Friday, March 31, 2006
According to atheist evolutionist scientist Richard Dawkins yes. The following is an article from worldnet daily talking about Dawkins show "The Root of All Evil" (religion):
Controversial scientist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins, dubbed "Darwin's Rottweiler," calls religion a "virus" and faith-based education "child abuse" in a two-part series he wrote and appears in that begins airing on the UK's Channel 4, beginning tomorrow evening.
Entitled "Root of All Evil?," the series features the atheist Dawkins visiting Lourdes, France, Colorado Springs, Colo., the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and a British religious school, using each of the venues to argue religion subverts reason.
In "The God Delusion," the first film in the series, Dawkins targets Catholicism at the pilgrimage site in Lourdes. "If you want to experience the medieval rituals of faith, the candle light, the incense, music, important-sounding dead languages, nobody does it better than the Catholics," he says.
Dawkins, using his visit to Colorado Springs' New Life Church, criticizes conservative U.S. evangelicals and warns his audience of the influence of "Christian fascism" and "an American Taliban."
The backdrop of the al-Aqsa mosque and an American-born Jew turned fundamentalist Muslim who tells Dawkins to prepare for the Islamic world empire – and who clashes with him after saying he hates atheists – rounds out the first program's case for the delusions of the faithful.
In part two, "The Virus of Faith," Dawkins attacks the teaching of religion to children, calling it child abuse.
"Innocent children are being saddled with demonstrable falsehoods," he says. "It's time to question the abuse of childhood innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation. Isn't it weird the way we automatically label a tiny child with its parents' religion?"
"Sectarian religious schools," Dawkins asserts, have been "deeply damaging" to generations of children.
Dawkins, who makes no effort to disguise his atheism and contempt for religion, focuses on the Bible, too.
"The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist," he says. Dawkins then criticizes Abraham, compares Moses to Hitler and Saddam Hussein, and calls the New Testament "St Paul's nasty, sado-masochistic doctrine of atonement for original sin."
John Deighan, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, took issue with Dawkin's denunciation of religion, telling the Glasgow Sunday Herald, "Dawkins is well known for his vitriolic attacks on faith, and I think faith has withstood his attacks. He really is going beyond his abilities as a scientist when he starts to venture into the field of philosophy and theology. He is the guy with demonstrable problems."
Madeline Bunting, a columnist for the Guardian, who reviewed the series, wrote: "There's an aggrieved frustration that [atheist humanists] have been short-changed by history – we were supposed to be all atheist rationalists by now. Secularization was supposed to be an inextricable part of progress. Even more grating, what secularization there has been is accompanied by the growth of weird irrationalities from crystals to ley lines. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, the problem when people don't believe in God is not that they believe nothing, it is that they believe anything."
Dawkins, perhaps best known for his much-cited comment that evolution "made it possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist," appeals to John Lennon in a commentary he authored for the Belfast Telegraph on the eve of his program's premiere: "Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it is a serious contender. Even so it could be justified, if only its claims were true. But they are undermined by science and reason. Imagine a world where nobody is intimidated against following reason, wherever it leads. "You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one."
The problem with Dawkins statements about what is morally right and wrong for people to do is that any moral statement he may make is wholly arbitrary. One can equally be justified and say that to raise one's children in an atheist evolutionist home is child abuse. My point is that these are just statements, but are based upon nothing at all except Dawkins' fancy. Dawkins' show "The Root of All Evil" labels religion (all of it) as one of the greatest contributor to social disorder in history. Dawkins cites the Protestant/Catholic controversy in Ireland, Muslim suicide bombers, and of course the crusades to show that religion is the root of evil. Well I firstly would ask where does Dawkins get his standard of what is right and wrong? Who's to say that suicide bombing isn't actually "good"? I don't think Dawkins or any atheist really has an answer for where they get their standard of what actions are morally right and which are wrong.
The only response to the above question I have heard atheists make is "That which harms the happiness of people is wrong." Only problem is that this statement too is arbitrary. Some people derive happiness from harming others so to tell them they can not harm others is to deny them their happiness. This is what morality is reduced to when we remove God from the picture, just arbitrary statements with no real truth value just the whimsical dogmas of some "expert elite".
I still find it odd that Dawkins is a biologist yet he seems to speak more on religion than upon his area of biology, it seems to me that darwinism is Dawkins religion and he is fighting the competitors. In response to level the plain I would say bad ideas is the root of all evil. Take evolution at the turn of the 20th century, because of this theory Australian aborigines were planned to be eugenically bred out for their own good. If a mixed child would be found he/she would be taken from their parents and put in a boarding school with the hope that they would eventually procreate with a caucasion thus over time get the bad aborigine traits eliminated from society. This is one example of what bad thinking around evolution can do I can cite more like the pygmy who was taken from Africa and put in a cage next to a chimpanzee with the label over his cage "The missing link". The point is that if you are going to throw muk at religion for bad things that happened in the name of God and proudly boast of your atheist evolutionary view you need to look at the skeletons in your own closet.
