Dr. Henebury on Livestream – 25 October 7pm (CST)

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In less than an hour, I will be lecturing for The Bible & Beer Consortium in Fort Worth, and the event will be Livestreamed. The topic of my lecture is:  The Biblical Worldview Against All Others. Here’s how you can join in:

1. create a free Livestream login ID
2. sign in and subscribe to “The Bible & Beer Consortium” channel
3. play the event when it begins, or jump in at any time

Since I’m teetotal, I’ve been getting a lot of queries about what the Bible & Beer Consortium is!  Here’s a great little video introducing the ministry and starring its founder, and my good friend, Ezra Boggs.  Enjoy, and I hope to see you tonight.

Apologetics and Your Kids (Pt.10) – Another Slogan

Part Nine

In the last installment of this series we were looking at a motto which is often misused by the Christian community, and which could mislead young people if not carefully explained.  That motto was “All truth is God’s truth.”  This time round I want to take a look at another slogan; a slogan which should not be adopted by Bible believers, even though some prominent and respected authorities use it.  The phrase I have in mind is this: “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go.”

On the face of it, this legend might seem non-objectionable.  We are all aware of the fact that the Bible is not, nor does it ever claim to be, a textbook on Science.  It doesn’t inform us about botany or biology or chemistry or physics: science does, so what’s the problem?

To put it simply, the trouble is that it says far too much about the competence of science, and far too little about the scope and authority of Scripture.  It is quite subtle, yet the problem is acute.  As it sits, saying “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven” is like saying “Jesus teaches us how to be nice.”  A Gospel tract can tell you how to get to heaven!  But the Bible is the Word of God.  It is the only “word” from the outside.  That is to say, it is the only word which is not fashioned by the finite and fallen ingenuity of man.  As such the Bible is the final court of appeal on God-made reality.  To confine it within the bounds of a rather thoughtless jingle is to treat it with dishonor.

Yet that is just one part of the problem.  The catchphrase goes on to assert that “science tells us how the heavens go.”  To this we may reply, “Only if that science agrees with the Bible!”  To create an artificial divide between the Bible and science like this is disastrous.  In point of fact, the Word of God tells us how the heavens go (to the extent that they speak of the heavens), and we would be well advised to accept no “scientific” statement which contradicts the Bible’s teaching on this or any bother subject.  If “science” tells us we evolved from cosmic dust, or we came from apes, or that there is no God (or no way to know there is a God), and a thousand other pronouncements besides, then “science” isn’t true knowledge (which is the meaning of the Latin term scientia).  In fact, it isn’t even science.  It is “science (or “knowledge”) falsely so-called” (1 Tim. 6:20).

Do the problems end there?  I wish they did, but there is more to say, because this way of putting things leads to thinking that the Bible only touches upon the thin aspects of living which we call “spiritual”; all the rest of reality is then thought to be open to independent reasoning virtually unrelated to the pronouncements of Scripture.  Once this thought enters the Christian’s mind it acts like a cancer, and very soon what we proudly call “the Christian worldview” becomes a small timid thing, with little relevance for most of the “non-spiritual” spheres of life.  It is not surprising that our youth are leaving the faith in droves if they are being fed such a paltry diet of the biblical viewpoint.

So why do some respected Christian leaders (like Norman Geisler and Bruce Waltke) make use of this slogan?  There is a clear reason, and it highlights the problem of what I might call “intellectual schizophrenia.”  This problem comes about when a person does not have both eyes and ears on the text of Scripture, but has one ear open to another authority – usually if not always the pronouncements of modern science.  Of course, these leaders do not sense any competition between these two authorities. But that is because they have accepted the forced interpretations of the Bible in order to include statements from scientists which would otherwise contradict the clear statements of the Word of God. When defending their embrace of “scientific” opinions seemingly at variance with the Bible these writers are often led into affirming positions which neither the Bible nor secular science agree with.  This is what we will look at next time.

