From Mark Copeland... "CONVERSIONS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS" Cornelius And His Household (10:1-48; 11:1-18)

                   "CONVERSIONS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS"

             Cornelius And His Household (10:1-48; 11:1-18)


1. Up to this point, the gospel had been somewhat limited in its
   a. It had spread throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria - Ac 9:31
   b. But other than the Samaritans (who were half Jewish), it had gone
      only to the Jews

2. With the conversion of "Cornelius And His Household" the first
   Gentiles are saved...
   a. A conversion noted not only because they were the first Gentiles
   b. But also because of the miraculous events that precipitated the
      1) An angel appearing to Cornelius
      2) Peter's vision, followed by the Spirit's instruction
      3) The Spirit falling upon Cornelius, his family, and close 
      4) Cornelius and his household speaking in tongues

3. As in the case of Saul of Tarsus, we have more than just one account
   of the conversion...
   a. There is Luke's description - Ac 10:1-48
   b. There is Peter's description, as he is called to defend his 
      actions - Ac 11:1-18

4. Important questions are raised as we consider the events of this 
   a. Exactly when did the Spirit fall upon Cornelius and his company?
   b. What was the purpose of the Spirit falling upon them?
   c. Were they saved when the Spirit came upon them, or later when 
      they were baptized?

[These are some of the questions I intend to answer as we examine the
conversion of "Cornelius And His Household".  Since we have two 
accounts, let's consider them together as we start with...]


      1. Cornelius, a centurion, is a very religious man - Ac 10:1-2
      2. The angel appears to him - Ac 10:3-6
         a. With an announcement that his prayers and alms have been 
            noticed by God
         b. With instructions to send for Peter; please note:
            1) The angel said, "He will tell you what you must do."
               - Ac 10:6
            2) As Peter recounts it, "...who will tell you words by 
               which you and all your household will be saved." 
               - Ac 11:14
      3. Cornelius then sends two servants and a devout soldier to 
         Peter - Ac 10:7-8
      1. While the three men are traveling toward Peter, he has a 
         vision - Ac 10:9-16; 11:4-10
         a. It involves a sheet descending from heaven, containing all
            sorts of creatures
         b. A voice tells Peter to "kill and eat"
         c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or 
         d. The voice tells him, "What God has cleansed you must not
            call common."
      2. Three times the vision is repeated

      1. The men from Cornelius arrive as Peter contemplates the vision
         - Ac 10:17-18; 11:11
      2. The Spirit tells Peter to go, "doubting nothing, for I have 
         sent them" - Ac 10:19-20; 11:12
      3. Peter receives the men and takes six with him as they go to
         Cornelius - Ac 10:21-23; 11:12

      1. Cornelius has gathered his family and close friends - Ac 10:24
      2. Peter deflects an attempt by Cornelius to worship him - Ac 10:
      3. Peter explains his presence a violation of Jewish custom, but
         now understands "I should not call any man common or unclean"
         - Ac 10:27-28
      4. Asked by Peter to explain why he was called, Cornelius 
         recounts the appearance and instructions of the angel 
         - Ac 10:29-32; 11:13-14
      5. Cornelius and his household were ready "to hear all things
         commanded you by God" - Ac 10:33

      1. At this point, we need to carefully note the actual sequence
         of events
      2. Luke's record gives attention to the sermon first, and then 
         the Spirit coming upon the Gentiles - cf. Ac 10:34-44
         a. But Luke also says that "while Peter was still speaking...
            the Holy Spirit fell"
         b. From this we do not exactly when the Spirit fell
         c. It could have been at the beginning, in the middle, toward
            the end, of his sermon
      3. Peter, however, explained what happened "in order from the 
         beginning" - Ac 11:4
         a. He describes the events as they happened
         b. He says "as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon 
            them" - Ac 11:15
      4. So we learn from Peter that the Spirit actually came upon the
         Gentiles at the BEGINNING of the sermon!
      5. With the Spirit falling upon the Gentiles, they began speaking
         with tongues, which amazed Peter and his Jewish companions 
         - Ac 10:45-46; cf. Ac 2:4,6,8,11

      1. He begins with a full perception that God shows no partiality
         - Ac 10:34-35
         a. A perception started with the vision of the sheet and 
            unclean beasts
         b. A perception continued with the Spirit's instruction to go
            with the messengers
         c. A perception made clear with the Spirit falling upon the 
            Gentiles - Ac 11:15-17
      2. Peter then proceeds to proclaim Jesus Christ - Ac 10:36-43
         a. As Lord who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power 
            - Ac 10:36-38
         b. Who was killed, but then raised from the dead and seen by
            eyewitnesses who knew Him well - Ac 10:39-41
         c. Who has commanded the apostles to proclaim Him as ordained
            by God to be the Judge of the living and dead - Ac 10:42
         d. Through Whom remission of sins is offered to those who 
            believe - Ac 10:43
      1. How could anyone forbid water to those who had received the 
         Spirit just as the apostles did? - Ac 10:47; cf. 11:17-18
      2. So Cornelius and his household were commanded to be baptized
         in the name of the Lord - Ac 10:48

[The events surrounding this conversion are certainly remarkable.  They
evidently were intended to convey important truths.  As we endeavor to
glean what those truths were, here are some...]


