Monday, May 5, 2014

God's Not Dead

We just watched God's Not Dead last week, a well-made independent movie about a college student's efforts to convince his atheistic philosophy professor and the rest of the class that God is indeed real.

I knew almost nothing about the movie, coming in, and was pleasantly surprised, as I was watching the opening credits, that it featured not one, but two former superheroes that I used to watch regularly in the 1990's: Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) and Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman). It was fun seeing them again, despite the fact that they portrayed the movie's two biggest jerks.

My purpose with this post is not to review the movie ((I highly recommend you go see it!) or to summarize the logical arguments for the existence of God (I covered that already in my previous posts), but rather to touch on something far more real: how do we, as Christians, react when disasters strike in our lives?

I hope I'm not revealing any major spoilers for you, if you haven't seen the movie yet, but in a tense moment, a major character reveals that it was a loved one's premature death that drove them to abandon their faith in God.

For some reason, despite scriptures to the contrary, mainstream churchgoers have the impression that if they serve Christ, their lives should be peaches and cream. No troubles should ever touch them, and they should be happy all the time. If God truly loves His children, should He not protect them from hardship, sorrow, and pain?

Despite my mother's and wife's health issues, I feel tremendously blessed to not have had people in my life dying prematurely, or touched by cancer, or worries about losing our home. And yet I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have had to face these things. Think about this: if I do not abandon my faith when I hear about brothers and sisters who are going through tragedies right now, why should I doubt God when tragedy comes knocking at my own door?

Case in point: Many of you know about the tornado that struck Arkansas last week, killing 15 people. A news article described a mother who not only suffered two broken legs and a broken pelvis, but also lost her two young sons. Her husband is suffering from head trauma, and all that is left of their beautiful home is the concrete foundation. She has suffered all this loss, that to many of us is unphathomable, and yet her faith in Christ is unshaken. Her friend, who is a photographer and a blogger, came to visit her and took her picture, as she lay there in her hospital bed, bruised, bloodied, and broken. She asked her, if she could use the picture in a future post, after her friend recovered from her injuries. Instead, the woman in the hospital bed urged her friend to post the picture now, in order to "show them what my God can overcome." That's faith in action; a faith that not only does not abandon God when He allows tragedy to strike in our lives, but a faith that shouts from the housetops that victory over all adversity can be found only in Him. It's the faith that no matter what happens, God's wonderful plan for His children will not be derailed, and we can overcome it all, through Christ who has already overcome the world, through His death and resurrection.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Creation vs. Evolution (Part 3)

This post was written on the occasion of the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, which my wife has just blogged about and which you may view here, for a limited time (forward past the 13-minute countdown at the beginning). The image above was captured during Ken Ham's presentation.

Even though I said that Ken Ham set the bar too high for the debate, I think he was far more prepared than Bill Nye and built the stronger case. Nevertheless, both debaters raised some very good points, which their opponent failed to counter. And likewise, both made statements that they failed to back up with proper reasoning.

No Death Prior to the Fall?
The lynchpin behind the Young Earth model that Answers In Genesis promotes is their Biblically-derived belief that there was no physical death whatsoever before Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the Forbidden Fruit. Ken Ham made the point that since there was no death before mankind’s fall, then the fossil record cannot predate the existence of man, hence it cannot be used to show that the earth is much older than mankind. However, as a man who has studied the Bible for many years, I don’t see Scripture making a strong case for this belief, and Ken Ham did not spend any time explaining the theological reasoning behind it. He also missed a golden opportunity to point out Bill Nye’s lack of preparation, when Mr. Nye incorrectly stated that Ken Ham believes that there was no death prior to Noah’s Flood, which actually occurred long after the Fall.

Belief in Creation Hampers Innovation?
At the core of Bill Nye’s arguments is his often-stated declaration that only an acceptance of evolution leads to innovation, and that belief in Creation greatly hampers it. But he made no effort at explaining how he arrived at these conclusions. Quite to the contrary, Ken Ham gave specific examples of Creation scientists throughout history, who made significant scientific discoveries and technological inventions. He also challenged Bill Nye to give a single example of an innovation founded upon evolution; Mr. Nye ignored the challenge altogether, choosing instead to restate his belief, without any further explanation.

