Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quote of the Day: "The Final and Best Evidence"

 “The final and best evidence of God’s existence lies in his Word—in the triple sense of Christ, the gospel he proclaimed, and the Scripture that infallibly conveys it.” -- John Warwick Montgomery.

John Warwick Montgomery is representative of the evidential approach to Christian apologetics, as opposed to the classical approach which first seeks to provide rational reasons to believe in God's existence and then seeks to demonstrate that the Christian view of God is the correct one.

Certainly many, myself included, have testified to the transformative effects of reading this book.

PS. I'm trying Zemanta in this post -- automatic embedded links.
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The Canadian Census Long-Form Controversy

Americans are a ruling people. Canadians have always been content to be ruled.

Leftists Are Delusional™: "My Duty Is To Save The World"

Who do you think said this?

Hint: It was not Al Gore.

Please post your answer, then check.

Answer, here.

Sin: A Self-Assessment

"Sin is NOT something a person can empirically self-assess."

Sure it is. You can ask and answer the statements:

a) I have always lived up to my own moral code (whatever it is). T/F

b) I am always truthful, always kind, always faithful, always honest. (I have never been deceitful, never been mean, never been faithless, I have never cheated anyone. T/F

c) I have never acted in a selfish manner. T/F

d) There is no gap in me between what I "ought-to-be" and what I "am". T/F

e) I am a perfect moral being. T/F

f) I have never mistreated another human being in any way, by, e.g., being rude to them, ignoring them, looking down on them in my heart, having bad thoughts about them.

g) My thoughts towards others are unfailingly pure. E.g., I have never thought or said anything unkind either about or to the author of the Ball Bounces. T/F

The standard is perfection.

Score: 7 - you do not consider yourself a sinner.
         1-6 - you are a sinner.

The Bible declares,

A. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God".  You can "test" this for yourself.

B. "The wages of sin (what sin gets you) is death". You can reason about this. Is it reasonable that sin based on a corrupt nature would disqualify you from eternal life in God's perfect, unblemished heaven?

C. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ."  This is where the jump of faith comes in. It's not a big leap. Either God has made a provision for you, or he has not. Either he loves you, or he does not. Either there is meaning and purpose to life, or there is not. Either there is hope, or there is not. Either the longings in your heart for life beyond the grave are satisfiable, or they are a cruel deposit of amoral, unfeeling evolution.

You decide.

Regain your humanity. Rebel against the atheist machine.™

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Ye Shall Be As Gods": Sin and the Re-Enthronement of God

Genesis 3. In the beginning...

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Now fast-forward to I John, writing just after the central event in history.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

There is a striking similarity between the passage in Genesis and the one in I John. The Bible -- including Genesis -- is true and relevant to our lives today. It is relevant as long as human beings are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, in whose image they were once created.

The fundamental sin humans commit is to dethrone God from his rightful place in our lives. All sin emanates from God dethroned and self enthroned. The sin of idolatry is therefore central. You don't have to believe in God to be an idolator.

Idolatry encompasses:

* false views of God -- i.e., false religions and false self-conceptions of God (of which Christians themselves are not immune), including the ultimate whopper -- that the I AM "is not". What could be a more effective deception than that?!

* God-substitutes - either self, "they shall be lovers of self, rather than lovers of God" -- as in all the anti-Christ figures in the Bible, or

* Coveting things - money, sex, power, objects. (As one minister once remarked, seeing his next-door neighbor washing his car as the minister headed off to church, "he was busy worshipping".

Everyone has a god. It will either be himself, or some external thing he "worships". We are all worshippers. It is just a question of what object we place the highest value on. For many, the most worthy object we find is ourselves.

If sin is the dethronement of God, the remedy, is the re-enthronement of God as God in our lives. This re-enthronement began when Christ came. He lived the God-enthroned life. The merits of this life are  appropriated, and this life itself is begun to be lived out, when we accept Christ and the beneficial merits of his God-enthroned life.

Sin is something a person can empirically self-assess. We either acknowledge that we fall short of the what we really ought to be, or we do not. This self-assessment was part of my journey to faith.  Jesus upped he ante of the OT Law by making it clear that true righteousness is of the heart -- motive -- and not merely outward acts or behavior.

Having been on this journey many years, I still do not measure up to the standard -- which is a perfectly pure heart lived out in perfectly pure actions. That is why my hope for forgiveness, built on  the blood of Christ shed for me, is also firmly planted in his resurrection, and the assurance that this body will one day be replaced with a glorious body, not subject to sin's temptations.

Which brings us full circle to Genesis 3.

The Bible is a grand over-arching story in which we are all either witting or unwitting participants.

Archeological/Historical Apologetics: The Destruction of Tyre and Sidon: Help Wanted

(something's going on with my paragraphing - not working right -- sorry.)

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes -- Jesus.

Were Tyre and Sidon destroyed as predicted by Ezekiel 26/27?  

Currently I have two votes for "no". 

The Ball Bounces is "open for business" -- what do you say?  I'm not really an archeology guy. Any fledgling Christian apologist out there got a copy of Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands A Verdict handy?  Meanwhile, I'm trolling for information...

From what I have read so far, two distinctions must be made.

