Archive for January 2009

The Rise of Evolution: Darwin’s Modernism

January 27, 2009

This series of articles will consider how evolution got to the place of prominence that it now enjoys.  The story goes that Darwin “discovered” evolution on the isles of Galapagos.   While this is popular, it is also untrue.  Darwin’s path to evolution was not governed by scientific discovery, but by his own brand of theology; attempting to reconcile the problem of natural evil.  Later articles will be dedicated to further developing that argument.  This article will focus on the intellectual environment that allowed Darwin’s theology and theodicy (a branch of philosophy dealing with the problem of evil) to thrive.

These articles were inspired by Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil by Cornelius Hunter. 

The purpose of these articles will be to show that, “at it’s core, evolution is about God, not science” (Cornelius Hunter, Darwin’s God).

Notions About God

In theological thought, all doctrines are built upon the doctrine of God.  Similarly, in secular thought, there is an underlying view of God.  Charles Darwin, his contemporaries and even today’s modern evolutionists make many mentions of the Creator.  Their notions of God are part of their basic reasoning. 

The question becomes:  How did the evolutionary notion of God become so widely accepted that it now needs no justification?  When they mention God, their definition of Him is unexplained and unquestioned.  How did it get like this?  The answer to this lies in. . .

The History of Religious Thought

I obviously can’t get close to specific about this topic, so the basics will have to suffice.

The trend, in the modern age, is to think of God as being comprehensible.  And if a certain aspect of God is incomprehensible, then that part must either be irrelevant or not truly part of God.  God’s acts of creation and intervention are being thought of as things that can be understood, reasoned about and even scientifically modeled.

Centuries before Darwin, thinkers began to scrutinize God according to rules of reason and began seeking to describe creation in accordance with natural law, not just divine intervention.  Since the Middle Ages, nature has been seen as having a certain level of autonomy.  Sure, God may have started it all and arranged things the way they are now, but nature has, since then, operated according to uniform, unchanging laws that need no divine maintenance. 

Descartes (1596 – 1650) is considered, by many, to be the first of these thinkers.  However, many like Thomas Burnet (1635 – 1715), Edmund Halley (1656 – 1742) and William Whiston (1667 – 1752) all added their brand of natural explanations for God’s creation and intervention.  Could God have miraculously started The Flood?  Surely.  However, isn’t it more amazing, and doesn’t it use more wisdom and power, to cause these events to come about by secondary means?  A God who just changes things because He can is certainly less impressive.

Hume’s Attack on Miracles

David Hume’s (1711-1776) argument against miracles is considered by many to be the pinnacle of this line of thinking; that God does not dabble in His creation.  Hume turned the notion of miracles around from being a point of evidence for the believer to being a liability. 

Hume argued that as we observe the natural laws all around us, we must weigh the evidence of the natural law being broken just once, against all the instances of the natural law working just fine.  Since this is the case, the evidence for that single instance of a miracle would have to be compelling indeed.  The report of a miracle becomes a case of “proof against proof”.  Needless to say, Hume looked into history and never found evidence of a miracle to be compelling.

Hume’s Uniformitarianism

Of course, Hume’s argument has a problem.  C.S. Lewis pointed out that Hume argued in a circle because he must presuppose that nature is absolutely uniform to begin with (Beckwith, David Hume’s Argument against Miracles:  A Critical Analysis).  Half of the “proof against proof” statement is the proof of nature’s uniformity.  Yet, this cannot be proven by science, so Hume must assume it. 

The other assumption is that the natural laws do not leave room for any exceptions to the rule.  By attempting to limit exceptions that would make science useless, scientific thought has ruled out exceptions altogether, no matter the cause.  Again, Hume must assume this.

That Hume’s argument fails because of these assumptions is not what we’re concerned with here.  What is important to this article is that Hume’s proof against miracles was widely accepted in his day, and continues to be.  In the vast majority of instances, the presupposition of uniformity and simplicity are transparent or purposefully ignored by practicing scientists. 

