Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, May 30, 2008

The God of Weights and Measures

Earlier this week, I believe on Sunday our time here on Earth, the Phoenix surveyor landed in the polar region of Mars.

The picture is its final descent to the surface taken from the MRO imaging satellite in orbit around the planet.

I tend to geek out at these sorts of things.

I saw the article about the picture at the Bad Astronomy website, maintained by Phil Plait. I have read articles where he plays being an anti-Creationist activist-watchdog. He claims to be a skeptic, though now-a-days the word "skeptic" is synonymous with "atheist."

Any how, Phil writes this gushing remark about this image at his site:

Think on this, and think on it carefully: you are seeing a manmade object falling gracefully and with intent to the surface of an alien world, as seen by another manmade object already circling that world, both of them acting robotically, and both of them hundreds of million of kilometers away.

Never, ever forget: we did this. This is what we can do. [emphasis his]

Note his emphasis, by the way: we did this. That is important to keep in mind as we place this photograph in perspective.

When I saw this picture of the Phoenix landing on Mars with even the parachute tethers visibly still attached, my mind was turned toward God's Word, specifically one of the more interesting Proverbs I love.

Honest weights and scales are the LORD's; all the weights in the bag are his work. (Prov. 16:11, NKJV)

The point of the proverb is quite simple: you are to deal honestly with your fellow man. If you happen to be a butcher and a person comes to your shop looking to purchase 2 pounds of hamburger meat, when you weigh out the meat, your scale must honestly record 2 pounds. It is not to be rigged in such a way that 1.5 pounds of meat looks to be 2 pounds and the person is thus charged to pay for 2 pounds when really all he has is 1.5 pounds.

The proverb is a summation of Leviticus 19:35,36, which reads,

You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, and honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

The command to maintain honest weights and measures in grounded in the holy character of God. The Lord always directs His commands back to Himself. We are to be honest with a fundamental interaction with our fellow man because God's character is holy and righteous.

Now, what does that have to do with the Phoenix lander on Mars?

I believe there is a secondary application of Proverbs 16:11 that tends to get over looked. That being, in order for there to be a command to be honest with our weights and measures, there must be an ultimate standard by which to determine if and when a weight or measure is dishonest. Here in the U.S. there is a department in the government for the standard of weights and measures. They have the ultimate weight that weighs one pound exactly, or one kilo, depending upon the system in use. They have the ultimate measuring stick that is one yard exactly, or one meter. All weights claiming to weigh a pound should balance with the ultimate one pound weight. The same with all meter sticks. If we lay them along side the ultimate stick they should all be a meter.

In this proverb, the writer is indirectly describing a principle of scientific knowledge to the Lord: The reason men can have a shared understanding of how to weigh and measure objects is because weight and measures are intimately connected to God's eternal, immutable nature. Thus, men can use weights and measure for more than determining the price of steak, but can utilize them to construct buildings, engineer bridges, and even send probes into space. That is because weights and measures are a development of basic, universal truths of mathematical principles.

In an important work, The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math and Meaning, a book that should be read by all Christians, John Byl writes concerning math:

The existence of eternal, abstract, mathematical thoughts seems to require the existence of something actual in which they exist. This raises the questions of where and how such mathematical entities exist.
The early theistic philosophers Philo and Augustine placed the ideal world of eternal truths in the mind of God. Augustine argued that the existence of eternal necessary truths implied the existence of an eternal, necessary, infinite mind in which all such truths exist. [pg. 136]

The fact that we can develop scientific know-how to send a probe into space, then land on another planet, and then another probe is able to take a picture of it landing is because we have fixed mathematical principles to utilize in order to accomplish such a feat. If the principles of math and physics were systems that did not exist outside ourselves as humans the ability to perform the task of landing a probe on Mars would be near impossible, if not unobtainable. We know about how a parachute impacts drag on an object, how much force gravity pulls on it, and how fast it falls, because those are certain, measurable variables that are universal.

So when Phil boasts, we did this, such is true if it were not for the fact God is concerned with just weights. In the side bar of Phil's blog, there is a picture of him with his comments, "I likes reality the way it is and I aims to keep it that way." Because a weight in the bag is God's work, Phil can keep being entertained by the reality he so enjoys.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review

When Sinners Say "I Do"
Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage

Dave Harvey

Book Review by Hayden Norris

I read a lot. I love to read. One of the challenges that I have is that I must, as a pastor, read widely and not just read the ‘stuff’ that interests me. In order to help me in this endeavor I have created a reading list that breaks my reading into categories so as not to read too much in one area and not enough in another area.

