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Posts Tagged ‘Revelation’

breath of life 2

Atheists are having a field day with a recent Youtube video-clip from a debate between Eric Hovind (creationist) and Bernie Dehler (secular humanist) at Portland State University. The highlight is a question posed by Bernie’s son, a sixth grader, who asked for Eric to produce evidence for God. “How do you know that God exists” was essentially the question. Eric responded with an appeal to logic suggesting that unless you know everything you cannot be sure of anything. Therefore it is irrational to discount the presence of God. After watching the clip and witnessing the difficulty Eric had making his point, I began to wonder how I would answer the same question.

The answer, I believe, is quite simple though intensely contemplative and personal. The best place to start is a review of the 3 endowments at Creation’s finale – The Image, The Breath, and The Mandate. In these we can begin to appreciate our purpose in and sense the anticipation of the great cosmic symphony.

In the 5 days and several hours preceding man’s entrance, the creative episodes were initiated with impersonal mandates such as “Let there be…Let the waters be gathered…let the dry land appear…Let the waters bring forth…and Let the earth bring forth.”

Then, for the first time, creation gets personal. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Genesis 1:26a).” This endowment signals the Creator’s original intent for man.

John MacArthur expounds on the significance of divine image in his book The Battle for the Beginning.

“Above all, the image of God can be summed up by the word personhood. We are persons. Our lives involve relationships. We are capable of fellowship…We know what it is to share thoughts, convey and discern attitudes, give and take friendship, perceive a sense of brotherhood, communicate ideas, and participate in experiences with others.”

I think Henry Morris gives the best defense of human purpose in his book Many Infallible Truths.

“Communication and fellowship between man and God not only are possible but must actually have been a part of God’s very purpose in creation…since this is the ultimate consummation toward which time is moving, then there can be no doubt that this was God’s primeval purpose when time began. He created men for fellowship with Himself.”

The inevitable result of the obvious compatibility was fellowship.

Another unique endowment was The Mandate from the Creator to fill and subdue (1:28). Sometimes referred to as the Dominion Mandate, this declaration clearly establishes mankind as Creation’s superior.

The Bible presents man as the epicenter of God’s creative power and genius, charged with its mastery. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under His feet (Psalm 8:6).”

This is by no means a license to abuse the earth and its creatures, but rather a sanction for careful responsibility in management.

Henry Morris addresses our sovereign assignment this way in his commentary The Genesis Record.

“The cultural mandate, as some have called it, is clearly a very expressive figure of speech for, first, intense study of the earth (with all of its intricate processes and complex systems) and, the, utilization of this knowledge for the benefit of earth’s inhabitants, both animal and human. Here is the primeval commission to man authorizing both science and technology as man’s most basic enterprises relative to the earth.”

It is the endowment of The Breath, however, that is key to evidential witness of the Divine. In my attempt to rationalize the uniqueness of The Breath, I originally posed that it must have been the particular exercise that made man eternal giving him the ability to navigate concepts beyond his time-space-matter existence (see Scripturosity article “Mankind – Favored Not Fortunate”).

But there was a flaw in that supposition. If death had not yet intruded the Creation (Romans 5:12), then all creatures would have had eternal intent in the beginning. What, then, did the breath of God uniquely signify of man in the “very good” Creation?

Genesis 2:7 chronicles that “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”

There are two Hebrew words in this verse that warrant definitive clarity. The first is nephesh translated “living soul” here. This is the same word used to describe the compatibility of all creatures with earth’s biosphere. It has also been explained as consciousness. By biblical comparison and cross-referencing, it is technically referring to that which bleeds and breathes (see Scripturosity article “Plant-ing Seeds of Doubt”). The other word is neshamah which is translated “breath of life.” While all conscious creatures “brought forth” from the impersonal creative mandates processed oxygen from their environment for functionality, none of them received the neshamah – the breath from God. This was given only to man. One commentator referred to it as the Divine spark.

Could this blast of pure Spirit, while initiating the nephesh or conscious elements of his existence, also been the primordial endowment of man’s conscience – his unique co-knowledge with God?

Proverbs 20:27 articulates that “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”

The young philosopher, Elihu defended his qualification to intervene by telling Job, “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration (neshamah) of the Almighty giveth them understanding (Job 32:8).”

In the context of “the beginning,” John the Apostle wrote, “In Him (God the Son) was life; and the life was the light of men…That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:4,9).”

The great Apostle Paul wrote of a specific human reality that makes all men accountable before the holy Judge of heaven despite excuses of ignorance. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead: so they are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20).”

I propose that it was The Breath of God that enlivened man’s essence with the innate ability, yea necessity, to connect with the Divine. While man has a free will to act in harmony with or resistance to this conscience, God has, nevertheless, given every child of Adam’s race a divine nudge toward Himself. This is why all men are “without excuse (Rom. 1:20).” It is this internal “candle” or spirit-connectedness with the Creator that shines on the natural world and it’s First Cause.

