Sinclair Ferguson – Creation: An Arena for Praising God

perfect-lake-norwayNORWAY – Photo credit benisawesome.net

Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

In this excerpt from his teaching series Who Is the Holy Spirit?, Sinclair Ferguson considers Psalm 19:1-2 and all of creation as a place of worship.

SInclair Ferguson:

What the Spirit is actually doing in Creation, and this becomes typical of everything He does in the pages of Scripture is that He is creating a temple, a meeting place for God to meet with, and to fellowship with His creation and especially with man, and then, in which man can then happily meet with God, have communion with Him, fellowship with Him. Remember how Adam walks with God. And in this temple that God is creating through His Holy Spirit man might be brought to know God, to love God, to trutst God, to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

So, here are two ways, right at the beginning that we can think about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and especially about His ministry in our lives. He comes to bring form to our formlessness, to bring fullness to our emptiness. And He comes because He wants to restore us to that kind of fellowship with God in which we worship God in His holy temple.

The Spirit does this, first of all, in creation. I don’t think we often think about that, but, the whole creation is actually a temple created for the worship of God, by His image, man. Turn to the Book of Psalms. A very famous statement at the beginning of Psalm 19, verses 1-2. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. If you think about it, what does it remind you of? A church service. In a church service, in worship, there is the declaration of the glory of God, there is the proclamation of His handiwork, there is an outpouring of speech, and there is a revelation of knowledge. And you see, this is why God, through the Spirit has brought order and fulness into the Creation, in order that through that creation we might come to worship Him. And so, the fullness of Creation becomes a pointer for us to the glory of God, and an arena in which we come to praise Him and adore Him. VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Full Transcript: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/creation…
Teaching Series: http://www.ligonier.org/store/who-is-…

In Awe of God’s Creation – Comet colliding with the Sun – O Cometa Loveste Soarele – Coplesit de Creatia lui Dumnezeu

Photo credit http://a57.foxnews.com/global

Romanian:

Recent am fost preocupati de efectele devastatoare pe care le poate avea impactul unei comete cu Pamantul. Pentru a ne face o idee cat de periculos este, NASA a surprins momentul in care o cometa loveste Soarele. Rezultatul: o explozie uriasa.

Desi se credea initial ca nicio cometa nu poate trece de “discul de foc” al Soarelui, se pare ca teoriile astronomilor s-au dovedit a fi gresite. Cu o viteza impresionanta si cu o forta uriasa, cometa a trecut de bariera invizibila de foc si a provocat o explozie mare, urmata de un val de flacari de marimea unui tsunami, spun cercetatorii.

Asta ne da o perspectiva realista asupra a ce se va intampla daca un corp celest va intra in coliziune cu planeta noastra. Tari, sau chiar continente vor fi rase de pe fata pamantului in momentul impactului.

In urma acestui video, multi cercetatori s-au intrebat daca nu cumva impactul provocat de comete da nastere la exploziile violente ale soarelui, care ne afecteaza si pe noi. Insa in urma unor studii mai amanuntite, s-a ajuns la concluzia ca exploziile solare sunt independente de impactul cometelor.

(sursa video originala: NASA Goddard’s Flickr)

ENGLISH:

NASA’s solar observatory captured a stunning video of a comet streaking towards the sun between Tuesday and Wednesday — and the aftermath when it collided with the tremendous ball of plasma.

The video, captured by NASA’s Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), appears to show a fireball jet out following the collision. That’s not quite what happened, NASA explained. Instead, a coronal mass ejection coincidentally blasted out to the right just as the comet approaches and is vaporized by the sun. (Source http://www.foxnews.com)

Report from spaceweather.com: “The comet appears to be a member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail. Several Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most, measuring less than a few meters across, are too small to see, but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one attracts attention.”
LASCO C3 (2013-08-18 12:42:05 — 2013-08-20 08:42:05 UTC)
Kreutz Sungrazers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kreutz_S…
Sungrazing comet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sungrazi…
Credit: Helioviewer.org Images provided by SOHO (ESA & NASA)
VIDEO by VideoFromSpace

 

Why does the multiverse need a beginning? Why can it not just be eternal? + What is cosmology and the multiverse

William Lane Craig answers:

The reason the multiverse cannot be beginningless… see his answer by watching the video or my transcript below  the video.

But first:

What is Cosmology?

from Wikipedia, read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmology:

Cosmology is the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scholarly and scientific study of the origin, evolution, structure, dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order. Religious cosmology (or mythological cosmology) is a body of beliefs based on the historical, mythological, religious, and esoteric literature and traditions of creation and eschatology.

Physical cosmology is studied by scientists, such as astronomers, and theoretical physicists; and academic philosophers, such as metaphysicians, philosophers of physics, and philosophers of space and time. Modern cosmology is dominated by the Big Bang theory, which attempts to bring together observational astronomy and particle physics.[2]

Although the word cosmology is recent (first used in 1730 in Christian Wolff’s Cosmologia Generalis), the study of the universe has a long history involving science, philosophy, esotericism and religion. Related studies include cosmogony, which focuses on the origin of the Universe, and cosmography, which maps the features of the Universe. Cosmology is also connected to astronomy, but while the former is concerned with the Universe as a whole, the latter deals with individual celestial objects.

Modern metaphysical cosmology tries to address questions such as:

  • What is the origin of the Universe? What is its first cause? Is its existence necessary? (see monismpantheismemanationism and creationism)
  • What are the ultimate material components of the Universe? (see mechanismdynamismhylomorphismatomism)
  • What is the ultimate reason for the existence of the Universe? Does the cosmos have a purpose? (see teleology)
  • Does the existence of consciousness have a purpose? How do we know what we know about the totality of the cosmos? Does cosmological reasoning reveal metaphysical truths? (see epistemology)

Photo via Wikipedia

Photo description: The Hubble Extreme Deep Field (XDF) was completed in September 2012 and shows the farthest galaxies ever photographed by humans. Except for the few stars in the foreground (which are bright and easily recognizable because only they have diffraction spikes), every speck of light in the photo is an individual galaxy, some of them as old as 13.2 billion years; the observable universe is estimated to contain more than 200 billion galaxies.

What is the Cosmological Argument?

from Carm.org 

  1. Things exist.
  2. It is possible for those things to not exist.
  3. Whatever has the possibility of non existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist.
    1. Something cannot bring itself into existence, since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical.
  4. There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence.
    1. An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence.
    2. Since the universe exists, it must have a cause.
  5. Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all things.
  6. The uncaused cause must be God.

Also see this article on ReasonableFaith.org

What is a multiverse?

Also from Wikipedia, read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time,matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James.[1] The various universes within the multiverse are sometimes called parallel universes.

The structure of the multiverse, the nature of each universe within it and the relationship between the various constituent universes, depend on the specific multiverse hypothesis considered. Multiple universes have been hypothesized incosmology, physics, astronomy, religion, philosophy, transpersonal psychology and fiction, particularly in science fiction and fantasy. In these contexts, parallel universes are also called “alternative universes”, “quantum universes”, “interpenetrating dimensions”, “parallel dimensions”, “parallel worlds”, “alternative realities”, “alternative timelines”, and “dimensional planes,” among others.

VIDEO by drcraigvideos Reasonable Faith forums: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/
Reasonable Faith’s other Youtube channel:http://www.youtube.com/reasonablefait…

William Lane Craig:

Dr William Lane Craig answered during the 2013 Apologetics Canada Conference question and answer period. (Photo on left via www.faithinterface.com.au)

Any universe that is in a cosmic expansion, on average, over its history cannot be past eternal. And that is true of the multiverse as well, it is true that it is in a state of expansion on average, in its past history. So that can’t be extrapolated to past infinity. And that’s why, remarkably, this amazing theorem shows that even trying to resort to the multiverse to escape the beginning of the universe won’t work. And, by the way, if people are interested, a lecture that Vilenkin gave at the conference in Cambridge last April, celebrating Hawking’s 70th birthday is on youtube. It is very accessible. It is a wonderful lecture that lay people can understand and has power points and in this lecture he surveys contemporary cosmologies, including these multiverse models that try to avert the beginning of the universe, and shows how they fail.

