Category: Articles

Modern Day Denial

Modern Day Denial

Twitter: @DefendLikePaul

Not many of us really see denial loudly on display in public places. For those of us that do we’re tolerant to it because of fear. Fear of being perceived as politically incorrect. But what none of us are, is comfortable with it. I saw a tweet from Timothy Keller in my twitter feed a couple days ago, and I decided I was going to see what people had to say when I questioned them about the reason for their objections and support for Mr. Keller’s tweet. Now for those of you who don’t know who Timothy Keller is, he is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York and a scholar from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is also the author for the Library of Congress catalogued Apologetics book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it, especially for those who greatly enjoy any form of Apologetics.

What really caught me off guard about all of this, was that almost half of the replies to Mr. Keller’s tweet were from that of claimed Atheists who opposed God, and fellow believers who didn’t understand his tweet. As I began to question others, and explaining the meaning behind Mr. Keller’s tweet, some became upset at my questioning. As if I was infringing upon their rights in some way. The ironic thing is, I had just as much right to partake in conversation with them, as they did in replying to the tweet. In fact one user told me to “go create another fake account and stop harassing” them. Now don’t get me wrong, some did like my replies, and the line of truth on display but it came at a cost. You see we as Christians have to experiment so to speak, poking around at people questioning each other, helping each other discover and learn more about our reasons for faith.[1]

Have you ever perceived a question to be rude? If you did, what was the reason? Because they imposed on your private matters? Because it made you uncomfortable? I don’t want to burst too many bubbles, but isn’t that what Jesus told us to do, “…take up your cross and follow me.”?[2] Isn’t that what Jesus did when he challenged the Pharisee’s? He didn’t do it to be mean, he did it to help others be better. On the topic of comfort, I don’t remember reading or learning that Jesus got comfortable by getting into his Chevy Silverado with a cross attached to the trailer hitch, dragging it down the De La Rosa to Golgotha and waiting there to be crucified. No, he had to drag it after being beat so severely that someone else was commanded to help.

The thing is, we are told to “…test the spirits to see whether they are from God”[3] as well, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”[4] We aren’t putting anyone in harm, what we are doing is getting people to look below the surface of their reasoning and face what they believe.

When I was in high school my favorite band was from Massachusetts, they went by the name Have Heart. They had a line in one of my favorite songs of theirs titled “Armed with a Mind” that stated, “an unexamined life is a seed unplanted”. If we never ask ourselves or others for the reasons why they believe what they do, then we are ultimately letting them cripple themselves, and we never grow out of being a Baby Christian.

Now the information from Mr. Timothy Keller’s Twitter “experience” I am about to display will not be cited, due to the fact that I wish nothing but the best for those who opposed me in my questioning. But to share some of the replies I received:

“If a god existed, it would be obvious to everyone. There wouldn’t be hundreds of different religions all claiming they know who god is with such bad evidence. They’re all invisible after all right?”[5]

“It does not conform to reality and cannot be shown to be credible or valid. You realize that for example Moses did not even exist and neither the Passover. We’re not sure Jesus existed at best he was a nutcase end times preacher.”[6]

“You know what? I do chase money. I chase it all day because I work for a financial institution. So you are absolutely right. I do chase money and cars and whatever else people need because it’s my job. (Laughing until they cry emoji) Have a blessed life. (Deuces (Peace) Emoji)”[7]

What I could do is give you a list of responses to these questions and make it all as simple as possible to comprehend. Instead what I will do is give you something to think about. You are obviously at Apologetic Minds to do just that. So, question yourself? What hard reason do you have to believe in Jesus? What explainable event in your past have you seen Him work for the betterment of your life? Even when times were bad, what good did came of it? Even when someone wronged you, how were you able to grow from it? When these questions are answered honestly you have just armed yourself with undebatable truth. That can more than easily be found in scripture. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

We get so upset at the death. Why? Because that person is no longer here on earth with us? And we will never see them again? While the first one maybe factual, due to meta-physical reasons the second one is within our power to prevent. We can most certainly help them obtain an understanding of who Jesus Christ is so that they can receive salvation. To answer the question of why we get upset at death is this: my grand-mother, whom I called Nanny, passed away from Pancreatic Cancer the day after my eighteenth birthday. Now, cancer is a completely regressive thing, we watch our loved ones physically wither away, until they can’t fight anymore.

But, the whole idea of death was never supposed to be. It’s not a “natural” part of life as some claim it to be. The body was meant to rebuild, to take care of itself, much in the way that we take care of each other. As we see all through out Genesis, starting with “Adam’s life lasted 930 years”.[8] Then we see how Abraham’s life length greatly contrasted that of Adam’s “…175 years”.[9] The idea being portrayed here isn’t that calendars changed, or times got longer or shorter, what is being shown here is that as the times change, God graces us with more and more mercy, with each passing generation.

Think about it like this, death is the end of this life and the onward movement with Jesus into heaven. And the onward movement with Jesus is what he told us about “Don’t let your heart be troubled…In my Fathers house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you…I will come again and take you to myself so that where I am you may also be. You know the way to where I am going.”[10]

How I would recommend someone understand this in today’s culture:

Don’t worry about a thing my friend, in my Fathers country, which you understand to be heaven. You will have your own place there, I wouldn’t lie to you about this. Now, when I get there I am going to get everything set up and ready for you and when I come back, I will show you to your new home and I will show you where I live. Trust me, you know how to get there. Just follow me.

In fact, if you can understand what I am writing, and perceive how things make a little more sense, then you will fully grasp that it is my Holy Spirit allowed me to find correlations between today, scripture and the full weight of the truth of Jesus. It’s called cultural contextualization and in fact, Jesus was the one who invented it, with parables. Paul was fantastic at it when he discussed with Jews and Romans.

The thing is, it’s a form of Apologia, or in English, Apologetics. It’s called Experiential/Narrative Apologetics. In a reader’s digest fashion: the purpose of it is to be able to help others discover how their life fits into the Bible, and how the Bible with the correct “dynamic equivalence” of today, can be a very effective tool to help others discover Jesus.

So I encourage each and everyone of you, find a piece of scripture that you like and thing of all the ways that you can perceive it, because I promise, Jesus will show you how to turn it into a tool to “rubuke” modern day denial. If you find that you need help, find me on twitter and shoot me a message or tweet, or leave a comment on Apologetic Minds.

 

[1] Please, it’s a metaphor, don’t poke people. It’s not very nice.

[2] Matthew 16:24

[3] 1 John 4:1

[4] Proverbs 27:17

[5] This reply has been allowed to follow as closely to the original wording as possible because its coherence makes some sense.

[6] Out of the love I have for my Lord and Savior the grammar and competency of the reply has been cleaned up to make coherent sense. I can’t allow the amount of errors in the reply to be in an article like this.

[7] This person is a quoted believer of Jesus Christ. This is not to put them on blast, this is to show what can happen to “Baby Christians” with one foot in the world and one foot of the world. Same person that wished for me to “go create another fake account.”

[8] Genesis 5:5

[9] Genesis 25:7

[10] John 14:1-4

Can We Be Sure That Jesus Resurrected From The Dead?

Can We Be Sure That Jesus Resurrected From The Dead?

