Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Everyday Apologetics: "Why Beleive in Christianity"

Philippians 1:7: "...and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel..."

1 Peter 3:15: "...and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."
Christian Apologetics = apologia (Greek): To offer a reason, defense of the Christian faith.
  • It helps a believer better understand and share his faith with others.
  • It removes intellectual barriers and helps non-believers know why to choose Christianity over religions and Atheism.
Christians tend to compartmentalize their lives into separate areas: home and family, work, school, recreation, friends. American Christians add the compartment of "church", but many fail to see the connection between what they say and do at church and the other compartments of life. These type of Christians have not yet grown into a biblical mind-set in which the Lord is at the center of everyday life, so that every compartment revolves around Him.

Everybody longs for dignity and legacy. Atheism can't answer for this. Atheism has no ground for objective morality or human dignity.

Christianity is not based on what Jesus taught but on who Jesus is. If Jesus is truly dead, then Christianity collapses.

Christianity is based on the person of Christ. It can be reasonable even with the Bible closed.
The problem of unbelief is not an intellectual matter but moral choice.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lesson 5 – Science: What is True?

Introduction – What is true?
In this, the fifth worldview tour, we are invited to enter the cavern of nature, gaze upon the jewels of creation, and establish yet another important pillar in the Temple of Truth: Science.

Video: Did you ever wonder... about everything?

A. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)
We’re going to look inside the box and see 2 things:
1- The glory of God:
For when we open the box, we find that it is filled with voices that speak to us loudly about the majesty and power of the One who has created the physical universe.

2- The work of his hands:
Everywhere we look – whether up at the grandeur of the stars and galaxies or deep into the tiny and elegantly designed inner workings of a living cell – there is evidence that the cosmos is the handiwork of an intelligent, rational mind.

In the contemplation of nature, we come face to face with the truth that God exists and that He has revealed Himself to us, not only through His written Word (special revelation) but also through the works of His hands (general revelation).

How many stars are there?

- Hipparchus, the Greek astronomer, in 128 B.C. stated there were 1,026 stars in the sky.
- Kepler in 1600 A.D. did his own count and found the number to be 1,005.
- Today, thanks to the Hubble Telescope among other methods, the actual number is put at 70 sextillion (70 x 1021).

B. The Creator’s “invisible attributes are plainly seen” (Romans 1:20)

  • Is God’s handiwork so difficult to see? Is it obscure?
  • God has made it plain to us!
  • We must go out of our way to deny this and ignore it.
  • Mankind has nevertheless chosen to ignore the obvious truth, twisting scientific investigation into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy of human independence and self-determination.
  • The fool says in his heart: There is no God.
  • Our natural reaction to this experience should be like that of a child: wonder, marvel, and praise for the Creator.
  • But because of the effects of the fall and the polarizing influence of the Cosmic Battle, man shows a tendency to deny what is plain to the senses and to “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).

C. Scientific Investigation
“The systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” – It is also a valid way of ascertaining truth.

D. The great cosmos question: Where did the cosmos come from?
Only two possibilities: the cosmos has always existed or the cosmos had a beginning – either one posses a serious problem for those who deny a Creator.

The problem with the claim that the cosmos had a beginning:

  • How can we start with nothing, and then have everything? It’s like magic!
  • Philosophical question à why is there something rather than nothing?
  • Einstein was irritated with the concept that the universe started from nothing – that is why he proposed the cosmological constant, which is a modification to his theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe. He abandoned the concept after observations by
Edwin Hubble indicated that the universe appears to be expanding.
  • It takes faith to believe that the cosmos began with nothing.

  • The problem with the claim that the cosmos has always existed:

    • The idea is that matter has always existed in the form of either matter or energy; and all that has happened is that matter has been changed from form to form, but it has always been.
    • The Humanist Manifesto says, "Matter is “self-existing” and not created," and that is a concise statement of the atheist's belief.
    • 1st problem: We live in an expanding universe that gets bigger and bigger and bigger with every passing day. Now, if we were to make time run backwards, we would arrive at a point, at a beginning. At what scientists call a singularity!
    • 2nd problem: Energy is always breaking down in the cosmos (hydrogen is being consumed). If this process has been going on forever, we would have run out of hydrogen. All the energy should be used-up by now.
    • 3rd problem: The second law of thermodynamics states that in any closed system, things tend to become disordered, which is the universal law of increasing entropy. Getting old is simple conformity to the second law of thermodynamics. In space, things also get old. Astronomers refer to the aging process as heat death.

