Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Christian's Civic Responsibility to Vote

Please note: This is a recycled post, but considering the nearness of the Presidential election I thought it prudent to run it again with only a few slight alterations.

I have come to the conclusion that the sanctity of life and the purity of marriage are far more important to me than tax policy, the economy, terrorism, immigration, etc. That does not mean that those and other issues are not important to me. It means that they are less important to me. If a candidate is right on abortion and the family but wrong, or not as conservative as I'd like, on fiscal issues or foreign policy, I'll favor the more important issues every time.


Dr. Albert Mohler's radio program has addressed this very issue. Here is the link to his show "Bringing a Christian Worldview to the Ballot". I strongly suggest you allocate 38 minutes of your day and listen to the program. Dr. Mohler unveils the "Albert Mohler 3-Step Christian Voting Formula" (patent pending) during the show. Mohler suggests that a Christian voter apply the following criteria to any candidate under consideration:

1. Competence - Is this person up to the job? Does he/she have the requisite experience and qualifications for the position?
2. Character - Do you trust this person? Does he/she have the maturity and integrity to represent the United States of America?
3. Convictions - What are the policy positions of the candidate and do they align with your convictions?

That is a solid formula, and it is even alliterated! (Another indication of Mohler's Baptist identity.)

Paul instructs us by way of 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do (this includes voting), do all to the glory of God. All of the Christian's choices and decisions are accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the Christian's choices and decisions are to be made for the glory of God. This does not mean that God favors one political party or candidate over the other. We live in a fallen world populated by fallen people (this blogger foremost among them).

I neither expect nor believe it possible for one particular party and/or candidate to "lead the country to righteousness". I do believe that as a Christian I must do my very best to make responsible, Biblically informed, God-honoring decisions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"If It's in the Game, It's in the Game"

That's the moto of EA Sports, one of the most successful video game developers in the industry, and, speaking from personal experience, the producer of the best sports games on the market. EA sports games put the player right in the game; virtually speaking of course. The graphics and game play are a lot of fun, and everything that is in the game is in the game. That now includes political ads for the Barack Obama campaign.

To quote that great American icon and thinker Charlie Brown - "Good grief!"

According to the above linked article:
Eighteen video games, including the extremely popular "Guitar Hero" and "Madden 09," will feature in-game ads from the Obama campaign in the final weeks before the election. The ads — appearing on billboards and other signage — remind players that early voting has begun and plug a campaign Web site that encourages people to register for early voting.
The ads are delivered to the game via the Internet through Xbox Live. If you're wondering why game consoles are connected to the Internet then you may not have played a video game since "Frogger" or "Donkey-Kong". Click here if you want to see screenshots of the Obama ads.

This ad campaign is directed at the 18-34 year old demographic; a demographic to which I no longer belong, but I seriously doubt if gamers will be prompted to unplug long enough to register early and vote. But why does the Obama campaign need actual gamers to vote? I'm sure that ACORN will register Master Chief and other fictional characters.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In the Beginning God Created

That which has a beginning in time must have something preceding it or it could not begin, and so the first four words of the Bible state: “In the beginning God. There is no apologetic in the scriptures for God’s existence, just the bold declaration for God being the sovereign Author of all and everything that is. God stands alone and beyond all other things. Evolution states that the universe was self-created; which is a rational and logical impossibility. Anything that exists either exists in and of itself or is caused by something else. God is the uncaused, self-existent, eternal being.


While the scriptures never explicitly seek to prove God’s existence, it does make explicit statements about those who deny it.
Psalm 14:1 – The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good. (cf. Psalm 53:1)

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Before space and time began there was God. Only God has the power to self-exist and call others into existence; as Paul said in Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

Created

In the beginning God did something, and what He did was create the universe in six literal days. We metaphorically use the term “create” quite often. When speaking of a gifted communicator, artist, or engineer we will say:
  • “He is a creative communicator.”

  • “He is a creative sculptor.”

    • “She is a creative designer.”


      • But when an orator speaks, or a sculptor sculpts, or an engineer designs there is no real creativity at all, at least not in the Biblical sense. They all take materials and substances that already exist and they shape, form, and arrange those materials until they are finished. That is more ingenuity that creativity.