See the Alexander Vilenkin video Dr. William Lane Craig just referred to here:

Did the Universe have a Beginning? Alexander Vilenkin

at the University of Cambridge

VIDEO by firstcauseargument

Alexander Vilenkin (Tufts University) discusses 3 candidate scenarios with ‘no beginnings’ for the universe:

  1. Eternal Inflation
  2. Cyclic evolution
  3. Static seed (emergent universe)

He says, “I’ll tell you my conclusion right away (at the beginning of lecture), that basically, none of these approaches that try to avoid the beginning of the universe work (they are not successful).” Then he discusses the options, one by one:

The question of the historical Adam and why evangelicals are capitulating on this

by STEVEN WEDGEWORTH

creation of man

creation of man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern evangelicalism has always had something of an identity problem. Wanting to be neither Fundamentalism nor Liberalism, it has often found itself unable to sit comfortably in the middle. More often than not, and sometimes with a bit of pressure from either side, it ends up swinging back and forth between the poles, often unable to explain why it isn’t one or the other. Traditionally a commitment to Biblical inerrancy was the one sure thing that all evangelicals could agree upon, but even that, in light of contemporary challenges, is proving inadequate. The question of hermeneutics must (again) be dealt with, as more and more professing evangelicals are re-reading the opening chapters of Genesis as myth. While the particulars of the discussion are not fully uniform (whether one must or should be a “literal” six-day creationist or not), the question of the historical Adam is now quite definitely the new lynchpin. We would like to here lay out some of the consequences of denying the historical Adam in order to substantiate our claim that this is a boundary of orthodoxy, but first a bit of context.

The reason that evangelicals are losing the historical Adam are several, but they all boil down to the dominance of the Darwinistic evolutionary theory, both in the academies and in the media. For both academic and cultural reasons, the denial of this evolutionary theory is shameful, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this theory also demands a sort of polygenesis. Thus the historical Adam cannot be retained. There are certainly those on both sides of the issue who hold out hope for a middle position, but as it currently stands, naturalistic science is basically agreed that the early chapters of Genesis cannot be historical. And so, in the face of this pressure, evangelicals are falling in line.

Read the entire article here - http://calvinistinternational.com/2013/05/10/what-depends-upon-an-historical-adam/

Also read Denny Burke’s article here -

More on the Poison Pill: Responding to Stanley, McKnight, and Bird - The doctrine of scripture is foundational, and at a time when it is so contested it is worth every effort to get it right

A challenge to evangelicals who have backed away from an historic Adam – Vern Poythress

Vern PoythressSCIENCE  A challenge to evangelicals who have backed away from an historic Adam, using a theologically informed look at ape ancestry genetic claims

As the battle between Darwinism and the Bible rages, some evangelicals have backed away from maintaining that Adam and Eve were real, historical individuals created in the way Genesis 2 relates:

“… the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. … So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” 

In a just-published article from the Westminster Theological Journal, Westminster Theological Seminary professor Vern Poythress brilliantly explains why such a surrender is wrong biblically and scientifically. Poythress, with both a Th.D. and a Harvard Ph.D. in mathematics, is well-positioned to write about both theology and evolutionary theory. He has published 13 books, including Redeeming Science and Redeeming Sociology, and numerous scholarly articles. We post this new one with the author’s andWTJ’s permission. —Marvin Olasky

ADAM VERSUS CLAIMS FROM GENETICS

Did Adam and Eve exist? Does science say otherwise? The human genome project has produced voluminous data about the information contained in human DNA. Various news media and scientists tell us that this information demonstrates our ape ancestry. How do we evaluate these claims?

Click here to read the entire story on Worldmagazine – You will be prompted to scroll through 8 short pages: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/05/a_biblical_and_scientific_adam

Evolution vs. God (38 min Video)

Thanks to Gabi Bogdan for this video!

Read more here - http://www.evolutionvsgod.com

VIDEO by thewayofthemaster

In Awe of God’s Creation – the Asperatus Clouds of New Zealand – Norii Asperatus din Noua Zeelanda – Coplesit de Creatia lui Dumnezeu

Asperatus Clouds Over New Zealand 
Image Credit & Copyright: Witta PriesterExplanation: What kind of clouds are these? Although their cause is presently unknown, such unusual atmospheric structures, as menacing as they might seem, do not appear to be harbingers of meteorological doom. Known informally as Undulatus asperatus clouds, they can be stunning in appearance, unusual in occurrence, are relatively unstudied, and have even been suggested as a new type of cloud. Whereas most low cloud decks are flat bottomedasperatus clouds appear to have significant vertical structure underneath. Speculation therefore holds that asperatus clouds might be related to lenticular clouds that form near mountains, or mammatus clouds associated with thunderstorms, or perhaps a foehn wind – a type of dry downward wind that flows off mountains. Such a wind called the Canterbury arch streams toward the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The above image, taken above Hanmer Springs inCanterburyNew Zealand, in 2005, shows great detail partly because sunlight illuminates the undulating clouds from the side.

In awe of God’s Creation – Another video over Niagara Falls – Cascada Niagara (VIDEO)

See another Niagara Falls spectacular video here - http://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com

The Niagara Falls filmed from a remote controlled helicopter – DJI Phantom with a GoPro Hero 3. VIDEO by
questpact

Was Adam “good” before the Fall? Doug Wilson

Ask Doug: I am trying to understand what is meant by God calling Adam and Eve, His prized creation, “good.” Did that mean perfect? Did that mean sinless? If so, did they need Jesus before the fall? If not, what would you say they were? canonwired.com/featured/adam-good-pre-fall/ (Photo credit www.christianbookexpo.com)

They needed Jesus before the fall, they needed the grace of God before the fall, but, what they did not need was forgiveness, before the fall. Every creature depends upon the grace of God. Fallen creatures require a special form of grace, which is forgiveness, mercy, where God deals with our rebellion and forgives our sins.

What Adam and Eve were before the fall, I would describe as ‘they were in a probationary status’. They were sinless and they were good, but it was untested innocence. Had they passed the test that was given to them, and had refrained from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then they would have been settled, or established, or confirmed in their innocence, which I would describe as righteous. It was an untested innocence that moved into a mature tested righteousness.

God was giving them good gifts, and it was all the grace of God. It says in Luke that Jesus grew in grace. Well, Jesus experienced the goodness of God, the grace of God, but He never experienced the grace of God in forgiveness.

They (Adam & Eve) needed Jesus to pass the test, that they failed to pass. So, if Adam and Eve had said no to the serpent, and had refrained from eating from that tree, and they got through to the other side, here’s the thought experiment: would they have needed to say a little prayer of thanks, that they’ve been spared? I think, obviously, yes. They needed to trust God and obey God through that whole event. They didn’t and so they fell. Had they done so, they would have been sustained by the preserving grace of God. It still would have been unmerited favor, which is different than demerited favor.

A lot of our debates about the grace of God get gummed up because Christians are using the word grace maybe equivocally. Most of the time, we as sinners, experience grace as favor from God that we actively demerited. We behaved in such a way that what God gives us is mercy and grace. It is the very opposite of what we were insisting on getting.

Now, the instant before Adam had life breathed into him, when he was still dirt, he was dirt that had done nothing to earn or merit his coming life. It was unmerited life. So, the life that God breathed into him was unmerited, but it wasn’t demerited.

……….

….when Adam spurned that grace, God gave him everything he needed for life and godliness. And when Adam spurned that and fell into sin, he actively demerited any continued goodness from God, but God continues His goodness anyways.

click on video to listen to the entire answer (conversation).

Ask Doug: Was Adam “good” before the Fall? from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Filling Naturalism’s Void – Gary Habermas, PhD (video & transcript)

This is a lecture on world views, given by Dr. Gary R. Habermas at Liberty University in 2012.

Naturalism has been the predominant world view in western civilization universities throughout all of our lifetimes. There has never been a time, in all of our lifetimes when that has not been the case. It runs the western university. It does not run the whole world university system. Other places in the world are not like that. But in western North America, western Europe, Australia, and in other places as well, in China, in the old Russia- the University system encapsulates a naturalistic world view which says: The natural world is all that there is. There is no supernatural world and what we know, we usually know by sense experience. That has dominated education philosophically, it’s dominated western education since at least the 1930′s.

But, for the first time in our lifetime, there’s a new phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the western world right now. I wrote about it in 1988, in a journal article. You can find it on my website garyhabermas.com. But, the name of the article was ‘Changing Paradigms- A Challenge to Naturalism‘.  This was 1988, and I said there were some signs that naturalism was going out. Now, we have secular philosophers and other saying: naturalism’s dead. Now, I think that’s a little premature, but something does seem to be happening.

A lot of you know that I became a good friend of Anthony Flew‘s before he passed away. He came to Liberty University in 1985. He was the best known philosophical atheist in the world, and by the way, naturalism is the world view from which atheism…. I think of atheism as a subcategory . Naturalism is the philosophical Father of that sort of thinking. And Tony Flew was the best known philosophical naturalist (he was an atheist) in the world. He came to campus and we debated the topic of the resurrection of Jesus in 1985. It became a book with what was then Harper & Rowe. Over the years, Tony and I got to be very close. We used to talk about a lot of things. One day we did our last debate, in 2003. We debated 3 times, soon afterwards, a year later I heard that Tony’s view was changing. I called him one day on the phone and I said, “I heard that you don’t consider yourself an atheist anymore. He said, “Well, sort of, I don’t, but, I’m in a state of flux right now,” and he said, “about a month ago, I thought that was my view, but, now, I think I’m still an atheist, but, with really big questions.”

