Blog Archive

Followers

Come Reason's Apologetics Notes

Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Key Problems with Darwinism (video)

Modern Darwinism teaches that all life we see today is the result of lucky chemical accidents. There is no purpose or intelligence guiding the process. However, as we better understand the complexities of life and the amazing amount of information it takes to make even the simplest of cells, the Darwinian model just doesn't work.



In this video, Lenny teaches on two insurmountable problems for modern Darwinian theory and shows why life points to an intelligent designer.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Values so Shockingly Consistent They Make the News

In the ever-growing competition for our attention, news media outlets have sought to find stories that sit ever stranger to our sensibilities. The unusual is prized as the type of a story journalists seek to capture eyeballs and get people talking. It's just like that old saying that what's expected is not really news, like a dog biting a man. But if a man bites a dog, then that's news!



That's why I was very intrigued with the Associated Press story that ran just today about a homosexual couple who were denied Communion from the Roman Catholic in central Montana. The AP article reports:
A gay couple has been told they can no longer receive Communion or participate in church ministry after the new priest at a Roman Catholic church in central Montana learned they had been married in a civil ceremony more than a year ago.

The decision set off a split that has cut attendance at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, population 5,900. It has prompted an upcoming visit from the bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.1
The article goes on to report that the men were involved in a relationship for some 30 years, but decided to get married "so they can make medical and financial decisions for each other."2

Most conservative Christians of any stripe would read the above and probably react with a collective "Yeah, so?" The Roman Catholic Church has been very clear in its condemnation of homosexual unions. The biblical teaching on homosexuality is very clear on recognizing practicing homosexual s as those who are not considered part of the faith. Paul explicitly states in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality… will inherit the kingdom of God."

The Shock Value of Consistent Values

So why is this so newsworthy? Why would the AP run a "dog bites man" story like this? There are only two reasons I can think of and probably both are true to some extent. The first would be that the AP assumes most people would feel that the men were somehow being discriminated against. It's a "how can the church discriminate against these two poor men who only want to look after one another financially and medically" kind of angle.  Of course, anyone with an inkling of understanding would know better than to buy that. For example, the men were joined in a civil union, not in the church. Why do you think this was? Because they knew the church would never allow it! So, how could they be "stunned by the priest's decision" to not allow them to partake in the church's other sacraments? The answer: they weren't. They just don't want to play by the rules.

Secondly, it is entirely possible that the secular AP and its readers cannot fathom an organization having a moral code that calls for certain people to be excluded by virtue of their actions, no matter how sincere, heartfelt, or popular in public opinion they are. This is another example of the faux-virtues I talked about a couple of days ago. It's believed that all decisions are OK, just as long as one doesn't hurt anyone else's feelings. Well, that simply isn't true. These men may sincerely love each other, but they are not taking the teachings of their church honestly. They seem to see the church teachings as something to be gamed. Communion is at it root an act of identifying with Christ and His actions on the cross. It entails a foregoing of self and a devotion to following Jesus as your Lord. That means following the rules He set down for His church. Jesus taught explicitly, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). He didn't teach that Christians can pick and choose which they would like to keep and which they can ignore.

No matter what the actual motivation was for the AP to run this story, I see it as another clear sign of the shift that has occurred in culture over the last decade. When Christians display Christian values consistently, our society no longer looks upon such actions as normal or unordinary. While the plane that doesn't crash isn't news, now consistently living out one's Christian values is.

In some ways, I think this is as much of an indictment of the Christian church as it is the culture. The broader culture should have been able to recognize Christians by their moral character much more clearly before today. But we have now reached the point where the separation is strange enough it's considered newsworthy, so expect to see more stories on it. They'll be considered as foreign as the story of a man biting a dog, and naked when doing so.

References

1. Associated Press. "Montana Gay Couple Denied Communion After Marriage." ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/montana-gay-couple-denied-communion-marriage-25626162.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why the Darwinist Version of Life's Origin is Anti-Science

P.Z. Myers, the acerbic evolutionary biologist, atheist, and blogger is certainly no friend to those arguing for God's existence. However, he did side with at least one point that creationists argue for when debating the concept of life and its origin: Darwinists who claim that the theory of evolution has nothing to do with origin of life "is a cop-out."  An older post at his blog Pharyngula, he writes:
#15 is also a pet peeve: "Evolution is a theory about the origin of life" is presented as false. It is not. I know many people like to recite the mantra that "abiogenesis is not evolution," but it's a cop-out. Evolution is about a plurality of natural mechanisms that generate diversity. It includes molecular biases towards certain solutions and chance events that set up potential change as well as selection that refines existing variation. Abiogenesis research proposes similar principles that led to early chemical evolution. Tossing that work into a special-case ghetto that exempts you from explaining it is cheating, and ignores the fact that life is chemistry. That creationists don't understand that either is not a reason for us to avoid it.1
I completely agree with Myers in that anyone arguing for a non-Creator based model needs to account for both the origin as well as the development of the diversity of life as we see it today. I've previously written how evolutionary teaching texts and evolutionist both include the concept of abiogenesis—a 50 cent word meaning that life arose spontaneously from non-life—in their limiting the diversity of life we see today to only materialistic causes. For, if a creator is necessary to begin life, then the simplest explanation of life's diversity would be that such a creator created them with that diversity.