        When God created the universe He spoke it into existence. There was nothing before, except for God; no energy, no matter, not even an infinitesimal point of singularity, and He used no raw materials to shape and arrange Creation. All that exists came into being by the active power of the eternal, self-existent, Almighty God. The origin of all things was not natural but supernatural. The Bible does not provide a “scientific” explanation of how God created, except to say that He spoke it into being, and that He did so in six literal days.

        God has spoken, not only in His written word but in His Creation. The Creator is an information and communication genius, and He has programmed His creation with a complex, unfathomable information system. It is no accident that Genesis 1 repeats the phrase “God said” ten times. The truth of God is not only recorded in sacred scripture it is encoded in creation. If physics, engineering, and molecular biology have taught us anything it has taught us that information is crucial. Not long ago leading evolutionists insisted that all that was necessary for life to exist was matter and energy, but even they must acknowledge that within the matter and energy there must be information which communicates!

        It has never been proven that more complex organisms arise from simpler organisms. Evolutionists cannot demonstrate how information spontaneously generates because it doesn’t (nor have they shown gradual spontaneous generation). Spontaneous generation, gradual or otherwise, does not occur in organic or inorganic models. For example, put random information in a computer and it will not produce a sophisticated, functioning program. Computer models have been a boon to creation science because it can simulate vast eons of time, and no computer model has demonstrated information arising from non-information, or complex information from simple or chaotic information. Computer engineering has only confirmed that information comes from intelligence.

        Materials are able to receive and hold information and design, but they are unable to self-create information and design. Silicone and copper do not and cannot generate the concept of a TV, but they are able to hold the concept of a TV. Cellulose which is lying around on the ground will not and cannot, through gradual spontaneous generation, form itself into a newspaper, create the ink which will form the type print, assemble the ink into formatted sections in an intelligible language, and then cut itself into proper proportions. The information is external to the material. The material cannot create it, but it can contain it.

        Francis Crick, who in 1953 co-discovered the structure of the DNA molecule, has written the following: “The cell is a minute factory, bustling with rapid, organized chemical activity.” The outside surface of the cell is studded with sensors, gates, and pumps, and identification markers to regulate traffic coming in and out. Today biologists cannot even describe the cell without resorting to the language of machines and engineering.

        Evolutionists are quick to say that given enough time complex information grows out of nothing. As I’ve shown, they prefer the model of space + time + chance = everything. Computer simulations have been done to check the affects of time, to see if evolution builds complex structures. None have been effective. Design and function come only from intelligence. No natural process has produced a programmed code. It is extremely ironic and sad that those who most closely study the creation deny the Creator, but it is expected because the scientific community has abandoned reason in order to install evolution as the explanation for our existence. They deny the physical evidence as they seek to force the material to fit their conclusions.

        I believe there is an even bigger problem than scientists who dogmatically cling to evolutionary theory, and that is Christians who claim that evolution is compatible with Christianity. It is not! Too many Christians are embracing evolution, only they call it “old-earth creationism” which blends some of the principles of biblical creationism with naturalistic and evolutionary theories, or “theistic evolution” which simply transposes chance with God. Instead of chance being the “force” which kick-started life, God got the evolutionary ball rolling. The impetus behind both systems is a vain attempt to reconcile the Bible with modern science.

        Remember, all truth is God’s truth. While scripture is not a science textbook, wherever it intersects with scientific data it speaks with the same authority as when it teaches spiritual precepts. Science does not and will not disprove Scripture, because the Bible and the physical world share the same Author. Old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists do not harmonize modern science with the scriptures. They only capitulate to naturalism, dishonor God, and undermine the authority of the Bible. God’s inspired and inerrant word is inspired and inerrant from Genesis 1 – Revelation 22. Scripture, not science, is the ultimate test of all truth, and the further a Christian gets from that conviction, he becomes less Christian and more humanistic.