My answer to the skeptic or seeker appealing to sense or reason in the pursuit or denial of God’s presence is that the evidence is within them. Every individual is endowed with a compass that points the way to true North – a candle to dispel the shadows of error.

The best evidence to the atheist that there is a God is the intellectual and emotional energy consumed in snuffing this inherent light. Be honest with yourself in a moment of sincere introspection and retrace your steps toward naturalism. How did you get here? Did you have to deny any premonition of purpose along the way? Did your intellect eventually overcome your conscience at the feet of academia (see Scripturosity article “Conscience and Intellect”)? Are you satisfied that you have not been influenced by agenda-driven zealots (see Scripturosity article “Intellectual Invention”)? Have you ever given yourself the intellectual latitude to observe and consider the evidence from a paradigm that invites the supernatural and aligns with your essence (see Scripturosity article “The Gospel Message”)?

What it boils down to is the direction of one’s faith. Faith is not exclusive to proponents of the supernatural. Faith is requisite to a naturalistic cosmogony as well (see Scripturosity article “Answering Skeptics – Part 5”). The worldview disparity is not in the evidence, but rather in the axiom – the philosophical starting point from which the evidence is observed (see Scripturosity article “Fact and Theory”). Creationists presuppose the history of earth and humanity as chronicled in the book of Genesis; while evolutionists regard every observation through the notion of deep time and the doctrine of geologic uniformity (see Scripturosity article series “Deep Time Warp” – Part 1 & Part 2). These initial assumptions shape the direction of every interpretation. To decry faith is either open ignorance or pure hypocrisy.

Before one can reject a Creator or a redeeming Sovereign, he must first deny the very essence of his own humanity. Does God exist? Perhaps the better question is – Should anyone really have to ask?

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Rather than ignorantly credit observable, geophysical phenomena to “mother nature,” the book of Job makes it very clear that the processes to which the earth is subject have been sovereignly assigned by the universe’s Great Engineer.

“God understandeth the way thereof, and knoweth the place thereof. For He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure. When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea and searched it out. And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding (28:23-28).”

Dr. Henry Morris offers the following in this regard in his book, The Remarkable Record of Job.

“Throughout Job we…find a strong emphasis on the dependability of the laws and constants now controlling God’s completed creation. Unlike other ancient books, Job has no hints of magical acts or any other occult practices. There are not any divine miracles recorded (except for Job’s eventual healing, if that is considered miraculous), although both Job and Elihu mentioned their faith in the future resurrection of the body (Job 19:26; 33:28). This is especially surprising in view of the many miracles recorded in the Mosaic writings of the Pentateuch. Job records one demonic visitation, as well as God’s personal revelation (Job 4:12-21; 38:1-42:8), but throughout the book there is repeated emphasis on the reliability of God’s providential – rather than miraculous – control of his creation.”

While many rationalize their spiritual disillusionment and dullness with the absence of the “spectacular” in their lives, the book of Job underlines God’s presence in the “mundane.”

Why are we so dependent upon the sensational to satisfy our craving for the presence of God?

The early chapters of the book of Job make it clear that the spectacular events that changed Job’s life were discharged by Satan. Was Job privy to the heavenly dialogue and grand experiment that opened the floodgates to his suffering? Of course not.

Despite the ferocity of the extraordinary and the hush from heaven, Job remained convinced of God’s presence and providence. “But He knoweth the way that I take…and performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with Him (23:10,14).”

How could Job say this? From where did he draw his certainty? Though “He (God) holdeth back the face of His throne (26:9),” Job found evidences of God’s engagement all around him. He saw God in the deep, dark magnificence of the night sky (26:7), in the brilliant hydrologic maintenance of the post-Flood world (26:8), in the uncompromised bounds of the post-Flood oceans (reflecting his knowledge of God’s promise to Noah – Gen. 9:11), and in the purposeful placement of and tidings in the stars (26:13 – particularly the “crooked serpent” known today as Draco the Dragon who’s head is interestingly about to be crushed by the club of Hercules).

Job was saying, “Despite heaven’s silence (v.9), nature’s evidences satisfy my search for God’s presence. Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him (26:14)? Yet, it is a portion! I may not understand everything that results under His governance, but these evidences testify of His presence and sustain my faith.”

Of the 6,000 years represented in Scripture, the moments of miraculous intervention can be encapsulated into a mere 3% of earth history (Creation, Moses, Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, Jesus, the Apostles). Because of the immediate and historical impact of such events that defied natural law, much of our attention is committed to them. The overwhelming majority of the sacred timeline, however, defaults to a grossly unspectacular history. Sovereignty is not amplified in the supernatural, but rather in the mundane. Yes, God is in the miraculous and we should be in awe of His creative power. But God is also in the maintenance processes decreed to preserve this planet through its useful tenure.

The relative absence of divine spectacle throughout history necessitates a faith that is sustained in God’s unimpressive disclosure of Himself in both special (Scripture) and general (nature) revelation. Unfortunately, some scholars have spoiled faith by presenting “inconsistencies” between God’s Word and God’s world. Any proposed disparity between the Word of God and the work of God is because of a philosophical misplacement of eminence.