We talked in between, but I called him a year later, and he said, “This time I’ve made the switch.” I’m no longer an atheist. I believe in God. This book came out in 2004, and notice the word NO crossed out- And There is a God. The subtitle is ‘How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind’. Now, this was huge and it really bothered the atheistic community. If a Christian deconverted, I would be very sad about it , but I don’t think it affects the truth of Christianity. Somehow, the atheist group has acted like this has been … they tried to explain it other ways: He’s senile, he’s getting old… Jay Leno said in a joke on his show, “Hey, this well known philosophical atheist, he’s 85 years old. I guess if I was 85 years old, I’d get right with God too.” Well, the thing is that Tony Flew didn’t believe in an afterlife. So that was not his motivation, for doing this. (Photo via www.npr.org Order from Amazon here - http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception)

Here’s a more recent example. Thomas Nagel, University Professor at New York University, in both philosophy and law. He published this book: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Now, you have to know how influential of a person he is. He’s not Anthony Flew, but, he’s extremely influential. I should tell you that Anthony Flew wrote more material defending atheism than anybody whoever lived. What a moniker. But, Thomas Nagel is hugely influential, and yet he is saying, “Looks like we’re losing.”

To me, this is the one that really caught my eye. I know a person who knows David Brooks, and I understand He is not a Christian. He wrote an article in the New York Times called ‘The Neural Buddhists‘. Basically, he says: Some people think atheism is center stage in this country because of New Atheism. He says, “I’ve got news for you: Atheism is dead. Atheism is dead in the western world. Something else has already taken its place. And, he defined the 2 main takers, (which) he calls ‘Neural Buddhism’- which he says is made up of a number of sciences, but this is later brain research that is now allowing for supernatural areas, at least religious areas, he says, That’s one group.” And, he says, “The other group is the Judeo-Christian heritage. They are the 2 takers for filling naturalism’s void.” Look at some of these comments/quotes:

  • The cognitive revolution- you might think it’s good news because atheism is dead and religion is coming back in, but it’s gonna challenge Christianity, if we’re not careful.
  • The momentum has shifted from hardcore materialism (which is a species of naturalism). He says it shifted. Now, when he says this may not be comfortable for Christianity, what he says is: The 2 big views- Neural Buddhism, what we would probably call the New Age Movement (which is backed up by a number of empirical science studies), (so,) Neural Buddhism vs. some revelatory religion.- he uses the Judeo-Christian heritage. He keeps talking about the Bible.   Here’s what they both have in common. They’re both open to God because naturalism’s dead, they’re both interested and open to religion They’re both okay with prayer, general prayer, general worship, afterlife; that’s okay. But he says, here’s what Christians believe that Neural Buddhists don’t believe. He says, Christians believe that there are specific revealed doctrines that are true. Now, he doesn’t say that, but we would with things like reincarnation, deity of Christ, a God of the universe who reveals Himself to a people- the Israelites, and is concerned that people come to know Jesus Christ. He says, “Those specific doctrines are not shared by the Neural Buddhists. He says, “They’re gonna say that that’s your addition to evolutionary views of spirituality. And you can be spiritual. You can believe in God, you can worship. You can pray. You can believe in an afterlife (sort of, don’t be too adamant about it) . But, if you believe in particular doctrines, prove it!” That’s what David Brooks says in his article. “If you believe in particular articles of faith, show why those doctrines are true.” Because the other group doesn’t believe that, so the biggest rub is gonna be to show your specific religious views are true.
  • “We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution and it’s gonna be having huge cultural effects. It’s going on now.” What he’s saying is naturalists don’t know they’ve lost. They’re losing, but he says, “They’re not losing, they’ve lost. The world’s passing them by.”

How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism?

  1. New Atheism - My question is: How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism and this battle with such things as The New Atheism? They still have some influence, although numbers show that atheists are very small. One recent survey said that only 2% of Americans are atheists. I think it’s higher than that. But the New Atheists are having real influence with our young people (ages) 18-25.
  2. New Age 
  3. Postmodernism

Those are forms, minus the atheism, those are the forms that this is coming in. And David Brooks, whom I understand is Jewish, David Brooks says, “If you’ve got specific doctrines, prove it. If you wanna say what Neural Buddhists say, but more, tell us what more and why? Why are there more doctrines? Why should we believe it? (13:00)

I’ve been starting to work with a concept in the last 10 years, that basically says this: When I talk to you about apologetics in the area of philosophy or theology, which talks about evidences. Every religion has apologetics, but, Christian apologetics are: How do we know some of these general areas like God, and morality, and afterlife are true? And how do we know the specific areas, areas like incarnation, deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Jesus, things that are central to our faith, how do we know these things are true? That’s the subject of apologetics. When I say apologetics, most people think – Bible. We think of it as largely defending a body of doctrine that closed about 2000 years ago. But, what I’m gonna argue is that apologetics is a contemporary aspect and there are many, many new subjects that we have not had research on, at least the kind of research I’m talking about, more recently than the last 30 years. When you think apologetics, you might not just think New Testament anymore, you might think some additional research today that evidences what we believe. (Transcript continues below video)

2012 – Lecture by Gary R. Habermas VIDEO by religionphilosophy

Consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body

On the subject of near death experiences- these have now been written up. My last count of 5 years ago, the subject of near death experiences has been written up in at least 15-20 different medical journals. Now, why would peer reviewed secular medical journals run articles on these. Now, first, when these came out, everyone was talking, “Yeah, it’s interesting and we’ve got some interesting cases there. I’m not talking about people who died and saw a light, went down a tunnel, and ‘wow’, doesn’t that prove that it’s true? No, it doesn’t. It might just prove common physiology, or common neurology. But, in over 100 cases, I and another individual, who is the editor of the only peer reviewed near-death journal in the world (I’m a reviewer for that journal- in fact, it’s secular, it’s largely eastern, and marginally Neuro Buddhist. The two of us, between us (I’ve not seen her list), but, we both have a list of over 100 well evidenced near death experiences. They are incredibly evidential, where a person sees something while they claim to be in an out of body state. Some of them are incredible, the person reports things that happen miles away. This has very much surprised a lot of people. And, these have been written up in a lot of journals, but, what does it show?

This indicates for a lot of folks that consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body.  You say, “Well, yeah, because the brain doesn’t die right away, and you might still see something for 2,3 or 4 minutes. Well, there are reports of these things going on for hours when the person is dead. Here is one of the evidential stories and according to a Gallup survey 20 years ago, 8 million Americans have claimed to have experienced near death phenomenon of some sort. Maybe they didn’t die, but, they’ve watched someone else describe this sort of thing. How about blind folks who have never seen anything in their whole lives until their near death experienceThey report something that happens down the road, they come back and correctly report it, and now they’re still blind, but they saw something during the experience. Some of these reports come with flat EEG and flat EKG’s. This is a general category. (19:25)

How about specific Christian categories? All in the last 20 or 30 years. You say ‘Resurrection’, that’s a New Testament study. I mean it is, but the latest New Testament research that is turned… I often give a lecture at universities called “The Resurrection that Changed a Generation of Scholars”. Today, more critics than not believe something happened to the risen Jesus. And that evidence is only about 30 years old. You might think the shroud of Turin is dead. Not so. A new round of experiments are being done right now, they’re not telling you much about them, but it could either make it or break it.

Documented miracle claims

Some of us have thought, “I’ve got a few cases like this in my family. I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but 3 things have happened in my family and I think they qualify as a miracle. And I think, for the most part, Christians have been very much influenced by this naturalistic mindset , and when things happen to us that are miracles, we very frequently, just like the naturalists, maybe not as radically, but we’ll just as frequently say, “Ah, crazy things happen, and we sweep it under the carpet and we forget about it. We don’t really count is as miracles, cause we just really doubt that miracles happen, so we don’t tell anybody. We sort of think miracles occur.

A New Testament scholar, Craig Keener, phD from Duke University in New testament, and a minor in classics, and this is amazing because the classics come into this study. Craig was doing a commentary on the Book of Acts- 3000 pages. Craig is famous for this. He wrote a book ‘The Historical Jesus’ 400 pages and the end notes were 400 pages. Well, his book on Acts has 100,000 parallels with classical studies. So, he’s going through the book of Acts and he comes across these miracle accounts. So, he decided to start collecting evidence for miracle cases. The result is a 2 volume work , that, if you’re interested in this topic, you’ve got to see it, it’s a masterpiece. It has come out in 2 volumes. It’s from Baker Academics, it’s entitled ‘Miracles’. It is 1,200 pages of evidenced miracle claims.