Ultimately in the Bible we as Christians have a standard of right and wrong, a standard which says the crusades were wrong for example. The bible gives answers to the question "How should we then live?" where a non theistic view leaves man to arbitrarily decide what is right and wrong.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I) Weak Verification:
A popular way in which non-scientific theories pass as scientific is "Weak verification". By verification I mean a person lays out theory "A" and says:
1) If theory "A" is true then we should see hypotheses"B",
2) We find "B" therefore
3) Theory "A" is very probably true
Now this may seem as though it is a sensible way to go about things and indeed it is logical. Many theories' hypotheses are tested using such methods. A problem arises when there is no way in which hypotheses "B" can not be found to be true this I call "weak verification". Take for example Freudian psychology, Karl Popper writes:
"The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations." As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, 1 reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analyzing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousandfold experience," he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this newcase, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold."What I had in mind was that his previous observations may not have been much sounder than this new one; that each in its turn had been interpreted in the light of"previous experience," and at the same time counted as additional confirmation. What, I asked myself, did it confirm? No more than that a case could be interpreted in the light of the theory. "
What Popper is getting at is that no matter the circumstances Freud and Adler have an psychologized explanation of the person being examined that fits perfectly into the theory thus "confirming" the theory. To put it in my own words take psychologized egoism, there is no behaviour that does not fit into the theory. What about helping an old lady cross the road? The theorist can answer "Actually that is egocentric too, look at the helper's motives possibly good feelings from helping, or atention from on lookers." Do we see what is happening? The theory has an explanation for every behavior making the behavior square perfectly with the theory.
It is my contention that much of the same sort of "weak verification" is employed to prop up evolution theory, at least in part. I cite for example the common ancestry theses of evolution. This states that all of life came from the same source, and given time, mutation, and natural selection has produced the wide array we now see (Dogs, whales, cats, chimps, alligators, flowers, bumble bees, trees, and humans). All of the things I listed share a common ancestor according to this theses. Evidence given for example is the striking similarities between human and Chimpanzee DNA over 98% identical. Thus we have strong evidence for common ancestry theses.
I disagree, for the same reasons Popper rejects the Freudian egoism theses. I think that if Chimp/human DNA were 90% alike this would be used to support common ancestry as would 75%. When a theses is accepted it is easy to go about and point to things that allegedly verify its truthfulness. The problem with the 98% identical DNA being supportive of common ancestry is that it is subjectively interpreted data. One could equally look at it and say "Wow God used similar blueprints in His creation." Also a good rule of thumb is to remember that statistics are misleading. 98% identical sounds radically close. If someone said my brother and I looked 98% identical you would think that they meant apart from a mole or two we looked identical, and this would make sense. However, when you are talking about DNA 2% difference is huge, thus the percent needs to be weighed relatively to what it is describing.
(This is the difference 2% DNA separation makes, a world of difference!)
II) Some Final thoughts
Before I move on from evolution I just want to make clear that I in these last 3 posts have NOT proven evolution to be false, I have merely exposed some bad arguments used to justify and defend evolution. Ultimately we need to look at the evidence and consider what it points to. I for one have not been too impressed by drawings of half ape men in caves with clubs who are supposedly links between human and apes. I would be impressed if they found some fossil remains, not only of humans and ape links, but multiple other species and their ancestors. Not only that how about some intermediaries when the first arms were slowly being developed over time? There really should be plenty of this stuff if evolution is indeed an accurate description of origins, yet there seems to be a lack of its discovery. To be fair I think there are problems with the Intelligent Design arguments like I said in the last post, namely it is basically a "god of the gaps" argument. Many have picked up on this and asked why does "god" have to be the intelligent designer why not the "Flying Spaghetti Monster"? (there is an actual FSM page) I think this criticism is correct. That is why I personally don't think ID is the way to go. There is no "god of the gaps" problem when you begin with God and His word. Rather, I think evolution is a gap filler for a philosophy without God as the starting point.