Many Christian academics agree with the English politician and philosopher Francis Bacon (a contemporary of Galileo), who promoted nature as the requisite context to unlocking the truth of Scripture. In his 1605 book entitled Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon made this statement.

“For our Saviour saith, ‘You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God;’ laying before us two books or volumes of study, if we will be secured from error; first the Scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures expressing his power; whereof the latter is key to the former: not only opening our understanding to conceive the true sense of the Scriptures, by the general notions of reason and rules of speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us into a due meditation of the omnipotency of  God, which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works.”

The problem with this position is it presupposes that humanity’s fallen nature will be able to rightly interpret fallen nature.

A superior axiom is the one presented by Andrew Kulikovski in a 2005 Technical Journal article entitled “Scripture and General Revelation.”

“The scriptures, unlike general revelation, are presented in the words of ordinary human language…they have a perspicuity (clear expression, easy understanding) that is not found in the book of nature. In a way, therefore, the Scriptures are like a verbal commentary on the dimly perceived sign language of creation. For this reason, the special revelation of Scripture should always take priority over both general revelation in the natural world and the conclusions of modern science. The revelation of Scripture is the filter through which all else should be interpreted.

Scripture provides interpretive clarity for our observations of the natural world and nature is a signpost pointing to the truth of Scripture. King David understood this relationship when he penned the 19th Psalm (vv.1-11). As the observed regularities of nature imply a universe maintained within structural confines, so is the reliability of the Lord’s written Testimony.

Another Psalmist made a similar connection in Chapter 119 (vv.89-91). The constant governance of natural law amplifies the consistency of Divine Charter.

Regularity in nature is not only a fundamental premise of modern science it also offers illustrative validity to every ordinance “settled in heaven.”

  • The Law of Faith – Romans 3:23-28 (Faith activates justification)
  • The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Galatians 6:7 (You procure what you plant)
  • The Law of Liberty – James 1:25 (The choice to administer God’s principles liberates the believer in appreciable blessings)
  • The Law of Sin and Death – Romans 5:12 (Death is the result of original sin and is the inevitable appointment of all mankind)

Because God did create, curse, and destroy “In the beginning” as recounted in the book of Genesis, the details of redemption and resurrection and restoration in the pages that follow are thereby esteemed authentic and authoritative!

When God finally breaks His silence, the answer to Job’s physical loss and suffering was not an explanation, but a revelation of Himself; first in a brief detail of earth’s spectacular creative and catastrophic past and then in a thorough exposition of His subtle superintendence over His creation.

While God has the power and genius to absolutely “wow” us into submission, the impression given by His response to Job is that He prefers attentive recognition in the mundane. The intimation is that God wants to be pursued, discovered, and appreciated. If we recognize God’s hand in sovereign maintenance, then we can see Him every day and react to His presence in humility and praise. If we are only looking for Him in the sensational, we may miss Him and His pleasure altogether.

May we reach the fresh awareness of Job when he prayed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee (42:5).”

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Fans of professional football found themselves curiously caught up in the weekly performance of one particular player in the 2011 NFL season. That player was the University of Florida product and Denver Broncos’ first-round draft pick Tim Tebow. Not since tennis-great John McEnroe has a sports figure engendered such enthusiastic debate and radical polarization.

Tim Tebow was valued for his success and unique skill-set at the position of quarterback. Many talking-heads and draft experts expected Tebow to fall to the middle rounds of the selection process due to some technical deficiencies in his footwork and throwing motion that were not expected to transition well to the next level. Ignoring conventional analysis, the leadership of the Broncos’ organization made Tim Tebow their top asset in the 2010 draft.

The 2011 season got off to a pretty rough start for the Denver Broncos. With proven talent-commodity Kyle Orton at quarterback, the team mysteriously opened the campaign with 1 win and 4 losses. Looking for a spark, head coach John Fox took the clip-board from young Tebow and handed him the reins of the offense. For the next 11 weeks, the fans of the Broncos and the NFL were taken for the ride of their lives. The Broncos started winning. And it wasn’t just that they were winning – it was how they were winning.

Week after week the sports talk shows were buzzing about the amazing run of the team from Denver. Pundits were shaking their heads in search of a rational explanation for what was taking place – some eventually settling for descriptive expressions such as miraculous and lucky. As the season progressed, national sports-show personalities and commentary panels of major television networks were forced to start talking about the possibility of the inconceivable – the playoffs. While some held the skeptical hard-line citing that the phenomenon was unsustainable, the ranks of the doubters were dwindling in favor of “believers.”

But it wasn’t just his unconventional style of play and his gridiron exploits that was lighting up the phone boards and directing the headlines. It was his unabashed commitment to his faith that sparked much of the chatter.