One of the areas I have purposed to read is in the category of “Marriage books”, but it has become one of my least favorite areas. This is not because I do not want to grow in my marriage; I do, but because most books on marriage are written with ladies in mind. Inevitable they turn into a book on “How to Change Your Husband” or “How to Submit to Your Lazy Husband” or some other variation on this theme. I know that I am ‘painting with a broad brush’ but next time you are in a Borders or Barnes & Nobles, go to the section on marriage and read the jacket covers and you will see what I mean.

When Sinners Say I Do is a much different book because it is actually a book written for BOTH the husband and the wife in the marriage. This book gets down to the root issue of all marital conflict, which is the fact that there are two sinners involved in the marriage. This sounds like a simplistic and obvious statement, but let this thought sink in for a second. If you are married you are married to a sinner, which is probably not a revelation to you, BUT you yourself are a great sinner. Actually, until you can say along with Paul that you are the greatest sinner that you know (1 Tim. 1:15) no progress can be made in your marriage.

The beauty of this book is that it does not let the reader veer too far from this basic truth. The truth of how your personal sin affects the relationship that you have with your spouse. On page 16 Dave Harvey sets the tone and direction of the book with this profound statement:

When sin becomes bitter marriage becomes sweet. When the sin we bring to marriage becomes real to us, then the gospel becomes vital and marriage becomes sweet.
This is the main message of the book, and this truth is what is expounded upon through the remaining pages.

When Sinners Say I Do proclaims this powerful, simple and profound message and does not allow the reader to shirk this truth. Dave Harvey weaves biblical truth, vivid stories and personal application into a very readable book that is a must-read for every couple and would-be couple. As a matter of fact, any couple that asks me to officiate at their wedding will have to go through this book and report back to me before the wedding day.

His chapter titles were also very helpful and entertaining. The chapter on sex, Chapter 9, is titled “Concerning Sex” and opens with this very funny story:

I don’t remember much about my neighborhood Dairy Queen… except THE SIGN. It hung provocatively above the counter, arresting the attention of every teenage boy in search of a Blizzard. Some signs direct, others warn, still others prohibit certain actions, but the headline on this sign was a tractor beam for our attention. It read “CONCERNING SEX.” Even gliding past it could melt the ice cream of any adolescent lad.

But the headline was just an attention-getter. The sign wasn’t about sex at all. The small print was nothing but an etiquette list for customers. Clever. Yet somehow, every time I came in, I still thought that sign might unlock some secret “CONCERNING SEX.” Maybe they’ve added new information. So I would read it again. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if I’d want to learn about sex in a place where everything they sell is frozen. But the point couldn’t be more clear: Sex commands attention. (pgs 151-152)
This is the style that the whole book is written in which makes it entertaining to read and engaging in its application.

If there is one criticism that I would have is that Mr. Harvey did not include the “Let’s Talk” section that was found in Chapter 9 throughout the whole book. This section was extremely helpful and the small group that I read this book with yearned for these thought provoking questions throughout the whole book.

Let me end this review with this challenge for every married couple to buy this book and read it together, pausing to discuss the content as they go along. You will not be disappointed! Ladies, if your husband is not a reader, read it with him aloud. A couple in my Bible study did this and benefited greatly from the book’s insight.

Hayden Norris is associate pastor at Mt. Morris Community Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Richard Dawkins' post box

TO: Dr. Richard Dawkins
Dr. Eugenie Scott
SUBJECT: vestigial organs.

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

First, please allow me some room for offering personal praise. I must say your work over the years establishing evolutionary fact and debunking religious nonsense like creationism, has been outstanding. I would even be bold enough to say no one has come close to your skill in using whithering logic and unmovable reason when it comes to trouncing those "fundy mental patient" Christians.

Pleasantries aside, allow me to turn to the reason I am writing you. As you know, Dr. Dawkins, vestigial organs are proof positive of biological evolution. These evolutionary leftovers clearly demonstrate modern man has undeniable animal ancestry, and as noted in a recent article on the New Scientist website, vestigial organs serve as the creationist's nightmare. Being an atheist devoted to rational, clear headed reason, I can think of no greater weapon so easily available to employ against those creation pseudo-scientists and their hill billy infested "museum" down in Kentucky.

