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Sometimes Rape and Murder Are Good Right?

Imagine a little child at recess who is playing ball with her friends.  Quickly, a boy runs over to them and takes away their ball.  

Upset by their misfortune the little girls run over to the monitor and cry out, “He took our ball!  Thats not fair!”  

The monitor witnessing the incident simply replies to them, “Don’t be upset little ones, the boy thought it was right to take your ball and so it is okay.  Go ahead and play somewhere else”?   

Was the monitor correct in her judgement to say that the little boy was perfectly fine to take their ball?  I think most of us would say probably not.  But why?

Every conscience person is born with a sense of right and wrong, good and bad – even if they do not follow them and/or are unaware of where they come from.  This can be demonstrated in real life scenarios like above; where children are wronged on the preschool playground everyday despite being very young in age and knowledge.

Please consider the following scenarios in order to further illustrate this point.   


Scenario 1

The country of Gambia in West Africa hosts a population of approximately 10 million people. Gambia differs in their perspective of customs and belief and some are controversial. Probably the most controversial practiced custom in Gambia involves the mandatory mutilation of the female genitals. Have you ever heard of this? Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization  as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” {1}

FGM is considered by its practitioners to be an essential part of raising a girl properly—girls are regarded as having been cleansed by the removal of “male” body parts. It ensures pre-marital virginity and inhibits extra-marital sex, because it reduces women’s libido. Women fear the pain of re-opening the vagina, and are afraid of being discovered if it is opened illicitly. {1}

Considering this as a reality in the world, would you say that it is okay to mutilate the genitals of little girls and women against their will?

Scenario 2

The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the German community. As part of their “final solution” to get rid of this inferior Jewish race, the Nazi’s exterminated approximately 6 million Jewish people along with other classes of peopled deemed unfit for the “New Germany”. This was a real event that happened in this century by, at the time, one of the most educated countries in the entire world.

Were those in power justified in the “cleansing” of an inferior race?

Scenario 3

A pack of lions are roaming the desert in search of a day time snack. Eventually the pack comes across a group of unsuspecting Zebras grazing in an open field.  Licking their lips, the lions wait patiently for the correct time to make a move. Soon enough a lioness springs from the grass and begins its run toward a zebra. Scared for its life the zebra runs away and the chase begins between prey and predator. As is the case in the animal kingdom, the lioness eventually catches up with the zebra, kills it and the snack begins.

Now do you think it is wrong that the lion kills the zebra? 

Scenario 4

One day an elderly lady finds herself at a crosswalk in a busy part of the city. She has a few grocery bags and cannot seem to cross the road easily because she needs the use of her walker to do so. A young passerby notices the woman and her struggles and wonders what he should do.

Do you think it would be good for him to go and help her cross the street? 

Okay so now you may be wondering why I had you take the time to read and answer the above four scenarios.  The reason is because each of them call upon the need for you to reflect upon them from a moral perspective.  This is important because many times in life we are faced with decisions on how to act or how not to act.  The question is, however, is it up to me to decide what is right or wrong?  Or are some things in fact right and wrong?  This contrasting view point is known as the difference between subjective and objective moral values.  Lets define the two so that we know the difference between them more clearly.

Subjective morality, are statements of moral values and duties that are found within the physical framework of moral agents (human beings). In this way, they are dependent on what a human person (or persons) thinks or believes.

  • A morally subjective statement about a situation may be, “I felt it was right. I know it was right. Therefore, it is right.  And just because it is bad for you does not mean it is bad for me.” Subjective morality also exists in group, or cultural mentality as is the case with the Nazi party where they thought it was right to do what they did.

Objective morality, on the other hand, are statements of moral values and duties that are found outside, or transcend, the moral agents. In this way, they are independent of what human persons think or believe.

  • An objective statement may go something like this, “Murder, rape, and torture are evil regardless of who believes that they are good. Furthermore love, self sacrifice, and kindness are really good regardless of who believes the opposite.”    

I read once of an ethics professor who illustrated the difference between subjective and objective morality finely to his students on the first day of class. The professor would walk in to a packed stadium seated hall and ask this question, “By show of hands, who believes in subjective morality?” Most often more than half of the class would raise their hands.

The next thing the professor said was, “Well in that case this is how the grading for my class will go. If you are shorter than 5’8” you get an A. Unfortunately, however, if you are taller than 5’8” you get an F.” Right away a good number of the students understood the wise professor’s point. That if they really do believe in subjective morality, than it is up to the person (or persons) in power to decide what it right or wrong, even if they disagree with them.

Is morality subjective in this way?

Sure some things in life are subjective in nature like beauty, taste, the arts, etc… But are moral values and duties subjective? Well lets suppose Hitler accomplished his dreams and brainwashed every person in the world to think that murdering people as he did was good. Would it have been good? No and absolutely no. Murder, and especially genocide, is wrong! Most people do not need to be told this.

What about in the animal kingdom scenario? Are animals moral agents?