‘The Making of an Atheist’ – A Short Review

Review of James S. Spiegel, The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010, 141 pages 

James Spiegel’s books are usually worth a gander because he writes about important but often neglected subjects.  Witness his books on Hypocrisy and Providence.  This book makes a helpful contribution to the usual run of apologetics resources by looking at some intriguing facts surrounding how atheists are made.

Some atheists, of course, make the claim that atheism is the neutral baseline position of humanity; all evidence to the contrary.  But most atheists would, I think, agree that they came to a non-belief in God through one way or another.

This small work is about the undercurrents which turn people into atheists.  In the main, these have to do with morality.  After quoting from several atheists, Spiegel observes,

These comments by Nagel, as well as those …by Harris and Dawkins, reveal strong emotions.  Could it be that their opposition to religious faith has more to do with the will than with reason?…That is precisely the aim of this book.  Atheism is not at all a consequence of intellectual doubts.  Such doubts are mere symptoms of the root cause – moral rebellion.  For the atheist, the missing ingredient is not evidence but obedience. (11. Author’s italics )

That is a strong claim.  But it has been made before.  Cornelius Van Til’s works are filled with this theme of moral antagonism to God.  As he once stated it; man’s unbelief is informed by his ethical hostility toward God.  This is certainly a biblical position.  Psalm 14:1 locates the rejection of the concept of God in the corruption of men.  Romans 1 does the same thing.  Motivations to anti-theism are just that, motivations.

Turning from the Introduction to the first chapter, Spiegel turns his attention to the problem of evil.  He admits that this issue “does pack some punch”, but “it could never count as grounds for atheism” (26). The logic of atheistic naturalism does not empty out into anything but leaky vessels.  Even trying to call upon Occam’s Razor (the principle of adopting the least premises to account for something) to make God a superfluous postulate backfires when it is seen that atheism just doesn’t have the tools needed to explain our experience (28-30).  to make the point clearer the author presents a well-honed scaled down version of Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” (58-59), the gist of which is, “if naturalism is true, then we have no reason to believe it is true.”

In the third chapter the book looks at the causes of atheism.  To start off the examples of actress Jodie Foster and comedian George Carlin are given to show that “desires often drive a person’s beliefs” (63). Spiegel then turns to the work of Paul Vitz to show how absentee fathers is linked with atheism (He might also have referred to John Koster’s telling study, The Atheist Syndrome).  The works of Paul Johnson and E. Michael Jones which have documented the immoral lifestyles of prominent atheists are then surveyed.

Chapter 4 deals with the atheist mindset; how the mind can be trained in non-belief.  Thomas Kuhn’s study of scientific paradigms and Michael Polanyi’s theory of personal (tacit) knowledge support the writer’s thesis that if one is set in a certain way of thinking, “we can expect our most cogent arguments to fall on deaf ears.” (101).  In short, there is “a will to disbelieve.”

In the last chapter the benefits of Christian Theism for mental and even physical well-being are covered. All in all this is a very good and easy read; a good book to put into the hands of high school grads or for adult study groups.  Atheists, of course, will hate it.  But it does not pretend to diagnose every case of unbelief.  what it does do is make a solid case for “How immorality leads to unbelief.”  Recommended.

 

Apologetics and Your Kids (Pt. 9) – Is “All Truth God’s Truth”?

Part Eight

Last time I asked whether the facts speak for themselves.  My answer was that they do not, they are freighted with interpretations, whether right or wrong.  In Part Seven I called attention to the temptation of attaching ourselves to slogans and ideas from the world.  Before proceeding along the lines I started with in the last post, I want first to take two common but deadly slogans which Christians use and look at them, for though they sound alright, they have been the cause of much confusion among Christians.  The phrase I have in mind today is “All Truth is God’s Truth.”

Misusing a Slogan to Place Man’s Authority above God’s Word.