I truly do not believe we atheists have fully exploited vestigial organs as evidence against creationism, and because of that, I am seeking to have my vomeronasal organ, outer ear points, and my tail bone surgically removed to prove the stupidity of creation pseudo-science. I already had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 17, and even though the appendix and tonsils have been taken off the vestigial organ list, I personally believe it was in error, and I am going to have them removed as well. I would like to have my hair follicle muscles that cause goosebumps removed, too, but it appears at this time our medical knowledge is not at a place of development for such an operation. More than likely, it would prove to be way too extensive and perhaps painful.

With that as a bit of background, this is where I need your help, Dr. Dawkins. Even though there would be no physical harm come to me with the removal of my vestigial organs, I have had difficulty finding a surgeon to perform the necessary procedures. All of them I have approached so far cite ethical concerns as to why they refuse to fulfill my request for removing my organs. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but such is our modern society soaked in religious superstition and the talk of "morality" and all.

Any how, I was wondering if you could recommend an atheist surgeon who would be sympathetic to my cause that I could use over here in the States. Also, do you think you could write a letter of recommendation affirming I will not suffer any long term health problems when I have my vestigial organs removed? A personal letter from a prestigious scientist who is recognized as a leading, world renown expert in biology like yourself, Dr. Dawkins, may go far in helping me to secure a doctor to perform the surgery and meeting my request.

I recognize my pursuit in this matter is really ambitious, but I hope to be a pioneer of sorts for future atheists who will seek to have their vestigial organs taken out and thus will put to end once and for all to this foolish creationism.
Any help you can offer, Dr. Dawkins, would be deeply appreciated.

Michael Cooper


Friday, May 23, 2008



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Greatest Sink Holes in the World

Who doesn't enjoy reading about giant, earth swallowing holes? Unless of course it is your neighborhood being swallowed.

The Five Biggest Sink Holes that Devoured Everything Around Them


Monday, May 19, 2008

Gleanings from Job #13

Continuing in my devotional series on Job...

Where True Wisdom is Found (27-28)

Throughout a series of speeches, Job's friends have been calling him to confess his sins and recognize God's hand of judgment with the trials which have befallen him.

In Chapter 25, Bildad speaks his third and final speech against Job, and basically accuses Job of misappropriating God's omnipotence, sovereignty, and mercy when he appeals his case before Him. Job is presumptuous to think he can be declared righteous before God almighty whose holiness outshines even the light of the moon and stars. As far as God's nature is concerned, Job might as well be a maggot.

In response to these comments, Job launches into a 6 chapter response to not only Bildad, but the rest of his friends. He opens his long comments assuring Bildad that he knows who God is and that knowledge of who God is brings assurance to Job as to the certainty of God hearing his plea.

Continuing his response to Bildad and his other friends, Job expresses his insistence in maintaining his integrity, as well as describing where true wisdom can be found.

I. Steadfast Devotion

As Job continues in his response, he moves again to declaring his innocence and defending his righteousness. In fact, so certain is Job of his righteousness, that no matter what happens, he will never speak wickedly, especially of the Lord.

That is because,

- He is in God's hands (27:2-4)

- There are consequences for being hypocritical, because it endangers men to think and speak wrongly of God (27:7-10).

- God will be sure to really judge the wicked (27:11-23).

II. Looking for True Wisdom

Then, in chapter 28, Job offers a discourse on where true wisdom can be found. Men are always looking for wisdom and in many cases, they all claim to have a measure more wisdom than their fellow men. Often times wisdom is assumed to be found autonomously, and in the inward heart of men, apart from any meaningful source. This is not true and as Job points out, men seek for it in all the wrong places.

True wisdom cannot be sought (28:1-14). Directing our thoughts to extensive mining operations, all of man's effort to dig precious metals and jewels cannot be applied to obtaining true wisdom in this way. Men know how to dig deep, even overturning mountains and altering the course of rivers, but real wisdom cannot be found by these means.

True wisdom cannot be bought (28:15-19). All of the most valuable jewels and metals, gold, silver, onyx, sapphire, quartz, rubies, and topaz, cannot purchase true wisdom.

True wisdom is from another world (28:20-28)
. True wisdom begins with God. He is the one who reveals what wisdom is. Verse 28 sums up true wisdom.

- It begins with a fear of the LORD. God is man's ultimate starting point for defining and interacting with all of reality.

