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Chuck Miller
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SS: YOU WROTE: Chuck, I frankly find your assumption that I have no spiritual beliefs to be condescending and a bit insulting, although that troubles me far less than your assertion that science is in any way a"faith". MY RESPONSE: I’m at a loss in trying to determine the basis upon which you accuse me of making the assumption that you have no spiritual beliefs, SS, and I think you might want to go back and read my responses to determine whether or not you are justified in feeling even "a bit" insulted. As for your being troubled by my "assertion that science is in any way a 'faith,' please take note that I was not making a general statement about science, but rather, I was relating it specifically to believing that "something came into being out of nothing or that something always existed." I don't pretend to believe that it is by anything but faith that I believe that there is a God who always existed. Why do you contend that it is "scientific" to believe that matter always existed? And perhaps you can understand my confusion about what you do believe when I recall some of your previous comments. In your post on November 11th you alluded to a God who used "an amazingly intricate and elegant process occurring over an almost incomprehensibly long time" From this, it would seem that you were at least suggesting the possibility of evolutionary creation and, therefore, a Creator. But then, in your January 6th post, you seemed to disparage the thought of a Creator without a beginning, stating " if a Creator exists that created the universe, wouldn't he in turn need to have been created prior? So, let me accept your acknowledgement of having spiritual beliefs and let it go at that. YOU WROTE: I have my own set of beliefs (which, rest assured, probably don't square with your own on many points), but whatever any of us believes doesn't free us of the responsibility to use our reason, which is agift regardless of its source. MY RESPONSE: This brings up another interesting point. When you speak of "beliefs" aren't you leaving the realm of science and the physical and entering into the metaphysical or spiritual? So, perhaps you could explain to me, SS, how this blob of matter that evolved into a human being, did also somewhere along the way, acquire a capacity to think and make decisions about right and wrong. You speak of it as "a gift" and mention a "source" without even a suggestion as to what that source might be. Science or Faith? YOU WROTE: Science doesn't require faith. Those theories and techniques which are consistently useful and can be shown to be so should be used to the extent that they're useful. MY RESPONSE: As I have tried to explain (obviously unsuccessfully) I totally agree with your statement about "scientific theories and techniques," but when you propose that it does not take faith to believe that matter mysteriously came into existence out of nothing, or that it always existed, I disagree. YOU WROTE: What you or I believe makes absolutely no difference within the paradigm of science, which is what makes science absolutely indispensible as a means of arriving at verifiable truth. I have written, and will continue to assert, that science cannot replace faith, or philosophy, but likewise, that faith and philosophy cannot replace science. Anyone who believes that faith can conveniently substitute for facts, or who feels that any kind of science runs counter to their beliefs I think does a disservice to both faith and reason. MY RESPONSE: I certainly agree with your last statement inasmuch as I do not believe that "ANY kind of science" runs counter to my beliefs. It is the so-called "science of evolution" with which I disagree. YOU WROTE: I've studied the Bible, I've studied Christianity, I've studied a number of other faith traditions, and I've found some similarities and some truths that I believe to be universal. What I have not found is any compelling reason to dismiss observations and theories thoroughly developed and supported by scientific method and scientific inquiry. MY RESPONSE: Let me establish a point . I DO NOT "dismiss observations and theories thoroughly developed and supported by scientific method and scientific inquiry." I do question theories that are developed to support unproven hypotheses. YOU CONTINUE: But, as you allude, I suspect this discussion, while interesting and at times challenging for me, is probably ultimately pointless for either of us. MY RESPONSE: Therefore I will let you have a final say and forego any further rebuttal. YOU WROTE; As much as I have looked, I do not share your faith. As much as I try to illustrate the necessary and important difference between faith and science (at least to my way of thinking), you are clearly unmoved. MY RESPONSE: I disagree. I DO recognize the important difference between faith and science. I simply do not accept as "science," self-serving speculation about the origin of the universe and the origin, or ever-existence, of matter. YOU WROTE: I just hope for the rest of humanity that the next generation of scientists are firmly grounded in theories that are supported and supportable, and that provide a useful model for working in the physical world, not theories that would turn the clock of scientific advancement back a hundred years or more, largely to accomplish political and social goals that have nothing to do with science MY RESPONSE: And I sincerely hope that men will cease to deny their Creator and acknowledge the truth that God has put into the heart of every one of His creatures: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20 God bless Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, Would you please write out for me, your definition of "faith." Also, perhaps you could share what are some of your basic spiritual beliefs. Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 10, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
I guess we have all had ample opportunity to share our opinions and I, for one, feel that I am getting somewhat redundant in my responses. I really don't know of many different ways to ask the question, "From whence came the primordial soup from which you say we evolved?" In faith, you believe that it always existed or that it came into being from nothing, some billions of years ago. Because it is a merely product of time and chance it is devoid of causation, and the purpose of life is nebulous. In faith, I believe that there is a Creator God who always existed, and who created His cosmos and His creatures with a specific purpose in mind. His promise of an eternal after-life gives both meaning and purpose to the lives of those to whom that promise applies. Inasmuch as neither of us can prove the basic tenet of our faith, we must rely upon the testimony of the principals of that faith. For yourself, that is the bevy of scientists who claim to have discovered the origin of human species, but have been unable to prove their theory regarding the origin of the universe. For myself, I rely upon the testimony of the written Word of God, for which I can offer no proof of its authenticity. That brings me full circle to the “challenge” which I proposed in one of my early posts. In regard to proving the existence of God, I had written to Sansabelt Savior, the following: Fortunately, God is not constrained by the inabilities of His finite creatures such as I, and He “levels off the playing field so to speak, by providing even the most intellectually inept among us with the opportunity to bear witness to His existence. And so, I would like to propose a method by which you, or anyone else, can determine whether there is a Creator God - a God who speaks to His creatures in a manner that transcends the intellect and goes to the very depths of our soul and spirit. For God is spirit, and He must be sought on a spiritual level. I don’t wish to imply that our understanding of God is devoid of any intellectual comprehension, but neither is He simply an entity that can be solved and understood like a geometric equation to which we confidently affix our Q.E.D. And don't misunderstand, what I propose is not something mystical (although one might well find it to be so), nor am I suggesting some sort of yoga-like meditative process. As a follower of Jesus Christ - [I don't readily refer to myself as a "Christian," since, anymore, the name seems to rightly bear a connotation of a right-wing radical who believes that men's hearts and minds can be manipulated through the legislative and political process] - as one of His followers, I can confidently say that there is a God who has spoken to men through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Living Word, and that He continues to speak to us through the Bible, His written Word. Now, I would be surprised if your immediate reaction would not be one of amusement or even scorn, since these are obviously statements that are beyond the realm of scientific proof. And you would be justified in rolling your eyes and reaching for the delete key. But, let me ask that you bear with me - unless - and this is critical - unless it would not be important for you to know whether or not my assertions are true. In that case, I graciously bow out of further discussion since I have nothing else to offer. But, if you do concede that it would be important, then let me offer my “challenge” - for lack of a better word. [Someone earlier dubbed it the “Chuckie challenge”] In the Bible, the Gospel of John has 21 chapters. It takes no longer than 5 minutes to read any one chapter. I would only ask that you read one chapter a day for 21 days. But, each time, before you do, I would ask that you pray (or talk, if you prefer) a short prayer, something like: "I don't believe that there is a God who speaks to men. But if you do exist, and you do speak to men through this bible, as one of your "followers" claims, then speak to me." I only ask that you commit to do this for 21 days. If, at the end of that time, God hasn't spoken to your very heart soul and spirit - then take the Bible and put it on the shelf with your other History and Philosophy books, for it would have no more value to you than any of them. You see, SS, I can't prove to you that there is a creator God - and I can't prove that the Bible is His written word - and I can't prove that Jesus Christ is His Son that He sent to give eternal life to those who believe on Him - no, I can't prove any of these incredible truths - but He can. In the love of Christ, Chuck Miller
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS I HAD WRITTEN: "Well SS, I would not be so brazen as to make predictions as to how God is going to deal with any particular sin." YOU RESPONDED: Of course, you also wrote, "Let me add, however, that I personally view attempts to find a cure for AIDS and STDs to be fraught with failure and frustration. I do believe this is the will of God for those whom He has given over to their degrading passions." Feel free to illustrate the consistency of that position. MY REPONSE: I won’t mince words about “making a prediction” and voicing an opinion. If you see it as a prediction, OK. YOU WROTE: Oh, and of course I imagine that the development of antibiotics, curing syphilis, is probably totally different since that particular disease afflicted heterosexual men in the Western World in large numbers. Oh, and of course I imagine that the development of antibiotics, curing syphilis, is probably totally different since that particular disease afflicted heterosexual men in the Western World in large numbers. MY RESPONSE: Interesting that you should select another disease that is generally associated with immoral conduct. And it’s also interesting that on site www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm we find the following statement: “The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.” “to abstain from sexual contact” - interesting SCIENTIFIC discovery. I also read the following: “Genital sores (chancres) caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV infection when syphilis is present.” I HAD WRITTEN: "most scientists absolutely reject any acknowledgement of the spiritual in their observations." YOU RESPONDED: That's what is demanded of the paradigm. It's built on observation and reason, not faith, and that's the only way that scientific research and reason can be of benefit to mankind. MY RESPONSE: Are you actually suggesting that it doesn’t take faith to believe that something came into being out of nothing or that something always existed? YOU WROTE: I have this suspicion that many of those who see legitimacy in "scientific theories" like Intelligent Design fail to see the logical extension of their beliefs, which is an evisceration of meaningful scientific reasoning and a return to the superstition of the Middle Ages, which was frankly far more pagan than Christian in character. MY RESPONSE: I don’t want to make assumptions about the “many of those” to whom you refer. If you want to question me about what I believe, I’ll be glad to answer your questions, but I don’t care to make a defense for your imaginary host of those who want to return to the superstitions of the Middle Ages. YOU WROTE: Fundamentalism, and literalism in the reading of religious texts tend towards a kind of rabid anti-intellectualism that replaces real understanding of any religious text with strangely relativist ideas about facts and truths being unknowable except via an acceptence of a given set of dogmatic positions MY RESPONSE: SS, why don’t you give me an example of your “real understanding” of a particular text about which Fundamentalists and literalists have strangely relativistic ideas. YOU CONTINUE: and I have yet to hear any logical explanation as to why the magical key to understanding lies in uncritically accepting what a small population of zealots unthinkingly believes. MY RESPONSE: I’ll let the apostle Paul give his explanation. He said, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Yeah, Paul was a zealot, and I’m sure his explanation doesn’t sound very logical to you - but you asked. Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, YOU WROTE: Chuck, I realize that your preference is for a "change in lifestyle" for anyone who disagrees with your assertions; that being said, I suspect that predicting that there will be no cure for AIDS, or any other given ailment, is bound for failure over a long enough timeline. MY RESPONSE: Only time will tell if there will be a cure for AIDS. I made no assertions or predictions about “other” ailments, My “preference for a change in lifestyle” is based upon the fact that it saves lives. What has the “preference” of your scientists done to prevent the spread of this deadly virus? And how successful have been their cures for it? My contention is that - if AIDS is God’s punishment for immoral conduct, then there will be no permanent cure. YOU WROTE: I would posit that it is a dangerous thing to faith to tie your beliefs to assertions about the limitations of technology or of human understanding. MY RESPONSE: Well SS, I would not be so brazen as to make predictions as to how God is going to deal with any particular sin. But I do know that He often gives us warning in order that we can repent and change our ways. And I also know that there can be terrible consequences to ignoring His warnings. YOU WROTE: This, as much as anything, is my problem with an opposition to any scientific theory on theological grounds. MY RESPONSE: Then your problem isn’t with me, SS, since I have no opposition to many scientific theories YOU WROTE: I think that, as human understanding of natural phenomena increases, a reliance on a mythic understanding of the universe, to the exclusion of or in opposition to scientific reasoning, results either in a complete denial of the role of faith or in a rejection of scientific reasoning in favor of fundamentalist beliefs. MY RESPONSE: I agree and believe that much of scientific reasoning is compatible with my spiritual understanding of mankind. If you consider my beliefs about a Creator God to be a “reliance on a mythical understanding of the universe” that is your prerogative. Whereas my position integrates much scientific reasoning into my spiritual understanding of the universe, most scientists absolutely reject any acknowledgement of the spiritual in their observations. That is their prerogative. Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, YOU WROTE: Ah, but we also look for cures for any number of other ailments that can be avoided by changed behavior. MY RESPONSE: I never suggested that we shouldn't. YOU WROTE: Should we stop trying to cure delayed onset diabetes? How about most cancers? Should we stop treating broken bones on the basis that they can largely be avoided? MY RESPONSE: No YOU WROTE: At what point is medical science allowed to simply treat any condition that afflicts mankind? Because that is the only position that seems reasonable to me. MY RESPONSE: Medical science will continue to treat any condition that afflicts mankind because it is the humane thing to do. For this I commend them. I personally believe that potential profit is not the least determinant factor when the financing of medical research is considered. Not entirely altruistic, but understandable. All I am saying is that science sometimes belittles the efforts of those who would seek to prevent the contracting and spread of sexually transmitted diseases by seeking to encourage a change in conduct and moral values. I have no objection to scientists trying to find a cure for these diseases. But, I would rather try to encourage a change in life-style, and the only ones I have known who have successfully accomplished this, are those who have turned their lives over to Jesus Christ. YOU WROTE: As for your question about the source of primordial bacteria and viruses, that's exactly what scientists seek to understand by asking questions that are based on a desire to understand, rather than on a desire to evangelize. Reason serves us all. Don't shut it off. MY RESPONSE: I don't object to scientists asking questions in seeking to understand. I don't object to your embracing their efforts and their theories. I question their theories and have stated my reasons. If, in the process I “evangelize,” I make no apologies. YOU WROTE: Oh, and by the way, reasoning based on evidence is not dogma. Present any physical evidence you have for any of your assertions, and then we can talk about the biases of science. MY REPONSE: Evidence? I can produce no more physical evidence for the existence of a Creator God than you can produce scientific evidence for the origin of life. I have read “ubiquity and significance” and find that scientists are re-thinking some of their previous theories and changing some of the ideas they previously held concerning life, but still don’t seem to have a clue as to the origin of the viruses, or if they do, they are being very secretive about it. And it seems that they may, as they say, “find it necessary to define these words (“life” and “living”) or else give up using them and coin others." That certainly can be a convenient way to justify one’s theories. My guess is that they will “give up” using “time,” thus eliminating “beginning” or “origin.” and just assume that these viruses and bacteria and matter always existed out there somewhere just waiting for a bolt of lightening that always existed to strike and start the evolution process. I wouldn’t even suggest any effort to hinder scientific probing, but then neither would I hold out much hope for those who are currently infected with the AIDS virus, or those who find themselves incapable of restraining themselves from activities that put them at risk of contracting it. And, by the way, I accept Merriam Webster’s definitions of dogma as: 1 a : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet b : a code of such tenets *pedagogical dogma* c : a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds 2 : a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Grinth, I may be incorrect in my understanding of Romans 1:21-27 and would be interested in hearing what you think is the meaning of the passage. Chuck
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, YOU WROTE: It's interesting to me that the diseases that are punishments for sin seem to exclusively be those sins that involve non-sterile sharing of body fluids. MY RESPONSE, Yeah, SS, that’s something you might ask your scientist friends about. Perhaps they have a scientific explanation. YOU WROTE: No word on any diseases that afflict sins of pride, or violence, or neglect. I guess those sins are okay with God. RESPONSE: Evidently you’ve never read 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, or the numerous accounts of how God punished His own chosen people when they were disobedient. YOU WROTE: For that matter, it would seem that the same sins, if they're committed with hygienic protections, are a-okay as well. MY RESPONSE: Yeah, and maybe a body condom might afford protection against these others. YOU WROTE: Or maybe we're just beginning to understand things like the ubiquity and significance of viruses, and now is not the time to descend into dogmatic presumptions about the nature of illness. MY RESPONSE: I’ve only given my personal thoughts, and I guess I have every right to be as dogmatic about my beliefs as these august scientists have concerning theirs. But when I read such dogmatic statements as - “some 4 billion years ago, when the interaction between primordial bacteria and viruses culminated in the "mother cell," the common ancestor of all life on Earth” - when I read stuff like this, I still have to ask the very scientific question - “Where did the “primordial bacteria” and “viruses” come from?” And maybe it’s time to ask the scientists a question based upon nothing more than common sense - “If sexual contact with persons infected with the AIDS virus can spread the virus, and avoiding such sexual contact is a foolproof way of avoiding the virus, why do you spend your time trying to find a way to cure the virus rather than a way to encourage and promote the avoidance of sexual contact?” But of course, that would entail involving themselves in a moral question which has no place in scientific dialogue. Just for your reference, SS, Romans 1:2-28 reads: 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Chuck
Toggle Commented Feb 27, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Grinth, I realize that I get a bit long-winded in some of my responses, but it seems as though I’m spending an undue amount of time discussing what you perceive to be the attitude and motives of the proponents of ID, although they are not necessarily my own. . Your main concerns with them seems to be threefold (1) their insistence that Intelligent Design be taught in the public schools, (2) your view that this as an attempt by Christians to proselytize in the classroom (3) this has been a hindrance to the progress of scientific study. All of these are legitimate concerns and I’ll try to address them without making a defense for them. I HAD WRITTEN: I can’t speak for all of the proponents of ID, but I don’t really believe that they are all predisposed to hurting science. Obviously there are some who dogmatically oppose science, but I believe they are in the minority. Think about it, Grinth - Since the very idea of intelligent design has brought into question the validity of the theory of evolution, has that hindered the E theorist from pursuing his orher scientific endeavors? I don’t really think so - (see http://www.rae.org/) And has the ID theory hindered exploration in scientific fields by Creationists? It didn’t hinder a biochemist such as Dr. John Marcus (a creationist), in his current research described on a website as "novel anti-fungal proteins, their corresponding genes, and their application in genetic engineering of crop plants for disease resistance." I can give more examples. YOU RESPONDED: I think we are somewhat missing each other on this particular issue, which is probably my lack of clarity in my original response. I do not disagree in principle with what you have said, although I would say you are giving far too much credit to ID when you state that it has brought into question the validity of Evolution. The validity of Evolution has long been a debate, ID has simply brought this to the forefront of the media (again) in recent times. I completely concur that 'creationist' scientists are not necessarily hindered in their scientific pursuits, although I would suggest there is a distinct delineation between 'creationism' and ID. One of the 'creationist' scientists I find interesting is Dr. Hugh Ross, someone who distinctly makes a point that he is not a proponent of Intelligent design (the theory). One of the key issues in regards to ID is that many feel (including those of religious belief) ID is not concerned with scientific theory or disputing Evolution, but rather a vehicle to obtain a foothold for evangelizing in the public classroom. My point about Kansas was this: "In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena" (CNN). You yourself listed the definition of science as "b) - such knowledge or system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena." ID is, as I understand it, is more concerned with the supernatural than the physical, or natural world. It seeks to state that a 'higher being' is responsible for creating the physical world and through that assertion throw out any inconvenient tenants of Evolution that do not comply with this belief. Where I see personally see this as being a hindrance to science is through the way in which Intelligent Design has been formulated and implemented (again referencing Kansas as the most recent tangible evidence), it inherently fosters an environment where it is just as legitimate to say "It was the will of God" rather than to ask "how does this work." While you may be able to achieve a manageable synthesis between ID and the pursuit of science, there is every indication this is not the same case for those who are behind the push to install ID into the classroom. MY RESPONSE: I think, perhaps, you are making an assumption that Creationists (or proponents of ID) wish to avoid scientific inquiry and hide behind a veil of mysticism and, admittedly, your point is well founded when you are speaking of instances where miraculous occurrences are recorded in the Bible. I’ll admit that I myself haven’t searched for a scientific explanation for occurences such as the parting of the Red Sea, or the walls of Jericho coming down, and the many other miraculous events recorded in both the Old and New Testaments.. I accept them as being an exhibition of God’s omnipotence - not merely for the sake of flaunting His awesome power - but primarily to accomplish His purpose for His Chosen people. I have read some of “scientific” explanations concerning these miracles, but have not been dissuaded from my belief in the biblical accounts. So, yes, Grinth, I admit there are instances where I myself explain the unexplainable by attributing it to the hand of God. However, I find scientific discoveries of those like Louis Pasteur, Madame Currie, Jonas Salk, and others, to have been extremely beneficial in my own life. I am thankful that they probed into reasons for diseases and infirmities suffered by mankind, and came up with cures for them, instead of just rationalizing them away as “the will of God.” I would hope that even the most devout proponents of ID recognize the invaluable contributions that many Evolutionist scientists have made to mankind, and vice-versa. Let me add, however, that I personally view attempts to find a cure for AIDS and STDs to be fraught with failure and frustration. I do believe this is the will of God for those whom He has given over to their degrading passions (Romans 1:24-27) Despite the maligning and scorn that has been heaped upon the proponents of “abstinence,” no one has been able to show that it doesn’t work. As I said before - abstinence has not failed - the abstainers have. YOU WROTE: Again, let me try to clarify. By 'christian environment' I was not referring to the town, city, workplace etc - I was more referencing the idea that your personal social circles operate in a realm where you are exposed to those who profess to be christian (this sort of touches on a point I want to make about the definition of christian, but for the sake of my own mental sanity I am not going to get ahead of myself). My point about miracles was to use an example of the 'unscientific' environment I feel ID fosters. I would only now add that again I return to the fact that you may be able to engage ID in a personal manner that does not hinder science, but the way in which it is being propagated does not successfully obtain that same synergy. MY RESPONSE: There probably are SOME Christians who would like to see the teaching of Evolution banned in the public schools. I emphasize “some,” since I also have heard many who are not pushing for the banning of evolutional study, but rather, would like to have ID presented as an alternative to it based upon a religious belief. Undoubtedly, there are also those whose primary purpose is to devise a means for evangelizing in the public schools. And although I would not endorse the attempts of those who would employ this as a “means” or “method” by which they can do so, I have no problem with those who envision the opportunities it would present because of the questions it would undoubtedly raise in the minds of some of the students. One who has come to know the Living God should have a desire to share the good news of redemption with those who do not know. I, myself, have done the same when circumstances afforded an opportunity to share my faith with others. But I would propose that such discussion should be restricted to extra-curricular activities such as Bible studies or Christian organizations, and not discussed in the classroom.. I HAD WRITTEN: If we take Christ out of the equation, we have no God, no creation no absolute right or wrong. For if we believe that we came into being out of some uncreated matter, by some unexplainable chance (for, what caused the "bang" or the lightening, or whatever it was, that began the process of changing that matter into humans?) - if we believe that; then from whence came our concept of right and wrong? And who defines it, Grinth? And for that matter, who decides who defines it? And who gives them the right to define it? We see that, in Godless societies, the one or ones in power do the deciding. And who is to say that they are wrong? YOU RESPONDED: I don’t quite follow your line of reasoning. What about the countless peoples who survived just fine without even being aware of the Bible or what is in it? One could argue that on a basic level, right and wrong came out of an instinctual need for survival. Pure chaos does not lend itself to this very well. If we are going to be more specific, what is considered right and wrong varies even between members of the same church. i.e. you may interpret a specific verse one way and someone else interprets it differently. MY RESPONSE: The Bible does not say that one has to be aware of the Bible and what is in it. What it does say is, “ because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20) Some would propose right and wrong as coming out of an “instinctual” need for survival - which does not involve any thought process. If this is true, then I must believe either that this instinct was inherent in matter, or that it came into being in matter at some point during the evolutionary process. This is difficult for me to understand. I believe that right and wrong comes out of a God-given “consciousness” - which involves understanding and choice, whether or not, one is aware of the Bible and what is in it. YOU WROTE: I would posit that there isn't such a thing as absolute right or wrong (or at least we will never be able to attain absolute right or wrong) because 1. The Bible does not address every instance of morality 2. More importantly, it is an inescapable fact that we, as humans, are unable to escape our own interference, or filter, when engaging a text like the Bible. I will try and explain my viewpoint in a different manner, using basic Film Theory, so hopefully you will indulge me for a couple of minutes here (it is directly connected I swear): One of the focal points of discussion in the realm of Film Theory that has been present since Film Theory emerged is the duality of art and science that is inherent in cinema. When the film camera was first invented (and even the photographic camera before it) the popular mode of thought was that photography and consequently cinema was a scientific medium and not an art form. The photograph was hailed as a scientific achievement because it appeared to successfully remove man from the active reproduction of reality. Unlike artistic mediums such as sculpture and painting, the photograph was created by a machine, and not reliant on man's ability to percieve reality and then subsequently reproduce it. Cinema was hailed as an even greater scientific achievement, because it was able to recreate not only an image, but movement while additionally being able to percieve aspects of physical reality that the human mind/eye is not capable of. Due to this apparent removal of man from the equation it was subsequently argued that photography and cinema were not artistic mediums, but a scientific one that created a recording of pure reality. A quick summation of early film theory that pertains to our discussion showed this: Man still operates the camera therefore there is active choice in what you have seen, cinema in actuality creates an illusion of reality, and even the basic form of an object can be manipulated depending upon a simple choice of angle combined with our own perception as a spectator. Now to tie this all together, I am equating the absolute right and wrong you says exists in the Bible with 'cinematic reality'. Perhaps there is an absolute right and wrong and the Bible contains these absolutes, but we can never hope to attain these absolutes because they will always be viewed through the eyes of the human camera, which of course differs from person to person. MY RESPONSE: In other words, if we were to suspend a pyramid in space and take pictures of it from several different vantage points, each of those vantage points would produce a different perspective. When viewed from below, it would appear to be a square. When viewed from the side, it would appear as a triangle, and when viewed from above, it would appear as a square with lines converging from each corner to the center of the square. To each viewer, his perception would be true, but none would be absolute truth. Your analogy is then based upon the limitations of the camera and of the camera holder, and even upon the intent or desire of the camera holder, since he may desire to create the impression that we are viewing a square. Well, Grinth, allow me to expand upon your Film Theory and give you my own theory. Let’s just say that one comes along who says, “I am the master cameraman and with my omni camera I have filmed every possible scene and have assembled a gallery of myriads of videos that reveal the true picture of anything that ever existed. Just tell me what you want to see and I will tell you what the true picture is. And to prove my reliability, I am going to show you some of my past work so that you will know that my videos are true.” But there are some who doubt and say, “But how do we know that your future pictures will be true?” He answers, “You just have to trust me based upon what I have already shown you.” I don’t want to take the analogy too far, but I think you see where I am heading. Some folks would say, “I don’t trust this guy who calls himself the master cameraman, so I am going to keep on getting my information from these other guys with their regular cameras.” Eventually it boils down to - in whom are you going to put your trust? YOU SAID: I am equating the absolute right and wrong you says exists in the Bible with 'cinematic reality'. Perhaps there is an absolute right and wrong and the Bible contains these absolutes, but we can never hope to attain these absolutes because they will always be viewed through the eyes of the human camera, which of course differs from person to person.” MY RESPONSE: In the Film Theory, absolutes are impossible because of the limitations of the camera, and also because of the particular biases of the both the photographer and the viewer. And so, the problem is not with the view itself, but rather, with the eye of the viewer or the capabilities of the camera. And as I said, it may even depend upon what the camera man desires to be perceived as reality. So it is with the truth of the scriptures. The truth is there, and it is absolute (pardon the redundancy). And so, the fact that we have imperfect cameras and men doing what they desire with the view that they are photographing, it does not alter the truth of the view . In like manner, the fact that we have imperfect knowledge, and men doing what they wish with the words of the scriptures does not altar the truth of the scriptures. The apostle Paul said, “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:3-5) Just as God’s faithfulness was not dependent upon the Jew’s belief in it, neither is God’s truth dependent upon, man’s acceptance of it. It is not sufficient to say, “God speaks truth.” God IS truth. And the scriptures refute your contention that “we can never hope to attain these absolutes, Grinth” for Jesus said, “ If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32). So - am I saying that we will know all truth when we become believers? No, that is not what I’m suggesting. But we shall certainly know THE truth that is necessary for the moment, and requisite for that knowledge is “continuing in His word.” But it is not enough to just to study to attain knowledge. We must apply it and experience the result of doing so. As the Apostle James said, “ But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does“ (James 1:25). And as we learn and apply one truth, He takes us on to another deeper one. Now, I understand what you are saying when you point out that different individuals may derive different meanings from a particular verse or passage of scripture. God does not promise that there will be a consensus of His truth, although that is what He desires for His church. But individually, we may attain to the truth through the leading of the Holy Spirit. And I must recognize that I am no less subjective than the next person. So, when I find myself in disagreement with another Christian concerning the meaning of ta verse or passage, I must be willing to acknowledge that I could be wrong in regard to what I believe and seek to become of one mind and one judgment with him in accordance with Paul’s admonition: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment“ (1 Corinthians 1:9-10). The reason for such a lack of unity in the church today is not the fault of the Holy Spirit, but rather that of proud men who think they have a corner on the truth. I concur with what Robert Govett who said: “But all who have singleness of eye may pray in faith for God's enlightenment of them on whatever subject they differ, assured that unity of judgement and of feeling in the church is an object dear to the heart of our Lord.” God does not hold us accountable for what we do not know. But neither does He condone our lack of diligence in seeking to know. He can excuse ignorance, but not slothfulness. He can excuse error, but not pride. I HAD WRITTEN: Your suppositions have no biblical basis, Grinth, so it’s idle speculation to dwell on the hypothetical. But for the moment, let’s accept your hypothesis and assume that the Bible is wrong, and that there is no judgement after death. And what if the fear of eternal punishment was the reason for my living a moral life? Consider this - If such were case and I were wtong, then would I be any worse off for having living my life as if there were a judgement? And would my contribution to the society in which I lived be any less? Now, let me ask you, Grinth, “What if you wrong and there IS a judgement after death? Since there are no appeals in the divine court, would not yours be a tragic error? YOU RESPONDED: Well, obviously this question was hypothetical in nature. You have suggested that your particular christian beliefs are the only answer to the worlds problems, going on to suggest a direct connection to the possibility of eternal damnation as being a direct motivational force in solving these problems. I was asking the question because I don't believe this to be the case. But in a sense your final question to me is revealing of what I [w]as more inquiring about. The nature of your question is akin to me asking you "Would you like to take out earthquake insurance on your house. It might not ever happen but if it did than wouldn't it be a tragic error not too." I don't believe in making choices out of fear. One should not follow the tenants of religous belief out of some innate fear of death. Ultimately though, I think are many people who lead lives that do not lend themselves to the 'problems' you speak of, while not following your interpretation of christianity. MY RESPONSE: Again, your point is well taken and I admit that my hypothesis was somewhat Pascalian. We shouldn’t base our actions simply upon deductive reasoning. However, having said that, I would add that there certainly is no conflict between biblical truth and logical reasoning. But too often, logical reasoning and fear are not sufficient to cause us to do what we know is right, or prevent us from doing what is wrong. I can only cite my own experience as a Catholic wherein my conduct was often dictated - not by any positive motive - but rather, by my fear of going to hell. Even then, it was not sufficient motive to deter me from sinning. Confessing to a priest offered somewhat of a respite from that fear (albeit, only a temporary