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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arkansas Past Times

Me and my cousins Big Bud and Little Bud went fishing when my family got home. (We call him "Big" Bud because he's older). Any how, look at the fish we caught.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Gone Baby Gone

The family and I are headed back to the rustic, rural Ozarks to pay the kin folk in Arkansas a visit for a week or so. (Please, no possum jokes, Neil).

This means posting here at the blog will be sporadic.

Computer technology has come to the parts of Arkansas where I will be lodging. They use long wires hooked up to poles.

So, I should be able to post the second part to my last study on eschatology sometime next week, Lord willing. I also want to respond to some lengthy comments by a gay marriage advocate who has been posting under my article on Christian compassion toward homosexuals.

If I happen to see or hear of anything else of interest, I'll try to get that on-line as well.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Politically Incorrect Commercials

I like the way the guy takes a drag off that cig and blows smoke at the camera.

Take that nanny state Californians!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Objectivity in Photo Journalism

10 News Photos that took retouching too far.

Makes you wonder what else is "retouched" in the news.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Atlas Shrugging

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bone Wars

The general public are under the severe misconception a consensus exists among those in the paleo sciences. That all paleo-archaeologists, biologists, and other so-called experts in the fields pertaining to the gathering of fossils, are all agreed as to methodology of collection and how those collections are to be interpreted.

Thickening the intellectual fog surrounding the mythos of fossil gathering are the absurd, over the top, sensational media reports which blow any new finds like the recent "Ida" missing link way out of proportion beyond its real significance. This of course puts true science in jeopardy of being taken seriously.

Dr. Jerry Bergman wrote an article a couple of years ago which is relevant for our current media fascination with "Ida." It was published in the January/Feburary 2006 edition of Creation Matters, the laymen publication of the Creation Research Society. The original article contains the full resource bibliography:

Many studies find that the so-called objective field of human evolution is anything but objective — bias is common, and cases of corruption and fraud have been documented. Well-known examples include Piltdown man and Hesperopithecus, but many other examples exist. One of the best-known examples of greed, revenge, and open frauds involved the war between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh in the bone war of the late 1800s (Wallace, 1999).

Part of the reason for controversy is that the anthropological field is divided into “camps” or “schools” that, not uncommonly, are in competition with each other. Each school is often dominated by a small number of people who are often charismatic leaders. Each camp tries to “prove” its own theory of human evolution, often dogmatically, by using fossil bones, most of which are badly damaged fragments. Sides are taken in these conflicts and, as Morell (1995) eloquently demonstrates, the participants sometimes end up in conflicts where unethical behavior (and almost everything else) is fair game. Only physical aggression is ruled out (though not always).

A major issue in dealing with this problem is that no small amount of arrogance exists within the scientific community. Hooper claims that some scientists dogmatically believe that they have the answer, and only they have the right to ask questions — and if they don’t ask them, no one else should (2002). A review of this history vividly shows the “other side” of the leading scientists in each camp — those who dominate the literature in Nature, Science, and other leading scientific journals. Because fossil evidence accounts for less than 10 percent of the animal, it can be interpreted in many ways, even in the rare situation where a skeleton is relatively complete. Lucy, for example, is the most complete skeleton to date, and around three quarters of it is missing. Most other finds consist of, at best, a few bone fragments or sometimes just teeth.

For the last half century, the Leakeys have been at the center of this war. The endless, vicious, and sometimes physical confrontations between the Leakeys and others, such as Donald Johanson and Timothy White, are extremely illuminating as to how critically important preconceptions are in understanding the extant fossil evidence. As a young man, Louis Leakey was very “zealous about his Christianity and sometimes stood on corner soap boxes to deliver sermons” (Morell, 1995; p. 28). During his studies at Cambridge, though, his “growing knowledge of evolutionary theory” and his “more liberal views” led him away from the church and into full-time science work. Louis Leakey, along with the leading atheists and secularists of the day, became a supporter of the atheistic document, the “Humanist Manifesto.” He later became very hostile toward Christianity, an attitude that was passed on to at least one of his sons, Richard. When Richard was asked to be a guest on Walter Cronkite’s television program to discuss evolution and creationism as an “ardent anti-creationist,” Richard agreed to appear (Morell, 1995; p. 520).

This ploy to get him on the show turned out to be a trick — Cronkite wanted to pit Leaky and Johanson against each other to debate their radically different opinions about Australopithecus afarensis and other putative hominids. On the show, Johanson was less interested in an intellectual exchange to achieve a better understanding of human evolution than he was in attacking those with whom he disagreed. In my opinion, Richard Leakey came out better in this exchange, but some people felt otherwise. Shortly after the Cronkite show, the National Geographic Society, the Leakeys’ main source of financial support, turned down Richard’s grant application for funds to support his Koobi Fora research and for new explorations north and west of Lake Turkana (Morell, 1995; p. 523).

One common trait in the field is the difficulty the leading scientists have in evaluating the data fairly and objectively. Many, such as Tim White, professor at the University of California Berkeley are anything but reasonable and objective. In the words of Tim White’s University of Michigan professor, Milford Wolpoff, Tim knows the “right” way…and to think once he got a job and was treated with professional respect, he’d calm down a bit. But I was wrong… White’s self-righteous stance surfaced [in the field].... leading him to be “unspeakably rude and arrogant to others.” (Morell, 1995; p. 477).

Morell concludes that, like Wolpoff, Richard Leakey also “assumed that White would eventually outgrow this behavior. Instead, Richard himself became a target” (Morell, 1995; p. 477). For example, when Leakey explained his concerns about White’s interpretation of a fossil, White “started shouting at me, calling me a dictator, said that it was a disgrace that I should be in charge — all this rubbish…he wanted to have nothing more to do with me, and finally walked out of my office and slammed the door.” (Morell, 1995; p. 478)

Debates are required to make progress in science — but the viciousness that Morell eloquently documents is hardly what we would expect of anthropologists who are interested in the truth and who desire others to rationally evaluate their ideas. The behavior shown by these individuals was so extreme that it could not be discussed in a family publication. In addition, the morals of some of the leading scientists leave much to be desired.

Fraud among Darwin researchers

The scientific method is an ideal approach to gaining knowledge, but it is an especially difficult way to “prove” certain science hypotheses, such as those involving origins. A good example of this difficulty is “the theory of evolution (which) is ... a theory highly valued by scientists…but which lies in a sense too deep to be directly proved or disproved” (Broad and Wade; 1982, p. 17).

One famous case of evolution fraud, that of Viennese biologist Paul Kammerer, was the subject of a now-classic book titled The Case of the Midwife Toad (Koestler, 1972). Dr. Kammerer’s fraud involved painting “nuptial pads” with India ink on the feet of the toads he was studying. Even though his work, which was forged to support the Lamarckian theory of evolutionism, was exposed, it was used for decades to support certain evolution ideologies, including that by Trofin D. Lysenko (Kohn, 1988; p. 47). In a similar case, William Summerlin faked the results of a test in the 1970s simply by drawing black patches on his white test mice with a felt-tip pen (Chang, 2002).

Another recent case of fraud in evolution is that of Archaeoraptor, the “evolutionary find of the century” that purportedly proved bird-dinosaur evolution. The National Geographic Society “trumpeted the fossil’s discovery ... as providing a true missing link in the complex chain that connects dinosaurs to birds” (Simons, 2000). Archaeoraptor was used by “some prominent paleontologists” to prove a “long-sought key to a mystery of evolution.” High-resolution X-ray CT work found “unmatched pieces, skillfully pasted over.” The fraud was also determined to be “put together badly-deceptively” involving “zealots and cranks,” “rampant egos clashing,” “misplaced confidence,” and “wishful thinking.” It was the Piltdown man story all over again. Simons adds that this is a story in which “none” of those involved look good.