- It results in holy living. The major application of true wisdom is the departure from those things contrary to God's way. When one fears the Lord, it will transform the one fearing God to live unto the Lord, serving Him and pursuing godliness.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Homosexuals, Marriage, and California

In response to the California (Or as our governor says, Cal-e-a-for-nia) Supreme Court overturning all sound logic and moral decency and allowing sexual deviancy to run riot, here are two timely responses from a biblical perspective:

James White's passionate response on a special Friday Dividing Line:

There's No Such Thing As Homosexual Marriage

and Travis Allen interviewing Don Green on the subject (links directly to a MP3 file)

How Should We Respond to Gay Marriage

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Blowhard Evangelicals and Politics Don't Mix

A Rant

Way back in the early 90s when I was a brand new, California resident scrapping my way through seminary, I would come home after church let out and turn on John Hagee while I boiled up water for my macaroni noodles. We only had a set of rabbit ears for a junkie TV someone gave us, but it was enough to pick up the main stations broadcasting in LA, including TBN.

Usually I got home to catch the last half of an end of the world, conspiracy driven pseudo-news broadcast TV show that read current events into the Bible. By the time I had changed out of my church clothes and put on my loose fitting short pants and my water was boiling, John Hagee's show was coming on. I didn't so much watch him for edification as I did for entertainment. Plus, as a young preacher wannabe, I was interested in preaching styles. Hagee had a Bible-belt windsucker patter about him that made him captivating to listen to.

Now, that doesn't mean I agreed with anything he said. Most of his sermons, if we can call them that, was him reading a Bible verse or two, then launching into a rant against the Clintons and what he perceived as the demise of American culture. He'd rail against "Hillary and her hellcats" (his words, by the way) and how they wanted to "bewitch" our children with their homosexual ideas, or corrupt their minds with evolution, or what ever secular humanist agenda was on Hagee's radar at the time.

His theology was not only politically driven, but also deplorable in some instances, as well as woefully inconsistent. For example, he had someone in his congregation design a giant, 24 foot display of the Seven Dispensations of History that he stood up behind his pulpit. For a long time, nearly a year, his TV show was him preaching on the various aspects of the classic, seven Dispensations scheme. On one program he made sure everyone knew we were now currently living in the Dispensation of the Church age. However, in another program, he talked about the age of law and how the 10 commandments played a prominent role in defining that period for the nation of Israel. He then goes into an "exposition" of each of the 10 commandments and bemoaned how Americans no longer live by the 10 commandments, especially the Clintons, and how we need to return to the authority of the 10 commandments as a society, especially Bill and Hilliary. If a person didn't know any better, you'd have thought he was a theonomist.

Well, as he became a popular TV evangelist, he was "knighted" somewhere along the way as being a leading evangelical spokesman. So much so that he felt it his duty to open his big mouth and utter his evangelical-political opinion on some issue or offering his endorsement to a candidate worthy of "evangelical" support. However, this creeping malaise that has clouded "leading" evangelical pastors over the years with a need of being "politically relevant" in our society, has truly settled upon pastor Hagee in recent days, and in a rather significant manner. This is particularly true in the area of lending his personal endorsement of presidential candidate, John McCain, and it is not without devastating consequences for the integrity of his ministry.

Earlier this year, John Hagee, by throwing his personal endorsement behind John McCain, essentially told his evangelical flock both near and far to vote for McCain as president. Shortly after Hagee endorsed McCain, though Barak Obama experienced his Rev. Wright moment. Not to be undone by the inferred guilt-by-association between Barak and his crackpot pastor, Obama supporters, seizing upon Hagee's endorsement earlier in the year, attempted to tie John McCain to Hagee in similar manner as Obama was to Wright. They cited comments Hagee had made in the past allegedly slandering the Roman Catholic Church with the "Great Whore" of Revelation and proclaiming Katerina as God's judgment against a Gay festival to be held in New Orleans. Certainly Barak has his "crazy racist" pastor, but McCain has his "crazy anti-Catholic pastor" just the same.

Such a comparison is absurd because McCain never had the mentor relationship with Hagee as Obama did with Rev. Wright. But no matter. The allegations of being an anti-Catholic bigot had some traction, so much so that Hagee made the rounds on conservative talk radio to "clarify" any past comments he had made against Catholics and to affirm his support of Catholics in like-minded political causes and to distance himself from appearing to be a Rev. Wright.

Then earlier this week, just to make certain no animosity still exists between himself and American Catholics, Hagee issued a statement apologizing for any anti-Catholic remarks he may have made in the past. The full text of the letter can be read here.

Herein lies the devastating consequences: in his effort to synchronize his evangelical conservatism with Red State Republican politics, Hagee has to compromise truth in order to prevent appearing as a hypocrite.