Cornell University Law School defines murder, “Murder occurs when one human being unlawfully kills another human being.”{2} The question would then be: When a lion attacks and eats a zebra, does it murder the zebra? Or does the lion kill the zebra? If it murders the zebra, than why do we not have a system of law prosecuting predator lions for killing zebras?

Ethicist Richard Taylor reflects:

“Such actions, though injurious to their victims, are no more unjust or immoral than they would be if done by one animal to another. A hawk that seizes a fish from the sea kills it, but does not murder it; and another hawk that seizes the fish from the talons of the first takes it, but does not steal it – for none of these things is forbidden.” {3}

This lack of morality can also be seen in the plant kingdom.

It is clear that forced copulation occurs in a wide variety of species. It has even been suggested that some plants engage in forceful mating–the male plant tries anything possible to get its pollen around females’ barriers…” {4} This may seem like an awkward question but does this mean that plants rape each other?  Probably not.

Our sense of morality is real and is unique from all of the animal and plant kingdoms of the world and deep down every person knows this.  However, It is how we come to know these moral truths that separate us.  For example:

One day a person says to another confidently that he believes the Sun goes around the earth while the other person believes that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In this case, because of the advancements in knowledge, we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. This means that those who believe otherwise, however sincerely and sure they may be, are in fact mistaken.

In this case coming to “know” that the earth revolves around the Sun is a matter of discovering truth. Not inventing it.

Similarly objective Truths (like moral Truths) exist in reality, objectivley – even if we fail to discern them.  

If you agree that there are objective moral values and duties than where do they come from? What is their foundation?  In ethics, the question pertaining to this ontological foundation for moral values and duties is an open one.  Why?  Because on atheism, moral values cannot truly be objective if grounded somehow in nature.  What about on theism?  God has already given us his answer.

“So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

I believe that God, as the epitome and loci of moral goodness and love, is the best explanation for the foundations of morality. This coincides with the belief that a person does not have to believe in God to be moral. For example there are many atheist persons in the world who do not believe in God and are genuinely nice and moral people. However, if the Bible is true, this fact fits right in line with reality. Why? Because God created both the theist (believers) and atheist (unbelievers) and therefore his moral law would be written on all of our hearts. God is not biased.  The apostle Paul recognized this when writing about those who perish apart from God’s Law,

…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts.” – Romans 2:15

Hebrews 10:6 also says,

 I will put my laws in their hearts, 
   and I will write them on their minds.”

Without God, where could this moral foundation we experience be founded?

Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins explains,

“There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” {5}

Why would Richard Dawkins say such a thing? Because he is right! On a naturalistic view of the world, we are just social bi-products of evolution by natural selection.  We live here for a short time and die like the rest of humanity. There is no such thing as morality but rather it is an illusion much like free will.

Michael Ruse, an agnostic philosopher of science, adds:

“The position of the modern evolutionist is that morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” {6}

But why on a naturalistic worldview is it impossible to view morality in an objective way?  The short answer would be that on a naturalistic view, nothing can exist apart from nature.  Everything must be physically reducible and nothing can exist apart from the natural & physical world.  This includes an objective God, moral values, etc… 

I may go into this more deeply in another post but I hope that you have begun to see:

First, that objective moral values and duties do exist in reality

Second, that without God, objective moral values and duties could not exist

Third, God must then exist because objective moral values exist.


{1} Female genital mutilation”, World Health Organization, February 2010.

{2} http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/murder

{3} Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), 14

{4} Understanding individual differences in male propensity for sexual aggression.(pp. 31-58)Washington, DC, US: American Psychological AssociationLalumière, Martin L. Harris, Grant T. Quinsey, Vernon L. Rice, Marnie E. , (2005). vii, 294 pp.

{5} “there is at bottom no good….Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” published in Scientific American (November, 1995), p. 85

{6} Michael Ruse quote…love thy neightboer….“Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in “The Darwinian Paradigm,” London, Routledge, 1989, pp. 262-269).


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Christian Pastor in Iran Update 2/12

I have been following this story for 8 months and it seems like it made another turn.  Pastor Youcef has yet agreed to recant his faith in Jesus and has been issued a death sentence.  

Fox News reports the story Here

It begins with,”A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.” 

“Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.”

It is both an honorable and biblical thing that pastor Youcef is doing in the name of our savior Jesus.  

Jesus said, “…. but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt: 16:25)

Please continue to pray for pastor Youcef and his family.  Jesus Christ be with them.


Origins of Life – Was Your Science Teacher Wrong?!?

I have always found intriguing the question: How did life begin to exist on earth?  As a child I thought like most children and answered questions simply and without much thought or investigation.  I thought that with God, all things are possible and life could easily be created by Him.  It did not bother me to think this way because I was taught, as other Christians are, that life arose when God spoke it into existence.  That, “In the beginning”…God created everything on earth.  However as I progressed in school it became increasingly more difficult to accept the origin of life as an act of God because of what I was learning in my science textbooks.  Instead of God creating life, I was being taught that life arose naturally through chemical processes.  That on the very early earth existed a sea of chemicals and gases and after a period of time these chemicals combined via lightning and presto! We have the first life.