The Resurrection account of Jesus is the most important claim in all of the Christian faith. In fact, the very foundation that holds Christianity to be true lies on this very belief: that Jesus died a human death on the cross but was seen alive three days after. That is why, when many try to prove Christianity false, the resurrection of Jesus is immediately attacked. Some say that we have no reason to believe that the resurrection of Jesus occurred, let alone believe that he even existed. So how can we be sure that Jesus resurrected from the dead? If it were true that the resurrection is a man-made story, then all of Christianity comes crumbling down. However, if the resurrection of Jesus did occur, then it is the greatest event to have ever occurred on Earth that carries with it a very significant implication towards all of humanity.

Arguments Against the Resurrection 

For years the resurrection of Jesus has been attacked by both skeptics and other religions. Atheists say that the resurrection of Jesus is as true as Jesus himself – a false story made up by superstitious men. Some say that Jesus never existed therefore, the resurrection is just an extension of an already created lie in the person of Jesus. However, the attack on whether Jesus did exist is no longer a necessary debate since even Atheist scholars have concluded that it was very certain that Jesus did exist.

Atheist professor, Dr. Bart Ehrman, is a New Testament scholar, who has deeply studied the Gospels. He has concluded that whether we like it or not, Jesus did exist. “Despite the enormous range of opinion, there are several points on which virtually all scholars of antiquity agree. Jesus was a Jewish man, known to be a preacher and teacher, who was crucified (a Roman form of execution) in Jerusalem during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea.” (Did Jesus Exist? p.12) Although he does not believe that Jesus was God, he does believe, along with many other Atheist scholars that Jesus did exist in the past.

Some religions view Jesus as only a great teacher while other religions deny his life and work entirely. For example, Islam attacks the resurrection claim by stating that Jesus never died, instead he was hidden by Allah.

“And [for] their saying, ‘Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.’ And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (Surah 4.157)

But is the Qur’an stating a truth? It is safe to say that this verse is false due to the overwhelming amounts of evidence we have from external sources from the Bible, ranging from past historians Josephus and Tacitus (whose work dates within 70 years of Jesus’ ascension) to present scholars, both believers and nonbelievers, who are highly respected in their fields.

Why the Resurrection is Important

1. It is proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he performed miracles that would support his claim as not only being sent by God, but more importantly, being one with the father. Many of the religious leaders of that time continued to be skeptical and requested a greater sign that would prove that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

“The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-22)

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

Jesus’ death and resurrection was predicted by himself and would serve as a test to prove who he said he was and what he came to do for all of humanity. During the last 6 months of his ministry, he greatly emphasized the necessity of his death and resurrection. The resurrection was the sign to prove that not only was his ministry divinely appointed, but that he had the power to raise himself from the dead, a power only possessed by God himself.

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(Click Did Jesus claim to be God? to find out!)

2. We are no longer condemned by sin

The resurrection not only proved that Jesus was God, but that salvation has also come to all those who accept God’s free gift. Man has been given God’s forgiveness through the redemptive act of Jesus on the cross. This brought much joy to those who understood this at the time, rejoicing that Jesus, their Redeemer, lived! It was because the very law that condemned them, the law that no man on Earth could ever fulfill, was finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus and nailed, along with our sins, on the cross.

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Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection 

In the Gospel writings, one can sense the great confidence the writers had in sharing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These accounts were presented not as mere stories, but as historical recordings that hold biographical information of their Rabbi and Messiah. Luke opens his Gospel by writing:

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)

At the very beginning, Luke states the purpose behind his letter. Luke, who was known to be a physician, underwent a careful investigation of the life of Jesus in order to give an “orderly account” to his friend, Theophilus. Why did Luke feel the need to go through all of the work of creating this document? It was so that Luke can provide evidence to rid of whatever doubt Theophilus may have had about Jesus. That’s how important the Gospel was to Luke and his desire for others to know the truth.  The Gospels provide clear information that allows the reader to know the life of Jesus. However, there is another important letter that gives us further support for the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul records this Creed in his first letter to the church of Corinth when he writes, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) This is the formal statement of faith that guides how believers express their faith.

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The passage found in 1 Corinthians 15 holds the most important passage containing historical documentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Why is this passage so important? It’s because Paul is stating not only the Creed, but that there were over 500 people who saw Jesus crucified, buried, and alive again three days later! Even more, Paul was inviting those who doubted to speak to these witnesses “whom the greater part remain to the present.” It’s like trying to tell the story of the World Trade Center attack to someone who was born after the year 2001 and then encourage them to speak to hundreds of other people who were first-hand eyewitnesses to that very event.

Here are some more reasons why we should believe that Jesus did resurrect:

1. The Empty Tomb

The empty tomb was by far the most obvious yet also greatest evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. However, skeptics say that the tomb was empty because the disciples stole the body at night when no one was around to witness it. There are a number of problems with this belief:
First, the disciples were afraid for their lives. The only disciple who did not hide was John and one man alone could not pull off such a plan that if he could, would have been considered one of the greatest heists in history. Why? Because not only would he have to have the strength of Samson to remove the stone alone, he would have to confront the second problem to this believe which were the Roman guards.

Second, Roman guards were placed to watch the tomb. As soon as Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the stone rolled over, the Roman guards placed a seal on the tomb to make sure all knew that the punishment for breaking the seal was death (Matthew 27). The only thing the Roman guards knew was what they were taught to do since childhood which was fight, defend and kill. It was highly unlikely that the cowardly disciples, fishermen and tax collectors, had the skills to succeed in fighting the elite Roman guards.

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2. The Testimony of the Women

During that time, women were considered second-class citizens whose word did not receive any respect. They were not even allowed to testify in court for that reason. So then why would the Gospel writers include that it was women who found the tomb of Jesus empty? If they wanted to make up a story that would be more believable at the time, why didn’t they say that it was Peter who finally found the courage or John who never left Jesus’ side? The only obvious answer is that the writers were telling the truth when they said that it was the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty and had seen him alive. Since they wanted to give a real and honest account, they wrote down all that happened exactly the way it happened.

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3. The Martyrdom of the Apostles

The night Jesus was arrested, his disciples ran away fearing for their lives. When he was placed on the cross, the only disciple who did not care for his life and stood by his teacher’s feet was John. All of the others were afraid that they would suffer the same fate of their Rabbi. Even after Jesus’ body was removed from the cross and placed in the tomb, his disciples were nowhere to be found. The only ones with the courage to go to visit his tomb were the women.

Surprisingly a few days later, the disciples were then seen in public, preaching with greater authority the words of their teacher. They had come out from hiding in the dark to now being seen during the day, speaking to large groups of people. What could have transformed their fear into boldness in just a short period of time? It was because they had seen their Messiah alive.

1st Century Jewish Roman Historian Josephus records in his book the Antiquities:

“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive.” Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64

The disciples believed that they had seen their Christ alive after being crucified that they continued to dedicate their lives preaching the Gospel even to the point of death. All of the apostles, except John, were killed for not denouncing their faith in Jesus. We can reasonably conclude that the Apostles died for a truth that they believed in with all of their hearts for they had seen, talked to, and walked with the risen Jesus.