Hume’s proof against miracles highlights these unspoken assumptions that are no longer questioned.  That these assumptions are taken for granted as fact, shows just how deeply they have been internalized in the modern scientific mind.

What Affect Did This Have?

Many theologians in the centuries before Darwin used logic, reason, and scientific inquiry to provide arguments for God.  The logical conclusion is that if the existence of God can be argued for in this way, then so can His non-existence.  If God only interacts with His creation through natural laws, why not just describe phenomena according to natural laws?  Why “add” God?

In attempting to rationalize God, modernist thinkers also distanced God from His creation.  Darwin started his work in this theological climate.  His definition of God needed no explanation, because it was already accepted.  Darwin merely pushed God further from His creation, and provided a coherent scientific framework in which to do it.  How and why Darwin was able to do this will be further explored in the future articles in the series.

Comments Deleted and Banned from “Proud Atheists”

January 26, 2009

I’m posting this just so we can have on record yet another intellectually dishonest atheist. 

Mark, over at Proud Atheists, posted some statistics on Christians and atheists in jail.  Trying to make the point that since there are hardly any atheists in jail, therefore religion is bad. 

Of course, the statistic that Mark is purposefully ignoring is that there are hardly any atheists in America!

I pointed this out to him when I said:

Unfortunately, the most recent (2001) ARIS poll shows that only .4% of the US population positively professes atheism while a 2005 Gallup poll shows that only 5% say they don’t believe in God (that includes agnostics btw). It’s convenient of you to use the low population of atheists in prisons but ignore the very low population of atheists in America. Twisting stats just because it suits your argument…tsk tsk Mark.

He responded with:

The keyphrase is “open atheists”.

A new survey in the U.S. shows that the number of 18-25 year olds who are atheist, agnostic or nonreligious has increased from 11 percent in 1986 to 20 percent today.

http://humaniststudies.org/enews/?id=281&article=0

A 2005 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica finds that the non-religious make up about 11.9% of the world’s population, and atheists about 2.3%. This figure does not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism#Demographic

So, not only does he confirm my statistic in his second citation (2.3%), he completely goes off the deep end with his first citation.  I informed of this:

Mark

This is getting ridiculous. I give you statistics from a Gallup poll and the ARIS report and you give me Pew Research Center from a Humanist website about 18-25 year olds? Since when were we talking about 18-25 year olds?

But I know what you did, you found the highest percentage you could, regardless of reliability and relevance and cited it. Are you even attempting to be honest?

Now, this is where Mark get’s REALLY shady, he responded with:

Polls from 2001?? That’s back when people loved GW Bush. I wouldn’t bet on 8 year old polls no matter who conducted them. Things have changed quite a lot since then. And since when aren’t 18 – 25 year olds relevant?? They pay taxes too!

Like I said, no matter what stats I introduce,you would discredit them.

In the original discussion, that comment ended with the phrase, “And never question my honesty”. 

I wrote two more comments.  One that was devoted to Mark’s intellectual dishonesty in moving goalposts with the 18-25 year old demographic (something that was never in the original article or discussion) and his verbal threat of “Never question my honesty”.

The other comment was to point out the irrationality of Marks’, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway!” argument, and that if a Christian used that argument, Mark would be all over him like white on rice, but it’s ok if Mark uses it, well, because he’s Mark. 

Both comments, and his threat, were deleted and when I attempted to comment and address his blogging dishonesty, I found that I was banned. 

Mark, the ultimate irony is that you berate Christians for being brainwashed and lacking all logic.  Well, the only one deleting comments, and banning people, who are merely using argument to disagree with you, is not the Christian.

A Question On Homosexuality

January 24, 2009

Before you make judgments about my beliefs, I would like to say that I consider homosexuality to be as sinful as the Bible claims it is.  That is, homosexuality is on par with any other sin mentioned in the same breath in the Scriptures.  To put it another way, the sin I commit on a daily basis is not any better or worse than any sin that a homosexual commits.  We are all human beings and God loves us all the same; nothing I do makes Him love me more, and nothing a homosexual does makes Him love you less.  That is my disclaimer.  So if you’d like to respond to the question I will pose to you, I will discuss it on any level.  However, if you respond with any invented persecution, I will just refer you to this paragraph.