    E. Metaphysical questions:

    • Does God exist?
    • Why are we here?
    • Is the universe eternal or not eternal?
    • Are the body and the “self" the same?
    • After death, do we continue to exist or not exist?
    • What Attracts Us To Beauty
    • Why is there music? Can you think of that evolving?

    F. Design vs. Randomness
    Science is a methodology for discovering and classifying

    knowledge. The scope of science encompasses all measurable phenomena. Science falls under two scopes: natural science, dealing with the physical, natural world, and social science, dealing with society and human nature.

    • Science and philosophy are very closely linked.
    • Philosophy is trying to develop truth claims about the upper level ideas
    • Science is trying to develop truth claims about the particulars

    Dr. Steven Meyer >> The idea of design
    Study nature >> created by a rational intellect

    Randomness >> There’s nothing intelligent

    Unlocking the mysteries of life – Scrabble Illustration

    Where does the organized information come from? Is it just a matter of time and chance??!!

    Earliest scientists were convinced that the universe bore evidence of design
    Scrabble Example – Where does the organized information in the genetic code come from?
    Wald- “Time is the hero of the plot …the impossible becomes possible.”

    7 men that ruled the world from the grave:

    Charles Darwin: Devolution into Depravity >> He popularized the theory of evolution, and revolutionized modern science. Instead of staying in science, the theory of evolution is now thought to apply to society at large. "Social Darwinism" is a foundational belief of our culture. This concept says that the social structure is engineered and controlled by impersonal forces, natural selection, and the survival of the fittest, rather than by a personal God. Society has become secularized, and God is resented and opposed at every opportunity. The fact is Darwinism is not true, not in science, and not in society. Man is digressing instead of progressing, just has God said he would, II Timothy 3:13. A prime example is our criminal "justice" system. Our "primitive" hang-em-high 19th Century system of justice did a much better job in eliminating the criminal threat to society, than today’s "humane" system. Instead of evolving into a higher life form, mankind is devolving into the depths of depravity.

    Karl Marx: But Socialism is Alive and Well >> Godless atheism produced in the wake of Communist revolutions in Russia and China has not been overthrown. Socialism and the welfare state is alive and well in Europe, North America and Australia and New Zealand. Marxism continues to have a profound influence on western intellectuals, who reject the Judeo-Christian morality in favor of atheism.
    Communists are materialists, i.e., they believe that all is material, and deny the existence of immeasurable things such as love, honor, courage and fidelity. 60,000,000 people have died at the hands of blood-thirsty Communists. Communist dictators live like kings all the while claiming to be promoting a "classless society".

    Julius Wellhausen: Higher Criticism, Religious Liberalism >> a German rationalist, Old Testament scholar, and theologian, declared that human reason was totally dependable and the Bible could not be seriously trusted. Rather than divine inspiration, the Old Testament was said to be a product of evolutionary thinking of several individuals (referred to as the Elohim, Jehovah, Priestly and Deuteronomy, or EJPD, sources). He became a leader in a religious school of thought called "Higher Criticism”.

    Sigmund Freud: Looking for the Truth Within >> The basis for Freudian thinking is the idea that the driving force behind all human action is the sexual instinct or urge. There exists a force, or libido, within mankind that, properly analyzed and controlled, will lead him to greater social progress. Freud opened the door for the New Age Movement, which insists that man can discover and control his own "life force" and obtain a utopia.

    John Dewey and Humanistic Education >> He developed our liberal education system where there is no foundational truth. Nothing is settled, final and sure, but only subject to further research. Nothing is constant, given, or finally true, but rather all is pragmatic, adaptable, and subject to reinterpretation deemed appropriate to the time. Truth, he believed, was only found in experience. Rather than instilling morals in students, teachers were led to teach by experiment, to mold students to be servants of the state.