When we begin with God and His revealed truth we enjoy a freedom the naturalist does not enjoy. This brings me back to my point of methodological naturalism which I think drives much of the rhetoric of "science vs religion" in our day. To restate the issue, methodological naturalism says the only right answers you can have in the scientific endeavor are naturalistic ones, to quote Alvin Plantinga on this:
"Judgements here, of course, may differ widely between believer in God and non-believers in God. What for the former is at best a methodological restriction is for the latter the sober metaphysical truth: her naturalism is not merely provisional and methodological, but, as she sees it, settled and fundamental. But believers in God see the matter differently. The believer in God, unlike her naturalistic counterpart, is free to look at the evidence for the Grand Evolutionary Scheme and follows it where it leads, revising that scheme if the evidence is insufficient. She has a freedom not available to the naturalist. The latter accepts the Grand Evolutionary Scheme because from a naturalistic point of view this scheme is the only visible answer to the question what is the explanation of the presence of all these marvelously multifarious forms of life? The Christian, on the other hand, knows that creation is the Lord's; and she isn't blinkered by a priori dogmas as to how the Lord must have accomplished it. Perhaps it was by broadly evolutionary means, but then again perhaps not. At the moment, 'perhaps not' seems the better answer."
Plantinga's point is that the Atheist is bound to a naturalistic explanation of the origins of life, where as it is not necessarily the case for the believer. The believer can be open to a theistic evolution view as well as a special creation view of life's origins, the believer is the one who is truly free when it comes to this issue.
That being said I find it highly unlikely that life's' origins are explained by evolution theory based upon what evidence I do know of. Again I think evolution represents an ideology that is anti-christian, again I know it doesn't have to be (theistic evo) however, it is indeed used as a God supplanter in philosophy. Again I refer to Augustine's description of a battle between the City of God and the City of the world, and say I stand against evolution not because it necescarily undermines Gods existance per se, but men are going to hell believing evolution is accurate and there is no God to whom they will give an account. Men's eternal souls are at stake here.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I) Responses to "Irreducible complexity" arguments:
Irreducible complexity arguments are pretty straight forward, certain things by their complex makeup show that time and slight mutations to bring them about is very unlikely. The example of the eye is used often. The problem is that the eye and all the different parts operation are dependent upon the proper operation of one another. What good is an optic nerve without a retina, or a retina without lenses? Not much. Of course the evolutionists have answers for this they seem to be much like Darwins when writing on this very subject:
"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. "
Now Darwin does not stop there people trying to refute evolution often slap a bunch of Darwin quotes together out of context to show Darwin doubted his own theory. I say so what if Darwin did doubt his own theory? This doesn't disprove evolution, and it is kind of underhanded. Rather attack an argument at it's "strong points" I say. Darwin Goes on to say:
"Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. "
There is the other half of what Darwin said. I hate it when people misrepresent my position on things so I will try not to do it to others. All I have to say in response to part 2 of Darwins statement is "Nice statement, can you prove it?" Of course not. What is being said by Darwin as well as those trying to respond to ID's irreducible complexity argument is simply question begging. They answer the issue being challenged by only affirming the point in challenge. Basically this is what is being said: "It indeed seems quite unlikely that evolution can give an account of the eye but I think it does through time and selective mutations." Ok...My point in raising this issue is to ask can evolution be refuted empirically? What evidence is needed to show that the theory evolution is an inadequate description for the origins of life? I don't think there are any, thus the theory of evolution will remain perfectly safe.
b) Further examples of how evolution theory can not be falsified:
The claim is often made that for something to be science it must be falsifiable. In other words there must be a hypotheses which if not met the theory very probably is not true. With evolution I think we have a case and point example of a theory which has no fasifiable hypotheses'. When Darwinism became accepted as true many scientists eagerly anticipated the discovery of the "missing link". Indeed many "missing links" were found. To be short the track record is pretty poor, with such shameful assertions like "Nebraska man" which turned out to be nothing more than a single tooth. Not only a single tooth but a pig's tooth at that. Such "discoveries" as "pildown man", "Lucy", even the "Neanderthal" have all been based on sloppy research and proven to be less that genuine links between man and apes. It is because of this that it is now said that we don't expect to find a fossil specimen between man and ape. That's interesting considering the cock sure attitude of early Darwinists.
As I stated before in regards to the human eye, the same responses are often given to questions of blood clotting. The ID supporters often will say "How can blood clotting be reached by natural selection? If your blood doesn't clot and you will innevitably bleed to death." In response the answer generally is actually evolution can give account for blood clotting, given time mutations in blood and natural selection (ie those with the clotting trait surviving over those who do not). As I said above this is simply question begging and a logical fallacy. The point of the irreducible complexity arguments is to show that it certainly seems as though there is a mind behind the complexity we see. I say either this natural law called evolution is brilliant (knowing which traits to add for survival ex: "Gosh a longer neck sure would be helpful..." 1 billion years later a Giraffe) or there is a designer behind the things we now see. There may be some problems with the way ID argues, doing "God of the gaps" arguments as many say, which I think is true unless you bring the Bible in as authoratative. My main point here is again to further show that evolution is not falsifiable, and therefore Not testable.