One of the “most pungent” cases of fraud involved paleontologist Viswat Jit Gupta who discovered a treasure trove of fossils that made “astonishing additions to the faunal lists” of species in the area he worked (Talent, 1989). After extensive investigation researchers concluded that Professor Viswat Jit Gupta salted the area with fossils, evidently stolen from teaching collections. He published close to 300 papers about the finds over a period of 25 years —all of which are now in doubt. Talent (1989) concludes, as a result of this case, “the database for the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic of the Himalayas has, as a consequence of these publications, become so marred by inconsistency as to throw grave doubts on the scientific validity of any conclusions that might be drawn from it. Because the iostratigraphical underpinning of so much Himalayan stratigraphy is in question, the credibility of many years of labour by numerous geologists is at stake.” As Judson concludes: “The difficulty, labor, and time that have been required to clear up the mess are incalculable. A residue of doubt will long shadow later work” (2004, p. 134). Talent (1989) adds “similar cases of carelessness over data or confusion over concepts is rife."

Inquiry has now confirmed that what the British Guardian called “one of archaeology's most sensational finds” — a purportedly 36,000-year-old skull fragment discovered in a peat bog near Hamburg was falsified. This fragment was believed to be a “vital missing link between modern humans and Neanderthals” (Harding, 2005). The thirty-year academic career of the discoverer, distinguished German anthropologist Professor Reiner Potsch von Zieten, “has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other ‘stone-age’ relicts” (Harding, 2005). The crucial skull fragment, once believed to have come from the world’s oldest Neanderthal, has now been determined to be a mere 7,500 years old, according to the Oxford University radiocarbon dating unit.

Other skulls were wrongly dated by Von Zieten as well. After redating the evidence, it was concluded that he had methodically falsified the dates on numerous artifacts: he had simply made up the dates to fit his theories. Testing revealed that all the skulls dated by Potsch were, in fact, much younger than he had claimed. Thomas Terberger, who discovered the hoax, stated that as a result of the hoax, “anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago” (quoted in Harding, 2005).

The committee also found that Von Zieten had committed numerous other “falsehoods and manipulations.” His deceptions were so serious that it “may mean an entire tranche of the history of man’s development will have to be rewritten” (Harding, 2005). Yet another of the professor’s finds, Binshof-Speyer woman, was determined to have lived in 1,300 B.C., not 21,000 years ago, and Paderborn-Sande man, which was dated by the professor at 27,400 B.C., died only “a couple of hundred years ago, in 1750.” Further research found that he had passed off fake fossils as real and had also plagiarized other scientists’ work. The scandal was finally exposed when Professor Von Zieten was caught trying to sell his department’s entire chimpanzee collection to a museum in the United States. The committee that investigated him involved ten different meetings with twelve witnesses to produce findings that were documented to be increasingly bizarre. After a while it was hard to take it seriously.…It was just unbelievable. At the end of the day what he did was incredible. (quoted in Harding, 2005). It was also found that the professor could not even operate the carbon dating machine that he claimed to have used to produce the now-discredited dates!

Professor Von Zieten was forced to end his career after confirmation of the “falsehoods and manipulations” came to light. This scandal is critically important in physical anthropology because his thirty year academic career yielded many sensational finds that were important evidence for modern evolution theory. Evidently he found that he could get away with the frauds, and continued to make outrageous claims until they became so ludicrous that somebody began to investigate. The university administrators admitted that they should have discovered the professor’s bizarre fabrications much earlier, but the “high profile anthropologist… [had] proved difficult to pin down.” Evidence now exists that he began “inventing things” at the very start of his career over thirty years ago. After returning to Germany from America, where he did his doctorate, and accepting a professorship, he “simply made things up.” An example of his claims was a supposedly fifty-millionyear- old “half-ape” which he claimed was found in Switzerland, but was actually found in France.

Continued investigation will likely reveal much more about this case, which has reminded many of the infamous Piltdown affair. Honesty does exist. Evolutionists are at times very candid, such as Johanson’s admission that now “nobody really places a great deal of faith in any human [evolution] tree” (Morell, 1995; p.546, emphasis in original). Yet, many of their arguments are over this tree, which seems to change with each new find. The reason is that construction of these trees is based on evidence that is so flimsy and fragmentary that a wide variety of interpretations is possible — which in turn is a major explanation for the many heated conflicts that have characterized paleoanthropology. There are so little hard data that most of the findings can be construed in several different ways.

Another reason for so much controversy is that new fossil discoveries are rarely shared with other scientists for years, if ever, due to concerns over publishing priorities. Typically, to get full credit for a discovery, the finder must hoard the fossil for a decade or more before allowing others to study it so that he can publish first. An additional consideration is that these fossils are generally very fragile and easily broken — working with them tends to damage them. Consequently, most researchers have access to only photographs or, at best, casts. In view of this fact, it is not surprising that major disagreements are common. Most anthropologists must rely only on descriptions and interpretations put forward by the discoverer of the fossils — the very person who has a vested interest in proving his own theories.


A review of paleoanthropology finds that the field is far less objective than physics, chemistry, or even biology. Furthermore, fraud and fakery have occasionally been demonstrated. In a field based on little evidence and many assumptions, the “bone wars” illustrate the conflicts which are common among scientists in this area. The unprofessional and at times even fraudulent behavior is not what one would expect from professionals. I teach anthropology at the college level, and after preparing this paper, I will from now on cover the evidence for human evolution in a very different way than I have in the past.

Dr. Bergman teaches biology, molecular biology, chemistry, anthropology, and anatomy at NorthwestState in Ohio, where he has been on the faculty for over 20 years. He may be reached at: jbergman@northweststate.edu.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Studies in Eschatology [7a]

Restoring Israel

I had written on the subject of the Kingdom of God (KoG) as it related to the NT Church.

I believe the exegesis of the biblical texts reveal to us that the KoG is distinct from the NT Church. Moreover, the KoG is eschatological, or in other words, it awaits a future fulfillment at the return of God's Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, in the intern, as God's eschatological purposes are being worked out according to a divinely established time table, God is calling out by the means of the gospel a spiritual body of believers who are united with Jesus Christ by faith. They presently live according to the principles of the coming eschatological kingdom as they submit themselves to the authority of Jesus as the rightful Lord of God's kingdom.

As I noted in my last post addressing the KoG, those of the covenant Reformed equate the KoG with the NT Church. The primary reason for this view is the idea that the NT Church fulfills the promises God made to OT Israel about making them a great nation and a great kingdom. Whereas the Jews had in mind a geo-political kingdom established on earth, God had in mind a spiritual kingdom comprised of Jews and gentiles from all over the world united in one spiritual body under the headship of Christ, the NT Church. Thus, those promises of Israel being restored in the land and of being established in a geo-political kingdom were fulfilled in Christ building His Church.

Along with their view of the NT Church fulfilling the OT promises made to Israel shaping their convictions concerning the KoG, the covenant Reformed will also argue that no where in the NT is Israel promised restoration to their land in a political kingdom. That is a significance absence in the NT, for if the KoG was a yet future geo-political kingdom, then much would be said about it. In reality, next to nothing is stated about it by any of the NT authors.