What was it about this man that has been so polarizing? Many sports figures over the years have taken a knee or pointed to heaven in celebration. It is not unique or provoking to see athletes making the sign of the cross over their bodies or wearing a necklace with a religious pendant or even sporting a WWJD bracelet. What is it about Tim Tebow that has evoked such derision and vitriol? Troubled boxer Mike Tyson was admired by the mainstream media for going public with his conversion to Islam. Why did it seem that so many were almost wishing for Tebow to have a bad game and satisfied when he did? Stand-up comedian and television personality, Bill Maher even stooped below sacrilege  following a Christmas Eve Broncos loss when he tweeted “Wow, Jesus just ****-ed (expletive that single-handedly changes a movie rating from PG-13 to R) Tim Tebow bad!”

The content of Maher’s tweet contains the answer to the frenzy. There is no backlash associated with indistinct expressions of faith or religion, but mention the name of Jesus and all “hell” (literally) breaks loose. The objection of Maher and other detractors is Tim Tebow’s incessant public acknowledgement of his “Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

Such protest should not be surprising. In a dramatic, prophetic poem written by the famous 10th century BC warrior-king, David of Israel, the question is posed, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing (Psalm 2:1)?” He then identifies impetus of the tumult and futile scheming. It is the prospect of one that is anointed with authority to govern their lives – to “Lord” over them (vv.2,3). Scientist and Bible scholar, Henry Morris offers this assessment of the passage in his book Treasures in the Psalms. “The prophecy was fulfilled in a precursive way at the trial of Christ…The ultimate fulfillment, however will no doubt be at the very end of the age, in the last rebellion against God, of both men and devils…Between the initial fulfillment of this prophecy, at the trial of Christ, and the final fulfillment at the end of the age, there have been innumerable other partial fulfillments…The almost universal practice is to ignore the leadership of God and His Christ, and in some cases, actively oppose them (p.28).”

This modern moment of cultural conviction brought on by the testimony of a football player is the most recent “partial fulfillment” response of David’s prophecy.

Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you…the servant is not greater than his lord (John 15:18,20).”

The brilliant author chronicling the courageous exploits of certain 1st century Christians referenced a complaint to silence vocal followers calling them “these that have turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).” Tim Tebow has similarly stimulated the conscience of modern culture with an unfeigned faith and unrelenting praise virtually turning our 21st century world upside down.

ESPN columnist and sports commentator Rick Reilly wrote, “I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde. No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.”

On the first play of overtime in his first playoff game, Tebow connected with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for an 80 yard, game-winning pass play to beat the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers. The final stat sheet triggered a massive Google search exposing over 100 million internet users to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tim Tebow had thrown for exactly 316 yards. His average yards per pass play were 31.6. The TV rating for the overtime ballooned to 31.6. And Pittsburgh’s time of possession was 31 minutes and 6 seconds. Why was this significant to the audience? Tim Tebow had often worn the biblical address of John 3:16 on his glare-reducing, black patches under his eyes while playing for the Florida Gators.

This numerical association sent over 10,000 seekers to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s “Peace with God” web page via Google. According to the site managers, more than 200 readers acknowledged that they had made a decision to accept Jesus Christ into their life as a direct result.

I don’t think that God is a football fan, but I do believe that He is a huge fan of His Son and may have blessed a young quarterback on a national stage in early January for his faithful promotion and praise.

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Calvinism is a theological conception generated primarily from the writings of the 16th century Protestant Reformer John Calvin. Its essence is rooted in an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty with an emphasis on His grace. The principal objection is over an imbalanced reconciliation with the biblical tenets of free-will and individual choice. Calvinism has come to represent a belief that salvation is the kingdom heritage of a select group called the elect and that only these favored “vessels of mercy” are appointed to receive divine grace with no threat of volitional resistance. The subsequent and not-so-subtle intimation is that the rest of humanity is destined to damnation without the benefit of a merciful appeal or the opportunity to exercise a choice in free-will thereby releasing the “chosen” from any gospel obligation toward his fellow man.

The nexus of free-will and sovereign design is virtually inconceivable within the bounds of human comprehensibility. How are we to reconcile the divine character quality of eternal omniscience with the biblical principles of personal accountability and purpose in time and space? It is likely that ultimate satisfaction will not be accomplished through any ability of ours to reason, but rather an acknowledgement of God’s all-sufficient character.

Such recognition was conceded at the pen of history’s most gifted discerner, King Solomon. “I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15).”

Christ Himself seemed to reference both concepts as compatible realities when He said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).”

As is the case with so many Bible doctrines, a careful consideration of the foundational book of Genesis is helpful to a right positioning.

Some interpret the creation of the Edenic “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” to be the necessary vehicle through which mankind would fall from perfection setting the stage, in time, for man’s rescue – forecast before the foundation of the world. The progressive thought is that God created the world (and its inhabitants) to Curse it, destroy it, and restore it.

This is a flawed perception because it disregards the record of Creation and the character of God.

First of all, there was nothing “evil” about the tree. It was included in the declarative summary of “very good” along with the rest of creation. The tree was created for God (Colossians 1:15-16) as a witness or manifestation of His character (Romans 1:19-20; Psalm 19:1; Acts 17:24-27). Of all the qualities that define the Creator, the one amplified by this tree and the choice to which it is forever associated is His love.