Charles Darwin himself speculated about this when he said in 1871 that in a “warm little pond of chemicals sunlight might have brought about the reactions necessary to produce the first living thing.”1  From then on, evolution by natural selection took over and all the life forms on earth developed slowly.

Could this be true I thought? Was God the creator of all life like it states in the Bible?  Or is the real explanation of how life arose due to chemicals and random chance like my textbook read?  The theological implications of a random chance origin of life is damaging to the faith and worth noting.

For instance, I have talked to many students and read papers from other Christians scientists that admit that the findings in science pertaining to the origin of life and subsequent evolution lead them far away from their faith.  They thought that since God did not create life, than God must be out of a job.

Scholar Patrick Glynn described his path to atheism this way,

I embraced skepticism at an early age, when I first learned of Darwin’s theory of evolution in, of all places, Catholic grade school.  It immediately occurred to me that either Darwin’s theory was true or the creation story in the book of Genesis was true.  They could not both be true, and I stood up in class and told the poor nun as much.  Thus began a long odyssey away from the devout religious belief and practice that had marked my childhood toward an increasingly secular and rationalistic outlook.”2

I would agree with Glynn’s statement to an extent.  That if the Bible teaches us that God created life and we find the opposite, I would find it difficult to trust the Bible with other events.  In other words, if we discover a naturalistic explanation for the origins of life that does not involve the creative powers of a divine being, than why does the Bible say that God is our Creator?

In this post I will discuss briefly one reason why I maintain my belief that there is no naturalistic or scientific explanation of the origins of life despite what I learned in school.  I encourage all Christian parents to discuss this with their children BEFORE they learn it in school so that they may have their minds and hearts prepared when challenged.

As Solomon the wise king wrote for us in Ecclesiastes 12:1,

“Remember your Creator

in the days of your youth,

before the days of trouble come…”

BIOLOGY 101 – Quick overview of Life vs. Non-Life

First we should discuss what differentiates a non-living thing (or inorganic matter) from a living thing (or organic matter)?

Biologically, living systems distinguish themselves from nonliving things by:

processing energy, storing information and replicating.

These are very complex operations that are required for an organism to be able to eat, move, reproduce, and survive through generations.  However, before a living organism can perform these complex operations, a certain level of chemical complexity must be present.

Chemically speaking we are taught, like many students in organic chemistry, that all life forms on this planet contain the element Carbon.  Carbon plays a key role in life because it links together other elements (like Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen) to form large and complex molecules called organic compounds.

Some examples of these complex organic compounds found in living systems are carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.  These 4 compounds are absolutely essential in the formation and maintenance of life forms on Earth.

How did non-life become life?

Now we know some of the essential elements that are needed for the formation of life but how did it come together to become life?

I was taught in high school and college that the primitive Earth was covered with pools of chemicals and had an atmosphere that was conducive to the formation of life.  With energy supplied by lighting, chemicals in this “primordial soup” over a period of billions of years linked together and simple life forms emerged.  From there, evolution took over.

But what evidence do scientists have to back up this claim?

Here is where I would like to talk about the famous experiment that was conducted by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in 1952.  This experiment, known as the Harold-Urey experiment, attempted to prove that with the right conditions and enough time, non-life could produce life.  How?

Miller took gases which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth’s atmosphere and put them into a closed system pictured below.

First Miller combined the gases methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O) in the glass bulb.

Next he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth.

Lastly he collected the water droplets and ran an analysis of the experiment by a process  of chromatography.

Results:  At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. 2% of the carbon had formed some of the amino acids which are used to make proteins. Perhaps most importantly, Miller’s experiment showed that organic compounds such as amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made easily under the conditions that scientists believed to be present on the early earth.3

Chemist William Day said, “the experiment showed that this first step in the creation of life was not a chance event, but it was inevitable.” 4

Astronomer Harlow Sharpley said Miller had proven that “the appearance of life is essentially an automatic biochemical development that comes along naturally when physical conditions are right.” 5

It seems as if this were an open and shut case to the origins of life.  But is it really?

In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,

until someone comes forward and cross-examines. – Proverbs 18:17

In our culture, only one side is given the opportunity to speak in public schools.  Hence, everyone thinks that experiments like the one above are compelling.  But once the cross examination begins, the story begins to look a little different.  Now begins the cross examination….

