Late November 2018 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links

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Authority Matters

When you were in high school, did you choose which parent to go ask for certain events or privileges? Which of your authority figures would provide the greatest freedom?

blur close up focus gavel

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Determining your authority in matters of worldviews and ultimate truth are not much different today. People tend to choose the authority that would grant them the greatest perceived amount of freedom. The choices seem to be limited to scientism or revelation from God. Can science be the ultimate arbiter of truth? Can science answer all of the questions of matter, energy, laws of logic, morality, mathematics, origins, biology, chemistry…? Scientism falls short in explanatory power in many of those categories

The other option is God’s revelation. The omnipotent Creator has revealed himself through the prophets (scripture) and most recently through Jesus (Hebrews 1). The One who perceives reality perfectly has revealed history in a trustworthy manner such that we can know his revelation to be true. The writers of the old and new testaments (including the recorded words of Jesus) believed the scriptures to be a true recording of history.

Today, many scientists have assumptions and present models that require interpretations of evidence which are in direct conflict with the history revealed by the Creator. When those conflicts arise, which authority determines truth?

Many Christian apologists take the view that scientism is the ultimate authority and should determine how to interpret God’s special revelation. William Craig is such an apologist. In his most recent blog post, Dr. Jason Lisle reveals the inherent contradictions with Christians upholding scientism as the ultimate authority.

Dr. Craig: But YEC as a hermeneutical hypothesis is quite another matter. I want to approach the text with an open mind, despite the terrifying prospect that YEC might actually be correct as a hermeneutical hypothesis. In that case, we would face some very hard choices. Given YEC’s failure as a scientific hypothesis, we should have to conclude that the Bible teaches scientific error and therefore revise our doctrine of inspiration to accommodate this fact. That is a route one would prefer not to take.

Dr. Lisle’s response is critical for us as faithful Christians to understand and preach with regards to authority and the gospel:

What do you do when the Bible clearly teaches something that is at odds with the opinions of the majority of scientists?  Craig’s answer is clear: you accept that the Bible is wrong!  Such an answer is very revealing.  What is the ultimate standard for Craig’s faith?  It cannot be the Bible…Therefore, when there is a conflict between God’s Word and the popular opinions of man, the presuppositional Christian says, “Let God be found true though every man be found a liar!” (Romans 3:4)…From this, we conclude that Craig is strongly motivated to interpret Scripture in a non-exegetical way in order to accommodate his unjustified presupposition of the big bang.  May I humbly suggest the reverse?  I advise Craig (and everyone else) to let God be true, to take His Word as written, in grammatical historical context, and then use God’s Word to discern which of man’s ideas are virtuous, and which are fallacious.  Why not base our thinking on the infallible, and use this to evaluate the fallible?

His closing remarks highlight the critical issue:

Do we interpret the Bible to align with our view of the world, or do we adjust our view of the world to align with the Bible?  How you answer that question will reveal the true standard of your faith.

William Craig seems determined to give his apologetic in defense of a general theism that has the backing of naturalistic scientific assumptions. From this foundation, He feels free to interpret the Bible on the latest interpretation of evidence and cultural preference. What will happen to his apologetic when the latest assumptions are changed to accommodate new interpretations of evidence?

Dr. Lisle encourages Christians to uphold God’s revelation as the authority, and letting that authority control the assumptions held for interpreting evidence.

Scientific interpretations of evidence change over time:

  • Prior to the 1500s, scientists believed and modeled that the earth was the center of the solar system. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1600s, scientists believed in alchemy and phlogistonFalsified
  • Prior to the 1700s, scientists believed that bloodletting and leeches removed bad blood from sick patients. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1800s, scientists believed in spontaneous generationFalsified
  • Prior to the 1900s, scientists taught that the universe eternal (steady state theory) – Falsified
  • Prior to the 2000s, scientists taught impending contradictory catastrophes would destroy humanity in the subsequent decades: ice age and unstoppable heat wave. – Falsified

 

Have people misinterpreted the Bible to justify terrible things? Yes, and each time, it is scripture itself that has revealed the false understanding and correction.