        Evolution’s aim is to eliminate the God of Genesis. Darwin himself was clear that the belief that God is Creator and the belief that life is evidence of natural selection are incompatible beliefs. He believed that his own doctrine of evolution was a direct contradiction to theism in general and to Christianity in particular. Darwin abandoned belief in God, and he traced this loss of faith to his theory of natural selection. He wrote in his autobiography:
        I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.
        Thus the driving force behind evolutionary theory was not scientific breakthroughs, but a desire to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the Biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (Romans 1:22-28). By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility, and sin. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences.

        If the biblical doctrine of creation falls, the entire storyline of the Bible falls apart. There is no way to save any coherent form of Christian truth without the biblical doctrine of creation. Those who would abandon the biblical account of creation undermine the entire Christian truth claim.

        For those who are correctly evaluating the evidence, everything in scripture and everything in nature clearly proves that God exists and that He is the powerful and wise Creator that scripture describes Him to be. Thus, when we believe that God exists, we are basing our belief not on some blind hope apart from any evidence, but on an overwhelming amount of reliable evidence from God’s Word and God’s works.

        Friday, October 10, 2008

        In the Beginning

        Christians are often scolded with the argument that it is Christianity which has declared war on secular science, specifically Biblicists who narrowly adhere to a literal 6-day Creation account; not science that has declared war on Christianity. Based on the tenor of the remarks that I’ve quoted, it would appear that argument is utterly false. For those who hold to a Biblical view of origins most of the scientific community has nothing but condescension and scorn.

        Why is there such a sharp divide between modern science and Biblical Christianity? I believe the answer is contained in one sentence: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This may well be the most controversial sentence in the entire Bible! From the very first verse of sacred scripture emerge three key words that affirm the difference between Biblical Christianity and nearly all other belief systems, including naturalism.

        Beginning

        The Bible asserts that the world, man, history, indeed time itself has a beginning point. This is also the beginning point of the controversy between modern science and the Biblical view of origins, but it isn’t just “modern” thinkers who have taken an alternate view of the world’s genesis. Ancient philosophers and even more recent ones such as the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (Who is famous or infamous, depending on your viewpoint, for declaring that “God is dead.”) held to the myth of eternal recurrence. This idea argues that the universe has no starting point; instead, the universe and everything in it is eternal, and everything goes round and round without an end or beginning.

        This drudging up of an ancient and mostly discarded theory has not taken root in modern science. The predominant cosmological model of the universe’s origin is the Big Bang theory. Listen to the following statement, made by a scientist upon the launching of the Hubble telescope in 1990: “Fifteen to eighteen billion years ago the universe exploded into being.” Like the first sentence of sacred scripture declares the Biblical view of origins, this sentence announces the naturalist’s view, and it, like Genesis 1:1, contains three key words: exploded, into, and being. Now, I am not a physicist or a cosmologist, but I don’t have to be to understand that is a nonsensical statement. You see, to say that “the universe experienced a massive explosion” is logical and rational; however, to suggest that the universe exploded into being is completely illogical and irrational. This learned and educated man was suggesting, indeed as all naturalists must, that the universe exploded from non-being into being. If the universe did not exist before the explosion, what was it that exploded?

        What exploded? The model suggests that all energy and matter previous to the explosion had been condensed into one tiny little point of singularity. At some point, and for some reason, that infinitesimal point of singularity exploded, and the results of that explosion are still reverberating throughout outer space.

        Now this raises a whole host of questions. From where did all of this matter and energy originate? Why did it all condense into that infinitesimal point of singularity? What started it all? Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

        There has to be an outside force for anything to change, move, or come into existence. What is the force that scientists ascribe as the cause for the Big Bang and therefore the cause for all existence? The answer is chance. Chance becomes the great innovator and initiator of the universe. What are the chances that anything can happen by chance? The answer is: not a chance! Chance is a perfectly good term if used when speaking about mathematical probabilities. If I flip a coin, the chances of it coming up heads are 50-50, but chance cannot determine the outcome of the flip. There are many variables that cause the coin to come up either heads or tails, but chance is not one of them. Chance has no influence on the result. Chance cannot do anything because chance is nothing. For something to act it must first be. Chance has no being; it is no thing. To say that the universe was created by chance is to say the universe was created by nothing.

