Important Messages

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Follow up with Michael - Part 3

Michael's last response can be found here in which he included many videos in regards to different points he was trying to make. I will try to respond to the major points below, his responses will be included in bold and my responses will follow.

Michael said: So basically when it comes to the mystery of life, they answer the mystery with another mystery; basically not providing an answer at all. There is nothing rational about that, so no I do not agree with you regardless of what theology shares such view. Just stating “God did it” for every unanswered question is just a simple response for the simple minded.

Never do I just state "God did it" although I would be completely justified in doing so. When you look at a building you don't need any proof to say someone built it, the building itself is absolute proof. It is perfectly rational to look at a building and conclude that someone built it. In the same way, when I look at Creation I don't need any further proof to know that someone created all of it, i.e. God. Creation itself is 100%, scientific, absolute proof that there is a Creator. To deny that is to believe that something came from nothing, which is a scientific impossibility.

Furthermore, throughout our dialogue, I have given you many reasons, examples and evidence that points to a supernatural cause for the universe and life as we know it. I have given you examples from fulfilled prophecy, archaeology, Biblical consistency, scientific foreknowledge and biology but you have denied it all. You ask for evidence and I have given you evidence. There is much more evidence, but I don't think any evidence would convince you. This is why I started with presuppositions and tried to show you that it's not about evidence, it's about how you interpret the evidence based on your presuppositions.

I can name many creationists, especially the ones today who repeat the same lie (among many other lies) that there are no transitional fossils, like Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Lee Strobel, Kent Hovind, Ken Ham do constantly.

They are not lying. If there was a real transitional form that proved evolution it would be all over every newspaper around the world and everyone would know about it. There is no transitional form that even secular scientists agree is proof of evolution. It doesn't exist. Kent Hovind has had a long standing $250,000 award for anyone who can give him proof of evolution and to date, that money has never been claimed, because that proof doesn't exist.

…provided a link to a full library of transitional fossils in my last blog, but even to this day creationists will claim that none exist. If that is not distorting facts, I don’t know what is.

Again, even secular scientists would not agree on that "full library" of transitional forms. All you have to do is go to the link you sent me and see how often they use terms like "probably, could have, maybe, likely, etc." This is not science; it is mere speculation and interpretations based on their presuppositions about the past. Every one of those supposed transitional forms can be interpreted from a creationist perspective as well.

Or how about my favorite when creationists to this day continue to quote Darwin claiming the eye could not evolve, that Darwin said he thought it was “absurd to the highest degree.” But if you read the next sentence it shows Darwin did indeed thought the eye could evolve, and he even explained how.

Michael, would you ever believe that given enough time, a digital camera could evolve from nothing. Or how about a 747, or a computer, or a crayon, or a pencil, or an automobile. Of course not, you're smarter than that. You know those things were created. Their existence alone is proof that they were created, someone had to create them. So how could you believe that something as complex as the human eye, or even the simplest known bacteria, which is more complex than any of those manmade objects, somehow happened on its own? You claim that people that think there is a creator are simple minded. That is because it is simple to see. Look around you. Look at the sun, moon, stars, your body, your brain, your eyes, your circulatory system, your lungs, your nervous system, etc. They all testify to a Creator simply by their existence.

Or how about creationist cartoons, seminars, and films that spoon feed their audience that evolution leads to evils like Hitler and racism.

Michael, if you don't believe God exists, then I don't even know why you would mention something like evil and Hitler. Do you believe what Hitler did was evil? I assume you do. But if you take God out of the equation then what is evil? If evil exists, you must believe the opposite of evil, namely good exists as well. If good and evil exist, then you assume there must be some moral law by which you differentiate between good and evil. If there exists a moral law, there must exist a moral law giver, i.e. God. That moral law giver, God, is exactly who you deny exists. But if God or the moral law giver doesn't exist, then there cannot exist a moral law, and then there is no basis for you to differentiate between good and evil. So, if you believe what Hitler did was evil, you are borrowing from the Judeo-Christian worldview while at the same time trying to verbally deny its existence.

Creationists take joy in distorting what science overall is.

This is absurd. Clearly, creationists can indeed be real scientists. There are 1000s of creation scientists across the globe that have gone to school and researched to get their PhDs right alongside the same scientists that believe in evolution. They undoubtedly understand what science is and how it works. And this shouldn’t be surprising since the very basis for scientific research is biblical creation. The universe is orderly because its Creator is logical and has imposed order on the universe. God created our minds and gave us the ability and curiosity to study the universe. Furthermore, we can trust that the universe will obey the same physics tomorrow as it does today because God is consistent. This is why science is possible. On the other hand, if the universe is just an accidental product of a big bang, why should it be orderly? Why should there be laws of nature if there is no lawgiver? If our brains are the by-products of random chance, why should we trust that their conclusions are accurate? But if our minds have been designed, and if the universe has been constructed by the Lord as the Bible teaches, then of course we should be able to study nature. Ultimately, science is possible because the Bible is true.

At this point, Michael pointed out why Noah's Ark would not possibly work.

The article below shows that the Ark of Noah was completely feasible. There is plenty of evidence for the feasibility of the Ark in the article. If you are truly open minded, please read it and consider the points the article makes.

So we cannot make conclusions because our senses are not reliable? All the more reason to have a skeptical mind like me, however the beauty of science is that it can be tested multiple times from brilliant men and women around the world, eliminated rooms of error.

Michael, I feel like you are just trying to argue everything I say for arguments sake. I never said our senses aren't reliable. I said, in science, we presuppose that they are reliable; otherwise our observations could not be trusted. I was just showing some of the presuppositions scientists must have in order to do science.

1) Isn't reliable senses a presupposition for any human endeavor? If one cannot assume reliable senses, how does that bolster the case for a deity or deities and magic as an explanation for the world and the universe we perceive?