1. In Ezekiel -- Nebuchadnezzar, i.e., "he", vs. Nations, i.e., "they" coming against Tyre and Sidon.

2. In history -- Tyre vs. the rebuilt on another location "New Tyre".

3. A third point -- the distinctions that Ezekiel makes between what will happen to Tyre vs. Sidon are instructive.

The principle I use is this: when there is an apparent discrepancy between the Bible and empirical evidence, it is usually because of "too little" evidence, not because there is "too much".

"Probably the best-known episode in the history of Tyre was its resistance to the army of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, who took it after a seven-month siege in 332. He completely destroyed the mainland portion of the town and used its rubble to build an immense causeway (some 2,600 feet [800 metres] long and 600–900 feet [180–270 metres] wide) to gain access to the island section. After the town’s capture, 10,000 inhabitants were put to death, and 30,000 were sold into slavery. Alexander’s causeway, which was never removed, converted the island into a peninsula". -- Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The Destruction Of Tyre by David Padfield

Ezekiel and the Oracles against Tyre Dennis Bratcher (uses NRSV - Liberal view)

Christian Courier - A Study of Ezekiel 28 BY WAYNE JACKSON (disagrees with me on Satan/Antichrist!)

A Ready Defense. Seven predictions and their "disposition". Quoting George Davis, "The prophecy against Sidon is very different from that concerning Tyre. It was foretold that Tyre would be destroyed, made bare like a rock, and built no more. The prediction against Sidon is that blood will be in her streets, her wounded shall fall in the midst of her, and the sword is to be on her every side. But there is no doom of extinction pronounced against her as was the case of Tyre."

Ancient Bible prophecies fulfilled.  Similar 7-prediction approach. "Prophecy scholar, George Davis, concludes: "No human mind could have foretold 2,500 years ago that Tyre would be extinct, and Sidon would continue, but suffer tribulation during the succeeding centuries; instead of Tyre enduring sorrows, and Sidon being desolate and deserted during the long period."

Some good photos in this one.

(Tip: use your browser's "Find" function to locate Tyre and/or Sidon within these articles)

Favorite Editions of the Bible -- Do You Have One?

My favorite translation is the New American Standard Bible (NASB) which keeps the closest to the Greek text. Right now, I'm reading through the New King James Version (NKJV). I enjoy most of the recent translations.

Greg Koukl over at Stand to Reason has a blog post on special-edition Bibles. He's a-gin 'em. I understand his point, but I think they have a place.

A Creation Bible highlighting all the passages dealing with creation -- there are loads of them outside of Genesis -- would interest me. A Prophecy Bible would be interesting. Add in commentary by experts and these Bibles would pack a whollup. When I read through the Bible, I often do with a certain theme in mind.  I've thought of doing a Great Prayers of the Bible study.

A Bible that tallied the killings would be regrettably instructive. Reading through, one is struck by the amount of sheer death and mayhem entailed in getting from the first Garden to the Second. It is a bloody and brutal story -- definitely realistic and not pie-in-the-sky nor for the faint of heart.


Do you have a favorite edition of the Bible?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Canadiana Quiz *UPDATED*

Without "looking":

12,000 men

5,000 horses

300 dog-sled teams

What were we used for?

The answer: The Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) from Ontario to the West.

Congratulations to the participants -- two correct answers!

Quote of the Day: "Nonsentient Contrivance "

"Intelligent design (ID)—the latest incarnation of religious creationism—posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent. Yet, many complex biological traits are gratuitously complicated, function poorly, and debilitate their bearers. Furthermore, such dysfunctional traits abound not only in the phenotypes but inside the genomes of eukaryotic species. 

Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent. These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome. 

Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces. In this important philosophical sense, the science of evolutionary genetics should rightly be viewed as an ally (not an adversary) of mainstream religions because it helps the latter to escape the profound theological enigmas posed by notions of ID."

Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome - 

John C. Avise - 

PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

It is OK for darwinists to speak of God in peer-reviewed science journals, as long as he is their God -- harmless, non-interferring, ignorable; the reverse courtesy is rarely afforded those who believe we are the products of an intentional Creator. According to PNAS, the only proper view of God is a Being who had no real role in our creation. In other words, a God not worth knowing, not worth worshipping, and not worth worrying about.

Still, you have to wonder why a guy like this would have any confidence whatsoever in the thoughts bubbling up in his brain. His thoughts are, after all, the product of a nonsentient contrivance, and nothing more

As I've said before, darwinists love to dis the creation, but they rarely if ever doubt the functional integrity of their own brains. Or maybe they do. Maybe they get up in the morning. The theist begins his day happily singing: "I am wondrously made in your image, O Lord...".  The darwinist, brushing his teeth, sputters and mutters, "My mind is a nonsentient contrivance, my mind is a nonsentient contrivance..."

Regain your humanity. Rebel against the atheist machine.™

PS:  There are at least three errors in the scientist's formulation of what ID is and says. Can you spot them?