Stanley Miller has been quoted saying of his own work on the origins of life that,

The problem of the origin of life has become much more difficult that I, and most other people, envisioned.” 6

Problems With the Miller-Urey Experiments

1)  The experiment used the WRONG gases

The Miller-Urey experiment attempted to simulate the early earth atmosphere by using the gases methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O).  The problem with this, however, is that there is a substantial and growing body of criticism that shows that these type of experiments fail to plausibly reproduce conditions on an early earth.   Senior research scientist at NASA wrote in a published article that, “In fact a consensus has developed since the late 1970’s that the early earth’s atmosphere never contained significant amounts of ammonia, carbon dioxide and water vapor.”7

For instance, methane was one of the gases Miller used and the only source of energy that was added was electricity to simulate lighting.  But what about the other energy sources present during that time like ultra violent radiation?  “Methane subjected to UV radiation would have been converted to higher-molecular weight hydrocarbons, forming an oil slick up to ten meters deep.” 8 There is just no way that life could naturally develop under such conditions.

2) No evidence for the primordial soup

Although scientists in their different fields debate what their thoughts are of an early earth, not one solid piece of evidence has ever been put fourth to conclude that there even was a “primordial soup”.  I think it is more proper to say that we just don’t know what the early earth looked like and continue our search instead of running with assumptions.  Especially when dealing with an issue that runs as deep as this one.

3) Life Was NOT Produced In the Miller-Urey Experiment

The third problem with this experiment is that life was not produced!  Amino acid were.  From what we know today about molecular genetics and the cell, the formation of a few amino acids is light years away from forming life.  Its not even in the same galaxy.  For example if I put forth a brick and said, “Look!! I now have everything I need to build the White House!”  You may think I am insane.  Why?  Because we all know that it takes much more than just one brick to make the White House.  It takes a blue print (like DNA), many intelligent minds, physical labor, and many many more bricks.  For instance, a typical single protein is made up of a chain of 445 left-handed amino acids and scientists estimate that 238 proteins would be the absolute minimum number that would be needed to form life.  By these numbers it would take one hundred and six thousand left-handed amino acids perfectly arranged to make a single cell.  Coppedge, in his book, Evolution: Possible or Impossible, makes several probability calculations concerning life coming about by chance. Giving evolution all kinds of concessions, he comes up with the probability for the first cell to evolve by accident as one chance in 10^29345. It would take an 80-page book just to print that number! In comparison, the number of inches across the known universe is 10^28.

     4) The Experiment Was Designed!

The last thing about this experiment that I would like to point out is that IT WAS DESIGNED!!  It not only took the presences of the various physical chemicals but the presence of an agent or mind that caused the experiment to occur.  Without the scientists, no experiment and no amino acids.  This hardly represents a blind random chance origin as predicted by some scientists.  In fact, if someone were to tell me in the future that scientists had made life in a lab and asked me if that shook my faith, I would probably respond by saying that the experiment proves my point and not theirs.  That it takes simple intelligence to create simple life and supreme intelligence to create all life as God did.

“For the foolishness of God

is wiser than man’s wisdom…”

1 Corinthians 1:25

We have seen thus far why Miller made the statement that, “the problem of the origin of life has become much more difficult that I, and most other people, envisioned.”

Others have also commented on the present state of origin of life research:

Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA wrote, “The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going.” 9

Klaus Dose, a prominent evolutionist, shares his disillusionment:

“More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.” 10

The late Robert Sharpio, skeptic and former professor emeritus at NYU, argues strongly that

“All current theories are bankrupt and that we need to find a new and more fruitful paradigm to guide our search for a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life.” 11

As we have seen in our brief discovery it is very clear that we are not as certain about the origins of life as our science textbooks lead us to believe.  This is only one example of how students can be easily mislead down a road of misinformation if we do not sit down and discuss these topics with them.  In doing so we may in fact re-affirm what we have always thought, that with God all things are made and sustained.  My question is, what other scientific discoveries or theories are our kids learning that as Sharpio put it, “are currently bankrupt”?

{1} F. Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (New York: Appleton, 1887), 2:202.

{2} Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence, 2-3

{3} http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/Exobiology/miller.html

{4} William Day, Genesis on Planet Earth (East Lansing, Mich.: House of Talos, 1979), 7.

{5} Quoted in: S. Tax ed., Evolution After Darwin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 1:57

{6} – J. Horgan, “In the Beginning…” Scientific American, February 1991.

{7} – Levine, Photochemistry of Atmospheres.

{8} – Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen, Mystery of Life’s Origin, p. 43.

{9} F. Crick, Life Itself (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981).

{10} Klaus Dose, “The Origin of Life: More Questions than Answers,” in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 1988, pp. 13,348.

{11} Sharpio, Origins

Jesus of Nazareth – Myth or Historical Figure?

Was Jesus just a myth or was he in fact a historical person in history?

As one skeptic wrote, “The majority of people in the world today assumes or believes that Jesus Christ was at the very least a real person. Perhaps he wasn’t really “the Messiah”, perhaps he was not “The Son of God”, and perhaps he didn’t actually perform miracles and rise from the dead, but he really was a great moral teacher who traveled around Galilee with followers and got arrested by the Jews and crucified by the Romans right?

Not likely.