Image result for stefan lochner martyrdom of the apostles

4. The Transformation of James, Jesus’ Brother

James, Jesus’ brother, is an important piece of evidence. We know that he was an apostle who died for his belief that Jesus was and is the Son of God. But if almost all of the apostles died for their belief in Jesus, why is his story any more valuable? It is because James did not believe his brother, Jesus, was who he claimed until after seeing his resurrected body.

John chapter 7, verse 5 records, “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” Even worse, Mark records that James thought that Jesus was “out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21) It is clear that James did not believe in Jesus’ ministry since he was never mentioned as a disciple or one of the many who followed. So what could have changed James’ mind? It was because James saw his brother alive after witnessing his death on the cross! In fact, we see in Acts 1, that James is in the upper room with the rest of his family worshipping Jesus as God. James even refused to deny Jesus as his savior to the point of death by stoning. It appears that the resurrection was the only thing that could have changed James’ mind to the belief that his brother, Jesus, was the Son of God.

Conclusion

It makes it almost impossible not to believe in the resurrection of Jesus with all of the historical documentation and reasonable evidence we have today. As believers, knowing the evidence that supports the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not only vital to our own spiritual lives and the strength of our Christian faith, but also an indispensable part when it comes to sharing the Gospel. If belief in Christianity relies on such an important event, then we should be sure in what we know and how we can best share it with others. The skeptics may never disappear and the attacks may seem to increase over time, but as we continue to study scripture and the surmountable amounts of evidence that can support it, we can speak the words of the Apostle Paul with the same confidence, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) That “Day” which the Apostle speaks of is when we also will be resurrected to eternal life.

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” –Albert Einstein

In Matthew 18, Jesus commands his disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (NKJV, Emphasis added) This command, known as the Great Commission, is to spread the teachings of Jesus to everyone with the hope of providing the same complete joy one receives by realizing their purpose and meaning in life. Unfortunately, this command seems to be more difficult to achieve today not because of the unwillingness of people to share the gospel but rather the unwillingness of people to accept it.

Evangelism today seems much harder than it did in the past. More than ever, the church has seen a greater resistance among people who do not want to give the time to listen to the gospel. Conversations may be harder to establish because as soon as Christianity is mentioned, some dismiss it immediately as if it were complete and utter nonsense. This reason is because of the belief that science and faith are incompatible and that science has proven Christianity false.

Faith through the Christian Lens

When the word “faith” is used to describe one’s belief in the Bible or God, one does not mean that it is the belief of something that lacks existential evidence but rather the total opposite. This faith is founded on evidence that is reasonable and logical. I know that some cannot clearly articulate their reasons and less, some do not have the education to provide a reasonable explanation but that does not mean that no evidence exists to support the Christian faith.

In fact, the Apostle Paul did not preach blind faith but rather taught with reason to those who listened. “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:2, 3, emphasis added) In respect to the resurrection, Paul used the accounts of first-hand eye witnesses, of both Christians and non-Christians, to corroborate the resurrection conclusion. In other words, many came to believe in Jesus for the reasons and evidence given to them along with the confirmation of miraculous signs.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge through observation that gives the best explanation for the natural world and events that occur within the natural world. This same systematic approach is taken to make sense of the Bible, more so, the existence of God. Whether it be the explanation for the cosmos or the creation of man, science is actively involved in theology. Amazingly, the great scientific discoveries of today can be used to soundly argue for the existence of a supernatural being and key historical accounts of the New Testament.

Science and Christianity Can Coexist

There is a huge misconception that science and faith are incompatible. Some feel that the Christian faith is no longer needed because science can now explain all natural phenomena and that believers just fill in the gaps with God. (God-of-the-Gaps Article) However, there is a great number of highly-academic scientists and philosophers, respected in their fields, who hold true to the belief that science does not dismiss God. To name but a couple of such people is Dr. John Lennox, mathematician of Oxford University, and Dr. Joel Primack, an American Astro-physicist who co-developed the cold dark matter theory that explains the formation and structure of the universe. These men, along with other brilliant men and women, have dedicated their lives to science and have shown how science has brought light to the necessary belief for God’s existence in order to best explain the birth and development of our natural world.

Albert Einstein, the great mind of the 20th century, said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The definition of lame is to be unable to walk normally because of an injury or illness. Without religion, science would lose its ultimate meaning of finding the truth because science can only test what is in the natural world where as the metaphysical would still be a mystery. In fact, the story of science and faith is more complicated to skeptics because scientists cannot escape the question of God. On the other hand, religion receives further light and support when science is involved to help explained the laws that govern our world.

In his book, Stealing from God, Dr. Frank Turek makes a convincingly sound case about how atheists would have to steal from the immaterial world in order to provide some explanation for the material world. Dr. Turek makes reference to Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule in 1953, and his book, The Astonishing Hypothesis, to bring to light a strong belief within the atheist community. “While you may think that you are a conscious, free, rational creature, that’s just an illusion, because you really are no more than a molecular machine. Every thought you have, every decision you make, is the result of chemical and physical processes over which you have no control. God does not exist. You are nothing more than a collection of molecules.” (Turek, 2015) If left alone, materialism cannot explain the beginning of the universe let alone the ability to think or rationale if we are just all molecules in motion. With religion, science receives more validity and value in its explanation while Christian faith benefits by further correlating its truth with the natural world.

Apologetics: Today’s Evangelism

The Apostle Peter wrote in one of his letters that we should “always be prepared to provide a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us].” (1 Peter 3:15) In this same manner, as believers of the truth, we should always be ready to give a clear explanation as to why we believe what we believe. Experiences and personal testimonies help to strengthen other believers and at best can promote curiosity in others to want to “test the waters.” But the best way to give a proper apologia is by correctly stating the facts.

To effectively evangelize, one should know what they are talking about. Spend some time researching the common misconceptions people have about Christianity and the Bible. Get to know why people find it difficult to accept the Gospel as a true historical account and present them with the reasons that corroborate the validity of the New Testament and why God is the best explanation for the creation of the cosmos. Many of the reasons why people discredit the Gospel is because they have only been presented with a one-sided science that purposely contradicts what the Bible actually teaches. Our job should be to present the truth of scripture and allow the recipient to decide what to do with the evidence provided.

Most important, evangelism should be done with love and patience. Far from a debate, evangelism should be a rich dialogue where the believer can clearly state reasons why they believe the Christian faith to be the true faith and how it perfectly fits in, not only with history and contemporary science, but with their own personal values and lifestyle. The morals that Jesus teaches are those of humbleness and care for our neighbor, teaching that we can all agree are beneficial to all of society.

Conclusion

Science is the means by which we can make sense of the world around us. Through observation and deep study we can separate the truth from what is false. This innate process by which we exercise on a daily basis shows humankind’s insatiable desire to find answers not only about how the world works but the purpose and meaning behind it. Some say that there is no meaning to life, that we are just animals living our part of the life cycle Earth permits us to live. Fortunately for those who hold true to the evidence that anchors the Christian faith, we see that the other side of science points us to something greater, something more beautiful than what the naked eye has ever seen. Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” For the believer it is that faith along with evidence that shows us how to fully experience that mystery who is willing to reveal Himself to us.

