Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Mountain Top Experience

Hey Everyone,

I will be taking a short break from the blog. Every year about this time my wife and kids and I head up to the mountains for a vacation. Besides a lot of family time, there is a lot of relaxation, book reading, hiking, and of course mountain biking ahead of us. So I will be leaving the internet behind.

See you after the Fourth of July,


The Puritans on Holiness - J.I. Packer

The Puritans knew that Scripture is the unalterable rule of holiness, and never allowed themselves to forget it. Knowing also the dishonesty and deceitfulness of fallen human hearts, then cultivated humility and self-suspicion as abiding attitudes, and examined them selves regularly for spiritual blind spots and lurking inward evils. They may not be called morbid or introspective on this account, however; on the contrary, they found the discipline of self-examination by Scripture (not the same thing as introspection, let us note), followed by the discipline of confessing and forsaking sin and renewing one’s gratitude to Christ for his pardoning mercy, to be a source of great inner peace and joy. We today, who know to our cost that we have unclear minds, uncontrolled affections, and unstable wills when it come to serving God, and who again and again find ourselves being imposed on by irrational, emotional romanticism disguised as super-spirituality, could profit much from the Puritans’ example at this point.

-J.I. Packer; A Quest for Godliness-

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Postmodernism in the Church and the Gospel

Here is an outstanding Piper moment. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, when I hear the cross preached I feel as I if I am being saved all over again.

God Bless,


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On Miracles and David Hume (part 2)

Again, David Hume’s argument against miracles can be broken down into two parts. Part 1 being the ‘in principle" or philosophical argument and part 2 being the "in fact" or historical and evidential arguments. The focus of this post is on part two of Hume’s argument. The basis of his argument is that if "in fact" a miracle is claimed to have taken place in the past and we wanted to actually weight the evidence and not use probability (see part 1) then we still should not believe the claims of the witnesses for a few different reasons. 1) We cannot trust the reliability of the witness because people who report these miracles tend to be uneducated, uncivilized, and even barbaric. 2) It is the nature of humans to gossip and exaggerate. 3) There are conflicting religions that claim miracles, so they in turn cancel each other out.

As stated in part one, Hume tries to evaluate the credibility of a miracle, not by weighing the actual evidence, but by probability or the number of testimonies. Francis Beckwith gives a good analogy of this in his article History and Miracles. He gives the example of a woman being charged with murder, and there are five upstanding citizens who were eyewitnesses. Now the defense attorney who is a proponent of Hume’s logic, goes out and gets 875 people to testify that, not only did they not see the murder, but they can’t even imagine this woman doing something like this because in the past they have seen that she is an upstanding person herself. The defense attorney then asks the jury to make their decision based on the fact that 875 testimonies say they have never seen her murder anyone (but did not see the event in question) verses five who say they saw here do it. It is clear that just because 875 people had never seen her murder anyone nor even think that she would do something like that, does not mean she didn’t do it. It is at this point that Hume brings his "in fact" argument into play. He proceeds to say that the witnesses are not trustworthy because they are uneducated, uncivilized, and even barbaric. On top of that, people have the tendency to gossip and exaggerate so they probably made up the story without any real evidence because it is what they wanted to believe.

What Hume does, is say that whenever there is miraculous claim there is always plenty of reason to question the witnesses education, reputation, and integrity. The problem is he never sets any kind of standard for what and educated man who lives in a civilized society looks like. Colin Brown points out that maybe educated and upright men, are men who do not believe in miracles and follow suit with Hume. Anyone outside this description is obviously uneducated and uncivilized.

Hume’s lack of listing qualifications of what a civilized educated person is, leaves the door wide open to say every time a person claims to be a witness to a miracle, this person must be uneducated. Clearly this statement by Hume does not do anything to prove that all witnesses to miracles have been both uneducated and uncivilized, but is merely a statement of his personal prejudices.

