Are the stories of the Bible history, or mythology? The science of archaeology can help to provide the answer. On January 30, 2016, Kevin Conover of the Educate for Life radio program interviewed Dr. Scott Stripling and Dr. Bryant Wood of Associates for Bible Research (ABR).
This is the final in a series of 4 articles on miracles, based upon a podcast I listened to, and was inspired by, by Tim McGrew. The articles are really handy for defending the faith and they take a look at miracles from a philosophical perspective.
Tim, quite frequently you hear this objection: “Well, if God does miracles, why doesn’t He heal amputees?” How would you respond to that?
There’s a couple of different ways to respond to that. The first one is, didn’t He do that in the New Testament? Right? Didn’t Peter cut somebody’s ear off and Jesus healed it with a touch, in Luke 22:51? So we’ve got one record of that but I think the question is not usually brought forward to say, “Why doesn’t He do that in the New Testament?” But I think it’s brought forward to insinuate that things that are called miracles today are really just not the sorts of things where we could be sure they were a miracle at all, right? It’s oh, I think my toothache feels somewhat better…was it a miracle?
And who knows? You can’t really tell from something like that. So I think that’s the insinuation. And if that’s the insinuation I would say, first of all, let’s have a look at Craig Keener’s books because he talks about people who were certified as dead and he’s close up to some of these. In one case I heard him talk on a conference at Oxford and he said, “And I know a lot about this case because the person who is dead is my sister-in-law.”
Tim McGrew: That is pretty close up to the facts. So I think we should look at stuff like that. But the other thing that I want to say is, suppose that in our time no miracles ever happened. What does that tell us about the adequacy of the evidence that we do have for the resurrection of Jesus? Because that’s the central event, right? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that this is the thing without which our faith is in vain. This is the hinge of Christianity. If it doesn’t turn, we’re done for. So what if it turned out there are no contemporary miracles, what would that mean about the resurrection? And the answer is, not much. It’s an attempt to distract us from looking at the evidence we do have by talking about the kind of evidence some people wish we had, which maybe we do and maybe we don’t, and I’m not going to try to pass judgement on that…I’m going to refer people to Craig Keener or Robert Larmer, who’s a Canadian philosopher who does work on these things. There are people out there who are prepared to talk very specifically about contemporary miracle claims.
Yeah I’m not sure amputees aren’t healed because I’m not everywhere so there may be instances. I can’t recall if Craig had any in his book…he may have had certain physical deformities healed…instantaneously…like a club foot. In fact Gary Habermas talks about a club foot spontaneously healing, not over a period of time but over seconds…but I can’t recall if a person had a finger grow back or an arm grow back, something like that.
But even if that doesn’t occur, as you said, that doesn’t affect the testimony we do have about the greatest miracle after the first verse of the Bible and that is the resurrection of Christ. We’ve got good evidence for that…so, it’s just an interesting question because you always hear atheists bringing it up. I’ve never seen a miracle – like you, Tim – but there’s a lot of things I haven’t seen that I believe in. I believe in George Washington…I’ve never seen him. I believe in my mind…I’ve never seen that. I believe in gravity…I’ve never seen gravity though I’ve seen the effects…There’s a lot of things I believe in that I haven’t seen.
Reminds me of a line from an old Woody Allen movie, if only God would give me a clear sign like making a large deposit in a Swiss bank account…sorry, God’s not in it for the parlour tricks! Let’s talk about more important things than that.
I recall Lawrence Krauss saying, “If you were to write in the stars, I am here, then it would be worth thinking about” yet He’s written a genome that’s 3.5 billion letters long, a unique genome in Lawrence Krauss’s cells that only he has and somehow that’s not enough for Krauss. He needs “I am here” in the stars but a 3.5 billion letter message you know of DNA just doesn’t quite do it for Krauss. So ok, I think it goes back partially to what you said earlier Tim and that is, some people just don’t want to believe.
You know it’s interesting too that scientists believe in many singular non-repeatable events, Tim. They believe in the origin of the universe…that’s not a repeatable event. They believe in the origin of first life…not a repeatable event. They believe in the origin of new life forms, they believe in archaeological discoveries which are not repeatable. They believe in say a famous murder, the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. You can’t go back and recreate those OJ Simpson murders…and yeah, he did it. You can’t go back and recreate those, they’re not repeatable events, they’re singular events just like miracles are singular events. Yet they’ll believe these singular events, the scientists will, but they won’t believe a singular event like a miracle so I think it’s kind of special pleading, they’re ruling out what they don’t want to believe and they’re only believing what they do want to believe.
I’m afraid with many people that’s the case. On the other hand, there are some people who would say I’ve never seen a good argument for any miracle, what kind of evidence do you have? And when I run into those people I don’t assume that they’re all dishonest and unwilling to look at the evidence…let’s see, let’s give them the evidence. And here’s somewhere where Christians could do better. If we were more proactive in putting forward the evidential case that we have there would be fewer people out there who have heard very little about what Christians believe. And so in part we have to take some of the responsibility if our contemporaries aren’t hearing it. Maybe it’s because not enough of us are saying it clearly.
Well that’s for sure and that’s why I love having you on the program because you say it clearly. And you’re clearly well qualified in this area. In fact tell our listeners about the websites. One of them you already have up that they can access right nowTim, and then there’s one that’s coming down the road…that’s going to be a tour de force around this issue of David Hume and miracles.
The site that’s available now is called the Library of Historical Apologetics (historicalapologetics.org). There are dozens of works you can download in pdf form, all these are public domain works, there’s no copyright infringement. There’s also links to various talks I’ve given where I make use of some of these works.
If you’re interested in seeing this on a wider stage, if you want to see not dozens but thousands of works put together, cross-indexed and searchable (with graphic displays on who was provoked by this work, who was inspired by that work), then keep an eye out for the Special Divine Action Database that we have, that is coming out. I think we’re at fifteen hundred, seventeen hundred works, cross-indexing these, they’re all in English and we’re showing you who the influences were and you can trace those conversations and surf through them graphically. It should be live this November. This is a really good scholarly tool, you can use it to write papers. It’s open to anybody whatsoever. Churches could even use it to form study groups as it shows the influences between authors.
Outstanding Tim, thanks for being on the show, great stuff today.
This is the third in a series of 4 articles on miracles, based upon a podcast I listened to, and was inspired by, by Tim McGrew. The articles are really handy for defending the faith and they take a look at miracles from a philosophical perspective.
Why is there such a strong anti-supernatural bias, particularly in the academic world?
