Trust, but Verify!

I love watching and listening to debates. Listening to the arguments for and against a position really helps me to see new ways to think and new ways to study God’s Word. When someone challenges my worldview with difficult questions, it’s probably not the 1st time someone has brought up that question or the 1st time someone has answered it. So, viewing debates is a nice way to see how these questions come about and how to answer difficult questions.

Almost always, these debates drive me back to scripture to confirm that someone has answered in accordance with God’s Word. This pattern is called noble in Acts 17:11

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

So, let me encourage anyone reading this blog or any other blog to test what is read against the scriptures. Now, we live in a special time in human history as well, because not only are we able to READ the scriptures, but we can dig deep with all of the available tools of the internet. Let me put in an endorsement for Blue Letter Bible. They have a great website and mobile app! My favorite use of this tools is to see the original Hebrew and Greek words in which the divinely inspired texts were written, since I do not speak either language.

This debate caught my interest this week, and I’ve linked to the beginning of the cross examination portion of the debate. It is between old earth theist, Fuz Rana and philosopher Michael Ruse.

In their 1st exchange, Ruse reads Genesis 1:16

[Gen 1:16 ESV] 16 And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

He then asks where is the sun is for the 1st three days. I’ve got a much better answer than Rana tries to give below

Watching Rana, you can clearly see he is uncomfortable with this line of questioning because he has left the safety of God’s Word and is crafting a new story with new definitions. At 54:57 he says, “We take days as a long period of time…” His yarn includes not 1 but 2 invented transformations of the atmosphere to allow light to pass to the surface of the earth. And then he is either badly mistaken or lying to cover a glaring hole in his worldview. Starting at 56:00 he says:

The text in the original Hebrew doesn’t say that the sun moon and stars were created, it says that let them appear.

Well, let’s check his scholarship of scripture with the tools we have available. If you click here on this link, you’ll see Genesis 1:16 open in Blue Letter Bible. You should see something that looks like the picture below. Notice the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for “made” is ‘asah.

Gen1_16

You can drill down further into the usage of this term by clicking the link H6213. This will show you specifically about this Hebrew word: how many times it’s used in the Bible, and which ways it is translated. Not once is this word (as Rana says) ever translated appear…as though the clouds cleared to show these lights having existed for millions of years prior as Rana sadly believes.

Now if Rana wants to believe this, he then has to account for other times this word ‘asah is used within the context. It is used in

  • Gen 1:7 – creation of the expanse
  • Gen 1:11 – plants making/bearing fruit
  • Gen 1:26 – creation of mankind

So, if we put Rana’s misinterpretation of ‘asah from Gen 1:16 in place of the other uses of ‘asah in the same context, can we say that the expanse, fruits, and humans have existed for millions of years and then the atmosphere cleared so that they became visible to a hypothetical observer. This is a huge problem for Rana and his parent company Reasons to Believe.

Perhaps Rana meant that in Gen 1:14 was when these concocted atmospheric transformations took place, and the sun, moon, and stars “appeared”. But God does not use the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah) like he did in Gen 1:9. This would have given credence to Rana’s legend had the Biblical text included in Gen 1:14 the Hebrew word ra’ah because its definition is:

  1. to see
  2. to appear
  3. to present oneself
  4. to become visible

Dr. Ruse rightly pushes Dr. Rana and says, “as most of us would read Genesis then, it is profoundly misleading.”

Gen1_16

Yes, Dr. Rana, you are teaching misleading doctrine. This is not the only example of the folks at Reasons to Believe teaching indefensible interpretations of scripture.

Thankfully, we can check their words with context, other parts of scripture, and the tools available to us with the internet. God’s Word can be trusted in all matters.

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Let Bygones Be Bygones

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It’s one of my hobbies to discuss origins with people. If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know that I have a strong stance in the veracity of the Bible because it is the inspired Word of God.