one), and only served to afford me the uneasy comfort of hopefully supposing I would be “lucky” enough to have an opportunity to make a final confession before being taken by death. It was what I would describe as “Catholic roulette.” It was only after I had come to understand the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, that the fear of death no longer held grip over me. When I understood in the very depths of my being, that my eternal salvation was not based upon what I did, but upon what He had done, there was an assurance that defies logic or our finite understanding. For why should the very God of creation send His Son to give His life as a ransom for a wretched sinner such as I? Logic dictates that surely I must DO something to earn my eternal life, for we read that “The wages of sin is death” - a righteous condemnation. But then we hear that glorious acquittal - “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It wasn’t the fear of hellfire that brought a change in my life, but rather, the blessed assurance of my redemption. I HAD WRITTEN: What gives meaning to your life, Grinth? ....Yes, but it only seemed to satisfy when I got some gratification from it. The joy of a getting new car, a bigger house, more things. The love expressed by a family member or a friend. The thanks from someone whom I had helped. All of these seemed to give meaning to my life. But they were all short-lived. YOU RESPONDED: I don't believe one needs to attach meaning to one specific thing. It can be an amalgamation of things. If I were to pick one thing I would say it is finding your 'passion' and immersing yourself in it. Passion here has several meanings, not only in the contemporary sense, but also in the idea that it is a suffering, an obsession - something that consumes you. MY RESPONSE: Far be it from me to try to belittle someone else’s “passion,” nor claim that it can not afford meaning in their life. I have known folks who seemed to get a real measure of happiness from pursuing and achieving goals pertaining to their particular passion - although, admittedly, there haven’t been that many. Again, I can only relate to my own disappointments in the short duration of happiness that ensued in the aftermath of some of my own former passionate pursuits. It wasn’t until the reality of the resurrection - which as a Catholic, had been more of an abstraction - it wasn’t until then that my actions took on a “meaning” beyond the present. YOU CONTINUED: I would say in your case it appears to be the Bible and God. I am not suggesting this is illigitmate, but it is something I dont quite understand these days, speaking as someone who spent 20 years in the church, studying the Bible, and whole-heartedly trying to do the best he could in the eyes of God. MY RESPONSE: It would be presumptuous of me to speculate upon the reason that you never found any lasting meaning through your efforts to live a Godly life. I make no claim of uniqueness or of being more spiritual than any other believer. I just revel in the joy of what He has done in my life and would simply cite His promise of Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” I HAD WRITTEN: But the fact that He has allowed us to have the opportunity to make choices …….. YOU RESPONDED: This leads to the penultimate paradox of the christian faith. Is everything preordained or do we have free will? It is hard to argue, in my opinion, that one has free will if you believe in God and the Bible. MY RESPONSE: I’m not going to try to give you some deep theological explanation as to how to reconcile these seemingly paradoxical truths, because I don’t as yet fully understand it all myself. I have read some treatises on the subject and haven’t been fully satisfied, and I’ve even written one of my own on “Predestination“ if you care to read it. There are times when I simply must say, like David: O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. Psalm 131:1-2 Now this may seem like a contradiction of my previous statement about knowing God’s truth, Grinth, but I find myself humbled at times by my inability to fathom the depths of His ways. There is a quiet contentment in knowing Him and placing my trust in Him. This may be a feeble analogy, but it is akin to the trust I put in my grandson when he comes over to fix my computer. His past performance has earned my confidence in his ability, and allows me to trust in what he tells me, even though I don’t always understand what he’s talking about. Even Paul - who had been given revelations that apparently, no other mortal man had ever looked upon (2 Corinthians 12:1-11) - even he would say, when he pondered some of these mysteries. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). We must not try to bring God down to our level, but must seek to be ever reaching for His. For He says: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9 And He also says, "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” - Luke 11:10 God bless, Chuck chuckfmiller@hotmail.com
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Grinth, I've been out of town and haven't had an opportunity to give my full response to your latest post. It should be ready in a day or two. Chuck
Toggle Commented Feb 22, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Grinth: YOU WROTE: Just thought I would add a couple comments if thats ok. MY RESPONSE: Grinth, Your comments are welcome, and I have no doubt that you are expressing what many others think. You have asked some interesting questions and pose some even more interesting scenarios on which I will give my own particular perspective, derived either directly from the Bible or indirectly from the principles intrinsic to it. YOU WROTE: The very nature of Intelligent Design makes it inherently predisposed to hurting science. MY RESPONSE: I can’t speak for all of the proponents of ID, but I don’t really believe that they are all predisposed to hurting science. Obviously there are some who dogmatically oppose science, but I believe they are in the minority. Think about it, Grinth - Since the very idea of intelligent design has brought into question the validity of the theory of evolution, has that hindered the E theorist from pursuing his orher scientific endeavors? I don’t really think so - (see http://www.rae.org/) And has the ID theory hindered exploration in scientific fields by Creationists? It didn’t hinder a biochemist such as Dr. John Marcus (a creationist), in his current research described on a website as "novel anti-fungal proteins, their corresponding genes, and their application in genetic engineering of crop plants for disease resistance." I can give more examples. YOU WROTE: Science in modern times has been molded and defined by the search for natural explanations for phenomena witnessed in the natural world. MY RESPONSE: And they have made some tremendous contributions to society in the process, yet they still have never been able to give any kind of explanation for the origin of the "primordial soup or "matter" or "self-replicating chemicals," or whatever it is from which we have theoretically evolved? I’m sure you’ve heard all the arguments against evolution, Grinth, and I don’t wish to be redundant, but consider how "unscientific" it is to make an assumption that these things always existed, or that they came into being out of nothing. YOU WROTE: ID seeks to rewrite this method, and one only has to look as far as Kansas to see that the implimentation of ID was accompanied by an official change in the definition of science. MY RESPONSE: I’m not familiar with there being an attempt to change the definition of "science," (but then I haven’t really followed this Kansas ID/Evolution debate) and I am quite willing to accept the one found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It defines “science“ as: (a) - A knowledge or system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws through scientific method (b) - such knowledge or system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena Again, pardon the redundancy, but I have yet to hear what "scientific method" was used to determine the ever-changing opinions of scientists as to where the "soup" or "matter" or "peas" came from. YOU WROTE: Living in an abundantly christian environment, as it seems you do, I am sure you have encountered instances of people proclaiming 'miracles' they witnessed or personally experienced. MY RESPONSE: Wrong assumption, Grinth. I live in a community where there are a lot of churches (some of the "mega" variety) and many "church go-ers," but I’d hardly call it a "Christian environment." And I haven’t really encountered many instances of people proclaiming "miracles." YOU WROTE: Now whether or not these miracles have truly occured is not the concern of my point, rather it is the fact that within the mindset of Intelligent design and consequently christianity, it is enough to say God performed a miracle. What if one of these miracles actually have a scientific explaination behind them? Something that simply has failed to have been discovered? Through ID's inclination to attribute events to the supernatural, there is the fostering of the idea that no further exploration or study is needed. After all, humans can't hope to understand the ways of God. MY RESPONSE: I personally have not witnessed any miracles and really don’t need to in order to maintain my faith in God. That’s what faith is all about. Jesus used miracles for a specific purpose and even gave miraculous power to some of His followers. They were always used to authenticate the messenger and the message. And as for examining them for scientific explanations - I say, have at it. YOU WROTE: Science seeks to find answers to these questions, in the hopes of being able to understand and consequently reproduce the phenomena in question. It is precisely this questioning mindset that has lead to the advancement of science to where it is today, and it is the questioning that Intelligent Design disregards. MY RESPONSE: I don’t believe I’ve really seen that as being the purpose of many who raise questions concerning the miracles described in the Bible. I have seen attempts made to "scientifically" explain away those miracles. I’m sure the scientific explanations satisfy the non-believer, but they do nothing to dissuade me of my beliefs. I personally welcome inquiry into the scriptural accounts of Jesus' miracles and those attributed to His disciples. More than one of the "skeptics " who did so have come to believe on Jesus Christ for eternal life. We’re all familiar with the instances of well-meaning "Christians" constantly trying to prove Biblical truth by making discoveries; "scientific" or otherwise, about the Ark on Mount Ararat, the Cloth of Turin, some of the rather bizarre “apparitions” of Jesus or Mary, or other such useless endeavors. I say "useless," because the believer doesn’t need them, and ironically, they never seem to convince the non-believer anyway. YOU WROTE: You're saying a lot in this brief segment. Your words seem to suggest that you don't believe man can act in any way other than selfishness and self-destruction unless they believe in God. You also, within the context of these comments, seem to believe that this is also the case if someone believes in "God" but not in a christian sense. MY RESPONSE: I can’t comprehend God, except in a Christian sense, Grinth, for without Christ, there is no Creator God. In John 1 we read: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14 If we take Christ out of the equation, we have no God, no creation no absolute right or wrong. For if we believe that we came into being out of some uncreated matter, by some unexplainable chance (for, what caused the "bang" or the lightening, or whatever it was, that began the process of changing that matter into humans?) - if we believe that; then from whence came our concept of right and wrong? And who defines it, Grinth? And for that matter, who decides who defines it? And who gives them the right to define it? We see that, in Godless societies, the one or ones in power do the deciding. And who is to say that they are wrong? YOU WROTE: If your a Hindu, it doesnt count because as you stated " I submit that Christianity - or I should say - following Christ offers the only permanent solution". MY RESPONSE: Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth And the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). I take that to mean exactly what it says. God doesn’t mince words. Either you believe it or you reject it. YOU WROTE: Finally, you have done an excellent job of highlighting the abuse of science to argue why science does not provide the answers you claim contemporary christianity does, yet you have neglected to consider, within the framework of this discussion, the horrid history of abuse in the name of the very same christianity you proclaim has the answers. The real problem that arises in attempting to explain these abuses comes from the fact that many of the instigators behind these moments in history truly believed they were following God's Biblical word and directly in-line with his word. In our current cultural environment there is a desire to paint things as good vs. evil, yet unfortunately there are not that many real life, "I love being evil" James Bond villians out there. Without getting sidetracked, the point being then the issue becomes a personal interpretation of God's will. In this case, you firmly believe you have the sole true understanding of proper christianity and how that will offer a permanent solution to the problems facing the planet as it were. I guess in my own roundabout way, I'm trying to say that christianity can never be the permanent answer because it will always be accessed through a filter of personal interpretation, whether it is your own, your friends, or your Pastor's. Interestingly, you also seem to feel the weight behind this proposition is because God institutes a reason for moral fortitude, inspiring a desire to follow moral absolutes through the promise of eternal life and the