PPS: Stephen Meyer weighs in on this issue, here:

"... one of the strongest challenges to intelligent design has always been the observation of things in nature that are not going well or don’t look like they were intelligently designed. In the book I have a section on pathogens and virulents. There have been these horrific diseases in the history of life — like the plague. People ask me, “Do you really want to say the plague was intelligently designed by God?” And as Christian and a design theorist, of course I don’t want to say that. So there are then three options to respond to this, sometimes called the problem of natural evil. One option is that there really is no evil, natural or otherwise; it’s just that you’ve got random mutations producing things that we like and things that we don’t like. That was essentially the Darwinian view. He was going to let God off the hook by saying essentially that God had nothing to do with it. He didn’t want to make God responsible for evil, so he made God responsible for nothing at all. The other view is that it looks like you’ve got design, but it looks like you’ve got a good designer and a bad designer at the same time. A third view — which I think is more in line with a Christian view of design — is that the world is simply evidence of a good design gone bad."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the Day: "A Fluke of Fortune Bordering on the Unbelievable"

Scientists, science publications, and a science-minded Ball blogger have praised a new book by Dr. Nick Lane, "Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution". (Profile/Norton 2009).

Words used include "awe-inspiring", "exhilarating", and "should be read by all biology students and their professors".

A New Scientist reviewer says, "The first two chapters are the most coherent and convincing summaries of the dawn of life and of DNA that I have ever read."

A couple of quotes gleaned by Jonathan McLatchie of the Discovery Institute (boo, hiss!) relate to the issue of darwinian/theistic/intelligent design:

"Short of positing celestial design, the only way to explain optimization is via the workings of selection. If so, the code of life must have evolved."

Following this "must-have evolved" line of neo-darwinian inquiry to consider the origin of DNA biosynthesis, Dr. Lane concludes:

... in a fluke of fortune bordering on the unbelievable, it might be that both the bacteria and archaea emerged from the very same hydrothermal mound. Little else could explain the fact that they share the same genetic code, as well as many details of protein synthesis, but apparently only learnt to replicate their DNA later on, totally independently. For while DNA and the genetic code certainly evolved only once, DNA replication - the physical mechanism of inheritance in all living cells - apparently evolved twice."

When a book's best shot on the origin of DNA biosynthesis employs the phrase, "a fluke of fortune bordering on the unbelievable",  and this book is given highest praise by the scientific community, isn't it reasonable to conclude that there is room to consider the adequacy of the mindless, purposeless, seamless chemical-biological darwinian scenario to adequately and fully explain the origins of life and species?

* * *

For the record, here are of the commendations found on Dr. Lane's website from scientists and science-related periodicals:

"What makes this such a great read is that Lane, a biochemist by training, does not simply rehash the standard evolutionary tales - unlike many books published recently. Instead, he is familiar with all the latest research and has made up his own mind about who is right. The result is an original and awe-inspiring account. The first two chapters are the most coherent and convincing summaries of the dawn of life and of DNA that I have ever read... This is an exhilarating tour of some of the most profound and important ideas in biology. Anyone interested in life should read it. Highly recommended." Michael Le Page, NEW SCIENTIST

"Excellent and imaginative... full of surprises... Life Ascending is a fascinating book for anyone interested in life and evolution." Lewis Wolpert, NATURE

"Lane is that particularly rare breed: a scientist who can not only offer a birds-eye view of an entire field but also tell you about his own very interesting ideas." Carl Zimmer, SCIENCE

"Comes closer to achieving [my dream popular science book] than any other book I have read... Bravo, Nick Lane! John Cheverton, THE BIOLOGIST

"Make no bones about it, this is an excellent book. It is great fun, readable, bubbling over with enthusiasm, and not afraid of controversial, even weird, ideas... Hopeless as a bedside book: you'd never sleep." Graham Cairns-Smith, CHEMISTRY WORLD

"A writer who's not afraid to think big - and think hard." Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics

"Nick Lane comes closer to achieving [my dream popular science book] than any other book I have read. From the first sentence he writes with a sense of wide-eyed wonder that (almost) always keeps its feet firmly on the facts... highly recommended as an update and tonic for any biologist who has lost touch with the subject’s excitement: bravo, Nick Lane!"John Cheverton, THE BIOLOGIST

"Extremely well written... It should be read by all biology students and their professors. I have just concluded reading it, and despite having studied biology for about six decades I have learnt a lot from it."Lars Olof Björn, INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE BIOLOGY

"Life Ascending really is beautifully written, and Lane has a true flair for scientific story telling... uttery gripping." Lewis Dartnell, ASTROBIOLOGY SOCIETY OF BRITAIN

And here's what journals and newspapers have said about it:

"This is a science book that doesn't cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on." Tim Radford, THE GUARDIAN

"Wonderful... Lane does a masterful job... an elegant, fully satisfying whole." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"A clever concept is carried through with a clarity and enthusiasm that belies the sophistication of the science.." GUARDIAN SUMMER READING

"It will blow your bloody mind… A series of lucid and logical explanations of the sublime intricacies and mechanics of biological evolution… blissful epiphanies on every page.” Giles Broadbent, WHARF

"An amazing scientist." Don Braben, TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION

"Nick Lane's examination of the brilliance of evolution isn't as thunderous as Richard Dawkins' last book but in a strange way that makes it all the more fascinating… Lane provides a thought-provoking account of how inspirational life really is." SHORTLIST MAGAZINE