This question requires some explanation, I promise it will be worth it.

The Christian Personal Experience

At the heart of every Christian conversion story, or what we call “testimony”, is a personal experience with God.  No matter how much empirical evidence there is for God, or manuscript evidence for the Bible, the individual becomes a Christian because of a supernatural, unexplainable, personal experience with God.  In fact, most Christians will put it in terms of “knowing Jesus Christ personally”.  This testimony may be fantastic in nature with a report of a miraculous physical or emotional healing or a quieter, but no less profound, subtle realization.

Now, what does the skeptic/agnostic/atheist/non-theist or any other secularist do with this personal testimony?  They discount it immediately of course.  And why shouldn’t they?  They are merely being consistent with the empirical presupposition common in the 21st century modern world.  It is an unverifiable, unrepeatable and unobservable personal experience.  Such things can’t be taken at face value after all, and they certainly do not apply to anyone else besides the one giving the testimony.  The Christian, or anyone giving such personal experience testimony, could be mistaken, fooled or lying and no one would know the difference. 

The Homosexual Personal Experience

In the same way, when a homosexual is asked why they are gay, their testimony consists of something similar to, “I always knew . . .”, “No matter how much I tried to deny it . . .”, “I realized that I was always . . .”, or something of that nature.  Using their personal experience, they tell you that they were born homosexual or that it’s just who they are.  The fact that they are born homosexual isn’t derived from knowledge of their own genetic code (there is no gay gene) and any claim that God created them gay is merely repeating their personal experience assertion.  That homosexuals are born gay is a generally accepted fact, especially in secular circles.

So, my question is . . .

Why do secularists in general accept the personal experience testimony of homosexuals that they were “born gay” and yet reject the Christian’s personal conversion experience with God?  Why do they take the homosexuals’ word for it but reject the word of the Christian?  Why the distinction?

(I ask this question honestly interested in hearing any answer someone can give me, this is not meant to be rhetorical or sarcastic; I am honestly curious)

My Son is in the Hospital (Update: We’re Home)

January 18, 2009

Can everyone pray for my son?  He has been in the hospital since yesterday, and we definitely will spend at least another day or two there.  Please pray that God heals him and that God gives us peace through out this process.  I will explain more when I have the chance, but I have to get back to the hospital now.  Your prayers are greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Update 01/22/09

As you can probably imagine, I haven’t had much free time on my hands.  However, there is a parent resource center here at the hospital and I’m taking a few minutes to get an update done.  So, as you can tell, my wife and I are still at the hospital. 

On Sunday, we got our diagnosis.  He’s got a viral infection in his lungs caused by a particular virus called RSV.    It wasn’t an emergency situation, as we skipped the ER and got admitted straight away after waiting about 2.5 hours for a bed to open up.  However, it was moderately serious in that when we admitted him on Saturday, he was coughing and choking on the mucus being produced in his lungs. 

For adults, RSV is just a head cold, but for babies, they don’t have the strength in the lungs, diaphragm and intercostal muscles to cough hard enough to bring the mucus up.  So that requires a thin tube to be stuck down his nose, into his lungs, to suction out the mucus.  This is hard on the child, who is screaming, coughing and gagging and hard on the me and my wife because we have to watch him go through it, or help hold the little guy down.  This takes place every four hours or so. 

Over the past few days, the “deep suctioning”, as they call it, has gotten easier on my son, and he no longer freaks out as much (still gagging though), and gets over the trauma faster.  It’s also a bit easier on us, but not much.  The fluid in his lungs is still being produced by the RSV but not as thick and not as much.

His mood has changed from that of a sick baby, to the Landon we know and love.  He’s laughing, playing and just generally becoming more like himself over the past two days.  It’s just that there is still fluid in his lungs that he cannot expel without the deep suction.  That is why we’ve been here for 6 days and will continue to be until his lungs are at least 75% clear.  Sometimes, RSV can take up to two weeks in the hospital!