Yes, reliable senses are a presupposition for almost anything. I am glad you understand that. In your previous response, you said that science has no presuppositions but I am glad you are starting to see now how we all have presuppositions. I am not saying we cannot assume reliable sense, I am saying that we do assume reliable senses and the reason we can do so is because God upholds the universe in a uniform and consistent manner. Genesis 8:22 says "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." In other words, things will carry on consistently from day to day. This is WHY we can assume our senses will be the same tomorrow as they are today and this is also WHY we can observe something with our senses today and can assume the same would hold true tomorrow under the same conditions. Then we can begin to formulate hypotheses and theories and make scientific predictions. If there is no Biblical God who upholds the universe in a consistent manner, there is no basis or reason why we should assume that things will be the same tomorrow as they are today. If we can't assume things will behave consistently then we could not do science as we know it. Thus, the very underlying principle for why we can do science is rooted in the nature of the Judeo Christian God who is upholding the universe and His creation by His power. As I stated earlier, without God, science would be impossible.

2) Assuming that when you refer to a constant speed of light when you say "light travels in an orderly way," what empirical evidence can you offer that would lead one to suspect that the speed of light varies and what physical processes do you propose as a mechanism capable of causing the speed of light to vary?

Michael, again you are trying to turn something I stated into an argument. I never said the speed of light can vary. It travels in an orderly way and this is another presupposition we make when making scientific observations. We take it for granted that light is constant. The basis for this fact is because as I previously mentioned, God upholds the universe in an orderly and consistent manner. In an atheistic universe, there is no logical basis as to why the speed of light could not just randomly change tomorrow. Again, this is why the Judeo Christian worldview is foundational to the nature of scientific endeavors. Even though many atheistic scientists will deny this truth, they take it to the laboratory with them every day when they assume that the universe will behave today as it did yesterday.

3) What does "the universe continually behaves in an orderly, logical way" mean?

This means that it is not chaotic and random, but is consistent from day to day. If we stubbed our toe getting out of bed this morning and it really hurt, we can expect that same feeling to occur if we stubbed our toe tomorrow morning. The basis for this is that God is upholding the universe in a consistent manner from day to day.

If you mean that we presume that there are physical constants governing how the universe functions, then doesn't repeated and repeatable experiences validate the assumption? If I observe several people jumping off a cliff, and the result is invariably a plummet followed serious injury or death, doesn't that validate the idea of physical constants?

Again, I am not saying that we can't assume physical constants, I am saying that the reason we can is because God is consistent and He upholds the universe in a consistent manner. Alternatively, if there is no God and there are just blind chemical reactions happening all around us, there is no reason why those chemical reactions must be consistent from one day to the next. Why couldn’t gravity reverse itself and when people jumped off the cliff they floated away from earth. There is no reason why they cannot change in an instant and everything as we know it would be different. If my nervous system began behaving in a different way tomorrow morning, I could stub my toe and it could feel absolutely wonderful. If there is no God upholding the universe in a consistent manner, there would be no reason why this scenario could not or should not happen.

4) Inductive reasoning is a part of many human activities. Are you suggesting that the use of inductive reasoning and forensics in crime investigation, for example, is invalid?

Never would I suggest that inductive reasoning is invalid. Again, the reason induction (i.e. assuming that something I do today will be repeatable in the future under the same conditions) is valid is because God is consistently upholding the universe and what we do today will be repeatable tomorrow under the same conditions.

I think it is interesting that you are so skeptical about the Bible, Jesus, Creation, etc. but you are so quick to jump on and endorse "some guy next door" who posts a video on YouTube. You assume everything they say has to be true when they are basically putting a video together in their garage. If you are skeptical about everything you encounter you would think you would hesitate to endorse Joe Schmoe on YouTube so quickly. I think you are not skeptical about everything; you just don't want to believe the Bible because of the moral implications. If you believe the Bible, then you are morally accountable for your actions and I think the thought of that might put a wet blanket on some of the things in life that you enjoy doing.

When you claimed that we both look at the same evidence, I pointed out that is not the case. Biologists have and test ERVs, atavisms, transitional forms, physiological, anatomical, and molecular vestiges, ontogeny and developmental biology, protein functional redundancy...

Creation scientists have all that same data and evidence to observe that evolutionists do. It is not like creation scientists have their own set of genes and proteins that they study; it is all the same. I'm not sure why you insist that they are different. The conclusions they come to are different, but again, this is because of their presuppositions that they bring to interpret the evidence. All the evidence is the same.

For example, you look at a fossil and immediately think "evolution and millions of years" and I think "God's judgment and buried during Noah's flood". To prove this to you, imagine if you were to apply carbon dating to a fossil of a dinosaur bone and the carbon dating showed that the fossil was 6000 years old. Immediately, you would think that there was an error with the test and rerun it and would already be thinking that the age should be millions of years. Even if it came up as 100,000 years old, you would still date it as millions of years old because that's what you believe it is, not because of what the scientific data says. This shows that you are pre-committed to a certain age for a fossil rather than letting the scientific data speak for itself. This happens all the time in real science. We find Carbon 14 in dinosaur bones and diamonds that are supposed to be hundreds of millions or even billions of years old. This shows that they are only thousands of years old, but scientists will still insist in a very old age in spite of what the scientific data says.

“And you do not need proof” DING DING DING DING. You just made it clear that you do not require proof. Why? Because your side is based on faith. Faith is belief with little or no evidence at all.

As I said earlier, you don't need proof because it’s already right in front of you. In order for you to know that a building had a builder or a painting had a painter, you don’t need any further proof than the building or the painting. The same is true with Creation. We don't need any further proof than the Creation itself to know there is a Creator. It takes no faith to say that Creation is absolute 100% proof of a Creator just like it takes no faith to say a building proves there was a builder. This should be obvious to any thinking adult.