Henry Morris muses in this regard in his incomparable commentary The Genesis Record.

There can be no doubt that God’s nature of love was central to His purpose in creating men and women. In some mysterious depths of God’s own nature, there seems to have been a desire for spiritual personalities (other than within the Godhead itself) on whom He could bestow His love.

But love is a reciprocal relationship. One cannot really ‘love’ an inanimate object, though such a term is often carelessly used. Furthermore, love which is unrequited (not returned) is one of the greatest tragedies of human life. For love to be expressed in all of its fullness there must be mutual love, each for the other; and a perfect Creator could hardly be satisfied with an imperfect love relationship.

Therefore, if God created people with the purpose of bestowing His love on them, His purpose must also have included a mutual and reciprocated love on their parts. But love, by its very nature, must be voluntary. An automaton cannot love its maker. If they are really to love God, men and women must be able to choose of their own will to love God, in response to God’s love for them. An involuntary love is a contradiction in terms and there can be no such thing.

On the other hand, if Adam was free to love God on his own initiative, he was obviously free also not to love God. If he was able to make the right moral choice, he was necessarily able also to make a wrong moral choice. God’s creation of morally free spiritual beings, ‘in his own image,’ clearly must run the risk of having them reject Him and His love.”

In order to complete the purpose of His creation, this was the inherent risk.

The essence of love requires that a choice be available – a free-will option. The expectation of love (from a lover) is a favorable or reciprocal response (to be loved).

This opportunity for man to love God was initiated in the Garden when God created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s intent was for mankind to be “holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephians 1:4).” When sin entered the world by Adam’s disobedient choice, God’s purpose would require a foreordained provisional detour.

The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is the primeval context to an academic appreciation of our original purpose – to bring glory and praise to our God. Without it, our knowledge of Him would be fragmented and our need for Him would be unfounded.

The mention of “evil” in the tree’s name was reference to an awareness that was without context in the Garden of Delights. Adam’s only concern was the pleasure and purpose of the Creator. Anything short of that would be “evil.” God’s will for man was that he have no knowledge or experience outside of His goodness. Evil represented anything beyond that boundary.

So even at the beginning we see this unfathomable connection coexisting in harmony. While God’s eternal foreknowledge comprehended the tragedy that would unfold under the shade of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in time’s dimension, God’s anticipation and expectation was a conscious restraint – a choice to love and fellowship.

Another Genesis account that highlights the mutual tolerance of sovereign perception and human discretion is that of Noah and the construction of the Ark. A brief study of the Ark’s capacity and cargo offers a beautiful illustration of this mysterious symmetry connecting the dimensions of both time and eternity.

Based on the measurements mandated to Noah (Gen.6:15), the volumetric capacity of the Ark was approximately 1,400,000 cubic feet equaling the functional space of 522 standard livestock railroad cars. Considering the likelihood of adolescent livestock (see Scripturosity article “Noah’s Ark – Part 3”) along with the average size of dinosaurs preserved in the fossil record, it is reasonable to use a domestic sheep as the creature template when reconciling cargo with the available capacity. A sound evaluation based on the number of sheep that can be accommodated in a standard railroad car represents that the Ark could have carried 125,000 delegates of the animal kingdom. Of course this is not accounting for the rational assumption of many smaller creatures that would have been satisfactorily boarded in cozy caged quarters.

Further evaluation reveals that the biblical classification of “kinds” would require as few as 2,000 animals on the Ark (though researchers are willing to concede a number as high as 16,000 for the sake of addressing the “crowded ark” argument – see Scripturosity article “Noah’s Ark – Part 2”).

Beyond that, John Woodmorappe, in his book Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, demonstrates in terms of a 371 day dry matter intake (according to the assumed animal body mass of the variant passengers – adults for the sake of argument), that “the total dry-matter intake on the Ark comes out to 1990 tons.” He documents “the fact that merely 3-6 thousand cubic meters of volume, which is 6-12% of the interior Ark volume, sufficed for the 371-day supply of food for the 16,000 animals.” He goes on to conclude that there was more than enough capacity for each kind of land animal, food storage, waste management, and human living quarters. In fact, based on the various studies, it seems probable that there was an abundance of unused capacity aboard the Ark when the flood-waters came.

What does all of this mean? It appears that the mercy and grace of God compelled Him to give Noah dimensions sufficient to support a large number of additional riders. Otherwise, Noah would not have felt the liberty to continue to preach repentance and salvation (1 Peter 3:19-20; 2 Peter 2:5). Did God understand in His foreknowledge that Earth would be repopulated by only eight survivors? The answer is yes. Did God also account for a positive response to Noah’s preaching? It appears that He did.

I understand those who choose to amplify the role of our sovereign Creator/Redeemer toward the restoration of mankind. I also understand those who emphasize the responsibility of the believer to carry the message of salvation to a lost world. The secret is not to accentuate one appreciation to the exclusion of the other. Both are biblically consistent realities that demand our acknowledgment.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4),” we must also aspire “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).”

