If We Accept Transgender, Must We Accept Transspecie?

I have posted previously on the irrationality of accepting someone’s internal mental state that is contrary to external reality. The list I have documented includes the following:

  • Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who self-identifies as black. She was fired from her job at the NAACP.
  • The Norwegian woman who believes she is a cat accidentally born in a human body.
  • The increasing numbers of people such as Miley Cyrus who self-identify as gender fluid, being neither a fixed male nor female, but moving between genders.
  • The natural born biological man at a psychiatric hospital who believed he was pregnant.
  • The people who believe they are male or female even though they are biologically the other gender.

You can see more about these here.

To this list we now add the man who was born Richard Hernandez, who claim to have changed to a transgendered female, who has now changing himself into a reptile. See the articles here and here.  The extent of body modification has crossed the line to self-mutilation. The list includes removing the ears, removing the nose, turning the whites of the eyes green, splitting the tongue, scarring the skin to look like orange peel, implanting horns, and full body tattoos to look like scales.

Further, he says on a blog that he prefers to be called an it, and also apparently is consciously “leaving my humanness behind and embracing my most natural self awareness as a mythical beast.” Apparently we are to believe that one can consciously leave human behind and become a beast. It’s new name is Eva Tiamet Medusa.

Why would someone do this? Its response is that the purpose was for “sexual pleasure, the shock value, and most important of all, personal gratification and spiritual significance.”

So we are now expected to humor this confused person to gratify their odd sexual desire. Added to the list above, we now have enough actual cases of confused people that the issue is no longer a theoretical one, but a practical situation where peoples’ internal mental states clearly do not align with reality. Clearly, dragons do not exist. Equally clearly, this is a man who is mentally confused.

As a society, we should not be expected to accept a group of people’s internal mental states that do not align with external reality. Let us call transgenderism, and transpecieism, for what it is: mental confusion.

We are not doing these people any favors by accepting their world as if it were a healthy expression in society. In fact, a human is not a cat nor a dragon, white people are not black, men do not get pregnant, men are not women, and women are not men.

Without clarification, we have no basis for firing one of the people on the list, locking another up in a mental hospital, and accepting others with official recognition. Our society is in a grand social experiment to see if it can withstand redefinition without any working compass or map.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nothing Cannot Cause Any Thing

If ever there was a time when absolutely nothing existed, there would still be nothing, for nothing cannot cause any thing to exist. All effects must have a cause, as even the king of the skeptics admitted, David Hume. To say that something could arise without a cause is to admit absurdity, for one of the most basic principles of reason is that no effect can come to exist without a cause. No one has ever demonstrated an effect without a cause, not even in the shadowy, partially-known world of theoretical physics commonly referred to as quantum physics. Most quantum-laced responses can be summed up by the adage  ‘they did not explain it, they quantumed it.”  Some have given absurd answers similar to saying that the universe does not need a cause since it came from fluctuations in the quantum vacuum. This is nonsense, for if we can speak of fluctuations and vacuums such that our sentences have subjects and predicates, attempting to meaningfully predicate something to the quantum world, we have not started with nothing, but something. What caused the fluctuations? What was the situation that defined the quantum vacuum? These are things, and if ever there was a time when absolutely nothing existed, there would still be nothing, since nothing cannot cause any thing to come to exist.

Therefore something has always existed. Many have tried to say this something was matter, but matter is subject to the laws of thermodynamics which tell us that the universe would have died a heat death eons ago. Further, all instances we have observed of material things show us that they are limited. Limited things have potential that has not been actualized, and are therefore composed of potential and actual. All composed things have been caused to be by a prior cause. No one has ever demonstrated a composition that came to be on its own, and with the cumulative experience of all mankind, the burden of proof is therefore on the skeptic to demonstrate that composition can come to be without a cause.

So the thing that is the cause of what has come into existence must be non-material, uncomposed, and without a prior cause. This we call God.

Posted in Apologetics, Philosophy, Skepticism | 6 Comments

What Will it Take For Us to Realize We Are at War?

We have lost the lesson that was learned from the mistakes of Neville Chamberlain. How long will it take for us to learn it again?