In an earlier response, I told you that I believe the Bible gives me the right basis to understand this universe and correctly interpret the facts around me. I gave you some examples of how building my thinking on the Bible explains the world and is not contradicted by science. For instance, the Bible states that God made distinct kinds of animals and plants and I talked about that. I explained that when I build my thinking on this presupposition, it makes sense of what we see and observe around us. You have not shown me how your way of thinking, based on your beliefs, makes sense of the same evidence.

Make no mistake Jason, THIS IS AN INTELLECTUAL ISSUE. If your head hurts from thinking too much about this stuff, just say so. If not that, then the problem is that your faith demands that you should not think about your beliefs. This is why Martin Luther said “reason greatest enemy of faith,” because he knew damn well a thinking person can see through the crap. ...

Here are a few Creation Scientists that you might be familiar with:
  1. Francis Bacon (1561–1626) Scientific method.
  2. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) Physics, Astronomy
  3. Johann Kepler (1571–1630) Scientific astronomy
  4. Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) Hydrostatics; Barometer
  5. Robert Boyle (1627–1691) Chemistry; Gas dynamics
  6. Isaac Newton (1642–1727) Dynamics; Calculus; Gravitation law; Reflecting telescope; Spectrum of light (wrote more about the Bible than science, and emphatically affirmed a Creator.
There is a more extensive list here. According to you, these were not “thinking people” and apparently could not “see through the crap.” Many of these men are considered “Fathers of Science” and when people refer to science standing today on the “shoulders of giants” these are the “giants” they are referring to. They are some of the smartest and intelligent men to contribute to the many fields of science.

Michael, you also throw a lot of quotes around here about faith being contrary to reason. My simple response to this is that it doesn't matter what Martin Luther or others say about reason, what matters is what the Bible says about it. Faith and reason actually go hand in hand. Without faith, you would not be able to reason because to reason you have to have faith in the laws of logic, which are immaterial and unobservable with our senses. Please take the time to carefully read the following paragraphs about what the Bible has to say about faith and reason.

The Bible actually encourages reason in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. The Bible also tells us we are to have a good reason for what we believe, and we are to be always ready to share that reason with other people (1 Peter 3:15). So, as I have been trying to do with you Michael, I have attempted to show that belief in the Scriptures is reasonable, justified, and logically defensible. The Bible makes sense.

The Bible tells us we are also supposed to have faith. We are supposed to trust God and not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). The Bible tells us that the “just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). Does that mean that we are supposed to trust God regardless of whether His words make sense to our understanding? Are we to accept the teachings of Scripture without regard to logic and reason, even if it does not make any sense? The apparent conflict between faith and reason troubles many people. But when they are properly understood in their biblical context any apparent conflict disappears. Yes, we are to have good reasons for what we believe, and we are also to have faith. In fact, without faith, we could not have reason, as I briefly mentioned above with the laws of logic.

Mark Twain once defined faith as “believing what you know ain’t so.” You stated above that “faith is belief with little or no evidence at all.” But is this what the Bible means when it uses the word faith? Not at all. The Bible does not promote a belief in the irrational or any type of unwarranted “blind faith.” Some people have said, “Faith takes over where reason leaves off.” Taken this way, rationality is seen as a bridge that reaches only partway across a great chasm; faith is needed to complete the bridge and reach the other side.

People who take this view would say that Christianity cannot be proven, that reason leads us most of the way to God and then we must make a “leap of faith” in order to say that Jesus is Lord. But this is not what God’s Word teaches about faith. The Bible itself tells us what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So biblical faith is not blind but is strongly warranted confidence. The phrase “hoped for” does not imply a mere wishful thinking as in “I sure hope the weather is nice next week.” Rather, the Greek word for faith indicates a confident expectation: the kind of confidence we have when we have a good reason to believe something.

Biblically, faith is having confidence in something you have not experienced with your senses. Biblical faith is not “blind”; it’s not the act of “believing without a reason.” Just the opposite; biblical faith is the act of believing in something unseen for which we do have a good reason. For example, when we believe that God will keep a promise, this constitutes faith because we cannot “see” it and yet we have a good reason for it: God has demonstrated that He keeps His promises.

As many people have misunderstandings of faith, they also have misunderstandings of reason. Reason is a tool that God has given us that allows us to draw conclusions and inferences from other information, such as the information He has given us in His Word. Reason is an essential part of Christianity and as mentioned earlier, God tells us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) as we see the apostle Paul did in Acts 17:17.

For example, I could not know that I am saved apart from using reason. After all, the Bible nowhere says that “Jason Gallagher is saved”. Instead it tells me that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I have genuinely acknowledged that Jesus is Lord, and I believe that God raised Him from the dead. Therefore, I am saved. I must use logical reasoning to draw this conclusion.

Biblical faith and biblical reasoning actually work very well together. In fact, faith is a prerequisite for reason. As I touched on above, in order to reason about anything we must have faith that there are laws of logic which correctly prescribe the correct chain of reasoning. Since laws of logic cannot be observed with the senses, our confidence in them is a type of faith.

For the Christian, it is a reasonable, justified faith. The Christian would expect to find a standard of reasoning that reflects the thinking of the biblical God; that’s what laws of logic are. On the other hand Michael, you cannot account for laws of logic based on your worldview. Since laws of logic are necessary for reasoning, and since the Christian faith is the only faith system that can make sense of them, it follows that the Christian faith is the logical foundation for all reasoning (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3). This isn’t to say, of course, that non-Christians cannot reason. Rather, it simply means they are being inconsistent when they reason; they are borrowing from a worldview contrary to the one they profess. So Michael, just like Dr. House, you use reason in your everyday life but you can only do so by borrowing from the Christian worldview, which you are trying to tell me does not exist or is a fairytale. Like many unbelievers, you are not being consistent with your worldview because you subconsciously rely upon Christian principles, such as logic, whenever you reason about anything. So as a Christian, I have a good reason for my faith. Ultimately, the Christian faith system makes reason possible.