II) Ad populum or "bandwagon" fallacy:
It is often said in response to ID and CS that the vast majority of scientists hold evolution to be fact. This message is often coupled with the accusation that the reason why ID and CS refuse to conform is because of religious bias. The fact that almost every scientist believes in evolution is trumpeted in nearly all articles I read regarding this issue. Again this is a "So what." scenario. It doesn't necessarily follow that because the majority believes something that it is true. For example scientists once nearly unanimously held that Newtonian mechanics were an accurate description of how the universe operated. However, Newton's theory was later found to be flawed and replaced by Einstein's. As the saying goes might does not make right.
III) Those Fundamentalists! (Ad Hominem arguments)
Of course the most tried and true method of debating has been and will continue to be name calling (ad hominem). "Religious Fundamentalist" is the label of labels in our day to shut the Christians out of the debate. By calling a Christian the "F" word the opponent is saying they are dealing with an unreasonable person (of course this is a far cry from the true meaning of fundamentalist). So it is in the debate over ID. The Discovery Institute, who I never heard of until I began looking more into this debate is seen as the ID group. Discovery is a Seattle based think tank of scientists who are proponents of ID. One of the most frequent charges against them and ID in general is the accusation of religious bias. ID unlike CS does not rely on the bible to form it's arguments, partly because ID backers think this gives more of an air of science around what they do. Unfortunately much to the chagrin of Darwinists many ID backers are evangelical Christians. And much of the funding for the Discovery Institute comes from "fundamentalists"! I bet many of the fundamentalists are republican too...the rabbit hole just keeps on going...
These facts are brought up repeatedly as if they in themselves disprove the theory of ID. I would be willing to wager that most backers of Darwinism are Atheists. I would also be willing to wager that their research is funded by Atheists (at least what is donated). None of this is evidence to support evolution as opposed to ID or CS theories. It becomes more clear to me that the success of evolution has not nearly as much to do with supposed overwhelming evidence but rather the philosophy/behind it, namely a hatred of God.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. " (Rom 1:18)
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools," (Rom 1:21-22)
Men by nature hate God. That's a stunning truth. Men by nature don't want to honor God, they don't want Him in their thoughts, they don't want Him ruling over the earth, and they don't want to have to give an account to Him for their deeds. Thus they suppress the truth of God. Ultimately I think evolution is a manifestation in our day of the truth of these verses. Another form is relativism where God and truth are treated like ice cream pick which flavor you want, that is suppression of the truth.
In the end I think what we see is a battle between the city of God and the city of this world, as Augustine put it. The philosophies of this world will always strive to remove God from His rightful place and thus is constantly at war with the city of God (the church). Again the theory of evolution I think is the backbone of all the anti-Christ philosophies of our own day, for it makes philosophy without God possible.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I) Weighing a Chicken With a Yardstick:
Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason has an excellent article where he addresses how science is basically stacking the deck against theism. Everything must by necessity (for it to be science) be explained in purely naturalistic terms. I agree to a point, for instance we as Christians when asked "How do trees grow?" answer, "God makes em grow", although I think that is theologically correct. We live in a universe with laws, and it is sciences job to explore and define those laws I think, to tell us how trees grow. I mainly disagree about obtaining purely naturalistic conclusions in the area of origins and the transcendent. Questions surrounding God and the origins of the universe as well as questions like "What is a soul?" by very nature can not be explained naturalistically. Therefore to demand only naturalistic answers is to rule many plausible answers out right from the start. As Koukl says:
"It's like trying to weigh a chicken with a yardstick. Yardsticks don't give weight; they give length. If you said your chicken weighed 27 inches, you'd be speaking nonsense. It's called a category error. Yardsticks simply weren't made to do that sort of thing. That's my point. Science, strictly speaking, is not even capable of testing for souls, so how can it disprove the existence of souls? It can't."
The point is that science is incapable by very nature of answering questions about the existence of God and the origin of the universe. What about the popular debate of evolution and creation? Why is there such an outcry against Intelligent Design and Creationism? Hardly a week goes by that I don't see a newspaper/magazine article or political cartoon calling ID stupid. Why is that?