Well there’s lots of reasons for that. One of them has to do with academic fashion, the kind of culture of following along in the footsteps of people around you, and the people who trained you. We see this in an almost comical way when it comes to clothing fads and fashions, but it really comes home to you when you look at the way people drift towards certain perspectives. In the humanities we are particularly subject to this phenomenon, to the extent that even a passing familiarity with Christianity is considered to be non-essential for an education.
For example, I had a colleague once, a truly brilliant guy, degree from a fine school, promising career ahead of him, and he asked me what I was reading. I held it up and said, “It’s a book of the four gospels.” And he looked at me…”Four gospels?” He’d never heard of them. That is part of the explanation.
Another part of the explanation is something Thomas Nagel brings out in his book “The Last Word.” He says he disbelieves in God not just because the arguments he has are better than those of the other side but also because he doesn’t want to believe in God, he doesn’t want the universe to be like that. He says, I think his line is, “I have a cosmic authority problem.” And that’s a remarkably candid admission but I do think that many people if they were asked would be reluctant to take seriously the idea that this is the way the universe is because that would upset a whole lot of other things that they hold and it’s always hard to make large scale changes in your beliefs. And that’s something Christians are subject to as well, I don’t mean to say that only skeptics have a hard time changing lots of their beliefs, Christians do as well, but also there’s an academic culture of just not taking them seriously at all.
I’m reminded also of the famous admission by Richard Lewontin who basically said we cannot believe in miracles because we cannot allow a divine foot in the door. And when you fast forward to Thomas Nagal whom you brought up who wrote the book “The Last Word” in 1997…well, as you know his more recent book “Mind and Cosmos” he’s really struggling with this issue now. Because he realises that naturalism can’t explain so many aspects of reality. And his atheistic colleagues are getting real worried, that he’s making too much sense. You notice that Tim?
Yeah I think they have a death watch out for him, “Oh, when’s he going to jump the shark here?”
I know (laughs). I always say to folks, the greatest miracle in the Bible is the first verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If that verse is true every other verse is at least believable because if God can create the universe out of nothing then He can do whatever He wants that’s not logically impossible inside the universe. He can walk on water, He can part water, He can raise Jesus from the dead, He can make axe-heads float, He can do all this. And everything seems to indicate that the first verse of the Bible is true so lesser miracles are much easier to believe if the greater miracle of all has already to occurred…so to have this anti-supernatural bias is in my view to close your mind off and to do so dogmatically. And that’s why I like your very reasoned approach that you take in the new book coming out, the Four Views book, which again is called?
Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy.
OK, it’s coming out in a few weeks friends, or actually in about a month, so you need to get that. Tim is a major contributor to it. And Tim, let’s deal with the question you quite frequently get regarding sort of an objection to this whole idea…the New Testament writers were naive and gullible, you just can’t trust them. How do you respond to that?
I think the first thing I would say is that by far the bulk of the New Testament was written by two highly educated people, Paul and Luke. So if we’re going to go all snobbish about educational attainments these two guys were in the upper echelons of education for their time. Paul with rabbinic learning but also with a knowledge of Greek writing, sometimes quoting Greek playwrights and poets. Luke obviously an extremely highly educated person, his vocabulary shows you that, the precision with which he handles the Greek language shows you that and if you put the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts together, then you put together the Pauline epistles, you have got most of the New Testament right there. So the very first thing to say is that’s a misfire.
The second thing to say, and maybe the even more important thing, is just how much sophistication does it take to distinguish a dead man from a living one? Do you need a higher degree to do that? Is it the kind of thing where if we’d had Galen on the spot we would have believed him because he was a Greek physician? But ordinary people, people who lived in an agrarian society, didn’t they see enough death? For example in the lambing season if you’ve got a lamb that’s stillborn can you distinguish it from the ones that get up and start gamboling around? These people saw a lot of death, they were probably a lot closer to it than most of us unless we’re undertakers. So I think that’s kind of an odd objection. We’re not talking here about some nuance of quantum mechanics, you don’t need to be a physicist to say, that’s what we should expect. We’re talking about dead bodies and living men. It’s not that hard.
And the issue of the virgin birth, or the virgin conception I should say, I think you point this out elsewhere, is that they didn’t have any problem knowing where babies come from. In fact Joseph was ready to break it off with Mary not because he didn’t know where babies come from but precisely because he did know where they came from.
Exactly. So it’s not that this came as news to the first century Jews. In fact CS Lewis had a friend Austin Farrer who got so frustrated with this stupid chronological snobbery that he actually put a question on the Triposts, the exams at Oxford that said, “Just how ignorant was the first century Jew?”
Really they didn’t know where babies came from? And students had to write their reasoned responses to that question. I would have loved to have seen some of the responses.
But that was the question that was put forward…how ignorant? How?
And they go from scared, scattered, skeptical disciples because they knew He was dead to the most overwhelming, excited, peaceful missionary force the world has ever known. Twelve people turned the world upside down. And it was precisely because they knew dead men always stayed dead unless, as you said earlier, Someone intervenes. And in this case obviously the Being who created the universe and created the human body of Jesus can resurrect the human body of Jesus if He decides to do so. And He did. Now by the way, Tim, why is a resurrection more plausible on a character like Jesus than say just an average Joe?
Wow, tons of reasons. Can we start with the fact that the entire arc of Old Testament prophecy imbued with the promise of this coming Messiah, leads to Jesus and to nobody else, points to Jesus and to nobody else. To take nothing else, take Isaiah 53. Read it aloud to a skeptical friend of yours. Don’t tell him where it’s from, he’ll see that you probably have a Bible in your hand, and just say, “Who’s this talking about?” And they’ll immediately say, “That’s stupid. Of course it’s Jesus.” And then you tell them, even on the most skeptical dating of this book, it was written centuries before the era of the New Testament and the birth of Jesus. That alone ought to be enough to draw people up short and make them say, “Whoa! Really?”
Then you have the fact that He has a very distinctive message, one that you could not have predicted by trawling through the Old Testament and pulling out passages. Yes, He seems to be the fulfillment of prophecy but also His life, His character and HIs message were not things you and I could just cobble together by reading the Old Testament. There is a very interesting question here. If there were a God and He wanted to act, where would He do it? And the answer is to certify a message of unprecedented religious importance for us, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that Jesus is offering. Now that doesn’t by itself prove that His message is true but that’s the kind of place you’d expect a miracle if God worked a miracle at all.
That’s right. You quote the Roman poet Horace who said this, “Let not a god intervene unless there be a knot worthy of a god’s untying.”
That’s just very well said. God is not going to do a miracle for no good reason.
Right. Don’t bring him in because you can. Or just to do some kind of circus trick. If it’s really something important, something worthy, then OK. That’s where God should come in if God comes in at all.