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This article is one of a series designed to offer a reasoned defense of the true creationist position in response to representations, claims and rebuttals published by “America’s skeptic,” Dr. Michael Shermer.

 

A college professor for 20 years, teaching psychology, evolution, and the history of science, Dr. Shermer has emerged as one of the most respected voices of reason in this generation. He is the Founding Publisher of “Skeptic” magazine, is a monthly columnist for “Scientific American,” and is currently the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. He has authored more than 10 books primarily focused on science and reason with multiple appearances on various television shows and documentaries over the years.

 

In his book, “Why People Believe Weird Things,” Dr. Shermer commits a full chapter to “Confronting Creationists” trying his best to represent (or not) various planks of the “creation” platform and then offering a philosophical, naturalistic rebuttal to each claim. These articles will focus on Dr. Shermer’s representation of the creationist position and respond to his instruction on how to answer their assertions.

 

The purpose of this short series is not to encourage confrontation with skeptics, but to give answers to those seekers who may be at the same reflective crossroads that Michael Shermer found himself when his faith was challenged by the intellectual flair of naturalistic belief during his graduate training at California State University.

Alleged creationist claim #12 – Something cannot be created out of nothing, say scientists. Therefore, from where did the material for the Big Bang come? From where did the first life forms that provided the raw materials for evolution originate? Stanley Miller’s creation of amino acids out of an inorganic “soup” and other biogenic molecules is not the creation of life.

 

As part of his elaboration, Dr. Shermer admits, “Science may not be equipped to answer certain “ultimate”-type questions, such as what there was before the beginning of the universe or what time it was before time began or where the matter for the Big Bang came from. So far these have been philosophical or religious questions, not scientific ones and therefore have not been a part of science.”

Rationally speaking then, naturalism – the belief that all things find context in natural causation – is contradictory and illogical. At some point in the inescapable retrospection the question must be asked, “But where did that come from?” Eventually, there comes a point where every answer is religious.

The problem with using Stanley Miller’s experiment as a model for biogenesis is that he started with various material elements under controlled, laboratory conditions and manipulated the application of energy with calculated precision. How does that represent the evolutionary mantra of life’s random, spontaneous appearance from abiotic elements?

Dr. Shermer does offer the disclaimer that, “Stanley Miller never claimed to have created life, just some of its building blocks.” Let’s go ahead and concede that point to Shermer for the moment (even though intelligence was applied to generate the “blocks”). This proposition is like requiring a random, mountain of bricks to somehow become the Biltmore Estate!

The truth is such contemplations are extremely frustrating for naturalists. A typical example of the high-brow evasion at this point in the discussion can be found in Philip Whitfield’s book, Life: Evolution Explained where he assures the readers that “the precise details are not crucial.”

Seriously? That is the foundation of the dogmatic assertions of evolutionary origins? And my axiomatic adherence to a preserved, ancient document full of precise details that find harmonious context within all the scientific disciplines is considered ludicrous?

Another interesting observation is that while Dr. Shermer recognizes that these are “philosophical or religious questions…and therefore have not been a part of science,” the scientific community has not done a very good job of discouraging the promotion of ideological speculation (see Scripturosity article “Intellectual Invention”). From the classroom to the newsstand, science is endorsed as the only rational approach to our existence. In November of 2006, NewScientist magazine published a 50th Anniversary Special Edition with the following message boldly positioned in the center of the cover in large print – “THE BIG QUESTIONS-Life, Death, Reality, Free Will, and the Theory of Everything.” I wonder if anyone other than biblical creationists reads Shermer’s books.

My question to Dr. Shermer would be, “If absolute origins are beyond the capacity of observational science to root out, then why the desperate opposition to specific claims of a supernatural Agent?” Why not, likewise, oppose the message of his “shamans of scientism” who are faithfully “proffering naturalistic answers…providing spiritual sustenance” and meeting the philosophical needs of those rejecting the Sacred Record (see Scripturosity article “Answering Skeptics – Part 7”)? That’s not scientific either.

Perhaps the issue is not about being scientific or even being religious. We say “God” and they say “matter.” Creationists can be scientific and naturalists can be religious. The real objection is highlighted in a prophetic dictation of David found in the opening stanza of Psalm 2.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

David asked the same question that is under the breath of so many Christians today. The zealous defiance is to the point of absurdity prompting the sincere inquiry, “Why is the opposition so fierce, even to the extent of plotting against sound reason?”

The passage reveals the crux of the resistance in a contrast between Earth’s culture and Earth’s Creator. “His anointed” is a reference to the deliverer who would redeem creation from its Curse (see Scripturosity article “The Gospel Message”). The prophecy unveils the exception of the creature to the notion of accountability or the need to be rescued. “Let us break their bands…and cast away their cords.”

Oh the twisted thinking that turns our Redeemer into our rival.

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This article is one of a series designed to offer a reasoned defense of the true creationist position in response to representations, claims and rebuttals published by “America’s skeptic,” Dr. Michael Shermer.