The next statement that Hume makes is that it is so pleasurable to tell a piece of news and be one of the first ones to spread it, leads people to gossip or exaggerate the claim without any evidence. Hume also adds that this is especially true in religious cases because people want to support their case. A wise man, in Hume’s mind, should never believe any of these claims because of this principle.

Francis Beckwith makes a point that when it comes to believing in the historicity of a miraculous event; it does take more evidence to believe it than it would a non-miraculous event. He gives the illustration of receiving a report that your friend’s father, who had passed away, came back to life and went to lunch with your friend. You would obviously need more evidence to believe that report then you would need to believe your friend went to lunch with his father who never passed away and lives in the same house that he does. You would need more evidence, but the fact, that as a general rule, many people have the propensity to exaggerate does not mean that your friend’s report is not true.

If we cannot believe anything out of the ordinary because people tend to exaggerate in order to strengthen the case for their belief system, then it seems Hume fails his own test. He states that no miracles have ever occurred and that all witnesses to miracles are not credible. By his own rule I should not believe until I have further evidence, because he could be exaggerating just to support his own belief in naturalism. After all, it is a pretty miraculous claim to say that you know throughout history that every witness to a miracle was uneducated and uncivilized.

Hume also forgets about witnesses to miracles that do not want to believe what they see because it represents everything they are against. Saul of Tarsus is a good example of this. He was on his way to persecute Christian when Jesus Christ, who had been crucified and resurrected, appears to him. It would have not been in Paul’s best interest to report this miracle. Also, he had absolutely no reason to exaggerate this event because it could only do damage to his cause.

The final section of Hume’s "in fact" argument is that if two competing religions both claim that they have miracles to support their religion, then they must cancel out each other. For example if Christians claim that their God became a man, died, and was resurrected, and the Muslim’s claim the same thing, then these miracles must cancel out each other. Ron Nash states that this is probably Hume’s strongest point in the "in fact" argument. Nash then proceeds to state, that when it comes to the core miracles of the faith like the resurrection, there are no other religions that claim and event like this so they do not cancel out each other. There may be other types of miracles like healing that seem to cancel out each other, but this does not mean that at least one or maybe even both of them actually took place. Nash also points out that God’s goodness is not restricted only to believers and that there is not reason why God could not reveal His power and glory to an unbeliever, even if this person belonged to another religion.

In conclusion Hume’s "in fact" arguments do nothing to prove that miracles have not taken place. The only thing it really does is warn us to be careful when looking at the claims of a miracle, but this is something most people already knew.

-Doug Eaton-

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Marching Orders

It is not difficult to look around this world and think, what can I do? I try to proclaim Christ’s message yet my efforts seem so small. With major organizations and most of the universities of this country producing theory after theory and book after book suppressing the truth of Christianity. Radio and TV spending millions of dollars to produce quickly paced emotionally charged stories and programs that glamorize pre-martial, extra-marital, and homosexual sex. Not to mention teaching our children that the name of the Lord is merely a word that is to be used in vain to curse someone or make a joke. With all of this and the struggling nature of many small churches, we may start to wonder what can be accomplished, but before you begin to doubt, remember these promises that God made to the Israelites which still apply to God’s children…

You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified. Deut. 9:1

No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you. Deut. 11:25

It is true that today we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, but the wrestling is no less real, and the promises are no less true. But lest you despair and think you are not godly enough for God to fight for you, or lest you become proud and think that the Lord owes this to you because of your godliness, remember it is only by His grace that his Children will prevail and only by His Justice to His enemies will fail…

It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you… Deut. 9:5

For… He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Deut. 7:10

Take the truth of Christ to the world and remember, if the Lord is with you, who can be against you. He holds the hearts of kings in His hand. Stand strong in the faith ‘being careful to observe the commandments of the Lord’ (Deut. 8:1). Teach them diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deut. 6:7). For against the Church the gates of hell will not prevail.