 

Posted in Culture | 2 Comments

Greek Scholars and the Watchtower

I have written on the books written by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, specifically their rendering of John 1:1c, “the word was a god” when all English translations have “the Word was God” or similar. One hundred percent of the Greek scholars who publish grammar texts disagree with the Watchtower.

In a response, one commenter on this blog said the following:

I shared your point with Rolf Furuli, who has exams in Greek and Latin and has taught University courses in Akkadian, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Syriac, and Ugaritic. He had this to say:

“I think the writer has missed something here. As a scholar who has taught Semitic languages for many years, and who has University exams in Greek and Latin as well, I would say that the translation “a god” in John 1:1c is the most natural one. The reason why “God” is chosen, is theology and not linguistics. Where is the Greek scholar who, on the basis of Greek lexicon, grammar, and syntax, has shown that “a god” in John 1:1c is a WRONG translation? I would think that almost all Greek scholars would agree that on the basis of linguistics “a god” is a perfectly legitimate rendering.

Such a statement is amazing in that it is so incorrect. However, when one becomes familiar with how the Watchtower has misused quotes in the past, it becomes not so surprising.

If you are not interested in the details, now would be the time to skip down to the Conclusion.

In this post I will quote several Greek grammar texts specifically. Before I do, I must repeat the following relevant points to the Greek translation issue:

  • I do not claim any scholarship in languages. I know the rudiments of the language, enough to know how to read the grammar texts and lexicons. Therefore I never make statements of my own authority, but merely quote those who are the scholars. We would have less confusion if everyone did this.
  • To make solid points of language, the scholarly sources are those who have published a Greek grammar book, a Greek lexicon, or Greek text that is used in an accredited school to teach Greek. The reason we can only accept these authors is because anyone can publish a book, use big words, and sound authoritative. Merely publishing a book or teaching in a college somewhere does not make one authoritative. In this particular issue, many people have published comments on each side of the question. One person publishes one thing, another publishes another, and since the average reader does not normally deal in the technical grammar terms, they get confused. So since the Greek grammars, lexicons, and texts are the definition of the language, anyone who disagrees is disagreeing with the language itself and is not on firm ground. (For an example of how a high-level university professor can be factually incorrect, see here)

Here are the quotes from the authors of Greek grammar texts that I own or have found in local libraries:

A New Short Grammar of the Greek Testament, Robertson, A. T., and Davis, W. Hershey (New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931):

As a rule the article is not used with the predicate noun even if the subject is definite. The article with one and not with the other means that the articular noun is the subject. Thus ό θεός άγάπε έστιν can only mean God is love, not love is God.  So in Jo. 1:1 θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος the meaning has to be the Logos was God, not God was the Logos. If the article occurs with both predicate and subject they are interchangeable as in 1 Jo. 3:4, ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία sin is lawlessness and also lawlessness is sin (a needed lesson for our day). (279)

The Minister and His Greek New Testament, Robertson, A. T. (Grand Rapids: Baker):

A word should be said concerning the use and non-use of the article in John 1:1, where a narrow path is safely followed by the author. “The Word was God.” If both God and Word were articular, they would be coextensive and equally distributed and so interchangeable. But the separate personality of the Logos is affirmed by the construction used and Sabelianism is denied. If God were articular and Logos non-articular, the affirmation would be that God was Logos, but not that the Logos was God. As it is, John asserts that in the Pre-incarnate state the Logos was God, though the father was greater than the Son (John 14:28). (67-68)

The Watchtower insists that if Jesus were to be God Almighty, the text would have to have said, in effect, “the word was the God.” Here, Robertson is saying that if the Greek were to say “the word was the God”, then it would say that the Father and Jesus are one and the same person with no distinction in any way whatsoever, a heresy taught by Sabelius and continued today by Oneness Pentecostals.

 

A Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament, rev. & improved ed., Religious Tract Society (Piccadilly: n.p.):

206. Hence arises the general rule, that in the simple sentence Subject takes the article, the Predicate omits it. . . John i:1: θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, the Word was God.

 

Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament by Daniel B. Wallace (Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1996):

 If θεός were indefinite, we would translate it “a god” (as is done in the New World Translation [NWT]). If so, the theological implication would be some form of polytheism, perhaps suggesting that the Word was merely a secondary god in a pantheon of deities.