And God I think has come in, and we’re going to talk more with my friend Timothy McGrew of Western Michigan University…after the break.
This is the second in a series of 4 articles on miracles, based upon a podcast I listened to, and was inspired by, by Tim McGrew. The articles are really handy for defending the faith and they take a look at miracles from a philosophical perspective.
Tim you have written a pithy little article on the interaction between miracles and science. Can you give the article name from Slate Magazine?
This came about as part of a symposium, with a lot of different people chiming in, some pro, some con. My essay was called, “Do miracles really violate the laws of science?” You can do a Google search for this with my name, which should pop up with the Slate article. It’s a short article, I had to write it under some wording constraints but that was ok, it was a fun article to write.
It was, and why don’t we address that right now. Do miracles somehow violate the laws of science? What would you say to that?
The first thing I would say is no. Let’s talk about our definitions here. David Hume saddled the world with a false dilemma when he pitted miracles against the laws of nature. Basically, science tells us, and formulates in its laws, statements about what happens when nature is left to itself. Miracles, if they occur at all, occur because nature is NOT left to itself. So really, to say that a miracle is ruled out by the laws of nature is just to make a mistake about what the laws of nature tell us. When you consider the natural world as a closed system with no inputs from the outside we have sets of regularities and rules and we can do wonderful things with that…and I think everybody ought to be very excited about the successes of science in that way. But if something is intervening from the outside then the whole picture changes and you have to ask yourself what grounds do we have for believing that someone is intervening from outside of the system?
And you write in a longer piece as well, in a four views book…has that four views book come out yet Tim, the one you sent me an article on?
It’s due on September 13th.
What’s it called, so our listeners can get it?
I believe it’s called “Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy.”
You sent me an advanced copy and you write in it, science tells us what nature does when it’s left to itself…miracles, if they occur at all, occur precisely because nature is not left to itself and you go on to say this. Believers and skeptics agree that there is a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins are not pregnant and dead men stay dead and precisely because they are agreed on this point it cannot be a significant piece of evidence against the occurrence of miracles. Some conception of the ordinary course of nature is required for us to even make sense of the notion of a miracle which otherwise could not be recognised for what it is. I think that’s a brilliant point, Tim. There’s no way for us to identify what a miracle is unless we have the background of regular, repeatable natural events. Miracles by definition would have to be rare events if they’re going to get our attention. If they were occurring regularly we would think they were some sort of natural phenomenon. But the very idea that they occur rarely and they’re against the backdrop of nature is what has them stand out so we can recognise them. Now with that in mind, what is the purpose of a miracle from a biblical perspective?
Ok, the very first thing I want to say is I wish I could take credit for that point but the old books win again. That’s a point made vividly by one of Hume’s critics who wrote while he was alive…William Adams. Much as I would like to say that that’s my own brilliant idea, actually I’m just getting it from reading old books. Now as to the biblical purpose of miracles, they come out very clearly in a little interchange Jesus has with Nicodemus in John 3. You’ll remember that Nicodemus comes to Jesus BY NIGHT because he’s a little bit afraid and he says to him, “Rabbi, we know you’re a teacher sent from God because no man can do the works that you do unless God be with him.” These are signs of divine authority and they are to function to help us identify divine teachings and messages. After all, if there’s something we need to know, that God wants to communicate to us, we need to be able to separate it out from a fine-sounding philosophy or a brilliantly-written novel or play or poem. We need to rise above the level of human inspiration. How can we tell that? Because the messages are accompanied by signs that cannot be done by people working without the authority of God.
Hmmm….So the sign confirms the sermon, the miracle confirms the message or the messenger…and friends, that’s why often you see in the Bible that miracles are bunched around certain people like Moses, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the apostles. These miracles aren’t done for entertainment purposes, they’re done to confirm that these individuals are presenting new revelation from God and the people should take it as new revelation from God because miracles are poured out through these people. Now Tim, a lot of people will say, Well maybe miracles have occurred but why don’t we see more of them today? They seem to be occurring throughout the Bible, some will say, but we don’t seem to see them today. What do you say to that?
Ok, there are a couple of different issues entangled here. One of the things that I would want to say is we don’t see them scattered evenly throughout the Bible. As you said, they tend to bunch or to use CS Lewis’s phrase, we find them at the “great ganglia of history” where things are coming together. So if you were to use the scriptures as your sort of rule of thumb in what you should expect, you should not expect them to be salted evenly through all of history from biblical times onward.
The second thing I want to say is there’s a distinction between saying the special gift of working miracles is current today and saying miracles happen today. Many Christians believe in prayer and believe God can work miracles in answer to prayer who would not believe that somebody like Benny Hinn is specially commissioned to work miracles.
So that’s a distinction that some people slide over, I think that needs to be recognised.
The third thing that I would say is that if miracles were to happen we would expect them to happen only in places where they were really most needed…and curiously enough there is a rather substantial amount of contemporary testimonial evidence to the occurrence of miracles particularly in places where the church is under persecution, or where you might think that they’d be in the greatest need of some kind of a sign. Now I’m no expert in that and speaking candidly, I’ve never witnessed a miracle, but when I read a work like my good friend Craig Keener’s two volume work on miracles and I read all of the documentation he’s amassed, it makes me wonder if I need to get out more.
(NOTE FROM NAOMI:
While in the John Cade Unit, where I was placed because my faith in Christ was defined as mental illness, I experienced intense persecution and two miracles in quick succession. The miracles occurred after I had been fasting for two weeks, as part of seeking God with all my heart. The situation was that a nurse wanted to take blood samples and urine from me while I was very dehydrated and could produce neither naturally. I prayed to Jesus to help the lady with her samples. At that point, suddenly, blood flowed into the test tube and dilute urine was soon copiously produced into the bottle the nurse had given me. I was astonished and comforted as I knew Christ was honouring my fast and protecting me under great duress.)
Hahaha, yes. If we look at Craig Keener’s two-volume, hernia-inducing work…it’s very voluminous, these two volumes. If just half of what he says in there….ten percent of what he says in there is really true and I have no reason to doubt any of it, miracles are occurring today. But as you pointed out Tim, I don’t think there are people out there with the gift of miracles, I think miracles occur when God wants to do them for particular reasons. You say in particular areas where they’re more needed today. I think another insight that you were probably about to get to as well is the almost counter-intuitive impact of miracles on some people in the New Testament, particularly Caiaphas and others. Can you comment on that a little bit?