"The book is, in the tradition of the best science writing, an ommateum (a compound vision) of the interconnectedness of everything in the world, as befits a poet who just happens to be extremely well-versed in physics, geology, and biochemistry. Lane tells a scientists tale in a way that adds to his reader’s sense of radical amazement.... It is literate and witty and one of my favorite science books of the past few years." Wayne Mones, AUDUBON MAGAZINE

"Ambitious and stimulating... Captures the excitement of science in action, with its mysteries, questions and conflicts... exhilarating." Margaret Quamme, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH (Ohio)

"Lane lays out processes of dizzying complexity in smooth, nimble prose." KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Ambitious... a fascinating and provocative scientific book for the layperson." LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Explores many of the most important questions in biology... Nick Lane is clear and concise in his writing, delivering concepts and ideas with ease and enthusiasm." HOW IT WORKS

"With clarity and vigor... Lane smoothly pulls in evidence to show how the critical components and mechanisms of complex life could have developed." NEW YORK TIMES

"This is a science book that doesn't cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on." Tim Radford, THE GUARDIAN

"Comes closer to achieving [my dream popular science book] than any other book I have read... Bravo, Nick Lane! John Cheverton, THE BIOLOGIST

"An amazing scientist." Don Braben, TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION

"With clarity and vigor... Lane smoothly pulls in evidence from genetics, proteomics, paleontology and geophysics to show how the critical components and mechanisms of complex life could have developed. Peter Dizikes NEW YORK TIMES

William Lane Craig's List of Go-To Christian Scholars

I'll be checking this list over the summer as time permits.

List and descriptions are William Lane Craig's from "So Many Atheists, So Little Time!"

Alvin Plantinga (University of Notre Dame),
Peter van Inwagen (University of Notre Dame),
The late William Alston (University of Syracuse),
Richard Swinburne (Oxford University),
Robert Adams (University of North Carolina),
Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University);

Francisco Ayala (highly decorated evolutionary biologist),
Allan Sandage (world’s most famous astronomer),
Christopher Isham (called Britain’s greatest quantum cosmologist),
George Ellis (once described to me by a colleague as the person who knows more about cosmology than any man alive),
Francis Collins (head of the human genome project);

Historical Jesus scholars: 
John Meier (author of a multi-volume study of the historical Jesus),
N. T. Wright (another writer of prodigious works on Jesus),
James D. G. Dunn (highly regarded scholar at the University of Durham),
Craig Evans (first class Canadian [sic] historical Jesus scholar).

I would add one Christian philosopher to the list: William Lane Craig.

I know of about half of these guys, and have had the pleasure of meeting Bill Craig and Craig Evans.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quote of the Day: "The Whole Goal is to Support 'Freedom of Thought'"

"In weeks to come, I will gladly explain how I believe we should go about destroying the Discovery Institute. And the whole goal is to support 'freedom of thought.' -- Steve Matheson, June 23, 2010.

The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law *Updated*

Exodus 20 - The Ten Commandments

 1 And God spoke all these words:

 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

 3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

 8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

 12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

 13 "You shall not murder.

 14 "You shall not commit adultery.

 15 "You shall not steal.

 16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

 17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

* * *

"The Reformers saw three proper uses of the moral precepts of Moses' law. Here's a summary from Article VI of the Lutheran Formula of Concord (the "Epitome," or short form):

"The Law has been given to men for three reasons: 1) to maintain external discipline against unruly and disobedient men, 2) to lead men to a knowledge of their sin, 3) after they are reborn, and although the flesh still inheres in them, to give them on that account a definite rule according to which they should pattern and regulate their entire life."

I could not have said it better myself.

More here at Pyromaniacs.

The Law of Moses, including all the ceremonial and civil commands, is summarized as follows in the Anglican service of holy communion:

Minister: "OUR Lord Jesus Christ said: Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

People. "Lord, have mercy upon us, and write both these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee."

U.K. Christian Hotel Owners Sued For Upholding Marriage Standard

"Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples – Thank you."  -- Peter and Hazelmary Bull, owners of The Chymorvah Private Hotel, Marazion, Cornwall, England.

They apparently had little or no problems with respect to their moral standards from 1986 on.

Until last August....

A clash of values:

'Under the European Convention on Human Rights, people are able to hold a religious belief and manifest it in the way they act.'

A spokesman for Stonewall said: 'We look forward to the hotel changing its policy to reflect equality, the 21st Century and the law.'

In PEI, Christian owners were hauled before the PEI human rights board for declining to accommodate two men in the same bed.  They were fined and ordered to submit to a state-sponsored, state-mandated re-education program. I called it the velvet glove of Canadian totalitarianism.

They declined. They paid their fine and closed their business.  Like Eleanor Rigby, nobody cared.

Also, this.

On What "Day" Was Evil Created?

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

From PJ: "if evil predates man, on what day was it created? Your book is a little vague on it.

Seems the great deceiver was the guy who decided to put a snake in an apple tree, but before the snake, there doesn't seem to be much mention of evil..."

* * *

I take from PJ's inquiry that by "day" he is referring to the six days of creation.  Here's my take on this.

