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Den of Lambs

Christian Defense of the Faith

Halloween

All Hallows Eve

Traditionally, there have been two parts of the Church.  The Church is best known to be the local body of believers or the universal body of Christ.  The part of the Church that is often forgotten, however, according to traditional Christian theology, is the Ecclesia.

All Saints' DayThe Ecclesia is composed of two parts:  the ecclesia triumphans and the ecclesia militans or the church triumphant and the militant church.

We, as believers, are still engaged in the earthly struggle of the Great Commission, we are part of the ecclesia militans.  Those that have gone on to glory before us is the ecclesia triumphans; our brothers and sisters that are already with Christ.  It is they who we remember on All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day.

For All the Saints

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,

Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;

Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;

Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,

Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,

Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:

Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,

And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,

Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,

Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,

Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,

And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,

Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,

And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;

Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;

Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

The saints triumphant rise in bright array;

The King of glory passes on His way.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,

Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia, Alleluia! [1]

[1] William Walsham How, For All the Saints (1864)

Vestigial Structures

As I became a Believer in the spring of 2003, I remember hearing of the concept of “vestigial structures.” Vestigial structures are body parts that once had a purpose  but somewhere along the way, due to evolution, they lost their functionality. Over the years, I had heard refutation of this concept in popular literature so imagine my surprise when I recently heard vestigial structures, once again, proffered as a proof of evolution and an argument against theism.

The Appendix

The appendix is a tube-shaped sac that’s attached to the large intestine. Seemingly without function, Charles Darwin proposed that it was once used by primates to digest leaves and has long been used by atheists to argue for evolution.  Recent research from theappendix Duke University Medical Center, however, suggests that the appendix serves as a “reservoir” for beneficial gut flora. When illness reduces good bacteria from the intestines, the appendix may store some of that good bacteria for back up [1] It’s also been shown that individuals without an appendix may be four times more likely to suffer from recurrent Clostridium difficile colitis, an irritation of the large intestine by spore-forming bacteria. [2]

The Coccyx

coccyxEvolutionary biologists suggest that the coccyx would be where the tail was attached to the skeleton. Since tails on humans have been selected against in nature, the coccyx is unnecessary in modern day humans. Yet, it is still a part of the human skeleton. But, the coccyx serves as an attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It also functions as an insertion point of some of the muscles of the pelvic floor. The coccyx also functions to support and stabilize a person while he or she is in a sitting position. [3]

Wisdom Teeth

It has been suggested that since wisdom teeth give a great many people a lot of trouble, and that chewing is not impaired when they are surgically removed, this third and final set of molars have no modern function.  Anthropologists have said that the human jaw is smaller now than it was just 300 years ago, because we chew less. The bones we use more get more developed. But this would not be an evolutionary change. In evolutionary theory, the genes change. It is now understood that the problem was seldom seen in pre-industrial societies. It has been discovered that the way in which soft foodstuffs have come to be preferred to harder ones, over the last few hundred years in particular, has negatively affected the way the human jaw develops. It has thus been realized that most wisdom tooth troubles emerge as a result of jaw development problems relating to dietary habits. [4]

Male Nipples

It is suggested that nipples in male mammals illustrate a constrained evolutionary result. In a now-famous paper, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin emphasize that we should not immediately assume that every trait has an adaptive explanation. Just as the spandrels of St. Mark’s domed cathedral in Venice are simply an architectural consequence of the meeting of a vaulted ceiling with its supporting pillars, the presence of nipples in male mammals is a genetic architectural by-product of nipples in females. So, why do men have nipples? Because females do.[5]

[1] R. Randal Bollinger, Andrew S. Barbas, Errol L. Bush, Shu S. Lin, William Parker. Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Volume 249, Issue 4, 21 December 2007, Pages 826-831.

[2] Rob Dunn. Your Appendix Could Save Your Life. Scientific American.

[3] http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/coccyx

[4] http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/20questions12.html

[5] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-men-have-nipples/

800 Years? Really?

First century Roman-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews — Book I wrote: “Now when Noah had lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, and that all that time happily, he died: having lived the number of nine hundred and fifty years. But let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think, that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life: for those ancients were beloved of God, and [lately] made by God himself: and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years. And besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries…”

Old manRecently, I became aware of a discussion between a Christian and an atheist about the longevity of biblical figures.  The atheist was incredulous that the Christian believed that someone could live for 800 years.