We have come as far as seeing the importance of embracing the Truth, not for our sake primarily, but for its own sake – because it is an attribute of God.  An accurate view of Truth is essential to a correct Christian Worldview, and a correct Christian Worldview is necessary for the defense of Christianity.  Thus, a clear idea of the character of Truth is of the utmost importance for our children to understand, and this motto, “All Truth is God’s Truth” requires careful handling.

For some people – and that number sadly includes some Christian apologists, the slogan could be paraphrased as, “All that the experts call truth is God’s truth.”

In such a scenario it ought to be clear that it is not what God says that is of first importance, but human estimations and perceptions of what is true that matters.  We think it’s true so we lumber God with it.  Then it is easy to pronounce the Big Bang as God’s truth, or Theistic Evolution (which is rearing its ugly head again!), or the most recent “findings” of archaeologists or Semitic experts, whether they believe the Bible or not.  What this approach asserts is that we decide what is true and then piously say that God did it.  This will not do.

A Use of the Slogan Which Gives the Glory to God

So is there another view?  There is.  It interprets “All Truth is God’s Truth” within the strict parameters of the Bible.  A paraphrase of this position would be, “All that really is true according to Scripture comes from the God of Truth.”

This way of looking at it comports well with the authority we are all supposed to be under: the authority of Scripture.  It automatically has no truck with human assessments of truth, which are always changing anyway.  What is true and what is not true is not ours to decide about.  Our opinion, or the opinions of those we esteem and listen to are irrelevant if they cross what God says about it in the Bible.

What I am saying is that if the phrase “All Truth is God’s Truth” is to be of any acceptable use to us it has to bear a meaning which we can take to God as in agreement with His Word.  We must not let our kids leave our homes with the slippery notion that we can decide what is true and then expect the Lord to place His Divine imprimatur on our assessment.

In the next piece I want to examine another oft-used but dangerous saying which I have encountered in Christian literature.  It is the slogan, “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go.”

Part Ten

THE BIBLICAL GOD: THE PRECONDITION OF INTELLIGIBILITY (Repost)

This (re)post is a “stand-alone.” But I think it is rather important in its own way.  I apologize for the formatting.

“When the Christian sets forth his outlook he will stress the kind of God to whom he is committed, the nature of the world in relation to God, and the nature of man as God’s creature. The Christian God is totally self-sufficient, and in Him there is an equal ultimacy of unity and diversity (being Triune). Everything outside of Him derives its existence, character, meaning, and purpose in light of Him and His sovereign counsel.” – Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, 16.

Logic/Reason…..precondition ……. God who is immaterial perfect rationality

Morality…………..precondition ……..God who is righteous

Truth……………….precondition ……..God who is unchanging Truth

Uniformity……….precondition ……..God who upholds regularity (providence)

Order………………..precondition ……..God who imprints His order on creation

Subject-Object….precondition ……..God creates us (body/soul), the world for us

Love………………….precondition ……..God who is Love and demonstrates it

Beauty………………precondition ……..God who is artistic & gives us aesthetic abilities

Language…………..precondition ……..God who speaks

Good………………….precondition ……..God who is perfectly Good

Evil…………………….precondition ……..God who permits declension from Himself

False Beliefs………..precondition ……..God who (for now) allows rebellion

Personality………….precondition ……..God who is Personal

Relationship………..precondition ……..God who is social

One & Many…………precondition ……..God who is both One and Many (Trinitarian)

Science………………..precondition ……..God who gives skills & conditions for analysis

History………………..precondition ……..God who created & guides with a telos in view

Number……………….precondition ……..God who is Triune and infinite

Ecology………………..precondition ……..God who gives us oversight of His creation

Salvation………………precondition ……..God who reconciles humanity in His Son

Worship………………..precondition ……..God who evokes praise in the saints

Hope……………………..precondition ……..God who raises Christ from the dead

Meaning………………..precondition ……..God who made us in His image

I would love to see a non-Christian chart of all this!

Glory to God alone!