-Doug Eaton-

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hypocrisy is a God-Enraging Sin

The man who is a pretender to saintship, but whose heart tells him he has nothing but the name, carries Christ in his Bible but not in his heart. Some politic design spurs him on in the ways of God; he makes religion a lackey to his carnal interest. What is this but to abuse God to his face, and to serve the devil in Christ’s livery? Hypocrisy makes the fury rise up in God’s face; therefore he calls such persons ‘the generation of his wrath’ (Isa. 10:6).

Thomas Watson; The Godly Man’s Picture

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Friday, June 15, 2007

On Miracles and David Hume (part 1)

David Hume in his article “Of Miracles” has made what appears to be a strong case against miracles. His article is continually read on college campuses and is still held as one of the strongest arguments against miracles. Almost all the arguments against miracles that were to follow are merely restated versions of Hume’s arguments. In fact, David Hume touted his own argument as the definitive argument that will be used by all wise and learned men as long as the world endures. This argument can be broken down into two parts, the “in principle” argument and the “in fact” argument.

Part I, the “in principle” argument, is the argument that is philosophical in nature. It deals with the repeatability of and event and the laws of nature. The argument can be broken down as follows.

1). A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature.
2). Firm and unalterable experience has established these laws.
3). A wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence.
4). Therefore, the proof against a miracle is as complete as any argument from experience can be.

Part II, the “in fact” argument deals with the historical and evidential nature of a miraculous claim. Hume does this through 1) questioning the reliability of any witness of a miracle by looking at his lack of education and/or his uncivilized environment, 2) appealing to the nature of humans to gossip and/or exaggerate, and 3) having claims of miracles from competing religion cancel out each other.

The “in fact” argument will be explained in greater detail and critiqued in a second post on this topic. The main focus of this post will be to critique the “in principle” argument set for by Hume.

When looking at the four part “in principle” argument as cited earlier. Norman Geisler sites two possible interpretations, the hard and the soft. The hard interpretation could be broken down as follows. 1) Miracles by definition are violations of natural law. 2) Natural laws are unalterably uniform. 3) Therefore, miracles cannot occur.

Looking at it in this way Hume simply begs the question. The question to which we are seeking an answer is can a violation in a law of nature occur? Hume says no because they cannot be violated. Hence he is begging the question. It is doubtful that this is the argument that Hume was trying to make so the softer view is probably more realistic. The softer view can be broken down as follows. 1) Miracles are rare. 2) Natural laws are regular occurrences. 3) There is always more evidence for the regular than the rare. 4) A wise person will always go with the greater evidence. 5) Therefore a wise person would never believe in a miracle.

When looking at Hume’s argument in this light, miracles are not ruled as impossible, instead, they simply cannot be believed in even if they do occur. This argument is based on what is know as the “repeatability principle” which says that evidence for something that occurs repeatedly will always outweigh the evidence for those events that do not repeat regularly. To refute this argument, I will summarize four refutations given by Norman Geisler.

1) The assumption of uniform experience- Hume uses uniform experience against miracles claiming that natural laws have not been broken in the past, but he would need to have a form of omniscience in order to understand all the laws of nature and know that they have not been broken. Since he does not have this knowledge, he cannot say they’ve never been broken. Maybe he was only speaking of the uniform knowledge of a person who has never seen a miracle, but this rules out the experience of someone who has seen a miracle. Either way Hume gives no reason why we should believe the experience of uniformity over those who claim to have experienced a miracle.

2) Adding evidence verses weighing evidence- Really what Hume is doing here is stating that people should base their belief on probability rather than evidence. For instance, he says that it is more probable for a man who died, to stay dead, than it is for him to be resurrected, so we should believe the higher probability even if a resurrection did take place. But if we use this kind of logic we could never believe a rare event if it was within the laws of nature. For example, suppose we have a shopping center with a staircase, and it is said to be the safest staircase ever made. Thousands of people walk up and down it everyday, and no one has ever fallen down it. If we extend Hume’s reasoning to this scenario, and one day we heard the testimony of many eyewitnesses say someone fell down the staircase, we would not be wise in believing it because more people have walked up and down the staircase without falling then those who have fallen. We should not believe the story of someone falling, because it goes against the probability of regardless of the evidence.