“Lol 800 years? Really?” the atheist asked, “800 years? Science which surrounds you every day. What you used to reply to this post, brought to you by science means nothing? But you read in some ancient fairytale text that someone lived 800 years and you believe it?”

It seems, though, that the Bible is not the only ancient text that has listed life spans of more than 800 years.  Ancient writings from many cultures have listed life spans that most modern people (including myself) find unbelievable. Could the dating be misunderstandings in translation, or maybe the numbers are merely symbolic?   Is it possible that there are arguments that leave the historian wondering whether the human lifespan has actually decreased so significantly over thousands of years?
One theory is that in the ancient Near East, the understanding of a year was different than our concept of a modern calendar year. Perhaps a year meant an orbit of the moon (a month) instead of an orbit of the earth around the sun (12 months). If we extrapolate, while it brings the age of the biblical figure Adam down from 930 to 77 at the time of hisold woman death, it also means he would have fathered his son Enoch at the age of 11. And Enoch would have only been 5 years old when he fathered Methuselah.
Similar inconsistencies arise when we adjust the year figures to represent seasons instead of solar orbits. Carol A. Hill in her article “Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis,” published in the journal “Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith” in December 2003 noted, “Numbers [in Genesis] could have both real (numerical) and sacred (numerological or symbolic) meaning,”
In both Genesis and in the 4,000-year-old Sumerian King List—which lists the reigns of single kings in Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) as exceeding 30,000 years in some cases—there is a steady decline in lifespans. Genesis and the King List differentiates between pre-flood and post-flood reigns. The pre-flood reigns are significantly longer than the post-flood, though even post-flood lifespans are shown to be several hundred years. In the Bible, we see a  decline over the generations from Adam’s 930-year life, to Noah’s 500 years, to Abraham’s 175.

In ancient China, accounts of super-centenarians were also commonplace, according to many texts. Acupuncturist Joseph P. Hou, Ph.D., wrote in his book “Healthy Longevity Techniques”: “According to Chinese medical records, a doctor named Cuie Wenze of the Qin dynasty lived to be 300 years old. Gee Yule of the later Han dynasty lived to be 280 years old. A high ranking Taoist master monk, Hui Zhao, lived to be 290 years old and Lo Zichange lived to be 180 years old. As recorded in the The Chinese Encyclopedia of Materia Medica, He Nengci of the Tang dynasty lived to be 168 years old. A Taoist master, Li Qingyuan, lived to be 250 years old. In modern times, a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, Lo Mingshan of Sichuan province, lived to be 124 years old.” According to Guinness World Records, the greatest fully authenticated age was Jeanne Louise Calment who lived to 122 years and 164 days. At the writing of this blog, Holocaust survivor Mr Israel Kristal of Haifa, Israel, is the world’s oldest person at the age of 112 years and 287 days.
Someday we’ll know, but for now, skeptics as well as believers are left either to believe what ancient records have to say about astonishing lifespans, or to consider the accounts as exaggerations or misunderstandings. For many, though, if we were created to live for eternity (Gen 2:16-17), an earthly existence of less than a millennium is actually a drop in the bucket.

Modern Science Points To A Supernatural Beginning To The Universe

The universe had a beginning. Robert Jastrow, American astronomer and planetary physicist, who was a leading NASA scientist, populist author and futurist who served as the director of the Mount Wilson observatory in Los Angeles, California, had much to say about that.  Jastrow was the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. His impeccable credientials as a scientist is the reason why his book God and theThe universe Astronomers made such an impression on those investigating the implications of the Big Bang, namely those asking the question “Does the Big Bang point to God?” In chapter 1, Jastrow writes, “When an astronomer writes about God, his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. In my case it should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in religious matters.”

In light of Jastrow’s personal agnosticism, his theistic quotations are all the more provocative. After explaining some of the Big Bang evidence, Jastrow writes, “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”  Jastrow to observe in an interview.

Jastrow echoes the conclusion of Einstein’s contemporary Arthur Eddington by evoking the supernatural. As an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician of the early 20th century who did his greatest work in astrophysics, Eddington found it “repugnant” that “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

Why would Jastrow and Eddington admit that there are “supernatural” forces at work? Why ­couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Simply because natural forces– indeed all of nature– were created at the Big Bang. Time, space, and matter came into existence at the Big Bang.   In other words, there were no natural forces or natural laws prior to the Big Bang. Since a cause cannot come after its effect, natural forces or natural laws cannot account for the beginning of the universe. Therefore, the cause must be something outside of nature; supernatural.