50 Key Quotes from the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Here is a very informative link to what the justices of the Supreme Court have said, pro and con, about their 5 to 4 decision to legalize Gay Marriage.

http://erlc.com/article/50-key-quotes-from-the-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-ruling

The kind of “reasoning” employed by Justice Kennedy et al could and will be employed by pedophiles, polymorists, and even those who want to marry their dog.  This is what godless law looks like.

David Bentley Hart’s, ‘The Experience of God’ (Pt.2)

Part One

God is not, in any of the great theistic traditions, merely some rational agent, external to the order of the physical universe, who imposes some kind of design upon an otherwise inert and mindless material order.  He is not some discrete being somewhere out there, floating in the great beyond, who fashions nature in accordance with rational laws upon which he is dependent.

Notice that Hart has in mind the general consensus among theistic religions about God, not just the Christian God.  I’ll comment a little on that below.  Howbeit, the god who temporarily steps in at points in history to fill the void in our understanding of the world (the god of the gaps) is great to throw in the barrel and shoot at, but, then again, such a deity was dead before he/it got into the barrel anyway.  As long as non-theists direct their logic against this immanent god, they miss the mark badly.  As both Thomist and Van Tillian schools would agree, God is the eternally existing Fount of the laws of physics, of thought, and of morality.  To proceed with the quotation:     

Rather, he is himself the logical order of all reality, the ground both of the subjective rationality of mind and the objective rationality of being, the transcendent and indwelling Reason or Wisdom by which mind and matter are both informed and in which they participate. (234-235).

So the term “God” is not used the same way by Theists and non-theists (257).  Many non-theists employ the word ignorantly, investing it with a “meaning” which is foreign from what believers, especially Christians, mean.  At the most banal level this can be seen in Richard Dawkins’s question, “who made God?”  A reductionistic god belongs to a reductionistic world picture, just as much as a vitiated view of consciousness and intentionality results from an outlook which doesn’t care to explain such “directed” mysteries.

The third part of the book is given over to “Bliss”.  The goal-directedness of human consciousness seeks out primordial realities or transcendentals, which lie behind its pursuits.  Hart declares, “What interests me is the simple but crucial insight that our experience of reality does in fact have a transcendental structure.” (243).  Any such structure is teleological and thus at odds with the indeterminism inherent in naturalistic philosophy.  The rationality of mind employs this teleology.

This rational capacity to think and to act in obedience to absolute or transcendental values constitutes a dependency of consciousness upon a dimension of reality found nowhere within the physical order. (245) 

“Bliss” is what consciousness moves toward.  It is the third angle, as it were, of the triad of experience.   Our “transcendental aspirations” (251) point towards absolutes.  Hart picks out two in particular: ethics and beauty.  He spends some time with each. Continue reading “David Bentley Hart’s, ‘The Experience of God’ (Pt.2)”

Apologetics and Your Kids (8) – Do the Facts Speak for Themselves?

Part Seven

Facing The Evidence

I want to move forward a bit now to the subject of evidence.  Probably many of you have heard the old dictum that scientists “follow the evidence wherever it leads.”  Often scientists themselves promote this idea, and others catch on and parrot it themselves.  It sounds very dignified.  Almost pious.  And, as philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi have shown, it is almost totally false.

Several years ago, a well known, oft published physicist called Robert V. Gentry published a book entitled Creation’s Tiny Mystery, which cataloged his research on Polonium 218 Radiohalos.  The book makes fascinating reading, and it has never been gainsaid.  All the same, Gentry’s researched has been shunted to the side by evolutionists because, well, it provides compelling data for the assertion that the earth is young.

Gentry had a Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing, but was a committed evolutionist and believed in an old earth.  He began his research into Polonium Halos to prove an old earth, believing these radiohalos were formed by secondary radioactivity.  But his experiments proved they were not secondary, but were actually formed rapidly in the earth’s crust without any outside interference or cross-contamination.  This showed that the granite rocks in which these halos were found were extremely young.  The research has been caricatured and even lampooned by old-earthers of all persuasions, but never scientifically refuted.  Instead, Dr Gentry has been ostracized by the scientific establishment.