Yes…so, I think it’s a really important distinction to make between the evidence FOR a miracle and the willingness of someone to respond in a reasonable way to that evidence. People have vested interests. They have their way of seeing things, they have their system of belief and maybe they have their way their life is going and they’re pretty happy with it. And then along comes a miracle and it RUINS things. If you want to see a really vivid, dramatic portrayal of that, there’s a novel by Graham Greene, a mid-20th Century author, called, “The End of the Affair.” The main character is a skeptic and he disbelieves in God but is angry at Him. But he deliberately slams the phone down before he can hear someone that he knows telling him that a miracle has occurred because he doesn’t want to hear that word. People are resistant to things, and they’re irrationally resistant. We know this is a matter of general truth but it really comes home when you read the New Testament and you see people say in John 12 who, once a notable miracle has occurred with Lazarus being raised and there’s no denying it, what do they do? Well they start making plans to kill Lazarus again!
Wow! Really? It’s no wonder Gamaliel had to tell them in Acts 5, you’ll end up fighting against God (see Acts 5:34-40).
(Laughs). It’s true, they don’t want to hear. I’m reminded of a quote from GK Chesterton, who said this, he said, “The believers in miracles accept them, rightly or wrongly, because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them, rightly or wrongly, because they have a doctrine against them.” In other words, they’re dogmatists.
Yeah, that’s a quotation from “Orthodoxy” by Chesterton I think. It’s near the end.
Yes, yes. And it seems so many people out here have an anti-supernatural bias that regardless of what evidence you put in front of them they are not going to believe that any kind of intelligence or any kind of miracle worker was involved. And in fact we’re going to pick this up after the break. And when we come back we’re going to get into the issue of anti-supernatural bias, we’ll talk a little bit about science disproving the possibility of miracles, we’ll also get into amputees – why doesn’t God heal amputees – and some other questions as well. So don’t go away.
I hope you enjoyed part 2 of the five part series on miracles. Part 3 to follow within the next few days. May the Lord Jesus bless you now and always.
I am going to write a series of 4 articles on miracles, based upon a podcast I listened to, and was inspired by, by Tim McGrew. The articles are really handy for defending the faith and they take a look at miracles from a philosophical perspective.
Links to all 4 articles are given below:
Dr Frank Turek:
In an age of scientific enlightenment, can we really believe in miracles? Particularly miracles of the bible, in particular the New Testament. Many atheists say miracles are impossible, some even claim they are anti-scientific. Some may even claim that science can disprove miracles. And isn’t the evidence always better to say that a miracle has NOT occurred than to say that a miracle has occurred? We may also cover the objection many atheists bring up: if your God can do miracles why doesn’t He heal amputees? And didn’t the New Testament writers just make up the resurrection story? These are all questions we’re going to try to get to today if we get time. Tim McGrew is currently looking at miracles from a philosophical perspective, it’s a very intense area of research for him. He teaches at Western Michigan University. And recently he has been doing a lot of research into the dialogue David Hume and his opponents and supporters had back in the 1700’s on this issue of miracles.
All this began by my doing a piece on miracles for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. One thing that came out as I was doing the research to write that piece is that although David Hume is important in the conversation, he neither started nor ended it. Many of the points he raises have already been raised by other people in the debate and they have been responded to. So there are many different voices in the debate, up to the present time.
Some three years ago the John Templeton Foundation decided to fund a grant doing research on this perspective and my task has been to create an online database which will contain all perspectives, all voices and, more importantly, it will link them up to see who was responding to whom. You can then trace the controversy and read their works there on the website. We will be putting that online soon: it’s a great research tool, for laypersons and scholars alike.
Dr Frank Turek:
What was Hume’s main argument against miracles, Tim?
There are two parts to this:
There’s some interpretive dispute about this but it seems he is saying that the idea of a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. So if a miracle occurred the laws of nature are false. But the evidence we have for the laws of nature is the best evidence we can have for any kind of empirical claim. And since it’s the best we can imagine having and the testimony to a miracle is at best a weaker kind of argument, science wins, miracles lose, and it can never be reasonable to believe in a reported miracle. That, in a nutshell, is the way most people read the first part of Hume’s argument against miracles.
After that he gets into subsidiary arguments in the second section. In that section he talks of things like: were the people who testified to a miracle highly educated, did they do it in a notable “theatre of the world” (so other eyes could be watching them and catching them out if they were falsifying things), were they men of wealth, prestige and power so they had a lot to lose if they were shown to be misrepresenting the facts, aren’t there miracles from many religions thereby cross-cancelling each other and leaving us back where we started?
All of the above arguments Hume brought up in part 2. But all of these arguments had been canvassed before he wrote. His main contribution therefore to the debate was in part 1.
Dr Frank Turek:
Would it be fair to say Tim that Hume’s argument against miracles was more epistemological than ontological? In other words, he was making the point that we can’t really know if we have a miracle. He wasn’t saying miracles are impossible ontologically, that there’s no way they can happen. The argument against a miracle claim (epistomologically) is always better, in his view, than the evidence for it.
You hear this quite frequently when I go to campus colleges, the atheists will say, “Well…extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Miracles are extraordinary claims and you have to have extraordinary evidence for that. What would you say in response to that?
Well I guess the first thing I would ask is: what do you mean by extraordinary evidence? Do you mean one gigantic piece of evidence or – as in many other areas of life – can we build a very strong case by a bunch of ordinary pieces of evidence that all point in the same direction? There are claims that are improbable, for example, that my cousin will win the lottery with a ticket he has bought is an improbable claim. And yet, if he sees the winning number announced on television and phones me up and says, “I’ve got it! I’ve got the winning ticket!” I have plenty of reasons to believe him. We believe in the improbable all the time and are perfectly reasonable in so doing so we shouldn’t use “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” as a stick to beat people with who might sometimes be justified in believing the improbable.
Dr Frank Turek:
It’s an interesting example you give. That your friend’s won the lottery is an improbable event. But the ordinary evidence, that he has the winning ticket, is enough for you to say, “He DID win the lottery, as improbable as that is.”
I hope you enjoyed part 1 of the five part series on miracles. Part 2 to follow tomorrow. May the Lord Jesus bless you now and always.
By S. Michael Houdmann: Supporter of Got Questions Ministries
From the earliest apostolic period, the reality of the empty tomb-the biblical truth that the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was found empty by His disciples-has been at the center of the Christian proclamation. All four Gospels describe, to varying degrees, the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-12). But are there any good reasons to think that these claims are historically accurate? Could a fair-minded investigator conclude that, in all probability, Jesus’ tomb was found empty on that first Easter morning? There are several arguments that have convinced a good many historians that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was indeed found empty on the Sunday following His crucifixion.