3) Evidence for the past cannot determine the present- Hume is telling us that a wise person will believe that miracles will never happen. If there is someone who is trying to show evidence for an alleged miracle, the wise person should come with the presupposition that the claim is false, based on the evidence of the past which is infallible. This type of reasoning is fallacious because even in science things that are repeatable could alter in the future. We are not guaranteed that the sun will rise tomorrow simply because it always has. Sure the probabilities are high that it will, but it is not a guarantee, and if we were to notice a 48 hour period without seeing the sun rise. We would not be unwise to think that something had altered the normal rising of the sun, simply because every other day of our lives it rose. There are also anomalies in nature, which have no supernatural connotation, so to state that a person should never believe and exception to a repeated event hurts Hume’s case.

4) Confusing the basis of knowledge and the object of knowledge- Hume also confuses the basis of knowledge with the object of knowledge when he says that the evidence for what is repeatable is always greater than the evidence of what is rare. For example, we will use a great piece of art to show this type of confusion. We realize that a piece of art is great because we have seen many great pieces of art by many great artists. This is the basis of knowledge. We also know that the production of great art is a repeatable event, but this is not the object of knowledge. The object of knowledge is a single piece of work (e.g. the Mona Lisa). This single piece of work will never be repeated, it is a one-time event. When we have evidence of something being miraculous, we must not confuse the basis of knowledge with the object of knowledge. The basis of knowledge for a miraculous event is when we see something take place outside the laws of nature, and we realize that some higher or more intelligent force cause it. This is the repeatable, but the object of knowledge is the single miracle, which will never be repeated.

After careful review of Hume’s “in principle” argument, we see that he did not prove that miracles cannot take place, but he actually helps us define what a miracle is.

-Doug Eaton-

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Japanese Tetris

I have no idea what this has to do with Godwardthoughts but I couldn't help but post it. I had so much fun watching it.

What is the Gospel?

I posted a link to this video on Godtube a while back, but I just posted it on youtube.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

John MacArthur on the Importance of Preaching

Monday, June 11, 2007

On Defending the Resurrection of Jesus

When refuting arguments against the resurrection, it is important to know the core facts that most scholars believe about the events surrounding Jesus’ death. There are usually at least four core facts that are held by Christian and non-Christian scholars.

1. Jesus was crucified and died
2. Jesus’ tomb was found empty
3. The Apostles believed they had experiences with the risen Christ.
4. Christ’s disciples were radically transformed after these experiences.

1) Jesus was crucified and died- Virtually every scholar holds to this proposition. They believe that Jesus was actually crucified and that He did in fact die. Rarely is this fact contested. The idea of the actual crucifixion being a conspiracy is not one generally held. He was nailed to the cross and died.

2) Jesus tomb was found empty- The first point that this core fact insinuates is that Jesus was actually buried. William Lane Craig, in his article The Empty Tomb of Jesus, goes into great detail and gives us five points why scholars believe this. 1) There are many early sources that attest to the burial of Jesus. 2) Even skeptical scholars agree that it is unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea was a Christian invention due to the fact that he was a Jewish Sanhedrist. Christian’s were at odds with the Sanhedrin, so why would they create a story of a Sanhedrist doing what was right in burying Jesus. 3) The story of the burial is simple and is not trying to conjure theological reflection and it is non-apologetic. 4) It is also believed because this type of burial was the custom in dealing with the death of a Holy man. 5) Finally, this is the only burial tradition that existed, which means it would have been completely out of character to do something different. The belief in the burial is important because it is needed to believe in an empty tomb. He had to be buried and they had to know which tomb he was buried in to find it empty. Why it was found empty is where scholars differ.