      1. Many people believe that if you are religious, you will be 
         a. That if you go to church, do good, etc., you have a hope of
         b. That you will have earned the right to enter heaven
      2. Yet, though Cornelius was a man who...
         a. Was a devout man
         b. Feared God with his whole family
         c. Gave alms generously
         d. Prayed to God always
         ...he still needed to be told "words by which you and all your
            household will be saved"
      3. Clearly, being religious isn't what saves you (it's the blood
         of Christ!)

      1. Peter perceived that God is no respecter of persons - Ac 10:
      2. Indeed, God desires that ALL men be saved - cf. Jn 3:16
         1 Ti2:3-6; 2Pe 3:9
      -- Therefore He has not predestined some to be saved and others 

      1. Some presume that the purpose was to save Cornelius and his
         a. That therefore they were saved before obeying the command 
            to be baptized
         b. But the Spirit came upon them as Peter "began to speak", 
            before they could hear words by which they could be saved! 
            - cf. Ac 11:14-15
      2. The purpose of the Spirit can be gleaned from the following:
         a. The effect it had on the Jewish brethren who were present,
            and Peter's response - Ac 10:45-47
         b. The reaction of the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem when Peter
            told them what happened - Ac 11:17-18
         c. Peter's explanation at the council held later in Jerusalem 
            - Ac 15:7-11
      3. The purpose of the Spirit falling on them was therefore to 
         show Jewish brethren...
         a. That God was no respecter of persons - Ac 10:34-35
         b. That God was willing to grant them opportunity to repent 
            and have life - Ac 11:18
         c. That Gentiles could be saved in the same way as Jews...
            1) By faith, repentance, and baptism - Ac 15:9,11; cf. 2:38
               with 10:48
            2) Which faith comes through hearing the word of God - Ro 10:17

      1. Remember that Cornelius was told to send for Peter, who would
         tell him:
         a. "what you must do." - Ac 10:6
         b. "words by which you...shall be saved." - Ac 11:14
      2. From this, and from what we have already seen in other 
         a. Cornelius was not saved until he heard the "words" (i.e., 
            after the sermon)
         b. Cornelius was not saved until he obeyed what he was told to
         c. What were the words he was told to do?
            1) Certainly they were told to believe, as implied in 
               Ac 10:43
            2) Clearly they were told to be baptized, as commanded in 
               Ac 10:48
      3. Thus Cornelius and his household were not saved until they 
         "believed and were baptized"! - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 8:12,13


1. So while miraculous events surrounded the conversion of "Cornelius
   And His Household", their salvation was no different from what we
   have already seen...
   a. They heard the gospel of Jesus Christ
   b. They were taught to believe and be baptized
   -- Thus they were saved "in the same manner" as all those previously

2. As Peter said at the council, it is "through the grace of the Lord
   Jesus Christ" that both Gentiles and Jews are saved - cf. Ac 15:11
   a. We are saved by grace, not works - cf. Ep 2:5,8; Tit 3:4-5
   b. For it is not enough to be religious...
      1) Who could be more religious than Cornelius?
      2) Or even the 3000 at Pentecost, or the Ethiopian eunuch?

3. The grace of God which saves does require a response, however...
   a. A response of faith - Ac 10:43
   b. A faith in Jesus that comes by hearing the gospel - Ac 10:42
   c. A faith which expresses itself in obedience - cf. He 5:9
      1) E.g., repentance and baptism - cf. Ac 2:38; 3:19; 10:48
      2) Not as works of merit, but as acts of faith by which one
         receives God's grace

Those of us who are not descended from Israel can rejoice in what God 
revealed with the conversion of "Cornelius And His Household". As 
properly concluded by the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem:

   "...God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." 
                                                   (Ac 11:16)

Have you taken advantage of this wonderful gift, by responding to the 
gospel of Jesus Christ?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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The Quran and the Trinity by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Quran and the Trinity