Many of these (miracles), and I know we have a lot of medical people here, if I told you some of these cases you would say, “Mmm, no this doesn’t happen.” Let me tell you one. A fellow who had a spleen removed for medical reasons and when he got out of the hospital, they took him to the church post-op, getting ready for his post-op checkup and they laid hands on and prayed for him. He went back there and he’s got a spleen. He’s got another spleen. No way. What do you do with it? Here’s the before, and here’s the after. They do have cases of where bones have grown on the spot. They do have cases where heart valves have been replaced on the spot. You say, “That can’t happen.” Well, the guy who spread that story- an MD, phD, professor from UCLA School of Medicine, who spent 4 years at Mayo Clinic.

When you read Craig’s accounts, 1,200 pages, after a while you think, Wow, there’s no more room for skepticism.” Or double blind prayer experiments. Not all have turned out very well. Some of the ones that are politically correct- the list of prayers, are from our viewpoint kind of odd, like witch doctors and medicine men. In one well known double blind prayer experiment , if you were prayed for, you were slightly more likely not to be healed. But, the only 2 that I know of double blind prayer experiments that have had statistical favorable healing results through prayer, both of the them, all the prayers were orthodox-Christian (not the orthodox denomination, but orthodox Judeo-Christian beliefs in God- ). I want to make this clear. I think God answers prayer for everybody. He did in biblical times. Jesus didn’t heal people by saying, “Are you a believer? If not, get out of line.” God answered prayer for everyone. Here’s the last line (in that report):

The findings of this double blind prayer experiment are consistent with prayer to the Judeo-Christian God.

This is in a medical journal. (26:00)

Conclusion

What are we doing to further the Christian message and let people know we have reasons to believe in these things?

  1. The best thing we can do to remedy this is to take David Brooks up (the guy from the New York Times), take him at his word, and to be able to show that theism is true, and to further the demise of naturalism. Or, why is theism true, and naturalism false?
  2. Let’s show that Christian doctrine, which no other religion has (we share some things with Judaism), but, for the most part, Christianity has some unique beliefs, Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, He died, was raised from the dead. Are we able to argue, not just the things that overlap with Neural Buddhism, but, worship and afterlife, but specific Christian doctrines, are we ready to do that?

In closing here, there is also an encouraging aspect. I love 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul ends 57 wonderful verses on the resurrection, the earliest most evidential resurrection passage in the New Testament. Paul ends by saying, “Therefore,” verse 58, ” be steadfast, immovable.” You’ve probably seen some of the reports, but between 60-90% of our young people, who go away to secular schools, they walk away from their faiths. Naturalism may be on the downslide, but they don’t know it. And Neuro Buddhism is not gonna be a lot nicer to us. It’s nice that we can believe in religion, but they’re not gonna be a lot nicer to us. Our young people are going away and sliding away from Christianity.

There’s a study that just came out that says many of them come back in their 30′s. But, first of all, many of them don’t, and those who do have lost 15 key years of from their lives. So, Paul says to be steadfast and immovable. But, why aren’t we the bastion of teaching our young people, that Christians have the best, the best possible message in the world? So many people write to me and say, “My professor attacked this, or that… What should I say?” I tell them over, and over again, there are good responses to these things. Read this, consider this. But I tell students, “Think about this, there’s a lot more to Christianity than what I’m gonna say. But, as long as the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus are true, Christianity follows. When someone attacks a periphery thing, I think we go after it 2 ways. We answer the complaint, and then we say to the young people, “That’s not a just reason for walking away form Christianity. Until someone can disprove the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the center of Christianity remains.”

Lastly, same verse, Paul says. “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  First, he says, “Hang in there, be steadfast, immovable, and in his second point – your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Get out there and do something.”

Doubting Darwinism – J.P.Moreland PhD quotes atheist Thomas Nagel against Darwinism

J. P. Moreland expresses some doubts on Darwinian evolution. VIDEO by religionphilosophy

J.P. Moreland

Moreland:

Not long ago, the former professor of biology at Cornell University, a man who is known throughout the world for his expertise in biological science, William Provine, made the following statement:

“Let me summarize my views about what modern evolutionary biology tells us: There are no gods. There is no purpose to life. There are no goal directed forces of any kind. There;s no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I’m going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There’s no ultimate foundation for ethics, there’s no meaning to life, and there’s no such thing as free will. “

Now, Provine is a good scientist, but a very bad philosopher.  And, his view is widely believed among the intellectual elite of our culture. And unfortunately, the culture, and what the culture believes is largely determined by the intellectual elites. That’s just the way it is.

Now, Provine’s statement is really not true, because, if evolutionary theory is true, it doesn’t mean there’s not a god. I could grant the truth of evolutionary theory, and I would still have plenty of reasons to believe in God, completely outside of the biological realm.

There is for example an argument for God’s existence

  • based upon the origin of the universe
  • based upon the fine tuning of the universe
  • based on the objectivity of the moral law
  • based on the miracles in the New Testament
  • based on the reliability of the New Testament documents

So, even if evolutionary theory is true, it doesn’t follow, that all the things that Provine has told us are reasonable to believe. As I said, I could grant the truth of evolutionary theory for the sake of argument, and still have plenty of reason to believe in the Christian God.

Well then,

What does evolutionary theory do?

It actually does, I think, 2 things:

  1. First of all, it robs us of an argument for God’s existence, because we can base an argument on God’s existence based upon the design of living things. After all, living things look designed. And so, you can build an argument for God based upon the design of living things, and if evolutionary theory is true, it could be argued – that argument is off the table. Fair enough. Then, evolutionary theory would rob the Christian believer of one of many arguments  for God’s existence. That’s a legitimate point.
  2. The real problem however, with evolutionary theory is not that it touches on whether or not there’s a God. The real problem with evolutionary theory is it tends to undermine some very plausible ways of interpreting the early chapters of the book of Genesis. And the book of Genesis is an important foundational document to the Christian community.

So, it’s important to understand that Provine has it wrong. So, nevertheless, evolutionary theory is an important thing it’s just been misunderstood by the general public and Provine, in terms of the impact of the theory, if it’s true,

Is evolution true?

Well, that depends on what you mean by it. I am going to characterize 3 different meanings of evolution and tell you where the tension lies, and then I’ll give you 3 reasons why I don’t believe in the theory of evolution. (See rest of transcript below video)

Evolution can mean 1 of 3 things:

  1. Microevolution- Evolution can mean that organisms change when they go to new environments. This is true. If you take a group of brown rabbits, and if they migrate to an area where there’s a lot of snow, it could be (that) after several generations their coats turn white, rather than brown, and that enables them to survive better. Is that definition of evolution true? Yes, and nobody disputes it. That’s called microevolution.
  2. Common descent- The second meaning of evolution is called the thesis of common descent. This is the idea that living things appear on earth in a sequence of simpler life to a more complex life, in a sequence of new life forms all the way from single cell organisms (simple life, supposedly) up to human beings. That’s called the thesis of common descent (from chimps to mankind).  All of the evidence for evolution is evidence for this thesis. There is no evidence for the third thesis, I’m about to tell you (about). Well, is the thesis of common descent true? I’m inclined to say, “No.” But, let me say very clearly, “If the thesis of common descent turned out to be true, I would have very little problem with it, as an evangelical believer, because I think that the early chapters of Genesis teach us that life appeared on earth, by and large, through a sequence of events from the simple to the complex. So, if the thesis of common descent was true, which I don’t believe it is, but, even if it were, it would cause my Christian faith very little adjustment because I am committed to the idea, according to Genesis, that living things appeared on earth, by and large, from simple to complex.
  3. The blind watchmaker thesis- The real problem with evolution is the third definition, and that’s where all the tension lies. This is called the blind watchmaker thesis.  According to the blind watchmaker thesis of evolution, the processes that gave rise to living things are totally naturalistic processes, and there was no room for God to do anything. We don’t need to postulate God to explain where life came from, that God was involved in creating different life forms along the way because mutations and natural selections, that is blind processes- the watchmaker who designed us was blind- that means not conscious, not intentional, had no purposes in mind. Why? Because the processes that gave rise to us are purely material physical processes of mutation and natural selection, and that’s where the real tension lies, because this thesis says that the common descent of animals from simple to complex took place without any intervention from God creating anything, or doing anything in the process. The process is purely naturalistic, and we don’t have to postulate a supreme being to explain life. (9:00)

There is, in my opinion, not a shred of evidence to this thesis.  All of the evidence in debates are evidence for common descent, not for the blind watchmaker thesis. I am going to give you three reasons why I think it’s false. In other words, I am going to give you 3 reasons why I believe that God had to be involved in the process, and that you cannot explain the living world, as we know it, without there being a Creator intelligent God. Before I do, there are many lines of evidence I could have selected, but, I’m gonna pick 3.  In most fields there are pace setters that set the pace in that field. I am an academic and a professional philosopher, and there are certain people in my discipline that are pace setters. If you’re gonna be a responsible, professional philosopher, you have to read what they write, because if you don’t know what they say, you’re not up to speed on your discipline. One of the professional philosophers in my field, for 50 years, who has been one of the leading intellectuals in the entire world, I would list him in the top 30 western thinkers in the world, is Thomas Nagel. He is a professor of philosophy at New York University. He is clearly an avowed atheist. In his book ‘The Last Word’, he makes it clear “I fear God, and what I mean by that is I don’t want God to exist. I don’t want the universe to be like that and I hope there’s no God.” It’s called the cosmic authority problem.   He doesn’t want an authority over his life and he is clear about that. Photo above via http://ebooksdownloadfree.com Photo below Thomas Nagel – via Wikipedia.