The Nobel Laureates and discoverers of the cosmic microwave background radiation (evidence for a hot early universe), Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, were also not theists. Both initially believed in the Steady State Theory (which states that the universe has always existed and will continue to survive without noticeable change). But due to the mounting evidence, they’ve since acknowledged facts that are consistent with the Bible. Penzias admits, “The Steady State theory turned out to be so ugly that people dismissed it. The easiest way to fit the observations with the least number of parameters was one in which the universe was created out of nothing, in an instant, and continues to expand.”

Wilson, who once took a class from the man who popularized the Steady State Theory in 1948, Fred Hoyle said, “I philosophically liked the Steady State. And clearly I’ve had to give that up.” When science writer Fred Heeren asked him if the Big Bang evidence is indicative of a Creator, Wilson responded, “Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”  George Smoot echoed Wilson’s assessment. He said, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the Big Bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”

Robert Jastrow ends his book, God and the Astronomers with this classic line:  “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Amusing The Goats

The unofficial father of the seeker movement in the United States, Bill Hybels, recently admitted that seeker churches have done a very poor job of making disciples. The irony here it that making disciples is what Jesus commanded us to do! So, why has the seeker movement failed in the church if it is our central purpose?

Lack of attention span: Services (Worship to dismissal) don’t last longer than 45 minutes to an hour, max. If the pastor goes even a little longer, apologies abound and the congregation gets restless.
Lack of deep Biblical teaching: In a lot of cases, you can leave your Bible at home– the pastor handles the Bible reading which is normally pulled from its context and often superficial. Most of the sermon is based on social application and therPulpite is no attempt to teach you how to study the scriptures on your own.
Lack of true worship: Though musicians are often extremely talented, modern worship has turned into a performance; a concert in which active participation by the congregation is usually non-existent.
Lack of theology: The repackaged, every Sunday, sermon is often of little value other than to make you feel good for the next few days. Sound Biblical theology is often missing.

What is the outcome?  Believers are often left with cotton candy theology; tastes great but no nutritional value.  If a Believer is to “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matt 28:19, they must have sound theology and the armor of apologetics to  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

Unfortunately, most other denominations are not doing much better. We’re loosing 75% of our young people because– instead of making disciples who are in awe of God and devoted to His purposes– a majority of churches from most denominations are producing shallow narcissists obsessed with themselves and their own happiness.

What we fail to realize is that what we win them with is what we win them to. If we win them with superficiality, societal outreach, entertainment, and unsophisticated theology, that is exactly what we will win them to. Charles Spurgeon was way ahead of his time when he implored the church to start “feeding the sheep rather than amusing the goats.”

Was The Origin Of Life On Earth Dumb Luck?

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  (Gen 1:11)

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”  (Gen 1:20)

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds:the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. (Gen 1:24)

The views of theism versus naturalism with regards to the origin of life couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.  On one hand, you have creation of life by a divine intelligence. On the other hand you have a random combination of inanimate materials, in an unguided process, evolving into complex animate organisms also know as “dumb luckDavid Berlinski.”

For the moment, no one knows precisely how short strands of polynucleotides—the stuff that makes up our DNA and RNA molecules—would stick together to form longer chains eventually allowing an RNA molecule to form that could self-replicate so life would begin. No one has conducted an experiment leading to a self-replicating ribozyme. But the minimum length or “sequence” that is needed for a contemporary ribozyme to undertake what the distinguished geochemist Gustaf Arrhenius calls “demonstrated ligase activity” is known. It is roughly 100 nucleotides.

Whereupon, just as one might expect, things blow up very quickly. As Arrhenius notes, there are 4100, or roughly 1060 nucleotide sequences that are 100 nucleotides in length. This is an unfathomably large number. It exceeds the number of atoms in the universe, as well as the age of the universe in seconds. If the odds in favor of self-replication are 1 in 1060, no betting man would take them, no matter how attractive the payoff, and neither presumably would nature.1

Following that description, American philosopher and author David Berlinski notes that Arrhenius seeks to escape his own dilemma by proposing that such long self-replicating sequences may not have been as rare in the primeval earth as they are today. He then answers:

Why should self-replicating RNA molecules have been common 3.6 billion years ago when they are impossible to discern under laboratory conditions today? No one, for that matter, has ever seen a ribozyme capable of any form of catalytic action that is not very specific in its sequence and thus unlike even closely related sequences. No one has ever seen a ribozyme able to undertake chemical action without a suite of enzymes in attendance. No one has ever seen anything like it.