First, in order to appear sincere with his apology, he had to deny or "waterdown" any past remarks about the history of Rome, regardless if whether or not his comments were factual, and the ones I heard were. And I hasten to add that contrary to Hagee saying his "Great Whore" comments were not meant for the Pope and Rome specifically, I most certainly remember him making statements on his program speaking against Catholicism as a heresy, so I am a bit surprised at his disingenuous remarks claiming he never said anything negative about Catholicism.

And then secondly, even if it were important to him, from this point onward, he can no longer offer any meaningful critique of Roman Catholicism historically, let alone theologically. Hagee has become beholden to the ecumenical status quo. That being, "We all love God just the same, no matter what sort of loopy, twisted beliefs we may hold dear to our hearts about Him, so let's all join hands and work together for a better conservative America with evangelical family values." I hope he took his own initiative with writing this apology letter to the Catholics, but I have a sneaking suspicion political operative may had "suggested" to him to do it.

None the less, I see with this apology statement a clear lesson for the Christian minister. There is a stark danger of being beholden to men with any affiliations we have outside our calling as pastors. We see among many evangelicals these days the rigorous pursuit of partnering with politics. This allegiance places a pastor in a precarious position. For when his biblical convictions become a liability in an ever widening political correct culture for his chosen politician, something has to give. Either his convictions he proclaims in the pulpit, or his involvement with politicians. Sad to say, most of our evangelical pastors side with the politician, not necessarily the biblical convictions.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mission to Mars

Continuing in their historic manner of making profoundly grand pronouncements, the Vatican has stated that it is OK to believe in aliens.

The chief astronomer of the Vatican, Jesuit Jose Funes, Director of the Vatican Observatory, said in an interview that the vastness of the universe leaves open the possibility of life on other planets, particularly intelligent life.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."

He reveals a few lines down in the article why it is necessary for "The Church" to have an open mind regarding alien life: We don't want to have another one of those embarrassing Galileo incidents if city sized space ships come into Earth's orbit. We don't want folks to think the Bible contradicts science.

Of course, I am not so sure we would want to consider the aliens our "brothers" and "sisters" if they come here only to enslave humanity so as to toil in their Dosortian mines.

Well, at least no one can say "The Church" was opposed to science.

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The Bigfoot of Turin

One of my non-theological delights I enjoy is a daily stop by Cryptomundo, a blog dedicated to the pursuit of mysterious creatures like Bigfoot and giant, sea faring reptiles. A reader at Crypto noted some startling similarities between the image on the Shroud of Turin and the Bigfoot from the Six-million Dollar Man (which, adjusted for inflation would be around 2.4 billion today):

I sort of see a resemblance, but the Bigfoot looks more like Grizzly Adams during his "afro" days than the "Jesus" image burned on the Shroud.

Of course, this still stirs up bitterness that I didn't get my Bigfoot action figure for Christmas, but oh well...


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's People!

Soylent Green is People!

I couldn't resist.

Eco-Friendly Funerals

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Richard Dawkins' post box

TO: Richard Dawkins
CC: Michael Shermer
SUBJECT: Compassion and ought

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

I just recently - within the last few months - became a fully committed atheist, and I want to offer to you my sincere thanks for helping me make that decision. For the longest time you could say I was an agnostic, because those "design" arguments put forth by those Christian, pseudo-science creationists, raised enough doubt in my mind to keep me enslaved to irrational superstitions.

But you, Dr. Dawkins, were instrumental in helping me shed the remaining shrouds of this savage religiosity that has darkened our western culture. When I picked up your book, The Blind Watchmaker, your clear, logical presentation of how Darwinian evolution so easily explains away those so-called design arguments switched on a light in my mind and all my agnosticism fled away. Since then, I have tried to read everything you have written, as well as the books of your good friends Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and P.Z. Myers.

At any rate, I am writing to you today, Dr. Dawkins, because I am conflicted and I need your help to think through a perceived inconsistency with my atheism. As you know, a massive cyclone struck Myanmar and Burma a week or so ago and caused great devastation for hundreds of thousands of people there. Some estimates place the death toll at a quarter million to half a million lives. The circumstances just look to be wretched, but here in lies my dilemma.

I have been asked by charitable organizations, many of them religious by the way, to give monetarily in order to help the victims of this storm. Though humanly speaking, such actions of aid are to be commended, but in reality, are we not attempting to circumvent the process of evolution? Who are we to oppose the natural forces that drive the evolution of life on this planet? I mean, if these people lack the ability to protect themselves from disaster or even rebuild their society after a major storm, should we not see this as natural selection taking its course to strengthen the over all human species by removing the weaker members?