1. The six days of creation are a depiction of "God's work week", using exalted prose (half-way between straight prose and poetry) to describe God whipping the rough creation into shape to make it a suitable habitation for man.  It thus uses the language of analogy that would be understandable to an Israelite craftsman -- "you have your work-week; God had his". It makes clear that life is planned and not accidental. Things look designed because they are designed. Man is not a mere animal. He is created in the moral, rational, creative image of God.  Man is the focus. Evil predates this.

2. The roughed-in creation of the heavens and the earth  -- Genesis 1:1-2 -- precedes the six day creation week. Notice that prior to verse three -- where the first "day" occurs, there is already the heavens and the earth, "void and without form". In other words, the earth exists, but is unsuitable for habitation.  Any number of billions years could have passed, and there is no good reason to think that the six days must be interpreted as six chronological days. Nor must we think that these six days must precisely align with scientific accounts. Not the purpose of the account.

3. Genesis 1:1 begins at the creation of the material universe. The creation of spiritual worlds, of angels, etc.,  predates the material creation. The fall of Satan would have occurred sometime during eternity past, prior to the "creation of the heavens and the earth".

Satan was not created evil, but became evil when he rebelled against God.  Why God would have allowed the devil to remain around to tempt man is a mystery. 

What cannot be denied is that evil actually exists. But, for evil to actually exist, good must actually exist, since evil is the opposite of good, the absence of good, the corruption of the good, and without good, which i.e, entails an "ought", evil, an "ought not", is an empty, incomprehensible notion.  Therefore, morality is not a mere add-on, but is at the very heart of ultimate reality. This fact alone disqualifies any kind of purely materialistic darwinian account of origins as being inadequate to explain the facts before us. The only adequate explanation for the existence of good as part of the fabric of reality is the existence of a Personal Entity who embodies goodness. In other words, if evil exists, good exists, if good exists, God exists. If God is all-powerful, evil shall be eradicated.

The first three chapters of Genesis are thus profoundly true in a way that makes any merely scientific account of origins by contrast trivial.

The only question is, "does evil win"?  Scripture and history shows that evil wins many battles -- the fall of man, the enslavement of men, the defeat of Israel, the crucifixion of  Christ, the persecution of the Jews, the corruption of the Church.

But, evil loses the war. If evil exists, God exists. If God is all-powerful (as he claims to be), evil's days are numbered.  And, so says the book of Revelation, Genesis' book-end, written thousands of years after the Genesis account.

There is a day coming when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ.  

And the one who won my heart, and the heart of countless others, shall reign forever.


The Racist Assumption Behind Criticisms of Arizona's New Law

"It... requires state and local police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is unlawfully in the country, even during routine traffic stops. Critics say that this will inevitably result in widespread harassment of Hispanic or Hispanic-looking Americans."

Why would it?

Are these leftist critics suggesting that Hispanics make up more than the average number of illegal immigrants?


The only acceptable assumption is that all races, equally and with equal probability, are entering the USA illegally.

Anything else is racist.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote of the Day: "People Say"

"You can never find a Christian who has acquired this valuable knowledge, this saving knowledge, by any process but the everlasting and all-sufficient 'people say.'" -- Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, via PJ

My path to Christianity included the following elements;

1. Introspection as to who I was, what was the meaning and purpose of life (if any), and the implications of mortality -- the extinction of the self, the "I". Was I the product of God, as taught by the Church, or the product of impersonal forces, as taught by secular voices?

2. As I was pondering these things, one day I noticed a cartoon with little human caricatures running around on the page, speaking. I concluded that just as it is unbelievable to believe in a cartoon but not a cartoonist -- without knowing anything about who he is or what he is like --  it is reasonable to infer a Creator from man -- infinitely more complex and wonderful than the pale shadow of a two-dimensional cartoon character.

I chose to believe in God. I chose to believe that life was not meaningless and without ultimate purpose, and that there was at least a chance that the deepest aspirations and longings of a young heart could be valid and not the cruel results of a mindless, impersonal, indifferent process. It was an existential choice made against the prevailing ideology of my day. It would not make me popular.

3. I studied all major world religions to see if this Creator who I now believed existed had a name or an identity. How can all these religions "see" all these incompatible different things? God may be in one of them, or none. Expecting not to find a religion I could believe in, I planned on a "roll your own" faith that would allow me to maintain a substantially independent lifestyle, while enjoying the profession of being a "spiritual" person"!  Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Egyptian...

But I was seeking, and I was seeking with sincerity of heart.

4. I was impressed with the Judaic portrayal of God which stood out in contrast with all the other surrounding religions (and deities) of their day. How did an obscure tribe scratching out an existence on the hills of Judea manage to come up with such a portrayal of God -- omnipotent, just, Creator?  That left an impression on me, as we headed into the second year, second university semester -- and destiny.

5. Most of all, I was impressed by the person and words of Christ, when I studied Introduction to the New Testament. Although not a believer, I found myself defending him in class. I thought the Passover Plot was a second-rate attempt to discredit Christ and the disciples.

6. I concluded that the words of Christ were more than the words of a mere man who lived then died. They are the words of a man who lives. That was my tipping-point. And it was that conviction that led me to bow and pray out loud in my dorm room at university, "Jesus, I believe you are alive, and therefore, Lord. Because I believe this, I will follow you".

