Posts Tagged ‘creation’

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right Wing Christians Do Part 5

July 30, 2014

Do Christians undermine science? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Once again, I’m letting Allie have this one. Please let me know what you think about what my Mrs. has to say.

“We are half-way through with the going through the topics in the article: http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C1 We are now at 5. Undermining science is evil. This could be another long one like the first one because this is a very touchy subject. A lot of people are under the opinion that Christians do not support science at all. People are under the opinion that Christians are stuck in the Dark Ages and believe all science is bogus unless the Bible says it clearly. There are even people who think all Christians do is pray and refuse medical care that could help them (mostly the Jehovah Witnesses refuse medical care though). Let’s get started in clearing up this up.
The first thing the article does is talk about how the scientific method has helped the world greatly, “It’s the reason most of our children don’t die before hitting the age of five. It’s the reason broken legs heal straight, sky scrapers don’t collapse, and our houses are warm in the winter. It is what alerted us to the fact that our carbon consumption has become an existential threat.” Okay, there’s no disagreement there, I’d say the majority of Christians would agree with you (writer) there. The article then says “the scientific method has also become an existential threat to Bible belief.” No surprise they would think this, this is a common argument that if I might be frank is a stupid one; but is unfortunately leading so many young people away from Christ because that is what our schools are teaching in grade school and universities. “We know now that the Genesis creation story is myth,” this is an assumption, not a fact. There are many scientists who even show through the scientific method the Genesis creation story actually happened. Take Dr. Hugh Ross for example, he’s well respected and you can watch one if his videos on this here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPvO2EkiLls). He also has a ministry covering this called Reasons to Believe (http://www.reasons.org/) or even check out his book “Creation As Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/evolution Wars” (http://www.amazon.com/Creation-As-Science-Testable-evolution/dp/1576835782). The next accusation “neurotransmitters rather than demons cause mental illness,” can be true for some cases and not for other cases. This is a very difficult and delicate matter. There are extremes on both sides. There are those like the author of this article who say “Nothing is caused by a demon” and those who say “Everything is caused by a demon!” They are both wrong. I recommend Jeff Harshbarger’s book “Dancing With the Devil: An Honest Look Into the Occult from Former Followers” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1616386959). I know him personally and he does not have a mental illness. He was formerly a Satanist and God rescued him from death and a path of darkness! He now runs a ministry to help people involved in the occult. The next issue they bring up is “mandrake roots and dove blood don’t improve female fertility or cure skin diseases”. I agree, in today’s culture. They had a link to to this; it discussed how this was in the Abrahamic Law (because honestly I had never heard of this before). Again, they accuse Christians of only praying instead of having any other healthcare. They quote James 5:14-15 to support their argument. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. No doubt for a Christian, prayer is very important. It’s how we communicate with God. It’s not just Christians who pray, other religions pray. In fact, there are some religions who pray today even more dedicated and often than most Christians do (such as Muslims). I do not wish to be Muslim, but I often wish I was dedicated in my prayer life like Muslims often are. Even Eastern religions pray in the form of meditation. Now, none of these religions pray to the same God, but they still pray. Prayer can also be very helpful. There are many medical cases where prayer has helped, but there are times prayer did not help (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090617154401.htm). This is not because God wasn’t there or not listening, but as cliche as this sounds, he had different plans. I have lost close family members to cancer, and even now I still wonder, “Why God? Why did you take them away? Why didn’t you heal them? Don’t you know I still need them? Don’t you know the rest of their families still need them? You let them suffer only to die? Why?” I can’t imagine what some of you are going through, who have lost a spouse or a child. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you have. But God has not abandoned you, not even for a moment. Remain in him, and he will remain in you. So this link from the article then says “Throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New, physical health is largely a spiritual matter. Healings come from prayers, rituals of repentance, and miraculous intervention. In Chronicles King Asa, who has a severe foot ailment, is held up as a bad example for seeking help from physicians and not from God. By contrast, King Hezekiah prays when he falls ill, and Yehovah adds fifteen years to his life.” King Asa was a wicked king and because he wouldn’t turn to God and repent of his wickedness, he was cursed with the severe foot ailment. He’s not held up as a bad example because he saught out help from physicians. He’s a bad example because he was wicked and even after he was cursed with the foot ailment, he still did not turn to God. He refused to turn to God and kept seeking out for help from others. Now King Hezekiah, when he saw what he had done, he turned to God and repented. He felt remorse and changed his pride and with that, God blessed him. Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the LORD’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime. (2 Chronicles 32:26 NLT) Next they say, “Like prescriptions against homosexuality, Hebrew and early Christian health practices appear to be shaped largely by surrounding cultures and the ‘yuck factor.'” We really don’t have time to get into this debate right now, but homosexuality was a sin – an abomination to God. It wasn’t a “yuck factor.” It was what God deemed to be wrong. If you’re going to call homosexuality a yuck factor, you might as well call ALL sins yuck factors. Yes, I said all of them. Stealing, adultery, lieing, murder (including hate), etc. All of them are yuck factors in the eyes of God just as much as homosexuality. You can’t just single out one sin and say one sin is greater than the other. They are all sin. They all have consequences to them. You can get some pretty nasty STD’s for example from homosexuality practices (http://www.cdc.gov/stdconference/2000/media/stdgay2000.htm). They were being obedient to God and at the same time helping their fellow brother and sisters when they fall into temptation. That’s why today there are Christians who try to help people with their homosexuality. It’s not because they hate them, but the opposite – they love them! I love my husband dearly, but ever since I was a teenager I have struggled with bisexual tendancies. It’s something not very many people know about me. Don’t get me wrong, I was always “boy crazy.” But there was always a dark part of me that was attracted to girls too. I kept this side of me quiet mostly because as a Christian, I knew it was wrong and I didn’t want to act out on it. I remember being so ashamed of myself of sometimes being more turned on when I saw a woman than when I saw a man. My dad was in ministry and I felt if anyone ever found out, it could ruin his ministry! I remember asking my mom once, “If it turned out I was a bisexual, would you still love me?” and she said, “Of course we would!” Then I told my dad once that I was a bisexual and he laughed and didn’t believe me. It really hurt because this was a real struggle for me and yet he didn’t think it was real. There were times at school I would have visions of me kissing girls I knew and I would try to shake them out of my head, how they haunted me! Before I got married, I thought “Surely this will go away! I’m going to be married and I’ll get to be with him whenever I want however much I want!” Even so, it’s still a struggle. I still have visions of being with other women and I still have to shake them out of my head. It even happens while I’m praying and I just have to trust God and ask him to help me through those times. I was abused by men, so it only makes sense that I’d be attracted to women. Anyway, I’m saying all this because I know it’s a struggle. It may be even more of a struggle for you. I know for me there have been times, even now, where I have almost started making out with a woman. The temptation is so strong, and the temptation seems to only get stronger the older I get. I’m so glad my husband is so patient with me and he still cares about me even through this struggle I have. But we can get through this! You have to fight it! This is an on-going war and some people get over it completely, and some people struggle with it all their lives. For me, I know I will probably struggle with this all of my life. But I’m a fighter! We are soldiers in Christ and when we fall he helps us back up! When we are weak and feel like we can’t fight it anymore, rely on him and he will be our strength! God is not going to abandon us no matter what our struggle is! Keep fighting it and in the end you WILL be victorious! So the link moves on to talk about Dermatology with dove blood by quoting these verses from the Book of Leviticus.
Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!’”As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46).
The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. (Leviticus 14:14)
I recommend watching this humerous video that explains this by J.P. Holding (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qhB_8ge88o). The next thing the link talks about is how they believed mandrakes were a fertility agent and they quoted Genesis 30:9-22 – Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Genesis records this, it does not say the mandrakes gave Leah the son. Leah also gave up the mandrakes to Rachel, so how could the mandrakes have given her the fifth son if she gave up the mandrakes? Some of the other things the link goes through (if you get a chance to look through) I’m not answering because they have to do with the cleanliness and the video J.P. Holding did explains all this. The link then talks about how psychiatry and neurology are treated through exorcisms, mainly in the New Testament by Jesus and early Christians. Demons would cause things such as muteness, epilepsy, and abnormal strength. It’s easy to dismiss demons when you’ve never experienced demons or don’t believe demons exist. Personally, I have experienced them since I was very little – four years old to be exact. I was never posessed but they haunted me much of my life. It’s funny, a lot of people are more willing to believe there are ghosts roaming the world than to believe there are demons. The things I saw as a child, others saw around me, so it could not have been a hallucination. There are no such things as group hallucinations. You can have mass hysteria, but a group hallucination is clinically impossible. Believe me, I know from personal experience. I have delt with demons in the past, and I have also delt with hallucinations. You may ask, “How can you tell the difference?” It’s difficult to tell the difference now honestly. You see, I didn’t always have hallucinations. The hallucinations started after I had a massive drug overdose when I tried to kill myself five years ago (God was gracious enough to protect me through that). I have a brain injury from that which causes me to have hallucinations now (which I am being treated for). The only way now I can really tell if it’s a hallucination is mostly how my cat reacts when I see/hear something. My cat mostly follows me around the house everywhere I go and if I see something unusual, I look at how my cat reacts. If my cat is relaxed (my cat is very skittish – he’s a rescue and we believe he may have been abused before we got him), I know it’s in my head. But if my cat runs away frightened or acts defensively (like he is protecting me from something), I know something isn’t right. Animals can detect things we humans typically can’t. Next they talk about preventive care and say all they do for that is worship. They don’t do any nutrition or exercising, just worship. They quote these verses:
There is no other God beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal. (Deut. 32:39)
Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. (Ex. 23:25-26)
The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. (Deuteronomy 28:27)