Passing on Pasteur

Of course, Myers, Dawkins, and company would never allow a creator to be considered in their model. 2 They hold that any such appeal is at its base unscientific. But there's a problem here. The view that life arose spontaneously from non-life has never once been observed in all of human history. If science is at its root a study of those things we can observe, then the theory that life can arise from non-life without any intelligent intervention seems to be non-science.  But abiogenesis is worse than that; it's anti science.

You see, the question has come up before. There was a time where people believed that life could arise spontaneously. People would notice their milk or bread gather mold and they thought that these life forms just popped into existence. However, the French scientist Louis Pasteur performed an extensive series of experiments to heat food products prior to packaging and he showed conclusively that new life doesn't simply pop into existence. He proved that biogenesis (from life comes life) is the scientifically viable theory rather than abiogenesis.

Pasteur's results have been confirmed millions of times over. In fact, our modern method of food distribution relies on the fact that new forms of life won't just appear. Think of a jar of natural peanut butter. The jar is an open system in which energy and sunlight may pass through. The starting material is organic; it has all the right proteins for life. Heck, peanuts are even the starting point for the plant. Yet, no one expects to find new life in their peanut butter!
Science is at its absolute best when one can verify a hypothesis through repeatable testing. The more times one achieves the same results, the stronger the hypothesis becomes. Pasteur's biogenesis is about as strong a finding as science can achieve, so why argue for abiogenesis when no one in the history of humanity has ever observed such and not even one theoretical model of how life could spontaneously arise exists? Simply, it's because the only other explanation of life is that it came from a creator. Therefore, those that trumpet science above all the loudest seem to be the most willing to dump Pasteur's science when it doesn't fit their model. Doesn't that make them anti-science?

References

1. Myers, PZ. "15 Misconceptions about Evolution." Pharyngula. ScienceBlogs LLC., 20 Feb. 2008. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/02/20/15-misconceptions-about-evolut/.
2. In his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins writes, "The Darwinian theory is in principle capable of explaining life. No other theory that has ever been suggested is in principle capable of explaining life." Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design. New York, N.Y: W.W. Norton, 1987. Print. 288.
Image courtesy PiccoloNamek

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Danger of Colleges and Faux Virtue

One of the more interesting trends today is the widespread acceptance of the imitation to function as the original. What began with Hollywood stars donning faux furs to show their animal rights cred, it seems that the faux style has taken on a life if its own. If you don't want to commit to shaving the sides of your head to show hipness and rebellion, you can get a faux-hawk. Faux leather fashions are big business and you can paint your walls with several faux techniques.


The word faux is borrowed from the French, where it means "false." If you are making a movie you may use faux money, faux rocks, or even faux cocaine. If one were to make a faux pas (pronounced fō ˈpä) it means you've taken a false step. A false step is what I think is happening in our culture today as more and more I see people touting modern concepts of tolerance and non-confrontation as virtuous. In reality, these things are faux virtues.

Virtues – What Are They?

Although we don't use the word as much today, the concept of virtue plays a vital role in our society. The concept of virtue contains the idea that there are certain qualities or character traits in the moral life of an individual that should be valued and promoted. For example, temperance is a virtue of self-restraint. While we all hunger, to over-indulge in a meal would be considered gluttonous and unvirtuous. However, an anorexic would be looked upon a similarly unvirtuous because she is not properly responding to her God-given need for food. Similarly, sexual drives may be abused in one way or another. The ancient Greeks identified qualities like courage, temperance, sincerity, and right ambition as virtues.1

Christian thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas saw virtues as doing those things that separate us from animals and act more in accordance with God's character.2There is, then, a balance in virtuous living. One may hold truth as a virtue; one should tell the truth because God would not lie. However, it doesn't mean someone is unvirtuous in telling his wife that they are going home for a quiet evening when a surprise party is waiting for her there. Virtue makes a distinction between lies, which are self-serving and deceptions that are simply temporary devices to arrive at a virtuous end, such as the pleasure of being surprised.

The False Virtues of Tolerance and Inoffensiveness

Today, though, real virtues are being swapped out with cheap, fake versions. The shocking thing is that this is happening most prominently on college campuses across the country, such as the recent decision of the California State university system to derecognize all Intervarsity campus clubs because they won't allow non-Christians into leadership positions.3 The Universities' administrators have claimed the move is to uphold nondiscrimination principles.4 But nondiscrimination of this type is not a virtue; it's a faux-virtue. Prudence is a virtue of right conduct. It recognizes that all men are created equal. It recognizes the freedom to put forth one's ideas is important. However, that doesn't mean that all ideas should be accepted by all people. Such an extrapolation is akin to saying anorexia is a legitimate answer to gluttony. It's tortured logic and it violates the virtue of truth. It forces you to accept what you believe isn't the case.