Will you put your trust in the ever-changing assumptions that guide scientific interpretations or can we trust the unchanging nature of God’s revelation to guide our thinking and behavior?

The Eternal Creator is Good!

close up portrait of lion

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In C.S. Lewis’ timeless tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a conversation ensues between Susan and a native of Narnia,

Mr. Beaver: “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

Susan: “Ooh. I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

Mr Beaver: “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

God is good. Here are 29 times in the old testament that say this exact phrase:

  • I Chronicles 16:34
  • II Chronicles 5:13
  • II Chronicles 7:3
  • II Chronicles 30:18
  • Ezra 8:18
  • Nehemiah 2:8
  • Nehemiah 9:20
  • Psalms 23:6
  • Psalms 25:8
  • Psalms 34:8
  • Psalms 52:9
  • Psalms 54:6
  • Psalms 73:1
  • Psalms 84:11
  • Psalms 85:12
  • Psalms 86:5
  • Psalms 100:5
  • Psalms 106:1
  • Psalms 107:1
  • Psalms 118:1
  • Psalms 118:29
  • Psalms 119:68
  • Psalms 135:3
  • Psalms 136:1
  • Psalms 143:10
  • Psalms 145:9
  • Jeremiah 24:2
  • Jeremiah 26:14
  • Jeremiah 33:11

I’ve mentioned BlueLetterBible.org before, and it’s one of my favorite Bible study tools. Let’s look at the Hebrew word for “good” and see if we can make some connections in other parts of scripture:

GodIsGood

This Hebrew word ‘towb’ is used many times in the old testament, and it is translated as good, better, best, pleasant, excellent, prosperous. Now let’s look at places that pair ‘towb’ with its opposite: “ra” and “ra’a”, which is usually translated as evil, harm, destruction.

GoodEvil

Some examples would be Genesis 31:29

“I (Laban) have the power to harm (ra’) you; but last night the God of your fathers said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good (towb) or bad (ra).'”

I Samuel 24:17

“You (David) are more righteous than I (Saul). You have treated me with goodness (towb), but I have repaid you with evil (ra).”

My purpose in writing this post is twofold:

  1. Remind everyone that the Almighty Creator is the opposite of evil. He is good!
  2. To highlight the contradictions of old earth paradigms in God’s Word.

Without exception all old earth paradigms require that death, disease, suffering, harm, and predation existed prior to the rebellion of Adam and Eve. But as disciples of Jesus, we want to be in agreement with ALL of his eternal Word, so let’s look at the historical narrative in Genesis to see how a proper understanding of  “towb” and “ra” can help us eliminate contradictions.

Seven times in the creation story of Genesis 1, God looked at what He had made and declared, “it was good” (towb – H2896). On the seventh time, when the Creator viewed all that He had made, He declared “it was very good.” The number 7 has symbolic meaning in God’s Word, as it seems to be used for emphasis. So, the fact that God declares his creation good and the 7th time “very good” should accentuate that God wants us to tune in to his super-repetition.

Genesis 1:29-30 God clearly says that He intends his creatures to eat fruits, seeds, and greens rather than engage in predatory behavior, and when we see Isaiah 11:6 and Isaiah 65:25 there is clear evidence that the restoration of the new creation does not include harm, destruction, or predatory behavior.

“Towb” is used to describe the character of God, and God uses “towb” to describe his creation before sin entered it. “Ra” is the opposite of “towb”, and “ra” means harm, evil, and destruction. For old earthers to assume harm, evil, and destruction were part of the “very good” creation prior to sin is not just a contradiction, it actually speaks to the character of the Almighty. Can “towb” include evil, predatory behavior, and destruction?