I would like to respond to that claim. I believe much more is said about Israel being restored to their land than what the covenant Reformed will allow. I will divide my study into two parts. With this first post, I wish to consider the promise to Israel of being restored to their promised land, and then with the next post, address a few key individual passages often appealed to as suggesting the KoG is spiritual and has no physical dimension attached to it at all.

The Promise of Restoration

When we search the Scripture we discover that God's promises to Israel are quite plain. Beginning in the OT, God specifically told Israel through His prophets that He will set up a kingdom on this earth which will be everlasting in duration. This is promised to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 (c.f. Psalm 2, 72), and reiterated through a number of prophets including Isaiah 2:2-4; 11; Daniel 2:34-45; Micah 4:1-8 just to list a few. Additionally, that kingdom will involve the establishment of the nation of Israel to a special place in that kingdom. See for example Joel 3:18-21; Amos 9:14, 15; and Zechariah 14:16-20.

Coming into the NT, however, these OT passages are the kind those of the covenant Reformed persuasion spiritualize in order to speak of spiritual salvation only. There are a few reasons why they draw the conclusions they do with their interpretation of these promises. One of the primary reason is because it is wrongly perceived such an idea of restoration creates division among "God's people," and places the Jews in a favored status with God. Paul, they point out, argues against any favoritism with God in Romans 9-11 and through the book of Galatians, and declares salvation is not based upon ethnicity or birth right, but squarely on the grace of God alone.

To suggest Israel will be restored to a favored status in a physical national kingdom cuts against Paul's whole argumentation that ones' national heritage gains a person nothing with God. Thus, it is concluded in light of NT teaching (the greater revelation which trumps, and so reinterprets, the OT revelation), those OT promises must be understood in a different fashion than one of being fulfilled "literally" as non-covenant Reformed believers insist. A person can see how hermeneutical presuppositions come into play here.

But, I believe there is no warrant to employ a spiritualized hermeneutic to these prophetic promises. I think these objections by the covenant Reformed fail to take into consideration some important features related to prophecy and fulfillment.

First, I believe it fails to distinguish between what I would call a salvific unity and a unique diversity in God's purposes. By that I mean God has set forth one avenue of eternal salvation in which a person is made right with God. That of course is through God's Son, the appointed King of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ. All men are made right before God in exactly the same way: by grace through faith alone in Christ. Being a gentile or Jew, or a man or woman, or whatever, does not confer a salvific advantage in this sense. Yet, in God's eschatological plans, each ethnic group has a designated purpose to play. There is a unified diversity. Even though men of all tribes and tongues will stand before God united in Christ, they are still men of different tribes and tongues. There is no reason to think these ethnic factors will be erased.

Additionally, there is sound biblical reason to see these eschatological promises of restoration transcend both testaments and across Jewish/gentile lines, and that has to do with the fulfillment of the New Covenant. Turning to Jeremiah 31:31-37, God promises a new covenant to Israel in which He will put His laws on the hearts of His people, Israel (31:33ff). The new covenant entails a heart change in the participants of that covenant so that they receive a spiritual motivation to obey God.

Coming to the NT, we see that new covenant established and initiated by Christ on the Cross. Though this new covenant was originally promised to national Israel, there was an unanticipated spiritual fulfillment of it in the formation of the NT Church which takes in both Jews and gentiles. Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16, 17 address the spiritual dimensions of salvation the new covenant confers upon God's chosen people due to Christ's greater priesthood.

The covenant Reformed appeal to these passages in Hebrews as completed and a total fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. In fact, some would argue the "Israel" spoken of by Jeremiah was really the "Church" which God had in mind when He revealed the new covenant through the prophet. Because of that interpretation, they redefine the "house of Israel" mentioned in Jeremiah as being the NT Church.

But there is no reason to re-interpret the language of this prophecy when one understands the two facets of this prophecy being unfolded. The first involving Christ securing the salvific promises of the prophecy, what is addressed in Hebrews, but secondly, the eschatological prophecy of a national restoration for the nation of Israel. Note with the citation of Jeremiah's prophecy in Hebrews, the writer does not quote the remainder of the prophet's oracle, Jeremiah 31:35-40, where God promises that the "seed of Israel shall not cease from being a nation" and "God will not cast off the seed of Israel," and "Jerusalem will not be plucked up or thrown down any more forever." This is language of a future national restoration in an eschatological kingdom, not merely a spiritual fulfillment encompassing only salvation.

But, what about any specific restoration of land promises in the NT? The covenant Reformed are quick to point out no direct NT passage speaks to Israel being restored to their land. However, I believer that is not entirely accurate. Robert Saucy observes that the land is always connected to the nation of Israel in the OT. Thus, any reference to God's continued concern for the nation of Israel would most certainly have a territorial aspect [Saucy, 50].

Moreover, as Bruce Compton points out, Paul wrote of a future deliverance of the nation in Romans 11:26, 27; a deliverance which fulfills God's promise of a new covenant with national, ethnic Israel [Compton, 35]. Granted, some covenant Reformed guys like Robertson and Reymond attempt to interpret "Israel" in this passage as being God's elect, both Jews and gentiles, or the salvation of the Jews taking place throughout the history of the Church, but there is no exegetical warrant to reinterpret "Israel" in such a fashion. To do so represents an allegiance to the presuppositions of a theological system, not the intended meaning of the biblical text. It should also be noted that Paul cites Isaiah 59: 20,21 here in Romans 11:26, 27. Isaiah speaks of the deliverer (Jesus Christ) coming to Zion, a title for God's holy city which is in the physical land of Israel.

However, the most comprehensive NT discussion of Israel's restoration to their land is found in Luke's gospel and his record of Acts. John Mclean states that when we survey Luke's writings he used "Israel" 12 times in his gospel and with each time it clearly means national Israel and/or its people [Mclean, 222]. This meaning also continues through out the book of Acts as well.

Without going into a whole list of passages from Luke-Acts, allow me to concentrate on one passage in Acts. In Acts 1:1-8, right before Jesus was taken back into heaven, some of his disciples asked him if he would at this time restore the kingdom to Israel. Thoughts of Israel's kingdom were perhaps fresh on their minds, because according to Acts 1:3, the Lord spent 40 days speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Christ's responds to the inquiry, not by correcting them as to their misunderstanding about the kingdom, but by telling them it was not for them to know the times and the seasons which the father put in His own authority.

The typical covenant Reformed response to this question by the disciples is to say they misunderstood what Jesus meant by "Israel." The land promised to them wasn't the land of Israel per se, but as verse 8 reveals, it was the "land" of the whole world as they went out proclaiming the gospel after the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2. However, throughout His ministry, Jesus answered questions and corrected misconceptions people had. The Gospels record more than one hundred questions were asked of Jesus. With all those question asked of Him, only two of them, one by the high priest (Matt. 26:62, 63), and another by Pilate (Matt. 27:13), Jesus did not answer directly. With all the others, He responded to them with full answers, many times correcting the wrong thinking of His audience [Mclean, 219]. Thus, to argue that the disciples were misunderstanding His teaching on the Kingdom for the last 40 days prior to that question (Acts 1:3), is a bit of a stretch. I believe it is noteworthy to observe how Jesus did not offer any correction to the disciples' question about the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel.