First, the location of Jesus’ tomb would have been known to Christians and non-Christians alike. While it is true that most victims of crucifixion were either thrown in a graveyard reserved for common criminals or simply left on the cross for birds and other scavengers to feed upon, the case of Jesus was different. The historical record indicates that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, the very group that had orchestrated Jesus’ execution. Many skeptical New Testament scholars have been convinced that Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to have been a Christian fabrication. Given the understandable hostility of the earliest Christians toward the Sanhedrin, whom they felt were largely responsible for their Master’s death, it is unlikely that Jesus’ followers would have invented a tradition about a member of the Sanhedrin using his own tomb to provide Jesus with a respectable burial.
In addition, recent archaeological discoveries have demonstrated that the style of tomb described in the burial accounts in the Gospels (an acrosolia or bench tomb) was largely used by the wealthy and other people of prominence. Such a description fits nicely with what we know of Joseph of Arimathea. Moreover, when we couple these considerations with the fact that Arimathea was a town of little importance that lacked any type of scriptural symbolism and that no competing burial tradition exists, any serious doubt that Jesus was buried in Joseph’s tomb is eliminated.
The significance of these facts should not be overlooked as the Sanhedrin would then have certainly known the location of Joseph’s tomb, and thus, where Jesus had been interred. And if the location of Jesus’ tomb was known to the Jewish authorities, it would have been nearly impossible for the Christian movement to have gained any traction in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus was known to have been buried. Would not any of the Jewish religious leaders have taken the short walk to Joseph’s tomb to verify this claim? Did not the Sanhedrin have every motivation to produce Jesus’ corpse (if it were available) and put an end to these rumors of a resurrected Jesus once and for all? The fact that Christianity began to gain converts in Jerusalem tells us that no corpse had been produced despite the Jewish religious leadership having every motivation to produce one. If Jesus’ crucified body had been produced, the Christian movement, with its emphasis on a resurrected Jesus, would have been dealt a lethal blow.
Second, the empty tomb is implied in the early oral formula quoted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. While all four Gospels attest to the vacancy of Jesus’ tomb, our earliest hint at the empty tomb comes from the Apostle Paul. Writing to the church at Corinth in approximately AD 55, Paul quotes an oral formula (or creed) that most scholars believe he received from the apostles Peter and James just five years after Jesus’ crucifixion (Galatians 1:18-19). Paul states, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). When Paul writes “…that he was buried, that he was raised…” it is strongly implied (given Paul’s Pharisaical background) that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty. For a Pharisee like Paul, what goes down in burial comes up in resurrection. Given that Paul’s source for this creed was most likely the Jerusalem apostles and their proximity to the events in question, Paul’s citation of this oral formula provides strong evidence that Jesus’ tomb had been found empty and that this fact was widely known in the early Christian community. The oft-repeated objection that Paul was unaware of an empty tomb is answered when we see that elsewhere Paul taught that Jesus’ resurrection was bodily in nature (Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:21). For Paul, a resurrection that did not produce a vacant tomb would have been a contradiction in terms.
Third, there appears to be strong enemy attestation of the existence of an empty tomb. The first of these comes from within the pages of the Gospel of Matthew itself where Matthew reports that there was an acknowledgment of the empty tomb by the Jewish leaders themselves (Matthew 28:13-15). They were claiming that the disciples had come and stolen away Jesus’ body. Given the proximity of the writing of Matthew’s Gospel to the event in question, such a claim would have been easy to disprove if untrue. For if Matthew were lying, his report of the Jewish response to the empty tomb proclamation could have easily been discredited as many of the contemporaries of the events in question would still have been alive when Matthew’s Gospel was initially circulating. But why would they accuse the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body if the tomb still contained the dead body of Jesus? The counter-accusation made by the Jews presupposes that the tomb was empty.
That the Jews accused the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body is corroborated by the Christian apologist Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century (Dialogue with Trypho, 108) and then again around AD 200 by the church father Tertullian (De Spectaculis, 30). Both Justin and Tertullian were interacting with the Jewish debaters of their day and were in a position to know what it was their Jewish opponents were saying. They were not simply relying on Matthew’s Gospel for their information. For both Justin and Tertullian mention specific details not found in the Gospel of Matthew. In fact, all three of these writers cite details not mentioned by the others. Based on these considerations, it appears that there was an early Jewish acknowledgement of an empty tomb.
Fourth, all four Gospels report that the tomb of Jesus was discovered empty by women. This point is especially significant given the patriarchal nature of first-century Palestine. While it is true that, under very limited circumstances, women were allowed to testify in a court of law, it is also the case that, in first-century Jewish society, a woman’s testimony was worth far less than that of a man. If you were making up a story in an attempt to persuade others that Jesus had been resurrected, you would never have used women as your primary witnesses. Any made-up story would have featured male disciples like Peter, John, or Andrew as the discoverers of the empty tomb, as the testimony of men would have provided much-needed credibility to the story.
Yet the Gospels report that, while Jesus’ male disciples were cowering in fear, hiding from the authorities, it was women who were the earliest witnesses of the empty tomb. There would simply be no reason for the early church to concoct such a scenario unless it was true. Why would the early Christians portray their male leadership as cowards and place females in the role of primary witnesses? One of these named female witnesses (Mary Magdalene) was said to have been possessed of seven devils earlier in her life, thus making her an even less reliable witness in the eyes of many. And yet, despite these evidential handicaps, the earliest Christians insisted that the first witnesses to the empty tomb were, in fact, women. The most likely explanation of this insistence is that these women were the initial witness of the empty tomb and that the earliest Christians were unwilling to lie about it despite its potentially embarrassing nature.
All four of these arguments help to provide cumulative proof that the tomb of Jesus Christ was empty on the first Easter. Particularly telling is the conclusion of historian Michael Grant, himself a skeptic of Jesus’ resurrection, “…if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was, indeed, found empty.”
This seminar was delivered by Dr Don Batten on 21/05/2016. This article is from notes I made so is not completely in keeping with what Dr Batten said though I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references have been taken from the Geneva Bible, published in 1599. The Geneva Bible is a little-known translation that was a beautiful precursor to today’s King James Bible. Highly recommended if you want to check it out, especially for the godly footnotes.
The evolution of a humanist mindset
Genesis 1:1, which is a Biblical Creationist’s manifesto, reads:
In the [b]beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Is that what people believe today? Sadly, no, it is not. We allegedly made ourselves, with a popular explanation of our origins being the big bang theory. This theory predominates among mass media outlets today such as ABC TV, channels 7 and 9…and people become slowly but surely convinced that this is the truth. A good exposition of the evolutionary worldview was given by Sir Julian Huxley, who stated:
“In the evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer either need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created: it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion.” (Essays of a Humanist, pp. 82–83, Penguin Books, UK, 1964 (1969 reprint)).