I realize that may sound "cruel," but that is a religious judgment, is it not? Michael Shermer, who has a lot of good stuff debunking such nonsense as UFOs, aliens, and Noah's ark, says that morality is an important part of natural evolution because having moral laws helps to secure the livelihood of the species, but I really don't understand why I ought to think that way toward those people in Myanmar because I fail to understand how they add any benefit to our human species. You yourself once wrote, "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." Why doesn't this apply in this instance?

To put a bit of a spin on something else you wrote regarding the God of Christianity, in this instance, I believe I could say, "Mother Nature is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of history: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

I really would appreciate any thoughts you could give me on how to work through my conflict of emotions. My heart wants to help, but my logical brain tells me "it's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

Truly Confused,

Aimee Miller

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Jesus and the AGE of the earth

I have been waiting a while for the spring 2007 volume of the Master's Seminary Journal to come on line just so I can link one of the articles.

Terry Mortenson, who is a full time speaker for Answers in Genesis and wrote his dissertation on the geology debate that took place in the early 1800s (available here in a popular level format), wrote a rather extensive article for the TMS journal on how Jesus taught about a young earth. He does a comparison with the biblical data as presented by Jesus and the commonly held compromise positions of many evangelical scholars and apologists today. Many folks think the age of the earth is a non-issue in the origins debate between ID proponents, creationists, and evolutionists, but Mortenson does a good job demonstrating the relevance the age of the earth has in the origins debate and the significance with maintaining a biblical view as Jesus taught it.

Jesus, Evangelical Scholars, and the Age of the Earth

The reading may be a tad heavy for some, but well worth the effort.

As a bonus, a second article from the same journal issue is also a good read.

Inductive and Deductive Methods as Applied to OT Chronologies

Those who enjoy reading about biblical chronology will thoroughly enjoy it, and it is a good supplement to the Mortenson article.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Doug Moo Biblical Studies

Those who appreciate the theological and biblical studies of Dr. Doug Moo, particularly his massive commentary on Romans which is one of the best you can purchase, several of his articles have been placed on-line.

He also does photography. Who would have thunk it? I wonder if he does weddings?

Doug Moo Photography and Biblical Theology

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Scientism vs. Creation

I saw this cartoon linked over at the Digg site a week or so ago. It looks to be a mocking editorial cartoon that was syndicated around the time Stein's movie, Expelled, was released. There are a few blunderous errors present with it, the least of which is that most "scientists" don't wear white lab coats. More importantly, ID, or what was presented in Stein's documentary, is not creationism and Ben Stein doesn't adhere to the record of creation as revealed in Genesis, nor would a lot of the ID apologists from Discovery Institute.

The most egregious, however, is the false notion that Darwinianism equals science and those Darwinians who are scientists are unbiased and follow the evidence where ever it leads. The idea of "unbiased" scientists is probably the biggest myth in our society today.

Take for instance the first panel. Here you have a scientist asking a student about a pile of bones and what conclusions she can draw from them. If the student, however, were to say, "You know, these bones have extremely complex structures that cannot be explained by the evolutionary model of 'natural selection and descent with modification over millions of years,' perhaps there is another explanation," the prof. would boo and hiss her until his throat was raw and then tell her to get out of his presence. Hence proving the premise of Stein's film.

What is a bit heart breaking is how conservatives who cry the loudest against liberal censorship, media bias, and the strangle hold leftist philosophy has on the American higher education system that squashes any true academic dissent of the prevailing worldviews, are so willing to dismiss Stein's film as being a product of a crank. For example "Zombie" (not his or her real name), who normally does a good job of providing entertaining photojournalism from the asylum of what is the San Francisco Bay area, ran into a lone "creationist" protesting outside of U.C. Berkeley who was promoting Stein's movie. Zombie succumbed to the same woeful inaccuracies pretty much everyone else does when criticizing the film: "Stein's a creationist," "evolutionary biology is established scientific fact," and "theology should be taught at church and not the science classroom."

The assumption made by "Zombie," and other conservative leaning "mega" bloggers like LGF and Ed Morrissey at Hot Air who both had some choice words against Stein and his movie in recent posts, is that scientists are hard facts kind of people with no preconceived biases from which they draw their conclusions, where as creationists and IDers are biased and operate from a position of "faith alone." But is that true?

Let's consider some quotes from these hard facts folks.

At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the text books don't usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose result he hopes will support his position. (Boyce Rensberger, How the World Works, p. 17-18).

Science is fundamentally a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule: Rule #1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural. (Richard Dickerson, Journal of Molecular Evolution, 34:277, 1992).