Moreover, Peter continues to anticipate the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in his sermon recorded in Acts 3:17-23. He tells his Jewish audience that they must repent to receive the times of refreshing from the Lord, and then they will experience the times of restoration of all things. These "times of restoration," states Peter, were spoken of by the prophets. In other words, those OT prophecies that promise a restoration of Israel.

Now, there is still a question about the spiritual descriptions of the KoG and the land of Israel mentioned in the NT. For example, Abraham being said to be waiting for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-16). These passages strongly suggest that the hope of God's saints is not in restoration to a physical land and a physical city, Jerusalem, but rests in the certainty of a spiritual kingdom. Do these passages really teach this? That is what I will take up in the second portion of this study.


Craig Blaising, "Premillennialism," in Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Darrel Bock. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1999).

R. Bruce Compton, "Dispensationalism, The Church, and the New Covenant,"
Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 8 (Fall 2003): 3-48. online here

Larry R. Helyer, "Luke and the Restoration of Israel,"
JETS (Sept. 1993): 317-329.

John A McLean, "Did Jesus Correct the Disciples' View of the Kingdom?,"
Bibliotheca Sacra 151 (April-June 1994): 215-227.

Robert L. Reymond,
A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1998).

O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. (P&R Publishers: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2000).

Robert Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism. (Zondervan Publishing: Grand Rapids MI, 1993).


Thursday, May 21, 2009

State Ties

I have never ever seen one episode of American Idol. The closest I came was a Conan O'Brien bit where he had the insult comic dog puppet mocking all the disheveled wanna-bes lined up for an audition somewhere. It was hilarious.

At any rate, I clicked on Drudge this morning and was surprised to learn an Arkansas native, some college aged kid from down around Conway named Kris Allen, won the American Idol last night. The entire state is in a tither. I started to wonder if I was a distant relative.

Most Arkansans who manage to make it to the stage of national recognition tend to embarrass the rest of us Arkansans by either sitting in a tree for a year or becoming a president. For those who weren't around three years or so ago, you may enjoy an article I wrote about that:

The Gallery of Infamous Arkansans

Neil and Squirrel would particularly find it amusing if they hadn't seen it already.

Anyhow, he claims to be a Christian boy. Of course, pretty much everyone in Arkansas claims to be a Christian boy. I must admit I never met to many Arkansas Hindus from Possum Grape.

Yes, if you are wondering, it's a real place.

Right outside Newport, east of Pleasant Plains.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Christians, Compassion, and Being Gay

I have been receiving some interesting comments from an old acquaintance of mine under my post last week addressing Carrie Prejean. I thought the issues he raised in objection to some of the things I wrote against Perez Hilton specifically, and homosexuals in general, were well stated and worth bringing to the front page for consideration.

His primary objection is the use of what I guess could be called "incendiary" language to describe homosexuality.

Fred, your statement that they are only defined by "deviant behavior" shows your complete lack of understanding and ignorance on the subject.

If one were to read the other comments by my friend, he doesn't necessarily ascribe to the Bible the same amount of divine authority to inform men in our day and age as I would. That of course yields a significant difference with how we each identify man's sin problem and God's remedy. However, without going in to great detail with defending the authority of Scripture, suffice it to say, I believe God has given us an authoritative divine revelation that is relevant for addressing the human condition, and that includes sexuality. I also believe this God given revelation is fundamental in shaping one's life by informing a person's view of God, man, and the world in which we live, and how Christians are to understand and respond to homosexuals.

That stated, when I say homosexuality is "deviant behavior" I do so from a biblical position. I am not attempting to be needlessly mean-spirited. I am affirming a position clearly marked out in Scripture: homosexuality is unnatural and a deviation from what God has created regarding human sexuality. I have even written on this in a previous article.

The mistake of those who advocate homosexuality is to wrongly conclude harsh criticism of their lifestyle is intentionally mean-spirited and unloving. This is not the case at all as I, a person who takes God's Word seriously, attempt to address what God has declared as sinful.

He continues,

I wonder if you throw around calling people with a weight problem, "gluttons and temple-desecrators" or those who have been divorced and remarried, "adulterers and fornicators" or those who are a little too concerned with how many things they have "Idolaters". Do you call them out as easily as you do the gay "perverts?" If the church excluded all of the people who habitually did those things -- it would be an awfully small building.

Well, when it comes to individuals who habitually sin, then yes, a person who would habitually lie to me I would call a liar, or one who habitually engaged in adultery I would call an adulterer. This is what Scripture would call such a person engaged in unrepentant behavior. In 1 Cor. 6:9, Paul identifies people according to the characteristics of their sin. There are fornicators, thieves, and liars, and we are told such individuals engaged unrepentantly with these sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Now, that is not to say these people are unredeemable. Paul does go on to state in the following verses many of these people had been washed from their sin, justified by Christ, and filled with the Spirit, and now have a new identification. What sins that once habitually marked their life are now replaced with righteousness.

Moving along to another important thought to consider from Dan. He writes,

I spent 15 years in ex-gay ministries of some sort – doing my best to not be gay. Obviously I have my own baggage. My frustration is this asinine, ignorant assertion on the part of most Christians that being gay is simply a behavior that you just stop doing – then you aren’t gay anymore! Pretty simple. NOT. The behavior is only one part. There’s the issue of lust, controlling thoughts and the mind, there’s the shame of even having the thoughts in our society.


But there is no choice in being gay. If you are gay, you are – whether you ever have sex or not. Is it genetic? environmental? I don’t know. I suspect it is a combination of both. One thing it is not is simple.

I have always maintained that a person's struggle with homosexuality is real. It isn't some choice he or she intentionally decides to make in order to be trendy. Perhaps there are some cases like that, but for the majority of individuals who call themselves "gay" there are real, genuine struggles they experience, and it isn't a behavior they can decide to stop.

Identifying the source of these homosexual orientations, however, is probably where Dan and I would sharply disagree. Again, this goes back to our fundamental convictions regarding the authoritative nature of Scripture. Where as some would say being gay is genetic, environmental, or a combination of both, I would say ultimately it comes down to how sin permeates the whole being of mankind. If sin, as the Bible declares, separates men from the knowledge of God and orients them earthward, driving them to live in rebellion against God and stirring up inordinate affections, I would expect man's sexuality to be impacted by sin as well. Sexual sin may manifest itself in a variety of ways, both heterosexual as well as homosexual.

The question then is: Can a person change in any meaningful fashion?

I would say yes.

Now the immediate reaction from those who would consider themselves "gay" is to reply, "How can you say such a thing? No one can fundamentally change their internal nature!" The idea being a person who is "gay" has been determined to have this orientation by some outside factors beyond his or her control. There are a number of things to say in response to this charge, because I think it is wrongly assumed that because we are talking about sexual orientation and desire such change is impossible.

-- First off, all people across the world experience strong desires, impulses, and orientations, but we tend to categorize them as bad or good according to what offends or doesn't offend our sensibilities. For example, there are heterosexual people who often claim they have a sex addiction in which they must feed their sexual desires by frequenting many partners. However, we tend to look at these "desires" as being harmful to the individual and label them as "addictions" not orientations.

