on this, see the following videos:

Origin of Life
DNA Double Helix

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Christian Skepticism Response to Christopher Hitchen's Interview with George Stroumboulopoulos

The Interview may be found here:

Brief Response
1. Hitchen's comments on quitting smoking are interesting but not surprising ("My children kept saying they couldn't stand it"... "I was getting less and less pleasure out of it and more and more fear" ...It's the perfect self-administered micro-drug ... it's the little glowing friend that never lets you down... All the while it's being your best friend, it's being your worst enemy."'

...does not his description of the addiction match that description of sin in the Bible?

2. Hitchens makes the point on water boarding that U.S. soldiers vow to uphold the constitution which forbids cruel and unusual "punishment", but fails to address distinctions as to whether the practice was being used for reasons of "punishment" or otherwise.

3. Hitchens admits he was wrong before as he has begun to see evil exists (and random acts are done with no justifiable cause). Three response:
a. It's good to see Hitchens not only come to see this but also to admit his error.
b. If Hitchens erred on this issue before, might he also be in error on other related matters? (Bigger question, will he follow where this truth leads? ... or will his presuppositions keep him from the truth?)
c. On what grounds can Hitchens suggest evil exists from his worldview?

4. Hitchen's fear is obvious when he speaks of Iran as a potential "theological party with apocalyptic weaponry". It's good that the world (whether by no choice or otherwise) is good. Suppose that while the world makes fun of believers for apoclyptic beliefs are considering at all that perhaps Christians have been right all along (whether this be a part of it or not)?

5. Hitchens throws the word "believer" around without defining it when he states one must be a "believer" to throw acid in the face of a woman. (Note: he's certainly not referring to the Bible's definition.) Hitchens does the same thing when he states "for a good person to do bad, make them religious."

6. Hitchen falsely states without context or sound biblical exegesis that "genocide, slavery and racism" are all mandated in the Bible. It's sad when one condemns the Bible when the fault lies in their own unscholarly exegesis.

7. In referring to circumcision, Hitchens:
a. Fails to distinguish between such things as "old covenant vs. new covenant" contexts, revelation, principles, commands, etc.; symbology (sign/seal) versus works righteousness, etc.
b. Fails to provide justification from his worldview which provides grounds or justifies this (or any other practice) as being wrong.

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Religious Faith over Political Correctness

It's encouraging to see examples of those who profess faith rather than submitting to political correctness.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Economic Excuses or Opportunistic Capatilists

A common phrase being passed around in ministry circles (both among the clergy and laity) points to the hesitation and perhaps the putting on hold the building of God's house because of "the economy".

For this reason, Haggai is a good study for our day. Haggai wrote during days when the harvest was producing low yields (i.e. poor economy, low morale, etc.) and at a time when many additional excuses could be given for not proceeding with building the Lord's house (i.e., the order for them to stop building as result of the actions of the trans-Euphrates kings; recent return from exile and the need to provide for their families, their future, etc.) In addition, there had been a change in government and power such that King Darius was seeking to shore up his base of power including his relations with distant regions. Haggai, however, saw the current crisis as an opportunity for the people of God to begin the work again and even to petition King Darius (who in shoring up his base would be prone to show favors)to relook at Cyrus' order for them to return home and rebuild the temple. Haggai seized the opportunity (during the Festival of the New Moon when God's people would be gathered together) to awaken conscience and call the people back to obedience to God's command to build the Lord's house (... at a time when they were seeking to better themselves and provide for their families and future while growing comfortable even while failing to seek to carry out the Lord's will.)

I ask you: IS it TIME for the LORD's house to be built?

Sure, it's easy and even the trendy thing to speak of "the economy" without considering the opportunities the present time offers. In my community, the estimated median house value climbed from $88,500 to $142,000 from 2000 to 2007 and still we speak of difficult economic times.

Besides this, there's MORE to building the Lord's house than building buildings (though bricks and mortar also have their place). Are Christians building ourselves in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Are we being strengthened by the Word of God and through experience and application? Are we discipling people by reaching out to those who are without God and without hope in the world, and are we sharing the message of the gospel with them? Are we building them up in the knowledge leading to salvation? Are we participating ourselves and involving others in the worship, fellowship and discipline of the church? Are we helping people embrace a Christian worldview and display it through thought, communication and practice? Are we teaching people to pray? Encouraging people in their walk? Supporting one another? Planning for continued growth and service?