Michael included, “As Dr. House once said “If you can reason with religious people, they would not be religious.””

Michael, you proclaim to be a skeptic but you jump on the bandwagon of any poster on YouTube or even Dr. House who says something that you think is true. This shows that your skepticism is not genuine as you claim but rather is narrowly focused on the Christian faith, Jesus Christ and the Bible.

Michael then says…This is why Jason I simply ask for something more. It is not much, while I remain open to all sides I cannot take them seriously until they provide evidence.

All I have done is provide evidence. I honestly question your openness to all sides because you have not done anything but argue every piece of evidence I have provided up to this point. If I continued to provide you with evidence, I think the same would continue. What sort of evidence would you like to see other than what I have already provided? Here is a summary of some of the evidence I have provided thus far:
  1. The foundational presuppositions required to do science (i.e. Induction, an orderly and consistent universe, reliable senses, light being constant, etc.) are all based on the Christian worldview. Without God, all of these presuppositions ultimately have no basis.
  2. Evil implies there is such a thing as good, which implies or assumes a moral law with which to differentiate between the two. A moral law implies a Moral Law Giver, who Michael is trying to disprove exists. If there is no Moral Law Giver, there is no moral law, there is no good and evil. Therefore, speaking about evil only makes sense if God exists.
  3. Faith and Reason – Reason is dependent on faith in the laws of logic, which are immaterial and unobservable by our senses. The Christian would expect to find a standard of reasoning that reflects the thinking of the biblical God; that’s what laws of logic are. On the other hand Michael, you cannot account for laws of logic based on your worldview where you exclude God.
  4.  I have given you evidence from Prophecy, Archaeology, Biblical Consistency, Scientific Foreknowledge and more, you just disagree with it. Nevertheless, it has been provided.
  5. Created Kinds and Natural Selection are completely consistent with how we observe animals reproducing and adapting to their environments today and reflect the Creation account in Genesis 1. What we see is consistent with what is revealed in Scripture.
If you want me to believe in Jesus, first you have to take the first basic step and provide proof of historical facts for him. Remember to leave a comment on my blog.

Michael, the evidence is overwhelmingly against you here and even the majority of atheistic historians will agree with me here. I read your history blog and my response to it would follow along the same lines as the quote below:

“In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by "the village atheist," bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.”

Please see the link here for evidence on the existence of Jesus.

To claim I never will believe the Bible is disproven by the fact I did once upon a time.

So then, it is safe to say that you were deceived back then when you thought the Bible was true? The question I would ask you is “Did you know the Lord”? If you did know the Lord, then you admit that God exists because you knew Him. If you didn’t know the Lord, you were never a Christian and therefore never truly believed the Bible. I pray that one day you will come to believe and put your trust in God’s Word. That is my hope for you!

You claim you are trying to save me, you along with the Muslims, Jews, etc. All of them can quit the pleading and just try to provide some sort of proof. I’m waiting.

Michael, see above for all the proof, or evidence, I have provided but you willingly deny. You have all the proof you will ever need. Remember, Creation proves a Creator just like a building proves a builder. However, you seem more eager to place your faith in random YouTube videos and Dr. House than the Lord God Almighty. This shows me that you are prejudiced towards the Bible and not truly open to all sides equally as you say.

You say I should humbly come to God, basically you are asking me to accept something exists without evidence and seek it out.

Again, see above for all the evidence that has been provided. I can provide more if you like. Even the Big Bang points to the existence of a Creator. Also, biblical faith is not “blind faith.” What I am asking you to do is place your faith in the Bible and Jesus Christ, something that is unseen, because there is ample evidence and good reason to do so. What is the one biggest stumbling block you have towards the Christian faith, the Bible, and Jesus Christ? Perhaps we can turn this into a question and answer where you provide me with one major question at a time about why you don’t believe the Bible or Jesus and I will respond one question at a time. That will help with the super-long blog responses as well.

Continuing to claim you want to save me from hell is feeble. This video at least shows were the concept of hell comes from.

Again, you are so quick to place all your faith in some random person’s video on YouTube and question the Word of God. It seems like your skeptical mind goes out the window when you logon to YouTube and look for videos that try to discredit Christianity. All I can say is that Hell is not a concept, it is a real place of eternal torment where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies (Mark 9:48). It is a place of utter isolation where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28). I have heard personal testimonies from people who have died and came back and experienced the reality of hell first hand. When what they experience parallels what the Bible describes hell is like then it gives me reason to believe that what they experienced was real.

I continue to want to prevent you from facing God’s wrath on Judgment Day. You have broken His Commandments, as have I, and God will be absolutely just sending us to hell for eternity because of our sins against Him. His holiness demands that He punish sin wherever it is found. However, God is loving and merciful and does not want that for anyone. So He sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your sin and mine and if you humble yourself, turn form your sins and place your faith in Jesus to save you, you have God’s promise that he will save you! Your death sentence can be commuted and you can go to heaven when you die and have a relationship with the living God starting today!

You may pray for me Jason, but I will think for you. I have read and considered each of your points, and I have explained why I do not find them convincing. In the future, if you want to convince me, please provide proof.

Michael, again, the proof is all around you. You just choose to ignore it. You even admit I have provided you evidence and you don’t find it convincing. I cannot convince you, nor is it my job to convince you. Only God can convince you and that won’t happen until you humble yourself and seek Him. But if you don’t believe He exists, then you will never seek Him, which is exactly what Scripture says. Read this passage from Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I hope you can see that it is reasonable to believe in God and I encourage you to seek Him, even if you are skeptical. Truly and honestly open your heart and ask God to reveal himself to you. Seek Him. Read His Word. Go to Church. Listen to sermons online. Seek answers to the questions you have about Christianity. If you seek him with all of your heart, he will reveal himself to you, that is a promise from God. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, go for it!