So, one of the conversations I was having with someone, who believed in a universe that is 13 point something billion years old and an Earth that is about 4.5 billion year old, went like this:

  • OldEarther: If God created the sun on day 4 like it says in Genesis, how could there have been days 1, 2, and 3 prior to that?
  • Me: I’ve got two answers for you. First, your “time problem” is much bigger than my perceived problem. In a “long-age” view, the sun doesn’t emerge from condensed gases until 8-9 billion years after the Big Bang and the Earth doesn’t emerge until about a half a million years after that. How do you get years prior to the earth revolving around the sun? I’ve only got to account for 3 days; you, on the other hand are stuck trying to account for billions of YEARS without a calibration for a year!
  • OldEarther: ….
  • Me: Secondly, God was very clear about the purpose of the sun. Shine light on the Earth, and be a time keeper on Earth. So, your question to me about the rationality of days 1, 2, and 3 doesn’t make sense. The definition of a day is one earth rotation on its axis. There’s no need for the sun to exist for there to be days. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Day 1 the Earth was there spinning and on day 4, God created the sun, so that mankind (day 6) would be able to tell time. Your question is very much like asking, “How could there have been time before watches?” Time existed prior to the invention of chronographs. It’s just much easier to see the passage of time with a watch (the sun).
  • OldEarther: Well, if that’s the case, then your first answer to me fails too!
  • Me: Not so. Since I believe the Bible’s historical account, years began to be measured at the very latest only 4 days after creation…a negligible amount. But for you, the calibration for a year is now ambiguous prior to the measurement of one revolution of the earth around the sun.

 

We can trust God’s revelation about the history of Earth, so we can trust Him with our future!

Suppress the Truth at Your Own Peril

I’ve listened to Shermer debate several different Christians, and his debate style has grown tiresome.
In this debate, Shermer declared victory in the opening paragraph and spent the rest of his time “killing” straw men, showcasing red-herrings, and refusing to provide justification for his assertions. It was terribly frustrating to hear Shermer, who failed miserably at defending atheism, declare victory in the closing remarks when Hernandez chose not to join Shermer outside the debate boundaries. His entire argument (as Hernandez correctly pointed out) was “I don’t like God.”
It’s time for Shermer to retire from debate. He was never able to understand the depth of Dr. Hernandez’s transcendental argument. Shermer continued to “argue” against tired classic Christian apologetics, which Dr. Hernandez never employed.
I find similar responses from atheists with whom I interact. They do not understand the depth of their philosophical dilemma, and they resort to scientism (“we have evidence….you don’t”), wild accusations (“stone adulterers and children!”) and vicious circularity.
In many ways, Christians must do better at framing the debate, so that atheists can at least try to tackle the real philosophical problems rather than fighting on the surface. But it’s certain that those outside the church who continue to suppress the truth will bring on themselves the “futile thinking…with foolish darkened hearts.” (Romans 1)…and thus never be able to understand the freedom of Truth (John 8:32).
It comes down to authority. The atheist chooses dirt (material) as the eternal authority. The follower of Jesus chooses the revealed Creator (and his Word) as his authority.

Goodness Gracious!

God is good. We can see this from several texts in the Psalms and in the gospel of Mark.

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Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good

Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for He is good

Mark 10:17-18 A man ran up and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’

While this list is not comprehensive, we get a picture that one of the characteristics of God and the way that he acts is his Goodness. The English word from these passages that has been translated to be “good” is the Hebrew transliteration: towb.

This same word is used in Genesis 1 as God describes his new creation. After the first, third, the fourth, and the fifth days, God describes his creation as ‘towb’ or good. Genesis 1:29-31 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.” In fact, since God called his creation “good” twice on days 3 and 6, there is a total of seven “good” descriptors of his creation. As seven is seen throughout scripture as the perfect number, God is bringing extra emphasis on the goodness of his creation. Creation wasn’t just “good” in a trivial sense, it was made to reflect God’s goodness and glory (Psalm 19:1).

We know that later on in chapter 3 of Genesis, it describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s one command. Sin caused pain, thorns, and death to pervert God’s “very good” creation. Romans 8 confirms this when it says, “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Sin perverted God’s “very good” creation. And God revealed that the curse of sin included death, pain, thorns, and creation being in bondage to decay.

When archaeologists dig down into the layers of earth, what do they find? Fossils of billions of dead things. Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals that had terrible diseases like cancer are found. Some fossils show teeth marks of predators in layers that evolutionists date as having been buried millions and millions of years before mankind walked the earth. Even fossilized thorns have been found in layers that evolutionists date as being 400 million years old.

sharp_thorns

But there are Christian teachers out there, who are trying to harmonize clear teaching of scripture with billions of years of bloodshed, suffering, and death. Is this what the Psalmist would relay as a character quality of the Almighty? But that’s exactly what Hugh Ross,  the Rossians, and John Walton would have us believe. To make this work, they have to re-define the Hebrew word “towb” to mean potential or ordered.

