Recommended approach

Sojourner's paradigm challenges atheists and skeptics to make a shift in the way they examine and approach the claims of the Bible and Christianity. It is best to first watch the gospel message video and read the foundational truth of God. Other blogs speak on a variety of topics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paradigm on the debate between Evolution and Creation

Allow me to first lay a foundation. Depending upon whose material you read, you are going to be faced with a myriad of “facts” concerning the evolution/creation debate. You will be faced with a decision of determining who is right and who is wrong? The usual approach is to input information and then decide which view appears more viable. But the decision must be based upon another greater question altogether; Upon what authority are you basing your opinions? To the one who professes belief in God, then God must become the ultimate authority. To an unbeliever, the authority lies solely on that 4 pound mass of tissue between his or her ears. The premise of Scripture is that we are all born with a flawed nature making it improbable to reason effectively. Our minds are like a corrupt computer hard drive which can only output distorted data. Emotions, thoughts, affections, and desires all flow out of a distorted soul which is incapable of making altogether accurate conclusions. Regardless of where you stand in your theology, a quick look around the world makes it evident that people are pretty messed up. One man’s right is another man’s wrong. One man’s truth is another man’s error. What hope, therefore, is there for discovering any truth about anything? In the words of Jesus Christ, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Matthew 19:26). God must be the One who reveals Himself to us and regenerates our soul. The evidence of his supreme power and intelligence surrounds us both day and night, but the one who ignores that revelation will never come to know God or His truth. That person will ignore the greater revelation of God found in the Bible. Our job is to humbly submit to God’s revelation and work in our life. In so doing, we are allowing God to be the authority, not man.

Now back to the evolution debate. For those who are swayed towards evolution being the explanation for life on earth, they must begin with the notion that God either does not exist or that God’s revelation of Himself and His truth through Scripture is inaccurate or wrong. If, in fact, there is no God, then who can argue against evolution? It would, in fact, be the ONLY explanation for life on earth. In which case, a person relying on himself or herself as the ultimate authority will probably not be swayed by the volumes of scientific evidence and discovery supplied by Creation Science. But for one who relies upon the authority of God and His revelation of Himself and his truth to us through Scripture, read on.

This purpose of this treatise is not to provide all the scientific evidence which disputes the evolutionary model, but rather to point out the inconsistencies of evolutionary theory with regards to Scripture.

The first few chapters of Genesis provide us a brief overview of creation. The first words of the Bible declare, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Scriptural revelation, therefore, does not begin by trying to prove anything. It simply states a claim that God is the Creator of everything. You either believe it or you don’t. The account then goes on to provide more revelation concerning God’s act of creation. If we choose to dispute this account or try and explain it away in order to fit the evolutionary model, then we have already begun to drift away from Scriptural revelation and authority. In so doing, we disregard other scriptural authority as no authority at all. We try and make God fit into our way of thinking which takes us down a path of speculation and continued disregard for the words found in Scripture. We are right back where we began. We continue to be our own authority.

Here is an illustration. Through the account of creation, we discover that God made the first two people. They were created in His image. We are then given an explanation for sin. Adam and Eve fell. At that point the Bible goes on to reveal the consequences of that fall and God’s plan to right the wrong. If mankind came as a result of evolving from more primitive life forms, then at what point did God finally provide man with a soul, create him in his own likeness, and place him in a faultless world, uncorrupted by sin? The evolutionary model must rely on millions of years of violence and death taking place on the planet. The Bible proclaims that death came as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This is referred to in Scripture as the fall of man.

We are told repeatedly in the 1st chapter of Genesis that each living organism was made “after its kind”, meaning that each species was created differently from every other species. If God created everything in this way, how do we also allow for the process of evolution which requires one species to evolve into a completely different species? Incidentally, DNA itself is a storehouse of intricate information much like several volumes of encylopedias. Imagine evolution producing a library of books through a process of “natural selection.” Honest evolutionists cannot debate this point. We trust either in the process of evolution and thus deny scripture, or we believe scripture.

Scientists agree that every life form is dependent upon every other life form. No life form can exist on its own apart from every other life form. A symbiotic relationship exists which keeps all of life in balance. It has been this way from the very beginning of creation… if you hold to a creation view. The evolutionary process does not account for this balance of life. Millions of years pass between one life form and another.