Thanks for the advice, and if I may, I have my own advice for you: Be skeptical, think about all things. Doubt is okay, doubt is humble. Stop taking things on faith, faith should not be used by grown adults in the 21st century. Use your head.

My friend made an interesting observation about your advice above. He observed that you don’t even take your own advice. Why don’t you approach everything with doubt and skepticism. Surely you have not brought this skepticism to all the YouTube videos you posted. And you are not very skeptical about science, especially evolutionary science? Do you ever apply that doubt you advise me to use to science? You are taking science on faith. You also take all of the videos you post above on faith (like the one that tries to explain away the reality of hell) and you immediately embrace it as truth. Also, he reminded me that true humility is admitting we don’t have all the answers (and that God does). Pride is the opposite, thinking we have all the answers and we are smart enough to figure everything out ourselves.

I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks for all of your responses so far, I hope you find it worthwhile. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for you. God Bless you, Michael.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Attitude is so Important

In Philippians 2:5-11 Paul writes about the attitude we should have as followers of Christ.

Verses 5 and 6: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

This verse is incredible. Precisely because Jesus is God is the very reason why he "did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." That is the epitome of humility and that is our God! And we are to have the same attitude as Christ.

Verses 7 and 8: but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

These verses remind me of Matthew 20:28: "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It is interesting to note that his humility led him directly to obedience, even if that obedience meant losing his life. Jesus died in our place so that we could have everlasting life! Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live." John 11:25.

Verses 9-11: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Because of Christ's humility and obedience, he was exalted by the God the Father. Paul mentions three places where EVERY knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. One is in heaven, one is on earth and the other is UNDER the earth. That seems to imply that even those who end up in hell (under the earth) because they rejected God's offer of forgiveness will bow and verbally confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. What they failed to realize and confess while God gave them time on this earth will now be such an utter reality that they will have no other choice than to bow before him and acknowledge that he is and always has been Lord of all. At that point, however, it will be too late for them to be forgiven and their eternal destiny will already be set.

So, be encouraged and change your attitude to that of Christ. The Bible says that the "wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." 2000 years ago, Christ paid the payment for sin on the cross so that we wouldn't have to. That's good news! If you are reading this and haven't trusted Christ as Savior and Lord, God has graciously given you the time today to humble yourself, repent (turn away from) of your sins and turn to him as Lord and Savior, asking him to forgive you for your sins and to place your trust in Him alone to save you. God will grant eternal life to all who trust in Jesus. Then read the Bible every day and obey what you read.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Follow Up With Michael

This post will be in response to Michael's latest post which can be found here. I will respond in bold type throughout his post and reference Michael's responses in regular font.

Michael said: "The first and foremost thing I would like to point out is Jason's continuation of everything is based on assumptions, and yet claims that God created the universe and " only the Christian can provide a rational explanation for the presuppositions..."

Michael, that is exactly what I am claiming, only the Judeo-Christian God and view of the universe can provide a rational explanation for the presuppositions we assume to be true. You seem to be in agreement with me here in part. You seem to imply that this view is valid but you disagree that it is solely Christian in nature.

...Jason, when I said that we are not looking at the same evidence, I meant it. Here is why: Creationists pretend that certain evidence does not exist...

Can you give me one particular example of a creation scientist pretending certain evidence does not exist?

...which is evident when the willfully distort the facts...

Without an example of willful distortion of the facts, you’re just throwing sand.

...we present while they rely on propaganda...

Please give me an example of propaganda.

...You claim we are looking at the same evidence, when why do creationists distort the definitions, ignore it and repeatably state they do not exist, or flat out deny it...

Please give me an example of these distortions and denials, it’s hard to respond to empty claims.

...I have evidence of such behavior, even a federal judge pointed this out...

Should I just take your word for it or can you give an example to support this claim?

 No matter what, creationists will not admit that anything we ever find can fulfill Darwin's theory. They further try to distort what he theory actually explains, example, by repeatably claiming it is a random process. You, Jason, yourself said it was.

Are you saying evolution is not random? Let me ask you a question: If evolution started over today from square-one would we wind up exactly where we are today given enough time? Would we have all the exact same species as we have living today? If not, then it is random. Evolution relies on mutations, which are random, they are not orderly, that is why they call them mutations. Can you predict when a mutation will occur and what a mutation will do when it occurs? If not, then it is random.

...This is why creationists demand only monstrous absurdities...
Can you give me an example of the "monstrous absurdities" creationists demand?
...or issue challenges they know still couldn’t be satisfied no matter how true evolution may be...
Do you have an example of such a challenge?
...because they know already that whatever they insist on seeing today we may show them tomorrow, and if that happens, they’ll have to make up new excuses for why it still doesn’t count...
Michael, you are just throwing more sand without any logical reasoning or examples to support your claims.
So they won’t request to see anything evolution actually requires, and they usually won’t define any criteria they would accept either, because they already know they won’t accept anything even if we show them everything they ever ask for. Even when I asked you Jason to define "kinds" and "information" you skipped it.
I specifically stated I would answer it in a later post, because I wanted to focus on presuppositions. The definition of "kind" in biblical terms is primarily defined by the capability for a specific animal to reproduce. Originally, before the Fall, the created "kinds" were definied by reproductive ability. Today, after thousands of years of genetic mutations from the Curse, these lines may have been slightly blurred but are basically the same. For land animals and birds, the created kind most often corresponds to the conventional classification rank called “family". For example, there is evidence that the camel, horse, cat, dog, penguin, and iguana families are each a created kind. Most likely, the coyote, wolf, jackal, and dog would be in the same kind, along with the fox. The lion and house cat would be in another kind, and the llama and camel in yet another kind. Today these species (i.e., llama and camel) look amazingly different, but they seem to have been generated after the Flood from information already present within their parent kind. Lions, coyotes, and dromedary camels were probably not on the Ark but were born to parents within the cat, dog, and camel kinds.
"...When addressing assumptions and presuppositions, which you imply that science is based on, shows me you do not quite understand science. It is a method that removes assumptions, as I described. The difference between science and creationists is that creationists are the only ones with a presupposition. They openly make this clear..."
Michael, are you claiming that scientists have no presuppositions at all? Did you read any of the paragraphs I wrote about scientific presuppositions? Here is a summary of what science presupposes in order to do science: 1) that his or her senses are reliable, 2) that light travels in an orderly way, 3) that the universe continually behaves in an orderly, logical way, otherwise, what good would any experiment be if the universe did not behave in a consistent, logical fashion? 4) There is also induction, which is a fundamental presupposition of science. Please logically show me how science has no presuppositions if that’s what you claim. Just saying the words “science presupposes nothing” does not prove anything.
...When I pointed out that creationists look for evidence to fit their particular views, you ignored that one too...