It is no small thing to attribute billions of years of cancer, bloodshed, pain, and death with the perfect character of the Almighty. Yet, when Walton and Ross redefine the same word “towb”, which is used to describe God’s character, as inclusive of death, one has to question their understanding of scripture.

Lastly, Isaiah 11:6-9 describes a time when God will restore his perfect creation. God revealed to Isaiah that there will come a time when predatory behavior, harm, and destruction will be a thing of the past. But Ross and Walton would say that predatory behavior, harmfulness, and destruction was a part of creation prior to Adam’s sin. Their interpretation of scripture has serious problems that affect the gospel. If death and destruction and harm were part of God’s very good creation, then why did Jesus have to die a horrific physical death on the cross? Romans 8:21 “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We can trust the Good God Almighty about what he has revealed about the past, and we can trust him about the good He plans for the future. Praise Him!!!

Multiplication by Substitution

I love the humor of the Babylon Bee. It’s satirical news stories regularly make me laugh out loud. Sometimes the “stories” are too poignant to laugh at since the realism they portray hits the mark squarely in the bullseye.

But today’s story got me laughing, so I had to share.

A tragic fire claimed the home of local professor and old earth creationist Dr. Hank Thornton Thursday morning, as he reportedly attempted to pop a bag of popcorn for 1.7 million years, interpreting the instructional label of “Cook for 2:30” symbolically rather than arriving at the plain meaning of just two minutes and thirty seconds.

Sadly, we see this too often with the old earth crowd. When they look at scripture, they are able to fabricate deep time where none exists. But if we look at the whole of scripture, it becomes clear that God intended us to read his redemption story for what it truly is without redefining terms.

  • Genesis 1:14-19 How many different ways can one define “day” in these 6 verses?
  • Exodus 20:11 For in 6 days the LORD created and then rested on the 7th
  • Chrono-Genealogies of Genesis 11 (verified in I Chronicles, Matthew 1, and Luke 3)
  • Matt 23:35 Jesus seemed to think that Adam’s son from Genesis 4 was a real person
  • Mark 10:6 Jesus “For at the beginning of creation, He created…” (emphasis mine) Why argue with Jesus?

Meme-Mark10_6

 

We can trust the Creator with what he has revealed about history, and we can therefore trust Him with our future! Praise Him!!!

…and follow the instructions when preparing popcorn.

Don’t Trust the Rossians…Trust the Bible

I’ve only gotten half-way through reading this article, but I couldn’t wait any longer to post a link to Jason Lisle’s response to Critics #3.

For years now, the invasion of Christendom has been spearheaded by attacking the Bible. So much so, that now, even committed believers like Hugh Ross cannot see their own indoctrination to materialistic philosophies.

In Dr. Lisle’s article, he engages with a critic, who accommodates secular teachings into his interpretation of scripture. Dr. Lisle uses hermenuetics, logic, and science to re-calibrate the critic’s flawed thinking. If you’ve ever wanted to read dialogue on how to engage a Rossian with solid scripture and sound logic, then you will enjoy reading.

If You Want to Defame the Bible…

…at least do it properly. Do a little research, and then shoot your best shot. Christianity has survived 2000 years of constant attack and persecution.

Meme-DefameBible

At least a dozen “science” reporting outlets falsely reported that the Bible got history wrong. If they had just done a few minutes of research by actually reading what the Bible said, they would see that forensic science is only JUST NOW catching up with divine revelation.

Here’s one of the headlines:

“The Bible was WRONG: Civilisation God ordered to be KILLED still live and kicking”

Sadly, God’s people were duped (Joshua 9) and flat out disobeyed in several other circumstances (Judges 1) to allow the Canaanites to live among them. The findings of this forensic research doesn’t conflict with the Bible…it confirms scripture!

Finding Canaanite DNA in living people is exactly what one would expect to find, because that is how the Bible reported it.

We can trust God’s divine revelation about history, and we can trust him with the forgiveness of sins. Jesus fulfilled the scriptures by taking on the punishment of sin and defeating death. It is his great love that leads us to repentance.