Another fundamental law of science states that systems will always proceed from order to chaos. Scripture supports this. It relates an untainted world in the beginning where mankind lived for hundreds of years. Over time and especially after the flood, the earth and life experienced corruption, just as God’s Word tells us. Life-spans were shortened. Evolution, on the other hand, relies on matter and life progressing from chaos to order which defies basic scientific knowledge.

Evolution relies on “beneficial mutations” in order for “natural selection” to come about. Not once has science ever been able to replicate this occurrence. Mutations always result in weakened life forms.

How do we argue against the evidence which supports an old earth? New discoveries are putting new light on these views. Carbon dating, radioactive decay, chemical analysis of rocks and other such tools are being shown to be unreliable. They begin with assumptions and then try and make analysis line up with these assumptions. Employing different diagnostic tools to the same specimens have resulted in vastly different findings. And again, if certain assumptions end up being wrong, then the data will be wrong.

For instance, if one takes into account a world-wide catastrophic flood as described in Genesis, then that can make an enormous impact on findings on the age of rocks. Evolutionists disregard the flood account because they do not believe in the accuracy of Scripture. The flood account was, in fact, incredibly catastrophic. According to Scripture, the planet and atmosphere before the flood were entirely different from the conditions we now know. The Bible describes the “fountains of the deep” opening up and devastating the entire surface of the world. An honest appraisal of the earth’s surface agrees with this finding. And yet, the “old earth” advocates will not allow such factors to be considered when analyzing data. There are many other factors which should be, but are not, being included in the mainstream science of evolution and the age of the earth.

Once again, this treatise is not intended to provide the volumes of evidence which reveal potential flaws in the evolutionary model. The point is to suggest that one’s basis of authority is the determining factor in making a judgment on the debate between evolution and creation.

Why is evolution so widely accepted? The fact remains that many in the academic and scientific community censor any evidence that suggests God’s involvement in creation and life, even when that evidence is backed by scientific discovery. Evolution is a religion… it is a world view, and not science. It assumes no God and therefore is the only viable explanation. Sadly, those in the academic world are not interested in bringing truth to the table if it does not fit into their world view. Their tactics involve ridicule, personal attacks, bureaucratic policies, and court rulings. Evolution survives because so few people have ever been given a chance to hear a credible case for creation. When all avenues of discovery are allowed to have a voice, creation science proves to provide the better explanation for life on earth.

We read these words from 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Psalm 19, Psalm 119, and many other passages of Scripture echo the point that all of the words found in Scripture are true, perfect, and authoritative. Jesus himself made this claim when He said, “Your Word is true.” (John 17:17). Since Scripture is our ultimate authority, then we must throw out the concept of evolution because it is diametrically opposed to the truths found in Scripture.

Yes, continue to search for the truth and study the findings of science. You will discover time and time again that the truths found in Scripture are confirmed by new scientific discoveries. Or perhaps it would be better to say that Scripture turns out to be the greater authority. While Scripture is never intended to be a scientific textbook, it is intended to be our authority in life and the means by which we discover God’s ultimate truth and His path for our life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good News in miniature

Those of us who have been followers of Jesus Christ for sometime know without any hesitancy the foundation upon which we stand. When discussing our faith with skeptics, the tendency is to want to provide evidence for our faith. Or we may use our own personal testimony to try and draw others to Christ. In some cases we may be tempted to present Jesus as the “best way to live” or perhaps use Him as therapy for what ills us. Or in trying to be courteous we present faith in Christ as nothing more than our opinion in a culture where everyone’s opinion is as valid as the next.

The case for Christ has little to do with our arguments or testimony or opinions. The entire message of faith in Christ must hinge on the foundational truth of the gospel message as presented in Scripture. The gospel, or “good news” as it is interpreted is the break in the clouds. It is the one message which is aimed directly at the heart and brings about changes both in the mind and in the heart of an individual. For this reason, it is worth taking a closer look at this message of good news which does what no other message can do.

This gospel is so central to anything else, that if we don’t this one message correct, nothing else in life makes any sense. It’s as if we are trying to make our way around in a dark room with no light. We stumble and fall as we recklessly make our way through the room. But then someone lights a match. We can then see enough to make sense of the obstacles in our path. That light is the gospel. Only by hearing and receiving this good news can we then begin to have the resources we need to overcome. What is this light… this gospel message? Here it is.