The grammatical argument that the PN here is indefinite is weak. Often, those who argue for such a view (in particular, the translators of the NWT) do so on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous. Yet they are inconsistent, as R. H. Countess pointed out:

“In the New Testament there are 282 occurrences of the anarthrous θεός. At sixteen places NWT has either a god, god, gods, or godly. Sixteen out of 282 means that the translators were faithful to their translation principle only six percent of the time. …”

The first section of John-1:1–18-furnishes a lucid example of NWT arbitrary dogmatism. Θεός occurs eight times-verses 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, 18-and has the article only twice-verses 1, 2. Yet NWT six times translated “God,” once “a god,” and once “the god.”

If we expand the discussion to other anarthrous terms in the Johannine Prologue, we notice other inconsistencies in the NWT: It is interesting that the New World Translation renders θεός as “a god” on the simplistic grounds that it lacks the article. This is surely an insufficient basis. Following the “anarthrous = indefinite” principle would mean that ἀρχῇ should be “a beginning” (1:1, 2), ζωὴ should be “a life” (1:4), παρὰ θεοῦ should be “from a god” (1:6), Ἰωάννης should be “a John” (1:6), θεόν should be “a god” (1:18), etc. Yet none of these other anarthrous nouns is rendered with an indefinite article. One can only suspect strong theological bias in such a translation.

According to Dixon’s study, if θεός were indefinite in John 1:1, it would be the only anarthrous pre-verbal PN in John’s Gospel to be so. Although we have argued that this is somewhat overstated, the general point is valid: The indefinite notion is the most poorly attested for anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominatives. Thus, grammatically such a meaning is improbable. Also, the context suggests that such is not likely, for the Word already existed in the beginning. Thus, contextually and grammatically, it is highly improbable that the Logos could be “a god” according to John (266-267)

 

A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Dana, H. E., and Mantey, Julius R., (New York: Macmillan):

“The use of the articular and anarthrous construction of θεὸς is highly instructive. A study of the uses of the term is given in Moulton and Geden’s Concordance convinces one that without the article θεὸς signifies divine essence, while with the article divine personality is chiefly in view.” (139-140)

 * * *

“The use of θεὸς in Jn. 1:1 is a good example. πρὸς τὸν θεόν points to Christ’s fellowship with the person of the Father; θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature. The former clearly applies to personality, while the latter applies to character. This distinction is in line with the general force of the article. (140)

 * * *

(3) With the Subject in a Copulative Sentence. The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, 1:4:6, έμπόριον δ ην τό χωρίον, and the place was a market, we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1, θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, and the word was deity. The article points out the subject in these examples. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with θεὸς. As it stands, the other persons of the Trinity may be implied in θεὸς. In a convertible proposition, where the subject and predicate are regarded as interchangeable, both have the article (cf. 1 Cor. 15:56). If the subject is a proper name, or a personal demonstrative pronoun, it may be anarthrous while the predicate has the article (cf. Jn. 6:51; Ac. 4:11; 1 Jn. 4:15). (148-149)

 * * *

It is instructive to observe that the anarthrous noun occurs in many prepositional phrases. This is no mere accident, for there are no accidents in the growth of a language:  each idiom has its reason. Nor is it because the noun is sufficiently definite without the article, which is true, as Greek nouns have an intrinsic definiteness. But that is not the reason for not using the article. A prepositional phrase usually implies some idea of quality or kind. Ἐν ἀρχῇ in Jn. 1:1 characterizes Christ as preexistent, thus defining the nature of his person. (150)

 

This grammar by Dana and Mantey is especially noteworthy, because the passage abover from their p.148 was cited years ago in a Watchtower publication in support of their “the word was a god” rendering. The commenter on this blog even used the same passage in Mantey’s grammar to try to support the “a god” rendering. Therefore a bit of explanation is in order.

The citation in question is the sentence on p.148 where Dana and Mantey rend a sentence from Xenophon as “the place was a market” calling it “a parallel case.” The Watchtower is wrong for the following reasons.

First, note that the paragraph is talking about “the subject in a copulative sentence.” The subject in the passage in question is the Word, while God is the predicate. So Mantey is making a point about logos, not theos.  Second, saying “the place was market” is not typically meaningful in English, while “the word was God” is a meaningful sentence. Third, the paragraph is making a point about “the other persons of the Trinity is implied in theos” which is in direct disagreement to the Watchtower. Fourth, the rest of the quotes from Mantey’s grammar show that the book disagrees with the Watchtower.