Michael, it’s hard to respond to sweeping generalizations without giving me an example to respond to.

...You also claim that the Bible is consistent and God makes the past consistent with the future. Again, this is based just on assumptions, but also incorrect since the Bible, as I explained is not consistent...

You have never made a case for the Bible being inconsistent. It is intricately consistent from Genesis to Revelation, actually.

...Future events cause changes in the Bible, such as the last verses of Mark (which I pointed out at the Promenade, but you curiously were quick to put the bible away and move on to a separate subject).

I agree, there is dispute over Mark 16:9-20 and whether or not it should be included in the New Testament.  It is found in many old manuscripts but is omitted in two of the earliest complete copies of the Bible known as the Vaticanus (350 AD) and Sinaiticus (375 AD). However, even if we removed those 12 verses from the Bible, it would in no way change the Bible’s message about sin, righteousness, judgment, salvation, etc., so it is really a mute point. The fact that this is an open fact and even mentioned in the Bible when you read it, shows that there is nothing trying to be hidden.

You might not think there is proof of supernatural beings, but I undoubtedly do. And you don't need proof, God has already given us all the proof we need. Romans 1 says: "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1:20-23.

1. the Messiah's ancestry, that He’d be born of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 22:18)
2.  of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10)
3. of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12f), etc.
4. The city in which He would be born (Micah 5:2),
5. that He’d come while the temple was still standing (Malachi 3:1),
6. that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14),
7. that He would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6),
8. that He’d be rejected by His own people (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7),
9. the precise time in history when He would die (Daniel 9:24-26; 483 years after the declaration to reconstruct the city of Jerusalem in 444 B.C. This was fulfilled to the very year.),
10. how He would die (Psalm 22:16-18, Isaiah 53; Zech 12:10),
11. that He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27-32),
12. and there are many more. All of these prophecies and hundreds of others have been literally fulfilled.
We have 25,000+ archaeological discoveries to support the people, places, customs and cultures mentioned in the Bible to give us confidence that it is a historically accurate book.

We have the amazing internal consistency of the Bible, a book written by 40 different authors from 3 different continents speaking 3 different languages over a period of 1600 years that is absolutely consistent from Genesis to Revelation. No human effort could produce that sort of consistency especially on subjects as controversial as heaven, hell, God, the meaning of life, morality, etc.

Furthermore, there are several instances of scientific foreknowledge in the Bible that preceeded the understanding of its time by more than 2000 years in some instances. This further points to the Bible's Divine Authorship.

For further evidence of the Bible's Supernatural origin and trustworthiness, please see the link here.

Michael, the Bible makes it clear that this is not an intellectual issue. The Bible makes it clear that God will give you over to a depraved mind if you do not repent of your sin and continue to refuse to believe in God and choose to willfully deny His existence and the forgiveness provided to you through Jesus Christ. Romans 1:28-32 says, "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

For God to give someone over to a depraved mind is a very scary place to be and hopefully something that you seriously consider. That is not a place I want you to be. I can provide you with evidence, arguments and reasons to believe in Jesus Christ but ultimately you won't ever believe in God or the Bible unless God, in his mercy, opens your eyes and mind to come to that place of belief. The Bible says that "God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble",  so my greatest encouragement to you would be to humbly come before God and ask Him to show you His truth. Confess your sins to Him, ask Him to save you from hell and put your trust in Jesus Christ's death on the cross as payment for the sins you have committed against God. When you do this, God will grant you everlasting life and begin to open your mind to the truth in His Word.

I hope and pray you take the time to consider the things I wrote in this response and don't just respond with empty arguments and criticisms. Why don't we spend some time focusing on Jesus Christ, the Bible, or God, since those are the things that really matter anyways.

I hope to hear from you soon.
"...Bible as your starting point to understand the world around us, you find that it is perfectly consistent with our experience and with reality" not quite, since we have no proof of any supernatural beings...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Follow up with Michael - The Importance of Presuppositions

This post is in response to the comments posted by Michael on his blog which can be found here.

 I think you misunderstood the main point of my last post. The first point I would like to address is where you say that we do not look at the same facts. Let me ask you a question: Do people that believe in Creation have a different set of fossils that they look at than the Evolutionists, or do we all have the same fossils to look at and observe? Do Creationists have a different solar system to observe than Evolutionists or is it the same one? Do Creationists observe different animals than Evolutionists? The answer is NO. We all have the same evidence, the same FACTS.

The difference is how we interpret the evidence which brings us back to the importance of presuppositions. This is a very important point that I don't think you understood so I will try to explain more clearly. I will get to your other questions eventually about created "kinds" and "information" but if we don't understand the importance of presuppositions in the way we interpret evidence we won't get very far. So, please bare with me on this topic for a while longer. 