The Bible says no, and we can trust God’s eternal Word. Old earth paradigms cannot be an acceptable part of Christian thinking because of the contradictions that are raised when one believes harm, destruction, and death were a part of God’s “very good” creation prior to sin…along with many other reasons.

Since we can trust God’s revelation about the past, we can trust Him with our future! Our good God is worthy of praise!!!

 

Guest Post: Who Needs Proof that God Exists?

Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

God has revealed himself so that everyone knows he exists.

The Domain for Truth

Who Needs Proof that God Exists? 

 

Have you ever gotten into a debate with someone over the existence of God?  

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Welcome to the Great Debate

IMG_7019For years Matt Walsh has been an outspoken conservative commentator and blogger on politics and abortion. He has amassed an ardent audience through his multiple media portals. I’ve enjoyed reading  many of his opinions.

With the release of his YouTube video, Why I am Not A Young Earth Creationist, this past week, he took a bold step into an area of theology for which he appears to be completely unprepared.

Walsh brings to the discussion monumental misunderstands of what biblical creation teaches …and not much else. Here are the glaring misunderstandings that he attributes to biblical creationists:

  1. Biblical creationists take every single thing in the bible completely literally. Poetry, parables, exaggerations, symbolism are all held the same as history, doctrine and the words of Jesus. 
    1. This is a ridiculous view. Biblical creationists take the genre into consideration when reading God’s revealed word. Walsh’s opening point is very polemic and unhelpful to the conversation. Genesis is written as history. The author’s intent was to to convey to his readers that the events in Genesis are part of the history of God’s interactions with humanity and specifically the origins of the Hebrew people. The rest of the old testament and dozens of times in the new testament, Genesis is quoted as having actually happened. Genesis regarded by Moses, the other old testament authors and the new testament authors as history. Should Walsh want to believe that part of Genesis was metaphor and part history, where does this switch happen? 
  2. Biblical creationists demand that Genesis be a scientific encyclopedia that explains all fields of science in the greatest depth.
    1. Again, this polemic misrepresentation adds nothing to the discussion. Nothing in scripture is intended to be a scientific treatise, but where scripture covers something scientific, it’s never incorrect. The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is not concerned with teaching humanity about profound scientific principles. It is God’s revelation of his miraculous acts of creation. Since creation was supernatural acts involving his supreme power, why do old earthers, like Walsh, expect naturalistic explanations for these miracles but not the other miracles in the Bible? Virgin birth? Resurrection from the dead? These things are scientifically impossible. Why do old earthers specifically segregate the miracle of creation as impossible? 
  3. Biblical creationists demand that the word day means 24 hours every single time it is used throughout scripture without exception. According to Walsh, a day can be measured on earth, Pluto, or Saturn because God was not clear in his revelation, so he can take whatever frame of reference he wants a day to be. Walsh: “We have no reasons at all to assume that the days in Genesis 1 were 24 hours long.”
    1. Biblical creationists agree that the Hebrew word “yom” can be translated in many ways. The key to understanding what it means in each passage, and specifically Genesis 1 is called exegesis. Look at the context and where scripture talks about this event in other places to see what the word means here. Each of the days of Genesis 1 are denoted with an ordinal (THE 1st day, THE 2nd day, THE 3rd day…), and each of the days is bounded by evening and morning. Looking at Exodus 20 (which is a passage that NO ONE says is poetry), God says your weeks should be like my creation week. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in 6 days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” So, by exegesis we have 100% verification that God intended his people to work for six 24-hour days and rest on one 24 hour day…just like He did during the creation week. So if old earthers want to change the definition of a day in this context they have to overcome the direct command from God about the course of a week and the ordinals and familiar boundaries of evening/morning.
  4. Biblical creationists hate science and they think that all scientists in all fields of science are lying about their conclusions of long ages. 
    1. Again, more straw-man arguments that are not true. Most branches of science were started and developed by biblical creationists. There are axioms and assumptions in all scientific research. Biblical creationists forsake the naturalistic assumptions that the modern paradigm relies upon for their old earthism. If Walsh wants to accommodate old earth cosmology because the vast majority of scientists believe it, he is bound to accept the biological origins of humanity as well, which is also untenable from a biblical perspective.