The odds, then, are daunting; and when considered realistically, they are even worse than this already alarming account might suggest. The discovery of a single molecule with the power to initiate replication would hardly be sufficient to establish replication. What template would it replicate against? We need, in other words, at least two, causing the odds of their joint discovery to increase from 1 in 1060 to 1 in 10120. Those two sequences would have been needed in roughly the same place. And at the same time. And organized in such a way as to favor base pairing. And somehow held in place. And buffered against competing reactions. And productive enough so that their duplicates would not at once vanish in the soundless sea.

In contemplating the discovery by chance of two RNA sequences a mere forty nucleotides in length, Joyce and Orgel concluded that the requisite “library” would require 1048 possible sequences. Given the weight of RNA, they observed gloomily, the relevant sample space would exceed the mass of the Earth. And this is the same Leslie Orgel, it will be remembered, who observed that “it was almost certain that there once was an RNA world.” 2

This section of Berlinski’s article deals with just one step of a multi-step process that would fashion the first life. Other pieces include the advancement from self-replicating RNA to a fully working cell producing the appropriate amino acids and nucleic acids to function as well as assembling the right nucleic acids to construct the polynucleotides to begin with. And we haven’t even factored in the problem of chirality.  However, looking at Berlinski’s numbers alone, it seems clear that a reasonable person would not assume life came about by dumb luck.

References

1. Berlinski, David. “On the Origin of Life.” The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science. By Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski. Wilmington: ISI, 2011. 286. Print.
2. Berlinski, 2011. 286-287.
Image courtesy Toni Lozano [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Founders Of The United States Were Not Christians. Huh?

Founding FathersDespite many attempts at revising the history of this great country, efforts have fallen short.  One need not be a scholar (or an effective researcher for that matter) to see that the lives, spoken words, and writings of the Founders are replete with all manner of belief in a higher power.  Indeed, whether they called themselves Congregationalists, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Catholic, the Founders of this great land were certainly influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Echoes of a Supreme Creator and the Natural Law

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence  leaves no doubt to the world-view of its authors:
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”Declaration of Independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

After listing a “history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States.” The authors and signers conclude:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliance, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

One may argue that Deism as well as all of the great monotheisms refer to a Creator but a Supreme Judge rules out Deism or the belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws.  Judaism and Islam are also ruled out because of their doctrine.

Religious Affiliations of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

CONNECTICUT: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott – All Congregationalists

DELAWARE: Ceasar Rodney, George Read – Both Episcopalian, Thomas McKean – Presbyterian

GEORGIA: Button Gwinnett – Episcopalian/Congregationalist, Lyman Hall – Congregationalist, George Walton – Episcopalian

MARYLAND: Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, William Paca – All Episcopalian, Charles Carroll – Catholic

MASSACHUSETTS: John Hancock, Samuel Adams – Both Congregationalists, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine – Both Congregationalist/Unitarian

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple – Both Congregationalists,  Matthew Thornton – Presbyterian

NEW JERSEY: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, John Hart, Abraham Clark – All Presbyterian, Francis Hopkinson – Episcopalian

NEW YORK: William Floyd, Philip Livingston – Both Presbyterian,  Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris – Both Episcopalian

NORTH CAROLINA: William Hooper, John Penn – Both Episcopalian, Joseph Hewes – Quaker/Episcopalian,

PENNSYLVANIA: Robert Morris, George Ross, John Morton – Episcopalian, Benjamin Rush, George Taylor,  James Smith – All Presbyterian , James Wilson – Episcopalian/Presbyterian, George Clymer – Quaker/Episcopalian, Benjamin Franklin – Deist,

RHODE ISLAND: Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins – Both Episcopalian, William Ellery – Congregationalist

SOUTH CAROLINA: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Authur Middleton – All Episcopalian

VIRGINIA: , Francis Lightfoot Lee, George Wythe, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Carter Braxton, Richard Henry Lee – All Episcopalian, Thomas Jefferson – Deist [2]

Other Founders

George WashingtonGeorge Washington, who needs no introduction, certainly was a religious man. The letter below was written by George Washington’s adopted daughter (also his step-granddaughter) Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis Lewis. It was written in 1833 in response to author Jared Sparks [who compiled a set of Washington’s Writings] request for info on Washington’s religious beliefs for a book he was writing that was published under the title “The Life of Washington”.