Fifth, Mantey clarified exactly what he meant in his letter to the Watchtower:

Your quotation from p.148 (3) was in a paragraph under the heading: “With the Subject in a Copulative sentence.” Two examples occur there to illustrate that “the article points out the subject in these examples.” But we made no statement in the paragraph about the predicate except that , “as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in theos.” And isn’t that the opposite of what your translation “a god” infers? You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 140 (VI) in our grammar we stated: “without the article theos signifies divine essence . . . theos en ho logos emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature.” Our interpretation is in agreement with that in NEB and the TEV: “What God was, the Word was”; and with that of Barclay: “The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God. 

For the complete letter, see here. 

Sixth, lest there be any doubt about what Julius Mantey meant about the Greek grammar of John 1:1, he was interviewed by Walter Martin and said this:

MARTIN: In John 1:1, the New World Translation (NWT) says that “the Word was a god,” referring to Jesus Christ. How would you respond to that?

MANTEY: The Jehovah’s Witnesses have forgotten entirely what the order of the sentence indicates – that the “Logos” has the same substance, nature, or essence as the Father. To indicate that Jesus was just “a god,” the JWs would have to use a completely different construction in the Greek.

MARTIN: You once had a little difference of opinion with the Watchtower about this and wrote them a letter. What was their response to your letter?

MANTEY: Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they had misquoted me in support of their translation. I called their attention to the fact that the whole body of the New Testament was against their view. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is glorified and magnified – yet here they were denigrating Him and making Him into a little god of a pagan concept.

MARTIN: What was their response to what you said?

MANTEY: They said I could have my opinion and they would retain theirs. What I wrote didn’t faze them a bit.

MARTIN: I don’t know whether you’re aware of it, but there is not a single Greek scholar in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I did everything I could to find out the names of the translating committee of the NWT, and the Watchtower wouldn’t tell me a thing. Finally, an ex-JW who knew the committee members personally told me who they were, and the men on that committee could not read New Testament Greek; nor could they read Hebrew; nor did they have any knowledge of systematic theology – except what they had learned from the Watchtower. Only one of them had been to college, and he had dropped out after a year. He briefly studied the biblical languages while there.

MANTEY: He was born in Greece, wasn’t he?

MARTIN: Yes, he read modern Greek, and I met him when I visited the Watchtower. I asked him to read John 1:1 in the Greek and then said, “How would you translate it?” He said: “Well, ‘the word was a god.”‘ I said: “What is the subject of the sentence?” He just looked at me. So I repeated, “What is the subject of the sentence?” He didn’t know. This was the only person in the Watchtower to read Greek and he didn’t know the subject of the sentence in John 1:1. And these were the people who wrote back to you and said their opinion was as good as yours.

MANTEY: That’s right.

 

Therefore it is quite clear what Dana and Mantey’s Grammar meant about definite and indefinite articles in Greek, and it disagrees with the Watchtower.

Walter Martin claimed he met former members of the Watchtower who give him five known members of the Watchtower committee that wrote the New World Translation. They were Nathan H. Knorr, F. W. Franz, George D. Gangas, Milton G. Herschell, and A. D. Schroeder (Jehovah of the Watchtower, Martin and Klann (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1974), 176.

 

English Translations

The following are all the English translations I currently have, excepting loose paraphrase versions.

NET Bible:       “the Word was fully God.”
Darby Bible:    “the Word was God.”
Lexham:          “the Word was God.”
NCV:                “the Word was God.”
KJV:                  “the Word was God.”
NKJV:               “the Word was God.”
ISV:                  “the Word was God”
Douay-Rheims:  “the Word was God.”
Young’s:           “the Word was God.”
TNIV:               “the Word was God.”
NIV (1984):      “the Word was God.”
NIrV:                “the Word was God.”
HCSB:              “the Word was God.”
NRSV:              “the Word was God.”
NASB:              “the Word was God.”
ASV:                 “the Word was God.”
ESV:                 “the Word was God”
NJB:                 “the Word was God.”
WUESTNT:       “the Word was as to His essence absolute deity”
CEV:                 “The Word was with God and was truly God.”