So, keep praying for Landon that he would keep improving and pray for perseverance for my wife and I as I go back and forth from home to the hospital, and as I go back to work tomorrow, and as she stays at the hospital all day.  We both have great support with friends and family, visiting, calling and helping any way they can, but it’s still a trying time.

Thanks for the prayers, they mean everything.

We’re Home 01/25/09

On Friday, Landon made huge improvements and didn’t need a deep suction all day.  When his pediatrician came in Saturday afternoon, he released us from the hospital.  So, we’re home!  It was a long week, to say the least, but we’re just glad Landon is better and that it was “merely” a virus and not something worse.  Needless to say, it was a week that will go down in infamy.

Jesus Christ, The Apostle Paul and Homosexuality

January 14, 2009

There is a school of thought out there that the message of Jesus Christ was a message of humanism that was twisted into what is now modern Christianity by the Apostle Paul.  Particularly, the current Christian stance regarding homosexuality was not something Jesus would approve of.  The thinking goes that the rejection of homosexuality is a solely Old Testament concept that has been wrongly read into the New Testament, and into modern Christian thought, by the un-Christ like teachings Apostle Paul and selective reverance to Old Testament concepts.  Specifically, the charge becomes that Christians who want to oppose homosexuality use the Bible to do so, yet there is no support for this position within the New Testament or especially in the teachings of Jesus.

This charge was made to me in a conversation with Matt from ilikeportello that started here and then continued over at a post he entitled, Homo-Christianity.  Specifically Matt (and one of his commentors, Paul) charged;

“. . .it should be obvious to anyone who reads the Gospels that Jesus had precisely nothing to say about homosexuality.  Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a word.”

“There are four references in the New Testament which could be regarded as relating to homosexuality. These were all made by Paul, the guy who took control of the nascent church after Christ’s death (and alleged resurrection) and in my mind, royally screwed up the humanist message Jesus was trying to deliver.”

“Each of these references is no more than a throw-away remark put in as a sideline to a different point he was making. None of them are decisive condemnations”

Alright, let’s get down to it.

Was Jesus A Humanist?

In order for Jesus to be accurately described as a humanist, or as giving us a humanist message, He would have to have been solely concerned with the improvement of mankind.  Think of humanism as a moral system that is “for the greater good of humanity”.  Unfortunately, anyone who wants to read a humanist message into the words of Jesus Christ must focus on certain passages, ignore others and take certain passages literally without reason, and others figuratively without reason. 

For instance, Jesus claimed “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  Notice that He said, “the” Way, not “a” Way.  Jesus is literally claiming to be the only way to salvation and no one will obtain reconciliation with the Father except through Him.  In order for the humanist to explain this passage away, they must either ignore it or attempt to allegorize it away.  Unfortunately, the context supports no allegory, analogy, or metaphor. 

In another instance where Jesus was teaching his disciples, he was speaking about how they should act, and what attitude they should have toward each other.  He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  Here, Jesus is saying that God is able to send people to hell and that we should fear God because of this power.  Fearing God?  God sending humans to hell?  That’s not very humanist at all!

I could go on and on, for pages, about how many of the teachings of Jesus are opposite of that of humanism.  Frankly, in order for someone to claim that Jesus had a humanist message, they must be willfully ignorant of about half of the Gospel accounts.

The Authority of the Apostle Paul

The second claim of Matt and those like him, is that the Apostle Paul twisted the teachings of Jesus for motives that did not reflect the Jesus he was pretending to be following.  The inconsistency of such a position is that Matt must affirm that Paul actually wrote that which is credited to him yet what others claimed of Paul and the surrounding historical events that actually give Paul his authority.

Paul was not always named Paul.  He was Saul of Tarsus, and he was a Jewish leader that was a self-described “zealot for the Law”.  He was literally killing Christians, and being given more authority and power of the persecution campaign.  He was on his way to Damascus to round up more Christians, when Jesus appeared to him and asked him “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” and blinded Paul.  Needless to say, Paul realized his error and believe in Jesus as the Christ.  Then, a man named Ananias, who knew who Saul was, was told to go to Paul and minister to him.  Once Ananias touched Paul, scales fell from his eyes and he was able to see (Acts 9).