First of all, nothing in the Bible says they didn’t exercise or do nutrtion. In fact, Paul in the New Testament uses many metaphors to sports! Not to mention think of all the walking they had to do, everywhere they went. There were no cars. Sure they had camels, donkeys, and horses. But not everyone had the luxery of riding animals or chariots. All the walking people did back then going city to city had to have burned some major calories! Plus, if Paul used metaphors with sports, it must mean they understood sports and probably played some (finishing the race). Therefore, this is automatically an assumption they made, not a fact. As for using these verses to prove their point, God is so powerful. I mean, he created the entire universe. He created life itself. If someone is so powerful that they created all life, could they not just as easily take any life away? If this being has the ability to heal, could they not also have the ability to wound? Let’s take it even deeper: if this being is able to create life, does this being have the right to do whatever he wishes to do with them? Doesn’t he have the right to choose to wound them or heal them if he wishes? Doesn’t he have the right to give life or take life if he wishes? When I am working on my artwork, I have every right to do as I please to do with my artwork. Now of course my artwork is not a living being, but my artwork has a different sense of life in itself. I can choose to make any edits I want. I can choose to frame it or toss it in the trash. I have a right to what I created. Doesn’t God have rights to what he’s created? Of course, there’s a difference between the artwork I make, and the artwork God has made. My artwork comes to life in a different sense. But God’s artwork is literally alive! It literally lives and breathes! We are made in his image and he is constantly forming us and changing us to be more like him. But when we die, it’s not like he’s tossed us into the trash! When Jesus reaches his hand out to us and tells us to “Follow me,” we either give him our hand back and follow him or we walk away. If we follow Christ, we will be with him when we die. If we walk away from him, we will be in a place of destitute. A place filled with pain and anxiety beyond anything you could ever imagine and I pray that you will not reach that place, reader. God blessed his people when they followed him and he still blesses us today. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get rich. That doesn’t mean your aches and pains are going to go away. God blesses us in so many different ways, we often times don’t even realize it. Blessings can even come in disguises. When we go through good times, we can often forget about God. We forget about the things he’s done for us and the things he’s blessed us with. We even get arrogant and prideful and think, “I did this” or “this is MY doing.” Then when when things go wrong and we have nowhere and no one else to turn to, we get down on our knees and cry out to God for help. We realize we don’t have everything together. It’s during those times when we are so vulnerable and weak that God shows his love for us and comforts us. He gives us strength to get through it and he leads us through it. We realize “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NLT) So we go back to the main article and they say, “the cognitive structures of the human mind predispose us to certain kinds of religious belief.” They link to the book “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer. My question is, “If all religions come from a certain part of the brain, why are there so many different religions that disagree on so many factors?” If religion comes from a certain part of the brain, then morals must also according to the author right? But different people have different morals (though there are many morals that people will agree on – such as don’t kill people). A lot of people like the author of the article would probably say morals are relative and only matter to individuals. “Your morals work for you and my morals work for me.” If morals are relative and basically mean nothing, what if that person went to a country where there are cannibals living there. According to the morals of those cannibals, there’d be nothing wrong with eating this particular person. But is this particular person going to say, “Hey it’s all good, I’ll be your dinner”? No way! They’re going to do whatever they can to get away from there as quickly and safely as possible! How about another example. Say you get a new laptop and you invite a friend over to show them. The friend admires the laptop for a moment, then picks it up and starts heading out the door. You yell at your friend, “You can’t take my laptop! You’re stealing!” What if your friend says in response, “Your morals call it stealing, but according to my morals there’s no such thing as stealing! I can just take whatever I want!” Are you going to let them take your laptop because their morals say it’s okay? No! If you can’t get it back you’re going to call the police and file a theft complaint about your friend! Morals are relevant to these sort of people unless it interrupts their morals. It’s a double-standard. Morals come from the Law in the Torah (Old Testament) which came from God. But God also imprinted these morals onto our hearts.The last paragraph the article says on this topic is, “It may boggle moral credibility that believers intent on propping up the Bible would sacrifice humanity’s best hope of beating the enormous threats we face, threats like resource depletion, food and water shortages, climate change, and rapidly evolving superbugs. But if there’s any overarching theme to Christian history it is this: the end justifies the means.” This is more assuming. Christians worry about these things too. There are Christians working on solving some of these problems more than governments are. Places in Africa for example that don’t have any clean water, Christians are digging wells there and getting filters, as well as feeding many poor communities. Many soup kitchens for example are run by Christians. You don’t see the government feeding the poor. You don’t see the government digging wells to access more water and handing out water filters for people to have clean water. A lot of governments around the world actually take these things away from people instead of giving them these necessities. Even medical care. There are many Christians who will go to some of the poorest places and give out free medical care. So before accusing Christians of not caring about these issues, actually do your research and quit your complaining!
Our next topic is: 6. Promoting holy war is evil.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Four Views on the Historical Adam

