Tag Archives: Apologetics

Light vs. the Sun in Genesis 1

The creation of light on Day 1, before creation of the sun (on the 4th day), has profound theological significance.  All ancient, pagan peoples worshiped the Sun as the source of light.  In Genesis 1 God reveals that light preceded the sun, and its source was the very Word of God (Genesis 1:3).  The Apostle John makes clear in his gospel that Jesus Christ, the Word [of God] (John 1:1), was the Divine Agent of creation (John 1:3) and “the true Light” (John 1:9).  The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of worship (Revelation 4:11), and all men past or present who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served [any aspect of] the creation more than the Creator” are fools and idolaters (cf. Romans 1:22-25).  In Genesis 1, the literal, historical order of Divine creation is a rebuke to all pagan perversions of theological truth.


The Name of Jesus in the O.T.

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead … neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10,12)

The name of Jesus, as we have it in the New Testament by way of the Greek language, or Joshua (i.e., Yeshua) in Hebrew, means “Jehovah [i.e., the Lord] is salvation”. As the angel told Joseph, the child to be born of the virgin Mary was to be named “JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The child was also to be called “Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us” (Matthew 1:23); that Jesus would be known as Immanuel (i.e., a manifestation of God Himself) is not uniquely a New Testament notion, but comes directly from the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14).

In a similar way, the name JESUS also comes from the Old Testament. Isaiah 62:11 reveals:

“Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.”

In this verse given through the prophet Isaiah, “salvation” (Heb., Yesha) is a Person (note the masculine pronouns “his” and “him” used in the clauses that follow). A Person who will be known as “salvation” is said to be coming, bringing both his “reward” and his “work”; clearly, this is the Person of JESUS. Compare this verse with Isaiah 40:10, which reads:

“Behold, the Lord God will come … behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.”

Isaiah 40:10 asserts exactly the same truth, using exactly the same words, as Isaiah 62:11, but in this instance the Person known as “salvation” is identified as “the Lord God”. Thus, the Person known as “salvation”, that is Jesus, is equated with Divinity; Jesus and Jehovah are one (cf. 10:30). Such equations of “Jesus” and “Jehovah”, which are implicit assertions of the Deity of Jesus Christ, are common between the New and Old Testaments (Cp., Hebrews 1:8; Psalm 45:6).

Finally, consider the words of Jesus Himself, spoken in the closing chapter of the Bible. Revelation 22:12 records Jesus as saying:

“… behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me …”

Jesus takes the words of “the Lord God” spoken in Isaiah 40:10, the very same words that in Isaiah 62:11 are ascribed to a Person known as “salvation”, for Himself. Jesus connects the dots for us. The name of “Jesus”, by which alone comes salvation, just like “Immanuel” comes straight out of the Old Testament!


Humanism and Truth

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life . . .” (John 14:6)

Humanism is that worldview that makes man the center of all things and exalts human reason to a position of either equality with, or even superiority over, divine revelation (i.e., the Bible). Humanism exists in two forms, secular and religious. Secular humanism is the atheistic form of humanism. It rejects the existence of God, so it must be committed solely to naturalistic explanations for the origin of the universe and life. Today, it embraces the Big Bang Theory to explain the origin of the universe (which violates both the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics) and the Theory of Evolution to explain the origin and development of life (which violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). It peddles these theories as “science”, though they violate the most fundamental, well-validated laws upon which all science is founded (cf. Ps14:1; Rom1:22). Secular humanism is the dominant worldview in America today, and public education, from kindergarten through graduate school, is a taxpayer-funded system committed to indoctrinating American youth in it. Secular humanism is the clearly declared enemy of the Bible-believing Christian.

But humanism also exists in a religious form. Religious humanism has a veneer that can appear religious, even Christian, and it can even profess to believe the Bible to be the Word of God, but behind the façade is an absolute commitment to naturalistic explanations in the arena of science. Religious humanism accepts the Big Bang and Evolution as proven by “science” (i.e., these are the instruments God used to “create”), so it embraces non-literal ways of interpreting the Bible in order to accommodate them. As a contemporary example of this, consider the quote from Dr. Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Heath, and founder of the BioLogos Foundation:

Foundational to the BioLogos vision is the belief that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God… We have found that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus we affirm that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves His purposes. [1]

Here, “evolution” should be understood in its broadest sense as the naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe as well as all life in it. Thus, despite Dr. Collins’ claim to believe the Bible to be the “inspired and authoritative Word of God”, in the arena of the “natural sciences” he clearly subordinates divine revelation to human reason.