This shows twenty versions, most translated by many language scholars on a committee, which all agree. I have found no English versions outside of Watchtower publications that hold to their rendering of John 1:1. Even if we toss out the few that are not common, the remaining represent the bulk of language scholarship for the modern era.

 

Conclusion

We can solidly make the following conclusions:

  • No Greek grammar supports the Watchtower.
  • The community of language scholars is against the Watchtower. Quote their obscure sources as they may, the scholarship is against them.
  • The Watchtower has quoted no Greek grammar text that supports their view of John 1:1 because there are none.
  • The quote used by the Watchtower from p.148 of Dana and Mantey’s grammar was in a paragraph talking about the subject of John 1:1c, which is the Word. It was not talking about the predicate, God. Mantey clarified his meaning elsewhere in the book and in later published statements.
  • Again, my commenter quoted one professor who made the following statement: “Where is the Greek scholar who, on the basis of Greek lexicon, grammar, and syntax, has shown that “a god” in John 1:1c is a WRONG translation? I would think that almost all Greek scholars would agree that on the basis of linguistics “a god” is a perfectly legitimate rendering.”
  • That anyone in the language community would even ask such a question, or make such a statement, shows a level of bias so strong as to allow us to dismiss their statements. They are clearly and broadly wrong, and have no sources to support their view. All of the Greek grammar texts disagree, every last one.

Since the Watchtower tends to play games with quotations, there is a good summary of statements by various authors that they sometimes quote. You can find it here.

The discerning Bible student will do well to steer clear of Watchtower teachings and publications.

Posted in Apologetics, Bible | 6 Comments

Christian Quotations from America’s Founding Fathers

In honor of independence day, I offer the following quotes are from Great Quotations (CD-ROM) by William J. Federer. This book seems to have been renamed American Quotations. It is merely a large collection of quotations given without comment.

Virginia, Second Charter of (May 23, 1609), granted by King James I, stated:

Because the principal Effect which we can expect or desire of this Action is the Conversion and reduction of the people in those parts unto the true worship of God and the Christian Religion.

And forasmuch, as it shall be necessary for all such our loving Subjects, as shall inhabit within the said Precincts of Virginia, aforesaid, to determine to live together, in the Fear and true Worship of Almighty God, Christian Peace, and civil Quietness, with each other, whereby every one may, with more Safety, Pleasure, and Profit, enjoy that, whereunto they shall attain with great Pain and Peril.

Harvard University (1636), founded by the General Court of Massachusetts only sixteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims.

The Rules and Precepts observed at Harvard, September 26, 1642, stated:

Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him Prov. 2, 3.

Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practicall and spirituall truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm, 119:130.

New England Confederation, Constitution of the (May 19, 1643), was the first document in America where colonies united themselves. The colonists of New Plymouth, New Haven, Massachusetts & Connecticut, covenanted together, stated:

Whereas we all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to injoy the liberties of the Gospell thereof with purities and peace, and for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the gospell. …

And whereas in our setting (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the sea coasts and rivers than was at first intended. …

The said United Colonies for themselves and their posterities to jointly and severaly hereby enter into a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor upon all just occasions both for preserving and propagating the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare.

The Colony of Maryland required the every governor annually take an oath that they would not:

By themselves, or indirectly, to trouble, molest, or discountenance any person professing to believe in Jesus Christ, for or in respect of religion; and if any such were so molested, to protect the person molested, and punish the offender.

Pennsylvania, Great Law of (December 7, 1682), the first legislative act of Pennsylvania, stated:

Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and the end of government, and, therefore government itself is a venerable Ordinance of God. … [let there be established] laws as shall best preserve true Christian and Civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, whereby God may have his due, and Caesar his due, and the people their due, from tyranny and oppression.

That no person, now or at any time hereafter, Living in this Province, who shall confess and acknowledge one Almighty God to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World, And who professes, him or herself Obliged in Conscience to Live peacably and quietly under the civil government, shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his, or her Conscientious persuasion or practice.

Nor shall he or she at any time be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place of Ministry whatever, Contrary to his, or her mind, but shall freely and fully enjoy his, or her, Christian Liberty in that respect, without any Interruption or reflection.

