Who Can Help Us Out of Our Confusion Over Trans?

The modern trend toward trans-ing things seems to be continuing. Not content to be transgender, now we have transracial. The first well-known person to identify as another ethnicity than the body they are in was Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who was working at the NAACP as a black woman. When it came out that her parents were both of white European decent, she was fired.

We now have the case of a white male born as Adam, who changed his name to Ja Du and is telling everyone that he is actually Filipino (see the story here). Since he thinks he is internally a Filipino, why, we should have no hesitation to consider him one.

We must be very careful, since modern liberals tell us that it is a moral crime to, on one hand, reject a person’s internal identity, and equally horrible to appropriate someone else’s culture. If I merely like Filipino food and open a Filipino restaurant, the liberals are quick to call me morally reprehensible for stealing someone else’s cultural identity. But if I am internally Filipino, then it is a crime to not accept me for what I claim to be internally.  It is so hard these days to satisfy the social justice warriors.

The social justice warriors appear confused. Some of them tell us there is a fundamental difference between a person’s gender identity and their racial identity. They tell us that we should accept a transgender person but reject a transracial person. Why is this so? Well, because it just is. Their sophistry against transracial claimants never seems to give many reasons other than we ought not confuse the two.

So now have a fairly good list of people whose internal mental state does not align with external reality:

  • 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 people who believe they are male or female even though they are biologically the other gender.
  • Ja Du, the white man who believes he is Filipino.
  • The man who was born Richard Hernandez, who claims to have changed to a transgendered female, who then now changed himself into a reptile.
  • 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 natural born biological man locked into a psychiatric hospital who believed he was pregnant.

So now we have enough specific examples to ask a legitimate question: How long should society go along with someone whose internal mental state does not align with reality? To be consistent and fair, we cannot fire Rachel Dolezal from her job while accepting and encouraging transgendered people. How can we be consistent?

In the midst of our quandary we are referred to a certain Dr. Stacey Scheckner. Being a licensed psychologist, she is somehow qualified to tell society what we should accept morally. She tells us that we should consider “who they really feel inside” and “life is about finding out who you are. The more knowledge you have of yourself, the happier you can be.”

Rather, there is a much more sensible approach. If someone’s internal mental state does not align with reality, we should help them to align their mental state with what is real. In actual fact, a person born white is not of African or Filipino decent. And a person born male is not female, no matter what their internal mental state is.

A much better source of guidance comes from the Bible, which has more than a little to say about the human condition. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we cannot know ourselves fully, and if we did, we would not like what we find there. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The most deceived person is the self-deceived person. What modern social justice warriors, psychologists, and liberals should realize is that all people are confused in their inner being. Searching inside a sick person is not the place to find health. Rather, to cure the sick we must look to a healthy person, even a physician. Jesus is called the Great Physician, and has the cure for the human condition: creating us as a new person from the inside out.

Left to ourselves, we are all confused and without a moral compass. When we look to the wisdom of the ages in the Bible, we find that we have a sure moral guidance. Jesus tells us that He will direct our path.

 

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Does Secular Historian Josephus Give Historical Corroboration to the New Testament?

Flavius Josephus was a historian in first century Rome. Of Jewish heritage, he was commissioned by the Romans to write a history of the Jewish people. Josephus mentions Jesus in two passages, one very brief and a second in more detail.

The first passage merely mentions that the Jewish officials brought to trial “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.” (Antiquities 20.9.1). This passage corroborates the facts that Jesus existed, James existed, they were brothers, and Jesus was called Christ.

The second passage is longer and more detailed. It speaks of Jesus being “a doer of wonderful works,” “he was the Christ,” Pilate had condemned him to the cross, and “he appeared to them alive the third day.”(Antiquities 18.3.3)

This second passage is so detailed, in fact, that skeptics and critics are motivated to claim it is a forgery inserted into Josephus’ text by Christians in later years after Josephus died. Other than the fact that the passage is so strongly in favor of the historicity of Jesus, the skeptics have little evidence. All manuscripts of Josephus include this passage in some form.

One support for this passage is that church historian Eusebius quotes it in his history of the church. For the claim of forgery to hold, the writings of Josephus would have to have been corrupted very early, earlier than Eusebius, who wrote in the 300’s, and some early manuscripts of Eusebius exist from the 400’s and 600’s AD. The burden of proof lies with the skeptic, who is saddled with presenting more evidence than merely claiming it is too good to be true.