    John Maynard Keynes: The Government is God >> He had a profound influence on the development of our government economic system. In the wake of the devastating global depression of 1929 through the 1930’s he thought that it was the responsibility of government to create full employment, even if it had to borrow money and assume mounting debt to do so. Rather than get rid of the sins which cause economic depression, vanity, jealously, lust and greed, he promoted the idea that government had all the answers.

    G. Examining Darwin’s Theory

    • Hypothesis, theory, law – data must confirm investigation of truth claims
    • Hypothesis: Very early assumption made on the basis of limited evidence and basic data used as a starting point for further investigation.
    • Theory: Much more sophisticated than a Hypo. Idea or belief about something formed by speculation, conjecture, or deduction from certain facts within certain parameters. It is one that allows us to make predictions about future occurrences or observations of the same kind and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation.
    • Declaration of a Law: A statement of scientific fact that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon is invariable under given circumstances (Laws of science are considered universal and invariable facts of the physical world.)
    • Darwinian Evolution taught as “Fact” – Does his theory match reality?
      Paley’s Argument – Anyone who looks at a pocket watch understands that is was designed with intelligent purpose
    • Ignoring the obvious – Francis Crick: You’ve got to keep in mind that all of this was not designed

    H. Hollow & deceptive philosophy:

    Carl Sagan’s Assumptions:

    • Our future depends on how we understand this cosmos
    • We’re going to follow the truth wherever it leads (dishonest statement – if it leads to a creator, we will ignore it).
    • We need imagination and skepticism
    • We will not be afraid to speculate.

    I. Contemporary Molecular Biology
    Testing Darwin’s statement that his theory would absolutely break down if it could be demonstrated that a complex organism could not come into existence without numerous, successive slight modifications.

    • In the 19th century, the cell was viewed as a simple glob of plasma, a black box; today, micro technology reveals a cell filled with exquisite machinery
    • Irreducible complexity – The cell cannot exist if one component of the machinery is missing – Examples: mouse trap and the flagellum motor

    The flagellum motor research: 40 unique structural parts – it can be compared to the construction of a house built from the inside out.

    • It is in the realm of molecular genetics where we see the most compelling evidence of design on earth – evolution fails Darwin’s test.
    • Today we have the technology to look at the inner cell machinery.
    • But Man doesn’t always accede to the reality of this evidence.

    J. The fossil record:

    • The fossil record – testing Darwin’s statement that if one can’t find all of the fine, graduated evolutionary steps in the fossil record, then one can rightly reject the theory
    • If speciation requires many thousands of morphological changes, there should be some fossil evidence of those changes – Darwin agreed they weren’t there, but only because we hadn’t dug up enough fossils
    • 120 years after Darwin’s time we have a lot more fossil evidence than he did, but we have even less support for his evolutionary theories
    • Theory of punctuated equilibrium – offered by evolutionist Gould because of the lack of evidence in the fossil record; purports immediate speciation to account for the missing links
      Icons of Evolution – used for years as “proof” of evolution – all are inaccurate and outdated
    • Theory of directed panspermia – purports that the first living cell was sent to earth from another planet – offered by Crick because evidence was overwhelmingly against spontaneous generation – now the problem is somewhere else? – this is now resorting to blind faith.
    • Evolution again fails Darwin’s own test

    K. Fearfully and wonderfully made

    Video: "Did You Ever Wonder about blood clots"
    Blood clot – the clotting of the blood.
    An amazing system >> is it a part of evolution?
    How long will we last without blood clotting?

    Testing Carl Sagan’s Statement – “Evolution is a fact amply demonstrated by the fossil record and contemporary molecular biology.”

    Contemporary Molecular Biology – testing Darwin’s statement that his theory would absolutely break down if it could be demonstrated that a complex organism could not come into existence without numerous, successive slight modifications (slow gradual process)

    Dr. Meyer’s Response – Post 1953 discovery of DNA, cells cannot be looked at in the same way.

    In the 19th century, the cell was viewed as a simple glob of plasma, a black box; today, micro technology reveals a cell filled with exquisite machinery.