March 5, 2014

What did I think of this counterpoints book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend sent me this wanting to see what I thought of it. He also figured I’d eat it up since I am a major fan of the work of John Walton. In that case, he is entirely correct and it’s not a shock that in my eyes, Walton did indeed deliver.

I will say also that at this point, I do believe the case for a historical Adam is far stronger than the case against. At the same time, I am not ready to make the belief in the existence of Adam a point of salvation. Salvation is based on belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not based on belief in Adam.

The one essay in the book that argued against a historical Adam, that of Denis Lamoureux’s, also contained a wonderful story about his coming to Christ and it’s apparent throughout the work that he has a great love for Jesus Christ and a high regard for Scripture.

In reviewing this book, I’d like to look at in order the essays that I found most persuasive and why.

It is not a shock that I found Walton’s to be the most persuasive. Since reading The Lost World of Genesis One, I have been amazed by Walton and that book has forever shaped the way I read Genesis. Naturally, I have a great admiration as well for the book he co-wrote with Brent Sandy called The Lost World of Scripture.

Walton argues that Adam is the archetype of humanity. The text does not say anything about if Adam was the first human or if he was the only one at the time before Eve was created, but it does argue that he is the one who is the representative of us all. Walton also argues that the text says nothing about the material origins of man but rather a statement such as being dust refers to our mortality. He also argues that God did not really perform divine surgery but that the text is written in a way to show that Adam realized Eve was of the same nature as he was and was meant to be his helpmate.

The argument is impressive, but I would like to have seen some other points. For instance, I would have liked to have seen more about his view of the Garden of Eden itself, though I realize that that was not the scope of the book, it would have helped explain the relation between Adam and Eve more in their historical context. Also, the biggest pushback in the counter essays to Walton was on his view of the firmament in day two and this wasn’t really addressed. I know his view has become more nuanced since The Lost World of Genesis One was published and I would have liked to have seen more on that.

The second essay I found most persuasive was that of C. John Collins. Collins comes from an old-earth perspective more along to the lines of what one might see from Reasons To Believe. I found Walton did make a case for how his view would fit consistently.

Yet at the same time, I wondered about some aspects of his essay. Did he really make a case for reading Genesis as he suggested to refute the young-earth position, especially since one scholar in the book is a young-earth creationist? I did not see that presented enough. I also did find his essay contained more concordism than I would have liked.

The next on the list is Denis O. Lamoureux who argued that Adam did not exist. I found it amazing to see that Lamoureux did hold to a high view of Scripture in fact proclaiming his belief that it was inerrant. His case was a fascinating one for no Adam and he did seek to bring into play the NT evidence as well.

Yet I found myself wondering if this was really necessary. The genealogies and other such arguments do lead me to the position of a historical Adam. I do not see how Lamoureux’s position does in fact explain the origin of sin in the world and the problem of evil. Still, it is worth seeing what that side has to say.