3) The apostles believed they had experiences with the risen Jesus- Again most scholars will agree that the apostles has some type of experience which they believed was the risen Jesus, but they do not agree on what the actual experience was. Some say it was a hallucination; some say it was the ghost of Jesus, and others believe it was the physical resurrected body of Jesus. These issues will be covered in the arguments against the naturalistic theories about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

4) Jesus’ disciples were radically transformed after these experiences- We can look at the example of Peter who denied Jesus three times in fear of his life during the events that lead up to the crucifixion. After these experiences with the risen Christ, he went on to be the leading spokesperson for the resurrection of Jesus. He was later crucified and would not back down even if it meant death. In fact, all of Jesus’ disciples were killed for their belief, except for John who was dipped in boiling oil and survived.

Virtually every scholar holds the four core facts listed above. In light of these four facts there have been three naturalistic arguments, which try to explain that Jesus did not rise from the dead. They are 1) the swoon theory 2) the hallucination theory, and 3) the stolen body or conspiracy theory.

1) Arguments against the swoon theory- The swoon theory is the argument that Jesus never really died on the cross, he merely went into a swoon, a kind of coma or unconsciousness, and later he was revived by the cool of the tomb. The first thing we notice is that this theory violates core fact #1 that Jesus was crucified and died. It also violates core fact #4, Jesus disciples were radically changed after the experiences of seeing Jesus. This raises the question, would the disciples have been radically transformed at the sight of a half dead Jesus? The swoon theory is not a highly regarded argument because of these violations, but in order to not commit the bandwagon fallacy, let us look at a few other reasons why this is not possible. A) Kreeft and Tacelli in the book Handbook of Christian Apologetics, point out that Jesus’ body was totally encased in a winding sheet (we know this from the burial tradition mentioned earlier). How could a half dead man escape a virtual straight jacket? B) We know that a swooning corpse could not have overpowered the Roman guards. C) Who moved the stone? D) Kreeft and Tacelli also make a great point that he swoon theory actually turns into the conspiracy theory, because the disciples attest to a resurrected Jesus who did not swoon. The conspiracy theory will be addressed later. E) Finally, a swooning Jesus would have had to eventually die, so where is His body?

2) Arguments against the hallucination theory- the hallucination theory is the theory that the disciples did not really see a resurrected Jesus, but merely hallucinated. This would explain why the disciples were radically transformed, because they actually thought they saw a resurrected Jesus, but this violates core fact #2, Jesus’ tomb was found empty. If the disciples were hallucinating whey didn’t the Romans take them to the tomb and show them the body when the disciples began preaching. This would have stopped them in their tracks. Kreeft and Tacelli bring up some other arguments also. A) There were too many witnesses. At one point Jesus appeared to 500 people at on time. Did they all have the same hallucination? B) One of the criteria that doctors say is needed hallucinations of this type is that the people expect to see what they see. The disciples didn’t expect to see Jesus. In fact, when they did see him they still didn’t believe, which lead to Thomas touching His wounds, and hallucinations do not have material properties. C) Jesus ate. Hallucinations do not eat. At one point the disciples sat down and ate with Jesus. If this was a hallucination, then either a hallucination (Jesus) ate actual food, or the disciples ate hallucinated food. It is clear from all the details of the appearances of Jesus that they could not have been hallucinations.

3) Arguments against the stolen body or conspiracy theory- This is the idea that the disciples stole the body in order to make people believe Jesus had actually resurrected, but this violates core fact #4 the disciples were radically transformed. How could a group of men go from being men who feared for their lives to men who would die for their beliefs if they knew that their beliefs were a lie? Another argument is that this goes against the character of the disciples. These were honest upright men who would have had to violate their core beliefs to pull this off.

Some might say that it was not the disciples who took the body but the Romans, but we have already shown earlier that if it were the Romans, all they would have to do in order to put a stop to the disciples preaching would be to produce the body. This also violates core fact #3 that the disciples believed they saw a resurrected Jesus. If the Romans had taken the body then they disciples would have had hallucinations, and we have already shown that this does not work.

Up to this point there has not been a plausible naturalistic explanation for the resurrection of Jesus, which leaves us with the alternative that he did raise physically from the dead.