You stated: "I have no presuppositions, I only go where the evidence takes me." This clearly shows me you don't quite understand presuppositions. You are presupposing (taking for granted) things right now that allow us to communicate. For instance, you assume this website accurately transmits what I type once I click "submit." You assume that what you read is exactly what I typed and the blogspot website didn't mess it up at all. That’s just a simple example. It might be easier if you try to think of your presuppositions as those things you take for granted.

Let me show you a few of the things you take for granted: your own existence, the reliability of your memory, your continued personal identity, moral laws, laws of logic, induction and many others. Most people assume all of these things but they don't stop and think about why they assume these things. All of the above presuppositions make complete sense from a Christian worldview but are problematic in non-Christian worldviews. I'll touch on this a bit later. 

When you speak of Science, there are a large number of critical presuppositions that are assumed in order to do science. In addition to those above, one must implicitly assume (presuppose) that his or her senses are reliable. What good would it be to perform experiments if my eyes could not accurately relay the results of that experiment. And what good would it be to have functioning eyes if light itself traveled erratically and inconsistently. So, we presuppose that light travels in an orderly way. We also presuppose that the universe continually behaves in an orderly, logical way, otherwise, what good would any experiment be if the universe did not behave in a consistent, logical fashion? Hopefully, you are now realizing just a few of the presuppositions that are rationally necessary for science to be possible.

Science also presupposes induction. This is fundamental to science. Suppose I set up an experiment and get a certain result. I expect that if I set up an identical experiment under identical conditions in the future I will get an identical result. But why should that be? Most people don’t stop to think about this; they just take it for granted (ie. they presuppose it is true). Why should it be that the future reflects the past in this way? In an atheistic, evolutionary worldview, there is absolutely no reason why we should expect this to be true. Evolution is a completely arbitrary, chance, random process which would give us no reason to assume things would behave in a consistent manner. In the Christian worldview, induction makes perfect sense and is consistent with what we experience, which is another reason why I trust the Bible.

Here is why...God (who is beyond time) upholds the universe in a uniform way, and has told us that we can count on certain things in the future. Genesis 8:22 says "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” So, I’d expect to get an identical result to an identical future experiment, since God upholds the future universe in the same way He upheld the past universe. But apart from the Bible, why should we assume that the future reflects the past? Since we’re all made in God’s image, we instinctively rely on induction. But how can you, a non-Christian, assume that the future will reflect the past according to your worldview? You might say, as others have said, “Well it always has,” but this doesn’t in any way mean that it likely will continue to be that way in the future unless we already knew that the future reflects the past. In other words, when a person says, “Well, in the past the future has reflected the past, so I’d expect that in the future, the future will reflect the past,” he’s using a circular argument. What you've done is assumed induction t be true in order to prove induction. This is “begging the question” and isn’t rational. How would you answer this question yourself?

The ironic part is that only the Christian can provide a rational explanation for the presuppositions necessary for science. A logical, orderly universe, a rational mind, reliable senses, mathematical axioms, induction, and logical laws are just a few of the presuppositions required by science that are provided by the Christian worldview, but which have no foundation in an evolutionary worldview. Hopefully, you are now becoming more aware of how the evolutionary scientist and creation scientist both have presuppositions that influence the way they interpret the same evidence. 

In particular, most scientists have certain presuppositions about earth's history that affects how they interpret things such as fossil layers, geologic formations, ages of rocks, etc. So although we have the same evidence and facts, they draw completely different conclusions. The problem (for the secular scientist) is that science itself is based on Christian presuppositions. Science is possible because God upholds the universe in a logical, orderly way and because God made our minds able to think and reason logically and made our senses able to perceive the universe. 

So, what I have tried to do is again show you that when you use the Bible as your starting point to understand the world around us, you find that it is perfectly consistent with our experience and with reality. People often try to push aside the Bible intellectually, but practically, it is unavoidable, because the very things we all assume to be true as human beings only make sense in light of the Christian view of God and the Universe.

You stated in your last response: "What I would ask of Jason: prove to me that everything we created in six days. Please provide all your data. If, however, all you have is bible quotes, you are in trouble." If, after reading above, you truly understand the nature of presuppositions and the role they play in how we interpret data, you will realize that our data is actually the same. Creation scientists don't have different data they use to conclude that the earth is young. It is the same data secular scientists have. In a later post, I will however, share with you some scientific data that supports a young earth and universe. Before we get there though, it is important you understand the nature of presuppositions.

Please let me know if you have any questions after reading this. Peace.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Encounter with Michael at 3rd Street

Recently, I went with some friends to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica to do some witnessing. We were out there for about 4 hours and had numerous opportunities to share the gospel with people. One man I spoke with, named Michael, engaged with me in a long conversation about the Bible, the Ten Commandments, History, Science, etc. We did not go into any depth on many subjects, but had a friendly exchange of ideas. Online, he is known as Feredir28 and took the time to start a blog so that we could continue our dialogue. This blog entry will be in response to his latest post here.

Dear Michael,
I appreciated meeting you and all the different topics we were able to discuss the other day at Santa Monica. Based on past experiences, a lot of these sort of conversations tend to go back and forth where I present some article or evidence to support my view and then the other person finds some evidence to support their view, all the while, nothing really fruitful or productive comes from it. The reason being is that you and I have the same evidence, the same facts. For example, we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same plants, the same animals, the same stars, planets, galaxies, etc. The difference is in how we interpret what we see around us based on our presuppositions. These are the things we assume are true, without being able to prove them. This is especially true when dealing with past events. I hope, by explaining the importance of presuppositions below, we can lay a framework for our conversation that will help it to be as fruitful as possible for the both of us, and not just a waste of your time or mine.

Being a history major, you know that all the facts we see around us exist in the present. When we look at fossil layers, where we came from, where animals came from, etc. we are trying to connect the past to the present. Since we weren't there to observe the past events how can we know what happened in order to explain the present? If we had a time machine, that would be great because we could go back and see for sure what happened in the past. As a Christian, I do, in a sense, have a "time machine", and this is the Bible. The Bible claims to be the Word of God, the God who has always been there, and has revealed to us the major events of the past about which we need to know. So I have an eyewitness account of the things that happened in the past where secular scientists do not, they are simply going on their assumptions about the past.