Even if we delete the longer passage in Josephus, his writings contain a strong corroboration for the New Testament.  Often lost is that Josephus also mentions John the Baptist:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, who was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism.” (Antiquities 18.5.2)

This passage corroborates the New Testament account of John the Baptist, who indeed was preaching righteousness and baptism and was slain by Herod. This is a significant secular corroboration of New Testament facts. Notably this historical support comes from the pen of Josephus, who was writing a history not favorable to Christians but somewhat favorable to Rome, who had hired Josephus to write. Historical corroboration from an antagonistic source is especially telling.

Josephus also corroborates the existence of Herod’s wife, Herodius, Herod’s brother Philip, and their relationship, as mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (Antiquities, 18.5.1)

Further support for the New Testament is found when Josephus lists the books of the Bible. In his work Against Apion (1.8), Josephus supports the Protestant view of the Old and New Testaments against the Roman Catholic view, giving 39 books of the Protestant Old Testament. Catholic and Protestant questions aside, Josephus nevertheless supports that early Jews and Christians held to the same Bible as we do today.

The more evidence that is amassed, the more difficult it is for the skeptic to claim that it was all created by overzealous church leaders who corrupted the text. Rather, the passages have the ring of truth.

In summary, the longer passage claims:

  • a doer of great works
  • was the Christ
  • Pilate exists
  • Jesus was condemned by Pilate
  • rose again the third day

The other passages claim:

  • Jesus existed
  • James existed
  • they were brothers
  • Jesus was called Christ.
  • the Bible exists the books as it does today
  • John the Baptist existed
  • John preached baptism and righteousness
  • Herod existed
  • Herod’s brother Philip existed
  • Herod’s wife was Herodius
  • Herod took his brother’s wife

Again, the more the secular historian Josephus aligns with the Bible, the harder it is to simply brush away the whole thing with a wave of the skeptic’s wand. Rather, the Bible has the ring of true eyewitness accounts.

Posted in Apologetics, Church History | 2 Comments

Modern Sex: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

As I write this, Hugh Hefner has recently died. He was the founder of Playboy magazine, the first magazine to feature nude women on prominent display. He started the magazine in 1953, when views of sex were much more puritan and traditional than today. He once was quoted as saying that he wanted to take sex out of the bedroom and bring it into the living room. He used a little too much force, for today sex has gone through the living room, out the door, into the street, and into the gutter.

Hefner was recently quoted by National Public Radio as saying that romance was an illusion, some wisp of human invention. Such a conclusion is no surprise, for once we focus on the sex for sex’s sake, then all else becomes tiresome. The book of Proverbs gives a lot of advice for a man to stay away from the sexual temptress, but Hefner and his followers made sex as open and frequent as they could. Two generations after Playboy started, we have more sex than ever, but less satisfaction. Hefner was as sexed as anyone, yet realized this lack of satisfaction and concluded that romance was not possible.

Since Hefner pushed over the first domino generations ago, modern culture has turned backwards-turvy over sex. The day that the supreme court announced a redefinition of marriage by allowing homosexuals to marry, there were naked women getting their bodies painted on the steps of the New York Public Library. Just a few days after Hefner died, the US National Park Service has agreed to allow a 45-foot tall statue of a naked woman be placed on the national mall. Better hurry, it will only be there four months, and apparently there is no place else to see a naked woman, so she has to be 45-foot tall next to the Washington Monument. Why? The promoters tell us it is “to promote women’s equality,” as if two generations after Playboy made images of naked women commonly available, women still need to be naked in public to be equal.

What all playboys and nude-in-public women of equality have not learned is that romance is indeed possible. If we hold sex to where God intended it, between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage, then we can make the relationship something special and even sacred. We cannot make romance something special if we display the naked human form as commonly as breathing, for nothing common can be special.

“Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)

 

 

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Marriage Has Now Been Redefined to Mean Nothing

We now see that people are marrying themselves. The latest is a woman in Italy, although it seems to be increasingly common. See the news story here.

We now see that marriage has come to mean nothing. This woman has married herself….I suppose she gave vows to herself, and promised to not cheat on herself. The advocates of plural marriage are across town telling us that any combination of sexes and quantities can come together and call themselves a marriage. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus is still screaming about “marriage equality” at her concerts…..between curse words, that is.

While our culture has worked itself down to a new low, it has managed to redefine marriage to include everything, in which case it means nothing. This is precisely what traditional marriage advocates were warning about.

It was just the other day I heard someone in the news seriously advocating that a legal parent now be defined as “anyone who intends to raise the child.” When we lose the definition of marriage, and lose the definition of parent, what is left to hold together?