In fact, a close examination of the evidence shows that the best explanation for the story of “Jesus Christ” is what we call “mythology”. The case that I will be outlining here is that there never was any “Jesus Christ” nor any meaningful real life basis for the story of “Jesus Christ”.” {1}

Are persons, like the one above, making the claim that Jesus never existed justified in their beliefs?  This post will look at some very strong and reliable extra-biblical evidence to the contrary.

1) Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD)

has been called the greatest historian on ancient Rome. He lived during the reign of several Roman emperors and was a Roman historian and a governor of Asia [Turkey] in AD 112. He wrote two major works: Annals and the Histories.

The following passage is a quote from the Annals: 

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.” – Annals 15.44

Examination of this passage – New Testament historian, F.F. Bruce is quoted saying, “Tacitus had to receive his information from some source and this may have been an official record. It may even have been contained in one of Pilate’s reports to the emperor, to which Tacitus would probably have had access because of his standing with the government.The term Christian is introduced and is still the name for those that follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  • Christus, or latin for Christ, is mentioned as the name for the origin of this most “mischievous superstition”.  Historians hold this as reliable source for reference to the historical Jesus.
  • Pilate is mentioned in this passage as being the one to decide Jesus’s fate on the cross.
    • “Christus suffered the extreme penalty at the hands of one of our procurators Pontius Pilate” 

What is a procurator? – Procurators were appointed to govern, with small troop detachments, certain lesser provinces. These procurators exercised both financial and judicial authority, even in capital cases, but were usually subject to the general authority of the governor of a major province in the region. {2}

  • Pilate is also mentioned in the Bible as being the one to decide Jesus’s fate.
    • John 18:28-31 –  Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor….So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
  • “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”
    • This may not be evidence for Jesus in particular but does collaborate much of what the early church fathers wrote about their trials and executions by roman officials.  Their writings state that most of them were either burned at the stake, hung on crosses, or thrown in an arena with beasts that would tear them apart.
      • “We do not give up our confession though we be executed by the sword, though we be crucified, thrown to wild beasts, put in chains, and exposed to fire and every other kind of torture. Everyone knows this. On the contrary, the more we are perse- cuted and martyred, the more do others in ever-increasing numbers become believers and God-fearing people through the name of Jesus” – Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 110.3, 4
      • It becomes evident that the entire crime with which they charge us does not consist in any wicked acts, but in the bearing of a name. The issue is not the name of a crime, but the crime of bearing a name. Again and again it is the name that must be punished by the sword, the gallows, the cross, or the wild beasts.”Tullian, To the Heathen I.3

2) Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (AD 61-113),

or Pliny the Younger, was the governor of Bithynia (AD 112) and a Roman senator. He wrote to emperor Trajan asking for guidance on how he should treat the Christians in his province.

The following passage is a quote from Epistles X96:

“Christians were meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do wicked deeds, never commit fraud, theft, adultery, not to lie nor to deny a trust. . . ” – Epistles X96

Examination of this passage –

  • Again the term “Christian” is written in this writing independent of any other.  This is the name given to those who follow Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ.
  • “The followers of Christ sang hymns to him as if he were a god.”
    • Christians sang hymns to Jesus 2000 years ago and still do today.  This is because we, the Church, have always viewed him as God manifest in the flesh.
      • “We have realized that the only homage truly worthy of him is not to consume by fire the things he created for our nourishment but rather to consecrate them to our use and to the use of those who need them and to thank him for these things by sending up homage to him with words of prayer and with hymns.”Justin, First Apology 13

3) Gaius Suetonius Tranquilla

was a Roman historian (AD 117-138) under Hadrian (AD 76-136). He was also the secretary of state and authored a book entitled Life of Claudius.

The following passage is a quote from Life of Claudius

Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city [Rome]. – Life of Claudius 25.4

Examination of this passage –

  • Suetonius describes Jews who caused disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus.  Who else could this be but the same Jesus Christ who was independently written about by other Roman historians?
  • Acts 18:2 reads, “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them.
    • This verse in Acts collaborates Suetonius’s account of Claudius expelling Christians, those who follow Jesus, from Rome.

All three of the writers we have discussed so far were not Christians.  They were Roman Officials!  They had no socio-religious obligation to write about Jesus because they did not follow him.  In fact, they worked for the same government who executed Jesus and his followers.  Their intention  for writing was not to promote Jesus or his followers but to write history as they viewed it.  Because of their objective viewpoint and authenticity as historical documents, even skeptic historians agree that they serve as strong extra-biblical sources pertaining to Jesus as a person of history.  It is not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact – Contrary to my skeptical friend’s opinion.  Below are a list of just a few of the vast majority of scholars who would agree with this conclusion.