The least convincing to me was that of William D. Barrick who argued for a young-earth and a historical Adam. It is not because I hold a disdain for YECs. My ministry partner is a YEC. My wife is a YEC. I do have a problem with dogmatic YECs however, and that includes someone dogmatic in most any secondary position. I would have just as much a problem with a dogmatic OEC.

Barrick too often was pointing to Inerrancy and seeing Scripture as the Word of God as support of His position and agreeing with what God has said. Now naturally, every Christian should want to agree with what God has said, but your interpretation might not be what God has said. This is built on the idea sadly that the Bible was written for the context of a modern American audience. I do not see this.

I have also seen firsthand the damage that is done by assuming that if you believe in Inerrancy, then you must believe in a certain interpretation of Scripture. I would not argue against a Jehovah’s Witness, for instance, that he denies Inerrancy, even though he denies essential tenets of the Christian faith. I would argue against his interpretation. Inerrancy says nothing about what the content of Scripture specifically is. It only says that whatever the content is, that when Scripture affirms something, it affirms it truly.

Also, Barrick did not make any arguments for a young Earth that I saw from a scientific perspective. Now he might discount this as man’s reason and such, but I would have liked to have seen something. I do not think these arguments work since I am not YEC, but I still would have liked to have seen them.

After all, if we are going to just simply say “We don’t need man’s reason” then my reply to that is “Then I do not need to read Barrick.” I do not need to go to his seminary and sit in his class and learn from him. I do not need to go to a church service and hear a pastor speak. I have everything I need with just myself.

Yet I will not be the one who thinks that the Holy Spirit has only guided me into truth and everyone else is just ignorant.

Sadly in many ways, it comes across as just a self-righteous and holier than thou approach to argumentation. I do not think that that is at all conducive to good debate and discussion and while of course the case of Scripture is supreme, there is no harm in looking at extra-Biblical sources. The Bible was not written in a vacuum and we dare not proclaim there is a cleft between the book of Scripture and the book of nature.

The book ends with essays by Greg Boyd and Philip Ryken with Boyd arguing that Adam is not an essential to the faith and Ryken saying that if we don’t have a historical Adam, then Christianity is seriously undermined.

Frankly, I see Ryken’s argument as a kind of paranoia in Christians that if you take this one step, then everything goes down from there. I do not see the argument that if there is no Adam, there is no original sin and thus no need of a savior. If I need to see original sin, I just need to turn on the evening news and see that there is a need for a savior. If I want to see if Christianity is true, I look and see if Jesus is risen. I find it bizarre to think that we could say “Yeah. Jesus came and died and rose from the dead, but Adam didn’t exist so Christianity is false.” I can’t help but think of what G.K. Chesterton said in Orthodoxy:

“If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.”

I highly recommend this volume as an important work on an important question. While I do not think this is a salvation question, I do think this is an important one and one worth discussing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Genesis One: The Lost World

June 20, 2013

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

How old is the Earth? Is it 6-10,000 years old, or is it 4.5 billion years old? Most of us have decided the place to go to is Genesis 1 and this has been the battleground for the topic. Each side has been ready to cast out the other and charges of heresy fly around. (For all concerned, I am an OEC who has a ministry partner that is YEC and a wife that is YEC)

The underlying assumption for each side has been that this is what Genesis One is talking about. This Saturday, I will be interviewing a guest that says “No. Both sides have it wrong. Genesis One is not talking about that at all.” My guest is John Walton of Wheaton who wrote the book “The Lost World of Genesis One.”

Walton says that in our scientific mindset due to the enlightenment, we have had an emphasis on the material aspects of creation, but Walton says the ancients didn’t think that way. For them, something wasn’t truly said to exist until it was given a function, and thus the account of creation as we call it is not about the material creation, but the functional creation of the universe.

And what is the whole purpose of all of this? Walton tells us that the main goal of creation was to make a temple for which God would dwell in. The deity’s idol would often sit in the temple as well, which would be that which bore the deity’s image. This means that we are an integral part of the creation. We were made to serve in a temple that reflects the glory of God.

This thesis I find extremely fascinating. It fits in so well with the NT and the writings of N.T. Wright on God wanting to dwell with His people and on eventually the new heaven coming down to Earth. It also has the advantage of doing what I’ve said should be done for some time, getting to the way the ancients would have read the Bible and trying to move away from our modern presuppositions.

