In an age of visually oriented communications such as TV, movies and the internet, the power of symbols is not lost on content makers such as advertisers and movie producers. This is particularly true when you combine pop icons with these symbols to make a lasting impression. Case in point: diamonds. The point was indelibly etched in the courting rule book when the iconic beauty Marilyn Monroe sang:
Since then, aside from the numerous remakes2 from beauties trying to channel the appeal and success of Marilyn, we’ve had regular reminders that “diamond’s are a girl’s best friend.” They come right around this time of year – in time for the Christmas shopping season, to reminded you that if you really want to express your love to a lady, the proper way to do it is with a diamond. This year it was done with a twist – taking a form of nature documentary and using penguins instead of people3, but the message was the same.
There are multiple lessons for Christians here – aside from the well known fact that advertisers can use beautiful women to sell their wares. They are as follows:
1. God first used signs & symbols, and continues to use them
During the creation week, God said:
And as the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land, God gave them these instructions:
So God was the first to use signs and symbols.4 And of particular interest is his command to his people to have a symbol of his word, his instructions to them for proper living displayed prominently both on their person , and on their houses. This command was fulfilled with the placing of tephillim (Phylacteries in the New Testament (Matt 23.5)) on the wrist and forehead; and a mezuzah on the house. Why? Because what advertisers have learned, God already knew: the power of a constant reminder in the form of a symbol. His purpose is clear: to impress the importance of His word upon His people, God used symbols – the tephillim and mezuzah – which both symbolized his word and contained portions of it.
Another symbol, mentioned briefly in my article Physical Evidence that Jesus Existed, is that of the Chi Rho (the first two Greek letters in “Christ”). History records how God used the symbol to inspire General and soon to be Roman Emperor Constantine to trust in Christ, not the pagan gods on the eve before what would be a decisive battle for the victor. Constantine’s victory at the Mulvian bridge over his rival Maxentius led to Constantine extending his power, allowing him to legalize Christianity in the Roman empire, ending (eventually) the widespread persecution of Christians and setting the stage for accelerated growth of the church.
A final example: Jesus indicated that his return will be preceded or accompanied by “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matt 24.30). Thus signs and symbols have been in use by God to further the faith since the beginning, and continue to be in use. Clearly we have as a precedent God’s own use of signs and symbols in furtherance of the faith.
2. God redeems and claims symbols for his own use
The cross is arguably the most recognized symbol in the world. For Christians it represents Christ’s passion and redemption, hope and eternal life. Even for non-believers it is a well recognized symbol of Christianity. But it was not always that way. The cross is after all an instrument of death. And not just any death, a death of torture – a slow death of literally excruciating pain. (The root of excruciate is crux – meaning cross). The cross was used not only to execute, but to intimidate. In that regard it also excelled because it became one of the most feared forms of execution in the ancient world.
Even so, God took that instrument of death and torture, and turned it into a symbol of hope, and of the true faith. That transformation from sign of intimation and death; to sign of hope for the faithful has not been lost upon historians: Continue Reading
1. How can faith be rational, when faith means believing in something with no evidence?
2. Is Faith/belief in God/belief in miracles compatible with science?
Starting with the second question – Faith in God and belief in miracles are compatible with science because faith and science are complimentary; not contradictory. There are questions that science is not equipped to handle. In such cases it doesn’t mean the item the question isn’t real; it simply means that science is incapable of answering the question. One such item, as author, scientist and theologian Alistair McGrath points out is this:
The answer clearly is no, science can’t answer it. And why not? Famous evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould suggests it’s because science and religion deal with different spheres of knowledge – “magisteria” as he called them – and they do not overlap. Science and religion are thus Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA) – so the one can not comment on the other. This formulation is close. Science can not see or measure the spiritual world, so it can not comment on it; but God, who is spirit (John 4.24) sees both the spiritual and material world, and thus can comment on both as an eye witness. Thus regarding the creation of the world, what you have in Genesis 1 is an eye witness account of the creation of the heavens and the earth in 6 days, and recorded as evidence – a testimony for all time.