Reference:
Turek, Frank. (2015) Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Why God Is The Best Explanation For The Material World

Why God Is The Best Explanation For The Material World


In 2009, Dr. William Lane Craig, a philosopher and theologian, debated Dr. Lewis Wolpert, a British developmental Biologist, at the Reasonable Faith Tour at the University of Central Florida. During the Q&A, Dr. Craig reasons his belief for the existence of God by using evidence for the beginning of the universe. Dr. Craig argues that the source that created the universe must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial since these were not present before the creation of the universe. Dr. Wolpert sarcastically attempts a counter-argument by creating an imaginary, all-powerful, self-creating computer to refute Dr. Craig’s conclusion drawn by the use of modern scientific evidence.

A portion of the original transcript, Is God a Delusion debate [1]:

DR. WOLPERT: But because there is a beginning doesn’t imply a God.
DR. CRAIG: It does if the first premise is true; that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It logically follows.
DR. WOLPERT: Yeah, but the cause doesn’t have to be God.
DR. CRAIG: Well, remember I gave an argument for thinking that this cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, enormously powerful, and personal.
DR. WOLPERT: I think it is a computer.
DR. CRAIG: Well, computers are designed by people.
DR. WOLPERT: No, no. This is a self-designing computer.
DR. CRAIG: Ah-ha.
MODERATOR: Timeless!
DR. WOLPERT: Timeless!
DR. CRAIG: Well, that is a contradiction in terms.
DR. WOLPERT: Why? What is contradictory about it?
DR. CRAIG: A computer has to function. It takes time.
DR. WOLPERT: No, this is a special computer.
DR. CRAIG: Yeah, but it has to be logically coherent.
DR. WOLPERT: Oh, it is logically coherent.
DR. CRAIG: Yes, you have to be logically coherent.
DR. WOLPERT: Oh, no, this computer is amazing!
DR. CRAIG: No. Besides, it would have to be, as I said, a personal being.
DR. WOLPERT: No.
DR. CRAIG: A computer is a physical object.
DR. WOLPERT: Not this computer, oh no!
DR. CRAIG: OK, see what you are doing is you are actually, what you are calling a computer is really God. A non-physical . . . it is just another word if you rob it of all the attributes that make it a computer. (emphasis added)

For the short clip, follow this link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1DdX0MhnWA

Although Dr. Wolpert was aiming to poke fun of the argument and at the same time try to ridicule Dr. Craig, he fell right into his own making by further proving the qualities needed of the source that created the universe. The moderator then suggests that Dr. Wolpert would have to prove his position, which he responds, “No, I don’t have to prove. I have to admit ignorance.”

The Law of Causality

It is impossible for any logical mind to accept that something materialistic could come into existence without a cause. The law of causality, simply put, states that the existence of all matter is contingent upon another material source. But even besides the understanding of this law, we are all witnesses of the creation of both biotic and abiotic materials around us. New cells derive from preexisting cells. New born babies become fully developed by the physical expression of the genetic information received from two parents, male and female. The formation of dark, nimbostratus clouds will eventually lead to precipitation over wide areas. These are but only a few of the many examples supporting causality.

The Unmoved Mover

It appears to me that the more we increase in knowledge through the discoveries of science, we find ourselves inevitably drawn to a greater source, a greater explanation that best fits the answer to our question of the origin of all matter. I believe this source to be God. Although no one can know God in his complete revelation, we have very good reasons – both direct and indirect – that make it highly plausible for anyone to reasonably accept the existence of an all-powerful being.

One direct example that holds much weight towards the belief of God’s existence is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. In simple terms, the CMBR is the afterglow left behind by the Big Bang. This glow was accidently discovered in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. These scientists detected this radiation on their antenna at Bell labs located in Holmdel, New Jersey. After further study, they discovered that “this afterglow is actually light and heat form the initial explosion. This light is no longer visible because its wavelength has been stretched by the expanding universe to wavelengths slightly shorter than those produced by a microwave oven. But the heat can still be detected.” (Turek, 2004)

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

What is even more amazing is that even before its accidental discovery, a number of scientists predicted that the existence of this radiation must be present if the Big Bang actually occurred. Once discovered, this evidence, along with others, further strengthened the theory of a universe that is not past-eternal but instead, has a cosmic beginning.

Conclusion

As logical thinkers, we should study the evidence and if proved reasonable, follow it wherever it may lead. Just because a conclusion does not fit my personal expectation or belief, it cannot be made any less valid. Dr. Wolpert is more willing to dismiss the evidence and admit ignorance rather than further investigate with an objective mind to verify the information provided throughout the debate and follow it to its conclusion. This is a clear example of how one, no matter how much proof and reasoning provided, will believe only what they want to believe in order to live the reality that they have created for themselves.

Sources

1. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/debate-transcript-craig-vs-wolpert-2009#section_9
2. Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. 81-82. Print.

How did the first life originate?

How did the first life originate?


One of the greatest questions continuously asked is that of the origin of life. It is impossible to imagine that life on Earth always existed and does not have a beginning, therefore, we inquire to develop a reasonable explanation about how the first life formed on Earth.

In order to discover an explanation that is both plausible and coherent, we need to refer to scientific skills of experimentation and inquiry to come up with the best hypothesis. At the same time, we must not ignore scientific laws such as the law of biogenesis. This law states that all life must come from preexisting life. In other words, the cells that make you a multi-cellular organism came from cells carrying genetic information from each one of your parents. Without your parents’ cells, you would not be alive today reading this article.

All life on Earth shares common characteristics. One of the characteristics of life is that all living things come from preexisting organisms. All cells, even our own, come from preexisting cells. The process of mitosis ensures that cell nuclei divide in order to create offspring with identical genetic material resulting in the continuation of that life form or species. So the question arises: if all organisms came from preexisting organisms, then how did the first organism come into existence?

When one thinks about this question, it seems as if we slam right into a wall, for if all things are contingent of preexisting forms of life, then how did the first life originate at all? We know that organisms are not eternal and have a point of existence; it is essential for the code of life, DNA, to be present for life to even begin to take form.

Hypothesis Formulated

In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment known today as the Miller-Urey experiment which led to the Primordial Soup hypothesis. These two scientists simulated the believed conditions of Earth prior to the existence of photosynthetic organisms. Without the constant process of photosynthesis, Earth’s environment lacked the presence of oxygen. Miller and Urey used water vapor, methane, ammonia and hydrogen and introduced a “sparks” of electricity that would then form amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are extremely important to the creation and sustenance of living things. In fact, Enzymes, the protein catalysts of our bodies, are essential for many if not all life processes. So having created amino acids, Miller and Urey’s experiment seemed to have proved that life can arise from nonliving, inorganic elements.

So what is the problem?

The conditions that Miller and Urey created for the experiment were not the exact same conditions thought to be present on early Earth. Not only did Miller and Urey introduce gases that are highly thought of by the scientific community to have not been present in early Earth, their experiment contained a simulation of lightning that did not present a justifiably believed spark that would be present in early Earth. Not only would real lighting have destroyed any amino acids that may have been present, if they had not separated the amino acids once they were made, then it is possible that more lightning would have changed the properties of those same molecules.

Which came first: protein or DNA?