Walsh starts his video with this friendly sounding quote: “We should be able to discuss an important and interesting issue without getting angry and without getting offended.”

But the more you watch his video, he is not interested in rational discussion. He is clearly not trying to be persuasive but is instead purposefully mischaracterizing those with whom he disagrees as morons.

Walsh gets his arguments mixed up at one point by saying there are days prior to there being an earth…except the first sentence in the Bible says that God created the earth at the beginning. He then misunderstands the definition of a day saying that there must be a light source or days mean nothing. This is not true. The definition of a day is 1 rotation of the earth on its axis. No light source necessary. But for his old earth position, he has a HUGE shortcoming in his foundations since a year is defined as the time is takes the earth to revolve around the sun. What are the units of time prior to the sun and earth coalescing from primordial space dust and how is that calibrated? They would say it’s 9 billion years, but what is a year prior to the calibration of a year existing?

Watching his video once was bad enough, but going back through it again to highlight his misunderstandings is nearly unbearable. So, while there are more strawmen arguments and lazy analysis of biblical creation, it is sufficient to say that Walsh could use a serious re-adjustment of his perspective regarding God’s revelation in Genesis. Our understanding of science is based upon God’s revelation from the Bible; not the other way around.

Should he want to do his due diligence (and he doesn’t care for Ken Ham) there’s more than enough information to learn what real biblical creationists teach from these resources:

  1. Bible
  2. ApoloJedi.com
  3. Creation.com
  4. crev.info
  5. TheCreationClub.com
  6. BiblicalScienceInstitute.com
  7. Icr.org

Reasonable Faith

Everyone has faith in something…usually the thing that they worship.

For Christians, we have faith in and worship God. For naturalists, they have faith that nature emerged from an aggregate of random mistakes…and they tend to worship some aspect of creation (as is predicted in Romans 1).

Revelational Apologetics

One of the most common attacks on Christianity is to ridicule its reliance on faith.  Atheists proudly proclaim their dependence upon reason or logic whereas Christians practice a faith in a magic book trusting their imaginary friend named Jesus.  This tactic has proven very effective damaging the faith of many and keeping others from ever coming to Christ.  In my last post, I stated that it is impossible to escape faith while seeking to discern truth.   Indeed, everyone practices faith.  It is impossible to live and not have faith.

Obviously, we cannot address this issue without defining faith and therein lies the problem.  The definition of faith promulgated by atheists is that of a belief or trust in something without evidence or reason, an irrational belief.  Unfortunately, even many Christians have accepted this definition in their practice of Christianity.  As I have shown, neither the Bible nor Jesus Christ ever…

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Apologetics Sermon Illustration #48: Refuting Presuppositions and Fighting Terrorist Financing

Because evidence is interpreted within one’s worldview, evidence that corroborates scripture will never be accepted by the naturalist. They will always interpret evidence from a naturalistic worldview.

So, to faithfully present the gospel of Jesus, the apologist should critically analyze the skeptic’s worldview (or presuppositions). All worldviews that do not begin with the Creator as the omniscient Revealer, will end up with contradictions or unfounded regressions.

Praise God for his faithfulness and goodness!

The Domain for Truth

GO TO PART 47

Point: Some Christians engage in apologetics in a piecemeal fashion.  They give evidence here and there.  They refute an objection here and there.  They might not realize the importance of Presuppositional apologetics (as taught by Cornelius Van Til) with its emphasis of going beyond the individual sparring of the skeptics’ objection and instead pursue refutations of the opponent’s worldview at the level of presuppositions.  How can you illustrate the importance of refuting an opponent’s worldview?

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