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to the understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," New York Review, Jan. 9, 1997).

Suddenly, we’re imbedded in a frothy quantum foam of unlimited possibilities. It’s a free-for-all where each solemnly presented theory is soon changed or rebutted. In one sense, it’s very cool. Imagination rules! It’s a unique period in cosmology’s history. Throw the math this way, that way, tweak the equations, set fire to the physics building, nothing matters. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Stephen Hawking. Unfortunately, cosmologists are starting to resemble naked emperors parading before the mass media. Hey, we love you, but you have no clue about the universe’s true origin or fate, and little knowledge of its composition. Yet each pronouncement is delivered with pomp and flair. Maybe you need a serious “time out.” (Bob Berman, Astronomy, July 2004)

These are just a smattering of comments from various evolutionists regarding their "unbiased" approach to science. I see a lot of "faith" pre-commitments with these citations, and not a whole lot of hard, scientific facts, and in some cases, blind faith commitments. In my mind, evolutionists are just as guilty of saying, "Here's our conclusion. How can we handle the facts to support it?"


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Black Power Resources

Most folks are unaware of the fact that the ideology expressed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright has its roots in a specific theological philosophy called Black Liberation Theology.

In order to have a quick primer on what this theology and its advocates teach, here are some resources that may be helpful:

Robert Morey provides some historical background and a general outline of BLT:
Truth about Black Liberal Theology

James White's discussion of James Cone's book, Black Theology & Black Power. James Cone is one of the leading promoters of BLT. The citations from this book are startling, and if only a thoughtful reporter would put together some questions gleaned from this book to ask Rev. Wright, who praises Cone's material, when he goes on his own book tour later this year.

Eric Redmond's comments about Rev. Wright and BLT.
Listen also to his discussion on Al Mohler's program on the same subject.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You ain't rich enough

A friend shot me this link.

Luxury on Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has introduced their luxury suites on their A380 airbus. Complete with private rooms, in-air Internet access, big honking flat panel HDTVs, and get this, your seats can lay down and become a full sized bed! The emperor decadence.

Watch the computer simulation, and then eat your heart out by watching the promotional video featuring the girl with her hair blowing in the wind. Nothing says luxury like long, wind blown hair.

Something tells me that American won't be having these on their flights to Dallas and Little Rock. That means I will still have to suffer a 3 hour flight, sitting in the middle seat in coach with a fidgeting toddler on my lap. It's amazing how fidgeting toddlers can get so heavy so quick.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Richard Dawkins' post box

Dr. Richard Dawkins
Subject: Panspermia and exogenesis

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

I must begin my letter to you expressing how you are such a great encouragement to myself and many other intellectuals out here living in an irrational, superstitious world. You have demonstrated outstanding courage as a beacon of reason and logic in a society whose citizens are beholden to tribal deities and witchcraft. Your example only moves me to being a more aggressive "evangelist" for the atheist "gospel."

I recently returned from a showing of that movie Expelled. I only went because I wanted to be able to refute the nonsensical propaganda that belches forth from the sewage container dishonestly called "the Intelligent Design" movement. Ben Stein is a let down which is to be expected from a creationist goon like himself.

I must say, however, that your interview with him was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise odious film. It was alone the price of admission. You could tell he didn't know how to respond to your brilliant answers, and when you suggested to him that the first self-replicating molecule could have very well been brought to our planet by extra-terrestrial, intelligent life, the look of incredulity on his face just showed me what a moron Ben Stein truly is. Has he never heard of exogenesis before? Or panspermia? It is probably one of the most legitimate theories to explain the origins of life on our planet! He seemed to carry on as if he had never heard of it before. Has Stein never heard of Dr. Fred Hoyle or Dr. Francis Crick or Richard C. Hoagland? I mean, almost every night a person can hear leading experts on the subject talk about panspermia for a couple of hours on Coast to Coast AM.

Well, the theory of panspermia sirred up a question in my mind I wanted to ask you, Dr. Dawkins. Do you think the aliens who seeded are planet billions of years ago expects anything from us? I mean, they are in a sense our alien overlords, those who "created" us, as it were. Perhaps they want us as humanity to be living at a particular standard of conduct. Of course, our first inclination is to think they would want us to be striving for world peace, but I remember seeing this Twilight Zone episode - from the newer series in the 80s - where these aliens had sped up evolution so the human race would strive - not for peace - but for making better weapons. Who saw that one coming!? And imagine if the only reason aliens seeded our planet was to turn us all into a big human processing plant to cook us up in alien TV dinners!