7. I later read in Romans 10:9-10 that if a person "believes in his heart that God raised Christ from the dead, and confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus, he shall be saved".

And that is what I had done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

James, Apostle, Son of Zebedee - Martyr

This Sunday we commemorate the life and martyrdom of St. James the Apostle.

This is not the James who wrote the Epistle of James. That was James the brother of Jesus, who disbelieved in Jesus during his life and came to believe in him after his resurrection. That James (the brother of Jesus) is known as James the Just, and he headed up the church at Jerusalem.

The James whose life and martyrdom we celebrate today was the brother of John; they were "the sons of Zebedee". Tradition tells us that Zebedee ran a successful fish-market business and even supplied some of the notable Temple figures with their fish.

They are believed to have been cousins of Jesus.  Perhaps it was in the light of this that their mother asked Jesus to let her sons sit on his left and right side when he came into his kingdom and glory. Jesus was non-committal.

James was one of the inner circle consisting also of Peter and his brother John. They witnessed Jesus' transfiguration and were invited to accompany Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemene.  Jesus called them the sons of Thunder. On one occasion, travelling through Samaria, they asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire on a town in Samaria which had rejected them. Jesus declined their offer.

While his brother John apparently lived on to a ripe old age in the city of Ephesus, James was killed under King Herod Agrippa I, the first of the Twelve to be martyred for his faith and the only one of the Twelve whose martyrdom is recorded in Scripture.

We do not know how he handled his execution; he could hardly have done better than the Church's first martyr, Stephen, who said, "Lord do not hold this sin against them", and, "into your hands, Lord Jesus, I commit my spirit".

The Doukhobors -- A Persecuted Christian Sect

"The Doukhobors were... a Christian sect that the [Canadian] Government actually tried to kill off, residential schools, mass arrests, the whole gambit.

Why do I know about Doukhobors? Because I have an interest in Canadian history and politics, and the intersection with religion. Consequently, I have more than one book on my shelf.

Doukhobor history is interesting and telling. They seemed to me to be the most “Christian” of all the recent faith systems claiming to be so. By that, I mean they seemed to be the one who took the (reported) teachings of Jesus seriously, and tried to live by them: complete pacifism, the rejection of icons and church hierarchy, the renouncing of all possessions, caring for all living things to the point of self sacrifice…

Of course, like all religions, schisms, power politics, external and internal forces broke it up, with the splinter group who most self-identified as “fundamental” ended up being the one straying farthest from the core, resulting in the inevitable charismatic leadership and violence.

-- P@J.

Quote of the Day: "The Whole Foundation of Christianity"

 "The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. " -- Frank Zappa

The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the witness of the apostles to the life, death, burial, and, resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were eye-witnesses of his resurrection. They were also recipients of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which he had promised and which they passed on to his followers and which is available to believers today.  The Christian faith is historical as well as existential. It is propositional as well as experiential. It encompasses the mind, the will, and the emotions of the Christian. It affects the body, the soul (mind, will, emotions) and the spirit (inner immaterial being) of man.

Faith in the heart and mind of the believer can range from the simple Forrest Gump variety to sophisticated Augustine.  God accepts both. Children can possess and enjoy what the cleverest atheist can only press his nose against the glass and vacuously ponder.

Quote of the Day: "Intellectualism is the work of the Devil"

 "The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. " -- Frank Zappa

The Devil makes an appearance on the pages of the Ball Bounces. The deceiver, the snake, the dragon, the evil one, the tempter, the liar, the accuser of the brethren. Reality is both material and spiritual, and the devil is part of the spiritual landscape of reality.

Evil exists. It is real. And it predates man. It will ultimately be completely defeated and abolished. Guaranteed. I've read the Book.

Pat and the Doukhobors

Late-breaking news from News Of The World: Pat Jay, noted Ball Bounces contributor, has ditched atheism and joined the Doukhobors.  When asked about this startling development, he said, "I did it for the chicks."

No word from Pat J.'s wife.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Everything I Know About RNA I Learned From Bill Murray

I love metaphor, analogy, and Bill Murray (oh my gosh Dr. Leo -- you're the greatest!).  So, I gotta love this quote embedded inside a serious science article:

"It's a molecular groundhog day".  (Shouldn't that be "molecular Groundhog Day"?

Why Evolution is True:

"Short of positing celestial design, the only way to explain optimization is via the workings of selection. If so, the code of life must have evolved."

This is the circularity of darwinian assumptions applied to origins of life. "If it wasn't created, it must have evolved. Created is not a scientific explanation. Since science is the only way of eliciting reality, evolution must true. Evolution-is-true proves creationism false!"

But, there are disturbances in the force. Another metaphor:

"Effectively, RNA can't see past its own nose and is never going to generate complexity in a solution."

Ha! O faithless one. This one is simple. The RNA first evolves a Pinnochio-sized nose.

Next?  "This is a chicken-and-egg situation just as ineluctable as the DNA-protein loop, albeit less celebrated. (p. 54)"

I'm gonna let noted evolutionist Paul McCartney take this one. "There will be an answer. Let it be."

The answer comes " a fluke of fortune bordering on the unbelievable, it might be that both the bacteria and archaea emerged from the very same hydrothermal mound."