The fact that Paul saw the risen Christ, and this fact was confirmed by those who saw scales fall from his eyes, or his obvious change of heart since he went from killing Christians to preaching Christianity unto his death, is what gives him his authority.  Peter also acknowledges Pauls writings as equal to any other Scripture (2 Peter 3:14-16).

Even if you are hypothetically taking the Bible as a narrative, you can’t subscribe to one part and dismiss another without reason.  Especially when the historical events surrounding Paul’s conversion are what gives his writings the authority the other Apostles deemed him to have. 

The Classification of Homosexuality

Scripture is clear on where homosexuality lies, it’s considered in the category of “sexual immorality”.  Also under this umbrella are the words adultery, fornication, and rape.  Just like under the category of “stealing” is are the words theivery, cheating, pirating, tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement.  Wether you agree or not isn’t the point, the point is this is how the Bible classifies it. 

Alright, finally we’re at the moment we’ve all been reading for.

What Does Jesus Say About Homosexuality?

Jesus is less concerned with what you actually do and more concerned with what is in your heart.  He understood that what you do first must come from your mind.  “He went on: ‘What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly‘ “ (Mark 7:20-22). 

On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about the Ten Commandments, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28). 

Jesus is saying that sexual immorality makes you “unclean”, or as we like to call it, is sinful.  Not only did Jesus uphold the Law of the Old Testament, namely the Ten Commandments, He took it a step further.  Not only did Jesus consider adultery sinful, he considered thinking about committing adultery sinful. 

What shall we say then?  Can we say that if Jesus considers looking at woman lustfully as sinful then He can also consider the act of sex with someone of the same gender as non-sinful?  That just violates all logic.  Sure, you could respond with, “But Jesus never specifically talks about homosexuality, therefore He doesn’t consider it wrong.”  Along that same logic, you must admit that Jesus doesn’t consider child pornography, child molestation, and rape wrong as well.  After all, Jesus never speaks about them.

But we don’t do that, do we?  We understand that rape falls under the category of sexual immorality and violence.  Why, then, do we not treat homosexuality this same way? 

 

Arguing that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality therefore He didn’t consider it immoral is like arguing that since Jesus never said it anything about tax evasion, therefore it isn’t stealing.

The Apostle Paul on Homosexuality

 Now, we’ve already showed that Jesus’ message was not humanist, that Jesus’ was more strict on sexual immorality than the Old Testament Law, and we’ve already shown that Paul had the full authority, as an Apostle, to be considered a writer of Scripture.  So now the question becomes wether or not Paul’s statements on sexual immorality and/or homosexuality were “decisive condemnations”.  Let’s look at a few: 

(1 Cor 6:9-10)  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

(1 Cor 6:18)  Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

(Romans 13:13)  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

(Galations 5:18-20) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.

These passages seem so decisive that I don’t need to make an argument in their defense.  Case closed.

So, Matt, your claims that Jesus Christ had a humanist message, that Paul distorted this message, and that Paul never made homosexuality a priority are just plain false.

A Message to the Church

We do not follow the words of Jesus or Paul.  Hopefully, that’s not a surprise to you.   But what may be a surprise to you, is that the world knows it.  One of the commentors in Matt’s blog has his eyes wide open to the actions of the church.  Regarding homosexuality, Rob says:

“Paul mentions it, but again mentions it in passages that do not necessarily reflect how Christians live their life.”

How right he is!  If Christians are seen lusting after every woman that walks by, and yet we use those same words that Jesus spoke to justify our opposition to homosexuality, we are hypocrites indeed! 

Rob also says, “If you believe in Jesus, then it seems a great disrespect to bend his words and his book to fit your own personal beliefs.”