 

A college professor for 20 years, teaching psychology, evolution, and the history of science, Dr. Shermer has emerged as one of the most respected voices of reason in this generation. He is the Founding Publisher of “Skeptic” magazine, is a monthly columnist for “Scientific American,” and is currently the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. He has authored more than 10 books primarily focused on science and reason with multiple appearances on various television shows and documentaries over the years.

 

In his book, “Why People Believe Weird Things,” Dr. Shermer commits a full chapter to “Confronting Creationists” trying his best to represent (or not) various planks of the “creation” platform and then offering a philosophical, naturalistic rebuttal to each claim. These articles will focus on Dr. Shermer’s representation of the creationist position and respond to his instruction on how to answer their assertions.

 

The purpose of this short series is not to encourage confrontation with skeptics, but to give answers to those seekers who may be at the same reflective crossroads that Michael Shermer found himself when his faith was challenged by the intellectual flair of naturalistic belief during his graduate training at California State University.

Alleged creationist claim #10 – “The Bible is the written Word of God…all of its assertions are historically and scientifically true. The great Flood described in Genesis was an historical event, worldwide in its extent and effect. We are an organization of Christian men of science, who accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The account of the special creation of Adam and Eve as one man and one woman, and their subsequent Fall into sin, is the basis for our belief in the necessity of a Savior for all mankind” (in Eve and Harrold 1991, p.55).

 

Obviously, Dr. Shermer is quoting a Christian scientist here rather than fabricating one of his own “straw-man” assertions. His objection is that “such a statement of belief is clearly religious.” He then contradicts several of his previous arguments by saying, “This does not make it wrong.” This is what I like to call a high-brow bone toss. High profile naturalists realize the importance of maintaining a measure of credibility and civility with the faithful masses. In this attempt, they often back themselves into an irrational corner. The logical law of contradiction requires that an assertion of this content and magnitude be either true or false. It cannot be both.

He continues by protesting, “One cannot make the events in any text historically and scientifically true by fiat, only by testing the evidence.” The intimation is that creationists are impaired by a devout bias thereby tainting any subsequent interpretation of plain evidence. As pointed out earlier in this series, neither of the competing paradigms are without faithful, leading assumptions (see Scripturosity articles “Answering Skeptics – Parts 1 & Part 2”).

An unapologetic witness to this fact are the remarkably candid words of evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and author Richard Lewontin as quoted from a 1997 article in The New York Review entitled “Billions and Billions of Demons.”

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated ‘Just So’ stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”

While it is not my intention to imply that Richard Lewontin speaks for all scientists, it is does appear that he is attempting to present his position as consensus within the scientific community. He is positing a zealous, blind-faith guardianship of naturalism despite its “patent absurdity” even to the point of shamelessly engineering the investigation.

Lewontin understands that there are only two possibilities when it comes to origins. Either the cause is completely natural or the cause is beyond natural explanation. If the forces of nature are insufficient, then explanation must logically default to possibilities that are beyond the observation of current processes. This is the unacceptable foot of the Divine that must be prevented access to the door of human intellect. And they say that we are the religious ones (for a clear definition of religion see Scripturosity article “Answering Skeptics – Part 7”)?

It is quite clear that the root issue in the debate over origins is and has always been the Word of God and the compulsion of the natural man to distance himself from it. If the opening record documenting the history of the world can be discredited, then subsequent passages teaching a personal accountability to a sovereign Creator are marginalized. No special creation…no accountability…no accountability…no judgment…no judgment…no vulnerability.

Note the following quotes directed at the world’s premier text and those that faithfully regard it.

“The overturning of the catastrophist, Biblical view has been one of the major achievements of modern science (1984 American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting).”

“Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may, in the end, be our greatest contribution to civilization (Dr. Steven Weinburg, Nobel Laureate in Physics, quoted in the New York Times, 11/21/06).”

The crusade must be directed at the Word of God. If the history recorded in Genesis is true, then the moral and spiritual lessons that follow carry significant weight. If God could judge the world once, he could do it again.

“For this they (scoffers) are willingly ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, the earth standing out of the water and in the water (Day 3 of Creation; Genesis 1:9,10). Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water (Genesis Flood; 7:11, 19) perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now (contrasted with the world than then was), by the same word (the Word that created and judged in Genesis) are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:5-7).”

For further inquiry into our purpose and divine expectation, see Scripturosity article “The Gospel Message.

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After I publish an article, I will ask my wife, Sheila, to work her techno-magic with her Mac and make the necessary links to various references throughout the piece. Last week it became clear that one of my Scripturosity references had only been drafted and never published – so here it is (I hope you didn’t search too long for it). The “Answering Skeptics” series will continue next week.

“Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark (Genesis 8:19).”

The day finally came. After a full year and 13 days in the Ark, the seafarers stepped out onto dry land.

It had been approximately 1,600 years since the Creator decreed that the earth should be filled. We realize in these verses that God is not deterred from His original purpose. God has desired that the nephesh representation of His creative genius cover the earth as a perpetual testament to His glory. Now with the harsh conditions and landscape into which the creatures were re-introduced, their built in genetic variability would be more of a survival necessity than before the Flood. In the antediluvian environment, speciation would have been, more, an aesthetic expression of diversity rather than an essential for propagation.