This is the state-of-the-evolutionary-assumpted-science. A scientific description which resorts to using the words fluke and unbelievable.

An unbelievable fluke (i.e., the scientific approach) or intelligent design (i.e., the unscientific, superstitious, bone-headed creationist approach).

There will be an answer. Let it be.

PS - Jonathan. I couldn't dig out the quote I was thinking of on RNA world problems, but this article will do.

Quote of the Day: Too Tired To Think

"God is a sound people make when they're too tired to think anymore." --  Edward Abbey (via  PJ.)

Actually, God is a sound Hollywood puts in the mouth of actors as an opening exclative. It's over-used.

God is an intuition imprinted on the minds of atheists that makes the meek ones nervous and the bold ones angry.

They can't leave him alone!

And that's the way the too-tired-to-think Ball bounces.

The Best Critique of the Christian Faith The World Has Ever Known!!!

"the best critique of the Christian faith the world has ever known".

"…this book completely destroys Christianity."

But Wait!

"The Christian Delusion turns out to be just another white elephant in the overcrowded zoo of militant atheism".

"... such hubris vastly overreaches reality, and Triablogue is here to demonstrate it with The Infidel Delusion."  <--- a *Free* e-book!

For more on this punch-up, check out The Wintery One.

The Trinity Illustrated

The doctrine of the Trinity is a human formulation of a dynamic divine reality. It is inescapable as one ponders the relationships between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  A few observations:

1. Muslims tend to be very inflexibly literalistic in their thinking. They "add up" the Father, Son, and HS, and get "three gods". Wrong.

2. The Trinity is not absent in the Old Testament Scriptures; it is implicit. It becomes more explicit in the New Testament. The Bible is a progressive revelation.

3. God is eternally self-sufficient. He has no need of anything or anyone. It is also true of God that he is love -- love is at the core of his being. But, love requires an object to express itself. Combining these two thoughts, we see the logical necessity of the Trinity -- God's self-love.  God is love and this love finds eternal expression within his eternally self-sufficient being.

The Father loves the Son (we see this expressed in the gospels); the Son loves the Father (we certainly also see this expressed in the gospels) and the Spirit of God expresses the unity between the two of them.

4. You see the triangle in the diagram. Think of a musical triangle consisting of three continuous sides.

   - regardless of which side you strike, the exact same note is sounded -- they speak and act as one

   - you hit one side, all three sides resonate and contribute to the sound that is made -- they speak and act  as one -- it is impossible for one to act apart from the others. (The exception being the crucifixion in which a terrible rent in the godhead was made as the Father "excommunicated" the Son who had become sin for us -- and the eternal Son experienced the hell of separation from God.)

A lot of the early Church schisms were due to trying to parse God's trinity and Christ's humanity/divinity to the nth degree. Christians should retain a sense of mystery. Mystery is at the heart of reality. Not everything is knowable. Not everything is reducible to materialistic explanations. Not everything is reducible to logical constructs. Some things are incomprehensible, other things are inexpressible.

A God who is completely comprehensible by us is probably a God who has been falsely defined and understood.

Which would be a pretty good definition of Islam.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A 10-Question Quiz For Christians

Here's a quiz from Hard-Core Christianity.

1. What are the three [main] branches of modern Christendom?

2. What was the Council of Nicea?

3. Are you Calvinist, Arminian, or Molinist in your theological viewpoints?

4. Name one major heresy of Mormonism.

5. Define “substitutionary atonement.”

6. Who was Martin Luther?

7. Who wrote the book of Hebrews?

8. Give one reason why our canon of scripture is trustworthy.

9. What is the Apocrypha?

10. Can you give one OBJECTIVE reason for your faith in the Gospel of Christ without using scripture?

The story is told in our family lore of my Uncle George who when asked, "what is the Mount of Olives noted for?" answered: "Olives". His teacher was not impressed. One suspects he was guessing...

To Pray or Not to Pray

"Christopher’s Hitchens’s cancer has provoked a debate on the Internet: should people pray for an atheist when that person does not believe in God and does not believe in prayer? The reaction has been mixed, but both Jews and Christians believe that it is appropriate to pray for an atheist while most atheists say that people should not pray for Hitchens.

The prospect of death and the implications of what comes after death frightens even atheists. When confronted with the reality of death, atheists seek a loophole in their argument for the nonexistence of God..."

Interesting essay by a brother, Dr. Claude Mariottini, here.

Quote of the Day: "The Only Meaning Comes From Your Will Power"

"Atheism is clarity. It is not merely the resolve of your insignificance. It is the reversal of age old belief; the understanding that the only meaning and direction come from your will power and nothing other."

-J. Raney, The Finite Man, quoted by Jonathan on the Ball Bounces.

(I can't find this quote online. I have my suspicions...)

If this is the best atheism can do, it is in serious trouble. When it comes to the really important things in life, the things that distinguish us as humans and not mere animals, it is feeble.

Consider a godless universe. Uncreated. Undesigned. From nothing. For nothing. Prior to man. Prior to life. Is the concept of meaning even coherent? It is not. It is absurd to ask the question because meaning is meaningless, an empty concept. There is no meaning. What is, is, and that is all. No higher purpose (no lower purpose).