In passing, God as an eye witness to the creation is something science can not disprove. They can disagree with his testimony, (which they do) and disbelieve he even exists (which they do), but they can not prove he does not exist. Neither can they provide an eye witness to their version of creation – the big bang. They say believing God’s testimony can only be done by faith. Okay, so what is it when you believe George Washington was the first president? No one alive today was there to see it. All we have are testimonies. Is that not then, also faith? Yet no one asks scientists to prove George Washington was the first president, or prove that he existed. They take both to be true on the word of historians. Biblical testimony is no different. So why is faith in God’s written testimony any less rational than believing written testimonies that George Washington was the first president?
If doubters of the Biblical account still want “proof” one can say creationists have higher quality “proof” than scientists – since in addition to scientific evidence, creationists have an eye witness account by a perfect witness while science merely has a of highly disputed theory – the big bang which is backed by highly disputed evidence. Indeed the more we learn, the more the big bang is discredited. The universe is both too young for the theory to be true (for more on that see Saturn’s Rings are Young!) and recent discoveries like the Higgs Boson (the so called “god particle”) contradict the Big Bang theory. (For more on that see Testimony of the Higgs Boson.)
So faith expressed as belief that God exists is rational; it is consistent with how we use “faith” in other spheres, and it is consistent with science. But some people don’t agree with that assessment for reasons that take us back to the first question:
“How can faith be rational?” (implied: when science can’t see the evidence to prove it). This is perpetuated by a chorus of acolytes echoing the refrain:
What’s always amusing about these statements is the claim there is no evidence. Because the first thing they typically do is list the evidences then explain why they refuse to believe it. First off they want to eliminate the Bible as evidence because it’s well – the bible – a holy book. They never seem to realize they are committing the fallacy of a false analogy when they compare the Bible to a book of mythology or even other holy books. Unlike mythology and other “holy” books the Bible is full of verified history, fulfilled prophecy (we’ll note one below), known, verified historical people, and geographical locations that exist to this day that you can visit. That makes it a reliable source of information. In fact regarding reliability of the key section of the Bible that records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – the New Testament – author and apologist Josh McDowell states:
|Interior – St. Peter’s Basilica as painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini||
Claims that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed are simply untrue. Here’s why.
In the companion article, Is Faith Rational, I note that many atheists claim:
You’ll find this objection from bloggers and authors2 alike among other skeptics. In response, I pointed out 4 items that are historical or archaeological evidence of the existence of Jesus to silence this claim. They are:
In the companion article there was not space to discuss these issues, so here is that discussion.
Physical Evidences of Jesus’ Existence:
First, please note these are presented as evidences not proofs. It’s very difficult to “prove” anything that happened in the past. However what we do have left from events in the past is evidences that the event occurred. The following are evidences that Jesus existed.
1. St Peter’s Basilica; Cathedrals and Churches all over the world.
Before moving on – wait – I hear an atheist saying, based on that logic every pagan god for which a temple was built must also exist. Nice try. Let’s consider a pagan temple the Bible mentions – the temple of Artemis (Roman name: Diana) in the city of Ephesus. (Acts 19.27) and compare how people treat a mythical god with how they treat Jesus:
– Is Artemis worshipped in any significant way today? Does she have thousands of temples/churches?
– When swearing or cursing, does anyone swear by Artemis? Or use Artemis as an expletive?
– Does anyone claim Artemis loved mankind enough to become incarnate, live on earth and redeem mankind from his own sin and folly?
– Is time divided before and after the coming of Artemis?
– Does Artemis have an animal marked on its body with her symbol that carried her in triumph as Jesus does? (John 12.12-15) Has her symbol inspired kings and armies like the Chi Rho did Constantine and his army?
– Did Artemis prophesy anything that was fulfilled?