And if any person shall abuse or deride any other, for his, or her different persuasion and practice in matters of religion, such person shall be looked upon as a Disturber of the peace, and be punished accordingly.

In February of 1776, John Adams, George Wythe, and Roger Sherman, all signers of the Declaration of Independence and office holders in early government,  comprised a committee responsible for establishing guidelines for an embassy bound for Canada. Their instructions stated:

You are further to declare that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion. And. … that all civil rights and the right to hold office were to be extended to persons of any Christian denomination.

 

 

Federer’s book has many more of such quotes, and is a great read and history lesson.

 

Posted in Culture | 1 Comment

Creation, Big Bang, and Age of the Earth

Question: Some people believe God created the world in six literal days. Others believe in an old-earth view, with a “big bang.” Is it possible to reconcile old earth and young earth views? Also, why is it easier to believe in an “uncaused Cause” than a “big bang”? We don’t see examples of either one of those things in life. Aren’t they both pretty much statistically impossible?

Response:  This question is actually several questions which we will try to take one at a time.

First, the questions assume that an old earth view does not include God creating the world in six literal days. Actually, there are several factors which are all independent of each other:

  1. How the world was created: quickly or slowly
  2. Whether it is true that an event similar to the big bang occurred
  3. How long ago the world began

Most young earth creationists derive their view of a young earth from following the genealogies in the Bible. As we have shown elsewhere, we can safely conclude that we are not on firm ground trying to determine the age of the earth strictly from the Biblical genealogies, and this can be demonstrated by the evidence directly in the Bible.  See here for more detail.

Second, No. 3 does not contradict either No. 1 or No. 2. Logically, how the world began is not necessarily impacted by how long ago it happened. Obviously, a very young earth is not compatible with a very slow creation, but it is not true that an old earth makes a rapid creation impossible. Rather, it could be that the world was created quickly, but a long time ago.

Too many Christians assume that how long ago the world began necessarily determines whether the creation event happened quickly or slowly, or whether it began with what we now commonly call a big bang or some other event. These factors are independent of each other.

Third, the big bang is not incompatible with special creation by God. As Christian Frank Turek has said, “I do not have a problem with the big bang. I just know Who banged it.” As a general idea, the idea of a rapid expansion of matter from a small point aligns with both a big bang and Genesis 1:1.

Fourth, several areas of evidence that we see in the world around us lead us to hold that the world is a very old place. While I do not claim expertise in the technical sciences, it seems to be a solid conclusion that an old earth is supported by good evidence in geology and astronomy. When we combine this with the inability to determine an age of the earth from the Bible (see link above), we conclude that from the standpoint of Biblical orthodoxy, both an old earth and young earth views are compatible with scripture. Again, how long ago the world began is distinct from how it began or how fast or slow it began initially.

Fifth, from a doctrinal and theological perspective, the question is not how long ago the world was created, but rather whether Adam was a literal human or a figurative literary device. For more detail, see here and here. If Adam is a figurative literary device, we have great theological problems in the New Testament, including Romans 5 and elsewhere. By contrast, as long as Adam is the actual first human, how the world was created and how long ago it happened are much less important.

Sixth, from a perspective of minimal facts to be a Christian, one could be wrong about all of No. 1, 2, and 3 above and still be a Christian. That is, as long as one holds that God exists and directed all events, including Jesus dying and rising again, then he could be wrong about many things in theology and science.  Even if one were to deny the historicity of Adam, they can still maintain that God exists and the Bible is true, as many people do.

Seventh, as to whether it is possible to reconcile old earth and young earth views, several have given detailed explanations trying to reconcile them. For one noteworthy example, see Dr. Sarah Salviander over at sixdayscience.com. For a good example of those who hold that special creation of Adam could have happened a long time ago, see Dr. Hugh Ross and his team over at http://www.reasons.org

 

An Uncaused Cause vs. a Big Bang

As an introduction, we need to first give a short explanation of an uncaused cause. Some proofs for the existence of God hold that effects cannot generate themselves and therefore need causes. We cannot go backward in a sequence of causes forever since an actual infinite is impossible. Therefore there must be a first cause, and this first cause is uncaused. For more explanation, see here and here.