Problems With the Fossil Record
Ken Ham failed to mention any of the problems related to the mainstream analysis of the fossil record. A series of books and videos, called Evolution: The Grand Experiment, expose the remarkable similarities between supposedly ancient fossils and modern animals. In case after case, scientists gave totally different designations to fossilized samples that had no significant difference from modern-day counterparts.

Magnetic Field Changes, Ice Cores, and Tree Rings
Bill Nye mentioned three compelling arguments for an Old Earth model, apart from the typical radiometric techniques. By observing rocks at the ocean floor, it has been noted that the polarity of the earth’s iron core has reversed multiple times. Although the process has never been observed in recorded history, there is compelling evidence that it has happened many times in the past, requiring much longer time than 6000 years. In addition, layers in ice cores extracted from the polar regions and annual rings in trees, also raise serious questions about the Young Earth model. Yet, Ken Ham failed to provide any counter-argument or flaw, in response to these points.

One of Intelligent Design’s strongest arguments is that the incredible complexity of DNA and the molecular processes inherent in multi-cellular life forms could not possibly have come about by random, gradual mutations and natural selection, as proposed by the Theory of Evolution. I personally find this field of science to hold the most compelling evidence that we were indeed created by God, and yet Ken Ham barely even mentioned this.

I doubt anyone expected this event to settle the Creation vs. Evolution question, but the debate at least gave people some food for thought and, I'm sure, spurred many discussions and internet searches on science and the Bible.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Creation vs. Evolution (Part 2)

This post was written on the occasion of the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, which my wife has just blogged about and which you may view here, for a limited time (forward past the 13-minute countdown at the beginning). The image above was captured during Ken Ham's presentation.

Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) created some waves a few months ago, when he made a video bashing Creationists and stating that a belief in evolution is required for scientific advancement, invention, and discovery. To this day, I have yet to see him explain his reasoning. Needless to say, this drew a lot of attention from the Christian community and ultimately led to an invitation from Ken Ham, to debate evolution with him at the Creation Museum, in Kentucky.

This was the thesis statement for the debate, as composed by Answers In Genesis: “Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era.”

I did not really expect either man to make an open-and-shut case (after all, this has been a hot-button issue within the science community long before the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial”), but was looking forward to hearing what they both had to say.  Now that it’s over, I wish to present some analysis of the debate here.

First, let’s put the terminology used in the thesis statement within the context of the debate.

While there are several plausible interpretations of the Genesis account of Creation, Ken Ham subscribes to the most literal of these, in which, about 6000 years ago, God took 6 literal, 24-hour days to speak into existence the entire universe, all earthly life, and humankind. Because of this, the debate pretty much devolved (pardon the pun) into an argument over the age of the earth and the universe, instead of its origins.

Only Viable Model
This was perhaps the most ambitious portion of the thesis. While the scientific community-at-large dismisses Creation and Intelligent Design as unscientific religious propaganda, Ken Ham went out to completely reverse that opinion. In order to do this, he would have had to not only prove that this model stands up to every rigorous test that has ever been proposed, but also that Evolution, the Big Bang, and all other theories have undeniable holes. This was an impossible task, given the time constraints of the debate and the limited knowledge of both men.

Historical and Observational Science
A pillar of Ken Ham’s argument, vehemently but inadequately disputed by Mr. Nye, was the difference between “historical” and “observational” science. Mr. Ham pointed out that Creationists and Evolutionists usually agree on the causes of events currently observable (hence “observational science”). But analysis of past events, particularly ones that occurred long before there was anyone around to record them, is subject to a great many assumptions, which depend upon the scientist’s point of reference or worldview.

Modern Scientific Era
This seems to me to establish a timebase for Observational and Historical Science, as well as, possibly, refer to the vast knowledge and observational capability that present-day technology affords us. This terminology wasn’t referenced much during the debate, but I find it interesting that Ken Ham thought it important enough to make it part of the thesis statement.

To be continued…