Now, I would imagine my friend would say this is a non-related illustration. These are straight people engaging in irresponsible, sexual behavior. He, as a gay man, doesn't engage in irresponsible, sexual behavior. But let me take it a step further, I have listened to testimonies of self-professed pedophiles who assert their sexual interest in pubescent girls or boys was an "orientation" much like homosexuality. Yet, even if they don't fulfill their "orientation" we still recoil in disgust from such people. They are treated as a threat to society and are psychoanalyzed to determine how they can change their "orientation." Why are they not allowed to cultivate their "orientation"? I think in our progressive culture it is naive to believe there isn't a sophisticated 10 or 11 year old willing to experiment with this lifestyle. All that is needed to do is lower the age of consent laws so they can be free to make that choice themselves. This of course is an absurd scenario (at least at this time in history), but point being: just because a person has an orientation or desire doesn't necessarily make it a good and healthy thing.

-- Secondly I think the work of sanctification is misunderstood. To say a person cannot change in relation to thoughts, deeds, and desires God has clearly declared as being sinful and against His created order, undervalues the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify a person and bring that person into conformity to God's standards of righteousness. Christ's salvation is more than being saved from eternal damnation. It also entails deliverance from the power and enslavement of sin. Paul's whole discussion in Romans 6 is to tell the Christian that sin no longer has the power over him as it once did (Rom. 6:6,7). Sin's dominion has been rendered inoperative, so that the Christian CAN live obediently to the righteousness of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit works in his life (Rom. 8).

Yet, this is a work of God's Spirit in the heart of sinners to re-orient them Godwardly by the regeneration of the Spirit. I believe Dan is correct when he wrote that 15 years of ex-gay ministries didn't do anything to change him. That's because ex-gay ministries can't do anything to change a person. In fact, no amount of Church related activities or ministries can do anything to change a person struggling with any sin in his or her life. That has to be a divine work of God alone in the person's heart. Certainly ex-gay ministries and serving in the local church have their place in the spiritual growth of a person, but they are not the starting point with dealing with sin, habits, trials, or any number of issues all men struggle with in their personal lives.

-- Then third, that brings me back to what I stated above about the authority of God's Word in a person's life. If the Bible is just a 2,000 year old book with nothing important to really say to us in 2009, as Dan implied in another comment, or if it is only a book which is important and influential, but should remain separated from the "worship" of the living God, then there is nothing objective on which we can truly base our relationship with God. All that is left is our individual subjective spiritual experience which determines how we express compassion.

We certainly cannot confront sin in any form, nor can we exhort believers in truth. In fact, how can anyone even really know anything objective about God's person and attributes? Unless there is an authoritative standard of revelation, no one truly can.

Usually the response is to say it is a relationship with the "living God," but how exactly does that "living God" explain Himself to the person? How can anyone know for sure the truthfulness of His will? For the "living God" may direct one person in a specific direction, where as he may direct another person in an entirely different direction. Those directions may be utterly contradictory, but no one can really say anything against such irrationality because the experience of a personal life journey trumps what objectivity may exist.

But, all of that to zero in on Dan's main point I believe if also important: Christians are regrettably known for their harshness and hatefulness toward people who would call themselves "gay." On this we are fundamentally agreed, and it is sad confession. There is a need to express to them Christ's love and compassion with both word and action. Christian's should not run from a person who says he or she is gay. They must be prepared to engage them with Christlikeness.

However, in spite of the Christians failing in this area, any expression of love and compassion they do give is not to be absent a confrontation of what has been revealed as sin in God's Word. To ignore those issues would not be loving, because it does not tell the person the total truth of what God has clearly stated in Scripture about homosexuality.

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Ida in Perspective

A couple of articles to put the so-called ape-to-man missing link in perspective:

Ida: the Missing Link at Last?

Ho-Hum, Another Human Missing Link

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Fred's Cali-e-ah-forn-yah Special Election Voter's Guide

A good portion of my readers will find this post utterly irrelevant because they don't live in California.

If you do live in California, you may be aware of the fact that tomorrow, May 19th, we have a special election taking place. The primary purpose of this election is to vote on raising our taxes in order to fill in the yawning state budgetary chasm created by politicians enslaved to our state's unions and our governor's impotence to do anything to reign in their boundless influence and power.

So, instead of exhibiting the terminator like fortitude to hunt down and execute the prison guard and California teacher's unions so that they will be forcibly removed from any and all political involvement within our state, we the people of California have been called upon to vote them more money to justify their existence. The last thing any power mad union needs is more money. Giving unions more money is like trying to stop an epidemic by driving the infected monkey to an airport.

For the last 3 months or so, we have been blitzed by their propaganda demanding we vote in their special election propositions. The grim sounding music with a deep voiced narrator earnestly predicting the certain lay offs of our teachers. The LA sheriff threatening to release criminals back into the streets. We either vote these propositions in or risk turning California into a lawless post-apocalyptic world in which children will be forced to attend charter schools and our cities will be turned into a cheesy John Carpenter movie.

There are 6 propositions we have to vote on, 1A - 1F. The key words and phrases to keep in mind as one surveys his or her's voter's guide information for these propositions is "state government," "temporarily," "borrows," "redirects," and "funds." The word "temporarily" to a liberal politician in the state of California is like the word "millennium" to an amillennialist: a vague, undetermined amount of time. Could be a short while, perhaps a long while. In fact, come to think about it, the words "borrows" and "redirects" are also quite vague. The only word that is absolute and fixed is "funds." Which literally means several billion dollars.

All of the first 5 propositions must be opposed and soundly defeated by voting NO. A radical dismantling of our state's worthless leftist policies is the only thing that would be beneficial for us all and if the failure of these propositions brings such a destruction on them, that can only be a good thing. If shooting these propositions down will also loosen just a bit the mind control big unions have on our society, that too will be a hundred fold improvement.

The only proposition perhaps voting YES on is 1F, the proposition that prevents state politicians from voting themselves pay increases during a state financial emergency. That is at least a step in the right direction, but I think they need to be forced to live by the laws of every other citizen like paying income tax and driving normal cars. That's just me.


Friday, May 15, 2009

20 Point Game

I noticed it says this was posted 3 years ago, so I imagine lots of you all have seen it. I hadn't. But it was so moving, I thought I would post it anyways.

Every once in a while, God gives those little blessings.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gun Control

"That's the last one of them I'm doin'"

Strangely, there is no cussing. Profanity is usually expected in a situation like that. Kudos on the self-control.

There is a blog, by the way: Mad Ogre
If you are really into Red State conservatism and guns. Which I am to some degree.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Best in Show

A Rant

I must confess that I am emotionally conflicted over this Carrie Prejean situation that has developed over the last couple of weeks.

On the one hand, it is disturbing to see how she has been brutally treated just because her opinion was opposite that of a sexual pervert who happens to have a popular celebrity blog. Honestly, what she said against so-called gay marriage would be nothing if Perez Hilton hadn't posted a video rant within an hour after the pageant bullying her as to what he thinks she should believe about sexual perverts like himself. In the words of my lovely wife, "He's a disgusting pig of a human being. It's like he enjoys wallowing in his own filth." Judging from what I have seen on his website, that is true.

But seriously. Talk about hypocrisy. This girl is being attacked because she holds the same opinion about marriage as Lord Obama, but she is subjected to crude, sexual ridicule by barking mad liberals? Who really is the hypocrite here? If she had been asked about abortion and she came out as a pro-death advocate for the murder of babies in the womb she would had been lauded as a brave hero and trotted out on The View and Oprah.

It truly is sick times we are living in when a small minority of people, only identified by their deviant behavior, can act as thought police and control discourse in our country. All those goofy futuristic movies like The Handmaid's Tale or Escape from LA in which a religious right, totalitarian government rules the world with an iron hand are utterly fraudulent. It is the left we should truly fear. They are crazy enough to enact their ideas on our population and eliminate anyone who stands against them.