A week ago, a major event happened. Nagel, who is an atheist, published a book with Oxford University Press (1 of the 2 top academic Presses in the western world (Cambridge being the other)), and he has argued in this book that the general theory of evolution is nonsense for 3 reasons.  Now, he doesn’t believe in God, he’s hoping for other solutions. But, the point is that you have one of the top academic atheists in Europe and in the United States publishing a book that just came out (video is from 2012). I’ve taken notes from this book, and he says that there are 3 things that evolution cannot and will never explain and so we have to abandon the theory, in terms of its adequacy of explaining living things. I am going to use the ones he lists, because he’s a critic of our views.

1. The Origin of Life

Too improbable to happen by natural processes. Living things contain information & we know, as the SETI scientists themselves assume that if we discover information, that is evidence that the cause of that info is intelligent minds Nagel claims, and he’s right about this, that the probabilities of natural law and chance to produce life  is abslutely ridiculous. That you will never get living things, by natural laws and Darwinian processes to appear. Why is that? When Darwin looked through the microscopes of his day, a living cell looked like a simple little blob of jello. Not so anymore. We now know that the simplest single cell is like the city of Detroit or Chicago or New York. It’s got a police dept., it’s got a library, it’s got street signals… I mean, it’s as complicated as a city.  The problem has become then, how do you get through natural processes and random chance? Something that complicated in 4 billion year (let’s grant/say), and Nagel says, “There’s not a snowballs chance in a certain place (hell) that that’s gonna happen. Here’s an example: Suppose I filled the state of Texas a mile high with quarters and I put an X on one quarter, and I flew over it in a helicopter and I put it somewhere in the state of Texas. The chances of evolving through natural processes a single cell would be the chances of me giving the opportunity to pick one quarter and picking the right quarter on the first draw. No one in his right mind would believe anything like that. What if I did pick the quarter on the first draw? You would know that it was rigged, that it was done by cheating, done on purpose. And Nagel says that there’s just not any possibility that the probability of forming life through Darwinian processes are so astronomically small that they’re comparable to picking the quarter on the first draw in the state of Texas. No one in his right mind would believe that.

By the way, there is a second problem with the origin of life. We now know that information comes from an intelligent mind. When we discover information, it is evidence that intelligence stands behind that information. You’ve heard of the search for life in outer space. It’s called SETI the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumption that is made by the SETI scientists is that information can only come from an intelligent mind. So, if we discovered a signal from outer space that contained information, we would conclude that the origin of that signal was an intelligent mind of some kind. What we have discovered is that there is more information in a single cell than in all the books in the libraries where I did my phD at USC. It is stacked with information and the evidence of information is evidence of mind. So, the origin of life is the first reason why Darwinian theory fails because (a) it is too imporbable to be rational, to believe it happened that way, and (b) living things contain information and information is evidence that the cause is an intelligent thinker.

2. The Diversity of life forms 

(a) Diversity of life is far too complex and intricate for it to have evolved in 3.5 billion years through natural processes and chance mutations and through the laws of chemistry and physics. (b) Living systems contain irreducibly complex structures and it will not confer survival values for a mechanism if it doesn’t have all the parts. Here’s the second reason why I don’t believe in Darwinian evolution: It’s the diversity of life forms that we see all around us. The diversity and the complexity of life around us. Nagel makes the point that if evolutionary theory were true, and somehow, if we could get a single cell organism say, 3.5 billion years ago, there’s not enough time in 3.5 billion years to go from a single cell organism to lions, and tigers, and bears. Because, if evolution were truewe would not expect there to be enough time for very much diversity to have appeared. In other words, the sheer complexity and diversity of living things is far too much for the mechanisms of evolution to account for it. And Nagel runs a probability argument on this as well, saying, pretty much like the state of Texas, “Suppose we could evolve a single celled organism, the probabilities of developing life as we know it are again, like picking the quarter on the first draw. It’s way too improbable. Think of a butterfly, for example. The mechanisms that can take you from a caterpillar to a butterfly are staggering. You start with a caterpillar, it goes through a stage where you have a stack of goo with not much information, and then you get a butterfly squirting out that is totally different than the caterpillar. And the processes and the staggering detail, and the amount of complexity involved in something that simple are simply too much for the mechanisms of evolution to explain.

Consider the brain. I’m doing research on the soul and the brain this year. If you take a look at what are called the neural nets, these are networks of neurons, and in order for you to have a thought, you have to have billions of neurons firing in just the right place, at just the right time. There’s not a chance that that could happen through natural consequences, it’s way too complicated.  So, the probability of life diversifying into the staggering complexity that we see is simply too large for evolution to explain, says Nagel, and I agree with him. (20:00)

One other problem with the diversity of life involves what is called irreducible complexity. Something is irreducibly complex if it contains parts that won’t work if all the other parts aren’t there. Let me give you an example of an irreducibly complex structure: a mousetrap. It is composed of 5 parts- the base, the spring, the trap, the thing that holds it down, and so on. A mouse trap won’t work with only 4 of the parts. It doesn’t work until you have all 5 parts in the right place and then it works. That means that a mousetrap is irreducibly complex. The problem is that you can’t evolve irreducibly complex structures one part at a time, because it’s not gonna work till all the parts are there. And, how is a structure that’s only got some of its parts there, but it doesn’t work gonna help an organism survive ? Let me illustrate it. There’s a little single celled organism called a flagellum, that you can see under a microscope. It has a rotary tail. The thing will turn at 100,000 rpm’s in one direction and propel the little guy through fluid. It will stop on a dime and turn 100,000 rpm’s in the opposite direction, just like that. It contains 50 parts. Guess what? If you’ve got 49 of the parts it doesn’t work. It needs all 50 parts, before an of it will work. How are you gonna evolve the rotary tail from precursors that didn’t have a rotary tail, one part at a time? You can’t evolve irreducibly complex structures  one part at a time because the structures will not confer survival value on their owners unless all the parts are present.  And, irreducibly complex structures are a huge, huge problem for Darwinian theory.  (25:00)

3. Consciousness

This is the one Nagel spends 2/3 of the book arguing. Consciousness. The real problem is that you can’t get mind from matter. If you say, “In the beginning were the particles…” then what you end up with is brute sub atomic particles, electrons, strings, protons, neutrons, whatever they think is down there. You end up with particles that aren’t conscious- an electron doesn’t have consciousness. The laws of chemistry and physics cause these particles to bind together to form molecules. Those bind together to form cells, and those bind together to form the bodies of living things. The process is a process of taking matter and simply forming it into more complicated arrangements of matter. But now there’s a problem here, and Nagel points it out. If you start with matter and all you do is rearrange matter, you know what you’re gonna end up with? Rearranged matter. You’re not gonna get mind squirted into existence. To put the point differently, you might end up with brains, but you’re not gonna end up with minds. Cause if you end up with minds, that’s getting something from nothing, and that’s a pretty tough sell.

Basically, what I mean by consciousness is what animals and we have, and that’s what we’re aware of when we introspect- when you close your eyes and introspect, you are aware of your consciousness. Your consciousness includes:

  • sensations – experience of pain and pleasure
  • thoughts – like the thought that 2+2=4
  • beliefs – like my belief that George Washington was the 1st president of the United States
  • desires – my desire to be a good dad and to have ice cream and avoid the dentist
  • acts of free will – where I freely choose to raise my arm to vote, for example

So, what we have is consciousness is not physical. It is invisible. I could look all throughout your brain and I couldn’t see your thoughts or your feelings, or your desires, or your beliefs. All I would find would be  neurons firing. The problem is, as Nagel points out, if you start at the beginning with the particles, and you rearrange the particles according to the laws of chemistry and physics you’re never gonna get consciousness. I don’t have that problem cause I believe in God. I don’t think ‘In the beginning was the particles…”, I think in the beginning was the logos. So, I start with mind. I don’t start with matter. And it’s not a problem to explain where our minds came from because the universe began with a grand mind. Surely a grand mind could make subsequent minds.  If the universe began with consciousness, it means that there was a kind of big mind out there, a big conscious being. If you don’t mind, I’ll just use the word God for Him.