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

When reading the Quran, one is surprised time and time again with the fact that the Allah of the Quran conducts himself quite differently from the God of the Bible. Of course, “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God,” like its equivalent Old Testament Hebrew term elohima general term for deity that was used by the Jews to refer both to the one true God, as well as to the false deities of their pagan neighbors (e.g., Genesis 35:2; Deuteronomy 29:18; Daniel 3:25). So the term “God” in whatever language (English, Arabic, or Hebrew) is a generic term to refer to deity. Muslims claim that the Allah they worship is the same God that Abraham and the Jews worshipped. Nevertheless, it is possible for one to pay lip service to following the God of the Bible, and yet so recast Him that He ceases to be the same Being about which one reads on the pages of the Bible. The meaning and identity that each culture or religion attaches to the word may differ radically.
Many current Christian authors do this very thing when they claim to be writing about the Jesus of the New Testament. They misrepresent Jesus, recasting and refashioning the Jesus of the Bible into essentially a different Being than the One depicted on the pages of the New Testament—one who is unconcerned about obedience, and whose grace forgives just about everybody unconditionally (e.g., Lucado, 1996). But that is not the Jesus of the New Testament. They have so misrepresented the person, nature, and conduct of Jesus that for all practical purposes, their writings depict a differentJesus.
In like fashion, the Quran has Allah saying and doing things that the God of the Bible simply would not say or do. Actions and attitudes are attributed to Allah that stand in stark contradistinction to the character of the God of the Bible. Though Allah is claimed by Muslims to be the same God as the God of the Old Testament, the Quran’s depiction of deity is nevertheless sufficiently redefined as to make Allah distinct from the God of the Bible. This stark contrast is particularly evident in the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
The Bible depicts deity as singular, i.e., there is one and only one divine essence or Being (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19). However, the Bible also clearly depicts God as a triune Being—three distinct persons within the one essence—with a triune nature. For example, during the Creation week, God stated: “Let us...” (Genesis 1:26, emp. added). Both the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) and Christ (John 1:1-3) were present and active at the Creation with God the Father. The New Testament alludes to the “Godhead” (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). At the baptism of Jesus while He was in human form, the Father spoke audibly from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). All three are sometimes noted together (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Each person of the Godhead is fully God, fully deity, fully divine. Jesus is repeatedly referred to as God (Matthew 1:22-23; John 1:1-3,14; 8:58; 20:28; Micah 5:2). The Holy Spirit is also divine (John 14:26; 15:26; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Ephesians 4:4; Hebrews 9:14).
In contrast to the biblical portrait, the Quran goes out of its way to denounce the notion of Trinity:
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three”—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendant majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah, nor will the favoured angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him (Surah 4:171-172, emp. added).
They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil‑doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying apainful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 5:72-74, emp. added).
The Christian is surely startled to read such forthright denunciations on those who believe in the Godhead as depicted in the Bible. The Quran declares in unmistakable terms that those who do believe in the Trinity will be excluded from paradise, and will experience a “painful doom” by burning in the fire of hell.
Regarding the third person of the Godhead, Muslims insist that the Quran knows nothing of the Holy Spirit—all seeming references simply being, in the words of Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall, “a term for the angel of Revelation, Gabriel (on whom be peace)” (Pickthall, p. 40). Thus the Quran denies the person of the Holy Spirit, acknowledges the existence of Jesus while denying His divinity, and insists that the person of Allah is singular in nature. The Quran and the Bible are in dire contradiction with each other on the doctrine of the Trinity.


Lucado, Max (1996), In the Grip of Grace (Dallas, TX: Word).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