However, on the other hand, I find it equally troubling how this 21 year old beauty pageant contestant has been turned into this mascot advocate for evangelical Christians families just because she made a 20 second comment supporting marriage being only between a man and a woman. She is being likened to Esther.

Huh? She's like Esther? You mean like in the Bible? What on earth?

First of all, I don't get the cultural fascination with beauty pageants. Other than watching half naked women glide across a stage, I have never understood the interest anyone has in them. Even back when I was a hot blooded teenager who was eager to catch any glimpse of half naked women gliding across stages, I thought the participants were narcissistic nit wits.

Oh, I'm sure there is some professor of western history at BIOLA who could go on Hugh Hewitt's radio program to explain how "Miss USA" is an important institution stemming from our Christian heritage here in the United States that has elevated women more than any other culture in our world. Are beauty pageants really in desperate need of being redeemed?

Even more weird to me is how Christian conservatives have traditionally pursued beauty pageants. It seems like every time I hear a "Miss America" or a "Miss USA" go on her rounds to speak, she will mention God and her "Christian faith." I guess I am at a loss why a Christian girl would want to pursue a life long career in beauty pageants and modeling when such are oriented towards the flesh and the spiritual darkness of one's soul.

Which brings me to this Carrie gal.

Would evangelicals have wooed her as a Christian "traditional family" advocate if she had not stated her opinion at all about marriage? Let's say she was asked about gay marriage and she stated what she stated in response to Hilton's question. But instead, that bully judge didn't make his video and she was never personally attacked by barking at the moon liberals in the media. In light of her positive comments in favor of biblical marriage, would Focus on the Family have invited her for two days in a row to talk about her faith and commitment to God? A bikini wearing, sexpot Christian girl for Jesus?

And I have to add that I am a bit staggered how evangelicals are straining credulity excusing her bare chested underwear pictures as if it's not her fault. "She was just 17." "They shouldn't have been released." "They are photo shopped by her secular enemies." "It's a despicable smear campaign to discredit her position against gays."

People. She did take those picture even if they were not meant to be released. Granted, some of the more nasty ones floating around the web are probably photo shopped just like the bad ones of Sarah Palin. But are you telling me the original photographer just tricked her into taking off her clothes?

Perhaps one can say she wasn't a Christian then and she regrets this part of her previous unbelieving life (which I have yet to hear her say), but lets shoot straight here (pun slightly intended): If a person were to go to Google and search the image data base for "Carrie Prejean," there are plenty of sexpot pictures of her AFTER she was 17. By the way, that is just four years ago as far as she is concerned, because SHE IS 21! Moreover, those pictures were meant to be released for promotion purposes, which means she did intentionally take them. Again when she was anywhere from 18 to 20 years of age! That is not the height of mature adulthood. To put how young she is in perspective, she was born one year after I graduated high school.

There is a reason why she is being mocked by the world: Christians, particularly women who advocate Christian family values, are suppose to display modest decorum with their dress, not sexual titillation. Why can Perez Hilton and his twisted sycophants get that, but red state evangelicals excuse it away?

In spite of the obvious disconnect that exists with this whole bizarre episode, why will I not be surprised if I see her Thomas Nelson published biography in Wal-Mart next month? I can already see the title: "Standing Strong: How a Modern Esther Risked All for God and Her Family."


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Nothing says emperor decadence like a liberal spending money on himself.

The John Murtha International Airport

*Sorry, there's a 15 second commercial before the video

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Monday, May 11, 2009

And speaking of literal

Here's a recent article providing some basic pointers about what it means to read the Bible "literally."

How to Recognize Symbolic Language

Some one should email Prof. Miguel a link.

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A "Literal" Pop Quiz

While doing my blog surfing, I was directed to an important pop quiz that will help determine how "literal" I read the Bible. Heaven forbid I read it too literally.

The opening challenge states:

No one reads or interprets the Bible literally – regardless as to what they profess. To do so is simplistic, if not dangerous. All of us read our bias, our theology, and our social location into the text. There is no such thing as an objective reading; all readings are subjective.

Really? No one reads it objectively? Not one person? Literalism is dangerous!?

The quiz was given by a guy named Miguel De La Torre. I had never heard of him before in my life. He teaches at a school in Colorado called Iliff School of Theology. I have never heard of it before, either. When I did a search, I learned that Iliff prides itself on being diverse. Checking the faculty page, the diversity is manifested by having a lot of women teaching the courses. They even boast of having 1/3 of their faculty from all sorts of backgrounds, including a Buddhist and a person who is the professor of "American Indian Cultures."

We never had studies in American Indian Cultures at Master's. I am sure my seminary education is severely crippled as a result.

According to Miguel's bio page, he has written a lot of books. A professor who has written a lot of books on the Bible certainly can teach us much on how literal I may read the Bible. At least you would think.

I do find it curious that Prof. Miguel doesn't even bother to define what he means by "literal" let alone what the traditional understanding of "literal" means to the historic, Bible believing Christians he wishes to bash. He begins with the presupposition that the Bible contains contradictions, and the closest he comes to even defining "literal" is charging those who read the Bible "literally" are worshiping the book, not the God who gave the book, because the Bible was never meant to be the fullest revelation of who God is.

I consider myself to be a "literalist." I read the Bible "literally," but I understand "literal" simply as interpreting the Bible in its natural, normal sense. The words of Scripture are to be treated the same way we treat any other words in ordinary daily use. Moreover, when I seek to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, I seek to understand the Bible in its historical, cultural, geographic, linguistic, and religious context in which it was originally written. I want to know what the originally writer meant to convey and I trust he can be understood literally as when he wrote. I also trust the God who ordained Scripture meant for His words to be understood in all cultures throughout all history because God has ordained human language to communicate His revelation to mankind.

Miguel thinks "literalists" like me are morons. He presents his pop quiz with the smug confidence his "literalist" readers learned all they know about the Bible from Chick comics and tracts. His quiz could easily have come from the rantings of some atheist website.

With that in mind, let's have a look at Miguel's pop-quiz he thinks exposes the ridiculous idea of reading the Bible "literally."

1. The biblical definition of a traditional marriage is one between a man and: a) many wives or concubines, b) sex slaves, c) prostitutes, d) his harem, e) all of the above.

In the answers provided at the end of the quiz, the correct answer is "e" according to Miguel. He believes that because the Bible records all these instances of "marriage" the Bible no where defines traditional marriage. In unspoken words, James Dobson has wasted 40 years of his life with that needlessly divisive ministry, Focus on the Family. But notice how Miguel ignores the first two chapters of Genesis, as well as Jesus' words in Matthew 19 affirming Genesis, along with Paul's in Ephesians 5. Those passages provide the standard definition of God ordained marriage: one man and one woman. All of these sins listed were truly (dare I say "literally") practiced in Israel, but that is not because no one knew how God defined marriage. They engaged in these sins in spite of their knowledge of God's established pattern, and in some instances were judged for it. Additionally, God gave specific laws to regulate these practices in order to protect the people involved, specifically the women.

2. Homosexuals are to be: a) tolerated, b) encouraged, c) killed, d) banned.

The correct answer is "c" according to the Levitical law. So the unspoken question by Miguel is, "Then why aren't they killed today, you hypocritical literalist?" As I noted in a previous post addressing Levitical law against homosexuality, homosexual sin was dealt with harshly in a theocratic kingdom. Christ has come and grace is extended to all sinners, not just homosexuals. But, that does not mean homosexuality is no longer a sin, just that the immediate death penalty is postponed. Paul makes it clear that no homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9ff.). They will be dealt with just as harshly as they were in theocratic Israel, only this time by God Himself in eternal punishment.