Conclusion:

If Nagel and I are right about this, why are all the scientists Darwinist? There are 2 reasons:

  1. They are taught to think that way in graduate school. They’re internalized into a theory that you have got to force the evidence to fit. They are not open to alternative methods of explanation, because if you start appealing to a designer, they claim that you’ve stopped doing science. And so, they are angry at Intelligent Design advocates. I was at UC Berkeley a couple of years ago (2010), and just before I came, William Demski was on campus defending intelligent design. Do you know what happened? The biology department boycotted the meeting and wouldn’t let their graduate students attend it. There’s free thought for you. If this guy’s so stupid and his ideas are so ignorant, go to the meeting and expose him as a fraud. But, why boycott a meeting? Because when you do an undergraduate and graduate degree in science you are taught a certain set of theories that you’re not allowed to question, because if you question Darwinism, you’re now going to religion and religion and science are not supposed to mix.
  2. The cosmic authority problem. Nagel says, “I don’t want God to exist.” I think, frankly, the reason Darwinism is held widely is because of sex. In the early days of Darwinism, Huxley, who was Darwin’s bulldog, stated clearly that the reason he defended Darwinism is he wanted to do sex anyway he wanted to anytime, and he didn’t want anybody telling him what he should do. And today, we are a sex crazed culture in the west and I think evolution gives you the permission not to have to worry about a divine being who might judge your sexual behavior. I think that’s got a lot to do with it. What it doesn’t have to do with is the evidence. Because, I’m telling you, while there may be evidence for microevolution, there may even be evidence for common descent (though I don’t accept that), there is to my knowledge a terribly inadequate defense of the blind watchmaker thesis, and there are good reasons not to believe it.

 

ORIGINAL SIN – A Muslim man challenges Ravi Zacharias on Original Sin (8 min video)

Ravi

Questioner: The Christian faith stresses a lot of love, a lot of forgiveness, and you (Ravi) were just speaking to that gentleman about how he could judge everybody rightly. However, what really troubles me is this: Christians dogmas all concur on this one thing- that all of us are born with this ‘original sin’, this thing that we just inherited from Adam, and we are just born with it when we are born. However, I look at the Bible, Jesus never mentioned that. In Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, chapter 18:20 ‘the souls that sins shall die’… the son shall never bear the iniquity of the father… and the father will not bear the iniquity of the son… the righteousness of the righteous will be upon him… and so on. The whole chapter talks about how your righteousness will lead you to heaven. Then, when Jesus talks about it, and He’s in the crowds and everybody is asking Him, “How do we inherit the kingdom?” He brings a little child… and He says, “You have to be as innocent as that child to inherit the kingdom. He never said nothing about original sin, nothing about the trinity, Him being God> He stressed 2 things: that ‘love thy Lord, my Father and your Father and love thy neighbor. That’s the only thing He came up with.

Ravi Zacharias: Do you believe everything Jesus said?

Questioner: Sir, I believe that He was born from a virgin…

Ravi Zacharias: No, no, no. I know you believe that because you’re a muslim. I’m asking if you believe everything Jesus said in the New Testament?

Questioner: I really don’t know what to say because when I buy these Bibles with red writing, and I go to certain pastors, they tell me the red writing is not really what Jesus said.

Ravi Zacharias: Well, that’s a classic sidestep there. But, the reality is that when you look at Jesus, you see first of all what He said to the people who refused to come to Him. He told them that they were of their father, the devil. When He talked about the human condition, He very clearly described it . And you go all the way to the sermon on the mount, and you will see that the standard that He set is impossible for any human being to attain. And He said, also very clearly, as He described very precisely, in the book of Romans, in chapter 3, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and there is not even one righteous, no, not one. If you believe that statement, you must believe that what the apostle Paul is telling us , there is precisely what he understands a Christian to be. One who is a sinner.

Now, the reason you do not believe in the very sinful reality of the human mind, and the human fallen condition is because you also do not believe, as a muslim, that man is created in the image of God. Therefore, you have absolutely, at that point, no way to even explain the moral framework. So, the moral framework that you actually argue about comes from the Koran.

Questioner: I do also believe in the Gospel of Jesus. When John talks about the Gospel, he says, “And He went into this town, and He preached the Gospel. And Mark talks about Jesus going into this other town, and He preached the Gospel. That Gospel, I believe, came to Jesus’s heart from that Father. None of these Gospels have Jesus’s signature on them. Nobody is really certain, and it is debated until today whether these Gospels are true or not.

Ravi Zacharias: Okay, you’re shifting subjects, so let me try to zero in on you. And what I would like to do is quickly show you exactly what it is that Jesus is talking about, when He reminds us of these truths in the sermon on the mount. But, as I am talking to you, here is what I want you to first try and explain to me. When the Bible says: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, what do you think that means?

Questioner: I really think that nobody is perfect.

Ravi Zacharias: Nobody is perfect? Then, how do they find forgiveness?

Questioner: Forgiveness is something that only God can grant.

Ravi Zacharias: That’s correct. So, we are on an even keel now. There is none righteous, no, not one. Nobody is perfect, so there is nobody in his or her condition that can inherit the kingdom of God. Only God can make the decision to give it to you. Jesus says, “If any man come unto me, I will in no way cast out.” “He that has the Son, hath life. He that has not the Son, has not life, but shall come into condemnation.” “When, as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of the Living God, even to them that call upon His name.”

Now, He goes into that tremendous conversation with Nicodemus. And Nicodemus is the ruler and the teacher of the Jews, and so on.. and he is talking about all that he knows, and Jesus looks at Nicodemus and says, “You are a teacher and you don’t know that it is impossible for you to get into the kingdom without the new birth, without being born again?” And here, He makes a very categoric statement, that I want to read for you, because I think that will answer the question. Here it is: As He is dealing with Nicodemus, he says to Nicodemus, ” I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless He is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying- You must be born again,”

What He is saying is that everyone born of the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God, that spiritual birth needs to take place, and He goes on to say “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So my answer to you is this: You believe none of us is perfect. We are all imperfect. The Bible calls that ‘falling short’ of the standard of God. So, if you don’t want to accept the original sin, you then have to explain why none of us is perfect, and none of us has the capacity to be perfect.

Original sin basically means that in my own condition, I am not able to come to God and meet His complete righteousness , no matter how hard I try. And many of them tried. All this means is that in my strength and in my ability  it is impossible for me to attain the kingdom of God. He’s made the way, He’s provided it, and I would strongly suggest to you that you try and read the Gospel of John without taking those red letters to somebody who tries to tell you that that os not there, because when you go back to the Koran, the Koran also tells you He never died, and therefore He never rose again. There is no living historian of the Scripture, that I know of today, who tells me Jesus did not die. It’s only in the Koran you see it. And it’s a false statement. He died on the cross. History demonstrates that. And when He died on that cross, 3 days later He rose again and He offers you eternal life. You are not perfect, I am not perfect. God is perfect. He’s the only one, and He’s giving you His Son, through whom you and I can be seen as perfect in His sight.

We’ve all sinned. He provides the way, and the new birth is recognized only when that Spirit comes and changes what you want to do. And I hope that will happen one day to you too. Nice talking to you, and we’ll be here after the meeting too.

VIDEO by Don Reynolds

Cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu? Traducere de A. C.

READ THIS ARTICLE in ENGLISH here

photo via plus.google.com

Cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu? Si cum poate fi Dumnezeu trei si unul? Nu sunt acestea ,,mistere”? si nu ar trebui ca crestinii sa raspunda simplu: ,,noi nu stim”? Explora impreuna cu John Lennox in timp ce el explora intrebari grele si obiectii aduse crestinismului. La inceput  sa ascultam un clip de 11 minute si dupa aceea cursul intreg de video in partea de jos a postarii lui John Lennox la UCLA (video in Limba Engleza).