Similarly, Dr. Hugh Ross is an astronomer who founded the Reasons to Believe ministry for the purpose of “integrating science and faith”. His statement of faith published on the ministry’s web site affirms:

We believe the Bible (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the Word of God, written. As a “God-breathed” revelation, it is thus verbally inspired and completely without error (historically, scientifically, morally, and spiritually) in its original writings… The Bible is therefore our supreme and final authority in all matters that it addresses. [2]

And yet, based on the conclusions of modern science Dr. Ross and his ministry teach that: 1) God used the Big Bang to create the universe, 2) the days of the Creation Week are really millions/billions of years in duration, 3) a pre-Fall race of hominids existed before Adam, and 4) that the Flood of Noah was not global in extent. The Bible-believer must ask, “How are these beliefs consistent with his assertion that the Bible is the supreme and final authority in all matters that it addresses?” This is equivocation in the extreme, which is the only way that religious humanism can maintain its façade of an authoritative Bible.

Religious humanism, therefore, is not only bad science, it’s also bad religion (Prov14:12; Jn17:17). Religious humanism is a more subtle enemy of the Bible-believing Christian than secular humanism, but for that reason it’s probably the more dangerous one.

Endnotes:

[1]  BioLogos Foundation Website, http://biologos.org/about, accessed October 19, 2011.

[2]  Reasons to Believe Website, http://www.reasons.org/about-us/our-beliefs, accessed October 19, 2011.


The Madness of Science Falsely So Called

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some, professing, have erred concerning the faith . . .” (1 Timothy 6:20-21a)

In his 2005 book titled The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, Richard Dawkins, the undisputed leader of the aggressive New Atheists, wrote: “The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing—is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice”.[1]

Dawkins has admitted what few secularists will; namely, that those who dogmatically defend the presuppositions of (so-called) modern science can be best described as being “mad”. Mark Twain, himself a legendary skeptic, offered this parody of Christian belief: “Faith is believing what you know isn’t true”. Twain’s definition is far more apropos of Dawkins and scientists like him than Bible-believing Christians. Why do I say this?

Consider what Dawkins believes to be the two foundational events on the path to explaining everything. First, that “the universe evolved literally out of nothing”, by which he means the origin of the universe in the primeval event of the Big Bang. That our universe must have had a beginning is inescapable, since according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics it would now be cold, dead, and lifeless if it were in fact eternal. However, in claiming that it originated “literally out of nothing” he is asserting that the process that brought it into existence violated the First Law of Thermodynamics. Although modern scientists will suffer no other event in all of history to be explained by a process that involves the creation or destruction of matter or energy, they accept it as the “best” explanation for the origin of the universe.

Second, that “life evolved out of nearly nothing”, by which he means the origin of life by the processes of random variation and natural selection most often attributed to Darwin. The problem is that Darwinian evolution, even if it were a valid mechanism in giving rise to new species, can only operate on life forms already capable of reproduction. Evolution cannot account for the origin of life itself. How did the first replicating life form begin? Though modern scientists are loathe to admit it, their answer is spontaneous generation in which life originated from non-life. Again, although modern scientists will suffer no other event in all of history to be explained by a process that violates their own empirically validated Law of Biogenesis, they accept it as the “best” explanation for the origin of life.

This is indeed “mad[ness]”! Such madness was foreseen in the Scriptures when Paul warned Timothy to avoid “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). But such madness is what must be embraced by rebellious men who are philosophically committed to “chang[ing] the truth of God for a lie, and worship[ing] and serv[ing] the creat[ion] more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). As evolutionary biologist and geneticist Richard Lewontin admitted, “We are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create … a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive … for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”.[2]

Endnotes:

[1] Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution (First Mariner Books, New York, NY, 2005) p. 613.

[2] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons”, New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31.

 


The Authority of the Bible

“The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks.  Moreover, it speaks of everything.”

Cornelius Van Til


Thermodynamics and Genesis 1:1

The 1st Law of Thermodynamics asserts that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed (although they can transferred from one place to another, or be converted from one form to another), but in all cases and at all times the total mass-energy of a system is perfectly conserved.

The implication of this is that the present physical processes observed to be at work in the universe today cannot be responsible for its creation/origin.  Today’s assertion that science can only offer naturalistic explanations for observations means, by definition, that science cannot explain the origin of the universe.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics asserts that, left to the random and undirected functioning of the laws of nature, all systems invariably tend toward increasing levels of disorder and disorganization, with the energy available to perform useful work being irrecoverably dissipated.

The implication of this is that the present universe, which is highly organized and has abundant available energy with which to do useful work, must have had a beginning.  If the universe were eternal (as assumed in all pagan cosmogonies), it would have long ago become completely disorganized and all energy would have become unavailable.  Since this is not the case, the universe cannot be eternal, it must have had a beginning.