Yet this view is not without its critics. There are two especially we will be discussing. One is William Lane Craig who has made a number of statements with regards to Aristotlean philosophy. Has Walton committed a grave blunder in his reasoning? We will be asking him.

Another is Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe. I do wish to state upfront that I do respect both Ross and Craig. I am a member of the local chapters of Reasons To Believe and Reasonable Faith, but I am of course allowed to disagree. Ross comes from another perspective.

Ross does believe the Bible contains scientific information in the account and defends a more concordist position. Ross is concerned about removing a scientific witness to the world from the Bible and what it means to tell modern man the Bible says nothing in regards to science. There are also concerns about Inerrancy that have come up. (Not that we’re unfamiliar with the code word of Inerrancy being used to drum up suspicion)

Chances are, you might have your own questions as well for Dr. Walton. If you do, I welcome them. The show time will be from 3-5 EST on June 22, 2013. Our call in number is 714-242-5180. I hope you’ll be listening in for an enjoyable episode of the Deeper Waters podcast.

The link to the show is available here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Poythress, Science, and the Bible

May 14, 2013

What are we to think of the debate on Adam? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend of Deeper Waters recently sent me an article wanting a response. It’s written by Vern Poythress and can be found here. My problem mainly with how to approach this is that I am not a scientist. I do not speak in scientific terms and if I have no reason to think that someone has not done strong scientific study, I question their statements. Theologians, philosophers, and historians who wish to speak on science as science should study science as science.

Unfortunately, those in the other camp don’t often follow that advice as well. Atheists who are authorities on science seem to think they’re automatically authorities on history, philosophy, theology, morality, etc. They could be if they have also done sufficient background study, but all too often, they have not.

So let’s deal with some concerns.

First off, what about evolution? Here’s my response. I don’t care.

“What? Did I read that right?”

Yes. Yes you did. Christianity relies on the truth that God raised Jesus from the dead. Everything else is secondary. If we can establish God raised Jesus from the dead, then it would not matter if we are here due to a long evolutionary process. It might mean we have to change our understanding of Genesis, (and quite frankly, even if evolution is false, I think we need to change it) but we still have Christianity. Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection and not the creation.

What about Adam? Recently in my reading of Genesis, I noticed something. I cannot recall God naming the man Adam. The word simply means, according to what I’ve studied, man. So many times in the text is says “The man.” It seems quite likely that a man showed up at one point, however that came about, that we are all descended from. Personally, I lean more towards God acting in a divine way to make man, but if I am wrong, it will not shipwreck Christianity at all.

Part of the problem with the emphasis on creation is that we have this idea that if God did not create the way we think He did, then He is inactive in the universe. If God is not active, then we could be deists, but if He did not even create, then we might as well be atheists or agnostics. I find this idea problematic right at the start since it has this implicit idea that God’s chief activity is creation.

Creating, as it is, is nothing essential to the nature of God. God could be God even if He never created anything. What must God do? God must exist and what He does with that existence is up to Him. He has chosen to create, but the property of existence is the main feature of God.

Picture stepping outside your door and seeing a huge pile of money one day and your thought could be “What brought that about?” In other words, “What is the cause of the existence of what I see before me?” Now picture stepping outside and instead hearing a strange sound that isn’t ending and asking “What is the cause of this sound?” In this case, you are not likely looking for what brought it into being, but also what is keeping that sound going.

The point to make is that the same can be said of the pile of money on the front porch as well. Does it contain within itself the principle of its own existence? The answer is no. Only God has that. God is the only one that must necessarily exist. Everything else exists by the power of God. That means that God’s work with the universe is not just creation, but sustenance.

“Well is that biblical?”

Yes. Profusely so.

1 Cor. 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Note that all things come from God and all things are through Jesus. The Godhead is sustaining our existence.

Col. 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Note in verse 17 that all things hold together in Him. God in Christ is sustaining all that is.

Hebrews 1:2-3 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

The same pattern emerges again with Christ upholding the universe.

Job 34:14-15 If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust.

Again, if God removes His being, we cease to exist.

The study of existence is metaphysics and it cannot be touched by science. Science deals with a type of existence, namely material existence, but it cannot deal with existence as existence. Note also that each branch of science deals with a different type of material existence as well. None of this is to lower science, but it is to point out that it is not the supreme study.