There are sixty-six books commonly accepted as Scripture—the divinely inspired Word of God. Origen (c. 185-254), a prolific early Christian writer, noted a commonly accepted list of 27 New Testament books, indicating that by the second or third century, the New Testament canon was established (McGarvey, 1974, 1:66). There are many other books, beside the New Testament canon, that are considered inspired by some scholars, but not all (A.P. Staff, 2003, p. 1). The Bible is complete as it is, sufficient for the spiritual needs of Christians (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 21:33; John 12:48).
Critics of the Bible would like nothing better than to show that God’s Word is a tangled web of contradictions, inconsistencies, and untruths. To that end, many critics have attempted to chip away at the credibility of Scripture by showing that it simply is impossible to determine what material is Scripture and what material is not. They have alleged that the biblical writers themselves accepted extrabiblical sources as inspired Scripture. One instance of a biblical writer allegedly treating noncanonical material as authoritative is in Jude 9. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ”
Aside from Jude 9, there is no biblical record of any “contention” or meeting between the devil and Michael the archangel. Many scholars, based on the writings of Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, and Didymus (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918; Earle, Blaney, and Hanson, 1955, p. 411), assume that Jude 9 is a reference to an apocryphal book called The Assumption of Moses, a work that is extant only in fragmental form (in Latin and in a translation from Greek). The fragment now known as The Assumption of Moses presents the account of Moses’ appointing of Joshua as his successor, and a description of the future of Israel during the conquest of the Promised Land. According to Richard Lenksi, scholars believe that the missing portion of The Assumption included “an elaboration” of Deuteronomy 34:5, the biblical account of Moses’ death, showing how God used angels to bury Moses (1966, pp. 601-602). It is thought that The Assumption of Moses, at this point, used Zechariah 3:1-2 as its basis for the use of the phrase “The Lord rebuke you!” It has not been proven, however, that Jude intended to quote from The Assumption of Moses.
If Jude intended to reference it, it cannot be determined that Jude actually quoted the apocryphal book, because the material Jude allegedly quoted does not exist. If The Assumption of Moses did indeed contain material about Moses’ burial, then Jude independently wrote the same thing that the writer of The Assumption wrote. Thus, Jude confirmed that this particular portion of The Assumption is historical. That is very different from stating that any portion of The Assumption was inspired. It may be that Jude simply intended to reference an oral tradition (which was true) that became the basis forThe Assumption (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918).
Jude is the only New Testament book that seems to include a direct citation of a Jewish apocryphal work, which is, in this case, The Book of Enoch (Guthrie, p. 917). The apparent reference to Enoch’s prophecy is in Jude 14-15. An example of the kind of criticism that comes against Jude 14-15 is that of Carroll D. Osburn, a distinguished professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. Dr. Osborn argued in his book Peaceable Kingdom (1993, p. 94) that Jude should not be included in the New Testament canon because, among other reasons, Jude 14-15 discusses an event that also is recorded in The Book of Enoch. Enoch’s book apparently has more than one author, but scholars differ on which author wrote which portions, and it is uncertain when each portion was written. According to Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, The Book of Enoch is pre-Christian, and parts of it are probably pre-Maccabean (1949, p. 246). However, there is no positive proof that The Book of Enoch existed as early as the time of Jude (Barnes, 1949, p. 400), or that it can even be traced back as far as the third century (Woods, 1962, p. 399). It is thought to have been written in Palestine. David Childress gave an overview of the history of The Book of Enoch:
The apocryphal Book of Enoch the Prophet was first discovered in Abyssinia in the year 1773 by a Scottish explorer named James Bruce. Bruce, a sort of 18th Century Indiana Jones, may have seen the Ark of the Covenant at Axum (or its copy, as we surmise), and was able to obtain the ancient Coptic Christian text, approximately 2,000 years old. In 1821The Book of Enoch was translated by Richard Laurence and published in a number of successive editions, culminating in the 1883 edition (2000, p. 328).
James C. VanderKam, in his book, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition, claimed that Jude (in verses 14-15) quoted 1 Enoch 1:9 (1984, p. 110), and at first glance, that appears to be a correct assessment. First, consider Jude 14-15:
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Now notice the wording of 1 Enoch 1:9:
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Several points should be considered about Jude’s citation of Enoch’s prophecy. Because it is so difficult to date the origin of The Book of Enoch, and because numerous portions of the book suggest that the writer was influenced heavily by the New Testament, Guy N. Woods, commentating on Jude, wrote:
There are sharp variations between the statement allegedly cited by Jude and the actual statement as it appears in Jude. There is more reason for supposing that the book of Jude is older than this so-called “Book of Enoch” and that the author quoted from Jude rather than Jude from him! In the same fashion that Peter knew that Noah was a preacher, that Lot was vexed in Sodom, and that Paul knew the names of the Egyptian magicians; Jude learned of Enoch’s prophecy—by inspiration (1962, p. 399).
Let us assume, for the sake of our study, that The Book of Enoch existed at the time that Jude wrote, and that Jude really was referencing it. Simply because Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy and approved it, does not necessarily imply that Jude certified the entire collection of Enoch’s writings as inspired of God. The Greek word translated “prophesied” in Jude 14 is propheteuo, a word that is used on only one occasion in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7) for a citation of an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 29). The cognate Greek noun prophetes, which relates to the verb propheteuo, was used by Paul to refer to a heathen poet (Titus 1:12). There is no evidence, then, that Jude referred to Enoch’s prophecy as an inspired work. Why, then, did Jude mention The Book of Enoch? He recognized that the prophecy of Enoch had turned out to be a true prophecy. Jude never gave indication of what he thought of the remainder of The Book of Enoch.
Many times in Scripture, inspired writers use other sources of information; sometimes these sources are inspired, and sometimes they are not. For an example, one occasion when an inspired writer used an uninspired source is in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where Paul apparently made a reference to Jewish legend to support his own inspired interpretation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Lenski, 1937, pp. 392-393). On other occasions (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12-13), Paul quoted from pagan poets to support his own assertions, and even told his audiences that the specific portions of the pagan writings he referenced were accurate. Did Paul claim that these extrabiblical materials were inspired? Certainly not. Paul used supporting materials that would have been meaningful to his audiences. The noncanonical works that were cited by New Testament authors were highly respected. The fact that Paul used noncanonical sources to add an extra dimension to his message should not motivate us to regard any of Paul’s writings as inferior, or to totally disregard them. The same is true in the case of Jude’s epistle.
Further, Jude did not necessarily imply that Enoch saw into the future to predict attitudes or actions of the sinners under consideration in the epistle. All that is necessarily implied in Jude 14-15 is that Enoch’s prediction happened to be descriptive of the men about whom Jude wrote (Barnes, 1949, p. 399).
We probably will never be sure when (or if) Jude received information from earthly sources about Enoch’s writing or The Assumption of Moses. Perhaps Jude heard about it from traditional sources or from the books themselves, but this does not alter the fact that Jude was inspired of God. It is possible that the Holy Spirit, as He inspired Jude, certified that one particular portion of The Book of Enoch is correct, though not inspired. It is altogether certain, however, that despite critics’ allegations, the Bible continues to stand firm as the sole message from the Creator—always accurate and dependable.