Then along comes man. A purpose-driven, meaning-seeking animal. Where does this concept of meaning come from? How does it get wired-into us. Darwinian survival mechanisms? Oh, puleeze! But, OK, let's say darwinian survival mechanisms wired humans to think in terms of meaning. An insentient, dumb-as-a-rock process endues us with the concept of meaning and invites us to seek it.  What possible actual integrity or authenticity can "meaning" possibly have under this scenario? It's absurd.

The atheist can claim that he makes his own meaning by sheer willpower. But, if he is honest he will also admit it's a scam, a sham, and an absurdity.

Atheism diminishes our humanity. It is the inevitable consequence of losing the ontological foundation for rationality, morality, and higher-values like meaning.

Regain your humanity. Rebel against the atheist machine.™

The Money Quote™: "There is no Darwin Conspiracy"

AnswersinGenesis weighs in -- a source xn-etc accepts as authoritative!!!

Here's one of the "accusations" made in the Davies book.

"Next, Davies turned his attention to Darwin’s Journal of Researches, known better to modern readers as Voyage of the Beagle. Originally published in 1839, the book was reissued in a revised edition in 1845. In the interim between the two editions, Darwin had worked to develop his species theory, and the revised edition of Journal of Researches contained new interpretations of Darwin’s original observations.... Davies implied that this was a means for Darwin to establish priority by giving the impression that he was already thinking about evolution aboard the Beagle before he ever read Blyth or Matthew.

H o w e v e r . . .

The Money Quote (TMQ): "As Christians concerned with presenting the truth, creationists should avoid Davies’s conspiracy theory. Love him or hate him, Darwin was the author of his theory of evolution by natural selection."

"There is no Darwin Conspiracy"
Todd Charles Wood, Center for Origins Research and Education, Bryan College, Dayton, TN

Another view here: Did Darwin plagiarize his evolution theory? Jerry Bergman

"Good evidence now exists to show that Darwin ‘borrowed’... all or most of his ‘dear child’ from other researchers. They were not ‘his own brainchild’, nor his child, but that of others which he appropriated, evidently often without giving them proper credit."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More on the Darwin - Alfred Russel Wallace Controversy

Extracts from a current paper on the Darwin - Wallace Controversy.

"Though Darwin never acknowledged the Sarawak Law paper [1855], a graduate student, Lewis McKinney (1966) found a copy of it in his collected papers. It had been heavily annotated by Darwin who had obviously recognized its importance....

* * *

"... This completed Wallace’s theory of evolution; he wrote it out and posted it to Darwin from the island of Ternate on 9 March [1858] when the first available ship arrived. McKinney (1966) has drawn attention to another letter, which still exists, and was sent by Wallace on the same boat, on the same day, to Frederick Bates (figure 3). The letter corroborates the dates of posting; it carries the cancellation marks for the various stages of its journey from Ternate and arrived in the Leicester post office for delivery on 3 June.

"The letter to Darwin should therefore have been delivered on the same day or very soon after, but he claimed not to have received it until 18 June. The fact that he had, in the meantime, written to Hooker on 8 June to say that he had finally solved the frustrating problem of how species diverged in nature, looks a little suspicious in these circumstances.

* * *

"That Wallace almost certainly solved the problem of divergence before Darwin did is, perhaps, not surprising. Wallace had much the greater experience in the field of biogeography, which was so fundamental to unravelling the relationships between species. But, even more importantly, he had the advantage that, unlike Darwin, he was looking actively for evidence of evolution while in the field, and
could therefore tailor his data collection appropriately.

* * *

It appears [i.e., it's not proven] that Wallace's contributions enabled Darwin to overcome his conceptual logjams and provided him with some key insights that were integral to his theory as finally published subsequent to Wallace's published papers and letters to Darwin.  Darwin finally acknowledged Wallace, but not in the first edition of the Origin, and not in its second.

Extracted from J. Biosci. 35(3), September 2010 ePublication: 30 June 2010

The Airport Conspiracy

Forget about Da Vinci. The real conspiracy is at airports.  Why do they create public spaces that are electrical outlet-free?  Do they conspire? Is there a contest to see who can offer the fewest? Do evil airport managers with evil laughs meet annually to show off images of vast swaths of public airport space that are electrical-outlet free?

I'm sitting here at Pearson and no lie I'm staring at a pillar where there used to be an electrical outlet and it's covered over with a solid plate.

Why, oh, why??!!  What is that sound I hear in the background?


And that's the way the stuck-at-Pearson Ball bounces.

PS -- they do offer free wifi now, though.

America is the New Russia

Newark, like Russia and China before it, cannot afford public toilet paper.

Next, workers will be stealing light bulbs from work and replacing them with burnt-out bulbs from home.

The market is "up" on the news.

Is Time Dead?

This was from the 1960s. More to the point: Is Time dead yet?

Quote of the Day: A Subconscious Assumption of the Soul

"Atheism is abnormality. It is not merely the denial of a dogma. It is the reversal of a subconscious assumption in the soul; the sense that there is a meaning and a direction in the world it sees." - G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ball Bounces Welcomes Denesh S.

Here are some blogs that Denesh S. is following. I'm going to enjoy investigating a bunch of these!

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"