DNA, which stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid, is the chemical blueprint for life. Its four nitrogen bases which serve as letters, code for the physical traits found in an organism. In order for a DNA strand to form, proteins are needed. Proteins are an important part to DNA synthesis and replication, yet the information for protein synthesis is found only in DNA. Amino acids, the subunits of proteins, do not hold the information for life, DNA does. This fact brings us back to the age-old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? It is rational to believe that a DNA molecule, that is rich in its own genetic code, no matter how simple, would have to exist before any complex life forms.

Today we have scientists stating that DNA was not necessary for the origination of life but rather it may have been RNA, ribonucleic acid, which was created first. The reason presented to us is that it appears that the RNA molecule does not need the same assistance that DNA requires for replication. Still, this fails to show any real answer since RNA still requires protein functioning to help assemble its own genetic code, showing that this information would have to be initially found in RNA.

In his book, The Signature of the Cell, Dr. Stephen Meyer explains how RNA would still need an input of information to begin its process of replication. “The information contained in an English sentence or computer software does not derive from the chemistry of the ink or the physics of magnetism, but from a source extrinsic to physics and chemistry altogether. Indeed, in both cases, the message transcends the properties of the medium. The information in DNA also transcends the properties of its material medium.” Scientists felt that they had a moment of eureka when able to create an RNA molecule that was capable of replicating ten percent of its own information. The very obvious issue in this lies not only in the fact that the RNA molecule was programmed with an initial sequence in order to begin replication but the information had to be programmed by scientists with minds.

So what is the best conclusion?

The Primordial Soup and RNA replication experiments show not only a manipulation of settings to render certain results that scientists have presupposed before experimentation, but that without their own intelligent involvement, desired products cannot be self-formed nor self-replicated. Ironically, many non-theists claim that the scientific community of faith is guilty of the God-of-the-Gaps fallacy, yet it seems they find themselves in greater error having accepted a larger lack of evidence to unjustly support and accept their own hypotheses. As scientists, we must follow the evidence wherever it may lead and in this case, the biological evidence available today leads to the belief that an Intelligent Mind is necessary for the explanation of complex information leading to the formation of complex life forms.

Free Will: Real or Illusion

Free Will: Real or Illusion


Does free will exist? “Of course,” you say, “after all, I chose to read this article.” Fair enough. Free will seems to be such an essential part of our daily experience that it’s almost unfathomable to think that anyone would even question it’s real existence in the life of a human. Isn’t our day loaded with decision making at every point from the moment we open our eyes in the morning?

• Should I peel myself out of bed and head to work now (I so should!), or should I hit the snooze button and desperately cling to that extra half-second of sweet sleep?
• Cereal or a bagel? (There’s no time!)
• Iron a shirt or risk going wrinkled? (I’ll just throw on a nice sweater over the shirt!)
• Obey the speed limit or break the law? (I’m late to work!)

From the very trivial, to the very serious, the human experience seems to bare evidence that we are all endued with a powerful thing called free will. So why do people question its reality? The reason is because free will isn’t a peaceful ocean that is easy to navigate; it is a difficult concept when one considers some complexities. But first things first…

Defining Our Terms

First, by “free will”, I mean the power of contrary choice, namely, the genuine ability to choose one thing over another genuine option. Those who believe that man is a free agent believe that man’s choices are free and not necessary. By “necessary” I mean that man cannot do otherwise. In other words, when I ask if a person possesses free will, what I am asking is if he or she is a free agent, does he or she have to ability to make real choices. This may sound like a no-brainer, to use an Americanism, but the fact of the matter is that even among those who respond in the affirmative (i.e., man is definitely a free agent and makes decisions according to that ability he or she has to choose one thing over another) there are limitations and boundaries, all sorts of qualifications, that are set in place. Man is not free to choose to breathe under water without the aid of an invented apparatus, and if he attempts to do so, man would not be free to bypass the miserable consequences of such an attempt. What this means is that from the very beginning of any conversation about this, one must understand that nobody is referring to an absolute and unlimited free will whereby a human may do whatsoever he or she pleases without restraints of any kind. It is silly to somehow attempt to defeat the concept of free will by proving that man cannot violate the laws of gravity even if he wanted to, or that there are consequences to the choices we can make. The existence of free will is not refuted by the mere indicating that dropping a heavy stone on a gentleman’s head will put me in jail. Free will has its limitations – biologically, governmentally, socially, etc. All proponents of free will understand this and that is why at the outset I want to assert that what we are here discussing is free will as it pertains to what is logically possible to human beings, primarily, our moral choices.

Different Views

Those who believe that free will does not truly exist for humans can be divided into a few categories. Perhaps the main one here is the perspective of those who believe in a sort of fatalism, in which a metaphysical power/force moves all things to the end that this same power/force has determined. These fatalists do not believe in free will per say. Everyone is simply making choices he or she cannot avoid – i.e., his or her actions are not free, but necessary. Because the way in which words are used evolves over time, it is not a surprise that even fatalism can have spin-off concepts that are completely devoid of any metaphysical concept. Take, for example, Dr. Richard Dawkins, who believes that every person is basically pre-programed to do what he or she does.

Among those who deny free will, are the Calvinists. To be fair, Calvinists would take issue with me by stating this. From their perspective man is free but he is only free to do evil; it is common grace that restrains man from unleashing the full torrent of wickedness in his heart. Understood. One must allow Calvinists to state their own case. However, a key tenant in Calvinism is the idea that God has predestined absolutely everything that comes to pass. In this worldview, popularly called Divine determinism, man’s free will is simply an illusion because man is acted upon (by God). The only free will that exists in this view is God’s free will; every other will is subordinated to what God has predestined before the foundation of the world.

For the sake of time space, let me narrow the complex conversation down to the key topic. I come from the perspective that free will does indeed exist. It is part of being human and God has given it to us. The remainder of this article is dedicated to what I call “The Three B’s” of free will – the Beauty, the Blessing, and the Burden of Free Will.

The Beauty

How can one not find the most exquisite beauty in free will? More than cascades of glimmering water that lunge into the immovable boulders below, more than the golden rays of the sun as it disperses the night, more than fragile fields of roses that softy wave their colorful petals as they dance with the breeze, more than anything in nature, a human’s free will depicts the glorious love of God. This is because, for all the breathtaking beauty one can find in the sea, in the sky, or in the fields, none of it emanates beauty by choice. In his well-written pamphlet, Thoughts Upon God’s Sovereignty (1777), John Wesley puts it this way:

“[God] cannot reward the sun for shining, because the sun is not a free agent. Neither could he reward us for letting our light shine before men, if we acted as necessarily as the sun. All reward, as well as all punishment, presupposes free agency; and whatever creature is incapable of choice is incapable of either one or the other”

This paves the way for why free will is indeed a beautiful thing. Free will is what makes LOVE worth anything in relationships.

If your girlfriend gives you a kiss, what do you feel? Do you not feel loved? Suppose you had the power to control your girlfriend. Suppose you decided when she would give you a kiss, how she would give you the kiss, how long the kiss would last, what she would feel as she gave you a kiss, etc. Would the kiss still matter? I suppose it can. However, I would hate to be kissed by anyone and know in the back of my mind that that person ultimately had no real say in the matter. I use the word “ultimately” because one can get into weird semantics that could possibly demonstrate that at some point she did have a say in the matter. However, if I controlled every minute detail of the whole process, passion, result, etc. of the kiss, I one could hardly believe she had a say in the matter. You get the point.