What do we do with creation then? We could keep in mind what a writer like John Walton has said. For the ancients, something was not said to really exist until it was given function. The creation account is not creation as we understand it, but rather God giving purpose to things. Does this go against material ex nihilo creation? No. Walton tells us that Genesis is not asking the question about scientific creation because Genesis doesn’t care. Genesis cares about giving God glory through the temple of the cosmos He has created.

Does this mean I oppose scientific apologetics? Not entirely. It means that it should only be done by those skilled in science. If you don’t know scientific terminology, then don’t argue science. Now if only our atheist friends would follow the same pattern with Biblical studies, philosophy, history, etc.

If we are people of truth, then we must accept whatever is found to be true. We also must make sure that our modern thinking that is scientific is not the paradigm by which we read Scripture. We should seek to understand it the way the ancient reader would have understood it and not the way someone from our culture would.

If there is something we must not do, and we do it just as much as atheists do sadly, it is to make science and Christianity seem opposed negatively to each other. People of truth must accept all truth. If it turns out that evolution is true, we must accept it. If it turns out that it is not, we must accept it. If we wish to argue against evolution or any other scientific hypothesis, which the scientific community should welcome by the way, then we must do so scientifically. This is why you will not see me joining this argument. I am not a scientist. I will stick to my strengths and let others stick to theirs.

In conclusion, we must remember that creation is not the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. It is resurrection. It is quite concerning some Christians are better at defending their views on creation than they are on resurrection. We must also not limit God to just creation. God is responsible not just for the beginning, but every point in the timeline, including where we are right now.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift of Creation

March 14, 2013

Why is there so much in our world? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters!

Recently at our small group, I told the people that it’s quite easy to worry about the future in our current economic state, at least if you’re an American like myself. Yet when we come to Matthew 6, we are told to seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. We are told in the Psalms that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. We are told in Romans 8 that He who gave us His Son will most graciously give us all things. We are told in Luke 12 that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the flock the Kingdom.

So why is there creation?

I have no desire to give a total answer to this. That would require something book-length. Something I notice in the passages is that we will be taken care of and that God does not need anything. Of course, God does everything for His glory, but it is not because He needs glory. It is not God who is benefited when we glorify Him. We do not give Him something He lacks. It is we who are benefited.

It can be hard to believe we will be, but at times like that, we need to learn to not listen to our emotions and to our fears but to the voice of Scripture. Please don’t think I’m someone who’s mastered this as well. There can be nights where I wake up and have a hard time going back to sleep due to worrying about a financial situation.

When we’re tempted to think about this, then consider, God gave us His Son. He is giving us the Kingdom. We think it is too much to ask that God will give us our daily bread then? We think it is beyond His ability to supply us? Of course, we are to be good stewards of what He gives us, something many of us can work on, but we should recognize they are His good gifts.

Could it be then that part of the purpose of creation is for God to show His grace and riches towards us? Is it because God wants to bless us? Why not? Does He not give us His Kingdom and His Son so He can show us the abundance of His glory? Doesn’t Ephesians 2 teach us that it will take all eternity for God to show the abundance of His grace towards us?

Do we think God is stingy? With what could He be stingy? You can take the richest person in the world today and even they can’t give everyone everything they want without going broke themselves. No matter how much wealth such a person has, they still have a limited amount of it.

God is not like that. He has unlimited wealth and He is the only one who if more was wanted, could create more immediately. This is the same one who fed the 5,000, not counting women and children, and yet it is to be seen as difficult to think that He will supply day to day needs?

In fact, if anything, Scripture shows us God likes to bless us. He likes to bless the same way a husband can love to adore his wife with gifts or parents love to go crazy with their credit cards for Christmas.

Could it be we just don’t trust God? While we can realize He would not be benefited by us, we should also realize it would not really do Him much to deny us. Do we think God is petty and spiteful?

Now the question we have to ask is are we doing what Matthew 6 says? Are we seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness? We cannot think God will bless us if we are living in rejection of Him. Of course, we do not obligate Him to bless us by our goodness. We realize that is grace, but we are in a much better place to receive when we live in obedience to Him.

Note also if creation is the gift to provide us, this is something for those in the environmental movement, and in fact those outside, to consider. The creation is a gift to us, and we are to take care of it properly like any other gift. We can use it, but we are not to abuse it. It is our gift, but ultimately from the hand of God. It is our Father’s world.

Let’s try to rest easy fellow Christians and seek the Kingdom and trust God to care for us then.

In Christ,
Nick Peters