Whether you love Jesus and revere him or despise him and use his name as an expletive, clearly the responses to Jesus has always been, and always will be qualitatively and quantitatively different from any other so called god. This makes both the worship of Jesus and his places of worship also qualitatively different. There is an entire fabric of evidences that St Peter’s Basilica becomes part of strengthening the entire case for the existence of Jesus. The temple of Artemis [or substitute any false god – Zeus, whatever] is a single thread that simply reminds man of his tendency to idolatry and folly. So please, don’t bother with the comparisons to other fallen temples.
2. Nails From the the Cross of Jesus
While this find is helpful, what’s even more interesting is this: archeologist Simcha Jacobovici, noted that in the grave of the Caiaphas were two nails. He believes he has found the very nails used to affix Jesus to the cross, stating he has made: Continue Reading
In the Looking Glass world of Alice in Wonderland, Tweedledee’s “logic” makes perfect sense. In the real world – it’s nonsense – or to be more precise – suffers from both a formal and a non-formal logical fallacy.2 Yet it makes perfect sense to Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
In the same manner, the logic of atheists makes perfect sense to them in their looking glass world where they protect themselves from the truth; they can’t see anything wrong with it – yet it is clear to others it is as fallacious as the flawed logic of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
When difficult questions are put to atheists about the nature of reality for which the atheistic worldview has no answer, atheists (and evolutionists alike) throw out fine sounding arguments. And like the Looking Glass characters, their answers have the form of validity, but upon close examination it is apparent their arguments are as fallacious as the logic used by the Tweedles. Let me give a couple of examples.
Consider the question – Why is there something rather than nothing? For the Christian, there’s an easy answer: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1). For philosophers, it is a very deep philosophical question. In fact Martin Rees, cosmologist, astrophysicist and astronomer royal calls it the “preeminent mystery.”3 Such a formulation does not affirm the Christian worldview, but neither is it overtly antagonistic. But for particle physicist, skeptic (of the supernatural) and atheist Victor Stenger that question is:
7 Popular, but Fallacious Arguments by Atheists
|Evolution uses circular arguments to support the supposition that dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago.||
More arguments used by atheists that upon inspection are clearly wrong and fail to support atheistic or
In Part 1 of this article I discussed problems 1 and 2: GULO and LUCA respectively and why they are irrational arguments. In closing the discussion on LUCA I noted that evolutionists and atheists are blind to evidence of intelligent design. This leads into our next irrational
3. “There’s no evidence”Atheists and Evolutionists alike tend to use this argument for anything they don’t believe. They don’t believe in God, so they say there’s no evidence of God. They don’t believe in intelligent design, so they say there’s no evidence for it. They don’t believe in miracles, so they say there’s no evidence of them. This argument is particularly common in the twitter world:
Notice the above person states no “verifiable” evidence. This means there is no evidence you can present that will meet his standard for “verifiable.” (An illicit shifting of the burden of proof.) The problem with saying “there’s no evidence” is you must then explain away all the sites with evidence – like this one, or creation.com or answersingenesis.org or a host of other sites and books (including the Bible) which provide the evidence against evolution and for God and intelligent design which they claim doesn’t exist. Brian Auten provides a list of such sites on his Apologetics315 here. In light of the overwhelming evidence, one is tempted to say they’re simply lying. After all, it’s one thing to say the evidence is misunderstood; quite another to say that none exists. But there are at least two other dynamics likely at play here.