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Did Monotheism Evolve from Primitive Religions?

When studying the history of religion, the question sometimes arises whether religion has evolved over time. Did religions start out as primitive, then slowly develop into more complex beliefs? Did religion start out as animism or polytheism, then change to monotheism? Did primitive peoples start with beliefs that had mysterious spiritual forces acting like people, such as Greek gods, then slowly develop, along with society, toward a complex monotheistic god?  The general accusation is that religions such as Christianity grew over time out of more simple, early religious beliefs, as sort of social Darwinism in the religious realm.

The solution, of course, is to studying the beliefs of indigenous  peoples.  In The Religions of the American Indians (A. Hultkrantz; M. Setterwall, trans., Los Angeles; University of California Press, 1979) the author surveys the beliefs of native tribes before westerners influenced them. A couple of significant findings are worth noting.

First, the tribes had some significant variation in their beliefs.  Therefore we must be very cautious when trying to make statements that apply to every single one of these people groups. This alone will sink the questions at hand, for with a variation of beliefs comes a great hindrance to the idea that they all evolved in the same direction toward one type of religion.

Second, and more importantly, some of the so-called “primitive” religions are quite complex and similar to how the Bible presents God. As Hultkrantz puts it, “Characteristic of the Fuegian religion is the position of the Supreme Being, which is in many respects a central one.”(p.18) The author goes on to list the characteristics of how this people group viewed the Supreme Being, who had the following characteristics:

  • the old, eternal one
  • unchangeable
  • invisible
  • ruler of the world
  • grantor of life and death
  • provides food for man’s sustenance
  • not present in mythology
  • establisher of ethics
  • presides over rituals in the tribe
  • ruler of all existence
  • receiver of prayers
  • able to respond to tribal needs, such as food, weather, and health
  • owner of all that exists
    (p.18)

Granted, there are differences in Christianity and what this particular group believed about the Supreme Being, such as whether God created the world. But the list above is sufficient to support that early peoples were sometimes complex monotheists. It is also sufficient to prove the point made in Romans 1:20:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature, so that they are without excuse.

The divine attributes in the list above reads surprisingly similar to that found in many Christian theology texts. The Christian texts go much further in defining God, of course, but that the list parallels Christian theology is undeniable.

The support for the Biblical view is further supported in Hultkrantz’ work. The author states that a single supreme God is “a well-known theme” in the history of the religions that were studied (p.22). The Algonkin tribes even list the Supreme Being as “He who created us through his thought.” (p.23).

A wise person would do well to believe what Romans 1 has already told us, that by nature mankind knows that there is a ruler of the world, He gives us ethical laws, and that violating these laws is a crime against Him.

 

 

Posted in Theology, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Some Works on Evolution Worth Reading

Evolutionary biologists have, since Darwin, held that random mutations are filtered by natural selection to produce the biological life that we now see. Since Darwin they have spoken in generalities, assuming that the mutations at the sub-cell level are actually happening across almost innumerable generations. In modern times, the sciences have not only begun to be able to measure such changes, but more profoundly, the mathematicians have begun to apply standard modeling to biology. Philosophers are also not playing friendly to the evolutionists. The result is somewhat troubling for the Neo-Darwinist. Several writers have gotten quite a bit of attention.

Arguably the most profound was Thomas Nagel’s landmark work, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly Wrong.  What makes Nagel’s work so important is that Nagel is a committed atheist and cannot be accused of bringing religion into the discussion. “I believe true appreciation for the difficulty of the problem must eventually change our conception of the place of the physical sciences in describing the natural order.”(p.3) “The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes.” (p.5)

David Berlinski, with a PhD from Princeton and having done good academic work in molecular biology, is a secular Jew. He cannot be explained away as a raving lunatic creationist. Berlinski states:

Why should a limited and finite organ such as the human brain have the power to see into the heart of matter or mathematics? These are subjects that have nothing to do with the Darwinian business of scrabbling up the greasy pole of life. It is as if the liver, in addition to producing bile, were to demonstrate a unexpected ability to play the violin. This is a question that Darwinian biology has not yet answered.