II) Atheist Dogma
I think the answer to why evolution is defended so viciously is because evolution is basically necessary for atheism to be plausible. Now I as a Christian am willing to accept theistic evolution, so for me the truthfulness of evolution really isn't a religious threat. However the atheist I think must defend evolution lest his very religion be shown to be impossible. Alvin Plantinga writes well on this as he says in his article "When Faith and Reason Clash":
"So why all the furor? The answer is obvious: evolution has deep religious connections; deep connections with how we understand ourselves at the most fundamental level. Many evangelicals and fundamentalists see in it a threat to the faith; they don't want it taught to their children, at any rate as scientifically established fact, and they see acceptance of it as corroding proper acceptance of the Bible. On the other side, among the secularists, evolution functions as a myth, in a technical sense of that term: a shared way of understanding ourselves at the deep level of religion, a deep interpretation of ourselves to ourselves, a way of telling us why we are here, where we come from, and where we are going."
The validity of evolution has deep religious implications, namely evolution makes atheism possible. The point is that if that is the case then science is not religiously neutral. Plantinga quotes Richard Dawkins to back the fact that science isn't religiously neutral:
"It was serving in this capacity when Richard Dawkins (according to Peter Medawar, "one of the most brilliant of the rising generation of biologists") leaned over and remarked to A. J. Ayer at one of those elegant, candle-lit, bibulous Oxford dinners that he couldn't imagine being an atheist before 1859 (the year Darwin's Origin of Species was published); "although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin," said he, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
As I said the theory of evolution is necessary for atheism to be true, and Dawkins basically admits that fact in his remarks to Ayer. So to say science is cool and neutral is a mistake I think. To presuppose the only answers one can obtain are naturalistic ones is as I said a stacking of the deck. Thus when ID proponents point to a Designer for the origins of life they are labeled as doing non-science, because their theory about origins is not a purely naturalistic theory and thus in part untestable. But how testable is the theory of evolution? Not very. That is why cases of micro evolution (variety of dog types) are almost always what is cited as evidence in support of evolution. For example bacteria or virus' developing resistances to drugs is often cited to show that theory of evolution is indeed true, one problem whatever developed resistance is still a bacteria or virus. I see that example as something akin to my growing calouses from guitar playing. Ultimately I think the need for evolution to make atheism plausible, makes many completely unwilling to be open to the possiblility of being wrong.
There is still much to be said on this issue in no way have I disproved the theory of evolution rather I am just laying some preliminary work for posts to come. My points are that 1) Science by it's very nature can not prove or disprove the existence of God by its self, it can onlyy speak in hypotheses terms of :"If this than probably this". And 2) Science is by no means a religiously neutral endeavor.
There will certainly be more to come, I will try in coming papers show that evolution is the worst theory ever.
Friday, March 17, 2006
In America St. Patrick's day by and large is just an excuse for justified public intoxication. The day has evolved from being a holy day to remember Patrick, to a celebration of Irish ancestry, to an alcohol free for all. This is somewhat disapointing when one acutally looks at the life of St. Patrick and his zeal to see souls converted to Jesus Christ. It was Patrick that brought the gospel to Ireland, a land where he was previously taken to as a slave. As a college student I am sorrounded by people who glory in their love of drunkenness, so I felt it would be good to post on the man who seems to be forgotten whose life we are supposedly celebrating by getting trashed. Somehow I doubt that Patrick would aprove, nor of course the God He loved. All I will do is quote Patrick's "breastplate" or prayer, it is beautiful, and provide a link to a video on the history channel's web page documenting Patrick's life.
Here is the prayer of St. Patrick:
I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through the belief in the threeness,Through confession of the onenessOf the Creator of Creation.
I arise todayThrough the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise todayThrough the strength of the love of Cherubim,In obedience of angels,In the service of archangels,In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,In prayers of patriarchs,In predictions of prophets,In preaching of apostles,In faith of confessors,In innocence of holy virgins,In deeds of righteous men.
I arise todayThrough the strength of heaven:Light of sun,Radiance of moon,Splendor of fire,Speed of lightning,Swiftness of wind,Depth of sea,Stability of earth,Firmness of rock.
I arise todayThrough God's strength to pilot me:God's might to uphold me,God's wisdom to guide me,God's eye to look before me,God's ear to hear me,God's word to speak for me,God's hand to guard me,God's way to lie before me,God's shield to protect me,God's host to save meFrom snares of devils,From temptations of vices,From everyone who shall wish me ill,Afar and anear,Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,Against incantations of false prophets,Against black laws of pagandomAgainst false laws of heretics,Against craft of idolatry,Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
C hrist to shield me todayAgainst poison, against burning,Against drowning, against wounding,So that there may come to me abundance of reward.Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,Christ on my right, Christ on my left,Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,Christ in every eye that sees me,Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through belief in the threeness,Through confession of the oneness,Of the Creator of Creation.