fear of eternal damnation (You wrote: no creation, no creator, no ultimate judge or judgment, hence no sin). Other religions include these very same promises and should therefore fall under the umbrella of providing 'permanent answers'. MY RESPONSE: You err, Grinth, when you say, "in the name of the very same christianity you proclaim . . . ." I do not proclaim my beliefs in the name of what is called "Christianity." As I have previously stated, I disdain much of what is called "Christianity" today. I say that because I believe that Jesus disdains it. I disavow much of the activity of the so-called “Christian Right” and those who promote it. It is of little import that a monument of the ten Commandments is disallowed in a public place. God said that with His New Covenant, established in His Son, He would put His commandments in our hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33) And one doesn’t have to be a biblical scholar to recognize that the thousands of denominations (divisions) in Christendom are a direct violation of God’s word. We are admonished by the Apostle Paul, " Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1Corinthians 1:10). But men chose to make divisions in the church and separate themselves into denominations. I believe this is an abomination, and runs counter to Christ’s purpose for His church. If I sound as though I believe I have, as you say, “the sole true understanding of proper Christianity,” let me assure you that there are others who feel the same as I, though I’ll admit that I haven’t found all that many in this country. In fact, I believe most of the true Christians today are found in the house churches in China. And if I am misinterpreting the Scriptures, then I will give an account for my error. Concerning what I do believe - yes, I am quite firm, but as long as there are other Christians who are in disagreement with me, I must acknowledge the fact that I could be in error and stand ready to be scripturally corrected. Regarding your statement that “other religions include these very same promises” I don’t know of any other than Jesus who has said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). Every other religion requires some kind of work on the part of its adherents in order to attain to a life beyond this one. Jesus said that faith alone is all that is required in order to receive eternal life as a free gift (Romans 6:23). Having been under the yoke of Catholicism for 47 years, and being taught that I could not have any assurance of my salvation, it was an incredible revelation to learn that I could know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was saved eternally. YOU WROTE: Finally I have a couple of sincere questions: 1. What if there was a creator but there would be no judgement after death, you simply joined God in heaven? Would christianity still instill an order of morality since there is still a God, or is it really the matter of eternal punishment that is responsible for encouraging moral living? MY RESPONSE: Your suppositions have no biblical basis, Grinth, so it’s idle speculation to dwell on the hypothetical. But for the moment, let’s accept your hypothesis and assume that the Bible is wrong, and that there is no judgement after death. And what if the fear of eternal punishment was the reason for my living a moral life? Consider this - If such were case and I were wtong, then would I be any worse off for having living my life as if there were a judgement? And would my contribution to the society in which I lived be any less? Now, let me ask you, Grinth, “What if you wrong and there IS a judgement after death? Since there are no appeals in the divine court, would not yours be a tragic error? YOU WROTE: 2. What about those who live what a christian would consider a morally upright life, yet don't believe in God. How are they able to avoid the moral relativism and self-destruction without God? MY RESPONSE Your question is based upon the assumption that an atheist CAN avoid moral relativism. My question to you would be, "HOW would an atheist avoid moral relativism?" If he based his conduct upon some moral absolutes, what would be their source? It is not for me to judge or evaluate the life of one who doesn‘t believe in God. Outward appearances can be deceiving and there will even be those who call themselves Christians to whom He will say, "I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23) God says He will judge us for eternal life - not on the basis of a "morally upright life," since He says "There is none righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10) - He will judge on the basis of whether or not we believe on His Son, the only righteous One. And how do you define a "morally upright life," Grinth? What is the standard? What you may consider to be a morally upright life, may be a foolish endeavor to someone else. As for myself, I consider a person to be morally upright who, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, abides by the standards that Christ has established. But one thing is certain - we are not be able to do it without the grace of God. To attempt to do so is tantamount to trying to run a car without gasoline. I contend that it is humanly impossible for a person to - "love those who hate you; love your enemies - do good to those who hate you - bless those who curse you - pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28) Yes, it is humanly impossible to do these things without the enabling of the Spirit of God. One who would attempt to live this kind of "morally upright" life would eventually recognize the hopelessness of such an endeavor snd acknowledge their need for a Savior and turn to Christ for their salvation, YOU WROTE: 3. (The one I'm really curious about) You, and all christians, refer to how being a christian and believing in God/Jesus gives meaning to an otherwise meaningless life? What is that meaning? I don't believe I've ever heard anyone actually formulate a tangible description of that meaning? MY RESPONSE: I guess that's a matter of one's own personal feelings. What gives meaning to your life, Grinth? For many folks today, it's material things. For others, it's family relationships and friends. For still others, it's philanthropic giving. And I can understand the satisfaction and "meaning" that each of these can bring to our life. Having been down that road, I can relate to the modern cliché - "been there, done that." Before I became a believer, I certainly did enjoy a measure of satisfaction from each and every one of them. So, you could say, “Well then, didn’t your life have meaning before?” Yes, but it only seemed to satisfy when I got some gratification from it. The joy of a getting new car, a bigger house, more things. The love expressed by a family member or a friend. The thanks from someone whom I had helped. All of these seemed to give meaning to my life. But they were all short-lived. I kept needing more, and I found that my circumstances could change so quickly, I.e., the new car gets old and needs repairs; a friend or family member disappoints; a gift or good deed goes unappreciated. It was wasn’t until I came to know Christ and began to apply His principles in my life that I began to experience a meaning that went beyond personal gratification. I learned the joy of being content and grateful for what I had, without seeking for more; to love and appreciate family and friends despite any shortcomings they might have; to give a gift or do a good deed without any need for a word of acknowledgement or appreciation. And as I did, I began to experience God’s pleasure and a new kind of gratification came in that awesome reality. YOU WROTE: As best as I can tell that meaning is simply: obey the tennants of Christianity, realise the ony reason you ever accomplish anything, or that anything good EVER happens to you is because of God, save as many other people from eternal damnation by converting them to christianity, and then due to that obedience you will be rewarded with the responsibility of bowing down before God and singing his praises for the rest of eternity. MY RESPONSE: Yeah, it does all sounds pretty unremarkable I suppose, but like the saying goes, “I guess you had to be there.” Obeying His tenets made the mundane tasks of my every day life take on a new meaning. To know that not only good things, but also the trials in my life were just momentary light afflictions that had eternal value. This turned those trials into special opportunities to know Him better. Having the joy of seeing the despondent young man I described in my January 17th post come to a life-changing knowledge of Christ made a journey to Hungary worth the cost and the jet lag. But as if these temporal benefits weren’t enough, He has promised eternal rewards for faithfulness. I’m no sure what all of that will entail, but comparing the joy that serving Him has brought, to the former temporary gratifications I had experienced makes me certain that there won’t be any disappointment. YOU WROTE: Honestly, and I'm not trying to be difficult, it seems the 'meaning' christians talk about boils down to discovering you have a Boss who constantly needs to be told how great he is. MY RESPONSE: Your perception is understandable, Grinth, but if that were true, He could just as easily have made a bunch of automatons who would have done just that. But the fact that He has allowed us to have the opportunity to make choices, bespeaks a Creator who has no need to be told how great He is. That makes Him even greater in my estimation and I don’t mind telling Him so, and I love telling others about Him. And paramount in all of this is the promise He makes to those who believe on Him - "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32). To be able to walk day by day in truth and to be free from doubts and anxiety, all the while looking to the day when Jesus will fulfill His promise to come again in glory and establish His eternal kingdom - It doesn’t get any better than that, Grinth. God bless, Chuck
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, YOU WROTE: Perhaps my original context would be helpful in answering this. Previously, I had written: "The Bible may communicate principles that are useful in your daily life, but you must rely on reason as you confront daily challenges. The Bible isn't going to tell you how to fix a printer, or how to solve logistical problems, or most of the strictly practical things that you face day-to-day." This was the vein in which I had intended the comment, and I think it stands in that vein. MY RESPONSE: Correct, and I would not argue the point for a moment. The problems to which I was referring are those concerning moral, ethical, or relational issues, and not of the leaky roof or dripping faucet variety YOU WROTE; I realize that you find the Bible to be useful in your spiritual path, Chuck, but I think to suggest the Bible goes beyond offering general principles, that it literally offers solutions to specific problems that we face in everyday life, is fanciful beyond my capacity for suspension of disbelief. Show me where in the Bible the text deals with fixing software conflicts. MY RESPONSE: Well, SS, I'll admit that the bible doesn't offer any solution to software conflicts. There certainly are times when I wish it did. But, I do know it has given me an understanding of how to deal with specific problems I face in my daily life. Someone accused me of using it as a crutch, and I heartily agree. But the word of God is much more profound than a simple "How to" book and requires spiritual understanding to comprehend its profundity. It declares: "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14) It wasn't until I had committed my life to Christ that the eyes of my understanding could begin to grasp the wonders that this book holds for those who are seeking to find truth. YOU WROTE: Or, for that matter, where it deals with the structuring of the solar system (remember when Christians presumed geocentrism, out of either faulty interpretation or just bad assumptions about the literalism of the text?), let alone the structuring of the universe? MY RESPONSE: You lost me here, SS, so I won’t try to defend geocentrism or anything else I don’t understand - and may not even believe myself. YOU WROTE: Or, how about structural engineering issues? I mean, you've got the Tower of Babel, but it seems that not every tall tower is destroyed because it approaches the heavens. MY REPONSE: An obvious fact, SS. The tower of Babel was built by men who were acting in defiance of God. There is much of the same kind of defiance being exhibited by ungodly men today, and their towers will tumble one day under His hand. YOU WROTE: Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don't think the Bible offers a single practical solution to any of the problems we face. Biblical principals can inform our decisions, but ultimately our decisions are our own and should be founded in reason, not in platitudes about faith or a literalism that defies logic. - MY RESPONSE: I believe that dealing with these issues must be founded upon more than just reason or logic, otherwise they become relative to each individual’s personal ethics, or lack thereof. In any society, there has to be standards (laws), the enforcement of which is to be the jurisdiction of those appointed by the state (or whatever entity under which the community is formed). Those who oppose those laws do not have the prerogative to disobey or ignore them. They may make legal effort to change laws, but until such time as they do, they are obligated to obey them. It is concerning the problems that arise in such societies as these, about which I stated that the Bible offers the solution. However, unless the populace accepts the standards outlined and inherent in God‘s law, those laws will not be effective. This has been aptly demonstrated in this country which was purportedly founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. But God never proposed that there were to be nations founded upon His principles. There have