3. Women are saved: a) through baptism, b) by reciting a sinner’s prayer, c) through child-bearing, d) accepting Jesus, who died for their sins, as Lord as Savior.

The answer is "c" according to 1 Tim. 2:15. I take it that Miguel provides this passage because he thinks it contradicts the idea of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and "literalist" Christians are suppose to be left wringing their hands thinking a contradiction exists in the Bible between salvation by works and salvation by grace. I wonder if he thinks "literalists" are stupid. Does he believe none of them read the Bible at all? I mean, how can a literalist be "literal" if he doesn't read the Bible?

For a guy who has written a bunch of books on the Bible and teaches at a "school of theology" you would think he would know about grammar, syntax, semantic range of words, and the plain 'ole context of a given passage. Bill Mounce talks about the overlapping semantic ranges for the word "saved" in this passage in an insighful article, and Andreas Kostenberger thinks that semantic range suggest the salvation Paul was speaking about implies a salvation from the deception of Satan. There are some other possible understandings of Paul's words here, but to conclude we can't read the Bible literally because Paul is, as the apostle Peter even wrote, "hard to understand" at times, does not mean we can't know what the Bible says literally.

4. God tries to kill Moses, but does not because God is appeased by Moses’ wife Zipporah, who: a) cuts off the foreskin of her son’s penis and rubs it on Moses’ penis, b) offers up a bull as sacrifice, c) takes a vow of silence, d) prays for forgiveness.

This event is recorded in Exodus 4:24-26. Miguel says the answer is "a" but nothing in the texts suggests Zipporah rubbed the foreskin of her son on Moses's penis. Where he is getting that is beyond me. At any rate, I am stumped why he included this account in his quiz. Is he suggesting Zipporah did not literally circumcise her son and get angry at Moses about it? Why would it be a bad thing to not read this account literally as Exodus records it?

5. Evil and evil spirits come from: a) God, b) Satan, c) neither a nor b, d) both a and b.

The answer is "d." Again, I am guessing Miguel thinks it is a contradiction of sorts to have God commanding evil spirits to do His will with regards to confounding the enemies of His people. This question tells me he not only has a disdain for people who read the Bible literally, he also doesn't care for God's absolute sovereignty over everything, including evil spirits He sends to do His bidding.

6. Every year, one must take a tithe of all the land has yielded and: a) give it to the priests, b) give it to the church, c) give it to the poor, d) convert it to cash to buy wine, strong drink, or anything else their heart desires.

The answer is "d" for the quiz sake, but again, this is one of those questions that leaves me scratching my head as to why it challenges the literal reading of Scripture. I imagine Miguel threw this one in to chide the moral legalists he has encountered from the fundamentalist wing of the SBC who believe drinking wine in any form is sinful. But this passage does more to correct the legalism coming from the teetotaler arm of the SBC and what they promote at their yearly Ephesians 5:18 Conferences, than it does with reading the Bible literally.

7. The Bible makes provisions for offering a sacrifice to: a) nature, b) the demonic god named Azazel, c) God, d) a and d, e) b and c.

The answer is suppose to be "e," a sacrifice to both God and a devil god named Azazel. Of course, Miguel chose this example because he sides with the group of modern scholars who believe "Azazel," rather than being translated "scapegoat" as it is in practically every English translation, is really the personal name of a demon. But this view is a rather new perspective on Leviticus 16 that reveals more of a shift away from orthodox views of Christianity. Miguel being a professor at a progressively diverse "school of theology" would pretty much side with any perspective that is opposite traditional biblical Christianity (the "literalists").

Leviticus 16 pictures the dual work of the Day of Atonement. One goat was offered to God to cover sins, the other was let go to die in the wilderness, picturing the removal of sin. Azazel literally means "goat of removal." Eventually, the picture of the scapegoat typified the dual work Christ did on the cross for His people. He both covered over their sin from God's wrath and removed the penalty of their sin from them. It may had been that the wilderness was seen as the dwelling place for demonic spirits just because the place was, and still is, desolate, but nothing in the text suggests Israel offered one sacrifice to God and another to a devil god they happened to fear.

8. To call somebody a “dog” during biblical times was: a) a term of endearment meaning “my little one,” b) an epithet of contempt, c) slang for “favorite one,” d) a term meaning “young puppy.”

This is another strange question. Because the term "dog" can mean different ideas depending upon specific contexts, just like the term can today in our language (i.e., an ugly kid was called a "dog" when I was in grade school), I guess Miguel wants us to conclude no one can read the Bible literally. Which means to say he thinks context is pointless or that if anyone appeals to context that person is ignoring the obvious problems in the Bible.

9. My response to taking this test will be: a) stick my fingers in my ears and loudly sing “na na na na na,” b) question De La Torre’s salvation again while again stating never to read such commentary in ABP, c) ignore these parts of the Bible so I can maintain my literalism, d) read the text for what it says and struggle with it in the humility of knowing that a clear answer may not be evident in this lifetime.

Allow me to offer up my final question to Miguel: Now that I have debunked the purpose of your quiz and shown you that your view of "literalism" is born from bigoted ignorance you will respond by:

A) sticking your fingers in your ears and loudly singing "na na na na,"

B) question my ability to read the Bible,

C) ignore my answers so you can continue to live comfortably in your bubble of postmodern diversity and never have to acknowledge the reality of biblical absolutes,

D) repent of your man-centered view of Scripture, admit that God has clearly and precisely communicated His Word to us to be understood literally, and submit to its authority in your life.

Of course, the choice is yours, but something tells me you will do everything but "D" because it would mean you would have totally retool your view of God, Scripture, and your ministry.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

MacArthur on ID and Creationism

One final thought on the difference between intelligent design argumentation and biblical creationism. This time from my pastor who taught on creation back during the fall of last year.

This section is taken from his message The Theology of Creation available on-line here.

There are honest non-Christians who recognize the impossibility and non-existence of evolution in the world today and have honestly said that evolution is not an explanation of present reality and therefore it can’t be an explanation of prior reality. It isn’t happening now. It doesn’t happen, therefore it hasn’t happened. I’m glad for that. I’m glad for that kind of honesty in the scientific world. But while they are admitting that, they are not embracing the account in Genesis because if you embrace the account in Genesis as true, then you embrace the Bible as true and the God of the Bible as the true and living God and you get not only a Creator but you get a lawgiver and a judge. And so, they would love to find another alternative except the Creator God of Scripture. So you have the development of this new kind of science called ID, Intelligent Design, in which people acknowledge that there is behind this great reality of the universe a mind that is intelligent from which it all springs, but they are unwilling to acknowledge that to be the God of the Bible and Genesis to be the accurate account of creation.

So they come up with this non-threatening middle ground safe halfway zone called I.D., Intelligent Design. By the way, far from safe; it's deadly dangerous to reject the God of Scripture as Creator and therefore as Judge and as Redeemer.

Why do they do this? Well let me quote from my book. You know you’re in trouble when you start doing that. I wrote a book called Battle for the Beginning. “Evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and oust the lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His moral law. Evolution is the latest means fallen sinners have devised to suppress our innate knowledge of God and the biblical testimony to Him and that we are accountable to Him.”