Scholarly Accounts of Jesus’s Life as Reality – not fiction

“Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus strands as the founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct state is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.” Bultmann (1958) 13

“To doubt the historical existence of Jesus at all…was reserved for an unrestrained, tendentious criticism of modern times into which it is not worth while to enter here.” Bornkamm (1960)

I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the theory [“The Jesus never lived, that he was purely mythical figure”] is historically untenable.” Marxsen (1970) 119

“To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory.” It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.’ In recent yeas ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus’ – or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in diposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” Grant (1977) 200

“Wells thesis [the Jesus never existed] is controversial and not widely accepted.” – M. Martin (1991) 67

“Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed their [ i.e., Jesus mythers] arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely.” – Van Vorrst (2000) 16

“There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that anymore.” Burridge and Gould (2004) 34

“The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence.” – Maier (2005) 1

“No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the goverener of Judea and Samaria.” – C.A. Evans in Evans and Wright (2009) 3

Peace and Love

{1} – http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm#8

{2} – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/477852/procurator

The Universe Began to Exist

“Ex nihilo”

From the beginning of time men have turned their eyes toward the heavens and wondered why it exists. According to Aristotle, “it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and the stars, and about the origin of the universe.”{1} 2,300 years later, philosophers and cosmologists are still seeking to answer this most fundamental question of existence. Derek Parfit, a contemporary philosopher, says “No question is more sublime than why there is a Universe: why there is anything rather than nothing.”{2}

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Why do you exist? Why does the Universe exist? Or why does anything at all exist and instead of just…nothing? For many years, scientists held that the Universe was static, or eternal. That it just existed as if a brute fact of reality. As Bertrand Russell put it in his BBC radio debate with Frederick Copleston, “The universe is just there, and that’s all.”{3}

This view of cosmic origins persisted unchanged until 1917, the year in which Albert Einstein made a cosmological application of his newly discovered General Theory of Relativity. {4} By doing this, Einstein assumed that the Universe existed in a steady state with a constant mean mass density and a constant curvature of space. To his amazement, he found that the General Theory of Relativity would not permit a static model of the universe unless he entered certain “static universe supporting” figures in order to counter balance the gravitational effect of matter. By taking this feature of Einstein’s model seriously, cosmologist Alexander Friedman and astronomer Georges Lemaitre were able to formulate independently in the 1920s solutions to the field equations which predicted an expanding universe. {5} One commentator remarked, “up to this time the idea of the expansion of the universe was absolutely beyond comprehension. Throughout all of human history the universe was regarded as fixed and immutable and the idea that it might actually be changing was inconceivable.”{6}

It was in 1929 when Edwin Hubble’s measurements of the red-shift in the optical spectra of light from distant galaxies provided a dramatic verification of the Friedman-Lemaitre model of an expanding Universe. Hubble’s discovery marked a turning point in the history of science. “Of all the great predictions that science has ever made over the centuries,” exclaims theoretical physicist John Wheeler, “was there ever one greater than this, to predict, and predict correctly, and predict against all expectation a phenomenon so fantastic as the expansion of the universe?”{7} As a GTR-based theory, the Friedman-Lemaitre model has the shocking implication that as one reverses the expansion of the Universe back in time, space-time curvature becomes progressively greater until one finally arrives at a singular state at which space-time curvature becomes infinite. This state therefore constitutes an edge or boundary to space-time itself. {8} English physicist P. C. W. Davies states, “An initial cosmological singularity . . . forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of space-time, through such an extremity. . . . On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of space- time itself.” {9}

In God and the Astronomers, one time leading NASA astrophysicist Dr. Rober Jastrow also describes the astronomical discoveries of recent years and the theological implications of the new insights afforded by science into mankind’s place in the cosmos. He explains that although he is undecided if God exists; “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.” {10}

In spite of these remarkable discoveries in cosmology and astrophysics, the idea of a universe with a beginning made some in the science community uncomfortable. Theorists with the intent of avoiding this absolute beginning of the universe would take refuge in a period of time right after the Big Bang known as Planck time. Planck time is the time, 10^-43 seconds, after the Big Bang in which all of the four fundamental forces are presumed to have been unified into one force. All matter, energy, space and time are presumed to have exploded outward from the original singularity. Nothing is known of this period. {11} However, in 2003, scientists Arvind Borde, Alexander Vilenkin, and Alan Guth were able to demonstrate a theorem which proved that any universe which has on average been globally expanding at a positive rate has a past boundary and therefore cannot be infinite in the past. Whats remarkable is that this evidence not only supports a past temporal singularity event in universes that are expanding like ours – but it does so regardless of what occurred in Plank time. This theorem also applies equally to other models of the universe such as inflationary theories of the multiverse and to higher dimensional cosmologies based on string theory. {12} Vilenkin said in regards to this discovery, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” {13}

Dr. Jastrow, despite his agnosticism, also held an opinion of where the evidence has led. He ended his book this way: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” {14}

Although it would be impossible to discuss every piece of evidence for the Big Bang, or singularity event in this post, there seems to be a large consensus among science academia as to the origins of the universe – that it began to exist. Therefore, unless or until new discoveries are made that disprove the singular event of creation of literally everything from nothing, we must conclude that science is pointing towards what biblical theologians have claimed for centuries; that this universe was created Ex nihilo – “from nothing”.