        What modern scientists describe as the causal force behind the creation of the universe is the same thing that my boys cite when they try to wiggle their way out of trouble.

        “Boys, what was that loud crash?”

        “It was nothing, Dad!”

        For both scientists and my boys the argument doesn’t stand to reason.

        Chance gets a big assist from time in the evolutionistic view of beginning. In his book Not a Chance RC Sproul quotes Nobel laureate George Wald as saying,
        Time is the hero of the plot. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracle.
        Which is funny, because if you speak of Jesus doing miracles you become the object of derisive laughter, but substitute Jesus’ name with time and you may be a Nobel prize winner in physiology.

        What is time? How much does it weigh? What are its dimensions? Like chance, time is not a thing, but the accepted and virtually unquestioned scientific claim of the universe’s origin is space + time + chance = everything. This amounts to nothing + nothing + nothing = everything.

        Theologian RC Sproul recounts receiving a letter from a scientist who had read his book Not a Chance, and the scientist complained about Sproul’s critique of nothing. He informed Sproul that, “Science has now been able to isolate and identify five distinct types of nothing.” Sproul said he wanted to ask the scientist, “What is it about type 1 of nothing that is different from type 2 in the taxonomy of nothingness? What is it that number 2 has that number 1 lacks?” The answer would have to be…nothing! It would have been one thing to say, “We have five different definitions of nothingness, but to soberly suggest that there are five kinds of nothing illustrates the great lengths to which modern science will go in order to manufacture an alternative to Creation.

        Science has relentlessly appealed to chance to save the phenomenon without looking to the Creator God, and what they have really done is create their own religion. The name of which is naturalism. This is the view that every law and every force operating in the universe is natural rather than moral, spiritual, or supernatural.

        Therefore it is assumed that naturalism is not a religion; that naturalism essentially represents scientific objectivity. It does not. Naturalists like to portray their system as a philosophy diametrically opposed to all faith-based world-views. Thus, they pretend that it is scientifically and intellectually superior to all other worldviews because of its supposed non-religious character, but religion accurately describes naturalism. The entire philosophy is built upon a faith-based presupposition: from nothing comes everything. This requires faith, and, unlike Biblical Christianity, it is a blind, giant leap of faith. Science deals with what can be observed and reproduced by experimentation. The origin of life can be neither observed nor reproduced in any laboratory. By definition, then, true science can give us no knowledge whatsoever about where we came from or how we got here.

        Naturalism is a religion with evolution as its foundational doctrine, and naturalists will routinely employ worshipful language when describing the creation. Carolyn Porco is a CIT trained planetary scientist who has worked on the unmanned Voyager and Cassini missions to explore the outer reaches of our solar system. Here is what she said at the 2006 seminar “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival”:
        We should let the success of the religious formula guide us. Let's teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome -- and even comforting -- than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.
        And let’s not forget the opening mantra to the late Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos: “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Not only is that religious language, but it is Biblical language; only it substitutes God with the cosmos. Professing to be wise they’ve become fools, and worship the creation rather than the immortal glory of the Creator God.
        Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD.
        Chance doesn’t come into play with a sovereign God. Every decision is from the Lord.
        Nehemiah 9:6 – Thou, [even] thou, [art] LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all [things] that [are] therein, the seas, and all that [is] therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

        Tuesday, October 7, 2008

        All Truth is God's Truth

        A cosmologist was having a conversation with a theologian, and he said, “I can’t figure out why you theologians get entangled with all that technical jargon, arguing over substitutionary atonement, supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, Arminianism, and all that technicalia that the average church member just doesn’t care about at all. For me, religion is simple. It’s the Golden Rule; do unto others as you’d have done unto you.”

        The theologian thought for a second, and then he said, “I understand exactly what you’re saying. I have the identical frustration with you cosmologists. You’re always dazzling us with scientific language about exploding novae, nebular variables, pulsating quasars, and astronomical perturbations. For me, the cosmos is simple. It’s twinkle, twinkle, little star!”

        We live in a time when many people want to make theology and/or the natural sciences extremely simple, when the reality is that both spheres of investigation have their fair share of complexities. To be sure, both are knowable, but not always simple.