Barnes, Albert (1949), Barnes’ Notes—James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978 reprint).
Childress, David Hatcher (2000), Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients(Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited).
Earle, Ralph, Harvey J.S. Blaney, and Carl Hanson (1955), Exploring the New Testament, ed. Ralph Earle (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press).
Guthrie, Donald (1962), Introduction to the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1970 reprint), third revised edition.
Kenyon, Frederic (1949), The Bible and Archaeology (Britain: Harper and Brothers).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1937), The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1966), The Interpretation of I and II Peter, the Three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Osburn, Caroll D. (1993), The Peaceable Kingdom (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives).
A.P. Staff (2003), “The Canon and Extra-Canonical Writings,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1972.
VanderKam, James C. (1984), Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (Washington, The Catholic Biblical Association of America).
Woods, Guy N. (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude(Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Bat “Vision” by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Bat “Vision”

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Bats often fly speedily through stalactite-filled caves and seemingly impenetrable wooded areas. For bats, one wrong move or turn can mean serious injury or death. Contrary to popular opinion, most bats possess at least decent vision. However, bats’ hearing is so sensitive that, for navigational purposes, bats use their ears more than their eyes. Bats are capable of emitting a sound that humans cannot hear. Some species use this very high-pitched, shrill tone when flying to determine what is in front of them (see “Echolocation,” n.d.). The sound bounces off objects in a bat’s path, and the bat hears the echo. Amazingly, the bat is able to determine precisely the direction he should fly in order to avoid smashing into the looming object. This process is referred to as “echolocation.” Bats also use echolocation to find food, especially flying insects.
Bats make this sound from a few, to two hundred, times per second. Do not confuse this sound with the squeaky noise you hear when you stand next to the bat exhibit at your local zoo. That noise is made by bats when they are frustrated, excited, or mating. Bats use different sounds, along with their large ears, to perform echolocation. Scientists use bat detectors to transpose the sounds to a lower frequency—one that humans can hear (see “California Underground...,” 1999). Not all bats, however, use echolocation; approximately 200 species of fruit bats in Africa, Asia, and Australia have larger eyes and are able to use their sharp vision to quickly negotiate obstacles.
Other animals, including dolphins and orca and beluga whales, use echolocation under water, like sonar signals (see “Echolocation”). The process of echolocation also has been observed in terrestrial mammals such as rodents, insectivores, Megachiroptera, and in nocturnal cave-dwelling oil birds and cave swiftlets (see Uy, 1994, p. 1; Blackshear, n.d., p. 1.). In addition, scientific research over the past fifty years has revealed that the auditory system is a major tool employed by blind humans as a means of perception.
Did the complex auditory and navigation systems of bats evolve, as many would have us believe?


Blackshear, Jim (no date), “A Research Proposal: Echolocation—How Can We Best Teach It?,”Stephen F. Austin State University, [On-line], URL: http://hubel.sfasu.edu/courseinfo/SL02/jb2echolocation.htm.
“California Underground: Bat Echolocation Station” (1999), Oakland Museum of California, [On-line],URL: http://www.museumca.org/caves/onli_echo.html.
“Echolocation” (no date), National Parks Conservation Association, [On-line], URL: http://www.eparks.org/wildlife_protection/wildlife_facts/bats/echolocation.asp.
Uy, Christine (1994), “ ‘Seeing’ Sounds: Echolocation by Blind Humans,” ed. Bridget Wagner, Tony Chen, Harvard Undergraduate Society for Neuroscience, [On-line], URL: http://hcs.harvard.edu/husn/BRAIN/vol1/echo.html.

A Response to the 21st Century Science Coalition Standards of Science Education by Joe Deweese, Ph.D. Will Brooks, Ph.D.