So in Sir Julian’s eyes, even religion “made itself” (quotes mine). What was actually evolving, however, was the humanist mindset.
Consequences of a humanist mindset in schools
Prior to 1962, there was no teaching of evolution in schools. In the 1960’s, in fact, most children went to church, attended Sunday school programs, and therefore had some knowledge of God. When Billy Graham visited Australia and preached that people were sinners who needed to repent and believe the gospel there was a huge response – as indicated a huge reduction in attendance at pubs and nightclubs.
Fast-forward to today. Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, of the Australian Labour Party, is an atheist who has decided that scripture will no longer be taught in schools. This is where our nation is going, unfortunately.
We might argue that the above doesn’t matter as adults are free to choose Christianity once they leave school. The first point to make in response to this is that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Being submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ is how one becomes saved in the first place: church attendance and prayer without saving faith just will not do. Yet church attendance for the saved is still important. As the old saying goes, if you take a coal out of the fire it loses its heat. You don’t stop believing but drift away spiritually and become lukewarm. Thankfully for us you can’t turn your back on something God has shown you to be true.
The second point is that most twenty-somethings put Christianity on the shelf following their spiritually active teen years (George Barna Group, September 11, 2006). Why is this? The common factor seems to be that around the age of 16 (year 10), most are taught the evolutionary worldview in depth in science classes. And this worldview destroys faith as it seems to contradict the Bible in many instances. This is where we start to lose kids spiritually.
The need for a creationist worldview
The creationist doesn’t just believe theological things about God. What we believe in God’s Word can be shown to be matched by God’s world. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 states, we are to bring others to this knowledge that they might be saved too, simply by:
Casting down the imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, [a]and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,
We are commanded to teach others how faith relates to the world around us. And the theory that everything made itself, the big bang theory, opposes God and we are to demolish these arguments. This is not a side issue, it’s fundamental to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our ministry, therefore, is fundamental to people learning the truth about God and being saved. If our ministry wasn’t about the gospel, I wouldn’t be involved.
Sadly, if you tell people today that they are sinners who need to repent, you don’t get the response we got in the 1960’s. The world is more wicked today, teaching such alleged truisms as “science disproves the Bible.” Our street preachers need CMI (Creation Ministries International). I could tell you many stories about people coming to faith through our Creation Magazine, for example.
Consequences of an evolutionary worldview
It helps here to consider that historical (forensic) science has three main features concerning an event:
Can’t do experiments to either prove or disprove the event
Operational (experimental) science contrasts with the above. In general, history studies the unrepeatable whereas science aims to study the repeatable.
Unfortunately, an evolutionary mindset indoctrinates students to a particular view of historical science and can impede operational science. An example of the latter concerns the belief that certain segments of DNA are “junk” DNA. It was later found that at least some of these sections are not redundant at all but are rather the source of some cancers. Others may have other functions, as outlined in an interesting article by Linda K Walkup: http://creation.com/junk-dna-evolutionary-discards-or-gods-tools
Is there any evidence for creationism in the world around us?
The Biblical account of creation states that on day six both land animals and man were created (see Genesis 1:24-31). If this is so, we would expect dinosaurs and people to have lived together. Do we have any evidence of this? Actually we do. There is abundant evidence from art around the world such as sculptures, paintings and tapestries. One interesting example concerns an ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seal that was found in modern-day Iraq. It appears to depict a dinosaur-like creature, possibly a tanystropheus (see image below):
Charles Darwin first noticed that different species of finches on the Galapagos Islands have variations in beak size and structure, which he posited was due to natural selection. While he correctly observed natural selection in play, it is important to realize that variation within a kind according to seasonal conditions, etc. does not prove macro-evolution (change from one kind to another). To state that it does is to indulge in equivocation or bait-and-switch, a logical fallacy whereby the acceptance of one premise by a person is falsely stated to indicate acceptance of another, more serious premise.
Furthermore, as Jean K Lightner theorises, observed variety in beaks due to natural selection does not explain the origin of the beaks themselves. The following article from her explores this: http://creation.com/finch-beaks
The Fossil Record
Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as reflected in the fossil record. Fossils are the remains or traces of organisms (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and other single-celled living things) that lived in the geological past and are preserved in the crust of the Earth.
It is interesting to learn that there is no evidence in the fossil record either for jumps from one kind of organism to another. As such, scientists now talk about DNA “proving” evolution, leaving the fossil record with its alleged common ancestors alone.
An example of spurious reasoning from flimsy fossil evidence can be found by considering Ardipithecus Ramidus Kadabba, a supposed common ancestor of man. This ancestor was identified and classified based merely upon a single toe bone (Times Magazine cover story, 23rd July, 2001).
Dr Mary Schweitzer’s dangerous discovery
A further shocking discovery confounding evolutionists was made by paleontologist Dr Mary Schweitzer and reported on by Science 307 in March 2005. This was her observation of fresh tissue in a T-Rex femur sample (see image below):
A close examination of image A above shows what clearly seems to be elastic tissue, contradicting evolutionist’s theories that the sample had survived for over 65 million years. Image B shows another instance of “fresh appearance” which similarly makes it hard to believe in the “millions of years” theory. Finally, image C shows regions of bone where the fibrous structure is still present, compared to most fossil bones which lack this structure. These bones are claimed to be million of years old, yet they manage to retain this structure?
Because carbon 14 decays so quickly, we can logically infer that if any is still present in a rock sample, it can’t be millions of years old. So evolutionists cannot use this technique to accurately time-clock the age of the earth. More on this here:
It is logical to state that you must add stacks more information to the DNA of a microbe to change it into a horse. To change it into a human being, a creature of far greater complexity, even more information must be added. Where does this information come from?
The most likely explanation is that it comes from mutations, accidental mistakes from one generation to another. These can also be simply viewed as copying mistakes when the DNA of cells are replicated. This is the only way evolutionists can explain their theory of information being added from one generation to the next.
However, there is a problem with the above. We would expect such copying accidents to mess up the information that is being copied. And this is in fact what we see in many examples of mutant creatures such as the TNR rooster, a poor creature which has no feathers:
Mutations are in almost all cases deleterious to an organism being replicated, causing a net negative effect by loss or corruption of information. This fact is often not explained in schools, sadly, with mutations being trumped as the mechanism by which evolution can explain away the God of the Bible.
It is interesting to reflect that nowhere do we see websites proclaiming our gradual evolution into super-humans such as X-Men. Rather, we see sites devoted to the outlining of mutations that cause disease and disability in humans such as sickle cell anaemia, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and hemochromatosis. We can generalise from this and say then that inherited diseases are caused by mutations in DNA.