-Doug Eaton-

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Strive Against Spiritual Sluggishness

And while he [Lot] lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. Gen. 19:16

Here we find Lot in the final moments before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The warnings had been clear, and Lot had not doubted the truthfulness of those warnings. Yet in the final moments before the destruction, as Lot is told to escape with his life, he lingers as if unable to move. Calvin says this regarding Lot's lingering, “His tardiness is truly wonderful [astounding], since, though he was certainly persuaded that the angels did not threaten in vain, he could yet be moved, by no force of words until he is dragged by their hands out of the city.”

What caused him to linger? Matthew Poole estimates that, “He lingered, either though lothness to part with all his estate, or to lose his sons-in-law; or through astonishment and distraction of mind, which made him both listless and impotent.” Whatever it was, Lot was powerless to move on his own, and this seems to be the experience of us all from time to time when the Lord, through his Word, has told us to move. Whether it is sin with which we hate to part, or God’s leading in a new direction, many times we are sluggish.

God has told us to press on in His word, to be conformed to his image, and to do all He has commanded us. The thunderous warnings of the destruction of everything contrary have rung in our ears as He has told us to flee the wrath to come. Along with the thundering of destruction that push us from behind, we have the beauty of Christ, the True Image of God, before us, compelling us to come, yet so often we sit lifeless.

As Matthew Henry so aptly put it, “Thus many that are under some convictions about the misery of their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, yet defer that needful work, and foolishly linger.” But praise God Lot’s story does not end there, and neither does ours, for God was merciful to him as the angels grabbed him by the hand and brought him out of the city to safety.

Are there areas in your life which hinder your growth in the things of the Lord? Do you know the Lord has called you to remedy a certain aspect of your life, yet you sit idle, making no progress in spiritual things? If so, be prepared, for if you are a true child of God who is unmoved even though you have heard His word, He will use other means to get you to move. Whatever inordinate loves keep you motionless may be forcefully removed, forcing you to make steps onward in your journey to the Celestial City. Calvin makes the point clear when he says,

“For so it is often necessary for us to be forcibly drawn away from scenes which we do not willingly leave. If riches, or honors, or any other things of the that kind, prove an obstacle to anyone, to render him less free and disengaged from the service of God, when it happens that he is abridged [cut off] of his fortune, or reduced to a lower rank, let him know that the Lord has laid hold of his hand; because words and exhortations had not sufficiently profited him.”

Let us never forget that even the more forceful means the Lord uses to speed us along to be conformed to the image of Christ is done in mercy, for it would have been no injustice had He left us in our impotent state to partake in the destruction that we refused to flee. Has the Lord been calling you to surrender some sin? Has he been prompting you by His Holy Spirit, to live a life more in service to Him than the worldly pleasure you now serve? Or is he simply calling you to spend more time in prayerful study of His Word, which is so often neglected. Whatever it may be, we all have enough sluggishness in us that we should, with all earnestness, strive against it. And may the words of this devotion be the means God uses to move you on, for if mere words are not enough, in His mercy, He will lay his hands upon His child.

-Doug Eaton-

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The Lord Is My Portion - Spurgeon

"Thou art my portion, O Lord." - Psa_119:57

Look at thy possessions, O believer, and compare thy portion with the lot of thy fellowmen. Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase; but what are harvests compared with thy God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with him, who is the Husbandman, and feeds thee with the bread of heaven? Some have their portion in the city; their wealth is abundant, and flows to them in constant streams, until they become a very reservoir of gold; but what is gold compared with thy God? Thou couldst not live on it; thy spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Put it on a troubled conscience, and could it allay its pangs? Apply it to a desponding heart, and see if it could stay a solitary groan, or give one grief the less? But thou hast God, and in him thou hast more than gold or riches ever could buy. Some have their portion in that which most men love-applause and fame; but ask thyself, is not thy God more to thee than that? What if a myriad clarions should be loud in thine applause, would this prepare thee to pass the Jordan, or cheer thee in prospect of judgment? No, there are griefs in life which wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide. But when thou hast God for thy portion, thou hast more than all else put together. In him every want is met, whether in life or in death. With God for thy portion thou art rich indeed, for he will supply thy need, comfort thy heart, assuage thy grief, guide thy steps, be with thee in the dark valley, and then take thee home, to enjoy him as thy portion for ever. "I have enough," said Esau; this is the best thing a worldly man can say, but Jacob replies, "I have all things," which is a note too high for carnal minds.