Part of the light of the gospel is the fact that God exists and God created. The god of this age – Satan – doesn’t want you to believe that; so those following atheistic or evolutionary beliefs have unwittingly fallen for yet another lie of the father of the lies, which keeps them captive to false philosophies. We must pray for such people in hopes that “they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim 2.26)
4. “Dinosaur fossils are millions of years old
“Everyone knows what wiped out the dinosaurs. Sixty five million years ago it came from outer space.”1 So begins a documentary entitled “What really killed the dinosaurs?” It perpetuates the supposed date which scientists have settled on as the date for when the dinosaurs became extinct: 65 million years ago. Scientists also use fossils to verify that date – a date which supports an old earth theory of earth history instead of a young one. But as Kent Hovind is fond of pointing out the fossil evidence argument is a circular one. He relates the story of a visit he took with his daughter to the School of Mines & Technology Museum of Geology, Rapid City S.D. His daughter asks the tour guide” Continue Reading
|7 Popular, but Fallacious Arguments used by Atheists
For those wondering why the apostle cast out a demon providing free advertisement for him, the answer is simple: God’s people are forbidden from having anything to do with demons2 – even if what they do is initially helpful. The amazing thing to Christians is that Paul put up so long with it. I mention it because I likewise feel troubled by the recurring contention of Atheists that the pseudo-gene known as GULO or GLO proves common descent. So let me
1. “GULO proves Evolution”
What is GULO and how does it supposedly prove evolution?
L-gulonolactone oxidase – commonly known as GULO – is a gene designed to synthesize vitamin C from glucose or galactose, but in some groups of animals, the GULO gene does function in that manner, and so it is given the label of “pseudogene.”4
Additionally, the gene is “broken” reportedly in the same place in multiple species resulting in a loss of the ability to synthesize vitamin C. Humans are not able to synthesize vitamin C. Neither are guinea pigs, chimpanzees and several species of monkeys along with some species of birds, bats and fish. Evolutionists look at these facts and conclude that the only way the gene could have broken in the sample place is if the gene of a common ancestor became broken, and that same broken gene was then inherited by subsequent descendants. Thus to their way of thinking the only way this broken gene would show up in multiple species is if it started in a common ancestor.
Recent evidence refutes this conclusion, and the attempts by evolutionists to salvage their conclusion makes matters worse – Continue Reading
Honest atheists will tell you there is no purpose or meaning to life, no hope of an after life and all your thoughts, feelings and desires are merely the result of the electro-chemical reactions in your brain and thus are ultimately meaningless. As one such honest atheist put it:
Or as Cornell University atheist William Provine famously stated:
Knowing that the atheistic worldview can not support any sort of future meaning, hope or purpose does not stop some of them from trying to inject these into atheistic life and thought through any number of means. One such means is entertainment. Case in point – an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation, titled “Transfigurations” which posits that man may be able to evolve into a higher spiritual state. Here’s how the guest character explains it:
Thus the decidedly atheistic Star Trek series displays a curiously messianic figure who has been exhibiting messianic attributes (like healing) just before he is seen completing another messianic miracle: the transfiguration.
For those not familiar with the biblical account from which this is clearly drawn, here is the salient portion:
One is left to ponder – what is an atheistic series like Star Trek: the Next Generation doing displaying an episode with Christian themes? The answer lies in the explanation given – “a wonderful evolutionary change.” There it is – the atheistic hope. So once again, it is the theory of evolution that comes to the rescue. Just as it has rescued atheists from having absolutely no explanation for the origin of life, now they are hoping it will provide them with hope for a spiritual future for mankind; a hope that professor Provine has explained and clearly stated that atheists have no business expecting or hoping for.
And while it may seem curious for an atheistic series like Star Trek to focus on such overtly Christian themes, once you hear the explanation, it’s supposed to all make sense. But there’s still a problem – a problem that becomes obvious – once you understand the recurring lie of the enemy. Before going there, a word on the historical account.
Since he does it so well, I’m going to let Morgan Freeman set this up:
According to scientists, the Higgs boson is what gives particles mass. Of course without mass neither the universe, nor life as we know it could exist. Thus the name the ‘God’ particle, at least in some people’s mind – fits since nothing would exist without it. Scientists prefer to call it the Higgs boson or the Higgs particle, but of course for those who report the stories, the ‘God’ particle is a much more catchy headline and moniker – so it has stuck. Purists however will tell you that the name came about when Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman wanted to name his book about the particle ‘The God – – – – [expletive deleted] Particle‘ – because no one could find it at the time – but his editor talked him into calling it the ‘God’ particle.2 Let’s let Morgan continue:
And thus the Higgs boson – the so called ‘God’ particle – is introduced. The episode goes on to point out problems now that they’ve made the discovery – that in order to eliminate anomalies and make the theory work – there must be not one, but five Higgs types of Higgs bosons. But that’s a simple matter of further discovery – not what I want to discuss here. Of greater interest is a finding that the Higgs boson is in conflict with the standard, universally accepted model of where the universe came from – The Big Bang. And thus we see another problem for the Big Bang theory.