Patrick's love and dependence upon Christ are clearly seen. To "celebrate" the life of a man who penned such words by intoxication is to dishonor his life I think. To see a brief summary of Patrick's life click here: http://www.historychannel.com/exhibits/stpatricksday/ there is a video clip as well as other informative links about St. Patrick.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
As I said in the last post my reason for responding to Bill Johnson's statements was because he was undermining a truth that is very precious to me, namely that God has a purpose behind the suffering of His saints. The God who is sovereign over the entire world (Dan 4:35), ordains the suffering of His loved ones (Ex: Paul):
"For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 4:35)
This is only half of the story, the other half is the God who sustains His loved ones in the midst of trials that they may rejoice in Him. God is glorified by His saints being satisfied in Him in the midst of affliction. God's grace is promised to be with His own to the end, John Piper speaks of sustaining grace like this:
"It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think
To Spurgeon to say that God had not ordered and designed his sufferings would be to a blow to his spiritual health. He also goes on to say that it is out of his sufferings that he has received the most good.
"One Sabbath morning, I preached from the text, 'My God, My God, why has
I think that this testimony is amazing, the purpose of God in Spurgeons' suffering is so evident. Honestly what place do the Joseph's, Jeremiah's, Hosea's, and Paul's (to name a few) have in a view of God who would never order trials for a greater good? In case there be any doubt to the truth that it is God who orders and designs our trials, John Bunyan gives us a nice list of scriptures showing otherwise:
I think ultimately the fact that God orders our suffering is a great comfort, for He has designed all the details and He is not biting His nails as trials beset His church. Also as Bunyan points out as Christian is in Doubting castle the "key" that unlocked the door and set the prisoners free from the dungeon was "promise" which was located in Christians bosom. The promises of the word stored up within our hearts is a opener of grace upon the suffering saint.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:11-14)
For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. (Heb 10:32-34)
***(Spurgeon and Bunyan quotes taken from DesiringGod)***
Friday, March 10, 2006
"The same misconception about God affecst those who need to have faith for their own miracle. A woman who needed a miracle once told me she believed God had allowed her sickness for a purpose. I told her if I treated my children that way I'd be locked up for child abuse" (p.45 WHIE) Johnson explains the woman eventually sided with him and received healing.
Now like almost every sentence from this book I could address several errors for example the idea that God is waiting to heal we just need to tap in by "faith". I simply want to focus on Johnson's accusation that if God ordains sickness He is a child abuser.
I) We deserve nothing but wrath from God
a)Do we understand what mercy is?
To say that it would be unfair of God to operate in such a way is not a biblical charge but a humanistic man centered one, note that Johnson appeals to human standards to justify that it would be wrong for God to deal in such a way. The biblical view is one in which man has absolutely no grounds upon which to quibble and accuse God of injustice for God is the very embodiment of justice, He is the standard of what is just. As rebels we deserve nothing but judgement from God and any goodness we may enjoy (such as the sun shining on Wisconsin as I write) is sheer mercy. To go to scripture Jacob, as Esau is about to meet him after years of being apart, is terrified and is inspired to pray in this manner:
"O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me 'Return to your country and to your family and I will deal well with you, I am not worthy of the least of your mercies and of all the truth you have shown your servant..." (Gen 32:9-10)
David when he had sinned prayed in this manner:
"Have mercy upon me according to your lovingkndness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." (Ps 51:1)
The very essence of mercy is not getting what we deserve, namely wrath.
Jesus gives an excellent description of mercy when confronted with tragic stories in Israel:
"There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think the were worse sinners than all other men in Jerusalem? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Lk 13:1-5)
The point that Jesus is getting across is that everyone deserves to have their blood mingled with sacrifices and towers fall upon them. These men on which these tragedies occurred were no more deserving of the judgment than those who were listening to Jesus talk. Thus the real question is not "Is it fair for God to allow such things to occur?" The real question is "Is it fair of God to not have the roof crumble upon me as I write these words!" Jesus' point is that we all deserve to come to such ends but it is sheer mercy that we have woken up this day and took in breath. What I am trying to get across is the reality of God's mercy which we take for granted every day, none of us have gotten what we deserve.
Thus the accusation against God of being a child abuser for having a purpose behind our trials and suffering is absurd, for it applies a fallen human standard of Justice to a infinitely perfect God. If we deserve nothing but wrath to begin with, what quibble can we raise if God out of His goodness ordains trials and hardships in the lives of men for a purpose which He alone knows? As I said above God Himself is the standard of justice, no creature can ever rightfully bring a charge against the creator. As Job said "I put my hand over my mouth"(Job 40:4)
What grieves me is that we expect the unsaved to bring charges against God, but when Christian leaders fall right in step with the spirit of the age with its humanistic indictments of God I think it is tragic. People raise the question "Where was God when hurricane Katrina hit?" or "How can God be good when there is so much suffering?" I think these are valid questions for doubters to ask, the problem I have is when Christian leaders cop out to humanistic values and join in the remonstrance against God's justice. Saying things like "God wasn't in this tragedy, it was outside His control, but come trust Him and He will comfort you." Extra-biblical mop-ups to appease the consciences of the unconverted are common (I dealt with some examples in post 1 problems that arise from synergism) but what does the Bible say about God's involvement in suffering and tragedy?