        We live in a day when many people want to keep these two sciences separate. Yale professor of psychology Paul Bloom has stated that religion and science are implacable foes. He theorizes that belief in God is an “accidental by-product” of the brain’s evolutionary development, and when humans discover that their beliefs in the supernatural are such they will abandon God and embrace a secular and “scientific” worldview.

        With a similar viewpoint is Daniel C. Dennett, head of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, he proposes that belief in God is a meme (word coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, memes are analogous to genes, except they are not physical material they are units of intellectual and cultural material, replicators like ideas) that functioned for some time as an evolutionary advantage, but has long since outlived its usefulness and now serves as an impediment to the forward progress of the human species.

        Obviously, these men, and many others like them, want to keep theology separate from all other sciences, and, yes, I consider theology a science. Just as cosmology is the study of the cosmos, the physical universe; just as biology is the study of life, and anthropology is the study of humanity. Theology is the study of God, and it is the queen of all sciences because its subject is the greatest of all subjects.

        While we live in a time when people want these two spheres of investigation completely separated, numerous folks would be happy for theology to vanish or be banished; we also live in a day when the public at large has given the physical and natural sciences special status. One may notice this elevation in even our colloquialisms. For instance, if you were describing a simple task, one that does not involve much thinking or difficulty, you might say, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out!” But you would never hear someone say, “This doesn’t require a theologian.”

        When I say “science”, you are most likely thinking of lab coats, Bunsen burners, and Petri dishes. Likewise, when I say “theology” you probably conjure up an image of a thin, balding, bookish gentleman with a lunar tan whose only engagement is with books rather than people. Allow me to break down those stereotypes. “Science” is simply the knowledge gained through study and experience, and the goal of science is to save the phenomena; more plainly put, it is to understand the truth.

        All truth is God’s truth. The subject may be the eternal soul of a man or the origin of man and the world he inhabits. Regardless of the topic, all truth is God’s truth, and God has revealed His truth in two ways. The first is what’s called general revelation. That is creation itself. The apostle Paul said in Romans 1:20,
        For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
        (cf. Acts 14:17) And the Psalmist said,
        The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2)
        The second way in which God has revealed His truth is special revelation. That is the Scriptures.
        All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
        (2 Timothy 3:16). Both manners of revelation are completely true; both are infallible and inerrant, because both have God as their author. (In the case of personal salvation, however, one must hear and understand the Bible. One cannot be saved based only on God’s general revelation, because God has decreed that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). General revelation will point people to His glory. Certainly, that is what Paul meant when he said that men were without excuse because creation reveals the eternal power and Godhead, but salvation comes by hearing the Gospel, repenting of your sins, and trusting in Christ.)

        All truth, whether it is spiritual, physical, or moral, is God’s truth.

        I want to go on record as saying that I am not anti-science. I am thankful for and have greatly benefited from scientific and technological advancements. I live in an era of history, and in a country, where even the poor people have a higher standard of living than royalty enjoyed just a few centuries ago. I appreciate the medical care that is available today. I enjoy the electric light bulb, indoor plumbing, refrigerators, and the Internet.

        I am truly appreciative of scientific and technological advancements and discoveries, not only because of the benefits they have created, but because, as I’ve already stated, all truth is God’s truth, and the more that is discovered about the complexity and wonder of our bodies and the rest of Creation the more I am in awe of the creative genius and glory of God.

        But I’ve quoted two leading minds in American academia who do not hesitate to shower religion, specifically Biblical Christianity, with disdain. There are plenty more examples, but I’ll only share one. Steven Weinberg is an American physicist who was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics. In 1999 he made the following remark at the Conference on Cosmic Design, hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
        Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion… I learned that the aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.
        We are often scolded with the argument that it is Christianity which has declared war on secular science, specifically Biblicists who narrowly adhere to a literal 6-day Creation account; not science that has declared war on Christianity. Based on the tenor of the remarks that I’ve quoted, it would appear that argument is utterly false. For those who hold to a Biblical view of origins most of the scientific community has nothing but condescension and scorn.