{1} – Metaphysics A. 2. 982b10-15

{2} – Derek Parfit, “Why Anything? Why This?” London Review of Books 20/2 (January 22, 1998), p.24

{3} – Bertrand Russell and F. C. Copleston, “The Existence of God,” in The Existence of God, ed. with an Introduction by John Hick, Problems of Philosophy Series (New York: Macmillan, 1964), p. 175

{4} – A. Einstein, “Cosmological Considerations on the General Theory of Relativity,” in The Principle of relativity, by A. Einstein, et. al., with Notes by A. Sommerfeld, trans. W. Perrett and J. B. Jefferey (rep. ed.: New York: Dover Publications, 1952), pp. 177-88

{5} – A. Friedman, “Über die Krümmung des Raumes,” Zeitschrift für Physik 10 (1922): 377-86; G. Lemaitre, “Un univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant, rendant compte de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques,” Annales de la Société scientifique de Bruxelles 47 (1927): 49-59

{6} – Gregory L. Naber, Spacetime and Singularities: an Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 126-27

{7} – John A. Wheeler, “Beyond the Hole,” in Some Strangeness in the Proportion, ed. Harry Woolf (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1980), p. 354

{8} – John D. Norton. March 2001; January 2007, February 16, 23, October 16, November 10, 2008, March 31, 2010. – http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/HPS_0410/chapters/big_bang/index.html

{9} – William L. Craig, The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe (Astrophysics and Space Science Volume 269-270, Number 0, 721-738, DOI: 10.1023/A:1017083700096)

{10} – P. C. W. Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag )

{11} – God and the Astronomers (1978), W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, p. 14

{12} – http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/planck.html

{13} – William L. Craig, The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe (Astrophysics and Space Science Volume 269-270, Number 0, 721-738, DOI: 10.1023/A:1017083700096)

{14} – Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176 {15} – God and the Astronomers (1978), W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, p. 135

Who Created God?

Who Created God?

I would like to start out by saying that Richard Dawkins asked this seemingly intelligent question on page 157-158 of his book, The God Delusion. Dawkins says, “You cannot infer a designer of the Universe based on the complexity of the Universe because this raises a further question – who designed the designer?” At first this may sound like a good sound question but those that actually study science may disagree. Why? Because philosophers of science recognize that in order to say that explanation (x) is the best, you don’t need an explanation of the explanation. For example, suppose astronauts were to find a pile of machinery on Mars. They would be perfectly justifiable to suggest that the best explanation of this machinery was some sort of intelligence. Even if they had no clue where this machinery came from or who put it there. This is again because you don’t have to have an explanation of the explanation in order to recognize that the explanation is the best. I think that if Richard Dawkins would think seriously about his question he would realize that all of science would be bankrupt if we were to always have to have an explanation of the explanation. This is because this endless search for explanations would lead to an infinite regress of explanations for explanations of explanations……. to the point where you never have an explanation for anything!

However, in light of Dawkins question there may actually be a “best” explanation to it. But first we should ask what created God are we talking about since there seem to be many religions in the world today?  This post will focus on the four major religions of the world: the pantheistic god of hinduism and the monotheistic (one) God of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).  This question must first be addressed because these views on God are totally different in terms of attributes and qualities.

Let’s first apply this question to the pantheistic God of Hinduism which states that “All is God”. The attributes of this God are easy to define because their view is that the Universe (nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. “All is one”, they will say. So essentially if this question was directed towards the creation of the pantheistic God we would also be asking who created the Universe? Therefore we may answer the question of “Who created God?” with “God created God”. Does this statement make sense? That the Universe/God created itself. For instance if X were the Universe/God than it would look like this: X created X. So in order for X to exist we must presuppose X. Logic tells us that we cannot presuppose the existence of something to prove it’s existence. Therefore, I cannot except the pantheistic view on God’s beginning and creation of the Universe. But does this same scenario apply to the monotheistic God of Christianity, Judaism, & Islam?

If we were to apply this question now to God as is depicted from the Old Testament we again should first analyze His attributes? Theologians recognize God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Quite remarkably contemporary astrophysics and cosmology point to a first creation also. It basically says that in the beginning was the Big Bang which brought about the heavens and the earth (i.e. space, time, and all physical matter). Because we are lead to believe that there was a beginning (first cause) to the Universe, there must be a creator or agent that caused it. Why? Because every day experience tells us that things do not just pop into being uncaused out of nothing. Out of nothing, nothing comes. Also, if everything before us was nothing, than how could anything exist instead of just nothing?  For a more in-depth approach on this particular subject – (See my post: https://lightingdarkness.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/does-god-exist-good-evidence-1/)

Moving on we must talk about what such a Creator of the Universe would be like if He were to exist. First off, In order for an agent to actualize the material world He cannot in fact exist in or as the material world itself. In other words, He would have to transcend space and time because He would be the One who created it. If God transcends space and time then it follows that God must exist as a spaceless (exists outside of space), timeless (exists outside of time) and immaterial (exist as something other than what we perceive as materials, or mass) being which cannot be detected or seen by man aside from divine revelation and intervention. If this question therefore would be asked about the Creator God as mentioned in the Bible how should it be answered considering these qualities?