This is one reason why there appears to be such a disparity between the creature representation in the fossil record and today’s “kind” remnant. The genetic capacity was pushed harder toward its limits after the Flood due to geographical, climatological, and   ecological barriers that had become the new reality. As the animals dispersed and reproduced, environmental and behavioral factors would cause segments of a “kind” population to become isolated. This isolation would influence the community by favoring characteristics best suited for survival within that environment. As time went on, variations within “kinds” became recognizable; even to the point of sharp distinction.

Objectors to the historicity and authority of Scripture argue that the “kinds” of Genesis are synonymous with the “species” of Linnaean taxonomic hierarchy. It is interesting that they never argue for a broader classification when offering a modern comparison. It is always the most restrictive classification of “species.” And yet, Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, used his appreciation for the Creator’s design to construct his 7 taxon’s that form his hierarchy in the mid-1700’s (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species).

The Hebrew word translated “kind” in the Authorized Version of the Bible is also translated “species” and “genus” in the early Latin translations of Scripture. Since both words came from the same Hebrew word, min, it is clear that both translations intended to communicate the same thing – a distinct, genetically fixed class of creature with a broad capacity for variation and adaptation ensuring proliferation to the glory of the Creator.

Bible commentators before the time of Linnaeus, such as John Calvin, John Gill, and Matthew Henry, always recognized that “species” originally meant the same as the later English rendering of “kind.”

The confusion came when the biological classification systems took on more specific definitions. The science community and the churches were using the same term (“species”), but were applying different definitions. Theologians were maintaining that biblical “species” (meaning “kinds”) were created genetically fixed or distinct and could not cross certain assigned barriers. Meanwhile, the scientists were demonstrating change and variability within “species” (meaning the Linnaean “species”). Guess who looked ignorant.

This may have been avoided had Linnaeus used the term “species” in the place of “family,” then the theologians could have continued from their traditional understanding without any negative backlash. In the modern classification, it is “family” that best represents the constitution of the Genesis “kind.”

Because of the ongoing confusion and easy attack on the authority of Scripture, Frank Marsh proposed a new term in his 1941 book entitled Fundamental Biology. From the Hebrew words bârâ meaning “to create” and min meaning “kind,” he constructed the term baramin roughly meaning “created kind.” Baraminology is now a growing field of scientific research that studies the biblical created kinds.

Dr. Todd Charles Wood, biochemist and Director of the Center for Origins Research at BryanCollege wrote the following concerning his research in this new field (April-June Answers magazine).

“Over the past decade, I have worked to develop new methods of studying created kinds using statistics. This research is still very new and preliminary, but a pattern is beginning to emerge. For land animals and birds, the created kind most often corresponds to the conventional classification rank called “family,” which includes many species. There is evidence that the camel, horse, cat, dog, penguin, and iguana families are each a created kind…I would put the coyote, wolf, jackal, and dog in the same kind, and I would include the fox. I would put the lion and the house cat in another kind and the llama and the camel in yet another kind. Today these species (ie., llama and camel) look amazingly different, but they seem to have been generated after the Flood from information already present within their parent kind.”

Keep in mind also that the “kind” delegates that were taken on the Ark did not represent (nor did they have to) the vast diversity (speciation) that had already taken place within the kinds.

Professor of biology, Dr. Daniel Criswell wrote an article published in the April 2009 Acts & Facts entitled “Speciation and the Animals on theArk.” After answering many of the arguments brought by “old-earth” proponents regarding speciation, Dr. Criswell offers the following biblical perspective.

“To maximize the number of animals on the Ark with the genetic potential to produce all the variation we see today requires a genetic engineer who knows the genetic composition of each animal. Genesis 6:20 tells us that God brought the animals to Noah to be put on the Ark. It clearly indicates that God chose the animals to be saved and it is likely that the choice of animal was based on the genetic potential to produce a variety of animals after the Flood. God is the omniscient genetic engineer who chose each animal and made the variation in extant (surviving) animals possible from all the animals on the Ark.”

In the end, after all the scientific analysis and debate, it still comes down to faith. Those promoting a history of millions of biologically evolving years have faith that the 18th century concepts of Hutton and Lyell (that have a stronghold on nearly every discipline of science today) were rooted in empirical discovery rather than assumptions and presuppositions. Those of us preaching a 6 day creation have anchored our worldview on the authority and inerrancy of an ancient, sacred record detailing the history of the world and mankind.

It just happens to be very satisfying intellectually to see how the evidence favors the “testimonies…of old” (Ps. 119:152). Discovery is ever supplementing the ambiguity built into Scripture. God gives us just enough information to drive our innate curiosity, but not enough that we don’t have to exercise faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (Heb. 11:3)” and God is not about to change that while we are in the “time” dimension. His pleasure is to be sought and His desire is to reward them that do. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6).”

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