 Alright, Church, I want you to notice something about the words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  In the same breath with sexuality immorality/homosexuality, Jesus and Paul mention greed, drunkeness, slander, debauchery, dissension, jealousy, hatred, discord, selfish ambition, fits of rage and factions.  Do we, as a Church, put these sins on the same playing field as homosexuality?  Or is it that we loft homosexuality on such a high pedestal of “bad” and “weird” that almost nothing else touches it?  Every one of us knows that we do the latter.  The more we treat homosexuality as a “greater” sin than those, the more we do exactly as Rob said we do and disrespect the words of Jesus and Paul to fit our own personal beliefs.

When we chide society for accepting homosexuality as a mere “alternative” lifestyle, yet say nothing to our brother about his hatred of his ex-wife, or think nothing of the dessension we sow in our own family, the deeper we fall into the oblivion of our own prejudices.

Biblical Inerrancy, What Does is Really Mean?

January 12, 2009

I’m finding that Biblical skeptics have almost a complete misconception of what the Bible claims for itself.  This misconception is unspoken, but it is blatant.  What does the Bible being the “Word of God” mean?  Well, it means many things, but I’ll stick to one right now, accuracy.  The theological term for this idea is “Biblical inerrancy”.  Let’s first start with what Biblical inerrancy doesn’t mean.

Note:  For all you Biblical scholars out there, I know there is a debate between the terms “inerrancy” and “infallibility”.  Maybe someday I’ll post about the difference and explain why I’m on the side of inerrancy, but that day is not today.

Biblical Inerrancy Doesn’t Mean . . .

The Bible doesn’t have to be easy to understand.  The misconception is that if something is difficult for us to wrap our understanding around, then it must not be God’s Word.  While, in fact, the opposite is probably true.  If everything in the Bible was “easy” to understand then it wouldn’t really be about God would it?  So, when a critic comes across something difficult and shouts, “See, I don’t understand this therefore the Bible is wrong!”, we can either mock them for their assumption that God is bound by their understanding or educate them about how the Bible never claims to be easily understood.  Either one works just fine.

Not everything in the Biblical text has to “flow” or sound “harmonious” to our ears.  Biblical critics are quick to point out that the Bible was written in a different language yet forget this point when they expect the prose of a 1st century Greek  writer (in the case of the New Testament) to sound “good” to 21st century English ears.  Let me put it another way:  Our standards of recording events, or explaning concepts, doesn’t hold the Biblical writers in contempt.  Now, I’m obviously not a Greek scholar, so I can’t go into great detail about the writing standards of the 1st century, but the irrationality of crying foul on men who existed two thousand years ago just because their writings “sound weird” to us is obvious.  This leads me to my next point.

 . . . That the Bible Needs to Tell You Everything

For instance, if I assume that the Bible must “tell me everything” in order to be considered the Word of God and the goal of a Biblical author is to “tell you what happened”, then that means that the author should tell us everything that happened.  For instance, if I witnessed a speech and the speaker said, “I am from southern Spain” and “I am half Portugese and half Spanish”, I must tell you that he said both.

However, isn’t it perfectly acceptable to “tell you what happened” without implying that I’m telling you everything?  Without a disclaimer, can’t I just tell you that the speaker said “I am from southern Spain”, without telling you I’m leaving something out?  My goal of “telling you what happened” has been fulfilled, because I have never implied that I would be telling you everything.  This becomes especially true if I have a certain goal for what I’m writing, and if I have a particular audience in mind.  The particular event may have an aspect that speaks to my audience or accomplish’s my unstated goal, and the rest of the details are irrelevant to me. 

For instance, if I’m writing to a group of cultural scholars, I may just tell you the speaker said, “I am from southern Spain” and leave out the other statement because it is irrelevant to my audience.  Then, if I write to a group of racial scholars, I would only tell them that the speaker said, “I am half Portugese and half Spanish”, his geographic origin would be irrelevant to them. 

Let’s Apply This to Biblical Difficulties

For instance, regarding the death of Judas, Matthew (in 27:5) says, “. . . and he went away and hanged himself” while Luke (in Acts 1) says, ” . . .and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.”  To 21st century English ears, our objection quickly becomes, “Hey!  You can’t have it both ways!”. 