I don't deny discussions of the economy have their place, but has not the LORD ALMIGHTY (who possesses unlimited authority, power and resources) commanded his people to build his church, even in OUR day?

Is it TIME for the Lord's house to be built?

We need to reconsider the excuses we give for not participating, for post-poning, for putting off indefinitely, etc. Sometimes the problem is not so much "the economy" as it is indifference and inaction when it comes to the Lord's commands. Like Haggai, even in times when the economy is slow we need to look for opportunities that that present themselves. The heart that's not motivated doesn't need many excuses, it will find them and make them. On the other hand, the heart characterized by faith and obedience will look for ways for the Lord's command to be fulfilled.

I believe one of the great needs today is the same as that in Haggai's day. As one put it, "Practically, there was a need for the AWAKENING of a popular enthusiam for building the Lord's house."

To Fear or Flee: Christians' Decisions Working With Unbelievers in the Marketplace

It's my impression that at times Christians may live in fear when it comes to the marketplace rather than living in the fear of the Lord. At times, it's even our temptation when working for those who either do not practice or look favorably upon Christianity (or perhaps even outright antagonize or persecute individuals for their Christianity) to flee rather than remain and stand steadfast even in the face of troublesome times or strenuous situations.

Obadiah was one who in 1 Kings 18 served as one in charge of King Ahab's palace even during a time when Jezabel (Ahab's wife) was "killing off the Lord's prophets". As one put it, while Obadiah did not convert Ahab, at the same time he neither compromised his faith nor was led astray by Ahab and his beliefs. It appears that in this situation, Obadiah was able to serve in his position of leadership even though he did was not a participant of Ahab's religious persuasion. The significant factor seen in Obadiah's life and service was that the Lord used his position and opportunities as a means of advancing the work of God's kingdom and providing for the saints. Obadiah himself, who "feared God" and served and worshiped him since his youth was one who not only served God honorably at the risk of his own position and welfare but did so sacrificially, providing both food and water for the prophets he hid even during the days in which there was a three and a half year drought. Note the pleasant memories he had of his previous accomplishments when he says to Elijah "Haven't you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killling the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundered of the Lord's prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water." And Obadiah is not the first to serve the Lord faithfully (and even from his youth) in places where you might not expect to find Christians. Think of those like Joseph, Daniel, Mordecai, Samuel, David, Josiah, etc.

Sure... wisdom and consideration of the details of each circumstance may determine the best course of action for believers in particular situations; but Obadiah is a good example which shows Christians should not always be quick to flee when difficult or ungodly situations present themselves.

Type rest of the post here

The Court Cuts Both Ways

With all the past emphasis in the courts on routing out Christianity, it's noteworthy to see one which is not opposed to addressing the other side. For more, read Judge: Teacher violated kids' rights by calling creationism 'nonsense'

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Pluralist and the Elephant

The pluralistic view of God is a backwards attempt to make man the ultimate authority. For example, the pluralist will argue that God is simply too big for the finite human mind to comprehend. Of course, this is a self-defeating argument, for if it were true, we would have no way of know it to be true, since that "bigness" of God would be a attribute that our "finite human minds" could not comprehend. While there is some truth in that statement (we can never know everything about God), we are responsible for knowing that which God Himself has revealed to us (Deut. 29:29). Oddly enough, however, it is the finite human mind and it's subjective experiences that become the ultimate authority that the pluralist uses to approach God, even if each approach is different or even contradictory.

This can be illustrated by the ancient Hindu tale of the blind men and the elephant in a room. In order to determine what is in the room with them, the blind men resort to their sense of touch. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is a tree trunk; the one who feels the tail says it is a rope; the one who feels the trunk says it is a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says it is a fan; the one who feels the belly says it is a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is a solid pipe.

The pluralistic assumption is that all of the men are correct. They based their view of the elephant on what they had experienced. This tale is set before Christians as a lesson that all religions are correct in their approach to God, but none of them can fully grasp Him.

There are two main flaws in this argument. First, the assumption is that all of the men are correct is false. The fact of the matter is that all of the blind men were wrong. Thus applied to religion, pluralism is tantamount to atheism, since the only way all religions can be equal and valid is if they are all wrong. Second, it is based in a denial that God has revealed Himself. This is precisely what Christianity holds. The "elephant" has proclaimed what he is, and gave the blind men eyes to see 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)