-Charles H. Spurgeon-

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Science, Philosophy, and the Word of God

"In the year 1861 the French Academy of Science published a list of fifty-one so-called scientific facts, each of which, it was alleged, disproved some statement in the Bible. Today the Bible remains as it was then, but not one of these fifty-one so called Facts is held by men of science.. . .. Does anyone really believe that science and Philosophy have yet reached, even approximately, their final form? May it not rather be contended that they are so far removed from their ultimate [true] form that if the teachings of the Bible were in complete harmony with present-day science and philosophy they would be out of harmony with the science and philosophy of the future."

Loraine Boettner, Studies in Theology

How firm is your foundation? The wise man will build his house upon the rock, which is the Word of God. (Matt. 7:24)

Science, Philosophy, and the Word of God

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What's Wrong With This Picture?


Monday, June 04, 2007

The God of the Gaps is not the God of the Christian

Many naturalistic philosophers argue that god is less and less needed to explain natural phenomena because science continues to explain more and more of it without him. Therefore, God is becoming less and less needed, and pointing to gaps in the scientific data to bolster belief in God is slowly being eradicated.

The problem with the “god of the gaps’ argument is that it is a question begging argument since it assumes from the outset that God is merely an explanation to unknown things and not an actual being. As the argument goes, since we now understand so much more than we did in previous generations, we have less need to create a god to answer our questions, and we can now live without this myth called god. This may be a good way for the naturalist to side step the issue of whether God really exists or not, but pulling premises from your conclusion in order to validate your conclusion never makes for a good argument.

God is not simply an explanation to holes in our knowledge. God is the one who created this world of order that we can actually explore scientifically. The truth is that it is not only the gaps in some of our knowledge that point to God, but also the very things we do understand and continue to figure out through scientific inquiry that attest to him. This is seen in scripture.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork”.

Notice that is does not say, the gaps in our understanding declare the glory of God, but instead, it is the heavens and the firmament that we do see and have some understanding of that declare His glory. For example, the fact that we know more of how a flower grows today than we did in years past, makes us wonder and glory in God even more, not less. If the god of the gaps theory were true, we would actually glory less the more we understand, but who can truly say that this amazing creation is less awe inspiring the more we figure out its causal relationships?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way, “How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.”

Finally, we need not let the naturalist poison the well of appealing to what is ultimately unexplainable by the naturalistic worldview. There are questions that cannot be answered by the naturalist that do in fact point to the existence of God. Questions like, why is there something instead of nothing? Many times the use of the “god of the gaps” argument is simply an attempt to silence the theist from appealing to many of the questions that the naturalist cannot answer. For example, since we have been discussing the fact that we can actually understand this world and its causal relationships, and that its order can leave us awe inspired, let us end with this classic example of argumentation from Stephen Charnock as he argues from the existence of order, to the existence of God.

“From all this it follows, if there be an order, and harmony, there must be an Orderer: one that 'made the earth by his power, established the world by his wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by his discretion.' (Jer. 10:12). Order being the effect, cannot be the cause of itself: order is the disposition of things to and end, and is not intelligent, but implies an intelligent Orderer; and, therefore, it is as certain that there is a God, as it is certain there is order in the world.”

-Doug Eaton-

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson Debate

Here is a link to an outstanding example of apologetics. It is a six part interchange between a theologian, Douglas Wilson, and an atheist, Christopher Hitchens.

Is Christianity Good For the World?

I need to thank the Pyromaniacs for bringing this to my attention.

God Bless,


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