First, we must acknowledge that God is far more powerful and awesome than any of us can imagine. A glance up at the night sky, or observing a bird in flight, or the face of a newborn, or examining the intricacies of the basic fabric of life found in DNA; all reveal just how powerful and intelligent our Creator is. He is beyond anything we can calculate or measure or observe. Psalm 19 puts it this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…” God is, as he told Moses, the Great I Am.

And yet, we can only learn so much through natural revelation of this majestic God. If He can create all this and have it all work in such harmony, then surely there must be design and purpose in creation. He must surely reveal himself further in some special way. He did so through the pages of the Bible. Through the Bible we discover the true character of God. We learn that He is both loving and merciful but he also judges sin. But please let me caution you before you jump in with arguments against these characteristics of God or the divine authorship of Scripture. We’re still making our way through a darkened room. The full light has not yet been fully revealed through the complete gospel message.

Following close behind this fact that God is God is the fact that you and I are not god. If he is the Great I Am, we are the great I am nots. By this I mean that we must acknowledge the fact that we are messed up. We have limitations. A quick look around the world at all the pain and suffering along with the struggles we face due to our poor choices, the pain we have caused others, the fact that we hate not getting our own way, the lust we indulge and the consequences of those sins, along with our own ineptness to overcome these maladies, makes it clear that we need a merciful God to intervene.

We learn through Scripture that we were made to enjoy a relationship with God. But something went terribly wrong. Again, an honest appraisal of our lives reveals that this relationship is lacking. We either ignore God or we make up a god to fit our own criteria. The Bible reveals that this snub against God is engrained within us even from birth. We carry within us the very sinful nature which originated in our distant relatives, Adam and Eve. They disobeyed and we suffer the consequences. We may, in fact, feel the harsh reality of his judgment on our lives and wonder if he truly does love us.

So far it’s not sounding very much like “good news”, is it?

But then enter Jesus Christ. Jesus was born from the Spirit of God thus making him both fully human and fully divine. He lived a fully devoted, obedient, and intimate relationship with His Father. But then was crucified by those who rejected this man who was claiming equality with God. As Christ said, “Before Abraham was, ‘I Am’. Sound familiar?  Or as he told Philip, one of his disciples who had asked to see God, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Upon seeing the risen Christ, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Many more passages could be sited which reveal the divinity of Jesus. And because of these claims, they crucified Him. And in a way, so do we.

But because of Jesus’ sinless life, death could not hold him for “the wages of sin is death” we are told in Romans. He rose again. We learn that he paid the full penalty for the sins of all mankind. It was our rebellion which caused him to die on a cross. You see, since God is fully just, meaning he must judge sin perfectly, but also merciful, then the price Jesus paid has made it possible for His mercy to be reconciled with His justice. The first Adam, whose nature still indwells you, results in your guilt. The new Adam, Jesus Christ, offers a new nature which can now overcome the old nature. That relationship you and I were created to have with God can now be fully restored…. But… that relationship…. that love and mercy, the new life God is extending to you must be received. Your eyes must be opened to your own sinful state and need for salvation. You must repent and receive that sacrifice on your part through faith.

Think long and hard on this. As long as you and I continue to live with ourselves on the throne of our lives… as long as we are still our own god… as long as we think the ability to overcome problems come from within us, as long as we try and control our own destiny and remain the captain of our own souls, ignoring the resources and provision God through Christ has made available to us, then God cannot become Lord in our life.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’ In the book of Romans in the 10th chapter we read this, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and confesses with his lips and so is saved.”

By receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, we now have that relationship with God restored. The Holy Spirit will bring new life into your soul and awaken your need for God. He is alive, and now offers you that same life. His grace saves us through faith in Christ’s atoning work, according to His Word and in His promise. This is what we stand on. We have faith knowing that we will stand before God not on the basis of our own goodness which, by the way, the Bible describes as filthy disgusting rags, but on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ.

In this life you can now appropriate the many resources and provision God has for you. You can overcome. Trust in His unfailing love. Place your hope and trust in Christ right now and begin to see his hand engaged in all that goes on in your life. The hope the Bible speaks of is better defined as “certain assurance”. It is this hope, this certain assurance which carries through the remainder of our life and then brings us into an eternal relationship with God once we leave this life behind.