“Who created God?” The answer is, “That question does not make sense”. Why? Because a transcendent immaterial, spaceless, timeless being requires no cause because He would not exist in time. Think about. We see things in this physical reality in terms of past, present, and future. This is what is known as Time. But if we are talking in negative terms of a timeless realm or being, there would be no beginning and no end which is right in line with Biblical scripture.

Theologian and Philosopher Norman Geisler puts it this way,

The Bible declares that God is eternal. He was before time, and he created time. Hence, he cannot be a part of time, though he can relate to time as its Creator in the way a cause relates to its effect. Many verses of Scripture support God’s eternality: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’ ” (Ex 3:14)…”The theological grounds for God’s eternality are found in several other attributes. For example, immutabilityimplieseternality, for an immutable being cannot change. But whatever is in time changes. Hence, God cannot be in time. God’s eternality can also be inferred from his infinity. An infinite being has no limits, whereas a temporal being has limits. Hence, God is not a temporal being. Pure actuality is also a ground for eternality. Pure actuality (pure actuality means that God is actuality and has no potentiality whatsoever. Everything He could be, He is and always was and always will be. He exists but has no potential not to exist) has no potentiality, but whatever is temporal has potentiality. Hence, God is not temporal but eternal.”

Therefore, God is what is known philosophically as a necessary being or the first uncaused cause. One that exists necessarily and requires no cause. This may seems tough to take in to the unbelieving mind but makes perfect sense to those whose eyes are opened to the Truth of what the Bible states about God, our loving Creator. If X exists necessarily, which it does in this case, then it would follow that X(God) creates Y(Universe). Peace, Love, and God bless.

Time + Matter + Chance?

In crossing a desert with a few friends suppose I trip over a rock and were asked how the rock came to be there. I might possibly answer with that as far as I know it has laid there forever or for at least a very long period of time. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground instead and was asked how the watch came to be there. For a watch to exist in a desert area it would be silly to think that I could answer this question the same as before – that for any thing I knew this watch has laid there forever or for at least a very long period of time.

Yet why should this answer not serve for the watch as well as for the rock? In other words, why is it not as acceptable logically in the second case as in the first? For the simple reason that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive what we could not discover directly in the rock. Let me explain….

 Watches are different from rocks because they have several parts that are framed and put together for a very specific purpose. All watches are formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion regulated as to point out the minutes and hour of the day. If the many parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed in any other order than what they are, either no motion at all would have been produced in the machine, or none which would have been useful to tell time.

To begin to understand the complexity of a watch, we open it up and observe it’s basic parts and functions:

 First, we see a cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which by relaxing itself, turns round the box. We next observe a flexible chain communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in and apply to each other conducting the motion from the fusee to the balance and from the balance to the pointer. And at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, they are able to regulate a movement of an equable and measured progression (seconds, minutes, hours) and pass over a given space in a given time.

 We then take notice that the wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust. The springs we notice are made of steel. Why? Because no other metal would be elastic enough for the cause. Finally over the face of the watch is placed a piece of glass; a material not used in any other part of the watch but had there been anything other than a transparent substance such as glass to cover the watch, the hour could not be seen without opening the case.

 Now after examining the complexities of the structures and function of the watch the inference is inevitable….That the watch must have had a maker—and there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an agent who caused it for the purpose in which we find it. In other words, behind this watch is a mind who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.

 In the scientific study of our physical Universe, many scientists and former atheists have come to believe that like the watch, it too must have had a maker or mind behind it.

Dr. Paul Davies, professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University puts it this way, “You see, even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suite to the existence of life – almost contrived – you might say a ‘put up job’.”

 What Dr. Davies and other scientists have been discovering about the Universe is that

from random quantum mini-particles to the composition of the atom;

from atoms to inorganic chemicals; from inorganic chemicals to organic chemicals;

from organic chemicals to complex DNA;

from DNA to proteins; from proteins to tissues; from tissues to organs; from organs to animals;

from animals to ecosystems; from ecosystems to planets;

from planets to ordered solar systems, from ordered solar systems to galaxies and billions and billions of stars……we see not a random uncaused universe from nothing. But an ordered, life permitting universe of immense power, structure, and complexity.

 Considering the overwhelming complexities of the Universe compared to the watch, can we explain it away as we did the rock? Is this Universe, which is magnitudes more complex than a wrist watch, due to pure chance? The non-believing atheists thinks so but I on the other hand find that difficult to believe.

 Like other theists, I believe that this awesome Universe must have a maker; an agent who caused it for the purpose in which we find it. That behind this Universe is a transcendent, super intelligent mind who comprehended its construction and designed its use for us so that we may live and have purpose in this life.

Adapted from William Paley’s piece on Natural Theology