As to the statistical probability of an uncaused cause existing, an uncaused cause is inevitable and necessary for the following reasons:

  1. Everything that begins to exist is either caused by another, self-caused, or uncaused. These three exhaust all the alternatives.
  2. The first cause cannot be caused by another, for A) such would result in an infinite regress, which is impossible, and B) because of A) a first cause is needed, and a first cause being caused by another is an absurdity.
  3. The first cause cannot be self-caused because it would then need to exist before it existed, which is an absurdity.
  4. Therefore the first cause must be uncaused.

This is a necessary conclusion, not a contingent one, and statistical probability has nothing to do with it. There must be a first, uncaused cause. Even many atheists believe that something is uncaused and eternal, they merely say that it’s the matter in the universe, not God.

So the question was whether it is easier to believe in an uncaused cause or a big bang. As we have shown, a big bang is compatible with the Biblical account of creation. The question seems to pose the two against each other, which is not necessary.  The cosmological arguments for the existence of God do indeed conclude that God is an uncaused cause, but this has nothing to do with whether or not there was a big bang. The two are not exclusive.  We hold to both an uncaused cause as the origin of the universe, and a big bang, because the evidence and reason points to both.

As to whether they are statistically impossible, both claim to be one-time historical events. From a purely mathematical perspective, any one-time historical event would have the same statistical likelihood as any other: in all the moments of history, they only happened once. Further, theists often pose to atheists the argument against the statistical probabilities of such things as unguided processes producing a habitable planet, DNA molecules, and the platypus. Many things are so statistically improbable as to be unreasonable that they happened by unguided natural forces, yet the atheist simply scoffs and responds with the fact that the event is here, so however improbable, it happened.

Further, as to any natural forces producing a big bang, the physicists do not seem to have any solid clues as to what may have come prior to the big bang to produce it. Therefore it is pure speculation to propose any theory of whether or not the big bang was an inevitable result of natural forces. Without such, probabilities are meaningless.

 

Conclusion

In the end, the claims in the Bible about God creating the world are proven true and trustworthy. Further, none of the questions in the original query are essential in the sense that being wrong about them would disprove God or the truth of the Bible.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Apologetics | 6 Comments

Do We Get Our Identity From God Or From Nature?

Question: 1) How much of a person’s identity is uniquely God-given, and how much is merely a combination of genes and environmental factors? Also, 2) how do we know that a human is not merely a highly sophisticated animal? 

Response: These questions seem to imply that if we can fully explain a person based on DNA and environmental factors, we have no need for God. We know this is not true, for if God does not exist, then only matter exists, shaped by pure chemistry and physics. In such a world there would be no abstract thoughts such as the questions given in this post. In a purely material world, we would be the result of natural forces, never able to overcome the external forces that shapes us. But our experience and our reason tells us this is not true. (For longer explanations of this, see here and here and here. )

Further, the biggest assumption in the first question seems to be built upon an either/or fallacy, namely that personality is either given directly by God or it is genetic and environmental. Personality could very well be developed by God using genetics and environmental factors. Certainly a Biblical case could be made that God uses circumstances to develop a person’s character, test one’s faithfulness, and teach us that He is dependable and wise. Theologians refer to God’s providence, which is where He works out situations through circumstances to achieve His will and His purposes. So we are safe in concluding that God brings experiences into our lives to shape us.

But Christians are more than that. The New Testament tells us that we are regenerated, that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As new creatures in Christ we have new desires, new purposes, new goals. Many Christians can give testimony that the Bible is correct in that in the new birth, they have a change of direction, a new set of wants and desires.

How much is genes and environment versus direct intervention of God? The apostle Paul tells us even he had a struggle between the old and the new. Paul gives a vivid description in the last part of Romans 7. As Christians, we are both our old self and our new, awaiting the ultimate day when we are redeemed both in body and soul.

As to humans and animals, we know that humans are highly sophisticated animals. The point is that we are not merely and only sophisticated animals. We are told this in the Bible when it says that we are created in the image of God. Animals follow instinct and do not have control over their passions without external training by people. As Vernon McGee once said, if we ever see a monkey on his knees in repentance, then we can take them more seriously as compared to humans.

Posted in Apologetics, Uncategorized | 3 Comments