On the mathematical side, two dozen papers presented at a Cornell symposium were published in Biological Information: New Perspectives (World Scientific, 2013). One of them was titled Limits of Chaos and Progress in Evolutionary Dynamics by William F. Basener. In it, the author claims “The mathematics is basic topology and the theorems we prove are quite simple; they could be basic homework exercises in an upper level undergraduate course in dynamical systems. However, the insights resulting from the application do not seem to be generally known or understood in the study of evolutionary dynamics, either in theory or application.”(p.91) His paper shows:

Our first conclusion is that chaos and nonlinear dynamical system contribute nothing to the ongoing increase in complexity of evolutionary fitness of biological systems. . . . Second, the evolutionary process driven by mutation-selection, in both mathematical models and directly observed behavior, is that of a system going to an equilibrium and staying there. . . There is nothing inherent in the fitness-driven mathematical system that leads to ongoing progress . . .” (p.101)

A new work by mathematicians has laid a significant challenge at the feet of the evolutionist. Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics by Marks, Dembski, Ewart, explores the field of possible mathematical explanations for biological evolution, and claims there are no viable mathematical explanations.

For years evolutionists could speak in generalities about mutations happening, and could do so without much question as long as they stayed on the level of species. But once the DNA started being actually measured, the theories began to have trouble. Biologists predicted that billions of mutations would leave an animal’s DNA with a good deal of “junk DNA” But the ENCODE project mapped a large portion of human DNA and proved just the opposite. What was previously held to be useless, trash DNA turned out to be complex  biological code that has a purpose.

Michael Behe’s book The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, is interesting in that Behe has claimed at times to be a theistic evolutionist. Nevertheless, in this book he explores a biological system that is wide and deep: how malaria has responded against vaccines. The study is interesting in that it can be done on huge populations over a very long period of time and mathematically measured. Behe’s case is that the math shows that standard evolution can accomplish quite little.

These authors, plus those of noted academics like Alvin Plantinga, Stephen Meyer, and John Lennox, have made a significant challenge to the wall that biologists have erected. Those of us that study the logic of arguments can go all the way back to law professor Phillip E. Johnson’s 1991 book Darwin on Trial to find that when the curtain of scientism is pulled back, the evolutionists resort to leaps of logic and ad hominem arguments. Even better, get Johnson’s work Reason in the Balance where he systematically dismantles the flawed conclusions of the evolutionists as only a tenured law professor could.

Any fair-minded student of science would be wise to recognize that their are emotional biases on all sides that shape the conclusions. Any fair-minded student would also be wise to read some of the authors presented here and weigh their arguments with an open mind.

Posted in Apologetics, Evolution | 1 Comment

In the Flood of Noah, Did God Fail to Eliminate Evil?

This is another in a series of questions on the Bible.

Question: The Bible says that God flooded the earth to remove evil. If this is true, He failed, for evil is still here. In fact, evil never went away, for immediately after the flood, Noah got drunk.

In response, we must first realize that even if the account of the flood is as this question suggests, it does not argue against whether God exists or whether the Bible is true. Just because we might not understand why God does things, we still have good evidence that He exists and that the Bible is trustworthy.

Second, this falls into “why?” questions, and we will never know exactly why God does anything. We often do not know why we do things ourselves, so we, as finite minds, will not know the exact purposes of an infinite mind. God still has a rational, reasonable purpose for what He does, even if we do not understand it. A child does not understand why the parents do things, even though the parents have good, logical purposes for what they do.

Third, as is often the case, a simple comparing of the question to the passage in the Bible gives us the answer. The question is incorrect, for the Bible does not say that God flooded the earth to remove evil. Rather, Genesis 6:6-8 tell us that God flooded the earth to destroy people because He was grieved at the evil that humans had done. God, who is pure and holy, was repulsed by the evil in the world, and destroyed the people who had done evil. In God’s grace, He found favor with Noah and allowed him to live. The Bible never says that God wanted to destroy all evil in the flood with a goal of removing evil forever. Rather, it says that God judged the people of that day because of the specific evil that they did.

Fourth, the skeptic often puts God into an impossible paradox. If God allows some evil to continue, then questions like this one criticize God for not stopping evil. If God were to stop evil, such as when God commands the death of the Canaanites, the skeptic complains that God is unjust for doing so.

In the end, God is both just in punishing evil and loving for allowing fallible people like Noah to live. God, as the righteous judge, promises to make everything right in the end. He will someday punish all evil completely and reward all righteousness.

Lastly, this question recognizes that evil exists. It then grants the first premise of the moral argument for the existence of God.  The fact that we can call anything in the world evil means that we have a standard of good and evil by which to measure the world. This standard cannot be in the world, but must be outside of the world, for if it were in the world we would not be able to measure the world by it.  If God did not exist, then we are reduced to what atheists like Richard Dawkins claim, namely that there is no evil nor good in the universe. But since there is evil and good in the universe, we have an external standard by which to measure the universe. This we call God.

 

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