However, we can easily attribute the differences in the record between Matthew and Luke to differences in purpose and audience.  Let’s say for a second that Judas hung himself, and then some time after, the branch or the rope broke and he fell into the field as Luke said he did, all his intestines spilling out.  This is certainly a plausible scenario.  So Matthew told you what happened and Luke told you what happened.  Neither of them claimed to tell you “everything”, in fact, neither of them claimed to be reporting Judas’ cause of death.

This becomes more likely as we consider that Luke was physician and would be more concerned with such medical details as what happened to Judas’ intestines.  Such details would be irrelevant to Matthew, as his focus was a Jewish audience; he told you that Judas hung himself, why say any more?  Also, Luke makes a point in naming the field that Judas fell into, calling it the field of blood, telling us that the field was bought with the money paid to Judas for betraying Jesus.  Luke is obviously attempting to point out the irony of such a fact, and give us a moral application for such irony.

Furthermore, obtaining and making copies of certain books was a very expensive process.  Everything had to be hand written so the scribe had to be paid for his skill and his labor, the papyrus was very expensive and hard to come by, and the transcribing would take a very long time, perhaps months.  These logistical facts would force the authors of the Bible into restricting their writings to what was absolutely necessary for their audiences to know.  And what early church group would put up the monetary sum to obtain a book that had a lot of erroneous information in it?

In conclusion:  Two people telling two different events that happened to the same person for two different purposes, restricting their accounts to what was absolutely necessary to tell, is no threat to Biblical inerrancy.  Especially since the two statements don’t violate the Law of Non-Contradiction. 

What Biblical Inerrancy IS.

Biblical inerrancy means that the Bible is completely true.  Every historical event it talks about happened, even if it doesn’t tell everything about the event, every moral law and theological truth it gives us is absolute, even if we can’t fully understand all of them, and every scientific fact is true, even if it doesn’t use 21st century scientific jargon.

The Problem of Evil, I Want In Too!

January 7, 2009

I haven’t been keeping up much on my “blog surfer” tab as of late.  However, I had some free time tonight, and I wondered what was going on with those who I had neglected as of late.  I found that there is a very interesting conversation going on between Brooks, Sirius, Eric Burns and Cubik’s Rube.  I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with Cubik on several occasions and he has always formed an intellectual argument, even if it wasn’t always rational.  I won’t attempt to recreate the conversation in any fashion here for two reasons: 1) it would take up too much space and 2) it’s irrelevant to the point I want to make and the question I want to ask.

It will suffice to say that the conversation has entered into the realm of the problem of evil, one of the most legitimate arguments any thinker can take upon themselves.  As it stands, Eric Burns, and an astute commentor on his blog named “Pilgrim”, have pointed out that . . .

1.  “Evil” is not a commodity in itself that was created by God, rather it is the absence of good.

2.  Taking away evil would also require God to take away all Free Will. 

These are both excellent points in and of themselves, and I can’t wait to hear what Cubik has to say in response.

My Point

I want to bring to light the statement/belief that is simmering beneath the surface of Cubik’s belief system, especially his stance on evil.  Cubik’s premise that, “If there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God then there would be no evil”, is ignoring what his true argument is.  We can’t let him get away with it.  Can’t you hear it underneath the surface?  What Cubik is really (and arrogantly I might add) saying is, “God wouldn’t do it this way”.  Cubik’s theological belief is that God wouldn’t do it the way Cubik thinks Cubik would have done it.  Is this really an argument based in logical deduction?

My Question

In order to abolish all evil on Earth, God must force all human beings to act all good all the time.  Here it is:

If God created you a moral zombie, who had no choice but to obey Him at all times, wouldn’t you be more angry at Him for this? 

If true, then either way you will be angry with God.  Either for allowing evil to exist or for forcing evil to not exist.  The truth, then, becomes that you prefer to live your life as if God doesn’t exist, or at least is incompetent.  This preference overrides any intellectual reasons for denying His existence, or competence.  Instead, your intellect get’s put into overdrive with the task of justifying your preference.