What makes romance special is free will – the power of contrary choice. Your boyfriend did not HAVE to buy you that candy; your girlfriend did not HAVE to make you that cup of tea when you were sick; your friend did not HAVE to spend time with you watching that movie… On and on we can think of countless examples of what makes love (romantic or otherwise) meaningful.

I think this is what the Bible is trying to communicate when it says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8) The point is that God did not HAVE to save us. There was nothing in us that He should love us or choose us. That is meaningful because God has free will; He could have chosen to not save us. As creatures made in the Imago Dei, we have this beautiful thing called free will as well.

The Blessing

Free will is a blessed privilege we enjoy, one that inanimate objects to not experience. Rocks and stones do not love. The waves of an ocean do not delight in the wind. But we humans can savor the sweet honey of someone’s love. Is this not a blessing? Free will may seem to be an abstract concept to some individuals. However, liberty is closely related to free will and, while some may not be able to appreciate the notion of free well, the notion of liberty most certainly resonates with them.

James Otis gave a speech against the Writs of Assistance in February of 1761. Writs of Assistance were written orders (i.e., a writs) issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official to investigate someone’s property. Basically, it was a general search warrant. However, Great Britain began to enforce these Writs of Assistance against the colonies by 1760. The way they were practiced was very unfair because any law enforcement official that had these Writs of Assistance could arbitrarily search anyone’s house. This law was abused in many ways; the individual doing the search was not even responsible for any damage he caused while searching. Moreover, any official with a Writ of Assistance could demand to go through your property without having to offer a valid and detailed explanation as to why. I can’t imagine some government official surprising me at my house and breaking things open, making a mess, and damaging things in the process. This is what continually happened in colonial America. Among other things, these Writs of Assistance were one of the factors that pushed the colonists toward a revolutionary war. One of my favorite lines in James Otis’ speech is as follows:

“Now one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle.”

I think the quote says a lot about as to the notion of liberty in colonial times.

Imagine such a thing. A man’s house is indeed his castle. James Otis and the founding fathers of the United States of America understood the sacredness of something so simple as a person’s house. What could we say about the sacredness of a person’s will? Is it not an incalculable blessing to be able to love out of your free will as opposed to loving out of obligation or coercion?

The Burden

A wise character from a Marvel superhero film once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” He was right and free will is no different. Free will is beautiful. Free will is a blessing. But free will is a burden; it is a dangerous sword to wield, one that got our primitive first parents (and their posterity) in a load of trouble. Someone once said that everybody has more or less freedom – more before marriage and less afterward. However, Adam and Eve enjoyed freedom and a wonderful marriage. It was the lamentable misuse of that God-given freedom that brought a curse upon the earth and the whole human race.

George Whitefield, the legendary preacher of the 18th century, preached a great sermon entitled, The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent. Look at his comments about what transpired in Eden:

“Never was nature more lively delineated. See what pride Adam contracted by the fall! How unwilling he is to lay the blame upon, or take shame to himself. This answer is full of insolence towards God, enmity against his wife and disingenuity in respect to himself. For herein he tacitly reflects upon God. ‘The woman that thou gavest to be with me.’ As much as to say, ‘If thou hadst not given me that woman, I would not have eaten the forbidden fruit.’ Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon their passions, then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those passions”

That is truly a fantastic insight. Suppose Adam, when called to give an account to God (Genesis 3:9, 11), had responded that he had no free will. Would such a response be valid? What would God have responded to such a claim? I doubt God would have bought it.

The possession of free will – that is, being a free agent – is a marvelous burden. I once was lovingly challenging a dear sister to repent of her bad attitude. She was easily angry, easily offended, and would tell people off. Frustrated with the things I was saying, she finally lifted her hands and shouted, “Well, if God wants me to be different He is going to have to take away my bad attitude Himself!” Fair enough. God actually wants to change us. But here’s the thing: God has decided to make creatures in His image, creatures that act, not creatures that are merely acted upon. We have a free will and we are responsible to use it for the love of God.

All in all, the topic of free will is one that branches out into endless subjects. At the very core of the way the Bible approaches this topic is the conclusion that every one of us will give an account for how we used our free will. Certainly, every one of us is born with a damaged will, one that is inclined to sin. We love darkness rather than light. Some Christians are experts at highlighting man’s inability to respond to God’s call. They believe God must regenerate man in order to exercise any good will toward God. However, if this is the case, then God can never rightly judge man since man is only responsible if he is response able.

Did Jesus claim to be God?

Did Jesus claim to be God?

Recently I bumped into an old friend that I had not seen for many years. Our friendship began in church where his father would regularly bring him to participate in the youth events at that time. Upon catching up with each other, he mentioned to me that he is no longer a Christian but had decided to convert to Islam due to the “false” information found in the Bible. When I asked him what was one of the leading points that drew him away from Christianity he quickly answered that “Jesus never claimed to be God.”

I was a bit perplexed and taken back with his response because I believe that are so many sources made readily available to the public to easily understand that belief to be false. I asked him to study the Gospel of John believing that he would see that what drew him away in reality was incorrect. He quickly responded with the notion that “those were John’s words writing about Jesus.” He was simply stating that we could not verify that Jesus actually said those words since that was written by someone else rather than Jesus Himself, therefore they could not be proven true.

Clearly, someone who has read and studied the Bible would not claim such a thing. I was saddened to see how my old friend’s answers were so unjustifiably wrong and naïve and even more saddened to see that he would allow himself to be so easily deceived into accepting claims without conducting the right research through reliable, unbiased sources. If one truly studies scripture, they will see that Jesus never denied His identity but rather further confirmed his deity in many ways.

Image result for Great I Am

Jesus: The Great I AM

When Moses was before the burning bush and asked who should he say sent him to free the Israelites, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me.” (Genesis 3:14) In fact, in the next verse, God tells Moses that I AM will forever be His name and even until today, God’s people identify Him as I AM. It is a name that is considered extremely holy and reverent.

Now with that in mind, let us consider what occurred in the gospel of John 8. In this passage, Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders of his time, questioning His authority:

53“Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:53-58, emphasis added)

Jesus did not answer in a manner to hide His identity. By Jesus stating that Abraham was waiting to see His day, He was explaining that His existence did not begin with His physical birth but instead specified His eternality. In verse 58, He uses “I am” not to show some existence in a particular time, but rather His identity, the same I AM that was used by God to reveal Himself to Moses and the Israelites. In this part of scripture, we can see how Jesus identifies Himself as the Great I AM, the eternal name of God.

Image result for jesus one with the father

Jesus: One with the Father

The disciples walked with Jesus for approximately 3 years. During this time, they witnessed the many miracles performed by Christ (yet, another proof of His deity). On one occasion, Jesus spoke to His disciples telling them that if they know Him, they know the Father. Phillip responds with a request asking Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9) Many have taken this verse and given it a meaning that is not a correct interpretation. Some have said that Jesus is simply telling His disciples that His actions give a better understanding to God’s nature. Jesus’s humility, goodness and mercy are those that the Father has and therefore, the disciples can see the Father in Him. That is partially true but not the main point found in the verse. Jesus is once again asserting His identity by showing, not only His relationship with the Father, but even more His divine nature as God.