The implications of both the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics are implicit in Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible (and very likely the first verse of Scripture ever recorded), which asserts that the universe had a “beginning” (2nd Law) and that its origin was supernatural “creation ex nihilo” (1st Law).

“In the beginning [2nd Law] God created [1st Law] the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

To quote Dr. Henry Morris, “Genesis 1:1 is the most profoundly scientific statement ever written, with all the systems and processes of the cosmos uniting in asserting its truth.” [1]

No scientist knows why the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics are true.  Consider this confession of Dr. Isaac Asimov (an atheist, evolutionist, and past president of the American Humanist Association):

No one knows why energy is conserved, and no one can be completely sure it is truly conserved everywhere in the universe under all conditions.  All that anyone can say is that in over a century and a quarter of careful measurement, scientists have never been able to point to a definite violation of energy conservation, either in the familiar everyday surroundings about us, or in the heavens above or in the atoms within. [2]

No one knows why energy is always conserved, or why entropy always increases.  Nevertheless, in all scientific measurements and observations, energy is conserved and entropy increases without any exceptions!  This “observation” is then built into all scientific theories at a presuppositional level—the 1st and 2nd Laws are always assumed at the outset, then all scientific theories are built from this assumed foundation; but the 1st and 2nd Laws themselves are never derived or deduced.  Science has no answer for why the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics are always valid.

In Scripture, however, God reveals why the 1st and 2nd Laws are valid.  God Himself performed a supernatural work (creation ex nihilo) during the six days of creation (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), but He declares that His work of creation ended at the close of the 6th day (Genesis 2:1-2); since that time, excepting a few extremely rare instances of supernatural intervention in the creation by God Himself (i.e., miracles), His divine work has been to uphold and preserve His creation (cf. Genesis 8:22; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3), which is why we observe that the 1st Law of Thermodynamics always holds true today.  Furthermore, Scripture also points to the introduction of the universal principle of death and decay that came as a result of the Fall and subsequent Curse (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 5:12; 8:20-22), which is why we observe that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics always holds true today.

Endnotes:

[1] Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987), pp. 194-199.

[2] Isaac Asimov, “In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can’t Even Break Even”, Smithsonian, Vol. 1 (No. 5), August 1970, p. 6.


The Essence of Idolatry

In the opening three chapters of Romans, Paul reasons his way to the conclusion that, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23), thus rendering all men everywhere and at all times justly condemned before God—whether they have heard the gospel or not; this sets up the need for all men to hear and respond to the gospel (Romans 1:16).  Paul reaches his conclusion based on the witness of general revelation alone, which is and always has been available to all men (and which is consistently rejected by the natural man).  This witness of general revelation comes in two forms:  the creation (Romans 1) and human conscience (Romans 2).  Consider Paul’s argument relative to the witness of creation in Romans 1:18-25.

The Universal and Sufficient Witness of Creation

In Romans 1:18, God asserts that the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” manifests itself as a “[suppression] of the truth in unrighteousness”.  Note that it is not the case that some men do not have access to the truth, but that all men suppress the truth that they have.  Furthermore, there is an agenda behind man’s suppression of truth; it is so that he can pursue “unrighteousness”.

In Romans 1:19, God asserts that He has supplied all men with a knowledge of Himself.  God has not relied on men seeking Him, as He knows none will (Romans 3:11); rather, on His own initiative, God “hath shown it unto them”.

Romans 1:20 indicates this universal knowledge of God comes “from the creation” (i.e., the natural world all around us).  Further, God asserts that this knowledge of Him is “clearly seen” and “understood”.  The ramifications of this assertion are awesome.  No one can legitimately claim they didn’t know or understand that their Creator God, to whom they are accountable, exists.  Certainly many make this claim, but this is a “suppression of the truth” which they possess in their heart of hearts.  It isn’t a matter of not knowing or understanding, but rather a case of “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (cf. Romans 1:28).  This leads to the conclusion of the universal and just condemnation of all men.

Paul’s conclusion is that from the witness of creation alone, all men “are without excuse”.  The Greek word apologia, rendered “excuse” in our English translation, means ‘a formal, reasoned, and logical defense’ (as in a legal, courtroom proceeding).  Thus, there is no acceptable defense that can be offered for man’s rejection of the knowledge of God from creation.  This alone renders all men under the just condemnation of God.  Whereas no one can be saved apart from hearing and believing the gospel (Romans 1:16-17), all can be justly condemned whether they have heard the gospel or not.  Put theologically, men can be condemned on the basis of general revelation (available to all), but men can only be saved on the basis of special revelation (available only to some).