Mrs. Parke Custis Lewis writes, “I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men.” He communed with his God in secret.

Samuel Adams, one of the leaders of the movement that became the American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism  writes, “The right to freedom is the gift of God Almighty….The rights of the Colonists as Christians may be best understood by reading, and carefully studying the institutes of the great Lawgiver and head of the Christian Church: which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” [3]

James Madison, instrumental in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and as the key champion and author of the Bill of Rights, accepted Christian tenets generally and formed his outlook on life within a Christian world view. [4]

Alexander Hamilton, a signer of the Constitution and one of America’s most preeminent founding fathers, was author of 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers, which powerfully made the case for ratifying the Constitution. Shortly after the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Hamilton stated: “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”

Finally, the attitude and beliefs of the Founders of this nation is eloquently declared by John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

God bless America…

[1] The 5000 Year Leap, Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, June 1981, pg. 39

[2] http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html

[3] http://www.samuel-adams-heritage.com/quotes/popular.html, More Quotes

[4] Ralph Louis Ketcham, James Madison: A Biography (University of Virginia Press, 1990) p. 47

DNA Points To An Intelligence

“DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” – Bill Gates [1]

DNA
DNA double helix

Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA was first identified in the late 1860s by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher. Decades later, Phoebus Levene and Erwin Chargaff revealed additional details about the DNA molecule, including its primary chemical components and the ways in which they joined with one another. In 1953. James Watson and Francis Crick reached their groundbreaking conclusion that the DNA molecule exists in the form of a three-dimensional double helix. In 1958, Crick had an insight which he called “The Sequence Hypothesis,”[2] and it was the idea that along the spine of the DNA molecule there were four chemicals that functioned just like alphabetic characters in a written language or digital characters in a machine code. The DNA molecule is literally encoding information into alphabetic or digital form.

Whether I’m reading a text message on my phone, reading a book, or trying to decipher the scribbles of my three year old daughter’s white board, we know that information only comes from an intelligence. So, the significance in the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence.

Stephen Meyer argues in his book Signature in the Cell, “Intelligence is the only known cause of complex functionally integrated information-processing systems” (italics original). [3] If the specific information contained in DNA is the program that guides the proceess of cellular formation and biological structures, “intelligent design stands as the best — most causually adequate — explanation for this feature of the cell, just as it stands as the best explanation for the origin of the information present in DNA itself.” [4]

Not a blind and unguided process as evolutionists ask us to believe, but a mind, omnipotent, and personal; the Creator and Sustainer.

[1] Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Viking Penguin, 1995
[2] Crick, F. H. (1958). “On protein synthesis”. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology 12: 138–163
[3] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York; HarperOne, 2009), 346.
[4] S. Meyer, Signature in the Cell, 346

Were The Disciples Mistaken About The Death Of Jesus?

The bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead is the crowning proof of the truth of Christianity. As the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.”

CrucifixionThere are many claims in the New Testament related to this central event but not all are accepted by New Testament scholars.  Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Mike Licona, in their book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, compiled a list of facts that were strongly supported (using the criteria of textual critics) and facts that were granted by virtually all scholars (from skeptics to conservative Christians.) [1]

One such fact was that Jesus died on the cross and was buried. Some skeptics, however,  assert that Jesus’ disciples were simply mistaken. Some will argue that Jesus survived his scourging and crucifixion and only appeared to be dead.

Is This Reasonable?

Is it reasonable to believe that those who removed Jesus from the cross, transported Him to His grave, and prepared Him for burial, did not know if he were alive or dead? [2]

There are other problems with this theory:

  1. The Gospels record the fact that a guard stabbed Jesus and both blood and water poured from His body. [3] Pericardial effusion or pleural effusion is often caused by circulatory shock prior to death.
  2. The Romans were experts at crucifixion.   Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally “out of crucifying”), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal.[4]
  3. Even when victims were taken down and given medical attention, they often died. Josephus recounts: “I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered. [5] Jesus, once taken down form the cross, was prepared for burial and interred.  There is no record of His receiving medical attention. Even this, apparently, was no guarantee of survival.

For these and many other reasons it seems not only unreasonable but improbable that the disciples were mistaken about the death of Jesus.

[1] G. Habermas and M. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jeus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004), 47.

[2] John 19:40-42, NIV

[3] John 19:34

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

[5] The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 75

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