In John 10, Jesus states that He gives eternal life, something that all Israelites knew that only God could do, and those that receive this eternal life are in His Father’s hands. But in verse 30, Jesus says, “I and My Father are one.” It is plain to see that Jesus is claiming that He and the Father are equal, similar and the same. These verses, and many more, show that Jesus never hid His identity but would make it known through His words and actions that He is God. The Jews clearly understood what Jesus meant when purposely using such words. In fact, in John 8:33, the Jews intended to stone Jesus for clearly understanding His claim of deity, His claim to be God.

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John: An Eyewitness to Jesus

When I was told that these verses do not provide any justification because it was John who wrote them in his gospel and not Jesus, I found that to be a very big contradiction on his part. First, if my friend could not believe John, being an eye witness to Jesus’s life, ministry and miracles, then how could he believe another source that had no encounter with Christ? John’s gospel was written about 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection while the Quran was believed to have first been revealed 600 years later and then written a few decades after by a number of people who claim to have memorized different parts of Mohammed’s revelation.

Second, John, along with the other disciples and witnesses, were all willing to die for what they believed. All of the disciples, except John, are believed to have all been martyred for their faith. Why would someone die for something they knew was a lie? Even more, this does not explain why the many disciples and other followers were willing to die (and many did die) for their belief. If it were not true, many would have denied Jesus knowing that it would save their lives and the lives of their families and friends. So why admit to it, knowing that it would certainly lead to death? It had to have been true if they were willing to die for it.

Jesus himself said that He is the Bread of Life, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Light of the world. The Jews knew that such descriptive claims were only unique to and reserved for God the Father, so as Jesus used these metaphors as declarations about Himself, He was not shying away from telling others who He was but rather giving a clearer description of who He is and why we should believe in Him as God.

The Complexity of the Cell to the Existence of God

The Complexity of the Cell to the Existence of God


The human body is the most sophisticated and awe-inspiring system that exists on Earth. It is made up of thousands of individual sub-systems that are important to its homeostatic balance. Organs like the brain, heart and lungs are but a few of the major parts that allow for our body to adapt and survive in many different environments. The brain controls the palpitations of the heart which sends blood all throughout the body. The blood carries the oxygen received by the lungs and nutrients to all of the organs. Amazingly, this is just a few of the many processes that the human body must perform in order stay alive. Just when we try to wrap our minds around the beautiful complexity of the human body, we are left in even greater awe when we begin to look at the building blocks: the cell.

The cell is the smallest, basic unit of life and makes up all living things. Our bodies are made up of tens of trillions of cells and each one performs tasks that are necessary for life. All cells metabolize, grow and reproduce but some carry out specialized jobs. Neurons are nerve cells that carry messages within the brain. Muscle cells are cylindrical cells of banded fibers that allow for contraction and movement. Leukocytes, (i.e., white blood cells) fight off pathogens to keep the body healthy. The cell, along with the human body, is amazingly complex and leads many to question its origin and development. How did something so complex come into existence? Was it designed by an intelligent mind or was it all by chance and randomness?


The above is a white blood cell attacking a pathogen (i.e., bacteria)

Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins believes that “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” [1] He agrees that all life, including the cell, is a very complex system but that it only appears to have been designed that way. Dawkins openly shares that evolution is the only explanation for the complexity of the cell and that belief in an intelligent designer is mere superstition and ignorance.

William Paley, an 18th century philosopher and Christian apologist, contributed greatly to the teleological argument for the existence of God. This argument states that there must be a designer since the universe and organisms show marks of design. In his book, Natural Theology, he introduces the watchmaker argument to give reason to the belief that there is an intelligent designer:

“In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there: I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever; nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given,—that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case, as in the first? For this reason, and for no other, viz. that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e. g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it.” (Chapter 1)

We can plainly see the importance and strength of Paley’s argument to God’s existence. If anyone were to come across something as complex as a watch, any reasonable and sincere person would admit that it could not have been constructed solely by time, chance and natural physical laws. We know that someone competent and with a purposeful plan created this watch. All of its parts are necessary in order for it to fulfill its purpose. In fact, if any major part were to disappear, then the watch could not work and will lose its very purpose of providing one with time.

Another example that proves Paley’s point is the carving of the four presidents’ faces on Mount Rushmore near South Dakota. No genuine person could claim that such a carving could ever occur by natural forces in rock formation. It took Doane Robinson and professional sculptors 14 years to see this national attraction realized. If it is difficult to even conceive in the mind that this sculpture formed by chance, then it should be easy to dismiss the same probability of the cell being formed by the same means.

Imagine how much more meaningful these examples are to the development of a cell. Without its nucleus, the brain of the cell, it could no longer replicate nor reproduce successfully. Without mitochondria—the organelle that provides the cell with energy—it would no longer be capable of carrying out any process and be just as useful as an iPhone with no battery. Even greater, humans could not live without a missing brain or heart just as a car cannot run without a motor. In this same way, random molecules cannot form something as detailed as the cell by random atomic bonding. Billions of years and left alone to the natural laws of physics would not take natural materials and form them into complex organisms; this reason begs us to understand that it could not have just originated by the combination of chance and physical laws. Even belief in its “evolution” would have to provide answers to questions about its change from no order to simplicity to its intricateness. Biology allows us to observe and further understand how life functions on Earth but it is not just an appearance of order, consistency and synergy. With that being said, sorry, Dawkins, but it appears that you are wrong and that life must have had some type of intervention from an intelligent source.

Sources
[1] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, ), p. 1.

Can a God who withholds His grace be all-loving?

Can a God who withholds His grace be all-loving?


Since the Protestant Reformation, there have been pious men who dedicated their lives to the Gospel with the purpose of glorifying God and exposing the truth of scripture. These men were so marveled by God’s omnipotence and sovereignty over the world that it encouraged them to follow His divine plan for their lives. Courageous men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon relentlessly expounded the word of God to those who needed to hear the good news of salvation. Their impact was so great that their teaching and messages continue to resound centuries later. Unfortunately, there exists a great debate among the many doctrinal interpretations given by such men, one of the many being the doctrine of God’s grace.

In the fourth doctrinal point of TULIP—Irresistible Grace—it is said that God’s grace, when extended to a sinner, will regenerate them first, resulting in their conscious awareness of the necessity of God’s goodness. This causes for the sinner to submit to this irresistible call of God and accept God’s gift of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. This sounds excellent! But then a new question arises:why is everyone not saved? John Calvin attempts to answer this question in his Institutes of Christian Theology:

“Thus in the adoption of the family of Abraham, God gave them a liberal display of favor which he has denied to others; but in the members of Christ there is a far more excellent display of grace, because those ingrafted into him as their head never fail to obtain salvation…We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment.” (Chapter 21, Emphasis added)

According to Calvin, the reason why people are not saved is not because they choose to not accept God’s gift of salvation, but that God has denied it to them. Even more, it is to God’s pleasure that those that could be saved, but instead have been denied the grace that could irresistibly save them, are instead doomed to an eternal destruction. But now an even greater question arises: How does this characterize God as benevolent? Can a God who has the ability to extend His grace to all, knowing that it will draw everyone to salvation, but withhold it from some truly be a God of infinite love and mercy?