On the basis of the Biblical accounts of Creation, the Fall of man, the Flood, the tower of Babel, etc. I have a set of presuppsitions to build a framework for thinking and interpreting the way I see the evidence around us. As an evolutionist, you have certain beliefs about the past/present that you presuppose (ie. no God, or at least none that performed special acts of Creation), so you interpret the evidence we see different from me.

So, when a Christian and a non-Christian argue about the evidence, it is important to note that we are really arguing about our interpretations of the evidence based on our presuppositions. Because of this, dialogues like this often turn into something like:

Don't you see what I'm talking about?"
"No, I can't. Don't you see how wrong you are?"
"No, I'm not wrong, it's obvious I'm right."
"No, it's not obvious"...and on and on it goes without anything productive coming from it.

It is not until you and I realize that the argument is really about the presuppositions we start with that we will be able to deal with the foundational reasons for our different beliefs and really have some constructive dialogue. It is not until a person puts of a different set of glasses, so to speak, or changes one's presuppositions, that they will be able to interpret the evidence differently. So, as we move forward, I will ask you, for the sake of argument and discussion, to try and put on the Christian "glasses" or presuppositions (without accepting them as true) when looking at some of the evidence around us. I will do the same for you, assuming you are coming from an atheist or agnostic evolutionary perspective.

Now I know you do not believe the Bible, but I do. I believe it gives me the correct basis to understand ourselves, the universe and to correctly interpret the facts around me. To continue our discussion, I would like to start by giving you some examples of how building my thinking on the Bible explains the world around me and is not contradicted by science.

To start with, here is an example. In Genesis 1:11, 21, 24 and 25, God said that he would create all plants and animals in distinct kinds and to reproduce according to their kind. God actually reaffirms this statement 10 times in Genesis 1. Now, this is a foundational presupposition that I then use to build my thinking on the world around me. Now, with this presupposition in mind, let's look at what we observe in the present and see how it fits with what God's Word says.

Based on Genesis, we would expect to find that all plants and animals reproduce within a certain kind and that certain kinds of animals cannot reproduce with other kinds of animals. If we look at biology today, that is exactly what we find. We see that dogs reproduce with dogs, cats reproduce with cats, horses reproduce with horses, whales reproduce with whales, etc. We do not see cats reproducing with dogs or horses reproducing with elephants. Let's consider dogs for a moment. In November 2002 from the journal Science, secular scientists reported the following:

‘The origin of the domestic dog from wolves has been established … we examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation among 654 domestic dogs representing all major dog populations worldwide … suggesting a common origin from a single gene pool for all dog populations.’
Reference: Savolainen, P., Zhang, Y.P., Luo, J., Lundeberg, J. and Leitner, T., Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs, Science 298(5598):1610–1613, 22 November 2002.

From a biblical perspective, this means they are all within the same kind (one of the kinds that God created to reproduce ‘after their own kind’ as we read above from Genesis 1). Now, if all dogs are from the same kind then only two of the original dog kind were needed on Noah's Ark. Once these original dogs left the Ark and they reproduced, new species of dogs formed as they moved to different places on the earth, but they all remained dogs, nonetheless.

For instance, as they spread out over the earth, environmental factors influenced which specific species would survive based on their genetic traits. For example, as dogs migrated north into Alaska, all the long haired dogs would survive while all the short haired dogs would die off because the long-haired dogs were better suited for survival in a cold climate. After a few generations of long-haired dogs reproducing together, the genetic information to produce a short-haired dog would be lost. This is natural selection, which fits perfectly within the biblical framework. Similarly, the long-haired dogs that traveled south after leaving the Ark to the warmer climates would eventually die off and the short-haired dogs would survive. Again, the genetic information for long hair would have been naturally selected out of the gene pool due to the warm environment. However, the long haired dogs up north and the short haired dogs down south would still be dogs and able to interbreed with one another. This is an example of natural selection as well as speciation which are both scientifically verifiable and observable and were predicted thousands of years ago in the Genesis account of Creation.

An important point to learn here is that natural selection actually removes information from the gene pool (remember that after a few generations in cold climates the genetic information for short hair would be lost due to natural selection).This is precisely opposite of what needs to happen for molecules-to-man evolution to take place. To go from a single cell to a multi-cellular organism, vast amounts of genetic information need to be added to the gene pool. Most evolutionists use natural selection/speciation as evidence for molecules-to-man evolution but such changes have nothing to do with one kind of animal changing into a different kind of animal.

Now let me ask you to defend your position concerning the same subject. Based on your way of thinking, your presuppositions about the past, show me how your beliefs make sense of the same evidence. And please point out where my science and logic are wrong as well.

My overall goal, Michael, is to help you to see that God's Word can be trusted and that Jesus Christ is the Creator and Redeemer of all mankind. Also, my goal is to remind you that, like myself, you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, which your conscience testifies to when you look at God's moral law and that Jesus Christ is the only hope for you. He died on the cross for you, because of His great love, and commands you to repent and put your trust in Him alone to save you. Ultimately, I cannot convince you of this truth, nor is it my job to, only God can do that. But I care about you and will do whatever I can to help you on this journey.

My friend recently reminded me that the Bible doesn't attempt to prove that God exists. It simply speaks as though He does. I can try my best, but I might not be able to prove to you that God is real and has revealed himself through the person of Jesus Christ. What I can do is introduce Him to you through His Son Jesus Christ, and you can judge for yourself if the Words of Christ in the Bible convince you of His existence. You may be familiar with the following verses from Scripture:

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)

"And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

I look forward to hearing from you!