These are just things we need to keep in mind as we consider the theory of panspermia. It may even be helpful when we are forced to debate these ID yahoos.

Thanks Dr. Dawkins,
Keep up the good work.

Ryan Harris

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Gleanings in Job #12

Who God Is (Job 25-26)

My purpose with these studies on Job is to acquaint the reader to a book of the Bible that is often neglected. Folks tend to know about the first few chapters where Satan, under the divine hand of providence, subjects Job to severe trial. We may even know about the last few chapters of the book where God speaks to Job. However, it is the middle sections of the book that are often overlooked because they tend to be difficult to understand. Hopefully, these studies can shed some light on those overlooked sections.

When Job's friends come to him to offer comfort in his suffering, their main line of argument was that he suffered because God was punishing him for a variety of unconfessed sin. Each of his closest companions, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad, give three speeches to Job calling him to confess his sin.

With this post, we come to Bildad's third and final speech and the shortest in the entire book, a mere six verses. His primary theme in these verses is the majesty of God in contrast with the insignificance and iniquity of all men.

I. His Case (25:1-5)

God has dominion. In other words, God is absolute sovereign over the affairs of the world.

- He has the authority and ability to command the armies of men (25:3), and in fact controls them even when they may not realize it.

- He is omnipresent (25:3). Bildad declares, "Upon whom does His light not rise?", meaning God's presence shines upon all men everywhere. There is no where where God is not.

- He is holy (25:4-5). Contrasted to men, God is absolutely pure, implying the holiness of His character. Pulling from a rather unique illustration, the fact that the moon only reflects the sun's light, Bildad says God's holiness outshines the moon reflecting the sun, and even the stars. And He certainly can outshine man, who is basically a maggot or a worm, the most base creatures on the earth.

II. His Conclusion (25:6)

Bildad concludes his short comments by pointing out that in light of who we know God is, we as men are nothing before Him, just a lowly worm, a decaying refuse eating fly larva. When we know the truth of who God is, how then can Job claim to be able to stand before God and have Him judge his case?

In contrast to Bildad's short, six verse speech, Job's words from Chapters 26-31 are the longest.

III. Job's Response (26)

In chapter 26, Job explains to Bildad that he knows who God is. His tone in the opening verses is one of annoyance, like he is offended that Bildad would lecture him on such an obviously revealed truth of God.

Job recognizes that God's Majesty, His sovereign authority, extends to several arenas in our world:

- God is sovereign over death (26:5-6). Interestingly, Job describes death in personal terms. He speaks of "the dead" as those who are still in existence, but not in our world. This can easily be taken to mean Job had an understanding of life after death.

The dead are said to tremble. They know the reality of their fate. When we depart this world in death, we do not cease to exist as many in our day and age wish to suggest. We will face judgment as Hebrews 9:27 reminds us in the NT. Additionally, Job describes those dead who are "under the waters and those inhabiting them." This could be taken to mean those who were perhaps drowned in the judgmental waters of Noah's flood. Job and his friends lived close enough to this event that it would still be fresh in the minds of their culture. Moreover, Sheol and Destruction are naked before God. Basically, no man can escape the gaze of God even in death. There is no where to run or go from His presence.

- God is Sovereign over heaven and earth (26:7-13). Job describes the power of God over the things above, below, and on the earth. The description he gives of God's ability is remarkable:

> He has set the foundations of the earth, hanging our planet in space (7).

> He controls the weather (8, 9), binding up the water in thick clouds which distill upon the earth in rain.

> He orchestrates the turning of the earth so that life on our world enjoys day time and night time (10). The description Job provides is of God drawing a circular horizon of the waters and setting the boundary of light and darkness. The pictures we have from space show the circularity of the atmosphere around our world. This image is particularly pronounced when seen contrasted against our oceans. Additionally, there is the termination line (see picture above) where the darkness of night is divided from the day as the earth rotates. Amazingly, Job knew about these things in his day.

> He commands the seas (12). The power of the ocean and its ability to sink massive oil tankers in a storm is easily controlled by God. As a footnote, who else in the Bible had the power to command the waves of the sea?

> He sets the splendor of the heavens (13). The wonder of our universe as seen through our limited telescopic instruments here on the earth reveal the wonder of God's creative Spirit. Looking further and further into space only to see more radiant objects that never seem to end only demonstrates the omnipotence and eternity of God.

Job's conclusion is almost an understatement compared to what he has just reminded us of: "Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!"