Gentry’s story is nothing new.  The President of Ball State University, which has actively promoted atheism, has banned her professors from even discussing intelligent design with their students.  There’s nothing like free speech!  Ben Stein’s film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, and the Discovery Institute in Seattle document many other cases of suppression of scientists who demur from the party-line.

Meanwhile, more problems surface.  For example, Evolutionists have found soft tissue in a T-Rex skeleton supposedly 65 million years old.  How can soft tissue survive for so long?  Answer..it can’t.  But there it is.  Does this evidence persuade dinosaur experts that dinosaurs lived in recent times?  That would be where the evidence led, right?  But of course not.  No more than ancient drawings of dinosaurs detailing even the patterns on the skin found all over the world influence them.  Worldviews get in the way!

The Facts and the Interpretations Which Are Attached to Them

Think about it.  Finding rapidly decaying (i.e. in 3 minutes) polonium halos in the foundational granite of the earth, which displays no traces of interference from outside sources, is a challenge to the standard models of geological formation.  If Gentry is right these halos were made at the very time when the granite was formed – very very quickly!  Hence, the age of the earth cannot be dated via any of the usual radiometric methods.  It couldn’t be anyway, since these methods give notoriously varied dates.  Moreover, fresh lava flows which have been subjected to radiometric dating produced results dating them as millions of years old!

What one does with this data depends upon the framework of interpretation permitted by the scientist.  So evolutionary scientists ignore data which points away from their theories.  Likewise with the dinosaur tissue, or the lack of fossil evidence for intermediate forms; or the fact that the early development of cells is ‘locked in’ and is not amenable to mutation.  Should a scientist start with the assumption that T-Rex died out 65 million years ago?  If he does, he will be looking at animal soft tissue though lenses which automatically discount recent dating.  The facts are in front of him, but his interpretation of the facts, which is determined by his worldview paradigm, force the evidence into an old age scenario which is never allowed to be questioned.

“Junk” DNA?

For many years biologists have been saying that there has to be a large amount of DNA which is “junk” DNA.  Because they believe in the Neo-Darwinian model of evolution through natural selection and mutation, that system absolutely requires trial and error in cell formation, and hence a lot of useless DNA.  By contrast, for over a decade, intelligent design theorists, using their information and engineering models, have been saying that since engineers design things from the top down, they build in to their designs only those things they need.  This means that if DNA had a Designer, one would not expect to find junk DNA.  The projection of the I.D. proponents has been shown to be right.  There is no “junk” DNA (although this is still being taught in the classroom).

Saying this does not mean we must buy into everything I. D. theorists are saying.  But they deserve a hearing: a hearing they are struggling to get.

The Facts Are Mute

Yes, we’ve all heard the phrase “the facts speak for themselves.”  But I hope you are beginning to see that it is not so.  Evidence “lays around” waiting for an interpretation to be affixed to it.  Sometimes that interpretation is right, and sometimes it is wrong.  In the Christian worldview the interpretation is right if it matches what God the Creator says about His world.  If God says, for example, that there was a worldwide flood, one would expect vestiges of truth to be handed down through many flood stories.  And indeed, there are well over fifty such flood stories from the ancient world, or from people groups whose history goes back to ancient times.  And the geological evidence for a catastrophic deluge is enormous – though unfortunately hidden from most students!  No, the facts do not speak for themselves.  They require interpretation.  But interpretation can be an awkward thing if the interpreter is wearing the wrong lenses.

Next in the series

Apologetics and Your Kids (7) – Touting Absurdity

Part Six

Since the Enlightenment, when unaided human reason was promoted to a place above the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it has been presumed that mankind can, at least in principle, explain himself and his surroundings without recourse to “the God hypothesis.”  Although they couldn’t agree among themselves about how to rely on the human mind, they “knew” at least one thing: God – if He or it existed, would have to pass their examinations and fit within their logical formulations.  The Creator would have to become subject to the creature.  Of course, their examinations were naively inapplicable, and their use of logic off-target.  The god of unbelief is always a straw man.