been only two such entities that God has directed to operate under His laws - The nation of Israel and the church. That church under God, like Israel, was to have been the light of the world, so that men could see and marvel at the wisdom of His ways. As I have said previously, the church, like Israel, unfortunately has failed in carrying out the mission for which it was established. Regarding the application of biblical principles in every day life - In just one short verse, I discovered a work ethic that stood me in good stead throughout my years of employment. It reads: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24). For a guy who flunked out of college and had no particular vocational skills, adhering to this God-given edict, served unfailingly to help offset those shortcomings and guide me through many years of enjoyable and profitable employment. YOU WROTE; As for your contention that secular society hasn't solved the world's problems, it doesn't seem to me that we have a real good control group for that assessment. Science and logic have done a lot, and continue to contribute so much to human understanding, but have never had a chance to go about solving our social problems without the influence of religion and politics. MY RESPONSE; I could make the case that science has been unable to solve the AIDS and STD problem because they are moral, rather than a scientific issues. Now I’m sure there are those who are going to suggest that "religious" groups have been a negative influence in the battle against this disease by proposing abstinence rather than "safe sex." Their argument is that abstinence doesn’t work. But, abstinence doesn’t fail because it doesn’t work - it fails because men and womed don’t abstain. Rather than countering with - "safe sex" has failed also,” I would submit to you that the problem is sin, and abstinence "works" if it is observed by God-fearing people. I believe the Bible addresses the root of the problem in Romans chapter 1. We read: 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans 1:20-27 I believe this identifies the problem pretty well - and the solution is - being reconciled to the Creator God through His Son, Jesus Christ. YOU WROTE: In spite of the fact that I don't think science can or should replace religion, I'll put the record of science for accomplishing benefit to mankind up against religion's record on that score any day. MY RESPONSE: Well, SS, I don’t rest my case on "religion." I only say that one who is following Christ and living in obedience to His commands - the greatest of which is to love Him and to love your neighbor - will not succumb to these problems. YOU WROTE: Moreover, while spiritual experience is entirely personal (and entirely subjective), the benefits of scientific exploration and logical problem solving are manifest for all to see. Whatever each of us believes individually, I would hope that we could at least agree on what constitutes physical, verifiable fact. MY RESPONSE: For years I struggled with sin in my life and couldn’t find the answer. I tried to reform my life and it would work for a while, but eventually I was back in the same old rut. Then, I came to know Jesus Christ and believed on Him. He not only forgave my sins, but gave me a power over them, that I had never had before. My life changed dramatically to a point where everyone could see. One of my daughters even said to me, "Dad, I don’t know what’s happened to you, but whatever it is, I want it." She and the rest of our older children followed suit and committed their lives to Christ. Yes, SS, spiritual experience is personal and entirely subjective and the benefits of exploring the love and wisdom of Christ and how He helps me to solve the problems in my life has been obvious to others. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no spiritual giant and I still sin and make mistakes. But the learning process never ends and He never forsakes me. Interestingly, I have Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu friends who have asked me for spiritual and practical advice and have asked me to pray for them. The guidance that I have been able give them came from the word of God. Whatever they have observed that is appealing to them can only be contributed to the work of Christ in my life and nothing of my own doing. YOU WROTE: The thing that is so troubling to people like myself, who don't share your spiritual outlook or experience, is that it seems like there exists a mind-boggling large percentage of the population for whom belief trumps logic, or reason, or fact, or physically verifiable phenomena. MY RESPONSE: I can understand your concern, SS. I disdain much of what is called "Christianity" today. I believe that the core of spiritual belief is both logical and reasonable. God says, "Come, let us reason together." (Isaiah 1:18) It is when men (Christians included) reason amongst themselves and exclude God From their reasoning, that things go awry. YOU WROTE: Faith is fundamentally a good thing, but when dogma replaces an honest pursuit of truth, it endangers the very fabric of society. You and I believe different things, Chuck; the only way for us to share the same society is for us to agree on some basic facts about that society. MY RESPONSE: I have no problem with that. YOU WROTE: An analogy: I could choose to believe that we should drive on the left side of the road. I could choose to believe that vehemently. But if I'm unwilling to accept that we, in fact, don't drive on the left side of the road in this country, I would be endangering those around me. Likewise, you may choose to believe whatever you like, but faith cannot trump facts and still be beneficial. MY RESPONSE: Nor do I believe that faith trumps facts, SS, but your analogy escapes me. My beliefs are based upon biblical truths, commands, and principles, and are not subject to my whims or personal desires. Obeying the laws of the country in which I reside is one of those principles, unless, of course, obeying a law would cause me to violate my conscience before God. I must obey God first. YOU WROTE: If you had simply prayed to cure your melanoma, that faith would not have served you well. MY RESPONSE: Perhaps. I don't fault those who pray for healing for themselves or others, but I myself don’t do so. Instead, I pray for others, "Lord, give them the grace to accept your will for their life." And for myself - "Lord, Your will be done in my life." I've found that He is true to His word when the Bible says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). In many instances, it has only been in retrospect that I’ve been able to see the things that have happened in my life that God used to draw me closer to Him. At the time, you would have had a hard time convincing me that these things would work together for my good, but I am awed now as I fathom His love in some of the many ways He worked. And because I know I’ll be with Him at the end of this life, death has lost it’s sting. YOU WROTE: Faith that supercedes logic, in the same way, doesn't serve society well. Science and reason are never irrelevant, because they consistently and predictably provide benefits that we can all experience and enjoy, regardless of our individual faith. MY RESPONSE: I would say that God's wisdom supercedes our logic and is intended to give light to a dark world. And I do believe, SS, that science and reason are relevant indeed, unless they deny or disregard the existence of God. Then, their relevance is only as a temporary aid in providing service to society. YOU WROTE: The extent to which science is abused is generally directly related to the extent that it's subject to dogmatic perspectives. I truly don't understand how you can suggest the irrelevance of science while living in a nation so dependent on technology, particularly in light of the medical knowlege that has saved your life. MY RESPONSE: I guess I haven't made myself clear on my feelings about science, SS. Of course I appreciate the fact that medical knowledge saved my life, but that was only a temporary stay and there will come a time when no amount of such knowledge will be able to prolong the inevitable. Then, the only thing of any import will be the fact that I have believed on Jesus Christ for my eternal life. Don’t misunderstand - I enjoy life, and my good wife, and family and friends. I enjoy good entertainment and good music and a glass of wine or beer with a good meal in a comfortable home. But these are just fleeting pleasures and can’t compare to the joy of telling people about my Lord and Savior, and sharing the “good news” (gospel) about being able to know that we can have eternal life through Him. Advances in science and technology can make our lives easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable, for a time, but, as followers of Christ, “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18-19) To the extent that scientific development is applied with righteous intent, it can be of tremendous value to society. It is when unprincipled men abuse it, that it can become a curse instead of a blessing. YOU WROTE: Make no mistake, modern medicine isn't founded on religious dogma. A great deal of modern medical understanding is founded on evolution. The malfunctioning of cancer cells is better understood every day because of the work of genetics researchers, whose understanding is very much informed of evolution. No amount of faith can change that scientific methodology and systematic reasoning simply works. MY RESPONSE: I have a personal friend, Dr. Tom Dooley http://www.drtomdooley.com/career.html)who has made some very substantial contributions to cancer research while maintaining his creationist views working side by side with evolutionists. The fact that contributions to modern medical understanding have been founded on an evolutionary process does not invalidate a Creator. There are numerous testimonies of evolutionist scientists who have come to believe in a Creator while pursuing answers to questions inherent in scientific exploration. But let me take a break from all of this serious dialogue to interject with a little humor. I’d like to share one little anecdote about Tom. This just came to mind as I thought about him. When Tom was in undergrad school at K.U., he and I used to go up to the Student Union late in the afternoons and try to corner some student and preach the gospel to them. I say “corner” because, admittedly, our zeal sometimes got in the way of discretion, but we simply would use whatever method we could to get the opportunity to tell someone about our Lord and Savior. Tom had a one-track presentation in which he would use all his new-found scientific knowledge to disprove evolution and prove creationism. I wouldn’t have much to offer until it came time to speak about Jesus. We had many interesting conversations with students, but never had too much success in leading them to Christ. It took me a while to discover why. [Maybe more on that later] One afternoon after having spent time with several students, we decided to call it a day, and head for home, elated, as always, in having been able to talk to them about Jesus. As we walked out of the door, Tom noticed a young oriental student standing at the bus stop. Never one to miss an opportunity, Tom walked up to him and began an abbreviated version of his evolution/creation approach. The dialogue (or I should say, monologue) went on for about 5 minutes until the bus pulled up to the stop, at which time the young man, in very fractured English, said “I no understand anything you say.” With that, he hopped on the bus and left Tom slightly chagrined but undaunted mumbling something like “He must have been an engineer.” Well, SS, I’ve gotten pretty long-winded, but I hope it has clarified my feelings and reasoning. Now I have to start on my response to Grinth. Chuck
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Pete: Here is the rest of my response: YOU WROTE: The reason why I ask, Charles, is because I don’t think you understand what is at stake. The foundation of the argument for teaching I.D. in science class is a rejection of the known scientific facts of evolution. This hurts science, our education system, and our children’s potential. MY RESPONSE: Pete, I can quote some prominent scientists who either question, or deny, that the Theory of Evolution is scientific. What’s more, there were eminently qualified scientists who either were Christians, or were of the persuasion that there is a Creator God. But, be that as it may, I really don’t believe that teaching ID hurts science, our education system, nor our children’s potential. Nevertheless I don’t think it should be taught in the schools. And though I don’t mind evolution being taught in schools, I think it should be presented as the theory that it is, rather than taught as scientific fact. I think that in the same vein, ID could even be mentioned as a religious belief. Unfortunately, there are those in both camps who are so dogmatic that they insist upon teaching one to the exclusion of the other. One would presume that it could be intellectually profitable for students to engage in discussion and open-ended debate on the subject. However, most Evolution/Creation debates that I have witnessed have done little to resolve the issue and often have even widened the chasm of disagreement between the debators. Quite often, attitudes more than ideas hinder useful dialogue. In the early 1980’s, we had the distinct pleasure of having Dr. H.E. Wilder-Smith and his wife as dinner guests when he was invited to give a lecture at the University of Kansas. After his presentation on the validity of Creationism, Dr. Wilder-Smith invited questions from the audience, amongst whom were quite a few of the faculty members of the different Science Departments at K.U. Unfortunately, some of those who wished to dispute Dr. Wilder-Smith’s premises got somewhat abrasive in their questions and comments, to a point where the moderator, a young student (a Christian, I believe) intervened and began to chastise them