Suppression of the Truth Necessarily Leads to Idolatry

Notice in Romans 1:21 how Paul’s reasoning proceeds from the preceding assertion (i.e., “they knew God” is now a presupposition from which he reasons).  It is not the case that men don’t know God, they definitely do.  Rather, the issue is that men who know God do not glorify or thank (i.e., acknowledge) Him.

It has often been observed that Scripture offers no formal proof for the existence of God, and the so-called philosophical proofs (i.e., the teleological, cosmological, ontological arguments) for the existence of God are not fruitful in leading men to believe in God (and even if they were valid, they only purport to prove the existence of ‘a god’, not the God of the Bible); it is not a matter of men lacking adequate information, but a suppression of the clear and sufficient information they have already.  This has serious implications relative to evangelism and apologetics (which can never really be de-coupled).  An evangelist/apologist ought never to accept an unbeliever’s demand for a proof for God’s existence before he will consider the claims of the Bible.  The evangelist/apologist ought to begin with the presupposition that the unbeliever already knows God exists, but has willfully suppressed that truth in unrighteousness.

Furthermore, suppression of the truth (i.e., rejection of God’s clear revelation) always and necessarily leads to idolatry, introduced here as “vain . . . imaginations”.  It is interesting that in the Greek text, the word translated “imaginations” comes from dialogismos, which connotes ‘reasoning with oneself’; it is not someone else that the unbeliever is trying to persuade that his unbelief is rational/logical, but above all it is himself that he is trying to persuade (i.e., he must rationalize his unbelief in his own mind).  Realizing this helps us understand the essence of idolatry.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God’s priority in communicating His standard for man is always on the prohibition of idolatry (cf. Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7; 1 John 5:21), even above immorality (per se).  The reason behind this is that idolatry always (logically) takes place first, with immorality inevitably following (cf. Romans 1:18-32).  Romans 1:18-20 indicates that God’s revelation of Himself in the creation (i.e., general revelation) is clearly seen by all men, everywhere.  The unbelieving mind must re-engineer its perception of reality in order to suppress the implications of this clear revelation, which is his personal accountability to his Creator.  This philosophical re-engineering of reality to suppress God’s clear revelation of Himself is the essence of idolatry [1].  Once the creature’s accountability to his Creator has been rationalized away in his own mind, he becomes free to engage in any form of immorality ‘with a clear conscience’ (so to speak).  This is why idolatry always comes first (even in our modern world), and this is why God’s prohibition of it always takes priority.  In a certain sense, it is idolatry that intellectually enables immorality.

But this is foolishness (Romans 1:22).  According to Scripture, the greatest possible folly is to deny the existence of the God of the Bible; “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Ps14:1; 53:1).  Mark Twain, legendary for his skepticism toward Christianity and the Bible, offered the following definition:  “faith is believing in what you know isn’t true”.  By this he intended to imply that Christians know the Bible isn’t really true, but choose to believe it anyway; the Word of God asserts the opposite, that unbelievers know that their unbelief is foolishness, but pursue it anyway.

The unbeliever is compelled (being a rational creature since he has been created in the image of God) to rationalize his unbelief, and his construction of an alternate reality (Romans 1:23) to explain the basic questions of life is idolatry.  In ancient times, this rationalization manifested itself as belief in pagan deities [2]; in modern times, it tends to manifest itself as so-called scientific theories purporting to explain the origin of the universe and all life in it by purely naturalistic mechanisms [3].  Either way, once idolatry has rationalized away accountability to the God of the Bible, immorality emanating from “the lusts of their own hearts” quickly follows (Romans 1:24).

Finally, Romans 1:25 summarizes idolatry as the “[exchange of] the truth of God” (i.e., the revelation of God in the creation, in the human conscience, in Scripture, and in Christ) for “a lie”.  The particulars of the “lie” have changed down through history.  Today, they are most notably present in the wide-spread acceptance of the Big Bang cosmogony, evolution as the explanation of all life, and (as a result) secular humanism as the guiding ethic.  But whether the rationalization is a pantheon of pagan gods or the godless assertions of modern science, it’s idolatry none the less.

Endnotes:

[1] Even if man’s idolatry gives lip service to other ‘gods’, they are always gods made by men, fashioned after men’s likeness, acceptable to men, manageable by men (i.e., safe for sinners).

[2] No pagan belief system recognizes the Creator-creature distinction revealed in the Bible.  Pagan deities may be quantitatively superior to ordinary men (i.e., smarter, stronger, faster, etc.), but they are never qualitatively different than men (Cp., Numbers 23:19).

[3] Richard Dawkins, arguably today’s most prominent apologist for atheism, has confessed that, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.


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