Unpreparedness Leads to Capitulation

One of the saddest capitulations to this point of view came from Christian scholarship.  Christians themselves swallowed the “dictates of reason” nearly wholesale, and tried to equate faith with this newly emancipated view of reason.  To boil it down, they resorted either to make Christianity “scientific”, or else to accept the separation that had been created.  The theological liberals were prepared to follow the second course (although they also saw no use in believing miracles).  The conservatives who wanted to remain faithful to the Bible and its message of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ, still felt the need to reconcile this faith with the new minted approach to science, and they tried to accommodate their beliefs to it.

The situation became even more pronounced once Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859.  Darwin provided a mechanism – natural selection – which, it was thought, eliminated the need to postulate a god who designed and made things.  From then on many Christians, following their scholars, embraced a theistic form of evolutionism, wherein God was supposed to have used evolution to “create.”  They did this because they thought at least a nominal kind of Christianity was the norm.  Hence, they were unprepared for the great departure from this “Christian” norm when they were confronted with it.  In short, they had not developed a proper biblical world and life view, and so their apologetics did not function within the biblical framework, but an ill-fitting foreign, and suddenly and antagonistic one.

Hooked on the Absurd

“Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.” – Richard Dawkins

Reading such a stridently sure and absolute assertion one might feel like throwing in the towel and embracing the evolution dogma.  The sheer confidence displayed in it almost protrudes through the page.  But before one gives in let it be noted that this same Richard Dawkins is on film telling people that has no idea how life got started and thinks it feasible that aliens started life off on earth (see the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed).  Recall also what was said about his allegiance to the deterministic forces of nature in the last post.  If Dawkins’ worldview is right, none of us can help thinking exactly what we’re thinking – and so all “reasoning” is illusory.

What do we do about this quote from someone who takes Dawkins’ logic and runs with it:

“Evolution teaches that “we are animals” so that “sex across the species barrier ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.” —Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” 2001

That sentence, when one steps back and thinks about it, is so patently absurd, one wonders who would ever believe it.  Singer commends “dignity” and bestiality in the same sentence!  This is the same man who thinks new-born babies have no more value (or “dignity”) than slugs.

Of course, Singer is quite correct IF evolution is true and God does not exist.  Well, not only is evolution more in trouble today as a scientific theory than it has ever been (and it has always been in deep trouble as truth), it is really vacuous for Singer to speak about “status and dignity” at all.  Evolution is the creation-myth of atheism, held in place by interested parties with the power and the money.  It holds sway nowadays as science by judicial decree.  This is irregardless of the fact that it is utterly destructive of everything we used to prize in society: justice, peace, and freedom to do the right.

Just prior to the beginning of the Second World War, the Nazis told the German people that they had to invade Poland to defend themselves against the Polish aggressors.  Propagandists have always known that the bigger the lie, the easier it is for the masses to swallow.  This is because people reason it is so silly it has to be true.  And it is often the intellectuals who buy into the lie first; either for reasons of expediency, or because of misguided ideologies.  (As an aside, those who never leave “school” will tend to be more idealistic than those who have to earn a living in the real world).

Christians to whom God has given children should be aware of where the rhetoric of the world leads.  They should take note of what the Bible says about the world and its lusts, and how the wisdom of this world is so contrary to the true wisdom of God in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:20-24).  They should learn from the mistakes of the past and never yield an inch in their allegiance to the clear sense of God’s Word.  The world’s wisdom always terminates in absurdities like the touting of the irrational determinism of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, or the moral perversity of Peter Singer.  Without God their is no logic, no science, no stable ethics, and no love or justice.  When unbelievers use these it is in spite of their worldviews.  God in Christ must be the Source of these aspects of reality, and if we turn our eyes from Him (and all sinners do), we end up partnering with the world in its creation of the absurd.