That's also why the idea of non-offense is also a non-virtue. The concept of justice demands that the virtuous person confront what he or she sees as wrong. Of course, one must measure their response to the level of injustice being promoted and the appropriate avenues available. If it's an intellectual question, then discussion or debate is appropriate. If someone is beating another person, then a physical response is required. But to think that one should never criticize another because the other person may feel poorly due to the criticism is cowardice pretending to be concern. Bad ideas have real consequences, like the significantly higher rates of terminal illnesses for practicing homosexual men. To keep silent would be akin to watching a mugging and choosing not to get involved. Yet our kids hear over and over how not offending anyone is the "right" thing to do.

Faux virtues are rampant in our society today, especially among our young people. College campuses are, I think, complicit in setting a moral code that is hopelessly confused. They seek to free individual expression, but stifle clubs wishing to be consistent in representing their beliefs. They offer shiny gems of faux virtues that turn out to be worth nothing more than paste when applied to the costly complications of real life. We need to train our Christian kids to beware of such baubles; such are too easily crushed under pressure.


References

1. "Aristotle." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The IEP, 2005. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. http://www.iep.utm.edu/aristotl/#H7

2. "If virtue is taken as aiming toward a naturally attainable human end, it can be said to be acquired by human effort which can exist without charity. Only by virtues can man conduce to the highest human end, and that end is supernatural." Kretzman, Norman; Stump, Eleonore. The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print. 240-241.

3. Setzer, Ed. "InterVarsity "Derecognized" at California State University's 23 Campuses: Some Analysis and Reflections." Christianity Today. Christianity Today, 6 Sept. 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/september/intervarsity-now-derecognized-in-california-state-universit.html.

4. Reed, Charles B. "Memorandum, Subject: Student Activities - Executive Order 1068." THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY Office of the Chancellor. 21 Dec 2011. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
http://www.calstate.edu/eo/EO-1068.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two more ways learning to defend your faith benefits you

I've recently been writing to encourage people to learn how to better defend their faith against objections of others. I've already talked about how it isn't as scary as many believe, the Bible commands it in many places, and how engaging your mind is part of loving God more fully. But learning to defend your faith is more than an act of obedience; it actually benefits you directly! Yesterday, I described two ways the Christian benefits from the study of apologetics and today I wanted to give you two more.


Engaging God Intellectually Strengthens Us During Trials

A third reason to engage our minds and be prepared to defend the faith is a very practical one: it makes us stronger in times of trials. The questions one must deal with in defending the faith are truly the biggest questions of life, questions like the existence of God, why am I placed on this earth, and how I should treat my fellow man. These are tough issues that require a clear mind and considerable attention. No one wants to wrestle with such ideas during a time of emotional upheaval. They require each of us to ask ourselves penetrating questions like, "Do I really have the good evidence that God exists, or am I just kind of feeding off of a lot of the information that I've been told? Am I just believing that because it feels good or because it helps me?" Once you've explored the arguments for these issues and reached a satisfactory conclusion, you can rest assured of the fact of God's existence or the resurrection.

Then, when a crisis hits and you're praying and you're praying, and God doesn't seem to answer, you can be tempted to wonder, "Is this all a joke? Was I really fooling myself? Maybe there's no God after all." But when I've reached such a point, I've looked back and said, "Well, I know I can't doubt that God exists, because I've already worked through that problem. I know I can't doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. There must be a God. Christ must be real. Now, God may not be answering me. Don't understand it and I may not like it, but at least I know that my faith is on more sure footing." Our faith is made stronger, even in times of trials, as we become Christians who value the life of the mind. (To read my personal story of how this benefited me, see this post.)

 Engaging God Equips Us for Ministry, No Matter What It Is

Before we close this series, I want you to look at verse 21 of Proverbs 22. It reads that we are to "correctly answer him who sends you." Who is this that sends us? In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus commands his followers to Go out and make disciples of the whole world. Disciples, not converts. So who's requiring an answer from us? Ultimately it's God. Ultimately we learn and we seek to grow our minds in order to please Him.

But God does not leave us to ourselves even here! He also provides for us. Paul tells us that, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." Do you see that? God gives us a sound mind by his Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be with us as we continue to seek Him. James confirms that "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." God will honor our efforts at loving Him with our minds and our desire to defend the faith. We may not do a perfect job at first, but that's OK. As we continue to seek out His truths, He will develop in us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.

One final thought here. It's important to realize that you don't have to know everything to be a defender of the faith. You must realize that knowing enough to believe something doesn't mean you have 100% certainty. I can say "I believe tomorrow is going to be sunny" and I can have good reasons for that belief. I live in California where it never seems to rain, it's September, and the weatherman said that today should be sunny. But we could all be wrong. That doesn't mean I shouldn't believe it will be sunny today because I can't be 100% sure. It means I have good reasons for my belief, but they may in fact be insufficient when I find out more information. That's OK. Reasonable people draw conclusions from the evidence they have. It's just up to us to try and gather all the good evidence we can so we can draw good conclusions.


Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X