INTREBARE:

Daniel Lowenstein: Una dintre cele mai de baza dificultati pentru cei ce detin punctul de vedere a unui univers materialistic este problema unui inceput. Si, asa dupa cum ati afirmat, cu mult inainte ca Crestinismul sa sustina ca universul a fost creat, iar acum avem teoria big bang-ului care cel putin sugereaza (ca) a inceput la un anumit moment. Si totusi, exista intotdeauna problema: Da, dar daca nu poate exista o cauza neprovocata, atunci ce l-a creat pe Dumnezeu? Si cred ca, Crestinismul da raspunsuri diferite la aceasta. Dupa cum eu inteleg, raspunsul lui Augustin a fost ca Dumnezeu a fost in afara timpului. Si intr-un fel, acesta este un raspuns bun, dar mi se pare ca aceasta este doar un fel de a spune: ,,Noi nu stim care este explicatia, pentru ca nici unul dintre noi nu avem nici macar cea mai mica idee de  ceea ce inseamna a fi in afara timpului.” Sau, Crestinismul spune ca Tatal, sau Fiul si Duhul Sfant sunt trei, dar ei sunt una. Si de la aceste declaratii, urmeaza multe lucruri minunate. Si totusi, se pare ca aceasta este un fel de a zice ca: ,,Noi nu stim ce inseamna aceasta , pentru ca nu avem nici o idee ce inseamna sa fi trei si sa fi una, si cum un Dumnezeu asa de puternic si de extraordinar ca si, sa zicem Dumnezeul lui Iov, poate sa apara sub o forma de om si sa fie Duhul Sfant.” Deci punctul meu de vedere este acesta, si cred ca aceasta poate fi un punct forte sau o slabiciune, dar se pare ca multe dintre aceste intrebari dificile sunt explicate numai prin mistere – care este un cuvant Crestin, si ar fi un fel de a spune ca ,,Noi nu stim.”

RASPUNS:

Imi place mult, in special acest lucru, si ma gandesc la asta foarte mult pentru ca este absolut evident ca inlocuind un mister cu un altul nu este intotdeauna un mod util spre  inainte. Haideti sa despachetam aceasta deoarece aici sunt 3 sau 4 intrebari. Sa ne ducem la prima intrebare care pe mine m-a interesat deoarece  in ultimul timp s-a pus un accent mare asupra acestui subiect. Atat in Nord America cat si in Europa toata lumea vorbeste despre aceasta. Eu credeam ca am lasat-o in urma cand am fost in Rusia. Si intrebarea este aceasta:

Cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu?

Dawkins (un lider al ateilor) a folosit-o ca idea centrala a cartii sale ,,Amagirea despre Dumnezeu”. Am fost stupefiat cand am gasit-o acolo. Primeam aceasta intrebare tot timpul  cand mergeam la academiile de stiinta, in timpul calatoriilor mele prin Rusia la sfirsitul anilor 1980 pana pe la inceputul anilor 1990. Era aproape de fiecare data prima intrebare. Daca  crezi ca Dumnezeu a creat universul atunci este logic ca sa pui aceasta intrebare: Cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu? Si apoi cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeul pe care l-a creat Dumnezeu… si tot asa pana la infinit. Si acesta a fost sfarsitul lui Dumnezeu, desigur. Si aceasta este exact ceea ce spune Dawkins in cartea sa ,,Amagirea despre Dumnezeu.” Haideti sa o analizam putin. (Transcriptul continua sub acest video in Limba Engleza…)

VIDEO by VeritasForum website www.veritas.org (ENGLEZA)

Cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu? Daca pui aceasta intrebare, arata ca l-ai caracterizat pe Dumnezeu ca fiind creat. Deci tu vorbesti despre un dumnezeu creat. Acum, poti sa-ti imaginezi daca Richard Dawkins ar fi scris o carte numita ,,Amagirea despre un dumnezeu creat”? Eu nu cred ca multi oameni ar cumpara aceasta carte, pentru ca nu am nevoie ca el sa-mi spuna ca dumnezeii creati sunt o dezamagire (sau o iluzie). Apropo, noi de obicei pe acestia ii numim idoli.

Aceasta intrebare este extrem de importanta, deoarece este o ilustrare a unei intrebari care exclude explicatia care este mai mult ca sigur sa fie adevarata deoarece Crestinismul sustine ca Dumnezeu nu a fost creat. Si la fel daca Dumnezeu a fost necreat. ,,La inceput a fost Cuvantul…” si acum ma duc la intrebarea care a fost de fapt trei intr-una la care iti raspund  intr-un mod indirect. ,,La inceput a fost Cuvantul, Cuvantul a fost cu Dumnezeu, si Cuvantul a fost Dumnezeu.” El deja a fost. Deci, afirmatia principala a Crestinismului este, si la fel si in Iudaism si Islam, desigur, sustin la fel ca Dumnezeu este etern. Asadar, intrebarea prin definitie, nici nu se poate aplica Lui. Si aceasta este imens de important. Singurul lucru care-l poti scoate de aici deci, este intr-un sens negativ adica sa presupui ca totul face parte din categoria de a fi creat. Dar aceasta face numai ca sa implore intrebarea originala. Si grecii au fost interesati de ea, si de aceea Evanghelia dupa Ioan incepe cu aceste cuvinte ,,La inceput, Cuvantul deja a fost.” Si apoi ne spune ca toate lucrurile au fost facute prin El.

Grecii au fost interesati de aceasta intrebare ca fiind de doua categorii. Lucrurile care au ajuns sa fie – lucrurile create, si lucrurile care deja erau. Si intrebarea isi gaseste rezolvarea astfel: exista un lucru, sau o fiinta (faptura) care nu a fost creata si totusi sa existe? Si aceasta sustine Crestinismul. Si acesta se numeste DUMNEZEU. Eu si Richard Dawson am avut o dezbatere chiar pe acest subiect odata la Oxford, si i-am zis: ,,Richard, tu zici ca cine l-a creat pe Dumnezeu este o intrebare legitima. Eu nu cred ca este legitimata. Dar haide sa pretindem ca este legitimata. Tu crezi ca pe tine te-a creat universul. Lasa-ma acum te rog, ca sa te intreb pe tine intrebarea ta: ,,Cine l-a creat pe creatorul tau?” Inca si astazi astept un raspuns de la el. Acesta este primul punct.

ACUM DESPRE TRINITATE: Foarte pe scurt sa vorbim despre al doilea punct. Dumnezeu este trei intr-unul. Este acesta un mister? Da, desigur ca este. Am vorbit la peste 1 000  de oameni de stiinta. Un om a venit dupa ce s-a terminat la mine, un fizician, si mi-a zis: ,,A fost foarte interesant, toata aceasta discutie despre Dumnezeu. Dar, sa sti ca am dedus de aici ca esti crestin.” I-am raspuns: ,,Esti foarte istet.” El mi-a raspuns: ,,Hai, mai lasa! Ca si Crestin, tu esti obligat sa crezi ca Dumnezeu este o triunitate. Ca Isus a fost Dumnezeu si om.” Si apoi a mai zis: ,,Tu esti un matematician. Aceasta este absurd. Poti sa-mi explici si mie cum se poate asta?”

,,Bine,  i-am raspuns, pot sa-ti pun eu o intrebare mai intai?” El mi-a raspuns: ,,Desigur.” Asa ca am spus: ,,Spune-mi, ce este constiinta?” El a stat si s-a gandit cateva momente si a zis: ,,Nu stiu.” I-am raspuns: ,,Este in regula, hai sa te intreb ceva mai usor. Ce este energia?”  ,,Ei bine, a raspuns el, eu sunt fizician, pot sa masor energia, si pot sa o folosesc.” Sti ceva, i-am raspuns eu, nu aceasta a fost intrebarea mea! Intrebarea mea a fost, ce este energia?” El a raspuns atunci: ,,Nu stiu.” ,,Ah, i-am raspuns, foarte interesant. Nu sti. Spune-mi dar, tu crezi in constiinta?” ,,Da”, mi-a raspuns el. ,,Crezi in energie?” ,,Da”, a raspuns el. ,, Deci tu crezi in aceste doua lucruri dar nu sti ce ele sunt. Va trebui sa nu te  mai consider un intelectual? Sa te sterg de pe acea lista?” ,,Te rog sa nu faci asta”-a spus el.  Eu i-am raspuns: ,,Aceasta este exact ceea ce tu ai vrut sa faci cu mine cu cinci minute in urma.” I-am zis: ,, Daca tu nu sti ce este energia, nimeni nu stie, si daca nu crezi lucrul acesta atunci citeste ce scrie Richard Fineman. Daca nu sti ce este energia, sa nu fi surprins atunci daca energia, lumina, gravitatia si constiinta sunt un mister.Nu fi surprins daca vei gasi un astfel de element in Dumnezeu. Si cu siguranta ca-l vei gasi.”