We will next consider a sophisticated cellular transport mechanism that is present in complex cells such as ours (eukaryotic) but not in simple ones like microbes. This mechanism is called kinesin, which can be thought of as similar to a docker who loads and unloads packages from ships. The parcel carried by the kinesin in complex cells is packaged up in the golgi apparatus of the cell. The golgi reads the address label contained on the package then sends it to its destination in the cell via kinesin. One example of a package that might be transported is protein, which would be processed by mitochondria in the cell after being sent from the golgi.
Interestingly, as stated above, microbes appear to lack kinesin. How is it then that more complex cells contain it, given that we have just seen that DNA mutations required to produce kinesin cause a net loss of information, rather than a gain? The kinesin is a sophisicated cellular machinery pointing to an intelligent Creator who made everything. More on this topic can be explored by referencing this article: http://creation.com/incredible-kinesin
Natural selection is not the same as evolution (which could be either big jumps in time or gradual change over time from one kind of creature to another). It doesn’t create information. And mutations don’t create information either. Evolution is therefore an impossible process.
Yet evolution is held onto in schools because of its religious implications. If evolution can be proven to have started and maintained the world around us, then we have true freedom from God. If there is no design, and no Designer, we can live life according to our own terms. This is clearly an appealing prospect for groups in the USA such as FFR.org (Freedom From Religion). They are focused on indoctrinating people away from the God of the Bible towards Darwinism. Should we praise Darwin (see below)? For the faithful, thinking Christian, clearly the answer is no:
This is not a side issue. It’s fundamental to our faith and to the gospel. All of God’s Word is relevant and true and to be defended, with the New Testament writers (including our Lord) clearly indicating that they followed and believed the Old Testament scriptures including Genesis. We are called to engage with these issues with our mind as well as our heart. As it is written:
37 Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy [a]soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)
Is there evidence for a global flood?
The Fossil Record
With eyes open only to the theory of evolution, the fossil record appears to show suffering and death that occurred over millions of years. Yet the Bible says that God pronounced creation to be “very good” on day six, after man and land animals were created:
31 And God saw all that he had made, and lo, it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
The two perspectives clearly don’t harmonise. In 1 Corinthians 15:45, the last Adam (Christ) is clearly connected with the first:
45 [a]As it is also written, The [b]first man Adam was made a living soul: and the last Adam was made a [c]quickening spirit.
If the first Adam spoken of in Genesis was not a real person, then there was no need at all for Jesus Christ to die on the cross.
With eyes open to the gospel of Jesus Christ, however, the fossil record can be viewed in an alternative fashion, as a mass kill graveyard and evidence of a worldwide flood. The fossils we see then, embedded in horizontal layers that were laid down quickly and catastrophically (as we will discuss later), are evidence of death and suffering due to sin.
Adam and Eve rebelled against God in Genesis 3, then were cursed. By Genesis 6, the depravity of man had become so intractable that God pronounced judgement on the entire world and sought to cleanse it by water. Only Noah and his family, with representatives of all the major land animal kinds on earth (only the major kinds were needed, as these could genetically diversify again once the flood was over), were spared.
A Landmark Reference Book
So we can see that death and suffering, evidenced by the fossil record, was not the original order of God, who created everything to be good and perfect. We also understand that the Biblical flood is the key to understanding earth’s history. A landmark reference book for creationists is “The Genesis Flood” by Henry Morris and John C Whitcomb:
The book ably defends the premise that Noah’s flood was real, pointing out that Noah would not have bothered to build a boat to escape a local flood, he would merely have emigrated to another area. And the boat Noah built had of necessity a great carrying capacity, being described in the Bible as 300 cubits (or approximately 143 meters) long. It had then a total capacity of around 15,000 tonnes. Furthermore, Korean architects showed that its shape would have been highly stable in huge seas.
Is there evidence for catastrophic deposition of earth’s layers?
The Grand Canyon
In the diagram below, the Kiabab Upwarp clearly shows layers of the Grand Canyon bending at the same physical point across allegedly millions of years of time. How can this be? A more sensible explanation is that the layers were soft when bent so that they didn’t fracture.
Little Grand Canyon
The existence of this Georgian landmark shows that layers such as those observed in the Grand Canyon can be carved out in very short time periods. We know that a mudflow carved this out in less than one day in 1980. Hence millions of years are not necessarily needed for such formations (see image below):
There is heaps of evidence for the Bible’s account of a world-wide flood. Our children need to know this. So don’t apologise when evangelising evolutionists. We can trust the Bible’s account of what happened with our very lives and state unequivocally that God’s Word matches God’s world. This is fundamental to sharing the gospel with people, especially in today’s world. As 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, we are to:
…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, [b]and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and reverence.
So we are to gently share the evidence that our faith is well founded.
Tools for evangelism
1. Question Evolution tract
CMI have a “question evolution” tract, 15 Questions for Evolutionists, that provides 15 critically important questions that evolutionists cannot adequately answer. The tract contains a QR code which can be scanned by a barcode app on an iPhone or Android phone. Your phone is then taken to the right page on creation.com which answers the questions.
Or you can download your own A4-sized PDF copy for free here, then print off copies:
The plain letter size can be downloaded here:
2. Creation Magazine
This beautiful publication is a 56-page full-color family magazine that gives God the glory, refutes evolution, and gives you the answers to defend your faith and uphold the true history of the world found in Genesis. Although written for laypeople, every effort is made to make sure the content is technically accurate so that even experts can rarely fault it. And children look forward to the section written specially for them, in each issue.
Kindly note that you can also buy digital copies of the magazine, which may be viewed on computer, tablet or mobile phone. These may be shared with up to 5 other people so are great for online witnessing and evangelism. Back issues of the magazine are also available for just $1.00.
3. Journal of Creation
This journal brings you in-depth, peer-reviewed comment, reviews and the latest research findings that relate to origins and the biblical account of Creation, the Flood and the Fall. It covers a wide spectrum of studies, not just science. Powerful articles have appeared on topics such as philosophy, theology, history, archaeology, social sciences and many more. This is a great complement to Creation magazine, providing in-depth material from many experts in their field to satisfy the inquiring mind.
Open Google Playstore or iTunes from your Android or iPhone, then search for Creation Ministries International. The app is free and gives you access to articles, tours and events, Creation Magazine and the Journal of Creation.
5. CMI for mobile
If you have an internet-enabled mobile phone, just type in creation.com or creation.mobi to access a fully functional mobile version of CMI’s website.