    Molecular machines contain matter and energy.
    There’s a 3rd factor >> INFORMATION!!! (For processing)

    Today we have the technology to look at the inner cell machinery.
    Dr. Kenyan’s statement on the Molecular structure:
    Finely tuned apparatus (devise)
    Genetic information processing
    The result of an intelligent designer

    L. Man doesn’t always accede to reality

    Francis Crick – Evolutionist: Amazing complexity at the fundamental level of life

    Directed Panspermia – Theory >> The problem is now somewhere else.

    Blind Faith – George Wald – The origin of life
    Spontaneous generation hypothesis >> it’s broken down

    Michael Behe >> Darwin’s Black Box
    Irreducible complexity – mouse trap

    Flagellum motor Research:

    • 40 structural parts
    • unique parts
    • Compared to the construction of a House from the inside out

    Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe

    M. The Fossil Record >> Book: Of Pandas and People

    • The variety must be enormous
    • We got a problem in the fossil record
    • The amount of changes are so much greater
    • Fundamental Pantheology
    • Questions and issues

    If going from one species to another, it requires many variations of varieties.

    Book: Icons of Evolution

    Collin Patterson >> no water tight argument

    Archaeopteryx >> missing link or fully formed species of its own?
    David Raup >> we have more fossils now but no transitional forms.

    Gould’s Response (Graduated Equilibrium) >> Theory supported by the lack of evidence in the fossil record

    Jonathan Wells
    Darwin’s finches (Nutty Journalism)
    Jonathon Wyler >> The power of Darwinian process.
    Can the beak size be extrapolated?
    Changes oscillate back and forth.

    S. Huvtrap
    This is just a scientific truth claim it’s also a philosophical truth claim.

    The consequences of rejecting it forces them to face the reality of a creator.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Lesson 4 – Theology: Who is God?

    Eternal life, according to Jesus, is knowing God in an intimate, personal, and relational way. Such knowledge, which is possible only because of divine revelation, transforms us from the inside out as we begin to see ourselves in the light of His majesty and holiness.

    A. Theology: The study of God
    Col 2:23 >> God’s nature, character, and attributes are the ultimate source of truth.
    With God, there is no end, no beginning.
    Who can fathom that?
    It’s easier to define infinity.
    He has revealed himself to us.
    We are attempting to answer the question of an infinite being.

    B. What some people say who God is:
    God is ultimate reality
    God is what you make of it
    Our heart is the temple of God
    Confused about God – spirituality
    A place to be happy when you are dead
    Energy – essence where a relationship exists
    Self – I create my own being
    A fantasy concept – depending on whose worldview
    The construct in my mind
    A nice thought to have on a Sunday morning and irrelevant during the rest of the week

    C. The Westminster Confession
    I. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long- suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

    II. God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

    III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

    D. The eclipse of God
    R. C. Sproul asserts that ours is an era in which the knowledge of God has been an eclipsed – not completely destroyed, but obscured and shadowed by lies and misconceptions.

    Given this situation, it is essential that we establish two main points:
    1. That God exists
    2. That the Bible, the vehicle of His self-revelation, is utterly reliable

    E. What is eternal life? (from John 3:16)
    John 4:13-14 >> The water of eternal life
    John 5:24
    John 6:27
    John 6:54
    John 17:1-3 >> Jesus defined eternal life
    An intimate conversation between the Son and the Father.
    That they may know you not just street knowledge or clinical knowledge but a personal communion – real relationship.
    An intimate kind of knowledge, understanding, fellowship – what a privilege!!!

    John 5:39-40 >> He is not diminishing the scriptures. They only point to Jesus. You must go further.

    F. Spurgeon’s Perspective
    “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father."

    G. Paul’s Perspective
    Philippians 3:8-10 >> More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

    H. God’s Perspective
    Hosea 6:6 >> “I’d rather for you to be faithful and to know me than to offer sacrifices.”

    Jeremiah 9:23-24 (New Century Version)
    This is what the Lord says:
    “The wise must not brag about their wisdom. The strong must not brag about their strength.
    The rich must not brag about their money. But if people want to brag, let them brag that they understand and know me. Let them brag that I am the Lord, and that I am kind and fair, and that I do things that are right on earth. This kind of bragging pleases me,” says the Lord

    I. Names Have Meaning
    · Names of God – El Qanna – A jealous God
    · What does it mean for God to be jealous? Isn’t jealousy a bad thing?