I say “another” because the Big Bang theory of course has a number of problems- such as flatness problem, the monopole magnet problem, and the horizon problem4 among others. Since this post isn’t on the technical details and problems of the Big Bang, let me suffice it by saying that the Big Bang has a number of show stopping issues, many of which were supposedly solved by Alan Guth’s theory of Cosmic inflation – at lest these problems that I’ve mentioned.
Make two mental notes here:
Let’s move on to the latest Discovery. The latest tests with the Higgs boson indicate that the Higgs is Continue Reading
Is using the Big Bang to support creation a good idea? No – Better to enrage the dragon, than God
|A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun…
…Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon Rev 12.1,3
I’ve noticed a number of Christians – including some well known defenders of the faith – like to use the Big Bang as a way to ease a scientifically minded culture into belief in God since the Big Bang theory requires you believe that 1) the universe began 2) a finite amount of time ago, at a point in time, 3) out of nothing – just like the bible says. That leaves a perfect opening to present the Kalam cosmological argument which, briefly stated, says:
The Christian apologists then endeavor to show why the required creator is the God of the Judeo-Christian bible. So it’s easy to see the appeal of the argument, but it’s always seemed to me like a bad idea. Initially, I was going to use this article to go through the various reasons why the big bang is untenable, and Christians especially shouldn’t be relying on it to persuade people. Things like a required belief in 1) Cosmic Inflation, 2) a 13.9 billion year old universe 3) The scientific belief in a self caused “singularity” that defies the laws of physics. But I’ll save a discussion over those issues for another time.
Instead, I’ll give two reasons why using such an approach is a bad idea for Christians.
Why using the Big Bang to “prove” God’s existence is a bad idea.
|Though they’ll never admit it, most evolutionists adhere to evolution as followers in any other religion adhere to their faith.
|In what was intended to be the first article I posted on this site –
What is Rational Faith, Part 11 – I mentioned that those who believe in the godless theory of Evolution (which includes most atheists and materialistic scientists) – adhere to it as one adheres to and follows a religious faith. In other words it has taken on the significance of religion in their lives. Most evolutionists would deny this, as would atheists who think that because they define their atheism as a lack of faith/belief in God, they therefore think themselves immune to the common banalities (as they might describe it) of being a follower of a faith. Yet when you look at the impact of evolution on their lives, and how it changes their thoughts and behaviors, one can only conclude that for those who thoroughly understand the theory, it has taken the place of God in their lives2. Now you’ll note I’ve qualified the statement by the phrase “those who thoroughly understand the theory.” I do so to distinguish the true adherents from those who follow it without thinking because it’s the “in” thing to do; it’s the majority belief, and they don’t want to be out of the main stream or worse – appear ignorant, or as John C. Lennox puts it, they
Those who know little about evolution apart from the fact that it supposedly tells us where we came from and it’s what scientists believe, should read articles like Reclaiming The Intellectual and Moral High Ground – which will inform them both on claims made regarding evolution – and why they’re incorrect. If they still believe in evolution, then they appear to have a faith commitment as do other adherents to the Evolutionary faith.
So now that we understand about whom I’m speaking the question becomes how can I defend such a claim? Simply – by the fact that those believe in evolution exhibit the same signs and behaviors as those who follow any other religious faith. As the saying goes, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, a quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck. There are a number of such tell tale signs, let me just give you a few off the top of my head: Continue Reading