for the biased manner in which some of their questions were being framed. Dr. Wilder-Smith was quick to rise to the occasion and interject his feelings toward the young man’s rebuke of his detractors by saying something to the effect of - “Young man, I appreciate your concern; however, a university should provide an environment where we can enjoy the free expression of conflicting ideas. When there comes a time when I cannot listen to critical inquiry, I shall certainly retire.” Later, I overheard one of the K.U. professors remark to his colleagues. “I certainly didn’t agree with everything he said, but I’d have to admit that of all the creationists I’ve listened to, he definitely was the most knowledgeable and by far, the most gracious of any of them.” Would that we all could maintain that kind of attitude. YOU WROTE: If I understand correctly, your argument for not teaching either is because you’re personally not interested because you don’t see the value. Not only does this show a misunderstanding of science behind evolution, but in my opinion, a lacking philosophical curiosity. MY RESPONSE: No, Pete, obviously I haven’t made myself clear. I don’t mind evolution being presented to students. After all it is widely accepted and students should be informed so as to make up their own minds as to the validity of the theory. But I believe that the acquiring of scientific knowledge without the restraints of God-given moral principles and, most importantly - His enabling us to abide by them - can be, and has been, quite harmful to society. Because evolution doesn’t acknowledge a God or His laws, men formulate their own laws that cannot alleviate or impede the potential dangers inherent in the increase of scientific knowledge in a Godless society. That is not the fault of science, of course, but because these dangers have been rationalized away, the end result has been devastating. Consider the contribution of medical science to society where that knowledge has lead to the development of effective drugs. But consider also, the exploitation of that development to where unprincipled men garner excess profits from it, and essential scientific data is sometimes suppressed in order to perpetuate that profit. The recent Merck/Vioxx controversy comes to mind. Consider also, the contribution of nuclear science to society in regard to the effective and efficient generation of energy. But, when evil men with nuclear “weapons of mass destruction” (are you getting as weary as I am of hearing that term?) hold the power to destroy millions of people or nations, at the push of a button, such scientific knowledge can become a curse rather than a blessing. And when such a foreboding of a nuclear holocaust becomes a stark reality, “God forbid” suddenly becomes a plea in men’s hearts rather than just an idle incantation of the “religious.” For no earthly power can stem the tide of evil that men like Iran’s Ahmadinejad might choose to unleash upon those he considers to be enemies of Allah. Again, don't misunderstand, Pete. Science and scientific exploration are good, in and of themselves. However, just as a gun can serve a useful purpose - when that gun placed in the hands of one who's motives are for evil, the end result is bad. So, should we discontinue scientific exploration because evil men misuse the product? I don't believe so. The problem lies in the heart of those whose intent is upon evil. You can’t legislate morality. I know this is a tired cliché to some, but its truth is evident. Unless men’s hearts are changed, technology will lead to the destruction of this planet. We have to determine how to bring about that change. So, basically, what I’m saying, Pete, is that - from what I perceive - When a society chooses to believe, either that matter always existed, or that matter suddenly came into being out of nothing, and then evolved into living, breathing, thinking, homo sapiens, then of course, that society will eventually reach certain conclusions - no creation, no creator, no ultimate judge or judgment, hence no sin. Moral relativism becomes the ethos of such a society as men then, understandably, seek to live a self-centered, rather than a God-centered life. In an attempt to prevent lawlessness, anarchy, and the usurpation of their power, men form governments (I.e. Communist, Fascist, Dictatorships and Monarchies), and make and enforce laws that benefit those in power Except for a benevolent few, most leaders of such governments exercise their own brand of tyrannical rule at the risk of being overthrown by revolutionaries. They establish armies and police forces to deter such a possibility. Some revolutionaries who have succeeded in breaking the bonds of such tyrannical rule, such as in the United States, have establish a democratic form of government whereby the power is vested in the people. But eventually those unprincipled ones elected to govern end up by placing more importance upon remaining in office rather than for the welfare of the nation. Morality and ethics take a back seat to political expediency. I personally believe that the United States was founded upon a false premise - and that it was an ill-advised venture to try to form a government allegedly based upon Judeo-Christian principles. I have expounded on this at greater length in a writing on the subject, Pete, and I would be happy to forward to you. It outlines the premise upon which I base my aforementioned contentions. I submit that Christianity - or I should say - following Christ offers the only permanent solution. I emphasize “following Christ” since Christendom has failed to carry out the purpose for which Christ founded His church. It has become secularized by those who have either forgotten or ignored Jesus’ commands and have institutionalized the church into a static organization rather than the vibrant dynamic organism that Christ intended for it to be. Consequently, many non-believers, have reveled in that failure, and have mocked the Creator rather than His errant creatures. But, God is not mocked, and has said: Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain." I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, or His wrath may soon be kindled How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! Psalm 2 It is only God’s loving forbearance that has deterred Him from unleashing His wrath upon a wicked world, but I believe we are rapidly approaching the time for the fulfillment of the apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible. YOU WROTE:: But don’t make the mistake (again) of thinking I’m offended. You’re entitled to your views and they don’t bother me. It’s when this type of thinking (like that of the proponents of ID) begin to hurt society that offends me. MY RESPONSE: My mistake is duly noted, Pete, and I appreciate your candor. I, probably more than you, disapprove - not necessarily of the thinking of the ID proponents - but rather of their misguided determination to have ID taught in the public schools. And even more, I abhor the attempts by those in the Christian community to try to impose their beliefs upon others. The apostle Paul said that we are to judge “those within the church.” Of “those who are outside [the church],” he said, “God judges” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) Chuck
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Pete, YOU WROTE: What I've garnered from your initial comments is that your issue with evolution and I.D. is basically that you feel "theories of what happened mere billions of years ago" might be "idle conjecture." When you agreed that the pursuit of science is a positive thing it seemed to me that you were contradicting yourself. I was hoping you'd address this contradiction somewhere in your responses, but I haven't seen it. I thank SS for bringing it up again: "I would argue that, likewise, the Bible does not solve the strictly practical problems in the ordering of the material world." Yet again, while doing a marvelous job responding to the rest of the comments, you seemed to conveniently ignore that one which points out the same contradiction. MY RESPONSE: I guess I haven‘t made my position all that clear, Pete, so let me explain what may seem to be a contradiction in my comments. As I have mentioned previously, I believe that science can serve, and has served a useful purpose in our society today, but as I wrote to SS, I believe it irrelevant if it is doesn’t begin with the concept of a Creator who gives meaning to questions concerning our origin and our ultimate destiny. For what difference would it make if my life emanates from a pea or an egg, or any form of matter, if it gradually degenerates into oblivion after 60, 70, or even 100 years? And how do we evaluate the benefits it brings to society when scientific advances are misused or even used for evil purposes? As for the bible not solving the “strictly practical problems in the ordering of the material world,” I’d have to disagree with you, Pete. To the contrary, I believe it offers the solution to every problem confronting the world today. You’ll have to admit, secular society hasn’t solved the practical problems of drugs, crime, war, Aids, famine, etc, etc, etc. If you would care to state a specific problem, I’ll be happy to offer a biblical solution. YOU WROTE: The last thing you said was, "All that I need to know about my origin is contained in the verse...Psalm 139:14" and this might be OK with you, but are you able accept that it's too much for some and not enough for others? MY RESPONSE: I'm not sure I understand your question, Pete, but if you are asking if I am able to accept the fact that there are those who are not satisfied with such a seemingly simplistic approach, my answer is “yes." Are you willing to accept the fact that there are countless millions who couldn't care less about whether or not we evolved from “whatever.” In many countries today, men and women wake ever morning with no concern other than what they are going to eat and where they are going to get it. That is not the fault of science. But science doesn’t solve the problem. YOU WROTE: You might not care to know the details of your origin, but you can thank god there are scientists who do. Without them, and their understanding of things such evolution, you could kiss things like modern medicine goodbye. I mean, do you get a flu shot or do you rely on prayer alone? MY RESPONSE: No, Pete, I don't rely on prayer alone, but prayer is an essential part of my life. I do get a flu shot every year and I try to take reasonable measures to stay healthy. I am also grateful for the advances that medical science has made. But in and of itself, it can not provide the security that many would hope for. I still rely upon the Lord to watch over me and give me protection that the medical profession alone cannot provide. Let me give you a small example. In 1995, my wife and I applied for acceptance of an assignment to serve with a mission agency in Austria. A part of the application procedure, was the requirement of a physical examination by our personal physician. As my doctor was concluding his examination and assuring me that I should have no problem being accepted, he stopped me as I was beginning to put my shirt back on. "Just a minute, Chuck, " he said. "I want to take a look at that spot on your chest." It was a very small crescent shaped spot, not unlike many others on my chest and back, and I was surprised at his concern about it, and even more so when he said, "Get back on the table, I'm going to cut that out." Well, I had developed a lot of confidence in Doc and in the care he had provided to Mary Ann and over the years, but I really thought he was out in left field on this. But when he mentioned the possibility of it being a melanoma, I had no problem consenting to a biopsy. And I wasn't too concerned when Doc's nurse called a few days later and said that the doctor would like for me to come in the following day. I won't pretend that I didn't experience some anxiety overnight as I thought about the possibility of having cancer, but the Lord gave me a great sense of peace as I pondered that possibility. When I went in the next day. Doc's rather somber greeting forewarned me of what to expect. "Well, Chuck," he began, "It was a melanoma and it was malignant. It appears that we’ve gotten all of it, but just to make sure, I'd like to consult a specialist." With my unquestioning consent, he did so and at the specialist's recommendation, made an additional incision and removed a few more millimeters of tissue from around the original lesion. The results of the biopsy came back negative, and I was home free - but not without a warning of the possibility of a future reoccurrence. I have since been informed by an oncologist that had Doc not discovered the melanoma at that time, I would probably have had not lived more than 5 or 6 months, Now, Pete, I know there are skeptics who will say I was just lucky, but I know in my own heart and mind that the Lord was watching over me. Oh yes, I still have semi-annual examinations, since I believe the Lord expects us to be prudent in those areas in which we can exercise some measure of control. YOU WROTE: Perhaps for those scientists, Psalm 139:14 isn't enough, hence their need to explore the great wonder even more. For me, personally, it isn't so much HOW or WHY the world is, that is the source of wonder, it's THAT the world is, so Psalm 139:14 goes too far in my case. MY RESPONSE: For me, it is enough to know that there is a Creator God who has given me a temporary life on this earth that He created, and that He desires that all men come to know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ - and through His Son, to receive eternal life in His coming kingdom. As I consider how “wonderfully made” we are, I marvel at His infinite wisdom, and the wonder of the complexities of what He has created. And as I contemplate how He brought me out of the darkness of a sinful life into His wonderful light, I marvel at His amazing unconditional love. I'll continue on my next post, Pete.