So even if you reject evolution, there’s not a mad rush to embrace the God of Scripture because that brings to bear upon the sinner way too much responsibility and accountability. Evolution is not happening, it has never happened nor is it observable in the world in which we live and there is no reason to assume that something that doesn’t happen and never has happened was the way in which everything was created, particularly since no one was there and since the one who was there and who did it all has given us a complete revelation of exactly how He did it.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Inadequacies of Intelligent Design Argumentation

My post yesterday highlighting Melanie Phillips smackdown of anti-creationist Charles Johnson got me thinking about the need to clarify the true difference between Intelligent Design and biblical creationism. Johnson and his supporters all are under the self-imposed delusion that ID is just stealth creationism. But this is hardly the case as I have noted over the years posting on the subject of evolution and creationism. One of the first posts I ever wrote way back in 2005 was on the distinctions between ID and biblical creationism.

I recently finished reading one of the best books on biblical creationism published in some time, Coming to Grip with Genesis (see my review), and the editors wrote an epilogue in which they noted to key philosophical differences between ID and biblical creationism. They note at least six. I reproduced them here for your edification, slightly modified for my blog.

In more recent years, the Intelligent Design movement (IDM) has become popular in the Church. Most of the books generated by leaders in this movement have been published by evangelical publishers and have widely read in the Church. We greatly value the IDM arguments which expose the flaws of Darwinian evolution, and the sophisticated analysis which enables us to recognize design in nature (in contrast to what time, chance, and the laws of nature produce). These arguments have greatly supplemented the design arguments that young-earth creationists have used for decades both before and after the IDM arose.

We also appreciate the attention that the IDM has drawn to the influence of naturalism in Darwinian science. Ben Stein's provocative 2008 movie Expelled is a timely expose', demonstrating that the "evolution verse creation/design" debate is actually a worldview conflict, not a "science verses religion" debate. We believe that Expelled is extremely helpful and will open many people's minds to the nature of the battle. So we will continue to warmly appreciate and use much of what the IDM
has produced and encourage them to press on in the battle.
Having said this, we must also highlight briefly our concerns about the impact that the IDM is having on the Church.

First, from our reading and experience we believe it influences Christians to downplay the Word of God on this issue of the age of the earth, leading them to think it is somehow less clear in its teaching than science is. Books by IDM scholars might make some general reference to the Bible, but this often looks like an afterthought, or proof-texting, instead of seriously engaging the best exegesis related to the age of the earth, especially on Genesis. Also, many IDM leaders lecture in Christian contexts (churches, Christian universities, seminaries, Christian radio and TV, etc.). In those settings they either generally ignore Genesis (or at least one read naturally) as the promote old-earth views. This is not surprising since many in the movement are not evangelicals or necessarily even Christians. Leaders at the IDM's primary think tank, The Discovery Institute, are very frank about the fact that the movement has no religious boundaries. This ignoring of the
biblical text would not be a problem if Scripture said nothing related to geology, cosmology, and the age of the creation. But it does. And no serious follower of Christ can justifiably ignore His Word or superficially examine the relevant Scriptures on this subject.

Second, while the IDM leaders are good at highlighting the heavy influence of philosophical naturalism in biology, they ignore its equal domination of geology and astronomy, which is why most IDM proponents have accepted the millions of yeas as proven scientific fact. But, as we've shown, naturalism took control of geology and astronomy over 50 years ago before it took control of biology through Darwinianism. In fact, the former laid the foundation for the latter, which then has been the basis for evolutionizing every other field of study of the stranglehold of science by philosophical naturalism. Evolution is like a rope made of three inseparable cords: biological evolution (origin and historical development of life), geological evolution (origin and historical development of planet Earth), and astronomical evolution (origin and historical development of the cosmos and heavenly bodies). Christians are not really dealing adequately with evolution or philosophical naturalism if they do not realize this and deal with the biblical teaching on the age of the creation.

Third, because IDM arguments only focus on design, they do not seem to fully appreciate the theological importance of the origin of the natural evil we see in the world or, if they grasp the problem, they do not offer an adequate answer that is consistent with scriptural teaching about the Fall. Evolutionists have long pointed to disease, mutations, and natural disasters, concluding that if this is the work of an intelligent designer, he is sadistic. These sentiments go back as far as Darwin, who in an 1856 letter to Joseph Hooker, wrote, "What a book a Devil's Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blunderingly low and horridly cruel works of nature." Unless we believe what Genesis says about the initially perfect creation where there was no animal or human death and what it says about the cosmic impact of the Fall of Adam in sin, then we are not offering a fully biblical theodicy to the most common objection to the Christian faith (i.e., how can there be a loving God with all the death and suffering and natural evil [e.g. hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis] in the world?).

Fourth, IDM arguments do not constitute a real alternative to old-earth evolutionism because the IDM arguments do not have a history attached to them. Inevitably, questions arise.
When did the "intelligent designer" do the creative work? Was everything created in one act? If so, how long ago? If not, what order were things created and how much time was between each creative act? Did "he" create only simple living cells and all plants and animals evolved from there with (or without) "his" providential control or intervention? Or did tangible narrative, the IDM arguments are no match for the evolutionist theory to explain all of reality. We submit that only a fully biblical view of origins and history is an adequate alternative to deep-time evolutionism.

Fifth, while creation certainly does point to a designer, it does more than that, according to Scripture. It points to the God of the Bible (Rom. 1:18-20). But IDM leaders either downplay this fact or in effect deny it, which is why evolutionists (who are not spiritually discerning) continually charge that the IDM is a covert form of young-earth creationism. In reality, most IDM leaders are quite strongly opposed to the young-earth view.

Finally, and fleshing out the previous point, the IDM arguments can only lead a person to belief in some vaguely defined "intelligent designer." According to Michael Behe, a leader in the IDM, the design arguments alone do not preclude the conclusion that the designer was a group of alien beings in outer space. Scripture, on the other hand, says that the creation bears clear witness to the true and living God, Creator of heaven and earth. The IDM, therefore, is overlooking much of the evidence (which points to God's holiness, justice, and wrath, as well as his love and intelligence and power). As a result, there are strange bedfellows in the IDM: deists, pantheists, and various kinds of theists. ...

So the IDM arguments do not necessarily lead people to Christ. If they do open a person to the idea that God exists, culminating later in conversion to Christ, such a person may have a struggle in believing Genesis because he has likely only had an accommodationist hermeneutic modeled for him. If his main mentors have shied away from "divisive reading of Genesis," where will a proper hermeneutical approach to Scripture be acquired? It is likely that he will have a lingering emotional attachment to IDM authors and their books which have helped him to believe in a Designer. In contrast, many people (and not a few scientists) are being won to Christ, and Christians are being won back to full confidence in Genesis by young-earth creationist presentations which employ both scientific and biblical arguments.

IDM leaders have a vision, represented by what Johnson calls the "wedge" strategy. The reasoning seems to be that if we start by dismantling the evolutionary paradigm in biology and getting biologists to embrace the intelligent designer concept, then later on we can work on the questions of the Creator's identity and the age of creation. If we get the wedge into the log of the evolution paradigm and open that crack big enough, then the log will split, it is hoped. But, we contend, this is a mistaken vision, because the Bible says that people who are not in right relationship with God are suppressing the truth in unrigtheousness (Rom. 1:18-20). The majority of biologists will never be won over to the intelligent design position, because ultimately this is a spiritual, worldview conflict, not a scientific debate.

Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (429-433)