One of the most tragic events in history occurred on April 15, 1912 which was the sinking of the Titanic. When its construction was completed, it was believed to be unsinkable. Ironically, on its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and of the carrying 2,223 passengers on board, 1,517 died. But what was more heartbreaking was the fact that many more could have been saved if it were not for having been denied access to lifeboats. Although the Titanic carried fewer than the required amount of lifeboats, that was still not to blame for the number of people that died that day. Many of the lifeboats that were onboard had a carrying capacity of 65 passengers but when lowered to escape death, many of these boats carried much fewer survivors than it actually could have. One boat was even recorded to have carried only 28 survivors! That means that 27 people, perhaps even a few more, could have been rescued but instead were left behind. The boat leaders of these lifeboats had more time, space and the capability to save more people but purposely—and for whatever reason—chose to save only a few.

Anyone with a healthy mind will agree that any person having the ability to help all but purposely choosing to only help some cannot be considered loving. That leader’s act of having saved just a few would be quickly ignored and could not be used in any way to defend their character as having done a good deed. If we can easily consider the actions of these leaders as being far from good, how much more can we perceive a God who is believed to be doing the same on a universal scale?

This same unpleasant understanding can be applied to the doctrine of irresistible grace. How can this doctrine hold any real credence whatsoever when Titus 2:11 states, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”? This verse can be rationally understood to mean exactly what Paul meant; God’s grace and salvation has been made available to all men and not to just an elect group of people. This interpretation seems more plausible than that of Calvin’s and still defends the correct view of an all-benevolent God, leaving the sinner responsible for his choice for having accepted or rejected this gift that God has sovereignty over. Consequently, God is not responsible for the person’s results since He has provided a solution by His grace and through His Son.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Although many consider this verse to not contradict Calvin’s interpretation, it has a clear message that God’s salvation is offered to the cosmos—the world—and not just to the elect. Cosmos can be interpreted as the universe, the world and even the inhabitants of the world. This same term can be found all throughout scripture carrying the same meaning.

1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” If God truly desires mankind to repent and be saved, then He would not withhold His grace from them. Instead, scripture more clearly demonstrates that mankind is extended God’s grace, a grace that He sovereignly holds, and it is man who is held accountable for having accepted or rejected God’s gift. Even more, Jesus tells those waiting for the promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world (cosmos) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:8) The Holy Spirit makes known to us our guilt so that we may make the right decision to look for the freedom of such a fault that has eternal consequences. This is what grace is, the offer of freedom from a deserving punishment by someone who is pure and innocent.

While we acknowledge and give thanks to God for the work and genuine passion of John Calvin, his dedication and imitable zeal, we cannot consider all of his teachings as infallible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Paul was telling Timothy that scripture has a divine origin and it is not just a book written by man but rather it was man inspired by God to write His truth. Simply, the doctrine given to us by the New Testament writers did not originate from their own minds or developed by their own ideas by rather it was God-breathed. When God’s character is being questioned and contradicts His nature, then we should revisit scripture to find the correct interpretation. God does not choose some to be saved and leave others in their fallen nature to destruction. But rather God is love, and through His love, He sovereignly moved from heaven to come to Earth so that we may have the choice to accept the Hope that our souls so desperately need.

Why Apologetics Is Important

Why Apologetics Is Important


“There are no facts, only interpretations.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche, a well-known 19th century German philosopher, freely promoted his belief that there are no facts in the world but rather just perceptions and interpretations. Upon reading his quote face value, one may hastily assume that Nietzsche was a bit naïve or even ignorant in many ways because we know that truth exists. We know that the sun is at the center of our solar system and provides Earth with solar energy, trees exist and are able to synthesize their own food, and we are creatures with individual minds able to rationally think.

Without a doubt, truth exists no matter anyone’s contrary opinion. Even if someone were to say, “There’s no such thing as truth,” I would question them as to whether their statement is true because if it were true, then that proves that truth exists. That statement is clearly self-defeating. Objective truth is an unchangeable and permanent fact while relative truth is factual to some because it feels right. Unfortunately, many influential people today try to alter or change truth to make it more subjective to their own personal beliefs and to satisfy their own desires. But some truths remain true no matter what we may believe. Truth does exist and it is worth defending ferociously.

What is Apologetics?

At first glance, many people confuse the meaning of the word “apologetics” for an apology as if having to be sorry for something. Apologetics is Greek for “apologia” which simply means to “provide a defense”. Apologetics is not just any defense biasedly made by personal preference but one that is soundly supported by acceptable reasons and evidence.

Apologetics uses universally accepted information to give a rational defense of the Christian faith. It is to provide an explanation that is accurate and supported even by the secular worlds of science and philosophy showing that these fields are compatible and easily work together. Good conclusions about the Christian faith that are made apologetically have been observed and backed by evidence which passes the test for validity and soundness. Therefore, it brings great comfort knowing that apologetics uses real world information, such as history, philosophy and science, to defend the truth of the Bible.

Why is Apologetics important?

With all of the different opinions and ideas that are presented in the world today, it is easy to get lost in the chaos of the origin, meaning and purpose of life. Due to our natural, selfish desires, it is easy to fall into creating false notions that support the life we would like to live or the goals we would like to achieve even if they negatively affect those around us. But can truth be changed to fit our own scheme? A half or partial truth is no truth at all. And if one creates a partial truth to create a world that satisfies their desires, it is clear that that particular world is just an illusion and the satisfaction felt is illusory, too.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Although, the term “apologetic” is universally used to provide a defense for any position or belief, Christians have adopted this word to describe a defense for their faith and the Word of God. Apologetics exists to remove any deterrents to the Christian faith and enhance the confidence of believers.

The purpose of apologetics is to protect and strengthen the Christian faith. Apologetics helps believers to better know their faith and share it more effectively. It is never used to force others to believe what one believes. We should all be equipped, with prepared and rational minds, to give an explanation of what we believe to be true and hold closely to our hearts no matter the opposition. Through apologetics many can know that aside from faith, which is the essential first step to coming to know God, there is much reason to believe that God exists.

A Reason for Purpose

With the increasing confusion of strange beliefs and ideas in the world, it is inevitable to come into contact with someone who finds apologetics to be a waste of time because they do not believe in God. In fact, it is inevitable to at least once in a lifetime encounter someone who has made it their personal goal to present a case proving genuine faith a myth. But just as 19th century writer H.L. Hastings illustrated, “the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives.”

Perhaps, it makes sense as to why there are so many who struggle with identity leading them to the false conclusion that life has no purpose. If one simply believes that God does not exist, that is the only conclusion left. If we were naturally created by chance then that means that our destiny is to one day cease to exist and our bodies return back to the dirt of this planet. Surprisingly, there are some who are comfortable with this belief because it gives them the freedom to do whatever they please without having any accountability. Fortunately, those who believe that the origin of life was caused by direct intervention of a higher being hold on dearly to the truth; the truth being that our purpose and meaning lie in Him who is “the way, the truth, and the life.”