"'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand." (Deut 32:39)
"The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts" (1 Sam 26-7)
"Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him." (Hos 6:1-2)
Looking at these passages I think it is clear that God is in the business of wounding that He might heal. These two things are clear I think, 1. God is in the trials, and 2. The trials God orders have a purpose. These are passages dealing with Israel their trials which God had created, and out of His mercy the trials clearly had a purpose.
II) Purposed Suffering
I think from the above scriptures it is clear that God is sovereign over suffering. I think it is also clear Johnson and all who would bring a charge against God's sovereignty in suffering are imposing a fallen man made/centered standard of justice upon God (another example is Geisler and Pearls' accusation that irresistible grace is rape). The final points I want to make and destroy this theological cyclops, will deal with God's purpose behind suffering.
a)Does God inflict trials/suffering upon His people?
I think I know what Johnson would say in response to this question based upon the quote and the underlying theology I am trying to refute. To go to scripture, As it is written:
"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." (Heb 12:6)
"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent." (Rev 3:19)
It is obvious that the people whom God loves are chastened, but someone who is pretty staunch in the anti-sovereign suffering mindset could say "Well that doesn't seem to talk about suffering maybe chasten merely means correct when we are going off the path." I think that this response is half right. I think that it is absolutely true that discipline is a correction of error. However the correction of lukewarmness may indeed be a suffering trial, which results in heartily crying to God. Luther calls this the 'alien' work of God, it could be as simple as crying babies or lines at the DMV, but the purpose is to reveal our sin to us resulting in hearty repentance.
"But what about pain" one may ask "is God behind sickness?" Lisa responded briefly by pointing us to Paul:
" So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:7-10)
Most scholars believe this thorn to be blindness. The fact that Paul in the midst of the trials saw a purpose of God should tell us how we are to view our own struggles.
b) Means to an end
To give further biblical evidence of the sovereignty of God in suffering is not easy, not easy because there are so many examples to choose from. The two that I think stand out most are the testimonies of Joseph and Christ.
As we know Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers to slave traders and was consequently sold to be a slave in Egypt. Joseph was blessed by God and became the overseer of all that was his master's until his master's wife accused him of rape. Next he was thrown into a dungeon only to later be exalted to the second most powerful man in the world. Joseph later forgives his brothers when they come as beggars before him as it says:
When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him."
"So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died,
'Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen 50:16-20)
The death of Christ of course is the highest example of God's purpose in suffering. Jesus didn't happen to tick the wrong people off and oops the messiah was crucified. No, the death of Christ was designed by God for a purpose.
"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." (Acts 2:23)
For what purpose did Christ suffer?
"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. "
c) Where do Johnson's ideas arise from?
In light of the overwhelming testimony from scripture showing that God is indeed behind our suffering and has a purpose in it, I ask where do Johnson and Christians get these anti-sovereign views of suffering?
I think it is a case in point example of cultural ideas and the spirit of the age interpreting the character of God. Our culture, says Francis Schaeffer, has 2 dominant values: 1.Personal peace and 2.Affluence. We see the church catering directly to these values via health wealth and prosperity teaching. Therefore to have a view of God who orders and designs suffering (the destruction of personal peace) is a monstrosity in our cultural environment. So Christians are left with the options of changing God's involvement in suffering (that He has none) or being counter cultural. And frankly it's easier to tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need (this is the back bone of the emergent church movement).
One more brief thought.....
As I looked over Johnson's book I found error underlying at least half of the sentences I read, but to bring up one more statement of his I found extremely presumptuous he says:
"All of church history is built upon a partial revelation. Everything that has happened in the church over the past 1900 years has fallen short of what the early church had and lost. [...] Yet not even the early church fulfilled what God had intended for His people." (WHIE p.186-187)
Good night! It's a good thing Mr.Johnson is here to set Christianity, which has been sub par since its inception, straight. Am I crazy here or doesn't a statement as sweeping as that reek of presumption and error? He might as well say "The church has always failed because it didn't realize what I realize." Isn't that a little arrogant?
I personally would be very hesitant to call men who bled and died for their testimony of Jesus Christ sub par Christians. I find it very hypocritical that Johnson will make such a pummeling statement on all Christendom yet declare autonomy from criticism of his theology repeatedly throughout the book.