Dar, l-am impins putin mai departe. Si i-am zis: ,, De ce crezi in aceste lucruri daca nu sti ce ele sunt?” Aceasta a fost putin dificil pentru el, si am incercat sa-l ajut. I-am zis: ,,Tu crezi in aceste lucruri datorita conceptului lor explicativ de puteri.” Si el mi-a raspuns: ,,Este exact asa cum spui.” I-am raspuns: ,,Uite, desigur ca eu nu pot sa-ti explic cum Dumnezeu a devenit om. Dar, singura explicatie care are sens este evidenta asa cum o vad. Am o analogie simpla care te-ar putea ajuta. Este o analogie de nivel scazut, dar cel putin este biblica. Eu sunt casatorit. Sunt casatorit de 42 de ani si jumatate cu aceiasi persoana. Si eu si sotia mea suntem intr-un fel una. Noi suntem doua persoane intr-un singur trup, Biblia spune ca intr-o unitate comuna. Si mie mi se pare ca in cazul cel mai mic (sa nu ma intelegi gresit cand spun asta) acest mister ne spune ceva nemaipomenit despre Dumnezeu. Dumnezeu nu este monolit, care fiind spus intr-un mod grosolan a fost un singuratic, asa ca El a facut cativa oameni, ca El sa aiba pe cineva cu care sa poata vorbi. Dumnezeu este El insusi o partasie.” Aceasta este nedimensionabil, ceva ce nu putem cuprinde, dar are sens, si eu simt ca este ceva de felul acesta.

Aici gasiti intregul video. Descriere: (In Limba Engleza)

Copiii cred in basme cu zane pana ce capacitatea lor de rationament se maturizeaza si ajung sa priceapa ca acesta incredintare nu are nici o temelie pe care sa te bazezi si nici o justificare. Oare credinta in Isus Christos necesita o suspendare de logica? Poate Crestinismul fi dovedit ca este adevarat? Profesorul de lege de la UCLA, Daniel Lowenstein acorda un interviu matematicianului de la Oxford, John Lennox cu intrebari sincere despre Crestinism si motivele de credinta. Dupa acest interviu urmeaza intrebari si raspunsuri din partea audientei.(In Limba Engleza)

John Lennox intreaga lectura din 2011

(oficial) Crestinismul si Basmele (ENGLEZA)

[official] Christianity and the Tooth Fairy

In Awe of God’s Creation – Night Sky Time Lapse – Cerul Seara/Noaptea

Creaţia lui Michael Shainblume este, de fapt, o colecţie e imagini ce surprind cerul noaptea şi secvenţe urbane unice.

The night sky in an urban setting by Michael Shainblume.

In Awe of God’s Creation – Mt. Everest Time Lapse Video – Din varful lui Everest – Coplesit de Creatia lui Dumnezeu

Source: Slate:

Breath-taking! [Haha!] I live at an elevation of 1700 meters, and I’ve been up as high as 3700, where the air is thin enough (about 2/3 pressure as at sea level) that just moving around for some people is difficult. Photographer Elia Saikaly went up to 8000 meters to shoot that video, staying awake into the night while other, more sane climbers, were sleeping. At that height, air pressure is a mere one-third what it is at sea level, and climbers, not surprisingly, call it the “death zone”.

Read Saikaly’s account of his travels to scale Everest. It’s harrowing, and amazing, and wonderful. Climbing such mountains is incredibly dangerous, and some people undertake it foolishly. But the ones who prepare, study, practice, and understand what they are doing: I salute them. The spirit it takes to explore is an astonishing thing, and I’m glad so many possess it.

ROMANIAN: Fotograful a mărturisit că nu i-a fost tocmai uşor să surprindă în sute de imagini magia mamei naturi de la o altitudine de 8000 de metri. „A fost absurd de greu să realizez aceste fotografii. Să nu dormi şi să urci pe Everest este o combinaţie periculoasă”, recunoaşte Saikaly. (Descopera.ro)

Supreme Court Cases on Same-Sex Marriage: Where the Church Goes from Here [Part 1 - Supreme Court Rulings]

photo via www.forbes.com

From Dallas Theological Seminary:

Mark Bailey, Darrell Bock, Judge Rollin Van Broekhoven – Published on Jul 1, 2013

Honorable Retired Federal Judge Rollin Van Broekhoven, Dr. Mark Bailey and Dr. Darrell Bock discuss in detail the Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8, as well as what the current cultural shift means for how the church should approach its mission.
source – http://www.dts.edu/thetable/play/supr…

2:28Legal summary of the two Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage
3:43 The arguments for dissent in the cases
5:35 What was decided in the DOMA case, the majority argument, and preliminary observations about how decisions are presented to the public
8:07 How decisions get written and what they look to accomplish
8:58 What is the difference between what we hear in the press and what the Court decided? Kennedy’s opinion, the Prop 8 argument, and the Prop 8 dissent
12:26 How does jurisdiction work in normal decisions?
13:12 A closer look at the DOMA case: what was the actual decision?
16:20 Background to DOMA and the facts of this specific case
21:04 Federal vs. state law: if one state recognizes a same sex marriage, does that apply to all states?
22:42 Is the lack of a legal mandate in this case the same as a philosophical influence on culture?
23:38 Summary of the DOMA decision and its potential implications
24:23 The Scalia dissent
26:47 Does the law handle certain kinds of moral situations poorly, especially where a moral consensus is lacking? How the same sex argument is made in the Kennedy opinion
30:23 How the definition of marriage is handled in the decision
31:07 Explaining the cultural shift that created the space for this decision
32:20 The judge’s reflection on what is happening in the law in our shifting culture and when there is no public moral consensus
34:22 How Kennedy handles dissent to his view
34:57 What is the response of churches and believers in light of these realities in our culture? How do Christians engage people who may not accept theological argumentation?
39:50 The importance of winning both the heart and the mind to the gospel, to think and teach Christianly about marriage
41:06 How the homosexual community has successfully made their argument to the public and culture
42:43 Example of how this can be discussed and what the church has failed to do
44:55 One look at how our culture handled this discussion recently: Jason Collins versus Chris Broussard
46:08 What Catholics teach us about the mind, the concept of the Common Good, how we talk about marriage today, and what we should say about marriage
47:54 Discussing the value of Common Good
49:28 Opportunities to present a biblical case for marriage
50:32 Is something true because it is in the Bible or is it in the Bible because it is true? What is the point of this difference?
51:54 How a Christian living in a country where Christians are in the minority looks at this kind of engagement: lessons from John Dickson in Australia
55:15 A look at the first century: Mars Hill in Acts 17
58:31 Judge Van Broekhoven on Acts 17
1:01:15 Those who respond in Acts 17
1:02:35 How we discuss the need for God
1:03:45
Why marriage is important; the God-Christ picture as a mirror on marriage
1:05:18
An opportunity for pre-evangelism

What is God’s Relationship to Metaphysical Time?

photo via xemanuelachristinex.blogspot.com

One of the thought provoking questions we all have concerning God and time-
What is God’s relationship to metaphysical time? Dr William Lane Craig answers this question after his lecture entitled, “What is God’s Relationship to Time?” This was a lecture given by Dr Craig in the mid-90s that explores that very question.

Dr. William Lane Craig:

English: This photo was taken by my wife durin...

Newton believed both time and space were infinite. And I don’t accept that. I think that time and space are finite. And so, the places where I would take issue with Newton is: Why do we think that God’s existence would require the existence of an endless or a beginning of time? And it seems to me that there’s no need for that. If you have some sort of a relational view of time, according to which, in the total absence of events there is no time, then, if God exists changelessly, without creation, alone, by himself, then God existing in such a state would be timeless. I don’t see any reason to think that in the total absence of change, that there would be the lapse of time.

And on my own understanding I would say that God alone, without creation, without the universe, existing by Himself, exists timelessly. And that with the occurrence of the first event, which is the moment of creation, God enters into time and sustains temporal relationships with creatures. Now, when that beginning of time occurred no one really knows. It’s convenient to say ‘at the big bang’, because that’s when physical time & space began. But, theoretically He could have been making these angelic realms prior to the moment of the big bang. I don’t know, but my own conviction would be that God enters into the first moment of time at the first event and is thereafter temporal. VIDEO by ReasonableFaithOrg Photo of Dr. Craig via Dr. Craig.

Short clip (see full lecture in second video)

FULL LECTURE – God’s Relationship to Time

Why should Christians fight against abortion if we don’t think it will be banned?

photo via www.guardian.co.uk

John Piper:

The reason we stand against the killing of babies is not because victory in a fallen world is likely. We fight because the nature of the sin is so public, and so egregious, and so contradictory to what enables a society to flourish, and so offensive to God, and so contrary to the spirit and precepts of the Bible, and so driven by motives that reveal unbelief in the word of God, that it would be a sin not to stand up and resist, in whatever way the Lord leads.

Read the article in its entirety here- http://www.desiringgod.org

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