6. Infobytes newsletter
Infobytes is a weekly CMI newsletter featuring articles on the front line of the creationism/evolutionism debate.
This atheist argument has been very popularly restated as, “Who designed the designer?” This is, by his own admission, the very central argument of Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.
The following quotations demonstrate the ubiquity of the argument:
Richard Dawkins (in The Blind Watchmaker) wrote, “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer.”
Prominent atheist, Christopher Hitchens, like others, asks the philosophically naïve question, Who created the Creator? The answer is in Sunday School 101.
Prominent atheist, Christopher Hitchens, like others, asks the philosophically naïve question, “Who created the Creator?” The answer is in Sunday School 101.
Christopher Hitchens (in God Is Not Great) wrote, “who designed the designer or created the creator? Religion and theology have consistently failed to overcome this objection.”
Daniel Dennett (in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea) references Richard Dawkins and declares that it is an “unrebuttable refutation, as devastating today as when Philo used it to trounce Cleanthes in Hume’s Dialogues two centuries earlier.”
And of course, Richard Dawkins (in The God Delusion) quotes Daniel Dennett who is quoting Richard Dawkins and proclaims that Daniel Dennett is correct in approving of Richard Dawkins!
This argument, although very popular and promulgated by atheist scientists and even atheist philosophers, is a premier example of what is generally termed “Sunday School Atheism”. It is called this because it is a Sunday School level question and one that Sunday School children are able to answer before achieving puberty.
God is eternal and thus does not need a cause.
To elucidate a bit, in the next section we will consider the cosmological argument which makes clear that everything that begins to exist has a sufficient cause. Since God never began to exist, God did not have a cause.
But is not claiming that God is eternal a mere way out of the problem of who made God? No.
Since time began to exist, time had a cause. Since time began to exist, whatever caused time is timeless (aka infinite or eternal). It is the linear time that we experience that makes cause and effect relationships possible: an effect follows a cause. Yet, since God exists outside of, or without, time, cause and effect relationships are impossible and thus God is the uncaused/uncausable first cause. It was God’s first action of creation that brought the space-time continuum into being and set cause and effect relationships into motion. Therefore, in God’s timeless realm there is no such question as “Who made God?” since this is a time space domain based question which simply does not apply. It is like asking “To whom is the bachelor married?”
Note, however, that atheists have no problem believing in an uncaused first cause, at least when it is not supernatural, but Nature, as they promulgate the following assertions:
It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God made everything out of nothing.
It is rational and scientific to believe that nothing made everything out of nothing.
It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God is eternal.
It is rational and scientific to believe that matter (or energy) is eternal.
God is an effect and must have had a cause.
Matter/energy is the uncaused first cause.
If God made everything, then who made God?
Matter made everything and nothing made matter.
. “This chapter has contained the central argument of my book…who designed the designer”: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.), 2006), pp. 157–158.
. Sarfati, J., If God created the universe, then who created God? Journal of Creation 12(1):20–22, 1998; .
Question: “What is Christadelphianism, and what do Christadelphians believe?”
I asked myself this recently while speaking with a lady at work, who testified that she had come across this “interesting” belief system in an acquaintance of hers. In short, Christadelphians deny the deity of Christ, the reality of Satan, and the immortality of souls. Their doctrine has departed from the sound testimony a plain reading of the Bible gives and, if followed, is spiritual poison. I later did some digging for a solid, biblically-based article explaining Christadelphianism, and came up with an excellent example from http://www.gotquestions.org. They have kindly allowed people to reproduce their articles on external websites, with proper attribution, as given below:
Answer: The Christadelphian sect was founded in 1838 by John Thomas, a London-born physician-turned-Bible teacher. Like the founders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists, Thomas believed he alone had found the truth of real Christianity. One wonders how these men could “study” the Bible and come to the conclusion that God would leave humanity floundering in the darkness of error and apostasy for 1800 years, only to finally reveal Himself to one man. Nevertheless, that is what John Thomas taught.
Christadelphianism teaches the same two lies as literally every cult and false religion: it denies the deity of Jesus Christ and preaches a works-based salvation. Regarding the deity of Christ, Christadelphianism teaches that Jesus was more than a man, but less than God. According to A. Hayward, in Great News for the World, p. 41, Jesus was a created being with “strength of character to right some of the most appalling wrongs of his time.” Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a sinful nature and he, too, needed salvation from sin, that he was not pre-existent and did not come into existence until he was born in Bethlehem. The Bible declares that Jesus was sinless. He “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22); “in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5); He “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); He was “tempted in every way… yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). That Jesus was pre-existent is also evident from such passages as John 1, where He (the Word) was “in the beginning with God” (v. 2) and that all things that were created “were created through him” (v. 3) and that “he became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Denying that Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity is another universal characteristic of cults.
The second universally taught lie is that of salvation by works. The Christadelphians believe that faith in Christ is the beginning point, but salvation is by no means completed there. While they do claim to teach “salvation by grace,” that claim is buried beneath a landslide of demands for works righteousness. Salvation to the Christadelphians is a process, is not given at the point of faith in Christ, is dependent upon “belief in the covenants,” good works and baptism. Salvation, they believe, is the gift of God, but only bestowed on those whose works merit it. The Bible clearly teaches that “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), that works cannot save us, and that no one can keep even the smallest part of the law. “For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:10). The Law, works, and personal righteousness are powerless to save us. Only faith in Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross can save us (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; John 3:16). We are saved by faith alone, in Christ alone. “For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If, as the Christadelphians teach, we must merit our salvation through our own efforts, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21), and the free gift described in Ephesians 2:8-9 is not free at all.
Other unbiblical beliefs of the Christadelphians include the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force; man does not have an immortal soul; Satan is not a personal being, but merely a synonym for any adversary; death is unconsciousness or annihilation; and heaven and hell are myths. Rather than restoring true Christianity, the Christadelphians deny the basic doctrines clearly outlined in the Bible and, as such, are like all false religions – a lie from the father of lies, Satan, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, has written a provocative blog post titled ‘The truth behind ISIL‘.
He says it is “time to face the truth that Islam itself is in part to blame, and to help our fellow Australians, especially those from Islamic background, to understand that Islam is false”.
“We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins.”
“Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution.”
“None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.”
The Lord brought a special scripture to my mind tonight while I was pondering the vast difference between what the Koran teaches compared to the Bible. The God of the Bible is kind and merciful to His enemies, as evidenced by Him waiting for at least 80 years for people to repent while Noah built the ark. While Islam preaches force and submission, especially to apostates, the Bible teaches us that we should:
“…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
So we should pray for those who are caught up in Islam’s false religion: people’s lives, happiness, and their very souls are at stake.