To conclude I haven't given a refutation of Johnson's entire book to do that would take a book in itself due to the mass amounts of error in it. Rather I took up the suffering issue because this issue is precious to me, the fact that my trials have a purpose and that God really is working all to the good of His church is a great comfort. I do pray for healings for sick friends, but I do not demand them from God.
Ultimately I think this verse sums up the right perspective towards trials of all kinds for believers:
"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phi 4:12-13)
John Piper has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he has written an article that fits perfectly with this issue called "If God wills Disease Should we Work to eradicate it?" the link is here: http://www.desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2006/030806.html
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
View of Jesus
Bill Johnson plucks John 5:19 out of its context saying of Jesus, “the Son can do nothing.” He basically claims that Jesus laid aside all of His godly attributes and had only human attributes and abilities. In the history of the church, this teaching has been identified as a heresy called kenoticism. Johnson teaches that Jesus was completely powerless needed to be anointed by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles (p79). I found this confusing believing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one. Johnson also said that “the Holy Spirit revealed the Father to Jesus” (p80). I don’t see this anywhere in Scripture. On the contrary, Jesus asserts, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30) and also, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:9-10). Why would Jesus need the Father to be revealed to Him if they are one?
Johnson’s purpose behind this view of Christ is to show that a believer can do everything Jesus did. His reasoning is as follows: Jesus had no sin to separate Him from the Father and He was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power. Since Christ’s sacrifice has removed the barrier of our sin, now nothing separates us, we only have to depend on the Holy Spirit. While it is true that Christ’s sacrifice has sufficiently dealt with our sin, I don’t think He went to the cross so that we could operate in the miraculous but rather because of God’s great justice and mercy. The penalty needed to be paid for our sin. We could never pay it. He paid it for us to reconcile us to Himself. And although I am holy and blameless in His sight, covered in the righteousness of Christ, while I am still in this earthly tent, I am still a sinner. I await the day when I will be in my glorified state but until then I cannot be compared to the sinless Jesus.
View of Suffering
Johnson teaches that a loving Father would not allow His children to suffer. According to him, a good God would not allow sickness for a greater purpose. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, “So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
On page 48 of his book, Bill Johnson uses Hebrews 11 as a summary of faith. He fails to include those who by faith “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated--” (Hebrews 11: 35-37). Throughout history God’s people have always endured hardship and persecution. A good God is one who upholds and strengthens His own in the midst of suffering so that He is glorified by doing so.
There are basic rules of interpreting the Bible that I think are very important. For example, verses must be interpreted in their context. We also must understand what message was being conveyed at the specific time and to a specific people. A text can never mean what it never meant…in its original context. (See page 65 and Joshua 1:3). I also have concerns with Bill Johnson’s hermeneutics on a different level. I affirm that we do need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths of the Bible to us and we do need to lay aside our presuppositions and let God speak to us through His word. But Johnson goes beyond that and places a subjective prophetic word over the straightforward meaning of Bible passages. Of course he would say that the Bible has the ultimate authority but I haven’t seen that principle practiced. The result: (1) relativism - to me this verse means…and (2) a new form of popery - the great Reformation principle of sola scriptura is cast aside and the prophet/teacher’s interpretation is the new standard.
One great danger spread throughout this book is the equating of discernment with fear. Bill Johnson is quick to defend himself against those who question his teachings. The apostle Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if what he said was true. Those who are concerned about being deceived and hesitant to sign on are condemned as full of fear (which is viewed as the worst possible thing). In order not to fall victim to fear, all are encouraged jump in unreservedly.
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Mat 24:24)
My greatest concern with the teaching of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding is that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are not central to their message. It appears that the cross and the empty tomb are just a means to an end - namely, operating in the miraculous. I fear they may be preaching a different gospel.
“Salvation was not the ultimate goal of Christ’s coming… [The ultimate goal] was to fill each born again person with the Holy Spirit.” (Johnson, p71)
“This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
“The gospel is the story of the Father wooing the hearts of mankind through His love.” (Johnson, p101)
“The present day understanding of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom means to preach a message that will bring as many people to conversion as possible. But what did preaching the kingdom mean to Jesus? Every instance in which He either did it or commanded it, miracles followed.” (Johnson, p185)
Jesus summed up His message with these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
“Through the shedding of His blood, it would be possible for everyone who believed on His name to do as He did and become as He was. This meant then that every true believer would have access to the realm of life that Jesus lived in.” (Johnson, p138)
“…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
“Without [signs and wonders/miracles], the world suffers, God is grieved, and we are the most to be pitied” (Johnson, p119)
“We are most to be pitied if we think we’ve reached the fullness of what god intended for His Church here on earth.” (Johnson p186)
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-20)
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)