A Response to the 21st Century Science Coalition Standards of Science Education

by Joe Deweese, Ph.D.
Will Brooks, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by two A.P. auxiliary staff scientists. Dr. Brooks holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Deweese holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Vanderbilt University.]
Lines have been drawn and sides have been taken in Texas as scientists and educators battle with one another over whether the weaknesses in evolutionary theory should be taught in the public school system. Since 1998, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum for the sciences has remained unchanged. Now, 11 years later, revisions and updates are being made regarding many points within this curriculum, including how evolutionary biology should be taught in the public school system. The 1998 TEKS for high school reads:
The student knows the theory of biological evolution. The student is expected to: (A) identify evidence of change in species using fossils, DNA sequences, anatomical similarities, physiological similarities, and embryology; and (B) illustrate the results of natural selection in speciation, diversity, phylogeny, adaptation, behavior, and extinction (“Comparison of Current...,” 2009).
A few points can quickly be drawn from this excerpt. First, the opening sentence states that students are expected to know the theory of evolution. It does not state or even directly imply that evolution is the single true explanation for the origin of life. Second, nowhere in the statement or the remainder of the 1998 TEKS are students indoctrinated with the idea that evolution is scientific law; although, students are still expected to recognize that similarities among different species are evidence of change rather than a common creator. For 11 years, the above standard for biological education has guided middle and high school teachers in their pursuit to educate young minds. But now, evolutionists have made dramatic pushes to change what was once taught as an alleged explanation for life into nothing short of fact.
In support of the proposed changes to TEKS, the 21st Century Science Coalition has formulated five principles that they believe must be adopted into the Texas science curriculum. The Coalition’s Web site reads: “We will not allow politics and ideology to handicap the future of our children with a 19th-century education in their 21st-century classroom” (“Welcome,” 2009). The five principles are:
Scientifically sound curriculum standards must:
  1. acknowledge that instruction on evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences;
  2. make clear that evolution is an easily observable phenomenon that has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt;
  3. be based on the latest, peer-reviewed scholarship;
  4. encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to ‘strengths and weaknesses,’ which politicians have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses; and
  5. recognize that all students are best served when matters of faith are left to families and houses of worship (“Scientist Statement,” 2009, emp. added).
As of the writing of this article, over 600 men and women who currently hold faculty positions at Texas colleges and universities have signed a petition in favor of implementing these standards into Texas public school curricula. The signers include faculty members from several universities affiliated in some way with Christianity, including Baylor, Texas Christian, and Abilene Christian, among others. By signing the petition, these men and women are indicating a personal conviction that evolution is essentially scientific law and believe it should be taught as fact to middle and high school students. Further, they intend to remove from the classroom any and all references to the weaknesses of the evolutionary hypothesis. In effect, this petition and its signers are attempting to force onto unsuspecting youths an unproven idea as pure, clear fact.
The principles endorsed by the Coalition manifest several flaws. First, the Coalition claimed that “evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences” (“Scientist Statement”). This echoes the modern push for evolutionary thought to permeate all areas of science. By interpreting all things in terms of an evolutionary history, the influence of evolution becomes widespread—particularly in the biological sciences. However, there is nothing about biological science that requires macroevolutionary explanations (see discussion of macroevolution below). In fact, science can be taught without invoking macroevolution—despite what we are bullied into thinking. The biochemical, structural, developmental, and functional similarities between organisms can be explained in terms of a common Designer without the need for common descent. Both authors acknowledge that their own research in biochemistry and molecular biology is conducted without consideration of macroevolution with absolutely no detriment to its quality or its conclusions. So, biology can be understood—even researched—without requiring a context of Darwinian macroevolution. In fact, postulating common design by a Designer is a more effective working model than assuming biological structures are the result of accidental, random processes.
Second, the Coalition wants to “make clear that evolution is an easily observable phenomenon that has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt” (“Scientist Statement”). This is a very misleading statement. By using the common term “evolution,” the authors avoid clearly defining what the “easily observable phenomena” are and claim the evidence is “beyond any reasonable doubt.” (Of course, the implication is that if you doubt it—you obviously are not reasonable). This is a frequent tactic of those who would like us to assume that “all” evolution is the same.
Interestingly, the Coalition did not acknowledge the difference between microevolution (changes at or below species level using existing genetic information) and macroevolution (large-scale changes requiring new genetic information, taking place over long periods of time) in their statement. Some claim that creationists invented these terms, but they are commonly used in the scientific literature and textbooks (e.g., Erwin, 2000; Starr, 2006). While microevolution is an “easily observable phenomenon” and well documented, macroevolution is not. The term “evolution” is routinely used to refer to the combination of the two processes, and this quickly leads to misunderstanding, because while microevolution is clearly documented, the same cannot be said for macroevolution. It has been assumed by some evolutionists that the mechanisms responsible for microevolution could account for macroevolution given enough time (e.g., Erwin, 2000). However, there is much disagreement on this point. The development of new organisms requires more than changes in existing genetic information—it requires the generation of new information altogether in order to form new organs and body structures. There is no known mechanism for the spontaneous generation of new information. [NOTE: There are mutagenic processes which result in random insertions, deletions, duplications, and rearrangements. But these undirected events are typically deleterious and always insufficient for generating the information needed for macroevolution.] The situation is far more complex than the Coalition’s second statement implies.
Third, there is no argument about whether education should be based on peer-reviewed scholarship. However, there probably would be disagreement over the definition of “scholarship.” The modern “peer-review” process is not without bias. Searches of manuscript databases display a marked bias against questioning Neo-Darwinism. We completely agree that students should be kept current on the latest science, but we must remember that teaching biological science is distinct from teaching about evolution.
Fourth, the Coalition wants to change a statement in the 1998 TEKS standards calling for students in science to “analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information,” to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing” (“Comparison of Current...,” 2009, emp. added). It is argued that language mentioning “strengths and weaknesses” can be used to “introduce supernatural explanations” (“Scientist Statement”). It is interesting that this change is intended to “encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning.” So, are we to assume that valid critical thinking excludes taking account of the strengths and weaknesses of a given theory or hypothesis? In our scientific training as graduate students in the biological sciences, we were routinely encouraged to be skeptical and to question existing ideas and conclusions. This proposed change does not reflect the type of critical thinking we expect of graduate students. Why is the Coalition afraid of leaving theories open to question?
Fifth, the Coalition’s effort to ban all religious ideas from the classroom is actually a veiled attempt to dismiss the possibility of a Creator as a rational explanation of life and to keep students from analyzing the faults of evolutionary theory. Their desire to teach children that life originated via evolution goes beyond science into the realm of subjective beliefs—beliefs that cannot be tested or validated scientifically. We are told, “science must be taught in a science class”—which is precisely what those of us who believe in the Creator do—we teach science in our science classrooms. The fact is that the Universe and even life must have had a Cause and cannot be explained by “natural” means.
What effect would these proposed standards have on education? Young minds are very pliable. When scientists holding Ph.D.s in biology claim certain theories as fact, young minds are very likely to believe that those theories are, indeed, fact. And, why shouldn’t they? When the most educated, best-trained men and women speak, many teenagers cannot but listen and assume truth is being conveyed. The problem with making unsubstantiated statements (such as “evolution...has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt”) is that such statements inherently exclude alternate explanations for the origin of life. The Coalition conveniently ignores the fact that hundreds of credentialed scientists are skeptical of evolution. Proponents of evolutionary theory have bullied their explanation for life’s origin into education to the exclusion of all other explanations. They use propaganda techniques to indoctrinate young minds early in order to perpetuate this ill-conceived idea.
Science education has always been a two-faceted approach. On one side, students are taught facts, equations, and principles that research has shown to be true. For example, physics equations regarding force and acceleration (e.g., F=ma), proven biological facts such as that DNA is the genetic material, and universal principles such as that energy can be neither destroyed nor created. The other, equally important aspect of science education is instruction in the scientific method and critical analysis of information. This second facet of education has traditionally been applied in the laboratory, where students conduct experiments and evaluate their results. Both the learning of information and the development of critical thinking skills are fundamental to education at levels of both secondary and higher education. One vital component to the critical evaluation of data is the analysis of both itsstrengths and weaknesses. If weaknesses in data were ignored, untold numbers of incorrect scientific ideas would have been propagated over the years. The Coalition is in favor of removing discussion of strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary biology from the classroom. This very idea is in stark contrast to the scientific method and the principle of critical evaluation. If this standard is put into effect, it would undermine an educator’s ability to teach these aspects of science to the students. In order to properly train students, they must be allowed to use their minds, to weigh the positive and negative data, to analyze, and to think for themselves.