    Deuteronomy 4:23-24:
    Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

    Zechariah 8:2:
    This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: “I have a very strong love for Jerusalem. My strong love for her is like a fire burning in me.”

    Exodus 34:14:
    Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

    · God’s very name is jealous.
    · The jealousy of the flesh says “you have something I want and I hate you for it.”
    · The jealousy of El Qanna is a zeal that arises when sin threatens a covenant relationship.
    · El Qanna arose in God to the extent of the sacrifice of His only Son.
    · He is jealous when my sin threatens that relationship.
    · When you wrestle in the cocoon with God, he will give you a new name.
    · Jacob (supplanter) changed to Israel (strives with God) Gen. 32:28
    · Abram (father of height) changed to Abraham (father of a multitude) Gen. 17:5
    · Moses (taken out of the water)
    · Simon (hearing) changed to Peter (rock)
    · Saul (demanded) changed to Paul (little)
    · You shall name the child John (God is gracious) Lk. 1:15
    · You shall name His Jesus (savior)

    Ps. 42:1-2 >> Hungering for God.

    As we know God, we begin to know ourselves.
    That will transform us.

    J. The Attack (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
    Take every thought captive.
    Our pretentions that are against God.

    2 Critical Questions that must be asked regarding his nature and His word:
    1- Is there really a God?
    2- Can His Word (scriptures) be trusted?

    Attacks against His nature: twisting, distorting, denying, ignoring
    Attacks against His Word: accusing, demeaning

    All attempts to by all powers:
    Extinguish >> Empires
    Suppress >> Religion
    Discredit >> Philosophy
    Destroy >> Science
    Dilute >> Academia
    Deny >> Judiciary
    Ignore >> …

    All have failed. The Word of God is still the best seller of all time.

    K. Voltaire 1776 >> claims to destroy the bible (but have failed)
    “100 years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.”
    “It took 12 men to start Christianity; one will destroy it.”
    He died in 1778. One hundred years later, Voltaire’s home was used to store Bibles and distribute them all over Europe.

    L. Robert Ingersoll
    “In 15 years, I will have this book [the Bible] in the morgue. 15 years later, Ingersoll was in the morgue. Later a pastor purchased Ingersoll’s desk and spent his life writing sermons on it.
    1 Pe. 1:24-25

    M. Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918)
    A 19th century German liberal scholar who suggested the Documentary Hypothesis (JEPD), which theorizes that the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) was not written by Moses but evolved over time and was compiled from at least four sources written by various authors. Numerous scholars have refuted the theory.
    Known as the father of “Higher Criticism”
    Documentary hypothesis: “JEDP”
    A proponent of liberal theology

    N. The Jesus Seminar
    The Jesus Seminar Started in 1985 in Berkley, California, by Robert Funk and thirty-five other liberal New Testament scholars. The Seminar,–which now includes about 100 members–meets twice a year to debate technical papers. At the close of debate on each agenda item, members vote using colored beads to indicate the degree of authenticity of Jesus’ words or deeds.

    The Colored Beads
    - red: Jesus undoubtedly said this or something very much like it (That’s Jesus!)
    - pink: Jesus probably said this (Sure sounds like Jesus)
    - grey: Jesus did not say this, but the ideas contained in it are close to His own (Well, maybe)
    - black: Jesus did not say this; it represents the perspective or content of a later or different tradition (There’s been some mistake)
    They voted and the book of The 5 Gospels resulted from it.
    Ez. 22:26-28

    They claim that 82% of words of Jesus were not spoken by him.

    Are we going to be drawn to a web of deceit?

    O. Dr. Del Tackett’s Personal Crisis
    Is there contradiction in Scripture?
    2 Kings 8:16 >> Jehoram
    2 Kings 1:17 >> Joram
    2 kings 3:1

    How true is the bible?
    Edwin Thiele: “The mysterious dates of the Hebrew Kings.”

    P. Why so Fierce?
    Heb. 4:12 – 13

    We must give an account.

    Don’t be surprised when the world around us tries to rip from us the very Word of God. Even we, sometimes in our sinful nature, don’t want to listen to God’s Word. It stands in the way of self-actualization >> the pursuit of our desires and wants.