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Pete, I'll be answering your last post sometime later today. Chuck
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, I’ve had a similar feeling as we have continued our discussion during the past couple of weeks. And yes, I agree that there are more “Christians“ who are following men instead of following Christ, and most of these so-called “leaders” do more to drive people away than to attract them to Him, whom they claim to serve. I too have enjoyed the discourse and would welcome hearing your ideas on other subjects. My e-mail address is chuckfmiller@hotmail.com if you, Pete, or others care to share any other thoughts. Chuck
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS: YOU WROTE: Chuck, I appreciate your responses and your time in this discussion. It appears to me that we're really largely in agreement about the nature of ID/Creationism, and that it rightfully belongs outside of the science curriculum. I do not share your particular faith, and so I think it unlikely that we will come to complete agreement on this point. You argue that an individual's need for faith transcends every other aspect of his existence, and I will submit that emotional needs often trump intellectual needs. However, I don't see that as an example of religious understanding replacing scientific understanding. Having an emotional need for acceptance, or forgiveness, or hope, may outweigh one's desire to better understand the universe, but turning to religious dogma should not replace mankind's thirst for knowlege of our world. MY RESPONSE: Well stated. What I contend is that man’s thirst for knowledge of our universe is healthy, but is, I believe, irrelevant if it is does not begin with the concept of a Creator who gives meaning to questions concerning our origin and our ultimate destiny. I realize you don’t agree with that, but all I can add to what I have previously stated is: “We shall find out someday.” YOU WROTE: I'm of the opinion that to have such a sense of spiritual fulfillment that the real problems of this world (disease, hunger, war, lack of opportunity) become trumped by religious fervor, often succeeds in giving the individual peace of mind at the cost of a compassionate understanding of the realities faced by so many throughout the world. MY RESPONSE: I couldn’t agree more, SS, and a true understanding of Jesus’ compassion is found in the story of the “good Samaritan” ( Luke 10:30-37). One thing I would add. It is also possible that spiritual fulfillment can be trumped by overemphasis on the material to the neglect of the spiritual. A Christian should be a humanitarian, but being a humanitarian does not make one a Christian. We can, and should, supply physical, monetary, and medical assistance to those in need, (see the following example after your next comment) but true freedom, security and peace is an internal thing, and can only come from being reconciled to God, the Father, through Jesus. YOU WROTE: So often, it seems that religion brings dogma, where people really need medicine, and food, and peace, and hope for a better tomorrow. I truly don't mean to suggest this is true in your case, but I would posit it is often the case. MY RESPONSE: Quite true. The following, written by my son-in-law expresses our feeling about the responsibility of Christians in the world today. Here is an excerpt from what Chuck wrote: ******************** In Costa Rica, I became friends with a future missionary to Guatemala – Paul Ernest. Paul was a big guy with an even bigger heart. He loved everyone and especially the children. He wanted to help the young to find Christ and to help them gain a hopeful future via – getting an education, having basic medicines, safe housing as well as having enough food and clean water. Paul loved people and he was not a stand-around and watch other people suffer kind of guy. He saw something that needed doing and he did it. In Costa Rica, it came to Paul’s attention that Guatemala was suffering the effects of several devastating earthquakes and a long civil war – He went, he saw, he moved. The most prominent victims were the children. He was off to do battle – Paul moved himself and his wife and two kids to Guatemala City in the late 80s. Fast forward - early 90s. I kept in touch with Paul and his work with the mission he founded in Guatemala – Christian Challenge Missions. I kept up on how his work was going. One day I hear from Paul and he tells me the mission was endeavoring to help a very desperate population in El Triumfo, a remote village deep in the mountains and hills about 100 miles from the capitol. He asked if I would want to see what they were doing. I did. In visiting El Triumfo, my world got a little bigger - I discovered some very desperate folks – my new neighbors. El Triumfo was a gathering of homes and one acre plots of about 2,000 people. The area had no power, no running water, no buildings or roads except for the dusty rock strewn path that brought us into the area – We weren’t quite sure how our four wheel truck got us into the place. The area was more impoverished than any place I had ever seen. The average life expectancy was about 35 years. People died of maladies such as dysentery, infections, malaria and influenza. Child bearing was often followed by funerals. The area was too remote for doctors, teachers, midwives, engineers, and other "helping" professionals to reach. As we toured the area and met the families it became clear something had to be done – But what? The mission had a very talented Canadian Engineer who worked in Guatemala City – Chuck St. Louis. [that’s not a typo - it’s another Chuck and his last name really is St. Louis ]. Chuck and the mission’s local leader, Hugo Gomez, had an idea – La Casa Grande…The Big House. Chuck said for $15,000 we could build a large building [about 50 x 100] that could be a place for a school, for worship, a medical clinic and a place to store food and pharmaceuticals. He said it could be built so that doctors or midwives could stay on a temporary or semi-permanent basis. The place could also be a center for adult vocational and agricultural training. The vision was also to sink a well so there would be a central location for clean water for the village. The building was to serve as a versatile community center – A place of hope. Chuck said he and his staff would provide the labor if someone could find the cash for the materials. I told Chuck if some of the local Guatemalan churches could come up with 10% of the monies I could come up with the balance in the United States. I got my good-willed friends together and told them what was going on in El Triumfo, Guatemala and about the opportunity to do something for our Central American neighbors. We raised the money and The Big House was built and the well was sunk over two years at a price of $20,000. Five years after the building had been built, the community changed dramatically – The people’s medical care and education went from almost nothing to something approaching adequate. La Casa Grande became a center of spiritual and physical revival. The best news of all - We’ve earned the right to proceed with the gospel message in El Triumfo. Aside from bringing hope on this planet - we’re seeing hundreds of eternities gained for His kingdom. Leverage for life… A great work of God – A miracle. The church and people of goodwill have the capacity to extrapolate this model a thousand times a thousand. That time has come. The church has the ability to make a counter-strike against the world’s evil, the scourge of poverty and the tsunami of hopelessness that has enveloped the planet. ***************** This has gotten pretty lengthy, so I’ll continue my response to the rest of your post in a subsequent post. Chuck
Toggle Commented Jan 18, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
SS, No insult intended by my delay in responding to your posts. I surmise that you aren’t looking for an apology, but inasmuch as Pete took up an offense for you I’ll offer my explanation. On Sunday, I took a respite from the dialogue by watching the unscientific, unspiritual, physical “debate” between the Colts and the Steelers. Then, most of Monday morning was spent dealing with my wife’s health problems that required my attention. Sorry that Pete was offended, but I think your responses are well thought out and deserve more than a cursory response. Anyway, YOU WROTE: Charles, I respect your position of faith, and I appreciate your willingness to agree that the existence of God (or lack thereof) is not scientifically provable. I do not in any way argue for the abandonment of religious faith or philosophical principle as a cornerstone of human understanding; I merely disagree that ID conforms to the paradigm of science. MY RESPONSE: It seems to me that the proponents of “ID” avoid reference to a Creator God in order to attempt to stay within the bounds of scientific discussion. I have no particular problem with that, but I don’t think it’s necessary or feasible, for that matter. Their efforts to have it (ID) incorporated into public school Science courses is fraught with problems, since those who would be required to teach it, be they evolutionist or creationist, would ultimately introduce their own biases into the discussions that it would engender. I wouldn’t want my child taught about ID by a skeptic, or by an inept Christian teacher (and there are many of those). Spiritual input is the responsibility of spiritual leaders, particularly parents, and pastors and teachers. YOU WROTE: Rest assured that I have read many parts of the Bible, with lesser or greater levels of faith, throughout my life, and continue to do so. I will admit that some lessons of the Bible have the ring of literary truth to them, though I don't find them to have the ring of literal truth. MY RESPONSE: Without knowing ,specifically, which lessons you’re referring to, I won’t venture into generalizations. but let me say this. The Bible is unique in its claim to be the written word of God. It is also unique in that is multi-dimensional. In other words its truths are constantly being expanded, depending upon our spiritual state and our particular need for the moment. There are passages and verses that are metaphors and not meant to be taken literally (“I am the vine, you are the branches“) - There are allegories (Sarah and Hagar representing the two covenants) - Similes (“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock“) - Symbolisms (' I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'") - Paradoxes ( "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”) - and many more. These figures of speech are used throughout the Bible and are appropriately used in order to more clearly illustrate, a biblical truth. YOU WROTE: But this takes us into a theological, rather than scientific discussion. I guess my point is that, while science cannot answer philosophical questions, and therefore cannot replace religious or philosophical understanding, so too is religious dogma unable to answer scientific questions about the material world; likewise, religious understanding cannot replace scientific understanding. MY RESPONSE: When the Berlin wall came down in 1990, I and my son-in-law, Chuck (also) made a trip to Eastern Europe to share our faith with people in Hungary, many of whom, under communism, had little or no knowledge of Jesus Christ. In a park area near the Danube in Budapest, we met a young man, a very gregarious guy, quite handsome and openly eager to talk to a couple of Americans. We engaged in conversation with him and listened as he shared about his life under communism, but he became quite reticent to discuss anything in the spiritual realm. It was almost with a cavalier air of amusement that he finally said, “You are really talking about matters that are of no concern to me. I love my life the way it is. I have many beautiful girl friends and I love pornography. I have no need for God in my life.” I was stunned, never having heard anyone so blatantly admit to such an immoral lifestyle. So, as Chuck continued to talk to him, I quietly prayed to the Lord to give me something meaningful to say to our promiscuous young friend. It came very clearly, and I said, “ Vidor, I will just say this to you - “There will come a time when, after having had relations with one of your beautiful girl friends, you are going to come away feeling very empty.” We were hardly prepared for what was happening as the countenance of our brazen young friend immediately turned from haughty bravado to utter despair as his head drooped and he muttered “It has already happened.” Choking back tears, he went on, to say, “I don’t really have a true friend; my life is miserable.” I said to him, “Vidor, each day before we go out, Chuck and I pray that God will lead us to those with whom He wants us to share - I believe this is a divine appointment. I believe He led us here today so that you could hear about Jesus Christ, His Son.” “Yes, I believe that‘s true“ he replied We then talked to him about Jesus, and how He had died for our sins and that this very day, he could know that he had eternal life by turning his life over to Christ. He listened eagerly and after praying with him, he shook our hands vigorously and we left him to contemplate this life-changing encounter. Now, you’re probably saying, “So? Nice story, but what has all this to do with religious understanding being incapable of replacing scientific understanding?” I’m saying that - understanding our relationship with our Creator transcends every other aspect of our existence. Man is born with a sin nature which separates Him from God. He must be “born again” spiritually in order to be reconciled with God. It wasn’t science or philosophy that made Vidor understand at that moment that there was a void in his life. He just didn’t know how to fill it. All that I need to know about my origin is contained in the verse, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14) Chuck Miller
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet
Meg; YOU WROTE: “Isn't it convenient that the Christians can leave the proving of God up to God himself, thereby taking themselves off the hook.” MY RESPONSE: No more convenient than scientists getting themselves off the hook by avoiding questions like, “Where did the ‘matter’ in your primordial pond come from?“ And, I’ve never been on “the hook” because I don’t have to prove God. I offered a challenge. Whether you accept it or not is not going to change my life or my beliefs one iota. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God " (Psalm 14:1). I don’t call you a fool, but God does - if you deny His existence. YOU WROTE: “The only time Christians need logic is when they need to prove to themselves that what they're doing is right. I would think they'd be more interested in a circular theory of the universe's existence, considering their great love for circular logic.” MY RESPONSE: One man’s logic may be another man’s folly. Christians have to rely upon the wisdom and instruction of God, rather than logic - not to prove to themselves that what they’re doing is right - but in order to live a life of obedience to Christ, without fear or anxiety. For He says. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Unfortunately, Meg, many Christians forget this, and try to use man’s logic to guide them through life, and wind up confused, frustrated, and disappointed. Chuck Miller
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2006 on Darwin Debate at Non-Prophet