The 21st Century Science Coalition is not the only voice in this fight. Texans for Better Science Education is offering an alternative to the changes recommended by the Coalition (Texans for Better..., 2009). Furthermore, hundreds of scientists from universities around the world have signed Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwinism” which states, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged” (“A Scientific Dissent...,” 2009). Contrary to the opinion of the Coalition, there are many scientists who recognize the failure of Darwinism to explain the “origin of species” (and the origin of life!).
On March 27, 2009, the Texas State Board of Education approved a final draft of changes to theTEKS, which will be implemented with the 2010-2011 academic year. Who won the battle is still a matter of debate. The new TEKS, which can be accessed through the Texas Education Agency’s Web site, reads:
In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student (“Texas Essential...,” 2009).
Noticeably, the terms “strengths and weaknesses” do not appear in the new curriculum standards. However, the phrase “examining all sides of scientific evidence” was included. It appears that Texas education officials have attempted to keep both sides happy by straddling the fence on this issue. In another excerpt regarding the changes in Earth’s atmosphere, the phrase “that could have occurred” was added to produce the following final statement:
Analyze the changes of Earth’s atmosphere that could have occurred through time from the original hydrogen-helium atmosphere, the carbon dioxide-water vapor-methane atmosphere, and the current nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere (“Texas Essential...,” 2009, emp. added).
We may never know the true motivations for these changes—political, scientific, or other—but whatever the reasons, educators are left with this manuscript, the 2009 TEKS, to guide their curricula in the sciences.


“Comparison of Current 1998 Science TEKS with Proposed 2009 Recommendations to ScienceTEKS—Grades 9-12” (2009), TEKS, [On-line], URL:http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/science/SciTEKS_9_12_Comparepdf.pdf.
Erwin, Douglas (2000), “Macroevolution is More Than Repeated Rounds of Microevolution,” Evolution and Development, 2[2]:78-84.
“A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” (2009), Discovery Institute, [On-line], URL:http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/index.php.
“Scientist Statement” (2009), The 21st Century Science Coalition, [On-line], URL:http://www.texasscientists.org/sign.html.
Starr, C. (2006), Basic Concepts in Biology (Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning Publishing), sixth edition.
Texans for Better Science Education (2009), [On-line], URL:http://www.strengthsandweaknesses.org/.
“Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Subchapter C. High School” (2009), TEKS, [On-line], URL: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/science/ch112c_as_approved032709.pdf.
“Welcome” (2009), The 21st Century Science Coalition, [On-line], URL:http://www.texasscientists.org/index.html.

America’s Most Pressing Concern by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


America’s Most Pressing Concern

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Many concerns occupy the minds of those who are disturbed by what is happening to the United States: bloated deficits, oppressive taxation, alleged global warming, rampant crime, and the influx of intruders who do not share the values and worldview of Americans. What are the central issues and topics that the average American pinpoints as of greatest concern? What issues stir widespread social and political fervor? For example, in the recent election, what concerns were most important to Americans as they cast their votes? By far, the top issue among all party groups was the economy. Healthcare was #2, followed by the size and power of federal government (“Economy Top Issue...,” 2010). But make no mistake: “The economy in general and the specific economic problem of unemployment or lack of jobs far outpace all other issues when Americans are asked to name the most important problem facing the country” (“Economy, Jobs...,” 2010, emp. added).

Beyond the economy, contemplate for a moment a few of the other issues that occupy the concern of many Americans:
War in Iraq/Afghanistan
Illegal immigration
Federal deficit
Environmental issues
Energy availability
Foreign affairs
Social security and Medicare

Many other issues might be listed, but these are sufficient to make the point: Most Americans are more concerned about physical and financial matters than spiritual matters. When one contemplates the multitude of pressing concerns, it is easy to feel “scattered” and overwhelmed as to (1) what the real problem is and (2) the antidote.

While these matters certainly merit the attention and due concern of citizens, the fact of the matter is that the Founders of our Republic pinpointed a much more critical, logically prior issue. Consider the forthright remarks of three:

In a letter written to fellow Founder and signer of the federal Constitution, James McHenry, on November 4, 1800, Declaration signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton declared:
[W]hat motive can be stronger than the belief, founded on revelation, that a virtuous life will be rewarded by a happy immortality? Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added).
Consider carefully the admonitions of Founder Noah Webster regarding the indispensable nature of Christianity to the existence of our Republic:
[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.... [T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledged in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.... [T]he Christian religion ought to be received, and maintained with firm and cordial support. It is the real source of all genuine republican principles.... The religion of Christ and his apostles, in its primitive simplicity and purity, unencumbered with the trappings of power and the pomp of ceremonies, is the surest basis of a republican government.... [T]hose who destroy the influence and authority of the Christian religion, sap the foundations of public order, of liberty, and of republican government.... (1832, pp. v,247,310-311, emp. added).
The United States commenced their existence under circumstances wholly novel and unexampled in the history of nations. They commenced with civilization, with learning, with science, with constitutions of free government, and with that best gift of God to man, the Christian religion (as quoted in Scudder, 1881, p. 242, emp. added).

In his 1780 inaugural address as the governor of his home state of Massachusetts, Declaration signer John Hancock reminded his fellow citizens of the importance of Christianity to the perpetuation of the nation:

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.... A due observation of the Lord’s Day is not only important to internal religion, but greatly conducive to the order and benefit of civil society.... Manners, by which not only the freedom, but the very existence of the republics, are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion and the good education of youth (as quoted in Brown, 1898, p. 269, emp. added).
There you have it. The Founders repeatedly articulated the #1 concern—the paramount, ultimate, most pressing issue facing the nation. Without this singular, critically important quality—if America does not get this one matter correct—the economy will be the least of our worries. Stated succinctly, that all-consuming, quintessential, premiere concern is: We the citizens, and our leaders, must reinstate acknowledgement of God and His religion (i.e., Christianity), and turn to Him in humble, penitent obedience. According to the Founders themselves, the God of the Bible was solely responsible for the establishment and perpetuation of the Republic. And that national recognition is the only thing that will preserve and sustain us, as it has done for over two centuries. Even if we could snap our fingers and fix all our economic woes instantaneously, without God’s favor we remain in deadly danger. Indeed, rather than fearing terrorists or economic depression, the time has come to reinstate a healthy, sober fear of God (Proverbs 1:7,29-33; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Hebrews 10:31; 12:29—see Miller, 2003; Miller, 2009).

Unless America can get this one, critical issue sorted out; unless a sizable percentage of Americans will go back to God, Christ, and the Bible, and recognize their foremost need of receiving divine favor; unless citizens can restore moral and sexual sanity to their behavior based on Christian principles, the country is destined to destruction. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). May God bless America.


Abram Brown (1898), John Hancock: His Book (Boston, MA: Lee & Shepard Publishers).

“Economy, Jobs Easily Top Problems in Americans’ Minds” (2010), Gallup, September 21, http://www.gallup.com/poll/143135/Economy-Jobs-Easily-Top-Problems-Americans-Minds.aspx.’

“Economy Top Issue for Voters; Size of Gov’t. May Be More Pivotal” (2010), Gallup, October 26, http://www.gallup.com/poll/144029/Economy-Top-Issue-Voters-Size-Gov-May-Pivotal.aspx.

Miller, Dave (2003), “Who Believes in Hell Anymore?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2258.

Miller, Dave (2009), “God’s Fierce Anger,”  http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2242.

Scudder, Horace (1881), Noah Webster (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.).

Steiner, Bernard (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers).

Webster, Noah (1832), History of the United States (New Haven, CT: Durrie & Peck).